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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Joys of Gardening

Each year we plant several very large vegetable gardens, we have four going this year. Although it has been a challenging growing season as we are/were in a drought that has seen some relief in past few weeks the garden as survived. We are now moving into the busy time of harvesting and storing our garden bounty. It is so satisfying to be able to walk out to the garden and pick fresh items to prepare for supper, and when grandsons Henry and Patrick are along it is superbly enjoying as they have such a sense of wonder and adventure.
On Saturday evening the little boys walked out with me to feed the calves, on the way back we stopped off to check on the carrots, they appeared to be ready so I let the boys pull several out, they were so excited and amazed by the carrots. They each proudly carried a bundle of carrots to the house, Henry announced that the carrots smelled really good and he thinks that maybe he might like them now!  Patrick had already eaten a good part of one carrot, dirt and all, before we were in the house.  Henry was so proud of the first carrot he picked that he had to take it home with him, Patrick was more interested in eating the carrots.
The following day we had all of our family over for supper, the boys and I headed off to feed the calves and gather some items from the garden to go with dinner.  First stop the corn patch, oh what fun to run through the corn stalks, what fun to pull giant ears off of the plant. Next stop the tomatoes, early days yet, but could we find a nice ripe one, we could not. Okay off to the potato patch, Grandpa met us there with a shovel, we were going digging for gold, that is gold yukon potatoes, the absolute look of amazement on the children's faces as suddenly potatoes appeared, they were scrabbling in the dirt and the race was on to see how many potatoes they could put in the bucket.  We hauled our bounty over to the fire pit, shucked the corn, stopped by the chicken house so the boys could gather eggs and then headed to the house.
Dinner was great, we did a mixed grill, some chicken breasts, hamburgers, and italian sausage, we had boiled yukon gold potatoes, corn on the cob, salad, and fresh fruit salad, it was a wonderful summery meal made all the more enjoyable because we had produced some of the food ourselves.
I so enjoy keeping our gardens, they are a lot of work, but it is rewarding work.  Yesterday I spent several hours weeding, which sounds like a horrible chore, except I enjoy it.  I enjoy the solitude of garden, time alone with my own thoughts praying and talking with God, the sounds of birds, the whisper of leaves, the distant hum of a lawn mower, the joyful shouts of some children far off who sounded as if they might be swimming in a pond, and the satisfaction upon completing the chore that the gardens looked neat and tidy once more.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Couple of Movies You Might Enjoy

Do you use Netflix?

I recently watched two movies on Netflix and really enjoyed them, they are both available on the streaming service.

First movie,Heavens Above, (1963) starring Peter Sellers.
A thought provoking comedy! Peter Sellers is cast as the Reverend Smallwood, a gentle soul who truly strives to live the gospel life and it causes all kinds of problems for him. This is an English movie, black and white, and although almost fifty years old the attitudes portrayed in the movie are still prevalent today. The only downside to the movie is the ending, it is a bit lame. Here is a link to the review:

Second movie, Driftwood, (1947) starring Natalie Wood.
Another comedy, rather sweet, some funny dialogue. Natalie Wood plays a young orphan girl who has been raised in virtual isolation by her Great Gran Pappy, (we never hear what happened to her parents, or grandparents), a preacher.  The little girl knows the bible inside and out, when Great Gran Pappy dies she has to leave to go to Sodom and Gomorrah, which in reality is civilization. The little girl learns how to relate to others, and they learn from her. It is a nice movie and I would highly recommend it for a rainy afternoon when you don't have anything else to do.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

So, Did You See The Olympic Opening Ceremony - What Did You Think?

WOW - I felt a bit baffled by the whole thing!  Our neighbor came down to eat a supper with us and then with a glass of homemade blueberry wine in hand we retired to the living room to watch the Olympic XXX Opening Ceremony. We missed probably the first fifteen minutes, and we started to watch as thousands of performers dressed in very drab/dreary period costume looked miserable as they rolled up turf, smoke stacks emerged from the floor, and depressed looking women kept pulling on large handles attached to some sort of cog wheel.  In the meantime a strange looking woman with long flowing locks played music with a look of extreme concentration on her face. No one appeared to be having a very good time. There was so much going on at all times it just looked confusing and murky. We found a bit boring, then it looked like Sgt. Pepper's Army marched through the middle of things, and another large trail of women suffragettes were marching around all that was going on. One gentleman in a top hat and tails with a cigar in his mouth kept appearing on camera as he stood around with a dozen or so other men similarly attired, but who he was I not sure. All of this was performed on a created grassy hill with a large tree at the top, we started referring to it as the giant compost hill! Once we moved through the working mans point of view of history through the industrial revolution we moved on to the next segment of the ceremony; a strange, nonsensical tribute to the NHS ( National Health Service), this included hundreds of giant hospital beds with supposedly ill children leaping up and down as if on a trampoline, and nurses dressed in period costume dancing around, the children then all settled down to sleep and close up shots showed loving nurses reading stories to the little dears. Then out of no where monsters appeared, enormous puppet monsters lurching all around, and then an ginormous baby appeared in the middle of the arena, and we are talking ginormous, way bigger than a school bus! Can you say BIZARRE.

Now for the parts that I really enjoyed, and that truly made up for the absurd parts described above. There was a great parody of the movie Chariots of Fire with Mr. Bean, it was funny and well done. Mr. Bean would have stolen the show, except for an even better stunt. A short film started to play starting off at Buckingham Palace, James Bond arrives to pick up the Queen, we get to see a few of her Corgi's running around (they kind of stole the moment they were so cute).  James Bond and the Queen fly off in the royal helicopter, we are treated to some magnificent aerial views of London, and then they are hovering over the Olympic Arena.  The classic James Bond music is booming away and suddenly it appears that the dear Queen is parachuting into the arena, we LOVED IT!!, and it appeared everyone there LOVED IT. The next shot was of the Queen with slightly windblown hair arriving with Prince Philip to sit in the royal box! I also really enjoyed all of the Mary Poppinses floating down over the hospital beds it was quite a vision to behold.
This was followed by a montage of British pop culture, it was enjoyable, clips of favorite pop music were played along with a montage video, included in the music, Queen, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, and many more, a little later a portion of Sweet Dreams by Annie Lennox, then a tribute to 80's rap music, (thankfully this was short and sweet).

After all of this came the parade of athletes from all over the world, they moved at a fast pace and were accompanied with continual drumming by hundreds of drummers lining the track. At this point the giant compost hill came into it's own, as each team ended their walk they planted their flag into the hill, by the end of the parade the hill was covered in flags from countries all over the world and it was a fantastic way to display them all. Once all the athletes were gathered in the center of the arena we were treated to Sir. Paul McCartney at the piano playing/singing Hey Jude. It was great, there were many shots of the athletes standing arm in arm swaying to the music and singing along, and Sir. Paul really seemed to be enjoying himself, it was a wonderful, warm, fuzzy, way to end the parade of athletes.

The lighting of the Olympic torches was spectacular as 200 lit torches all soared upwards to form the cauldron, it was an amazing spectacle.  Then came the fireworks, they were breathtakingly wonderful, truly a feat of design and implementation, AWESOME, AMAZING, and HUGELY ENJOYABLE.

So did I like the ceremonies or hate them? Overall I really enjoyed the show,  some of it was weird, even a tad incomprehensible, but for the most part it was a lot of fun and did not take itself too seriously, and I think it will be one of the most memorable openings for many years to come.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Not Much Going On

July has been a relatively quite month. The last few weeks have brought rain, a lot of it, so our drought is somewhat relieved here in NE Indiana, in fact at noon today our county will lift the burn ban!  Emily is very happy that the burn ban will be lifted as we are celebrating her high school graduation on the evening of August 4 with a cookout and she really wants to have a bonfire and now she can!
Our garden has received the rain with relief, the plants look so much happier now they have warm, damp soil to grow in. The drought has taken its toll, our potato yield is minimal, we had peas but not many, our cabbages are very small as are our onions. We have eaten our first tomato, yummy, I cut it up and mixed it with egg salad it was delicious. We are enjoying cucumbers and corn on the cob from the garden. This weekend I will bring in all the corn from our first patch and get it blanched and put in the freezer. The beets are ready to come in, I like to pickle them, they are so good as an accompaniment to so many meals.  I planted carrots this year, they have grown and seem to be of a decent size, I am going to pull them this weekend, I will keep some fresh and may look at canning some, depends on how many I have. I love carrots, my favorite way to eat a carrot, RAW!  We have some cantaloupes on, a couple of watermelons growing and a few pumpkins.  The green peppers are on but small, probably because of the drought, and the green beans are running behind schedule, the plants look good, have many blossoms but no beans yet, usually I am finishing up canning green beans by now so I assume the drought stunted them?? The tomato plants look good, we did water them a lot, they are bushy and full of fruit, we will wade through them this weekend and pick all of the ripe ones.
Emily will be going to MEPS on August 6, this is the physical examination and the first real step to joining the military, she is planning to go into the Air Force, so if goes well on Aug 6/7 she will soon after find out when she will be leaving for basic training, she is very excited about her future as she should be.  Since our oldest son Matt already did the Air Force, served and has been out for a year now, we know the ropes and Emily has taken a lot of advice from Matt.  I imagine we will be taking another trip to San Antonio towards the end of the year for another basic training graduation!
Ben and some friends have rented student accommodations in Muncie, Indiana, they will be going to college, working part time, please pray that he finds a job in Muncie soon.  August 13 is the date they can begin living in their new home, we are gathering basic household items together so they can fend for themselves.
It would appear that by the end of the year Dave and I will be empty-nesters and so begins a new phase of our life :)

Oh, and be sure to check out Emily's blog, How the Cookie Crumbles,, I have a link to it in my blog list too.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

June Happenings and Wise Words To Live By and a Recipe

Wow can you believe that June is over and we already a week into July?  We had a busy June, Emily turned 19 on the 6/14, and Amber was 26 on the 6/26.  We had a family reunion in mid June with Dave's, mother's side of the family, and last Saturday we had a family/friends party at our house.
Indiana is in a drought, our part of the state is now classified as  "extreme drought".  We did get a little rain on June 30, but not in a way that we wanted, the storm blew in with 90 mile an hour winds and did a huge amount of damage throughout our county and left 118,000 customers without electricity.  Amber was over at our house visiting with our three grandsons, and Dave was at home. We sat in the family room and watched the storm clouds roll in, the sky got darker and darker and almost had a greenish color to it, and then an extremely strong wind hit the house, we all leaped up, grabbed a child and rushed to the basement, we were no sooner down the stairs when the power went out.  As our basement is a walkout we were able to watch the storm, the neighbors wooden swing set toppled, a bale of straw picked up and blew across their yard, branches ripped out of the tree by our barn, the rain came down horizontally and thunder and lightning were non-stop.  Once the weather calmed down a bit I went upstairs to look out out front of our property, I was saddened to see that one of our huge pine trees at the end of the driveway had snapped in half.  We were very thankful that our house was not damaged and we were all okay.
Once the storm rolled through the temperatures started to heat up, and for the past week we have had highs in the very upper nineties and low hundreds, it is extremely hot.  We were without power for about 78 hours,   we were hooked up early, there are still about 800 people without power and they are now in their eighth day.  Most people were without power for five days.  On Thursday evening another violent storm rolled through and knocked out power to almost 30,000 customers, the linemen have really had their work cut out for them.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we celebrated two birthdays this month. Emily turned 19, she wanted chocolate chip cheesecake for her birthday cake and hamburgers, asparagus, and hollandaise sauce for dinner.  Amber turned 26, she wanted strawberry cake and mexican food.  We had a fun time celebrating both birthdays.  On June 30 we had a big family/friends party at our house, our son Matt, and son-in-love Brad grilled chicken for everyone, they did an awesome job as everyone raved about the chicken.  I fixed 10lbs of potato salad, baked beans, veggies and dip, layer salad, coleslaw, creamy cucumber salad, a large pan of banana pudding, a yellow cake with chocolate frosting and monster cookies, we had plenty to eat and not a whole lot left over so we guesstimated about right.  We did not have power, thankfully I had baked the cake and cookies before the power went off.  I was able to prepare the rest of the food and am always glad for my gas stove when the power goes out.  Without power we have no running water, so we had to buy water for cooking and drinking, and haul large buckets of water from our son Matt's house. Thankfully we have a generator so we were able to keep our freezers and refrigerator running along with a couple of other things, everyone was understanding of the situation and enjoyed the party.
On July 4 the temperature was around 100, no one wanted to go outside. Dave slow cooked short ribs on the grill, they were mighty fine and took 3 hours to cook to perfection and about 10 minutes to consume :).  Because of the drought there is a burn ban in place and a firework ban, Fort Wayne had their annual display but most communities opted to not do a firework display this year.  Of course it would not be July 4th if someone didn't find the Nathans Hot Dog Eating Contest on TV, broadcast live from Coney Island.  I must say it is a most revolting event, in fact I was getting so grossed out I couldn't watch. The winner was Joey Chestnut who managed to consume and astounding 68 hotdogs in 10 minutes, YIKES!
Can you believe that our newest grandson Charlie will be six weeks old tomorrow. He has filled out so nicely and is such a well behaved, contented little fellow, he is starting to smile :)
Last week I was in a local Amish store picking up some sewing notions and I noticed a coloring book picture hanging on the wall behind the counter.  The picture was carefully colored and hung with pride and had an excellent message, "A Hard Job is Many Easy Jobs Left Undone", how true is that.  I think they are  words to live by, and as we know it usually does not pay to procrastinate.
Today I made bologna salad, something I make a few times a year, grandson Henry had fun turning the crank on the meat grinder and stuck with it to grind 2lbs of bologna.
Bologna Salad
2lbs of bologna (ground)
4 hard boiled eggs (chopped)
2 T pickle relish
Mayonnaise to combine

Grind the bologna, stir in the chopped boiled eggs and pickle relish, then add mayonnaise and stir until everything is blended.  Makes very nice sandwiches, store in the refrigerator.

Emily with the chocolate chip cheesecake

Amber with the strawberry cake

Branches down by the barn

Our poor pine tree

The top half of the tree lying in the road.

One of gardens, notice everything is leaning eastward after  the wind

Henry the master of the meat grinder.