The Three-War Brownie Recipe

As I baked nine batches of boxed brownies today, I couldn’t help but think of Grandma Jewell and a very special brownie recipe she shared with me once a long time ago.

Gram was an excellent baker – yeast rolls, the best from scratch German Chocolate Cake you could ever taste, Pecan Rolls, oozing in melted butter and sugar and cinnamon, and many other masterpieces. When my first husband was in Germany (he was a Vietnam-era veteran, assigned to Germany at the time of the 1972 Olympics. Tough duty), she told me I needed to send him some brownies. She had a recipe she shared with me that made an 8 x 8 pan of the most decadent brownies I’ve ever experienced.

One of the flavors of purchased brownie mix I used had “real chocolate” to add. It was a little foil packet containing maybe two tablespoons of Hershey’s Syrup, the gold standard for chocolate syrup. As I pulled it open and squeezed the goodness into the bowl, I thought back to opening the can of Hershey’s with a can-opener (the kind we used to have to use for beer, before pop-tops), and pouring the whole can into the bowl with the flour, eggs, butter, salt, and stirring until the beautiful nearly black batter settled. It smelled so good! I believe I can still smell it today.

I remember she cautioned me to pack it in a coffee can (they were metal back then), and wrap securely. It would take quite awhile for packages to go APO or FPO back in the early 1970s. It finally arrived, and I pictured servicemen from three wars, WWII, Korea, and the Vietnam Era enjoying Grandma’s delicious brownies. It’s a beautiful, warm memory.

If we have to find these memories on a bad day, we can make a bad day good. We have a choice; cave in, or do your best to get through the bad ones. I think of how Gram Jewell did exactly that. In her strong faith, and prayer life, she carried many of us through bad times. I’d like to remember that again for my future. You never know when you’re going to need it.

I hope you had a great day today. We’ll be at the Post for the PTSD lecture and Talk Saves Lives training. Maybe we’ll see each other there. Take care, and we’ll see each other tomorrow right here.

Terrific Tuesday

There is something wonderful about being retired, and you’re both home at the same time, and you have no specific plans for the day and somehow, you’re busier than all get out, and you get a lot done, and one of you doesn’t even need to leave the house. I hope you all get to experience it someday!

The Babe had a rare day at home, so he did the yard, I worked on learning how to applique on my new sewing machine. Yesterday was the day to do a bunch of the squares, but things fell apart. It was mesmerizing to listen to a new machine, humming away, doing it’s thing, and putting you into a reverie. I learned it gives you a warning when the bobbin is close to running out. No more paying “Chicken” as you sew through a seam. I cannot wait to learn how to use the embroidery machine. I have a pinkish stretchy jean fabric to make a pair of pants and a jean jacket. I want some machine embroidery on it. I look forward to doing it.

The last few weeks have been pretty busy, with my volunteering nearing an end at the VFW Post 2503. We are hosting an event with a PTSD Speaker, followed by training on Talk Saves Lives. It is September 25, 2022, from Noon until 4 p.m. at the Post, and it is free. If you have an interest, message me for more info. I hope this takes off locally. While it’s not a great topic, it’s a necessary topic. Too many people (soldiers, police officers, first responders, retired police officers and soldiers, children, and kids) find this the way to deal with terrible problems in their lives. It is a tragedy all the way around. PTSD is nothing you overcome, it’s something you learn to live with. You learn the triggers. You learn ways to cope. It’s big. And you must become bigger.

I have a good friend who struggles with complex PTSD. I don’t know how to help her. I can only reach out and hope it’s the right thing to do. My heart hurts for her. And it must hurt like hell to be her, and to experience all that she does. I pray, and want to learn to be a friend she needs. I want to learn. I want to be effective, as a sounding board when she needs one. And anyone else.

I felt so joyous working on a quilt again; and it is a special quilt. It is for my darling granddaughter Kayla, who lives with her parents and brother in Colorado. I told my daughter Rebecca I envision Kayla all bundled up in it and sleeping like an angel. Rebecca burst my bubble and told me, “No, Mom. She usually throws everything on the floor, and sleeps sideways.”

Oh, my! She sounds just like her mama! Rebecca really was a free spirit as a child, and I let her be whoever she needed to be. She decided her “look” in middle school and high school. With all my kids, our agreement was do your own thing at school and with your friends. Just understand, there are times when you need to dress appropriately for an event. A funeral, a wedding, a party for Grandma, Christmas. You understand. I employed that attitude with all my kids, and I believe it let them express whoever they were at the time.

Today, I was enjoying our unstructured day so much, I forgot a doctor’s appointment this morning. It was for a followup ultrasound on my legs, specifically, the venous systems. I decided to have some intervention with insufficient valves in both of the lower legs. One leg had bad veins closed off. The other leg, had the veins closed off and many of the veins just below the surface excised. Plebectomy is the term. Veins removed surgically.

I’m amazed by the whole process. It used to be, you were hospitalized for stripping your veins.I remember I was hospitalized for my thyroid in 8th grade, before high school. Tests, etc. I was in with a woman who had the veins stripped in her legs. They were blood red from the methyolate or merchochrome. What an experience for a 14 year old girl.

My mom, however, was disgusted because this lady wore sexy negligee’s every day. One day it was black lace, one day it was red lace, and one day white lace. Mom was disgusted and thought I’d be damaged from such an exhibition. I don’t recall much else, but thought her legs must be painful. How odd now I would be experiencing a similar procedure only as an outpatient procedure. You could even drive home afterwards. I opted to have the Babe drive me home. Someday I might not have that option. Use it while you can.

I hope your day was pleasant as ours was. It’s late, and we need to get ready for sleep. Take care, and we’ll see you tomorrow!

Humpday!

As the world sings Wednesday’s praises, I am reminded from this photo in Egypt, how I loved Ancient History. As a kid, I wanted to travel there some day. With the unrest in the world right now, I’m staying right here at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. I can watch documentaries and crochet or embroidery right there on the couch. It fits me right now.

Mrs. Schram was my 5th and 6th grade teacher. I think our class of over 40 all were her students in 5th grade. Problem was, she taught us like she thought we were all college students. In 6th grade, we had to write a 4K word term paper, completely typed out, double spaced, with footnotes, a bibliography, and the whole deal. It was hard. Never had to write another one until I was in my Accelerated Bachelor’s Program at Bellevue University, in my 40s!

As kids, not many people had a type writer to use. Luckily, my Aunt Phyllis Jewell was an excellent typist. She typed the whole thing, not an error anywhere. It was a masterpiece! She was always so good to me.

In sixth grade, the powers that be decided to give Mrs. Schram all the girls from 6th grade, and all the boys were in a nun’s class. In 7th grade, we were reunited. The nun was furious with us. We knew history and science, because that was Mrs. Schram’s focus, and we were behind in Math and English. I think we eventually caught up. During those years, there were always split grade rooms, still over 40 kids with one teacher. We learned, regardless.

I did love school. It must have been a hint, as I loved reading and art, too. I always had a good imagination when it came to making projects, too. During one of those years with Mrs. Schram, I was fascinated with Notre Dame Cathederal. It has always intrigued me. What a structure!

So, what do I decide to do for a 3-D project about something we studied in history? I made a 2′ x 3′ model of Notre Dame Cathederal! Mom always was upset when we needed poster board for stuff. Usually she or Dad would pick that up as back then, we didn’t have all those things at the local Hinky Dinky.

Once her grumblings were over, I looked at a picture of that magnificent structure and it took my breath away. It still does. Nothing would stop me! I was so focused, it had to be perfect!

Photo by Adrienn on Pexels.com

I was so sad when it burned down a couple of years ago. It is amazing a wooden structure such as this stood through so many years, two World Wars, and centuries of use. I don’t recall how the fire started, but it was tragic. All this stood for, gone.

My model included the beautiful round window, I probably used a piece of waxed paper for the glass; Mom was stingy with the aluminum foil, etc. The major things I remember about it was measuring, cutting, and attaching those “arms” that extended from the back oblong part of the building. Those were carefully constructed, attached with another piece of cardboard, attached to the back of the building, and to the piece of poster board the whole structure sat on. It was a masterpiece!

In those days, we walked to school every day; we walked home for lunch; and we walked home every day, too. Wind, rain, snow, heat, whatever. Never got a ride to school. It was common. Imagine the sight of a slightly chubby girl in a blue jumper/white blouse school uniform walking four blocks to school, lugging Notre Dame Cathederal AND her books (no backpacks or bookbags then), homework, and various assorted other stuff was quite the sight. Just use your imagination on that one. It had to be quite the sight.

I arrived triumphant at St. Bridget’s School, and proudly placed my model somewhere, don’t remember it exactly. I was proud.

And to think, only five years later, when I wanted to take Mechanical Drawing, the nun denied my request because it was traditionally all boys in the class. Coach Ponseigo was all for me joining the class; my art teacher/advisor was emphatic. “NO!” In a moment of wonder, I think how it could have been different, but the thought doesn’t last long.

But you know what? I love my life, it’s experiences, how we got to this place in life. It wouldn’t have worked at the time. All I want to say to anyone with influence with a child, don’t quash their interests, their imagination, their ideas. Find a healthy outlet for those interests; sports, creative classes, and most of all encouragement. We need the arts, plays, music, all the things that make life bearable. Be open. It’s kind of fun doing things no one has ever done.

Think about how you want to stretch your wings. Do something new today. Something different. Not same old, same old. Help your kids or grand kids stretch and grow. Wonder out loud how something works. Ask them their thoughts on the topic. Then try it out. There are hundreds of crafting things online for kids to do. Try it, you’ll like it!

I love that a picture of the camel took us to my memories of grade school. See how writers do their thing? Some days, it just all works. I’m proud of this one, please share and follow us. We’re hearing #950, let’s get to #1000! I can’t do this without you! See you tomorrow.

The Reenactment-Friday & Saturday

One of the bright spots in the sadness and celebration during the past week is the reenactment that took place with grandkids, Addison and Joell. And a new photo op happened with Gavin included.

Twelve years ago, when Grandma Sandy passed away, Addison and Joell were toddlers. Yes, toddlers. They held the funeral luncheon at the same place as yesterday. All these years later, Blake suggested the kids reenact the photo that was so meaningful to all of us. The love these cousins have for each other was apparent in spades.

Then and Now




Where did the last twelve years go? These two have been learning, growing, and experiencing life. And the adventures they’ve had! Addison is in high school, Joell in middle school. Their six-month difference in age is enough to make a year’s difference in high school. They both excel both in physically demanding endeavors; competition/school dance teams and competitive swimming. Joell is a thoughtful young man who tunes in well to the mood of the room. He might come over and give a hug on his own. He shows his love and affection for all his family, and isn’t afraid to. This is a wonderful quality.

These two are now including Gavin in their adventures. It’s fun for Gavin to be with the big kids; it’s fun for Joell to have a boy to share games with. They did another pose including Gavin this time. Another beautiful memory. Everyone, take more photos. Record your family living life. Include weddings, funerals, baptisms and graduations. You’d rather have too many pics than wish you’d taken one at every chance.

I appear in very few photos with the Babe. We are going to change that. We are attempting to take the time to record everyday life. The ordinary. The stuff we see day to day. Because, one day, one of us won’t be here. It’s part of life. The kids are learning those hard lessons. I believe faith is a huge part of dealing with death, loss, grief, and happiness. When we accept these parts of life with grace, it’s then we truly live. Learn by doing.

The Loves of Our Lives

We need to tell part of our family goodbye today as they return home. We all go back to our lives this afternoon. And they all have a space in them where our loved one was before. Lou, you’re always in our hearts. We will take your lessons in making the world a better place forward, spreading your love further, if possible, than you did. Hug your loved ones. And take photos. Lots of them. See you tomorrow.

Monday Memories

As a kid, Monday was a brand new day at school. We attended Mass every day (except Saturday) and then went to school. Every day started with Church, and I didn’t mind it. It was our routine. First Fridays of the Month were special celebrations; we had juice and a glazed donut after attending Mass. Those days, the rules were fast all night until after Communion. Shortly after I made my First Holy Communion, I believe we could eat three hours before, but eating at 6 a.m.. wasn’t on the agenda for any of us in 1959.

High school? I don’t remember Mondays too much. When we weren’t old enough to work, the weekends were usually whatever Mom made them. She always awakened early me on Saturday. No sleeping late in our house! And when I was dating in my senior year, she woke me by 7 a.m. on Saturday. I had to watch the little brothers.

Mondays didn’t matter when I was a young mother. Every day was the same. I was up early, and whenever they woke during the night. There was not the movement there is now when fathers actively take part in their babies’ care and rearing. Very interesting. I love the dads do what they do now. It is how it should be. Despite my experience (he didn’t do diapers and didn’t do middle of the night waking), I believe it should be a shared duty. You both made that baby, you both should share equally in the care.

It’s getting late, and I hope you all have a beautiful evening. Be safe. See you tomorrow.

Just One More, Danny Lang

Today is a sad day for those of us blessed to have known a man like Danny Lang. He died at the age of 91. And he lived every minute of his life. Every minute. If you knew him, you know.

You know the stories he could tell. You know the love he had for his four families; his actual family, his Marine Corps family, his Douglas County Sheriff’s Department family, and his VFW family. We could add to those his Honor Guard Family. These families are feeling the loss right now. A man who was larger than life.

You know the respect he had for women. He was a gentleman. He had favorites among his friends. The more he teased you, the more he respected and loved you. He would command the Honor Guard through their part of many funerals. He would instruct you if he felt you needed to be a little sharper presenting arms. And God forbid if you thought shooting from the hip was OK. Not on Danny Lang’s watch. I doubt anyone would ever try it now, either. He was all business in paying respect for a fellow veteran’s life. You didn’t cut corners. Period.

He would stop and ask you if you were ok. If you shared some hurt or difficulty with him, he’d pray for you. He’d check in on you periodically, just to see if you had a breakthrough and needed more prayers. He was deeply concerned about his friends. It was beautiful to have a trusted friend like Danny.

We all remember his friendship with Bob Podany, especially. Can you imagine the two of them in heaven? Bickering like an old married couple. They were the best. And now, we have our memories. Our lives are richer for having known Danny (and Bob). We admired him, learned from him, and loved him. He’s the lucky one. We’re left feeling his absence. But as long as we are alive, we have the treasure of memories and stories about Danny Lang. And the love he gave all of us. Especially if we wore shorts on a hot, July day. There is a small group of friends who saw him in shorts during a trip where he was escorted to a Marine reunion by a group of friends. They all had fun. Especially Danny.

Later today, we’ll attend his service, the dinner, and pay our respects. We’ll thank his family for sharing him and this day with us. And we’ll lift a glass to Danny. He was one of a kind, thank goodness. And we’ll all have just one more, in his honor. The time was too short, Danny. Thank you for all the memories. Semper Fi, Marine!

This is Thursday!

It’s a win when I know what day it is so far all day long! So far, so good. I’m not trying to make it any other day, and that may be because the Babe and I have meetings for the Post and Auxiliary later tonight. It is hard to keep up some weeks.

I read something this morning about keeping in the present, which adult children of alcoholics have a problem doing. It’s something many others do too. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Judge Judy says that all the time. And she’s right. That thinking changes nothing.

“I coulda been a contender,” famously quoted in “A Streetcar Named Desire” film.

“I would have done thing differently,” me, looking back on my life, knowing what I know now.

“I Should Have Known Better,” by the Beatles.

The second one could be any of us. I don’t regret anything that has happened before in my life. I would have preferred the Babe been my children’s father. He is a wonderful stepfather and grandfather. If any of us knew then what we know now, we all probably would have had different lives, and wouldn’t be who we are right now. As I said, I don’t regret what I’ve been through during my time on this earth. I am who I am because of it. I was dumb, then smart, then dumb, etc., and so it goes.

For us ACOA, it’s a matter of boundaries. Just like other issues we have, this relates to boundaries. You have to keep past in it’s own area. Otherwise, it overcomes present and future. I used to carry things forward, thinking it would help protect me. It didn’t. It only served to make me miserable. After my kids were gone from home and two moved out of state, it was hard for me not to be depressed. At 48 or so, I thought my life’s purpose was over. Raising kids wasn’t the only thing I could do with my life, but I didn’t know that then. No prior life experience allowed me to comprehend that, take it, and run with it.

Struggling can help build character, and boy, has it. So has learning to set boundaries. I’m still learning, and can guarantee you, if you are just starting to set boundaries, people are probably not as happy with you. The ones who are angry aren’t able to manipulate you anymore. True stuff. They weren’t your friends, anyhow. Or your true family.

Boundaries should also be honored by the one setting them in order to work. If you cross over, just to be nice, a good sister, or the fun dad, you’re telling everyone you’re not serious about the boundaries. If you don’t honor your own boundaries, why should anyone else? Your example matters.

The future is spotless. Nothing is wrong or right with us. We get to decide that. Live your own life. Now. Don’t look back, you’re not going that way! You may need to learn self-care so you can prepare for your future. I know myself well enough now, I’m certain if I’m over-tired, hungry, or can’t figure something out, I need to put it away, have a protein snack, and go to sleep early. It’s a necessity.

If you are still working for a living, you may think you have no say so how you spend your time. While you do have to do the work you were hired to do, it is up to you if you do it with joy, glad you have a career, or if you are curmudgeonly about it, groaning and complaining all the way. Many people would be thrilled to have your job or career. Gratitude helps us find more for which to be grateful. Good things will come your way.

It is still quite frigid out there. Make sure you dress warmly if you’re out where it’s cold. Spring is in the future! Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

Hump Day, 2022

So here we are, the middle of the first week of 2022. How does it feel?

I’m pretty tired today. I woke up at 4:45 (yes, a.m.), and the restless night I had is catching up with me . . . at 8 a.m. It’d be easy to give up and lounge on the couch today. I have to resist that at this early hour, as I’d like to keep with my idea of having the house undecorated by Sunday this week. It was sweet, I asked granddaughter Addison if she’d like a couple items I’m not crazy about anymore. And she wants them! I’m happy I have something she’d like to have. It’s important for kids to have some thing from previous generations. I hope granddaughter Kayla will someday want something of mine.

I have a Grandma Book that poses questions for me to answer for one of them, maybe Addison will want it. We’ve had 14 years together, going on 15. I tell her how I’ll never forget Grandma Sandy handing her to me right after she was born. Grandpa’s and Grandma’s had the opportunity to hold her. Sandy brought this beautiful baby to me and said, “It’s your turn now, Grandma.” She smiled, and her brown doe-like eyes with awning-length lashes shone with her tears of joy. She was beautiful. And her heart was, too. I am so grateful we had a strong friendship, not the usual problem between the ex-wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. It was a gift for both of us. Sandy died of lung cancer about eleven years ago.

And now, this young woman is about to turn 15 years old. Wow. What memories! All good ones. She amazes me with her confidence. She’s all about sticking up for herself. I wish I had known about how to do that. It’s a gift to me at this point in my life. Yes, I say I’m late to the party. At least I made it. I’m grateful for that.

The Raabe/Shuck family up in Sioux Falls is about to grow again. Alex and Meagan Shuck will have another baby girl in May! We have so many birthdays in that month! The Babe’s Mom Liz was on the 5th, Mine is the 22nd, the Babe’s is the 24th. I better get to the fabric store for this little one! I think I owe Kenna a quilt, too (and Cory and Amber Davis’ Trisha, too). This Grandma loves to make stuff for babies. And toddlers. It’ll all get done some time.

Psychologically, we know if it’s cloudy outside, that makes a dome over this part of the earth and the weather becomes a bit warmer. It defies logic how our moods lift with sunshine and blue skies; after all, the cold deepens with clear skies! We have sun, blustery winds, and WCI’s of minus to minus 15 below zero. Wow! Lots of people go to Arizona, Texas, Florida or Mexico during this time in a Nebraska Winter. I don’t blame them, really.

These temperatures don’t do a lot for my arthritis, my broken ankle hardware, or my ailing shoulder. At the same time, I’m grateful I don’t have Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s terribly crippling. See? Yes, we can find positive things when we’re not feeling well, we are tired, we feel the ravages of aging and injury. I’ll be fine. I’m certain of it.

I want to straighten up the area around my sewing machine today. I didn’t quilt my cardinal quilt but want to get it done and displayed this weekend, too. Goals, all help a lot. I’ll get stuff done. We’ll be ahead of the game before we know. Small steps. Patience. It’s all part of our process of the word for my year. “Progress.” I have lots of ideas, lots of plans. Stick around, and I’ll share them with you! Stay warm today, stay inside if you can. We’ll see each other tomorrow!

December is Here!

Yesterday, I was amazed during my driving home discussion with Addison. She commented, “Grandma, can you believe the year is almost gone? Where did it go?” Sometimes we think our tots and teens don’t realize what’s going on around them. They pay more attention than we think. Keep teaching the lessons and being the example. Their characters are forming even as we talk. Just remember, we’re supposed to be their guardians and adults. We’re not supposed to be their “friends.”

Today’s point to ponder is this:

“God gave us a memory that we might have roses in December.” – James M. Barrie.

God never ceases to amaze me in His creation. Nature is colorful and melodious, and it follows the seasonal schedule God created for it. It helps us measure time, with changing seasons. Nature is gentle when you see a seed sprout in spring, or a baby bird learn to fly. It is a force to be reckoned with when the tornado, hurricane, flood, or blizzard comes. It reflects God and His power. Yet he still lets us exist. We are blessed.

Feelings have many meanings to us. Good and Bad. Some Positive, some Negative. As humans, we have fears. Probably too many fears at any given time. The feelings associated with certain memories may no longer be true. Memories can serve as reminders of pain. A scar on your hand may be the reminder not to touch a hot stove. Pain serves a purpose in your life. Keeping it in it’s place is the trick in living a grateful, giving life. It cannot be the focus for you to learn gratitude or remain grateful. Sometimes, the pain can be the best lesson.

A story from the past that served as an excellent lesson for me was about a guy we’ll call Carl. He was the first person I dated after getting divorced. We spent time together when the kids were gone. I refer to him as the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to me. You see, all those years ago, after being a good Christian girl for all 30 years of my life, I needed to break the rules that ruled my life. I hadn’t dated since high school. I had no idea about the ways of the dating world in 1982.

Carl was a master manipulator who I fell madly in love with. I learned a very hard lesson. He was unfaithful, made promises he had no intention of keeping, and was a gas lighter. I didn’t know what that was while it was happening, but I sure do now. I’m glad to have learned what I did, and the scar tissue hurts if I poke at it. So I won’t go poking at it. For many years, I repeated this type of behavior, not knowing any better. Not a good thing. Old love songs sang of unrequited love, love hurting, and even love stinking. I wouldn’t want to still be believing that. That is where the Babe came in and taught me how wrong I was.

Lessons learned are worth their weight in gold. My bad choices ended about 25 years ago. Thank goodness! Not irritating that scar tissue is key for a positive outlook. A positive outlook enables you to have an attitude of gratitude. The more gratitude, the more your life changes for the good. You don’t repeat terrible mistakes that are bad for you. You learn new methods of dealing with everything.

I’m hoping the season approaching reminds us to prepare to be thoughtful and kind to each other. Christmas is the ultimate expression of love. We have an endless amount to do this month. Give up a few of the to do list items. That should free you up for more enjoyment than work. Take care this busy season. Remember to take it easy some time every day. It’s essential. You and your family will thank each other for it. Enjoy, don’t dread! Thank you for reading today. We’ll see each other tomorrow.

#800 Club!

As I’m sitting in our living room, fireplace blazing, dogs chewing on bones and napping, I happened to look at how many of these blogs we’ve shared. 800! Wow! That’s over two years! I’m grateful to each of you for reading. You’ve stuck by reading good blogs and not so good ones. You keep coming back, regardless of how you feel or how much time you have, and you check out what we have to say. I’m delighted with that.

Over 400 of you are following me; no, not in a creepy stalker way (I hope not!), but but you ask to be notified when we publish a new blog. I’m grateful for that! Feel free, please, to post a comment on the blog at WordPress, not just on the Facebook notification. I do appreciate a comment in the Facebook area; I believe others may open up and comment if someone will just start commenting on the blog itself. PM me if you’re not sure where to start. I’ll answer!

As the month of December is on the horizon, I’m looking forward to decorating our home for Christmas. Even without a lot of “company” during the season, I can still enjoy it. Why not? Sure, it’s a lot of work. Sometimes, we just need to do it and quit analyzing it to death. Mom and her sisters all went crazy with Christmas decorating. Mom still has more than ten trees, all decorated, in the various rooms of the old family home. Some she leaves up all year.

When I was a kid, it was an extravaganza when Mom decorated the house and tree. The fake mantle was always decked out, complete with the sequined Christmas Stocking her mother made for each grandchild. It was a nice thing of Grandma to do that. Mine didn’t have my name on it, so I let my daughter have it. I put her name on with glue and green glitter. She left it when she moved and got divorced, I think. Oh well. She can make her own!

In the 50s and 60s, we had the old antique looking glass ornaments. No plastic whatsoever. Chemically, I believe many of those had mercury and lead in them, but don’t know for sure. It blew my mind how you could see your distorted face in the glass balls. Yes, I was easily entertained. It’s one of the things the Babe loves about me.

Dad would wait until later in the month (probably mid-December) to get our live tree. Sometime as a kid, my grandma had a silver aluminum tree with the light wheel. A good friend of our folks, Alice and Jack, always got spectacular flocked trees, usually in white. Wow. Blew my mind. One year, she gave me a little mint green Kodak camera. I took photos of my little brothers, my dad, anyone who would sit still. Of course, the thrill came from waiting for them to develop from the camera store. You couldn’t just drop them by Walgreens. Click on the blue to check out the history of Walgreens, I found it interesting.

Grandpa Jewell had a Drug Store, Sundries, and Prescriptions. He had a pharmacist, Cliff Chase. Back then, much of the prescriptions were compounded. Mom said the Jewell family didn’t celebrate Christmas until she married Dad. Grandpa always kept the store open in case there was a sick child who needed medicine. Grandpa finally closed his store by 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, then re-opened the day after Christmas. Quite a feat, I think.

So, just like the Dad in A Christmas Story, mine had to haggle with the salesman. He always went alone, and teased us unmercifully about not being able to find one. One year, he convinced me we had to put it up and drill a hole into the ceiling so the top would be in my closet. Of course, I believed him. He would never lie! He was the King of Dad Jokes, before there were Dad Jokes!

After much grousing, he would set the tree up in the stand, and let the branches fall. Sometimes, they fell completely off, since he was also the King of buying Charlie Brown trees. He’d drill a hold into the skinny trunk, then put glue in the hole. He’d whittle the end of the branch until it fit. Once it dried, you never knew. Well, Mom did. She never let him forget it. We laughed as we grew older. When the Grinch came out as a thing, his favorite phrase was, “Bah Humbug.” Truer stuff never happened. My older brother and him exchanged a gift wrapped in paper with “Bah Humbug” all over it.

As I return to my novel for today, I am warmed by the memories of Christmas instilled in us by Mom and her sisters. My cousins all know what I mean by Christmas addictions. They’ve all lost their mom’s, so if they’d like to have their memories jogged, I’m sure Mom would love a visit for you all to view her tree addiction. I mean collection. It’s from where we all came! Thanks for reading today, our #800 Blog! See you all tomorrow!