tenacity

“Courage is not having the strength to go on;
it is going on when you don’t have the strength.”

Theodore Roosevelt

gwtwset4
(Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, wearing her mother’s curtains)

Think Scarlet O’Hara, Julia Sugarbaker and Steel Magnolias all rolled into one.
Who else would think to turn their mother’s prized curtains into
a matter of getting what they need…but a Southerner.

That’s because we in the South understand the significance of
desperate times requiring drastic measures…

For we are a resourceful lot when we need be,
especially during the thick of battle..
We are kudzu and honey all rolled into one..
Barbed wire and sugar spun together…

Because that’s just what we are down here in the South,
tenacious as a bulldog when needed,
soft as a cotton ball when called for….

We are also sweet and charming.
We are cordial.
We are warm.
We are hospitable.
We are not dumb, deplorable or rednecks…contrary to what some would have you believe.
We are educated.
Well educated.
We have great schools, colleges and universities.
People like our weather, well, maybe not in August…
I don’t like our weather in August, or even now, but I digress…

People like our food..think fired this or that, as in chicken and okra.
People like our drinks…think bourbon.
We are mannerly…for if we are not, our grandmothers are obviously not watching.
We believe in morality, decorum and being polite.

But none of that should never lead you to believe that we are
pushovers,
ignorant,
easy,
or lazy.

We are a strong kind people.

And I keep finding that I have to continually remind myself of such…

I have seen more of my poor father than any daughter should ever see of her father
and it is enough to last me a life time.
Bless him.
He can’t help it.
And sadly I can’t avoid it.

We got the water balloon dad unclogged today.
Mr nonchalant doctor was his typical rude, arrogant and non southern self during our visit…
He didn’t want to initially believe, let alone admit,
that there was any scar tissue from August’s surgery…
Well guess what…
there was.

No wonder poor dad was becoming a human water balloon,
a toxic human water balloon.
But mr nonchalant doctor assumed it was the tumor growing; the one we had opted not,
against his suggestion, to spend 8 weeks radiating on a daily basis.

“Has he looked at dad in that wheelchair of his” I wonder…

Quickly and without fanfare or even words, Mr nonchalant doctor performs a little procedure
then quickly leaves the room with us eventually leaving
with now a new sort of water balloon,
a catheter.
And thankfully free-flowing once again!!
No spreading cancer as dad was fearing…
just a little scar tissue fouling up the works…

Dad was having to get up literally 18 times a day and 9 times throughout the night living
like a human water balloon…filling up, but not flowing out.

The doctor walked out with nary a word….
No words of kindness, no words of encouragement,
no words of care nor words of what we might need to do…

Kind of like a wham bam thank you mam sort of moment.

Leaving me with the young nurse to attach everything…
getting everything in, on, up and poor dad back into his chair.

Where I come from a gentleman assesses the situation and lends a hand where
he sees the need.
We call that being a man…patient, kind, gallant and thoughtful.

When we finally walked out, me walking, dad rolling…
Mr nonchalant doctor was sitting at his computer in his office, directly across from us,
as we exited the exam room.

I was sincere and gracious in my thanks and gratitude for helping dad.
As I was always taught to offer thanks for a service rendered and I was genuinely
grateful that dad would now be functioning and flowing.
Plus there I was wheeling my cancer ridden, feeble, 88 year old father
who has just bared everything to everyone…did he not deserve a word?

There was a very long pause of silence before acknowledging that I had spoken…
without glancing from the computer came an “ah huh”…
and with that, dad and I were on our way.

At the elevator dad leans his head back in my direction as I push the button for down…
“he doesn’t have much personality does he?”
“I think he’s a jerk dad.”
“I just think he doesn’t have a beside manner” dad counters…

And that my friends is the response of a gentleman.

A man who just bore his feeble sickly body for violation and he merely chalks up
being ignored to a lack of personality.
Where I see a sorry SOB…

Had I not been wheeling dad, who was now hurting and asked for something for pain,
as mr nonchalant non caring doctor quips over his shoulder, “take some tylenol'”…
I think I would have marched in that office of his, slaping my hands down on his desk,
asking or rather telling him to do the polite thing by
looking me in the face when I’m speaking
and to acknowledge my father as an elder as well as a hurting human being….

Because that’s what we do here in the South, we acknowledge our fellow human beings as
what they are, fellow human beings….

And don’t forget, we also came up with iced tea…..
thank you very much…

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Luke 6:27-28

The April fool

A fool may be known by six things: anger without cause; speech without profit; change without progress; inquiry without object; putting trust in a stranger; and mistaking foes for friends.
Arabian Proverb

DSC00848
(cement putti riding a fish / Julie Cook / 2015)

Malevolence and betrayal walk the land this day, hand in hand, as Evil waits its due.
What was, now is and all that breathes hangs in a scaly hand.
The shape shifter stands in the shadows, biding his time
“Is it not yet the moment?” he hisses, as his giddiness is hard to contain.
“Crush the Light” tiny demons skip and sing with delight
“Hail oh darkness and death.”
Black clouds gather silently overhead as distant thunder rumbles.

Bets are made as the silver is counted.
The deed is nearly at hand.
This midweek day remains eerily calm,
Yet noted, it is claimed as the day of Fools,
With the biggest one waiting in the depths of darkness

He licks his lips in greedy anticipation.
The thought of finally winning is more than he can bare.
As the mole scampers about his blinding task
with words dripping from his mouth like honey,
Yet it is not bees that he gathers but the flies of death.

It is to this day that the earth hangs in the balance between Light and Dark
Events are coming that will change the outcome of all humankind.
Darkness falsely claims its gain and counts its fortunes far too soon
For this tale has been long foretold
Battles will wage
Powers will clash
The dead and the living must now decide.
Yet when the dust settles and the storm clouds pass,
The War will be long past
As a single April fool stands forever wondering how he lost. . .

The Twilight Zone or the life of a woman over 50

“This highway leads to the shadowy tip of reality: you’re on a through route to the land of the different, the bizarre, the unexplainable…Go as far as you like on this road. Its limits are only those of mind itself. Ladies and Gentlemen, you’re entering the wondrous dimension of imagination. . .Next stop The Twilight Zone.”
― Rod Serling

twilight_zone

Que the music. . .
As I was patiently sitting, on a hot and humid late August Sunday afternoon, in our local ER, I found my mind wandering in and out of what constitutes this so called life of mine. Isn’t that title already being used. . . “my so called life?”
I think I rather like the sound of that.

And not to fret, I’m fine.
My husband however. . .well, lets just say that his pants have seen better days. . .but I’ll get to that in a minute.

So now back to the ER and the theme music from the Twilight Zone which is now playing in our heads. . .

Back when I was preparing to retire, about two years ago, from what seemed to be a perpetual life of being stuck in High School mode, I thought there were two things I’d like to do with my life and time. Not so much bucket list material mind you, just a new hobby or two.

One thing that I thought I’d like to do was to raise bees. I love honey, and as I fancy myself as bit of a honey aficionado, it seemed to make perfect sense that I should have a hive or two—you know, to call my own, as in I could gather my own honey.

DSC00404
(image of just some of my kitchen’s honey collection)

Local honey as local as it can get, as in my back yard local. We’ve got plenty of clover, I’ve got a garden, I’ve got some random flowers placed around the yard. . .everything seemed to be in place except for the bees.

Yet the more I read about it, it all sounded rather complicated.
And there are so many bees.
Really lots and lots of bees.
Plus ever since I first heard about those africanized bees. . .you know, those hyper aggressive honey bee cousins that don’t exactly like people or anything else for that matter that isn’t another african evil bee?
I, in turn, developed a bit of a fear that those crazy bees could somehow invade the hives of my sweet honey bees, running them off, or sinisterly killing them off, then they’d all simply lie in wait for me to happen happily along, all ready to gather my honey, when BAM, they’d swarm me dead in one fell swoop.

Yeah, I’m rethinking that whole bee hobby. . .

My second thought was and remains chickens.
Layers mind you, as in for fresh eggs only.
I can handle, say, 3 to 5 chickens can’t I?
For Christmas, my sweet husband (remember his feelings are really hurt as to how I painted him in such a bad light the other day when on our anniversary last week he allowed me to be attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets—reason 2 as to why I’m not too keen of my own hives. . .digressing) had a coop built. The coop building man just finished everything Saturday.

DSCN6899

Now all that remains is for me to find “my girls”. . .

DSCN3752

These girls are my Dad’s neighbors in the city—if city folks can raise some girls, so can I, can’t I?

I’m thinking that my chicken adventures shall all be for another post another day.
Today we’re all about the Twilight Zone of being a woman over 50.

It is sadly true—when a woman reaches the magic number of 50 she enters the Twilight Zone—que the music again.
I have proof.. .

The other evening I prepared the best steak tacos ever. I grilled delightfully seasoned New York strip steaks, slicing thinly. I nestled the slices snugly into a warm small soft flour tortilla which was given a nice spread of Jalapeño Ranch and salsa, some wonderful Mexican cheese topped with my oh so tasty Jalapeño cole slaw. . .yummy!

My husband had actually gotten some of the deliciousness on his nice dress shirt so right after we finished eating I told him to go change, bring me the shirt, so I could quickly pre-treat the stain hoping the stain wouldn’t have time to set into the fabric.

As I was clearing the table he brought me the shirt. I left what I was doing to go pre-treat the stain, only to let the shirt sit a bit while I returned to do the dishes. Just as I was finishing up the dishes, I remembered the shirt. Knowing I didn’t want clorox to sit too long on a white shirt, as not to damage the fabric, I quickly headed to the laundry with the covered bowl of slaw in hand. As soon as I popped the shirt in the wash, I’d head to put the slaw in the fridge.

Fast forward to the following day.
As I made my way to do a load of laundry that next morning, what did I see sitting on top of the washing machine?
My bowl of slaw.
Exactly where I had left it the evening before as I had put it down to throw the shirt in the washing machine. And since it was now well past the acceptable 2 hours of sitting at room temp for mayonnaise, I had no choice but to throw out a seemingly perfect and delicious bowl of slaw.

The Twilight Zone. . .

Oh, you’re not convinced?
Ok, here’s more proof.

This has happened on more than one occasion.
As I’m in the process of getting dressed, fixing my hair, putting on make-up, donning earrings and watch, for some reason there is always an interruption—the phone rings, the cat throws up, I suddenly remember to go immediately to take my hormone pill, when in mid dressing I’m called away.
I do remember to go back to put my clothes on, but that seems to be where my memory ends.

How many times have I been some place when a person such as a sales person, student or friend notices that I seem to have lost an earring.
OH DEAR GOD THAT WAS MY GRANDMOTHER’S EARRING!!!!
I can be heard wailing throughout the store, classroom or wherever I may be at the time.
I go into panic mode.
I fret as to how I can tell my jeweler husband that I’ve lost a nice earring.
I fret that my Grandmother is shaking her head from the great beyond.

There is an all out search.
People are alerted.
Others are now on hands and knees.
I’m promised to be called if it is found.
I tear the car apart.
Dejected and sad I eventually end my day by heading to the shower, when low and behold, guess what’s sitting on the bathroom counter, just where I had left it earlier that morning. . .
BINGO, an earring.

Twilight Zone!

For you see, when a woman hits 50 all those hormones, which make bodies run smoothly, fall out of said woman. Hormones all gone equal hot flashes, no sleep, dry skin, thinning hair, ill temperament, a brain now operating in constant fog mode. . .

Have you ever thought you were asleep, say around 2 AM, when suddenly you’re wide awake and your brain is wired, like wide awake wired and ready to go? If only you felt this alert at say 2PM when it would actually help to be alert–but since you were wired and alert at 2AM until, say, your alarm is ready to go off, you feel like crap the rest of the day–all because the hormones that help you sleep with some semblance of normalcy have long fallen out of your body.

Which reminds me suddenly of where I am and of what I’m doing as it is now the magic time of 2PM on a Sunday afternoon and I am feeling rather sluggish. . .that is until I remember seeing all that blood which leaves me woozy again.
Seems my husband and his chainsaw did not see eye to eye on clearing out brush and small trees on said deer property. Would someone remind me why we spend more time on deer property, working like dogs and almost always getting killed by first a swarm of angry yellow jackets and now a chainsaw gone mad rather then say, our house and yard???!!!
The answer will be for another day. . .

Two harrowing hours, a nice set of stitches and a tetanus shot later we walk out of the ER when it suddenly dawns on me, where did I leave the car. . .

Raindrops on roses, er, well, not exactly

***hearing and singing the tune of My favorite Things. . .
Raindrops on tree limbs and on dirty windows. . .

DSCN2766

DSCN2777

Cooped up inside till no one knows when tho’
Toll-frees keep calling, ring-a-ling, ling
Here are some shots of my favorite things. . .

Or I should say a few of the things I’ve found for gift giving which is making me happy during such gloomy days. . .

Michael’s Woodcrafts. . .remember the post on Michael and his beautiful wood work? Well the things I ordered from Michael, as part of my Christmas gift giving, have all arrived!! True to form, they are so rich and beautiful—nothing like the sight, scent and feel of finished wood. .
http://michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com

DSCN2768

DSCN2771

Here is a shot of some local honey (Wally’s Bees out of Newnan, Georgia just south of Carrollton) accompanied by one of Michael’s hand turned ice-cream scoops. . .local honey is always a welcomed gift by young and old. Here we have local wildflower, as well as my favorite, Tupelo. Tupelo is the cadillac of all honeys —it is only sourced from Tupelo trees which are only found in extreme southern Georgia and Northern Florida. Here is a nice little link to the Tupelo bee keeper information page:
http://www.tupelobeekeepers.com

DSCN2775

I also recently discovered a local potter who throws the cutest “cat bowls”—each bowl is finished off with raised eyes, and cheeks adding personality and character to each cute piece. When I find her card ( I know it’s here somewhere in this oh so organized life of mine—yeah, right) I’ll provide her information.

DSCN2774

She also makes the most delicate ornaments–the stamp of a cat on a thin disc of white clay fired then finished off with gold foil

DSCN2778

I found this little woolen cutie at Scott’s antique expo in Atlanta. Despite his not being of antique caliber, I still thought he was most adorable. . .for the squirrel loving step mother of course. . .

DSCN2772

And finally from local potter Melanie Drew here in Carrollton at Blue Heron’s ceramics, these farm to table mix and match ceramic plates. I’m going to find some local goat cheese from Carpa Dia Cheese
(http://www.atlantamagazine.com/covereddish/2011/07/21/capra-gia-same-guy-same-goats-new-outlook
here is a link to an article in Atlanta Magazine regarding this local little gem) and some locally made artisan crackers, to accompany the plates, topped off with some locally made wooden spreaders, all nicely tied up with burlap ribbon— to give to those gastronomic individuals on my list—personal, handmade and full of eclectic homey goodness.

DSCN2776

Department store gifts are cookie cutter nice and safe but there is just something most special about giving a gift which is the product of one person’s hands and talents, only to be shared with an appreciative recipient.
May you think outside of the box this holiday season when presenting gifts to family and friends. . . it can make the gift buying experience that much more enjoyable as the receiving is simply an event oh so very sweet!!

Cookie’s stewed apples

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
Martin Luther

DSCN2232

I don’t know about where you live but the temperatures are starting to take a bit of a nose dive. We actually had our first frost last night here in northwest Georgia as the thermometer dipped into the oh so low 30’s. The nightly weather reports have been dotted with the stories of the early snows throughout much of the country—news of such always puts me in the mood to be in the kitchen working on something warm, comforting and heavenly.

I had gone a bit overboard at the grocery store the other day buying, en masse, the beautifully displayed apples. I don’t know if I thought the apocalyptic end was in sight or that I wanted to keep every doctor within miles away but I found myself buying more apples than I really needed.

And there they were this morning, a bevy of beauties sitting all nestled in the bowl on the counter–waiting… waiting for me to do something magical with them….

I know!! Let’s make stewed Apples—Cookie’s delightfully fall stewed apples…talk about a bite of fall in one’s mouth…..

First, let us gather our supplies shall we…..

DSCN2231

You’ll notice the base will be: Apple Cider, and of course we need Calvados or any good Apple brandy; I had some leftover coke, why not; the juice from an orange, cinnamon, my delicious cinnamon simple syrup, cardamon–pods crushed or the powder; nutmeg–freshly grated; Vermont Maple Syrup (I order mine each year from Taft’s Milk & Maple Farm in Huntington, VT –talk with Mary–she is a wonderful person http://www.vtmaplesyrup.com ), honey (my son’s fiancé brought me a jar of Beekman’s Vanilla Creamed Honey–talk about decadent…it is laced with vanilla seeds and is truly heavenly–use sparingly as it’s just too good) Plus about 7 or 8 nice size apples. I mix varieties as some will turn to mush as they cook and others will hold their shape…providing a nice variety which is great for the “stew”….

I used a naval orange but you may use any type, even a tangerine—I’ve been known to use a lemon if I didn’t have an orange–you just want a little citrus….
DSCN2234

Now you know I’m not one to measure so this may really throw some of you more exact folks out there a big curve–I measure with my eyes and my tastebuds…it’s from being the art teacher for all those years—eyeballing things just took over. And here is where I throw my Jessuit friend William, over on teilharddechardin.wordpress.com, a curve ball as to whether I am a type A or type B personality—-but in the kitchen my “little bit of this and a little bit of that” just works…..

Using a large deep saucier or soup pot, pour in probably about 2 cups of the apple cider, probably 1/2 to 3/4 cup Calvados, part of the left over Coke-if you don’t have a Coke or don’t want to open one for this, don’t–it’s not crucial. Squeeze half or both halves of the orange, pour in approx 3/4 cup maple syrup–we’ll probably need more later. Pour in 1/2 cup of Cookie’s cinnamon simple syrup if you made it, if not just add more ground cinnamon and maple syrup. Several shakes of ground cinnamon, cardamon, a couple of gratings of the fresh nutmeg– bringing it all to a boil–now reduce to a simmer while you prepare the apples.

Wash your apples—I like to spray them with “Fit”–it is a fruit and vegetable spray/wash that helps to remove that waxy business the producers like to coat the fruit and veggies with….yuck…. Spray with the Fit, rub all over, rinse well.

Next you may use an apple slicer which makes this little chore rather effortless or you can simply cut into 8ths. I do not peel my apples as the skin adds such a nice textural quality to the end product but if you want to be a purist, peel away.

DSCN2230

Once the apples are sliced, place them in the pot of simmering deliciousness. Your house is smelling really good right about now…..

DSCN2229

Bring the mixture, complete with apples, to a boil, stirring to coat the apples with the liquid as we don’t want them turning brown. Reduce the heat, cover (don’t fret if the lid doesn’t fit all the way down yet, the apples will shrink down)–allow to simmer about 20 to 30 minutes…stir ever so often. After about 30 minutes taste the liquid as the apples will now have released their heady juice—here is where you may need to add some more Maple syrup or honey. Just keep adding a little, tasting until the level of sweetness works for you.

At this point you can cut off the heat, allowing the apples time to ‘sit in their juices’ as it were–breaking down and absorbing flavor. I usually let them sit on the stove until later when everyone wants a bowl– I will then heat them back up, as serving them warm just seems best. You may certainly use them as a side if serving some sort of pork or on their own as a desert. I’ve been known to heat a bowl for breakfast or ladle over oatmeal…so versatile, healthy and oh so heavenly divine.

DSCN2236

Serve them warm in a bowl topped with vanilla ice cream or a little whipped cream, or serve plain….this is what the doctor ordered on a chilly day…can’t get much better than this……

Strawberries, yogurt and honey…yum!

So I went to the grocery store yesterday where I saw they had beautiful strawberries for sale. Now I know better than buying strawberries from the store as they are never as good as those grown by one’s own hand. Looking in my yard, there was no magic patch to be found, so…..

DSC00789

Thank you to http://grandpahoney.wordpress.com for always the wonderful inspiration where honey is concerned! The other day they posted a delicious picture of greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries. It will be a while until the blueberries arrive on the bushes, so I settled for the strawberries.

Cutting them up, I topped some greek yogurt, drizzled Tupelo honey and sprinkled ground flax seed for a tasty lunch. Ground flax seed you ask…..well, I hear flax seed is really a healthy addition to food, so what the heck…added a nice nutty taste. I’ve also been known to sprinkle some ground honey wheat germ for a bit of a nutty crunch.

Please don’t think of me as too much of a health nut, remember this is the girl who has an obsession with butter…. 🙂 hummmmm, butter drizzled with honey….interesting…I’ll think about that later………

DSC00784