Monday, August 29, 2022

Let nothing be wasted

I'm tired.  That's nothing new, because these days, in spite of getting enough sleep, I wake up tired.  However, once I get busy with something, I don't think about how tired I am... and boy, have I been busy.  Most of our meals for the last couple of weeks have been from the garden.  Green beans, tomatoes and sauces made from them, corn, okra (sometimes fried, sometimes smothered), and potatoes.  I've been up to my elbows in tomatoes and peaches, putting them up in the freezer.  

Just for fun, I even canned a few peaches.

 We will soon be going to Iowa to the Old Threshers Reunion, so today it's been a race to leave no peaches, tomatoes, or corn to rot.  I still need to pick some green beans, too, and put them in the refrigerator so I can cook them when we get home.  Oh yes, and we have plenty of pears from a young tree.  For some reason, worms and bugs don't seem to bother pears; after all those wormy peaches (and sweet corn), it's nice to pick up a pear without accidentally ingesting protein in the form of ugly worms. 

Cliff greets me coming in the house with ice cream buckets full of garden stuff and calls me his hunter-gatherer.

We got 6/10 of rain Sunday, and I'm hearing thunder right now.  Maybe the drought is over.  

I need to mop; all this business of cutting corn off the cob, skinning tomatoes, and cutting worms out of peaches is messy.  Maybe tomorrow.  I started cleaning the refrigerator, ran into a problem with a broken shelf, and stopped.  Cliff fixed it, but I'm not doing it this evening.

I'm going to go see about those green beans.  That shouldn't take long.


I apologize to those who read this early on.  Talk about misprints!  How does one cut corn off a cop????  Anyhow, Cliff caught my errors and I hope I corrected them all.  I confess I was hurrying to do this entry; one should not rush at such a task.  Also, I'm not at my best in the evening.  

Excuses, I know.  Everybody has them, yada yada yada

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Almost sunrise, with peaches on my schedule

I just realized something, as daylight slowly brightens up the sky:  I still get excited for a new day when I realize the sun is about to come up.  Seriously, my heart leaps with the realization I have another day ahead of me.

I've been peeling, cutting up, and dissecting peaches for a week.  The dissecting part of the work is because the peaches are wormy, and I don't want to eat any worms... or any of their tunnels inside the fruit, either.  Sometimes I throw away a larger part of the peach than I keep.  I have a lot of them picked, waiting for them to ripen.  They are on the front porch and pack porch, and a few are waiting in the kitchen.  I will freeze some in quart bags today. 

Our tomatoes are about to go away with blight, but I am so very thankful we've had all we wanted and more.  There are still some smaller ones ripening, so maybe we'll have B.L.T.'s one more time before they're completely gone. 

That one bucket is on the table where I feed the cats; I feed them there because I don't want the dogs eating their breakfast.  Also, ants and slugs can't get to it.  They'll both be back to eat more before long, but they don't like peaches; so that's my overflow peach place.

I made a peach cobbler yesterday; we had some, still slightly warm, with ice cream for our dinner dessert.  Very good, if I say so myself.

Cliff just got up, so that's my blog entry for  today.  Besides, I think I have a late planting of green beans ready to pick before the sun gets uncomfortably hot.


Monday, August 22, 2022

My ancestry

I let other family members do the digging to find our ancestors, mainly because I don't have the patience for it; this means that I'm likely to hurry along and add the wrong people to the wrong places.  I quickly found out I shouldn't be messing with finding my ancestors because I can't do it properly.  At least I do have reliable cousins who dig deeper and find the right folks in my ancestry.  I have people working on both my parents' family trees.

My DNA fascinates me, seeing where my long-ago people lived, and even pictures of some; altogether, they are all the folks who made me what I am.  Experts are finding more things out about DNA all the time, and Ancestry occasionally refines what they know.  Here's my recent DNA findings:

I like the fact that I'm mostly Scotch and British, although I've always wanted a little color in my lineage, either native American or Black.  I do have one very distant relative who was an Indian living in Canada, but that doesn't give me much of an edge.  

As I say, the whole thing fascinates me.  Cliff doesn't understand it at all, and is always asking why I'd care about people so far back in history having nothing to do with my life.  Maybe I care so much because my mom talked a lot about her grandparents and how her parents lived.  She was a great story-teller, and I loved to hear all about the great-grandparents I never met, asking questions so I could learn more.  I learned a lot about her own life as a child, too:  Her father worked on a road crew and, as I understand it, was gone from home quite a bit.  So every Saturday my Grandmother would hitch up the team of horses to a wagon, load up the kids, and go to Eagleville to do her trading;  she told me Aunt Ruby, her oldest child, cried all the way to town as a baby and toddler.  

After taking eggs to the grocer and using her egg money  to help with getting sugar, flour, and other necessities of life, she and the kids would go visit her parents there in town, eating dinner with them.  I think she said that particular grandfather fought in the civil war, but I may have that mixed up.  I sure wish I'd written down more and asked questions when I was older.  She'd tell me about her Aunt Emma in South Dakota (they called her "Emmie") and a paternal aunt who lived in a cabin in Arkansas...  I think they  called her "Aunt Sadie".  Most of that information is gone from me, except that I recall that the Arkansas aunt's family had a wind-up Victrola in their simple dwelling, and the kids spent most of their time there listening to music the one time their family visited her.

So now I imagine what my ancestors may have done in the countries where they started out.  Most people back then were poor, and even the rich had things rougher than poor folks people do today.  What great stories they could tell us!

Oh well, I keep learning bits and pieces.  Who knows what stories might pop up eventually?

I can hope, can't I?

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Trigger thumb

I've talked before about my left-handed traits.  My first teacher taught me to write with my right hand at the request of my  mother, but I still do most other things with my left hand, although I really didn't realize that's what I was doing until Cliff began calling me "Lefty".  Some of you know that I decided to write with my left hand during the pandemic, and I can now use that hand for writing; although my left-hand writing isn't pretty, it is quite legible.  I don't really try to improve it at this point, but I write all checks left-handed when I'm paying bills, and usually if I write to my sister, I do that left-handed.

I open doorknobs with my left hand; I pull weeds in the garden with my left hand; I unwrap a stick of butter using my left hand, as I noticed this morning.  I wouldn't have noticed it, but after pulling so many weeds in the garden this summer, I now have a condition called trigger thumb.  If I bend my thumb to use it and then straighten it out, the knuckle in my thumb pops, and it hurts.  There's also an area below my thumb that pains me all the time... it isn't horrible, but it does hurt.

When this first began happening, I knew immediately what it was because Cliff had it in years past, so bad he couldn't even unbend his thumb.  He had surgery for it, and never had another problem with it.

I haven't had the problem too long, and I see online there are exercises one can do that might reverse the condition.  Amazon has some things to help with it, for instance a splint glove to wear while asleep to keep the finger or thumb straight and some plastic ring-like things to keep the affected digit from bending.  I'm terrible with doing exercises three times a day, so I'm not sure how that will work out.  

We had two inches of rainfall Tuesday, so now I can actually pull weeds.  You wouldn't believe how difficult it was for me to use my right hand for that.  So, back to that stick of butter:  This morning I started out using my left hand to unwrap it, but OUCH!  So I did it with the right hand... very slowly and tediously, I must say.  How could such a simple thing be so difficult? 

It's amazing the wear-and-tear problems we senior citizens discover about our bodies every day, crazy things that my mother never warned me about, like skin tags and loss of hair in various places, and yet hairs cropping up where they shouldn't be.  I have a frail hair as thin as a spider's web that grows out of a certain place on my neck; I have no way of knowing when it's there until one day we're going somewhere in the car.  We'll be stopped at a stoplight and my husband will say, "Sit still.  I need to pull your hair."

Ouch!  How much fun can a person have?   

I guess all these crazy things still beat the alternative.  So far I've kept my sense of humor.  If I lose that, please, somebody just shoot me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

I've been thinking about my grandma this morning

Grandma Stevens was 78 when she died; that's the age I am now.  Grandma seemed old to me as long ago as I can remember.  It was the fifties and early sixties, when many gray-haired grandmothers wore their hair in a bun and quilted, and crocheted pretty doilies.  Maybe that made them seem older than they were.

One of my cousins who lived up the road from Grandma told me they helped her a lot during her latter years, and I'm sure they did.  Most family gatherings took place at her house, and it would have been a lot of work for someone her age (my age now) to get ready for all those people crowding into that small house.  Uncle Leo's family had helped her in various ways all her life after her husband died in 1938.  She didn't drive, so they took her with them to town to do the "trading".  They mowed her yard and helped in many other ways.

As I was thinking about how I always thought Grandma was so ancient, I happened to think of a situation with my oldest grandson some thirty or more years ago.  He had come to stay with us one summer when he was perhaps three or four.  There was a lady's assembly at the old German Church, and I took him with me, knowing it might not work out too well; he could get hyper at times. As expected, he did get restless with all the sitting and talking, so he and I went outside the church and I took him for a walk through the adjoining church cemetery so he could work off some steam.  

He was quite the talker, and always amazed me with his childlike wisdom.  But I was blindsided when this curious little boy wanted to know what those headstones in the graveyard were for.  It stumped me at the time, because how could I explain to him that people die?  I thought for a minute and decided to tell him the truth, hoping I could make it sound not too bad.  I'm not sure I should have taken that path, but here's basically how it went:

"Well," I said to him, "when people get really old, they get tired and their body hurts, and they are worn out and tired and don't feel well any more, and they die.  Their bodies are buried in the ground, but that's OK because they don't feel anything anymore and they don't have to hurt all the time.  Those stones are there to tell you what their names are and when they died."  I imagine I said something about their souls going to Jesus, but I don't remember that.  However, I'll never forget what he said to me.

"But Grandma, you're old!"

I was forty-five at the time.

I assured him that I wasn't really old yet, and that I would be around for a long time.  But I'll never forget the shock I felt from finding out my innocent little grandson thought I was "old".

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Dogs and cats

Shortly after I got out of bed this morning the thunder and lightning began, followed closely by a gentle rain.  Gabe, the dog, was frightened and wouldn't settle down.  He's always been a mess during storms.  He went to the door needing to go out, but when I opened the door and he actually saw the rain, he didn't want to go.  I insisted, but stood on the porch watching and cheering him on.  Blue, the cat, was sitting on the only half-dry portion of the porch.  When Gabe came back in, I allowed Blue to follow him.  Normally this time of year I don't let him in because of shedding, but he looked pitiful there on the porch.  He has an entire barn he could go to for shelter, but he's a good cat and deserves some special attention from time to time.

Blue is not afraid of the weather.  Thunder is nothing to him, it's as though he doesn't even hear it.  When he came inside, he ran straight to his scratching post as he always does first thing.  Then he roamed from one end of the trailer house to the other, I guess just to make sure everything was the same as it was last winter.  He seemed to want in the chair with me, but since I had a laptop on my lap and Gabe beside me cowering from the storm, there wasn't a place for him.  He went to the door to the back porch and began softly meowing at me.  He wanted some breakfast; normally I feed him and Mama Kitty outside on the deck, but since it was raining, I gave him some cat food and shut him in the  porch so Gabe wouldn't eat it.  When I saw the cat's paw reaching under the door, I let him back in with us.

Awhile after that, I realized I hadn't seen Blue for awhile; I did notice Gabe was sitting a little in front of me, as calm as could be.  I asked him where the cat was, and he got up and quickly went to his bed, which is right beside my chair.  That's where the cat was.  I thanked him for finding the cat, who is almost invisible lying in that dog bed.  Gabe returned to his place near my feet and lay down, calm as you please.

That's when I realized he hadn't been scared of the storm after I let Blue, the cat, in.  Somehow Blue's calm demeanor rubbed off on Gabe!

This got me wondering:  Are any cats afraid of storms?  Blue wasn't even worried about the fact that he was slightly wet, out on the porch.  It's something I've never thought about.  Most dogs are scared of storms, but maybe cats aren't.  I do know Blue and Mama Kitty are scared of fireworks, but that's a totally different thing... fire streaking through the sky, earthshaking booms... who wouldn't be scared?

Apparently Gabe simply soaked up Blue's calmness and is now at ease, although it's still raining outside.  Very interesting.

Blue in Gabe's bed, sleeping through the storm

Gabe, calm as he can be, beside my footstool, five feet away from Blue

I believe Gabe has his own emotional support animal.  

Monday, August 15, 2022

tomatoes in a dry year

We have been in a drought area all summer.  Every time rain is forecast, it misses us and goes either north or south... mostly north.  I have stopped trying to get rid of weeds.  You can't pull them out of ground that's like cement anyway, and the ground is so hard the hoe doesn't have much effect.  I'm still putting the soaker hose on a few late-planted beans and turnips.  I may put it where the sweet potatoes can get a little moisture to grow big enough to eat.  I haven't given the tomatoes any water simply because it's hard to pull the hoses through the cages.  I may carry a gallon or so to each plant today, since it's cooler now.

Not many tomatoes on this wilting, blighty Big Boy.

There is blight on all five plants, but four of them are still producing nicely on parts of the plants blight hasn't touched.  I knew when I set out that Big Boy that it probably wouldn't have a chance:  My two favorite canning tomatoes have always been Big Boy and Rutgers, and they are the most sensitive to blight.  I raised nothing but those two varieties until about 1980; that's when the blight started ruining my tomatoes.  It took a few years to find a couple of varieties that withstand blight the best for me; that would be Celebrity and Legend.  However, the Big Beef has amazed us with its staying power and those huge, sweet tomatoes.  I'll get another one of those next year. 

I might get another Supersonic plant next year, too.  It's still producing well in spite of the blighty conditions.  Most all my tomatoes have been ugly like the one in my hand here.  Probably that has something to do with the drought and my occasional watering.  Anyhow, I've put a dozen quarts of tomatoes in the freezer and we've eaten more tomatoes this year than any two people should consume.  I'm not complaining.

Below is another thing I knew would happen, but went right ahead and did it anyway; I put the sweet potatoes too close to the tomatoes, so their vines are climbing right up the tomato cages as if to swallow them.

I won't talk about the rain that is supposed to be coming in the next few days.  If we get it, it will be the first rain in a long while and I'd have to chalk it up as a miracle.

I am VERY thankful that we're getting a cool spell.  This week is the first one in a while that we haven't had a single doctor's appointment.  I could hardly believe it when I looked at the calendar.  Next week though, Cliff has two.  He'll go for his MRI on Wednesday, then see the ear doctor on Friday.  The MRI will be done in Independence at three o'clock, and I have a gift card for Longhorn Steakhouse from the grandson and his girlfriend; Longhorn in Independence opens at four P.M.  

Coincidence?  I think not!  

Enjoy your day.  I'll try not to wait so long between blog entries like I have been doing.

Monday, August 08, 2022

I am seldom busy

I am in the time of life when I'm seldom busy... unless I'm doing something I love to do, like gardening.  I can procrastinate, or even refuse to do the housework most folks considerate necessary.  For the most part, I only do what  I want to do.  

But last week seemed like a marathon to me.

Cliff had two appointments with his ear doctor to get him on the way to having a cochlear implant; he has other appointments coming up, including an MRI in a couple of weeks.  I had an appointment to get my Medicare annual checkup, and another to get a haircut.  Not to mention I had to get ready to stand in for the Methodist church pastor Sunday, then run to a family reunion as soon as I was done with that.  That church service is from 9 to 10 AM, so we had plenty of time to get to the reunion.  Of course I had to get a couple things cooked to take in my slow cookers, so that was a bit of a rodeo... but I am always an early riser.

What's this you say?  You had to stand in for a preacher?  Ah, therein lies a tale.  I won't be getting a preacher's license any time soon, trust me.

Two weeks ago, Jeremey was preaching a sermon that used Jacob and Esau as an illustration.  I love the people in the book of Genesis because they have all have the same sort of faults we still have today; the only guy in Genesis that seemed to do everything right was Joseph, but then he did seem to be overly proud of his coat of many colors.  Anyway.  He got to the part of the story about how the twin brothers were so different.  Esau was hairy, Jacob wasn't.  Esau liked to hunt in the big outdoors; Jacob stayed in the house and cooked.  When Jeremey got to the part about Jacob staying in the house, he paused a bit and something came over me, because I blurted out, in my outside voice, "...Yeah, with his momma."

It's a small congregation, so I didn't feel too out of place for helping him with the story.  He just exclaimed, "Yes!  He was a mama's boy!"  

When I got home and told Cliff about it, I said, "I hope he won't ask me to preach next week, after my outburst."   Joking, of course.

The next week I walked into the church and took my usual seat in front of my friend Patty.  Jeremey was visiting with some folks, but excused himself and came and sat down beside me, looking at me with a cheshire cat smile like this:

He said, "I have a question for  you."  Thinking of the conversation I had with Cliff at home, I jokingly said, "You aren't going to ask me to preach, are you?"

Imagine my surprise when he said, "Yes, would you?"

"No way," I said.  "I'm no preacher."

The man pastors two congregations, and the larger church, at Odessa, needed his help for a project during their city's three-day annual fair.  He had called everyone he could think of who could stand in for him, and they weren't available.  He said, "Even if you just sang three or four of your songs, that would be all right."  He sounded desperate.

"Well," I said, "I could probably do that and maybe tell how I came to write some of my songs and read one or two of my poems."  (As I said, the congregation is really small, and I'm not afraid of making a fool of myself in front of those nice people.)

That made him happy, and he thanked me profusely.  Then I remembered the reunion, and said, "Wait!  I have a family reunion next week!"

What could he say, except to tell me he understood.  But then I realized that church service is always over by 10 A.M., and we only had a little over an hour's drive to the state park where we hold the reunion.  And I knew with my little program, we'd be done well before 10.

I hadn't practiced much; my guitar strings need changing, and my throat was a little raw because I have to yell at Cliff so much to be heard.  I messed up singing three different times, but it didn't make me a bit nervous; they are my people!  They liked the stories of how certain songs came about, and one lady said she liked my honesty.  A fellow about my age carried my guitar out to the car where Cliff was waiting for me and said, "You and I have a lot of things in common."  No, he wasn't hitting on me.  His lovely wife was there!

I'd do it again, as long as it isn't more than once a year.