Saturday, August 27, 2011

Creek's risin'

We had an earthquake here on Tuesday. 5.9 on the Richter scale. Now don't laugh, Cali girls. Yes, I mean you, JoAnn ;)

And now gale force winds are blowin' as I type. There's a threat of power loss - the mayor of Philadelphia was on TV saying we may be out for two weeks. Hope not. Anyhoo, in the calm before the storm, we were taking some precautions. I'm most worried about my creatures great and small, especially my bees.

Being concerned that the hive might topple over, my lovely man had the idea to stake it down, running cord up and over the top in hopes that it will stay put.

Here it had just started to rain. He remained patient as the bees swarmed around his head before scurrying into their home. If you're wondering why the hive is on a table, it's because our entire property sits atop a massive ant farm. The hive has to be elevated to keep the ants from swarming it to get the honey.

These ladies are tucked in safe and sound as well.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Not a care in the world

“Sauerkraut and bacon drive all care away.”

- Pennsylvania Dutch proverb

I've always been curious about the making of sauerkraut. My curiosity led me to the small town of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, a place that gives you that funny, step-back-in-time feeling that I love so well. I was on the hunt for a stoneware crock to ferment sauerkraut in. Do you know you can pay over a hundred dollars for one of these? I was not about to do so, as this is just an experiment of sorts.

My next idea was to search out a vintage one, like my butter churn, until a kind soul left a comment on the internet about sauerkraut crocks. They pointed out that antique crocks should not be used because they may have lead in the glaze. Further, you could easily find one for about twenty dollars at an Ace Hardware store. This is what I call fortuitous, because Fleetwood looks like the kind of town where people still make their own sauerkraut - AND, they just happened to have their own old-timey Ace Hardware store...with wooden floors, no less! Oh, happiness....

When I got there, I inquired as to whether they carried an economical food-safe crock. Of course they did. Mwahahaha, come to mama. Then home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

Sauerkraut is ridiculously easy. Shredded cabbage, salt, water. That's it.

Here's the fun part. Stuff it into the crock. Cover the cabbage with cheesecloth. Put a plate on top of the cheesecloth, and a clean rock on top of the plate. The cabbage swells, so the purpose of the plate and rock is to keep the cabbage submerged in the salt water brine. After a day or two, bubble, bubble, toil and tr-... I mean fermenting begins and will continue for the next six weeks.

Three fortnights hence, the sauerkraut should be ready for canning. More on that a few weeks from now--'cause I know you're just as excited as I am...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Got Buttons?

I do. Heaps of them. Bone. Mother-of-pearl. Glass. Wood. Celluloid. You name it.

And they've been winking at me from their box, telling me they're too dandy to be hidden away.

So, to oblige the little play pretties ('scuse the cowboy lingo - I've been reading True Grit by Charles Portis - a great book, by the way), I made a little wall hanging to show them off.

The idea came from my friend Sarah, who made one when she was in college, recycling denim pants and some vintage buttons. I had always admired it, and asked her if she minded if I made one for myself. She didn't mind none. Thank you kindly, pardner.

So I did the same, cutting a strip of fabric from the leg of an old pair of jeans. Plus, I had some embroidered ribbon that I used to cover the back to hide the stitches. I reversed the ribbon to have the raw side facing up because I thought it looked more interesting.

Some of these buttons are at least a hundred years old. Some are from 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's. They really are little works of art in themselves, at least to my eye, and should be appreciated.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quiet thinkeries

Thanking God today for all the little things, noisy or no, that make me feel quiet inside.

Counting blessings

432 - the thunk of wood against an iron pot

433 - good linen

434 - oil cloth

435 - a green place to keep my thinkeries

436 - the darkness before the storm that begs for a kerosene lamp

437 - rainy afternoons that beg for a nap

Joining Ann today

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Aliens can't read your mind--God can

image from the movie Signs

Have you ever noticed my favorite movie quote on the sidebar--"Swing away, Merrill. Merrill, swing away"? It's from the movie Signs, by M. Night Shyamalan. Signs could be written off as a silly horror movie about alien invasion. But it's not--it's much more. It deals with the issues of grief, the loss and regaining of faith, and finding your life's purpose. I relate deeply with two characters, Graham and Merrill. Now, do I believe in aliens from outer space? No. In this film I'd say they are symbolic of horrible things that happen, over which we have no control. I don't want to say too much about Signs in case you haven't seen it. But I will say that God can use any medium to catch our attention. So here's my story--my sign.

When I was nine years old, I told God I did not believe in Him any more. Things had happened. Things that marked me, and not for the good. The older I got, the angrier and more reckless I became. By age nineteen, I knew a lot more about life than a nineteen year old should. I suffered from bouts of anxiety and insomnia. To comfort myself while trying to sleep, I would play this game in my mind. I would imagine myself as a little, little girl climbing the steps of a huge porch, and there would be Father God sitting on a porch swing. And when He sees me, He opens His arms and welcomes me into His lap, and rocks me until I fall asleep. This was the only time where I would allow myself to consider the possibility of His existence.

One random Wednesday evening, I was walking past a church and heard singing. Out of curiosity, I wandered in and stood in the back. The people at the front of the church were gathered together wholeheartedly worshipping. When I looked at them, even though I was within a few yards, I felt a million miles away. They seemed so clean. I felt so not. I became acutely aware that one day they would be in heaven, and I would not. The sense was so strong that I literally started screaming. Two women rushed to the back. You'd have thought they would have put me out for creating such a disturbance. Instead they tenderly put their arms around me, and I sobbed and sobbed, and unleashed all the years of pent-up pain and rage.

After I'd calmed down, one of the women shyly said to me, "I hope you won't think this is weird, but God wants you to know something. He's telling me that every night, you play a game to put yourself to sleep. He wants you to know it's not a game. He was there. He is there. He wants you to come home." I was stunned. No one knew about that "game" but me--and the God who is there.

That night I came home. My life has never been the same. Some pains and sorrows are still with me. But they are not my master. Jesus is. No one could ever convince me that God does not exist. No one ever will. I was born for a purpose. And while I'm here, I'll swing away.

Joining Emily today

Thursday, August 4, 2011


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