Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just Beans to Me

We inadvertently planted successive crops of green beans this year. Which means we finished planting the sharecroppers garden and were tired, so this section in our yard got planted rather late. It worked out great tho, the first plot stopped producing just as these were ready to be picked. More fresh green beans!

These are Maxibel Haricots Verts (pronounced a-ree-koh-ver).
They are a French bean that get very long (6-8 inches) and stay skinny.

And.... we still have pole beans just starting to flower :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Darn! I hate that I forget to take 'before' shots of this kind of stuff. We've been clearing out our side yard (and by 'we' I mean Steven :) of accumulated junk so that we can plant fruit trees in that area. Over the years any time we had stuff we couldn't find a place for it ended up atop a growing pile of debris in the unused square footage next to our house. This year seemed as good a time as any to start hauling it away; there comes a point when you just have to realize you're not going to use that old bicycle wheel or the rusted teeter-totter (we reached that point about a year ago but just kept putting it off).

This cupboard was one of the few salvagable things we found. I had some paint left over from our panty (we like bright colors) and it now sits outside the back door above the freezer. It's not a huge amount of storage but what the heck, I like the orange!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Good Answer!

Recently I was reading a blog where someone had posted a fairly snotty comment, then tried to justify it by saying the comment section was a 'common area' and therefore should be open to any kind of comment.

This was the blog owners response ---------

Because I am the only one who can decide what to do with comments and how to moderate them, and because I'm the only one who can change the settings to allow/disallow certain kinds of commenting, and because I'm the only one who can write or alter the content here, this makes this area more like my living room, where I've invited people to stay and chat. If they're nasty, I can kick them out of my house.

Hear, hear!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


When it's 100 degrees outside, there are at least a few spots in our yard that offer solice, a bit of refreshment...
...and even a tiny bit of shade:)

Friday, July 24, 2009

(Even more) Embarrassed to be a Californian

And they're allowed to vote... and drive cars :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mystery Plant

At least it was until my neighbor spoiled it by identifying it ;)
I knew it was some sort of melon, but since I didn't plant it here between our parkway peanuts, I wasn't sure what kind. He says it's definitely a cantelope,
probably from seed thrown into the compost pile.

Kind of sad that it's MUCH more healthy than the ones I planted from purchased seed. Maybe the bit of shade it gets here in the afternoon during the past week of OVER 100 degree days actually helps!
(have I whined enuf lately about the weather?)

And speaking of peanuts....they are still alive and healthy (and flowering!)....Yippee Yahoo!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quote for the day

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dear Sam

Because he said it better than I ever could,
take a look at Steven's blog post about Sam and letter writing.
Very nice dear :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

And it's True

thanks to Susan for sending me to the graph site.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Just plain Miserable

And it's supposed to continue for at least 10 more days (eek!)....

....but at least it cools down at night :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kids do the Darndest things

Ever had one of those moments in life where you become convinced that there will be a 20/20 interview in your future? Those times when you are certain that something has gone horribly wrong in your child's life, your parenting has been completely for naught, the universe is spinning off it's axis......but I digress.

When Sam was around 5 yrs. old he and older brother Brad and some friends went down the street to play baseball at the elementary school. I was in a neighbors front yard chatting and could sort of* see the group of them.

*if I squinted and craned my neck, I could see life forms playing on green stuff.

After awhile Sam ran by us (yelled that he had to "get something") and on into the house. A few minutes later he came out and started back towards the playing field. As he walked past us, I noticed a rather large bump on his back under his clothes and casually asked him about it. At first he replied that it was nothing but when pressed he pulled out....AN AXE (eek). When I asked him why (IN THE WORLD) was he taking an axe (AN AXE) down to the school....he said that there were some "mean boys" bothering them. My mind is a blur as to whether he said anything beyond the mean boys bothering them, as in what he intended to do with the AXE he was carrying....threaten? ...wave it around?.....cut off appendages?

I calmly/embarrassingly told Sam to put the axe back in the tool shed and went down the street and brought the boys home to play in our yard....and mentally prepared for future interviews ("he was such a nice boy"...."I drank during my pregnancy"....."he's adopted")

I will end this tale with assurances to mothers everywhere the news that Sam has reached the age of 20 with no police record, is amazingly kind to animals, and tho his chosen career now involves carrying a rifle he is at least wielding it in defense of his country.

The moral of the story is.....God SO has a sense of humor
(and if you have children in your house, hide anything that can be used as a weapon).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Update on Army Sam - He has written 19 (I counted) letters to us (bored or homesick?) and has requested that we write back in almost every single one. We now go to the mailbox in anticipation of another letter and are disappointed when we come back empty-handed. He is doing well in training (as expected:) hates the humidity in Georgia but is having no problem with the heat unlike some of his comrades from Minnesota (being raised in the valley finally has it's advantages). He thoroughly enjoyed the rope course and the rappelling, not so much the forced marches in pouring rain. He says the Drill Sergeants seem to be easing up a bit tho they do still get 'smoked' (physical punishment for someone in the platoon screwing up). He complains about being hungry most of the time (not used to only getting to eat 3x a day) but that the food is good. A week ago they even got dessert (cake) for a few days until several guys started eating it before their dinner...then they got it taken away (which Sam says was fine with him because, "cake is unhealthy").

We miss him immensely and can't wait to see him in Sept.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


"Grace is the face that love wears when it meets imperfection."
— Joseph R. Cooke

There is a reason I wasn't on the debate team. There is a reason I was hired to write the football stories for the newspaper. I am a much better writer than I am a... well, talker. In most situations, I need time to get my thoughts together and prepare a proper response to avoid sounding like a blithering idiot. Unfortunately, in the real world, that is rarely feasable. So there comes that moment when it is necessary to speak up; when wrong is so loud that it must be countered with right however goofy the words may come out.
Last Sunday night was such a moment.

Our church is going thru what can only be euphemistically called a rough patch. Some in our small congregation have voiced their concerns over our pastor's leadership ability and organizational skills. Where this fits in the biblical scheme of things I am still trying to understand. Valid concerns, maybe. Reason to take a man's job away from him and displace his family, oh heck no!

Sunday night we voted on a proposal to allow this man the time he needed (6 months) to show the congregation his commitment to become a better pastor. He humbly thanked people for bringing these issues to his attention, he apologized for not being the leader he should be, and he presented a plan of action to address his flaws. Many of us spoke on his behalf, most more eloquently than I ever could. We asked for patience. We asked for grace. Some spoke of the feeling of 'coming home' when they first entered our church. Some reminded the detractors that ultimately one's salvation and continued growth in the Lord was dependent not on a good rousing sermon, but on one's own heart and desire to do God's will.

After all was said and done the vote favored giving this man a chance to fix the issues he felt he was weak in....whew. But now what? Can the church recover? How comfortable will it be for those who didn't get their way to sit in church week after week waiting for the changes to materialize? And will our comments in the meeting continue to echo in each other's minds? Will our adverserial stances tend to divide us into supporters and detractors? Will the detractors even stick around? I guess only time will tell.

For me personally, this was my very own wake-up call. I have not attended church regularly in years. I have not attended church regularly since one of my best friends lost 2 children in less than a year in seperate car accidents, and another's son committed suicide. My inability to reconcile a loving God with grieving parents has often left me unable to find meaning in God's purpose. I struggle to find joy in the word and sometimes am completely incapable of 'singing to the Lord' with any kind of sincerity. My saving grace was that I too felt that going to this particular church was like coming home.
As hard as it is to get into the pew on a Sunday morning, it is always worth it. And it gets easier every time I go. It's not a perfect church but I'm not a perfect church-member, so it is a perfect fit.

My hope and prayer is that the thru adversity we grow stronger as a church and as a congregation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green

In the past few years we've all been inundated with various articles extolling the virtues of 'going green' and many of the ideas espoused in said articles are valuable, though I think the change to CF bulbs mantra has been done to death. This week in our local newspaper was yet another article on how easy it is to 'Live Green'.

My concern is that the articles I've been reading recently all seem to start with the disclaimer about how we "don't have to change our lifestyle" to be Green. .....Really? Because I think we absolutely better start changing our lifestyles; it's our lifestyles that have gotten us into the mess we're in today. Toxic chemicals in our foods, peak oil just around the corner, cancer-causing pollution...the list of how our consumer-driven society has depleted the limited resources of this God-given planet goes on and on. And each and every one of us either contributes to the problem or to the solution with the choices we make on a daily basis, the biggest one being what we choose to put in our shopping cart at the grocery store.

We no longer have a connection with our food supply, where it comes from, how it's grown, and ultimately if it even can be considered food at all. Food that doesn't spoil, is probably NOT food. We no longer have a concept of waiting for our fruits and veggies according to the season, produce is available year round. We can have watermelon in Feb. and asparagus in Dec. And most of us don't ask where in the world you can grow watermelons in Feb. because that is irrelevant (Mexico).

That same disconnect can be felt in our home when we turn our thermostats to a comfortable 75 degrees....cooling in the summer, heating in the winter. No connection to the seasons outside our window. I remember one year our heater had broken down and we spent the winter warming our house using the fireplace as our heating source (with the attendant bi-monthly firewood collecting treks so loved by our teenage sons :). Steven would get up in the morning, enter the chilly living room (where many times we could see our own breath) and light up the fire for his awakening family. It was not really a lot of fun. But it taught us something. When a friend remarked on what a mild winter we were having I nearly fell over. Mild? Had it been mild? Because in our house it surely felt anything other than mild. But for someone who's only fleeting acquaintance with the fluctuating temperature had been getting in and out of her car to go to work and come home....maybe it felt mild. In our house it felt like winter. And maybe that wasn't a bad thing.

Though we have since put in a new heater we tend to keep our house pretty chilly in the winter ("put on a sweater") and fairly warm in the summer ("jump in the pool"). We also have a whole-house fan to cool things off at night (tho temps here can stay above 80 even at night). Mostly, we live according to the weather forecast, gardening in the morning, fans in every room, proper clothing (ever wonder why in July you should have to take a sweater to the movie theatre???). We try to eat seasonally and locally as much as possible. In other words, we make concessions to our environment, we don't expect comfort 24/7.

Sometimes, being responsible stewards means sacrifice. A change in our lifestyle was warranted. Change is good, but sometimes it can be hard; we think it's worth it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thanks to Matron of Husbandry at Not Dabbling in Normal whose much more eloquent post inspired this rant ;)

disclaimer: our pool is a 3x12ft. soft-sided temporary one that allows us keep our A/C off. A quick dip in the evening also helps us get to sleep in the wonderfully warm (hot!) Central Valley.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Read this....twice!

From an Amish sermon...

I hope you have come with the right preparation. I know many of you have. If we are thankful for God's many gifts, we will be filled. Filled with the word of God, the bread of life.

If we are hungry in a natural sense, we don't need sugar coating on our bread. The bread alone will satisfy us. But most of us never have gone hungry for natural food. So we often want to dress it up and make it fancy.

If we have prepared room in our hearts, we will savor the taste of the Gospel. Like natural food when we are hungry, it will fill us with thankfulness. But if we haven't prepared, over time we will lose our taste and pursue vain amusements.

And when we come to trials, tribulations, and temptations, we will lose heart. These we can endure only by a willingness to suffer them. If we are hungry for food, we can also hunger for even these hardships, and discover Christ's meaning when he says, 'My cross is easy and my burden light.' If we avoid the cross, we follow two masters; we place a severe burden on ourselves. We are of two leanings.

Christ leads us only along the straight and narrow path. Some may try to take a detour and still hope to reach the same destination.

Found in Better Off by Eric Brende

Saturday, July 11, 2009

...tee hee :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Blueberry Fun

Steve and I headed south last weekend to a fairly local U-pick Blueberry farm near Springville. We love blueberries in pancakes, muffins and smoothies but on this day the plan was making syrup.

We definitely hit this at the end of the season because the berries were pretty sparse on the bushes and they took a bit longer to pick but after an hour or so we had gathered 7 pounds of fruit. And because of the inconvenience we got a cheaper price,
so it's all good :)

After lunch and a scenic drive home, the fun begins.

I've never made syrup, and the only recipe I could find had you draining the juice from the berries and throwing away the rest. I wanted ours with whole fruit in it, so I cooked the berries for a bit and then put some of them thru a fruit mill to get rid of about a third of the skin and make it more liquidy (is that a word?).

I also added pectin to thicken it a bit, I figure if it thickens it too much we'll just call it jam :)


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My New Hero

Sometimes your kids do something so amazing, so mature,
so 'un-kid' like that you actually feel in some small way
that you've succeeded as a parent,
and that feeling is definitely a rare one.
This would not include the time your sons tried to light the backyard on fire having first 'borrowed' matches from the neighbors, or tried to 'fly' off the garage roof using cardboard wings, or tried to take an ax to the schoolyard
to deal with the 'mean kids'.....sigh.

Our lovely 15yr. old daughter is by far a better person than I was at her age (and in some ways, better than I am today). I thank God for her strength, her intelligence and her compassion.

And I love her to the Moon and back :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

... to our very own Hometown Heroes.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

June Harvest Tally

Kind of cheating this month (and from now on) as this total includes both our garden and our shared garden...but hey, it's all stuff we are eating and not having to buy at the grocery store.

Total - 54 lbs.
Zucchini - 20 lbs.
Green Beans - 13 lbs.
Potatoes - 11 lbs.
Cucumbers - 7 lbs.
Peppers - 2 lbs.
Tomatoes - 1 lb.

We have loads of tomatoes on the plants.... if they would just start turning red!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Warning: Political Rant

By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred Senators, 435 Congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices -- 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party. What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes.

Who is the speaker of the House? Nancy Pelosi.
She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red ..

If the Army & Marines are in IRAQ, it's because they want them in IRAQ.

If they do not receive Social Security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power..

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

ps. thanks to my Uncle Al for sending this to me.