Monday, August 12, 2013

Miracles Still Happen

Country singers entertain in the lobby. Annie's leg is in the foreground.
I 'm trying to think of an interesting topic to write about and not coming up with much. This morning a friend of mine that I first met online reminded me of how we met in person.  We arranged to meet at a mall and we hit it off immediately.  We shopped all day and decided our middle names were "shopping".  I guess I could write of my memories of shopping with my mom, Pug, but not now.

Carlotta Wheeler sings as her husband Bob works the music.
Another topic could be the story of Annie's roommate at the hospital.  It is kind of scary.  In the first place, Annie was supposed to be in a private room on the third floor that is devoted to orthopedics but ended up on the fifth floor which is an overflow for everything, I guess.  Anyway, it was very small and crowded with very little privacy.  The curtains that wrap around the beds didn't even work right.

They wheeled the lady into the room about early afternoon and she looked in bad shape. She had a big cut on her forehead, a big neck brace and a very swollen left arm. She was in a lot of pain for sure!  We ended up hearing her story a lot because she had a lot of company plus a lot of doctors who wanted to know what happened.

Her 26 year old son was driving her to work in his pickup. They were on I-17 just after getting on from the 101.  She unhooked her seat belt to reach in her purse on the floor.  She saw her son look back to his right and as he turned back she saw his eyes rolled up in his head!  He was having a seizure.  The car crossed two lanes of traffic and she was yelling at him.  At the last minute he jerked the wheel so it hit the cement median at a glancing blow instead of head on.  They did not roll and they were not hit by any cars.  A miracle on the interstate during rush hour on a Friday morning!  They were lucky to be alive. 

She ended up with a shattered L-1 disc in her spine with pieces floating around, a broken ball part of her shoulder, broken arm bones, broken wrist and broken fingers.  She has a long "Frankenstein" (her word) cut on her forehead that took 10 stitches.  She was bruised and whip lashed all over and her chest was very sore from the airbag.  She had spine surgery yesterday and was supposed to have shoulder and hand surgery today. Ohhhhh, when they moved her to take her down for the MRI my shoulder ached for her.  She was in great pain.

Meanwhile, her son was across the hall with a shattered eye socket, broken cheekbone, and some other bones in the face. I guess his face was hugely swollen according to the friends that stopped in to visit.  He also had some spine injuries. Many of his friends came to visit him and then dropped in to see his mother.

Remember this room was crowded to begin with and then the parade of doctors, nurses, and visitors was never ending.  We had been up since 4 AM and Annie had been through a 2 hour surgery so she needed rest.  I'm sure the poor woman did too.  She was in extreme pain and the medication was not touching it so they were trying ice packs and whatever.  She counted the minutes until her next pills!  It wasn't until 10:30 that night that the last 4 visitors left!  By then Annie was exhausted and knew the whole story word for word.

Needless to say, Annie begged her doctor to let her come back to the rehab center the next day and he finally relented so we made it back to the relatively peaceful quiet of the weekend here at the rehab center.

I hope that Tracie has a quick and uneventful recovery and they can relieve her pain.  I also hope her son,Travis, has a quick recovery and a good plastic surgeon working on his face.  They are so lucky to be alive and to be receiving great care at the hospital.

This event got me to thinking about how quickly our lives can change and makes me feel grateful for how my life is going!

Bob and Carlotta Wheeler

Monday, August 5, 2013

One Way to Idle Away An Afternoon

Here I am learning how to paint with watercolors on a cruise.

I am just a little embarrassed to do a show and tell on this story but here goes:
Yesterday the planned afternoon event here at the rehab center was "Painting With Cheryl".  Annie and I didn't pay much attention to it because we both must have had some kind of traumatic art experience in our youth and are definitely stick figure types  of drawers.  Annie claims she can't draw a straight line with a ruler and I just knew I had never had much formal training in the basics of drawing and painting.  It seems my early art experiences were mostly craft type things, although I do remember having to take some basic art class in college that had to do with the color wheel. There was also a class where I had to plan a house with all the furnishings and draw the outside elevations for it.  I pulled an all-nighter  on that, and my sister-in-law, Barbara Ann, had to come to my rescue and help me brick in the house exterior at the last minute to get the project done on time.

When I was on my cruise in the Panama Canal I got talked into taking a watercolor class with some friends I met on board.  We had a great time with a lot of laughs. I have to say the teacher was great, and I did learn a few basics, although my finished products certainly wouldn't win any prizes but were quite colorful. 

My friend Anasuya laughing it up in watercolor class on the cruise.

Back to Annie and I ignoring the call for the painting class.  About 10 minutes after the announcement a lady came to our door in an apron and invited us to come down and paint.  We both let her know we were not painters but she was not going to take no for an answer.  She told us she could teach anyone to paint and she didn't have anyone show up so we were it!  I remembered my friend Tory the art teacher in Owyhee and Wendover telling me the same thing.  I also thought about all the fun we had in the watercolor class so I ended up talking Annie into giving it a shot.
Penny's Work of Art.
By the time we got down to the rehab room where Cheryl had set up the painting table there were 3 others we had met on the way and talked into going too.  Cheryl had a painting she had done of the desert in fog at sunset that we were using as a guide.  It turned out that one lady was quite an artist and the rest of us were not.  We had a fine time and some good laughs.  It was very enjoyable and we got to take our pictures home with us.  Our families will certainly be fighting over who will get our lovely sunset pictures!  Cheryl did teach us some techniques and provided all the paint, brushes, canvases, and good advice while we painted.  I do think with the proper teacher I could learn to like to paint.  Maybe I need to stock up on supplies and go on You Tube........
Annie's Work of Art
On another note, here is something both Annie and I are much better at.  This is a recipe that Annie has made for many occasions through the years and people clamor for the recipe.  It is quite simple but delicious! 


This is more my speed.  I made some sushi on that cruise.

      Snicker  Cake

1 German Chocolate cake mix

1 pkg. Caramels (14 oz.) 52 caramels

1 stick margarine

1/3 C. milk

¾ C. Chocolate bits or just shake from bag if you like lots of     chocolate

1 C Nuts chopped

Mix cake mix according to directions.  Pour half of batter into 9”X 13” greased pan.  Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  Melt caramels with margarine and milk in the microwave for about ten minutes checking often to see when melted.  Pour over the baked cake, sprinkle with chocolate bits and chopped nuts.  Dot with remaining cake mix on top.  Bake additional 20 minutes at 250 degrees and 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

From Ann Tenant

Sorry, I don't have any pictures for you of this cake.  But you can use your imagination all you Snickers lovers!

An impressionistic study in art class on a rocking ship.  HEHEHE!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Here I am in Phoenix AGAIN--In summer!

The cookie jar in the lobby.  I guess everyone hit it pretty hard. The chocolate chip cookies were delicious!
Here I am back in Phoenix.  Annie has had her surgery and because it was more extensive than they thought, they had to put her in a rehab center for awhile.  I am staying at her house about a 20 minute drive away.  The rehab center is really nice.  The food is well prepared and there is a nice selection. They have a pleasant dining room and they vary the seating so you get to visit with a variety of people. I eat my dinner here every day. Each day they also have an afternoon activity.  So far we have seen a movie with popcorn and soda, had sundaes at the ice cream social, and today we are headed out to play bingo. The beauty salon was open this morning and a lot of ladies got their hair done. I feel really lucky when I hear some of these people's stories. I sure am grateful for good health and staying in shape! 

This is "our table".  We park ourselves here and then they bring others to sit with us.

This brings me to my walking adventures. Marianne got me to put the Runkeeper app on my iPhone, so then I had to set some goals. They really do keep me walking. Just before I found out I was coming to Phoenix I set a goal of 30 miles by the end of August. When I got down here I couldn't see walking in 100 degree heat and wondered if I would meet my goal. Annie suggested mall walking so yesterday I tried it and it was fun. There were quite a few people walking at 7:30 in the morning.  There was music and several food places were open including Starbucks.  A security guard was driving around keeping us safe.  A group of women were doing Pilates and another group of people were having morning coffee together in the food court. I did 4 circuits of the mall and then had an iced frappuccino out on the patio of Starbucks.

This is the sitting area in the lobby with the registration desk in the back.  The chairs are really comfy.  I've tried them out!

The next day (today) I met Amy (Skyler and Colton's aunt) and we did the same walk.  We had a nice visit and then we had our Starbucks.  My Runkeeper went nuts on me and said we had walked 4.5 miles and the map it drew was really crazy!  It said we walked at a pace of 12.43 minutes per mile!  That's better than JJ and Carla did with their running.    Anyway that put me over my 30 miles so I had to set a new goal.  I am going for 40 miles by the end of September.

The dining room.  There is a private dining room for families to eat in.  They also use it for movies and bingo.

Well, they just told us they cancelled bingo!!!  How dare they!  Guess I will see if they have some cards. One thing about these places is that it gets pretty long and lonely between meals on the weekends for those who don't have family or friends who come to visit.  Not much therapy goes on during the weekend.

Another view of the lobby.  In the background is a large aquarium and the library.

That's about it for now. I'll try to come up with a recipe for my next blog.

Here are some pics of the fish in the aquarium.  They are so friendly and they love to pose.

This fish loves to get real close to the glass when he sees a camera!

Mr. Stripes

I love anemones! These pale pink ones are so delicate.

These orange, black and white fish love the anemones too!    

Saturday, July 20, 2013

And To Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street

Here I am on top of Airport Hill.  The Delaney Butte is behind me.  Luckily there was no coyote up here on top!

On my walk today I got to thinking about a story we used to have on a record (this was in the "olden days" before books on tape and  It was one of the first books Dr. Seuss wrote and I was quite young.  It was called "To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street!". We loved that story and I have always tried to use that philosophy when out on walks to make them more interesting.

For instance today when I went on my walk, I was about a mile and a half from home when I heard a coyote howling behind me.  I imagined a starving pack of them sneaking in the willows getting closer and closer.  The howling continued and I sped up my walking!  If only John or Clint Harvat would show up in their pickup to save me.  I kept on moving quickly looking for a stick to beat them off or a stone to throw at them.  I looked behind me and even turned around a few times and walked backwards but could not spot anything.  Finally as I was puffing up the hill to our first gate, I realized I hadn't heard anything for awhile and I figured I had escaped!  I made it back to the cabin safely with a new personal best for speed.  WooooHoooo!

You may be wondering what happened to my walking partners, the heifers.  They would have protected me.  Well, they got moved to a different pasture.  No help from them and my friend, Mr. Rabbit had hopped away from me without a look backwards!

See, I bet you never thought a regular morning walk could be so exciting.  You should read up on it and try it sometime.  Thank you, Dr. Seuss.

I have some other good examples but they can wait for another time.  Here are some pictures from other recent walks I've taken.  Each one was a fun adventure.

While we were visiting Carla and Jim, we took a drive to Devil's Tower.  I had never been there before.  Carla and I took the walk around the base of the tower.

We were there on a Beautiful Sunday afternoon.   Many people like to rock climb to the top of the tower.  You probably can't see the 2 people on the ledge just to the left of that tree branch.  There were many more climbing on the backside of the tower. 

Brendin Darcy and I hiked up a mountain in Mount Vernon , WA in June.  I have posted some of the pictures from then but here are a few more.  The foliage in Washington is more jungle-like than here in Colorado.

Darcy, Brendin and I are headed down the mountain in Mount Vernon.

Finally we came to the road back to the car!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Meemo Says Mini Taco Salads are Fun Foods !

Looks tasty doesn't it ?

Here's the latest from my cooking adventures.  Yesterday I was rummaging through the refrigerator trying to use up food before it spoiled.  I found a half package of hamburger and decided a nice taco salad was just the ticket.
The little tortilla baskets after baking.

I got to remembering that last fall Annie had given me a set of heavy kind of fluted pans for making those tortilla bowls they serve taco salad in.  Found them and got my small sized corn tortillas (8 inches?) out of the freezer.  I quickly thawed them in the microwave, brushed a little oil on each side, and pressed them into the pans.  I put them in my toaster oven, set it on convection, and baked them at 450degrees for around 10 minutes until they started to turn golden brown.  I could only fit 2 in the oven at a time but that was OK.  It works well for only 2 people.
Mini salads have their meat and cheese and are ready for toppings.

Meanwhile I browned and seasoned my meat.  I kind of cleaned up some leftover Rotel, green chilis, and wonderful  Vermont sharp cheddar cheese one of Thomas's friends had contributed to our 4th of July weekend.  I found some black olives and sliced them and then chopped up my last tomato, some onions and lettuce and I was set.  I put a big spoonful of meat in each little basket, added the toppings and a scoop of sour cream and came up with these cute mini taco salads.  They were perfect for a warm summer supper.
Dinner is ready to serve.

Two mini salads just about did it for me!

I guess I'm not Paula Dean, but I have fun trying to make do with what is around the kitchen. I wonder what I can come up with for tonight?

I finally took my walk up on top of Airport Hill this morning. it was a beautiful morning and I really enjoyed the walk.  Here are some pictures I took while I was catching my breath on top of the hill. 

This is looking to the southeast off of airport hill at the buildings where Bob's Uncle Albert used to live.  Way, way back in the distance you can just barely make out the Rabbit Ears.  You can also see Harvat's red barn on the far left.

My walking partners are waiting for me at the cattle guard.  Half of the heifers ran in front of me and stopped every so often to make sure I was coming and the other half followed behind.  When I got to the cattleguard this time they all got behind me and followed very closely until I got to their salt.  They quit me when they found I wasn't going to give them any grain, I guess.
Here I am up on Airport Hill.  That is the Haskins meadow down the hill behind me.  The cabin is way back there down the hill.
See the little white dot on the other side of the hay meadow?  That is our storage shed on top of the hill above the ponds.


Monday, July 15, 2013

What's With My Eyes This Summer?

No redness in those eyes today!  Another blingy cap!
Have your eyes been bothering you this summer?  Mine have been particularly bad this year!  Bob's have been pretty bad too.  I think I have mentioned my annual eye infection before in my blogs but if not here is the deal.  Every spring I seem to get a severe eye infection that practically blinds me.  This has been going on since childhood and it took me many years to figure out that it always starts with irritated eyes.  The cause since I have been living up here has been that dratted cotton that comes off the cottonwood trees each spring. 

When I was young I always blamed it on swimming in lakes and keeping my eyes open underwater--that was probably true back then.  One summer when Darcy was around 10 or 11, he and I drove up to Casper to visit Carla, Jim and the boys.  Apparently the cottonwoods were in full blowing cotton.  I got a terrible infection and could barely open my eyes especially outside in the sunshine.  I wore contacts at the time and didn't have any glasses with me.  We went to the movies one night (I think it was the first Pirates of the Caribbean) and I had to hold my hands over my eyes and peek through the cracks of my fingers!  The next day I went to the Emergency Room at the hospital.  (Don't even get me started on Casper's Urgent Care places that won't take Medicare patients even if they choose to pay for the visit.)  The Dr. prescribed the "magic eye drops" that cure the condition in less than 4 days usually.  He also told me to continue putting allergy eye drops in my eyes as long as allergy season lasted and to do it every year. 

The drops were slow to work and it took all 4 days to get better so Darcy and I got to extend our stay because I could not see to drive!  The sun was just too blinding.  When my eyes got better we had an adventure on our drive home but that is another story. 
This was taken in Lake Charles, LA when Bob, Carla and I went to the casino there in March.  Another story! I couldn't resist posting such a pretty picture taken from our room.
This year has been the worst!  We went to Elko,NV to visit JJ in early June.  The cottonwoods were in full glory and I began to feel my eyes itching but did not heed the Casper Dr.'s orders.  By the time I was driving up to Burlington, WA (a 11-12 hour drive) the infection had hit.  My eyelids were itching, my eyes were all red and mattery and I could hardly keep them open they were so swollen.  At least I was wearing glasses so it wasn't as bad as with contacts.  I got the "magic drops" again and picked up some allergy eye drops in case.  This was a week or so after my first signs of allergy.  I figured Burlington would be done with the cottonwoods ,but no, they were just coming out!  Before we left Marianne's I was putting more "magic  drops " in my eyes to get rid of a second infection.

  By the time we got here a week or 2 later, the infection had returned for a third time due to the cottonwoods now in full glory here!  This has been unheard of for me! It is July for heavens sake!  I certainly hope I have seen the last of this infection.  I am diligently putting allergy eye drops in my eyes every day!  When Bob went to get his driver's license the other day, he could barely see the letters in the eye exam box.  His eyes were all mattered up so I gave him a dose of allergy eye drops and it did clear them up enough to read the letters.

A couple views of  the cleaning apron I designed and made
I have been moving right along with my sewing and embroidery for the craft fair.  I never seem to get everything done I want to but hopefully I will have enough examples of some of the things I do, so that people can order them for me to do later.  I will be on hiatus for the 3 weeks I am in Phoenix but after that I hope to get some serious work done!  The ugly bathroom is still calling to me to get started on it too!

Here is the promised recipe.  Mom used to make these but most of my memories of Pickled Eggs come from our visits to Pennsylvania in the summers up in the Laural Highlands.  My mother's family came from Connellsville, PA at the foot of the mountains.  Several of my aunts and uncles had summer cabins up in the mountains and we spent many wonderful summers visiting there.  One of the favorite places to go eat was a family style restaurant called Mom's.  There were always beautiful red pickled eggs on the table as part of the meal.  They really are wonderful.  I never was too fond of just hard boiled eggs but these are different and delicious. Nowadays They are a summer standard at the Manville cabin.

                    Pickled Eggs and Beets
                A Good Pennsylvania Dutch

1 Cup vinegar-I use apple cider vinegar
1/2 Cup water
1 Cup beet juice
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp pickling spice
15 or so hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 onion sliced
Pinch of salt
2 cans of beets - sliced, quartered or whole-you can also use fresh ones and cook , peel and quarter them. Save the cooking liquid to use in the recipe.

Boil all ingredients together except eggs, onion, and beets for 5 minutes. Layer eggs, beets and onions in a large jar. Pour hot liquid over to cover.  Add more water or beet juice to cover everything. Refrigerate. The longer they wait the better they are!  We usually try to wait a couple days but a week is better.  The color and flavor soaks into the white all the way to the yolk. Very tasty. They keep a long time just like pickles.

Yum!  The eggs and beets are ready!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

An Unexpected Trip

Our family.  Top left Marianne, Danny, Carla.  Front JJ, Me, Bob.  Thanks Rita for taking our family picture!
 Click on the picture to make bigger.  Hit the back button to come back to the page.

Today I am going to post some recipes but first have decided to talk about another trip I am about to take.  A few days ago I got a call from my friend Annie in Phoenix (the one who had 2 knee replacements last spring and summer.  Bob and I spent about 3 months with her).  She had torn up a tendon in one of her knees and is going to have surgery on it ASAP.  She will be laid up again for another 6 to 8 weeks!  I will be headed back down to help her out for awhile again. 
Remember the Lily Pad pond from yesterday?  We took group pictures in front of it.  I obviously had my camera with me taking pictures of everyone setting up their cameras for timed shots.  That's all I have--no group photo.
This time her niece will be able to stay with her for the week of surgery.  That is good because I have the local Craft Fair to do with Carla before I can get down there.  Bob has decided he can't stand that much heat and he is a little worried about being so far from his urologist.  It is almost time for his stent in the ureter to be changed and he doesn't want to be in any Phoenix hospitals again!  Last year was enough for him.  Anyway, he is going to stay up in Casper with Carla while I am gone.  I will only be able to stay for about 3 weeks and then we will see how well she is getting along.  I have to get back for all of Bob's Dr. appointments I actually have a check up too.

Darcy and Brendin on our hike.  Darcy is trying to avoid mosquitoes, I think.
 Maybe this time I can get to see some of my former students and friends on FB.  (Tonya and Theresa??  Who else is down there in summer?) Of course I may get to visit with Beth's sister Amy and her family too. Then again I was pretty busy last time just getting everyone taken care of.  At least I will be dealing only with one hospital and maybe not even that if all goes well. Annie and I will have some good times reminiscing about the good old days .

I was trying to bind the apron on a table with a just started puzzle and all my sewing paraphernalia.
I am trying to multi-task right now and things are kind of getting in a jumble.  I hope this doesn't sound as discombobulated as I feel!  I am embroidering some lace snowflakes for the craft fair, making a garden apron, eating a little lunch, hoping the lightning doesn't shut me down, and trying to write this blog.  Oh and I keep getting cell phone messages and FB messages as well!  I think it is time to post my recipes!
I'm trying to make a set of lace snowflake ornaments for the craft fair but the thread keeps breaking.

The first recipe is for ice cream  Jason was looking for one just before the Fourth of July so I dug out an old one I've had around for a long time.  Carla brought her electric ice cream freezer down for the 4th so we used it with some modifications to make the ice cream.  We had a major problem though.  The motor was seized up on the freezer!  We had already cooked and cooled the batter and we had a house full of young men who were looking forward to this dessert so they took turns spinning a pair of pliers holding on to the dasher! It took awhile but the result was delicious.  Here it is:


6 Eggs
2  Cups milk
¾  Cup sugar
2 to 3 Tablespoons Honey
¼ teaspoon salt
2 Cups whipping cream
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
Crushed ice and Rock Salt

In a medium saucepan, beat together eggs, milk, sugar, honey, and salt.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and just coats a spoon.  Cool quickly by setting the pan in ice or cold water and stirring for a few minutes.  Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly cooled at least an hour.  When ready to freeze, pour chilled custard, whipping cream and vanilla into a 1 gallon ice cream freezer can.  Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions using 6 parts ice to 1 part rock salt.  Transfer to freezer containers and freeze until firm.

These are the American Egg Board Directions.  You can adjust according to size of freezer and if you didn’t start on time.  I used to put my custard in the freezer to speed it up and then put it in the ice cream freezer when it got lukewarm.  It just takes more ice and time to set up.  The proportions of ice to salt really are pretty important for a nice smooth ice cream.  Cooking the eggs in the custard prevents Salmonella so I definitely recommend it!
Carla’s version we called Drunken Strawberry Ice Cream:  Prepare as above, Partially freeze.  Add 2 cups sweetened crushed fresh strawberries and a couple shots of vodka to the mix and complete freezing it.
Banana Nut:  Reduce vanilla to 1 ½ tsp.  Prepare as above.  Stir 3 large ripe bananas, mashed, and ½ cup chopped toasted pecans to custard mixture and freeze.

Cherry:  Reduce vanilla to 1/2 tsp. add 2 Tbsp.  almond Extract.  Prepare as above.  Partially freeze.  Add 2 pounds pitted pureed dark sweet cherries or 1 can (16 to 17 oz. pitted dark sweet cherries, drained and chopped.  Complete freezing.

Chocolate:  Add 3 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened chocolate to egg mixture.  Prepare as above.

Mint:  Omit vanilla.  Add 1 ½ tsp. mint extract and 9 to 12 drops green food color, if desired.  Prepare as above.  I think you can figure out Chocolate Mint by yourself.

Plum (really???):  Reduce vanilla to 1 tsp.  Prepare as above.  Partially freeze.  Add 1 ½ lbs. pitted, pureed ripe fresh plums.  Complete freezing.

The paper said more at the bottom of the page but I must have lost the rest of the pages!

  I guess I'll save the other recipe for tomorrow......