Iced Tea Chat - Better Things to Come

Hello all.  Come on in and let's settle right down with a glass of iced tea.  I've had a busy day today and a busy one tomorrow and heavens, then there's Friday and the week will be done and where did it go?!  Well it's still mid-week and while it's true it's flying past, I'll not rush it on.  However, I am ready to take a bit of a break and hope you're ready for one, as well.

What on earth have you been up to?  I can tell you what I've been up to and what I haven't rather quickly I'm afraid.  What I've been up to is trying to pinpoint what I want to change in my home and life.  I've started with my desk/work space.  It's not suited me for a long time and irritates me no end because I can't push it flush up against the wall without interfering with the blinds and curtain to the window.  If the desk were but 4 inches less wide it would be perfect, but it's not 4 inches less and there's no real way to manage to make it so without messing it up entirely.  I could, if my wood working son were at home tell him what I want and he could alter what I have or build me something fresh.  Alas the Coast Guard insists upon his staying in the line of duty so I do without, lol.   So I'm looking for an affordable alternative.  In the meantime....I make the best of what I've got.

I did determine that clearing off the desk would be a huge help and I've found some place to put every thing except my make up box.  You see, my desk also serves as my vanity since it's in the most brightly lit room of the house with both good natural light and bright clear lightbulbs when it's not day light out.  But where to put that make up box?  I haven't a single spot where I could fit it at present...I must study on that problem for a bit.

So I cleared the desk and I straightened the bulletin board up and I've been thinking what I require to make that work space attractive.  I need artwork or photos or both.  I could really use a shelf.  I'd like to have flowers on my work space because that's just who I am.  Something like this sweet little bouquet I put together over the weekend:

I like mixed bouquets of what I have on hand...In this case, carnations with coleus, basil and mint I was rooting.  I thought it all worked rather well together.

So I felt I started the week off well getting the desk cleared up and finding places for nearly everything that I had allowed to clutter the top.   Now I can work at my desk and not have to constantly shift things about.  I'm looking forward...Yes, I said forward, because I haven't yet taken my computer to that area to use!  But I will.  As in, I will as soon as I'm done here today.  

We were meant Monday to go down and pick up John's check but he wanted to cut lawn.  Now that was necessary and  past due, but we'd had rain every day for seven days.  Hard heavy showers every day. Not complaining.  It beats those summers when we have no rain for hundreds of days and watch water tables drop.  It does make it difficult to cut the lawn when you really need to cut twice a week but let once a week suffice; you do not need ten days between mowing.   So he went out to work on the lawn, planning to come in later and shower and we'd go down to get the check.

There is nothing more lovely than a fresh mown lawn. And nothing that looks more unkempt than one that is past due a good mowing! 

I don't know how it was other places but here in the South there was a healthy respect for the 'swept' yard until I was in my teens.  You saw it often enough to know just what it was.  Generally an older home with a smooth dirt yard all about the house.  Not a blade of grass anywhere.  You could have a swept yard of packed down dirt and beautiful flower beds with neatly marked walkways, etc.  As I said it was mostly about older homes and in latter years mostly about the homes of older men and women who had never known nor wanted to know the convenience of a gas or electric push mower.  On a farm often the yard was swept.  Who had time for such as mowing lawn when there were umpteen other tasks more in need of tending to?

Generally, the swept yard existed about homes that also had a working well.  Not just a pump house, but a good old fashioned well that was kept in reserve (and in some cases was the sole source of running that you ran from the house to the well and back again once the bucket was filled).  Also to be seen often and often was the wash pot and the pile of ash that accumulated underneath it.  As a lovely old black woman told me one day in the nursing home "There's nothing like the smell of clothes that have been boiled clean and hung to dry." 

If you think she was just clinging to old ways, well she was.  Remember that for many of us rural folks in Georgia, electricity didn't come in until the late 1950s or early 1960s.  In fact, I well recall living in a house that not only had no indoor plumbing but no running water and no well.  We hauled water from Granny's up to our place.  We did have electricity which consisted of one light bulb in each of four rooms in the main house and in the old detached kitchen, a plug for the washing machine which Mama filled by hand.  And yep, there was an outhouse and we used it.  A rather nice little outhouse sheltered next to a big old tree that likely wasn't but a twig when the outhouse was built a hundred years ago...Mind you also the yard had been so well swept over the hundred or so years the house had stood that even after it was abandoned (before we moved in), that not a blade of grass grew in the yard.

But back to our dear little old lady, who was clinging to old ways, she saw no point in paying money out for something she'd done without all of her days prior.  I tell you truly it's astonishing to know what some of these older folks actually lived off of and even more amazing that they often managed to save substantial sums of money from what we might well call 'not anywhere near enough.'   

Oh I do want to wander about in subjects just now, but I want to remain focused on lawns.  It was the same woman who told me how her job growing up was to keep her mama's yard swept.  She used a sedge broom which they cut from the fields about the house and they swept that yard every single day.   Just like any room in the house.   There wasn't a twig or leaf or a tiny bit of litter anywhere.  Nor loose dirt, either.   The point was to sweep the ground so often that you got it down to a hardened surface.  This meant that it didn't get muddy when it rained because the top soil had all been swept away.

I'm not in the least tempted by the swept yard of years past though I do admire the few homes that keep one these days.  For one thing, we have about three mown acres and that is entirely too much sweeping  to contemplate doing.  For the other, I find that here on our hill, we tend to be muddy and sandy and since this was a proper field once upon a time with evidence still of the terraces that my grandparents put in to prevent erosion I expect we could brush for a hundred and fifty years and never reach that layer that isn't top soil!

While John was outdoors, I rearranged the desk further, and mopped floors and did a few other chores before deciding I was tired and going to rest.   Along about 3:30 I thought, "Hmmm...I just wonder what time the bank closes on weekdays?"   Well it happens they close at 4pm and even if we had jumped right in the car and raced down to the workplace we'd still have missed it.  So no check.  Which meant no cash in our pockets and no dropping off of bills.  Oh well.  That all happened in due time this morning first thing.    Fortunately only one bill needed to go out and unfortunately I forgot to take it to town with me yesterday but then I remembered last night it wouldn't have mattered anyway, as there was no mail service at all and it wasn't leaving town until Wednesday evening when the truck comes through once again.

Monday morning, as I was making dinner in the kitchen, John got a call from his partner and he told John he was going to barbecue at his house on Tuesday.  Just a small gathering of the EMS crew that was working the shift yesterday and I was invited to come down, as well.  This is common for Andy and Debra to do, invite me to come down on a holiday.    In fact, I received my invitation to come to Christmas Day dinner  yesterday this year, as well, since they had worked out the schedule and determined the guys were working that holiday. 

I happily accepted the invitation and was glad of it.  I do hate spending a holiday at home all alone and not having any of the 'fun' of the special day.   My children were all busy with plans of their own which mostly included working hard or doing absolutely nothing at all, which is also something when you have small children at home, lol.  

John had to go to work extra early Tuesday morning, as though his usual hour isn't nearly early enough.  I stayed up yesterday morning because honestly I had a great night's sleep the night before.  I guess just getting up and doing things instead of sitting about thinking of doing them was the key.  I piddled about running down rabbit trails and attempting to earn Swagbucks until it was good solid daylight outdoors then I went out and started that yard work. 

I was very mindful that with the warm humid mornings we'd had of late that snakes might well be out and I was very careful of every move I made.  Please keep this in mind.   Working in that overgrown flower bed about the Faith Tree went without incident.  I trimmed branches that have tended to hang a bit too low now they are fully leafed and cut out weeds and just generally neatened the appearance of the area.  No snakes but the cat had left a rodent she'd killed.  So I'm glad I was keeping my eyes open.  I decided to just leave that alone and come back to getting up plants another day this week.  

I came indoors and took a load of clothes out to the line and brushed the cat who just adores me beyond reason when I have a brush in my hand.  This is a far cry from the cat that took six years to warm up to me after Katie left home..  Had I only known how much a hair brush would have helped I'd have tried it at least 8 years ago.  Back indoors to do another task or two and then I showered and readied myself to go and had an hour to spare before needing to leave, so I went sliding down another few genealogy trails.  It's a terrific way to make time really fly.

Then I headed out.  I stopped to lock the door and thought, as I did so, "What is that curious sound?"  It was a bit like a swishing sort of sound.  I couldn't imagine what it might be but soon found out when I was about three feet from the back steps, the sound was slightly louder.  I looked just slightly left and there it was.  Coming at me, full speed on, was a 3-4 foot black snake.  I mean it was speeding across the grass and while it was curiously beautiful, I confess here and now I don't do snakes very well.  I eeked and screeched and moved fast to get out of his path,  thinking surely if he saw me he'd stop, but no.  It just kept coming.  We passed like the two proverbial ships, both equally determined to get to where we were going. The sound I'd heard was the sound he made slipping over the dry grass John cut Monday afternoon. 

Maddie, in the meantime, steps over the snake to come greet me with a waving tail and a wide grin...If only the snake had wings.  Maddie would have been on him like fleas on a dog.  In fact, I'd had to scold her for pounding the siding of the house in an attempt to catch a bee earlier that  morning...

I hopped into my car and looked to see where the snake was headed and he went right into my pretty little backstep flower bed and down behind the dog water bowl.    I was amazed at his speed...and amazed at my own in getting out of his way!  I mean his speed truly was remarkable.  I know snakes aren't generally lanquid sorts but this one could easily have outrun a person.

I know that black snakes are beneficial snakes.  I know this.  I know that they are good company on any farm where there are rodents and poisonous snakes.  You know I sat there for a full five minutes, shaking like a leaf trying to figure out if there were any little holes in the siding where he might get under the house and if so were there any places where he might get in but I couldn't think of even one so I calmed down and drove on down to the barbecue.

It is a unique experience to get to see my husband on his work day.  Rose asked if I'd said John worked a 24 hour shift.  He does. With the schedule change it will be 24 hours with two days off between shifts and work again. 

It is a long hard shift, often without a break for those guys, made more difficult now that the local hospital closed and they must drive an average of one hour to any one of three different hospitals depending upon where they are in the county at the time.  We were all quietly hopeful for a quiet afternoon but Andy no sooner than got the grill hot when a call came in.   The other team agreed they would go out since Andy was in the midst of cooking.  He'd just taken up the meat and brought it indoors when the tones dropped again.  So off went Andy and John and there was Debbie and I and her mom and daughter having a regular old girl's luncheon.  

It was all quite nice.  Debbie had kept it simple which meant she was relaxed and really I think it's the best sort of compliment to company anyway when it's kept simple.  It says that you really like the people you're entertaining and don't feel it's necessary to be showy.  Oh it was showy enough.  She'd decorated the table nicely with flags and old soda bottles (Vintage Pepsi bottles look awesome with flags in them!) and she'd made a lovely cake decorated especially for the holiday, and had pretty flag patterned plates and napkins.  So yes, there was a bit of fuss but the food was just good simple food.  And we talked and talked and talked.  The first crew came back and we sat and talked and they left to go get more fuel and we talked.   Then Andy and John came in and we sat and talked while they were eating and just thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Do you know what I came away with at the end of the day?  A lovely relaxed feeling, of having spent a day well and been satisfied on every front.  I'd done a good amount of work, accomplished a good amount of a favored hobby, had time with friends and celebrated a holiday.  And avoided a very focused snake.  So yeah, it was a great day, lol.  I finished off the day watching "A Capitol Fourth" on PBS.  Wow oh wow those were some spectacular fireworks!

I could hear fireworks going off in the neighborhood all about me but all I could see was fireflies when I stood on either porch.  Fireflies are rather pretty but they don't live up to the noise fireworks make.

This morning has been busy enough.  What with John's day after work big breakfast and errands to run and a big box of corn to be put up.  I wanted to cream it and while it's a lot of trouble it's worth while to do so.  Shucking and de-silking and then cutting it off the cob takes  a lot of effort but I was so blessed to receive that corn!  I'd been wanting to go down and pick some up and this was the very last short check.  No purchasing corn with a short check.  I have just enough funds to buy our routine groceries and they are much needed at this time.  So yes, doubly blessed to be given this box of corn yesterday and very happy that the blessing came!  It's one of those "Oh I'll be so happy to taste summer come winter..." sort of good foods.  I put up four 1 pint containers and two 1 1/2 pint containers of creamed corn.  We had some boiled ears with our dinner, too.  Yum!

I'm not much of one for 'cooking country' but I do like my bit of creamed corn for those times when I DO want to cook country foods.  Honestly nothing in this world tastes better in January than a nice country meal with a generous serving of home made cream style corn.  With peach cobbler to follow up the meal.  It's like summer time right in the middle of winter.

I was pretty tired by the time I cooked dinner and cleared up after, today.  All that early morning energy was d-o-n-e done.   I allowed myself to get caught up in a film that John announced he didn't like but then didn't change the channel to avoid seeing either.  He was soon dozing off in his chair, so I just sat and watched it.  It was 'Beloved Infidel', the story of F. Scott Fitzgerald's affair with gossip columnist Sheila Graham.  Deborah Kerr stars in this film with Gregory Peck as Fitzgerald.

There are a lot of things not to like about the film but I mostly watched because I enjoyed the clothing which apparently was not the styles of the late 1930s and early 1940s which is when the film was meant to take place.   I loved the two beach side cottages which were lovely and decorated in such a nice way.  Probably no one who sees the film will ever look at the kitchen canisters sitting on the tile ledge, but I did!  They were just lovely...And the upholstery pattern on the chair he was using to work from had a subtle pattern of green woven in with all the browns.  Rather stunning material really.  The books on the shelves had little labels on the spines that said "Sheila Graham's special edition" which was rather interesting to me.  Not many of us label our books on the spine in such a way.

I read Fitzgerald's books when I was younger, but what I recall was mostly feeling rather dissatisfied.  Yes, the prose was lovely, it really was.  But the sort of spoiled rich he wrote about (even from the perspective of someone who wasn't rich) just did not appeal to me at all.  I suppose I ought, from this side of my life, read them again.  I like to do that now and then with books, to see if I get a changed view.

I tried that with Sinclair Lewis' book Main Street, which I'd thought very pivotal in my young years.  In re-reading last year, I found I didn't much care for the book at all.  The political view points were not so far off some of today and the morality of the books no better or worse either, but the tone of the book, of people being so dissatisfied with life, just doesn't suit me in the least.  I was able to let go of that book when I set it aside.

Bess was sharing with me last week  that she'd finished reading Anne of Avonlea  by Lucy Maude Montgomery.  She said she supposed she'd read it as a child, but didn't remember it.  Funnily enough I'd re-read the book in the last year and I can say sincerely I laughed and cried as much as I had when I read it first 38 years ago.  Yes, I was an adult, about Bess' age, when I first read the book and I found it so powerful that coming to the end of the book must have been as Alice felt when she fell out of the rabbit hole back into her real life once more.   I find Laura Ingalls Wilder and Elizabeth Goudge are just the same for me.  And D. E. Stevenson.  Oh and I could name more. 

I do love a good read but I guess what I really want in a book is to 'get lost' and not be found for awhile.  To be removed from who and what I am and step out of myself and feel I've become someone else.  It's a powerful good bit of writing that can do that for you.  And when a book is 100 years or so of age and still transporting folks, that is saying something.

I think it proves the power of words.  You know I've been reading a lot about words in the Bible of late.  Not about the words themselves, but about the power of the words we speak.  I've had reason to contemplate the power of words and how they can make us see things one way when they are really not that way at all.  How we can view a person based on the words said about them by others who might never have really known them at all.  How a certain situation might well not be what it was made to appear.  Words are so powerful that not only do they create an illusion they can cause you to believe that all was exactly as you were told.  It is hard to explain how prevalent a lie can become in your life.  But there comes a day when you are confronted by what is real.   The illusion is shattered forever.  You look through broken glass at what you believed the past to have been.

This is not always a bad thing, mind you.   You walk forward with  new vision, a new perspective.  It's a sign that there are better things to come.

Well dears the afternoon is nearly gone.  I have to get busy and plan supper.  I'm thinking leftovers reheated will do just fine.  Step careful as you go out that back door...You'll want to watch for that black snake.


Debby in KS said...

Eeeek! Your snake story had me with my feet in the air!! I don't do well with snakes. When we lived in the SoCal foothills, we'd occasionally see one. I always went the other way, if walking. If I was driving, I'd raise my feet up and shriek. Probably not the safest, but it wasn't a planned reaction!

That was really interesting to hear about swept yards. That is entirely new to me. We always had lawns. My relatives in the SW always had rock & succulent gardens. My grandpa loved gardening so he would often combine both lawns & flowers with succulents and SW plants like rosemary.

I think I'm having a midlife crisis!! I'm very unsettled in my present state, but not at all sure how to fix it. I'm so fortunate to not have to work, but I don't feel productive these days. Don't get me wrong, I'm busy. But I feel somewhat like I did when I was working. I'm doing plenty, but not doing anything in an outstanding way. Or maybe a better word is fulfilling. I dunno. Like I said....midlife crisis!! Time for reflection. I've been doing the same thing for 13 yrs. now and I think it's about time for a change.

Anne said...

I also sometimes watch bad movies from the '50s just to look at the clothing and home furnishings, so I understand completely.

The snake story was hilarious. I used to live on an acre and a half and there was the very occasional snake. My husband always said they were non poisonous snakes and I could not be harmed. I kept explaining to HIM that death from a heart attack would make me just as dead as from a snake bite.

He, and my two sons, entered into a pact not to tell me when they saw a snake on the property. I didn't find this out for years after we moved, but I was very grateful they did.

Margie from Toronto said...

It was so interesting to read about the "Swept Yard" - I know that I'm a big city girl but I've never heard of this before (even though I have travelled to the south a couple of times).

You sound as though you get a lot accomplished every day. I've just been retired (early and not my idea) and I am also a bit out of sorts and trying to get into a new routine. I am trying to enjoy the summer as it is the first I've had off since I was 15! Today was an absolutely gorgeous day weather wise - about 78F with clear blue skies and a lovely breeze down by Lake Ontario. Some plans I had ended up postponed until Friday so I called a friend and she offered to drive us down to a new park and walking path that has just opened. It was very quiet being a week day and we had a lovely walk along the lake and admired all the plantings and structures and giant rock formations that have been included. It is near to the island airport so we were also entertained by all the small propellor planes landing just over the sails of many of the sailboats on the lake!

We then drove out to a small town outside of Toronto (Oakville) had a lovely light lunch of quiche and ice-cream at a little cafe and then walked down to the park at their end of the lake. We got lots of sun and I've no doubt that I will sleep well tonight.

I love reading your recaps of your week and all the frugal ideas you blog about. Being on a pension is making for a big change in lifestyle - and even though I plan to go back to work part-time in the Fall I am looking to reduce costs and save money while still having a nice life - so - thank you for taking the time to post and giving us lots to think about.

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

The swept yard was something I had never heard of before, but then there are a lot of things I have never heard of. I don't think it would work around here where I am in Missouri, though my husband would be all for it if it would. We would be super retro.

Having to boil the wash would sure take care of everybody's leggings, wouldn't it. I can't imagine how many people must have gotten scalded doing that. Before 1949 when electric came to their farm, my great aunt Hulda had a washing machine that was gas powered sort of like a lawn mower. My dad said it had a pull cord like a lawn mower.

I got a chuckle out of you and the black snake. My Mom was terrified of snakes. I am wary of them until I know exactly what kind they are. My Grandpa and Grandma who lived down in the country had a big black snake that they permitted to live in the attic of their house. It met a bad end when my uncle killed it because my aunt and cousin found out about it and were terrified of being in a house with a snake in the attic. Grandpa was not happy to have lost his snake that way.

Delorise said...

Ok I am aging myself but I remember the 'Swept yards' as a child. I remember my precious Aunt Alma making her brooms to sweep her yards. Oh what sweet memories your posting brought back. I also remember the out houses--thank heavens for the day we got an indoor bathroom. I don't recall never not having electricity or running water but I do remember the wringer type washing machine and the hanging clothes on clothes lines because dryers didn't exist or if they did we hadn't heard of them or couldn't afford one.
Loved your snake story-- our neighbor recently stepped out onto his porch and found a brown snake laying against the wall. That was a little to close to home he thought. We have to worry about snakes eating the eggs our chickens lay.
The humidity this week has been horrible but I guess we in Mid Ga shouldn't complain as so far this has been one of the mildest, wettest summers in years. Fingers crossed that it continues to be that way.
I am so glad that Johns' job situation as been resolved but it is so sad that so many rural hospitals have closed.
Hope you have as great a next week as this one.

Anonymous said...

I am another who has never heard of a swept yard. Here in western NY we have green grass which will turn brown in August if it is really hot and dry and lawns are not watered.By September we are getting enough rain they are green again. I would have been screaming my head off over a snake. We did a garter snake the other day, the first one that I have seen in years. Glad you had a chance to enjoy the holiday. I know you spend many of them alone. Gramma D

Deanna Piercy said...

I recall my grandmother talking about having a swept yard when she was growing up. In a way, that's what we've got behind our house but not by design. There used to be grass there but after 10 years of hosting an annual music festival with 200 people dancing on that area, not a blade of grass grows in that area - ha!

I'm always a bit amazed when I am reminded of how late the conveniences of indoor plumbing and such came to rural areas of the South. My dad grew up in rural Oklahoma with no running water while my mom grew up in California where that was unheard of. Despite being of the same generation their childhood experiences were a world apart.

Karla Neese said...

I can handle a lot of things but snakes is not one of them. Yikes!

Your BBQ sounds so nice with a chance to catch up and connect with the other ladies from the EMS.

Our reading likes sound very familiar. I have read several of F. Scott Fitzgerald's books back in college and tried so desperately to like them, but just couldn't. Like you, I want to be lost in a book and I want it to be one I can read and read and read again. Laura Ingalls Wilder does that for me as well.

Hope you have a good week!

Karla Neese said...

I forgot something - I love old movies because I too look at the costuming, the house set up, the decor, etc. Love that style!

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