Tuesday, January 28, 2020

In 1971 my mother gave me a United States stamp book for Christmas. It probably came with a batch of stamps and she had some in an older stamp book. I happily licked the little stamp hinges after I found the correct page with the little black and white picture of the stamp.

When new stamps came out at the post office I was allowed to get one. You could also purchase stamps in the mail via approval books sent by stamp companies. I well remember picking stamps out and send back coins in the return envelope. Once I got a letter telling me not to do that. Later I was given a World album.

The US and foreign stamps taught me a lot about history, geography, and other cultures. As a kid the foreign stamp book and National Geographic maps provided hours of entertainment. I wonder whether kids today know what a simple pleasure that is.

Stamp collecting is one of those dying hobbies I suppose. That did not stop me from purchasing a set of very expensive albums to put my collection in. They have plastic holders for the stamps and have a very neat appearance. I spent the last week or so transferring stamps into the album, sorting the stamps I have, finding the correct placement. I went on Ebay and purchased a couple of things. I'd like to complete the affordable stamps (no way can I afford the ones that are hundreds or thousands of dollars each!).

The books have places for stamps from 1847 to 1984.

I know, exciting, right? But it makes me happy and reminds me of my mother, always encouraging me to learn.

1971 commemoratives. The four at the bottom have always been one of my favorites.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

I have nine bird plates hanging from the picture rail in my study. I have found them in various thrift stores. Pheasants, quails, and some shore birds.

Birds on the picture rail.

A few weeks ago I got up early and went to an estate sale and saw a pile of bird plates, but they wanted either $60 or $70 for them, and I instead purchased five transferprinted dishes instead.

Yesterday Addison, who knows I like bird and fish plates, sent me a message alerting me that there were these bird plates at a thrift store. I looked at the picture and recognized the pile from the estate sale. The thrift store was asking $2 a plate and $7 for the platter. I drove over this morning and was glad to see they were still there. Someone honked in the parking lot at me, and it was Addison who had come to get them for me.


I don't know!

Another quail.

The complete set, click on picture for a larger view.

I had to order more picture rail hooks and plate holders so I can hang them up. I think I have enough bird plates now.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Milk. Lots of people drinking soy milk or nut milk. It isn't really milk, not sure why manufacturers are allowed to call it that. It is also not particularly healthy either, since it is often loaded with sugar. 

Anyways, I still buy a gallon of milk (usually 2 percent, sometimes skim) at Safeway about once a week. Currently at about $2.19 a gallon. Not surprising that so many dairies are going bankrupt.

When I was a child we were poor and mother bought that nasty dry milk in a box and mixed it up. Horrible taste. Grandpa and Grandma lived next door and they had real milk and sometimes we would get a glass. Grandma was a firm believer in Carnation Instant Breakfast, packed with vitamins, and had a glass every morning. Sometimes we would get to have a glass, I liked the chocolate malt packet the best. Grandma had those long bendy straws and after drinking our Carnation Instant Breakfast, we would carefully wash the straw out so it could be used again. Grandma also bought Space Sticks and Tang, because that is what astronauts used and so they must be good for you. The Space Sticks kind of had a plastic taste, and the sugar in Tang would settle at the bottom so you had to remix it occasionally. Tang came in orange, but also in grape and grapefruit. I probably did not have real orange juice until I went to university.

Eventually the family finances improved enough so that mother could buy real milk and she would do halves, half dry and half real. Still tasted nasty. Every morning I would pour it into my cereal. This is back when cereal boxes had plastic toys and I can still remember sticking my little hand down into the box to fish them out. I still have some of the Winnie the Pooh spoon sitters that came out of the cereal box.

Back in 1973 my father came home from truck driving and discovered a 4-SALE sign in the 10 acre field down the hill from our house. This was the piece of land that his father (actually step-father) had promised to him. Father went down to his mother's house, across North Long Lake Road and down a couple of houses, and asked her why she was putting it up for sale. She said something like, "Promises don't mean anything." She was a real nasty bitch, paranoid, vengeful, mean. Back in 1940 when she was divorcing her first husband, my father's father, the friend of the court report noted that she was starving my father, that he was malnourished. In 1973 Uncle Tom was busy divorcing his wife and my parents were asked under oath if our aunt was a good mother and they said yes. Grandma never forgave them for that and even though she lived three houses down North Long Lake Road from nice Grandma, I never saw her again. She died in 1989 and I felt nothing for the lousy bitch.

Anyways, my father could not stand to see the land that he was promised developed for housing and he was tired of being a long-haul trucker so the parents decided to become dairy farmers. They purchased an 80-acre farm for $46,000 near Buckley and we moved there in January 1974. Father continued to drive truck so mother, Bub, and I became dairy farmers.

Cows and equipment were gradually purchased. My father often bought cows because he felt sorry for the owners. My favorite cow was Dorothy, who had horns, a chain with a pendant with 4 on it, and a very droopy udder. She eventually would have two calves, Patsy and Little Dorothy. Here I am showing Little Dorothy at the fair. She was the only cow in her category and kicked the judge, so I ended up with a B ribbon.

Homer and Little Dorothy, circa 1976.

Gradually things improved, we were actually making some money, despite my father's often stupid business decisions. But then the Buckley oil boom happened and oil wells appeared all over the place. However, my parents had not bought the mineral rights with the farm, so no chance for them to participate in the purchasing frenzy the neighbors were undergoing, buying new tractors, equipment, RVs.

So father had a mid-life crisis and moved us north to the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie. Another stupid mistake, it was too cold and the cows didn't produce the same amount of milk.  Reagan cut the milk subsidies and the amount my parents got paid for their bulk tank full of milk drastically declined. The land was red clay and impossible to grow corn or other grains. It was a nightmare of my father screaming at mother, Bub, and I. We could never do anything right. One time he threw a hammer at me and Bub. Another time a tractor was stuck in the red clay and he wanted me to pull it out and I couldn't. He screamed and screamed at me. I grew to hate him. You only remember the bad things when that is all there is to remember, right?

He wanted me to be a dairy farmer too, part of the control thing passed down from his mother. I wanted to be an archaeologist. I won. He lost. Towards the end of his life he admitted that I had made the right decision.

They still manufacture Tang and Carnation Breakfast Essentials, but I am not tempted to purchase either. The doctor wants me to drink skim milk with my bowl of cereal. It is so bland. But I guess I had better because I am plump and I have clothes that I cannot fit into. Bub is now an Amish man and sometimes helps out his neighbors, who have dairy cattle. People are interested in raw milk and small dairy farm milk, free from the growth hormones that some of the big dairies use. I have no desire to ever milk a cow again, but last summer I did enjoy petting the calves.

Friday, January 10, 2020

I always take an end of year selfie. So here it is.

Goodbye 2019.

Many things are happening in 2020. I attended the January 8th Memorial Ceremony in the 1929 Pima County Courthouse courtyard. Back in 1992 I dug trenches in the courtyard and found the eastern Presidio wall, as well as many other things. I am just finishing up the work on the other side of the courthouse, where the Memorial will be constructed.


Mike stopped by to visit. He is sporting a bunch of staples in his head. Ouch! Ruby was ecstatic to see her number one boyfriend (Matt is number 2, I am number 3).

Mike and Ruby.

It is supposed to be cold today, so she is wearing her blue hoodie.


At work I see coyotes and a bobcat walk by my window frequently. Shortly after taking this photo, the bobcat decided to come around to the front of the building and wanted to go into the kitchen for a snack. Rob told it to go someplace else.


I headed north to Marana to visit Robert last Sunday. Twinkle Toes (AKS Pickles), Taco, and Odie all wanted to sit on my lap at the same time. Taco is Ruby's number .5 boyfriend. When he comes to visit she wants sexy time with him (they are both altered).

Pickles, Taco, and Odie.

My front yard orange tree and my Meyer lemon tree are loaded with fruit. Over at the Presidio Museum the last of the quince have fallen from the tree. I gathered them up and have made two batches of quince preserves. I have also made orange marmalade and lemon curd. Some of this will go over to the Presidio tomorrow and be used for Living History.

Orange marmalade, Meyer lemon curd, and quince preserved.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Holiday has come and gone. My artificial flocked tree was so pretty with the bright little lights and the antique and some modern ornaments. See below.

New ornament- Krampus.

The plastic Santa has been in my family for over 50 years. Originally, he had candy in his sack.

Big Santa head is one of my favorites.

I had my Cookie Decorating party on the 22nd, later than normal. I made about 8 or 9 dozen sugar and gingerbread cookies.

Also many bags of frosting.

I made veggie chili, cornbread, sweet chex mix, fruitcake, and a lemon bundt cake. Not shown, the punch bowl with Martha Stewart's eggnog (used half the alcohol).


Birdy decorated the dining room nicely.

Red tree with white ornaments.

1830s secretary with bottle brush trees and plastic garland.

Many cookies were decorated.

Chris, Rich, Jane, Addison, and Kate at work.

Despite the frosting being just a little runny, many lovely cookies were decorated.


My house was well decked out. It was a nice party.


Holiday morning Santa Matt gave me a painting, a set of Smokey the Bear stamps from 1984, and a Smokey the Bear jeep. He got a quail egg photo from his favorite photographer and a vintage cactus lamp.

Santa Matt and Homer.

It was a nice holiday season, for a while I was able to overlook all of the cruddy things happening in the world.

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