Afternoon Refresher: Winding Down
Come in, come in! There's Banana Poundcake today to go with our tea...I don't mind telling you that this may well be the last of the Afternoon Refreshers. We'll be reverting back to the Coffee Chats with September. I found this lovely image in one of the August vintage magazines. I thought it was unique with that little shell and sea horse plate and the glass embellished with what looks like a silver rope. Too cute, isn't it?
I've been wanting to have another chat for the past few days but have stayed quite busy in the kitchen. Of all the places in the household that can generate savings, I think the kitchen is the most time consuming of all. Mind you it's paid off this go round. I spent a lot of money on groceries this month, but both freezers are full, the pantry is almost back to burgeoning. In fact, this next week when we shop for groceries, it's my plan to stock up on flour and sugar, buy bread, dairy and produce and exit the store! I'm thinking September is the perfect time to begin a pantry challenge.
September...Oh gracious, September already! Why it's right around the corner! It's time to look over my budget for the coming quarter and make any adjustments needed. I don't think we have such big changes to note this go round. I do have a list of things we mean to check to see if we can generate further savings. I am ready for this next phase I think and feeling confident about it since we've done so well repaying this personal loan we took from ourselves in the Spring to build the back porch. Barring major setbacks I should make the last payment in December. It has meant some sacrifice. John has worked a bit of overtime, we've nipped and tucked here and there and it's paying off.
So there's budget work, a pantry challenge, a new list of goals, books already pulled for the coming month despite the fact I've read only ONE of the August books and am still reading Gone With the Wind. I know. I just wasn't aware that this book would absorb me so. I keep taking breaks from it to research some of the historical facts that Mitchell mentions. Not sorry that I do because almost every single time I discover how it relates to my own ancestors. So that has added an element to the reading of the novel I hadn't expected. Truly I never once thought of my relationship to the Civil War and Reconstruction of the States. I don't mean to bore you with the genealogy but it truly is a great deal like finding yourself running down a rabbit trail and discovering that the tangle of roots you're caught in are your own, so it's fascinating and confusing and exciting as you find personalities emerging and discover families entwined like roots, too.
But that's old history and we have new futures don't we? The new baby boy is smiling. His Mama has been playing Peek A Boo with him and his face is a wonder when his eyes meet hers. The new little girl has chubby cheeks and the sweetest doll face you could ever hope to see surrounded by a wreath of dark thick hair. Just like her Mama! The oldest grandson had a birthday this week and went back to school on the same day. Amie says it seems mighty unfair to the other kids that each year school starts on his birthday and he comes home to cake and ice cream. I told her it can't hurt that every body in the house gets cake and ice cream on the first day of school, so why worry?
John and I made a trip over to the mountain this week. Summers are one season when we've never been and it was awfully near not being summer when we went this week. So many of our trees are changing already and golden rod blooming and there was a chill in the air though it was out of the south and not the north that just added to the feeling there was a seasonal change afoot. We got lost...but you knew that didn't you? We always seem to manage somehow to get lost and then we find ourselves once more but tensions do build while we're lost. And I cannot blame anyone but myself for being lost, it rests fully upon my head.
You see, the way we've always gone to the mountain involves crossing a highway with limited sight distance. We've narrowly missed accidents three of the four times we've been there. It becomes rather unnerving, you know? So I suggested we could go a different route. All well and good, but I guessed at it and didn't check a map. We saw some lovely land and a few tiny communities that used to be but we were unaware of where we were exactly. John held his tongue and wisely I bit hard on mine and prayed a lot, lol. I finally decided after we came to a proper small town to look in the dash pocket and hope we had a map. We did and happily I recognized a road that led us back to the mountain but truly we were about 40 minutes later arriving than we might have been had we just chanced crossing that highway one more time.
We went to sit on the edge of the stone wall which, sun warmed as it was, felt heavenly on my aching hip. John started to pray and barely got started when we were interrupted by a couple of a motorcycles arriving. No harm mind you, we seldom have the place to ourselves and we don't mind a bit sharing that beautiful, peaceful place with others. There's an almost profound atmosphere there that extends far beyond the era of the President who enjoyed that place. Well another couple arrived and then departed and then another and we just sat and gazed and spoke quietly of the views before us. Then everyone left except the couple who'd arrived just after we did.
They came down near us to take photos and I offered to move if they wanted to shoot from a different angle...and then we all began to talk. They had traveled from Alabama, about an hour away as we were and came as often as they could because they loved the place so. We understood that. Then it was shared that their youngest had just begun kindergarten and she was feeling a bit lost. I understood perfectly and spoke of how when Katie left home at 18, even though I was looking forward to that next step in our lives I'd struggled, a far deeper one than I'd expected. And the conversation just went on and on, all four of us speaking and sharing and identifying with where the other had been in their journey...I suppose we talked a half hour or possibly an hour, words tumbling out of us all, heads nodding in agreement as we compared experiences that were similar. Do you know we shared some rather personal details about our lives but we never exchanged names. I know their home town. They know ours. As time passed she looked regretfully at her watch and said to her husband, "We really have to go..." I thought of them going home in time to meet the school bus and pick up their children and thought of Amie doing the same today and even of the time the bus arrives at the stop sign on the hill here at home.
After they left John prayed "Thank you God for bringing us here when you did, the way you did, just at the right time to speak with these lovely people..." and there was a sense of rightness about the prayer, just as there had been about the way we'd come.
We never did get real prayer time there this time. More people arrived and we felt we surely were keeping others from coming down to sit and enjoy the place as we had, so we left. It was only disappointing in a very small way mind you. I think perhaps we didn't need to pray, that we'd already been there for God's purpose. I don't know what was imparted between us and the other couple that was important but something was, some seed of something that will grow and bloom over time.
Following the trip to the mountain we went to The Bulloch House to eat. It's just good Southern food, not fancy though it is a nice dining experience all the same. I had a spoonful of a broccoli casserole that was so good. I asked for the recipe. Now I was forewarned that the amounts wouldn't be shared, since they make up huge batches at one time but I was given a list of the ingredients. I figured that would be enough to help me find the recipe online. Well after hours of searching, I can tell you quite sincerely, "Nope that is not enough." I even asked friends on facebook for help with none forthcoming. The ingredients list were as follows: cheese, salt, pepper, eggs, croutons, boiled broccoli, blue cheese dressing and 'a little ranch dressing'. Do you have a similar recipe you'd be willing to share? The blue cheese dressing was a surprise to me because it doesn't stand out at all. The dish did taste cheesy but was not gooey with cheese at all. It was soooo good! And all this time later I've discovered it is called Broccoli Strata...Recipes abound online.
This past weekend I took advantage of some of my alone time to go visit a department store, seeking shoes. I had fairly good luck, coming away with three pair. I don't buy shoes often at all but this year I found myself admiring the lovely sandals so many women are wearing. Not a particular style but just pretty shoes. I've stuck pretty much to good solid shoes. I'm not in the least interested in having my feet hurt. They hurt enough over the years I waited to heal from the damage they suffered in the car accident and there's nothing worse than feet that hurt already being crammed into shoes that make them hurt worse. But here of late I was just longing for pretty shoes.
The shoes I'd worn the past two winters split a seam. They were not pretty. They were, in fact, fairly ugly, but oh they were comfortable! However, shoes that were split, torn in such a way that repair isn't possible...and ugly...certainly warranted new shoes before winter's arrival. I found a cute pair of flats that will do as a dressier pair in a pinch that were comfortable. I know they are comfortable because as I hunted shoes I wore these about the shoe section for quite long time as I looked for more shoes. I found a pair of pretty sandals in a teal blue color, not something I'd normally indulge in but they were so cute! And fit perfectly. And are comfortable. I know because I wore them all afternoon shopping with Mama Wednesday. I also got a pair of Sketchers athletic type shoes in black. I felt almost guilty walking out of the store with three pairs of shoes at once, even as I pondered where to look for two more pair! Yes, really, because you see, I felt brown shoes were also important and of course, I wanted a dressy pair and a casual pair. And I did find a dressy pair that are pretty and feminine looking and blessing upon blessing were on sale for 50% off. I thought I'd found a casual loafer type of shoe but they were, alas, too big; they fit Mama perfectly, so she bought them.
Isn't it odd the way the heart and mind work? Katie left home 4 years ago and I was blindsided by the feeling that I had lost my real purpose in life. Well, I had in a way. But 4 years later I confess I have yet to find a secure foothold. Did her recent marriage shake me further? No...Not really. But it did bring home the fact that here I am still looking for my place in life. I have asked God repeatedly to show me where he'd have me be. The answer seems to be 'at home' though there seems to be little need of my being here. There are no children and no grandchildren near by. My mother is still independent and doesn't need me.
Being as it's a fairly lonely place...and I mean that only in the sense that I am often alone, I seldom feel lonely...I wonder if I can possibly be of benefit to anyone? And then I remember, yet again, the evening I stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes many years ago and God shared that mine was a kitchen sink ministry. Well there's still a kitchen and still a sink and still me here facing it.
As you know, that sink seems to constantly be in the process of being filled up and emptied out again. It's a never ending process, isn't it? I walk away and a couple of hours later return to find it filled with a coffee cup, a pot or pan, a bowl, a plate, a few pieces of silverware. I empty it out and walk away and return and there's a few pieces more. I find, often, as I am standing there filling the dishwasher or hand washing a few items, that my thoughts turn to family or friends, and I start to pray. Every single time.
It's the same when I dust furniture or water plants or vacuum. Those are needed tasks I do to keep our home clean and neat, but prayers go up constantly all through the day. I make a meal and I pray. I mop the floors and I pray. My physical body might well be here in this lonely place, but my heart and mind are in the world well beyond my little home. I should learn not to question God's ability to reach the world even through a homemaker who seldom ventures more than 40 miles from home. I have no idea how often someone has been reached or a miracle has been worked simply because I, a home maker, stood my ground in my kitchen and did what God asked me to do. I don't want to know, not here on earth, how often that has happened, nor how often I might have failed, because I was too caught up in my search for finding my purpose, to do my part.
I've let go of many things over the past three years as we've walked this journey. Each time I think I've given up all I can give up and then God asks me to give up something more. It is the parable of the rich young man all over again. What do I have to do? What He asks me to do. How much do I have to leave behind? All that He asks me to leave. Today I want to let go of my desire to question God about where He wants me to be. He knows where I am. I am here.
Well my dears, it's been a lovely chat time. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and hope you have as well. Next time we shall have coffee. The season is changing. There is a whole lovely season coming to enjoy. I've bought a few new pieces for a Fall wreath that I want to work on. There are Chrysanthemums and leaves and burlap to work with...