Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookie Time

This picture says it all. This weekend the Blume kitchen was once again the site of the "Family Christmas Cookie Bake". The one big difference this year was that Little Saffron took Aunt Summer's place at the counter. Decked out in her new Lands' End apron, Saffie stepped right up and tried her hand at decorating but soon found out that tasting was a much more rewarding job. Her Mom, Jeanna, still recuperating from the ordeal, has passed on the task of posting an account of the day. I won't even attempt to equal the cleverness of Jeanna's posts, where she tags Saffie's words and thoughts onto the photos, so I'll just pop in a few pics with my own observations.

"Saffie reporting for kitchen duty!"

"Let's start with a traditional apron dance!"

"This isn't so tough 'cept these cookies keep getting in the way."

"It is so easy, I let Mom, Dad and Grandpa it a try."

"Hey this stuff is good without cookies!"

"Hey! This is Good Eatin'!"

"I can't stand and eat so I'm gettin' out of the kitchen."

"Let's see if I can get back at those cookies with my new Teddy Bear disguise."

"Foiled again. It's hard to fool Grandma Jo!"

No cute caption. I just like the picture.

Gotta run. I think I know where Jo hid the cookies and fudge!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tis The Season

Wow, it's been almost a month since last post. I have no real excuse for not posting sooner but I can make up a number of reasons. One big one, Christmas! Every year there is the normal holiday hustle around here as JoAnne transforms into the Merry Madwoman, a December Decorating Demonette. In keeping with our "decluttering" attempts the amount of Christmas decorations have been cut to a minimum. Early in the decorating process it was evident that things weren't going quite as planned. Last year we totted in ten totes of festive fixtures. I don't know what goes on out in that garage during those warm summer months but, this year we toted in thirteen totes full of peace and joy. And! Nowhere in those totes could be found a Christmas tree. That has a special place of honor in a corner of the garage. It's a large "prelit" spruce from a forest of factories somewhere in Taiwan. The bad news, of the over one thousand clear lights, only about fifty lit. Now, in our home, the decorating season was the incubating place for marital discontent (really big arguments). "The" tree was originally purchased to alleviate some of the tension and served it's purpose well (well, for a few years). But now it became a potential fuse set to go off at any minute. A quick trip to our "Helpful Hardware Man", a purchase of several hundred strings of lights, which were in place before Jo Frost got home from work, did the trick and warded off a potential "Bah Humbug" evening in Santa's village. Once the tree is properly lit I recede into the woodwork (or my computer laboratory) to attack the second most important segment of "The Season", namely, The Seasonal Inquirer, the Blume family Christmas newsletter. For most people this isn't a big deal they simply write about what happened to their family during the past year and end it with a pleasant seasonal greeting. Not too tough? But around here it's a major project. I've designed annual reports and entire advertising campaigns that caused less stress and strain, less research and development than this little missive. During the course of the year, both Jo and I have exclaimed, "remember that for the Inquirer" only to completely forget what was so memorable. Because of the complexity of the project, Jo usually sets a deadline for me. That way it seems more like a job and not like a pleasurable endeavor. All I can say is, "it's done!". I won't go into all of the Hardware, Software, Computer, and Printer obstacles that, literally, attacked me threw me to the ground and pushed me to edge of the desktop publishing abyss although it did involve working on two computers, utilizing out dated Quark and PhotoShop programs, unacceptable fonts and a couple of reluctant printers. The real capper to this tale is that while addressing the envelopes, folding the Inquirer and signing the cards, Jo discovered that more than half of the cards she bought involved a recipe card that she hadn't planned for. Hopefully "Helpful Hardware Man" can come to the recue one more time. (Don't expect a recipe in our card to you)
The house is decorated, packages wrapped, the cards and out-of-town gifts are on their way to the Post Office and only a few more cookies need baking. With a foot of snow on the ground and temperatures hanging around the zero mark, It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!".
All these little snags and hardships seem so small when we consider that thirty years ago this week, JoAnne was diagnosed with breast cancer, operated on and spent the Christmas holiday recovering. This Saturday the joy in our home is the celebration of thirty years of JoAnne being cancer free. I'm sure that when Tiny Tim said, "God bless us all" we were included as part of the "us" because we have certainly been blessed over the years.
No pictures this post. If you want to get a look at our "Winter Wonderland" just drop by. Tours leave the front door every three minutes. (Admission free)
For a little chuckle check out Saffie's last two posts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To..

37 years ago today, equipped with a Rolls Royce limo on loan from a friend, a new 3-piece suit, a couple of gold rings (created by another friend) and accompanied by my best friend, a beautiful young lady attired in a dress sewn with love by still another friend, I stepped onto the Northwestern University campus to begin my pursuit of higher education. And what an education it turned out to be. I attended classes in parenting, patience, humility, sorrow, forgiveness, repentance, the value of friendship and, above all, love. I learned to endure bad times as well as good times. My professors were many, they came from every direction, from different walks of life and probably never realized the roles that they were playing in my life, and, that beautiful young lady put the class into classmate. She not only shared those 37 years of "education", but guided me through them. She was my tutor, companion, lover, inspiration and best buddy. She helped me pass my tough tests while she aced some really tough ones her own. When I stood in that little chapel on the NU campus I put my first 37 years behind me and started fresh. Now, I have another 37 years behind me as I look forward the next semester.
Every Thanksgiving I have another year of marriage to be thankful for, thanks to the friends, family and that beautiful young lady in the homemade dress who helped make it possible !

Thanks Jo! I love you.

On the trail to many more happy years!

Friday, November 20, 2009


This time I have a reasonable excuse for not posting in a long while.
Last Friday my Mom passed away. It was a sad time and a happy time. For the past few years her quality of life wasn't the most enjoyable. The time that wasn't spent sitting in a wheelchair was spent lying in a bed. In spite of her physical confinement, her mind was as free and active as that of a twenty year old. The world came to her by way of the many books that she read. Mostly cheerful, seldom complaining she had a way of brightening up otherwise deary times. As our family sat around this weekend discussing remembrances of our life with her, it seemed like the only memories were happy ones and we ended up spending most of the time laughing. I think if she could have planned her own wake that's the way she would have liked to be. My Mom's real strengths were her patience and her sense of humor. An example of both of these traits was the fact that she has been an avid Cub fan for 97 years. (And as Derek put it, never saw them win a World Series) I'd like to think that some of her patience rubbed off on me. After all I taught her to drive when she was 40 years old. This was a real lesson in patience as well as a realization that I probably should never take up teaching as a profession seeing as how she had an accident during her driving test. The written one. (Only kidding, it was the driving part) I could go on for paragraphs with little stories about Mom after all, there are 97 years of them. So, here's to Mom. She survived open heart surgery, cancer and 74 years of me. Now that's one tough lady.
Bye Mom, catch you on the flip side!

My baby sister, Mary, Mom and I.
(Mom's the one in the middle)

Sharing some humorous remembrance from the past.

Mom always would work her way over to the window to wave
a pleasant goodbye to anyone who came to visit her.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nice Talkin' to Ya!

I've been sitting here waiting for something to happen that would prompt a really great post. Ain't happnin'!
This has been a funny year although it hasn't been very funny. It's been a nice year but a little short on the spectacular type of year we usually experience. I'm starting to get worried about putting together my hopefully hilarious Holiday Enquirer. We took two vacations and they were nice. We visited with friends and family. The visits were nice. I took a bunch of pictures (nice ones) but nothing outstanding. Still waiting to come across my "Photo Of The Year" (POTY). Recently my son Rick flew in from California for a nice visit, we celebrated Jo's Mom's birthday with a nice party attended by all of her nice children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren, and just last week, we had a nice time watching Saffron have a nice adventurous Halloween.
On the BIG news side, I did buy a nice new monitor to go along with my nice new computing machine. It's big! (at least for me it is) Looking back on the days using a borrowed Mac SE with about a nine inch screen this twenty two incher seems like CinemaScope.
Here are a few nice pictures to view while I wait for inspiration to strike.

Here is one determined little bee
getting ready to hit the pavement in search of treats!

"Here's my bag! Fill'er up!"

Trick or Treatin' on Abbey Lane. Where's Paul?

The Old Mac SE30

(Big monitor on Something that starts with C)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's About Time!

Just as the period of time between posts has flown by, so has the time since my boyhood buddy, Jay Urban, and I ventured into the world of art. In the summer of 1953 two recent high school graduates hopped on a bus in search of fame and fortune. Their ride took them from the far, far northwest side of Chicago to the wonders of "Downtown". With the help of a kind "older" lady (she was probably in her forties) at the Artist Guild of Chicago, Jay and I got jobs as apprentices at real live professional art studios. Now, more than fifty years later, we're both retired. Jay resides in Richmond, Illinois and I'm in Fennimore, Wisconsin, both a far cry from the hustle and bustle of "Downtown". Our noontime strolls up and down "The Magnificent Mile" have become hikes in the woods and drives down rustic roads. Even though, over the years we've drifted apart geographically, we both retained our passion for things of beauty, flowers and forests, birds and animals and a deep seated love of "cool" cars. (I think that if you gathered together the cars that we owned over the years, you would have quite valuable collection) As I look back, I realize that that bus in 1953 really took us on the "ride" of our lives. It brought us into a fifty year fantasy and it hasn't reached the "end of the line" yet. Thanks to the "Electronic Age" we stay in touch with email. Almost daily Jay sends me one of his artistic creations usually accompanied by a poem written by a friend of his. The one he sent today is what prompted me post this little essay. He summed up his career over that fifty year span in these words and pictures.

In case the text isn't legible, it says,
"fifty year evolution began with the simplicity of graphite pencils... next came a palette of soft pastel chalks... then on to vibrant magic markers... and progressing to the digital wizardry of camera and mouse... all lovingly caressed by this humble hand through a lifetime of artistic expression.
And there's more to come"!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Americana Found

After hemming (Or is it himming? Or is it hyming?) and hawing for almost 2 weeks, I decided it was time to quit "H"ing around and post something about the rest of the trip. I promised to continue the account of our Eastern adventure, but I realized that it really wasn't that much of an adventure. Actually it was more of a nice relaxing look back at our country's history. It was also a realization that we either didn't pay attention to or just plain forgot our High School American History classes. We stayed in Williamsburg, visited Jamestown, Yorktown, Tom Jefferson's place at Monticello, Shenandoah National Park were JoAnne took a short hike on the Appalachian Trail, toured a couple of old plantation homes, spent a day acting like tourists in DC, sailed on a "Tall Ship", ate at an old Colonial Tavern and even had time to get together with one of Jo's friends who lives in the DC area for dinner and "catch up gab". We also spent part of a day with some old friends of mine from "the old days" (more catch up gab) and on the way home, we stopped in Ohio for a cook out at Jo's nephew's home, where her brother Don and his wife Susanne joined us (still more catch up gab). In short, we kept moving and gabbing. None of them varmint Red Coats or Johnny Rebs were gonna git an easy shot at us. We really didn't encounter any really funny or weird occurrences or people. Although there were a few things of interest (other than all the historical and scenic stuff). JoAnne discovered the Yankee Candle Company retail store. Men! If ever you are faced with the possibility of entering such an establishment, run! Find some excuse to remain in the parking lot. Change the oil, rotate the tires on your car and any others parked around you. Just imagine a building about the size of a Home Depot filled with every scent known to women and beasts of the forest. Not only does each aroma exude its own d'stink smell but it takes on the odoriferous characteristics the billions of other candles that surround it. As the scents add up so do the cents (and dollars) add up and up and up. The real down side of this is, after the missus buys several thousands of dollars worth of candles and accessories, and these candles with their variety of aromas will enter your car and, guess what, you have to ride more than a thousand miles with them to get home. (Gag me with a taper) Come on by, I'll give a ride in my Honda Potpourri sedan. Another thing that got my attention was the time change. We spent more than a week in the Eastern Time Zone. Now, us guys from the Midwest are fully aware of EST because as we carefully maneuver our remotes to scan TV channels searching the enticing promos that list the time of shows in Eastern time and only allude to us. (i.e 9pm - 8 Central) I thought it only effected TV shows and the difference was just one hour. But nooooo! It involves something a lot more urgent than a Sienfeld rerun, especially to us Wisconsonians (or ites), Friday Nite Fish Fries. Much to my horror I came upon a sign advertising a "Saturday" night fish fry. I tried to locate someone in authority to find out what was going on. (This was the main reason to travel to DC) Unfortunately both my Congressman and the Prez were out of town. (Probably trying to catch the Wednesday Fish Fry in in another time zone) The only answer I could come up with was that it took at least a day to fly in some really good frying fish from Wisconsin. And finally, the really scary event of our 3 thousand mile odyssey. As we drove through the Shenandoah National Park there was a loud "bang" on the roof of our car. We had passed a number of "Falling Rocks" warning areas so naturally the first thought that came to mind was that we were hit by a foul ball from the Great American Ballpark. A few miles later there was another "bang" this time it was an indirect hit on our sideview mirror and we caught a glimpse of the object which turned out to be a walnut or acorn from the trees above. There was no damage to the car and apparently very little damage to any nuts. Anyway, we're home safe and sound, Jo's back working and grandmothering while I'm back at the computing machine editing pictures from the trip and keeping a wary eye to the sky for UFO (Unidentified Falling Objects). I did realize that the photos we shot are pretty much the same as anyone can find in most travelogues of the Eastern Seaboard so if you have a yearning to see what we saw, Google Virginia and I'll finish up my thousand words.
But, if you are interested, we will be having a showing of our photographs Saturday afternoon at 4pm -3 Central.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In Search of Americana

I'm finally getting around to posting the first account of our recent trip (into the past). As we were heading off to visit the cradle of our great nation we were sidelined (or foal lined) by the first of many historical cradles. This one being the birthplace of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional baseball team. The Reds, as they are now called, began their existence in 1869 followed the next year 1870 by a team from Chicago which would become the beloved losers, Da Cubs! There are a lot of similarities between the two clubs AND, a lot of differences. First, they both have had their "dynasty" years. The Reds more recently than the Cubs. And, they both had a dismal showing in the 2009 season. The Reds play in a relatively new ballyard (2003), the Cubs in a venerable museum, Wrigley Field, since 1916. The Reds averaged 21,579 fans a game, the Cubs 39,610 in spite of the fact that at the Great American Ballpark you can get a comfortable, $19 reserved seat in the bleachers which is toweled off by an usher while at the "venerable" Ivy-covered Wrigley an usher waves his hand in the general direction of Peoria while you push and shove to claim a general admission seat on a hard bench for a mere $40. (No wonder they have such poor attendance) Just to make us feel at home, the Reds did manage to blow a lead and lose the game in the final innings.
Just imagine, only one day into our vacation and already we're steeped in American History.

Jumping ahead a little, we did manage to push and shove our way onto a hard $40 bench to watch the Cubs lose their final game of the season last Sunday.

Baseball fan, history buff Jo tries to get
directions to our seats from historical figure.

The crowd at The Great American Ballpark
enjoying their $19 comfortable reserved seats.

The pushing, shoving, hard bench sitting fans at Wrigley.

Next installment - Back to Nature!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Off to see the Wizard

As soon as the "kid" gets home from work we'll be loading up the final cargo containers of supplies for the trip over to that East Coast. I've beefed up the suspension and pumped up the tires to accommodate the excess weight. We'll be gone a little over a week but we have enough clothing, food and photo equipment to last the Osmond family through the winter. I hope to write down some of the weirder thoughts that run through my sick mind as I cruise the highways. And, I'm going to try posting a pictorial accounting of the more interesting sights encountered along the way. With the help of my new computing machine I may learn how to link a photo album to my blog. As far as seeing the Wizard goes, we do plan on touring DC, which I'm told, is the new OZ. When you stop and think about it there is a guy there that has a striking resemblance to a flying monkey. (must be the ears) Sorry, no irreverence meant. Well I've got to run. Gotta finish attaching the "WIDE LOAD" sign to the Honda. See y'all in a couple of weeks.

"So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu
adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Old Dog - New Tricks?

Hey! I've got a reason for the big delay in posting a new Blog. I got a new computing machine and it's a lot smarter than me (or is it I?). The good news is that it's a LOT faster, and has a LOT more features. The bad news is that it doesn't have some of the OLD features that I grew to rely on. Features like PhotoShop. My OLD version is so OLD (how old is it?). It's so OLD that if you try to install it on the new machine, the machine spits it out, puckers up the monitor and makes derogatory comments about my momma! I feel handicapped not being able to fool around with pics for my Blog. I'm going to try and get by with what I've got until I can come up with the $47,000,000 for a PhotoShop upgrade. Some of the software on the new electronic box is really cool. In fact I am already getting started with my "learn to play the guitar and piano" lessons. Unfortunately I don't have a piano or a guitar. But, if I can get by without PhotoShop, how hard can it be?
Other big family advancements are, the Arkansas branch of the Blumes (Harrison, "Harry" and Jr, "Veronica") has entered the cyber age. So a new line of communication has opened up between the scattered family. And, in spite of his mother's fears, Harrison has started playing football. With the games, practices and the computer, "Harry" should be a pretty busy guy. Up in the northernmost reaches of the clan, Sally and Uncas (Summer and Reid) have added a feature to the Sally and Uncas" Blog. It's Baby Nimz (Nimzlet) count down. Sally started back to school this week so her short retirement has come to an abrupt end. Over here in Southwest Wis we're preparing for yet another adventure. Come Thursday, we're off to Williamburg, Virginia.
This will be a driving, touring, visiting and eating week or ten days of complete disregard for schedules and deadlines. Although, I'm sure, we take photos by the thousands, I promise that I'll only bore you with a few hundred of them. And, if I can work out some kind of PhotoShop thing, some will be fairly entertaining.
If I don't have a chance to post before we go, see ya later!

"Football Harry",
the terror of Mountain Home. Arkansas.

Mom shows future mom the finer points of
"Al Fresco" infant dining.

"It's a lot easier to hose off a messy kid outdoors.

Progress report on my guitar lessons.
It looks easier in the pictures where a guy actually uses a guitar.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Birthday Baby

It's hard to believe that Saffie is already a year old. She sure has packed a lot of activity into her first year. She has her own blog, wandered the woods of Minnesota and the streets of Chicago, coexisted with two puppies, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles (and greatgrandmas), learned to eat, walk and talk unintelligibly and attended more Cub's games than her grandpa. On Saturday, Grandma and Grandpa Jones hosted Saffie's first birthday party. In true female fashion, she immediately took to one of the gifts, a shopping cart. As the pictures below indicate, cake eating is one of her strong points.

I didn't take long for Saffie to find out
what birthday cakes are all about . . .

"OK, pass the cake already!"

"At last. My own Saffie size cake."

"Am I doing this right? After all this is my first time."

"By Jove I think I've got it!"

"Now that's what I call a Happy Birthday!"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


No, this isn't a blog about the horror of putting ketchup on hot dogs. After noticing on Sally's blog that I haven't posted in two weeks, I decided that it was time to "Catch Up" on the news of the past two weeks. Speaking of Hot Dogs, which are closely related to baseball, I have a large white flag with a large blue "W" on it for sale. It's hardly been used (this season) and would make a great gift (if turned upside down) for any Brett Favre fan over in Vikingland.
Meanwhile, let's take a stroll back two weeks. After fully recovering from my "Work" stint, I was ready to "partee" (as much as any 86 year old can "partee"). Sally (Summer) came down from "The Cities" for the weekend partly to attend cousin Gavin's Baptism and partly to personally announce the arrival of "Baby Nimz" next March. Yep, another Grandkid on the way. On the left is the first of, I'm certain, many, many photos of the newcomer. We aren't able to make it to Hawaii this year (or any year in the near future) so to retain the Aloha spirit we joined our friend Judy for a Luauish birthday party. Saw some old friends and met some new ones while celebrating in true Hawaiian style by eating as much pineapple upside down cake as I could manage. Judy entertained us with a rousing hula. For a complete about face, the next morning we headed down to Chicago for the Baptism of my newest Great Nephew, Gavin. The ceremony, in which three infants were being Christened, was interesting mainly because it involved one of the infants doing a complete Jacques Cousteau. Yep, full submersion. The kid survived and will possibly grow up a little more religious than most for fear of a second dunking. The vacation like atmosphere continued as Gavin's guests headed off to enjoy a Taco feast. To make things more authentically Mexican, my niece Amanda and her hubby Sam mingled through the crowd peddling time shares and trinkets. (I got a genuine Rolex for only twelve bucks) The rest of the week was, once again, spent recovering from my exposure to other humans and watching the Cubs continue their unwinning ways. Actually I don't remember much up til Saturday. (I guess waiting two weeks to post is too long a time for someone my age) Saturday morning Jo decided that we should clean out the garage. Guess what? There's really space for two cars in there. And, I found my golf clubs, some power tools and a frozen turkey meant for last year's Thanksgiving dinner. To make her think that our garage was really tidy, I took JoAnne across town to show her what a real "Junk Garage" looked like. (Pictures below) Saturday evening we attended the Lands' End employee summer party. The LE Jam featuring food, a lot of fun games and things for the kids and three bands great including The Bodines. The night was complete with a grand fireworks display. (and real good people watching) Sunday was a great day for a little drive in the country so we packed Jo's Mom into the car and took her for a couple hour drive to show her some of the wonderful scenery in our area. The best of all the events was the celebrating of JoAnne's ??st birthday yesterday. A burger and drinks with a couple of friends in "Historic" Mineral Point capped off a fun day. Here are a few pictures of places and things that I experienced during the past two weeks. In the future I'll try to post more regularly and more entertainingly.

This to make up for the lack of BS in this post.
I couldn' resist adding this picture
just to tease every dieter that reads this blog.

Little Gavin with Mom, Dad and the "Submerger".

Saffy plays Grabba Gramp.
Or is she just learning to read lips?

I forgot to mention that Saffie has
started walking during the past two weeks.

Here she is walking, not walking, walking.

The standard by which all messy garages should be measured.
I've seen it with the door completely open
and it's solid front to back, floor to ceiling.

I guess the garage is so full that
the stuff is spilling over to the porch.

Them Bodines Jammin' at LE

Now for a little scenery,
Hyde's Mill, circa 1850 just a few miles outside of Dodgeville.

Last but not least,
birthday girl JoAnne, circa 1949.