Archive for April, 2013





Quoth The Raven Part II

Saturday, April 6th, 2013







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Note:

Don’t forget to leave comment to enter this month’s giveaway. This set of canning utensils is going to somebody’s home!! Better sign up before April 15th or you will miss out on your chance!


As you remember in part one, we had arrived at a log cabin from the late 1700′s, where we were to stay, and I was not a happy camper.


We unloaded the car, put Ellie in her crate and found our way to the retirement community to see my parents. Their home is lovely and the community is amazing. We were shocked to see this jewel in such a tiny town and I understood why my mom and dad had chosen this place to put down new roots. But this knowledge did not erase the heaviness that I was feeling.


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I dreaded heading back to the cabin, however, we finally did and I fell, exhausted into the twin bed nearest the floor lamp. The only way that we could turn that light off, was to unscrew the light bulbs, however, the rest of the lights and the lighted Christmas tree stayed on all night. I was too tired to care.


At one o’clock in the morning, Mr. Fix-It was frantically calling my name and I groggily asked what was wrong. “You have to get out of here and into the parlor. Take Ellie with you. We have wasps.” Finally awake, I could see wasps pinging back and forth against the ceiling, like in a pinball machine, and diving into the lighted table lamp across from my bed. Now, I must insert here that I am extremely allergic to wasps. I don’t just swell up like a balloon. No. My throat and tongue become alien objects, my hair tries to crawl off of my head, my ears and throat feel like I’m the fire eater on the circus side show and never mind the crazy heartbeat, the hives on hives have me imitating Job from the Bible. And I had no epi-pen. So, I vamoosed, in my PJs, to the parlor, fully aware that the people upstairs might come down at any moment to see what was going on.


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I could hear Mr. Fix-It slamming the wall with what turned out to be a 1991 copy of Better Homes and Gardens (yep – 1991) that was lying on the dresser. He killed a number of wasps and declared the coast was clear. I crawled back into bed. The next morning, Mr. Fix-It had me out of the room again and attacked another round of wasps with a vengeance. They were coming from a gap between the ceiling and the log wall next to my bed and seemed attracted by the heat (evidently the heat had not been turned on for awhile) as well as the light of the table lamp. My hubby decided that we would trade beds to put me on the far side of the room. He admitted that the mattress on his bed had a tendency to slide due to the unlevel bed and the slope of the floor and that he had nearly rolled off a couple of times during the night. Oh well. At least I would not be so close to all of the wasps. I could see that it was raining cats and dogs outside. It was Sunday and we were to go to church with my parents – in the pouring rain – and after getting little sleep. I was NOT in a good mood.


I had to fully dress in order to head to the bathroom to take a shower (didn’t want to embarrass our upstairs neighbors if they decided to appear). I turned on the little space heater and shivered as I started the water in the big, extra tall, clawfoot tub. It was then that I discovered that the door to the bathroom did not lock nor did it shut very well. I leaned against it and got it to close and then contemplated how I was going to crawl over the sides of that tub without killing myself or spraying water all over the room. It was one of those moments where you turn one way, then another, start to lift one foot, then the other and come close to freaking out in a feeling of total helplessness. I finally sat on the narrow, curved side and slid down into the tub, butt first, crawled to a kneeling position and then carefully pulled up to a standing position. The nice, warm, strong stream of water was a relief and I had a moment of bliss. That is…until I opened the curtain to a steamy room, reached for my towel, stepped out of the tub and suddenly realized that the door was standing wide open with a view of my glorious, dripping, gray headed body for all to see in the entry way! I dove to shut shut the door, grasping my towel with one hand and sat on the closed commode, laughing myself silly. I could hear Mr. Fix-It swatting more wasps. Our situation seemed utterly ridiculous. I figured that I would call the manager after church.


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And then we got to the church in the pouring rain. It was one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. Sparkling white siding with stained glass windows, a bell steeple and gabled roof – the scene was like a picture back from 1800’s Kentucky – with cars. Inside was bright and cheerful on that dreary day and everyone was so friendly. In one, short year, these people – and this church had people of all ages: children, young people, young marrieds, elderly – had embraced my parents and were excited to meet the daughter.


I was amazed at the quiet reverence of the sanctuary. People were not visiting. They were very quiet, reading scripture, praying perhaps, but all was very respectful. The minister gave the most amazing sermon and the music…oh the music…it was absolutely gorgeous. There was a tiny brass section, an organ, a piano and handbells. The instruments simply graced the singing with musical undertones while the voices of the congregation nearly blew the roof off of the building. At one point, the music minister stopped the instruments and the congregation sang, in parts mind you, a cappella, to a beautiful hymn. I had goosebumps. I have not heard that kind of singing in a very long time and teared up because it was so wonderful and moving. Two young people did a piece on the handbells and I was worn out just watching them. The whole experience was so worshipful that I realized that God had taken my focus off of myself and my feelings and had planted it squarely back on Him and His blessings. It was a turn around moment.


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Notice the wasp spray on the dresser?



After a grand lunch at my parents’, spent with them, my sister, and a cousin and her family whom I had not seen in years, I reported the wasp dilemma to the manager and she called the owner to remedy the situation. He showed up at our cabin room door and introduced himself. I was delighted to find him to be a fellow artist who was eager to share his craft with me and the history of the cabin with the two of us. We got a complete tour and he left us with a can of Hot Shot wasp spray and a fly swatter. Yep. He did. There was no other room available.


The next morning, I got up and made another stab at the shower, only this time I put my toiletry case in front of the door to hold it closed. I was grateful for the space heater because it was exceedingly cold and I even felt a little at home as I dressed for the day in that little room.


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When I trundled back to the bedroom, through the old parlor, Mr. Fix-It was grinning and told me to look out of the window. A heavy layer of snow covered the ground and the whole farm was a white wonderland. The cabins, with the Christmas candle lights in the windows, stood out against the glistening snow and I knew that I had to grab my camera. It snowed all day and night and all day the next day. It was beautiful. The cabin seemed warm and cozy when we returned from my parents’ home, in spite of the difficult front door and the wasps appearing every so often to be stunned with bug spray and then swatted. I felt transported back to Daniel Boone’s “Old Kaintuck”. We curled up with hot tea to watch a movie and then drifted off to sleep.


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We left that snowy, quiet little town around 1 pm the following day, a tearful good-bye to my parents who live so very far away from Oklahoma. But I came away with a peace that God has them in His right hand and that they are where they are happy, healthy, active and welcome. We met many lovely people, including the manager and the owner of the bed and breakfast, and I no longer feel like I will be visiting my parents in a strange place.


And I kind of miss that cabin!!



Happy Traveling!



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Quoth The Raven

Friday, April 5th, 2013







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Adventures In Traveling


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Note:

Don’t forget to leave comment to enter this month’s giveaway. This set of canning utensils is going to somebody’s home!! Better sign up before April 15th or you will miss out on your chance!


~~~



I figure that since most people are too busy for soap operas on tv anymore, but almost everybody sits at a computer, I would offer an Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ soap opera for your enjoyment. It’s too long a story to put into one post and so you will get two installments – one today and one tomorrow. Will there be a happy endng? Stay tuned for…da da da (that’s organ chords)…The Old And The Feckless!


Isn’t it funny how we get it into our heads how something is supposed to be, get all bent out of shape when it isn’t that way at all and then God provides a whole new direction that puts us all back together in contentment? I had that experience last week and I thought that I would share the adventure.


Mr. Fix-It and I took a trip – a long trip! It started out heading to Georgia where Mr. Fix-It did some training to remind him that computers, his life’s chosen vocation, never work the way that they were intended. He’s just not as technologically savvy as I am. I know that the squirrels running the machine are simply out looking for nuts. Anyway, I took the opportunity to visit my uncle for the first time since my aunt’s death in December. It was a wonderful visit with much laughter and ample reminiscing.


And then we went north to Kentucky. Now, Kentucky is beautiful and it is a wonderful state, but I was a little bummed about the trip to the place because we had to go through the mountainous part of East Tennessee where my parents had lived up until a year ago and where I grew up…and we didn’t stop…because my parents aren’t there anymore. I was sad. My mom and dad sold their house and had moved to a retirement community in a town in Kentucky that I had never heard of before and which was not ‘home’. When we got off of I-75 to wind our way to the town on narrow roads carved into the sides of huge bluffs (with no guard rails) and which narrowed down to one lane bridges in a number of places, I felt heavier and heavier. We were in the middle of nowhere and I was looking for the dueling banjos. “What were they thinking?” I asked myself.


It was nearly dark when we arrived in their tiny town…and I do mean tiny. There are no fast food restaurants, only one gas station, a Dollar General Store (nope – no WalMart) and one grocery store. I had made reservations at a bed and breakfast (one of several) where the manager was kind enough to allow our little Ellie dog to join us in our room. The manager had informed me over the phone that we would be staying in a log cabin where the owner had a cat and so a little, long-haired dachshund would be no problem. We stopped at the main home of the two-part B&B, met the manager and found out that the cabin, we would call home for several days, was outside of town. We were to follow her car to the location.


It felt like we drove forever, but that is always the case when one does not know where one is going. Off of a main highway, we came to a drive that led a long way down into a “holler” to a picture perfect sight of two, big, authentic Kentucky log cabins. I calculated their ages as it was revealed to us that they were built before Kentucky became a state. 1792 was that year – George Washington was president and Daniel Boone was a resident of the state! Wow.


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But my heart sank as we carefully navigated the flagstone walkway that just begged me to be my usual, accident-prone self and climbed the stairs to an uneven porch and to an old, front door. “Now you have to work really fast to get the front door to unlock,” we were told as the manager unlocked a single knob with no deadbolt lock. “Just shove the key in and turn quickly. If you are timid about it, you won’t get it to unlock. Oh, and be sure that you really jam the door shut and double check that it has closed.” There was a note taped to a door pane that ordered, “Please make sure the door is closed.” The obstinate door creaked open and we stepped into a dark entry way, lighted only by an old, opaque globe with a light inside, showing off the various countries of long ago.


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First, we were shown our bathroom. The door to the bathroom opened out into the dark entrance where any other guest would walk right past. I was relieved to find out that it was our personal bathroom, but the privacy was definitely wanting. Inside the bathroom was an old claw foot bathtub with circular curtain and old shower assembly. A tiny space heater provided the only heat. We then went into the parlor to the left of the bathroom and I felt like I had walked into an Edgar Allen Poe story. The boards of the floor (original) creaked and sank under the weight of our steps and ancient furniture, books and multiple stuffed animals were strategically placed around an old fireplace on a wall that was obviously uneven, old, painted plaster. Electric Christmas candles in the windows and a floor lamp in the corner offered dim lighting, and a large collection of crucifixes adorned the mantel and hearth. I was looking for the raven quoting, “Nevermore.” A narrow door of vertical boards, held together by a couple of cross boards and painted with enamel paint opened to a narrow set of stairs that led to the rooms upstairs which were occupied by another couple of visitors.


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The door to our room was the same type of door, but wider. It was a little lopsided so that there was a gap between the door frame and the top of the door when closed. The doorknob was the old, metal enamel type with no lock. When opened, the door revealed a large room with three chinked log walls and one plaster one, a set of twin beds on a floor that sloped enough to mess with your equilibrium and a very large, lighted Christmas tree in the corner.


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That tree, along with a floor lamp, a set of electric Christmas candles in the window, a dim table lamp and a collection of strange, lighted plaster art on the mantel of a huge fireplace, served as the lighting for the room. In other words, it felt like we would be living by kerosene lantern light. The bed that would be Mr. Fix-It’s had one leg leveled by a wooden block. There was a television. And there was a light switch on the wall, but we were cautioned that the light switch would turn off everything, including the space heater and it was cold!


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Because there were no electrical outlets, a maze of extension cords and spike bars crisscrossed the corners of the room and over the mantle. A large extension cord dangled from the mantel to be used for a space heater on the hearth. Mr. Fix-It surveyed the electrical nightmare with horror. I just looked around in dismay at the very weird room. By this point, I was really depressed…(and with that, I will leave this to be continued tomorrow!!)



Happy Traveling??!!



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Getting Down To Business: A New Give Away!

Monday, April 1st, 2013







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Nasty Ol’ Shipping

But There’s a Giveaway!



Everything is back to normal. We’re back to work and all WAS going well until the big press died. Now, it is lying in pieces, looking like a destroyed robot from Star Wars. Mr. Fix-It is doing the surgery but a thermonuclear discombobulator is needed and the only one that could be found must be ordered from…where else?…China. Actually, it is called a heat resistor thingy. Evidently, it’s an important thingy, too. Ah, technology!


We have had a number of emails just recently, dealing with the subject of shipping. Personally, shipping is the bane of my existence. I wish that we could ship everything to everyone for free. But alas, I don’t do the lottery and haven’t won any millions so we can’t afford to give away the farm. Shipping expense is a reality with which Creating Concepts, Enterprises must deal. And on top of everything, unfortunately for all of us, shipping costs have gone up. We do not use UPS or FedEx because their charges for the size shipments we send out are ridiculous. In fact, their charge can be as much as $15 over what the US Postal Service charges us. And so, we use the US Postal Service Priority method almost exclusively. For international orders, First Class is used. First Class packaging is not available for the states. Everything is done by weight and for online orders, PayPal does its best to estimate as close as possible to accurate shipping charges. Sometimes, it misses the boat and nearly always it goes against us rather than the customer. In fact, we were rather sick awhile back when an order to Australia was estimated at $11 by PayPal and the actual shipping cost us $22.50. Not good. The fact is, shipping is high. Phone orders are more of an exact science for us because as soon as an order is processed and ready to ship, the customer credit card is charged with the exact amount on the shipping label. If you plan to order, doing so with a credit card by phone at 405-275-5639 will be the most accurate route.


I, personally, feel badly when someone is unhappy with a shipping cost that they perceive is too high. A larger Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ or multiple pastry cloths can be heavy and so cost more to ship. The mixes add up in weight as well. It doesn’t matter what box or bubble mailer is used, the weight is still the same, the location is assessed and the price goes up accordingly. Our Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ is made of a heavy weight cotton, unlike the cheaper, lighter brands, so that it will last for years and years. It is not meant to be a throw away item but is meant to be a family treasure.


So hopefully, this will better explain our shipping policy. I understand the groan of financial agony when a customer sees that shipping charge. It seems too high. But in order to use the US Postal Service, we have to pay the price – their price. We appreciate your understanding.


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It’s time for another giveaway! And this is no April Fools joke. Since canning season is just around the corner, we are giving away a nice set of canning tools ready to be used! Starting today, leave a comment on any of the blog posts and you will be entered. If you have never posted at the blog before, don’t worry if your comment does not show up immediately. New posts must be approved by the moderator and then your post can be seen. The drawing will be two weeks from now on April the 15th – TAX DAY! Yayyyy. Good luck to everybody!!



Happy Entering!



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MB
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