Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day, Morse Code and my Dad

My Dad never talked about his experience in WWII... However,  I have his photo album, and many letters he wrote to my grandparents.


This is one of my favorite stories that my mother tells...

Right after my parents were married and had moved to a new town, my mother had heard from a college friend that Phyllis and her husband were passing through. The two decided it would be great fun to go to a restaurant and meet each other's spouses and catch up. The husbands apparently went along with it, to make their wives happy.

My father was a quiet man, and my mother and her friends usually dominated the conversation, so he was prepared for another night such as that.

He was introduced to the friends husband and they sat down. Because this was 1948, the talk turned toward WWII in which both men had served. They found that they had been deployed to the same war zone.
 In the course of their discussion it came about that they had both been in Communications.

My father had been a radio telegraph operator and sent messages through Morse Code. 

Radio telegraphy using Morse code was vital during World War II, especially in carrying messages between the warships and the naval bases of the Royal Navy, the Kriegsmarine, the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Australian Navy, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Long-range ship-to-ship communications was by radio telegraphy, using encrypted messages, because the voice radio systems on ships then were quite limited in both their range, and their security. Radiotelegraphy was also extensively used by warplanes, especially by long-range patrol planes that were sent out by these navies to scout for enemy warships, cargo ships, and troop ships.


In addition, rapidly moving armies in the field could not have fought effectively without radiotelegraphy, because they moved more rapidly than telegraph and telephone lines could be erected. This was seen especially in the blitzkrieg offensives of the Nazi German Wehrmacht in Poland, Belgium, France (in 1940), the Soviet Union, and in North Africa; by the British Army in North Africa, Italy, and the Netherlands; and by the U.S. Army in France and Belgium (in 1944), and in southern Germany in 1945.

Operators skilled in Morse code can often understand ("copy") code in their heads at rates in excess of 40 wpm.


 The other man, whom they were having dinner with, was the recipient of those messages!!

The light suddenly dawned on him and he said "Double Dog??"

My Dad (initials are DD) was surprised and answered the man by calling him HIS code name. The evening took a turn as the two men felt the brotherhood that you get when you've served

For the rest of the night, my mother and her friend could hardly get a word in edgewise as these two Vets caught up on their stories.










My grandmother and Dad 1939



                  Radio Telegraph Operator

My Dad, home on leave in 1944


  


My Dad at his 50th Wedding Anniversary Surprise party in 1998.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Using those green tomatoes

Everyone seems to have an abundance of tomatoes, but if you have some green tomatoes in your garden Here are some recipes (Fried Green Tomatoes, Green Tomato Relish, etc)
I have heard of people putting a good thick gravy on top, but I tend to eat them just as they are - out of the frying pan. I do a very simple version of Fried Green Tomatoes: I dredge the sliced green tomatoes in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper (sometimes I add Old Bay Seasoning) and fry them in whatever is handy - oil, shortening, grease. And I always use a cast iron skillet. However, if you want the official Southern Fried Green Tomato recipe here it is (from Tyler Florence):

Tyler Florence's Fried Green Tomatoes
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Pinch cayenne
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large unripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, ends removed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Hot pepper sauce, for serving
Lemon wedges, for serving
Directions
In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, garlic powder, and cayenne together. Pour the buttermilk into a separate bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dip the tomatoes in the buttermilk and then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture, coating both sides well.

Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil. When the oil is hot, pan-fry the tomatoes (in batches if necessary) until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Carefully remove the tomatoes and drain on paper towels. Serve with hot pepper sauce and lemon.

Simple Fried Green Tomatoes With Country Milk Gravy

3 tbsp. bacon fat
4 green tomatoes, sliced 1/2" thick
Beaten eggs
Bread crumbs
Flour
Milk
Salt Pepper (You can also season Gravy with thyme, sage, marjoram, or anything you like.)

In a heavy skillet or frying pan heat bacon fat. Dip tomatoes in egg then in bread crumbs. Fry slowly in bacon fat until golden brown on both sides. Put tomatoes on a plate. For each tablespoon of fat left in the pan, stir in 1 tablespoon of flour and blend well. Stir in 1 cup warm milk and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper. Pour over the tomatoes and serve hot.

PICCALILLI

1 qt. cabbage, chopped
1 qt. green tomatoes, chopped
2 sweet green peppers
2 sweet red peppers
2 lg. Onions
1/4 c. salt
1 1/2 c. vinegar
1 1/2 c. water
2 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. Turmeric
1 tsp. celery seed
Chop cabbage, tomato, red and green peppers and onions. Mix with salt and let stand overnight. Next morning drain. Boil vinegar, water, sugar, spices for 5 minutes. Add chopped vegetable mixture and bring to a boil. Pour into jars and seal. ‘

GREEN TOMATO RELISH

2 qt. chopped green tomatoes
3 green peppers, sweet
3 red peppers, sweet
5 lg. Onions
3 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. celery seed
2 tbsp. mustard seed
1 tbsp. allspice
1 tbsp. turmeric
3 c. sugar
3 c. vinegar
Grind coarse tomatoes, peppers, onions. Put together in large pan, put the salt in and let stand 10 minutes. Drain, then mix all the spices, sugar and vinegar in it. Boil 10 minutes. Put hot in jars and seal.
CHOW CHOW
A good way to use green tomatoes, this chow chow is a spicy and hot accompaniment to beans and peas.
1 quart green tomatoes, chopped (about 6 to 8 tomatoes)
2 sweet green peppers, chopped
2 large mild onions, chopped
1 small head cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup salt
3 cups vinegar
2-1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons celery seed
Grind the chopped vegetables. Add the salt to them, and let the mixture stand overnight. (3 gal. veggies makes 12 quarts)
Drain the vegetable mixture in a jelly bag, pressing out all the liquid you can. Transfer the vegetables to a large pot. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, tumeric, and celery seed and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for one hour. Stir frequently.
Pour the relish into hot, sterilized pint jars, cover, process 15 minutes in a boiling bath.

Thursday, August 18, 2011




Boy today has been a tough one for me. I'm sure it is all me... emotionally, I feel drained. However, I feel as though I take it out on the ones that I love most.

So I thought I would write in my blog, and count the blessings that I

have in order to lift my spirits.

The newest blessing I have is a grandson born in July. He had a few problems to start out with, and spent time in the NICU. I stayed in Ohio with my daughter Bethany while he was in the NICU in case she had to drive back and forth to the hospital after she was discharged. She lives about 45 minutes from the hospital. The hospital was very accommodating to Bethany and allowed her to stay as a "care by parent" patient. This meant she had no nursing care, no meals, etc. The only thing they did was had her trash taken away. But she was so happy to stay close to Donald and be able to nurse him. The "care by parent" room is usually designated to a parent that will be
taking their premature baby home after being in the NICU for weeks. This gives the parent an opportunity to get help and ask questions of the nursing staff. The day Donald arrived, there were a number of discha
rges, so the hospital had the space for Bethany. This was another blessing given to my family.
Bethany's sister, Mariann wanted to visit the baby, so after spending most of July in Ohio, Jim and I returned this past week with Mariann. It was a quick visit, but I think Bethany was happy to see her sister, and I know Mariann was happy to see Donald and Bethany. I had made some molasses cookies, brown sugar cookies and banana bread before we left. Some went to Ohio and some went with Mariann to North Carolina where she lives, to give to a friend of hers as a thank you for being so good to her.

Nana's 13 year old dog, Pixie died in July. Nana (my mother, who is living with us) was devastated. Pixie was with Nana when my father died and has been her constant companion.
However, we are lucky that we are dog lovers as one of our dachshunds, named Patty, is a perfect 'therapy dog". She loves people, snuggling, and being pampered. The perfect dog to help Nana through this rough spot.

Speaking of dogs, the best therapy for me today was to groom ( by that I mean, get all the matts out) our standard poodle, Duke. He was a mess and I have been meaning to groom him for a while now. He doesn't look perfect, but feels a lot better :-) It took a few hours, but we were outside, and Jim and I worked side by side.

Jim has been struggling with a lot of back problems from an old injury and we are not getting any answers from anyone. He has been told, by his doctor not to work. You can imagine how hard that is for a workaholic. Plus the loss of a pay check has been very hard on us. We are frugal people by nature so this is not so much of a hardship, but more of an awareness of what the future could hold for us.


As Bette Davis said "old age ain't for sissies".

I have started canning tomatoes. We didn't have a garden this year, except for a few plants that Jim planted in containers, but that doesn't stop me. I bought some tomatoes from a stand in Ohio and have started the cooking and canning process today. I enjoy doing it, and later in the year, when we are making a pot of spaghetti (low carb, because I am watching my weight - not that it does much) it will be nice to have some fresh spaghetti sauce.

Well now, I feel better already... thank you for letting me vent!




Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dog Treats


I am a little picky about what type of dog food to feed your dog. Dogs are carnivores, and their digestive systems are not made to digest so much grain! When was the last time you saw a dog pillaging a corn field? A good site to see if your dog food is a good choice is: Dog Food Analysis http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/dog_food_reviews/
Or Dog Food Advisor http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/dry/

I am not, however, as fussy when it comes to treats (except not to buy what is in the store!)

We have a few dogs - both large and small and we have been making our own dog biscuits for a number of years. Mariann is actually the one baking them. In fact, years ago she had a page on our site and sold dog biscuits. This was just before the big craze of dog biscuit stores.

Her variety of flavors for the treats:
Chocoholic Carob Cookies (with carob), Hush Puppies, Peanut Buster, Plain, Canine Breath Freshener (with mint), Cheese Yips, Fleas Navidad (garlic), Maltese Maple Munchies, Dalmatian Dipped, Scottie Biscotti, French Onion
Snickerpoodles, Big Dog Gone Bone (for large dogs!), Bacon Bit Biscuits and a Chocoholic Carob Birthday Cake with a white frosting

Most dog foods taste bland, the store-made biscuits taste like sawdust, so companies add a lot of salt to make it appealing to dogs.
Since my mother's elderly dog lives with us, I am making dog biscuits again. She is on a special low sodium diet, so by making biscuits on my own, I can control the sodium. We have a variety of dog biscuit cookie cutters, including large, medium small and tiny dog bones and a hydrant.

Here is a very simple recipe:
Microwave Doggie Doughnuts

2 c Whole wheat flour (you can substitute the flour with Rye or Buckwheat flour)
3 T Oatmeal
1 Egg; lightly beaten
1 ts Garlic powder
2/3 c Beef or chicken broth (low sodium - better yet, make your own)

Place flour in a bowl, add egg and broth, mix well. Blend in oatmeal and garlic powder. Roll dough into a ball, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2" thick. Cut with small doughnut cutters. Reroll scraps and repeat. Arrange on a shallow baking dish or on a sheet or parchment paper in a single layer. Cook on HIGH 10 minutes or until firm.
Let cool until hardened. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

If you don't know how to make your own chicken broth, or want more recipes for dog biscuits, let me know and I will post them!



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

As a stay-at-home mom/wife, we often did without. Living on one salary is tough, but I did what I could for a few dollars here and there. However, the brunt of our wealth has been on the shoulders of Jim. I am the one that budgets, and I tried to be as frugal as I could over the years.

We have enjoyed our run around with life, Jim and I. There isn't a whole lot of things that we haven't done that we have chosen to do. A majority of what we have done over the years involved our children. A choice that we happily made.

Oh sure, a vacation would be really nice. I can't remember the last time we went on a vacation just for fun... ours always consist of visiting family. Which is wonderful that we are able to do that, but going to the beach, or to the Bahamas or something of that nature just to relax, has never been available to us... we either have the time, and no money or money and no time. Although I have to admit the not having the money has always been an issue.

Jim has had a variety of jobs over the years... but the majority has been blue collar jobs... the most prevalent was being an Owner/Operator of a semi truck. He was trucking when I met him and over the course of 30 years that is the one thing that, in times of trouble, he always went back to.

He has an injury in his back from his time spent in the Army back in the Vietnam War that he has handled the best he could. He rarely complained, and for 30 years, almost every night I have massaged his muscles and taken out the cramps and helped with the pain. It is now beyond what I can do to help and he is losing feeling in both legs at various times. His right leg hurts when he drives continuously for hours, and his left leg hurts when he stands or walks for any length of time. He is going through tests to see what he can do, but in the mean time, he has had to leave his job. It was a mutual agreement - they didn't want him to get hurt and had no where really to place him, and he hurt too much to stay.

So, what does a middle-aged baby boomer do to change his life? The answer came from our youngest daughter while she was job hunting. Mariann told him he needed to check into a totally different job. So he has. He has taken a week for classes, and then studied for 2 weeks before taking two major tests. He started this week, after doing well on his tests (he was told most people do not pass both tests on the same day). He is being trained in the field this week, and hopefully will be out on his own soon. He is selling insurance: life, long -term care, annuities etc.

Jim is a hands-on worker. He is an outdoors person. He is a boots, jeans and flannel shirt kind of a guy. It is not going to be easy over the next few months - he likes the paycheck in his hand every week... But this man of mine, has donned the khaki pants, dress shirt and fancy shoes. This old dog is learning a new trick!
He has a can-do attitude. I have a frugal attitude. So with both of those in mind, I think we are going to be able to be successful.

We believe that God has always watched over us, giving us just what we needed at the time we needed it (maybe not exactly what we wanted, but exactly what we needed)

This is a leap of faith and we pray that God knows what He is doing...




Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dandelions


There is nothing more apparent that Spring is here than the blooming of those nasty weeds...
The dandelion especially has gotten a bad rap as people try to eradicate them from their yards. Yet, there is nothing more endearing to a mother, than to have her rag-a-muffin child come to her with a big bouquet of the yellow blooms. Seeing a handful of dandelions on the table in a small drinking cup is more precious to me
than a beautiful bouquet brought to me by FTD. And it has been a long time since I have gotten either! lol

18 years ago we moved to a small patch of unremarkable land here in WV. No one else was interested in a piece of land that had no water, electricity or even a spot that was cleared of all the briers and thorns that grow profusely here. There weren't any worms to be found under rocks, there weren't any dandelions here. It was a hot dry summer, and the soil is basically crushed sandstone... so any rain that fell simply ran into the ravine.

The following Spring the three kids and I decided that we would see if we couldn't add some color and life to our mountain top. We would gather dandelions that were going to seed from places that we visited, being very careful not to let the wind coming into our van windows blow the seeds around, we transported them home. When we arrived home, they would blow the seeds off of the stem and let the wind carry them.

This year, my husband and I are now alone on the land. Our independent children have moved to different states. We have noticed the profusion of dandelions we finally have growing. It may not mean a lot in the long run, but it is a little piece of their childhood that I will be seeing each coming Spring



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Shepadoodles

It is February and we have Shepadoodle puppies available.

We were one of 3 breeders a few years back... one was in Canada and there were two of us here in the US. There are more breeders now.

I have bred Labradoodles, Mini-labradoodles, Goldendoodles, Schnoodles but the Shepadoodle is by far my favorite. They are smart, quick, loving, attentive and all around adorable. Plus they have the advantage of having the low-shed attributes.

I have asked my puppy parents to send me stories about their dogs so I can share it with you. One story is a wonderful 7 month old Shepadoodle. His parents have taught him that when a car or bus comes down their street, he is to go to the driveway and sit until it passes! I love that

Monday, January 24, 2011

Prioritizing your activities

Well it's the end of the month and, of course, money is tight... not that it isn't tight any other time, but for some reason it just seems harder to get through the last week of the month.

Here's a scenario: You are trying to be a little frugal on your gas because it is costing so much more now to fill the tank. But you have all these activities you are involved in... church, choir, hair dresser, kid's stuff, family, friends, lessons, grocery shopping , picking your husband up from work. You can't possible do them all.

So how do you prioritize your activities? First, try to get to an activity by riding with a friend. But if you are like me, you live out of the way for anyone to come and get you.

You need to decide which is really important. Here are some thoughts:
Combine as many activities into one day, in one trip. Don't do backtracking (my husband is famous for this).
Plan the best route and figure the time for the activity so you may do more than one thing.

For example, it's cold out, so you can do your grocery shopping in the late afternoon and still be able to attend choir practice that evening.

If you feel that it is important to be in the church for the service (you can usually see services on TV or listen to them on the radio), then be sure to go. Maybe you can then do your shopping before coming home which would put less on your trips to town.

If you have spent time with family very recently, maybe you could cancel one visit with them.

Unless the choir counts on you for a solo or important part, missing a practice may not be detrimental to the outcome. If, however, you are a vital part of the choir, then this would be a priority over the others.

You can cancel your hairdresser appointments and make it for another time... lessons can also be re-arranged. Plan these activities on the same day next month.

Friends are usually very good about changing plans. However, in order to have a good friend you need to BE a good friend, so if your friend needs you then you need to weigh the priority of either being a good friend or losing a friendship. And by "needs you" I don't mean you have lunch once a week and she would be annoyed if you missed. I mean in a time of emotional upheaval, sickness, etc.

You can get through the rough part of the month by thinking ahead. Plan your grocery shopping ahead and get it done so that you have no reason to shop during the rough times. Schedule more things on the same day so there are fewer trips to take.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Years ago my parents and 4 other couples moved to Cobleskill, N.Y. a small town near the Catskill Mountains. People didn't travel as much as they do now, and these 5 couples found themselves without close families on New Years. They decided to have a party on New Year's Eve and each year they would take turns as to which couple would host. They went in alphabetical order: Barnards, Berards, Demick, Fisk, Wingert. As the couples began to start their family, they found it hard to stay up at night and then get up so early in the morning with their infants. A new tradition started and they began to have a New Year breakfast.
I remember these breakfasts, as they went on for years, even after I was married and came home with my husband... That was at least 25 years of MY memories. It started off as breakfast. It gave the women a chance to try out new recipes over the years. I am sure there were a lot of casseroles, bacon, sausage, pancakes, biscuits served to us. Mr. Berard took movies (no sound yet) every year and when we would gather at their house, we would watch these movies of the past 4 years... the laughter and joking as we watched was like being with extended family. I remember watch one movie and seeing myself and Debi go giggling past the camera with our hands trying to shield the camera from seeing us.

The fathers would take all of us kids (there ended up to be about 17 kids) skating on a local pond in town. We did this for a couple of years, but I don't know that any of us were really great skaters. I remember skating once when I was probably around 7 or 8.
The local college had put in a slope and we all learned to ski. It was a small slope, fitted with a tow rope. I was quite young then, and remember my father, holding be between his legs and skis, grabbing the rope and up the hill we would go.
For many years after that, as we became better at skiing, we would travel 45 minutes to a ski area called Scotch Valley (it is no longer in existence). This ski area was equipped with different levels of skiing, and all of us soon became very good skiers, and spent every weekend during the winter at Scotch Valley...
After a day of skiing, we would drive back to the Berards and have our traditional chili dinner. The Berards hosted this dinner every year. Mrs. Berard was a Southern gal and had the traditional "Hoppin' John" - New Year's good luck dish - black-eyed peas and rice.

These friends were as close as family could be, and we all have memories of these times. Not many people enjoy the companionship of friends these days.
We would be required to dress for the occasion, and I remember agonizing over what I would wear. And then in the morning, as all teenagers are, be loathed to get up so early. They started out meeting very early - after all, there were babies in the families. However, as these babies became teenagers, the time was changed and I believe we eventually had to arrive at 9 a.m.

If anyone has any memories of their traditions, please tell us!