Today, I can barely think of anything but Oklahoma and the dreadful scenes we've seen on our screens over the past day. I feel sad for all those who have lost their homes and all their possessions, but my heart is sore for those who have lost loved ones.
How little possessions matter in comparison with people.
I'm glad to spend a wee while on your porch, Patrice, but my mind is really south-west of you. Were we actually on your porch, I have no doubt but that our talk would be all about Okie and the tragedy there.
1. Are you a heavy sleeper, light sleeper, or somewhere in between?
I'm a fairly heavy sleeper. I also love my sleep, and woe betide anyone who disturbs it. Thankfully, I was blessed with four babies who loved their sleep as much as I love it myself.
2. Are you currently reading anything interesting?
I normally go off into a quiet room at our lunch break, and during this hour, I read the Bible and some other book. I've had different ones on the go over the past while, and I'd thought today of blogging about some of them. Great minds, Patrice ;)
At the moment, I am reading one chapter of The Attributes of God every lunch time. I have to say that some of the chapters (actually, all of them) have been so wonderful that I have tended to re-read many of them.
On the go at other times of the day is a selection of books, including The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament, which the girls and I are studying together, and any number of cookery books.
3. Do you like to enter contests?
I have barely never entered contests. I do make myself laugh at times, maybe when I hear of someone I know winning something. I may say to one of the kids, 'I never win anything', to which they'll reply, 'Do you every try?'.
'Ahhh,' I admit.... 'that'll explain it'!
4. Are you good about taking time to do things you enjoy?
Well, I'm not sure how to answer this. I do know what the question means but there is little I enjoy more than simply being at home with the Builder and the kids.
Having said that, I have realized this past year that I probably ought to make more effort to look after myself. I did realize how important the lunch-hour-quiet-time I spoke of in Question #1 is for me. For a few months last year, I had to change my routine, and I missed out on this me time, and I did not fare well.
I realized that I need times of silence. Of knowing I won't be disturbed (barring a major emergency). Of simply not having to talk. Or to listen.
I do feel wonderful if, after our evening meal, the kids sort the kitchen out and the Builder and I sit in the Lounge with a cuppa and have some time simply to chill and chat. That half-hour or so is a real treat to me.
5. What's your favourite food to cook on the grill, or enjoy at a BBQ?
I have to admit to not being overly keen on BBQ food. I'm not a fan of charcoal, so when we're having BBQs here, I tend to have most of our foods pre-cooked, and then just chuck 'em on the grill for a short time just to heat them up, and to give enough of a BBQ flavour to fool everyone else.
Yep, I'm a cheat.
This is a post about sheep.
The Wee Guy, Big Brother and his younger sister were moving sheep this evening. It was such a beautiful evening, it even took me out of the house.
They took the sheep to the bottom of the croft into a pen for some dosing and marking.
Did I mention it was a beautiful evening. The temperature is still in single figures (Celsius), but with a very light breeze, and sunshine, it felt wonderful.
I can't say they were too happy at being locked into the pen, but sometimes, needs must.
When I turned the other way, this was what I saw. The machair and the calm Atlantic.
Now, which one first?
The Wee Guy sorted out the doses: 5ml of something and something ml of something else.
I really know my stuff, don't I?
After a while, he decided Auntie Catherine could get the filling-the-doses job and he'd do the lamb-catching for Big Brother.
His technique needs honing, but with a teacher like BB, who could go wrong?
After all, he's taught me all I know.
The lambs get sprayed with a blue dot and an additional dot of either orange or red.
The red dot tells that this lamb's dad is John Wayne.
An orange dot tells us that Bruce is the daddy.
"Am I doing it right, Anne?"
(I do my best to reassure him every so often that he's doing great.)
But then I had to leave them to it. It was after 7pm and the guys at home hadn't been fed.
The Builder doesn't complain about much (anything, in fact), but I did reckon I ought to go and get dinner served. It can be quite a novelty having him home at a reasonable time in the evening, after all.
On my way home, I passed John Wayne and Bruce.
Their babies were being dosed, and marked specifically to show whose they were.
Do they look bothered?
Hi Patrice! Well done for getting another chat sorted for your porch. I know this is such a busy time of year for you, so all us bletherers appreciate your efforts. Here we go with this week's questions ...
1. Do you have any fun plans for the summer?
Well, we are expecting some visitors, Patrice. Not sure if you heard .... ;)
Our summers tend to be fairly busy, and we are hoping to go to the mainland for a wedding during the Builder's summer holiday. It's also the Builder's 50th birthday during the summer and I think I'll treat him to a couple of days away with me.
After all, what more could he want that to have me all to himself for two whole days?
Oh, are y'all shocked he's fifty? Y'all reckon he looks fighting fit and in his prime?? Yep, me too.
Any excuse to get a photo of both the Builder and Jackson into a post, eh?
Here are the three men in my life.
Fighting fit? Yep, I reckon so.
2. Are you currently dieting or following a specific eating plan?
Oh yes, I follow daily eating plan here. It goes something like this:
Plan what to eat. Cook it. Eat it.
Preferably lots of it.
As for diets .... Nope. Maybe one day, that will begin. I have promised myself every Monday for the past year or so that I will begin a diet of sorts. But it never happens.
3. How often do you wear blue jeans (or any other colour of denim)?
Well, I haven't worn my favourite item of clothing for some time.
For the purposes of this question, it's the trousers I'm talking about. They are, what I call (Miranda moment - apologies to all who know nothing of Miranda. And even greater apologies to those of you who do know Miranda and think she's awful. I'm with you on the thinking-she's-awful bit. However, I digress ...) cut-offs. My kids call them too-long-to-be-shorts-and-too-short-to-be-longs.
I suppose on other (normal) people, they'd be half-way up their shins. On me? Well, you can see where they are on me.
Anyway, after all that, Patrice, I haven't even answered your question ... Not like me to blether on. My normal daily attire is denims jeans of a similar length to the trousers seen in the photo. Hang on - they're actually shorter, and they used to belong to my sister. I wear a lot of her cast-offs. My daughters tell me that if my fashionable sister doesn't wish to wear certain items of clothing any more, that this is a good indication of the fact that they ought not to be worn by anyone.
They are, of course, talking nonsense. These denim cut-offs are fabulous, and no one can convince me otherwise.
4. Who is your favourite singer?
I love Andrea Boccelli's voice. And this short video will endear you to him even more. I love Josh Groban's voice too - oh, there is something mellow and strong, deep and warm about his voice. He really does have the most wonderful gift.
I think Hayley Westenra has one of the clearest, loveliest female voices I've ever heard.
What a gift a beautiful voice is!
5. Have you cooked anything interesting lately?
I've cooked plenty, but I don't think I've cooked anything interesting! Daily meal times can become rather 'same-ish', can't they?
Have a great week, Patrice. I hope the weather is being kind to what you need for this time of year. Our weather is decidedly cool.
Aka Freeeeezing. Not technically, but the windchill over the past few days has been only one degree above freezing. Maybe this means a long hot June and July.
Or maybe it means nothing but a cold May. We dream on...
To get this,
we need these.
And to have these, we need to do this:
Here's the peat bank from last year.
The Builder uses the spade to begin turfing the peats - that's taking the ceap off.
He makes a line parallel with the edge of the peat bank,
and then begins cutting across, loosening the thick ceap.
The ceap is then placed here, so that the person throwing the peats has a solid place to stand. It also means that in years to come, the area looks exactly as it looked before peats were ever cut.
Here, you can see the rows of turfs from the previous couple of years.
Once it's turfed, the Builder scrapes the top, just to clean take away the last bits of roots and heather.
I then have to put the camera away and get to work. I'm using the peat iron - a taraisgeir - to cut the peat out of the bank. The Builder throws the cut peat onto the bank, where it'll be left to dry.
I was so glad Big Brother wasn't out.
The angle of the taraisgeir is wrong,
and each individual peat varies in size and shape: some are bigger than Cornflakes packs, and others were like wedges.
It's just as well the Builder has patience. And it's as well I can laugh - at myself, mostly!
The Builder is beginning to turf the next length of the bank. You can see where the peat was cut: the top line shows the turfed part, and then you can see where the peats have been cut, and those thrown on the top of the bank, waiting to dry.
That is just the beginning of the peat - cutting-drying-lifting-taking-home saga. No doubt, you will see a fair bit more of the moor in the weeks and months to come.
1. How many loads of laundry do you do each week?
I haven't a clue of the number, Patrice. We have smaller washing machines over here than you have in the USA. Our machine is a 6kg, but I do think yours are considerably larger. Over the past few days, my washing machine hasn't stopped. DR spent the past two weeks in Inverness on a course for the Fire Service, and the washing that came home with him was ... well, you can imagine! Added to the 'normal' stuff, it has meant I've dealt with Mount Everest this week, rather than my normal Ben Nevis.
2. Where do your household pets sleep?
Jackson discovered the shoe cupboard about three weeks ago. We always kept the door of this cupboard well and truly shut when he slept in the Utility Room, thinking he'd chew every shoe there! But, one day, he nosed his way in, lay in the corner, and has never been happier or more settled. This cupboard/room backs onto the wall where we have the stove, so it's very warm and cozy.... That probably explains his delight at the find.
3. What is your favourite thing to listen to whilst driving?
If I'm on my own, I like ... well, hang on... you know, it actually varies. At times, I enjoy silence - after all, that's a gift I don't get too much of. Often, I listen to a sermon, and other times, I listen to music. I never tire of Vivaldi's Seasons, and it brightens my day and gives me the oomph I need at times.
4. Do you have to do a big clean-up when you have company, or are you always ready for guests?
The last part of that question almost made me choke on my banana muffin!! Always ready?!!! Ummmm, NO, I am not always ready at. all. My best clean-ups happen when my Mum is on her way to visit. (Is anyone else like this? Please say you are.)
We do have a Lounge that's always tidy. Sometimes, the Builder and I go and sit up there for about half an hour in the evenings. We take our cuppa up there, sit in a no-mess room, have some time to talk ...
It makes me ready to face the evening.
5. What's your favourite breakfast food?
Well, I am very boring with breakfast food. I simply have tea and toast. The kids mostly have cereal - Weetabix and Cornflakes or Krispies - always Kellogs: I'm told that is very important.
'Why not the cheaper brands?', I ask. 'They are awful!', I am told.
The Builder takes porridge most of the time, and when the kids were younger, that's all they ever had. Sadly, they are now onto the flavoured cardboard - aka boxed cereals!
* * *
Over the past couple of days, I've made a few batches of these Banana Muffins.
The muffins themselves are so soft, and eaten along with the crunchy topping makes this the yummiest banana muffin I've made until now.
The topping reminded me of Laurie's Coffee Cake.
Do y'all remember the Coffee cake - the cake that's called a Coffee cake but has no coffee?
Read about how we first discovered Coffee Cake, and find Laurie's recipe here.
Hope y'all have a great week!
I haven't shown you many photos of this year's lambs, and for just now, I'm going to re-post a post from last year's lambing time.
Big Brother asked me to go feeding with him the other night. The conversation went something like this:
BB: Anne, would you please coming feeding with me? I would appreciate your help so much, and I know the sheep love to see you from time to time.
Me: Well, of course, dear. Just let me get my wellies, my oilskins and my disposable gloves.
BB: Your disposable gloves? What are you gonna take gloves for?
Me: Well, in case any of the sheep need my help in giving birth.
BB: silence. He simply gave me The Look. If you've never heard before, The Look is that expression which basically says, 'Woman, go find a town to live in. You are way out your depth here'.
I am very unappreciated.
.... but they seemed happy to see me.
Doesn't that expression say, 'Hi, Anne! Lovely to see you again.'...?
(Or does it say: 'Get out my way, woman, and let me get my food.' ...?)
None of the sheep flocked towards me. However, once BB began whispering his sweet nothings, they flocked around him like there was no one on earth quite like him.
Well, there actually isn't, but they don't know that.
When the Mamas are feeding, the lambs congregate for their playtime. It is delightful watching them jump and skip and chase each other around the shelter. They are soooo cute.
Round and round they go.
After they'd been fed, BB went to the bottom of the croft with food for this sheep.
"Why is she getting special treatment?", I ask.
She had, apparently, given birth just a few short hours before this. At this stage, Mama likes spending some quality time with her lamb, and Big Brother obligingly takes dinner to her.
When I'd jumped into his pick-up and announced I was coming with him to get some photos, the sun was shining. By the time we'd reached here (400 yards from the house), it was very dreich indeed.
I wanted to prove you to folks out there that we do have blue skies from time to time. Sadly, more grey is all you'll be seeing from this post...
Wow, Patrice, you're getting close to hosting your hundredth chat. It's been great joining you over the past year (or more). Thank you so much for your questions, your hosting, and the willingness with which you open your porch to all and sundry each week.
And a huge cheer for Wendell, who has had to put up with a gaggle of gaggling women week after week after week. He really is a brave fella.
1. Do you prefer to drive or be driven?
I love driving. I've loved being behind the wheel of a car - of any vehicle, for that matter - since I was knee high to a grasshopper. My dad taught me (and all my siblings) to drive when I was very young, and I'd sit with a cushion or two under me! I would also have to sit as far forward as I could so my feet would reach the peddles.
Hang on ... isn't this still the case?
Well, not quite, but I do still love driving. Unless the Builder is driving, my choice would always be to be driving myself, but I do love to sit and be driven by him.
2. What's your favorite kind of jam, jelly, or preserve?
I think raspberry jam is my favourite. I love a thin spread of it on Katie's Victoria Sponge;
I like a dollop of it on my 6-2-6-2 biscuits;
and I love a rather large dollop of it on fresh Griddle Scones.
Definitely time for some baking, and I think the scones will be today's choice. Yum!
3. Do you have any special plans for this spring or summer?
I don't think so. Our vegetable garden is not going to keep us as busy this summer, but we are planning on a few jobs around the house. I think our first task is going to be the Wee Guy's bedroom. We painted the room white when we moved into the house, shoved a bed, a wardrobe and some drawers into it, and that was that. I am hoping to get a wall-to-wall fitted wardrobe in there, and make his room more like what he would like.
All I need now is a willing builder ...
4. Lots of folks are becoming aware of issues with food. There are many articles, books, and movies on topics like allergies, GMO, pesticide use, bad or no labeling, over processed foods, foods from other countries that may not have high standards, and many more topics. What concerns you the most? If nothing concerns you, have a cookie and skip to the next question.
I'm tempted to say nothing concerns me if it means I can have a cookie ...
But that wouldn't be true. I am convinced that we are putting a lot of stuff into our bodies that is bad, bad, bad. On a very basic level, I've never trusted Low-fat foods, or Sugar-free foods for the simple reason that I don't think natural sugar is bad, and neither do I think natural fats are bad. The problem with these foods is what they are putting into them to make up for the fat and sugar. We need the flavour, and so natural sugar and fat is replaced by chemicals.
I don't know enough about GM foods to comment, but I do know that when we take the gifts God has given us and change the way He wished for His creation to be used, we are usually on a path that is not good.
Look at all the wonderful animals he gave us for meat ... a great gift to be used, but horrid when misused.
There's nothing quite like sitting at a meal with meat that has come from home grown animals. Knowing the treatment Big Brother's sheep get, seeing how they're cared for, and knowing they only get good food to eat, makes that lamb joint a whole lot tastier when it's on the plate.
Do they look like happy chappy sheep to you?
Yep, to me too.
And if I'm able to add our own vegetables to the plate, well ... all the better.
5. Do you use nail polish often? Finger nails, piggies, or both?
Pigs?? People put nail polish on their PIGS?? Well, you learn something new every day.
As for me, I put some clear nail polish on my finger nails last week because I was going to a wedding. I guess I'll repaint them whenever I'm going to another wedding. As for my toe nails, I've never painted them. This has nothing to do with not being able to reach them - after all, they are rather close to the upper part of my body. Rather it has to do with ... erm, well, I guess a couple of things:
1. My toe nails are so tiny, I really don't think I could do them neatly.
2. Why? I just don't get the whole painting-toe-nails thing. I guess I was born in the wrong era, in the wrong part of the world, or a combination of both of these.
(Can you see my daughters rolling their eyes as they read this? Any of you who have teenage daughters will know exactly what I mean ... Right?)