Monthly Archives: September 2011

Hearing Elephants

I heard an elephant last night.

No – seriously – I’m not crazy.  I was sitting on my back step and heard an elephant, a lion, and some unknown wild bird.

And I’m not the only one. Pedro heard it first. I told him it was probably just the guineas at the Amish neighbor’s. But there it was again – an African safari in our barn yard.

Jan heard it. Angel Girl heard it. Buddy heard it. I heard it.

Maybe we’re all crazy?! Can eating too many ears of fresh sweet corn cause one to hear strange noises?!

No, of course not. We really heard it and we have a sneaking suspicion we know where it’s coming from.

Are you ready for this – (lowers voice to a whisper) – our Amish neighbors.

Yes – I’m serious. You remember these neighbors – the ones with the train horn that they blow at all hours.

Those Amish.

We think they may have – (lowers voice to a whisper) – a hidden tape player.

Or a CD player, or a record player.

They have something that they’re playing -probably battery operated – and this isn’t our only evidence.

A while back when my friend Kimmer was here to visit with her kiddos, we all heard what sounded like an auctioneer practicing- and it was coming from their house.

We knew there wasn’t an auction for miles.

Mystified, we jumped in her pick-up (so they wouldn’t recognize our vehicle) and drove slowly up the road – checking out their property without looking like we were checking out their property.

The place looked deserted and the sound disappeared when we got closer. It started again later when we got back at home. It sounded just like it was coming from their back building.

Very suspicious.

Now – some time later – we hear the sounds of a safari coming from the very same location.

They have to be hiding something back there.

Unless of course – they actually have an elephant in there – and a lion – and some strange bird – and an auctioneer.  Which sounds more like the plot of a crazy 1960 Disney movie.

No – I’m thinking they have something hidden back there – and sooner or later we’ll discover just what it is.

I’ll keep you posted.

Stay tuned…

Fresh Salsa Memories

SalsaMy family has it’s share of traditions – some crazy, some fun, and some tasty.

Fresh salsa is one of our most addicting tasty ones.

Every year we gather at my parent’s house Labor Day weekend for an early Christmas.

And since my folks, sisters and I all have gardens, every year we bring whatever happens  to be producing at that time.

Tomatoes and peppers dominate.

So the fresh salsa tradition began. Every morning as the breakfast dishes are cleared, someone starts chopping for that day’s batch.

The recipe is simple – chopped tomatoes, chopped green peppers, chopped onions, chopped garlic. A little vinegar, or lime juice or lemon juice, some cilantro, salt and pepper and you’re done.

The proportions depend on the chef and the produce available. Once the ingredients are mixed, we all grab a chip and sample. A little more cilantro. Too many peppers, add a few more tomatoes.  Maybe a touch more salt.  Several samples later – we declare it perfect!

This tradition – however –  is not without it’s controversies.

Personally – I don’t need any extra sugar in my diet or my salsa- but my sister Sandy does. Whenever I made the salsa – she would always try to slip some sugar in it when I wasn’t looking.  I finally decided that if having sugar in her salsa was that important – she could make it the way she wanted.

She’s been doing a lot chopping ever since! 😉

Then, we discovered this trip that there were <gasp> certain members in the family who didn’t care for the taste of cilantro in their salsa.

I know it’s shocking – but true.

So Sandy made two bowls – one with for those of us with refined and discerning taste buds who appreciate the robust and wonderful taste of cilantro and one for the poor souls who don’t understand what they are  missing.

But the most shocking controversy is that of the missing salsa. One morning a few years back, we had made our daily bowl of salsa, Sandy had slipped her extra sugar in, and we left it on the counter while we “aunts” all headed out to the thrift store with Nana.

When we returned the bowl was empty, save for a stray onion bit floating in a little juice in the bottom!

Horrors! Our daily bowl of salsa was gone! All of  our efforts – the chopping, mixing and tasting were for naught.

The “aunts” were not happy.

All fingers pointed to little Lydia, my three-year-old niece who was sitting at the counter on her daddy’s lap with an empty bowl of salsa in front of them.

Lydia ate that entire large bowl of salsa? How could she – she’s only three years old?!

She had to have had help. There was someone sitting in that room with a bad case of salsa breath and a guilty conscience.

We all have our suspicions on who her accomplice was – but the culprit was never punished for his crime.

While we continue to wait for a full confession – we have learned to never leave our salsa unattended. 🙂

Fresh salsa is just one of those traditions that we take seriously. Very seriously. 😉

Leaving the Nest

flying the coopToday my firstborn flew the coop.

I knew this would happen eventually and I must admit that I even dreaded it a little – but it was a surprisingly blessed event.

But really – how could it be anything else?

After months of prayer and seeking what God would have him do, Matt decided the first of August to apply for Summit Semester – an intensive 3 month study program in the mountains of Colorado fashioned after Francis Schaeffer’s L’Abri in Switzerland.

After a whirlwind of applications, references and interviews – he was accepted and the money he needed was provided.

In the span of 3 weeks, God opened the door and Matt was so excited to walk through!

We had very little time to figure out how to get him out there, what to pack (just how many bars of soap does one need for 3 months – assuming you actually shower?), and how to tie up the loose ends (like Matt’s on-line business.)

But in the end all the details worked themselves out.

He took off this morning, heading west on the adventure of a lifetime!

Will we miss him? Oh yes. We already do – although his siblings are in heated discussions about who gets his room! 😉

But we are so excited for him!

What will he do when the three months are over? Good question. I wish I knew the answer. But God didn’t give Matt a 5-year plan – just enough light for the next step.

But then – that’s all we really need.

Just walking in faith – one step at a time.

Go with God son. We’re proud of you. And we’re praying.

A Labor Day Tribute

a labor day tributeWe said good-bye to a friend and neighbor this weekend.

As I sat in her memorial service and watched slide after slide of her life flash by on the screen and listened to friends and family share stories – I remembered again why I respected Kathy so much.

She did the right thing – even when it was hard.

Years ago she saw that her only granddaughter was in an abusive situation and she stepped in.

She voluntarily took on a very needy 3 year old and loved her.

While other ladies her age were taking trips – she was potty training.

While others had extra spending money – Kathy was paying for new shoes, new glasses and new clothes.

While others enjoyed Bingo and club meetings – she was helping with 4H projects and figuring out how to home school.

She took that little girl from a neglected toddler, through childhood, adolescence and the teen years.

She invested her time, her resources, her life into that young child.

I saw that little girl at the service. Becky is now in her twenties and finishing up college – a poised, mature and beautiful young lady with a strong faith,  her grandma’s big smile, her love of life and that same mischievous twinkle in her eye.

Kathy invested her life in what was most important and the dividends are eternal.

It makes me wonder if I’m that willing to do the hard thing?  I want to labor for the Lord – but am I willing to get my hands dirty? Am I willing to give up my time? My home? My money? My plans?

I’d like to honor Kathy’s memory this Labor Day.

Her task was not easy, but she was faithful and her work was not in vain.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” I Corinthians 15:58


So – How DO You Know When a Watermelon is Ripe?

how do know when a watermelon is ripeWe enjoyed our second – and final – watermelon from the garden last night.

Trust me – I sighed a big sigh of relief when I saw that it was ripe and had not yet gone to sugar!

So how did I know when to pick it?

I followed my friend Martha’s example – I thumped it. 🙂

Now I’ve thumped many a grocery store melon pretending to know what I was doing – in hopes of bringing home a good one. But they all sounded the same.

So when Martha thumped my first melon and proclaimed it done – I thumped it too. Then I thumped this melon that was smaller. I could hear the difference. The ripe melon sounded hollow – or full of water and echo-ey. The non-ripe melon sounded dull and full.

The reason I could never hear the difference in the grocery store melons was because all of those melons were ripe. I was trying to thump them to find a good tasting one – which doesn’t work.

I’ve been thumping this guy for more than a week now – just waiting for that hollow – echo-ey sound.

The stem was still green and attached and the bottom of the melon still looked white – but I heard that echo, so I picked it. Thankfully it was ripe and tasty. The thump test worked again!

So am I now a  “thumping” expert? Not even close!

Right now I’m just wishing for a few more watermelons on my plants so I can practice my newly-discovered knowledge!

Happy thumping!