Monday, January 8, 2018

Who Mentioned You?





  It seems that there is never a lack of material to draw on here in the Botts household.  We've been blessed with a grand sense of humor and we make use of it often. Of course that same humor means that on occasion we have to make fun of each other when the situation warrants it. I believe I've covered this topic before, but I will refresh your memory. One night while visiting his older sister Jen, my son Ben looked up and saw her slouched in  a kitchen chair wearing a shirt that said "Who mentioned you?" He was somewhat perplexed by such a rude remark and thought it was out of character for Jen so  he confronted her. She had no idea what he was speaking of until she looked down at her shirt and realized it was something that she had received from the Big Brother's /Big Sister's organization. Not exactly the kind of  welcoming message you want to portray to needy children. With that mindset, why not have a shirt that says " Who invited you?" or "Who cares what you say?" Fortunately, what the shirt actually said was "Who mentored you?" That makes a lot more sense, but it's not nearly as funny. It became a kind of family joke, and to say the least, I was pleasantly surprised when one of the gifts I received this year was a "Who mentioned you?" t-shirt from my daughter Autumn. That's her in the bottom picture with the sweatshirt that says "Cold air,don't care". She was modeling a pair of leggings, showing me how stretchy they are.I don't understand the whole leggings thing. Aren't they just extra stretchy pajama bottoms? Is it just an excuse to wear your PJ"s out in public? I guess people don't really need an excuse to do that now, because in today's society, apparently it's acceptable to wear the same duds you went to bed with to the store or the post office. It doesn't set well with me, but I guess I'm old fashioned.I suppose that there could be an upside to wearing leggings.I'm not sure what it would be, but what do I know? They don't make leggings for men do they? Lordy, I hope not. I don't want to see a set of those things balled up in my Christmas stocking. For now I'm content to wear Carhartts or blue jeans and an extra large t-shirt that insults the viewer.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Pucker Up!!




Lots of people collect things- coins, books, stamps, you name it. My daughter Camille likes to collect nail polish apparently. Last time I saw her she had enough to treat the toenails of every circus elephant in the world and still have some left.I used to collect comic books when I was young. Back then they only cost a very reasonable twelve cents each. A fellow I knew in grade school used to receive three cents a week for allowance. At the end of the month he had enough to go buy a comic book.How pathetic. His first name was Hampton and he seemed kind of like a three cent a week fellow. He's probably worth millions now. Anyway, displayed in the above picture is a varied assortment of lip balms. They belong to my daughter Jen. I'm not sure if they qualify as an actual collection, because she uses them all. In fact I think she's addicted to lip balm. She let me keep her stash overnight and the next morning she was getting kind of panicky because she claimed her lips were drying out and getting chapped. I find that hard to believe. Unless she had a 1200 watt hair dryer stationed directly over her mouth and turned on full bore, I don't think they could possibly dry  out for the next six weeks or more. She can't go more than a few minutes without reaching in to her pocket and applying a liberal smear of balm to those sun baked lips. Just this Christmas alone she ended up with I think six different lip products- no lipstick, just balms. Lets see, there's Fruit Smoothie, Berry Explosion, Melon Medley, Peaches and Cream and Triple Tropical which I believe are Blistex products. Blistex. I don't think I would have chosen that for a name of a product that I wanted people to believe would be beneficial to the well being of my mouth. It sounds like if you used it you'd get lip blisters. Guess it must work though. She's also got some stuff in a round tin that says Lip Shit. That too doesn't sound like something that I would care to apply to any area of my body. However, the name is catchy, so who knows. The round, purple thing  that looks kind of like R2-D2 is made by EOS or maybe that's what it's called. I couldn't find any more information on it. When you take off the lid there's a round ball inside that I assume is covered in some magical feel  good stuff for your lips. It reminds me of the ball that used to be part of the roll on deodorants people used. There's some Diamond Lip Treatment in the pink tube, some Alaskan Naturals Vanilla Moose Moose Lips Alaskan Size lip balm, some Honey House vanilla berry lip butter- at first I thought it said Honkey House, but I was wrong, some Perfectly Posh caffeinated lip balm that says Lip service 24/7 sweet lemon chiffon, and last but not least some stuff that Jan bought for her that is shaped like a green candy cane. It only mentions that it was made in China, so I'd be leery of using that stuff. Anyway, when it comes to protection for her lips, I think Jen will be covered for awhile.No doubt hundreds of years from now, should grave robbers raid her coffin, all they would find would be a skeleton with lips. Empty eye sockets and a pair of plump lips. What a sight.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Who Needs A Savior?



Christmas is just a week away. Like many people in the country, especially here in Alaska where mail can be hard to send or receive because of weather, I'm waiting for some gifts to arrive. I ordered in plenty of time, but competition for space on the cargo planes or mail trucks or however the packages get transported is at an all time high, so I'm waiting and hoping they get here in a timely manner. Unless you're buying a random gift for someone you don't really care about, like the fellow whose name you drew from the hat for the office Christmas party, you probably want to give a gift that means something. If you love someone, you spend a little time searching for something that they want or need.We want to give them something that shows we care. If we, in all our flaws and weaknesses care, how much more does God care? There was a slogan some years back, I can't recall the business, I think it was the FTD florists. The slogan was- When you care enough to send the very best.That pretty much sums up Christmas. Our heavenly father didn't hold anything back. He sent His very best. John 3:16 states-For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Everlasting life. It's the ultimate gift. You can't order it on Amazon or drive down to the mall to pick it up, but it's available if you want it. You can't buy it. All the money in the world wouldn't be enough. You can't earn it. There's no way you could be good enough. All you have to do is receive it. I'm reminded of that Far Side cartoon, by Gary Larson. It shows God in the kitchen. On the shelf there are assorted boxes;birds and insects and krill. The earth is in a pan on the stove and God has a salt shaker that says Jerks. He's giving it a pretty good shake. The caption is-"Just to make it interesting." I always laugh when I think of it, perhaps because I can relate. When it comes to being a jerk, I guess I'd have a place in the Jerk Hall of Fame. The sorry part is, I wouldn't be alone. I'd have lots of company. We don't even have to turn on the news or purchase a newspaper to see first hand the results of turning from God. It's apparent right in our own towns. You don't have to look too hard. The title for this blog post is Who needs a savior? The answer is, I do, and I would venture to say you do too. I hope that in all the busyness of the season, you will take some time to reflect on what Christmas is really about. It's truly something to celebrate. I wish all of you a blessed Christmas.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Decorating- Alaskan Style







 For the first ten years that I lived in Alaska, the only way that I was aware that it was Christmas was to look at the calendar, or perhaps take a trip into town during December. The farm, where I lived, was run by a Christian organization that didn't celebrate Christmas. At least not all the outward appearances that are so common in the country today. We had no trees indoors, except for the ones we cut down and chopped up for firewood. There were no decorations or gifts or fancy dinners. There was nothing to distinguish Christmas from any other day of the year. On the one hand I could understand the doctrine. The commercialization of Christmas that is so prevalent now bears little resemblance to the reason we celebrate the holiday. For so many people Christmas is a time of great stress- too much busyness, too much pressure, too much money spent, and for some, too much time spent alone. All that being said, here in the North country, the nights are long and cold, and Christmas provides us with a good reason to dress up our homes and businesses with tinsel and lights and ornaments. It's nice to pass by a place that has some colored lights in the window and some streamers of garland draped around the tree.  When I came to town to live, I decided that it would be fun to decorate the house a little. For thirty years, more or less, we've strung garland and lights on the front porch and hung lights and tinsel in the windows. It breaks the monotony and drabness of a dark winter night. Here in Hoonah I've seen homes with the outdoor lights still strung up well into March and beyond. More power to them I guess. I was out at the Forest Service building and one of the employees decided to add a little Christmas cheer to the usual displays. As you can see, in place of a mantle to hang a stocking, there is the open mouth of a small brown bear. I hope Santa exercises caution when he goes to fill it. An art project from some of the local kids is dressed up with a few Christmas bows, and the display of bear skulls has a ribbon of green garland framing it. Up above the cross tree on a troller down at the marine storage facility, a bald eagle serves as a sort of tree topper. Even the dog gets dressed up this time of year when it gets cold and snowy outside. He's wearing his ugly sweater, complete with little jingle bells that go tinkling with every step he takes. His biggest challenge is to keep from peeing on his sweater when he lifts his leg. Apparently the sweater is a little big. As he was walking  through the snow on his way to sniff out another dog's marking, he stepped on the back of the sweater and ended up walking out of it, right through the collar. I guess he needs something a little smaller, but kids, please don't send him any more. He's got a pumpkin suit upstairs in the closet as well as a red rain coat- neither of which he cares for. If he wasn't so old I'd try to get him a hot dog bun sweater, like the wiener dogs in the Heinz commercial, but I don't want to humiliate the poor fellow. In any event, I hope that you'll take some time this year to go out and enjoy the light displays that your neighbors have set up.  If you're with the electric company, I hope you'll be giving out generous bonuses and if you're just a schmuck like me who likes to decorate the house, thanks for making Christmas a little brighter.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Mom






   I received a call from my older brother, Mark on Monday night. Our mother, Barbara Jean Botts succumbed to the disease that had been plaguing her for several years. It was a call that I both dreaded and almost welcomed. She's spent the last two and a half years in the memory care unit at the Kingston assisted living facility in Marion Ohio suffering with Alzheimer's Disease. I think most people are familiar with the disease and how it robs those afflicted with it of their minds and bodies over time. Towards the end she was sleeping 20-22 hours a day so that even the possibility of calling and carrying on a conversation was almost impossible. I don't want to dwell on her last days though.   For the past few days I've gone over memories from my past. The struggle to get us kids zipped up in our snow suits, and searching for gloves and hats in an overstuffed closet so we could go out in the snow and play, and ten minutes later having to deal with the whole zipper thing again because someone forgot to go pee before they left the house. The carefully wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree. It always surprised me that Santa and Mom had the same hand writing. The wonderful meals she cooked; never anything too fancy, just  good home cooking. The backyard barbeque's with friends and neighbors on a warm summer evening. Getting us ready for a night of Trick or Treating on Halloween. It seems like I was always a tramp, though I may have dressed like a woman once. It's funny what you remember.
 She was always Mom to me. The only time I ever called her Mommy was on a family excursion in Mohican State forest one fall day.We were on a hike and Dad thought it would be quicker if we left the trail and tried climbing a rather steep hill. We were slowly making our way to the top when Mom stepped on a piece of loose debris and started sliding down the hill. In a split second I had visions of her lifeless body at the bottom and a future without her. Thankfully, after about fifty feet she stopped sliding and was able to stand up. We found the trail again and made it back to the car before sundown. She was scratched and bruised, and we were all shaken up, but other than that she was fine.
 Mom was pretty low key. She seldom got dressed before noon, and spent long sessions on the phone talking to her neighbors. As was common when I grew up, Dad went to work and Mom stayed home with us kids. She always kept a neat house and more importantly, she was there when we came home, whether from school or playing in the neighborhood. I don't doubt that I caused her grief and more than a little heartache or heartburn growing up, but she never dwelt on that.
   Mom didn't learn to drive until her and Dad and my two younger brothers moved out into the country to a new house. I guess she didn't have much choice if she wanted to buy groceries or visit her friends. I think she was darn near fifty when she got her license. Dad bought her a big red Pontiac, about half the size of a school bus and it amused me to see this little woman in such a big car.
 She had a few odd habits. Mom would make four or five cups of hot tea each day, and then leave the cups half empty, scattered around the house. For reasons I never understood, she would occasionally get a desire for some crushed ice, so she would grab out a few ice cubes, hold them in her hand and smack them with the back of a butter knife so she could chew the shattered pieces. Whenever she was using ground beef for a meal she would break off a little bit and eat it raw. To the best of my knowledge she never got sick because of it. She loved playing Scrabble, and if you entered her home, it was almost certain you wouldn't be able to leave without playing a game or two. In all my years growing up at home I think I only observed her with her hair down three or four times. She always wore it up in a bun. I never asked why, it's just the way it was. One of the last times I visited her she had bought a wig that she wore. I'm not sure if it was because of thinning hair or because she didn't want to look older because of her hair turning white.
If you were to search for her name in a book of Who's Who in America, you wouldn't find it there.  She never held public office or cured a disease or ran a corporation. What she did do was to be a good wife and mother and friend and citizen. Things that really matter.
I miss her, and I suspect I will miss her for the rest of my life. Not the person who was stricken with Alzheimer's, but the Mom I grew up with. I'm glad that she's free from the confusion and fear that she experienced in her final years and that she's finally at rest. She's earned it.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mr Cookies







 I baked some chocolate chip cookies for my mother this past week. She's in an assisted living home back in Ohio, and like many elderly people, she's developed quite a sweet tooth. She never used to eat too many sugary snacks, but  time has had a way of changing all that. Anyway, I wanted to send her a little something. It wouldn't be very practical to send her down some turkey and stuffing, so I opted for some Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies. I've only baked them once before that I recall. I was baking them for Mom last year, and I had my friend Whitney, the downs syndrome fellow helping me. He had never baked them either, so it was an experience for both of us. While he was stirring the mix, he sneezed right into the bowl. We ended up sending that batch to HIS mother. Fortunately the heat from the oven must have killed any germs. I had the same problem this time that I had last time. I followed the directions to a T, but the cookies kept creeping in to each other. As I recall, the directions said to use a tablespoon of batter per cookie, which I did, but it didn't seem to matter. They were attracted to each other like the two poles of a magnet. They were almost big enough to use as targets for shotguns, like clay pigeons. The difference is that you could eat these. Actually, that's not a bad idea. If cookies were used instead of clay pigeons, after they were shot, you wouldn't have to deal with the mess. Either the birds or raccoons or some other wild animal could come and clean up afterward. They could almost be used for Frisbee's too. In fact they would probably be the perfect size for playing Frisbee golf. As you can see from the forth picture, trying to separate cookies that have an attraction for each other is very difficult. It's like breaking up  a family, very traumatic. At first I thought that I would just eat any of the broken ones. When it became apparent, after about the third giant cookie, that if I ate all the broken ones, not only would I have very few to send to Mom, but I would put on an additional few pounds that I'm trying desperately to keep off. Losing weight in Alaska in the winter is almost a joke. Not only do I spend more time inside sitting around, but I get hit with the double whammy of Thanksgiving and Christmas. To top it off, certain family members think they are showing Jan and I love by sending candy or fudge or cookies. I should send them a picture of us naked so they can see the damage that they've done. I can promise you that never again would we be the recipients of such goodies. Nothing but The Fruit of the Month Club or gym equipment for us. Back to the cookies. When I got near the end of the cookie dough, I was forced to put less on each spoon to kind of stretch it. They actually came out looking pretty good, although by comparison they seemed a little small. On the plus side though, they were easier to get off the baking sheet because I was only trying to remove one at a time. When I was trying to package them for shipment, I had to lift them en-mass into the gallon freezer bag. If I'd tried to separate them, there would have been nothing but crumbs for Mom. This way she can bite off as much as she wants. The Keebler elf I am not, but if my idea of chocolate chip clay pigeons ever catches on, I'll have a full time job in my retirement.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day 2017





Today is Veterans Day. It was first celebrated to mark the end of WWI and the Allied victory. In a number of cities across the country there are parades to honor those who have served and who are still serving in the military. A number of restaurants have chosen to honor the vets by serving free meals, including I Hop, Applebees, TGI Friday's, Outback, and Hooters. Apparently there are a number of others as well, not mentioned here. I find that admirable.  Of course, because this is America, and because millions of young men and women have made the sacrifices that it takes to serve in the military, we have enjoyed freedom in this country. That freedom even extends to those who hate the military or the government or the president or people like myself who don't agree with them. I see that Bradley (Chelsea)Manning had something degrading to say, and some students at Brown University felt the need to go around and rip up flags that were set in the ground on the campus. I don't doubt that is some of the milder stuff that has happened. Personally, I'd like to go through and rip them a new one, but they're entitled to their opinions, even as I am. As President Ronald Reagan mentioned, -if those who are protesting got the kind of government that they want, they wouldn't be able to do the things that they're doing. That fact gets lost in all the liberal teaching that is being passed off as an education on so many campuses today. It saddens and frustrates me, and I fear that one day this country will most certainly reap what it has sown and the things that they yearn for, they'll get. I would encourage them to take a good look at Venezuela to see what they can look forward to if they get what they want. In any event, this post isn't about the dissenters and anarchists, it's about the vets. Vice President Pence gave a speech today at Arlington National Cemetery, and one thing stood out to me. He mentioned that the benefits that vets receive aren't entitlements, they've been earned by the sacrifices of the vets and their families. I was very happy to hear him say that. My family has proudly served in the military down through the years, from my grandfather during WWI, to my father at the end of WWII to myself during the Vietnam War, to both of my sons. As the saying goes, freedom isn't free. So, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to my fellow vets, wherever you are. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. God bless and keep you.