Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Three Old Men

At 9 a.m. on the 29th day of May, we stopped by our favorite produce stand at Holden Beach.  The Old Farmall thermometer read 84 degrees in the shade.  There was a fair breeze blowing but not enough to cut the thick humidity that hung in the air that felt like it could drown a man if he took too deep of a breath.

The shed that was built onto the back of the family run business was large and airy and served two purposes - a shelter from the rain, and shade from the hot, scorching sun that draws crowds to the Carolina beaches.  The first of the corn crops had come in from the fields surrounding the shed, and the first of many corn shuckings was already taking place.  The old men shucking the corn had been here many times before.  They had adopted their own carefree method of pulling back the husks, snapping them off at the base, and running their calloused hands down the length of the ear getting most of the fine silks off with one swoop.  Instead of a production line, each man did his own ear of corn from start to finish.  A production line would have hastened the process but it was not the way of these men.  They savored each moment of the shucking - enjoying the feel of the ears of the first crop.  They were in no hurry and walked away from time to time to have a smoke or wait on a customer.  As I observed them from a distance, my mind wandered back to the hot, humid summer days of my youth and the three old men I stood beside getting produce ready for the market day after day.

Back to a time when I could hear my Daddy's voice through the groggy depths of worry-free sleep that you're only privileged to have when you are young and clueless.  "Your Mama's got breakfast ready - time to get up".  I didn't even have to look at the old clock on my nightstand.   I knew that the little hand was on five and the big hand was on six - the exact same position of the hands I saw six days out of every week of my summer vacation. Daddy would let me sleep for about ten more minutes, much like my alarm clock does now, but when I heard "Snap to it", I knew my day had begun.  5:30 was a much too early wake-up call during my teen years during the mid-1960's, especially since I had stayed up half the night writing poetry and listening to the sweet sounds of WABC New York radio station - 770 on my radio dial.  It was nothing but static during the day, but when those hot, cloudless summer nights rolled around in the sunny South, it was clear as a bell. Songs by the Beatles, Roy Orbison, the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Drifters, Dave Clark Five, Dusty Springfield, the Temptations, and so many more were carried in on sound waves that drifted into my bedroom window on butterfly wings - or so it seemed.

Half asleep, I would drag myself into the kitchen.  Breakfast was as big as the day's work ahead of us - bacon, eggs, grits - unless Mama happened to be on one of her many diets and then it would be oatmeal.  The hot, homemade biscuits hit the table about the same time that my elbows did and a biscuit was the first thing I grabbed.  As I was eyeing the homemade jellies and jams, Mama was eyeing me.  Wait until you've cleaned that plate before you open that jelly jar, she would warn.  Daddy was already cutting big chunks of "hoop" cheese and was melting mine in his cup of coffee because years earlier an accidental cheese drop in his steaming coffee cup made it's way to my plate and I had begged for it ever since. 

Not a care in the world did I have back then.  All the cares rested on the shoulders of my mom and dad who had me seven years after their bumper crop of two boys and four girls.  I was the last left at home.  It was always Daddy at the head of the table, Grandpa on the other end, with me and Mom on opposite sides.  Daddy and Mama gave up a lot when Grandpa moved in, including their bedroom, but Daddy never gave up his seat at the head of the table.

After breakfast, the three old men and I would don long-sleeved shirts, stack our buckets in the back of the pickup truck and ride out to the fields to gather whatever crop was in season.  The three old men consisted of my Daddy, a neighboring farmer, and the another neighbor who liked to pick up a few dollars in the morning while he was sober in order to purchase the whiskey he would drink 'til dark.  His wife, who cleaned houses in order for them to survive, would not let him have any of her hard earned cash to "liquor up", as she liked to call it.  We called them Mr. Mack and Miss Jane (not their real names), a heartbroken couple who had lost their little girl in an accident during the late 1940's.  Adding to Miss Jane's heartbreak was the loss of her husband's spirit to alcohol at about the same time.

The first crops to come off were the squash, those prolific little buggers that seemed to double their size overnight.  I'm pretty sure if you sat and watched them for a while, they would grow right before your eyes.  The long-sleeves we wore were to protect our arms from the prickly plants.  After the picking was done, the squash were put in large tubs of water and gently washed and stacked in bushel baskets ready for market.    The green beans, lima beans and corn all had their day in the sun and when those crops were over, it was time to start all over again with the second crop of squash - an endless cycle it seemed.

I sometimes resented my early morning wake-up call when all my friends were sleeping until mid-morning during their summer vacations, but  I knew it was the way of life for a farmer's child and even then, I was perceptive enough to know how much I was needed and I'm pretty sure that I welcomed the start of the new school year with a little more enthusiasm than my other friends.  Summers were not all work, though. There were breaks in the crops and I was never deprived play time and a social life with my friends.  It was a good life that seemed to move at a snail's pace back then.  And for a moment this weekend, watching the men under the shed at the produce stand, I longed for the days of standing side by side with those three old men from my youth - savoring each moment of shucking corn.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Show versus tell - the wild, wild West of books!

The mundane things we take for granted are really quite interesting when you see them through the eyes of a good writer.  A lot of the writing advice I've read recently tells you to "show" the reader versus "tell" the reader what is happening in the life of your characters.  Instead of  "It was a hot and windy day on the beach", how about  "Beads of sweat were dripping from Jack's face as he tried to run through the soft sand that kept sucking his feet under with each step.   The gust of wind that had lifted his beach umbrella from the sand had also taken his hat and he was torn between chasing the $50 Panama that made him look super cool or the cheap umbrella that was heading straight for the bikini clad girls on the beach blanket.  The bikini's won out." 

Did I "show" you that it was a hot and windy day at the beach?  Or did I just lead you on a wild goose chase with a beach umbrella.  Either way, you've got to admit it was a little more descriptive, don't you think?  Louis L'Amour drew pictures with his words about the old West and if you've never heard of Louis L'Amour, you've never had the pleasure of actually smelling a campfire burning through the pages of a book - of seeing firsthand the cold hatred in the eyes of a gunslinger facing the  honest, hardworking cowboy who just happens to be a fast drawing good old boy.  You've never felt how the "bad guy" feels when the first bullet hits him in the chest and you can see his body lurch with the impact of the bullet and watch as his life blood goes out of him.  The late Mr. L'Amour showed his readers how it felt to be a cowboy, how to savor the smells, how to enjoy the scenery, and how to live and die a cowboy.  He was a master of showing, not telling.  And yes, I'm a closet reader of Western novels.  Who would've believed it of me?

My late brother, Joe, got me started reading these books.  He had the whole collection and he had read them all at least a dozen times.  While I was helping to take care of Joe during one of his many rounds of cancer and chemo treatments, I picked up one of the books and started reading.  I was hooked.  Joe was an ex-Marine and a cowboy at heart.  He fought a good fight up until the very end - just like one of the many characters he liked to read about.  Cancer was the bad guy - and the bad guy won.   I can just picture Joe up there in heaven right now with Mr. L'Amour, re-living the cowboy days and telling a tall tale or two. 

Louis L'Amour was born in 1908 and died in 1988.  He was the author of 126 books and I've read all but a handful - twice.   This weekend I picked up four that I haven't read from The Bookworm, a unique little new and used book store at Holden Beach.  I will have some fine reading this week, but will get little else done since I can't seem to put his books down once I've started.  I can already smell those campfires burning.  And here's one of his lessons about life that may come in handy sometime - better not stare at the campfire or your eyes won't be able to focus on your enemy when he comes riding up on his brown sorrel horse with his six-guns a'flaming.  That's something we all need to know. 

"A book is less important for what it says than for what it makes you think."
Louis L'Amour (Education of a Wandering Man)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Enlighten me, please.....

As I was checking my blog statistics this week, I noticed I had been getting hundreds of hits from countries all over the world on a blog post I wrote over a month ago.  It was titled A nip in the air and life is good.   They all came from google searches.  The places these searches were originating were from the following:
  • Ferreira Do Zezere, Santarem (which is in Portugal)
  • Doha, ad Dawhah (which is in Qatar)
  • Prague, Hlavni Mesto Praha (Czech Republic)
  • Lvor, L'vivs'ka Oblast (in western Ukraine)
  • Tel Aviv (Israel)
  • Shibuya, Kanagawa (Japan)
  • Salinkaa, Southern Finland (Finland) 
  • Mexico, Distrito Federal 
  • Amman, Amman Governorate (Jordan)
  • Central District, Hong Kong
  • California - (not a foreign country, but seems so sometimes)  {apologies to my CA viewers, lol}
Would someone please enlighten me on what these countries have in common in searching for something in the title of A nip in the air and life is good?  I have had other blog posts that have had lots of hits from Google, but they were searches that I could understand.  The Royal Wedding Disney Comparison blog got over a thousand google hits and Olive will be an overnight web sensation got over 700, but those had popular search keywords.  This one has me stumped.  Is it something offensive?  Is it something trendy?  Please comment if you know why.  I'll be waiting for an answer.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Easy Rider - Bike Week at Myrtle Beach

As we made our way to Holden Beach this weekend, we decided to detour to Myrtle Beach to pick up a car carrier that Henry had loaned out.  Little did we know that we were headed right in the middle of the 2011 Bike Week of Myrtle Beach.  This is the week where once a year, thousands of motorcyclists converge on this popular coastal area called the Grand Strand.  This year, over 200,000 bikers were expected to attend this event, and I think we saw 190,000 of them judging by the traffic jams we kept getting into.  2011 is Myrtle Beach's sixty-seventh year of hosting this event.  Can you imagine what some of those bikes looked like back in the 1940's.   Here's a photo of a 1940 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead that I found.  Nice, isn't it?
found this photo on "theworldofmotorcycles.com"
We saw all ages and shapes of people riding - from clean cut to not so clean cut.  And the clothes they were wearing?  The men's clothing didn't vary a lot - most had on Harley T-shirts but the women's clothing was a wide assortment ranging from Bikini Babe to Soccer Mom.  And a few with pretty much nothing but body paint.

There was rarely a parking lot that didn't look like this.
It was a little out of our league, so we puttered on out of Myrtle Beach as fast as our little Ford truck could go, but we talked about it afterwards and thought we would fit in better if we were to show up next year on something like this:
I may have to grow my hair a little longer and get a tatoo on my shoulder - Henry will also need long hair, a beard and a tatoo or two - but we've got a year to get prepared.  Can't you just see us now?  Who knows, it might be fun!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

She doesn't have sense enough to come in out of the rain....

I didn't mean to re-post this - I tried to edit it, but apparently when I edit and then publish, it brings it up on my followers dashboard.  

"She doesn't have sense enough to come in out of the rain."   All of my life, I've heard this phrase used to describe someone who is lacking common sense.  And have you ever thought about how often the word "rain" is used as an idiom.  For instance:
  • right as rain (no question about it being right)
  • come rain or shine (to do something no matter what the situation)
  • when it rains, it pours (one trouble right after another)
  • raining cats and dogs (raining very hard)
  • rained on his parade (to spoil someone's plans)
  • rain check (postponing an invitation or a promise to be able to purchase something later)
I can't think of nearly as many using the word "sun" - just three come to mind.

  • a place in the sun  (a situation that makes you happy)
  • make hay while the sun shines (to do something right away, without delay)
  • stick it where the sun don't shine  (hmm)
The last one is not nice, but the definition is obvious, don't you think?

As usual, I'm rambling from my original intentions of this post which was meant to be about chickens who do not have sense enough to come in out of the rain.  We have all kinds of shelters for our animals including a doghouse, an open lawn mower shed and a hen house.  But the chickens use none of the above when it rains.  The bantams usually ride out the rain under our boat which is sitting covered in the back yard, but Olive - she's another story.  During all of the rainstorms we've had this week, she has sit them out under the big kitchen bay window which doesn't provide nearly enough shelter.  After seeing her thoroughly drenched yesterday, I had had enough.  In the middle of pouring rain, I put on a rain jacket, grabbed her up along with baby Rube and took her to the small enclosed coop that we have for when we order "day old" birds from the hatchery.  It has a light to keep them warm and is safe, comfy and dry.  For a large bird like Olive, it can be a little claustrophobic, but it will keep her and the chick dry.  It's still chilly this morning, so I'm leaving them there with plenty of food and water until it warms up a little.  For the moment, she's found her "place in the sun".

Olive would be really upset if she knew that I was showing you how totally ridiculous she looks with a wet head, but it's so funny, I can't help myself.  Notice how baby Rube is never over a foot away from her side - she's perched upon the brick border to the right of the screen.  Rube is well camouflaged - blending in with the dead grass & leaves.  They're such an unlikely little pair, but they love each other.  Maybe after she has adjusted to motherhood, she'll have sense enough to come in out of the rain, but I don't think so.  And if you had seen me out in the rain yesterday while it was "raining cats and dogs", cleaning the little pen and gathering the two of them up, you would have said the same about me - and you would be "right as rain".  And if you didn't see me, would you like to take a "rain check"?

Olive - having a bad hair day

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Visit to the Plastic Surgeon today

Plastic surgeon, cosmetic surgeon - call them what you may, but today I sat in the office of one. Sure, all of us have thought about turning back the hands of time with a nip here and a tuck there, haven't we?  Most of us won't actually do it, but if we're honest with ourselves, we've thought about it - which brings me to why I was sitting in Dr. Pillai's office today at Ballantyne. 

During a routine checkup a few weeks ago, my doctor noticed a small bump on my forehead that he wanted me to have looked at.  And please, no jokes - I've already suffered at the hands of my husband these last few weeks by being called knot-head - but it's all in fun.  He's just paying me back for calling him that a few times over the years.  Do you know you can learn a lot of cool stuff sitting in a cosmetic surgeon's office?  Everyone seems to want to talk "before" and "after".  Some even have pictures.  I assured them I was just there for the knot on my head and they seemed disappointed. I could see their skepticism - "sure", they were thinking, "she's getting that saggy neck lifted and probably a little botox around the eyes, and look at those droopy eyelids - surely she's having something done about that".  "I hope it's not melanoma", one sweet little lady told me.   I told her my doctor thought it was just a basal cell carcinoma and she seemed happy enough.

When Dr. Pillai walked in, I could imagine that I saw a huge grim spread across his face.  Aha, he thought, I can make lots of money off this one!  But he didn't blink an eye when I showed him the bump on my head and he agreed with my doctor thinking it was a simple skin cancer.   As he reached for the door to go out, I called him back.  "Umm, I was just wondering", I said.  He came back and sat down.  "Since I'm here anyway......"  "Yes?", he said.  I started pointing out my 62 year old features, asking him what would be involved with this and that and could he give me a ballpark figure on what something like that would cost.  He started explaining the procedures and starting pointing out things that I didn't even know I had - my poor vision does have it's advantages sometimes.  There would be an incision under my chin to pull some of those muscles back together, a little liposuction at the jawline, more incisions behind my ears for a little lift.  And all this for a mere $5000 plus hospital expenses.

"OK", I said, "you've given me something to think about.  I'll come back when I win the lottery".  I really didn't say the last thing about the lottery, but I could tell he knew what I was thinking - he didn't look very optimistic.

You know, I don't suppose that's a lot of money for shaving a few years off your face, but I could think of so many better things I could do with that money.  It's not like we're rich or anything, and just have that much laying around in a sock drawer.  So, for now I'll take comfort in the fact that all my friends are aging right along with me, and heck, I might even lose some of them if I suddenly looked 10 years younger that they do.  And, oh yeah, I would have to show restaurants my driver's license to get a senior citizens discount.  And, poor Henry would have to explain why he robbed the cradle when he married me.  You have to think about all those things, you know?   For now, I'll just frequent the cosmetic counter and hope for the best!  But Dr. Pillae, if I ever win that lottery, I'll be back.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Be still and know that I am God" from Psalms 46:10

Sunday afternoons were simple during my growing up years.  My mother started cooking Sunday lunch before we left for Sunday School and when we came home from the worship service, it was in the oven to be warmed and ready to eat.  It was always a huge meal with at least three vegetables, meat, homemade biscuits and mouth watering desserts.  Then dishes were washed and another tablecloth put over the food to be devoured again for supper.  No refrigeration was required back in those days - we didn't know any better, but we never got sick.

After dessert, my dad and my grandpa would take a nap and my mom and I would each settle down with a good book.  This didn't usually last too long because there was always company dropping in.  It was usually extended family or friends.  Sometimes they would stay for dinner which only required lifting the tablecloth off and setting the table.  Sometimes it was warmed over and sometimes it was eaten cold - there's nothing like cold fried chicken - especially the kind Mama made.

But the thing I remember most is how relaxing it all was - no rushing to go places - just a quiet, still Sunday afternoon that seemed to go on forever.  Don't we wish we had more of those kind of days?  Not many people rest on Sunday afternoons anymore.  Young families try to pack in entertainment for their kids when all they really need is a time to rest and be ready for Monday.

It's quiet here this afternoon.  We had a big ol' Sunday lunch today.  We're both being lazy since clearing the table - and leftovers WERE put in the refrigerator - our systems are no longer accustomed to eating food that has set out all day.   We've both been reading and playing around on the computer.   I found this picture a little bit ago that I had stored on Snapfish.  I gathered these roses last Fall at the end of the season.  The rosebushes had pushed themselves into a frenzy all summer producing thousands of blooms, but now it was their time to rest.  I cut a fresh bouquet and put them in this old antique planter so I could enjoy them for a little while longer before the coming frost.

The quiet beauty of the roses reminded me of this Bible verse from Psalms:

 “Be still, and know that I am God;
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.”
                  Psalms 46:10

I've always taken that verse to mean to surrender, let go - that God is in control, not ourselves.   What a comforting thought for a restful and quiet Sunday afternoon.  The reverie will be broken in a little while when I prepare for a church meeting at four p.m.; but for the moment, I will "be still". 

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Royal Wedding - The Disney Cinderella comparison

Look at the color similarities! Isn't that amazing.  I think Prince Andrew's daughter's are pretty girls but their choice of dresses / hats are strange.  Maybe they were trying to embarrass their grandmother, the queen, for snubbing their mother - just a thought.

Oops, I'm having to edit this post because I just found out the colors in this image have been doctored.  See below the actual image of the Cinderella scenes.

Olive and Rube - first time on Youtube

What a bummer Blogger has been for the last two days.  I couldn't access my dashboard - I couldn't post anything and my last post showing Olive and Rube having a bite to eat totally disappeared.  Almost immediately after I shared it on Facebook,  it was gone and everyone got this message  - "Sorry, the page you were looking for in the blog As life happens.. does not exist."  So here goes again.

Olive has been a great Mommy despite the fact that she's not the biological mother of little Rube.  One of our little bantam hens laid an egg in Olive's nest.  I was worried that none of Olive's eggs were fertile - but lo and behold, that one little egg finally hatched after dear Olive sat on it for 27 days.  She was finally a mommy - just in time for Mother's Day.  Olive is quite generous - she's very good at chopping up bugs and other tasty morsels for little Rube.  She even gives her first choice at the chicken food that I scatter for them twice a day, but in this video she was anything BUT generous with the chick.  A slice of bread is Olive's very favorite dish in the world.  Look how slick she is at hiding the bread so Rube can't find it.  She just flips it right out of the way before Rube can get a good look at it.  She would probably make a good pickpocket with that poker face of hers.

The noise you hear in the background are those incessant cicada's.  We were unfortunate this spring with their arrival after a thirteen year hiatus.  At least we know that we'll have another thirteen of peace and quiet before they "bug" us again.  Hope you enjoyed the video.

If any of you are reading the adventures of Olive for the first time, please read my last few blogs and get the whole story.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An old gas lantern, a coffee pot and Olive's shelter from the storm.....

The gas lantern provided ample light this morning as we prepared coffee in an old campfire percolator style coffee pot over our gas range.  For once, I was grateful for Henry's obsessive collection of vintage kitchen and camping gadgets.  I admit, I've not been very supportive of his collection in the past because there's no room for it except in my laundry room where it takes up space that I could use for...well, you know....laundry stuff.

But I wasn't complaining as the coffee perked this morning.  A series of severe wind and thunder storms wreaked havoc through our community last night and made for a sleepless night - taking power lines down and leaving us in total darkness except for the vivid flashes of lightening.  It was very frightening.  At one point during the relentless wind, our roof seemed likely to lift straight up off the house.  Upstairs, the attic's knee wall doors that weren't latched blew wide open.  The sounds of snapping tree limbs made us think that one of our many backyard trees would topple over on the house at any time.  As I rambled around upstairs in the dark, droplets of water starting falling on my head near the dormer window - I could only imagine what awaited me in the morning. 

At the first hint of light, we walked outside.  First on the list was to check on the animals.  I knew that the cat and dog had shelter.  Most of the chickens sleep in the trees, so I was hoping they hadn't blown away - they hadn't.   The Polish Hen, Olive, and baby chick Rube have been sleeping outside in the thick shrubbery under the eaves at the corner of the house since Rube hatched out a little over a week ago.  They were the ones I was worried about.  I took the lantern outside lifting up the shrubs trying to find my girls.  She wasn't in her usual place.  Getting thoroughly soaked by the wet shrubs, I rambled about until I finally saw Olive.  Her Elvis pouf hairstyle was wet and totally flat on top of her head, but her feathers are good at shedding water so her body was relatively dry.  I called her to come out and here comes little peeper Rube sticking her head out from under mommy's protective wings - they were both fine.  The overhanging bay window had provided a good shelter from the storm.

Now it was time to survey the damage.  Power outages were widespread because trees were across lines everywhere.  The majestic old oak trees in the community that had withstood Hurricane Hugo in 1989 could not withstand another storm.  Most of the ones lining Old Hickory, our main street, were haphazardly toppled over with their large roots up in the air.  One of the large oaks in front of our church lay precariously leaned against another.  Pine trees were snapped off like toothpicks.  Up the road a bit, the oldest house in our community dating back into the 1700's had a huge tree lying across it's front porch.   Our daughter's new house had the screen ripped right off her back porch and trees down everywhere.  Our neighborhood looked like a war zone.  Our own backyard was spared - only a jumble of large tree limbs were down.
These two photos are of a massive tree down on the side of a house on Old Hickory (our Main Street)
Another view of the same tree
The other side of the same house, a different tree
Another tree down on Old Hickory
Tree leaning on other trees at our church
Isn't our church beautiful.  Built in 1912
Tree limbs down all over our back yard
Although frightening for us, our storm was nothing compared to the wide path of destruction  from the tornadoes in our neighboring states a few weeks ago.  And the fear we may have felt paled in comparison to those knowing that their homes were being blown apart with their families inside.  My heart goes out to those families as their lives will never be the same.

Our neighbors are all fine......our blessings are many.  Trees can be replanted, houses can be repaired, but the life of someone you love is irreplaceable.

I join my neighbors in giving thanks to God for protecting our families and providing us a shelter from the storm. 

p.s.  and that cup of coffee this morning was mighty fine!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Naming the chick - and the winner is..........drum roll, please.......

As you see, I'm a little late with the naming of Olive's new baby chick.  I had planned to do it on Mother's Day but got a little sidetracked.  Ever so often Mother's Day will hit me like a ton of bricks as you can see by my recent posts.  Spending a lot of time with Olive and baby today has been an exciting change of pace.   It's comical to see how small the chick is compared to Olive - she gets a little clumsy with it.  Today she stepped on one of it's little feet and didn't realize it.  The chick pulled and pulled trying to get her foot out.  I was afraid she was going to pull one of her toes off - the toes are so tiny and fragile.  She's not eating and drinking as well as I thought she should. I bought some special chick starter food, but they pellets are still too big.  I finally took my food processor and ground them up even smaller.  We've been giving Olive some of our overpopulated cicadas that are making so much noise and driving us crazy.  Olive will tear the cicada into little pieces for the baby chick.  Today it was carrying around a cicada leg in it's beak - so hopefully it will get all it needs.  The cicada leg was almost as big as the chick.

But enough of this - I need to get down to what you've all been waiting for.  Baby chick finally has a name.   The names you all submitted were all cute and funny.  The poll is in and the winner is.....drum roll, please .....  uh, oh, it was a tie.  Ruben / Ruby.... and Will / Willow.... tied for 1st place, followed closely by Bille / Billy and Cinco.  The plan was if it turned out to be a tie, my fourteen year old granddaughter would get to be the tie-breaker but when I asked her to break the tie, she had come up with an entirely different name - Basil - you know, like Olive Oil and Basil.  No fair, Chloe - you're not following the rules of the game.   "Well, I want it to be Basil", she said, as obstinate as most fourteen year old girls will be.  Too bad, so sad - so, I decided that I would be the tie-breaker since it is my chick.  I liked Will / Willow but finally decided on Ruben / Ruby because it's a strong name for an amazing little chick - and also because it makes good blogging sense.  The day to day adventures of "Raising Ruben" would make for a good read, don't you think?  So, it's Rube for now - and thanks to my blogging friend, thisisme, for suggesting it.

It started out like any other typical Monday morning in the life of an elementary school.

It was a typical Monday morning in the office of an elementary school - phone's ringing off the hook, teachers in and out of the office, parents calling wanting to know why the bus was late.  I picked up the phone as it rang again, but this time it was of a different nature.  "Bus 19 has been in a bus accident", the man on the other end told me. "I've called the highway patrol, but get the principal out here as soon as possible".  My heart dropped.  The dreaded news that all school administrators hope to never hear.  "How are the kids", I said.  "Are there any injuries?"  "The kids are upset but there doesn't appear to be any serious injuries," the other voice said.  Relief filled me upon hearing his words, but his next words saddened me.  "The driver of the other car is dead".   I was hoping the children hadn't seen this as I prepared for a barrage of phone calls and informed the principal who rushed to the scene of the accident.  A few of the children were being sent to the hospital for bumps and bruises, but I had to arrange for another bus to pick up the remaining children to bring back to the school. 

The office was a flurry of activity and I was alone trying to take care of it all.  Everyone was filled with sadness that a life had been lost.  When the driver of the bus picking up the remaining children came back into the office, I stopped for a moment and asked her if she knew who the other driver was.  She didn't.  But as she described the car and the khaki farm clothing that the man was wearing, I became light-headed, my heart was heavy and my knees buckled leaving me in a heap on the floor.  She had just described my father.  It was May 9, 1988 - the day after Mother's day.

Note:  This story is a continuation of my post from yesterday.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The kiss of a Dad on Mother's Day

Today is May 8, 2011 - Mother's Day.  Mother's Day also fell on May 8th in 1988 and on less than a handful of May the 8th's since.   I remember that year well.  My girls were thirteen and nineteen and I had been hearing sounds of pots and pans and laughter as I lay in bed trying to catch a few more winks of sleep.  Ahh, the sweet sounds of breakfast in the making.  The phone rang and I picked it up on the second ring knowing who was on the other end.  Mother's Day was a lonely, sentimental day for my Dad, having lost my mother, his wife of sixty years three years earlier - the mother of his seven children - his best friend.

"Good morning, Daddy", I said, without even waiting for him to say anything.  He laughed, thinking it was funny that he didn't have to identify himself.  "Can you come over and help me pick your mother's peonies to put on her grave this morning?".  "Sure", I said, "can I wait until I have breakfast?", but knowing full well what he would say.  "Come on now, if you don't mind.  You can eat breakfast later".   At eighty-five, Dad had earned the right to ask pretty much what he pleased.

I quickly dressed, told the kids to put breakfast on hold and drove the mile to my Dad's farm.  As we cut the peony stems, we talked about mom and how much we missed her.  We talked about her love of flowers and how she especially loved peonies and enjoyed sharing the tubers each Fall with her friends so they could enjoy their own come Spring.   I arranged them with other greenery in a large metal flower basket that Dad had saved from Mom's funeral flowers.  They did look lovely as we placed them on Mom's grave at our church a few minutes later.   Dad and I shared a few tears as we held hands and prayed over Mother's grave, all the while imagining her smiling down at us from heaven.

A couple of hours later we all sat in the family church pew and shared worship together.  Daddy gave my girls their customary juicy fruit chewing gum and a kiss, and then turned to give me a kiss and wish me a happy Mother's Day as we left church.  "Girls, be good to your mother", he said.

That was the last kiss I ever received from my Dad.  He was killed in a car accident the next day, May 9, 1988.  Mother's Day always holds bittersweet memories for me.  A day when I celebrate my memories of my beautiful mother and a day that I mourn the loss of my sweet Daddy.   A few month's back, I found my youngest daughter's first Bible on a bookshelf in the library.  I opened it up and tucked away in it's pages was a piece of cellophane with something flattened inside.  It was labeled "the last piece of chewing gum Grandpa Carter gave me".  My girls had loved their grandpa with all their heart.  I left it where it was, closed the Bible back up, and cried - wishing we could all hold his hand and pray one last time.  But then I smiled as I imagined the two of them, holding hands in heaven still sharing the love they had here on earth for over sixty years.  Happy Mother's Day Mom.... and Daddy, please take good care of your best friend.

Note:  continuing the story tomorrow...

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Tomorrow's Mother's Day and Olive wants to thank all of you for following her twenty seven days leading to her happy event - the hatching of her baby chick.  Olive is a Polish Hen and the chick she hatched is an American Bantam and I can already tell they have a problem.  There's a language barrier, but they're working on it. Also, bantams are about 1/3 the size of Polish Hens so the chick is so tiny that Olive has trouble finding it sometimes.  It doesn't help that Polish Hens have that wild and crazy hairdo and those feathers prevent them from seeing well.  I am going to trim her bangs this week.  But, all in all, they're handling their differences well and Olive is trying to be a good mother. 

It's time to name the baby and since everyone has been so great about following her story, I've had my readers nominate some names and we're going to vote.  It there's a tie, my granddaughter, Chloe will be the tiebreaker since Olive was her chicken in the beginning.  Since we don't know the sex of baby chick, the requirements for the name nominations are that the name can be for either girl or boy.
The nominated names are as follows:

Cinco ( because she was born on the 5th of May)
Rube for now - if a boy Ruben / a girl Ruby
Billie / Billy
Duke / Duchess
May / May Day
Cinco de Mayo (same as above)
Jack / Jackie
Will / Willow
Chicken Licken'

Bring it on, ladies.  We don't want this little guy to be nameless for Mother's Day.  Leave your comments here or on Facebook.  Thanks for the votes!

The baby chick is in the top right-hand corner deciding if he wants to get a drink of water.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Name Game

Love this name game - so many good ideas, it's going to be hard for all of you to make a decision on Olive's baby's name. Olive is taking motherhood very seriously.  All of our animals and chickens intermingle with one another.  It's like one happy little neighborhood until today.  Earlier today, I was trying to show a neighbor the baby chick and Cello the cat was just doing what cats do - being curious about the little peeping noise coming out from under Olive.  Normally Olive would do nothing if Cello got too close, but today he got a little too close for comfort and man, he was in for a surprise.  Too bad I never have that flip video when I need it.  She jumped straight up about 2 feet, made her feathers look like an eagles wingspan and flew into flogging him with feet and beak.  Cello narrowly escaped with his tail intact.  He dashed under the car and stayed there until he thought it was safe to come out.  Poor Cello - he must of thought he had a run-in with Sarah Palin a Mama Grizzly.

I remember so well being the target of a mother hen once when I was a child.  It only takes once and you've learned your lesson well.  We lived on a farm and our fenced pasture had a gate between the barn and the granary (a storehouse for grain).  To keep from having to open the gate and risk letting the cows out, my dad had built a narrow open gate off to one side - sort of like a maze that's small enough for a person to wind through, but too narrow for the cows, horses and mules to get out.   I was winding myself through the maze when I had a run-in with Henny Penny who thought the sky was falling on top of her baby chicks.  I was stuck - she wouldn't let me in or out.  Everywhere I tried to go there were wings flapping, beaks biting and chicken feet flipping.  My meek and mild nephew who was a year younger than I, exhibited a rare moment of boldness and ran her away with a stick.  He'll always be my hero.   Later, as Daddy cleaned my bloody little legs up, I told him there were chickens everywhere fighting me.  It sure seemed that way - so I can feel Cello's pain.  He's been keeping his distance for the rest of the day.

So far the name nominations are as follows:
Cinco (born on the 5th of May)
Rube for now - if a boy Ruben / a girl Ruby
Billie / Billy
Duke / Duchess
May / May Day
Cinco de Mayo
Jack / Jackie
Will / Willow

I'll leave the "contest" (tongue in cheek) open through tonight for nominations and tomorrow, I'll post all the names for a vote.  For those of my friends who don't like to sign up and comment on the blog (which I haven't yet decided why), you can leave your suggestions and votes on Facebook.  Here's another sneak peak at Olive as she's covering the little chick - still preferring the bushes and ivy versus the fenced in chicken run.  I think she feels safer close to the house.

Nighty, night Olive.  Sweet dreams.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Olive is a mother - just in time for Mother's Day..

What better time of the year for a hatchling!  Olive is the proud mother of one baby chick.  Today, after waiting twenty-seven days for her eggs to hatch, we finally moved her so we could discard the eggs.  Much to our surprise, when we picked her up, a just-hatched baby chick came scurrying out from under her.  We were delighted - we had given up hope that any would hatch.  We discarded all the other eggs because it was apparent they would not hatch. You see, Olive's own eggs were not fertile, but a small bantam had layed one egg in her nest.  It's a long story on why Olive will have nothing to do with the roosters.  In a nutshell, she had an abusive spouse (rooster) of her own kind.  We got rid of him when we found Olive with lots of injuries from one of his abusive moods.  But now, she is one proud little mama strutting around fluffing her feathers.  She bit me once, but then decided to trust me.  It's definitely not her biological chick, but don't tell her - she thinks it is.  All of you get the exclusive opportunity to see the first photos of the little celebrity.
She looks nothing like her mother
I'll let you guys pick her name.  Or it may be a boy - it's hard to tell until they're a lot older.  We named Olive so that if she turned out to be a boy, she would be Oliver.  So pick a name that can be a boy or girl or one that can be easily converted.  When I get a list of names, either on Facebook, blog or email, I'll list them all, and we'll vote.

On a different note, I promised some photos of the Easter Egg car lot.  Here it is - now you'll know how it got it's unofficial name.
Left to right: Orange, blue, pink, white, yellow and red.  We had green, but it got sold before the picture was taken.

And up front is the guard dog of the Easter Egg car lot.  Fox....he thinks he's tough, but he's just a big sissy.
Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to nominate a name for baby chick.

P.S.  I thought about naming her after a student years ago that we had at the elementary school where I worked.  Her name was Amiracle.  I asked mom if she had been a preemie or had some health issues that made her name her that.  I shouldn't have asked....should have just assumed that was the case.  She told me that she named her Amiracle because she got pregnant without ever .... well, you get the picture.  This is an absolutely true story.  Please - some of my school friends....Jill - where are you?  Please verify that this is true or everyone will think I'm making this up.  And comment on the blog site, not just on Facebook.   I'll leave you on that note.. Have a great day.

A nip in the air and Life is Good...

What a beautiful start to a beautiful day!  I love watching the sun rise.  It filters in and out of the trees across the street above my neighbor's beautiful old home - a home that over a century later is still occupied by members of the family that built it.
We had quite a nip in the air this morning - 37 degrees when I checked the thermometer outside the door. But we're not touching our thermostat.  It's been turned off for almost a month now with only a brief round of air conditioning to get the humidity out of the air on those 80 plus degree days.  It's funny how the sun shining on pretty leafy trees and green grass outside makes 37 degree days in the Spring feel different than the 37 degree days in the brown, leafless days of winter.

The cicada's are still molting, flying into the trees and singing - if you want to call the noise they're making singing - sounds more like a car needing a fan belt change.   Olive is still broody - sitting those eggs that won't hatch - I haven't had the heart or the time to pick her up and dispose of the eggs - plus I'm not looking forward to a good chicken flogging when I do.  She's rather moody along with being broody when it comes to that nest of eggs.   The bantam hen is doing a good job of raising her chicks that were born at Easter - it's fun watching them come running when she signals food or danger and more fun to watch as they snuggle under her wings when nap time comes.  Olive checked them out one day last week - I wonder if she felt a little envious? 

Henry still has his Easter Egg car lot which I'll post some pictures of later.  A great little hobby that has made him a little extra spending $$. 

Grandchildren are doing wonderful in school.  Chloe is a South Carolina Junior Scholar - which is a big honor for 8th graders.  Jake has been on the straight A honor roll his whole freshman year in high school and Genevieve has also been a straight A honor roll student in third grade.  Makes a grandma proud! 

Life is good!

Copyright - Ima Turtle -  by Chloe
Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Updates with photos - Olive, writing space, cicada's and such as that

As I was enjoying my new "writing place" today, I thought I would take a moment to share a few updates on recent posts.  First is my new place to write.  I put a computer stand and our extra PC in the small sunroom that we had recently decorated in a "fishing lodge" theme for Henry.  It's a wonderful place to write.  It has a beautiful view of green trees and a bird feeder right out the window - hopefully it will inspire me to get something on paper.
A place to write
Nice "green" view
Olive came out briefly today to eat and drink water.  Before I could get to her nest, she ran back as fast as her little feet would take her and settled down.  I was hoping to at least "candle" some of the eggs and see if there's a little chick in any of them.

Next update is the cicadas.  Remember how I said that 13 years ago, people would get out of their car and look under the hood thinking that the cicada noise was a fan belt problem.  Today we had our first stop on the corner.  Henry was outside and walked down while the man was looking under the hood.  He asked him what was wrong and he told Henry that his truck was making a gosh-awful noise.  Henry filled him in on the cicada story and away he went happy that his truck was OK.
Truck stopped at the corner to see what all the noise was about. Little did he know that insects were making all the racket.
Sadly, I don't have anything to report on the ghostly bicycle rider.  We plan to go back down soon and I'm going to stop at houses nearby and ask if they've ever seen the apparition.  I'm just downright curious!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Flowers and Fowl - Backyard Beauties

I was walking around outside today watering my flowers and decided to take some quick pics while some of the bulb plants are still blooming - they don't last long.  No dialog today - only photos.
A tiny purple iris.  I don't remember the name.

My "rock" garden

The other side of the "rock" garden

Roosters & Roses

Our bantum rooster and one of the hens

A small bantam hen and her little Easter chicks. They were born the day after Easter.  I wish I had found her eggs and put one under Olive.

Our old rooster.  He's a Cochin / Silkie mix

Walnut tree surrounded by ground cover with horse "hitching post"

Ground cover with an Indian Hawthorne on the side

Another view


Another Amaryllis
Hope you enjoyed the backyard show.  I wish all of our yard looked like this.  I did some "selective" photography and left the junky areas out.  I love flowers - they brighten the world.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Olive's eggs

Olive seems depressed.  She has been sitting on her eggs for exactly 21 days today and none have hatched.  I wrote about Olive, my Polish Hen about three weeks ago.  She had become broody, which in the world of chickens means she had started sitting on her eggs determined to hatch them.  We had been gone for a few days and had not gathered her eggs so she decided to sit them.  The only problem is that we don't have a rooster her size so her eggs are not fertile.  Olive is a very aloof bird, and she won't have anything to do with the two bantam roosters we have.  As a matter of fact, Olive doesn't like any of the other chickens and the feeling is mutual.  She thinks that she is the Queen and they are far beneath her.  I should have taken her off the nest and got rid of the eggs, but there were a couple of bantam eggs also in the nest and I hoped that at least one of those would hatch to satisfy her maternal yearnings.  Polish hens rarely go broody.  If it weren't for hatcheries incubating them, they would indeed be rare birds. 

Now, what do I do?  She has sat on those eggs faithfully, only getting up about every fourth day to eat, drink and poop - and then right back to the eggs she goes  She is actually very obsessed with the whole business of sitting on the eggs - it's like she's in a trance.  Poor Olive.  Will she just give up if they don't hatch?  Or will she sit on them forever thinking they will?  I suppose I need to find a hen that has been sitting on her eggs about the same amount of time as Olive and steal some of her eggs.  Got any ideas???