Thursday, November 29, 2007


Today Frank is 27. I called him after 6:45 p.m., when he was really 27 years old. Frank is our oldest son, and a 1LT in the National Guard. We are truly blessed and proud to call him our son. It has been a pleasure to watch him grow up to be the fine young man he is now. Yes, there were times when I wanted to ring his dear little neck but I let him survive to adulthood. There were times when I felt I just plain didn't know who this kid was standing in front of me, and there were times he was close to my heart.

The milestones have come and gone, and there will certainly be more.

The day he was finally born (he was almost a 10 month baby) was full of much needed joy. I was three months pregnant when my Dad died so having a baby was a gift of life for life. I remember seeing him for the first time and thought to myself, he doesn't have dark hair like David. Instead, here was this darling blond hair, blue eyed baby looking like he was ready to take on the world.

His first step at 10 months, his first word "bobby" at 9 months. His first doggie he called "nooker" and the cat he called "she she."

At 13 months Frank became big brother to John and he immediately adored him. I remember Frank standing at the playpen to just look at the baby sleeping and calling out "baby seep."

Frank's first day at school, going to kindergarten was a milestone for him. He was a big boy then. There were some difficult times in school for him, but he got through them and made us proud.

I chewed down all of my fingernails on Frank's first kayak trip about Lopez Island when he was 12. I spent the entire week with my rosary in my pocket. He came back a changed boy. He had grown up on that trip and had experienced another part of our world.

Frank went to wrestling camp only to break his leg. During the 6 weeks he was on crutches he grew three inches. I wondered if this was just a warning of what was to be of his wrestling career.

When Frank started high school it was a whole new world for all of us. He became the football player and wrestler. His last wrestling match his Senior year brought tears of relief to my eyes that his neck was still intact. It was a thrill to stand on the football field at his last game wearing his 70 pound letterman jacket.

Off to college Frank went and he was living "away from home." The nest was starting to empty out, giving us a whole year having John as an "only" child and enjoying the opportunity. Frank chose to go through ROTC to help pay for his college education. When he started in 1999 our world was at peace and our country didn't have wars to send our young soldiers to.

When Frank went to basic training in South Carolina, we all went down for his graduation in July (only for a son). Another proud moment. Hotter than hell, and the humidity was merciless, but worth it.

When Frank graduated from College and received his commission, we all knew he would be eventually going to Iraq. There were some bittersweet feelings that day.

The day Frank came up to Edgar's Acres and told us he was being deployed to Iraq was the day time stood still for me. I knew it was coming, but still wasn't prepared for the reality of it. I had to stop and think of how I was going to react. After all, I was now an officer's mother.

For one year I prayed all day for the safety of my son, and the soldiers under his command. Frank is the reason for sending stockings to the troops during the holidays.

The day he came back from Iraq was like a full circle for me. The flight was delayed, the plane was late, it was like waiting for a baby to be born. The moment I saw him walking down the concourse toward the waiting crowd was probably the biggest relief I have ever experienced, I lost 100 pounds off of my shoulders. I felt glued to the spot, only to be nudged on by David. I just can't describe how I felt, to see him home again. I did manage to keep my composure and act as an officer's mother should act.

Yes, that was probably the best day of our lives, for all of us.

I know it was for John, Frank's "little" brother.

I love this picture. These two brothers are thrilled to be back together again. Frank is on the left with the "desert" watch on. John is wearing the striped shirt. And no, they aren't twins.

Happy Birthday Frank. We all love you. Thank you for being who you are.

Mom xoxoxo

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We're up to 718 Stockings

Look at these. These stockings and cards are from a local Girl Scout Troop. The cards are very dear and the stockings beautiful. The girls decorated the felt stockings with glitter and gems. These are very precious to the soldiers.Peg has been busy crocheting again this year and sent in this beautiful bunch of stockings. Peg, how long have you been crocheting up stockings for this year, anyway?
Arlayne sewed these beautiful stockings for our soldiers. Look at the beautiful fabrics she used.
La Shona crocheted these lovely stockings. We will have to make sure the one of these stockings is in the box we are sending to her uncle.
Emily learned to crochet last year doing stockings for us. She is still crocheting and has done these beautiful stockings.
As I said, that brings the total up to 718 stockings, and we have seven soldiers we will be sending stockings to. We have plenty so if you know of someone who would like to receive stockings of love and support, please let me know.

On another note, doesn't Edgar look comfy?

Here's the Teddy Bear Blanket I've been working on. I'm in the middle of the last repeat. It's funny how I can't see the bears while working on it, but once I layed it out on the ottoman, I could see them clearly. As I mentioned before, this is knit with two strands of worsted yarn, and I think it may be a bit heavy for a baby. However, it will be a great blankie for a toddler to drag around. I may try using a single strand of yarn next time, which will mean more repeats of these darling bears.
Well, it was a grueling day at work today so I'm off to join David and the doggies in the living room, and have a glass of wine while dinner cooks.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Question for You!

Why is this dude holding a baseball bat instead of skis for the Panda Ski Mask? Does this seem odd to you?


Sunday, November 25, 2007

More Stockings!

I received 13 more stockings from Kristine yesterday bringing our total up to 611. I'm going to take in several hundred to work on Friday because Deb and Sandra are putting together a stocking stuffing party to help out. I am anticipating receiving a couple hundred more this week. I know there are two ladies still crocheting away on stockings, and one cub scout pack putting together about 100.

We will be stuffing stockings here at the house on Sunday, December 2. We postponed it by one week because Thanksgiving was early this year and we still are waiting for stockings.

All of the stockings we have received are so beautiful and each one carries a message of love and support. I had someone ask me last week why we were doing these stockings again this year. The comment was "aren't you just tired of this war?" I response was "this is about the soldiers that won't be home for the holidays, no politics."

So far we will be sending stockings to:

Virginia's son Rick

La Shona's uncle Jay

Cindy's son Jer

Our friend Lt. Lisa

and Peter's nephew Kainoa

We need to let these young people know we think about them and that they are included in our prayers.

Again, if you know of anyone who should receive stockings this year, please email me at ramsddj at aol dot com.

Thank you again to all of you who have provided stockings, items for the stockings, and cash for postage. God will truly bless you!


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Football and Knitting

Yesterday morning at 7:30 a.m., Frank, John and I headed off to Tacoma for the high school semi-final games. Why? Well because O'Dea was playing against Bellevue at 9:00 a.m. It isn't often that I get to hang out with the guys so I was up and ready to go at 7:00. We hooked up with the Walshes and saw a lot of other guys that went to high school with Frank and John.

Of course, O'Dea won and it was a great game.

This also meant I had close to two hours of knitting time. Of course I took my knitting. I got the first repeat of the Teddy Bear Blanket done on the way down to Tacoma, and got started on the second repeat on the way back.

It case you're wondering .... I did NOT take my knitting into the game. I think that would be crossing the line as far as Frank and John are concerned.

In the afternoon Susan called and asked if I wanted to go for coffee. I looked around the house and here was Frank asleep on the couch with A.J. sleeping on his chest. John was downstairs playing Halo. Edgar was asleep in a sun spot on the floor. Louie was stretched out on the ottoman, and even Johnny was snoozing on the loveseat. David was still at work. Coffee with Susan sounded like a great idea. I told Frank he was responsibile for dog sitting while I was out, and off I went. What a lovely respite this was.

Susan and Cynthia came over last night for a sip n' knit and we had a great time. It's always good to catch up with them. They are very special ladies and very good friends.

It was a lovely day overall.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Pies and Teddybears

We had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday. It was a day of outstanding food, special friends, good drink, and of course, pies and teddybears.

As I mentioned earlier, we went to the Walshes for Thanksgiving. My assignment was dessert, which was pumpkin and pecan pies. I've made many a pumpkin pie, it was the pecan pie I was worried about. Nothing like making a brand new dessert with an untried recipe and taking it to someone's house for dessert. After all, I do have a reputation to maintain.

I started with the pumpkin pies since I am comfortable with that task.

First of all, lay out all of the ingredients for the pie. Last check to make sure I have what I need before the grocery store closes at noon.

I layed out the ingredients for both pies ... need that comfort level for the new, and untried recipe.

For the pumpkin pie I put the pumpkin, sugar and spices in the bowl, and mixed well with my 25 year old Mixmaster.

After that I mixed together the eggs and half n' half and blended it with the pumpkin mixture.

Until it was all smooth and creamy.

Then I poured the mixture into the two "prepared" pie shells.

I put them in the oven for 50 minutes, and then ...

I went over to the kitchen table to sit, sip and knit.

I should point out that the "sip" portion of the "sit, sip and knit" exercise consisted of coffee (it was 8:00 in the morning after all).

This is the darling teddy bear baby blanket by Crystal Palace. Since I have 8 babies to be knitting for I was anxious to get started on this blanket. I haven't been able to locate the colors I want in the new Merino 5 so I am using Plymouth Yarns Encore. Between the time I had yesterday and the time today I have done one repeat. It's going to be cute.

Anyway, back to the pies.

I love the smell of pumpkin pies baking. It reminds me of Aunt Vera and Marguerite and the many, many Thanksgivings we had at their house in what used to be the "country" in Beaverton, Oregon. The smell of the spices fills the whole house with love and comfort.

These came out really, really nice and made me proud of myself.

Well on to the new and untested pecan pie recipe. Again, I set out all of the ingredients, including the bourbon (since I didn't have rum).

The pecans were sent to us from Louisanna and have been in the freezer for a couple of years. I had David taste test them to make sure they tasted okay since I had no idea what a pecan tasted like. After eating a handful, David declared they were perfect.

In the bowl I put in the Karo Syrup, white sugar, salt, eggs, melted butter, and the bourbon. After that was blended to perfection by the trusty Mixmaster, I used a spoon, and stirred in the pecans. After everthing was mixed up nicely I poured the mixture into the pie shells.

Since I want everyone to see my dirty oven I decided to take this picture. See, I'm not a perfect housekeeper by any means (I know you've been concerned).

Another 40 minutes of sit, sip and knit.

David officially said they looked beautiful and we all enjoyed the smell of whiskey floating through the house.

The pies were a big hit. The pecan pie passed the "I don't think I like pecan pie" test." All of the guys were raving about it, and some even had seconds. I took two and brought back one half. Between the pumpkin and the pecan pies, we ended up bring home one whole pie. Makes me feel good.

We got more stockings today. Two of our stocking ladies have been running their sewing machines.

Kristine sent these 12 stockings and said more are coming. They all have bells on them and so cute.

Melinda made 62 stockings and each one has a holiday card in it. She also sent along donations for postage from her and some of her co-workers.

We now have 598 stockings and $530.00 toward postage and items for the stockings.

You will note that those darling stockings from the Preceptor Alpha Nu Sisters are not on the table. Edgar and his little buddies, Louie, A.J. and Johnny are just too interested in them. Yesterday morning they had a plan. Edgar got one of the stockings down off of the table and spilled the candy cane, bubble gum, and peppermint. That gave each of the doggies a piece of candy/gum to chew. Within 30 minutes we had doggie wommit that smelled like peppermint all over the place, and one dog finally needed help getting the bubble gum out of his mouth and off of his face. They thought it was great fun for a few minutes until the plan backfired on them.

Hummm ... I smell fresh coffee.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pies and Stockings

The Preceptor Alpha Nu Sisters of Beta Sigma Phi International sent in their stockings. There are 24 already stuffed stockings for our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are lovely and packed with goodies.

The Alpha Nu Sisters all live in The Dalles, Oregon, which is located in the Columbia River Gorge, at the beginning of Easter Oregon.

We now have 524 stockings, but there is still room on the table for more.

Deb and Sandra at work are putting together a stuffing party on the 30th to help stuff stockings. Isn't that nice? I work with very nice people who have been supportive in everything I do, and in everything I have had to go through.

This year we are going to the Walshes again for Thanksgiving. We are all in good physical condition which is a good thing. The first year we went to the Walshes, Mom had a heart attack and we had to call in the good looking paramedics to take her to the emergency room. The second time we went, I ended up in the emergency room the next day for a ruptured ovarian cyst. Last year we went and Chiya assured us that 911 was on call. Fortunately, it was a very healthy Thanksgiving.

I'm taking pies again. I make great pumpkin pies, and I've been asked to bring them, as well as a pecan pie. I've never made a pecan pie but I guess there is a first time for everything.

My pumpkin pie recipe is a recipe my Great Aunt Vera got out of her Gourmet Cooking Cookbook, many, many years ago. Here it is:


1 cup sugar
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. cloves
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. mace
1/2 t. vanilla
1 can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 c. half & half

(and in my case, Marie Callendar pie crusts)

Add sugar, salt and spices to pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Beat eggs. Add cream to eggs and mix together. Add eggs and cream to pumpkin mixture, mix thoroughly. Pour filling in a pan lined with unbaked pastry. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees or until a knife inserted into the pie comes out clean.

This recipe is pretty generous so it fills both pie crusts in the package.

Now to make a Pecan Pie. I found a recipe in my old standby, the Joy of Cooking Cookbook that I got as a bridal shower present from Debbie. David is from Louisiana and Pecan Pie is a real tradition in that part of the U.S. David has never asked me to make a Pecan Pie, but I could tell this evening that he likes the idea of me giving it a try. We'll see what happens come Thursday morning when I start of the oven and make the pies. Do you think it might look like this? Who knows.

I may take pictures.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Update on Operation Holiday Stockings

I've been asked to post again the stocking pattern and the list of items for putting into the stockings. Here you go:


Worsted Weight YarnSize 7 Needles

Skill Level: Advanced BeginnerRating: Easy

Cast on 28 stitchesKnit 6 rows (garter stitch)
Starting with right side, work 24 rows in Stockinette Stitch (SS)

Work short rows as follows:

Knit 18, turn (turn the work around at the point indicated, before the end of the row)
Purl 9, turn
Knit 10, turn
Purl 11, turn
Knit 12, turn
Purl 13, turn
Knit 14, turn
Purl 15, turn
Knit 16, turn
Purl 17, turn
Knit 18, turn
Purl 19, turn
Knit 20, turn
Purl 21, turn
Knit 22, turn
Purl 23, turn
Knit 24, turn
Purl 25, turn
Knit 26, turn
Purl 27, turn
Knit 28, turn

Purl one row even

Knit 6 rows even in Stockinette Stitch

Shape toe:
Row 1: *Knit 1, Knit 2 together, repeat from *, last stitch knit 1.

Row 2: *Purl 1, Purl 2 together, repeat from * , last stitch purl 1.

Row 3: Knit 2 together to end of row, with last stitch knit 1.

Row 4: Purl 2 together to end of row, with last stitch purl 1.

Cut yarn about 12 inches and draw through remaining stitches and fasten off.
Sew seam with 12 inches of yarn.
Here's the list of items for stocking stuffers:

Chap stick®
Shampoo samples
Hand soaps
Baby wipes
a personal note would be nice too!

From Lt. Dave:

Here's a list of things that soldiers will like to get in the stockings. In addition to the list that Sue (my mom) put up, these are some things that I liked getting while in Iraq:

Hard candy
Beef jerky
Decks of cards
Puzzle books
Small toiletries shaving cream
Tooth brushes
Drink powders Gatorade®
Kool-aid® (sugar added)
Crystal Clear®
Iced tea mix
Mixed nuts
Candy Canes
Anything that will last for a while because I'm sure that they will be getting more than one care package.
Hope this helps.
1LT Dave
I forgot how early Thanksgiving is this year so we will probably be stuffing and packing stockings the weekend after Thanksgiving, and the first weekend of December. Keep sending in the stockings, items for stuffing, and yes, we can still use donations for postage.
Thanks to all of you who haven't forgotten our young men and women who will be away from their families this holiday season.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Love Clever Knitters

I just had to post this. I was checking out a pattern at Mag Knits, when I came across this.

This is called "Dad's Blueberry Pie" by Jennifer Tallapeneni, and looks good enough to eat. I love this. I love Jennifer's ability to create the knitted items she does. Me, I'm stuck on the usual, socks, sweaters, afghans, and now placemats. Her Dad must be very, very proud of her!


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Knitting and Stockings

We are up to 500 Stockings! However, we still have room on the table. Please don't think we've reached our limit. Right now we have four companies to send stockings to, which is a total of about 1100.
Look what Heather sent in:

She sent in 120 felt stockings, along with candy canes and the cutest little hard candies. These candies have little flags in them.
How cute is that. These are the first candies and canes we have received for our stockings. We've been collecting personal care items and candy to stuff into the stockings. We are still taking contributions. The list is listed on this blog.

MaryAnn sent in these beautiful stockings. You can't see it in this picture, but the green stockings are knit with cables.

Last night we had a sip n' knit at the house. Susan and Cynthia were here, as was Cindy. Cindy has wanted to learn more about knitting, so what better opportunity than to come over for sip n' knit. She is learning how to do circular knitting and make hats. She did a great job getting started and didn't let boo boos frustrate her. Cindy said it's hard to feel frustrated when you are sipping while knitting. It was a good evening of laughing, knitting, and yes a little sipping. I also managed to get a Christmas gift done. That's three gifts done (only one knit).

The dogs had a great time too. Right now they are sleeping in. It's bliss. It's reminds me of those mornings when the boys were little and they slept in. A little peace and quiet for me.

This morning I went out to sit on the deck with my first cup of coffee and it was so quiet and serene. The robins and sparrows are having a feast with the Mountain Ash tree, the berries are ripe now. The hummingbirds are still slurping up the nectare from the fuschias, and the bluejays are busy digging up the peanuts the squirrels buried this past week. It's a pleasant 50+ degrees outside and it's not raining. It's a rare calm November day and such a lovely way to start the day.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Am I Missing Something Here?

Everyone once in a while I see or hear of something that really doesn't make any sense to me.

I have noticed over the past several years a rash of new signs on the freeway. You know, the interstate highways, like I-5 and I-90. These are highways of 4-10 lanes of traffic with express lanes in some of these highways.

These signs are this:

Okay. If you are parked on the freeway, wouldn't it be because you need to be towed away? If I end up having to park on the freeway, in the NO PARKING ZONE, I'm hoping a tow truck comes along and gets me and my car the hell out of there and to a friendly service station.

The other thing I can't quite understand are these mobile billboards. I keep reading about global warming and how the carbon monoxide from our beloved automobiles are heating up the environment. If that's the case (and I don't doubt the love affair we have with cars is a contributing factor to global warming), then why are these mobile billboards everywhere?

Anyone living in a large city has seen them. Anyone taking a bus home (to conserve energy wastes being released into the environment) has seen them. They are like rabbits, they are breeding everywhere, on the city streets and highways. They are also another distraction while driving. After all, we have to read what the billboard is telling us.

Yesterday there was a mobile billboard parked in front of our building in the "PASSENGER LOADING ZONE ONLY" for over an hour, with its engine running, farting out bad exhaust. When it was time for the carpoolers to wait for their ride, the PASSENGER LOADING ZONE ONLY was duly occupied by this mobile billboard. We ended up getting into the vehicles picking us up in the middle of traffic. I understand free enterprise, but really now, is this sending a message or what.

I've been an avid environmentalist all of my life and it breaks my heart to see what is happening to our planet. Am I the only one disturbed by the emergence of these mobile billboards? I wonder what Lady Bird Johnson would have to say about them.

Okay, enought said (there is a story with the "enought"). Debbie knows.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Table Still Has Lots of Room

Elaine sent more stockings that she crocheted. She has done 76 stockings for OHS 2007 and they are so darling. I understand Elaine is now doing stockings for a youth organization for the holidays. Hurray for Elaine.

That brings us up to a total of 372 stockings. We have received $210 in donations for postage. Thanks to all of you who have helped us out with that.

Aren't these stockings beautiful? They are full of love for our soldiers. Each one is a symbol of our support and of our remembering the soldiers are in a war zone. We need to be sure they know we haven't forgotten them.

Thanks to all of you who are participating this year. This means a lot to the men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sleep well.


Monday, November 12, 2007

We Are Up to 347!

The stockings continue to come in. We now have 347 stockings for OHS 2007! There's still plenty of room on this table. It seats 10 and last year we managed to pile on over 1700 stockings.
Here is what my cousin Sam and her granddaughter Katlyn sent. They made 100 felt stockings that Katlyn sewed together and then decorated. Aren't they cute. It's nice to have children involved, it means a lot to the soldiers to know a child made a stocking for them. Sam has been a major supporter of OHS from day one. She too has a son in the Army, Captain Keith.

Nancy sent in these beautiful stockings. This year she purchased her stockings because she was so short of time and wanted to make sure we had her contribution. Thanks Nancy for participating again this year! It means a lot.

The Santa stocking with the red floppy hat on the left reminds me of our baby bichon Johnny. Little face, lots of fluff.

We have also received $160.00 for postage which is very much appreciated as well. Last year postage was over a $1000.00, but well worth every penny.

We have also received donations of personal care items, which people have been collecting when they travel. Here is a list of items that we need for stocking stuffers

Chap stick®
Shampoo samples
Hand soaps
Baby wipes
a personal note would be nice too!

From my son Lt. David:

Here's a list of things that soldiers will like to get in the stockings. In addition to the list that Sue (my mom) put up, these are some things that I liked getting while in Iraq:

Hard candy
Beef jerky
Decks of cards
Puzzle books
Small toiletries
Shaving cream
Tooth brushes
Drink powdersGatorade®
Kool-aid® (sugar added)
Crystal Clear®
Iced tea mix
Mixed nuts
Candy Canes
Anything that will last for a while because I'm sure that they will be getting more than one care package.

Hope this helps.

1LT David


Sunday, November 11, 2007

More Stockings!

The stockings are coming in! We are up to 227!
Janell sent in 62 stockings of sample socks she used in her yarn store. Aren't these beautiful. Janell has closed her store and is concentrating now on her fiber business, Fantasy Fibers so she donated all of these stockings made with Opal Yarn to OHS 2007. Janell is one of our first participants in 2005. Janell, and her daughter, Heather, were super knitters the first year for us, and continue to be strong supporters.
Elaine has been busy crocheting stockings for us. These were delivered earlier in the week. She sent in 51 and I guess she is still crocheting away. These are so cute, and each one has a little bell on it. Betty participated last year too.

Diana sent 6 more of her darling stockings. So far she has knit 31 stockings. Diana is the one who made the comment that these stockings were the perfect summer project (See July 12 Blog).

I got these from Betty in yesterday's mail. They are beautiful. Betty has been part of OHS from the very beginning, and a true source of support. The first year Betty was very encouraging and kept telling me we would make our goal.

Thanks ladies for these lovely stockings, and for again participating.


Weekend at Edgar's Acres

We are here at Edgar's Acres, the land of dial up internet connections, woodstoves, and NO PHONE! It is of course chilly, but our little house is cozy and warm. The doggies are having a great time and are getting lots of exercise chasing anything they can see. They can bark without neighbors getting their shorts in a bunch.

Edgar's Acres is also the land of dial up knitting.

This is what I work on while waiting on internet connections. I am using Wool-Eze Bulky with size 10.5 needles, and have 44 stitches on the needles. It is the garter knit stitch. To give you an idea of how much knitting you can get done while waiting on the internet, I have knit three rows of my project with each picture I have downloaded for today's blog. I generally average 1-2 rows while waiting for a site to come up. Can anyone tell me what I am working on? There is a prize if you can.

We've planted a hedge. Some people call these type of hedges "good neighbor" hedges. It is also being passive aggressive about something that bugs the hell out of you.

The taller plant in the front is a Mohave Pyracantha. The little trees on the left are Emerald Green Arborviate, and the other four are Cottoneasters. All will grow to 8-12 feet in height, and spread about 6-8 feet in width. They are also all evergreen so the hedge will be in place all year.

The hedge will give us privacy, provide shelter for the birds, provide flowers and berries for the birds, butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds, and ...

help eliminate this view. Rather than bitch at the neighbors about the amount of stuff they are piling up in their back yard, we decided to plant a hedge. We don't have a problem with the area on the right that is an area gone wild. The birds and other wildlife live there and are entitled to a place to call home. It's the vehicles, garbage cans, trailers, and garbage that is a bit hard to handle. It's their property and they like their stuff. The goal is to have the hedge grow to about 8 feet so the mountains will still be visible, and not be bothered by our neighbors' collection of stuff.