Saturday, October 27, 2012
Hot, sweaty days in the kitchen.
I did it as a young woman once or twice and then never again. It was too much work. Plus my mother HAD to can in order to keep us fed, and for me that carried a stigma into adulthood that resulted in me purchasing a lot of commercially processed goods that would have been nutritionally better for us if they'd been homemade.
Well, I never thought I'd be so much my mother's daughter, but I'm coming full circle on this issue.
I caught the canning bug last year when making peach jam from a box of peaches my in-laws gave us.
Right after that I froze umpteen hundred gallon bags of corn from several boxes of freshly-picked ears of corn that my in-laws gave us (Uncle Ralph had a bumper crop).
And with those two days in the kitchen, I was hooked. So this year I planned it all out. There would be Peaches. There would be Apples (this time, our own!). And there would be frozen corn on the cob.
The sheer goodness of the nutritional value of this annual exercise is primary for us, because our health demands it and because I am now a "locavore" (well, as much as possible). I know there are no chemicals or unwanted preservatives in my canned product, I know how lovingly it was made, and I know how thoroughly it was processed.
Then there is that feeling of security that you get from rows of stored healthy food on the pantry shelves -- not to mention the pretty display that the jars make.
Then there is the nostalgia of the whole thing -- because my mother, my grandmother and all my great-aunts (and their mothers/grandmothers/great-aunts) canned and preserved the harvest every year. We were a farming family for many generations, after all.
Along the way this year I had the pleasure of teaching some friends to can, and next year we're planning a canning party with all of us together. (Might have to borrow the church kitchen for that one!).
The total product so far has come to:
12 quarts of apple pie filling
15 quarts of apple sauce
10 quarts of peach butter
50 frozen ears of corn on the cob
And one addition that I made just today:
5 1/2 pints of lemon sage honey mustard.
That's right -- homemade mustard.
I hate mustard.
Really, I do.
But this stuff is gorgeous and delicious, and I may never buy commercially processed mustard again. I'm envisioning baked ham this winter, cloaked in a coating of this lovely mustard.
Next up I'm trying some cranberry mustard, which folds brown sugar into its goodness.
Life is bountiful,
Thursday, August 2, 2012
I tend to think that my FB experience should be one of the more pleasurable of my day -- not something I dread because I don't know what pics have been posted.
So, here is my manifesto: if you want to post those pics on your timeline, I have no quarrel with your right to do so -- but I will unsubscribe from all of your updates so that I don't have to see them. If you post one of those pictures specifically on my own timeline, there is a good chance I will block you entirely.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Outrage has finally set in.
I am appalled by the number of people who really don't want a job. I'm not talking about people who turn down the job offer -- I'm talking about people who get hired, start the job, and then behave with such arrogance and laziness that they cannot remain employed.
In short, people who will not accept responsibility for their own actions.
Some of the best advice ever given to the people of my generation was "keep your head down and your mouth shut." I've done that with every new job I ever had, coupled with working as hard as I could, doing what I was asked to do and then going beyond that. Gradually I'd earn the trust of the employer and the right to begin speaking my mind, gaining respect through my hard work and eagerness to oblige.
The new business that my husband I started is finding employees who can (technically) drive a truck like nobody's business but who can't manage any other aspect of a job -- basic stuff like showing up on time, reporting hours honestly and accurately, cleaning up the equipment, staying on the job for the full shift, not squandering resources, not doing personal stuff on company time, not making racist or belligerent remarks to other employees. It's incredible to me that there are this many people in the world who seemingly do not know how to work hard or how to get along in a collegial and respectful way.
No wonder the jobless rate is so freakin' high!
I believe there are people in this world who deserve a break. I believe there really are those who deserve a helping hand. But if you come to work, screw up, and get yourself fired -- I believe any government assistance you might be thinking of applying for should be non-existent, bucko. No welfare. No food stamps. You should live with the consequences of your actions. And while you're at it, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and teach yourself how to hold down a job.
I don't know where to lay the blame for this awful development in our culture. The mass media for promoting narcissism in our culture, or the education system that dumbs down the curriculum and refuses to fail those students who pull an "F." What about the parents who identify so strongly with their children that they can't bear for their child to learn consequences, instead rushing in to defend their child's idiocy and poor choices at every turn.
If I got into trouble at school or anywhere else, I was in even more trouble at home. Depend on it. I was held accountable and I learned consequences. My parents did not bail me out.
What has happened to this world?
And how will we ever get it back? How can we ever look forward again to a robust nation, a sense of community, a sense of responsibility for ourselves AND each other?
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
I think I hear Nero fiddling now ....
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
At bat: one of the team's worst hitters (if not THE worst).
That would be little ole me.
The pitcher threw a couple of balls and then a couple of strikes. On the third would-be strike, I managed to actually connect with the ball.
Result: a double. And an RBI of 3. To top it all off, I went on to score two runs in the game.
This experience -- for a one-time high school non-athlete with a C average in gym class -- comes courtesy of our church softball league. Because here sportsmanship is everything and winning is a distant second. As I jumped up and down in glee on second base, an opposing teammate (the second base-woman) came over and high-fived me. We both exclaimed with great enthusiasm that it's amazing and wonderful when you can get on base!
Incidentally, my skills as a catcher are improving too, both in fielding and throwing the ball.
So, I have a bonafide statistic of my own now and a couple of successful at-bats under my belt. Yeah! Who says you can't learn new things in middle age???
P.S. -- Tim took me out for a celebratory dinner. I earned it! Woo hoo!!
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
A friend who lived in the basement while we did the initial renovating and repainting of the house said that he was sure some kind of spirit was living here. I was skeptical for a number of reasons.
About nine months ago I began having accidental injuries in the kitchen -- all involving deep cuts from sharp blades. I'm kind of klutzy, but this has been extreme. By March I'd sustained five or six serious lacerations.
Sometime last Fall, Tim had the unmistakable physical sensation of something sitting down on the bed beside him.
About a month ago I had a nearly identical experience to Tim's, followed by a skin-crawling chill going through me. I was awake at the time and it could not have been a dream.
Just last Sunday morning a voice as clear as day spoke a very crude question to Tim as he was preparing to get up out of bed. (I won't repeat it here.) Tim was startled, to say the least.
After I got to church, I walked up to a friend and said words I never thought I'd utter -- "some kind of presence is living in our house."
Tonight our pastor and two other friends came over. After prayer together, we began the business of walking through the house and the property, anointing all with oil and praying for God's holy presence to drive out anything that was not of Him. As we started the process in the basement guest room, our pastor noted a distinct feeling of annoyance and anger coming at him from something he couldn't see.
When we entered the family room, I turned on the light switch -- only to have the bulb in the overhead light immediately go out with a loud crack. Turning on other lamps, we began to bless and anoint the family room. The longer we prayed, the more the black, gothic-style candelabra bothered me. It was suspended from chains and looked for all the world like something that would have hung in a dungeon of pain and oppression. Finally I realized it had to leave the house.
Tim didn't hesitate. He took it down and I marched it upstairs and out of the house for good.
The Native American dream-catchers were next. Although we had blessed them to be only decorations, I still felt their presence was a hindrance.
Immediately after that purging, everything felt lighter and cleaner.
We continued on through the rest of the house, singing praises to God when we came to the part of the living room that is home to my musical instruments. By the time we were done, ending up in the very bedroom where the presence had made itself physically real to us, the house was clear.
Our friend, John, did the same process along the perimeter of our four acres and in our RV. He too felt something leave as he walked and blessed the place, anointing the corner posts of the fences and the inside of the RV.
I don't know how to sum this up. I am amazed by what I saw and felt and heard tonight. And grateful -- so very grateful -- that all aspects of our lives are covered by Jesus' sacrificial blood and by God's tremendous grace and mercy.
Friday, May 11, 2012
The pasture pipe has been laid, channeling the irrigation water to the sprinkler system. Should be some good greening up back there now.
The lawn mower is fixed and the lawn has been mowed.
My morning fruit/spinach smoothie is providing good all-day energy and no afternoon crash! Also cuts my sugar cravings to nothing, which I very much appreciate!
The Dish TV guy came yesterday and installed High Def receivers. What a difference!
Tim's been clearing the brush and pruning the bottom branches of the Poplar trees that line the driveway. Everything looks neat and tidy and ready for summer! He also landscaped the front with feather grass and burning bush. Looking forward to watching that grow!
I'm home until June 18 to enjoy all the green growing things and the sunshine on the patio, and I'm mighty happy about that!
I saved the best for last in this post: Tim is feeling better and better each day, now that his Hepatitis C treatment is over and the drugs are slowly exiting his body.
Happy weekend to all!!!
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
First, it was the mouse. Then the lawn mower. Then the irrigation water.
And Tim has been gone for only three days.
It started Sunday morning, about 12 hours after Tim left for business meetings in North Dakota. A small dark creature scuttled across the second basement step as I opened the door to call down to Number 7 and make sure he (Number 7, not the creature) was awake. I peered more closely as the light came on. Yep. A mouse. And he was trapped by me at the top of the steps and what was apparently the great unknown eight steps down. He dithered. He sniffed. He had nowhere to hide, though.
I hate mice and so does Number 7, but we were on our own here with Tim gone.
Brandishing a baseball bat in what was probably a tiny bit of overkill, Number 7 attempted to drive the mouse back up to the top of the stairs. In an effort to keep this process painless, I had opened the door to the garage - directly opposite the basement door where the mouse was bound to appear once he caught sight of the baseball bat. A straight shot for sure.
The mouse prefers indoors, apparently, and instead of making straight for the garage (and freedom), he scurried around the corner, perilously close to my feet, and disappeared behind a radiator in the hallway leading to the kitchen.
I squealed and jumped around like a little girl. Number 7, still holding the baseball bat, appeared in the kitchen doorway and announced that he might be breaking a floor tile in his quest to get the mouse.
I begged him to spare the floor.
The mouse outsmarted us both and managed to disappear somewhere beyond the radiator, into a wall or something. No floor tiles were broken, thankfully. I spent the rest of the day giving the stink eye to anything that seemed to move.
Later that afternoon, Number 7 started his weekly task of mowing the lawn. He got the riding mower out to the front yard to begin, and the drive shaft malfunctioned. The funny part is that he called me and proceeded to explain it all -- and I barely understood any of the concepts that he was trying to convey. Me: "You realize you are telling all of this to the wrong person? I have no clue how to fix that." Number 7: " Oh, I know. I just wanted to explain why I can't mow the lawn."
Tonight my neighbor called to tell me that the annual summer irrigation water had arrived unexpectedly and that our pasture valve was wide open - thus flooding the pasture and the lawn of at least one other neighbor as the water gushed out. Lovely. It's dark by now. Tim changed a lot of the irrigation system structure last year and I am not sure I know how to turn it off. And did I mention that it's dark? Really dark.
I put in a call to our nephew, who owns 50% of the horse population in our pasture. He agrees to come right over. In the meantime, I go outside with a flashlight and hope I don't encounter any unexpected critters in the long grass. I don't. But I do end up in cold water up to my ankles. Thankfully nephew and great-niece arrive and they are wearing boots. The valve is finally closed and, as I sit here, I hope all is well out there.
Tim, please come home before something else goes wrong!
Saturday, April 28, 2012
I've been in the City of Brotherly Love this week for a convention. And that's a whole 'nother blog post.
But back to April in Pennsylvania.
When my mother was alive, this was a favorite time of year for me to visit her for a few days of R&R. Their little house on the side of the mountain would be looking its best in the spring sunshine, with bright yellow daffodils starring the creek bank and gorgeous lilac bushes in full bloom. With the soft air, the morning bird song, and the heady fragrance of the lilacs, it was a rich feast for the senses -- a good time to kick back on her porch, talk about everything and nothing, and simply let the cares of the world go by. I think she took some pride in helping me relax as my schedule got busier and busier. I savored the quietness of her house, the long walks, and the tranquil pace.
The springtime setting brought home to me in later years just how very far she and I had come in our relationship. My once cool and distant mother blossomed and warmed as she grew older, and I remain forever grateful for the redemption of that situation.
I miss her terribly, although I know that the beauty she experiences now in Heaven is so much more than what we shared here in the spring. I look forward to our reunion one day.
May your own relationships be full of grace.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
It was an afternoon from, well, hell.
Drifting away on a sea of nitrous, I squirmed only slightly when the dentist injected the anesthetic in my jaw. "I'll be back in just a few minutes," he promised.
"I have to pee," was my only thought.
Then I turned my attention to the TV over my head. I'd selected HGTV, as is usual when I'm in the dentist's chair. Unfortunately there followed a depressing episode of Property Virgins.
You know, where the would-be first-time homebuyers come away empty handed.
Continuing to drift, I vaguely registered the start of a second episode of Property Virgins.
Then I fell asleep, waking just as the episode ended - once again a loser ending wth the homebuyers coming up empty.
Depressing run of episodes.
The third episode starts and still no sign of my dentist. I feel as though the anesthetic is starting to wear off, and this worries me.
I am a terrible patient and have truly appreciated this dentists's concern and care. (Read: nitrous and hefty anesthetic.)
I've lost track of time, but I know I've been in the chair for a good long while before my dentist returns.
Re-numbing is necessary by now, so more injections follow. I squirm again. These hurt worse than the first batch.
Injections are followed by another voyage on the nitrous ocean.
My dentist, God love him, says little, except for the necessaries, before he starts working. So I don't - at this point on time - know that what I thought was a tiny filling falling out of my head, ended up being the tip of a veritable iceberg of an ancient, mercury-laden filling from childhood. It all had to come out and be refilled with a resin substance that is much stronger and not as lethal as the old one.
Two and a half hours later, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY have to pee. And I am $254.00 poorer. And the new filling is good for the rest of my life.
And my jaw is sore this evening, giving me permission for a glass of wine.
May YOUR dentist appointments be brief and painless.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I'd expressed my concerns to one of the guys on the boat crew a few minutes earlier, and he kindly showed me how to tighten my mask and work my snorkel. Then he said, "This is the perfect opportunity for you to learn to snorkel. We'll be out there with you, watching out for you."
I breathed a sigh of relief -- through my snorkel -- and headed forward on the boat with the others.
The water was refreshing in the heat of the tropical sunshine. I swam out a bit from the boat in order to get a feeling for the fins.
And then I put my face in the water.
When snorkeling, the clear colors in the water just explode in your sight, with bright fish swimming below! It's like being on the inside of an aquarium! I marveled at it all -- at the view, at how fast the fins could propel me, and at the circumstances that found me in this place at this moment.
Tim, meanwhile, was enjoying his first snorkel too, for which I thanked God. I had dithered all winter about whether we should go on the scheduled cruise to the Caribbean or whether we should cancel the booking. Tim's been so sick with the treatment for Hepatitis C, and his energy level, even on a good day, is pretty low.
But as we both swam around in the ocean, I was convinced that we'd done the right thing. Tim was tired at the end of the day, but we'd had such a marvelous experience of God's creation that his spirits were truly lifted high!
And that's how the whole cruise seemed to us. Beautiful sunshine, gorgeous oceans, brilliant blue skies and serene moonlit nights -- a true feast of the natural world that God made for all of us.
Can't believe it's already over, but we look forward eagerly to the next!
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Bonus! An extra day at sea! It was too windy for our first port of call on Monday morning at Half Moon Cayin the Bahamas. The ship is supposed to anchor off shore and send its tender with passengers back and forth between the island and the ship all day. Not much at this first port - horseback riding, parasailing, and the beach. Tim and I had planned a brief visit to the straw market ashore, and that was going to be all for us.
We arrived and anchored on time at 7:00 a.m., but the high winds were not going to allow safe transport on the tenders. By 8:30 we were steaming away.
I was still sleeping, oblivious to all.
When I woke at 9, I immediately realized that we were, unexpectedly, underway. About an hour later a letter of explanation was delivered to all staterooms - for people like me who slept through the announcements. The Captain had decided to set a slow course for our next port of call - Wednesday in Grand Cayman, thus we would be at sea for two days instead of one.
For Tim and me, this cruise is more about the cruise and not so much about the ports of call. We were eager to experience the relaxation of life on board. It's one of the reasons we splurged on a balcony stateroom!
So ... Greetings from out stateroom's private verandah, where Tim is slumbering in a chair and I'm about to join him. Ah, life at sea ...
Monday, March 26, 2012
"Nothing beats this view!" I said as I settled onto a deck chair.
It was dark by now and we'd finished strolling and exploring the cruise ship on our first evening at sea. Settling on the Lido Deck's fantail in the dark, my husband had remarked that the ship's "party lights" were not on, which he thought unusual since we could see the lights of other ships blazing away on the inky horizon.
But a second later I made my announcement as I gazed out over the railing at the dramatic mix of clouds and clear night sky. We would never have seen this if the party lights had been on: Out before us lay the brilliant Evening Star (Venus). Directly below the Evening Star, about halfway to the horizon in a straight vertical alignment, was a sliver of the waning moon, peeking out from behind clouds that glowed with dreamy, lunar light.
You just have to thank the Creator for the transcendent beauty of the universe and for these moments to enjoy it.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
There are seasons of life that are so complicated that your brain needs space to process. That's where I am right now. No, I'm not in any kind of trouble. In fact, life is very sweet. But there is so much going on around me at the moment that it's hard to think it through. Harder still to find something to blog about.
Hence, the break.
I'll be back, I'm sure. Maybe sooner rather than later!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
1. A new Miss America was crowned on Saturday night-did you watch? If you were a contestant what would your talent be? I haven't watched Miss America since, like, 1976 I think. If I were in the contest, though, I guess I'd be singing. (It certainly wouldn't be baton twirling -- someone would get hurt if I did that.)
Thanks again to Joyce for this week's questions! If you want to play along, answer the questions on your own blog and link up at Joyce's!
Friday, January 13, 2012
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Monday, January 9, 2012
That was the last sentence featured in the very last dream that I had last night as I was sleeping.
I went to bed after watching the stunning upset victory of the Denver Broncos over the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime. Some game! And you can't mention a Broncos game without mentioning their controversial quarterback, Tim Tebow.
The man American society and sports commentators love to hate.
It is astonishing how much vitriol comes Tebow's way these days.
It's true that Tebow is not a great technical quarterback, as NFL quarterbacks go. But he really does inspire his team with his upbeat, can-do attitude and he does pull out enough wins to get the job done, if not elegantly then at least satisfactorily. He's also constantly striving to improve. Non-expert that I am, even I can see that he played better yesterday as a passing quarterback than I've seen him play before.
The controversy, of course, is that he's vocal and demonstrative about his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From all I've read and seen, he walks closely with his God all day long every day. The press makes much of it, thus it is seen by millions of folks all over the country.
And this leads me to the concern that people who do not know God will come to believe that either God is shining favor on the Broncos because of the prayers of Tim Tebow, or that Tebow is a fraud because he's not a perfect person, or that he is a hypocrite because his prayers must be meaningless if the Broncos lose.
For the record, I've read some about Tebow and watched him closely on the field. I may be wrong, but I don't think for one moment that his prayers are for the Divine Intervention of God in a football game. I think he thanks God at each moment for the pleasure and privilege given him on this earth -- to be doing something that he truly loves in a venue that allows him to minister to others in a variety of ways.
No, I'm sure he's not a saint. But he is an excellent role model for young people and, comes to that, for our entire American culture in some very important ways. For example, you never see Tebow dancing and gloating with glee on the field as you see so many, many, MANY other NFL players doing (it's one of my pet peeves, can you tell?). Tebow's conduct on the field is very sportsmanlike. Enthusiasm for the game and his team, yes. Taunting and gloating over your opponent, no.
And now, back to that opening sentence.
"Santa Claus" as a concept means that gifts are given to deserving (read: good) people.
But God gives gifts that are not based on whether we are good or bad. God brings to each of us Grace: the absolute gift of all time that allows every last one of us to be reconciled fully with Him. And along the way, God also blesses those who accept that Grace. Generally not with football victories, although if there is a deeper purpose, He could do just that. (And that's a whole 'nother blog post, dear reader.)
He blesses us with meaningful gifts and pleasures and joys. The kind you can't get from Santa Claus. Not always what we request. Not always evident at first as a gift. The kind of gifts that, in a myriad of ways, shine a spotlight on just how much we have been given by the God who created us, who redeemed us, and who longs for our minute-by-minute relationship with Him (football minutes or conventional minutes -- you choose).
Tim Tebow knows Grace. He knows football careers are fleeting and that God has brought him to this moment for His divine purposes. Tebow passed up the "Santa Claus" concept a long time ago. And when he's "Tebowing" he's not just thanking God for another completed pass, another touchdown, or another victory.
He's thanking God for another opportunity to show the world who God really is.
Friday, January 6, 2012
I'm happy to be eating breakfast at home and not at the hospital.
I cleaned my office yesterday and today it is still clean. If you know me, then you know this is an accomplishment.
Charley is a 97-pound snuggle puppy who needs to be on someone's lap each evening. This is funny and painful at the same time, depending on how he flops down on you.
I put away the Christmas tree on Wednesday and then immediately rearranged the living room furniture. This will lead to new curtains in the living room bay window and a new coffee table (Charley having substantially chewed off the corner of the table last year while he was still teething).
My eldest granddaughter turns 12 today. Wow! She and her baby sister (age one month) are the bookends of our 13 grandchildren.
Although Tim came home deathly ill, we enjoyed our days in San Antonio with the family last week. I think all of us who were there had a grand time staying together as a family and seeing a beautiful part of the country! Those who drove through Roswell on the way down from Idaho assure me that they didn't see any aliens (Tim and I had flown to Texas rather than drive).
Hank Williams Jr. is being forced by Charley to run around outside a bit more. Since Hank is overweight, I think this is a Good Thing. Hank does not agree.
I love my Acer Iconia Tablet so much that I bought one for Tim for Christmas. He is still learning how to use it and grumbling the while. Sometimes it's good to be dragged into the next century, honey.
I believe that's all for today.
Have a great weekend, one and all!
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
1. What are three words you would use to describe your 2011? Lotsa health problems. (Lotsa can be one word if I want it to.) Tim had surgery, began treatment for Hepatitis C, and ended the year in the hospital in order to clear up complications from both the Hep C treatment and another virus that came on at the same time. I had a bowel obstruction and emergency surgery to take care of it. I also got my first dental crown. That's more than enough for one year, I think.
Thanks again to Joyce for this week's questions! If you want to play, answer the questions on your own blog and then go on over to Joyce's to link up with everyone else. Don't forget to read a few while there too!