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10 Good Reasons to Take the Scenic Route

          …from Elizabethtown to Glasgow, Kentucky

                     …in the Summer

…by Yourself

(Specific enough for ya? Anyway…) Heading south the other day, I soon tired of testing my survival skills on Interstate 65. Since my schedule was loose, I diverted to South 31E and found there are many advantages to taking the scenic route.

  1. You can avoid the Interstate 65 dodge ‘em course and boredom. Actually, driving boredom isn’t possible since every few miles there is a small town where the speed limit drops to 45 miles per hour, or even 35. Keep alert for speed traps. No worries, though. Look around at the scenery. Indulge in a grin when you see the sign stating “Congested Area Ahead.” Give yourself extra points if you actually see a car while driving through the “congested” area.
  2. Stop for ice cream. Most small towns have a locally-owned shop. Try The Sweet Shoppe on the town square in Hodgenville. Good to know? They ship their homemade fudge.
  3. Enjoy the flora. The Highway 31E route glows green, but about 15 miles south of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, there is a two-mile stretch where the trees grow close to the road creating a lush, shady tunnel, embellished with Queen Anne’s lace.
  4. Enjoy the fauna. Cows—cows everywhere. Gathered in the shade of a small stand of trees or up to their hoo-ha in the pond, trying to beat the heat. Also, the birds entertained me on my trip. A gorgeous, snowy-white egret flew across my path, trailing its thin, coal-black legs behind it. The sight took my breath away. Then a couple miles down the road, I saw a bird fly smack into a church. HA!
  5. Churches. The poor bird could hardly be blamed for flying into a church. They’re difficult to miss. This area must be Good Folk Central, because you won’t travel very far without seeing a church or two, or four. (Maybe that solves the mystery of the “Congested Area Ahead” signs. Better drive carefully if you’re on the road around noon on Sunday.)
  6. Front yard produce stands. And since this is Good Folk Central, none of the stands I saw were manned. You’re on your honor.
  7. Tobacco barns painted black. More points if you spot the barn supporting the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Not many points though, because it’s hard to miss a five-foot tall, Kentucky blue, upper-case “K.”
  8. Small town names. I’ll only list two. The first one is Uno. It really is. Another town name that caught my eye is Magnolia.
  9. Sing. Belt it out! You’re alone. Your husband or daughter are not there in the car to spoil your fun by turning on the radio just because you happen to start humming a simple, little tune. Anyway, just sing.
  10. More scenery. About 10 miles north of Glasgow, the road opens up to a big sky. A ring of tree-covered hills lines the horizon in the west. Puffy, gray-tinged clouds break up the blue of the sky. You can see for miles at this spot. Get some perspective.

Most places have their scenic routes. Search them out. If you are fortunate, your trip will end as mine did—with an open door and a welcoming hug.

Bonus reason to take the scenic route: I also took the back way to visit my sister, traveling from north of Glasgow to west of Glasgow. In a field along the way, I saw long-horn steer (which is unusual in Kentucky) and two zebras. Yes. I did.

Because it fits the day

Here is a little poem for this gray, cloudy day:

In my quiet home

windows open, soft rain sounds

invite reflection

File under: Chickens Are SO Weird!

Keeping chickens in town is generally an easy, fun, little hobby. The chickens are interesting to watch. The eggs are the yummiest. But sometimes, events take a strange turn.

Hens are known for having an “egg song” they sing to let you know they have laid an egg. Our Buff Orpington hen, Tillie, loudly sings her song in her strangely low-pitched, gravelly voice before she lays her eggs. She’s all, “Bok! Bok! It’s about to happen! Bok! Bok! I’m really gonna do it! Bok! Bok! I swear, I’m gonna lay this egg right here, right now!”

Enter our accidental rooster named Marilla (Yeah, I know. But we didn’t know he was a rooster when we got him.) Anyway, Marilla hears Tillie bokking her head off, and apparently thinks there is a threat he needs to let me know about. He’s all, “Er Uh Er Uh ERRRRRRRRRR! Something’s going on out here! Er Uh Er Uh ERRRRRRRRRR! What am I gonna do?! What am I gonna do?! I know, I’ll let that big featherless chicken take care of it. Er Uh Er Uh ERRRRRRRRRR!

So, I take care of it.

I bet our neighbors hate us.

Our accidental rooster, Marilla, in a calm moment

Our accidental rooster, Marilla, in a calm moment

Laundry Day Truisms Countdown

4. If I do 40 million loads of laundry on Monday, there should not be 40 million more loads of laundry to do on Friday.

3. I may be exaggerating.

2. But not much.

And the number one Laundry Day Truism is:

1. PEOPLE GOTS TOO MANY SOCKS!Image

Photo from publicphoto.org

The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins.

Because that is life (and a recipe)

I was recently reminded of an incident that illustrates how frustratingly funny (both strange and ha ha) life can be sometimes. Here’s how it went down:

A few years ago, my husband and I finally gave up the fight and bought cell phones, a major expense for us. Shortly afterward, I was sitting at the table with my daughter and a slew of her friends for lunch. I looked around the table and saw. . .a forest of tall glasses–full of water, one at each child’s place. Looked at my cell phone lying on the table. Looked at the full water glasses. Looked at my cell phone. Plucked my cell phone up from the danger of the imminent flood–and promptly dropped it into my soup.

HA!

The soup was good though. Here is the recipe:

Southwest Stew

Buy a chicken to roast. Roast it (what else?) Have a nice dinner with your family, but freeze 1 1/2 to 2 cups of chicken for the soup.

Next, cook up the chicken bones for broth. You can do it! It’s easy! Just break up the bones and cover with 12 to 16 cups of water. Throw in some raw veggies (carrots, celery, onion, whatever you have.) Add a tablespoon of vinegar, a few cloves of garlic, two or three bay leaves, some peppercorns, and salt. Bring to boil, then simmer for HOURS. Try for at least four hours. Scoop out the goop, then strain out the little stuff. Put the broth in the fridge until cool to make it easy to skim off the fat. After it is cooled, freeze in 2 cup portions. Pat yourself on the back for being all frugal and Suzy Homemaker-y.

Now (and stay with me) buy a 32 ounce container of your favorite yogurt. Eat it, make smoothies or cakes or whatever, but save the container. Put it in your freezer. When you have vegetables leftover at supper that are not enough to keep for another meal, put it in the yogurt container with the juice. When the container is full, make some soup!

Add the frozen, leftover veggies to 6 cups of the wonderful homemade broth you concocted. Add the leftover chicken. Bring to a boil. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of barley. Reduce heat and simmer until barley is cooked. Season to taste. Serve with hot cornbread–of course, bake the cornbread in a skillet!

Note:  Keep your cell phone far, far away from the soup.

PS: Ok, I know many of you reading this blog (if there are many of you reading this blog. Ok, some of you reading this blog. OK!) If one were actually to read this blog, one might wonder (satisfied?) why is this soup called Southwest Stew? There are no spices or ingredients that are usually found in dishes called Southwest Something. Here’s the story. I promise you, it’s short. We’re almost done here.

Once upon a time, I was an office manager for a homeless shelter. Once a week, our cook would gather whatever leftover veggies and meat were available in the walk-in refrigerator and make soup. This yummy dish was known as Walk-in Stew. You get it, right? Walk-in fridge/walk-in stew? Ok, then. This name sounded less than appetizing to me because it reminded me of feet, so I decided to change the name. (Yes! I changed the name of the soup by fiat. Office managers rule!) The kitchen was in the south west corner of the building, so, voila! Southwest Stew! Enjoy!

It’s Offensively Summer (and another recipe)

OK, all of you peace loving people, you may want to skip this post, ’cause it ain’t gonna be peaceful.

My daughter and I went for a bike ride this morning. Love the daughter. Like the biking. Really, really don’t like the weather. At 7 AM, the temperature was 76 degrees!  And muggy!

I’ve never been a fan of summer, even as a child when it meant getting out of school for three months. Now it is even worse. As a child I didn’t worry about sunburns, sunscreen (don’t even know if that product was available when I was a child) or West-Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes. I know this is weird, but putting on sunscreen feels oppressive to me (shudder.) But I burn easily, so I have no choice. (Note to self: research natural sun protection.)

If I could spend the entire summer at the lake, perhaps I would be more resigned. But I feel more caged up in the summer than the winter. We have fairly mild winters here in our little corner of the Ohio Valley, mostly with temperatures in the 20’s, so there are few days when it is too nasty to get outside. But in the summer, the combination of heat, humidity and early morning and evening mosquito invasions can make for very unpleasant days.

I will admit, there are a few things I like about summer, mostly to do with food; such as peaches, watermelon, sweet corn, tomatoes, lima beans, and (sigh) Concord. grape. pies.  Concord grape pies are worthy of an post all by their lonesome. Maybe later.

Well, I feel better having let my rant out. I know that in the Great Scheme of Things my dislike of summer is absurd. What can I do about the weather anyway? Thank goodness for lake time, AC, iced tea (sweet, of course) and our absurdities that can be exploited for blog posts.

BH

Confidential to Vonilda: I DON’T want to hear about the weather in Alaska!  😉

PS: Of course you must know that DH just lo-o-o-o-ves summer.

PPS: You must try this pie. If a Concord grape pie can make someone like me look forward to summer, you know the pie is worth the effort.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/concord-grape-pie-i/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=concord%20grape%20pie%20i&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page

These are the changes I’ve made to the basic recipe: 1) Change 1 1/4 cup white sugar to 2/3 cup white sugar; 2) Change 1/4 cup all purpose flour to 1/2 cup all purpose flour; and 3) Change 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice to 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

(from June 2011)

Would I want the writing ability of someone else?

(Well, probably you all would be happier.)

A writer’s block unblocker asked if one could have the writing ability of another author, whom would you chose and why. And would you exchange writing styles permanantly.

It would be great to have the writing ability of another author! I would immediately acquire the writing ability of Wodehouse and write a few more adventures of Jeeves and Wooster. And even though this scenario specifies one author, I choose to presume this means one author at a time, so next I would osmosisize (yes, that’s a word–now) the ability of Jane Austen, and find out what really happened after Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth married. The possibilities are endless!

A permanent change is out of the question, though. Eventually, I would re-exchange my own writing ability for the great ones, write a book about my experiences, spurn the talk show circuit, buy my husband a tropical island because he loves the beach so-o-o-o much, dedicate my life to knitting dishcloths for my friends and family (actually, I think I’ve already done that) and thank God for the gift of imagination.

BH

(from February 2010)

Navy Birthday Ball…fun? Well…funny, anyway

I’ll be moving various notes, articles, and miscellaneous thoughts to this blog in the next few days. Here is something from October 2010.

My sister reminded me today is the US Navy’s birthday. (Happy Birthday!) This brought back memories of the one time I attended the Navy Day Ball–while DH was overseas.

DH and I had only been married about five weeks when he had to go to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield. You have never seen such a mizzable girl as I was–in a new home, in a new state but without  my new husband. Of course, the Navy has support groups available, and I met some lovely women there (Hello, Becky!) DH’s commander invited each Navy wife whose husband was deployed to attend the Birthday Ball as his guest. Well, it was better than sitting at home feeling sorry for myself, so I went.

At our table, to help keep us company, was a young seaman who was already on my list (not the good one. Nothing major, just a bad case of him not knowing when to keep quiet.) Anyway, the Ball progressed–dinner, music, toasts–all very traditional because the Navy is very  big on traditions. Then came the dancing. You can well imagine how little interest I had in dancing. My seaman (yes, the one on the list–not the good one) turned to me and asked, “Would you like to dance?” I didn’t really want to be rude and say what I was thinking, which was “not with you.”  While I was turning my mind to a more socially acceptable response, he continued, “Cause I’ll find somebody to dance with you.”

😀

So, yes it was worth it to attend the Navy Birthday Ball while DH was overseas, because every time I’ve thought of this in the last 20 years, I had a really good laugh over it.

Add the chicks

We just bought a few chicks to raise for eggs. (DH, “If we name them, we won’t be eating them.”) So I may need to change the name of the blog to life + knitting + chicks because they take a lot of care at this stage. Plus, they’re just so darn cute to watch.

Here’s a fun activity for youngs chicks (and for the humans who observe them): Put some kind of little treat in for them–they seem to like olives–and watch them chase each other to get it. Even when you put in enough pieces for each to have one, they chase each other to get the olive in some other chick’s beak.

Now, I’m going to resist making any analogies with human behavior.

(but you know what I’m thinking, don’t you?)

uh, huh

Anyway, here’s to Stella, Lucy, Violet, Lizzie, and Sylvie. You chicks are a riot!

Really cute chickie, despite reminding me of a wolf spider