Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some Tuesday Humor

A new missionary went to Venezuela for his first term. He was struggling with the language and didn't understand a whole lot of what was going on. He got lost on his way to the church, but eventually got back on track and found it. The small church was packed, and the only pew left was the one on the front row.

So as not to make a fool of himself, he decided to pick someone out of the crowd to imitate. He chose to follow the man sitting next to him on the front pew. When they sang, the young missionary peeked at his neighbor's hymnal to see the page number. When the man stood up to pray, the young missionary stood up too. When the man sat down, he sat down.
Whatever the man next to him did, he did. During the preaching, the young missionary didn't understand a thing. He just sat there and tried to look just like that man in the front pew.

Then he perceived that the preacher was giving announcements. People clapped, so he looked to see if the man was clapping. He was, and so the young missionary clapped too. Then the preacher said some words that he didn't understand and he saw the man next to him stand up, so he stood up too. Suddenly an incredible hush fell over the entire congregation. A few people gasped audibly. He looked around and saw that nobody else was standing, so he sat down.

After the service ended, the preacher stood at the door shaking the hands of those who were leaving. When the young missionary stretched out his hand to greet the preacher, the preacher said to him, in English, "I take it you don't speak Spanish?"

The young missionary replied, "No, I don't. It's that obvious?"

"Well, yes," said the preacher. "I announced that a family in our church has a new baby boy, and I asked the proud father to stand up."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Multitude Monday: Seeing the Goodness

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

Today, I'm thanking the Father for:

Yellow jonquils in January.

                    Hot berry tea when I come in from the cold.

Oswald Chambers, who died in 1917, but still blesses us with his book of devotions every day.

The muted sounds of traffic on the Parkway a half mile away; letting me know things are normal.

                    A beautiful umbrella that was a Christmas gift.

The beautiful rain that gives me an excuse to use my new umbrella.

A ceramic cup full of perfectly brewed coffee.

                    Always a new road to travel.


The Florence-Lauderdale Public Library; a house full of treasure.

                   Our good neighbors who watch.

My little sister who is celebrating her birthday today.

Grocery stores full of good things.

                   Stop signs.

The neighbor who always wave when I go past her house.

January sunsets.

                   White, puffy clouds.

People who remember that work is a good thing.

The old photo of my husband's ancestors that reminds me.

                    Granddaughters singing when they think no one is listening.

Friends who always say 'yes' when I am needy.

A child in a spinning teacup, so full of joy!

                     Spiral notebooks.

Sweet dreams.

A life that is full.

26-50 The Joy Dare

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Celebrate Saturday: You are Special!

The LORD your God is with you,

the Mighty Warrior who saves.

He will take great delight in you;

in his love he will no longer rebuke you,

but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Enjoy your weekend, my beloved.  As you wander, remember that you are special.  God loves you so much, He smiles and sings over you.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Folklife Fridays: Squirrel for Breakfast

Where I grew up, squirrel hunting was as common as apple blossoms in spring.  Every family, if they were physically able, hunted squirrels for a source of protein in their diets.  Our woods had plentiful nut trees, oaks and hickories and black walnuts; therefore, there were plenty of squirrels.

Daddy would start out at first light, his feet scrunching on the frost-covered ground, to find some squirrels.  He usually brought at least three home, sometimes after walking for quite a while.  Three provided enough meat for a big, hungry family.

After the squirrels were skinned and cleaned, Mama would parboil the pieces a while, then dredge them in flour, salt, and pepper, and fry them in a big iron skillet.  After the meat was done and removed, she added more flour and water to the drippings to make gravy to pour over the squirrel meat.  Other days, she would boil the squirrel meat until it was tender, then add dumplings to the pot.

We absolutely loved it, and yes, we ate the brains which are considered a delicacy now.  Sometimes, my lil' ole sister would find a pellet of buckshot in hers, which the rest of us found highly amusing. 

Squirrel is showing up on menus in Appalachia and some other parts of the country now, some of it rather expensive.

I haven't eaten any squirrel since I was much younger.  I am not opposed to eating it in any way, being the true carnivore that I am.  It is just that I don't have my Mama to cook it for me, or my Daddy to shoot them for me now.  Hub and I apparently don't have the hunting gene, and we are able to buy meat already cleaned at the grocery store.  If we ever get the urge to try it, however, we won't have to go far to hunt for squirrels.

There is a huge scaly bark hickory tree just off my deck, and it is a mecca for squirrels.  Many times, I can see at least a dozen running around in my back yard.  I enjoy watching them but sometimes, they can be a little annoying.  They eat my dog's food right out of his feeder, and the sweet little dog lays there and watches them, yawning occasionally.  And there is a constant battle with the bird feeders. 

Sometimes, I wonder what my daddy would say if I could take him out on the deck and show him all those squirrels.  With his shotgun, he could probably lay in a month's supply of squirrel meat before the police got here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rainy Days

 It's another rainy day here.  Our average precipitation for January is 4.61 inches.  Yesterday, we had received 6.02 inches, and there is already more than an inch in my rain gauge from the rains that began in the wee hours this morning.

Every year, we long for rain when the hot air of August scorches the pavement, the plants, and the people, when all the moisture just stays in the air and wraps around us like a wet, wool blanket.

 For the most part, I enjoy the rain.  It does make me thankful that I don't have to go to work on a horse-drawn wagon.  It also makes me thankful that my house doesn't leak, although I can't say the same for my office at work.

I just hope all the bulbs in the ground that are getting ready to stretch toward the sunlight don't drown.

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  Matthew 5:45b

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Primitive Music

We have been listening to and loving the Primitive Quartet for more than thirty years now.  They are a group from Candler, North Carolina, that plays and sings the gospel just like it has been done for years in the mountains.  They have a Christmas singing in early December every year in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and these photos are from the 2011 singing.

These photos aren't the best, since I was way back in the crowd.

And what a crowd it was!  There were people there from many, many states.  We saw lots of old friends, and met lots of new ones.

Every time these men get up to sing, they acknowledge that whatever talents they have, it is all God-given and they will use the time they have to worship and honor Him with those gifts.  Because of that, I have never seen them.....

         spend their time on stage talking about football or politics...
         come on stage trying to look like a rock band...
         set their music at such a painful volume that the lyrics are lost. . .
         talk about awards they have received (and they have gotten plenty!)


I'm convinced that they are using their gifts to glorify Jesus, our Savior.

If they are within fifty miles of here, or sixty, or a hundred, sometimes, we go to the concert.  It is worth every mile.

What a blessing, what an honor it has been to know them!

 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  John 13:35

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Humor

 Mrs. Gladys Makes Up Her Mind

Poor Mrs. Gladys, she went to visit her grand-daughter and her husband over the weekend and the news is not good. She was excited about seeing the young family, and she was looking forward to going to church with them Sunday morning but things didn’t go so well. Leslie and her husband go to a big new mega-church. Mrs. Gladys, on the other hand, is used to the much smaller, much more intimate congregation. Hers is a nice country church and she’s been a member there for well, a while. Trust me. It wouldn’t serve any of us for me to elaborate. Mrs. Gladys wasn’t very impressed with the slick marble and the soaring ceilings of the new mega-church. Nor was she at all fond of the contemporary music. Now personally, I like both the old hymns and the new faster paced praise music, but I understand that some people prefer one or the other.

Mrs. Gladys didn’t think the people were all that friendly, either. She said no one spoke to them in the parking lot and no one greeted them in the foyer. To hear her tell it no one even made eye contact with her. Now, if Leslie were telling this, she might say that her dear grandmother’s frown might have been more than a tad off-putting, but I am definitely not going there. What’s important here is that Mrs. Gladys told me that she felt plum invisible and no one likes that feeling, especially Mrs. Gladys.

After the service Mrs. Gladys made up her mind to talk to somebody before she left. Leslie said her grandmother turned around to a couple seated behind her, stuck her hand out in the woman’s direction, and said, “Gladys Dunn.”
The woman smiled thinly but the man grabbed her hand and said enthusiastically, “Me, too, lady, me too!”

From my friend, Shellie, the Belle of All Things Southern.  Check out her website at allthingsouthern.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

Multitude Monday: Taking the Joy Dare

I have been following Anne Voskamp's blog, aholyexperience.com, for several years.  She is a beautiful writer.  Every  Monday, her post notes things she grateful for, little things that we can fail to see unless we look with searching eyes.

My blog has recorded hundreds of things I'm grateful for, but Anne has challenged us to find 1000 things to thank God for in the year 2012.  That's about three a day, unless of course, you get 23 days behind like I did. 

 Here we go!  Today I'm thankful:

1. that we were safe during the storms that swept through the South last night.
2. for the good decisions I have made; accepting Jesus as my Savior and having a personal relationship with Him is the best one I have ever made.
3. for a strong body that has been many miles in sixty-one years.
4. for a clear mind.  Most days.  Well, some days.
5. for a warm, dry house to live in.
6. for the gift of hospitality He has given me.
7. for laughter.
8. for the way the sunlight reflects off the water in puddles leftover from last night.

9. for the contrails crossed white against a blue sky: a painting worthy of art museums.
10. for the gift of reading.
11. for the invention of the printing press; can you imagine what it would be like not to have a Bible or any other book?

12. for good food.
13. for sitting with an old friend in Sunday school yesterday.
14. for sitting with a new friend in Sunday school yesterday.
15. for Sunday school.

16. for the birds that visit my deck.
17. for green leaves pushing up from the cold ground.
18. for the tinkling of wind chimes, music on the front porch.
19. for the ability to make things with my hands.
20. for women everywhere who study the Word together.
21. for things that last long.
22. for a new group of students.
23. for old books that never get old.
24. for family.
25. for friends.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Celebrate Saturday: Seeking

In comparison with this big world, the human heart is only a small thing. 
             Though the world is so large, it is utterly unable to satisfy this tiny heart. 
                                                 Our ever growing soul and its capacities can be satisfied only in the finite God. 

As water is restless until it reaches its level, so the soul has no peace until it rests in God.
~ Sadhu Sundar Singh

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 
~Matthew 11:28

Friday, January 20, 2012

Folklife Friday: Another String Quilt

During the rainy, stormy day this week, I completed this string quilt. Quilts like these were named string quilts because some of the fabric used were small as strings, all that was leftover from other projects.

I actually made the blocks a few years ago during and after a class on string quilts. Unlike food and flowers, the blocks will keep until you have time and energy to put them together.

 I know some of my students will recognize some of the fabrics that were used. Blocks are made by cutting old newspapers in the desired shapes; this is an eight inch square.  Starting in the center, fabric strings are sewn on until the newspaper square is covered.  Then, the fabric strings are trimmed to the size of the newspaper. It is best to leave the newspaper on until the blocks are sewn together, then they are removed before you make the quilt sandwich (top, batting, lining).

I quilted this quilt using a free motion foot and meandering.  The quilting pattern doesn't have to be marked, so it is a time saver. The label is made from a block I had left over.  

I love bright colors, so I use red a lot in my quilts.  When I made quilts for sale, the quilts with red or purple always sold first.

God has blessed us and I am able to buy fabric I need for sewing projects, but I still love using the scraps.  In fact, people give their scraps to me so it isn't likely I'll ever run out.  For some reason, I get intense satisfaction from taking a pile of strings and making something beautiful out of them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


If you feed them, they will come.  I spent way too much time trying to get these beauties to pose for me, but it just didn't happen.  Most of my bird photos are made through a window, so if an unexpected glare appears, that's why.

This little fellow seems to love my birthday gift as much as I do!


I wonder if she thinks she has found the buffet at Ryans. . .


Can you spot the thief?  It is bird food, not squirrel food!  The squirrels  must have gotten  tired of dog food or wanted some variety.  I wonder if a stove pipe around the pole would help.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.

                               It sings because it has a song.
                                                   ~Chinese Proverb

Monday, January 16, 2012

What's it Worth?

A well-known speaker started off his seminar holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill. He then asked, “Who still wants…… it……?” Still the hands were up in the air. Well, he replied, “What if I do… this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air.

“My friends” he said, ” We have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE. You are special.

This month marks the 39th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the legal decision that has caused approximately fifty million babies to be murdered in the place they should have been safest, their mother's womb.  Since then, children have been taught that life is worthless unless it perfect and convenient: not by our words, but by our actions.

LORD, have mercy on us all.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Litter Lee

In loving memory of Mary Lynn Stricklin Horton
January 12, 1937-December 2, 1990

She was the same kind of different as me.

My half-sister, Mary Lynn, was my oldest sibling. Her mom died from complications of measles/pneumonia when Mary was about four, and her brother was two.

Before too long, my dad and mom were married, my mom a new bride with an instant family.

My parents lives, like those of everyone we knew, consisted of growing cotton, corn, chickens,  and children.

Their world was very small, immobile, static for generations.

An aunt and uncle had moved to Michigan searching for a better life and had seemingly found it. When the aunt became pregnant, Mary traveled there to help her during the pregnancy. Mary saw how big the world was. She returned home when she was no longer needed, but she was never again content living on the farm.

There was not a lot of opportunity for social interaction with anyone who was not a relative. People visiting from outside the area always seemed different and exciting. When Mary was sixteen, a neighboring family had visitors from far away Arizona. The visitors had a son, just the right age, and when they returned to Arizona a few days later, Mary went with them as a new bride.

Any marriage based not on love but as a ticket out of town doesn't have much chance for survival. Mary was soon home again. My parents were angry when she eloped, and the anger lingered after Mary came home in defeat. She was soon looking for a way out, a new beginning.

We had relatives in northern Indiana, part of the post-World War II migration from the agrarian south to the industrial north. Mary, older than her years, went there looking for work. I was very young at the time and was thrilled when she wrote home and said she had found a job as a waitress. In my frame of reference, any job that didn't consist of dirt and heat and aching backs was definitely glamorous and highly desirable.

One year, while she was working in the north at Christmas time, we received a huge box in the mail from Mary with presents for everyone. Mine was a black wallet, and inside, she had placed a one dollar bill, and it was all mine! I can't think any other gift I have received in my life that was as exciting as that one.

Mary spent her life searching. She moved from job to job, from husbands and lovers, never staying anywhere for long, never finding her peace.

I had a child when I was a child of nineteen. Mary, alone again, came to stay with Hub and me, helping, teaching me to cook and take care of the house. She never had children of her own and sort of adopted our first born son as her grandchild. He would follow her every step. He loved her immensely, and would even eat onions if she did. When he started to talk, he couldn't quite manage her name, calling her "Aunt Litter Lee".

She became more settled after that, and soon found her soul mate, the first real love of her life.

Soon after they married, she found her greatest love, finally opening her heart's door as Jesus stood there knocking, patiently waiting for this special child. Her restless spirit was replaced with a gentleness that is rarely seen.

Mary was happy and content for a little while, but unfortunately, her struggle wasn't over.

It all came so fast; the phone call, tears, a lump in her breast, a willingness to fight. The surgery, the chemicals, the waning of a strong body. The enemy consumed the bones, took the energy, but not the spirit.

On a cold December day, first born son, barely a man, so young to learn hard lessons, stood and eulogized his beloved Aunt Litter Lee. She was 53 years old when the battle ended. There is no way to measure the impact of her brief time on this earth.

The Word lets us glimpse into heaven, the perfect place, where we will never hear words like cancer. I think when its my time to cross the Jordan into the promised land,  Mary will be there, in front of the others waiting to welcome me. We'll hug and giggle, and I'll tell her how hard it was with her gone, and we'll make up the lost time.

We always had a joint birthday celebration; hers is today and mine is tomorrow. I have already had more birthdays than she did, but I never forget hers, these twenty-one years that we have lived in different places. Happy Birthday, Sweet Sista!

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:17

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


On Monday, my friend Danny Joe died.

Danny Joe and his wife, Jo Ann, were auction fanatics, just like Hub and me, so we were always seeing each other.  He loved fishing and was usually looking for vintage fishing equipment at auctions. 

He always had a smile to share, and he always had a pocket full of candy.  Anytime you met Danny Joe, he would have a piece of candy for you.  In my case, it was usually cinnamon disks or lemon drops, my favorite.  Sometimes, a small piece of candy and the kindness with which its given is a large thing.

Kindness, like courtesy and manners, is not as common as it used to be.

Several years ago, on the day after Thanksgiving, I attended an estate auction that had several quilts I wanted to buy.  The day started out clear and balmy, but a north wind blew in and I was not dressed properly for it.  I was standing outside, trembling from the cold, thinking I was going to have to leave before the quilts came up, when Danny Joe slipped his coat off and gave it to me.  He assured me that he had on quilted coveralls and was too hot with that big coat on.  I bought the quilts that day but I can't remember which ones they are or what I did with them.  But I will never forget that warm coat on a cold day, and the kindness of a good man.

We'll miss you, Danny Joe.  I don't know if there will be fish fries in heaven, but if there are, I'll look for you there.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. . .Galations 5:22

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January Tulips

Today was a dark, damp, dreary day, like days that we have every January.  That is not going to change without a radical move to a lower latitude, which I don't think is going to happen.

Of course, it is easy enough to surround yourself with flowers.

The sixteen tulip blocks, a simple nine-patch variation, were made yesterday afternoon.

Today, I sewed the blocks together with sashing and borders.

Pretty sure I am sensing an old-fashioned quilting bee in the near future to quilt this little garden.

In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.- Albert Camus

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sunday Travels: Argentina

Yesterday, we went to Argentina.

One of my favorite places in the world, the Florence Lauderdale Public Library, has a series of programs on January Sundays for all of us who want to travel the world but just haven't had the opportunity to do so yet. This is their fourth year to do this, and it has become so popular that they will probably have to move to a larger room soon. Yesterday's program was full of those of us who wanted to "Get out of Town" without spending the time, money, and effort to do so, so we packed out the library on a wet, cold, cloudy afternoon, and we were transported to the far south for just a little while.

 My longtime friend, Deborah Douglas-Brown, affectionately known to some of us as DDB, and her husband, Bill, presented a program about a recent trip to Argentina. The Browns travel more than anyone else I know. Every time I see her, my first question is, "So, where have you just got back from?"

Find the passport! We are off to China next Sunday afternoon.

*National Geographic photos

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Celebrate Saturday: Color

At first glance, the winter landscape seems gray and dark, devoid of life and color.

Look again!

Chill air and wintry winds!
My ear has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow