Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hammers & Stuff

I am proud to say that I did not leave my home yesterday. The girls went shopping and amazingly enough L bought Christmas presents for her friends WITH HER OWN $. Now, that makes me proud. M did the same thing but had to get a couple of December birthday presents, too. They came in showing me what they got and who it was for. The eldest did her usual bargain search and has a great sweater. They are all happy.

I stayed home and helped Mr. H finish putting walls on the pump house. There is something very satisfying about hitting nails with a hammer. Especially if one's fingers don't get in the way! All the walls are up and wrapped in roofing paper. I didn't have to cook all day, either. If only the Dawgs had won....or even scored... Oh, well, wait til next year....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Almost Over

This day is almost over.

I tried not to think about it.

I tried not to think about who wasn't here.

Something positive: because of the frost a few nights ago, all the plants on the front porch are gone now. They were all from the funeral. I didn't realize how much I hated looking at those plants. I didn't know it would be such a relief not to have them there, reminding me ...

Isn't that ridiculous? Maybe so, but true nonetheless.

And isn't it odd that I miss my mother so much more than my dad, when I was always closer to Dad? Maybe because she leaned more heavily on me after his passing and now I miss the weight. I miss her calling to ask what day it was, when we were coming to visit, telling me what the cats did and what she thought about the neighbors.

She always called on holidays we weren't together. She didn't call today.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Birthday Blanket

Now that my eldest has received her birthday blanket, I thought I'd post some pictures of the process of making it. Mrs. Jones, helpful as always, is posing with the finished product on my daughter's bed. I guess she wanted it seen in the context of being enjoyed!

She was most helpful throughout the entire process, seen here anchoring the 2 layers of fleece so they won't fly off the living room floor.

To make a blanket for an adult you need about 2 yards each of contrasting or complementary fleece. We picked white for the backing and a brown & turquoise pattern for the front. You really need a large space to work. We laid both layers down on the floor. Our white piece was slightly smaller so we put it on top and trimmed and squared the patterned piece to match. Cut the selvage (the curled edge with small holes) off and make sure your 2 pieces match up. If not, Mrs. Jones will give you this look.

The 2 layers of fleece are always kept together, from start to finish. That is very important.

The first step is to cut a 3 inch square out of each corner. This keeps things from bunching up. Next you are going to cut 3 inch long, 1 inch wide tabs all the way around. To keep mine consistent, I cut a 1 inch wide piece off the square left over from the corner.

Here is the guide laying on top out of position. You can see that the tabs I've cut are the same width as that guide.

I laid it beside the empty corner space and cut the first tab. Then I just kept moving it over and cutting. When I was about a foot from the next corner, I skipped over to that corner and worked backwards, figuring that if I had to have some fatter or skinnier tabs to make it work out, I'd rather them be in the middle of a side rather than at the corner.

Check out this shot: scissors in one hand and camera in the other!

Once you have tabs cut on all four sides, it's time to start tying them all together. A plain square knot works just fine. (that's the kind you use as the first step to tying your shoe laces, just do it twice) I tied the 2 knots on each side of each corner of the blanket first. This keeps the whole thing together while you're working on it and if you come up with 1 tab left over (which we did twice) you'll know which side to look for the skipped tab on. If you miss one, you'll need to untie until you get back to the skipped one (which will be the other color than your left over one) and start tying again.

Here's L taking a break from the strenuous job of tying blanket tabs.

Here is the finished product draped over our couch. And yes, that is Mrs. Jones in the background on the right edge of the couch. She is always where the action is.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Kid's Table

When I was growing up, the "kid's table" was a horrible thing. It was just my brother and me on both sides of the family. I was so glad when my grandmother moved to a new house with a bigger dining room that allowed all of us to sit together. I always wondered what it would be like to have lots of cousins to play with. I'm so thankful that my girls enjoy the company of their cousins on both sides of the family and always look forward to seeing them.

In my girls' lives, the kid's table is something completely different. Last night was a perfect example. Our church had its Harvest Supper at the local catfish house. Hook Line & Sinker provided the location and we brought the turkey & dressing and everything else that goes with Thanksgiving Dinner. When it came time to sit down with our family and friends, my 2 daughters made for the table of girls in the center of the room: essentially a kid's table. That is where they choose to be for special occasions. When we have a fellowship at the church fellowship hall, that same group of kids get their food and head for the children's library, which has a low table for them to eat on. They love to be together. That is the true meaning of fellowship.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Catching Up

This has been an incredibly busy week for me: some of the events expected and some, not. I had no idea that Thursday morning I would take a 3 1/2 hour chunk out of my day to sit in the doctor's office. Well, to be honest, part of that time included the trip to the pharmacist, but you get my drift. L has been stuffed up and then draining for a few days. Wednesday after school she had a severe ear ache. I called and made an appointment with the doctor for Thursday at 10:40. Our regular pediatrician, Dr. M**, is not in the office on Thursdays, so we were going to see Dr. S**, who is Dr. M**'s brother. (As a side note, another brother, yes, a different Dr. S**, was Mom's anesthesiologist this summer) In that family, they are all in the medical profession.

Where was I? Right. Doctor's appointment at 10:40. We got there a bit early, just in case. At 11:00 we were still in the big reception area. We got a magazine. L zipped right through it. I then picked it up because I saw something I wanted to read. I figured that would surely mean that we would be called in the middle of the article. Wrong. I finished it. I saw a recipe I wanted to try. I got out my little notebook and started copying the recipe. Surely that will trigger a call from the nurse. No. By this time, L, who is not known for her endless patience, is squirming and saying she's fine, and can we go now since they are not going to call us since they have already called 6 or 7 people who came in after us. At 11:40 (a full hour after our appointment) we are called back to the examination room. Dr. S** checks her ear, her nose, and her throat, says she has a sinus infection and ear infections in both ears. Total time: about 5 minutes.

Now we head to the pharmacy. I used to go the pharmacy in Wal-Mart. But I learned something from my mother in her later years. Small pharmacy = better (and faster) service. There is a pharmacy in Lucedale run by a very community-minded man. One of the pharmacists is a lady I go to church with. It is a neat place to wait for the 10 or so minutes that it takes to fill a perscription. And this time we just dropped it off and walked across the parking lot because L wanted to eat lunch at Waffle House.

Waffle House is new to Lucedale. Ours has been here for about 6 months. It is exactly like every other Waffle House you've every been in. Well, it may be smaller than some. Every table is accessable from the cooking area: no tables on the outside walls. It is always full. L and I did something I've never done before: we sat at the counter on swivelly stools instead of a booth. (My legs are not long enough for that to be comfortable for any length of time.) But I can say that I've done it.

After lunch, we picked up L's medicine and I took her home, where Mr. H works on Thursdays. I thought I might be able to catch our group at the elementary school before mentoring was too far under way. I was about 3 minutes from the school when Mark called my cell phone and said there was an assembly program going on, so we were cancelled. I got back to my office about 1:35 and had a few hours to get ready for the budget meeting that night. I had thought I would have to make another trip to Lucedale to get M, who tutors on Thursdays, but the grandmother of one of her friends volunteered to bring her to the house when she picked up her granddaughter. (Bless her!) I managed to get everything ready and plugged into the spreadsheet and the spreadsheet converted to a file type my laptop would run and I was good to go. I got home, reheated leftovers for dinner and was back at the church in time for the meeting. By 9:00 p.m. the budget was DONE!!!!!!! What a long day!!!!!

Yesterday, L was feeling better and went to school. Mr. H and I headed to Mobile. I had thought we were going to Lowes for pumphouse supplies, but we never got there. We did some birthday shopping for the eldest, did some atlas shopping for our trip to Phoenix, and had Chinese for lunch (I tried sushi for the first time...It was very good) We went into a Blockbuster to rent Wall-E for the girls but they didn't have any copies. We got Kungfu Panda instead, as well as The Clone Wars. (Boy, am I glad we didn't pay for all of us to see Clone Wars at the theater!)

While we were in Blockbuster, Mr. H lost most of the sole on one of his old hiking boots (imagine hiking boots with flip-flip bottoms.) We looked at boots in a couple of places close to the Blockbuster with no luck. There was no way he was going to walk all over Lowes with his boot flip-flopping with every step, so we headed home. We'll go to Lowe's this morning for pump house walls. And work in the cold today.

I'm taking the girls and one of their friends to see Twilight tonight while Mr. H watches football. I read the books and really enjoyed them, but somehow I imagine I'll wish I'd stayed home with him.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sweetie #1!!

Twenty years ago today, my life changed ... more than I could ever have imagined. A little girl was born to Mr. H and me. We became parents. As much as we had prepared and thought we knew about what being a parent meant, boy, were we shocked!

I thought babies loved to be held and rocked. It took me about 3 days to figure out that this child had her own personal bubble of space, and she didn't like to share it much. Once I understood that, I became a much more observant mother. This little person knew what she preferred at the age of 1 week!

Today, I got down her baby book to look for some pictures. After a while, I noticed there were several pumpkin pictures. Right after she was born, I called her my "little pumpkin" for about a month. My grandmother heard me and warned me to be careful about that: some names stick! I stopped with the nickname, but I think it may have sunk in a bit!

This was just before her 2nd birthday.

This is not a pumpkin picture, but it has always been one of my favorites! She did not want to get up that morning!

I think Mr. H's parents got this pumpkin for her. She really liked it.

The pumpkin theme continued. Here she is as the pumpkin princess. (Yes, I made the dress, and we kept it for several years until the green part completely unraveled.)

This is a picture she took of herself. It's one of my favorites. (She was home sick and got bored!)

I'm glad that she's my daughter and even more glad that she's my friend. She has turned into a beautiful lady, inside and out. She is a great writer, too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ear Infection

L was practically in tears when I picked her up at school today. Her ear was hurting. She's gone from being drippy to stopped up and now I'm hoping her ear doesn't hurt so badly she can't sleep tonight. She's got a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning. I do have some of the symptom-treating medicine that was prescribed for M last week. The nurse said that was fine.

.............Well, I started this post yesterday afternoon when we got home. I see that it is still sitting here on my laptop, in the compose mode rather than the published mode. So consider this an update of sorts.

After taking some drugs, L wanted to go to church last night after all. She just seemed very sleepy on the way there and back. She didn't wake up and come get me last night, so I guess it didn't get too bad. We'll see what the doctor says. Hopefully it won't take all day, because it's mentoring day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Funeral Lunch

There is a funeral lunch going on in our fellowship hall. I think this is something that only rural churches do on a regular basis any more. The gentleman whose family is gathering was not a member of our church (to my knowledge). And our ladies still prepared and served the best that country cooks can offer: ham, potato salad, assorted peas and beans, corn and casseroles and desserts galore.

Working here at the church, this is something that I take for granted. I remember when my father died, someone brought a loaf of bread and a tray of deli meat to my mom's house. I understand that it's the thought that counts. Someone did think of us. But the time and care that I see these ladies pour into these efforts astounds me. And it's not that they don't work and have more time to prepare. Most of the dishes were dropped off this morning before these ladies went to work at their jobs.

I am so glad that some old traditions are still kept alive in places like Agricola. The world will be a much colder place when we stop helping with our own hands.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Phantom Mountains

Looking out my kitchen window, I can see a distant, dark blue line of clouds just above the treeline. It looks like a range of mountains has moved into Mississippi.

Friday, November 14, 2008

'Tis the Season?

I pulled into the yard and drove past the 2 persimmon trees like I always do. Then I noticed something that I hadn't noticed before. With all the leaves gone from one of the trees, I saw something that had been previously hidden: mistletoe.

Is it too early to hang this over my front door?


M got a phone call at 6:30 this morning. I've noticed that is a time when all the kids without cell phones can be assured of their friends being home and awake. Well, if they're not awake, at least they'll be grateful for the wake-up call! This friend wanted M to attend some function after school today. Amazingly enough, my child declined. Today was her day to come home after school. I even heard her say as much yesterday when I picked her up after tutoring.

Monday, she goes to a percussion workshop at the high school. The middle schoolers are invited to work with the older kids, getting ready for serious competitions. Tuesday and Thursday, she is a study buddy. She helps someone with their math. It mostly consists of them doing homework together and she is available for questions. (I knew that math was her strong point in the 5th grade. She could do things that her teacher couldn't figure out!) Wednesday is a rush after school to get homework done and supper eaten and (for her) to get dressed stylishly to go to church. Oh, I go, too, I just don't worry about the stylish part!

Today is her afternoon/evening to stay home, and I say more power to her. Because when she goes, I have to go get her!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Article of Value

This morning when I got to church there was a mess out in front of the Fellowship Hall. A garbage can full of cups and plates from Wednesday night snack had been left out and some dogs or raccoons helped themselves. There was garbage everywhere. I was helping pick it up when I stepped on something. I thought it was a rock, but I was wrong. It was treasure! It was a class ring. Inside was a name, so there was no guessing as to whom it belonged. I know the mother of the owner and my first impulse was to give her a call and take it to her. Then I thought, 'What if she doesn't know it's missing?' followed closely by, 'What if HE doesn't know it's missing?'

Then I had a grand idea: an elaborate ransom plan! I took some pictures but they didn't come out too well. The first one was nothing but glare! The next one wasn't much better, but you can recognize the blue stone. But then I didn't know how to contact him. I got his cell phone # from another senior. (I knew I could count on her!) I sent him a text message, but never got a reply. I chickened out on the ransom and just sent him a friend request on Facebook. It took all afternoon to hear from him. And then he said I could just take it to his mom tomorrow or hold on to it until Sunday. No drama. : (

Oh, well. He'll get his ring back and I have a new friend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I am not a real fan of the transition from daylight savings time back to standard time. When it's dark, I want to be home in my house, not driving home from somewhere else. I do however like to be out when it's not quite dark.

M has band practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school until 5:00. That puts me driving home at dusk. She likes to call that time of day 'twilight' but it has always been dusk to me.

Dusk is the time when color starts to fade from the world. The trees turn black but the sky still has enough light to make the treeline visible. The world knows that night is coming but the sky doesn't want to admit it. Sometimes, I see something that I want to remember forever. I have to put it into words so I can go back there. This is the trip home yesterday.


No stars;
but the moon
lifts her pale, cool face
above the feathered black treeline
to view the world below
from her place

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lost & Found

Two weeks ago I made a couple of pairs of earrings for myself on my day off. I really prefer to wear things I've made myself. Usually when I wear fish hook earrings, I put little stoppers on the back. I know my children can wear that type of earring all day without one coming out, but I always come up missing one.

Anyway, last week I wore one pair for the first time. What made me think I wouldn't loose one without a back on it? I guess I was running late that morning and didn't want to take the time. Sure enough, by 10:00 I noticed that one ear was bare. I searched my office, the parking lot, the preschool area (I had taken something over there), my car, the yard between the house and the car, everywhere I could think of. No luck. I was bummed. I didn't have any more hooks just like the one remaining, so I couldn't just make another one that would match. I put the singleton in my wallet and decided to hope for the best.

Forward to this past Sunday night. I came over to the office after church to get something. I went into the workroom and moved an empty paper box so I could reach a shelf, and, lo, there was my earring on the floor under the box. I was so excited I forgot what I originally went in there for!

I told everyone that I saw for the rest of the evening! I now know just what the folks were feeling in those parables Jesus told about the lost sheep and the lost coin. Why is it so hard to translate that feeling for lost people? Maybe it's because I don't think of them as lost when I can see them right in front of me. Neil talked about the darkness of the PacRim area that they visited because most people had never even heard the name of Jesus. May the Lord help me see the darkness surrounding the lost people I come in contact with.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Wedding

Mr. H's cousin got married this weekend....for the first age 50!

It was a different experience on so many levels. It's been a long time since I went to anything but a Baptist wedding. We are Baptist and most of the recent weddings we've attended were for (grown) children of our church family. Cousin's wedding was at Christus Victor Lutheran Church in Ocean Springs. The very first difference was that the officiating clergy was a lady. I don't have a problem with that, it was just a culture shock.

She addressed the congregation with the "Love Chapter," 1 Corinthians 13. There are 3 kinds of love mentioned: brotherly, romantic, and agape (all encompassing, unconditional love). I loved the point she made. Sometimes we don't feel that friendship love for our spouse. Sometimes we don't feel that romantic love for our spouse, either. But with God, we are bringing our best self to that marriage. So we are able to bring, with God's help, that agape love to our relationship even when we don't feel like it. I had never heard it put that way before.

After the public part of the ceremony, the pastor leaned forward and spoke quietly to the bride and groom. They gave their vows to each other in that same quiet, private way. I really liked that.

While the quiet part of the ceremony was going on, I watched the rest of the wedding party. As you would expect for a couple on the other side of age 40, the bridesmaids and groomsmen were older, too. There was gray hair at the front of the church! I think the pastor and her assistant were probably younger than anyone in the wedding party except the flower girl and ring bearer.

The reception completed the culture shocking day. Being Baptist, and most wedding receptions I've attended lately having been in the Fellowship Hall at the church, I am not accustomed to there being an open bar for the event. I was trying to get L something to drink, so I got in a line. The gentleman behind the counter said to the man in front of us that he only had beer. I got in the other line and that person only did mixed drinks. It turns out that beerman actually did anything in a can, so I got back in his line and L got her Sprite.

It was a fun occasion all around. My favorite moment was when a young lady came around to our table at the reception trying to light the little candles. There was a book of matches (maroon with the couple's name and date of the wedding) on the table. She tore one out and tried to light it. She repeated with 3 additional matches and still couldn't light one. A relative (younger than me) that I don't know very well tried to show her how to fold the cover back and pull the match through the two surfaces. But then the match went out within seconds, before she could touch it to the candle. She gave up and turned to walk away. Mr. H's aunt was sitting at the table with us. She is probably 80 and had a stroke last year. She stood up, rolled her eyes at that young lady's back and proceeded to light 4 candles with a single paper match. The expression on Aunt's face was priceless!! We were rolling!

One cousin came from Texas just because it WAS NOT a funeral. He said that funerals were just about the only time we got to see each other any more and this trip was worth it because it was not. Amen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Gift from Afar

I received a gift from a friend's travels recently. She figured that Mr. H or I would be able to play it. Most wind instruments are similar. There are the ones you blow into and cover up holes to change notes. Flutes, recorders, Irish whistles are all that type. Then there are the ones that you blow over tubes of differing lengths to get different notes, like blowing over the top of a coke bottle. Pan pipes work that way.

This is what she brought us. She didn't know what it was called and she had never seen one played. She gave it to us Sunday morning and it was all we could do NOT to spend Sunday School trying to figure it out. It is nothing like pan pipes--you don't blow over the tubes. There are no finger holes on the tubes to cover. It seems rather obvious to blow into the narrow end of the gourd, but the result is somewhat confusing. It sounds like a wooden train whistle... you know, the ones that produce 2 notes at once.

We faced a problem: how do you figure out how to play a musical instrument that is alien to your culture? Solution: Google is a wonderful thing! I forget now just exactly what my successful search finally consisted of because the first several tries gave me no results that even remotely resembled what I had in my hand. But somehow I got the right combination of words and found a name (sompoton), some pictures and a basic explanation of how it works.
Sompoton is perhaps one of the better known instruments of Sabah. Traditionally from Kampung Tikolod, Tambunan, it is now prevalent among the Kadazandusun and Murut people. The Sompoton is constructed from a dried gourd and eight bamboo pipes arranged in a double-layered raft. A small lamella of polod palm (like a tiny bungkau or jaw's harp) is inserted in the side of each sounding pipe near its based. The pipes are fitted into a hole on one side of the gourd and sealed with bees wax.

The lamellae lie inside the gourd and provide the sound of the completed instrument. The pipes are bound with thin strands of rattan. By blowing or sucking gourd's mouth, the player can produce a soft sweet harmonious sound. It can be played as a solo instrument or in groups to accompany dancing.
It's an alien harmonica!!!!! It has that same reedy sound to it. And I don't know what kind of gourd the mouthpiece is made of, but when you draw (suck air) on it, the taste is horrible. I found several youtube videos of these being played and, honestly, it sounds like the same song is being played in very one of them!

I'll learn to play it if she'll dance!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Farmer Floyd revisited

Here's the scanned version of Farmer Floyd that I promised. Isn't he just precious? I love his smile. He takes such pride in his work. (Click on the picture to see it bigger.)

Fall Festival @ ABC

Our Fall Festival "Agricola Roundup" was last night at church. In keeping with the western theme, the mechanical bull was present. L showed him who was boss ... until he threw her off!

Here's that nice-kid-friend-of-mine who hung out with us at the fair. He did a good job on the bull, too.
This is M along with a bunch of her buddies. They were in charge of some of the games for the 2nd hour of the festival. For the first hour they had fun.

Believe it or not, this lady is traveling to Richmond this week to interview with the International Mission Board! She probably won't be wearing this outfit to the interview.

And this is our pastor, Dr. T. We knew he was in trouble when the bull operator "offered" to hold his glasses!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Beautiful Night

Last night was a beautiful night. I debated starting a fire in the fireplace, but it just wasn't cool enough. I did, however, move all the candles out so it'll be ready when we do decide it's cool enough. What to do with those candles? I put them on the table, around the teapot my eldest made for me. This picture is what it looks like this morning.

Last night, it looked magical. The sun was still up when I lit them and I didn't notice it getting darker outside. As we sat down to dinner, the only light came from these candles and the red glow from the setting sun. The view out the window was breathtaking..... and so was the view across the table. Sometimes I feel compelled to write down how a place or event looked. I think it's to enable me to go back there whenever I need to.

It's not often we can have uninterrupted conversations at our own dinner table. It is so memorable when it does happen. Tonight we will be 4 again, with all the conversation that comes with having girls back in the house. That will be memorable, too. And then next weekend, we will be 5 again. I love it when our eldest is able to be home with us.