Wednesday, August 29, 2012


52,000 + words, and 2 days to spare.
It's ugly; it's unfinished; it's definitely a very, very, VERY ROUGH draft, but it's DONE!

Third time must be the charm.
And the saddest part?
I still don't have a title.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

crazy, crazy chickens

Our little ones have started laying.
And they lay ALL OVER THE PLACE!
It's insane!
 So we sit IN the garage, on TOP of the brooder box, KNOCK OVER a feed bag, and then:

 lay the egg inside the bag.
Not crazy enough?
Then how about one in the middle of the yard?
Or behind the bagged tent in the corner of the garage?
Still not bizzrre enough?
Okay, we'll hide one between the food bins and a wooden board.
Sigh. Dear chickens, don't you know that's what the nesting boxes in your hen house is for?


We came out of church one Wednesday night as the sun was setting, and this was the view we met. The sky was darker than normal because of the incoming storms, but this one set of clouds was lit up in the same way the moon reflects the sun. And the crazy thing? The moon wasn't anywhere near it. The sun was in the opposite direction, so it wasn't the sunset lighting up the clouds. It was cool and creepy at the same time.

Job 5:8-10   New King James Version (NKJV)

8 “But as for me, I would seek God,
And to God I would commit my cause—
9 Who does great things, and unsearchable,
Marvelous things without number.
10 He gives rain on the earth,
And sends waters on the fields.

Monday, August 27, 2012

quilting lecture

A few weekends ago (Aug 18) I joined a friend (Charlotte Shaw) in heading to Loving Stitches quilt shop in Fayetteville, NC.  I've been to this shop several times during the Carolina Quilt Stash Dash (you buy a passport and get coupons to all the quilt stores within half a day's driving distance, and for every store that stamps your passport during that week, your name is entered in a drawing. If your passport is full, you turn it in and get entered in a grandprize drawing. It's a fun way to pull money out of quilt fanatics.) but had never been during a normal day.

I've always been impressed with this shop. It's practical, it's patriotic, the owners are Christians and make no bones about it, the store has a neat layout (though not fully accessible) and their class schedule always looks interesting.

They offered a Saturday lecture on the use of quilts in the Underground Railroad, given by Hattie Schmidt, who is recognized by the Smithsonian as a quilt historian. It was interesting and entertaining, but she talked more about African quilts and artwork and slavery than she did the topic matter. And for me that was a little disappointing.

 Some of the quilt blocks she used during her 30 minute Underground Presentation (out of a 3hr lecture). One thing I learned: In the log cabin blocks (the first 2), the color of the center square indicated what time a slave was to leave on the journey north (indigo for night, yellow for daytime, orange for sunset). I don't know what the third one was, but the last one, called a bow tie, symbolized a place where slaves could go to get clothes, as if they were in their slave garbs they would easily be recognized.
 And while I'm familiar with these blocks, she didn't tell what they represent. (Diamond, bear claw, wagon wheel an dI don't know the name of the last one)

 She grew up in Wilmington, NC and this was a really cool quilt that she made. The stripes of fabric and the colors are all very common in quilts made by African-American women, but she used photographs from segregated Wilmington. In the right of this photo, the top building is the first colored hospital, and the brick building directly under it was its replacement, where she was born. One of her relatives is in the nurse's uniform beside it, and she worked there.
 An African piece of fabric. This is not woven, but the dark color is actually made by placing mud on top of the fabric and leaving it to dry out in the sun for several days. The chemicals from the mud basically dye the fabric. Some of the group who know about printing fabrics were most intrigued by this piece of material.

And the above quilt is one of hers. The pattern is an Irish Chain, which is usually done two colors. I've always loved this pattern, and it was totally fascinating to see how making it with patchwork totally changed the look of the quilt. Making it even livelier was her applique in the centers of the white pieces. She used African symbols to go along with her African prints, and it truly looked like a new pattern. I found it very creative.

It was a good day, and I was thankful to have a friend ride along with me, even if the lecture strayed quite a bit from its topic!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

break time

There have been SO many posts I've wanted to write this past week but simply haven't had the time. (I'm taking a 10 minute break).

This upcoming week is the last week for Camp NaNoWriMo.
A) I can't believe it. Where has this month gone?
B) I can't believe it. I think I'm actually going to make the 50,000 word deadline for the first time EVER!
C) I can't believe it. I may not be finished with the story when I hit 50,000 words. Who'd a thunk it?

I've really enjoyed/appreciated the ability to do this during the month of August. I've tried November twice, and never come close (7,000 words the first year and 2,500 the 2nd year), so when they opened up the challenge for the summer, I was pumped. August is not a crazy month for us, unlike the winter months, and I was very careful not to plan too much on my calendar.

I thought if I made it this far I would either be excited because I have a work in progress, or I would be devastated because I have a very sorry rough draft. I'm excited because I'm reaching the end, will make the mark, and at this point I honestly don't care (in a good way, not flippantly) whether or not I ever do anything else with the manuscript. I hope to work on it a little in September and October until I feel the storyline is not quite so rough, but after that I plan to stick it in an envelope, put it in a drawer, and leave it for quite some time. Maybe by that point I'll have a fresh and better perspective on the manuscript.

So when I finish the manuscript, or the end of this week, whichever comes first, I hope to share some of the following things:
a reminder of why I don't always like people
heart stuff
dog stuff
quilt stuff
refreshing parenting observations
my September challenge

until then, Happy Writing!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

a reminder

Some good things have been happening in my hometown lately:
  • a news promotional piece highlighting the Auburn University students who have volunteered their summer, time and energy and made Cordova an engineering project. They've developed plans for downtown that incorporates flood plains, and they're also underwriting all the grant projects. 
  • a manufacturer of playground equipment is donating some playground equipment similar to what they have at White Deer Park, since all their antique swingsets and broken down jungle gym was destroyed
  • a group has taken on the Veteran's Memorial (which was only a few years old when the tornado hit it) and have raised about 1/4 of the money needed to replace it
So I guess all of these activities has me thinking a lot about the tornadoes and the horrible changes my hometown has faced this last year and a half. There are plans to re-open the grocery store in a new location. It's now a matter of when and not if.  Last week when had sevearl bad storms and some fairly fast-paced clouds moving, my mind instantly went back to childhood tornado drills and then my hometown.

And that's when I saw this:

This photo doesn't do it justice, but I needed this reminder, so very much. It made my heart sing. As that old spiritual our choir sometimes sings goes:

No, we are not alone.
We are not alone.
God is with us.
He is with us.
Forever and ever,
We are never alone.
No, not alone.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

childhood friends

Occasionally I will be startled to open the garage or porch door at night and see something move.

As a child, I thought frogs were the cutest things in the whole wide world. I played with them. I made them mud (Alabama red clay) houses with multiple rooms. I tried my best to convince my mother to let me have one in an aquarium. Kids in books had them. But it was to no avail. She never once agreed, and somewhere along the way I began to find them squeemish and unpleasant to hold.

A friend of mine at Raindrops on Roses is doing a photography challenge. One of the items she was to photograph for the week was something outside. And the very night I read that I saw Mr. Froggy, and he didn't hop away. He even graciously waited for me to go inside and get the camera, photograph him a few times from the back, and then didn't move while I walked around Bobby's van to capture his front side. It's not often nature cooperates in such a wonderful way.

And for the curious soul: No, I didn't pick him up. I wasn't even tempted. I just let him hang out and continue feasting on pesky bugs.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Look at me!

A few weeks ago I had to make the monthly trip to Agri-Supply to pick up chicken feed and bedding. It had been a very rough morning at the gym, so on the way I to the store I picked up a sweet tea from Mickey Ds. I pull into the parking lot (in front of the sign you see here) and EVERY SINGLE CAR or PERSON that drives/ walks by stops and STARES. I mean, totally giving the once over. It didn't matter the age of the farmer or the societal class, they stared. I'm starting to wonder if there's something weird in one of the grocery carts or has the extreme heat (it was mid 90's that day but felt much hotter) got everyone checking out my sweet tea when I finally realize what they are viewing as eye candy.

The above junky car. Yep. EVERY single boy of EVERY single age was ogling it like they had just seen Daisy Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard for the first time ever.  Personally, I think it's a tad ugly, but as Mother always said, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

So what things make you stop and do a double take?

Monday, August 13, 2012

a Sunday surprise

Sunday afternoon we joined my husband's cousins for a birthday celebration and didn't get home until fairly late (for our schedule). I knew we didn't have a whole lot of time to gather eggs, tend the pup and get ourselves together to leave for church. I checked one set of nesting boxes while my husband checked another area of the hen house where the birds lay and told me there was an egg there. While gathering, I noticed the 2nd set of nesting boxes had been sat in, so asked him to check there while I gathered the eggs. He did; shut the door; and calmly informed there were no eggs but there was a snake.

in the gap between the two sets of nesting boxes

It either had devoured some eggs yesterday or has eaten some field mice recently. Too many odd-shaped lumps in its body!

And see the green and blue eggs from two of our "teenagers".
This was not the type of surprise I wanted on a Sunday evening, but I am thankful we were able to collect five eggs today! (compared to 1 or 2 a day the last month)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

quick recap of the week

I wish I had time to download pics and write out a report for each day, but at the moment, there's no time. So, here's a brief re-cap of the week:

  • Camp NaNoWriMo....I've actually written more this month than the previous 2 Novembers I tried the annual NaNoWriMo. Having said that, I am also woefully behind where I should be. It's hard, it taxes me, and it's forcing me to be very disciplined. I know that I will not be happy with my rough draft at the end of this month, and I am actually okay with that. In the back of my mind, I already know some of the things I want to edit/rewrite/cut but am really forcing myself to stay on task and simply meet the word count for now.
  • Projects - The kitchen floor is now totally scrubbed with steel wool and (I hope) can be maintained with daily sweeping, spot mopping and weekly mopping. The pantry and the laundry room still need to be done, but they may have to wait a few more weeks before I start.
  • The garden - I haven't forgotten the pictures and comparison I wanted to do between the straw/bale gardening and potted gardening. I will say this: the bales have picked up the pace, newspaper on the ground to prevent weeds does NOT work, and I've now weed-eated half of the garden into a manageable state of handling.
  • Animals: We now have a puppy named Buster, who I've gotten a little slack on in the training department and two of our teenage Easter eggers have matured and started laying little colored eggs this week (one light blue and the other green).
  • Sales: A hardware store in Fuquay-Varina is going out of business, and I got some really cool (and not cool but needed) stuff yesterday. Hopefully pics will come soon.
  • Dealing with frustration: Had a few situations arise this week that made me realize yet again how so far I am from "there" in loving others the way Christ does.
  • Mom: surgeon says the drainage in her foot is part of the normal healing process and agrees the swelling/bursting of the stitched seam is from the normal swelling she has in that leg; heart issues are still intermittently occuring
and hopefully this next week will have some better posts with pictures!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

pondering responsibility

I know I'm more than a little cynical about many things in life. But lately I've been hearing stories that make me wonder if I'm truly cynical or just realistic.

In high school, my parents were not band groupies.  They got to see me perform in the band about three times a year. One was during marching band season. Parents of band members were required to work the concession stands twice a year (and they got in to the game free since they didn't actually get to see the game).  Always during one of those times, other band booster parents would graciously send my Mom out during one of the busiest times so she could see my sister and I perform. The remainder of the season, there was simply no money for them to attend a ballgame.  And our Christmas and spring concerts were free. :)

Sometimes it bothered me a little that my parents couldn't be there, but I knew my parents cared. They would always ask how things went as soon as I got home and they made it a point to let us know they were interested in our lives.

So I'm startled quite a bit to see that parents of Olympians are facing foreclosures of homes and bancruptcy, yet they have the  money to travel across the ocean, pay a hotel fee as well as food costs, and buy tickets to get into venues to watch their child participate in a sport that they have been paying a wad of money for them to learn. There just seems to be a very skewed priority order here. I can pay for my child to live with a strange family in another state, pay top dollar for them to study under one of the best coaches in the nation, as well as buy expensive uniforms, but I can't pay own personal bills, such as a house and car payment.  Am I the only one who is greatly bothered by all this?

I recognize the Olympics are so much more important than any high school band concert or performance. I understand that I don't totally comprehend the parent/child bond, but I do know there are things children need to be taught. One of those things is fiscal responsibility, and how better to teach someone a lesson than to model it for them?

I just found these two stories a very sad reflection on life in spoiled America. We no longer seem to understand what is a need and what is a want. It wasn't that many years ago that parents didn't accompany children to the Olympics. I find it hard to believe they loved their children any less. I'm certain they hated to miss the events, but would have been humiliated to go and then come home and be homeless. We may be winning the medal count, but we're losing on the home front.