Posted in country life, Home, Life

Words for Wednesday: country roads

The late songwriter/singer John Denver may have said it best in his song, Country Roads: “Country roads, take me home to the place I belong…” (written by Denver and Bill Danoff, released in 1975)  

But the country roads that take me home aren’t in West Virginia like Denver sang about. Instead, my country roads lead me around my state – Pennsylvania – and take me back home.

Sandwiched in between two big cities (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia) on either end of the state, a huge section of rural areas exists – the country. And when I say country I mean not just farmland but small villages and some 7 million acres of forested land.

And a multitude of country roads. Those are the roads I love best. I grew up in the country, a rural location near farms. True enough, I strayed, lured away for many years living in suburbia near big cities.

But my heart has always been rooted in country soil instead of concrete.

“I grew up like a lot of country boys and girls do – amongst the pine trees, dirt roads, farms, mules and people who were real.” ~ Josh Turner, American country/gospel singer

Even though I’ve enjoyed visiting and touring large metropolitan cities – and I’ve been to many across America from New York City to Los Angeles – I’ve never wanted to live in one. I know there are lots of folks who love urban life, but it’s too noisy, too busy and bustling, too crowded and cramped, just too much for me.

That’s why I’ve felt so content, so peaceful, so at home here on our own little 2+ acre country plot. This is my home. In the country, where the nearest neighbor is not just a few feet or inches away but down the road.

I’ve never regretted chucking suburban life and relegating it into the past 24 years ago this month by coming back home to this rural land I love. And it’s safe to say my city bred and born husband hasn’t regretted that decision either, thank goodness.

Country roads take us home.

“One’s home is like a delicious piece of pie you order in a restaurant on a country road one cozy evening – the best piece of pie you have ever eaten in your life – and can never find again. After you leave home, you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up.” ~ Daniel Handler, American writer

© 2022

Posted in Home, Life, neighbors

Words for Wednesday: like a good neighbor

To have a good neighbor, you must be a good neighbor.

That’s not necessarily a quote from some famous person but something I’ve always thought myself. It kind of follows the “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” rule – the Golden Rule.

That concept comes from Jesus’ words in the Biblical books of Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. I not only learned the Golden Rule in Sunday School lessons, but my parents taught it to me when I was a young child.

Having lived in different neighborhoods in different states during my life thus far, I found myself blessed with some truly good neighbors.

“Definition of good neighbor: someone to be trusted; a courteous, friendly source of help when help is needed; someone you can count on; someone who cares.” ~ Edward B. Rust, Jr.

As a very young child, one of my neighbors was the same age and became my playmate. We not only went to school together but church too. And not surprisingly, she became one of my best friends for life.

We were only neighbors over 50 years ago, but just a couple of years ago, she and her husband moved closer to where I live. So once again, we are neighbors although we live a little more than 1/2 mile apart. My neighbor/friend is someone I can totally trust, someone who genuinely cares about me, and someone I can confide in and count on to lend a helping hand.

When I was growing up, our next door neighbors’ daughter also became one of my life-long best friends, even though we lived many miles apart after becoming adults. She has always fit that good neighbor definition too. We have traded confidences more times than I can remember and I’m confident she is always there with a listening ear and caring heart. I know she has my back.

As a young, single college grad embarking on a career, I accepted a position in a small town where I knew absolutely no one. During my time living there, I had an exceptional neighbor who also was my landlady. Her husband worked night shifts and we became fast friends, spending evenings talking or just watching TV and sometimes eating dinners together. She was a godsend to me at a lonely time in my life.

Fast forward a few years, as a married military wife, I once again was blessed with a great next-door neighbor when we lived in Army post officer’s quarters. Both of us were first-time mothers and we shared experiences, fears, and joys with each other. What a blessing it was to have such a good friend just steps away right next door.

“A good neighbor is a very desirable thing.” ~Thomas Jefferson

Once Papa and I left military life, he changed careers and we landed in a Midwestern city far from our families in our home state. There we purchased our first house and again, didn’t know one person who lived in the area. But one day, a neighbor arrived at my door with her young daughters in tow to welcome me to the neighborhood.

Once more God intervened and provided a wonderful neighbor for me just two doors away with assurance I could count on her anytime for help. Our children became playmates and good friends, and this helpful neighbor watched our oldest daughter while I labored bringing our next child into this world at a nearby hospital.

Neither Papa nor I worried about leaving our little one with our neighbor because we trusted her completely and knew our daughter was in good hands. Just like the advertisement jingles for insurance companies– like a good neighbor, she was there. And we still keep in touch with one another after many years (and moves for us) have passed by.

Likewise, when our family moved to another part of the country to a brand new home in a brand new subdivision, great neighbors became part of the deal. We enjoyed social gatherings, our children played together, and sometimes we even celebrated holidays with each other since our native families lived far away. It was a truly amazing neighborhood with fine folks.

I wonder if people are neighborly like that any longer. Now it seems everyone just goes about their own way, not even acknowledging their neighbors let alone helping them. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about that and if you have or are a good neighbor, please let me know and restore my faith in neighborly kindness.

God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” ~ Martin Luther

What prompted me to write about good neighbors is an incident that happened just last week. Papa and I live in a rural area on a two-acre plot of land. When we moved into our newly built home 22 years ago, no friendly neighbors greeted us. Life here proved different than it was when we lived in villages, towns, suburbs, or on a military post.

We do have neighbors in the vicinity, but we not only don’t know them (or even their names) but some of them we’ve never actually seen. They come and go in their vehicles and mind their own business, not being neighborly at all.

It’s not that they are bad neighbors, they just aren’t friendly either. When I once attempted a nice favor for one of them, I was rebuffed at the front door. Still others, we’ve waved to and have been ignored.

Except for one. Not too long after we moved into our home, a single man moved into the house closest to ours. Oh boy, we imagined that there might be a lot of noise, people coming and going, parties, etc. Not so.

Our neighbor Joe (not his real name) has been a quiet and good neighbor. He became a single dad, raising his young teen daughter, and he never caused any kind of disturbance or issue. Instead, he always chats with Papa when they are both outside mowing or working in the yard. He watches our home when we’re away and we watch his for the same reason.

Joe’s been helpful on more than one occasion, loaning us his rototiller for our garden or helping Papa repair something awry, lugging a huge Barbie house and assorted accoutrements that his daughter outgrew over to give to our granddaughter.  

He has been and continues to be a good neighbor. Just last week, he really fit the bill. Papa was down and out for several weeks with a respiratory illness, not feeling well enough to attach the snowplow to our trusty John Deere lawn and garden tractor.

And then it snowed and snowed and snowed, finally stopping after around eight inches of accumulation.

Papa bundled up and shoveled our sidewalk and then, since he couldn’t plow the driveway out, he pulled out the snow blower, which doesn’t really work that well in deep snow and on a long, gravel driveway.

Suddenly, there came Joe on his four-wheeler with a plow attached to the front of it. He cleared out our entire driveway and turn-around area. Neighbor helping neighbor. Lending a hand. Being there just when he’s needed.

We couldn’t thank him enough for his kindness and thoughtfulness. His response? “No problem!”

Joe is the kind of neighbor we’re grateful to have. And we try our best to reciprocate neighborly friendliness and helpfulness to him. In order to show our appreciation for him, he’ll be getting extra goodies from our garden this coming summer for sure.

Good neighbors. They are a blessing. And we all can be that blessing to others. I only hope that I have been just as good of a neighbor to all the people I’ve written about here as they were to me.

“Good exercise for the heart: reach out and help your neighbor.” ~ Mark Twain


Posted in Home, Life, technology

Words for Wednesday: book life

At the risk of sounding like a luddite, some thoughts about the differences between digital books on e-readers and a real, honest-to-goodness paperback or hardback book printed on paper pages have been rolling around in my mind lately.

Why? Because of the photo above. In a concerted and time-consuming effort, Mama has been clearing out this ol’ empty nest. We’ve lived in our country home for 21 years now and the accumulation of stuff tells me so.

So short of selling the house and moving (which always helped de-cluttering in the past but is precisely what Mama and Papa don’t want to do), I set my sights on eliminating the ever-growing assortment lurking in closets, drawers, and especially our very large unfinished basement.

What a job it was! Middle daughter contributed quite an assortment of no longer wanted items herself, so we decided to hold a garage sale or a tag sale as some folks call such an event. Sorting, marking items with prices, and setting up tables to display it all seemed like a herculean task, but I remained undaunted. We advertised our sale – where else but Facebook?

After two days of selling (and praying people would show up to peruse our stuff and take it home with them), we did manage to unload sell a good bit of our former belongings, including some bigger items. But WAY too much remained, and we hauled two very full SUV-loads to our nearest thrift shop to donate.

After all was said and done though, an observation I made saddened me. Papa and I are readers, and we own shelves and shelves of books. We decided it was time to reduce those collections, so many boxes filled with paperbacks, hardbacks, and even children’s chapter books all priced inexpensively and ready for new homes were added to the sale.

To my dismay, hardly anyone even looked at the books. Out of the scads of people who rummaged through our offerings, practically every one of them walked right by the books without a glance. I think we sold a grand total of two hardback books to an older woman and a handful of children’s paperbacks to one lady who mentioned she was trying to entice her son to read more.

What? No one wants “real” books anymore? I get it. You can download books digitally on your kindles or e-readers. But still….for me, reading  electronically isn’t as relaxing as cozying up on my couch with a nice cup of hot tea and a book in my hand. And finishing that book gives me a kind of satisfying fulfillment concluding a digital copy just doesn’t provide.

And I don’t know about you, but when I’m at the beach, I’d much rather read from a printed paperback then haul my kindle down onto the sand.

When I get distracted by the soothing sounds of ocean waves or that seagull who keeps trying to get close enough to see if I’ll throw it some crumbs or I simply get drowsy, I can put a physical bookmark in my book and set it aside.

I don’t have to readjust my focus on reading to realize my e-reader resorted to sleep mode while I was inactive, or squint in the bright sunlight to try to read it, or shut it down because it needs recharged, or locate a safe, non-sandy spot to store it.   

I assume I’m not the only person who prefers printed books to electronic ones, but I searched the all-knowing internet just to make sure I wasn’t the only off-the-wall hermit of a real book lover still in existence. (Don’t get your shorts in a knot, I know there are still some of you out there in cyber-land.)

And here’s one of the sites – 5o Reasons Real Books Are Vastly Superior to eBooks –  I found that caused me to nod my head often as I read it even though the guy who wrote the article called it satire.

I also found a non-satirical site comparing the two that spouted good common sense about why physical books are better than eBooks. It stated that reading on a screen is more tiring for your eyes than reading printed matter. And interestingly, studies have shown that students comprehend less when reading electronically than with traditional printed books.

You know what? I have found that to be true myself. I will buzz through an eBook quickly and then not even really remember much about the storyline but with a printed hard copy, I remember it well.

Sometimes I look at the library of eBooks I have and don’t even remember reading the ones that my kindle app marks as read. Plus, to be honest, some eBooks just really aren’t as well-written as traditionally published ones.

When it comes to books, I’d rather hold a printed one in my hands, go to the library to borrow as many as I want, and enjoy reading that way.

So what to do with all of the boxes of books still sitting in our garage? I could establish a free little lending library like one of my blogging friends has done. I love noticing those and have often photographed some on our excursions.

Somewhere on Cape Cod
At a children’s playground

“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never-failing spring in the desert.” ~ Andrew Carnegie

But a few things might hamper that idea – we live in a very rural area and honestly, I sincerely doubt if anyone would even utilize one here. I’m not sure placing it in any nearby towns would work well either because lately I’ve noticed a lot of vandalism. Plus that wouldn’t be purging all of those boxes of many books at one time.

Thus, I may contact a used bookstore in the city and see if they would be willing to take some of them and, more than likely, I’ll donate the books to some community libraries in our area and thrift shops.

I just hope my assumption that folks don’t read printed books, or any kind of books for that matter, is wrong because I recall a quote once made by the writer, Ray Bradbury: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

Anyone interested in a couple boxes of real books? Or do any of you readers out there have another suggestion for me? There’s still lots of good reading in those books.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ George R.R. Martin

© 2021

Posted in Home, Life

Words for Wednesday: Slow and steady

I imagine that most of my readers know the old tale of the tortoise and the hare.

The racing rabbit always moved at top speed and was so confident that he would win a race with the slow-moving, creeping-along pace of the tortoise hands down. Harry the hare was so darn sure he’d win he not only boasted about it, but he also stopped and took a nap along the way. But Terry the tortoise, plodding along but not ceasing, ultimately became the winner.

Moral of the story: slow and steady wins the race.

That old Aesop’s fable, especially the moral, came to my mind as I sat down this week to compose a new blog post and I remembered the photo above stored in my picture cache. On morning walks with my friend, we often see rabbits and once we met a turtle on the sidewalk. He ever so slowly moseyed along and of course, we passed him with flying colors, but not before I snapped a photo of him with my cell phone.  (I’m glad he didn’t ‘snap’ back.)

And that reminded me that all too many times I’m like the hare – racing hither and yon to accomplish a task. However, unlike the hare in Aesop’s tale, I often don’t take time to just sit and rest. My motto has always been once you start a job, finish it first, then you can stop and relax. I’m one of those impatient types of people who want the job done NOW.

“Your speed doesn’t matter. Forward is forward.” ~ unknown

But in the last few months, a household chore – no, call it a gargantuan task – had me racing as if I were a contestant in an old television game show from the 1950’s and early 60’s called “Beat the Clock.”  Anyone besides me remember that one?

What prodded me into warp speed? Papa and I have called our country house home for 21 years now – the longest amount of time we have ever lived in one place.  Being stationary in one spot, we’ve accumulated a lot of “stuff.” When we moved more often in the first 20-some years of marriage, we always purged. But now, our basement seriously looked like a hoarder’s treasure trove.

And I was determined to clear it out. With the onset of our oldest daughter and son-in-love moving into a house, where they now have plenty of storage, we hauled a load of her belongings to them. That made a bit of a dent.

Middle daughter has also stored way too many possessions in our basement, and she and I began sorting through it all, packing up items in plastic storage tubs for future use, and eliminating others. That made another dent.

But how to get rid of a boatload of perfectly good stuff that might bring a little extra cash for her and us as well? Why, hold a garage sale of course. You know, there’s a very good reason why I haven’t succumbed to this kind of expunging for 20 years – it’s a lot of WORK!

For months now, I have been culling through the basement stash, separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Setting aside the usable items that could most likely be sold and determining the rest which, frankly, just needed to be deep sixed in the trash or recycling bins.

As usual, I tried to work at Harry the hare’s pace, sorting, categorizing, pricing items, and packing them into boxes so that all that was required during the couple of days before the sale would be to unpack and set it all up.

Whew! It proved to be a huge task and I still had other household responsibilities to handle as well, not to mention conjuring up creative ideas for blog posts, advertising the sale on social media, scrounging up tables, making direction signs, etc.

Something had to give which is why I took a longer than a week-long break from blogging.

In the end, I found that working like Terry the turtle was far more productive for me. And as we hauled all the garage sale boxes to our actual garage and outside onto the driveway for the sale last weekend, lo and behold, our basement walls became visible!

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ~Confucius

We did manage to eliminate much of it and make some garage sale goers happy with their finds. But there’s still quite a few items left over. Now it’s time to sort through it once more, pack it up, and find a donation center that will accept it. Unfortunately, right now, some of our thrift shop/non-profits are not accepting donations of this kind.

I’m determined, however, that the stuff doesn’t claim our basement as its home once more, so I’m reminding myself again…slow and steady wins the race.

Can I interest anyone in a few boxes of garage sale leftovers? I just may have something you might need because one man’s trash is another’s treasure, you know.

“Some quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress.” ~ unknown

© 2021

Posted in Christmas Eve, empty nest, Home

In Your Silent Night

Christmas Eve. Silent Night.

The words to the age-old Christmas carol come so easily to mind.

Silent night, holy night. All is calm. All is bright.

It IS a silent night here in Mama’s Empty Nest. Only Papa and I are here.

No grandchildren under the age of 5 run to and fro, happily shouting and playing and not wanting to settle down to sleep because of the excitement of Santa Claus’ arrival.

None of our offspring here playing games, raiding the fridge and snacks in the pantry.

Oldest daughter and son-in-love are in their home down south heeding travel restrictions.

Nurse middle daughter works her shift at her busy hospital. Oldest grandchild is spending the holiday with her father’s family.

Son and daughter-in-love with our two other grandchildren are nestled down in their own home many miles from us in the state next door.

All is calm in Mama’s Empty Nest. All is bright as Christmas lights shine brilliantly outside our country home and our Christmas tree dazzles in the darkened living room.

It’s just another silent night. Or is it? Not for us. It’s a night to remember and reflect on another silent night over 2000 years ago. A night when a Savior was born into this world.

If your night seems too silent this Christmas Eve, watch and listen to this video. May you find joy somewhere in your silent night.

“I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent., For this is still the time God chooses.” ~ Taylor Caldwell

© 2020

Posted in Home, Life

Words for Wednesday: finding my thrill

I can usually count on two distinct aspects that normally occur every summer: 1. I fall into a summer slump and 2. Our blueberry bushes provide us with a good crop of berries.

So summer isn’t my favorite season AT ALL. I can hear many of you out there exclaiming, “What???” while shaking your heads.

In your book, summer equals relaxation, warm weather (no snow or ice), beach trips, fun in the sun, swimming and lounging in the pool, picnics, suntans, and the list goes on. I get it. You enjoy all of those activities.

Well, guess what? So do I (with the exception of suntans – this extremely fair skin I inherited from my English ancestors does not tan), but I simply cannot stand the heat and humidity of summer. I wilt like a wet dish rag.

When the weather dials it up several notches to hot, sticky, humid temperatures, I can be found inside in air conditioning. And I don’t want to be inside.

I want to be outdoors in fresh air without sweat dripping off of me, running into my eyes, and burning them. I want to enjoy time outside in sunshine without it sucking the life out of me, draining any ounce of motivation I may have drummed up. (And this, my friends, is why I love fall and spring 100% more than summer.)

What results is what I call the summer slump. I get cranky, lethargic, and totally unmotivated. Heck, I can’t even get inspired to create a lot of blog posts (indoors, of course) when summer rolls around and pushes temps into the upper digits of the thermometer.

I found this definition of “summer slump” on  A period during summer in which a person performs inefficiently due to the excessive amount of free time on their hands. The symptoms often include:

  • remaining around the house for the majority of the day,
  • sleeping in excessive amounts,
  • persistent viewing of television,
  • prolonged exposure to video games,
  • neglecting personal hygiene,
  • consuming large quantities of food (in most cases, junk food),
  • loss of desire to leave their residence,
  • and abstaining contact from the outside world other than Facebook or the occasional trip to 7-11.

The definition continued listing causes as “lack of school or a job, absence of friends, insufficient funds, and/or lack of transportation,” and also listed effects as “moodiness, weight gain, shortness of breath, insomnia, increase of nerdiness, shrinkage of intimacy, and/or depression.

After reading this definition, I realize that perhaps I’m using the term summer slump incorrectly. First of all, I’m retired so I don’t lack a school, job, etc. Instead, I’m glad I don’t have a job right now!

Secondly, I’m not experiencing any of the effects (gee, am I more nerdy??). And lastly but foremost, the only symptoms I truly have is the first one – remaining around the house for the majority of the day.

I don’t sleep a lot, I watch TV rarely, don’t play video games. Don’t worry though because I do shower, so neglecting personal hygiene is not an issue.

I haven’t been eating a lot because it’s too darn hot to cook let alone eat. And I do have a desire to leave my home but between hot weather and this pandemic…well, there you have it.

I’m not sequestering myself away from communicating with the outside world, and Facebook – well, don’t get me started on that subject, so let’s just say I’ve been staying off social media to prevent adding extreme anger to my slumpiness (which I’m sure is not a word!).

I don’t make occasional trips to a 7-11 convenience store because we don’t have one (but there are Sheetz and Get-Go shops within driving distance) and I don’t visit those type of places regularly anyway.

Consequently, I guess I don’t have a classic case of summer slump per this definition, just my particular type – one of my own making I suppose. My summer slump consists of being lazy, unenthusiastic, and just plain uninterested because of the heat, which is totally out of my control.

And that explains aspect number 1. Now on to the second item on my summer happenings list. Blueberries.

A bumper crop of those delicious berries keeps me a tad busy. With multiple pickings, my kitchen counter has been filled with those sweet blue yummy fruit. And now, our freezer has quart-size ziplock bags full of them.

Blueberries force me to get out of my summer slump and do something – wash and dry them after picking, prepare some for eating (on breakfast cereal almost every day) and the rest for freezing.

I blanch them first then cool, dry, and place the berries in a single layer on a tray in the freezer so they freeze individually. Next, the frozen berries go into ziplock bags and I pop them back in the deep freeze. This way they don’t all lump together and you can take as many or as little berries out of the bag at a time as you want.

Prepping the berries is a plus because I’m sticking my head inside the freezer several times a day. And at least I can stay cool that way.

Summer? It doesn’t thrill me. But I’m grateful for the summer blues – blueberries, I mean. I guess you could say I’m like Fats Domino.

“I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill.” ~ Fats Domino


Posted in Home, Life, travel

Breaking out

I love my home, I truly do, but I’ve found the need to break out of it.

Our current house is the one abode I’ve actually lived in the longest time of my life. My family lived in two different houses when I was growing up, but the longest period of time I lived in one of those was from age seven to the time I went to college.

Papa and I have lived in several houses in different locations over our 40+ years of marriage but this structure situated on our country acreage is the place we now call home. And I’m most grateful for it. I’m content living here. This place gives me peace.

But…even I, a person who loves her home and doesn’t mind being at home, have grown weary of just that – being home.

Being socially and physically isolated and having to follow sheltering in place edicts that have been forced upon us by government officials determining it was to flatten the curve of the covid-19 pandemic, to protect us from widespread outbreaks, to eliminate overwhelming hospitals, etc. has been difficult to say the least.

We are a mobile society. We are accustomed to going where we please, when we want, and for how long we want. That’s one of our freedoms that perhaps we take for granted and have been duly reminded of during this time.

However, I’m not writing this to discuss the pros and cons of everything that has transpired in the last few months. You have your opinion and I have mine and let’s leave it at that. The real reason I’m expressing this is because basically, I’ve become antsy from staying at home for so much of the time.

Oh, I get out a bit. Of course, since we live in the country, I can go outside of my house for as long as I want and weather permits without meeting another soul. Also a friend and I go walking for exercise and sanity a few times a week in an area where we encounter only a couple people here and there.

Papa and I have ventured out for take-out food occasionally. And since our state governor finally opened up our county (even though we had very few covid cases, we were locked down until he moved us to a “green phase,”) we’ve stopped grocery store deliveries to our front porch and one of us, all masked up like a burglar, treks to the market.

We’ve also taken little jaunts in the car just around our neck of the woods along country roads, just driving for the sake of it and getting out of the house. All we encountered on those outings were other cars, some wildlife here and there, and scenery but not any interaction with other human beings, be they friend, family, or stranger.

We’ve Face-timed our grown kids, chatted on the phone, and I’ve led a Bible study via video conferencing for some ladies from my church, but both Papa and I have yearned to just get out and about, seeing different sights and people, taking a road trip, and simply traveling with a destination in mind, Those aspects are just some of the ways we’ve enjoyed retirement and now it’s something we truly miss doing.

So, covid-19 or no covid-19, we decided to change that, mostly because both Papa and I refuse to live our lives in fear. This week, I’m going to take you, my readers, along for a ride or two to spots we ventured to visit. No worries though, we practiced social distancing when it was necessary and yes, we cared enough about other folks that we wore a mask when we landed in public places.

We traveled to spend an entire weekend at our son and daughter-in-law’s home (several hours away and in the state next door). In fact, every member of our family, which included us, our grown kids and their spouses, and our three little grandchildren, gathered together for the weekend there, the first we’ve all been together since Christmas.

It proved to be a joyful reunion and watching our three little ones play together just made us so darn happy. What a world of good it did for us as we enjoyed fun and fellowship with our family, delicious food, and plenty of relaxation outside on son and daughter-in-law’s back yard patio.

It was just the prescription needed for Papa’s and my bit of melancholy over social isolating and to put aside any smidgen of fear that keeps permeating the news and air waves and threatening to engulf us.

Tomorrow, I’ll share our next little journey busting out of our sheltering in place “prison.”

“We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.” — Dr. Henry Link


Posted in gardening, Home, Life

Words for Wednesday: Pea Pickin’

It was pretty green around here the other day.

Little One (our oldest grandchild) and Papa went out to the garden and picked peas – two baskets full. Peas, peas, and more peas. Our two little rows of plants were loaded down with green pods chock full of those round little balls of deliciousness.

Little One helped me shell quite a few of those peas until she got a tad weary of it.

As we worked together, you might say we were like two peas in a pod. I split open the pods, handed them to Little One and she plucked out the peas and deposited them into a colander.

While the two of us sat at the kitchen table shelling those peas, childhood memories floated back to me, summertime sweet memories, as sweet as those peas.

I remember being a little girl just a couple of years older than my grandchild, sitting on the side porch with my own grandmother shelling peas from our family’s garden.

History seemed like it was repeating itself for me in a way as I shared my recollections with my five-year-old granddaughter right then and there.

And as I verbalized those memories, an old saying came back to me as well. Bless your little pea pickin’ heart.

I recalled that country singer/entertainer Tennessee Ernie Ford used that catch phrase a lot on television shows back when I was a child. And he also actually sang a song entitled, Bless Your Pea Pickin’ Heart.

You can listen to it here.

Who would think baskets full of fresh peas at pea pickin’ time would bring back so many  pea pickin’ memories?

“How luscious lies the pea within the pod.” ~ Emily Dickinson


Posted in Home, Life

Easy summertime livin’

Summer has arrived in our neck of the woods. The days grew longer but now once again shorten a little with each new day. The sun shines brightly. The flowers are blooming and the garden is growing.

But I confess I never welcome summer, although I do admit to some aspects of summer I can find myself liking.

Like more daylight in my hours making darkness descend later, that’s good. I also enjoy sitting on our front porch swing when weather permits and watching the fireflies light up our yard with their little blinking lights here and there.

And I do I relish sunshine, I really do, but not when the sun feels so intensely hot it scorches my fair skin (thanks to my English ancestors).

The blooming flowers are, of course, beautiful but they require watering to keep them that way, especially when rain showers don’t appear as often as they should. As does the garden if we want to see any produce from it.

The problem with summer, in my opinion, is it just gets too hot and humid (and we don’t even live in the south!). When temperatures soar and the thermometer steadily climbs up into the 90-some degrees Fahrenheit, usually the humidity increases as well.

And as each degree ascends higher and it gets downright sticky, I wilt like a soppy, old dish rag. My get-up-go disappears and I become lethargic, lazy, and cranky to boot. Even my motivation to write in this blog wilts and withers.

That old Gershwin tune, “Summertime and the livin‘ is easy” just doesn’t cut it with me. Summertime is usually hard for me to do my living the way I want. I’m more of a cool weather gal.

But summer has arrived. It IS July, after all, and we are in the throes of the season. But, at least for the last couple of weeks, this summer feels different.

Of course, there is the covid-19 thing still hanging over our heads and that definitely caused summer to be altered. The usual summer festivities like county fairs, farm shows, and festivals have all been cancelled. Large scale picnics, outings, and family reunions are all on hold.

But it’s more than just these restrictions that cause me to sit up and take notice to this summer. In the last week or so, 90° plus weather has arrived, but the humidity level has stayed fairly low.

Evenings cool down instead of feeling like I’m trapped in a sauna. Early mornings are pleasant and my friend and I can still enjoy our walks without sweating profusely.

We only recently turned our air conditioner on and that’s unusual. Up until now, we managed sleeping at night with windows wide open and cool air circulating with just the help of a ceiling fan and a box fan. And I’ve managed to keep the weeds at bay without sweltering while plucking them.

I just mentioned to Papa yesterday that even though it was 93° out, I wasn’t wilting and weary from the heat. My body seemed to adjust to the higher temperature more easily and I’m fairly certain it’s because of the lack of high humidity and I shared that revelation with my husband.

Papa mused, “Hmm…maybe you could learn to live in the south or somewhere like Arizona.” To which I replied with a tsk rolling off my tongue, a shake of my head, and a scoff. No way!

I’ll stay right here, right where I am, thank you very much, and I’ll just be grateful for a summer that perhaps I can endure.

A summer I might be able to enjoy. A summer that’s different. I just hope it lasts.

If you need me, you’ll find me on the front porch swing taking this summer easy.

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” ~ Sam Keen


Posted in Home, Life, photography

Words for Wednesday: break

We all had to take a break whether we wanted to or not – at home.

Because of the pandemic and the resulting edicts to “shelter in place,” all of us, in one way or another, were forced to take a break.

Oh, I know, those who were fortunate enough to retain their jobs because they were deemed essential workers still worked hard and we’re so thankful for them. And scads of others, who were able, worked from home.

But a vast majority of us took a break – albeit a longer one than we thought it would be – from the daily routine and normal life.

Since both Papa and I are basically retired, we didn’t have to worry about jobs. We were busy though caring for our oldest granddaughter during that time.

But for the most part, we seized the opportunity to step away from the normal busyness of life and enjoy our time at home. And we didn’t squander that time at all.

“The opportunity to step away from everything and take a break is something that shouldn’t be squandered.” ~Harper Reed

So what did we do? In between playing with our granddaughter, helping her with her preschool homework, and providing new things to discover and learn, we enjoyed some simple aspects of life. And I took quite a few photographs to prove it.

I’m sharing some of those photos from our “break” with you today. Despite the trying time that it’s been, we managed to find joy. And doesn’t that make every day worthwhile?

So how have you managed staying home during this time?

Enjoyed the blooming flowers
Spruced up the yard
But we still had time to just relax outside

“Find what brings you joy and go there.” ~Jan Phillips

©2020 mamasemptynest,