Passing the Buck – What Is the Meaning of These Slang Words?

Start the day with a little fun. See if you know the answers to these questions.

Start the day with a little fun. See if you know the answers to these questions?

How do familiar slang words get their start?  For a little fun, let’s see if you know the meaning of these:

Pass the Buck:  Meaning:  Giving responsibility to someone else.  In the frontier of America, poker players would pass a buckhorn handled knife from player to player to show whose turn it was to deal.

From Soup to Nuts:  Means everything.  Listing the first and last courses of a meal indicates the whole deal.  This phrase became soup to nut because many meals began with soup and ended in a dessert with nuts.

On Cloud Nine:  Means having a feeling of well being or euphoria.  Came about when the U.S. weather bureau divided cloud formations into nine categories.  Cloud Nine is higher than any other.

Murphy’s Law:  If something can go wrong, it will.  This slang expression is named for an engineer on a U.S. military project that went wrong during testing.

Come hell or high water:  Means to go forward despite the obstacles.  Came about in the U.S. when cattlemen drove their herds through high water at every river and the hell in between.

Knuckle down:  Get to work and do your best.  The term comes from the game of marbles.  The knuckle has to be on the ground exactly at the spot where your previous marble ended up.

Three Dog Night.  This is a good one!  It means a night that is very cold.  It was often said when cowboys were out on the range.  They often slept with their dogs to keep warm.  A three-dog night means a very cold night.

Buying the farm.  This means to die.  If a soldier was killed in combat in WWII, his family was given a death benefit that was enough money to pay off their mortgage of the family farm.

Everything but the kitchen sink.  Means everything imaginable.  Expression came during WWII when everything possible was need to contribute to the war effort.  The only object left out was the porcelain kitchen sink.

Add This To Your Bucket List

I enjoy the taste of lingonberries.  They are especially yummy in the perfect crepe crust.

I enjoy the taste of lingonberries. They are especially yummy in the perfect crepe crust.

Breakfast is my favorite meal. It can be served on a ship, in a campground, at a five-star restaurant in Paris or at the Old European Restaurant in Spokane, WA.

When I remember all the foreign countries in which I’ve had the good karma to have had breakfast, the good memories of travel return just thinking about the food that was served.

Breakfast in England, Russia or Turkey have their reasons to visit but food isn’t one of them.

Ah, Paris. The fragrance of sipping coffee with cream and a delicate pastry as you sit at a sidewalk café watching the dogs and their owners go by is mighty fine.

In Bergen, Norway, the multi-course breakfast on the top of a hotel that catered to Americans, ranks right up there. I started with two bowls of oatmeal, went back for a couple of the breakfast egg casseroles, added breads and pastry, and continued to plow through the many other courses.

“How can you eat like this?” Asked my mother when we were there following our experience in Russia. “I must be starving. This food is so good.”

“So many people have come and gone,” continued my mother who wasn’t at all fond of leaving because she didn’t like walking up and down all the steps in Bergen.

I wish she were still here so that I could take her to Old European Breakfast House in Spokane. She may have liked the Dutch Babies, a Benedict (a toasted muffin topped with two medium cooked eggs and hollandaise sauce), or the orange rolls, which incidentally the Davenport Hotel also does so well.

From time to time, I’ll write a review for TripAdvisor. We were just in Spokane to pick up Bud’s new historical fiction, Courage Beyond Expectation, and had time to drop in for breakfast at Old European.

When having breakfast at Old European, it felt as if we were traveling again. Once again, I was having lingonberries as I once did in Stockholm. Perhaps Bud was remembering being in Germany and having potato pancakes.

Ah, food. When it’s prepared with fresh ingredients and is of the best quality, there’s nothing like the enjoyment it offers.

Here’s to breakfast!

Everyday Magic

Ah, this is the way to simplicity's sweetness.

Ah, this is the way to simplicity’s sweetness.

“What are you going to do once you get settled in after you move here?” my neighbor, Fred, asked a man coming to our forested mountains from Florida.

“Watch the snow fall. Enjoy seeing it snow.”

“But winter can last six months here,” said Fred.

Maybe the newcomer knows something of the art and beauty of the Japanese culture. They appreciate viewing things we Westerners take for granted.

One woman in Kyoto has made a small pavilion in her garden so she has the best view of snow falling. Often she invites friends and they sit in silence, sipping a cup of the special sake brewed exclusively for snow viewing. The sake is beaten up with a raw egg to enhance the look of the land under snow.

This is the same refinement of appreciation they give to moon viewing. In one scene in the movie Shogun (James Clavill’s novel),
Blackthorne is invited to watch the moon come up. His attention will be on the moon, no conversation necessary. Everyone invited to the moon-viewing night will be fully occupied watching how the light falls over the countryside, the play of clouds, the growing light of the night-studded star sky. Japanese homes often have a moon-viewing window.

Wouldn’t you love attending an incense smelling gathering where an expert lights different pieces of wood to give you an appreciation for a new-cut piece of cedar versus one of a piece years old?

This leads me to take time out to mention that we who write must also take time to appreciate the people who read our work. They offer as unique an appreciation of art and beauty and in as creative of a way as if they were “snow” or “moon” watching when they glimpse a bit of the author’s soul beneath their words.

Once you latch onto the concept of simple simplicity, it can bring unexpected depth of daily life. The smallest detail can offer such sweet simplicity.

Perhaps I’ll have a “snow-viewing” party, serve white eggnog and white wine. A moon-viewing gathering wouldn’t work out the same if your home is set too deeply in the woods and there is no window through which to see the moon.

The Top l0 Questions I Have This Fall

It's Fall!

l) What will touring with husband’s new historical fiction, Courage Beyond Expectations, be like? What will we learn?

2) The white blossoms on the Anasizi beans, will they turn into beans?

3) What other surprises lurk when dismantling the garden?

4) Will the deep frosts of fall take place AFTER the yellow flowers of squash plants issue vegetables?

5) Will Alfie, the cat, have another encounter with a wily packrat? (A standoff took place recently in the afternoon. In the Lazy Bee barnyard, Alfie and a packrat faced each other l0 feet apart; the first to move would lose their life. Husband had time to get a gun, load it and get off the shot that killed the horrible critter. Alfie was said to have jumped up ten feet in the air.)

6) What will the next fundraiser be for Friends of Fire District #10. The recent auction at the picnic raised $700 for 20 pies. Can we take it to a higher PIE level? Or chose to put on a different fundraiser?

7) Will the normal rains of fall during the first week of September bring relief to firefighters and those of us who live in the forests of WA. State?

8) Now that the ms. of Casanova Cowboy is ready for edit, what will be the setting of my next novel?

9) Will it be one about a white-collar criminal? The love story of an older homeless couple? A mystery set in a family who rent out two rooms in their house?

l0) What will turn out to be the most fun? Surely, it won’t be the decluttering of cabinets, even if that does bring a weird kind of joy.

What’s Uber?

Rent Your Car

A few hours to spare, a newer car or an extra room in your home, you, too, might want to be a Uber driver or Airbnb host.

Travis Kalanick, CEO, of a business that started in 2012, denies his company is a glorified cab company. He wants to ignore the red tape of rules, regulations and taxes burdening existing cab and limo companies.

His company uses cars of personal drivers who want to drive a few hours in a day. People like this because fares are cheaper.

Anyone who qualified after a background check, a clean driver’s record, a newer car and who is savvy about the local area can be a driver for as many hours a week as they wish.

Last year when Uber did a survey of these drivers they learned the following:
. That the drivers like the flexibility.
. 80% are employed but only 55% have full-time work.
. A quarter worked part-time and 8% were not working.
. The others who weren’t counted were renters, students,
or stay-at-homes.

. l0% have post graduate degrees.
. 36.0% have college degrees.
. 40% some college.
. 9.2% high school.
. 3% less than high school.

Most are between 30 to 50 years old, where typical taxi and limo drivers are baby boomers or older.

Uber drivers like that they can drive on a – just-in-time basis. Most employed won’t know their schedules week-to-week. Most are early-married or married with small children. 71% of drivers support dependents and 46% have kids at home.

“While there will always be ambitious people who choose to work more, it seems most likely that many Uber drivers wouldn’t be on the road if their primary source of employment paid enough to meet their needs.

“There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people desperate to grow their income, but can’t seem to get ahead the way their parents and grandparents did,” says Harry Dent.

Uber has competitors now – Lyft and Cabulous who may force Uber to drive down its fees. A court in California recently ruled that a Uber driver was an employer. The case is on appeal.

And, then, in our U.S. sharing economy there is Airbnb for those who rent out their homes.

It’s getting tougher for cities or states economies because they miss potential revenue. Uber reportedly has 160,000 driver-partners who gave at least four trips in 2014.

Says Harry Dent, “We’re going from a time where everyone has to own one of each to a point where lots of things can be traded for a fee-for-service and the result will be less waste.”

The Western Grange clubs used to do this with farmers sharing tractors and other equipment.

Tony Robbins, in his new book, Master Money, gives the best
insight here: “Invest in yourself. Learn and improve. Fill a need that everyone wants but no one is doing.”

I mentioned such a need to my dental hygienist who had to have another person there to take down the numbers. “Wouldn’t it be great some day IF you could have a little device on your wrist and just speak the numbers into it.” Great idea she said.

Look for a need and then make it happen and you’ll be doing better than your Grandpa!

My Easygoing Family

Phil Hockett, an East High school friend of my brother's wrote this essay about our family.

Phil Hockett, an East High school friend of my brother’s wrote this essay about our family.

The Packeys were not a typical family, at least in the sense of being ordinary. They played cards almost constantly.

Easygoing captures their way of life and I shall demonstrate:
(Scene: The Packey kitchen, about five in the evening. Mrs. Packey is busy preparing supper when the door opens and Brother John enter.)
Mrs. Packey: You’re home early, Jack. How come?
Brother John: I lost my job.
Mrs. Packey: Oh, you did? Well, sit down and rest. Supper will be ready soon.”

Notice that Mrs. Packey did not ask why brother John had lost his job and that he was not the least bit hesitant in telling her that he had lost it, probably because he knew that no questions would be asked and that by the next morning it would be forgotten that he had even had a job.

The family seemed to issue out of Wisconsin. I don’t know whether all three children were born there or not. Where the good people went from Wisconsin and how they got to Des Moines I don’t know.

What they liked, I did not, and vice versa. After a little time, I realized that I was going to have to start liking what they liked. I learned several card games, with the exceptions of cribbage and pinochle and of course bridge; then I broadened my tastes in respect to a few other things.

If the Packeys were to move away suddenly, probably the only thing I would be left with would be a rather sick heart and a long face. I learn that the family name was originally Klepacki, not Packey. Klepac is the Polish infinitive meaning “to hammer” or to “flatten,” and that the first Klepackis doubtless had something to do with hammers, either making them or using them in some way.

They were a more or less wandering family, but it also seemed, whether I had been there or not, that that had given to each of their temporary homes an air of being lived in. By that I mean making it seem as if they had lived there for a long time, enjoying one another’s company and life in general.

In my association with them, I heard quite a few names which I call “People I Always Hear About But Never See.” Perhaps the most prominent name was ‘Doris,” Jack’s girl friend. whenever I was at the Packeys and Jack was not there, he was seeing Doris. “Jack is with Doris tonight” . . . “I think jack is seeing Doris.”
Another name was Jurtz. He was a German sea captain who figured somewhere in Mrs. Packey’s ancestry. Another name was ‘Grandpa Hall.’ the only thing I learned about him was that he could play cribbage, and that he wasn’t a gradfather at all. Then came a group called ‘the Rholfs, and they lived someone up north. Then, there was my friend’s sister, JoAnn. I had seen her picture but the idea that I could really converse with such an attractive girl, gave me gosh bumps.

I did meet her and that’s why I’m writing this little essay. It’s because when she heard that I want to be a writer, she asked me to write something about her family.

I realized that morning how very content every one was in the Packey family. Everything was in complete harmony. On this morning, Jo Ann was writing a note to each of her brothers telling them to do the dishes when they got up, and upon finishing the notes, she asked for “Daddy Joe” to write his signature at the bottom, to make it more authentic. Bring a practical person, he saw no reason for this, but consented.

Over the whole thing there hovered what the Polish language so beautifully describes with the word jednosc.

I can only put in what I have seen of them and what I knew about them. Jo Ann loved her family; I merely enjoyed them. I had an obligation to a lady so no matter how pallid the result, with good intent I finish it. Enough has been said.

Decluttering a Secret Hiding Place

This blog is about storing your most precious items.  You may not have as many boxes as shown here.

This blog is about storing your most precious items. You may not have as many boxes as shown here.

Most of us have one: a trunk, hope chest, decorative box, or, even a can. Into these, we store “precious” things.

My son, John, uses the U.S. air force Academy box provided its cadets. Gina keeps hers in a cedar chest. Gretchen, a tin container.

Mine are in a 1840’s wood trunk carried from Sweden to Rush City, MN., by my great, great grandfather John Westlund. It is cherry wood and carved with his initials next to the huge iron lock. The key is made of iron and is four inches and made of iron. It is hidden away in the secret compartment of a jewelry box given to me by Fred Hauflin who made it as a Christmas gift.

We put things in these containers but seldom, if ever, do we take one out. It is a HARD task to face taking something out or to declutter one. Looking through my truck, I found a collection of diaries. They began in the third grade. The little five-year diary was picked up after a few entries and began again in high school.

That’s when I really picked up journal writing. I happened to read a few pages and learned that I was l09 pounds and I hated that boys would call me “red.” I am working after school and on Saturday at Silvers Dept. Store in East Des Moines, Iowa, tagging product in the basement and selling shoes upstairs on Saturdays.

I go to at least two double-feature shows a week, take piano lessons, name the boys who phone, walk with me between classes in the hall, or come to the house to wipe the dishes I must do as my chore every day.

I love it when my Dad brings me a new recording, or when I hope to make the East High Quill yearbook staff. I am to be a junior so both to-be juniors and seniors are eligible to write an essay. At an all-school assembly, I am named to the staff. Although I am happy, a certain other girl is not happy that I’ve won and she didn’t.

It’s below zero a lot in Des Moines and my walk to school is over a mile so I stop in a corner drug store to warm up. I’m glad I get l’s in history. I learn I might like to be a reporter some day. My typing score is 36 words per minute without error (when I graduate, it is l00 wpm).

For a while, it felt like being l5 years old again.

God’s Tips for Getting the Most Out of Life


If God was writing this post, he’d give you tips for getting the most out of life. I’m pretty sure about this because I’ve read Dr. Eben Alexander’s book, “Proof of Heaven.”

In that book, God shows us what a sublime adventure we’re going to have after we die.

God would say, “Look, I’ve given you a beautiful earth on which to live if you’re not be too busy to see it, the challenges which put you into situations so you’ll learn and grow, and, people who will help you along the way.”

People who seem to have extra-ordinary success know the law of attraction and know that their thoughts do create the reality of their life.

The highest and best way to live is to take each moment in your life and to life it fully. If you do this, you won’t miss the small and wonderful things that come your way.

Choose to be happy. All the while, death is waiting. Dr. Alexander shows us that if we live every experience fully, then death takes nothing from us, although it does change everything.

Dr. Alexander, a brain surgeon, unexpectedly lay in a coma, not expected to live. His family gathered around his bedside, prayed, sang and talked to him. During his visit to the exquisite time beyond, as a professional physician he tried hard to remember his experiences in heaven.

(Fran, a lovely doctor who I met recently at Washington University, wrote her thesis on the importance and significance of family being with you during at such a time as Dr. Alexander’s. She actually has met the doctor/writer.)

When he slowly returned from the coma, his son gave him the best advice anyone can give a writer. “Dad,” he said, “Don’t tell me. Write it down.”

Enjoying life’s experiences, however good or bad, is the rational thing to do. You’re here. Be filled with joy and let things you dream come true. Victor Frankl was even able to do so in a Nazi death camp and lived to write about it in “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

If God were speaking, he’d say, “The greatest gift anyone can give me is to be pleased with my creation.”

I believe he likes to hang out with a person who does.

Baked Oatmeal Recipes

She thinks you'll love this blog.

She thinks you’ll love this blog.

Oatmeal is thought of as a simple breakfast dish. These two recipes have the potential to prepare it for a high-class buffet or special guests.

My son, Tony, likes to move through life fast as possible so he just uses the packets from a box and pours over the hot water. He’ll be visiting the Lazy Bee in two weeks so this will be served along with the rhubarb pies and crisps he loves.

This “Old-Family” recipe is from the recipe boxes of Barb, Becky and Liz who bake it for family visits.


2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (to add later)

Mix all ingredients together in an 8 inch square pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Remove and spread the brown sugar over the top. Return to over and melt 2-3 minutes under the broiler until bubbling.

This second recipe reminds me of an elderly guest I had at Hillside House, my B&B in Spokane. A memorable person because of the fact she had a harrowing escape from the Nazis. She said, “I’ve been making oatmeal a lifetime and this is the best I’ve had.”
I wonder how she’d like this oatmeal made in a crockpot.


1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, beaten
2 cups dry quick oats
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk

Pour the oil into a slow cooker and grease the bottom and sides.
Add the ingredients and mix well.
Bake on low for two and one half hours.

Resplendent Beauty

Ti-Pees are like a poem.  They bring great pleasure.

Ti-Pees are like a poem. They bring great pleasure.

“I’ve never been inside one of these before,” she said reclining comfortably within the just put-up ti-pee. I’ve always wanted to see what one is like inside.  This feels so soothing.  Makes me want to sit here a long time just doing nothing.”

Ti-pees in the opinion of my guest, as well as others, agree that they have an elusive beauty.  Perhaps once inside one, there is something that flits quickly as the special feeling that comes when two people are saying their wedding vows, one that’s quivery and brings a glow that has depth, meaning and joy.

The whiteness of its tall grandeur as it stands resplendently within the forest makes you want to see what the inside.  The quality of first sight of the interior is not easily expressed. In fact, it’s not what you’ve anticipated at all.  It’s certainly more spacious inside than it appears when viewed from the outside.  Once inside, they have an unexpected calm presence.

They come in many sizes.  The one at the Lazy Bee is neither too small or too large.  It’s looks just right as it takes its place in the forest as it creates a magical space place. both inside and out.

The hard to define moment upon first sight of its interior might be comparable to smelling fragrance of

Photo can't capture its inner beauty.  Venturing inside does the trick.

Photo can’t capture its inner beauty. Venturing inside does the trick.

sheets just brought in from the clothes line, perhaps the lingering sweet taste of lobster, or the sight of a mother speaking softly to a little child.  Defining moments.

A ti-pee is like a poem in its pleasantness either from a distance or when sitting within. The softness of the spell it can cast brings surprising joy into a stressful world.