Archives For Life

The day started out very brisk, about 25 degrees cooler than yesterday. It is cloudy and kind of drab looking but a great morning after the storms that went through last night. I know it stormed because one of the girls woke me up and wanted me to protect her, an easy solution at 12:30 am. She went to bed in her safe house, her crate. Sugar started fearing storms about a year ago. Don’t know why but at least we know when bad weather is upon us. The other girl, Foxy, slept right through the storm oblivious to the thunder and lightning. Maybe it’s because she is getting quite deaf like me. We have indeed been fortunate with the storms of late. To all those who have suffered storm damage and flooding my prayers go out for their safety.

It’s been a typical Indiana spring week. Tuesday it stormed and hailed. The hail almost covered the ground. Kind of scary considering that last year all the houses on the reservation were re-roofed because of hail damage. I suspect a lot of folks went out and checked their roofs. Wednesday it rained again and was very windy almost blustery. But, yesterday, wow. Sunshine and warmth, I think it got to 72 degrees before the sun set. An absolutely gorgeous Indiana spring day. The goundsmen even had the mowers out. Not sure what the game plan was because they mower here and there, my side yard, the neighbors back yard and the strip between the sidewalks and streets. I guess they just got the high spots.

It was a wonderful morning to reflect on life here on the reservation. It is so quiet and peaceful with wonderful neighbors who are not necessarily nosey they just look out for each other. The main building, The big house, loaded with so many things to do and activities to participate in that if your bored you don’t have to look very far to find someone to blame just look in a mirror. It has been a good morning to remind me that almost 2 years ago we made a really great decision to move here because now all the life ending decisions, for us anyway, have been made. Have never regretted coming here and it makes me feel good to know that we will not become a burden on our children.

I went to the Big House this morning and worked out for about an hour in the Wellness Center (Gym) then visited a friend in the rehab center who is recovering from double pneumonia and other issues. He’s 91 and is doing much better, chomping at the bit so to speak to get back to his apartment and his painting. Later today I have to take my mother to a doctor for another check- up. She is 92 and doing fairly well considering.

It’s noon now and the sun is shining. We have gained 17 degrees since morning. Looks like it’s going to be another wonderful day here on the reservation almost but not quite paradise!

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

Cracklin’s

April 8, 2015 — Leave a comment

A friend and I were talking the other day discussing the reality that kids today probably don’t really know where their food comes from except Krogers. This conversation started a long thought process about what kids today and perhaps their parents as well have missed because everything they need comes from a store. It is time, perhaps, for enlightenment.

As a youngster, I was blessed with having both full sets of Grandparents and a full set of Great Grandparents and a step-Great Grandmother who lived with us for about 8 or 9 years.  They were all farmers so it is no accident that my roots go back to the soil. I have wished many times that I had been a farmer, but it was not to be!

My parents were kids, 6 &7, when the Great Depression struck. They were lucky that they lived on farms. The kids in the cities and towns did not fare so well. Time were hard and the old saying “waste not want not” was lived every day. Shoe laces were sewn and socks were darned because there was no money to buy new ones. My Grandpa Isley burned ear corn in the stove because a bushel of corn would not buy a bushel of coal.

Like most farmers, both of my grandparents had milk cows, pigs, chickens and a huge garden.  Summers were full of time spent canning vegetables and fruit and making pickles and jelly. The women worked as long if not longer than the men practically every day.  And, my grandmother Sandifur had Gooseberry bushes.  And, as part of the Isley lore I love Gooseberry pie!

In the winter and always it seemed the coldest day you could pick, they butchered. All the kids and grandkids came home as well as the neighbors to help with the butchering.  Butchering beef was a week long process because the beef carcasses had to hang and “age” to firm up the meat so it could be cut up and packaged. Before freezers, beef had to be consumed rather quickly. Pork, on the other hand, was completely taken care of in one day. The hogs were killed, scalded, scrapped, cut up, and processed.  The hams and bacon (Pork bellies) were rubbed with salt and sugar and other spices (trade/family secret) and hung in the smoke house and the fire lit to begin that process. The other cuts of meat were salted in crocks to eat much later.  I remember Grandma scrapping and turning the intestines to be used as the casing for the sausage. The women would grind the meat by hand and mix the spices for the sausage (again a family secret) and then stuff the casing and tie off the individual sausage links and these were hung in the smoke house also.

Now there was one part of this whole process that only a few could and do well. Render lard. Today no one uses lard except cake bakers because lard makes the very best icing. However, 60 years ago everything fried or baked used lard. The hog fat was cut up into about 1 inch squares and that was my job when I got old enough to be trusted with a sharp knife. Then these squares of fat were put in a large kettle with a fire underneath, too hot and the lard would catch on fire, too cold and the lard would not melt from the fat. Also, if it got too hot the lard would not solidify when it cooled. Then at just the right time (this is where the expertise came into play) the pieces of hog fat were removed from the kettle and put into the, guess what, lard press and squeezed to get all the lard out.

We are now at the crux of the story, what remains are called cracklins. Fresh hot cracklins made the cold fingers and feet seem to go away. I don’t think there is anything that tastes as good as fresh hot cracklins on a freezing winter day! Nothing! They were so good!  I remember my dad telling me over and over again year after year, “now don’t eat too many of those because they’ll give you the runs” The “runs”? In today’s speak it’s diarrhea in case you didn’t know.  You know what? I didn’t care. You know what? My dad was right! You know what? I didn’t care. And if I could get some fresh hot cracklins today, you know what?  I wouldn’t care!

It has been a long time since I have enjoyed fresh hot cracklins and I probably never will again, but these memories and experiences have helped shape me into what I am today.

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

To start with I’m going to give you more information than you probably want to know. But, to tell the story you must have all the pertinent facts. Since our return from vacation on March 1st we have missed our Indianapolis Star 3 times. Each time I call and register the missed paper and if I can get a real person I complain. I am signed up to read the Indy Star on line but for some reason, still to be determined, I cannot get to the IndyStar web site using the AOL browser. I can only get to the IndyStar web site by going thru internet explorer. But, reading the newspaper on line is not the same as reading the print edition.

You know we all have our habits and I am probably one of the worst about doing things strictly by habit. Get up at 7:00AM get papers and unwrap and layout the Indy Star so that the extra (funny pages) section is on the bottom of the pile (last). Pour a cup of coffee and start reading. About this time on of the girls will come trotting out of the bedroom headed for the back door. So, I let her out and go wake up the other one and put her out.

Now I have to interrupt my newspaper reading with what should be a simple task of fixing a dog breakfast for our diabetic girl Foxy. But, Foxy has become you might say finicky. She most times won’t eat dog food. However, there are times when she won’t eat people food either, so fixing her breakfast is a crap shoot. She has to eat so I can give her an insulin injection.  This as you can see can be a major disruption to my morning routine. And it generally is!

After dog breakfast it’s back to the Star and more coffee then the Daily Journal and finally computer time.  Criminal Case awaits!

This morning I awoke at 7:00 and put on my lounging pants. (Flannel pajama bottoms) Went to the kitchen and slipped on my shoes and glasses and went to the door to get the paper. No paper! No Sunday Star! Instantly pissed! WOW what is that? They just delivered the paper to my neighbor and they are driving off! I will get my paper! Where are the car keys? The closest keys are in Linda’s purse. Where is the purse and which compartment? Third try, I found them! Out the door raise the garage door and out I go to chase down the newspaper delivery person. It is cold this morning. I have no coat on! Found them. It’s a woman, damn will have to clean up the language. Good morning, did you forget to leave a paper at my house again? This makes the 4th time this month.

“Where do you live”, she asks. I told her my house number and she looks at her order sheet and says. “This says 645 not 745” Well I said, “Most mornings you get it right. Why not every morning?”  No answer!

Here’s your paper. We will try to do better tomorrow.

What more could I ask for? I have the Sunday Star.  Now, if I can just get Foxy to eat her breakfast it may be a great morning after all.

Thanks for listening.

Richard

Cramming for Finals

March 17, 2015 — Leave a comment

Last night at bible study I remembered something my daughter once asked me, “Old people are always reading and studying the bible. Are they cramming for finals?”  I put the question to the group and the answer was, perhaps!

It seems us older folks do indeed read and study the bible more, not so much cramming, but it’s because we have the time now to reflect on our lives and perhaps afterlife. Because now that the kids are raised and we have completed our work life we can reflect on the important things that we have perhaps missed. Our relationship with God needs to be completed and through God we find satisfaction that the errors and indiscretions of our life have been forgiven and the difficult task of forgiving ourselves is probably the most troubling and worrisome thing we have to resolve.

God is! That is the answer to all questions of this life. I believe without a doubt that God exist. I have always believed but that belief was reinforced when I was allowed to witness the birth of my daughter. How could anyone not believe seeing that perfect form of life knowing that it started out as two tiny specks and developed into that tiny bundle of joy that grew into a loveable and loving adult? I have been saved by his hand at least five times in my life and because of that I do not question God! I cannot question God because I’m not smart enough to know the answers.

I, being a lover of history, really enjoy studying the Bible because it is a 6,000 year old history of man. It has many significant stories of good people and bad people that even today have lessons to learn. The many stories of love and despair that continue to repeat over and over throughout time causes me to wonder, will we ever learn. Lessons of life that are incredibly relevant today if we take the time listen and learn. The story of Jesus and his mission on earth is so revealing to a simple truth. The all-encompassing message to love your neighbor as yourself will change your life if you will but apply it.

Cramming, I don’t think so. I don’t think there will be a final exam. I do believe that we will be asked, “did you try?” Only God is perfect and for us mere humans perfection is definitely out of the question. We can only try to live with love for our neighbor and that is a full time endeavor. But, knowing that forgiveness is for those who faithfully ask and are sincere in their belief make life easier to live.

Now, being a 71 year old “Crotchety Old Man”, I wonder if my rants will be considered loving attempts to help folks?

Thanks for listening.

Richard

Monday! Cold! Cloudy! Windy! Typical Indiana winter day.

Well, there is no snow, but you can’t have everything!

So the boss says “let’s go out and get a bite to eat. You pick.” I said, “Burger King.” Love their fish sandwich! While waiting for our order (there is no fast food anymore) a friend said “hi!” Bill Monroe, a fellow resident on the reservation and great fisherman, was getting back in line to get some cookies for he and his wife. We talked a bit then our order was ready. Hadn’t taken too long, the fish must have really been biting!

As we were eating our lunch, I noticed Bill Monroe getting up to leave. He put his coat on and then his hat. Did you get that? He put on his hat!. Yes, he had eaten his lunch with his hat off. His mother must have really taught him well or maybe his wife did the teaching. It doesn’t matter who did it, but here was an older man, eating lunch at a fast food restaurant with his wife and he took off his hat! My compliments!A gentleman with outstanding manors!

Bill Monroe, thank you for reminding me that folks still have good manors.

Now, I was always a fan of the Sopranos (remember that show?), but I really became a die-hard fan during the episode when Tony (a real bad ass) was having dinner in a fairly nice restaurant with one of his “clients” when a young man and woman entered and set down and the young man left his hat on and started to look at the menu. Tony noticed and excused himself from his table and walked to the table of the afore-mentioned young man. Tony proceeded to tell the young man that he had two choices. One, take his hat off while eating his supper, or, two, Tony would remove it for him and in that process kick his ( the young man’s) ass. Needless to say, the young man removed his hat. Tony became my hero forever!

His mother taught him well.

Life at the Reservation

January 19, 2015 — 1 Comment

June 2013, we moved into a cottage on the reservation at the Franklin United Methodist Community. I’m sure the community leaders cringe when I call it the reservation because they call it Brookside an adult community. When you move here, for a fee, they guarantee lifetime care so when you can no longer take care of yourself, or your cottage, you are relocated to the “big house” where someone takes care of you.

It is a lovely quiet gated community and the folks here are really nice and neighborly and most have been here for a long time. Now, the goal of me and the boss is to live here a long time and die before we have to go to the big house. Reservation seemed to just fit. We have reserved a place in the “big house,” our life now is reserve, and just like the indians, someone else takes care of our every need.

Our cottage is about 1500 sq. ft. and is located on the pond so we can watch the ducks, geese and fish when we want. No, I am not a good fisherman! We lost 500 sq. feet and, as a result, had to re-home a lot of stuff. 25+ years of accumulated tools, must-keeps and might-need-it-somedays added up to a lot of really-good things. Believe it or not, it was almost a year before we could get both vehicles in the garage. Probably the hardest things for us to “down size” was the books. Took four large loads to 2nd-hand book stores. Sad, maybe got $100 for them. Really miss the books but I did get to keep my civil War and Charles Major collections.

Moving is so much fun. I kept the “sliders” under the living room furniture for over a year. Lost count how many times we re-arranged. “Sliders” are wonderful.

We did purchase several new pieces of furniture. Smaller. I have to say, and I hope she hears, Linda has done a fantastic job decorating our home. It is really comfortable. Now I hope we have bought the last major piece. Got a new mattress and box springs last week. WOW, can’t believe the difference that has made.

As time goes by I will share the things we love about living here. This was one of the best decisions we ever made.