Thursday, July 23, 2015

PSA: Driving Etiquette/ Turn signals

Perhaps just too much is going on in my normally placid life.
I went to visit my friend Cindi this morning- her birthday is tomorrow, and I wouldn't have another opportunity to see her until we return from getting our intrepid trail hikers.

I found myself on a stretch of highway through town- a big ol' white truck ahead of me. It's not only going slower than the speed limit by a great deal- it is slowing down. Slower, slower... what is going ON with that? Then, brake lights, and the guy turns right, into a construction site. Oooo-Kaaay! Now I know why he was going at a strolling pace down the highway.

But I would of known sooner, and not been left wondering... and perhaps even been afforded an opportunity to pass, had the driver used these little devices that come standard on every vehicle in the USA these days. The little thing called a "turn signal". When someone uses a turn signal properly, other drivers don't have to wonder about your intentions. "Oh, he is going to turn RIGHT at the construction site!"

Turn signals are usually found on the steering column. The "Steering column" is that post that the steering wheel is attached to, that disappears through the dash of the car. "Turn Signals" look like small rods protruding from either the left or right side of the steering column. Depending on which side your turn signal is mounted on, you tap it from the top to indicate you plan to turn one direction, tap it from the bottom to indicate the opposite direction. The tapping of the rod, either up, or down, will activate a blinking light on the exterior of the vehicle. In most cases, the turn signal cancels itself out after you have completed the turn. Not only should you indicate your intention of turning, you should also use these clever devices to let folks know you plan to cut them off. (AKA "change lanes").

Here in the south, turn signals are no indication one does, in fact, intend to turn or change lanes. Often, the blinking light you see on an approaching car simply means that the "turn signal" was activated before the car was purchased, and the driver has no clue it is even on. (If you do not actually witness a person's turn signal being activated, never assume they do, in fact, plan to turn. This lack of assumption may save your life!)
If you are unfamiliar with the "turn signal", please take a few minutes to explore them on your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is in "Park" (the big "P" on the control indicator.) Start the vehicle. Locate the rods protruding below the steering wheel. Try tapping the rod up. Exit the vehicle, and you should see a blinking light on the front and rear of the vehicle, on one side or the other. Tapping the rod downward once will cause the blinking to stop. Tap it down again... and the blinking light will appear on the opposite side of the vehicle!
USE the turn signal EVERY TIME you plan to turn or change lanes! It is a simple courtesy that could save your life.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I would rather not set a new record on bad years...

2012 has my permission to hold the all time title for the rest of my life.
But this week is stacking up as a Very. Bad. Week.
My BFF Angie's daughter Katrina was killed in a car accident Friday morning. Trina was 21- would of been 22 in November.
My friend of the past 11-ish years, Cindi. In the past 2 years: Lung cancer, double bypass on her heart, bleeding ulcers almost bled her out, brain tumor... she has fought a hard battle. Turning from atheistic views, to believing God MUST have a plan for her... and this week learns the cancer is not only back- but is at stage 4. Her life expectancy is: "Longer if she keeps fighting". I got the call from a mutual friend on our way to Kathie's birthday party Saturday.

My Mom got a call on her way to the party. A good friend of her and Ralph, who has been bounced around the doctors who have given him several incorrect diagnoses the last few months... collapsed with what is now said to be a cancerous tumor on his spine. One doctor said even if the tumor is a benign cancer, the spinal damage is already done and he will remain paralyzed. (On the good news side- he wiggled his toes, there is hope for recovery!) (Steve)
Saturday night Mom got a call from her brother in California- their niece's son was found passed away in his bed. (Debby)

My cousin Jeanie was unable to attend Kathie's party... her husband Ronnie had a "mini stroke" and is in the hospital.
My former DIL's Mom is in the hospital with a severe stomach inflammation. (Lynn)
A niece, and a former sister in law have both been in the hospital the last week with blood clots in their legs. (Susan) (Cami)
DIL Paula requests prayers for healing of kidney issues.
Kathie's cousin (Judy) is having rejection issues with a heart transplant.
So, my prayer request list is rather lengthy.
Kathie had a good turn out for her party. Thank you to all who came, and all who sent cards. We know there are very valid reasons many who would of liked to have attended, could not. For those of you who MEANT to send a card, it isn't too late... her birthday is another week off. You have time to mail a card!
My mom and I had a few chuckles. I am becoming more my Mom every day. First of all, we both brought a few party decorations. We did NOT duplicate one another. However, we did exactly co-ordinate colors... turquoise blue and shades of purple! I had bought balloons, she bought crepe paper. And they MATCHED. This was NOT discussed beforehand.
This morning, I got up and got dressed. Mom arrived at Dad and Kathie's a short while later. Mom and I were wearing coordinating peach colored shirts... matching sneakers (same brand and color), and we both had matching boo-boos at the same spot on our legs. Totally unplanned.
We had a great time getting to see Becky and Tommy, Becky's kids, and Connor and Alana. (Our hopes for seeing Gavin were dashed once again.)
Jaffa looked quite unhappy at being left behind for his visit with his "grandparents". But he was following my Dad around all afternoon, and his "uncle" keeps sneaking him treats. He is going to be spoiled rotten!
Another week, we will be Maineward bound!

Friday, July 17, 2015

So many plans, so much to do...

and then, suddenly, you can't do anything but cry.

My best friend for more than 32 years lost her youngest daughter in a car accident last night. I have known Katrina since (before!) she was born.
Grief and pain overwhelms me. I'm sure some degree of PTSD- My heart just hurts.
I know there is nothing I can say that will help Angie, nothing anyone can do but be there as she walks the hard road ahead.
Please be praying for Angie Brown and the rest of her children.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Gardening to the Min! (Not Max)

This year's garden has been very minimal here. At my insistence, Mr C planted more tomatoes than he normally does. We seldom have enough tomatoes to can. He planted corn TWICE... and we have like, five stalks come up, total. One wee row (maybe 6 feet?) of pole beans, a wee row of peas. Then about a dozen bush bean/ runner bean plants where the corn didn't grow.
He planted two bell peppers, four jalapeno peppers, and two "cayenne" peppers. The one jalapeno planted in a container is still alive. The other three all fell over/ were uprooted by high winds and too much rain. One bell pepper plant lives. The "cayenne" pepper plants- they are producing EXTREMELY hot peppers that are some 10"-14" inches long. Very pretty peppers. Oh, and squash. Of the six or so zucchini that came up, we have had maybe six to 10 squash off of them. The half dozen yellow squash plants have been profoundly prolific. After purchasing and eating a spaghetti squash, I planted a couple of the seeds. One squash plant came up, and is fixing to bloom!

The blight hit the garden again this year, despite the precautions we took. The tomatoes are fading fast, but we are harvesting a decent crop as the plants deteriorate. Today I brought in 30 tomatoes... including a number of green ones that had fallen from the vines. In the pressure canner at the moment, I have five pints of green beans, and two pints + four half pints of "rotel" tomatoes. Once the fire is off beneath the canner, I need to make a fast trip to town for some supplies. The next batch of goodness will be some lovely green tomato relish. This stuff is perfection used as a sauce over chicken cream cheese enchiladas.
Yesterday, I made our first batch of fresh salsa. I used ONE of the "cayenne" peppers, and it about set my mouth on fire! I haven't 'canned' salsa in more than 10 years... it is so much better fresh! But maybe I shall give it a whirl Monday or so. (Too busy in the meantime!)
I think I have "put up" at least a dozen jars of green beans from our little plot. I have frozen what squash that comes faster than we can eat it- and I have been serving a LOT of squash! I used the THM (Trim Healthy Mama) recipe for cauliflower pizza crust, but used squash instead. It is a "keeper" recipe!
Meanwhile, I have been continuing to "forage" the roadsides, making several batches of blackberry jelly. I thawed and used some of the twins home made apple cider in an attempt at cider jelly. I think I got cider syrup instead, as I didn't follow the recipe. I feared it would be waaaaay too sweet if I used as much sugar as it was calling for. But apple cider syrup is great on apple pancakes!

For our very minimal garden this year, we have been very blessed by God's abundance!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Whoot! Got an extra day of work!

Friday afternoon, Staffmark called. They needed someone to "build boxes" Monday and Tuesday at Dayspring. By first break, my arm felt like it was falling off. I did discover a way to improve my speed. They had several extra people show up from different departments to help... so we ended up with only one day of work instead of two. But that was a day I didn't have otherwise. I ended up with four tape gun cuts and one box cut before the day was over. I joked that they were going to go broke keeping me in bandages!

I don't know why my brain goes off the reservation sometimes. Us box builders were shown to take the cardboard flat that was cut to shape. Fold in the short sides, and one long side. Tape across, and stack it up. The stacks of built boxes kept getting knocked over, so three of the others started stacking them in holding boxes. Once we had a number of boxes built, we went back and put four 6"x6" calendars in each box, taped the final long flab down, and set aside again for labeling. I timed doing it this way- how long did it take to process 50 completed/ filled/ ready to label units. Then I tried taking the flat cardboard, putting the 4 calendars in the center, and folding the cardboard into the box around it. ONE strip of tape to completion. I could do 50 units in 20 minutes... including a trip to the band aid dispenser. I skipped three or four steps. It used half the amount of tape. Worked myself right out of the second day's labor!

I got back the pants I had sent the twins. They said cotton was too hot, too heavy, and stayed wet too long. They failed to warn me to open the box outside. I may be airing the house for days! I best remember to take them clean clothes to wear in the car when we go get them... and have them at least sponge bathe before we get into the vehicle with them. The pungency of the clothes alone made my eyes water!

The garden caught blight again this year. We got very few zucchini, and the tomatoes are about done- we have been bringing in a good amount daily to finish ripening on the window sill. The last batch of green beans Tom planted are JUST starting to produce, while the first ones are about spent. I think I have canned six or seven jars of beans this year, and very few tomatoes as yet. The blight is causing green ones to drop- so I am thinking of making some of that wonderful green tomato relish this week.

I am up to 86 miles walked since the last day of May. I hope I have stamina enough building up to do the 2 1/2 miles from our camp site to Katahdin Falls! I understand it is almost straight UP the trail- climbing from 1106 feet to 1647 at the Falls, before the REAL climb hits for those headed to the top of Katahdin! (5268 ft!) Tom plans to go to the top, as will the twins. I have zero intention of going to the top.

Guess I best get busy here. I've got green beans and tomatoes calling my name. (Or calling me names. It's pretty hard to understand vegetable-speak.)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Yes, there was a tornado. Missed us completely...

I am guessing the tornado that hit Gentry (about 7 miles from us) was during the time yesterday evening when Tom and I were looking out at the pouring rain, and it was coming down so hard we couldn't see across the field to the neighbors' houses. Nothing to indicate a tornado here. We did get 2.7 inches of rain in 36 hours.

My tomato sauce ended up as pizza sauce. REALLY tasty. I made a THM inspired crust using cooked squash, coconut flour, eggs, parmesan cheese, and seasoning. When I mentioned the pizza to Sam over the phone, he said it sounded more like a casserole than pizza. Tom assured him, it was very much "real" pizza with crust. We were pleased. It also didn't leave us feeling bloated afterwards.

This is Friday, so my work day. Tonight, I am pretty sure it is beef tips on the menu. Of course, *I* will be making the fish, hush puppies, and chicken fingers.
I TRY to sleep in on Fridays. No such luck this morning. I was up before 6. My brain was humming with everything coming up the next few weeks.
Next Saturday is Kathie's party. We will be taking Jaffa down with us, and bringing Connor and Alana back. We are supposed to get to see Gavin while we are there. I hope we do! Connor and Alana are spending the coming week with "Uncle" Becky, and then leave for camp the morning after we get back from East Texas.

That week will be VERY quiet here- Jaffa staying at his grandparents house. (Shhhh! I think he is their favorite grand-dog!) I am sure he is looking forward to seeing his 'cousins' and Uncle as well.
I decided to put off final gathering/ packing for each trip for that week. I have been putting items in pre-staging areas as I think of them.

We will not much more than get back to here, when the twins are taking off for Zesch Trek. I haven't even asked where they are going this year. Seems the Pecos Wilderness has been the destination every year the twins have gone, thus far. But the Trekkers have gone to Colorado in the past. (Maybe some day they will come do the Arkansas mountains!)
While the twins head to Texas/ Trek, Ben and Paula are coming to see us!
Seems we are going to be busy EVERY weekend/ week from now until late August. (Starting tomorrow with a cookout/ baby shower at a friend's house.)
Yesterday was my step-Dad Ralph's 81st birthday, as well as my FAVORITE Son in Law Stephen's 29th birthday. Kathie's party is the 18th, but her birthday, as well as nephew Tony's birthday are actually the 27th. Before that, nephew Luke on the 20th, and grandson Tyrel on the 25th. (The 25th was also Tom's dad's birthday.)
Tom and I will have our 31st anniversary August 3rd. Looks like we could easily be celebrating it at Niagara Falls! Whoot- first time to do anything "major" on any anniversary. (Yes, I know it is simple coincidence we are doing anything at all this year. The anniversary just happens to fall in line with plans laid for other reasons.)
Have a blessed day, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

It's a rainy day, It's a rainy day! it's raining outside and I can't go out and play...

That was one of Bill Joe's favorite Sesame Street songs.
It IS a rainy day here. I am not sure when we last remembered to empty the rain gauge- but it had five inches in it just now, and it's a steady downpour. The radar indicates a long, long band of storms, crossing us mostly lengthwise.
So, I am not out walking today. Didn't walk yesterday or Monday.
I picked the garden yesterday, in the rain.
Today, I have my first tomatoes to do something with, other than just fresh eating. We have been having fresh 'maters daily for more than a week, but the abundance has now overwhelmed our daily use. I pureed a number of them, and have them cooking down in the wee crockpot. Seasoned up Italian, they may be pizza sauce tonight. Or perhaps spaghetti sauce. I intend to try a THM pizza crust made of squash tonight.
Our intrepid hikers have less than 350 miles to go to reach Mt. Katahdin! I was packing up a box of goodies to send them to sustain them through the 100 Mile Wilderness they will soon be reaching. I have the largest sized Priority Mail box full and sealed, and the smaller Priority Mail box within an inch or so of capacity.
Just trying to decide what to send to fill that last bit of space. Please pray for the guys as they tread these final, dangerous segments of the trail.
On the home front, things seem to be perking along regarding Kathie's 80th Birthday celebration. As a reminder, that is July 18 from 2-5 pm. If you aren't attending, I urge you to send a card. Contact me for information if you need it.
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Victorious Day?

This morning, we had pancakes for breakfast. Both girls gobbled them down. Alana and I went out and picked the garden- peas, green beans, and squash. We noticed the blackberry vines in the side yard were ripely laden, so we picked those. That sort of set the path for the day.
We put on the bug deterrent, remembered to take water and hats... and set out berry picking the local roads. Nickole quickly grew tired and opted to sit in the car. Alana and I found a LOT of perfectly ready bushes along the roadsides, and before long, had enough for a second batch of jelly.
We returned to the house, where Mr C had arrived for lunch. He had taken out the plates of leftovers from the week so far, and everyone got to choose what they wanted to eat. Nickole had a hot dog. Alana had brats and sauerkraut. Mr C had a brat and we shared the leftover wings. Everyone was happy... two meals in a row!
For the afternoon, the girls and I needed to can green beans, make jelly, and wanted to make some simple skirts. I remembered Alana and I had found some "fairy stones" on our hike earlier in the week. We also planned to make those into necklaces.
We started with the green beans. Alana and I had those jarred up and in the pressure canner in no time!
We dug out my craft tubs... and the girls found material they liked. But no elastic. The berries were cleaned and ready to go... and I realized we had no pectin.
Clearly, a trip to town was in order.
As soon as the beans were done cooking, we set off.
The girls each chose a new fabric for a skirt- not having to settle for what I had on hand. Alana chose Minions. Nickole chose Strawberry Shortcake,  "Because I love Strawberry Shortcake even more than I love my Mom... and THAT's a LOT". We got elastic.
Alana reminded me we had planned earlier in the week to do berry stained T shirts. So we grabbed a couple of white T shirts. I got the pectin... we headed home.
Sam had called while we were out... he needed me to get an overnight order in for some prepackaged "real" back packer meals before they hit their next long trail segment. I got that done... which delayed the doing of stuff here.
The berries were cooking down while I made Nickole's skirt. Then the girls decorated the white shirts with berry mash and blackberry juice. I got those hung out and supper on to cook moments before Mr C got home.
We had tacos. Nickole ate two. I was informed that they were a lot better than the AWFUL food I have been making her eat all week.
(Most of my kids and grandkids think I am a great cook. I can hear Nickole now telling her kids what a terrible cook her CowGranny was!)
So it was a successful day as far as food went with the Princess.
We finished supper, I got the leftovers put away, dishwasher reloaded. I got Alana's skirt started. Mr C put in a movie I found at WM I knew he would enjoy: Earnest P. Worrels Greatest Hits. It had a couple we had never even heard of.
Alana's skirt was complete. I brought the girls beautifully stained T shirts in, and tried setting the stains in the dryer before washing all their clothes.
(The washing turned out to be the undoing of the shirts :(
They just look dirty now- All their pretty patterns are faint grey stains. I probably bought stain resistant shirts or something.)
Before the movie was quite over, we did our necklaces. Nickole was bored and finished a simple necklace quickly. Alana took her time- both turned out nicely.
I am pretty sure we have everything gathered and cleaned up for their returns home tomorrow. They have their skirts, and jelly, necklaces, and T shirts. Plus Alana is taking home one of the jars of beans she did herself. (Nickole was NOT interested in taking beans home!)
It has been quite a week. Or almost week.
I'm still under the weather- probably would of been in bed the entire time if I hadn't started a bout of prednisone.
Tom and I have carbed out- totally NOT watching the diet. My walking was far less than it had been. So looks like we start fresh next week!

The shirts before washing

Alana and Nickole
Showing off their new duds!

It's all in the presentation....

The picky picky princess was not pleased with last night's supper, for the most part. After a quick post-swimming snack of heat and eat chicken strips, the girls settled in to watch a movie while CowGranny got supper started.
We were having chicken wings, kale with bacon, and grilled squash.
I expected the wings would be the only food Nickole would like- the kale and the squash being on her suspicion list.
The wings went into the rotisserie to get nicely browned and tasty. Really simple. Kale was washed and torn to bites. I cooked bacon in my cast iron skillet, pushed the bacon to the side, and quick cooked the kale in the hot bacon oil. I left out the onions and mushrooms I usually put into this dish. The squash I simply sliced into rounds, sprayed with cooking oil spray on a pizza pan. I seasoned lightly with garlic powder and smoked paprika, topping with tiny sprinkles of parmesan cheese. Then I grilled them. They looked like wee little pizzas!
Nickole protested the kale, but ate it after seeing I was right- it was already in her mouth and she would keep on having the taste in her mouth until she swallowed it. Took less than 30 seconds for her to eat her kale. (She didn't die.)
She asked what was the (squash). I told her they were wee little pizzas. She picked them up and ate them. Both of them. No arguments, no griping, no negotiating.
It was the chicken wing she protested. It wasn't a chicken strip.
 (I know, the chicken strips were at lunch. This is still chicken.)
 (She only likes WHITE meat.)
(A wing IS white meat.)
 (How is she supposed to eat the BONES? The BONES can choke you! )
  (You eat the meat from the bones and don't eat the bone.)
(She doesn't LIKE chicken!)
 (Yes you do, you asked for seconds at lunch.)
Alana finished her supper- including the squash, which she isn't a huge fan of- and was having cherries and ice cream for dessert.
(How come Alana gets to have cherries and ice cream?)
(Because she ate her supper. When you eat your supper, you can have some too, if you want.)
(I DO want some. Right NOW! I do NOT want my supper. I want ice cream!)
(That's not the way it works.)
Yes, she ate the chicken.
And she got ice cream and she got cherries.