Sunday, September 16, 2018

Poetry

I have been looking for where I *thought* I had published Daniel's poem before on my blog. I couldn't find it.
So here is:
"Katahdin's Call" 
by Daniel "Folklore" Coder

The rain was cold. 
the wind was bold.
But my heart it told,
of a mountain to the north.
I had traveled far
 and nothing could bar me
 from the place I hoped to see.
The days I spent
 nor the miles I went,
 the cold, the heat, the rain.
From Georgia to Maine
the call was the same:
Katahdin come to me

When the trail turned dry
 my spirits ran high.
for the sun it shone
on the place I'd known,
the place that had called to me.
I turned then
to the places I'd been.
though all I saw
(for the trees were tall)
was a path scattered with leaves.

I could clearly see,
 despite all these,
 a part of me had been left behind.
With the people I met
 and the places I slept,
the towns, the shelters, the streams.
And I knew then what the call had been;

"From Springer true
 you have traveled through
mountains, swamps, and plains.
Despite it all that would have you fall,
you pressed on and on to see
 a mountain to the north,
a mountain that had called to thee.

"I am a call to all,
 who would see it all
from Georgia's pines
to Maine's shore lines
and everything in between."

I turned then,
and started again
up to Katahdin's Sign.
and I wondered then,
 if ever, when?
 I would come this way again.



********************
This is how it is saved in my computer. It has been re-written and worked on some, so I don't know if this was its last form. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Winding down the summer

It is almost the middle of September, and I am SO ready for the first hard frost. Kill the ragweed! Kill ALL the ragweed! I will hate saying goodbye to all our good garden produce, but it's terrible trying to breathe through the pollen fog.
Yesterday was my grandson Gavin's 12th birthday, and my brother Robbie's birthday. (I think he is now a double nickle!)
Coming up soon is the Taylor Family Reunion. This year it will be at the Cypress Campground Pavilion at Beaver's Bend State Park. A potluck lunch will be held around noon, followed by the annual auction fund raiser. It will be a silent bid auction.
I plan to be there! It will also be a great time to wish my Mom a happy 75th birthday- her birthday is Oct. 4th.

One day last week, I just couldn't stand our bathroom any more. The zillion holes in the plastic coated wall panels.



The industrial steel towel rack.

 The grimy, horrible sink that I just couldn't scrub clean. I jumped into a bathroom mini- makeover.

 I primed and painted. On a trip to get paint, I found a brand new faucet on clearance... I had intended to get a new faucet when I got a new sink, and had priced their least expensive at $28. That was for the nickle plated twin to the one here. The clearance faucet was regular $89, and I got it for $22.
I needed sink measurements, so I didn't buy a sink- me wanting the off-white (bone?) and they only had bright white in stock.
I got home all happy happy happy! I spent the better part of two days priming and painting.
Mr C got home after I had painted, and asked how much longer it was going to take ~ He saw I had "primed".
Uh. It's painted. In two different shades, one is semi-gloss satin on the walls. The other is cabinet paint in gloss. He couldn't tell. And the colors were side by side on the color card, so they ARE very similar. I called them light grey, but they are a very pale green. And he wasn't thrilled about the faucet. And he doesn't want to replace the sink... He scrubbed all the grime off it for me.
 I said I was OK with not getting a new sink if he could get this one clean. Well, it's clean.
 (Why didn't *I* think of using heavy duty scotch brite and a brass wire scrub brush? Hmm. Maybe because it's a PLASTIC sink?)
I spray painted my industrial steel towel bar and toilet paper holder. And the light switch and outlet covers.
My arm went into revolt, so I haven't finished my painting. I need to do the upper trim around the room, and the little triangles of wall above the panels. Probably two, half hour chores, as it will take two coats. But not until my arm is better, or someone else does it for me. I guess my new faucet will stay in its box until my scrubbed plastic sink grows so horrible even Mr C can't stand it. Myself, I am happy with the fresh coat of paint!


Sam is supposed to put in a new light fixture above the mirror, and replace the worn-out outlet by the window. When he has time. (So I just put the painted cover back on!)


Monday, September 3, 2018

Star Time Pondering

Last night, I went out for some much needed "Star Time". I sat in a camp chair as the first stars of the evening sky appeared. Layer by layer, the veils of darkness deepened the night sky, and I saw more stars.
It always makes me feel so insignificant, sitting out under the stars. Thinking about the workings of the brain of an ant, to the vast reaches of all the stars... places and things we cannot fathom! And God created it. All of it.
Sitting under the stars makes me feel connected. To those who came before me, and to those who will come after. My (how many times great?) grandmothers in Scotland, three hundred years back. The grandchildren my grandchildren will some day bear... They saw, and will see, the same stars, the same moon.
I saw a meteor streak briefly across the sky. How many people also saw it? Who else may have happened to be looking in that same direction, at that same instant the fiery stone burned through the atmosphere above? Maybe a few people. Maybe no one but myself saw it.

Like our own time here on earth, mortal beneath the stars- we are insignificant in the face of galaxies and eons. And yet, we do matter... and matter greatly to some people. Our unique selves touch and interweave with one another, marking our places for a little while.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Still scrubbing along!

Where have I been all month?
I have made several trips to East Texas this summer, trying to help my Mom with stuff since Ralph's surgery. He is finally on the mend, in Physical Therapy a couple of times a week. He's back to doing a few small things for himself, and trying to work on the yard a bit at a time. Prayers there are greatly appreciated.
On the 13th, Benjamin and Paula and their kids, and Paula's brother Eric came to visit. The very next day, Daniel, Sam, Ben and Eric all went on the annual Trek hike in the Pecos Wilderness of New Mexico. Paula and the kids stayed and visited with us. When the guys got back the following Sunday, we all had another week to visit here. I really got to get some great snuggles in on the grandkids. It was my first real visit with Milo. He was almost 4 months old- (he reached 4 months yesterday) and more than 18 lbs. He is one of the happiest babies I have ever met. He began rolling completely over while they were here, and getting his knees up under him in a prelude to crawling.



Jasher and Althea were a whole lot of fun. They are really smart, and loved to help with chores, from picking tomatoes to gathering eggs.
(At least TWO of my hens are laying, in addition to Speckles the guinea.)
 The garden has slacked off tremendously. I am still getting quite a bit of okra every day, and some of the plants must be approaching 9 feet tall. (That is okra in the picture behind me).
The new squash plants are starting to put on squash- I should be harvesting some tomorrow. But one entire row is dying. We have no explanation. The new crop of green beans is blooming, so I ought to have beans in a few days.
And I wasn't kidding in my title, that I am still scrubbing along. I still haven't figured out what to do about pantry storage. The original pantry has been cleaned, inventoried and re-organized.
The last couple of days, I have worked on my closet. It has been a pit of despair. Now, we can actually get into it and find what we need. And I have room left to maybe store some (pantry) stuff.
Today's project will be the "outside" fridge, which will segue into defrosting the deep freeze. The "outside" fridge isn't really outside... it is in the well house. With all the okra and squash I have been freezing, the defrost should of been done months ago. But it wasn't.
I have been trying to post more on the family cooking blog. I got my recipe up for Fried Green Pickled Tomatoes! They are wonderful.
That's all for now. May your day be blessed beyond measure!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Canning count!

Today is August 3rd, 2018.
Tom and I have been married 34 years. Happy Anniversary, Mr C!
I noticed last night, the *sturdy* shelves in the hutch (behind the table) were beginning to bow. They were not full.
I had to take out all my jars, so I did a count while I was at it.
15 quarts & 40 pints of plain pureed tomatoes
10 pints & 9 half-pints of unsweetened green tomato relish
8 pints of sweet green tomato relish
12 pints of spaghetti sauce
12 pints & 1 half pint of Rotel-style tomatoes. (Rotel* is a licensed brand name!) Shall I call mine No-tel?
9 pints of salsa. (Salsa Not Hot Sauce!) (Family joke!)

This doesn't include several jars I used making chili over the past weekend. Nor does it count the jars of spaghetti sauce I sent to both my mom and Tom's. This is just tomatoes!
I found one quart of tomatoes unsealed, so will be disposing of those. One jar of No-tel from yesterday didn't seal, so that is in the fridge.
I re-stacked as many jars as I could on the base shelf of the hutch, but had to put a few back on the higher shelves. The needed pantry is becoming a priority.
*************
I have jars of jellies, bags of frozen peaches, okra, & squash.
The dehydrator seems to be trying to die on me. It is currently full of peppers. We have dried onions, tomatoes, squash, and herbs as well. The final component of our "Tri-pepper blend", the Tabasco peppers, are finally ripening, and I have a single tray of those among the peppers in the dehydrator right now.

I have okra and squash to deal with today, plus the remainder of the tomatoes I didn't get finished with yesterday. Today's pickings were comparably slim, so just MAYBE I can get caught up.
************
I am using my washing machine. The repairmen did NOT find a leak. (They surmised that either I was using too much soap, or the steam setting was causing condensation to form and drip down the machine.) However, they DID discover problems with my machine. Apparently the "mother board" has a mind of its own. No matter WHAT cycle you program the machine to use... it uses hot water. They have to get authorization (which they will, as it is a covered warranty issue) and order a new mother board. Then they will schedule a return visit to install it. Meanwhile...  it doesn't leak and I have laundry!  Which I best get to. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Stop Digging!

For once, I was right about a quote!
Will Rogers said, "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."
I have been looking around the house, which has become somewhat of a pit the last couple of months. First off, with extra grandkids, and no designated place to keep the stuff that comes with having extra people around.
To that, I added my garden preserving supplies. 10 months of the year, they are stored in one of the out buildings. But when I use them DAILY, they need to be more accessible. Garden produce leads to storage of food in bulk. Jars of fruits and vegetables need to be protected from excess heat, and from freezing temperatures. This was a problem last year with the small starter garden we had for our first year in the new house. THIS year... the garden more than doubled. My climate controlled storage space did NOT.
I am ready to stop digging.
I am playing musical cupboards. TOO MUCH STUFF!
Did you know I have a dozen large glass goblets? This would be great, if we actually used them to drink from.
Most of the time, we drink from canning jars. (Except during garden season... when we are reduced to drinking from the canning jars that have chipped rims.) The goblets are great for when we have company. (But we almost NEVER have company. And when we do have company, it is usually a LOT of company, and we use Solo cups. Sometimes recycled solo cups.)
I have plates. LOTS of plates. I have my grandmother's beautiful set of china, over 70 years old. I use that when we have big gatherings. Day to day, it sits on display.
For "every day", I have deliberately mismatched, heavy duty restaurant style stoneware plates, and a good sized stack of Corelle plates. (Also in several patterns.) More than four people warrant on a daily basis.



I have enough Campbell's Soup Mugs to start a soup kitchen.


I have probably three dozen assorted coffee mugs... and the favorite four sought after daily are from Dollar tree.









 I have bowls. Little bowls. Big bowls. Bigger bowls. Ginormous bowls. Glass bowls. Stainless steel bowls. Plastic bowls. Antique bowls. Cereal bowls. Bowls with handles. Measuring bowls, batter bowls. Bowls with covers.

Too much STUFF.
I have attempted to downsize the amount of my kitchen supplies. I no longer have seven kids at home. I get grandkids in the summer, but seldom more than three or four at a time.

Maybe I shouldn't grow such a large garden? Then the stuff in the cupboards could stay where it is. Maybe when the twins move out on their own, they will want a start of dishes?  (I know Daniel has said he wants his own SET of  dishes when he moves. Everything that matches and fits together in an orderly space.) For today, I think I will be taking a lot of excess to the storage building. If I need it, I will know where to find it. If you need it... give me a call!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Cleaning like My Mom

Yesterday, I Ping-pong cleaned. Bounced around from task to task, starting lots of things and finishing few. I did get the living room pretty well clean (except the boxes of toys), and four pints of tomatoes canned. I got the laundry caught up, using my solar dryer to great advantage.
The garden has been blessing us with so much good food, I am running out of places to put things.
Mr. C and I are discussing several options. One would be to move the washing machine and the dryer out to the well house, and turn the laundry room into a pantry. Drawbacks of this are carrying laundry in and out of the house and across the yard every time I need to do laundry, and we would need to install a water heater, 240 (220) electrical service, and a grey water dispersal system.
Another option under discussion is to tear out the built-in china hutch in the dining area of the kitchen, and build a bigger pantry in its place. The disadvantage there is mostly getting into said prospective pantry.
 As you may be able to see, the table has to be moved away from the hutch every time I need in it. The table also impedes through traffic to the patio door. The proposed pantry would go all the way to the wall where the plant sits, and come another 8" to 10" at the closer end above. To make it work, we may need to find a new home for the table.

For the present, I have to do the best I can with what I already have. Which brings me to cleaning and re-arranging. (I started writing this last night, but went to bed before finishing.)
I asked Becky where I should start on all the cleaning/ re-arranging that needs to happen. Then, I ignored her advice.
Not on purpose... I picked up something to put away... and the place it lived had other things in it, those things needed moved to their designated homes. Except, there were items that lived elsewhere in THOSE places.

It was a VERY nice day here for July, the high only supposed to reach the low 80's. A great day to clean the dust off the HVAC filters and wash the slotted door that covered the unit... which is in the laundry room.
The washable filters were hung on the clothesline and hosed off. The laundry room was already a mess, so I decided to start there.
Of course this meant I had to empty everything out of the laundry room.

 Because, you know... that's how I clean.
EVERYTHING out of the laundry room, except the washer and dryer, which I cannot carry out myself.
However, in sweeping between the machines, I found a microfiber cloth had fallen down behind the washer. I fished it out with the broom handle. It was wet.
NOT GOOD!
Instead of calling Mr C right away, I looked up the receipt of the washer. It was (of course!) out of original warranty by about five weeks. I did have an extended warranty plan! YAY! I called, and a repairman is scheduled for next Thursday.
THEN I called Tom and told him.


So, what did the rest of the house look like without anything in the laundry room? (So sure you want to know! I took the pictures and sent them to my Mom and Becky, as well as my DIL Paula... whose own house is  always an inspiration to me!)

Quite a mess, right?
 So many questionable items. Like, why do I still have cone coffee filters? I don't have a machine that uses them. And I cannot use aerosol air freshener sprays... the air borne particles shut down my voice in a matter of moments.

But this stack here... put together from a few here, a few there... We have 24 cans of bug fogger. TWENTY FOUR CANS. I usually have to fog at least a couple of times during the summer, with the fleas coming in on the dog, and with little fruit flies getting in through the screens. This is enough to fog the entire house, both inside and underneath (for spiders) THREE times.


I tossed some stuff. I think I am trying to overcome being an uber frugalist. I had to give myself permission to throw away several lengths of random string/ twine that turned up. All the zip ties that come home in Sam's pockets and get fished out of the washing machine get saved. All of the wee sprinkler head filters I find in Daniel's laundry get saved. The screw driver drill bits from Tom's pockets.
But mostly... earplugs.
This is a (re-purposed/ recycled) clear solo cup full of foam earplugs. My washing machine makes them. (The earplugs, not the solo cups.) I'm pretty sure it does anyway, as it gives me several every laundry day. And, since they have been washed, and are clean... I save them. (This gets really annoying when the cup gets overturned.) They may be worth as much as 11 cents per pair, new.
If we should ever have a grand party and the guests need slightly used but clean earplugs for whatever reason... I have them covered! (The solo cup has my grandson Connor's name on the side. He used it on his first visit to the house when we were moving in... over a year and a half ago.)

(I do NOT hold the solo cup frugality record. It was pointed out to my MIL that she was still using some of the same solo cups as she had used when the kids used to come visit during the summer. Her cups were being used over 20 years later!)

My cleaned up, re-organized laundry room. (I need a few more pegboard hooks.) My laundry detergent will actually live on top of the washer, but is going to stay in the cupboard until after the machine is fixed.
  Today... do I start with the lower kitchen cupboards... or the uppers? Decisions, decisions.  Pretty sure the lower ones will be the better choice this time. Guess I will get to it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Happy Place!

First of all, Ralph was released from the Critical Care unit of the hospital, into a rehab facility last night. Mom is getting him settled in. He is greatly improved over my last report. He has to be in rehab at least five days, including last evening.
I got all the grandkids passed on. Becky got Kimber and Dakota back, and took Nickole for a week. Gavin went home, deciding he had been away long enough. It is quiet, quiet, quiet here.
Not that I have had a huge opportunity to relax. The garden has been going strong, and I have been in full bore preservation mode. The fungal wilt, and beetles have hit the tomatoes hard. Several seemed beyond recovery. What do you do with heavily burdened tomato vines that are naked of leaves? The tomatoes tend to scald in the sun.

This was a great opportunity to make green tomato relish! I have used one recipe before, from "Farm Girl Fare", that I really like. It is sugar free- no sweeteners at all. I am also trying one today based off of a "Taste of Home" recipe for a sweet green tomato relish. Me being me.. I find it very difficult to stick to a recipe. The ToH recipe seemed like it had a tremendous amount of sugar in it... so I cut back on both the sugar and the vinegar in it. I added a couple of seasonings not called for in the recipe. In short, I made it my own, with their recipe as a baseline. Farm Girl Fare's recipe called for a boiling water bath. I am pressure canning them to ensure their seals. (I'm afraid of just using a boiling water bath on most things, though I do on my jellies.) The unsweetened green tomato relish is in the canner right now- five pints. The sweetened batch is cooking in my Instant Pot.
My daughter Becky and DIL Paula had both told me how much they loved their Instant Pots. (An Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker.)  Mr C got me one for my birthday. At the time, I thought it could be used for pressure canning. That is not true. One cannot use it to pressure can.
HOWEVER... it remains one of the handiest gadgets in my kitchen. I use it to cook the food to be canned. It doesn't heat up the kitchen, as it is well insulated. It can have temperatures adjusted, and timers set. It sautes, it slow cooks, it pressure cooks. It boils eggs that peel like a dream. I have even heard you can bake in them. It has been my handy-dandy daily helper in dealing with garden stuff. And then, when I need to cook supper and I am so worn out from all the harvest preservation... it cooks a meal in minutes.

Unsweetened green tomato relish

The garden has been quite prolific in pepper production as well. I have been drying and crushing the peppers as they get picked. Tom broke several overladen cayenne bush branches off... and I didn't want to waste THOSE peppers either, even though they were green. So I dehydrated the green cayenne as well. I kept them segregated from the ripe ones, and now have almost a pint of green cayenne flakes.  The Tabasco peppers are our hold up on making our tri-pepper blend. They aren't getting ripe as quickly as the others. Drying peppers as we go makes this an easy fix!
I have also been dehydrating other fruits and veggies, such as tomatoes, celery, and onions. Some of these will go into my own *Dash* blend. (Mrs. Dash is trademarked... as is Rotel Tomatoes.)
Dehydrated powdered tomatoes are like sunshine dust.
Anyways, here it is a bit past 1 in the afternoon. I WAS going to say I am *done* with tomatoes for the day. But I went to check on the second batch of relish in the canner... and saw the deck rail covered in RIPE tomatoes. I brought those in, and got to looking for my garden basket to set them in... I found it, half full of mostly ripe tomatoes. And the five gallon pail Tom uses to pick the produce has several inches of ripe cherry tomatoes in it. So... Not quite as *done* as I would of hoped!
Good thing I ENJOY doing this!


Friday, July 13, 2018

The best laid plans of mice and CowGrannies...


Ralph did well in his surgery. However, he has had a couple of setbacks, and remains in the hospital. He's been given several pints of blood. (Three, so far I think.) His blood sugar has been over 300+, despite insulin injections. (It has not been this high before). He is in "renal failure", and they now think he may have an unknown infection. Or maybe his bowels haven't awakened after surgery. At any rate, he remains in ICU. He is heavily sedated and back on the ventilator. So, please remember him and Mom in your prayers.
Mom did have my sister in law, Ruby to drive her to the hospital. But Ruby suffered the unexpected loss of her brother this week. So she has had to travel to Tennessee. Mom's been coping on her own.

Last Sunday, we were a Family on the Road. Nickole and I returned from East Texas. Daniel had been to West Texas, and as long as he was there, he brought Kimber and Dakota back with him. Tom drove back from Ohio. Grandchildren Connor, Alana, and Gavin all traveled TO Becky's house for a week. Those three are heading back to Oklahoma tomorrow, when I will take over Gavin for at least a week.
Tuesday, I will travel with the four Grands I have back down to East Texas. Tyrel has Kids For The Nations Camp in Dallas. It is closer for Becky to spend a few days visiting with my folks than driving back to West Texas, then coming back to Dallas for Tyrel. (Plus she gets to visit family!) So I am taking Kimber and Dakota back to Becky. We have a one day overlap to visit. Not certain yet if Nickole will come back with me or go home with Becky. Thursday, we all abandon Mom (Rose) again. (Ralph still won't be HOME, as he is going to have to go into a rehab center for a few days first.)
My old faithful pressure canner died this week.
 It would not release the seal. At first, I thought it was just *me*. But Daniel is quite strong, and HE tried and tried to open it was well. I got a mallet, trying to force the lid to turn, and only succeeded in breaking the handle off and loosening the rivet holding the handle in place, allowing pressure to escape around the rivet when I later tried to bring it up to pressure. The lid finally unsealed when I got the canner hot again. But by then, I had broken it. I ordered a new canner... from Amazon. T-Fal 22 quart. It arrived moments ago. May it serve as long and as faithfully as my old one. (I have had it at least 25 years. It was mom's (or Granny's?) before that, and had been used for years and years. The company is out of business and parts are hard to come by!)
So I am about to get busy canning this afternoon. I have been bringing in at least 8 lbs. per day of tomatoes. Some days even more! The wonderful Kellogg's Breakfast Tomatoes weigh more than a pound EACH. Some weigh over a pound and a half. This afternoon, I did fresh salsa using JUST the KBT. (Plus our home grown onions, cilantro, and jalapenos, and store tomatillos, lime juice, salt and garlic.)
Our okra is just starting to produce. I got a handful today, but can see I will have a good crop by tomorrow. "Granola" was right... my cherry tomatoes are being kept in good check by Becky's girls, particularly Dakota! I am selling squash twice a week to the wooden spoon, averaging just over 20 lbs. total per week. Not including all we can eat, and me freezing or dehydrating so much we probably won't use it all this year. However, it IS slowing down. (Time to replant! Growing squash is like growing money!) Maybe I can talk Mr C into an acorn squash, and perhaps a pattypan for fall. It isn't too late for pumpkins, I don't think.
Anyway- these tomatoes aren't going to preserve themselves. Have a blessed day. Thank you for reading.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Changed plans... still waffley

Mr C left for Ohio without me this morning. Since I am not going along this time, neither is Nickole. His vacation will be more like an actual vacation without being in charge of a needy child.
Instead, I will be going down to Texas in a few days. I will be taking care of the garden in the meantime. This won't put the entire burden of the place on Daniel and Sam all week.
  I know there are just a few of you who are 'regulars' among my readers. (My total "following" is about 12!) Most of you already know the reason I didn't go to Ohio this trip. For those who don't...
My stepfather Ralph has a birthday on the 9th. For his birthday ( 84/ 85th?) ... he is having open heart surgery. (Actually, the surgery is later this week, but he may still be in the hospital on his birthday.) A good number of years ago, he had stents put in his arteries to his heart. A recent check-up indicated he may have a blockage, so a test was scheduled. They were going to replace the old stents if necessary. It looks like the old stents ARE the problem. They had somehow twisted, or turned sideways (from our understanding of the docs explanation). They cannot be replaced easily, but have resulted in a 98% blockage on one side and a 99% blockage on the other. The only recourse is the open heart surgery. Due to his medications, the surgery wasn't immediate, but had to be scheduled for later time so he could be off his meds for a number of days. I am going down to be an official hand holder 😌 . Or maybe driver, as Mom will be stressed enough without dealing with traffic to and from Tyler every day.
It will also give me a chance to spend time with Dad and Kathie, after Dad's stroke and Kathie's surgery recovery. I will only get to stay a few days, due to garden obligations.
I was torn about what to do with Nickole. I know she was really looking forward to spending time in Ohio. I tried to think of some way to get her to Becky's for a visit... not wanting to cut Nickole's summer short. (More on that in a bit). Becky and Stephen are in the final push to get Doug and Nola's new house completed. In about a week, Connor, Alana, and Gavin will be headed to Becky's for a visit. With her five, adding three before they get moved to the "big house" is plenty, without adding Nickole in the mix. Last night, Nickole was out kicking the soccer ball around with Daniel and Sam. I went out to fill the hummingbird feeder, and caught a bit of Nickole's monologue. She was telling them that she 'really hoped she didn't have to go back home just yet, as it would be a big disappointment to her Poppo and to her Mom'. She explained that when she gets back, then they would have to take care of her. She said she 'knows they love her, but they really get tired of taking care of her all the time'.
So... She will just stay with us awhile longer. I may HAVE to have her and Gavin at the same time, though Mr. C was hoping to have them separately. Math will continue. She's improving, but not up to grade level yet. (This is where *no child left behind* sucks. You get promoted to the next grade without being competent in basic skills, such as addition and subtraction facts. If you miss out on the basics, there is no "catching up" in higher grades. You HAVE to HAVE a solid foundation to build on!) Nickole has gotten angry with me several times as we do flash cards, telling me she learned this in SECOND grade. I tell her that "Obviously you didn't", as she struggles with the math facts. (9+2= 10)
"No... try again."
 "IT'S 10! "
"Nine plus Two is NOT TEN. Try again." (Glaring, shrieking, foot stomping. Finally, finger counting and a puzzled look.)
"oh. it's 11. I MEANT to say 11."
I was talking to Arlene (Tom's Mom) about our adventures in math, and that I feel like I need to keep Nickole longer to try and get her up to speed in math, Arlene asked me, "Why you?"
I answered, "If not me, then who? Someone needs to take the responsibility."
We have told Nickole, as she struggles with the Khan Academy math tutorials, we will allow you to fail the math problems. You learn from making the mistakes and correcting them. But we will NOT allow you to be a failure. You are a failure when you give up and refuse to try.
So... the summer adventure continues. Not what I had expected. And since I really didn't have a solid plan, I can't say it isn't what I planned. But isn't that life?
Please be praying for Ralph, and for Nickole. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Jiggity Jig

Oh boy. I have not been feeling "great" the last few days. I decided this is probably a UTI. Tried the home remedies, then some commercial ones. With a trip on the horizon, I couldn't face a 13+ hour drive feeling like this.
So, $130.+ in Doc fees plus $20+ in antibiotics... I am waiting to feel better.

I have, as I said, not been feeling great. But grand daughter and I went to the library yesterday (Tuesday) none-the-less. Summer reading program. Afterward, I got her an ice cream cone at Sonic. (Didn't think to ask about what the Library SRP snack had been.)
Once home, I had *intended* to have grilled burgers for supper. But at the time to start the grill, we had some severe weather come through. Mr C called about then, so I asked him to bring home something else for supper. He did. We had fried chicken, and some "Becky's Green Beans".
Nickole gobbled up a chicken strip, and asked for more. I said Yes, as soon as she finished her green beans. (She had about 6). Half an hour later, I set the dreadful TIMER... finish your food in ___ (20) minutes or get MORE of what you're trying to avoid eating. (I felt 20 minutes was completely reasonable to eat 6 green beans.)
Green beans were eaten in the time limit, and seconds on chicken were ALLOWED (not forced). Three bites in, and she wanted to be done. I was unreasonable. Nope... if you want seconds, you should eat them and not waste them. (Or not take them at all, as I had pointed out when she wanted more). She finished the chicken. But then, the dilemma.
She wanted ice cream for dessert. I said, "Later" as she was obviously full. (She'd taken the better part of an hour on six green beans and two chicken strips). About 25 minutes later, she came and again asked for ice cream.
I was agreeable.  Since she'd already had a cone earlier, and had been reluctant to eat supper... I gave her a small amount of ice cream. Adequate for a taste of dessert- not stingy. She GLARED at me, and asked "What's THIS?" in her imperious tone. She told me she should get "at LEAST two scoops- one for every hour she had to wait after supper before I gave her ice cream!"
This did NOT set well with CowGranny. I snatched back her bowl of ice cream, and the dog had a nice treat.
Mr. C felt I was mean and unreasonable. He was outside during the high decibel screeching and raving that went on.  Since Mr C thought I was unfair, I have been questioning myself and my motives. I know I would of reacted the same way had any of my kids or other grands behaved like that... and maybe added immediate bedtime or a spanking. Mr C says I ought to have handled it differently. I ask you... what should I have done? I don't want to cater to a sense of entitlement. I'm not asking her to bow down and beg for every morsel she gets. Where is the course of action?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

First (official) Day of Summer!

Summer is here by the calendar! Nickole and I have been out picking blackberries/ raspberries this week, though we still don't have enough for jelly. They are just beginning to ripen.


No, we cannot "be done" picking berries. We have only been out here for 10 minutes.





The garden is going great blazes... at least with squash! I sold more than 5 lbs. to the Spoon on Tuesday. Wednesday, I picked four and a quarter lbs. more, and Thursday (today) another five lbs. We are eating as fast as we can, but I sure need to get a pile up to the Spoon!
I was looking for a recipe to use up onions, as we pulled ours from the garden this week, getting the final pile from the garden this morning. I had expected the ones in the garden to stay in the ground several more weeks, but they are DONE growing and were declining. This unexpected harvesting took place a few days after I purchased a case of Vidalia onions from the grocery store clearance. I have dried onions, had onion rings, fresh onion, cooked onion, and today I am making French Onion Chicken Stew for supper. It featured thyme as the primary seasoning herb. Hence, the shot of Nickole with "Thyme on her Hands"!
We are just picking 'first fruits' of tomatoes... I bring them in before they are 100% ripe, to finish up out of harm's way indoors. Seems like leaving them on the vines until perfect means that critters get our wonderful tomatoes. I can hardly wait to taste them!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Perking Right Along

We are into week two of Nickole's visit. She is still stuck on math- I think I have it narrowed to just a couple of things. She needs to have that instant recall of her basic math facts drilled into her head. And she needs to stop hurrying to guess an answer. She knows how to arrive at the correct answer. But then she writes down something other than what she has already (correctly) stated the answer to be. Pay attention to the details!
We are at our local public library for their Summer reading program. I'm not sure how much longer we will have Nickole, but we are trying to do fun (free!) things. We can't be running to town every day, so there is a lot we are doing at home. I had planned some berry picking for this morning, but we had early storms come through. I don't mind exchanging a few pints of jelly for some much needed rain!
The garden is doing great. In a few days, we will be harvesting squash. I put a batch of Thai basil into the dehydrator this morning, so the crop can keep growing. I have been craving some of the Thai Basil Chicken that Tommy (Stephen!) made for us when he visited last month. The deer have enjoyed our beans and beets- we got none for ourselves! They discovered my freshly bloomed and tasty cucumbers and ate those all up this week. The tomato plants are certainly heavily laden! I can hardly wait to start canning.
Mr C has "dispatched" FIVE raccoons over the past 3 days, trying to get to my chickens. They could LIVE out in the woods, eating all the bounty God provides. We wouldn't bother them at all. But when they mess with my chickens... they don't get to live.
I got my hair cut Saturday, at the salon where Nickole was having her acrylic nails removed. (This is my first professional hair cut since October of 2011. It is a longish layer cut. Still plenty of hair to ponytail, but I am able to brush it out myself.)
The manicurist took her time, gently filing off the acrylic nails. She didn't use the power tools. It took just short of 4 hours to get them all off, as they weren't the type that can be "soaked off" with chemicals. Nickole was a trooper, and made fast friends with the salon owner. The nails aren't permanently damaged, but the damages done in installing the acrylic nails will take several months to heal. DO NOT put acrylic nails on young children. To prepare a person's nails for the acrylic ones, a power grinder (like a Dremel (r)) is used to remove all but a thin layer of the natural nail. Sometimes, too much is removed. The acrylic is laid (glued) to the living "quick" of the nail bed. In a growing child, permanent damage can be done.
The manicurist says even gel polish is bad at this age- stick with the simple stuff.
(If you ever are in Siloam Springs and need your hair or nails done, call Studio 108!)
Nickole tried salmon last night, and said she liked it. She was unwilling to even give it a taste at first... but mean old CowGranny set a timer! Once tasted... the timer wasn't even necessary! (Tom grilled it with lemon pepper, and a squirt of fresh lime juice.) Her "pizza squash" was eaten without complaint, and she endured eating her coleslaw for the reward of ice cream for dessert. (I added the seasonings and parmesan one would find in pizza sauce to sliced zucchini, and grilled it along with the salmon.)