Thursday, July 31, 2014

There Is A Reason I Call Him Mr. Marvelous

When we first got married, Mr. Marvelous would show up at the school where I taught every month on the eighteenth and bring me a dozen roses.  He would wait until almost the end of school, peek around the corner to make sure I was finished, and walk in with a big grin and a dozen roses.  Sometimes the day was finished and the kids were gone.  Sometimes they were still there (and they loved it!).  For one year I got roses every single month. 

Since then, I have gotten a lot of roses, although not every single month.  I have gotten roses for every anniversary.  I have gotten roses for my birthday.  I have gotten roses on Mother's Day.  I have gotten roses just out of the blue for no particular reason at all.

I started a tradition during that first year of marriage.  Once the roses started to wilt, I would pull them off the stems and put the petals in a basket to dry.  The basket ~ or another incarnation of it ~ has lived on my dresser all these years.  I don't think there has ever been a time when it got completely empty.  It has been challenging at times to convince Mr. Marvelous' kitten that the petals belong to ME and not to HER, but I think I have won that battle.

A couple of weeks ago Mr. Marvelous had to go spend a week in Wisconsin for training on some new equipment his company is servicing.  He had to be gone over our 27th anniversary.  When he was coming home I had the computer logged onto the airline website all day that let me track his flights (I kept waiting for Homeland Security to come knocking at my door!).  We sent each other little text messages when he was between flights and he called when he got safely back to the Birmingham airport, so I had a rough idea of when he would walk in.  I was ready!  When I heard the van I went running out the front door and there he was walking up the walkway....with a dozen roses in his hand!

They were beautiful lavender roses; a color I hadn't seen and that doesn't sound as lovely as they really are.

When the petals began to wilt, I pulled them and put them into the current basket.

I looked at the bare stems and I suddenly felt like Morticia Addams.

Mr. Marvelous was amused!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

About Those Bees....

I posted an update a couple of weeks ago with pictures of what is going on around the homestead.  When I posted the link on Facebook a friend asked about the bees.  It's a sad and painful (literally) story. 

I have detailed the steps in this post, so I won't go through all the process again but it was quite involved.  Going through all those steps on a hot day in blue jeans, long sleeved shirt, long gloves, work boots, and a veil over your face, is challenging.  Try getting a good look at your frames through the mesh of the veil with sweat  perspiration "glow" dripping into your eyes.  Hold on; we're getting to what the sweat perspiration "glow" does.

In late March/early April, I realized that I needed to get into the hives.  It had been a long and difficult winter.  I had been feeding the bees with sugar water, but I had not inspected things for far too long.  I had already lost a large number of bees to swarming (we lost a total of three swarms).  I went out and started the process.  I don't know if it was the sweat perspiration "glow", or if I got some honey on my veil, or exactly what happened, but suddenly there were some bees inside my veil.  They liked being there even less than I liked having them there.  Before I knew what was happening, I had two bee stings inside one ear and three more on my face.  There was yelling involved.  I am a stubborn, red-headed Reed and I refused to let them beat me completely.  I stomped back out there fussing about "stupid apis mellifera" and managed to get everything put back together.  Then I went inside and fumed for a while.  It took a while for those stings to recover.  I developed some mild cellulitis in the ones on my cheek and nose.  The ones inside the ear canal hurt for too long. 

A few weeks later, still of the mind that no stinkin' bees were going to get the best of me! I suited up and went out to do a more thorough check.  I got the two tops off the hive and without any warning I suddenly had three stings on my arm above my glove and several bees trying to get inside the (clean) veil.  This time the stings took two weeks for the swelling to go down.  That, my friends, is an escalating reaction.  And that is "not-worth-the-risk". 

I hated to do it.  We put a lot of time, energy and money into this project.  I had hoped that having our own honey would 1. help Mr. Marvelous with his allergies and 2. eventually turn into something of a cash crop.  I did not want to give up but I did not want to risk developing an anaphylactic reaction.  I was talking one day to a good friend and she reminded me of the risk of anaphylaxis.  She's been through it herself.  She urged me to let go of the project.  Still, it was hard to make up my mind to quit at something.  A few days later I was talking to another friend and she gave me the gift of these words: "Some projects just aren't for us.  You don't have to be able to do everything.  Sometimes it's OK to accept a project as a learning experience and let go of it."

I called our neighbor who had gotten us started to see if he wanted the bees to add to his yard.  He didn't.  I discovered that another local bee-keeper had lost most of his bees over the winter.  I called him and talked to him and he came over with his padawan late one evening and they removed the hives. 

So the bees have a new home.  Our local bee-keeping society has some gently used equipment.  Mr. Marvelous has some of his garden back, and I have a bit of honey in the pantry.

I also learned some valuable lessons along the way; specifically, I'm not a bee-keeper!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Remember the new rooster?


He is settling in well.  He's a handsome guy, and he doesn't crow constantly (what more could you ask for in a rooster?!). 

When we got him, the folks we bought him from had three little pullets (future layers) that we decided to get as well.  When we got them home, we found this sweet pose in the carrier:

I have seen Mama hens do this with baby chicks, but I had never before seen a rooster do this with a little pullet.

He still takes good care of the three little ones who came with him, and he has started being a little more assertive in looking out for the rest of the flock ~ especially the other Buff Orpingtons (the leghorns are still a bit stand-offish) (bless their hearts).

We just have one problem.  We can't think of a name.  HELP!  We have decided to have a Name-The-Rooster-Contest.  We need you to either leave a comment on here or ~ if you are more of a Facebook kind of person ~ on Facebook.  Mr. Marvelous and I will choose the one that seems to fit him best.  The winner will receive a nice prize. Winners will be announced Monday, August 4th.  The choosing will be completely arbitrary. 

Get ready, get set.....send me your entries!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Memories

Many years ago my family moved to Miami, Florida.  It was a challenging period.  During our time there, one brother graduated high school and moved away to college, one sister decided to skip her senior year and do early enrollment in college (not as common at that time as it is now), and one sister finished college and came back home to live while she worked and waited to be able to move overseas to the mission field.  Whew.  Talk about a life-changing three years!

When we left there and moved back to upstate South Carolina, my Dad moved from pastoring a church to finding, building and establishing a camp and conference center.  That meant that we did not have a manse to live in.

We had some dear friends, however, who had a mountain lake colony cottage.  They found out about our situation and very graciously allowed us to live there for a season.  That was one of my best springs ever.  It was a little cottage in the woods with a creek in the back.  It was a rather cool spring, so the weather was just what you would imagine a mountain spring ought to be.  The dogwoods, daffodils and mountain laurel bloomed right on time.  The cottage came with lake-privileges, so we could go fishing, swimming and canoeing whenever we wanted the work got done.

The most fascinating thing to me about this house though, was the porches.  The man who lived here had a son.  Every summer he and his son would design and build another porch.  There were porches connected by walkways (some of which went over the creek), porches that wrapped around full-grown trees, screened porches, porches that had steps going up and porches that had steps going down.  In my memory I am sure that I have elaborated on these porches beyond what they really were, but it was lots of fun to live there for a while. 

Dad on one of the smaller walkways.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Whether you spend it gathering materials and making something amazing...

(Like pollen to turn into honey)                

...Or if you decide to take a risk and open up to someone....

...Or if you just decide to go ahead and bloom for the glory of God...

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
God's peace to your homes!               

Thursday, July 24, 2014

About Potatoes

It might have made me sad to look at our potato patch. 


dying, dried up stems.

It might have.  Except that I am married to Mr. Marvelous.  So I know that potato plants have to be wilted, dying and have dried up stems before you can harvest them.

Doesn't he grow pretty potatoes?!

One Saturday we got up early and got busy. 

He operates the complicated machinery....

...and I work the buckets

...while the overseer made sure we did not miss any.

One red bucket of russet potatoes for baking and scalloping, one red bucket of red potatoes for boiling and mashing, and one bucket of Yukon Gold potatoes for potato salad.

I hope that will get us through til winter when we harvest our late crop!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The View From The Rabbit Hutch

And we have babies!

I love the wide open beaks!

 In case you are wondering, they are wrens.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The View From My Kitchen Window ~ July 21, 2014

There is a bit of buzz going around about what the fall and winter are going to be like this year. 

It has been a cool, wet summer and in spite of temperatures climbing all the way up into the 90's this week (in July) (in Alabama), people are starting to wonder if the fall temperatures are going to be as unusually cool.

I did check with my weather guru, and he is refusing to weigh in on this discussion quite yet.  Accordingly, I went to my kitchen window.

I looked at the dogwood.  It did not want its picture taken, but there are some hints of red around the edges.  That is about a month early.

Then I spotted a touch of color around the Beech trees.

Not much, but there are some gold hints already.  Again, this is at least a month early.

Maybe this means that the view from my kitchen window will be a little more exciting this year!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Memories

One weekend during my first year of teaching, my phone rang at 1 a.m. on a Saturday morning.  I fumbled my way to the receiver and tried to gather my wits enough to answer it.  One of my students was on the line.  For a brief moment I wondered if this was the call that anyone working with children dreads; had an emergency happened with parents or little brothers or sisters??

Finally my brain kicked in and I realized that she was calling from a spend-the-night party.  However this was no crank call.  This was an urgently distressed twelve-year-old young woman who was gravely concerned for one of her friends.  In their late night discussion, the girls had discovered that one of the friends did not know about Jesus.  They were afraid that waking up a parent would get them in huge trouble, so they decided to call their teacher.  Yes; I was honored!

Amy insisted that I talk to Gislana immediately.  After all, what if something happened and she died in the night?  She put Gislana on the phone so that I could tell her all about Jesus.  Fatigue (on both our parts) and a slight language barrier made it impossible for me to make sure that she understood what I was saying.  I covered the bare-bones basics and asked her to give the phone back to Amy.  At that point I promised Amy that I would come over as early as she wanted me to and that we would both talk with Gislana together.

The next morning I was at Amy's house a few minutes before 6 a.m.  I made my way through a living room piled high with half-sleeping tween girls, found a chair, turned on a lamp and began.  I talked to Gislana about Who God is, who man is, and what Jesus accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection.  She asked a few questions and when we were done said that she wanted Jesus.  We prayed together and I talked a few minutes longer about how to stay in close contact (or "abide") with Jesus.  I spent a few minutes with Amy's Mom and a cup of coffee in the kitchen and went home.

In the remaining time I lived in that area, Gislana's parents never did become Christians.  However they did allow her to go to church.  I got to teach the same group of girls the next year.  Periodically they would come in and tell me about their conversations with Gislana.  She would always greet them by saying, "Are you reading your Bible?  Are you praying?  Remember, Miss Reed said that is how you must stay close to Jesus!"

That group of girls would be coming up on 40 by now.  Most of them are probably married with children.  I find myself at times wondering where they are and how they are doing.  I still thank God for allowing me the privilege to be present at that birth, and I still pray that Gislana is abiding with Jesus.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Happy Friday

My heart is singing this song today.  Sing it with me!

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
Revelation 5:12-13   

I will be practicing this song on earth, getting ready to sing it in heaven for Jesus.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

In The Garden

Some of our vegetables are getting a little scarey. 

I think they are trying to take over.

The squash are at least semi-polite about it. 

This one gave us fair warning when it ate the solar light.

It never went further than the other side of the sidewalk.

(Which makes me have to ask, "Why did the squash cross the sidewalk??")

It gives a LOT of squash to compensate.  I already have 24 bags in the freezer and we have been feasting on it a couple of times a week.

But the cucumbers have not the same politeness. 

It just comes right on into the basement

and makes itself at home
Without even bothering to knock!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Brief Update

I'm still battling dust bunnies.  The garden needs to be picked (again) and the tomatoes (and squash and cucumbers and peas and beans) are yelling that they need to be canned.  So it is a wee bit busy around here right now.  Here is a quick update and a promise to fill in the blanks later.

The bees are gone and I am relieved.  A neighbor of ours is a bee-keeper who lost a number of hives this past year.  He was happy to come over and take my hives over to his bee yard.

Bye-bye, Bees!

We have a new rooster.  Did I already tell you that?

The wren is still sitting on her nest on the bunny's side porch.  I'm expecting to hear babies any day.

The garden is producing.  Some of the plants are trying to stage a coup d'etat.

Mr. Marvelous is (of course) Marvelous.

He can't help it.                               

Okay.  Back to work.  If you don't hear from me tomorrow, call for the St. Bernards to come and rescue me please.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The View From My Kitchen Window: Last fall

I'm in the middle of cleaning house and canning.  I thought I would share a previously unpublished window view from the fall that adds a little color.

Now back to work.  The tomatoes and pickles (and dust bunnies!) are calling.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Memories: (Almost) Twenty-Seven

It doesn't feel as though it has been twenty-seven years.

Most days I don't feel as though I have changed.  Most days!

Sometimes I sit and remember.

I remember the trips to Gatlinburg and the trips to the beach.

I remember the years when we could barely pay the insurance bills.

I remember the evening he held our new baby in his arms and told me that life was so much better with our son.

I remember the loss of his father, and a few years later of his mother.

I remember the time I had surgery; he took the week off and never left my hospital room.

I remember when I was so sick and he had to take care of going to work every day and then coming home to take care of me and the housework.

I remember all the Sundays of worship together.  The first Sunday we were married we went to a little church in Warner Robins together and it "just happened" to be communion Sunday.  I'll never forget that first time we celebrated communion together as a married couple.

I remember the times we have "put up" with each other's short-comings.  For the record, his list of shortcomings is much shorter than mine!

He is a handsome man.  He is a strong man in body and in faith because he relies on the strength of God.

He is my better half.

Happy (almost) anniversary, Mr. Marvelous. joy and in sorrow, in plenty and in want, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part

I love you!        

Friday, July 11, 2014

Things Are A Little Different

I am not quite sure what to do with myself on Thursdays now.

In December our family was slapped in the face with the news that my oldest brother's wife (who has been part of the family since they were juniors in high school) had pancreatic cancer.  Unfortunately this particular kind of cancer and its rather grim prognosis is no stranger to our family.  The Aunt who shared my name died of it several years ago.  We have had a number of friends receive this diagnosis and most of them have died.  It is a scary diagnosis.  I gave myself one day to cry ~ and trust me, I spent most of that day crying! ~ then it was time to figure out what I needed to do.

For six months my sister-in-law and I made the three-weeks-on-one-week-off trips every Thursday to the clinic at University of Alabama in Birmingham for chemotherapy.  We would check in at the lab, wait for blood work, wait for the results, and then she would go back for a 90 minute infusion.  We clearly saw God's hand over every single moment of that time.  The physical side effects were more caused by the steroid injection that had to be given before starting the chemo than anything.  There were a few blips in the lab work, but never so much that the chemo had to be postponed.  Had you run into the two of us there, you would have assumed that we were there to visit a friend; neither of us looked like someone going through chemotherapy for cancer.

We met some amazing nurses (Cathy is one of our new heroes!).  We had visits with some people who were waiting on their family member to go through their chemo.  We prayed over a lot of people.  We were prayed over by a lot of people.  We cheered a lot of folks on when it was their turn to ring the bell.

The UAB Kirklin Clinic has a tradition.  On the wall by the exit door hangs a bell.  There is a poem (that I forgot to copy) that talks about leaving and moving on toward health.  The tradition is that when a patient completes chemotherapy, they ring the bell three times to share with everyone that they are DONE.  When there are people in the waiting area, they get a round of applause.  It is a hopeful time for those who are waiting; perhaps they too will get to ring the bell soon.

On Thursday, June 26th we got the news that the PET scan was completely clean.  There is no cancer anywhere.  On Wednesday, July  2 when Nancy woke up, she walked outside to find her car looking like this


Her good friend had snuck over early that morning with her daughter and not only decorated the car, but cut out, pinned and hung purple ribbons over the entire picket fence. 

Now that is a labor of love!

That afternoon we went in for the eighteenth ~ and final! ~ dose of chemotherapy.  My brother was able to leave work and come up to the hospital to celebrate.  Nancy came out with the nurses behind her, walked over ('scuse me, I'm getting a little teary here) and it was her turn to ring the bell.

So many people have walked this last seven months with us.  You have prayed over Nancy, her husband and her daughters.  You have prayed for her doctors and nurses.  You have prayed for peace for the family.  You have prayed for opportunities to share Jesus with the people we met.  Many of you who have prayed are not likely to ever meet Nancy, her husband or her children here on earth.  Trust me; you will be getting huge hugs and thank you's when we meet in heaven!

For several months I have carried a picture in my heart of Nancy's last day.  I wanted to line the hall and the exit with the people who have prayed for her.  I wanted her to walk out and see all the people who love her so much cheering her on.  Obviously I was not able to engineer that.  But as we walked out on that last day, I realized that God had engineered something much better for her:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.   Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.    Hebrews 12:1-3

Oh yeah.  They were there all right!  And they were singing the song of my heart

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! 

I think that now I will spend my Thursdays saying "Thank You!!!"

Thursday, July 10, 2014

For Barbara Today

My friend Barbara lost her beloved kitty last night.  Cocoa had been a part of her life for a number of years.  A few years ago I shared this story with Barbara, but I think it bears repeating today.  Who knows, perhaps it will help someone else today.

I have a very, very wise mother.

When I was growing up, our family had a huge, black, Persian cat.  The cat was unusually long-suffering of the five little rascals in the house and made a good family pet.  The cat had one bad habit.  It liked to lay in the middle of the street, and eventually....well.....

The next morning our Mother told us the sad news that our cat had died.  I ran to my room, buried my face in my pillow and sobbed.  Finally Mom came upstairs, picked me up and held me in the her lap in the rocking chair.  When I was able to talk, she asked me why I was crying so hard.  I told her that I was sad because the cat had died and the cat couldn't go to heaven so I would never see it again.  Mom was quiet for a few minutes and then she spoke words that have stayed with me the rest of my life.

"Sweetheart, Heaven is a wonderful place and a place of perfect happiness.  If you need our cat to be there in order to be perfectly happy, then it will be.  If the cat is not there, you will be so happy with heaven that you won't even miss the cat.  The thing to remember is that you can trust our Heavenly Father to provide everything you need to be perfectly happy there"

Don't I have an amazing and wise mother?!

Yes, that's the same rocking chair               

It's That Time of Year

Life is getting a little crazy on the homestead right now.  At least it is for She-Who-Harvests-Cans-Freezes-And-Pickles.

Here is the run down from the past week:

We defrosted the meat freezer last week and I found a couple of turkey carcasses waiting to be turned into broth.  So I got busy, made broth and canned 23 pints.

The Zephyr Squash (remember them?) are in kill-me mode.  So far I have put 24 4-cup bags in the freezer.  That's in addition to what we are eating.

The sixty tomato plants are ripening.  I spent most of one day this week getting 6 quarts canned.  Sigh.  Tomatoes are a lot of work.  I will be grateful when I don't have to spend money on them at the grocery store, but it gets a little overwhelming sometimes to do all that work and only have 6 quarts!

The cucumbers are in full swing.  So far I am on day eight of a batch of fourteen-day pickles and have put up 7 quarts of quick sweet pickles.  This makes my sister-in-law very happy.

I'll post more about this later, but we have also harvested a good supply of potatoes, including Russets, Yukon Golds, and Reds.  Should be enough to last until we harvest our second planting in the winter.

The beans are not being as productive this year...

...and the peas are only just now getting ready.  Eggplant, okra and melons are coming along.  The herbs are (mostly) doing very well.  Now if I can just find a minute to get out there and harvest them for drying...

Best of all, the artichokes are still alive and thriving!

I'd write more, but the pickles are hollering for me....

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The View From My.....Rabbit Hutch??

Our Mama rabbit George tried to tell me that there was something going on.  

She kept trying to let me know about some new neighbors.

 I'm a slow study, but I finally figured it out.

Fortunately I did not remove it; turns out that the Mama wren is still sitting when we leave her alone. 

I'll let you know if they hatch!