Category Archives: time

Saturday’s Simplicity

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Some Saturdays can be activity-filled and complicated with household chores, shopping, and cleaning, “get up and get going” like a weekday.  This crisp November Saturday morning I slept in.  The sunny autumn day Dean and I began with chive & cheese scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls knowing we needed a substantial breakfast to get the autumn leaf and brush cleaning completed. Dean captured some lovely photos while in the yard.  And my thoughts drift to a subject at hand to facilitate at an employee enrichment class in a couple of weeks.  Simplicity.  Some refer to a simple lifestyle as minimalism.  Whatever you call it, it is living in the present moment, and enjoying life, love, family, and friends.  There are only a few basics to possess … and everything else is just stuff.  It is up to you to figure out what you can live with and what you can live without.  So what can you give away from that pantry, garden, closet, or garage?  What do you need to cling to for substance for your day today?  I have confidence you will make a wise choice.message-on-a-wine-cork

 

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Colorful Reflections

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The holiday weekend marked the baptism of our youngest grandchild, Elise. Beautiful evening ceremony.  Lovely child.  God with us.  Labor Day seems to signify the end of summer. Colorful fields with changing hues of amber and purple for the harvest season.  A whole summer of prolific arugula is about to end although my growing season continues with my herbs.  I sowed more leaf lettuce and basil a month ago in hopes to yield a fall crop.  See how mother nature takes her course.  Next year I will introduce a new herb to my quilt of culinary herb patches.  Lavender.  So I will learn how to prepare the soil for my first crop of organic lavender.  Lavender lemonade is my favorite summertime beverage, and a lavender tisane is a soothing, calming herbal tea enjoyed before nap time or bed time. This time next year I hope to harvest my own fresh grown lavender at the Deanna Greens And Garden Art plot seated in Boone’s Hollow Farm.  Not sure if little Elise will be quite ready for a tea party then, but maybe soon in the many days that follow …

The Return Of Scrabble

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Scrabble DayMy earlier January blog posts I have written about many winter time musings, though I forgot to mention Scrabble, and its return with vigor at work and at home. You may have to refer to my summertime “Scrabble Words” blog post on July 18 to understand the history and humor behind my Scrabble games. With the frigid cold air and wind, I have to stay indoors. Cold-induced angiodema is not anything to mess with. So happy my husband along with my dog and cat do not mind my indoor exercise routine in the mornings, because I miss my walks on campus this winter. Scrabble replaces the walks during breaks and lunch time. Words appearing on the Scrabble board this week include “vast”,”port”,”pew”,”vow”,”foggy”,”hoard”,”wrecker”,and “tomb”. There is some inner meaning in the choice of words a person uses, I truly believe this. As you see my words range from the openness of “vast” and “port” and closing words of “wrecker” and “tomb”. Clearly, I am having a multitude of feelings, consciously or subconciously. Dean and I’s lives are at a fork in the road, with many roads to choose from. Each experience leads to another. More details will come out later, but I am praying for guidance for Dean and I. Will you please pray the same? Ultimately, I want to look at the whole of my life and see it spells “love” at each port.
Love Letters Heart Collage

Whirl Wind Day

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Frozen Leaves
“Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves are whirling fast.”

~ Sara Coleridge

Veterans Day means another day off for the government worker. In the past, Dean and I have used this day for a long weekend trip, catch up on doctors’ appointments, and/or chores around the house or greenhouse. This year the whirl wind day encompassed doctors’ appointments for all three of us. The cold air literally blew in while we traveled 1 hour north for our labrador’s annual veterinary exam. We visited my father’s cementary site. Old flowers withered and brown, and I forgot to bring a sprig or two of colorful leaves and mums, Dad’s favorite flower. Not sure the wind would have allowed them to stay. The whirl winds brought the last of the leaves down, and a stark-gray filled this November afternoon. It followed us back to St. Charles County, Missouri.
My youngest daughter is in the hospital once again with major back issues. We make our way over to their apartment to watch after the two grandkids when they arrive home from school while our son-in-law stays with my daughter at the hospital. A congenial disorder she found out a few days ago, same as her older sister. My heart aches. A mother despises the pain her child is in no matter how old the child is. A sense of comfort envelopes me as I spend time with Libby and Brendan. The grace of God is evident in this family. We gathered under fleece throws while watching a Disney classic. The wind whipped about outside the patio window, frozen leaves nestled in the corner of the deck. Their three cats take turns for a gander as the howls come and go all evening. Spits of snow tell us winter will follow this whirl wind day. Good-bye autumn, my achey joints are not ready for winter yet.

The Dust of Everyday Life

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At times life can get messy or just plain mundane. A change of pace is in order, but another trip north isn’t feasible. So this past week and weekend I spent my leisure time in St. Charles, Missouri as well as worked my second job in the same historical town. The weekend I sold spices and gave out culinary advise to visitors and locals while at the spice shoppe on historic Main Street. One of my creative expressions, the culinary arts comes alive while there. Thursday night was an open house affair at the Foundry Art Centre in Frenchtown, where the French immigrants settled in this town over 200 years ago. Met some local artists, and viewed some creative art pieces in their studios. For the audience, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Aristotle tells us. I think and feel when I gander at artwork. While at the art centre I entered into a raffle for a pair of tickets to a September concert featuring the Man In Black, a Johnny Cash retro singer along with his band. And I won that raffle! Friday night was a catch-up double date with my brother and sister-in-law at Picasso’s Coffee House on historic Main Street. We talked about their trip to Hawaii and our trip to Minnesota, and about the kids and grandkids. Picasso’s has all the artsy ambiance that its name signifies and sharing “the art of coffee”. Folks sipping on coffee, tea, or spirits listening to a local jazz trio, Peaches. A couple of other locals brought their saxophones billowing high notes to the low bass, so it made the group a lively quint for a few songs. A famous Picasso quote is painted onto a wall of the local establishment. “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” For the artist, musician, culinaire, author, and gardener a cleansing is experienced while engaged in their art form. Creating pots and gardens with plants and garden art definitely does this for me. I transplanted blooming red geraniums into the large planters outside the greenhouse this weekend. These 4-month old cuttings had good root systems, ready for a broaden growing space. Coming up with our signature flower, the geranium must be it as I primp and fuss with them everytime I am at the farm. I am learning how to grow them organically, friendly on the ecosystem. Once I had a geranium for over 6 years, bringing it indoors every winter. It would shed leaves through the dormant months, and I would wonder if it would come back once May finally arrived. Every now and then it would bloom while near the kitchen patio door, white snow in the contrasting background. Always in a terra cotta pot awaiting the spring and summer months. One year for Christmas gifts I created some book marks for my foodie friends with this saying,“Friendship, like geraniums bloom in the kitchen.” Not sure who to credit for those words, as many people have quoted it, but it is true on both accounts. I want to take a try growing scented and ivy varieties. Though the old-fashioned red contrasting with the broad green leaves are my favorite palette. I will bring my geraniums inside late autumn, sheltered from the cold, non-electric greenhouse and outdoors. Pruning and propagating once again for next spring. Life continues …

The Year of The Mattress

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ValhallaValhallaMap
Dean and I along with our labrador-flat coat retriever mix, Midnight arrive at the 60+ year old cabin situated on Island Lake just at sundown. Oranges, pinks, and purples kiss the lake “good night” and welcome us. It’s been a long haul from St. Charles County, Missouri to this Minnesota paradise. But so much worth the road trip. Weekday and weekend warriors cannot stop on vacation either. We had taken the extra long route following the Mississippi River highways. So a 12-hour trip became a 15-hour trip. The meandering scenery had slowed our pace down before arriving at this moment. Midnight climbs out of the SUV from his secure kennel into what I think my father described to him as heaven. Our dog gazed wide-eyed at this expansive beautiful lake recounting the aquatic tales his deceased master had told him, I am sure. Into the lake he went, lapping water and going for his doggy swim in Island Lake. Just 2 minutes to realize heaven was here, and my father’s spirit present.
Our first night at the cabin we unloaded the SUV, then gathered jackets and a flashlight onward bound by foot just up the road with our dog. The little green cabin had folks congregated there near a campfire. We met up with my childhood friends and greeted new ones from as far away as Norway. Midnight gets acquainted with more labradors, the natural breed of our 4-legged friends in the land of 10,000 lakes. Before we know it, the time passes midnight with the campfire still aflame. Embers will be there in the morning to start a skillet breakfast. We head back to our lakeside cabin, choosing the front bedroom of the 2-bedroom pine-lined dwelling. I climb into bed too tired to have a spring from the mattress just about empale me. We’ll sleep in the back bedroom tonight and deal with the mattress issue tomorrow. We discovered the back bedroom mattress was not much better as Dean and I are forced to meet in the middle. This mattress’ sunken center provided cozy quarters for this exhausted yet still honeymooning couple. Our backs ache in the morning begging for more support. Dean flips over the empaling mattress to its other side to discover the year of the mattress … 1971. Why that is the first year my father along with my mother and their 4 children ventured to this heavenly northern destination in a Chevy Impala. Now don’t cast too much judgement on this mattress date. The cabins are only used 3 – 4 months out of the year, so a normal 10-year mattress can go to 30 – 40 years. So at 42-years old, it might be due for replacing.
Electronics, computer and TV are non-existent in the cabins. While on this get away, Dean chose to use his basic cell phone on occasion. I took a vacation from it all. This post was written last week, scrawled onto my paper journal … I awoke this morning before sunrise. Is it night still? No clock to check as we are in a time warp at this northern lake retreat. In just a few minutes I see a tinge of blue in the black sky. I take this moment to observe the day’s beginning. I slip on my jeans and sweatshirt and quietly step onto the screened porch. Those moments of complete silence, no human awake just nature and I welcome the morning in this neck of the woods. Our dog, Midnight stretches on the porch and awaits at the porch door to be let out. He, too embraces morning’s arrival this day. There is something special about living in the present moment. All senses akeen, see the colors change before my eyes recognizing the picturesque treeline before me. The loons cry out as the fog lifts from the lake. Misty vapors keep my skin and clothes damp, I smell and taste the lake, and I remember my father’s love of this place. His planning, mapping, and research of his yearly fishing trip started in January when the tree farming and landscape designing was at a hault. My father was a planner, and I too like him. Yet this present moment reels me back to reality. I would have missed this unforgetable sunrise had I rolled over and slept in another morning of my vacation … ducks, a blue heron, and even a night owl calling it a night show themselves amongst the pines, birches, and cattails. The dragonflies are now flitting about, illuminating more color for this overcast day. The brisk morn may see a rain shower before the warm noon sun. No boat on the lake, that I hear or see, and 2 hours into this day … In 1971 and several years to follow, my father would have been out on the lake by now catching walleye and bass for that evening’s dinner. Way before my siblings or I and definitely my mother opened an eyelid. I miss my father today like everyday. This place called Valhalla is heaven on earth, and was my father’s favorite place while he was alive on earth. Somehow he is with Midnight, Dean, and I. It is called eternal life …
For my siblings and I Valhalla meant playing with friends all day with very little chores. We would play h-o-r-s-e in the barn, swim in the cold lake, boat rides, hide-n-seek with the fireflies lighting the path, and a campfire with songs and roasted marshmallows. Those young teenage years I wanted to be on the receiving end of another kiss from a cute Norwegian boy, my Minnesota friends’ visiting cousin. To me Valhalla is about people, kind-hearted genuine folks. The mild summer and lake fish bring the people. But the people bring life to the vacation. The summer visitors enjoy fish fries, potlucks, smokey breakfast skillets, and campfire tales. This year the fish fry, skillet breakfast, fire grilled pizzas, and lemon rice krispies treats make the food highlights. More Norwegian cousins entertain the family and friends this year. I miss my Norwegian friend from my childhood, and his cousin promises to persuade his return to Valhalla next summer. Initimate moments we share about the death and memory of loved ones. Songs were sung at church and at the campfire. Yes, my Scrabble game had kinder words reflecting my kinder, at peace thoughts this restful week. The year of the mattress did not reflect the oldness of 1971, but the goodness.

The Stuff That Chicken Soup Is Made Of

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Chicken-Rice-Soup
It is a homemade chicken soup day today, as cool April showers water the earth. This spring keeps blowing in drastic changes in the air, with temperatures climbing into the 70’s and then dip down to the 30’s within hours of each other. Storms and tornadoes become a regular springtime threat in Missouri. This year it is flash flood warnings, and now the mighty Mississippi is cresting in some small local rivertowns. One of my favorite comfort foods is homemade chicken soup. During cold and/or rainy weather, nothing beats the aroma in the kitchen and flavor at mealtime.
My homemade chicken soup recipe includes fresh chicken and vegetable stock, herbs, and garlic are key. Organic brings out the flavors. It’s clean, no artifical product to dull the tastes. I roasted a chicken fryer for our Sunday dinner with plans to use the leftovers later. I simply put a fryer in the crockpot, added no-salt lemon pepper, a pinch of kosher salt, fresh thyme, and 32 oz organic vegetable broth. This slow-cooked for 8 hours while working at the spice shoppe. Sometimes I use a different herb mixture such as herbs de provence or an Italian blend. After our Sunday dinner, I diced 2 celery ribs and 2 carrots, minced 2 garlic cloves, and added to the existing stock from the roasted chicken. This time it is chicken-rice soup, so I added a 1/2 cup of brown rice. (If it is chicken-noodle soup, I add rice, gluten-free noodles.) I cooked for about 30 minutes on the stovetop. Then I added more vegetable broth and the leftover chicken chunks. The soup pot is in the fridge for lunches and future dinners. This is what we will have for dinner tonight. Steaming hot soup and a warm French baquette! Ummmmm!

Alternative Energy Sources

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Dean & I are waiting to hear word about our access to electric for the greenhouse.  According to the electric co-op, the barn down the hill may not have enough ampage to heat, circulate air, and provide light in the nightime for our 1300+ square foot greenhouse.  We have redesigned the greenhouse so half will be a greenhouse (so 650 square feet needs electricity), and the other half will be a lathe or hoop house for raised beds of vegetables to grow 9 months out of the year.  I wanted to have those beds made already, with a winter crop of organic spinach, garlic, and root vegetables, but family matters have taken priority.  Alternative energy sources will be sought, if need be.  In the meantime our plants are sheltered in two different garages with “plant lights” and space heaters to be installed this week to keep them green and alive during this transition.  I dislike this in-between time, but did not have the heart to let the hard freeze kill the green life we have cared for this past year.  Cannot believe, but it will be 1 year mid-November when we bought the greenhouse and adopted everything in it.    Do you have any ideas for alternative energy sources in Missouri?   Please share.

They Are Mine Alright!

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So these are my grandchildren, Libby, Ella, Brendan (in the back) with Eli and Hannah (in the front).  Yes, they are mine alright.  They are loud and rowdy when they get together, like they had not seen each other in ages and catching up with each other’s news.  They see each other fairly often as their mothers are best friends and sisters.  I love my grandchildren despite their loud presence.  I have actually learned to relax with children as I get older.  It is guaranteed, they will bring a smile to my face and make me belly laugh when I am with them.   Angels they are not, unless they are sound asleep on their pillows.  This photo was taken on Easter at my parents’, their great-grandparents’ home in Pike County, Missouri.  Libby is a precocious 8-year old, smart as a whip, and will say things as she sees them.  She is a sponge with science subjects such as plants, likes to garden and camp.  Libby thinks she is the ultimate authority on some matters; therefore, it is her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and teachers who instruct her differently with her reluctance.  School of hard knocks, you know.  She reminds me of her mother, my daughter Elisabeth.   I adore them both.  Then there is 6-year old Ella.  She is one investigator, discovers and researches things.  Inquiring minds want to know!  She is a peaceful child, though can let stubbornness ruin “the  moment” unless Mom or Dad steps in.  Ella resembles me in so many ways.  My Dean calls her “Mini Anna”.  Then there is the 1st born grandson, my 5-year old Brendan.  Reading in full sentences since age 4, on the go as a new adventure character, wrestling with Dad, yet makes time to cuddle with Mom.  Now there is one long word to describe 2-year old Eli … whirlwind!  Maybe another word … tornado!  Eli is into everything!  And definitely has those “terrible two” moments.  But he will bring a smile to my face when he says “I like ‘hot cream'” rather than ‘ice cream’ or when he sits next to me and wants to read a book.  Well, I just love to read to children, especially my grandchildren.  And finally, there is my 1st grandchild, Hannah who will be 11-years old in November.   Her nickname “bug” dubbed before she even walked fits her well.  Hannah loves nature and animals, bugs included.  I have a ladybug stepping stone her mother and her designed for me when she was a preschooler.  Hannah is a “social bug” now, loves to be in the know of the raising teenage movie and singing stars, and has limited access to online chats.  I imagine a cellular phone would be her 1st choice for a birthday or Christmas gift.  See if Mom & Dad are ready for that yet!?  Meantime, journaling and creating art are great outlets for her.  Mine, five wonderful grandchildren!

Time

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“Time, you left me standing there
Like a tree growing all alone
The wind just stripped me bare
Stripped me bare
Time, the past has come and gone, gone
The future’s far away
An hour only lasts for one second, one second

Time without courage, time without fear
Is just wasted, wasted, wasted time
Oh, oh, oh, ooh ooh ooh

Time, why you punish me?”

These lyrics from Hootie and the Blowfish’s song “Time” keep playing in my mind tonight.  This post is continuation of my thoughts in my last post written 5 hours ago.  I cried when I walked upon that boat dock at Island Lake last week.  I felt my father’s spirit with me, though in body he could not be there with me.  Valhalla was Dad’s favorite place to do his favorite thing, fish.  Such an appropriate name. “Valhalla” is the Viking’s heaven after he dies from warfare.  My father has been fighting such a battle.  Dad’s days are running short.  He is dying of brain cancer, and I keep thinking about his life.  Dean & I visited his father, my 96-year old grandfather last evening.  Grandpa Earl tells us stories of his childhood and my father’s childhood.  Yet he is cognitive enough to ask about his oldest son, my father.  A copy of a photo arrived in the mail today from my cousin.  A 1945 family portrait of my Grandpa Earl, Grandma Anna, Dad, and Uncle Earl.  Mom called this evening on the way home from work.  A hospital bed is being delivered to their Bowling Green home.  Yes, the bed my father will be in when he passes from this life.  God, I am so thankful for my father, Martin Kenneth Bates.  He has been strength to this family for many years.  And now we are his strength.  He will be with You soon.  And I will miss him greatly.  I do not want pain for him, just Your peace, comfort, and rest.