Sunday, August 26, 2012

A special day

My dad owns a piece of property way up in a "holler" where we often gather for birthday dinners and holidays.

Today we celebrated my mom's, son-in-law's and twin nieces' birthdays, all born either today or tomorrow, with a big potluck dinner. 

Hannah and Eric brought our big boy Clay out for his first outdoor picnic. He handled it very well and seemed to enjoy all the new sights and sounds even though it was pretty hot.

What a special, special day it was to have Clay with us! 
I think his momma thought so too.  :) 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Contemplating some of life's greatest mysteries

The little ones have arrived!  I checked beneath the expectant mother this morning, and at least a half-dozen baby tomatoes have hatched. 

Both Mom and babies appear to be doing well. The father, alas, was nowhere to be seen. 

Aren’t they adorable? 

 OK, OK, I’ll admit I’m pulling your leg with these last two photos. 

However, the one I posted on facebook yesterday…

….was real. 

 These tomato plants were set in the ground in early May, and staked a few weeks later.  The plant must have been pretty good sized for a bird to risk building a nest sin it. 
I wonder if it had time to raise hatchlings before Big Bully tomato took over its nest?

Or did the bird grow wary of the growing green orb and decide to abandon her nest before even bothering to lay eggs? Poor bird.  She must have been so confused. 
Ahhh, the mysteries of life.  Some things we’ll just never know, will we?  ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Second cutting

Few things smell sweeter than freshly mown hay drying in the sun.
I love hay-cutting seasons, which kind of remind me of canning for cattle, except the preservation doesn’t go into jars but into gigantic rolls of dried grasses. 

There’s satisfaction in providing for the needs of critters as well as our families, and in knowing they’ll be well fed when the snow flies.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sweet summer, departing

Summer isn’t officially over, but I guess it may as well be.  Chelsea stuffed her little Escape with clothes and dorm furnishings until it was bulging at the seams, and now she’s off to college for another semester. 

I can’t think of a thing I’d rather she be doing, but I’m sure going to miss having her around the house. Before she left, she swung by Hannah’s—where I was baby-sitting Clay while his momma ran some errands—just to say “see ya, later.”  I snapped this cute pic of Clay and Aunt C-sea.

It’s pleasant, almost cool, here on the porch this evening—great hay-drying weather.  I think August and September made some kind of deal and switched places. We may pay up next month, but the break from heat and humidity is nice for now.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

An evening stroll through the countryside

These nice fall-like evenings are great for evening strolls past mown meadows, corn fields and the only tobacco patch on Station Camp Creek that I know of.

I like this picture of Clay getting pushed in the stroller by his daddy with Pappy walking alongside.  Clay is one fortunate little fellow to have such a tender, patient and loving dad, and he’s doubly fortunate to have an ol’ grandpappy who’s the same. 

They are so cute they way the hover over him and dote on him. Two old women couldn’t do it any better. 

I can just imagine the fun these guys are going to have as Clay progresses from stroller to little red wagon to big wheel to tricycle to pony to bicycle to 4-wheeler to pick-up…

 Shhhhhhh...don't tell Mommy. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ready for a new project

With the garden winding down and the end of the tomatoes and green beans in sight, my mind is roving for a new fall project to take on. 

Several rooms of the house could use a fresh coat of paint or some redecorating or rejuvenating of some sort. 

I picked up the latest issue of Country Living magazine today and scanned a few pages, which was just enough to stir some creative urges--some that don’t involve food. 

Few things inspire me like parking myself in the front porch swing with a glass of sweet tea in one hand and a magazine in the other.  Pinterest is great, but there’s something about turning real pages that gets me motivated. 

 I see ways of displaying flea market finds and wonder “now why didn’t I think of that?”  I see new paint colors and want to try them all.

I make lists of new projects I want to start—and finish—by the time our family reunion rolls around in early October, then I get side-tracked and have to do something mundane like pick beans or wash dishes.
Oh, well.  Dreaming is the fun part of any new project, and I’m pretty good at that. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bean talk

Sometimes it seems like I spend half my time talking about beans.  We sell beans at the farmers’ market, so I find myself explaining several times per market day the differences in goose beans, tobacco worm beans, greasy beans, etc.

Some of my customers know the differences in beans very well. Most of those who do are “getting’ on up in years” and have raised and eaten a variety of beans over a lifetime.

They teach me things about pole beans, ram horns and rattlesnake beans that I didn’t know, and I grew up listening to family and neighbors debate the merits of all kinds of beans.
Today I had a customer who drove all the way from Jackson County to get some goose beans.  She’s got a family member undergoing chemo who is requesting them, the only thing that sounds good to him right now.  Apparently the fellow used to grow them himself, but hasn’t been well enough to in recent years.

What is it with us hillbillies and our beans? Why do we love them so? Will I be requesting them when the grim reaper comes calling, or will I be begging for chocolate cake? 
It’s hard to say. 

Sometimes I get tired of picking beans, growing beans, stringing beans, EATING beans and discussing beans, but I know if I couldn’t do it, I’d probably miss it. 
Many of the older folks who come to market speak longingly of the days when they were able to raise a big garden. 

If there’s one thing you learn about gardening, it’s that there’s a season for everything, and seasons don’t last long.

                                              looks like this

after two or three days of intermittent sunshine and a few hours in the oven.  We call them shuckbeans.
Anyone know why? 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sweet relief

The past couple of cool evenings have been such a relief from the humidity of the past month, but it’s still hot in my kitchen.  I’ve made biscuits, dill pickles and pesto today, and I’ve got shuckbeans drying in the oven. 

Hubby and I planted broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and lettuce this afternoon too, so I’m ready for a break and a meteor shower.  I think a cup of hot tea would be good with that.

Good Saturday night all!
The photo?  Just because I think it's purdy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Robbing bees is a sweet experience

I mentioned Buddy the Beekeeper in last night’s blog.  When I visited him yesterday to get photographs for the paper, he showed me how he “robs” his honeybee hives. 

He lights a small fire in a can with a spout containing some cotton, then he waves the smoke over the bees after he pulls the lid off the top of their hive.  The smoke is supposed to calm the bees, but they swarm quite a bit, and Buddy gets stung right away.  I take a few steps backward, careful to move slowly and not attract their attention. 

Buddy checks each of his six hives and doesn’t find a lot of extra honey until he gets to the last hive.  He pulls out a frame filled with a honey-laden honeycomb. 

He asks me to step closer and hand him a brush to sweep the bees from the honeycomb.  I do, not without some trepidation, and a couple of bees buzz around my head.  He places the frame in a dishpan to catch any drips of sticky goodness that might escape the comb and hands it to me. 

I back away with a bee buzzing in my hair, but it doesn’t sting. 

A few feet down the path Buddy has mown around his hives, I swipe my finger across the comb where it’s oozed a few drops of clear golden honey and taste it, all danger forgotten. 

So sweet and good it is—maybe worth getting stung for, anyway.   I’m a happy girl when Buddy says I can take the honey home that “we” harvested. I see hot homemade biscuits in my near future. 

I leave Buddy the Beekeeper’s house with a new admiration for the bees that work so tirelessly to turn flower nectar into both honey and comb. 

I feel a little ashamed for robbing the bees, but know that Buddy won’t take honey from the lower brood boxes; he’s always careful to leave enough to sustain the bees through the winter.  

I leave with a new respect for Buddy too, who’s been “foolin’ with bees” ever since he was a kid. The food chain is utterly dependent on these industrious little critters who pollinate the plants that produce much of what we eat--and the people who still keep the bees. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The beans are finally coming in

Whew!  It’s been another busy day.  I re-photographed a bee-keeper friend today that I interviewed for the newspaper a couple of weeks ago. For some reason the photos I took that day simply vanished off the memory card. 

However, this trip I got to see him actually rob the bees, which was fun—but I’ll write more on that later. 

By the time I got home it was already hot, and I still had beans that needed to be picked.  The first row I tackled was planted in bunch beans, the kind that grow close to the ground, and they aren’t much fun to pick when it’s hot.

I also picked another large bucket full of tomatoes and canned more juice while I cooked supper. 

After we ate, Robin and I picked goose beans until dark. Goose beans are great big beans, much easier to pick and string than the ones I gathered this morning.  They are a good meaty heirloom variety. 

We’ve been promising customers at farmers’ market that beans would be here soon, and they finally are, thanks to some good rains and a little bit cooler temperatures.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tidbits of the day

Tidbits of the day

After slaving over a hot stove half the day yesterday, the girls and I treated ourselves to a day of shopping in the big city today. 

Chelsea had birthday money burning a hole in her pocket, and Hannah needed a day of retail therapy.  Kayla, my niece, joined us, too, as she usually does for our annual shop-and-dine-for-Chelsea’s-birthday event. 

It’s funny, without planning to, all four of us ended up in the baby section of the stores at the same time. This happened twice.  Just proves little Clay-bug is never far from our thoughts! 

But we had fun, and I actually bought myself a couple of new things to wear, which doesn’t happen often.

I know, you can tell. 

Anyway, the store I wish could bring to Irvine—and wish I could afford to do ALL my grocery shopping from—is the Good Foods Co-op and CafĂ© on Southland Drive.   

I like that the store is pretty small and that it smells like grocery stores used to—more like real food, I guess. 

To top off the day—Misty May and Kerri Walsh won the gold medal in women’s beach volleyball for the third straight Olympics!  We saw it happen all three times, and I got a little emotional to think the old gals don’t plan to be back in 2016. 

Maybe they’ll change their mind before then—they definitely looked tough!

Too pooped to post

I missed last night’s blog entry—was just too pooped to post. 

After a busy day, I transported a bushel and a half of tomatoes to Hannah’s where we pureed and juiced those beauties into nine pints of spaghetti sauce, seven quarts of homemade “V-8” juice, (three of them spicy), and seven quarts of plain tomato juice. 

Believe me when I say we made a huge mess, but the end result was worth it, I think. 

Chelsea and I stayed to help give Clay a bath, which was just icing on the cake of a real sweet day. 

He handles his bath like a champ, just like his momma handles his bath like a champ. Bath time with Clay is a bit complicated with his trach and g-tube.    

He looked and smelled so sweet afterward, and was so bright-eyed and playful—well, this ol’ nana didn’t get home until 11:00 o’clock. 

By the time I unloaded the car, I was too pooped to post.  Now you know. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Clay's first visit to Nana and Pappy's house

This is what it looked like on our 9-month old grandson Clay’s first visit to Nana and Pappy’s house!  He came to help us celebrate a special Aunt C’s birthday. 

We won’t be forgetting this day for a long time, as our little guy was quickly surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who have been rooting for him from the very beginning.

 What a sweet sight!   

Sunday, August 5, 2012

These are the moments

Twenty years ago today I gave birth to the second of our sweet daughters.

In the first few hours of her life, Chelsea revealed to us several clues about her personality.  She was quiet, observant, even contemplative, as she absorbed the bright new world she'd been born into. 

She spent a good amount of her first hours looking her momma over good—like she couldn’t quite figure me out. 

She still does that sometimes. 

I couldn't imagine, back on the day when she was born, how close we'd be, what good friends we'd become. 
This birthday, the one that marks the end of her teenage years, has been a bit bittersweet for me.  It’s a joyous occasion, of course, because I’m so proud of the young woman Chelsea is.

On the other hand, I could just bawl because the past two decades have passed too swiftly.  Children ought not to grow up so fast.  Parents shouldn’t age so quickly.  Time could slow down just a little bit, couldn’t it? 

Despite my wishful thinking, I know it won’t.  That’s why these are the moments we treasure—and the ones I’m so very thankful for.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer in a jar

I always think of homemade tomato juice as the essence of summer distilled in a jar: sweet, hot and thick as August humidity.  

This year though, my girls and I are preserving special memories while we can up our garden produce. 

Sweet memories of working and laughing together, doing something I’ve always loved, which they are now acquiring an appreciation for.

We note the good smell of tomato steam rising from the stove.  We comment on the beauty of bell peppers and ripe juicy tomatoes as we peel and dice.

We converse with the little guy watching us from the living room, where he lies in the floor on his “kick and play” mat. 

The fact that he’s in his parents’ living room instead of the NICU where he spent the first eight months of his life is sweet beyond words. 

He “talks” to us around his trach, delightful sounds that keep us smiling while we work.  We pause every few seconds to “talk” back, and make faces at him. 

One or the other of us is back and forth every few minutes to change a diaper, suction his trach or just play a while. 

It takes us all afternoon to fill a few jars, but I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Sometimes I come across birds' nests that have fallen to the ground after a storm. I always pick them up and stick them in a pot of flowers or, in this case, on a wreath.
During the course of the summer, I've found a feather from a blue jay, the shell of an egg that has hatched, and a shiny earring. I put them together for this little vignette.

Isn't it sweet? 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sweet is...short summer showers

This month's Nablopomo's theme is "sweet," so I'm going to see how many ways I can define sweet... the moments, the sights and sounds, maybe even the tastes, but sweet is so much more than a flavor.

While I was brewing my coffee this morning, I noticed dark clouds gathering off to the west. Now where did those come from, I wondered.

I'm almost certain that when I checked the forecast last night there was a 0 percent chance of rain. But I soon heard thunder, then the gentle drum of raindrops on the roof.  For about 10 minutes, maybe less, we got the sweetest little summer shower.

I grabbed a cup of coffee and went out on the porch.  I breathed the sweet smells of damp earth and wet grass and watched narrow streams of water pour off the barn roof like streamers of tinsel.

I pray some of this on the drought-parched sections of the country.  Three weeks ago, we were arid as a desert too, but the weather pattern's changed and everything is lush and green as May again--and a sweet sight it is!