This blog is coming to you from Cottage Grove, Oregon where I am a columnist for the local newspaper. My 'Chatterbox' column chronicles life's ups and downs while the 'Cook's Corner' segment features updated, country-style cooking. The recipes are family-style: economical, fresh, tasty and simple. Enjoy!
59 years is a long time to be married. But by the grace of
God, Chuck and I will celebrate that milestone next week. I was 19 and Chuck was 20 years old when we
were married Nov. 1, 1958. Life in the 50s and 60s was an exciting era. We were
kids who thought we were grown-ups and the world was our oyster. It was a great
time to be in love and unaware of life’s obstacles. After all, what could
possibly go wrong?
Unlike today’s mega, destination weddings, ours was a simple
church ceremony on a Saturday afternoon. The cost was minimal. Mother paid for
my gown. The five lovely bridesmaids and tuxedo-clad groomsmen paid for their
attire as did all the other attendants. We provided the flowers, cake and
printed napkins. Dad paid the minister. The church ladies did the rest. As a
couple, our out of pocket cost was probably $300 tops.
After a brief 3-day honeymoon, Chuck went to work and I set
up housekeeping. We were blessed that all those guests and bridesmaids hosted
bridal showers and brought us gifts. We had everything that we needed and we
are still using the pots and pans that were wedding gifts.
Fortunately, I was a home economics major at Pepperdine
College so I knew how to cook, clean, sew and manage a budget. I didn’t know
much about managing a husband or raising children but I muddled through and that’s
a subject for another time!
One of my shower gifts was the first edition of the Betty
Crocker Cookbook. It had cooking tips, recipes and other household hints. Most
women did not work outside of the home. The pictures in my copy all show a
young woman wearing a house dress and apron while going about her daily chores.
Following are BCC’s rules for being a successful housewife:
*Every morning before breakfast, comb hair, apply make-up, a
dash of cologne and perhaps some simple earrings.It does wonders for your morale.
*Wear comfortable clothes and properly fitted shoes while
working around the house. (No jeans.)
*Harbor pleasant thoughts while working. It will make every
task lighter and pleasanter.” (Sometimes.)
*Prevent unnecessary fatigue: Use a dust mop and long
handled dust pan; or self-wringing mop (no stooping). (Well, duh.)
*When standing, keep erect posture—do not slump or bend over
tasks (poor posture is tiring). Remember sitting uses much less energy than
standing. (Who has time to sit?)
*Do head work while dusting, sweeping, washing dishes,
paring potatoes, etc. Plan family recreation, the garden, etc. (It’s called
*If you feel tired, lie down on the floor on your back; put
your hands above your head, close your eyes and relax for 3-5 min. (A nap?)
I didn’t follow all those rules but I did comb my hair every
morning; cologne was only for special occasions. Jeans are my uniform of the day.
I try to mop as little as possible and I am always thinking of pleasant things
I would rather be doing. And yes, I have been known to fall asleep on the floor
with kids crawling around me!
One of the things that Betty Crocker didn’t cover was
hanging up the laundry. We had a washer but no dryer. And I had three children
in four years! I learned the hard way about the basic rules for hanging clothes
and diapers out to dry. There were no secrets you could keep on a clothes line.
They announced when a baby was born, the ages of children, illness, the company’s
coming tablecloth, the husband’s work clothes and dingy kitchen towels. So,
there were clothesline rules…
1.Never hang clothes on the weekend or Sunday!
Monday is always wash day.
2.Wash the clothes line before hanging the
clothes! Walk the entire length of each line running a damp cloth around the
3.Hang sheets and towels on the outside lines so
you can hide your “unmentionables” in the middle.
4.Hang clothes in a certain order: whites were
always washed and hung first. Then came the dark colors.
5.Always hang shirts by their tails. Never by the
shoulders! What would the neighbors think?
6.Always gather the clothes pins when taking down
dry clothes. It is tacky to leave pins on the line.
7.To cut down on clothes pins, learn to line the
clothes up so each one could share a clothespin with the next item. (Thrifty!)
8.If possible, take the clothes off the line
before dinner, neatly fold them in the clothes basket to be ironed.
9.IRONING? I couldn’t wait to buy a dryer!
Looking back, I realize that I never did play by the rules
when it came to cleaning house or hanging laundry. But I did learn how to love
and cherish my husband (and children)—for better or worse, for richer and
poorer, in sickness and health. I also learned that sometimes rules are meant
to be broken and life’s ups and downs are great teachers!
P.S. Happy Anniversary to the best husband I’ve ever had!
Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family,
and other matters of the heart.
Read her twice monthly columns in the Cottage
Summer is gone. Fall is here. And that means it’s time to clean up the garden and my email inbox. Both are overflowing. Readers often send me thought provoking and fun stuff that I keep until I find time to pass them on. Lately, my inbox has been full of reminders of the practice of old fashioned manners. Lucky you! Here are some to ponder…
“First impressions make lasting impressions” was drilled into me as a child. I was taught that a first face-to-face introduction spoke volumes. Today, impressions are also made by what you say online in emails or Facebook. Yes, it’s still important to dress well and be polite... but how far will that get you when people only know you by what you say on the Internet? That’s a whole different set of manners that we’ll talk about another time.
Those of us of a certain age often wonder what happened to the “Yes, Sir” and “No Ma’am,” environment that we were raised in. Using those titles (without sarcasm!) is still a sign of respect and that hasn’t changed. It is always best to address others respectfully at that first introduction. Military personnel set a good example for us all. I must admit that some of my friends think it is too formal and old-fashioned thereby betraying their ages. That doesn’t bother me.
“Thank you” or “You’re Welcome” are never out of style. We were raised in the same generation if you have ever been annoyed by a sales clerk’s attitude who hands you your change from a transaction and says, “Here you go!” At some point in the last few years, the phrases “Yep,” or “No Problem” also started. Where did they come from? They suggest that your business was no big deal. The phrases thank you and you’re welcome allow customers to feel like their business is appreciated.
“Here’s what’s happening.” I like this form of communication. It can be used not only at work but within families, friends and neighbors. It is a meaningful exchange of information. It means you’re not being left out of the loop or having to rely on rumors to guess what is going on. It is true communication. It shows respect and consideration without being condescending.
“How can I help?” Again, this is a respectful form of communication. People don’t like to ask for help. But if we see that someone has a need, we can be proactive and suggest that we are ready, willing and able to help them through a rough patch without dictating what we think they need.
“I’ll find out.” Sometimes we have questions that we cannot answer alone. Knowing that someone is going to go out of his or her way to team up with us, relieves tension and warms our hearts.
But enough of manners. On the lighter side, a number of people send me interesting questionnaires that I can never answer. The questions usually begin with “WHY?” Here are some for you to ponder. The answers follow.
Questions: Why do ships and aircraft use 'mayday' as their call for help? Why is someone who is feeling great 'on cloud nine'? Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called passing the buck? Why are people in the public eye said to be 'in the limelight'? Why are many coin collection jar banks shaped like pigs?
Answers: 1. This comes from the French word m'aidez (meaning 'help me’) and is pronounced, approximately, 'mayday.' 2. Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares. 3. In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility of dealing, he would 'pass the buck' to the next player. 4. Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and theaters by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, a performer 'in the limelight' was the Centre of attention. Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of dense orange clay called ‘pygg.’ When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as 'pygg banks.' An English potter misunderstood the word. He made a container that resembled a pig.
Thanks to all who contributed to today’s column. Now we all have been reminded of our manners and why we have piggy banks! Oink. Oink.
Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family,
and other matters of the heart. Read her twice monthly columns in the
The dog days of summer are dwindling down to a precious few.
Sunny days and vacations will soon be a distant memory but those times will never
really go away. I became aware of that as a group of my friends gathered for
coffee and conversation. The subject of the moment was our childhood vacations.
Nostalgia and laughter reigned as we shared simple stories from 40-50 years
Two of the women’s vacations always included big family
reunions. Barb’s mother was one of 9 children and her father was a teacher. Fortunately,
her family had time to drive across country to Minnesota and visit relatives every
summer. She said it was a wonderful opportunity to meet in a park for a huge
picnic and get re-acquainted with all those cousins.
Kaylen’s favorite memory was of family gatherings at Shasta
Lake in No. Calif. Her mother was one of 8 children. Sometimes there would be
as many as 100 cousins, aunts, uncles, shirt tail relatives and friends of the
family camping on one of the islands with the ski boats on the water ferrying
kids and kin around.
Other favorite vacations included Sandie’s annual trip to a
primitive cabin in the Sequoias without electricity or water. Lynn’s family
trip to Disneyland shortly after it opened was one to swoon for. Shirley’s
family didn’t go on vacations but she made up for it when she married Ernie and
they discovered cruise ships. And finally, there was Toni’s mother who randomly
declared vacations by announcing that Toni and her siblings didn’t have to go
to school—everyone was going to the beach for the day!
That morning with my friends got me wondering what vacations
my kids and grandsons found most memorable. Due to space limitations, I can
just print a few of their responses but you’ll surely find something that you
can relate to.
Our daughter Kathy
was the first to chime in and make me laugh. To set the scene— In the 1970s we
owned a tent trailer. The five of us toured National parks and the entire state
of Calif. in that rig. My husband hated it. Betty, Kathy, Jeff and John loved
it. We didn’t have to tow it or set it up.
Kathy says, “My most memorable vacation as a kid would be
our tent trailer in Yosemite with the boys sleeping in a tent outside and us
(inside) hearing a bear.” Oh, yes. I remember it well. Kathy woke up in the
middle of the night whispering, “Mom, there’s a bear under my bed.” The boys
were outside probably with food in the tent!I elbowed Chuck. He flung open the tent door, looked around and said,
“Nope. No bear here,” and went back to sleep. The next morning, we found
remnants of the bear’s feast from the picnic basket that we had conveniently
left outside! Yikes!
Son-in-law Tim’s favorite vacation was a toss-up. “For me,”
he said, “It was at Hume Lake, riding motorcycles in the Sierras and target shooting.
In 1976, it was going to the east coast with the Calif. Cavalcade of Bands (I played
saxophone). We began in Boston and ended in Washington, D.C. on July 4th
with fireworks in the Mall.”
Our daughter-in-law Betsy is a Middle School Teacher and
classes started last week. She still had time to type this: “My favorite summer
memories are at our mountain cabin. Swimming in lakes during the heat of day,
eating an ice cream cone as it melted down your arm, staying up late, playing
cards and sleeping outside. Doing
all these things with the people you love the most. It doesn't get much better
our first grandson, 26 years old and an EMT. His memories mimic that of the
other three who had similar experiences. “My favorite childhood vacations were
always going to Hume Lake. Being by the lake and surrounded by all the trees
was the best playground a kid could ask for! We got to go swimming, play on
“the log”, hike, explore and watch all the animals. The great part about being
at the lake was the pace was always up to us. We could decide to lounge around
the cabin and put together puzzles, or we could go explore a new to us part of
the National Park that surrounded us.”
is now 23 years old and a graduate of Pt. Loma University. I like to think that
he speaks for all the boys when he said, “My favorite vacations as a child were
the escapes to Oregonland! From the mystery adventures, to building tree houses,
racing tractors, and beyond. I knew in Oregon there would always be something
special waiting for me. Being a Southern California boy the thought of snow,
rain, and big green trees out the window seemed so magical. Top that with
donuts, trips to U of O, and even the 99 cents store what more could a boy ask
friends and family for sharing. Now, dear readers, it’s your turn to share some
good time vacation memories with each other.
Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.
It’s a typical summer
day at our house. The sun is shining, the bees are buzzing and the flowers are
in full bloom. I’m writing this column sitting outside and counting my blessings
as I listen to the squirrel’s chatter at the bird feeder while a variety of
birds and our two Dachshunds try and chase them away. I love living in the
I am a born and bred
big-city girl but every summer my family vacationed at our cabin in Crestline
in the San Bernardino Mountains. It was there that I learned to love fresh air,
listen to the mysterious sounds of critters in the forest, ride horseback and
watch the black bear families forage at midnight through a nearby dump by the
headlights of visitor’s cars.
It was also there
that I learned to love birds and enjoy the fun side of my grandfather. Grandpa
J.D., the business man, always wore a 3-piece suit in the city. In the mountains,
he wore casual clothes and trained Blue Jays to sit on his finger. He would sit
for hours, gently tugging a peanut on a string, enticing the birds to come
closer. It took days but ultimately, they became friends and a peanut award
awaited them. I never mastered that art.
I always dreamed that
someday we would live on a tree-lined property, near a lake. Well, surprise!
Dreams do come true. Twenty-eight years ago, we moved toCottage Grove Lake where all kinds of
Our animal adventures
began immediately. The first critters that we heard were scratching in the
walls of our bedroom! Our house had been unoccupied for awhile and MICE moved
in. They were not welcome and had to go. Later, on a walk, a fox ran through
the meadow and abear surprised us at the lake by scrambling down a nearby hill.
Across the street
from our house, a lot of squawking was going on. Looking up we saw the biggest
nest ever—an Osprey family had hatched their noisy chicks. Their parents were
vigilant and protective. One day I looked up to see an eagle headed down the
creek towards the nest flanked by two Osprey. It wisely turned away from the
chicks before a confrontation.
Whenever logging goes
on up the hill from us it chases wildlife out of their habitat into our
neighborhood. Our former neighbors, Jay and Audrey, had a pond on their
property that a local cougar claimed as his own! Summer days he would sprawl
out on the street in front of their house and at night come onto the property
for a drink! He was also interested in their sheep but their Dobermans and a
tight barn kept them safe. Rumor is that there’s been another cougar down at
the lake recently.
One morning Audrey
called to say that there were three long-horn cattle on their property. Did I
know who they belonged to? I didn’t but someone later claimed them. Another day
we woke up to three ponies at the back fence trailing their ropes. Their owners
also found them. And then there was what the cat drug in. One day Misty Mouser
came home from the meadow dragging a rabbit! He was still alive and we took him
back to the park.
Learning to co-exist
with the deer is an ongoing battle. They love our roses—all 75 bushes. Early on
they circled the property during the day scouting out their nighttime dessert.
At dusk, they sometimes would just camp out on the driveway where they made a
friend of Lady, our German Shepherd! Deer and dog would greet and touch noses
like old friends!
The same deer regularly decimated the
vegetable garden until Chuck built a Stalag 17 type enclosure and now the
tomatoes and cucumbers grow in peace. It took hot wires around the rose beds to
protect the flowers. Of course, we must be careful if there’s a power outage.
Critters know when that hot wire is cold!
Recently, I saw the sweetest sight
ever. It was evening and a tiny newborn fawn on wobbly legs was following her
little mama up the road to a safe place. Absolutely precious. Oh, how I love
Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the
Yesterday we celebrated the Fourth of July and the above
words again reminded us of the distinct privilege and blessings we have as Americans.
The Fourth is one of those special days in our country’s history that still bring
chills of gratitude when we look back at the founding of our nation.
The USA that we know today is vastly different than it was two
centuries ago. Our principals, however, remain the same as that of the original
13 colonies that were banded together by a desire for independence from Great
Britain. Freedom was on the lips and in the hearts of every man, woman and
child. Weary of being shackled to another country; of fighting battles, over
basic principles of decency that they couldn’t win, they toppled a giant and
The Declaration of Independence that binds us together continues
to guide us today. The declaration of freedom document was formally adopted by
the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It proclaimed to the world that there
was a new nation on the world stage. The formerly dominated colonies would be
free of the tyranny of Great Britain. Free of “taxation without
representation.” Free to act on their own beliefs and to begin a new way of life
in a new world. It was a brave and gutsy move.
The Library of Congress succinctly describes the declaration
process as taking months. Serious deliberations began in June 1776 with congress
delegates from each of the 13 colonies. Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and others wrote
and guided, while the war raged on. They debated and revised the document
multiple times and finished just as the British fleet and army arrived at New
A formal vote for independence was passed on July 2. The
document continued to be repeatedly revised until the morning of July 4, 1776. Then,
church bells rang all over Philadelphia; the Declaration had been officially
adopted! A hand-written copy was signed by Congress President John Hancock and that
night 150-200 copies were made at a printing shop. Twenty-four copies are still
I am most intrigued by what happened after July 4. Getting
word out to the colonies and other countries was not easy. As
you may recall there were no telephones, telegraphs, railroads or instant
communication of any kind. The Pony Express was not even in existence.
This is where newspapers came into play. The Pennsylvania Evening
Post printed the first newspaper rendition of the Declaration of Independence on
July 7 and it was publicly read on July 8. Gen. George Washington ordered it
to be read to the American Army in New York from his personal copy. After that,
the original Declaration was formally inscribed and signed by members of
Still, word of the country’s independence was slow to
spread. It was said of colonial communications: “Even the most critical
intelligence could only travel at the pace of the fastest horse or ship, often
taking weeks to reach other colonies by treacherous postal roads.” So, copies of
the Declaration were read in town squares via newspapers and later in
magazines. The document took nearly two months to reach some cities.
News of the American independence declaration reached London
mid- August via the ship Mercury. England’s General William Howe (stationed in
the colonies), broke the news in a letter to The London Gazette with this
succinct announcement: “I am informed that the Continental Congress have
declared the United Colonies free and independent states.”
The rest, as they say, is history. King George III was not
happy but the Americans eventually won the war gaining freedom from tyranny and
outside control. May we will always take the high ground with life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness available to all. God bless America!
Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.
Colonel Kirsten M. Palmer March 31, 2017 USAF promotion and reaffirmation of oath
Congratulations are in order for newly appointed USAF
Colonel Kirsten M. Palmer. A promotion ceremony and reception for her pinning was
held on March 31, 2017, in the Airmen’s Hall of the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
It promoted Kirsten from a Lieutenant Colonel to a full Colonel. Among the 80
guests attending the ceremony were her husband Col. Roger Lang, daughter
Addyson and other family, including her parents, Ron and Linda Palmer, of
In her remarks after the pinning of the new insignia she
said, “When I graduated from Cottage Grove High School, Oregon, and headed to
the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, I never dreamed my life and career
would turn out this well.” With graduations coming up this month, it seems only
fitting to post Kirsten’s most recent promotion as motivation for today’s
graduates to dream big!
Longtime Grover’s and readers of this column will remember
that Kirsten was always ambitious and patriotic. During high school, she was
student body president, a scholar and an athlete. She served as a U.S. Senate
Page for Senator Bob Packwood. Upon graduation, she enlisted in the U.S. Air
Force and was accepted by the Air Force Academy in Colorado. She received her
commission from the Academy in May 1995. Later she would earn a Master’s of
Science degree in Resource Strategy.
Climbing the ladder in any profession is arduous. We all
begin at the bottom and work our way to the top. I have watched with awe as
Kirsten climbed the military ladder upon her graduation from the Academy.
Her resume includes stations in five Major Commands
(MAJCOMs) filling a variety of flight line and back shop positions. Her weapon
system experience includes C-130s, A-10s, C-9s, C-17s and KC-135Rs.
Currently, she is a student at the prestigious Eisenhower
School for National Security & Resource Strategy, Ft. Leslie McNair,
Washington, D.C. The school is focused on developing strategic thinkers to
operate in executive environments developing national security strategy and
policy with an emphasis on evaluation and managing national resources.
If all that is as Greek to you as it was to me, it became most
impressive after I looked up the responsibilities of a Colonel at military-ranks.org.
A full Colonel is just above Lt. Col. and below Brig. General. It is the
highest Field Officer rank. A Colonel is typically responsible for commanding a
wing (unit) of 1,000 to 3,000 airmen of lower ranks. The rank insignia for
Colonel is a silver eagle. They are sometimes informally referred to as
“Full-Bird Colonels” to differentiate between them and Lt Colonels. It is the
22nd rank in the USAF. Go, Colonel Palmer!
If you’re a young person considering serving your country in
a military career here’s a few stats about the Air Force. Their website says
that they have a total of 315,725 active duty personnel. After basic military
training —Start strong. Finish stronger—the work includes blue collar jobs,
clerical, technical, administrative and professional areas. Becoming a pilot
requires a time commitment, a bachelor’s degree, meeting officer
qualifications, flight school and more. The average length of service is 14.5
Is it worth it? The last time I spoke with Kirsten she said,
“My plan was to stay in the Air Force as long as I was having fun. Twenty-five
years later I’m still having fun! The opportunities provided by joining the
military are endless and the education benefits are incredible in exchange for
serving my country.”
One of the Air Force mottos is to Aim High. That’s good
advice for all of today’s graduates whatever you choose to do in life.Congratulations to all!
Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.
A newborn baby is a mother’s most precious gift. The moment
that baby is put in your arms you are flooded with an inexpressible, eternal
love. Nothing will ever be more important than the child you are holding. You
will love, cherish and protect that child forever. But sometimes life
intervenes to make life hard for little ones and they need more than our love
to save them
The faces of mothers and their children facing
starvation in Somalia broke my heart as I witnessed their struggle to
live on a television show in early May. ABC News anchor David Muir and Caroline Miles, CEO, of Save the Children,
introduced viewers to Somalia a land of 20 million people all on the brink of
famine and starvation including the children. I was one of those viewers.
As the cameras scanned the landscape, the reality of years
without rain was revealed in pictures of parched earth, animal carcasses and
bone-thin adults. Desperate villagers line up every morning for food and water.
Trucks dispensed water through hoses at $4 a gallon. Each family hoped to get
two buckets full. Enough to last two days.
The faces of emaciated children brought me to tears. The
hollow-eyed babies with tiny frames had no flesh on their bones. They were limp
and didn’t even cry during the final stages of malnutrition.Their loving mothers were stoic as their
babies suffer with diarrhea and pneumonia as their bodies shut down. Even the
doctors are helpless to save these precious little ones.
The situation is dire. Their lives are in God’s hands and those of us watching from far away have questions …how can we possibly help these children from such a
distance? How much money do we give to support the agencies that are serving
them? And how do we know the money will buy what is needed for the children and
I don’t have all the answers. But I do want to address the
money donation amount—no amount is too small. Here's an example: I have a dear friend who is on a limited income. He
regularly sends $5 a month to his favorite charities. It’s not much but he can
afford $5. It makes him feel good that he’s helping others and if a thousand
people do the same thing, the benefit to the charity would be $5,000! Think
about it. Give what you can afford.
I am always skeptical of organizations soliciting money. So
I checked out the rating for Save the Children at this website: www.charitynavigator.org. I have
used this reliable source for many years. You might want to bookmark it on your
computer. It gives you organization addresses, telephone numbers, how they
spend their money, an overall score and rating for the charity.
Save the Children’s rating was 3.1 stars (out of 4) with
89.6% going to program expenses and services. In the comments section there was
some chatter about salaries and other expenses. Too much money spent on overhead was the biggest complaint. My favorite comment about the
money being spent was most charitable: “I look at it this way. I'm doing what
every human should be doing and that's helping children.”
Of course, I don’t need to tell you there are a lot of scams out there.
Be careful before you impulsively give. If you are unsure of a charity, check
out such international agencies as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The
United Nations Children’s Fund is another option.
UNICEF was created in 1946 to provide emergency food and
health care to children after WWII.It
claims to have helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian
organization. They internationally provide health care, clean water, nutrition,
education and emergency relief. https://www.unicefusa.org/mission
One of my favorite charities—Heifer International—has a
different approach. Founded in 1944, its mission is to empower and feed the
poor. They donate livestock to families who raise them and breed them both for eating and to raise money i.e. children
can drink the milk and eat the eggs. Then, as the flock or herd grows, the family can sell the excess with one caveat: they
must pass on one female (goat, heifer, chicken or whatever) to another
family. Sharing the bounty is a win-win situation. This amazing program has
a 3 star rating. https://www.heifer.org/gift-catalog/index.html
P.S. ABC viewers donated $800,000
to Save the Children within 24 hours of the TV show. Because of them, thousands of lives will be saved. I'm thinking that such donations to one of my favorite children's charities on Mother's Day is a good idea!
Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.