Bucket List

 

Well Lived Bucket.JPG

I was reading a post by kindergarten knowledge the other day titled “Listen….Young Me….Listen!!”  In this post she writes about what she would tell the younger version of who she is today.

I started thinking about that and that led to thinking about how I will never be younger than I am today. Which, in turn, led me to thinking about things I would still love to do before I leave this world……it also led me to think about things I have zero desire to do before I leave this world. And it detoured past things my kids do while they are in this world.

Things I would like to do. Travel, travel again and then pack up and travel some more.  I would like to see so many places that I have never seen or only seen briefly.  The Grand Canyon is one of these places that are at the top of my list. Many years ago, as youth leaders at our church, my husband and I took a group of high school kids to a youth convention in Flagstaff, AZ. On the way home we were allotted one hour to see the Grand Canyon. That was rather like being shown an ice cream cone; but only getting to hold it and not eat it. So the Grand Canyon remains at the top of the list.

I would like to go on a cruise.  This one may not ever happen as it is not a desire my husband has. I have a thing for boats and water and he has a thing for mountains and uninhabited places. So we compromise and I go along to the mountains, which are beautiful, and if there is a lake I get to be by the water. I will just continue to dream about a cruise, warm sandy beaches, ocean waves and seashells. I must confess I do love the sights, sounds and smells of the mountains. I love the craggy peaks, rushing water, and pine trees. A trip to the mountains is also a lot cheaper than a cruise and we can camp….that does make it a win.

I would love to go on a vacation to any location and take our kids and grandkids. A camping trip would be good, a few days in the Black Hills would be awesome or even having them all stay here at the same time would be a great Staycation. To me that would be the best vacation ever…..even if the grand kids get tired and crabby……or even if the grandparents get tired and crabby…..someone will send the tired and crabby ones to bed…….

There are also some things I have absolutely no desire to do.  Never ever, in a million years will I be bungee jumping. This would rank right up there with parachuting out of a perfectly good airplane.(My nephew in the 82nd Airborne might not understand me on this one). I would have to be unconscious to do either of these things…..and then, if I can’t remember it, what would be the point? These activities also carry the great risk of heart failure, wetting my pants, throwing up or all three at the same time; so I am definitely passing on putting these two items on my bucket list.

Another thing I will also not personally be doing is mountain climbing. My husband and I have 3 sons who do this for “fun”! Mt. Elbert was one of the first ones they climbed.

Mr. Elbert Colorado

They make an annual trek to the state of Colorado to make their way up some 14,000 footers. I am not totally sure how many they have conquered so far but I do know they have done some that I cannot even watch the go-pro video they took. I pray a lot when they head for Colorado.Mountain Climbing Greys Torreys via Kelso Ridge

 

Maybe bungee jumping or parachuting would be safer????? I really think they should maybe take up some safe hobbies like basket weaving? wine making? soap making? Oh wait…..those are things on my list!

I guess when it really comes down to it, what I really want out of life is for my family to get along, my kids to be the best of friends and always have each others’ backs, that someday I will see my family all in heaven and that when I am gone I will be remembered as that slightly crazy Chicken Grandma. And hopefully when they remember me they will all get a huge smile on their faces.

I am pretty sure everyone has some thing they secretly long to do…..some place you want to visit…..or a new thing you want to try.

“God gave us the gift of life;
it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

Voltaire

 

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Home….A Sense of Place

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Years ago when my boys were in high school they had an English teacher who made the class write poetry on the topic  “Sense of Place”.  He wanted to know what spoke home to them.

They sat there stumped for awhile and I told them to just think about what they heard from their bedroom window, what they saw from that window, what it smelled like when they took a deep breath. (And yes some days it did not smell as fresh as others due to a wind coming from the direction of the huge dairy across the section.)  In other words, I told them to use all their senses and write what made home familiar to them.

As I sat on the porch this morning I started thinking about that poem they had to write and started trying out my own advice about what spoke home to me.

I thought back to an hour earlier when I had been picking the tomatoes in the cool of the morning. It was very quiet and a slightly foggy morning at our place. The kind of weather that wraps itself around you with all the everyday noises muted by the blanket of heavy air. It narrowed the world/home down to just me and my garden.

The fact that I got to  wander past purple coneflowers and black-eyed susans on my way to the vegetable garden was a bonus for the morning. They even looked pretty surrounded by the weeds and volunteer flowers that decided to grow on their own this past summer.

The birds seemed quieter with their morning songs today.  I am not sure if they had not gotten fully awake due to the hazy morning or if they were just easing me gently into the day.

Once I got my batch of pizza sauce started on the stove I could take the time to have my morning cup of tea out on the porch. I started looking around at my view from the front of the house and I came to realize I must be attracted to the shadowed, green, cool areas as my eyes always seem to wander to those places in my yard.

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I thought I should use all my senses so I took a whiff and noted that there is starting to be a slight smell of decaying leaves and plants that heralds the arrival of fall. The leaves of the locust trees out front are starting to rain down little yellow leaves whenever the breeze blows through the branches.

In the distance I could hear the neighbor chopping in the field across the river but I was distracted from listening to that as I realized I was having a visit from our Geranium eating squirrel.

The Geranium Eater.JPG

My girls were contentedly digging around in the hostas, rhubarb, and along buildings in their unending quest for bugs. The bugs are getting less and less as the days go by; and they are having to work a lot harder to get their fill of them.

One of The Girls

I came to the conclusion that home for me is anywhere my husband is. My sense of the place that is my home is made up of everything from chickens to tomatoes to squirrels to the weeds that persist in coming back to torment me every year. It is in the smell from the fields and the flowers. It is in the sounds of birds and equipment and frogs singing at dusk. It is the place where I am free to ramble on and it is okay.

There is a contentment to be found in having a sense of place, in knowing what makes home; home. The contentment that no matter what happens in the world this is still the safe place to come, sit on the porch, sip my tea, and watch what is happening in the cool shady places.

What speaks home to you? What smell, touch, sight or sound brings back that comfort of home?

The ache for home lives in all of us,
the safe place where we can go as we are
and not be questioned.
Maya Angelou

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Life is Hard…Share Hope

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There are some days when life seems like it is just running along smoothly, the sky shines brighter, the air smells sweeter and the day just seems to shine like gold. And then there are days that are not any of those things.

Those are the days that seem to stretch into eternity. The days that you know have changed life forever and you know that you will have to find an entirely new “normal”.

In the last two days there are people I know and love who are having to deal with things in life that really make you wonder what kind of plan God actually has. These are people who are having to put aside all the hopes and dreams that life seemed to promise. Their stories are not mine to tell so I will leave it at that.

The flip side of this story is mine, yours, and anyone else who knows of someone who needs to know that God is still faithful, that He still loves and that God knows the road they are traveling. He knows the end to this new beginning.

I think in times of hardship, death, loss, we have been put in place by God to be there for others.  Not to just offer words that don’t penetrate the fog of loss, but to offer us.  To offer our love, our caring, our tears, our hugs……US.

In the offering of us…..we offer hope……hope that life will not stay this hard. Hope that God has not forgotten. Hope that family, friends, acquaintances share in the struggle. Hope that “Joy does come in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b).

I probably write this to ease all the feelings I have swirling inside me just thinking of the two phone calls I received this week. The feelings of inadequacy in not knowing what to do or say in situations where there really are no words. Trying to make sense of the tears that threaten to fall and run down my face. I know that if I feel this way; how much harder it must be for those walking that dark road now and dealing with that loss in the years ahead.

A year or so ago the Pizza Ranch put out a CD titled “Living Hope”  It is a variety of artist singing songs that speak hope to a hurting world.  One of my favorites is called “Hold On To Hope” by Ellie Holcomb. It is a song that comes to mind for the dark days and long roads. It makes me want to be there for those walking that road.

I want to be a hope giver, I want to let people know they are not alone, I want to breathe life and hope into darkness, I want to be Jesus with skin on. I want them to see the love of God reflected from me. I think that is what I am called to be. I think that is what we are all called to be. I know I can’t do that job perfectly and I usually fall far short…..but I do know that God can take what I have and use it for His good.

Let us be hope to someone, somewhere today.

 

  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

 

Canning Pizza Sauce

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The tomatoes are finally ripening in enough quantity that I can start canning them and turning them into sauces, soups, salsa, and juice. For the last little while I was only getting enough to just eat fresh.

Yesterday I spent the day turning my bucket of tomatoes into Pizza Sauce. I usually can enough of this stuff to last my husband and me through the entire year. I also can enough to last my kids through the entire year. It has long been a tradition at our house to have homemade pizza on Saturday night….so that means plenty of sauce needs to be canned.

I first had to dig out my canning paraphernalia…..the jars, the rings, lids, colander, canner etc……all those things that have been tucked away and just waiting for this season.

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Most of these items have been accumulated over the years of my married life. I started out with a different colander as a new bride but soon discovered it did not work like my mom’s did and I really intensely disliked it. When a neighbor had a household auction I was thrilled to find one exactly like mom’s.

Through the years I have gone from pints to quarts (once children started arriving) and now back to pints (now that we are down to two again). My husband comments that I seem to be canning more produce now than I did when our boys were all living at home. I have a feeling he realizes that jars kind of disappear from the pantry when the kids come home to visit.

The Pizza Sauce recipe I always use came from my friend Betty, many, many years ago. It has become a family favorite and we are all very sad if it runs out during the year and we have to use store bought sauce.

Pizza Sauce
Fill: 10 qt. kettle 3/4 full of peeled, cut tomatoes (I do not peel mine)
Add:
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup chopped onion
Simmer for approximately 2 hours until mushy.
Let stand for a time and skim off as much water as possible.
(At this point I run the above mixture through a blender and then a colander.
this is why I do not peel my tomatoes)
Add:
1/8 cup salt
1/8 cup parsley flakes
1 rounded tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon allspice
4 – 12 ounce cans tomato paste
Cook 2 – 3 hours, stirring often as it burns easily.
Put in jars and process.
Process 25 minutes (for pints) in a boiling water bath
NOTE:  This can also be frozen.

The pizza crust recipe I use is out of my old Betty Crocker cookbook…..the one that the back fell off of years ago.

Pizza Crust
1 cup hot water
Add:
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
let set till foamy looking
Add:
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Knead till blended and roll out on cookie sheet or baking stone.
Cover with sauce, cheese and toppings of your choice.

I now have my first batch of pizza sauce this season done and ready to go on the pantry shelves. I love being able to just go to my pantry for sauce when it is time to make the Saturday night pizza.

The smell of onions has left the kitchen, much to my husband’s relief. One last helpful hint:  If your family does not like the smell of certain foods such as onions or fish etc. while they are being prepared, I find using my diffuser with the essential oil blend Purification really helps for the smell.

Now that I have shared one of my families favorites I am wondering what are some of your families go to foods? And is there a dish that your family just figures you will make on a certain day? I am always on the look out  for new things to try. (I have to admit my meat and potatoes husband does find this scary.)

God gives all birds their food
but does not drop it into their nests.
Danish Proverb

 

Chicken Bocce Ball?

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Some of my kids were home this past weekend.  It was a great weekend for them to be here. The weather was perfect…..in the 70’s for temperatures and hardly any humidity.

We decided, after Sunday dinner, that we should haul out the Bocce ball set and play a game.  I use the term “play a game” rather loosely as I am not totally sure what scoring is needed to make it an official game of Bocce ball. I was just thrilled to finally use the Bocce ball set that I had purchased at the Goodwill Store for ten bucks!

After playing a couple rounds; my middle son tactfully suggested that perhaps we should have mowed the lawn. We assured him that this just made for a higher level of skill in the game. We also did find out that our lawn is not smooth. (This was really no surprise.)

It took a lot of skill to get the balls anywhere near the little white ball that was our target. About the time we thought we were close we would discover we had been aiming for a blooming white clover. And when we could actually see the little white ball it was on a mound and whenever you got near to it; your ball would just roll on by and pick up speed as it hit the back side of the mound.

My husband did the honors of flinging the little white ball. (He may or may not have a sadistic streak as he usually tried to get it perched on a mound or some other difficult location.) I have since googled Bocce Ball and discovered the little white ball does have an official name — pallino.  I have a feeling we will just continue calling it the “little white ball”.

We also discovered that when you toss that white ball, most of the chickens that roam around here took off after it like it was the last thing they would get to eat in their lifetime.  This made it pretty difficult to throw our colored balls toward the white one.

The kids were worried about hitting one of the girls. My husband cavalierly assured them if they did we would have soup. (I do think he likes the girls more than he lets on!)  I assured the kids that if they rolled the ball instead of throwing it; the chickens would jump out of the way…..which they did….with a lot of wing-flapping and squawking.

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I have no idea what the girls were thinking when they chased down those balls.  Were they thinking it was food rolling by?  Were they wondering if one of them had been an over achiever in the egg laying department? It does make me curious what goes on in that walnut sized brain of theirs.

Eventually they (the chickens) tired of chasing the balls all over the yard and went back to chasing bugs.  This made it a lot easier for us to finish the game. We only played till someone made it to 10….I have since discovered that 16 is the official number that means you have won the game.

It was a great way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon with the family. There was lots of laughter, good-natured ribbing, plenty of sarcasm and plain good fun. Sometimes it is the simple things in life that really are the best…..a good Sunday dinner, good conversation, and a rousing game of Bocce Ball complete with chickens.

I am happy to report that no chickens were harmed during the playing of that Bocce ball game. I cannot vouch for their mental state after that game but physically they are fine and today they seem to have forgotten all about the episode.

Play Bocce Ball
whenever you can.
It’s cheaper than meds!
Unknown

 

 

A Beautiful Day & Changing Seasons

Barn Swallows with Verse

Yesterday afternoon my in-laws stopped in to visit. As we sat on the porch sipping our iced tea on a hot muggy day we noticed there were flocks and flocks of swallows swooping and soaring over the yard. The sky was full of them……everywhere.

Every fall, like clockwork,  we have cliff swallows migrate through as the weather starts to change. Living by a small river we get to see a lot of different birds on their migration paths in the spring and in the fall. It is one of the most rewarding things about living where we do.

I went out this afternoon hoping to snap a picture of a line full of swallows. They were nowhere to be seen. All that was left sitting on those lines were four of our resident barn swallows. I was grateful they were at least still there, ready to be photographed. I do think I should have taken the camera out yesterday.

I mentioned to my husband that it seemed some of our other summer birds were starting to disappear. I was not even sure when I had last seen a robin. I am guessing a few might show up again this fall but for now they seem to be pretty scarce around here.

It does not seem that long ago that those first swallows and robins showed up to signal the start to summer. I never used to believe my grandparents and later my parents; when they would tell me that the older you get the faster time seems to go. I used to laugh and suggest that maybe the older they got, the slower they moved, so time seemed to go faster. I am going to have to remember to NOT mention the swifter passing of time to my kids. I have no need of being reminded that I am getting older.

There is a comfort in the constancy of the changing seasons. The birds show up in the spring, nest, raise families and then leave in the fall. They don’t worry about what is happening in this world. They just do what birds do. And they seem to do that with great joy.

Perhaps there is a lesson in that constancy for us.( I know there is something I can learn from it.)  Perhaps we are not to worry about what the weather will do. Perhaps we are not to worry about who the next president will be. Perhaps we are not to worry about what direction our job is taking. Maybe we are not called to worry if our kids are making good choices.  And the list goes on you fill in the blank with your favorite worry.

Maybe, instead, we are supposed to tend our fields and let God take care of the weather, Maybe we are supposed to get out and vote and let God take care of the character of the next president and the decisions they will be called to make. Maybe we are to do the best we can at our job and let God handle how the boss or our co- workers react. Maybe we are called to be the best parents we can be, raise our kids and pray for them and let God take care of the rest as those kids make their life choices. Maybe, just maybe, we are supposed to let God be God.

There is a comfort in that. The comfort of not always having to have it all under control. That can be exhausting. Maybe that is why the birds can sing so joyously in the morning…..they are not burdened with trying to be something they are not, or trying to control something that is not theirs to control.

There is a comfort in knowing that life is like the seasons. The season might change from spring to summer to fall to winter …. but spring will come again and those summer birds will arrive on time.

For some reason this post did not take the path I thought it would when I started it. I have that more often when blogging. Sometimes thoughts I didn’t even know I had  seem to come out of my fingertips and end up as the words of my posts.(My husband is always a great help with prying those thoughts loose.)

I am learning to go with the thoughts and just type the words that are swirling in my head…..maybe I am learning to have some bird-like qualities!

Faith is the bird
that feels the light
when the dawn is still dark.
Rabindranath Tagore

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Lunch Pail Memories

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Everywhere you look you see the signs and evidence that school is either started or about to start. From college down to the elementary levels parents and kids are gearing up for another year.

My husband always comments, “Those poor children…..”. I have a feeling that his comment stems from the fact that he never really cared for school.  For him it was the end of summer freedom and time to be; as he thinks “incarcerated” back in a school building. He has always been an outdoor kind of guy which may be one of the main reasons he is a farmer!

My husband grew up as a farm kid and one of his main memories of school involves his lunch pail. He could never understand why he could not have warm hot dogs in his thermos instead of either jelly or dried beef sandwiches. I laughed when he told me this and that summer when I brought him a lunch pail out to the field I included hot dogs in his old school thermos.

I grew up in the small town where our school was located. Our elementary school did not have a hot lunch program back then so my siblings and I would walk the four blocks back home for dinner. (For us it was dinner at noon as we were a rural community and supper at night.) My mom did, however, purchase us a lunch pail. I am not totally sure why. Maybe we begged enough for them and she gave in? The beautiful red plaid one in the photo was my lunch box……though I did covet my cousin’s which looked like a school bus.

I clearly remember the day my brother did not show up at noon to walk home with me.  When I got home my mom asked where he was. I had no idea. She called school and found out that he had taken his lunch pail with his candy bar (which was a snack for recess) and stayed at school to eat his candy bar for dinner.

Once a month, at our elementary school the moms would come in and serve a hot lunch. This was always a great treat for us town kids as we did not have to walk home at noon. We really appreciated this in the winter when it was snowy and cold. The country kids also appreciated it because it meant a hot meal for them after weeks of jelly or peanut butter sandwiches and fruit.

The menu was always the same– one tavern bun (I think this might be a regional name for sloppy joe) or two buns. One would cost us .25¢ or two for .35¢. You also got some chips and either a chocolate or white milk.  The milk was amazing. My husband and I both always chose chocolate as that was a huge treat.  Back then school milk was in small glass bottles and you had to peel off a cardboard lid thing to open it. (yes, this does really tell my age!).  To top it off we always had a choice of a fudge bar or ice cream bar. It did not get much better than that!

When our sons entered this same school years later they were fortunate as the school had a hot lunch program by that time. I also considered myself fortunate as I did not have to pack those lunch pails and try get creative with something nutritious they would eat.

It’s nice to just be a kid and hang out with your friends at lunch.
Karlie Kloss

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