The Black Cat Blue Sea Award

Thank you so much to Patricia Davis from the kindergartenknowledge blog for nominating me for the Black Cat Blue Sea Award!  She must have known that I needed some easy way to ease myself back into writing a blog post!  I have had a week long forced vacation from my blog writing, due to computer difficulties.

I have had so much fun getting to know Patricia through her blog and her wonderful comments.  Make sure to click the link above so you, too, can enjoy a great reading experience!

Back to the award…..this is an award given and received by fellow bloggers and is meant to be fun. If any nominees are not interested in The Black Cat Blue Sea Award, participation is not required.

The rules are as follows:

black cat blue sea award..png

The  questions I was asked to answer:

1. What personal rewards do you receive from blogging?
I would have to say the biggest personal reward I receive from blogging are the friendships I am making with people from all over the world.  Blogging is an invitation to explore not only my own joy of writing and love of words but the words and ideas of others. There are so many wonderful, funny, sincere people out there that it restores my faith in the goodness of people on a regular basis. So many people have huge issues in life but they deal with them with grace, dignity and humor. These same people are quick to encourage everyone around them. I am grateful to the blogging community. I am also finding out that a great number of people from my church read my blog.  That has also been a fun way to connect.

2. What place in the world would you like to visit? Why?
This is a really hard question for me.  I love to travel and see things.  If I had unlimited resources and a husband who shared the love of being gone I would probably never be home. My bucket list includes places like the Grand Canyon because it is such an amazing creation that God has gifted us. The list also includes Mexico because I think a week by the ocean and on the beach would be so relaxing. I also love any place historic because I have always loved history. I have been to Europe waaaaay back in 1977 and would love to go back and see how things have changed since then. Actually anywhere my family is, is also a great place to be! It would also be fun to stop in and actually see my fellow bloggers in person, sit down for a cup of tea and have a visit.

3. What are your four most favorite books?
Another hard question!  I love to read…..I still read labels on the catsup bottle!  Anyway, I digress…..four favorite books: Blink by Ted Dekker (I love the possibilities it presents), The Help by Kathryn Stockett (I have never seen the movie but I love the characters in this book), Grace For the Moment by Max Lucado (one of my favorite devotionals), the Bible (I would be so lost without this book!), and I am adding a fifth book – the Reference Guide for Essential Oils  (It is so full of good information.)

My seven nominees are:

1.PaperPuff
2.BeeOrganizedWithPamela
3.OnceUponAHotFlash
4.UnmeasuredJourneys
5.CobwebEmporium
6.RabbitPatchDiary
7.Alheri

These seven bloggers have made me think, they have made me laugh out loud, they have inspired me but most of all they have made me wish I could meet them in person

The three questions I have for these bloggers are:

1. How do you find your inspiration for a blog post?

2. What do you enjoy most about where you call home? Why?

3. What is your favorite thing to do and with who (or is it whom)?

“Every time you post something online, you have a choice.
You can either make it something that adds to the happiness levels in the world—or you can make it something that takes away.”
Zoe Sugg

 

 

 

 

Stupid Computers

The Testy Laptop.JPG

I am learning, the hard way, that electronics (especially computers) can be troublesome pieces of equipment. I am also coming to realize I might be slightly addicted to my laptop and I am lost when it is on the fritz.  My husband laughed when he read the word – slightly.  I am not sure why…..okay, maybe I know why.

For the last couple days our laptop has the annoying habit of just shutting down while in the middle of important tasks. This is so irritating when I am in the middle of typing something amazingly profound for a blog post.

I am not often profound so when I am having a really deep thought I need to just keep going with it. Profoundness (or is it profundity?) should never be interrupted….especially for something like electronic issues.  Maybe if I knew anything about computers it would not be such an issue?

For this reason I am a day late on my blog posting.  It does make me wonder if God knew how busy this week would turn out to be and how many weird, non-normal things my husband and I would run into. Everything from  relatives in the hospital to rainstorms that sent us over 4 inches of rain in one afternoon have guaranteed that our week was kind of out of sync.

I have decided to cut myself some slack on making my deadline and receive the extra day as a gift. I have a feeling that many of us could use a day of no computers and time to focus on family, friends, rain and just taking the time for a big sigh.

The computer issue also insures that this will be a short blog post due to the fact I have no idea how long it will stay working.  I think the problem is in the part where the power cord plugs into the computer. The battery has long since died and we have just been keeping it plugged in.

Once I get the thing up and running I sit very very still so as not to jostle the cord. I may have to take it to a computer doctor to have it properly diagnosed and see if a  5 year old laptop is worth fixing or if it should be on the “do not resuscitate” list.

If I do not reply to a comment or leave a comment on your post; you will now know the reason why.  I do not mean to ignore you…..in fact when the computer is being pesty I really miss keeping in touch! So many of you I will probably never meet in person, but I have come to think of you as friends.

May you have a blessed weekend!

To err is human –
and to blame it on a computer is even more so.
Robert Orben

Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_computers.html

 

 

 

The County Fair

chicken-grandma-at-the-fair

The Chicken Grandma Goes to the Fair.

 

There is a county in our area that has the most amazing county fair. The famous Clay County Fair (or as we used to call it the Spencer Fair – is located in the town of Spencer) is one of the  biggest county fairs I know of.

My husband and I decided we would attend yesterday as it was not raining. It was cold but we decided wearing a coat was better than using an umbrella to stay dry. It was also better than some years when it is so hot you just sit and bake in the sun. At least when it is cold and windy you can add more clothes…..when it is hot there is only so much you can take off before you either scare people or get arrested.

Every day at this county fair they have a special gate admission for various groups.  The day we went was a discount for senior citizens. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) we do not yet qualify for this discount.  The only concern we had was would there be enough benches for us to rest on when we wanted to sit down? Senior day tends to see the benches with lots of white haired (or no haired) people utilizing them.

We found seating was not such a problem this year as a lot of the seniors rented scooters or rode around on golf carts. After walking around the entire day those scooters and carts looked really, really good!

We spent the day wandering the grounds looking at farm machinery, antiques, tractors, and classic cars. Those are my husbands favorite categories. I love to go in the buildings that have the displays of hand-made quilts, cards, scrapbook pages, canned goods, etc.

It was also fun to taste the samples of the products the vendors were trying to sell. There was a booth that had the most amazing fried bacon Wisconsin cheese. I wanted to buy some till I saw the price. I am a little to tight to pay that much for a small square of cheese.

I love to watch the salesmen trying to sell the gadgets and gizmos.  I do have to restrain myself from purchasing these gadgets and gizmos because how many of them do I really need? At least that is what I keep telling myself; as the man is slicing and dicing vegetables and telling me every reason that I should possess that gadget…..and he has some really good reasons.

A day at the fair is not complete without purchasing a 1/2 pound pork tenderloin sandwich basket for our meal. My husband and I usually share a basket because that is a lot of food and we need to save room for important food like nutty bars and/or Tom Thumb donuts.

The Poultry Building is also a big draw for me…….I guess I would not be the Chicken Grandma if I did not like chickens?  My husband just laughed and wondered if I really needed to see them when I could look at chickens any time I want to. I just told him these were different chickens and went on to have a little conversation with someone else’s girls. They were all very attentive when I spoke with them.

One of our favorite buildings is the second oldest one on the fairgrounds…..the Agriculture building. They are going to be taking it down as it is no longer up to code. This made us sad as we like the old buildings and this one always had the farm produce, home-made wines,  4-H exhibits and the mammoth pumpkins.

 

Maybe it made us sad because we really don’t like to see change. There is a comfort in the familiar. There is a comfort in things remaining constant. It is not always possible to keep things as they were; but knowing that fact does not make change any easier to do.

I have a feeling that the older I get, the less I will like change. I totally agree with the old adage, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  Unfortunately the Agriculture building is “broke”. I will get over it (even though I am not sure I want to) eventually.

There is nothing permanent except change.
Heraclitus

Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/heraclitus165537.html?src=t_change

A Popcorn Evening

caramel corn.JPG

Lately my husband and I have had a craving for caramel corn. I decided it was time to make a batch so we could just get that craving over with.  I whipped out the old air popper from the back of the cupboard, hauled out the bowls and paper bags and got out the recipe.

Later as we sat eating our bowlful of caramel corn we started to reflect on the expectations I used to have when I made popcorn when our boys were small.

I always had the vision of three boys, freshly bathed, sitting in their jammies eating popcorn. In my vision these boys (Thinking back I am not sure whose boys I was seeing in my dreams) were quietly holding their colorful Tupperware bowls full of white buttery popcorn. They were eating their treat slowly,  kernel by kernel and avidly watching the family friendly movie I had checked out from the local library.

Also in this vision my living room was dusted, vacuumed, and had everything in it’s place. The vision resembled a Norman Rockwell painting.

For some reason the reality of popcorn/movie night with our family never ended up looking quite like that Rockwell painting. It started out with great expectations…..three boys were freshly bathed, had colorful Tupperware bowls with popcorn and a movie was playing.

After that it went downhill.  Three boys were soon scrambling around on the floor, arguing about who was sitting in who’s space or who had taken someone’s bowl. With all the scrambling around going on the popcorn did not stay in those wonderful bowls and ended up under the couch, behind the end tables and everywhere but in the bowls.

By the time the movie had ended and they had been put to bed our living room looked like there had been an explosion in a popcorn factory. I was crabby and my husband would gently (and sometimes with a smirk) remind me that we had “real” little boys and this is how they acted……he would know as he had three brothers and a sister.

Our popcorn/movie nights are much quieter now with just the two of us. No scrambling children and no popcorn flying to land behind the furniture. Those previous nights now are just memories that bring a smile to our faces…..it is always easier to smile when popcorn explosions are memories!

If you are the parents of small children and want to give the popcorn Rockwell vision a try or you just have a craving for something sweet, here is a great recipe for caramel corn.

Microwave Caramel Corn
8 quarts popped popcorn
2 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Divide the popcorn into two large bowls.
Boil butter, brown sugar, syrup, and salt in heavy saucepan for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add: vanilla and stir in.
Remove from heat and stir in soda
Divide and pour over popped popcorn.
Stir and put each bowl of popcorn into a large brown paper grocery bag.
Microwave each bag for 1 1/2 minutes, remove and shake,
microwave 1 1/2 minutes more, shake and pour into bowl.
Can also be baked in oven on flat pans at 250º for 1 hour – stirring every 10 minutes.
NOTE: I use real butter as I think is does not get as greasy.
I also like to use an air popper for the popcorn.

My family is my strength and my weakness.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/aishwaryar180644.html?src=t_family

 

 

Doing Life….Together

Family.JPG

My husband and I had the opportunity to go to a wedding this weekend of a cousin. It was a great time spent with family that you don’t always get to talk to. It was so much fun reconnecting with some of his cousins.

Lots of childhood stories were passed around the table at the reception. Stories of games played at family gatherings, tales of “remember when…….”, time spent comparing memories each cousin had of the same event in their past, and stories of uncles and aunts who pulled pranks on newlywed couples (also known as Shivareeing….and nope I am not sure how to spell that!).

The sense of family and being together was like a warm blanket wrapped around our hearts and souls. The feeling of belonging to something that was timeless brought a contentment that is hard to explain. As talk and laughter swirled around that church fellowship hall it was neat to just stop and look around to absorb the joy of relationships.

So many times in life, busyness gets in the way of relationships and so it is good to have an event that celebrates that very thing. It is good to be reminded that these cousins and siblings have been there your entire life and you can pick up the threads of your childhood anytime you get together.

There is something special about the bond of siblings and cousins. They know pretty much everything about you and still love you….they have to because they are family! They know your strengths and your weaknesses and if you have stayed in touch they will always have your back. It is indeed, a good thing when your family also becomes your friends.

Talking to a cousin or sibling will definitely keep you grounded as they never, ever forget all the brilliant (and stupid) things you did as a kid. They will not let you forget that you shot your brother in the back with a BB gun (this would be my brother in law). They will never let you forget that you put a shotgun shell through your mom’s living room ceiling (another brother-in law ….though my husband usually gets the blame for this one). The stories of roller skating in Grandma’s basement, playing in haymows and remembering certain favorite toys at uncle’s and aunt’s homes are such sweet memories.

I always have so much fun just listening to these stories of my husband’s life. We have been married almost 36 years but every time we get together with his family it seems I learn something new about his childhood.

Maybe that is part of the beauty of relationships…..there is always more to be learned about another person, another facet to their life. I have a feeling it may take way more than my lifetime to really know everything about this man God gave me.  I think that is a good thing.

 

 

A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost
Marion C. Garretty

Chipped Jars

The Pantry.JPG

It has been rainy the last couple days so it seemed like a good time to start organizing the pantry. I have been lax on doing that during the produce picking and canning frenzy that is typical of this season.

I discovered this was becoming an urgent matter when I went to put away some of the jars of salsa and tomato juice that I had canned yesterday. My shelves were a disorganized grouping of empty jars mixed in with filled jars and there wasn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason to jar placement. I totally needed to do some organizing so I would have room for more filled jars.

I decided this would also be a good time to set aside the jars of produce that will go to the kids. (Ulterior motive was that it would free up more shelf space for the rest of the stuff  needing to be canned and preserved.)

As I moved things around and moved empty jars to more accessible locations; I thought I should probably check the rims on those empty jars. Some of the jars are pretty old as they came from my grandma, mom and mother in law……heirloom jars?  Some of those jars are even the old blue ones!

During the years of canning they eventually tend to chip on the edges and need to be weeded out. I might have to take a look at Pinterest to see what I can do with the slightly chipped jars in my possession. I am open to any crafting suggestions!!

Chipped Jars.JPG

I hate it when I find those chipped jars by the method of them not sealing. That always seems like such a waste of a good lid……so today I thought I would get a jump on the rest of the canning season.

Some of those chips were pretty hard to find and the only way to discover them was to run my index finger around the rim. It seems my fingertips are better at finding chips than my eyesight…..my age is showing????

The chipped jars got me to thinking. Sometimes we, as people, are chipped jars. Some of our chips are big enough that others can easily see them. Other chips need the gentle finger of the Master to find.

Sometimes it is hard to even realize that something in life has put a little chip in our life. We cannot understand why it happened or sometimes even how it happened……all we know is that it did happen and we are left wondering what to do with a life that now looks different than we thought it should.

My brain then journeyed on to the thought that when someone has a chip, large or small, as a fellow human we should treat them gently. It also got me to thinking that the Master is the authority on repurposing and using our chipped lives for something different than what we thought they would be.

I never did totally get these thoughts untangled as I worked in my pantry. I have a feeling that this is a concept I will have to ponder on a while longer. Maybe a long while longer.

repurposed

 

I am hoping that while I ponder chipped lives – mine and others – I treat those around me with a gentleness that eases the pain of being chipped.  I hope I spread the thought that a repurposed life is a life of living, not just surviving, and a life filled with great hope…..a life of second chances to be lived differently than we had initially planned, but equally useful and beautiful….if we are willing to be repurposed.

 

 

 

“[When it comes to God]
We can’t run out of second chances…
only time.”

Robin Jones Gunn

 

 

Small Town Holidays

Waiting for the Parade.  Avenue of flags

Today we celebrated the Labor Day holiday in a small town about 24 miles away. It was a pretty typical small town celebration in our area.

There were plenty of food booths; with many of them being fund raisers for various church groups, Kiwanis groups, and The Lion’s Club. Local restaurants shifted their base of operation to the park in the center of town for the day to be where the action was. I really wanted to get a bag of kettle corn (which is delicious!) but the line was so incredibly long that you could have probably grown some popcorn by the time you would get to buy some.

Another section of the park plays host to local vendors who are selling everything from Tupperware to crafts made from repurposed items to booths selling spices and home-baked goods.

Off to the side is the children’s section……lots of carnival games (think the fish pond) and the ever popular inflatable things they can jump around in.

Most small town celebrations in our area include a parade. This one was no exception. The color guard started it out with veterans from the local legion group leading the way. In small towns around here everyone stands, hats off and pays their respects to these veterans and the flag.

The vets are followed by the parade marshal who seems to always be the oldest living person in the town. Sometimes they are long time business people who have just retired but old seems to be the main criteria. As I do not live in a town and have not yet reached that age I think that I will never be a parade marshal, which is okay because it would be kind of awkward with everyone looking at you. A person would have to practice the parade wave…..elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist type of wave……stressful.

A big part of our small town parades involve firetrucks, ambulances and the EMTs and firemen and their families tossing candy at any small child along the route. Once in awhile they take pity on those of us who come without children and we get tossed a tootsie roll. Life is good!

Also featured are various businesses and lots of farm tractors of all ages, makes and sizes.

 

Always a crowd pleaser at the parades are the shriners. Sometimes we get to see motorcycles and sometimes it is the go carts/dune buggy things. My husband thought it looked like a lot of fun! I laughed when I overheard one parade watcher ponder on how many tires they must go through in a parade season.

One of my favorite entries in these parades has to be the bands. This time there was the elementary band and high school band of the local school system. They also had a business that featured a percussion type of band on a trailer. Their instruments consisted of wooden bar stools and trash cans.

After the parade we ventured over to the high school where they were hosting a car/truck show. Every year they seem to get more entries. It is kind of fun to wander through the rows of gleaming cars that are shiny enough to use as a mirror. It is also a journey through memory lane as a lot of those “classic” cars were cars that kids in my day routinely drove to high school. I am never sure if that make me a classic?   Or just old?? I think I prefer classic.

A bonus to the day is running into people you have not seen in a long time. It is a great time to catch up on what they are doing and what is going on in their families. This might be one of the biggest draws to this type of holiday celebration in a small town…….relationships. Sometimes these are people you only see a couple of times a year; but you just pick up the friendship like you had just seen them the day before.

I have a feeling that my husband and I will always be small town type of people. The place where a holiday consists of flags flying in the breeze, firetrucks parading through the street with sirens blaring and candy being tossed to the delight of children (and some of the older crowd who will remain nameless….). The place where a friend of a friend becomes your friend just because you know the same people and share in the same small town experience.

The nice part about living in a small town
is that when you don’t know what you’re doing,
someone else does
.
Immanuel Kant quotes