Coffee Chat: Bird Song and Sunshine at The Wailing Wall

Hello lovelies!  Come in and have coffee with me.  I made a fresh pot a bit ago because John decided to set up morning coffee last night and I know it was a kindness, so no complaints over it, but my husband and I have a different idea of what constitutes a proper morning cup.  He uses the same amount of ground coffee whether he's making 4 cups or12 and it's never enough to give me that big oomph I need in the morning, though I don't like the sort of strength that jangles nerves and makes me feel I'm in my own personal little earthquake either.  I've had a tendency of late to leave my coffee sitting by my side while I do something else, either reading or writing or work and when I do drink it, it's gone lukewarm which is the absolute least appealing temperature for coffee.   So I made a new pot and am drinking my cup while it's properly hot.  Mmmmm!

We were  in the kitchen sitting area early this morning, a habit we acquired last summer when the kids were living here.   John usually eats and reads at my desk and I go sit in the little chair in the corner just across from him and sip my morning coffee and try to come fully awake.  These days I open the blinds too, so that I can watch the morning lightening of the sky since it comes so early.
The little sedge wren on the back porch was singing her heart out.  I might have stood outside the wailing wall petitioning God with my prayers but that bird sang all the same and the sun rose, too.  It's prone to do that no matter what our heart cries might prefer.

I suspect this nest of eggs has been successful.  She's finally gotten a spot high enough up to be out of the vision of cat and dog.  I see her coming and going constantly and hear her singing frequently.   It's a rather nice thing really to hear her.  I shall most definitely put up a shelf on the back porch because though John may loathe the holes in the siding, this is obviously as much home to that wren as it is to us and  I'd like to make a spot for her next year's nesting.

So John is off to work today and I am too drained to do all I'd planned.  I've decided that a day of puttering around the house, doing whatever odd jobs strike my fancy, will be what I do today.  It's not so much that I am physically tired, as that I have a stress knot in my shoulder that is plaguing me at present and heart full of prayer and  I know that yanking bulky appliances about is not going to do me any favors at all.  I'm going to settle for a halfway sort of cleaning under them and cleaning surfaces and call that good enough this month.

I like my gas stove right well but I know just what I don't want in my next stove and that is a broiler on the very bottom of the stove.  What a pain in the midsection that is!  I can't clean it except to lie flat on the floor and I can only light the oven pilot by lying flat on the floor and though I have far more agility than in days past, with a knee that is acting up, the fact of getting up again is questionable even if I use all my tricks and strength.  I used the vacuum to get under the broiler pan and that shall suffice.  I've lifted the top and cleaned under it.   I had two very sticky messes that I left soaking with a damp cloth over them to loosen up and then scrubbed the top clean.

 I have also cleaned the outside and under and behind the fridge.  The top was surprisingly clean.  I must have done that sometime in the past month or so.  I've also stripped the bed and got the sheets on the line while the mattress pad is currently washing.  It will likely go in the dryer since there's no more room on the line for it and it's so heavy with humidity I'll be shocked if anything gets dry for several hours outdoors.

So while I rest a bit we shall talk some more.  I'm having a glass of icy cold water now that I've warmed up...Would you care for some?  Honestly I don't know just how much further I might go today in cleaning but I'll for sure remake my bed and sweep and mop the kitchen floor because John left his usual tracks across it and the cleaning under things brings it's own mess.

I had this week all planned out and planned especially heavy for today and Friday on my own.  And then yesterday I went to help out Katie with a fruit basket turnover situation in her house and did nothing at home and John informed me he has Friday off and I realized with a sort of sinking feeling that most of my plans for this week were shot.  I am not disappointed but I do have limited time to call my own and only so much stamina to push myself through these projects and deeper cleanings.  I'm not frustrated either but I am ...  I don't know how to explain exactly what I am.  I'm learning more and more to accept what is tossed my way but I do want my own way at times, you know?  I want to plan to clean and shop and plant.  I like being at home and I like seeing things come together and I do feel impatient at times to just be doing what I want to do.  Yes, I think impatient is the best word for what I am experiencing.  Yet I know that time is always fleeting and I'd much rather spend time with John or do something for one of the kids than to pass on it.

There was a season in our lives when we were very active in church.  If the doors opened at any time we likely were there working.  And because of that we missed a lot of time we might have spent with family.  We skipped birthday visits because we 'had' to be at church and we skipped special family dinners because we 'had' to be at church.  Eventually Amie had moved away during those 'have to be at church' years and all those memories I might have made with Josie and Lily and Amie's were finished.  I am a voice on the telephone, a social media presence, a stranger who drops a card in the mail every so often.

And then four years ago I had that health care crisis and it was touch and go for a bit.  I made up my mind then that I was going to make my family a priority.  Not in the sense that I wanted to let them take over my life because even the most loving family will if you let them, but in the sense that I felt time was limited and time once past is gone.  Indeed,  I had no clue at the time of the crisis of how much life would change for a season.  Sam and Bess moved to the southernmost end of Florida and my oldest son's life took him to California again and visits with him and his children were once more rare.

I often wondered what sort of witness for Christ I had really been in my absolute dedication to church all those years  when I so neglected any sort of familial connection with my family.  I am not saying God wasn't first in my life, but that the leaders of the churches we attended seemed to feel if I wasn't at church then I wasn't showing the proper dedication and  I believed them.  What a fool I was to not pray about it and listen to the heart tugs I felt at the time!   But lying there in that hospital bed, I knew I'd never get those missed occasions back.  They were once in a lifetime things and would never return.   I decided in those long reflective hours that if I could spend time with my family for the once in a lifetime occasions then I would and if it meant I was present in their lives but absent from church, I would have chosen the better thing.

I made a second vow while I lay in that hospital bed in June 2015:  all those years I'd spent biting my tongue and not saying the things that ought to be said were done, as well.  There are times we are called to speak out and say the hard things.  Not in a harsh and hateful and condemning manner but in love and kindness.  Gracious goodness!  The depths I had to go in prayer to learn that lesson.  I try to speak the truth to my children now about situations in their lives but I am not judging them. If  I am  pointing out a failure it is not because they are failures but because I want them to see  why they are where they are at the moment and  to understand that failure is a temporary thing, not a life sentence.  It is a time to step back and assess  what we might do differently.  It's giving us a moment to make a choice.   It's an opportunity!  I realize too well that failure is painful and it feels like a good excuse to quit and lie down  in the place where we've halted,  but it shouldn't be that at all.  Failure is meant to bring you to a stop, but we do not live at the stop signs do we?  We look and listen, we use reasonable caution and  we move, hopefully in the direction that will best suit our life purpose.  That is all that failure is.  It's not a life sentence.

This is not to say that I always get it right.  I don't.  I've always said I am a far better writer than I am a talker.  I can go back and edit and re-edit my words until my meaning is clear when I write.  When I speak I am often clumsy.  I step on toes hard and say things that offend, or explain things badly, or hurt another though it's not my intent.  I can rabbit trail and lose the point.  But  I do pray before I speak of certain situations I see, and I pray for opportunities to speak about them.   I sometimes fail to check in with God if the words are the right ones or if the timing is true.   I sometimes get ahead of Him.    I have sometimes failed to speak when the opportunity presented itself and missed that chance altogether.  I have  said my piece and had to wait for an extended period of time for those words to bear seed and become a fruitful harvest.  That is the hardest part. I want it to be instant mashed potatoes but its too often a very long process, something more akin to planting, growing and then bringing them in from the garden to wash and prepare.

Well I said all that about speaking out and how it was a sort of life changing goal for me.   I also made up my mind during  that time that intentions are fine but doing is far better.  I've read that thinking over someone's needs and troubles and triumphs is a sort of free form prayer for them but that is generally between us and God.  There's also a time to listen to that inner urging to do something for someone.  To take that meal, cut the flowers and carry them over, to send that unexpected but much needed gift, to drop a card in the mail.

Last year when I was struggling so with anxiety and panic attacks and the expectations of too many and doing far too much, a dear soul I've never met in person but have called friend for years, sent me the sweetest gift.  It was a big box of coffees and chocolates. That gift, coming as it did at that hard space of time, was like being wrapped in the biggest deepest hug and meant far more than I can ever tell.  It was a gift from soul to soul and goodness how I needed exactly that at that time.  Another dear one sent me a lovely framed print that exactly suited that place in my life and I hung it on the wall next to my bed where it was the last thing I saw at night before I turned out the light and the first thing I saw in the morning when I awoke.  It was a message of encouragement that I needed to lean upon daily.

Neither of these ladies had to do what they did.  Yet both felt an inner urging to do something and they did.  While I'd struggled with making intentions real, those two women each taught me the power of moving from intention to action.

Doing is far harder at times than you'd think.  Sometimes the things we do go unnoticed.  Sometimes they are so taken for granted that you find yourself a bit resentful.  But there are also moments when you do something and immediately you are rewarded with the happy tears, the joyful reception, the heartfelt thank you.  Give the little gift, pay the compliment, send the note.  It can be life changing for someone and you'll never know how impactful that simple little gesture might be.

Occasionally we mean to do one thing and inadvertently find ourselves going  a little further than we'd anticipated.  I had such a situation arise not too long ago.  I was merely planning to be helpful but the recipient took it as a gift and I found myself in the position of having to make it a gift or embarrassing her and creating a very awkward situation.  Well it wasn't a huge thing, it cost me little and honestly wasn't even a sacrifice.  But the reaction!  The response was immediate and genuine and I heard how it had made the day of this person who'd just suffered a wrong at the hands of another and had been experiencing a difficult day.  She wept which moved me beyond words, too.  Such a simple little thing and it had turned around her day altogether and quite incidentally having been witnessed by a co-worker who'd seen her troubles earlier,  also made her day.  The recipient said "You've restored my faith in people."  Golly gee!  It really wasn't anything, or so I thought.  But I was humbled beyond words.  Why, I asked myself, why hadn't I thought to do things in that way instead of the way I'd started to do it?  Why had God needed to prompt me to change the way in which I carried out that particular thing?

It was proof that if a word in due season was powerful, then action in the right moment is just as powerful.  There's good reason why  that old saying about good intentions paves the road to...  Intention is nothing without action.  Intention is never life changing, but action always is.

It is pouring rain now as I sit and type.  I've run and pulled the mattress pad from the dryer and tossed the sheets and towels from the line in to finish off.  I got them in just in time and they were so very close to being fully dry!  Maddie was on the front porch panting and attempting to sneak indoors which isn't like her at all.  At that point, I'd noticed only the dark sky, not heard any thunder, but I knew it was soon on it's way by her actions.  I went through the house to the back porch and pointed out her doghouse to her and she climbed right in and then right out again.  I'd decided it was worthwhile to put my two potted plants and the fern down on the doorstep so they could benefit from the rain water and she had to see what I might be up to.  I hurried up and headed back indoors because storms are misery to her.  This is only the second dog I've had in my life that does not like a thunderstorm.

Bear was the first.

I received Bear while I was living in town, in the little house where I started life over again after my divorce and where John and I began our lives together.  A former neighbor asked if I'd take him and I agreed.  We had a big fenced in back yard and I liked dogs, always have.

For all that he was looked big and bad, when he did occasionally escape the fence he would only come home if John went after him...and he only came then, if John carried his big old self up the street.  John would be panting and out of breath because Bear weighed 80 pounds or more.   Bear would grin from ear to ear.

He was a gentle giant for the most part.  He adored baby Katie and would take a cookie from her tiny fingers as though he were a polite and delicate little old lady taking part in a tea party.

But yes, he was a cowering pup when it came to thunderstorms.  When we lived in town, one of the kids opened the back door and in flew Bear.  He ran down the hall straight to Katie's nursery and shivered under her bed until it was past and he did so every single time it stormed thereafter.   When we moved here he was an outside dog and would dive into the dog house.

Well dears the rain is past, as is lunch time and I've clothes to fold and bills to tot up before I can call my day finished.  It was a lovely visit.  Talk to you again really soon!

The Week Ahead: Birthday, Father's Day, Birthday, Birthday....

I've mentioned before we are in the midst of birthday season.  Four more to go this month. From the last week of May until the last day of June we have 8 birthdays and Father's Day tossed in for good measure.  I have done better this year about getting cards out in time but gifting is off.  I have two gifts I haven't even purchased and the birthdays are both past.  Fortunately everyone ahead this month that I normally would gift has been gifted already.  Now to play catch up with the ones I missed.

It was lovely weather to end last week.  In fact, it was so cool on Friday morning, I came back indoors.  "It's too cool..." I told John.  "I'm going to go to the back porch and sit in the sun."  He laughed but he appreciated the shady coolness of the front porch after he'd mown grass.  It was more pleasant at noon.

What I got done last week:

I did put block in the corner flower bed and ended getting some weeding done there as well.  I did NOT expand the new flower bed, but I did lay cardboard as weed mat in that bed and filled it.  I cleared most of the junk off the back porch and from the guest room and moved it all to the shed.  I played about in the flower bed in front of the back porch and the one next to the steps and made them both look a little more attractive.  I got all the new plants potted up and set out.

I got all the planned inside work done except cleaning and straightening my closet.  I deep vacuumed and deep dusted (that means I picked items up and moved them and dusted them too, not just swiping at surfaces).  The guest room has a new headboard though you can't see it and the pictures got home.  I pieced together outfits.

And the insurance fiasco was all sorted out and I was reinstated at the tax credit level rather than paying full price, which wasn't going to happen anyway.  If I could afford full price I wouldn't be attempting to get the tax credit would I?

The two meals missed on our menu this week were because I didn't have planned overs for one of those meals and  I reworked the other menu.  We ate out on Friday.


I have no hard and fast plans for outdoor work simply because I have no material to do any project to completion.  No paint to paint with and no plants to plant nor mulch or block to lay.  I'll try and make a trip to the garden center/diy store and remedy this.  My budget is limited but I do still have a small gift card I might use.  I will do some yard work if I can get materials to do any with.  I'm trying to make it a point to be outdoors at least an hour most mornings and do something  even if it's nothing more than deadheading and sweeping patio and porches.  I don't want to lose my head of steam on this outdoor work.  later: I wrote out all that yesterday afternoon...but it occurred to me that I have pots, I have soil and a bucket full of glads and daylily and iris and stuff that must be planted.  Then John brought home a surprise with my garden beds in mind and he.did.GOOD.  So phooey on this nothing to work with, I feel all inspired all over again.  I'll make something work!

It is pay week so all the tasks that go with that.  Bills, errands, and usually groceries.  I don't know if I will shop this week or not.  We spent a portion of this period's budget on Friday stocking up on some sales items and truthfully I don't need anything.

Book our vacation room for October.  I love that John said I might go on and do this because it means I get first choice of any number of rooms rather than having to take whatever is available at end of September when I usually would book.

Sort out my bedroom closet.  It does need the work and I feel like I must get it done.

Play a bit more with my wardrobe.  I've spent all this afternoon pinning similar pieces to what I have in my closet and that hit of inspiration I got for the garden has hit me for my clothing choices, too.

Move the little bookcase out of my room.  It's been cleaned and it's a matter of seconds to clear it now.

My big project this week will be zone work.

I still have a pillow  I mean to make for my bed.

I've got two days alone this week and I feel I must go out and look at thrift stores...It's work when it's warm and there are multiple stores to visit, but it's fun, too.


Kitchen, laundry, back entry
This week I want to move the big appliances and clean under and behind them.  I want to dust coils and clean the finished portions really well.  I won't plan any other tasks this week but these.  It will be enough I think since the bulk of energy will go into moving things and then getting the tight spaces cleaned.


Sirloin Shish Kebab and Vegetables, Rosemary and Olive Oil Quinoa, Salad
The quinoa was a miss.  It was a box mix from Aldi and not to my taste at all.

Probably a deli meal...

on my own x 2

Fresh Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella Cubes over Pasta, Salad, Rolls

Black Beans and Rice, Pico de Gallo over Green Salad, Tortilla Chips

Pan Fried Chicken Tenders, Squash Casserole, Green Peas,

Smiles and Gratitudes:

Lovely cool mornings on the porch listening to birds sing and enjoying coffee.

Finishing one book and starting another.

The birthdays of these two:
Josie turned 17 this year.  Isn't she lovely?

And then Josh turned 5:

Impromptu visits from family.

Just enough rain to make a real difference.

There was more but I can't remember it all!

The Week Behind: Worked, Worked, and Played

Saturday:  I had in mind to make the Hibachi Chicken today but it rained and poured and poured and rained and much as I'd like to practice grilling, the rain put me off the idea entirely.  In fact, the rain made me want comfort food.  So I looked over last week's menu to see which meals I hadn't made and discovered the mac and cheese menu.  I had cooked pasta, prepped vegetables and it was cool enough to warrant running the oven today.  So we had the Italian roasted vegetables and homemade Macaroni and Cheese.  I had only to make a cheese sauce and grate cheese, the same two tasks I'd kept trying to get to last week and never did.  Dinner came together quickly enough just the same and it tasted really good.  And no one minded the additional heat in the house at all.

John and I watched a movie and I spent a lot of time reading.  It was a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday at home.

Sunday:  I'd promised a month ago I'd have the boys today and I don't go back on my word even if I would like to.  Never mind.  The boys were good as gold and played nicely and Isaac was beyond adorable today with that in between little boy/toddler look about him.  Josh is getting to be all legs and thin as a string bean.

Before the boys this morning, I sent John off to work with breakfast, lunch, coffee.  John gets in food ruts.  Right now he requests bread, peanut butter, jelly, sliced cheese and luncheon meat or hot dogs.  I don't make him a sandwich.  I just pack the foodstuffs in his bag and he makes what he wants when he has time to make it.  I usually toss in some yogurt or cookies or a jar of fruit for him to enjoy as a quick snack should he not have time to make a sandwich.  He also keeps instant mac and cheese, chicken Vienna sausage and packaged peanut butter crackers in his locker at work for more quick to eat options.   It makes packing lunch no work at all really.

Recently he decided on a  breakfast that he wants me to make each work morning: two eggs scrambled with cheese on a slice of whole grain bread.  Not toast just plain bread.  Give me variety but for John it's all about just eating his  chosen items.  I will say that if I've had a hard night it's super easy to get things together for his breakfast and lunch.  In fact, he can do it all himself if I happened to be gone.

I decided given the very rainy weather that I'd skip changing towels and sheets this morning.  Instead, after making my bed and straightening the bath, I went ahead and paired some outfits together to wear in the coming week or so.   It wasn't so much really.  This time of year a necklace and whatever clothes I need to be decent is about as much of an 'outfit' as I can stand.  However, I did discover a necklace and shirt combination that I'd not tried before and I did pair tops with pants that I'd normally not try them with, so I suppose I can count it as creative work.

I unloaded and put away dishes.  I ran a full load Friday evening and since Shabat ends so late just now I didn't do it Saturday evening either.  I reloaded the dishwasher and then quickly hand-washed the dishes that couldn't go into the dishwasher.

The boys and I had a great time.  Josh wanted pancakes for lunch.  I don't care what he eats as long as it's fairly healthy and he actually eats.  Unlike his parents I don't feel it's necessary to push him to eat things I know good and well he doesn't like.  It happens that he also wanted pancakes Friday night and I'd packaged up and frozen the leftovers.  We microwaved pancakes and Josh asked for strawberries, grapes,  a nectarine and pretzels.  Good enough.  I gave him what he requested.  Isaac will eat whatever Josh is having, lol, so no problems getting him to eat.  Josh ended up eating three big huge berries (about a cup of berries total), half a nectarine, a small bunch of grapes, a big handful of pretzels and THREE pancakes.  Isaac ate a pancake, just a little less fruit than Josh, a few pretzels and some corn chips that he borrowed off my plate and then I discovered him in the kitchen helping himself to chips from the bag...  I can't complain that the boys won't eat for me.  The bigger issue is do I have enough to feed Mr. Long Legs?!

The new toys arrived yesterday.  Isaac was charmed by the caterpillar binoculars and they both loved the bowling set from Zulily which is so bright and colorful.  They pretended to be cats who went to school among other things today.  What do you teach a kitten in school?  How to hunt, how to pounce and how to play with your food before you eat it.  Nothing gruesome but honestly it's a good little nature lesson in among the play.

After I took the boys home (so sleepy those two) I cleaned up the back porch.  That 50 pound bag of potting soil I bought that I couldn't move because it was so heavy, wasn't too heavy at all for River who is nothing but sheer muscle.  She pulled it out to the middle of the porch and ripped it open and dug dirt everywhere.  I was not pleased to have $15 worth of potting soil on the porch in the open with it raining off and on.  I cleared up all I could, which was most of it thankfully, storing part in a bucket and keeping the rest in the portion of the bag that was intact.  I put the bag in a less accessible spot for now.  I definitely need to get myself a receptacle where I might keep soil dry and dog free, too.  I'll just put that item on my ever growing list.

Sat down here meaning to play about on the computer and found myself looking at my week's list of work on the blog.  Immediately hauled myself out of the chair and went off to the guest room where I sorted out a corner of stuff into what I mean to keep indoors and what is meant to go to the shed.  I took the stuff meant for the shed to the spot next to the back door where I stack such items.  It irritates me more to see it there than it does tucked away out of sight in the guest room, so I'm assured I'll move it to the shed in a timely manner this week.

I broke down a stack of cardboard boxes so they lay flat and stacked those with the stuff for the shed.  I won't actually put them in the shed.  I mean to use them as weed mat in the new flower bed that is beside the shed.

I painted picture frames for the guest bedroom...then when I went to wash out the brushes I decided that paint would look rather well on the mirror frame.  John was aghast at my dry brush silver over the old white frame and felt it looked rather tacky.  I secretly agreed with him!  However, it's been that horrible old silver color now for a year and a half.  It was high time I did something different with it.  Now I'm debating painting the vanity a similar color...I definitely need a different type of paint for that job, though.  In the meantime, the mirror looks much better.

Once the paint on the frames dried I put my items in them and hung some of them on the wall.  I decided I didn't need them all, though I may use the others in another room (if I had one, lol) since they are now nicely framed.

Then I took the bed apart and cleaned under it.  I'd planned to take the risers off the bed but needed them on the foot of the bed to make the bed even once I'd set up the new headboard.   The headboard is a true antique, a Simmons Beauty Rest bed frame and has the places where you hook in antique rails.  I happen to have those type rails in the overhead of John's shed, but ever since he found the long snake skin, he's not very keen on going to the shed to find anything.   If he ever does decide he can I mean to take down that twin iron bed and those old fashioned rails too.  Oh dear, I've gotten off subject!  The part where the rails fits in, are where the current bed frame is resting, so the top was higher than the bottom.  I put the risers under the bottom legs and the bed is now perfectly flat and even.   Now that the pillows are back on the bed, you can't see the freshly paintedheadboard at all.  On the plus side, once the spread was on, I realized that there are tiny red flowers in the quilt I'm using which match the headboard perfectly.  I think I'll purchase  bed slats to create a platform for the mattress and remove the shoddy box springs on the bed.  Then the bed won't be so dangerously high for the little children and my old headboard may also be seen.

The huge framed needlepoint above the bed had an olive green velvet edge to the frame.  I painted it with gray paint and while it absorbed into the velvet it also darkened the green considerably.  I like it much better now.

All in all it's been a lovely day despite rain and more rain and lots of thunder rumbling about.

I've been struggling with ideas for birthdays this year.  I have two more to go...Then this one crazy month is done.  Just ordered Josh a gift.  Thank you Amazon for variety and for quick delivery!  I've made my Prime account really work for me this month.  I've saved enough in shipping  to pay for the cost of membership all year long.

Monday:  I bought a dozen eggs from Bess over the weekend.  No savings in it but golly gee they taste so good, who cares they cost more than those from Aldi!  I'll  use the Aldi eggs in baking and salads and such but we'll eat these as our stand alone eggs.

We've had no rain yet today. The forecast says we'll get some but it was nice enough outdoors so I decided to grill.  It took forever to get the fire going this time and I had to ask John for help in getting it started.  I am going to keep practicing but he did suggest I buy new charcoal.  I can't even remember when I bought this bag of briquets.

I had taken three ears of corn from the freezer, and I topped and tailed all of the pound bag of fresh green beans.  I had planned to cook all three breasts but somehow I felt we needed the extra servings of sides, too.  My intuition must have been turned on because Katie stopped by just as the chicken began to get done and she stayed to eat with us.  I did all right with the chicken, my first time grilling poultry.

Made my phone call early this morning and the health insurance has been reinstated at the same rate, praises be!  I should have had to let it go if they had refused me the tax credit for the remainder of the year.  I am relieved and thankful.

Went to work on the baths and bedrooms today, dusting, polishing and vacuuming.  I am pleased with this work which soothes something inside me.  It's a very therapeutic thing, this job called homemaking, isn't it?

Potted up the petunias and mairgolds and repotted the avocado tree.  I had a few petunias leftover so I went ahead and potted those up and put them under a makes it sound like they are hidden there but not so, the planter is quite high off the ground and the petunias just fill in an empty space rather nicely.   I put the avocado in the herb bed and the Pentas in the bed in front of the back porch.

I pulled an old but tidy looking lidded trash bin I found behind my shed, up on the porch and put the bag of potting soil in it.  I told John at least River emptied enough out (almost all of which got put in potted plants today) that I could lift the bag.

I put the lemon zucchini cake back in the freezer.  We've cookies opened and I'd made jello a week or so ago and the cake seems a bit much.  I still have about a half loaf which will be plenty for another week when I've less sweets on hand.

It rained again this afternoon, but was just a pleasant shower really, never did get stormy.

Tuesday:  John startled me awake this morning.  We have particularly long dangling chains on the bedroom fan so that I can easily reach up and switch on the light or change fan speed.  My chains have the prettiest crystal balls hanging from the end.  As he was putting on his shirt, John was standing under the fan and hit one of the chains.  The crystal ball flung up and hit a glass bulb shade and a fan blade, too. Nothing broke thankfully, but it was loud and we both jumped miles.  I had been happily dozing, but there was no return to sleep after that heart pounding awakening.

I chose to be happy about getting up rather than grumpy as I might have been.  I went ahead and got my cup of coffee and headed out to the porch.  The morning was cool and lovely.  The grass sparkled in the sun.  The birds were ecstatic and shrilled and trilled out songs and chattered back and forth in such a loud fashion that you'd have thought it was first spring all over again.  I suppose just as my yard needs tidying after all the wind and rain of the past weekend, theirs nests did, too, hence all the pleasant neighborly sort of noise.  I was loathe to come indoors.  It did make me wonder why builders don't put outdoor electric outlets on porches.  I could have brought out my coffee pot and toaster and had a very pleasant morning on the porch and never come back indoors at all.

I eventually needed that second cup of coffee...and John naturally asked 'What's for breakfast?" as soon as I walked through the door.  So that put an end to the lovely sitting part of the morning.  I decided a cold cereal was fine for this morning.  I used blueberries and nectarines (finally ripened after a week of being hard tasteless rocks) on my cereal and boy was that yummy.  The day was only improved by that breakfast treat.

John did a load of clothes and I loaded the dishwasher then stripped our bed and bath.  I remade the bed, then headed outdoors to work in the yard.  I didn't do a thing yesterday and it's been rainy since last Thursday.  I don't want to lose my momentum of getting a little done every day.  Today, I picked up all the sticks in the yard near the house, which happens to be where the bulk of trees are, too.   Noted that Maddie has dug out a spot under the pecan tree and while I'm not complaining I didn't praise her too hard about choosing that spot either.  She's a bit like a contrary child in that praise is apt to make her give up a spot.  But I don't mind in the least her choice of a cool spot to lay  under the pecan tree.

 I laid flattened cardboard boxes in my new flower bed to kill grass and block weeds.  I dug about in the corner flower bed and set up the last two concrete blocks along the foundation.  I tried to dig about the amaryllis bulb I'd planted that Maddie had tossed dirt over.  I'm afraid it's just too deep now but I couldn't get in around it as I wanted to.  I moved some dirt off the hydrangea that she's buried as well.  The hydrangea apparently doesn't mind as much as I do.  Sigh.   I pulled up scads of morning glories that have popped up in that flower bed and.  I  despair of ever again having that corner bed clear enough to mulch nicely.   There are Swamp Iris and Spiderwort and daylily coming up in places they were never planted.  I  broke off the seed tops of hundreds of Spiderwort stalks.  I tried to dig up one clump but it's all but impossible to get up.  I need to do so much work on that bed!  Even the border edging has been knocked loose there and the fancy glass rain gauge never seems to stay upright because each time River comes past that bed if Maddie is lying there she rushes out at her and knocks the rain gauge over.  Oh life with a dog!

Walked about the front porch and discovered a load of morning glory coming up there as well.  These are old seeds now and they have only tiny blossoms on them, not the huge cultivated ones they had when they were planted so long ago, so I pulled them all up.

Salvaged a little Cyprus vine that I hope to plant on the rose trellis.  I love the fern like vine of these plants.
The flowers aren't showy but hummingbirds love them and it will give a little added color to the trellis

Came indoors and after I showered, I started a load sheets and towels.  John had hung his load of laundry to dry on the line.

I also prepared dinner.  I used salsa as the 'tomato' agent in our meat loaf today.

I can't buy a smaller jar of salsa at Aldi except some I don't care for like mango and lime or black bean and corn,  and I never seem to think to put the unused salsa in the freezer for use at a later time.  I think I'll also make that easy  dip for an afternoon snack with the tortilla chips we have on hand.  It's a good balance of a protein/carb snack for me.  I like it with crackers as well as tortilla chips and pretzel sticks,  but it's also good with bell pepper strips or carrot sticks.

I used the leftover green beans from yesterday's meal  to make a potato dish I haven't made in a good many years.  I suppose it was the idea of meatloaf put the side dish in mind.  I wonder if I could find another copy of that particular little cookbook?  I got the recipe from an old Pillsbury soft cover cookbook, the sort that is about 4x8 and has menus in it as well as the recipes and is so often seen at the register of stores.  This particular cookbook featured several Kraft and Pillsbury products and while I typically don't cook with name brand anything and little premade anything and lean hard on  basics, there are several recipes from that little cookbook that I still cycle through our menu plans now and then.  This particular recipe's name (Italian Peasant Vegetables?)  escapes me but I'll share it as I made it today.

3 or 4 medium potatoes
1 can of green beans, drained (I subbed about a cup and a half of cooked cut green beans)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup of Italian dressing (fat free is good but I opted for what I had on hand, Kraft Olive Oil Vinaigrette)
Kraft Parmesan cheese

Slice potatoes into disks then put into a frying pan with the 1/4 cup water and cover.  Cook until almost tender, then drain if needed and add in the Italian dressing and green beans.  Cook until potatoes are tender.  Salt to taste.  Top with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

I remember in the cookbook they served this side dish with meatloaf recipe and a fruit salad.  I happened to have Orange jello with peach slices and I served that as dessert.  It was a good meal and easy after a morning of yardwork.

After dinner, I unloaded the dishwasher, reloaded the items that could go in and hand washed the rest.  Then John brought his load of laundry in off the line while I took out the sheets and towels to hang dry.  I typically would have done this Sunday morning when John went to work but it was pouring rain and I really wanted to air dry the sheets and towels because they smell so good when they come in.  I'm out of bleach but I trust that sunshine will do well enough until I purchase more.

I made up the dip that is so easy and tasty, just 1 package cream cheese and 1 cup of salsa.  I make this periodically because it's a good protein/carb snack as I said earlier.  Well tonight as I made it I opened the cupboard over the mixer to get a container to put the finished dip in and a glass container fell atop the mixer and broke.  Much as I hate to waste anything, I'll take no chances on us eating broken glass!  I threw the whole lot away and cleaned the counter and mixer and washed the utensils then began again.  I keep several packages of cream cheese on hand at all times since it goes on sale often enough and is so long lasting.  We had this dip as part of our supper tonight.

Brought the sheets and towels in off the line and decided that was enough for one day.

Wednesday:  I  had a really poor night with my legs aching so I couldn't sleep.  I sent John off to work this morning and then I crawled back in the bed and slept a couple of extra hours.  I must have needed it because I went right to sleep and stayed asleep for the full two hours.  At one point last night when I got up it was pouring rain.   The UPS man told John yesterday the temperature is supposed to drop as well.  I wonder if the combination was what made my leg ache so much?  Not even over the counter pain relievers and heat rub helped.  I'd have given much for something a little bit stronger last night.   I don't typically care for prescription but I'd sure have taken a dose!  Having used the heat rub I knew better than to try a heating pad on top of that. You can get quite a nasty burn combining those two things.

I got up at a still early hour (a bit after 8am) and got ready to go to Mama's.  I'd parked at the back porch the other day due to the amount of water under the carport, so on my way out of the door I grabbed up that big basket of stuff meant for the shed and I also cleared as much as I could of the back porch.  I loaded everything into the trunk of my car and drove it across the yard to the shed and unloaded it inside.  That's the easy way to go about doing things.

I had to run a few errands first, banking and such.   Mama had texted asking me to stop and pick up a fast food meal that she'd seen on tv.  I figured rightly it was something she meant to save for later.   We went out to eat as usual today.   When we'd finished our meal today I asked for a to go box.  I brought home the biscuits and jelly  that were on the table.  I told Mama I wanted them for my supper tonight.  Split and toasted with cheese, they will be delicious.

Mama wanted to go to a farm stand and I made no objections as I really wanted some fresh summer squash.  I wanted to buy some at Aldi last week but it looked dreadful.  I am happy to say they had really nice squash at this farm market  (and zucchini and HUGE eggplants and tomatoes hard to remind myself I had limited room in the fridge and none in the freezer!) .  I also bought two green bell peppers.  I like to keep some in the freezer because  spaghetti sauce just needs that touch of green pepper to be really good.  My only other item was a jar of peach preserves.  John can eat strawberry preserves day in and day out but I grew up eating a wide variety of home preserved jellies from plum to blackberry to peach and crabapple and muscadine and pear preserves, in addition to apple and grape.  I sort of feel like I'm being deprived with nothing but strawberry on hand in the house.  I have made jelly during our marriage and it's always good but John still prefers the strawberry and will eat nothing else so why bother to make jars of something only I will eat?

I stopped at the dollar store and bought father's day cards for the young men in the family.  No, not for John.  We are agreed that we're not each other's parent and so we don't do cards for Mother's Day or Father's Day for each other.    I had brought along stamps and my address book so I could go right ahead and address these and send them out in this evening's mail before heading home.

Went to another store to pick up a prescription and then turned homeward.  I'd texted Kate offering to meet up with her if she was in that town with her friend but she didn't answer me.

Not much got done this morning aside from stacking dishes and making the bed.  I did some housework this afternoon when I got home and then I worked on the bill box while my supper heated. 

Texted to see if I might talk to Josh, who turned five today.  Bess asked me to give her a second to get indoors and then asked if I'd like to come have dessert with them.  I don't typically eat dessert in the evening hours but I wanted to share in Josh's special time.  Bess, knowing how I am about late desserts, gave me a smaller portion.   Katie came and joined us too and then John called while we were all together so I opened a video call so he could see everyone.  It was so sweet to get to be a part of the family celebrating together.

The brownies were absolutely terrific.  Bess kept saying "They're from Aldi..."  "But is it a mix or something you picked up in the bakery aisle?"  It's a boxed mix and y'all they are GOOD.  I make a really delicious rich brownie from scratch but seldom make it because frankly it's not cheap to make homemade brownies from scratch when they require two sticks of butter and four eggs.  I might get a box or two of this brownie mix and keep on hand.

While playing with Josh I said something I hadn't ought to have said, a slip of the tongue and he played parrot and repeated it.  I admonished him and apologized to the adults in front of Josh saying how sorry I was I'd used a 'bad' word.  Josh got the lesson pretty quickly thankfully and he fussed at me a little about it, too.  I took my punishment and apologized again.  But I was much amused a bit later when both boys did something I thought harmless enough and Sam said "I wish Gammy (Bess' mom) had never showed y'all how to do that!"  I chuckled and Bess looked at me..."It's just that you really don't plan to be a bad influence as Grandmothers but here we are with both of us in trouble today!" and I laughed again.  I am sure Gammy will appreciate the humor in that as I did.

Katie asked Josh how old he was and he replied correctly that he was five.  "And on my next birthday I'm going to be six.  My next birthday is Saturday!"  He is having another family gathering on Saturday, this one was just impromptu, but he sure was disappointed to discover that he has to do a whole year as five before he could turn six.

Isaac is super shy of Katie and will skirt a mile away from her but can't take his eyes off her at the same time.  Bess eventually set him on the swing and he looked shocked when Katie came to sit beside him but she soon teased him into a smile and he loosened up a little.  It's rather sweet to see him, such an outgoing little boy, acting shy.  Josh was never outgoing as a baby, but he never acted shy about Katie.  He's adored her from the outset and even as a very young child if he got hold of a phone he'd call or  text Katie.  If Katie got a text of gibberish from any of us, she would reply, Hi Josh.

It was a beautiful evening, in and out of the house and lovely to spend time with the family but I was as ready for my bed when I left as the boys were for theirs.

Stopped at the mailbox.  The books I ordered have been trickling in but today I got three all at once.   Now I have filled in my gaps and can start the Mitford series of books.  I have a stack of books at chairside now, something I haven't done in ages upon and it feels so luxurious to have all these fresh books at my side waiting to be read.

Thursday:  Apparently I felt the need to rise extra early this morning, because I had set the alarm for 5am.  Needless to say I slapped it off and rolled over to catch a couple of extra hours sleep.

I had just awakened when John called to say he was on his way home.  I had meant to plan breakfast out last night but went to sleep before I formed my plan.  It was a fly by seat of pants sort of morning. I popped hash browns in to the toaster oven, started a frozen kielbasa cooking and then took coffee out on the porch.   It was a lovely morning except for the view of the dead armadillo and the buzzards hanging about.  Ugh.

I decided it was worthwhile to come back indoors and about that time John came in...I hoped he would feel moved to remove said armadillo but he did snake duty last so after breakfast I put on my big girl pants and went out to do yard duty.   I loaded up the armadillo and all the branches I'd piled up the other day and hauled the lot across the yard and tossed off into the field.  I played about outdoors for a bit.  Not really played, but I didn't do hard work either.  I moved pots about trying to find a new arrangement that was more pleasing.  I really need to buy some paint and more plants so I can make the beds look a little more lively.  I doubted it could be done with pots until Mama and I noticed a bunch of pots near the road at a house.  It wasn't the pots we noticed first but the mass of colors and then the pots were secondary.    It's inspired me to do more and mass them together for that bunch of color I long to see.

I swept both porches and adjusted furnishings.  I'm still looking for a cafe set for the front porch.  I rearranged the back porch and aside from every single piece needing a freshening coat,  I like it.  I looked at the Welcome sign on the bed springs and thought "I need a black paint pin..."  I realized I could also use a black permanent marker so I got mine and traced over the gold lettering and now the sign looks much better and stands out.

I took out the compost to the bucket.  On my way back I saw tiny little grey flowers in the grass.  It was the prettiest little fungi I've ever seen.  I can't make a copy of the picture but it's on my Instagram and you can see it here, I think.

Back indoors, I decided I'd better sort out the fridge.  I had quite the round up of leftovers: half a piece of chicken from the grilling day, jello, macaroni and cheese, macaroni salad, meatloaf.  I decided to cook all the squash I bought yesterday and added in some onions I'd chopped and forgotten that I'd found in the fridge.  We had the meat loaf, chicken, squash and mac n cheese for our dinner today.   I had squash leftover.  I let that drain well and will make a squash casserole for the weekend.

It was really a morning of puttering and not any hard work but I realized after I'd cleared up the dishes that I was tired.  I haven't done any more work today.  I have my July issues of magazines by my chair and a stack of books.  Tomorrow John and I are going to work.  He'll mow and I'll do Shabat cleaning and then we're going to go off and have dinner out.  It sounds like a nice way to start the weekend to me, so I'll end here today and carry any Friday savings over to next week.

Come share your week with us...

The Week Ahead: Work, Work, Play and Work

Friday was a mixed lot sort of day.  Good news, the little boys come to play, an unexpected visit from Katie, pancake supper, Shabat and then tired boys, tired John, storms,  a stupid mistake that resulted in a problem I can work out come Monday that triggered anxiety, and finding Maddie had dug another hole at the foundation in a different area. More blocks required and no expansion of the new flower bed as planned unless I can find another solution.  Sigh.  Isn't that just the way life goes?

The Week Behind: We got rain!

Saturday:  As we went from place to place yesterday I kept thinking about that star on my back porch and how much I want to get rid of it...And then I thought of something I have in my shed that I think is going to work to cover that hole just fine.

And while I was rifling through my wallet for something else, I found two gift cards that will offset my cost for plants.  Yay!

Iced Tea Chat: Summer Joy

Hello dears.  Iced tea?  I have plenty of ice in the house this week.  I've been giving the ice maker a run for it's money.  It's been HOT.  I'm told that this is not going to be our summer, it will be more mild. In fact, the rest of this weekend will be fairly pleasant and all next week will feel even nicer.  Hot enough to not want to work but not so hot you can't enjoy the porch for a bit if it's shady and you've got an icy glass in one hand...and a fan in the other to keep the gnats away.

The Week Ahead: Bride's Month

It's June, the traditional month of brides.  I don't wonder why.  It's such a pleasant month, not quite hot enough for summer, no longer chilly as it can be for spring.  Usually there are beautiful flowers all freshly bloomed.  Twice married but never in June!  Anybody have a June wedding date?

Coffee Chat: Bird Song and Sunshine at The Wailing Wall

Hello lovelies!  Come in and have coffee with me.  I made a fresh pot a bit ago because John decided to set up morning coffee last nigh...