Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Overwhelming Aromas of Shopping

I found this picture on line.  It kind of give the feeling of how fast I was
walking.  Well, not that fast.  :-)
Yesterday I experienced something that I am sure a few of you have experienced as well.  It all started at the produce department at the grocery store.  I had picked out my organic, onions, broccoli and tomatoes and was heading down the bakery aisle to see if there might be some interesting bread.  The bakery department is located next to the fish area.  I never go to the end of the aisle there because the smell of fish is disgusting.

 I take a stroll down the wine aisle and notice a woman zipping toward me.  As she passed me, I caught a whiff of a quite an unpleasant odor.  The miasma of a fresh fart filled the wine aisle.  No wonder she was walking at such a brisk pace.  I bet she let one go not far from me and did not realize that the stench was following her.  Moving quickly toward the next aisle I could not help but visualize the vaporous aura following her.  It looked like minuscule brown droplets swirling around her.

As I am walking down the next aisle, I see her again.  She is coming right at me.  We pass again and again I smell the reeking stench of flatulence.  Why is she doing this?  Maybe she can not help it.  Maybe she has a medical condition. I have convinced myself that this poor woman is not well, and that I was too quick to judge.  I decided to skip a few aisles though, so that our paths would not cross.  This woman must have had the same thoughts because she met me at the pasta aisle.  I managed to smile and nod as I held my breath.

I skipped a couple more aisles.  My focus was getting away from this woman and I had forgotten what other items I needed to buy.  When we met again in the cereal aisle, I began to wonder if I was being stalked by her.  Every time I tried a new route, she would be in there, always with the fart smell.  It became so bad that even when she was not near me, I could detect her gaseous emissions.  The best solution for me was to go through check out and leave.  She was no where to be seen but I knew she was near. The odor was still wafting past me.

Out the door, fresh air! Free at last! Free at last!  The most disconcerting part to me was the feeling of being followed.  Even when I could not see her I could smell her presence.  Was this just a big joke for her?  I got to my car and headed home.  My imagination was getting the best of me because I could still smell her noxious gasses.  I knew she had not followed me home, but the odor just clung to me.

And then I wondered??  Maybe it was not her!  Maybe the odor was not someone breaking wind in the grocery store aisles.  Maybe it is ME!  I did a smell check and came out okay.  Later that day, opening the refrigerator for some water, I was hit with the worse fart smell ever.  Was it something that I bought?  Had my grocery cart carried something that reeked of someone letting one rip that I had blamed on some poor woman who happened to pass me in the aisle?  I did the sniff test and found the culprit.  The broccoli almost knocked me over, even in its plastic container.  Just one small piece of broccoli was spoiled, but created such a horrid odor.  The borccoli was sent to the porch while I cleaned the rest of the refrigerator shelves because I swore the odor had found a home inside.

The lesson I learned from this is to not automatically think someone else has caused a problem when it could very well be me....or my broccoli.  At least I have a fresh, clean refrigerator and the broccoli has found its new home outside in the garbage bin.

Here is the broccoli in its new home.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

In Memoriam of Our Fur Family Members

It has been a bad five months for pets in our family.  In fact, it has been a sucky year.  Anyone who has had a pet and watched it die, knows how horrid and gut wrenching it is.  Pets are our family.  They give us unconditional love.  They listen and don't tell.  They are happy to see you arrive home.  Well, sometimes cats like to be aloof, but those of you who have cats, know that their ways of showing love is a bit different than dogs.  Of course, if you have a pet, I am not telling you anything you don't know.

Ari and Sarah
It started at the beginning of March.  Linda's brother-in-law (I think of him as mine, too.  We are a close and blended family.) lost his cat Sarah.  I met Sarah a number of times because Sarah and her brother, Ari, (a golden lab) would travel across the country with Danny.  He lives in Eugene with most of his family in Ohio.  Sarah was a visiting cat in Birmingham that Danny got permission to adopt.  When they stopped by my sister's, Sarah was the perfect guest (as well as Ari) and played well with Linda's kitty, Amelia.  We miss Sarah.

At the end of March little Poppy died.  Poppy was a sweet Puggle, half pug and half beagle.  It was Thanksgiving 2004 that Poppy joined our family.  I had found someone who bred puggles and told Maggie.  The puppy would be ready for a home when we celebrated Thanksgiving.  This was Maggie's first dog and oh how she loved Poppy.  Poppy got twice as much love after Maggie married Mike.  They took Poppy everywhere, camping, hiking and bike riding.  Linda had gotten Poppy a small cart to attach to a bicycle and so she was able to enjoy being with Maggie and Mike while they rode the bike trails.  The one thing Poppy did not like was the opossum that wanted to take residence in their yard.  Maggie would always have to check to see if the opossum was in the yard before letting Poppy out.  We miss you, Poppy.

Abby and Beau
In June, my nephew's dog, Beau, died.  Beau was a rescue dog and joined the family as an adult.  He was the protector of the family, especially my niece, Abby.  They were such good buddies.  I don't know how old Beau was, but my guess is that he was around 12 or 13.  He had a long and good life for an English Bulldog.  I think the pictures will show his attachment to Abby and the family. We miss you, Beau.


At the end of June, my great niece, BreAnn and her brothers, Lukas, Dalton and Ethan lost their dog Stewy.  I don't know how old Stewy was, but he was the family dog when she was still in school.  She found him on line and convinced her parents to buy him.  It was a great decision.  He brought lots of laughs and love to everyone.


To make a sad week even sadder, the cat, Pouncy, who lived where BreAnn worked, died.  Pouncy was one of those cats that a business loves having because he was friendly to everyone and people would always check in to visit Pouncy.  This is just too sad.  We miss you Stu and Pouncy.


In July, my nephew's other dog, Spike died. He was 12 years old.  Nathan and LeeAnne got Spike as a puppy.  My mother drove with them to someplace in Michigan to get him.  She always talked about how he was just a little ball with a cute face looking at her as they drove home.  Spike loved everyone and loved to greet us with a warm, wet (very wet) lick, preferably on the face.  I remember one Thanksgiving (our house was where we gathered for Thanksgiving) Beau found Rosie.  Rosie was the bear that Audrey had created at a visit to Build a Bear the day before.  Spike was having a great time tossing little Rosie into the air, catching her and then shaking her with his wet slobbery mouth.  Audrey was such a little girl then, and was was mortified.  Nathan managed to rescue Rosie and after a trip through the dryer, Rosie was fine.  Spike also drove to Pennsylvania with LeeAnne, to keep her company at her new job.  He made being separated from the family a little easier.  We miss you Spike.
Pretty Amelia

And then, last night, Linda sent me a text.  I was expecting it but did not want it to be true.  Her little grey princess kitty, Amelia, died.  Linda had planned to go to her Pike High School 50th reunion that day in Indianapolis.  She called me and said she could not go.  Amelia was not doing well.  I offered to come and stay with Amelia, but I knew from Linda's voice that nothing would get her to leave Amelia.  Amelia was old.  She was fragile.  We are not sure how old she was because she wandered into Linda and Geoff's life as an adult.  Geoff did not hate cats, but he was not a cat lover like Linda and I are.  Amelia walked into their yard as they were talking to their neighbors, George and Lynn.  George loved cats and tried to get Amelia to come to him.  I am sure you know where Amelia went...she went straight to Geoff.  Later, Geoff told Linda that he should put some food out for that little cat in case it was hungry.  And you know the rest of the story...Amelia found a loving home and became Geoff's buddy.  She was a great traveling kitty, too.  They would take her to the cottage, a five hour drive, and Amelia was the perfect traveler.  After Geoff died, Amelia spent a lot of time on her Princess Pillow which was a pillow on someone's lap.  Usually Linda had the Princess Pillow, but Amelia also like sitting on Nana's (Maxine) lap purring as mother brushed her grey fur.  We miss you, Amelia.

Despite all of the sadness, there is a positive.  In walks Felicitas.  (I love the name.)  Last month while my sister was visiting Nathan, a stray cat came to his yard.  When you see her picture you will understand why beautiful is an understatement.  Linda and Nathan put pictures on line for lost and found animals and also checked the neighborhood to see if anyone had lost a cat.  Nathan could not keep the cat because at that time both of their dogs were still living.  They were also in the process of moving, so another animal in the house would not work.  Linda said she would take Filly home until a permanent home was found for her.  No one could believe that this beautiful, friendly kitty would not have a home.  Linda took Filly to the vet to get checked and also check for a chip.  No luck.  But I think it was luck...or maybe it was the mystery of cats.  Filly found a new loving home and Amelia was able to die knowing that Linda would have another kitty to watch over her.  I have not met you yet, Filly, but I already love you.

Felicitas (Filly)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Happy Birthday, Rae.

Rae sitting at the Firefly table before we built
the structure for it.
Hi Rae,
Today, July 2, 2017, would have been your 80th birthday.  I miss you.  Ray misses you.  Your family and friends miss you.  I am not sure you ever knew what a positive impact you had on so many people.  Today I have a birthday present to celebrate your life.  We have the perfect structure built at Cuyamungue Institute where people can go have a smoke.  We have named it Rae's Firefly in your honor.  I have already written two posts about this building so I won't say anymore about it.  Today I want to share the pictures we took showing Zac all of the places you loved when you would spend time at Cuyamungue Institute.

I invited your grandsons, Zac and Shane, to come to Cuyamungue and experience the place you loved.  Shane was unable to come, but hopefully will make it next year when Zac returns.  I can not speak for Zac, but I do think he was able to feel the energy of the Land.  He even spent the night sleeping in the Casita which was one of your favorite places to sleep.  Later, just like you, he moved down to Cities of Gold where he could take a 'real' shower.

This is the Casita where Zac spent the night.  Rae, Stephanie and I would put cots out on the patio and sleep under the stars
looking at the constellations (and sometimes fighting mosquitoes).
This is the Thunderbird Lodge.  I am showing Zac the small shrine for the Owl that watches over the entrance.
This is the Bear statue that some artist built for Cuyamungue Institute.  We have the Rae's Firefly sign on display for this picture but it will be posted at the structure.  These are the board members and Zac, Bruce and Ray.
We did not stay here (Buffalo Thunder) this time (no rooms available) but Rae, Stephanie and I would sometimes get a room there with a balcony. Zac and Ray are saluting the art of Buffalo Thunder.  This sculpture was created by George Riviera. 

This is the back of Cities of Gold where we often stayed.  It is a few (well quite a few) steps down from Buffalo Thunder (a Hilton Hotel) but has the basics we need and the WiFi is free.  Rae loved it here.  We took Zac on her usual walk to the Cities of Gold Casino across the parking lot, and we all played a few slots for about fifteen minutes and then headed to another of Rae's favorite, The Big Rock Casino in Espanola.  I forgot to take a picture of us there.  It has a big rock out front.  Rae, Stephanie and I would touch it before going in, hoping it would bring us good luck.

Here is Rae posing with the rest of us a few years ago.  She loved the bear sculpture.
Rae, Stephanie and I are at the ridge after greeting the sun.  We look to the east and wait for the sun to rise above the mountains  Rae loved sitting on this bench soaking up the morning sun.
Zac is looking west from the ridge where we greet the sun each morning.  I think we all felt Rae's energy.  This was another of  Rae's favorite places.  The wind seemed to whisper to us as Zac spread some of his Grandma Rae's ashes at the ridge and I swear I heard gravely laugh.

 Rae, I wanted to end this post with Zac looking at the Land, the place you loved so much.  I know your spirit was with us as we stood on the ridge and that it was your laugh that I heard in the wind.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sign of the Firefly

We just returned from our annual trip to New Mexico so I could attend the board meeting of The Cuyamungue Institute.  Last year I was greeted by a new structure (almost finished) that Paul had built with the money donated by Rae LeCompte's friends.  I wrote about this structure, Rae's Firefly last June.  This post will be the second part of the story.

If you had read the other post, you know that Rae's Firefly is a structure built for people to have a place to smoke.  This is the only place smoking is allowed at the institute as it is a desert area and at high risk for fires.  Rae would sit out at a table under a raggedy umbrella when she wanted a smoke. There was never enough shade to protect people sitting with her as the umbrella was usually hanging to one side never wanting to click into place.

 It was quite the pathetic area, and yet, that is where people gathered.  Rae was a people magnet and there were always vibrant conversations, colorful language and lots of laughter.  Too often though, the brutal sun caused short discussions during the day.  Once the sun set behind the Jemez Mountains the Firefly was the unofficial meeting place.

I was afraid that in a few years people might forget the story of Rae's Firefly and that it would become just a place where people could smoke.  What we needed was a sign.  This is where my two talented friends saved me.   April 28th is when I got the idea about a sign.  Who could help me make a sign?  Well, no....who could make the sign for me. Bambi and Pottsy!!  I sent them a text asking if they had time to do this.  Within a few minutes I received answers from both that they would love to make the sign and would donate it.

                  What kind of design would look right?  Here is a picture of the structure.

Paul and I playing guitars at Rae's Firefly
 The sign would have to fit the area.  Most of the pictures of fireflies that I found were either cartoon characters or pictures of actual firefly bugs.  I was getting frustrated until I discovered this picture.

 (I don't know who designed this and would love to give them credit but I can not find it now.)  It was perfect!  Rae always wore a Zuni bear necklace and also carried a small bear fetish.  There is also a bear statue at the institute where we often go for group pictures.

One side of Rae's necklace.

This is the side Rae always had showing.  If you
look carefully, you can see some of the stones
are missing.  

Bambi and Pottsy set to work.  I knew I had not given them much time, but they are miracle workers and soon called to set up a lunch date at Henry's in Kenton, OH where we often meet.  It is a halfway point for us.  After a fun lunch and getting updates on each of our lives, I finally got to see their creation!  Oh my, it was perfect!

Bambi, Pottsy and me holding Rae's Firefly sign.
 They also had a cute cartoon firefly on the back corner that said, "Snuff your butts."  They told me that coyote sneaked in when they were making the sign and "made" them put that little cartoon firefly on the back. (Coyote is known as the Trickster in many legends.)
This was just so cute I had to post it twice.

How fortunate am I to have two talented friends like this?  Of course, they knew Rae and loved her like so many of us do.  Thanks to Bambi and Pottsy, we now have a sign for Rae's Firefly.  I have to disagree about the Coyote energy though.  I think there was also a bit of Rae's energy guiding you to paint that cute little firefly on the back of the sign.  I can hear her gravelly laugh now as her spirit smiles at Rae's Firefly, happy to have a place where friends and students can gather to tell stories and share tobacco.

We are standing in front of the structure, Rae's Firefly.  Paul, Zac and I are holding the sign.  Zac was able to join us this summer, at the board meeting, to see the place his Grandma Rae loved.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Remembering Bobby on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day we honor those who have died in service to our country.  So why do I  post one of my mother's wedding pictures?  I know, it is blurry, but I do not have the energy to sort through all of the boxes of Mother's pictures to find a better one.  So, why do I use this picture for Memorial Day?  My parents were not married on Memorial Day and my father survived World War II.  You have probably figured it out by now.

The little boy, the ring bearer, was my mother's cousin.  He served in Vietnam and did not return.  I am posting a newspaper article that state the facts.  The facts are secondary to the family, though.  I have to admit that Bobby and I only saw each other  a couple of times a year (if that) while I was growing up. It was a long six to seven hour drive to visit my mother's side of the family.  He was nine years older than I, so we really did not hang out together when we would visit.  I do remember that I had admired him.  He was always kind and put up with his little cousin.  I am sure, that at six years old I could be quite a pest. By the time I was ten, Bobby was in college and later got married.

My grandmother kept us informed about all of the aunts, uncles and cousins through letters that she sent us at least twice a week.  So, when we received a call from her on a February evening in 1968, we knew it was bad news.  Bobby was missing in action.  Missing in action?  He was a pilot and his plane was shot down February 14th.  My grandmother told us that the same thing happened to her when my uncle was missing during WWII for a few days.  We all hoped that we would hear good news about Bobby, maybe he parachuted out of the plane and would soon be found.

Missing in action has no ending.  Each letter we received from my grandmother ended with these words, "Still no news about Bobby."  I often would open her letters before my parents got home and would just go to the last page hoping to see a different message.  But I knew that if there had been good news we would have gotten a phone call.

When the Viet Nam Memorial was built those who were missing in action were noted with a plus or cross sign (+) after their names.  Bobby's name is engraved on the wall, Panel 39 E, row 6.  A plus sign was next to his name...missing in action.  Year after year...missing in action.  When my grandfather died, Bobby was still missing in action.  My grandmother died and still....missing in action.  No end, no answer.  My father died, still no word. Was he alive?  Was in a prisoner of war?  If he was alive, what was happening to him?   No end,  no answer...missing in action.

I often wondered, "If I am feeling this way, how are Bobby's parents and brother and sister, and his wife feeling?"  I could not imagine the sadness.  When the war was over, Bobby did not return.  Bobby was not among the prisoners of war.  Bobby was....missing in action.  War is cruel and this is the cruelest.

Nearly twenty three years later, Bobby's parents received word that his remains had been recovered. On November 29, 1990, U.S. officials announced that remains repatriated in September, 1990, had been positively identified as those of Robert C McMahan. After 22 years, McMahan had come home.  Now the grief could begin.  No more wondering, no more hope.  But now the truth, no matter how sad.

When the remains of a Missing in Action soldier  are found, the plus sign on the Memorial Wall is filled in to  look like a diamond.  Now Bobby's name has a diamond shape after it.

On this Memorial Day, I honor my cousin, Bobby, and all of the other men and women who have died or are missing in action in the service of our country.  One death touches so many, not only immediate family members, but also pesky little cousins.

The article below tells the facts and also touches on the sadness of the family.

Here are some links with more information about Bobby.
The Military Honor Roll

Monday, July 18, 2016

In Mint Condition

A couple of weeks ago I offered to help my friend, Ann, prepare for her daughter's baby shower.  The shower was being planned by Ann's sister, Sharon and Sharon's daughter, Sarah.  It was decided to have the shower at Ann's place because it was more centrally located.  Sarah lives in Seattle and Sharon lives two and a half hours from Ann's, so Ann was helping with the preparation.  A few days before the shower Ann called me while she was searching for a few last minute items.

"Do you know where I can find some good mints for the shower?  I have looked everywhere and just can't find any that I like."

My ears perked up at the word "mints" and before I could stop myself, these words tumbled from my mouth, "Why don't we make them?  I have an old family recipe.  Linda and I made mints for Maggie's (my niece) wedding and everyone loved them!"

"You know how to make mints?  Is it difficult?  Do we have time?"  Ann had good reason to question our ability at making mints as we have had a few other adventures in creating interesting treats.

I assured her that we could do it and told her the ingredients that we would need. (Well, I had to get the recipe from my sister...the recipe that our mother, Maxine, sent to her thinking it would be a fun business for Linda and her friend Janie to have...way back in 1973.)  The business never started, but the recipe remained in Linda's library of cookbooks and recipes.

I arrived at Ann's early in the morning after stopping to pick up butter, powdered sugar and the "secret ingredient" (Kayro Syrup).  I brought my large Kitchen Aid Mixer because I remembered that the batter becomes really stiff and a hand mixer would not work.  The following pictures show our progress.

These are the ingredients we used.

The butter was not soft enough so I put it out on the patio table.  It was really hot outside so it did not take long for the butter to become soft.

We mixed the butter with the powdered sugar and then added the Kayro syrup.  It looks like I did not mix the butter and powdered sugar first, but dumped all the ingredients in at the same time.

 Even with the mistake of not mixing the powdered sugar and butter first, the batter worked out fine.

 This is what it looks like before adding the flavor and coloring.

The next few steps will be videos. 
In the first video I am mixing the lemon flavoring into the batter. Since Apple devices don't allow Flash videos, click on the YouTube links to see the videos. YouTube link for Mint Flavoring .

Ann will now show the proper way to add the coloring. :-) YouTube link for Mint Coloring . For some reason this video is upside down, but it doesn't hurt presentation.

We soon realized that we did not read the instructions carefully.
YouTube link to Reading Instructions Helps

The next video is short and blurry, but it explains why we decided to use the color we had. YouTube link for Coloring Mistake II

Of course, we do not know that dinosaurs are this color, but we had a choice of dinosaur molds or shell molds.  We had little square molds but they just looked like blobs of dark teal.  The next step is to put the batter or dough (not sure what to call it) into the molds.  We first....well, watch the video, it explains it much better...and Ray thinks it should be used on Saturday Night Live. YouTube link for Having a Ball

Here is the last step...rolling the balls in sugar and then placing them balls in the molds.
YouTube link to Molding Mints

The next two pictures show what our first mints, the dinosaurs looked like.  I have to stress that these really are dinosaurs...really...a T-Rex and a Stegosaurus.  Ray thinks one looks like a dancing Godzilla with a smile on its face.

 We tried a few more to see if we just needed practice or if we were going to have a bunch of mints that looked like mutated monsters.  You can see that the shells don't look too bad.  The square piece just had no personality so we decided not to use that mold.

After looking at our creations and gagging on the strong lemon scent we thought the taste would probably be too strong.  Tasting just a tiny corner of one of the mints we knew we could not serve them to anyone.  We had used too much flavoring and too much coloring.  Fortunately, we had plenty of ingredients to attempt another batch.  Since the shells were the only mold that made what actually looked like shells, we chose them.  

Here is the final creation!

The only problem with these was that the flavors did not match the colors.  We called them mystery mints. The green mints were lemon, the lavender were raspberry,  the teal were mint and the coral color was cinnamon flavored.

What we were missing was the orange flavor.  When Linda and I made mints for my niece's wedding we had an orange flavor that tasted like those Orange Creamsicles we used to get.  So, I made a few more mints so I could have the orange flavor.  I did not want to confuse people by making yellow mints be lemon (since the green ones were lemon) so the yellow ones were a caramel flavor.

I don't know if Ann and I will be making any more mints.  We had so many because each batch yields about 125-130.  It is a good thing we can freeze them.  Of course, I brought some home for Ray.  I am just glad that they turned out so pretty after our first disasters.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Schooled :-)

My mother, Maxine, would have been 97 today, July 6, 2016.  I have written a number of Maxine stories and really need to write more.  She would always have people laughing with her as she told stories; partly because she would be laughing as she told the story, and partly because her delivery was...well, just funny.

Linda is our family genealogist and has traced our family lines back many generations.  She is able to check sites like Newspaper.com to see if there are any articles about family members in the archives.  Recently, she found this, and I thought today is a perfect day to share it.  Linda and I remember this happening, but had no idea that a newspaper in Arizona would have an article about it.

Some of you who know that the roads were a lot safer when Maxine did not have a driver's license.  My father kept trying to get her to get her license so that she could at least go to the store on her own.  She did have her license for a few years when we lived out in the country in Indiana, but did not bother to get her Ohio license when we moved to Ohio.  Sad to say that after my father died at age 66, Maxine enrolled in driving school and got her license at age 67.

Here are a couple of posts I have written about Maxine's driving.  Check them out if you need a chuckle for today.

Maxine Overdrive

Maxine Overdrive Sequel