Days That Are Keepers

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Some days just start out good and just keep rolling along that way. The weather today is beautiful….sunny, dry and the tinge of fall in the air.

It is really a perfect day to turn 62. Yep…I just told you my age because I really don’t care!  I know they say a lady never tells her age, but this lady does, because to me…it is just a number.

On my way to town this morning the sky was so pretty. The clouds against the blue of the sky and the sun shining through. The sight of it made me  a bit late for meeting one of my sisters. I just had to stop and take a picture because beauty like that does not last all day.screenshot_2019-09-27-13-42-391442967960.png

My sister took me to Le Meilleur this morning for the most amazing pastry. It was a cinnamon roll made from a croissant. Our tea was the perfect beverage to go with it.

Le Meilleur is a small bakery in our small town. Unfortunately it is moving to the south of us; to the town where my sister lives.

I am glad it is not going far as I would miss this fun meeting place! The fact they have delicious pastries is a huge bonus as well.

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The day just kept getting better. Once I returned home a package arrived in the mail for me.

I had totally forgotten that I had put my name in a drawing at the Veteran’s Booth at the Clay County Fair a few weeks ago.

Today, I found they had drawn my name and I had won a beautiful stitched American flag!  I was thrilled and it was even better that it arrived on my birthday.  I have not yet mentioned to my husband that I just may need a flagpole to fly this flag.

I did have to take some ribbing from my husband this morning. I showed him a birthday wish a friend had sent on Facebook. The post included fireworks. My husband commented that of course there were fireworks. With that many candles any cake would blow up!

He also reminded me I am now eligible for Social Security.  I reminded him that I had finally caught up with his age! (I am also kind of hoping I am like a fine wine and just getting better with age.)  That may or may not be true, but I kind of like the logic.

One thing I have learned in my 62 years is to make sure to live while you are alive. Maybe I have learned more than one thing….I also know that it is good to find joy in a  sky filled with beautiful clouds and streaming sunlight.

I know that each day is a gift because I am not assured of the next. I have learned that life is good…if you let it be…attitude counts for a lot and there are good people everywhere.

I pray that when I am all done with my birthdays and have reached the end of my days…that I am greeted with the phrase, “well done…good and faithful servant.” And I pray that when my friends and family think of me….it brings a huge grin to their face and maybe leaves them wondering….just a bit.

 

And in the end,
it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years.

-Abraham Lincoln

 

Porch Conversations

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It has been a bit since I posted. For some reason life just got in the way of writing anything. Somewhere between gardening, canning, sitting with a family member in the hospital, birthday parties, baking cakes for birthday parties, family reunions, picking beans, canning again, splitting wood and pressing apples for cider…..a post just never got written.

The other morning my husband and I had a chance to sit a bit and reflect on the busyness of the past weeks. We were starting our day, sitting on the porch, having our first of the morning cups of coffee and tea.

It was beautiful…a bit chilly for this time of year. It was quiet with only the migrating blackbirds to disturb the peace. It was the kind of morning where porch conversations take place….those conversations where everything gets discussed.

The past weeks were rehashed and relived. Some we laughed about and thought we should do again. Some we decided we really didn’t want to repeat. Porch conversation meander (at least ours seem to). They seem to take their sweet time and sometimes end up in places you had no idea they would go.

We pondered on contentment. We wondered why it seems some people never are content; and how those people always seem to want more. For the life of us, we cannot understand that thought.  I am kind of grateful we don’t understand that concept.

It was decided that, perhaps, we viewed life more as a cross country race than a sprint. When our sons were in cross country we noticed that winning was important…but even more important was beating your own time….running your own race…but running it better than the race before.

We kind of liked that thought. The thought of living life; to live it better than the day before was kind of good. It seems to be a way to live without competing against everyone else and without comparing yourself to others.

Living life by just trying to do your own stuff better, really frees a person up from wanting what everyone else has or wanting more than everyone else has. Maybe time on a porch just makes for being content. Maybe it is the slower pace that sitting on a porch seems to bring.

There is just something about sitting on a porch, starting your day with a good cup of tea/coffee and connecting with someone you love; that lends itself to a very content state of mind. Whatever it is….I am all for it.

May you have time to sit with a loved one this weekend. May your conversations meander and bring a smile to your face…..and if you can do this on a porch….may it bring a sense of contentment and a feeling that all is right with your world.

 

 “Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want
but the realization of how much you already have.”
Anonymous

 

 

 

 

 

Learning Something New

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This past week my husband and I learned something new. I should also mention we did not look incredibly intelligent learning this new thing.

On our way to a family gathering, we made a quick pit stop at the local Walmart to pick up a pool skimmer I had ordered online. We made our way to the Customer Service department and showed them the email I had received.

The gal at the service department asked if we had gone to the Pickup Tower. We answered that we had not; and asked where we could find this pickup tower. She pointed to the right and told us to look for the big orange tower.

Needless to say…..I am thinking my husband and I should have our eyes checked. The Pickup Tower was HUGE and had bright orange letters that boldly stated what it was. I have no idea how we missed seeing something that big and bright.

We made our way to this tower and saw a screen with instructions. It told us to scan the bar code sent in the email. We did so and had success when the next instructions told us to reach in the locker and pick up the package and make sure to shut the door when done.

My husband and I looked at each other and wandered around that big orange tower looking for an open locker door. We were greeted by smooth, metal, orange walls….no open door.

My husband then went in search of an employee. When he came back with one, she very calmly gestured to our left and said our package was in locker number 5….yes….the door was open.

Somehow we missed this entire wall of lockers to the left of the tower. I have no explanation other than we were focused on this big tower. I told the employee they should have cameras installed to video people like us…..they could win a lot of money on some candid camera type show.

We did run into a gal from our church and we asked her if she knew about the tower and the lockers. We felt a lot better when she had no clue either!

We spent the rest of our car trip to the gathering, laughing at ourselves. We also decided that old dogs could learn new tricks!  I messed up and did not get a photo of the amazing orange tower; so the picture you get, is of my pool (yes it is a pool—-kind of like an adult wading pool)….because without that pool we never would have learned this new thing!

I am going to try be very conscious of my surroundings the next time I need to venture into an unfamiliar situation. It will probably be good to make sure my eyes are wide open and I check up, down and all around. I don’t have an issue asking questions but I really do not like looking any stupider than I have too! I can do that easy enough….obviously.

It is probably good to have things like this happen….they do tend to keep a person humble…at least they keep my pride in check.  These situations also are good for a great laugh…..if you don’t mind laughing at yourself.

May you have interesting things happen to you this week. Take time to appreciate the humor in an odd situation and always remember……you are never to old to learn something new! And one more thing….Please…please share your experiences!

“Sometimes the best hiding place
is the one that’s in plain sight.”
~ Stephenie Meyer

 

 

Two Sides to Freedom

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Tonight as I went out to lock the girls in for the night I was not prepared for the beautiful orange of the western sky as it peeked between the evergreen boughs. The night was quiet with a light breeze gently moving the leaves of the flowering crab tree. It was the perfect ending to some very busy days.

The last weeks have been very busy. I have a feeling we are trying to catch up and stay ahead of things between the heavy rainstorms that we have been given. The lawn seems to be growing faster than we can get it mowed. And the weeds in the fields and garden have been doing the same.

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Arnold’s Park

In between all the day to day house/farm stuff, we had the 4th of July holiday thrown in. I really love that holiday because we spend it at my sister’s place at the lake. Family and friends gather for a day of fun, food, boat rides and game playing. Stories are traded, babies are held, recipes are traded and the day ends with the traditional firework display.

As I sat there and watched those fireworks I noticed the flag flying proudly at Arnold’s Park. It did make me pause and realize what this celebration was really all about…the birth of our nation and the sacrifice it took to make it through all the labor pains of that birth.

It made me think of the blood that was shed and is still being shed so that freedoms can be protected. I am so grateful for those that are willing to make that sacrifice for us. I am grateful for those who leave their families for months at a time so I can spend a holiday with mine.

20190705_0852451736528332.jpgWe were concerned about the weather as storms were predicted to roll in during the day….fortunately they were wrong this time. We were able to take a walk along the lake the next morning and enjoy the quiet of the lake after the very people-filled day before.

 

It was kind of amazing how quiet the water was that morning. The day before it was choppy due to all the boats and jet skis that were zipping around. It was a great reminder that there are usually two sides to most things in life…you just have to open your eyes to both of them.

In the space of 24 hours we saw both sides of the lake…the busy and the quiet. We were able to see a dazzling fireworks display and enjoy the freedom of that while reflecting on the sacrifice it takes to keep those freedoms.

I will always be grateful for those freedoms and that sacrifice. When I am privileged to stand in my backyard, inhaling the fragrance of blooming lilies, feeling the light breeze whisper past my cheek and see the sky on fire with brilliant shades of orange; I will give thanks to those who have paid the ultimate price. I will remember the two sides that are freedom.

 

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must,
like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

Thomas Paine

 

Rendering Lard

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Finished product~now to get solid

This past week my husband called me to a task I had been putting off for a bit…..rendering lard. It isn’t that I don’t like to render lard. I just really don’t like all the clean up needed after that very greasy job.

We had two bags of trimmings from a hog that was processed. My husband loves the cracklings for Balken Brie and I love to use the lard for pie crusts and frying things. Because of those two facts I asked the butcher to keep the fat for me.

The first part of the process involved grinding the fat so it would melt better. I always kind of wonder what would happen if we didn’t grind it? Would we just have fried blobs of fat? Or would it all melt? If anyone has the answer to that, please let me know!

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Finishing up the process

After that process, we moved things to the garage. We set up our two fry pans and the cloth lined colander and began. The process never really takes that long to accomplish. It takes about as long to clean up.

As I was packing up the nicely fried up cracklings into freezer bags, putting the cooled lard into containers and washing dishes I had some time to reflect on the entire process.

The fat gets incredibly hot as it melts and you have to be very careful not to burn yourself. I wondered if sometimes our lives are like that. In order for us to be made into a “useful product” must we be put over the fire?

Must we be refined, just as the fat is? The only way to refine the fat and make useable lard and edible cracklings; is to put it on high heat for the necessary time. Without doing that, it is just a blob of fat with bits of meat in it.

I really don’t like being uncomfortable, but I guess if it take high heat to turn my life into more than a blob of fat; I will have to go through that! I am trying to remember that particular truth….Refining is hard, but necessary to be useful.

If you find yourself being “refined” lately; take heart…..it gets better and soon you will find a life of joy again.

Discipline is the refining fire
by which talent becomes ability.
Roy L. Smith

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/roy_l_smith_155560?src=t_refining

Dissension in the Coop

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It is hard to believe that is has almost been a year since we moved the new chickens into the chicken coop. An entire year since my husband and I transferred the new girls from the old block milk house to their new quarters.

I remember that for a while there was a bit of dissension in the chicken coop. Nothing major…just a bit of fussing and fluffing of feathers going on.

I remember it was fairly easy to capture them as they were used to me touching them and talking to them. We put them in a wooden chicken crate and transported them across the yard to the coop.

Once there, they did not seem to appreciate their much larger, more airy surroundings. Instead of gratitude they milled around, making questioning noises and generally looking a bit stressed and anxious.

The “old girls” were even less impressed with the change than the new girls were! They promptly exited nesting boxes and left the building.

The two groups were pretty leery of each other for a time. They tended to stick with the group they knew. I knew that down the road that would change and they would acclimate to life together.

For a long time they roosted as far away from each as they could get and still be on the roost. They would not eat together but huddled in their own groups and looked a bit miffed at the entire situation.

I had no doubt that in a short time they would come together as a group. I had no doubt that it would not take long and it would be hard to tell who was “old” and who was “new”.

In looking back I wonder if we, as people, are a lot like my girls?  When put in a new situation do we fuss, do we question and are we generally anxious and stressed? (I know I am!) I wonder if we tend to keep separate from things and people that we do not know.

I have a feeling that  for most of us, if not pushed, we do not make an effort to get to know the new  around us. I also know that if we don’t make that effort, we miss out on so much.

We miss out on amazing people who bless our lives. We miss out on experiences that enrich us and make for great memories. Let’s get out of our comfort zones and get to know the others in the coop!

Today you get three quotes because I just could not choose which one I liked the best.

 

“Walk with me for a while,
my friend
—you in my shoes, I in yours
—and then let us talk.” 

― Richelle E. GoodrichSmile Anyway

 

“And that might just be the root of the problem:
we’re all afraid of each other.” 
― Leslye WaltonThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

 

If possible,
so
far as it depends on you,
live peaceably with all.
Romans 12:18

 

Preparing For The Polar Vortex

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We should have known the weather man wasn’t lying about the coming polar vortex. Yesterday we saw two birds vying for the right to eat the corn off the squirrel feeder….the woodpecker won this round.

I guess the birds know when to prepare for the coming journey into the deep freeze that is an Iowa winter. My husband and I took our cue from their preparations and also spent time yesterday preparing the chicken coop.

My husband rigged up a heat lamp that the girls could roost under at night and he then fluffed the chipped wood bedding on the floor. I made sure they had plenty of water and feed. 20190129_114028.jpg

This morning, when I went to see if they wanted to go out on this bitter day I noticed they had already laid a few eggs. I figured I had better take them along to the house with me.

Once I picked a couple of them up; I found I was already to late…..the below zero temps had already frozen a couple of them.

I have a feeling that I will either be baking or serving scrambled eggs for a meal in the next few days!

I have decided that I will also need to gather eggs a few times during the day tomorrow and the next day as they tell us our highs will be -12º tomorrow.  They also assure us this will be record setting. I don’t know about you…but that is one record I really don’t feel the need to break!

I kind of have to laugh when I go into the chicken coop during this type of weather….the girls have a distinct grumble to their “talking”. I don’t think they are too pleased with the cold wind and they aren’t pleased with being locked in either.

I try to tell them it is for their own good but I don’t think they believe me or they don’t understand. Even if they do believe me or understand…they are still pretty miffed about it all.

I have a feeling I am the same way with life. So many times I know things are happening because they are good for me but I really don’t want to believe it…. and I really don’t want to take the time to understand it. It is so much easier to just be a little ticked about it all.

If this week finds you in a situation that you know is for your good but you aren’t happy about it….take a deep breath, step back and give it some time. I find that after a bit I am either okay with it or at least over the “grumbly” phase.

May you also stay warm…wherever you are! And if it is bitter cold…may you have made preparations in advance like those very smart birds.

The past is behind:
learn from it.
The future is ahead:
prepare for it.
The present is here:
live it!
Thomas S. Monson