Thursday, December 31, 2009

30 years ago today

This morning at 2am marked the 30 year anniversary of Bobby's accident.
Needless to say, he was up WAY past his bedtime. (Keep in mind he was a farm boy who would have gone to bed with the chickens had they had any. In other words, he went to bed at dark thirty). He fell asleep behind the wheel, and woke up as his car exited the road into a ravine-type ditch. The next thing he remembers is waking up on the ground, cold, his neck hurting, and being unable to move. He later remembers a policeman kneeling over him, and looking shocked when Bobby asked if his car was okay. (His car was actually worse off than him, and was probably one of those rare occasions when wearing a seatbelt would have killed him.)

Of the hundreds of people praying for his healing in the months to come, he never regained the use of his fingers, arms, or legs. Some people questioned his salvation, believing that God would heal a true believer. Others questioned God, wondering why this happened or why God didn't heal him. Some people, like his Mom, turned to God during the horrible time, for in her words, "I needed Him like never before." Thirty years later, as I reflect on the testimonies and stories I've been told, I believe God did heal Bobby, just not in a way anyone expected.

Most people suffer a severe depression or out-of-control anger after such an accident. After joining several forums for care-giving spouses, I've learned that it's not uncommon for people to struggle with their emotions for a 2-3 years after their accident and only then do they even begin to come out of the downward tailspin. The doctors even warned Mrs. Bryan that Bobby's upbeat attitude and "what next" spirit wouldn't last and the darker days were just around the corner. It has now been 30 years, and those dark days have yet to come. I'm not saying he's never struggled or wondered why or been upset, but I am saying that the spirit of doom has never overcome him. I think God answered the thousands of prayers for healing, and that God healed his spirit instead of his body.

And for that I am extremely grateful. People often joke about men being pitiful when they're sick and how difficult I have it when he's ill, and it always takes me by surprise. He's a much better patient than I could ever dream of being.

So today's not an anniversary you want to remember, but for my husband it is one just the same.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the so-so present idea

While at the gym I saw an advertisement on television for personalized puzzles. All you had to do was go to the website, type in an address, and the puzzle would be centered on that address and extend outward approximately a mile in each direction..a colorized satellite view! Coming from a family of puzzle lovers (working a jigsaw puzzle is a Christmas family tradition) and marrying into one meant this was a GREAT idea!!!

So I ordered a puzzle for Mrs. Bryan, and one of the church Dad pastored while I was growing up (and where my parents, 2 sisters, an aunt, and 2 cousins all got married) for the holidays. Mom and Dad's puzzle was actually for their anniversary (Dec 27), but I gave it to them on Christmas Eve so we could all work on it Christmas Day. A 400 piece puzzle would certainly be finished by the time everyone left Christmas Day, right?

3 Days and countless reworks later, the puzzle was complete (minus 3 pieces). It was an absolute nightmare to put together. We don't know what happened to the missing pieces, either. My sister's dog could have eaten them, they could have been knocked off the table and picked up with all the wrapping paper, or maybe they weren't sent (though that's not very likely). All in all, this little 400 piece puzzle is the HARDEST puzzle I have ever worked in my life.

Aunt Linda and Mom examine the non-interlocking border pieces.

Jennifer and Niki tackle the roads and streets.

The "finished project" (Cordova, AL) with three missing pieces. Had it not been for the railroad tracks we might not have ever got this puzzle together. Not what I intended, but this puzzle will definitely be one for the memory books!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

a finished project

December 23, 2009 en route to Curry, Alabama, I finished a project. Started in March of this year, the modified Double Wedding Ring Quilt was the most ambitious sewing project I have ever done. I can also honestly say that with each quilt I've learned and improved, though I still have a LONG way to go.

and here's a sideways view of the finished project

The quilt top was 80% finished by the June wedding, but wasn't finalized until August of this year, when my mother (she and my sister did some embroidery work on each corner for me since I can't embroidery)returned it to me. My target completion goal was Christmas, and I just barely made it. Mom's washing machine isn't as large as mine, and the quilt barely fit inside. The quilt markings, even after two washings, didn't come out. I left it with Andy & Amie, and I'm not sure if they'll wash it or have it dry cleaned. But it is now delivered and in the hands of its owners. There's nothing like checking off a project or goal (except maybe the feeling of relief that comes with it).

Meanwhile, I'm seriously contemplating learning how to machine quilt. That's definitely on my agenda for 2010. :O)

Monday, December 28, 2009

gingerbread exhibit

December 22, 2009 Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC

There were so many creative exhibits in the Gingerbread display.
These are just a few of my favorites:


I was a tad surprised by the many themes on the 12 Days of Christmas. While this portrayal wasn't of that theme wasn't my favorite, the extreme detailing of this house was very impressive. One of the houses chosen to go to New York for the Christmas Eve ceremony on Good Morning America (which we missed watching) was similar to this one.And the morning scene. Thankfully we didn't have to wait too long for the roads to thaw so we could head on home to Alabama. It was a nice way to break the 13 hour drive into two smaller segments. I think I could live in the mountains, though my husband says not in the wintertime. It was interesting watching couples trying to push baby strollers over mounds of snow and ice on the sidewalk to get to the shopping centers. It made me very thankful we had our Christmas shopping done.

Monday, December 21, 2009

big pillows

We took advantage of all the Christmas sales and got a comforter for our bed that we've been looking at for some time. When I pulled it out of the bag, it came with pillow shams and a bedskirt! The bedskirt we can't put on, but I debated whether or not to get two more pillows for the shams. You know, you look at all the pictures in the magazines and the bed is always covered in pillows. It looks nice and comfy and fluffy and pretty. But why? I mean, why go to all the trouble of fluffing the pillows and propping them up and then taking them back off to go to bed every single morning and night? Other than the fact it makes the room look neater, I'm not sure I even understand the point of making up the bed.

In the third house I lived in as a child, any dolls or stuff animals we owned (I shared a room with my 2 sisters) had to fit either on top of our dresser or on our bed. That meant every morning and night a host of my younger sister's dolls and all my stuffed animals made the trip from bed to floor and back again. Except for once when we were made and we put everything on our older sister's bed, but that's another story. I never understood why my sister kept wanting more dolls, and can't say I was all that happy for her whenever she got them for Christmas or birthdays. In my mind it was just one more thing to do every day.

Some mornings I look at the bed and think the matching shams on a spare set of pillows would like nice, but then I think "WHY?" Am I the only one too practical for my own good out here?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

tidings of comfort and joy

Yesterday a small group of the CBC kids went caroling, and overall I thought it went very well. I rode with the Brantleys and Abigail, and after the second house Abigail asked, "How many more houses until we're done?" I think all the kids were ready to go eat about halfway, and more than one driver heard the question "Can we go to McDonalds?" The funniest thing to me was at one house as we got out of the vehicles it started to flurry. Another adult and I just kind of looked at each other, and most of the boys started jumping up and down shouting "Snow! snow!" After the person came to the door (in their pajamas), some of the boys turned around and looked at me with very wide eyes. Overall I think everyone was very touched by the visit and appreciative of the kids smiling and singing to them. I think Pastor Mike needs to recruit some of the smaller tykes...they were ready to go inside and visit! I didn't take my camera, but Jacqueline and Rhonda took quite a few shots, so maybe they'll either post or e-mail me some of the shots. I was "right proud" of our CBC kids!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Things I won't do this Christmas

:O)
My husband says I have no concept of time.
Sadly, he's right. And 90% of the time that no longer bothers me.

So here's my list of things I won't get done this Christmas:
  • The house cleaned top to bottom before we go.
  • Hand-printed Christmas cards (Dollar Tree is such a blessing!)
  • Clothes made for my youngest niece.
  • an open house (yeah, I know...I've only done that once in 10 years).
  • Nice Christmas meals twice a week in the dining room.
All in all, I'm pleased with how low-stress this December has been, and most of the things on the list above are not critical items but simply things that would be nice to do.

Unfortunately, there are things that are not nice to do (like laundry) that must be done this morning. And then there are things to do (like caroling) that we'll get to do this afternoon.
AND...only four squares of quilting left. My goal is to finish that tonight, then sew the binding Sunday afternoon and wash and pack it on Monday!!!! But, as my husband likes to remind me, I have a warped sense of time, so the reality is that it may not be finished until we get to Alabama.

Se la vie. (That's life.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

possibly maybe perhaps could be snow?

big gray sky with touch of cold
almost drab to behold
one single fleck floats through the air
could be a leaf or blossom fair

a shopping trip i'd like to take
but know the outcome it would make
if the forecast does come true
and southern roads turn icy blue

and i ponder what to do
for kids who carol and eat cake, too
when to cancel or plunge ahead
and bring some cheer to old gray heads

4 years ago tomorrow night
a van of kids took flight
and sailed into a side ravine
with water, mud -a scary scene

between the weather and the speed
of a teen's borrowed car and her need
to buy a gift and return home
before her grandma caught her gone

it was a day much like today
when that call came from far away
and a list of injuries did begin
that i feared would never end

three hours there; three hours back
a heart wrenching, tear-streaked driving track
my husband at home with broken bone
my heart ripping in two with each mile home

a christmas i will never forget
a reminder of how much my sister meant
ministry is great; activities fun
but not when it imperils anyone

Thursday, December 17, 2009

snow, cards, snow, shopping, snow,..and more snow?

The first year we went to Alabama for Christmas, we got about 10 minutes from my sister's house and it started snowing. I was relieved we were almost there. Bobby sighs, looks at me, and says, "If these keeps up, I'm turning around in the next driveway and we're heading home." WHAT?!?!?! We've just driven 12+ hours and we're almost there!!!! Let's just say neither one of us was very happy with the other the remainder of that drive.

Fast forward a few years, and we're arriving in Tennessee to spend an evening and morning with his sister before heading to be with my family for Christmas. We play with the kids, eat supper, call around to find a hotel, look out the window and it's snowing. BIG HUGE snowflakes coming down very hard and fast. We upset his sister by heading to the hotel so Bobby could rest a little before we headed on to Alabama.

This year we have Christmas caroling planned for Saturday and ...it's supposed to snow. Not only that, but there is a possibility of snow in Asheville next week, where we were going to stop and break our long trip into two not quite as long trips. Bobby's now laughing that we may not get to go to Alabama at all. I simply informed him that as he could now fit in my vehicle (which is why we bought it), I would simply load up, throw him in the front seat and surround him with pillows and off we go! I think that thought was more horrifying to him than driving that monstrous van through snow!

So I'm contemplating snow while attempting to address Christmas cards which is turning me into a Scrooge with each address that I can't find, and wondering how on earth his tradition of sending Christmas cards ever became my responsibility. Long marriages are wonderful, but they do bring about a lot of strange transitions. Snow cream anyone?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

curiosity killed the cat

I know; I know. Curiosity really doesn't kill you. But it does make life a tad more hyper.

Every year Mrs. Bryan graciously wraps Bobby's presents for him. The first 3-5 years of our marriage, I would almost always get a phone call saying, "Monica, there's a package here with Bobby's name on it from ____. Did you order something?" And I would laugh and say "No, check with Bobby." And she'd reply "Oh shoot! I forgot!" And I would inadvertently have a very good clue what my Christmas present would be.

But the last few years she hasn't done that. With an exception of a few years, I've almost always been able to guess what my presents are before opening them (which I love to do), and I've figured 2 of my four out already. (She brought them over last night.) One is a book. I can feel the dip in its spine and the edges of the cover. Not sure what book, though. It's not the quilting book I asked for because that is a large, flat paperback. I know I'm getting material because I saw the e-mail receipt and I can feel the softness through the wrap. But the other two have me totally baffled. One is too heavy for me to shake, which really has me puzzled. The other is wrapped in a box, and is lightweight, but I haven't shook it yet. That will be tomorrow's treat.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to get a little bit nervous about some gifts I've ordered which haven't arrived yet. We start the journey home next Tuesday, and it would be nice to have things in before we leave.

And on the quilting front, I have 7 hoops left to quilt and then the edging and washing to get all the quilt markings off of it. WHOHOOOO! I might actually have it finished before we go. (Might being the operative word here.)

So I'm off to crank up the radio and get started on Christmas cards, then quilt!

Monday, December 14, 2009

my favorite Christmas foods

Without intentionally setting out to do it, I have actually acquired a few recipes this year that I really like and will fix more than once that ARE NOT DESSERTS! Yes, I know that's incredulous but it's true!!!

One is Cheesy Vegetable Soup (aka Penne Tramp's soup per Mary Booth). It has chicken broth, celery, onions, and a large bag of California Medley (also known as carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli), followed by a a whole pound of Velveeta cheese, cubed, the last twenty minutes. There may be other things (like salt, etc) but I don't have the recipe in front of me. I mashed one of the veggies after they simmered as a certain man in my household dislikes cauliflower. He never once tasted it. I will definitely fix this soup again this winter.

And Lydia http://themommypages.blogspot.com posted a lasagna soup recipe that was awesome! I even bought the ingredients tonight so I can make it again!

So why am I blogging about soups when my post is titled my favorite Christmas foods? No, but sorry. These soups aren't it. But because Christmas is coming, and all my favorite Christmas recipes are desserts, it just made me think about my new recipes. (See how my brain jumps from rabbit trail to rabbit trail?)

And, as was promised from the title:
  1. Fudge with nuts.
  2. Peanut butter on ritz crackers dipped in chocolate
  3. Haystacks
  4. Instant chocolate oatmeal cookies (which I'll make before heading to AL, or else after we get them for my bro-in-law and brother).
  5. Mom's Hawaiian pie.
  6. Peanut butter balls.
  7. Mrs. Bryan's chocolate chip cookies
  8. Truffles
  9. Apple Jacks (small fried apple pies which I haven't had since my Granny died)
  10. and new this year....gingerbread cookies!
And the other favorite food, which isn't a dessert, but I like about Christmas, is HAM! I love the left-over ham when Mom lets us heat it up and eat it with scrambled eggs for breakfast. There's nothing like breakfast the first few days after Christmas, especially when it's followed by chocolate syrup on biscuits.....ohhhhhhhh!

But this year, if my willpower holds, will be slightly different. I'm refusing to gain back the weight I've worked so hard to get off the last six months. So apples, bananas, oranges, and yogurt will be my snacks BEFORE I eat any candy. And if I eat more than 2 pieces of candy, then I have to go outside in the hilly Alabama bitter cold and walk for twenty minutes.

And I reserve the right to edit this post upon my return and delete the above paragraph. Sigh...lead us not into temptation!

the business of church

My little brain has been hopping down its sundry rabbit trails a lot lately, and one of its many trails has been the issue of church and work. It takes work to run a church. People have to work to live. So inevitably the two are merged.

I think we often look to the nation of Israel and the tribe of Levi. They were basically paid employees...church staff. And yet there were other times non-Levites ministered or were tabernacle staff. Samuel comes to my mind, as do all the specialists (the weavers, goldmakers, etc during the building of the temple). With an exception of Samuel, they didn't work for the church full-time, but were either on a contract or volunteer basis for a specific job.

Bobby and I often debate about how much things should cost (or whether there should be a cost) for church materials. For example, my husband thinks music groups who charge people to come hear a performance at a church are wrong. He feels they've violated the whole purpose of the church. He's certainly not opposed to providing an honorarium or taking up a love offering, believing we should do our part to help support believers. He also doesn't want to attend Christmas performances at other churches that require tickets to be bought. He thinks it turns the church into a place of entertainment and not prayer or worship. He has agreed to go to a program where tickets were required for admission due to limited seating and high demand, but the tickets were free.

And we talk a lot about that as it relates to writing or graphic design. There are many things I do in these fields for free, seeing it as a service to God. But there have also been times when I've felt that the time spent on a huge play for a group took way too much of my time. It would have been nice to have received a little compensation for some of that time. I struggle to find the balance between service and slavery.

Sometimes I also wonder if the church paid true value for things (the sound guys, our music man, nursery director, etc), would we eliminate things and be a simple church? For the most part, I think the people in our church do those jobs because they want to do them, even though I'm sure there are days when it seems a chore. But I think of all the jobs the Levites did and how they in turn were cared for, and it makes me wonder if a)I do enough to support the pillars of our church and b)in American society, what is the difference between servanthood and slavery? (Yeah, I know it seems warped to call service to a group slavery, but there are times it seems that way. And I'm not referring just to churches here, but thinking of non-profits as well).

These are just one set of my random thoughts for this morning.

Friday, December 11, 2009

a sad day at the Bryan household

This morning at 3:30am our dogs started barking and yelping like mad. At 4:15am I finally headed into the garage to see what on earth the problem was. Thankfully it wasn't a mouse, though it was something just as bad...a possum. It was cornered behind the feed bins and was hissing for all it was worth. I debated for a brief moment, then came inside for dog biscuits to pull the dogs away in hopes it would come out of hiding and leave. It didn't. It only stopped hissing. I briefly considered taking the broom and poking it out, but since I hate possums even more than I hate mice (their bigger, more heinous, not to mention downright scary), I simply came inside and crawled back in the bed. I think it was almost 5am before my body succumbed to tiredness and ignored the yelps of our crazy dogs.

Before Bobby left for work he managed to shove things around enough that the possum actually moved into a corner, where he stayed. I locked the dogs up before I left and turned the chickens out, and the dogs were crying and yelping like crazy, most likely because they knew that possum was still there.

Evidently it was more than they could take, especially Lucy. I came home to find two dead chickens, three hiding out in the woods, and two unaccounted for. The door to the pen was still shut, but the dogs were out. I couldn't see a hole, so I shut Linus up and turned to get Lucy and he was there by my side. So I locked him back up and stood back to see how he was getting out. Evidently Lucy bit and pulled at the wires around the base of the door enough that they made a small hole. I wouldn't have thought either one could have fit through it, especially her, but they did. We'll see if the remainder all come home tonight.

I'm thankful they didn't get them all, but hate that one of the ones they did get was our Americana that lays the green eggs. :O(

sigh...Bobby says maybe we can replace them after Christmas. I'm thinking perhaps we need to replace/repair the dog pen first.

Meanwhile, meatballs are simmering in the crockpot and I'm off to wrap an ornament for tonight's party. FUNFUNFUN!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

protection, or lack thereof

I really, really, really, really, really want to have this quilt finished by Christmas. I spent five hours quilting yesterday, and while there is now a light at the end of the tunnel, there is also several layers of skin peeling away from my thumb. Both Bobby and my Mom would say, "Use a thimble." but I hate thimbles. They slow you down, you can't feel the needle when it comes through the material so you're not sure whether or not you're truly grabbing all three layers in the stitch, it makes me feel clumsy, and did I mention that is slows me down?

I'll probably pull it out today (maybe), but only if I absolutely have to.

Sometimes I think that's my attitude toward other things in life as well. Exercise, good eating habits, devotions...yeah, those things are helpful, but they slow me down. What is it about our nature that causes us to resist the things that protect us so much? I like to think that as I've changed from childhood to adulthood and bedtime went from something horrible to something good, that the other things in my life will eventually fall in line as well.

Meanwhile, I keep going...one stitch and one day at a time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

With today only being December 8, Christmas still seems so far away. But then I look at my calendar and see that 3 weeks from today I'll be heading to the great state of ALABAMA! Whooohoooo! That's really not that far away.

A repairman who came by the house today told me about a house to go see that had a ton of Christmas lights. Bobby's not that big on traditions at Christmas, but two things we have done more than once (and I would do every year if it were up to me) are visiting the Meadow Lights at Christmas (he's not crazy about the cold) and seeing The Bethlehem Star at the Moorehead Planetarium (he doesn't like the secular perspective).

Meanwhile, the idea I had for decorating my table for Friday night kind of fell apart Saturday...literally. I even dreamed about it last night, but of course in my dream it was much worse than reality. So on my list of things to do today: assemble a pre-bought gingerbread house. My "glue" refused to hold the one I made together. So hopefully I can modify this one to meet the design I want. And if that doesn't work we'll move to Plan C which is slowly formulating.

So, I'm off to do housework, fun stuff, errands, and quilt (of course!)

17 Days and Counting!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

my observation skills, or lack thereof


Red, who likes anything shiny:
the reflective part of my tennis shoes, my wedding band, and my shoelaces.
We have a peck/kick relationship going on.


On more than one occasion my husband has quipped, "You're not very observant, are you?" To which I give him the best dirt look I can muster, and go on about my business. Sadly, I proved him right, again, in the worst way possible.

In my defense, the day before Thanksgiving I woke up at 3am with chills and a fever that lasted most of the day. Thanksgiving day found me fever free but totally wiped out. For once I didn't care about ANYTHING at the Bryan's family get together. For the first time it didn't bother me that after everyone else bebops off to be with other family it's just the childless couple and the widow, or the just the two of us heading home to be alone like every other day. I was simply too tired to care. Bobby even took care of all the animals for me on that day.

The next day I did go out to assist, and was shocked to find that Brownie (aka Road Runner) had molted. (Molting is where the feathers fall out while new ones grow in. This usually happens in sections, starting around the wings.) Yet I couldn't see her skin. Her feathers just looked all white, as if they were bleached out. I commented on it to Bobby, saying that's probably why we weren't getting eggs now. He looked at me strangely, then at the bird, looked shocked, then laughed a little.

Since that day, I have not seen all six hens at one time, though I did notice they weren't sleeping in their usual formation and egg production has all but stopped. I attributed the lack of eggs to the decreasing sunlight, which is normal. I've also pondered why I wasn't seeing new feathers come out on Brownie. A bit odd for molting to last this long, and not see the skin. Could our girls have a bug of some sort? Bird flu, perhaps?
Then yesterday morning, I lock the dogs up. I head to the pen, and as I move to the door and they line up in formation to get out, I do a doubletake. Brownie is there, looking perfectly normal. I start counting...1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, SEVEN?!?!?! Can't be. I look and realize that next to Brownie is the ugly bird with her head and white feathers AND IT HAS A HUGE RED COMB ON TOP!!! Can't be. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6....no we don't have seven birds. Or have I forgotten one? Brownie, Blackie, Whitey, Red, Hilda, Matilda, and the ugly one. The ugly one with a larger red comb than any other bird in the pen, who immediately jumps on top of a hen the moment I open the door.

I check for eggs...and of course...none at all, but now I understand why. You introduce anything new to a flock and egg production will temporarily cease for a week or two. I march inside and call my husband, who is dying laughing. For a whole week, we have had a rooster, and I was TOTALLY oblivious. He says every morning when he goes out for the paper the dumb thing is crowing and he keeps waiting for me to hear it. I actually haven't heard it's dumb raspy call until this morning, about time for Bobby to leave, so that's good. But still...a ROOSTER?!?! The day he pecks me; he dies.

And I'm seriously contemplating inviting a certain neighbor and his wife over for supper one night. It'll be easy. I'll pick up a bucket of KFC, put it on a platter, and with it being dark, for all he knows it could be Ugly we're eating. Reckon he'll eat anything?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

sniff, sniff

This summer while our little friends were visiting us, Bobby and I were continuously amazed at the exceptional smell sensory one of them had. It never failed. He could be walking down the hall toward the kitchen, would stop and sniff, then say, "You're cooking..." and he was always right. I was unaware that carrots had a smell until that day! Like the color rods in my eyes, I must also be missing something in my nose, for I don't think I have ever smelled carrots. It makes me wonder what other smells I am missing.

I remembered that this morning as I started to type the saying "It's so close I can smell it." Please don't tell me you've never heard of that saying before. I'm certain I didn't dream it. If I can fit in eight more hours of quilting, THE quilt, as I've started calling it, will be half-way done. (Note: I'm not counting the binding in this process.) I'm excited, but also a little bit tired. Thanks to a fever over Thanksgiving I didn't quilt hardly any, and this week I need to put up Christmas decorations, which will also eliminate a good chunk of time. (There's nothing like decorating a Christmas tree to put you out of the Christmas spirit! sigh...) I'm starting to think that perhaps my husband was right once again (which aggravates me all the more) and that this quilt won't be finished by Christmas.

Meanwhile, one of my favorite sale papers came in the mail. Turns out there is a quilting machine on sale next week for $300. This is the cheapest one I've seen, which makes me wonder why it is half the price of other quilting machines. And it's also got me considering the possibility of saving and investing in one. After all, if it takes me 6 months (quilting a minimum of 2 hrs a week) to hand quilt a queen sized quilt, I've spent that much in time alone. It's something to put in my consider thought pile of potential purchases before Bobby retires.

Sniff...I'm headed back to my quilting frame.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

today's random thoughts

  • Today would have been my father-in-law's birthday. I ate some chocolate with nuts in his honor. :O)
  • I put up a Christmas tree, but still have yet to string lights or decorate it. This is my least favorite part of Christmas.
  • My second least favorite part of Christmas is taking the Christmas decorations down.
  • I didn't put a tree up one year and my husband wouldn't let me forget it for several years afterward.
  • After he dies I might not ever put up another Christmas tree.
  • If I do it will be under 2' tall.
  • I'm still not half-way through the quilt that is supposed to be done by Christmas.
  • Our chickens have almost quit laying eggs.
  • Both Americanas (the Easter egg chickens) are now laying.
  • I thought this was supposed to be a calm and slow-paced month.
  • I was wrong.

Monday, November 30, 2009

the Jesse tree

A college friend of mine just published in her missionary update that they have passed out all the kits for the Jesse tree to the families who come to their outreach center. Curious, I pressed her for more information and here's the basics:

Using the premise of the advent calendar, the Jesse tree promotes ways for parents to teach their children how Christmas is a fulfillment of Messianic prophecies, starting with December 1. Each night there is a Scripture passage and the family can make or color an ornament that goes with the story. There are paper patterns in a .pdf format that parents can print out, but my favorite picture is below, where the family actually made the ornaments.And here's a sample of the Jesse tree done with paper and paper ornaments:

AND, there's also a book, published in 2005 that details the whole concept in a story form:
If I had children, I think this would be an awesome way to teach the fulfilled Messianic prophecies of Christmas. Here is a link to the devotion schedule for the Jesse Tree, as well as a more detailed explanation: http://www.jesse-tree.com/jesse_tree.html If you choose to do this with your family, let me know if you post pictures and I'll mention you on my blog!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

the kitchen table

When I first moved to NC, I had a trunk from college, two end tables I bought a yard sale, a bookcase and the bedroom set I had as a child (which my parents graciously gave me). A friend of Bobby's gave me a couch and I scrounged money for several months to pay for a slipcover to go over it. Bobby's brother had gotten married the year before, and in consolidating households moved a lot of furniture into storage. They gave me the kitchen table and chairs they weren't using, and I've gratefully and thankfully used them for the last 11 years.

Bobby's nephew got married almost two years ago. I don't know why neither of us ever thought about it before, but for some reason last month it finally crossed our mind that they might want the kitchen table that Sammy's parents had while he was growing up. So we asked them, thinking they'd say no, they already had furniture, and we're surprised when they immediately said "YES! We've just bought a house and that would be great!"

So the last month I've spent a good chunk of time (as has Bobby) looking at CraigsList, looking at photo galleries on the web, and discussing what we would like/need in a kitchen table. We checked into having someone make us a kitchen table from the wood of the tobacco barn we tore down a few years ago, but that fell through. Meanwhile, several tables we really liked sold on CraigsList, and one we liked but were uncertain about kept reducing its price. Last Monday I went to measure and make sure Bobby could fit his chair under it and that the chairs were comfortable, and brought it back to Mrs. Bryan's barn. The boys came Thanksgiving afternoon and loaded up our faithful and comfortable table and chairs to take to Sammy & Jess's new house, and unloaded our "new" set for us.
I absolutely LOVE the detailed carving on the skirting of the table.
And the carving of the chairs match, and I think they are absolutely gorgeous. Even though everything is oak, the stain is dark enough that I think it matches the cherry cabinets in our kitchen. AND...included in the detailed carved on the top of the chairs is acorns and oak leaves...how cool is that?
And here's what the complete table looks like. The leaf doesn't match the inward angle of the grain in the table, but it does complement nicely. (Bobby can't fit under pedestal tables without a leaf in them.) I'm just thrilled that we not only found something that works AND we both really like, but we also got a great deal out of it!

And here's the biggest kicker: while I'm talking to the owner, she was sharing with me that her parents gave it to her almost ten years ago as a wedding present, and that her Mom bought it at an estate sale with the understanding it would make do until she could afford what she wanted. Her husband is finishing seminary and they are getting their own house, so they're finally getting to purchase their own furniture, too. In the process of this conversation, she said something about her family being from SC. I asked her what part, telling her about my older sister living there, and in that conversation found out we both have friends and family in Alabama. I told her I was from Cordova, thinking she would have never heard of it (as most non-Alabamians and even some Alabamians haven't), and she immediately not only named a couple from Cordova, but IT WAS SOMEONE I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH!!!! Misty graduated with my little sister; we were in band together, and when her family had to move up to Southeastern for her husband to attend seminary (they lost their apartment and school during Hurricane Katrina), I was able to visit the hospital when their new child was born. This lady had lived next door to the Alexanders while their husbands were in seminary, and her husband and Ritchie still talk on the phone almost weekly! How bizarre and yet how neat that I would drive almost an hour away for a gorgeous, non-expensive dining set, only to find out the owner and I both know the same people?!? Is that not crazy?

So who knows? Maybe by the time I hit my 50's I'll have finally replaced all our donated furniture with furniture that we've actually picked out ourselves. We're 99% there in the living room, and now totally there in the kitchen! WHOHHOOO!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

psalm 4, the latter verses

Many are saying, "Who will show us any good?"
Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD!
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

super fun

I am SO looking forward to this holiday weekend! I mean, what could be better than having your husband off of work for several days in a row, family get togethers involving lots of FOOD, craft fairs and special shopping sales over the weekend, not to mention numerous fun activities (can't you hear that rumble from Alabama about the upcoming Iron Bowl?)?

Yep, that's right. Come Saturday afternoon I'll be in front of the tv screaming like a maniac at a bunch of men in ill-fitting clothes chasing a stupid little pigskin up and down a boxed in field. And after the game is over, regardless of who wins, I'll call my Aunt Linda who pulls for the Auburn Tigers instead of the Alabama Crimson Tide, and regardless of who wins, she'll answer "WAR EAGLE!" (that's Auburn's slogan). And amidst yelling at the tv and quilting, I'll attempt to put up Christmas decorations.

What's not to love about this holiday?

Monday, November 23, 2009

the urge

Growing up, I rearranged furniture on a regular basis. I think it sometimes drove my Mom crazy. I know it certainly did one particular college roommate. But since I've been married, most of our furniture has stayed put. It's not that I haven't thought about moving things around, but our open floor plan and Bobby's mobility needs seriously limit the moving of furniture.

Yet for some reason I've been in nesting mode and shuffling things in my mind lately. Today I actually started moving things...nothing major mind you. But an outdoor porch table finally went outside, my piano shifted down the wall a bit, plants are scattered in the floor awaiting the removal of a few more items. I'm not totally thrilled with the current layout, but I have until Wednesday to get everything sorted. After Thanksgiving the Christmas decorating starts, and I would love to have everything finalized by then.

So who knows? I may actually have some pictures to post in a few days. Or not.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

only half as crazy

Several years ago I bought a pumpkin for fall decoration. Bobby wasn't so certain why I was doing it since we seldom have trick-or-treaters, rarely have people over, and we don't have children, but agreed, jokingly asking if I was going to make a pumpkin pie.

As I started to carve, I thought, "Why not? Why should food go to waste?" And so I trimmed out the pumpkin's insides before I carved up his face. Then I pulled out cookbooks and started cooking. And I cooked. And baked. And went to the grocery store for more pie shells and eggs, and I baked and cooked some more. And I STILL had pumpkin leftover. We ended up with 13 pumpkin pies in the freezer, and I'm not even that crazy over pumpkin pie. My secret to getting it down was cool whip...LOTS and LOTS of cool whip. I think cool whip can make almost anything taste better.

We bought a pumpkin again this year, though I didn't carve it. But I did scoop out about 3/4 of its insides last night and cook them. This morning I began the pie process, and used up all our eggs (but I still have 2 shells left!). The last 3 (of 6) pies are cooking. The remainder of the pumpkin is in the chicken pen where they are scratching at its flesh and devouring seeds as if they were me eating peanut M&Ms. Now I just have to clean up the kitchen, and hope the chickens lay more eggs between now and Monday. I'm happy with the compromise. We can have our decorations and eat them, too!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

things we forget

It's funny how we can spend hours (okay, maybe it's more like minutes) of our childhood doing or playing something, but then totally forget about it as an adult.

I had another one of those "oh yeah!" moments today. Sunday we had about 1/3 of Bobby's family over for lunch, meaning all three leaves went into the dining room table. I decided to leave them in, and left the chairs around the table as well (I often put them against the wall when the table is being used as a cutting table). Of course, Bobby's spot is left open.

Today I had some visitors, who were quite excited to find the dining room had grown a "tunnel". I was quite puzzled, into I walked in and saw what they meant:
I had totally forgotten that as a child we used Mom's dining room table for all sorts of wonderful adventures until she'd make us get out. We could be spies in a submarine, Barbies in a van, or fish beneath the pier with a fisherman outside the chairs, and when Mom had a tablecloth on, stretching out on the chairs shoved up under the table was a GREAT place to hide.

So where along the line did I lose my imagination and these four-legged monstrous piece of wood simply become a table?

Monday, November 16, 2009

winning the war!

I've learned all kinds of new stuff the last few years...one of them being that pecan trees produce a bumper crop one year and a piddly one the next. Even with all the battles last year between me and the dogs for every single nut, we picked about a bucket and a half of pecans. This year I'll be pleased if we have half of a bucket. I was hoping that my fertilizing and the additional rain we've had this year would prove the old every other year adage wrong, but it didn't. Nevertheless, with exception of 10 nuts (that I know of) I've beaten the dogs to the stash.

I guess I can't say I've beaten them, as it's partly due to the chickens. (You didn't know we had fighting chickens? That's good, 'cause we don't.) Due to a certain someone's insistence that our chickens have freedom to roam the yard, the dogs get locked up every day from lunchtime 'till dusk so the chickens can roam safely. During last week's deluge the chickens had to stay in their shelter, and I found about 3 partially eaten pecans on the front ramp and another 3 or 4 in the garage. After feeding the geese I stopped to pick some up (yes, in the rain) and the dogs about went crazy. I could tell which trees had dropped their fruits simply by watching the dogs. If they thought I was heading toward their tree, they would take off to another one and I'd hear the crack of a shell and see their head tilted in a funny way.

I had a relative e-mail me that dogs were not supposed to eat fruit or nuts, that it would kill them. If that is true, my dogs may not live to see 5, for they will eat almost anything they see me pick. Now if I can only figure out how to keep the chickens out of next year's tomato garden...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

monthly cooking

I've always heard about people who cook once a month, freeze everything, and then for the remainder of the month only have to heat/thaw things for meals. I've often been tempted to try it, thinking it might simplify our lives dramatically.

This past week Food Lion had several meat items on sale, as well as several markdown items, so I bought several different things for future events. When I got home from the store that night, I set the three bags of meat on top of the washing machine while I removed all the laundry from the top of the freezer (it has a dual purpose as my folding table). Somewhere between putting away laundry and life, I totally FORGOT about the 3 bags of meat on my freezer. Imagine my surprise (exclamation of horror is actually more like it) when I entered the laundry room yesterday morning to iron a pair of pants. While my husband came quickly to find out what was wrong, my heart had almost stopped.

Thankfully the meat, since it was all together, was a tad cooler than room temperature. I know you can't freeze raw meat once it's been uncooled or thawed, but you CAN freeze cooked meat. I pulled out every pan I owned, as well as both crock pots, and started washing and throwing things into pans and dishes. I turned the stove onto low as I left for the baby shower so everything would roast while I was gone. It was quite the mixture of smells when I returned. There's nothing like walking into a kitchen and smelling a meal cooking, but I don't think I quite enjoyed the smell of several different kinds of meat cooking all at once! I spent a good two hours cutting, pulling meat off the bone, and washing dishes. Bobby thoroughly enjoyed his job of taste tester, though!

I have always wanted to try once a month cooking....just not like this! I tell myself that one day I'll be organized and efficient. Perhaps that will be my ultimate sanctification - organization!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

of all men most miserable

Today while reading our church's daily Bible reading, a passage struck me as odd. I've read it numerous times before, and I understand Paul's point, but it took me a little off-guard.
"...and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; ...if we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied."
For those of you not at CBC, this is from I Corinthians 15.

The end of my freshman year of college, I had a crisis of faith. Something happened in my life that totally rattled me to the core, and it made me re-evaluate everything I had ever been taught or believed. I came to the conclusion that night that as foolish as it might seem, as scary as the unknown was to me, I could honestly say that even if I died and found everything I believed to be a lie, that my life and this world would be a better place because of the Christian principles I adhered to. So I found the Apostle Paul's comment that if the Resurrection is untrue then our lives are worthless and to be pitied a bit shocking. I understand what he is saying and his context. Why would he or other believers put their lives at risk for something that is a lie? That would be most sad indeed. Yet in our free and prosperous country where we are never really persecuted for our faith (I'm not saying discrimination doesn't exist, but that can hardly be called persecution.), how can we be pitied for holding to our faith? Maybe I will die having never tasted alcohol or drugs, having never slept with anyone but my husband, nor had the pleasure of a 2 day weekend as church always consumes a day. But none of those things should make anyone pity me. I suppose there are people who might find the lack of my "freedom" appalling, but I find that the freedom I have in Christ make those minor things to be shackles of bondage and not freedom.

It also makes me appreciate our country all the more. We Christians are so spoiled here (not that I'm complaining...I'm glad!). To be able to live out my faith every day without fear of repercussion is such a glorious opportunity and freedom and one that keeps my life from being a "pitiful" experience.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

So many fled to our northern neighbor.
Others hid in college, having not planned to go before.
You answered the call to serve, like so many before you.
You were wounded.
And still a teenager.

Thanks Uncle Dave, and your boys, and so many others who fought the fear and did your duty.
Happy Veterans Day seems like a strange thing to say.
There's nothing happy about nightmares.
There's nothing pleasant about being startled and having a flashback.
There's nothing glorious listening to liberals rant about war and its uselessness.
There's not much reward for your service.
You truly understand that freedom isn't free.

Monday, November 9, 2009

one month to live

This morning during the next to last lap of our weekly "get Bobby out the door on time" routine (otherwise known as fixing breakfast), Bobby asked me if I had one month left to live, what would I do? I think I momentarily stopped with the refrigerator door open and just stared at him. Then somewhat laughingly, I told him I would make a list of all my favorite foods and snacks and then make out a schedule accordingly. Priorities, baby.
He then proceeded to tell me about some church in the paper where the pastor is challenging the church to live the next month as if it is their last month on earth to live. Somehow I don't think my food idea is quite what he had in mind. Nor would be visiting those big trees in northern California, spending at least 2 weeks in Alabama, sitting on the beach for a WHOLE DAY, or finishing Andy and Amie's quilt. I might struggle (although very briefly) between cleaning my house top to bottom or hiring someone to come in and do it. I don't want to leave my mess for someone else to clean up and they forever rant about how messy my house is, because I fear the last thing they see might be what they forever remember. That would not be cool at all.
So if you had 31 days left to live (and yeah, I'd choose a longer month and not February!), what would you do?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

and the list grows...

This is a tad bit scary, but at this rate my project list for 2010 will be full by the time the new year arrives. What is exciting is the cool projects I'm lining up for myself. We went to an estate sale this morning, where we purchased the rocking chair below. Dare I brag and say it was only $10?
The frame is in good shape; it just needs a good polishing and some new slipcovers. So on my list for 2010 is slipcovers! I already know what material I want to use (I think) and where it is. I'm so excited!!!! Now I just need to finish cleaning up the kitchen so I can head outside and work on some 2009 projects before my projected time line has expired. Onward ho!

Friday, November 6, 2009

things to be excited about

  1. TODAY IS FRIDAY!!!!!
  2. The Wake County Public Libraries' Book Sale is Nov 14 -22. Now I just need to decide is it worth volunteering 4+ hours to get the discounted Sat prices early.
  3. I'm going shopping today.
  4. Today my aerobics class is meeting for the first time ever on Friday.
  5. I'm halfway through working at Mid-Way.
  6. One more hoop and the center of Andy & Amie's quilt is finished.
  7. Christmas is a coming.
  8. I think I'm attempting a gingerbread house of sorts this year...my first ever!
  9. The sun is shining.
  10. God gives us what we need, right when we need it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

today

the scarecrow is blown over and the pumpkin's in the ditch and
i haven't got the mail or on the quilt sewed a single stitch.
the chickens were not let out and the dogs are being bad.
they chewed right through the hosepipe, which was new and now I'm mad.
i haven't fed the geese yet and there's laundry yet to do;
within 30 minutes hubby's home and wanting food.
i've gained another pound instead of losing at the gym,
i'm hungry for the foods that will never make me thin.
today's a gift that i've been given
but i haven't been too kind...
i haven't thanked the Giver
just unwrapped my gift and sighed.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

multiple chores

To do: mow & till the garden
Aim: to cut down any remaining plant remnants, remove weeds, and add nutrients to the soil in preparation for next spring's garden
Result: untied plants from stakes, picked remaining tomatoes, took tomato stakes down, tomato plants sprouting new roots clipped to be potted in the house, opened little shed to get out pots and soil only to fight ants instead, then get pots and find there's no soil; get a shower while supper is cooking, eat, head to Target then Lowe's in search of Potting Soil, come home, pot & water plants, clean up 99% of the mess.
Analysis: the garden is still not mowed, tilled and mulched

But I did conquer and divide the amaryllis plants! We want talk about the lilies along the back ramp.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

choices, choices

This coming Tuesday is election day for Wake County...again. We election officials will arrive at our polling precinct at 6am and scramble for the next 30 minutes to do all the last minute jobs (pull out ballots, set up the automark counting machine and ballot holder, mark off the 25ft no campaigning line, etc). At 6:30am, the polls open, and our LONG day begins. It's not a hard day. The job itself is relatively easy. The Board of Elections provides us with a very nice indexed binder in case we forget something from training, and we also have these nifty little flow charts to help us with almost any scenario. In the event something goes wrong, we have a phone number to call the Wake County BOE for answers. The job is fairly straightforward and simple.
At approximately 9am, our trickle of voters will stop. From 9am to about 3pm, we'll have an occasional voter. (In all, we'll process maybe 300 people...and that's a high estimate.) And the rest of the time we are simply stuck there until 7:30pm when the polls close. We're actually stuck there until 8:30 or 9pm, but we're working frantically during that time. It's the down time that seems so bad (and is none-existent during presidential or controversial elections).
Our supervisor likes to visit our polling place, because most of the officials in our precinct are crafters. It's not uncommon to find knitting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and crocheting all happening at the same time. So sometime between now and Monday night I have to figure out what to pack up. I have a baby quilt I started last election I can take to work on, or some patterns and material to cut out, my sketchbook, crocheting needles and yarn to continue my disastrous crocheting lessons with another official, books, all of the above OR I could start a totally new project. I refuse to drag scrapbooking materials there because it's simply too much stuff to haul and I'd invariably forget something I needed. It's a pity I can't take electronic devices or I might jump off the cliff and start NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) after all.
So if you had four-five hours where you were unable to leave a confined vicinity, what would you take to do?

Monday, October 26, 2009

time

There's a HUGE clock on the wall in the gym where I take aerobics. I can almost always tell when we've been going for 10-15 minutes without looking at the clock now...that's when I hit the "I'm never going to get through this whatever possessed me have I lost mind" wall. Then somewhere between 8:30 and 8:45 my blood starts pumping and it stops being quite so tortuous.

I can set the alarm clock 15 minutes early and still just get Bobby out the door on time.

I can start a project a week before its due and create multiple layouts and samples, then 2 hours before its due get a cool, brand new idea and complete the whole project and feel like its worthwhile.

Someone can hand me a project the night before its due and I can finish in ample time, but feel rushed and think the job is only half-way done.

I can leave clothes in the ironing basket for months upon end and never feel that they've sat there too long.

A pile of dirty laundry can sit in a basket for one day and I feel that it's been there for eternity.

I could spend every spare minute of my day reading for three days straight to finish a work of fiction, but to read a non-fiction book for more than 30 minutes makes me tired.

I could cook all day long and love every minute of it, but if I spend more than 20 minutes washing dishes I feel as if I've worked all day long.

A minute is unchanging; always 60 seconds and 1/60th of an hour, and yet I view each one totally different.

and my watch needs a new battery

Friday, October 23, 2009

NC State Fair 2009

Bobby and I spent the day at the fair yesterday. I think it was our 3rd time to go, but it was the first time we went during the day and had nice weather. If we ever go again, we will certainly go during the day again. We arrived shortly after the gates opened, it was easy to find handicapped parking, and wasn't quite so crowded. The crowd started picking up around noon, so we had several hours at exhibits before it became hard to keep up with each other. I think the last time we went it was an evening, wet, cold, and packed with so many people you could hardly walk. So this year's daytime trip was great.

Highlights:
Ostrich burger - we split one for lunch. It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't place it in my "gotta have again" category. It tasted somewhat like deer meat.

The cake burger - my niece had told me if I didn't see anything else, we needed to see the cake decorating exhibit. So we stayed a little longer than we planned just to see this cake decorated like a hamburger. It was worth it. The funny part was Bobby's facial expression when he realized it was truly a cake. I wish I had taken a camera so I could post it. The person not only did a hamburger with meat, lettuce, and cheese, but also a drink (with straw) and french fries. We were amazed it didn't place. We were telling Mrs. Bryan about it and supper, and turns out she knows the person who made it!

Village of yesteryear - This exhibit is always my favorite. The paper said that the music man was retiring after this year, so I wanted to stop by his booth. His whole family was performing the last time we were there and we purchased one of their cd's. I bought two more this year (one Christmas and one hymns), AND talked with several wood carvers. Get this...one of them is from Raleigh and teaches beginning wood carving at a woodworkers shop in Raleigh (which I didn't even know the shop existed). I have always loved carved wood, and a few years ago came up with this crazy brainstorm that I would like to carve either the top piece of a hope chest for my nieces and nephew. I could then pass the piece on to my Dad and brother to make the chest. Of course, this has yet to happen. I did try my hand at one small piece, but I think it makes more sense to learn the basics from someone who actually knows what they are doing. I signed up for a class through Raleigh Parks & Recreation at their art center, but the class was cancelled. NaNoWriMo may not happen again this year, as I feel another hobby coming on. Thank you Village of Yesteryear!

At the art exhibit (I don't remember what prompted this discussion) Bobby laughingly said I should limit myself to 10 projects at a time and needed to get a project jar for all my ideas. I told him I didn't have 10 projects going now, though I think if I started listing them he may be correct. (I just counted...there's only 8, haha!)

and fun with a smidge of 'oh well':
Poultry Exhibition...we thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the breeds, watching roosters in opposite cages vie for dominance, etc, but the last row of birds (the size of chickens we'd be interested in having) was closed for judging. It was probably just as well, for the row next to it had many up for sale!
Garden Exhibition...I liked that many school children had "fair assignments" where as part of missing school they were to answer so many questions about each exhibit. Yet the teens congregated in a circle of the narrow aisles trying to find the answers and help each other out, totally blocking the path. I asked one girl to excuse us twice, tapping her once, and she totally ignored me. So I gently pushed her to the side while saying excuse me and walked on by. Bobby was behind me and said she was NOT very happy with me. But the gardens were nice and interesting.
Quilt exhibit...was poorly laid out for visual experience, though neatly displayed for space. All the quilts were hanging on swinging racks, and there was only one fair worker for the entire needlework section. She was showing off the 50+ crocheted afghans and blankets while we were there, so we were unable to see any of the quilts from that area of competition, which was probably just as well.

My feet are VERY tired (though Bobby informed he only used up 2 energy bars on his wheelchair battery) but it was very well worth it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

first frost

My husband came in from getting the paper with a sad expression this morning. I asked him if everything was okay and he just nodded. After a minute he informed me we had our first frost last night. And as the sun came up, sure enough, the grass was white. I thought I had a few more weeks, but thankfully I heeded his advice and had picked all of the green tomatoes off the vines. I guess it is truly time to mow down and plow up the garden.
Meanwhile, I need to find out if there's a special way to keep the chickens' water from freezing, other than changing it out several times a day. Here's a sample of our latest produce:
We know half of our chickens are laying (the large dark brown eggs, the light brown, small eggs, and the blue/green eggs) but there may be a fourth one, for sometimes we get light brown eggs with dark brown speckles. I like to think we have four of the six laying and the other two will start next spring, but who knows? So far there doesn't seem to be any pattern for when we get the eggs (although they do seem to be like me and are NOT morning chickens), though in the last week we've had at least one egg every day. We're still waiting for the day when we get more than three eggs in a day, though. Evidently one of our girls is supposed to lay white eggs, which we haven't had, so Bobby's wondering if she's an old bird past production, which is very possible (we got her a month ago, already grown). Did you know you supposedly can tell what color a chicken's eggs will be by the color if her ears? That's what they tell me, anyway.

Monday, October 19, 2009

so this is love....

Saturday we had the privilege to see Bobby's niece, Martha, get married. The new couple exited the sanctuary to "So This is Love" (from the Cinderella movie) and it has been stuck in my head ever since! The Bryan's are like my family: large in number and spread out, so when everyone is actually together it's a very special occasion.












Left to Right: Brad & Martha Mitchell, Brad's daughter (I thought it was neat that she and Martha had their hair fixed identically, and was also impressed at how thrilled she seemed to be a part of everything, but yet was willing to stand back and watch. She did a great job, and I think Martha's going to be a great Mom.) Brenda lighting Bryan's memory candle (Martha's brother who died at 17), and my favorite picture: Bobby's three sisters: Susan, Pat, and Brenda. While all three are great about being there when needed, it's seldom I get to see the three of them together at such close proximity. And I also like the fact that even in difficult situations (such as cake layers refusing to come apart), the three of them know how to laugh and keep going.

Friday, October 16, 2009

wonderfully crazy

I worked 2 days this week, but thought it wouldn't be too big a deal as I'm home and "free" all next week. Bobby's niece is getting married tomorrow, and some family we don't get to see very often came in town a few days earlier than I anticipated. So instead of catching up on things last night, we spent the time visiting, which was fun. And then my cousin facebooked me, saying her husband is in training in Cary, and she's flying up to join him this weekend and wants to know if I'll be free next week. Miss up a chance to see someone who I normally see only once a year? Not on your life! So I only have half of my house cleaned and the project for my sister is still undone as well as another project that needed to be done by what I thought was Sunday night, but that's okay. My "free" time is now family time, and what doesn't get done simply will not get done. Meanwhile, my chores await.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

gifts

The problem I have with reading non-fiction is that it makes me think too much.


Last night I was determined to finish reading Chapter Three in the Book Club's book (Because He Loves Me by Elyse F.) I was making good progress, dotting some things, underlining others, until I hit this paragraph that talked about gifts. I read it, thought some, read it again, then woke Bobby up from his half-slumber to discuss it with him. I left a question mark by that section.

It's very possible that I am just a vile and selfishly, wicked person for whom there is no hope in sanctification this side of heaven. I love to give gifts. I like thinking about people and what they enjoy and finding a bargain on something that will thrill them. (Maybe I should just say I like to shop.) That's why I usually start my Christmas shopping very early. One year I even started shopping for the next year with the after Christmas sales. But I most certainly don't expect people to look at their gifts and think of me.

Granted, I have a few wedding gifts that often when I use them (a mini-food chopper, my dining room table) that I think of the person who gave them to us. But there are many other gifts that I use, that I'm very thankful for, but the gifts never remind me of the person who gave them to us.

I asked Bobby if he could tell me three gifts he's received in his lifetime that stand out in his mind. His face lit up as he told me about both the gifts and circumstances (one story I hadn't heard), but none of his recollections brought forth reflections on the gift giver.

I guess that is why I struggle with EF's suggestion that if we accept the gift of salvation then we focus on its giver. I understand the concept, but when I think about my salvation, I seldom make the jump from salvation to God giving up his Son. Well, maybe at Easter and Christmas, but the rest of the time I simply think about the gift itself...how it's life-changing, how it's free but also "costly", what a comfort it is, etc and so on.
So while I understand what she's trying to accomplish, I disagree with her premise. Meanwhile, she's got me thinking a LOT about Christmas!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

good inside days

I LOVE the rain, especially when I can be inside (like 2/3 of today) and work on things. I had the opportunity to work at my old job today, and other than the minor computer quirk of not being able to get into the system for a while, things went rather smoothly. I accomplished a little over 1/2 of what needs to be done there this week, and hopefully I can be in and out in a few hours tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I am enjoying being at home and for the moment, out of the rain. Now if the geese and chickens and dogs would simply tilt their mouths backward and fill up on rainwater, I would be set. Alas, I don't think they'll comply.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

say WHAT?!

The definition of racism is having the power to enforce one's prejudices that ultimately are negative to the person or population against which the attitude is directed. ~ Eleanora Tate
Several years ago I had the privilege of listening to a lecture by a published author. Her name was Eleanora Tate, and I was so impressed not only with her lecture (that particular conference had a few lectures I felt wasted my time), but also with her kindness in talking with attendees afterward. I had heard stories of arrogance and condescension from editors and published authors, but found Eleanora to be very friendly and helpful to all of us attendees totally new to the world of publishing. Eleanora's speciality is historical fiction, specifically about African-Americans. I found it commendable that instead of bemoaning her childhood and the lack of books dealing with her culture, she is researching and writing to fill that gap for today's children. There's no self-aggrandment nor self-pity in her presentations for her books or when asked about her childhood. And I not only respect but also appreciate that.
So imagine my surprise this morning when I opened up an article where she was interviewed, only to find the above statement. By her definition, Democrats are racist against Republicans, every nation is racist against others, Christians are racists against sinners, and atheists are racists against Christians, and the list goes on and on and on. Basically, every single person who belongs to any kind of group or thought is a racist. I am so totally flabbergasted and blown away by such nonsense. Perhaps she was simply trying to be diplomatic in explaining how many people are racists, but she basically took a broad brush and painted every single social human being as a racist, including herself.
Another newsworthy item coming from the children's lit world is the newly arriving Winnie The Pooh book. I'm not totally sure how I feel about this. I was angrily horrified when the group owning the rights to L.M.Montgomery's writings made a second series of movies about Anne that TOTALLY contradicted the written series. In my mind that was outright sacrilege. But this is a little bit different. Yes, Milne is dead, but the Return to the Hundred Acre Wood is supposed to be about Christopher Robin's return from school, with a new character to boot. The old characters aren't supposed to change any, nor contradict Milne's original writings. But that's what gets me. How can anyone know what Milne would or would not have done with his characters? I have never liked the thought that I might write a book and 50 to 100 years after I'm gone someone could acquire the rights and come back and rewrite it, or edit or modify it (like they've done with Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, etc) and give it a totally new meaning or slant.
I suppose ultimately I have to agree with Solomon's writing that "All is vanity." and "Increasing knowledge increaseth sorrow." The more I learn about the history and background of the world of children's literature (or literature in general) the less inclined I am to read or write anything. Perhaps it is that yearning for eternity that God has placed in our hearts, and such follies and brokenness only serve to remind us of the depraved world we live in.
And now that I've written a really dreary post, I'm going to find something else to do that will cheer me up.

Monday, October 12, 2009

2 sides of a coin

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
~ Newton's 3rd Law of Motion
Today is the day the Wake County Board of Elections certifies the election results. All our monotonous work last Tuesday will be legally finalized. Today will determine whether or not District 2 (Garner's education district) will have a run-off in November (which for election officials determines whether or not we have to contend with 2 ballots: one for those in the town limits and those like me outside of the town limits).
The sad thing is on our October election only 10% of our precinct turned out to vote. This election ushered in a round of conservatives onto the Wake County School Board, and the main issue at stake, depending on who you ask, is either diversity or busing. In actuality, it eventually all boils down to the same thing. I don't know what the results of this election will bring. Proponents of neighborhood schools cheer - this was the candidates' promise. Civil rights activists moan for inequality is supposedly to come.
As always, I have a multitude of intersecting thoughts on the issue. What civil rights activists fail to realize is that October's reaction (whether by the voters or lack thereof) is a perfect example of Newton's Third Law of Motion. The previous school board blatantly ignored families, choosing diversity over family rights and family authority. Decisions to prohibit siblings to attend the same high school, busing one across town when there's a high school just down the street, for the sake of diversity, would of course push parents to unite for a neighborhood school. Had common sense prevailed and the board allowed an exception in such cases, while it would have created minor headaches from other parents fighting reassignment, it would have helped families feel the BOE actually cared about families. Decisions to turn every single elementary school into a year-round facility, regardless of parents' wishes or desires prompted a lawsuit, resulting in a ruling overturning the BOE decision and costing taxpayers even more money. Had BOE even remotely cared about families and the hardship of having a HS and MS kid on one school schedule with an elementary child on a totally different schedule, this election might not have been the equal but opposite reaction. I think most everyone would agree that diversity and equality of education is important. Yet I also hear from neighbors who haven't moved in 20 years, and by the time their child begins third grade he will be in his second school and slated for reassignment the next year. Does anyone wonder why Wake County school students are performing below level? Some children may thrive with changing environments, but many don't. Does diversity and equality of education mean everyone must receive a substandard education? When students are bussed around so much to balance out the economic backgrounds of students that parents become concerned with their kids being in a classroom where only 1/2 speak English and pull them out for a private school or homeschooling, then what has all the extra money we've spent on busing truly accomplish?
I do understand some of the fears of the civil rights community. Neighborhood schools sometimes suffer. But I disagree with the reason being racial. The reason is in appropriate priorities.
From first through third grade I attended an all white school. Half-way through third grade we moved to another town in the same county that was integrated. Same textbooks, same lessons, but a totally different mindset. The active parents' association was gone, as were music classes and the top of the line library. Oh we had a library, but with about half the books. My new school did have a top of the line playground. Sports, football to be more specific, ruled in this new town, and it showed, all the way down to the elementary school. I received a somewhat decent education, but only because my parents and I cared. By high school extra money from the community went to the quarterback club or some other sports organization, not replacing ancient books in the library or dried up chemicals in the antiquated science lab. We sold candy and paid extra science dues to cut up frogs in biology class while the football players were given free steaks for supper every Thursday night. My cousins from the all white high school attended universities and didn't seem to struggle with classes too much. Students from my integrated high school usually attended the local jr college. Those who did go straight to university often did fine in classrooms, but struggled valiantly to earn a D in science lab. When you enter a lab where the assignment is given and the instructor only comes to check final results, and you're left with instructions such as 1. Fill the beaker with.... and you have absolutely no clue what a beaker is, how can you expect to pass?
Such inequality from 2 schools within the same county system is not the fault of neighborhood schools and racism, but rather the result of different parental and community standards. Each school received the same amount of money from the county school system. One community felt sports was most important and poured all their extra money into those avenues. The other saw fine arts and education as most important and poured their extra money into other things. The equipment on the playground is broken? That's okay. They'll be running laps and exercising anyway. Let's divide the money between the library and a new computer.
I don't see this election as a racial issue nor think the outcome will be quite as dire as the civil rights activists predict, though it does concern me. I think this was simply a result of Newton's 3rd Law of Motion. Wake BOE acted upon their village mentality of government knows best, and the people reacted (whether by voting or not) with an equal and opposite reaction for parental control and choice. For the sake of family rights and authority, I pray we don't look back at this day with a shaking of head as other counties have done.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

procrastination station

If it weren't for procrastination, I'd never get anything done.

Yep, you read that correctly, and I didn't mistype.

You see, if I never, ever procrastinated, then I would never start a new project. I would methodically finish whatever I was doing at the time, instead of being awed by the creative thought of something new.

If I never, ever procrastinated, then my time would be spent cleaning every nook and cranny of the house ALL the time, and I would never tackle wonderful projects, such as quilts, or yard work, or chicken pens, etc.

If I never, ever procrastinated, that would mean I would probably have a better sense of time and wouldn't over commit myself, which would again mean I wouldn't get as much done.

So procrastination, at least in my world, means I get more accomplished.

It also means I'm suddenly finding myself very, very busy this month. Crunch time is upon us, and I can feel the blood flowing and my creative juices warming up. I don't know what it is about the pressure of a deadline, but it makes me work faster and think more creatively. It also drives my methodical husband crazy, for he never waits to the last minute or leaves a task unfinished. The only instance in which we both methodically do things early is our Christmas shopping, which we normally have finished by now. We're running a little behind in that arena this year, but with October roaring by like a freight train, finishing up our Christmas shopping may have to be one of our November projects.

And having said that, I either need to return to the kitchen and finish cleaning. Or I could head to the gym - the kitchen will still be patiently waiting on me when I return. It's very good about that.

Monday, October 5, 2009

toes still hurting

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12

My toes are still achy from the sermon yesterday morning. Yet I also think it is SO neat how when we are facing (or refacing) an obstacle in our life, and sometimes not handling it quite so well, that God's Word and the Holy Spirit searches our heart and gives us EXACTLY what we need. It may not be what we want, but what we need.

I think of that verse that talks about seeing ourselves as in a mirror for just a moment, and sometimes I fear that is how my Christian walk is. It's like waking up in the morning, seeing a big zit on your face when you look in the mirror, then getting busy when you burn breakfast and are running late with no time to clean up the kitchen or make up the bed and the absolute last thing on your mind is that horrendous old bump on your face. No one else sees your unmade bed or your dirty dishes (until someone stops by unexpectedly, which seems to happen to me quite a bit, and always on the worst days!), but they do often notice the outward flaw, especially on those crazy no-time-for-makeup days.

People don't see my thoughts and intents, but the One who can also recognizes that from my thoughts and intents came forth my actions, which others do see. So tomorrow when I'm faced with ignorance, pride, rudeness, hatefulness, bitterness, brokenness, my own pride and arrogance, and a multitude of other things that seem to walk up and slap me in the face, I pray that the agape love of I Cor 13 will shine out through me, that I will reflect the one who is slowly and painstakingly remaking me in His image, and not the roughshodden, anger-filled, emotional, sinful being that it is so easy to be.

Friday, October 2, 2009

craziness

One of the nice things (in a warped sort of way) about exercising is that my muscles are often sore. So when I stop at Target on my way home from the gym, even when I browse every single candy aisle and my mouth waters a little bit at all the sale items, my muscles wouldn't let me buy a single thing. Every move of my arms said, "Uh-uh...we hurt too bad...and you want to cause us MORE pain?"
Counting calories has helped me to be more stingy with what I eat. I need all the energy I can get, and eating a piece of dessert means eating healthier items (like green beans, broccoli, or steamed cabbage) to make room for that piece of apple pie. If nothing else, this 10 for 10 challenge has really forced me to evaluate how out of control I've allowed my eating to become. Instead of me controlling my food, I've allowed it to control me.
I keep telling myself that I didn't put all this weight on overnight, and it's not going to come off overnight, either. AND for the first time in a few years, my blood pressure is now under the borderline for high bp instead of on or over it. WHOOHOOO!
And I've heard a few rumbles of discouragement or dissatisfaction from a few who are struggling with the challenge. I'm debating whether or not we need a half-way pep rally to encourage each other on. We could swap healthy, but tasty, recipes, exercise together, or just chat. Does anyone have any other ideas?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

weekend reading

I sadly realized today that my "free" weekend isn't quite as free as I would like for it to be. Elections for Wake County are next Tuesday, meaning I have to read the election official's training manual before then. I think I can skim through it in an hour or two. I intentionally didn't sign up to work the help table, so that's a whole section I don't need to read.

And of course, there's the "love me" book that our ladies are reading at church. I think our first meeting on that one is in 2.5 weeks. I'm actually at the beginning of Chapt 3, so I'm not to worried about having the 6 read in time. Not yet anyway.

AND it's the first Saturday of the month, so I'd like to make a quick trip to the "hazardous" landfill to dump off all these empty and half-empty paint cans that have been hanging out at our house for um, well, several years.

I did wash a few windows and siding today, though I've still to tackle the garden, shrubs, and flowerbeds. But hey, there's always next week...right?