Tuesday, June 19, 2012

slide tray

Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;
they will sing before the Lord,
for he comes, ...
  Psalm 96:12-13
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Singing for joy.  

Apparently the Father loves a good concert.  A heavenly sing-a-long.

We are told the angels sing.

King David was a singer - before he ever was a king.

The morning stars sang together at the time of creation.

"Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee - how great Thou art."
sang George Beverly Shea for well over fifty years of his life, and folks never tired of hearing that magnificent bass voice of his.

Not all of us are great singers.  But we all can sing our gratitude and joy to a Great God.

It is an opportunity not to be missed.  Singing for joy.                           
Have a joyful week ... Marsha

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
Thought I would share some more of my summer reading with you.  This one is non-fiction by Pulitzer Prize winner Anna Quindlen.  Her latest book is Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake and is essentially a commentary on life in general and her own in particular, from the vantage point of her sixtieth year.

She is witty, insightful and downright funny.  She also hits too close to home for my own comfort from time to time.

One of the early chapters is called "Stuff."  She writes, "I have a lot of stuff.  I bet you do, too."  She goes on to list her stuff.  Lots and lots of it.  Furniture, clothing, books, etc.

I once lost all my stuff overnight.  Thereafter, I found that having things didn't hold much appeal for me.  However, even with that stark experience as a reminder of how quickly all our belongings can disappear, it has been a continual struggle to avoid accumulation.  I thought maybe it was just me, but Quindlen points out that at least part of this accumulation bent is cultural.

"At some point in America, desire and need became untethered in our lives, and shopping became a competitive sport."

Now truthfully, I do not enjoy shopping.  I really do not, and never have.  I find it tiresome and uninteresting for the most part.  But still I sometimes find myself teetering on the edge of what Quindlen calls the "black hole of consumption."  Yep, I have stared into the abyss and found myself scared out of my wits.

Why just this morning I found myself wandering the aisles at Home Depot looking for ... well, just looking, mostly.  Yes, I needed a couple of small items, and they were cheaper here than at the local grocery market.  But still, I could have been in and out of there in five minutes; but somehow nearly an hour whizzed by before I came to myself and got the heck out of there before I took out a huge loan and ordered a whole-house-makeover.

And remember, I don't even like to shop.  What must life be like for those who actually enjoy this kind of endeavor?  Gads!  One quails at the thought.
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On a slightly different note, she writes about wardrobe after a "certain age" and I found myself laughing out loud at her description of owning upmteen pairs of black pants.  At some point, she asserts that all you really wear are black slacks and some kind of "colored jacket".  Oh my gosh, I thought it was just me.  Of course, I am more colorful than that, as I also own (and actually wear) grey pants and navy blue pants with other colored jackets, scarves, pendants and paraphernalia.  But still .... 
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If you are looking for an enjoyable journey through the age of consumerism and the general confusion called life, as seen through the eyes of an aging baby-boomer, and you don't mind laughing at yourself, you can expect to find plenty of cake among these candles.  The woman knows how to write.

What are you reading this summer?  Until next time ... happy reading. ... Marsha

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Three Prunes and a Peanut Butter Cookie

Giant Peanut Butter Cookies. Photo by Sharlene~W
This morning I began my digestive day with three prunes, Sunsweet to be specific.  They are actually very tasty but it makes me feel old to be eating prunes on purpose.  I always thought prunes were one of those dietary items destined to be disguised in some kind of combo dish.  That way you obtained the benefits of all their anti-oxidants and vitamins without being aware of what you were actually eating.

But no.  These days I know I need to eat my prunes and therefore, I just down a few (hard core /commando) with a cup of tea.

Ah, but then I decided to just go crazy and followed up the prunes with a gourmet peanut butter cookie from The Cookie Shoppe.  Wowzer!  What a rush.

I am pretty sure I will be able to run on the sugar high until sometime next week.  Of course the sheer size of that one cookie (somewhere between a pancake and a dinner platter) explains the hit to the old bloodstream.

But there is a wonderful benefit to this super-sized lip-smacker, I can bat my eyes and innocently proclaim, "But I only ate just one."

Ahhhh, I think I will go run around the block first, then scrub down the sidewalks, vacuum the garage, sweep the street, weed the south forty by hand, and then whip a dozen souffle's for the neighbors.

That ought'a do it.  Just in case you are wondering, I typed this little missive at approximately 120 words per minute.  Shoot, I could have written War and Peace in two hours if I had eaten two of those peanut butter cookies.  Yowzer!

I'm tellin' ya, John Denver and his measly Rocky Mountain High had nothing on me.  I am on a Peanut Butter Pinnacle here - so there!

Hope your day runs along nicely, too.  But if you are feeling a little sluggish, you might want to try munching down a peanut butter cookie the size of Texas.  It will fix you right up!
Until next time ... Marsha

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Love Those Blackberries - Hate those Chiggers

                                  Blackberry on the bush
My maternal grandmother, Hazel, was an imperious and somewhat intimidating old lady.  When visiting her home one was always reminded that one did not run in the house, one did not shout, one did not bang the screen door, and one always minded one's manners.  Just so.

She was a strict, fundamentalist, church-lady who always wore dark silk dresses to church with a hat and a little veil on the front of it.  At least that is how I remember her.  At home she wore sensible old brogans, with opaque stockings which, on particularly hot days, she sometimes rolled down below her knees, and held in place with those little rubber-band type garters of yesteryear.

The only toys she kept for the multitude of grandchildren (there were well over twenty five of us) who visited were "stored" on top of the refrigerator in an orange mesh bag with a draw string at the top.  I think it probably was originally a bag of either potatoes or oranges.  If you had known my grandmother, it would have made perfect sense to store the toys atop a tall appliance, as this was meant to assure that no one could play with them unless she first gave permission, and then she would personally reach up there and bring them down to child-level.

As a young child I was a bit afraid of her.  You can see why.

However, my fondest memory of her was so completely different from any other that I still smile when I recall it.  That hot summer morning, there was no silk dress, no hat, no church-lady demeanor.  That day we had some fun.

Never before or after did I ever see my Grandma Hazel in a pair of well-worn men's denim coverall's and an old work shirt.  A wide-brimmed, beat-up-looking, old felt hat was plopped over her hairdo. The stockings were gone, too, replaced by some big old white socks, with the legs of the coveralls tucked into them and topped off with actual rubber bands.

As my mother and my sister and I put on our own jeans and long-sleeved shirts, socks and tennis shoes, we were handed our own set of large rubber bands.  My mom had picked enough blackberries (for that is what we were preparing to do) to know what this was all about.  My sister was too little to ask or care; so I was the only one who asked Grandma Hazel "why" that day.  

"Why are we tucking our legs into our socks and putting rubber bands around our ankles? It is going to be really hot today.  Why are we wearing long-sleeved shirts?"  That was me.  Always, "why, why, why."  Drove pretty much everybody nuts.

Grandma Hazel responded with just one word.  "Chiggers" she said, as though that explained everything.

I was only a little girl and I had never been blackberry picking before.  I didn't even know what a chigger was.  Some other small fruit or something ?  "Chiggers?  I thought we were going after blackberries."

"Oh, we are going after blackberries.  But the chiggers will be going after us!"  She chuckled knowingly.

For those who have never lived in the Midwest and have never picked blackberries, chiggers are a tiny bug, so small they are hard to see with the naked eye, which bite anything that comes near.  The bites itch like crazy and make you feel like your skin is going to crawl right off your body.

Of course, that morning I was blissfully unaware as we picked up our pails, got into the car and drove a couple of miles into the country where the berry bushes were loaded with ripe, luscious, blackberries.

We waded into the thickets and we picked.  Boy, did we pick.  Buckets and buckets full.  Occasionally, but not often, I would feel a little prick near my foot.  But I was having so much fun (you could eat as many as you wanted while you picked and they were sooooo sweet on the tongue) that I hardly noticed.

What I did notice, though, was the sound of the buzzing of bees and various insects lazily flying about the berry patch.  Huge blue bottle flies caught the sun's rays as they flew past our heads. The sun was warm, and we were the only people in the patch, bending, plucking, plopping the berries into the pail.  Bend, pluck, plop.  There was a wonderful, purposeful, rhythm to our efforts.

The birds were out and singing away.  Mom and her mother talked quietly about this and that and nothing in particular.  Theirs was a strained relationship for the most part, but that day they seemed in real harmony.  My little sister and I picked, ate, picked, ate.  We squealed and ran around, playing as much as we picked.

By the time we loaded our haul into the trunk of the car and started home, though, I noticed something else.  I was squirming and scratching my ankles raw.  As soon as we got home, mom put my sister and me into the tub, scrubbed us and after our bath, she put calamine lotion on our bites. Fortunately there were not too many of them.               # # # # #

Over the next few days, mom and Grandma Hazel canned what seemed like dozens of jars of blackberries, made blackberry cobbler, and baked blackberry pies.  We were happily awash in blackberries.  Our teeth were purple and our lips were too.  We gave each other purple grins for days, my sister and I.  No amount of tooth brushing quite erased all the evidence of our summer blackberry-fest.

Our chigger bites healed up.  Our memories settled in.  I decided chiggers were the frog-kissing equivalent to getting to kiss the prince.  You have to wade through a lot of chiggers to get to the best berries. One of my earliest "life-lessons."              

To this very day I love blackberries.  And I still hate chiggers!

Hope your day is full of sunshine, good things, and nary a chigger in it.  Until next time ... Marsha

Monday, June 4, 2012

Begone the blues! Begonias are here!

Click to show "Begonia" result 16Around here the first thing you think about, when you think about planting anything, is whether it is on the deer's preferred menu.  If they like it, better skip it.  If they are hungry enough, they will eat it even if they don't like it.           

I am researching, non-obstructive-view fence contractors, and hope to have a small flower garden area fenced off from these doggoned deer soon.  I had no idea when we moved here last fall that they are more like goats when it comes to what they will eat.  Pretty much anything that doesn't eat them first.

But I just could not wait until the fence gets built.  So today I bought some begonias.  Just the fun of getting out my gardening gloves, and washing off my tool carry-all, and wiping off my tools, and dragging hoses around, snipping, digging, watering ... well, color me happy.

Sure it is just three small containers planted.  Nothing fancy, just something that was left here from the prior owners.  But it is a start.

Nothing banishes the blues like a little gardening.  And while, frankly, begonias aren't my favorites they will likely grow (provided they don't get eaten first) in the shady planters near our back patio.

I have taken sensible precautions:  sprayed 'em with that smelly deer repellent.  Awful stuff, but you do what you have to around here in "deer country."

Still, even spreading slug bait felt like fun.  I know, I know, I must be hard up for a little fun.  True, but cut me some slack here, I did have fun - just a few begonias, no gardening awards in the offing here.  But lots of smiles.  

Works for me!  till next time ...Marsha
(Note:  I got to go "up the hill" to my house for one day last week, and I wrote this post that day.  And BTW - the deer did eat one of the three pots of begonias, but a week later the other two are still doing just fine.)