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Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Lowly Scrubbie

Some time ago, I submitted an article about thin green nylon scrub pads to a women's magazine and never heard a word back. I supposed that everyone else in the world has discovered how handy these can be (especially since they are sometimes hard to find) but perhaps there is one person out there who hasn't.

While attending a quaint old country church I noticed black scuff marks on the finished wooden floors. Going back later, I easily lifted off the marks by rubbing gently with a stiff scrubbing sheet.

Scrubbies are useful for exfoliating heels and soles of the feet after a shower or bath. (You could dampen a scrubbie and use a light touch on moistened elbows and face, followed by lotion or cream.)

To open a stubborn jar or turn a tight faucet, these pads grip almost as well as a rubber gasket.

My most recent discovery occurred after washing a black fleece cap and finding lint clinging to it afterwards. Brushing the damp surface with the green scrub pad removed the lint and restored it to almost new condition. This might or might not work on sweaters that have "pilled."

I cut each 4" x 6" sheet in half, then in half again to get maximum mileage out of these useful little scrubbers. Let me know if you have any other uses for them.


Okay, I admit it, I have a box fetish. Well, maybe not exactly a fetish, but- I hate to see a clean, sturdy box go to waste. When I'm in the grocery store, I would rather shop with a box on my arm than push around a rolling (screeching, sticking) cart. If an item doesn't fit in the box, I don't buy it. Often halfway through a quick trip to the store, I have to pick up an empty box (from a bottom shelf or stock clerk's pile) because I'm gathering more than I can carry. (I was so sure I wouldn't need a cart).

My significant other becomes nervous when I pick up a box at a store. "You can't take that box home!" I am warned. Is there concern that I might turn my living space into a warehouse???

A clean box can be re-used for many things. Long narrow boxes like shoe boxes make good dresser drawer organizers for socks, etc. Empty envelope boxes nicely hold greeting cards that I intend to send to family and friends someday. Sturdy boxes stacked on on their sides are a substitute for book shelves where there is a furniture shortage. Arranged similarly by the entry way, they may hold boots and sneakers neatly. On that top shelf of a closet, open boxes on their sides will keep stacked sweaters or folded slacks from falling down.

If one is creative, tray-type boxes covered with fabric or contact paper will serve as attractive desk-top organizers. I recommend stashing a box in the back seat to keep the inside of the car/mobile-office tidy. Putting groceries into a larger box in the trunk can prevent bottles from falling over/rolling around/spilling their contents.

Boxes can be pressed into frugal duty almost anywhere. I feel like I'm forgetting some other clever applications.

Have I convinced you yet of the value of the lowly box???

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Summer is winding down: tree leaves are tinged with orange and all but the most persistent weeds are dying. Purple thistle and goldenrod grace the roadsides.
At the Farmers Market, tables are filled with a colorful display of produce including fuzzy peaches, gleaming green peppers and orange-red tomatoes.

While riding my bicycle between cornfields I saw the sunlight glinting off a sea of green leaves. This poem came to me:


Tall cornstalk's gone to tassel
Green ear's topped with silk red
Flat hollows in the rows disclose
Where weary deer have bed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Taraxacum Officinale

From Euell Gibbons' wonderfully informative field guide "Stalking The Wild Asparagus" I gleaned this information:

Expressed juice from dandelion roots was used in times past to improve the health of those who suffered from vitamin deficiencies in fall/winter. Roots dug up in spring can be treated and cooked like sliced potatoes. Newly sprouted greens from the springtime plant also make wonderful salads. Ground up roots may be used to make a coffee substitute, and the flowers are an important ingredient in making dandelion wine.

I'll not slam dandelions, no. As a child, I often picked these harbingers of spring to gift others. And suffered brown sticky fingers due to the "milk" oozing from broken stems. There was a way to weave them into a garland... In late summer I blew their downy fluff to "make a wish" and watched as myriads of white-winged brown seeds floated aloft on any available breeze, bound for new homes. Indeed, I could actually admire these composite flowers (flowers within flowers) for their tenacity (Can you ever really uproot one of these plants?) and proliferation. Don't tell anyone, but from time to time I have enjoyed the view of a field gold with dandelions (glad that it was not my own lawn). So, who designated them "weeds?"
This poem I wrote a while ago comes to mind:

Weed Lament
Dandelions' sunny heads
springing up where 'ere they please,
in and out of flower beds,
bringing gardeners to their knees!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Life Is Just A Bowl Of...........

How lovely is the fruit of the season! Each month offers something new. Today was moderately warm and breezy- happily lacking the recent oppressive humidity. I always feel more alive when the humidity is lower. This was Farmers' Market day in a nearby town, so I went to check out the produce displays. Dark green cucumbers gleamed, the season's first peaches blushed, purplish plums beckoned, yellow or dark red cherries beguiled. I opted for 1/2 bushel of peaches to can and a decent sized basket of sour cherries for jam.

Having previously given up on using the clever "cherry pitter" tool, I devised a simpler and faster (for me) method of removing the pits from the sour cherries: Take a handful of washed/de-stemmed cherries, use a sharp paring knife to pop the skins, then squeeze the cherries one-by-one over a small bowl, removing the pits by hand. Well, it worked for me and my first batch of cherry jam is sitting prettily in small jars cooking on the counter.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

(Photo) Strip-Art

I thought I had better keep my blog title respectable, not wanting to invite trouble.

In 2009 I attended a wonderful quilt show in Rochester, NY, then unexpectedly found myself heading south to Virginia and from there to eastern Tennessee for longer than I could have guessed. After all the uprooting and travel I needed some craft time to relax. While trimming my quilt show photo's for my chunky albums, I ended up with quite a few colorful strips.

I was surprised to note pastel colors of the (white) hanging sheets, and patterns in the gymnasium rafters. I couldn't bear to throw out these trimmings so I arranged dark/light or graduated effects and glued them to photo framing matte board. The results were quite interesting, especially as I picked out a clock here, a section of running track there, a high window and its reflection, the cage-work of pipes, a curtained door that wasn't really there.

Have fun deciding what you see in these compositions...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


(Flowers found growing in southern California...)

What is it, and where does it come from, what prompts it? A lovely view like a breath-taking vista or the pristine details of a small flower? Transcendent thought, a vision in the night? Whatever it is, it can not be forced, framed, forged. I am in awe of those whose words convey spiritual insight and stir the soul, those who write what I wish I could have penned. I feel like an amateur, inferior to the writers of great truths and succinct ponderings. And yet, once in a while something comes to me which I could not have sought or bidden. It is a gift- to be contemplated, appreciated, perhaps shared. Thank you, all who are conduits of the stirrings of the Holy Breath, the Divine Source. Those who have eyes to see what many often miss. You bless us all.

Monday, June 20, 2011

If I Were Amish...

One late spring afternoon while I was out in the yard I heard someone singing at the top of his lungs with no accompaniment. The singer kept on key and sang with such gusto, having no obvious care about being overheard.

The distinctive 'clop clop clop' of horse hooves drew my attention to the road and sure enough, thereby passed an Amish buggy. Making a mad dash for a camera, I barely caught this view before the driver was out of sight.

Over the years I have read inspirational novels about the Amish and I must in all honesty admit that the simpler way of life has a certain attraction. To be primarily concerned with clothing and feeding the family, tending the garden, cleaning the house, washing the laundry...

What would life be like without the distractions of too much stuff, too many superfluous activities? Without the constant awareness of pain, destruction, loss and strife all over the planet? Things that upset us, things about which we can do very little except pray.

Yes, sometimes our possessions own us (requiring upkeep, repair, dusting, protection) and the cares of the world bring stress and worry. Would any of us give that up voluntarily?

In my young adulthood I spent two wintry nights in a cabin-room on a small lake in the Adirondack Mountains. The room was furnished with a bed, a two-burner cook top, a small refrigerator, a desk, a chair, a lamp, two books, a small bathroom. I remember reading by lamplight and wishing I could continue such an uncomplicated, uncluttered existence. Two days later it was back to the usual.

Perhaps the best I can manage is to occasionally sort out and donate or dispose of unneeded items, reduce the number of hobbies I intend to pursue someday, and find the place and time to be still, and be grateful for what I do have.

Can anyone relate to this?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

New Beginnings

Spring will soon give way to summer. Leaves are green, flowers vibrant. I saw an orange Orchard Oriole today along my biking route beside the woods.

How is it that we become so intent on watching our feet that we can not look up and see the glorious possibilities around us? In the late afternoon I sat on a deck swing and listened- to the breeze in the trees, the birds singing, the creek trickling by. The wind caressed my face, the sun warmed my legs as I moved in and out of the shade.

I would wish for everyone a special, quiet place where your heart can smile. Sometimes such a place seems distant, sometimes non-existent. Two years ago while I was in transition in east Tennessee and sat rocking on a log cabin porch on the side of a steep mountain overlooking a "holler," these words came to mind: "He restoreth my soul."

Today I am reminded that there is One who beckons, "Come unto Me... and I will give you rest." What would we ever do without the One who cherishes our very souls?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Merry Day in May

Yesterday was predicted to be another in a long series of rainy days, but the ground was dry so I jumped on my bicycle. Past forests and ponds I pedaled, relishing the beauty of nature on both sides of the road. Huge white trillium clumped at woods' edges. Yellow cowslips and purple violets vied for attention. A brilliant scarlet cardinal and a vivid bluejay punctuated spring's fresh greens. When a very large red-tailed hawk swooped up into the trees I was startled.

Nesting Canada geese honked loudly filling the silence with their echoed cries. On one pond swam a loon, stark black and white- its pointed beak silhouetted against the reflective surface. In years past while camping by Adirondack lakes, I have heard the haunting giggle of the loon. It's a maniacal laugh, impossible to imitate.

Of course I stopped at several creeks and streams to search for fossils and found a few. I usually do. Resisting the urge to hoard, I've made arrangements to donate some of my extra specimens to a childrens' educational program, as I did last year while living in Tennessee.

Later in the day, a quest for door mats led me to a carpet store. The first thing I noticed in the showroom was a black wall covered with framed artwork. The owner explained that he does pen drawings to keep himself occupied in between customers. The parallel lines and crisscrossing grids vibrated with movement, reminding me of the new trend: "Zentangles" which the reader may research at

A man of many talents (including entering his miniature horses in horse-pull meets, as evidenced by blue and red show ribbons on another wall), the store owner mentioned having been in a 1980's band. When he offered to sing for me (as he does for other customers), what could I say? With a background sound track he crooned Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" into a mic and did surprisingly well.

Dinner out with family at a local pizzaria proved entertaining and satisfying, a nice ending to a day filled with unexpected highlights.

... This reads like a "Dear Diary" entry. I will probably delete this in a day or two, but I just wanted to recount a most interesting day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

West and Back

I never thought I would get to the West Coast in
this life time, but a friend invited me to go, and
after much deliberation........... I accepted. One of the highlights was a trip to Balboa Park in San Diego. I admired the Spanish architecture and walked through a rose garden and cactus garden where many specimens were in bloom.

At the Museum of Natural History I drooled over
a fascinating fossils exhibit, and in the lower level,
a gem and mineral display. There were some awesome pieces!

After walking through an elegant hotel on Coronado Island to get to the beach, I dipped my feet in the cold Pacific Ocean, picked up seashells, watched crabs scuttle over rocks, and had lunch at an Irish pub. The sand was speckled with gold flecks of mica everywhere, which glinted in the sunlight.

At Roberto's drive-in/take-out restaurant I tried Carne Asada French Fries piled high with chunks of steak, guacamole and sour cream. Forget counting calories there!

Expressways are everywhere. Hillsides are either overbuilt with condo's and apartment complexes or left wild, brushy with huge boulders. In a vacant lot, lizards scurried about. Ground squirrels chowed down on weeds. They were a bit mangy looking. Later, I read that they may be carriers of Bubonic Plague, their fleas spreading the disease. Ugh.

There was time for a brief visit to Mission Trails Park which has many paths through the rugged wilderness. I could easily imagine a cougar or rattlesnake lurking about, although I saw neither.

On the return trip, the mountain views were breath-taking. The airplane flew over the Grand Canyon but I was on the wrong side and didn't catch that sight. I changed planes in Las Vegas and was surprised to see many many slot machines in the airport.

All in all, it was quite an amazing trip, one I am glad I made. Who can predict what adventures may await us?

Spring greetings, all friends!