Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!" - From "Rabbi Ben Ezra" by Robert Browning

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dinnertime: Chicken with Peas & Onions, Couscous, and Tomatos

The days are getting warmer, so the meals need to be lighter. This one, made with pre-cooked chicken, took all of five minutes to throw together. In a bit of olive oil, saute the onions, add chicken, add peas. Serve with Couscous and sliced tomatoes. Absolutely delicious!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Show Us Your Pearly Whites!

It has been a long time since John and I had any dental work done. With limited funds being stretched in a variety of important directions since we married, our dental needs have repeatedly fallen to the bottom of the list.

A few weeks ago we found a good dentist and arranged to have an initial visit for X-rays, exams, and a cleaning. Although John had his cleaning, I did not. They told me I would need a deeper cleaning, that I had a tiny cavity to be filled, and that my wisdom teeth should be pulled. John was going to need a lot of work. We knew that though. He'd had problems with his teeth for years (a gold crown fell out some years ago). The estimate for my dental work: $1900. The estimate for John's dental work: $2400.

Last Tuesday, I had my teeth cleaned and the cavity filled. The bone loss was caught early, and more will be prevented. I was very happy with the results! My teeth are now very clean, and I am on track with their care! However, I did decide not to have my wisdom teeth pulled. I'm 55, and I've never had a problem with them. If I get them pulled, I'll have holes and healing to deal with, and my jaw line will change as a result. I felt it was better to leave well enough alone! The final cost: $650.

Today, John had the first phase of his dental work done: one molar root canal, a core buildup, a porcelain crown, and the extraction of one tooth. The extraction appears to have been the hardest part. The doctor said he'd never had such a difficult time. Tamika, the technician, said big guys are always difficult. John's strong bone contributed to the need to extract the tooth in many pieces. The whole procedure took a little more than three and a half hours. Today's cost: $1620.

When did going to the dentist get so freaking expensive?!!?
This is Tamika, a brave young woman!

John is sleeping now, heavily, under the influence of pain medication and strong narcotics. He isn't going to be able to eat anything solid for a few days. He isn't going to feel like doing anything for a few days. That's okay. I'll pick up the slack around the farm, and make sure John has cold, ice cream-protein powder shakes to drink when he gets hungry.

You know guys ... such babies!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pictures of the Farm, Spring 2012, Part One


John came in late this afternoon and asked me to go riding with him around the property. So I grabbed my camera and hopped into the golf cart with him.

I managed to get a few nice pictures before the sun went down, and thought I'd share them with you tonight.

We started our tour near the chicken pen. That's Samantha in the foreground of picture #1. She's grown so much since we got her in December! She's the most fearless little animal I've ever known and an absolute bundle of love!

That's Maggie behind Samantha, watching the chickens, and yes, their "coop" is a dog house! That was John's idea, and it works! If you look close in the first picture, you'll see one of the hens up on the top of the pen. They do that all the time!

In picture #2, we're looking at the chicken pen through the yard fence. That black spot down center is my dad's Scottish Terrier, Chu Chu. All the dogs like to check out the chickens several times daily.

In picture #3, you can see the Crepe Myrtle. It hasn't bloomed yet, but it will be a dark pink when it does. More importantly, behind the Crepe Myrtle, you can see our primary fig orchard. We'll have an abundance of small brown figs ripening in August. Last year, I canned the harvest in a light syrup. This year I might try a fig jam!
Picture #4 is a shot of our back yard looking South to North. That entire row of greenery was fully blooming Forsythia only two weeks ago! In the distance, besides John's blue work van, you can see the chicken kite that John designed and built. Picture #5 is a close up of the kite from the back end. I'll blog more about the chicken kite another time.

Picture #6 is a shot of the back of our house, facing West. The patio is a bit junky right now. We've been doing our spring cleaning and we've gathered a lot of stuff we need to get rid of. John never disposes of anything too quickly, in case it has another use. I'm a household recycler, but John is a recycler of any kind of machinery!

Picture #7 is a close up of two of our three snowball trees. They bloom twice each year, in the spring and in the fall. I absolutely love these trees! As the blooms age, before they turn brown, they are easily blown from the trees by the wind. Once, the petals on the ground gave me an idea, and I gathered a bunch of the petals and strew them all the way up the driveway, as a welcome for my mother, who was on her way over to visit (with my dad). She loved it!

Picture #8 is a shot from the back gate, facing East over the lower part of our property. On the left, at that bunch of trees, are the bee hives. To the left is my father's grapevines. Further back are some storage units, and out of sight, to the left, our greenhouse.

Picture #9 is facing South, along the back fence. Those are Garden hives, 5-frame, that John moved there at the advice of a more experienced beekeeper. John successfully split our three hives into six, and may be able to split again in the next few weeks. On the other side of the hives is our mulch pile. It's three years old and a lot smaller than it was when we got it!

Picture #10 is of our one and only pear tree. In seasons past, the limbs have been so full of giant round pears that they hung to the ground with the weight. The tree hasn't produced in the last two years, but is showing a lot of fruit this year. Picture #11 is a close up of little tiny pears already filling the branches!

Picture #12 is a shot of the greenhouse. It sits on the back of the property on the North side. It gets the first rays of sun in the morning, and a good bit of the day's long light. John helped his father build this greenhouse in 1992. Picture #13 is a closer shot of the greenhouse. Those trees in front of the greenhouse are our secondary fig orchard. Yeah, we need to clean out the undergrowth!

It's after 11 p.m., so I think I'll stop here so I can publish this blog before Midnight. My next blog will be a continuation of this one, with plenty more pictures!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Time Keeps on Slippin', Slippin', Slippin'

Collards and Broccoli bolting
Oh yeah, and weeds! Plenty of weeds!
While we were pushing ourselves at a murderous pace through the last three very busy weeks, distracted by doctor appointments for John and Dad (two to three a week), a reception for my niece and her husband, a grandchild's birthday party, bees getting ready to swarm, and a couple of pressing projects ~~ like turning our storage room into a guest room (with company almost on the doorstep at the time), changing things around in my father's room (because he was ready for a little change), and emptying out my father's house so others could move in ASAP! (Why is everything always asap?), as well as finding someplace to put all the stuff we had to move! (Can you say Yard Sale?)  ...

The winter garden moved on without us!

Mother Nature doesn't move at the preferred pace of men. She doesn't slow down and wait for us to catch up, and she certainly isn't in a hurry to get to the finish line of any particular project like a vegetable garden, no matter how much we beg her! (Are we there yet?)

Perfect and beautiful heads of Cabbage ready to pull ... and weeds
Mother Nature moves in perfect harmony with Time. They are an inseparable couple.
Flowering Broccoli ... and weeds

If you turn your back on Mother, she doesn't get offended, and she doesn't storm off in a huff. She very simply just keeps going ~ in the same direction, toward the same goal, at the same pace, hand in hand with Time.

When we turn around again and look, we are shocked to see that we have missed out on something, that Mother dared to carry on something (like a vegetable garden) without us! We might feel hurt. We might feel offended. But Mother doesn't notice.

She's already moving on. This project is over, others are in the works, and new ones must be started, whether we are ready or not.

Early tomorrow morning, I will harvest the cabbages and the collards, and see if there is any broccoli worth saving. At least I got a great first harvest of broccoli about a month ago. It's the side shoots that have bolted. I'll wash, chop, blanch and freeze the collards for summer eating. I'll cook lots of fresh cabbage this week, give some of them away, and see if I can find a local shop to buy a few of them (there are about a dozen heads).

I can't help it that we've been so busy of late. Things have to be prioritized, and I think we've done a good job of balancing our responsibilities. The Winter garden was well established and nearing it's end. We knew that. Our constant attention wasn't needed, although more than a passing glance and a nod to the fact that we needed to get in there and do something would have been good.

As Mother Nature always does, she let us slip by this time, but not without a mild chastisement, a small penance to pay to keep us in remembrance of her authority, of her timeline. Oh yes, she has given us perfectly beautiful, edible fresh vegetables, but she also gave us weeds.

As John and I move ahead now to clear the garden bed and prepare it for the summer crops, as we're bending over our hoes hacking at the weeds, Mother's lesson will teach us that it is a good thing to visit the garden daily, no matter what, to pull a few weeds, daily, a few at a time, when we see them, so they won't gather in such number at the end of the season, laughing at us as we bend our aching backs over our hoes, hacking away at their laughing little green faces.

Mother sure can be a ...

The real eternal struggle of Man!

Oh, wait! As I sit here planning to harvest veggies early tomorrow morning, and spend the day processing them, I suddenly realize I have church in the morning! Ah, well, looks like it's going to be a busier day than I thought!

Friday, March 16, 2012

As Busy As Bees!

Things have been pretty busy here at 5~Acre Farm. We're only just getting a chance to catch our breath... well, I am. Poor John is still pushing himself at a maniacal pace! His primary concern right now is the bees. With the unseasonably warm weather this week comes the possibility that the bees are ready to swarm.

John, ready to check the bee
Swarming indicates that the honey bee colony is reproducing. The old queen bee will leave the hive with about 60% of the worker bees to form a new hive. That's tens of thousands of bees leaving the old hive box where a new virgin queen will take over and produce tens of thousands of new worker bees.

We're raising Minnesota Hygienic bees, which were developed at the University of Minnesota over several years. "Hygienic" bees are just that, hygienic. They are the Felix Unger of bees, and if you don't get that reference, just think about bees with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). They keep their hives absolutely spotless, reducing the chances of mites and diseases, and increasing their chances for strength and survivability.
Our first three hives

John's job right now is to watch for signs that the bees are preparing to swarm and have new hive boxes ready to be inhabited. If the boxes are nearby and ready, at the right time, John will capture the queen and put her in a cage, then put the cage in a new hive box. Other bees will be pulled to go with her. She'll be kept in the cage, in the hive box until the colony is established. If John misses the chance to do this, the bees could swarm and go high up into the trees or even leave the farm. That would be a big loss for us, since we are trying to grow our bee colonies and potential for honey.

Opening the hive
If John is successful, we will go from three hives to six. Our potential for honey will also double. This being our first honey season, we are expecting to harvest 10 quarts per hive. That is what has been suggested to us by other beekeepers. That's 30 quarts total. Next year, with six hives, that will mean 60 quarts of honey. If we have six hives next year, they will potentially double to 12, and will produce 120 quarts of honey the following year.
These are 10-frame hives

That's a lot of honey, and it sounds great doesn't it! But it's not that simple. All kinds of factors will influence the size of the hives, their reproductive abilities, and the amount of honey to be harvested. Bee health is imperative. Right now, we are lucky to have not just strong hives, but super-strong hives. This, I believe, is due to John's absolute attention to detail in their care. He inspects the hives daily, reads everything  he can find about bees, does internet research late into the night, and asks zillions of questions of the other beekeepers at our monthly beekeepers' meeting.

Removing an outer frame for inspection

The bees also have to be well fed. In order for the hive to thrive and prosper, you can't rely solely on flowering plants and trees to provide pollen and nectar. When we brought our bees home last June, we started giving them sugar water on a daily basis. Seven pounds of sugar per gallon of cold water was recommended. We kept this up well into fall, until, at one of our monthly beekeepers' meetings, the best beekeeper in the state told us we probably didn't need to give them that much. We stopped the sugar water for a little while, but started giving them a lighter syrup in the new year.

Frame, bees on both sides, filling in the combs with hone
Now, it's Spring, and we're holding off on the sugar water again while nature provides the pollen and nectar the bees need. However, to insure that the bees are getting sufficient nutrients, John is providing Protein Patties to supplement nature's provision. "Pro Patties" are filled with vitamins, anti-oxidants, and trace minerals that contribute to colony strength. As indicated, these pro patties provide needed protein, whereas the sugar water provides carbohydrates. You can see the Pro Patty (halved) on either side of the top of the hive box. Each hive has already consumed three split patties in one month.
Inner frame, fully covered and filled in

The bees also have to have a fresh, available water source. There is a fresh-water pond less than a half-mile away, on our neighbor's property, and we keep fresh water near the hives. John has hung a few hummingbird feeders nearby, and, to the right of the hives (see photo above) there is an old humidifier that John re-purposed as a waterer.

The yellow hive tool is used to separate and remove frames

It is also important to keep the bees in a poison-free environment. Weed poisons, crop dusting poisons, even bug spray can all take their toll on a bee colony if they are exposed. 5~Acre Farm is, for the most part, removed from populated areas, and we do not use any poisonous chemicals on our orchards and crops. The few neighbors we do have must not be using poisons on their lawns and flowers, because we haven't seen any evidence of it in our hives.

The Hygienic bees are great at keeping their hives clean, but John is still diligent to inspect regularly for signs of mites, wax moth larvae, beetles, and other harmful insects which can quickly decimate a colony.
John built this removable rack to hold frames while he works

As strange as it might seem, having a fire ant colony near the hives is a good thing. They keep the surrounding area clean of dead bees, beetles, larvae, and spilled honey and pollen, and anything else that is littering the area.

To sum up, if your goal is a strong, thriving hive, the following points are important issues to pay attention to:

  • A nutrient rich diet
  • A clean, intruder-free hive
  • A fresh water source
  • Avoidance of chemical poisons
  • Frequent hive inspection
Larger bees are drones
I'll post a lot more about the bees as the season progresses. It is exciting to be involved in this process. Mother Nature does some incredible things, and we not only get to watch, we get to participate! John has dived into the deep end of beekeeping, and he is doing a fantastic job. I have every confidence that he will be considered an expert within a couple of years. I'm glad that John has taken the lead in beekeeping. He is teaching me a lot, but I find my time primarily needed elsewhere on the farm. But I am blessed to know that these bees are in the loving, capable hands of my husband.

John likes to tell folks that we have acquired a half million new employees. They always look stunned. Then he jokes about how difficult it is to fill out all those tiny little W-9 forms. Folks don't always get it right away, but they always have a good laugh when they do!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

And the Husband of the Year Is ...

This is my husband, John. It is almost Midnight, and John is doing what he does every night. He is cleaning the kitchen so I don't have to.

John works every day, all day long on the farm. He works until after dark. Then, before bed, he goes into the kitchen and cleans up before I get the chance to do it.

I don't require this of John. I have never asked him to do it. He does it because he loves me, because he wants me to rest, or have enough time to do my blog, or ... you know what? He had me at "he loves me."


Is this the husband of the year, or what?

Can't help lovin' that man of mine!

Dinnertime: Slow Stewed Beef and Gravy with Colcannon

It's 82 degrees, and I'm sweating like a son-of-a-gun! I've just come out of the kitchen where I fixed a meal that is probably right for the season, but completely inappropriate for this hot day. Never-the-less, we are all enjoying our Slow Stewed Beef and Gravy with Colcannon.

It hasn't even been a week since we had colcannon, but I've been craving more!

This time I added a good pinch of crushed red pepper to the stewed beef, along with a bit of diced garlic, salt, and pepper. I cooked the cabbage and onions in butter, with a scant tablespoon of bacon grease, and added salt, pepper, and chopped cooked bacon. I kept the mashed potatoes simple, with just a bit of butter since all the other components to the meal were well-seasoned. However, I added a bit of worchestershire sauce to the potatoes for a flavor boost. That's something my first husband taught me to do with mashed potatoes. It adds so much flavor! I threw a tuft of lettuce greens on top to add a bit of color to the dish.

John says I outdid myself this time... the wild beasts are coming in from the woods around us, drawn by the smell, to see what we might toss their way! LoL!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Finding Time to Cook, to Eat, and to Be With Family

Dad's house, winter 2008. 

I can't begin to tell you about how busy John and I have been the last few weeks. We knew in early February that the first two weeks of March were going to be very busy. Besides our regular Beekeepers meeting and CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training classes, there would be doctor appointments for both of us and my father, dental appointments for me and John, an ongoing spring cleaning project, and special preparations for the bees as we get nearer to their swarming time.No sooner had the month arrived than a new project, more urgent, fell into our laps.

My father has been living with us since Mother passed away in 2010. I know, I've mentioned that before. Well, we've sort-of been taking our time cleaning the house out because we stay so busy here at the farm. (There is only so much the two of us can do with the time and other responsibilities we've been given.) We've advertised the house for sale, but had no buyers. Then, last week, our pastor, who knew we had an empty house, told us of some folks that needed to find a new place to live, and needed to move in rather quickly.
Dad and the greenhouse he built in 2009, at age 82

We all met, and, although Dad and I had been against renting (and the various problems associated with being a landlord ~ been there, done that), we found this situation to be one arranged by God. When we met the prospective tenants, we realized that these folks needed a home, but more than that, they needed a place to find peace and rest. We knew Dad's house could be that for them: a large, roomy structure on two acres out in the country (but only five minutes from downtown), grapevines my father had planted, birds my mother had enticed with seeds and breadcrumbs, and nightly visitations from a small herd of deer. Privacy too. There are neighbors on all sides, but the houses aren't on top of each other like they would be in a subdivision or city setting.
Greenhouse interior

We determined that these people would take better care of the property than many renters would, and that made Dad and me feel better about renting since the house wasn't selling. The timing for this was also good because the rent money is going to be used to help someone we know has a significant need. So we are all feeling good about this, and recognizing how God put it all together, because God never does just one good thing when He can do many, and in this situation, He is doing many good things!

Back to me and John though, and these very busy first two weeks of March! With the extra burden to get Dad's house emptied, John and I have been pushing ourselves well beyond our "plum tired" levels to new levels of "I can't feel my legs" exhaustion. If it hadn't been for our pastor, his son, and a friend helping us move out the boxes and furniture to storage, we couldn't have completed this mission without one of us ending up in the hospital. We are grateful to God that when He set this whole thing up, He also thought to provide the muscle for the move! (Thank you Gus, Anthony, and Sal).

I had to see my doctor today, and renew some important medications. We've got some finishing touches to do at Dad's house, and there's a birthday party in Marietta tomorrow for one of our grandsons, but we seem to be on the tail-end of this particular busy season. I have no doubt that more busy seasons are right around the corner, even in what remains of this month, but right now we are getting the chance to catch our breath again.
Dad's tomato plants

One of the first things we sacrifice when we get busy is healthy eating. I have absolutely no time to cook, and haven't figured out how to provide healthy, satisfying meals when we're constantly on the go. So we find ourselves eating convenient foods, snack foods, or whatever kills the hunger pains. Lately we've been eating carry-out pizza and chicken, sandwiches, canned soup, and hotdogs and hamburgers. Even breakfast has been a grab and go scenario! Besides disliking our limited choices, Frugal Me hates the fact that I'm spending so much money on food that I could be preparing at home for a fraction of the cost -- if I had time!

So it was really nice today to know that I was going to be preparing a home-cooked meal tonight. It was nice to have time to think about what we have (freezers and pantry stuffed full) and what i wantd to prepare for my family.

John is a big man, 6'5" tall, and 300 pounds. He will eat just about anything, but shouldn't. Here on the farm, he works hard physically, from morning till night, so he needs a hearty meal with significant protein and carbs, and fresh veggies. Things like quiche, veggie wraps, and simple sandwiches are not going to satisfy him. But John is a diabetic, so we have to make sure that what he is eating healthy foods in reasonable amounts that aren't sending his blood sugar count too low or too high out of whack.

My dad is 85 years old and won't wear dentures, so it's important for him to have foods that he can chew adequately and digest well. He isn't impressed by fancy gourmet meals, can no longer enjoy spicy or highly seasoned foods, and flat out refuses to eat most vegetables. He likes simple, uncomplicated foods, and I rotate his three favorite meals throughout each month (pork neck bones and rice, spaghetti, and chicken and macaroni). Dad is also a diabetic, but he's in good shape. His blood sugar level is rarely outside the normal range. My challenge with Dad is to provide good nutrition without cooking the food to mush because he has no teeth. The other challenge is to prepare vegetables he will eat!

Me? I'm also a diabetic. I focus on keeping my blood sugar in the normal range, and losing weight. I'm doing okay with the blood sugar, but weight loss is a constant struggle for me since there are plenty of factors working against me, even when I cut calories and exercise. Most of the time I juggle the same five pounds up and down. Sometimes I get tired of eating. Sometimes I graze looking for that one satisfying "thing". Sometimes, I have no appetite at all, but still need to prepare meals for Dad and John.

I've always loved cooking, but find that I no longer have the energy or stamina to prepare big meals for family and friends. Sometimes I have to force myself into the kitchen to prepare a meal for just the three of us. Tonight, however, it was a joy to get back into my kitchen and cook for the guys after these busy weeks of fast food.
Dad and Mom, Feb 5, 2009 (her birthday, age 81)

Whenever I'm working in my father's house, and especially this week as we've emptied out the last of my parents' belongings, I find myself thinking about my mother, and missing her. Among all the work and exhaustion this week, I've shed plenty of tears missing my mother and aching for her company.

Mother was my greatest food critic. Every other week, John and I ate breakfast with them on a Saturday. Every other week, they joined us for dinner and a movie on a Sunday afternoon.
Dinner and movie at 5~Acre Farm

Mother ate everything I ever prepared for her with delight and enthusiasm. She loved a formal table setting, a well-dressed plate, fancy food, and a taste of something that at least looked exotic. She never hesitated to tell me what she didn't like about one of my dishes, but she was also full of praise for the meals she enjoyed.

Really, I think my mother was my cooking muse. I was always excited to cook for her, challenged to prepare something beautiful and tasty that she would ooh and ah over in delight, devouring every morsel until she couldn't eat one more bite... until I presented her with an irresistible desert! I've had no cooking inspiration at all since Mother passed.

I could tell you much, much more about my mother, but to do so would take up many, many blog entries. So for now, because it fits, I'll just add that although my mother was born and raised in England, she was 100% Irish. Raised during WWII, with severe food rationing in place, however, my mother never learned to cook or enjoy cooking. She tried to learn and expand her skills, but found cooking a chore, not an effort of love. One of the sad things about this is that my mother couldn't introduce her faily to the foods of her country or her heritage. I've had to learn them on my own.

So, I've been thinking about my mom all week, and I'm also aware that St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner and my Irish is stirring. With time to think about it today, and time to prepare a proper meal for my family tonight, I chose to make something simple and familiar, but with an Irish twist. Cubed Steak with Colcannon and Brown Gravy.

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish. In its simplest form, it is made up of mashed potatoes, onions, and cabbage. I chopped the cabbage and onions, and simmered them together in butter over a low heat until both had caramelized. I seasoned the cabbage and onions with salt and pepper while they cooked, and stirred the mixture into the mashed potatoes when ready. Served with cubed steak and a peppery brown gravy, the meal was complete, tasty, hearty, somewhat nutritious, and quite comforting.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Love and Marriage, Young and Old

There were terrible storms last night. Thunder rolled over the farm for hours, and lightning flashed constantly throughout the night while the wind roared. The dogs, always distressed during storms, were much more so last night. Once we let them in, it took them quite a while to calm down, but heavy claps of thunder still kept them skittish. John was up most of the night, dealing with the dogs, power outages, and other issues that arose. And the rain came down in heavy bucketfuls. You'd have thought there would be a pretty deep swimming pool in our yard this morning. But as the sun came up, it was evident that there was no damage,
none at all! We are so thankful to God for His mercies!

Although I was upset to hear about the storm damage and loss of life in north Georgia and the mid-west, I was relieved to know that our little farm had come through the night safely. I was also happy to see that the rain had ceased. Today was too important a day to be dampened by rain and storms. Today was the first anniversary of my niece's wedding four years ago, and a huge reception was planned!

Katie Mae and Ando were married on February 29, 2008 ~ leap day of leap year! They exchanged vows at the courthouse, with only their parents attending. Well, although Ando's parents made it, my sister took a few wrong turns four years ago, and missed the ceremony all-together.

Katie Mae & Andy (Ando)
Fast forward to now, the first February 29 (Wednesday) since 2008. Katie Mae and Ando, with the help of good friends, pulled together a beautiful reception held this afternoon at Red Top Mountain State Park in northern Georgia to celebrate their first official wedding anniversary! The theme was purple and white, and it was everything a wedding reception should be: family and friends gathered together, lots of toasts, lots of laughter, music, and dancing. Katie's friends, all beautiful, young women, and all dressed to perfection, would have served as her bridesmaids in a proper wedding ceremony. Today they served the crowd as hostesses, decorating the hall, setting the tables, preparing the food, organizing the events, and doing it all with gleaming smiles and wearing high heels!
Chantal with her son, Gentry, and Katie Mae. I have no idea who the other guy is!

My sister, mother of the bride, wept constantly, she was so full of joy!

Katie Mae and her PopPop

I cried a few times too, thinking of my own hard-won marital happiness, and my father's lost happiness. I miss my mother every day, but never more than I did today when my father stood to toast his granddaughter and her husband and wished them as many years of happiness as he and my mother had known together. That was 62 years for my mother and father.

The two-hour drive to Red Top Mountain this morning was pleasant and peaceful after a night of storms. The afternoon spent with family, friends, and new friends was fun, entertaining, and sentimental.

I danced with my husband today. We don't get to do that very often. My hips ached before the dance was over, but in spite of the pain I danced, and I let John twirl me around the floor. That's the part we love, the twirling, with a flourish! We kissed while we were on the dance floor too. The majority of the people at the reception were young, in their twenties, and although I would kiss my husband in front of anyone, I felt it was very important to kiss him in front of these young people, so they could see love and romance in the old. So they could see, and maybe understand, that being old can still be about having fun, being happy, being sexy, and being in love.

The guests gather
I didn't do a very good job of taking pictures today. Most of mine were blurry or dark, or blurry and dark.There was a professional photographer at the reception, so when the photos become available and get shared with me, I will share some of them with you.

In the meantime, don't forget to relax and enjoy your life. Find something to laugh about, and someone to laugh with. Celebrate something with champagne, and most important of all, kiss your Beloved in public! You'll make everybody jealous!

Tossing the bouquet
Claiming the garter