Monday, August 31, 2015


When I was growing up I lived across the street from my cousin, JLSHall.  We lived in what was the boom of post-war housing.  We lived in small houses that now fit into the "tiny house" spectrum, all being in the 950-1100 sq. ft. range.

The houses in the photo above are not of my street but it could be.  The house on the far right looks amazingly like the house I grew up in -- white asbestos shingles, royal blue shutters, the same sort of small front porch but the roof was dark blue.  It sort of makes me homesick to look at this photo. My aunt's house was across the street and the color scheme was green. 

These houses were built with returning soldiers in mind and with the idea that there would be huge booms in the economy and retail and manufacturing and there was.  These houses were full of families -- kids in almost each and every one.  However, I assume the builders knew that the houses would be too small for very large families so they placed them on very large lots with room to expand.

We didn't expand and neither did my aunt and uncle.  My uncle however did build a rather large pigeon coop toward the back of the lot up against a patio that he put in the middle of the yard.  He had lots of pigeons and JLSHall and I loved to play in that coop much to our mother's dismay -- it wasn't all that tidy!  My uncle cleaned it out regularly but not as regularly as the pigeons messed it up.

It was great fun to be in that yard at dusk when he would whistle and the pigeons, with their little colored bands on their legs, would line up on the telephone wires and wait.

 He would fill the feed, open the door and they would all go home to roost for the night.  I loved playing with the bands.  They were very colorful and fun to sort.

So, when I saw Pidge for the first time that is what I thought of -- those fun evenings watching Uncle Frank's pigeons.  So now, every morning I am on the lookout for Pidge -- and he is usually there.

I don't know much about pidgeons but my husband says it is odd that he is alone, they usually travel in pairs.  I don't know where his partner is, or his flock but I do know that I really enjoy looking out the door first thing and seeing him pecking around on the patio or sitting on the fence.  He makes me smile.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Old Fashioned Living

I know I am getting old.  Maybe that old adage "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is really  true.  I always thought I was on the cutting edge but now I am not so sure. 

I have been reading blogs written by women who enjoy living in a different era.  Some do it to the extreme and on purpose, others just don't see any reason to change the way they do things -- "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" sort of mindset.

I have sort of been drifting backward to the days of my youth. Now, don't get me wrong, I have no intention of giving up my electric lights, my indoor plumbing, my television, dishwasher, computer, etc.  However, there are some things that we have/do today that I think are detrimental to our health and planet and those things are things I would like to find an alternative for.

I had just about gone "paper-free" in the kitchen although I will never train my family to use cloth napkins rather than paper.  However, after a recent eye infection and the yuck factor that comes from that, I went back to paper in the kitchen and the bathrooms.

However, with that said, my sensibilities are sending me right back to regular towels -- I just can't stand the waste of the paper.

Another thing that has gotten my attention lately is plastic -- again.  My house is almost plastic free but I do still buy plastic food bags of the zip lock variety.  I made a bunch of cookies last week and stored some in a Hefty zipper bag.  The next morning I opened the bag and was met with a horrible, toxic plastic smell.  Out went the cookies and off I went to buy some glass jars to store leftovers and such in.  Last night I was thinking about it and checked the brand and decided that I won't buy Hefty anymore but will continue to buy Ziploc brand.  I have never had any problem with Ziploc products but I am going to move toward glass as often as I can.

I was thinking about all the plastic in our homes as I was wrangling a bunch of coat hangers -- wire and plastic alike.  Then, my eyes landed on a coat hanger that I have had in my closet forever.  It was "made" by my cousin's grandmother who was like another grandmother to me.  She lived with my cousin, aunt and uncle and they lived right across the street from me so she was a grandmotherly figure to me as well.  She used to sit and cover these coat hangers with strips from old sheeting.  She would make them by the dozens.  Everybody in the family wanted some. 

 She would cut worn out sheets into long strips and then use a larks head knot to cover the entire hanger.  You can tell they are old because the hanger is much heavier than metal hangers today and the sheeting hasn't fallen apart and these are at least 60 years old.  I wish I had more because they are a wonderful alternative to the plastic ones in the closet now.  I might have to try my hand at it.

Another thing that has been changed around here are the plastic cups I schlep to school for Bean to have a drink after school in the car.  I have a couple of these

but have become increasingly concerned about them.  I know they are BPA free but the straw mechanism is complicated and I forget to get them out of the car and I am never sure that I get them clean enough and I don't like the idea of leaving them in a hot car, BPA or no.  So, I have made a change from these to these

Yes, Bean will be drinking from a humble mason jar with a BPA free lid adapter and a straw -- straight forward and easy to clean.

And, last but not least, we have a new creature in the back garden.  It is the biggest pigeon I have ever seen.  He lets the sparrows throw the seed out of the feeder (out of sight here) and then he forages food from the patio.  He is huge. He is really gorgeous.  Love having him around,

These are the earth shattering, life changing things that have been on my mind this week.  Now I guess I will get back to the laundry and sweeping and I am going to try a rice pudding recipe I received yesterday (thank you Mary).  I will let you know how it turns out!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In the Blink of an Eye

It was Monday.  Hubs and I decided to spend the day doing fun things.  We went to Northeast Mall, to Sears, to buy a line splitter (I have no clue, don't ask).  We went to Cabela's to buy fitover sunglasses (they are lovely).  We went to lunch at Chaps (best burgers in the world).  We went by my daughter's house to get a pick-up sign for my granddaughter's express line pickup.  We were too early so we went for a little ride.  It was a lovely, relaxed day.

And then it wasn't.

We were driving south on US 377 and had just gone through the Kroger intersection.  We were in the far left hand lane next to the turn lane.  We saw the car turn, we heard the explosive impact, we never saw the motorcycle.  On impact there were vehicle parts flying into the air.  The motorcycle was completely decimated.  The car's front end was gone, the driver had lost control and was up on the curb then back on the street and finally came to a stop.  As we passed by we could see him -- the motorcycle rider.  He was on the pavement.  He was young, not very big, lots of dark hair and, on quick review, very broken -- he was gone.

Hubs tried to stop but the traffic was bad and we couldn't.  I grabbed my phone and called the police.  As we turned the corner to go to Bean's school we saw the police officers who usually monitor the traffic through there (5 schools in close proximity) turn on their sirens and head that way.  As we waited for Bean we saw the Careflight helicopters overhead -- two of them.  Neither for the motorcycle rider. 

There were four people in the car -- all adults.  Two were ok and two were taken, by air, to local hospitals in critical condition -- one went immediately into surgery from all accounts.  The last report I heard was that they were all expected to be ok.  My daughter's neighbor, a fire fighter that was on one of the helicopters, told her the people in the car would be fine but that it was a really awful accident.

They finally released the name of the young man.  I searched for a facebook page for him and found it.  There he was with his blue motorcycle -- a crotch rocket as they are called.  He was very proud of it.  It looked to be brand new.  Some of the comments were disturbing -- they made mention of his reckless driving.  There were comments from his mother about how dangerous and scary it was.  There were comments from a girl that I assumed was his girlfriend. I went to her page.  The pain was palpable.   Today she has posted photos of a makeshift memorial at the site with her laying on the place that his body last rested. 

There were calls to the Keller police department last weekend reporting a blue motorcycle driving very fast and popping wheelies on this same road.  They have no way of telling if it was the same driver.  However, this young man's rate of speed as he made impact with the car was at least, if not greater than, 100 mph.  It was 2:30 in the afternoon on a busy street -- the first day of school with lots of buses and parents on their way to pick up children.  It is sobering to think that, had he swerved another way or weaved between two different cars, it could have been us as we were that close.  As the debris rained down from that clear, blue sky we could hear it hit the ground -- we were close enough to check our car to see if anything had hit it.  Physically we, and all those around us, were fine but the emotional impact is unexplainable.   I visited the DFW Scanner Facebook page and joined in the convo there and everybody who witnessed this tragedy were shaken and expressing a good deal of distress over watching it.  Myself included.  My husband was shaken to the point that he went very quiet and was visibly upset. 

So, this morning as I read comments from his mother and see his girlfriend's attempts to understand, I have to admit, I don't understand.  Looking at this young man's photo -- he is just a baby -- born the year my son graduated high school.  He had his whole life ahead and jeopardized it for a thrill.

In the blink of an eye how so many lives were changed.  It is life changing to witness a person die -- it was quick -- it was irreversible.  The people in the car might be ok physically but what about emotionally.  They will always question whether they could have changed something even though they probably never saw the motorcycle bearing down on their car.  The witnesses who watched helplessly as this young man left this earth, a broken child -- somebody's child, somebody's special person -- and we wonder why.

Monday started out a really good day.

And then, it wasn't.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Slow Thursday

Today is starting out to be a slow, relaxing day.  We had some rain last night which has lowered our temperature to the mid 60's (F) -- a pleasant relief from the triple digits of the recent past.  As I ventured out into the garden to enjoy the respite from the heat I captured a few snaps to share.

Not sure the rain is over and isn't that a sad tree in the property behind us?

The remains of the storm from last night

The garden looking pretty good -- thanks Hubs!

The birds are enjoying multiple bathing opportunities -- also still have to plant ot the pots

Baby pears on my non-bearing pear tree
the sky yesterday morning

isn't there an old saying about red skies at morning, sailor take warning?

Lovely wispy zigzaggy pink clouds
one of our resident cardinal couples

So, my thoughts for today are on doing some batch cooking and beginning a new quilt.  Also, maybe starting some autumn cross stitch.  We will see how it goes.

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Taking Inventory

I am a coward -- in regards to health care.  There is no other way to put it.  I am amazed at modern medicine and the advances made therein but when it comes to me, I am chicken.  I have been known to skirt the health care issues in the past and that didn't bode well with me so, for the last couple of years, I have made a conscious effort to "put on my big girl panties" and quit acting like a baby and get on with it.

So, this summer, my goal was to get all my chickens in a row, so to speak, to get all the health care issues addressed.  So, here is how I have done so far:

1.  Dental care -- three small fillings, two crowns re-done -- completed --
     everything doing well.  Not bad considering that I hadn't been to the dentist
     since the chemo.

2.  Eyes tested and new glasses -- completed--cataracts right on schedule but not
     ready for surgery

3.  Mammogram-- ok, this was the scariest thing ever and I am not sure why. 
     Not the first one but without a doubt terrifying.  Completed.  Everything is

4.  CT Scan -- upcoming

5.  Port removal - yes, please.

So, I seem to be doing well in my attempt to be a functioning adult and quit whining. 

In addition to all that good news and organization I leave you with this smile for the day--

Bean's first day of kindergarten! They usually take a first day photo in front of the school but today it was taken at her place in her classroom.  She was very excited that she was placed in the room she wanted and was very happy that there is a large selection of books in the reading area of the room.  Oh yes, I guess I should add that during the summer, she became a Reading Bean as well! We had all been working with her on her reading but over the summer she just took off and can read whole books all by herself! Her mother is looking forward to a very good year!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Introducing Wolfgang

We have a new addition to the back garden.  It is a little gnome that has come to live with Arlo.  His name is Wolfgang.  Hopefully they will get on well and he will be helpful in the garden.

Wolfgang holding a flower pot -- yes, it was Bean's job to take him to his new home

Arlo and Wolfgang outside their "door"
Wolfgang came from Joann Fabrics where they had a small display of Fairy Garden supplies on sale -- I guess fairy gardens are a "summer thing".  I procured him for the hefty price of $1.47.  I might go back in a few days and see what else they have.  I am not sure how the Hubs feels about me building a fairy garden in all the Asiatic jasmine but he hasn't said anything yet so I am thinking he is ok with it since he is the one that decided that Arlo's new home should be in the boulder.

I am hoping that as summer starts to fade and autumn creeps in Arlo and Wolfgang are cozy in their sturdy, boulder home -- no more trees for Arlo -- he was very upset when the tree fell -- oh my goodness, the things that came out of that little gnome's mouth -- shameful. 

So, there you have it -- Arlo and Wolfgang in their new home.  Hopefully there will be more additions to the "garden" in the future.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer

I don't go to the beach.  I don't live near a beach.  I do, however, like to read beachy novels.  So, when my daughter brought this one home from the library I took a look and decided I would like to read it as well.

It is the story of Maggie, the year-round, non-wealthy, resident of Nantucket.  Maggie lives with her mother and brother Ben until her mother marries Thaddeus Ramsdale and they all move to the Ramsdale farm.  With this marriage, Maggie and Ben gain a grandmother named Clarice and a lovely step-father in Thaddeus.  They have a good life.

It is also the story of Emily Porter.  A summer resident swimming in money who also lives in New York in the winter and Florida on occasion.  Emily loves Ben.

Emily and Ben have a tumultuous relationship and it is ended by Ben.  Emily meets Cameron, has an affair, becomes pregnant, they marry and live in a loveless marriage for five years.

Maggie works as an occasional magazine writer and housekeeper and loves Tyler,  Tyler  leaves the island and Maggie meets Cameron.  They have an affair. Maggie gets pregnant.

I don't think I will say any more.  The plot is deliciously twisted, there are a lot of tears, an accident, a near miss, a friendship renewed, a love reunited, a new beginning. 

It was a good book, a page turner toward the middle.  I enjoyed it and I recommend it.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Rule of Life -- Disclaimer -- Religous Heavy

For the past few years I have been a member of a religious order known as the Daughters of the King.

  I am no longer a member of that order by choice.  Our diocese has gone through a huge change by leaving the American Episcopal Church.  Our diocese was involved in a lengthy and ugly battle for our property.  Our diocese was in litigation for over five years but we did come out the other side with our property and so we begin again.  We are no longer called "Episcopal" as in aligning ourselves with the national Episcopal church but we are now Anglican and aligned with the larger Anglican Communion and the ACNA.  The daughters who were involved with the DOK have now been offered an alternative that they could take although not required.  Some of the daughters have chosen to stay with DOK but I have not.  I am moving forward with the discernment period for the Daughters of the Holy Cross.

 Not being a cradle Episcopalian all of this didn't affect me quite like it did others although I didn't relish the thought of arriving for church of a Sunday morning and finding myself locked out and on the curb.  I do care deeply for my church and the people an clergy therein and I don't like the idea of having to seek out a new place so I am moving forward in this new reality.

The emphasis in DHC is a bit different than DOK.  DOK is all prayer all the time which is what drew me in because I figure as a common person I can't do a lot but I can pray and believe in the practice wholeheartedly.  DHC focuses on prayer as well but equally weighted are evangelism, study and service and that is to be our rule of life.  I am on board with all that but I have to say that study is my hardest -- getting into the Word is so overwhelming to me.  I need to work on that.

It was suggested in DOK that we keep a prayer journal and there was even a meeting to show us how to make one.  For some of our avid scrapbookers it was an opportunity to be very creative.  I didn't go to the meeting and I never made the prayer journal -- popcorn prayers seems to be my go-to method for prayers. 
It was also suggested that we keep a prayer journal for DHC and I have taken that to heart and realize that I could benefit from being a little more organized in my approach to things.  After getting started I also realize that this isn't something that can be "done" like a scrap book.  It is an evolving thing.  It is almost a living thing.  So, when I first started building this I realized that it isn't an activity that I can sit down to and be done - it is ongoing and I needed to just relax and realize that.  Also, I see that it has the potential to become more of a Rule of Life journal rather than just a prayer journal  as we work our way through this discernment period.

So, anyway, this is my journal.  It is very plain and very humble but I hope that it helps me focus on this part of my life a little better.

I took a plain 7X9 sturdy plastic binder and outfitted it with two sets of plain dividers and appropriate paper. Although not a scrapbooker  I found some faith-affirming stickers to add to the dividers to keep me inspired.

I labled each divider with things that I thought I would like to include in this journal.  I will probably change that around as I go because I was very specific but who knows, I might become even more specific.  We will see how it and I grow.

This is a cute little prayer prompt that I put in the section labelled "prayer prompts".  I used Bean's hand for this and showed her what I was doing.  She wanted to know which finger was for her!  I think that my prayers, except for the morning and bedtime prayers, are going to be written.  I think my mind won't wander so much.  A lady I know writes her prayers in a letter to God and I think that sounds so personal and real.  Also, I did find a site on Pinterest where the author gives you a daily prayer prompt to write about and I think I am going to start there.

I added a section for the Rosary -- I started with the Anglican Rosary, drew it out and added some prayers on sheets behind it.  I have always just used this rosary with my own choice of prayers, mostly the Jesus prayer, so I did a google search and found some really nice prayers to use here -- my favorite is the Celtic prayer.

I will also add the same for the Roman rosary as that is what we use at church.  It will require more drawing and more writing but I did load a Rosary prayer app to my tablet which will be helpful.

I have a section for Scripture Study that I plan to use  as I work on getting into the Word.  Not my strong suit here so I decided to make the pages a little fancier -- maybe a bit inspiring. 


As I said earlier, study is overwhelming to me -- I question why I haven't read the Bible cover to cover, I question how I would even do that, I have tried starting with the Old Testament but I have to say that, as much as I love genealogy, I always get hung up on that part.  However, I was always taught that to understand the New Testament you have to have read the Old Testament so that is where I always start. 

So, trying hard to move away from the idea that you have to read the Bible front to back in order, I was intrigued by the mention in an earlier discernment of lectio divina --

This made sense to me -- don't try to read the whole thing at once, do this and it will be a joy rather than something to be endured.  Baby steps.  I can do that.

The tools that I am going to use, other than my journal, are these --

A good study Bible that I can write in -- I have one but it isn't easy to read so I am going to have to work on that.

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer. 

A One Year Bible for Women -- this is a Bible that is divided up differently -- each day you get a passage from the Old Testament, the New Testament and Psalms.  I think that would be beneficial to me as I approach this new endeavor.

Another thing that makes this group different from DOK is that there is the expectation of service -- a service project.  I think that will be good for all of us -- it sort of completes the circle in my mind.  We haven't touched on that yet, it is for the upcoming weeks but I am looking forward to what my fellow Daughters have to offer.

So, that is what I have been up to. 

Don't worry, dear Readers, I am not turning this blog into a diary of my spiritual journey.

And On We Go

Here are a few photos of the progress in the front of the house.  I didn't take "before" photos so just picture a dozen or so hawthorn bushes that were not doing particularly well.  I believe we have had so many plant problems because this house was built on rock -- yes, rock -- and topsoil was brought in for landscaping purposes but it isn't all that deep and I think it just can't sustain all the big bushes and such that people have put in.  So, anyway, here is the front --

right side of the gate -- bushes gone

it is a long little stretch of bed

the planting has commenced

yes, he is measuring with a stick -- I don't know who that strange man in the baggy clothes is

still more to come
I will post a picture of the finished product when it is a finished product. 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Allen, Allen, How Does Your Garden Grow?

Well, that is a complicated question.  Which garden are you speaking of? Perhaps this unruly, overgrown example of what NOT to do when landscaping?

The Dewberry and Mystery Vine creeping up the Folly
The Hawthorn being eaten by that lovely creeping Asian shrub -- can't remember the name
Well, Allen has been spending the summer -- the entire summer -- in an effort to remedy the situation.  He has a deep tan which he has never had being a redhead and all and I think he has permanently injured his right elbow digging up stumps and pulling out roots.  No, I haven't helped him.  My job is to just get out of the way and make iced tea.

So, after many weeks of grueling labor and almost 100 lawn clipping bags put out for pickup this is the end result~

New Redbud tree to replace the broken Hackberry

Asiatic Jasmine everywhere

now you can see the boulders and the hollies

bags of clippings all gone

the mint bed under control
Arlo in his much sturdier new home

Vast improvement, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Hobbit in a Hole

I don't really like to put the children's photos on the internet but I couldn't help myself this time.  How do you like my little hobbit in a hole?  She was having some "time alone" as she puts it.  She needs time alone every day to read and do her art.  However, she didn't really want to be alone so she constructed a quiet spot with the chair, cushions and a quilt.  It was quiet for a while and wasn't.  Clearly some of us need more quiet time than others!

Very quiet

Uh oh -- somebody has the giggles

Quiet time almost over

The stuffed doggy friend's name is Graham, by the way.