Afternoon Refresher: Coming and Going
Hello dears...Come in. The AC is nice and cool and there is iced tea. I've just been sitting here trying to decide upon our dessert for the week. Perhaps you can help me: Lemon Meringue Cake? And yes, I do mean cake. It's a luscious yellow cake filled with lemon curd and topped with meringue. Coca Cola Cake? German Chocolate? Lemon Blueberry Cream? I have no clue either, so let's just enjoy our iced tea. I've boggled my mind long enough with the possibilities and it's getting late to even think of getting the stove going.
The days have been very pleasant of late. The mornings are generally comfortable. The afternoons all that summer afternoons should be: Blue skies filled with huge cumulus clouds and the earth green as far as the eye can see, shimmering under the sun. There have been temperamental showers here and there and that too is as it should be for summer in the South.
There's so much fresh produce coming into season all at once and I am just one person who longs to eat a little bit of it all. What a lovely dilemma to have. Local produce is coming in hot and fast. Corn, squash, peas of all sorts, butter beans, peaches...oh wonderful peaches! I can't eat it all, but I'm wanting to put up the goodness towards eating this winter, with just a bit here and there for us to have NOW. It was last summer I worked so hard to put up creamed corn and realized at the end of the season that we'd never had a single bite of fresh cooked creamed corn in season. I've had fresh cooked squash with Vidalia onions and in a casserole. We've had corn on the cob. I am frying green tomatoes and cooking field peas this weekend. Oh and I've had fresh peaches and cantaloupe, blueberries and blackberries. Summer is so good!
I planted several packets of seeds two weeks ago after we got back from our vacation. Well none of them did a single thing except the basil, which I'm growing in the kitchen window at present. One bucket of seeds suddenly started growing and got so lush but never very tall which puzzled me as I'd planted cosmos (which these obviously weren't) and Cleome which I've never grown but knew by the package should be tall. So what did I get? Pale pink petunias which I hadn't even planted! I guess in stirring up the soil in the pots I brought seeds from last year nearer the surface and they germinated. That would also account for the two different colors of larkspur that popped up in another pot after I'd filled it with lily bulbs, which I thought was going to be marigolds by the way. I do laugh at the way I keep being surprised by things in my yard.
Maddie has been a help of sorts. She's pretty much dug up every inch of grass in front of the back porch. I keep telling John not to fuss, she's saved me a world of trouble. It's just a matter of figuring out how to plant it and leave her room to cool off. She has the thickest fur coat yet and she does get so very hot. In the past she's lived under the back deck in summer. I thought she'd lie on the back porch during the day but she chooses to lie there only at night, or the very early morning hours, and then she rests just at the back door.
Maddie has settled into being an 'only dog' the same way that Katie did to being an 'only child at home'. She's relishing all the attention, the lack of competition of any sort. Has Trudy's being gone changed her? Yes. She's less prone to wander the fields now she's alone and more prone to bark at things that are not human than she'd been in the past. She's still the same loving girl and has adapted well to the change.
Speaking of someone getting a little size, that new grandson is growing. He was here visiting last Friday and this week I saw a photo of him with his other great grandmother and he appeared to be all chunky legs and dimples and smiles. Gosh he's growing fast! I can't wait to discover what the next grandchild will be. Amie has an idea it might be a girl but no confirmation. I've had the sneaking feeling of late that it will be a boy. We shall see. This event will occur in about two weeks. Sometimes looking forward is just plain fun.
My niece visited with us on Friday with her little girl. She came to visit Sam and meet Bess and their son. Her little girl is just 9 months old but is on the very brink of walking. She'd gotten hungry and I went to get her a graham cracker. She held my fingers and practically ran back into the living room. It was while she was eating the cracker that she let go of my fingers and stood all on her own and took her first step! She is not the least afraid of falling. Indeed she let herself fall and pulled herself right back up. I told Ashley I'd lay odds she would be fully walking on her own by end of July.
John has July 4 off, which is his last holiday off this year. We've looked over the calendar a number of times. Officially last year was supposed to be his last for working major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanks to the change in schedule he's right back on duty those days. He looked at me apologetically when he discovered the fact. We were both looking forward to his being off for a change, had even tentatively made plans for our first Christmas together in years. I wanted to be upset for a bit but then I realized I wasn't going to be mad. As I told him, he's been working the holidays all these years and we've managed so we might as well just make up our minds we will for another year or two or three. I won't look ahead to see if he might be working in 2015. Much as I like to make plans I just won't go that far. Too much can change to thwart plans in a week's time, much less a year and a half!
The declutter challenge I participated in for June has worked out nicely. The house is neater and tidier, under the surface as well as on top of surfaces. I took a car trunk full of things to be donated, set aside a box of things to sell in the booth, and hauled off four bags of trash...and I didn't think I could find that much! I really wound up my work in each room about a week ago and since then I've been deep cleaning one room each week. So far, I've gotten our bedroom and bath cleaned really well. I found a small bag of things to toss/giveaway and I mean small. I worked in the laundry and kitchen sitting areas. Walls were dusted, curtains washed, baseboards cleaned, cabinets and drawers tidied once more. I cleaned the fans and vents, washed windows I mean to work on our closet this week and then I'll move on to the living/dining room.
I keep thinking I'd like to get to the library but their hours and mine are not meshing very well. I don't know about your local areas but our libraries are open only 2-3 afternoons a week, some are open 4 half days and closed on Saturday for summer. It's frustrating to try and get out at the hours they are open as I normally go out mornings to avoid the heat and I don't make special single purpose trips away from home. Well I have loads of books here and as I was culling shelves during the declutter challenge, I found a number of new, unread books on the shelves. I've promised myself that for July I shall create my own library stack next to my chair to read through the month. I think four books should do me, especially since I intend to start with Gone With the Wind which I haven't read since I was 15! I'm interested in re-reading that because of the historical references in the narrative which ties in to my genealogy hobby. Not just sure what my other three books will be yet. I'll go over the shelves later today and see what I come up with.
My July goals are not too heavy overall. Deep cleaning, reading some every single day. I have a long list of projects but have determined after our June of repairs and replacements we could use a Nothing Extra month, meaning we stick to our budget and don't buy anything we don't need. Not quite a no spend month but close. So any projects I work on will need to work with what we have on hand. I'll allow my full grocery budget to be spent, but hope to put a portion of that towards the fresh produce in markets just now and get a few things in the freezer. I have allotted an amount to spend on new jeans for myself if I find them in my size, without a load of embellishments on the back pockets, in the right cut...Jeans shopping is difficult at the best of times but sometimes it's just a real test in patience. In our area it's impossible to buy jeans in Spring/Summer. You can buy shorts and capris but rarely do you find long pants. I'm hopeful they are going to start stocking Fall clothes in July, so I'll start checking my favorite shop regularly. I want to try and rise a little earlier. I typically awake about 6:30 each morning. I don't always get up at that time however. I really do my best, most efficient work in the morning hours. I want to take advantage of that higher energy time of day. Not to mention that it's the cooler part of the day, always important to a first class glistener.
Other goals are going to be work related but not physical. I need to figure out a few things with my budgets. I need to adjust our budget for a couple of bill increases that came up in the past month and a new expense. Then I want to go over my grocery budget and determine if we can lower or better utilize what we have to spend there. There's a need for a proper shopping list for future home needs/wants that are arising. I want to make sure I am prepared to look for sales in the right areas and determine just about what we can afford to spend. I also want to make out a month's worth of menus, then I can purchase needed items as sales come up during the month. I also want to try to rotate a few new recipes through the menu cycle, but I can't do this if I don't plan to do it as occasionally I need an ingredient that I'd failed to buy extra of.
We've had the loveliest Shabats lately. Two weeks ago we spent the day resting and I mean truly resting. Slept late, napped before dinner and again after and went off to bed early as well. John said we might have taken the day a little too literally, but can you? I've found, for my part, that the Shabats we physically rested and didn't allow ourselves to get too caught up in the have to's/musts were restorative, so that we greeted the new week with a big burst of energy that lasted beyond mid-week. Three Saturdays ago I spent time doing 'quiet work' and that prefaced the week of getting little done. I felt tired and irritable at day's end and lethargic all that week. No, I don't think rest can be taken too literally.
This last Shabat, we didn't stay abed. I'd made big plans for breakfast and prepped a Breakfast Casserole and a bowl of mixed berries and melons on Friday. I anticipated our special breakfast and got up early to put breakfast in the oven. We spent the day quietly. First coffee on the porch, Bible study and quiet time, lovely special breakfast and Second coffee, listening to music, watching a favorite movie and program. That was morning.
I didn't do any prep towards dinner on Friday but it took less than 15 minutes to put together. Good chicken, new potatoes, sweet corn, a lovely fresh coleslaw. It was a big-ish sort of meal and after dinner I rinsed plates, John put on some music, I napped. Hard sleep spattered with dreams. Then later we had coffee and I read blog posts that spoke of faith, of trusting despite the appearances of things, of trying to live more simply and crying to be nearer to God.
I listened to some beautiful music and my heart opened wide, remembering our time at the altar last Sunday when we went forward and told God we'd been in the waiting room a long time. We were ready for the next step, not knowing what that means at present. Ready to be more than we are today. Willing to trust Him for whatever it might be, even if it meant waiting still more for every right thing to come into the perfect pattern of His will.
It wasn't an easy prayer to pray. It's scary to give up the idea that you're in control, to stop butting head against brick walls thinking you will move them, to stop thinking that everyone you meet will see the call of God on your life and love you for it, to simply sit back and wait and simply say, "I'm ready for the journey ahead to the next stopping place, wherever that might be." All of the past six years have brought us to this point, saying scary prayers and watching as God demands more of us than we thought we had to give, asking us to take more than we ever thought we'd have to take, telling us that trusting Him is a test that goes on and on.
All of it scary enough and just difficult enough that we hesitated a moment, instead of glibly saying "I'll go," naively waving our hand to get his attention. No, we've learned that when we turn our dreams and plans and finances and lives over to God we've no clue where we're going, how we're to get there, when we'll arrive or how long we'll wait, what we'll have to give up, nor what we will gain. Scary for planners like me. Scary for people who have no joy in being lost. Frightening. Then we remember, as we're hesitating, not just the scary parts but the freshness we've found in God, the newness of love He sheds upon us, the reward of sacrifice. Then we tell Him we're ready.