Sunday, June 29, 2008

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersein, Good Night

Over the past year or so, I have been blessed to communicate with some very special people. You! As I have written tales of things that have happened in my life, shared pictures of things I have created and stories of people I have met, you have been there to encourage me, lift me, comfort me, compliment me and be the lovely women that you are.
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and so Meandering Travels of Mindless Thoughts is saying goodbye for now. It may not be forever, it may come back in a new form. But for now, I am signing off, taking a break, sitting back and taking it easy. No, not really taking it easy. I will be doing those things that I have been putting off for writing.
So, thank you. Thank you for reading and laughing and taking the time out of your busy day to visit. I will miss that camaraderie that has developed between us.
Don't worry, I'll still be popping in to see what all of you have been up to, though! This doesn't mean I will stop reading your blogs. Nope, not one bit. How could I get through the day? But me writing takes thought and time and focus that I need to direct elsewhere.
Take care, be well. I will see you at the back fence, where we can chat for a bit now and then, and catch up on what you've been doing, observing and creating.

madrekarin is off for new adventures.

Friday, June 27, 2008

New Things, New Foods, New Life

This has been a week of change her at our house. On Wednesday, the very nice men from our local heating and air company came and installed a heat pump/air conditioner in the family room half of the house. What a difference it makes! No more loud, blowing window unit freezing the backs of our heads as we sit watching television. No more hot little corner for the computer. No more hot, stuffy kitchen and dining room. No more sweaty cook in said kitchen.
How on earth did I live without this amazing device in my attic for ten years?! The poor men who worked through the day yesterday have my utmost respect. There is nothing worse than a Georgia attic in the summertime, and to be stuck in one for nine hours would be more than I could bear. But they did it, and kept smiles on their faces and pleasant conversations all through the day. Only when they were nearly finished did I discover that they had not stopped for lunch. How could that be? You have to eat!
guilt washed over me as I began cooking dinner for my family. The smell of shrimp and garlic wafted up to the attic and I am certain they their stomachs were rumbling.
"Would you like to join us for dinner?"
"No, thank you, ma'am."
When they left, I gave them enough extra dollars to get a decent dinner for themselves. It was the least I could do.

On Tuesday evening, I decided to make myself a little treat from the rhubarb I bought on the ill-fated trip to the Farmer's Market. I chose to stew it with sugar and make something similar to applesauce. Rhubarb Sauce.
I started with this:

Then added this:

Then I decided to add some of this- the candied ginger made from the ginger slices I used for the ginger syrup. (I just had to write ginger waa-yyy too many times.)

And I ended up with this! Rhubarb sauce in my favorite, creamy Brown Cow yogurt. Doesn't that look delicious?

Now for the new life. My oldest son, Nathan, the quiet one, has joined THE ARMY!! And I am totally okay with that. He will do his Basic training in Fort Jackson, SC. Close enough so that we can go to his graduation. Then, he will be off to California for his AIT. He has chosen linguistics- learning either Portuguese (a language that is in demand and one he can read already), Italian or Japanese.

I am so excited for him. This will give him purpose, direction and the discipline that he needs, allow him to see places that he wants to see (and some he doesn't really want to- but hey, you have to take the good with the bad), the chance to make new friends and really discover who he is.

Yay, Nathan. We are very proud of you. You have Heavenly Father on your side and with Him, all things are possible. Now go, and live your life, and enjoy the things that come your way.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Chain of Unfortunate Events

Have you ever had a day where things go wrong and all you want to do is to climb into your comfy bed and hide under the covers? That was my day today.
It started out innocently enough- making breakfast, doing laundry, washing dishes. But then, I decided to leave the house. Not a good idea.
First stop, Goodwill with #1Son in tow. As I was looking in the skirt aisle I happened to see the woman who worked in the fabric department at WalMart many years ago. She was nearly an institution there, until her granddaughter was born and she retired to care for her.
I whispered "Hello. How are you?" across the skirts and we caught up on what had been happening in our lives in the past ten years. She remembered me bringing in my daughter and how Ainslie would sit on the cutting table as fabric was laid out and scissors slid through it. I told her that daughter was almost twenty now. "Time sure does go fast." was her reply. We chatted a bit more and with a "It was wonderful to see you." goodbye, I walked to housewares to see what treasures they might have. We met again. And again. And again.
It is one thing to have a sweet conversation with someone and quite another to have to keep fumbling for things to say as you bump into each other at every turn. Time to go.
I thought that Nathan and I would head to a few other thrift stores and then perhaps have a little lunch somewhere. I mentioned the restaurant at the State Farmer's Market and he countered with lunch at the DeKalb Farmer's Market. He won.
The entire way there I was planning what I would have for lunch. With an ever-so-colorful array of international foods, it is difficult to decide just what to eat.
I did a bit of shopping first, picking up fresh English peas, broccoli rabe, Brussel sprouts, some grass-fed ground beef and a lovely, plump roasting hen. (Don't tell the girls!)
We parked our cart and got into the line, ready to make our choices. I went down the salad side first. Onto my plate went spinach, spring greens, carrots, olives, cucumbers and thinly sliced Spanish onions. A few sunflower seeds sprinkled on the top for more crunch and my salad was ready for dressing. I chose blue cheese. Mistake. As I poured the dressing from its pitcher, great blobs of blue cheese fell out, followed by a mass of creamy liquid. Way too much. Oh, well. too late now.
I slipped across to the other side to see if they had lentil samosas. They did. Oh, yum.
You get a choice of lamb, beef, vegetable or lentil. I've not had the lamb, but the beef is good. The vegetable samosas consist of mashed potatoes filled with what look like yesterday's leftover veggies. They are not good. But the lentil is divine. Brown and green lentils, spiced with who-knows-what (but it's delicious) and enveloped in a crisply fried wrapping. Perhaps not the most healthy of things to eat, but heavenly nonetheless. As an afterthought, and with encouragement from Nathan, I ladled a bowlful of mushroom soup for myself.
Sliding my tray down the shiny metal bars of the food carts, the unthinkable happened. The corner of the tray caught up underneath the drink holder. I tried to maneuver it out and as I did, I overcompensated. The weight of the plate caused the tray to tip, which allowed the plate of blue cheese-drowned salad and the bowl of mushroom soup to fly through the air, with the greatest of ease.
I watched, helpless, as creamy broth and flecks of mushroom directed themselves towards the very bare legs of the man across from me. The salad spread itself on the floor, with dressing oozing around it like blood from a gunshot wound. I was horrified, embarrassed and unable to move.
At last gaining my senses, I offered the man my napkins to wipe the glop off of his legs, and bent down to begin cleaning up the mess that I had just made.
"No. Ma'am, no. They will clean it up." lilted across the register from the cashier, a pleasant Pakistani woman. She smiled at me and said it was okay. Not.
I looked at my tray and discovered that the lentil samosa was still there, snug in its paper bag.
I offered to pay for the lunch I had ruined, but was told it was not necessary. Accidents happen. I did pay for my samosa and Nathan's lunch and went to find a table where no one could see me.
I did my best to shrink away as I ate my lunch, which posed it's own set of problems. As I bit into it, lentils began to propel themselves out of the samosa, down my chin and onto my lap. Thank goodness my mother taught me to keep a napkin in my lap. It was there to catch the eighteen small, brown rounds of evilness.
I am not a big believer in karma, but there may, perhaps, be something to it. Maybe this was the result of me trying to dodge the WalMart fabric lady in the Goodwill. Maybe it was just a bad day. Who knows? But one thing is for sure-
I think I'll stay home tomorrow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Finally, Pictures!

After nearly giving up entirely, I found that I could load each picture individually with success.
Still a bit frustrating though. But, now you can see the treasures that I found during the last week. There are more yet to come. :)

Two Spode platters found at the shop off Moreland Ave. in Atlanta. $22 for both. Now that's a deal!

My birthday present to me! A cherry necklace kit and beautiful blue and white glass rings from the French General. Oh, my, I am in love with these!

The sweetest little doll bed I purchased at Dawn's yard sale. Can you not see this trimmed out with a ticking mattress stuffed with wool, tiny pillows, soft linens and an itty-bitty quilt?
Be sure to come back an see what it looks like in a few weeks.

The little sewing kit, with beautiful, softly colored thread, even tinier sewing kits and a package of perfect English needles. Sewing heaven!

My new screen door. For where? I don't know yet. But I promise it will be put to good use. Behind the door you can see the huge roll of grape vine. It looks like a big nest sitting on my porch.

Most of the linens and aprons from Dawn. Today was the perfect day to wash and hang them on the line, giving the sun every chance to whiten the whites and the breeze to soften the lot of them. I just love how they look hanging there, blowing slightly back and forth and making my back yard a most colorful spot.
Thank you so much, Dawn, for stuffing things into my hands, showing me your lovely craft room and being such a good friend. I could have stayed longer and bought more, but mostly I would have loved to just sit and chat. We must do that one day.

What a Week!

Both of my brothers were in town this past week and we had such a good time. I love when family comes to visit. Even Clark, the brother in the middle of the picture. Is there any doubt as to why he is still single? I don't think so.

This is a picture of my parents, my son, JA, the aforementioned Clark, my brother Donald and his wife Lynne and daughter Lizzie. (They could only be here for a few days, so we tried to cram in a much fun as we could in a short period of time.)
Saturday, my mom, Clark and I hit Scott's antique market. I found a few things; a lovely, soft piece of hand spun linen, a few watch faces, and a tiny little copper tea kettle that turned out to have been made from a penny. We ate lunch there, which I would not recommend. It is very expensive. I wish we had packed a lunch and ate in the truck because then I would have had more money for stuff!
The rest of the week sped by so fast it is a bit of a blur. One day we went thrifting, finding a place off of Moreland Ave. that we had never been in before. It was....interesting to say the least. But, we did find a few things, so it was not a total loss.
Thursday, the day D and family had to leave, we spent at home playing marbles on the board my grandmother made, chatting and wishing that 7:00 pm would not arrive. But it did, and they are now home and I miss having them here. Lots.
Clark did not have to leave until this morning, so we were back to running about. Friday was a trip to the High Museum to see the Houdon sculpture and the Civil Rights exhibits. The sculptures were extraordinary. Superbly executed, life-like images of George Washington, Voltaire, Ben Franklin, Houdon's own wife and daughter and more.
The Civil Rights exhibit is mesmerizing, sad and riveting all at once. Photographs detail the anger and rage that surrounded that period of time. You cannot leave there without feeling deep emotion. I would recommend it to anyone who lives here in Georgia or will be visiting here this summer.
Lunch at Eat's on Ponce de Leon proved a hit. A small hole-in-the-wall, they serve up tasty pastas and chicken and have the friendliest staff you'll ever find. Go! Go and have their jerk chicken or linguine with olive oil and garlic, mushrooms and peppers. Mmmmmmm.
Saturday morning, through closely spaced rain drops, we drove south to Dawn's house for her yard sale. Brave girl- she put it on despite the weather and there were many bargains to be found. I purchased 7 bags of linens and fabric, an old screen door, a few aprons, a little sewing kit, a roll of grapevine and a sweet doll bed. Because Blogger has been being a bit difficult, I will have to post the pictures later. It only let me upload this one photo.
If you read her blog, you know that even though it was pouring down rain most of the morning, her yard sale was a huge success!! It was worth all of that hard work! :)
A quick trip home to drop off our goodies and we were off again, this time to pick up my #1Son and head to the Michael C. Carlos Museum for the Lost Kingdoms of the Nile exhibit and lunch at The Earl in East Atlanta. It was a long day and by the time we got home, we were all exhausted.
And so, to quote Edward R. Morrow, "that is the week that was." Fun, fast, full, fatiguing.
And I would do it all over again.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Half a Century

This was the Time magazine cover on June 16, 1958, the day I was born. See that dress form in the top left corner? That would look so cool in my house. Yes, a vintage dress form would be lovely.

Vintage. I love that word. It evokes a feeling of comfort, it draws memories, it make us nostalgic for a sweeter, simpler time. Finding a vintage object means that someone cared enough to keep it, care for it and preserve it.
If you come to my house today, you will find a living, breathing vintage object- me!
You won't find me looking like Jean Thorn, the woman on the cover above. No, I'll be mucking-out the hen house, weeding the garden, hanging laundry and sprucing up the house for guests tonight, keeping those vintage traditions of long ago.
So, Happy Birthday, Vintage Me. I think fifty is going to be a very good age to be.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Grandfather

I found this picture this morning while cleaning. It's a picture my grandfather, my dad's dad. Isn't he handsome? And get a load of that baby!

Yes, that is me, in all my happy baby chubbiness in the arms of one of my favorite men on Earth, my Grampa Kimball. That lap was the place you could go to when you needed protection from your brothers or just a hug. And when you were ready to get down, you'd get a big squish and be told that you were such a "hot potato", then you would see that smile and know that you were loved, just for who you were.
On Monday, this baby turns fifty and even though my grandfather is no longer here, I know that I am still his "hot potato".
One day those arms will gather me in a hug and I will see that smile again. I hope he likes the person I've grown into. He should. A lot of who I am today is because of him.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I had forgotten what it was like to have a three year-old in the house. After all, it has been almost seventeen years since my last child was that little.
I had forgotten how busy they are, and curious. About everything.
This is my friend's daughter. I'm watching her while her mom and dad are at a horse show with her sisters. It has been a very busy day here at the S house. Very being an understatement.

We decided to go see the geese at Minnow Pond. As you can tell, we also took in the Lotus Pond as well. It is just as stunning as last year's display. Huge, round leaves on slim stems that belie their strength. Some of them were as big as B herself. Flowers of the softest cream and pink, suited her taste perfectly.
Imagine the reaction of someone so small to such a sight. A little fearful, a little curious, a little surprised. I pulled a leaf over for her to hold. She asked me if she could sit on it.
"Well, if you were as light as a bug, you could. But you are heavier than a bug and it may not hold you up."
"Oh. I won't sit on it."
"Good idea."
While we were walking around the Lotus Pond, we found the shell of a craw fish. Poor thing. His shell had been left behind after a lovely morning repast for some lucky bird.
Assuring her that it would not, could not, bite her, B decided it was interesting and began to ask all sorts of questions.
"Why is he dead?"
"Where is his mother?"
"Why did they eat him?"
"Can we take him home?"
I am sure the conversation would have lasted longer had a small trail of fire ants not decided that B's feet were too cute to miss.
Darn those pesky creatures.

We walked back to Minnow Pond to feed the geese. Today's menu was day-old wheat bread. The geese have become much more bold. They have no fear of people, even the babies. We quickly became surrounded by honking, waddling birds.
In the group is a white goose that we have named George. Living at the pond for years, he is clearly the leader, a bit like Flora. He is blind in one eye now and has to cock his head just so to see what it is you are offering. I feel a bit sorry for him. Well, I did until he decided that B's pinkie finger looked tasty and latched onto it. A quick pop on his beak released his hold.
Through her tears, B told George that he was not very nice. Good for her.
In the flock of wild geese, I noticed a small male with what could only be described as a cleft beak. The upper portion of his beak was malformed and very short. You could see his tongue trying to grab a small piece of bread to eat. He couldn't do it. Oh, how sorry I felt for him.
How had he survived so long with such a disability? I'm sure that in the water he was much more able to bring food into his mouth. Gliding along with his beak under the surface would enable him to scoop up tiny brim into his mouth.
In the picture below you can see him and the outline of his deformity. He is the second goose from the left, the one being chastised by another.

I explained to B about this little goose, that he had something wrong with him and that he may not live to be a big goose.

"He needs his mom." Yes. Yes he does.

I wonder how she got so smart?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pecking Order

These are the new girls, Blanche and Hazel. My husband , #1Son and I picked them up on Memorial Day. Two Buff Orpington sisters, a week or two older than Flora, just trying to get along in this new place. They are the low gals on the totem pole.

Flora has established herself as the Queen of the Coop. Not a surprise really, as she was the first one here and she has that spunky personality (that is probably what saved her in the "attack") .
Mavis and Pearl have been at the receiving end of her displeasure many a time and now it is these two girl's turn. I feel sorry for them.
Anything or anyone that enters the chicken yard is greeted first by Flora. Strutting her stuff, she makes sure that she is noticed. And heaven forbid if attention goes in the opposite direction from her. The wings spread, the head goes down and the legs start moving at a rapid pace. Goodness knows, she does not want to miss a thing.
It is her beak that first plunges into a wedge of soft, pink watermelon, pecks at a basil leaf or pierces a tomato. The others wait patiently, looking on with longing, waiting for her to step back and give her nod of approval. Then, and only then, do the others scurry forth to partake of a tasty treat that has come their way.
I sat in the chicken yard one day observing this behavior with amusement. The thought occurred to me that people are a lot like chickens.
In any given situation, there is always a Head Chick, a Flora. You know her. She's the one that moves right in, taking charge whether she should or not, and begins to organize things her way.
Don't try to help, because she can do it all.
But, someone always does. The Mavis and Pearls of the world, step up to do the bidding of the Floras. It's just their nature. Not willing to take on all of the responsibility themselves, they are quite content to be lead, with a nod of approval of course, to begin taking on small assignments until the Floras deem them ready to take on more.
I see that in my hens. Mavis and Pearl are always the next to move in, having been given a clucky "All Clear" from Flora. "Yes, you may pass. But you may not."
Poor Hazel and Blanche. They are always the last invited to the party. Although, I think they like to stay in the shadows, waiting for Hurricane Flora to whip through doing what she does (or thinks she does) best.
The funny thing about them is this- In the end, they are the ones who benefit the most. In all of her hurry-upness and pomp, Flora quickly loses interest. Of course she does. She expended all of her energy in trying to be the first one there and keeping everyone else at bay, that she wore herself out!
Mavis and Pearl, unable (or unwilling) to think for themselves quickly follow suit, giving Hazel and Blanche carte blanche to enjoy the spoils, whether it be a tasty treat or a little cuddle.
Don't get me wrong, there is much to love about all of the hens in my chicken yard. Flora makes me laugh at her antics. She is a bit like Mrs. Olsen in Little House on the Prairie, infuriating and comical all at the same time. Mavis and Pearl are like Cinderella's self-absorbed step-sisters- all fluff and nonsense. I cannot wait for them to realize that Flora is "not all that and a bag of chips", as my sister says.
But Hazel and Blanche have stolen my heart. Quiet and subdued, they know that they do not have to be ill-mannered to get what they need and want. It just comes to them naturally.
Low gals on the totem pole unite. Being on top doesn't make you the best. It just makes you that much harder to reach.
How's that working for ya, Flora?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Miss Bunny Says......

"Try this scrumptious dessert!!"

And it is simple, simple. Spoon one cup of yogurt into a bowl (I use Brown Cow plain yogurt with the cream top. Delicious!) Slice two strawberries and place decoratively around the bowl. Oh, wait! That's only for pictures. Just toss them in there! Then spoon some ginger syrup, if you made it, on top of that and enjoy. Oh my goodness, it is so yummy! And good for you too.
I wonder what else ginger syrup would be good on?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pop! Fizz! How Sweet It Is.....

I think I am going to name this summer of 2008 Project Summer. A time of risk-taking and experimentation, giving my family the opportunity to try new things.
Some will be hits and some will not. I have already had my share of both. Herbed cheese- a hit. Fruit cheese- not so much. Steak and egg fritatta- a hit. Grilled pizza- a hit.
Well, I guess I'm doing better than I thought.
Today's experiment was inspired by an article I read in a magazine. Don't ask me which magazine, because I cannot remember. I did remember the quantities of ingredients though, so pulling this off was fairly easy. So, veg peeler in hand, ginger root, a pot of water and some sparkly sugar, and I was ready to make.....Ginger Syrup!
Why ginger syrup? To make ginger ale, of course!!
This is a pot with 2 cups of peeled and sliced ginger, 2 cups (or so) of water and 2 cups (or so) of sugar. Simple, eh?

Simmer these ingredients until the liquid is reduced by half. You can also use a candy thermometer and gauge your temperature. A syrup is made at about 200-230 degrees F.
Once the syrup is reduced, strain it into a large jar. I used a wide-mouthed canning jar. Do not throw away the ginger. You will need it for something yummy later.

Isn't that pretty?
Now, take the slices of ginger and toss them in a bowl of sugar. Lay them out on a cookie sheet and bake them in a low oven (about 200-225 degrees) for 2 1/2-3 hours. It depends on the humidity really. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Place in an airtight container.

To make ginger ale, pour 2 tablespoons ( or to suit your taste) of syrup in a glass. Pour 8 ounces of chilled club soda over the top and add a bit of ice. Decorate the rim of the glass with a slice of candied ginger.

This glass does not have its decorative ginger slice because I ate it. I couldn't help it. It was calling to me.
But still, is that not a lovely thing to behold? The taste is very different from what you buy in the grocery store. It is lighter and a bit less sweet. As it rolls over your tongue you get that pleasant bite that only fresh ginger possesses, without the heat. You may want to enjoy the candied ginger as you sip.

Another project completed today was the hanging of the tomato plants. Upside down, hanging on a shepherd's hook, they stayed in their buckets just fine. Now we just have to wait for them to begin producing tomatoes. I think this is going to be a very fun summer!!

I hope that you have one too. :)