Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back to Work, Safe and Sound (Part 1- Friday and Saturday)

The last few posts were a bit of a teaser to what I did over the Memorial Day weekend. Joe's mother was in dire need of a vacation, so she decided to head west from her home just outside of Pittsburgh, PA to visit her sisters and son. Her sisters all met in Pocatello, Idaho at one of their homes. Instead of paying for another airline ticket from Idaho to Montana, Joe decided to drive down and pick her up. This also gave us the ability to show her some of Montana's historic sites and scenery.

On Friday, Joe and I had to work until 6pm. We had decided to break the trip from Great Falls to Pocatello in half, so we left right after work and headed south. We didn't even eat any supper before driving out of town! It was strange driving right past Helena, throwing a wave out of the window in the general direction of my house. We pulled off the Interstate at about 8:15pm in Butte, MT (155 miles from Great Falls); and ate a quick meal at the Burger King there. A top off of the gas tank, and we were back on the highway in no time. The drive south from Butte to Dillon (57 miles), where we stopped for the night, was scenery we have only seen on a couple of occasions. Seeing new things helped the time and miles pass by. We arrived in Dillon, MT right around 9:30pm and picked out a motel. The rates were pretty low, considering we were travelling on a holiday weekend. We then drove to the local Safeway (grocery) store and bought some breakfast food as we were leaving an hour before the motel's Continental Breakfast room was opened. The room was clean, the bed comfortable, the night pretty quiet... but I had a hard time falling asleep. I would doze a bit, then wake... off and on, until about 2am. The plans were to be on the road by 6am, so when the alarm went off at 5:15 I really wasn't ready to wake up! Joe was already in the shower, so I drug my butt out of bed and got all my stuff ready for my shower and morning routine. I did feel much better after the shower, and eating the bagel with some Orange Juice for breakfast gave me a little boost of energy. The sun was rising as we were heading out of town, and since it was Memorial Weekend, I took the photo of the Flags and the Military Monument.

Saturday Joe and I drove from Dillon, MT to Pocatello, ID (191 miles); only stopping for a couple of geocaches and potty breaks along the way. We arrived at Joe's aunt's home around 10:30am. Introductions were made, we exchanged some small talk, then Joe's mom was ready to go. She told us later (over lunch) that she was happy to see her sisters, but she was VERY much ready to be leaving their company! We didn't waste any time in heading back north... we were back on the Interstate by 11:30am. It had been quite awhile since our small breakfast in the hotel, so we decided to stop for a good lunch in Idaho Falls, ID. Idaho Falls is a very pretty town, and I hope to see more of it someday. We chose to have our lunch at the Olive Garden, which was very good. By chance, I powered up my GPS receiver and noticed we were only 400 feet from a geocache! What luck! It was with this hide (and find) that Joe and I introduced Joe's mother to our little sport. She was ready to find another right away. Since this wasn't planned as a geocaching trip, I hadn't downloaded very many hides, and most of the ones I did were right off the highway in rest stops or tiny towns. Gretchen (Joe's mom) was ready to hit the highway and instructed us to stop at the next goecache so she could find another!
The geocaches along the route to the Montana border were placed just far enough apart to be good leg-stretchers, but not so close that we were stopping all the time. At the Montana border (Monida Pass) we stopped and took a photo under the Welcome to Montana sign for Gretchen's scrapbook. She was loving the mountains and the rustic pioneer homes that dotted the landscape.
The "Old West" ghost town of Bannack lies only 21 miles off the Interstate Highway near Dillon. Gretchen had told Joe that she would like to see the town (now a state park) if she ever came to Montana... so, we took the small detour to Montana's first territorial capital. I'll write more abut Bannack later. I only got a few photos because my camera was acting up, but I promise I'll share them with you. We spent over an hour going in the old cabins and reading the history of each one. The town and many of the buildings are said to be haunted, but the ghosts left us alone while we visited.
Heading north, once again, we arrived in Butte, MT at about 8:30pm. None of us were really hungry after such a heavy Italian lunch, but we needed something small to eat. Gretchen suggested chicken fingers from Burger King. Joe and I just shrugged... Why Not? Neither of us mentioned we had eaten there just about 24 hours ago! So, we had a Deja Vu moment, exiting at Butte, MT; going through the BK drive-thru, stopping at the gas station, and back onto the highway... only heading towards Helena this time.
Sixty-three miles and just about an hour later, we arrived in Helena, MT. The drive from Butte to Helena is beautiful! The highway follows a river through forested mountains and granite cliffs. Along the way, you pass a number of old gold and silver mines and the towns that sprung up around them. The sun was setting and the sky was washed with brilliant roses, magentas, and oranges. A wonderful light show to welcome Gretchen to our state.
The weekend plan was to stay at my house then head farther north to Kalispell, and Glacier Park... so we stopped at Wal Mart as we passed through Helena to pick up a few items, and drove the final 10 miles to my home. By then, it was a little after 9:30pm. A thunderstorm was going strong about 40 miles away giving us a show in the western sky as the clouds covered the remains of the sunset.
After 502 miles in one day , it was good to take a hot shower and sleep in my own bed... just so we could do another 702 miles over the rest of the long weekend. (...to be continued. See Back to work, safe and sound, part 2.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial day weekend continues!

After staying the night at home in Helena, we drove northward to Kalispell and spent the afternoon in the west side of Glacier Park. We are staying in a motel then off to the East side ( Two Medicine area) tomorrow.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Still road tripping

We are here. On our back to montana with joe's mom. These updates are from my cell phone. Longer write up when I arrive back to Helena.

On the road

Rest stop just south of Idaho Falls.

On the road

Armed forces memorial, Dillon, Montana.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A warm spring evening on the porch

So, since I spent all of yesterday afternoon and evening at mom's house going through cookbooks (here is only about a third of 'em)...
... This evening after work I settled into a chair on my porch to dig a little deeper into my "new" collection. How many of you remember the Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks? It seemed like EVERYONE had them in the 1970's. Well, I now have 10 of my very own:

I remember these as always being a part of mom's collection, and as I thumbed through them, I understood why I couldn't think of a time they weren't there. The "newest" is copyrighted 1976, when I was only 8, and the oldest? Well, it is dated 1963... long before I was even thought of.
Just for fun, lets take a look inside:
Birthdays and family Celebrations (1963) - We start out with Children's parties! Here are some of their ideas: Pirate Party (still a good choice!), Giant-Land dinner party (guests are seated at doll sized tables, wear doll sized party hats, and are served thimble-sized hamburgers on tiny biscuits, thumb sized scoops of ice cream - made with a melon baller - and inch-square bits of cake), Circus Party where every one shows up in costume of their fav circus performer (gotta have balloons and a clown for this one!), and... this one is GREAT! A cartoon character party! Ok, so we still have those... but NOT the characters they suggest: Donald Duck, Dagwood, or Wimpy (you absolutely must serve burgers at that party)!
Flip a few pages... ahhh, cakes! Normal white, chocolate, lemon... wait a sec.... What's that one? A Cape Canaveral decorated cake??!! Of course the birthday boy has to "count down" before blowing out the "spaceship" candle. No Space Shuttles back in 1963!
Having a teen party (or wingding-- their word, not mine)? Submarine sandwiches, potato chips, popcorn, and Soda-Fountain style drinks or sundaes. Yep, here are some true "soda-fountain" recipes. I'm gonna have to try a few of these this summer!
The next half of the book is dedicated to holiday entertaining... New years is an indoor burger BBQ and make your own ice cream sundae buffet. Valentine's Day is lots of strange pink molded gelatin stuff, and one cool idea- using a cookie cutter, cut a heart out of the center of a slice of white bread and a slice of wheat bread. Make the bottom half of a sandwich on a whole slice of bread, top with one of the breads with the center removed, fill center heart with cut-out from other bread type. Easy, but not too "cheesy"! Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are all varieties of traditional fare, with a few really odd side dishes. Halloween has the standard treat ideas, but the big difference is these home made sweets are what is handed out to the Trick-or-Treaters! Times sure have changed over the past 46 years... and not always in a good way.
The final few pages are devoted to ideas for Bridal and Baby showers, and the last page is something we don't see much of anymore... an Open House party. I remember my parents having these when I was little. I wonder why they have fallen "out of favor"?
I think there should be more house parties (aka Open houses) where adults can get together and meet one another in a casual, fun atmosphere. Maybe we would know our neighbors once again?
Anyone else think we should bring them back?
And...finally, the evening is getting too dark to read. I put the books down and enjoy the last bit of twilight while the lights of Helena begin to twinkle in the distance. A few more days in the 80's and the snow will be gone from the Elkhorn Mountains... there off in the distance beyond town.
The evening breeze is still a bit chilly, so I gather up my books and bid you all a good night.

Cookbooks from the past 80 years!

I just spent seven (yep, 7!) hours at my mothers house going through her entire cookbook collection. She is not able to cook as much as she used to, so she decided she wanted to only save a very select few and pass the rest on to me... then if there are ones I don't want, I am to pass them on to someone else. I came home with at least two-thirds of her collection! There are a few I don't think I will be using much, as they are from the 20's and 40's, but they are fun to look at.

The oldest one is from the Price Baking Powder Factory (Royal Baking Powder Company); copyright 1929. They spell 'cookie' as 'cooky' and 'coconut' as 'cocoanut'! Another fun note: the bottom of every page reads: All measurements are level. Four level teaspoons of baking powder about equal one heaping teaspoon as heretofore used. There is a section titled Suggestions For Invalids, too! Here is their advice to the feeding of the sick: Always prepare food for the sick in the most careful and attractive manner. In sickness the senses are unusually acute and far more susceptible to carelessness and mistakes in the preparation and serving of food than in health. Now, as for the recipes in this section... sick or not, I won't be eating them! LOL

Here is a photo of the book:

There were four cookbooks from the 1940's that mom parted with.
Spry was like Crisco. Here is their promo cookbook from 1942:

Here is a page out of the book- All about sending cookies to our service men. I guess some things never change:

There are these two:The right one is one (if not the first) Pillsbury cookbooks. It is actually sub-titled "Ann Pillsbury's Amazing Discovery". It is dated 1945.
The cookbook on the left was, I am guessing, is one that came with a very early electric stove, or was a promotional book given by the Niagara Hudson Power Corporation. The Introduction starts with: Electricity is so radiantly clean and wholesome that it is the ideal fuel to be associated with food. There is no date in the book, but I did find a receipt for a random purchase dated 12/31/1948 tucked in the pages... so I am guessing the book is from around that time, too. (I could be wrong.) Here is a photo of that receipt:

This Searchlight Recipe Book is dated 1949. It was compiled from 1000 questionnaires that were sent to readers of "Household". The recipes were submitted by the readers, then tested by The Household Searchlight, which from 1925 to 1942 was maintained for the study of home products under actual home conditions. The war necessitated closing The Searchlight in April, 1942. After that, all recipes appearing in "Household" carried the approval of the Household's Kitchen. I wonder if that was the beginning of the "Good Housekeeping" and their seal of approval?

These next two are both from 1953:

The one on the left is a church cookbook from Albuquerque, New Mexico. It gives a real look into the comfort foods of the time. The other one is another power company promo cookbook. This one is from the Los Angeles City-Owned Department of Water and Power. Times sure have changed! The introduction to this particular cookbook would NEVER get printed today. Here it is:

Once upon a time- and not so long ago- it was fashionable for all lovely ladies not to know how to cook or at least pretend not to know.

My! How times have changed!

Today a woman can look like a cream confection, but she's got to know how to make one too. Popularity in our modern times, is reserved for those who are good cooks as well as those with good looks!

It's easier than you think to claim your share of that special envy reserved for good cooks. With the way we've worked things out for you on the following pages, you'll be an expert cook in little more time than it takes to roll up your pin curls! If you read our instructions carefully and follow them as faithfully as your best beau follows you, what treasures will be yours to set before your King!

How is THAT for sexism? LOL!
I also brought home many more cookbooks from the 60's to the present. I am going to be spending many evenings looking through all of these! This is going to be FUN!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cookbooks circa 1953

A church cookbook and Los Angeles dept. Of water and power.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hey, Ya'll! Howa Been?

Things have been pretty good here. With the middle of May already here, the weather has finally decided to be more "spring-like" than "winter-like" after that last freaky record breaking storm that passed through the last week of April. Since then, the skies have been more friendly! A bit of blue sky and sunshine, followed by three or four days of mostly cloudy and some rain showers. Yeah... that is what spring is supposed to be like! We have had some pretty windy conditions, but I can deal with that!

Pansy's in planters along my front deck rail.

With the weather warming up a bit, I decided to tempt fate and buy some flowers for the planters that I like to have on my front deck. I bought a flat of Pansy's and a cool looking Daisy-like flower that has white petals and a pretty purple centers. While at the store, I saw a really nice looking tomato plant and a couple of strawberry plants. Now I was REALLY tempting fate as around here (Central Montana) the general rule of thumb is "If you plant before Memorial Day weekend, you have a high risk of freezing out". I am hoping I get lucky this year and we don't have a late-season freeze! My brand-new tomato plant has three blossoms on it, and the strawberries have flower buds forming.
My new tomato plant (back) and Daisy's with purple centers.

Hmmm, what else? Well, Mother's Day came and went without much fuss. I did go out to dinner with my mom on Saturday evening. Helena has a really great Chinese restaurant called The Jade Garden, and it is our families favorite place to go "out to eat". It was good, as always. Sunday, I caught a quick glimpse of Krystle as she was headed out of the house. Yep, I got a "Happy Mothers Day, Mom" from her. Joe and I went out to IHOP for breakfast. I wanted to try their strawberry stuffed french toast. Our food was cold... the coffee luke warm... No excuse, as they weren't busy yet! A very bad IHOP experience. Oh well! Joe left Helena for Great Falls by noon which left me home alone. It was a beautiful afternoon so I worked uninterrupted in my yard, shopped for the previously mentioned plants, plotted my veggie garden spot, crocheted a kitchen pot scrubbie, read some, played online a little, took a long hot shower, and went to bed late. It was a very good day! Heather did call me on Monday morning first thing to wish me a late Happy Mom's Day. She had spent her Mother's day out of cell phone range at a local lake. My feelings weren't hurt because she didn't call on Sunday. I had just talked to her on Saturday, so I really wasn't expecting a call. I did get a call from my ex-husband (the kids dad) wishing me a good day. I hope all you other Moms out there had a day as good to you and mine was to me!

Spring Plants: Tomato, Daisies, two small strawberry plants (to be re-planted in my garden once it is ready), two pansy plants that didn't fit into the rail-planters, and mint seeds (under plastic... my version of a mini-greenhouse).

Yep, that is 'bout it! Life is currently set on cruise control. That IS a good thing, once in a while. Today the sun is shining in and out of fluffy white clouds. The Air Force is out playing with their toys... those expensive fighter jet toys! I love to hear them flying above the city, and enjoy watching them whenever I get a chance. They remind me of the awesome country I live in, and the freedoms I am lucky to have!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oh No!....She DIDN"T!!

Ahh... the wonderful life of customer service!
Let me relate the latest and greatest phone conversation I had with a woman:

Me: Good Afternoon, Action Wireless!
She: Yeah.... Umm... I have a question.
Me: OK.
She: I bought a used phone from you not to long ago.
Me (she paused and was expecting a comment): OK.
She: I lost the battery cover thingy. Do you have one?
Me: What type of phone? (nearly all the callers think I am psychic.)
She: A piece of crap Motorola 551.
Me: Ok, we have the battery door. They are $10.
Me: Yes, ma'am. All of our battery doors are $10.
She: But it came off because the push-button thingy that keeps the cover in place is broken. It has been since I bought this piece of crap from your store. That is why I lost the back, because it kept falling off.
Me: When did you purchase the phone?
She: In January.
Me: It is now the end of April. The phone only has a 30 day warranty. Had you brought it in during those thirty days we would have fixed that problem for free. Now in order to fix the problem so you don't loose another battery door, we would have to charge you $10- $15, depending on what needs to be done to it.
She: SOooo (she is getting a bitchy tone here)-- You want me to pay $10 for a back, PLUS another $10 or $15 for repairs on a phone that I purchased defective from you in the first place?
Me (realizing I am dealing with someone who has the IQ of a mouse): Like I just said, had you brought it in during the 30 day warranty period, we would have fixed the problem for free. That is what the warranty is for.
She (All high and mighty... said in a haughty, condescending tone): I have spent alot of money in your store. This is the second phone I have bought from you. The first one just stopped working after a month and a half. Now, this one. Plus, I have purchased chargers that just stop working or fall apart. NOW you won't fix this issue for me?
Me: ( getting a tad irritated): We WILL fix it for $20-25 dollars. I am sorry you had such bad luck with your previous phone, and, just so you are aware, we do have a lifetime warranty on all of our chargers. If it hasn't been physically damaged, we will replace it for free, as long as you bring in the malfunctioning charger.
She: I know, I was told that.... but I never had my bad charger with me when I had to get a new one.
Me (after thinking to myself "if you knew the policy, and you didn't bring in the broken one, why are you bitching about how much money you HAD to spend?")-- trying to stay calm and reasonable: So, ma'am, you keep coming to our store even though you believe our products are crap?
She: (Angry) I DID NOT say your products are crap, and there is no reason for you to be getting all bitchy with me!!
Me (Breath deep.... Stay calm.....): Ma'am, you called your present phone a piece of crap, you blame us for the misfortune of your first purchase, AND you claim our chargers fall apart. Excuse me for getting a little irritated with you after you attacked our company and our integrity. No one made you, as you claim, "Spend alot of money" here, and you are free to take your money elsewhere. (OK. I didn't manage the Stay Calm part-- LOL)
She: Well you don't have to be a F***ing C**t!!!
Then she hung up on me!

I just stared at the phone for about two seconds, then burst out laughing! A bit shocked, because the only person who had ever called me that was my ex-husband during a few of the fights that preceded the divorce. Coming from a stranger, those words really didn't have the emotional impact that they would have had I actually known this lady. Lady is used very loosely in this context!

This was last week. I still don't know what set her off like that. Was she upset that I was not going to repair her phone for free because she didn't take the time to bring it in during warranty? Was she upset because I reminded her we live in a society where she could choose where she spends her money? Was she used to bully-ing her way into getting everything she wants?
I guess I'll never know.

I won't be loosing any sleep over it, either.