Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Minnie solves a mystery

Last year I posted about whether or not this beautiful chicken was a hen or a rooster.  I had decided that he must be a rooster because he was bigger than his sisters and had a larger comb.  I just wasn't certain, though.

After several months I had changed my mind and decided that Dela must be a girl.  There had not been one crow out of him/her, and no tail feathers had gotten longer.  But neither had I seen any evidence of egg laying.  The sex of this Delaware chicken was still a mystery.

Until today.

I was working outside when I glanced into the egg-laying nests and saw a little white tail sticking up in the air.  See her on the far right?

I think she must have waited for me to see her at work because she had turned around to have her face out.  

Thanks, sweetie.  Mystery solved.  

I still think she has a very roostery head, though.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

With a little help from my friends

On Saturday morning I achieved a personal goal:  I participated in a 5K race!  My time was nothing to crow about at all and when I crossed the finish line I had to sit on the sidewalk for about 5 minutes before I could think.  Or move.  Let me put it this way:  a 5.5K race would have killed me.

In spite of that, there are two things about running the race that I really liked, though.

Four months ago I couldn't run more than two minutes at a time.  I like that I was able to work hard and get better at something.  I haven't experienced that enough in my life, but it sure feels great, and I like it!

I would never have done this alone.  Not the race, and not the preparation.  I'm just not motivated enough to do that.  But with Cheryl and Abbie by my side, I was able to do the hard work to get in better shape.  And then to get up early on a chilly Saturday to jog down the street.  I like that.  

Thanks, girls!  And, thanks to Ben, Brandon, and Jenny for running with us, too!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Our rainy day

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain. 

                                           Langston Hughes

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Granola in my yogurt

I have become a fan of getting a yogurt parfait when I am at a fast-food place.  I figured out, though, that the reason I like it is not because of the nutritious fruit and yogurt, but because of the crunchy granola.  Since I eat a fair amount of vanilla yogurt at home I decided to make my own granola.

I think mine must be way too healthy because it doesn't taste nearly as good as the McDonald's version.  Most of the sweetener in mine is honey - maybe that is the problem.  It also got a little too brown in the oven.  

Other than that, it is a reasonable first attempt.  When I find a better, more tasty recipe, I will share!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The strike is over

The girls have decided to get back to work!

And not a minute too soon, I may add.  I have had a strict rule of not eating my friends chickens, but when they had practically stopped laying eggs, a chicken casserole was one of my options to deal with the problem.  For a couple of months, I was only getting about four eggs per day from 24 hens!  And, yet, they continued to eat at the same rate as if they were laying a dozen per day.

I do have more than one reason for having chickens.  I like their little sounds they make all day.  I like having them for the grandchildren.  And, it seems right that we should have a little livestock on our 'farm' besides a dog and some cats.

But, I really like to have the eggs and have enough to share with our friends.

Thank you, girls, for getting back to work.  The egg you lay may be a life you save.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Color challenged

I am a little color blind.  Maybe not color 'blind', but I do have problems distinguishing colors.

My malady first showed up when I was having a difficult time  matching Daryl's socks.  The blue socks and the black socks look so much alike to me.  I can usually tell the difference if there is a bright light, but without it, you don't want me matching your socks, believe me!

At first, I didn't really think about it.  I thought everyone had trouble telling blue socks from black socks.  But when Daryl could always see a difference, I knew that it was me.

For the most part, it doesn't inconvenience me, but just let me try to match fabric and I feel like I am disabled.  There are two main times when I attempt to match fabric - when I am sewing something and when I am getting dressed.  And I do at least one of those every day!   My family has grown accustomed to me asking, "Does this go together?"  Right now, I think I am okay about 75% of the time.

But, that other 25% - Yikes!

I began this quilt top a couple of years ago as a lap quilt for Daryl.  I decided his lap was too big for it, made him another quilt, and left this one in my unfinished business pile.  A couple of weeks ago I decided that it was time to move on and get it finished.  The floral fabric was the inspiration for the color scheme and I had a terrible time matching the mud color of the flower petals.  Eventually, I settled on a shade of brown.  When I pulled the quilt top back out recently, though, it hit me that I was totally off on the color - now it looks like a shade of gray!  In this picture, that appears perfectly obvious, but for two years it looked brown to me.

Daryl looked at it in the bright light and told me that it was a very strange color and not easy to distinguish at all.  For two years, though, I thought it was brownish and now it looks perfectly grayish.

So, I did what any quilter with a smidgen of pride would do - I quickly finished it and snuggled up with a grandson on the couch with our new lap quilt.

Jonathan was with me when I was finishing this little project.  He was sitting on the couch playing Angry Birds on my Nook when I asked, "Jonathan, would you come outside and let me take a picture of you holding this quilt?   It was an enormous sacrifice on his part to break away from the birds trying to smash those bad pigs, but he did it.

I've seen him choose Angry Birds over chocolate ice cream so I feel blessed that he agreed to help me!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Comfort for a Tuesday morning

On this dreary Tuesday morning I am in need of a little comfort.  I have orange peels and cinnamon sticks simmering on the stove, a candle lit, gentle music playing in the background.

I want the comforting in small part because I have a cold.

In large part because a good friend died suddenly and too soon.  I'm sad for his wife and I'm sad for his children and grandchildren.  And I'm sad for all of us who will miss his ready smile, big laugh, and wise counsel.  We all know that life is fleeting, that it can be taken away in the blink of an eye, and yet, when we are smacked with that fact, we are in shock.

Many of us will spend today in our kitchens, doing what we can do.  We'll pray for Nita while we stir the casserole.  We will plan to live as if this is our last day while we bake a cake.  On this Valentine's Day we will try to put our love in action.

Then we will leave our homes, bring our food, and gather with each other to remember.  We will give a hug to a grieving family. We will hug each other.  A little more aware of how important we are to each other.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Yard cleaning

I used the lawn mower yesterday.  It wouldn't be correct to say that I cut grass because the only thing growing is weeds.  So, I cut weeds yesterday.  Just the little bit of work I did made a huge difference in how neat and clean it looks outside.  

I like for the shadows on the ground from the trees to have sharp lines, not the fuzzy ones I see when the weeds or the grass is tall.  Sharp shadow lines is one of my rewards for cutting grass.

I think I see the outline of a very large buck and his antlers!

The price for the beauty of the moss in the trees is the work of picking up all of it that falls on the ground.  The whole time I was picking up moss yesterday I was calculating how much I would have to pay someone else to do this for me.  I decided to think of it as part of my workout for the day and stop complaining in my mind!

The chickens spent some time outside yesterday, too.  Harry is looking really beautiful these days.

He is very aware of that fact.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The boy in the middle

There are several reasons for me to love this picture.

The reason I am posting it here today is because of the little boy in the middle.  While his PawPaw was searching the internet and his daddy was glancing at a magazine, Bennett was gladly turning the pages of his little book.

He looked so happy.  And felt so secure.  And is so loved.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Creative adrenalin

I think I am running on a little creative adrenaline lately.  I have been overflowing with ideas for cookies to bake, dresses to sew and quilts to piece.

These cookies were for a bridal shower.  I know you can't tell, but they are pink and white.  

This little dress was for Lily for her birthday.  I made a dress for Bella's birthday, too, but forgot to take a picture until after it was wrapped.  The dresses aren't similar, but they share the same silly chicken.

During this overload of creativity, I am sad to say that the bathrooms have not cleaned themselves and the floors have refused to stay swept.  Hopefully, some house cleaning adrenalin will hit me soon.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chippy spends the night

One day this week when Daryl was at Daniel's house, Daniel brought his chipmunk to Daryl and said, "You can take my chipmunk home with you.  You can sleep with him and bring him back tomorrow."

To understand exactly how generous Daniel was being, you would need to know how much he loves his chipmunk.  And his gecko and his puppy dog and his lizard and Minnie's bear.  These stuffed animals are very real to him.  They get prime seating to watch TV when he is at our house and we make sure they get something good to eat.  Daniel loves all animals.  He is the one who will find a dead cricket in the basement and need a container to put it in so he can take it home.

So, when he offered for the chipmunk to spend the night with us, and away from Daniel, we felt honored.

I called him to thank him for being so kind.

Me:  Daniel, thank you so much for letting your chipmunk come spend the night with us.
Daniel:  Ohhhh, yeah.
Me:  We will take good care of him.  What is his name.
Daniel:  Chippy
Me:  Kitty?  You have a chipmunk named Kitty?
Sarah: (overhearing the conversation and translating the things I don't understand)  He said his name is Chippy.
Me:  Oh, his name is Chippy?
Daniel:  Right.  Chippy is his name in the Bible.

Which only makes sense when you know that in Daniel's family everyone, except Bella, has their name in the Bible.  Sarah, David, Jonathan, and Daniel.  And, now Chippy.

We found out later that the reason Daniel was thinking about sharing something he loved was because Jonathan had let one of his best friends, Joe Kitty, spend some time with Daniel a few days earlier.  

And that is a real lesson to me.  When we are kind and generous and loving, those things get passed around and they grow and multiply into something we never thought about.  It can all begin with something as small as letting someone else love Joe Kitty for a while.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pecan orchard

Daryl called on his way to work Monday morning to tell me how beautiful the pecan orchard looked that morning.  The ground was frosty and the sun was just starting to break through the wood line to the east.  I was headed out, too, so I brought my camera to capture the moment.  

Pecan trees have a bad habit of dropping limbs - my father-in-law says they are 'self-pruning'.  Since this orchard is not directly in anyone's yard it is easy to let the limbs lie on the ground.  Then when the grass begins to grow you aren't sure exactly where the limbs are so you just cut big circles around the trees.  It doesn't always make for a pretty view.

A wedding will be held here soon, though.  Thousands of pounds of pecans have been picked up and sold, limbs have been removed, and the finishing mower made a round with the tractor.  

The orchard has never looked better.