Thursday, August 25, 2016

Peaches 2016

I happened onto this draft of a blog from few couple of weeks ago. I had begun and then abandoned it for some unknown reason. I'll stick it in right here, before the Summer days are gone for good.  (Don't worry, we're still very summery in these parts.) 

      One day in July, my sister and I were wandering through the newly refurbished Okeene Library (it is fabulous! Stop in next time you are through Okeene and take a gander) when we noticed there was a signup sheet for Colorado peaches lying right there in plain sight on the checkout desk. We immediately signed Dad up for two boxes, with the plan of my coming over and helping him tuck them into freezer bags when they arrived.

     They arrived and were beautiful beyond words and perfectly ripe, which meant they needed to be eaten, worked, or put in the fridge quickly. I motored over, with my Fruit-Fresh, some freezer bags and happy anticipation.
      Dad and I poached and peeled them, sliced them up, sucked the air out of the bags, and placed them gently in the freezer.  He and I have put some lots of different foods in the past few years and have gotten it down to a nice dance. I can tend toward the messy work station so he always steps forward for clean up duty (if you want it done right and all that). That old Chambers stove of his is clean as a whistle at all times. 
     We saved the second box of peaches to be handed out to friends and family in OKC, since I was heading that way the following day.  I believe I blogged about Maggie and I driving and walking around to neighbors and friends, handing out peaches. That was a fun time. I hope she liked it as much as I did. I ate most of the ones I kept for myself with a dusting of Savory Spice's Georgia Peach blend. It contains all the spices you would normally put into a peach cobbler, or an apple pie for that matter, and a little bit of sugar for sweetness. Oh, my my. If you haven't yet tried this one, now's the time. You can order it online and get it in a couple of days, if you don't live near a Savory Spice.
     In honor of peach season I have included a link to a delicious peach pie from Smitten Kitchen. This is your basic peach pie, nothing fancy shmancy and tinkered with.   As with all thing SK it is fabulous. I plan on using this recipe for the upcoming 4th annual Savory Spice Shop Anniversary Pie Contest on the 17th of September.  Here is the link. You're welcome.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Quilt Progress

Okie-Dokie, the quilt update:
      I finally finished the top this afternoon.  It sort of morphed into a slightly different design about half way through when it became obvious that I didn't have nearly enough material, or patience, to do the entire thing (which is probably what happened to the original).  Here is a picture of the top.

Now I move on to the backing (which I already have) and the binding (ditto).  While I was sweeping up I noticed a pile of leftover 1 1/2 " strips of fabric lying on the cutting table. *gasp* Maybe I did have enough material to do more.  It doesn't matter because I know for certain I didn't have enough patience.  I decided to use those strips, and some others that I cut, to make a strip quilt. They're easy and so interesting. You never know how they're going to come out and they are almost always beautiful.  Best of all, I am including strips from the remnant fabrics from all the quilts I've made for other people so far. It will remind me of all those I made and gave away to family and friends. I almost always give away the quilts I make because ...well, I have quilts from my mom and my grandma so I'm set. I also have the huge chicken quilt which was the first full sized one I made.  No one I know likes chickens as much as I do, so I kept it for myself.  I wonder if I can find some scraps from that lovely blue and gold quilt I gave to C.....not sure.
     The quilt and I had a couple of tense moments, one of which entailed taking some of it apart from the middle and putting it back together. Insanity! But everything finally snugged into place and I like it. I really like the dark stripe running through all the little squares. That's the bright on dark fabric I thought I hated.

     In other news, I wandered over to Dad's for a visit the other day and look what greeted me in the front yard. Surprise Lilies! (AKA Naked Ladies)
    These pop up in August out of the bare ground, their leaves having grown and then disappeared in the early Spring.  They are deliriously cheerful and very fragrant. If you cut them, or they break off, they will stay beautifully blooming for days. They would make lovely cut blossoms except that, for me, they are too fragrant to have indoors. Like lilacs and Iris, Lilies belong outside.

    The chickens continue to lay their various sizes of eggs. I get four or five every day but I feel sure it is about time for some of the other hens to kick in. 
    Did I tell you there is one of the "Marys" who has adopted me?  She follows me around and talks to me in chicken speak.  She will let me pick her up now and then.  This is probably the one Zane named Kissy, or Pecky (I'm not sure what name we settled on), although I can't really tell the Marys apart, to be honest.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Present of Peaches: Traditions

      My mother's grandmother lost her husband when their one child was only three years old. She moved in with her widowed father-in-law and raised her son there for the next decade, helping with the work in the house and in the fields.  Then she and her son joined some of her cousins and a sister's family and made the move west to the panhandle of Oklahoma Territory. When he was grown, her son returned to Missouri and married the lovely, musical Harriet Crisswell, they drove back to the Panhandle and made their home there, in Cimarron County, with his mother.

     Harriet was my grandmother and soon after they moved back to Alva,  to escape the devastation of the Dust Bowl, her husband died quite suddenly. Left with five daughters to raise, they continued to live with her mother-in-law for the rest of her life.  They were a house full of women trying to get by on a big garden, a tiny pension from International Harvester, one milk cow, and a few chickens. They worked very, very hard and, with the help of friends and making do, they got by. 
     My mother had a love for older people, probably because her entire life was spent in the company of this grandmother. When I was growing up, my mother would go around town, taking care of and visiting with the elderly women in the community. She would take them fresh vegetables from her gardens and baked goods, and generally check in on them, to see that all was well. She often took me with her on those visits.
     We would sit and chat about how their days were going, sharing the news from around town. We shared glasses of water and sometimes cookies. One of them sold us homemade noodles whenever we needed some, even though my mom made the best noodles I ever tasted. Sometimes they made us scratch Angel-food cakes. I didn't say much of anything but I listened.
       I listened to my mom's bright laughter, watched her look into their watery eyes as they told her stories of their younger days with their children, stories full of joy, adventures, hardships and sorrows. I watched her pat their hands and smile goodbye with a wave and a hug.
     Today I took Miss Maggie J. with me as I took fresh peaches to friends and family in the city. We knocked on the doors of Maggie's neighbors and placed the sweet sunset colored orbs into their open palms, with a smile and some happy conversation. We listened to stories about recent happenings and asked after their health. She met my friends, answered their questions politely and quietly wandered their living rooms, looking at their treasures while they and I talked for a few minutes. Every one of them seemed to enjoy her presence immensely.
      I was so happy to have her there with me, reenacting those visits my mother and I  made when I was a young girl not much older than she is now. People love undivided attention, unexpected gifts of goodness and the presence of a friend in their too quiet homes.
    We will do this again, Maggie and I, as often as I can make it happen. Someday I will be that older woman who sits alone in my home, waiting. Someday she will be too. Kindness and compassion are lifesaving skills that can and must be taught and it does indeed take the entire village to raise up capable, confident, caring human beings.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Quilting on Hot August Days


 I think I have mentioned that I would rather read than sew, any day, any time. I like to piece quilts but I don't love it, so my stash sits quietly in the closet, waiting. For the past six months of so I have been trying to whittle the stash down by tossing those pieces of fabric that I consistently set to the side on projects. 'Noooo, not this time.' or 'Welllll, nah, it doesn't really fit with the others.' If you sew, you probably know the drill.  I got rid of them.
    I gave quite a bit of material to Audra to use in her first quilt. I used some of it up in the fabric wreaths at Christmas. I decided I was never going to make that second quilt of the bugs in jars, so I put all that in a pile to give away.....but then I saw that the fabrics were already cut out into the jar rectangles. Oh drat. They were pulled back into the stash. *sigh*  What can I say? I'm weak. I'll do it.....someday....maybe...or else I'll be stronger then and will be able to let them go.

     This week I decided to start on a baby quilt for the newest little Blakley baby who is due to make an entrance around the first of the year. I love this postage stamp quilt because it took three different women to finally bring it to completion; a friend of Mom's who cut out all the little squares from Heritage Prints years and years ago and started sewing them together, my Mom (who bought those pieces at an estate sale after the woman passed away), and your's truly who took the pieces and parts and gathered them together after Mom died, finally stitching them into this quilt for a small child. I decided to replicate it with more of the scraps in my stash.

I didn't have a pattern, but I do kind of know how it's made. There are a couple of tricky parts....hmmm.  I am making progress and have used up an incredible amount of material while cutting out strips, sewing them together and cutting again. I am excited to see how it comes together because I have sworn not to buy any new material.  I even had to use the sacred chicken material, some of Danny's old shirts and a very loud color-on-black print that I thought I would never get used up. Ha! It was perfect as the stand in for a major recurring line of fabric that I ran out of near the end.
    The original is soft muted colors all the way through and is completely random because of the way it was sewn. This one won't be that. This one will be bright and vibrant but very pretty, just in a different way. There will also be patterns of fabric that repeat now and then. I will mix them up so it will look a little random...unless you study it closely.  I'm keeping the original here at Grandma's house where it gets lots of use by all the little ones. 
      (There is this one, very important fabric that repeats all the way through, that I need just a little bit more of.....) Stay strong, I keep telling myself. Use something else.  It doesn't matter. (Breath in. Breath out. ) I may have to stop by Randa's on my way to the City. I will probably find that one and something else that I can't possibly live without, and the stash will continue to exist.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The News (updated)

     This day was wonderful. The temperatures dropped ten degrees and stayed there, supported by a cool breeze out of the north. This morning I was able to do a lot of work in the yard that I had been putting off because it has been too blasted hot.  I picked up all the piles of pulled/dead weeds that have been tucked into corners here and there. I loaded up and hauled to the creek bank the rest of the cedar limbs, and then mowed that space. Now all we have left is the trunk of the big cedar. It doesn't bother me.
    AND, here is the biggie, I found the butcher knife and hand dug the little clumps of (wait for it, wait for it, wait...) SAND BURRS that had sprung up in the east yard. (I know, when I noticed them I nearly fell to my knees and went into a primeval scream.) They are gone now but I will have to watch that spot like a hawk because you know they will be back, with a vengeance.  When I spotted them I had a quick, clear image of my dear sainted mom, at the lake, bent over a yard full of the nasty little dears, digging and digging and digging. NOT. ON. MY. WATCH.  Not anywhere close to this yard or Maggie's Wood. Not today. ("God help and forgive me, I want to make something that's gonna outlive me." LLM)
    Speaking of which, I sometimes have flashes of what this beautiful garden spot will look like someday when I am gone and no one is taking care of it any longer.  It will become a wild and unruly jungle.  It is prone to jungleosis even now, unless I keep a firm hand on the clippers. It's that damned Wisteria I gush about all the time; a monster I tell you. I swear I can hear it chuckling when I am cutting back the runners throughout the gardens. We both know who will win in the end.
     Today and yesterday the chickens gave me three sweet little brown eggs.  The fountain pump needs cleaning; a messy job I have been putting off. Oh, I also finally twisted myself into the cabinet beside the stove and reworked the slides for the silverware drawer. They had broken their brackets back in....oh, May or maybe April. I can't remember. It's been too long, I know, but it's painful to contort myself around in there and then screw in a few screws. I managed it today, but it was exactly as I had imagined it would be. Ouch. Checking things off the list.
      There are a pair of doves nesting in the vine above the arch on the sidewalk.  I was surprised to learn how flimsy their little nest is. It hardly looks like nest at all.  I have gated the trellis arch closed, so as not to disturb them.  Surely this is her second brood of little ones, it being so late in the season.  I hope they make it.
     Now and then I go up to Enid and meet Dad after his treatments. It's been nice, spending time in town with him. Yesterday we had ice cream. Yay.
    I have been trying to watch the Pleiades Meteor Shower for the past two nights. So far it has been a bust, only two or three little ones.  The moon is very bright and I'm too tired to to stay up late enough for the best viewing. It works best when the moon is on the other side of the planet (as you would expect). Oh well. I may try again tonight. Sleep is nice.

P.S. After watching the relays by the men AND the women of the United States swim team, I headed out to shut the chicken house door. On the way, while admiring the beauty of the clouds in the moonlight, I managed to trip on a rock (who put that there?) and falling ass over teacup into the herb bed. It would have been no big deal except for that bracket on which I hang the little artsy garden flags. I managed to catch that one under my jaw, knocked a tooth loose and have a great bruise now. The tooth is not out, just a little loose. It will be fine. Oh, the chickens were fine too. What a beautiful night!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summertime Memories

Summertime sunshine and blessings stream,
for a child in innocence passing,
love all around you, everything seems
and adventure, with mem'ries amassing.

Sun scorch gives way to a golden moon
August stars flash, flare and fall,
Tag in the starlight, a bountiful boon
in this season, the best of them all.

Little boys laughter and fish on a line,
cannonball splash in the blue deep,
savoring summer days, one at a time,
joy in the water is dirt cheap.

 Catching at fireflies, lizards and frogs,
climbing trees, now they are fearless,
grab a snack, swing a bat, walk on a log,
littlest ones hovering near us.

 Oh, to feel time move that slowly again,
to know only this day and no other,
to rise early or late, to wander and then
to be wrapped in the arms of your mother.