Friday, September 23, 2011


Lessons in Fire

Fire seems to be a theme for this past week.

First, there were the wildfires in Texas. The Magnolia fire to be exact.  It’s one thing to watch it on the news and pray for people in harm’s way. But it became more personal for us when Nana and Uncle Bob were evacuated.

The fire line came within 4 miles of his property. They were out of the house and in a hotel for about 3 days. It was quite an anxious and expensive time for them, especially with the 2 little dogs in a kennel.  I was able to follow the evacuation updates online. It was neat to have the fire line and Uncle Bob’s spread on the map in front of me at work so I could pray that it would not go further. All is well that ends well. Nana and Uncle Bob are back home with their little doggies.

That was last week. Sunday, hubby was at the school and my son and I were hanging out at home. I had a pork butt on the smoker and was planting some onion sets out back when I heard the fire trucks. Now, that in itself is not unusual since we live 5 blocks from the fire station. But the sirens stopped and the sound of the truck engines kept coming closer.

Then I heard it stop out front. I was so sure someone had seen the smoke from my cooking and called the fire department.  I wish now that had been the case. I bolted through the house and out the front door.  The truth was, my neighbor’s house was on fire.

At first it didn’t seem so bad. My neighbor was in the front yard on the cell phone I think. The firefighters arrived and started to lay out the equipment. My son came outside and we watched the firemen flush the hydrant and hook up the hose. Everyone seemed so calm and professional. We could see some smoke coming from the back of her house. It looked like maybe her grill had got away from her.

That reminded me of my own cooking project. I decided I better get back out to check on it. I had thoughts of people thinking there was another fire, so I checked it often. I kept going back and forth, planting a few onions, checking on my son and peeking at the action out in front of my house. They had blocked off the street, so I called hubby to warn him to come home the other way.

Then we started hearing a lot of noise. People were yelling, windows were popping and firefighters were running. I found out later that they were inside fighting the fire in the wall when it began to burn through the ceiling. They had to get out quick and fight it from the outside. Remember the personal alarms the firemen wear? I learned about then after September 11th. They go off if a firefighter falls so the other members of the team can find him in the smoke. I actually heard them go off a couple times.

In minutes they lost a home that was completely paid for and the family cat. Several of us came out to see if we could help, but the Red Cross was there to help, so there was nothing to do but pray.

 That evening, we enjoyed our dinner, although I think it was too well done. My son had asked questions throughout, but did not come out of the house again that evening. At first I thought it did not affect him at all. The next morning however, he had a complete meltdown because he could not find his wallet. I thought we would never get to school. After the tantrum, he calmed down and had a great day at school.

 I thank God for blessing my family and keeping them safe. Thank you for sparing my in-laws’ property from the fire and the food that fire helped to provide.  I am praying hard for the family a few doors away who lost their home to fire.  Help them to begin again and let that fire bring them closer to You.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Garden Stroll
All that rain has finally passed. Now I need to water again, since it is no longer being done for me J
But that does allow me to walk the garden each day. It helps me to stay on top of things like weeds and pests. And to enjoy my little successes .  As much as I would prefer to water from my rain barrel, one is not enough to keep up with a garden this size. Plus, it is too time consuming to water the entire back yard by hand. I attached a hose to the rain barrel so that I can water the plants closest to the house. But the pressure is really low. I found a big watering can at a yard sale for $1, that really helps
My lettuce is just getting started, but it is tall enough for me to go out and snip a few leaves to add to my salad for lunch. It seems to grow well in containers on my patio table, so now I am trying butter crunch in a hanging planter. I haven’t sampled it yet, but I have tried the romaine, oak leaf and red leaf, Yum!
Throughout my garden, I have planted marigolds for color and some natural pest control. I bought a flat of the most beautiful plants with multicolored blooms. I am also intrigued by the possibility of its use in herbal remedies.
Some of my plants amaze me they are doing so well. Others seem to be healthy, but don’t seem to be growing much or developing fruit. My banana trees look great but seem to have stopped growing. My tomatoes haven’t grown or changed since I put them in the ground (not even my volunteers). I had one surprise potato plant that came up on its own. I thought I had lost the entire crop last year, but apparently one survived. Guess I didn't till that bed well. 
My watermelons are a different story. If you think God doesn’t have a sense of humor, try to grow watermelon. Vines everywhere! Growing 8 – 10 feet from where they were planted, pretty little yellow flowers all over them and only one promising melon to show for it. I took this shot yesterday, it was the size of a small grapefruit. They have escaped their beds and grown across paths, through the banana trees, over the logs and up the chain linked fence. The one that has the melon on it grew through the enclosure that holds our pool pump and sprinkler system controls and sprouted a melon right under the electrical outlet. Now we have to be carefull when we plug in our pool pump. I tried so hard to plant things where they would not be in my husbands way of working, but the vine had other ideas J  
So now here I sit with a new bag of seed starting soil and 5 packets of seeds. Oh yeah, and Lowes has peach and apple trees on sale for $19.95!  Do I not know when to quit?! It’s hard to find the time to keep up with it all as it is. But I justify it by planning to go to my first plant swap downtown in a few weeks. But mostly, I imagine myself going out each day and picking fresh food for my son’s breakfast and lunch. Fresh food that I know did not have pesticides and chemicals sprayed on them. I don’t have to wonder how fresh it is or how far it traveled.  And I can be so proud of this partnership I have with the Lord.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children”       Ephesians 5:1 NIV

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gardening at Night

Gardening at Night

It’s been a really hot summer! Plus working full time and caring for a home and family doesn’t leave a lot of time for gardening. But the recent rains have helped keep things that I have planted going and also keep my rain barrel full. It’s nice to have water available without turning on the faucet

So, sometimes after dinner I douse myself with mosquito repellent and head outside, even after dark. Cooking dinner can sometimes be a depressing time. I get so frustrated with the cost, quality or both of the food available to us. So when I finish, I am inspired to work on my little farm with the hopes of growing food for my family.

Tonight it was my little corn seedlings.  I started nine of them on wet paper towels in a sandwich bag. These are heirlooms. I did not know there were heirlooms other than tomatoes.  This variety is fifty years old. Out of the seven seeds I started, seven of them had a sprout and long root after only a few days in the bag. I recently started tacking my seed bags up on the bulletin board while I wait for them to sprout. It works great!

After dishes were done tonight, I took my baggie off the board and headed outside. Having floodlights out back really help. I planted all nine seeds into soil in four inch pots. The two that did not sprout were swollen and I am pretty sure will sprout over the next day or two.

But I am getting so far behind! Those little corn plants are going to need a bed soon. I had a great weekend of trading with a new friend here locally and my daughter two counties north. Plus, I found some great buys on veggies at the home improvement store. From my friend, I got oyster plants, sage cuttings and a muscadine grape. From my daughter canna lilies, crinum lilies and a morning glory, plus more seeds than I can count. From the store I bought cauliflower, lettuce, green beans, cucumbers and latana and salvia for my butterfly garden. I really need to make beds for all those plants.  Makes me tired to think about it all. And I still haven’t started the coop!

But then I think of my family and what I want for our future. I imagine my grandsons visiting and exploring my garden with my son leading them. It’s my own bit of paradise. A dream of a new Eden. My little part of the earth God entrusts to my care. I can do this. A few minutes a day if need be. I’ve planted so much already, but it is growing. With every seed that sprouts, I am hopeful of a bountiful harvest.

And a new world for my children.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Recipe #1

Chocolate Banana Milkshake

The guys needed an icee today.

Sounds simple, but it is not. Since my son can't have food coloring, the only flavor that is safe for him is Cola. The convenience store 4 blocks away used to have them. Dad and son would take the occasional walk and come by with the coveted frozen drinks. Good times.....

Then the machine was replaced with a national brand name that ALWAYS has food coloring. They were so sad! But being a good dad, my hubby set out to find one that still served the cola flavor.  And they are out there, but you never know which one will be working, and have cola flavor as a choice.

It starts with the convenience store down the street. If they don’t have it, next stop is the gas station about 5 miles away. Then another 5 miles south to the lobby of a favorite department store. Usually, one of these will have it. Sometimes they don’t.

Fortune smiled on them today and after 30 minutes in the car, the convenience store had them. But unfortunately, we had checked the farther locations first. But it was sweet to see them coming out of the door, triumphantly carrying their favorite treats.

I must admit, I was annoyed with the whole trip. What had started out as a quick run to the pool supply store had turned into the familiar quest. So when we got home, I was in the mood for a frozen treat myself. One of my favorite coffee shops makes a chocolate banana smoothie. This tastes really close and sure improved my mood J

1 ripe, sweet banana

1 ½ scoops of good chocolate ice cream (or frozen yogurt)

½ cup of cold milk

Blend until smooth. Poor into a tall glass and top with whipped cream. Enjoy!

SO Much better than frozen sugar water!

“This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”       Isaiah 48:17 NIV