Helping Mom and Dad Work

May 24 – I had mentioned in my last post that our son David had come out on Mother’s Day to help us get some tings done. Well, his first words when he arrived were, “Well, what do we do first?”


[ Tomato cages completed ]

“Let’s go out and work on the tomatoes,” I answered, “lots to do out there” After Dale had explained what needed to be done, David and I dug the dirt out of the circle around the tomatoes, digging deeply enough that when the rains came, the plant would be happy to receive a good watering, and the rain water would soak down to the roots of the plants. David worked on more than one-half of the plants, while I did the rest. Why are younger folks able to move around more quickly than their mothers?

Next came bundles of straw which the three of us broke up and placed around the base of the tomatoes. Then the final touch – we carried the big tomato cages from back in the corner of the compost heap, and Dale and David placed them around each plant, pushing down hard until the metal sank into the ground enough so the cage wouldn’t fall over during a storm. While I moved the remaining cages into the place where they will be through the summer and fall, David planted the green peppers, being careful to make sure the dirt around them wasn’t as hard as it had become during several bouts of heavy rain.


[ Dig, dig, dig]

Then we were off to the front lawn where the yucca plants have practically given up the ghost. Where we used to enjoy the huge yuccas with their beautiful white flowers, there is practically nothing except a very few new plants that hadn’t given up yet.

On the other side of that section were the beautiful pink coneflowers or Echinaceas. Since the area is on a pretty steep piece of ground, it has always been hard to work around those plants without sliding down the hill to the road. Since the yuccas are not doing so well, I thought it would be good to dig up the coneflowers and plant them in a row just below the lawn.


[ These things are tough to get out! ]

Poor David! I planned the move, but he was the one who did the job! With a heavy shovel, he started digging out the plants, mostly huge. Since the soil was so hard, he had to jump up and land back on the shovel to make any change. An hour later, he had dug out the plants and replanted them in the row he had made.

After pulling the garden hose over to water the plants, he asked Dale if he had a ladder nearby in the garage. With Dale steadying that ladder, he reached up and hammered the gutter nails back into place.

After a little meal, we settled down to play a few games of Rummikub to close off our time together. Good for David who does all he can to help those who need him. Surely that was a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day! At least it was for me and for Dale too. – CHRIS

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Remembering Mother’s Day

May 22 – Thinking back on last week’s Mother’s Day, this one being number sixty. It’s not hard for me to think back on all of the very special days in May when I was so fortunate to have not only two children, but also a loving and caring husband Dale, a daughter-in-law Darlene, and a son-in-law, Harvey. Never once have I considered Harvey or Darlene as an in-law, no matter how many years have gone by.

170522_DaveBizSo many memories come to mind as this wonderful day arrives. Full boxes of Mother’s Day cards through the years are stored in a special place where I can look at and appreciate them all over again. In the beginning when I first celebrated my special day with David being not even three months old, I was happy to have Dale sign the card. Later when Biz arrived, she was just about three and a half months old when she clutched my card in her hand, once more with the greetings from her in Dale’s handwriting.

As the years went by, both kids learned to scribble their names on the cards, then sign them, and finally decide to print them. Neither one was too keen on using their handwriting skills, and much preferred printing over cursive. Both David and Biz wanted to send their own cards to both of their grandmothers as they were so special to them. As the years went by, Biz began to draw lovely pictures of flowers or other beautiful bits of nature in the cards she gave to them.

Dale and I were chuckling about a funny little story that goes way back! I can’t remember exactly how old David was at the time, but I do remember that he was not very old. After he and Biz and Dale gave me the Mother’s Day cards, and we would soon be on our way to their grandmas to deliver theirs, David looked at us very sadly. With a few tears in his eyes, and his usual smile completely missing, he began to sob. “Mommy has a special day. Our grandmas do, too! When are we going to have a Happy David’s Day?” Both Dale and I tried to explain that the calendar didn’t mark off a day for him, but he was pretty lucky to have relatives who loved him enough that he could have a special day every day! It was amazing to us that he really did understand, and sometimes, just for fun, we would tell him the night before that we would all be celebrating Happy David’s Day the next day!

170522_BizCollegeDale was so kind and faithful in making sure the kids had cards and gifts to give to their mother on each special day. In their teens both young folks were off to boarding school where nobody had to remind them of cards. Without fail, I would find their letters and cards and kind words written inside. But it was never the same!

How much I missed those two special young folks who were seldom able to come back home until school was over for the year. College days were no different. David was studying at a university in Michigan. After a year of missionary work in Thailand, Biz finished her education at a university in Tennessee. Both began their careers in Kansas, and were much appreciated by their co-workers. Both married: David is happily married to Darlene while Harvey and Biz had so many happy years together before her death over five years ago.

170522_DavidWorkingDavid had told us that he would be out on Mother’s Day and wanted me to make a list of things that needed to be done, and he would do them! I had no problems in making a list, but I did feel a little sad because he, with so many other things to do at home, still drove the fifty miles from their home to ours, with his sleeves all rolled up ready to get to work. He brought with him another Chicken Soup book, one of my very favorite series. Darlene always finds new ones; through the years she and David have given me over one hundred different ones. David also brought a bag of really tart dried apricots, probably my favorite fruit! Harvey always buys some too to add to the bag of goodies that he gives me for Mother’s Day.

170522_CatCardTo finish off this post, I want to mention some of the Mother’s Day cards I received. There was ne very loving one from Dale plus another he sent from our big cat! Just a word or two from that one:

From your loving Cat.
I thank you for the food you bring,
And for my little squeaky thing.
I thank you for your friendly talks,
And when you change my litter box.
I thank you for the naps we share,
And putting up with tufts of hair.
I thank you for these things you do. . .
But thank you most for being you!

170522_DarleneCardDarlene’s card with the beautiful rose on the front and her message inside, “I am so very thankful for your good example!” will always be remembered. She is so loving and kind!

Then David’s very touching words on his card: “Being a great mom is probably the single most important contribution anybody could make to this world. I should know because I have you, a truly great mom. I can’t imagine a force more powerful, a love more valuable, or a gift more lasting. My grateful heart is living proof of that.”

It was a great day all in all, leaving special memories and a thankfulness way down in my heart that God has given me such a wonderful family, who love and appreciate me every day, not just on this special one! – CHRIS

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The Unknown Woodchopper

150911_CutTreeMay 14 – Just a quick story from a week or so ago. I had mentioned that a section of one of the big trees near our house had fallen down. So on one of our Town Days, we had driven to Pleasant Hill to do some shopping and visiting before having breakfast after we arrived home around noon. Dale went out to the barn to get the riding mower ready for me to use while he would be working on the big tree that had to be sawed up now that he could start the saw!

Later on, he came in to tell me that the job had already been completed. “Already?” I asked. “How could that be when you just went out?”

“Well, I didn’t do it,” he said, “and I don’t know who did!” Finally, we came up with the idea that Harvey or Rob had done the job. They were just feeling sorry for their elderly in-laws! Only, that’s not what really happened! Harvey told us that he thought that our friend David once again was helping us out, and come to find out, that’s exactly what happened. He and his young friend Abednego from Kenya, had spent time with the saws and carefully picked up the small branches and took them off to our burning pile. They carried the large pieces from the trunks and took them home so Abednego could work at the splitting. David would do some other work.

Now, that was a real sign of friendship or another proof that old (er) folks are helped by others who always seem to enjoy doing good deeds, but not letting anyone else know about the jobs they have done. Later, when we found out whom the Good Samaritans were, David told me that they thought we were still sleeping when they arrived, and he was hoping that he wouldn’t wake us up! We weren’t, and they didn’t. They must have arrived shortly after we had gone to town for our usual day of buying and visiting with friends. – CHRIS

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So Where’s the Box?

170510_JitterbugMay 10 – Here’s a story that didn’t make us too happy at first, but at least we never found out until much later! After a day of Harvesters recently, we had brought in to the kitchen several boxes or small bags of food that would go to a family we know who certainly could enjoy the contents. After we had sorted through the contents, putting fruits with fruits, and crackers with crackers, etc. Dale stood by the counter where he always keeps a small box with check book, driver’s license, and phone. I keep my puzzle books there too, so I have something to do while he is putting gas into the car and gas cans.

When he turned around with a question on his face, I knew something was wrong! “Have you seen the check book, and other stuff I always keep on the front seat in the truck? I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find them!”


[ apples for the box ]

After giving him a negative answer, I suggested that we look around the kitchen where the boxes of food were sitting. No matter where I checked, I came up with nothing, just as he did! I even went down the steps to the basement to check where we keep some of those small boxes. Nothing. Back to the truck we went, and I climbed inside on my hands and knees, but no luck. At first, it was almost laughable as we just couldn’t figure out what had become of the little box and its contents, but after a while I became concerned. Those were valuable items, and we needed to find them.

Later on, when we delivered the food boxes to a needy family in the neighborhood, we searched through the boxes, hoping that we had just overlooked them in the first search. The family helped us in our search too, but no luck.


[ checkbook missing! ]

Not too long after we arrived home after the delivery, we received a phone call from our friend Donnalene who had received the books for the kids that morning at Harvesters. She explained that she had found some items in a little box along with the books.

At first, when she found the phone, she figured it was for the kids to play with. But then came the check book! She thought that Grandson James would be more than pleased with that because he was developing an interest in playing “office” when he could have materials like those in the box. But, when she found Dale’s driver’s license, she knew these items were not to be played with, but were very important for Dale to keep and use. No more office equipment in THAT bag! When she announced that she and her husband would be delivering those items that evening, Dale tried to let her know that it would be OK to get them later. Nothing doing on that score as she knew how important they were.

Later as we were working outside, this special couple drove about ten miles to deliver the lost items! By that time I had come to realize that really the whole thing was my fault! Why? Because earlier that morning when I had taken the books and the seed catalogs out of the truck, I ended up taking the box as well. And here I was thinking that Dale had somehow lost it. But I couldn’t figure out how until the call from Donnalene.

While they were here, she and David showed us the cutest little dog that she is babysitting. After we had looked around the yard, Dale and David walked around the house and checked on the big trunk of the ash tree that had broken off about a week ago, just about falling on the propane tank!


[ our back pond ]

Since Dale couldn’t get his saw to start, so he could cut up the tree, I suggested he take it to our friend Mike who would be with the Harvesters’ group. On the third try, Mike was able to get it going at full speed! Great! Now Dale could take care of that limb with all of its relatives and get it out of the way. Donnalene and I walked around the yard, crossed the creek, checked the surprise lilies, daffodils and narcissus flowers, and then moved up the hill to the pond that was plenty full because of all the rain we have had lately.


[ seed catalogs ]

After the folks had left for home, I jumped back on the riding mower to see how much I could mow while it was still light enough that I could see the paths I was mowing. I didn’t quite make it all the way around, but not too much was left to do the next day.

I did learn one lesson from these events – the next time Mike gets a catalog or Donnalene gets books for the grandkids, Dale will do the distribution! – CHRIS

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Bring on the Pallets

May 4 – As we have written about before, we volunteered for the Harvesters’ distribution of food each month. We have been very fortunate during all of the winter months, as we have not missed even one distribution day because of cold or snow or even rain! I think of God’s goodness as we have bright days for the giving of food.


[ Cars waiting for their food ]

After the truck has driven off, and the parking lot has been cleared of all of the extra cardboard boxes, which are burned in the location behind the church, the area looks clean again. THEN we see and hear the beginning tiny rain drops that soon grow into a shower while all of the volunteers are on their way home, not getting one bit wet from the rain! A number of times, early in the week, we have seen on the news that there will be rain on Wednesday, our food distribution day. I’m glad that the predictions made by the weathermen aren’t always correct!

During our most recent trip, the Harvesters crew were trying a new plan.. In all of the years we have been volunteers, the huge truck drives up into the church parking lot, the truck doors on both sides of the truck are quickly opened, the tables set up, and we volunteers get to work piling up the items in our particular section. Soon we are ready for Jim to go out to the road and send the vehicles on their way to the food tables. From there, they drive around to the other side of the truck and receive more food waiting for them.


[ Unpacking…what the driver brought ]

I don’t know who thought up the new way of handing out the food this time, but it was different enough that many more pounds of food could be given out. Paul, the genial, always-smiling driver, stacked some pallets together at the back of the open truck; then Dennis, who with his wife Pam, were the originators of this Harvesters plan at our church, had brought his tractor several miles from the church and scooped up the pallets, and placed them all along the parking lot in a semi-circle.

Mike, another one of the volunteers, helped guide Dennis to the dropping-off place and kept other folks out of the way of the tractor and scoop, lest they suffer injury! Speaking of Mike, when we arrived at the parking lot before the action began, I took some seed catalogs over to him, catalogs that Dale receives so many of. Both of those guys are avid catalog readers, always looking for something new to plant!

At the same time I gave to Donnalene a plastic bag of books for her small grandchildren. I think I mentioned James in an earlier blog. He is the really cute little guy who just turned five, and always greets me with a big smile and a hopeful question, “You got books?”


[ What a variety! ]

By the time we were ready to start the distribution, the vehicles with their occupants were part of the line that stretched way up the hill. As I thought of the kinds of food that we passed out to the folks, I was both pleased and surprised at the variety and amounts. Now this is just from my remembrance, as checked by Dale (and we probably forgot some). There were big watermelons, apples, blueberries, grapes, grapefruits, huge oranges, tangerines, plums, strawberries, lemons, limes, mangoes, tomatoes, fruit and vegetable trays, lettuce, bagged salads, mushrooms, garlic, soft drinks, brown eggs, donuts, muffins, cakes, all kinds of crackers, and yogurt!


[ Grapes, anyone? ]

Through the years we’ve become friends with many of those who receive the food. If I happen to be close to the car, I will quickly move over to shake hands or give a hug to the driver. This last time, I was behind the big box trying to reach way down to the bottom to bring up the last of the food, when I heard somebody calling me, I nearly fell back into the box, but was able to get back to my feet and hurry over to give the driver a big hug. I really think I enjoy the hugs and good wishes more than anything else on Harvesters’ Day! But I will never take for granted the wonderful work that the organization does in so many areas. – CHRIS

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Picking Morels, Hoping for Fruit Trees


[ Covered all over with sweet violets ]

April 30 – This whole last week has been grey and damp, not particularly fit for outdoor activities. We had some thunder before we went to bed last night, and then as we lay in bed, the lightning put on its display. Sometimes one can actually see the lightning with the eyes closed, but last night that didn’t work for me. Will have to put out the rain gauge as it probably is not going to freeze anymore. At least we know the wildflowers like the rain.

A couple of days ago we planted our little Candy onion seedlings, and yesterday we planted a whole row of baby cabbage plants. The rain last night took care of their moisture needs. I’m waiting to put out our tomato seedlings until early next month, just in case. Will have to mix up a batch of fertilizer to pour on those pots.

Chris has been working on our yucca patch on the front bank, and the few remaining plants have all been cut off, but their large roots remain, too large to just dig out and I am not going to work on slopes with my balance problems. Our yucca patch used to be large and imposing but has died back and had few plants remaining. Chris blames voles for digging in and eating the tubers.


[ Chris pulling out the yucca plants ]

I had a hard time facing the morning today. That bedside clock said it was 9:30 before I got up. So much to do, inside and outside, but my personal activator needed more rest. We have a push mower that will not start, so I shall have to take it over to our repairman and see what he can do. Our son-in-law Harvey stopped by the other day to see if he could influence the thing but it remained silent.

Everything is so green now, including the lawn that always seems determined to keep us behind in our mowing. The dandelion stems are standing tall all over the place, reminding me to get to work on that Stihl weed eater for which we bought an attachment last week. The original system has a rather complex method of installing the cutting twine, and I cannot grasp the details, so instead bought a device with lengths of the twine that one sticks in on both sides of the head and just uses them until they are too short and need to be replaced.


[ Fresh morels ]

I don’t remember if I mentioned in an earlier blog about finding a patch of large morel mushrooms in the back of our property. They were certainly attractive and eye-catching, and I collected a good number of them in a box. We very seldom find morels although they are common in areas not too far from here. These were all hollow, and I opened them all and washed them. One of the nicest ones had a whole colony of ants living in it, and I just consigned morel and ants to the trash can. Chris cooked them all (not the ants) and served them to me for supper, not taking any for herself. Must be that she is not a mushroom lover. These morels may have been a trifle over-aged, but the taste was ’fair to middlin’ and I consumed the lot. I’m hoping that the several I had left growing out there will produce spores for a good crop next spring.

We have a variety of fruit trees and flowering trees on our property, and one never knows what a particular tree will produce each year. Our two apricot trees will have no fruit at all, our two pear trees just a few, the two giant Asian pear trees will have just a few pears despite the heavy crop last year, and the three Nanking bush cherries have no crop this year. But our three sour cherry trees are just loaded with cherries. Am hoping the two chestnut trees will bear well, but they don’t even have any blooms on them yet.


[ Quality Hill Playhouse program ]

Our son David took us to a musical program in Kansas City this past week. The MC and pianist was J. Kent Barnhart, a talented musician who kept a very straight face as he played and spoke and made various witticisms that kept the audience laughing. His father Don is a good friend of ours and lives just down the highway a couple of miles away, but we have never gotten acquainted with Kent. On the way home we stopped in to see Don and to introduce our son and to say how we had enjoyed Kent’s program.

Recently David arranged with his tax man to do our tax returns for 2016 too. In the past we have always had our taxes done by an AARP volunteer, but this year we were a bit too late in making our request and there were no more time slots available. Ah well, we did our part in improving the economy! – DALE

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Just Being Nice

April 30 – A quick followup from my last post:

170430_LiquidPlumrLater that day we were shopping at Wal-Mart trying to find a blind to replace one that had been damaged, plus a small container of Liquid Plumbr. We walked from aisle to aisle, but just didn’t look in the right area. We decided to stop and ask a tall man who was sweeping the aisles with a huge broom. “Well, I’m not sure where those blinds are either,” he said. Awhile later, as we were still hunting, we met the same man, who told us to follow him, and he would take us to the proper area. Nice he remembered!

As we were checking out the various kinds and sizes, an older couple was doing the same thing. Since I had just come from the hospital I told them about Rita, and her desire to help others. Then I told them about the man with the big broom, the one who led us to the place where we were now checking out the blinds. Finally, as they had found what they wanted, they said they had enjoyed the conversation and stories. The lady’s last words to me? “I have decided just to be kind. You have had a real effect on me!”

170430_CanesNow I wouldn’t go that far! It was the kind people that I had told her about who really made the difference. Just after that, I stopped to wash my hands. Just as I was about to leave, a lady stepped up and said, “I can tell you are really nice.” Well, I didn’t know quite what to say except, “Thank you. What makes me “nice?”

“Well, you just look so good, and I can tell you’re not exactly young as far as age goes. But I can tell you are happy, and YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A CANE!” – CHRIS

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Visiting the Docs

April 27 – Last month after my doctor had checked over the report sent to her by the one who did all of the testing to find out what makes me tick (or if I can still keep going), she started reading the results aloud. “OK for that,” she said as she read the first line. Glucose the same, blood pressure was good, cholesterol, and triglycerides were good.


[ Bone density numbers ]

When she found no problem, she asked, “Have you ever had a bone density test?” My answer? “No, I don’t even know what that is!” I guess she was thinking about my age when she suggested that I should have one! After that test done by Latisha, a very caring young lady, my doctor told me to keep on doing what I have been doing, and all will be well! Now that was good news! As I stopped to thank Fallon, at the patient registration area, I received a big hug from one who treated every patient with a real welcome!


[ Mammogram machine ]

Just a short time later, I was scheduled for my yearly mammogram at the same hospital. As I was sitting in the lobby reading, a happy looking lady came out to ask with a question mark in her voice, “Are you Chris?” As I walked along with her, she led me down the hall to the room where mammograms were taken.

Very friendly and concerned that all would go well, Rita started a few conversations. That was great, as I always like to make new friends, even in a hospital situation! As she prepared for the test, she reminded me several times that if I were in pain, I should let her know so she could fix the problem. My answer was always the same, “It has to be done, so what good would it do to complain and start all over again? So, I wouldn’t tell you if it were painful, but it isn’t anyway!”

When the test was completed, we talked a little bit about our lives, etc. As I mentioned being a missionary in Africa, her face brightened, and she said, “I knew it! I just knew it! This morning, when I saw the list of patients I would have today, I was pretty sure that this would be the third year I had done a mammogram for you. I just hoped it would be, but I waited to be sure, until you mentioned your work in Africa!”

I don’t remember whether her hug or mine was the most joyous and appreciated, but I do know it was a blessing to see each other again. I was especially glad that she had not forgotten me! After she had checked to make sure the test was satisfactory, and that she didn’t have to do another one, I got dressed and ready to go out to the lobby to tell Dale the good news.


[ Who you winkin’ at? ]

Along the way we talked about winking, of all things! When I told her I have never ever been able to wink with my right eye, she laughed and said, “Me neither!” Back in my teen years, a number of us young folks would get together for a meal and games.

We played games like Winkum, where the girls sat in a circle of chairs, and each of the boys would stand in back of a seated girl. One boy would have an empty chair, and he would wink at a girl hoping she would escape before the boy behind her held her back and quickly move to the chair of the boy who winked. Then the boy with an empty chair had to do the winking. So we two were the same in at least one way! We also talked about helping others when we can. When I asked her to go out with me to find Dale, she readily agreed. Not only did I want her to meet him, but I wanted him to hear the story about blinking!

After one last hug, Rita pointed out she tries to treat everyone with kindness. Sometimes folks need an extra helping of that because they aren’t feeling well, especially in the hospital. While we are trying to help others to cope with problems they are having, the happiness that we share, always comes back to us! – CHRIS

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It’s a Growing Thing


[ Tomato trays ]

April 23 – Under fluorescent lights in the basement I now have a second batch of  tomato seedlings that I transplanted into small plastic pots. They look great so far.

Once the weather warms up for real I shall set them outside in the sunshine along with the first batch to get hardened off before they go into the garden. Also have a small tray of cabbage and pepper seedlings waiting for room alongside those tomatoes.


[ Candy onions]

In a larger tray I have two bundles of Candy onion seedlings stuck into potting soil to keep them moist until transplant time comes, and if the garden weren’t so damp I could get it rototilled and those seedlings transplanted. They don’t freeze easily, so will stand cooler weather than some of the other plants.

On the other hand, once they’ve been transplanted, the cabbages like cooler weather as well.


[ Discarded euphorbia ]

In front of our big living room window, I had a quite large euphorbia candelabra plant…at least until earlier this month. However, it no longer wanted to stand upright and kept leaning over onto the curtains. So I got a big pair of clippers and cut off the top several inches of the plant, with a lot of branches.

Euphorbias contain a lot of white, milky juice, and that juice was soon splattered around abundantly. The top section is now downstairs, drying out, and one of these days I shall plant it in a pot and hope it roots successfully. The rest of the plant is out on the lawn, destined for the garbage heap.


[ Spring daffodils ]

In our back yard our daffodil display is still quite colorful. Some of the flowers have faded, but other varieties are bright and visible from quite a distance. We have a couple of clumps that are just loaded with dozens of blooms, a different sort that grows a lot of bulbs in one big ball, all sort of grown together. You don’t plant this kind of daffodil with a single bulb, but with a whole clump.

We have two long rows of daffodil bulbs blooming, that were sent to us by Chris’ younger brother Pete Christoph as a memorial of our dear daughter Biz who passed away in 2011. Pete too has passed away, and now these flowers are a memorial to both. – DALE

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Thoughts on Food – Fourth and Final Course

170421_Corn Bread

[ Fresh cornbread ]

April 21 – Dale really enjoys the golden corn bread that I make from time to time. You can find the recipe for this particular treat just about anywhere: in recipe books, on line, and sometimes on the box in which the main ingredients comes. I prefer eating mine just as it is with nothing on it. Dale likes his with butter, but most of all, he enjoys breaking it into pieces for his morning cereal and milk.

Awhile back we were given several dozen big brown eggs. Well, not just “big” but huge! Thus far, every time I have broken one of these eggs open, TWO yokes pop out! Hardly ever in my whole life have I seen that many. Maybe once in a couple months have I seen an egg with two yokes. But these I am writing about now would make me very surprised any more if only one yoke fell into the dish!


[ Strawberries ]

Both of us appreciate the strawberries that were picked from our garden strawberry bed and put into the freezer. Another fruit that is most enjoyable is the sour cherry that makes so many treats, both as pies and puddings. I do NOT like the time we spend pitting the cherries, especially when the juice pops out and lands in my eye! Oh, well, it’s better when we do that in the winter, rather than do the job when we pick them off the tree in the summer! No extra time then. – CHRIS

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