Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Little Meals On Wheels Story

The Meals on Wheels program has been all over the news for the past few weeks or so as it faces possible budget cuts under the new regime in the White House. The proposed cuts would eliminate two block grants that help provide funding for Meals on Wheels, as well as slashing the Department of Health and Human Services budget, a major source of funding for Meals on Wheels programs, which themselves are not federal programs but are run by independent groups and annually feed 2.4 million home bound senior citizens a hot meal five days a week. Call or write to your senators and representative and implore them to vote to keep this program funded. Go ahead, do it right now. I'll wait....

... Now that that bit of housekeeping is done, I have to tell you a personal Meals on Wheels story.

My mom was a longtime Meals on Wheels volunteer. She began delivering meals shortly after she and my dad moved to the little town of Nevada in 1979, and she continued to do it for well over 20 years, including serving on the Board. Volunteers typically delivered meals one day a week in teams of two, and over the years, various family members would get roped into going with my mom to help deliver meals when her delivery partner was unavailable. 

My mom enjoyed delivering meals. Many of her friends delivered, too, and they would laugh and talk as they were getting their meals ready to deliver. The Nevada program was run from the hospital at that time, and the volunteers would get the hot meals (which were in styrofoam carryout containers) for their route from the kitchen and load them into coolers and get sacks with condiments, bread, plastic cutlery and the like for each person. Once they were loaded, each team delivered the meals on their route, then returned the empty coolers to the hospital kitchen. It was a process that took about an hour or so. 

The only thing about being a Meals on Wheels volunteer that she disliked was when it was her week to have the "dratted book." When it was your turn to have the book (dratted or otherwise), you were responsible for finding substitutes when needed and for making reminder phone calls to the deliverers ("regulars" usually didn't require reminder calls), and you had to be at the hospital kitchen every day that week to make sure all routes were covered (and was another reason family members might have gotten called to action).

Occasionally, my mom would mention an upcoming estate auction she was looking forward to, because she "delivered Meals to this woman, and she had some beautiful antiques." Of course, we didn't hesitate to jokingly accuse her of being a Meals on Wheels volunteer only so she could scope out the antiques, but the truth was, she enjoyed doing a service that was so obviously necessary. In fact, it meant life or death for some people who received meals, as it was most likely the only real meal they ate (and the meals were usually substantial enough that a recipient could eat half for lunch and half for supper). 

When delivering meals, one partner would drive and the other would run the food to the house, and one particular day, my mother was the one carrying the food. At this time, one of the stops on their weekly route was at a senior housing facility consisting of one story duplexes with small yards and a common parking lot in front of them. When the car stopped in the parking lot, my mom climbed out and got the styrofoam box containing the meal out of the cooler. She was carrying it across the parking lot, holding it with one hand on the hinged side while she carried the paper bag of condiments with the other hand, and didn't notice the concrete parking stop until she tripped over it and went flying into the little yard of freshly cut grass. 

Trouper that she was, my mom managed to keep a hold on the styrofoam box, landing on the ground with the box in her outstretched arm. From the car, her friend called out, "Are you okay?! Are you okay?!" 

"I think so," she said as she struggled to get up. Then she looked at the box she was carrying and saw that all the food had shot to the front of the box, and some of it was sticking out of the opening. "The food's all squished to one side, and some of it's coming out of the box."

"Poke it back in," said her friend, so my mom poked it back in and went to the door. 

The elderly woman who was receiving the meal was practically blind and very hard of hearin, and when my mom would deliver to her, she would set the meal up for the woman on the table and lay out all the condiments, then my mom would tell her what was in the container.

As the woman sat down at the table, my mom opened the container and saw the jumbled mess of food and shouted, "Well, your chicken is here, and your potatoes are here and..." she stopped when she realized that along with the vegetables (mixed with some of the potatoes and a little gravy), there were also a few grass clippings.

So what did she do about it? She salted and peppered the woman's food, helped her with her napkin, arranged her bread and dessert, and scurried out the door to the car.

There is no real moral to this story. My mom continued to deliver Meals on Wheels for many years. She never again tripped over the parking stop in the Senior Citizen housing parking lot. She continued to hate the "dratted book" until she finally resigned from her duties for health reasons.

If you have some time in your schedule, you might want to try your hand at delivering Meals on Wheels to a home bound senior citizen in need of a hot meal and a some interaction with the outside world. I guarantee this story will cause you to walk very carefully as you make your deliveries.  Try it and see!

p.s.: Your local Meals On Wheels will also gladly accept your monetary donations.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Killing Some Time

Just because I haven't been blogging (or FINISHING blogging; case in point, this post), doesn't mean I haven't been DOING things that may or may not be blog-worthy (case in point, this post...).  

In January, the College Boy and I went on a couple of adventures (I do love an adventure). First, we went to Oklahoma City. It was cold. And windy (it's always windy in Oklahoma - you know the song, "Ooooooklahoma where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain" and they ain't a-kiddin'). I had several hours to kill while College Boy was at his appointment, I didn't want to hang out at a mall, so I went to the zoo

A week later, we made a little trip to Omaha. In January. When a massive ice storm was predicted, as in wild-eyed meteorologists speaking of power outages and impassible roads across the entire mid-section of the country. He needed to be in Omaha on a Saturday morning, and we planned to drive up the Friday afternoon before and return home on Sunday. Then Icemageddon 2017 was forecast and our plans had to change (and no, we could not change the appointment and yes, I will explain why at a later date - be patient). I had already made arrangements to rent a car that got better gas mileage than my Sequoia (there's a reason it's named after a tree), and man, I was ready! I had that little car stuffed to the gills with sleeping bags, water, healthy snacks (plus M&Ms, because, come on), blankets, a bag of kitty litter (for traction), ice scrapers, heavy coats and boots, plus our luggage for a three day trip. 

(Interesting factoid: the College Boy was not allowed to drive the rental car, because you must be 25 years old to do so. Kid you not. He can vote. He can go to war. He can drink legally. He can BUY a car. He cannot, however, RENT a car. Go figure.)

We hit the road and got to Omaha late Thursday night. The College Boy's appointment wasn't until Saturday morning. Do you know what you do when you have a whole day to kill in Omaha in January? You guessed it - we went to the zoo.

Omaha has an AH-MAZ-ING zoo - the Henry Doorly Zoo, and if you ever have a reason to go to Omaha, you MUST pay it a visit. We visited it about 8 years ago on a trip to Colorado (and if you want to take a minute a look at a map to see how very NOT on the way that is from Southwest Missouri, you will see why you should make an effort to go there if you ever get a chance).

I had never been to a zoo in the winter before (and now have been to two within a week), and I will tell you that you will pretty much have the place to yourself when it's 22 degrees with a windchill of 14 degrees, but here's a few things I learned from my two zoo trips:

Zoos smell much better in the winter than in the summer.

College Boy HAAAATES getting his picture taken,
selfie or otherwise. Especially selfie.

I understand animals like elephants and lions and giraffes being taken off exhibit and put somewhere warm during the winter, but that pansy ass grizzly bear had absolutely no excuse.

You see a grizzly? No, no, you don't.

I have always been more concerned with wearing a cute coat than in being warm, and now that I have bought the warmest coat I have ever owned, I see just how really stupid that line of reasoning has been. Bonus: the coat is cute.

Some animals are cute and some are ugly and some are fierce and some look like a cartoon illustration.


Not exactly cute.

Fierce. Him, not me.


Cats are cats. Some will kill you and eat you, but all of them like nothing better than sitting in a box.

Giraffes deserve their own door.

Look closely. People door on left, giraffe door on the right.

Shhh! They're still getting used to their indoor digs.

I can't speak for all baboons, but I'm pretty darn attractive to one of them.

Parts of him showed his love for me more
than other parts....

The look of love.

Henry Doorly Zoo is known for their gorillas. Here's one now.

College Boy: But what if I drop my cellphone? Then what?

Gotta be a ninja to take a picture of him.

And the ice storm of the century? Didn't happen, or at least not where it was predicted. We made it home with nary a drop of freezing rain. Ate all the M&Ms and most of the healthy snacks on the drive home. And my favorite zoo animal was waiting for me when I got home.

My Nora Pearl loves me more
than that baboon ever could.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


2016 did not play nicely. It took away my mama and my beloved precious kitten Ruby. Several friends have lost a parent this year, including two very recently. And I'm not even going to talk about the election.

But the worst part is I have lost some of my motivation to write. And I hate it. 

I WANT to write. An idea will flash through my brain, but before I can grab it, it slips through my fingers, like trying to catch smoke with my hands. 

It's not just blogging, either. I feel as though my brain is like an old electrical outlet that I remember from my childhood. Too many cords, all of them cloth-covered and some of them frayed, plugged into my brain, which then overheats and shuts down. So far, I haven't completely blown a fuse or caused a fire, but it could happen.

With the beginning of a new year (okay, beginning plus a month and a half), I'm going to do my best to rewire all those cords, maybe even plug them into a fancy surge protector instead of an extension cord. A few of those cords might not even be needed anymore. I think I'll unplug them one at a time and see what happens (lights flicker ominously...).

My first step in the rewiring process is that I have stepped down as host of Ten Things of Thankful. I've been a lousy host for months now, not writing OR reading posts, but by officially unplugging that cord, I will no longer feel a little shock when I brush past it.

2017 is going to bring plenty of things to write about. I have one kid graduating from high school and one from college. I'm going to participate in the A to Z Challenge again this year. I'm planning to go on some adventures. And there's Nora. Oh, that Nora!

Soon, I will write. 

Linking up with Ten Things of Thankful