Trip Day 3…..

Mother Nature did indeed come through and it was if other things aligned as well. My friend wanted us to go to Silver Dollar City for their Pumpkin Harvest festival. The storms that came overnight cleared and it was cloudy, but pleasant as the sun then later came out. We found a good parking spot which in the massive number of people who can park was not inconsequential. In fact, attendance was lower than she expected and it was quite nice wandering with no big crowds. There are some rides in the Theme park (mostly rollercoasters neither of us care for) and they have different shows. Shops and crafts are more the thing and we wandered through many of them and yes, some purchases were made. A show we were particularly interested in was Circq Eloise, Lumberjacks. It is just as it sounds and works better than you might think. We – as in my family – had seen a Circq Eloise of a more traditional theme years ago. Not as famous as Cirq Solei, they are still quite talented and this troupe had three performers who did the make-you-catch-your-breath acrobatics and the others did impressive, but not as tricky movements.

I head to the airport in a few hours to begin the Louisiana segments of the trip and what in the Army we referred to as, “duffle bag drag”. In other words, five or six more “stops” in four different spots. Ah well, I do check off a lot of blocks. No new books to distribute, but I did get “Small Town Quilting Treasures” off to the editor before I left.

Trip Day 2….

Ah, Mother Nature will have her way. The expected thunderstorms and rain slowed down, so the indoor option for yesterday seems to have lost use of what turned out to be a nice day after all. However, having been properly primed for the movie “Downton Abby”, there was a stop for lunch at a Deli featuring Greek. I do send sympathies to my friend that would greatly love for us to have such a place in Homestead. The spicy gyro was excellent. The matinee on a Wednesday was obviously mostly attended by people our age and older. Since I have not followed the series, I think I would have enjoyed the movie anyway, yet would definitely have missed a number of important relationships and dimensions of characters. My friend, the avid fan, thoroughly enjoyed it and I heard only good comments from other people.

We drove back by a different route and down to the Table Rock Lake RV/picnic park closest to their home. It was quite nice and about ten minutes from their house. They have a spectacular view of the lake from their upper terrace although they can’t access it. The park – part of the Army Corps of Engineers work – has a fairly spacious area for boats and a ramp as well as a small beach and section of lake marked off by floats to allow swimming protected from boats.

As I always mention on this trip, fried catfish is something no one in our part of Florida does very well and therefore it is a goal each time I come this way. Aside from not having hushpuppies, a “dive bar” close to my friends does fry up good catfish and they serve it with curly fries and decent cold slaw. They do take-out and dinner last night was piping hot when we went and picked it up.

Trip Day 1……

And so I began my trip yesterday with no real chance to get on-line. I was up early as usual this morning, but having network issues which I think I have sort of resolved. It will be this way during my Missouri leg, but so it goes sometimes. Anyway, early flight out of Miami was uneventful and layover in Dallas was good. Flight into Springfield was bumpy for second part as weather had set in a day earlier than anticipated. My friend was somewhat distressed with the rain as there are some outdoor plans involved. However, we do have Plan B and the rain did stop as we had lunch at a local and excellent BBQ place. She lives about an hour from Springfield and at least there was only sporadic light rain on the drive back.

Catching up of course took us into dinner and since Plan B for today includes a matinee of the Downton Abby movie and I have never watched the show, she found a season by season synopsis for me, then we watched Episodes 1 and 2, Season 1 so I could have an idea of characters, setting, etc. I have a number of friends who are big fans and I must admit I can see why. I doubt I’ll go back and look for the show on DVD, but it’s not totally out of the question, either. Anyway, I expect my sleep patterns will be disrupted for a few days – as if I don’t have enough trouble with insomnia – yet, that is again normal for when I travel.

The leaves have not really begun to change here and the general consensus is they probably won’t have a good “leaf season”. It is always so dependent on rain and temperatures. They do still have a few hummingbirds lingering though and that’s nice.

A New Soup, Well, Stew….

Hmm, I’m not sure which category this dish belongs in. As I have mentioned before, I love soup, but those with substance are often quite high in carbs. I did the post about using silken tofu as a thickener and yesterday I found something new. Okay, not exactly found; it was more experimented with. The situation was I had some wonderfully rich broth left from last week when we did lamb in the slow cooker. As an aside, I don’t recall the exact cut. The lamb chops at the store weren’t impressive and Hubby picked up two packages of the other. They were sort of like shoulder cuts although thicker than you usually see with that. Anyway, a few hours in the slow cooker with onion, two cloves of garlic, oregano, wine, cracked black pepper and they were delicious – similar to osso bucco.

So, I have this sauce as a base and I’m thinking to chop some carrots, celery, sweet peppers and add those as well as lean ground beef to make a soup. Then I remember we have a package of the frozen “riced cauliflower”. If you haven’t noticed lately, there are all sorts of new veggie choices like “veggie tots”, “zucchini spaghetti”, etc., to try and get people to eat more vegetables and some of them are quite good. The “riced cauliflower” has a few other veggies in it and it does look like a rice dish. It’s especially good if you add Parmesan cheese. Now I’m all set to experiment. In view of the proportions I was working with, I divided the package of lean ground beef and put half in the freezer to give me about half a pound. I zap the cauliflower in the microwave for a few minutes. I brown the beef, add in the leftover lamb broth, the cauliflower, some spices, some wine, and a little extra beef broth. I cooked it for about thirty minutes and the consistency was thicker than for soup, although not as much as stew – thus my uncertainty as to what to call it. Nonetheless, it was appetizing and filling. I can see doing this with ground turkey as well and going with a range of spices such as give it a southwestern taste with cumin.

Things We Don’t Remember….

No, I’m not talking about the heartbreak of the various forms of dementia, especially as our older loved ones wither from the individuals we once knew. Nor am I referring to our joking about “Senior Moments” before it does become serious. Not long ago, I had a discussion with someone, fortunately on the telephone so my body language didn’t give me away. The individual was talking about his clear memory of not only the first time we met, but about a time a few years later as well. I have no reason to doubt him as the context all made sense and everything tracked with the sort of things I would have done and said. The are indeed other things I recall in the time we spent together – this is all on a professional basis – yet the times he vividly remembers are complete blanks for me.

Indeed, when I give my presentation on “Capturing Family Memories” to begin the process of writing a memoir, I make a point of this. Unless video and audio recordings are available, every experience is subject to personal memory and/or interpretation. This can be true whether an event occurred a short time prior or many years. In general, the longer after, the more disparate versions will be, although the significance of the experience generally does matter. In the case I am referring to, as I have mentioned in other posts, I was the “first female” in a number of positions during my Army career. Therefore, men who were not accustomed to having a woman in that position might well remember it as common with any “first”. I, however, having been through this on multiple occasions might not file the meeting away as anything particularly special. On a different note, remembering people’s names can be difficult for most people and I have almost reached the point where I’m not embarrassed to ask again when I draw a blank. I admit in a setting where business cards are likely to be available, I will sometimes smile and use the ploy of, “Do you have a card with you? I simply can’t seem to find where I put the last one.”


Sorry, Little Chrysalis…..

Ah, the pains of being novices. Okay, in the recent post about finally getting the backyard re-landscaped and focusing on plants to attract butterflies and birds, I did mention they planted some milkweed. Subsequently, all the milkweed leaves were eaten and there were more than a dozen caterpillars. Now come the probable error on our part. There were only two chrysalis when we went out a few days later; one on the almost stripped milkweed plant and one further over dangling off a sign. In looking about at all the nearby plants, we couldn’t find any of the caterpillars or other chrysalis. We don’t have a clue as to what happened to the caterpillars. I don’t know if birds can swoop in and eat them when they’re vulnerable or if maybe they crawled off into some other plants to where we couldn’t see them. Anyway, the one on the milkweed plant fell or was knocked off in the recent windy/rainy day which leaves our one lone chrysalis. I do hope it makes it. So, we’re up for suggestions from those who have been through this before.

I also haven’t seen any finches coming around to the one tree with berries they supposedly like. On the other hand, I don’t know that they aren’t. I do love those little critters and would like to have them as regular visitors. No hummingbirds yet either and again, we’re not during the migration time and all the indigenous ones may be perfectly happy where ever they are with no need to seek out new yards. With that said, the new plantings are all doing well and the lemon tree has grown some. We don’t expect fruit for maybe a year.  The beautiful one called a chocolate raspberry (a climber) has recovered nicely. Hubby had transplanted it when they were coming to replace the fence and the landscape crew transplanted it a second time. I know that can be tough on plants and we kept our fingers crossed. It is enjoyed by butterflies.

The Poor Bike…..

While I do know people in our age group who still run marathons and compete in the Senior Olympics, most of us don’t fall into that category. Part of the reason Medicare and other insurances have their “Silver Sneakers Program” and there are numerous exercise routines designed for we seniors, is to try and make it as easy as possible to maintain  exercise. I have a friend who is amazing with yoga. Having tried it only a few times, I can’t seem to get my head wrapped around the techniques. As I’ve mentioned in more than one post, I have struggled with my weight since my late teens. It’s both a metabolic and a lifestyle issue. All the women on my mother’s side of the family deal with the inclination to being overweight and the men don’t. There is probably some cosmic chuckle in there somewhere. Anyway, as much as I hate running, I was required to do so in the Army and it did keep my weight under control, albeit at the very edge of what was acceptable. It was truly my own fault I allowed it to “edge up”, then “shoot up” after retirement. My primary doctor has either never had a weight problem or had one and overcame it because she is this slender thing who constantly reminds me of how I can lose weight. Yes, thank you, I’m aware of all that.

Anyway, the fact is I enjoy eating and drinking and even though I have cut back on carbs, that isn’t enough to make more than incremental progress. I do faithfully exercise just to manage that much. I work out 5-6 days a week for 40 minutes. I used to walk and when I had a minor injury, the therapist suggested  a recumbent, stationary bicycle. I can’t use an ordinary bike because of my knees (a common aspect of a career in the Army). A recumbent gives the same aerobic workout with less downward pressure on the knees. And so, our poor bike has been “ridden” many miles between Hubby and I. The gears began slipping several weeks ago and it reached the point of a replacement being necessary. The new one is to be delivered today. I just hope it doesn’t have all kinds of electronic functions I have to learn.

Sometimes, It’s The Little Things….

When we remodeled the kitchen a few years ago and replaced most of the public spaces’ tile with engineered bamboo, I took advantage of all the mess and cleared out a number of things we no longer needed. I think I remarked at the time how our frequent moves during our military careers kept us from over-accumulating, but with finally being settled, the inclination to let something sit rather than re-purpose or dispose of did take hold. I think I also explained how we weren’t able to increase the square footage exactly, but did gain some needed cabinetry and a larger pantry through a couple of clever design changes. We have had an overhead pot rack for many years that has seen more than one house.  I had also wanted one of the pot stands, but when we did the kitchen, the other two items I wanted were a pie safe and a wine cabinet. Again, with only so much room, those two items won out.

Week before last, for some reason, I made a comment to my husband about wishing we’d been able to fit a pot stand in. I guess I hadn’t previously mentioned it because he pointed to a spot and said he was sure he could find one a little smaller than what I originally had in mind. It didn’t take him long and while it was smaller, it would work. For reasons that aren’t important, I only had two pieces left of the original Le Crueset set and they were stored in a drawer. He ordered the stand and it fit right in as if we’d planned it. I was going to head to the local Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but Hubby suggested we go up to The Falls, a nice shopping center we hadn’t been to in quite some time. They have a William Sonoma, Macy’s, and Bloomingdales. They also have a PF Chaing which made for a nice day. In wandering around William and Sonoma, I suddenly remembered we have two cobalt blue enamel colanders we keep in a cabinet with the strainers. So, two pieces of new cookware later, and a lovely lunch, plus a quick stop for a few things at Fresh Market and back home we came. My original pieces are the traditional “Flame” and I wanted to have a color mix. I am very happy with the end result. That’s a deep dish pie dish on the bottom. In all fairness, I’ll be making hubby an apple pie soon.

Hurricane Warnings….

With only two years passed since Hurricane Irma, the threat of Dorian is very much on people’s minds here, and even more so for the ones  who suffered through Hurricane Michael last year . At the moment, the northerly track places the storm further up in Florida. While that may be good news for this area, the strength of it is troubling for those who may be hit. In storm preparations exercises held in May by Florida Power and Light (FPL), the regional supplier for FL and up into GA, they are no doubt watching very closely. With a new governor in FL, he probably would just as soon not be tested in his very first year. I don’t mean that in a cavalier manner; this is serious business. I mean, no matter how prepared you think you are to respond  to a disaster, you don’t know how your teams will react until the time comes. On the other hand, if lessons were learned from last year, that will be helpful.

A very real point is the seeming lack of understanding of a lot of people about the first three days, sometimes referred to as, “72 on you”. That means having adequate supplies on hand to be able to sustain yourself/family and stay off the streets/roads for 72 hours. Relief measures cannot take place in the middle of a storm and accessibility of roads and streets immediately following is unpredictable. One of the reasons is hurricanes often spawn tornadoes and that is where significant tree damage can occur which in turn brings down power lines and blocks streets/roads. Keeping all vehicles except those actively involved in relief efforts out of the way is important. Heavy rainfall is the other aspect which can cause flooding and that can apply even if storm surge is not a factor. Rescue vehicles can be limited in their use if heavy flooding is an issue. Preparation and prayers are in order right now.

May Be Closing In….

Back in 2012 (might actually have been 2011) when I developed the plan for the “Small Town” quilting series, beginning with “Small Town Lies”, the idea was for four books. “Small Town Haven” came out the year after “Lies” and “Small Town Quilting Blues” was delayed due to a change from the original publisher. I also had other projects in between. I knew the central story and strong secondary story I wanted for “Small Town Quilting Treasures”. Once I finally began writing though, I realized neither plot point would require as much time to tell as I thought. With the cast of characters created for the fictional town of Wallington,Georgia, and Helen Crowder’s quilting circle, there are multiple avenues to pursue. I worked through some of them and had to stop for a while as I was still a little shy of where I needed to be length-wise. One of the “3:00 a.m. inspirations” allowed me to craft another chapter, then a thought about another dimension to explore set me along that path. I was at lunch with a friend earlier this week as I commented on needing just one more to fill a blank as I already had the final two chapters outlined. She kindly rattled off a couple of possibilities and I exclaimed, “Aha, that could work!”, for one of the ideas. The more I thought about it, the more it provided an intriguing follow-on to a situation encountered in “Small Town Quilting Blues”. I feel comfortable with where it is going and I won’t do a spoiler here about how it will unfold.

This will be the first series I have ended. As I’ve mentioned in other posts about appropriately ending television series, my plan is to resolve several relationships and hopefully leave fans with a sense of satisfaction in having come along for the journey. If all goes well, the book should be out for Thanksgiving.