Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Happy Birthday, Lil' Ole Sister

Wanda Robertson, Glenda Ford, Mary Lynn Horton (sometime in the 1980s).

Today was a great day back in the fifties; it was when my lil' ole sister, Joan, entered this world.  Her life has been a roller-coaster ride, and she has changed our world along the way. She's still growing, still giving, still always there for me.

Have a great day, Joanie, and we will celebrate on our road trip in March.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Quilting Class: Week 3

This week, Rose was much  improved and was able to join us for the class.  She told us about a beloved bird quilt that her mother embroidered.  She can remember watching her mom doing the embroidery at night after supper.  Rose is just amazed at how beautiful a quilt can be, knowing it is just a compilation of fabric, thread, and someones work and imagination.

One of the first things a beginning quilter has to learn is how to use a thimble. Pushing a threaded needle through two layers of fabric and one of batting can be difficult, almost next to impossible without a thimble. It only takes a few holes in your fingers to make you appreciate that little tool. I have quite an assortment, surely one that will fit any finger.

We completed the quilting on our first quilt this week, and took it out of the frames. It will have to be trimmed and a binding put on next week. Also, we will start quilting our second quilt then.

Rose, Daisy, Tulip, and Violet are all improving.  They didn't seem so nervous this week, and enjoyed seeing their work when we unframed the quilt.  I think it is wonderful quilting for new students.

This class is made possible by a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Thanks!

Monday, January 28, 2013


Yesterday was a good day.

First, I went to church, which always makes it a good day. 

 Afterwards, I joined my friends Lynn and Gene to hear Peggy Allen-Downs present a program at the Tennessee Valley Historical Society meeting. Mrs. Allen-Downs has thoroughly researched and wrote a book called Duty Driven: The Plight of North Alabama's African Americans During the Civil War. It tells of Mrs. Allen-Downs ancestors who fought for the union after emancipation. One of them stayed with his former master; he was offered his own grey mule if he would stay and work.

It was about supper time when it was over so we toured Tuscumbia, looking for a steak house, which was closed when we found it. We came back to Legends in Florence to celebrate Gene's birthday. We were also celebrating my birthday, which was two weeks ago but Gene and Lynn were not able to celebrate then.

It was a sweet celebration, because for several weeks, we did not know if Gene would ever be able to celebrate with us again. He has suffered multiple health issues, staying in the hospital for more than eight weeks. He had Smoky Mountain spotted fever, then meningitis, then transverse myelitis, plus a few other things thrown in. Gene still has to move about in a wheelchair, but he's working on it, and getting better every day. We are so thankful for his progress.

The good people at Legends were happy to help us celebrate. They gave us one of those gigantic chocolate cake thingies with ice cream and chocolate syrup and whipped cream with a cherry on top. The three of us were not able to finish it, but we did what we could.

Next year, we are going dancing to celebrate our birthdays. Yes, we are.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Sunshine

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.

I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.

~Louisa May Alcott

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pillowcase Dresses

When I started working on the crazy quilt I told you about here:,
I found many pillowcases that had never been used.  I can almost see someone working on this embroidery after supper, thinking it was too pretty to use and deciding to save it for someday.  I'm guessing someday never came for them, since the pretty pillowcases wound up in a box being auctioned.  Although some had been made nearly a half a century ago, they had been carefully stored and were in almost new condition.  It seemed a shame to cut them up in little pieces. 

Previously, somewhere on the Internet, I had seen little dresses made from pillowcases.  The pattern is on several sites, so I gave it a try.

Members of the church I attend make several medical missionary trips a year to third-world countries.  Not all of us have medical skills, but we can all do something.  I work with the women's missions group to make cloth dolls to send with the medical team (that's a blog for another day).  Next time they go, they will have several little dresses to take with them.

Morals of this little story: 
1.  Surround yourself with beautiful things; it is your someday now.
2.  Never throw away something beautiful; find a way to use it.
3.  You can serve God as a missionary without leaving the country.

I can imagine some little girls smiling big when they get a new dress.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


God loves to look at us, and loves it when we will look back at Him.

Even when we try to run away form our troubles...God will find us, bless us, even when we feel most alone. . unsure...God will find a way to let us know that He is with us in this place, wherever we are.

~Kathleen Norris

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Time to be Born

During the Thanksgiving holidays, I watched Gone with the Wind, again.  When we see those fabulous dresses and hats, the fine food, the stately mansions, and men with manners, who wouldn't want to live in antebellum south?

When we see the movies of settlers moving west, crossing prairies filled with wildflowers, sleeping under the stars, it just seems idyllic.  Imagine what it would have been like to travel with Lewis and Clark, with the determined Columbus, or Marco Polo.

I have often said that I was born too late, but actually, I was right on time.

I am a compilation of DNA of many, many people; people who pushed their way from Europe to the Carolinas, then across the south in search of federal land grants.  These people possessed and passed on a work ethic acquired not from any religious fervor, but from the will to survive.  They worked and played and loved and grew stronger, with the goal of all living entities: to reproduce and make life better for their offspring.  I couldn't be me without them.  When it all came together, it was my time to be born.

Realistically, in the antebellum south, I would have most likely been among those poor white trash people that struggled to live, with no pretty red dresses available.  I would have died on the prairie when my appendix burst.  Exploring new lands surely was an adventure, but I can't help but think that when they got there, there were no Hampton Inns or Cracker Barrels to welcome them.

There's a time to be born, and I'm thankful that my time was in the 1950s.

*Photos shared from Google images.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Quilting Class: Week 2

We were able to meet for our quilting class last night after missing last week due to weather.  No rain or icy roads last night, just blue-butt cold.  Poor Rose was in bed with coughing and a cold and wasn't able to attend.

While we stitched the night away, we talked about why we do this. Daisy's mother was a wonderful quilter, and Daisy feels like it honors her mom to carry on the tradition.  When she moved to her current house several years ago, Daisy's mom was thrilled that she had a big, empty basement, and saw the opportunity for hosting quilting bees there.  Daisy was willing, but her time was spent picking up and dropping off the ladies, and feeding them while they were there.  It is a precious memory of time shared with her mom.

Like me, Tulip fears that quilting will become a lost art, and she wants to do her part to see that it doesn't happen.  Besides, she says, you get to play with color.  Tulip had one of those nights where everything that could go wrong did, but she managed to get a good bit of stitching done.  She is hoping her needle and thread will be kinder next week.

Violet is recently retired from an office job, and wants to learn new things.  She can crochet, knit, and sew clothing, but until two weeks ago, had never sat down at a quilting frame.  She comes from a non-quilting family, which is somewhat rare around here.  One of her goals in learning to quilt is to make each of her five grandchildren a special and unique quilt for them to treasure.

We should finish the quilt we're working on next week, as long as the weather cooperates.   I can't wait to do it again.

This class is made possible by a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Thanks!


Monday, January 21, 2013

To Everything There is a Season

Northwest Alabama has four distinct seasons, with the summer being the most intense.  Friends in Alaska say they have three months in a year: July, August, and Winter.  We were in the Mayan city of Tulum, Mexico,  in February 2009 on a scorching hot day.  Our guide there said they had two kinds of weather--hot and hotter.

Our spring is always fantastic, coloring our gray landscape with green and peppering the cold ground with wildflowers. We celebrate new and renewed life around us while we hide from storms.  Summer gives us abundant veggies from the garden and long days that let us play outside until nine, fighting mosquitoes and the 98% humidity.  We welcome the first cooling breezes of autumn and are astounded with the beauty of dying leaves and the harvest. Then, winter comes.  Winter forces us to stay inside, to settle down, to rest.

Our lives go through seasons and changes, just like our planet, and some changes are more welcome than others.

You renew your witnesses against me, and increase your indignation on me; changes and war are against me.  Job 10:17

The season of having two little boys was a happy one, when we laughed and grew together.  It was also the season of having very little financially, and wishing every day for a better house and car and a time when we didn't have to work every minute of the day.  We learned difficult lessons then that  will be with us as long as we live.

There have been the trying seasons when we learned that life is not fair, no matter how good you are or how hard you work. We have watched loved ones struggle with cancer and addictions and the pain of knowing.  We have buried our parents and grandparents and longed for their wisdom after it was lost.  We have known the terror of middle-of-the-night phone calls with bad news. We have known disappointment.  It is the stuff of all life, not just ours.

But how could we love spring so much if we didn't experience the winter?  The spring always comes.

Ah, the seasons of joy! For us, joy was reaching the time when there was a  money left after the bills were all paid, being able to see the sun rise on the ocean and set in the desert, having a house that stayed warm and dry. It was celebrating at two weddings and getting two new daughters, and, eventually, two granddaughters.  Joy is having good food on the table and good friends to share it with, good books to read, and good music.  Joy is laughter, and joy is hope.

There are good things, and not so good things, in every season for every life. We just have to decide to concentrate on the good, and wait for the spring.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Challenge

Thousands of Reasons
           ~ Doe Zantamata

If every morning,
You can find a reason to say,
“Yes, it’s going to be a beautiful day.”

And every day, you find a reason to say,
“Yes, it is a beautiful day.”

And every night, you find a reason to say,
“Yes, it was a beautiful day.”

Then one day,
You’ll look back and easily say,
“ was a beautiful life.”

After a week of dark clouds and biting wind and snow and ice and copious rain, the sun is shining brightly, just daring you to come out and enjoy.

When you lay your head on your pillow tonight, I hope you can thank the Lord for a fabulous day, one that you will long remember.   Get up and make it happen!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Times and Seasons .

I have always thought that this passage from the book of Ecclesiastes, written by the very wise Solomon, is one of the most beautiful segments of the Bible. 

1. To everything there is a season,
                 A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born,
               And a time to die;
A time to plant,
              And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
              And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
              And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
              And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
             And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
            And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
            And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
            And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
             And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
             And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
            And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
            And a time to hate;

A time of war,
              And a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
The preacher read this at my Grandpa Gean's funeral.  I was fourteen, and not very familiar with scripture.  Even on that sad day, this passage was so beautiful that my spirit grabbed it and has never let go.


This passage is more familiar than some parts of the Bible, in part because Pete Seeger put it to music in 1959.  He recorded it in 1962, but it wasn't until it was covered by the Byrds in 1965 that it became a national hit. Most people could sing along with it, some not realizing that they were quoting scripture almost word for word as they sang.
In the coming days, I hope to use this passage of scripture to try and understand the times and seasons.  Please join me.  I always welcome your ideas and thoughts on whatever I write here.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dark Days

It is January 17 and it has rained more than seven inches here since the year started.  I keep checking between my toes to make sure there is no mold growing. This morning, it is cold and nasty, with wintry weather on the way.  Enough, already!

A body needs to see a blue sky sometimes to keep their thinking straight.  Old photos are not the real thing but better than looking a low-hanging clouds.

The weatherman promises some sunny days ahead.  I am so ready!

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.

Ps. 42.5

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Aspirin in a Tin

The peddler man sold these tins.  Fifteen cents was a lot for 12 little pills, but we bought them regularly.  I'm sure we could have bought a bottle of 100 for fifteen cents at Walmart...WAIT! There was no Walmart, and no Target, and no K-Mart, or especially, no CVS stores.  The peddler man brought it to road in front of our house, so I guess we were paying for the convenience.  This was at the same time that huge candy bars were a nickel each, and if you bought a quarter's worth, you got one free.  Buying an aspirin was a sacrifice, but you can't always think straight when you have a splitting headache.

In those days, without parental consent, we built a lot of flying jennys.  I'm not sure that is the proper spelling, but if you were there, you know what I'm talking about.  It was an extremely hazardous contraption that was made by drilling a hole in the middle of a long piece of lumber about 12" wide.
A huge nail or screw was put in the middle of an appropriate sized stump, and the hole in the board was fitted over it.  We would borrow some axle grease from the shed and put between the stump and the board.  Two people sat on the ends, and third pushed.  You could get that thing going ninety in no time, and we would be drunk as buzzards from going round and round.  What fun it was!  I'm surprised no one was killed.

One day, we were playing on one we had built after being told not to, but I guess we were bored.  My brother was pushing, and we were flying!  Suddenly, the ground flew up and hit my head so hard that I kinda blacked out for a second.  My brother was terrified, and knew he was going to be in big trouble.  It was peddler day, and we agreed that he would spend his money to buy me a tin of aspirin, and I wouldn't tell Mama. 

I can't remember how I explained away the big goose egg that was on my head, but we didn't get in trouble that day.  That has to be proof that God watches over us when we don't know any better.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Birthdays and Ice Storms

The morning wakes cold with temps hovering just above or just below the freezing mark.  The rain continues to fall causing increased threat of flooding and icy roads.  Schools are opening late, and some in neighboring counties are closed for the day.

Last Sunday, I celebrated my birthday (Thank you, Lord, I never thought I would make it this long).  The year I was born, there was a monster ice storm that covered the Southeast.  My family lived in an old farm house that was heated by an open fireplace.  Mama told of fearing that her infant would freeze to death during that storm.  Daddy moved the bed next to the fireplace to help keep us warm.  They told of hearing loud cracking and popping sounds as the trees near the house succumbed to the weight of the ice.

When I had English composition in college, one of our assignments was to write a paper on the events that happened the year we were born.  I spent hours in the library searching microfiche, reading about the storm that swept through several states, causing major damage and many deaths.  My parents were not connected; the storm was long past before they learned how far its icy tentacles had reached.

Those of you who know me well are aware that I am almost always cold.  I wear long sleeves during our intense summers because everywhere I go, it is too cold without them.  I don't leave home in the winter without many layers of clothing, including wool socks.  Some might say that my arms and legs are so long, my heart just can't pump the blood that far on a regular basis.

I'm thinking that it is residual shock from that ice storm.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Broccoli Salad

When I make this salad, everyone asks for the recipe.  The original recipe is from my friend, Shellie, at, but I have changed it up a little to make it mine.

First, buy a bunch of broccoli, and clean it.

Chop it up in small pieces.  This bowl is part of a set that Hub bought me about 35 years ago.  There has been a boat load of food prepared in it. The knife is a reflection.

Buy a bunch of green onions and clean them, then chop them fine, including the green part.  I think Google is mad at me; it won't let me enlarge the rest of these pictures.

Hub's family never ate the green part (the onion blades) and he was shocked to see me eating them when we were first married.  He thought I would surely die.

Add the onion pieces to the broccoli.

Add a cup of raisins.  Shellie's recipe called for the white ones, but I usually just use what I have.  It's all good.

Chop up some crisp bacon.  This is six slices, but you can add more or less if your little heart desires.

What's not to love about bacon?

Add the bacon to the bowl and stir it all up.

I could eat it like this, but most normal people want it dressed up a bit.

Mix 3/4 cup mayo, 1/4 cup sour cream, juice of 1/2 lemon, and a fat teaspoon of honey.

Stir it until it is smooth and creamy.

Add to the broccoli mixture and coat it all well.  It needs to be covered and refrigerated at least an hour to let the flavors blend.

I don't know how long it will last in the frig; we always eat it all the first day.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday: Priceless!

Every day we live is a priceless gift of God,

loaded with possibilities to learn something new,

to gain fresh insights. 

~ Dale Rogers Evans


Friday, January 11, 2013

Recycling: Crazy Quilt

When auctioneers are packing up for an estate sale, they have to combine small items in box lots in order to get everything sold before all their customers get tired and leave.  There are always boxes of towels, sheets, and other linens that wouldn't get any bids if they were sold individually.  They usually sell for very little, especially if the items are torn and stained.  This is a good thing for me.

I have bought boxes of old polyester fabric and blankets for under ten dollars and discovered  nice quilt tops at the bottom. Other times, there was nothing in the bottom but nasty stuff.  Once, I bought an old truck full of vintage dolls and thought I had really scored, only to find a dead mouse in the bottom.  I had to throw everything away because I couldn't get the smell out.

After several years of buying these old linens, there was a large accumulation of hand embroidered items taking up room in a closet, where no one was getting to appreciate them.  Most had stains and holes, but the embroidery work was still beautiful and I couldn't throw anything away that someone had worked patiently to make.

So, I made some pillows.  Some I use, and I have given some away as gifts.   I have so many old dresser scarfs and pillow cases, that I could never use them all up in pillows.  After seeing a crazy quilt with beautiful embroidery, I have decided to attempt to make a crazy quilt from them.

Using some vintage plain feed sacks, I cut 12.5 inch squares for the backing, and pieced around the embroidered piece with some neutral fabrics.  This was one end of a dresser scarf; the other end was beyond use.

From a pillowcase who didn't have a partner.

From another pillowcase that couldn't be throw away because I love butterflies too much.
This is a work in progress, so stay tuned.  If you never see it again here, you can assume that the idea didn't work.  I think it will, but I have always been an optimist.