Monday, November 8, 2010

And Dudley Comes Home to Roost

One day this past summer I was awakened by the sounds of a rooster crowing.  Okay, so living in the country as we do, we often heard this rooster crowing of a morning, but this time it sounded as if it were actually under our window singing its head off.  It was a happy rooster, happy to have a voice, happy to flap it's wings, happy to be alive.  As we discovered  later that same day , it's gladness was the latter more than the former.  Our neighbors, Tara and Sam (he's Greek, so can't pronounce the last name much less spell it,  therefore I won't trouble you with the minor details) have a farm complete with horses and cows, chickens and at one time even a goat, etc...and once they had plenty of barnyard cats too,  but seems they've all migrated our way.  So, as I've rambled way off the subject here,we'll get back to the rooster crowing beneath my window.  Well, since he was sitting on the porch railing greeting the sun and the new day with a fervor I've hardly ever heard before, I had to get up and pull back the curtain to check.  And yes, there he was.  A beauty of a rooster, all luscious reds and bark browns, blacks of several different depths and he had an attitude.  Later that day we discovered that he also had a number of tail feathers missing from his considerable plume.  I asked Tara that evening if she was missing a member of their  menagerie.  Seems she was missing quite a few.  Her doberman had gotten loose and gone on a chicken killing spree that defies description.  The rooster of the flock was lucky to escape with the few tail feathers he had left attached to his backside.  He had made a hasty departure through the woods to seek asylum(looney bin?) with us.  I'm not sure if he figured the myriad cats were a protection from  or a distraction for the dog.  But he made it safely here, and here he stays.

Now, I know having a rooster in residence  isn't much of a big deal for a lot of people.  It's not much of a big deal for us either since luckily we have plenty of corn and seed on hand to feed the squirrels guineas and song birds.  But the oddest thing of all is the rooster much prefers cat food.  And he prefers to eat the cat food out of the cat food dishes.  And he prefers to eat it with the cats.  The first time I saw Dudley (as we have since named him) eating with the cats I could only stand and watch.  That he tolerated the cats was not what amazed me.  That they tolerated him as a dinner companion rather than that really got my attention.  The first time he raced me to the food dish (starting at a dead run from 1/2 an acre away, he beat me handily) made me laugh out loud.  I've never seen a rooster running with cats before.  Away from them, yes, with them no.  This has been going on for months now.  I think it's safe to say that Tara and Sam no longer have a rooster.  Their Guineas (hens) claimed us as family at roughly the same time.  The guineas only capture Dudley's attention once in a while at which time he will condescend to eat a morsal or two of corn with them.  But mostly, he likes the cats. 

Now that fall is upon us Dudley goes to roost on the porch railing at around 5 pm each evening.  He prefers it if we will kindly  not be banging in out of the front door from 5 on.  He needs his rest.  He begins his sympony to dawn somewhere roughly between 3 am and 0dark30.   I've asked Craig, our neighbor on the other side to stop referencing dumplings whenever he sees Dudley.  It's giving him a complex.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Banana Split Cake

Last time I was here we were on our way to Magnolia Alabama for a family reunion.  Mac drove long enough to remember how much he hates Atlanta traffic and happily gave the wheel to Michael, who drives amazingly well for a baby son.  When we reached Selma, Alabama I was so glad to be out of a moving vehicle, no matter who was driving, that I could have kissed the pavement.  We were there for the Sealy family reunion and very nearly held it at the motel.  I think our family had booked the entire bottom floor.  It was like a gigantic slumber party, what with walking up and down the halls visiting brothers sisters nieces and nephews, snacking on every imaginable thing that the snack food conglomerates throw at you, plus this one thing that niece Sherry had brought along.  She called it a Banana Split Cake.  She had made and brought three of them.  They were residing in the refrigerator of her motel room and she promised everyone a piece of it even before the Sunday reunion dinner.  Mind you, these dishes of heavenly promise measured 13x9 inches long and promised to make our dreams come true.  It seems that cake was the topic of conversation every time I saw any of them.  Turns out it's a Paula Deen recipe and I knew right away it was going to be winner.  Unfortunately it was not a winner that I would be able to share in.  Just looking at it had me in danger of going into a month long sugar coma.  Sherry began to tell me exactly how it was made and I lost consciousness somewhere around the two cups of confectioners sugar and the two sticks of butter.  Yes, I said two sticks of butter.  (I did mention it's a Paula Deen recipe?)
So late on Saturday night after Mac had had his third or maybe fourth helping of this incredible cake, I had to warn them that they were in danger of having nothing left for the family reunion dinner.  One pan had been consumed and the mob in the corridor were eyeing the refrigerator thru the doorway.  I didn't hold out much hope for it's survival.  I was right.  But then I frequently am.

So we made it home from the reunion which was wonderful.  Seeing family members we hadn't seen in years was worth the long trip.  Aunt Jeanne looked like a movie star, it was hard to believe she is in her late 70's.  Such a great lady and so welcoming and warm to her family.

So when we got home I talked to SIL Betty and she sent me the recipe for the marvel of a cake.  I knew I'd probably make it for Thanksgiving but also knew that I'd not be able to taste it, the diabetes would prevent even a smidgen.  I tucked it away for another day.

Saturday I went to the grocers and as I was going down the baking aisle came across a new product.  It was a sugar free confectioners sugar by Ideal (tr).  I read it several times before I could believe my eyes.  But yes, sure enough there it was.  They even had a sugar free brown sugar.  I dug my cell phone out of my purse and called home to get Mac to look up the recipe so I could be sure I had everything I needed.  I made the Banana Split Cake on Sunday, after Church.  I prepared a bowl of it for afters that night.  Angels sang.  We wept with joy.  No, really, we wept with joy...okay so we didn't weep but we were happy.  I'm including the recipe and for those of you who don't care if they go into a sugar coma, just substitute the real thing for all the sugar free stuff.  But you won't be sorry if you prepare it exactly as I say.  Angels will sing.  Weeping will be simulated.  You will be happy diners, I promise!


Banana Split Cake


1 1/2 sticks butter

2 cups graham cracker crumbs


2 eggs (I used pasteurized eggs since they are raw)

2 sticks butter
2 cups Ideal Sugar Free Confectioners sugar

4 or 5 bananas, ripe and sliced

1 large can crushed pineapple (sugar free), well drained

2 cartons sugar free Kool Whip

Chopped nuts

Chopped cherries

To make crust: Melt butter; mix with crumbs. Press into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1about 15 minutes and let cool.

To make filling: Beat the eggs, margarine and powdered (confectioners) sugar together, beating no less than 15 minutes. Filling must be light and fluffy.Spread over crust.  Place sliced bananas over filling, then spoon pineapple over bananas.  Cover all with Kool Whip, add chopped cherries (maraschino) and sprinkle with chopped walnuts or pecans.  Refrigerate til ready to eat.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Birthdays and Anniversaries, they're the thing!

So, birthdays and anniversaries seem to be the norm for us this fall.  I haven't written about Evil Sister or Good Sister in a long time.  Not that Evil Sister isn't any less sassy or Good Sister any less, well,'s just that ES hasn't put any forks through deserving husbands hands lately and GS hasn't had any particularly spooky morgue encounters.  They are always worthy of my attention and my computer skills and today both of them are on my mind.  Well, lets see where we start.  Evil Sister, I wish you and Poor Brother a very happy and blessed 42 Anniversary!  It seems like either yesterday or a century ago, doesn't it?  How did we manage to stay married to the same and only men all these years?  (Mac and I celebrate our 42 on the 15th of this month).  I believe it may be the upbringing of stern Grandmothers (how often did we hear "you made your bed, now lie in it?) who counseled that marriage was sacred and not to be taken lightly.  Well, you didn't take it lightly and the two of you had your share of ups and downs but far more ups , which may be the answer to life.  I hope that the two of you spend the day doing exactly what you want to do, be it celebrating or nothing at all.  Congratulations to two very dear and beloved friends. 

Good Sister was being born about the time we were getting married, and she celebrates her birthday today.  GS has had such a turn around in her life these days.  Finally in a romance that might just make the grade on the turn around , she has stars in her eyes for the first time in a long time.   Even though it is a long distance romance, they see each other as often as their jobs allow and travel permits.  Today she will be spending her birthday with us.  Well, after work and appointments.  I'll be baking her a cake (or brownies...) making a barbecue dinner that she will love and she can relax for a bit since she won't be on call as Coroner this weekend.  So, I raise a glass to two of the most important women in my life...Cheers!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Birthday Boys Celebrate in Style

The 1900's are behind us now.  Even my darling Arianna, who was born in 1999 is a century away, it seems,  So how does a father born in 1916 and a son born in 1971 feel about birthdays these days?  Well, apparently they feel pretty darned good!  As a gift to two of the most important men in my life, we had a party of sorts at the Smokehouse restaurant.  Wanting to thank one of the best cooks in the state for preparing this feast, I looked for (owner) Roger Knight, but he was no where to be found.  I had decided that no way could I compete with the spread that Roger lays out on a four day basis, that and the fact that he has a crew to do the clean up.  All we had to do was eat and leave.  Oh, and pay the tab,  No problem,  Son Wallace had spent Saturday at the USMC Mud Run in Columbia, South Carolina with three teammates,  They completed the run, which was all that really interested them.  Apparently 14000 people had shown up for the event and being mowed down by speed was not a problem, either,  The mud took care of that .  Now  Daddy celebrated the day by sleeping in rather than go into the office, mud not being his thing, he elected to stay out of it,    You might find this odd but for the fact that he  turned 95 years old, still practices medicine and attends to patients on a daily basis,  Even Sundays,  While we were in the Smokehouse, at least three patients spied him there and corralling him, congratulated him on his longevity,  To their credit not one of them offered up symptoms for diagnosis while in his presence, 

So naps and mud runs aside, our day yesterday was filled with laughter and memories and I wouldn't trade one second of it for the world,  Somehow, I don't think they would either!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Fear of Canning

Yes, I've been missing in action yet again.  It seems the summer just drags on and even though this is technically the last day of it, we're still in the nineties.  There's been no rain for us in six weeks, but we drag the hose dutifully to the beds and water thoroughly so we get the lovely butter beans, green beans and squash even this late.  The collards are planted and promise to do well if the guineas don't kill them first. 

This morning we picked butter beans and greenbeans and they will be delicious on our plates for supper.  Mac planted six more tomato plants on August 24th in the growtainers and we have tomatoes on them already.  Do you think he'll mind if I say I am heartily sick of canning tomatoes? 
They've gotten so tall that he's having to extend the rings to accommodate their rapid growth. 
Thursday  is the first day of fall.  This Sunday past I came home from church and started canning the peaches (a bushel of them) and finished the pears.  I know that this winter we will be so happy that the pantry if loaded with all the bounty from the garden but I will tell you this: I have yet to use the pressure canner this year. 

Our family grew up with Aunt's and Great Aunt's as well as Grandparents lending a hand in the rearing of myriad children in the family circle.  They had their own methods of correction and reward, instruction and playtime.  One of the Aunt's spent most of the summer canning garden goods, chicken and dumplings, meats and the like.  Her favorite was Spaghetti Sauce.  For most of the garden goods she used the cold pack canner but for anything containing meats or fish she used the pressure canner.  As young as 5 I knew that the sudden screech and the soft explosion meant Aunt Dale was canning Spaghetti Sauce.  And that the pressure gauge had passed into the red line.  The boy cousins would spend half a day cleaning the ceiling at least three times each summer,  Then, one summer Aunt Dale had an idea.  She would pay one of us a nickel if we sat in a chair in front of the range and kept an eye on the pressure gauge.  We were to yell out if it began to rise from the amount of pressure the canner book indicated.  She would run in and turn down the burner the canner was on.  We dared not leave it a second to long, and if we did we ran out the kitchen door onto the screen porch screaming for help as we ran.  We really wanted that nickel, so we were mostly eagle eyed.  Aunt Dale had to many other things going on to watch it herself which is why she had so many catastrophes in the kitchen. 
When I became the proud owner of my very own pressure canner, it was in my possession for 2years before I got up the nerve to use it.  I had read the instruction booklet at least fifty times.  Maybe more.  I would tell myself that the next day would be canning day and then chicken out and use the cold pack canner instead.  But one day, the first day of my vacation, I took the plunge.  I got out the canner, the jars, the book and decided that I would can the bushel of pears that I had been gifted with by a neighbor.  I peeled, I  seeded, I added citric acid to avoid browning, then I prepared the jars.  They had to be hot, so I also had the cold pack canner out to heat them and placed the jar caps and lids in a small pan of boiling water.  I located the jar lifter and set to work.  I used apple juice as the canning solution in the jars to avoid sugar.  I packed the hot jars in the canner, added the water, adjusted the lids and put the top on the canner.  7 jars rested snugly within.  After placing the pressure gauge atop the canner,   I turned on the burner and put my chair in front of the range so I could take up my post. I had offered the requisite nickel to my sons to do this, but had no takers.  They simply laughed and walked away.  Mac came in and seeing me sitting in the chair asked me what on earth I was doing.  "Avoiding disaster, " I replied,  "Our ceiling isn't as high as Aunt Dale's was, I'm afraid the whole affair would go through the roof!"  So, if you should ever walk into the kitchen and see me sitting in a chair in front of the stove, you'll know what I'm doing.  And believe me when I tell you that this winter it will have been worth every worrisome moment of it.  And I'll pay myself a nickel for the privilege.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Now if someone will just move the cat from my face...

I remember coming in the other day and sitting down at the computer and posting on my blog for the first time in a long time.  I was taking a break from food preservation chores and enjoying every second of my time away from the stove/freezer/ know, the tools of the trade for Little Susie Homemaker.  I went to bed after catching up with about half my friends on-line.  I was so upset to hear about their losses and tragedies, but then there were those who had triumphs and victories in life and that cheered me back up again.  So, that was on Saturday.  I had canned 7 quarts of pears and knew that I would do no more until the coming weekend.  I remember going to Church on Sunday and greeting friends, adding Anya and Wilfred to our prayer list because her situation is so desperate at this time. (I urge you all to go read up on her situation and pray for them.)

But then came Sunday night.  I had a slight cough and my head began to feel as though it were stuffed with jello.  I've heard people say it is like cotton wool, but no, Jello is definitely what it seems to be.  I stretched out on the sofa and put a pillow beneath my head and under my knees while waiting for the person who might bring me a cold compress for my head and a warm drink for my hands.   When no such creature appeared to take care of my aches and snuffles, I got up and got the damned cold compress and made myself a cup of hot tea with honey and cinnamon. Grouchy was going to be the theme of the day. I also fetched a roll of paper towels, this was no job for Kleenex.   I sat, legs pulled beneath me, holding the cup gripped in two aching hands and sipped.  I placed the cold compress on my neck and immediately took it off while I developed a chill.   I remembered my little cross stitch sign I had done from an old Erma Bombeck quote:  Why do my family get to have flu in bed while I have it at the kitchen sink?   I dimly wondered what had ever happened to my lovely little cross stitch piece.   I cursed the garden that robbed me of Mac's tender care...damn garden.

So, I am not sure exactly how sick I should tell you I am.  I do know that I came to at least once  with one cat on my stomach and another wrapped around my neck.  I sort of whimpered and Mac came and moved JJ off my throat and went to move Hound, the cat from hell,  where she now lay possessively across my chest.  That was a mistake.  He quickly pulled his hand back while it was still attached to his arm and left me to my misery, Hound my only guardian.  Someone, the hot tea fairy maybe, brought me a cup of tea and wanted to know what was for supper.  The glare in their direction sent them scuttling backward.  That was Monday.  Tuesday I was up at the stove trying to fix Mac a hamburger when older son asked if I wanted him to do it.  "You sort of look like you might dive head first into that frying pan, " he warned me.  Turning over burning dinner duties to him I stumbled back to the sofa and the remote control.

Then  came Wednesday.  Still with a hacking cough, head more like warm tapioca  than Jello, I'm not making the mistake of taking my temperature .  I took it on Tuesday to find it was 101 and immediately felt 101% worse.  Won't do that again.  I tell Mac and older son if anyone calls to check on me to tell them I'm sitting up and taking a bit of broth. While I really don't feel much like phone talking,  oddly enough blogging relaxes me.  But I see that I've probably been up long enough, when everything I've just posted suddenly disappears from the screen.  Damn Windows 7.  Damn garden.  Damn Tea  Fairy.  But I hear that somewhere there is a Toddy Fairy.  So I'm wishing for a Toddy Fairy, and hoping she'll make it a double.  

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I haven't been in for a while.  Actually for a very long while and for this I heartily apologize.  Do you remember back in March or April when I told you that Mac had planted 148 tomato plants?  Well, do you?  Do you remember me mentioning  the peas and cucumbers, the melons and lettuce, the whole gamut of garden goodies including peppers of all description and varieties that my own Jolly Green Giant had placed in the soil so lovingly?  Well?
This is an Armenian cucumber ever7 jars of pears! one of five shelves of tomatoes peppersOh, this is JJ, you'll hear about him lateranother view of this fabulous cucumber!dehydrated potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant...more potatoes for winter wonders!dehydrated coconut.  I feel a cake coming on...

   Oh, and how about the potatoes, the okra and the eggplant, I'm sure you remember that, don't you?  Okay so now your memories are jogged and you'll readily forgive me for not stopping by to see you (and Lord how I've missed you all...I have lots of reading to catch up on and catch up I will!)  I haven't even mentioned the peaches and the pears that have found their way into my freezer and canning pot, not to mention the blueberries (they outdid themselves, too)   Today I put up 7 quarts of pears and next weekend will find me doing the self same thing.  My pear tree, though small, runneth over.  And hey, did you know that pears do not ripen on the tree, that you have to pick them and let them sit in a nice basket for about a week (sometimes more) before they develop that lovely pear flavor and sweetness?  So today Mac picked me a bushel of pears and by next Saturday it will be time to break out the canner and the Mason jars yet again.  So here is what I have done for the past two months...canned 50 jars of tomatoes, frozen 50 quarts of them, eaten a fair number of them as Sink know what a Sink Sandwich is, right?  It's a big old 'mater sliced thickly and  laid out like the Sunday goose on a well mayonnaise- slathered piece of light bread (read loaf bread)  plenty of salt and pepper and topped with another piece of light bread (just a smear of mayo this time) and then you assume the position...push up your sleeves, stand over the sink and dive in, letting the juice run down your arms and drip into the sink while you make shivery noises with your eyes closed.  I have dehydrated potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant.  I have fried eggplant and frozen them individually on a tray to bag and use this winter for Eggplant Parmesan.  I have dehydrated  and made beef jerky, dehydrated coconut and bananas (none of them came from the garden, more's the pity), dehydrated peppers (cubanellas, bell, jalapeno,) made pepper sauce with cayenne peppers and when I tell you that my pantry is full, I kid you not.  I have made pepper relish and cabbage chowchow, picked and put up greenbeans and peas.  And I still have to call Phoebe and see how her tomatoes did this summer.  I also am not kidding when I tell you that Mac has planted me six more tomato plants for a late crop, spinach and collards, speckled butterbeans and green beans and more of these marvelous Armenian Melons (the biggest cucumber you will ever see in your life!)  I can't wait for Winter!  I'm running on empty here, I may  need a nap.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Welcome to Orchard Cottage

Yes, I say WELCOME~and I do hope that you will be able to visit us this summer!  Here in Jefferson the sun has been shining, the rain has been falling and the weeds have been popping their wee heads out of rich earth teasing me away from the computer to do mass destruction on their numbers~Because we had such a miserably cold winter, (and we haven't had one that cold in a few years,)  now we have wonderful fruit like these Granny Smith apple dripping from the limbs of a very old tree.

We tried the topsy turvy tomato set up last year but find that we much prefer our own variation on the theme...we took a hanging planter and drilled a one inch hole in the bottom, lined it with newspaper, made an X thru the paper to insert the tomato plant root and then covered the root with a good potting mix and planted a basil plant at the top of the planter.  So, we have this great looking basil plant on top and a grape tomato hanging beneath.  We now have four of these planters, one with basil, one with sage, one with stevia and finally one with greek oregano.  I love this idea...Mac is a genius!

In one of the raised beds you'll see our large tomato plants.  Also growing on the fence are string beans and cucumbers.  We've already begun consuming the cucumbers...I peel and slice them and keep them in olive oil and vinegar...yummy! 

  The peach trees (we have a dozen of them that Mac grew from seed) are all bearing fruit this summer.  We look forward to going out to the orchard and pulling a tree ripened peach from our very own trees!  Most of the trees are now four years old, but even the younger ones are providing fruit!  Isn't that amazing?

And this is one of the 180  tomato plants in the promises to be a bumper year for the many different varieties we have growing in the garden.  This one is called 1884 because that's when it's seed was first discovered.  We have Mortgage Lifter, German Head, German Queen, Guatemala , a Russian tomato called Silvery Fir and of course the many grape type tomatos for salads.  Looks like I'm going to be busy canning and freezing this summer when it comes time to lay the garden by!

The plum trees once again do not disappoint.  The wild plums are plentiful, too.  I've decided to try my hand at a mixture of red plum and wild plum for jelly.  I haven't made jelly in years...Joanne (our neighbor) is such a master of jelly making that I feel intimidated!  But I'm going to give it a try.

The pear trees are no slackers either, people!  We've decided to thin them out so that the limbs don't have to be propped up to support their weight.  I'd rather have a bushel of great pears than hundreds of dullards and broken limbs to boot!  Wouldn't you?

The pond is not safe from our planting endevours, you will see it surrounded by plants, tomato, cucumber and flowers like my hibiscus and the New Guinea Impatiens...the bees are quite happy to be included in the fray!
Meanwhile, down in the garden the squash have decided to do us proud...and there will be enough to can this year.  This will certainly taste good in the cold winter months... like opening a can of sunshine on a cold wintry night.

I'm so happy with the fig trees this year.  They apparently enjoyed the cold winter, too.  The tree on the other side of the house looks just as good as these two.  These trees are now five years old, they are brown turkey fig trees and make the most delicious figs...from which I will be making Fig preserves this summer.
The blueberry bed is doing better than we had hoped for.  The drought last year took its toll, but they have recovered nicely, with Mac's tender loving care and heroic efforts of watering and fertilizing.  We'll have quite a few lovely fruits to enjoy and yes, to freeze and can.
And this is view of the garden that Mac built.  His love of God's earth shows in the holes in the knees of his jeans and the deep red skin on his neck where his head is bent to toil in the sun.
But still, he can take a breather, go sit in the edge of the woods and eat blueberries to revive himself for a bit...they call it a respite...a simple word for an awesome event.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Help I'm lost in the garden and can't find my way to the computer

It's happened.  I knew it would...I'm simply surprised that  I'm surprised...the garden holds me in thrall and wraps me in vines of cucumbery rapture topped with tomato dreams.  I took a simple walk through the freshly turned garden dirt and once I had hit my knees to pull the crabby little weed that had dared desecrate that pristine soil , it was to late to turn back.  Way to late.  Now there grows 104 tomato plants, 32 cucumber vines, 6 watermelon plants (Charleston Grey how I love thee) and some little seedless wonders will be ready to go in today.  There is squash both yellow and white and I have dared to request 2 zucchini plants and Mac has graciously obliged me.  I do know that I will be begging people to take their fruit off my hands before it's over, but I simply can't help myself.  And now, no matter how I scream that I need to visit with my blogging friends, the veil of spring wonder will not release me. 

The flowers alone take up hours as I plant and deadhead, weed and wander.  My Whimsey Woods dream is finally coming together and I've had the joy of sharing it with friends recently.  My pal Phoebe from the library in Wadesboro (North Carolina) came out with friends last week and I was able to share that dream with them.  As we strolled through the woods I pointed out the whimsical and the magical that hid down among the oak roots and high up in the pine boughs.  There are angels and fairies, comical bee pilots and the sweet little church (birdhouse) in the wildwood.  There is the Hotel rising high up the bold pine, with a taxi cab to let out a patron to enter the Empty Arms Hotel..I recently added a little red school house since the birds must have a safe place to learn and eat, .there is the frog shaped open bath for squirrel and bird alike..,the ground level pool for the opossum and raccoon that I know wander the woods at nightfall.  All are welcome, no matter what their parentage might be. There can be no room for prejudice in this perfect world I have created.   Phoebe and friends took home with them loads of tomato plants, heads of fresh lettuce from the garden and adopted a number of canna lilies looking for a new home.  I heard from her the following day and she tells me that others want to come visit our gardens and the Whimsey Woods.   That's one of the best compliments  I have ever had!

So, forgive me for being away so long.  I can't promise I will be back tomorrow or even the day after.  But I want to take this time to wish all the mothers out there a wonderful day andtomorrow and remind you not to  forget to take Monday as a day of recovery.  Now, off to check on all of you I can before I get tempted back to the gardens!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Travels with my Son

Two weeks ago I had plans to go to Florence for the beauty pageant our Granddaughter was in.  It was to begin at 7p with her group actually coming onto the stage closer to 8:30.  Mac bemoaned the fact that it was held  (a.) so late (b.) so far from home and (c.) that he'd actually be sound asleep in his chair by 9. 

I told him I was going come hell or high water and that I thought I could get Wallace to go with me.  Mac  doesn't like me on the roads at night anymore when I'm on my own.  I feel the say way about him, so it wasn't so much a comment on my driving as it was on the other drivers out there.  You know, the ones who won't get out of my way. 

So, Wallace said sure, he'd love to go watch his beloved niece in her first beauty pageant and arranged to get off work in time to come drive me.  I wasn't sure when the drivers seat had been given over to him, it was sort of an implied contract, I suppose.  So, at 5p, off we go.

The first thing he did was take the right  out of the drive rather than the left.  I reminded him that the bridge was out that way, so he quickly turned around and we headed out the other way to Angelus Road.  Here, he took a right rather than a left.  And we had to turn around again.  It was now 5:10.  I wasn't getting testy yet, but I could feel it working it's way up my throat.

We headed down Macedonia/Angelus Road and took the correct left onto 151 and headed toward Hartsville.  He drove in the left hand lane.  One hand was on the wheel the other was draped over the back of the seat.  He would approach a vehicle from behind and only after I had left imprints in the dash board would he pull around.  I had warned him not to hit the brake if he felt he might be speeding when a police cruiser appeared on the other side of the four lane.  "Nothing catches our eye like brake lights, " I explained.  He looked over at me and said not a word.  Just kept driving.  I tried to make idle chitchat to calm my nerves.  I blurted out one time that "you drive just like your father" and remembered then who had taught him to drive. 

We picked up Highway 52 and since neither of us had eaten, we stopped in at Taco Bell just outside Florence for a quick bite.  It was now 5:45.  I was glad to stretch my legs, my posterior and my nerves.  After we finished eating, it was back in the truck and off we went again.  We were now in serious traffic and I kept catching myself making little moaning noises.  I looked over one time, and I swear to you I saw my five year old son in his Billy the Kid pants and dress shirt, little boots all shined up spiffy...and stifled a scream.

We arrived at my younger son's sister-in-law's house where Arianna was having the final touches of makeup applied.  I was heading into the house to greet the family and heard the two McBride boys(to men) conversing about the trip up and I was not coming off in a good light.  I stomped over to them and announced to anyone who would listen that they should be grateful I had not fallen from the truck and kissed the ground in my gratitude to arrive not only in one piece...but alive. 

It didn't go over well with the driver who refused to relinquish my keys.  I swear he had a snear on his face and an evil laugh rumbling in his throat when we finally headed for home that night.  It's not a trip I would wish on anyone!  We were very nearly home when the sharp curve that separates Macedonia Church Road from Angelus Road appeared and I squealed in panic..."curve ahead...SHARP CURVE!"   Oh Lord, thank you for delivering me safely to the arms of my beloved...Amen.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Malaise Personified

I can't believe how long I've been away.  But when my blogging fans start hunting me down it is time to get my butt in gear and get out of whatever gear you would call molasses.  Everyday now for several weeks I have told myself  "go blog".  Everyday I answered myself with "I'll do it tomorrow."  When I began answering to the name Scarlet, I knew the gig was up.

I believe I have been in a malaise...not really a funk, not really depression (I don't have manic/depressive periods...just manic.)  I was like a well fed cat, content to piddle around doing not much of nothing, napping in the afternoon, watching my new addiction, Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the evenings and now here is something you will find hard to believe...I've only played three or maybe four games of Scrabble with my pal Lee in the past several weeks.  Why she hasn't called out the dogs on me, I have no clue.

But now here we are in the beginning of Spring, the greenhouse is loaded with plants (to get your own, for 99 bucks, free shipping, go here ( )  and Mac has been turning over the garden space and suddenly, I'm alive.  I think I may have been keeping that darned rodent, Phil company in his den.  I knew we were in trouble when he saw his shadow...I've been here before.  It's not a new condition, but one I promise myself not to visit to often.  So, today I return to the place I love the best, and offer some pictures up as a mea culpa to show why we call our place Orchard Cottage.  Then I'm going visiting, I've missed my friends.  First, here are the plum and peach trees all in bloom...followed by the pear and Victoria Plums...and the most spectacular flower in our garden...the Arianna Lily...all dressed in blue

I gave Mac a small green house for his birthday, and he has taken full advantage of its abilities...he has grown everything from seed and we have so many varieties of tomatoes it is umseemly...  

He is in and out of his new found paradise so much that I've decided that all he needs is a small cot out there to make his world complete!  

Monday, February 15, 2010

Alexander Graham Bell what have you done?

First of all, let me say right up front that this is not an's a grievance, pure and simple.  Or perhaps it's simply an Aesop fable turned on its' ear and then shaken like a snow globe.  I  never really wanted a cell phone.  It would irritate me no end to watch people walking around with those bluetooth (teeth?) contraptions glued in their ears and talking a mile a minute to someone I couldn't see.  I can't tell you how often I've nearly given myself whiplash jerking my head up to see who was talking to me only to discover them with a phone in hand or ear and not speaking to me at all.  And watching people driving down the highway with a phone in one hand and the steering wheel in another always gave  me the heebiejeebies.  Talk about a wreck looking for a place to happen!

But I bowed to convention and allowed my younger son and dil to give me my first and only cell phone.  It's a nice little Motorola with a few apps (  I later learned this meant applications,  not a sleep disorder).  It took me about a week to figure out how to answer it.  I still haven't mastered how to take a photo.  And the other day in a fit of boredom while Mac was in with the Doc I opened a music file to listen to some tunes...and then couldn't figure out how to turn it off.  I finally did learn to pause it so that the others in the room didn't have to be annoyed by Lady Gaga...I did tell you my son and dil gave me the phone?

So my older son got a new phone last week.  It's a Droid.  I think I have that right,  I know it's made by Verizon.  So, he's spent the week learning  about all it does.  It does plenty.  I keep hearing little shouts of "wow...look at what it does here!"  So, it does things like showing fast food  restaurant menus and nutrition values of each item; you can scan a bar code in a store and it tells you the price...but wait a minute...then it tells you where you can get it cheaper!  It takes pictures that rival his professional camera (he couldn't get a decent one of the 4 inches of snow we got on Friday night with his work camera , but the phone took some wowsers) and can find obscure music (complete with song name and artist) and then it plays  it for you.  You take your finger and move over to new pages and its GPS will show you where you are and a satelite picture of the exact spot. It gives you the weather and the temperature where you are standing. It plays a game with you when you are out walking.  I think he said it was Escape the Zombies.  It shows where zombies might be lurking and which route to take to avoid them.    This is not something I would do, I don't do dark walking.  This phone even hooks up to the internet and does things my computer can't do.  Who knew?

I'm sure that when I next see him, I'll be hearing about yet another thing that his  phone can do that my own phone  can't.  I hear from a reliable source that I have a wienie phone that I need to learn to master before considering a new model.  But I'm telling you, when he comes in and tells me that there is a "load the dishwasher app"  I'm going to be suitably impressed.  Oh, and headed for the Droid store.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oh Heavenly Seed...oh February Fever!

It's one week into February and already Pauxatauny Phil has come from his lair to tell me that we will have six more weeks of winter. Luckily for us we have Queen Charlotte who lives in North Carolina (Charlotte, I believe...hence the name) and has called that Yankee upstart a dirty rotten liar and banished him from the Queendom. It was a close call, your Majesty.

It's now that time to get dirt beneath my nails, pull weeds from the flowerbeds and curl up with some of the best reading material around when the sun goes down and the heat goes on. I have already made the acquaintance of some great folks who provide us with the most wonderful heirloom seed for the many things we grow in our garden. We have been ordering from them for several years and when we heard that the company they represented were no longer going to be offering home gardeners this valuable seed source, we were heart broken. The cost was so very affordable and the quality so high that we were really wondering what we were going to do. Then I got this message from Pattie and Mike and was just overjoyed!

Hi Sandra,
Thank you so much for your order and for your kind words. Below is some information about how we got started:
My husband Mike had worked for the SC Foundation Seed Association (SCFSA) for 37 years and began the home garden vegetable seed program there (to promote heirloom, organically grown and open-pollinated varieties for home gardeners).. In October 2009, SCFSA merged with another non-profit organization and at that time Mike was told that they would no longer offer the home garden vegetable seed program. After much prayer, Mike made the decision to go ahead and retire from SCFSA and to start Heavenly Seed LLC so that the heirloom, organically grown and open-pollinated seed could still be offered to home gardeners. We are so excited about the positive response we have received.
(If you need more information, let me know) THANKS!

We placed our seed order on a Tuesday and received the order on Friday. My fingers itch. We have decided to try a new cucumber called Armenian Melon...I love trying new "old" things. We will have five varieties of tomatoes, three different lettuce types, some really rad radishes...its time to plant cabbage and broccoli...sweet peas will need to be put into the ground...later on we will be getting our watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew seed to start. I'm trying to talk Mac into getting a small green house. Right now we use my 100 gallon fish aquarium to start seed. Okay, so it works well...but we need more room than it provides. I can not wait to get started. You know, when the seed catalogs start arriving, Spring can not be far behind.

I wish you happy gardening and lots of fun visiting Pattie and Mike at Heavenly Seed. You won't regret the visit. You don't have to live in South Carolina to take this trip. Man, I love the inter- net!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Goodby to those January Blues...

January has but two days to finish up her wicked wicked ways. It has been the most trying month so far. That is, as far as we are concerned. January 1st was okay, nothing to write home about...and it went downhill from there. Way downhill. Do you remember the little ditty we sang as children done to the tune of some other long forgotten song that went:

I was going down the highway
doing 90 miles an hour
when the chain on my bicycle broke
I was covered all over with scratches and bruises
and punctured to death by the spokes.

Now Mac's boyhood memory of that old favorite is somewhat rude and I refuse to print it here, but believe me when I say that this month, I feel like we were on board that bicycle (built for two) and am still picking spokes from all areas of my body. I can not go into all that has happened, but the only good thing that came out of it was Mac's eye surgery. Yea, Mac. He's a happy fella and I'm a happy gal for him. But the rest of life has just kicked us around, thrown in a punch or two and I'm not going to let February do that to us. I'm going to meet adversity head on, throw in a punch of self reliance and keep on truckin'.

You know, I have to keep reminding myself how incredibly blessed we are in that we have a roof over our heads, plenty to eat, the wherewithal to pay the bills and the comfort of friends and family. If only life were so good to the rest of our family and that family fall outs could be done away with, life would be perfect. I stopped striving for perfection long ago. Now I just hope for the best, oil the pedals every so often and make sure the chain is in good working order. Unfortunately, in January the chain came off the doohickey and left us rather tattered and torn. But that's okay. February brings a new chain and I hear that duct tape and WD40 are miracle workers. I am now armed for combat! Come on February, show me what you've got!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Back from the brink and four hours in hell...

It doesn't seem as though it's been four weeks since I posted, but it has. 2010 came in and knocked me on my butt in too many ways to dwell on. I've been pulling myself away from the abyss since the first day of January. Illness took it's toll. I know why they call it the swine flu, now. It's because you feel like you've been in the smoker for ever. Your chest is tight from coughing and your head is achy from being packed with the bi-products of sinus's in action. Your body is tired and your spirit is exhausted. And that's just from the flu. Never mind all the rest of the crap that life throws your way when you are to weak to defend yourself and your family. I am no longer on face book. I feel in my soul that it is evil. I began to feel better from the first day I closed my account. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. It felt wonderful.

Mac had his first cataract surgery three weeks ago. I had forgotten what an ordeal it is to drive someone who has no faith in the driving capabilities of anyone but themselves. It was horrible, that first trip. Yesterday he had the surgery on his second eye and the trip home was almost pleasant because he was still rather doped up and was busy entertaining himself with all the different ways to say foul words. He would look over at me as I drove and say "I'm really ****ed up." I would have to agree with him that indeed yes, he was really ****ed up, and continue with the drive. The trip is approximately 2 hours each way. The first two hours he was driving. Then there was the trip home. No problem. Today was the post op trip to see Dr Seltzer and of course, he couldn't drive because he still couldn't see well enough and he was still...well, messed up. Just a bit. We started off with him clutching the dashboard like an anchor that could keep him tied to the ground. We'd only gone five miles when I was warned to slow down. I was doing 40 miles an hour. We got onto the four lane with him tapping the dashboard, then tapping his leg...he was anxious and getting on my nerves.

I tried to remind him that I was a good driver (a professional driver, even) with a better driving record than he had. I was accused of "having contacts to purge my record". I took great umbrage at that remark as I haven't had so much as a parking ticket in over 30 years. There has been no reason to "purge my record" as he called it. We drove on. He told me again that I needed to slow down. I told him that I was doing the speed limit and had the truck on cruise control. I again reminded him that I was not the speeder in the family. When we arrived at Dr. Seltzer's office he said, "don't take offense if I get down and kiss the ground when you come to a stop." I glared at him. "Don't take offense if I kick you in the ass while you're down there making nice with the ground, then" I said. He laughed. Grudgingly.

The trip home was even worse. All the "good stuff" had now worn off. Now he was just feeling mean. He started as we pulled out of the parking lot. "You know I'm not going to let you ever forget it if you tap someone getting back on the road, " he said. I looked over to him, dark glasses hiding his a good bit of his face. "Oh, I'm going to tap someone all right, " I said. "I'm going to tap someone hard enough that they need a cast on that arm if that someone doesn't stop tapping the dashboard!" I pulled out into traffic. He kept telling me when a traffic light was coming up, as though I couldn't see it. I reminded him that he was the one who couldn't see, not me. "Yes, and you should respect that!" he snapped. I shook my head at that bit of wisdom and continued on my unmerry way. After we got back on 151 a car pulled up next to us. The motor was so loud, the hifi turned up to maximum that it caused the truck to vibrate. The young man in it was making "lets race" motions with his head. I was busy wishing I had a blue light at my side that I could whip out and pull this idiot over with. I already had the ticket written in my head. Mac was saying "get ahead of him, that noise if making me crazy." You know, it was on the tip of my tongue. But I was still an hour away from home. It would be a shame to end a 41 year marriage over his inability to ride with me at the wheel. At some point in the next few days however, I will be reminding him of his motto..."there ain't nothing funny about a woman with a gun."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Where I am and why

On the couch or in the bed. Because I have the flu. I feel that I may pull through the worst of it by the first of the week. Mac's surgery went exceedingly well, which is fortunate since I was in no shape to chase his ass down had he taken it in his head to run. I was doing good to be the driver home. The hacking you hear is me coughing. Now, too sick to be funny but have some fun stuff for you here. Please feel free to laugh and snort coffee through your nose. Or tea. Either will dampen your keyboard, but not your spirits. Back next week. I hope. Time for my medicine...and Happy New Year everyone!
Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative meanings for common words.

The winners are:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon
whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much
weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of
ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an
explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you
absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle (n), olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that
picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing
adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles
his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand):
The belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of
boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers
to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding,
subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.
The winners are:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people
that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer,
unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about
yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house,
which renders the subject financially impotent for
an indefinite period.

4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted
very, very high.

5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of
sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously
when you are running late.

7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.

8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease.
(This one got extra credit.)

9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending
off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like,
the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting
through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.

12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to
seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed
just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito
that gets into your bedroom at three
in the morning and cannot be cast out.

15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after
finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature:

16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both
stupid and an asshole.