Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eleven Hours Left

As of right this minute (as I begin typing), according to my computer clock,
there are 11 hours left in 2008.

I wish everyone a
In spite of whatever trials we may face, I pray each and everyone will find joy in the new year as we live day by day focusing on the blessings we each receive. May we each live each day to the fullest and smile more than we frown, give thanks to those who bless our lives, give thanks daily to God above and forge ahead feasting on the beauties in life and working through the rest.
God Bless!
P.S. According to the "blog counter" this is officially my 100th post. ;-}

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

In honor of this final day of 2008, and since I'm finally back home after Christmas, and I have an ounce or two of energy left in my waning battery (mine, not the computer's) I feel inclined to give an accounting of our interesting Christmas saga.

First, since a wedding was squeezed into the month, we had an extra trip and fewer days for the mad woman at the sewing machine to complete her masterpieces (ha, ha!, or whatever) of gift sewing wizardry. Absolutely NO baking occurred. (Sigh.) I love Christmas baking. It's a LONG family tradition and I must admit, that aside from baking Sarah and John's Red Velvet Wedding Cake, I baked NOTHING.

Husband and I left our home after church on 21 December, wending our way north into inclement wintry weather potential. We practiced a bit of emergency preparation for such weather. We had quilts, warm clothing, flashlights, energy bars, bottles of water, gloves, hats, mufflers, etc. We sighed in relief as we arrived at Amy's home, complete with her husband and darling children, (sans the bad weather) as we crunched through the icy remains of snow, etc. to her door. However, it was COLD. I think their low temp was 3 degrees before factoring in the windchill. It was a happy beginning.

Things were a little chaotic, what with three very young children who'd been troubled with viral illness off and on for the previous few days, (their Mom included). And that's not to mention that the family was preparing to move into the home they'd just purchased!

Amy and her Dad went off the next day to the Bald Eagles that apparently make an annual trek to the Mighty Mississippi River during winter. When the river FREEZES! And there was ice everywhere. My husband said he nearly didn't make it up a hill on the way back to the house because it was beginning to sleet/rain/freeze and his truck fishtailed all over. Amy earlier caught pictures of the eagles fishing the river. Hundreds of them. Yes, I said HUNDREDS of Bald Eagles! Who would have thought!

Day before Christmas, my husband and I also went down to the river--a different town--and saw some eagles and ice. It was frigid. The wind was blowing like crazy and we only ventured out of the truck for about five minutes. But, we too, got some pictures.

Amy and I proceeded that afternoon to prepare a finger-food Christmas Eve evening meal. It leaned toward Mexican flavor with cream cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped Jalapenos, the layered bean dip, and other rich, tasty goodies. When I began eating my first stuffed Jalapeno, my tummy protested a little, so I ate very little. It was a good thing, too.

At about 1 am, Christmas morning, the BUG hit me. On occasion, I've been known to pass out when I dehydrate due to flue symptoms that hit like a Mac truck . . . This Christmas morning, around 5 am, "Grandma got run over by a reindeer." I'd lost so much fluid so quickly that I passed out cold in the bathroom and somehow or other managed to hit the 4 by 4 (posing as a door frame) with my face. Broke my nose, whacked my left eyebrow, and, I discovered after each succeeding day, part of my head above the hairline and my jaw.

I came to lying flat on the floor, and noticed a pool of blood under my face--which faced the wall. It was kind of surreal. I was no longer feeling like I was going to up-chuck. Don't think I felt any pain at all, at that moment. I didn't want to move. I wanted to be perfectly still. But, my daughter and husband were having none of that. (Amy, equipped with a screwdriver to unlock the door behind which I'd been resting, had access to my gory state of being along my poor husband, who's witnessed one or two similar episodes--totally bloodless, however, prior to this sterling display of human weakness.) A trip to the ER ensued in the more than frigid blackness of pre-dawn Christmas morning.

One of the silliest things happened as I entered the ER. Picture this scene: A man and woman drive up to the ER door. The man walks in requesting help for his too-weak-to-walk wife. The ER guy comes with wheelchair and assists the man in getting the woman into the wheelchair to wheel her inside where there's a slight chance she won't freeze to death in the next five minutes. The ER guy tells the man he can park over somewhere else and he'll get the woman into the exam room. This is the good part.

As they enter the exam room, ER guy says to woman: "Okay. I need you to get out of your jacket and just hop up here on the exam table."

Woman is thinking: Uh, huh. And didn't you just help me out of a vehicle because I can't manage on my own, and don't you see the huge bruise forming on my face and the blood coming from my crunched nose? The woman could not see his face due to the hood of her jacket that was trying to keep her from freezing to death and other factors not readily available to the writer at this point. She's also thinking, And why are you working in an ER with that kind of mental process or lack thereof going on? Perhaps he was thinking that another fall and subsequent bruising, etc., would make for an even more memorable Christmas. Who knows?

Woman says: "I'm pretty sure I'll need some help with both those requests, you know."

So, ER guy, does help with both items and woman goes nearly into shock due to the cold and covers her lower body with her heavy jacket.

It was so COLD in that room!!! At some point, my husband re-entered and brought the quilt and Afghan to try to stave off frostbite. The ER guy even managed to bring in a flannel sheet posing as a blanket. Had it been about ten or twenty of those (warmed "blankets"), it might have approximated appropriate warmth. Since my blood pressure was down, my body somewhat dehydrated, and I get cold easily anyway, and it was probably 147 degreez below freezing outside and 30 below in the room . . . At least I wasn't convulsing with cold spasms! I don't think . . . But then it has been almost a week since that lovely experience.

They took my blood pressure, my blood and other samples, X-rayed my head, CAT scanned my head and pumped me up with two (2) bags of fluid, COLD fluid, I might add, and I summarily froze to death. Oh! And lest I forget another fun item: Somewhere along, during the re- hydrating process, someone asked me a question. As I tried to answer I noticed that my tongue refused to cooperate with forming intelligible anything. My brain struggled to force my tongue to work the syllables into coherent utterings. Then it dawned on me. They DRUGGED ME!!!! Without telling me!!!! When I was eventually able to form somewhat cohesive words, I asked what the heck they'd stuck in my IV. The nurse fessed up: phenergan! Ahhhh. That now made sense. It was nice to know that the whack on my head didn't render me totally senseless. What relief I felt! You can't imagine.

The rest of the day is kind of a blur. I only wanted to sleep and recoup. Bless Amy and Darren and their little ones. They waited for Grandma--who'd obviously been run over by a reindeer--to wake before they could open presents! It was the afternoon sometime and I felt like such a slug for making them wait!!!! I was still enough under the influence of the drugs and so worn out by the whole trauma that I must have just drifted back off to sleep. I don't remember much of the rest of the day. I didn't expect them to wait Christmas gift unwrapping for the children on my behalf! But it was sweet that they wanted Grandma, poor and battered as she was, to be part of the celebration.

Stay tuned. The next day was quite another experience. And that's not to mention the day after that!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Wedding

Sarah and her father . . . Sarah and John . . . now husband and wife
Bride and Groom with their parents.

The happy couple cutting their wedding cake.
The Mom's cried and smiled.
The couple was happy.
The Service was simple.
The Spirit was sweet.
A new beginning.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This May Be Short

In 4.5 days, or thereabouts, my darling husband and I will be heading south and east . . . with two loaded vehicles on a 800 mile or something trek. Our #3 daughter, Sarah, will be getting married in just under 7 full days from this moment--kinda like 6 days and 12 hours and 50 minutes, or close. We're taking her car and some o' her stuff. Somewhere in the next few days, I've also got to bake a Red Velvet Cake for her wedding cake. The festivities following the wedding will be very simple with just a handful of family members in attendance.

After returning from that escapade, we'll be home to work some more on everything, and then, if husband's poor back is recovered enough, we'll be heading north for Christmas with the grandchildren and daughter #2, Amy's, family. And they have already had bonafide snow, sleet and temperatures that literally chill one to the bone. Pray for us warm-blooded folks, please!!!

In the meantime, I have a young friend who's grandma passed just two days ago. I'll be cooking up a few items to take by tomorrow between the snowflakes. Oh, I have to laugh! (No disrespect to my friend's departed grandma intended.) But speaking of snow . . . we received about 3.5 inches of rain today during some "very active" weather in this part of the country. There were tornadoes to the north, south, east and west of us. I'm grateful they passed over, under or around rather than through our immediate area! And our "high" temp today was between 60 and 70 degrees. Tonight's "low" is supposed to be around 36. Tomorrow our "high" is prognosticated at 39, with (yes, of all things) the possibility of snow. We'll see. Snow here is not very common. And what some of the locals call/believe to be snow . . . I have to laugh. I lived in Germany and Utah where it snows REAL snow and lots of it. Some of the stuff they call snow down here is mostly wishful thinking. But, in deference to reality, truth, and the American way . . . (what?) it has, on occasion, snowed real snow here. Occasionally. Once in a while.

Additionally I have Christmas gifts I've been sewing like crazy to get made. Out of the nine or ten projects I've insanely decided I should make, I've completed about 2.79. And because I'm rather insane when these things overtake me, I've been working till the wee hours of the morning and actually getting back up at a fairly reasonable hour to continue the madness. I ache all over. I have bad posture, which is exacerbated by hunching over the cutting board and sewing machine. Nonetheless, the Lord has been very good to me in that so far, I've been helped along with so many things not going too far awry. And since I'm working w/o benefit of patterns, it's been miraculous indeed that things have actually been going so well.

So, if you don't hear from me for a fortnight or more, know that I'm buried under tons of fabric and thread and the likes thereof while singing Christmas carols and other Christmasy songs. Or traveling over vast distances.

Oh. That brings another thought. I've got to practice the music I'm supposed to be singing in Church as a member of a quartet this coming Sunday (and the following week). And I'm praying that the other female in our group, who normally sings soprano will recover her voice. I can, and do sing soprano or alto, which she can do as well, and we do swap from time to time, but if she doesn't recover enough between now and then, I don't know how I'll be able to pull off singing both the soprano and alto parts simultaneously (except for those parts where they're the exact same notes at the exact same time, ha, ha). It could get a little messy, you know. Pray I still have a voice and lung power come Sunday!!!! (We start our first trek after the singing is done on this Sunday!)

Love and Merry Christmas to one and all, till we meet again!

PS . . . I fully intended for this to be short. Sorry it wasn't. ;-}

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sixth Photo in the Sixth Photo Folder? I Think Not

Just back from visiting Jeanie in Paradise's place. She had a meme with parameters about a 6th photo folder with the 6th picture and all that as the foundation for the meme challenge. (I wasn't challenged, which is good. Because the sixth photo folder on my hard drive (and ever so many others) aren't even mine! (My husband's, my daughter's and who knows what else's photos are there cluttering ('scuse me) giving me many folders of pics to choose from whenever I need fodder for blogging--to borrow my #2 daughter's phrasing.) And then that particular folder, the 6th, held only 4 photos. So, I had to think outside the folder--what picture would qualify if ever that kind of challenge came, with those specific parameters attached?

So, in one folder, as I browsed through the first maybe ten folders, this picture was found which is of interest--taken by my husband nearly 4 years ago. I offer it now for your viewing pleasure.

That, my friends, is one HUGE (as in mega) beehive hanging off a huge, red oak tree in my in-laws front yard. It's been estimated that the oak is at least 400 years old. Yeah. That's old. The beehive is external, which I find odd and fascinating. It was also about 40 to 60 feet above ground? We didn't actually measure. And it only lasted that one season. (Don't you know there had to be a massive swarm of bees who worked kajillions of bee-hours, I suppose, to create such a work.) It was so massive, the length might have been well over 6 feet. Don't you know it had some huge quantity of honey stored there? My husband asked around, but no beekeepers in the area owned a cherry picker, which would have been essential to harvest any honey from that particular hive. Nature. It sometimes baffles us, no?

This past weekend the neighbor across the road happened to mention this beehive as we visited for a few minutes, commenting again at how bizarre an occurrence it was.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Bat Cave, or The Pit of Despair, Take Your Pick

Over a week ago now, while cleaning what was once upon a time my mother-in-law’s kitchen—in preparation for the family gathering on Thanksgiving Day—I discovered a cavern. This cavern was so deep, it required a flashlight to discern its depths and *shiver, shiver* ghastly contents. As the original occupants of this lovely home have returned to their Maker in years past, you need to know that I suspect no one has lurked in this “Bat Cave” for years. I don’t think the entrance has been broached in over three years, at least.

The task of cleaning the rest of the very large kitchen (which I’ve envied for nearly 40 years now) has fallen to me on various occasions, and I’ve done a fairly thorough job of it for the most part. After my MIL had brain surgery more than 11 years ago, now, the ladies hired to help with housework, cooking and looking after the in-laws (at least two of them) did a valiant job but had their hands full in the “taking care of” department in many instances which also included chauffeuring to doctor appointments, etc., etc. Hence, deep cleaning, serious deep cleaning of the ‘Bat Cave’ was over-looked. Perhaps it was even “off limits” as its contents were under the FIL’s jurisdiction and not to be trifled with.

So, after who knows how many months, years, of surface attention, if any at all, the Bat Cave and surrounding environs were finally thrust open to view. Now one fact you might need to keep in mind—which has gone unmentioned heretofore: this house containing this kitchen, containing this Bat Cave (convincingly disguised as a corner kitchen cabinet under the counter) is located in a farming area. Because it’s in a farming area there tend to be field mice that frequently seek shelter from life’s little difficulties where they can.

And also in the interest of full disclosure, when one of the women hired to clean house, etc., took little interest in the cleaning aspect, I discovered one weekend, that some rodents had apparently held some sporting events in this kitchen for some time and apparently considered the area behind the microwave oven as their outhouse. Sorry to alarm your sensitivities, but the truth sometimes is disgusting. That said, you may begin to understand why I began calling this particular corner kitchen cabinet under the counter as “The Bat Cave”. In the furthest reaches of the back of said cave, I found a treasure trove of guano—so to speak.

I’d wager no one had, in recent history, ever put light on the subject and found the heaps of “stuff” in the back corner—on both shelves. So, with a trusty flashlight and a long broom and mop I harvested a pile of poop. Dust filled the air in the small space and I coughed, sneezed and shivered through it all. I thought of calling in archaeologists to carbon date samples to determine the age, etc. of the pile, but didn’t want them traipsing around during the Holiday interrupting our family gathering. So, after a relatively good sweep, I sprayed the heck out of that cabinet with Clorox spray cleaner, and mopped my way through as best I could. Had I been able to really enter the cave a far as needed, I’d have done a far better job. The adjoining cabinets also received proper de-junking, spraying and mopping. Before all was said and done, my husband had taken several truck loads of garbage off to the dumpsters from our daily use of paper and plastic dinner ware and utensils, as well as what was cleaned out throughout the house.

Oh, and lest I forget…I caught one mouse in the laundry room closet the night I set out the trap. I suspect there are more lurking about, however, and will have to set out more traps next time I’m in the neighborhood.

One day, for Jeanie in Paradise, I may take better pictures of the very large, enviable kitchen I’d like to transplant to my own home. As you know, Jeanie invited us into her kitchen and I could possibly invite you into the one that’s now much cleaner than my own. Hmmm. Let me see. I could thumb through the pics we took at Thanksgiving . . . maybe . . . yes. Let’s try these on for size . . .

This is #2 daughter, Amy with her #2 son, AFT. (Ain't he cute?!!)

They are standing at the entrance from the den.

This is a better Den's eye view, if you will.

These are, from l to r, #1 daughter, Jana, little AFT, Amy, and the foot and legs of BIL, David, or Amy's hubby, Darren. Can't exactly tell from the shoe. Ooops! Yes I can! It's gotta be Darren! Look at the plant magazine in his lap!

That mystery woman is chopping sweet potatoes and putting them in the pot to cook for Thanksgiving Dinner. (Ugh! She's the same woman who crawled into the "Bat Cave"!!! Yikes!)

This is one of the most important spots in the kitchen, it's the business end. Many a delicious, and great meal has been prepared here. My mother-in-law was a fabulous cook. She taught me lots about Southern Cooking. You can tell I learned a thing or two by checking out my profile!

This charming Gent, who didn't want this picture taken (can you tell?) is my one and only!

This is the other important end of the kitchen--the one where most meals were/are eaten.

This lovely lady is #3 daughter, Sarah.

So, you didn't get to see EVERYTHING in this large, wonderful (clean, though you can't tell that for sure from these pictures) kitchen I wish were in my house. Except for the "Bat Cave" of course. Jeanie, do these picture count? And since you probably did notice . . . the kitchen is mostly part of the den. I really like that in a kitchen/den combo!

Thanksgiving Week Fun

These few pictures show just some of the fun I had during Thanksgiving week! I'll refer to this young man as: LMH
His mantra is: Let Me Help!
He loves to fix things, cook things and help in general! Wow! I'd like to keep him around!
The lovely young lady to his left is his Auntie Sarah.
This little munchkin I'll call: AFT
Angel Faced Trouble (with a capitol "T") (I think his mother came up with that moniker.)
Early one morning he was sitting with his Dad and me on the couch when he nearly clocked his Dad with a metal toy tuck. Fortunately his Dad's lightening speed (Kendo and Tae Kwon Do trained) response saved him a nasty head wound!
Big Sister, otherwise known as: PPG (No. Not some kind of Plexi Glass! But, Princess Pony Girl, you ninny!) Wanted to share the love by helping little brother, AFT, have a go at the rocking horse Great Granddaddy built for their Mom and her siblings many years ago. As you can see, AFT's having quite an enjoyable ride.
Gotta love the smiles! Grandkids are good for Grandparents.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Back Home

Just a short note...I'm back home. (Didn't notice I was gone, eh?) Well, nonetheless, I'm back. I don't know how the scales at this house show no change in my excessive weight, but, it's the same as when I left. Mysteries abound, it seems.

I've been to the bat cave and survived--more on that later!

I've cleaned enough to last me forever. Except that I have ten tons of laundry here at home I'm trying to catch up on, and oh, yeah. I've not been home for over a week, so guess who has a lot of cleaning to catch up on here! Not to mention, that I well, sort of signed up to clean the Church this week, too. It's not small. Maybe that'll be on tomorrow's list.

I have my last Institute Class to teach for this semester this coming Thursday. My students get to report on how their lives have changed since the beginning of the Semester after studying the Four Gospels for the last four months. I am so looking forward to this Thursday.

Friday, following, I'll be taking my youngest daughter to the airport. She and her beloved have decided to elope. So, that was not a TOTAL surprise, but yet not on the "List of Things To Do" for December that I've been keeping.

Cleaning. More cleaning. Eventually she and her soon-to-be-husband will have to come back here and gather up and move all her possessions between now and the first week of January.

After 12 to 14 hour days of cleaning and cooking, I'm a little tired and sore. But, I know if I keep going, I'll be in better shape for it. Right?

Oh, and yes. My dear Mom . . . is currently in a rehab facility 1500 miles away and I don't know the extent of her "situation." She can no longer walk under her own power, i.e., w/o a walker. Something happened, and no one apparently knows what, that's preventing her ability to do what she was doing on her own--including driving--just two-and-a-half weeks ago.

The hospital (ER) ran all kinds of tests, CAT scans, MRI's and whoknowswhatall two weeks ago, but came up with nothing more than "she's a little dehydrated." IV's, of course, take care of that. So what the heck happened? What's going to happen?

My siblings have been great, but they don't seem to have pinned a doctor down yet...(you know how so many doctors don't like being pinned down on things!!!) know what happened, is happening, will happen at this point. Or, maybe I've been so busy with all my chillin's I've lots touch?

Mom doesn't recognize my voice on the phone any more. Which really bumfuzzels me since we were talking on the phone every day for the last year--until her episode--two-and-a-half weeks ago when she didn't have a phone close by. She is getting therapy to strengthen her legs and arms. (She's pretty much been the queen of not exercising for quite some time, though many of her children have encouraged her to at least take a daily walk!) (Note to self: Get busy and get on the treadmill at least every day! I could be becoming the princess of not exercising. well, except for the fact that I do go up and down stairs every day--several times a day, still haul heavy loads of stuff from the grocery store--okay. My buggy to the trunk of my car. From the trunk of my car to the house, i.e., up stairs, and other stuff!) And, it's very hard to be 1500 miles away when one's mother is having distress and one can't be there to see, ask questions, assist. Exceptionally frustrating. For me. Anyway.

So, apparently, life is still happening here and everywhere. Challenges are what it's all about. That and the joy of having family to deal with! (My grandchildren were precious, of course. And very, loud and noisy. Oh! I did have to encourage them to "shhhhhhh" every so often.) Wouldn't have missed them for the world!

Oh. Don't let me forget: I'm thankful for the ability to experience all of the above! Don't want boring. Don't want to be without family. Grateful for the air I breathe, etc. =-}

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to One and All

Thanksgiving is just around the corner--and you don't have to be from USA to celebrate. I often forget to consider all that I have to be thankful for, so this post is a wandering of thankful thought/expressions.

I am thankful

  • for my family, first and foremost. There's no end to the variety of challenges and interests of each individual, to talents and interests, but, above all we love each other--better some days than others, maybe, but we do love each other!
  • for those terrific grandchildren that are a part of that family I'm so thankful for
  • to know of God's love and tender mercies.
  • for this glorious, beautiful, planet on which we live, for its endless varieties of plant and animal life.
  • to have hot and cold running water--and indoor plumbing
  • to have a home which shelters me and my loved ones
  • to have a large yard with endless plants and flowers, beauty abounding
  • for the variety of daytime skies--the sun rising
  • for the beauty of evening and night skies with sunsets and moon and stars
  • for misty foggy days/nights that soften the look of everything it enshrouds
  • for rain
  • for mountains
  • for forests
  • for plains
  • for rivers and streams and waterfalls and oceans
  • for gardens
  • for friends
  • to have transportation
  • to have the freedoms I've enjoyed my entire life
  • to have traveled to many places on this planet, including countries outside my own
  • to have survived some serious illnesses
  • to have blogger friends
  • to see
  • to hear
  • to taste and smell
  • to feel and touch
  • to laugh and cry
  • to read
  • to think
  • to speak
  • to teach
  • to have enough to eat, and more
  • to have heat when it's cold and air conditioning when its not
  • to sing
  • to dance
  • to write
  • to love and be loved
  • to have had challenges that have changed me and strengthened me
  • and so many, many more gifts and blessings I could go on and on about if I thought about it and didn't want to bore anyone to death...

May each of you, and those you love, enjoy the blessings God has given us each and every day, and remember to let Him know of the things you are thankful for!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nests and Nesting

Just a short post.

When I was posting pictures of Bird Nests, I was thinking of my Mother, who recently had to go to the hospital. She's okay, but she had a difficult experience over the weekend. The gist of the whole things is: she will have to change her nesting habits in the very near future. (My stepfather died almost 10 years ago--and we all miss him more than I can say, just so you know.) As most older individuals, Mom's wanted things to be as they have been (more or less) and resisted some necessary changes. (Heck! We as mortals often seem to resist change in our lives here!) But, since her "difficult experience" she may have had a change of heart/understanding as to the benefits of having daily care requirements met differently now.

So, the "nests" of previous post were a little symbolic for me as I posted. Prayers of gratitude ascend (and have been ascending) in her behalf long before and are now increased and multiplied. We (and she) are blessed that her "experience" was no more traumatic than it was and that good things are following the 'not-so-good'.

As my Mom's mother used to tell us all: "Don't grow old." Grandma would say that with all the sincerity of her heart, then smile and give us a hug. She'd broken her hip like 10 or 15 years before she died, and was 96 years old when she died. She eventually lost most of her ability to walk--because she didn't want to use a cane!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bird Nests

This is the first picture I remember taking of a bird nest. Took it January 2, 2008. It's in a wisteria vine/bush. I discovered it quite by accident and decided to capture it in a photo. I went back a few days later to see if I could get a better shot/angle, and it was gone! The winds had come and, I suppose, blown it away! I don't have a clue as to the bird species that made it their home. (We have such a wide variety of birds that frequent our yard! And I don't know them all, sorry to say!)The rusty shafts are pine straw (pine needles) and I'm not sure that they were added by winged creatures. I'm about convinced it was the wind that deposited those additions!

This nest was home to a Mockingbird family. I heard before I saw the chicks. When I saw them, Mother Mockingbird gave one sharp, one note warning, and the chicks were silent, and were soon out of sight. I tried valiantly to get pictures of them for several days, but Mom was too good at protecting her family--and I was most likely too invasive. This nest rests in a fig tree with ivy growing all around.

Same nest as first, only closer. See the fuzzy stuff at top and middle? I believe it found some kind of yarn to add to the construction. Don't know if it was a fashion statement or not. Seems like if it were for softness, it would be on the in-side rather on the out. Wish I were taller and could look inside. Now altogether void of feathered friends. *Sigh*

This nest, I believe, is some type of swallow's nest. It's under a roof that shades an observation spot on the Mississippi River near a lock. It's a rather large nest, but we saw no birds nearby. Lots and lots and lots of ladybugs, however!

This nest may have been home to Mockingbirds also. It's very large and well hidden in a pyracantha bush, so I had ever so much trouble in getting close enough to get a picture of any kind. There were too many branches and too many prickles and too many prickly branches in my way, so these three pictures tried to represent, in some fashion, what's there.

Several Red Birds--Cardinals--were checking it out earlier in the year. They must not have liked the accommodations, however, because they didn't stick around for long.

Sorry for the 'fuzz'. I think I got stuck on a prickle. But it's the best shot available to show the size of it!

See the sharp little monsters that kept getting in my way?

This precious little nest rests in a holly bush and is very hard to see from the front of the house. It's much closer to ground level than any of the others, which is why I'm able to look inside from the top. The egg shell has been there for over a year. I believe it did nest Red Birds. We'd never have discovered it, but our front windows allowed my son to see lots of bird family activity from the back of the bush. We were never able to see the birds from the front. Very good parenting, apparently going on in that neighborhood.

I find birds' nests rather fascinating. Actually, I think birds are fascinating.

Same nest with flash. ;-}

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rainfall Calculations and Blogger Friends to the Rescue, OR 59 Thousand Gallons of Rain on the Ground

Jeanie, here you've just gotten married only hours ago, and now you're already solving mathematical problems for the weak-minded, rain deluged Louisianians!? You are a generous "jeanie-ous"! Thanks, my lack of working out math problems past 1+3=4 or something like that, sorting out the bills and bank statements, etc. has made me weak-brained, I'm afraid. I used to like math, though I never excelled in it. (another post sometime, maybe.)

THANK you for the web site you mentioned. I went there and worked with the lovely formula. Since I'm not a surveyor, and since I'm assuming (and in good mathematics one never assumes anything) that our property is the approximate 1/2 acre I was once told it probably was, I'll use the figure of 21780 square feet to be the figure to monkey with. So after all the calculations, checking of calculations and thinking a bit and rechecking my calculations, I've arrived at a number to represent (perhaps loosely) the possible number of gallons that fell on our entire property last week in a 24 hour period. That number is . . . drum roll, please! 59,735.28 gallons total (give or take a few inches, or quarts, or sprinkles, or . . . whatever!) Anyway, after finding another formula, I came up with this way of determining how much water fell in my yard (approximately, of course) by using the following chart found at Somehow, it looked easier to comprehend, but the math works out so closely, it's all good! (In case you're wondering, the chart didn't copy, so this is what did copy!)

Amount of water received when an inch of rain occurs
Area Area(square miles) Area(square kilometers) Amount of water(gallons)

1 acre .000156 .004 27,154 gallons

Just to make it easier on myself, this is how I calculated:

Whereas 1 acre of surface = 27,154 gallons of water per 1 inch of rain

27,154 x 4.4 inches = 119,477.6 gallons on 1 acre. With me so far?

Then, since I only have approximately ½ acre of surface, I divided the 119,477.6 gallons by 2. That equals 59,738.8 (which is really close to the above calculations) then since a ½ acre equals 21780 square feet, the number of gallons that fell that day must be . . . 59738.8 divided by 21780, or 2.74 gallons per square foot, or something remotely close to that figure. Nearly 3 gallons of water over a square foot in one day. I think I need to get a cistern and work out a capture system to save some of that liquid for when the rains don't come! (Almost forgot to convert to liters for my friends "down under". It's about 14.16 liters per square foot.)

Whew! My brain hasn’t worked that hard since I took a college pre-calculus class over 11 years ago. And as you might guess, my ten year old son, who came with me (I was home schooling him—you might say) helped ME with MY homework for that class. What a twist, huh?

So, thank you Debby and Jeanie-ous for taking me more seriously than I take myself and actually helping me find a way to figure it all out.

However, I still want to know . . . don’t mind me if I seem a little silly, ‘cause I am, but what about all the pine straw and leaves that fell at the same time with the rain, and whether it sprinkled or torrentially poured, or the wind blew some of my rain onto the street or into the neighbor’s yard, or . . . or . . .

Okay. I’m stopping. It’s very late and my soft brain has done all it can do for one day.

Thanks again to my friends, and Jeanie, enjoy being married. Kiss V and ‘Salina for me. (I hope that doesn’t scare any of you, too much!)

I’m calling it a night. I’m not going to dream about rain, either. In gallons, or cubic or square feet. I’ll probably dream of the cleaning, scrubbing, dusting, washing, cooking I’ll be doing for the rest of the month getting ready for and enjoying Thanksgiving with my family!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Rains Came, But How Much Per Square Foot?

In the previous post I shared photos of fabulous fall trees. It's been beautiful here. Weather has been dry and cool and generally gorgeous! Yesterday, however, all that changed. It rained. In fact, it rained a ton. Yes, we needed the lovely rains. Really needed them!

When I got up this morning I checked the rain gauge. It had rained (in the past 24 hour period) 4.4 inches. I wonder how many gallons that equals per square foot. Anyone out there, of the super scientific brain sort who can let me know the calculations for that? Oh, on second thought, just figure it out for me please and let me know.

I suppose it's something like,
"x inches of rain times y hours (times 1/2 acre--more or less) times some unknown formulaic equation I've never heard of divided by the direction and velocity of the wind, minus all the leaves that fell in the process and whether it was light outside or dark at the time the rains actually fell." I'm sure quantum mechanics of rain calculations covers all that, doesn't it?

Oh, and I suppose that when the rain was falling at "sprinkle speed vs. torrential speed" could possibly complicate the equation a bit. Or not. Anyway, any of you egg-heads out there want to attempt to esplain it to the confounded and dimwitted writer of this post? I'd love to know. Ser'ously.

Oh, and the Weather Channel, or some other weather entity prognosticated there were flooding possibilities for this neck of the woods. Or possibly south of here. Since water flows down, it's probably south of here. Besides. I do live on a hill. I have watched great quantities (i.e., gallons) of water flow across my yard, puddle at the middle landing on my steps out the front door, and across the driveway. That's not counting the stream that flows down my back yard and into the wilderness behind our property. (The stream only exists in extremely heavy downpours--like the times it's rained about 3 to 4 inches in a hour. Yes. I did say, 3 to 4 inches in one hour!) And/or on those occasions when it's rained multi inches of rain over several days.

STILL: I do love rainy days! Let me amend that. I do love rainy days when the water DOES NOT seep into my downstairs because the ground is saturated. AND when I can stay inside and be cozy. And dry.

I even like watching the lightening and stormy clouds as they contort and frolic across the sky. Love clouds. EXCEPT for when danger is imminent. But I digress.

I want to know how to compute the number of gallons of water that falls/fell per square foot. Oh, yeah. You have to count the water that fell ON the house, and cascaded down the roof into a huge waterfall close to the front door. And maybe that that also poured off the back of the house? The sides? Or rather ends where there's no sloping roof? Maybe it's just too complicated to figure it out. *SIGH*

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fabulous Fall Colors

Where do I begin? First the colors in person were much bolder, beautiful and frequent than I'm sharing with you today. My photography skills, well, you can see the amateur nature of them. I wish you could have been there with me! That way, you could have seen them first hand, which seems, somehow to be better! Most of these were taken as we sped down the freeway, or highway. (Sorry for the inadequacy.)
Like Dash, Bush Babe's young son, the pictures I took in my head, well, they're still there!

I actually got to stand still for this picture!

And this one.

See the speed here?

I LOVE the fall colors!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fun Friday Fotos

Getting ready for Church and related difficulties.
Oh, Grandpa, I feel so . . . weird . . . and . . . out of focus . . .
I'm also pretty sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I don't like standing still.
Ha, ha! NOW I feel better! And check out my big sister's sparkly shoes!

This is Big Sister. She loves me. Even though I do torment her sometimes.
(You know, it's a little brother's job to do that.)

Grandpa, see! This is one of my most cherished toys. It's a little parrot.

Well, I tried to keep my shirt tucked in, but it just won't stay.

See! So what's a guy supposed t' do, anyway? Huh?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Food for Thought

Just kidding! Well, maybe not . . .Chicken Cacciatore: It was "What's for Dinner" last night.

My daughter, Sarah, asked me to fix this dish a day or two ago. So, last night I did. It was very yummy and was based on a recipe she found online from "food" courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis. I personally love to watch her show.

So, here's my version of her recipe. I didn't change much.

Chicken Cacciatore

1 whole chicken, cut up, (breasts cut in half crosswise, equalling 4 pieces)
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
2 large carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
3/4 cup white grape juice (Giada used white wine)
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup chicken stock (or broth)
3 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over medium to medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Chicken WILL NOT be thoroughly cooked yet--so WAIT to eat it! Transfer chicken to paper towel on a plate and set aside.

Add bell pepper, onion, garlic, and carrot slices to the same pan and saute over medium/medium high heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the grape juice and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium/medium low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a large serving dish (or 9 x 13 inch casserole). If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. (I left this step out . . . so I had LOTS of sauce. But I liked it!) If you like, you can spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce at this point. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

The basil I retrieved from my huge plant just outside the back door was sooooo aromatic and wonderful and a nice addition to the dish. Yes, I also had fresh oregano growing back there. Can I just say how much I love my pots of herbs growing on the back patio? Well, I do. We served the chicken and sauce over spaghetti noodles and sprinkled it all with Parmesan cheese. We liked it. In fact, my husband said he'd like to eat it again. (Translation: he REALLY liked it!)

Sarah said, since I added the carrots (upon her request, I might add) it seemed sweeter than the time she fixed it for her Dad when I was off helping her sister Amy with the birth of her second child. (See the cute, smiling, blue-eyed wonder in the far left photo on Saturday's "Someone's Unhappy!" post. Oh, and as an aside, that little guy LOVES to cook! Has ever since he was big enough to drag a stool up to assist his Mom in cooking projects.)
So, go try this recipe. The seasoning is milder than I thought, but VERY nice and tasty! Enjoy! We did. And will again.
Do YOU have a favorite chicken recipe? A favorite Italian recipe? Care to share? Please! Come on! You know you want to!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm Thinking of Deleting

Okay. I'm very self-conscious at the moment. I looked more closely at the picture of the grandparents and grandchildren in the previous post and nearly gagged! I look like I weigh about 300 pounds! How did my daughter's camera do that to me! I'm aghast with fear and trembling. And what makes it worse . . . When I mentioned my horror at the way I look in this picture to my dear husband, he was rather non-plussed, non-committal. He gave me no comfort!!! Yeah, yeah, yeah. He couldn't have answered correctly whatever he said. I hear you out there! You know you said/thought it! The best answer is a consoling answer. There are several that come to mind.

There is a slight amount of solace however in my stockpile. (I tell myself.) Photos always make you look larger than life! That's why they want models that are six feet tall and weight 98 pounds. Poor souls. I could share the wealth. I'd be willing.

Now lets see: Hmmmm. How many trips up and down the stairs do I need to make in 30 minutes (and for how many days?) to lose 10 pounds? Oh, yeah. How many trips up and down the stairs can I make in ten minutes without getting winded? Hey! I can do that! I have done that. A week ago. Or was that week before last? Three weeks . . .

And the Pioneer Woman has a stair machine! I should ask her why she doesn't just install stairs in the Lodge remodel. If she had to go up and down stairs all day taking care of her 7.5 tons of laundry, she'd stay as slim and trim as her ballerina self is already anyway. And she's young enough to be my daughter and all that.

Sigh. No, I don't especially feel any better, but thanks for asking. Sniff. Since I was always underweight growing up and weighed only 130 just a few summers ago, (make that three) I just figured I'd always be okay. What ever happened?!!! I protest. I deny. I . . . I . . . I gotta get up and trek up and down those stairs. (Insert long pause.) Sooner or later . . .

Actually I have to go prepare myself for torture of another kind. Mammogram. Oh the sheer pain. Fibrocystic mess (masses?) complicates and increases the pain of an otherwise already painful exercise. Thinking of you, Debby. This pain is far more temporary than what you're dealing with. Prayers ascend for you today, etc.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Someone's Unhappy!

Here are the grandparents. And here are the grandchildren. One of the grandchildren isn't exactly thrilled with what was going on at the moment. I know you needed that clarification, since it's not self-evident. I don't even remember what upset him. Perhaps it was that when he finally got out of the stroller he wasn't allowed to get into the piles of fallen leaves as his siblings had just been doing--and having a great lot of fun doing so.

Youngest of the grandchildren is often disappointed when he tries to play with the "big kids." It's totally unfair as far as I'm concerned, too!

So, this picture proves that we did actually get to spend a little time with our daughter's family, including said grandchildren. It was great. It was COLD and windy. We'd come from 80 degree temps to 60 something degrees during daylight to 30 something degree nights. Older generation has an adjustment gap there, you know, with extreme temp changes. 50 degree temp differential is not particularly kind on aching knee, back and elbow joints to those over 50 years old. At least, those two folks pictured above.

We do have happier pictures of the distraught youngster, this being one.

He's happy being in Mom's arms.

Grandma and Grandpa are very grateful they got to visit with this family. Dad (to the three adorable children, husband to the lovely daughter) was busy working most of the time we were taking pictures. You'll have to wait for a picture of him.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Barnes and Noble? Maybe Not.

We went on a trip. We saw lots of cool barns--and countryside. Here are some pictures we took of SOME of the barns we saw.

I just love this barn!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Going to See the Grandchildren

Lots has been happening. Lots of prayers have been said. Some seem to be being answered. We'll see. God has His own time frame and we often don't understand it.

HOWEVER! How things turn out is partly in our hands and partly in His. We will trust in His grace to guide, direct, protect, help, etc. as we work our best to do His will to the best of our understanding. (We always have much room for improvement in that area.)

But, we are going to see the grandchildren tomorrow! Can't wait! They're in a new location, state, town, environment, etc. Son-in-law says the hardwood trees are in splendorous color and we should really enjoy the drive. We're looking forward to that as well.

I made a lot of "picture cards" which my daughter will help (or do because I might get in the way) laminate so I can play games with the children. I've thought that matching cards of things that go together might be kind of fun. I have a picture of a house and one of their family. I have a picture of our house and individual pictures of their family and ours. And a lot of other pictures, as well. Like one of a tablet and one of a pencil (can you tell why that might be? Big surprise, I'm sure!) One of a spoon and one of a bowl of gumbo. I'm sure it's easy to figure out for us BIG kids.

The next game I thought of entails the children picking several cards and then telling us a story using the various chosen cards. I hope it will work and be fun for them. I love telling stories and listening to those that others tell as well. There should be plenty of pictures to choose from--I have about 80 or 90!

If it all goes well, I'll report back. If it doesn't, I might report back anyway!

Friday, October 3, 2008

How About This? What's in the Box?

I love the "comments" that have been added to the story thus far! I should probably have allowed more than "one or two lines" from each participant . . . BB and Jeannie have peaked my interest in where they might have been leading us! So, from now on, if you have more to add than "a line or two" feel free" to do so. AND, additionally, I should have mentioned, you can add on more than once, if you feel so inspired/inclined.
Of particular note: Those who visit (lurk), we won't be biting any one's head off if you contribute your fun continuation of this story. In fact, it would be really great to hear from you and learn where your imagination might take us! Thanks in advance to all who have and will contribute to this story. I'll be adding a bit now and then, meself!
Bush Babe at Granite Glen gave me a great idea the other day. She had a contest to guess what a woman was doing in a particular "mystery" photo she included in her post. I thought that might be fun, so I scrolled through the answers already in the "comments" and was inspired by Debby's response (of Life's Funny Like That) and took my lead from her.

That reminded me of an experience I had as a YOUNG teenager at a Church youth activity many, many long years ago. Some adult leader gave us a topic, which I thought was stupid. Yes. I still remember it. It was: Why should or shouldn't you campaign to have your pajamas color coordinated with your bedroom? I don't, however, remember all the rules of the game, but I do remember being rather wild in my defense of matching decor/pj's. AND I do remember having fun. I also remember lots of folks laughing as I launched into my ridiculous rational as to why one should match such silly things. I think I cited things like purple polka dotted pj's clashing with green striped walls, or some other nonsense, as sound reason to need to coordinate such items and avoid nightmares.

So, here are my parameters:

I'll begin the "Story line" and you, whoever you story tellers might be, get to add a line or two to get the story moving. Each contribution should build on the previous one, thus creating a larger story. I request that you keep the language and subject matter in check--as we may have young children lurking over our shoulders, and I'd be very uncomfortable with them getting a shock from any one's addition that might contain something objectionable. [I reserve the right to delete anything I deem objectionable.] Anyway, I know you're all talented enough to keep within "the BOX" and still be hilarious. Please be as creative as you choose! Magic, fantasy, outer space, dinosaurs--you name it--can be part of your contribution. Let your imaginations roll. At least, I have faith that you can follow the guidelines and still have loads of fun.

Since I'm new at this sort of thing, I hope you'll bear with me. My goal is sharing our imaginations + writing skills--and that will be the prize: to just have fun together. And perhaps we can cheer Debby through the trial she now faces. Feel free to invite your friends to participate. And let's have us some a that there fun!

On a lovely, crisp autumn day you take a stroll through the woods. After half-an-hour or so, you come upon a beautiful meadow. The sun is pleasantly warm, the air comfortably cool. There are fall flowers here and there in the grassy area before you bounded on all sides by the changing colors gracing the various leaves of the tall deciduous trees. Then you see it! A box. A large box. A large box resting against a huge, ancient forest oak . . .
You get to describe the box, what is (or isn't) in it and . . . (drum roll) . . . what happens next!
Have fun my friends! I'm looking forward to your imaginative renditions of "What's in the Box."

Quilt's Done

Okay. This is it. Another rush photo job, hence not perfect!
(Did I say that? Not perfect? Like any thing I do is perfect! I only wish...)

I finished the binding not by hand, as I would have liked, but finish it I did. On the sewing machine. And of course, 3 of the 4 corners refused to be mitered. Absolutely, unequivocally refused. Blatantly even. How could they do that you ask? Well, if I knew the answer to that, I'd have dispensed with their contrariness and mitered the heck out of them!

Whew. Sorry 'bout that. I'd better calm down.

Jesse'll probably be none the wiser and care even less. He's just happy to have it. I took it to the Church social in his behalf on Wednesday night, brought a Magic Marker so everyone who wanted to could sign the quilt. He told me last night that he slept under it, but his mother took it away from him.

I was shocked! Then I remembered: Ooops. "I did caution your Mom to let it air out a bit . . . you know . . . the fumes from the marker nearly knocked out two or three of those in the room where all the marking went on. AND we don't want you getting knocked out by killer fumes, not when you have an important mission to fulfill."

He smiled and nodded that he understood. Jesse, a man of few words. Bush Babe of Granite Glen has a SSB, so she knows someone like Jesse. But that tendency to be shy and quiet will change. Soon. He enters the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo, Utah, next week.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm Working on a Quilt

Well, I'm actually, technically, working on two quilts. I started a flannel quilt for my husband, uh, ah, well . . . three years and counting . . . ago and it has now been quilted as of like two weeks ago thanks to three ladies from Church who love quilting, two of whom have been quilting for some years now, and a newer quilter friend and myself. I think it took two sessions for us to quilt it. I just need to get the binding done and I will finally be able to give it to my dear husband.

I picked up these wonderful flannel fabrics at JoAnn's. They were hosting a 1/2 price sale on all their flannel fabric, and I must admit I made out like a bandit. (I did. My wallet... That's another story.) But I love, love, love the huge variety of printed flannels they had at that HUGE JoAnn's in Tucson. I so wanted to buy tons more than I could afford. Oh, yeah. *goofy grin* I did buy more than I could reasonably afford. Ooops. Now I can't find a JoAnn's that big anywhere around here unless, maybe I go to the Houston, TX area. And that's quite a trip. Bush Babe of Granite Glen makes treks like that from time to time. Maybe I can too. At least when the wallet gets a little more something in it. *sigh* Or maybe I'll just make a few more quilts with what I have on hand . . .

This is mostly what my husband's quilt looks like. It will look slightly different once bound. (Sorry the picture quality isn't so great. I was in a hurry to post.)

The other quilt began as these three sisters and I sat around quilting two weeks ago when we realized that one of our young men, Jesse, who just turned 19 will be heading out on his two-year mission in a matter of weeks. We discussed getting together, pooling our quilting fabrics, etc. and getting this done BEFORE he leaves. He's going to Denver, Colorado. We've kind of had a tradition (long before I moved to this community) of presenting the returning missionaries with a quilt--as a token of our appreciation for their dedicated service. The tradition has had a change here or there: some quilts were presented prior to the missionaries leaving, as in the case of an older couple (the wife of this duo, was involved in my husband's quilt) because they were going to a cold climate--as Jesse is.

When it came down to it, we had so many other things taking our time--one sister had a brand new grandchild born, so she wasn't able to contribute at the moment, and one thing and another, so I looked through all my mountain of fabric to find I had more than enough, had enough batting, and enough flannel to back it with, so I struck out on my own to craft this quilt.

These are the pieces (quilt blocks) of Jesse's quilt. It will look different when finished.

With the time constraints involved, I won't be piecing this one by hand, though I did embroider Jesse's favorite scripture verse, John 14:15 on one square. Jesse's like that verse: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." He wants to do the Lord's work, and he doesn't use a lot of words. Using words will probably increase for him over the next two years. He's one of those "good kids" that you still hear about, doesn't get into trouble, has infinite patience and a very kind, loving heart. Oh, and he loves peach cobbler at birthday time, too. I made one of those for him, too, and had one of his (five) brothers, and his parents over for peach cobbler to celebrate--on a small scale--his birthday. I think I've known Jesse (and his family) for about 15 years now.

This is the embroidered block--not the best embroidery--again the time constraint. But it does accurately capture the Scripture verse, which is the point, I suppose.

Back to the quilt project. I finished the embroidery, and now I'll machine stitch the very large squares (all in the interest of time) together, stitch up the flannel back. Next week, these 3 ladies, and perhaps a few more from Church, will join me and we'll tie it. That process goes very quickly and will still make a nice quilt. We hope that when Jesse uses it, he'll remember people back home love him and support his decision to serve the Lord and His children.

Are there any quilters among you who lurk around my blog, by chance? What kind of quilting projects do you work on? Do you have special projects that you work on? Patterns/techniques you've found that you love? I'm such a novice in the quilting department, you'd be amazed. Or not. Share with us, please!