Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Great Pumpkin

If you ever call me on my cell phone and I don't answer, send the rescue crews to my house. The pumpkins will have gotten us! These things are monstrous and are growing at a truly alarming rate. This one reminds me a little bit of a dragon. Those long white things on the right are going to turn in to roots. These babies put roots down at each leaf and just keep moving along. Marvelous Mark has a way with plants and he has grown some state-fair-quality pumpkins in the past. These are Dill's Atlantic Giant Pumpkins. They are more aggressive than kudzu. Now you understand my fear. He planted this one within 20 feet of the front porch. I am worried! There is one itty-bitty pumpkin on it at this point; I'll post pictures as it grows.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Marvelous Mark strikes again! This wonderful man really can fix anything. My "new" sewing machine (it's only 21 years old) broke several weeks ago as I was finishing up a new dress. I asked Mark if he could cannibalize some parts from my Grandma's old cabinet machine that I had inherited several years ago and never used. This poor machine has been sitting unused for at least 15 years and quite possibly longer than that. It has been moved from Georgia to Vermont to North Carolina to South Carolina (lived at least 2 different places there) with Grandma (and it may have been in Switzerland before that, I'm not sure when Grandma got it); to Georgia where it was stored in a damp, leaky barn, then in a hot and dusty garage; off to Alabama where it was stored in an exterior storage room and then to our basement in our new home. Poor machine! We went down to the basement to look at it and on a whim, I plugged it in and to my great delight and surprise it worked!! Mark looked it over and strongly suggested that I go to using it more since the parts are all metal (the newer model has plastic gears) and should last for many more years. After we got some parts from Mom, I was able to finish my dress. Then it broke. Mark looked it over, cleaned it, oiled it still did not work. We were disappointed because repairing a machine can get pretty pricey. Two days later, Mark went in and the machine works. It's either Divine intervention or the oil finally soaked in, but I'm giving thanks and praise to God either way! So this week I will enjoy the steady rain we are hoping to get while I "Sew! Sew like the wind!" and finish up
1. A gift for a sister
2. A skirt
3. A dress
4. A couple more slips (I do NOT like nylon slips in the summer!)
5. Some bishop gowns to then be pleated and smocked.
Think that's enough to keep me busy?!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Night Time Homestead TV

I can not believe what just happened; Marvelous Mark, Dan and myself just got a glimpse of the space station passing over our home! What a fun and exciting edition of Homestead TV tonight. I'm a little surprised at myself being so excited about it, but it was really neat to see it racing so brightly across the sky. Here is a link to night-time viewing that you might find interesting. They have a map that lets you find the coordinates to your home and shows you on a star map adjusted to your home where to look for different things. Great fun! Another resource (if you are interested in night-time sky viewing) is a book by H. A. Rey. Yup, the man who wrote Curious George also did a terrific astronomy book titled, "The Stars: A New Way To See Them".
Anyway, that is our excitement for a Monday evening.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mark and I went to the library today to pick up some books we had on hold. As a side note, isn't putting things on hold at the library the neatest thing EVER?! We can browse the catalog and find a book. A great deal of the time it happens to be at one of over a score of other libraries in our library system. So we just say to the library computer, "Excuse me, but would you please get that book for me and send it to the library of my choice?" And the computer says, "Why certainly! This book happens to be in Avondale (or Bessemer or Irondale or any one of a number of other places that we don't plan to visit in the near future). Shall I send it to Hoover for you, since that is the library you visit most often, or is there another location that would be more convenient to you?" Once those pleasantries are taken care of, the computer magically makes the book go to the library of our choice and then lets us know when it arrives! Not only that, it is so sweet and patient it gives us 4 days to pick up the book (unless we ask it for a little longer, please) and THEN lets us keep the it for 28 days and THEN asks us on day 24 if we are coming back to town or if we would like to renew it for another 2 weeks. Wow. Are we spoiled, or what?! I hope you have a nice library like we do!

Anyway, on to the topic I really meant to write about tonight. We found a book (it was on hold for us) titled, "Made From Scratch" by Jenna Woginrich. It's a nice book; very engaging and readable. It is the story of the author's foray into country living. She had a friend who helped her get started in this adventure and would often invite her over to her home to visit. Her friend had something she called Farm TV where they would sit on the porch and just watch all that would happen with the different animals. Sometimes her friend would get up to go do something in the house and say, "Summer re-runs; I caught this show the first time".
Mark and I have been enjoying our own version of homestead TV. Our porch has two new adirondack rocking chairs, thanks to our recent anniversary. We enjoy sitting on them in the cool of the evening and telling the hummingbirds good-night and welcoming the cicadas. Tonight we had a guest appearance. He passed by briefly last night (I thought I heard the announcer saying, "Tomorrow, on Homestead TV, a special guest appearance by...."). I managed to catch a picture even though it was starting to get late. I did find that he does not like the green flash that appears just before the camera flash goes off!

I suppose I ought to ask you to send in suggestions for a name. He (she?) does have one friend we have seen and possibly others (two is enough for me for right now!). So send a suggestion if you have one and if you are blessed to have a porch and a chair, let me know how your Homestead TV is going.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's an Auntie to do?

What am I supposed to do? I went to the zoo and the babies were so cute, the big kids were so cute, the animals and the flowers made for some amazing hundred and twenty-two of them, to be exact! Even after culling the ones that were blurry or just not good, I still have over one hundred pictures. How in the world am I supposed to show one hundred pictures to you? Because of course, they all deserve to be seen. After all, these are the two cutest pre-schoolers around! I'll pick my top faves of each subject, but I wish you were here to look at the album on my computer with me.

Moses the Tractor Man

Makenna, aka, "Goldilocks". The last trip most of my pictures were of her little sister Miriam and the time before that most of the pics were of Moses, so this time was Makenna's turn and boy, do I ever have a bunch of cute ones of her!

The Aunts getting a little goofy after a long day in the sun. Or else Anne is tired of Auntie 'Ginia snapping her picture!

This time we saw the butterfly house, an exhibit that we usually bypass on our way to ride the train.

I'm sure that there have been times in my life when I have seen lily-pads in blossom, but I sure don't remember them. I don't know which I like better, the color of the flower or the pretty shadows they cast.

So those are my favorites. Today. Who knows what I will think tomorrow?! Next time you are in the vicinity of the Birmingham Zoo, I highly recommend that you stop and take a few moments to enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Zoo Day!

I'm always ready for a trip to the zoo, especially when it includes time with Moses and Makenna. When my sister Liz called last night with the suggestion that we meet there today I was thrilled! Moses and Makenna's parents and baby sister are out of town this week, which means that Nana Liz is spending time with them before she has to leave them for a long while to go overseas. I can hardly wait to help Moses and Makenna show Nana all about the Birmingham Zoo. Pictures tonight or tomorrow!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

First, a report. The Pell City Farmer's Market is rather small. If you are looking for big and showy and artsy-craftsy, you probably want to skip it and just head to Pepper Place in downtown Birmingham on Saturday mornings (and you need to get there before 8:30 because it gets really crazy by 9:00). In Pell City there is a local honey vendor, which is nice. I have tried to get local honey for a while to help my guys' allergy problems. Unfortunately, it has to be very local to help allergy problems and too often what is advertised as local means "within 350 miles". The county extension agent also has a booth at Pell City with lots of printed material available. I was amused; it was a little windy today so they had ziplock bags with dried beans as paper weights. It seemed like just the thing a county agent ought to do.
I had intended to take some pictures to show you. Unfortunately my camera died this morning. No big problem, it just needs new batteries, but I did not manage to get those before going to the market. Oh well, maybe next time!
Today I may well put the happy hat on and do the dance of joy. The stove-man cometh this morning; Banana Bread, here I come!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Last night I almost put on my happy hat and did the dance of joy. After several weeks of stove-only cooking because the oven was broken, the new oven arrived! Hurrah for Melvin, the remarkable realtor, who managed to get us a home warranty at the last minute on closing day! Without that I would be camp cooking for many more weeks. Anyway, the lovely new gas stove was delivered by Patrick and Michael last evening (I told them they are now two of my favorite people). They are the reason I did not put on the happy hat and do the dance of joy; Mark was afraid that this would make them jump back in their truck and peel out of the driveway as fast as they could go (I don't know why; Mark's reaction to the hat and the dance is not that bad). So today the installer will come and hook it up (I hope) and hopefully I can treat the guys to meatloaf for supper tonight and banana bread tomorrow.
We found out Sunday that Pell City has Farmer's Market on Wednesday afternoons, so we are going to head that way this afternoon (unless the stove person calls) and check it out.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mark and I are small-church people. We have really enjoyed the times we have been part of a small community church. Once upon a time, Mark's criteria was that we lived close enough to the church that we could walk to it. Life is different in the big-city! The church where we have found ourselves at this time is anything but small, being in excess of 4,000 members! We are confident, however, that this is where God wants us at this time. We realized at one point that when we get to heaven we are going to be in a congregation much larger than this. Managing a church this size, even when you have a large sanctuary, is a challenge for the church leadership. Our church has had to go to multiple services (like many other churches). Mark and I choose to attend the evening service because it allows our son (who is a member of another church) to attend with us. The evening service is smaller, too, and the pastor feels a little less constrained to finish on time. Understand that smaller means just a few hundred folks, but when you are in a very large sanctuary, that feels like a lot less. That makes Sunday mornings a little interesting for us. We are not used to being at home on Sunday mornings. Sometimes we go visit other churches in our area, sometimes we listen to sermons on the internet, sometimes we just sit around. Sometimes when Mark starts talking about how it feels funny to not be at church on Sunday morning I start singing "Tradition!" from Fiddler On the Roof. It is important to not get so bound by tradition that we are doing something just because we think we are "supposed to". At the same time, my heart is not perfect and 100% in tune with the Spirit 100% of the time. There are times when I do things (like attend church and/or Bible study) for all the wrong reasons and God is still able to work in me and change my motivation so that He is honored by my presence.
But it still feels peculiar to attend church on Sunday night and not Sunday morning!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Summer time in a new house with a garden that was planted later in the year than normal has been a little crazier than I anticipated.
It's been a little busy with canning peach preserves and keeping my guys in line (that's a full-time endeavor right there). But I have made time to learn an interesting new skill. I have woven a rag rug on a frame loom. I used to try braided rag rugs but there was so much sewing involved I never finished one. Thinking back to the little pot holders I used to make as a child, I thought that the woven rugs would not require any sewing. I was wrong. However the amount of sewing is not that bad and since I was going for a rustic look anyway I did not care about whether or not my stitches were picture perfect. It was an interesting project and I think I will continue to try these. I learned what I should have done differently and what I liked about doing it. The best part is that I finished it in time for a smocking guild meeting at my home Wednesday morning and since I had planned to use it as a bathmat, I placed it on the floor of the guest bathroom (also known as Dan's bathroom). Yesterday evening Dan asked me why it was there. I told him that it had been intended as a bathmat all along and I put the first one in his bathroom to show off. His response? "Can it stay there? I like it; it's just the right size and it feels good on my feet". My response? You wonderful son! A compliment like that from a 20 year old son guarantees a life-time supply!!