Cleaning Up For Your Children

Rose In Memory of His Father

I just returned from helping a friend who needed to clear his parents home of fifty years of accumulated things.    It was not anything that could be done in two months.  When I first flew up, my plans were to stay for a month but I changed my mind.

People do not realize as they live their lives each day that something may or can happen to them tomorrow.  We all are guilty of keeping too many things that are not needed in our home.  On top of that, may people will not let go of things and rent storage to put them in.

His father was a doctor and had retired.  When he did, he bought home everything even the table he used to examine people.  He bought home drugs,  medical records and anything else that was there.  Even the posters that were on his walls.  I wonder if it ever occurred to him to just throw away most of the things.  We had to contact a group to disposes of medicines the proper way.  Now, my friend will have to jump through hoops just trying to do the proper thing about getting rid of the medical records.  His dad was not doing well mentally but no one understood that until his mother had a stroke.

His mother sewed.  She did brilliant embroidery work and had so many extra supplies  from years and years ago.  I know because she still had thread on wooden spools.  She had boxes and boxes of buttons, old sewing needles, yarn, knitting needles and fabric.  You name it and she had it.  She loved making pretty things but when her hands started to hurt from arthritis, she had to give it up.

What does keeping all of these things matter?  It matters a lot when someone else has to clean it out of a home.  One thing is certain, I came home with a new view on how I will leave my home to my children once I am gone.  It isn’t fair to expect our children to come behind us to clean up our mess.  A mess that we just didn’t take the time to clean up or one that we were not thinking was even there.  Sometimes, I feel that people do not realize that when they  put a receipt for something in a drawer that unless they are diligent in cleaning out their drawers and closets often, that receipt may be there 30 years later.  We found receipts from fifty years ago.

My friend feels overwhelmed.  He felt that way while I was there.  Before his father died, we had some  fun even in the middle of trying to make sense of all that was in the home.  Afterward, the fun stopped as he was grieving.  Not only was he grieving but he was angry.  I understand because that it is one of the  first steps of grief.  He didn’t understand.  When I would try to talk to him about it, he wasn’t interested.  It is hard to watch a person grieve knowing that there is nothing anyone can do.  That is a journey that a person has to make alone in life.  Sure good friends can reach out to them and try to give comfort but in the end, they will have to walk though that time alone.  We all do.  I have made that journey many times in my life.

In the mean time, his mom is still in a nursing home.  They are not treating her well.  Since she is in another state where is brother lives, it is hard for him to get there to see her as much as he would like.  He worries about her.  So, in the middle of grieving for his father, worrying about his mother, not being employed at the time, he still has to clean out this house by himself.  He is angry, confused, dazed and dismayed at what to do with everything.  He doesn’t have time to sell a lot of things since he needs to be looking for a job.  I know what he is going though since I was there.  It is like trying to reach the top of a mountain with branches of trees hitting you in the face with every step.    My heart goes out to my friend.  I would not wish this on anyone.

So, if your home is filled with paperwork that isn’t necessary, get rid of it.  If you have old clothes give them away.  Thin out the number of dishes you have in your kitchen.  When we reach a certain age, we do not entertain like we once did.  Do you really need all of those pots and pans in the kitchen?  When was the last time you cleaned out your closets, drawers or even the pantry?

Do your family a huge favor and save them from having to clean up after you when you are gone.  We never know when that day will come.  I plan to start with my project of cleaning out my home this week.  I would not like to  think of my children here in my home being unhappy when if I had planned like I should have, they would have little to do.  Burying your parents is bad enough.


Growing Up In The Country

My life in the country as a young girl growing up.


When I was born, we lived in a small city in Alabama. When my sister was hit by a truck after she slide off the hood of the car that was parked on the street, our parents moved to the country.

It wasn’t a town but just a small place with a lot of churches and a couple of gas stations with small grocery stores inside. I remember getting off the school bus that brought me home from about ten miles away. The school was in a small yet active town.

When the county sent a road grader out to spread new gravel on the road and smooth it out, everyone was excited as the road had holes in it sometimes. Once we turned off the main road which was a four lane later, it was a two lane road that took us to our community. Then we had to turn onto a dirt road to get to our house. The road to my house was lonely as there were not anymore houses for at least a mile.

Many, many times, I walked to see a girl friend who lived on the other end of that road as I passed trees with muscadine vines growing up in them. These were a real treat in the summer if we could get them before the animals did. One spot on the road was where chert was gotten to put on the road. It left a small pond if it had rained. In this pond would be tadpoles. My sister and I was amazed at these little creatures living in the water. We knew that later, they would become frogs.

Anyway, we would walk all the way to the end of it just because that is what little children did. We could take off to play in the pasture, wade in the creek where stones were like a play ground to my sister and me. If we didn’t have chores, we played outside all day. Mom would call us from the front porch when it was time for dinner. I can still hear my mom calling my name over and over again making sure that I heard her. I would hear her and call back to her that I was coming.

Most of the homes were small and well cared for if the people owned them. Other homes were not nice at all but people had to have a place to live. Most people had wells for water without indoor plumbing. We didn’t have indoor plumbing until I was about eleven years old.

I drew more water than any little girl that I knew. The well had a bucket attached to a rope. I would drop the bucket into the well and I always watched it as it fell into the water. I would pull on the rope to see if the pail was full and when it was, I would draw it up with a crank. Imagine all the water a family of six used each day. Mom did laundry about once a week and the washing machine had to be filled as did both of the galvanized tubs, that were used to rinse the clothes.

Plus, the family bathed each night in a tub that was used to rinse the clothes in. We had to have water to wash our hair, mop the floors, do the dishes and cook with. Just think about all that one uses water for in their homes. Then imagine all of that water coming from a well in a gallon and one half bucket one bucket at a time.

A few of my friends in the area did have indoor plumbing and I thought they were rich. Me knowing that they didn’t have to go outside to an outhouse made me think they must be rich. I remember watching cars go down the two lane paved road in the summer and if the cars had their windows rolled up, I knew they had air conditioning in them. That amazed me that people had that kind of money.

The church where we attended on Sunday sat on a hill and was made of stone. It had a tall steppe on top with a cross. One Sunday, my mother forgot to put the emergency brake on and she saw the car rolling down the hill. She was about ninety-eight pounds at five foot five and being wiry and full of adventure, she ran to stop the car. I still can’t believe she jumped inside to stop that car. Afterward, mom never drove again. I think it scared her too much. Anyway, that church split as some churches do and we started to another church. We attended meetings in a small building until the members built a new church.

All of the men gathered their tools and went to help build the church. My dad was not a member but he helped. My dad was like that. He would help anyone do anything, He enjoyed it. Mom was so proud of him. At that church, I played the piano for the first time in public. To me the woman who played the piano each Sunday was wonderful. My dream was to learn to play as well as her.

During the summer after school was out, we had vacation bible school. We always attended. It would have been unheard of not to. We would study and afterward, the ladies in the church would make cookies and we would probably have cool aide to drink. This one woman made great cookies. At least to me. The cookies had a bit of jelly right in the center. They were special and a real treat.

We had a cow that had to be milked twice a day. My dad milked the cow before going to work and again in the evening after coming home. We had butter from that milk as well as buttermilk for mom to cook delicious breads. Mom and dad enjoyed drinking it but not me.

We also had chickens. There was a chicken coop out behind our house where the chickens would go to roost in the late evenings. I suppose the chickens laid their eggs before leaving the chicken coop in the mornings. I remember going into the coop to gather the eggs when the chickens were pecking away at insects, worms or whatever pleased them during the day. The sound of a rooster crowing is still one of my favorite sounds.

Mom and dad always had a huge garden where they grew about anything one could think of. People would drive from miles around just to see their garden. It really was that pretty and nice. There were never any weeds in it. I know because I learned to use a hoe early in life. Mom would get up just at day break to poison the vegetables. She said she did then because there was no wind. She would put something over her mouth because she realized she didn’t need to breath the dust. That was back when we still used DDT. However, mom knew that she couldn’t use the poison after a certain time during the growing season or the food would be contaminated.

When the garden would be filled with beans, pens, corn, okra along with other vegetables, they would have to be picked. I enjoyed it. However, I didn’t like cutting okra because if the leaves or pods touched my skin, it would make it itch. Mom always worn long sleeved shirts to cut it.

When the beans or peas were gathered in big buckets, we children would sit with mom under a shade tree to string the green beans or shell the peas to be canned. What we didn’t eat was canned and believe me, that was a lot. One year we grew some peanuts. Our soil was sandy but rich and anything would grow nicely. It was my job to keep the weeds out. I remember when the time came to pull them up. Dad made little cuts in the ground far out from the plant and then he would pull up the entire vine. The peanuts would be left turned upside down to dry in the sun.

As y’all can see, I enjoyed my life in the country. It was a fun place to live. My wish is that every child could have a chance to live at least one year like I did back when I was just a girl.

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The Squirrel

Bad Squirrel

Animal lovers beware as this might not suit ya.  This is my story of a struggle with a neighborhood squirrel.

Right before Thanksgiving a squirrel moved into my attic.  I heard the noise but in my mind I suppose that I thought that a bird was beating against the house.  What could have I been thinking?

One night as I lay on the sofa after Thanksgiving, sick as a dog with the flu, I heard this noise in my attic.  I lay still and listened.  It was like a scratching sound.  Then I hear little feet scurrying above in the ceiling.  Dang, that is not a bird.  I do believe that a rat is in my attic.  It bothered me but there wasn’t anything that I could do since I was sick.  I lay either in my bed or on the sofa for about a week listening to something having a party in the attic.  All that was needed was music.  Thank goodness that there wasn’t any.

Monday, I decided that I had to figure out what was going on.  I got a ladder and went to the front and put it up next to the front door.  There seemed to be a hole in the eve right below the roof.  I climbed up and found a hole that had been eaten away.  I knew then that it wasn’t a rat but a squirrel.  I had seen that sign before now.  What to do?

I went to my storage building and found some pieces of wood to do a temporary mending job.  What a mess.  It looked like what we see in photos  of a hillbilly house.  I nailed the board one way and then another was nailed at an angle on top of that one.  I had to do it that way because of a gable.  I stepped down from my patch job and felt proud but ashamed at the same time.  I was pleased that the squirrel couldn’t get back in but I was also hoping that my neighbors wouldn’t be looking at my eves.  I mean the boards didn’t even have paint on them.

Oh well, I wasn’t going to have to be concerned about that too long as the squirrel was back.  I woke the next morning to the tune of the squirrel’s chatter of teeth drilling away on the boards.  What?  I was insulted.  How could he think that he could get back in after the job that I had done.  I am a person and he is only a squirrel…..a rat with a fluffy tail.  I wasn’t going to put up with it.  No sir-ree.

I went out and looked up to see that his teeth had already made a good job of whittling away at the replacement boards.  What to do?  I went into the kitchen and took down some shortening and powdered hot pepper.  I mixed the two together and smeared it on the boards.  That should do it.  I went about my business.

The next morning I woke to the sound of you guessed it…..the chatter of a squirrel’s teeth drilling away on my house.  This was getting personal.  I walked out to see the damage that had been done.  It was still OK but if he kept it up, I would have to replace those boards.  I started looking for a piece of sheet metal.  Standing  there I could visualize the squirrel eating through the metal like it was frosting on a cake.  Bingo…..that gave me a thought.

I opened the refrigerator door and took out a bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce.  I took the bottle with me and sprinkled it on the roof and the boards as I noticed that the squirrel had eaten some of the roofing too.

Later that day, I heard a thump on the front porch and went to look.  It was that squirrel looking at me dead in the eyes.  He didn’t run off.  He just sat there looking at me the same as to say, “Look what you have done to me?  I don’t have a home.  You have all of my food and now you are trying to set my  mouth on fire.”  Then he ran off, jumped up on the fence, ran across it, jumped down on the ground, back up on another fence and up a tree.  He sat on a limb for a minute and then he was gone.  I thought, well, he is gone for good.  Surely, he will not be crazy enough to try again.

However, for two days now, I have been up and down that ladder putting more hot sauce on the shingles and boards.  As I was standing in a neighbor’s yard talking, I looked at my house and this squirrel was squatted on the tallest peak of my house like a gargoyle there to scare away evil spirits.

It never occurred to me that he had stored food there until a friend suggested it to me.  Food?  Of course, squirrels live in trees but once they store their food in a tree, that is home.  My attic now was home because of his stored away winter food supply.  I wish that I could just say, “Here squirrel, come get these tasty nuts that I am putting out for you but I am afraid that he will not be interested in what I can give him.  He is only interested in what he worked so hard to get and put away for a rainy day.  I wish that he had all the nuts that make pecan trees in my shrubs each year.  Or the Magnolia seeds that sprout into small trees that he hid there.

What to do?  I think that next thing that I should do is trap him in a cage and take him to another part of the state.  I would turn him loose somewhere close by but I do not think that he will forget where I live for one minute.  Maybe I will be moved or dead and gone before he finds his way back from across the state.

Now, to find a trap in case he comes back and the neighborhood boys find out about him and make target practice of him.

Why Haven’t I Finished Painting?

I have been working on my bedroom for over two weeks.  The walls are nearly completed.  I peeked in this morning with dread to see just how much needs to be done for it to be completed.  Not much.  The ceiling has been primed and needs paint.  The trim needs to be painted.  I hate painting trim.

I am still sleeping on my new bed in the living room floor.  It would appear that I would want to finish this job and move into my beautiful new bedroom.  I have all new things to dress the room to make it so lovely.

I would but one day this week my lover came for a visit.  The next day I didn’t do anything but wash the dishes.  I was worn out.  Sounds crazy.  I used to make love or if one prefers, have sex and get up and be full of energy.  Not anymore.  Afterward now, I am worn out.  I have to wonder if it is the quality of the love making or just me getting older.

Dang, I hate to think it is because I am getting older.  Might be.  I think I will talk to my doctor about it next time.  I can see the look on his face when I tell him.  He is so young that is probably thinks ladies my age do not have sex.  🙂

OK….I know that y’all are wondering why I don’t get my lover to paint the room.  He said he would but that he had never painted.  Hey, I don’t know about y’all but that is a huge red flag in my book.  I had rather do it myself.

He does know how to mow grass so the next time he comes over, I think I will suggest that he mow mine before we have fun.  That should be a good test to see what his real intentions are.  Don’t ya think?

Making my own laundry detergent.

Why should I make my own detergent for my laundry?  Because it only cost a penny or two to do a complete load of clothes.  That is a good enough reason but I have more.  Detergent is really expensive if one buys the best.  I am for buying the best because the cheaper brands are watered down and do not get the job done.

Plus, I know what goes into it and that makes me feel good.  No harsh chemicals.  Plus, plastic is a terrible thing to put in the dump and most people do not recycle.  Do I?  When I think about it and that isn’t good enough.

Here is my recipe for making my own laundry detergent.  It isn’t hard so give it a try to see what you think.

The first product is Fels-Naptha Soap.  It can be found but one might have to look around a bit to find it.  It has a nice smell but the main thing is that it is pure soap that can get rid of poison oak from clothes and your skin.

The next ingredient is Washing Soda.  This can usually be found in the laundry isle in most big stores.

Third is Borax powder.

Here is the recipe.

i/3 third bar of Fels-Naptha Soap or if it can’t be found one can use Ivory or Zote.

1/2 cup of Washing Soda

1/2 cup of Borax powder.

A small two gallon bucket is needed.

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan.  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.   Now add your soap mixture and stir.  Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.  You use ½ cup per load but for front loading machines, 1/4 cup is usually enough.

The soap will not hold together like most laundry detergent.  One has to give it a good shake to mix it well before pouring it into the washing machine.  There is a way to make it hold together and that is by adding a small bottle of Dawn or your favorite dishwashing detergent.  I personally perfer to just give it a good shake.

This soap doesn’t make suds but suds is not what gets your clothes clean.  Plus, if one is using a front loading machine, it is best.

One last note.  Use some of the soap to spot treat any stains  Presto.  Stains will come out.

Now get busy looking for these products.  I searched online to find mine.  Then make a batch and share it with your family and friends.  After all, such a great soap that only cost pennies to use should be shared.

Conserving Energy In The Home

Remember one thing after you complain about how much it cost to heat your home this winter. It is cheaper to wear more clothes in the home than it is to turn up the thermostat.  I keep mine on about 67 degrees during the day and 55 to 60 degrees at night. In the summer, I keep it on 78 and use a fan in the room where I am working.  Use those ceiling fans to keep the air moving.  Start this early in the spring and by summer, you will be used to it.  Oh, and keep those filters clean.  It keeps the unit from overworking and that saves money too.

Do you know that an empty fridge cost more to run that one that is full?  Hey, when you empty that jug of milk, fill it with water and put it back in the fridge. Keep curtains open on the sunny side of the house. If you will not be home during the day, cut the thermostat down to about 63 degrees. When you get home, it will be warm enough and will not take long to heat it up to 67 degrees.

If you plan to be gone all weekend, cut it down to at least 55 to 60 degrees. Why heat an empty home? Oh and don’t forget to flip the breaker off on the water heater. If you are using gas, turn it down to vacation mode.  Speaking of hot water heaters, why not buy an insulating blanket?  It is amazing at how much heat is lost without one.

Never wash clothes in hot water or even warm water.  Liquid detergent does a great job of cleaning clothes.  If you are concerned with germs, use bleach.  On sunny days for those who can, hang your clothes on the line.  You might even enjoy it.  If you want them fluffed up after they are dry, just put in the dryer on air.  That should do the job.

When your appliances need to be replaced, look for Energy Star.

If you can not replace your windows with new energy-efficient ones, make sure to chalk around them.  Do the door too.  Even on the inside, you can use clear sealant to run a bead around the window.  Trust me, you will be glad that you did.

I could write a book on saving energy but I just wanted to hit the high spots to remind people of how easy it is to save those bucks going to the utility companies.  Hey, wouldn’t you rather spend it on something for yourself?

Most people I know only wish they have a utility bill as low as mine.

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