Tuesday, July 28, 2020

A report on my pitiful garden and some book reviews. Take it or leave it.

Yesterday we received over three inches of rain, for which I am thankful.  We've had some well-timed rainfall this year; the rains come just as I'm about to give up and water my now weedy garden.  I've had disappointments out there, but there have been small victories.  Many of my first plantings didn't come up, for no reason I know of.  Just when the tomatoes started to ripen, blight spread on the three plants, but we've certainly had plenty of tomatoes for the past couple of weeks, as well as green beans, some rather puny sweet peppers, and cucumbers.  Today I brought in enough sweet corn for a meal, so there's that.

The whole table was practically covered in tomatoes yesterday, so I froze three quarts of tomatoes to use in my next three batches of spaghetti sauce.  The five okra plants are beginning to produce, and I have second plantings of green beans coming along.  I sowed some turnip seeds in a bare spot of the garden, but that three inches of torential rainfall we got may have washed them all away.  Now there is a huge chance of rain for the next three days.  The Japanese beetles seem to eat every growing thing in sight.  Sevin Dust kills them for a day or two, then a new army of them shows up for a feast. 

If you didn't read my previous blog entry, the book I pictured there is absolutely great.  It's G-rated, too!  It may be difficult to find, since it doesn't seem to be well-known.  I check out e-books from two libraries:  I normally use Mid-Continent Library because they have a larger selection; they did not have The  in any form.  So I found a hard copy of "The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee" at one of the several libraries that are part of the group "Trails Regional".  I very seldom buy books, so had our library not had that one lonely copy, I would not have had the privilege of reading this book.  I wonder if it's out of print, since even Abebooks.com didn't have a reasonably-priced used copy of it.

I finished the psychological thriller "The Silent Patient"; it didn't scare me even a little bit, and was somewhat predictable... with a surprising twist at the end; don't waste your time on it.  But the book I'm reading now is a treasure; this is my second day reading it, and I'm over halfway through.  It's one I won't forget for years, if ever.  Believe me when I tell you that you need to read "American Dirt".  Cliff finished "Educated" and seemed to share my enthusiasm for the book.  He always makes me find his next book on the iPad because it's just more "computing" than he wants to mess with.  Most of the books I check out for myself have to be on hold for awhile before I read them, so I always need to find him something that can be checked out instantly, I looked at the 2017 New York Times Best Seller List and found one that sounds good, "The Life We Bury".  I also put "American Dirt" on hold for him.  While waiting for my next hold, I may read the one I checked out for him as well.  It sounds interesting, and unlike anything else I've read.

That's all I have... gardening and book reports.  Take it or leave it.

Yours truly,

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

These are trying times, but books sustain me

It took me three or four days to admit it, but yesterday I realized I was suffering from depression.  Not the deep, dark, dangerous kind of depression, but the kind that happens when a somewhat self-centered, spoiled person realizes times won't be normal again for a long while, and she can't safely do the things she likes to do... like escape on a trip to, say, Colorado.  

Cliff and I aren't totally sequestered, as my readers are well aware.  We're doing our own shopping (wearing masks), we interact face to face with our relatives and friends and yes, we hug the babies.  No virus has touched us as far as I know.  I'm not bragging, because I know there is that possibility.  But I'm thankful we've survived thus far, and often think of people like my sister who have actually been on genuine lockdown since March.  She's a widow in her 90's, with nobody living in her house with her.  Her children and grandchildren visit her outside, with masks on and/or over six feet away; and they shop for her.  But I have my husband here to talk to if I want to say something, and she is alone at home.  So I think about Maxine a lot, and pray for her often.  One thing about it, her family members in the Oklahoma City area are the most thoughtful, caring people you'd ever meet.  I know they are doing everything in their power to help and encourage her.  

But I digress:  Once I admitted to myself I was depressed, I began to think about solutions.  Cliff and I talked about Colorado, but it's one of the hardest-hit states by the virus.  It's about twelve hours from here to Colorado Springs, which means we'd be using public rest rooms on the trip, as well as after we arrived.  We'd have to stay in hotels, and we have enough concern about bedbugs in hotels, without adding Covid-19 to our worries!  Many of the spots popular with tourists are closed, too, which takes the fun out of things.  In fact, we can't think of any safe road trips; we are planning a trip to Georgia to visit our son and his family in October, although Georgia is another hotbed of Covid.  But our son lives out of town now, so we'd only be interacting with family.  

So, once I admitted to myself that I was depressed, it didn't take long to realize I had a way out of all this mess.  I can travel while sitting in my most comfortable chair, and it costs me nothing:  I have books to read, libraries full of books at my fingertips!  This should be no big surprise to anyone, because I always have a book available on the iPad.  But I've not been taking full advantage of this wealth:  I've let myself spend time playing silly games or scrolling Facebook (which is depressing on its own) rather than reading.  I may not get much else done today, but I have pledged to read like I used to, before the Internet.  I finished "Ava's Man", and would rate it at four stars out of five.  Then I went directly to another library book suggested by my Arkansas friend.

So today I've traveled to Arkansas in the 1970's living the life of a pre-teen girl, quite an interesting trip so far.  I'm forced to read a genuine book rather that an e-book, since that's the only format the library had this in.  At least the print is large enough to read comfortably, and if I use a clothespin to hold it open, I can lay it down in my lap instead of having to hold it;  my wrists have arthritis, so long periods of holding a physical book can be painful.  The fact it's a paperback helps a lot.  

I happened to recall this morning that Spencer Quinn was going to release a new Chet and Bernie book in July, so I looked it up on Amazon to get the title, Of Mutts and Men, then put it on hold at the library.  Other books waiting in the wings at the library are American Dirt, Normal People, and Too Much, Never Enough.  I also have one waiting on my shelf in the Libby app, The Silent Patient; but it's a psychological thriller, so if it scares me too much, I may not make it through that one.   

So I'm going to post this entry and get back to Gracie Lee.  

Thank God I have free access to any book I want to read without ever leaving home.

Monday, July 20, 2020

A new day

I awoke around 5 AM (I slept longer than usual) hearing thunder.  I normally feed the dog at 4:30 and give the cat his bite of canned food, so I fed Gabe and called the cat in.  He knew I was late and showed up in record time when he heard his name.  After their breakfast, the hooligans chased one another and wrestled and cause all kinds of mayhem... that's their usual morning routine.  Rain fell outside; at one point, Blue the cat meowed at the back door, wanting out.  I told him there is no longer a litter box available in the back porch and chucked him outside, where he quickly ran under the back porch.  Next time I went out to look at the rain gauge, he crawled out and waited for me to open the door to the house.  So he's officially an outside cat, but he gets to come in and play with Gabe once or twice a day.  Gabe is nervous during storms, and often hides in his kennel.  But when his feline friend is inside, he shows no nervousness at all.  The cat seldom asks to come inside except for the two times a day when he gets his canned food...his sense of timing is great.  But I always invite him in for a morning play session with Gabe.  Blue has made friends with Buttons the barn cat, but Mamma Kitty barely tolerates him:  She doesn't try to hurt him, but she certainly growls when he gets too close.

At last check, I found two inches of rain in the gauge this morning.  Weather-guessers say there are several chances for rain in the next few days.  As for now, the sky looks to be clearing somewhat. 

My daughter has a friend visiting who is raising her two grandchildren; Rachel asked if I'd watch the kids while they went shopping yesterday.  I agreed, telling them not to waste too much time in their pursuits.  I seldom volunteer to babysit, especially for someone unrelated to me... but Rachel's friend Brooke housed me for a week when I was in Cozumel with my daughter and her husband, so I thought I'd better not be too picky about it.  

Actually, the two children turned out to be just about the easiest kids I ever watched.  Ezra, aged five I think, had one melt-down over some sort of sibling, bossy-big-sister thing.  But otherwise, they were no problem at all.  I didn't let my daughter and Brooke off easy though, hinting that I was totally exhausted, etc.  But mostly the kids just played together and asked nothing of me.  Here's what they looked like in the truck, not long after they were picked up at my house (I stole these off Facebook from their "Gran"):

They were exhausted!

It's about time to plant turnips, although the space I prepared for them looks like a lake right now... so I won't be planting turnips today.  

I guess that's about all I have in the way of "news", so I will wish my readers a good day and will see if I can make my husband take me to Costco now that the rain has ceased.


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Assorted stuff

We've lived in this trailer house for twelve years now.  The second spring we were back here, I bought a bluebird house that Cliff put on top of a corner fence post, facing east; a pair of bluebirds moved right in, and from then on we've never failed to have baby bluebirds hatched in that house in the spring.  This year, as usual, they built their nest inside the house; one day I peered in and saw five blue eggs.  

When I looked out my east window, it was normal to see sparrows trying to take over the birdhouse, but the bluebirds always fought them off.  This year it was relentless mockingbirds attacking them; one day when I peeked in the house only to see no trace of the eggs.  I don't know what happened to make the eggs disappear, but I do know it was the mockingbirds that succeeded in making the bluebirds abandon the house.  I've always loved mockingbirds, with their happy songs and the way they do that silly dancing at the top of a tree or pole.  Now I see them and think, "Killers!" even though  I know it's just nature's way.  And by the way, I do see my bluebirds often; they must have nested in a nearby tree.  They spend time sitting on the fence near where the birdhouse used to be... I guess they like to visit the "old home place".

A couple of days ago, Cliff noticed an ad on Facebook Marketplace:  A lady was looking to buy some canning jars.  I contacted her and told her I had a lot of them.  She lived in the Northland area of Kansas City, which means she and her husband were at least 40 miles away; I didn't figure anyone would come so far for canning jars, but she and her husband came on out.  I don't can any more, and I just wanted someone to have the jars.  They were a retired couple, gardening for something to do because of the Covid shut-down, and seemed to think they needed a lot of jars, which I certainly had.  I stopped counting after five dozen quart jars and I don't know how many pint ones I dug out; they asked how much, I said $10; I wasn't looking to make money, I just didn't want to throw something away that someone could use.  Inspired by their enthusiasm, I threw in a blue enamel canner with the deal, and the man insisted on paying me another $10.  

With my hoarding tendencies, I held back a few jars, of course.  One never knows.

We have been behind on rainfall most of this growing season, and there seemed little chance for rain when I went to bed Tuesday night.  I awoke Wednesday morning to distant thunder.  The kitten, Blue, had been making his home in the back porch, where he was safe from predators.  I'd open the door so he could go in and out during the day; then at night he'd be shut inside the porch, away from nocturnal predators.  But when I woke up to thunder and lightening, I invited him back inside where his litter box was waiting for me to dispose of the contents... thank goodness I hadn't dumped it all out yet, because we had a torential rainstorm that went on past noon:  Blue had spent his first 24 hours of being an outside cat, but I just couldn't make him stay out in such hard rain... he's living under the back porch, so he has a dry place, but he's still young, you know, and has a lot to learn.  For your information, we got almost four inches of rain.

As usual this time of year, I'm bingeing on sweet cherries.  There was a time I refused to buy them unless they were on sale, but I love them so much, I figured since life is so short, I'd just better go ahead and buy them at any price as long as I had the money.  They're good for me, and I can honestly say I like them more than ice cream.  If you knew me, you'd know that's almost impossible... but it's true.  I like the times when my life is a bowl of cherries!  I looked up that expression and here's what I found:  "Something that you say that means that life is very pleasant. This phrase is often used humorously to mean the opposite."  Well now, my relationship with cherries is very pleasant.  By the way, after spending $3.99 per pound for three weeks straight, the cherries have FINALLY gone on sale!

Cliff is handling his asthma pretty well.  He went to the doctor's office and had some sort of breathing test done to see how his breathing was both before and after using the inhaler; the doctor called him yesterday evening to tell him that the pill he takes daily, in combination with the inhaler, had definitely improved his breathing, and told him that his asthma is a mild case.  Yes, the doctor actually called him!  Anyhow, Cliff was reluctant at first to use the inhaler, but now, not so much.  He knows it helps him, especially on these hot, humid Missouri summer days.

I got some turnip seeds, since the grandson isn't planting turnips this year in his wildlife plot.  My garden has been very hit-and-miss this year, with more failures than victories, but maybe I'll get some turnips:  "Plant them the 25th of July, wet or dry, and harvest on the 25th of October, drunk or sober."

I'm reading "Ava's Man" as suggested by a reader; I like Rick Bragg's other book, "Best Cook in the World" better, but perhaps that's just because I read it first.  I recently read "The Big Finish" about two old men living in a sort of nursing home: Although things happen in the book that would never happen in real life, I thoroughly enjoyed the story line; I passed it along to Cliff, and he liked it as well.  Now he's reading "Educated" at my suggestion.  It's a real-life story and has been read by some famous people, including Barack Obama.  In getting it for Cliff, I still had to put a long hold on it; obviously, lots of people like the book.

Our little Cora came to visit yesterday.  It's hard to believe she'll be seven years old next month.  

Have a wonderful day, won't you?  Things are looking up around here in many ways.


Monday, July 13, 2020

Nothing big to blog about

I stayed home from church yesterday because we had so many relatives gathered here a week ago; I feel pretty safe, but there's always the possibility of catching the coronavirus in any sort of crowd, and I'd hate to be the person who passed it on to others at church unknowingly.  Next Sunday two weeks will have gone by, so I should be fine going to church again.

We've had some awfully hot weather, but Friday the high was 88 with a mild breeze, so it was quite comfortable in the shade.  It's like that today, too.

So far I've kept up with my one-year Bible reading every day this year, leaving out the boring genealogies as I always do.  Today my New Testament reading started out with "Grace and peace unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"; I grabbed onto those words, thinking Paul must have meant that greeting for me as well as the Romans he was writing to.  What a nice greeting it is.  I need all the grace and peace I can get.

I sure do miss my strolls in the pasture since my knees got to hurting so badly again.  I try to spend half an hour on the bicycle though, every day, but nothing equals the pleasure of walking.

We've stayed close to home in the past week.  Honestly, there's no place I want to go with everything closed down, although I daydream about trips to Arkansas or Colorado.  We had so much fun riding our motorcycle around Arkansas.  It's a beautiful state.

The kitten, Blue, is still lots of fun; the litter box, though, not so much.  The more he grows, the more enthusiastic he is about covering up his deposits; he tosses litter all over the back porch floor surrounding the box.  I'm hoping to get him totally outside within a couple of weeks.  He has access to the outdoors night and day now; most mornings, he is waiting at the front door when I get up and lets me know he wants inside with me and Gabe.  The two of them wrestle and play if I let him in, but I usually boot him out after 30 minutes because by that time, he's napping in Gabe's bed like he owns it.

Our son who visited has been on a different kind of diet for a few months and is losing quite a bit of weight:  He fasts one day, then eats anything he wants the next day.  He said it's the easiest diet he's ever tried.  Jim has the exact same body shape as my husband, so much so that if they are standing side by side with their backs to me, they look identical from the neck down.  Of course their contours are different now, since Cliff is 21 years ahead of him in the aging process.  Now Cliff has been inspired to lose weight.  He doesn't think he could go without eating for an entire day, but he's not eating breakfast, and waits as long as he can before he eats anything.  He waited until about 2 PM today;  I fixed him a breakfast burrito.  Meanwhile, I ate whatever I wanted all day:  ice cream, cherries, a grapefruit, and string cheese.  That's exactly how I ate when I was single, living alone.  I'll need to fix something that can be heated up, I guess, for whenever he decides to eat.  This all seems very strange, since I'm used to the routine of breakfast at seven and dinner at noon. But if this works for him, it'll be worth changing our routine, and it'll be him in control instead of me. I like that aspect of it.

I saw someone wanting canning jars on Facebook Marketplace and told her I have plenty of jars.  She's on her way now, so I'd better be watching.  She's coming quite a distance, probably forty miles one way.

Since I have so little of interest to offer in this entry, I recorded myself singing one of my favorite hymns for those of you who said you wanted another song.  I always hear myself going flat in these songs, and it makes me hesitant to post them.  But you all know I'm no Dolly Parton, so you shouldn't be expecting perfection.  Honestly, I think I sing better at 5 AM, but I did this one this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Don't let worries ruin your day

I don't know what tomorrow holds for us.  I love my life here on Woodhaven Acres and dislike changes, but change is part of life.  This morning I stepped outside with a troubled mind, and the Universe spoke to me:  "Look around you," it said.  "Is the sun still in it's place in the sky?  Are the trees still green?  Is your husband still alive and able to enjoy life with you?  What is wrong with this day?  If all is well right now, why are you wasting this good day worrying about what might or might not happen in a month or a year?"

So I took a slow look in all directions and saw the grass and trees, heard the birds singing and a neighbor's rooster crowing in the distance.  Other than the fact that the day is going to be a scorcher, I realized it was a fine one; and who cares how hot it gets when we have air conditioning?  My husband is sitting on the other end of the couch as we surf the Internet; he'll go to the pulmonologist this afternoon to see if his breathing is improved.  As I type this, I thank God for doctors.  Doctors have saved his life twice that I know of:  Once when he had a four-way heart bypass, and once after his gall bladder exploded... that doctor actually told me, "He could have died."

My dog is a good companion in spite of the fact he sometimes strays from home.  He and Blue the cat keep me entertained.  One never has to be bored these days, with television and music always handy and free books galore to read from the public library.  

So I've stopped thinking about what might happen later on and have seized this day.  I pushed away thoughts of all the things I've lost with age and started counting all the things I am still able to do.  My steps are slower, but I can walk.  Some days my knees hurt pretty bad, but Tylenol eases the pain.  I can't lift my largest cast-iron skillet to pour gravy into a bowl, but I have other skillets I can handle just fine.  

This day is truly all I have, so I refuse to throw it away worrying.  

One of my blog-followers, Margie, left a comment saying she hoped we were careful while our family was here for the Fourth:  I felt pretty safe, really; but since the experts have told us we have to settle in for the long haul with this covid-19, I made up my mind that life really isn't worth living if you can't see your loved ones.  So we hugged.  We kissed the babies.  We laughed and shared memories of family members who are no longer with us... and I felt alive again!  We also had a fellow doing some work in one of the bathrooms, but I didn't hug him... although I almost felt like it, when I saw the result of his hard work.

I wear a mask in stores.  I don't go into crowded places unless it's absolutely necessary, so I surely won't be going to country music shows any time soon.  But family is what life is all about, and if we have to live with Covid, I'll have to take my chances, hugging and kissing every great-grandbaby.  It really bothers me we can't go visit my sister in Oklahoma, simply because she's past 90 years old; she's in good health, but at 90, you just don't know how long she might have... although she's so healthy, she'll probably outlive me.

We each have to make our own decisions, and my choices may not be the same as yours.  I am not one of these people who make fun of others for wearing masks.  We have enough of those:  they've taken over Facebook with their selfish rants about their "rights" to walk into a store and possible infect others.  I'll never understand why they have to tell the world about it... if that's your decision, just shut up and do as you please, because it doesn't impress me.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

These past few days

Our son, who lives near Columbus, Georgia, arrived Wednesday night for his annual Fourth of July visit.  His wife is care-giver for her mother, who lives in their home, so she hasn't made the trip for awhile.  However, he brought a car-load of people with him.  It's a small car, so that amounts to four people total:  Jim, his daughter Lyndsay with her daughter, Mae, and another granddaughter, Morgan.  I tend to go on a cooking marathon when Jim's here, trying to make his old favorites... none of them actually good for anybody, but I try to forget our health for this period of time each year.  Just visualize us living on flour, sugar, chocolate, Cool Whip, rice, and potatoes, with some eggs and sausage thrown in:  It's a dieter's nightmare! Nothing but carbs.  

There are three great-grandbabies in the family right now, and that makes things more fun.

This is Brynn, who is past three months old.  She is at the stage of making cute sounds and faces, smiling a lot.  

Can you believe this is the only shot I took of my newest grand-baby, Ivan?  Keep in mind I was doing a lot of cooking that day, as well as keeping my eye on a small bathroom remodel that was going on; we finally found someone reliable who will do that sort of thing, and we hope to avail ourselves of his services a lot.  That's Morgan, one of the Georgia guests, holding Ivan.  Yes, Morgan IS as pretty as this pictures suggests she is.

This is two-year-old Amara.

Here's Mae, from Georgia; that's a doll's bottle she's chewing on.  I just didn't get enough pictures taken, but so it goes.  She is around 18 months, and at such a fun age!  She doesn't know a stranger and is talking a lot, although I don't understand everything she says.  She is a real day-brightener.  What would the world be without babies?  

We had a nice Independence Day with family.  No fireworks were purchased, but a neighbor had some pretty fireworks, so we enjoyed those.  Gabe did NOT enjoy them.  Actually, I can't remember a better Fourth of July here at Woodhaven Acres.  

Now that everybody is gone home, I have a small case of the blues.  There is a cloud hanging over us right now that I can't seem to shake, but it will pass.  Those of you who pray, please remember our family.

The cat is growing like crazy and has made acquaintance with both barn cats.  The chickens are settled in the chicken house and I give them free run most of the day.  The garden?  Not much to brag about.  There are some huge green tomatoes that we will likely get to eat before blight consumes the plants, but blight got our sweet peppers.  It looks as though I'll get some green beans, though.  Every year I say it's my last for planting any garden at all, then spring hits and false optimism makes me think things will be different.  

And that's it for today.  Have a great one... we only live once on this earth.