Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Tub, Some Tea, and Two New Friends

My husband and I took off on a quest the other day. Down winding dust roads past cornfields and cows, we were searching for a bath tub. Because until we build on to our cabin, I need a bath! (I DO have a shower). And my sweet husband offered to get me one to put outside for bubble baths and evening soaks.

It didn't have to be new. In fact, we weren't looking for new. We wanted something pre-loved and cheap. Something most people would junk after a bathroom remodel or set on the side of the road with a "free" sign.

We got a lead on someone who had all kinds of "junk" for sale, so we pulled in through their private gate, past miniature ponies and rabbit cages and little goats. After my husband shook hands and introduced himself to Charlie, his wife Brenda came out and invited me to come into their house and sit a spell.

Their house was wonderfully rustic, the front porch adorned with old lanterns, saws, antlers and iron tools. I was immediately charmed.  And Brenda was probably one of the nicest women I have met in a long time.

" I love your style," I told her, admiring her collection of stone crocks. "What a cool house!"

" It's made of old storage trailers," she said. 

But you wouldn't know it by looking. It was just very rustic and open. The kitchen had an old wagon wheel hanging from the ceiling, adorned with cast iron skillets and pots. The island was an worn cabinet with an enamel top, the trash can was a 20 gallon crock with a home made pine lid, and the coat rack was a cedar limb shaved smooth by Brenda herself.

About that time my husband and Charlie came inside and iced tea was handed out with a smile. Brenda even cut into her cinnamon zucchini cake and my husband eagerly took advantage of a real cook. 

Fifteen dollars was exchanged for the old bathtub and the men loaded it into our pickup.

"Oh, yeah, we were also looking for an old electric radio. Something we can hook up to our motion detector to scare the deer from our garden," we told them.

Charlie reached up in the corner of the porch, grabbed an little radio, plugged it in, tuned it, and said here ya go. It was ours for $5.

While almost to our truck, Brenda asked me to come back inside, she had a dozen fresh eggs for me! And then she handed me two quart baggies of frozen okra, already cleaned and cut. "Enough for you and the mister," she said with a smile.

These people didn't know us. We just showed up and they treated us like longtime friends! That doesn't happen very often. It was an amazing and refreshing feeling. What a great quest it had been!

Can't wait to get my bath tub set up outside. It's so remote here that I won't need walls or curtains- just a towel and the energy to run indoors in case someone shows up unexpectedly.

Thank you, Charlie and Brenda! Hope we see you again soon!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

That Bites!

What's today's buzz? Well, it's officially Mosquito Day. A  twenty four hour tribute to those pesky insects that have done more to ruin a family picnic than dog poop on the Frisbee.

For a tiny bug that only weighs 2.5 milligrams, they can sure pack a punch. Not only do they leave behind an irritating itch and red bumps, they take with them five millionths of a liter of your blood with every bite.

But it's not really a bite. Mosquitoes don't have teeth. They pierce and suck.

Interestingly, only female mosquitoes "bite". They have a long proboscus which does the piercing and sucking, and it has 6 parts: 2 pairs of sharp, knife-like cutters to pierce the skin, and 2 tubes, one for sucking blood and the other for inserting a numbing agent into the skin of the victim.
Studies show that 20% of people are especially delicious to mosquitos.
I am one of them. 
In fact, I am tasty to just about every stinging, biting, sucking, crawling, flying, creeping bug in this universe. As soon as they spy me coming out of they house they have a party. On my skin. They get drunk off my blood.

If you are one of the unfortunate mosquito targets, there are a few things you can try to lower your chances of becoming a feast.

1. Don't drink. Mosquitoes are more attracted to those who drink beer or alcohol.

2. Wear light colored clothing. Mosquitos can see you better when you are wearing dark clothes.

3. Change your blood type. Studies show that Mosquitos land on those with Type O blood twice as much as those with Type A. Type B blood fell somewhere in the middle.

4. Wear clean clothing and take a shower. Mosquitoes are attracted to stinky feet, perspiration and skin bacteria.

5. Don't get pregnant. Pregnant women are twice as likely to be bitten.

6. Experiment with natural deterrents such as lemon oil, clove oil, and lavender.

Or you can always do as I do. Stay inside!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Casual Pie Day

When I heard that Monday is Casual Pie Day, I was really excited to celebrate. I mean, there is nothing better than a pie that takes such little cooking or preparation that its considered casual. Kinda like those yummy pudding pies that you just pour into a readymade graham cracker crust and then devour like you never heard the word diet.

Casual pies are the kind you can hold in one hand while flipping the TV remote, eat from a little cardboard tube while driving, and take to bed with you without worrying about making a mess on comforter.

Casual pies are those that take little thought to create, require practically no culinary skills and can be whipped up quicker than a bag of Cheetos disappears at a weight Watcher Convention.

I tell you now, that's my kind of pie. Creating it is not where I want to focus my time. The pure, perfect joy of a casual pie is eating it. Plain and simple.

Another true advantage of a casual pie is they tend to be inexpensive and adapt to households of poor and rich alike. It is not unusual to find casual pie on the menu along side Alma's Caviar or white truffles. Yet, it is also quite popular served after hot dogs or a fried bologna sandwich. Casual Pie is every man's dessert. And what else boasts such an honor?

I plan to mix up some casual pies myself and be lazy all day and eat them. No fork, spoon, or knife is required. Casual pie is a finger food in every sense of the word.

What? Oh...

Sorry, folks.
Just found out that it is not Casual Pie day.

It is Casual Pi Day.

 "Pi is the relationship of a circle's circumference to its diameter. No matter how large or small a circle is, the proportion of the distance around the circle to the distance across its widest part is EXACTLY the same!

That exact number starts off 3.14159265...and goes on for bajillions of non-repeating digits. Because pi starts with 3.14, we celebrate Pi Day on 3/14, or March 14th.

But today is not that date. Why are we celebrating Casual Pi Day ?

Well, the other name for the day gives us a hint—it's Pi Approximation Day.

It's hard to be exact about pi when the decimal digits go on forever (and don't even repeat). So we have to use approximate numbers when we actually use pi, and a really approximate way of expressing the approximation is the fraction 22/7. " 

Somehow Casual Pie day just seems so much better. Don't you agree?

Monday, July 15, 2013

If Zucchinis Were Zombies

If zucchinis were zombies, I'd be dead right now.

Yeah, you heard me. They are out there lurking in the garden. Tons of them. They think they can hide  beneath the cucumber vines or behind the pole beans, but I know they are there. And some of them are huge. They just keep coming and coming and I'm almost afraid to even go out into the garden again.

Oh, I've tried my best to dispose of them. Stabbed them in their crisp green necks and fried them up with bread crumbs. I've baked them into breads, stews, casseroles and pies.

But they never die. They keep re-animating..
They keep getting closer and closer to the house. They keep taunting me. I dream of them in my sleep, I worry about them during my day, and I secretly think of ways to destroy them.

I've got a bunch of them in my sink right now and I'm gonna shred them to pieces. I'm gonna make me some Piña Colada Zucchini Zombie Bread. That's the only way I know to kill them and not feel guilty. Got some ready for the freezer, too.

Darn zombie zukes!

Anyone wanna come help me in this fight? Bring your fork!

Piña Colada Zucchini Zombie Bread

(Adapted from a Taste of Home Recipe that made no mention of zombies whatsoever)

Prep: 25 min. Bake: 45 min. + cooling Yield: 36 Servings

4 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups canola oil
1 teaspoon each coconut, rum and vanilla extracts
3 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup canned DOLE® Crushed Pineapple in 100% Pineapple Juice, drained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or chopped pecans

Line the bottoms of three greased and floured 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans with waxed paper and grease the paper; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and extracts. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the zucchini, pineapple and walnuts.
Transfer to prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Gently remove waxed paper. Yield: 3 loaves (12 slices each).

Nutritional Facts ( but who really cares about this?)

1 slice equals 225 calories, 11 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 24 mg cholesterol, 165 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Deer Me!

When we first moved here, I was somewhat disappointed that wildlife didn't come leaping through our yard every morning. I liked the idea of sipping coffee on the porch while innocent, wide- eyed deer meandered across the freshly mowed grass, with their wobbly new fawns following closely behind. Yet, I was rarely greeted with any movement whatsoever except for an occasional wren or woodpecker that flitted among the oak trees.

That all changed once we got our garden planted. It was like a giant billboard announcing free vegetables and yummy green things. Soon I started spying a white tail bouncing off into the woods, determined tracks in the garden soil, and bold does skirting the yard waiting for a chance at the smorgasbord.

One evening they wiped out an entire row of okra.
And my husband loves his okra.
If it had been hunting season, his camo would have been on him faster than a cheeta on a baby hippo.
As a result, we would be having venison with our okra.

But, as things are, the only way to really save our garden is to keep the critters OUT. So, we went to the local hardware store and filled our cart with all the accessories for an electric fence. Before going to the checkout, we calculated the expense. There was $150 worth of deer deterrent in our basket. We looked at one another and said "no way!" and put it all back on the shelf.

Now...what was Plan B?

That was when we came home and put our scarecrow Samuel up. Taped colorful pinwheels to his pipe hands and made him rotate in the breeze. We also took advice of some locals who assured us that foil pie tins were the best thing going. We tied some in various spots of the garden and they banged around in the wind, making a noise that could even scare Bigfoot.

Did it work?

For awhile. But soon the okra that had started regrowth began looking like a bad barber had scalped them in the night. My husband fumed.

Plan C happened last night. A motion detector light. Which my husband assured me was only a ten minute job, but which actually stretched out a good 34 minutes and 14 seconds.  (But who's keeping time?)
My part was hunkering down and entering the garden, pretending I was a deer. His part was twisting, moving, setting the buttons a hundred and twelve times until he got it to come on, stay on, be focused correctly. Whew! I was almost ready to run off into the woods like a deer by the time that light was properly installed!

This morning we weighed the results. It was hard to tell if the okra had been sheared any shorter and it was so dusty that we couldn't find any prints. I would like to think that Plan C worked, but I'm doubtful. But I've learned one thing for sure:

Keeping deer out of the garden is about as easy as keeping me out of the Hershey bars.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Sometimes, when I'm not paying any attention because I'm reading a novel. Exercising cleaning house eating nachos, reality hits me over the head and I wonder to myself, "What on Earth am I doing here?" Why have I packed up and left my hometown and nice house and family members to cram myself into a little cabin that has no bath tub or dishwasher or central air conditioning? Why am I sitting in a little chair in a little room with little fan?


Because I have big dreams...

Because the birds here already know my name. The grass recognizes my footsteps. The trees celebrate my touch. The sky welcomes my wishes.

And everything that was ever important about the road behind me is now but a memory. Another life.

As much as I tried to deny it, there was always that pressure of trying to be like everyone else. That little voice that said, " You must wear cute clothes, buy nice dishes, carry a cool purse, impress the neighbors and expand your circle of friends."
Did any of those things actually make me happy? First of all, cute clothes on a fifty- something woman is about as easy to come by as a giant sack of gold. Nice dishes did not make meatloaf taste any better, I never found a cute purse for less than $80, and when it came right down to the truth- my neighbors didn't care whether I drove a rusty pickup truck or a scooter. As long as I minded my business, mowed my yard and kept my music at a pleasant volume.

As for friends? Lots of friends don't make you a better person. They just make you a popular person. And I find that the less people you have to please on a daily basis makes it easier to focus on true kindness.
Plus, I've come to realize that some people just can't handle simple, no-drama, no-frills, no-bendingoverbackwardtomakeanimpression. They are too intent on finding that fabulous purse.
Or being something they believe will make them happy.

I am happy here. Truly.
I go barefoot everyday, wear my pajama pants till after my evening shower, let my hair dry naturally,
and wrap myself in the sweetness of nature.

Have you ever really seen a bluebird up close? The color is intense, glowing, bluer than the bluest sky you've ever witnessed. It takes your breath away. It is life with wings.

Have you ever sat in a lawn chair at night and let the darkness embrace you? But then, instead of being afraid, you look up at that giant umbrella of stars and peace fills your veins. Gratitude gives you goosebumps. God gives you reasons to be here.

Have you ever heard the music of wind through the pine trees, the ping of raindrops on a tin roof, seen the clouds of dust that wrens kick up during their bath?

Have you ever stared with amazement of how high and fluffy and white the clouds can be, how graceful a simple buzzard can fly, how wonderfully noisy a quiet night can be?

I would be missing all of this if I had stayed in my house, my hometown, my familiar path. I would not be the recipient of big dreams, small adventures and life as it was meant to be. My only regret is that I didn't do this when I was 25. Or 30. Or even last year....

Sometimes, when I'm not paying attention, reality hits me over the head... and I realize I am finally home.