Sunday, August 28, 2016

Very Filled Up Week

This week and weekend certainly have buzzed by quickly.  We've been busy doing normal, everyday things.  You know, work, home, work, home....Oh,  did I mention a birthday was celebrated this week?  I  kept telling Jack that this was his birthday week. I made his favorite dishes for dinner all week and on Thursday we had his usual bday dinner of Shrimp Creole followed by Texas Sheet cake.
Big cake!  Most of the cake ended up going to work with me the next day.  They were very glad Jack had a birthday!   I posted it on Facebook.  Jack doesn't do Facebook and when some friends texted him  birthday wishes he finally figured it out that I told the whole world!  Hey, it's a celebration right? Happy Birthday Babe!  Saturday brought us the opportunity to do a little service for a very worthy cause.
Associated Charities feeds hundreds of hungry folks and also helps cloth them and make sure every child has new school supplies and backpacks.  Christmas brings many out for help with food and gifts. To accommodate  all the needs a new location was needed.  This building was in much need of repair and funds were raised to make it happen.
The original, historic front of the building was kept, but the inside and back were all remodeled and updated.  What a wonderful place for families to go for help.  Saturday we went over and helped unload many boxes of food and get it ready to be organized on shelves.  Most of the work will be done this week and be ready for the public open house.
This is just a small section to show where foods will be kept shelved.  There's also a room with coats, gloves, hats and boots.  School supplies lined another area and there's a Christmas room that already has gifts that have been donated.  Sometimes it's easy to think there is no good going on in the world, and then you realize how generous a community can be for those less fortunate.
The truck arrived with the goods.
We were ready to start unloading.
A fun group of Ashland University students loaded up the boxes from the old area and brought them to the new facility.  They were the nicest kiddos!
Unloading.
Sorting and shelving.
Jack just observing!  He really did work too!  All in all it was a good day.  It was hot but we weren't too uncomfortable in the building.  It's amazing how much work can be done when many pitch in.  A few final thoughts for today.   I went out and picked the very first apple we've gotten off our very first apple tree here at the Pines.
I'm sure it will taste even sweeter knowing we grew it ourselves...well, with the help of the tree, the weather, and of course God!  Less we forget, it was National Dog Day this week too.
We don't regret getting this guy into the family! He's been a good buddy, sweet friend.  I love the sign that said "We were rescued by our shelter dog"...Thanks Chubbs!  Now for the real final thought.  Ashland schools start the new year tomorrow.  Some of the surrounding areas started last week.  I found this pic of my first day of Kindergarten 58yrs ago...1958.  I remember it clearly.  I really wasn't excited to go!
Can you tell?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Summer's Bounty

Summer has many good qualities.  Yep, it's much warmer and much lighter outside later in the evening.  It's time for vacations, family reunions, class reunions, camping, swimming, and many other activities.  We're into the heat of the Farmer's Market offerings.  All the area Amish are selling produce and the orchards are ready with peaches and early apples.  Down in the southern part of the country many gardens are already done.  Ours is just coming into the "check every day for some more stuff" phase.  We struggled, along with the area farmers as we've had a very hot and dry Summer.  The rain has finally come and my lawn is green again and I've been able to mow and not feel like I'm kicking up more dust than grass!  But we've been disappointed with our little garden and fruit offerings this season.  My raspberries were dried up before I got enough to make jam this year.  The green beans had only one picking before they too just didn't produce.  We even were diligent with watering, but still it was a struggle.  We've had better luck with okra and tomatoes.   Green peppers also have been a disappointment.  Well, thankfully the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings has been a blessing to go and get yummy, homegrown veggies at a good price.  We combined ours with theirs for some nice meals.  Yesterday I took this:
And made this:
Mmmmm...Salsa anyone?  Just the right amount of fresh and heat to put with some chips for a delish snack.
All gone! We enjoyed fresh corn, green beans, and red potatoes for a vegetarian meal.   All of Summer's bounty enjoyed!  The weather has turned....low humidity and cooler temps. Chubbs and I walked into the Creepy Woods this afternoon.   I was on a bit of a scouting effort...just a peek to see if any spot would make a fun cemetery for a Halloween party.  Never too early to think about Fall and Halloween is it?  A few spots caught my eye:
Down this nice trail...
To a clearing that wouldn't be hard to spook up a bit.  My wheels have been turning and I think Jack is nervous I'm serious about holding an outdoor shindig for church, family, and friends.  Maybe because this beauty arrived this past week...
Be afraid..be very afraid!  But we still have a few weeks of Summer left.  I plan to enjoy the last days of sun, fun, swim and mostly it's wonderful bounty of blessings! 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Get Me A Knife!

Yes, a knife is just what is needed around the Pines these days.  For what you ask?  Just to cut the air!  It's been a very hot and humid week. The air is thick as butter.  We have had a touch of rain here and there but not nearly as much as we need.  I feel bad for the folks down south that are getting slammed.   You would think with all the humidity we would be raining daily.  The forecast calls for some each day so I guess we'll just have to do a few rain dances to draw it our way!  As the week draws to a close I'm realizing the month of August is almost half over.  Kids will be back in school soon and the other day I saw candy corn on display.  Isn't that Halloween candy?  The fact that I actually bought a new Halloween decoration today doesn't mean a thing...hehe!  I'm on call this weekend and you all know how I just love that..(throwing sarcasm here!)  I'll be connected to my call phone from Friday at 3:30 to Monday morning at 7.  It's the one time I look forward to Monday morning when I can turn the phone off for a bit.  One last thought:  The other day I opened up the umbrella on the table on our deck and I found this little guy.
Don't you sometimes feel just like this?  In a spot you don't want to be, hanging on for dear life?!  Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

PAWZ For A Cause

Yesterday we went over to the fairgrounds to support our local chapter of PAWZ and donate to the Humane Society.  There were pet parades, contests, vendors with lots of cute pet accessories, many of them homemade.   I didn't bring the camera but we did take Chubbs with us.  He was happy for the ride and exploring the fairgrounds and seeing lots of other dogs.   However, one of the reasons we went was so he could get a nice bath from our groomer...the Barker Shop.  We donated toward the Humane Society and poor Chubbs had to pay the price! He's not overly fond of baths.  He would probably have a few choice barks if he were that kind of guy.  But he's a good sport, a kind old soul, and a very good boy.  When we got home he immediately did his ear rubbing ritual.
Rub the ears, roll on the carpet, shake his head...then he was ready for his pose with his new necktie.
Which I took off ASAP after the shot!
He just gave me the look.   Then we had to get ready to go to a birthday party for our Grandson, Cameron.  When we took Chubbs to the car he really didn't want to go!  I was forgiven however when he realized no bathing was in store!   It was fun to celebrate with Cam and see the other kiddos.
He opened gifts...
Blew out a candle on some cheesecake..his favorite dessert..
And took a flying leap into his pool!
His cousin Addy was there to help celebrate.  She's a little fish!
Happy 9th Birthday Cameron! We sure love you!  The weekend weather has been glorious.  The temps were a bit cooler and the humidity was down.  We were even able to open up our windows last night and let in the cool night air.  I love it when I can hear all the night sounds and feel the breezes!  Jack and I sat outside until around midnight looking at the stars in the very clear night sky.  We even saw what I call "shooting stars" but I'm sure they were meteorites.  Whatever they are called,  that always makes me smile when we get to see them.   I wished upon a star, then headed off to bed.  Since I couldn't get a shot of the stars,  I'll end with a pic of a bouquet from the garden...
This weekend went way too fast!  No time to really PAUSE!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Rain---Deer!

Our area is in a moderate drought.  Someone must have said some powerful prayers because we finally had a few days of some really nice rain.
See the big drops?
How about now? It didn't really cool things off because the temps weren't that bad.  What it did do was make it more humid.  But that's OK because I was so happy for the farmers that need it and for my grass that wanted it!   Last night Jack said we had a visitor.
Hello Deer!  Then I realized this beauty wasn't alone.
Bambi perhaps?
They watched me watching them watch my garden.  I sure hope they stay in the Creepy Woods where I can still have good feelings about them! (I better not catch them snatching a treat from the my almost ready produce!)
We planted a couple of apple trees a few years ago and this is the first fruit we've gotten.  We only have 3 but they carry with them the promise of Fall.  Not quite big enough to pick. Hope we get there before Bambi and her Mommy! 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Summer Time And The Living Is......

Summer time and the living is DANG HOT! It's also dang dry.  Just ask Fern:
Not looking so good.  Either is my neighbor's yard. 
Mine isn't much better but theirs really spoke to "DRY" to me!  However, the weeds seem to survive this hot dry spell we're having this year.
They look just fine!  In our yard we're watering the flowers faithfully.
These seem to be surviving.  The planting area across the driveway looks stressed out.
I looked at my hydrangea and it's nice and lush and green.
Notice however that no blooms are visible..or are they?  Look closely and you'll see one lonely blue bloom.
Hello my pretty! So pretty it felt wrong to cover it back up so I cut it so we can enjoy it's loveliness!
It will hold a place of honor!  With the very cool and wet Spring we had I couldn't believe it when everyone...well the Farmer's Almanac anyway...was predicting a hot and dry Summer.  It wasn't wrong but I was really happy to see this happening on Sunday:
Can you see the rain dripping from the gazebo? We need about a good weeks worth to make the farmer's happy and to hear my grass sing praises!  Until then I'll let this lady keep praying for us.
And I hope she keeps praying for the half baked hosta next to her!
Good night all...don't bother calling on that telephone line...I'm heading to bed!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

To Serve And Protect

There are stories almost daily of lives that are lost.  Lives that are taken.  Lives that are seemingly not given any consideration that they are anything but a body in a uniform.  I know that lives are also taken, lost, and also not given consideration that they are anything other than a criminal with intent to hurt.  Somehow we've taken it upon ourselves to be judge and jury when these things happen.  I've never faced a person with a gun or a person that I thought might want to do harm to me or my family.  I've never faced a situation in a dark alley, street, or car that would make me scared.  I've never had to make a snap decision on someone that I have to decide is a harm to others or themselves.  I'm grateful to those that do make those decisions.  I'm grateful to know I can make a call if I'm ever in a place or situation that makes me uncomfortable.  I'm also grateful to know some of those bodies in uniform as real people.  People who have families, friends, pets, hobbies, and go to work daily and put all that aside to help save others.  To serve and protect.  Are all police officers good?  Are all police officers perfect?  Heck no.  Are any of us perfect?  I doubt it.  I know good physicians, nurses, lawyers, school teachers....I also have met the opposite.   The slogan is "Black Lives Matter".  And they do.  But I say: "ALL LIVES MATTER!"    I grew up in a suburb of Chicago.  My folks moved there to build their own home in 1951.  No more apartment living where kids couldn't walk on the grass or play safe out in the street.  Everyone thought my parents were crazy to leave the city to live in the middle of nowhere.  But they knew what they could make happen there.  A small unincorporated neighborhood that slowly began to grow as others joined the movement to leave the city.  There came a time when our little town needed a police force.  My Dad was asked to be the first Chief of police in Oakbrook Terrace.   He accepted and had a couple of other volunteers to help get the force started.  They used their own cars and did this on their own time and at their own expense.  Today that little volunteer police force is now a full size, legitimate police force with cars and a station house and many men and women on the payroll.   When my Dad passed away I was very touched to see all the officers come to his funeral and give him a police escort to his gravesite and also take the time to pass through our neighborhood and our home with the whole funeral procession following.   This is my Dad...my hero.

Today I know another family member who has taken the calling to "Serve and Protect".  My niece,  Katie.  Also my hero.
She completed her Bachelor's degree in criminology and went on to get her Masters and is now a police detective with the Oakbrook Police Department.  She is more than a target in a uniform.  She's a mom to these two cuties.

She's a wife to Blake.
She's my sister's daughter.
  She's a Granddaughter, a sister to her other siblings, a good friend to many, and a good person who puts all this aside to go and help others and keep the community she serves safe.  Because she works out in the "burbs" it doesn't mean it's safe.  I know she has investigated many crimes that would make us all cringe.   I also know she has to go serve warrants in the city to criminals that you have no idea how they will react to being served.  In 2004 her younger brother, Jonathon, was killed in a car accident.  She was the officer called to the scene.  Imagine going to a bad crash only to find out that the person laying dead in the snow is your brother.  She's been hurt on the job but doesn't let that stop her.  She's hoping to get to retire one day from the force.  She hopes to go out with a good record and also without injury or worse.  We pray for her daily.  I hope we say a prayer for all those that put their lives on the line.  I hope we pray for those that have been gunned down to serve some sick person's idea of revenge.  I hope we all conduct ourselves as human beings who realize that all lives really do matter...no matter what the race, religion, or beliefs may be.  We need to unite in peace and help each other and our communities to be safe and  be places where everyone can live without fear.  We need to stop the violence.  Amen.