Coffee Chat: October Blue and Gray

Coffee anyone?  Never fear...It's not quite cool enough yet to hide indoors.  We can take it on the porch again if you'd like. There  are spice cookies too. Tempt you much?  Have a seat and join me.

We're having a lovely October and I don't mean the weather.  That has been weather, which means it's been changeable as weather usually is, and is often one thing or another.  No, the lovely parts have been non-weather related.

John worked  Friday a week ago so I'm going to start there...He worked and I went off to buy two more blinds while the $10 off $50 purchase card was still good for Lowes.  I don't know about now but Lowe's has/had clearance prices on their drapes and some of them were pretty good (50%) and some were Amazing.  I couldn't find 2-6 of any one type of panel I liked to do any window/room in my house, so I looked for naught, but it was fun to imagine getting such a great buy on curtains.

It was stinking hot and the air was heavy and humid.  Ugh. I'd thought I'd do a bit of thrifting but it was so unpleasant that the idea of getting in and out of the car half a dozen times  and wandering about in humid buildings (why is the air con always on the blitz in these places?), then getting in car just long enough for the air conditioning to start cooling before the next stop was not appealing in the least.  Instead, I headed back home and stopped off at the flea market.

Well things hadn't changed much there.  I went in and the place was fairly busy, as it had been last week.  The woman who runs the place was out for a moment, but her husband was standing in for her.  He's a talky sort which is nice but I wanted to look about a bit.  I never made it much past six feet from the counter for the first twenty minutes I was in the store.  I found a curtain panel and three picture frames in the sizes I wanted for my guest room, so perhaps it's as well I didn't wander too far.

It was one of those small town things there in the store.  The man chattering away, running into an acquaintance who chatted, listening to gentle bartering, exchanging pleasantries with others...It was just nice, but stopping in to check on my booth took me roughly 35 minutes...that too is a small town thing.

Saturday morning, after John came in from work, we headed to Athens and a weekend long visit with the two youngest children.  It was still warm, quite warm, but beautifully sunny.  We sort of meander when we're heading up and honestly that is a nice way to travel. By meander I mean we aren't in a hurry and drive slowly.  Personally, I'd love to do a more or less loiter and stop at every interesting little old town and antique/thrift shop along the way, of which there is a plethora all along that route.   No one I know is ever interested in loitering, but at least John will usually savor the drive.

We stopped in the nearest town to us to drop off an item at the post office, stopped at the store to purchase a couple of items that were necessary.  I walked across the parking lot to buy boiled peanuts.  In the South, this is perfectly normal this time of year, just as roasted chili peppers abound in New Mexico.  Usually run by older men, generally small farmers who are retired, they set up shop with a big steel pot of water and a propane burner, green peanuts and boxes of salt.

I knew Katie and Sam loved boiled peanuts as much as I do, so I bought three bags, all warm and lovely from the pot.  I enjoyed talking with the man who told me the cost was $3 a bag but with three I'd save a dollar.  I told him how much I appreciated that dollar these days.  He informed me his wife was a coupon queen.  So our small talk was established and we shared our earnest concerns about the current economic situation, our great appreciation for the long years of thrifty living that help us get by now, and laughed comfortably together over our love for boiled green peanuts.  I suppose this man must have been in his late 70's and possibly even early 80's.  "I eat them all the time.  I eat them every day.  I don't ever tire of them."  And as I paid him, "Ah...Now Mama has a little more money for Christmas presents."

I'm not in the least surprised that the man eats his peanuts every day.  And he'd no doubt credit it with his longevity.  A friend's grandfather lived into his mid-90's.  He said his secret was eating a sweet potato every day.  Honestly?  I think working and resting and eating good plain foods are all helpful in living long.  Granny always said "All things in moderation," and she meant it.  Sweets, fats, greens, fruit, vegetable, meat...I think coffee was about the only thing she ignored keeping in moderation and had you asked her she'd have said it was moderate for her.

We stopped again outside of Watkinsville at a fruit stand, this time to buy apples, specifically Winesap apples.  Winesap are not such a popular variety in supermarkets but I do love them!  The apples are grown here in the northern part of Georgia (that's the apple region) and it's one of the bonuses of having the children live in Athens.  I bought an extra large basket of apples this time.  I planned to make an apple pie, wanted to give some to the children, wanted some to eat out of hand.  I chatted a bit with the ladies there as I made my purchase but it wasn't quite as easy as the chatter with the old farmer.  The apple stand was a good bit busier than the peanut stand had been.

I got to spend some time with that newest grandson that afternoon.  He smiled at me, dimpling his cheeks.  I was pretty pleased but then he needed to express himself a bit better so he spit out his pacifier and grinned from ear to ear at me.  Well, my heart pitter pattered an extra few beats.  Nothing like a little boy's grin is there?  The monkey actually laughed out loud at his grandpa.  John made up a song and sang it to him.  The hook was the exclamation of 'Grandpa!' and each time he said it, he'd bring Josh up close to his chest which made him chuckle and finally laugh out loud.  Well Grandpa wasn't giving up the little fella anytime soon after that!  I did have time to hold him a bit more and sought his smiles, which were sweetly given here and there.  He kept chewing on his tongue and I put my finger in his mouth and felt a swollen lump on his gum. He is apparently cutting an incisor first.

Samuel made dinner for us, individual pizzas of various types and Bess came in from work in time to eat, though she'd been meant to work all evening.  Seems more people went out of town than they'd expected, so work was light and workers in too plentiful supply.  It was a  pleasant and happy visit topped off with wonderful news of a very soon to be marriage, already booked with the local Justice of the Peace for Sam and Bess.  John and I were deeply joyful over this news.

We headed to our hotel which was downtown and did right well getting there.  The instructions insisted there was a fork in the road and a left hand turn that we never did come across.  We just shrugged our shoulders and were glad we found the hotel without any trouble.

I won't say much about the hotel.  It was neither the best nor the worst place we've stayed and it was neither the most restful or the least restful.  It was a hotel and it was conveniently located between both Sam and Kate's homes.  It was packed when we arrived and cleared out somewhat on Sunday.

We'd been informed of a change in time for the game John was to attend so he got to spend some time with Katie the next morning when she came to pick me up.  My girl looked lovely and was glad to see her parents.  We left to go to lunch with her mother- and sister-in-law.  The ride was lovely and Katie assured me I'd be even happier when I saw our destination.  It was well within view of the foothills of  the north part of the state and absolutely beautiful.  It was, at that time, cool and rainy.  We had brunch (at least her mother-in-law and I did, the girls ate proper dinners) in a lovely restaurant.  It was delicious and we enjoyed our visit.  I like Katie's in-laws quite well.  They are just nice people and the world has far too few of the sort of folks that are just plain nice.  Her mother-in-law and I are of the same age range and were quite comfortable chatting away while the two girls talked.  The food was delicious, perfectly prepared.  After dinner we opted for coffee.  I was much amused when I asked the girl for decaf and Lisha turned to her and said "And I'd like coffee."  I knew full well she meant caffienated by the inflection, which made me chuckle.

Then off to do some shopping.  The area there is a little odd. You ride through long stretches of country and then you come upon a shopping center, a nice upscale sort of place, then lots of cookie cutter, look alike houses perched in a barren looking area and then more country roads before you come upon the next shopping area.   It is not at all like my area where you run across homes in the country but seldom a neighborhood and never a shopping center, but that is all considered more or less suburbs for Atlanta there and not at all like here.

Katie and I enjoyed our little bit of shopping, which was nothing much, then she said, "Mumsie I'm going to take you for a ride."  The skies cleared, the humidity lifted, and the temperatures dropped.  We let the windows down to blow through our hair, put on our sunglasses and off we went.  A rambling sort of  ride is something we both enjoy.  We drove little narrow paved roads with sharp "S" curves that meandered through proper small towns.  She pointed out the prettiest patches of goldenrod, and a becoming lake and slowed at a country store that was also a butcher shop and a gas station and a fishermans' supply.  Here and there we'd come across a clear space and there were the foothills before us.  That girl knows just what I like, all too well, and the ride was made that much more enjoyable by her happy chatter.

Along about evening she proclaimed herself tired.  We stopped at a grocery to pick up items for supper (mine was a frozen dinner and a handful of things for next morning's breakfast) and she dropped me off at the hotel where I spent several pleasant hours reading the paper, working on the puzzles, watching TV and such. I got along quite well by myself at first but as the evening dragged on, I began to worry.  I'd heard nothing from John since early afternoon and it was about 10pm.  I texted him but got no reply.  I waited twenty minutes and then called his phone and he assured me he was coming into the hotel parking lot at that moment.  Perhaps it was silly of me to get worried, but I did. He was in downtown Atlanta, you see, and I know nothing about Atlanta at all except that it is a big city and not a small hometown.  And then he was 2-3 hours from Athens, so there was a long road to travel and I wasn't sure how heavy traffic might be.  I should have known he was fine, since he was well prayed over and he was with Samuel who is all too familiar with all the roadways between Athens and Atlanta, courtesy of his job.

John and Sam attended a pro football game (Falcons versus Bears) and John was as excited to share all about his day.  He absolutely loved every moment even the not so pleasant bits (walking uphill and getting blisters on his feet after a heavy lunch) and then climbing into the sky for his seats.  He and Sam always have a load of things to talk over and they talked their fill on the ride to and from the stadium.  I shared all about my day with Katie and before we knew it, it was midnight.  I don't think John did more than lie down before falling fast asleep and he slept all night long.  I, on the other hand, lay awake.  Love mid-life.

But it was more than a little too much caffeine and humidity that kept me awake.  It was truly a lovely weekend from start to finish, even the not so nice bits (minor things).   I could hardly sleep for thinking about how nice it had been.  It was one of the first trips from home I've made without a mini crisis of my own in nearly three years.  That made it remarkable for me right there.  And everything was just so nice, from the moment we left home until the end of the day Sunday.  The game was courtesy of tickets given to Sam.  Lunch was a surprise treat from Katie's mother-in-law.  The children were so welcoming and so obviously glad to have us for more than a flying visit.  The weather changed from hot and humid to cool and lovely.  That was nice as well.

We left early Monday morning.  It was a lovely ride home with lots of cool air and fog that slowly burnt off as the day warmed a little.  We rode with the windows down and I begged John to pull over and let me get my sweater from the trunk.  There's nothing cozier than a sweater when it's really really cool.  At one point we were driving down a forested roadway and a single tree of beautiful burnt orange showered leaves slowly down.  It was almost as though the world had slipped into slow motion speed, that's how they fell...and that moment as we both turned to look was slow motion, too.  It got clearer and warmer the closer we got to home and by the time we reached the house, the air conditioning was most welcome.  We had only minor things to do at home and spent the afternoon talking about how lovely the weekend had been.  And it was.

Tuesday was a memorable day, too.  I woke at 3 am to thunder and lightning and pounding rain and it kept it up all day long.  I meant to clear up the kitchen really well, which needed it, but somehow I found myself arm deep in making apple pie.  Not a bad thing to do on a very rainy Tuesday, but definitely not cleaning.  I find baking cathartic and I was a little tense,  awaiting news from Katie of a medical test result.

The apple pie recipe was not difficult, but not exactly as 'easy' as the title suggested either.  It involved making a sort of butterscotch sauce.  I think wet weather and overcooking just made mine a mess. Perhaps I should have left it as it was when it went slightly solid, because when I reheated it, the butter separated from the brown sugar.  I was supposed to top that with a pie crust, but mine fell in the pan when I got the much awaited text from Katie and was all catywampus and the hot butterscotch was not cooperating with straightening out the shell so I just left it.  Everything from that point went into the pan with tears so thick I was blinded.  I put the pie in the oven and sat down and boohooed hard for several minutes before texting back to Katie. Nope not crying over the silly pie.  I knew it would be edible no matter how bad it looked.  I cried over Katie's news. Katie's news was good...she's expecting a baby and after two miscarriages this pregnancy appears to be completely normal.  We saw the heartbeat and fetus via ultra sound.

I took a faith step a couple of weeks ago and bought a onesie and two changing pads and carried them to Katie this past weekend. My girl was afraid to accept that this was a viable pregnancy until the appointment this week but I just felt in my bones I needed to move ahead in utter faith...It wasn't a sense of relief that overwhelmed me to tears it was pure gratitude and joy.  Well I wasn't the only one to cry.  Bess told me she'd been changing the baby's stinky diaper and burst into tears over the text.  I'm afraid baby boy looked askance at her, thinking he certainly hadn't done anything worth tears.  Niece Ashley promptly replied that she too was mid-diaper change and was moved to tears.  I'm not really sure what these babies must think of Mama's who can't change a diaper without crying, but I know full well what my husband thought of this Mama who couldn't put the apple pie in the oven without weeping hard!

Well the week from there wasn't remarkable, just lovely as could be.  Friends came by while doing us a favor. We had a late Harvest day, we bought groceries, we exclaimed over the glorious weather, we watched deer.  John hung my new set of blinds.  We messed up and didn't change the really badly broken one in the living room window for the one better one in the dining room window and didn't discover what we'd done until we'd carried them to the dumpsters.  We had a sweet Shabat, a restful Saturday and a visit from my brother and then the week off was done.  We might not have had 'vacation' this October but it felt like a vacation.  It was more than we expected.  I think we smiled all week long and I mean that sincerely.

I didn't work hard on projects  last week but I did do a few things.  I switched a few pieces about in the living room and decorated for Fall in a small way.  Want to see?
I added a bit of blue this year.  I like it!
                                                  (I just noticed the books coordinate...)

                                         For all that my house is bright, some areas just                                                                                                           photograph dark

                             Acorn Salt and pepper from Target, bought weekend with Katie

                                               I moved the dogs and lamp to the mantel

It's not much but I like it as it is.  I used to be over the top decorating and even did a full blown thing for most all of the holidays but with no children at home (and it really was mostly for their benefit), I prefer something that nods at this season.  I confess that if we had more color in our part of the world I'd probably skip this, too, but I do like something that looks like autumn by the time October arrives, much as you will find fresh flowers in my home when March is nearing and Spring just around the corner, but nothing is blooming in the yard.

I walked into the kitchen one evening last week and heard Maddie bark.  Curious, I looked out of the sitting area windows and there were deer standing in the corner of the wooded area that is nearest the house, peering curiously into the house.  Obviously we were both mutually curious.  Maddie barked some more and finally decided to lunge forward as though she was going to give chase.  They all turned on a dime, put up their white tails and bounded off, completely hidden by the trees in two leaps.

I had another encounter this week at dawn one morning.  I was opening the blinds and there were five deer on the opposite side of the fence between properties.  I watched as the four larger ones leaped effortlessly over the fence and the fifth, smaller one, decided that after all she could as easily step through.  This time they just strolled along.  John watched them yet another evening as they walked casually and easily up the driveway and it wasn't until they were nearly out of sight that Maddie decided after all she might chase them a bit.

Seeing the deer has been lovely.  We often do see them this time of year and all through the winter but seldom in summer when they are tending to fawns.  I was thinking that what I seldom see this time of year is rabbits.  I might see one or two but nothing like the dozen that visit the lawn morning and evening in summer months.  I have no idea where they all go. Rabbits are not migratory so they should still be here, but we won't see much of any of them until next summer when it's warm once more.

Nor do we see much of the turkey or quail.  In spring and summer we hear them call out to one another and there's something very peaceful about the shrill whistle "Bob White!" and the gentle gobbling sound.  But this time of year there is none of that.

I have been reading the loveliest book.  I spent quite a long spell reading over the weekend trip to Athens and then picked it up this week for a long day of waiting for John at a work meeting and later getting his hair cut.  It is Tamar Adler's book An Everlasting Meal with the subtitle, "Cooking with Economy and Grace".  I am definitely going to be looking for more of her books.  I love a good narrative type cook book but find them few and far between.  Adler waxes poetic over every thing related to cooking, preparing, and eating with an economical outlook.  No fancy unpronounceable and expensive foodstuffs, nor complicated cooking methods and terms, just plain good cooking.

There are proper recipes though it is not recipe heavy and there are narrated types of recipes where she describes dishes in such a way that you might as easily use it as a recipe.  The sound good sense of  her cookery is what is most striking.  Technical cookery is not her forte, it is instinctive cookery and she explains how she uses every last thing that comes into her kitchen from market to table to leftover, to scraps.   I highly recommend this book as reading. It shall have a spot on my bookshelf for quite a long time and be picked up frequently to be read again and again.

Earlier this past week, inspired by what I was reading in An Everlasting Meal, and at the same time inspired by my new all time low in the grocery budget struggle, (I spent less than $275 this past month and that is $100 less than I allotted.  I was so pleased and determined to make that happen again and again)  I sat down and made out a list of possible future savings to make.  I am also inspired by how close we are to repaying the amount we took for the back porch.  I can pay it off in full within the next 5 weeks, which is a full month earlier than I'd hoped I might and four months earlier than John expected we should.  We've already spoken with my brother about moving up the start date on the front porch renovation. I'm going to have a new series of posts based on the notes I made to amp up savings still more in my home.  I'm leading with savings from the kitchen, followed by savings in other areas...It's a work in progress at the moment but the first post is up with the title Retirement Remedies.

I'm slowly, slowly making progress in the guest/craft room.  I'm still looking hard for bedding, would like to get risers to lift the bed a bit and a bed topper to soften the mattress.  I have an appointment with the chatty disorganized husband of the antique market to look at a bed that's been on his front porch for months.  I'm not sure it's 'the' bed, or if his price is affordable, but having seen the bed on the porch all these months I do feel I have strong bargaining power to get the price in my range if indeed I do like it.

I bought a drop cloth to use as a table cover for the craft table.  The room is still a bit of a mess but I've got a date with a trip to the shed to store some of that stuff away.  I try to do some little thing every day or two to bring it a little further along.  This week my pictures, plates and shelf are ready to hang, and I wrote that down as a goal but I need picture hangers.  So instead,  I hope to get excess stuff put in the shed and the tablecover on the table.  I picked up lamps at the dollar store this week, pulled the shades from the shed last week, so that worked out very nicely and not too expensively.

I've already decided my next focus area of work when I'm all done with the guest/craft room will be the front porch.  I had planned to paint the porch this fall and I still want to do so, at least up to the point where the porch will remain as it is.  I figure if I buy enough paint I can have the extra needed to make the new boards match the older ones.   I also want to put fresh paint on the furniture and  make it pretty once again.  And I'm thinking of changing up my colors out there instead of leaning on the red/white/blue theme I started with...Lots of plans as you can see.

We didn't get to go to the fair this year.  It was the trip to Athens for the weekend or the fair but not both.  However, I was curious to read a local nutritionist's column about fair food this week.

Now John and I are not the sort that go to the fair to indulge in the food.  We pretty much stick to a burger from the VFW booth and perhaps a square of fudge and that's it.  I know many people however, who simply must eat all sorts of goodies.  This guy suggested that people go and indulge themselves.  What he had to say about it made good sense so I want to share it with you.  It might not be the fair but some other event where good food abounds (holidays are coming up!) and it is useful information I think.  First he said, plan what you will indulge in.  Skip a meal prior to going and eat those things you planned to eat.  Drink lots of water and take along some Benefiber or Metamucil or any one of the fiber supplements and drink that while at the fair.  He said it binds the fatty foods and will help to reduce bloating and tummy upset.  He said walk a LOT (we always do when we're at the fair).  Last he suggested that if you felt you really overindulged that you skip another meal or two and  then return to your most healthy habits for a week after.  You see?  Good sensible advice.  I thought it far better than listening to some stupid news program telling us how many HOURS we must exercise to rid our body of calories from one small bite of cotton candy.  I just think this guy has a sensible approach overall, don't you?  It's refreshing instead of hearing all this chatter and talk and such about doing things perfectly all of the time.

Tomorrow my youngest son and his lovely fiancee are getting married...It's sort of the topping on the cake for the past two weeks.   I shall like having Bess as one of my own family.

I referred to her at Katie's wedding as my daughter-in-law to be.  I couldn't think of "fiancee" to save myself that day.  Someone spoke up and asked "Is that even a phrase?  I just refer to my brother's girlfriend as my sister in law..."  I am a little old fashioned perhaps.  As it happened the brother did marry his girlfriend but I am hesitant to give someone the status of family right away as much as I might like them.  I feel it brings unfair pressure to bear upon a couple to too quickly absorb them into a family.  Much as I might like them, what if things don't work out?  What if they try to live up to my expectations and forgo what they know in their heart of hearts is not the relationship for them?  What if we all get terribly close and they break up and it doubles everyone's pain?  I liked Bess the moment I met her, but she and Sam did break up for a time.  I was saddened but I trusted God's wisdom in what was right for each of them.  As it happened, they did get back together.  And now there's a little boy with dimples to love on who will always be part of myself and tomorrow a lovely girl whom I'm glad will be family, as well.

Gracious!  It was good to sit down and catch up once again.  Time for me to get busy once more I'm afraid. There is much to be done, but with all this fresh air, a nap might be in order.  Wasn't it lovely?  I am so glad that you stopped by!  Talk to you again soon.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed An Everlasting Meal too. Have you seen Susan Branch's cookbooks or the ones by Beverly Nye? Susan's are so cute, and Beverly's has some nice thrifty ideas.

There is nothing sweeter than a baby's smile! So glad you could enjoy your little one again before he's all grown up because that seems to happen all too fast!!

I'm enjoying the cooler weather here. I have a big gorgeous orange pumpkin and a basket of little pumpkins out on the deck that catch my eye. Love orange! The burning bushes are fiery red this year. It has been perfect weather to turn them such a pretty red.


Kathy said...

Sounds like a wonderful fall! So glad that you had a good trip to see your children. Congratulations to Katie! Hope all goes well with this pregnancy.

This Week In My Home: Pushing On

In my home this week, I... .... found my attitude wanted less adjusting than in weeks past but still some adjustment was needed all th...