Friday, December 30, 2011

I Take It All Back

She is NOT a heartless, remorseless girl, she is a beautiful teen-ager with admirable manners, and great writing skills.

When I picked up my mail, I thought it was another Christmas card, it was the right shape, but it was instead a lovely thank-you for the red and yellow (gold) ankewarmers. Besides thank-you, she also wrote that the anklewrmers would be very welcome for walks from campus building to building.

That girl was showing her true colors! I do not receive, nor do I expect, a thank-you from someone whom I have talked to, but sometimes my anklewaremers travel to other homes, and I have received many thank-yous from people I have never met, or perhaps seldom see.

Stay warm.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Showing my Mean Side

If I can't find a bakery that makes salt-rising bread, at least I'm getting a lot of amusement out of my efforts.

Recently, I went to Dean and Deluca's for the first time. I've never seen so many speciality foods in one place. I went looking for chestnut puree, but also discovered they have a bakery that SPECIALIZES in s]SPECIALTY breads.

I can always tell in advance, by the facial expressons, what the answer is going to be. When I asked my question at Dean and Deluca, I've never seen such a BLANK expression. I've seen blank before, but not this kind of blank. Then there was a flicker of something else: Is this some kind of crazy persons I'm dealing with, I'm glad there is a big high counter between her and me, because she must be crazy.

Alas, no salt-rising bread here, either. Not only do the bakers not bake salt-rising bread, they've never heard of it. Their loss.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reporting a Theft !

I want to report the theft of a pair of anklewarmers.

The granddaughter of some friends of mine stole (yes, STOLE, as in "to steal") her father's ankle warmers.

Well, that was the first report. Upon the receipt of more information, it appears that the anklewarmers she stole were pink, which was NOT the color her father had chosen for himself. It's true, he also chose a pair of pink anklewarmers, which were intended for his wife.

But the theft still stands. This heartless girl stole her MOTHER'S anklewarmers. And now, she's not even remorseful -- she wants another pair in her school colors. I don't want to single out this thief by telling you her name, but the colors where she goes to college are red and yellow. Any guesses where that might be?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reminder to One's-self

Reminder to one's-self: When you take a potluck dish for a Christmas party that is hosted at a fire station, don't prepare your contribution to the dinner in a favorite bowl or platter that you have to take home. Put your food in a throw-away container that you can leave behind because the firemen, who have been the hosts, can soon finish the left-overs after you've gone home.

My ankle warmers were warmly received by the smart, intelligent, clever, forward-thinking, astute members of the group. The other thick-headed, idiot dolts, who claim they are so warm-blooded that they don't need anyhing as sissy as a pair of ankle warmers, well, it's your tough luck. Don't come to us for sympathy when it's 41 degrees below!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Like Sweaters for Your Ankles

How can I describe ankle warmers? They're not like the leg warmers that ballet dancers wear, or those legging things that are wrapped around race horses' ankles.

I've got it -- ankle warmers are like sweaters for your ankles.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


We made a quick run to Ottawa this afternoon, took the opportunity to stop at the Keim Bakery on South Main for a treat.

At most bakeries it's hard to find something tasty that isn't drenched in heavy, sugary frosting. I have a mean trick I like to play at bakeries -- I ask the clerk, as if I am asking for the most ordinary, everyday thing, if they have salt-rising bread. Most frequently, the answer is a puzzled expression.

Today the young clerk looked very thoughtful, and replied in the negative, but went on to say that someone had come in the previous week with the same question.

It all led to a conversation with two bakers, who said they had heard of salt-rising bread but had never made it. I remarked that salt-rising bread has a distinctive odor, and one of the bakers returned that he had worked with several sour-dough formulas, all of which had a noticable smell.

I promised to come back if they would make salt-rising bread, so now I'm going to have to keep an eye on the Keim Bakery -- I hope they have a website. I'd be delighted to make good on my promise.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Yarn ?

Today I traded in a credit, almost a year old, for two balls of black yarn. I settled for black because I couldn't find the colors I really wanted. Got a project in mind, and it's not a pair of ankle warmers, and it will take a lot more than two balls of yarn.

It's a big project -- might take me all winter. My dear aunt, GZD, once gave me a set of instructions for knitting a sweater, and said, "This is the only sweater pattern you'll ever need." She herself made many sweaters, including two for me, from that pattern.

I have used the same instructions to make a button-down-the-front sweater for Aunt Mary, one for Aileen, and one for Ada Mae. The one for Ada Mae was the hardest because the yarn was so delicate and light it was hard to keep it in place to work with. I don't plan to ever use that kind of yarn again. But the sweater was beautiful.

So . . . I need to find the pattern instructions . . . and the rest of the colors for the result I have in mind.

I will be looking for a specialty yarn to incorporate into the project. I have seen the colors I want during previous visits to other yarn shops, but of course, now that I really want those colors, they are impossible to find.

Until I find the perfect yarn, and the instructions, it's back to ankle warmers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I'm no longer the walker that once I was, so I declined the invitation to walk in the Maple Leaf Parade in Carthage, MO, today. Instead, I offered to take pictures.

And probably walked an equal distance just getting into position to take pictures of the group, a total of five walkers.

First thing was finding the group's position in the parade line-up. I parked a few blocks east of the courthouse square, and finally found them on the west side of the courthouse square. Shivering in their jackets, their red tee-shirts hidden from view. Told them I would see them somewhere along the parade route.

Not surprised that I wasn't able to park within two blocks of the route. Had to walk uphill, consoled myself that it would be down hill coming back to the car. I had calculated that I wanted to be on the east side of the street, with the sun at my back. Didn't like the back ground at that intersection, so I moved a block to the north. I had been told that the crowd would be very evenly dispersed along most of the route, found that to be true. Stopped across from two lovely, stately old homes.

I knew their number, and tried to keep track, but very few parade units had their number in a visible spot. An older gentleman booted me out of my first chosen spot. I moved a few feet away to stake out another place. Sat down on the curb, partly to give my leg a rest and partly to make it more difficult to ask me to move.

The third parade unit was a mounted troup, followed by a vehicle with a small trailer accompanied by two walkers equipped with shovels and scoops. Yep, the horses did what horses do. Amusing, however, that the pooper-scooper vehicle was none other than the candidate for re-election as sheriff, who is currently involved in a very smelly argument, with accusations being tossed about every week.

My group finally arrived -- number 78. Took a few shots from the curb, stumbled to my feet, tried to follow them, but they were moving too fast. So I trudged back to my car and wondered if I could manage to intercept them again near the finish.

Parked this time within one block of the marching route, within two blocks of the finish. This time I remained on my feet. The parade having made a ninety-degree turn, I was now on the south of the street, the sun still nicely behind my back. Got better pictures this time.

Walked with the group another block or so (uphill). At the finish line I declared I must have completed the walk with them, because here I was at the end. Had a few problems with the camera, but the experience was good, and I seriously considered buying myself a camera later in the day.

Monday, October 10, 2011

In Search of Pirandello

I’m posting this here, because it doesn’t seem to fit into my other blog, , but it doesn’t really fit into a knitting blog, either.

In my teens, when I first timidly thought about wanting to be a writer, I encountered a reference to something called Six Characters In Search of an Author.

Somehow, I was encouraged. Somewhere out there were characters in search of an author. If only these characters would find me, I would be an author.

That didn’t happen right away. Through the years the phrase would rarely come to my attention again, and I would be intrigued, but I did not pursue it any further.

Until Chicago.

In the Chicago Tribune I learned that an acting company would be performing the play, Six Characters in Search of an Author, on a certain Sunday afternoon.

I found the venue, deserted, shabby, untidy. Why didn’t I turn back? Alone, I found the elevator. Got out on the designated floor. Had I not found a hand-lettered sign announcing the performance I surely would have abandoned the premises. I advanced to the rear of the floor to find a rough set of empty wooden bleachers which faced an empty stage. It was a perfect introduction to what was to follow.

Shortly, another confused individual came through the doorway from the elevators and took a seat on the bleachers, not too close to be uncomfortable, but near enough to occasionally engage in conversation.

“When does it start?” he asked.

“I have no idea.”

A couple of people walked onto the stage from the wings and began trying to bring some kind of order to an odd conglomeration of furniture on the stage.

Suddenly, from the left, appeared another man, who called to the people on the stage, in an apparent discussion of what they were trying to do. He carried an armload of garments; one might suppose he was bringing costumes.

Clearly, although the clock had reached the time when the play was supposed to begin, the actors were scarcely prepared.

Thus began Six Characters in Search of an Audience. Luigi Pirandello’s masterpiece.

And I’m still struggling to become a writer, still looking for characters who are looking for me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Finished One, Started Another

I did the finishing work on a shawl (I love to knit, but hate the final sewing up that is sometimes required), and started a new work, which I am calling as a working title, "Son of a Pig-Thief."

Had about 500 words, and realized that I already had TWO flash-backs, each in a slightly different time frame ! Some critics advise that a writer should not use a flash-back until the sixth page -- or some magical number.

One thing I have done in advance is make a list of the characters, and given them all names (had to use the phone book and the atlas for that task). Also wrote a one-page description, not a synopsis, because it does not include the ending, but pretty well sets the scene. I'm ready to talk to Bill Murray about starring in the film version.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My 'Other Blog"

This is my 'other blog." Not getting much knitting done, too busy oscillating between home and Joplin. Recovery is slow. In the first days after the May 22 tornado, the view of rubble wherever one turned was overwhelming. Then people began moving the rubble into piles at the curbing, and that view of what had been most peope's most treasured possession, their homes, was equally distressing. Now, in late September, there are scattered signs of rebuilding, but mostly the ground is cleared, and the view is still disheartening -- one can see so far in all directions that an entire one-third of the city has been wiped clean.

My daughter tells me that the Empire Power Company were immediate and heroic in restoring power to the 'other' hospital, but it took three days to return to normal water pressure. In the meantime, volunteers trod the hallways with bucket brigades to maintain the bathrooms with minimum functionality. The ER and OR sent instruments to a sister hospital in Neosho to be sterilized. Three days ! ! !

The 'other hospital'? I guess that's the new name for Freeman. All the media talked about the destruction of St. John's, but seldom referred to Freeman by name.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Confession: I'm from Arkansas

That's not totally true. The truth is: I'm partly from Arkansas.

I put down my knitting long enough to read a new book about the Delta rice country around DeWitt. I've never been to DeWitt, but there were enough touchstones in the story for me to feel completely at home. Jo McDougall said it took her six years to write the book, with her husband's help, who corrected her on such vital issues as the make of tractor which was used on the farm.

Ever since my knee surgery three years ago, I've had an irregular sleep pattern, often wide-wake in the middle of the night. With Daddy's Money: A Memoir of Farm and Family I read late into the night, finally dropping the book on my chest and sleeping straight through until morning. You might catch Jo around at book signings, or get it from the University of Arkansas Press.

Friday, July 29, 2011


This morning a friend asked several of us if we remembered roller skate keys.

Oh, gosh, do I remember. Next time I see her, I'll have to ask what she remembers about roller skates.

My roller skate key, at the age of eight, was my key to the door of independence. At first it was up and down the sidewalk, and then around the entire block, and then . . . I often got at least a dozen blocks from home, along streets shaded with huge overhead trees, blocks of commercial and retails businesses, or boulevards of larger homes and churches, a world in which I was free to roam as long as I was home in time for supper.

Some years ago a popular singer came out with a song about, "I've got a brand-new pair of roller skates . . .," and I was obsessively delighted at the image. I totally ignored the naughty line about "have you got a key?" as I recalled my childhood days of carefree exploration, whizzing along the sidewalks of mid-town Kansas City.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lots of Ways to Lose Your Mind

There are plenty of ways to lose your mind. Some people lose their minds in a tornado -- that's where mine went.

At first, I didn't realize it was gone. All of us -- probably about 40 -- emerged from the devastated IHOP on Rangeline with scarcely a scratch. Of course, our cars were demolished and we had no transportation, and nothing could be seen around us in the twilight except a leveled landscape. Leaning up against a remaining bit of wall at IHOP was a sign (from across the street) proclaiming the building to be Arby's!

The first few hours were spent in making phone calls to other family members and friends, and once it had been determined that all were relatively safe and unharmed, falling exhausted into bed (not realizing that there were thousands who did not have beds to sleep in that night).

The next days I was like a zombie, absorbing new, terrifying, heartbreaking details of what had happened. My daughter, a neurosurgeon, came home from the hospital some 36 hours later. A friend, desperately looking for a nephew, called her, and I remember hearing her say that if she had seen the young man as a tornado-injured patient, she would have recognized him. Will Norton's body was found several days later in a pond.

I began to suspect that my mind had gone when my sister-in-law remarked that people who had been entirely outside the tornado's path were still suffering post-tornado trauma, jumping at sudden noises, wandering around the house wondering what they had intended to do.

That's me. Wandering around aimlessly, sit down at the computer, and can hardly remember which button to push. Unable to follow a chain of thought with anything more than two links.

I have some hope that my mind is beginning to return -- otherwise I wouldn't be able to blog.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

LOST: Self-Discipline

Where did all my self-discipline go? I seem to have very little of it these days. I'm pretty much lacking in motivation.

Storm Losses

It's been exactly one month since we survived the Joplin tornado, unscathed but terrified, hunkered down in the kitchen of the IHOP restaurant at 20th and Rangeline in Joplin. Thanks to the timely warnings from a canny weather scout, no one at IHOP suffered serious physical injuries.

How Long? Forever !

How many minutes elapsed before the tornado finished its destruction and blew past us? I think it was roughly forever before I began to sense a lessening in the intensity of the wind. I felt that we were just below the unrelenting bristles of a giant revolving brush.

Building Design - Quality Construction

I am convinced that what saved us was the design of the building and the quality of the construction. The first IHOPs were A-frame buildings, but after that the buildings were blockier, with, fortunately, many short interior walls. I don't think the newest IHOPs follow that design, but hopefully, maybe they will reconsider and not choose to put up buildings with four walls and a large, unconnected, roof.


The aftereffects have been surprising -- to me, at any rate. Even if one survived intact in body, and having suffered no material loss, there is a mental, emotional loss to be paid. As one relative observed, even people who were entirely outside the zone of destruction are not immune to feeling stress, loss of orientation, inability to concentrate. Thoughts of the tornado occupy the default portion of the brain.

Watershed in Time

It has been helpful to read Bonar Menninger's book, And Hell Followed With It, an accounting of the June 8, 1966 tornado in Topeka, and learn that most people never forget how close they came to losing everything, including their very lives. The Joplin tornado has now claimed over 150 lives. One of them could have been me.

Patience . . . Patience . . .

Some people who were brave enough tried to salvage what they could from the wreckage. Maybe with a little patience, I'll be able to recover my self-discipline.