Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas, Cora

Have you ever volunteered for a task and later wondered why on earth you said you would do it?

Perhaps you’ve asked yourself the bigger questions of “Why am I here? What is my purpose in life?”

Laurie Fox, an Internet friend who lives in New York state, was feeling that way Dec. 12. She volunteered to deliver 10 food baskets for her church to shut-ins and the elderly. Ordinarily it wouldn’t be that big a deal.

This year, however, Laurie could have easily begged off and everyone would have understood. You see, Laurie is fighting Stage 2 Non-Hodgkin's B cell Lymphoma.

The day was bitterly cold and staying home seemed very tempting and a lot more sensible than traipsing about delivering food.

A promise is a promise, though, so Laurie dressed warmly and left to make the deliveries.

She wore a mask over her nose and mouth, as her doctor had instructed, to protect her from germs. Laurie needs to stay well; she is scheduled to be admitted to the hospital in January to receive a transplant of her own bone marrow to try to fight off the lymphoma.

Sometimes there is a purpose and plan for something larger in our lives than we can imagine. That Saturday, Laurie was about to discover why she was delivering food baskets when she could have stayed home.

The first nine deliveries of canned goods and treats were routine.

At the last home, Laurie’s knock on the door was answered by Cora, a smaller woman, probably in her early 70s Laurie guessed.

“I’ve brought some things from the church,” Laurie told her.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” Cora said. “I’ve not been feeling well today.”

Cora asked Laurie to take the groceries to the kitchen for her. Out of habit, Laurie slipped off her shoes at the front door before going to the kitchen. Laurie noticed fresh-baked bread on cooling racks as she put the groceries on the counter.

“Would you like me to put these things in the cupboard for you?” Laurie called out to Cora, who had remained in the living room.

There was no answer. Laurie thought perhaps Cora hadn’t heard her, so she went to the living room to repeat the question.

She found Cora on the floor. Checking quickly, Laurie couldn’t find a pulse and Cora wasn't breathing. Instinctively, Laurie ripped off her protective mask and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

After a minute or two with no response, Laurie knew she had to call for help. She looked around the room for a telephone, but she couldn’t see one. From her CPR training, Laurie knew she didn't dare stop CPR long enough to do a more extensive search for a telephone.

Laurie raced to her car, hit the On Star button and ran back to the house to continue administering CPR on Cora.

Within minutes a fire truck, police car and ambulance were at the house and the professionals took over. Cora had suffered a heart attack.

When things quieted down a little, Laurie got in her vehicle and started to drive off to return home. It was only then she glanced down at her feet and realized her shoes were still by the front door of Cora's living room!

A few days later, Laurie received a call from Cora thanking Laurie for saving her life.

Cora is not the only one who wants to thank Laurie.

On Thursday, Dec. 17, Laurie received a call from the New York State Police. Laurie has been named Citizen of the Year for saving Cora’s life. The awards will be presented Dec. 29 at an awards ceremony.

“There is no way I am going to that!” Laurie said emphatically.

“Between having to wear a mask and giving a short speech, I will be in hiding that day and night,” Laurie said, punctuating her sentence with a small laugh.

Thanks to Laurie, Cora is alive today and on medication to help her stay well.

Because Laurie was in exactly the right place at the right time and knew what to do, Cora will enjoy another Christmas and hopefully many more.

Merry Christmas, Laurie. Merry Christmas, Cora.

Friday, December 18, 2009

First Baptist Church blood drive

Laurie Carter and Bruce Estep were two of the donors at the blood drive Dec. 4.

First Baptist Church sponsored its first blood drive for the American Red Cross. We had a good turnout and eight first-time donors!

Thanks everyone for your help and participation and a special thank you to those who gave the gift of life.

Thank a member of the military

It's a very simple step - just go to and select a thank-you card prepared by a child. There are a number of texts and you can click on one to convey your message, or you can write your own.

The Xerox company will copy the note and card and send it to a service man or woman. You don't get to choose who receives the card.

There is no charge for this, and the whole process can take less time than it has taken me to write this.

You still have time to send some cards. It will make a difference to them and it will make your Christmas more meaningful.

Make a difference!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness

The following information and link were in an e-mail forwarded to me Tuesday, Nov. 24.

I don't know if Emily is Vollmer's daughter-in-law or if any hospital or which hospital is going to get a big donation if the video gets 1 million hits.

I do know this is a fun video to watch on a very serious subject, so just have fun watching it. If a hospital somewhere gets a nice donation, that's all the better.


Our daughter-in-law, Emily (MacInnes) Somers, created, directed andchoreographed this in Portland last week for her Medline glove divisionas a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness.



This was all her idea to help promote their new pink gloves. I don't know how she got so many employees, doctors and patients to participate, but it started to really catch on and they all had a lot of fun doing it.



When the video gets 1 million hits, Medline will be making a huge contribution to the hospital, as well as offering free mammograms for the community.



Please check it out. It's an easy and great way todonate to a wonderful cause, and who hasn't been touched by breastcancer?



Susie Vollmer

Saint Francis Medical Center Foundation

2620 West Faidley

P.O. Box 9804

Grand Island, NE 68802

Fax: 308-398-5823

* Important: Crib Recall


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Stork Craft Manufacturing Inc., of British Columbia, Canada, announced Monday, Nov. 23, the voluntary recall of more than 2.1 million Stork Craft drop-side cribs. About 147,000 Stork Craft drop-side cribs with the Fisher-Price logo are included in the recall.
If the drop-side detaches, the bodies of infants and toddlers can become entrapped in the space which can lead to suffocation. (See the photo)
This recall involves only:
1. Stork Craft drop-side cribs and those with the Fisher-Price logo
2. Only those cribs with plastic trigger and one-hand-system drop-side hardware.
3. Manufacturing dates of January 1993 to October 2009.
4. Cribs with the Fisher-Price logo, October 1997 to December 2004.
The CPSC asks parents and caregivers to:
1. Immediately stop using the recalled cribs; do not attempt to fix the cribs without a kit.
2. Contact Stork Craft to receive a free repair kit that converts the drop-side on these cribs to a fixed side. Call toll-free at (877) 274-0277 anytime to order the free repair kit, or log on to
Below is information to sign up for the CPSC e-mail subscription list that will keep you up-to-date on all recalls.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054. To join a CPSC e-mail subscription list, please go to Consumers can obtain recall and general safety information by logging on to CPSC's Web site at

Monday, November 23, 2009

Harvest Time

Sheryl Johnson, who lives in Ogallala, about 50 miles west of North Platte, sent this e-mail showing how their cornfield "privacy fence" in the top photo is gone now that the corn has been harvested.

Sheryl sent along this note with the photos:

"The corn field next to us was harvested over the past few days. What was a 600-acre privacy fence is now gone and we can see from horizon to horizon again until next August when it's above our heads.

"They will probably turn a herd of cows out there soon too, which is always interesting to have them close to the house. I will likely get some entertaining pix."

I hope you'll share some of those photos, too, Sheryl.

Corn harvest in this part of Nebraska has been delayed by the 30-plus inches of snow we received in October, which is normally a dry month. Farmers have been harvesting every chance they get. Those of us who live in the towns and cities of this country tend to overlook how the whims of nature affect the livelihood of our neighbors on the farms.

The Big Bang Afternoon

To understand my afternoon, you need to first read this comic strip:

Really, my afternoon started out innocently enough.

I logged on to Sploofus, the trivia site where I am a member, and I started out reading the chat forum. I always like to know what everybody is doing and what they are saying.

A member had asked how everyone roasted marshmallows and many said the usual bonfire. Some said they roasted marshmallows over a firepit, another said over the flame on the gas stove, another one said they used their wood-burning stove.

My answer was simple: Microwave 'em.

In response, someone posted a remark that I felt made a joke at my expense for nuking marshmallows. To show them I knew what I was talking about, I explained how I make s'mores.

Place one graham cracker square on a small saucer and place a square of chocolate on the graham cracker. I use the chocolate that is 80% chocolate or higher so this treat has some redeeming value. (Someone told me that chocolate is good for you if it is 70% chocolate or higher, so I'm really going the extra mile at 80% chocolate. Can you sense I am trying to justify eating s'mores?)

I place four or five miniature marshmallows on top of the chocolate square and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds, more or less.

I added the comment that I lead a boring life - I think it's fun to watch those little marshmallows puff up like mushrooms.

Here's where the afternoon began to go awry.

A fellow member of Sploofus read that comment and decided she would give me a call to liven up my afternoon - and life - a little.

It worked. We had a great conversation about this and that and all kinds of things. I'm a multi-tasker - or at least I used to be - so I propped the phone between my ear and shoulder and I tackled a few simple tasks while we were talking.

One of those tasks was to put a half dozen eggs on to boil. I filled the pan with water and put it on the burner. I continued with a few more small tasks while talking to my Internet friend.

She brought up something that was on the Internet so I went into my office to look up the item. We chatted about the item for several minutes. Well, probably more like 30 minutes or so. It was then I noticed my dogs were coughing as though they were going to cough up big fur balls. (Do dogs cough up fur balls? Well, you know what I mean.)

When I turned my attention to the dogs I noticed a smell I couldn't quite identify. That's not unusual for me because I have lost a good deal of my sense of smell.

I bet all of you have already figured out where this story is going, haven't you?

I followed the smell to the kitchen which was beginning to fill with a smoky haze. On the red-hot stove burner was my small pan with only two of the six eggs in it. I quickly turned off the burner and opened the windows to clear out the air and then went back to look for the missing eggs.

I don't know if you know this or not, but when eggs in the shell cook dry on the stove and high heat is involved, they explode. Not just nice little bangs and all the pieces stay in the pan. No, they e-x-p-l-o-d-e and pieces fly everywhere.

There were chunks of egg blasted onto the side of the refrigerator, the wall back of the stove and the bigger pieces that were too heavy to stick to the refrigerator had fallen between the stove and the refrigerator.

I think the dogs had tried to eat some of the egg out of the shells that exploded onto the kitchen floor and probably got some shell along with it, which is why they were gagging a little.

I guess I'm not as good at multi-tasking as I used to be. I suspect the next time my Internet friend calls me she will first ask if I have anything cooking on the stove.

It might be a good idea if the rest of you would do that also. I would appreciate it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just try

I like this message. Too often we think we cannot do something, when we could just try and who knows? We might be able to accomplish more than we thought.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It sounded too good to be true

If you know anything about computers at all, you know about Google.

Google, a search engine and much more, has become such a part of our lives that it is now a verb, not just a noun - as in "I'll have to google that on the Internet." (Understandably, Google does not approve of the verb form.)

So, when I received a notice from an Internet friend about a work-at-home project for GoogleFortune, it sounded legitimate. The material doesn't promise millions but reasonable amounts from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars a week.

What made this sound really plausible was an attached article from The Nebraska Financial Journal featuring a young mother from North Platte, Nebraska, who had lost her job and was now making good money working for GoogleFortune.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

Turns out it is.

If The Nebraska Financial Journal exists, the Internet doesn't know about it. I did a search - using Google, of course - and found no publication with that name.

Next I checked the North Platte telephone book to see if I could find the couple making this great money. No one by that name was listed. However, some people now just have cell phones, so this in itself wasn't too alarming.

My next step was to log on to the link that was provided in the e-mail I had received inviting me to try this work-at-home program.

I filled out a form with my name, address and e-mail address and telephone number. When I submitted that information, it took me to a page showing that "all" it would cost to get set up to work for GoogleFortune was $1.97, which I needed to put on my credit card.

That price seems reasonable enough, doesn't it?

Not if you keep reading.

In fine print, the instructions state you are ordering GoogleFortune for a seven-day bonus period for $1.97. If you are satisfied with the product, you do nothing. It does give you several numbers you can call to cancel if you are dissatisfied.

BUT - and here's where it gets tricky - on the seventh day your credit card will automatically be charged $69.97 and for every month after that, unless you call them and cancel.

Oh, in more fine print, you agree to two- and three-week trials to other information for $19.95 and $9.95 each month unless you call to cancel.

Another problem that pops up is that most often no one ever answers the telephone at those numbers.

I turned to the trusty Snopes Web site for information, and there was plenty to read. I recommend you go to and read the full report.

Jason Morrison, who does Web development and design for Google, has gathered extensive materials about these schemes, which he has posted on his personal Web site at He lists numerous programs that have featured information on this scam using Google's name.

The official Google Web site that addresses these scams is at

Just an interesting note: Remember the North Platte mother mentioned above who was making a living by working from home for GoogleFortune? I found this same woman recently on a slightly reworded Web site, but her story was the same, except now she's living in California.

People are having a hard time financially right now and could use that additional income. It's tempting to grab at straws to try to dig your way out of debt or to secure financial security.

In the end, however, if you sign up you may lose much more than the $80 to $90 a month that will be eventually charged to your credit card (as noted in the fine print). Remember, the company now has your credit card number.

Telephone in churches

A man in Topeka , Kansas, decided to write a book about churches around the country. He started by flying to San Francisco and started working east from there.

Going to a very large church, he began taking photographs and making notes.

He spotted a golden telephone on the vestibule wall and was intrigued with a sign, which read "Calls: $10,000 a minute."

Seeking out the pastor he asked about the phone and the sign. The pastor answered that this golden phone is, in fact, a direct line to heaven and if he pays the price he can talk directly to GOD.

The man thanked the pastor and continued on his way. As he continued to visit churches in Seattle, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Denver, Oklahoma City and around the United States, he found more phones with the same sign, and the same answer from each pastor.

Finally, he arrived in Nebraska. Upon entering a church in Nebraska, behold - he saw the usual golden telephone. But THIS time,the sign read "Calls: 35 cents."

Fascinated, he asked to talk to the pastor.

"Pastor, I have been in cities and towns all across the country and in each church I have found this golden telephone and have been told it is a direct line to Heaven and that I could talk to GOD.

"In the other churches the cost was $10,000 a minute. Your sign reads only 35 cents a call.


The pastor, smiling benignly, replied, "Son, you're in Nebraska now.....You're in God's Country. It's a local call."

(I should have warned you - this is an oldie but a goodie!)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Getting up vs. aging

I tell people all the time, sitting down on the floor is a piece of cake. It's the getting up that is .....

My granddaughter, Jessica, has been helping me with some much-needed cleaning of cupboards, etc. I needed to put some things on the bottom cupboard shelves so I sat on the floor and had Jessica hand me the things.

It wasn't all that difficult getting down on the floor. The main thing you do is start to sit down and just let gravity take over from there.

After 15 minutes on the floor, I knew getting up was going to take some real determination.

I have a strange way of getting up from the floor. I get on my knees, stick my backside up in the air, bending over from the waist, with my hands on the floor in front of me. I can then "walk" my hands back toward my body, pushing my torso into an upright position.

It's not a pretty sight, but it works for me.

The other day, after the 15-minute period on the floor, I got on my knees, stuck my backside up in the air and tried to push myself backward and eventually upright. The process didn't work this time.

Then it dawned on me - I couldn't push myself upright because my feet were too far apart! To make this method work, it's important to keep the feet apart about the width of the hips. My left leg was off to the side way too far.

"Grandma, are you going to be able to get up?" Jessica asked, with a slight giggle in her voice.

"Yes, but not right now," I answered her, as I burst into a fit of giggling.

"My feet are too far apart," I struggled to tell her as I kept laughing, visualizing the funny sight I must have presented.

Finally, I had to give up and fall back on my knees on the floor.

After gaining my composure, I tried to get up again. Since I was careful to get my feet positioned correctly, I succeeded.

"Grandma, you are weird," Jessica said affectionately with a laugh.

"Maybe so," I replied, "but I bet I'm a lot more interesting than a grandma who sits in a rocking chair and knits or crochets all day."

Of course, if I sat in a rocking chair and knitted or crocheted my day away, I wouldn't have had those sore muscles I discovered the next morning.

Computer troubles

Despite my best intentions of posting every day or two, I haven't lived up to that goal.

My failure has mainly been due to computer troubles. I'm not sure what happened and I don't know if the computer people know for certain what happened. At any rate, I was without a computer for about a week.

I wish I could say it was back to normal and everything was just fine, but unfortunately, I can't.

It's the bumps in the computer road that really frustrate me. I love computers while they are working like clockwork. When they hiccup, I get totally cranky.

So, please bear with me, and keep checking back now and then. I hope to be back and up to speed soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Be careful!

Be careful is not just an idle warning.

No matter what part of town you live in, you need to be cautious about coming home late at night, leaving doors open or unlocked, or answering your door after a reasonable hour at night.

Last Friday night this was brought home to me in a very real way.

I was at my son's home using his computer. His office is just inside the front door. It was 9 o'clock.

Someone knocked on the door (even though there is a doorbell) and I called out to my son, who was in the family room watching TV, that someone was at the door. I didn't think much about it, assuming it was probably a friend stopping by that late.

When my son didn't come right away, I stepped to the door and opened it. The front porch light was already on. There was a man standing not on the porch, where you would expect a visitor to stand, but he was standing back on the grass, just out of the light so it was hard to see him.

He asked me if I was the woman of the house and I replied I was not.

You know how you sometimes just have a feeling that something isn't right? That's how I felt. I can't say the hairs on my neck stood up or that I had any outward sign, other than something just felt wrong about this man.

About that time my son came around the corner of the hallway. He stepped outside to see what the man wanted.

The man wanted to clean carpets and he said they would be dry in 45 minutes. My son looked up and down the street but couldn't see any sign of a vehicle. He told the man to go on, he wasn't interested.

After thinking about it a couple minutes, my son called the police and gave them a description of the man. They had received another call about this individual.

As I ponder the situation, I wonder if this man saw my vehicle parked in front of the house and took a chance on my being the babysitter and no other adults at home. What would have happened had I been here alone?

This just reinforces the fact we all need to be more vigilant. I am not frightened but I also don't intend to be stupid. When someone knocks late at night, look out a window to make sure you know who is there. If you don't recognize them, call the police. Don't worry about feeling foolish if it turns out to be nothing.

The main thing is, trust your instincts.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Apple salad recipe

Whenever I attended a covered-dish meal, my family can pick out my contribution immediately. I always take Apple Salad.

This is one of those recipes that just evolved. I suppose my mother started with a recipe and then made changes to make it her own. Since then, I've made some changes to suit my tastes.

Give this recipe a try this weekend and then you'll have it memorized and ready for the next covered-dish dinner.

Apple Salad
1 can fruit cocktail
1 small tub Cool Whip (partially thawed)
2 or 3 apples
2 bananas
1 cup miniature marshmallows
2 or 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
Drain most of the juice from the fruit cocktail; place the fruit cocktail in a large bowl. Add the miniature marshmallows and the partially thawed Cool Whip and mayonnaise. Carefully fold the ingredients together.
Chop the apples (preferably red for color and leave the peels on) and fold into the first mixture.
Shortly before serving, peel and chop the bananas and stir into the other ingredients. Do not add the bananas too soon or they will turn brown within a few hours. This does not harm the flavor but does ruin its appearance. Leftovers can be eaten the next day but the bananas will be discolored.
This is one of those recipes that you can make it any way you want. Sometimes I like to add a half cup of half maraschino cherries, plus a little of the juice. You can also add halved, seedless grapes and some chopped walnuts if you like.
The mayonnaise (or salad dressing) gives it a little tartness, which is pleasing.
Make it for your family first, then decide what kinds of things you want to add or subtract to make the recipe your own creation.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flu bug has flown in

When absenteeism at the high school is at 23 percent or so, you know there's a "bug" making the rounds.

My granddaughter, 15, had the flu last week. Many people get very sick with this and it needs to be taken seriously.

This isn't the country's first bout with "swine" flu; there was a serious outbreak of it in the early 1970s. In fact, my sister died from what was determined to be complications from the flu.

There are some things you can do to lessen your chances of getting this bug. Some simple things include:

1. Washing your hands thoroughly and often. Use water as hot as you can stand it and lots of soap. The rule of thumb is to wash your hands for as long as it takes you to sing the "Happy Birthday" song through two times. Be sure to wash around your wrists and under your fingernails.

2. If you are in a public restroom, hold a paper towel in your hand to turn off the faucets and to open the door to leave. Then either toss the towel in the wastebasket as you walk out the door or put it in your pocket to throw away later. If I am at a buffet, I use individual hand wipes after I go to the buffet. The serving spoons have been handled by everyone. Just makes sense to wash your hands after dishing up your food or use an individual wipe before eating.

3. At home, use disinfectant wipes to clean off the handles of all doors, cupboards, refrigerator and anything else everyone in the family touches often. Maybe it will help, maybe it won't, but at least you'll feel like you've done your best.

4. They used to say you should sneeze or cough into your hand. Then what do you do with that hand? You open doors, turn on faucets, etc. The current advice is to cough or sneeze into your shirt or blouse sleeve.

5. Make sure your diet includes plenty of liquids, preferably water, tea or fruit juices.

6. The most important thing you can do to help everyone - yourself included - is to stay home if you are sick. Stay in your room as much as possible to avoid infecting others in the family and wash your hands whenever you are going to open a cupboard door, or handle clean dishes. (In fact, it would be a good idea to keep Styrofoam cups and disposable forks and spoons and plates on hand to use so they can just be thrown away.)

7. See your doctor within the first 24 hours of symptoms. There might be something they can prescribe that could help you.

8. If you have underlying health issues, you might want to avoid large crowds until the flu bug has flown on to other communities.

9. Keep your hands out of your eyes, nose and mouth!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Exploding Pyrex

Safety alert:

I received an e-mail this morning about Pyrex cookware exploding. It was one of those usual forwards we all get, so before I jumped to the conclusion this e-mail was a bunch of nonsense, I turned to my truth-seekers, Snopes.

It turns out this is totally true. I'm not going to reprint the e-mail here, because it is quite lengthy, but if you own glass cookware, you owe it to yourself and your family to go to Snopes and read the complete e-mail and the Snopes answer to it.

As you read it you'll discover that if you have some of Grandma's Pyrex in your kitchen, hang on to it. The really old items may be a lot safer than the new.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spring Flowers

Photos by Belinda Dannatt, Australia, taken at Canberra's Floriade event

One of the fun things about being on Facebook is finding people from all over the world.

I have found a few Dannatts living in Australia and have put them on my Facebook "friends" list so one of these days I can start doing some research to see if they are related.

Whenever one of the Australian Dannatts posts something to Facebook, it shows up on my home page. Most of the time it is their side of chatter with their friends, whose posts I can't see.

However, Saturday afternoon Belinda Dannatt (don't know if we're related or not) posted 70-some photos of a spring flower show in Canberra. The photos are absolutely breath-taking. I sent Belinda an e-mail and asked if she would forward a few of the photos to me to place on this blog.
I'm sharing these with you so you might turn your gaze from the snow drifts outside your window to the bright colors of spring in Australia.
If you want to learn more about their monthlong event, go to


Fall or Winter??

Winter photos by photographer Tamra Turnbull, North Platte, Nebraska

* * * * * * * *

Mother Nature is having a good laugh at us now!

Snow was predicted in our part of Nebraska Friday night. Two to three inches the forecasters said. The weather forecaster have all this scientific data, latest equipment in tracking storms, and many decades of records to find historical data. So when the weather center predicts two to three inches of snow - and the TV station airs that prediction - we tend to believe the words have come straight from God's lips to our ears.

Friday night someone was not listening evidently. There were snow flurries in the evening and the wind picked up later that evening. There was just a skift of snow when I went to bed around midnight or so. The wind had died down.

When I let the dogs out at 7:30 Saturday morning we all got a surprise. There had to have been a foot of snow, if not more. Even without a ruler I knew there was more than two or three inches of snow on the ground, and it was still snowing.

The official range of snowfall was from 12 to 17 inches in the North Platte area. I don't have a great memory for weather statistics, but I think this has to be the most snowfall this early in the season for many years, if ever. One source said it was the greatest accumulation this early since weather records were first kept in the late 1800s.

While children welcomed the snow and a chance to go sledding and play outside, the snow has a slightly different meaning to farmers who still have crops in the field.

The snow weighted the cornstalks down to the ground, making it more difficult or impossible for the machines to get the corn off the stalk. Corn on the ground or left on the stalk means a loss to the farmer. The corn also needs warm and dry fall days to finish drying so it can be picked. I'm not sure what such a significant storm will do to the corn's moisture.

An acquaintance said she was driving in an isolated part of our area Friday and came upon a herd of cattle being driven down the road. The rancher must have suspected the nice weather was coming to an end and wanted to get his cattle from summer pasture back to the home place before the winter snows hit. Maybe he should have called the weather predictors with his observations.

The sad news is that more snow is predicted for tonight.

One source predicts a long and wet winter, while another predicts a fairly mild winter.

We need to remember who is in charge of this weather and it's not the weather service or the TV station weatherman.

Just to be on the safe side, I'm going to replenish my pantry.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Where'd the e-mails go?

There are some days that I am so brilliant I out-shine the best of the people around me.

On Tuesday I opened my e-mail and it showed I had not received a single e-mail in about 12 hours. This is impossible. I receive several e-mails on a daily basis and they are always in the inbox first thing when I turn on the computer.

Not on Tuesday.

I checked the spam folder to see if they might have been directed there, although they never have been.

Nope. Nothing unusual there.

Next I logged on to my Internet provider and checked my e-mail right at the source. That file was empty.

So I checked the FAQ (also known as frequently asked questions) page on the Internet provider's Web site. Nothing seemed to explain my missing e-mails.

I noticed there was a contact number to call or I could log on to the company's chat and chat by computer with a technical advisor. I like the give and take and quick response from chatting, so I opted for that method of communication.

When I logged on to the chat, I received a quick response from "Hyasinth" (yes, it's spelled with an 's'). I told her as briefly as I could that I had not received any e-mails for at least 12 hours and I just knew there should be some e-mails there.

Hyasinth suggested several several things for me to try, including checking my e-mail on their Web site.

Sorry, I typed back to Hyasinth, I've already done that and there's nothing there.

Hyasinth then typed out detailed instructions on how I could change the settings on my system so there would always be a copy of my e-mails on the server.

"Well, that will take care of the problem in the future, but what about all the e-mails I am missing today?" I typed to Hyacinth.

"I'm sorry," Hyasinth typed back, "but there is no way for us to recover e-mails that aren't there."

There was a pause after she sent the message.

"Is there anything else I can do for you today?" Hyasinth typed.

I fumed, thinking of a few things I wanted to suggest, but you'll be proud of me. I politely typed, "I guess not. Thank you."

I logged off the Internet provider's Web site and went back to my e-mail in-box. Just as I did, I heard the little "ding" that lets me know I have new e-mails.

But there was nothing there!

I was beginning to get really annoyed with the situation and myself. Where the heck were those e-mails going?

I don't know how your system is designed, but I use Microsoft Outlook and its inbox is organized with headings "Today," "Yesterday," "Monday" and older e-mails may be under the heading "Last Week" or even "Last Month."

There were e-mails in the folder marked "Yesterday" but nothing in the "Today" folder.

Then I looked to the left of the "Date: Today" sub-heading. Off to the far left side of the sub-title was a tiny box with a tinier plus sign in it. I looked at the other sub-headings that had e-mails under them, and instead of the plus sign, there were minus signs.

I clicked on the tiny plus sign by the "Today" sub-heading, and as if by magic the symbol turned to a minus sign and 24 messages tumbled down the page.

I'm just glad Hyasinth doesn't read this blog.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Back to the Future - sorta

For a while this afternoon I walked around in public in a time warp.

Today, Oct. 2, was the annual chili competition hosted by First National Bank in North Platte, with proceeds going to Mid-Plains United Way in Lincoln County.

Businesses and organizations prepared big vats of their favorite chili and people paid $6 to come taste all of the chili preparations. Then they could vote on hottest chili and best chili overall. The teams choose a theme and dress following the theme and decorate their birth according to the theme.

The Walmart team had a Hawaiaan theme - and I heard one vat of their chili had smoked pineapple in it. Hmmm, interesting!

The winning team for best theme was Coldwell Banker with a Michael Jackson theme.

Appropriately, the North Platte Fire Department's chili was the hottest.

United Way's theme was the 1950s. Board members were asked to get out their poodle skirts and leather jackets and dress up for the event. There were going to be decorations from the '50s around our booth.

It's been many years since I've had a poodle skirt and these days it would require way too much skirt to get around my body. The poodle would get lost in all the folds of the skirt.

I did have a plan though. I pulled on a pair of jeans and rolled the pant legs up to mid-calf. I rolled my socks down to rest on my shoe tops. No, I didn't have penny loafers. I knew my tennis shoes weren't authentic (remember tennis shoes in the '50s? The high-top black tennis shoes?) but they would have to do.

I found a neckerchief from about that era and tied it around my neck. I wear my hair very short, so the best I could do was glob on the styling gel and try to get my hair in the back to form a "ducktail" (remember?).

All things considered, I thought I looked sort of like someone from the 1950s. I walked into the church fellowship hall where the chili cookoff had been moved due to the windy weather. First person I saw was Ginny Martin, the Mid-Plains United Way executive director. She was wearing jeans but also a Hawaiian lei.

"Uhhh, wasn't our theme supposed to be the '50s?" I asked.

"Well, yes, but..." she said. It seems the decorations were stored somewhere and the decorations had gotten water-soaked and were ruined. Learning that late last night didn't give the committee time to come up with a new theme.

So there I was with pantlegs rolled up, socks rolled down and a ducktail in the back of my hair - the only one really dressed for the '50s. A couple others who had not received word about the change of theme either were able to modify their outfits so they didn't stick out quite so obviously.

That's OK. For about an hour today I walked around feeling very much like the teenager I was in the '50s, thinking I was way cool with my pantlegs rolled up, my socks rolled down and a ducktail in the back of my hair.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What is your gift?

What is your gift?

I'm not asking about the new necklace someone gave you, or the set of pretty dishes you received for your birthday. I want to know what your gift is from God.

I'm leading a Bible study by John Ortberg, "If You Want To Walk On Water You've Got To Get Out Of The Boat."

Our lesson Sunday night was about recognizing our gifts. The Bible talks about God's gift to each of us - some have the gift to preach, others to teach, while others may have the gift of leadership. In some way, each of us has at least one God-given gift.

One person felt her gift was having a positive attitude, to turn around bad things to something positive. What a gift, not only for herself but those around her!

Two others had been teachers, using their God-given gift to help children learn. One said she also felt writing was her gift, and another liked to create by sewing and making beautiful afghans.

Our God-given gift isn't something that arrives one day all neatly packaged in a pretty box with a bright bow that we can open and instantly possess. Instead, our God-given gift begins to surface in our childhood, then it buds during our school years. As we study and work to hone that gift, it blossoms as we grow older. As long as we live, we are developing God's gift to us.

So, I ask again, what is your God-given gift?

Perhaps as important as answering that question is another question: What will you do with your God-given gift?

Are you willing to "step out of the boat" and accept the challenge of using God's gift to you?

Step out in faith and use your God-given talent. It will not be used up but will multiply and develop a patina, growing more beautiful every day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

That's supposed to make ME feel better?

The other day I saw an advertisement on TV for an attorney's firm.

People were holding up signs, smiling broadly and saying, "We owed the government $3 million back taxes and we only paid $1 million" and "We owed back taxes in the amount of $100,000 and we only paid $8,000."

Of course the law firm's representatives are smiling broadly, too. Why not? They probably made a nice chunk of change from "saving" those folks all that money.

So, when I get my tax bill, if I owe $500, I can just send the government $125, right? I don't think so!

Maybe I'm missing something here, but somehow those folks feeling so proud of themselves for cheating the government out of all that money just doesn't make me feel one bit happy at all.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Leo needs a home too!

Leo is one sleek, fat cat. He is neutered and is waiting at the North Platte Animal Shelter for someone to give him a new home.

Moonie needs a home

Moonie is 5 years old, neutered and can be indoors or outdoors.
On Thursday, Sept. 24, Moonie went to the North Platte Animal Shelter and is awaiting adoption.

Doggone it! Spay and neuter your pets

I've been involved in a couple sad situations today and it makes me a mixture of mad and sad.

Two families are having to give up ownership of their cats. Not because they want to, but because they have to do so.

The one family had two cats that were indoor/outdoor cats. Then they moved and the cats had to become indoor cats because of the high traffic around their house. Then a baby came into the home. All of this had to be very stressful to these cats. When it's a matter of your child's allergies or your cats, then of course the cats have to go. I've been there, done that.

The other family has four cats and is moving into an apartment that does not allow pets. Sami, the gray cat, is 15 years old. He should be at the place in his life where he can live out the rest of his years with loved ones and being loved and pampered.
The sisters are Cuddles, the dark gray and orange cat, and Coco, whose picture wouldn't save for some reason. It would be nice if they could be kept together.
Chester is the 'fat cat.' Isn't he a docile and beautiful cat?
I'm not upset with these two families. They have been responsible pet owners and had their pets spayed and neutered. They have given them love and good care.

The problem is, I'm trying to help them find new homes for their beloved pets and the shelters and humane societies are filled to the brim with small kittens.

We can't do anything about the cats and dogs already in this world, but we can make sure the overpopulation stops with what is already here.

There are programs that will help you spay or neuter your pet if you can't afford it. Please stop the suffering right here, right now. Help us take care of the pets that are already here.

A year ago maybe you didn't know better. Maybe you didn't know there were programs to help you spay or neuter your cats and dogs. But today you do know and you have the power to stop the problem.

If you need financial help, please ask your veterinarian to refer you today to a group that can help you do the right thing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What would you do?

Monday morning, after nearly being eaten alive by the flipping recliner (see below), and finally realizing I would live to see another day, I decided to test my four sons.

To begin, I have to tell you that although I don't smoke I have hundreds of ashtrays stashed in my basement. About 10 or 12 years ago I decided to start collecting ashtrays because, I figured, some day smoking was going to be outlawed except in your own home.

Everyone in the family thought I was nuts -- and still think so. It's a running joke in the family as to who will be burdened with unloading those darned ashtrays after I'm dead.

So this is what I wrote to my four boys:

* * * * *

I need each of you to answer a question.

I call you to come to my house to help me. You walk in and find me in my recliner tipped backward. I am stuck tight and can't move in any direction.

Would you:

A. Fall on the floor and laugh hysterically for 10 minutes?

B. Go back home to get your camera so you could have a picture to show everyone?

C. Rush in immediately, set my chair upright and stick around for a while to be sure I was OK?

Remember, how you answer this question may determine who gets my ashtray collection.

* * * * *

Bryan, No. 1 son, calls me shortly after I sent out the e-mail.

"I would help you get up and make sure you were OK," Bryan said.

Good kid. I raised him right.

Brett, son No. 4, said he would immediately take a picture with his cell phone and then help me up.

OK, that's not too bad, another few seconds in the jaws of the recliner could be tolerated if he was going to use his cell phone.

Blair, son No. 3, said, "I would take a photo with my cell phone and then fall on the floor and laugh hysterically for 10 minutes."

"Well, Blair, as of now you have won the ashtray collection."

"You mean I had the best answer?" he asked.

"No, so far you've had the worst answer."

There was silence.

"It just dawned on me," Blair said, with a touch of disgust, "I get the ashtrays, don't I?"

"Yes, Blair, you get the ashtrays. What I failed to tell all of you was that the ashtray collection was the booby prize."

However, this was Blair's lucky day. I hadn't heard from son No. 2 yet.

Bruce, No. 2 son, called and surprised me by saying, "I would grab the ashtrays and run while you couldn't stop me. They might be worth something in a hundred years or so."

Congratulations, Bruce. I'm not sure where you'll store the ashtrays, but I'm going to start boxing them up right away.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

'Tain't Funny McGee!

Sunday, Sept. 13, about 9:30 p.m., my life flashed before my eyes.

I fixed a tuna salad sandwich and went to the living room to my recliner to eat my sandwich and watch a TV show.

I held my plate in my left hand and as I always do when I'm going to eat and watch TV, I sat down tucking my left leg under me. Don't know why I do that, I just do. But only when I'm going to eat while sitting in my recliner.

The recliner has been with me a good number of years - probably 15 years or so. I not only sit in it to watch TV, but I spend a lot of hours sleeping and napping in that chair, too.

I remember when I picked that chair out. I went to the furniture store and found the chairs I liked and I spent a whole afternoon going from chair to chair, trying them out. Let me give you a tip on picking out chairs: Even though the chairs may look identical, they do not all "sit" the same. Since I knew I would be sleeping in the chair a lot, I also wanted to recline and relax in the chair. So I went from chair to chair, sitting and rocking a while, then stretching out in the chair and testing it for sleeping comfort.

"May I help you?" a helpful clerk asked.

"No I'm just looking for a chair," I answered.

Two hours later and I'm still testing and retesting chairs.

"Are you SURE I can't help you?" the helpful clerk asked. By now she was beginning to get furrow lines in her forehead. She may have thought I was a homeless person trying to sneak a nap in a comfortable place. (Note to self: Dress a little spiffier the next time I go shopping for a recliner.)

Finally I found the exact chair I wanted. A deep green La-Z-Boy recliner, it was comfortable in all sitting and reclining positions.

I have spent many hours in that chair and we've gotten along very well over these past many years.

Sunday night, however, must have been the chair's opportunity for revenge.

So back to my story, where I left off, my left leg tucked under my behind, my seat poised just over the chair seat.

Now this is where my recollection of the events get a little fuzzy. Between that precise moment of contact with the recliner seat and the next 2 seconds, I found myself on my back looking at the ceiling. I do not remember the chair flipping over backwards, but that's exactly what happened. I guess.

At first I laughed and laughed. Omigosh, I remember thinking, this must look hilarious. I must be quite a sight in a seated position except I'm on my back not my tush.

Then I looked at my left hand, still deftly balancing the plate with the sandwich. I sat the plate on a book stand next to the chair. That was one less thing to worry about.

OK, now to get out of the chair, I thought. All I have to do is swing my right leg down and over to the left and just roll out. My right leg swung down and over the left side of the chair, but since my behind was in the back of the seat of the chair, there was no way that weighted package was moving.

Maybe I could swing my left leg over my right side and roll out of the chair the right way (literally and figuratively). If my behind wouldn't come out of the seat of the chair when I swung the left way, I don't know why I thought it would leave the comfort of the chair to roll out the right way. I suspect I had blood rushing to my head by now and I wasn't thinking clearly.

All of a sudden I realized this was not funny at all. I tipped my head backward a little bit and I could see that the chair back was tight against the window drapes and they were stretched taut.

Oh great, I thought. All I need is for the drapery rod and those drapes to come piling down on my head.

I tried to roll out of the chair a couple more times. Nothing.

Now I began to get worried. I had visions of my decomposing body being discovered jammed up against the wall, penned up there by a green recliner.

Luckily I usually have my cell phone attached to the waistband of my slacks or jeans. I struggled around to get my phone out of its holster. I opened it up and clicked on the "i" to bring up the entry for my son, Blair. ("I" is the first letter of ICE - In Case of Emergency. You've seen those Internet e-mails that tell you to have an entry for ICE, so if you're ever in an accident the Emergency Medical Technicians will know who to call for next of kin.) I figured this was an emergency.

I pressed on ICE and then "send." Blair's phone rang and rang. Finally his voice mail came on. I left a message. I wasn't too panicked yet because at 9:30 at night I knew he and/or the kids would be at home. Maybe he was in the shower.

So I dialed the house number. It rang and rang. The answering machine came on and I left him a message about my tale of woe. Then suddenly the panic hit me.



The answering machine shut off.

About that time, I was feeling awfully alone. I hung up and dialed his house again. This time my granddaughter, Jessica, 14, answered.

"Jessica, didn't you hear me yelling for your dad to answer his phone?"

"No," she calmly replied. (Obviously she's never been pinned on her back against a wall by a recliner or she wouldn't have been so darned calm.)

I began telling her about my plight.

"Grandma, that is SOO funny," Jessica giggled.

At that moment the recliner dropped maybe 10 or 12 more inches so the back of the chair was now flat on the floor. It must have also repositioned my tush in the seat of the chair because I was able to swing my right leg over the left side of the chair and roll out of the recliner fairly easily. (Getting up from the floor was another story.)

Blair came into the room.

Taking the phone and after hearing about my brush with death, he said, "Mother, you knew I was going to Bible study and my phone ringer would be turned off.

"Why didn't you just send me a text message?"

I hate it when my kids think they know all the answers.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fly your flag today

Today is 9/11

Please fly your flag

In memory of those

Who died that day

Feed yard

Everyone wants the community to grow, to bring in more businesses and to prosper. At this point, I am feeling pretty conflicted.

A feed yard wants to establish a 7,000-head feedlot a little less than 5 miles west of town. That would make it probably 10 miles from my home. So where's the conflict?

For one thing, I don't think I've ever heard of a feedlot that stayed at the size it began. My fear is that it will increase in multiples of that opening number. In a few years that 7,000 head could become 21,000 head.

Make no mistake about it, cattle poop stinks - a to-high-Heaven stink. If you think that smell won't penetrate the city, think again. If the wind is in the right direction, you'll be able to sniff that smell for miles. And what direction do our winds come from in the fall and winter? Yep, the north/northwest.

In my opinion, the community I lived in for most of my life made a huge mistake when they allowed a feedlot to be established a mile north of town. It's impossible a good share of the time to hang clothes outside because when you bring them in they'll smell like the feedlot.

"Smells like money," some will say. Well, maybe for the feedlot owners, but I don't think the average resident will think money smells all that great.

Now, if you live on a farm or ranch, the smell just goes along with the job and you expect it.

I don't know how far out of town you need to establish a feedlot to keep the stench from permeating the whole town, but I'm pretty certain it's more than five miles.

I sure hope some deep thought goes into the location of this feedlot (and I have no idea who is developing the feedlot). Air quality is a pretty precious gift and it's hard to get it back once it's polluted.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Church Signs - the Original Twitter!

I like church signs with the pithy sayings. Sometimes the signs are related to religion, but just as often they are merely words of wisdom for life.

Since the character space for sayings on church signs is so limited, I've decided that church signs were the original Twitter!

Here are some I've enjoyed in the past few weeks in North Platte, Nebraska.

If you like a sign in your town, take a picture of it and e-mail it to me as a JPG as large as you can. Please include the name of the church and the town where you saw it (please don't send the ones that are making the Internet rounds - I want original ones). If you want your name listed, please include that also.

Oh -- where to send them would be helpful!
Please e-mail them to me at

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chyenn's childhood memories

This is a guest column submitted by my Sploofus (a trivia Web site) friend Chyenn. She wrote this in response to my post about friends moving. I found it so interesting that I asked her permission to post it.

Your thoughts on moving stirred some of my own. By the time I was 25 I had lived in 33 different rentals houses in five states and Puerto Rico. That's quite a lot considering we were not a military family.

Changing schools often was the most difficult for me because I didn't develop any lasting friendships. Until high school, two years was the longest I stayed at any one school. I'd like to share the ultimate in culture shock with you.

In July 1969, we moved from Citrus County, Florida, to Van Buren County, Tennessee. In the fifth-grade in Florida, I was in a middle school of approximately 300 kids. Each subject had a different teacher, so I changed classes all day long.

I was excited to go to sixth grade in Tennessee, although my summer vacation was cut short because Tenneess students began fall classes in mid-August, not the day after Labor Day as I was accustomed.

The school in Tennessee had been built about a mile from my grandparent's house in the late 1940s. My mother attended eighth grade in this building in 1949. It had three rooms; two classrooms and a kitchen/lunchroom.

One teacher, Mrs. Geneva Davis, taught the first through the fourth grade in one room and the principal, Mr. David Baker, taught the fifth through the eighth grade in the 'big' room. Mrs. Geneva was Mother's eighth-grade teacher. She had been the only teacher that year because there had been few students enrolled in the little mountain school.

Mr. Baker was the first male teacher in the community. He was strict and enforced his rules by taking off his belt and using it on any misbehaving behind. I think most of the kids were justly scared of him.

The year was 1969, yet there were no bathrooms in this school. There were outhouses behind the main building; one for girls and one for boys.The girls' outhouse had two seats, one for the little first-graders and one for the bigger girls.

Mrs. Geneva would come into the 'big' room and ask one of us older girls to escort the youngest ones, boys and girls, to the girl's toilet. The toilet paper was handed out by the teachers so the kids couldn't waste it. It was so embarrassing for the girls to ask Mr. Baker for it.

The bell was a cowbell. As a reward for good grades, you might be picked to ring it, walking around the building in the mornings or after recesses.

Each day someone from the 'big' room was chosen to help with lunch. Mrs. Pearl Evans was our cook; a kindly, grandmotherly type lady with a flowery apron and a flour sack tied around her head for a hairnet.

We all called her Aunt Pearl. I loved my days with her. I think she was the one who sparked my passion for cooking. She made it look easy to cook for 50 people every day. As we washed the dishes, she told me stories about the 'old' days and about my Mother and her brothers and sisters growing up on the mountain. I really enjoyed that.

The school was heated by three coal-burning potbellied stoves. The 'big room' boys were responsible for taking out the ashes and filling the coal buckets every winter day. The little kids could get extra recess time for bringing in sticks for kindling from the woods surrounding the school.

Once Mr. Baker's grade book was found in the ash pile outside. All the boys got a licking in front of the entire school that day because no one would admit to doing it.

I was so far advanced with my Florida education that after sixth grade, Mr. Baker wanted to promote me to ninth grade -- high school -- skipping two grades. Mother would not allow it because I would have only been 12 years old that fall. She thought that was too young for high school and she was probably right. I was a very smart book-wise, but quite the social misfit. So in my seventh-grade year, I spend most of the time as Mr. Baker's teacher's aide, and working on special assignments for him.

The two years i spent at New Martin school was like living in a bygone era; but it may have been the best two years of my young life. It was during that time that I learned there is so much more to education than a state-mandated curriculum.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Friends and Change

I learned yesterday that a friend at church will be moving to another town in a few weeks.

"But you didn't ask MY permission," I scolded her.

We become comfortable with our friends. We know where to reach them by telephone or computer, we know where they sit in church and we know what to expect from them in daily life.

Then, when they say they are moving, it upsets our comfort zone. All of a sudden they are not so ... so.... well, so predictable.

I can't blame my friend for moving. She wants to be closer to her children and grandchildren. That's one of the best reasons for choosing to move.

On a selfish note, however, I can't help but feel just a little bit abandoned.

I haven't moved around very much in my lifetime. I live about 140 miles from where I spent the first 47 years of my life. I've lived in North Platte for 22 years. So it just figures out that I have had more friends moving away from me than I have left behind.

Given that, you would think I would get used to having friends move on. I never do. I still remember Erma, the young friend from junior high who took me trick or treating my first Halloween I lived in town. I remember my girlfriend from junior high through high school who was married the Christmas after we graduated from high school and she moved to the East Coast. A dear friend while our children were young moved with her family to a town 150 miles away. With everyone's busy schedules, it might as well have been a thousand miles away.

Over the years the list has grown, as have my memories. I still sometimes long for those days with my friends.

But, life goes on. My friend will make new friends, as will I.

Yet, one of the spokes in the wheel of life will be missing. More may be added, but never replaced.

Easy as 1-2-3

Setting up a blog is supposed to be easy -- as easy as 1-2-3 -- or so "they" say.

I'm not finding it quite that easy.

Yesterday I had my photo and my profile all set up. Yet, when I tried finding it tonight, I couldn't find it. Then when I do find it, I can't figure out where it is so I can return to it.

OK, I have to confess. I am quite sure it is NOT the program. I am pretty sure it is the user who is trying to set up the blog -- ME!

I have to keep telling myself that many people my age cannot use a computer at all, but I still get pretty annoyed when I can't make things happen the way I want them to happen!

Thank you for listening to my frustrations. Tomorrow morning is another day and I'll be back at it, hoping I can figure out where I put things and how to find them again