Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ten Minutes

What a difference ten short minutes can make. 

A few weeks ago, in ten minutes we went from this....

Please pardon the awful quality here


...and had all of this.

That's a whole tree.

Fortunately it fell away from the power lines, toward the ravine, and we had no problems because of it.  It's still hanging there with the roots exposed, so I'm sure it will come down the rest of the way in the next big wind storm

Country excitement! 

Friday, June 28, 2013

You just never know.

We love life in the country.  You just never know what you are going to see next!

Some bees in flight.

A junior zephyr squash waiting for the sunshine.

Perhaps a vain rabbit primping in the mirror.

An unexpected yellow flower (It is not a weed; I like it!)

A purple hollyhock in bloom after waiting two years!

A regal orange cat hiding under the craft table.  She is neither the Princess of Practically All, nor the Queen of Quite a Lot.  SHE is the Empress of Everything!

Or perhaps just a lovely goodnight from our Heavenly Father!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Garden Supper (with recipes)

Note:  This is traditional southern comfort country cooking and does not necessarily fall into the modern-day healthy category.  For a healthier look at Garden Supper, try Sassy Gal's latest post here

Some nights Mama just needs to fix an easy meal.  Fortunately at this time of year, that is Mr. Marvelous' favorite kind of meal.  Around here in the summer time, easy meal means garden meal!

Here's what dinner was Tuesday evening, with recipes.  The starred ingredients mean things that we grew ourselves.

Country Squash:
*4-6 Fresh picked zephyr squash
*2 smallish onions
1-2 Tablespoons butter
sprinkling of seasoned salt or powdered chicken bouillon.  Note:  if you add too much seasoning, run out to the garden, grab a couple more squash, slice 'em up and toss 'em in with 1/2-1 cup of water.

Wash the squash and slice of the ends.  Slice about 1/2 inch thick.  If you slice them thinner they will cook more quickly, in case you are in a hurry.  Melt butter in cast iron pan.  It won't work in any other kind of panThrow in squash and sprinkle with seasoning.  I cook mine for an hour or two on low.  Unless I add too much seasoning, I don't add water.  Mr. Marvelous prefers that it get nice and brown.

*Green Beans with *potatoes:
Pick your beans; Mr. Marvelous picked about two quarts and I grabbed an extra handful when I was ready to cook.  String them, snap them and wash them.  Toss them in a heavy pot (I used my old copper-bottom pan).  If you  don't worry about cholesterol, add either some ham fat, some salt pork, or a slice or two of bacon.  Cover the beans with water and bring to a boil on high heat.  Reduce heat to lowest setting on your stove, cover and let them simmer for at least an hour (two is better).  An hour before the meal, toss in as many small potatoes as your family will eat and cook until soft.  You may season with salt and pepper, seasoned salt, bouillon or nothing.  Mr. Marvelous likes to add a small teaspoon of sugar.

Sliced Tomatoes

Watermelon-Rind Pickles
I use the recipe from the University of Georgia Extension Service.
These people are my go-to for anything canning and/or preserving.  They wrote the must-have canning book, So Easy To Preserve.  Here is the link to order it.  If you don't have it, you need it!  The only thing I do differently from the recipe is to leave my spices floating in the liquid.  When I am in the middle of pickling I never can find a square of cloth for a spice bag.

So there you have our dinner menu.  It's nice being older.  Twenty years ago if I had tried to serve this meal to Mr. Marvelous, I would have been asked in no uncertain terms, "Where is the rest of supper?  There is no meat here!"
Now he rubs his hands in delight and says, "Garden supper?!  Thank you!"

And yes, we do cook our vegetables to death.  We like them that way!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wandering Wednesday? Walking Wednesday? Whatever Wednesday?

I don't know what to call it, but here we are with the walking update.

As of the end of May, I had put in one thousand, one hundred eighty-nine and six-tenths miles.  That's 1189.6.  It seems so much bigger when I write it out, doesn't it?  That means I am a bit over one-ninth of the way to New Zealand.  Wow!  That's right at eighteen months of walking and about twelve months of keeping up with the walking.  I just might make it to New Zealand before I turn sixty.

Here's the map; hopefully it will show you where I am.  The big news (I mean bigger than how far I've gone) is that I am already to the Texas-New Mexico border. 

Have I mentioned yet that Texas is big?  I was wrong.  Texas is HUGE!  And in May, Texas had HUGE storms.  Heat, hail and tornadoes.  I think I will try to start keeping up with the weather where I am.  I'm enough of a nerd to think that would be fun.

I hope to get some Texas pictures posted soon.  In the meantime....

File:New Mexico sign.JPG
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Homesteading Update: The front flowers

I'm a little behind with updates, but here is the situation on the front flowers and herbs.

A few weeks ago I looked out at last year's front flower beds.

Isn't it awful??  And it got worse before it got better.   Much worse.  So I got busy and trimmed the roses back.  Unfortunately you will have to take my word for it because I did not take pictures. Oops!

I tried to get out there and pull weeds, but my body will not let me do that for very long.  And my front flower bed is very, very, very long.  

That area behind the weeds, by the way, is NOT what I weeded.  That's part of Mr. Marvelous' work.  The pulled weeds on the pavement ARE my work. 

The end result of those weeds having been pulled.

A lot of effort for not much result.  What's a country girl to do?

Meet my new friend!  Can you believe I never learned to use one of these until I was 50? 
I suppose I was just too busy canning strawberry jam and making pickles.  And cinnamon rolls.  Did I mention english muffins?

After an hour or so, my new friend and I had only made this much progress.

How do you like Mr. Marvelous' friend up on the porch?

Dear NSA:  I promise that road sign was a gift from a certain member of my extended family.  He found it when cleaning out a garage for a little old lady.  He was a juvenile at the time.  It was many years ago.  And that's all I have to say about that!

This was the point at which I gave out for the day. 

Folks, we got a looooong way to go! 

Next episode:  Mr. Marvelous dons a cape and activates his Super-Powers!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Re-cap

I LOVE my Sunday School class.  Excuse me, I mean my Sunday morning Small Group.
We are waiting for God to bring more students to our class and trust that He will bring the right people at the right time.  For now, we have one student and we will not abandon our class because there is only one student.  We work to make this the best class possible, and we learn a great deal from our student. 

Our curriculum is The Friendship Ministry curriculum endorsed by Joni and Friends.  Or perhaps I should say that the basic bones or structure of what we do comes from them.  I have to admit that we modify things a great deal to meet the needs of our student.  I like the structure of this curriculum and how it is an organized walk through the Bible.  We began in Genesis back in late January and will wrap that book up next Sunday before starting on Exodus.

This week we studied Joseph and his relationship (!) with his brothers.  This is part of the unit titled, "God Cares For His People".  I am big on defining words.  I think that we use many words and phrases, especially within the culture of the church, that we don't understand.  So I began this lesson talking about what it means to care.  I thought I would share with you what I wrote and talked about Sunday

The theme of this unit is that God Cares for His people.
What does that mean?  What does the word “care” really mean?

I care about New Zealand.  I have never been there, and I will probably not ever get to go there.  But I have seen pictures and I think it is a beautiful place.   I don’t know anyone who lives there.  I don’t know that much about what the people are like and what kinds of things they like to do.  So that kind of caring is not very strong.

My family cares about the land and home that God has entrusted to us.  Mr. Marvelous works hard to keep it up.  We plant a garden each year and raise food that I preserve so that we can eat the food from our land in the winter.  We raise chickens so that we can have eggs, and rabbits so that we can have meat.  We keep bees so that we can have honey.  We tend the animals when they are sick and make sure that they always have the right kind of good food and water.  We protect them from coyotes and hawks and snakes and possums and armadillos.  That kind of caring is pretty strong, and it takes  work.

Mr. Marvelous cares about our family.  He goes to work at his job each day so that he can earn money to provide for us.  He grows food for us.   When he is done taking care of his job and our home, he is TIRED.  But if our son calls him and is having car problems, he drops everything to go and help him out.  If I need something from town, we go and get it.  On Saturdays he makes sure that we get to go out and do something fun so that I can get out of the house for a little while.  It might be grocery shopping (which he does not enjoy doing, by the way, but he does it for me), it might be going to yard sales, it might just be going for a drive.  I know that if someone came to our home and tried to hurt me, Mr. Marvelous would do anything he could to care for me and protect me.  So this kind of caring is different.  It means making sure I have what I need, making sure I am protected from any harm, and making sure that I know I am loved.  This is a whole different kind of caring.  It is love at work.

Mr. Marvelous is not perfect.  He is a sinner who has been saved by the grace of Jesus.  He can not know everything, he can not be everywhere, and he can not do everything.  If Mr. Marvelous is at work and I call him with an emergency, it will take him time to get home.  If our son calls with an emergency, Mr. Marvelous will have to choose who to help.  He can not be at work, help me, and help our son all at the same time.  But God can!  God knows everything.  He knows exactly what we need even when we don’t know ourselves.  God is everywhere at the same time.  If I need help and He is in the middle of taking care of my babies out in Utah, God is able to take care of me at the same time He is taking care of them!  God is all powerful.  If a criminal came to our house and tried to hurt me, Mr. Marvelous might not be strong enough to protect me.  But God is always strong enough to take care of me and protect me.  

There have been times in my life when things were hard.   I have had family and friends who have died.  Sometimes we have not had much money and wondered if we were going to be able to buy what we needed and pay our bills.  Sometimes we have had to move places that were not nice and be around people who were not nice to us.  But no matter how hard things seemed to be, I always, always knew that God was right there taking care of things.  As I have gotten older, I can look back on my life and see how God was taking care of me in hard, bad times.  So when other hard or bad times come, I can remember this; “God took care of me then, He is not going to stop taking care of me now.  He has showed me that He will take care of me no matter what, so I can trust Him to keep on taking care of me even in this hard time”.    

In the hard times in life I have often thought about Joseph.  Joseph trusted that God was taking care of him when things were good and when things were bad.  Joseph was rejected by his brothers.  He was hurt, he was thrown into a deep pit, he was sold into slavery.  If it had not been for his oldest brother Reuben, he would have been killed!  In fact, his father was told that he had been killed by wild animals.  Yet even with all these bad things that happened to them, Joseph and Jacob both chose to trust in God’s care for them.  

Jesus’ brothers were unkind to him.  They accused him of being crazy.  The people around Him accused him of awful things, did not appreciate what He did for them, and finally murdered him on the cross.  Joseph cared enough about his brothers to rescue them from starving.  Jesus cared enough to rescue his brothers, his people, and us from hell.  

No matter how hard life might be, we can surely trust our God to take care of us!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Prism. To blog or not to blog.

Like many people I have spent the last two weeks or so thinking a little more about internet privacy and security.  My men-folk are quite savvy about current events and politics. We have been having some very interesting conversations around here.  Some days I can even keep up with the two of them!  Well, almost, anyway.

So after a lot of talking, thinking and praying, and reading my friend Rixie's blog post, here are a few thoughts.

I have a reason and a purpose for blogging.  My contacts outside the home are rather limited, leaving me with few opportunities to share my faith.  This is a forum where I may do that with many people.  It is fascinating to look at the stats page of a blog and see where all of you are located.  My goodness, I have readers all over Europe and Asia!  I know that many of these "readers" are really not people.  I know about trolling and bots and all that not-so-lovely technical stuff.  But if there is any chance at all that even just one person in India or Vietnam or China or Russia or France or Louisiana or New York or anywhere is going to have an opportunity to hear about faith in Jesus Christ as a result of what I am doing, than I am going to keep right on doing it!

I am a little more careful about some personal information.  While I want to share my faith and the grace I have been given, Mr. Marvelous and I tend to be rather private people when it comes to our personal lives.  

The blog may eventually move to a different platform/host.  This is partly from concerns about the Google platform (we have a love-hate relationship), and partly from some things I am hearing from more seasoned bloggers.  If my goal is to reach as many people as possible than I need to use the platform that will allow me to reach as many people as possible, right?

I am going to go back to combining the blogs.  The walking blog will come back home here and I'll probably do Walking Wednesdays or something campy like that.

Writing is a part of me.  Once I start, I have to keep on.  When I stop, life is not as bright.  One of the sweetest things a dear niece ever said to me was, "Aunt Virginia, you are the Aunt with all the stories!".  I'll try to keep 'em coming.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

An Announcement of General Interest....

If you follow me on Facebook you already know that the past 24 hours have been exciting, busy, and somewhat sleepless.  Wheee!

We have been trying for the third time to hatch some Buff Orpington chicks in our Santa Claus Incubator.  The first time the power went out for close to 24 hours about half-way through incubation.  The second time nothing hatched.  Something about Mrs. Rule-Follower not following the rules of temperature, humidity, vent plugs, etc., etc.  Sigh.


Tuesday evening we were sitting in the living room and started hearing an odd noise.  Chirping!  From the incubator!!  I went and peeked in and oddly enough, nothing had hatched.  There was one egg with a very small pip in it and the little chick was talking up a storm inside there.  Then another egg that didn't even have a pip started talking back (I'm hoping this means they are female) (but then again it may not).  Within just a few hours we had a chick hatched out completely and yelling at the top of its voice. 

We suddenly realized the problem of hatching chicks in the living room. 

We have three indoor cats.  Three indoor CURIOUS cats.  Who really, really, really wanted to know what was going on.  And were really, really interested in figuring it out.  They tried to convince us that allowing them to just take a small taste would be a good idea.  We found them on the top of the built in bookshelf looking down at the incubator.  On top of the piano tip-toeing over to peek in.  On the back of the chair leaning over to see if they could figure things out.  They are still trying to convince us that its just out of love and concern for us, and a desire to protect us from the whatever-it-is.  The cats spent the night on the back porch (it was that or we stay up all night with the can of compressed air in one hand and the button to the doorbell in the other) (our anti-social cats hate the doorbell)  (so does our sleeping son).  They are still in a snit over that.  They would be happy to forgive us if we were to furnish some kind of peace offering.  Chicken, perhaps?

She would be SUCH a good Nanny!

At five o'clock Wednesday morning, the second chick hatched. 


At eight o'clock I was on the phone with my Mama telling her all about it and watching the chicks while we talked.  While I was watching, chick #3 kicked its way out of the shell, quickly followed by chicks #4 and #5. 

 At this point I'm not sure that the other seven eggs are going to hatch.  There are not even any pips in any of them.  I would love to have one more so that I could have a 50% hatch rate, but I will take what I have and be thankful. 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Homesteading Update: Out Front With Vegetables

As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Marvelous and Mr. Marvelous, Jr. have come to the conclusion that if one plants one's front yard as a vegetable garden, one does not have much (if any) grass to mow.  Since I have a problem with paying someone else to grow vegetables to can when we have this much land, we went ahead with the project this year.  This summer will be very busy for me, but it sure will be nice to not have to buy vegetables at the grocery store through the winter.  Mr. Marvelous acquired a chainsaw back in the winter and got busy cutting down some of our trees before they leafed out.  He then spent a couple of weeks and a LOT of energy hauling these to the front with the help of Junior.  These became the fence. 

There are two reasons for building this fence.  The gardening reason is that we can tie string every few inches and then the beans have something to climb.  That is very tedious and time-consuming, but it also gives Mr. Marvelous a chance to go sit in his garden after work. 

The neighbor reason for building the fence is that the house across from us has just gone on the market for sale.  We like the folks who are selling it (if we had our way they would just come back and be neighbors again!), and we don't want to create a problem for potential buyers.  They'll figure out how quirky we are soon enough!  So the fence with the beans climbing it also acts as a decorative shield.  A country privacy fence, if you will.

The pictures above were taken along the end of March. 

Here is how things look out here this week. 

We found a farmer who has been quite happy for us to take last year's hay off his hands for a few dollars.  Since the rains have slacked off, we are happy to have the mulch.

Mulching can be back breaking, but it saves a ton of money in water bills!
This year's pepper plantation.  If you like hot pepper jelly, just let me know.  Unless you are my brother-in-law or nephew.  Or my friend Ryan.  In that case I already know. 

We are alternating Blue Lake beans with Scarlet Runners.  The Scarlet Runner beans are not nearly as good-tasting as Blue Lake, but they are so pretty growing!

The front tomatoes are (thankfully) a little behind the back tomatoes.  

We are growing determinate tomatoes this year.  This means that one plant will produce all its' tomatoes at once and then be done.  The advantage to this is that I have a huge crop all at once and can put up all my tomatoes at the same time.  Once I start canning tomatoes, I would just as soon get it all done and over with!

Pickles!  Cucumbers!  I'll be doing a bunch of pickling this year.

Winter squash.  Really.  Some of them do grow in the late spring. 

This is a Zephyr squash, one of our favorites to grow.  The fruit is a little startling at first.

As I was getting ready to go in and download the pictures, I wandered over toward the bean fence.  

Won't be long now!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Houston Area: Space Center

I am fascinated with flight.  When I was a little girl one thing we would do for fun was go to the airport and watch the planes take off and land.  One of my favorite things about living in Warner Robins, Georgia, was being able to go to the Airforce Museum whenever I wanted.  They had an SR-71 Blackbird on static display, which happens to be the coolest plane ever made!

So if my trip did not include a trip to the Johnson Space Center, we were going to have a problem, Houston.

The Center has made some changes since 1986 (go figure!), but the important stuff is still there.

Come and walk through with me....

Picture by Global Jet from Flickr

Saturn V Rocket: Picture by Tim Pearce/Los Gatos from Flickr

Astronaut Training Center by Amanderson2 on Flickr

And finally, THE Mission Control!!  I kept expecting to see Gene Krantz.  Or at least Ed Harris!

Photo by Gruntzooki from Flickr

Homesteading Update: Back Garden

The last couple of weeks have seen a rapid acceleration in the garden.  Feels like I'm on a roller-coaster some days!  Here are the pictures from right after planting.  Now it won't be long before I have my back kitchen cranked up and going in full-canning mode.  Especially since someone planted FIFTY tomato plants this year.   I have to confess that the responsibility is largely mine; I did ask him to do it.  But FIFTY?  What was I thinking??!!

Okay, I'll defer the panic until they start getting a little riper.  In the meantime, here is the pictorial update.  Enjoy!

 Tomatoes, corn, beans, potatoes.....

 Close-up of potatoes and corn

I am really looking forward to fresh corn!  

 Potatoes on the eastern edge.  Please excuse the laundry.

 The beans are climbing, and yes, that's a beehive through there

These are supposed to be carrots.  With weeds.  Really, the weeds are supposed to be there.  Garden art, you know.

Green tomatoes.  These may not make it all the way to ripe before being fried.

 Squash blossoming.  Have you ever had fried squash blossoms?  Use an onion ring batter.

And that's the back  (except for a ton of pictures of my bees).  Up next, if you plant a garden in the front yard you don't have to mow much grass!