Monthly Archives: October 2010

. . .and then it was Friday!

 

“Are you going to go over your bean patch today?” I hear the cheery voice of Youngest Brother in my ear as I am frying hamburger for casseroles for the Hymn Sing our church is having on Sunday.

“I sorta’ thought I might,” I answer, mentally juggling the day ahead of me, and wondering how I would get everything done.  “I heard it’s supposed to get cold tonight,”

“They’re calling for frost,” says Mark, Jr., “I’m out here in my patch right now.  Figured it wouldn’t hurt to go over them one last time, just in case.”

“Are you getting any?” I ask, though I figured he must be or he wouldn’t be asking about mine.

“I got that little blue bucket of Mama’s almost full,” he says, “not really all that many, but still some.  I thought the way your patch has produced this year, maybe you were going to go over yours.”

“If it’s going to frost, I DO want to go over mine!”   I look over the kitchen with the hamburger almost done, and get a few things out of the way, and then head out to my patch.  Friends JR and Linda are with me, to see if there are any green peppers out there.  They have in their heads to make coleslaw for the Hymn Sing, and the recipe calls for a few green peppers.

“I’m sure I have some,” I offer.  Let’s go look!”

I have some alright!

In fact I have lots!


(That’s a five gallon bucket!)

JR and Linda only want a few, so the others will get given away or made into relish.  JR and Linda take their peppers and head out to look for cabbage.  I decide to pick my beans as quickly as I can.  It’s cold out here today, and my house and my chair and my fire beckon me.

Last week’s frost wasn’t too hard on them, but the vines are definitely loosing their luster.  I find some nice beans hanging amid the turning leaves as I make my way down one side and up the other and then start all over again.

 

Whoops, I did miss a few in the last picking!

 

There is a steady wind, and the chill settles into my bones.  I wonder a time or two if it is really worth it.  My hands feel stiff and awkward.

Oldest Son’s jacket that still hangs on the basement door is really warm, but it doesn’t help those fingers.  I remember the hot, hot days of August when I picked beans and thought I would die of heat out there.  The thought of those days keeps me plugging on.  Besides, every time I think I’m going to quit, I find a whole big bunch of beans, all together on a heap, (as it often happens) and it inspires me to keep going.  

Halfway through the first row, and pickup pulls in the chicken house lane, stopping me mid verse of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and an elderly man gets out and walks over to the garden.  He wants to paint the chicken house roof.  I tell him that we aren’t doing that right now.  He wants a few cherry tomatoes that are falling off the vines in great abundance and I tell him to help himself.  He does, then leaves and I go back to my row and my song.

Then the phone in my pocket rings.  Eldest Daughter is stopping by with Love Bug, and I welcome the diversion, going over to the car window to talk to the little girlie who always gives my heart a song.  While I’m talking to her, I notice a strange van parked in my driveway, and so I head to the house to see who might be coming to see me.  Too late, I realize that I’ve been chosen (again!) to be visited by the members of a local cult that like to proselytize on days like this.  I speak to them briefly, and then send them on their way.  I really need to get these beans picked.  The last time I went over the patch, I got two bushel.  Today is not quite so beneficial. 

But it is still a good amount, and Our Girl Audrey will shell them this evening for me and they will be a blessing to someone.

Before leaving the garden, I make a quick survey of the end of summer things there.

The ground cherries are almost all finished:

 

Certain Man’s steer comes over to the fence to see what I am doing.

He pokes his nose in my directions and snuffs at me with a disdainful sort of noise.  I go into the barn where Certain Man has the straw stacked for the winter. 

A barn cat, snuggled on the corner of the pile startles when I come in and disappears into the cracks somewhere.  Our barn cats are not pets.  They are servants.  Keeping down the mouse population is an important job, and we appreciate their help.

Back out in the sunlight, I pick up my two buckets of produce (the peppers and the beans) and head for the house.  Certain Man will be home before long, and I have lots to accomplish yet tonight.  The countryside is peaceful, and the air is crisp.  It’s a wonderful day to be alive.

 

Back in the house, it isn’t long until JR and Linda return, their mission successful.  They found beautiful cabbage for only $1.50 a head at Tucker’s produce, and they get right to work on turning their seven or eight heads into coleslaw.

JR runs the food processor, dumping the cabbage, carrots, peppers and onion into my big old mixing container.

Linda mixed the dressing together, and then worked at getting everything thoroughly mixed.

It took a strong arm and some persistence

But things always go better when it’s a team effort!

 

Finally!  Almost all done.  The measurement on the side says about six gallons.

Do you think it will be enough???

Maybe.  If we can just keep Mr. Campbell out of it!!!  One way to do that is to distract him.  He also is great at tuning pianos.  One of his intentions for this day is to get the piano tuned that belongs to Certain Man’s Wife.  So when the coleslaw is all made and some supper is eaten, he gets busy on the piano while the ladies get busy on the five big casseroles for Sunday’s Hymn Sing.

Doesn’t look like much here, but it is one wonderful casserole. (And we couldn’t have made it without great help.)

I know, I know, it looks like grand chaos, but it was really a great organizational feat!  Ruby got things commandeered, and the gals really marched through it.  Before we know what is happening, the food is all done and the kitchen is getting cleaned up at a remarkable rate.

What this picture doesn’t show is Mrs. Ilva’s irritation at the piano tuning that is going on.  A musical soul, she is, and the never ending “plink, plink, plink” really is getting on her nerves.  Especially when JR trills a scale and doesn’t quite finish it.  At the end of the evening, she has quite enough.  She and Shirley each get some money and march into the living room where JR is attentively slaving away on the piano.

 

“Here!”  She says insistently.  “We wanna’ give you this.  We want you to go get some of them thar’ pianer lessins so that you can learn to play decent!”

 

He looks at them like — Well, you can pretty much tell how he is looking!

 

“We want you to get some of them thar’ lessins,” reiterates Ilva, “so’s you can learn how to finish them thar’ scales.  You always leave off a note or two.”  She plinks a few notes to demonstrate what she meant.

Poor JR.  He is not impressed.  And she finally gives up goes went home. 

 

And when the casseroles and the coleslaw were safely in the fridge, and the kitchen was cleaned up yet again, I pull out the ingredients for yet another Hymn Sing specialty.

Before the morning service, we are having some “come on in, we’re so glad you’re here!” kinds of things — one of which is homemade cinnamon rolls.  I mix up four batches of dough and get them into the fridge, and call it a day. 

Well, not quite yet.  For the first time in my computer career, I field three intense conversations at the same time — one with Eldest Daughter, one with Youngest Son, and one with my far away, almost a daughter, Lupe.

And then I find Certain Man asleep on his La-Z-Boy, and almost give him a heart attack when I rub his foot to wake him up.  It’s eleven-thirty.  And we really do call it a day.  Climb that mountain to our comfy bed and I’m asleep almost before I can turn out the light.

Whew!  What a grand, rewarding day.  It was truly worth every minute!

 

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Watching the Storm

 

The rain fell in cascades down the windows of the sun room today —

 

The ferocity of it beckoned me out, and I opened the side door and watched it fall.

It pooled under the Crape Myrtle tree and the swamp maples that Certain Man has planted.

 

The leaves stuck to the new lumber on the deck with their soggy beauty like a designer rug, brought out for this rainy Autumn day.

 

The wind was wild, and it caught my Harvest flag and tossed it up and out into the unrelenting spray.
Under our grand old Magnolia, the water ran in a gentle stream.


On the back side of the garage, the gutters overflowed, dumping gallons of water on the patio below.  Certain Man would have gotten up there to clean them out.  Me???  Not so inclined.

 

The impatiens were lovely in the downpour.  I watched the raindrops slide over their soft petals and off to the deck below.  Summer flowers, still so lovely in this last week of October.  They bring joy to my heart, even as I revel in the colors of this season.  Somehow they speak courage to me, and remind me that we never know how and when and where God might choose to use us to encourage someone along the way. 

Even (maybe ESPECIALLY) when the time has come that you feel like you should be long gone, our Heavenly Father just might have a plan for you to stand quietly in the storm and let the beauty He’s given you shine through the tears that slip quietly off your face.  Don’t give up, dear friends.  There is beauty in the wildest storm.


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Our Girl Audrey Speaks Up

We are in a short series of Revival meetings at our little country church.  Over the years, with children and ladies and homeschool and all the many things that occupied our time, We would often hire someone to come in and watch the ladies so I could go to church and enjoy the meeting without distractions.  But Blind Linda and Our Girl Audrey go to church with us on Sunday mornings, and I decided against trying to find someone for this week. 

Yesterday afternoon, after lunch was pretty much cleared away, I went in to Audrey’s room and said, “Audrey, we have church tonight.”

She looked up in her usual Sunday afternoon sleepiness and said, “Do I hafta’ go?”

“Yes, I think you will.  I don’t have anyone to watch you and Linda, so I thought you could just go along.”

She looked a little displeased, but said, “What time do I hafta’ be ready?”

“Six-thirty,” I told her.  “We’ll probably try to get out of here around then.”

She snuffled around a bit, but didn’t fuss too much.  She has been very comfortable with the women of our church, and she had not been to Sunday School yesterday morning because Middle Daughter had worked the night before, got in very late in the morning and opted to stay home with Audrey and Linda.  I suspected that she really wasn’t too upset.

We had a good service last evening, and even though we were done by around eight o’clock, people hung around and talked.  I wanted to get my ladies home because Audrey likes to be in bed by nine o’clock.  But the fellowship was sweet, and before we knew what was happening, once again, it was almost 9:30 and it was Gary, Robert and Loretta and Certain Man and me — and our two ladies, sitting in their chairs at the back of the sanctuary.  Robert and Gary locked up and turned out the lights, Certain Man went and got the van, and I got Blind Linda’s shoes on her and gathered up the various belongings and headed out.  Certain Man helped Blind Linda down over the troublesome front foyer steps and out into the car, and I made sure that Audrey didn’t need help with her seat belt.

“I tell you what,” said Our Girl Audrey as we pulled out of the parking lot,  “Linda and I are nuffin’ but a pain in nuh neck!”

“Don’t say that, Audrey,” I said good naturedly.  “You are NOT a pain in the neck!”

“I ‘fink we are — ” she ventured.

“Nope,” says Certain Man, who teases Audrey whenever he gets a good chance (to her great delight — she loves him to death) “You guys aren’t a pain in the neck, you’re a pain in the BUTT!!!”

That made her laugh, but I got to thinking about who was really inconveniencing whom, and I said, “You know, Audrey, Daniel and I are the real pains in the neck.  You guys wait and wait and are so patient and we stay around and stay around church and never go home ’till the last cat dies, and you never complain–“

“I doan wan’ you never to mention ‘at to me again!” I heard a very firm voice in the back seat say.  It had a tenor I have seldom heard.  I was very confused.

“What are you saying, Audrey?” I asked.  Was she really being so protective of Certain Man’s and my right to stay at church as long as we wanted?

“I doan wan’ you never to mention ‘at to me again!”  Firmer voice.  No edge of laughter.   

H-m-m-m-m-m-m.  I looked over in the darkness at Certain Man.  He was clearly as puzzled as I was.

“Mention WHAT???”

“THE CAT!” 

 

 

Oh.


 

 

“I got you covered, Audrey Girl!”

 

(If you don’t understand this post, see my September 22, 2010 posting)

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Saturday at Shady Acres

 

First things first:

Our baby is 20 years old today!

Happy Birthday, Rachel!  

 

We are making special efforts to be sure
that this little girlie doesn’t forget her “Auntie Rach”.
(So far she gets it right every time!)

We miss, miss, MISS you!
We are counting the days!

 

This splash of color gives me a sudden burst of joy every time I see it.

Certain Man and Middle Daughter both bought mums for me in the last week.
I have never had much luck in keeping them over the winter.
You know what?
I’m going to try again!

Shady Acres had its first hard frost last night.  I looked out at the expanse of yard and saw the markings of white that circled around.  In the area that is from the house to about a hundred feet out, (a point where the “concentration of vegetation” lessens) there appeared to be no frost.  I wonder if my flowers might have made it through.  Certain Man is quite sure that the lima beans did not.  I am sorry on one hand.  But on the other, over 75 quarts of frozen lima beans from my little patch is nothing to complain about.  They surely did not owe me anything.  I did think when I picked them this week and got over two bushels that it might be my last picking, so I picked them “tight” — taking some that I would have left if I was certain to have another chance at them. 

Remember this picture?

Certain Man is antsy when his yard looks like this. 
So he got busy the very first night and worked and worked on it.
Then Chainsaw Gary came down and worked almost every day–
cutting up the usable branches into logs for his outside furnace,
and stacking the brush on a pile.
He has hauled a nice amount of firewood up to his house.
Yesterday, he came up and loaded the brush on his dump trailer
and hauled it out to the old burn pile.
(Yep, Certain Man is starting a new burn pile!)

Today, this is what it looks like in the side yard:

All cleaned up and ready for the winter. 
One of these days, we will get the deck railing on and it will all look a whole lot better.

It’s a gorgeous day in Southern Delaware. 
I am having trouble concentrating on house things that need doing.
Now that this is done, I really have no legit diversion.
Oh, boy!!!
I guess that means:
“Kitchen, kitchen, here I come!”

 

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Five years ago, Old Gertrude went home to Heaven.

Today I mourn the loss of a good friend.

Her Love was the purest form.

Her forgiveness was up to date.

Her loyalty — uncompromising.

And I don’t wish her back.

Never!

But sometimes, the smell of Scrapple frying–

The first fire in the pellet stove in Autumn-

The sight of her Santa Claus that still sings “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”–

Hearing and seeing jingle bells tied to velvet red bows —

And setting up the Christmas tree-

These things remind me of a severely handicapped old lady

Whose presence in our home

Changed us all

And made us better people.

 

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More Birthday Celebrations and Sister Time

I have had such a happy day today!

My two sisters asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. 

I seldom get to spend time with my sisters.  We are best friends, but we go to different churches, and we all three have very diverse lives.  Each one of us dearly loves the church family we belong to, and have good friends there.  But we often do neglect getting together like we should because we each have lots of things to attend to with our families and our church responsibilities.

And so, when they asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I said,
“All I really want for my birthday is a day to be with my sisters and do something fun!”

And so, they made plans to go down to Salisbury,
visit the famous Country House,
eat lunch together somewhere,
and TALK. 
Today we did just that.

I feel so incredibly cherished and relaxed and happy!
We had a wonderful day together.

And look what I got for my birthday!

Certain Man will hang it up for me and when I look at it, I will remember this happy day and be so very grateful to my precious sisters for the gift of this golden day!

Sarah and Alma, THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU!!!

 

 

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Exciting Times at Shady Acres

Over the last several days, Certain Man has been broaching (again) the subject about cutting down the two trees that are at the corners of our deck(s).  Many years ago, (like maybe 18) he had planted two Thornless Honey Locust trees.  They were quick growing, and he was pretty sure they would be perfect for what he needed them for — quick shade for the front side of the house.

I was hesitant at first.  Honey Locusts are a dirty tree, and they usually have those big old thorns.  The thorns of a honey locust can actually puncture a tire.  I just didn’t think we wanted that.  But Certain Man convinced me that these had no thorns (Duh!) and that given the rate they were supposed to grow, he really had a good plan.  And so he planted them and they grew, and grew, and grew.

They were wonderful trees for the many birds who visited the feeders, and the squirrels loved them, too, but in the summer, almost before August came around, they started sending down tiny leaves that covered the deck, got into the rain gutters and in general, complicated Certain Man’s life.  He planted a beautiful little Maple between them, and looked in dismay as they crowded out the sunlight, and the maple, though healthy, was almost imperceptible in its growth from year to year.

“I think I’m gonna’ cut down those two Honey Locusts” he said to me one day, several years ago.  “They are just dirty trees, and that Maple won’t grow as long as they are crowding out the sun.”

“Oh, Sweetheart,” I pleaded.  “Please don’t do that!  They are so nice for bird feeders and for shade in the summer time.  I know they are dirty, but they have grown so big, and I really do like them alot!  Those trees weren’t cheap, and you’ve invested so much in them.” 

He would ponder and look out at them with dismay.  “I know,” he would say patiently, “but look at how they are losing so many branches.  Every year it seems like another part of the tree is just dying off.  I think it is time for them to come down!”  But then he would kinda’ forget about it again until the next year when his rain gutters would fill up with tiny honey locust leaves just before hurricane season.  There is nothing like a gutter overflowing like Niagara Falls in the middle of a downpour to make a man decide to clean gutters RIGHT NOW!!! (And nine times out of ten, in the DARK!)   And there is nothing like a soaking wet, cold, inconvenienced, tired man to make loud declarations as to what he is going to do with certain trees that he holds responsible for his discomfiture.

Then a very strange thing happened.  After we built the sun room last fall, Middle Daughter procured a telescope of large proportions.  She wanted the top of the sun room made into an upper deck so she could sit out there and look at the constellations.  She and her father discussed long and often about the best way to go about it, and they did, in fact, agree as the how it should be done.  And when it was finished, Middle Daughter hauled her telescope of large proportions up there and discovered that the trees not only made a problem for the rain gutters, they also made it impossible to see an unobstructed view of said galaxies. And she began to quietly mouth reflections about her wishes for a better view.

I’ve been thinking and thinking about these things.  And about the fact that the “sun room” is really a “shade room” and I’ve been trying to picture the landscape without the beloved trees.   So when Certain Man said something again about wanting to “Call Gary and have him come and take those two boogers down!” I said, “I think you might just as well.  I wonder if it wouldn’t be better all the way around.”

He looked at me like I had taken leave of my senses.  “Do you mean it?!?!?”

And it didn’t take him long to converse with Gary of the mighty chainsaw, and tonight I looked out and there was Gary’s old blue pickup coming across our lawn.  He had a big yellow rope and his chainsaw and he was ready for business.  When Certain Man got home, they set to work, and in about 15 minutes, what had taken almost 20 years to grow big and tall was lying in piles on the ground.

This is the first one, already on the ground.
Mostly I was staying out of the way.
(Too many stories of trees falling the wrong way!)


Gary has a rope tied to the other tree because it was leaning in the wrong direction.
He pulled his trusty blue pickup as far as he could without breaking the rope.
Then he was READY!


 

This is the next one to come down.


  

Certain Man watches to see what Gary has up his sleeve to do next 
The tree in the foreground is the little Maple that Certain Man has been overly protective of.
It is a sweet little tree, and much prettier than the Honey Locust.
I am anxious to see how it does with more light and less competition.

 

Ah, so that was what was next!


Getting closer!  Everybody out of the way!

 

TIMBER!!!
The ground shook, and some of the branches of my precious Quanson Cherry got a little disheveled.
But the tree was DOWN!

 

This side of the house certainly looks different!

 

It will take some massive cleaning up efforts!

 

 

Middle Daughter is always ready to lend a helping hand to her Daddy.
She was out long into the dark, helping to haul branches.
In this picture, she is trying to figure out Gary’s knot that was really, really tight around that tree.

 

Certain Man hangs something on the deck rail, out of the way.
The landscape looks incredibly bare and different.
To be truthful, I’m actually happy with how it looks! 
I don’t know what Certain Man has in his head for how this will all turn out.
What I do know is that I can trust him.
He has better ideas for design in his little finger than I do in my whole head!

Stay tuned!

 

 

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