Sunday, August 31, 2008

How I Used the Vegetables

After church today, I was seized with the urge to cook, especially since I had those nice vegetables from yesterday. Once before I had made a delicious ratatouille pie and always wanted to try something like it again. Here is what I did today. Sauteed a mixture of cut up veggies (eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, pepper, onion, tomatoes, garlic) in a pan with a little oil only til tender and stirred in some Italian seasoning. I prepared a pie pan by buttering the bottom and sides and sprinkling about a tablespoon of flour over it. In a bowl, I beat two eggs, added maybe a quarter cup of milk, Parmesan and mozzarella, dashes of salt and pepper, and stirred in the vegetables - and some fresh spinach, too. Poured it in the pan and baked til done. Quiche-like sans crust. I thought it was great.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Farmer's Market

Summer gardens will soon quit producing and since I hadn't made a trip to the Farmer's Market all year, I went this morning. I bought some green beans, squash, okra, peaches, pretty purple peppers, a nice eggplant, squash, and a jar of dark local honey. And of course, I snapped a few pix.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Today's Pizza: Before and After

I can thank Stuart and Paige's garden as the inspiration for today's pizza. After the dough's rising and resting and then making the pie shape on the pan, it was ready for the good stuff. First a light spread of olive oil and a sprinkle of their freshly dried herbs from their garden. Then a small amount of tomato sauce, a little reggiano, and shredded mozzarella. The topping had slices of fresh banana pepper, red pepper, and green granny smith tomatoes that I brought home from my visit Saturday. Another sprinkle of herbs and cheese and into the 425 oven it went. Delicious!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bad Breath in Bugs?

Garlic chives. I hope this fella doesn't make honey.

The Girls of August

My grandmother always thought it was special that she and I had August birthdays ten days apart. Now it is special to me that I have a granddaughter with whom I share an August birthday and only four days apart! (see Paige's blog) But we are different. It took me decades to get as comfortable with myself as Ashley has by age six. After our dinner in downtown Dandridge on Saturday, we walked across the street to a park that was really a Revolutionary War graveyard, and Ashley started gracefully posing as if she were the model in a photo shoot. Paige and I saw the opportunity and started clicking away. Ashley posed on benches and next to the trees and against tombstones. She tossed her head and laughed and gave sultry and pouty looks. Born to model, I suppose.

Let's hear it for the rain!

Today is the third day of a magnificent rain, the likes of which has not been seen around these parts since the drought began a couple of years ago. It should help put the Green back in Greenville. For me, I am glad to be able to hang around the house and hear the steady drizzle as well as feel the power of the heavy, blowing rain. When there was a lull, I thought there may be a photo opportunity in the back yard. This raindrop dangling from a morning glory leaf reflecting - magnifying upside down - its surroundings is what I came up with.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to work

Thankful as I am for my terrific vacations this summer, there is something almost comforting about getting back into the swing of things with my work. Yesterday I started another season of clinicals, teaching in the familiar place I fondly refer to as my "day job." It is easy for my co-workers to tell when I am there in another role; not only do I wear a different name tag and dress better, but I have a gaggle of green and white clad student nurses hovering around me. Yesterday they oriented to the unit, got their patient assignments, talked with their patients, and listened to me. Today they attended groups and classes and talked with patients and listened to me more. (I always think I share too many stories with them.) In the morning while the students were occupied, I had a chance to go to Employee Health to get my annual PPD test. The nurse also checked my record and said it had been ten years since I had a tetanus shot, did I want one. "I'll give you the one with the pertussis." Eventually I gave in to her convincing argument of how I could carry of this dreaded disease to little children if I were not immunized. Now I have a sore arm to prove my dedication. My students this week are nice young women who are either interested, polite, or both, but student nurses are always glad to leave no matter how polite they are. After I set them free at four, I walked over to the Emergency Room, which is in the basement of the hospital, to finish a twelve hour shift for another nurse who needed to leave early. I had been there about thirty minutes when we heard the announcement "Code 5, blah,blah,blah" over and over. Wasn't that the code for tornadoes? Would I get crushed by the nine floors on top of me or was I in a safe place? I needed some chocolate. Too bad for some folks at Clemson but the hospital was spared the twister. I finished my time in the small section of the ER that holds difficult "behavioral" patients and headed home in a beautiful and drenching, welcome but slick rain. I found two brownies left from a batch I made earlier in the week. Not the finest chocolate but satisfying. Just like my work.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's a Southern Thing

Stopping by a Peach Stand

Boiled peanuts and delicious peaches are summer favorites in South Carolina.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Georgia Bug

Two Pears

My first attempt at something like a still life.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


As I hit the publish button on my blog yesterday, the phone rang. It was a call not to come in to work. The census was low and I am part time and that is how it goes. Such is life... So I adapted and tied up some loose ends around the house, but the best thing was that I got to watch the Olympics. Since I have been in the work force and especially away from home in the evening, I have missed much of that every four year event which I really find so exciting. I guess it was the  1976 Olympics that got me hooked. My boys were on the swim team, playing baseball, and living sports. Why, it was just the neighborhood on a much grander scale! So today, after a good message and music at church, and another yummy BLT, I am definitely going in to work. It's good to be adaptable.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hired to Care

Since I became a nurse in 1985 I have worked steadily and faithfully, but have had to adapt in certain ways to keep it fresh and interesting and to keep me caring. Adding teaching, which will start back soon, to my work schedule has been one of those ways to energize myself as well as to talk with new nurses about caring, that most necessary professional value. Personally I think if a nurse starts to lose it that she should move to a place where she can care or get out. Today I return to work after being off for a few days and I am getting my head in gear, revving up for what awaits me. There will be some needy people who must be cared for, and I must care enough to provide their care. I also must care enough about my employer, the hand that feeds me, to do and be what is expected of me. And I must care enough about myself to get away, to allow time for renewal and keeping up personal relationships. Like most things, caring is a balance. It was good to have last week away from the workplace and when I go back today, I should be ready to do my work of caring.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The BLT and Beyond

What would summer be without delicious bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches? In spring when the new tomato seedlings are tapped in the ground, my mouth is already watering for what will follow. I love the basic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich but find that varying it is just as yummy. Broccoli sprouts were added to the chopped lettuce here, and I used big juicy slabs of tomatoes since I have plenty. A little smear of chipotle sauce gave it some zing. Sometimes I like a straight veggie sandwich with cream cheese or a soft bleu cheese as the spread. Thin slices of cucumbers and red onion, grated carrot, sliced avocado, spinach leaves, and any other fresh vegetable you like can be used. My current favorite store bought bread is Healthy Multi Grain by Arnold, which is seen here. Soft white bread just doesn't have the power to hold a good meal in its grip.

A quiet day...

Caroline just got back from camping a week at Great Smoky Mountains National Park so the outdoors probably isn't as exciting as the recently lesser experienced television. But I did get her to walk with me to the neighborhood playground where she swung and checked out what was in the creek. Any minute now we will leave for kid friendly Red Robin and a bleu ribbon burger, one of my favorite eats.

I see the attraction.

A monarch on butterfly weed, asclepsias tuberosa. The web says it is a milkweed plant that monarch butterflies especially like for the nectar.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grand Girls

Seven year old, brown eyed Caroline is visiting me this week while her mother prepares for another year of teaching. We are finally getting to spend some time together, just the two of us - and the television. She seems to like the fact that she can get the Disney Channel, Nick, Raven, Zack and Cody, and whatever else is for kids better than anything else I have to offer. In spite of that, I know just how important grandmothers can be. My own joyful and courageous Mama who, if anyone lived to be a vibrant 118 anymore, would be celebrating her birthday today. When I was Caroline's age I couldn't have dreamed that I would become the grandmother one day and would someday be reaching into my memory bank for what Mama had taught me. Maybe tomorrow I will get Caroline away from the television and we'll each sip on a 6 ounce bottled Coke while I tell her about the old days.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I suppose I have always loved bugs, even before I was given "The Real Book about Bugs, Insects and Such" when I was nine or ten years old. Now I am not such a lover of mosquito bites, seeing a palmetto bug nervously scoot across the ceiling, slimy slugs or those nasty no-see-ums, but bugs are fascinating living things that are necessary to our survival on planet earth. So really...they are our friends. Here are some pictures I took a little while ago on a bug safari in the back yard.

Rainbow Wings here was a tiny fluttery thing on a mint flower.

Always glad to see bees at work.
A black speck on a leaf turned out to be this fella.

The Two Wolves

I wanted to put this favorite email forward on my blog.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside of people. He said, "My son, the battle is between the two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?" The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Anxiety and Fear

A complex topic I would like to research is anxiety and fear, pretty much the same things. I was talking with another nurse yesterday who said when she was in nursing school, she was taught that anxiety is the root of all psychiatric illnesses. Not all I would argue, but certainly it has been the obvious underlying cause of several problems I have witnessed in my work setting lately - a conversion disorder, a specific phobia, and is almost always related to depression. Many habits, ritualistic behaviors, and drug and alcohol abuse are to cover or avoid anxieties. Important decisions are unwittingly made based on fear. The Bible in one of its pithy understatements addressed it this way: "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) i.e. fear is in direct opposition to a sound mind or sanity. I like to ask my hospitalized patients what is it they fear. Sometimes they know or at least have thought of it - but often not. Anyway it is a good place to start looking when trying to understand what is going on in a person's head.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The fairest of them all

When I went to Lowe's to buy my tomato plants on a Monday morning in spring, I found they had all been sold on Sunday except for two scraggly plants left to wither and die in their peat pots. I took pity on one, bought it, kept it from the heat in the car and verbally nourished it on the way home. Then I gave it a big gulp of water, let it absorb and placed it in a nice hole in my garden. "You will grow to be a big, beautiful plant," I whispered. It took time to establish roots but then started growing by leaps and bounds. Now this fine specimen is my most prolific tomato bearer. With encouragement and belief in its possibility, this plant, a living thing, became strong and thrived. Analogous?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Little Brother

I knew joy beyond measure fifty-three years ago today. About eight months before, I was excused from my fifth grade class because of a surprise visit to the principal's office from my mother. But it was good news. She had just been to the doctor's office to find out she was pregnant and couldn't wait until I got home to tell me. Later I learned that she had wanted another child for a long time and happened. We spent most of the time from then on talking about what to name the baby, and maternity clothes, and how her body was changing shape, and also preparing for the new arrival. Then in the wee small hours of August 6, 1955, I was awakened and whisked off to a neighbor's house to wait it out. When Daddy called in the early afternoon to say I had a little brother, nothing could contain my happiness! I went from door to door proclaiming the most wonderful news event ever! The next day, as I was too young to legally visit, Daddy sneaked me up what I think was the Presbyterian fire escape so I could see him snugly lying in the hospital bassinet. O happy day! When "the baby" - as Rob was called for many months - was brought home, I could at long last hold him, and sing to him and gaze upon him endlessly. I am so appreciative of the way my mother and daddy let me be a part of the wonderful event. I think it put an extra dab of glue in the whole bonding thing for me. Even now, if someone asks, "Are you and your brother close?" I tell them though we don't see each other that much, I have felt close, bonded from the very beginning.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Scenes from a Butterfly Garden

On the way home last week we stopped by a nature place in Virginia that had a butterfly garden aflutter with many of these pretty white butterflies and a couple of huge monarchs. One small "defoliaged" area had a few caterpillars like this fellow who looks like a train heading west over rough terrain. A web source said it will become a black swallowtail.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


If I had tried coffee before, I don't remember, but my first cup was the finest. The beans were from Kenya and had been roasted to perfection sometime within the twenty-four hours prior. I took out a handful, ground them in my Ditting, and brewed them the recommended conical drip way. It was my "crack" experience and I have been looking for another perfect hit ever since. My childhood and young adult homes placed little importance on coffee. Usually it came with a long shelf life, crystallized in a jar. But when I was in my thirties and sipped my first uniquely tasty cup, I learned not only to drink it but also about it. Coffee was coming out - of jars and percolaters - in the late seventies/early eighties and a certain elitism was forming around it. Where were the best beans grown? How were they graded? How was the best coffee made? French press vs slow drip? What temperature should the water be? How to store it? Which roast was preferable? How to recognize certain aromas? Coffee is now the biggest of businesses, one of the top three traded commodities, I have been reading in Javatrekker by Dean Cycon, the fair trade coffee guru and owner of an organic coffee business. Large plantations and small indigenous villages in over seventy countries grow the trees that produce the berries that are harvested, cleaned, fermented and dried, that we depend on today. Since that first elegant cup, I am still a bit of a coffee snob in my heart though I drink the bitter commercially packaged stuff for the drug effect when I am at work at the hospital. How kind of them to provide the stmulant free of charge. At home though I continue the search for a really good cupajava. This morning's coffee, beans from a Rainforest Alliance brand, was decent and satisfying and will send me on my way, but I couldn't help but wonder which part of the world grew the beans and whose little brown fingers picked the red berries that eventually flavored my cup.