Monday, September 30, 2013

To replant or not to replant ...

Marlene Terry
It's the last day of September. And fall, at least where I live, is really in the air.
We've now harvested the last of our garden. ... Nothing left growing in it all, after deciding not to replant.
... You know. That's the process when "never say die" gardeners re-cultivate and reseed things like carrots and peas in hopes that there will be enough warm growing time left for them to germinate, grow and develop into ... a second crop, of course.
In fact, when we looked into it, we were told that second crop carrots can be left in the ground, protected from above by just a bale of straw for example, and dug up, fresh and tasty through the entire winter.

When we first investigated that possibility, we were determined to do just that. But after months of watering, weeding and working in the extreme HOT temperatures of this past summer ... we decided to tuck in our garden, so to speak, and let it rest 'til spring. 
... Which is exactly what WE'RE about to do, too ... stretched out in our recliners in front of the fireplace, with a good book in hand.

Hope you'll enjoy an end of the harvest recipe passed on to me by a friend through the social media for a Spaghetti Squash Casserole.
... I tried it a few days ago and it's not only easy, it's also low in calories, high in fiber and  DELICIOUS!


1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) 1 percent cottage cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons seasoned dry bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13" x 9" baking dish and a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place the squash, cut side down, on the sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. With a fork, scrape the squash strands into a large bowl. Keep the shells for serving.
Meanwhile, warm the oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and basil. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the tomatoes. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture is dry.
To the bowl with the squash strands, add the cottage cheese, mozzarella, parsley, salt, and the onion mixture. Stir to mix. Fill the squash shells with the mixture and top with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Place the filled shells on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly and heated through. ... YUM!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Kind, patient and very careful ...

Marlene Terry
Breezing through some interesting web sites, I came on the photo of an old work horse I'm sharing today.

Ever wondered what that term "work horse" means?

Long ago it referred to horses that were bred for heavy tasks, such as pulling plows and moving big loads atop wagons used for farm labor, logging, etc.  
Today the purpose of the work horse remains much the same, but now it's mostly for show, competition and entertainment.
All work horse breeds also share the common traits of strength, patience and having a docile, long-suffering temperament.
... I know this for sure because of Blanche, the old work horse that lived at my grandpa's farm.

Blanche was a big horse. Actually when I first met her she was HUGE. Standing next to her when I was 5 years old, was like looking up at the highest mountain on the earth. ... Scary to say the least.

"You want to ride her," I remember Grandpa asking that first day.
"No thanks," I yelled, happy to run away to the safety of the blacksmith shop.

My easy going grandpa didn't push or force me to become an equestrian. He was content to let it happen when and if I wanted it to. So I spent hours watching the old horse and getting to know her. She, stalwart and dependable, worked her heart out for my granddad
Blanche never once balked at any task. Even as a  child, I could see the fatigue in her face and how her legs, unsteady at the end of the day, would strain to continue the work. But she wouldn't stop ... not as long as she was needed.

My first experience atop old Blanche also included my sister.
There we were, two little girls, with me in front as the driver and my sis in back, sitting on an animal as big as an elephant with only reins for control.
Granddad said we didn't need a saddle. More importantly he told us we didn't need to be afraid. Because Blanche understood what was told to her and he (Grandpa) had instructed her to be kind, patient and very careful with his granddaughters.

"Give her a kick," Grandpa said gesturing to me. And away we went, not running or galloping, but plodding along at the pace of a snail, slowly and carefully.

"Hey this is fun," I yelled turning to see who was watching as we proceeded up a steep incline.
... That's when I noticed that with each heavy step the horse was taking, my sister was slipping ever closer to Blanche's back end

Ker plunk!

With the horse's last jump to clear a small ditch in our path, off went my sis ... hard onto the ground, ending up between Blanche's humongous hind feet.

The horse stopped immediately. And in spite of the fact that there was one screaming, flailing child below her and another inexperienced rider, who'd dropped the reins in a hurry and was grabbing and kicking all the way as I descended from the seat on top, Blanche remained steadfast and stationary.
... That is she remained stationary until Grandpa arrived at the scene, petted her, told her what a good horse she was, and then took the reins and slowly guided her from the scene.

... As I said, kind, patient and very careful ... thank goodness!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The gopd ocd diys ...

Marlene Terry

It was fun watching the Seahawks vs 49ers game going on in Seattle while chatting with my daughter the other night.
... Not that she was sitting next to me. She, at her home in Washington and me at mine in Idaho, were chatting courtesy of the "texting" ability provided on our cell phones.

"Wow," her message lit up the screen on my phone. "The Hawks are awesome. We're going to the Super Bowl."

"Yure prpbavly rifht," I texted back.

... Speaking about my ability to text ... I'm always thankful  that no matter how amateurish my thoughts are transferred, my kids and friends always seem to be able to decipher the hieroglyphics and make sense of what I'm trying to say.

Never thought I would sound like an old-timer. You know, those grouchy senior citizens who seem to complain about everything that's new and out of their comfort zone.
In fact, I used to laugh at and make fun of my mother-in-law, who  began telling us in her late 70s that we better not gift her with any of those "new-fangled contraptions." Because, as she'd say, she was NEVER going to use them anyway!

Back then that kind of statement  just didn't make any sense to me. Because I couldn't wait to see what technology would offer. ... And I absolutely loved setting up, installing, and programming whatever.
... But that was then, when I could see clearly for a mile, hear a pin drop at the other end of the house, remember every single phone message that came in during the day without ever writing down any information, and life in general really did seem like "a piece of cake."

Now here it comes ... proof that I have officially entered the ranks of some of those "grouchy senior citizens."
I really don't like that phones aren't just for calling someone, anymore.
You know, punching in or dialing a simple phone number so you can talk in a real voice, to a live person on the other end of the line?
These days you have to use a magnifying glass and your thumbs of-all-things in order to type in what you want to say on a teeny tiny keyboard, so tiny you can never hope to see the letters, and send it as a single message. ... Or my favorite thing to COMPLAIN about ... you can send it as a multimedia message to several people, and for me, some you don't even know, and hope for a response.

... Just one more complaint. 

To be in the main stream, you need to learn texting language as well ... acronyms or phone shorthand.
For instance: 10Q is "thank you"; LOL?  "Laugh out loud." And CUsn is "see you soon!"

And all I have to say about that is: "Gove me bsck the gopd ocd diys!" (... Translation not available!)

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A bounteous harvest ...

Marlene Terry
I'm sharing with a friend today, what will probably be some of the last tomatoes and cucumbers that we get this year from our little garden in the backyard.
... And it's been a blast.

Not that I have a green thumb. But what I lack in verified gardening skills, I make up for with an honest to goodness love of what those skills produce.

Ever hear of someone who absolutely loves the way freshly cultivated soil smells?
That's me ... something my granddad taught me to appreciate during the days I spent with him out in the fields on his farm.
And I really did think, back then, that when I grew up, a farmer was what I'd become.

The truth is however, it's my hubby who, determined and steady, spends most of his spring and summer mornings and evenings, planting, watering and weeding.
Of course, I assist. And I love being out there, in the fresh air and appreciating the miracle of growing things. ... I also don't mind sharing in the credit, when the praises come from grateful neighbors and friends who are absolutely thrilled that we have a garden and there's plenty for everyone.

In a few more days it will be time. And then we'll be busy removing the plants that are done with the process of providing things like "green beans cooked slow with bacon for dinner"(yum), and delicious fresh, juicy tomatoes for slicing, salads and eating right out of the garden.

We'll carefully take the butternut and spaghetti squash from their vines  and store them along with the last of our onions in a box in the garage ... a sweet reminder of the summer and why we need to look forward to the next one.

And yes. I already know that you can purchase all of that at the local grocery store, and as a friend recently told me recently, "cheaper at times and without all the sweat and labor, too."
... That is, you can purchase everything except ... the sun shining on your face as you toil, worry and rejoice over those plants, the sound of wind chimes and the birds singing in the trees near the garden, the feeling of success in a job well done, and the smiles on the faces of those you share your bounteous harvest with. 

... Those things ... are priceless!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Change ...

Marlene Terry
Knowing when it's time for things to change and then finding the courage to make it happen is a BIG deal.
Take me for instance. I try very hard to proceed at the same pace and manner no matter how many years go by and how many people tell me I need to make adjustments.

It was like the time I broke to pieces, a  little kitchen cart I'd purchased at a local store.
I was determined to lift the box into my trunk myself. ... After all, I've always been able to do things like that.
First try ... "I just didn't have a good hold on it," I said to myself as it slipped from my hands.
Second try ... " My hands are sweaty. That's why I can't lift it high enough." ... and  "The shopping cart is in the way." ... CRASH!
... The  rest is history.

The truth is most of us are in denial about what life does to us. And we spend a lot of time and energy trying to stay ahead of it.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm all for trying and trying hard. But in spite of our resolve not to, don't we all grow older and become not as strong physically and with weakening abilities?
The process is normal and happens to everyone. But when we give it our best efforts and it suddenly stops us in our tracks ... what then?

I've always admired my little sis. Her most amazing trait? OPTIMISM!
I capitalized every letter in that happy word on purpose. Because it's the only way I can accurately describe how she lives her life.

From the time she was stricken with polio at the age of 3, she's been a true example of faith, courage and love to all who know her.
She's a wonderful mother, grandmother, sister and friend, who never fails to bring gratitude for what she has into the picture. 
She always puts the happiness of others ahead of her own, not as a sacrifice but just because it's the way we need to be. And she remembers and makes very special, every event and day that's important to those she loves the most.

... She's also a widow, and is now fighting the effects of post polio syndrome, most times relying on a wheel chair to "take her on her adventures," she says laughing. And until just a few days ago, she was the sweet and reliable caretaker for her physically and mentally challenged son.

When he was born the prognosis for Ryan's condition was not good. We were told by doctors that most children with hydrocephalus, never live to see their teen years.
... But with the extreme care and love he received from his family — the one that he's been an active, vital part of in every way — he just recently celebrated his 37th birthday.

"It was my decision," my sister told me when I questioned her after hearing the news that Ryan is now a welcome, and permanent resident at the home of his sister and her hubby.
"He's my boy and of course, I still want to take care of him," Sis continued. "But I physically just can't do for him what he needs. His quality of life will be much better there.
.... "Besides, Erin loves him and he knows that."

Needless to say there are no miracles involved and no happy ending to this story. ... ... Well maybe that's not exactly true.

The miracle is seeing wonderful people doing the right thing even when it means putting their comfort and pride last and the welfare of someone else first.
...  And the "happy ending?" For those involved it might seem to be down the road a ways. ... But with that attitude of love and determination no matter what, I'm sure in time ... that will come too!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Monday, September 23, 2013

ARRIBA!!! ...

Marlene Terry
KLUTZ /klets/ noun, informal 
1. a clumsy, awkward of foolish person.
2. A person who is never without a scrape or bruise, always finding  ways to trip, bump into things and people. 
... And on occasion, a klutz will also partially knock themselves out by walking into walls, doorways, and corners or cabinets and desks.
Synonyms: stumblebum, butterfingers, spaz.

Yep! That's me. ... All of it. And I've been a victim of "klutzism, stumblebumness and the spaz syndrome for ... as long as I can remember.

I mean how else would you describe a mature, full grown woman, who regularly puts out a step stool in front of the pantry door in order to reach the top shelves, forgets all about it and then trips over it when she brings in the groceries from the car, causing the contents of the sacks to spew onto the hard, tile floor ... scattering, opening and breaking?

It's the story of my life.

I can also fall off my shoes, high heels of course, but don't forget flats, sneakers and even sandals.
Like the time that I, carrying just one very small carry-on bag at a very busy airport, turned my ankle, and performed an awkward arms flailing, running pirouette trying to remain balanced and upright. 
The effort failed. And in the process, I also knocked over a newspaper stand ... and one very frightened, unsuspecting elderly passenger.

It's difficult to explain especially to those closest to you. ... Those who have no choice but to stand by you and defend you even in the embarrassment of seeing you spread eagle on a floor, emerging from a bathroom at a very public place with the back of your skirt neatly tucked into the top of your pantyhose, or supporting "tongue-in-cheek" your desire to "ZUMBA" dance your way to fitness ... in the kitchen of-all-places.

... And you can believe me when I say, when you're a klutz, there's nothing that will cause you to propel yourself into an open cabinet door, jam it into the wall, and split it completely in half faster, than the strong beats of that wonderful Latin music! 

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at

Friday, September 20, 2013

The same ... multiplied ...

Marlene Terry
Not all memories are good.
Sometimes things that embarrass you to tears, make you want to fall into a hole and disappear and those that make you sick to your stomach to think about, are etched forever in your mind only to be resurrected when a comment or action brings them up close and personal once again.

Take a Facebook post I read a day ago.

A friend of mine was upset that her sweet little daughter was miserable after being made fun of for several days by some mean boys at school.
For her daughter, it was her cute new, short haircut that was responsible for the chiding. For me, when I was about the same age, it was the fact that I was chubby, homely and not at all the most popular kid on the block.

My two best friends were considered the same. And we formed a bond in order to ward off the affect of jokes and the unkind treatment by, ESPECIALLY, the boys in our class.

It was always a day in the spring, that I and my friends would ask permission from our parents to walk home from school instead of riding the bus.

Our school was out in a lovely green valley filled with farms and ranches. So many of our classmates were farm kids. And at first look would have been considered the "salt of the earth" hardworking type of preteens.
Most were. But there were a few ... bullies, who found joy in picking on and making miserable those who really just wanted to be left alone. ... Me!

On one of those warm, spring days, Albert ... I won't mention his last name, although I DO remember it, and his image in EVERY detail ...  rode his horse to school. A corral/pasture was maintained there for use by just such kids.

I and my friends were about half way home, when the sound of horses hooves coming towards us got our attention.
We knew what was coming. It had happened before. And we took off running as fast as we could, hoping to find a place where we could disappear for a moment and let Albert pass by.

Of course he was looking for us. It was uncanny that he always knew when we, the poor unsuspecting NERDS, were walking home.
He'd leave school when we did. But first he'd take the time to collect in a bucket, the fresh horse droppings left during the day in the pasture.
Then he'd ball up the poop with his bare hands (makes me sick to think about it) and when he found us he'd use those balls to pelt us, unmercifully.

Here's the part where I can pause and say to my friend and her daughter with certainty, "Don't despair!"
One day those who make misery for others will be visited upon with the same ... exponentially!

I only say that because, how else could you explain what happened that day?
With his stinky bucket in hand and gaining on us atop his horse, Albert, had no time to prepare. Suddenly and out of nowhere a large snake appeared, spooking the horse, that then rared up, bucked and dumped Albert off ... HARD!

... And his bucket? ... Spewed ALL of its contents LIBERALLY and in every place imaginable ... on the sobbing dumpee!

As I said ... the same multiplied ... ... exponentially!

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

For obvious reasons ...

Marlene Terry
Got a kick out of the message on the license plates of a car I was following the other day.
“HOTTHNG” (hot  thing) was the statement. And I found myself wondering if the name referred to the car … a 1950s really long reddish Pontiac with the still visible flames painted on the sides ... or the driver … a 1950s former teenager with no visible tracings of any kind that I could see.

I honked my horn and gave the old guy a thumbs up as I passed him by. And I could tell he appreciated the gesture and knew exactly what I was referring to.

It was the thing to do in my generation.
Kids, mostly boys, would deck out whatever old car they could afford, and would name them ... something ominous. Names weren’t printed on license plates back then. But everyone knew the name of the car and who the driver was and respected them both.

The tradition reemerged in our own family when our kids started growing up and needed transportation.

Now you have to understand that it became a standard joke at our house, that “Dad” had a knack for finding the oldest, most embarrassing vehicles around… which he purchased, one at a time for whatever child was in need.
… The purchase was then followed by a naming ceremony, that included an inspection of the car in question, with all of us jotting down its most pathetic features. The process ended with a family vote on which name the car would be known by for the rest of its days.

Take our very big white Oldsmobile for example. It came to visit and stayed for years, much to the chagrin of our teenage sons.

The interior was indescribable except to say that no red velvet could have been left in inventory in any factory in the U.S. the year the Olds was manufactured.
Plush and bright, you nearly had to wear sunglasses to be able to sit inside.
… Its name?
 “The Velvet Road Mama.”

A little later a bluish, sometimes working ancient Chevy frequently "sparked" conversation when the tailpipe would come loose and bounce up and down on the roadway. That, along with the sight of its mismatched wheel covers made “Lola Big Hubs,” the talk of the town at our kids’ high school.

As our children grew up and left home, some of those old cars went with them and continued to serve them through college, dating, marriage and even until, as they say, “the wheels fell off.”

True to tradition however, even though other vehicles have replaced those old friends, nowadays there's a “Loretta” parked at the home of our country girl daughter, a “Buck” a 4-wheel drive pickup that takes my "great white hunter" hubby to adventures in the hills of course, and a bright red minivan with a spoiler, of-all-things.

… That last one was recently christened “Electra,” soon after two adorable grandchildren forced our youngest daughter and her hubby to trade in their "we're a young, cool couple with a very sporty, black and beautiful, SUV known as 'The Black Pearl,' in favor of a ... “family car!” 

… Hey. Could be worse. Our first "family car" was named “The Barf-mobile" ... for every obvious reason!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Water Woman

Marlene Terry
A wide, deep irrigation ditch ran adjacent to the driveway by the house I grew up in. And my mom, as any other mother would, worried about how to keep her three little girls not only from falling in, but staying completely away from it too.

That ditch absolutely mesmerized me. There was just something wonderful about the sparkling water that ran down it, the dandelions that grew on the banks and bloomed brighter and bigger than any other flower/weed in the world, and the dragon flies and tiny frogs that played in and out of it.

"How treacherous could it be," I thought.

The truth is whenever I disobeyed and went near that ditch ... I was in it. Not by choice, but because of the slippery, steep edges enticing me to come closer and closer for a better look.
... No matter how carefully I proceeded, it wouldn't be long before my feet would slip out from under me and ... well, you get the idea.

It also never failed that when one of those involuntary dunkings took place, I would be terrified that this time the "Water Woman" WOULD FOR SURE catch me with her "long jagged teeth," and drag me deeper, ... where I would then be imprisoned and turn into a scaly, slimy, icky catfish ... with whiskers.

That graphic tale scared me to death and began shortly after my mother created a brand new sock bag for me and my sisters to use.

Don't hear about sock bags much nowadays. But back then, it was a necessity, what without the countless drawers and dressers of modern day homes.
It was just as it sounds, a handmade  fabric bag that hung in the closet and held socks.
For fashion sake, many were created to look like a corset, for instance, an animal of some sort or in our case "A SOLEMN, GLARING, WOMAN WITH BLACK HAIR" and no arms. ... Her open mouth was where we deposited our socks.

She was a scary sight right from the start. But what made her even more terrifying was the story Mom told us about the bag being made in the image of the Water Women.

"The Water Woman lives in the ditch in the summer," she would say with drama and emphasis, "and waits for children to fall in so she can GRAB THEM with her long, jagged teeth and drag them to where it's REALLY deep, etc., etc., etc.!"

... In my mother's defense, the "being imprisoned and turning into catfish," part of the story, was our (me and my sisters) contribution to the tale. 
But the whole of it kept us sockless for most of the summer, and very wary, careful and hesitant to go anywhere near the ditch.
... Still makes me shudder to think about it!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The sooner the better ...

Marlene Terry
Let me be the first ... this year ... to remind you that Christmas is just 98 days away.
And if that announcement didn't make you recoil in disgust, curse at the prospect or turn off your computer in rebellion ... then you're still reading. ... And I can add, if you're planning to handcraft any gifts for loved ones, it's time to get started.

I know, I know. Many are uncomfortable and squirm with the thought that Christmas creeps up like it does. That it's become too commercialized. We spend too much money. And we've forgotten the true meaning of the day that we now celebrate, it seems, for months before it arrives.

It used to be that businesses didn't display decorations and potential gifts until AFTER Thanksgiving. ... But now?
Just the other day (early in September) I watched as two huge semi-trucks pulled in near the freight receiving area at the store where I work. ... They were parked there for hours while those responsible unloaded what appeared to be (gulp) a warehouse full of Christmas items.
... Suffice it to say that our once almost empty freight room is now stacked to the ceiling with things needed to make merry in a few weeks.

Now if you're thinking that this is when I'm going to join in and complain about how inappropriate and awful all of that is ... you're wrong. Because the truth is, I love Christmas, the sooner the better, and anytime during the year. 

I love seeing the change in people as Christmas approaches, the  sacrifices made to be able to give, give, and give, ... not just monetarily but of themselves and to everyone.
I'm always thrilled to see the lights go up. ... Santa with his sleigh on roofs, stars on tree tops, snowmen and nativities on lawns ... happy, twinkling, reverent.

"Merry Christmas" greetings ... from friends, the cashier at the grocery store ... complete strangers.
Words of a favorite carol being sung by groups in the street, on TV or my radio on my way to work through falling snow.
A fire crackling in the fireplace, the laughter and excited happy voices of children on Christmas morning ... heartwarming, fun, memorable.

Christmas cards from family and friends that help us to remember who we love, how much we love and why. 
Treats made and eaten just once a year ... and CHRISTMAS MOVIES!!
I have 25 in my collection. ... One for every day beginning Dec. 1, with my favorite, George C. Scott in Dickens' The Christmas Carol ... humbling, thoughtful, emotional.

For all these wonderful reasons and a lot more, I say bring Christmas on ... the sooner the better and all year long.

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at

Monday, September 16, 2013

A living ghost town ...

Marlene Terry
With cooler weather arriving in the Treasure Valley I'm feeling the effects of wanderlust. You know those times when distant hills and valleys seem to beckon for us to abandon our normal routine, come explore and soak in the atmosphere.

A fun and easy weekend ride in the early fall a few years ago took us 6,000 feet straight up into the craggy Owyhees to an honest-to-goodness living ghost town.

In 1864, Silver City was beginning to boom. The recent discovery of silver at War Eagle Mountain had quickly brought thousands of hopeful prospectors to work there.
Then, over 75 businesses served the needs of residents. Now, those who still live there are few, and most, the modern day members of generations of the same families that once mined there.

I have to admit the feeling at Silver City took my breath away. The sight of old decaying buildings located next to those that had been restored and are still viable, was unnerving at the very least. ... It was as if those who dwelt there long ago were still walking the dirt streets, mumbling about their hardships and still hoping to find the Mother Lode.

Some of those early dwellers are still there for sure, resting in peace, at various burial sites. And it was interesting to see gravestones of all types, from the elaborate and well carved to the simple markers provided by simple folks.

One especially rough and primitive stone bore the name of Simon Harris.
Here's the story behind the stone as told to me by wonderful friends Jim and Mary Bledsoe.

Simon Harris, was one of Silver City’s most colorful characters, who came to the city for one reason ... to make his fortune.
Back then, with the prime objective being to work hard every day until you made a strike, Silver City celebrated just two holidays, Christmas and the Fourth of July.
The July celebration was the most important to miners. So important that they, and especially Simon Harris, gladly gave up their working hours to participate in the town's annual drill contest.

The object of the contest?

To drill a hole through a large stone faster than anyone else could. It was a sign of superiority to win. And Simon was one of the top dogs in the contest many times.

When Simon Harris died, his wife being of limited means, persuaded some of the men in town to move one of Simon's drill stones to the Silver City Cemetery. There it would placed to mark her husband's grave ... an appropriate representation of his life and times.
However, halfway to the destination, which was up hill all the way, the men abandoned the project, deeming the stone much too heavy to move any further.

Their solution?

The stone was cut in half right there, leaving part of it beside the roadway where it remains today. The men continued on with the other half to the cemetery.

So if you ever have the chance to visit Silver City, make the trip up the hill and look for that roughly split stone at Simon's grave site.
It's easy to locate. It's the one that's very simply inscribed so as not to intrude on drill holes made by a Silver City miner ... over a century ago.

... And I ask you. How cool is that?

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Use it or lose it ...

Marlene Terry
Learned the age-old lesson of "use it or lose it," when I decided it was a great time to return to a skill I "used" years ago, nearly every day. ... And my little part-time job egged me on.
After all how could I demonstrate, teach new owner classes and sell sewing machines if I was "a little rusty" ... and I use the term loosely ... about the machines' functions or in other words, how they worked?

Thought it would be a "piece of cake." That is until I sat down at one of the new models and was expected to make it go, produce amazing stitches and convince prospective customers that they couldn't live without one.

First challenge: Where in the - - - - is the presser foot lever?

Remember the days when all you had to do was reach in back of where the needle was located and lift up a lever?
Nowadays, at least in the more expensive models, it's a computer program for everything. Really!

Touch the presser foot icon and the foot descends or ascends in one of four positions ... low, lower, high and higher.  
Actually you don't have to worry about lowering the presser foot at all. Just step on the foot control (thankfully, that part isn't much different than I remember), the foot snaps down into position and the sewing begins.
... Or  there's the hands only alternative to a foot control. 
Press the stop/go icon, the presser foot lowers and the machine takes off without doing anything else.
... The most important thing to remember with this is, you just need to press the same button to STOP THE MACHINE.

... My first try at that particular function had me screaming and an unsuspecting customer who I was demonstrating to, rattled and ducking out of sight when the fast moving process, sucked in my tiny piece of demo fabric at the speed of light.

... Don't know what my customer was thinking when we hit the floor together after my scream signaled we'd better do SOMETHING. ... But for me, it was just an attempt to get out of the way in case the machine tried to suck us in as well!
Needless to say the experience provided plenty of commotion and laughter for us and for those who had gathered to see what all the noise was about.  ... However there was NO sale!

Lessons learned:
No. 5: Things have changed in the past 20 years.
No. 4: Reading through instructions before operating modern day machines is a good idea.
No. 3: Floors that are hard as well as dirty, are for walking on and not great places to go for protection.
No. 2: Screaming when you're not sure how to control a situation doesn't help.
... And NO. 1: "Use it or Lose it" means you must practice a skill often, or someday you might wake up and ... Poof! It'll be gone!
♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Extraordinary validation ...

Marlene Terry

It happened while I was cleaning out what I call my "junk drawer" in the kitchen.
Besides extra batteries, miscellaneous tools, scraps of paper with phone numbers written on them (junk), it’s where I also keep souvenirs. … You know, memorabilia from trips, family remembrances and other things, that although you’re just not sure what to with them, you just HAVE to keep them somewhere.

Included in that drawer is my flattened penny collection. I never take a trip that if there’s a flattened penny machine available, I’m not the first to use it.
I still get a kick out of watching the process that, for just a few quarters, will not only flatten a penny but also engraves an image and labels it ... validation that, because you were there and visited whatever landmark is nearby, you're special.

I’m also partial to those motion pens that advertise in much the same way. Take my Oregon Trail pen, for instance.
The most enticing feature is being able to watch the covered wagon, sealed inside the top of the pen and floating in some kind of fluid, move at a snail’s pace down the trail it’s on. … Tip the pen the other way and the wagon travels in reverse.

Over the years friends, my children, and other acquaintances have added to my pen collection. And as I cleaned and arranged the drawer that day, the faces of those who’d gifted each one came to mind ... along with the circumstances of the gift.

Underneath, and nearly hidden by a sandwich bag full of paper clips, a notepad and aforementioned additions of various kinds, was a dark blue see-thru pen. And when it came to view, it not only stopped the cleaning process, but had me wiping away the tears.

My youngest daughter was about 9 years old when she gave it to me.
On a shopping excursion to town with her best friend and her friend’s mom, she suddenly felt the urge to purchase it.

Now mind you, it’s just a blue pen, no lights like some of my others, floating wagons or anything at all extraordinary.
... That is there's nothing extraordinary until you hear the rest of the story.

The gift came a few days following my return to the work force. I'd been a stay-at-home mom for years and it was my first experience working as a journalist for a little local newspaper. I was thrilled to have the chance to write. But I was also worried about my kids and how they would feel about me being gone from home.

Suddenly the door burst opened and those two happy little girls ran into  the house, smiling, and chatting about the fun time they’d had.

On their way down the hall, my youngest suddenly stopped dead in her tracks, turned around and came running back to me.
“This is for you to use on your job, Mom,” she said handing me the little brown sack that contained the pen.

Puzzled by the gift, her friend inquired. “A pen? ... What is it that your mom does?"

If I live to be a thousand years old I’ll never forget the look on my daughter’s face as she stood there, hands on her hips, in one of those “I can’t believe you don’t know this already,” poses.

“She’s a reporter,” Mary said matter-of-factly.

“A reporter?” Her friend asked, still puzzled.

“Yeah! You know. Like Superman and Lois Lane. ... Mom's,” she continued pointing at me with an ear to ear smile … "Lois Lane!"

... Extraordinary validation, if I do say so myself!

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at