Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Homestead Update

About those potatoes....

Do you remember the potato harvest from last fall?  We had several buckets full of three different varieties.  We put each variety in its own plastic bin and covered them with layers of sawdust.

it helps to have a friend who is a carpenter; we get as much of this as we want.

Then we put them in a cool, dark corner in the basement.

One day over the winter I went to the basement to get something off the shelf and looked down to discover this:

I did not expect them to start sprouting this much.  I told Mr. Marvelous.  He nodded and grunted.

A few days later, I told Mr. Marvelous again.  He patiently explained that our potatoes are not treated with the chemicals that store potatoes are treated with to keep them from sprouting.  I asked if we could use these for seed potatoes.  He said probably not.  

Finally Mr. Marvelous went down to the basement and looked into my potato bins.  Apparently a visual inspection is worth a lot more than a report from the wife!

The decision was made to see what we could do with growing potatoes in bins.

First you carefully remove the sprouting potatoes


Then you cut a piece of fine mesh from where you made screens for the back porch.

Add a piece of that to the bottom of the bin.

Then place a layer or two of dirt and sawdust to the bottom of the bin,


then ever so gently and carefully add the potatoes back in.

Cover them up with alternating layers of dirt and sawdust

You get the idea, right? 

Do you need more pictures of alternating layers? 

Are you sure?

Okay then.

Now put those bins back in a quiet corner until the weather is warmer.

Or if your husband is as handy as Mr. Marvelous, and you have a back porch greenhouse, then put them on the back porch.  Just be sure to give them a good bit of water.

When the weather warms up enough, drag the bins outside and put them in the sunshine.  If it starts acting like it is going to freeze again, drag them back in the basement and wait a few more days. 

If you live in Vermont and it is still snowing, you might have to drag them in and out every day for another month.  Or two.  Depending on how much you like home-grown potatoes.

Now wait.  That's the hard part of gardening.  It helps to have other projects going on at the same time.  In a few weeks, you will walk outside one day and discover this

Green leaves.  Strong, healthy potato plants.  Something growing.

That is a nice cure for the winter doldrums!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Memories

Mother and I had a bunch of adventures all rolled into one trip this past week.  There were the unexpected side trips and delays, and the trip back home was not what we anticipated. It is a relief to know that when we do not seem to have any control over circumstances we can trust that God is in full control.  The unexpected trials are His gift to us.

As we traveled we had some wonderful conversations.  One morning Mother started talking about Palm Sundays when she was a little girl and it got me remembering.

Palm Sunday was special.   When we went to Sunday School that day there were Palm Branches waiting for us.  After our lesson, instead of the usual play time, we lined up and went down to the choir room.  The mothers were waiting there with our little surplices (you had to be an intermediate to get a real robe) and the palm branches.  There was the usual hilarity and rowdiness that goes along with any children's choir pre-performance, but Mrs. Shirley kept us in better-than-average control (we all knew she was not above swatting us if we needed it).  Finally we were lined up and inspected and met with her approval.  That's when we stopped for a moment to catch our breath and listen.  Mrs. Shirley or one of the Sunday School teachers would take a moment to remind us of what we had just heard in Sunday School; the reason why we were getting ready to celebrate.  We caught a glimpse of the excitement of the little children of Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday so long ago.  We knew that Jesus is coming back for us one day and we firmly believed that it could be that very day.  Finally we were led up the stairs and lined up waiting (quiet, in theory) in the hall behind the Sanctuary.  And then the moment came.  We heard the music and we marched in boldly, waving our palm branches and proclaiming with the children of long ago;


Oh, were we excited!  We tried to imagine what it would have been like to have been one of those little children.  We carefully put our palm branches in the aisles as we marched to the front singing.  We lined the front and we sang our songs of praise at the tops of our voices.

Things are different in most churches these days.  It seems like a long time since I have been in a church where Palm Sunday was celebrated with the excitement of my childhood.  It seems to receive barely a nod of the head to its significance.  I think that is a loss.  I think the children of today lose out when they don't participate in the excitement and anticipation of Palm Sunday.  I think that the elation of Palm Sunday serves a purpose in the church of underlining and highlighting the mourning of Good Friday.  I think that a Tenebrae service is enhanced by that emotional contrast.  I think that the Spirit of God may  work through these contrasts to enhance our joy on Easter Sunday and all it means.

I hope that we can set aside some time over these next six days to think about these things and to be willing to experience the week and its significance.  For now, I leave you with this:

They brought it (the colt) to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it.  As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road.  As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: 
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!".  
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."  But Jesus answered, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!"                                                                                                                             Luke 19: 35-40

This is the picture I have always had in my mind when I think of Palm Sunday

Friday, March 27, 2015


Mother and I are feeling rather like Hobbits right now.  You know, An Unexpected Journey kind of a feeling.  After a week of cold, snowy weather, meeting people we did not know in places we did not expect, we are both ready to get back home to warm, Spring weather. 

And our husbands!

 We aren't there yet, but we hope to be very soon.
Thank you for your continued prayer.

God's peace to your homes.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday Prayers Please

Please keep Mother and I in your prayers as you think of it today.  We are in Vermont where we have been visiting my Aunt.  We were supposed to start our trip home this morning.  Yesterday, Mother got sick and in the evening I had to take her to the local Emergency Room.  They admitted her with an infection and she is likely to be there for a couple of days at least.  It is challenging being out of town where you know no-one (we are a couple of hours away from my Aunt's nursing home) and having Mama in a strange (but very good) hospital.  Please pray for her healing.  Pray for me to be what she needs me to be.  Pray for my Dad back in South Carolina, and the brothers and sisters in Alabama and Washington.  Not to mention Mr. Marvelous!

We have found glimpses of grace along the way in the kindness of the doctors and nurses, the hotel clerk who not only extended my stay but reduced my rate throughout my stay and retroactively, the rental car clerk who assured me of her prayers for mother, the friends who are not only donating frequent flier miles to get us home but are making all the flight arrangements so that Dad does not have to try and figure that out.  Patches of God-light indeed!

Thank you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday Prayers

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you are having a good week this week.  I'm getting excited at the thought of Easter being almost here.

Thank you so much for praying with us about our trip to see my dear Aunt Roberta.  Our time together has been precious.  We have been able to take care of some of the details of her care that needed to be handled and working through that process has been much smoother than I had hoped.  Again, thank you for your prayers.  I know that this is why things have gone so well!

Please continue to pray for Vicky's son, and for Nancy, who resumes chemo the 31st.

Last week Kim asked for prayers for Shelley's Dad, who is recovering from heart surgery, particularly for pain management.  Update: Kim says that he is doing very well and the pain is being managed.  Thanks for your prayers for him!

This week's needs:

  1. Tyson was born Tuesday night, shortly before typing this.  It was expected that there will be some significant heart defects.  Please pray for little Tyson, and for his parents.                           Update: Ty was safely born via C-Section.  Here is a link to his Mama's blog about how he is doing.  Please keep those prayers rolling! 
  2. As you pray for our military heroes this week, please pray particularly for the ones who are relocating.  Pray that the relocations will go smoothly, and that they will find new church families to love and support them.
  3. Pray for the families of your local police and fire officers who have died in the line of duty.  
  4. Pray for the secretaries and support staff in your local church.  It is remarkable all the people who work so hard behind the scenes ~ the quiet work of the church ~ to make everything as smooth as possible on Sundays.  Pray that their work will be an act of worship so that they may then direct our hearts toward true worship.
Remember to let us know how we may support you in prayer this week.  Thanks for your faithful help and support in these matters.  Do not let anyone detract you from this work by making you feel that it is unimportant or insignificant.  It matters!

God's peace to your homes.

Praying Hands

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jack South

Poor Jack!

Let me begin by assuring you that Jack is physically fine.  He is whole without cracks, dents, or dings.  Jack has not even had any near-hits or accidents.  Physically, he is fine.

However, Jack is mentally and emotionally not so fine.  

It was decided a number of days ago that my mother and I had to go to Vermont to see my dear Aunt.  We put the trip together remarkably quickly (I did not know I could make that many arrangements that fast!).  One week after making this decision, I got up and hit the road.  I drove to South Carolina, spent the night with my parents and the next day Mother and I caught the train and started our week-long adventure.

Jack knew what was going on.  It would not have been possible to hide the information.  I was making train reservations while booking rental car, hotel rooms, calling AAA, calling the Nursing Home, cleaning house, doing laundry, cooking meals for my men-folk to have while I was gone (the only thing I forgot was the Ovaltine).  I was packing, paying bills, mailing the things that had to go out before I came home again, doing what I could to help Mr. Marvelous with the gardens and the animals.....well.  The list seemed endless and you can imagine how lovely a nice, long, relaxing train ride was starting to sound.  As I said, there was no effort made to keep this trip a deep, dark secret. 

The cats were sulking.

The bunnies were confused (that's nothing new)

And Mama was BUSY.

Jack took it all in stride.  He knew he had nothing to worry about!  He is a star.  Mama would not dare to travel without him.

The day came for me to drive to South Carolina.  The bags were packed and loaded.  I was packed (but not loaded).  I took my purse and the last few items ~ including coffee! ~ and got in the car.

This is what I found.

Jack has become acclimated to the South.  Grab a Mountain Dew and a snack and strap in.  Especially when Mama is driving.

Away we went.  We got to my parents' house in time for supper.  I unloaded my car.  Jack patiently waited.  And waited.  And waited.

I DID NOT forget Jack.  I suppose in a way that makes it even worse.

If you have been following my blog for very long, you might remember this post.  I certainly remember the backpack that gained more weight than I did.  Therefore I made the difficult choice to leave Jack in South Carolina.  

The reason I chose not to leave him in the house is because my parents have a rather curious little Westie.  Toby is not bashful about "claiming" new friends.  Jack does not need a shower.  So Jack was left safely in the car with a can of Mountain Dew and a snack.

I imagine I will have to listen to some interesting comments when I return. 

My shoulder does not miss him.

My camera does.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Here we are in Vermont.

We left South Carolina on what we thought was a cool morning.  Yesterday the high in Glover, Vermont was 16.  That's not Celsius, my friends; it is COLD up here. 

There is snow on the ground and on the road, and the lake behind Gwen's home is frozen from one end to the other.  There are buckets hanging from the maple trees.  I'll be taking lots of pictures over the next few days, but here are a few just to get you started.

Friday, March 20, 2015


I really ought to post a video of someone singing, "On the Road Again..."

Mother and I are on the train, somewhere in North Carolina.  We will be in Baltimore this evening, and in Burlington, Vermont Saturday night, Lord willing.

We love traveling, and we love traveling by train.  You have to have a particular mindset; you can't be in a big hurry.  You have to be willing to sit back and just enjoy the ride.  We are willing and we do!

I'll be posting more through this next week as I find Wi-Fi hotspots, but in the meantime here is a Friday picture.

Happy (blurry) Spring!

God's peace to your homes.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Homestead Update


This is Mr. Marvelous' favorite time of year.  Despite battling a recurring sinusitis, he can not keep himself out of the garden.  He has been busy finishing the raised beds, starting seed in the basement, moving plants that were started in January out into the sunshine, moving the chickens around so that they can do some tilling and fertilizing for him, and generally enjoying warmer weather.  We have had a LOT of rain this winter, but I think that is God's grace to keep him indoors on days when the infection is at its worst!

Here are a few pics from around and about.

 I'm really proud of how well his raised beds are turning out

The planting station

These are the potatoes from last year that sprouted in the bins over the winter
So they became this years' seed potatoes.

The bunnies will be moving soon.
 Elephant garlic and onions....

And the faithful sage, coming back to life for another year.

The basement babies are thriving and will be moving outdoors after Easter.

I would show you more, but I have to hit the road!

Stay tuned for Vermont updates...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday Prayers

Good morning, Prayer Warriors!  Here are a few things for us to be remembering over this next week.

Vicky's adult son is in kidney failure and will need a transplant soon.  Vicky is hoping to be able to donate one of her kidneys to him.  Please pray for them through this process.  Vicky is one of the most godly women I know.  Her son is struggling with his faith.

Nancy will start chemotherapy on the 26th.  The cancer has spread to her lungs.  Please pray for her as she prepares for this.  She and her daughters will have a trip to the beach next week; pray that this will be a time of great joy for all of them.

Our pastors are preparing for a very busy Easter week.  Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday; it can be a very hectic time for them.  Add to that the fact that the daily challenges a pastor deals don't go away just because it is Holy Week.  These men and their families need our prayers during this time!  It is a joyful responsibility we have to guard them with our prayers.

Please pray for my mother and I as we travel to see her sister.  Aunt Roberta is not doing well and I have a feeling that this may be our last opportunity to see her. 

EASTER IS COMING!!!  HURRAY and PRAISE GOD!  Let's add to our prayers the rejoicing and thanksgiving that come as we think about the glory and the hope of the resurrection.  Pray that we will be so overwhelmed with this glory and hope, that others will be touched by it.

And how may we pray for you today?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Adventures of Jack South

Jack and I have both been a little busy the past week or so.  We are about to get a whole lot more busy.  Do you remember my Big Walk-About in October, 2013?  Mom and I are getting ready to do a re-run the end of this week and next week.  It will be quite an adventure; our trips always are!  It's a little hectic around here as I get ready to hit the road and hit the rails again.  The need for this trip just came up the end of last week, so we are throwing this together rather quickly.  Mom and I love a good adventure and I'm sure we will be surprised by many fun moments along the way.  I am praying that God gives us clear vision to see the people He brings to us that He wants us to help in one way or another.  I'm praying that we will be open to doing whatever we may for whomever He brings.  I'm looking forward to some time with my beloved Aunt Roberta.  She has been so lonely for her family and we are delighted to get to go spend some time with her.  I will have plenty of pictures and plenty of stories to share, I am sure!  In the meantime, here is what Jack has been up to lately.

There is no significance to the order of these two adventures.

A couple of weeks ago we (Mr. Marvelous and I) went to Lowe's in Trussville, Alabama.  Jack went with us.  When we got there, we discovered something wonderful:

The Girl Scouts of Troop 464 in Trussville, Alabama were there!  AND they had COOKIES!!
Three cheers for Girl Scout cookies!  Now how in the world could you walk by and not purchase cookies from these lovely ladies?!  Sadly, I did not write down their names.  However, these young ladies are some of the most outgoing and fun Girl Scouts I have met.  And they liked Jack.  He was charmed by them, as well.

On another occasion that might have been before this or might have been after this (I'm not telling), Jack found himself here.

He had to wait a few minutes.
He looked around and realized that when folks in this room had to wait, they did this:

He thought the cake looked almost as good as the Girl Scout cookies.
Ah, Jack; you are about to learn a valuable lesson.
Eating too many sweets can lead to this:


Yes indeed, that is the exam chair of our wonderful dentist, Dr. Stone.

Poor Jack!

Fortunately, Dr. Stone takes uninsured patients
(Jack is too old ~ at approximately 243 years ~ to be eligible for our health care plans) 
(Or be a tax-deduction.  Sigh.)

 Jack did have a good report.

Although our favorite hygienist did scold him a bit about how much sugar he has been eating.
She instructed him to brush and floss and let him go with a good teasing.
Jack took it in good nature.

Jack is now busy deciding what he needs to take to Vermont.
I'm not sure he is going.
I'm afraid he will make my pack a little too heavy
(Remember that backpack?  So does my back!)

We'll see who wins this argument.

Stay tuned!

Friday, March 06, 2015


This is Gracie.

She may look like a cat, but she behaves more like a puppy.

Well, most of the time, anyway.  She's a little quirky.

Gracie is Mr. Marvelous' cat/kitten/puppy.

She's crazy about him.  If he is home, she is affronted when he puts things in his lap other than herself.  If he works from home, sometimes he has to move to the back of the house, because she wants so much to "help" him on the computer.  Literally, "on" the computer. 

When he is in his recliner, she is either on his lap or perched behind his head.

Gracies loves her master.  She likes to be involved in his projects.

I am a poor substitute when he is not at home.
Although when I talk to him on the phone, she appreciates it (she is usually crawling around my neck and trying to get into the phone to find him!)

When the master is gone, Gracie tries to find other things to do.
But mostly, she waits.

She tries to find pleasant places and enjoy the moment.
But always, she is waiting.

And waiting.

Because she knows that eventually he will come home again.

And then all will be well with her world.

Gracie is a reminder and a role model for me in my relationship with my Master.

May we all have the same longing, expectation, and faithfulness as we wait for Him.

His peace to your homes.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Homestead Update

Alabama has had an interesting couple of weeks weather-wise.  Last week parts of the state had an unprecedented 13 inches of snow.  Today, many of them are getting ice.  Around here?  Rain, rain, and more rain.  Mr. Marvelous has been working on getting ready to garden out back.  Therefore, we now have a bumper crop of MUD.

I am grateful for the mud.  It means we are not in a drought period.
For gardeners, that is a good thing.  

However, there are some members of our menagerie who are quite tired of all the mud.

Believe it or not, this is their "clean" time of day; they shed the dirt while they are up on the roost during the night.  By the end of the day, they look much worse than this.
They also look disgusted with life in general and the weather in particular by the end of the day.

Poor things, the nesting box does not give them much relief from all of this.

It really doesn't

Some folks gather their eggs in the snow.
Not us!