Monday, June 30, 2014

Travels with Tony Hillerman

About 1992, someone suggested I read Tony Hillerman's latest novel.  I did, and I was hooked.  I read everything he had written up to that point, and got every new novel as soon as it was released.  

His eighteen mystery novels are set in the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona with protagonists Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo tribal police.  Hillerman's books describes the Four Corners area, Window Rock, Arizona and other desert landscapes. We had been to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but had never stopped at these places and seen them up close.

We had a long winter here, and one cold, rainy day, I was thinking (daydreaming?) about how nice it would be to be in the Southwest. I started rereading Hillerman's novels, and Hub read some of them for the first time. His descriptions make you want to be there, to see these places with your own eyes, to taste the dust with your mouth, to hear the wind and the silence.

So blame it on a wild hare, wanderlust, or Tony Hillerman, but Hub and I just spent several days roaming the area that helped us through the winter.  It took a lot of planning and a lot of driving, but we made some memories that we will never forget.

I plan to share some photos and tell you about what we did in the next few days here.  I hope it makes you want to go and see it for yourself.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Scripture: Blameless

 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.
 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
           ~Psalm 19:13-14

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Caught in the Storm

Booms of thunder shake the house
We look at each other, stunned,
Hearing the rain in this windowless room.
We are powerless to stop it.

We look at each other, stunned,
As water creeps under the door.
We are powerless to stop it.
The water covers the floor.

As water creeps under the door,
hearing the rain in this windowless room,
We draw up our feet in collective fear.
Booms of thunder shake the house.

~Wanda Stricklin Robertson

Friday, June 27, 2014


Beautiful is a relative term.  I'm guessing beauty is intertwined with what we need, with what makes us happy.

In early June, we had storms for five days in a row.  High winds snapped trees and power lines and heavy rain flooded roads and fields.  On Thursday night, one of our town's electrical workers was fatally injured while repairing storm damage.  During Saturday night's storm, the wind took down our Bradford pear tree, blowing it across the electrical wires that connects our house to the main lines.

So we had live wires on the ground in the backyard.  We rescued the dog and didn't go near the downed wires until the utilities department got here to turn the power off at 5:30 AM on Sunday.  When the tree fell across the wires, it tore the meter and weather-head from the house.  Our Sunday was filled with getting an electrician to install a new meter and weather-head,  getting the new work inspected, and getting our power back on late Sunday afternoon.

Hub and I have just returned from several days vacation, where we saw many beautiful things, both natural and man made. No doubt, you will be hearing about some of them here in the next few days.  But on that Sunday evening, nothing could compare to the beauty of these people and trucks.

Of course, the tree took the cable line down, too.  Hub called the cable company on Sunday morning.  He was asked to check the modem. "Don't think it's the modem," he told them, "the lines are on the ground." "We will be there Tuesday afternoon," they said.

Tuesday morning, we got a call asking if the modem had started working yet.  "Not yet," Hub told them, "the lines are on the ground."

I was sitting on the front porch when the cable man arrived late Tuesday.  He got a tool box and walked to the house, wanting to check the modem.  I convinced him to check the outside line first.  Not long after, I was able to see reruns of the Andy Griffith show.

Beautiful is a relative term.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Rosedale Gardens

Today, John and Lynn Ingwersen are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary.  As part of the celebration, they opened their fabulous gardens on Wednesday for tours.  Hub and I were the first ones there that morning, while the dew was still on the roses, as they say.

The rose gardens were fabulous, and I wish I could remember all the names and varieties to share. Pretty sure that's not going to happen.

And who could look at these and not smile?

That is red yarrow in the background.

White yarrow with butterfly weed.

White yarrow with lilies.

Beautiful Russian sage. . .

looks like I'm not the only one who loves it.

When the Ingwersens moved to this property thirty years ago, there were four trees, and three of them had to be removed.  There have shade gardens now covered by dozens of large trees.

They have an Indian prayer garden, a water garden, and the mediation garden pictured below.

We're really happy to have seen these beautiful places built by loving hands, sunshine and rain,  and thirty years of labor.  Thanks for sharing, John and Lynn, and may you have the best anniversary ever!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Oak-Leaf Hydrangea


The oak-leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia Bartr. was designated and named as the official state wildflower of Alabama in June of 1999. Since then, they have become so popular that garden centers sell out of them quickly.  

It is easy to see how it got its name.

Seeing this large spikes of white blooms in yards and along roadsides is one of the joys of spring and summer in the South.  They are pretty all year, with peeling bark and red colored leaves in the fall.  They will grow in full sun or shade.

The ones in my yard are doing well in almost continual shade.  I've tried other plants in those areas, but nothing grew very well until we planted the oak-leaf hydrangeas. It is nice to be able to enjoy them from the house on those days we don't have time or energy for a drive in the country.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Nineteenth Amendment

                               *Image from the National Archives

This resolution was passed by Congress June 4, 1919, which was ninety-five years ago yesterday.  It was ratified on August 18, 1920.  The 19th amendment guarantees all American women the right to vote.

This amendment was first introduced in 1878, after fifty years of struggle by women who were tired of having no political voice. The proposed amendment was debated forty more years before it became law. The service of women during World War I finally resulted in the adoption of the amendment.

Women like Susan P. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and many others worked without ceasing to insure women the right to vote. Ninety-five years later, American women cannot imagine a world where they wouldn't have the same rights as men.

On Tuesday of this week, our state had primary elections. Voter turnout was extremely low; estimates have about 34% of registered voters going to the polls.  After all the fighting and struggle for the right to vote, why don't we do it?  Would we be disturbed if someone tried to take our right to vote away from us?  Why?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dennis Weaver

                       *Image from Wikipedia
Dennis Weaver was born ninety years ago today.

Weaver was born and raised on a farm in Missouri.  He was a track and field athlete at the University of Oklahoma, then served as a Navy pilot in World War II.  He was a 'registered' Cherokee and a respected actor.

He starred in the television movie, Duel, which some say launched Steven Spielberg's career and is still one of the greatest movies ever made for television.  He starred in the successful television series
Gentle Ben, and later, as McCloud.  Wonderful accomplishments, but to me, he will always and forever be Chester Goode from Gunsmoke.

Oh, didn't we love him? Mr. Dillon!  Mr. Dillon! The faithful sidekick, with a drawl and a limp, who always came through just in the nick of time when Mr. Dillon needed him.  In fact, I loved him so much, I wrote a poem about Gunsmoke when I was in the sixth grade. The assignment was to write an original poem that rhymed.  Of course, I don't have a copy of the poem, but I can remember most of it.  It has only been about fifty years, after all.

Would you like to have lived
in Gunsmoke days,
Where the gun was the law
in the old western ways?

Matt Dillon was the marshal
of Old Dodge City;
The owner of the Long Branch
was called Miss Kitty.

There was old Doc Adams
with his little black bag
and funny Chester Goode
with his stiff wooden leg,

There was lots of excitement
and many a thrill,
and most of the bad men
wound up on Boot Hill.

It seems like there was another verse but I can't pull it up right now. By the way, my teacher loved the poem.

Chester spread a lot of joy in the nine years he was on Gunsmoke.  We still see reruns of Gunsmoke sometimes, but they are usually the ones that were made after Chester left the series.

I'm wondering which television stars our children will remember fifty years from now.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Duck Calls

My sweet friend, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, the Belle of All Things Southern, has a radio program that I listen to regularly via the Internet.  It is a fun program, with everything from Southern humor to recipes to Bible teaching.  She has some fantastic guests, including several of Duck Dynasty's Robertson clan.

On a show recently, we heard songs from Si Robertson's CD, Me and My Smokin' Hot Honey.  Si's son and daughter-in-law were guests that day, and they gave away some CDs and duck calls.  Hub walked in while I was putting my name in the pot to win, so he goes to his laptop and enters, too.  He won a duck call signed by Si.

It is cute, and we love that it is personally autographed, but we don't really know what to do with it now.  I have no need to call ducks, and I'm not sure what I would do with them if they came when I called. But for some odd reason, we are just thrilled to own it, and I'm sure there will be stories born from it. Thanks, Shellie!

Shellie's new book, Heart Wide Open, is a beautiful story about increasing our faith and loving God more.  I highly recommend it!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Community Garden

Thanks to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and all the other sponsors listed on the sign, Florence has its first and very popular community garden.

Hub, who needed volunteer hours to complete his Master Gardener certification, did a lot of work helping build these 4' x 8' raised beds. There are approximately fifty raised beds, and all of them are full.

The raised beds were constructed using pressure-treated lumber, then filled with compost, some of it consisting of decomposed trash from ginning cotton.  Soil tests were done, then lime and commercial fertilizer were added. Each bed was irrigated.

First choice of the beds was given to veterans; then to people who do not have access to land to grow a garden; people who are physically unable to garden traditional, non-raised bed gardens, and 
 those economically unable to build a garden. Unfortunately, there was not enough for everyone who wanted one.

There is a large variety of plants, and almost everyone has squash and tomatoes planted. 

This ripe tomato is a Cherokee purple.  The owner of this bed must have put in big plants; most of the tomatoes are not ready yet.

Love that globe basil in the upper right corner.

I'm guessing this family loves their eggplant.

Old Glory in the basil.  There are various windmills and other decorations, including one garden gnome.

This bed is all herbs and flowers, and the butterflies were swarming!

Pink bee balm, Monarda didyma, one of my favorite plants.

The Alabama Extension office is located very close to the garden.  Every week day during the growing season, there are two master gardeners there to answer gardening questions.  If they are unable to answer the questions, they are linked in to the Auburn Extension service for additional information.  The extension office also has written information available for new or forgetful gardeners.