"When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems, except where to be happiest. "
- Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Below: Blue skies seen through a sleeping apple tree.
As I sit at my desk, attempting to put my thoughts into words, I’m only faintly annoyed by a familiar sound, that in a warmer season would have me thoroughly annoyed. The incessant bouncing of a basketball, on the street, in front of my home.
It has been a hard winter in the Midwest. Ice, snow, sleet and hail have been all too common this winter. And wind, the kind that will cut right though you, stinging any little patch of exposed skin, and have you running for cover the moment you step into it. But not today.
The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the birds are chirping a happier song. Children, just home from school, are bouncing basketballs in the street, and beginning to congregate in the vacant lot that looks like a vast expanse of frozen tundra. It’s just a big patch of pathetic weeds during the summer, but now, after the harsh winter, it’s a plot of fine leafed, yellow-brown, frostbitten stubble that hugs the ground after having been frozen and thawed repeatedly. They’ve taken basketballs and footballs with them, hoping for a few hours of fun, sans cumbersome jackets, scarves and mittens.
All day, my thoughts have been divided into two general categories. On one hand, I’m so excited about spring and putting the garden in. I’ve already poured over heirloom seed catalogs, for hours and hours, selecting new varieties of vegetable seeds to try. I’ve made plans for how I’ll lay out my garden, and even studied ways to plant more in containers on both my patio and porch. On the other hand, days like this make me reflect on all the plans I had for the winter, plans to divest, organize, and clean. Clearly, I’ve been less enthusiastic about the winter plans than the spring. It’s always that way. Surprisingly, I’ve felt the stirrings in the last few days to get busy on tidying the nest, to get things squared-away inside, before I head outdoors for the summer. I want to be able to sink my fingers deep into the soil of my garden, without any leftover winter guilt.
I’d better get up from this computer and get busy! I know today is just an anomaly, but it’s a foretaste of what’s to come. Spring, true spring! I can hardly wait.
Until next time… K ~
Above: A tiny patch of chickweed peeking through some mulch.
I get a nice ‘shout-out’ in this video by SouthernPrepper1, but more importantly is his demonstration of 3 different grinders. I encourage you to watch this video. The conclusions he draws may surprise you. Click here to view the video.
My grandmother made the best ice cream I ever tasted. She called the flavor ‘butterscotch’, but it was really what we today would call ‘butter pecan’. I remember being just an itty-bitty little girl, watching my grandfather turn the hand cranked churn of the ice cream freezer, as we sat on low stools in the garage, wilted by the heat of the oppressive Texas summer. I would take a few turns at the churn when the custard was still in a perfectly liquid state. Even then, I had to strain to get the handle to make one full revolution. After watching me, with great effort turn the crank, my very patient grandfather would say, “Better let me take a turn or two.” His motions seemed effortless as he turned the dashers around and around through the cream. He was strong and handsome, and I loved watching him. He would stop, only momentarily, to wipe his brow with a crumpled, cotton handkerchief, or to lift the old frayed bath towel that had been draped over the top of the ice cream bucket, the metal part that housed the crank. The towel helped keep the cold in, but more importantly, it protected his hand from from getting too cold as he rested it there, stabilizing the whole operation. He would lift the towel to add more coarse salt to the ice surrounding the metal cylinder, intensifying its effect on the not yet ice cream. After a while, the turning of the crank became more of a challenge as the ice cream began to thicken and freeze. When he could scarcely make another round with the handle, he would turn to me and say, “Now the only thing left to do is to wait.” That was the hardest part.
I can still picture the ice cream maker. It was old and showed signs of years of use. The pale green paint was almost completely worn away. The metal bands encircling the outer perimeter of the bucket were rusted from the corrosive effects of the salt water seeping through its slats. Unlike it’s modern counterparts, there were no fancy components to ‘go bad’. Every year we took it off the shelf in the garage where it was stored, set it up, fully confident it would deliver another batch of deliciousness. It never failed us.
I can still see my grandmother dishing-up bowls of the light tan colored, sweet, creamy ice cream. We could never wait for it to ‘temper’ like it was supposed to, for a few hours in the electric kitchen freezer. She dished it up, straight from the metal cylinder of the hand-crank ice cream freezer. It would begin to melt in our bowls, even before she could sprinkle the top with toasted pecans. I don’t think she could have ever dished anyone a bowl so full that they would have said, “Oh, that’s too much.” I would have eaten as much as she would have given me. It was that delicious! I’d love to turn back the clock, and have just one more hour, to wait impatiently with my grandparents for the ice cream to hardened.
Even though I have my grandmother’s ice cream recipe, I’ve never made it. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s that I’m afraid it won’t taste as good as I remember, and I just don’t want to spoil the memory. Maybe it’s that the recipe was hers, and not before or since have I ever tasted anything like it. It’s almost as if there is something sacred about it. The fact is, I really want to share this experience with my daughter. Perhaps I’ll finally dig out the recipe and make it this summer.
Now that I’m older, I’m not a big fan of ice cream, although I do enjoy a very occasional scoop. If you follow me on YouTube, you’ve probably seen my 'About Me' video where I reveal that my favorite ice cream flavor is ‘mint chocolate chip’. I rarely have it, since I usually let my husband or daughter chose the flavor. They invariably will chose one that contains peanuts. I think it’s just wrong to put peanuts in ice cream. I like peanut butter, peanut butter cookies, and peanut butter fudge, but I loathe peanuts in ice cream. When they chose the flavor, I abstain.
It was a rare occasion that I found myself alone at the grocery store this week. Half gallon cartons of ice cream were on sale. I stood in front of the glass doors of the grocery freezer a long time staring at the wide variety of flavors. I was about to reach for ‘Tin Roof Sundae’ which I know to be a favorite at my house, when I spied the ‘Mint Chip’. Impulsively, I grabbed it.
After dinner, I told my daughter there was ice cream in the freezer, if she’d like to dish us each a small bowl. She was surprised, and delighted, since ice cream is an infrequent treat in our house. She opened the freezer and said less than enthusiastically, “Oh. Mom’s favorite. Frozen toothpaste.”
How to Make THE BEST Broccoli Salad
Your going to love this recipe! When my husband walked in from work, and saw that I was making this salad, his exact words were, “I could eat that EVERY day!” I feel the same way.
I have toyed with the idea of establishing a blog for two years or more. I really wanted one, but I think of myself so technically challenged that I simply couldn’t face it. I would feel my heart begin to flutter nervously every time I thought of putting a blog together. ‘PrepperA’, my sweet 13 year old daughter has pulled me into the 21st century kicking and screaming. She’s promised to hold my hand and talk me through this. She has determined that the easiest place for me to manage a blog is here at Tumblr. (It really grieves me that I’m blogging on a host site that misspells its name!)
I need a place to express myself in written word. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but have never devoted much time to it. Life just gets in the way. I’ve decided to find time to do more things I love to do. Does it mean that I’m going to have to divest of some things I don’t love to do? You bet! I’ve already started.
Last month, I resigned a position I held on a county level board, and today, I tendered my resignation for a position I hold on a city level board…and boy did it feel good. Not that I don’t think it’s important to do my civic duty, but sometimes, you have to step back and ask yourself: “Does it really need to be me? Am I uniquely more suited to this task than someone else? Do I possess certain skills that make me an indispensable member of this team? Is my contribution significant, and does it bring me a sense of satisfaction? Am I just a chair warmer?” For me, if I answer, “No,” to any of these questions, it’s probably time for me to reconsider if it’s something I really need to be a part of.
When I was younger, I said, “Yes,” to a lot of things, because I thought that was what a good person did. I ran myself ragged most of the time. I’m older and wiser now and it sure feels great to take a step back and re-evaluate my commitments. My guiding compass in all of this is the sincere desire to put my family first. They deserve more than just the ‘dregs’ of me. It feels so wonderful to bring my actions (time commitments) in line with my values. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.
I really hope you enjoy this blog, and until next time…Katzcradul ~