Monday, September 26, 2022

Making Grape Jelly For The Birds (and Me)

As with many people in my area of Wisconsin, I stockpile jars of grape jelly throughout the winter season. I do this to prepare for the Baltimore Orioles which arrive around May 1. Without fail, they return within a day or two of May 1. Along with them, I will see Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks and Hummingbirds.  It is the unofficial start to Spring and Summer.

This summer getting grape jelly to feed them was a struggle. Everybody was sold out. It was probably from the disruption in the supply chain started by the COVID epidemic. A lot of grocery shelves were missing some very basic items. What did appear on the shelves were quickly purchased by other people also feeding the Baltimore Orioles. I had about twenty five jars in my pantry, but that is not enough for an entire season of feeding the birds. I went through all of it rather quickly. I resorted to asking family members for any homemade jelly they could spare. I also made jelly out of purchased grape juice. When I did find a few jars, the price was up at least sixty cents a jar. I bought it anyway. My birds had to eat. Well, maybe they wouldn't have starved, but I enjoy seeing them come to the feeders. The availability of food allows them to nest in the area. They know getting food won't be a problem. Then this spring, I heard via the "grapevine" that some stores were getting supplies. I rushed out and bought a case of 12.  It was a start. 

My mission for the winter was to buy another 12 jars when I went grocery shopping, if I saw them.  So imagine how happy I was last week when my daughter sent me pictures of their grapes. It was a bumper crop. 

They asked if I wanted to have some to make jelly. Of course I said YES. To make the offer even sweeter, they offered to juice them for me so I didn't have the hassle of extracting the juice. 

I mentioned in previous posts how they simplify the juicing process. Many years ago I bought them a steamer/juicer. You basically put whatever you want to juice in the top of this special steam pan. Just rinse the fruit and put in stems and all in the top section and water in the bottom.  The water is heated to form steam which rises through perforated holes. The steam softens the fruit releasing the juice into a center pan connected to a tube.  The finished juice is collected through a tube.  Many home wine makers use a pan such as this.  I found a blog describing the process better than I can. https://blog.homebrewing.org/how-does-a-steam-juicer-work/

Once the clamp is released on the tube, the juice collected is perfect for making jelly (or wine if that's what you want).  

The container they brought me contained twenty cups of juice. I divided it into four batches to make it more manageable. Each batch was five cups of juice, one box of pectin and seven cups of sugar.Yes, you read it right....7 cups. That is an eye opener because each tablespoon of jelly you put on your toast has more than one tablespoon of sugar. Good thing the Baltimore Orioles don't count calories because some days they eat an entire jar.  

Each of my batches made four pints of jelly plus a little bit. In the end I had seventeen jars of jelly. They ended up costing $.87 per pint (32 ounces). The store bought jelly averages 28 ounces and costs between $2.29 and $2.99 for the store brand. Welchs is more expensive. As usual making it myself saved a lot of money especially since I got the grapes free. Pure organic undiluted grape jelly.  Hopefully there will be more grapes in my future. If not, this is a great start. If the grape crop across the country is this successful, there should be plenty available for birds and for people.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Microwaved Corn on the Cob

I doubt if this post is blog worthy, but I recently learned this on Tik Tok. Yes, I watch Tik Tok videos and I learn a lot.  Some things work out and some things don't. Some things are gross and some are not. It was a struggle at first because of my age. I got mostly videos of old people having Alzheimer's or dying of Cancer. It was not a good thing for me. I soon learned I could change my algorithm. I started searching for recipes, fun hacks or crafty projects. It changed what was presented to me most of the time. If I'm not interested I just scroll on.  

I promised after my last two blogs, which were a little heavy, I would write something more lighthearted. I also don't want to forget how to do this. 

Right now is the beginning of corn on the cob season.  I usually don't buy corn because husking it is a pain and cooking for one person isn't worth the time.  I have microwaved it, but I still have to husk it and getting off the corn silk isn't fun for me.  I have tried all the helpful hints to remove it, but it is still annoying.  I know you can buy ready to cook corn on the cob but there are at least 4 in a package, and it gets stale a lot quicker already husked.

This is what I learned.

1.  Take a cob of unhusked corn.


 2.  Put it in the microwave.

3.  Microwave for 4 minutes, remove from microwave and cut off the stalk end.

4,  Squeeze the fully cooked corn out of it's husk.

5.  The corn is cooked perfectly and ready to eat.  Almost no silk, I see one little piece on mine.  

No muss and No fuss. Now I know some of my readers are going to mention a "what if". What if there is a worm in the corn? That hasn't happened to me but which is worse, removing a live wriggly worm or a fully cooked one? Just cut that part off. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Growing Up In The 1960's

This blog is a little personal and out of my comfort zone but sometimes events happen in life that spark memories that were deeply buried. That happened to me twice last week. The first was a book I read.  It was called "The Girl In His Shadow." It took place in London in the mid-1800's. The main character was a woman whose entire family died in a cholera epidemic. She was very ill but was healed and taken in by the local doctor. Through her life she didn't follow the girls of her age by doing homemaking and embroidery. She learned all about medicine from the doctor she lived with. I won't give the book away but it was not accepted for women to be in medicine. She was more accomplished than the men around her but she couldn't get a medical license. She had to "hide in his shadow".  

I never had to hide in anyone's shadow, but the fact that this woman was interested in a profession where very few women existed fascinated me. When I was growing up I didn't want to be a secretary, teacher or nurse although they were and are noble professions. I was just of a different mindset. I didn't even realize it or know there were other options at the time. I didn't grow up with out of the box thinkers. My parents were so loving and wonderful but they really weren't supportive of going against the grain. On the heels of thinking about this book came a call from my grandson.  He is taking a psychology class this summer.  He was required to interview a female and male over the age of 60. Since I am well over the age requirement, I was happy to do it. The main questions revolved around what it was like as a woman growing up. I grew up in an era where the role of women was much different from what they are today. Our role models were television shows where the "Leave it to Beaver" generation showed moms dressed in heels, aprons and house dresses. They sent their husbands off to work. baked, cleaned and had dinner ready at 5:00pm. We had dress codes in school.  Girls were required to wear dresses and boys dress pants with their shirts tucked in and a belt.  By the 1960's things started to change. Moms began to go to work, girls were starting to get opportunities to advance, but there were still areas that didn't accept females. I was aware of a few woman doctors, lawyers and professional women, but not personally. Half way through college, I wanted to change majors from teaching to business or accounting. I ran into many road blocks that turned into stop signs. I was once offered a job but I had to promise I would not have children. I declined so I don't know if it was a verbal agreement or if I would have been required to sign something. Women could not have their own credit or credit cards. If they were married, their income was not considered when applying for a mortgage or an auto loan. I remember in the mid 1970's I was able to apply for my own credit card so I could create my own credit history. I have many stories of working for the good old boys and getting so embarrassed by comments. There was no recourse. It happened to everyone but it totally messed with my self esteem. I so admired women who could speak up for themselves and keep on going and ignoring the roadblocks to reach their potential. My husband was very supportive of women. His mother owned her own business when that was unusual, therefore our daughters succeeded well beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I give him total credit for that.  He was a very forward thinker.

It was a time of activism. John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated in the 1960's, There were riots in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and curfews, the Vietnam war required that young people sign up, and Watergate happened in the early 1970's. I knew people killed in the riots and the war.  Young people don't really understand that people of my age grew up in very turbulent times. They think what is going on now is unique to them, and it is unique, but not necessarily harder. Imagine what it was like to have the telephone attached to the wall with a four foot cord. Likewise I hadn't realized what it was like for my dad to be in World War II and how at twenty years of age he flew 44 bombing missions in an airplane without seats or a bathroom.  Sometimes those missions were eleven hours long. Each era has had it's challenges.

I think my take on life surprised my grandson. His grandma isn't usually so candid and vocal. I had a good life, but I wish I would have known the opportunities women have now. I might have chosen the same life, but it would have been nice to have had more of a choice. I love that girls can be welders, auto mechanics, truck drivers, astronauts or anything they want. There are exceptions to everything like the woman in my book, but I was so naive I had no idea. I would be interested in the male perspective. Maybe my grandson will share that with me someday. Also other women growing up in a different household may have had another experience.  I should add that my mother worked for a woman optometrist in the mid 1940's. She wanted to send my mom to optometry school at the University of Minnesota but my mom declined.  She wanted to be a housewife. 

I promise my next blog will be more lighthearted. 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

I'm Not Going Down Without A Fight

Recently my friend wrote a blog about her parents and how aging is such a slow process we barely notice especially if we see the person on a regular basis. She mentioned how things that were really important like clothing, house upkeep, hobbies and activities gradually get less important. Her excellent blog is https://www.feelingthepath.com 

I got to thinking. Is that happening to me, and I don't even realize it? It probably is but I am going to fight that tooth and nail because I know it will come eventually. As with my friend, I saw the very same things happen to my parents. Up until the end my mom would have me go to the store for certain ingredients because she had every intention of making that meatloaf or baking a cake. She didn't do it, but she wanted to.  

For my entire adult life I have decorated for various holidays. Some years it wasn't much, but I liked doing it. Now every holiday I struggle saying to myself that it is too much work, no one sees it or it's the same thing every year. I have blogged about this and got many comments from people my age not bothering anymore. Then I can't help myself, and I dig out the decorations. I now realize this is a good thing. This year was no exception. I put up Valentines in February and St. Patrick's Day decorations in March. In May and before Memorial Day I got out the red, white and blue. I thought if I put a few things out, I would be decorated until after the 4th of July. Even a little change helps the mood.  This year I even made new doilies. 


The same is true with furniture. I really need new chairs. After my mom died and my dad moved in with us, I got my parents power recliners. My dad sat and slept in them all the time, and they are really showing wear. I am at the stage where it's easier to keep them than shop for new chairs and dispose of the old ones. Maybe I should reconsider that. 

Then there are clothing items. I am sure my clothes are out of style, but most things I see in stores look worse than what I already have. Is that the trap? My mind is slowly convincing myself what I have is fine, and it really doesn't matter anyway.  

There is no real message in this blog except do what you can for as long as you can. When you aren't even looking things change, so I crocheted a sunflower doily, I ordered another pair of new shoes, bought paint for my front door and got a half gallon of chocolate ice cream.  I'm not going down without a fight.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Three For The Price Of One

I am writing this short blog today as a reminder to myself.  So much information comes into our lives daily.  I have to write things down that I used to file in my brain.

On Mother's Day my daughter gave me a beautiful hanging plant.  It contained a Fuchsia plant, a Begonia and a New Guinea Impatient plant.  I had read that nurseries crowd plants into the baskets so they are beautiful for the moment.  I looked at my plant and thought it was rather crowded.  Experience had taught me that the blooms on these plants are hard to sustain.

I decided to split my one basket into three so they had plenty of room for the roots to spread out.  It worked out better than I had imagined.  




 Next Spring I will do the same thing.  The trick will be remembering that I wrote this blog.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Mystery of the Popping Hip

Sometimes growing older presents some challenges. Don't get me wrong, there are also a lot of good things as long as a person stays fairly healthy. There are less expectations from everyone. My family, especially my grandchildren, treat me as a fragile old lady so I'm not expected to do so many physical things. I can sit out playing basketball and jumping on a trampoline. They hug me and pat me on the back. I sit in a chair and watch them. I hardly have to drive anywhere. I only drove 5,000 this entire year, and I get invited for meals regularly.

In my attempt at better health I started walking for exercise a while ago. My algorithm promotes walking every time I open social media so I figured it was probably the safest form of exercise for me apart from the chair yoga that also pops up regularly. That might me my next option. All winter I walked on the treadmill, but as soon as the ice was gone I walked outside. All was well. I enjoyed it so much more than walking inside the house. Never being satisfied with the status quo, I tried to increase my heart rate and better my time slightly everyday. I am not a runner and my personal best times are like a turtle, but I was down to seventeen minute miles. Then it happened. My hip started popping with every step. I googled it and it is something that happens to dancers and elite runners. I am neither but just plain old pushing the envelope. I backed off slightly but the hip pop continued. I read that stretching and rest was the cure. I am not going to the doctor for this unless it gets painful. They will prescribe pain pills, and I want to avoid any of that. 

For two weeks I didn't go on my walks and I stretched as best I could. It didn't help a great deal, and so I decided to get some new shoes. Shoes break down overtime and mine were pretty old. They still looked fine, but a lot of people look wonderful and are a mess inside. I went to a store specifically for running and walking shoes called Fleet Feet. When I arrived they had me stand on a measuring device and the information was recorded on an iPad. Then I had to walk across a mat several times to record how I walk. We sat down afterward and they went over the information. It measures the foot, determines the arch and where you put the most pressure. After that they bring out options. Here is the shocking part. I always wore a 8 1/2 shoe. It isn't tiny and is pretty average for a woman, but now I measured 9.3.  The salesperson said they always round up a size so because I was so close to 9 1/2, he brought out a 10 1/2. WHAT??  I wasn't buying skis! I tried on several pair and settled on a certain shoe.  They felt really good. Of course they did. I had two inches of toe space. I walked back and forth and my hip was not popping. I was thrilled. I wore them out of the store. There was a 60 day return policy if they didn't work out.


My next stop was the grocery store. I was a little self conscious about the size. I kept humming "My Darling Clementine". The part that says "and her shoes were number 9 (or 10 1/2) herring boxes". You young people won't understand this reference, but there actually is an old song with this title.  It's a sad song so be prepared. There was a learning curve wearing these shoes especially on navigating corners and getting out of the car but overall they felt good. Then the popping started again. The difference was I could make it stop my shifting my foot in the shoe. I worked with tying the shoes tighter or looser. That was a few weeks ago. I went back to walking every other day. Then yesterday it didn't pop at all on my whole walk, but that isn't always the case. It comes and goes. Sometimes my other leg hurts. I am walking slower with a shorter stride. Whether it has healed with time or its the $150 clown shoes, I am not sure, but I hope it continues to improve. It's probably old age, and I should be grateful I can do as well as I can.  I kept the shoes. Next time I will downsize slightly, but overall the shoes helped. In my opinion it's a much better option than therapy and pain pills. 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

A Belated Mother's Day


We all know Mother's Day is a Hallmark holiday and that mothers (and fathers) should be celebrated all year long, not just on a pre-determined day. I am not writing about my own Mother’s Day this year. Mothers come in all forms. Mothers are special in the wildlife realm as well. This is a bit of a belated Mother's Day story.

Back on April 10-12, I noticed a pair of Sandhill Cranes making a nest. I was familiar with this behavior because I have seen it before. They love marsh grasses and cattail grass. While both parents gather the grasses, Mama Sandhill stands in the center stomping it down. Two years ago I watched this same process very close to my deck, but unfortunately it didn't end so well.  
That is why I anxiously watched and am so delighted to see a successful hatch this year. I have read that Sandhill Crane pairs mate for life, and they usually return to the same area. I am hoping this pair is the same pair as I have seen for a few years, but I will never know that for sure. Around April 13, I noticed they had begun sitting on the nest. Since both mom and dad sit on the nest, I am not sure which is which.  I think the female sits all night and about mid morning he comes to give her a break. He sits until early evening when she returns for the night shift. If he doesn't return in a timely fashion, she starts hollering until he comes back. I believe it's the female yelling because the males usually call with their heads straight up toward the sky. A Female’s call is usually from a horizontal position. The weather was cold, windy, and rainy at times, but they persevered and made it through.  




Their eggs usually hatch in 28-30 days, but Baby Sandhill arrived on day 27, May 10. We had 90 degree temperatures and the young one probably couldn't stand the heat. It needed to escape. It was really hard to see the hatch, but I could see the egg shell. If you look closely, you can see shell in the next photo.

Less than 24 hours later the parents have left the nest with their offspring following close behind. They did return to the nest and incubated all night. I was hoping the second egg would hatch, but it appears to be abandoned. It probably wasn't viable. I briefly saw the egg when she stood up to stretch, but about mid morning they left again and haven't returned to that nesting spot. 





It will be so much fun to watch how fast the baby grows. I really hope they stay in this location for a while. They are surrounded by water and it seems safe from predators.  Although they wandered off a little further today and I lost track of them for a while, they returned and currently are directly across from my deck. The baby can't fly so wherever they go, it will be on foot. The baby has grown already and it's only a few days old at this point.

My other nesting pair are Mourning Doves. I decorate my porch for all seasons. Last summer I had a hanging basket lined with some type of fiber. When fall came, I removed the flowering plant I had in it and put in some fall foliage. Then in the winter I put in some pine cones, pine boughs and colored balls. This spring I removed the boughs but left the hanging basket thinking I would be getting some flowers soon. We didn't know that Mother Nature had a different plan for us this Spring.  It was way too cold here in Wisconsin to put flowers outside. On April 23, I noticed some activity in the basket. I often see birds perch on the porch so I didn't think a lot about it. Then my porch camera started to go off. A pair of Mourning Doves was preparing a nest in the basket. He would bring items, and she would arrange them. Usually Mourning Doves are pretty sloppy with their nest building. I have had them build nests with only a half dozen criss-crossed sticks out in the open on a platform. These nests never did well and blew away almost immediately. They often lay eggs and raise babies under our deck on a flat cross beam. This is the first time I saw them take such care with the nest. He brought feathers, flowers from a dried up hydrangea bloom, little twigs and pine straw. 

When everything was arranged as they liked it, the egg laying began. As with a lot of birds, or at least the ones I have observed, they lay one egg a day. I have watched the bluebirds do it. They usually lay 4-6 eggs in total. I have seen the wood ducks do this as well. Incubation doesn't start until all the eggs are laid. Mourning doves have several broods so they usually only have two eggs.

When all the eggs are laid, the process begins. I don't know the male from the female but they do take turns sitting on the nest. I have to go out my front door on occasion but if I am quiet, they aren't disturbed. I was worried they would be so stressed out by having to leave each time the door opened that they would abandon the nest. That is not the case. She (or he) just watches but doesn't fly off unless startled. 

Incubation for a Mourning Dove is only 10 days compared to almost 30 days for the Sandhill Cranes, and the Mourning Dove babies arrived on May 12. This was just after the first egg hatched and before the second egg. You can see the egg is cracking in the next photo. The mom immediately removed the egg shell after the hatch.

It has been an exciting few days.  I hope the Sandhill family does well and I will see them visit my bird feeders as soon as the baby can forage. For the first ten days, the parents feed it but then the colt is on its own.  I don't worry as much for the Mourning Doves.  They grow very fast and are on their own.  This pair will probably have more broods this summer.  They will have to nest elsewhere because I need my porch for my flowers!

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Some Answers Come In Mysterious Ways

 

My husband passed away on June 8, 2021 at the age of 76.  His sudden death was a surprise to us even though he was living with a little known or understood genetic disease.  People would ask his cause of death, and I had to be very vague.  It wasn't because I didn't want to talk about it, but it was because we really didn't know until recently.  Comedian Gilbert Godfrey died on April 12, 2022.  His cause of death was heart failure as a result of Myotonic Dystrophy.  Through the media reports and facts about the disease posted by his family, we have learned more about what most likely happened to my husband Mike. 

Let me start from the beginning.  Several years ago my husband's brother was having some muscle and swallowing difficulties.  He went to several doctors and was finally diagnosed with a disease called Myotonic Dystrophy.  It is an inherited disease that affects the muscles.  There are two types.  Type 1 usually appears in the early years of life and is very debilitating.  Type 2 doesn't appear until middle adulthood.  The symptoms are so subtle that it doesn't always cause obvious problems for a long time.  My husband was so strong and capable it didn't occur to us that having cataracts at age 50 was anything out of the ordinary.  Most doctors know nothing about this disease and most have never even heard of it.  Years went by before his brother found out his diagnoses and alerted my husband to the problem.  Being in denial, we felt terrible for his brother, but since inheriting it was a 50/50 chance, we assumed that he was fine.  He was fine for many years and then gradually he began having some difficulty saying some words and swallowing certain foods.  He checked out healthy for his wellness checkups so there were no red flags.  Then about three years ago he was having soreness in his shoulder and was sent to physical therapy.  He told the therapist that he probably over did the exercise because he was having discomfort near his upper chest.  They told him that wouldn't be where he would feel pain and to go directly to the doctor.  He found out that day that he had A-fib or Atrial Fibrillation.  We were just about to go on vacation but the doctor assured us it would be fine.  He was given medication, and we were told to monitor his heart rate and blood pressure.  I have to say we were a bit obsessed with doing that because this was the first time heart issues were ever mentioned.  We were on vacation with my sister and brother in law.  I am sure we were not much fun on that trip with this new diagnosis in our minds.  When we returned home from our trip, we had the first appointment with a cardiologist.  His first words were "why do you talk like that".  We explained the Myotonic diagnosis and that it sometimes affects speech.  The doctor pretty much ignored that and said his Afib was probably caused from sleep apnea.  He ordered a sleep study and sure enough that is what he had.  We got set up with a  CPAP machine and all was well.  Mike hated the machine and had a hard time finding a proper mask, but he used it religiously every night.  He checked out good with the heart doctor and only needed to see him every year.  That was until last spring, about a year ago.  He had a routine echocardiogram and it found he had some numbers that weren't great.  It was suggested he get more tests and possibly a pacemaker.  They said the lower chambers in his heart weren't beating in unison.  We were set up for further testing, but before that appointment could even happen his heart rate started being erratic and we went to the ER.  He spent the next 12 days having tests and procedures.   He was written off by almost every doctor he saw.  They passed the buck from one to the other.  No one could give us good answers and not one knew anything about Myotonic Dystrophy except what they read on the internet.  After 12 days of getting nowhere we just wanted to go home.  A few days later he suddenly and peacefully died.  At the time we didn't really know what happened, he just went to sleep.

Now back to the Gilbert Godfried story.   Shortly after his death we received a text from someone about Gilbert's cause of death.  It was from ventricular tachycardia, a result of his long illness with Myotonic Dystrophy.  Included with the death notice was information that we had never heard or seen before.  It stated that this Myotonic Dystrophy disease can present itself in many forms depending what muscles are affected.  It can be legs and arms, eyes, breathing, swallowing, vocal cords or the heart.  It said death can be sudden from a fatal drop in blood pressure. Ventricular tachycardia is a rapid heartbeat preventing the heart from pumping enough blood into the body.  If this lasts too long it can cause the heart to stop beating.  That is exactly what happened, my husband's heart just stopped beating. 

Gilbert Godfried's family has requested donations be made to the University of Rochester for Myotonic Research.   They are doing research and gathering information.  I could never have imagined that the death of a well known personality would answer some of our questions.  Hopefully awareness and research can bring successful treatments and early diagnosis to peoples lives so they can live healthy productive lives.  One of the neurologists we saw said, "this disease won't kill you but problems created  from it could".  He was so right.  

https://www.rochester.edu/giving/crowdfunding?cfpage=/o/university-of-rochester/i/rochestergives/s/myotonic-dystrophy-type-2-research 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Princess My Party

As my life plods along day to day I noticed it moves at a much slower pace.  Mentally, physically and emotionally I have turned from the Energizer bunny to the tortoise, but the days and years still pass by quickly.  As long as I close the circles on my smartwatch, I feel pretty accomplished.  Anyone who doesn't know about a smartwatch, it allows you to set standing, exercise and moving goals.  I have to stand up every hour for 12 hours, I have to exercise 30 minutes a day and move enough to burn at least 270 calories.  This was a good day.  They aren't all like that but I try.

Some people are motivated without the encouragement of devices or others, but I'm not one of those people.  I have to see it in a tangible form to be accountable.  It could just as easy be a pencil and paper, but a smartwatch is more fun.

As the days go by for me, they also zoom by for everyone else.  That includes my family.  One day your grandchildren are toddlers and the next they are grown adults.  I have written about all of them over the past ten years.  Yesterday my granddaughter came over to do a project for her part time job, and I realized that it's been a long time since I wrote of her.  I started blogging when she had just turned twelve, and she didn't appreciate me sharing everything.   Now she is 21.  I asked if I could write about her latest endeavor and she said "yes".  She said I had been posting without her permission for years so it was fine.  I thought I had been really good about over sharing, but apparently not perfect.

I admit I have posted about her love for acting and the high school plays.  After high school and since the start of COVID she hasn't had much opportunity for performing.   This winter she remembered being told of a company she may be interested in.  During her senior pictures the photographer could see she had a flare and suggested she look into a company called Princess My Party.  She called them and was hired.  She has a full time job but this was the opportunity for a part time job doing what she loves.  She gets to dress up as characters. It's mostly parties for children or an event of some kind.   The people that hire them can choose the character and activities such a story reading, face painting, singing and others.  She has been mascots like Paw Patrol and the Easter Bunny, Barbie, Anna from Frozen 2, Ariel from the Little Mermaid and many others.   She will be at my house tonight to do a Facebook live.  

Here are just a couple photos I have.  I didn't dare copy from the www.princessmyparty.com website.  They are on all forms of social media if you want to search for Princess My Party.  


Our life is a culmination of all of our memories.  Some are good and some are bad.  Not one person has the same life story.  I have a feeling no matter how long my granddaughter sticks with this job, she will always remember it fondly. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

What To Do With Old Slides and Movies?

Over the years I have talked about many small appliances but rarely do I write about technology items that I can't live without.  I was reminded of this from a recent photo I posted on Facebook.  It was taken from a 45 year old slide.  In the 1970's nothing was digital.  If you took photos, you would load film into the camera and take the pictures.  You never knew if they were good or bad until you had the film developed.  You could get printed pictures or have them made into slides.  Those slides had to be viewed on a special projector.  We thought it was great to see our pictures on the big screen.  It was a version of the old movie camera.  Those movies were put on reels and were also shown on a screen with a special projector.  Never did any of us think we could some day take photos or movies from our phones.  Now if a shot doesn't turn out, we just delete it and try again.  

We had a lot of slides from the early 1970's.  I had them in a box and out of sight.  One day as I was cleaning and organizing, I came across them.  I held them up to the light and could tell they were from a long time ago.  This is when I decided to google saving slides to the computer.  Surprisingly there were a lot of options, but I decided to order this.  It is a slide viewer.  If you like the picture and you want to save it, it can be saved on an SD card or you can transfer it to your computer.  It was a lot of fun viewing these old pictures.

I had just recently gone through all of our old slides, when we received a package in the mail.  It was from my husband's brother.  He had taken all their old family movies from the 1940's and had them put on CD's.  We had only viewed these movies on a jumpy old projector, but now they are preserved on disks.  They will be preserved until CD's are obsolete and then the next generation will have to figure out how to view them with more modern media.  I know we still have several BetaMax tapes that can't be viewed.  We even bought a machine that converts tapes from Beta to VHS but you needed a Beta machine and a VHS machine.  I managed to figure out converting VHS tapes but not the Beta machine.  The Beta player was so old, it chewed up the first beta tape we tried to copy.  Technology changes faster than we do so we still can't view them.   Maybe there is a magic device that can save these BetaMax tapes but I don't know about it, so I will pack them up for someone else to throw away in the future.  For now, I have some old movies and special slides saved. The color isn't always so good, but the originals were not of the quality we enjoy today.  They were fun to discover.

 My grandma and grandpa.

Me and my oldest daughter from 1973.

Oldest daughter shoveling snow.


Thursday, March 24, 2022

St. Patrick's Day and Spring Break 2022

Every year our family celebrates St. Patrick's Day.  It is one of our favorite holidays, and I have written about it on this blog for nine years.  My husband especially loved the holiday mainly because he liked corned beef and cabbage and there were none of the pressures associated with a holiday like Christmas. He passed away last summer, but since he loved it so much we wanted to honor him by continuing the tradition.

I prepared fifteen pounds of corned beef and two racks of barbecued ribs along with a lot of sides and sweets, but nothing ever goes completely as planned.  The day of our dinner, my oldest daughter called.  Her husband and oldest son had a stomach virus,  Neither of them were even able to get out of bed.  We knew this virus was going around but no one had gotten it yet.  Since they didn't want to spread it to the rest of us, none of them came.  Suddenly half of our group would be missing.  Despite missing everyone, we had a great time and a lot of leftovers which were enjoyed later.  


Our leprechaun named Shamus had started to move back into his summer home.  He is a tricky little guy, but some new household items appeared in his house so we knew he was in the area.  His home needs a little upgrading before he moves in permanently.  It will be exciting to see what he does with the place.  Just search for St. Patrick's Day in the search bar if you want to follow the hunt for Shamus over the years. 

My grandson Ewan made a beautiful Leprechaun cake.  He is always up for a challenge and this definitely was that.  He posted the process on his YouTube channel Old Time Skills.  Leprechaun Cake  


It was a nice day, but the next day or two, the virus hit again.  Two more members of the family got sick even though they had no contact with the others.  

Five days later it seemed that everyone was feeling good and on track.  I had planned a short Spring break trip to Florida with my family.  It had been a long winter, and we were looking forward to a little warmth and sunshine.  Six of us headed to the airport, we went through security and were waiting at our gate.  Then it happened.  The virus hit again.  Another person got sick.  This time it was my thirteen year old grandson.  There was no way he could fly.  My daughter cancelled their tickets and took him back home leaving me with a 17 year old, a 21 year old and my son-in-law.  My daughter had planned to take another flight the next day.  It didn't happen.  It was impossible to make connections and still have time in Florida.  We were left with an odd group of people, but it still turned out well for me.  I'm not sure how two young adults and my son-in-law felt about spending that much time with grandma.  I got to visit with some very good friends I hadn't seen in a long time.  That was very special.  We ate at some fun restaurants.  They ordered alligator, fried green tomatoes and hush puppies to name a few.  I even branched out a little.


We also spent some time at the beach.  Our house was just a short walk away.  It was a full moon during our time there, and so beautiful to see it rising.   




It wasn't the vacation any of them had planned, but I really appreciate that they included me.  If I didn't want to do some things, they understood.  One day they went to the Kennedy Space Center, and I stayed back to explore a bit.

I am now home and back to reality.  Spring is on it's way to Wisconsin, but it isn't here quite yet.  The temperatures are slowly rising, the grass is turning green and the ice is gone, making room for the migrating ducks.  It is truly a rebirth.  Everyone is back in good shape.  The strange part of the virus is that it hit all the men in the family.  Six in all but none of the girls.  2022 will be a spring to remember.