Build The Wall: A Non-political Post

A week before Christmas the sand mortar chimney was persuaded to come down. My oldest son climbed up into a hole in what will be the new kitchen ceiling, placed boards crosswise to create a make shift floor in the attic,  then asked for a ladder to be handed up to him. He stood on the ladder and still worked over his head, to knock the chimney down brick by brick. Being December, it was quite cold that Sunday, but we had a fun day and a fun time doing it. And now we have plenty of artisan brick for walkways and a pottager. Exciting!

The tongue and groove boards that covered the chimney breast were sorted and stored. Tenpenny nails had kept them secured to the rough hewn studs for over a 100 years. They had to be removed so the chimney could come down. In the chimneys place there will be a shiney new refrigerator. Possibly a cabinet of some sort.

Guess how I spent my Friday evening  and my Saturday morning? Yep, yanked all those giant nails from the tongue and groove boards. It was kind of therapeutic.  If a nail proved to be a little recalcitrant, I imagined someone’s face (will remain nameless) on the nail head and whacked away at it till it came out.

I had a birthday party to attend: my grandson turned one. He is so stinking cute! He smiled when he saw me and reached out for me to hold him. Best thing ever, being a grandmother. We get to relive the days when we were raising our own children, see their faces in their children’s faces and say “He gets that grin or that pout from So-and-So.”

Brentlee Gabriel. Isn’t he a cutie!

Out at my house the azaleas are in full bloom, almost. They are way early, because even though it was very cold in December, this winter has been a mild one. As I always do, I walked my gardens and took a few pictures.

In the curve of that shadow are huckleberries. They too are blooming.
Pride of Mobile at the base of the cowcumber.

I hope your weekend is a good one, whether spent with family or enjoying a solitary refresher.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.


Checked Out

Payday equals grocery run. Groan with a slight snarl. It’s just the three of us, in our multigenerational household: my Same-age-as-her-tongue-and-a-little-older-than-her-teeth Mother, my 19 year old college aged son and myself. My son requested apples and vanilla Activia yogurt. My mother asked for two bottles of cranberry juice, a bag of marshmallows and Pop Tarts.

The grocery side of the store with the big W on it was packed this evening. In the frozen food section, buggies and people congested the aisle, so I decided that we really didn’t need any quick frozen dinners; I’d just go home and make something instead. As I turned my buggy around, I noticed a guy on his phone and thought to myself, ‘Probably calling his wife to ask what he needed to pick up on his way home. How thoughtful of him.’ Well, then I saw that he noticed me too and did 180 watching me as I passed down the aisle. I thought, ‘Do I know him?’ Then I got a little aggravated.  ‘Jerk,’ I said to myself. ‘There he is on the phone with his wife and he’s eyeing me in the frozen foods section.’ I gave him a shoulder as cold as a Stouffer’s lasagna.

I finished my shopping and got in the shortest check out line. And guess who was ahead of me? Yep. Mr. Frozen Foods. He was unloading TV dinners for one and granola bars from his shopping cart and again he turned to look at me. Not rudely, just trying to see if he wanted to start a conversation. I gave him a tiny, polite smile and noticed two things: he had a case of water under his buggy and he wore no wedding ring.

I began to wind back my first assumption of Mr. Frozen Foods. Maybe he wasn’t married. On the back of his work shirt was a logo. A quick Google search and I found out where he worked. Kinda. The company sells o-rings and hydraulic lift things.

As I had checked out the contents of his buggy, he covertly spied my shopping items. Apples, cranberry juice, yogurt, bacon, milk, Special K, Pop Tarts, marshmallows and a small stack of baby books for my grandson-it’s his birthday, by the way.

Did I see a tiny flicker of disappointment in his eyes? Then I realized he had done the same thing with me that I had done with him- he presumed. I had presumed he had a wife. He figured I had a bunch of kids at home. The look on his face said, ‘Hmmmm. I wonder how many she’s got at home?’ I wanted to tell him, you know with all the charm and flirtation I could smash together (God knows I’m out of practice), that the books were for my grandson and the Pop Tarts were for my mother. And why shouldn’t she enjoy her Pop Tarts? If you get to be her Same-age-as-her-tongue-and-a-little-older-than-her-teeth years you could eat whatever you wanted to, too.

Oh, well. He paid for his groceries and politely told the cashier to have a nice evening.

I went home and joked to my mother that her Pop Tarts and marshmallows had cost me a date.

I got checked out while waiting to be checked out.

Happy Birthday, Brentlee!



Ecclesiastes 3 says “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” 

Time at my farmhouse today was quiet and solitary. Old brown painted back porch walls became a serene blue. The sun slow danced across the restored pine floorboards. The 2″ angled brush was rinsed and reshaped and put away for another weekend.

As I always do, I took a walk around my property before leaving this sunny, winter afternoon.

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The cowcumber  (big leaf magnolia) soared to the clear sky. Country blue, and looking a little forlorn, the mailbox yawned open. George Taber shyly peered through a tangle of limbs. Yellow daffodils waved in the light breeze at the back patio. A broken wooden backboard wobbled under the giant and waxy magnolia.

Like the farmhouse, the old gardens need refurbishing. Someone else’s past is my future. The azaleas are impatient and blooming early. They may get a lesson in patience, by way of another super freeze. Patience…learning it is never easy.

“A time to tear down and a time to build.”  


Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.