Monday, July 16, 2018


One of the joys of having a backyard garden is fresh tomatoes.  This year, we have managed to grow more tomatoes than the squirrels can eat, and we have enough for salsa.  There are thousands of recipes for salsa, and this is my favorite one.

 One large green bell pepper chopped fine. You could use a red one as well.

One medium purple onion chopped fine.  A white one would work, but I love the way the purple looks in the salsa.

Two jalapenos with the seeds removed, chopped very fine.  We love the heat in ours.  You can leave this out if you want to.  But why would you want to?

Chop the tomatoes, although they don't have to be as fine as the jalapenos.  I do not peel the tomatoes.

Ain't that pretty?  It is ready now, but I like to add a little extra.

This is about half a bunch of cilantro.  It is hard to chop when it is wet, so I wash it before I start and use paper towels to dry it.  Hub loves this, and he would put the whole bunch of cilantro in if he was making it.

At this point, I added a teaspoon of black pepper and about a teaspoon and a half of salt.

Add the juice of one lime.  This makes a huge difference.

And it is done!  This is not hard to make at all, but the chopping does take some time.  I have found that any kind of machine will make the pepper and onions mushy, so I always chop by hand.  It is actually therapeutic for me.

 Storing it in this juice container makes it easy to pour over omelets, chips, potatoes, or anything else you are having. It will stay fresh for three or four days, but it rarely lasts that long here.

Please share any salsa secrets that you have.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Summer Solstice

Behold in the bloom of apples
and the violets in the sword
a hint of the old, lost beauty
of the Garden of the Lord!
         ~John Greenleaf Whittier

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Baptisms in Horse Creek

I recently visited a congregation that had a new baptistery; a gleaming tank of temperature-controlled chlorinated water which could be changed as needed.  Well, I thought, they no longer have to wait until summer to be baptized, which is bound to be a good thing. Before long, I was nostalgically thinking about some baptisms that I witnessed in my long-gone childhood...

We were not a church-going family on a regular basis, but we did go occasionally for strictly social purposes. I had no concept of salvation; church to me was a totally fun event that was temporarily interrupted by a sermon. Most of this church-going took place in the summer, when annual revival meetings where held. This summer-time holiness tradition began before the days of cars and pickup trucks, when people walked or rode wagons to church. It had to be after the crops were laid by. In the little church we randomly attended, you didn't mess with tradition, so the revival meeting occurred on the hottest week of the year.

Some years, a large tent would be erected in a pasture nearby for those who wouldn't be caught dead near a church house. A visiting evangelist would proclaim the good news while tired farmers stood just outside the light created by a bare bulb on an extension cord, smoking and listening. Sometimes, they listened well.

A community-wide baptism service was held the Sunday afternoon following the revival services for the new converts. We lived in the Appalachian foothills near the Tennessee River. It seemed that between every ridge there was a hollow with a creek making its way to the ocean via the river. Horse Creek, Second Creek, Whites Creek, and branches off them provided good swimming holes, which could be easily turned into a baptistery by simply removing the beer cans and spraying for insects. I was baptized in Whites Creek in a dry year when the preacher struggled to immerse a healthy 5'9" woman in water that barely covered her knees. The rain-blessed years were different; then people could find a shoulder deep spot where the dunking was easy.

We had some relatives who attended one of those churches where people jumped and ran, shouting the whole time, and it was rumored they handled snakes, although I never witnessed this personally. We never went there because my mom thought it was a little too traumatic for small children. The cousin and her husband were on the list to be baptized one Sunday afternoon, so it behooved us to go, inasmuch that kin was respected regardless of their choices. The service was held in a spring-fed bend of Horse Creek, which was a lot bigger and a lot deeper than Whites Creek.

The minute it started, my ten-year old brain surmised that something different was taking place here. There was lots of music, including guitars and French harps, unlike the one out-of-tune piano at the other place. There was several candidates for baptism lined up on the bank, waiting. The men removed their wallets from their pants and rolled the legs up to their knees. The women pinned the front and back of their skirts between their legs, an effort to prevent them from flashing the crowd while they were in the water. When the singing stopped, they dutifully filed in and waited their turn.

Did I mention it was a hot, HOT summer day? The kind of day where the humidity sucks sweat and energy out your pores as a special treat for the mosquitoes. The crowd pressing on the usually quiet creek bank was steaming, some babies crying, mothers slapping at bugs and keeping an eye out for water moccasins. The service seemed to go on and on, and my skinny legs were tired of standing still. Just when I thought I couldn't possibly stand there one more minute, the action picked up considerably.

When our cousin was prayed over, immersed,  and brought up out of that cold water, well, she just went crazy. She began frantically splashing the water, going under and up again, falling back in the water like she was doing a back flip off a diving board. When her head was above the water, she would give a good shout before going back under. The crowd just went wild.

Someone, possibly her mother, yelled, "Get her, she is going to drown!"

Others said she was "in the spirit" and began praising the Lord for it, extra loud to make sure He could hear it through the mayhem.

My dad leaned over to my mom and whispered, "Somebody better get her out of there!"

About the same time, someone standing behind us proclaimed that she could not drown if she was in the spirit. They were certain.

My lil' ole sister looked up at me with her big brown eyes like she expected ME to do something!

After a few more minutes of hysterical wetness, she gathered some dignity and walked out, her long skirt billowing in the water like a jellyfish. The red-faced preacher reached for the next person waiting in line.

I thought it was just fascinating. Up until then, I was ignorant of the fact that you could legally have fun while you were in a church service. It looked to me like she just saw a hot-day opportunity too good to pass up and took full advantage of it. If it happened today, I might just jump in there with her.

Unfortunately, I didn't have my trusty digital camera fifty years ago.  The photos are from Foxfire 7, a whole book in the Foxfire series dedicated to religious heritage traditions. I highly recommend it.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

 For all my birding friends . . .

The grays are Sandhill cranes. Some folks at the refuge estimate 22,000 live there.  The white ones are whooping cranes.  There are from six to twenty there, depending on who you ask.  We saw four while we were there yesterday.

 The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is just off Interstate 65 outside of Decatur, Alabama.