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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Class for You




I've often been asked how I find so many classes/workshops to go to.  It's all in learning where to look and remembering to check back with places that have offered classes in the past.

For example... if you are interested in gardening of any sort the first place to look for workshops is at your local Agricultural Extension office and with the local Master Gardeners group.  Both can be found by a web search.  Then look over the sites to see if they offer classes.  An email or call would be a good idea too.  

That is exactly how I came upon a multi class gardening clinic we went to last Saturday.  For $10 you got lectures in lasagna gardening, water gardening, 2 liter gardening, irrigation, herbs, and blueberries.  Plus some freebies and lunch.  Not bad.

Other places to look are in your local newspaper's community section, at local museums,  the bulletin board at specialty grocery stores, and at all hobby type stores.  Facebook will often 'pop up' local events.  Even if you're not interested in the particular one, you can use it as a jumping off point to find others.  There's usually a "see similar events" (or some such wording) that you can click on.

With just a little looking around, you can find so much to do!



Monday, May 2, 2016

An Award for Himself

In late February Himself entered one of his writings in an Extension writing contest.  His piece was in the 'memoirs' category.  It tells the story of Grace, a Maasai woman we met in Kenya.

A couple of weeks ago he received notice that he had won second place in the competition!




‘A Woman Named Grace’


Sometimes things happen that one can’t anticipate.  This happened to my wife Teri and me at a most unusual time – broken down alongside a road on the savanna of Kenya, Africa.  Actually, we weren’t even on a road; we were in the middle of nowhere in some semi-desert scrub land in the Rift Valley of Kenya on our way to meet a Maasai child that we sponsored thru Compassion International.    In the more remote places in Kenya, you don’t drive on a road – you just drive.  And it usually isn’t you driving - you are driven by a Kenyan assigned to a vehicle who seems to know where he is going...at least in theory.  (Good thing he knew – I swear we passed the same anthill or wildebeest herd a dozen times!)

Driving along the bumpiest terrain I’ve experienced, we rode in our Land Rover hanging on tight.  Too dry for mosquitoes, the land was prime for dust and no matter how clean you started out, you arrived at your destination dusty.  Not that ‘your’ sponsor family would notice – they live literally in the sticks.  Their African huts were made of sticks, grasses, ashes and cow dung.  (In some of the drier areas you can’t even get mud...hence sticky cow dung which helps hold things together.)

Besides our driver we had a Compassion rep named Jim and a tag-along older man named Moses.  Though a native Kenyan, Moses was a city boy who had never been ‘out there’ in the wild of Kenyan countryside.   Indicating that he wanted to go, he stated that “it was like being on vacation” being out in the wilds at the bottom of the Rift Valley!  All we had been requested to do was to pay Moses’ daily wage of $7 for his usage from his usual employer.  We gladly did that.

Somewhere along the way we broke down.  Great...  Don’t recall just what went wrong but soon there were Kenyan behinds sticking out from under the vehicle - all of them saying the Swahili word for “Hmmm...”  Not a good sign.  Teri and I?  We found an acacia tree to sit under to get out of the sun. Once cooled off we would wander around looking at exotic rocks, plants, and things that slithered.  Then, raising our gaze from the ground, off in the distance we saw a small family settlement called a ‘boma’ - an enclosed camp of Maasai natives and their animals.  (Maasai families slept with some of their animals right in their hut.)  From this boma we would occasionally see wide-eyed curious kids, but they mainly stayed hidden and would not come near us.

Running out of things to look at, I fished out a soccer ball we were to give our Maasai child, ‘Ntikoisa’.  Compassion rep Jim was all for booting it around with me because one, soccer was popular for these people and two, he was as bored as I.  A city boy also, he left fixing the vehicle to Moses and the driver who were still going, “Hmmm...”  Teri?  She watched us for a moment...and then her eyebrows started going up – which is ‘hmmm...’ for her.  Why?  Because every bush around had thorns.  Informed by Teri that, ‘If ONE thorn punctures this soccer ball, an American AND a Kenyan would be in trouble’, Jim looked between Teri and me.  Recognizing the universal sign of ‘woman-with-hands-on-hips’ as trouble brewing...the soccer ball was soon put up!

Eventually Teri noticed a Maasai woman slowly approaching our disabled Rover from the boma compound.  This woman had been slowly walking back and forth for some time, finally stopping a good distance away while watching us intently.  Teri watched her just as intently.  Then Teri waved.  That’s all it took and soon she and her infant son were over to visit.   Just then help arrived from the nearest village along with the headmaster of the Compassion center and this headmaster soon found himself translating as these two woman from two different worlds...shared.

This Maasai lady explained that she’d seen our crippled Land Rover and had felt helpless to do anything to assist us.  Initially seeing only men from a distance she was afraid to approach.  She then explained that she had done the only thing she could think of – she prayed for us.  However, when she saw Teri wave and realized there was a woman with the group, she felt it safe for her to come over.

These two women talked of families, children (including baby strapped to her side), goats and husbands.  Too soon the village mechanic had the Rover fixed and it was time to move on but before we left this woman removed a beautiful beaded bracelet from her arm and, catching Teri by the hand, slipped it onto Teri’s arm with the words, “Remember me”.  With the same words in return Teri removed a bracelet that she had made back home in America and gave it to this woman.

As we drove off this Maasai lady – full of poise and grace, waved goodbye.  This woman’s name?  Grace.    A woman named Grace.

Fitting.





Sunday, May 1, 2016

Diving Back In To Photography

Did you know that May is National Photography Month?

Very appropriate for me, as I have just returned as a member to the photography club I used to be in.  I left Friends of Photography a couple years after we moved out to The Sticks.  I was just so busy and something had to give for a while.  I'm excited to be back and it looks like it is going to be a busy fun ride!  There is a monthly inter-club photo contest, a sales venue all summer at the bustling weekend Farmer's Market, and a club show in June at Silkie's restaurant, one of the local artsy places.


Not that I've put my camera down during my hiatus from the group...

I've continued to add to my portfolio...









I've been entering contests with good results...





And I even had a private show during one of the downtown 'Art Walk Thursdays'.




But with all that, I'm so looking forward to get back into my group.  There's something special about being with people who enjoy the same things you do.



Friday, April 29, 2016

"Oh To Live By The Sea" - an exhibit of hooked rugs

The local museum recently had an exhibit of beautiful hooked rugs.  The description of the exhibit drew me in - "This traveling exhibit features hook rugs by various artists, all with an ocean theme. Inspired by the last line of the poem “Sea Joy” by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, “Oh—To live by the sea is my only wish,” these works range from traditional representations of lobster shacks, fishing boats, sea gulls and beach vacations to more abstract representations of sea, sky, shells and sand." 

We weren't disappointed.


Can you hear the waves?


Loved this one.


Himself's favorite.


How cool!  A mixed media hooked rug.


In this one, the even the stones and shells are made of fabric.


Wow.






Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Seriously? Chicken "Paws"?

Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Definition of PAW

1. the foot of a quadruped (such as a lion or dog) that has claws.


OK.... since when has a chicken become a four legged beast?  

Maybe it is a rare breed and that is why it costs so much.  (Around here bone-in chicken breast cost $1.99 a pound.  Bony meatless chicken feet cost $1.64 a pound??)


Really?


Monday, April 25, 2016

"Lessons from The Quilt" by Bev Blackard... and illustrated by ME!

I can finally talk about a project that I worked on at the beginning of the year.  My friend Bev (aka Mama Nick) has published a Christian inspirational book and she asked me to do the photography for it.  "Lessons from The Quilt" is a delightful book that would be enjoyed so much by quilters, as well as those who like gentle inspirational stories.


The publishing company used a tight close up of her quilt for the cover.


A little bit about the book and Bev...


I think it is a lovely idea for a priceless heirloom.


Bev shares her thoughts as she went through the creative process of designing her heirloom.


And also her thoughts about the Lord and how He is so like a quilter as He shapes and designs our lives.


Not only did I do the photography of Bev's items, many of my personal photos are used to illustrate the text.  SO cool to see them in a book!


It can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, or you can do a Google search to make an order.



Saturday, April 23, 2016

Travel Trinket: A Winning Necklace

In 2002 Mom and I did a trip down the Natchez Trace.  We left on my birthday... which is in JULY.  Oh it was hot!  (Note to self:  next time do a Southern road trip in the Spring or Autumn.)

In spite of the heat...and the humidity...and the bugs we had a fantastic time.

Our first 'rule' was if either of us wanted to stop, we stopped.  There was no schedule.  When we were tired for the day, we found the nearest hotel and left when we felt like it the next morning.

Once we made it to Natchez we found the best hotel deal was at the Isle of Capri casino hotel.  We got 3 nights cheaply, free breakfasts, tons of coupons for Natchez attractions, and each a $20 voucher to spend at the casino.

Well alrighty then!

We had a blast.  Toured all around Natchez in the day, headed across the road to the casino in the evening for a cheap casino supper, and put our voucher to work.  I put my tokens in one cup and headed over to the .50c slots.  All winnings went into my second cup.

By the end of our time in Natchez I had my $20 back and enough 'coin' to buy myself a trinket I had admired at a shop earlier in our visit...


I smile every time I wear it, remembering a great Mother/Daughter trip.



Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ham and Potato Hotdish




HAM & POTATO BAKE

1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 T. butter or margarine
1 T. Flour
1/2 t. salt
2/3 cup milk
1 cup Velveeta cheese, shredded
2 t. yellow mustard
1 ½ cups chopped ham (or 4-5 hotdogs)
5 med. potatoes, cooked and sliced thickly

In small saucepan, cook onion in butter until tender but not brown.  Blend in flour and salt.  Add milk all at once, cook & stir over medium heat til thickened and bubbly.  Add shredded cheese, stirring to melt.  Stir in mustard.  Fold in hot dogs and potatoes.  Turn into a 1 qt casserole.  Cover and bake in 350 oven about 35 minutes or til heated thru.

Notes:
I usually skip the oven part.  It's plenty hot coming off the stove!  However, the browning from being baked is very tasty.

Also, this is a recipe of proportions.  There's nothing 'set in stone' so if you need more just increase it.  Want it cheesier?  Add more cheese.  This is a stick to the ribs comfort food - and is great for feeding teenage boys!




Tuesday, April 19, 2016

To 'Run as One'


On Saturday I walked 2.2 miles for a very special reason.  


I walked "as one" as a member of Team Red, White, and Blue (http://www.teamrwb.org/our-approach/mission), which in turn was walking with Team Rubicon (http://www.teamrubiconusa.org/story-of-team-rubicon/) and The Mission Continues (https://www.missioncontinues.org/about/history/ ).

People were running and walking all over the US, probably all over the world.


We went past 22 of these signs.

It is said that every day approximately twenty two veterans commit suicide.  Pretty much think of it this way; every time you hear a clock chime the hour (actually about every 65 miutes) a veteran dies by his/her own hand.

We were walking in memory of Marine Clay Hunt and many others.  We were walking in honor of nameless Vets who are struggling with PTS, depression, and injuries of war.

Some were out there who are in the struggle.

We walked to remember and to raise funds for programs to try to help our vets.


We gathered and prayed.



And then we ran and walked.


The trail was suitable for runners (some who did the route several times) and for walkers; including those who brought their families and dogs.

It was a beautiful day.