Tuesday, December 12, 2017

  Bless earth with Thine Advent, O Saviour Christ!
And the golden gates which in days gone by
Full long stood locked, High Lord of heaven,
Bid Thou swing open and seek us out,
Humbly descending Thyself to earth.
  We have need of Thy mercy.  The dark Death-Shadow,
The Accursed Wolf, has scattered Thy sheep
And widely dispersed them; what Thou, O Lord,
Bought with Thy blood, that doth the Wicked One
Take into bondage, and smiteth sore
Against our desire.  O Saviour Lord,
In our inmost thoughts we eagerly beg:
Hasten to help us, miserable sinners,
That the Prince of torment may plunge to hell;
And Thy handiwork mount up on high,
Creator of men, and come to righteousness,
To the beauteous realms in the land above
From which the Dark Spirit led us astray,
Beguiled and seduced us through grievous sin
So that, shorn of glory, unto all ages
We must suffer affliction, except Thou first
O Living God, Eternal Lord,
Shield of all creatures, shall will to save us
 Out of the clutch of the Foe of mankind.

Advent Lyrics
from An Anthology of Old English Poetry
translated by Charles W. Kennedy

Kathleen, Colyn, and Peeta are staying the week with us because Natalie
is in Georgia for her brother's kidney transplant.  We have been having
a rip-roaring time, and after they are in bed, we get to sharing the
different things they have said and done, and it is pretty amusing.

The kids were apparently given strict instructions about what to say 
and not to say while they are here.  I know this, because Kathleen 
keeps telling people what they are not supposed to say.  The other 
day she went up to Hattie and whispered in her ear, "Mom told us 
not to say the word 'fart' when we are here because Grandma Laurie 
doesn't like it.  We are supposed to say, 'toot,' instead. 

It is true, I have a thing about certain words.  I always had my kids say
"toot" because "fart" sounds so very crude.  My boys, when they want
to tease me, remind me that they were the only kids in Mayberry who
said, "toot".

Yesterday they were in the haybarn with Grandpa Kent.  This is what he
overheard Kathleen reminding her brothers, "Remember, don't say words 
like 'buttcrack' because Grandma Laurie doesn't like it."  Well, "butt"
is a crude word (in my dictionary).  I much prefer "bottom" or "bum"
or "rear end".  Just humor me, okay!

Kent told me this, and we laughed, but the real funny came at dinner time
yesterday.  It was just the kids and me and we were talking about manners.
Kathleen (yes she loves to talk) was getting onto Colyn for not saying,
"Excuse me," when he burped.

Here is what she said.  "Well, I have manners.  Well, I have one manner that
is.  I say, 'Excuse me,' when I burp.  Well, I do have one other manner.   I say,
'Excuse me,' when I (hesitation clearly visible on her face) toot."

Her dad used to be the policeman of his brothers also.  They were on a trip
with Opa & Oma one time when he was about 9.  They were all watching
something on TV and there was kissing.  So Joel ordered, "Cover your eyes,
boys."  And to this day, Oma hoots over the way they all instantly obeyed,
and the three boys all turned their heads and covered their eyes.

The kittykat went pitterpat all through the house;
The kittykat went skitterskat as she chased the mouse;
Pitterpat and skitterskat, skitterskat and pitterpat,
Perhaps I'll call her Kitterkat.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Let's see.  What has been going on Up and Down the Gravel. The company is
all gone.  Things have seemed quite quiet in some ways, but life continues.

Uncle Jim is driving his own car again.  It has been awhile, and there have
been several issues, but hopefully they are resolved, at least for a bit.  Hattie
had a letter in the mailbox today address from G'ma Opal (though I suspect
Uncle Jim had a hand in delivering it...I recognize his handwriting.)  In the
envelope was a homemade card that Hattie had given to G'ma a number of
years ago.  Uncle Jim is thoughtful like that.  It is now safely filed away in
our Special Letter's File.

Mike and Debby are on a whirlwind tour of their various kids houses so that
they can celebrate Christmas with each of them and then be back here to
celebrate it with us.

Papa Bob's sawmill is on the bunk.  He has spent several days working to
repair it.  The last I heard he said something about their being gas in the
oil...or oil in the gas.  Anyway, he may need to take the engine to a shop
at Poplar Bluff.  That reminds me, tonight I learned from him the difference
between a motor and an engine.  A motor is electric, and an engine runs on some
type of fuel.

Tyler is building a hay feeding lean-to on the back of our shed.  The hardest
part of building anything is getting it squared up.  One of The Rattlesnake Boys
was helping us build our woodshed years ago and to square it up he said,
"3+4=5".  That was his hillbilly way of putting the Pythagorean Theorem to
good use.

Kent and I have sometimes spent days trying to get a building square.  I am sure
we almost divorced over squaring up our barn.  Anyway, between the three
of us, Kent, Tyler, and me, we were able to get the new hay-feeding lean-to
close enough to square to work.

Our friend, Doug, gave me a good line this past week.  He said, "Laurie, if
you ever want to get out of doing something, just say, 'I'm so sorry, but my
avacados will be ripe between 8 and 8:15 tomorrow night.'"  It is so funny
because it is so true.  Avacados are not ripe, not ripe, not ripe, ripe ( for about
15 minutes and perfect to work up), and then too ripe, too ripe, too ripe.

One more funny.  During deer season Bill, Stacey, and the kids were here.
Wilbur was looking at the deer mounts on our wall.  We were talking about
them, and he said, "Deer dead?"  "Yes, Wilbur the deer are dead."  "Deer
died on the cross?"  "No, Wilbur, not on the cross!"

Fernnook is more than just this 40 acres that has our home on it.  It is a
community that has been here for generations.  And, if we expand it
just a bit, it can take in a large swath of Hwy K.

There is a family that lives in a hollow a few miles from us.  They
have 3 brothers (grown men) who used to be called, "The Rattlesnake
Boys."  Their nickname explains it all.  You don't want to mess (even
yet) with them.  They have always been plenty friendly with us, but
cross them, and you will live to regret it.  That hollow, at the base
of Spencer Mountain, is filled with all 3 of their families, plus some
of their other relatives.

Heartbreakingly, on Thanksgiving night, three of the kids (all cousins) of
the Rattlesnake Boys were in a car wreck.  Two of the young men were

Kent has always done the funerals for this family.  Traditionally they
have been done in the family hollow, and the bodies have either been
cremated or buried on their property.  This time though, the 2 funerals
were at the funeral home, with just the graveside service for one of the
boys at their homeplace.

Funerals are one of the places where the interconnectedness of small towns
and their surrounding communities are made obvious.

The Rattlesnake Boys mother's brother's wife is one of the grand-daughters
of John and Lucy Emmons and it is the old Emmon's property that we now
call Fernnook Farm.  She, The Rattlesnake Boys mother's brother's wife
still owns part of the property across the road from us.

It is that kind of connection that makes this feel so much like home.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The past few weeks have zoomed by up and down the gravel.

That is partly because there have been lots of vehicles traveling up
and down the gravel.

First there was deer season.  That brought Bill and Stacey and the kids for a
weekend.  Bill got a deer, and he and Stacey processed it.  Then towards the
end of deer season, Bill and Stacey and the kids came back for a weekend
and brought their friend Justin.  This was Justin's first time hunting and
he got a nice buck early Saturday morning.  Bill, Justin, and Stacey took
care of that deer.

As an aside, Stacey made some nice salamini from the ground deer meat
that they took home.  She made us some spaghetti with it and it is yummy.

As Bill, Stacey, and Justin were leaving, the cousins began to arrive.  First
Bobby and family, then Annie and family (and Becky).  A few days later
Kinsey and family came.  Then in the middle of the week the Martin side
headed back to St. Louis, and the rest of Mike and Debby's kids came. 

Meanwhile we headed up to St. Louis for the Harding Thanksgiving and to
help move Opa and Oma's furniture into storage while their apartment is
being renovated due to the sprinkler set-off that Oma did a few weeks ago.

I was sure she would get Turkey-Of-The-Year at the Harding Thanksgiving
party, but the honor went instead to Bill and Stacey for the Great Gift-card

After the Harding Thanksgiving, Bill and Stacey and kids (and Kent and I)
all headed back to Fernnook to spend time with the Florida/Atlanta crew.

Of course thrown into the mix are all the relatives that live here.  Lots of
games and talk and laughter...and a few five year old girl dramas.  There
are too many of them that want to be boss (I guess they are following the
traditional Fleetwood motto..."If I can't be boss, I won't be there.")

Uncle Jim had a rough week health wise, but a dose of antibiotics is starting
to help him.  Tandy and Hattie have also been rather sick with colds.

The thing that is so amazing to me is that with all of the cooking that we
did this past week, and it was truly massive amounts that we made, I still
have to make dinner again tomorrow.  We always get hungry again...so

"The Almighty Maker of all mankind
Has granted him wondrously once more to be
What before he was, with feathers appareled
Though fire clasp him close in its grip.

So each blessed soul through somber death
After his life-days of sore distress
Gains life everlasting, knowing God's grace
In bliss never-ending; and ever thereafter
Resides in glory as reward for his works.
The traits of this bird clearly betoken
Christ's chosen thanes, how on earth they thrill
By the Father's grace with a gleaming joy
In this perilous time, and attain thereafter
Bliss on high in the heavenly home."

The Phoenix from An Anthology of Old English Poetry

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Years ago we did a skit for the youth at church.  In it, a person crawled on their
belly slowly and painfully across a wide space.  They were supposedly stranded
in a desert and every so often would just whisper the word, "Water!"   Finally
they made it to the cup of water that was their goal.  When they got there, they
signed deeply and then reached into their pocked and pulled out a comb.  They
stuck the comb in the cup of water and began combing down their hair.  This
caused a gasp of surprise from the audience.

Water is so precious and so necessary to us, yet we take it for granted until it goes

Wednesday night our water went missing.  It was running at 3:30, then Kent, Tyler,
and I went out into the deer woods.  When we returned at 5:30 or so, there was not
water.  Then we went to eat at Joel and Natalie's home.  When we returned at 7:30,
the water was running again.  Yeah!

But, before we went to bed, it quit running again and it stayed that way this time.
It is never convenient when these hassles happen, but it was especially not convenient
at this time.  We were expecting company over the weekend, and I had to do tons of
cooking for the SGRC Thanksgiving Dinner.  Plus we have a bull that is limping and
we needed to tend to him....and a calf that needs a nose ring put in.  There really
wasn't time to go finding the missing water.

But, water is so necessary that we had to find it.  So, we called Papa and he came over
and we put our heads together and had a joint hope that it wasn't the pump.  I am
glad to say that it was not the pump, but instead was a small pipe leading to the
pressure switch that had gotten filled with gunk.  Papa and Beth went and picked
up the parts we needed from town, and Kent scrunched into the well house and fixed
it.  What joy, what felicity it was when the water again gushed from the faucets and
we could flush the toilets!

As for the bull, we gave him the shots he needs, but were unable to pull up the foot
to examine it.  The calf is still ringless. 

The next day Kent said, "I am sore from the bull."  I replied, "I think you are sore from
scrunching in the well house."  After a pause Kent said, "Scrunching is really hard for

Oh, and no, we didn't bring home any deer from the deer woods.  But, the season still
has several more days before it ends, so there is yet hope....and there is water!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Today is Mama's birthday.  What a companion and friend she was to Papa,
her children, and her grandchildren.  Just yesterday I was at a friend's house
and she had Osage Oranges on display.  I told her the story of when dad
tricked mom by putting an Osage Orange in the toilet and then staying
in the bathroom moaning and groaning while mom was worrying like
crazy listening to him.  Finally he let her in and showed her the thing
he had "passed".  She about fainted.  Then she about killed him.  She
was so delightfully gullible!  I miss her every day.

My mother-in-law, Oma, had a birthday a few weeks ago.  At 87 she is still a
hoot.  She was dusting up high in the apartment she and Opa have at the Senior
Citizen Complex they live in.  Somehow either the dust she stirred up or the
duster itself set off the sprinkler in the kitchen area.  It didn't sprinkle.  It
absolutely poured out.  And it kept pouring for 18 minutes.  Opa was playing
volleyball in the pool downstairs and was blissfully unaware of what was
transpiring up in his apartment.  Maintenance raced up but couldn't figure out
how to shut off the sprinkler.  They finally had to call the fire department for help.

Now Opa and Oma have to stay in a little room in the assisted living section
while their apartment is repaired.  And...the lady downstairs had to be moved
out also while hers is repaired.

As my new friend Tatyana says, "You know, Laurie, life is life!"

Monday, November 13, 2017

Today Kent and I toodled over to Mammoth Springs, Arkansas to
visit a friend from church and her husband.  Deryl and Sybil recently
moved to Mammoth from Mississippi, and they have just finished building
a beautiful home on the banks of the Spring River.

Sybil made the most delicious stew for our lunch and rounded it out perfectly
with bread and a salad.

I asked her for the recipe and she was happy to send me the web link for
it. Wow!  I don't think I have ever attempted to cook something as complicated
as this recipe looks.  I am very impressed.  I am also determined to wow my
family and friends with this recipe sometime...not sure when, but sometime.

In case you want to attempt it for yourself, the link to the stew, which is called
Daube Nicoise is here.

Later the gang came for dinner and Mike broke a tooth.  He didn't chomp
down on anything, it just happened.  Poor guy!  That'll mean a trip to our
favorite dentist.

We had such a dry end of summer and autumn that we haven't seen many
mushrooms.  Well, part of that is the fact that I haven't had a chance to
go hunting them.  But, mostly it is from the dry weather.  Yesterday though,
on a walk to our house, Kathleen, Colyn, and Peeta found some puffballs
and gave them to me as a surprise.  Tonight I sauteed them in olive oil and
butter.  Kathleen ate them and thought they tasted like mashed potatoes.
That's odd!  Colyn and Peeta wouldn't even take a bite, but the rest of us
enjoyed them.  Wild 'shrooms are so yummy.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Such a lot going on up and down the gravel this week.  Uncle Ken came for a
short visit, so there was lots of visiting back and forth and eating together.  We
all traveled up to the Big City for Uncle Bill's funeral on Thursday.  It was
such a hard day.  Cousin Sandy is so tired.  She has borne a great deal these
past many years.

Then we came home to prepare quickly for Fernnook Deer Camp.  Bill and Stacey
brought down her parent's camper and set it up in the back yard.  We kept the kids
inside with us.  The first night, even with an electric heater, the inside of the camper
was in the forties.  Under their electric blanket, Bill and Stacey managed, but their
faces were cold.  The second night was warmer outside and they said the camper was

Bill went out in Fernnook hunting on Saturday morning, came in to warm up after
several hours, and went back out again.  He shot his deer mid-day and then he and
Stacey (honor badge to Stacey for being the Pioneer Woman of Fernnook) worked
it up.

Hattie also bagged a nick buck, which her hunting buddy, Ryan, put in the freezer
for us.  Below is an old picture of Hattie gearing up for deer season.

Meanwhile the corral is finished, and the two cows to be fed out are securely
penned up in the barn yard lot.  Finally!

At Fernnook Lodge, Mike and Deb are furiously working on laying tile, and more
tile, and more tile.  They are planning on having a big Thanksgiving Day at the
Lodge, even though it is not yet ready for them to move in.  Their kids and grandkids
will start arriving a week from today.

Last Saturday Tandy and I took a flying trip to Pacific to attend Judy Martin's
(my sister's mother-in-law) 80th birthday party.  Judy's daughter surprised her
with a special recipe book that all the attendees contributed to.  It is something
I will treasure, and one reason for that is because Tandy put in two handwritten
recipes.  One is for popcorn and the other for a recipe she made up and that has
no title.  They are so sweet.

Becky and I were a little emotional because we were remembering being with mom
at Judy's 70th birthday party.  It was a small luncheon and mom and I had gone to
St. Louis to attend the funeral of her Aunt Mary.  Becky met us at the funeral and
invited us to the luncheon.  We had such a lovely time together that day, and it was
just weeks after that that we found out mom's cancer had reappeared.  We miss her so.
Her own birthday is in just two days.

On a totally different note, I have been readying The Fascinating Insect World
by J. Henri Fabre.  It has incredible observations by Fabre of various, you know,
insects.  I like insects, mostly, but I do not like the Praying Mantis.  I always
felt that they were very creepy critters, and Fabre has proved my point.  A Lady
Mantis will slowly devour her male Mantis paramour...even, as Fabre says, as
they are in the act.  The male will not loosen its grip on the female until
she has devoured (slowly) his head, neck, and chest.  I know that it is interesting
information like this that keeps my gentle readers happy.