Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird Challenge

We have head a lot about To Kill A Mockingbird this year. It is fifty years old now, which is something to be celebrated. I had it on my ‘to read’ list for this year, so when Amy at HopeistheWord.com issued a challenge to read the book in August, I knew it was the perfect time.

To Kill a Mockingbird was relatively young when I read it the first time. An assignment in high school lit class; something that had to be done, where the only goal was to get to the end. I enjoyed it then. Now that I’m a little more mature and understand life somewhat better than I did then, I feasted on this fabulous book.

TKAM was set in the thirties, but it could have easily have been decades later, since change came slowly then. Harper Lee made it so real, I can imagine the Radleys and the single ladies living in the neighborhood I grew up in. I can easily understand why the book is eternally young, even after it’s fiftieth birthday.

The book is full of words that have been quoted extensively. I won’t list them all, but here are my favorites.

Atticus to Scout: You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view..until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

Miss Maudie to Scout: Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Atticus to Jem: As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it--whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.

Scout, after her teacher told her to stop reading: Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.

My feelings, exactly.

Thank you, Harper Lee, for stringing these simple words together. It has made our world a much better place.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Recipes for Week 8/22

This week’s favorite recipes

Bestest Broccoli Salad (from my friend, Shellie, at allthingssouthern.com)
Sorry, no photo, because it didn’t last long enough for a photo shoot.

2 cups fresh broccoli
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped green onions
6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

Dressing: 1 cup mayonnaise with 1 T sugar or honey and 2 tablespoons lemon juice

We'll begin by chopping up this head of fresh broccoli into little florets. I’ve already fried and drained six slices of bacon. We're gonna crumble it into our broccoli along with a cup of golden raisins and a cup of chopped green onions.
Mix mayo with sugar (can omit) and the lemon juice. Pour over broccoli mixture.

Pistachio Fruit Salad
I first got hooked on this when Hub’s aunt, the late Mary Evelyn Sharp, brought it to family dinners. Sometimes, its a side, and other times, it dessert.

1 small box pistachio instant pudding mix
1 package miniature marshmallows
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cup Cool Whip

Mix dry pudding mix with marshmallows; stir in Cool Whip. Add other ingredients, including juice from pineapple. Refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.
This makes a lot; I usually put it in a 9” x 13” dish.

Chicken Salad
1 ~3# fryer. Put in crock pot set on low before you go to bed. Don’t add any liquid; just season as desired (I use Cajun seasoning). Next morning, remove the chicken from the crock pot. When cool, remove bones and skin. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.

1 cup chopped grapes
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish

Mix all together with chicken.

1/2 cup real mayo (NOT Miracle Whip)
1/4 cup sour cream
Pour over chicken mixture and stir together.

There are thousands of chicken salad recipes; this just happens to be the one I made this week.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Right now, there are three storms in the Atlantic.

Danielle and Earl may turn north and do little harm, except to the people on ships (remember Perfect Storm?). Overall, hurricanes can't be trusted, sometimes changing their direction in spite of the Weather Channel's predictions.

Having lived most of my life 'on the ridge', away from the ocean, I've never experienced a hurricane personally. I have friends that have. All of them, 100%, say they will evacuate from now on.

Here's some books to go along with hurricane season.

This is a sweet story of four women caught in a hurricane at Paradise Resort in the Bahamas. The four women are totally different, and you will be rooting for all of them by the end of the book. Loved it!

My favorite author, James Lee Burke, wrote Tin Roof Blowdown after Katrina destroyed New Orleans. It is fiction, but you will learn a lot about things that never made the nightly news. Starting a JLB book is a commitment for me, because I can't stop reading once I start.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers is a nonfiction account of the days leading up to Katrina and weeks after it. This book tells how people react to emergencies, sometimes losing their common sense. The book is sobering, well worth reading.

If you have read these or others about hurricanes, please share in the comments section.

Enjoy your weekend with a good book!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday dinners

Sunday dinners used to be the big meal of the week.

Family and friends gathered after church to dine and talk about what happened last week and what they are expecting tomorrow and the next day. This doesn't happen much anymore.

Maybe it is because we are too busy to sit down for two hours at a time.
Maybe it is because there is a scarcity of people who can find the time to prepare a big meal before time for church (Hooray for crockpots!).

Yesterday, Hub and I ate alone. I was out of town Friday night, so Hub treated our granddaughters to barbecue ribs. We had the leftovers yesterday. Then, we had brownies from Logans, left over from my Friday night supper.

It was all very good, but I miss the big family dinners.

While we were enjoying our leftovers, there was another feast happening in the back yard.

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or "What shall we wear?'....your Heavenly Father know that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Jesus, in Matthew 6:31-33.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Summer Stingers

Mosquito bites. Wasps and yellow jackets stings.
Gnats buzzing in your face until you get tired of fighting them and retreat.
All are as much a part of summer as 90 degree days and beach vacations.

Perhaps it is summer’s attempt to balance the many good things, like fresh vegetables, beautiful flowers, swimming pools, and lazy days with a little evil just to keep us humble.

Thankfully, we have medicine now readily available to combat stings, soft mist sprayed on the skin for instant, cool relief. This was not always so. In the summers of my youth, we used whatever was handy.

One of the most often used remedies was snuff, probably because it was always available. Both my grandmothers kept their mouths packed all the time, so they would use the tip of their finger to get a little spittle, or snuff juice, and dab it on the bitten spot. Sometimes, before darkness drove us inside, we would have white/brown polka-dotted legs. It must have helped, at least temporarily, because we kept doing it. Nicotine has long been used in insecticides, so it probably did.

Mama swore by Clorox (she NEVER bought an off brand of bleach). If we were near the house, she would grab the bleach and put some on the affected area. I don’t know if it helped, but it certainly wasn’t harmful. Mama soaked her dentures in Clorox, keeping them pearly white as long as she lived.

Wasps were everywhere, especially in the little church we attended. It had high ceilings, and the wasps would build in the highest, most unreachable parts, where they remained undisturbed most of the time. With no air conditioning, the windows were raised constantly, giving the wasps easy access.

Come revival time, with music and shouting and stomping and fanning, they would get disturbed and begin kamikazee attacks on whoever was in their path, not distinguishing between saints and sinners. Many of us missed the message, unable to concentrate because we had to keep our eyes on the wasps. One time a wasp landed in my hair, causing me to involuntarily jump into the lap of the person sitting next to me,. It happened to be a tender young man so bashful, he couldn’t speak to anyone without blushing. I don’t recall him sitting by me ever again after that.

My battle with wasps has never ended. Right now, there are three, THREE, wasps nests under the rain gutters along the front of my house. I have knocked down four already. They kept rebuilding, and I finally surrendered to them. As long as they stay in their nests and behave, they can live there until the frost drives them to warmer places.

Look for the yellow jackets and gnats on another day.

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1Thess5.16-18

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mighty Shepherd

Ocean saw you in action, God,
saw you and trembled with fear;
Deep Ocean was scared to death.

Clouds belched buckets of rain,
Sky exploded with thunder
your arrows flashing this way and that.

From Whirlwind came your thundering voice,
Lightning exposed the world
Earth reeled and rocked.

You strode right through Ocean,
walked straight through roaring Ocean,
but nobody saw you come and go.

Hidden in the hands of Moses and Aaron,
You led your people like a flock of sheep.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ode to the Morning Glory

Morning Glories may be the flower I have known and loved the longest.

My maternal grandmother, Mrs. Georgia Gean, was a great lover of morning glories. She lived in a little four-room house that had been converted from an old church/school house. The front porch, with boards for the floor and tin on the roof, was built across the front of the house, which faced directly west.

Grandma had dug up beds running parallel with the porch, on each side of the front door. Each spring, she would plant these beds with morning glory seed she ordered from a seed catalog.

Long before the little plants were ready to send out tendrils, she built a trellis for them to climb on.

Grandma knew what days in early spring would yield the highest sap, and that is when we would go to collect young hickory trees. Gathering her grandchildren and her chopping ax, she would head to the woods to cut down hickory saplings that were bursting with sap. We would haul them home under our arms, even the smallest children helping. After we got them back to her house, we would work for hours removing the bark from the saplings in long, pliable strips.

On a frame made from the newly naked saplings, Grandma would weave the hickory strips into a trellis that reached up to the tin of the porch roof. The hickory would dry and strengthen, lasting until late October frost killed the morning glory vines.

As the days lengthened and warmed in mid-May, the morning glory vines would grow rapidly, several inches a day. Before long, the vines would completely cover the trellises, providing a shelter from the sun and transforming the little porch into a cool, comfortable place.

Like most people during that time, my grandparents had no air conditioning and spent a great deal of the daylight hours of summer on that porch. They ate out on the porch, shelled peas and beans, and visited with company there. Without the morning glory trellises, the porch would have been hotter than inside the house.

Then, in late summer, the morning glory vines would burst into blossoms that were huge in the morning but closed up as the afternoon heat intensified. People passing the house would slow their vehicles to get a better look at the massive blue and purple trumpets. Some would stop for a visit just to get a better look. The blossoms attracted hummingbirds and butterflies, and much time was well spent just watching.

Grandma, her morning glory trellises, and the house they leaned against are long gone. I would love to go back there for a little while with my digital camera to capture the true beauty found on those hickory strip trellises. I would also let Grandma know that her love for flowers and her determination to surround herself with beauty lives on in many of her progeny.

There are a few morning glory vines in my yard that I have planted, and innumerable wild ones that cover the fence and get tangled in my rosemary and peas vines. I plant some seed every year, but up until now, they have never been as pretty as Grandma’s were. I’ll keep trying as long as I'm here.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians4.8

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spider Webs

Has anyone noticed the increase in spider webs lately?

They are between my windows and screens. They seem to be in every outside angle of my house. They are thicker than usual, very easy to see. This has probably happened every year of my life, but I've never paid attention until now.

An old farmer's almanac told me that this late summer web is commonly the last web of a spider's life, when he senses the winter coming and puts all his effort in his final handiwork.

That almost makes me feel bad as I use the broom to destroy the webs. Almost.

Many years ago, a cousin reportedly saved her son's life using a spider web. The child had cut his wrist badly on a broken window pane and was bleeding profusely. The mother swiped a handful of webs from a corner and packed them on the wound. The spider web immediately staunched the flow of blood. Possibly, that is why God allowed them aboard the Ark. There had to be a reason.

The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces. Proverbs 30.28 KJV

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Sundays

"Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And
for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing
soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness." Psalm 107:8-9

Sometimes, boring is good.

The heat and humidity in Alabama August is fierce...it can drive you back inside quickly if you get too adventuresome. We're not really lazy, we're just waiting for the cooler air of autumn before we do anything that requires moving or breathing.

We miss our Sunday afternoon walks at the TVA reservation. I've always loved walking in the woods, but we live in the city. TVA provides wonderful walking trails, a wildflower garden that is almost always cool, and facilities with a water fountain. It is one of my favorite places.

Walkers abound in our neighborhood, and after we're finished with our walk, I like to sit on the front porch with a book and wave at all the walkers as they come by. It's too hot to do that right now; there are not many walkers either, all of them postponing their walks until cooler weather. If I wake up early and go outside just as the dawn is breaking, then I can wave at the walkers.

Yesterday, around five in the afternoon, we had a thunderstorm with lightning that interrupted the electrical power for a while. It's amazing how quickly the house can get hot when the air conditioning is asleep. Our Sunday night church service starts at six, and I am never early. Yesterday, I was early, abandoning my quiet house for somewhere cooler. The power was back on when I got home, and the rain shower cooled the temps to a bearable level.

Just an ordinary Sunday, like many others that I have had and am thankful for. No panic, no emergencies, no 'better get out of town fast' events. It was just a beautiful, satisfying, restful Sunday. For that, I am thankful.

As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Between our birth and death

we may touch understanding,

As a moth brushes a window with its wing.
Christopher Fry

Monday, August 9, 2010

Farmer's Market

One of the best things about summer is the local farmers' market.

From early spring onions and radishes until the last sweet potatoes are sold, our market meets on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays. Saturdays are the busiest, and some choice items, like free-range eggs, are sold out before seven in the morning.

We had a lazy Saturday morning, and by the time we got there about 10:30, lots of shelves were empty. The sellers were still doing a lot of business.

As a rich society, we have been spoiled. We want our strawberries and tomatoes in the middle of the winter. We want our fruit pretty and blemish free. It is about supply and demand. Because of volume, sometimes big chain stores can sell their produce cheaper than the local farmers can. But what a difference there is in taste and freshness!

Personally, I prefer corn that was on the stalk just minutes before it was brought to market. I don't mind if tomatoes are not exactly round, a long as they taste like my childhood and Alabama sunshine. I love the rich golden color of country eggs.
It just doesn't feel right that some of the food I consume is more well-traveled than I am.

Yes, I'm willing to pay 25 cents more for pepper that tastes like pepper.

Check out your local farmers market. Take a BIG bag.

You'll meet the best people there!
God said, "Look, I have given you all the plants that have grain for seeds and all the trees whose fruits have seeds in them. They will be food to you. Genesis1.29

Saturday, August 7, 2010

First Friday Pics

First Fridays: A time of good food, music, dancing, clowns, jewelry, crafts and fun in downtown Florence every first Friday of the month.
You never know who you might run into......
Politicians.....old friends.....the mayor

Belly dancers......
Even Elvis showed up!

Harmonizing and picking....
Treasure hunting....showing off and finding great local talent!

At this point, the camera had to be put away so we could handle the ice cream cones.
You gotta come next month!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Dog Days

Dog Days: a time period so hot that it saps the energy of man and beast, and there is very little, if any, movement.

In the Southern United States, where I am so blessed to live, they start in late July and don't end until September.

As a child, we were taught the period was so named because it was too hot for dogs to move from the shade where they spent the long, blistering days. We were warned to be especially careful, for everything from bug bites to ear aches were remarkablely worse during 'dog days'.
Fortunately, the crops were 'laid by' and growing by then, with harvest months away, so the work would slow down for everyone except the ones preparing vegetables for freezing and canning.
We worshipped the window fans that blew the night-cooled air into our bedrooms enough that we could sleep.

Actually, the term 'dog days' can be credited to the Romans, who endured hot days without the threat of global warming hanging over their heads.

The star Sirius, called the Dog Star because it is the brightest in the constellation Canis Major, rises and sets with the Sun during the hottest days of the year. Naturally, the Romans blamed Sirius for the producing sultry days.

According to Brady's Clavis Calendarium (1813), Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies."

I can agree with all that except the hysterical part. Being hysterical would require way too much energy.