Wordless Wednesday: Summer’s day

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©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Fowl play

blogIMG_1407Why did the chicken cross the road?

It didn’t.

When you live in a rural area, you’re always on the alert when you’re driving on back country roads.  All sorts of critters can suddenly appear on the pavement ahead of you and you never know what you might see scurrying off.  Often it’s deer.  Or sometimes, it may even be a bear.

But usually you encounter smaller creatures – groundhogs, raccoons, possums, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, maybe even a wild turkey or pheasant.  On one of the side roads near our house, chickens roam free and I often must apply my brakes to avoid hitting one as it darts across the road.

Early one morning I was on my way home from having some lab tests done at our local hospital.  Since it was my day off work and pleasant cool weather, I decided to take the ‘scenic route’ and travel some back roads home instead of jumping on the four-lane highway.

Sack of potatoes

Sack of potatoes

As I meandered along, I spotted some of the usual wild creatures sprinting across my path.  But in all my years of driving country roads, I’ve never encountered what I’m going to tell you next.

What appeared to be someone’s dinner plans were sprawled out on the pavement.  At first glance, I thought it was just litter but as I neared the scene, I honestly exclaimed, “What the heck?” out loud.

What surprised me so?  It appeared to be a  chicken.  A plucked, cleaned chicken without head or feet laid smack dab in the middle of the road.  And further along rested its dinner companion – a plastic bag of potatoes.

Obviously, I’ve seen a ton of road kill in my lifetime but this one beats all.  I maneuvered my car around that naked for all the world to see fowl laying so unceremoniously there, pulled over and grabbed my camera to shoot a few pictures.  Because this was one for the books.  This was one unbelievable tale.  Who would believe me if I didn’t have photos to back up my claim?

Fowl play?

Fowl play?

Then I realized it wasn’t a chicken, but a small turkey.  Not a wild turkey, but the plump kind you buy at the supermarket.

And it had met with fowl foul play because it was missing a leg!  Yep, a drumstick had been ripped or chewed right off, probably by a wandering dog or maybe even a coyote.

So how did the turkey get there?  I don’t know if someone, on his way home from the grocery store,  got angry and decided to chuck the whole idea of making dinner by throwing fowl and potatoes out the car window…or maybe it fell off the back of a pickup truck although there were no grocery store bags lying around….or ???   I’m out of scenarios.  This one has me stumped.

But all that thinking about fowls did make me a little hungry for a trip to Chik-Fil-A.  Oh wait, I live in the country.  There aren’t any here.  Just store-bought turkeys….lying on the road….with potatoes.  And that’s no joke.  Ah, life in farmland.

And with that thought, I’ll leave you with a chicken joke.  Why did the chicken cross the road?  To prove to the possum it could actually be done.  (You can groan out loud and cry foul now!)

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Picture perfect mornings make me sing!

blogDSCN7828You awaken to sunshine streaming in your window accompanied by wafts of fresh, clean air gently blowing through the screen.

You realize it was so cool during the night, you pulled the quilt up over yourself and you’re snuggling inside it because it feels a little chilly.

No harsh buzzing of the alarm clock rings in your ears because it’s your day off work, but you do catch the lilting melody of song birds coming from outside.

You leave your place of slumber and glance out the open window to see the most glorious baby blue sky decorated with bits of cottony fluff here and there.  A dazzling sun gleams from the east causing the yard to look resplendent in verdant trees and grass.

The temperature hovers around the upper 60’s with an expected high in the mid 70’s. Throwing open the patio door and kitchen windows invites a cooling breeze into the house refreshing enough to compel you to linger at the kitchen table with your soothing hot cup of tea.  You observe a tiny sparrow hopping along the deck railing and notice butterflies chasing each other, flitting hither and yon.

There’s a faint rustle of leaves as the cooling wind blows through the trees.  You hear cicadas chirping, morning song birds, and occasionally a car driving by.  But that is all.  It’s peaceful and serene.  It’s beautiful and picturesque.  It’s life here at Mama’s Empty Nest.

And that’s my idea of a picture perfect morning.

That’s what it’s been like here the last few days and I can’t express how much I enjoy mornings like these.  Quote anthologist Terri Guillemets wrote this:  “I used to love night best but the older I get the more treasures and hope and joy I find in mornings.”   I couldn’t agree with her more, especially on mornings like these.

Yesterday all day I found myself singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical Oklahoma.  I’ve actually lived in that state and while I’m sure native Okies believe their mornings are the most spectacular, I beg to differ.   Rising to incredibly hot temperatures isn’t my idea of a beautiful morning, and that’s what I remember most about summertime there.  I’d much rather sing about mornings right here in my home state.

Treated to a repeat performance of my picture perfect morning today, my mind’s card catalog of songs brought up “It’s a Beautiful Morning” by The Rascals.

“It’s a beautiful mornin’ ahhh

I think I’ll go outside a while an jus’ smile

Just take in some clean fresh air boy

Ain’t no sense in stayin’ inside

If the weather’s fine an’ you got the time

It’s your chance to wake up and plan another brand new day

Either way

It’s a beautiful mornin’ ahhh”

Morning songs just keep playing in my head on this magnificent Page 11, Chapter 8, in my book of Opportunity.  Cat Stevens’  “Morning Has Broken”  comes to mind.  As soon as I run through that song, a Herman’s Hermits tune, “I’m Into Something Good,” follows with “Woke up this morning, feelin’ fine, there’s something special on my mind.”

When I dig a little deeper in my song file, I find myself singing “Good Mornin” from that marvelous old movie, Singing in the Rain.   That tune reminds me of crooning my version to our awakening children when they were young:  “Good mornin’, Good mornin’, You slept the whole night through, Good mornin’, Good mornin’ to you!”

And lastly, I find myself humming an old English folk song called “Early One Morning.”  I don’t recall when I first heard that song because it seems like it’s always been in my memory. “Early one morning, just as the sun was rising, I heard a young maid singing in the valley below.  Oh, don’t deceive me, Oh never leave me. How could you use a poor maiden so?”

What about you?  What morning song are you singing on this fine day?

© 2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Who really has the power? Linemen that’s who.

blogDSCN7812The scorching summer sun, suspended low in the western sky, slowly disappeared out of sight. 

Darkness enveloped the house.   Twinkling fireflies flickering here and there were the only light visible.  

The steady creaking of the porch swing swaying slowly back and forth seemed to be the only sound, except perhaps for the buzzing of insects.

Using as little effort as possible to move in the sweltering heat, they fanned themselves and tried to catch a wisp of any breeze that happened to float by.   “Ahh,” she sighed wistfully as she sipped a glass of already tepid water.   “I think it’s a little cooler now.”

When they couldn’t bear swatting at pesky insects any longer and darkness had completed descended upon them, they moved inside the unlit, still, and noiseless house.    He found the box of wooden matches and carefully lit the kerosene lamp in the kitchen.   An aura of light radiated in a very small circle around the lamp.

They positioned themselves, he on the easy chair and ottoman, she on the couch.  In the dim light, they could barely see one another.   They sat in silence, each one thinking, “What should we do now?”

Minutes passed slowly and he finally stood up, stretched and said, “I think I’ll just go on up to bed.  Maybe get up early in the morning when it’s light and try to get a few things done.”

She agreed there was nothing else they could accomplish and followed him up the stairs.  The bedroom windows were flung as far open as possible in hopes of allowing wafts of air, now not as heavy-laden with humidity as before the violent storm, to circulate through the screens.

She tossed and turned through the night, trying to find a cooler, comfortable spot on her pillow.  What would tomorrow bring?  What would they do if morning signaled another searing day of this heat wave?  As she tried to nod off to sleep, she whispered her prayers and thanked the Lord for yet another day and that she lived in this century.

That scene may sound like a vignette from yesteryear, back in my grandmother’s day before electricity and modern appliances, but in reality, it described our house last Friday night.  A violent thunderstorm blew into our area, bringing gusty winds, rumbling waves of thunder, and wickedly long, jagged bolts of lightning along with torrents of rain that resulted in flash flooding.  Trees downed across power lines, transformers on fire, and a host of other problems across our area were the end result.  We lost power around 5 p.m.

Let me just state right here, for all to read, I am a wimp.  I am way too dependent on my household appliances and electricity at the flip of a switch.  When the weather turns monstrously hot and humid, I rely on air conditioning, big box fans, and my refrigerator’s ice maker to keep me sane.

Neither hubby nor I slept well without power, not just because we had no air conditioning, but because we kept waking up asking each other, “Is the power back on?”

blogDSCN7817And it wasn’t.  The next morning, still no electric.  No electric meant no cooking (and no pickle making either, by the way).  Using the side burner of our propane gas grill on our back yard deck, we heated a kettle for a cup of tea.  Then we decided to acclimate ourselves to the heat by working in the garden.

I know.  What an idea!  As the temperatures soared and the humidity closed in on us, we sweat buckets while we hoed and pulled weeds and did some general clean-up in the garden and yard.

I didn’t last as long as hubby did.  He’s obviously made of more sturdy stuff than his wife.  Why I’m so wimpy is a puzzle because my family background consists of people who most definitely were made of strong stock.  All I know is that I probably wouldn’t have survived being a pioneer woman.

So after my eyes burned from sweat rolling into them and my lips were the saltiest I have ever tasted, all I wanted was shade and a huge glass of water, with a scanty smidge of ice cubes still left in the freezer, which I grabbed out as quickly as I could so I could slam shut the door and keep the coldness inside the appliance.

Later that afternoon still with no electricity, we listened to generators hum through the neighborhood and chain saws cutting up fallen trees.   We decided the outage was lasting so long, we needed to act fast to prevent losing our refrigerator and freezer food.  Hubby drove off in search of any nearby store that still had bags of ice.   When he returned, we loaded up our coolers to commence packing them with food.

And that’s when we heard it.  The distinct hum of the refrigerator sounded after almost 24 hours of silence.  The air conditioning unit sprang to life once more.  Our electric clocks flashed at us screaming, “Set me!”  All was right with the world once more….except for this…I made a resolution, and it’s not even January, to start being more grateful and less helpless.

It’s Chapter 7, Page 25, another day in my life named Opportunity, and as I’m refreshed by central air and ice cubes, I’m so very thankful for electricity and modern appliances.

But I’m even more thankful for all of those power company workers who toil many, long hours in blistering heat and freezing cold to restore our power just so I can flip a switch.  Thank you God, for those who make my life easier because those who do so surely are not wimps.

©2011mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Why Mama’s been mum

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Mum’s the word.

Well, not only has mum been the word lately at Mama’s Empty Nest, but Mum has been fairly mum herself as well.

Definition of mum:  (adj) silent, not saying a word.   The origin of the word possibly came from “mmm,” the humming sound we humans make with our mouths closed, which indicates either unwillingness or an inability to speak.

Shakespeare used the word in Henry VI when he wrote:   “Seal up your lips and give no words but mum.”

In other words, keep quiet, say nothing, shut your trap.  The saying “mum’s the word” worked its way into our language as a means to advise another person to not reveal what he knows about something, to keep a secret, or stay quiet on the subject.

If you regularly follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been awfully mum in the last week or so.  Throwing in some synonyms for the word  – mute, speechless, uncommunicative, wordless – adequately describes me right now.  And I know it!

I can’t admit that I’ve been quiet because I know something I shouldn’t reveal because that’s not it.  I don’t know a secret about anything!  So I honestly have no clue why I’ve been so uncommunicative (which is very unlike me anyway).

Should I blame my wordless state on busy-ness?  No,  I cannot.  No more busy days than usual.  Oh, there has been a little wedding planning, some strawberry picking and freezer jam making sessions, a bit of cleaning and household chores here and there in between my hours at my job, but nothing that demands my full attention.

Even my computer sits idle.  I check my email occasionally and then shut off the distraction.   Logging in to Facebook has become a rarity because I see those words asking me to declare what’s on my mind, and I’ve got…nothing, no status updates, nothing interesting to say.

If I do fire up my laptop, I sit and stare at the blank screen and I am…. speechless.  Wordless.  I feel like I have nothing to impart, even though my notebook of blog ideas paints  an entirely different picture.  I just don’t feel like saying it or writing it or even thinking about the ideas long enough to put a sentence together.

It’s like I have a disorder – a non-communication complaint, summer speechlessness, or author’s apathy.  I can’t decide whether it’s just writer’s block or summer’s siren song of idleness.

In my younger days, I could be quite the talker, making chit-chat and small talk to fill any awkward silences.  But as I’ve aged, I’ve become more of a listener than a talker.  And honestly, sometimes I really have nothing to say.  Absolutely nothing.

This speechless state has woven its way, spreading like runners of ivy, into my writing.  I don’t want to bore my readers with just any old words.  I won’t publish a blog merely for the sake of publishing every day….or two…or 12.  If I have something worth writing, it also needs to be something worth reading.  And alas, I feel no compulsion to write.   And so I’ve been mum.

I hope I haven’t been disappointing, but I fear I may have been just that for those of you who log into this blog each day expecting some new post from me.   Bear with me, my faithful readers, I’ll get my words back.

For now, on this 21st page in Chapter 6 of Opportunity, my deck and the coolness of the evening after a warm summer day are calling out enticing me. 

My softly cushioned patio chair whispers, “Come hither.  Come rest and bask in the quietness of a country evening.  Inhale the scent of freshly mowed grass and savory strawberries, plucked from the garden.  Listen to the birds warbling their sing-song melodies.  Feel the gentle breeze as it ruffles your hair.  Gaze westward and witness another spectacular sunset.   Evenings like this won’t last for long.  Maybe tomorrow you will find your words.”

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

If summer were a picnic

blogDSCN7607The calendar still says May, but the temperature outside registers middle of summer heat.

Hot, humid weather is upon our country home and it’s not Mama’s favorite!  I so thoroughly agree with British novelist Jane Austen who wrote:  “What dreadful hot weather we have!  It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.”

Sprawled on my family room couch, determined not to turn on the air conditioning because “it’s too early,” dressed in old summer clothing in which I sure wouldn’t want to be seen in public, and gulping down glass after glass of ice water, I truly do feel quite ‘inelegant.’ 

I think most people yearn for summer and its heat, but I’m not one of them.  I’d rather enjoy a day like we had last Thursday.

Middle daughter and fiancé drove up to Mama’s empty nest for a couple of days’ visit before fiancé heads off to another state for graduate school.   We won’t get to see him much in the next year as he undergoes intense studies, so we wanted to make his visit enjoyable.

We spent one day wedding planning; I’m not sure that was very thrilling for him, but we wanted to get his opinions and input on a few points.  Since he and Papa endured the shopping excursion and all the ‘wedding talk,’ I thought we should plan an outdoor fun day next.

We awakened early, packed a hefty picnic lunch in the cooler, and set out – just the four of us – for one of our state parks located in a national forest.   The day was sunny, warm enough to be comfortable, yet with a nice cool breeze.  Perfect!

After a lovely drive, we showed fiancé where I spent many summer hours and weekends as a child and teenager – my parents’ camp.  Now owned and improved by a family friend, we drove by the camp and stopped for a little look-see.

blogDSCN7614From there, we traveled into the park.  We hiked the short trail to the ranger’s fire tower and stopped here and there for picture-taking as daughter was trying out her new SLR camera.

Later we drove along the river that meanders through the area.  Since it was the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, the park was rather empty and peaceful.  The picnic area along the river was all ours.  We had our choice of the best site.

What more could we ask for?  People we love, a peaceful, flowing river, sun streaming through the trees, and blissful quiet away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life – it was like a painting of serenity.   Two lone kayakers floated down the river and waved to us and they were the only other people we saw there while we partook our lunch.

If each day were a delightfully bearable summer day like that, I would relish the season more.   But I will be grateful for that one perfect day even now on this 31st page of Chapter 5 in my Opportunity book as I swelter and sweat.  I’ll just close my eyes and picture our picnic in the woods.

“Among the delights of Summer were picnics to the woods.” ~ Georg Brandes

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com