Skinning a Cat

True story told to me by my husband, who lived in a small town, population 150, back during the last years of WWII.

Some of us are old enough to remember rationing of food and gasoline, and other essential items. Meat was scarce, and to have a chicken or piece of beef for Sunday dinner was a cause for celebration. Many of us became accustomed to eating squirrel and rabbit along with vegetables from our victory gardens. Back then people were self-reliant, and came up with new and creative ways to earn money.

So a young man who shall remain anonymous, even though he has since passed on, but still has family in the area, came up with the novel idea of supplying fresh meat to customers in Chicago. He began catching cats from the abundant supply, killing, skinning, packing on ice, and transporting to the “big city.” It became a booming business for him. He was telling his customers they were Rabbits, and they were enjoying fresh meat from the country.

I don’t know what finally tripped him up, I doubt it was the city people. More likely he was betrayed by someone who had a gripe against him. Anyway he was caught, fined several thousand dollars, and put on probation.  No jail time involved. Did any of those folks ever know they had been eating cats? Probably not.


Now be honest. Does that look like a rabbit to you?  Me neither. THIS is a rabbit


I ate many rabbits growing up, but Dad was raised on a farm and knew at a glance what kind of animal he was bringing home. Would I eat a cat? Only if the alternative was starvation.

Okiewife, who prefers New York steak.



Trash Pickin’

That’s what we called it when I was growing up. Now it’s called dumpster diving, or curb shopping, or any one of several other descriptive names. I just call it fun. Garage sales are in this category too, and it’s one of my favorite things to do.

Last weekend our neighbors across and down the street moved out, took their house with them.

Before improvements

They had added a nice porch, wrought iron accents, hanging plants, and some other nice touches. The best looking house in the neighborhood. And now it’s a bare lot over there. But to get back to the trash pickin’..

They put several children’s toys out by the trash barrels, and hubby asked if we could take them for our 3 year old great-granddaughter if they were dumping them.  Being nice folks they said yes, so we hauled several items home including a small battery powered 4-wheeler type vehicle, a large plastic toy box, an activity table, and a small ride-on 3 wheeler, the kind that is pushed with the feet.  Serenity will have a great time next summer. What kind of repairs are needed? Mostly soap and water, and battery recharging for the 4-wheeler. No, she won’t be allowed to ride it alone, unattended.

kiddie 4-wheeler

trash-picked toys

So, trash pickin’ can be a frugal fun thing to do. Wish I could do it more often.

okiewife, always looking for treasure in other people’s trash.

Passing the Tradition On

The year was about 1965 when the first Easy Bake ovens came on the market, my daughter was almost 8 years old and just could not imagine living without one. Let me just say she was a messy cook, but she managed to mix and bake every little packet of goodies that came with her oven. We graduated to using little dabs of whatever Mom was making, with some good results, some bad.

Easy Bake from 1965

She was thrilled to be able to “bake like Mom.” Mom wasn’t quite as thrilled with the mixing mess.

The results were good enough to be devoured as soon as they were cool enough to be picked up. Confession: the Easy Bake was one of the best toys she ever received. Thank you, Santa.

Several years later the tradition was passed to my granddaughter, Sunshine, and now it has come around again. Electra, Tx had another community wide garage sale today, and….that’s right, my great-granddaughter D’Anna found an Easy Bake oven, modern version. I talked to her on the phone this afternoon and she was baking a yellow cake (white icing to be added,) and chocolate cake was being planned for bedtime snack. They had already eaten a batch of cookies. D’Anna will be 5 this month, and her Daddy thinks she is old enough to start learning to cook. With supervision, of course. She is excited to have her own oven.

Jack said he will stock up on incandescent light bulbs for it, since our government is banning them in the near future, and those curly compact fluorescents won’t produce enough heat to bake a cake. (And they have mercury in them–dangerous stuff.)

So this is the 3rd generation of Easy Bake cooks in our family. Not an earth-shaking tradition, but it makes me smile.

okiewife, who sure would like a piece of chocolate cake, but who has given it up in the quest for lower blood sugar readings.

MYO Hand Sanitizer

Came across these simple recipes in one of my notebooks, articles I have discovered on the internet. These are so simple, and yet so effective.

Here are a few essential oils to choose from: cedar wood, lavendar, lemon, lemon grass, myrrh, neroli, patchouli, peppermint, rose, sandalwood, tea tree, clove, thyme, and ylang ylang.

Tea tree oil is the most powerful antiseptic, clove and pine oil are both disinfectant and antiseptic. A few drops of basil, rosemary, rose, lavendar, lemon, or lemon grass will lighten the scent of the tea tree oil.

Alcohol free sanitizer:

1 cup pure aloe gel                                                                                                                                                                    2 teaspoons witch hazel                                                                                                                                                           8 drops essential oil of choice

Mix well and store in a container with lid. I used an empty GermX bottle.

Alcohol based sanitizer

1/4 cup aloe gel                                                                                                                                                                         1/4 cup grain alcohol or vodka                                                                                                                                             10 drops essential oil

Mix and store in container with lid.

When using tea tree oil do not use on children or pregnant or nursing mothers. Clove or lemon oil will do the job without causing any harmful reactions. My personal preferences are clove, thyme, and rosemary.

I enjoy making my own personal care and cleaning products, and I don’t have to be concerned about all the harsh chemicals and toxins that are added to commercial products.

okiewife, who is paranoid about poison.


Tip the Waitress

Just do it. Many of these young waitresses are single mothers, either divorced or abandoned, supporting children by themselves, and struggling to make ends meet. Not everyone is waiting for a welfare handout. Some would rather be independent and self sufficient. Waitressing wages are mostly below minimum because the difference is expected by employers to be made up in tips.

Here is a short (true) story of one waitress. My husband, daughter, uncle and I were at lunch at Fred’s Famous Fish and Steak House a few months ago, and our waitress was probably early twenties, very sweet natured and helpful to us. At the next table were a grumpy old man with his wife. He was not satisfied with his meal or the service, and was very vocal about his complaints. They finally finished their meal, and he left a 50 cent tip. The waitress smiled at him and thanked him graciously.

My daughter and I looked at each other, thinking what a lovely person this waitress was.  When we left, there was $10 on our table. I hope it made up a little to her for being so nice to an old grouch.  I don’t know if he was always that way, or if he was in pain or just having a bad day, but I do not believe that is an excuse to be rude to someone else.

So when you have a meal out, tip that waitress a fair amount. Or more if you can. My family has had several members waiting tables at various times, so I know from their experiences what a tough job it can be.

You never know what a blessing a kind act can be to some young person who is trying to be a worker bee instead of a burden on society.

okiewife, just calling attention to a small life situation.

facebook fun

Sometimes facebook conversations just need to be recorded so they won’t be forgotten or lost in the archives of trivia. This one between my great-granddaughter Haley and granddaughter Sunshine seems to be a keeper.Haley

Haley at age 17,  clever, witty, sometimes sarcastic, but always with a beautiful smile.

From facebook yesterday, June 17, 2011:

Dear Mom

I’ll see you soon.  Just thought I’d let you know.

Since you didn’t already know this.

Since it makes sense to tell you on facebook.

Because I’m obsessed with facebook.

Because facebook is my only friend, and because I look better online.

I hate Brad Paisley.

Love, your best daughter,

Haley 🙂

Sunshine, the Mom

Reply from Sunshine, Haley’s Mom:

You have too much time on your hands. You must need more chores.

Okiewife, who loves being entertained by her crazy family


Remembering Dad

Dad was born in 1912, just before WWI, and grew up on a farm. He was oldest of 3 brothers and the only one to marry and have a family. He had a dry sense of humor and enjoyed teasing me, my brother, and 2 younger sisters.

Dad worked as a lineman for the REA (Illinois Rural Elecric Company) and had to fill out work order reports in the evenings. I remember him sitting at his desk one evening, I walked into the room, he looked down at my feet and said “Look at those flatboats.” and went back to paperwork. I stood looking at my size 6 shoes, not knowing whether to laugh or cry until I saw him trying to smother a grin. So I laughed, just like he intended.

Barge/flatboats on  the river

photo courtesy of photobucket

Growing up near the Illinois River, and seeing the barges going up and down the river, the insinuation was that my feet were long, wide and able to carry huge loads.

At the end of every meal Dad leaned back, looked at Mom and said, “pie, cake, cookies, donuts.” He expected to finish with dessert, no exceptions. A lot of times it was just cookies and milk. He always said he only liked two kinds of pie…hot and cold.

Dad was a smoker, starting as a young teen, and he smoked all his life. When cigarettes went over a dollar a pack he decided that was too much money, so he bought a little roll your own machine, and began making his own the easy way. By this time he had grandkids who were fascinated with the cigarette machine so he let any who wanted to help him roll a few. Mom told him many times those cigarettes would kill him (she was a nurse) and they finally did….when he was almost 90.

Dad was not raised as a Christian, but he was raised to be honest, well mannered, and respectful to his elders. (Thanks Grandma) When my brother and I were teens we accepted Christ and were baptized at our little small town church. Soon after that Mom and Dad began attending with us, and they also accepted Christ, and not long after that…his parents and two brothers  followed. Dad served as a deacon for a few years, until moving to the city. (Peoria)


Dad and Mom at a Valentine's Party

Dad passed away in December, 2001, and we still miss him. Father’s Day isn’t the same without him.

okiewife, whose parents are gone but never forgotten