Monday, December 31, 2007


It is absolutely guaranteed that my husband will love his Christmas presents if they are power tools. It is absolutely guaranteed that my sons will love their Christmas presents if they are electronic. It is absolutely guaranteed that I will love my Christmas presents if they are books.

Pickle Party

When my teenagers were starting grade school, my niece started having a pickle party for the children the Saturday before Christmas, which also coincided with her birthday and my birthday. Plenty of reasons for a party, eh?

What's a pickle party? She hides a pickle-shaped glass ornament on her tree and the children try to find it. The one who finds it gets the Grand Prize but she always has prizes for all the children. Here are my great nephew and niece searching for that elusive pickle.
And here are the original children, now teenagers, still pickle pondering.
And Ricky celebrating finally finding the pickle after a ten plus year domination by his cousins.I love that my family will pop the Christmas crackers and wear the crowns. No hesitation. No shame. Notice the gingerbread houses decorated that evening behind Jennifer (the gracious hostess). That's her mother in red, my sister.
I found Jennifer's not yet two-year old daughter behind the chair in this pose, pondering the unthinkable. "You mean one day I'll have boobs?" I love her pink cowboy boots. They would go well with my dress.

Food Trip

I asked my mother-in-law what she would like to do while she was still feeling well. After considering a trip to Nashville (Brown County, Indiana), she decided that she wanted to go to Shipshewanna shopping. So we took off for a day trip during the week after Thanksgiving.

Our first stop was Yoder's General store. The fabrics!! I have been reading A Dress A Day and getting the itch to sew something with pockets and my mother's vintage buttons. Since I haven't sewn for 30+ years, I may start with an apron using my grandmother's hand-drawn pattern. So one reason for a return trip.

Our last stop was E & S Foods. The food!! The entry I linked (the store has no web site) calls it the Amish Trader Joes. I stocked up for Christmas baking and have another reason for a return trip.

In between the fabric and foods, I bought myself a fringe cowgirl dress with pockets for $5. It gives me great joy. I tried it on for my husband the other night and was prancing around asking, "What do you think?" He was so intensely quiet, I had to laugh to see the effort he was making to formulate the right answer. It was obvious to him that I loved it and it was obvious to me that he didn't. Perhaps it is telling that I couldn't find anything in a Google search for "fringe cowgirl dress" other than for little girls or Halloween! Another clue that my husband may be in the majority was the large rack of these dresses with numerous mark-downs.

I'm not ready for this...

It's the night for merry-making and resolutions. My merry-making will be burning the brush piles in a snowstorm. Strange but delightful because I'm doing it with my husband. My resolution is to post at least once in December.

There has been lots of blog fodder, but mid-November we learned that my mother-in-law has lung cancer. Fast-growing and non-treatable. At first she was given 4 to 6 months. She decided to take chemo which will not cure it but may give her another 4 to 6 months. So I haven't posted because I wasn't ready to post this news and all other content paled in comparison.

I've seen a lot of "outtakes" of Christmas pictures, but usually it was the little ones goofing around that "spoiled" the picture. My husband's family decided (after we got there) to take a picture on Thanksgiving but it wasn't the little ones causing the problem. I thought the composition would be improved if I sat on my husband's lap, which ended up with us rolling on the floor. Of course, they snapped the picture then.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cat Naps

When I downloaded some pictures today, I found a lot of kitten pictures, probably taken by Ron. I was taken by these two photos, perhaps because I so rarely see the kittens at rest.

Christmas in the Garden Shed

Monday, November 05, 2007

Barefoot Ricky

Both boys had overnight activities this weekend. Ron spent Friday and Saturday at Butler University in a Jazz Choir workshop. He learned a lot and had fun. Ricky spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday at a Campus Life retreat. So Friday night was date night for Mom and Dad.

We had just ordered appetizers and settled in with a microbrew when my cell phone rang. "Mom, they threw my shoes out of the bus. Go get me a pair of shoes out of my closet and bring them to me." It was Ricky. Being the compliant mother, the hovering helicopter parent, I said, "Handle it, son." Sputtering, he hung up on me. I smiled and shared the conversation with Steve. Then I started to worry about my poor shoeless son. Steve suggested after we finished eating, we could go home and get him a pair of shoes. That settled me down.

The phone rang again. It was Ricky who put his leader on the phone. Joe immediately apologized for throwing his shoes out the window! It seems that a pair of shoes hit him in the head, the window was open and he just deflected them out the window. But they were near their destination and he sent two kids to find them with a flashlight. He was on the panel speaking so he didn't have time to find out whose shoes they were and reassure the shoeless soul (not soleless shoe).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Basket of Flowers

This is Sharon.

This is the quilt she is making.

Here's more information.

I'm posting on this site also so my sister will see what Sharon did with Mom's material. Remember those boxes and boxes of sewing, handwork and craft supplies that we didn't know what to do with, Peg? I gave them to Sharon, who lives in subsidized senior housing, and she was going to get "the old ladies" interested in doing something. And here is what Sharon did with some of the material. I instantly recognized the fabric and that brought a big smile to Sharon's face.

Sharon has had a rough life. I suspect she doesn't know how to read and she doesn't drive. She never worked outside the home until her husband became terminally ill. She works at the site through a federal government retraining program for the elderly. Despite some health problems, she works hard at a hard job. And she finds time to serve on the housing board as a resident representative, volunteers at her church and creates masterpieces with her needle and thread.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Apple Taste Test

My usual source of apples, my brother Tim, had a poor year, so I stopped at an orchard on the way home from work earlier this week. I bought Cameos and MacIntosh and then sorted through a bin of "seconds" for a large bag of Honey Crisps at only 50 cents a pound! I already had a few Jonathon apples, so I set up a taste test to discover which apples were the best for freezing.

I usually fry the apples and then freeze them. I leave the skins on the apples, cut then into thin slices and fry in butter until partially cooked, and finally add brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. When thawed, it should resemble chunky applesauce unlike anything you can buy.

Both the Jonathons and MacIntoshes turned into mush. The Jonathons had the desired underlying tartness, but the MacIntoshes were tasteless. The Honey Crisp were a delightful surprise. I think of these as eating apples, but they held their shape and had a wonderful taste. I didn't cook the Cameos, but I will try them this weekend.

Oh, and I'm stopping back at the orchard to sort through that bin of Honey Crisp again...if there are any left.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fall Sunset

We were cleaning brambles out of a clearing in the woods and planting some trees when the sun set this evening. This photo has not been modified. It was just awesome. Then as I was browsing some blogs I frequent, I saw a similar photo, which was just awful. I can't imagine the horror of a firestorm.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Senior Busy Times

Despite the best efforts of the team, which included Ricky getting a Carroll Charger lightning bolt shaved into his head, the boys soccer team was stopped at the regional final game.

Meanwhile Ron's activity in Jazz Choir is gearing up. He just joined this choir his senior year and he really enjoys it. The choir sang several numbers at the fall concert last Friday and were very good. Ron will be attending a two day workshop at Butler University next week.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

On to the Regionals

Go Chargers! The boys won the soccer sectionals today and will play Wednesday night in the regionals. Ricky noted that they were only 4 games away from the state finals, but I reminded him that the only game that mattered was the next game.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Soccer Sectionals

We won the first game last night against Leo, so play in the championship game on Saturday against Bishop Dwenger, always a tough team. Ricky was put in during the last 2 minutes and had a perfect set-up for a goal with seconds left, but he missed it. The crowd went crazy with Ricky's near goal. Here are the seniors on the team. I can always spot Ricky on field, with his rec specs and headband. There is also a picture of the "round" I created for Ricky's locker this week as they gear up for the tournaments.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Glorious Mornings

From my previous post, you may guess that I like morning glories. So much beauty from a small pack of seeds. I planted them around the garden, along the fence row by the road and in front of my bay window to create a green and blue curtain from the inside. They remind me of summer days, with the hot yellow sun and bright blue sky. The blooms are almost luminescent, depending on the sunlight and I can get lost in the center.

Garden memories

My parents always planted a huge garden and the pantry and freezer were full of homegrown food to feed a family of seven all winter long. (I'm the second oldest.) They also raised chickens and an occasional pig. I started helping at an early age, whether planting seeds or tending a baby pig.

But it wasn't all work on the Bishop homestead. I played with the dog, hung by my knees, and even dressed up in a crinkly bright yellow dress.

My garden memories center on long hot days picking green beans, sitting on the front porch shelling peas, cutting corn from the cob in a steaming kitchen and running tomatoes through the juicer. My sister remembers Mom bribing us to work by promising to take us to the lake to swim once we finished. I suspect now that it was as much for her to cool off as for us.

So as an adult, I gardened, just not vegetables, other than a few tomato plants and some herbs.

Until this spring, when my husband plowed up a patch of lawn and fenced it in with chicken wire and announced that we were going to have a garden. (He also put in a clothesline so we could airdry our clothes. It must be a back-to-nature kick. Wonder when we will go off the grid?)

But I couldn't just let this prime soil go to just beans and tomatoes, squash and potatoes, eggplants and peppers. I decided that the fence must be disguised with morning glories.

It worked just fine for most of the summer as you see the morning glories on the fence in front of the squash.

Then the morning glories came into their own and overran my little garden patch.

Monday, October 01, 2007

October already?

How did I miss September, one of my favorite months? Not in real life; it was full. But not a single post on either blog. Maybe I'll catch up on the posts I meant to write, such as my new adventures in vegetable gardening.

I picked the last (perhaps) eggplant, peppers and tomatoes last night and roasted them along with onions, garlic, basil in olive oil. It tickles me that Ricky raved about the dish. Ricky was a failure-to-thrive baby, who would hardly eat anything when we adopted him at about six years of age. Now he raves about roasted eggplant and is studying culinary arts. So there is hope for you mothers of picky eaters.

And here's a little story that I wrote in the comments of May Dreams Garden:
Several weeks ago an adolescent boy in line behind me at the store asked if I just got off work.

"Yes, did you ask because I'm so dirty and this logo on my shirt?"

"No," he said, "because there is a praying mantis in your hair."

Sunday, August 26, 2007


We've had two new additions to the household during the last month, both the result of son Ron seeing "Free Kittens" signs along the road.

First came Prince Tommy, a tiger tomcat, whose purpose in life is to reduce the mouse population around the homestead, especially this fall as the field mice seek warm shelter. Tommy likes to climb trees. He's affectionate and fun.

Then came a little black female kitty, with a white stripe down her forehead and white paws. She is one fast kitty, as you can tell from this picture I took of her.

I tried again. She was posing nicely until Tommy came along and they decided to romp.

Finally she hesitated and I got this picture.

A wee tomato

Carol's current challenge, as I understand, is to grow a tomato smaller than a dime. And I did. This is an heirloom tomato, white currant. I grew it in a large blue pot on the back deck.

Will there be smaller tomatoes? Probably, but this one was sure tasty. And I ate this wee tomato on the wee wooden plate that my husband turned on his lathe.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Eighteen and I like it

Note: click link only if you want to play the song. I've been singing this Alice Cooper song for the last week, much to the consternation of husband and sons. It seemed appropriate given that I now have two eighteen-year olds in my home. When my sons protested my singing (and I'm sure it was the lyrics and not my voice), my husband said he couldn't stand the song when he was 18 and he still can't. Ignoring that it's Alice Cooper, I think it's this phrase that bothers them: "I'm a boy and I'm a man."

Happy Birthday, Ricky and Ron. I promise only to call you a man and not mention those times you act, sound and look like the little boys you still are sometimes.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Reserve Grand Champion

Recently I reported that my niece was Pony at Halter Overall Grand Champion at our county fair. Anna called one evening this week, as excited as she was tired, to give me the results from the Indiana State Fair: First place for her class in Pony at Halter and Reserve Grand Champion for all the Pony at Halter classes in Indiana. Only one pony was judged better than Idaho, but I think Idaho is the best in the state anyway.

See you at the Preposition

Rushing out the door, just slightly late to pick up Ricky after soccer practice, I called to hubby over my shoulder, "Ricky will be calling soon demanding 'Where are you?'"

"No," he replied, "He will ask "Where you at?" and you can tell him you are in front of the preposition."

With a giggle at his little joke since I could hear in my mind Ricky saying just that, I left. A minute down the road, my cell phone rings and Ricky says, "Mom, where you at?"

Of course, I responded, "In front of the preposition." And then the call dropped.

A few minutes later, the phone rings again. "Mom, where did you say you were?" And I just told him I would be there in 5 minutes. (I really try not to talk on the cell and drive.)

As I pulled into the parking lot, the phone rings again. Hubby is laughing hysterically. He called his brother about something and his brother said, "Where you at?" Of course, Steve told him "in front of the preposition." Confused, his brother stammers a bit and asked again with the same response from hubby.

Hoosierisms. It's a family affair.

(Yes, I did explain the joke to Ricky and explained for the umptieth time that he doesn't need to add "at" to the end of a sentence. Being 17, he insisted that he did not say, "where you at" but rather "where are you.")

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More Anna Accolades

Jennifer, another niece who is a horse person, sent this email in response to my last post. She said so well what I feel about Anna's accomplishment that I'm sharing it as a follow-up on the blog.
It should be noted that she is competing with a lot of kids whose parents buy them already-trained $15,000 horses, with another good $10,000 of tack, training and clothes thrown in—whereas Anna does it from the GROUND UP. SHE is the one doing the training, SHE is the one making the decisions at the auction, SHE is the one thinking things through and taking responsibility and working her fingers to the bone. I saw a lot of girls with fancy horses, and outfits perfectly matched to the day-glo orange, pink, green or lavender tack and saddle pads, and I thought, these kids don’t have an ounce of the grit, character and integrity Anna has. And Idaho sure is a cutie!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Anna and Idaho

This is Anna, my youngest brother's girl, and here's the story of her and her horse.

$50 saved from babysitting. (All profit numbers exclude boarding and feed, vets and farrier. That was out of her Daddy's pocket.)

When she was 14 years old, she went to Shipshewana and bought a 9-month Clydesdale for $50 with her babysitting money. She broke the colt and then sold him for $1500.

No horse. $1450 profit.

They gave her $400 down and she went back to the auction and bought a Belgian for $250.

One Horse plus $1200 profit.

The couple that bought the Clydesdale went bankrupt and the horse was returned to her.

Two horses plus $100 profit.

She sold the Belgian to her farrier for $250.

One horse plus $350 profit.

She went with the stable owner to rescue wild mustangs that had been neglected after being placed in a stable in Indiana. They came home with a mother and her daughter. Anna traded the Clydesdale for the daughter plus two saddles.

One horse plus $350 profit and two saddles.

They then discovered that both females were pregnant. So this young lady learned about foaling and taking care of a foal. She traded the foal for stable rent and she has stopped trading and focused on Idaho, her

And she has done a remarkable job as evidenced by this large banner. This is the third year she went to state with her horse. I didn't know what a halter show was until today. She was competing in jumping today but it was cancelled after the horses fell in the mud from last night's rain. She also competes in equitation and now I am way over my head as I am not a horse person, but I think that is also called English riding.

After the jumping competition was cancelled, brother Bill and I walked around the fair and I was particularly taken with the rabbits. These were some HUGE rabbits. That's Bill's thumb for scale.

But this was my favorite breed, with the racing stripe down its back, the overdone eyeliner, and the exaggerated black lipstick.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rain, Glorious Rain

We have had a drought this summer. While we are only 3.5" under average for the year, most of the rain came in April and early May. We may have had a tenth of an inch this summer...until last Saturday. It rained again yesterday and I gloried in it. It is raining now. Except it is coming down at a rate of 2" to 4" an hour! Couldn't we have long gentle rains periodically? I'm sure the hydrangea blooms are on the ground and I wonder if my staked plants (delphiniums, dahlias, etc.) are holding up at the site.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day--July

What starts as white and turns purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red? If you answered a prism, you are right, but my garden was white six months ago and is now purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Here is a sampling of what another Bloom Day brings.

First some whites:

Then some purples:

There are lots of blues in my garden:

The greens are in all the pictures. The yellows are a nice counterpoint to the blues:

Oranges are well-represented also. Remember these blooms are spread over several acres.

Not many true reds, but I'm counting this tiny allium.