Wordless Wednesday #6

Wordless Wednesday #6

Springing Forward

Springing Forward

Following one of the coldest winters we’ve seen around here in a long time, Spring seems to have arrived.  I say “seems to”, out of an abundance of caution, maybe because I don’t want to jinx anything.  Also, this is Missouri, and just about anything can happen.  Last year we had snow on May 1, although that is not the norm by any means.  Nevertheless, almost everyone appears hopeful that it’s real, and that Spring has officially sprung.

Jackson & Perkins catalogs arrive in the mail almost weekly now, with hybrid tea roses so luscious-looking that I’m tempted to forget all about past experiences with Black Spot disease and Red Spider Mites, and spend vast quantities of money and time replanting the entire flower bed that surrounds my covered front porch.  My saving grace came last week when–just after the storms blew through–the first daffodil bloom of the season materialized.  And nearby is a super-fragrant pink hyacinth.  Both of them are close to the concrete steps on the south side of the porch, making me wonder if the heat of the sun on the old rough concrete radiated just enough warmth out into that part of the ground to induce those particular bulbs to produce their yearly beauty show first.  Other plants are sending up shoots, too, reminding me that there’s more color to come.  Their blooms don’t last very long into the season, but at least the bulbs keep producing, year after year.

Pink Hyacinth

Providing, of course, that the moles don’t get to them.  As you may recall, my D.G. dog Albert is quite the mole digger (see Archives!) but he’s still no good on backfill.  And replanting the bulbs that get tossed along with the soil if he finds a varmint in the flower bed?  Not a chance!

 

Calf Slobbers

Calf Slobbers

My good friend is moving.  Actually, it’s been a progressive process for quite some time, but now it’s official.  The house has been sold and Saturday they had a Sale.  If you live in the city, you probably call it an auction, but if you live–or grew up in–the country or a small town, you likely call it a Sale.  Basically, it’s a method of dispersing, in short order, of lawn and garden equipment, furniture and other household goods that one doesn’t intend to take along when they move.  If the owner has died, it’s referred to as an Estate Sale.

People can find some really good bargains at Sales.  If you’re just starting out on your own and don’t have much in the way of Worldly Goods yet, try to catch a few of these events.  It’s amazing what you can pick up for a small investment.  If you’re lucky, there will be food available (for a price, of course).  And if you’re really lucky, as we were on Saturday when the food was provided by some folks from a little local church congregation, the offerings at the concession table will include Pie.  Not just any pie, but honest-to-goodness, made from scratch by someone who truly knows what they’re doing, homemade pie.  With Meringue!  Is it chocolate, lemon, or coconut filling hidden underneath that fluffy, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth topping?  Who cares; it has meringue!

Not everyone likes meringue.  More than one person I’ve met (my mother included) call it Calf Slobbers.  They’d rather have a chocolate cream pie adorned with whipped topping than meringue.  Is it whipped cream?  Dream-whip or Cool-Whip, or what?  Do they even care?  If not, that’s ok, too; it’s their pie, after all.  But given the choice, I’ll pick meringue for my cream pie every time.  And Baked Alaska?  I’m pretty sure that’s what Heaven’s all about.

Now it’s your turn.  What’s on–and in–your pie?

 

photo credit:  Michelle Furnell, used with permission

Which Came First?

Which Came First?

Among the many simple things for which I am truly grateful, farm fresh eggs rank pretty high on the list.  The yolks stand up higher, the whites hold together more firmly, and they really do taste better than the store-bought variety.

It seems like there’s a resurgence in the concept, too.  Yesterday in the farm and home store I saw cute little pre-fab coops with wire pens on the sides, in three different designs.  These were, of course, displayed strategically next to the heat lamps, feeders, water founts, and–best of all–the baby chicks!  A guy was standing there, gazing longingly at the different breeds, and remembering aloud to me the fresh eggs he’d gotten for breakfast at Granny’s when he was a kid.  He admitted he lives “in town”, but was determined to find out if the city ordinances would allow him to keep one of those little coops with a few hens in his back yard.  I wished him well, and was again reminded of just how happy I am to live in the country.

When I was growing up,  we lived “in town” too.  But every summer, we were blessed to get to spend some time with our Country Cousins on both sides of the family.  At my dad’s brother’s place, Aunt Evelyn would let me go out to the chicken house with a bucket in the mornings to collect the eggs.  It was a bit like a treasure hunt.  Sometimes the hens would still be on their nests, but I’d gently slide my hand under their downy feathers and carefully retrieve the still-warm eggs from underneath them.  It doesn’t seem like I got pecked much, or if so, it wasn’t traumatic enough to recall.

The hens I have now were a gift from a couple who were moving to Arizona.  He was retiring from his job and wanted his little flock to have a good home.  Seven of the hens and the rooster are Buff Orpingtons, and two more hens are a shiny black, rather on the small side, with bright, dark eyes.  They’re all fairly calm and good-natured birds, and have been supplying me with about six or seven eggs a day.  They get grain and water and occasional scraps in their coop in the corner of the big barn, and have a wire-enclosed pen attached to the building for time in the sun.  On fair days I often open the pen door to allow them forage time in the yard.  Along with the seven guineas (tick eaters!) with whom they share their home, they all crowd around the outer door when they see me approaching, and race outside into the barnyard for their share of greens and bugs.  By sunset they’ve generally found their way back in to roost for the night.  I make a head-count to be sure everyone’s safely inside before I shut and latch the door to keep varmints at bay.

And you might think this is silly, but I thank them for giving me such nice eggs.  Somehow it just seems like the polite thing to do.

Got a chicken story to share?  Leave a comment!

PS to “Served”

PS to “Served”

Although I wasn’t able to get this photo in time to go with the post last Saturday, it is the view that inspired it.  Miss Dot was kind enough to repeat the pose this evening with her supper.  She didn’t even complain that I caught her chewing with her mouth open!

And How Would You Like That Served?

And How Would You Like That Served?

Now is the perfect time to write a post about food, because I am not the least bit hungry.  Having gone to the grocery store ‘way too many times when I was hungry . . . you ‘ve probably done the same thing, and already know how that story ends.

My D.G. dog Albert and his new companion Dot are getting along very well.  They’re of a similar size and build, and Dot can almost keep up with Albert in the running department, which is really saying something.  They play well together (if a bit rambunctious at times), and have been fairly decent about sharing beds, toys and bones.  I’m careful to give them both their share of attention.  The main challenge arrived at mealtimes:  Dot’s a Chewer, whereas Albert is an Inhaler.  Putting the chow in two similar-sized bowls at opposite ends of the room makes no difference.  Albert devours his ration and then wants to help Dot with hers.  And while he doesn’t have an overly dominant personality, seniority apparently trumps femininity, and she lets him!  Being young, and probably a healthy percentage Coonhound, Dot is skinny enough already.  And Albert?  Well, he used to be skinny.

So, I’ve worked out a new method.  Albert still gets his breakfast and supper in the kitchen, as usual.  Dot’s bowl is put down in the living room, near the sofa, where I sit to supervise.  About the time Dot takes her second or third piece of kibble, Albert trots in, where he’s invited to join me on the sofa for a little snuggle time.  He casts occasional glances at his friend (and her bowl), but seems mostly satisfied with the trade-off.  Dot just takes her time, crunching each morsel thoroughly before moving on to the next.  Sometimes she tips the bowl with her foot, spilling the dry food across the floor.  Often the meal takes long enough that she actually lays down, with her front legs stretched out on either side of the bowl.  Eventually, she finishes, Albert jumps down off the couch, and they both look toward the door.  I open it, and they hit the ground running.

People sometimes have funny food habits, too.  Some tend to eat a meal one food at a time, while others swirl everything on the plate into a hodgepodge.  My late step-father-in-law John would eat for a while, then lean back and smoke a cigarette, then continue eating.  Larry had dentures and believed in chewing everything to smithereens, so he was always the last one to finish, even in big groups.  I tend to eat fast, unless there’s a lot of conversation going on to distract me.  Some people like gravy on almost everything.  Others think the dinner spread is not complete unless there’s bread and butter on the table.  Some will salt their meal before they even taste it.  And as for chewing habits?  Hmm.  Not gonna go there.

The picture above shows a plate of nachos served as an appetizer at the Gourmet Café and Pie Company in Los Alamitos, California.  I dined there with my aunt, uncle and cousins on New Years Day.  The food was fantastic and plentiful.  The usual yellow tortilla chips were supplemented with red and green ones, presumably for the holiday season.  My uncle can really pick the restaurants, and we had some incredible meals during my visit.  And if they observed any silly idiosyncrasies on my part while at the table, they were kind enough not to say so.

Bon Appetit!   Got a food funny to share?  Leave a comment!

 

Wordless Wednesday #5

Wordless Wednesday #5

Book to Read:  “A Higher Call”

Book to Read: “A Higher Call”

Years of experience teach us to keep indexes:  usually alphabetical lists of things for future reference.  Telephone and address books; business cards of good plumbers, electricians, carpenters; contact information for people we can call on for help when we truly need it.

Likewise, if you’re an avid reader, you generally know who, among your friends and relatives, to ask for ideas about what to read next. My family has several of these.  A few years ago I discovered that my Uncle David’s taste in books is somewhat similar to my own, so now when we visit (usually by phone, from across the country), I always ask what he’s been reading lately. When I saw him at New Years, this was his answer:  A Higher Call by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander.  A true story, centered around the World War II experiences of two pilots–one American, one German–this book engaged my sympathies , enhanced my education, and held my interest from beginning to end.  It also inspires me to learn more about the era, and about those who lived through it.

If you’d like to see more, here’s the website of the author:   http://www.valorstudios.com/a-higher-call-book.htm

Please note, this is not a sponsored plug; I’m not receiving any compensation if you click the link or buy this book or any others from the site.  Your local library might have it, or numerous other sources.  It’s just a book I appreciated, have already passed to someone else, and felt it worth a mention.

What’s your latest good read?

Sunset

Sunset

Finally, after such a long, cold winter, we’ve had a couple of truly nice days!  Yesterday was sunny and warm.  Today it hit 75 degrees.  This evening the clouds were gathering and the wind picked up and there were even a few sprinkles of rain on the windshield of the old Suburban when I came home from a meeting in town.  The forecast says the temp will drop at least 30 degrees before midnight, but at least it’s not predicted to stay there for more than a day or so, then hop back up into the 60s.  Keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer . . . maybe we’re heading into Spring!

In the meantime, I was up at the barn lot last evening with my daughter and her family.  We were all happy to be outside with no coats needed, and the extra hour of daylight after work was almost worth that lost hour of sleep over the weekend. Just before we turned to head toward the house, the view to the west was just spectacular.  If you’ve already seen this on my Facebook page, please forgive the repeat.  No special camera here, just a cell phone version, but God painted the sky enough that the colors came through anyway.

Sunrises and sunsets are some of my favorite views, and often they change so rapidly it’s hard to catch them in a photo.  Hope this one makes you smile.  It sure worked for me!

Are You a Junkie?

Are You a Junkie?

Alright, it’s time to ‘fess up.  Everyone who knows they’re a Junkie, raise your hand.  Think you’re not?  Don’t make any bets just yet.  Pretty much everyone probably is, at least of the type I’m writing about today.  How many of you out there can truly claim to have no junk drawer in your home?  In fact, if you can limit the stash to one drawer, you must be pretty well organized!

In my house, it’s one of the bottom cabinet drawers in the kitchen.  Today when I tried to open it to look for something, the blasted thing got hung up by a small section of leftover plastic drain pipe (the kind that goes under the kitchen sink), which was sticking up just enough to wedge itself against the framework on the cabinet front and prevent the drawer from opening more than a couple of inches.  Grrr, don’t you hate it when that happens?!  And never having been a plumber (nor having been married to one), it’s not as though there are enough plumbing supplies hanging around here to dedicate a shelf or a box in the workshop to those items.  This time, however, I was aggravated enough to get a plastic grocery sack and pitch all the plumbing items I could see from the drawer into it.  It’s now hanging in the mudroom until the next time I traipse up the hill to the shop in the barn.  Since the son-of-my-house and the grandkids worked together to clean the shop out last summer, there’s a lot more space in there for storing things I may or may not ever need again.  At least it freed up a bit of room in the junk drawer so it’ll open and shut much better. . . for now, anyway.

Looking through a junk drawer can be a little trip down Memory Lane, though, if you’re not in too big of a hurry.  (Hah!  I hear you laughing; when do you ever open the junk drawer that you’re not in a hurry?  Good point.)  But just fish around in there for whatever it is that you’re hunting this time, and surely you’ll come across at least one item of sentimental value.  The extra hardware that came with the special-colored mini-blinds for your daughter’s room, for instance.  A hand pump for airing up the basketball, soccer ball, volleyball.  A single earphone that you used to plug in to that little transistor radio you hid under the pillow at night when you were 14 and couldn’t get to sleep when the folks said “time for bed.”  And–OH!–there’s that chuck key for the electric drill!

Now and then I get the feeling that my space should be in better order and that everything should have its designated storage spot where I’ll know exactly where to find it.  But then real life kicks in and sure enough, “where do I put this?” happens again.  Oh well.  There’s always the Junk Drawer.