Wednesday, June 30, 2010

morning presents

This past week we've been"blessed" with little presents left in the driveway. This morning I got quite the list (warning?) before I headed outside.

This is one of the two smaller field mice who've been enjoying the goose corn and my garden. Unfortunately it wasn't the bigger field rat. Hopefully if the dogs ever get him they'll drag it under the shed or something.
We've also had a dead bird, squashed frog, two unripe pears, a bream, and as of this morning apples (as sides to the mouse, I guess). Oh, and Bobby saw deer eating at the pear tree. Don't they know they're not ripe, yet? Perhaps they were just testing them for me. (yeah, right!)
Maybe tomorrow will actually be a presentless morning!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

fireworks

Last night, right as I was about to hop in the bed, the sky lit up. So I did something I haven't been able to do since I was in my teens. I went and grabbed a few extra pillows, made myself comfortable at the foot of the bed, and watched nature's fireworks display. Didn't think to try and snap photos,just enjoyed the moment. It was wonderful! There were times the light seemed to come from under the clouds and illuminated every curve and depth of a cloud mass, then there were times it streaked around and across the clouds, then other times it stretched downward, and occasionally it was just a flash light. There was no rain, just the magnificent display of lights. The wildest lightning (non-scary, that is) that I've ever witnessed was what I dub an "electric storm". We never really heard thunder, but the lightning stretched continuously east to west and west to east across the sky. It looked as if the bolts were chasing each other. That was one of my favorite memories of something I did with my brother, though my Mom wasn't very happy to discover us laying outside on the ground watching! In my stupid defense, we knew not to sit or stand up, nor to be near a try or anything metal. Mother for some bizarre reason still didn't think that was good enough.
Do you think the Chinese got the initial idea of fireworks from watching lightning?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

oh la la!


This morning we went with Mrs. Bryan to an estate sale in Spring Hope, NC. All the items listed I had been interested in purchasing sold before we got there, but we thoroughly enjoyed looking around both the house and the property. If we didn't have a place to live, or if this place were in Walker County, AL or in the mountains, we would seriously consider purchasing the place. The house is a log cabin, with the stair railings and upstairs door frames made from tree trunks and limbs. Every room had either a built in bookcase or corner cabinet (and I love both of those things!) and it had a ramp and level doorway on the first floor! Behind the house was an old barn that had once been a chicken house, a shed that had a small pen and two dog houses attached, and an old cow barn/shelter. The cellar/spacing under the house needed a little work, as did the sheds, (okay, and probably the house, too) but it was an absolutely gorgeous place. I don't think my mother-in-law would like living there, but she commented more than once that her eldest and youngest daughter would absolutely love it!
The only down-sides to the house were the limited wall outlets and light fixture attachments (which is why every single room had multiple candles, candle holders, and lanterns for sale! :)
As much as I've always dreamed of taking an old home and fixing it up to live in, and even though this house is very close to livable as is, the reality is we have a home that demands a fair amount of my time and energy. Not to mention that we happen to like the location where we currently are. But if Bobby retired tomorrow and wanted to move, this would be a really cool place to go. And maybe by the time we got it fixed up, we could flip it and head to AL.
Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

Friday, June 25, 2010

6 month check-up

Well, by next Wednesday this year will be half-way over. While swimming laps this morning I realized I was listening to Christmas music. The range-of-motion teacher had her class stretching to it! It was quite funny, and also a little startling as someone asked me this past week if I had started my Christmas shopping yet. And for the second year in a row, the answer was no. (For new readers, I'm one of those strange people who normally shop all year long!)

This year's project list still does not have anything checked off. And I can honestly say that doesn't bother me. Life has been chock full of exciting, wonderful and even some boring things that have kept me very busy.

Some of the more fun things that have happened during the first 6 months of 2010:
  • shopping at a nursery for church plants - I have always wanted to visit the Campbell's nursery on Tryon Rd, and searching for drought-proof plants gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. Even more fun was returning with Rahmatu to thoroughly check out the place. It's nice to have a friend who likes plants just as much, if not more, than I do! Next we're heading to some place downtown Raleigh. The not so fun part of this was digging out all the root-bound ivy in the old planters! I dare not count how many hours were spent on this!
  • gardening & chickens - these on-going, food producing hobbies provides both entertainment and work! I could probably post something every week about the critters at our place, whether it be deer eating our pears, rats in the garden or broody birds!
  • Apples of Gold - this 6 week class usurped my reserved quilting time and kept us up WAY past our bedtime, but the lessons learned where worth the very rough Friday mornings. I enjoyed the time, but was also a thankful when it finally ended and life became a little less hectic. I'm one of those strange people who really does not enjoy having every night of my week filled with something.
  • And more classes! - I took a few quilting classes the beginning of this year, and thoroughly enjoyed them.
So what's coming up (Lord willing) for the last 6 months of 2010? Hopefully you'll finally be seeing pictures of some completed projects, as well as various stages of others. And of course they'll be a few more trips sprinkled in, along with classes, ramblings, and Christmas ideas. Onward 2010!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

memories

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to spend with my family.
There's nothing more pleasant and strange than doing things you did as a child, only as an adult.
As a child I always enjoyed working in the garden with my Dad. The only difference is that now I ask questions and discuss various ways to do things while working instead of waiting for instructions on what to do. The only down side is that it makes me wish I were closer so I could help them out more.
Another wonderful highlight was the news that my cousin's two teenage girls accepted Christ while at camp! I am SO excited for them as individuals and as a family!
One of the neat things from this weekend was the time with my 10 year old nephew and his 6 year old sister. We had what has become the normal "drawing challenge" where we all sit down with paper and pencils and Aunt Monica assigns a topic or item to draw, and the three of us draw it on our own piece of paper. The previous two times we were together we did this, and evidently it was important enough to them and my Mom that Mom had saved all our artwork from the last time and we had to pull out the folder and laugh at our pictures. Another wonderful highlight was that Mason had saved some of his better drawings in a three ring binder and brought for me to see. It was one of those special, but calm times that will always be in my mind.
But not everything was that calm. In the midst of the Alabama heat and humidity where walking outside makes your hair collapse and your skin "glisten" (the ladylike word for "sweat"), I took mercy on them from the upper porch and squirted them with water guns as they showed off their bike skills. Needless to say, we had numerous water gun battles after that.
And between the return trip home and my day of "work" at the polls, I've appliqued and appliqued and appliqued. On the way to church last night I started counting squares, thinking for certain I had enough to start piecing the quilt top together. Sadly, I'm 36 squares short. I'm going to refigure and recalculate before I sew any more, though. I guess my concept of time is another area where I take after my Mom - neither one of us is very good at judging how long a project will take.
Which brings me to today. Between the travel, erratic sleeping, and the early morning, late night of Tuesday and the rush to run errands and church Wednesday, today was the day my body said "Enough!" and repeatedly crashed on me. In between grocery runs, laundry, gardening, and minor cleaning, I napped. My body is still protesting, though not quite as badly. I began the iron enriched foods at supper, and we'll try to continue them on the next few days and see if that does the trick. There's nothing like greens, beans, and OJ to pump up the iron count and energy (or to give you gas!), but after all these years I'm finally learning that when fatigue sets in to this degree my iron count is usually close to depletion. And when that happens, my emotions quickly follow.
Meanwhile, Big Buff moved with her hind parts in front of the small door, so we relocated her to the old dog pen today!!! For the last 3 hours she has protested, squawked, and done her best to fly the coop, but has finally gone to her nest with the 6 eggs I allotted her. Hopefully tomorrow egg production in the hen house will return to normal and she can hatch out her biddies in her new location if she chooses. And I can boil an egg without any thought as to what might be inside. AHHH...the little things in life I so often take for granted!
And the summer brazenly and blazingly continues.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

if

if I had to be a prairie woman in the 1800's, i'd probably die
if I had to work outside in the garden every morning, i'd probably die
or else be a whole lot skinnier and more exhausted
if I weeded my garden on a regular basis it wouldn't look so bad
if tilling the earth was easy God wouldn't have made it part of the punishment
if my tomatoes don't start ripening correctly i'm going to be one upset person
if it weren't for the fact that i have too much to do, i'd be heading to the store for a dr.pepper
it's too hot for chocolate
are you in shock that i actually wrote that?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

returning to our "roots"

Aggression...it's been in the media quite a bit lately. Bob Etheridge reacting aggressively to aggressive "kids" on the street; a NC Republican chairman pushing a critical Democrat and receiving a nose punch in return, and a police officer on the news this morning for slugging a young woman after she shoved him.
I know we like to think of ourselves as a civilized society, but the reality is we're actually quite tame in comparison with historical Americans and other countries. It's not unheard of for Japanese and Korean governments to have out and out brawls during governmental meetings, and the US Congress in its earlier years actually had one Congressman cane another.
But the real clincher was the Confederate States of America Congress, where members accosted each other so much that it prompted then Vice-President Stephens to say it was a good thing their meetings were closed to the public and kept private "some of the most disgraceful scenes ever enacted by a legislative body." Among some of the assaults: Benjamin Hill of GA bloodied William Yancey of AL with his inkstand. During an argument, the Journal Clerk of House shot and killed the House Chief Clerk, and Henry Foot of TN attacked colleagues various times with the following objects: his fists, a bowie knife, a revolver, and his umbrella.
So comparing our past with today's "assault and atrocities", we're actually quite tame. I mean, what's a little punch in the nose or grabbing a person by the scruff a neck compared to being beaten with a cane, umbrella, or inkstand? I'll leave it to each individual reader to decide whether or not our society has actually become more civilized or wimpier. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

gearing up

Thursday I will head home. And as is the norm before every trip, the mental packing and sorting has begun. I love seeing my family and familiar sights from my childhood. But I absolutely hate the preparations and somewhat dislike the actual traveling. People think I'm crazy, but as much as I enjoy going places, I really don't like to travel.
And not helping is the fact that Wake County DOES have a primary run-off, so I'll be up at 4am the morning after we return and work from 6am until we finalize everything, which is normally between 8:30 and 9pm. So to help me get in the right frame of mind, run my errands and tackle the growing monster of clothes to be ironed, here's my blessing list for today:

  1. I'll get a small check in three weeks!
  2. My husband has a job.
  3. I get to see my family.
  4. My niece is excited about us coming.
  5. I can see how my Mom is doing for myself.
  6. I'll have 24 hours in the next week where I'll be unable to do anything but read or quilt. (travel and empty poll time)
  7. The fish tank is still clean.
  8. I didn't see that big, ugly field rat last night. :)
  9. I actually like to eat cucumbers, and we have a few.
  10. I weighed in 1.5 pounds less at the gym yesterday!!! (and may that serve as an impetus to keep away the peanut M&Ms and Dr. Pepper I'm craving!)
Blessings on you fellow readers as you live your lives to the fullest!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hancocks update

After filing an on-line complaint with Hancocks, the Raleigh store manager called today to see what they could do to make things right. When I told her I thought $10 of store credit would cover the damaged material, she said she'd call headquarters and call me back. They would replace the fabric if I brought it back in. Ummm, what part of "it's already been cut" did she not understand? And $10 is not worth driving back to Raleigh for this week. But I was happy for the prompt response, and she did tell me that they've hired three new employees this month. But I don't think I'll go back there for fabric. Their sewing machine attachments and such are great and they've always been helpful in that area, but I don't have the patience, time, or money to waste on something like that again. Anyhooo, just wanted you to know that their customer service does respond!
One week ago today I came home from the grocery store, opened the deep freeze, and found water flowing off the lid and all the "frost"/ice in chunks on top of the food. Thankfully Bobby was home, and he called his Mom to make room in her freezer while I started sorted thawed, partially thawed, and still frozen into piles. The next morning I began the arduous task of searching for a new freezer, as well as attempting to move the chest out and clean.
The broken chest

11 years of dust bunnies underneath it

and the new freezer in place!

I broke tradition by going with an upright freezer. Everyone I know has always had a chest freezer. They hold more food, for one thing. But I decided since it was just the two of us, that wasn't a concern. Also, I'm tired of bending double and having the blood run to my head for forty-five minutes every year while I empty the freezer to defrost and clean it. Those days are now gone. So our 3/4 full chest freezer totally filled up the upright, but I can now tell exactly what we have without having to shove half the contents of the freezer around looking for an item. I also think it will help somewhat in using the older stuff first.

Now if I can just figure out how to keep the field rats out of my garden, I'll be happy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

produce time!

First cucumber harvest came a littler faster than I anticipated! So I pulled out the trusty old gallon jar and started Mom's 10 Day Sweet Pickle recipe. I'll have to haul it to AL to finish up next week, but that's okay. My bigger quandary is what to do with the anticipated batch coming in next week. Do I really want to haul two gallon jars on a 13 hr drive just for pickles, or do I have any friends who have a gallon jar and want to fool with pickles for 10 days? All you'd need would be the vinegar, sugar, canning lids and rings and a gallon sized jar. I can provide the rest!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quilting, step 2

Last week a friend and I went to Hancock Fabrics in Raleigh. My usual fabric haunts are Keepsake Quilting (catalogue), JoAnns, and Etc. Crafts. Recently I visited two other quilt shops that I absolutely loved. But since we had a coupon and Hancock's was having a sale, we went there.
While watching the lady at the cutting counter, I noticed they didn't have a ruler or cutting guide to get from one edge of the fabric to the other. I assumed (which we should never ever do) that they must have some marking on the table to assist them in cutting. We bought our fabric, I washed it, and yesterday when we went to cut it, this is what we found:

Ummm, can anyone tell me how that is straight? And how can you get all the cuts for your pattern out of a piece of fabric when an inch and a half of it is missing? And it got even better:

Both pieces of fabric are supposed to be the exact same size. I'm still dumbfounded. Had I not already washed, ironed, and cut four pieces of fabric, we would have taken every bit of it back. Needless to say, I won't shop there for fabric again. It's a both a waste of time and money. 1/2 a yard of fabric should be 1/2 a yard. No one should have to reconfigure an entire quilt pattern because a fabric cutter doesn't have a clue what she is doing. You know that old adage, "you get what you pay for."? It's true. The material may cost a little bit more, but I'd rather pay more a yard and actually get the entire amount I've purchased than to barter for a full amount. Hancock's...you've lost a fabric customer.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

quality vs quantity

I've sporadically been reading a book about fatherhood that Lifeway gave away last year. (It was written by their new president and his son.) The chapter I'm currently reading addresses the topic of how quantity time actually yields to quality time, in the son's opinion. He claims that most important conversations happened after spending vast amounts of time together. There is something to be said for that.
In the father's response, he shares about a time when he missed an "important" event in a son's life: a home run. He was pastoring and working on a degree at the time, and took work to his son's ballgame. While in the midst of writing, he missed the big event.
Perhaps I grew up in a very totalitarian regime. We were taught early on in life that 1) the world does not center around us, 2) there are priorities to what we do in life, 3) keeping food on the table and clothes on our back {Dad's job, in other words}, were a top priority. I remember in high school band each parent was required to work the concessions at two football games. Those games the parents were allowed in free. I always hated it that Mom and Dad were so close, but couldn't see our half-time performance because they were working. But I also knew that what they were doing enabled me to be in the band. Otherwise we never could have afforded the expense. Dad did figure out that if he helped grill the hamburgers and hot dogs, he was usually finished in time to see us. Mom's who came to all the games would occasionally offer to let Mom go watch the half-time show so she could see us. Did I want Mom and Dad to see us? Certainly! But I wanted our lights to stay on at home more. Had Mom or Dad paid for the extra games to watch us play, that might not have happened. So after reading this passage, I'm wondering what on earth this guy was even doing at a ballgame when he should have been at home writing his paper?
I'm also puzzled by this whole premise that every single thing a child does or expresses interest in must be nurtured ad naseum. You can encourage a child without doting on him.
Most likely my parents would have done a lot more with us had they been able. But I wouldn't trade the checker tournaments Dad set up for us one vacation for anything. Or the board games at the kitchen table. No uniforms, tickets, rental fee, or transportation required. (But a good attitude was!)
I suppose it's a good thing we don't have children. People would probably think we were the meanest parents around. And by today's lax but hovering parental standards, we probably would be.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

peepers

I used to love the song from the Tom & Jerry cartoon "Jeepers, Creepers...where'd you get these peepers? Jeepers, creepers...where'd you get those eyes?" And I could tell you where I got my eyes...from my Dad. I have Mom's hair coloring and freckles, Dad's straightness of hair, eyes, build, and I have an unusual blend of their skin tones. Mom wore/wears contacts; Dad wore glasses. We all knew we'd wind up wearing corrective lenses of some sort; it was just a matter of when. Mine started early.

But there are some things about my eyes that I get from both sides of the family:
color-blindness, and now the possibility of glaucoma. My maternal grandmother had it, and now my Dad does as well.

My husband will most likely one day be senile, and I'll be blind. Won't we be the pair?

Monday, June 7, 2010

a Monday surprise

Coming in from the grocery store (and in a hurry, of course), I quickly grabbed the bag of meats to throw in the freezer and was greeted with a gush of water off the freezer lid and all the ice from the sides in large chunks inside the box. Our freezer had died, and foods were in sundry states of meltdown. Thankfully my mother-in-law had just enough room in her larger freezer, so I loaded up every laundry basket I had and hauled everything not melted to her house. The semi-melted food piled up the refrigerator (looks like we'll be eating vegetable soup this week!) and three poor little bags didn't make it. They probably needed to be thrown out anyway, but the other was a bag of bread rolls from my month-long experiment with friendship bread starter. Let's just say the chickens will be nicely fed tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we've got some decisions to make about a replacement freezer. Do we upgrade, downsize, or revolutionize? More to come.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

point to ponder

When you sweep off a rug, is the rug being cleaned or the broom?

Friday, June 4, 2010

bones

Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk aroun'
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun'
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun'
Oh, hear the word of the Lord.

I was thinking about that song this morning when I got up. Strange song, about as strange as the Bible story it originates from, but the verse that connects all the bones together into the skeleton is a great reminder of how our bodies are uniquely put together. And when one thing gets out of whack, parts, or all of us, suffer.

Several years ago I had a muscle between my neck and shoulder tighten up to the point I could not turn my head. I had several visits to the chiropractor (my first and last experience!) before giving up and seeing my regular doctor. Since then I've had sporadic flare-ups, sometimes brought about by lifting somewhat heavy objects, other times by hours of repetitive motions. For some reason this morning, it was exceptionally bad. And it makes me think...if my spine were straight this muscle probably wouldn't tighten. If this muscle didn't tighten, then my neck wouldn't hurt. If my neck didn't hurt, then I wouldn't have tension headaches on this side of my head. And...see the progression?

I suppose this is why Laura Numerhoff is one of my favorite picture book authors. She follows the actions, reactions, and consequences of each event.

And since my ibuprofen has kicked in, my chickens, dogs, and gardens are awaiting their TLC, which will probably lead to more muscle strain, that will probably mean no ironing today, so I will have to iron even MORE tomorrow. :)

And the cycle continues.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

family

WE ARE FAMILY! Mother, brother, sister and me! (Does anybody else remember that song?)

I've been thinking about the whole concept of family last night and today. Last night's study mid-week study hit the first part of I Peter 5, and when we got to the part on pride and humility, we discussed how those characteristics impact the body of Christ. My mind has gone a step further this morning and is pondering the ways those two small things drastically enhance or destroy an individual family as well.

I think every family has that one person (at least) that you sometimes struggle inside at the thought of either having to play with them or playing nicely. (My Chinese students often used the verb play, even for adults, and it was always took me off-guard, but the more I think about it the more if fits.) That particular person doesn't do things the way I do, or enjoy the same things I do, or remember events the way I do, and sometimes my life is a little less stressful if they're not around. My guess is they would say the same thing about me. Which makes me ponder: is the incompatibility the result of pride/selfishness on my part? Am I putting my interests and desires above theirs? It's easy to see that fault in other people, but not always so easy to detect in ourselves.

"He (God) must increase but I must decrease." Nothing brings that Scripture home to the heart more than seeing a quick glimpse of who we truly are in the mirror of God's word.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

unhealthy meals

Before I got married, there were nights that I either had no motivation nor energy to cook. I suppose those were the nights that I needed meat and veggies the most. Instead I went for my favorite comfort foods: Dr. Pepper and chocolate chip cookies (or the dough itself). Sadly, I haven't had that for a meal but once since I've been married, and sometimes I miss it.

Another totally unhealthy food that I enjoy(ed) was KFC. It ranks second to my Dad's fried chicken. It seems we had it at family reunions or church socials, and maybe that's why I considered it so special. The last few years it seems to disagree with me. I just assumed it was because we were trying to eat healthier, making my stomach unhappy with the good 'ol greasy stuff. But then I've heard from several other people that ever since restaurants switched to the no trans fat grease, they've had a hard time eating fast foods. It makes me pause and wonder if perhaps my stomach is not the problem, but the new grease.

And I'm also pondering why it is that our bodies crave certain foods. Is it because we've developed such bad eating habits, is it genetic in that our taste buds recognize certain flavors as delicious, or is it simply that our body needs a certain nutrient? (I've actually read that theory; our bodies are in need of a certain substance, hence creating cravings, but we attempt to satisfy those needs with unhealthy choices.)

Meanwhile, I've abstained from all I've craved today...for now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

not that smart

Last year Bobby asked a fifth grader about the show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" This fifth grader gave him a strange look, a shrug, then replied "I don't think those are real questions. I've never heard of some of them." And there you have it.

Some days I feel as if I'm on a reality version of this game show, have used up all my cheats, and still have questions left on the board.

For example:

First grade gardening:
A potato plant is ready: a) when it flowers b) when it reaches 12" tall c) when the potatoes show up above ground d) when the leaves wilt

Second grade Animal Care:
Grooming a dog consists of:

Third Grade Math:
If a sale coupon is valid May 28-31, which is Friday through Monday, will this coupon be valid on Tuesday or Thursday?

Fourth Grade History:
True of False: If the North Carolina red berry is the strawberry, and the North Carolina blue berry is the blueberry, then the NC black berry must be the blackberry.

Fifth Grade Health:
True or False: The "five second rule" (if a food falls to the ground it will be germ free and safe to eat if picked up within five seconds) becomes a two second rule if the floor is unusually dirty.

Thankfully there's no section for time management, checkbook balancing, activity juggling, or phys ed. Those categories would have to fall under some political talk show or Survivor or something.

Happy June 1 everyone!