Bring Me That Horizon

Welcome to jennyweber dot com

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Home of Jenny the Pirate

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This will go better if you

check your expectations at the door.

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We're not big on logic

but there's no shortage of irony.

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 Nice is different than good.

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Oh and ...

I flunked charm school.

So what.

Can't write anything.

= Jennifer =

Causing considerable consternation
to many fine folk since 1957

Pepper and me ... Seattle 1962

  

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Belay That!

This blog does not contain and its author will not condone profanity, crude language, or verbal abuse. Commenters, you are welcome to speak your mind but do not cuss or I will delete either the word or your entire comment, depending on my mood. Continued use of bad words or inappropriate sentiments will result in the offending individual being banned, after which they'll be obliged to walk the plank. Thankee for your understanding and compliance.

= Jenny the Pirate =

Hoist The Colors

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I am a Blue Star Mother

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Insist on yourself; never imitate.

Your own gift you can present

every moment

with the cumulative force

of a whole life’s cultivation;

but of the adopted talent of another

you have only an extemporaneous

half possession.

That which each can do best,

none but his Maker can teach him.

= Ralph Waldo Emerson =

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Represent:

The Black Velvet Coat

In The Market, As It Were

 

 

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Contributor to

American Cemetery

published by Kates-Boylston

A Pistol With One Shot

Ecstatically shooting everything in sight using my beloved Nikon D3100 with AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G VR kit lens and AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 G prime lens.

Also capturing outrageous beauty left and right with my Nikon D7000 blissfully married to my Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D AF prime glass. Don't be jeal.

And then there was the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f:3.5-5.6G ED VR II zoom. We're done here.

Dying Is A Day Worth Living For

I am a taphophile

Word. Photo Jennifer Weber 2010

Great things are happening at

Find A Grave

If you don't believe me, click the pics.

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Dying is a wild night

and a new road.

Emily Dickinson

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REMEMBRANCE

When I am gone

Please remember me

 As a heartfelt laugh,

 As a tenderness.

 Hold fast to the image of me

When my soul was on fire,

The light of love shining

Through my eyes.

Remember me when I was singing

And seemed to know my way.

Remember always

When we were together

And time stood still.

Remember most not what I did,

Or who I was;

Oh please remember me

For what I always desired to be:

A smile on the face of God.

David Robert Brooks
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 Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.

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Keep To The Code

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You Want To Find This
The Promise Of Redemption

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I BELIEVED, AND THEREFORE HAVE I SPOKEN; we also believe, and therefore speak;

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4

Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it, have never known it again.

~ Ronald Reagan

Photo Jennifer Weber 2010

Not Without My Effects

My Compass Works Fine

The Courage Of Our Hearts

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Daft Like Jack

 "I can name fingers and point names ..."

And We'll Sing It All The Time
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  • Always Near - A Romantic Collection
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  • Copia
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  • The Poet: Romances for Cello
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  • Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff
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    The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion
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  • The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems
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  • On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
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  • In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms
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  • Where Are They Buried (Revised and Updated): How Did They Die? Fitting Ends and Final Resting Places of the Famous, Infamous, and Noteworthy
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  • Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays
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  • Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans
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  • Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!
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  • Good Dog, Carl : A Classic Board Book
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  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
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  • The American Way of Death Revisited
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  • In Six Days : Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation
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    Master Books
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  • Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow: The Tragic Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore
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    by Eleanor Alexander
Easy On The Goods
  • Waiting for
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    starring Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee
  • The Catered Affair (Remastered)
    The Catered Affair (Remastered)
    starring Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Debbie Reynolds, Barry Fitzgerald, Rod Taylor
  • Bernie
    Bernie
    starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey
  • Remember the Night
    Remember the Night
    starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson, Sterling Holloway
  • The Ox-Bow Incident
    The Ox-Bow Incident
    starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn, William Eythe
  • The Bad Seed
    The Bad Seed
    starring Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones, Eileen Heckart, Evelyn Varden
  • Shadow of a Doubt
    Shadow of a Doubt
    starring Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, Macdonald Carey, Patricia Collinge, Henry Travers
  • The More The Merrier
    The More The Merrier
    starring Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, Charles Coburn, Bruce Bennett, Ann Savage
  • Act of Valor
    Act of Valor
    starring Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano
  • Deep Water
    Deep Water
    starring Tilda Swinton, Donald Crowhurst, Jean Badin, Clare Crowhurst, Simon Crowhurst
  • Sunset Boulevard
    Sunset Boulevard
    starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich Von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark
  • Penny Serenade
    Penny Serenade
    starring Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Edgar Buchanan, Beulah Bondi
  • Double Indemnity
    Double Indemnity
    starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall, Jean Heather
  • Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged
    Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged
    starring Gary Anthony Williams
  • Fat Sick & Nearly Dead
    Fat Sick & Nearly Dead
    Passion River
  • It Happened One Night (Remastered Black & White)
    It Happened One Night (Remastered Black & White)
    starring Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert
  • Stella Dallas
    Stella Dallas
    starring Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, Anne Shirley, Barbara O'Neil, Alan Hale
  • The Iron Lady
    The Iron Lady
    starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Harry Lloyd, Anthony Head, Alexandra Roach
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection (4 Disc Set)
    Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection (4 Disc Set)
    starring Peter Sallis, Anne Reid, Sally Lindsay, Melissa Collier, Sarah Laborde
  • The Red Balloon (Released by Janus Films, in association with the Criterion Collection)
    The Red Balloon (Released by Janus Films, in association with the Criterion Collection)
    starring Red Balloon
  • Stalag 17 (Special Collector's Edition)
    Stalag 17 (Special Collector's Edition)
    starring William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss, Harvey Lembeck
  • The Major and the Minor (Universal Cinema Classics)
    The Major and the Minor (Universal Cinema Classics)
    starring Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland
  • My Dog Skip
    My Dog Skip
    starring Frankie Muniz, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson, Kevin Bacon
  • Sabrina
    Sabrina
    starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Walter Hampden, John Williams
  • The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer
    The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer
    starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple, Rudy Vallee, Ray Collins
  • Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
    Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
    starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport
  • Now, Voyager (Keepcase)
    Now, Voyager (Keepcase)
    starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, John Loder
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    Hold Back the Dawn [DVD] Charles Boyer; Olivia de Havilland; Paulette Goddard
That Dog Is Never Going To Move

~ RIP JAVIER ~

1999-2016

Columbia's Finest Chihuahua

Simple. Easy To Remember.

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Wednesday
Aug212019

So let's get started

Day One, Baby

Oh dear. I had no idea it had been so long since my last post, until my good buddy Sally in Florida nudged me to see why I've been uncharacteristically silent.

Well. It's like this.

Summer -- as in, the part where kids are out of school -- is winding down and we had planned for the grandchildren to come for a final few days of swimming and related merriment.

Call the roll

That took place -- and took up most of -- last week.

Included in the visit was our new tradition of shopping for school supplies, which TG and I like to buy for them.

And added to this year's list of supplies needed was Dagny's.

She started kindergarten on Monday.

Melanie and her haul

I know; right? Our Dagny, in school?

Yes. As you know, she is five, and if ever a five-year-old was more ready to start school, I would pay good money to meet said five-year-old.

As in, being bright and capable, the child needs a challenge. And, being a people-loving singleton, she craves the company of other children.

Support system

It will be good for everyone, all around, for Dagny to be occupied scholastically and socially for approximately seven hours a day, five days a week.

But all such page-turnings come with their freight of what, for lack of a better word, may be called sadness.

It's the end of babyhood; that much is certain. And although we would not want our children to remain babies, it's a source of wistfulness for parents and grandparents to realize that their littles are no longer so little.

Papaw loves Dagny

So it was that Audrey began in the late spring preparing Dagny for school, and making the necessary arrangements to begin paying for her baby's private faith-based education.

Dagny is enrolled at the same school -- a ministry of the church we attended for six years when we first moved to Columbia -- of which her Aunt Erica and Uncle Andrew are graduates.

Be true to your school

Last Thursday evening, after the children swam and we enjoyed an early dinner, no fewer than ten family members accompanied Dagny to her school for an orientation event.

(I do believe she had the largest entourage of any student there. At least, that was our aim.)

After a general informational meeting in the main auditorium, everyone peeled off to visit their classrooms.

Please be seated

We all traipsed down the hallway which houses the various kindergarten classes, to the K-5 room.

We've known Dagny's teacher for many years, so there was a happy reunion with her. She is an excellent lady and a stellar educator. A+ on that score.

We found Dagny's seat, marked with her name on zebra-striped laminated card stock, in the front row.

Mommy's girl

(A good thing, her mother remarked. Less to distract her.)

One by one we had pictures made with our angel, beaming from her tiny desk.

(It was only later that I realized we'd forgotten to get a picture of Dagny with Aunt Stephanie. But we did get a group photo with the two of them in it.)

Cousin closeness

When we'd wrung every last drop of excitement and anticipatory energy from the situation, we all emerged back into the sweltering evening and headed home.

On the way we stopped for ice cream and everything that goes along with it. Our grandson, Andrew, was in our car and as we entered the store, I reminded him to make hay while the sun shone.

As in, you're here with Papaw and he's paying, so if you want something, now's the time to speak up.

She's my angel

He requested chocolate hard shell for his ice cream, and after further consideration, picked out some marshmallow fluff for good measure. He mentioned sprinkles too but I told him we had some at home.

Andrew said he'd also like some of those little round cheeses wrapped in red paper.

Babybel? I said.

That's the one, he affirmed.

Second grade, here I come

So we secured a net pouch chock full of Babybels. Later, I asked my daughter how her boy had developed such expensive tastes in snack cheeses (usually a run-of-the-mill string cheese will do).

She said he'd been exposed to Babybel while on vacation, and that was all it took.

Turns out all the kids like Babybel. Dagny ate the last one when she stopped by to see me this evening before going home for a bath and early-to-bed.

Time to shine

I won't be replacing those. At least, not until little Andrew comes back.

Speaking of Andrews coming back ... big Andrew made it safely to Kandahar and began flying missions today. He posted a picture to Instagram of himself refueling a Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft -- the Warthog.

He'll return home in late September.

Allissa's treasure trove

Pray for Brittany, who is being brave. Any separation is difficult. She will stay busy decorating the nursery for the baby girl due in early December.

The day after orientation at Dagny's school, TG and I took all of the children, plus their mothers, to Walmart for school supplies.

We each took a kid and their list, and trolled the aisles until every writing utensil, highlighter, dry erase marker, glue stick, pencil sharpener, eraser, notebook, pencil pouch, nap pillow, pack of loose leaf paper, block of index cards, roll of paper towels, and box of tissues had been accounted for. 

This should do for now

In addition, there were cans of Play-Doh and bags of M&M's and packs of baby wipes and sundry other items that rounded out Dagny's list of necessities.

I bought Dagny and Melanie each an inexpensive dress as well. The other children wear uniforms to school.

The backpacks were well stuffed when this buying extravaganza was concluded. Do you remember when you went to school with not much more than a notebook, a pack of paper, gummed reinforcements, and a pen and pencil, and a parental reminder not to talk without first raising your hand? Me too.

We went home and had an elaborate and tasty dinner prepared by me and consumed with gusto by everyone. Followed by more swimming and more ice cream.

My Porter People

I'm pretty sure the whole thing qualifies as epic.

The North Carolina group went home on Saturday. They start school on the twenty-eighth.

Come Monday, I got up at an hour of the day when I normally have two hours left to sleep. I dressed, applied cosmetics, brushed my hair, spritzed on some perfume, put on my rings and a pair of earrings, and was at Dagny's school twenty minutes before she had to be there.

Teacher said bring M&M's

It was a cool morning and as I stood by my car and waited, I watched parents dropping off their darlings, taking pictures to memorialize the first day of school.

At last my own darling arrived, practically squirming out of her skin, so excited was she to get the school day underway.

Dagny glowed as she held aloft her Peppa Pig lunch box, which I knew contained a delicious and nutritious midday meal packed by her mother.

Make me smart. I'm already cute.

We walked our baby to the line where she was to stand with her classmates. She fell right into place. We watched as she marched obediently with them, in single file, to the classroom.

I kept going and didn't look back to see her sitting in her desk. I might have had something in my eye.

Because wasn't it only ten or fifteen minutes ago that she looked like this?

Five days ... five years

I think so. And I think that despite it being a happy day, realizing once again how swiftly the years go, made me sad.

Time is undefeated, folks. Best not forget it.

So Audrey and I went for coffee at Krispy Kreme and we may have eaten donuts. Because how could you not?

Maybe we'll make that a tradition too.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Wednesday

Thursday
Aug082019

Eye eye, sir

So here's a bit of news:

Two weeks ago, TG had surgery to remove a cataract from his right eye.

That's distinctly different from a dogaract and since we have a cat now, most appropriate.

A Cataract is also completely different from a Rincoln. 

(You know which one I drive.)

But you'd have to know my TG better than you probably do in order to appreciate the significance of him voluntarily showing up at a health care facility to undergo a medical procedure.

I've known him for over forty years and with the exception of one or two chiropractic issues over the years, a long-ago (think waning days of the Carter administration) ear infection, and the occasional sinus misery in the winter, my TG does not get sick.

He wasn't sick this time, so it was doubly strange to see him in a hospital gown, all tucked into a Stryker bed, wearing a gauzy blue shower cap, IV line in place, being fussed over by nurses who wanted to know how tall he is.

(Six foot four.)

Thus he was feeling vaguely uncomfortable only as one is prone to do when, having presented oneself at the designated place at the appointed date and time, and feeling foolish outfitted as one is required to be, one is resigned to being poked and prodded while marginally "out of it."

So it was that yesterday, TG was required to have the lens in his left eye -- which, unlike his right eye, did not have a cataract -- replaced to match the other one.

Are you confused yet?

What it amounts to is that if you get a new lens put into one eye, you have to get a new lens put into the opposite peeper.

Like, separate but equal.

It works better that way.

(I am speaking in layman's terms. In case you hadn't already figured out at least that much.)

At any rate the whole thing was easy peasy -- it takes longer for them to get you ready for surgery than to perform the surgery itself, and TG experienced nary a ghost of a twinge of pain -- but naturally the patient could not drive either a Cataract or a Rincoln after the procedure, so I was with him the whole time.

And both times -- two weeks ago, and yesterday -- he was under doctor's orders to lay low for several days following the operation.

So that's what he's doing now -- watching the golf channel, to be exact -- and since it's hot as blue blazes outside, it's just as well. Believe me.

What have I been doing?

Well. There's been this piece of paper in my life since the first surgery. Now there are two of them.

On each of the pieces of paper -- one for the right eye, and now one for the left -- is a grid showing the three separate eye drops that must be splashed into TG's eyes several times on the day of surgery and several times a day for four weeks afterwards.

Many times a day I consult the grid, find the correct day, pick out a prescribed eye drop, drip a drop of it into TG's eye, then chart what I've done by filling in a circle.

(Just like taking a standardized test. Only, there are no wrong answers unless you get the drops -- and the eyes -- mixed up. So far I'm scoring 1600.)

Five minutes after administering the first drop, I have to put in the next eye drop, and fill in another circle. Five minutes after that, we repeat with the third eye drop.

It has kept me busy.

On both days of surgery I made TG a special dinner. Yes, I make his dinner most every day but on these days I put in some extra effort.

TG loves my mashed potatoes and with mashed potatoes he loves sweet baby peas. He isn't particular about the meat portion; however, as much as he likes barbecued chicken or the odd pork chop, he prefers beef.

Two weeks ago on surgery day, with his mashed potatoes and peas, I gave him a broiled sirloin patty.

Yesterday I made my legendary meat loaf. It has been years since I made that recipe.

As with most of my personally developed recipes, it's not written down and there are no particular measurements.

But here's how I made it yesterday:

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JENNY THE PIRATE'S LEGENDARY MEAT LOAF

2 lbs. ground sirloin

1 egg

1 handful old-fashioned oats (dry)

Ketchup -- I reckon I squeeze in about one-third of a cup but I don't measure

Creole seasoning -- I use Tony Chachere's but Zatarain's is great too -- I guess about a teaspoon but again, I don't measure

Onion powder -- I guess about half a teaspoon but I close my eyes so I don't really know

Worcestershire sauce -- I suppose eight to ten shakes but who's counting

Sometimes I add a squeeze of yellow mustard but this time, I didn't. I forgot. But it's really good if you remember to do that.

Mix up all of your ingredients except for the ground sirloin. Add the ground sirloin last. Mix well and shape into a loaf (a slightly wider, flatter loaf works best).

Place into a baking dish with plenty of room all around the edges of the loaf.

Bake uncovered in a 350-degree oven for about two hours -- maybe fifteen minutes longer, depending on your oven.

The smell of this meat loaf cooking is heavenly.

With about half an hour -- give or take -- of cook time remaining, take the meat loaf out and glaze the top with a thick layer of ketchup. Do not skimp on the ketchup. Lavish it on the top until it runs down the sides real good.

Put it back into the oven to finish cooking.

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This is simple but excellent and I hope that if you make it, you and yours will enjoy it as much as TG does.

I personally like an end piece best; the edges get crispy and there's that tangy hot ketchup dripping all down.

When I brought TG his plate where he was sitting in front of the TV last evening, convalescing, and he saw the two slabs of meat loaf flanked by a creamy mountain of mashed potatoes and a generous helping of sweet peas, his new and improved eyes nearly rolled back in his head.

Later, for dessert, he had another half-piece of meat loaf and another decadent dollop of creamy potatoes (mine contain lots of butter, whole milk, and sour cream). He may have also had a cookie later.

And tomorrow, he'll eat leftovers. The cook has the day off.

And that is all for now because it's time to administer another round of eye drops.

Fingers crossed that I continue to bat a thousand in that department.

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Happy Thursday

Monday
Aug052019

Scene and heard at church

Entering the vestibule from the church auditorium after morning services yesterday, I noticed through the many windows that what had started as a sunny day, had become a rainy one.

I put away my suddenly superfluous Ray-Bans (they were already in my hand) and walked over towards where Audrey and Dagny were standing.

As I reached them, a little girl aged approximately four or five -- I didn't recognize her -- approached Dagny, asking her name.

She said she'd forgotten it and had resorted to calling Dagny "friend."

Assuming this was a carryover from interactions during children's church, I leaned down and told the child that her new friend's name was Dagny.

Then I asked what her name was.

Starla, she said.

Starla? I repeated. I love that name!

And I did. It was perfect for her.

Already walking away, being led by an adult hand, the little lass replied to my compliment.

Trust me, she said. Everyone loves that name.

True story. Every word.

I quoted Starla liberally throughout the rest of the day, and then I figured I'd better tell you about the remark.

Because it smacks of two things I prize: spirit and originality.

Anyone can sweetly say thank you. And there's nothing wrong with that; in fact, there's a lot right with it.

It's what I would have said if someone had complimented my name (which, because it is so common, no one in my memory ever has).

But Starla's rejoinder was spontaneous and illuminating and utterly lacking in the treacle upon which casual small talk so often floats.

And unbelievably cute, coming as it did from a person of her age and size.

We were still chuckling as we walked outside.

There's a generous portico where, during inclement weather, we ladies wait for our men to bring the cars up so we won't have to get any damper than necessary.

And there, someone had propped an unnervingly lifelike doll against a support column.

Seriously, it looked like a living child, wearing little clothes and sporting a dirt-smudged face.

Liking the creepiness factor, before TG arrived to collect me I whipped out my phone and took the picture at the top of this post.

You never know what you'll see and hear at church. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

So pay attention.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Monday

Tuesday
Jul302019

What's past is prologue

The old Stickney School was next door

The above picture was taken on Easter Sunday, March 29, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois.

It is of me (in the white coat), my big sister Kay, and our mother.

Here's one taken on the same day, again of me and my sister, outfitted to play in the spring snow:

Sunday Funday, Sixties style

Three weeks earlier, I had turned seven. Kay had turned eight the previous December. Mom was twenty-seven.

And again on the same morning, this one of our mother and her then-husband, Jake:

Life has a way of snowballing

Kay took that picture of them on the stoop of the building where we occupied a small apartment.

From my birth until I went to college at age seventeen, we lived in eleven states. That's not even counting the state of confusion, of which I at least was a permanent resident.

The reason I know the date and place of these pictures is that Mom wrote it on the back of the photos:

Your children will thank you for photo info

Although my childhood memories are sketchy until later than this, I remember many details of that day.

I remember being taken into a warm, fragrant coffee shop, and perched high on a stool at the counter, where I (and my sister too, I assume, although she has no memory of it) was given a donut -- the kind you selected from beneath a glass dome -- and milk to wash it down with.

And I recall that later, when we returned to our apartment which was kept in immaculate condition by our mother, Jake (we were required to call him Daddy even though that's not what he was to us and we liked him not a bit, because we were afraid of him) had gone to a lot of trouble to make it appear as though an oversized bunny rabbit had visited in our absence and left a trail of goodies for Kay and me to find and place in our baskets.

I switched places with her

In case you're wondering, he did that by obtaining some snow with dirt mixed in, and pursed the fingers of one hand together to mimic the paws of a rabbit, and dipped them in the slush, and placed "bunny tracks" on surfaces where they'd show up (such as white tile in the bath) after they dried.

So I guess he wasn't all bad (Jake, I mean. There is no Easter bunny).

It was pretty convincing. At least to a gormless seven-year-old. Anything that led to candy worked for me.

Recalling how I used to twist my hair

You can probably tell from reading this that I've been doing a little bit of research and a great deal of reminiscing. And that's because I'm working on writing a memoir.

(Yes; I've been working on it for nearly ten years. I'll thank you not to snicker.)

Which leads me to the reason I'm sharing these pictures with you today.

Studying this series of photographs late this past winter, I realized that we were coming up on the fifty-fifth anniversary of that day in late March.

Fifty-five Marches later

And I realized that twenty-five years to the day after that wintry Easter Sunday that I remember so well, my fourth child -- our son Andrew -- was born.

So I invited my mom and sister to come to Columbia on March 29, 2019, and on Andrew's thirtieth birthday we attempted to recreate the photograph of the three of us taken in Chicago fifty-five years earlier.

Four generations

(I would have loved to truly recreate it in front of the Stickney School on West Hollywood Avenue in the Edgewater district -- the building is still there, although now it houses condominiums -- but that wasn't an option.)

The building next door to the Stickney School, where we lived, was torn down in the early '70s to make way for a modern apartment complex.

Putting our slant on it

If you're interested in seeing that, click here.

Click down the street a bit -- past the UPS truck -- and you'll see the building in front of which we posed. There's a wrought-iron fence there now, about where our mother was standing.

Click to embiggen

Other than that, it's unchanged.

Lots has happened to me in fifty-five years, haaahaha. And to you, if you're old enough.

We are family

On the day my mother, my sister, and I got together to commemorate the fifty-fifth anniversary of that day in Chicago, we were joined by two of my three daughters, plus one of my three granddaughters.

Mom, Kay, Audrey, Erica, Dagny, and I first went to Sun Ming for lunch. Then we went to Irmo Town Park, where these pictures were taken of the four generations.

Spring and everything

Andrew was enjoying his thirtieth birthday elsewhere -- probably at work but he and Brittany may have been out of town. It's been four months; I don't remember it the way I do fifty-five March twenty-ninths ago.

Speaking of Andrew, he's going to be deployed again in a few weeks, to Afghanistan. There, he and other American heroes will put themselves in harm's way to defend our freedoms.

Two of my own lovely daughters

This past Sunday, fifty-five years and four months after the picture at the top of this post was taken, I posed with two of my girls, and also with TG and our boy.

(Our Brittany, expecting her own and Andrew's baby daughter, took these pictures.)

It's a big circle that has gone around and is coming around. It's our God-ordained place on the space time continuum. Our lives are but a vapor. We live with eternity in view.

My handsome men

And, looking both to the past and to the future, we greet each day with a great deal of gratitude and love.

I hope that you do the same.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Tuesday

Monday
Jul222019

Reigning cats and dogs

Do you remember our Fourth-of-July surprise in the form of an abandoned kitten?

I named her Velvet and fed her catmilk from a carton, with a bottle.

Well. She died.

We did all right on Thursday (the day TG discovered her by the door between the deck and the garage). We did fine on Friday, and okay on Saturday.

On the Friday, I went in person (without Velvet) to the local high-dollar shelter (after calling a few others) and was told that I could make an appointment through the web site, to bring her in for "assessment."

First I would have to fork over a significant amount of money. Then, if she were deemed "adoptable," they would take her, but only after I had fostered her for a few weeks and attempted to find her a home.

I won't go into the reasons this plan was unacceptable to me; just believe me when I say, it wasn't the money.

So I decided to keep Velvet. I'd never owned a cat but I figured, God gave me a motherless one so it was my responsibility to take care of her.

On the Sunday night after we'd taken her in on Thursday, Velvet began declining to eat.

Throughout Monday, she outright refused to eat. I did manage to get a few drops down her at each feeding, but it was a struggle. She'd clamp her jaws and turn her face from side to side until the sticky formula ran down the sides of her neck.

On the Tuesday morning, TG went to the store and bought a different formula, and a different method of getting it into her -- a plunger-type syringe.

I'd literally prop her jaws open with the hard edge of the syringe -- so that she couldn't close her mouth and force the liquid out -- and give her no choice but to take a tiny bit at a time.

But I guess it was too late because, by that evening, it was obvious she wasn't going to make it.

I hope no one judges me for not running to a veterinarian and incurring hundreds of dollars in charges, to perhaps save the kitten's life.

I researched online and found that there's something called Fading Kitten Syndrome, in which the creature simply loses the will to thrive, and one by one its life support mechanisms shut down.

Whether that's what happened or not, we will never know. I do know that I was overwhelmed and out of my depth in caring for her, and that could have had something to do with her demise.

Even so, it was sorrow rather than guilt that led to what happened next.

After crying myself to sleep on the night Velvet died, I watched from the sunroom the next morning as TG buried her in our fence-corner Weber Pet Cemetery which contains Buckley and Javier.

It's watched over by a kneeling chalk-white headless cherub (the head is nearby) and a standing greenish-resin angel.

I had already ordered a Tidy Cat Breeze litter pan for Velvet, and had been planning on training her to use it.

When I clicked on Amazon to return the litter box, they processed my return but told me to keep the item.

? ? ? ? ?

I know it sometimes happens, but still I thought: Is this a sign? I don't need a litter box; I don't have a cat.

Yes; I realize I could have donated it to one of the shelters, but this litter box is pretty special. As such things go. A bell here, a whistle there.

That's when I began -- out of curiosity -- looking at cats online, on the site of the Columbia Humane Society, where I first saw Rizzo's picture. 

(He was named Stevie during the days he spent at the shelter.)

Early last week, I began noticing a tuxedo cat named Trunk.

At the Humane Society, all of the animals have been spayed or neutered, have had their first shots, have been de-wormed, and have received Home Again microchips.

The critters cost just thirty-five dollars.

By last Thursday, I had a definite urge to go out there and meet Trunk.

(Actually, I had been equally captivated by a feline named Sparrow -- also black and white in color. But when I arrived and asked for Sparrow, she was having a surgery for complications from her original surgery, and was not available.)

The lady at the desk advised me to go and sit in the main cat room and "see who reacts to you."

So I did, not knowing what to expect.

This is because, for my entire life, as you know, I have been a dog person. 

Until a few days ago, trust me: the thought of me owning a cat would have been on a par with me becoming a ballerina, or something similarly insanely ridiculously unlikely.

It's not that I didn't like cats; I just had no frame of reference. 

Well. I do now.

Because the moment I walked into the cat room, Trunk stood on her long legs and fixed her bright yellow eyes on my face. She is beautiful and petite, and that helped.

I approached and she began pressing her head against the bars of the spacious built-in crate (in two entire walls of such holding devices, all containing hopeful homeless cats), of which she was the sole occupant.

I unlatched the door and picked her up. We sat on the bench and she curled in my lap, purring.

And I -- I, a lifelong dog person, I who already own an adored and doted-upon, spoiled-rotten rescued canine unit -- fell in love. With a CAT.

? ? ? ? ?

Who can explain it? Not me. So I will not try. If you don't know, then you haven't experienced it and there's no sense discussing it.

So I filled out the papers; I paid the thirty-five dollars. I retrieved Javier's old crate from my sweltering car and placed Trunk inside.

(Why was she crate-named Trunk? Because about a month ago, she was discovered by police in the trunk of a stolen car. True story. She scraped the top of her nose trying to get out.)

On the way home, I thought about what I'd call her. My new as-yet-nameless cat was calm in the crate as we drove. It was just shy of one hundred degrees outside.

We stopped at the local pet supply store -- the same one we visited with Rizzo, on the frigid January day in 2017 when TG and I brought him home from the same shelter.

My nine-month-old rescue cat peered out from the crate as I bought her a bed and a scratching post and some dishes and food (both wet and dry) to put in them, and cat treats, and a few toys, and a pirate-themed collar with a dainty black bell.

By the time we reached home, my cat had a name.

She's Sweetness.

In keeping with our tradition of naming pets after favorite athletes, I named my cat after another legend of Chicago sports.

(My dog is named for Chicago Cubs slugger and first baseman extraordinaire, Anthony Rizzo).

Extra credit if you can tell me who Sweetness is named after.

But she is indeed sweet. The sweetest cat I can imagine. She loves to curl or stretch beside me, purring and snoozing, gazing into my eyes every now and then, and blinking if I remove my hand from her soft fur.

Now, as I sit in my recliner to write, with Rizzo on one side and Sweetness on the other (they're tolerating one another well, mostly by ignoring each other), it remains to be seen whether I'll ever get anything done again.

(I ordered Sweetness a luxurious cat condo/crate with four separate levels for doing whatever she needs to do. Even when I leave the doors (upper and lower level) open, she likes to lounge around in there and that's where she's napping now, so that I can write this for you.)

She loves to walk along the ledge of the sun room, looking out of the windows at the squirrels and birds. 

She enjoys chasing her toys around the floor, and jumping up on the furniture.

She's extremely fastidious, eats well, is not particularly vocal, and seems to be content in her sunroom world (I doubt I'll allow her to roam the house).

It's all a blur

Most of all, Sweetness loves me. It's obvious. And it humbles me because truly, I did nothing to deserve that.

Be that as it may, I consider her a gift from God.

And I love her very much in return.

And that is all for meow now.

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Happy Monday :: Happy New Week

Friday
Jul122019

Five, six, pick up sticks

Dagny spent the night with TG and me on Wednesday.

She hopped into our car after prayer meeting, toting her hardshell rolling suitcase that lights up when you touch something or other on the front.

We stopped by Puglix Publix for supplies on the way home. TG and I like to visit Publix on Wednesdays because we get a five percent senior discount.

While Dagny was getting out of her car seat (it'll soon be replaced by a pared-down booster seat), she mentioned that she was five.

I said I was aware of that fact.

Pretty soon I'll be six, she said.

I cautioned her to slow down and enjoy being five for as long as she could.

Once inside the store, she requested that we stock up on graham crackers and chocolate milk. Both wishes were granted.

Once at home, she ate a meal of chicken and mashed potatoes (yes; she'd already had dinner earlier but so what), washed down with lemonade and chased with graham crackers, on top of which we applied a layer of whipped cream from a can.

That last part was a BIG hit.

Later, after brushing our teeth, she and I snuggled in my bed and watched a fascinating slime video, topped off by a video of two ladies eating various sweets, all colored blue. Blue ice cream. Blue cereal treats. Blue honey buns. Blue gummy suckers.

Ugh.

At about midnight, Dag went to her pallet on the floor and was dreaming in less than thirty seconds.

We slept in on Thursday. After the breakfast and coffee hour, and once we'd gotten dressed, Dagny assisted me with various chores.

She is eager to help with just about anything you're doing. We made beds and folded clothes. She's exceptional at folding towels.

While packing her belongings back into her suitcase, Dagny spotted a tiny bug on the white shirt which, the night before, she'd tossed onto the floor of my room.

The way she reacted, you would have thought it was a five-pound snake.

It almost stopped my life, she said.

Hyperbole 'R' us.

I checked her pulse (normal) and told her to relax.

Then, she pushed the "buttons" on my new washer and dryer, to move laundry along.

(My washing machine died on July first. My dryer was already old and not particularly efficient. The new set was delivered on Wednesday and they're the kind with light-up panels and a window-lid on the agitator-less top-loading washer. When your clothes are done washing and, later, dried to a cozy crisp, a little song plays. She loved watching through the window and listening for the song, and lit up herself, when she heard it.)

Then it was time to empty the dishwasher, an activity that Dagny adores. She knows where everything goes, but naturally she can put away only things that go in spaces she's able to reach. Because five.

But that's quite a lot, and together we made short work of the task.

Then it was time to make hummingbird nectar.

Dagny fetched her white plastic stool from upstairs so that she could help me measure the water and sugar into the pan. She squeezed in the gel food coloring.

(Yes; I know that the addition of food coloring to homemade hummingbird nectar is controversial. We did it anyway. The hummingbirds love my nectar. They fight over it. I've never seen one drop dead from a drop or two of red coloring. Just the opposite; they thrive on it and drain the feeders almost daily.)

Once the pan of nectar was on the stove, Dagny carefully stirred with a small silicone spatula, until it was almost to a boil.

We set the pan aside to cool, and readied ourselves for an outdoor job.

You may remember that in 2016, Andrew removed the ugly holly bushes from the front of our house, and shoveled a ton of rocks into the space which surrounds the white oak.

We have a green bench there and it's so pretty now, and a great place to take pictures.

Only, as you might imagine, thousands of sticks drop from the tree and accumulate on the rocks.

They were sorely in need of a clean-up. Dagny had gone to the store with Papaw last week and helped him pick out a roomy bin to put the sticks in.

Unbeknownst to either me or Audrey, during that shopping trip TG struck a bargain with his ride or die. It involved her earning a few shekels in exchange for services rendered.

So when Dagny, I, and Rizzo went outside for stick cleanup, she marched over to the side of the garage where she'd seen Papaw put the bin. She grabbed it and told me this was what we'd fill with sticks.

Oh ... okay, I said. I'd never seen the bin before but she was confident. And confidence is key.

As we placed the bin on the bench and began collecting sticks, Dagny informed me that Papaw had promised to pay her for performing this chore.

He said I'd get ten bucks, she announced.

? ? ? ? ?

I was skeptical and I said as much. Dag, really? Ten whole dollars? 

She assured me that a sawbuck had been the agreed-upon price for her stick removal services.

Dagny is not known to tell untruths so maybe I shouldn't have, but I said I found it difficult to believe that Papaw had promised her that much money for picking up a few sticks.

(If it was true, I wondered if she'd negotiated a golden parachute while she was at it.)

She hesitated, then said: Well, maybe nine dollars?

I laughed. Maybe, I said. We'll see. 

Later, when Audrey arrived, she agreed that Dagny was perhaps guilty of, if not making something up, then certainly engaging in wishful thinking.

I think three or four dollars would be plenty, she said.

But we decided we'd wait and ask Papaw. Get it from the horse's mouth, as it were.

Later still, when TG arrived home, Dagny and her mother had already left. He'd seen the overflowing stick-bin still sitting on the green bench, and mentioned what a good job Dagny had done cleaning up the rocks.

Did you tell her you'd give her ten dollars for doing that? I asked.

Yes I did, he said.

Well, shut my mouth. I'll have to apologize to my angel for doubting her word. Make it up to her with a few extra graham crackers and whipped cream.

Meanwhile, when we had finished our stick pickup project, Dagny and Rizzo played on the grass.

She tends to overwhelm my spoiled dog with her affections, and he gave some serious side-eye before semi-relaxing into her zealous embrace.

But as he loves to be in the front yard sans leash (and no walkies threatened), it was all good.

We should have seen if his lazy carcass would deign to fetch a stick, but it never occurred to me.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Friday :: Happy Weekend

Wednesday
Jul102019

Wednesday Words: Just Wondering


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Happy Wednesday
Monday
Jul082019

Kitten in the kitchen

Audrey does the honors

Current situation: kitten.

As in, when TG went outside to fire up the grill on the Fourth of July, he found a single tiny mewling kitten in the area between our deck and a door leading into the garage.

She'd been abandoned. We searched for hours for her mother and siblings. Not a whisker was to be found.

Rizzo had been eyeing an area between the deck boards, and growling, for a few days. A gray cat has been stalking around our yard for a couple of weeks.

I reasoned that these clues added up to a stray cat having produced a litter of kittens under our deck.

But if that's what happened, they're all long gone.

Is "my" kitten the runt of the litter? Probably.

Since that evening, before the fireworks began, she's been occupying Javier's old crate.

Dagny supplied her with a small stuffed toy. TG went to the store for kitten replacement formula.

Here's my dilemma: accept the fact that I'm now a cat owner, with all that that shocking idea implies, or find her a loving home amongst our friends and acquaintances, or pay for a no-kill shelter to accept her for adoption.

I am leaning toward no one of these solutions.

I have no idea what to do.

Perhaps someone can help me decide.

Cast your votes below. Keep? Give away? Be extorted by the local no-kill shelter?

Meanwhile, the kitten has a name. I use it frequently when bottle-feeding her.

It's Velvet.

And that is all for now.

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Happy Monday