Sunday, August 31, 2014

Positive interactions

I witnessed a very unsettling scene today.  I saw some adults who were supposed to be caring for children, yet the only interactions were negative.  If I heard the word "stop" once, I must have heard it twenty times.  Eventually, it morphed into a clenched-teeth "schtop."
There wasn't a whole lot I could do, and I knew what I could do in a brief window of time would not over ride the day to day experience for these kids.  I just wished I could tell the adults to make sure that most of their interactions were positive.
A child needs a smile, a child needs a hug, a child needs encouragement, a child needs guidance. 
When you see a child who has been loved and nurtured, it shows.  If you see a child that hasn't, please don't blame the child.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


It is good to visit with family and support each other in time of grief.  Last Saturday, I was able to visit just a little with Mom and Dad.  (Mom fed us, of course!)  I'm posting a few pics of things I saw at Mom's Saturday.  Mom loves flowers, too, so she has been pleased with the crepe myrtle and the zinnias.  The little green lizard (Carolina anole) is considered welcome because he eats the bugs.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I will be taking some time off from blogging as our family grieves the loss of two loved ones (one expected, one very unexpected).

Hug your loved ones while they are with you. 

Consider your relationship with Christ while it is "today."

Uphold each other in prayer.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

More on goober peas

I had more I wanted to say about boiled peanuts and peanuts in general.  When I was growing up, we ate lots of raw peanuts and lots of "parched peanuts" which were basically peanuts roasted unsalted in their shell.  Usually at Christmas, Mama would shell some of the parched peanuts to make peanut brittle.  We sometimes grew peanuts, and sometimes we would buy a large netted bag of raw peanuts.  We never had boiled peanuts, though.  Probably my first encounter with them as an adult was from a can.  I wasn't impressed.  But when someone gave us fresh ones that he had cooked himself, I thought they were great.
A couple of years ago, we stopped on our way to the beach and picked up some.  I bought some already boiled, and some to take home and cook myself.  We took the boiled ones out onto the beach, and it didn't take the birds long to find them.  They were black-colored birds (perching birds of some sort).  They were very clever and persistent, and I had to hide the peanuts in my beach bag AND zip up the beach bag.  I don't blame the birds; the peanuts were delicious.
The ones I took home I cooked using these guidelines so my husband, who didn't get to go to the beach with us, could have some.  Last year my friend Brooks Pearce gave me some of the peanuts he had boiled.  He says he uses 2 ounces of kosher salt per pound of peanuts.  After cooking "till done," he leaves the peanuts in the salty water for a few hours to soak up the salt.  I'm sure that's one of several different ways to do it.  I don't know precisely how long he cooked his.
I should try growing some of my own again.  I've grown them once or twice when Caleb was young.  We harvested a small pan of them which we washed in a bucket.  After we washed the goober peas, my own little goober had to get in the bucket.  There's something about kids and water...

I can hardly say "goober pea" without thinking of my older brother singing, "Oh how delicious, eating goober peas!"
Do you like goober peas?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

In praise of zinnias

When we remember someone who has passed on, there are certain things that will bring fond associations.  My maternal grandmother passed from this life this week.  Her trials are done.  As she said in a poem she wrote, she is "shining over on the other side."  One of the things that makes me think of Granny is zinnias.  She always had a row of zinnias along the edge of the garden or the field.  
This year I gave Mom a mug for Mother's Day.  To keep from giving it empty, I put in a few pieces of candy and a packet of zinnias.  I think Mom was more tickled with the packet of seeds than anything else.  Mom gladly reported how quickly her seeds emerged and then when they bloomed, what colors there were.  At first she had five shades of pinks, corals, and salmon.  Then she got a couple of very lovely, clear bright orange ones.  She reported that just in the last week or so, she has gotten a white one. 
After buying the packet for Mom, I decided I should spring for a packet for myself.  I planted only some of the seeds.  Seven plants survived and I transplanted four of them to a separate location.  They have all bloomed, and I'm "in the pink."  All seven of mine managed to be one shade or another of pink.

As you can see from this picture, one of the zinnias is 4 1/2' tall.  (Not as tall as Caleb, though!)

Of course there was a time, when the zinnias were taller than he was.  (Doesn't seem so long ago.)
And of course, there was the in-between stage.
Plant a row of zinnias and spread some cheer.




Friday, August 15, 2014

Can you multitask?

If women are good multitaskers, I'm an outlier; I just don't have what it takes.  I marvel at people who can do several things at once.  My mother always laughed about the cartoon that had a woman answering the phone with one hand, cooking with the other hand, and pushing a cradle with one foot.  The man in the cartoon is sitting with pencil and paper musing, "Now what could she do with the other foot?"
The headline I just read takes the cake, though:  "Busy mom has baby while registering son at school"!!

Do you multitask?


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Counting blooms

I've noticed that Mom often counts blooms.  She might count the blooms on a new rose bush she has been given or she might count gardenia blooms as she plucks off the yellowed ones on an early summer evening.  She will know how many golden irises have bloomed in spring and how many different colors of zinnias she has in summer.  I think it comes from a lifetime of productivity--how many pounds of cotton picked in one day, how many rows of cane chopped, how many jars of tomatoes canned, how many bushels of potatoes dug, how many quilts made in a year, how many bra straps threaded at the textile mill, how many diapers changed in a day, how many kids bobbing in the ocean waves, always counting.
I do tend to count the number of birds in a flock if I can or the number of cars in a train.  I don't often count flowers, but sometimes...
Yesterday, there were no blooms at all on my 'Final Touch' day lilies.  Today there were several, probably the most I've had at once, so I counted them.  Seven!  Of course, I didn't stop with counting the number of blooms.  I noticed that two of the blooms had an extra petal.  I even counted the stamens.  The blooms with extra petals had two extra stamen each, eight each.  Aren't they pretty?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Finding arrowheads

When I was a kid, my siblings and I enjoyed finding projectile points left by the Native Americans.  We generally referred to them as arrowheads or Indian arrowheads, though some might have been made for tipping much larger projectiles than arrows.  Sometimes they could be found in a cultivated field, sometimes even in the crawl space of the house, but most it seemed we found where the grass didn't grow under the oaks, and successive rains would erode a layer of soil and expose them.
I liked to pride myself on finding treasure, but I think my siblings were actually better at spotting them.  I did find one that I especially like.  I was waiting for the school bus (and that right there was highly unusual--I usually was flying out the door in disorganized chaos as the driver tooted his horn) and looked down.  There on the ground was a wonderful projectile point with only a little chip on one side.  I like to look at it and wonder about the individual who made it and what his life was like.  We consider that a primitive culture, and yet it took a practiced skill to make the point and use it successfully.
The one on the right is the one I found at the school bus stop.
Do you have a collection of projectile points?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Thanks, Arthur W. Kelley (wherever you are)

Several years ago, my friend Lea, Caleb, and I hiked a little of the trail around Falls Lake.  I think circumstances are going to allow Lea and me to hike a little more of the trail.  (If Caleb can't go with us I will miss him keenly.  He has been my best nature-walk buddy since he was about four years old.)  I pulled out my map to plan my hike.  I do love maps, and I have a wonderful map that was mailed to me by one Arthur W. Kelley.  The map was free; all I had to do was send a SASE.  I could upgrade to waterproof paper for a dollar, which I did.  I thought I would go back to his webpage and see what other maps or what updates he had made.  I was sad to see a notice that he had moved out of state and was no longer making maps of Falls Lake Trail or the Eno River Trails.  (I did find an Art Kelley on the web out in California on a webpage that was "as simple as possible but no simpler."  That did make me smile.)  I want to say thanks to Arthur W. Kelley and all the people who, like him, give to their community out of the goodness of their heart with no expectation of anything in return other than the satisfaction of knowing they are improving the quality of life for their fellow man.
Happy trails to you!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Ground

Caleb spends a lot of time playing music.  He has recently joined Victoria Lee and New Ground.  I think this band will keep him pretty busy.  He plays with other bands, too.  I'm not sure what a person does when the schedules of the different bands conflict.  (So far, he hasn't signed any contracts.)
Tomorrow night he will be at Common Grounds with Hi Grass, filling in for the mandolin player.
I guess we have to credit Roger with teaching Caleb to play.  Roger's been playing for ages.  Here he is on his bunk in Vietnam, picking and grinning.
Long live good mandolin picking!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

More from my window

I love the fact that our desk is positioned so that I can look out the window.  Here are a couple of more pictures I've taken from my chair at the computer. 
The rascally rabbits are proliferating.  Watch out, fall crops!
Somehow this picture of the cardinal reminds me of a kid on the edge of the pool, deliberating about taking a plunge.
If you can't be outside, may you always have a seat near the window.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer tanager

Just shot this picture through the window.  I didn't have time to set up the little tripod.  This is the yellow bird, the female (or possibly immature male?) summer tanager.

Blueberry muffins (and squash)

I recently made a third batch of blueberry muffins, and I modified the recipe just a little.  I had been using a recipe I found called Grandmother Hinckley's Blueberry Muffins, and I like it fine.  However, there were some very ripe bananas languishing in the kitchen, and I decided to use one in the mix.
I added one banana (mashed it in the mix after I had added the egg), added some chopped walnuts and a dash of cinnamon with the flour.  Because of the added sweetness and moisture of the banana, I reduced the sugar to a scant half cup (if I remember correctly) and reduced the milk to 1/4 cup.  They turned out well.

We're nearing the end of the blueberry harvest but the squash is bearing in earnest.  I picked these this morning.
Hope you're enjoying the summer produce.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Turning the calendar page

Time to turn the calendar page! 
Just like the seasons of nature, seasons of life change, and sometimes I can't help feeling a little melancholy as I watch friends and loved ones age.
I find it a bit easier to embrace the changes of the seasons of nature, and I sense many changes as summer advances and promises to bring fall.  The fall weeds are starting to sprout.  Summer grasses are trying their best to seed.  The days are incrementally shortening.  I mowed the grass again today.  There is lespedeza in the lawn that likes to strut its stuff this time of year.  The common bermuda grass wants to go to seed, and there is a tender grass that grows over the septic drain field that is just hard to stay on top of this time of year.  (No herbicidal soup on the lawn for me; I just mow whatever grows.)  Lots of things are blooming too.  The crepe myrtles are in bloom, and the bark is being exfoliated.  Using the table top tripod my friend Lea gave me,
I set up my camera in the window, hoping to catch the little gray gnatcatcher or the summer tanagers that were flitting through the crepe myrtle.  No luck, but I shot a close up of the tree to see how the tripod could help me hold the close up pictures steady.  You can see the lovely cinnamon colored trunks as the bark peels off in sheets.
The crepe myrtle in the front yard is in bloom, looking classy and elegant with its white and green canopy.

To the left of the white crepe myrtle is a pink seedling crepe myrtle.  I love the clear pink color.  I kept thinking I would transplant it to my permanent property, but since it seems I'm stuck here, I'm not sure what to do with it.  There is really not room for it in the border it's currently growing in.
In the back yard is another pink crepe myrtle.  It was one I dug up at the last place Roger's parents lived.  It usually gets a bad case of cercospora leaf spot, but so far this year, it hasn't done so badly.
Other things in bloom in my yard on the first day of August are my rose of Sharon,

some zinnias,

phlox 'David,'
Texas mallow,
some lingering blooms on the butterfly weed (along with the interesting seed pods from earlier blooms),
sedum 'Autumn Joy,'
 daylily 'Final Touch,'
 a pot of begonias that I rooted from cuttings,
 and the ultimate sign of the advancing season, goldenrod.
As you turn the pages of life's calendar, make sure to stop and smell the flowers.