Monday, July 19, 2010

Remember the Rock Slide...

Last November, I blogged about the major rock slide that occurred very close to my home.

Here's that clip again:




They finally cleared it. What was originally thought to take about 3 weeks, took more then 5 months!

I went over there recently to check it out and was rather awe struck by the scar left on the mountain.

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I couldn't help but gasp a little when I first saw it.



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The DOT guys were still there working. Thankfully, though, it's at least open to traffic now.



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They say that the road couldn't withstand the weight of the boulders and it was crushed and swept into the river along with trees and rocks.



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As I was walking and exploring, I came upon this suspension bridge. For those of you that have whitewater rafted this river, you'll recognize this area as the drop in. No, you don't go over this ferocious dam!! There's a gentle ramp beside it.

Anyway, it beckoned me. While the entrance was gated and looked like it should have a "Do Not Enter" sign posted, there was none (I looked closely) and the door, rather then being locked, was swung wide open. I took that as an invitation.

As I stepped off the platform and onto the bridge, it was swaying in the breeze and bounced beneath me with each step I took. It was a little unnerving. Nevertheless, I went all the way to the middle.



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I stood there for a few minutes, pondering this angle of the mountain and the river as the water rushed over the dam below me. I took a few shots, then looking back toward the entrance I noticed a man standing there waving me back. Uh oh, I thought.

As I got closer I just shrugged and said, "I guess that's a no-no." He grinned and nodded to confirm the obvious. I told him I looked for the warning signs and he said that just the night before it had been vandalized. "I've been posted here to make sure no one enters. I guess I'm not doing my job very well!" We both laughed and wished each other a good day.



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It's hard to tell how massive it is from back here, until you realize that driving on the road below it is a black dump truck and blue semi truck. See them? They almost look like they're driving on the suspension bridge I was just on. Now, that's perspective!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Things That Make You Go, "Whoa!!"

Let's talk about my Big George Tomato plants again.

It was April 12th, I believe, when I told you how proud I was of my little seedlings. And how amazing it is that "in about as much time as it took Zeila to "grow" her puppies (in utero), I'd have gigantic tomotoes."

Well, yeah, that would have been really amazing if it had happened. What's more amazing, is that it takes 3 or 4 times longer to achieve mature, fruit producing tomato plants than it does for a puppy to grow from conception to warm, pudgy, furry, precious, yummy-smelling little snugglers! Shows you how much I know.

Zeila could have conceived, birthed, nurtured and weaned her pups by now... and I still don't have tomatoes!

What I do have is super huge plants with dainty little flowers on them.


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Whoa! Those are some super huge tomato plants. They're taller then me - but no fruit yet. Hmpf.

That shot was taken less than 48 hours ago.

This morning I made a dreadful discovery...
Somewhere between yesterday afternoon and this morning, these guys appeared.


(not my photo - see copyright info)

The devastatingly destructive Tomato Hornworm. Whoa! Big, fat and ugly... and very hard to see because they blend so well with the stems and leaves.

In about 14-16 hours' time, they ate half my tomato plants! Amazing how quickly they work.

We (by we, I mean Joe) plucked off 7 or 8 of these guys that were 4 to 5 inches long and as fat as my thumb. Seriously. Eeeew! I couldn't bear to touch them... and I'm thankful for that because when Joe grabbed them (we first confirmed they wouldn't bite or sting), they oozed this slimey green goo. Blech! He didn't squish them, either... it must be some kind of defense mechanism. {shiver}

There are also a couple of these.


(again, not my photo)

Whoa! I had no clue what utterly disgusting, stomach-turning sight this was. Google search reveals that it's the hornworm with braconids. "Braconid wasps are considered beneficial bugs to your garden." These are their cocoons whose host is the hornworm.

Check out this link about them... pretty interesting, though gross. Anyway, we let them stay put.

Ack. Enough of that!



Here's something better.


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Whoa! Look at that size difference!

The first time I saw Kingston's hands when he was just a day old, I was awed by their size. They were such big - wide and long - hands for such a little guy. They immediately made me think of his Grandpa Joe's hands.

Kingston has a lot of growing to do before his hands get as big as his grandpa's!


Then, of course, there is this.

6 months - serious

I last posted a photo of him when he was 3 months old. His mommy took these of him when he turned 6 months. I just love the serious ones... his eyes are so expressive.


6 months - smiling
The smiley ones will melt you, too, though. Whoa! He is one handsome little dude!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Summer Afternoon

I'm out on the porch, reading and absorbing the book I mentioned the other day, A Woman's Call to Prayer by Elizabeth George.

The porch is shaded and there's a faint breeze. One of my dogs is out here with me and he found a sunny spot to lay in. He does adore sleeping in a sunbeam!

Here he is... remember this one?


Every now and then he decides to get up and see if he can get away with wandering off to the woods to rustle something up. He's very trustworthy, but still... that's a no-no, so I go check on him and encourage him to rejoin me. The movement on this upper deck causes the furry ones below us to rouse from their slumber and protest their separation, as they're relegated to the downstairs patio and fenced area. Poor ol' souls!

When we all settle back down I pause for a bit, before picking the book back up, to listen to the music - the music of nature. We're in a wooded setting and the birds' songs are amazing; a myriad of chirps and tweets, near and far. Below our house (we're on a hill) a small creek runs through our property out at the edge.


(early Spring, pre-leaves)

The sound of the moving water combined with the birds' singing and the slight rustle of the leaves from the breeze... it's pure music! Even the drone of the buzzing bees adds depth to the melody. And just for dramatic effect, our neighboring rooster throws in his occasional cockle-doodle-doo! The butterflies, though silent, flutter by and add their beauty to the song.

As I sit here listening and enjoying nature's version of quiet, I keep thinking about this recipe I came across recently. I'm not some big foodie that has recipes swimming in my head all the time - it's just that this one is so bizarre... it's Queen Ann's Lace Jam! Weird, right? I don't know if I can bring myself to make it. I can't get past the "...and somewhat flowery" description of it's flavor. Blech. That doesn't sound appetizing.

Queen's Ann Lace

However, we do have Queen Ann's Lace all over the place right now - and you can bet that I don't pass by it without contemplating harvesting some (about 2 packed cups worth)... just to see!



Oooh, we just had a strong gust of wind. Honestly, those trees in the distance look like they have holy hands lifted in praise to their Creator when they sway like that against the backdrop of the summer blue sky. "... Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy" (Psalm 96:11)

Okay, I'm going to get back to reading.

Happy Summer! ...and may it afford you many opportunities to be still!!




"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him." (Psalm 37:7)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Longing

He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” Psalm 107:9



Yesterday I started reading a book by Elizabeth George, A Woman’s Call to Prayer. In the second chapter she quoted that verse.

It made me pause and consider the things that cause our hearts and souls to long…

My greatest heart’s desire right now is to live in close proximity to these three.





It grieves me that our daily lives are not intertwined. I can't conceive of the notion that if things stay status quo, that sweet little boy wouldn't be able to come over to his grandma and grandpa's house just for a bowl of ice cream (because he knows we always have his favorite stocked), or that we wouldn't have the privilege of taking him to the park or zoo for the afternoon while his mom and dad do whatever their hearts' desire. That I can't suggest to my daughter on a whim that we grab our cameras and go for a hike, or ask the three of them to come over for dinner and a movie... you get the gist. I don't care if the Lord moves us there, or He moves them here, or He moves us all to Timbuktu - I just yearn for us to be nearby each other.

Some long for a certain job promotion; or for recognition of a job well done and for their efforts to be rewarded. (While the center of my prayers these days is to obtain a decent job, it is not a longing of my heart and soul, it’s merely a necessity… albeit, an important one.)

Some may be lonely and yearn for companionship; a soul mate. Others perhaps have an empty nest and long for children to fill their home.

Some longings may be of a more whimsical nature. I have a few of those!

I long to photograph (nature, particularly, it seems), to paint (with acrylics and pastels) and to write (even if the only thing I ever complete is the telling of my grandmother’s story). Sometimes I think if I didn’t have a creative outlet, I’d just shrivel up. The thing is, though, I don’t want to just dabble in those things, I want to become really GOOD at them (classes, teachers and mentors will surely be required). After all, if I’m going to do a thing, I want to do it well.

The trouble is, our longings and desires can get us out of alignment... and we become so intent on fulfilling them, that we forget to seek God’s will - or at least we seek it only half-heartedly. Sometimes I find it hard to remember that His will is always for my best. Presently, God has me just standing firm in Him, waiting for His clear direction; that is, the longings haven’t changed, but the clamoring has. While I sometimes feel disappointed, I don't feel desperate because I know He is trustworthy, and I’m confident that if I’m never afforded the opportunity to hone my creative skills (what will be will be; these things take time and money, after all), and even if I never again live in the same town as my precious kids and grandkids (this one would require an extra measure of grace), I’ll survive. I may even be content, because… if “I delight myself in the Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart.” (Psalm 37:4)



Turn your eyes upon Jesus
look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace.

(hymn written by Helen M. Lemmel)


Whether soulful or whimsical, what do you long for? Do you need realignment?

“Seek first His kingdom and His righteous, and all these things will be added to you as well.”
(Matt. 6:33)



(These guys are at this lake every time I visit. I like that.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Big George Tomatoes

Do you remember me telling you about Mountain Man Bob? It was in this post that I introduced him.

In it, I mentioned the Big George Tomato he gave me... it went like this:


Recently, he brought me a huge tomato from his garden. It's called a Big George and when you slice it for a sandwich, it's bigger than the slice of bread! Oooh, it was tasty. He told me how to keep the seeds so I can plant them next spring and have Big George tomato plants of my own. The plants he's enjoying these days came from plants of his father's decades ago! And where did his dad get his seeds? Get this! From the wife of the man who rode the last horse and buggy mail route in the United States (which was right here, of course... Bob's family was on the route)! 1940s. Seriously. And now I have some.


Well, a little over a week ago I planted some of those seeds I saved... about 18, or so. I've kept them on the kitchen window sill, which is sunny and bright, and have been diligent in keeping the soil moist, but not overly so.

I'm very happy to announce that as of this morning, I have eight little shoots sprouting from the dirt. Right now, they're only as big as alfalfa sprouts, but I'm about as proud as a new mama of my strong little seedlings!

In about as much time as it took Zeila to grow her puppies (8 weeks), I'll have tomatoes bigger than my fist! Nature is super cool... to God be the glory.


You wanna know what else? I made another blueberry recipe today. Blueberry Iced Tea! Ooooh, delicious! Do you like Raspberry Iced Tea? This is even better!

Okay, calling it a day. I think I'll go catch the latest episode of House... I keep saying it's getting too predictable (the "I just had an epiphany" gaze he gets toward the end of every show is getting a little annoying), but I'm not quite ready to give it up... We'll see what the next couple of weeks brings. Oh, and then I'll see the latest DWTS. (I love DVR!!)

I have a feeling that the blog will be sorely lacking photos in the near future... thanks to dial-up. I'll upload when I can... but, whew, it's slow!

Enjoy your evening and when it's time, sleep slow and soundly!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Love Blueberries

I didn't realize how much I love blueberries until I moved to NC where fresh blueberries are so abundant in the summertime. Blueberry season is just around the corner {happy grin}, yet we're still eating blueberries out of the freezer that I picked last summer... we had piles of them!

Lately, I haven't been using them for more than blueberry pancakes. I don't think I can eat pancakes plain anymore. There's something wonderful about the combination of the tart berries with the sweet syrup.

Since picking time will be here before I know it, though, I went in search of more ways to use up the berries I still have (about 8 quarts!). The other day I found a pie recipe I wanted to try... Polly's Perfect Blueberry Pie. Oh my! Perfect, indeed!

They say that for good health it's recommended to eat 6 smaller meals a day rather than the typical 3... increases metabolism, etc., etc... Do you suppose it's still recommended if 3 of the 6 "meals" are blueberry pie slices? You're thinking, "Oh, no, you couldn't have..." Ah, but I did! I had a slice for breakfast (what... they're rich in antioxidants!), I had a slice between lunch and dinner, and I had a slice between dinner and bed. I couldn't help myself. It is CRAZY GOOD!!

If you can get your hands on a couple of quarts of fresh blueberries this summer... you've got to make this pie.

Polly's Perfect Blueberry Pie

Ingredients
Crust:
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 2/3 cup salad oil
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
Pie Filling:
1 quart fresh blueberries, washed
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
Dash ground cinnamon
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 teaspoons butter

Directions
Crust:
Into a 9-inch pie plate, sift together the flour, sugar, and the salt. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together 1/2 cup salad oil and 3 tablespoons milk with a fork. Pour that over the flour mixture in pie plate and mix with a fork until all flour is evenly dampened. If it is still too dry to work with your hands, mix a little more oil with a little milk and add to flour mixture. With your hands press the dough evenly against the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan, allowing the excess to fall on the counter. (This will be the top crumble crust and is about 1/3 of the total crust mixture.) Sweep it into your hand and reserve in a small bowl. Crimp the edges of the bottom crust or use a fork dipped in milk to flatten the crust along the rim.
Berry pie filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To the washed berries add cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg. Stir gently.
Place the berry mixture in the bottom crust and sprinkle lemon juice over it. Then with an ordinary teaspoon, place little 1/2 teaspoons soft butter evenly over the top of the berry filling.
Crumble the reserved crust on top of the pie.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Check it after 30 minutes. If crust is getting golden but pie filling is not quite congealed, tent the pie with aluminum foil to keep crust from getting too brown.

- - - - - - - -

That's how the recipe went... but here's what really happened - By the time I pressed the crust into the pie plate, I didn't have enough for the crumble. You can't have a skimpy crust, afterall. So, I made half of the recipe again and set it aside solely for the crumble. I recommend doing it that way... the crust and crumble is really delicious.

I also added more berries and accompanying ingredients accordingly. Just thought it needed a boost. Whoa. I was in berry pie heaven.

Today, I made a blueberry coffee cake ala Paula Deen. Now, Joe is swooning over it the way I was the pie!

Lookout blueberry season, we're armed with recipes!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Back to Blogging

Oh, my goodness. It's been THREE months to the day since I last posted to the blog. Jeepers creepers. Time flies... whether you're having fun or not.

The last time I was here, I posted from Vermont when I was there to meet my precious little grandson. And precious he is! Wanna see what happens in three months' time?

Check it out...


Kingston on his 1/4 birthday 4-6-10

He grows! And he is still seriously adorable - and he is still the deep thinker he was when he was just a newbie. His mama took this picture of him three days ago... the day he turned three months old. Is he not the most handsome thing?

Okay... wait. I have to show you that he's not always serious; he has a killer smile, too. Here ya go:


smiling 4-4-10
"Hi you handsome smirky smirker!" I could just gobble him up!


So, why have I been gone so long? Changes.

I don't work where I did, and I don't live where I did, the last time I was here.

We have relocated to a lovely home 9 miles down a country road, away from main-stream Murphy (and away from high speed internet), where roosters crow morning, noon and night, rain or shine, light or dark. I really thought they only did that to announce the dawn of a new day. My childhood story books always led me to believe that the farmers woke up to start their long farming day when the rooster crowed, then the rooster's job was done (and I never gave a thought to their role in the chicken coop). But then again, I've always been a city dweller so I'm not familiar with these things.

I have to say that in this environment, the continuous sound of the rooster is appropriate... even comforting. I don't mind hearing them all day (and night) long. But I admit that I am thankful they are far enough away from us not to be intrusive... they're more like a background sound... sort of mood-setting.

Okay, so that's where we live now. As for work; I'm still among the many, many unemployed in our country. But, sparing you, I won't pontificate on that situation.

Our hope is to soon be in Vermont so I can take my own unending pictures of that beautiful boy and his parents, and not have to rely on the pictures his mom takes (which most of you have already seen on Facebook, anyway).

That's that. I hope to blog more often. Although, in our new ultra rural location, we have to contend with a dial-up connection. Here's hoping it doesn't inhibit my ability to hang out here more often!

Time to go make dinner: mushroom swiss burgers, sauted mushrooms and baby spinach, and homemade sweet potato chips. ~Those are good, and so easy! Slice the potato(s) as thin as you can (and it would be a whole lot easier with a mandoline, but I don't have one). Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and put the chips on it in a single(ish) layer. Put a pea size dollop of soft butter on each chip (okay, admittedly, that part can be tedious), sprinkle with salt (and whatever other spices you like) and bake in a 375 oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them. Mmmmm, mmmm, good.

...till next time.

UPDATE: Forget what I said about pea-sized dollops. In the past I was being OCD about making sure each chip had it's fair share of butter. Thankfully, I'm over that. I didn't have the patience tonight, so I just melted a couple of tablespoons and drizzled it over the pan. So much easier and just as tasty.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Grandma's Little Superstar

I don't even know where to start. The heart is an amazing thing with it's ability to never run out of room for love. It has surely expanded for this little man.


Kingston 1-6-10
Is it any wonder. Look at how precious he is.


Kingston hands
Here's those hands I love. Look how masculine they are... and big for his size. He has really long fingers with long, narrow nail beds. Very, very handsome.


kingston 1-7-10
Oh, my little cherub. He is so good. He has taken very well to nursing, sleeps like a champ, and is super easy to soothe. "Just let me rest against your warm chest and feel your heartbeat, and I'm happy!"


Me and Kingston 2
This is one happy grandma!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

He's Here!!!

This will be short... my heart is swollen and I can hardly type through the tears.

But I knew you'd want to see this precious little boy.

He made his appearance this morning at just after 7:00, weighing in at 8 lbs. 14 oz. Exactly 3 pounds bigger than his mother was! Nic says he has lots of hair and "is perfect!"

These are his pics... I think from his phone:

ko and baby 3
Such a beautiful little bundle!

Ko and baby
This one! Oh my... what a precious moment. The lump in my throat is growing and the watery eyes are starting to stream!

I'm on my way there.... flying at about 20,000 feet, even as I type this. Just this once I indulged in the "in-flight wifi." Had to. I knew there were pictures of my grandson waiting for me in my email!

For those of you that were also following on Facebook. I have not been able to access my profile page to respond to the many comments I received in answer to our request for prayer... but THANK YOU! It means so much.

Okay... I gotta go and just ponder all this in my heart before I really start blubbering and causing a scene in zone 4 of flight 1856!

Love you!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Oh, for heaven's sake!

I thought I'd have a picture of a gorgeous baby boy by now...

Problem with that is the baby boy has not made his grand entrance yet. There are no complications; both mommy and baby are strong and healthy. It's just a long, slow labor. It stalled for a while last night and she was able to get 6 hours of (sporadic) sleep!


Shortly after midnight tonight, my precious daughter will have been in labor for 48 hours. Mercy! I've never heard of such a thing.

I was hoping she'd take after her mama. I had her in 3.5 hours.


Nic tells us she's doing fabulously, though. Remaining calm and managing the pain very well. They started pitocin at noon today and that has helped to kick start the contractions. He said that they are closer and stronger and she's making progress. "... she has to stay in her 'happy place' longer now, though."


More tomorrow... and THEN I will have happy news and an incredible picture to share!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Waiting

....Semi-Patiently!


The time has arrived. I'm about to become a grandma!

Here's my darling girl at the hospital... look at that low belly!

ko in hospital 2


I was hoping to be there in time, but our little guy decided to come a week early.

My son-in-law sent these from his phone. Thanks, Nic!

ko in hospital

He may have a January 3rd birthday, or he could have a January 4th birthday. Either way, rest assured there will be a post sometime tomorrow of a beautiful baby boy.

And soon thereafter (Wednesday) I'll have that precious pun'kin in my arms!

About Me

My photo
I'm a wife, mom, and grandma living in rural Vermont. I spend 40 hours of my week working outside my home and away from my garden, but am nevertheless passionate about healthy eating and sustainable living. By sourcing nutrient-dense food from local farms and avoiding processed foods, we are realizing how our over health is being impacted for the better. I’m excited to have you join me as I share what we’re learning and invite you to offer your insights in the comments. “…giving thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thess 5:16-18