Butter

Mmm … butter! Anyone who says he enjoys using margarine or any of the other spreads on his fresh-baked biscuits speaks a falsehood. No substitute complements food as butter does.

Butter B (2)        Over the summers while my husband went to college in Columbus, we went to the Ohio State Fair. One vendor offered corn-on-the-cob, still in its husk, roasted over coals. After paying him what we’d have paid for a whole dozen at a roadside produce stand, one of the workers grabbed two blistering hot ears off the grill-work and yanked the husks down to form handles. Grasping the husk-handles, he turned back to the pit and plunged the naked ears into a large kettle. As he removed them, the yellow kernels glistened. Rivulets of butter ran down the ears, dripping onto the husks.

Holding both in one hand, the man seized a stack of napkins and thrust both handsButter A (2) toward us. He nodded his head at a small stand holding several shakers of salt and pepper. Eyes wide at what we’d just seen, we hurried to season our corn and dig in, not wanting to miss a single droplet of the melted butter.

It only took one bite of the golden delicacy to know we’d never tasted anything as fine as those ears of corn-on-the-cob. Though taking care as we did, we ended up wearing butter smeared on our lips. With our slippery fingers working to hold onto our prizes, even the tips of our noses sported a drop or two.

Though the hot kernels singed our tongues, we gobbled away, typewriter-style. Licking the rows above and below, licking our slick fingers, licking our dripping wrists where droplets trickled toward our elbows. We didn’t stop in gratitude for our sleeveless arms, nor for my ponytail keeping my hair from disaster. We only munched across our ears, slid the make-believe return bar across, and went on to the next section, until at last, we stood slurping the remnants of the glorious butter from the emptied cob.

Somehow, that memory would not bring the sigh of satisfaction it does if those roasted ears of sweet corn had been plunged into a bucket of melted spread or sprayed with a bottle of liquified flax seed. Wouldn’t you agree?

God made cows. He made the milk we get from them. And He showed us how to skim the cream which separates from the milk. Then He gave us the know-how to churn it into butter—glorious butter! Mmm!

*** What food do you think of first when butter is mentioned? Corn-on-the-cob, as we had? Fresh bread just pulled from the oven? Tell us about your favorite way to use butter! (And if you’re one of those who only uses the “other stuff,” I guess you can share about it, too!) To leave your story, click on the words beside the date under the title of this post. Then, scroll to the bottom of the comment section to find the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

** Did you guess “Butter” as the “B” word for this week? What letter would you like to see next week’s word begin with? Help me choose!

Walking – Part 2

          By the 1990s, we had returned to mountains of PA, begun our family, and started our homeschool journey. Walking added much to our phys. ed. class.

          A 5-day program built muscles in our bodies and brains. Mondays held long leisurely strolls along our road; Tuesdays, a brisk heart-pumping walk (not a favorite of mom or kids). Wednesdays, we identified wildflowers and Thursdays, we picked up trash. Fridays, we walked with friends or family wherever we were.

         These walks became our Walk-Across-America program! Each time we walked, we noted the mileage with different colors on a chart. We’d marked the distances to places we wanted to visit, such as the Statue of Liberty. We never made it to most of those goals, but we enjoyed trying.

          5-14-18 AThe next walk starts with a question: have you ever been on a bear hunt? One day during our unit on bears, we read Blueberries for Sal, made a trail mix bears would eat, and created toilet-paper tube flashlights. After supper, we gathered our supplies and courage and went into the woods to hunt for bears.

          Daddy led the way in the lessening light. The girls got gooey from bits of chewy fruit while I brought up the rear watching for a bear. Sure enough, around a bend, I spied one in a tree! The girls gasped and pointed their flashlights. It was a brown bear, and across the path in another tree, his white twin sat snug on a branch. Within moments, girlish giggles filled the air. Unknown to them, Daddy had snuck their teddy bears out of the house and hid them in the trees. That walk made history for the Mayfields!

          With the new century, a seizure disorder often kept me housebound. Walks became fewer and shorter, although sometimes the best things are right down the road. Less than a quarter mile from our house, my husband and I enjoyed watching a barred owl baby learning to hunt. From a tree about ten feet away, the fluffy owlet peered at us. We held our breath. When his parents whistled, he turned towards their warning, then his dark eyes found us again. An amazing twenty-minutes later, he flew off. Not much exercise on that walk!From 5-2016

          Finally, with the seizures gone and the owl grown, the current decade brought a new dog and grandchildren! Walking became a joy once more. Of course, pushing a stroller again doesn’t come as easy as a couple decades ago! Still, I need to strengthen more than my walking legs to keep up with these kids!

*** Have you ever seen amazing animals or interesting places on your walks? Tell us about one or two! To leave your story, click on the words beside the date under the title of this post. Then, scroll to the bottom of the comment section to find the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** Next Monday, our story word begins with a “B.” Any guesses? It’s not balloon or badger, nor banana or blue. What could it be?

Walking – Part 1

          To someone who thinks horses should come equipped with seatbelts and to whom a bicycle still needs training wheels, walking is a joy. Peace and fitness, solitude and companionship, moonlight and cool breezes. Let’s walk through almost six decades together and see where it takes us!

          We’ll start in the 1960s, most of which I spent walking the brick sidewalks of Harrisburg, PA. We often visited one set of grandparents a street away. This took us past a corner store, where my brothers and I pressed our noses against the cool glass of the candy case. We placed our nickels on the wooden counter and made our choices. So many scrumptious candies tempted us: marshmallow-topped ice cream cones, colored liquid-filled wax bottles, candy necklaces. We clutched our tiny bags full of delectables and trotted the rest of the way, with a promise of one piece when we got there. That part of the walk always seemed so long; I wonder why ….

          During the 1970s, we spent summer vacations in the mountains of Potter County, PA. Ah, long walks along forest trails … crawling over falle5-7-18n bug-encrusted trees, slipping on moss-covered rocks, brushing spider webs off our faces. But oh, the vistas we reached overlooking valleys and glistening brooks. And my favorite reason to walk the woods–the wildlife: deer flicking their white tails and racing through the hemlocks and grouse taking flight when we startled them. My heart thrills whenever a forest path shows up, even in photos.

          For two years in the 1980s, my husband and I lived in a development on the border of Columbus, OH. Evening strolls around our neighborhood or one of the metro parks became our lifeline to sanity. We walked our cares away, holding hands, straining to ignore the hustle, focusing on the moment … or was that holding our dog’s leash in both hands, straining to keep her from chasing the numerous squirrels teasing her, fo5-7-18 Bcusing on keeping her from dropping “presents” in anyone’s yard?

          The trail in our favorite metro park bordered Ripple Rock Creek. While walking these parks built within the city limits, we could forget we lived so near downtown. We couldn’t hear the noise of the highway. The creek, named for its rippled rocks, filled our country-loving souls with a sense of home. We even brought one of the rocks back with us as a reminder of this little place of peace.

 ***We’ll have to continue our journeys next week, but for now, where have your walks taken you? Please take us along on one … or more! To leave your story, click on the words beside the date under the title of this post. Then, scroll to the bottom of the comment section to find the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

 *** Next Monday we’ll see how the onset of serious health issues almost destroyed my joys of walking. Join me and see what we found on another walk—a bear hunt!

Money

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Money provokes contradicting memories. Spending foolishly, saving wisely—and sometimes spending wisely and saving foolishly. Having plenty, having too little … most often the latter.

          When my brothers and I were young, we decided to buy a gift for our parents. We wanted to save our own money to buy it, not use our mom and dad’s.

          And we knew just what we wanted to buy. We’d seen an advertisement for a Ronco Record Cleaner, “guaranteed to make your LP records last longer” and keep them free from scratches!

          But where would we get the money? We didn’t receive allowances and were too young for jobs. For my part, I went without lunches, saving every cent my parents gave me to pay for them. If my mom packed my lunch, I saved my milk nickel. Hunger pangs couldn’t compete with the excitement of buying the gift ourselves.

          Six weeks before Christmas, the required delivery time, we proudly sent for the gift. I don’t know if it made the records last longer, but the lessons of saving and giving will last a lifetime. As well as the memory of our parents’ faces as they opened such an extravagant gift.

          Over the years since, we’ve experienced many times of having no money. Once while living in Ohio for Kevin to attend college, our checking account was empty, as well as our wallets. The refrigerator held only cold air, and the freezer … well, ice cubes aren’t very nutritious. We drove home on gas fumes, knowing no reserves waited.

The week before, we’d sank to cutting open my pink poodle bank in which I’d been saving pennies since grade school. The coins clinked and scraped on the table as we dumped and counted them—enough to fill the gas tank and buy a few groceries. But now, they too were gone, the poodle empty and bearing the scars of our need.Pink Poodle Bank

At our apartment, I dropped onto the couch, wondering what we would do. Kevin joined me with the mail, including a letter from Nanny, my grandmother in PA. I slit it open and pulled out a note and a five-dollar bill! We felt rich! Grateful for this unexpected gift, we headed to the Big Bear Market. We bought a dozen eggs, some milk and bread, and still had two dollars left for gas. (Wouldn’t get far on two dollars of gas today, would we?)

Whether saving for a gift or needing groceries, God’s never let us down. He knows our needs … and our wants. He always provides … sometimes just in time!

 ***Everyone has a story about money—a little or a lot! Please tell us yours! To leave your story, click on the words beside the date under the title of this post. Then, scroll to the bottom of the comment section to find the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

 *** Next Monday we’ll take some virtual walks together. Come along and see where we go!

 

Coffee

         Ah, coffee. One definition could read, “Liquid relaxation served in a cup or mug.”

          Most of us have tasted it. For some, the bitter brew left a longing for an ice-cold cola. But for the rest of us, coffee became our mainstay to sanity.

          What memories does coffee awaken with its fresh-brewed aroma? A quiet sunrise accompanied by a steaming mug and a donut? Or the relief of a cup at work on a much-needed coffee break? Maybe an after-dinner coffee sipped while reading?

          When I think of coffee, I don’t smell it or taste a certain flavor. I don’t hear the percolator or feel warmth radiating into my bones. When I think of coffee, I think of people.

          Through sharing hundreds of cups during my coffee-drinking career, I’ve seen tears, heard tales, joined in laughter. Memories swirl: my husband bringing a cup just when I needed it most, my dad surprising my mom and me with a pot of decaf, my brother’s knack for making the best coffee around, which I can’t do even mimicking his every move.IMG_0022 - Copy

          Maybe you think of one specific person whenever coffee is mentioned. For me, that’s my grandmother.

          Oh, it wasn’t the coffee itself, though she did brew a good cup. Nor the adored china teacups we used. I recall the stories. My grandmother was a storyteller. Allow me to share one of my favorites.

          My grandmother fell in love with a set of dishes on sale at Bowman’s Department Store and hinted at my grandfather about her upcoming birthday. As it approached, she knew she’d receive the treasured dishes. Sure enough, on her birthday, a Bowman’s truck pulled up to the curb. She raced to the door and yanked it open. There stood the delivery man, smiling and handing her two brand-new clothes props. (People used these to “prop up” the clothesline to keep drying clothing from touching the ground.) Snatching them with a huff, she planned the attack for my grandfather when he returned home.

          As she walked away, the bell rang a second time. She reopened the door to see the same delivery man, this time bearing a box containing the coveted dishes.

          Coffee and love became synonymous when I saw my grandmother’s smile as she remembered this tale. Over the years, she shared pieces of her life through stories told over a hundred cups of coffee. Invite someone to share a cup of love with you today!

 ***I’d love to read your coffee-cup tale! To leave your story, click on the words beside the date under the title of this post. Then, scroll to the bottom of the comment section to find the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

 *** Stop by next Monday to read how a pink poodle bank and a $5 bill saved a young couple!