Iced Tea Chat: Breaking Silence

Do come in dears...I'm attempting another chat, my fifth or sixth try in four weeks.  It's not that I don't have things to say, it's been trying to determine which I mean to say and how I shall say them that has stymied me.  Well that and being tired.  It requires energy to do that little something extra, even an Iced Tea Chat.  I have lemon and limes and oranges and mint...Which would you like to add to your glass?

You'll note we've changed from coffee.  It's lovely outdoors, warm and sunny today but the week behind was a typical cool week, as it so often is prior to Easter.   We had rain for the past two days but it's lovely today, all blue and green.

I've shared many of my activities these past few weeks.  Between the little boys, the daily gardening and some of my household activities,  I've been busy.  It's been a nice bit of busy, not overwhelming, just enough to feel the day has been full and to gladly settle into my chair at day's end.

We have an annual visitor on our back porch, a pretty little bird...

The Sedge Wren is a tiny bird with a remarkably lovely song.  A few years ago, one decided to build a nest on my back porch, right in the bottom of a wet flower pot.  It seemed a pretty poor choice of nesting places but reading up on the habits of the bird, I left it alone.  Eventually there were eggs, then hatchlings and a constant struggle to keep Maddie's nosey self out of the nest.

When I bought the old metal kitchen cabinet to store things in, we set it up on the back porch and the bird opted to nest on the shelf right on top of the extension cord.  John refused to do any work that required that cord until the bird was done with her nesting.  She nested there two or three years and then we moved the cabinet off the porch last year and I figured that was that.

The nest should be out in the weeds of the field. This bird builds a lovely delicate nest with a hole on the side.  This is what a nest looks like in it's proper place:

I moved a wooden tool caddy to a chair seat a couple of weeks ago so I could shove some more stuff on the table by the back door.  I left it on the chair for a couple of days and then one morning Bess and I were walking out on the back porch and I laughed.  I showed the nest to Bess.  "I guess she's found her spot again this year."  There was a perfect nest.  And you know it was right at Maddie's nose level.

I took time to turn the chair around and set things carefully in place so the bird can get to it but the back of the chair will hopefully deter Maddie somewhat.  I know the bird well enough after all this time that she won't move the nest or abandon it until she's done.  I don't know if any of her babies ever have survived.  One day they are there and another day they are not, same as the nest suddenly appears, the babies seemingly disappear.

In the meantime, we'll have many 'scares' as the bird will suddenly fly out of the nest when we walk across the porch.  In mornings, when I'm content in my sunny kitchen corner reading my Bible, I'll hear the most beautiful birdsong.  When I look out the window she will be sitting on the railing singing her heart out.   Maddie will continually try to head butt the chair and startle the bird and when the bird is out of the nest, Maddie will be sure to chase her across the yard.

I know many people don't like birds to nest near their homes.  And frankly, I do find Wren's habits a bit of an inconvenience and a source of worry, because you see, I don't want the babies to come to harm from my critters who are just natural predators.  But apparently there is something homely about my back porch that makes Wren feel it is her chosen nesting spot.  I think next year I shall put up a shelf for her, out of reach of cat and dogs.  I shall have to decorate it because she doesn't seem to care for empty spaces, she likes stuff about her.

sad note:  I went out to take photos of  the nest and found it messed up and all but one egg broken.  The nest had been abandoned.  

The past two weeks have seen me doing a good deal of yard (hard) work.  I've hauled in a dozen bags of mulch which is the bare tiptop of all I need.  I have dug up plants and divided them even though it's not the season for some of them to be dug or divided.  I'm of  a mind that the best season for getting work done is the one in which you have time and equipment and weather and energy that allows it.  I have all four at present.

I have planted things that I had left to languish in pots far too long and I've picked up a million limbs, pulled up weeds, trimmed back dead stems and branches, filled in holes, dug new holes, and mulched.  It's taken a lot of energy but I find that I have gone from being able to work only every third day to working in the yard daily.  There are only a few small spaces to show for all that work, but I have something to show for it, so I am encouraged enough to go on with it.    There's nothing to show up in a photo yet but we notice what's been done.  However, I've been asked to share and so I shall.
the rose bed

the herb bed

Poison bed...actually all weeded out but still a work in progress

the corner bed.  To the left is the hydrangea I planted and to the right is a half barrel of lilies.  I plan to put a second hydrangea in this bed about where the lilies are now.

The Aldi coral rose.  Wish I'd noted the variety name...and in the background the newly cleared and mulched bed about the Faith tree.

I spent a really pleasant few hours two Sundays ago on Katie's back porch.  It was one of our warmer days and she'd made me an afternoon cup of coffee, which is always a pleasant thing to share.   There's a rosebush right outside the window and a slight breeze that made a branch creak as it rubbed against the siding.  It is a subtle sound but after you've sat there for a little while, if conversation lulls, you become aware of it.  It's very soothing and I said to Katie how much it reminded me of the creak of a wood boat on waves.  She nodded.  "It's very peaceful.  I'm glad Dad didn't trim that one away when he was cutting back the rose bush this winter.  I like to sit here and listen to it while I have my coffee."

I know many of you are wondering about Katie.  The insurance has settled things up but Katie still has no car.  Her car was totaled in this accident.  There is not at present a car nor money to get her into one but I find I am not worried about it and she doesn't seem frustrated by it for the most part.  She spends time with a friend who has a car and now and then she calls me for something but not for big errands or anything as I thought she might need me.  I may be all wrong but she seems just as peaceful about this time in her life as I feel.

I think we both feel that every thing will work out as it  is meant to work out.  A car will be found.  She will be able to afford it.  Work will be found.  Things will all fall into place.   Right now is a pause of some sort, meant to allow her to work things out in her own head after a year of moving from one emotional crisis to another.  Sometimes we miss these places where we're meant to stop and let go of every thing and simply wait.  It's a hard thing to do!   Most humans are action driven.  We think we must DO something, as though stopping and waiting were a horrible thing, a giving up.  It isn't!  It's sometimes necessary, just as we must stop and wait at stop signs.  

I am speaking from personal experience.  I refused to stop in a crisis mode at one time so I got stopped hard.  I lost a great deal during that time including my stubborn refusal to allow anyone to help me.  I learned to take the help and thank people sincerely for it.  I learned who was willing to help and who was only there to tell me what an idiot they thought I was, and who had no time at all for me because I couldn't help them any longer.  It was a very revealing time for all that nothing appeared to be happening.

I'm glad that Katie has accepted the kinder pause that has come to her at this time.  That's not to say she hasn't worried about the how and when and where of it all, but she does at least recognize the part that says "Stop," which makes her a wiser young woman than I was.

Mama has been difficult of late.  She has the worry habit something fierce.  She worries about this and she worries about that and she constantly says "Something has to be done..." but immediately slaps down every single suggestion, or offer of help and then starts back up on the worry wheel immediately.  Frankly I find it exhausting, because she often demands that I be the one to 'do something', and insists that I listen to it all repeatedly.  There are issues that really need to be addressed to the persons responsible but she will not speak to them.  Instead she wails to me about it all and then gets upset with me because I won't (can't is the truth of it) do anything.  It's frustrating to say the least.

I try to be respectful and courteous and to bite my tongue.  I attempt to redirect conversations and to point out lovely sights or to relate something funny that I've watched or heard from Josh or Taylor,  but inevitably I get  exasperated and I snap.  And then we jump on a different hamster wheel of anger and hurt and we go round and round and round until she's satisfied that she's been justified in her feelings and has hurt me in some way and then  she goes back to the worry wheel and starts it all over again.

It reached a peak this past month and there were words.  I found I had to walk away for a bit and forgo all contact.   This pains me because I feel I am somehow being unreasonable or unkind.   It's not a fit of anger but simply a need to truly detach myself from a situation I find intolerable.

I chuckle as I share this because it sounds so ridiculous.   I can't even begin to share with you how emotionally intense I find it all and how draining it is.    I hate that nothing ever changes.    I don't suppose she's going to change at this late stage of her life.  So I must change somehow.  It's a very real struggle to figure it all out.

We have a spring project coming up.  We've contracted to have the PVC underpinning removed that has been on our home since we moved here.  We'll have it replaced with a cement board product.   This is something we've wanted to do for over 20 odd years, as long as we've lived here.  In fact, I personally lobbied for concrete blocks.  A neighbor just had hers done.  I say 'neighbor' because she lives on the main road that leads into our dirt road.  Neighborhood is a broad term in our area.

The neighbor was having her double wide blocked underneath and I mentioned to John several times how nice it would be to have ours done.  I kept thinking he'd stop and ask to speak to the 'boss' on the job and at least get a card.  He didn't.

So I came home one afternoon about three weeks ago and there they were working away.  The homeowner, whom I know very slightly (a former teacher of my children) was home and outdoors, so I stopped and asked her if I might speak to the job manager.  She gave me  go ahead and the gentlemen left his workers and followed me home and took measurements.  He said he'd get back with me and I waited.

And waited.

I am accustomed to this sort of thing in our rural counties.  My own brother is notorious for it.  It is a 'thing' apparently with every self-employed mechanic, contractor, etc.  Every now and then we get a quote and in fewer instances we get work done.

John said how hopeful he was that we'd be able to get the work done.  That was the first week.  The second week, I sat and wondered.  I hadn't been given a business card nor a phone number.  I had a name but no way of reaching the man because like all the rest of us, he seems to operate by cell phone.

Finally we got the call about 10 days ago.  John's initial reaction was not positive.  I've shared all about this on this blog in my weekly post so I won't share all of it again, but eventually he determined that it was a good thing to go ahead and do.  We don't have a start date but it's on Mr. Handyman's schedule of work.  So we wait some more.  Which is fine.  Naturally when we spend any of our savings we want to 'recover' it, so any waiting time we have between now and the job being done will be a little more time to save.

However, what I will repeat is something I said to John.  "At present, we're in a very liquid state."  It sounds an odd statement to make, but how often have you yourself said "When there's time there's no money, when there's money there's no time" about an improvement or purchase you wished to make? The old saying itself is about drought of some sort really.  We've certainly said it often enough!   Well the truth is that at this moment we have both opportunity, time and money.   It is indeed not a drought season for us at all.   It's time to get this done, just as it was time two years ago to do flooring and five years ago to get the back porch done.    You really do have to learn to recognize your circumstances.  It becomes a sort of habit really to say, "I can't..." and to feel frustrated about it all but there are times when we can and then we choose not to do something because the habit of thinking we can't has set in.

But it did make me stop and think about how I speak at times.  I can do what John calls "poor mouthing".   Poor mouthing  is the habit of constantly denying your financial health. Some people are just financial hypochondriacs.  I must remember not to complain  about our finances.   We  live modestly on a modest income.  We are careful.  We are not wealthy but we are in a healthy  financial state.

 It's been a couple of years since John was off on Passover, which fell on April 19, Friday night of this week.  We'd discussed Passover for a couple of months and prayed over how we should observe it.  John finally said to me, "We've made Shabat ours, it's not like everyone else might do it...So let's make Passover our own as well."   I agreed and then thought about how we'd do that.

I decided that the heavy cleaning before hand was something of the past, as was tossing every product with yeast in it.  I have not forgotten the lesson of the years when I did do these things.  At some point during the feast of unleavened bread I'd  come upon a plethora of bread crumbs or realize that some product I'd thought fine was actually hiding yeast in the list of ingredients for no reason known to man.  The 'hidden sin' always weighs heavily upon my spirit this time of year because I found that we never really eradicate it no matter how hard we try.

I set the table Friday night with a beautiful grey cloth with stars of David interwoven in it.  I had gone to the shed earlier this week and pulled out the Imari plate I found years ago in a thrift store with it's six separate patterns radiating from a seventh central design.  It is a perfect Seder plate.  I was reminded of how often God has provided beautiful things to use in our Shabbats as I washed the plate.

I put a bowl of salt water in the center of the plate and around it a boiled egg, a chicken thigh bone to represent the Lamb shank, a romaine leaf, a small stalk of celery, horseradish and a mixture of apple with almonds and grape juice.   Our Shabat bread was Matza.   It was a lovely time of prayer and thanksgiving and with that Seder plate and the Easter weekend upon us, very poignant.

We didn't do anything further special for the holy weekend.  We'd intentionally skipped church because the traffic and crush of visitors is always great.  We planned to watch the service online, but couldn't due to technical issues.  Impatience wanted to reign but honestly there's always a path to something more if we're just patient.  What we got instead was a two part series done by Robert Morris on the week before the final Passover of Christ.  It was enlightening in so many ways and gave a deeper understanding of the fulfillment of prophecy leading to the Cross.

Well dears, I'm afraid it's not a particularly chatty post really, but I've done my best for you.  Perhaps now I've broken silence once more the words will flow more naturally.  Have a blessed day.

The Week Ahead: What's Really Ahead?

We never know what's ahead of us, do we?  Here I am enjoying the spring in my home, trying to get my yards as I've dreamed of seeing them, organizing every spot inside and out, decorating and working away and I'm offered a job.  I don't know if I'll actually be hired...It's one thing to say "Would you like a job?" to someone on a whim and another to actually hire someone who hasn't worked in a traditional job in 23 years.  Well I have my resume ready to go in...

I find it all both exciting and scary at once which is usually the way things hit me.   I've found a lot lately that I have too much time on my hands.  I mean, I get a great deal done and I work hard, I do, as you all always comment, but the opposite side of that truth is that I have a LOT of spare time.  After all, my home has no small children on a regular basis, so things tend to stay fairly neat and clean and I've developed routines that work for me to keep it rater nice.  With John's schedule I have great blocks of time when I can sail through my routines and spend a morning out shopping and come home to nothing at all to do all afternoon and evening long.  Even with my hobbies there's only so much time I wish to spend doing those.  It becomes a bore after a bit.  So yes, I do have time on my hands and I've felt for sometime that I could be doing something more to benefit us.  Perhaps this is it.

That's the exciting side...Now for the scary side.  How shall I arrange my time if  it does come through?  Can I handle a job and all I'm doing now and still have time for the grandchildren?  Will it interfere with John's spontaneity? What if I can't manage it?  What if it's all too much?

What sort of salary would I earn?  Would it truly be worth my time?  Will it affect the other savings I make, in eating up time I might have spent doing other things?  And then there are the hopeful things:  Might I manage enough income to do that big push for savings I'd wanted to get done?  To be able to really manage help to others and get things done for my home renovations?  So many questions and no answers.

 My head could spin, but each time I experience the rise of questions, I say "Shush!"  If God had a hand in delivering the offer, then He shall have a hand in all the rest of it.   It's my personal experience there's always MORE when God is apparently taking something away and you just think you're being left with LESS, be it money He's moved you to pledge or give or whether it's time. His subtraction always ends in multiplication.  And there's my peace.

The week is already shaping up full of the usual home doings.  And let's face it, home is always going to be the main focus. Everything else is just gravy on the potatoes.

Last Week:  I worked hard in the yard until I ran out of mulch.  I also got a load of poison and a big doctor bill.  Ho hum.

 I cleaned the shed when I ran out of mulch even though that wasn't on my list for the week.  I was on a roll of being busy and that worked in my favor.

I got quite a few things cleared up in the guest room but didn't hang pictures.  I find I really don't like the quilt very much.  It's the hunter green checks that bother me about it.  I have the iron bed pulled forward so I can start to work on painting that for the room.  I find more and more I want to make this room a retreat of sorts for whomever needs it be they someone in this house or a guest.

I worked up a quarterly budget, even though April is nearly over and I was surprised at how well that went, even with the ending of the additional overtime.  I can't save at the rate I'd hoped to but I can still make additional savings.  

I got the pantry and freezer inventory done.  I am pleased with the results of that and find I'm in good standing in most areas with just a few low areas.  I rearranged the shelves in the closet and moved items about so that it appeared more logical.  I now can put in a small shelf unit and perhaps another bin.

No need of worrying about John's spontaneous moods...There were none and I confess I was a bit disappointed.  All that time off and not one day away from home.  But then again, I was fairly miserable with itching anyway and he said he felt really rested for the first time in months, so there you are.

Meals:  All the roast chicken meals went off fine as did the cheese burger menu and then things went kaplooey.  Our meal out was sort of a split deal.  We picked up deli fried chicken on a Sunday and brought it home to reheat with our own sides and then we picked up a deli sandwich for supper while we waited on my prescription to  be filled on Thursday evening.  That was that.

Reading this weekend:  

The Prudent Homemaker, ten part series titled Eat for 40 Cents a Day in which she shares the many ways she fed her family of 7 in 2011 and 2012 for less than the cost of a pack of gum.  I don't know if the prices translate as low in 2019 but it's for certain that her saving ways would definitely net a huge savings for any household of 1 or 10 or more.  Start HERE and click Next Post at the bottom of each post to read through the whole series. I found it all good sensible advice and very inspirational.

I heard a mention of another vlog on YouTube, Penny Pinching Granny.  I listened to one  of her postings and it really touched me with her constant mention of how God blesses her in her need.   It led me to listen to a few more.  Again, there might not be anything new to seasoned frugal folks but it's certainly inspirational what one might do.

This Week:

I have a planned day out with Mama and another day I'm going to  be out with Katie as well as delivering my resume to the office.

I plan to pick up a half dozen or so bags of mulch.  I'm so very nearly done with the old beds now that I am really wanting to push on through and finish and then I can begin to think of where to put the plants I've dug up and start the beds and begin to buy the plants to go into my flower beds and pots.  Until I can get mulch, I can at least get pots moved out of the next flower bed and begin to clean them for planting.

This is Harvest week. I have bills ready to go out but we'll need to do the usual payday errands and grocery shopping, etc.  I don't need loads of groceries just dairy and produce, really.  I'll be sure to make out a list with some of those low/gap items on it to pick up and fill in those areas.

Definitely making bread this week.  I forgot this past Friday was Passover and we needed only Matzah for that.

Zone:  Porches this week.  And working in yard.  I don't know what to do exactly but cleaning will be priority on the porches and patio and I'll find jobs to do in the yard, just to keep my energy levels running high.


Chicken Verde Enchiladas, Yellow Rice, Black Beans, Avocado and Lettuce, Butterscotch Pudding
This entrĂ©e from the freezer.   It all made for an easy Shabat meal since I'd not prepped ahead.

Pot Roast with  Vegetables, Steamed Peas, Salad

on my own x2

Black Beans and Rice, Salad

Shepherd's Pie, Peach Salad

Bbq Chicken, Au Gratin Potatoes, Green Beans, Coleslaw

Smiles and Gratitudes:

I had a last minute day sitting  Isaac.  We had a grand time together he and I.  Best part was the nap we took, lol.  Gramma was tired and so was that boy.  Playing is hard work done the way he does it.

I got a lot more work done this past week than I'd anticipated I might.  I had plenty of energy and time to spare as it happened which was a nice side benefit.

That unexpected job offer...even if nothing comes of it, it's neat to think at 60 I'm considered prime hiring material by some folks.

I was able to get a doctor's  appointment on a non-appointment day.  And at this point the poison is healing.  Praises be!

The weather all week long was sunny with cool mornings, perfect for working in the yard and shed and rain only fell in the evenings.

The Week Behind: April Does Shine

Saturday:  I made absolutely no plans for meals this weekend.  Generally I have an idea of what we might have even if I haven't made any preparations.  This week, no idea, just most of a roasted chicken left from Friday and a lot of wondering what I'd make out of it.  Well it worked out just fine.  It wasn't a hard meal to put together, if it did disappoint us a little.  I cooked brown rice.  I used the broth in the chicken roasting dish to make up part of the liquid.    I had a bag of frozen Creamed Spinach from Aldi that I'd thought sounded good.  Well it wasn't.  It was too finely minced, over cooked though I followed directions and not in the least creamy.  It tasted like  frozen spinach.  Katie declined it entirely and she loves spinach.  John attempted to eat it but it was obvious he didn't care for it and neither did I.

The Week Ahead: Bzzzz Bzzzz Bzzzz

That's not just the bees you hear, it's also me humming  as I move from one task to another.  I always start with basic housework, zoom out to the yard to work as long as I can stand, then back in to shower and dress and start dinner.  I sit for a bit after dishes are done and think of more things to do, then jump up and start a deeper cleaning project, do a little more light housework, possibly run outdoors to do something minor and realize it's too hot, run back indoors to cool off and make supper.  Then after dishes are done, I write and work a puzzle or play a game while we watch tv, crawl into bed and start all over again the next day.  That's on the days when I've nowhere else to be.  On those days, I rise extra early, zip outdoors at first light to work as long as I can, shower, run errands, come home to make dinner and collapse in the chair before getting up to tend to housework and so it goes.  It's busy.  Not hectic, but busy.

The Week Behind: Busy as the Buzzing Bee

Saturday:  Today was meant to be a date day for John and I, but I heard rain dripping outside our window.  I wasn't at all surprised when John said "Well, we'll just stay home today."  I'd had an alternate plan for meals and was prepared for whatever the day brought.

I put the turkey tenderloins in the crock pot as soon as John made his statement, which was before I had my first cup of coffee.  I can't say I was disappointed.  Last weekend the traffic was ridiculous and I really didn't expect it to be any different this weekend.

The Week Ahead: Spring has Sprung!

Indeed it has sprung.  I looked out the window this weekend and realized that I had no view through the trees...they are all fully leafed once again.  The faith tree has tiny new leaves on every single twig and the pecan has started to leaf out.  That is a sure sign that the winter weather is done!   We might well have cool days to come but we'll be unlikely to have frosts.

The Week Behind: April Showers

When April showers...come your way...they bring the flowers...that bloom in May.

late Friday afternoon:  I did not make the planned return of items today.  As it happens I'd bought Mama a shirt which also needed to be returned but my receipt was at home.  I'll be going back next week to attend to another matter and will take both returns with me so I can turn them in at the respective stores.

Iced Tea Chat: Breaking Silence

Do come in dears...I'm attempting another chat, my fifth or sixth try in four weeks.  It's not that I don't have things to say...