Tuesday, July 31, 2012

gourds

I have a very limited food awareness. More than two new ingredients in a recipe?  Nah, I think I'll pass. Growing up, my mother fried squash (and the only thing I new as squash was yellow summer squash). As an adult, I've learned her method is called "pan-fried", which still makes me laugh. How else would you fry squash? I only knew one person who had a deep fryer and it was for fish and hush puppies only.  Yes, as one of my teachers liked to remind us in high school, I lived in a pocket of ignorance. My mother-in-law introduced me to squash cooked with onions, which I like, and through pot lucks here I've had squash casserole.

 So imagine my surprise last week when I went to allrecipes.com and typed in squash in hopes of finding a squash casserole recipe.  Up comes a recipe for SQUASH COOKIES!  And no, I  did NOT print it out. I was so shocked, I mentioned it on Facebook, and everyone starts talking about zucchini and acorn squash and pumpkin recipes...and I was a bit amazed. Not only was that the most comments I've ever had on a Facebook post, but also because I've just never considered those foods in the same category. The vegetable family? Yes.  But somehow pumpkins and squash are as related as butterbeans and green beans - very distant cousins.

I've made pumpkin bread and pies and cake, but somehow I can't see me doing that with squash. For one of our vacations in Winston-Salem we ate at some little exotic outdoor cuisine place and I tried butternut squash ravioli. Never again. It was disgusting.  It's a nice thought, disguising vegetables in place of a meat, but some things were just meant to be eaten in a certain way, or not all.  Give this ignorant girl from a coal mining community in north-western Alabama yellow summer squash or not at all. Some things you just don't mess with.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The big 13

Monday we hit another milemarker in our marriage...13!That sounds like a long time, but it really doesn't feel like it. It's hard for me to comprehend where all the time has gone.  One of my goals for July was to pull all the boxes of photo albums and actually get the pictures into their appropriate albums. Due to a lot of unexpected life stuff, that hasn't happened. But I did actually start this week, and was pleasantly surprised to look at a few pictures and realize just how busy our 13 years have been.
And our anniversary will always be special, but it's also our milestone marker for our "blessed years".  Eight years ago this past May we had to cancel our July plans for our 5th wedding anniversary and made a quick trip to the mountains and to visit family (we were trying to clear our minds and ease our hearts) before Bobby's bladder removal (which involved a 6 week recovery period). Those first few years after the surgery we fought the dragon of apprehension with each check-up and screening until we hit that wonderful five year mark and could return to 2 dr visits a year.
We are so blessed to live in America with wonderful doctors and medicine. I am so thankful that God has given us these extra years we feared were gone. And I'm looking forward to spending Monday with my best friend...he's still the one! :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

planting past, present, and future

Most of you know last fall we planted seedlings up and down one of our property lines. None of the mangolia trees survived the winter. All but 4 of the flowering trees/shrubs planted on the actual line are still living. Some of them aren't tolerating this heat very well (the tops have died back several times) but they're still with us. One of the shrubs has suddenly decided it can overcome the deer and birds and has started thriving. It makes me happy to see this long shoot of green leaves. These photos below are what our shrubs resemble (ours aren't as full as the top but have more height and shoots than the bottom):

And then one evening as we're feeding animals and checking on things, my husband asks me what these plants are. I couldn't remember, but had saved the packaging slip and labeled on the paper what I planted where.

It's been almost a year since I researched all the plants and their coloring and height and width and all that jazz. I'm not a plant guru, so I decided to check out the web and see what it had to say about the forsythia. (I think we have 6 of them.)

It's more commonly known as the yellow goldenrod, or yellowbells. I remember as a child thinking they were one of the prettiest bushes in our yard.

So imagine my surprise when after telling Bobby this wonderful news on the way to church he starts laughing and shakes his head. "Switch bushes.  Of all the things to plant in our yard, you go and order switch bushes. And we don't even have kids. Just wait 'til Tim (his brother who brings his grandsons over to run crazy) finds out. He'll run over them with the LandRover."

I know when we moved to town, my mother sent one of my sisters outside for a switch. There was one of these bushes between us and the neighbor, though there were a lot of other plants growing across the alley as well.  My sis came back in with a honeysuckle vine. She informed mother to take something from the neighbor's bush would be "stealing" and that was all she could find. I do remember Mom laughing, but I don't think that got her out of her punishment.

I had no idea these were "switch bushes" when I ordered them, I just knew they'd fit into the spaces between the trees and would be pretty in bloom. I don't see us selling our place, but if we ever do, maybe the next owner will have children and can find an actual use (other than decorative) for shrubs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

insanity

Chik-fil-A owner makes a personal/political statement to a religious organization.
LGBT community starts a boycott that extends to city governments and colleges, prompting stores kicked out of cities and college campuses.
Facebook goes crazy with boycott and support posts, some of them getting very personal and hateful (from BOTH sides).

For the record, I've participated in personal boycotts in the past, refusing to invest, shop, or support certain places because of either their performance or support with things I personally don't care for. That's my perogative as a person. Yet I can't recall a time asking someone to boycott a business with me, especially if it's a corporation. Why? Because even good people work for bad companies.

I don't like everything Wal-mart does or stands for, but I've had many friends and loved ones who have and are working for that company. Why would I wish ill will on the person/company who puts food on their table? And I could go on and on about other companies.

With all this uproar over "rights", has anyone stopped to think about the fact that our state's unemployment is over 9% now?  That everytime you withhold money from a local business, you're hurting people and our town?  If you want to make it a personal choice to boycott a business, go for it. But when you start encouraging others to join you in hopes of destoying a business, don't whine about the foreclosures and lack of jobs in your area.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

the human factor

Last night at supper we discussed the NCAA ruling on Penn State. Bobby was shocked at the $60 million dollar fine and was wondering whether it was actually worth it for the school to continue to have a football program. The reversal of wins, other than removing Paterno from the record books as the winningest coach, doesn't really do much. I mean, who wants to tell their kids "Hey, the team I played football on beat Penn State" 20 years after the fact, even though they really didn't. It's a lot like the US girls gymnastic team being awarded gold medals years after the Olympics because proof finally surfaced that China used an underage child on their team.  Winning gold 4-5 years after the event just doesn't quite seem the same as winning gold during an awards ceremony.

Don't get me wrong, I think Penn State should be punished, but revoking wins has always seemed a little stupid to me.

Other than the many victims, the one person who I feel the most sympathy for is Paterno's widow. She's grieving. She's lost her soulmate. And now? The media and everyone around is bashing his name. Yes, I think the man did wrong by not reporting and firing Sandusky and covering up sin. But can you imagine losing your best friend, only to have his name trounced every time you turn on the television? Can't you imagine the salt in an already hurting wound?

There are no winners in situations like this. Her pain and grief, like the victims, will diminish some with time, but will always be there. Unlike the victims, the precious memories she had have been tarnished somewhat and won't totally bring comfort now.  Growing up in a football state I've witnessed all my life what happens when things are made to be so important that life is skewed out of proportion. This situation is a tragic reminder that anything, whether football or any other hobby, can become a controlling force if we don't keep it in its proper perspective.

Monday, July 23, 2012

a correction

One day last week I was coming home and literally came to a stop in the road.
There was the smallest rabbit slowly taking its sweet time in hopping across the road. I watched as it headed to the thicket that seperates our property and the LP Gas company, then chuckled and almost started driving toward our driveway again. I blinked a couple of times, but sure enough, there was an APPLE bouncing up and down near the ground coming in my direction. I was dumbfounded. After it got much closer, I realized there was a very tiny squirrel behind it. It was carrying the apple in its mouth while trying to run. It was the funniest sight I've ever seen.

But it also gave me pause. I know deer eat fruit. I know birds eat fruit. I know my chickens eat fruit. But squirrels? It reminded me of a few years back when I posted this rant about some idiot thiefs who stole almost a bushel of pears in one weekend. And now I know it wasn't a human after all, but probably a bunch of squirrels.  Yesterday evening we walked through part of the yard, and Bobby pointed out that one of our apple trees which had almost 40 apples at the beginning of the month now has a whopping total of 2. Yes, you read that correctly. 2 apples. It's insane! I understand having to fight and scramble for the pecans, but for my apples and pears?

Yes, the wildlife in our neighborhood are well fed. Between our fruit and nut trees and the chickens, Ruthie's Restaurant seems to supply all their needs.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

the compilation of events

When in the course of a very busy week you alot time for yourself to do something with a friend, with whom you have been trying to set a date for such said event for a period of time approximating close to three weeks, it is a natural, or perhaps supernatural, conclusion that the morning of any such event a repairman of utmost importance will call and have an opening for such a glorious morning.

When said repairman is handling matters of home and land security and time is of the essence, it is in best interest of all parties to accomodate such arrivals, in hopes that job completion will be timely and the convention of friends can still occur.

A girl can always hope, right?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

flies in the ointment

Ecclesiastes 10:1 (ESV)

Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a stench;
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

Side Note: The KJV translates perfumer as "apothecary", which can also mean pharmacist. Growing up I thought this passage was referring to bugs in your medicine. 

Yesterday toward the end of my work day I received a phone call that made my heart drop to the pits of my stomach. One of my precincts (I oversee 8 polling places) had an irate voter that was refusing to leave the premises and I needed to get to that place as quickly as possible. Thankfully the phone call came (as I was pulling in the parking lot) that the voter had finally left. I headed back to finish the assessments I was doing when the call came, but my heart was hurting for my workers. No one likes to deal with an irate person, especially at the end of a very long day. And when that person is irate over something errant and irrational, it only makes it worse.

So imagine my surprise when I received a call back from that precinct saying the voter had returned, after closing, and apologized to all the workers. He had gone home and re-read the newspaper article where he had gotten his "facts" and realized He had misread the paper!
Despite the absurdity of it all and the fear/horror as well as frustration those poll workers faced, I was a little bit impressed the guy came back to apologize. That is not something we see very often. Actually, in eight years of working elections, I don't think that's ever happened. While this the first situation I've ever had escalate to the point we were one step away from calling the police, there are countless situations where we've listened to people fuss or rant over things that are incorrect or that we have no control over. I wouldn't wish yesterday's scenario on any poll worker. But it was quite pleasant after hearing "the voter came back as we were closing the polls" to hear the soothing words "he went home and read the paper, realized he was wrong, and was coming back to apologize."

While that dude's choice of cologne still stinks, at least now there's a whiff of pleasantness about him.

Monday, July 16, 2012

ELeCtiOn DaY

4am- alarm goes off
6am- I am officially on call and we hope to be out the door and on the way to McDonalds
6:30am- I am officially "on the road" heading to 8 precincts for visual inspections, 2 paper inspections, and trouble-shooting (of which I hope and pray there is very little!)
7:30pm - polls close and I park somewhere, fill out paperwork and await 8 phone calls saying "Polls are closed, results successfully sent, and we are going HOME"
8:45pm - start making phone calls if I've not heard from all of my precincts;
9:00pm - report to the Boad of Elections that all my precincts are closed and packed up, drive to Rand Rd to turn in supplies

If we haven't met for supper somewhere earlier in the evening, we head to Waffle House (what other place do you know of that is open at 10pm for supper?)

Crash.

If you live in North Carolina, vote. Your life doesn't depend on it, but the state of our nation does.

super glue

Growing up in Alabama I heard a lot of football games. And a common refrain heard when a player dropped the ball was, "Coach, you better get that super glue out. Those boys aren't catching a thing today."  (For those of you in NC, read that with the Johnston County accent but draw the vowels out into another syllable (or have a "flat mouth" as our choir director says).

Today is one of those days when I feel I'm in need of super glue.

Eating healthy? I can catch that ball easy enough when I want to, but when it's a holiday/I'm tired/eating at someone else's house who doesn't cook healthy/monotony/chocolate craves/ rush my willpower, my resolve could use a little super glue.

Exercise?  When my schedule feels full (even though it's really not) and I'm tired both physically and emotionally, I not only need super glue to hold that ball in my hand, I need duct tape! After today's work-out where I have NO energy left and a long day still ahead of me, I could easily throw exercise to the curb.

Friendship? Nope. Not really interested in listening to someone tell me about their woes today. (Yes, my kindness is missing and I need to leave the stadium and find it.)

My head is telling me (in my mother's voice) "Don't be weary in well-doing for in due season you will reap if you faint not."  and my heart is telling me Bojangles sweet tea and chicken is just what this weary soul needs.

Which makes me laugh, because last night's lesson at church was how "the heart is deceitfully wicked; who can know it?" and how we need to let God search our hearts and we need to renew our minds with Scripture. I'm not a Jim Berg fan (the author of the book) for reasons I don't care to go into, but last night's lesson has been very useful today.

And in case you're wondering...I ate a banana sandwich for lunch instead of something that actually makes my taste buds water. Sigh....

Friday, July 13, 2012

busy weekend

This weekend is our church's annual Family Fun Festival (our outreach to the community). I also found out this week it's supply pick-up day for election officials, since Monday is set up for Tuesday's Election Day. (Wake County is having it's run-off then from the May primary.) I chose the last available pick-up time slot, so I'll only miss the last hour of the Family Fun Fest and should hopefully make it back in time to help clean up.

I'm excited and nervous about this year. Last year while working with the Gospel Bracelets, I was amazed at the varied reaction from parents. Some were appreciative, others hostile, a few really wanted their child/teen to talk to us but they child/teen wasn't ready/willing, and two women took me by surprise. They clearly wanted to know more about our beliefs, but they also wanted to share what they believed and why, and then for us to admit they were right (that there was no right way to God). I can understand if a person doesn't agree with our viewpoint or wanting to discuss it, but I honestly can't see myself taking advantage of a free event and then challenging the sponsors to change their viewpoints and telling them how wrong they are. I like to think that I was polite (I hope she thought so) while still maintaining my intregity. My favorites are the early elementary age kids who can't ready their cards and come back a second time with their bracelets because they want to hear the story "one more time 'cause I don't remember what this bead stands for and I want to tell Grandma..."
Our church re-arranges the wordless book and starts with yellow (heaven) instead of the black/sin bead. I think this is the same approach Child Evangelism  Fellowship uses (but don't quote me on that!) The above bracelet is an example (photo and instructions borrowed from this website). One of my favorite things about our group is that our group leader recognizes everyone has their own way of telling a story, and we don't have to memorize something. Every child is different, and you can usually tell from facial expressions whether they understand or like a certain point of if you need to explain a little more.

It's going to be hot tomorrow (though thankfully not as hot as last week!) so I don't know what type of crowd to expect. Regardless of numbers, each seed that is sown is still precious, whether we reap the results or someone else years from now will. And that excites me.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

popcorn

Earlier this summer, while at visiting an antique store with my sister-in-law, I found this bag of microwave popcorn from a farm in Kentucky. You put the cob in the bag, folded the paper bag, and put it in the microwave. I was a bit skeptical, but since my husband likes popcorn I splurged and bought it for him. I was impressed with the results:


That was one big bowl of popcorn! It wasn't seasoned, but it was still pretty cool. He mused about whether or not I could grow corn and dry it. We're not sure what type of corn makes popcorn or how you go about preparing it, and I'm not certain I want to add another project idea to my already full unstarted/unfinished project list. But it is a neat idea. I saved the bag so I could write the farm and order more if he wants it (and their prices are reasonable).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

a new friend

Growing up, my mother used steel wool for scrubbing the tough spots on skillets or pans. I've always heard it's the best thing there is for plugging up mouse holes (mice supposedly can't chew through it).  But today, I found a new use for it: floor scrubbing.
13 years ago, I thought I had found the best linoleum in the whole world. It had a blue/gray tint to it, with a marbly texture that I absolutely loved. Fast forward five years later, and that marbly texture turned out to be not such a good idea. The smallest amount of dirt accumulates in each imprint, and when you mop the floor, it simply puddles the water with the dirt. Over time, it's simply become a mess that even a scrub brush barely impacts.
To the right is the floor mopped twice with a cotton string mop (once with Pine-sol and once with Mop-N-Glo); to the left is the floor scrubbed with steel wool and Windex. My arms are absolutely killing me, but at least 1/5 of my floor now looks like it's new. Reckon I can have the whole floor done by this time next week? I don't think I'll need the arm weights at the gym tomorrow.

I'm thankful I finally thought about trying steel wool, but if I live long enough to ever replace my kitchen floor, it won't have any indentions in it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

rambling thanksgiving

I am SO thankful that we don't see the road ahead in our lives.
I am thankful that God does!

I am SO grateful that no matter how many ups and downs our emotions experience on life's roller coaster, that God has already experienced EVERY SINGLE ONE of them.

I am humbled to be an American, to have access to the health care system we have, and while I often feel guilty to be so blessed, I'm also greatly appreciative that it's at our disposal.

Honesty...it's such an incredible thing. I am thankful for doctors who tell the truth, even when it hurts. I don't like hearing that Mom "has a rough road ahead of her" but I do appreciate doctors who don't sugar coat things and have chosen to study and work in professions where you only deal with hurting people.

Healing...I am thankful that at the end of our decaying body lies ultimate healing; that eventually each and every one of us who has bowed the knee to Christ here on earth will one day see our bodies completely and totally renewed.

Laughter - Mom always quoted that verse from Proverbs that a "merry heart does good like medicine", and today as I've been 13 hours away from my side of the family, I've been thankful for nieces and nephews who have kept me laughing today. And I'm thankful for family members who like to play Balderdash and Encore...best games ever! :)

Amazement...we are truly "fearfully and wonderfully made" as the psalmist says. We don't really stop and think about how important the joints in our bodies are until they don't work properly. Arthritis is a cruel disease (but aren't they all?) and the disentegration of joints truly renders one like Oz's tin man in need of oil.

And last but not least, I'm thankful for family and friends, and for the unending support of my husband. I'm thankful for the bond my parents have, and the example their marriage was to me growing up. I am truly blessed.

Monday, July 2, 2012

juke

A juke is a football term, meaning a player makes a move intended to deceive (an opponent).  In other words, if you have the foot ball and move like you're going to run to one side of the field and then abruptly run to the other side, you have juked the other team.

I first heard this word over the weekend, courtesy of my niece, who introduced me to the term "Jesus juke".  I had to google it to find out what it was, and the more I read the more bothered I became. It's basically when someone hijacks a non-spiritual conversation and makes it spiritual. The examples given were quite abrupt, in my opinion more than a little rude and insensitive, and made me think of  Proverbs 25:11 "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver."

I'm certainly not one to handle social occasions with finesse, and that's probably why I'd just as soon avoid them altogether. But life cannot be avoided, meaning invariably I find myself struggling. Once I was accosted by that person on a bandwagon and I desperately scanned the room for someone else nearby so I could excuse myself. She called me on it. I was already fighting the anger inside, but later I realized she had a point. Just because I found her rude in coversation choice didn't mean my response had to be rude as well. It might make sense by today's standards, but not by God's. I'm called to be kind and tenderhearted, even when I want to snarly reply "You have NO idea what you're talking about it, this is personal for us and I really wish you'd quit bringing this subject matter up every time you see me."

And I think that's why I struggle with the whole Jesus juking terminology. Such comments are made for a variety of reasons: an awkward attempt to fit into a conversation, the original comment actually revived something hearer had been thinking about a LOT lately, that person is truly concerned and is fulfilling the command to rebuke in love, the comment was not a juke but because it convicted you it made you angry, OR that person has simply not learned the rich art of communication.

I am the poster child for words NOT fitly spoken. It's an area I have struggled with all my life and probably will continue to fight until the day I die. Hearing or reading other Christians mocking fellow belivers for their communication skills (or lack thereof) makes the immature child in me want to stay away from even Christian circles or forums. There's simply no love displayed by either part, the hearer nor the speaker.  It's odd that Christ told us "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) and yet our very conversation is unloving. Or should I say "juked"?