More Than Fishing

IMG_3977 Fishing the Little Rock

Little Rock River

The weather was really nice a couple days ago so my husband and I decided we should try fishing on our bit of the river that night.  There is a sandbar that is a great place to sit and fish…..or contemplate life.

To get to the sandbar; we had to slither our way down the bank through head high weeds, saplings, and fallen tree branches. It was kind of a trick getting down there while holding a fishing pole, bucket (to sit on), and having my camera slung around my shoulders.

We did make it, and it was great once we were down there. It was quiet, except for the birds singing, a beaver crawling around behind a tree on the opposite bank and the sound of water rippling over rocks….a perfect evening to sit with a line in the water.

IMG_3972 Beaver Hideout

We were kind of worried that we would get eaten alive by mosquitoes, so we each took our choice of spray. I whipped up an essential oils spray that I wanted to try. I will share the recipe because I really like it and it worked for me.

Spray
10 drops Geranium EO
15 drops Lavender EO
5 drops Patchouli EO
10 drops Lemongrass EO
10 drops Citronella EO
2 oz. Witch Hazel
2 oz. water
Put Witch Hazel in 4 ounce spray bottle
Add EO’s (Essential Oils)
Add water 

I found it worked wonderfully for me. I have yet to convince my husband it would work so he continues to use his chemical-laden spray. Someday I will convince him!

Anyway…..back to fishing…….

IMG_3974 My Zebco 33

We stayed out there for a couple hours. I regret to report that all I caught was a corn stalk, two sticks and a bush on the bank. I am so glad I don’t have to survive off my catch!  My husband did have a few nibbles but nothing that really grabbed the bait and latched on.

I have a feeling it might be due to the really low water levels in the river. The water is so shallow you could see to the bottom most places. We were hoping that would enable us to see the fish swimming along….no go on that one.

I did find some pretty weeds flowers along the bank. They were such a beautiful shade of purple that I could not resist taking a picture of them. I must admit, I find it hard not to take pictures of most flowers.

IMG_3975 Pretty

I have no idea what kind of plant that is but the blooms were really delicate and so pretty.

There is something so peaceful about sitting by the river’s edge. It might be the way the wind blows through the tree tops and sets the leaves to rustling. It might be the birds twittering in the trees and settling in for the night. Maybe it is the fact you can watch a young beaver swim silently along the bank, leaving a wake in the water behind him. It might be the sound of the water rippling over the rocks and sparkling in the last of the evening light.

I do know that it is a great place to be. It is a great place to reflect and slow down the pace of life. As we came up the bank and out of the trees we were greeted with a beautiful sunset. It was the most perfect way to cap off the day.

IMG_3979 End of Day

This weekend may you find a place, hidden away from the world, that you can stop, reflect and slow down just a bit and feel the blessing.

“Many men go fishing all their lives
without knowing 
it’s not the fish they are after.”
Henry David Thoreau

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Celebrations and Community

IMG_3928 Golden Anniversary Cake

Last week was a week that was extremely busy with a variety of things to do. My husband and I walked beans, I washed a lot (did I say a lot?) of old pop bottles, we brewed a batch of homemade root beer and I had to make 7 sheet cakes for an anniversary.

The sheet cakes take time and by the end of the day I am tired…but they are kind of fun to make.  There is a lot of satisfaction in seeing them all lined up when they have been baked, frosted and decorated.

These cakes were for a couple in our church who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. They had decided to celebrate by serving cake to the congregation after the morning service. The last couple years, people in our church are starting to do more of this rather than the traditional open house.

I think it is a really neat idea when someone decides to celebrate their major life events by sharing that special time with the church community. In our area that always includes food of some type. I am not sure if it is a Dutch heritage type of thing or just something we do in the Midwest.

Sharing with the church family creates such an atmosphere of community and fellowship. It is a blessing to watch people in our church basement, eating cake, drinking coffee and juice, and visiting together. The laughter and hugs of people reconnecting is something to see and even better to be a part of.

Watching Psalm 133:1 (How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!) play out before your eyes is truly a wondrous thing. People talking and children running around their parents and grandparents is a beautiful sight.

I think that often we don’t realize how much a smile or hug can impact someone else.  We don’t always see that there are lots of lonely people in the middle of a crowd. It is good to draw others in and encourage them…it is good to make sure everyone feels like they have a part to play in community. Relationships can be messy….but so rewarding.

I have a friend, Jackie, who once told us, “Be the pebble.” I would encourage you to all be the pebble. Toss yourself into the pond of someone’s life. Create some ripples in the lives of those around you. When you do…..watch for the blessing.

 

“I alone cannot change the world,
but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” 

― Mother Teresa

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” 
― Dorothy DayThe Long Loneliness:
The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reliving My Youth

IMG_3929 Root Beer Making Supplies.JPG

This past weekend my husband and I did something that brought back memories of my youth, and also memories of us being young parents with three little boys.  What we did was decide it was time to brew some homemade root beer!

A couple things combined to make us decide it was time to give it a try again. My son built us this awesome rack to hold our brewing bottles of pop. We also are helping host a baby celebration for the upcoming birth of our newest grandson. We decided it would be kind of fun to have homemade root beer as one of the beverages.

IMG_3942 New Pop Bottle Rack

 

Somehow during the years, since we last made root beer, we had managed to bury the bottles and equipment in a back corner of the garage. My husband dug out the crates and boxes of bottles from that back corner, and I spent an entire afternoon cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning those bottles. I was never so glad to own a bottle brush, as that afternoon!

The bottles, themselves, brought back lots of memories for me. As a kid, my Aunt Jean always brewed root beer. We begged and pleaded with my mom to give it a try also. My siblings and I spent countless hours going through ditches, looking for glass pop bottles. (This was in the days before the nickel deposit for bottles….and long before pop cans.)

Once we had amassed enough bottles, my dad purchased a bottle capper and we were set to go. That root beer was some of the best around on a hot summer day. When we were kids; pop was a luxury and our folks didn’t purchase pop very often, so we savored every sip we took. It always had a slightly yeasty taste but we thought it was wonderful.

When our sons were small we inherited the bottles and the capper. Through the years we also gathered more bottles to add to the collection. The bottles ranged from 7 ounce bottles to 32 ounce bottles. It is kind of fun to see where those bottles come from. Places like Fort Dodge, Ia, Spirit Lake, IA, Sioux Falls, SD, Mississippi, and who knows where! It is rather like a collage of old pop bottles.

IMG_3939 Bottle Hodgepodge.JPG

Our sons fondly remember drinking ice cold homemade root beer on steamy summer days. My husband and I remember, not quite as fondly, the sound of a bottle blowing up in the middle of the night during the brewing phase.

The sound of a bottle blowing is slightly like hearing a cannon go off. At that time we lived on a different acreage and had the bottles brewing on their sides, on the steps in the upstairs stairwell. It took a long time to get the sticky, sugary root beer scrubbed off those stairwell walls. I do remember it smelled wonderfully to root beer for a long time.

This time my husband and I decided we should fill bottles in the garage as we could hose off the floor if we spilled too much. It worked great and was kind of a fun thing to do again. We ended up with 70+ bottles of root beer.

The real test will be at the end of this week when we do the taste test on a bottle. Hopefully, it is as good as we remember!  I have a feeling this is an acquired taste as this root beer always tastes a little yeasty. I guess there is a great reason it tastes that way; as yeast is what is used to carbonate homemade root beer.

I am hoping that the first sip will bring back memories of years past. Memories of time spent drinking root beer with cousins, time spent making root beer with our sons and new memories to be made with family and friends.

When I was looking for quotes on homemade root beer (and not finding any!) I discovered that August 6, 2017 is National Root Beer Float Day in the United States!  How amazingly cool is it that? That is the day of our baby celebration complete with homemade root beer for root beer floats.

“Life has an odd way of making things work out in the end.”
Unknown

“…root beer floats are the stuff that toasts are made of.” 
― Sandra D. Bricker,
If the Shoe Fits

  I am editing this post to add the recipe I used.  I had a request to do that so here it is:

Homemade Root Beer
1- 2 ounce bottle Root Beer Extract (I used Schilling)
 5 gallons water
5 pounds white sugar
1 large teaspoon dry yeast
1 cup warm water
Put the yeast in the cup of warm water with 1 teaspoon of sugar
Mix the extract with the rest of the sugar
Pour the rest of the water into a large bucket (not metal)
Add the sugar/extract mixture
Add the yeast mixture
Stir well
Bottle in clean sterilized glass pop bottles.
Cap with bottle caps (can get these from bottling companies).
Put bottles on their side in a warm place for 2-4 days.
Move to a cool place to store.
Chill well before serving.

 

 

 

Drumstick

IMG_3909

Every so often you end up with a chicken who can be defined by the word ….. moxie.  I don’t typically name my girls but I may have to name this one. A couple weeks ago (the night of July 4th to be exact) this Rhode Island Red came close to being a late evening snack for a raccoon.

We had spent the day with family at Lake Okoboji and by the time we got home, after the fireworks display, the evening had cooled off nicely. We opened the windows to let some of the cool air in and headed for bed.

We woke, from a deep sleep, to the sound of a chicken squawking in terror. My husband grabbed a flashlight and saw the glowing eyes of a raccoon, who had decided our chicken was extremely edible. He (my husband….not the raccoon) grabbed the gun and headed outdoors.

It didn’t take long and I heard a lot more squawking. My husband came back in the house and told me that, that chicken was one lucky bird. He had found her and put her in the coop with the rest of the girls.  He also told me he wasn’t sure what shape she was in, as it was dark and he could see, by the flashlight, there were lots of feathers in the back yard.

When morning came and I went to let the girls out of their coop, I could see red feathers strewn across the yard. I reluctantly opened the door of the coop, dreading what I would see. I was sure I was going to find a dead or half-dead, bloody chicken.

When I did open the door, the flock of hens blew past me like nothing had happened during the night. I peered in the coop and the only girls still in it were the broody ones that will not leave the nesting boxes.

I started hunting my chicken down, as I was curious to see where all those feathers had actually come from.  I discovered that she had been plucked on her back and on one of her legs. Amazingly, there wasn’t any broken skin!

IMG_3913

My husband has actually started calling this girl, “Drumstick” and I have to agree she kind of looks like a walking drumstick!

I cannot believe she escaped from a raccoon with only losing feathers! I also cannot believe that it has not seemed to slow her down at all. She doesn’t seem in the least traumatized by the whole event. She is living life, like any normal chicken and has her feathers have even started growing back in.

The only difference in her behavior is that she no longer hides outside at night anymore. She now makes it a point to be one of the first girls in the coop when evening comes. Somewhere in her little brain she has figured out that following the rules equals safety.

I have a feeling that we, as people, are often like Drumstick.  We like to live on the edge….go where it isn’t safe….and hope for the best. We tend to think that bad stuff will only happen to someone else and we will be okay.  Every so often, that bubble is shattered and if we are fortunate, we will make it safely back in the coop.

I am thinking Drumstick, might end up being an awesome object lesson for my grandkids (and for me!). A lesson that there are rules for a reason. A lesson that when bad things happen to you….don’t let it take over your life. Drumstick is a good reminder that one should live, really live, as long as you are alive.

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
– Henry Ellis

 

 

Not So Lazy Days of Summer

IMG_3921 Soybeans and Fireflies

I am quickly discovering that summer is a hard time to keep current with a blog. For some reason the days are spent outdoors trying to maintain the lawn, garden, soybean fields and a bunch of other important things.  So I will apologize, up front, for not keeping up with your blogs!

It makes me wonder about that saying….the lazy days of summer.  I keep waiting for those to show up. I have discovered things during these not so lazy days. I discovered it is really hard to try photograph lightening bugs over the bean field….so all you really are getting with this post’s photo is soybeans!  Those little flying lights are there…you just can’t see them! Though I do think all those little white dots are actually the bugs…..

I am also discovering that heat and humidity will sap any creative writing thoughts that one might have. (I would hate to admit it might be age and just being really tired at the end of the day!) I headed over to the daily prompt site for some words that might generate an idea for a riveting post……(I am still wondering and searching for a marvelous idea.)

My husband and I were sitting in the house after another morning spent walking the beans. (See prior post for what that is …. in case you are wondering.) He made the comment that it is “hotter than a banshee outside”.

Once he made that comment, we both wondered what that really meant! How hot is a banshee? And what is a banshee? Perhaps my friends from over the pond have that answer?

It also caused me to wonder about other “hotter than” statements……”hotter than Dutch love.” (Hmmmm, I am mainly dutch ancestry and think I will just let that one totally alone!)  “hotter than a pistol” (?????)…….. “hotter than a cat on a hot tin roof”(why is that cat on a tin roof anyway?) ……”hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk” (pretty sure I will stick to using my fry pan.)…..  Any other “hotter than” comments out there?

It is one of those “hotter than” days where there will be no scampering about.  It would get entirely too hot and sweaty. It is hard enough to kind of slog through a day like this; without trying to look perky and alert! One weatherman said it exactly right…..”the next few days will have air you can wear.”

The only thing that seems to be full of life is the bugs.  The monarchs float effortlessly on the breeze. I always wonder if they are drawn by the delightful scent the milkweed blooms send out. Bumble bees and honey bees are busy gathering pollen from my flowers and typically leave us alone….as long as we leave them alone. The fireflies are like twinkling little stars stretched out over the bean field at night.

It is good to see that this type of weather is at least good for all of them. It has been so droughty here that we don’t seem to have nearly the mosquito population that we usually do….that is one upside to our lack or rain.

Maybe this weather is really given to us so that we can truly appreciate when a cool front comes through? Maybe it teaches us perseverance? Maybe, just maybe, we can be grateful it is this humid in our area. If it wasn’t so muggy, our corn fields would begin to shrivel and burn up, rather than flourish as well as they do, even without rainfall.

I guess this is when I must learn to be “content in all things” (Philippians 4:12-13)  and not just when life is exactly as I would like it to be. Maybe it is time to be happy to just enjoy the butterflies and lightening bugs.

It is good to acknowledge that God is God and I am not. He knows what I need, when I need it. His timing for my life and for the world I live in; is perfect. And for that…..I am indeed grateful!

I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times,
what is still to come.
I say,
‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’
Isaiah 46:10
New International Version

 

Surviving the Heat and Humidity

IMG_3907 One of My Favorite Corners.JPG

My Favorite Corner

We are now officially in the weather pattern in Iowa that has two temperature settings…..hot and muggy or hotter and muggier. When we walked out our door this morning it didn’t feel too bad as it had cooled off slightly during the night.

We decided we had better walk some beans (also known as swinging a hoe in the soybean field and whacking weeds) before it became too hot and unbearable. We were fortunate in the fact that until 10:30 it was overcast and we had a breeze. You learn very quickly to ignore the heat, humidity and grit that sifts into your shoes.

By afternoon, that overcast sky had left and the sun beamed bright and hot in it’s place. I found this out when I ventured out again to weed in the vegetable garden. This has been a prolific season for weeds around here! As I was plucking out weeds and finding the carrots back; it quickly felt like I was cooking in the sun.

By evening, my husband even had to admit that it was indeed humid. He usually seems to be immune to the mugginess. When he mentioned how bad it was…..I knew it was indeed like swimming through the air when we walked outside.

I will have to admit that this weather is excellent for growing things.  The melons in the garden are vining out and I noticed some of the watermelons had marble sized melons on them. I have lettuce, that for some reason, seems to want to hang out in the carrots….and I am good with that as long as they all keep growing and get along!

My peas are spotty, but the ones that are there, are blooming. They had to be planted twice due to rabbits eating them the first time. I think they munched them to the ground as fast as they came up.

I have a feeling that is why the second group I planted came up pretty thin also. I did have one plant with a few pods on it and those pods were an excellent snack while working in the garden.

Once I had done enough weeding, I wandered around to see how the flowers were faring in this heat. It turns out they are doing wonderfully!

The elecampane is hugely tall and I think I will have to move it this fall as it is really too large for the space where it is now growing. I was given the seeds from my friend Sara; and had no idea what this plant would look like….now I know and it needs a little more room than I have given it.

IMG_3887 Elecampane

Elecampane

I had to stand on our porch to get a picture of the flower of the elecampane…..it was that tall!  If I remember right Sara told me they are of some medicinal value but, for the life of me I cannot remember for what….I may have to turn to my other buddy – Google.

My lilies are also doing wonderfully this year and have lots of buds, promising lots of blooms.

IMG_3886 Lilies

Lilies

The phlox are also in full bloom at this time. Every time I see those beautiful blooms I think of my friend, Darlene, who sent them along with my daughter-in-law (her daughter) for me to add to my shady area. It just makes me smile.

IMG_3903 Phlox

Phlox

The flowers and growing vegetables make all the heat and humidity worthwhile. I know they would not flourish like they do without the sticky weather. It is kind of a trade off but a lot of things in life are like that……two sides of the same coin.

It is good to remind myself that, if not for the sticky weather, our crops wouldn’t grow like they do…….nor would my flowers be as beautiful and scent the air with that wonderful sweetness that I get to enjoy.

It makes the heat of the day more bearable when there is beauty to be found. It helps through the uncomfortable seasons when you get to enjoy something as simple as flowers in bloom.

We all have obstacles.
The feeling of satisfaction comes by overcoming something.
Marta

Pictures of the Day

Old Glory

I had planned to get a post out much sooner that this! Sometimes, life just gets really busy….in a very good way. Family and special days like the 4th of July come along and blogging gets put on the back burner. Throw a wedding in the mix and the weekend gets very busy!

I thought I would share some of the photos that make up our annual 4th of July celebration. I come from a family that is very solid in their American values….God, Family and Country. Freedom is a concept that is firmly embraced and celebrated with everything from bubbles to fireworks.

Time to Blow a Few Bubbles for the Dog to Chase

My granddaughter found a great way to pass the time while the adults visited and caught up with each others’ lives. There is always lots of laughter, good-natured teasing and hugs when this bunch of people get together. This is a holiday that is a bridge that draws our groups of family and friends together….it is a meeting place that we can count on at least once a year.

Building Sand Castles on the Beach

We also found that spending time on the small beach was so much fun. The water was so cold, the day was hot; so it was a great mix.  Whenever you mingle sand, sunny days, water and kids you have a sure winner for a great morning.

Walking Past Arnold’s Park With Grandpa

Time To Imitate The Statues

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day is filled with eating, boat rides, swimming, eating some more, sharing recipes, laughing, eating again, walking to the Emporium for snacks, and of course the fireworks display at the end of the day. They have one of the best firework shows in our area and it has become a family ritual.

My grandkids thought the bottom photo looked like a firework rainbow. They were in awe of the loud booms that sounded like cannons echoing across the lake. The shore line was alive with people sending up bottle rockets and patriotic music was piped through local radio stations. The songs were synchronized with the fireworks.

We did have to sit through a drizzle type rain but it was well worth it and most people stayed for the entire show. I think it was because we knew when the Grand Finale was over…..so was our holiday with family and friends.

Arnold’s Park at Night

The day ended as it had begun…..hugs, smiles, and seeing our flag waving  in the breeze. It was an amazing day (as always) and was even better because of who we spent it with. I hope you enjoyed a day that was fulfilling and fun all rolled into one!

 

 

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle,
but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees,
the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.
You may think you have overeaten,
but it is patriotism.
~Erma Bombeck