Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"Friendlier with two"

I think it was Winnie the Pooh who said, "It's so much friendlier with two."  I knew what that meant when I cut and put up the Christmas tree by myself.  I did miss having my son help out.
I cut a small cedar tree in the yard, put it in a bucket of sand, and put it atop a small table in the living room.  I got the lights on the day I put the tree up, and I finished decorating the next day.  Darling son did put a little star ornament at the top for me.  (He didn't have to stand on anything to reach it.)

My sister gave me a swag, which I hung on the front porch.

I'm almost ready for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Unusual weather

Once upon a time when I was a young woman, I rented a room from an elderly lady.  She was familiar with the scripture in which God promised Noah after the flood that "[w]hile the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."  (Genesis 8:22.)  However, my landlady went beyond what was actually said and assumed that "the end" might be preceded by a little mixing up of the cold and heat and the summer and winter.  Whenever the weather varied from the norm, she would always say something to the effect of "It's unusual weather we've been having."  Left unsaid, but hanging heavy in the air, was the thought of what such unusual weather might portend.
I haven't extrapolated the same thing she did from that verse, but I will say, "It's unusual weather we've been having."

In fact, it's been warm enough that I've had the houseplants back on the porch...

 ...the mum is enjoying a second flush of blooms...
 ...and I have a crinkly blanket flower that managed to open up.
I also have another shiitake mushroom coming along.  I noticed it yesterday when I hung the clothes on the line.

We have a cold front coming in tonight or tomorrow, but I think things will be warming up next week again.  I'm actually enjoying the warmer than normal temperatures.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Louisburg College's DeHart Botanical Gardens

On my list of things to do this year, I put "visit the DeHart Botanical Gardens 15 times."  The year is coming to a close, I have a few more visits to get in, and today was perfect to be outside.  As I parked, I saw Mr. DeHart himself in the gazebo where visitors must register.  He and another gentleman (I assumed a representative from the college) were in a discussion of the trails.  I have noticed new posts going up along the trail, so I anticipate new signage along the trail.  Mr. DeHart noted I had brought my walking stick with me, and I told him that was in case I encountered any dogs...  "...or men," I added with a smile. 
I got in a good walk (and only encountered another lady).  In the woods, I breathed deeply, inhaling the scent of the fallen oak leaves.  I knew what Emily Dickinson meant by the phrase "inebriate of air."  I had my camera with me today, so I snapped pics of turtles, hollies, oaks, granite boulders, and mushrooms.  What a lovely place!




Monday, December 14, 2015

No pics of parade or park

I had a couple of nice outings this past weekend with nary a pic to show for it.  Friday I had a nice lunch with my friend Lea at Olive Garden.  We enjoyed a comforting chicken gnocchi soup with salad and breadsticks.  I always know I'm in a judgment-free zone with my friend Lea, so I enjoy talking to her.  After lunch, we went over to Joyner Park to see if there were any pecans left.  We did find some.  Then we sat on a bench and reminisced about our sons' days of homeschool basketball while we watched a humongous monstrosity of a kite.  From a web search, I surmise it was called a flowform kite.  The kite was like a black and white monster face with red eyes.  The tail tubes were striped with black and white rings.  It was a very dramatic sight, but I can't really imagine it being much more fun than the small size kite that you run like mad to get up in the air. 
(I'm thinking a little airplane-shaped kite I have in the shed (if I haven't thrown it away) was a flowform kite.  It was a small kite that never flew very well; it just wasn't balanced right and the nose always tended to point down.  It needed lots more wind to get up in the air.)
I have to mention the kite I had when my sister and I were at the beach with friends (once upon a time when I was young).  I was sailing my kite over the inland waterway back of the condo when the string broke or else the kite got away from me.  It's been so long since it happened, I don't remember that detail.   The kite landed in a strip of marsh grasses out in the water.  I talked some guys in a boat into fetching it for me.  (It didn't take much to talk them into it.  When you have a boat and free time, you do things just because you can!)  They came back with my kite and one guy asked, "Is this it?"
I thought to myself, "Man, that is the dumbest question I have ever heard."
He added, "There's lots of 'em out there."  Ah! That explained his question.
I think Lea and I should add "fly a kite" to our list of things to do next year.  In typical nonjudgmental fashion, she gave me permission to carry over till next year the things left on my list from this year. 

The other event I should have had my camera for was the local Christmas parade.  It was just the right size.  Fire trucks, a marching band, some floats, the Grinch, beauty queens, old cars, horses, motorcycles, ATV's, and good ole Santy Claus.  Son Caleb was on a float playing bluegrass music.  His friend Amy organized the float and fed the participants breakfast.  I'm assuming the Turnages provided the trailer because it advertised "Belinda's Pumpkins and Gourds."
I hope someone somewhere took a picture of the float.  If I come across one, I will put it on my blog.

Hope you had a nice weekend.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Blueberry foliage in sunlight

My blueberry bushes have lovely fall foliage.  Because the weather has been mild lately, their reddish leaves are lingering.  The morning sunlight shining through the leaves is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Apple/onion cream cheese appetizer

Somewhere along the line (a magazine, a cookbook?), I read that a chutney over a brick of cream cheese would make a quick and handy appetizer.  With that in mind, I came up with an appetizer that I sent with my son to a gathering.  He said it went over well.
Here is roughly what I did.  The key ingredient was a homemade apple/hot pepper jelly that had been given to my son a good while back. 
First, I sautéed in a little cooking oil over medium-low heat 1 chopped onion.  I cooked it for more that 20 minutes to develop a caramelized flavor.  Then I added 1 chopped McIntosh apple and 2 heaping TB. of apple/pepper jelly and heated till bubbly.  I cooled the mixture a bit before putting it in a container for travel.  At the dinner, my son assembled the appetizer by pouring it over a brick of Neuchatel cheese.  It was served with Townhouse crackers and Triscuit Thin Crisps.  It got good reports, and someone else took the leftovers home.
I've seen recipes lately calling for raspberry chipotle sauce or equal parts Rotel canned tomatoes and green chilis and raspberry jam over cream cheese.  That sounds good, but I never buy raspberry jam. 
Do you have a favorite jelly or chutney-cream cheese appetizer recipe?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Oak leaves in November

Yesterday, on my walk around the local nature park, I admired the color of the oak leaves, about the only leaves left on the trees.  After some of the passing clouds cleared out, the afternoon sun lit up the top of this oak, which was very pretty against the blue sky. 

Near the power line where the sun could develop the color, this white oak had some lovely red leaves.  (There is a hickory tree in the foreground--no leaves left on it.)
Of course the evergreens still have leaves as you can see from this view over the lake.  The hollies, which were left for the wildlife, are sporting a heavy crop of berries this year.
I snapped pictures of the turtles, a lovely camellia, and the waterfall.  I only wish I could have captured the beauty of the sunlight shining through the woods on the tan beech leaves.  To me, the effect is magical, but I wasn't able to capture that magic on film.


Sunday, November 29, 2015


Even though I've never shopped one of their stores, I thought REI's idea of closing up shop on Black Friday and getting outside was something I could go along with.  The weather was warmer than normal, perfect for being outside, and I made a few trips over to the local nature preserve this holiday weekend.  I managed to time it well enough to see an airplane from the nearby airport drop some skydivers.  I could actually hear them yelling, "woo hoo" from where I was.  What hotdogs!  Some of them were turning somersaults.  I was content to watch from the ground.

Hope you had a chance to get outside this weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

You can't roller skate in a watermelon patch

I just finished reading a couple of posts by a fellow blogger, and I've got thoughts running in all directions (but intersecting at the most unusual points).  He mentioned trying to photograph the full moon with unsuccessful results.  He also mentioned his empathy for soldiers away from home at Thanksgiving.  Well, I tried to snap a picture of the moon as it rose over the highway ahead of us as we came back from Thanksgiving dinner with my family.  You just can NOT take a low-light picture while you're bouncing along the highway (well, at least not if you expect it to look like what you are seeing).  And you can't roller skate in a watermelon patch!  I thought that was the phrase from a Roger Miller song, a song on a cassette that my husband nearly wore out when he was in Vietnam.  Actually the song says you can't go fishing in a watermelon patch and you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd (or swim in a baseball pool or take a shower in a parakeet cage or drive around with a tiger in your car or change film with a kid on your back--and I guess kids these days don't know what it means to "change film" in a camera).
So, here is the full moon above headlights and tail lights.

But it is possible to take a picture of the sunset while you're at a stop sign (especially if you ask the driver to pause a moment).
Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

An errand to Walmart

I am not a good shopper.  I have a hard time making simple decisions, and there I stand trying to decide if the difference in price is worth a product that doesn't have TBHQ or should I get the larger quantity that's cheaper per unit, but might not be used in a timely manner or will just add up to a bigger bill right now, and on it goes. 
Then I have to notice the other customers.  I'm gratified that there seems to be a push to crackdown on shoplifters in the cosmetic sections.  I could go bananas watching people opening products to sniff the scent or even sampling them.  Speaking of sampling, people eating grapes they haven't paid for is a pet peeve of mine.
Then usually there are children who just haven't been taught to behave or are fretful for one reason or another.  I'm astounded at the number of kids who haven't been instructed not to touch the merchandise.  Today I saw a pudgy little fellow who didn't look like he was much more than 2 1/2 shaking some cake sprinkles for all he was worth.  When his mother finally called, it didn't sound to me as if she were in the habit of making him mind on the first call.  I was on to another aisle, but a few minutes later, I saw him in his grandmother's cart.  He was not a happy camper!  The little red face was in the most unhappy contortion, his mouth was wide open and in the deafening silence that comes just before that blood curdling scream.  I saw the silence lasting longer than I thought.  Maybe he wasn't going to scream after all.  Alas, just about the time our carts met, he let loose.  On and on he went.  I thought I had better wind up my trip; my nerves were way too jangled to make a decision.
I did see a couple of well behaved girls.  One showed the other a dime on the floor, but for whatever reason they chose not to pick it up.  When I came back up the aisle and the dime was still there, I picked it up and gave it to their mother with an explanation.  The mother gave it to the younger girl and thanked me. 
On the way home, I reminisced about my own little fellow (who is now a very big fellow).  My husband and I were fairly strict disciplinarians in the first place, but our little guy made some things easier on us because of his easygoing personality.  Then I thought of the time that he fussed and I just could not properly handle the situation.  We were on a vacation (a rare enough thing for us) and we had stopped at the Mayfield Dairy in Tennessee.  We were just in time for the last tour of the day.  I thought all was going well till we had to put on hairnets.  All of us.  If I had advance notice to prep darling son, he (not being especially active for a boy) could behave in all kinds of situations, but we were totally blindsided with the hairnet thing and he DID NOT want the hairnet!  I'm sure the other people on the tour were not very pleased.  I don't really remember getting any judgmental vibes; I just remember being so flummoxed because it was an unusual situation.
I happened to get home just at the same time as darling son.  Still an easygoing fellow.  He helped me unload the groceries.  As I put away the 4 cans of corn, I realized I had forgotten to use my "$1 off 4" coupon! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The hand-me-down mailbox

Our mailbox finally bit the dust.  The box itself (a plastic one that had been here over 20 years) was punctured by the hail back in April, and the post itself was rotting off at about ground level as posts will do.  My neighbors upgraded mailboxes after the hailstorm, and I took their old one, which still had some use left in it.  I had procrastinated about putting it up, but my hand was forced when I saw my box was completely down Thursday afternoon.  I dug a hole with a transplant spade, which is a lot easier on the elbows, wrists, and forearms than a post hole digger.
I pried my neighbors' house number off the post.  (We have enough mix-ups without adding to the confusion.)  I guess I will need to get new numbers soon.
Darling son took the old mailbox and post to the dump this morning.  I just need to find some time to weed around the clematis that grows by the mailbox.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Parachuting beavers?--not just an urban legend

Occasionally, I will come across a story that sounds too strange to be true, but which actually is true.  Parachuting beavers?  Yep, it happened.  I enjoyed reading the story, the related backstory and watching the imbedded video. 
Can you imagine the little beavers listening to the story about how Grandpa and Grandma flew on an airplane to get here.  Okay, I guess that's taking it a little too far.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A day off for the veteran

My husband had today off, and we enjoyed a change of pace.  I thought the day was starting off successfully when I realized the snap trap that sprang last night had TWO small mice in it.  Two in one blow--never had that to happen before. 
We went grocery shopping together to take advantage of a Veteran's Day discount.  (I actually did the shopping while he poked around looking at this and that.  Occasionally I would spot him in another area looking at the merchandise.)
Then I talked him into taking a walk on another section of the Neuse River Trail.  This is the first sunny day we've had in a long time, so it was especially nice to get out.  This part of the trail is close enough to a major highway that there is the constant noise of traffic, but the scenery was very nice.

Then we ate at a restaurant which had a free entrée for vets.  He also got a free donut and a free car wash. 
It's been a good day for us.  I hope yours has been, too.