Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Welcome to Alaska!

Seriously - it's been cold enough in Michigan that there are times when I think I might as well move to Alaska (especially on those days when it's warmer there!). You see, Michigan weather is hard to predict. Especially in the winter. If you're not from the area, here's a little bit of info for you:

Michigan, 2015 - the lakes are starting to freeze.

Michigan is a "special place." The peninsulas make for some interesting weather because it's very hard to predict. It doesn't matter what's happening in Wisconsin - as soon as the warm air or storm system crosses Lake Michigan, it's anyone's guess what will happen.

Take, for instance, lake effect snow. Lake effect snow is what happens when water evaporates off of Lake Michigan (yes, that can happen in the winter) and drops on land. Unlike a system storm - where you can see the clouds and storm moving across the land - lake effect pops up and snows without any rhyme or reason. Conditions make it possible to predict when it will happen, but there's no real way to know where it will happen. There are many times when lake effect snow result in school cancellations even though there many not be a flake of new snow at my house.

The only way to combat lake effect - cover the lake. That doesn't happen often, but for the second year in a row, it looks like the Great Lakes are going to freeze over. That's a 'yipee!' when it comes to snow prediction, but it's a big ol' 'dag nab it!' when it comes to temperatures - the lakes act as a natural insulator, keeping Michigan warmer than Wisconsin and Minnesota. When Lake Michigan freezes, that gives the blistering cold winds of the west direct access to our shores, dropping our temps from single digits to the nose-hair-freezing -20s.

Big Bertha aka The Green Monster. She's often pair with those boots - giant clunkers than keep my feet roasty-toasty in any weather.
I was NOT built to withstand those kinds of temperatures!

When it's that cold, there's only one answer: Big Bertha. She's a ginormous winter coat that I bought in college when I had to walk to class. As warm as she is, she's huge! There's no slinging you purse over your shoulder with Big Bertha. Grocery shopping is a pain - she's too hot to wear in the store, but if I take her off and put her in the cart, she fills the whole thing! She's great for working around the house, but in this weather I have to wear her everywhere, and I was hoping to never have that kind of relationship with her again.


There's not much I can do about the weather, but my amazing job certainly helps me manage. No matter how snowy, windy, cold, or gray it is outside, it never hinders my commute to the living room.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Grandmas Who Don't Bake Cookies From Scratch

You don’t bake cookies from scratch? What?! 

I don't either. The Pillsbury dough boy is my pal in the kitchen and lately the tubs of dough my grandkids ask me to buy for fund raisers. They know who to ask.

If you are like me, you grew up on the family shows on TV that featured a lovely fashionable woman in a crisp shirtdress, coordinating apron, pearls adorning her neck, and wooden spoon in hand as she cheerily greeted her family and kissed her husband without ever mussing her makeup. That image of motherhood faded very quickly as my generation juggled careers along with family. A Supermom image appeared and then disappeared as we realized that doing it all was simply not possible.

Now we enter the grandparenting stage of life. We begin to try to fit the image of a grandma. But just what is that image? When my coauthored book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, was released, I was asked to do an interview with a Christian radio talk host. When he discovered that I am a scuba diver, he was amazed. Here was a grandmother who was off on scuba diving trips every year. I didn’t mention it during the show, but my first grandchild came early during one of our scuba diving trips. My kids have never let me live it down.

The radio host said the whole thing conjured up a picture in his mind of a little old white haired lady sitting in a rocker wearing scuba gear. We laughed and agreed that grandmas aren’t the little-old-ladies-in-a-rocker anymore. In fact many grandmas I know still have careers or such active lives that they buy cookies rather than bake them for their grandkids.

While down the road, you may be remembered for some of your culinary skills, chances are the more endearing memories will be of the care and love and interest you extended to your grandchildren. You are a unique individual and the greatest gift you can share with your grandchild is you. Be yourself whether that is in the kitchen sharing your cookie recipe with your grands, in the water introducing them to a colorful undersea world, or out in the snow teaching them to make snow angels—my mother-in-law’s favorite skill to pass on.

You are Grandma and you are special to them. Let them love you for it. Have I eased the guilt?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Don't Get Agitated

by Connie Cortright

Washing clothes is not my favorite task that I do during the week. But after researching the process of washing and drying clothes during the 20s and 30s, it doesn't seem to be so bad. This month I'll share with you my discoveries about washday back then to make you feel better also.

Mondays were washdays in most homes in the country - not fun days to get through. When electricity started becoming part of homes in 20s and 30s, electric washing machines were purchased as soon as possible to help make the chore easier.

In early 1920, there were several electric wash machines in production, but most of them did more damage than good. Housewives received electric shocks when water mixed with electricity, and clothes were damaged by the harsh treatment in the washing machine.

By the late 20s and early 30s, the Maytag Company was producing electric washing machines with agitators that giggled the clothes in one direction for ten seconds before stopping and going in the other direction ten seconds. These also had a drain hole in the bottom of the machine with an attached hose so the machine could be emptied more easily. Keep in mind that the water still had to be heated on the stove and poured into the machines by buckets before the washing process could begin. Women back then were thrilled to have these machines that made washday so much easier for them. Doesn't sound very easy to me.

We also have to keep in mind that these machines did not have a spinning cycle, so they were helping with the agitating part, but that was the extent of it. All electric washing machines until late  40s or early 50s still used attached wringers to squeeze the water out enough to hang the clothes to dry. The clothes had to go through the wringer after the washing process and again after rinsing.

The wringers were hooked up to gears in the machine so they spun without hand cranking. It pivoted on a corner, turning several different directions. The clothes coming out of the washing machine went through the wringer, fell into a washtub of warm water and were rinsed by hand. Then the wringer swiveled to another location to allow the clothes to be squeezed out before the second tub of rinse water. After the second rinse, the wringer swiveled one last time to squeeze the clothes allowing them to fall into the clothes basket, ready for drying. I'm tired thinking about it!

Then there's drying the clothes. We are so used to taking clothes out of washer and throwing them in the dryer, but electric clothes dryers weren't on the market at all until 1938. And of course, World War II interrupted the production of these convenient appliances for war materials.

So how did all the clean clothes get dried before then? Simple answer - clotheslines. After a long hot day wrestling with the wonderful electric washing machine, the housewives had to haul out the wet clothes in a basket to the backyard where they hung everything up with clothes pins. This had to be done in summer and winter - which I can't imagine. I've also heard that some people hung temporary lines in the house to dry clothes in winter, better, but not good.

I used to hang clothes on the clotheslines in summer when I was growing up even though we had a dryer in our house. The clothes always smelled so fresh when they were dry. I'd still do that today, but no clothesline in my backyard anymore. I wonder how many women are still able to do that around the country.

I'm guessing that Mondays were just as unpopular back then as they are today, but obviously for different reasons. What would I rather do-spend all day Monday with a wringer wash machine, or go to work and face a whole week looking at a computer? Must be where the "Monday blues" saying came from.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Remembering Winter

by Deb Donahue

I know, I know.  Most of us don’t have to remember winter.  It’s still right outside our window.  But when I start complaining about the cold or the inches (or feet!) of snow, at the back of my mind I am comparing it to the winters of my childhood.

I’m sure there were probably mild winters when I was growing up, seasons that it snowed very little in my small Illinois town.  When I felt sad because there were not enough opportunities to risk my life careening on a sled down the 4th Street hill.

But in my memories, winters in my childhood were always filled with three feet of snow. Huge piles of it in the corners of parking lots. Forts built from blocks of packed snow.  Snow caves dug beneath the drooping branches of my grandmother’s bridal wreath bushes.

I tried to find some photos of those memories to share, but it seems we kept our camera mostly indoors in those days.  So instead, I opened one of my grandmother’s 1937 Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia to see what they had to say about winter before I was even born.

Here’s a few shots from the section on Winter Sports I thought some might enjoy.

Deb Donahue can also be found at WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Amazon.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Apostrophe Catastrophe

By Robin Steinweg
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ 
See them? They’re laughing at you. Not “theyre” laughing. Not “their” laughing. Not “there” laughing. THEYRE laughing at you—as in They Are Laughing.
Okay, breathe in, breathe out.

Keep Calm

That’s right.
Do these things bother you?

It should be “Lets!”
Not “lets” -- Not “lets

You can probably tell they bother me.



Thank you, veteran’s!


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Not the sort of thing one boasts about, is it?


Oh dear! I really don’t think this is what they meant…

Your Sure Its an

For some apostrophic "how-to" instruction, go here: Grammar Girl


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