Culture, Food, Travel

Recipe Rethink

I’ve been lied to my whole life. Apparently, perch are not perch. I hope this is coming as a shock to everyone else too. What we call perch in the South are technically sunfish (I think. You might want to fact check me on that. Actually, just make a mental note now, you should always fact check me on everything I say.) So, upon discovering this, I felt I needed to take a picture with my first ever actual perch. Look at how cute this little guy was!

Note that I am wearing three layers. In June.

Note that I am wearing three layers. In June.

I’ve decided there should be a section on every recipe that gives you directions for cooking in less than ideal conditions. Sometimes, they’ll include directions for cooking at high altitudes, but how often do you make macaroni and cheese on a mountain? One time. I have done that one time. Which I was excited about because I got to use the special high altitude directions.

I’m not high maintenance. I can make do in a lot of situations. I think it’s more that I’m not very ingenuitive. Is that a word? As you can imagine, in a fish camp, the kitchens aren’t as fully equipped. Which isn’t usually a big deal because I don’t cook much on these trips. My dad is easy to please, so pretty much any sustenance will do. In fact, I think both of us could dine on only fish all week and be perfectly content. But, I bring a few easy things to throw together. And some vegetables, we can’t forget the veggies.

This year, I decided to get a little more inventive. Before we left, my brother asked if I wanted to take the mandolin (which I did consider, even though I’ve never used it before) or a cutting knife. But, I declined. If you know my track record with kitchen clumsiness, you’ll know why I declined.

I had a couple recipes I intended to make and at home, they seemed like no big deal. Unfortunately, I didn’t think things all the way through.

For banana pudding, you were supposed to whisk until smooth. No whisk? Use every utensil in the kitchen looking for the best fix and end up just using a fork. I’m pretty sure even the pioneer women had whisks. (By the way, is that word looking weird to anyone besides me?) I’ll fast forward and tell you that the fork method doesn’t really work all that well and that the pudding was definitely not smooth. The directions also said I needed to crush the cookies to sprinkle on the pudding. Luckily, the kind people at United Airlines took care of that step for me. Food processor? Completely unnecessary.

Crushed cookies

Crushed cookies

Steaming broccoli: all you need is some boiling water, right? Wrong. I forgot that a steamer basket would be needed for this task. My solution? A colander over boiling water, with a misfit lid. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think this was going to work. I thought I might end up with a new dish called broccoli a la plastic. But, it worked really well actually. Ya’ll make a note of this one, in case you are ever in a broccoli steaming pinch.

Quality engineering

Quality engineering

No pie plates? No problem. Use a cast iron skillet. It’s rustic. It should also be noted that the handle is super hot coming out of the oven and almost caused a second hand burning episode. (If you missed out on the first episode, read back a few posts and you’ll be all caught up). Luckily, my hand was saved the burning and no other major injuries were incurred. #success.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 7.10.43 PM

Culture, Food, Travel

Clean Cut

I think it should be noted that I’m writing this standing in front of the open oven door, seeing as how it is currently colder in our cabin than it is outside. 44 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. Which doesn’t seem that cold to anyone else, apparently. But, I won’t see temperatures like these til Fall. I don’t know how one place can go from freezing cold to hot in such a short amount of time. I wake up in the morning and I’m camping out in front of the oven, eating cereal, in sweats and a hoodie. I come in for the afternoon and camp out on the front porch, in shorts and a t-shirt, because it’s warm and stuffy in the cabin. I’ve noticed that layers seem to be the key here.

Layered up in rain gear

Layered up in rain gear

Being in a fish camp is so funny. Everyone wants to know where everyone else has been, what they’ve seen, what they’ve caught. How deep? How many? What bait? What did the water look like? What direction was the wind blowing? Weeds? No weeds?

I let the guys talk those things over, while I go through my list of concerns. Do we have enough coffee to last us through the morning? Will I need two jackets or will one be okay? Do I want an apple or a banana as a snack today? You know, the truly important things.

The best of the talk happens in what I refer to as the fish house. Jesse, the expert fish cleaner, was in there with piles of perfectly cut fillets. So, I decided rather than stand around and talk about the walleye spawn, I’d watch and learn something relevant. While observing, I learned what instrumentation was, heard about a Canadian cattle farmer who cut his thumb off with a saw, threw it in the trash, wrapped it and kept on going, talked about bungee jumping vs. skydiving, scars from childhood games of falling out of trees (Canadians seem like a tough bunch to me), the difference between Canadian and American Netflix (did you know there was a difference or am I the only one out of the loop on this?) and our similar taste in music (my favorite Johnny Cash song just happened to be playing while I was there). There, of course, were guys who came in to talk fishing and I made some mental notes about maps and bays and such. But, talking about life stories seems so much more interesting to me than depths and maps and figures.

Jesse making fish cleaning look easy

Jesse making fish cleaning look easy

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I was inspired and thought it would be fun to learn to properly clean a fish. This is a true Canadian experience, right? What made me decide this, I have no idea. The opportunity just presented itself. There is nothing in my current skill set that lends to the fact that I would be good at this. Unless you count the 3 million watermelon I’ve cut up in my lifetime. Which is a total exaggeration. And, which is nothing like cutting up a fish.

Jesse agreed to teach me (I would say he had no idea what he was getting himself into, but he actually probably did) and since he hadn’t cleaned my catch yet, he methodically went through all the cuts and showed me what to do on one of my fish, then let me try on the second one. As you can imagine, I was half paying attention, half chit-chatting. which, I know, is coming as a huge surprise to anyone who knows me.

I made the appropriate cuts and was very proud at the end of that venture. Mine looked a little rough, but nothing too terrible. It came up a huge storm and started pouring buckets with the loudest thunder that echoed off the water, so I got a little distracted while Jesse finished up.

Let me interpret this for you: I missed all the important steps at the end.

Stormy skies

Stormy skies

After this venture, I realized I had no pictures to document the proof of my newly established fish cleaning capabilities. I decided that I needed to clean one more in order to document it, plus I was absolutely sure I’d be better at it the second time around. This poor fish, he had no idea what was in store for him.

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 6.10.21 PM

(Let me make a side note that in the taking of this picture, I nearly fell out of the boat, then dropped the fish on my yellow rain jacket, covering it and me and the book I was reading, and everything else in my near vicinity in a layer of slimy mud.)
As I was walking to the fish house with him, my dad asked if I was going to cut the bones out. (Northern Pike have a row of Y bones that have to be cut out.) Only then did I realize that I hadn’t been privy to that lesson the day before and that I was going to need some “guidance”, at which Jesse walked up at the perfect moment for. So, I did filet the fish expertly (in my own opinion, probably not in anyone else’s), remembering everything he taught me, step by step from the day before.

Here’s the steps:

#1: whack it in the head. I’m not sure if this is an official step or not, but it seems necessary.

#2: cut right behind the gills, underneath the first fin, down until you hit the back bone. I was nervous about cutting through too far, but you actually have to push pretty hard because traction is difficult on a slimy fish.

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 6.16.18 PM

#3: cut down his backbone making tiny, almost feathery motions, until you come to the end. You would think guys who cut up fish all day would be rough, but it’s a more delicate skill than it’s given credit for.

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 6.20.48 PM

#4: at the end, stick your knife all the way through to its lower back fin and cut off through the tail. Do this on both sides and you’ll have your filets.

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 6.24.41 PM

See, this is where I thought the process stopped. But, it was after this that the train completely derailed. So there are about 25 other steps and cuts after this, but I’ll shorten my experience for you.

#5: make a lot of really terrible cuts and effectively butcher it all to pieces.

Jesse was making me laugh at my awful cutting

Laughing at my awful cutting

You know, I thought fish cleaning was something you could be naturally inclined for. (I actually think this about a lot of things so I like to try everything because what if I’m naturally inclined for something random that I’ve never discovered before? Like playing the harmonica or something? You could go your whole life without knowing you’re excellent at something, and what a waste that would be, right?) But, no doubt, it is a skill, learned and honed by practice. I think it would take me 100 fish to learn to do one properly. Jesse even had this cool way to clean around the bones and get even more meat off the fish, which was impressive for my “waste not, want not” personality. He showed me the “easy” way. I wasn’t good at most of it (really any of it) but, I was good at skinning it. (He told me I was better at the whole process than most guys he had seen try to learn it, so I’m counting that as win, although I’m sure he was just being nice.)

I will say one thing about my fish cleaning escapade. You never learn anything if you don’t try and a willingness to learn new things will take you far in life. I just don’t think it’s gonna take me anywhere near a filet knife again.

Culture, Family, Outdoors, Travel

Better Late Than Never

We’ve talked about my perpetual lateness before. That was the only thing I ever got detention for in school. I was late to first hour probably 3 out of every 5 days. Even if I was on time to school, inevitably someone would stop me to talk in the hallway and I’d still be late. So, I served my sentence for it. This time I have a good excuse for my lateness though, namely Canada’s lack of wi-fi and cell reception. So, you’ll get the full story, just a week late.
I think some of my earliest memories center around fishing and the water. I love being around water. My dad started me out when I was tiny. I remember my first little fishing pole, with a rubber cork tied to the line, and him teaching me to cast in the front yard. We had this little green boat that he’d take us out on the water in and I thought that was about the coolest thing you could do. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t big, it wasn’t fast. We weren’t catching huge fish or anything like that. But, it was the start of a life long love of the outdoors, passed from one generation to the next.

I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much time I’ve spent fishing with my dad over the years. A lot. So three years ago, when he suggested a trip to a fish camp in Canada, I thought that sounded like a pretty good idea. We made the 20+ hour drive and let me tell you, I never even imagined how remote it was going to be. Just you and the water and the sky. Beautiful.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m rather fond of it. Time is our most precious asset and spending genuine time with the people you love, doing the things you love is important. Catching fish is just a bonus.

Farm, Food, Funny, Garden, Health

Peas, Please!

Is it bad that going to the dentist this week feels like a spa treatment? You get to lay back in the chair and zone out for awhile, so that’s kinda like a spa, right? I think it may just be because this week has been so hectic that I just needed the 20 minutes it took for Sydni to clean my teeth (yes, my dental hygienist and I are on a first name basis) for me to re-evaluate my life. Now, my teeth are clean, my life is back in order and I can continue on about my business.
We got a few boxes in today.

We got a few boxes in today.

You know the smell of jalapeño that’s just been picked and brought in from out in the hot sun? That spicy, fresh, warm smell. Nostalgic. Probably because that’s the first thing I remember growing and probably what we’ve grown the longest. It would be a close race between jalapeños and tomatoes for what’s been grown the longest. It’s also a classic summer scent because I’m the salsa maker, so I am the one who usually cuts and cleans all the peppers.
I haven’t done very well at keeping up with everything that’s been growing lately, so I’ll give a quick update.
Sugar Snap Peas: the first thing that started producing, these are the sweetest little guys. And, I am obsessed. I eat them raw, steamed, every which way and they’re so good! And pretty too! Actually, I was on a delivery the other day and it was lunch time and I was crunched and couldn’t take time for a proper lunch, so I grabbed a bag of fresh peas to eat in the car. What I didn’t consider is that it is apparently a little strange to be eating snap peas while sitting in traffic. I finally did consider this as I was sitting in the car doing so and getting a few odd glances from the other drivers around me. Oh well, not the strangest thing I’ve done in public. Well, to be honest, my views of “public” places get a little bit skewed. This is being said by someone who found it absolutely necessary to brush her teeth at a semi-abandoned carwash one time. It really was absolutely necessary, it’s a long story, but trust me, it was. But, semi-abandoned means not public, right? So it’s okay? Who decides these rules of etiquette anyway? Is your car considered a public place when you are sitting in traffic?  Nevermind, look at these peas!
Sugar Snaps

Sugar Snaps

Cauliflower: I’ve never grown this before and we’ve ended up with nearly 10 heads of it. It’s one of my favorite vegetables so no complaints here. My favorite thing to do with it? Eat it with guacamole instead of chips. Did I mention that I’m the chief guacamole maker too? I wear many hats, I know. Really, though, I feel like instead of wearing salsa and guacamole making hats, I should just carry a dip making umbrella and forego the hats. Is everyone liking all my analogies today?
Pretty, right?

Pretty, right?

Broccoli: I’m quickly realizing that I’m just a veggie freak because I love this too. I’ve never successfully grown this before, so we’ll count this year as a minor success. A few of the plants flowered early, but we salvaged what we could. I have no interesting analogy, anecdote, or story of inappropriate “public” behavior for this one, the picture will have to suffice.
Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.20.02 PM
Raspberries: I’m pretty sure everyone is so tired of hearing about raspberries from me. I planted 8 plants last year and they are producing so abundantly this year. Last year, they produced some, nothing outstanding. So, this year, I wisely decided to transplant from the roots and those are doing beautifully. All 31 plants. So, let’s do the math. I planted 8 last year and they are now producing faster than they can be picked. And, there are 31 new plants that are thriving out in the big garden. So, just shy of 4 times the amount that I started with. No big deal. I cannot even imagine the bounty that those will be producing next year. Who wants to come pick raspberries? Any takers?
Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.22.08 PM
I finally got all of the sweet potatoes in the ground. 105 slips total. We did 25 slips last year. I think I planted nearly 40 slips from a purple sweet potato. Want to know what a purple sweet potato tastes like? Yeah, me too. I’ve never actually tasted one. I went to the store and thought it sounded good. I mean, anthocyanins, right? I knew that’s what you were thinking, too, when I said purple sweet potatoes. You can never go wrong with anthocyanins. I don’t know why, when I was at the store buying the potatoes for the slips, I didn’t get an extra one to bake and eat before I planted a zillion plants of it. Pre-planning has never been my strong suit. But, I’m assuming, if you know me at all, that’s pretty obvious by now. If it wasn’t, the teeth brushing at the carwash should pretty much seal that up for you. On a positive note, Sydni (remember her, my dental hygienist?) said my teeth looked very good at my check up and that I should keep doing what I’ve been doing. Looks like that carwash brushing wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
{Personal note: I am not homeless. I do not regularly brush my teeth in strange places. It was a one (maybe two) time thing that was absolutely necessary. It should just be a sign that I am dentally conscientious and dedicated. And, sorry again, Mom, for sharing too much in a public forum. Wait, is a blog post considered public?}
Celebration, Garden, Religion

The Boat Brigade

We’ve established that I’m accident prone, correct? So, I was baking a loaf of bread today and I was really worried about making sure that I didn’t burn it. I had it in a crock in the oven and you are supposed to bake it with a lid then without a lid, it’s got a lot of directions. Anyway, so I removed the lid, set it aside, closed the oven back up. Then, promptly grabbed the lid in all of it’s 450 degree glory and effectively singed the fingerprints off of three of my fingers on my right hand. Ironically, I didn’t burn the bread. I’m thinking I could probably adopt a new identity now, seeing as how I no longer have fingerprints. Although, I don’t know what good a new identity would do me. If you can’t tell, I’m being a drama queen, it’s really not that bad. I mean, it’s kinda bad, but not adopt a new identity bad.

So, as I mentioned previously, VBS was this week. Is VBS a globally known term? When was the concept of VBS even started? I think I need to look this up. Vacation Bible School. It’s kind of weird when you think about it. It’s a vacation school where you learn about the Bible? I feel like these words don’t all really fit together. On to my point though, this year for VBS, we planned a fishing theme. And when I say we, I mean I talked while my dad listened and nodded. And you want to know where this plan was made? Out on the lake. While we were fishing. Sometimes inspiration just hits, what can I say?

This was the day I got a scorching sunburn. You think I'd learn eventually...

This was the day I got a scorching sunburn. You think I’d learn eventually…

I decided on Fishers of Men, then told my friends about how I wanted a boat and fish and props and nets and minnow buckets. So, Jesse got to work on building us a boat. And, let me tell you, it. is. awesome. The kids loved it!

Jesse the Boat Builder

Jesse the Boat Builder

I talked my dad and a couple other guys into being our storytellers. They were men from Galilee who ran a bait shop during Jesus’ time and told us all firsthand stories about Jesus’ ministry on the water. One little girl saw my dad dressed up and with a very serious face, asked “are you God?”

Galilee Bait Company

Galilee Bait Company

Children’s ministry is so funny. Those little guys are honest and just say what they think. Sometimes I wish as an adult, I could do that. Sometimes, I’m thankful that I can’t. As Spring has passed and Summer has arrived, it has given me some time for a fresh perspective and I think raising kids and raising fruit trees has got to be a lot alike. I guess I should preface this by saying I’ve never raised a child and I’ve planted only a few fruit trees, so maybe I’m not an expert. And maybe they’re completely different.

What I do know about kids I’ve mostly learned from children’s church. Children’s church seems to bring out the best and worst in personalities. I know this from having been raised in the same children’s church program that I now help teach. I think I was in the program until I was around 10-12 and started teaching the little ones when I was 13-14, so I’ve been at it for awhile now. Let’s just say I’ve been around long enough to now be teaching the children of the children I grew up in children’s church with.

Fruit trees are a different story. I planted a single peach tree about 7 years ago. And it’s basically dead. I think I’m finally ready to admit defeat with that one. However, I planted 6 new trees in October 2012 and 5 have survived. So, maybe I’m learning.

The thing about fruit trees is that it takes a long time to see any progress with them. They bloomed beautifully last year, but produced no fruit. This year, ever faithful, they bloomed again. And, be still my heart, there are little peaches and pears appearing on the branches. Whether they’ll last through the summer and til harvest remains to be seen. But the sight of those tiny fruits make the effort of planting seem worth it already.

Baby Moonglow pears

Baby Moonglow pears

We have one mature fruit tree on our farm. It’s a mulberry tree that I harvested a lot from last year. And guess who planted it?

No one.

No one had any desire to harvest mulberries, no one toiled to dig a hole, no one watched the tree come up expectantly, waiting year after year for the bounty of berries it would produce. Instead, it was probably a leftover seed, dropped years ago by a bird flying overhead. And now I get to collect what nature so generously left behind.

Our children’s church and youth ministry have gone through phases of abundance and times of little to no activity. Recently, we saw the children’s ministry, which had been a thriving branch, drop off to nearly nothing. But, as Spring is like to do, we saw new growth. Kids are coming, ones who have never been in church before, who have not heard much , if any, about Jesus.

And who planted these seeds? Who prepared and watched patiently as these little trees were planted? I plan and I try to do the best I can. But, it is ultimately the Lord who sends the harvest. I get so focused and so tied up in programs and lessons and crafts and games and everything else that comes along with children’s ministry. And sometimes I forget, it’s not me who sends the rain, it’s not me that brings about growth, it’s not me who plans the harvest. It is the Lord.

VBS was good this week. We didn’t have astounding numbers, we didn’t have anything new or flashy. But, we did have some kids who were hungry. Not hungry physically (although we had those kind too) but hungry for something they don’t even realize yet. You can see it in their eyes. They’re searching. Their little hearts are wanting more. And if there is one child who comes, who is seeking the Truth, I want to be the one there to show it to them.

Because, you know what? Someone was there to show it to me. We talked with the kids this week about “the call”. That call from Jesus to come follow Him. And you know when I got that call? When I was their age, at VBS, sitting in the same pews they were sitting in this week, hearing the same Truth they heard. I was them. My heart was hungry for something this world could not give me. But, that week, I found what I needed.

The Lord is faithful for a harvest. So, now, we wait patiently and watch these little seeds grow.

Beauty, Celebration, Culture, History

Pig Tales

You know how you know it’s the week before VBS? When your shopping list includes 6000 pony beads and a 50 pack of giant Pixy Stix. And, in case you were wondering, one of these pixy stix exceeds my recommended daily allowance of sugar. ONE STICK. As in, there are over 50 days worth of sugar in this package. Like 2 months worth of sugar. How ridiculous is that?! And I’m buying these for children. I’ll go ahead and bury my head in the sand and assume they are not going to consume all of this at once. Right?
Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 10.38.00 AM

Sugar coma waiting to happen

I get asked/volunteered to do a lot of things. I think I just have that face, where people look at me and think, we could talk her into doing that. Write it off as fulfilling my civic duty: I was asked to judge the beauty pageant at our annual town celebration. I’m not quite sure who decided I’d be qualified for this, but I was told to show up at 9:30 in the morning and we’d start with the tiny tots.
Tiny Tots division

Tiny Tots division

I assume everyone reading this knows me. And if you do, you know that my standard outfit is athletic shorts, tshirts (shocker, I know), and sandals. I wear my hair in a ponytail with a headband and 92% of the time, I don’t wear any makeup. So, beauty is not really my scene. But, for Maysville Day, anything goes. (To be completely honest, I judged the kids more by what they said their favorite foods were than by how they looked. One kid said mole’. Bonus points from me!)
Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 5.19.37 PM
Our town is really more of a community. The population is 130 people. It’s small town America at its smallest. Just to give you a better idea of what it’s like here: I dropped a tote of packages off at the post office and left my credit card with them to process the payment when they were done then forgot about it and went back two days later to retrieve my card. So basically what I’m saying is I’m irresponsible and forgetful, but it’s okay because I can trust the post master not to run away on a shopping spree.
Our tiny little post office

Our tiny little post office

When I was born, we lived in the house on the corner (if you’re from here, you’d know exactly what house I’m talking about because there are only 4 corners and only one of them has a house on it), which was built in 1899 and used to be the doctor’s house. I think it’s the oldest building still standing, along with our church which was built in 1905. Maysville has been there to see a Civil War battle fought on its doorstep and to see the Cherokee Trail of Tears make it’s final entrance into Oklahoma. It even survived through Prohibition, selling bootleg liquor out of the back of one of the stores on old main street because the front of the store opened into Arkansas and the backdoor opened into Oklahoma. We have a rich history and it is one of the binding threads of this little community.
Maysville Day is the event of the year and it is an event, let me tell you. It’s country. There’s southern culture, then there’s country culture and it overlaps in a lot of places, but it differs too. We have the best (or worst, depending on how you want to look at it) of both worlds. I’ll just highlight some of the events of Maysville Day for you. There is live music all day (country, bluegrass, and gospel, of course) and the stage consists of pallets laid out together and the seating? You guessed it: hay bales. There’s a horse shoe contest, pancake breakfast, car cutting by the fire department, all the typical things. Then, there’s cow patty bingo and a pig chasing. Because this is Maysville and pig chasing is apparently part of our heritage.
The homemade stage

The homemade stage

I showed up (civic duty check-off) at 9:30 (let’s be real: it was more like 9:38) to find 35 beautiful little people ready to be judged by yours truly. Last year, they had 8 contestants. This year, 35, in a room with no air conditioning, on the hottest day we’ve had here so far. It’s useless trying to be beautiful in this heat, trust me. We crowned our winners. Just in time for them to saddle up their horses and get in the parade.
Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 5.48.30 PM
We were just wrapping up and getting ready to leave when a man came in all in an uproar because someone unloaded “a black pig in a black cage” behind his truck and asked him to watch it and hadn’t been back for it. He also informed us that his wife scared the pig (at which point the wife chimes in with an overlapping story about how the pig actually scared her) and they weren’t going to try to move it again but that the pig needed watered because the man had left it sitting out in the sun. Why was he coming to the beauty pageant room to air these grievances? I don’t know. But as I was walking to my car, I saw a guy moving the pig and dumping a bucket of water on it. Looks like he’ll be nice and rested by the time they let him loose to be chased.
Celebration, Culture, Dessert

To-Do Tally

I literally have about half a dozen to do lists going right now. I have things written everywhere, on every scrap of paper that was within reach at the moment. I have things written on my hand. Earlier, I had the feeling I was forgetting something, so I checked the list on my hand, thinking that was where I had hastily written it down at. When I discovered the thing I had forgotten wasn’t there, I actually checked my other palm to make sure it wasn’t written down there before remembering that if it were written there, it would’ve been written with my left hand, rendering it unreadable anyway. So, then I went in search of the scrap of paper I had written it down on, which I have yet to find. This has been my whole week. Welcome to June.

How my brain looks

How my brain looks

To add to the madness, I (the named Special Events Coordinator at church) decided we should do Vacation Bible School early this year because I waited until the end of July last year and it was blazing hot. So, I planned our VBS for next week. Good idea. I took orders for 2048 pieces this week, which will go into production in the shop next week. Guess who I chose to help me with VBS and head up Storytime and Crafts. Only the two most dependable guys I know, who also happen to be my co-workers. My brain is frazzling just trying to think of how everything is getting accomplished. Thus, the million to-do/remember this lists.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Northwest Arkansas, this past week has also been what we fondly refer to as “Walmart Week”. Some people love it, some people hate it. To be honest, I haven’t looked up from my desk long enough to notice it much. But, the traffic is worse when we go out to make deliveries, so there’s that. Walmart is an institution around here. We live 20 miles from where it was founded and there is a lot of pride associated with it in this area. Say what you want about it, but it has brought a lot of jobs and we have a thriving local economy to show for it. It is just a way of life around here.

At the Walmart Museum in Bentonville with a replica of Sam Walton's original truck

At the Walmart Museum in Bentonville with a replica of Sam Walton’s original truck

In case you aren’t super familiar with Walmart, I’ll provide you a few facts [which were provided to me by Jake because #1: he’s always got useless, interesting facts like this floating around in his head and #2: do you really think I would know this on my own?]

Fact #1: If Walmart were a country, it’s GDP would land it #26 in the world, right after Austria and right before Norway.

Fact #2: Walmart is the world’s largest employer, just in front of the US Department of Defense and the Chinese Army.

Fact #3: The people who work at Walmart corporate are known as Wal-Martians here.

Fact #4: Wal-Martians can give you the reference number of every store in the area. So, instead of calling it Bentonville Walmart, it is known as Store 100.

So, what is Walmart Week? It is the week where the shareholders from all around the world flood into Northwest Arkansas and are provided with free concerts every night (Train, Lifehouse, and Lynard Skynard among others have been on the docket this year.) There are celebrities that come into town to speak and host events. It’s always a surprise, so everyone goes to the event not knowing which A-List celeb is going to show up on the stage. This year Reese Witherspoon was the MC of the event. It’s kind of a big deal apparently. I don’t go to any of the events, but all my friends who work for Walmart go and so I hear all about it. The celebs and concerts aren’t really my concern. What is my concern is the fact that I went to Sam’s Club last night (basically the wholesale store of a regular Walmart) and noticed that they had fresh flowers in the bathrooms and free cupcakes at the door. Forget all the other hoopla, where there are free cupcakes, there I will be. Walmart, you are welcome here.

Fresh flowers at the sinks

Fresh flowers at the sinks

Culture, Farm, Food

Afternoon Explorer

Looks like I’m the proud new owner of a black baby calf. Should I say baby calf since calf kind of implies baby in the first place? Should it be either calf or baby cow? I’m not sure, but either way, Ellie just had her baby and he (72% sure it’s a he) is really cute.
Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 12.59.57 PM
As I said before, it has rained pretty relentlessly here lately. Which means a lot of things. 1) it means that my sweet potato slips are still in the windowsill, not in the garden because the ground is too wet to put them out 2) it means that the hay hasn’t been put up yet because we can’t get enough dry days in a row to let it dry out. 3) it means my raspberries are growing abundantly and 4) it means that the water gaps may or may not have washed out with the influx of so much rainwater.
Latest bounty

Latest bounty

What is a water gap, you may ask? Well in my own terms, it is a fence across the water to keep cows from passing through to land they shouldn’t be on. I’m fairly sure that’s an accurate description, but you’d have to ask someone more technical than me to be sure. We have land that has a creek running all the way through it, so after a big rain, checking the water gaps is one of the essential duties. After visiting my grandparents, my dad was going to check them and I decided to tag along because why not? And also because, while I love my grandparents, they can be kinda loony sometimes. I walked into their house the other day to see them both in a dither because my grandpa had committed to preach a funeral on the same day, at the same exact time that my grandma had committed him to preach a different funeral. Phone calls were being made frantically, calendars were pulled out, and in the midst of the commotion, my brother off handedly commented that it was strange to have two at the same time because it “wasn’t even funeral season yet.” To which my grandma agrees. Because apparently, around here, we have a funeral season. [It is true though, it isn’t funeral season right now. It’s wedding season.] My grandpa preaches a lot of funerals and weddings, in case you couldn’t tell.
Water Gap

Water Gap

Back to the water gaps though. I’ve been a lot of places in the world and done a lot of fun, crazy things. But I think what is best is when you can walk out your door and have adventure at your fingertips. Traveling is good, but home is really good too. I’m reading the Adventures of Tom Sawyer right now (I’m on a classics kick) and I think this is a scene straight from the book.
Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 2.19.23 PM
You know how sometimes you think of something and think that it is a good idea until you try to execute said idea and then it becomes apparent that it wasn’t a good idea? That’s usually how my brain works. So, I saw this tree that was down across the creek and thought it would be a good idea to climb on it. Why I think things like this, I have no idea. I like climbing. Anyway, when I saw it and thought it, then I had to do it. There was no turning back. So, I waded out into the water and discovered that instead of the 4 foot height I thought it was, it was, in fact, quite a bit taller. Making it nearly impossible for me to conquer. Emphasis on the word nearly. After jumping on some slippery creek rocks and coming close to falling down, I finally managed (with some expert maneuvering) to find a place in the trunk that looked like it was made for me to sit down on. Which confirmed (after the previous few moment’s doubt) that this was a good idea after all. Plus, it made for a cool picture. And, to add a final bright note to the day, the water gaps were in good condition. Looks like Ellie and her new little Elliott won’t be escaping to greener pastures any time soon.
Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 1.20.26 PM