Tag Archive | Shelter-at-Home

No Replacement for Spam

Spam Classic Canned Meat

About a year ago is when the shelves at the grocery store looked unattended, when actually there were shortages. There were either shortages of people being able to put items on the shelves, quickly enough, or shortages of people being able to process food and many other reasons. There were only a few times I had to substitute something with another item. It’s nice to see the shelves filling up at the store now.

Imagine my surprise this week, when I walked down the canned meat aisle and couldn’t find Spam. All the other shelves were pretty well attended, except for where the Spam usually sits. There were some cans of turkey Spam and Spam with Bacon, but that’s not the classic Spam we usually pick up about once or twice a year.

We checked another store – no Spam. When I went in search of Spam on the Internet, I learned there’s a shortage due to the pandemic. Demand is very high. Right when I was appreciating fuller shelves, Spam went missing. There is obviously no replacement for Spam. Thankfully, when we checked Target, we found three cans and we happily purchased one. My husband likes to make what he calls “Spams.” Here’s the recipe:

Spams
1-12 ounce can of classic Spam
1-8 ounce brick of cheddar cheese, mild (use about 3/4 of a brick)
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayo or Miracle Whip
1 dozen hamburger buns
Meat grinder

Cut the Spam, brick of cheese, and onion in quarters and alternately rotate through meat grinder into a large bowl. After the mixture is ground together, stir to mix, and add enough mayo until it sticks together well, but don’t overdo it. Spoon mixture to cover an open faced bun. Place open faced bun face side up under broiler and broil until cheese is melted. Make as many as you want. Store unused portion of Spams in the refrigerator. Use up leftovers within three days.

Lila loves the crumbs that fall to the floor, which happens during preparation. A little taste for dogs is okay, but I wouldn’t give Lila a bunch. That could lead to disastrous consequences.

My husband’s mom made these when her kids were younger and now my husband is carrying on the tradition. Some of our children do not care for Spams, but I find them to be just as delicious as Lila believes them to be! Do you have any favorite Spam recipes? If so, please share in the comments!

Simply Elegant

close up photograph of flowers

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Six days ago, we brought four of the centerpieces home from the wedding reception.  On Sunday, Katie brought over her bridal bouquet, which brings the total to five arrangements.  All of the arrangements are different and include flowers from roses to hydrangeas, baby’s breath, and snap dragons.  Some contain blue, white or pink flowers that poke through.  Each one is complemented with velvety greenery.  Every morning, their fragrance greets me when I walk down the stairs.

It seems so long ago when we met with the flower lady.  It was January, and we had to figure out which flowers would be blooming in August.  I found many beautiful arrangements on Pinterest, and I remember sending those to Katie.  Katie liked the photos and sent them to the flower lady.  The flower lady asked what the theme was.  We showed her a picture of the wedding dress, and we told her how we thought it was simple but elegant, and that was also the theme, which Katie decided at that moment.  🙂  At the end of the reception, we invited guests to take home a centerpiece.  People were thrilled to have an arrangement to keep.  We offered some to the staff too, and I couldn’t help taking some leftovers.

The initial planning started in October last year.  We made our lists of who to invite, which came to be about 325 guests.  When we discovered that the church and a venue could all be reserved on the same date in the summer, we were all so excited, because we didn’t think we could get a summer date so soon.  We shopped for the elegant wedding dress right away.  The bride made sure to have her bridesmaids get together to try on dresses during a sale.  Those dresses got ordered promptly in the color of rosewood.  Even I found a dress.  Anything that could be done in advance, was accomplished.

Just before we met with the flower lady, the news of the coronavirus kept wafting over the news.  I especially followed the news about Italy and how sad it all felt with their loved ones passing away.  Then March came, and we were asked to shelter at home.  In the backs of our minds we wondered what would become of the wedding in August.  So many brides had to cancel their March weddings.  Then a few brides and grooms were able to get married in April, with only 10 people in attendance.  

“We’re still going to get married in August, no matter what happens,” the groom announced in March.  None of us wanted to see the wedding postponed.  The food tasting had been scheduled for the end of March, but since the venue was closed, it kept getting postponed.  Just when we thought we would be able to get together in June, for an outdoor tasting, the weather didn’t cooperate, so it ended up getting postponed too. That amounted to a total of five postponements.  When food tasting finally happened, we were delighted to be able to get together with the groom’s parents, even though we wore masks and stayed far apart from each other.

At the food tasting, we were told we could have 90 guests at the venue, so we got busy calling or emailing our friends to let them know we were only going to be able to invite the wedding party and close family members.  Some family members decided they didn’t want to attend, so we were able to invite some friends and more friends of the bride and groom.  Even though people were uninvited, gifts kept arriving daily.  It was nice to have the support and understanding.

There were other changes at the venue too.  We were not allowed to have a head table or a big dance.  We could only have four people to a table.  The tables had to be six feet apart.  There were stickers on the floor by the bar to remind us to socially distance.  People were required to wear masks when they weren’t seated at their table.

It was hard to limit the guests.  I tried to think of something to say to my daughter to make her feel better when we were going through this process.  She must have read my mind and said, “There’s nothing you can say to make me feel better,” so I just kept my mouth shut.  The quote I wanted to share with Katie is below, and it’s just what Katie and Mike did without me having to say it.

I tried to keep positive thoughts about the big day, and I prayed for a beautiful wedding for Katie & Mike ever since after their engagement.  I tried to chase away the what ifs that popped into my mind as the day got closer.  What if Father gets sick and can’t perform the ceremony?  What if the bride or groom get sick?  What if the catering director or photographers or flower lady get sick?  What if my husband or I get sick?  

Thankfully, when the big day arrived, everyone who was included in on the final plan, was there.  I couldn’t help but think, any couple who survived all this unusual wedding planning has a very strong bond.  ❤️

The day turned out to be simply elegant.

Life is accepting what is and working from that.  ~Gloria Naylor

Elvis’s Mom

adolescent adult black and white casual

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When we first moved into our neighborhood, many years ago, we would often see a lady either walking through our yard or along the street yelling “Elvis.”  Elvis was a black lab retriever mix with spots of gray.  Lila, our dog, is beginning to turn a little gray around her mouth and has longer legs than Elvis, but she is starting to make me feel like our neighbor, Elvis’s mom, who moved away a long time ago.  

The other day, when we brought Lila home from the kennel, and when we were about to grab ahold of her by her collar, she took off running in a southerly direction.  I grabbed her leash, headed in that direction, calling her name every so often, but I didn’t get a response.  I headed home to find that a different neighbor, who recognized Lila, and who lives in a northerly direction, brought her back to our house.

Today, a little storm was brewing, so I delayed our walk.  I brushed Lila before letting her back in the house.  Just as I was going to open the door, she took off running in a southerly direction again.  I yelled to her, as sweetly as I could, in my sudden bad mood, but it didn’t coax her back, as usual.  This time, since I was home by myself, I went on with my chores and hoped someone would come knocking or calling.

About 15 minutes later, our phone rang.

“Are you missing a dog?” the lady asked.

“Yes, she got away from me,” I said. 

“We have her here.  She’s so friendly.  We gave her some water.”

“Thank you.  Where are you?”

The lady gave me her address, which is not very far from the southerly direction Lila headed.

“I’ll be right over.”  I grabbed Lila’s leash and drove to the neighbor’s house, because the raindrops were getting quite large.  I wondered why Lila kept running away lately.  It is a common trend for her, which lessened the last couple of years.  Maybe she misses her three mile walks.  Since it’s been warm with high humidity, we whittled our walks down to a mile.  If only Lila could understand the risks of heat stroke. When it’s cooler out, Lila likes to sit under the ash tree in our front yard and is the neighborhood greeter.  She might be missing the delivery people and mailman who all give her treats.  Maybe she misses our friends who used to come over.  Not many other visitors have been stopping by, because of the pandemic. 

When I got closer to the address, I spotted Lila in the neighbor’s front yard on a leash.  The nice lady was there waiting with Lila.  A little poodle watched from behind the glass storm door, jumping and wagging its tail. Congratulations 2020 High School Graduate signs spotted the yard.

“Thank you.  Thank you,” I said.  Lila jumped up high and acted like she hadn’t seen me in months!  The lady unhooked her from their leash, and I got Lila hooked on mine.  

Lila has been getting us to socialize with our many nice neighbors.  I can’t help but feel like Elvis’s mom whenever I run around the neighborhood in search of our girl. Maybe we were meant to keep up with that silly neighborhood tradition that Elvis created.

No matter what was meant to be, have you ever met a dog named Elvis? 🙂

A Book Review: “The Valley of Secrets”

tree-with-brunch-and-green-leaves-during-sunset-70365Photo Courtesy of Pexels

Never did I think there would be a day when all the libraries would be closed. 😦   Thankfully, about a month ago, my daughter texted to see if I could find a book for her.  The book could have been in a number of places in our house.  I rummaged around and couldn’t find it, but I did find a few books that looked interesting.  I pulled them out to add to my pile of books to read.  At the time, I thought, This is perfect.  Why not read some of the books that have been hiding away, especially now that the libraries are closed. 

One of the books I happened upon is called The Valley of Secrets, which was written by Charmian Hussey.  It’s a fictional story for teens.  What attracted me to the book was the title, because I thought it sounded scary, and the beautiful illustrations on the cover.  The book was illustrated by Christopher Crump.  The detailed artwork is not only on the cover but can be found at the beginning and end of each chapter.  One thing I enjoyed about this book was I could tell the author took her time crafting this tale.  The writing is very descriptive and gives us much to learn about the Amazon, even though most of the story takes place in the Cornish countryside of England. 

When I first started reading the book, I was sad to learn the main character, Stephen Lansbury, is an orphan and has no friends.  Stephen has a journey, from London to Cornwall, after he learns his great uncle died.  Stephen was surprised to discover he had a living relative.  How sad Stephen did not get to know his uncle when he was alive!  The great uncle left his estate to Stephen.  Stephen is allowed to keep the estate as long as he does not make any changes.  

Mysterious things happen after Stephen finds his way to his new living quarters.  The large estate is surrounded by a fence.  Stephen arrives to find the gate unlocked.  Upon his return from the grocery store one day, the gate is locked, even though Stephen didn’t lock it before he left.  The woman at the grocery store didn’t know Stephen’s great uncle passed away.  Stephen senses the lady is a gossip and doesn’t tell her anything about the whereabouts of his uncle.

Other puzzling things happen.  Stephen feels like he’s being watched.  I wished Stephen would have made a friend or had more human contact.  (I think this was because I was sheltering-at-home.)  It took the turn of many pages before a friend came on the scene.  Before he made a new friend, Stephen spent time reading his great uncle’s journals and exploring the outdoors.  As a teenage boy, it’s no wonder it took him a long while to tour the upstairs of the estate, which I longed to see!

If you are looking for a leisurely read, try The Valley of Secrets.  It’s “An ambitious blend of fantasy, mystery, and ecological adventure” according to the School Library Journal.  People who are interested in the Amazon, the environment, and England would enjoy this book. 

I’m off to read the next book in my to-read pile.  Have you read any good books lately?

Quarantine Hair

person holding silver and black pen

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How weird to hear the land line ring.  Land line telephone calls have gone down at our house since the pandemic arrived.  Solicitors have not been bugging us like they normally do.  The ring woke me up from a snooze, then the recording from the answering machine kicked in.  The years since I’ve changed that recording has got to be in the double digits.  After my recorded spiel was done, an actual person’s voice was talking on the line and being recorded.  It was Trish!  Trish is the lady who cuts my hair.  I haven’t seen Trish since February.  Since we have been getting together every six to eight weeks for the last 10 years, I found myself missing our fun chats and chuckles.  

“Hello, hello, it’s me,” I said in a very excited voice, after I hurriedly picked up the receiver.  It was so nice to hear Trish’s voice!  A couple of hours before, our governor announced that he was going to lift the stay-at-home order.  When I heard salons could open back up, I checked my latest text to Trish because I was wondering if it would be okay to give her a call, but her text said she would call her clients after she got the okay to open.  Trish let me know I was the fifth person on her list because I pre-booked an appointment.  Luckily, I got an appointment on the first day that she’s allowed to start cutting hair again.  We are to wear masks and are not supposed to stay in the waiting room.  We are to sit in our cars until we get a call or text letting us know it’s okay to go in. 

I feel very lucky to have found Trish.  Curly hair can be unruly, but Trish knows how to shape it perfectly.  That’s why I’ve been following her around for so long.  I can think back to a lot of very weird haircuts I’ve had in the past.  One time, my head looked like it was in the shape of an evergreen tree.  

Trish and I met at a salon, where I continued to get my haircut by her for a couple of years.  One day the salon called to let me know Trish quit and asked if I would like to re-scheduled with someone else.  I immediately asked if they knew Trish’s contact information, but they wouldn’t give me any details.  I let them know that I did not want to re-schedule with someone else, and I quietly hung up the phone.  I felt frantic and wondered if I would have to go back to my evergreen tree look.  I didn’t have her cell phone number then.  I eventually found her on Facebook and sent her a message.  She told me she wanted to let me know at my last appointment that she was leaving, but there were no times where we were not within earshot of someone.  I followed her over to the new salon.  Now she has her own business, and she always lets her clients know what’s going on.

Since it’s been so long since I got a haircut, I was starting to worry I’d have to cut my own.  I have a set of scissors that are stored away with the clippers.  The years since I’ve bought the clippers is well into double digits.  The instructions indicate that the clippers should be oiled, so I should probably do that!  Our children got some homemade haircuts when they were in elementary school.  The girls didn’t seem to mind their haircuts with the scissors.  Our oldest daughter’s hair wasn’t too hard to cut because it’s curly and she kept it long.  If it wasn’t even, a person couldn’t tell.  It curled brilliantly to hide any flaws.  Our second daughter has straight hair, with a little bit of a wave.  It took me days to cut her hair.  Whenever she moved a different way, it looked like her hair was uneven.  I’d say, “Wait a minute,” and I grabbed those scissors and tried to even it out.  Luckily, I didn’t get too carried away – she never ended up with a pixie cut.  Our youngest son did not care for the clippers at all.  He often had the fear that I was going to cut his ear off.  He might have gotten two or three haircuts from me back in those days.  None of us could handle this fear, which ended up with me taking him to the barber.  Recently, my husband asked for a haircut.  The clippers are still working, though it is working rather loudly, probably because it needs to be oiled.  No barber shops are open, so how could I refuse?

These personal experiences with hair helped me to realize how important hair stylists and barbers really are.  Especially now, with my quarantine hair.  I’m looking forward to getting a little piece of my normal life back by going to see Trish.  This quarantine hair is thankful too.  Also, I know we will have a fun chat and some chuckles.

Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges,
but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.
  ~Author Unknown

My Homer Hanky is “Safe”

five assorted threads

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On April 18, our Governor launched a statewide homemade mask drive. The masks were to be dropped off at the neighborhood fire station the following Saturday. There was one week to get the job done. I was able to make 22 masks with the materials I had. When the day arrived to deliver them, I drove to the fire station to see a large bin by the entrance. After lifting the lid, I was surprised to see that the bin was a little over half full. A couple of weeks later, I read an article that said the volunteers from our city made 1,200 fabric masks. The firefighters sanitized and delivered the masks to senior living facilities and other group homes for employees and residents to wear.

I started making masks several weeks ago for family and friends, so I didn’t mind making a few more. After I explored a lot of patterns online, I decided to go with the mask that is shown in the video from the Deaconess. Luckily I saved a lot of sewing scraps over the years. I’m happy I didn’t know that at the time I stitched together pinafores to go over my little girls’ Easter dresses, that down the road the soft baby blue fabric would come in useful one day as masks. The other fabric is from curtains I made for our basement windows. That tannish brown material is a reminder of my challenged math skills and how I ordered twice the amount I needed. Coincidentally, there was enough 1/4-inch elastic and plenty of thread in my stash to make those 22 masks plus the 18 I previously made for loved ones.

Last week, I decided to venture out to the fabric store to re-stock my supply. I also wanted to work with some more decorative fabric. The store has shortened its hours and is only letting a certain amount of people in at a time. There wasn’t a lot of cute fabric to choose from, but I bought a couple of yards of blue and white checkered material and a blue and white calico blend. I saw some sports graphic fabric, which reminded me of the woman I saw at the grocery store a few days before. She was wearing an old, white Minnesota Twins Homer Hanky, a hankerchief-like rally towel, as a mask. She must have dug it way out of her closet, since the Twins were in the World Series in 1987 and 1991. It looked like extra stitching was on the front and that she cut it to fit. Perhaps she got the idea from the news, where I read that the 2019 Homer Hankies are being re-purposed. Faribault Woolen Mill Co. and Love Your Melon are turning something old into something new, too.

The Governor’s face mask drive is still going on – there is still an urgent need for masks. Now that I’ve re-stocked my supplies, I’m happy to say my Homer Hanky is safe and hiding in a closet somewhere.

Under the Steeple

low angle view of clock against sky

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“Hi Evie,” I said enthusiastically.  “It’s Mary Ann, from choir.”  Even though I’ve only been a part of choir for a short time, I find it surprising that I miss it so much.  Plus, having been sheltering at home, I was extra excited to see someone I know in the flesh instead of over a computer screen.  

Evie was one of the first people to talk to me when I joined and has been a member for a long time.  We are in the alto section together, and Evie helps me get the notes right.  I can hear her very well, since she sits behind me.  We chatted for a short time, while we were both walking our dogs.  We were sure to keep a good distance from each other so as not to spread any unknown germs.  Evie said she misses everybody and can’t wait until we can all be together again.  I feel the same and look forward to singing with our group again.

Our choir stopped getting together the beginning of March because of COVID-19.  At that time, we were getting ready for the most important weekend of the year, Easter.  The first time I attended practice was last September.  I knew it was time for me to join because the choir sang songs that were not in the missal or worship aid.  I wanted to sing those songs too!  During my first practice, I seriously got chills while we were practicing one of the songs.  The little hairs on the back of my neck stood out.  I couldn’t believe I was among so many talented people.  Surely, I thought, This must be what angels sound like.  Not only did everyone sing beautifully, there is a comedic connection among the members that bonds the group together. It’s not only the music that I miss, it’s the good humor that comes along with the ins and outs of practicing to become better.

Another thing I miss is the cream-colored robe.  The first few times I wore it, I felt uncomfortable.  The robe is linen and covers from neck to toes.  It sometimes sticks to my clothes and bunches up when I’m walking.  I usually wear a t-shirt and cotton pants underneath because everything can get really warm.  I started to appreciate the robe when people I’ve never met came up to me after the service to tell me how great the choir sounded that day.  Now when I tune in to watch the live stream, I see how empty the entire space looks.  The choir loft seems especially bare.  Chris, our organist, is there every Sunday with one of the cantors, and I try to sing along.  After one of the first Sundays of the shelter-at-home, Chris emailed to let us know how much he misses seeing us in the loft.  Chris closed his email by signing it “Your Organ Grinder.”  🙂

When people get back to under the steeple, I will happily wear my cream-colored robe no matter how warm I get.  As long as we sing, we pray twice, and we all can use double the prayers right now. 

To sing is to pray twice. ~St. Augustine 

Thanks for the Love

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My husband and I planned on a big outing this weekend, because we were tired of eating at home. Isn’t everyone?! I suggested we order food from Pub 819. I had recently gone there and had their Yum Yum Bowl, which has marinated flank steak, kimchee, fried egg, yum yum sauce, green onions, and coconut rice. My cravings for it would not go away!

It was nice to get in the car and go for a drive. The neighborhood has been filled with people walking and getting fresh air. The roads were very quiet. When we got to the restaurant, we could easily find a parking spot right next to the front door. Usually the streets are lined with parked cars. Today, more people were on the sidewalks than there were cars on the road.

One car was in front of us. When they got their food, we pulled up to the spot where they had been, as we were following the directions on the sign by the front door. We called the restaurant to let them know we had arrived. A few minutes later, a young lady skipped out, holding a plastic bag tight in her hand.

“Two Yum Yum Bowls,” she said with a perky smile. Her blond hair was pulled tight and was gathered up into a ponytail that sat up high on the crown of her head.

“Yes, thank you,” I said, as I took the bag from her. I tried to mirror her perky smile. The smell of the Yum Yum Bowls drifted up into my face, even though all the contents were wrapped snug.

After we got home and opened the bag, I found a handwritten note, which said, “Thanks for the love.” We never got a note like that from a restaurant before. I knew that note would stick in my mind forever.

Kindness is the most tender and effective form of leaving a memory inside people’s hearts. ~Dodinsky