Pickles is a Mommy

This morning was the anticipated day. Pickles became the mommy of three little kittens. We had been watching her full, rounded belly and knew it would be any day.

One is yellow and looks like Pickles, one is a calico with spots of yellow on its head and the third one is mostly black. It is obviously that she had a visit from the neighbors male cat!
One is yellow and looks like Pickles, one is a calico

She had snuck into one of the feed rooms in the store, found the perfect spot-a narrow box sitting on its side on the top shelf. When Summer opened up the room this morning and turned on the light she made herself known. Bubble wrap in the box made a soft cushiony pillow for her little fluff balls.

Pickles was obviously pleased with herself and wanted us to know about the kitts. She let us hold them with some fussing, meowing that we be very careful and under the glare of her watchful eye. Gene was going to turn her box over so that she had more room and put it on the bottom shelf but she made it clear that she was not going to allow that.

For now she is in a safe place and at a spot we can keep watch over her and love on her kittens. That is until she decides to move them!

Congratulations Pickles. You did a good job.

David and Goliath

Earlier this week (February 23, 2022) Fox News had a very insightful comparison between the military might of Russia and Ukraine. The graph speaks for itself, but I instantly thought, this is like David and Goliath! All week I have been praying with that thought in mind. Today I have heard several news reporters use the same comparison and at church today one of the men shared his concern for the situation and asked for prayer, referring to it as like David and Goliath.

The story of David and Goliath in I Samuel 17 is fascinating. David was anointed king of Israel by Samuel at a very young age, but it would be fifteen years before he was inauguration King of Israel. In the meantime, he tended his father’s sheep and went to Saul’s palace to play the harp whenever an evil spirit came over Saul. The Israelites were preparing for war as the Philistines had surrounded their nation and was threatening to attack.

One day Jesse, David’s father, sent him to check on his three older brothers who were in Saul’s army and deliver a care package from home of dried grain and ten loaves of bread and ten cheeses for the captains of the army. When David arrived, he found the army hyped, shouting, and ready to attack in battle formation with the Philistines on one mountain and the Israelites on another with a valley in between.

The champion of the Philistine army was a tyrant, a giant named Goliath, who stood between 9-10 feet tall. He stood on the Philistine’s side of the mountain dressed in a full body bronze armor yelling taunts and challenging the Israelites to a fight. His spear was approximately 13′ long and weighed about 33 lbs. Whoever lost would be the servants of the other. The Israelites were dreadfully afraid and quaking in their army boots.

The young lad David saw Goliath’s insults as defying the armies of the Living God. David’s words were reported to Saul who asked to speak with David. David presented his case and said, “Let no man’s heart fail because of that giant. I will go and fight him.”

Saul was horrified. He said, “You are a youth and this man has been a warrior since his youth”. I don’t know how David managed to convince King Saul but God was with David and Saul finally let him go. Suddenly the whole future of Israel was squarely on the shoulders of a young lad versus a menacing giant.

David took his shepherd’s bag, staff and sling and on his way stopped by a brook and picked up five smooth stones.

Gebhard Fugel (1863-1939), “David and Goliath” (photo: Public Domain)

When Goliath saw David coming, he was filled with rage and disdain. Goliath yelled, “Am I just a dog that you come to me with a stick. Come on, I will feed your flesh to the birds and wild beasts”. And David said, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of host, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. This day God will deliver you into my hand and I will strike you.”

I think of the song we sang as children…. “Only A Boy Named David”. David put one little stone in the sling and it went round and round and the giant came tumbling down. It only took one stone!

Is this a David and Goliath situation? I am praying for the people of Ukraine to trust in God and stand even when it seems impossible. I saw a picture of Christians in Ukraine kneeling in front of their capital praying.

I saw a video on fb of Ukrainian Christians in Kiev who sought protection in an underground subway tunnel singing hymns. I read a clip on that said Ukraine sends out more missionaries to other European countries and Eastern Asia than any other country.

The military facts are startling and there seems no way Ukraine can humanly win against the haughty, mighty Russian army unless…. unless they (we) call on the name of the Lord against the one who has defied Him before the whole world.

David versus Goliath. It’s not just a cute children’s story. We know Ukraine is a corrupt country but so is every nation in the world. What if the impossible could happen and the name of God could be lifted high for the world to see. What if the tyrant could fall because of the prayers of Christians? What if….

Some things I ponder:

  • What is the heart of Jesus in all this conflict and aggression.
  • How do I respond to and pray for the Russian people who are against the position of their leader and the aggression against the Ukraine?
  • How would I respond to war in my land, against our home and government?
  • As a Christian who believes Jesus taught peace respond when a tyrant boldly attacks innocent people and destroys their homes and livelihoods?

These and others are hard questions. We need to seek the heart of Jesus, maybe not so much to seek our answers but to seek his response. I pray especially for the Christians on both sides of the conflict.

Kat Has A New Name

Kat is developing the habit of getting herself into pickles, precarious situations that she can’t get herself out of that are usually high off the ground. Today Summer again heard the distressed call…”meow, meow” and went looking for her.

And there she was, up in the eaves of a shed with no way to get down. She kept looking for a way down but the rafters prevented her from going to the next eave. Poor pitiful Kat was meowing for help!

Again we got the ladder out and rescued our the little fraidy cat! She really wasn’t up that high-maybe seven or eight feet but it was high enough she wasn’t going to jump. The only way we could see that she got up there was to climb one of the posts but she appeared unable to go to the next eave and there was no eave close to her!

When Kat appeared at our doorstep we couldn’t figure out what to call her and until we could up with a name we called her Kat. The name has stuck until today. I have now decided she is Pickles. Pickles Kat.

We had a book when the children were little called “The Fire Cat” by Esther Averill. It was about a cat named Pickles that climbed a tree and couldn’t get down. His owner, Mrs. Goodkind, had to call the fire department to rescue him. He ended up going to the fire house to live. He learned to slide down the pole, ride on the fire truck, helped unroll the fire hose and rode on the seat with the fire chief. The children loved the book and I read it many, many times. I think the name seems rather fitting to me!

Other adventures of Kat:

The Pecan Man

This was a good pecan producing year. Some years are, some years aren’t. We picked up buckets and buckets of pecans. Summer and I shelled at least one 5-gallon bucket full. Over Christmas a bunch of the family went out and in a short time gathered six more 5-gallon buckets full. Suddenly the task looked overwhelming.

We have one tree that produces small pecans. They are good and meaty but difficult to crack. Years ago I had gotten an electric table top cracker which I liked but back then we had three trees and the nuts were larger. The cracker can not be adjusted down for the small size of these nuts.

When mama starts thinking watch out! I have some cousins in South Carolina who grow grooves of pecans and have a large nut cracker. I talked to them about paying them a visit and cracking my nuts. But before I got that accomplished, a friend (sales rep) from North Carolina was here and mentioned one of his neighbors has a nut cracker and did some nuts for him. Wilson, NC is a lot closer than Denmark, SC.

So today my friend, Donna, and I took a road trip to Wilson, North Carolina to the “Pecan Man” with 111 pounds of homegrown pecans in tow. It was a fun day and made for an interesting “field trip”.

Jr. Etheridge has two crackers. One for large nuts and one for small. Surprisingly, mine qualified for the large cracker.

He poured the nuts into metal baskets and then set them into hot water for a few minutes until they came to a full boil.
After boiling, they set the basket aside to drain a few minutes before pouring them into the cracker.

I found it very interesting that they boiled the pecans before cracking. They said it makes them crack better. I had never heard that in all our years of raising pecans.

The inside of the cracker. A motor turns the shaft and the beaters break open the nuts. It is amazing they leave the nuts whole.
The Pecan Man’s helper. The crackers are inside those wooden boxes. Large on the left, small on the right.

The pecan’s drop into the chute after they are cracked and take the elevator ride up to the sifter which separates most of the shells from the nut. I still will have to sort out the rest of the shells-every tiny little piece.

Cracked pecans coming out the chute.
Beautiful. The Pecan Man said the end yield is about 60%.
The trash!
I ended up with three of these boxes almost full. 65 pounds of nuts.

There are still pieces pf shells in the nuts and we will have to pick through them and clean out the trash. It was suggested to pour the nuts on a bath towel to sort out the trash from the nuts. The little pieces of shell will stick to the towel making it easier! Oh how sweet those little tidbits of info were! When I was cracking the nuts at home, we had a hard time getting them out as halves. I was amazed how big my halves looked!

They told me a true story, just in case I didn’t know! One person took their nuts home and made a pie just like you see them in the box! They discovered the horror of shells in their pie!!!

The Pecan Man’s waiting bench. It really did not take long. We were probably there an hour.
Jr. Etheridge the Pecan Man!

I enjoyed our short visit with these two guys. They were interesting characters and had a funny sense of humor. It was obvious they love what they do and their hangout was full of interesting signs.

It was obvious we were in Dale Earnhardt country.

Going home Donna got thinking and asked me how much these pecans ended up costing me. It was two hour, 20 minute ride one way so my gas bill was $39.00. He charges 50 cents a pound to crack. I also had to feed Donna! I figure they ended up costing me about $1.50 a pound. We had a fun day, I went home happy with 65 pounds of shelled nuts and I was saved a lot of work. It was so worth it and I will go back again next pecan harvest!

When Covid Hits Home

I guess it is time to write this post. I just didn’t have it in me to write earlier. Gene has Covid and has been really sick but I am so very grateful he is now improving. Here is our story….. it has been quite a trip.

This past Thursday Gene was admitted to St. Francis Hospital with pneumonia in both lungs and low oxygen levels due to Covid. We knew he had Covid, he was under a doctor’s care and had tested positive, but he just didn’t seem to be getting better. During the ten Covid days, he had two different rounds of antibiotics for the fluid in his lungs which was settling into pneumonia. It turned out he had viral pneumonia and the antibiotics were doing no good. He was running fever, coughing, had congestion, and no energy. They were trying to keep him out of the hospital. He was watching his oxygen levels and on Thursday morning it was 82. Under 90 is danger. It was time to be admitted to the hospital.

We have now experienced the current state of the art health care experience! After checking him in I had to leave. It is hard leaving when your man looks so rough. The staff was really nice and did their best but there were no rooms available. He spent Thursday morning until Saturday evening in his “suite” in the ER. That had its own challenges and was not pleasant but at least he did have medical care. The bed in the ER is not comfortable, there are no personal toilets, you are under the care of emergency care staff not experienced Covid professionals and there was almost no room for your personal belongings. Your personal stuff had to lay on your bed. He was tattered to the bed so trying to use a laptop or keep his phone charged was challenging. The ER is equipped for stabilizing emergencies and getting the patient into the hands of the proper medical professionals. By Thursday evening they had not given him anything to eat. His blood sugar spiked because of the steroids they were giving him and lack of food. I went to Arbys and got him two roast beef sandwiches and curly fries. They don’t normally feed patients in the ER and weren’t in any hurry to find him some! I slipped into the ER and asked the staff to give Gene my care package which they did. I was not allowed into the hospital so I could not stay with or help him. I mostly understand but hate the policy as it is so vital for a family member to help loved ones with their care. They need an advocate, encourager and someone to pick up the Gatorade that just fell off his bed or plug in the lap top to charge.

Finally, on Saturday evening he was given a room on the Covid floor. That was so much better. The nurses actually had answers to questions and were not evasive. They knew the symptoms they were looking for and what to do. They were reassuring and encouraging. His nurse said, “I have never lost a patient that was vaccinated. I have lost some who weren’t.” It was amazing how positive that statement sounded. Gene had his vaccinations.

This afternoon oxygen was delivered to the house and I got to bring him home. He has to quarantine for twenty-one days. We think most of that is to protect him because I do not have to quarantine any more.

Meanwhile, I was at home answering the phone, text messages, emails, and keeping the home fires burning. It is amazing how many extra small things I had to do or think about. Tim is having to adjust his time to feed the cows, Steve took calves to the livestock market and beef to Farmville to be butchered. Daughter Jill came to keep me company and be my moral support. We played “Splendor” and put several puzzles together.

Mom’s Pantry-1000 piece puzzle
Yoga Cats-1000 piece puzzle

The ironical thing is there are nine people in my immediate family that have Covid right now. None of our three families have been together.

Getting Covid leaves its own set of questions with few answers. All are affected differently, all have different symptoms even within family units. The vaccinated and unvaccinated, masked and unmasked, young and old all get it. Health status, gender or age does not seem to matter. And would you believe, it does not know the difference between a Republican and a Democrat!!! Was Gene’s serious case lessened because he was vaccinated? Why haven’t I gotten it from Gene? Now we wonder if the sinus congestion I had five days before he got sick was Covid. It is very suspicious, especially since I haven’t gotten it from him. If I did, no one else who was around me got it. We wonder why we have been sick more this winter than we have in years and years. Several weeks ago we both had a Covid scare but tested positive for Type A Flu. I was even vaccinated for the flu and pneumonia for the first time this year. Did they make a difference? In September I had Cough Asthma. I have never had Asthma. Why now? The questions are many and the answers are few. Who knows? Who knows?

There is one thing for which I am so grateful and that is a loving supportive family, friends and church family. When we are ill, we pray for one another. There is so much comfort and strength that comes from the care of other people. When Gene was admitted to the hospital our family and church was very concerned. Our church called for a time of prayer at 2 that afternoon for him. I was amazed how quickly that information spread and I heard from friends from all over Virginia and Pennsylvania and beyond who joined the call to pray. God hears, He knows even before we pray. Things don’t always work out the way we wish even when we pray, but that doesn’t mean God has turned a deaf ear. God tells us to bring our petitions, desires and needs to Him. Yahweh God, the great “I Am that I Am” is also the God Who Sees and Hears. (Genesis 16: 11-14)

In my devotions this year I am centering on names and attributes of God, Jesus, and their meaning. This week I have read the following script multiple times, soaking in the truth and reality of who God is. I reaffirmed my trust, faith and praise in the eternal God, my Heavenly Father. I expressed my desire for total healing for Gene. But if that was not to be, I said I would still trust, praise and have faith.

I can not claim authorship of this piece or even give credit to who wrote it, but I can claim its truth. I did find it on the Bible.org website; no author is attributed to it.

God is….

God is Lord Almighty, Omnipotent King, Lion of Judah, Rock of Ages, Prince of Peace, Kings of Kings, Lord of Lords, Provider, Protector, Paternal Leader, Ruling Lord and Reigning King of all the universe.

He is Father, Helper, Guardian, and God. He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End. He is the keeper of creation and the Creator of all He keeps. The architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.

He always was, is, and will be: Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone. He was bruised and brought healing. He was pierced and eased pain. He was persecuted and brought freedom, He was dead and brought life, He is risen and brings power. he reigns and brings peace.

The world can not understand Him, the armies can not defeat Him, the schools can not explain Him and the leaders can not ignore Him. Herod could not kill Him, the Pharisees could not confuse Him, the people could not hold Him! Negro could not crush Him, Hitler could not silence Him, the New Age can not replace Him and Donahue cannot explain Him away!

He is light, love, longevity, and Lord. He is goodness, kindness, gentleness, and God. He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure. His ways are right, His word is eternal, His will is unchanging, and His mind is on me! He is my Redeemer, He is my Savior, He is my guide, He is my peace, He is my joy, He is my comfort, He is my Lord and He rules my life.

I serve Him because His bond is love, His burden is light, and His goal for me is abundant life. I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the ancient of days, the ruler of rulers, the leader of leaders, the overseer of the overcomes, and the sovereign Lord of all that was, is, and is to come.

And if that seems impressive to you, try this for size. His goal is a relationship with ME! He will never leave me, forsake me, mislead me, forget me, overlook me, and never cancel my appointment in His appointment book!

When I fall, He lifts me up. When I fail, He forgives me. When I am weak, He is strong. When I am lost, He is the Way. When I am afraid, He is my courage. When I stumble, He steadies me. When I am hurt, He heals me. When I am broken, He mends me. When I am blind, He leads me. When I am hungry, He feeds me. When I face trials, He is with me. When I face persecution, He stills me. When I face problems, he comforts me. When I face loss, He provides for me. When I face death, he carries me home!

He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time, and in every way. He is God. He is faithful, I am His, and He is mine. My Father in heaven can whip the father of this world, and so, if you’re wondering why I feel so secure, understand this: He said, I believe it, and that settles it.

God is in control, I am on His side, and that means all is well with my soul.

Kat Rides in the Tractor

Gene went out to feed the cows and there was Kat sleeping on the tractor seat. Gene had left the back window part way open and she apparently scampered up the back tire and scouted out this thing that daddy seems to like to ride off in every day. Kat can be no where around but if Gene comes in and stops by the house in the tractor, Kat comes running. She knows she will get rubbed and fed.

During the day when the sun is shining, she likes to bask in the sun on the upstairs door stoop where she can scope out the land and watch what is happening on the farm and when her daddy comes home for lunch. She seems to be partial to high places!

Your Royal Highness!

Gene shut the window and took Kat on a ride with him to feed the cows. She looked out the window and messed around on the floor. When Gene opened the window so he could see to back up, Kat escaped and off she scampered on adventure.

After feeding the cows, Gene walked around checking on the cows. It wasn’t long until Kat came tip toeing back through the cow lot looking for him.

I wish I had pictures of Kat’s adventure, but I didn’t know about it until later.

The other adventures of Kat:

Kat On the Tin Roof
Kat On the Tin Roof-Part 2

Cornbread

This is a cornbread recipe you can’t stop eating!

I usually date the recipes I get from friends but I did not record that interesting info on my card. Years ago (probably in the late 80’s or early 90’s) we were invited to Peter and Jean Biehn’s home for supper one bitter cold, snowy, windy evening. It was all you could do to want to go out, but out we went. They lived in a big older style farm house in the village of Cartersville. The main heat in the house was a roaring fire in the fireplace. I remember it as being cold but the fellowship was wonderful and the food scrumptious. Jean fixed chili bean soup and cornbread for supper. I was never a fan of cornbread but that night I could not stop eating. I had to have that recipe! I have been a fan of cornbread ever since!

Jean shared it with me and I have been making it every winter ever since. It was worth going out to get that recipe. Thanks Jean. I think of you every time I make this recipe and your precious family.

Tonight I made beef stew and cornbread for supper. It is a cold night, but not like the night mentioned above. It was a wonderful, satisfying supper.

Print Recipe
The Best Cornbread Ever
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. 9"x13" rectangle cake pan (greased).
Servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Butter Cream sugar and softened butter together.
  • 2 Eggs Add one at a time and beat well.
  • 3 tsp Baking Powder Add
  • 1/2 tsp Salt Add
  • 1-1/2 ` cup cornmeal
  • 1-1/2 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 cup milk Add the cornmeal, flour and milk and beat until smoth.
Servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Butter Cream sugar and softened butter together.
  • 2 Eggs Add one at a time and beat well.
  • 3 tsp Baking Powder Add
  • 1/2 tsp Salt Add
  • 1-1/2 ` cup cornmeal
  • 1-1/2 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 cup milk Add the cornmeal, flour and milk and beat until smoth.
Instructions
  1. Half recipe will do an 8"x8" pan.

Puzzles: 2020-2021

I think I have become addicted to puzzles! For me they are not only fun, but also very relaxing. When I start one, I can hardly stop until it is put together. I have sleeked off to bed in the wee hours of the night quite a few times.

Let the fun begin!!!

Last year the ladies at church had a puzzle table where we all contributed our puzzles and shared them around. We had to have some kind of entertainment during covid!!! It was a lot of fun and we collected a significate amount of puzzles. This spring when it was time to move them out, I took them home and made a puzzle shelf in our store as most did not want their puzzles back. You can borrow a puzzle just like checking out a book in the library. Feel free to stop by the store and help yourself.

2021 Puzzles

This was a gorgeous picture when I finally got it done. It almost stumped me as there was too much birch tree!
General Store
Map of Virginia
Butterfilies
Farm Country Eggs

Ice-Cream Parlor
Flock of hens in barnyard

Cabin with water wheel
The Presidents
Horse and buggy with covered bridge and cows
Horse, barn and picket fence
Log Cabin

Puzzles from 2020

Shaped puzzle-Cabin with wild animals
Market with quilts and ducks
Valley Farm with Amish children
House on pond with geese and dogs-Sunset
Horse Farm
Sweet Corn and Summer Dreams

Kat Escapade #2

Kat has her own way of talking and it is distinct. This afternoon Summer heard the distressed “meow” that she knew was Kat’s help me call. Summer started searching and calling and Kat would answer “meow”. Finally Summer saw her in the big pine tree behind the electrical panel between the greenhouse and the store.

Kat how do you get yourself in such predicaments? Why do you like to explore high and unusual places?

We looked at her and she looked at us. We meowed to her and she meowed back to us. We told her she was going to have to find her own way down. She just looked at us with pathetic eyes. We called for help-Kat’s favorite.

Gene got a ladder and kept talking to her and coaxed her to jump down onto the roof. At least now she was where we could get her.

Kat is very independent. She disappears for a day or so and then shows back up, meowing loudly which means she is very hungry and wants food now. She loves Gene and he pets and pampers her. He is her buddy.

At first she played a little cat and mouse game.

She finally decided to give herself up and started inching her way to Gene.

This is the bigger view of where she was at. She was on that larger green branch hanging down.

The other adventures of Kat:

Pizza Supreme

I love a good pizza and I have made pizzas for years. Sometime ago I did some research on how to make a really good pizza. I think I have succeeded.

Print Recipe
Pizza Supreme
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Dough
Pizza toppings
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Dough
Pizza toppings
Instructions
Dough
  1. Cover the dough and let set 45 mins-1 hour. Roll out onto a pizza stone. Suggestion: You can make the dough several hours ahead and put it in the refrigerator. Makes it really nice coming home from church or home from work and the dough is ready to go! It will rise enough in the refrigerator that you do not need to let it rise more.
Pizza Toppings & Extras
  1. You can add any topping you choose and the amount you choose. Fried hamburger works instead of sausage but I like sausage better. Can use small chunks of ham, pepperoni slices, mushrooms, olives, etc.
  2. If you want you can cheese-filled dough, add adding string cheese around the outside edge of the dough. Stretch the dough out a little more and wrap it over the cheese and press to the dough to seal.
  3. Sometimes I also sprinkle garlic powder to the edge of the dough to add a little more zest to the crust.
  4. I used to put my mozzarella cheese on top of everything but that is not the way pizza restaurants do it. It is much better and much prettier and yes, better flavor to put the cheese on top of the sauce, then add the other ingredients.
  5. Bake in a hot oven. 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

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