Archive for November, 2016

Jeopardy question: What is 11.9?

Answer: The average distance in miles between Dollar General stores located on Highway 65 between Conway, AR and Harrison, AR.  I’m sure we can all rest easier now, knowing that on this particular stretch of highway, given an average driving speed of 55 miles per hour, one is never more than (an average of) 12.6 minutes away from a Dollar General store.

Fried footwear

Either I inherited my mom’s less than optimal circulation or I developed that condition on my own, but in either case, during half of the year my hands and feet are often cold. In addition, various weathering investment to the contrary, our 104-year-old house with its 29 windows tends to be hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Furthermore, we’ve been running our furnace in the lower range of comfortable this fall, and all those facts combined have led to my choice to wear my wrist warmers when working at my desk.

I’m always looking to improve situations, and it occurred to me that those wrist warmers would be even more effective if I could get them  toasty warm – as in, fresh out of the dryer – right before I put them on. Hmmm. . . while I could heat them in the microwave, it’s down in the kitchen and our office is upstairs. It would be ideal to have a convenient way to periodically reheat them, but how could this be accomplished? We’d obviously need another, smaller microwave up in the office. Not an option.

But pondering this conundrum one day, I suddenly remembered that when we bought our camper, the previous owners had left in it a small microwave. Aha! (Note that I have always thought the idea of camping with a microwave is an oxymoron, but whatever.) We probably wouldn’t be using the camper again over the winter, so I had Andrew bring that little microwave up to the office, where it fits perfectly on the bottom level of our big bookshelf. Voila! Lusciously warm wrist warmers whenever I want them!

But some of us don’t leave well enough alone.

When I get into bed at this time of year, my feet are always cold, and so I will confess here in the presence of all my readers that I do, yea and verily, sleep wearing my favorite (although now beginning to fall apart) fleece-lined slippers. Yes, even with my bed heater on. And yes, I have tried socks, but they just aren’t comfortable for me. I am pragmatic; I do what works, and my slippers work. But wouldn’t it be absolutely delightful to WARM the slippers right before putting them on?!? I just had to give it a try.

For my wrist warmers, a minute and ten seconds is perfect, but the slippers are a bit more massive, so on my trial run one afternoon, I put them in (after carefully examining them and confirming that there’s no metal anywhere on them; we wouldn’t want to start a fire or anything) for a minute and a half, just enough time to run to the bathroom, which I did. And coming back into the office, I smelled something that indicated that Andrew was cooking something downstairs. . . What exactly was it?. . .  Maybe. . . popcorn? But, silly boy, he must’ve burnt it. Yes, he clearly did. Something was obviously burning. I was about to holler down to him some humorous comment about his cooking skills when I turned into the office doorway and saw – and smelled – smoke!

Smoke?!? How could this be? What on earth was on fire in the office? And then the light bulb in my brain came on. My slippers in the microwave! Oh, no! I opened up the micro and smoke poured out. The slippers were definitely toasty warm, but why the smoke? What was going on? The wrist warmers hadn’t gotten burned. What was up? Well, as I examined the slippers, the mystery was solved. No, they don’t have any metal, but each one does have one large, oblong wooden button on the side that hooks two elastic loops together to hold them on your feet, and – surprise, surprise – it seems that wood and microwaves don’t play well together.  = {  With wooden buttons tightly against the elastic loops, the buttons must have gotten so hot that they caught the loops on fire; hence the smoke. Those loops looked like charred string, and the wooden buttons that had been the color of an oak kitchen cabinet were black.

The slippers themselves are fine, although with no closures they do now tend to slide off my feet in the night. There is a residual burning smell each time I use the micro, but that is fading with time. My wrists are toasty and happy, and I – who do truly love to learn – have learned that, like metal, wood should never be placed in a microwave.

Moral of the story: when zapping slippers, proceed with caution, and do not leave microwave unattended.

All the tomatoes have been picked!

With an overnight forecast of 29 degrees, I decided I’m done tending tomatoes on the vine, so I picked them all (green) this morning, and this evening I boxed them all in the playroom to ripen. Feel free to remind me to check them every two days. Sometimes I forget or just don’t want to be bothered, and then they rot, but I want each and every one to ripen and be delicious! I didn’t count them, but I probably have about 200. Most are small (golf-ball sized), but I have one box of maybe 30 or so good-sized ones, including a few of Scott’s new favorite bicolor variety, Oaxacan Jewel.

While I was working with my tomatoes so much today, I gave the whole process some thought, and I realized that out of 52 weeks in a year, I will have about six weeks off from tomato duty this winter. I plant the seeds around Valentine’s Day, and then I’m watering them daily under lights in the attic, transplanting them once, and continuing the daily watering till I plant them outside around tax day. Then I tend them daily outside, which means means mulching, daily watering, fertilizing and/or spraying as needed, and finally daily harvesting(!!!) beginning in early to mid-July. That all continues daily till frost, and then once the green ones are picked and boxed, I check them frequently inside (when I remember) until they are all either eaten, given, or discarded, usually around the first of the year.

That means that every year I am dealing with tomatoes just about daily in one way or another from February 14 till December 31! And while I really like growing tomatoes and eating tomatoes and sharing tomatoes, the daily-ness of ten and-a-half MONTHS of tomato-tending is beginning to wear on me.

I think I will consider scaling back somewhat next year.

And yes, go ahead and laugh at and with me; that’s what I had thought I was doing this year!

As Gomer Pyle would say,

“Soo-PRAZZ, soo-PRAZZ, soo-PRAZZ!”

Katie moved from Charlottesville to her new (actually quite old) cottage in another town on Tuesday, November 1. I am quite certain she moved that day because once she was somewhat settled in and partially unpacked on Tuesday night, she sent me a panoramic photo of the interior of her new house. So very fun! I also knew she’d have several days off before starting her new job at Montpelier the next Monday, and she had told me she’d be using that time to shop for furniture, get things set up, and maybe take in a national park or two.

Wednesday night, I got home from church about 8:45. I walked into the dining room, and Katie was standing there!!! Looking at me and smiling. Or. . . was it just someone who looked a lot like Katie? I was so totally stunned!  How could she be here? She was in Virginia! Was she even real?!? And how on earth had she gotten here?!? I couldn’t believe it! I just stood there and cried.

She had driven 15 hours that day, having left home at the unheard-of hour of 6:00 AM. She drove all that way just to surprise us and spend three days with us. WOW!

We had so much fun together. On Thursday, she and I went exploring and took a delightful, all downhill walk on Reno Springs Road and Reno Hollow Road. We were so far out in the boonies that we covered parts of three counties, and in so doing found a deserted sheep ranch, a gorgeous yard with a suspension bridge out front, and a series of mystery pipes. Then we drove all over the place to figure out exactly where we had been and how the roads connected. (Robertses love to explore off the beaten path.)

That night, Andrew’s Team Extreme volleyball team won their match for us, and on Friday Katie and I hit EIGHT thrift stores in Branson, picking up various items for her house, after which she treated me to lunch at Wendy’s. It was a glorious time. That weekend we had missionary guests from the Philippines plus a Take the Challenge fundraising dinner at the home of one of our ministry board members. Katie was a great help to Scott in preparing various technical things for his presentation at the dinner (which was a super success). She was able to spend most of Saturday gallivanting about Springfield with Josiah, and we even managed to play one game of Beans and two games of Dominion, so I think it’s fair to say we maximized her three days with us. She drove back to Virginia on Sunday, thankful that the time change was in her favor.

It was great to have Katie home for a surprise visit, and although everyone who knows me well knows that I hate surprises, I loved this one! It was the best surprise I’ve ever experienced!


Team “No Consensus”

In the November 8th presidential election, the five registered voters in our family collectively cast one vote each for:






I’m not sure why, but this really makes me smile.

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