Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Scripture: Kindness

The desire of a man is his kindness: 

and a poor man is better than a liar.

~Proverbs 19:22

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama

Monte Sano State Park is built on the eastern slopes and top of Monte Sano Mountain in Huntsville, Alabama.  The park was built in part by the Civilian Conservation Corps and opened in August, 1938.

Monte Sano is a Spanish term meaning Mountain of Health.

The park offers lodging in rustic cabins, camping, picnicking, and many hiking and biking trails.

I was there last week with a few of my favorite people for a writing retreat.

It was dark when we finished and started home. I was amazed at the lack of light pollution, with a busy city humming right over the mountain top.  It was dark enough to see innumerable stars and easy to imagine that we were the only people for miles around.

They are open from 7:00 AM until sundown for day use.  
We are planning to spend the day there this fall after the leaves change. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

I'm From Gravel Roads

I'm From Gravel Roads
by Wanda Robertson
I am from pea shelling and pinching pennies; from Vick's salve and Syrup of Black Draught.

I am from the Tennessee hills, with its lush creek bottoms and rocky ridges, where panthers screamed, thunder shook the house, and whippoorwills lulled us to sleep.

I am from corn fields and morning glories, black walnuts and hog killings, wood piles and canned vegetables, poke sallet and fresh promises.

I am from big people.  I am from sharecroppers and quilters, from the scattered clans named Stricklin and Gean.

I am from the weary with calloused hands and burned necks.

I am from moonshiners and midwives, herbal healers and hell-fire preachers.  I am from Shall We Gather at the River and I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry.

I'm from the South, from catfish and clotheslines and chasing chickens for dinner, from homemade ice cream and blackberry cobbler; from the cotton pickers, the recyclers, and the storytellers that crowd my mind.

I am from Eve, the Scots-Irish, the Germans, the slow-talking, the stubborn, and the lasting.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Buttermilk/Honey Bread

There is nothing better than homemade bread.  The second best thing is how the house smells as it is baking. I make bread from several different recipes, but I needed to use up some buttermilk today.  This is how I make buttermilk/honey bread.  

Pour 1/4 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 tablespoon yeast, about the same as one packet.  I buy yeast in bulk at Sam's; it is much cheaper that way.  Let it proof for 5 minutes.

Heat 2 cups of buttermilk until it is warm; NOT boiling.

This is 1/3 cup honey.  We use local honey made by a friend.  I have found that some of the honey at the supermarket has corn syrup added.

1/4 cup butter, melted just enough to be liquid and warm.

1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon baking soda (or sody, as some folks call it).

Add the buttermilk, honey, salt, and soda to the yeast mixture and mix together.

This blue Kitchen-Aid mixer was my Christmas gift last year.  I made bread forty years without one, so it is not required.  A hand-held mixer works just as well.

That is my fancy bread flour container on the right.  It is a restaurant-quality plastic bucket.  We buy bread flour at Sam's in twenty-five pound bags for under $8, and store it in these buckets.

Add three cups bread flour to the mixture and make a smooth dough. It takes 2-3 minutes of mixing.

Add the butter and mix again. 

Add three more cups of bread flour until dough is stiff.  Knead for about five minutes.

Put dough in a large greased bowl and turn until all the dough is greased.

Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled; about an hour and a half.  What?! You don't use your Christmas towels all year?

After it has risen, punch the dough down and smooth out on a floured board.

Cut the dough in half, and shape into two loaves.  You can put them in loaf pans, but I like to shape them and cook them on a baking sheet.  Sometimes, mine doesn't get done in the middle if I put it in pans.

This is about as rebellious as I get.  Let rise again for thirty minutes or so, then bake at 400 degrees for thirty minutes.  You can cover the top with aluminum foil if you want a lighter crust.

When the bread is done, brush it with butter.  I so wish y'all could smell this! Nothing else to do now but enjoy.

We love it warm with herbs and olive oil.  I bought this great bread tray from John and Beth Moody at First Fridays and it is perfect.

My mama made biscuits every morning of her life but rarely made bread in a loaf.  The first time I tried to make bread, we were amazed at how easy it was.  In fact, someone very near and dear to me couldn't believe I had made something that good.  It is not hard to make; it just takes some patience.  It is definitely worth the effort.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This Old House

When we are driving in the country and see old houses like this one, I always think about the song This Old House. The song was written by Stuart Hamblen, and you can find the lyrics below.

The story goes that Hamblen was hunting with his friend, John Wayne, when they came upon an old house in the mountains.  Inside, they found the body of a man, guarded by his dog.  Hamblen's song came from that experience.

This Old House 
written by 
Stuart Hamblen

This old house once knew my children
This old house once knew my wife
This old house was home and shelter as we fought the storms of life
This old house once rang with laughter
This old house heard many shouts
Now she trembles in the darkness when the lightnin` walks about

Ain`t gonna need this house no longer
Ain`t gonna need this house no more
Ain`t got time to fix the shingles
Ain`t got time to fix the floor
Ain`t got time to oil the hinges
Nor to mend the window pane
Ain`t gonna need this house no longer
I`m getting ready to meet the saints

This old house is getting shaky
This old house is getting old
This old house lets in the rain and
This old house lets in the cold
On my knees I`m getting chilly
But I feel no fear or pain
`Cause I see an angel peeking through
A broken window pane

Ain`t gonna need this house no longer
Ain`t gonna need this house no more
Ain`t got time to fix the shingles
Ain`t got time to fix the floor
Ain`t got time to oil the hinges
Nor to mend the window pane
Ain`t gonna need this house no longer
I`m getting ready to meet the saints

Now my old hound dog lies asleeping
He don`t know I`m gonna leave
Else he`d wake up by the fireplace
And he`d sit there, howl and grieve
But my hunting days are over
I aint gonna hunt the `coon no more
Gabriel done brought in chariot
When the wind blew down the door

Ain`t gonna need this house no longer
Ain`t gonna need this house no more
Ain`t got time to fix the shingles
Ain`t got time to fix the floor
Ain`t got time to oil the hinges
Nor to mend the window pane
Ain`t gonna need this house no longer
I`m getting ready to meet the saints

Click here to hear a version by the Cathedral Quartet. Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Snuff glasses

Last Thursday night, Hub and I went to the Bailey Auction House auction on Chisholm Road north of Florence. I was able to buy these eleven snuff glasses for $4.  SCORE!!!

I buy these old glasses just about every time they are offered at auction.  We love to use them for drinking glasses, and so do lots of other people we know.  There are some lead crystal
drinking glasses in our kitchen cabinet, but I always get the snuff glass. 

In the box of glasses we bought last week, we found this little tin, almost full of snuff.  Hub said we could keep it to use on insect bites.  Grandma kept a little can like this in her apron pocket, and refilled it regularly with snuff from the 8-ounce glass.

This can is not too old, because it has a UPC code and a warning. Tooth loss? Gum disease?

My toothless grandmother told us she started dipping snuff when she was six years old.  Her teeth were long gone before I was born, and her tongue and gums were always dark-colored from the snuff.  She enjoyed it until the day she died.  I know it is human nature to hate change, but I think the fact that snuff-dipping is no longer common is a cultural change that we can appreciate.

It is only logical that these snuff glasses will become rare as time goes on, so I'm buying enough to last a long time.

It doesn't take much to make me happy.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Scripture: Delight

The Lord your God is with you. . .
      He will take great delight in you,
          He will quiet you with His love, 
                He will rejoice over you with singing. 

 ~Zephaniah 3:17

Saturday, August 23, 2014


When our first-born son and our daughter-in-law announced that there was a child expected in a few months, we were happy, but really didn't know what to expect.  After all, we had never been grandparents before.

When she arrived, all that changed.  The little pink bundle with big blue eyes and dark hair brought us joy we had not dreamed possible and is not easily explained.  We would change our schedule in a second if it meant we could spend time with her. She and her little sister, who arrived almost four years later, spent every Friday night with us for years; it was some of the best days of our lives.

We thanked God for her.  We prayed that she would be happy and healthy.

Today, she is moving to her college dorm room, and she is so excited.  She's taking her plans, books, linens, all the clothes she will need, and a piece of our hearts.  A great big piece of our hearts.