Monday, December 30, 2019

You go, girls. You go.

Never ever count old ladies out, just because they are old. They still have the power.

This has been up and out there for some time and many of you bloggers have seen/heard this. 

Here, at this turn of the year, we all need to giggle, remembering the resilience we have that never goes away. We need to hold on to the thought that God gives us what we need when we need it.  He gave these ladies this with  full force.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Before and After of Christmas

So much for Halloween candy.

Christmas always comes to an abrupt end, it seems. For 2 1/2 solid months, the stores have been draped with garlands, dripping bright ornaments, while Halloween candy is in shopping cart marked "50% off". Carols of all types have been playing in a loop, but for some reason they have been classier this year.

Celebrating and loving with our family is a wonderful year long fest. So, pick up all that wrapping paper, down the eggnog, and finish up all those little chores.

Here is before:
Walmart sells everything.

Here is after:

after the Christmas rush
half off sale gift wrap
Get'm while they're hot!

But, no one sees what is really left behind:

Dump site for carts from all stores
There were mountains of shopping carts tossed in the field.
After a month or so, these were all gone. 
Christmas is over, yes, but we will continue rejoicing for the entire year. 

After all, Christmas is only 11 months and a few days away.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

December 24, Battle of the Bulge, 1944

Kinkeade village under threat of danger
Our Christmas tree has been up since the beginning of November because we wanted to put it up. Our Thomas Kinkade Christmas village is nestled under the tree. 

With our peculiar sense of humor, we placed a polar bear statue in the middle of this idyllic world. The townspeople are unaware of what lies in wait for them.

We can afford to be silly like this. We are in our house, safe and warm. Nothing lies in wait for us or threatens us.

With all the Christmas celebrating we will do or decorations that blink around us, the calendar and history reveal to us more about our time on earth.

December 16, 1944 marked the start of the Battle of the Bulge and its month long battle in the Ardennes region of Belgium.  This battle resulted in the deaths of 75,000 soldiers. Nearly 19,000 were from the 101st. They were surrounded by Germans, helpless. Being vital, being pivotal, 101st Airborne Division held onto their precarious part of history.

Brutally cold, with temperatures dropping to just below zero, 101st were alone, cut off from help, rations, and warm clothing. Dug in the snow, troops struggled to stay alive. They were down to the last few rounds of ammunition.

Christmas eve, December 24, 1944, was the day when Allied troops and air support broke through crippling weather front that had isolated troop 101st Airborne. That day made a difference. The 101st made a difference.

Christmas morning in 1944, seventy-five years ago, shows just how brave men grasped, clutched, and carried history all the way to us.


While we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ's birth, also celebrate and honor the courage and sacrifice given by the 101st Airborne Army Division. God provided for their needs, kept them alive.

An excellent movie, Battleground, is praised by the military that fought there.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Sing! Sing! Christ is born!

Christmas is here! Merry Christmas!

YouTube Acapella 

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Christmas is near! Christmas is here!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Snow! Glorious Snow! Ha.

Snow holds no mystery for us as we have experienced it for our entire lives until we got married and fled. But then my husband was a TA at Iowa State University. Snow swept across the prairie and locked us in at any given time.

Victorville... my home town.  There is something majestic about Joshua trees that take forever to grow, standing against a brilliant blue sky with white clouds... it makes me miss living in the high desert.
Victorville, California

And then...

We dwelled in Victorville, California, in the Mojave Desert, a hellish wasteland. Surrounded by flat fields of sand, sagebrush, scrubs, and tumbleweeds, our family grew there for seven years. When the temperature plummeted to 94 deg. F/37 C., it felt like we needed jackets.

And then....

We moved to Ireland then where there was rain every day.  It was joyous, for the world was green and lush. Sadly, we lived there for only a few years.

And now...

Now we are enjoying a fairly even climate and enjoying the beauty of our area.  But, we miss some of the spring, all of the fall, and maybe a nibble of winter from Illinois. Summer in the Midwest is not missed at all.

And then...

My son John married Arlette in Chicago at December 4, 2016, with both families all around. What we also experienced was an unexpected taste of winter.

Just a taste, a beautiful taste was all we needed.

A cemetery was across the street from our really cool hotel. When
we arrived , I promised our gr-daughters we would explore
it tomorrow.

And then...

The next day we woke up to see snow, it was glorious.

The table on the balcony was pure and smooth.

Our gr-daughters were thrilled when the snowflakes began
to fall. 

And then the next day, we left the snow behind and flew
to LAX. The diamonds of light lay down below, making Los Angeles 
truly resemble where angels might actually have been.

God created snow, rain, desert, etc. He has a plan for us, for what awaits us. 
Snow? It is all part of the plan, just like barren wilderness or swamps, it is all part of His plan.

So, I guess we have to go with "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow."

Monday, December 16, 2019

Fire in the Trees

How to survive a Maine winter
We lived in Illinois, thankfully.
When cold blows in from Canada, pushed up by warm wind from Texas, snow happens suddenly and furiously.  Only older siblings, big enough to sink only to the knee and then leap into the snow face first, could rejoice.

For two small children, enjoyment was peering out through icy panes and wishing.  Mom…Mom…Mom…Can we go outside, too?  Mom? Mom?  Mom relented only when Mom became unbearable.

Two and four years old, Mary and Bill were wrapped, bundled, booted, and mittened, then given instructions:  Stay on the porch.  Both nodded solemnly.

Mom stood at the kitchen door, staring through the lacy ice crystals at five children enjoying the snow.  Then Bill launched off the porch into deep white sea. Bill, she sighed. 

Stomping out the door, Mom grabbed him by scruff of his coat and pulled him up.  Then Mary whispered, “Mommy!  Mommy!  Look!  Fire in trees!  Fire in snow!”

Fire in the trees?  In the snow?  She beheld glorious cardinals perched in bare trees.  Fiery cardinals with black masks.  Brave cardinals in frigid air.

Fire in the Trees
Mom hollered, “You kids get in here.  Been out long enough!”  But she continued to watch until fire became scarlet birds winging over snowy horizons.  

For those bloggers in the beginning of a long winter, this story is about the snow of 1958, which has been called the mini-ice age.  Keep warm, enjoy the beauty as much as you are able, and Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Apocalyptic Christmas Gift

How To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse: The Complete Guide To Urban Survival, Prepping and Zombie Defense. by [Jackson, Ben]
2016 was a momentous time for us. After my husband's mother died, we felt a tie being broken. That was when we decided we could move. We had been in our house for 27 years, our children were adults far away, and we needed to be in a community where we could settle for our (hopefully long) senior years.

Box after box, Goodwill trips, trash bins were all part of the experience until we handed our life over to the moving company. Soon our new house was a wall of boxes.

Finding another box to unpack had become routine in our new house. At first there would be a "OhLookatThis!" then there would be a moment of discovery and/or disappointment.  With big sighs or sadness, the box was either unpacked OR closed up to be pitched out.  When will  this stop, I had asked.  When. Will. This. Stop.


This was one of the many strange boxes, one that had been hidden in garage rafters, where dust and mites had settled.  Movers had followed blind orders and brought this one to here. On the lid of a battered cardboard box  were words written in our son’s peculiar handwriting, with his peculiar humor. This was a Christmas present for his father.

“If Zombies or commies or Red Chinese attack or Christmas 2013 comes first: Break the seals and open.  Open and prepare your body for Thunder Dome (That is probably the new law).”

I did open the lid, but all the warnings did not come to fruition. Written upside down (for the unfortunate opener) were directions:

(on one side) “These are for laundry, tourniquets, and needless hangings” with an arrow pointing down.

(next side) “Done cleaning? Make your broom do double duty to kill zombies.” Arrow pointing down.

(Last side) “ Instrumental CD which was a combination of music from Jaws + Dune + 1812 Overture.

Strangely, the only contents of the box missing were only the broom (s), but included two pair of binoculars.  And it did include some awesome knives, which were apparently the real present for his father that Christmas.  

Our son has grown to have a successful life and career, become a husband and father. and has maintained his peculiar sense of humor. 

Do we still have some boxes? I know that we do, but it may take a while to find them.  And then what, I ask. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

December Winter and Our Old House

Our old house
“An old house is a cold house” and all farming families knew this to be true.  Cold seeped through every crack and crevice, between lathing and ancient plaster, around windows, even through the electric outlets, and our own old house was no exception.

Vacant since before electricity and plumbing, our old house was barely livable, but we would be moving in the second day of September.  After tremendous effort, only the first floor would barely meet our needs, with the second floor having only one bulb.

Winter was brutal that year.  Deep snow surrounded our house, challenging every board and window. Non-insulated water pipes froze along with the newly laid septic line. Now that 1958-59 winter was called the "mini-ice age".

It took our strong parents who had lived in other old houses to stoke coal and oil in kitchen and front room heaters, cover every bed with elderly wool quilts, and surround us five children with warmth and family.

In evenings, we all gathered together in the front room with books, blankets and sweaters, and an ancient black and white television. Nothing was different to us children.  This was life as we knew it. 
Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sitting, people standing and child
Robert, Mary, Don, Bill, and me 1959
Even though upstairs was bitter cold enough to freeze a glass of water solid, our house sheltered us while layers of wool warmth covered three older children sleeping there. Below, our parents, with toddlers, slept in the darkness of a December winter.

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people sitting, child and indoor
At Grandma's house
front: Robert, Bill, me
back: Don, Mary, Dad, Mom

I confess that my eyes are tearing up as this is being written.  Images sharp as the day our lives were lived out in this old house linger before me.  The wool quilts, heaters where we stood, and the laughter echoing in hollow walls surround me.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Santa! Oh, Santa, you rascal!

Santa and Satan
The year 1959 was a year of change for my family.  We moved onto a farm where we would live until 1995.  So many adventures and so many memories arise from that time.

But, here is one memory that we were fortunate to miss.  I never knew that side of Santa Claus’ life, which apparently originated from Mexico. “Santa Claus”, produced in 1959, and translated into English.  


Santa is preparing for his yearly journey at his Toyland Castle in space.  While children helpers from all over the world sing,

Santa plays the organ while leering at the screen. 

Merlin the Wizard does a little hop-dance to check stuff out at his magical telescope, fitted with a creepy blue eye.

Santa and Merlin the Wizard

Mechanical reindeer
When he needs help, Merlin the Wizard gives Santa a special powder to induce sleep and a magic key to open any door. Vulcan provides Santa with mechanical reindeers.

Nothing goes well or holds a modicum of possible logic.

YouTube trailer

YouTube in its entirety. 1 hour and 34 min. 

The movie is thoroughly ridiculous, Santa Claus is totally creepy, to the level that it feels like someone should report him.  You may watch the film in its entirety on YouTube if you are a glutton for punishment.  Fast-forward would be essential here.

So why did I post this?

We saw this at the theater in RiffTrax presentation. Movies of this lack of quality are narrated by the three guys from Mystery Space Science 3000. They bring a level of satire to this movie.  This is why I pulled this one out of my vault of Christmas movies.

Plus, Alex Cavanaugh recommended the RiffTrax movies generally because they are ludicrous.  I trust his judgment implicitly. 

P.S. On-screen text narrated immediately before "The End":

Blessed are those who believe
For they shall see God...

Go figure.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Peace or War or Peace

The world was tired of war.  When WW1 came to an end in 1918, people were ready for wrapping up their countries in a tight blanket and looking inward. 

Post image
Peace or War
As America recovered from the Depression, economy was up and down. Talk of war was hovering in the air, but it was "over there in Europe", it was their problem.

Newspaper headlines as Britain and France went to war with Germany 100 years ago...

Cost of living

Wizard of Oz facts from 1939
Wizard of Oz 1939

No to War

A day never forgotten

TV for all

YouTube authentic film Pearl Harbor

Dec. 11, 1941
 The blanket had to be unwrapped, people were enraged. So the world had to look around, again. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Oh, the Sin! The Decadence!

Carnival Cruise Chocolate Melting Cake
In 2016 we took a cruise, and personally, it was pretty good. For me it was a great way to get away and relax. I did fall down on the first day and develop a concussion.   It is a long story to tell another time.

Even so, the food was super excellent and every night for dinner I had this most amazing dessert. I had the dessert that many people enjoy when they go on a Carnival Cruise, I had their chocolate melting cake that just cries out to be eaten. You may know this as chocolate lava cake, and honestly it is amazing. It didn’t matter what else they were serving for dinner, this is what I wanted.

Did you know that these are very easy to prepare, and if you are hosting a dinner party, you will look amazing when you serve one of these chocolate desserts. Jean-Georges Vongerichten may not have been the originator of this recipe, but he certainly made this dish popular in the 1980s. This cake is done on the outsides, but the inside a filled with melting warm chocolate batter that you will love.

A lot of people serve this dish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. While it does add something nice to the dish, I have served this many times without that scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Use only the ingredients as listed. You can’t use margarine, it won’t turn out as well. You need to buy a good quality bar of dark chocolate. I find this chocolate in the baking section of the grocery store. Don’t use milk chocolate, you will end up with enough sweetness to throw everyone into a sugar comma. I also like to start out with all of my ingredients at room temperature, I think it makes mixing everything up together go better.

If you are concerned about the eggs, please consider using eggs that pasteurized.

You really do need to let this rest in the refrigerator before baking. The texture will be better. I really suggest using ramekins for this dessert. This way you can make individual portions. These dishes are inexpensive, and you can also do things like bake eggs in them as well.

6 ounces baking chocolate (ideally 60% cacao)
2 whole eggs
2 ] egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons butter for ramekins
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

In a small bowl melt together chocolate and butter in the microwave. Melt for 30 seconds and stir, and repeat until chocolate and butter are melted. Whisk together eggs and sugar until they are lighter in color and foamy. Add melted chocolate to egg mixture. Stir in vanilla extract, salt, and flour. Spread butter in ramekins to grease the dishes. Pour batter into dishes.
Cover dishes with plastic and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, you can refrigerate these for up to 4 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 12 to 15 minutes. The tops will be firm, but the insides will be melting. Dust with powdered sugar, and serve with a scoop of ice cream if desired.
Calories: 759kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 61g | Saturated Fat: 37g | Cholesterol: 184mg | Sodium: 509mg | Potassium: 393mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 1245IU | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 8.2mg
Yes, I know the nutrition write up is utterly sinful. It is a once in a few days fest of eating.