Pioneer Potluck: Saying goodbye to summer flowers

  • Tuesday, September 17, 2019 9:44pm
  • Life

Not only the humans but the animals, birds, plants and trees are transforming right before our eyes. Sliding into fall has always been a pretty time but also sad, as I know what is around the corner about Halloween. Usually, that is when it turns cold and the little Halloweener kids have to put their costumes on over their heavy winter gear.

It is about time for me to dump the flower pots that my beautiful flowers grew in so perfectly this year. I usually wait until the last bloom is gone. The poor plant looks a little raggy but still has a few pretty blossoms on it. I pick the flowers, put it in my quart jar vase with water — joining the rest of the last blossoms of summer — and empty the pot, rinse and put away for next spring.

My flowers were extra pretty this year, thanks to the help of Susan and her magic thumb and Gail who came down along with Susan and Bralyn — 5-year-old great-grandson, gathering up the weeds and debris, carefully placing it in his favorite wagon that we have for such things, and pulling over to the dumping place and dumping it! He never gave up until the gals came off the hill and were done for the day. His sister on the other hand, 4-year-old Braleigh, was the goodwill ambassador, boss and supplier of water bottles. She mostly entertained Grandpa Bob or is it the other way around?

Seems like the geraniums are the last to stop blooming and I wish I could keep them all winter. Space luckily does not allow me to do so.

This is the very first year out of many I have had beautiful sweet peas blooming high on the wall of the woodshed and on the deck. They are a delight to watch bloom and smell. I guess if you ask me which flower is my favorite — my first choice is the sweet pea. But I would have to add the geranium, the rose, the lilies, purple petunias and other petunias and Johnny-jump-ups and yellow daisies.

We have a lilac tree that after 15 years bloomed its heart out this year. I have a cute little miniature lilac that bloomed well this year also.

Bob will be glad to hang up his weed-eater and put the lawn mower away. He kept the weeds around the outer edges of our large yard chopped down and the lawn groomed. We did hire to have it mowed for a few times while it was so hot, but otherwise Bob was the mower of the lawns.

We had a couple picnics with our great friends. Nothing completes the summer like a picnic!

We flew to Anchorage last week for three days, to have our eyes fixed at the Pacific Cataracts and Laser Institute. Bob had cataracts in both eyes removed and I had laser procedure to remove floaters, clouds and little dots from my eyes. IT WORKED! Took about two minutes! I cannot say enough for this well run Institute and the great professional people that work there. They are friendly, helpful and compassionate. Bob is recovering nicely, and I no longer chase imaginary flying objects in the air. We were treated so kindly. They even had a driver that picked us up at the hotel and took us to the doctor’s office or the airport. What a wonderful thoughtful thing to do for their patients! The driver’s name was Joe. He was friendly and efficient. AND he sure knew his way around town. Our driving days are over when it comes to driving to Anchorage, driving around Anchorage trying to find the location of our destinations. Anchorage has changed since I first drove around there in the late ’60s! Now we are home and getting things ready for winter.

Animals issue the warning that winter is on its way. Birds start flying south. Sure will help the birdseed cost. Squirrels squirrel away their winter cache. The little critters, mice, shrews, moles and weasels have their own way of getting ready for winter. I will expound on the larger animals at a different time!

A story comes to mind while we lived in Wasilla for a few years, in the late ’70s. We lived in a log house on Kink road. The poor house was built in sections and each section was sorta tacked on to the last addition, leaving cracks and holes for little critters to crawl in and out of anytime they liked!

Gail was asleep in one of the bedrooms, a sound sleeper, lying on her tummy with her hand hanging over the side of the bed. She was dreaming of bad things that go bump and tug in the night. She felt a nudge on her hand; she opened her eyes to see beady little black eyes looking back at her. Then there was a snarl and a hiss. It scared her so badly that she hissed right back at him! He ran a few feet, stood on his back feet and hunched over and got in the last hiss.

That was not the last of him! For a few weeks we could not figure out why the trash, especially butter wrappers, were scattered in the middle of the floor in the morning. AND why there were teeth marks on the butter or anything left uncovered (and sometimes covered) on the cupboard?

Susan had worked extra hard baking three very nice pumpkin pies as it was close to Thanksgiving. Next morning the middle of each pie was eaten out. First we thought it was old Bluebelle the blood hound but the teeth marks ruled her out! The mystery went unsolved and Susan baked three more pies and put them in the fridge.

A few days later Gail was sitting in the living room one morning watching TV. In comes the beady eyed unwelcome guest, checks out the trash, pulls out the butter wrapper, and licks it from corner to corner. Then he checks on our cupboards. By this time we were putting everything in the fridge to keep teeth marks off.

He scurried into the living room — Gail sat perfectly still to observe the nosy little critter. He checked out all the ash trays, all the cracks and crannies and then disappeared through one of the cracks for the day.

He showed up every morning after that. We got so we liked to watch him pull his little antics before going back to his hole in the wall. Gail convinced us he was not hurting anything and we should just let him be. OK, we said. UNTIL one morning I went to pick up a load of clothes that I had sorted to put in the washing machine. I leaned down to scooped up the load of clothes, filled my arms full and took one step when a white flash of “something” appeared, ran up my arm, down my back and disappeared. It happened so fast I never got off the scream that formed in the back of my throat. I put the hair back on my head and picked up the laundry that was now scattered all over the floor, but this time I picked up each one, shook it and placed it in the washing machine. I never scooped up a pile of laundry after that, it went one by one in the machine!

He was fun to watch, but not one to pick up — they hiss loudly and they do bite. Besides he turned from a brown-black color to pure white in the middle of winter. NOW, he was no longer a weasel, he was an ermine! Pretty too!

So enjoy these nice fall day — stay out in the sun as much as possible because cold will be here soon enough.

Please keep some of my relatives and friends suffering from illnesses, in your prayers. And thank you God for this wonderful country America!

THAI CHICKEN CURRY

1 14-ounce can light coconut milk

2 tablespoons red curry paste

2 teaspoons brown sugar

Kosher salt and pepper

8 small bone in chicken thighs — skin removed — you could use the turkey thighs also!

1 red pepper, cut in 1 ½-inch pieces

2 small sweet potatoes peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces (I used white potatoes)

1 ½ cup long grain white rice

1 cup frozen peas — thawed

1 teaspoon lime zest plus 3 tablespoons juice

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

Chopped fresh basil

In a 6-quart slow cooker, whisk the coconut milk, curry, brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the chicken and red pepper.

Scatter sweet potatoes over top and cook, covered about 5 to 6 hours on low.

20 minutes before serving, cook rice. Remove and discard bones from chicken. Gently fold in peas, lime zest and juice, soy sauce, cook until just heated through about 2 minutes. Serve on rice and sprinkle with basil.

LUSCIOUS LEMON CAKE

1⁄2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 1⁄4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup milk

1⁄2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

1⁄4 cup sugar

Cream together the shortening and sugar. Stir in the slightly beaten eggs. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir this mixture into the creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Add the walnuts and grated lemon rind. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour in a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Remove the bread from the oven and pierce surface with a small skewer or toothpick to make small holes. Combine the sugar and lemon juice. Pour over hot bread very slowly.

Serves: 9

Turtle Cake Recipe

1 box (1 pound, 2 ounces) German chocolate cake mix

1 package (14 ounces) caramels

1⁄2 cup butter

1 can (5.33 ounces) evaporated milk

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix cake according to directions on box. Pour half of batter into prepared 13×9-inch pan. Bake 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Melt caramels with butter and milk. Pour over cake.

Sprinkle pecans and chocolate chips over caramel layer.

Cover with rest of batter and bake at 350 degrees 15 to 20 minutes longer.

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