Sunday, December 23, 2012

Baking a green ham.

* Vegetarian folks... this is a post you might want to skip.

Sometimes, I take for granted the things I learned from my folks.  A favorite uncle (perhaps actually a great uncle once removed) was a college professor and he loved to have dinner parties for his friends.  He taught me the basics with several types of meat that have never failed me in 30 years.

This week, a sweet friend took on the task of cooking a green ham for her family. She called for instructions.  Her single request was that it not be dry.

This recipe works for roasting a green (raw, fresh, non cured) ham or for a large pork roast.
Green ham does NOT have anything green on it.  Green is merely the phrase used to signify meat that is not cured in any way, but has just come fresh off the hog.   A few butchers still can get you a fresh ham and a few folks still raise and butcher their own hogs.  Most of us these days get them from the grocery store.

Open the package and wash the meat thoroughly with water.

Mix 1 teaspoon of sugar and 4 teaspoons of salt and rub into the ham or roast on all sides.
Line your pan with heavy duty foil.  
Place ham skin side up, cut side down on the foil.
Score the skin side of the ham.  I score one way and then at an angle so that you have 'squares' about an inch in size.  You want to score into the fat about 1/3 of an inch.
The skin is tough, use a sharp knife.

Pour a single cup of water into the  pan.  Cover the pan tightly with foil.

Bake for 17 to 20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees.  Instant meat thermometer should read 160 degrees for appropriate doneness.

I start to check at the early side of (17 minutes x ___pounds of meat) and check every 20 to 30 minutes (depending upon how fast it's going) until it reaches 160 degrees. 

Bone and skin will have pulled away from the meat.  Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

This has never failed me, nor have I ever had a dry ham.

Let me know how this turns out!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Meteor shower

It's just a little past midnight...
a brand new day ticked into place while I was outside,

standing along side my son,
watching shooting star,
       after shooting star,
              after shooting star.

... and remembering how many nights like tonight, I wrapped a little one in a big warm blanket
and wiggled
and giggled our way into a yard,
         or a field
                or a pasture,
                       to look up and behold the night sky.

Tonight, I stood there with a grown man
and we each made wishes... 

in some respects, little difference...
mother and son, in full appreciation of the beauty of the firmament... 
watching little streaking lights as they burn away.

In some respects, quite a lot of difference...
where I would have, twenty years ago, had to bounce him from one hip to the other,
little monkey arms and legs hanging on tight,
standing there with little boy breath against my cheek,
waiting to get so cold that one of us began to shake before turning for the lights of the house,
warm and beckoning.

I made him promise me that should he have little ones someday, that he will wrap them up and carry them out that they too should see and know the night sky.

And he agreed that he would... and then we began to shiver... and we turned and came in
surrounded by the lights in the inky blackness on our way back to the warmth.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving's Eve

It's the day before Thanksgiving and this means that we are so far behind on the cleaning that we've given up and moved on to cooking. 

Rather... I got up at 5:30, walked Stormy and started cooking.  Long before the sun came up.

And when I say we, we've all been  busy, but just now the man of the house is rearranging quail pens.

Yes, quail pens, which means that there are some things that I need to catch you up on.

Moving on... one might ask what I am doing sitting down this moment, but it's necessary... and things are in the oven, timers are set (even though the pitiful timer is being held to the fridge by a band-aid).

I am on schedule where my trusty notebook is concerned and even hatched up a second and third dessert that sounded good.  Am behind on getting out the dishes and washing them... and honestly am contemplating the drive to get some (shock and dismay) paper plates.  I am simply tired of loading the dishwasher.

Truthfully, I'm on the heels of having attended a conference, where there was much to see and do, and even more to contemplate... I look forward to next week, when I can settle down and do just that.

Getting home to be blasted into Thanksgiving mode is harder than I had imagined it would be.

And the house is much too quiet... with grown children, who are actually young adults, the day before Thanksgiving finds them all at work.  For this I am thankful.  As I chopped pecans and walnuts and diced sweet potatoes, I realized that they're all employed, which is no small feat during these economic times.  They are all healthy and reasonably happy... they have what they need and most importantly they have friends and they each have a beloved.  As a mother, this makes me very happy.

Tomorrow, or maybe late tonight, they'll start to come in.  The one who may not make it, will not be forgotten, as if we don't see her, we'll drive to her after the crush is over here.  I appreciate her dedication to her calling and remember trying to schedule the holiday madness when we were young and married and beginning careers.  It wasn't easy then and times have not changed.

As the day winds down, and I have far to go, it's time to get back up and organize and clean and cook some more.  I wish you many blessings and much to be thankful for in a life full of wonder and love.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Change of seasons

I live in a place where there are four seasons. 

 Four distinctly different seasons...

 And all of them are beautiful in their own way.

For as long as I have lived here, I do not believe that I have ever enjoyed an autumn as much as I am enjoying this one.  Cooler temperatures are nice and the colors are gorgeous.
Sleeping with the windows open and needing to layer on a quilt or two brings a whole different kind of peaceful rest as the chorus of night noises change to a more urgent symphony.

 Yet again, with the season change, work for me is curtailed and I find myself on a new wavelength
trying to figure out how to get things geared up for the Thanksgiving holiday and what to do with the time I have at hand.

 Things change... This old tree, almost certainly a witness to history, failed to put out leaves this year and stands sentinel before time and the winds of change bring it down.  
The subtle changes sometimes leave the biggest void.
I will miss it when it goes.

 But for sure, the road always leads home.
For me and for all those that I love.
 A hearth with a fire, a blanket and a book.

 A time to wonder and think.

Time to be reminded of my blessings.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Historic sewing

Every once in a great while in my life I have a big 'hmmmm'  moment.

You know... the kind where you pause and reflect and wonder.

This is one.

Recently, I have become gainfully engaged at an historic site where periodically, we need to wear historically accurate garments.  The date of the time period at this beautiful site is 1765.

Back country South Carolina at the beginning of it's recorded history...

Colonial land grants from the British crown to settlers who were willing to pack their lives into a wagon and head into the unknown with only their families and the possessions which seemed prudent to carry.  Finding their way along a wagon road south, living in the 'rough' until they reached their new home.  When I think of the courage that this would require, I can hardly breathe.  To places unknown, to settle a wilderness... to meet wild animals and native Americans and carve out a home with little more than your family and your hands and the knowledge that you had... it simply blows my mind. 

Back to historical sewing.

First, there is research.... lots and lots of research. 
Time and place, station in life, age and tasks all play into what you make.
It really was  a simpler time.  No stores of any kind, months to wait for anything you ordered and then traversed the whole of the state to get to Charleston to take possession.  Very little in the way of choices... wool or linen.  Textiles made of wool and linen were both produced in South Carolina and just the simple textile skills that I possess and much time and patience would produce fabric yardage to make into clothing and household textiles.

Simply protecting your body from the elements and modesty as was required by social mores at the time meant that you needed upwards of 10 yards of fabric for garments for a single outfit for an average size person.
I began closest to skin.  The basic undergarment for women was called a shift.  Widely documented, the shift of the period covered you from elbows to neck and almost to the ankle.  Made of linen, it stood in as your nightgown and  your underwear day and night.  After a good bit of research, I chose Kanniks Korners Last Half of the 18th century shift pattern, a mid weight white linen and commenced.

Now, in my sewing room sits several amazingly wonderful modern machines, and more antiques than I care to explain.  And none of these machines were available at the time period that I need to portray, hence I needed to polish up my hand sewing skills.

At first, it took me back to the earliest days of my taking needle in hand...  Summer afternoons spent making doll clothes from scraps and tentative stabs at creating patterns until my great aunts took pity (or possibly realized budding seamstress potential) and began to take my sewing education in hand. Somewhere in there, someone produced a 1940's commercial upholstery machine.  It smoked... it really, really sent up streams of smoke from it's motor and sparked and rocked wildly back and forth sideways while I, in my childish excitement, put pedal to the floor with a vengeance.  Yeah...

Then,  as work began on this most recent project, I began to realize that I looked forward to the quiet hours with needle and thread and sumptuous linen.  Simple lines might make the job easier but period technique and width of fabric meant extended, careful tiny stitches.  Felling seams, in order to prevent the linen from fraying and to make the shift withstand the test of hand washing and wear time, added more hours of fine tuned stitching.

Often this stitching took place in the confines of the historical structure, while waiting for tours to start.  The day that I finished the shift, I was sitting in an historic building build about 1822.  The final stitches meant that I need to move on to another part of the 'kit but just reveling in the beauty of a garment, made entirely by hand, was pretty nice.  Turned inside out the garment is as beautiful as it is right side out.  I love the technique and the end  result.

Then.... oh, my goodness... I put it on.

And I slept in it.

Deep and peaceful slumber.  When I wakened, the luxury of the linen, the impeccably perfect fit, the comfort of the simple, simple garment.
In the past world, fraught with hardship and danger, to have form and function collide in the form of the undermost layer of clothing had to have made the day ever so slightly easier.
I will confess to eccentrically wearing it quite a lot.  I look forward to shedding my modern confinements and pulling it over my head, simple comfort after a long day.  I also confess to spending a day off in it... doing barnyard chores and traipsing happily about tending flowers and animals in it, in all it's glory... historic underwear on the lam...

I accessorize this garment, when no one is watching, with my flip flops...
tres chic... I expect to start a trend any day now.

Work progresses, apron and bonnets and petticoats and jackets... the very challenging set of stays.  I look forward to making a second shift... I suspect it may be my 'go to' comfort wear at home now,when noone is looking.  The weird, weird connected feeling that one gets while making an historically accurate garment, in an historically accurate place, for the purpose of education and then discovering how wonderful it feels to sew every small stitch yourself.

If it's been a while since you applied needle and thread to fabric, let me recommend it.

Ironically, I am writing this sitting on the circa 1765 porch, watching a tufted titmouse  and blue birds and humming birds flit about the grounds.  Sharing the story here with travelers and people out for the day is a very nice job.  With the sounds of major highways in the distance to remind me that it is, indeed the 21st century, I can think of far worse things to do on a Friday morning. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's day...

Second in emotional challenges for me, is Father's day.  Slightly less raw than Mother's day, is the day that we celebrate the male influences in our lives.

I am blessed beyond measure to be able to give thanks to the following:

First and foremost, let me say that I made peace with my father.  As an adult, I came to terms first with how my early life fell to bits and secondly, with my father.  We had a relationship unlike the average father-daughter one, but what is average anyway?  In the end of his days, we talked long and communicated well on what, by any stretch, had been a relationship fraught with every emotion known to human kind.  In the very end, I accepted that he would not be at peace with it, but that I was.  Forgiveness, true, true forgiveness frees both the forgiven and the one who forgives for life and love as we should know it. I am grateful for the heritage that I have and it came from my father's family, as that is the one that I have known.

Secondly, I am grateful for the men in my life who took a seven year old girl and guided and molded and gave selflessly of their selves and their resources and their wisdom.  To Uncle Juddy, Uncle Hugh and Uncle Billy, who were 'great' relatives both generationally and presently, spent more time and effort bringing a willful, stubborn, aimless child into focus with many hours of calm, wise counsel and much direction, both specific and that which comes from watching lives lived well, I wish them eternal peace.  For looking at me and understanding that I was going to need a lot of skills to make it in life 'alone' and then for proceeding to teach me those things, I am ever grateful.  For being examples of fine, tough, never say die, Scottish stock, they were pretty much perfect.  For walking me down the aisle, teaching me to be a  fearless cook, keeping it real and honest when I needed advice that I didn't want to hear and teaching me marksmanship and how to fish, drive a tractor and change the oil, I am thankful. For helping me learn to manage my temper, which in this family is no small feat, for insisting upon self control and modelling it (most of the time), I am glad.
For giving me the gift of knowing men who were tough on every front but gentle and kind with women, true old fashioned gentlemen who gave me confidence in the male gender and in myself, I heap highest praise.

To Ike, who was my link to the heart and soul of the African American experience, and who's gentleness and easy smile made it ok to be a kid again.  Memories of sitting on his knee in front of a fire, warming my hands, held between his wrinkled, calloused ones was comfort and care in a world gone wrong. If ever there was a way for a white child to have a black grandfather, this was it.  For teaching me that hearts do not come in shades of brown or white and for holding my hand when I was scared, I am ever grateful.

To my father in law, Jerry, who, in retrospect, shielded myself and my family, and whose quiet reserve and insight into life, and whose example of being true to vows are unsurpassed in my experience, whose parenting gave me a beautiful husband and whose dark brown eyes and sense of humor I see in my own children.

To the men who are present in my life now:

To Jordan and Trent, who from infancy, retrained me in the meaning of maleness and who have loved me so sweetly and so completely and whose rambunctiousness has caused me to live a life that is not at all boring.
May you someday know the joyous gift of being fathers yourselves.

To David, who from toddler hood, remained my consistent friend and confidant and a good example of the best of the male world.  For nearly 50 years of absolute constancy in 'being there' and whose unwavering counsel I trust.  For knowing me, heart and soul, all of that time and still being there through sorrow and sunshine and every day in between.

To my Uncle Phil and Uncle Claude, who,both, make me laugh...always.

To my son in law, Clayton, for his spirit of adventure and courage in joining the family.

To my brother in law, Tim, whose good nature and giftedness at being an uncle, adds so much to my life.

To my husband, for being first and foremost, the love of my life, kind and caring when my heart needs it, sturdy and faithful in a world where that is often missing. For being able to deal with a fiercely independent spirit (in me and in the kids) and for not throwing his hands in the air so many times.  For support, physically and emotionally, and spiritually and for being the one man in the world to give me the gift of being a mother, I owe so much.  From the moments of their birth, he, who held them first, has been a steadfast champion of our children.  For working day and night, for riding shotgun on consistency and supporting my need and desire to be a full time parent during their young years, I am indebted.

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

This afternoon, after supper, my oldest boy insisted upon 'walking' his mother.
This is not in anyway unusual.
We often walk... over field and forest... through bramble and stream.
He's always been my child who is attached to the land.

Anyway, I leashed the dog and let myself be led away.
We walked to see some hunting areas that he's been working on.
We came to a new deer stand and he encouraged me to climb on up.

I declined... then, ahem... he offered to 'boost' my backside up in there.


Then I climbed on up.

I love seeing the world through his eyes.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Springtime chicks.

Nothing says spring on a farm like spring time biddies.

Now there are three approaches to baby chicks.

One is that you purchase some... you order up some or accidentally purchase some at the local feed and seed store.

Or your hen goes broody and you allow her to have her way.

Or you set them off in an incubator.

I'm a fan of that last option.  Really.  You end up with the chicks of your choice, the timing of your choice and chicks who imprint upon human beings, and for me, are easier to manage.

This year, I failed miserably at the 'plan'.  The plan this year, was not to have any little ones.  To skip a year, and allow natural attrition to cull the barnyard flock to a reasonable size for household of what is sometimes one and sometimes two people.

What ended up happening is some mixture of the last two options.

Back in February, I had a little hen go broody. 
And for whatever reason, I neglected to break it up.
I just let her go for it. 

I mean, she was so cute and ridiculous,
sitting in the corner of the lowest coop,
all fluffed and temperamental.

The rooster kicked into being 'a real boy' about that time, giving me all kinds of fits, but making me very unwilling to make lunch of him until I'd determined what kind of genetics he carries.  (He, being my sole survivor of a batch from option one (purchased) last year. I purchased 'hens' and 1/3 of them failed to be hens). He's all kinds of weird colors, but supposedly carried the 'blue egg' gene.

Anyway, things went well for a couple of weeks, until I came home one day to find the nest broken up.  Eggs broken everywhere.  Not sure, exactly, what happened, it was further assurance that I needed a summer off from having baby chicks.

Fast forward to April.  She did it again.

Again, I go to get in eggs and feed chickens and there she sits...
tight as anything on a large clutch of eggs, carefully hidden from my daily treks to the coops. 

Ok... so I'm busy... working two part time jobs... I let it continue.  

Until one day about a week ago, when I was in the area working and heard a commotion.  I went to see what was going on and every chick in the coop was out of sorts, squawking and flapping, I was flogged soundly by the rooster when I entered the coop (a very significant rooster 'no-no'), I discovered her pecking and breaking eggs.  Half developed chickens were oozing out of the nest, I was being flogged and the other hens were hysterical. 

I grabbed the rooster, stuck him in a feed sack and hung him on the wall.

Ok, so that's not what should have happened, but it did...

I grabbed the hen and tossed her.
I gathered the warm eggs into my shirt, being rather stunned to discover that one of the problems was over-production... and the fact that eggs were still being laid into the nest.  So much for not separating her from the coop...

I run to the house,
put the eggs in a basket,
grab the incubator and plug it in. 
Put the eggs in the cold incubator and hoped for the best. 
NO idea when to expect biddies, no idea of whether or not the incubator would come to temp or go over and kill the remaining developing chicks.

Again, significantly distracted by other life issues, one day this week, I head to the laundry, and while I'm putting clothes in, I hear... something scratching... in the incubator.  No peeping, mind you, only scratching.
And sure enough... there's a peep.  Oh, my...  again, I am unprepared.

I have a great brooder. It has thermostats and lights and ventilation... the works.
Is it ready?  No... Is it even clean?  No.

Soooooooo.... chick goes into a box, with a desk lamp.

Due to stupid chicken management on my part, we have continued to have hatching on 12 hour intervals. 
Up to the point of 10  uhm. er 12 chicks. 

And what we can determine about the rooster is this,  he is definately a mixed up fellow.
Little bits are the biggest mixed up blend of chickens I've ever seen. 
Some have the telltale 'muffs' of an Americauna (what the rooster is 'supposed to be').
Some have olive legs, some have bright orange legs, some have black legs.
Every color and hue.

What remains true...

There's nothing like baby chicks in the spring...

It's going to be a colorful barnyard mix, for certain.

We ARE having new chicks this summer.

Which may be a good thing, since I've lost two hens to what is likely a weasel in the last two days.

Ahhhh... barnyard drama...

A sure sign of spring.

For my Facebook peeps, I've put up a 'meet buttercup' video, which gives a new hatchling a once-over, up close and personal!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A day apart.

I've been meaning to post spring photos.


I've been meaning to post some recipes.

and in general, I've been meaning to post.

I'd admit to being very bad about taking the time to do that.

Amidst being back to work, picking up an 'extra' bit of part time work, and tackling the spring chores, it's hard.

Today, I want to share what I did yesterday.

Let me be the first to say that during the children's growing up years, we did a lot of dividing and conquering and so spent a goodly amount of time with the kids.  We next to never took time as a married couple to ourselves.  It was all about doing what we felt we needed to with the kids and it was mutual.

Now that the 'kids' are young adults, we find that we really enjoy taking a day apart and leaving all the stuff... the unfinished work, the bills, the housework, the detritis of the everyday ebb and flow of life...
Just get in the car and go.  Often not further away than we can do in a day.

What amazes me is the absolutely awesome places we've found while wandering.

Yesterday, we traveled to the ancestral home of my husband's maternal side of the family.  I'd never been.
We lunched at a little downtown soda fountain in a 'been there since 1930' pharmacy.  We went to an old, old general store and found some interesting things.

 This is an awesome wood cookstove, much like the one that I grew up using.  Sure makes me want one, not for everyday use but for winter weekends!

They had pretty much anything old fashioned you might every wonder about.

Really, seriously... anything you can imagine.

We saw the cemetery where his ancestors were buried.

Then, we decided to see a state park that we found on the map. It looked like it would be just right down the road... turns out... no... not at all.  Ended up stopped in a little 'hollow' between two mountains to get directions.  Turns out we needed to get back on the major highway, go down two exits and off, then drive 'a long ways through the country' till you come to an exxon station.  uhm... yeah...  that was exactly what you did.  Except that each turn was a long way from the last one, growing successively longer until I began to worry that we should have packed overnight bags and food. And the dog, and some fishing gear, and a tent.

We actually finally found South Mountains State Park.  And we met the rangers who were all kinds of friendly and welcoming.  And we decided to hike to the waterfall.

 In retrospect, I should have carried a walking stick too.  This park wasn't on the 'agenda' when we left the house... next time we have one of these dates, I bet that I'll pack a little differently.

 Beautiful mountain stream with perfectly clear water.

 Stunningly beautiful sections of trout habitat.

Amazing plant life, in full spring 'riot'.  Everywhere you looked, things were in bloom.

Beautiful boulders with water and vegetation.


Steps, some natural and some made by the Civilian Conservation Corp 70 some-odd years ago.

Trail side surprises at ever turn...

New word of the day...sorry for the poor photo... but really, you know you have to look up Migmatitic Metagraywacke.... you know you do...

Then, about 5 minutes climb after you are SURE that you can't take another step,
because your legs are shaky and when you turn and look back you get dizzy from the height...

there it is...

and down below it, the full pool...

Friendly folks to take your photo... also resting from the last 50 yard climb.

worth every step.

Guess what??? The way back is down all the way!

and at the bottom, the little stream is still so cool and so quiet.
and then you get to the parking lot and THEN you see the following sign!~


Actually,  we took a slightly different trail about two thirds of the way down, as it followed the little trout stream and had some interpretive displays.  

A plan is afoot to return and camp for a day or two... now that we've found it, it's much too nice not to sneak a peek at some of the other 18,000 acres...  It is chock full of more than 40 miles of trails, and wildlife and a breathtaking array of wildflowers.

So, here's to taking a day and wandering on the path less travelled,,, 

and possibly hiking up a mountain to feel the spray of a waterfall on your face,,,

with someone whose company you enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012


My computer is upstairs.  As I sit at it, I hear my boys.

It is spring break from college, so the baby boy (here I have to stop and scratch my head as to how the BABY managed to be a grown man in college) is home.  And it is so nice to have him home.

I hear my boys talking.  The easy chatter between brothers who have needed to spend time with each other.
The subject matter is wide and varied...
...and really not important at all.
How precious their time together.

They have taken a few walks to the woods and river together, as well.

I hear their voices, deep and masculine...some rowdy, salty language.
Great deep belly laughs.
Sharing the things that have happened since last they were together.

I simply cannot go downstairs and break the moment.
I am so glad that they have each other.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wheels of justice

Just now, at 51, I have had my first jury experience.

I had been called for jury duty before, but was excused because I was breastfeeding an infant.
And then I did that a couple of more times, and cared for a 90+ year old to boot.

My emotions this week probably were not helped by a sinus infection which made me feel like I'd been run over by a bus.  Or the early, early starts, in order to feed the critters and get to the county courthouse by 8 o'clock the first morning, 9 o'clock on the other days.  It put a serious dent in my coffee time each morning and the slow and gentle start to the day to which I am accustomed.

But there it was, fail to show and be in contempt of court.  My self and some 110 other folks, (based on juror numbers, it sure seemed like only 50 or 60 people actually showed) showed up diligently to do our civic duty.

It began with a note about parking.  Park in the parking garage, two blocks down.  Courthouse has poor parking situation. 

Parking garages do not fit my van... never have, never will.  So, first duty of the day is to park illegally and go inside and beg, beg, beg for a parking pass, so I will not get a ticket every day that I'm there. 

We know they ticket you there.
Tommy got a ticket while paying the taxes.  He parked in a blue parking area... the parking areas this week, were green and white and yellow.  I think they repaint them each week, in order to provide more ways to interpret who can be given tickets.  I mean, really... they have to make money somehow.

It would be really, really awful to have to pay a ticket to park each day, to do a duty for which I have no choice.

So, I go to the door.  I get in this long, long, long line. Everyone is pretty nice and patient,  lots of folks seem nervous.  When I get to the front of the line, it's kinda like being at the airport and the TSA.  Drop your keys (which they thoroughly inspected) and your turned off cell phone (which they thoroughly inspected) and your purse.  Which they searched with such a vigor that the man ended up holding a tampon in his left gloved hand while flashing a flashlight among my necessities... you know, a book, a comb, a lipstick, 47 cents (cause that's what I could find in the floorboard of the car) and my jury papers and my identification.  Also, and very important later in the story, my zipper bag, which I move from purse to tote to backpack with even more basics.  Hmmmm....

So, I think, I'm going to be well protected here.

There you go, young lady, move along through the metal detector.  (Hey,,, he gets extra goodie points, he said 'young lady'.)

Not going to detail every moment, but we get the standard "we need to know some stuff about you" run around and we swear to tell the truth and be honest and all that stuff.

Then we go through the process of being chosen for juries.  Three dockets a day, up to four (that's how many courtrooms there are) cases per docket, and 6 jurors each case.  The first day, I was chosen in the middle of the day for a case.  A 4th time of driving under suspension.  HUH?

I continually shook my head and looked at the other jurors to see the really pointless reasons why we were called to serve.  Sometimes, the proper procedures had not been followed... sometimes, the system worked beautifully.  But always, we were treated kind and courteous, by very professional folks whose job I now appreciate so much more than ever.

But, we're gonna move forward to day two.  On day two, I determined that I had never in the last 25 years or so, had to sit still for so long a time and be quiet.  So, I inquired with some knitters who said, "sure you can take your knitting'  "I did, a few months ago"  So, I pop my knitting in my bag and go stand in line.  The same bag contents of the day before, except add knitting.  Tiny size 2 double points, plastic ones (like you can take on planes) in a preemie baby cap project.  Just a handful of knitting, to help me bide the time.

Well, folks,,, you'd have thought I had carried in contraband... actually, that is exactly what the lady called it...

She called my knitting 'contraband'.  In a LOUD voice.  She questioned my motives and pointed out that I might try to stab someone with the 4 inch bryspuns. 

Please take them back to your car.  For this I am grateful!  Would hate to lose my favorite little baby needles.

So, I go back to the car, drop the knitting off and return to the line.
I stand in line again.  I was certainly going to be late, but it doesn't really matter, because we never started on time.  In fact, we ran about 45 minutes late for each and every docket.  But it did make me anxious... I could imagine that the one time I am caught with contraband, that would be the time they started promptly.

I got back to the head of the line.  Went through the routine... to discover that
the little one ounce containers (that you can take on airplanes) of body spray (which I had in my zipped bag) was... are you ready.... it was "contraband"..

If you need more drama, reread the above two paragraphs, but insert different words.

Round 3 contraband, a sting stick... you know, the little kind you keep in your purse for stings, with lidocaine...

Round 4 contraband, There in the bottom of the bag, my little multi tool.  even I know this is contraband.

Sigh... by this time, I figured it out. 

Go to vehicle, open door, pour contents of bag on driver's seat.  Retrieve a book out of the floor
and return to stand in line again. 

I was not late...

In fact, I had time to share the story with my fellow jurors, some of whom had watched round 1 through 4 with much amusement.  By the time you've spent several days in close confines, you're all buddies... you want to all go out and celebrate together.  My seat mate said "yeah... those earrings you're wearing look kinda pointy"

Shhhhhhh.... I don't think I have it in me to make a 5th trip back through the line.

Things I learned:
I never needed my identification.  All that security,,, and I never had to prove that I was, indeed. juror 104.
Don't take knitting needles to the court house,,, or multi-tools, or anything liquid.
You can however, take matches (so you can smoke) and ink pins (which are more dangerous than my knitting needles). 
Don't plead 'not guilty' when you darn well did do it, especially not when you're gonna admit that you did it, but that it 'wasn't' your fault'.
Jurors are nice folks.  They're all in the same boat you're in...might as well entertain each other.
If you beg and plead, you get parking privileges. 
Do everything in your power to stay out of the court system. 
Be grateful for a judicial system that works and that we live in a country where you do have rights and freedoms that are protected by the constitution.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rocking chairs on the porch

So... yesterday, I got a phone call from a friend that I'd not heard from or seen in several years.
A friend with shared interest that I simply have not pursued keeping up with and that's a shame.

So, because it was in the high 70s and beautiful and because the dog was trying to distract me by chewing on toys (read this as pulling the fluff stuffing out and decorating the living room with it), I went out and sat on the porch.

Now my porch functions as a room in the house about 80% of the year.  It has some vintage 1940's wooden rockers and a table and chairs and a bookcase.  It has, in the winter months, a firewood stack and presently, I believe there are three bicycles out there.

My favorite place to sit is on the two seater rocker, with my feet propped up on a 'table' made of a peach crate.  The peach crate table should have a post all it's own.  For another day.

So, I put the phone on speaker, put it on the table, picked up the knitting and rocked away... blissfully ignorant of anything around me but catching up with the friend on the other end of the line.

And, in my absence of presence of mind, I must have rocked with a vengeance, because just as we were winding down the conversation... I rocked myself right off the porch.

Bloop... Chair, woman, knitting...all... right off into the bushes (and the ashes, as someone had emptied fireplace ashes there).

Tail over teakettle,,,

it happened before I could figure out what the noise was.

Luckily, nothing was broken or harmed very much, except for my pride.
I was laughing too hard, and trying to extricate myself from the chair/ashes/bushes/knitting to explain what had happened.  The pup thought that this must be a new game, so she entered the fray to provide a good amount of licking and frolicking.

The worse moment came later, when I described for my boy what had occurred.

He, every so lovingly responds, "I need to put a railing on that porch to keep this from happening to my poor old mama!"

Heaven help me!  I need a railing!
What is the world coming to?

Boy, does the time fly by!

Not sure exactly where January went. 

Went to school yesterday to discover that in one short month, the cabin fever crankies had set in on nearly everyone that I know and love.

I realize that might include me as well.

A few points to note:

Winter, where the average temperature is 75 is odd... very, very odd.  I LOVE 70 degree weather, normally. I am, however, finding out that I miss the cold clear weather, where the jack frost crunches underfoot in the early morning and you need to run a little to get back to the house when you went to get the mail without a jacket.  This has been a 'coat-free' winter.  I believe I've worn mine twice.

Writing this, I am sure, will bring on a blizzard of epic proportions, and possibly days of sub zero temperatures and the need to have a fire in the fireplace.

The 70's temperature range is too warm for traditional winter soups and stews most days.  I relish the cooler evenings when a pot of soup seems almost right. 

Oddities on the farm.  After their usual 'winter' hiatus, the chickens commenced laying in early January and presently, I have a broody little hen sitting on a dozen or so eggs.  She'll be off shortly, which is a weirdo time for biddies.  And it's rather a weirdo thing for me to let a hen have a 'go at it'.  Usually, I am the chicken mamma... me and the incubator, that is.  Don't know what I was thinking, except that she was so cute, sitting there all fluffed out and cranky as all get out.  I sort of 'got' what she was feeling that morning... and I didn't feel like arguing with her.

Have I said that I love keeping chickens?  Even when it makes no financial sense, with only a couple of people in the house.  I love keeping chickens.  Love their personalities and the rhythm that caring for them brings to life.

I've had a busy 'winter', really.  For a woman off work and looking for a job, that is.
New friends, with babies to share. An active knitting small group, with beginners, who are not actually beginners at all, to find new and exciting things to teach and learn.  A crazy year old puppy.
A spring garden to plan. Rethinking life when the kids are grown and busy with moving on.

I'll try to get back to a regular sharing.  I have more than a few photos and things to talk about.
It's just so hard to do, when it's pretty enough to sit on the porch and rock.