09-19-19 Pawpaws and Apple Heads

My sister in law and I were at a park a few months back when she pointed out that there were a lot of pawpaw trees in the forest. I had no idea what she was talking about, but she said there was one behind her house growing up and that she and her siblings used to pick the fruit and eat it.

We decided that we would come back when the trees were ripe and harvest some. A couple of weeks ago I looked them up online and found out that they are ripe from mid August through September, so we made plans to get some.

We got to the park before lunch this morning and walked to our pawpaw spot. Pawpaw trees are tall and skinny with broad leaves. The fruit hangs in small clusters near the top of the tree. As we found trees we would shake them and the fruits would fall down around us. Some of them were still hard and will need a few days to soften, and others were too soft and we couldn’t transport them back. But then there were some that were just right. We peeled a few and ate some as we walked around. They have the texture between a mango and a banana. The flavor is kind of like a pear, but also like an avocado. The kids liked them, but didn’t love them, however they really enjoyed shaking the trees and searching for the fruit that fell.

We gathered enough that tomorrow we (probably my mom) are going to make some pawpaw bread! I’m really excited and hope the bread turns out better than our Apple Head Dolls…

Speaking of Apple Head Dolls, they spent about 10 hours in the oven today. I’ve come to the conclusion that even though the ‘recipe’ calls for large apples, smaller ones work better because they are easier to dry out. (I thought I’d share that tip in case one of you wants to take up a new and horrifying hobby.) When I took them out this evening, mine was the driest and is definitely ready for decorating. The other ones could probably stand to spend one more day in the oven, but I’m eager to get these things done, so we might just finish them all tomorrow.

I hope you all are just as excited as I am to see how they turn out!!

09-18-19 The Day the Head Moved

The instructions say that after a day hanging out in the oven, our apple heads should spend at least two days in the sun. I’m assuming this is to ensure that they continue their downward spiral into the macabre.

So, as the dutiful art teacher and mother that I am, I transported these foul beasts to the front porch to spend the remainder of their day under the scorching sun.

As the sun arched its way across the sky and the porch was cast into shadows by mid morning, I realized they would have to move once again. I walked over to pick them up and I noticed that one of them, the one on the left, was moving. Now I can assure you that the shrunken head was not moving when I had deposited him there mere hours earlier, but he was most certainly moving now- wiggling ever so slightly. I gingerly approached him. As I leaned down to investigate, a large bee shot out of one of the apple heads many openings straight toward my face! I jumped back and squealed as if the apple head itself had tried to attack me. Apparently the bees were burrowing deep inside Baby E’s apple head!!

This would not do! This head was made for greater things!!

I found a long stick and tapped the apple head to clear it of its inhabitants. Once I was sure he was empty, I was able to move them out further into the yard, but it was a losing battle all day as the bees dug and gnawed at that one head. The others remained untouched while Baby E’s wiggled and danced.

By this evening the tray was littered with tiny pieces of fruit dug from the depths of that appalling apple head. Evicting the bees one last time, I brought the apples inside. I don’t think Baby E’s will survive another day in the elements so tomorrow they will spend a few more hours in the oven spa.

Stay tuned, because with any luck, by Friday our “masterpieces” will be complete!

09-17-19 What Madness is This?

We started the Apple Dolls this morning.

I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry.

It started out innocently enough. I peeled the apples. Three big ones for the kids and a little one for myself. Each kid had the liberty to carve their apple however they chose.

It all seemed to be going so well.
The kids used a variety of tools… Plastic knives, butter knives, spoons, and even a can opener.
Baby E ate every chunk he carved out. He kept inflicting damage so that he’d have more morsels to munch on.
Big E created a happy face.
Mine looked a little dopey.
C’s was happy…
…and mad.
The back of Big E’s was surprised.
When they were all done, I lined them on the cookie sheet. I set the oven for 200 degrees and when it was heated up, I put them in the oven.
We waved goodbye and told them to enjoy their day at the spa. Then we went about our business. The directions said they should stay in the oven for ‘most of the day.’ So we left them in for nine hours.
And then we took them out.
Nightmare fodder.

Let’s be honest, these things are terrifying, and we aren’t even done yet. They have two more days of prep time before we even add the bodies, clothing, and hair. (yes, you read that right… there will be hair and maybe even a little make-up.)

We’re in too deep now. We can’t turn back. We are seeing this horrifying, disturbing, nightmare inducing project to the bitter, bitter end, and you dear reader, are coming with us.

09-16-19 These Apples

These might look like normal apples. I’m sure they taste like normal apples, but we will never know because by the end of this week they should be dolls.

Yes… Dolls.

Apparently back in the day… I mean way back in the day… people used to make dolls from apples. There weren’t toy stores back then and disposable income wasn’t really a thing, so they made their toys with what was available. And in the case of colonial Americans in the Appalachian mountains and New England, they often used apples.

So for our art class this week we will be making them as well. They are going to take several days to make, I’ll check in each evening and let you know how it’s going. Hopefully by Thursday or Friday they should be done!

Before reading about these dolls today, I had never heard of them. Have you or anyone you know ever tried making one?

09-15-19 Family

One of my favorite things about seeing my kids with their cousins is to watch how they interact and to see how their imaginations come to life. We spent the day with my sister-in-law’s family and the kids ran themselves ragged with all the playing. For the six hours we were there, they barely stayed still but to eat their dinner. While they ran wild in the basement, we adults got the chance to catch up and connect.

I know I’ve said it a million times, but I love that they live so close. Since I’ve known my husband for decades, I’ve known his family just as long and there is something very comfortable about the time that we spend together.

09-13-19 A Day for Water

We found ourselves by the bay this morning for a memorial service for someone dear to people we love. The service was held in a beautiful restaurant, on a dock next to the water. As we listened to people tell their stories and share their memories, the waves lapped against the dock, small boats motored by, and large yachts skated past the floor to ceiling windows.

Where we live now there are beautiful winding rivers and streams, with easy access. The cold water rushes past as you wade through the creeks, dodging crawfish and algae covered stones. It is magical.

But I miss the bay. I miss the sound of the waves and the way the wind buffets you as you walk along the shore. I miss the shells and the sharks teeth that litter the beach and the way you can never quite get all the sand off your feet and out of your hair after a visit.

There was something incredibly peaceful in watching the ducks bob along the waves outside the window. I could have watched them all day. Some days, like today, I just need water.

On the way home we stopped at the Falls.

09-12-19 Underwear

I’m about seven and a half years into being a mom of boys, and I confess I was totally unprepared for the amount of potty humor I was in store for. No one warned me it would start so young (around 18 months, if you care to know) and that it only gets worse. I wouldn’t say my boys are vulgar, but they find great humor in nearly every bodily function- and my conversations with other boy moms inform me that this is completely normal!

No one had to teach my kids to do armpit farts or burp on command (well, they did have help on that one) and they find those things (and a whole host of others) completely hilarious.

So when I saw this “Underwear” book at the library I figured I had found a winner, and boy was I right. I’ve already read through it twice this evening and I am probably going to have to smuggle it out of the house on its due date.

So my request of you, my dear readers, is that should you imagine me spending time with my children you would picture me sitting with my them, reading something clever and cultured and sophisticated. If you can do that, I would be much obliged. Because in reality, I will likely be reading about underwear.

09-11-19 Remember

I woke up this morning with the weight on my chest lifted. As I went through my day, absolutely nothing of consequence happened, and that is exactly as I would have it.

I never know how this day will hit me until it comes. I never expect the anxiety leading up to it, though I should at this point.

“Never forget” is a resounding charge you see and hear on this day, and while I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment, for those of us that lived it, we would love to, at least for a day, forget. I don’t know what it’s like to view that day from afar. I read peoples’ stories about where they were when it happened, how it affected them, and how they changed.

For me, I can’t divorce that day from the smell, the dust, and the sirens. And I can’t confine it to one day, but rather months of dodging ash and feeling the rumbling beneath my feet. I mourn for those who were lost that day and for the families that still feel their absence.

Thank you for your kind words and to those people that reached out to me today. God is good, and I am grateful for you.

If you want to read my story, you can find it here.

09-10-19 Tomorrow

I’ve been feeing anxious lately. There’s been stuff going on in our lives that I haven’t shared here, and I probably won’t, but the past few weeks I have felt overwhelmed. I hate to put it out there, but that’s where I am. It’s been steadily increasing, and I think part of it has to do with tomorrow.

Eighteen years is a long time.

This evening social media started to rehash the images. The moments I lived in real time. The demons that still whisper when I’m feeling sad. I don’t think I cried last year, but I have tears tonight. In a few years my ‘after’ will be longer than my ‘before’ and I think that will be even harder. It’s been eighteen years since I breathed that air, tasted that smell, and dodged the ash that danced like snow. Eighteen years or eighty… you don’t forget.

I’m thankful to have a God that has walked those years with me and has constantly reminded me that that day does not define me and that he held that day as surely as he holds today. I can trust Him completely. He is my comfort, my light, and my salvation.

Psalm 27  (ESV)

The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation

Of David.

27 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold[a] of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet[b] I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire[c] in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
    be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek[d] my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”[e]
    Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
    O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
    but the Lord will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    and lead me on a level path
    because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
    and they breathe out violence.

13 I believe that I shall look[f] upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!