Shrug It Off

There would have been a time in my life that a day like today would have riled me. Water heater trouble, plus uncapped pex pipe amounted to a flooded room. Again, a few years ago, I would have considered the mishap a big misfortune. Today? I just found a broom and swept the water out of the room and laughed.

I’m almost through with the big set of kitchen cabinets. The uppers are finished; working now on the lowers. They’re not perfect, but they’re paid for. I like them. That’s all the matters, right? Besides, the food will be so fantastic, no one will notice.

 

 

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I reached a stopping point and sat down at my piano. A no. 2 pencil marked  A through G on the old ivory keys, turned yellow with the decades.

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The teacher’s notes and praise belong to another. It’s been 29 years since I’ve played a piano. Looking forward to relearning how.

A flooded floor, non-perfect kitchen cabinets, weak piano notes; shrug it off.

Blessings.

New Power

The 1950’s electrical panel was the best there was. Sixty years later, and circuit breakers getting temperamental, an upgrade is in order. New power for an old house.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is no more and the new life has begun.  Amen and amen!
So many people try to light their lives with old wiring. They prefer the familiar, because they are scared of the unknown. At least they know the probable outcome, even though it may not be good.
In the movie Chariots of Fire, Abrams is talking to his friend Aubrey. He tells him that he knows first hand the fear of losing, but he had come to the conclusion that he was more scared of winning. Abrams was afraid of the unknown. He had the strength and talent to win, but his past losses kept him from winning. The darkness in his head hindered his light from shining.
Abrams needed a new electrical panel, modern circuit breakers. Don’t we all? With Christ we have a new power. Hebrews 12:1 and tells us that since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of everything that hinders us and the sin that entangles us, and run the race set before us.
The old electrical panel hindered the lighting in my house. Dwelling on his past second place finishes hindered Abrams winning. Throw off the things that trip you up. Remember, if you are in Christ, you are a new creation.
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Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

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.”

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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.

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In the curve of that shadow are huckleberries. They too are blooming.
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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.

Patience

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.”  

Patience.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Rainy Weekend; Not Complaining

One chimney is out of the farm house. Friday sand mortar was shoveled into buckets and dumped into the driveway. The old bricks were thrown out a bedroom window: I’ll deal with them later- September, maybe. I kinda felt like Cinderella, cleaning out the old fireplace, until I saw the nest complete with mummified mouse! I screamed like a girly-girl!

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Saturday the rain drizzled off and on all day. Not complaining. We’ve had a two month drought and the rain was most welcomed. That morning also brought able hands to hang sheet rock in two bedrooms. I am so thankful they work cheap.  A slow cooker of chili, homemade cornbread and honey pralines were their payment.

The rain has continued. What to do on a rainy Sunday evening? With work, church activities and farm house renovations, I am up against the clock. But my family will be expecting Christmas cookies. The Hallmark Channel playing in the background, I busied myself in the kitchen.

I made two batches of cookie dough. Recipes on the back of toffee and chocolate chip bags are excellent and easy. Here’s a time saving tip: lightly coat big squares of parchment paper with vegetable spray, divide the batches of cookie dough onto the paper and press and roll the dough into logs. The vegetable spray keeps the cookie dough from sticking, of course. It’ll  be a sinch to remove the dough from the parchment, when it’s cookie baking time.

Mark the outside of the cookie dough rolls with precise descriptions of what is in the cookie dough. (I have a nephew with food allergies and I try to be very careful in what I make, when I know he will be coming to visit.)

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Five rolls of cookie dough went in the freezer for baking later in the month: Two Peanut Butter Heath Toffee and three Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip-sans nuts.

Christmas blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

I Got On the Pumpkin Bandwagon

I resisted as long as I could, but gave in this morning before leaving to go work on my farm house. What did I give in to? The pumpkin craze that happens this time of year caught up to me. There was that can of pumpkin in the pantry and pie isn’t what I felt like making- oh, by the way. Did you hear that your favorite canned pumpkin is really yellow squash? Yep. There was an article about it a couple of weeks ago. I wonder if I offer anyone a piece of squash pie this Thanksgiving if I’ll have any takers.

Instead of making pie this morning, I made pumpkin bread.  As always, this bread is not too sweet and great with a cup of coffee.

Here’s the recipe and what to do:

In the bowl of your mixer, combine one 15 ounce can of pumpkin (not pie filling), 2/3 cup white sugar, 3 eggs, 2/3 cup olive oil and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix till combined.

In another bowl, whisk together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Once completely combined, pour into the pumpkin mixture and slowly turn on your mixer. The batter will be very stiff. When mixed, divide dough equally into 2 bread pans, that have been sprayed with Pam.  Place in 350° oven and bake for about 80 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer stabbed in the middle. If it comes out clean, your bread is done. Cool before cutting.20161022_081637

Out at my farm house, the weather was perfect. Couldn’t ask for a prettier day than today. Cool temps, clear blue skies. No butterflies this morning, but the honey bees were busy in the pink sasanqua.

I worked today in what use to be the original kitchen. It has been gutted and will be my son’s bedroom and en suite. Its amazing what a couple if coats of primer will do to brighten a  dark fire place mantel. Again, slow progress is still progress.

My old barn is ancient, with quiet stalls lining both sides and a set of stairs to the second story. No floor on the third story, yet, but one day.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

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My Grandmother’s Scarf

Randomness

Last week it rained. The week before that it rained.  And the week before that. It’s soggy. None of my family in the Baton Rouge area were personally affected, but they are helping with the clean up and tearing out. Brings back childhood memories- sad, scary ones. This flooding in Louisiana is worse than what we experienced in 1983. My heart goes out to my native city. Our church collected needed items last Monday. I gave what I could.

My youngest went back to school Saturday afternoon. All day he kept asking if I was going to miss him.

“I already do and you’re not even gone yet,” was my answer.

He threw open his big arms and said like he did when he was little: “Hug?”

I hugged. He packed. Getting into his truck, he hesitated, jingled the keys.

“You know, if you need anything, just call me.”

“I know I can,” was my answer. “Now get on up to school. Be careful on Spring Ridge Rd. Wear your seatbelt. Message me when you get there, please.”

“Yes, ma’am. Love you.”

“Love you, too.” One last, “Be careful.”

 

I drove to my 1902 farmhouse.

Primer, paint rollers, brushes and a radio were unloaded from the trunk of the car.  A box fan was positioned to blow into the parlor, windows raised. Big windows, wavy glass symmetrically placed in ten foot high walls.

I listened to the news. They gave reports about the flooding in Louisiana. Interviews of Baton Rouge residents, their distress and plight clear in their tired voices, had me teary eyed. Bad memories.

I rolled primer over antique green paint. The walls are tall, but as the green disappeared a brightness rose. A message from George meep-meeped from my phone. He had arrived at school and was lugging his stuff up to his dorm. As I text him back, movement in the front yard caught my attention. A doe and her spotted fawn cautiously picked their way through the overgrown front yard. Beautiful.

 

I changed the radio station and found a rebroadcast of the Prairie Home Companion. I laughed and primed.  When there was no more primer in the two gallon bucket, I washed out my roller and brush. The new well has water that comes out cold and sweet.

 

Sunday morning: prayers for Georgie at 7 a.m. Dressed for church, I rummaged through a drawer for something to tie back my unruly head of hair. I found one of my grandmother’s scarves. The red was a little darker than the pants I wore (reds are hard to match perfectly), but wearing it today brought back good memories of Grandma. Strong lady. Maker of chicken pie. Eyes the color of dark blue marbles and a bright intelligent smile.

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Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

I Didn’t Find A Poke’mon

Today I didn’t find a pocket monster, but I did find a pug- a really tiny one. Yesterday was a very long day. Up at 5 a.m. and at work by 6:15. Worked all day, went home to start preparing for my weekend plans, then made an unexpected trip to the ER with my youngest son. We got back home at 2:30 this morning. (Side bar: He will follow up with another doctor next week, but he is feeling a good bit better.)

Even though I was exhausted from our ER visit, my plans for today could not be changed. One hundred-fourteen year old farm houses do not demo themselves and a small army to do the work had already been assembled. So…

Let’s  just say that none of us needed an app on our phones to get any exercise today. I didn’t find any Pokémon characters, but I did find a coat of arms and an old family picture – not my family, of course, but someone’s.  More little toys were unearthed, including a no-eyed, yellow Care Bear and the tiny black and white pug dog. Close as I will ever get to finding a Jigglypuff or a Pikachu. Is that what they call them? 

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It’s good to work hard. Know why? Hard work makes quittin’ time that much sweeter. I’m gonna sleep like a rock tonight.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.