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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Wow, what a week! I’ve been as busy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Several doc appointments were mostly of the check-up type and all came out OK – that was important. Some baby-sitting appointments also came out OK – that’s very important. Chopping weeds and grass out of the garden came out OK – even though they didn’t want to leave their place of encroachment.

Even though the garden is fading fast, a few veggies are still available for picking. The squash are almost totally gone but I did pick a couple of them the other day. To my surprise the cukes are still producing a few of the green veggie tubes. Tomatoes are still coming in but I can tell that they won’t be around very long. Even the okra is starting to slow down – getting late in the season.

The figs tend to have two seasons – the early one is about over and the late one has yet to start. I picked the last of the pickable blueberries a few days ago. Most of these were put in the fridge to eat with my morning cereal. Then to my surprise I noticed that the muscadines were getting ripe. These are mainly of two types – a dark purple and a bronze variety – I picked 12 gallons the next day.

Muscadines are described as wild southern grapes and I have 7 vines that produce all I can use. In fact, I passed a couple of gallons or so along to my neighbor – they are heavy into making jelly and preserves. The rest are to suffer under my jelly making experiments. In the few days that have passed, I have squished, cooked and strained the juice out of all the ones I had.

This juice is now stored in the fridge downstairs, waiting on me to get enough time to finish the project. My quandary at the moment is that I cannot find the pint jars in which to place the jelly. There were plenty of quarts but those are just too large. I will continue hunting but it may be too late in the season and they are all bought up – that happened to me a few years back.

Over the years I have employed various means of entertaining the young ones that I sit with and the latest of these is paper airplanes. This diversion arose recently with the three local gruntmonkeys and they enjoyed it immensely. The first papers of flight were from long ago memories and were just OK. The next ones were from another memory, they were modified a bit and these flew much better.

Then I had the brilliant idea of looking on the web and lo and behold there were many foldable fliers. I tried one and just as advertised, it simply floated across the room. The problem was that it wasn’t tough enough and did not stand up very well to the punishment of active young men. They would have to be steel to withstand the rigors but steel is hard to fold by hand and would be hard to fly.

It really flaked me out when I realized that it had been well over a week since I had written anything – that is just being too busy. But God has been as good as always and for this I am very glad. ec

Monday, August 18, 2008

first photo

This is my first effort at posting a photo - this is a family group shot taken a few days before Thanksgiving 2007. The little ones in front are - L to R - GM6, GM4, GM3, and GM5. The rest of us L to R - YD, SSIL, GM1, me, Spice, FSIL, OD and GM2. ec

Thursday, August 14, 2008


It was a walk after sundown on another day, the only semi-comfortable time to walk during this season. Several senses were active during the exercise time. The scenery was so familiar that the eyes only notified me if something unusual came to their attention. But all was about the same as in other days – the pond water was calm on one side and the trees were green on the other.

The ears mostly held sway and the main sound was the songs of the cicadas. I had to wonder why were they singing – was it to attract a mate, brag about some accomplishment or just for the joy of singing? I don’t know the cicada songs well enough to determine if I was hearing the same cicadas as yesterday but I’m sure the other cicadas knew the singers quite well.

In my imagination I can almost hear a group of lady cicadas commenting to each other about the quality and tonality of the songs. One would say, would you listen to old Fred, he thinks that just because he is loud everyone enjoys his singing. And another would chime in, yes, it just makes me want to fly somewhere far away but it would have to be very far to not hear all that.

Then another song came to their instruments of auditory perception – it was Sam cicada! His song was the most beautiful and romantic they had ever heard and they went all atwitter – or the cicada version of that action. When the ladies came back from their cicada swoon they all agreed that this song just made them glad that they were cicadas – and probably made a few crickets jealous.

A few birds were chirping occasionally, probably getting ready to roost for the night. Then in the background one could hear the traffic noises filtering through the trees. There were other perceptions but they were internal – it was my body talking to me. It was complaining that I was walking too fast, the muscles were aching and wanted to slow down to get more oxygen.

I just ignored their complaints and walked on at my regular pace. Then there were all the thoughts tumbling through the brain, so many that they were stumbling over each other. One had hardly begun when another started and collided with the one ahead and built into a thought pile-up. Then there was the sorting out process and trying to determine which thoughts went with which.

I knew that some of the thoughts were serious but it was hard to tell the serious from the not so serious and those from the silly and then the silly from the absolutely ridiculous. Thoughts were bumping around like sneakers in the dryer. As the walk neared its end, the rejoicing of the body parts drowned all that out – the walk was almost over and they were going to get to rest for a while.

It just feels so good to be able to get out and do some quick stepping – God is good!! ec

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

BBH 458

Blueberry Hill report. The season is getting late, the garden is “long in the tooth” and its production of veggies has slackened considerably. Even though it was uncomfortably hot today I was out cleaning out some of the very opportunistic grass that had invaded the good soil. Along with the grass and a few weeds, some brambles were trying to make a comeback and also institute a takeover.

Clad in my sun-blocking hat and shirt, this kind of work gets hot in a hurry and today was no exception. After a couple of hours I was soaked through and decided to go back inside while I could still walk. I had filled my large garden cart full of grass, weeds, brambles and dead or semi-dead squash plants. Their fate was to be dumped on the dead plant and decayed veggie pile.

The squash have almost quit producing entirely with just a few vines still alive. At the last picking only one squash was brought inside. I waffled back and forth about pulling the rest of them up and planting some winter greens – in a few weeks of course. In times past a few of the vines have come back for a small harvest late in the season – this event remains to be seen.

The cucumbers are on the downhill slide but are still giving forth a few of this green salad and/or pickling veggie. YD has made a good number of jars of pickles from this row of cukes. The okra plants are still doing fairly well and seem to love this hot weather. Tomatoes are still coming in but these late season taste orbs are getting smaller and losing quality – still very tasty though.

The blueberries are mostly gone now with only a few still remaining to be picked. I lost some of the harvest when I made the trip to MS for the reunion but not enough to be concerned about. Much work of cleaning out and mulching of these berry producers needs to be done in the dormant season upcoming. Of course then the temperature will be much more comfortable for the job.

The figs are right in the middle of their ripening season and are producing like “gangbusters”. In the latest picking session I took the 6-foot stepladder out to get the uppermost limbs but picked all I could reach from the ground first. This was fortunate because about halfway around the tree I chanced to spy a large wasp nest on a branch about 3 feet into the tree and 5 feet off the ground.

This would not have been pretty had I been on a ladder and not seen these emissaries of sting-dom. I went for the water hose, sprayed them and just reached in and plucked down the nest. By the time their wings had dried they came back to defend a home that was no longer there. I do pick figs with latex gloves to guard against the oozing sap and that helped in my bravery of tossing the nest.

On a walk-around of the place I noticed that the muscadines were just starting to ripen and I picked a handful to munch on while I surveyed the rest of my “estate”. Amazing is the only word that I can think of to describe God’s creation in the area of the plant world – well, maybe awesome would also be in there. But greater still is that He loves us humans and gave to us the best gift of all – Jesus! ec

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

MS reunion 2008 2

Saturday, August 2nd – Itawamba county, MS. For many years now our reunion has been held in this rural community center, a somewhat plain but functional cement block building that is the venue of many events of the area. It is about 2 miles down the road and when I pulled up to the front door some of the guys already in attendance helped me unload all the goodies we brought.

We added these taste delights to the growing number on the row of serving tables. More and more folks came in and we began to renew our kinship and friendship with hugs, greetings and such. I will confess that I am a hugger and anyone that will allow themselves to be hugged, I will hug them – it just seems the thing to do. I failed to get an accurate count but attendance topped out at 50 plus.

I knew that this reunion would be tinged with a bit of sadness because my uncle that was always in attendance and for years headed up this event, had passed away at the end of March this year. My niece had taken over for the last several years and saw to it that all went well. Soon we were called to order, grace was said and we started the consumption of the feast.

I was so busy talking with all the different ones that it occurred to my Spice that I didn’t have a plate in my hands and since this was very unusual, she reminded me that I might ought to eat. I did soon fill a plate and sat a short while to enjoy the repast. Then I visited the dessert end of the long row of tables and sampled several of the sweets – this as I visited with folks from table to table.

Except for spouses and in-laws, all were descended from one man called “Hairy John” – this name came from the fact that he didn’t cut his hair or beard. He passed away in 1912 and was my great-grandfather. From one or another of his eight children came the whole assembly that met and celebrated being a part of this large family.

About the last thing we do is to take photos of each family group in attendance – this since it would be hard to make photos of the ones not in attendance. This was done and the crowd gradually started to depart to their places of abode. The group was small when we loaded up leftovers and headed back to my sis’s place. Much conversing was still to do so we got at it until bedtime.

Sunday morning came and we had a bite to eat and loaded the van back up for the trip home. Just before we left my nephew came by for a plumbing repair for his Mom – my sis. He had not been in attendance the day before and I was glad to get to see him before we left. We finally got on the road and finished listening to the book on CD that we had started on the trip down.

We had a good trip back, enjoyed the book and even started another one called “The Gift” – we were so involved in it that we had to finish it up when we got home. Our return trip took 3 minutes longer than the trip out – very close. We were tired but as always, glad to be home. God is good! ec

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

MS reunion 2008

The sun had just gone down, I was out for my evening walk and all was calm and peaceful in my world. As I approached the pond, the surface of the water was as smooth as glass with the only ripples coming when the medium-sized water bird took off as I neared. The cicadas were still singing their songs and if the crickets were chirping, they were drowned out by the louder calls.

Since these walks are one of my times of pondering and sorting things out in my mind, I thought on the events of the last few days and made sure they were filed away properly in my memories. This major happening in my year began on the morning of Friday past. We were to travel to a rural area of the northeastern corner of Mississippi for an annual family reunion.

We finally got the van loaded and the trip underway about 10:30am. The mileage from my home in SC to my older sister’s place was almost 430 miles and it took us 7 hours and 17 minutes to make the journey. This included two stops, one for food and one for fuel. The driving was not as tiring as it would seem because we took two books on CD to enjoy in route.

The one we listened to on the way out was “The Wedding” and was a sequel to a book that was made into the movie “The notebook”. We were only about 2/3 through the book when we arrived. The miles had melted away and we were much fresher than usual because of the interesting literary distraction – it even helped with the white-knuckle driving through Atlanta, GA.

The sister we stayed with was my oldest one and she had moved to MS with her family while our Mom and Dad were still alive and later became their main caregiver until their passing. On arriving, we immediately started talking, laughing and catching up on things and events in the family. A short while later we got supper on the table and joined by my niece and her hubby, we took nourishment.

Major laughing, talking and enjoying each other’s presence continued through and past the meal for quite some time. I find this nephew by marriage quite interesting since in times past he had been an army ranger and then in law enforcement for years. We spoke of guns and other weaponry of our knowledge – his mostly – and the ladies spoke of many wonderful things of their interest.

The evening wound down, the niece and hubby left and I crashed into the bed, leaving the Spice and my sis still conversing. Next morn we arose, some more slowly than others and had a minimum bite to eat so as not to interfere with the coming noon feast. We then put the finishing touches on the sis’s dishes; cut up a good amount of tomatoes and cucumbers I brought from SC and headed out.

Will continue this in the next posting – God is good. ec