Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I had a flat tire yesterday.  That is only the second one I have had since Daryl and I got married.  32 years ago!  So, I've been blessed.  Of course, I'm talking about a flat tire on my truck.  If I was talking about the lawn tractor, it would be a different flat tire story entirely.  I have become proficient at using an air compressor on that crazy thing.

I was driving home on the interstate when I heard a loud roar.  My first thought was to look out the windows to see if there was a semi close by.  When I didn't see another truck, I thought of an airplane.  I was driving along a stretch of interstate that has corn fields on either side and sometimes a crop duster will fly low making his passes over the crops.  It wasn't an airplane, though, so the only other option was that it was me!

I quickly pulled off the interstate, got out and saw that one of the rear tires was as flat as a pancake.  I have no idea how I didn't feel it, but I didn't.  As quickly as I felt the aggravation of the circumstance, I began to feel immense gratitude and started counting my blessings.

#1.  As I was pulling off the highway, I had to go around a state trooper who had someone else pulled over. He was sitting in his gray SUV, blue lights flashing from several places on his truck.  Because he was there, traffic was pulling into the middle lane instead of zooming past in the lane closest to us.

#2.  Daryl answered my call to him on the first ring, and without any question he left his office and came right away to change the tire.  I am so grateful to him for his total willingness to help me.  And I'm thankful for the 8 other people I thought of who would have dropped everything to come help me had I needed them.

#3.  After the state trooper finished with the other car, he pulled up behind me.  He got out to see if I needed anything and looked at the tire.  When I told him that Daryl was on his way, he said that he would stay behind me so that I wouldn't get hit from behind.  He even offered to help change the tire.

#4.  Capital Tractor and six members of our family were only about two miles away so Daryl and I went there to pick up a bigger car jack.  They gave it to us gladly and would have all jumped in the truck to help if we needed them.

#5.  While Daryl was working on changing the tire I had two jobs.  My first job was to read the instruction manual from my truck to find out where the tire jack was and how to release the spare.  Since the trooper had moved on when we left to get the jack, my second job was to watch the traffic.  This was so I could let Daryl know if we were about to die.  He just wanted to know, I guess, because by the time I would have been able to see that a car was headed our way it would have been too late to get away.  I was so grateful for the many, many people who changed over into the middle lane.  I wanted to wave at them and blow kisses, but decided against that.

#6.  The spare tire was almost flat, wouldn't you know!  After it was on the truck I drove slowly to the nearest gas station.  When I pulled up beside the air hose, a truck driver standing there immediately asked if I needed air and offered to put it in for me.  Daryl drove up behind me, so I didn't need his help, but he offered his air gauge to us, too.

#7.  It was pretty hot standing out on the side of the interstate.  And even hotter for Daryl as he worked to change a tire.  But, the high on Saturday is predicted to be 103.  By comparison, 94 wasn't too bad.

So, on this Thursday I am thankful for the kindness of strangers and the love of family.  I was shown in a living story that I am not alone.

Not even close.

And, I'm thankful to God for the way he provides and the way he protects.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You call this a sale?

I saw this on the sale page at the Terrain website yesterday:

Japanese Hand Rake


I'm just not sure that saving that nickle is going to make me buy this handy rake!

Monday, June 25, 2012

My ugliest flower

In the news yesterday, I saw Mugly, the world's ugliest dog.

Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images

Today when I walked outside my back door I saw this:

I think I see a resemblance!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today, I am thankful that God made things...


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Philly's Terrain

After my fun weekend in Philadelphia with Jackie and Corey, I have been having fun at home catching up on the yard work.  When I am home it seems like grass and weeds grow at a reasonable pace.  But, let me leave town and there is some sort of growing fever that attacks my little farm in the country.  The place almost looked abandoned when I got back.

I've got most of it all whipped back into shape, though, and even got a little extra work done.  I had to get ahead because....I'm leaving town again tomorrow.  Gotta love it!

Today I sprayed weed killer around some walnut trees, in the garden, and down the middle of our gravel road.  I cut back some rose bushes and lantana, picked up some moss and sticks, sprayed bug killer around the garage, swept down the spider webs, and knocked down the dirt dauber nests, (dirt dauber?  dirt dobber? mess maker?),  replaced the light bulbs in the garage light fixtures and cleaned out the light covers.  THEN, I did a dreaded job -- I cut back the ivy that grows up a brick wall.  I dread that job because spiders and wasps live inside the ivy.  The first thing I always do is spray bug killer all over it, then wait a little while.  I am always tempted to just cut it all down, but I really like the way the green ivy breaks up the expanse of white brick wall.  If it would just stay put and not grow so fast!

* * * * *

One reason I have so much energy for my yard is because while in Philly, Jackie and Corey took me to Terrain.  Wow!  It is an outdoor decorator's paradise!  We ate lunch in a greenhouse there and then wandered around, just taking in all of the beauty.  Terrain is owned by the same company as Anthropologie.  If you love one, you will love the other.

Don't I look like I love this place?

The gift shop.

The plants.

The people :)

Jackie and I were talking about how to decorate in a way that would feel like Terrain.  I think the key is to have a cabin in the woods, add some twinkle lights, then spend a million dollars making the place look casual and rustic.

No problem with the woods and the twinkle lights.  Well, it's a start!

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Friday in Philly

As I write this I am sitting in Jackie's living room -- cell phone, Nook, camera, all nestled beside me on the couch, coffee in my hand, listening to the sounds of a Philadelphia city street.  Relaxing......

Jackie and Corey are at work today and I am free from responsibility.

No acres of grass needing to be cut.  (I love living in the country and I really do like yard work.)

No animals crowing, barking, meowing their needs to me.  (I do love them all, though.)

No laundry that needs to be washed, folded, repaired.  (Laundry is one of my favorite things to do.)

No calls from 1-800 numbers I don't recognize.

No dusty, dirty floors.

Some people are able to relax at home, but I'm just not one of them.  The types of jobs I have are never fully finished.  I love the life I am living and the work I do, but there is always some more that could be done.  And, I feel the weight of that 'more' most of the time.  Not that I don't sit down and rest.  I do.  But, I don't feel the total freedom that I experience when I'm physically away from it all. 

I'm certain that Jackie and I would have a wonderful time together if she was able to take the day off from work today, but I am so content to just be here in her home today. 

She says we are going on an eating tour of Philadelphia this weekend.  That makes me happy :)

Last night we walked down her street to this great place.

This is the Beer Garden at the Memphis Taproom.  It is an outside space with picnic tables in the front and a food truck in the back serving up gourmet hot dogs.  The weather was perfect and the space was full of happy people (and their dogs) eating and watching the Phillies game projected on the wall.

Tonight we will eat dinner at an Italian restaurant with waiters who sing opera every 15 minutes!  Can't wait.

Until then I will fill my day enjoying high-speed internet.  I plan to watch lots of tutorials on my photo editing software and hopefully learn how to use it.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The roosters and the eggs

The day has come when I must have our little talk about the birds and the bees.  When I say, "the birds", I am talking about "the chickens".  And this talk doesn't include any bees.

Very intelligent people, who otherwise seem fully aware of how nature works, are confused about the rooster and the egg.  The incident that forces me into having this discussion with you is a conversation I had recently with a Grown Man.

Grown Man:  I think I would like to raise chickens in my backyard.

Me:  Good!  I think you would enjoy having them.  Chickens are a little noisy, though.

Grown Man:  We live on 2 acres so we aren't that close to our neighbors.

Me:  Then you shouldn't have any problems with noise as long as you don't get a rooster.  And you will love having the fresh eggs.

Grown Man:  Well, you need a rooster to get eggs, don't you?

Dear reader, you fall into one of two groups.  Either you are laughing at my little exchange with Grown Man, or you are sitting there saying to yourself, "What's so funny?"

For the "What's so funny?" crowd, here is my little lesson:

Girl chickens are like girl people.  They have eggs.  In girl people, we have an egg about once a month and then we get rid of it.  Girl chickens get rid of their eggs every day or two.  Sometimes an egg can get fertilized by a boy chicken or a boy person.  When this happens,  a baby will grow.  In a person, the baby grows inside the mommy.  In a chicken the baby grows inside the egg.  But, in both cases, it takes a boy to make a baby.  Without the boy, the girls still have eggs.  Boys do not make the eggs, they only fertilize them.

So, the answer to the question, "You have to have a rooster to get eggs, don't you?", is a laughing, "NO!"

Of course, I didn't give the Grown Man a laughing NO.  I very calmly replied, "No.  Chickens lay eggs whether or not there are any roosters around."

Every time I am asked the rooster-egg question, I find myself attempting to answer in a way that won't cause the person to feel totally embarrassed when they get home and realize their ignorance.  They will think about all of the millions of eggs that chickens lay each day and realize that, of course, there are not roosters going around.....  you see what I mean.

They are going to feel really silly when the truth hits them.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Scents of grandparents past

Two times in the last two days I have had memories of my grandparents wash over me while I worked in the yard.  Both times the memories were brought up by smells and both times I had a warm, loved feeling inside.

Yesterday, while I was using a pitchfork to get some hay for the chicken pen, I remembered Grandmother and Granddaddy Atkinson's hay barn.  As I pulled layers of hay from a round bale, the smell of that hay knocked me back in time.  All the way back to the mid-70's when my sisters, my cousins and I would play hide-n-seek in a barn stacked tall with square hay bales.

Today I cut the grass around a fig tree and remembered the one in Mama and Papa Skaggs' back yard.  My memory isn't so much of the figs, but of the back yard.  Always well-manicured, with a small garden and a work shed full of tools.

I wonder what smells will remind our grandchildren of us.  Maybe it will be...

Bubble bath
Chicken scratch feed
Fresh cut grass
Chicken nuggets
Chocolate Oatmeal cookies
Smoke from a fireplace
Movie popcorn
Cabbage Patch doll heads
Pine woods while on a walk
Homemade pizza fresh from the oven

I don't know what it will be, but when a smell makes them time travel back to me, I hope they know it is the smell of love.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Vegetarian Ziti

About a month ago I volunteered to cook supper for about 20 people who are in town for the summer.  A friend of mine volunteers at an inner-city ministry and she had posted on Facebook that they needed help feeding the interns who have come to work there.   I really don't know anything about it at all.  Just that some people are in town doing something good for someone else and they need to eat.  I can cook, therefore, I can help.

Cooking for 20 people is a challenge when you are trying to prepare a meal that most people will like without breaking the bank.   I wanted to take something that tasted good, but was economical, too.  So, I decided to take Baked Ziti.  My version is very simple:  ground beef, pasta, cheese, and a mixture of homemade and purchased spaghetti sauces.

Yesterday was my day to feed the group and on Sunday I received a reminder email.  All of  the details in the email were what I already knew - have the food at the community center at 5:15, cook for 20 people, etc.  Then I saw this line:  "One of our interns is a vegetarian, if possible provide an option for her please."

I have never even thought about vegetarian cooking!   I have prepared vegetarian meals, but not with that specific thought in mind.  The baked ziti would still work for most of the interns and I had already planned to bring a salad, but that didn't seem to be enough of an "option" for the vegetarian.  I had to head out on some uncharted territory to find an additional dish to bring. 

After looking on for some ideas, I invented my own recipe and it was amazing delicious!

Baked Ziti Alfredo with Summer Squash

*  Melt one stick butter in large pan.
*  To the butter, add 1/2 large onion, chopped, and 2 summer squash, chopped
*  Saute until onion is clear and squash is softened, then add 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic.
*  Add 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour.  Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.
*  Add 2 cups half-and-half, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.  Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
*  Add one jar Ragu Alfredo sauce and 12 ounces ready made spaghetti sauce.
*  Boil 1 box ziti noodles in salted water until just tender.
*  Stir together the sauce and noodles.  Pour into 9x13 pan.
*  Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and barely beginning to brown.