Archive | April 2018

The Gifts and the Memories of the Money Jar

Great Grandma VG with her Great Grandchildren (Left)
Great-Great Grandma with her Great-Great Grandchild (Right)

A year ago in March, our family got together for a Sunday meal. Five generations ranging in age from 103 years old to the new little one who was born the month before.  My husband’s grandmother had become a great-great grandma, and others got new titles too, so there was much to celebrate.

I made Great-Great Grandma’s (aka Grandma VG) favorite salad that day, one that I had made many times before. Grandma VG loved that cabbage salad and always raved about how delicious it was.  Grandma VG named the ingredients one by one with each bite she took.  The sunflower seeds were at the top of the list.  The salad is full of flavor and doesn’t get boring probably because of all the butter, oil, and salt it contains!  On that Sunday in March though, Grandma VG didn’t comment about the salad and that was a sign to me that she wasn’t feeling like herself.

Whenever Grandma VG came over before she turned into a great-great grandma, when our kids were little, she always brought along her money jar. We’d have our same routine.  Grandma came into the house, took off her wrap, greeted all of us (even Music, our dog, who loved her too), and asked us how we were doing.  We visited for a while, ate dinner together, and when we were done, Grandma went to get her purse.  She asked all the kids to gather around our kitchen table, and she pulled out a little jelly jar filled with coins.  The kids’ eyes lit up and she told us how she went shopping, and this was her leftover money.  Grandma VG loved to shop and liked to look at the new styles.  Most times she had a story to share about something she found interesting or new with the mall or something she found.

The kids would remember whose turn it was to count out the coins. The coins got divided up into three even piles with even amounts.  If there was anything extra, it went back in the money jar.  “We’ll save that for next time,” Grandma would say.  I always thought this was a great way for the children to learn how to count money and how to share, and I bet that was Grandma VG’s plan too.

Around this time last year, Grandma VG passed away. After her funeral, Matt, our youngest, inherited the money jar.  It only contained a few coins, but it held a lot of memories.  Grandma knew how to make people feel special.  One thing that always made me feel special was when she introduced me to others as her granddaughter, who I was by marriage, but she rarely mentioned the marriage part.  We miss her and her stories.  We still love her, and we’ll hold that love close and guard it, just like we’ll hold close the gifts and memories of the money jar.

Death ends a life, not a relationship. ~ Jack Lemmon

And now, here’s the recipe:

Cabbage Salad

2 packages of coleslaw mix
bunch of green onions, chopped
2 packages Ramen noodles (chicken base), broken up
½ cup sunflower seeds
1 small package slivered almonds
½ cup butter

Brown chopped green onion, noodles, sunflower seeds and almonds in ½ cup of butter on low heat.

Dressing:

1 cup salad oil
3 teaspoons soy sauce
packets of chicken base from Ramen noodles package
2/3 cup sugar

Mix dressing ingredients, pour over coleslaw mix and onion, noodles, and nut mix. Can be prepared ahead; mix with dressing just before serving.

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Sparkling Spring

 

Eighteen inches of snow is never a welcomed sight, especially in the spring. Memories of last weekend, when the snow fell on us, lingered in my mind yesterday morning.  It felt like winter was never going to leave.  That snow was heavy and swirled about in the blowing wind.  It blanketed everything around and made me dread it even though it left sparkling flakes in the night.  Those sparkles would have appeared more beautiful early in the winter instead of early in the spring.  It felt awkward to have to stay in during a blizzard when all winter long Lila and I have been going for long walks on Saturdays.

Yet, not everyone was disappointed by the four letter word that begins with the letter “S.” Lila loved it.  Even though the snow was all the way up to her belly, she ran and jumped around like she was going through an obstacle course.  As she came back into the house, she ended up bringing a bunch of the snow along with her.  The flakes clung to her black fur.  She must have liked the cool feeling it gave her because she didn’t shake it off.  Lila tends to walk in the snow when we go for our winter walks.

After Lila and I left the house for our walk at 8:30 yesterday morning, the birds greeted us with happy songs. (We didn’t hear a peep out of any birds last weekend.)  The sun was peaking over to warm us and the bright snow spotted the grass making us wonder if winter was still holding on.  The temperature was 30 degrees.  We still had to trudge through some snow piles when we walked to the path.  The more we walked, the warmer it got.  My winter jacket, hat, and mittens were no longer needed, and I tied my jacket around my waist.  Others walking around the park had been more confident in the weather and wore lighter clothing.  The sun was warmer than I thought, and the wind was nowhere to be found.  It got to be 40 degrees by the time we got back home.

In spots, the green grass sprung out at us. Some trees had buds to show us.  Cardinals chirped a lovely tune to us.  Canadian honkers honked at us.  Robins hopped close to us.  Other birds dove in and out of trees around us.  Squirrels hid from us.  Wild turkeys flew up into a tree branch to get away from us.  The day brought us temperatures in the 60s.  It looks like all these things in nature think spring is sparkling through to leave winter behind.  I guess I think so too?  Whatever happens next, Lila will be happy.

Under the giving snow blossoms a daring spring. ~Terri Guillemets

That’s Worth a Lot!

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Have you had to assemble anything lately – something that came with instructions? Did you notice that the instructions only come with pictures and a few names of the items that are inside the box? I find that not having words in the instructions to be confusing. If I can’t figure out the pictures, I end up watching a tutorial on YouTube. I’m glad there’s YouTube, but really, why can’t they include some words on the instructions to help us assemble our project?

Our lives would be so different, if we didn’t know how to read. The majority of my days are spent reading and writing at my job, and when I’m done with that, I pull out a book or my cell phone and read things from there. Plus, it’s the things you don’t think about every day that we’re reading that are so helpful. I’m glad to be able to read signs, recipes, patterns and so many other things.

Dad said he taught all of us kids how to read, and I want to thank Dad and my teachers for helping me. Statistics vary on what the literacy rate is because there are so many different factors to consider, but one site said one in 10 people in the world do not know how to read. When I was small, I needed extra help with reading, and I’m grateful I got that help.

Summer school was fun when I went the summer after first grade. I vaguely remember that there were about 12 of us. Besides working on our reading, we made time for playing, which is the part I remember best. Our summer teacher was our wonderful music teacher. Back then, we read the look-say readers Dick and Jane which used the whole word method of reading. Phonics hadn’t been introduced to us yet.

When my class got to second grade, we started getting the book order forms from Scholastic. There were so many books to choose from the colorful thin paper forms. When our paperback book orders arrived, it was such an exciting day. The books were bound together with a rubber band with our book orders on top. That’s when I learned that books are magical and can carry us off to different times and places to meet extraordinary or not so extraordinary people. The reader knows they read a good one when they get to the last chapter and feel sad that the story is coming to an end. It can be like saying good-bye to a good friend that you’re not going to see any more.

Pictures might speak a thousand words, but wanting to read the fun books helped us to learn how to read the other books. That helped us to read everything else, and that’s worth a lot!

The worth of a book is to be measured by what
you can carry away from it. ~James Bryce

Have you Met Gym?

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Some people are afraid to meet Gym, because it can be intimidating, especially in the weigh-lifting room.  There can be some very muscular people walking around with very serious looks on their faces because it is serious business.  I’ve known Gym for years, and I’ve found it’s best to keep your chin up and act like you really know what you’re doing, and people will hopefully respect your space.

It’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothing when you meet Gym, but not too loose because you don’t want to get a part of your clothing hung up on anything. You could seriously knock yourself out if your shirt got stuck on a handle and you kept walking.  Next, be sure to nonchalantly observe other people’s attire because you might see a really cool shirt that you’ve never seen before or, if you’re lucky, an interesting tattoo.

If you see a person who is lying on the floor doing sit-ups, push-ups, and/or stretches in between the weight-lifting machines, try not to give them the evil eye and move on.  If you are very brave, let them know that they are not in the correct place to do calisthenics and stretching.  Point that person to the mats that were designed just for that purpose, which are also conveniently located away from the weight-lifting machines.  I think they put those mats far away from the machines so no one would get hurt – just saying.

If you are waiting to use a weight-lifting machine, and someone is on it staring at their cell phone, try not to get too disturbed even if it takes them several minutes to get done texting or reading.  Keep doing your rounds on the equipment and check back to see if they are done.  If the person is not bigger and scarier looking than you, point that person to the lobby where there are chairs that no one is using that were made just for the purpose of lounging.

It’s rare, but you might notice a person who likes to use a weight-lifting machine just to lift about 250 pounds once and then jump off the machine to take a rest.  They usually stand opposite of the machine to keep an eye on the machine because they keep repeating this process.  If you accidentally use the machine while they are resting, pretend that you have no idea that they can lift 250 pounds when you move the knob to the weight you can lift.  Even if they are staring you down with a holier than thou look on their face, play dumb.

People like to take ownership of a weight-lifting machine by leaving something behind like a towel, water bottle, or gloves.  If a person towers over you while you are sitting on the machine that they think is theirs, and they say, “I was using that machine,” even if they were not even close to it when you started using it, it’s best to get off and give them a mom look like they are not behaving appropriately.  If you’re good at that look, you will get an apology.

If a tour guide from the gym wants to use you as an example of how to use a machine, just smile and keep doing what you’re doing, even though you feel very uncomfortable at the time.  Don’t get nervous.  This is not a good time to fall off or jamb your foot and embarrass yourself.

If the weight-lifting room is too intimidating, you can always take a yoga class, play racquetball, go swimming, or take any other sort of class to stay away from these situations.  If you skip the weight-lifting room, though, you might miss out on some interesting adventures.

Maybe you have a few tips to share about your workout experiences.  Feel free to leave your comments here, if you do.  I hope your next workout is a good one.

The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen. ~ Anonymous