Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mother's manual... Manners 101


Now that you are out on your own, you are no longer under the protection of your family so there can be no more behaving like a child. There are grown-up rules for behavior and they are called manners.
Manners are social customs that identify a society and although customs differ greatly across the United States, there is a universal code of conduct that is acceptable everywhere. If you are acquainted with the rules, you will be able to handle any social situation whether it is a State Dinner in Washington D.C. or a biker bar in Odessa. The mark of a well mannered person is the positive impression they have left behind.
The simple rules listed below will enable you to travel through life with comfort and confidence, knowing you are behaving properly.

Attending a Gathering

1. Give respect to those who are older than you are. Considerations begin with the oldest and also include the weak, timid, or disabled. Scan the room when you enter and nod or smile at those deserving of recognition. If you choose to 'pay respects', do not interrupt. Wait to be acknowledged and make it short.

2. Learn to make 'small talk'. It is exactly that… bland and inoffensive and it is used in social situations. It is about the weather, the day, the food, the party or gathering. It is always positive, never critical.

3. Never mention sex, politics, religion, or make comments that may be considered rude, crude or vulgar. Stash the profanity.

4. Do not venture into intellectual areas you know nothing about. For example, do not instruct a group of bikers about the V-twin engine. They know. Do not talk to the med student about your Aunite's surgery either.

5. Never, never, leave a conversation abruptly. To suddenly turn and walk away in someone's mid-sentence is insulting.

6. Compliments are a must. Sometimes truthful sometimes not…it makes no difference. They make the recipient feel good and you will be remembered. Example: 'You look great', 'The food is delicious'. Save 'You look hot' for your own group.

7. Thank the people who invited you! Never leave without thanking all of them.

8. Lastly, do not over eat, over drink, or insult anyone.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mother's manual... advice for young people leaving home

Straightforward Advice From Mom... Dedicated to Young People Everywhere

As we all know, when the three little pigs left home two of them made disastrous, near fatal mistakes. This little manual is designed to help you avoid the pitfalls in life and achieve success.
With much Affection
Love, Mom
The first thing which happens when you leave home is that you must find a home of your own. When you decide to rent an apartment or house you need to know a few things about getting started.

1. The rent is not the only cost. Renting requires a deposit as a promise you will not trash the facility. You get this money back when you move out if you leave the facility in the same condition that it was when you first rented it. Check with the landlord before making drastic changes. Painting the living room purple without asking will definitely get your deposit revoked.

2. Utilities are Electricity, Water and Garbage, and Gas.

3. Utilities require a deposit before they turn on your service. They will require this amount when they begin processing your application for service. It may be a percentage of the monthly cost of the utilities used by past tenants. *Hopefully they didn't run the air conditioner in August with the doors open.

4. Utilities will also charge a connect fee. This charge will be on your first monthly bill so prepared for it to be higher the first month than you expected. Save some cash back for this surprise.

5. Pets will be a problem always. Try not to buy the darling puppy on impulse to save yourself the heartache of having to get rid of it. Goldfish are always acceptable.

6. If you rent a house in the winter ask the landlord who is expected to mow the lawn when summer arrives.

7. Hide a spare house key some place outside.

*When we moved into our first rental house the joy of our new home was overshadowed by the nightmare we saw as we switched on the light after dark. We'd moved to Joe's Apartment! The walls were literally crawling with millions of roaches. We slept in the car our first night then had to eat the cost of the exterminator ourselves. Make sure to ask the landlord about who is responsible for extermination, should the need arise.

THE KITCHEN…Plan on learning to cook
Not only is cooking sexy, it is cost efficient. Also the transfats in fast food places will kill you. Your refrigerator needs more than beer and ketchup so plan to keep supplies on hand. Rule of thumb is plan on $60 a week per person for buying food. Shop on the first and the 15th of the month because that's when they have sales at grocery stores. Don't go grocery shopping when you are hungry; you'll buy impulse items.

Outfitting your kitchen is easy and cheap; go to garage sales for a frying pan, two sizes of sauce pans, a roasting pan, and a cookie sheet. Silverware, plates, and mugs added will finish the list and should set you back about $10-15 for all of it. Save buying the expensive stuff for later.

Before you leave home, take a look at the workings of it. Note the supplies used and taken for granted everyday. Hand soap, shampoo, tooth paste, toilet paper. A broom and vaccume, sponges, dishwashing detergent, laundry detergent, Comet and so forth. These things cost money so save money for buying them.

You will need some tools to make repairs. A hammer, screwdrivers, and several sizes of nails. Cheap scissors, needles and black and white thread. The needles are for removing a splinter or sewing a button back on with the thread.

You will need medicinal supplies too. Alcohol is an antiseptic to clean a wound, antibiotic cream will kill what the alcohol hasn't so you need both. You need bandaids and Aspirin or Tylenol. Benedryl in case of an allergic attack. (ie: throat closing… 1 tablespoon liquid Benedryl will open it.) A thermometer for taking your temp will help evaluate degrees of illness.

Antibiotics are designed to help you body fight infection. They are not to be taken for headaches. Aspirin is to lower temperature, ease muscle pain and headaches. Tylenol is not as effective as Aspirin so take 1000 mgs. of it if you need to lower your temperature. If you are sick, give your body 3 days before running to the doctor. If you are getting better, not worse, after 3 days, you do not need to got to the doctor.

The difference in a virus and a bacterial infection is obvious. Clear phelm is not bad… probably allergies or at worst a cold, which is a virus. It takes 3 days of feeling punny to catch a cold, 3 days to have it and 3 days to recover and feel good again. Low fever can be present too; antibiotics won't help a virus.

Green phelm is bad, probably an infection needing antibiotics, especially if it lasts more than 3 days and gets worse. A flu lasts a full month of getting sick, being sick and finally feeling better. It has high temperature with it. You can spread the illness to your friends while you have the temp, so try not to cuddle. For everyday you had temperature, you are supposed to rest three. Rest means don't go to the gym and don't take a road trip. Sleep helps your body recover from being sick so go to bed early.

Now that you are out on your own you need to know about the Police. You are probably going to be gathering with friends to 'party' so you need to know the rules. The job of Police in many college towns is to arrest students to make money for the city. However there are a few simple rules to follow which will keep you safe. Remember any encounter with the police is very expensive.

1. The speed limit is exactly that. It is the limit, taken to the max, as high as you can go. Do not exceed it. They can give you a ticket if you are going 2 miles over it.

2. Do not ever run from the police in a car…ever. They have guns and are awfully nervous on a good day. If you run, they chase, their adrenalin begins to pump and they will hurt you, if not kill you.

3. Be respectful in any encounter with the police. They are just waiting for you to smart off so they can get rough with you and arrest you. They may just give you a ticket if you are respectful. Or they could search and destroy your car, handcuff and beat you and throw you in jail. Remember they get a lot of money every time they pick up a person and their main job is making money. Not saying "sir" to a cop can land you a resisting arrest charge.

4. If you are on a walk and hear a policeman say "stop", do it! If you don't they will shoot you.

5. Never drink and drive or ride with anyone who is…it is a one way ticket to jail and it will cost a bunch.

6. If you have gone to a club, with a designated driver, do not get out of the car if it is stopped by the police unless he tells you to. The driver must say to the policeman that he is sober, he is the driver and everyone else is drunk. If you get out, the minute your foot hits the ground you will be arrested for public drunk. Let the sober guy talk to them and keep quiet... very quiet.

7. If they come to your house and ask to come in, do not let them. Once they are invited in they can do anything including terrorizing you and tearing up your home. Ask for a warrant before letting them in.

8. Always contest any traffic tickets. If you simply send in the payment, it is considered a guilty plea (no contest) and will be reported to your insurance company. If you appear in court and say you do not agree with the policeman the judge may make you pay the ticket, but it goes on record you have not agreed you were speeding. It will not be reported to your insurance.

Stay Safe!

Monday, April 26, 2010


With the recent rains the wildflowers have begun a spectacular show this year and a drive along I-40 will provide a glimpse into the beauty of our naturalized countryside. By the early 1980's many recognized the need to preserve naturalized heirloom wild flowers. The Oklahoma Native Plant Society, established in 1986, is a group dedicated to preserving our unique collection of botanical specimens and donations to their efforts may be made through the state. The lovely red and yellow Indian Blanket, seen all along the countryside, is our state wildflower.

Fossil records indicate that flowers appeared quite suddenly about 80 to 90 million years ago and today they are the most abundant and diverse plants on the earth. Originally plants were generated from spore not seed so they were able to reproduce without the aid of pollination. With the emergence of seeds, the plants needed either wind, or birds, or bees to achieve fertilization. From this necessity arose the lovely and showy flower forms we see today; the flowers needed to allure the pollinators.

Egypt was involved very early in botanical exploration. Excavations of the Nile Valley have shown remains of 25 different plants including cattails dating over 17,000 years ago. Chemical analysis on ancient Egyptian fabrics indicates dyes extracted from plants were used as long ago as 1300 BC. Flower gardens are depicted in murals painted on the bedroom walls of the chambers of Amenhotop in 1380 BC while Ramses III reported importation of hundreds of plant specimens from the travels of his soldiers.

By 300 BC the Greeks were actively involved in describing and naming species of plants. The long and difficult botanical names come directly from them and the naming process continues today in respect for their efforts. By Medieval times, monks were largely in charge of botanical discovery but little progress was made in the Western world until the 1700's. European discoverers made their way across the planet and returned with specimens to present in court. By the 1800's there was a global excitement over the enormity of plant species and advancements were made to classify and learn the uses of them. Lewis and Clark carefully noted the wild flora while Charles Darwin collected plants which are included in his 'Origin of Species' published in 1859. Gregor Mendel introduced the science of genetics in 1866 and with it began the tracing of DNA.

Royal gardens were strictly formal and the interest in wildflowers was not great until the early 19th century when American and English gardeners began to note the appeal of 'natural' gardens growing freely. Gertrude Jeckyll (1843-1932) created over 400 gardens in Europe and America and her influence on wild flower gardening is to be commended. It is through her efforts in preserving 'flowering incidents' in woodland settings that we today recognize the importance and beauty of flowers growing in the wilderness. Take a drive and enjoy the beauty of the roadside!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Heirloom plants and Annuals

As time goes by, gardeners are becoming increasingly interested in establishing heirloom varieties within their flower plantings. Perhaps it is the nostalgia of remembering Grandmother's flower beds, or perhaps it is simply that one tires of keeping up with the latest trends. Whatever the reason, heirloom flowers are 'hot' this year.

Among the favorites is the ever faithful Hollyhock. Since its arrival from Asia several centuries ago, it has been a staple in both cottage and traditional gardens. A tall, sturdy plant, the charming Hollyhock has a place in every garden. The spires of climbing flowers come in a wide variety of colors which embrace deep purple, all of the pinks to yellow and creamy white. The large, deep green, fuzzy leaves first appear as rosettes and then open to become a pleasing heart shape. Hollyhocks bloom from June to September providing a summer of beautiful color at the back of the garden. Most bloom the second year better than the first so it is wise to cut back the plant in the fall while keeping a few inches of the stalk. The flowing year, leaves will emerge robustly in the early spring allowing for flowering to commence ahead of schedule.

An often overlooked plant that thrives in partial shade is Comfrey. Comfrey has been cultivated in the East since 400 BC as a healing herb. The word 'comfrey' is derived from the Latin meaning 'grow together' which reflects the early use of this lovely plant to aid in knitting broken bones. Both Greeks and Romans used it to stop heavy bleeding, treat bronchial problems, and heal wounds. Poultices were made for external wounds and a tea was consumed for internal ailments. Although the instructions for planting state it needs 'full sun' it will not live in our climate if planted in the sun. It needs filtered light making it a wonderful showy planting for semi-shady places in the garden.

It is time to plant the annuals. Lasting only one season, they are the fillers necessary for every garden. Experts recommend that an established garden have 70% perennials and 30% annuals, making annuals a very important addition. When purchasing them, buy the smaller six or eight packs instead of their larger more expensive counterparts. They will grow rapidly over several weeks to be the size of the larger plants and they will adapt easier to their new surroundings as youngsters. This year remember to purchase some Mexican Heather. Also called False Heather, it originated in Guatemala and Mexico and is quite drought tolerant and loves the sun. Planted in either a garden spot or a pot, it will grow quickly and bloom with tiny lavender flowers until frost. The butterflies love it!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lilacs, Viburnum, Aphids, and Lady bugs

The lovely Lilacs are in full bloom, wafting their aroma throughout the garden. Until seventy five years ago the world was primarily agrarian and with it came the natural odors of animal waste, poor sanitation, and stifling heat. Traditionally planted outside windows, the dependable and sweet-scented Lilac has been a favorite for hundreds of years. The lilac was the basis for colognes, aftershave, and bath oils; the flowers were dried and used for freshening linens. There is nothing quite as lovely as an extraordinary bouquet of freshly picked Lilacs to brighten the house.

Another early garden favorite is the marvelous Viburnum. Available in many forms and colors, perfect as a single specimen or gathered together in groups, the Viburnum is a necessary addition to any landscape. A member of the Honeysuckle family, the tree-like shrub is native to North America, Europe, and Asia, making it a naturalized global species. Their white or pink flowers appear in clusters as large as a tennis ball and deepen in color as they open. The flowers appear early in the spring before all of the dark and heavily ribbed leaves have matured completely, making them one of the first seasonal feasts for the bees. The scent is sweetly enchanting, almost delicious, as it wafts through the garden carried by the winds. When planting a new shrub, remember that the first year it sleeps, the second it creeps, and the third it will leap!

The aphids arrived last week, appearing in the surrounding wheat fields and the garden simultaneously; they seem unfazed by the cold. These nasty little green bugs suck the life out of vegetation which is exactly the reason they arrive this time of year when the garden is tender. If one is considering a natural solution to the problem of aphids, it is noteworthy to mention that the favorite food of the darling Ladybug happens to be aphids! A large order of 72,000 ravenous Ladybugs may be purchased at about $70.00. Last year our order arrived in two days suspended in cloth bag in small pallet of wood. Refrigerated until evening to keep them calm, at dusk we began sprinkling the dormant Ladybugs on the heavily infested plants. Initially they seemed lifeless but upon release they began moving…. and eating! Since each ladybug will eat 50 times her weight a day, the Aphids in our garden were eliminated without the use of harmful pesticides.

Some of our darlings took up permanent residency here and I see them hard at work this year. Sometimes money is well spent!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Black Currants

Easter Sunday was perhaps the finest Oklahoma has experienced in many years. From the gentle breezes to the temperature this year it was spectacular in every way. The early flowering shrubs added a scent that is unmistakably and magically spring-like.

The Black Currants are in full bloom sending their sweet scent throughout the countryside. The bright yellow, scarlet centered little flowers are dancing along the branches before becoming the changeling that is their fruit. Incredibly hardy, this North American gem is found in almost every locale regardless of soil conditions. The Black Currant likes early sun and is grateful for dappled shade in the afternoon making it a perfect companion for large orchard trees.

The small black fruit is an absolute plethora of health benefits and worthy cultivation for the Vitamin C content alone, which is four times the recommended daily dosage. Anyone who has ever become acquainted with black currants on the bush knows better than to eat while picking; the fruit is dreadfully tart. It is never eaten raw, but rather must made into jams, jellies, or sauces where it is sweetened to a distinctive delicious flavor. Black currant juice is often made into liqueurs and cordials to be used medicinally during winter months for the wonderful health benefits.

*All varieties of currants are rich in bioflavonoids that are thought to boost the antioxidant effect of vitamin C. They also help inhibit the growth of cancer and may possibly prevent other diseases.
*Black currant has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, they have the similar effect as of ibuprofen or aspirin.
*A powder made from dried black currant skin is used to treat dysentary, especially that caused by E-coli, a common cause of bacterial stomach ailments.
*Black currant juice, tea and syrup is use to ease the inflammation of a sore throat.
*Black currants help stimulate the digestive processes.
*Black currant seeds are rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Therefore it is beneficial in maintaining cardiovascular health and helps improve skin and hair texture.

The blessings provided by Nature spring forth naturally and in this case, in a lovely package that arrives sweetly in the earliest days of Spring with the promise of health. Try to add some currants to your diet this year!