Archive for Everyday Life

The Ghost of Tom



“Have you seen the ghost of Tom

Long white bones with the skin all gone.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh,ooh, ooh ooh, poor old Tom,

Wouldn’t it be chilly with no skin on?”


The other evening I turned on the lamp on my night stand in the bedroom. No light. I replaced the bulb.  No light. I took my shower and attempted to use the hair dryer.  It didn’t work. Hum!

Gene checked the breakers and all were on.  I had a thought and checked the lamp on his side of the bed. No light. That made no sense at all.  Three things in one evening just don’t go bad. We plugged and unplugged, and reset the switch on the hair dryer. Still no luck.

We plugged the hair dryer into a socket in the living room. No luck.  Gene took a lamp that was working in the living room and plugged it into the bathroom socket. It worked. So we established that the socket was working, but not the hair dryer. But why two lamps and one dryer? He took my lamp to the living room, no luck.  I started singing a little chant that popped into my brain from childhood days. “Have you seen the ghost of Tom…” I have no idea where I learned that creepy little tune but I probably learned it in grade school. It certainly wasn’t at home as we didn’t have TV and listened to very little radio. I remember singing it as a kid, slowly, over and over, with strong emphasis on each word whenever it seemed to fit a “needed situation”! Tonight was one of those “needed situations” even though Gene could see no connection!

I noticed that the alarm clock on my night stand and the little fan on his worked. That meant both of the sockets were live, just not the lamps. Gene suggested I change the light bulb in my lamp again.  Much to my surprise it worked. How unlikely is it to have two blown out bulbs. One problem solved.

What works for one lamp might work for the second, right? Wrong. Replacing the bulb in his lamp didn’t help. I looked behind his night stand and the lamp was unplugged.  Now, how in the world did that happen? We have no children in the house and I certainly didn’t do it.  It had to be the ghost of Tom! Gene informed me his lamp hasn’t worked for a long time. For some reason I hadn’t noticed. Apparently it never got plugged in when we redid the bedroom two years ago.  Second problem solved. At least we now have light!

Back to the hair dryer. I plugged and unplugged, push the reset button fifty times and turn it on and off fifty-two times. Nothing. About half hour later we were sitting in the living room and the hair dryer started running. In turning it on and off, I hadn’t turned it off.  I have no clue what ailed that opinionated thing but it’s attitude must have been adjusted as it has been working ever since.  It had to be that illusive, stupid, Tom ghost with no skin on!

Three problems solved in one evening. That was a good night’s confusion workout.


The Ghost of Tom

Out of curiosity, I googled the phrase “Have you seen the ghost of Tom” and actually found the words to the song. It was only four lines long though I remember it as much longer. I had forgotten the last two lines.

This reminded me of another song we sang as kids, “Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms”.  I found it on google also. When we were sent to the garden to work or shooed out of the house, we would sing this crazy little song.

I’m curious how many of the rest of you will admit to singing these goofy little songs?



It Was My Bald Spot

A bald spot on a man can look very dignified and stylish, but for a woman, it is a cosmetic nightmare! As I kept tabs on the thinning spot on the back of my head, I decided it was time to take action and try something, anything!

My friend, google, guided me to numerous web sites and after reading the information, I decided on It proclaims itself as the hair regrowth system for women with thicker, longer, stronger and healthier hair. And, it is clinical proven! After looking at pictures, reading testimonials and seeing the claim that 1,000,000 women have been helped, I decided to give it a try. After all, what did I have to lose except more hair.

The products are rather pricey, but if I had gone to a doctor and gotten a prescription, that would have also been expensive also. With anticipation, I ordered the kit; Scalp Stimulating Shampoo,  Volumizing Keratin Conditioner, Hair Regrowth Treatment, Lift and Repair Treatment Spray along with their super duper vitamins for hair regrowth.

I have been using it since January 2017 (1-1/2 years) and the results are very noticeable, I am very pleased. I don’t have the luscious, silky, flowing hair of the women on the ad, I never have. I admit I have always been a tad bit jealous of women with thick hair but for me the results are a huge improvement. My hair is still thin, but there is no longer a bald spot.

Now, I just look at another bald spot that I don’t have to have a mirror to see it. Shhhh, I took this picture while he was sleeping. I think he ought to start using my magic potion, it might even make him feel younger! What do you think?

Chapstick-Don’t Leave Home Without It!

I think I am addicted to chapstick. I use chapstick whether I need it or not. If I see someone putting it on,  I have to put it on.  If I open a drawer and see it, I have to use it. I have it everywhere: in my purse, in my spare purse, in my three different desk drawers, on top of the microwave, in my cash drawer, in my coat pockets (that’s at least 6), with my toiletries, in my travel bag, in my dresser drawer, by my night stand and who knows where else I have it stashed! I use it summer, fall, winter and spring, and all hours of the day! I go to bed, turn out the light, and then I remember, chapstick!  I brush my teeth and my clean lips need a dose of chapstick.

I have one kind that I like and only one kind, the green medicated tube of Blistex. On the box it says “smooth, easy-gliding protection to smooth and prevent chapped lips”. That’s why I use it-preventive care! I certainly do not want to get chapped lip disease! Blistex should like this commercial push for them! Maybe they will send me a box of free samples!!!

Come to think of it, I might also be addicted to hand lotion! I am sure that is used also for preventive care!


Pocket Treasures

A couple of weeks ago we were dressing to go to a funeral and Gene had to dust off his suit coat from the depths of the closet as he was one of the pallbearers. He doesn’t wear his coat much anymore as Sunday attire has gotten more informal. I started emptying his pockets and discovered numerous treasures which truly showed how seldom he wears the suit and how seldom he empties his pockets.

There were the funeral bulletins for Uncle Milford Hertzler in February of 1988,  Aunt Edna Hertzler in March of 1989, Uncle Arthur Hertzler in November of 1990 and Uncle Dewitt Heatwole in December 1993.  There was the high school graduation program and napkin for our son Keith in 1994 and a map to the wedding reception on the Annabel Lee River Boat for my first cousin Cathy Reed and Brian Yoder.  The directions were not dated. Cathy, when were you married? And finally there were two name cards, his and mine,  for a banquet table in Kauai (one of the Hawaii Islands) when we had earned a trip with Purina in 1992.

I don’t normally keep any of the above papers but now suddenly they seem like treasures because they feel like antiques! Funeral bulletins were definitely the most popular item he saved, probably because that was when he wore his suit.

Pocket trash or pocket treasure?


Rest In Peace-Buckwheat


October 16, 1998 – September 29, 2017

6:45 PM

It is a sad evening, our beloved store mascot, Buckwheat, has passed away.

Buckwheat had many friends who loved to visit with him when they came into the store. Often his special friends would go straight to his cage when they came in the door, talk to him and whistle a tune before coming to the counter.

He was an old man, 19 in human years, 124 in bird years. He was never sick a single day of his life until this afternoon.

Buckwheat came to us October 16, 1998, the fall we moved into our new addition, as a very young fella. He was hand-fed and hand-raised by breeder Lynda Deanne.  We did not have an exact date of his birth but always used the day he came to us as his birthday even though he was already about 6 weeks old.  I wanted a bird that talked… some, but not a loud, shrill, mouthy bird like a parrot. Lynda has just the bird for us.  We named him Buckwheat because of his hair do!! Buckwheat learned to whistle the “Andy Griffith Mayberry theme song and “Pop Goes the Weasel”.  At the time, we had a cat named Oscar. He would say, “here kitty, kitty. Oscar’s a whimp”.  The day Oscar died was the last he crowed that taunt.   If I went out to the store after closing time to work in the office and turned on the store lights he would squawk “Good-night” until I turned them off. It’s the only time he would say that phrase.

Buckwheat was usually a silent sentry, standing guard and observing all the doings of the day.  We never knew when he would burst into song and whistle his heart out. His favorite time of the day to whistle was first thing in the morning.


Buckwheat did not particularly care for children though they loved him and were attracted to his cage. Often he would squawk in fear if they came too close to his cage. Children didn’t quite know how to interact with him in a way that he didn’t feel threatened.  He did not like it when they poked their fingers or another object into his turf or made shrill noises instead of talking to him.

There were three noises that he did not like: the vacuum sweeper, the clanking of the dog tag machine and pulling tape off the tape gun. That last sound was like fingernails on the chalk board to him and would send him in a squawking fit.  He also did not like us intruding in his space to clean his house.

One time we were positioning a rack of coats in the area by his cage and it flipped over, knocking him, in his cage, to the floor with a loud crash.  He never did forgive us for that horrifying scare!  For years, in the fall whenever we put up the rake of coats, he would have a squawking bird fit, fearing the coats were going to attack him again.

During baby chick season, we often had a tub or two of baby chicks by his cage. He was not fond of the “chicken nuggets” and their chirping tweets and would express his displeasure until he tired of his own hissy fit.

Buckwheat liked neck/backrubs. If we said “backrub”, he would scoot across the perch to the side of the cage and put his neck down so that we could rub it. Then quick as a wink, he would turn and snip at our fingers. One of his favorite tricks was when I went to his cage and said, “give mommy a kiss”. He would edge close as I made a kissing sound by smacking my lips and he would respond by smacking his beak.

Yesterday, Summer noticed that he was all fluffed up on his perch when we came to work. We thought maybe he was a little cold as it was cooler during the night but didn’t really give much thought to it. He seemed ok during the day. This morning it was the same thing. We put his heat lamp on but he stayed huddled all day.  This afternoon we took him out of the cage and examined him. He was very thin, feather-light, and his vent was impacted. We cleaned him up but realized, Buckwheat was very ill and was declining rapidly in front of our eyes. We knew he was not going to last long.

Within a very short time he could no longer stand so we made a bed for him in a small box. His eyes kept going closed but when we talked to him and rubbed his back he would struggle to open his eyes and look at us before they would flutter shut again. Regardless of where I stood in relation to his box, when I spoke to him he would struggle to turn his head and look at me and smack his beak with a kissing sound. We kept telling him we loved him and that he had been a good store bird.

I brought him home with me this evening and checked on him every few minutes as I fixed supper.  Around 6:45 he was gone.

Rest in peace, Buckwheat. You will be sorely missed.

Buckwheat has four very special friends that he loved besides his store family and seemed to recognize whenever they came into the store: Vanessa Upson, Donna Wyatt, Terry Graber and Clyde Kirby. Vanessa was his absolute favorite and we called her his girlfriend. Clyde taught him the Mayberry theme song. Donna and Terry, thanks for being Buckwheat’s friend. You always spoke to him and knew how to speak his language. And, a special thanks to Summer Bass for being his loving and diligent daily caregiver for…how many years????!!!!  You were his friend and always kind and loving to him.


Our Fixer-Upper

Gene and I both really enjoy watching the “Fixer-Upper” TV show featuring Chip and Joanna Gaines and their work remodeling older homes. We love their style, creativity and down-to-earth personality and lifestyle. I have gleamed some decorating ideas for my house which I recently used.

This summer we replaced sheet rock, insulated and repainted the master bedroom, living room and kitchen, put up new trim, exposed the hardwood floors, added some ship lap, a sliding barn door and opened a nine foot walkway in the wall between the kitchen and living room. New curtains, throw rugs and accessories have made me feel like I am now queen of a new house!

Pictures of the living room.

Medium tone green-gray paint, new painted trim and crown molding, exposed hardwood floors, new curtains, rug and rearranged furniture.

New view of the kitchen. Opening the wall makes it feel like we have a totally different and larger living area.

View from kitchen into the living room. I love my exposed hardwood floors. They were still in good shape and did not need to be redone.

Opening the wall between the living room and kitchen was not in our original plan.  One weekend we started talking and Gene said if we were ever going to do it, now was the time.  When the carpenter, Joe Hertzler (Gene’s first cousin), came back on Monday, we discovered it was an easy do as it was not a load-bearing wall and the heat vents could be worked around. We decided to have some fun and not tell the kids….let them have the “shock and awe” reveal!  That did not work for our son and his family as their place joins the farm and they soon caught on. Our daughter and her family live several hours away and took a trip out west for 3 weeks this summer. We were able to pull off the surprise with them and it was such a fun, fun weekend when the “unsuspecting” family came for a visit to “celebrate Obe’s birthday”!

We put a sliding barn door to the office.

Featuring a quilt made by my niece Kendra Heatwole Landis. It is truly a masterpiece of art.

We used ship lap to cover the fireplace which we had closed in years ago. This wall is now the focal point of the living room.

The before pictures of the living room have somehow disappeared from my files.

New kitchen pictures. We did not redo the floor or cabinets.


It is so much more open and not near as cluttered.


We replaced the sliding glass door and put a shelf above the microwave for my cookbooks.

I had a new china cabinet being made by Roy Miller’s Cabinet Shop in Farmville (Joe’s son-in-law).

Before pictures of the kitchen…..

The next two picture are the wall that we opened.


This antique school desk from Denbigh had become a “catch all” in the kitchen. It now is a “centerpoint” of attraction in my living room.

The master bedroom….

We painted the walls a medium tone Colonial blue-gray paint, white trim and crown molding, new rugs, curtains and an updated picture above the bed and exposed hardwood floors.


Before master bedroom……

Tan paint , blue carpet, stained trim and popcorn ceiling.



We were having a water problem underneath the front portion of the house. We dug a 4′ deep ditch across the front and on down the side of the house, sealed the foundation and put in drain tile and filled with gravel. This also meant I got a much needed upgrade to the landscaping at the front of the house also.


Other posts of related interest:

Once Upon a Time

My New Sunroom

Remodeling the Bathroom







A Week of Cyber Silence

For one whole week, yes that is seven whole days, we had no internet service. Our trusty pal, Verizon, moved with malware infected speed to fix the problem.

It started last Monday about the middle of the morning when we discovered we could not connect with cyber world.  With a business this is tough!!!  Suddenly we could not process credit card sales, download invoices from vendors, retrieve documents from Dropbox or send orders by email.

I became first-name friends with tech support guru’s with hard to understand accents. I tried not to get frustrated with their endless questions and trouble shooting maneuvers I had trouble understanding. After all, they were just trying to help me. The earliest a technician could arrive on site was on Thursday, in four days.  Their response to my pleas that I am a business and need help was, “I am so sorry, but that is as soon as anyone is available”.  And no, they assured me, there was no problem in our area even though numerous of our customers were having the same issues at the same time and Verizon’s own  online recording for you to listen to while on hold waiting for help was “if you live in the areas of Chesapeake, Maryland and 18th street in New York you may be experiencing wide-spread outage and they are working on it.” Incidentally, this same recording is still playing one week later! Finally, they decided to send me a modem instead of a technician.

The new modem was to be delivered before 4 p.m. on Thursday. At 4 p.m. sharp on Thursday I was on the phone with Verizon informing them that the modem had not arrived. And, would you believe, they had no record that a modem had been issued or shipped to me. But, they would be happy to ship one immediately!!! The next day the “no record” modem arrived and the day after a second one! I hooked up the new modem and the ominous red DSL light still blinked and the internet light stayed dark.

Again, I call Verizon. Now the earliest they could send a technician was in another four days;  Monday, January 2, between 8-9 a.m. I guess all the techs must be in Chesapeake and Maryland! About 11 this morning a technician finally arrived and several hours later I was connected back to cyber world. The problem was not at our location-which I had figured out, but on the main line. Somehow the line had lost all its “programing” and had to be reformatted.

When going through something like this you realize how totally dependent we and the world has become on the internet. (This is a scary fact). I could use my cell phone to check the news, email and fb but I could not get the invoices I needed as my cell phone didn’t support the programs I needed nor could I print. I had to go borrow a “connected” computer. I stepped back in time and sent orders by fax and rerouted my credit card machine to use the “slow” phone line.  For better or for worse we survived. But let me tell you, a week is a long time to be down and I did not like it.


I Hit the Jackpot!


I did it.  I did it! I DID IT!!!!! This morning when I stepped on the scales it banged, clanged, jingled and sang (not really but in my mind it did). I had hit my jackpot, the 50 pound weight lost goal!!!!..  I just stood and stared at the scales.  I wiggled around, moved my feet to see if the hand on the dial was stuck. I could hardly believe my eyes even though I was weighing myself every day and knew I was one pound from the goal. I’ve been claiming it for several weeks now as I was within a few pounds but now it official and there is no anticipating the fact. For some reason the last five pounds took a long time to come off.

I started this journey February 7 and I it took me exactly 8 months of daily recording ALL my food and drink intake on to get to this day.

If you are struggling with  weight loss, I highly recommend  I did not deny myself any food group, go on a diet binge or buy special products. I counted calories, managed portion control and walked the treadmill.  I am so excited to say I went from a tight 14 jeans to size 6.

Now my concern is keeping it off and not letting that sneaky, creepy fat find its way back on. My plan is to stay on myfitnesspal and I anticipate that as long as I make myself accountable to “my pal-my best friend”, I will keep it off.  After all,  I talk to this pal several times a day. It knows my deepest secrets!

When I started this journey, I set my goal for 22 pounds. I didn’t want to feel defeated and said I would be happy IF I got to 165.  The unbelievable part for me now is that I am back to my “before having baby days”.  I never, ever dreamed that was possible.  I know, I’m a woman and I am not suppose to want any one to know my weight or age. But….at 63 I weighted 187 and now I am proud to say one year later I weigh 137.  How many years have I just added to my life? The bottom line is, I feel soooooooo good. This is so different from one year ago.  (See my blogs posted below). Most of my aches and pains are gone. Now when I pick up a 50 lb. bag of feed I can hardly believe I was carrying that albatross around every step I took.  Now it’s all I can do to lift and carry the bag!

For now, I am enjoying the winning of the jackpot. It is sweeter than honey and better than chocolate! (I think!!!)

My Fitness Pal

A Little Less of Me

My New Sunroom

Remodeling puts a whole new lease and feel to your house. We recently redid the bathroom (Remodeling the Bathroom) and now we have just finished a complete remodel of the front porch.


The porch was in desperate new of a new face-lift.  The windows and door no longer closed properly, there was no insulation, the walls were rotten, the rug was faded and it was hopelessly outdated.  Through the years it was a playroom for the children and grandchildren and it served its purpose well. But now it was time to repurpose the room.img_1178

For a sunlit room it was dark and dingy: paneled exterior walls, cinderblocks interior wall, concrete floor and stained batten board ceiling.

It was cold in the winter and hot in the summer which basically meant it was not an inviting room to enjoy.



I forgot to take pictures before I moved all the “stuff” out of the room and realized too late that I have almost no pictures of that room except this one of Emily playing with the kitchen set when she was a little tyke.


Joe Hertzler was our contractor and under his skilled hand my vision for the room came alive.

We rebuilt the walls, insulated, put up sheet rock and put in new windows, door, flooring and a room air conditioner with heat pump (similar to what is used in hotel rooms).







Instead of toys, there is now white wicker furniture. The toys were all cleaned, broken ones discarded and moved to an upstairs bedroom. The first thing Noah said when he came over was “Where are the toys?” He was worried!  Ryan’s first comment was “I hope you didn’t throw away the fire truck.” And with added emphasis, “It WAS my favorite!”  I had to admit it was gone. In my eyes, it was broken and didn’t work properly.

The new look…. I can hardly get enough of it. It is so relaxing and inviting to sit and enjoy the view.  It has basically added another room to the house.  We call it the “Sunroom”. So friends, come, sit awhile and let’s enjoy a panoramic view of the farm with a cup of coffee!










In the year of 1976

The other day when I was cleaning a book shelf,  I found a notebook where I had recorded “stuff” from 1976-1982.  It was a treasure of information; my weight, several grocery store receipts, expense ledger, pregnancy records, how to feed newborn lambs and treat sick ones and the menu and expenses for a New Years Eve Banquet at church in 1975.


When I became pregnant with our first child in 1975, I weighed a mere 137 lbs. I gained 16 lbs and I  remember one man told me I was the biggest pregnant lady he had ever seen!!!  Guess what, I still remember who that man was! He got by with it because he was a friend!!! The doctor’s fee for the pre-delivery visits, delivery and 6-week check up was a whopping $475. The hospital expense for my 5-day stay (which was the normal stay) was $750.

By the time of my second pregnancy a year later the doctor’s fee went up to $550.


Grocery Expenses: Spring 1976.

For the Powhatan folks, my three grocery stores were Maxeys in the village where Four Seasons Restaurant now is, Mays at Flat Rock and Giant on Midlothian Turnpike on the other side of Chippenham Parkway (150).  I loved Maxeys and Mays. They were small, family-owned grocery  stores where you were called by name by all the employees. All three of these stores are now just memories.

  • My grocery bill averaged $120 a month. Now I often spend that a week!
    • Margarine 43 cents lb.
    • 10 lb. sugar $2.37
    • Box cheerios 63 cents
    • Bottle Ranch dressing 25 cents
    • Loaf of bread 34 cents
    • Aluminum Foil 81 cents
    • 10 lbs. Potatoes $1.49
    • Roll paper towels 49 cents
    • Bag of Potato Chips 89 cents
    • 5 lb Flour 95 cents
    • Tooth paste 26 cents
    • Bag of Nestlé’s Chocolate bits 65 cents
    • 1 lb. peanuts 89 cents
    • Box of Ice-Cream $1.09
    • Ajax powder 30 cents
    • l lb Bacon $1.33
    • Bar soap 63 cents
    • Kraft Mayonnaise $1.15
    • Bag of oranges 55 cents
    • Box Kix cereal 67 cents.

Folks, I didn’t make those prices up and this is only 40 years ago. We did have our own farm-grown milk, beef, eggs and garden produce.


These were the days when there were no stoplights or shopping on Route 60. The first stoplight from Powhatan was at K-Mart & Giant on the east side of Cloverleaf Mall which was under construction.  (Gene doesn’t think K-Mart was there yet-it was another store but he can’t remember what it was). They broke ground for the mall after we were married in 1972.  This was a big deal as the closest shopping was at Southside Plaze, a very small mall on the Boulevard (168) or in downtown Richmond on Main Street.

Heading east on Route 60 there was Watkins Nursery, the burg of Midlothian with a drugstore on the main drag along with a few other small stores behind it. If you blinked, you missed it.  and then there was nothing else but open land. It felt like a long drive to town.

Garden Seeds:

  • 1/2 lb. sweet corn seed: $1.61
  • 1 lb. pea seed: 85 cents
  • Pkg lettuce: 49 cents
  • 1 red azalea, 8 pansys and 2 yellow tomatoes: $2.86


Another memory.

When we got married in 1972, we stopped on the way home from our honeymoon to buy groceries at Giant. We purchased two grocery carts full for $100. We thought we had spent a fortune!!! The next week we went back and spent another $100. I felt like I was now queen of my kitchen (just like my mother) and had everything I needed: spices, cleaning supplies, baking supplies, paper ware and a stash of other basic food necessities.


Church New Years Eve Banquet-1975

We fed 85 people for a cost of $109.95 and purchased flowers for $5.00.

Our menu was salad with crackers, roast beef & gravy, baked potatoes with sour cream, butter beans, rolls, apple pie and ice-cream.

The ninety baking potatoes, 11 pies and drink were donated.

For some reason I have no recollection of this event. My notes say Marvin and Fern Hertzler donated the potatoes and Janis Ranck, Cheryl Hertzler, Nancy Moyer and Bev Burkholder made the pies and Sheila Schaefer and Carol Landis provided the drink. I think this was probably a youth event since the youth girls made the pies and Gene and I, along with Dave and Nancy Moyer, were youth leaders during this time.

And that my folks, is the way it used to be!

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