Friday, September 30, 2016


Happy Friday.

It's thundering. The type of thunder that is so continuous we're not sure if they're blasting down the road again or if it's the weather.
It's raining. A torrential downpour, then just a soft, steady rain.
And I'm sick. Again. I don't know if it's allergies like before, or a cold, or what. And I don't care. I just want it to stop. I'm thankful it's now, the one week I have off before my schedule picks back up, and hoping it's cleared up before my next class next week. I'm not sure if they'd tell me to go home or not if I show up with a bass voice and watery eyes.
Like the last umpteen years, my temp has dropped well below normal. I have the routine conversation "well, maybe your baseline temp is below average" with people like my husband and nurse and dr (and for the record, it's not). If I were to go to the dr today, which I won't, the nurse would stick the thermometer back in my mouth and say "Well, it's clearly not had enough time." and when she takes it back out a few minutes later will just shrug. After all, who runs a fever of 96.6? I think I can count on one hand the times in the last 20 years I've felt bad or feverish, checked my temp and found it above normal instead of below (shingles, bronichal infection, and a flu-like virus). Otherwise, if I feel bad, I can almost guarantee you that my temp will be below 98.4
So we're not heading to the mountains for a day or two, we're not going to the bluegrass festival in downtown Raleigh tonight, and I'm not even quilting. But I'm up, and that's a huge improvement over yesterday.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

taste buds

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Dr. Pepper is the drink of choice for many people in Alabama. In college, I tried drinking coffee for a week. I was totally miserable.  Every morning, I tried a different suggestion from someone how to make it drinkable. None of them worked. By Saturday, I decided there was sweet tea, milk, hot chocolate and Dr. Pepper available. Who needed coffee?  So imagine my surprise when I discovered that my non-coffee drinking husband also dislikes Dr. Pepper. WHAT? We both dislike coffee!! How could he not savor a Dr. Pepper? He claims it tastes like medicine.

A few years ago I wound up with a cherry coke. How, I don't know. Bear in mind, I don't like cherries. My husband does. Being the loving and gracious person that he is, he said if I didn't like it he would trade with me. (He normally drinks water and avoids soft drinks like the plague.) But once I tried it, I found it was very similar to Dr. Pepper. I had him try it, and he totally agreed (which meant he didn't like it).

So how is it that the drink I like the most has a cherry flavor to it...the fruit I hate the most? Bobby laughs and says I should try cherries again as my taste buds I have obviously changed. I have tried them, and while they're not as detestable as I remember from my childhood, they're not something I desire to put in my mouth.

But it is nice to know when I walk into a store or restaurant that doesn't sell Dr. Pepper, if they have cherry flavored Coke or Pepsi, it's almost as good. Almost.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


A few years ago after a Bible study a lot of the group continued to sit and talk and simply relax. One of the ladies felt like she was being mistreated by her boss. She was always given extra tasks or asked to assume responsibilities that no one else was asked to do. She felt it was unfair. As she was listing off some of the extras (she worked in a cafe for a plant), I was in flashback mode. My last year of college I was a shift manager at a fast food place. One of my many duties was to ensure that certain cleaning jobs (extra duties) was assigned and done properly. We were inspected by company headquarters once a quarter, and 3 of their 4 visits was ALWAYS a surprise visit. When I handed out those extra assignments, I had three things in mind: Who will do this job without making a bigger mess? Who can quickly do this job so we don't impede serving customers? Who will do this without the most drama? In essence, I wanted the best person for the job. Use the teenager who griped and complained about every single thing so the whole crew had to hear even more whining and griping? I had a hard enough time working with her on a normal night. Have the kid who trips over his own two feet and drops half of what he touches climb overhead and dust the bins where we stored the stacks of plastic wrapped caps while on a ladder? No, don't feel like having extra paperwork and a trip to the ER tonight. So who was I going to ask for help? One of my better workers. The ones who do their jobs right the first time, without complaining. Preferably the ones I don't have to constantly check on to make sure they're not goofing off. And it never once crossed my mind that the worker would feel like they were being picked on. I was simply thinking about inspections and who could do the best job. We had a job that needed to be done, and I chose the people who could do it the most efficiently. It never once crossed my mind that someone would feel targeted or picked on.

I was reminded of that last night as I was reading my niece's blog. She was sharing some very personal thoughts and feelings, and one of the things she included was a time when she and her sister both tried out for a play, and she was chosen to be a paper mache ham that danced while her sister took the main role. And prior to that section, I was feeling absolutely HORRIBLE at some of the things I read. But the made me laugh. If I had to pick a cast of background people for a play  I would look for people who could follow directions, not steal the spotlight but do such an incredible job in a small role that everyone would be talking about it later - and she has both of those qualities. If she's not enthusiastic about something, she simply doesn't do it. She has always been an all the way or nothing person, even as a toddler. She's extremely smart and seldom has to be told more than once how something needs to be done. She looks at an average scenario and has all these creative ideas for how to make it spectacular. Her energy level as a child often left me totally drained. And if I needed a dancing anything...she has the grace to make it look good and fun. She is/was the one you could stick at any position in a play and not worry about whether or not she'd learn her lines or give it all she had. So from a teacher's perspective...she would have made an incredible backstage character.

And it's gotten me to thinking about all those times I've been tired and struggling just to focus on an overwhelming to do list and someone has asked me or reminded me to do something for them. I may not actually physically scream "Can't you see I'm already overwhelmed and stressed out without you piling more on me?!?!" but I'm sure my attitude or expressions convey it. And yet, I'm being asked not because the person is trying to overwhelm me, but because it needs to be done and they think/know I can handle it. And in two weeks as I step back into 17 days of assigning responsibilities and placing people in jobs they may not prefer, I hope I remember to take an extra moment to let them know how much I appreciate their abilities and work. We all need that edification.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


One of the patterns Quilts of Valor quilters often use is the Carpenter's Star. It's nice, has a different look with different colors, and while fairly simple to piece it looks elegant. It also works well as a group project, which our local group has been doing a lot of the last two years. Last fall, in an attempt to use up some scrap fabrics and get ready for a group project, I stitched all my scraps together to use for the basic blocks. It turned out even better than I hoped, and I was quite pleased with the result. I think our group and our longarm quilter did a great job in putting this one together. We often don't get to see the quilts awarded to the veterans, but I do hope to see this one presented.

Monday, September 26, 2016


The house/farm that is considered "the homeplace" to the Bob Bryan family sold this year. It had been in the family for almost 200 years. Even though the house is obviously not that old, it is the house Bobby's Dad grew up in. The new owner is a developer who is going to tear the house down and put in a subdivision. The large oak trees near the house are going to be left, and there will be a roundabout placed around them. Bobby's siblings got permission from the new owner to go in and remove some of the fireplace bricks, doors, cabinet shelving, and door frames. We might have taken more, except we didn't want to take off all the doors and leave the house totally exposed (and we were all short on time the one morning we did work).

My brother-in-laws graciously took down two door/window frames for me. The one I'm about to show is from "the parlor" or "the sitting room" that Bobby's aunts always talked about but which I never saw until after the death of the last aunt.  One of the things mentioned over and over while we went through the house was the rich heritage this family has received from being taught the truth and Scriptures from childhood up. Deuteronomy 6 comes to mind and was mentioned often while we worked that morning.

I am great about starting projects, but as most of you know, not so good at finishing projects. I was determined that this was a project that would be completed. I'm happy to finally say that one is totally finished and is now hanging over the door in our bedroom.

The second one I've got to re-sand (my first background paint job didn't go so well so it has to be redone). It will hang in our kitchen with a saying my father-in-law often quoted.

It's been a crazy year. And while many of the things I had hoped to do this year aren't happening, I am getting a lot of things finished!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bryan Rd Elementary School

One evening last week we took a walk down the closed part of Bryan Rd to look at the school and all the developments. Even with the closed signs up in the road, we still had to dodge quite a few vehicles.

I'm not sure what all the drilled holes in the road are for...testing for rock? Prepping to remove this section of the road? Supersonic sized moles? They go down quite a ways and are spaced along regular intervals from where the school drive will begin to a ways past Mr. Goodrich's driveway.
The view from view from the road (as opposed to the shots from our yard).
"The mountain" (it's what we call the huge mounds of dirt they created at the end of the Elem. Sch section of property) seems a little smaller these days - maybe because it has grass, maybe because part of it is gone, or maybe we've just gotten used to it.
Fire hydrants! And there's more to come. :) But I don't know why they're yellow, unless they just wanted a cheerful color.
The view from Mr. Goodrich's house...quite a different look!
One of the fence posts from the days the property was farmed by the Bryans. Hard to believe these 50+ old posts are still in good shape. Some of them still have the barbed wire attached.  
Rock piles (middle left) are still showing up everywhere. This is near where the gated entrance was by the Stancil place.
One of the many trees being hauled out. This one was as high as my waist.
The view look back towards our house (not visible) from near Ackerman Rd.
My camera doesn't capture night shots very well. It was nowhere near this dark. The light at the bottom was one of the security lights from the building (all 3 floors are now wired), and the light in the top was immediately above the building and was just a sliver of light protruding from the clouds. By the time we got home the moon had fully emerged from behind the clouds. I wish I had a better shot. It was truly neat and beautiful, especially the way it was positioned over the school.
Judging by delivery trucks, I'd say more walls and windows are going up this week.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

kitchen update



When I first saw the color on the wall, I thought "Oh no! I didn't go as dark as I wanted." But I think it looks good, and I'm ready to start putting things back where they go. Well, let me reword that. I'm putting things back in the kitchen, and I'm playing with where things go and purging a few items. :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

book reviews

There's an online forum for missionary women and Christian women who live and work overseas. I know two of the women who helped create that wonderful online community. Even though I'm not working overseas anymore, many of their posts still resonate. One of the many fellowship venues they offer is an online book club. They read 3-5 books a year and have online discussions. I've never participated in a discussion or small group since I'm not truly part of the community. But this past year one of the discussions on a book they read jumped from my "books I want to one day read" list to an Amazon purchase. Yeah, I know. I sometimes ignore the book and fabric moratorium I placed myself under.

So...A City of Tranquil Lights by Bo Caldwell. I LOVED reading this book. Even though the time frame is years before the China I knew, so much of it still resonated. I cried and hurt and nodded my head and laughed some as I read through it. And then I get to the end, read an excerpt by the author and discovered it's actually a novel, though based on the life experiences of several missionaries. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by that, but the book was/is very well written. While the author does not go into a lot of detail about the feelings of the characters, he does touch on many issues and thoughts that people working in China have. And I like the fact that he covered the entirety of the life, not just the pleasant parts.

And then a friend of mine suggested a book to me called Same Kind of Different as Me  by Hall & Moore. For some reason, I thought this book was fiction, until I got to the end and discovered it was a true story. And that made me stop and think even more deeply on the topics it mentioned and thoughts about it subjects (wealth, poverty, homelessness, education, societal roles & obligations). I actually enjoyed reading the book, even though parts of it were hard to read. I commented to my friend the other night that I really enjoyed it, but didn't think my mother would. Turns out my friend was actually offended by the book. It was interesting hearing her viewpoint, which was totally different from mine, of the book.

And the last book is not a review of the whole book, but just one comment from chapter one. The ladies at our church are reading through None Like Him (10 Ways God is Different From Us) by Jen Wilkin. And rather than retell what she wrote, I'm just going to post it here.
This is why the Great Commandment takes such care to instruct us how to love those who are "only human." It tells a limited human to love God and others as limitlessly as possible. But to love self and others as limitlessly as possible, we must learn to die daily to our propensity to measure and compare our limits...
She then goes on to point out the God counts our sorrows and uses Psalm 56:8 as an example. I've heard this verse quoted SO many times by people who are struggling and hurting, finding comfort that God is aware of their struggles to sleep when overcome with despair, that He has counted EVERY SINGLE TEAR we will shed in our lifetime, and has a record of them. But yet, I've never considered this in relation to the fact that there is a limit to the amount of hurt and sorrow we experience, but his sorrow (He bore all of ours, after all), cannot be counted. Neither can we count his mercy nor his grace. So our infinite God asks us to love others the way he loves us...without counting. I've never looked at this passage this way before. I've often thought about I Corinthians 13 and how we're not to count the wrongs of others if we love them, but I've always limited that to wrongs. I've never stopped to consider that "measuring" or "comparing" people is one way to NOT love them. I hope I can remember that when those situations that rub me the wrong way arise and I can focus on them as the person God created and not what I want or how they're measuring up to my expectations of them. I fear this is going to be much easier said than done.

So that's what I've been reading/finishing lately.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

the crazy side of chaos

It seems life is a lot like a hurricane. There's the eerie quiet before the chaos, the chaos, a total peace, total chaos, and then just a mess.

I've been trying really hard not to over-commit (something I'm bad about doing) and am working on reserving more time at the house for things that need doing. And yes, I'm aware of the irony here as I'm typing on my blog instead of prepping for my lesson in a few hours.

Back in May I called a painter. He came out, looked around, and in a month was supposed to e-mail an estimate and time frame for coming. We never heard back. He didn't respond to text or phone. The second painter we called never even returned my initial phone calls or e-mails. So finally in August I gave up with going with private people and called a painting company.  They were scheduled to send a carpenter out this week and a paint crew next week. Yesterday I got the phone call that due to the rain, they can't do their outside project this week and were to show up today. So my list of things that needed to be done yesterday got pushed aside and I took down the kitchen curtains, cleaned off counters, moved everything off the kitchen table and bar. I didn't realize how much stuff I had on my kitchen counters. I'm thinking that everything stacked and piled on my dining room table at the moment will not return to the kitchen. And as I sit here in the study, I'm also realizing how central our kitchen is to our house, and how much of a challenge the next 3-4 days will be as they paint two rooms and repair the ramps outside before painting them.

On the flip side, once the chaos is's done!! And I'm thankful this happened now and not the end of next month when everything will be crazy. I actually snapped a few pictures before the arrived this morning, so hopefully one day next week I'll be able to post before and after pictures.

Friday, September 16, 2016

sausage balls

My niece is getting married in December, and for the reception they are having typical holiday finger foods. I volunteered to make sausage balls, and maybe one other item. Since my sausage ball recipe does not have a "yield" amount on it, I decided I'd make a batch for gathering and see just how much it made. After all, I need to know how many items to buy when the time comes.

So I spent yesterday afternoon making sausage balls and deviled eggs for a luncheon we were having during our  Quilts of Valor group today. I learned my recipe will make 60 decent sized balls, but they were also very dry. I told Bobby I may try another batch in the next week or so for something else and experiment with the recipe to see if I can make them better. I'm debating whether to try a different sausage or to simply cut back on the amount of Bisquick.

December sounds SO far away, but it's really not. I know if I don't get this done soon and organized in my mind, it will be here before I know it and my calendar will be overbooked (which I'm trying really hard NOT to do).

Sausage ball tips anyone?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

not all bad

Tuesday we met with some workers and contractors and Wake County Dept of Education staff to discuss all the stakes in our front yard and what they meant. I'm a visual person, and I'm having a very hard time processing what our yard is going to look like when all is said and done. It's a bit overwhelming. I don't like thinking about all the hours we spent researching and planning, then planting, watering and pruning. It's not like you can just replant a new tree when that section of the yard is totally gone, and fruit trees take 3-5 years after planting before having a strong enough root system to truly bear fruit. I still need to call the underground fencing company and see how much they'll charge to redo the fence line, which is hard as we're not exactly sure where our new property boundaries will be. I hate seeing stakes in our yard, daily reminding me that we're losing almost 1/3 of our front yard. Not sure how the dogs will react to losing that much run space.

On the upside, the contractors told us it would be closer to March before our road was paved (there's still debate about whether our section is phase 2 or phase 3; phase 1 has started now), but that they may start working in the yard later this year. So at least now we have a time reference for what is going to happen. And the overgrowth on our property line, they'll be removing almost 1/2 of it. I'm not exactly thrilled about losing all the trees before it, but cleaning the briers and wild shrubs? That will be one less job on my future to do list. So there is a small lining in all the upcoming mess.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

a whole new world

With the opening of a new high school one mile away and construction next door to us for an elementary school, our world has been slowly, and yet rapidly, changing.  For several weeks in July, no matter which of the three routes away from our house we took, this is what we saw:

And this view from our road is about to no longer exist:
The section of the road past our driveway is now closed to the public and is being re-routed and prepped for paving. The section of the road shown above will be paved in phase 2, which we think is scheduled to be completed before the year is out. We're hoping to find out more this week about exactly what impact that will have on our property. In the meantime, my car battery is dead, my first poll worker training class is Saturday, and the chicken pen needs some work. Life never stops.

Friday, September 9, 2016


There's a group I joined in January called "Gatherings" where everyone meets to work on a chosen quilt pattern. I've only been able to make half of the meetings so far, and I'm woefully behind on my blocks. A few people are piecing their tops together. But that's okay. I'm doing what I can as I can. Like so many other things, I'll finish one day. :)

Hopefully by the end of this month I'll have at least one more block finished!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


I about had a heart attack one day last week when I closed the chicken house door, turned sideways, and saw this:

It's the largest spider I've ever seen. Bobby said they're common in gardens and they're harmless, outside of the fright they give everyone when they first see it. He saw them a lot in the fields growing up. And I don't know how he did it, but he made it disappear for me. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Labor Day

I had planned to spend Labor Day, well, laboring. Our grass needed cutting, there was laundry, election work, church stuff, and other things we needed to take care of. But we had a pleasant surprise of family we don't see very often showing up to fish. So today has been a bit of a whirlwind trying to get caught up. My yard doesn't look great, but it's not a jungle. And the last load of laundry is in to wash now, and a lot of my paperwork stuff I'm going to take with us on our trip, so I'm just not going to stress about it.

But here's a few snapshots of yesterday's fun:

Uncle Bobby and Annie

Annie offered to trade her Mocha for Little Dog. If we ever have to get rid of our dogs, I know who is getting them. :)

Sophia, who was really reeling in the bream, and her Granddaddy Paul.

Gentrie, who will reel in a fish, but not touch it or get near it. But she's a great cheerleader for everyone fishing!

Annie was interested in anything BUT fishing, and spent quite a bit of time trying to get in the hammock (and even more time getting flipped out!)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Where has the time gone?

Earlier this summer we hatched about 19 eggs. (Same old story - broody hen snatches up all the eggs and it's too hot and too long of her sitting on them to eat but we need to make her stop and we're left with 10+ eggs that wee need to do something with so we incubate them.)

Chicks hatching (seems like an eternity ago)

Chicks in brooder box...and we had some of the cutest ones!

Pullets and Cockerels running around
At stage 3, when we moved them to the little hen house, we hit our first snags. At first we only let them out with supervision, but as they grew we felt like they need more time to roam and graze. So we began letting them out more. And they started disappearing. No feathers, no mess. Just no birds. One day it would be one short. The next day two. Then one day the birds were inside acting terrified. Not long after we left them locked up and came outside to see a hawk sitting outside the door staring in...trying to figure out how to get one. We lost 10 teenagers during this time. The last one we lost, I came outside and startled the hawk. The teenagers were too big at that point for the hawk to leave with it, so it had to abandon it's dead prey. As far as I know, that was the last one we lost.

Freckles has done exceptionally well with the birds running all around her. She's wanted to chase one or two, but hasn't. She has tried to stop the rooster from attacking a hen. I yelled at both of them and they both backed down, or we might have had a very bad fight on our hands. And last week started the process of integrating the two flocks. They've not merged yet, but each night has been a little easier of getting the young adults into the big pen. I don't think they've slept in the large hen house yet, but they are going inside to eat some. It's a start.

Unfortunately I think the majority of our remaining young birds are roosters. I'm not sure what we'll do with them yet. I laughingly told Bobby last night I'd love to get a bunch of hens for each one of them, but we don't need that many birds, nor do I want to feed that many birds. We'll deal with that in a few months...unless some of you readers want a Roo to start your own flock?