Thursday, January 30, 2014

How I Really Feel About Winter

~Florence Main Street photo

I do not like the cold North breeze
or temps low enough to freeze
the pipes, the plants, and the parts
of motor cars that make them start.

I do not like the freezing rain
that makes the roads a major pain
to try to get to work and school.
I do not like it, and I’m no fool.

I do not like the mushy snow.
It doesn’t set my heart aglow.
Instead, it just makes me mean
as I pine for something green.

I do not like the low, gray sky.
Sometimes, it makes me want to cry
when I think of all the blue skies gone
and weeks of winter yet to come.

I do like the summer, humid and hot;
long lazy days and temps that do not
fall below seventy, even at night!
Hurry up, Summer! It’s nowhere in sight.
~Wanda Stricklin Robertson

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Quilting Class 2014


For a while now, I've had computer trouble, Internet trouble, and winter trouble, so I haven't been blogging much.  Thank you to those who have missed it, but some things are just bigger than me.  Hopefully, after many hours of repair work, everything is working again, at least, for now.


In the meantime, my winter quilting class has started, and is off to a great start.  I'm thankful for my students who have braved the cold nights to get to class.


This year, I have three students who are very different in some ways but all are in love with quilts.  Their class names are Dolly Madison, Roslyn Carter, and Jackie Kennedy.


We have learned shortcuts on making half-square triangles that are in this first quilt.  We have talked a lot about quilting tools and how different it was back in the day when some of the world's best quilts were created.  Stay tuned; it is going to be a fun and inspirational class!

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

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Scripture: Come



The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
              And let the one who hears say, “Come!”
Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.     ~Revelation 22:17

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ice Storms and Birthdays



The woman looked anxiously at the sky, then bent over to get another wet diaper to hang on the clothes line to dry.  She was enjoying this warm weather, but something  just didn't seem right, it being late January and all.  Still sore from the birth of her baby girl a few days ago, she quickly hung the cotton diapers to dry.  She could see the clouds building in the western sky.

By the time she collected the dry diapers a few hours later, the sky was overcast and a northwest wind cut though  her cotton house dress.  Grabbing her heavy coat, she began to bring in dry wood for the fireplace. By the time she had enough for that night, a cold rain had began to fall.  When her husband got home from work a little while later, the rain had begun freezing and already, a thin glaze of ice covered the porch steps.

They listened, quiet, that night as the rain pounded the tin roof of the house and the wind raged outside their windows.  The husband rose frequently to add wood to the inadequate fireplace, while the woman held her infant against her body to keep it warm.

Daylight brought a wonderland of white; every tree and building and vehicle was covered with a thick layer of ice.  Soon, they began hearing loud cracks from the woods as huge tree branches broke due to the weight of the ice.  Their day, and several days afterward, was spent trying to stay warm and fed.

It was only after warm Gulf winds had melted the ice several days later that they were able to see the damage; ruined woods, livestock frozen in the pastures, and loss of life for some. The woman counted her blessings, for all of them had made it through the storm.

This is how my mama and daddy told the story to me. You can go 
here for a newspaper story that documented one of the greatest ice storms in recorded history.

Yes, the baby was me, and I'm thankful that I didn't freeze and that I have lived through several storms to make it to another birthday.
However, I have been cold all my life.  I blame it on that ice storm.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mary Lynn

In Loving Memory
Mary Lynn Stricklin Horton
January 12, 1937-December 2, 1990



Let's just pretend, because it's your birthday,
that the lump in your breast was a mosquito bite
that disappeared in a few days and your life
continued normal, if normal can describe life.


I will call you up and tell you to come by, the
coffee's on and there's coconut cake.
We'll talk about hair color and plants. You will be
amazed at how the grandchildren have grown. 
 
We will speculate about Rosie's new man
and how high the price of groceries will rise
because of the early freeze.  I will make you a
copy of that quilt pattern you've been wanting.

We will giggle at old stories: the time you broke
your foot riding a bicycle, the leaves in the chicken stew.
We will groan about our weight gain and I will say
your boobs are as big as the moon.

 We will refuse to talk about cancer. We won't
think about chemicals and radiation and
Lord help us get through this.  There will be no
emaciated body that lost its strength to talk about.
 
When it is getting close to suppertime, we will hug
and I will say Happy Birthday and you will say
Forty, again, and then you will go home.
But not very far, so I won't miss you.

~Wanda Stricklin Robertson

Friday, January 10, 2014

Hackers

On Wednesday, when the temps got above freezing, we decided that we really needed to buy some food.  When we were finished at the store, I swiped my debit card, and it was declined.  Really?  I only had about forty dollars worth.  The checker tried it again; declined again.  Hub tried his, and it was declined.   I felt something akin to panic and the checker advised us to talk to the bank, ASAP.


In just a few minutes, the bank informed us they had put a hold on our account, because someone was trying to get funds that they had not worked for.  A big shout out to Bank Independent for paying attention.


I have a couple of hints for the hacker:


1. Men who have lived in North Alabama all their lives do not speak with a heavy Middle-Eastern accent.  The person at the bank knew immediately that you were an impersonator, and although you were able to access all of our security questions, you were not able to answer questions about the area where we live.


2. Since you are smart enough to hack computers, have you ever thought about getting an honest job?  ITs can make a lot a money, although probably not as much as you make stealing. 


After spending several hours at the bank on Wednesday and Thursday, we now have a new account, new debit cards, new checks, and a new awareness of how easy it is for evil people to invade your privacy.  Of course, every automatic payment and deposit had to be renewed, too.


The bank told us that we make it very easy for hackers when we use WiFi in public places, which I have done a lot in the past, but no more.  We did not shop at Target when they had their security breach, but for a week in December, we were at a resort where we used unprotected WiFi.  Be careful!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Test for Technology





Our internet has been sporadic for several weeks.  Last week, it completely quit so we had to have a Comcast technician to come and repair it on Saturday afternoon.  He replaced the modem, and the internet worked fine.  Until Monday morning. 


We called again, and another technician came late yesterday.  He checked all the connections outside.  He found that the squirrels, who apparently own this place, had chewed the cable lines almost in two where they connected at the pole.  He replaced everything necessary, and we are good to go this morning.


This just goes to show that no matter how smart we get, there are always unanticipated things that can so wrong, like hungry squirrels.


I'm guessing the squirrels are tired of sunflower seed.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Scripture: Lamp


Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path.
 ~Psalm 119:105

Friday, January 3, 2014

Collards and Sweet Potatoes



The tradition of eating certain food on New Year's day in order to bring health, wealth, and all good things in the new year is old. So old, in fact, that no one can really pinpoint when it started. The food varies greatly depending on what part of the world you live in.

One explanation for the South, that is just as good as any to me, is that during the Civil War, the northern soldiers had not been taught about the goodness of garden greens. It is told that when the soldiers passed through and took all the food, they left the greens and the black-eyed peas, finding them undesirable. The people who stayed ate what was left.

Probably a more accurate scenario is that greens will grow all winter here except during the coldest winters, and cooks wanted something fresh to prepare for the New Year's holiday. Who knows?

This New Year's day, we made the collards a little different than usual. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Grandma's or Paula Deen's collard greens, but we wanted something quicker to prepare. Here is how we did it.


Saute two cloves of crushed garlic in olive oil.


Add three cups thinly sliced sweet potatoes, about three small ones. Add a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and just a little water. Steam the sweet potatoes for a few minutes to tenderize them.




 

Use this many collards.  A good hand full.


Roll the collards up and slice thinly.


They should look like this. 


Add to the sweet potato/garlic mixture and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes.

 
I think it looks pretty good with the hog jowl, black-eyed peas, and cornbread.  Yummy.



 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Connie's Santa


One of my favorite gifts this year was this ceramic Santa that my friend, Connie, gave me.  He was so handsome in his red suit and hat, sitting in my dining room for the whole Christmas season.  When I look at him, I can see Connie sitting at her table, painting away, and concentrating on getting everything just right. I love knowing she spent her precious time making this art for me.

Today, he is wrapped in a quilt in a big, blue bin, ready to be taken to the storage room until around Thanksgiving next year.  I'm looking forward to using this gift every Christmas that I get to experience from now on!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year


Once again, we have been
given another chance, another
attempt to get it right, another
calendar with blank pages that
will be filled, one way or another.
 What can we fill them with?
A lot of laughter and crying,
some compassion, and more
than a little kindness. We can
stand boldly for what is right.
We can buy some seed,
Plant something, anything,
and watch it grow.  We
can share what we know and
what we grow, green happiness.
 We can do something we have
never done before; something
so far outside of our comfort
zone that no one believes you
can make it.  But you will.
 We can go somewhere we have
never been before, in a car or
a train or a ship or a book.  We
can use our minds to soar through
the stars and come home again.
 We can pray for wisdom and
apply the gifts we are given.
We can listen, we can linger,
we can love, and we can hug.
It can be the best that's ever been.
~Wanda Stricklin Robertson