Monday, February 28, 2022

Please Watch the State of the Union

I met my friend Susan in early 2017. At a meeting we both attended, she shared the story of her son-in-law, a member of the United States military who has served multiple tours in the Middle East. While living on base in these countries, he had been exposed to something I had never heard of - Burn Pits. 

Following 9/11, when troops were deployed to these areas, a company was hired to construct covered, properly ventilated, incinerators to burn wastes of war, from chemicals, to medical waste, to garbage, to poisonous materials.  Instead, they dug open pits the size of several football fields and burned these items 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in these pits located behind housing in camp. 

When these soldiers returned home, they began to develop illnesses ranging from lung infections to cancers related to breathing these gases. The military refused to acknowledge these illnesses were service related and denied benefits ranging from medical care to life insurance, to caregiving to these people who were serving their country. 

Here is a link to a Youtube video explaining the nightmare they have experienced.

Her son-in-law died from these illnesses while waiting for approval for his wife to be able to provide home care for him. His daughter was only four years old and had never known her father as a healthy man. 

Susan and her daughter Danielle have continued the battle for other families who are suffering like theirs is. And have focused that activism in contacting members of congress to help advocate for military burn pit victims and these cruel policies overturned. 

The reason I am telling you all this is that my friend Susan's daughter received a call today from the White House.  She has been invited to be the guest of Dr. Jill Biden at the State of the Union address on Tuesday night when important information about these military victims will be shared.  

A family from a small town in Ohio, everyday people doing everyday things, have taken a horrible tragedy in their own family and have turned it into activism for every other military family affected and have risen to the national stage.  I am just so proud of this  recognition of their efforts and so proud to know them. 

Please meet Danielle on the left and her warrior mom on the right. 

A Susan Fun Fact. For almost two decades my friend Susan has trained service dogs. She works with an agency in another state who assigns a puppy to her for about 18 months. She does training every day with every day activities as well as group activities on a monthly basis. These activities include everything from football games to eating in restaurants to riding in an ambulance. It is an intense program and she puts her heart and soul into this mission, too. It is a strict program and these dogs are better trained and behaved that most humans. At the end of the training period, the dog is sent to school with a person chosen to be matched with this lifeline to assist them. The person and dog are then trained together until the agency is satisfied. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Presidents Day

Happy Presidents Day.  We celebrated here with a day off from babysitting duties of our grandchildren toddlers whose mothers are teachers. We replaced them with school aged grandsons whose mother is an office administrator. I decided to put them to work helping me rearrange and organize my Pandemic Pantry. I have heard there is a noodle and pasta shortage at area grocery stores. I have discovered the cause. It is me. 

I paid my helpers by buying them lunch at our local ice cream stand which opened during a blizzard last weekend. Today we reached 62 degrees and our snow has melted into slush, mud and puddles. Temperatures start dropping tomorrow and by Thursday night we might receive enough new snow fall to close schools on Friday. I have my fingers crossed that won't happen. Again. For the third week. 

I thought I would give an update on my holiday organizing project. It is still at a standstill. I have not had any days in row without children to work on it. It has also gone down the list after my toddlers started a new game last week. It is called dump out every toy box and kick all the toys under my furniture. We have discussed why this is a bad idea and how tired Mimi is of helping them pick up all the toys spread everywhere. And also how unhappy Mimi is that she cannot walk across the room without fear of tripping. The discussions did not detract from the game. I made it until Thursday when I put all but 4 toys in boxes and stacked the boxes in my spare room. I am now sorting toy boxes and making up boxes for Goodwill since no one seemed to miss the missing toys. Don't worry, I will be introducing some of them back when we decide we aren't going to dump out the boxes anymore. But we have more than enough toys for a small country.

So that's how we are keeping busy. Hope you all are having a good week! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Galentines Day

I am blessed with the most unromantic husband. And the most caring husband, too. He would never think about buying me a Valentine's card or candy or flowers. But if I asked him to go buy me a Valentine's card, candy or flowers, he would run to the store. But what means more to me is that he cares about me, worries about me and does whatever he can think of to keep me safe and happy.  And it turns out I can go to the store and buy myself cards, candy and flowers whenever I want. 

He opens doors, not only for me, but any woman or child. He takes care of our sidewalks and lawn as well as any neighbors who need outdoor help. He is the first person to call if you have a leak and need water shut off or your furnace won't start or your car breaks down. Once I got a call from an 80 year old woman that I had worked with many decades ago who was having an issue with her electric stair chair in the middle of the night. He got out of bed and went over to fix it for this woman he had never met and came home, drank coffee and went to work.  

My car is always full of gas, my tires and brakes are always maintained. He worked a very hard labor job on the railroad for over 38 years to support and take care of our family which afforded me the opportunity to switch jobs every five years or so when I discovered something more fun to do. 

So - enough bragging about this guy, let's get back to the 14th. When I was rearranging (I am being honest, instead of cleaning) in my pantry, I found all kinds of holiday leftovers. I decided to celebrate Galentine's day with a tea party. Of course we still aren't going anywhere or socializing, but I also have a collection of containers. 

I used some white styrofoam boxes that I used for carryout holiday meals the first year of lockdown. I baked some tiny heart shaped cookies, made brownies which I cut them in heart shapes and packaged in some heart treat bags. When making a quick trip to the store I picked up some assorted candies and such. I also baked some chocolate mini muffins and a loaf of lemon bread. 

For our savories, I put a corn and black bean salad in some adorable little pink cups with gold hearts. I had some treat containers that held ziplock bags of chips to scoop it up! I made pinwheels with cream cheese, finely diced onion, grated carrots and cheddar cheese and some Penzy seasonings. My Pampered Chef sandwich press seals the rounds of wheat bread with homemade chicken salad, with grapes instead of my usual celery since I forgot to buy celery. The round sandwiches fit perfectly in a giant pink cupcake wrapper, part of a rainbow pack hiding in the pantry. 

I had some Biglow Salted Carmel tea bags and also picked up some flower seed packets for fun and thoughts of Spring.

My neighbor across the street lives alone and has two grown sons who live out of town. We moved to the neighborhood a year apart and have been friends since our children were in preschool 38 years ago. 

Across the cul de sac is another neighbor who has had quite the time with foot injuries (and two bouts with Covid since she won't get vaccinated). She was home in the recliner for the past two weeks after falling on the ice, landing on her knee replacement.

Behind me lives Miss Peggy who is in her late 80's. We met Peggy and her husband Jack when we purchased our house in 1978. They were raising a blended family of young men in their teens to early 20's and one elementary boy of their own. The "boys" have been in and out over the years and the youngest is staying there now. 

One street over is my friend Mary who has had quite the time since lockdown. Her husband suffered a series of strokes in the early days when family was shuttled to the parking lot of emergency rooms, hospitals, rehab centers and nursing homes. He has had a series of unrelated health issues from heart and lung problems to kidney stones. He is also developing some dementia. She has her hands full with him home now. He is wheelchair bound and recently fell and broke his collar bone. 

I decided to treat these special Gals on Galentine's Day.  I had six boxes so I also made tea party lunches for my daughter and daughter-in-law who were dropping off grandchildren for the day. 

The best part of Galentine's Day is that I only had enough supplies for six tea parties. Mr. Merry and I had a celebration with some leftover pizza and cheese dip from the super bowl! And since we were eating the "trimmings" from the heart brownies, all the calories and fat grams had leaked out! 

Monday, February 7, 2022

So how is that organization project coming?

If you can remember WAY back to my last post, I said that, instead of actually packing up my Christmas decorations, I was ordering ornament boxes from Amazon to repack them. I found some great boxes at a substantial discount and then they had a coupon to half that price that could be used with the discount. I could order multiples as long as I ordered different colors. Then Mother Nature blessed us with an ice storm and over a foot of snow that closed schools last Thursday and Friday with my grandchildren in their own homes! This gave me a four day child-free window. Except Sunday their sports activities resumed so I was cut down to three. 

The first box arrived and I was very impressed and inspired. Along the way, I decided to change my storage around, too. When we built the addition, Mr Merry build a wall of bookshelves for me with cupboards (actually a series of premade sink bases) underneath. Some odd Christmas stuff and lots of stuff that is just odd is stored there now. I pulled everything out from the cupboards, packed the Christmas decorations that were stored in the cupboards and under the bed in my guest room in my new boxes and by gosh, they all fit in those cupboards. 

When I saw where this was going, I visited Amazon and ordered the same boxes in a different style to fit under the bed. I have three closets in the guest room (we had three boys and my husband built three separate closets with doors after the open concept I used when they were toddlers did not work for pre-teens and teens). One closet is completely fabric and unfinished quilts; the other two are crammed with different holidays.  

My master plan was to move those holidays into the new under bed boxes and free up a closet! But first I had to take down my Christmas Village. It lives in three huge plastic containers in our storage shed. One of the containers had cracked on the edge and the lid was not tight anymore. I decided to move an even more huge container from a closet in my secret room of so much stuff that held my rather excessive Raggedy Ann and Andy collection. I packed what i thought were all the dolls in the first under bed container and packed up the Christmas Village using their former home. 

Then I started to empty the first holiday closet in the guest room. The sizes of the decorations were not really going to fit in the underbed boxes. And I discovered another box of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.  SO

I ordered more boxes - these are double the size of the ornament boxes and I am thinking the other holiday decorations should fit inside. I can restack them in the closet and hopefully it will consolidate things into a manageable level.  Unfortunately, they won't be here until later this week, arriving on an afternoon when my two and three year olds will be here. 

You may remember I already took everything out of that closet. So now I have many, many piles including breakable objects, waiting on boxes. I am trying to tell myself that I won't have to pack them back into the closet until the new boxes come, but I am pretty sure that I will be doing that later this evening. 

I swear my greatest talent is turning any small project into a larger project into a huge project. 

On a happier note. We had ordered a 1/4 steer for our freezer that was going to be picked up in mid December. We had been emptying the freezer, but unfortunately our farmers accidentally sold it out from under us. I don't know why she is so busy with a newborn, two toddlers and a full time job off the farm as a registered nurse on the surgical floor. But there you go. She promised me one in late March or April.  BUT, someone who was purchasing a quarter in January backed out and we lucked into an earlier delivery! (by delivery, we drive out to the country butchers and pick it up, LOL). A quarter lasts us almost a year and I really like having good quality meat just outside the kitchen door. This time we had them make 50 pounds of the ground beef into packages of four quarter pound beef patties. This is enough for a super fast dinner one night and lunch the next day.  Don't worry about the ground beef though, two weeks before she called I won a silent auction for 20 pounds of ground beef being raffled for a virtual fundraiser for the junior prom in a nearby village. We are set to at least next fall, if not longer, on beef, even though we eat all meals at home. We haven't been a restaurant since, well, you know. 

Yesterday one of my former Sunday School students who is now a Vocational Agriculture teacher posted on facebook that his FFA is raffling 1/2 hogs fully processed. So now I have four tickets in hand for that hog, too (I am not sure what is exactly going to fit in the freezer at this point). I do have five children with families I can share with, so we will be all set should I actually hold the winning ticket. 

Hope you all are staying warm and safe. 

Miss Merry