Sunday, July 31, 2016

Packin' Up the Memories

my "new" china

While visiting and caring for The Cook on Fifth Street earlier this month, I packed up her Bavarian china that she had told me a few months ago I could have; and we brought it home with us in our car.

the name of the china pattern is "Charming Barbara" (!!!)

Aside from the fact that it is a beautiful set, I always wondered and hoped that someday it would be mine for a pretty obvious reason...

close-up of the tan rose pattern on a white-white background
As I packed it up, I thought about the people I know who have dined on this china: my father, my mother, my sister, a couple of teen boyfriends who were invited to dinner (including my husband!), my maternal grandparents, my paternal grandmother and my aunt, and numerous friends of the family, including pastors and their wives. 

Entertaining now is generally much more casual than it used to be, but I still take a lot of pleasure in setting out the fancy stuff for key holidays in November, December, and Easter, plus the occasional tea-lunch with girlfriends for birthdays and such.

It was interesting that the time would come for me to bring this china home, and that I had to pack it myself. Just a few weeks before that, one of my friends asked if I and a couple of other friends would pack up the contents of her china cabinet as she prepared for an out-of-state relocation to another house. She already knew that I had moved many times, so there was the assumption that I was a pro at packing breakables.  

Truth be told, all of the moves of my adult life (9, if I remember correctly) were packed up and paid for by my husband's employer. So although I had done a lot of observing over the years and had unpacked every one of them myself, I had done very little of the actual packing.

But happily, one of the other gals she invited to help is employed at a place that packs up antiques all the time, so she gave us some pointers before we began. I am waiting to learn if what I packed for my friend made it to the destination safely (i.e. no breakage). In the meantime, this opportunity came for me to pack up china for myself!

I already knew that one should not be sparing with the packing paper. This china from my mother was moved many times and one move in particular, from southern California to British Columbia, was disastrous. All the pieces survived the experience just fine with the exception of the dinner plates. The jerk person who packed them left them all in a stack and wrapped paper around the entire stack, with nothing between each plate.  The result was fodder for the trash. All 12 dinner plates were destroyed.

But what I did not know until my antique-packing friend taught us was that after wrapping each plate individually with paper, they should be placed in the packing box vertically, which tends to cushion them better.

pack the plates vertically inside the box

That is what I did with my friend's fine Noritake china, and then with the Charming Barbara pieces as well. When I unpacked my dishes this past week, they were in perfect condition. It was a delight to see them in my own home and then neatly stored away in a cupboard.

china in the pie safe

I thought I would pass on a few more helpful details in case any of my readers are thinking of making a move and having to do the dish-packing yourself. 

To pack up this set of china, which has place settings for twelve , I went to the U-Haul company and bought 5 boxes. I wanted what I think of in moving company lingo as "book cartons," because they are big enough to pack a large platter but not so big that I can't lift the packed box by myself. A "dish pack" was going to be too large for me to lift by myself, and also might not fit well into the back of our smallish SUV, along with our luggage.

16 3/8" x 12 5/8" x 12 5/8" box

Note: it is all too easy to pack boxes too heavy. Avoid that when you can.

As it turned out, I only needed three and a half of the five boxes for the dishes. Each of these boxes cost me 99 cents at U-Haul.

wrapping paper 

I also bought packing/wrapping paper, which came in a box of 200 sheets. That cost me $9.99 and unless I move my entire household again, my children will inherit a lot of paper! 

My total purchase at U-Haul included a black marking pen, a box cutter, and packing tape.

For me, the memories have been successfully packed and unpacked. There is no sense in packing carelessly only to end up with breakage later. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Delights in the Garden

a purple lily

Today I am taking you to the garden spots in my yard. We chose this house while it was under construction over three years ago, so after the builder's obligatory landscaping package was done, the rest of the flora and fauna was up to us.

orange lilies beside the sun dial
(which is not laid out to give the correct time)

While we are by no means 'master gardeners,' we can generally produce pretty nice plants, and especially if the soil is wonderful. However, the Rocky Mountains are within throwing distance, therefore, we have a lot of rock and clay in our soil. One of our neighbors suggested we should give up trying to grow anything and use the clay soil to create pots! We amend the soil and that helps quite a bit.

one of our Shasta Daisies during a 'dead heading' exercise

On our recent road trip to the Midwest, I sighed many a time at the sight of the profuse flowers growing not only in manicured yards, but also right up next to the roadside.  The orange "ditch lilies," blue Chicory, and white Queen Ann's Lace were the most profuse. 

Junior cut our grass for us

We were gone for eleven days, so I wondered what state of beauty we would find our flowers upon our return. Junior drove down from his house up north to cut our grass; and we relied on our automatic sprinklers and drip line systems to keep things watered. 

Yes, a sprinkler system is a necessity in our dry, semi-arid climate -- or plenty of time on your hands to keep moving the hose and sprinkler yourself.

the kale after harvest (top) and
sprouted watermelon (bottom)

Thankfully, we found things to be in pretty good shape. Beloved harvested my first attempt at Kale and we had it in a green smoothie the very next morning.

The Echinacea pleasantly surprised us with her first blooms of the season...


...and oh joy!!! My pumpkins have a couple of yellow blooms! I don't like to pay for pumpkins during the fall for decorating, so this year I'm growing my own!

dill seeds, green onions, and mint (hid under the dill)

During our absence, the Dill took off and went to seed, but we're going to eat them anyway and more of the delicate fronds will grow back.

I tried a fun experiment several weeks ago. While slicing some store-bought green onions for our salad, I was getting ready to toss the root ends into the garbage when the thought struck me to stick them into a flower pot off the front porch, just to see what would happen.

More green onions -- that's what I got! They were standing straight and quite tall as we pulled into our driveway from our trip. I snipped them about an inch from the soil and will be adding them to our salads -- with hopes of a continuing crop until the weather turns too cold. How neat is that?!!

Flax seed pods
Our blue Flax is done for now, with only a blossom or two left. But the plant is covered with these seed pods, which re-seed and make the plant bigger every year.  Denise loves my blue Flax, commenting on it every time she parks her car in our driveway. 

I gathered a handful of the pods to give to her, but noticed most of them are empty of the tiny black seeds. If you look very closely,  you can see some of the black seeds in the above photograph. 

I intend to instruct her to gently crush the pods, thereby releasing the seeds and then scatter them on top of the soil where she wants them to grow, maybe lightly pressing them into the dirt and watering lightly. 

Barb tends the Begonias and Green Onions

There are more victories in our gardening, but as you can see by the clouds in the last photo, a gusty storm was blowing in, so I couldn't take any more pictures.  

I close with a familiar excerpt from a poem by Dorothy Frances Gurney:

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Praise Willow

photo credit

Lucky you. I was going to write something political (I did, in fact) but after mulling it over for a day, I decided that whatever I have to say isn't original, you've probably already heard it from somebody else and frankly, aren't we all just worn out from it all? So I deleted it. 

Instead I'll show you a fun thing we've done in the last twenty-four hours.

Our back yard - note the wheelbarrow Beloved has allowed me to use
as a flower planter. It's Marigolds this year. Last summer it was Petunias.

Meet our new Weeping Willow tree (slightly off center in the photo). We bought her yesterday and Beloved planted her late this afternoon in the 92-degree heat -- we just wanted to get the task done! I have nicknamed her "Cry Baby." (weeping, cry -- you get it, don't you?) 

I wanted the kind of Willow tree where the branches reach up, heavenward. We had one of those in our last house and when the wind would kick up, the branches would move and sway and it reminded me of the song that says "the trees of the field will clap their hands" taken from Isaiah 55:12

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountain and the hills will 
burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Oh, what a beautiful sight that was until one night when we had a late spring snow storm (not unusual here along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains). Heavy snow and strong winds fell our wonderful tree during the darkness of night. 

We were completely unaware of the tragedy in our back yard as we slept snug in our quilt-covered bed. But the next morning when Beloved looked outside, he could hardly believe his eyes. The beautiful Willow with a good, strong trunk, had snapped in two, a fatal blow, to be sure. 

Heartbroken, we called a man to come clean up the mess and we thwarted all attempts of the roots to grow us another tree. 

Well, that was several years ago and we have since then moved to another town and have been busy planting new trees.  We have a low spot in a back corner of our yard that always has water just underneath the landscape rocks. It's the perfect place for a water-slurping Willow. 

We tried to find another "praise Willow" but couldn't. So we got Cry Baby and she will be fine.  She will still blow in the wind so gracefully, but her branches will bend downward instead of up.

So, that's my story. Nothing political, just sort of nostalgic with a bit of whimsey.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hodgepodge Wednesday

one of our travel stops this summer

Today I’m answering Joyce’s questions from her blog, From This Side of the Pond.

1. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your summer so far? Why?
(1=eh and 10=best summer ever)

I'll give it a 7. Thus far it’s been a good summer with a surprising amount of road travel. Health problems have popped up, but God is in control and I trust Him for that.

2. July 26th is National Aunts and Uncles Day. Did you have many aunts and uncles growing up? I have one aunt who is only 3 years older than me. As a matter of fact, I was born on her third birthday!

Were you especially close to any one or maybe all of them? Not really. My aunt and I did not live near enough to each other to develop a real closeness. 

Are you an aunt? (or uncle for the men who join here on Wednesdays) Yes, I am an aunt to triplet nieces, a nephew, and three more nieces via marriage. 

Share a favorite memory relating to one of your own aunts or uncles or relating to a niece or nephew who call you Aunt (or Uncle). I was recently told by my sister that one of my great-nieces labeled me as her favorite aunt! 

3. What's your favorite food dipped in chocolate? Strawberries dipped in chocolate are my favorite. 

What's your favorite food dipped in cheese? I don’t eat dairy any more due to lactose intolerance, but back in the day, I enjoyed cheese fondue.

4. When were you last astonished by something? Explain.

Nearly everyday (unfortunately) I am astonished by the things we read and see in the news. 

But on a lighter note, two years ago this month my daughter astonished us with the news that she was pregnant — a surprise to her and her husband as well. It was a very happy surprise. Our granddaughter is a little dolly after my own heart because she loves to accessorize!

Granddaughter #5; Grandchild #10
That's my grand puppy in the lower left of the picture,
sniffing all the shoes!

5. Surf board, paddle board, ironing board, Pinterest board, score board, clip board, bulletin board...which board have you most recently encountered?

The ironing board would be my answer. I ironed Beloved’s shirt before church this past Sunday.

6. What's your favorite story from scripture. Why that story?

The story of Joseph in the Old Testament (the book of Genesis, chapters 37 - 50). A reading of his life with its many setbacks is a great study of character development and how God matures His people.

7. If you were to travel from the east coast to the west coast in your own country, which five cities would you most want to see? 

1.  New York City 
2. Martha’s Vineyard 
3. Boston 
4. Atlanta 
5. San Diego 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

The political climate is so ugly right now. I am drawn even more to a close relationship with the Lord, just to keep my wits about me!

I’m linking up with other bloggers today at

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pondering on the Interstate

red work embroidery in the car last week

Regarding my snowman sewing, have you looked at the calendar?! Can you believe it? We've got 5 months until the dawn of Christmas Day! The year is half gone! Time really flies.

* * *

So we're bopping along the Interstate with cornfields on one side of the road and soybeans on the other -- and I only know the latter is soybeans because my brother-in-law told me so. I nicknamed him here on my blog as "Former Farmer" (because he is), and therefore he knows such things.

Anyway, we are on our road trip and I'm blessed to be able to read and do needlework from the passenger seat. Years ago such activities made me car sick, but sometime after I stopped giving birth to children, my body leveled out and I can do fun things to pass the time as we travel.

It is Beloved's daily habit when we are at home to listen to podcasts by radio preacher Chuck Swindoll, so when we are on the road, he listens to them and I get to be a part of that. I love it. Every woman should have a husband who listens to God through good men and thereby strengthens her faith.

I was stitching away and listening to the podcasts. Chuck always throws out these pithy sayings that I want to remember. I put down my needle long enough to type out notes to myself on my cell phone. Here are just a few of his quotes I ponder:

- The mature see benefit in hardship, not just the pain

- Know that as adults we will sometimes fall into adolescence. Know that this happens.

- A ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.

- Unlearn manipulating people.

- Don't pick locks

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Answers to Prayer

"Ditch Lily" in my back yard,
so named because these perennials bloom
everywhere in the midwest, even in ditches.

After my recent blog posts with distressing topics, I thought I should let you know things are not all bad around here. 

Today turned out to be very good, with a significant decrease in my pain. I give my thanks to those of you who whispered a prayer on my behalf. The Lord heard you!

I am reminded that the tough stuff of life does not last forever. It eventually ends or the Lord takes us Home and then the troubles are never again an issue.

On the subject of waiting, I'm posting this picture of the orange day lily in my yard that finally bloomed. It was waiting for me when we got home from the land of Corn and Soybeans last week.  

I'm glad it was waiting on me because I've been waiting on it to bloom for 2 years!! I've heard that when flower bulbs are transplanted they don't always bloom the first year.  Well, this pretty thing really kept me waiting, so it was a delightful surprise to see the blooms the other night. I ran outside and snapped this picture before even unpacking my suitcase!

Recent hardships and waiting remind me that God is in control, even when it appears He has forgotten us. Just wait. He's up to something and if we belong to Him, it's going to be good!

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:14

Saturday, July 23, 2016

To Do List

Whoa! What a week this has been. 

A few days ago I posted photos from the Staff Meeting (see my previous blog post) where Rent-a-Nurse and Mrs Berniece Mertz gave a report to us on their trip to aid The Cook on Fifth Street as she recovers from her serious hand laceration. 

What you could not tell from that post was that I was in ever-deepening pain myself as I staged the photo with that post. I tend to ignore symptoms, seeking to push through the pain, or play hurt -- whatever you want to call it.  But after the post was written, I had to face reality that something was wrong in the upper spine/neck/shoulders of my body. 

After enduring a day of pain that would not get any better, I surrendered and had Beloved take me to our chiropractor where we learned I had dislocated a couple of ribs at the base of my neck (yes, there are ribs up that high), and possibly had a pinched nerve or something. (probably from carrying luggage)

Some dramatic-sounding pops came out of his manipulations and although there was no immediate relief, the road to recovery was begun.  If you've ever had rib problems then you know how incredibly painful it is. I have developed a narcotic-like dependency on my ice pack and laying prone (on my back, that is) with few exceptions to use the bathroom and eat a meal. Medication has not made much of a difference, but it is supposed to aid the problem with inflammation, so that has been used, as well.

I cannot sit up long enough to work on my computer, so my link to the outside world has been via my iPhone (and I'm so grateful for that), but I don't compose blog posts on anything other than my laptop.

Today I am a little better so I have a couple of goals in mind.  First, I need to break up that Staff Meeting that is still assembled in the dining room bay window.  Everybody needs to be put back in my study where they normally live.

the Staff Meeting in the dining room

If you look closely, you can see some U-Haul boxes stacked against the wall on the left. The Cook on Fifth Street gave me some wonderful treasures during our recent visit, but I am in no shape to unpack them right now. I intend to write a nice post about those things sometime in the future.

Second, I simply must wade through the pile of paper on my desk (NOT pictured!!!). But we shall see about that. It's waited this can wait longer. It could be possible that the longer I wait, the more those papers will be irrelevant and I can just throw them away!

Pain is gripping me now, so I know it's time to close and go lay down again. Kudos to Beloved, who retired only 3 weeks ago yesterday and has already spent much of that time ministering to the injured and incapacitated in our family. I thank God for him!!

Beloved cooks dinner

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Staff Meeting


Good evening. This is Eaves Dropping, Home and Garden Editor of the Whistlestop Weekly, reporting to you from Grammys Place Bed and Breakfast. A staff meeting was called late this afternoon so that Rent-a-Nurse and Mrs Berniece Mertz, who have recently returned from an emergency trip to Corn and Soybean Fields, could give us an update on the condition of The Cook on Fifth Street.

You may remember the news posted July 11th when it was reported The Cook on Fifth Street had been seriously injured in a most unfortunate entanglement with a lawn chair on the 4th of July, resulting in a speedy trip to the Emergency Room and a laceration requiring multiple rolls of gauze.  While some assumed the accident was due to fireworks, the truth of the matter is that the lawn chair was the culprit and the fireworks show had not yet even begun.

Everyone at Grammys Place Bed and Breakfast was terribly alarmed to hear what had happened to The Cook on Fifth Street, and even more so when Sister said she would cancel her long-awaited romantic trip with Former Farmer to a glamorous resort many miles away for several days.


Grammy Bear dispatched Whislestop's Rent-a-Nurse and our own Bed and Breakfast Chef, Mrs Berniece Mertz to the bedside of The Cook on Fifth Street to give her necessary aid so Sister and Former Farmer could travel together.


So many others wanted to go as well, including Mandy Sue, who had dressed herself in the most cheerful apron she owns. Her cupcakes are remarkably tasty.

Lily, too, felt she should be sent because she owns a sharp-looking pair of scrubs, leftover from years ago when she helped Grandad Bear with his physical therapy.


Spud, our B and B Handyman thought maybe he could mow the grass and change out burnt light bulbs (although secretly he especially hoped he could operate Sister's new ride-a-round lawn mower and tinker about in Former Farmer's garage work bench).

Today's staff meeting
But alas for all but two of them, everybody had to stay behind. There simply was not room in the car for everybody! 

Rent-a-Nurse at the podium

Rent-a-Nurse, who can be quite strict when the well-being of her patients are concerned, made it clear that this was not to be a pleasure trip. The Cook on Fifth Street needed genuine assistance and no funny business could be permitted. 

Mrs Berniece Mertz

She did make the notable exception of saying she would need the services of Mrs Berniece Mertz to provide protein-rich as well as tantalizing delicious meals for The Cook on Fifth Street. After all, since the patient was known for her own memorable recipes, the very best must be provided for her during this time of recuperation.

wound care with a silver pad

With all that said, our ambassadors of help returned late yesterday and gathered us today for their report. All is going very well for The Cook on Fifth Street. She has six stitches to hold the laceration together and is receiving excellent help from the wound care doctors and nurses. The terrible swelling and purple skin are a thing of the past and the prognosis is very good. As with such things, it will just take time for a full recovery.

Our patient wishes to extend her gratitude for all the words of concern and prayers said on her behalf. 


This is Eaves Dropping, concluding my report from Grammys Place Bed and Breakfast.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Meditation for Hard Times

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found,
call ye upon him while he is near:

Let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts:
and let him return unto the Lord, 
and he will have mercy upon him;
and to our God,
for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:6-9

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hodgepodge July 13

a beautiful place
1. Do you find yourself influencing your world, or is it more the other way around? 

We all influence somebody, if not many. Bloggers should know that and take it into serious consideration as we compose our words. 

I am greatly disappointed in those of our political people who are announcing they absolutely will not vote in the upcoming Presidential elections. Do they not realize the influence they have over so many and the outcome of their refusal to vote at all?!!!!!

2. July 14th is National Tape Measure Day...the device was patented on this date in 1868. When did you last use a tape measure? Do you always know where to find one in your house? Tell us one way in which you feel blessed 'beyond measure'. 

Since I am a quilter, I have all kinds of measuring devices in my sewing room. Beloved has installed a hook just inside the closet door of that room for hanging no less than 3 tape measures….gotta have them in a handy location.

3.The Plaza Hotel (Eloise), The Land of Oz (The Wizard of Oz), Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia), The Hundred Acre Wood (Winnie the Pooh), Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), or Never Never Land (Peter Pan)...which storybook land (on this list!) would you most like to visit and why? 

First I need to say that within my heart of hearts, I believe The Land of Oz is actually Colorado, since my home state is immediately west of Dorothy’s Kansas, and I imagine the tornado displaced her into my lovely green state.

But as for where I’d like to visit, I choose Narnia because I want to meet Aslan.  I want to throw my arms around his furry neck and bury my face into his golden mane.  (One day, I will.)

4. Where and when do you get your best ideas? 

When I look at my circumstances from the perspective of “my staff,” (see Monday’s post) the creative juices begin to flow in my mind and come out through my fingers and onto the keyboard (typing, not music).

5.  So what have you been watching on TV this summer? Anything good? 

The news. No, not much good there! 

6. 'Don't swim for an hour after you eat', 'Dog days of summer', 'Knee high by the Fourth of July'...choose a summer saying from the list or share one of your own, then tell us what image or memory comes to mind when you hear it spoken.

“The dog days of summer.” Late July and all of August fit into that category for me and they are probably my least-favored months of the entire year.

7. In a single sentence, sum up one life lesson you've learned. 

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” While there are times when hard things need to be said, we don’t have to be ugly about it.  Also, the tone of voice and facial expression make a HUGE difference.

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

Although I am replying to this week’s Hodgepodge questions (provided by Joyce, thanks so much),  I am supervising Rent-a-Nurse and Mrs Berniece Mertz right now, so I have no time to reply to the comments that come with linking up.  Therefore, I cannot respond or reciprocate. 

Thank you, however, to my regular and/or subscribed readers for stopping by!

To see how other bloggers have responded to these questions, click here:

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Flying Purple People Eater

My readers will please excuse me while I take some time off from blogging. On the evening of the 4th of July, The Cook on Fifth Street sustained a serious injury while preparing to watch the fireworks show in her area. No, she did not get burned but she and her lawn chair had a most unfortunate encounter that left the chair undamaged but she had to make a quick exit to the hospital emergency room. 

Rent-a-Nurse and Mrs Berniece Mertz express their shock and sympathies
upon greeting The Cook on Fifth Street

After she got back home, I wondered what I could do to be of help. It was decided that Rent-a-Nurse and Mrs Berniece Mertz, long-time members of my personal staff, would be sent to assist The Cook on Fifth Street with medical monitoring and meals. 

When I received this photo of her injured hand, I began to worry if I should have also sent some sort of a guard for personal protection. Parts of her anatomy have turned the most amazing shades of deep purple -- in stark contrast to her usual lily white skin color. 

You see, when I was very young, she taught me about the 

Now I fear for her safety because she is, well, PURPLE!!!

Click here for more information (the song) about the One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Purple People Eater:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Reviewing the 4th

As we approached the 4th of July holiday, we had not made any special plans to see the fireworks because we aren't fans of the traffic and crowds that go with big events.

But that all changed when we found this post card in our mailbox. 

Based on the information given, it looked like we would be able to sit comfortably on our front porch to see our town's fireworks show! 

We were thrilled and could hardly wait for Monday to come. That day it was hard to wait for sundown. To pass the time, we drove up north to a lake and had a little picnic under tall shade trees. We walked through the historic downtown, enjoying window displays of the shops that were closed for the holiday. Wonderful sculptures were all over -- this one of three Basset Hounds was our favorite.

Back at home that evening, Beloved grilled hamburgers for us on the deck while I made a potato recipe and a salad.

We set out our chairs on the front porch, hoping the view of the fireworks would be every bit as wonderful as advertised.

It was amazing! My phone camera didn't do the show justice. It was bigger than this! The program lasted a solid fifteen minutes and it was spectacular. We marveled that we didn't have to leave our front porch to see such a great show of fireworks!