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Story Time – Who Was Your Hero?

Today I’m seeing headlines about some “challenge” posed by a “TV Star” and the dangers young girls are putting themselves in trying to emulate the girl. This famous girl is no one particularly special. She just happens to have been born into a wealthy family who has made their fortunes mostly by parading their “glamorous” life on “reality” television. The father wishes he were a woman, the mother was previously married to a lawyer who defended a former sports-hero who was accused of murdering his ex-wife and her lover. The girl’s sisters have made themselves famous – or infamous – through “reality” TV and other endeavors by which they actually have shown some business acumen.

But why do our kids today want to emulate these types of “stars?” What is so impressive about today’s celebrities that we, as a society, indulge them any credibility as people of interest, let alone role models?

When I was a kid, the only “reality” TV was the local news or perhaps a game show where some “regular” person might win a wash machine. Our “heroes” came from comic books and TV shows that where fiction. Little boys might want to be Superman or Captain America. We little girls wanted to be like Wonder Woman or even the Bionic Woman. We wanted our pretend boyfriends to be one of the Monkees or maybe one of the men from “S.W.A.T.”

I am not a fan of any form of today’s “reality” TV (even “Survivor” has jumped the shark for me), and I have a hard time understanding what attracts others to watch the seemingly endless parade of train wrecks that have replaced entertainment as we used to know it. I am thankful that my husband and I canceled our satellite service years ago every time I pass by the TV in our break room at work and someone is watching a program about “My 600 Pound Life” or “Neighbors with Benefits.” Whoever consents to being on a program about how sex landed them in the emergency room is NOT a celebrity in the making. These people, in my opinion, are either very sad attention whores, or they think they have found an easy way to make some money.

But at what cost?

Well, if you ask me, the cost is their integrity. People of good character aren’t going to put every aspect of their lives under a microscope for the rest of society to judge. Those that do risk extensive ridicule and humiliation. And, those that allow their worlds to be scrutinized by the masses have no right to complain later about their mistreatment.

In the mean time, if you are a parent, are you monitoring what your children are watching on television? What are they reading in magazines or viewing on the internet? Do you think it’s okay for your daughters to want to inject foreign substances into their lips so they are nice and plump like some spoiled brat on TV whose parents clearly do not have their own children’s best interests in mind?

Introduce your kids to some of your local firemen, policemen, or veterans. Let them see what a real hero looks like and encourage them to emulate people of high moral character and integrity. Turn off the TV. Disable the internet. Teach your kids that their self-worth should be based on what they can accomplish without trying to mimic the UN-reality of what they are exposed to in the media.

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Too busy to think!

I’ve been busy with a lot of projects lately, and all of those stories are posted over on my other blog page www.preppinwolf.wordpress.com.  Feel free to check it out.  Because of all those projects, or the time I’ve spent in the research and planning phases of those projects, I’ve not done any more scrapping, and my photography has been limited to documenting the progress of activity around the house.  I can’t even muster up enough thought for a good “Story Time” post!

There’s all the same drama going on in the world that has me concerned and disgusted for the road our government is travelling, but rather than whine about it, I figured getting some of these self-sustaining projects up and running is the best recourse for me and my family at this time.  The people who understand what is really happening in the world already agree with my thoughts and feelings on various subjects from gun control to GMO-laced products, and the people that don’t get it aren’t likely reading my words anyway.  Those types aren’t going to wake up in time to become useful so I no longer feel the need to try and help them along.

On a more personal note, Lyle’s mom recently underwent open heart surgery. She spent a week in the hospital and another week in a care facility that offers therapy or “rehab.”  She’s been home now for almost a week and seems to be doing well.  All the folks who sent a prayer her way, we thank you!

Everything else has been “status quo” as far as I know.  I’m the negligent child in that I haven’t talked to my mom in a while (guess I’ll call her today! I think it’s her nap time, though so I’d better wait a little longer).  Usually, if something’s up, she or my brother will call me. My older son is taking after me and not calling his mother very often.  Guess that falls under the “no news is good news” banner.  My younger son calls more often and seems to be doing well.  He’s planning a garden up there in Wisconsin when the weather is more cooperative.  I plan to visit with him for a few days this summer, maybe around his birthday.

Work is work, for both Lyle and me.  Lyle’s not as thrilled with his job anymore – I think he misses the airplanes more than he thought he would.  Still, he doesn’t give up.  He works hard and doesn’t complain – much.  🙂

So, there you have it.  A moment in the life of me.   And, no, you can’t get these 2 minutes of your life back.

Have a great day!

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Story Time

I’m having a few confused days here lately. Scott has been at his Coast Guard boot camp since January 14th. Last Wednesday night, I got a call from his dad that he’s coming home by the weekend because the physical demands are too high for him. By Sunday I’d heard nothing, so sent the ex a text requesting an update only to get no response. Scott’s phone is presumably still turned off as a call to it went straight to voice mail and he also did not return my texts. I left a voice mail and an email for his recruiter today, hoping for some information. Then, God bless my Mom! She called the ex-MIL who said they were giving Scott another week to see how he does. Now I have to wait some more!

In the mean time, I continue to review all sorts of news articles that cross my facebook and yahoo pages. Much of it is disheartening, but when it comes to our President and Congress, there’s never much of anything uplifting to read about.

I find that there are some folks who, while completely justified in their disappointment, probably hope to open the eyes, hearts, and minds of a few more liberals by continually bringing up certain aspects of the President’s life of which we should all be appalled. If he truly is not an appropriately-documented citizen, of course it’s criminal that he remains in the Oval Office. If his wife lists the children as “senior staff” in order to justify our tax dollars paying hundreds of thousands for them to vacation in far-off places, we should be outraged. There are countless other sins the President, his wife, and the rest of this administration are guilty of, and we should all regret what our leadership has come to.

But the sad reality is that our concern and disillusionment over these types of offenses has netted us nothing in terms of any corrective action. The very people who could – SHOULD – be doing something about it simply don’t care. If they do care, then they are somehow being cowed into doing nothing, to look away, by their inaction to allow these crimes to continue.

Obama has three more years to propagate more indignities upon our country, and I fear there is really no value in trying to see him over-run. While I would do my utmost to stand behind and support any patriots who would step up to defend our constitution and correct the wrongs done to us over the last five years, I would much rather see an enormous effort being waged to prevent Hillary Clinton from gaining the Presidency next. If she were to run and win, I fear there would never be another conservative, constitutional president in the White House ever again. Our Republic would become a true democracy where the majority will always win. That is NOT how this country is supposed to be run. Anyone who’s sat through high school government and history class knows this, but somehow, too many Americans have forgotten the rules. Too many Americans have become too lazy to work for a living and prefer to allow our ever-expanding government to provide for them. Soon, it will be too late to turn back that tide and the country will be irreversibly broken. Government will win and freedom will be lost.

So, while my son does his damnedest to persevere through the second most difficult boot camp training course our military has to offer, the very country that he’s fighting for is crumbling around him. Even should he fail to complete this training, he’ll still have done more than the majority of his peers in terms of working hard and trying to support not just himself but this country. I am saddened that he has chosen to enter service at a time when our nation barely deserves his commitment, his pain and suffering, but I remain proud that he made the commitment anyway.

I sit and I wait. I wait for news of my son. I wait for news of a revolution. And I pray. God watch over and bless my son and this country. Give us all the strength to persevere.

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Story Time – Linguistic, and other Remeniscences

Not too long ago, I saw a post on my facebook newsfeed for a quiz in which you were asked about how you referred to various objects, or what phrase you used to describe something. The “test” was for the program to see if it could tell what part of the country you lived in (or grew up in) based on your answers. It started with whether you might say “you guys”, “yous”, or “y’all” (among a few others). It asked whether that house diagonally across the intersection from yours is “catty-corner” or “kitty-corner”, and whether you call freshwater lobsters “crawdads”, “mudbugs”, or “crayfish.”

Oddly, part of me wanted the program to fail. I mean, with the NSA spying on everyone already, do we really need another method with which to be identified? After taking this quiz twice, it was unclear if the program is really accurate or not; the first time I was given three cities that is said were “close” to where the program thought I lived, none of which were close. The second time I took the quiz, believing I answered everything the same as I had before, it gave me three new cities, one of which was remarkably closer to being correct. If you’d like to take the quiz, use this link:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/sunday-review/dialect-quiz-map.mobile.html?_r=1&

In any event, it got me thinking about things I grew up “knowing” and saying, and wondering if I’d taught my kids to use the same words, or if they picked up different sayings through their peers, teachers, and other folks in their worlds. I also wonder how much I’ve told them about things we had in the past that no longer exist, at least not in the sense that they would consider using them nowadays.

One thing I remember saying and doing was spotting the cars driving with one headlight out while cruising after dark. We called them “pididdles”, and if you saw three in a row, you got to make a wish. To this day, I “collect” my pididdle wishes just like I wish on the first star I see on a clear night.

While I grew up calling any submarine sandwich a “hoagie”, I have expanded my vocabulary and will alternate that with “sub” at times. My first exposure to such sandwiches was with a local restaurant the used the them “hoagie” and Subway, Jersey Mikes, and Jimmy John’s weren’t around yet. There are other word and phrases I have come to say differently as my own personal horizons have expanded. There is a convenience store called United Dairy Farmers around here. I grew up calling it “the Dairy Farmers” as that how everyone in my neighborhood referred to it. After moving away, and even after returning to my area, I now, more often, call it “UDF” like everyone else does.

“Pop” and “soda” have always been interchangeable, and I will waffle between “y’all” and “you all” depending on the company I am in, or how lazy or tired I might be.

As a kid, when playing hide-n-seek or any other game where you want to call all the players back in, we never yelled out “olly olly oxen free” – we yelled “olly olly in come free”. Seemed to make more sense as a kid that if you called the others in that way, they knew they weren’t going to be “it” for coming in out of hiding.

Of course, as society and technology advances, certain things are lost forever that our kids and grandkids won’t have the pleasure of knowing anything about lest they read about them, or we elders continue telling them all about it. I would like to think that my boys, both in their early twenties, know a bit more about some “lost treasures” than their peers. But will they pass on the tales to their own children or grandchildren some day?

Eight-track tapes where still around when I was growing up. The players didn’t come standard in cars, but my brother installed one in his car and tortured me with the alarm clock bells of Pink Floyd every morning as we drove to school. Even cassette tapes are a thing of the past that many young people these days are unaware of. I remember having an old reel-to-reel tape deck, using it to record songs off the radio because buying an actual vinyl LP was expensive to a kid with no real allowance or job to speak of. I hated that the DJs always talked over the intro and ending of my favorite songs! Of course, the little 45s were cheaper, but you still had to get your mom to take you to the store, as there was no “downloading” any tunes electronically.
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Betamax was a competitor of VHS when it came to video tapes. The physical dimensions of the beta tapes were smaller, so certainly not interchangeable with a VHS player. For reasons I don’t really remember, beta didn’t last, kind of like laser discs when CDs and DVDs became the next best thing. Some folks still have VHS players/recorders and there are ways to connect those to your computer if you want to convert the videos to a DVD format, or just keep them stored digitally on your computer.
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Of course, how many homes still have old rotary phones with a hand-set that you can satisfyingly slam down when you want to end a call dramatically? Even the push-button style still allowed for that wonderful feeling that disconnecting a cell phone – or even a cordless phone – cannot achieve. Most kids don’t have a clue that the alphabet on the phone’s keypad actually meant something totally different in “old days” than a means of sending text messages. Phone number exchanges actually were words rather than numbers. The first two letters of the word were paired with four or five numerals to make your home phone number, but folks used the whole word when giving out their phone number to friends, who all knew exactly what they meant. “I can be reached at ENglewood 3-1234.” You didn’t even have to dial it all yourself – you could just have the operator connect you. And many people had “party lines” in order to save money on phone bills. This was like having multiple telephones in your home – if you picked up the extension in one room, not knowing someone in another room in the house was using the phone, you would be able to listen in or be part of their conversations. Party lines worked the same way, only the phones were in different houses. As a kid, if we wanted to make prank calls, but the neighbor was using the phone, our fun was spoiled…unless we could manage to lift the receiver again, quietly so they did not realize we were listening in. Of course, giggles or other sounds would give us away, and we would hang up quickly before scolding ensued!
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If you have favorite words or phrases that are unique to where you live, but are fading out of use, take note of them and share them with your kids. Tell them about stuff you had and used that no one sees, let alone uses anymore. If nothing else, they may learn something new and interesting (maybe!).

Tell them about the little aluminum trays with a hole, rubber ring, and wooden stick that you filled with chocolate milk and stuck in the freezer to make your own popsicles.
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(I used these a lot!)

Share the games you played as kids that maybe aren’t around anymore – “Green light, Yellow light, Red light, STOP!”, and “Mother May I?” come to mind. Did you play “Ghost in the Graveyard” or “Kick the can”?

Share TV programs that you loved as a kid, or that you remember watching with your grandparents even though you may not have loved those shows! Who sat through and hour of “Lawrence Welk” because you knew that you’d get to watch “Hee Haw” later?

Is any of this important? Not really.
Is any of this interesting? Perhaps even less so.

But I am amused by it all, and so I am sharing. I want my kids to remember me and all the things that made me “tick.” Some of my best memories were of times when all these things were simpler and we enjoyed life more. I want my kids to know that less really can be more. That wishing on pididdles is just as legitimate as wishing on stars.

And I want their wishes to come true.

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Merry Christmas!

There are only 10 days left till Christmas! This is one of those years where I’m doing absolutely nuthin’. I’ve got no guests coming to my house, so I did not drag out the tree or decorations, did not string lights on the house, haven’t even tried to get Ripley to wear a Santa hat. In a way, it’s peaceful.

Oh, sure, I’ve done some shopping, mostly on-line because I hate crowds, but got a few things at real brick-and-mortar stores because someone asked for something more easily obtained that way. The giving spirit is certainly alive and well even if the decorating spirit is not.

This week, I guess I will try to see about baking the pups some special treats, and make enough for the other dogs in our family’s lives. That’s the extent of my “holiday baking,” a task I never got in the habit of. I guess I could count the couple-dozen Toll House cookies I popped in the oven today (half of which Lyle and I already ate!). Good thing I don’t plan on baking for others…they’d get crumbs!

I didn’t get around to making any home-made Christmas cards this year; a few people got some that were left over from last year, but most folks just got a photo card collage courtesy of WalMart. My crafty mojo seemed to go on extended hiatus this past summer and I struggle to get anything crafty done. As such, my family will likely be disappointed not to get home-made calendars this year. I would have put more effort into those except that I have hardly any photos of extended family to use in them. I could give them all calendars featuring Ripley and Carley, but I doubt they’d enjoy those as much. My niece posts lots of nice photos on facebook but I think she uses that “instagram” thing and, when I order prints using those, I inevitably get shots with people’s heads cut off. Apparently instagram is not set in a typical 4 x 6 template.

My work schedule puts a slight crimp in the holiday gathering plans – I am off Christmas Eve but still have to work Christmas night, so will spend a lot of the day sleeping in. We are planning a “Ludwig” get together at my brother’s house on Christmas Eve, and my nephew will be home from his Army technical training school. Can’t wait to hear him tell about his basic training experience! The “Baker” get-together won’t happen until the Saturday after Christmas, but at least we all have that day free and clear and can just focus on good food and great company!

Once again, Sean won’t be home for the holidays. He’s back in Wisconsin (third time’s a charm, right??). I’ve sent him his gift package already. I’m not sure if he’s opening everything yet or saving it till Christmas, but I didn’t wrap the gifts inside the shipping box, so he’ll see what he’s got whether he opens things up or not. He’s in for a rough winter this year, both because it’s Wisconsin, and because he and Chris lost their jobs. I say a little prayer every day that he stays healthy, happy, and strong, and that they find work soon.

Scott is still preparing to leave for his Coast Guard basic training in January. There’s a potential glitch in him not having his high school diploma on hand, so hopefully a copy of transcripts is sufficient so the recruiter doesn’t have to delay his enlistment. Of course, winter in New Jersey?? I could understand a delay for a bit!

Not sure if I will post more before Christmas or not. If not, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
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Canning spot videos

My new blog page, http://www.preppinwolf.wordpress.com, isn’t (yet) equipped to manage videos, so I am linking this page to that one where I want some videos to be available.

This first one is just 10 seconds showing “gentle rocking” of the vent pipe weight on my pressure canner:

This second video shows the bubbling of fluids in the jars after processing is complete:

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Deck it out!

Well, the deck that was here when we bought the house started off as a huge mess! Here are the “before” pics to refresh your memory of what we had to work with:

View of upper deck from below

View of upper deck from below

The family room doors and door to laundry area

The family room doors and door to laundry area

Lower deck off family room

Lower deck off family room

Deck behind kitchen

Deck behind kitchen


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Cleared away the weeds/dead stuff (4/8/12)

Cleared away the weeds/dead stuff (4/8/12)

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Lyle’s dad started out last year power-washing the lower deck (where the hot tub is), and Lyle finished spraying the rails there. We never had time last year to stain any part of it. Earlier this summer, I did get all the rails stained on the lower deck:

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We got out the power-sprayer again, and I finished washing the rest of the deck/rails, and went back over the flooring of the lower deck as it had turned quite gray again since last summer.

I tore down all the lattice work (Lyle will have to enclose the area under the upper deck later)

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Then, staining of the top rails started:

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Next came all the new deck rails where lattice used to be. These won’t be stained until next spring, but it already looks so much better!

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Finally, staining the floors. I had the upper deck done and started on the lower deck before turning over the rest of the rolling to Lyle. I just didn’t want to do anymore!!

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But it’s done! No longer and eye-sore or embarrassment! Still time for a nice cook-out with friends before the nice weather ends!

Happy Fall, y’all!

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