Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Grieving for Gatlinburg

It's just incredible the amount of devastation a fire out of control can cause in a few minutes.

Fire, warm and cozy when controlled, but terrifying when gone wild.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Something to rest your eyes against

I'm worded out for the day, so I'm posting a photo I took in the yard yesterday.
Frost is intricate and magical, all the more so because it disappears as soon as the sun beams down on it.
Hurrah for cameras!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas, coming soon

My cat had the right idea this afternoon...be lazy and think of the passing of fall.
It's time to put away the autumn decor and drag down my Christmas stuff, which I was too lazy to do this particular evening.
But I did think about it!
Is that progress?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

There are no words

Sometimes there truly are no words.
No words to adequately express our sorrow for the loss of a loved one, no words appropriate enough to say, I wish I could take away some of your pain. I wish I could bear some of it for you. I wish there was something more to do.
I wish I could say with confidence that you will be fine, and while I believe you will, ultimately, I know at the same time you are experiencing the absolute hardest thing in the world.
Sometimes words just aren't enough.
That's when we just cry together and hold on.
Hold on.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Amy's morning after pumpkin cookies

I was not disappointed. There they were, on the designated dessert counter-Amy's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. 
Although she and Greg and the girls went to her mom's for Thanksgiving dinner this year, she made several dozen extra of those wonderful cookies that she's been making every year since she's been in the family, I think.
She sent them to mom's, and there they were.  Hallelujah.
Amy has told me a couple of times that these unique cake-like pumpkin spiced cookies are from an old family recipe - maybe her granny's.
I half-heartedly asked for it once, but the truth is, I want Amy to make them every year from now on.
I want to always eat them with a cold glass of milk and some hot coffee the morning after Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Every time, I marvel at how she creates 8 or 9 dozen uniformly-sized, perfectly done- no blackened bottoms or gooey centers- cookies.
I just don't bake cookies like that.
Maybe I am too distractible, but every panful I pull out of the oven looks-ummm,  different.
These are the best pumpkin spice anything I've ever eaten.
Thanks, Amy!!!! :)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Blessings

I am thankful tonight for the feast, for my family, for the reminder of what is most important in my life.
After our big meal, Mom, Pam and I enjoyed a nice cloudy evening walk.
I enjoy damp cloudy days in the fall- we sure haven't had many of those this dry year.
The higher humidity creates a softness in the air. The colors of the landscape are soft too, the moody gray of the almost bare hills, the faded browns of the pastures punctuated with the occasional black frostbitten iron weed.
There's such beauty in these hills. I am thankful they are my home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

We'll live on and on.

I typically make the dressing to go with the turkey and trimmings at our Thanksgiving meal.
I begin saving leftover cornbread, homemade biscuits and bread, and even miscellaneous slices of store bought bread a few months before Thanksgiving. I store the bread in ziplock bags and freeze it.
This morning I pulled out those bags of bread and laid them out to thaw.
Tonight I crumbled the breads and will leave them to stale until morning, when I'll add celery, onions, sage, and broth before I bake it all up.
I  enjoy the ritual of making a dish for Thanksgiving from remnants of previous good meals and good times.
Today though, my heart is heavy, because we lost a wonderful friend and human being this morning.
He was far too young to die, not much more than 50.
With Alex and his family on my mind all day, I spent a good part of the day in the hoop house, pulling frostbitten plants and harvesting the green and ripe tomatoes that were still left on the vines. There were several buckets full.
I dragged a few armfuls of the pepper and tomato plants to the chicken yard. The birds seemed to really enjoy the late season "salad."
One could say the tomatoes have died, that they are done, spent.
But they really aren't. They will live on in those of use who have enjoyed their fruit.
They will become a part of the chickens and rabbits who had them for lunch.
And, they will live on in the seeds they produced. 
Does anything - or anyone- ever truly die?
We live on in our words and actions, and the way we treat people.
Our friend Alex left behind so many fond  memories and touched so many lives- for the better. 
He's one of those rare people that it is hard to think of something negative to say about, and I've known him and his family since we were kids.
The hubs and I have been reminiscing this evening about some of the good times we shared with Alex, Jackie and their kids- about the camping trips we took, the pictionary games played,  the gigglefests, the times we whooped and hollered over close UK basketball games.
Robin had a nickname for Alex. He called him McGuyver. Alex could fix just about anything, and he helped us with some projects around the house here, years ago.
He was particular about his work, and he was good at it.
There are so many memories we will always carry with us, and they are comforting.
But as I grieve for Alex's family while working around the house and in the garden today, I think about how the changes in the seasons teach us a lot about death, burial and resurrection. Every single year, we see evidence that the end is really just the beginning.
And that is an even more comforting thought tonight.
We will always feel our loss, especially those closest to him, but all is not lost, as hard as it is to feel that now. 
Alex lives on and on.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Punkin chunkin

It's about that time...time to roast some pumpkins and whip up something tempting from them.
Humm..I will have to get back with you on that. Can't hold my eyes open.

Monday, November 21, 2016

How much can our heads hold?

My husband comments on how well his dad remembers names, people, places from his childhood. 
I said it's probably because he doesn't have all the technologies we do to clutter his mind.
I forget a lot of things, but I do remember a day when I could concentrate.
I'd fly right through one book after another.
These days, I'm used to  processing lots of short bits of info, scrolling, ya know, but it's hard to stick with longer stuff.
I wonder where all this is leading.
Will people lose the ability to think deeply and carefully about matters?
Are we losing our marbles!?
My head feels like this tonight.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A week of Thanksgiving

Thursday, of course, is the official day for Thanksgiving, but any and everyday is a good time to be grateful.
I think an attitude of gratitude is the solution to many a bad mood. 
At least, it has delivered me from some of my own. 
Black moods, blue moods - all can be reversed with a spirit of Thanksgiving. 
There may be medical professionals who would disagree; all I can attest for is my own experience.
Choosing to be appreciative lifts my spirits and stirs joy.
Today I am appreciative of the freedom to assemble and worship, for brothers and  sisters in Christ with whom we can share a bond of fellowship.
I am thankful for health and home and family. 
I am thankful that we are called to extend our blessings to others, lest we should become cold-hearted and self-centered.
I'm thankful for long walks in fresh air with good company.
I'm thankful for the moments today when I was bathed in bright sunshine. I am grateful to have witnessed with my own eyes the flaming colors in the burning bush and the red oak.
It's been a golden day to just be alive-a gift.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Stripped, clean as a whistle

I accomplished a few things today I hadn't done for a while- I dusted, roasted pumpkins, and harvested peanuts - glamorous stuff, ya know?
Yep, we dug part of one row of the peanuts we planted waaaay back in May, I think it was.
Man! It's do much easier to buy them from the store. What was I thinking?
I put the peanuts in a basket to dry out for a few days, and I plan to roast or boil them, not sure which.
That was maybe the second time in my life I've helped with digging peanuts.
My daddy raised some way back when I was just a youngster...I don't remember much about them except I learned that Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer. 
No wonder he decided to run for president! 

I figured I'd better do something today with those cute pie pumpkins that have been decorating the yard-didn't want the freeze to get them.
I also saved the seeds and roasted those. It made me think of my daughter's second grade teacher for some reason. ..you know who you are. .;)
The dusting and vaccuming were pretty unremarkable, so I won't dwell on that.
Later, I diced some veggies from the garden and the store, sautéed them, then added some chicken broth,  rice and plenty of curry powder. It smelled so good!  And tasted pretty good too.
It was a fine day to be in the house playing domestic goddess, but when the sun came out, I was glad to get outdoors for a couple of hours of brisk fresh air.
The little rainshower we had last night - and the wind-- have stripped most of the leaves off the trees.
Today definitely had a more late fall/winter feel to it.
It's time though.
As I took a little evening walk,  I enjoyed how the light plays off the hills and sky across the road from us. 
I never get tired of seeing that.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Phhhhhhtttt.

I just don't have it in me tonight....been trying to knock out some pages of our big Thanksgiving issue and just got home.
Any creativity I ever had has been wrung dry, so this is going to be a short post.
Good night, I'm hitting the sack!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

So God made a farmer

I was privileged tonight to attend our local Kiwanis Club's Farm/City Banquet.
The two farmers and the one business recognized have all played a vital role in our community for decades.
I know one of the farmers better than the others, because he's my country neighbor.
He passes by our place two or three times a day as he goes to check on his own cattle, and, as he goes to check on his, he keeps an eye out for ours.
A few weeks ago while we were at work, a couple of cows and calves that we had just bought jumped over a gate and high-tailed it down the road.
Charlie saw the cows on the road and wasted no time to call around to let us know. Not only that, but he helped round the cows up in his barn lot, then offered the use of his truck and trailer which were right there handy to haul them home.
Just this past weekend a couple of our calves suddenly got sick. Several of the neighbor farmers flocked in to help, or at least lend their sympathies when they died.
That's the kind of neighborhood in which we live.
Our fine farmer friends literally look out for each other.  They are always eager to jump in and help, and it truly is a heartwarming thing to live in such a good hearted community. 
I am proud to have been in the audience tonight to see one of my good neighbors recognized, and it will be my pleasure to "write him up" for the paper. 

Some of these are the guilty runaway cows, but this is not my neighbor . This is my hubby, also a pretty helpful guy. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Getting things done

I've been organizing some papers, and in the process I got sidetracked looking through a notebook, one with lots of old to-do lists.
Just flipping through it, I was struck by how many to-dos got done over the course of the year.
Sure, there's a few things to carry over to my new notebook,  but we have had a busy year ...and got a lot of work done. I say we, because without my hardworking hubs,  my list wouldn't be nearly as complete.
It's a good feeling to accomplish things... motivates me to make new lists.
I am a very sloppy list maker, but if you search "bullet journals" on pinterest,
You will find that there are some fanatical list makers whose lists are works of art.
Mine definitely are not that, but they help me keep track of things.
I have found that the practice of doing a brain dump on paper before bedtime is a good way to keep from forgetting important things. It's freeing. Helps one  to sleep better.
Note to self: Drink lots of water.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Adieu, supermoon.

I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that there is only one more issue of the paper to print this month. Next week is Thanksgiving! 
We still have leaves on the trees. They are finally coming off, but there are plenty left.
People are decorating for Christmas, and we are still eating peppers and tomatoes.
I  am so not ready for Christmas commotions.
I did take a minute before leaving early for work this morning to photograph the super moon on her way over the horizon . 
Pretty spectacular,  I'd say. Kind of mysterious. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Notes on a long Monday

1) I want to eat lots and lots of crunchy foods when I get home at 10:30 at night after a 3 hour forum.
2) I don't trust anyone.
3) I feel a bit sorry for state officials who did not  ask for the illegal dumping situation any more than we did.
4) I have no control over the topics on which I will become schooled in the context of this job.
5)In other words, I can't ignore some issues, even if I'd like to.
6)I missed out on quality supermoon viewing tonight because someone broke the law.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The return of the white death

Despite the warning from the weatherman that temps would fall below freezing last night, I wasn't really prepared for them to plunge to 24!
I didn't walk around the yard and say goodbye to my blooming plants before the frost came. I didn't pick a few to enjoy inside just a few more days.
I didn't admire my window boxes one last time or gather that basil.
When morning came, the white death had visited. That first killing frost.
Plants were blackened and limp...the leaves were dropping fast.
We've had possibly the longest summer in history, but I still wasn't ready to let go.
It was inevitable,  but still. It hurt, and I have regrets.
Frost is a grim reaper, but I love the way it looks on the landscape. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Oh, Mr. Moon

The moon is amazing tonight, as it will be for the next few nights.
If you get a chance, look up. Chances are, you won't want to look away.
This super, super moon is closer to the earth than its been since 1948. It's being called a beaver moon, or a frost moon.
Feels like it will definitely be shining on a frost in the morning.
And tonight is almost bright as day.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day: A reflection

There are parts of my job that I truly appreciate.
Like today, when the call of my duties took me to the high school to cover a Veteran's Day program led by a student group.
I've been several years now, and I'm continually impressed by the respect and attentiveness the students show - through the entire program.
I didn't hear a single snigger, giggle, cough...heck, most of the time you could have heard a pin drop.
Given the division that's followed the election, I think we all are honestly wondering what the heck is happening in this country.
We are doing some soul searching, hopefully determining to hold on to the qualities that made our country great.
Compassion. Hard work. Self-sacrifice. The desire to be free, to be counted, valued.
The desire to be a part of something greater than ourselves.
This week has been a strange experience.
Processing so many conflicting thoughts from so many is seriously wounding.
I feel bruised inside. I could cry right now. I AM crying right now.
But mostly, my tears are hopeful - and thankful.
We've wrestled with ourselves and each other, but I think we are going to come out stronger.
And those beautiful young souls at the high school.
God help us all to be wise for them.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Foggy morning breakdown

There's something to be said for living in the same place for a long time.
You learn it's many moods, how it looks in different lights and seasons. You see it naked and fully clothed.
I never get tired of looking at the landscape around me. It's always changing but forever remains the same.
The air I breathe here is filled with the stories of family who lived through different eras.
This land is a constant in a tumultuous word.
I'm happy to be grounded here in these hills. They hold your heart forever, my little Goosehead grandbabies like to sing. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The day after

'I'm still processing the big surprise dropped into our lives on election day.
I was truly shocked.
How could the polls have been so wrong?
There are a lot of factors, I'm sure, one  being that many who voted chose not to participate in surveys, polls, etc.
Rural America is being credited for electing Trump, and rural folk tend to be very independent - suspicious of those who ask too many questions, maybe a little more likely to thumb their nose at convention.
Apparently Trump's brashness resonated with a lot of folks.
I just can't get over the fact that a billionaire real estate mogul, one who was recently a Democrat and a friend of the Clintons, somehow convinced rural conservative America he is just like them.
Wow.  Maybe he's smarter than I thought.
I will say that I was heartened by the responses of both winners and losers to election results.
See, we can be civil if we want to be.
I thought Hillary's speech was admirably gracious after such a contentious campaign, and Trump was gracious too.
Maybe he was a little shocked himself that he won!
There's been a lot I haven't liked about both presidential candidates.
But I'm trying hard to find some positivity in all this.
I've concluded that we Americans get all emotionally worked up about things, but we usually "get over it" quickly.
We are like the stock market over the course of the last 24 hours. Wildly swinging back and forth.
It's important to keep a clear and steady head to move this country forward. I'm not sure that's what we will see out of this president, but we can cultivate that in ourselves.  Try not to have knee-jerk reactions to "different" ideas.
Seek to understand.  Be patient.
Be kind. Pray for the old rascal to have wisdom.
There were lots of prayers for the election. I wonder what would happen if we prayed as fervently for our leaders often and regularly?  The ones we like and the ones we don't like.
At the very least, it would change us. Maybe make us more empathetic.
Okay, I'm ready to move on with my life now.
I aspire to exercise some of Hillary's resolve to not grow weary in well-doing.
And I resolve not to be afraid.
Remember?  The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Let's carry on. ;)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pre-election jitters?

Nah, not really.
Whoever wins the presidential election, I doubt that little will change.
Not right away, anyway.
I do think the level of voter disenchantment is so high that folks might begin to realize that if we want changes in government, they gotta start within.
So, generally speaking, I'm not that worried, whichever of the clowns get elected.
I don't really expect unrest in the streets either because of the election…just lots of Facebook grumbling and complaining.
It will all blow over in a few days, thank God, and there will likely be some other inconsequential matter for people to gripe about.
Not that the election is inconsequential, mind you. But something else will crop up, such as Beyonce on the CMAs or National Sandwich Day.
We have a tendency to become fixated on such, which is ultimately why we have the two disappointing candidates that we do.
Here's to a peaceful day tomorrow...








Sunday, November 6, 2016

Holy communion

Day 6
These little stinkers in the car.
This picture is a prelude of the mischievousness to come.
In church, fighting over used communion cups.
And Clay figuring out he could smack the bottom of the cups in their holders in the pew and send them flying.
Smh.With a smile though.
Life is never dull with these two.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

When the dust settles

The grand-babies have been fed, clothed in pajamas and are now asleep.  Sound asleep?

We'll see.

But having them come to visit for the night was a nice ending to the day.

And what a day it's been.  Foggy and cool all morning.  Sometimes the fog only rises above the creek. This morning, it was pressing against the windows-and our windows are a good distance from the creek.  Took until 10 or 10:30 for the sun to burn it off.

That was plenty of time to enjoy some coffee and make french toast in a leisurely fashion.

The rest of the day was clear, bright and sunny.  It actually felt like fall today-a little on the cool side.

A good day for a walk across the field and along the creek bank.

A good day to clean out a shed and prepare it for painting.

I swept and swept and swept, but the dust, rabbit hair and dried chicken manure seemed to be just getting stirred around- and up my nose.

So, I gave the old shop vac a shot.  It worked way better than a broom, and our shed is about ready to paint now.

After a shower to remove the dust from myself, I fried up a nice mess of Vietnamese cat fish and some homegrown potatoes.  Oaklee loved them both.

The kiddos watched cartoons for a bit, and I read them a couple of books. They've just gone to sleep, so I'm a bloggin'.

It's been a good day at home.  I love days like this when I don't have to go anywhere, and I can get dirty as a pig if I want to.

That's another reason I seldom throw clothes away.  Old rags are just the thing for farm chores.


Friday, November 4, 2016

A prescription for a long life?

The best part of my job is gathering people's stories.

After a two or three hour interview, you begin to feel like you know a person. 

I've made many new friends gathering stories for the newspaper, and I have to say I find the older folks the most interesting.  

What is it like to live 90 or 100 years? Do you ever get tired and just want it to be over? I'm sure some do. 

Living long is not necessarily living well, but most of the folks I've talked to who've lived a long time seem pretty content.  

Particularly if they've got people in their life to check on them.

I think loneliness would be the hardest part of growing old, and I say that as a person who has always enjoyed time to myself.  

But to outlive many of your family and friends and end up alone for the last years of one's life must be hard.  

So, as I gather stories, I'm also taking mental notes on how to live successfully as a senior, just in case I ever become one. 

Be adaptable, keep active,be thankful, have faith...these are themes I hear among the elderly most often, I think.  

And, I notice that people don't talk much about lost possessions, but they do talk about losing loved ones.  Those are the heartaches that they always carry.  

And that should give us some insight into how to spend our days. 


 






Thursday, November 3, 2016

Too much stuff? Fluff?

Today I began the less than exciting task of switching the contents of my closet from warm weather wear to cold.
Although it's hardly sweater weather here yet, it's NOVEMBER for pete's sake, and I'll surely need to wear something warm before it's over.
I have so many old rags.  My "wardrobe," I mean.  I couldn't give some of the stuff away that's in my closet if I tried.
Yet I didn't throw any of it away.  You might wonder why.
Well, that's a good question, but my reasoning works something like this.  I figure I'd better keep those clothes that are a little too tight, because I might lose weight before spring rolls around again. Motivation may swoop down from above and conquer my voracious appetite.
Or, I'd better keep those clothes that are a little too loose, because what if I GAIN weight over the course of the winter, heaven forbid.
I'll have to admit it's entirely possible.
I skipped the gym tonight, and I'm having a bedtime snack of graham crackers and marshmallow fluff, heavy on the fluff.
Good to fluff those thighs right up.
Yeah. I'm not getting rid of anything outta my closet just yet.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What a day brings

I had ideas about what I'd do on my day off, but they didn't pan out.
That's okay.
I found myself in a place I did not expect to be, meeting a spunky little lady, 89 years old, who shared some stories from her life.

"Things have a way of working out," Louise said.

"You've got to take the bitter with the sweet."

"The Lord's always took care of me," she went on. " I thank God for every day I'm alive."

Words of wisdom, I say.

Before we left her house, she offered me some plants from her tidy flower beds.
I was more than happy to dig up some "starts," and I told her I would make a Louise garden when I got home.
My new perennials are in the ground now. Little Oaklee "helped" me water them.
I'm excited to  see what kind of bloom my new plants will produce. 

And when they bloom, I will ask Oaklee if she remembers that she helped me plant them.
I'll think of a warm fall day, and visiting with the donkeys by the fence, and playing volleyball at dusk with two very short players.
And I will recall Louise, her faith and convictions.

Who knows what will become of those "starts?
But I'm very hopeful. And maybe I will pass them along some day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's clique, but its the simple things.

What do I do to restore mental health? 
I take a walk...spend time out in the fresh air...cook something nourishing and homemade...spend time with family.
A walk in the hood this evening with the grandbabies after a long day was definitely restorative.
When I feel restored, my creative energy rises.
And I begin to think I can pull out another NaBloPoMo.