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making pocketas.... part 2 (the end)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013
I'm done. Went to the 'just-a-buck store' and bought four pound bags of dry black beans (thinking if I did not actually put them all in the little pocketas, I could eventually eat them, as I am, for some odd reason, inordinately fond of black beans). But as it turned out, only used two pounds. The little pocketas are only about 3 x 4 inches, so I did not need nearly as much stuffing as anticipated, and now they are all filled, sewed shut, and ready to be tossed.

I used a piece of pillowcase I cut off a king-size to make it 'normal', since we don't have king-sized pillows any more, and it would flap around in your face, when you turn to the cool side' of the pillow. And a piece of sheet left over from some one making a 'welcome home' sign. Pleased to announce that in all the pondering, planning, and prepping the pocketas, I only sewed one shut without filling... pretty impressive, I think. And have two dozen little bean bags to take to church tomorrow. Plus two pounds of beans to make into salad, burrito-filling, soup, whatever, when I get to feeling a bit 'beany'.

making pocketas....

You remember that story we all had mostly memorized from reading it so many times ... not the Cat in the Hat! But the one about the little bear that wandered off in a department store and wanted a pocket? I was thinking of Corduroy when I was sitting at my sewing machine - making pockets.

Actually not pockets per se, but the beginnings of two dozen bean bags for some mystery project that is going on with the Education coordinator at church. This is a funny/not funny tale of... The Missing Bean Bags. She called me the end of last week, about something unrelated, and finally got around to saying:' I want to ask you something, and preface it with I won't be sad or feel bad if you say No. But I need some bean bags.' The reason she had her tail between her legs and came at me with this hang dog attitude is it probably the fourth time she has asked me to make bean bags... where they go, we will likely never know? Perhaps a bean-bag-black-hole? I've made them on a number of occasions in the past, for Fall Festival Bean Bag Toss, or other reasons she would need something relatively harmless to have the kids aim towards a target. And they keep mysteriously disappearing. (insert the spooky theme song from The Twilight Zone here...)

So I've been sitting at my machine, making more pockets to put beans in. One time, I did not have dry beans and used rice instead. Which explains how I found myself completely rice-less last week when I needed some for a new recipe I wanted to try. I have three sides sewn, and now find that I must go to the store for a bag 'o' beans for filling before I can sew up the fourth side and finish the project.

I'm thinking about sewing a very long string or piece of yard on each one and have the bags securely attached to an immovable object - just to see how long it takes before they ... vanish....into oblivion....

the question is...

Monday, July 29, 2013
Recently I was asked: 'How's Paul?', so here is most recent news about him. He is still miserable with the shingles outbreak (I know - it sounds like a problem some roofers might have when it's too wet to work. Or a combination of criminals tunneling out of the big house and unexpected attic infestation.) This has been going on for over a month. And the guy thought that if he took the anti-viral Rx,. that he would be completely done by the end of the week. Sad. So though I hear an occasional rumbling of discontent, there is not much in the way of relief - especially things that he is willing to comply with. Which is a story for another time...

The current mini-crisis concerns the power chair, and it's failure to operate on his terms. It was supplied, fully covered by insurance. Though he had to pay for the transportation/accessories/electric lift to be installed on the back of his vehicle. This makes the chair portable, though the supplier specifies it is for home mobility only. The basic chair has been gratis, no expense and quite convenient for someone who would otherwise be severely handicapped with mobility issues. As he experienced some problems with powering of the power chair back early in the year, he went to the battery store to have it checked. Insurance will allow replacement of the battery once a year, so he got a new battery installed. But it still was not providing the on-going energy he expected - often having to recharge the battery mid-day to meet his needs. Convinced it was a problem the supplier should deal with, he called for resolution. They said it was not their responsibility.

He did not want to replace what was a nearly new battery, plus another trip to the store got the response that this one was not defective. I said: 'don't you think the ability to be mobile at your convenience is worth the cost of a battery?'  He tried to convince himself the problem could be with the charging device, that the equipment, previously perfectly designed and adequately provided, was no longer functioning properly. He mumbled and grumbled a bit more, then went back to the battery store and paid for a battery.

I recently asked him how it was working, after getting a new battery installed and he readily admits that it's getting him where he wants to go. I decline the perfect opportunity to say 'it', so I am diligently practicing the art of biting my tongue.

millipedes.... arrrggghhh...

Just because you have not been reading about the on-going trials and aggravations, does not mean that it is not on-going. If you think it's tedious out there when you snatch my words out of space, you should come by here and deal with the problem every day. Never ending. There are,between the living and the dead, generally about a dozen every morning. Not nearly as volumnious as when this first started, and I was literally sweeping up forty or fifty or more each morning - but no less annoying. Just the process of opening my eyes, and thinking of what I will have to do as soon as I walk in the kitchen every day: arrggghhh.

Now that the population explosion has diminished somewhat, I can go in and sweep once, put my broom and dustpan up. And have have learned that after that first early morning effort, I can easily corral those amongst the living with a piece of paper. You just put the paper in the path of the simpleminded wiggler and it will walk onto it. Then you go drop it in the toilet. The only problem being, they are so lacking in discernment (possibly even completely brainless), they just keep walking, walking, walking. And when they get to the edge of the paper before you get to the 'dropping off place', they will fall off the edge of the transporting paper.

So you have to stop, just like in the Spoon-and-Potato race when you drop your potato, and start again. Put your piece of paper on the floor in the direct path of the millipede. Wait for the bug to walk onto the edge of the paper, and try again to get to the bathroom before it walks off another edge. Since discovering they cannot swim, I try to get them all in there, fruitlessly treading water before flushing. Even though I am not being totally 'environmentally friendly' by flagrantly disposing of wildlife without discretion, I want to wait, and make it worthwhile to flush!

Saturday morning, part 2

Sunday, July 28, 2013
Had to go down/uptown early to get the weeding done, so I could get the Home Depot and learn all about Tile. Much more than I ever needed to know.

I remembered that the big box stores used to offer do-it-yourself classes to help people manage homeownership with minor repairs to decks or plumbing, or retaining wall projects. So I was hoping I would find some information about laying tile. Although the tile I am interested in will not actually 'lay'. I recruited my smart friend PC to go along - even though she is so knowledgeable about handy-man-ing, she could probably hang sheetrock in her sleep.

We met at the big box at 10:30 and got a wonderful lesson in tiling the shower stall. Rule number one is: start in the middle. (Trick number one is: go over to the paint dept. and ask for a bunch of paint stirrers that you place along the edge of the tub to keep the tile secure, evenly spaced along the bottom edge, and at the same height all across until the glue sets.) I know there are lots of videos out there and you can find Anything on the internet. No end to the 'how to's once you get started... I predict you could easily find yourself so distracted you would not actually get the project done.

Use non-sanded grout for the small cracks, and sanded grout for the big cracks. Which is another way of saying if you have a small crack, you do not want to get a lot of sand in it, as it will be very irritating. Take that any way you want....

There is a neat little gizmo that cuts the tile for you, and another clever little item to make the holes in the tile for the plumbing. No end also to the amount of money you can spend on 'do it yourself'ing. I'm as ready as I'm gonna get...

Saturday morning story...

I was supposed to be down/uptown at 9:00 on Saturday, to meet a fellow gardener and do some routine weed-pulling work in the kitchen garden behind the Walker-Peters-Langdon Historic home. I can't tell you much about the house, even though I have been inside, since my previous visit was at least twenty-five years ago. I think it is the only original, or maybe earliest preserved, homestead from the founding of Columbus.

I think the W-P-L. House is owned by the city, and administered by the Historic Columbus Foundation. I don't recall, and did not peek in any windows, but suspect it is furnished in the appropriate style of the period, with mostly hand-made fabrics and furniture. It can be seen as part of a tour the Foundation offers, that also includes the building that was the original pharmacy of Mr. Pemberton, the man who developed the formula for Coca-Cola.

A group of Master Gardening people have taken over keeping the back yard. It has a little white picket fence, and gate separating the lawn from the rear of the building, and a fairly tidy garden area behind the house. I think I remember hearing that the garden had been neglected, was sadly overgrown, gone to weed and seed in recent years. And that the city had asked the county agent if she would recruit some of her 'trained' volunteers to clean it up and manage the ongoing maintenance. They did, if I recall correctly, a good bit of bushwhacking, and have tamed it into a reasonable semblance of a mid 1800's kitchen garden. With some ornamental bloomers, but mostly herbs and vegetables.

We were weeding around a nice little plot of beans, tomatoes, corn, peas, a few okra plants and two blueberry bushes. I made a comment about being such a big fan of mulching to keep weeds at bay, and got the response that people did not mulch back then! And if you think about mulch - in another culture, it would probably be considered as 'trashy' looking. Which explains why the old people were all stooped, looking bent double, from all those years of hoe-ing to keep the weeds from taking over! I pulled up about a gazillion little cherry laurel volunteers, and kept wondering where they all came from, then took a break from squatting to look up and discovered lots of cherry laurel trees hanging overhead. All it takes is one tree, and a flock of birds to have a huge problem with an invasive species...

Plus, they did not actually have 'lawns', unless the area was big enough to fence and pasture goats or cows to keep it under control. We devote so much time, energy, water, financial investment to create the perfect carpet of grass around our homes. So it's difficult to think that at one time, grass was a nusiance. Do you remember driving out in the country and seeing old houses with a neat hedge and the area between the hedge and house swept perfectly clean of all living things? No grass, no weeds, nothing. Just sand. Was it to keep pests away, or make them more visible as they were wiggling their way toward the foundation of the house that was four feet off the ground?

I have never experienced such a pestilence of mosquitos in all my life. That hour and a half of weed pulling gave me a wee taste of what it must be like to live in the tropics. The nasty little suckers were swarming and singing the whole time. It was so, so, so bad. I'd put on bug repellant before I left the house, covering my arms and legs, neck, face, ears. But they were so awful, I had to stop half way through and go back to my car for another layer of skin-so-soft. I only got several bites, which proves the Avon product works well. That was the craziest thing - I don't know if there are lots of places in the neighborhood with standing water where the stinkers are breeding/hatching, or it is because we were a block from the river - but they were Awful.

mostly about cleanliness...

Saturday, July 27, 2013
Doing a bit of 'public gardening' today on Broad Street in the Historic District of Uptown Columbus. After several hours of being in the public at the Gardens of Callaway in Harris County on Friday.

A group of Master Gardening chums have taken on the care and feeding of the demo. gardens at an old house Uptown. It belongs to the Historic Columbus Foundation and is in an area where the Pemberton House is located. (You know - Mr. Coca-Cola.) Gardening fiends have been going in pairs over the summer doing upkeep to the landscaping as needed - and with all this rain there has been quite a need. I've agreed to go several times, with someone I have yet to meet. Today is my first, so I am sure I will know a lot more about what I've gotten myself into very soon. Supposedly meeting to do some weed pulling and possibly shrub-trimming at 9:00, just routine maintenance type stuff, trying to keep up with all that grows in a very wet season. This qualifies as a 'cleanliness project', right?

I will go early and get started, as I have another commitment at 10:30.

Which is the appointed time for the free demo./class at Home Depot on how to set tile. This should be interesting. I know there are all kinds of 'how to' helpful videos and sources of advice on the internet - but as with most 'foreign' topics, I know I will feel better equipped after an opportunity to put my hands on the materials. It can't be that complicated or difficult - but as you can imagine - practice is the key.

Then I have to go to Publix for a few hours, which I am not at all excited about. The department managers are a negligent bunch when it comes to sanitation. So I have been invited to come in today to get some cleaning done. Sadly - something I do not like, enjoy, and postpone at my own house, so why would I want to go and do it someplace else? For the pay, I guess. Even though it does not provide enough remuneration for me to want to spend my day cleaning up someone else's mess.  I have been hoping for months they would continue to ignore basic,common-sense cleaniness practices and it would come back around to bite them. My employer pays a private company to inspect all their stores for sanitation, and the inspectors come through largely unannounced, so you don't get a weeks' notice to industriously clean all the stuff you have ignored for months. You read all the time in the media about people becoming ill due to food, and how it is traced back to a particular source: like the peanut butter-borne illnesses here in south GA of recent years. So there is always ultimately accountability. Sometimes it just takes years of neglect for it to occur.

Oh - and while we are on the subject of cleanliness: I cleaned all the floors in my house the first of the week. Tile, hardwood, carpet. And left to run some errands. When I got back, I discovered a root beer explosion in the kitchen. Not all that amusing to the person who had just been mopping. Especially due to having told him that he had to actually take the bottle of diet root beer outside to open it, after I saw it dropped on the floor at the store. But it got opened in the kitchen, and then the floor got mopped twice in one day. (insert sad face here.)

this is how my day went...

Friday, July 26, 2013
I knew it would be busy before I even went to bed last night. When there is a reason for me to need to have an alarm set to wake up 'artificially' instead of whenever my body says it's time - that means it will be a very long time before I will have an opportunity to be horizontal again. I was so concerned about getting up, I did something I have never done before: set two alarms. I was concerned that the one that is battery operated might somehow give out of juice before it startled me awake, so I had a back up in the form of one that is actually manually operated. Which means it will not continue to tick incessantly until I take the battery out - it will just run down unless re-wound.

I set the clock for 5 a.m., so I could get to work at 6. I told them I had to leave at 10, to go to a workshop at the Botanical Gardens. That would last for two hours, after which I could have time to come home, grab some lunch and change clothes. Then get my oil changed in my dependable little Toyo before I had to be at Callaway Gardens at 3:00. Where I would spend the afternoon as a volunteer at the Friday afternoon Market. Lots of local vendors selling everything from homemade bread, to tacky jewelry, to candy cotton on a paper cone, local honey, wooden kitchen accessories, baby quilts, cakes and fried pies.

And vegetables, freshly picked from the garden. The group of volunteers I was with 'man the stand' to sell the produce from Mr. Cason's Vegetable Garden. Today we had beans, peas, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, fresh plucked corn, plus some huge basil plants and little pots of chives. The smart people who want to get fresh veggies know to come as soon as the market stand opens, around 3:30 - the rest have to take whatever the smart people did not want. Oh - and okra! I bought some wee little pods to steam and eat with butter. oh, yummmmm...

I left the Gardens at 6, to go out to Ellerslie, at the end of the four-lane on Alt. 27, to a huge Baptist church - oddly planted way out in the middle of nowhere. There is literally nothing there at the intersection except a post office and volunteer fire station. And a church with a sanctuary that must seat 500. We had a really good crowd for the dinner - I'd guess close to 200. I'd been trying to save up all day for the potluck dinner... and thinking, as one would do shortly after eating the usual abundance of a Thanksgiving meal: now I need to go lay down due to having enjoyed myself too much.

Then: when I finally got home after all that busy-ness, there was an inquiry about a particular Item from Walmart. So I made a run to wallyworld. Only about ten miles there and back - but I was pretty close to running out of steam by that time of day. So I went to wallyworld, and naturally the thing I need is as far away from the front door as you can get and still be in the store. But I did, and got home, ready to brush my teeth and crash: At 10:00 p.m.


Monday, July 22, 2013

I am going to sweep and mop today. And wish there were some harmless-but-deadly substance I could put in my mop bucket to keep them at bay. Not just end their pitiful little lives when they come in the house, but something that would sort of draw a line in the sand that says: Don't.

(un)guided tour...'new' ATL terminal

Having made numerous trips in the general vicinity of ATL on a regular basis, and seeing many signs finally unveiled last fall, I knew there was a new terminal for International Travel. I'm pretty sure the purpose was to both increase congestion in the sense of having more travelers pass through Atlanta in their comings and goings, and decrease congestion in the Hartsfield Terminal that has general, everyday run-of-the-mill chaos all hours of the day and night. This new one is dedicated to the memory of the late Mayor: Maynard Jackson, who apparently died at the airport, as he was leaving town, and had a heart attack. There is a very nice portrait of him hanging in the Departures level of the new terminal, with control tower 'photo-shopped' into the background, and Jackson in his largeness, wearing a neck tie with dozens of colorful Easter eggs.

In the interest of public knowledge (Inquiring Minds Want To Know), I have inspected as  much of the new terminal as TSA will allow. It's pretty, pretty new, and pretty dull. Designed to be low maintenance, so lots of hard surfaces: metal, glass, stone. I understand once you clear TSA, you can access all the concourses, as well as F, which is designated International Arrivals and Departures... plus, as long as you keep all your tonnage of luggage on your person, you can also access a multitude of over-priced retail stores for all your souvenir, eating and drinking desires, in all the other concourses: A, B, C, D, E.

My story is I was there to meet my auntie who had been on an organized trip/tour to Greece. I personally cannot imagine a worse time to go, when the entire country is in disarray. (Was it because with their financial system crumbling, the exchange rate is wonderful?) Only thing worse would be going someplace deadly like Syria or Egypt. I have apparently lost much of my 'daresome-ness' in my old age. But she still has a-plenty: having been to Vietnam early in the year, that must have rejuvenated her 'travel bug'. I don't know anything about her trip - but assume it was a good one. She was peppering us with questions, and not forthcoming with any information about her travels, wanting to know all about the 'retrieval team' of picker-uppers, and family, rather than talking about her trip.

The flight was supposed to get into ATL from Frankfurt at 3:50 in the afternoon, and finally made her way through concourse, tunnels, onsite transportation, and customs to arrive about 8:00. Apparently circled above the city so long, due to bad weather, they had to be diverted to Charlotte to refuel, which was time consuming. By the time they could land, take on  more fuel, get in line to take off, and return to ATL, get in line to land - it was about four hours after the ETA. It all worked out, and gave me lots of time to wander around, looking at the sparkling new facility. The nicest, friendliest thing there: the big planters out front, where vehicles idle, spewing exhaust all day and night. Lots of fresh healthy blooming things in the big pots. Although they are colorful, cheerful, welcoming, I am sure are designed to protect the entrances of the building, just like the carefully tended, colorfully filled 'planters' that are actually barricades in front of all the federal buildings in DC, and probably nation-wide.

If you are planning travel that requires trooping through the ATL, entry into the domestic side is different too. Funneled differently into TSA inspection area, and things have changed underground with access to concourses. So... even though you thought you were a seasoned traveler, and knew your way around (as opposed to standing there looking baffled, hoping to find someone to ask for directions, knowing you look like a bumpkin) - wrong!

blueberries + recipe ingredients = muffings!

Friday, July 19, 2013
I was out late yesterday afternoon to do more berry picking. I'd pretty much gotten all the ones that were ripe several days ago, and noticing it was time to pick more. I've been putting them on a baking sheet and in the freezer before bagging to store. Looks like I will have at least four quarts from that one bush that has been so prolific. It has been so faithfully, dependably reliable over the years - even though I tend to completely ignore it until I notice it is blooming, and then months later say: 'Oh! It's time to start picking.' I resolve to take better care of it: 'after the 'season' and I have picked all the delicious fruit. I'll pull out all the honeysuckle that has grown up on the fence and wants to strangle it. And trim out the dead branches...

I saved out a cup full before putting them on the pan last night, to make a batch of muffins this morning. I put all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, put a lid on. Put all the liquids in a container, with a lid, and the berries in a zip bag. Ready to travel.

Got up this morning at 4:30 when the alarm went off. Gathering up the ingredients for baking, and left home. To bake for the person who says: "I feed other people All The Time, and no one ever cooks for me!"  I was thinking those delicious berries are so big, fat, juicy (some are literally the size of marbles!), I'm not sure the end product will hold together - it will be all berry! But they were very good- I think I will go have another just to be sure...

DIY tile class...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The people in TN have been roughing it for .... a year at least. Having completely gutted the bathroom, down to the two-by-fours, and even past the wall board to replace bad wood that had deteriorated over years of leaking and neglect. Living in a one bathroom house, when they meant to have two. Took out all the wiring, plumbing, to the point of having nothing at all in that 'formerly known as' bathroom. The bathtub has even been refinished. I think they are to the point of beginning to reassemble, and making decisions about flooring and tile.

So I received an 'offer' to come up one weekend and help with tiling the shower stall. I know less than zero about tile, even though I should be genetically pre-disposed to such handy occupations. My dad could do that sort of thing, and was of the era to be more than capable of most any type construction. Plus unwilling to pay someone to do any project he could manage on his own, keeping the funds securely in his pocket instead of paying for labor to get the job done. I have a brother who is just that smart and capable. But that's not me.

So when the mention was made of "come up and we will tile the bathroom" - I thought: yikes. And decided I should be looking for a class in basic tile-laying. I knew that the big box outfits have historically offered DIY classes for amateurs to learn some basic skills, demonstrating things that the Average Joe can handily manage with with minmal expertise. So I was looking on line to see if there might be a 'tiling' class for the DIY-Impaired available locally. And found that Home Depot was offering a 'how-to' for beginners with no tile experience. And signed myself up, even though the date for the class is in September, and I know they are getting very weary of trooping down the hall to use the facilities. So: here I am, ready to get started on learning how to become a tile setter, and come to the place in the sign up process where they tell me what time I need to be there for the class. Only to find I have signed up to take the class in Knoxville, TN... when I was thinking it was offered right here, in Columbus, GA. Hmmm... how to extract myself from this????

Not all that likely I will make the commute from middle GA to north TN for the class in late September. Even though it would be a good skill to develop, so I'm thinking I better just google up 'how to tile' and hope for the best - if it looks bad, we can always start over, right?


About those millipedes... I am thinking that there should be some way they could be deemed useful...

And wondering if I might start saving them to give away for Christmas gifts: you know - Share the Joy. I would like to believe they are seasonal, and they (even with the miniscule brains they have to work with) could be thinking I will miss them when they are gone. So I am going to get some jars and start stockpiling them for those long cold dark damp winter days when they are not out there reproducing faster than bunnies, and squeezing their wormy little selves into my kitchen. In case I get lonesome and miss their creepy crawling little exoskeletons so much I feel the need to scatter some of the little pin-wheel-like crunchy corpses on the floor in the absence of the lively little bugs.

So don't be surprised with something totally unexpected in your Christmas stocking, that might look more like a science fair project than something someone lovingly chose as the perfect gift for holiday sharing.

are you lonesome for some millipede news?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Me neither.

They're still here. I still sweep them up every morning. And there are always more industriously inching their way across the kitchen tiles by the time I get back from dumping them in the toilet. Just not as many as there were the time I was so astounded I actually took a photo to prove there really was an Invasion.

you'll probaby think this is crazie...

I am absolutely astounded by the fact of washing machines. Don't you think that something that will open it's mouth to allow you to put dirty clothes in it is Amazing? And even more so: when you look in there after the spin cycle stops, those things that you put in dirty are Clean!!

I don't know how many people it took to think it up, and perfect all the processes it requires to complete the entire production from 'Open Sesame' to 'Wow' - but it is really remarkably impressive. Hats off to inventors, tinkerers, ponderers and engineers who keep muttering to themselves and scratching their heads. Going back into the basement workshop, or tool shed for one more try at solving the dilemma. Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, et al.

Especially when I consider that I my life time, women were devoting a whole day of their lives on a weekly basis to getting the family laundry done. From the energy sapping task of washing, to putting through a hand operated wringer, to hanging the cold clammy wet items out on the line to dry. Then bringing them in and wetting them again enough to iron the wrinkles out before wearing - to get dirty and start the process all over again. I can even remember seeing Real People (not re-enactors pretending to do the work, or a demonstration on a reproduction of a 'working farm') stirring clothing in a black pot over a wood fire in the yard, struggling to make a living, appearing to be 'stewing up a batch of clothing', before rinsing and hanging up to dry.

I can't remember the last time I had occasion to plug in my iron: I'd have been doing the work on a folded towel, as I don't even own an ironing board any more. And don't want to think about what life would be if everything we cover up with had to be ironed previous to wearing. At my house we would be wearing A Lot of wrinkles, and not just on our faces! I might own something I would not want to be seen in rough-dried, but it's not likely I would be embarrassed enough to fire up the iron before going out in public.

I remember my mom spending an entire Saturday, washing dozens of sets of clothes that came home stuffed in pillow case from the dorm., and ironing all those pants and shirts when my brother would come home on a weekend from college - prior to the era of drip-dry/permanent-press/wrinkle-free fabrics. I used to live with someone whose 'method' would be: pile up the clean stuff in the laundry basket, then give it a spritz of water, toss it back in the dryer to catch it before the timer goes off - that's 'wrinkle free' enough to show up at 8:30 for school. Clothes washer are amazing - and the time-saving modern convenience of clothes dryers is not far behind!

If you ever run out of something to be thankful for....include water piped into your house, along with electricity to run all those appliances we think we can't live without... and the resources to pay for those 'conveniences' that have weaseled their way into our lives and become necessities. And you might as well include the US Constitution...

didja' miss me?

I've been traveling again... and amazed at the prices of gas from one side of the state to the other, and top to bottom. It's crazy. There is about forty cents difference between middle and south GA. I am glad that I am driving something that gets remarkably good mileage, so I don't have to curtail my running around.

I was in SC last Friday, where I bought gas for $3.09. And back to Decatur before dark. Where I spent the night, to get up on Saturday morning and trek through the woods with probably eight thousand complete strangers (and four people I knew) for a fund-rasier that would benefit the Rockdale County EMS. I'm pretty sure the 'appeal' of the event was getting color bombed - which apparently the other eight-thousand-four found amusing. Brightly dyed bags of colored cornstarch and water buffaloes full of colored water to saturate all the runner/walker participants. I can definitely mark that off my bucket list...

And as if I had completely taken leave of my good sense: drove to south GA on Sunday night after working all day. It was either that or make the trip down and back in one day - so I know I made the right decision. Where I bought gas in Valdosta for $3.41, after driving from one end of town to the other, hoping for a better price. I got a bit of bushwhacking done in Quitman, trying to tame the overgrown yard. A fruitless occupation, as it is obviously growing much faster than I can whack back. Plus there is always lots of tree-trash, blown down by storms, that begs to be picked up.

Had lunch with a friend of my mom's and got back to Columbus in time to go to bed.So I could get up and go to work again today. Tomorrow I will try to get some of the mess in my own back yard cleaned up.

u-pick-em blueberries...

Thursday, July 11, 2013
I have been out in the back yard picking blueberries, three times in the past two days. Two of those occasions I had to quit when it started raining - but I really had all that would fit on the baking sheet I put them on to freeze, so it was time to stop for a while. There is this one bush, there between the board fence belonging to the neighbor and our chain link that has been in place for over twenty-five years. It is so amazingly prolific - that is really all the bush I need or can keep up with.

A neighbor bought two bushes many years ago, with the understanding that I would plant them and we would share in what they produced. He is deceased, and I am not telling the new homeowner about the agreement. One bush is an early bear-er, that does not make anything worth picking. But the other more than makes up for that. I probably have three quarts of berries in the freezer, from yesterday and today. And there are more that are not ripe.

I think I have given away all I picked last season, but am seriously thinking about digging aroundin my box for the muffin recipe. They are so huge, big, fat - you will think it an exaggeration when I say I have picked some that are the diameter of a dime! But it is true - and I have the blueberries to prove it. If I were to make muffins - they would be so full of juicy berries they would fall apart - but while we are eating them with a spoon, they will be So good.

a little field trip into the sand hills...

In the interest of ecology and conservation, I invited myself along on a interesting expedition into the sand hills of west Georgia today. Upon hearing from a fellow plant lover/gardener of an excursion into Talbot County to visit a bog, see (oh my gosh!) pitcher plants and possibly a grand-daddy gopher tortoise, I jumped at the chance. And secretly decided that this was far more important than being a work... so I slipped away early to keep from getting left when the group went tromping in the woods.

It was remarkably hot, muggy, buggy, sweaty, gummy, sticky. I am so glad I went. I will do most any crazy thing to have the opportunity to go and see carnivorous plants. How amazing is that. There is a place north of Moultrie that is protected, a low boggy area in south Georgia farm land, possibly donated to a conservancy organization I have been itchy to see - so I am ready for the next field trip!

We went under the supervision of someone who works for a environmental organization, based here in Columbus, and funded by grant money. The main focus of this group is to encourage landowners to plant long-leaf pines, and other plants that will form community to support native wildlife. Lots of tracts of land along the fall line, where the ocean left massive deposits of sand as seawater retreated - perfect for the burrowing tortoise to dig. And that huge turtle, that eventually grows a shell as big as a turkey platter, has only man in fast moving vehicles as an enemy. If they survive to adulthood, they can live to be eighty years old - that's a Lot of Turtle. As they dig in the soft sand, and create a burrow. up to forty feet long below the surface, it can provide a home/refuge for many other forms of native life: owls, mice, rats, gophers, Mr. No-shoulders, etc.

We did not see any wildlife - o.k. with me, as I was pretty nervous about the possibility of encountering things that slither. We did walk about a mile in the muggy, buggy heat down to an area that only occurs because there are power lines crossing through the woods. If the power company did not keep the right-of-way cleared, the plants that grow there in the drainage of the pine forest, needing lots of sunshine, would not flourish. So, thank you GA Power. Even though living in a house built beneath high tension lines will make your pets have tragically deformed babies, the power company is diligently creating the perfect environment for pitcher plant habitat.

have you been missing millipede news???

Probably not. It's certainly not due to the fact that they are no longer trying to take up residence in my pantry. But not actually swarming like they were for a while, as the most frequent census will attest. I only swept up about two dozen this morning.

But there are probably a couple of dozen, now considered amongst the dearly departed, curled up in little concentric circles all over the house. I pick them up every time I walk through a room, or down the hall, or go in the bathroom. I can certainly be thankful they are no longer wiggling themselves around all over the floor - but would prefer they remove entirely, return to the environment from whence they came.

"it takes a good storyteller..."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
A quote by a guy I have been reading. Just randomly came across a 'talking book' in the library several weeks ago, and was so entranced by his style, I wanted to read everything he has published. He has a number of books in print, and has a beautiful lyrical way with words.

Even if I didn't know from reading the back cover, it is obvious the man loves Montana. A place I know practically nothing about, except what I have gleaned from his writings. But reading the fiction as well as one that is autobiographical, of his early years of growing up in the west, makes me know I have missed seeing some beautiful country.

The quote by Ivan Doig: "...it takes a good storyteller to turn ears into eyes". Just a passing line in one of the books I have recently consumed. But so true.

I recommend 'The Whistling Season', a sweet story of a widower raising three boys in the early part of the twentieth century, struggling to hold a family together. (The one I read while driving all over GA was 'Work Song', which inspired me to want to read others.) His characters are so well developed, and clearly described, you do see them with your ears. And don't want the story to end, though you are so immersed and intrigued, waiting, you can stay up much too late, just to assure yourself that things do work out. Plus: I'm seeing some of the characters move from story to story, book to book and feel, as soon as I find their names in the new book, I already know them as old, familiar friends from the others already read.

supporting our troops....

Tuesday, July 9, 2013
I've been writing to a LT in Afghanistan for several months. She is supposed to be returning to the states later in July.  I'd sent the LT a couple of packages, and notes weekly (including the Sunday comics from the local paper), but quit when her dad told me not to send anything more.

Recently, I was trudging through old emails recently, deleting by the dozens, and found that address of the person in Savannah who started 'Support our Troops', aimed primarily at the Army folk being deployed from Ft. Stewart. It is a program where those being deployed can request letters/cards and surprises in the mail. Being the wordy person that I am, I thought I should look for another letter recipient. I wrote to ask if there might be someone in desperate need of correspondence. She sent me the name of a sargent stationed at a FOB in Afghanistan.

I could not get to the 'just-a-buck' fast enough to get some of the things he and his team had requested to put in the mail. Along with the Sunday comics. Amazing at the common, everyday ordinary things we just use and trash, stuff we never think about not having... plastic zipper bags, for instance. Remember back when they were such a novelty, you felt compelled to wash, dry and re-use? Now we just toss (or recycle) without a thought of scarcity. I think I included some gum, hard candy, packets to add to water bottles for flavor.

I will take the list of things they requested to my Wed. night community group and ask them to do a little ministry project - hoping they will all pitch in, especially if I am willing to do the packaging, and posting and paying. Even if you can't agree with what is going on over there, want to rant about the President, get ill when you think of the ineffectiveness of politicians/Congress - how can you not want to let them know that we are so so so very thankful for their willingness to go and do the hot, miserable dirty work, putting themselves in harms' way?

Are you thankful for the Constitution and living in America? Me too! Do you want his address so you can write him a note to tell him so?

the story of the music video....

Saturday, July 6, 2013
Weeks ago, I received a forwarded email. It was originally sent to the volunteer coordinator at the National Infantry Museum. Designed to be passed along, it was a request for locals to come and participate in the filming of a music video that would be using the NIM as background.What the singer/songwriter was hoping for: that people who had family members, friends, loved ones who were/are service members would come, with photos of those veterans. He would include the faces of the attendees, along with the photos of the veterans in the video, partially filmed at the NIM, and release the completed video July 4.

I told friend PC about it, as she served in the Army, and I thought she had family members who were veterans. She had a photo of her dad, and one of herself as well, from her service time years ago. I took a photo of my dad, taken when he was in the Army, and I was not yet a gleam in his eye. (And thought about taking a line drawing of my dad's great grandad who was a sniper for the Confederate States of America, but did not want to rile anyone and have to re-fight that war!) We took our little framed photos, and drove down to the NIM one afternoon a couple of weeks ago, prepared to become famous. As we should have expected, the guys doing the video were not especially organized, and seemed to be doing the whole thing by the seat of their collective pants.

It started to rain, so they quickly pulled 'plan B' out of thin air. There must have been at least 75 people who showed up: couples, children, whole families of adult children, with siblings and kids, elders - a whole bus load of gray hairs from a retirement center, with their framed loved ones, ready to display. We were to line the walkway leading up to the rotunda, on both sides of the wide sidewalk, up to the larger-than-life Iron Mike sculpture mounted on a fifteen foot high marble pedestal. It started raining, so we adjourned inside. Making a path leading up towards where the singer of the song would stand at the entrance to the 'Last Hundred Yards' exhibit in the lobby of the museum.

The guy with the camera, mounted on what looked like an auto. steering wheel,  did several takes and it was over. He had someone push him down our 'alley' way of friends and relatives in a wheel chair, to make the video smoothly proceed toward the singer, Tim Maggert, who did not actually sing, but maybe mouthed the words as he was strumming.

I assume the song has something to do with service, patriotism, Army life. The singer is a former Army medic, who now lives in the area and works for a home health service. He wrote and performs the song - but I have no more info. about the music. My friend PC went to see the screening, that was scheduled to premier on Independence Day at the NIM, reported we are only noticeable if you know when/where to look, and you have to 'look fast'.

traveling from MS...part 4

Friday, July 5, 2013
Everyone is back into their proper little slots. We got home early afternoon. I have washed,dried and folded. Travelers are returned to their right places, own little spaces. All is well. Remember being a kid and thinking: If it is raining, right here, right now, in this little square I am currently occupying - it must be raining Every Where, all over the world, on every other head? (or maybe you were lacking in so much coherent conscious thought - but generally...). It has rained a Lot. To the point that we might be incrementally headed towards that place in science fiction where it Always Rained.... yijkes!

I have to work Saturday and Sunday. Pretty unusual, the Sat. work. But I did it last week as well, when there was a big wedding to be delivered downtown. My co-worker, who can get really anxious trying to do a jam-up job, and wanting assurance that the always spectacular results will be pleasing to the customer- was pretty stressed about the whole thing.

But as usual - pretty much out-did his-outstanding-self  with really amazing work. And when one of the participants - the guy who, when asked, 'who gives this woman', said 'her mother and I' - came by the store with compliments for MF, I told him he was preaching to the choir. Being the person who probably knows better than anyone what a smart, talented, remarkable person my co-worker is, I still never cease to be amazed at some of the creative, imaginative things he does. If I was a TV'er, I'd have him auditioning for some reality show where every one is trying to out-do the other artists with amazing work. And I know he would be The Best.

traveling to MS...part 3

hmmmm.... now it's Thursday: Happy Independence Day!

On Tuesday night, I made them take me to the nearest ON store. So we went to the outlet mall on the far side of Biloxi to look for a flag shirt from Old Navy - and just as you might think: had waited too close to July 4, when everyone in the US would (hopefully) be wearing their patriotic colors. The salesperson said I should come back on Thursday, when I assume there would be an emergency delivery of shirts printed with Old Glory, ON wording and the year. I didn't get there, so had to wear the one with 2000 on it instead. But I did look appropriately dressed all day.

We put off going to a local museum, featuring the 'Mad Potter of Biloxi', (an authentic 'character' in the Samuel Clemens sense of the word) so long that we missed our chance. There were lots of places not open for business. Apparently with employees deciding that Independence Day was a legitimate reason for taking the day off work, assumedly celebrating their independence from various bosses.

We had plans (promulgated by the guy who was our official decision maker for this escapade) to go out on a boat - a schooner - to watch fireworks on the water. This occasioned a meal by the pool, consisting of huge hamburgers, potato salad and baked beans. As  most of us had eaten cheese-burgers for lunch, there was little appreciation or appetite for another round of moo-meat.

We were rounded up at 7:00, directed towards the boarding area, and got on the boat with about forty other people who were almost exclusively card-carrying AARP members. Alcohol being freely poured, you can imagine what the crowd was like, as they discovered their good fortune of being on board with all the scotch, rum and GreyGoose they could consume. Motoring out under the bridge, and into the bay, the 'deck hands' (all both of them) raised the sails and we experienced Wind Power for a mile or so, before it was time to reverse direction, when the sails were taken down. Cautioned about getting knocked senseless (to say nothing of overboard) by sails when we might unexpectedly change direction, we were soberly careful.

So we are slowly motoring back into the area for best viewing, noticing dozens, if not hundreds of other watercraft in close proximity. All of which would be seeking safe harbor and return of occupants to dry land after the show, and In The Dark. There are also hundreds and hundreds of people on the sandy beaches - picnic-ing,playing, swimming, playing, grilling, sitting in the sand, partying, playing, consuming vast quantities of (adult) beverages, yelling at the kids, etc.

There is a 'barrier island' for lack of a better word, more like a narrow spit of sand, well established enough to have vegetation, but not  much more than sea oats, some scrubby cedars and undernourished volunteer pine trees. With literally dozens of boats, every size from shrimp trawlers to jet skis, parked in the shallow water, waiting for dark and the fireworks. Some folks sitting and/or picnicking on the island sand, others just sitting around in boats or inflatable floats. As it gets dark, there are fireworks going off Everywhere. On the beach, in a completely random manner. On the island. Apparently in some of the boats by people who were either seriously inebriated or certifiably crazy.

And eventually on the two barges that contained what we assume was the official, sactioned fireworks guys/display. A pretty nice show: until it started raining. Really hard, on fifty people crowded on a boat designed for occupancy of about six. I am sure we will look back on this and laugh heartily. I'm already pretty close to being able to say 'that was fun'. And as soon as I get all the wash done, and things get completely dried out from that unexpected salt water soaking, I plan to be amused.

traveling to MS... part 2

In addition to being profoundly tedious, traveling on the interstate highway is crazy-inducing. Especially sitting in the back seat, never having a good view of what's down the road. And not even looking at the back of a head - but only the back of the head-rest of the front-seat passengers... so though I have made vast amounts of jest, created much humor poked at people who entertain small fry with videos when on the road. I am now admitting: Yes. I do understand. And Yes. I do see the value of distracting seat kickers as long as humanly possible.

And Yes. I am now reminded I regularly fail to properly count my blessings. The one that currently comes to mind is the ability to read. I am so thankful for all those elementary teachers who drilled me with colors and numbers and ABC's, preparing me for the world of literacy. If I could not have worked my way through two library books while in the back seat for ten-plus hours this week, I would really be nuts.

And in addition to being profoundly tedious, road trips generally include activating a latent desire to eat stuff that is normally not considered part of any of the major food groups if not completely forbidden. So as soon as we got the card-player settled at the Blackjack table, we made a bee-line for 'wallyworld' to stock up on things that have no nutritional value what-so-ever. So in addition to enjoying two hardback books from our public library, I also have to confess that I enjoyed a whole box of Cheezits, practically single-handedly. I anticipate my digestive system will be confounded for several days hence in the process of recovery.

I thought I would get up on Wednesday morning, sneak out and leave the snoozers snoozing, and go for a walk - but it was raining. So I had to confine my exercise to the parking deck. Not much interesting to observe there - other than an assortment of car license plates from neighboring states. It had rained so much overnight, that the places where the concrete abuts, but not actually joined to allow for expansion, dripped onto lower floors, so it was sort of a hopscotch experience, skipping around puddles and avoiding showers.

When my traveling companions arose, we went to the 'fitness center' and I did more walking - on a treadmill: going Nowhere. Even less entertaining than walking up and down, around and around in the parking deck.

After showers, and grand plans for a trip to the Tato-nut store (think doughnuts made with potato flour) we ended up at lame-o Burger King. The Tato-nut crew was celebrating their independence by doing what lots of independent business owners do: closing for the week. Roaming the streets of Ocean Springs, MS, doing some wandering in and out of local businesses, and a bit of reminiscing. Enjoying a tour of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA), with a docent who admitted to growing up in: Hahira, GA. (She did not claim any knowledge of, or kinship to, people who might be participants in a Shriner's parade... but she did not deny either!)

A little (very little) time spent by the pool at the Palace Casino and Resort. A fruity drink with a little paper umbrella - the best kind! A quick dip in the pool, and a complete loss of interest in baking in the sun. Some of us, those with poor aim, had oddly shaped sun-burned places, due to sun-screen mishaps. Always amusing to people who are not afflicted with sunburns. A show of true devotion in the act of peeling a plate full of boiled shrimp that I do not eat, or even much care to look at, to say nothing of handle.

travelling to MS...part 1

I've been across Alabama, on the diagonal. Not as bad as end to end the long way, but also not as painless as driving east to west.  Left from Georgia's West Coast early Tuesday afternoon, to drive to the narrow little bit of land that is the Mississippi coast.  Probably not any greater, area-wise, than the spit of land around Mobile bay, that is the Alabama coast, squeezed between Florida panhandle and MS.

I have been told any number of times that it is a five-hour drive, but as you know, stopping for drinks entails stopping to deposit the result of consuming forty-eight ounce Big Gulps, causing even a short jaunt to drag on for interminable hours. What is it about driving/traveling, the boredom of back-seat riding that makes for a major case of the munchies? Which of course, requires liquid refreshment, which requires another pit stop. So leaving shortly after noon, put us there just in time to eat - without factoring in crossing into a different time zone. We did not notify our stomachs or appetites of time change, so were ready for food despite  doing nothing but sitting for five hours.... Yet all the cell phones somehow mysteriously, freakishly knew that we had crossed over, and changed to account for 'traveling through time and space'....

Things look pretty much the same as they did a year ago in Biloxi. Some places have bounced back remarkably from Hurricane Katrina's wrath, and some never will. It is always somehow sort of surprising, making you look again, blink, consider to see the blocks and blocks of cleared land, old hundred-year-old oak trees, still standing, grass neatly mowed. An occasional paved driveway, a random set of steps leading to: nothing. The neatly mounted mailbox, with no home for an actual address for the USPS to make a delivery. The few homeowners who have returned to the neighborhood mostly have long rectangular boxes mounted on tall pilings, made of concrete blocks/poured concrete, or utility poles, about twenty feet above the earth where their families once lived.

 A few families must have had the resources, or just maybe the gumption, determination to Not be Run Off. So devoted themselves to renovating, gutting structures, rebuilding, certain they were willing to invest what was required to return to a former life-style in the same house and neighborhood where they had been. But mostly the area between the beach and the back bay is cleared, lot after lot, block after block, acre after acre of open space, with the big sturdy moss-draped oaks still standing, patiently waiting for the next storm.


Maybe it is getting better - maybe they are not plotting to take control, maybe this is not something from a recent movie release about communist invaders smuggling techies into the White House to hold the staff hostage...

There were only about two dozen when I started sweeping - and that includes the accumulation of the past three days. But does not take into consideration the ones that might have mutated and are standing silently at attention behind closet doors, readying themselves for decimating the humans as they ,in blissful unawareness, peacefully sleep in their beds. Could be that people who are constantly having the thought of 'what else can I do to prepare for the zombie invasion' are having too much influence in my life???

'guilty as charged' - but now it's pretty amusing...

Monday, July 1, 2013
When my kids were little and would, given the option, make remarkably bad choices in their food consumption, like any self-respecting mom, I tried to smuggle in nutrition where- and when-ever possible. To the (now laughable) extent of putting carrots in all kinds of things that you (and they) would not have suspected of being 'seeded' with healthy vegetables. Things like meatloaf and chili, where it would be fairly easy to disguise items of nutritional value. Like carrots, that are really pretty tasteless when included with more flavorful things, and easily camoflauged when added to meat or tomato-y dishes.

So naturally, when perusing a magazine in some random medical office years ago, a recipe like Carrot Brownies would capture my attention. I requested a copy from the receptionist (rather than the usual surreptitious rrrriiiippping sound) and have made it a number of times over the years. I think it's pretty good, and sneakily, with two cups of grated carrots - mostly, sorta, kinda good for you too.

The batch I just stirred up is in two small square layer cake pans instead of 9 x13, as I have somehow mis-put my larger pan. I guess took it someplace with something good in it, and the pan wandered off. Sad, since it was insulated, with a plastic cover - now gone with the wind...

Brownie Carrot Cake

1 (19 oz box) fudge brownie mix
4 large eggs
2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups mayonniase
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts
Combine eggs and sugar, beat well, add mayo. then flavorings. Stir in brownie mix, blend well. Add carrots and nuts. Pour into oiled 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees about 50 min., test with pick for doneness. Cool completely, Dust with confectioners sugar. Cut into squares.

If you want to turn this into a controlled substance, you will want to make a wonderful topping to spread on after the brownies are cooled...

Coffee flavored icing

Combine 1 T. instant coffee granules, and 1 T. vanilla with 2 T. water, set aside. Heat 3 T. butter and 3 T. brown sugar over low heat, until the butter melts. Stirring, cook for two min. Remove from heat, stir in 1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar (more if it seems a bit thin.) Spread over cool brownies, or just eat from the pot, with a spoon....but: Don't call me when you get sick.

Millipedes.... arrrggghhhh....

In the vicinity of twenty or so new invaders. Not so bad, by comparison. I am prone to want to say that 'everything is relative'. And can clearly remember a 'Choppyism' along the lines of 'comparisons being odious', which I assume meant that she was of the opinion that the idea of comparing something to something else had the aroma of a run-over skunk?

The population count this morning was only at about two dozen, though I am still seeing an occasional wanderer, that causes me to stop and put down a piece of paper for them to create their own means of disposal. They will so obliviously speed on across the tiles, and onto the paper/card, with never a thought or care for where they might be headed. This means to me: that they are either impulsive little creatures, ready to live the life of a dare-devil,  or don't have two brain cells to rub together, as they go, without hesitation to their doom in the swirling waters of oblivion.