Archive for May, 2013

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday, while walking may laps back and forth over the bridge, I saw:

a snake,

a great blue heron,

a HUGE, two-tone turtle,

another snake (or maybe it was the same one),

and a small, black, baby turtle.

Today, during the same laps, all I saw was lots deep, raging, muddy water (creek nearly out of its bank on our side), racing along at some 15-20 mph, and carrying large branches with it.

This scenario tempted Scott beyond his ability to resist, so he and his friend Steve floated Bear Creek in the flood.  It was an adventure, to be sure.  We’ve been knowing that our fiberglass canoe really needs to be patched, so it always takes on water.  Today, with the waves breaking into it, it took on lots of water.  A canoe is terribly hard to maneuver with water in its bottom, so they had some challenges.  They also tipped, probably on more than one occasion.

The cellar is still dry, though, so all is well.

Master Plumber

Be it known to all, both far and near, that My Hero has, of his own volition, and being of sound mind and body, yea and verily replaced our kitchen faucet and sprayer and furthermore removed the remnants of the unbelievably nasty particle board shelf under the sink, and replaced said offensive matter with a truly lovely sheet of half-inch plywood.  (Pertaining to that plywood, it must further be noted that the cut-outs for the incoming water lines are perfectly sized and spaced.  Nothing was cut off twice, and nothing is still too short.)  We spousal units who value acts of service do officially feel deeply loved and cherished!

There was water on the floor

There was a small puddle in front of the stove sometime yesterday or early today.  I thought someone had just spilled or splashed and failed to clean it up.  No big deal.  A little water will evaporate.

Then this afternoon, we were about to play a game – the four of us – and Andrew went into the kitchen for something and commented, “Oh!  That floor is wet!”  This was a problem, because he was wearing only socks.  I glanced down, saw water on the floor in front of the stove, and thought it odd that someone spilled MORE water in exactly the SAME place.  Those boys really should be more careful.

Scott came in the kitchen and started looking around.  He was concerned that there might be a leak somewhere.  This, of course, would be totally illegal, as today is the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.  He looked around the sink and opened the cabinet door below it.  Aha!  The particle board shelf under there was bowed and fully saturated.  We won’t go into the history of that particle board. . .

Anyway, there was indeed a leak.

Water was dripping from somewhere down onto the particle board and then running somewhere and flowing across the kitchen floor.  This was not what we wanted to have happen.

We determined that the leak was not the sink.  It was somewhere on the incoming line.  I wasn’t sure if that was better news or worse, but we proceeded to play our game.  (The game warrants its own post!)

Afterwards, Scott went into major detective mode.  He figured out that the leak was actually near the nozzle of the sprayer hose.  As long as we left the sprayer hose down in the rinse sink, instead of up in its little sink hole, there was no drip when we turned on the faucet.  Well, that would be inconvenient, but workable.  However, the faucet, sprayer, sink, dispose-all, and counter are all in nasty shape and have been for many years.  He decided that since the leak was related to the faucet, as opposed to the sink, he would take the old faucet out and replace it.

With MUCH effort – because the faucet is very old, very encrusted with lime, and (in my opinion) very cheap, when he tried to turn the little plastic “wings” to loosen it, they all broke off.  He had to pry and muscle and crack the thing out.  It was nasty, to say the very least.

At 8:10 PM, we left for Lowe’s (20 minutes away), which would be closing at 9:00 PM.  The long and short of it was that we decided to just buy a new faucet and put it in the old sink for now.  Some day, we know we will have to re-do the whole kitchen, but that is NOT a project we were planning to tackle this weekend!  Of course, I had not given more than 10 minutes’ thought to what kind of faucet I wanted.  Shiny finish or brushed?  High arch or low?  Pull-out or not?  One hole or two or three?  Etc.  Standing there, I was completely overwhelmed.  I finally told Scott to pick one he thought would be good and I’d be fine with it.  And we both knew full well that there was only a smattering of truth to that statement.

We came home with one we both liked, but I was concerned that it would be too high.

Meanwhile, while we were gone, we had told the boys (even though it was officially Andrew’s clean up) to wash the supper dishes.  They were greasy and there were a bunch of them.  We had had grilled hot and spicy chicken and baked beans, so you can imagine the dishes.  Try doing that clean up with no faucet!  somehow they did it, though.  All the dishes were washed and draining when we got back.

And the faucet is too high.

And we think it will be smarter to replace the sink at the same time.

And the sink we think we liked best cost the most.

And we’ll need to replace the dispose-all (which won’t grind a whole long list of stuff and which I have to plunge excessively way too frequently), too.

And we’ll need to get a plumber.  And we assume we can’t do that until at least Tuesday.

And we’ll have to exchange the faucet, and pick out a sink.

And we’re hosting a birthday party here for Andrew on Monday.

With everything but the kitchen sink!

Mary, Mary, quite contrary. . .

I am so enjoying this year’s gardening.  I do have blossoms on several tomato plants, my cilantro (used to make Pioneer Woman DEE-licious Salsa) smells wonderful and is producing way more than I can use, and although my red pepper plants (started early in an attempt to have ripe fruit while Jessica’s here; although she’ll be here in July and last year they didn’t ripen till early October – sigh) are still for some reason tiny, my jalapeno peppers (also used in salsa) are growing rapidly.

Flower-wise, the big bed is going great guns.  My blanket flowers, which I started from seeds I scarfed  – with permission – from my neighbor Roaxanne’s yard are so very lovely.  They came back up this year in the big bed and in the watering can, and their orange/red/brown blooms are totally cheerful.

The delphiniums, which originally came from a packet of mixed flowering seeds some six or seven years ago, are tall and lacy and ready to produce great gobs of long, spiky purple flowers.  Several dahlias are pushing their way up, although they’re having to fight for sun among all the delphinium plants.  Three columbines are doing well; one has been blooming in soft pink for the past few weeks.  One of my hostas (which tend to get horribly chewed up by something or the other) is up, but it, too is buried under delphiniums and the leaves of our iris.  I always wonder if iris leaves should be cut back after the plants bloom.  Those big spikes tend to shade everything else all summer. . .

In the mailbox bed, I have been dutifully pulling HUNDREDS of tiny morning glory plants out of places where they don’t belong.  It only takes about ten plants right at the base of the mailboxes to totally cover them, and if I let those vines establish anywhere else in that bed, they totally strangle everything else!  I have plenty of four o’clocks coming up in both beds, and today I planted a small what I believe may be a azalea (dark green shiny leaves and small white flowers) in the mailbox bed.  It showed up at the Rendezvous – at least I think that’s where it came from.  I am thinking that one of our guests – was it you, Danette? – left it to bless us.  Anyway, we have it, and I decided I should put it in the ground somewhere.

In addition to all that, we now have a white dogwood tree planted beside the big bed, and yesterday Josiah obtained and planted a red maple back where the old zip line tree was.

I am enjoying growing things that will be delicious and/or beautiful!

Blossoms(?) and shells

I am pretty sure that the several little elongated, green things on a few of my tomato plants may actually be BLOSSOMS!  This is always an exciting part of the procedure, and  I am happy!

Also, beginning last Wednesday, May 15, I have seen a few TURTLES in the creek at the bridge.  These soft-shell turtles really make my day.  I haven’t seen them every day, but three or four times I have spied them – of varying sizes and colors, so there must be several around.  Turtles also make me very happy!

McDonald County scores well

Having decided that eight months has been quite long enough, Scott and I took a much-appreciated three days and two nights away this past weekend.  We tried to go to our favorite “Creek’s End” in Newton County, Arkansas, but they were already booked and we couldn’t flex on our dates.  Then Scott went into search and conquer mode to find us another place, and he came up with a house out in the boonies of McDonald County, Missouri.

Now, vacation rental homes are one thing about which we (especially Scott and Andrew) know a great deal, and while this home did include a couple of very nice water features – notably a Jacuzzi tub in the bedroom and a hot tub outside – and while it was located in a section of the country where the scenery does, we must admit, compare favorably with virtually-impossible-to-beat-outside-Colorado Newton County, we were significantly unimpressed with its layout and sundry lacks.

For one thing, you enter on the ground level into a hallway with a bedroom to the left (two double beds, plus two large closets housing a washer/dryer combo and the furnace and water heater) and a bathroom to the right (sink, toilet, and the world’s smallest shower stall; do NOT drop the soap!).  The rest of the house is all up a steep flight of stairs.  It’s nice to have a husband to haul luggage, various equipment, and groceries up those stairs while you scope the place, put things away, and generally act helpless and beautiful.

Upstairs, everything is open.  Ahead of you is a tiny round high table with four high chairs.  Behind you is the kitchen area (sink, fridge, stove, oven, and no cabinets).  To your left is a love seat and comfy chair facing a flat screen TV with DVD player.  Behind the TV is the queen bed, and across from that is the jacuzzi tub.  Note:  Many years ago I went to church with some Jacuzzis, who were actually close kin to THE Jacuzzis of jetted tub fame.

Anyway, it’s all just one open room with no dividing walls or doors.  Furthermore, throughout the house there are several large, low windows, and there is not one stitch of any type of window covering anywhere in the entire house!!!  It will be noted that in mid-May, the sun shines directly into the eyes of the person on the right side of the bed at approximately 8:18 AM – no alarm clock needed.

I am not an immaculate housekeeper by any stretch of the imagination, and my house is at some level perpetually dirty and dusty, but it’s not a vacation rental!!  We LIVE here.  Our vacation rentals are not dirty and never dusty.  This house would’ve kept Tara and Andrew busy all day.  The other odd thing was that nothing was supplied.  There was no salt and pepper, leftover dishes, ziplocs, foil, plastic wrap, drinking glasses, laundry soap, napkins flame thrower; in short, none of those nice little touches that make things easier and help you feel comfortable and welcome.

All that said, we enjoyed the area very much and we had a fun time.

Oddities of McDonald County that are yet to be fully understood include:

~ Mounted on numerous homes, there are large (several feet high) wooden cut-outs that resemble flying angels.  We don’t know what they mean or why they are there, but lots of people have them.

~ All land is privately owned and posted no trespassing.

~ Everyone and his dog owns a PRIVATE (no trespassing) campground and canoe rental service for either Big Sugar Creek or Elk River, or maybe both.

~ The sheriff’s office is inside Wal-Mart in Jane!  No joke.

A bonus for this trip was that we were able to drive around not one, not two, but THREE town squares:  Pineville in McDonald County, Cassville in Barry County, and Galena in Stone County.  Pineville was the best.

The former rain and the latter rain

We think this is the 14th year that Scott has played softball on Thursday nights.  Going to his games and cheering on the Promise Keepers is a Thursday night family tradition.  Now for the first time in 14 years, I am sad to say that I have not been able to be a regular fan at his games, because the Branson Chamber Singers (BCS) are rehearsing on Thursday nights through June 20th, and the softball season runs April 11 – June 13.

Not to worry; at least Andrew could still go to the games.  This is, until a couple of his teen friends from the homeschool choir joined BCS and urged him to do the same. . . which he did.  That’s really neat to me.  We’re working on Gabriel Faure’s Requiem, an almost 30-page, beautiful work, in Latin.  I’m thrilled that Andrew gets to work with an outstanding director and a bunch of great adults who are enjoying singing serious music.  That’s a rare and valuable opportunity for a 13 year-old!

But it means no one can fully attend any of his games.  Scott’s games are at 6:30, 7:30, or 8:30, lasting about an hour.  Choir rehearsal is 7:00 – 9:00.  The only way we can see him play is to try catch the first few minutes of a 6:30 game, or the last few of an 8:30 game.  = (

However, if weather prevents a game from being played, that game gets added on to the end of the season.  So far, it has rained hard enough and long enough on FOUR of the past six Thursdays to cause those games to be canceled.  This means that those games will be added on to the season, beginning June 20, which means there will be softball games during July. . . when ALL THE KIDS ARE HOME!!!

Scott is bummed about the rain keeping them from playing, but I choose to view it as God’s mercy for the most loyal PK fans.   = )

The big mow

This week was our life group’s turn to clean and mow the church.  Right now, there are only two families attending our group, so that limits the pool of people from which to draw for these kinds of things.  We (Shane, his wife, Georgie, and Andrew and I) had originally planned to meet do the cleaning and mowing on Saturday, but due to some scheduling changes, we all agreed that Thursday would work better.  We planned to meet at the church at 9 AM Thursday to clean and mow.  Rain was expected, and if it interfered, we’d move the mowing part to Friday.

Well, by 10:00 AM, we had done all the cleaning, and it had been raining, but when the rain stopped, Shane went out to the shed to see which mower(s) were there and what state they were in.  Turns out both the church’s rider and push mower were in the state of Missouri, but that was about all.  The rider has been giving people lots of trouble – hard to start, super difficult to keep running – for YEARS, and right now it has two flat tires and a dead battery, to boot.  We knew we’d need to bring either Shane’s rider or ours, or both.

The church’s push mower was another story.  Shane worked on it for about 20 minutes, and FINALLY got it going.  Yay!  That would certainly help, and it would mean we could just bring one other push mower.  Unfortunately, right now our family has no way to haul any mowers, so Shane said they’d come back by the house around 12:30 (once they got their own rider working), pick up our equipment, and head back to the church to mow.

Now, I generally don’t mow, and I’ve never used a rider.  I can mow with a push mower and I can weed-eat, but I’m generally not even strong enough to get them started.  Mowing is why we have kids.  For about the past 12 or 13 years, the kids have handled all the mowing, and Scott has overseen all the never-ending mower repairs.  I was planning for Andrew to ride back to the church with Shane, but – even though the neighbor on the uphill side had graciously mowed the right-hand side all the way to the parking lot (WHAT a blessing!) – when I realized that there would still be a heckuva lot of grass to mow and only Shane and Andrew to do it.  Normally, Andrew being gone forever wouldn’t be a problem, but that evening it would, because Andrew would need to shower, eat, and get to choir practice by 7 PM.

Georgie called and we talked about whether we two ladies were going to stay home or go help the menfolk.  We decided we’d both go.  Little did I know what that decision would involve!

Meanwhile, I had sent Andrew out to get our rider, push mower, weedeater, and gas cans prepped and moved down near the street, to facilitate loading when Shane and Georgie arrived.  I saw him out there riding the rider down the driveway, but a few minutes later, he came into the office, very, very frustrated.  It seems that a few seconds after I saw him, the belt came off (for at least the fourth time – sigh).  Last year he had to pay $100 to get it back on ($50 for them to pick up and deliver and $50 for the actual repair).  He informed me in no uncertain terms that he would NOT push the church, and he would NOT push our yard, which also happens to need mowing.  He called Scott, who said we’d talk when he got home.  Well, that’s fine, but it didn’t help with our afternoon church mowing project.  Andrew called Shane and explained the problem.  Shane said he’d either get his running or ours running.  (Shane works as a mechanic for the highway department and he can fix just about anything.)

So, we all trundled back up to the church with these resources:

~ Shane’s rider

~ Shane’s self propelled (ahhh!!!) push mower

~ Shane’s gas, of both kinds

~ our push mower

~ our weedeater

Georgie set off riding, I used Shane’s push mower (it’s kind of like a dog pulling a leash; quite fun), he used our push mower, and Andrew weed-eated.  Thankfully, the weather was cool, and the clouds came and went, so we weren’t miserable, but even with that enormous right-hand section pre-mowed, it was definitely a massive amount of turf.  We all four worked steadily for three hours and then decided to call it quits.  One very high section had not yet been mowed this season, and we went over it two and-a-half times.  It’s still not all shaved down, but it’s a lot better than it was, and it’s not noticeable unless you take a hike to go look at it.

We were all pretty bushed by the time we loaded up and headed out.

Then that evening, Pastor Guy called Scott.  Knowing that the church’s rider was shot, he and his wife had decided to just hire their own yard done this year, and bring their own rider up and leave it at the church.  We knew that that was the plan, but that hadn’t yet happened, which is why Shane brought his rider for use that day.

But Pastor Guy told us that he HAD brought his rider to the church.  Around noon.  (In between the time we left after cleaning at 10:30 AM and returned to mow at 1:00 PM.)  Obviously the shed was full with the church’s dead rider, so he couldn’t put his in there, so he had left it IN THE CHURCH, over behind the curtain that sections off and hides the tiled “dining” area from the carpeted sanctuary.  It had, of course, never occurred to any of us to go look behind the curtain for an extra riding mower, and Pastor Guy had not called Scott during the day to tell him, because he didn’t want to disturb Scott at work, and he had understood that our group was going to mow on either Friday or Saturday, which had been the plan.

We had a good laugh out of that, and I got a great work-out with all that push mowing.  But I don’t want to do it again any time soon.

Moral of Story:  Communication is important, and. . . you never know what might be lurking behind a curtain at church!

Cheers and Tears

Friday, May 3, 2013 was a notable day.

First of all, while I was walking that morning in a cold, misty, light rain, no fewer than SIX eastbound cars passed with with snow on their hoods.  We all know that when there is snow on something and it rains, the rains melts or washes the snow away, so therefore, these cars could not have come from far away.  They couldn’t have, for instance, been snowed on in Springfield (which is MUCH farther north than we are – not!) and then driven down here.  They had to have been snowed on relatively close to our house.  Velly intellesting.

An hour later, a friend who works in Branson texted me that it was snowing big, wet flakes.

And then, an hour after that, it started snowing here!!!  Yes, on the 3rd of May!  And it came down heavily for a while and lightly for parts of two hours!  And the flakes were huge and wet, and none of them stuck, but I was giddy!!!

Around noon the mail came, and included in that pile was a letter addressed to Andrew from the School of the Ozarks.  It was a form letter – a very kind, nicely worded form letter – telling him that he had not been accepted to the School.  They had many fine applicants who wrote many great essays, etc., etc., but the bottom line is that he will not be attending 9th grade there.

Andrew was happy, and I was sad.  While holding his crying wife, Scott said, “But if it had gone the other way, you would have been crying!”  Truly spoken.

I had vacillated between wondering what on earth I would do all day if Andrew went to school and thinking how freeing it would be to have several hours each day to do whatever I wanted or needed to do.  While I do love the homeschooling lifestyle, the relentlessness of academic planning does become wearying at times.  Thinking that I might only have that full responsibility for four more months has now been replaced by realizing that I will probably have it for four more years.

More could be said, but I think I will stop here.  The snow was a blessed smile from God, and his grace is sufficient for me as I work through what this specific rejection means.  I am encouraged!

P.S.  It looks like most, and maybe all, of my tomatoes survived the snow!

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