Saturday, November 29, 2014

Waste Nothing

Don’t waste a bit of that turkey. After you’ve carved off as much meat as possible, put the turkey carcass in a big pot, cover it with water and pour in half a cup of vinegar. Put a lid on the pot, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for several hours.

Vinegar will dissolve some of the minerals in the bones, making a mineral-rich broth. Don’t worry about the broth tasting of vinegar because its acidity is neutralized as the minerals are leached from the bones. This broth is a far better source of calcium and phosphorous than supplements you can take.

Use the broth to make soup or gravy for turkey potpie.

I extract the minerals from any kind of bones – chicken, beef, pork, or turkey. Here’s a pot of broth from chicken bones.

Finally, pick the remaining bits of meat from the bones. I save the cartilage and skin, along with some bits of meat, for our dog, Annie. The remaining bones go to the chickens to supplement their diet. Chickens’ beaks are incredibly strong and can peck bones down to nothing.

Waste nothing. That’s my motto.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Unto the Least of These

Thanksgiving is a traditional family gathering time. Uncles, aunts, siblings, nieces, grandchildren, and more come together to feast and rejoice. Yet, for many of us, the tradition has broken down because of distance. Nancy is in Colorado. Carol is in Maine. Rose Evelyn is in a nursing home two hours away. Bob is in Texas. Ken is in far western Kansas. Holmes is in Missouri. We’re scattered far and wide.

We make do. We talk on the phone to each other. We join friends for the day or have nuclear family celebrations.

Of course it isn’t just on holidays that we miss the love and support of family members. Only one of my three children could visit me when I had knee surgery. Dennis has had no one to help him in caring for me through convalescence. I can’t be with my daughters as they grieve for loss of their half-brother through suicide.

A great consolation to me is that if we can’t help our family members, we help others instead and receive help from friends and neighbors. In Maine, Carol has befriended a neighbor who lives alone and suffers from macular degeneration. She takes him to the grocery store. In Colorado, Nancy prepared meals for a woman who lives alone and had knee joint replacement. Here in Kansas, my neighbor Laurie has become like a daughter to me. She pops in often to offer encouragement and food. After my surgery other friends showed up bearing complete meals for us.

This reminds me of the Bible verses from Matthew:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

When we do a kindness to a stranger, we do it also for a family member. We are all part of the family of man.

Now, let’s dig into some twice-as-nutty, half-as-sweet pecan pie. Happy Thanksgiving.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


I believe that human beings are programmed to avoid pain. (Probably other animals are, too, but how would I know?)  We all would prefer not to hurt, but to recover the use of a knee that has been taken apart and put back together with titanium and plastic one must suffer pain. That’s where physical therapy comes in. Exercises to strengthen the leg muscles and get the knee to bend and straighten hurt like hell.

Everyone I know who has had knee joint replacement tells me that if I don’t do the painful work, my knee will never function properly. Getting into the habit and summoning the grit to withstand the pain is the hardest part. The child in me says, “Do I have to?” The adult, when I can find her voice, says, “You will be sorry if you don’t.”

So, almost four weeks of exercising have brought me a reward today. I drove my car to town! I went grocery shopping and loaded the bags into my car! Driving was easy, thanks to physical therapy and a bendable knee.

It’s a lucky thing, too, because I was beginning to feel awfully sorry for myself. I missed my relative independence. I was afraid I would need mental therapy in addition to exercising my body. I feared I would fall into an invalid state of mind. But today made all the difference.

Let’s eat some chicken potpie to celebrate!

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Coming Back to Life

Today, for the first time since my knee joint replacement almost three weeks ago, I feel rather like myself again. Knee surgery has been very painful for me, unlike hip replacement. First under general anesthesia and then heavy pain medications, I can barely remember being in the hospital. Even early days at home are fuzzy in my mind.

I’ve been bored but lethargic, but today I got up with goals in mind and, by golly, I’ve carried them out. I’m being more faithful about physical therapy exercises, too, and I can tell you they pay off.

So, now there’s time and energy to admire the way my poinsettia is developing the red bracts we enjoy during the holidays. I had thought the plant would grow red leaves, and that does seem to happen, but some of the old leaves are slowly turning red.

I bought the plant last year at the hardware store. It had five branches and was about 10 inches tall. For once, I didn’t kill a poinsettia, but I hated to throw it out when the blooms and red bracts fell off. My pal Barbara suggested that I put it outside for the summer, as she does poinsettias year after year.

Sure, I thought, why not? I put it in a big pot and set it on the deck where it was shaded part of the day. Its growth was amazing. It filled out and grew taller.

Now the poinsettia is in my sewing room, lapping up winter sun, dozing in the long winter nights. I believe the poinsettia and I are rejuvenating together. We’re going to bloom soon.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Anything but That!

 Ten days ago I had yet another operation, this one to replace the joint in my right knee, but I’m not going to write about that, except to say that it’s coming along quite well according to my physical therapist. I believe her because a couple of nights ago I finished brushing my teeth and looked around for the walker I’m supposed to use at all times. Unthinkingly I had walked from the bedroom to the bathroom without the walker.

Convalescence is too boring to deserve mention. I’d rather brag about the nifty ice pack holder I whipped up from an old bath towel and a bit of ribbon.

I’d rather show off Dennis’s fall planting of turnips, some of which we are having for supper tonight.

I’d rather focus on the hope and promise of young garlic already growing in the garden.

And I’d rather show how the early morning sun strikes the sycamores on the hillside across Chicken Creek Valley, a sight that makes it worthwhile to get out of bed on these autumnal mornings.

 Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer