Deanne Has A Blog!

Oct. 4, 2017

“I’ll miss you most of all, Scarecrow!”

L. Frank Baum  The Wizard of Oz

Being a connoisseur of scarecrows, when I came across this lovely couple, I had to stop and take their picture for posterity. Now I ask you, are these guys not incredible!!

It’s officially Fall and persimmons are appearing here, there, and everywhere and I, being a persimmon lover, want to share my persimmon story with you, dear friends and neighbors..

Some years ago, my Dad lived on four acres of lime trees in Valley Center, a community up in the hills between Temecula and San Diego. As Valley Center is not far from the Mexican border, my Dad always had plenty of guys who were looking for work to help him with the trees. He would practice his Spanish with them, give them food, spend time talking to them about their lives in the country they had just left and what they hoped to find in America. My Dad loved to talk to people, any kind of people. Many of these guys who wandered into his yard were from Guatemala, which is a very long way from the border. They told tales of murder, desperate hunger, desperadoes waiting to rob these migrants and were beyond grateful for a few sandwiches and a bottle of water. But I digress...we were talking about persimmons.

While he still lived in Valley Center, before his wife passed away and he moved to Ajijic, Mexico himself, he had an extremely prolific Hachiya persimmon tree. I would go down for the day to visit them and he would give me a big bag of persimmons. I would send some to my cousin, Cindy, eat a lot of them and occasionally make persimmon cookies. I’m still mad that he sold that lovely home and moved to Mexico. He’s been in heaven for a while now, but I treasure the memories of those days in Valley Center, Dad’s persimmons, and the delicious champagne we occasionally sampled together.

At one time a persimmon tree grew down in the lower reaches of our yard.  It sat down there doing its job for years and then one day, apparently tired of life, it broke in two. What a disappointment, as the fruit was delicious and I had finally learned how to do something with them, other than just wait greedily for them to ripen and devour them.

Fortunately, it was overlooked.  No one was in a hurry to tear it away from the last shred of stump the tree was still clinging to.  For a while, I forgot about it and then one morning walked down to look at it, and discovered there was more fruit than I could count!  Hard and pale orange, but they would ripen beautifully by November. Persimmon cookies!

One windstorm too many separated the tenuous coupling between branch and root and that was that  Some years later I planted a persimmon down there in the lower region, a Fuyu. I have never had even one persimmon from that tree. It’s really in a bad spot, forced to fend for itself as far as water and sunlight are concerned. If it ever bears anything, the squirrels get to them first.

It struck me that the broken persimmon is a picture of what God could do with our lives if we would let Him have his way.  If we could cling to Him, as the persimmon clung, tenaciously, to its roots, God would fill us with his grace, his spirit, and we, too, would provide a harvest of good fruit; love and peace, patience and self-control, joy… oh yes! a huge crop of joy, regardless of circumstances. Right now I am clinging like never before as John, my best friend, husband and oatmeal cookie lover has been in the hospital for a week now with pneumonia and severely compromised lungs. The doctors are planning to remove his breathing tube today to see if he can breathe on his own. If you have a minute, breathe a prayer for him. That’s what we do in the family of God, we pray for each other.

Now that our persimmon tree is gone, and Dad and his persimmon tree are no longer within my reach, I look longingly at the few persimmon trees in our area and consider introducing myself to their owners, somewhat like Oliver Twist, “Please sir, could I have some more?”

Persimmon Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup persimmon pulp (Hachiya persimmons, not Fuyu)

2 cups flour

½ tsp. cinnamon (I like cinnamon so my tsp. tends to be heaping)

½ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. salt

½ cup butter (softened)

1 cup sugar

1 egg

You can also add a cup of chopped nuts, raisins, chocolate chips or some of all three.

Puree persimmon pulp in blender. If you cut the top off the persimmon and squeeze the ripe fruit over the blender, it will spill right out. Then dissolve the soda into the pulp.  It will become very thick, like pudding.

Blend together flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.

Stir in dry ingredients, persimmon-soda mixture and raisins/nuts/chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto well-greased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 10-12 minutes.  Makes 5-6 dozen.  These freeze well.

Drop a dozen in a Ziploc bag and give them to someone you love, or someone who needs to be loved. Or hide them in your freezer and eat them all yourself one rainy day (I use that term laughingly as Southern Californians get a spoonful of rain infrequently) in February.

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.

For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” Psalm 133

It is said that this precious oil is oil of persimmon. God bless you, every one!

 

Sep. 8, 2017

“The Best Is Yet To Come..”

You know how sometimes your life is tooting along in a rather pleasant direction, no major catastrophes have befallen you, you paid your taxes on time, your driver’s license isn’t about to expire, all the children are fine, most of them are gainfully employed and you’re feeling kind of good about it all. And then there’s a radical change. Things are suddenly different and you are given an opportunity to behave like Mother Theresa. To keep smiling and address the new challenge in your life as though you’ve been looking forward to it all along. But you realize you don’t seem to have a lot of Mother Theresa bubbling out of you and you’re feeling a little down and... well, OK, a little resentful. As in, you expected better of yourself and you’re not delivering.

A dear friend sent me this story, which you may have seen or heard before, but just in case you haven’t....

A young man was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given three months to live. Getting his affairs in order, he contacted his minister and asked him to come to his house to discuss his final wishes. He had a list of what songs he wanted sung at his memorial, what Scripture he would like read, and even what suit he wanted to wear. Everything was in order and his Pastor was preparing to leave when the man suddenly remembered something else very important to him.

“There’s one more thing,” he said excitedly...

“What’s that?”

“This is very important, I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The minister stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say.

“That’s kind of a surprise, isn’t it!” The young man said, laughing.

“Well, to be absolutely honest, I’m somewhat astounded!” replied the minister.

The young man explained, “My grandmother once told me this story and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love who are in need of encouragement.”

The young man continued, “In all my years of attending socials and dinners,” my grandma said, “When the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘keep your fork’. I knew immediately that something wonderful was about to come...red velvet chocolate cake, Crème Brulee, Pumpkin Cheesecake,  or maybe simply ice cream with hot fudge sauce. But something wonderful.”

“So, I want my friends who see me for the last time to see me with a fork in my hand and wonder, ‘what on earth is going on with the fork!’ Then I want you to tell them: Keep your fork...the best is yet to come.”

Right this minute, I’m keeping a firm grip on my fork.

God Hath Not Promised

Annie Johnson Flint

God hath not promised skies always blue
Flower strewn pathways, all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptations, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love...

Annie Johnson Flint’s life was beyond difficult, almost from the beginning but she, too, kept firm hold on her fork, knowing the best was yet to come. Maybe you need to keep a firm grip on your fork, too right now. It’s really true, you know...The Best IS Yet To Come!

"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deut. 31:8

 

Aug. 19, 2017

“It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude, it’s gratitude that brings us happiness.”

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

“There is always, always, always something to be thankful for!”

Are there ever moments in your life when you feel like you’re kinda down at the bottom of some pile of never-ending stuff you wish you didn’t have to do and you’d like to sit down somewhere and whine. Well, friends and dear family, I’ve been sort of in that place lately but yesterday, the nicest thing happened. I got a card from my sister, Heidi. On the front it says, “Whether sisters live near each other or far apart...” and then the inside says, “Sisters are there for each other through everything that matters. They are connected at the heart, and no one can ever break their bond. I’m so glad we’re sisters. Love, Heidi” Inside the card was an exquisite butterfly with a tag attached to it that says, “There is always something to be THANKFUL for.”

Her card arrived at exactly the right moment. I’d started making strawberry preserves and feeling sorry for myself. Not exactly crying in my strawberries, but close. Then I opened Heidi’s card, the butterfly flew out, my spirits flew upward and I had a moment to thank God for Heidi and for all of my family.

The picture here shows a few, just a very few, of the things for which I am thankful: My adorable husband, John, yes, still adorable after 50 years together; my Texas girls Jessie and Emily, a few flowers left from the bouquet my son gave me almost two weeks ago, and, of course, Heidi’s card, the butterfly, and the strawberry preserves.

“Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God has done.” Jonathan Oatman, Jr. 1897

If you’ve never made strawberry preserves, you should give it a try. Strawberries are fairly inexpensive right now and look fabulous. There are recipes all over the place for strawberry preserves. You can google. But here’s how I make them:

Strawberry Preserves

2 pounds of strawberries (strawberries are packaged in those plastic boxes by the pound!)

2-1/2 cups sugar

¼ cup lemon juice

1 TB butter

Wash and hull the strawberries. Pick out half, preferably the largest and firmest and put them in the big pot you plan to cook your preserves in. Add half the sugar and the lemon juice and crush the berries with a fork. Add the remaining sugar, the rest of the berries and stir well.

Cook over high heat, stirring, until mixture comes to a full rolling boil. That’s a boil that can’t be stirred down. Transfer this to a 9 x 13 glass dish and set it aside, uncovered, overnight.

Next day, get out your canning jars and new lids. 2 lbs. of strawberries will make about 4 half pints of preserves, more or less. Sterilize your jars and lids and set aside so they’re ready when your preserves are ready.

Bring berry mixture to a boil over high heat in that same pan you used yesterday. Cook stirring until mixture jells. Now, this is the tricky part. You keep holding your spoon up out of the mixture while you’re stirring, and when it’s really jam, it will drip off the spoon at different points, rather than running off in a smooth stream. Trust me, this works! Add the butter at this point, which keeps foam from forming that you need to skim off.

When you know you’ve got jam, take your pan off the range, set it on a hot pad and spoon your preserves into the jars leaving about a quarter to a half inch of room at the top. Immediately put your lids on and screw the bands on tightly. I like to invert my jars so they’re standing on their heads till they cool. That way the fruit is all the way through the jar instead of crouching up close to the top. The lids should not spring back when you touch them.

When you spread your own strawberry preserves on your toast, you will be filled with gratitude and thankfulness. Honest!

“So, amid the conflict whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged, God is over all;

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.”

Thank you, Heidi, for being my angel yesterday. I love you.

 

Aug. 3, 2017

“If history repeats itself, I am SO getting a dinosaur!”

“Real life would be more fun if we rode dinosaurs.”

“Dinosaurs aren’t extinct, they’re just hiding.”

Yes, friends and family, we’ve seen dinosaurs! Well, actually, we’ve seen so much more, having just returned from our annual July trip to Texas. We celebrated Emily’s 7th birthday at Chuck E. Cheese with about a million of her friends and their moms. We celebrated her mom’s birthday – our daughter, Crissy, (age undisclosed) – at Salt Grass with just the Texas family. Salt Grass is another one of those places like Claim Jumper that features chocolate cake with about eleven layers. Man, but that’s good! We went to breakfast at the brand new iHOP in Wylie. We went to the movies and saw The Emoji Movie. We saw Spiderman! We spent a lot of time hanging out, going out to lunch, shopping, playing checkers and tic-tac-toe. We ate fantastic Chinese food from P F Chang’s and Ming Moon, the local take-out place. We had pizza at The Rock and Jessie and Emily had mac and cheese, French fries and fruit every place. We had pink candy-cane martinis and ribs at TGI Friday’s. We had champagne at Crissy’s in-laws house, darling Mike and Dianne, and I even cooked a little,  finishing off our visit by baking my famous, and much sought after, cinnamon coffeecake.

AND we went to Ft. Worth to see Dinosaurs! Live! John and I were so impressed with Crissy for finding the right place, parking in the exact right place, and then resisting the sales pressure on every side to Buy! Buy! Buy! This whole thing was awesome with really huge robotic dinosaurs of every kind imaginable who moved and roared and looked terrifying. We loved it all and came away with a pink stuffed dinosaur for Emily and a blue stuffed dinosaur for Jessie at the bargain price of $19.95 each. Nobody got eaten, nobody got in trouble and we were all done just about when John and I really needed to sit down. No chairs at Dinosaurs! Live!

And we got to go to church twice at First Baptist Church of Wylie, which is simply amazing and wonderful. Their Pastor, Dr. Kris Segrest, is a great speaker, deliverer of God’s Word, and terrific story teller. He’s 40ish or a little less. To show you what kinda guy he is, his first Sunday at First Baptist he rode his motorcycle up onto the platform. He’s that kinda guy. The kinda guy who brings people in in droves. Young people attached to babies and toddlers by the score. Young people, middle-aged people, older folks, all of whom are beyond friendly. Smiles abound! With three packed services on Sunday, one on Saturday night, and an expansion program underway, they’re doing something right. We love getting to visit there.

The Mission Statement at First Baptist is this: Spreading God’s fame (the vision) by making disciples (the mission) of all people (the goal).

Here’s what I wanted to share with all of you out there in Blog-land, a story Pastor Kris told about being on a flight from Dallas to New York. He started out by saying what we all know, which is you sit down on the plane and the person next to you is either going to let you catch a few zzzz’s and read your book or they’re going to be your new best friend. Kris got on, hoping for the former but when the woman next to him said, “want some gum??” he knew she was going to be his next best friend. She gaily chatted with him using language enough to curl what was left of his hair, and eventually asked him what he did. “I’m an evangelist!” he said. “Oh good,” she said, and launched into what was wrong with Christians. Eventually, he had the opportunity to express God’s love for her. His gift of grace to her. His sacrifice for her. His eternal seeking to bring her into His kingdom. His forgiveness, no matter what she’d done. She sat and listened with tears streaming down her face. Everything Kris said brought more weeping. Finally, he told her that she could step into God’s love and forgiveness right that very minute. That she didn’t have to do a single thing except ask Jesus into her heart.

But she said... no. She said...no. He told her God loved her as though she were the only one in the world to love. But she said...no. She wept and said...no. We could see that he is still suffering over this. To be offered the joy of God’s love and to turn it down. He is still praying for her. And so are we.

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul.”

Mt. 16:26

 

Jul. 12, 2017

“The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” George Bernard Shaw

“Fer-til-iz-er: A substance which makes soil more fertile.” (Webster)

When last we chatted, I waxed rhapsodic about home grown tomatoes. Now I've moved on in the garden to zucchini...bane or blessing?

Having grown zucchini and pumpkins, fertilizer is a superfluous frill as far as they are concerned. Put a couple of seeds in the ground, go away for the weekend, and be astonished when you return to find that their vines have cascaded all over the geraniums, the Dutch Iris and zinnias are fighting for their lives and those greedy little tendrils are eyeing the garage. Zucchini is delicious when it’s small and tender but neglect to pick it and a day later, it has metamorphosed into a club the size of a baseball bat. You can grate one all day to make zucchini bread and never finish it. Neighbors see you coming with that bag of zucchini and won’t answer the door. The zucchini phenomenon is sort of like Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia!  with his enchanted broom and buckets of water. The zucchini inexorably keep coming and coming!

Anyway, when the zucchini overwhelm you, chop up some in your salad, sauté some in olive oil with tomatoes and lots of onions, drain and stir in some sour cream and top with a little parmesan cheese for a really great veggie dish. Or get out your Cuisinart and grate some for bread. This one is particularly good. This recipe is originally from Dorothy Reinhold’s column in the Pasadena Star News in 2011. In it, she described her son’s ecstasy about the zucchini bread that his 3rd grade Webster Elementary School instructional aide, Mrs. Corinne Le, had baked and brought to share.  “It’s soooooo good,” he said, “and she gave me the recipe. It’s really really good!” And it is, too! So, thanks Dorothy and Mrs. Le. This is the best zucchini bread I’ve ever had. It’s neat to think that these third graders got to taste something fabulous that a teacher wanted to share. Teachers ARE exceptional people!

Zucchini Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 8” x 4” loaf pan.

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup sugar

1 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 tsp. grated lemon peel (or more if you've got it)

½ cup chopped pecans (optional), dried cranberries are good in here, too, and maybe a little chopped apple.

In a medium bowl combine first 6 ingredients.

In another medium bowl combine sugar, zucchini, oil, egg and lemon peel. Mix well.

Add dry mixture to zucchini mixture, stir just till moistened (batter will be lumpy)

Add nuts and/or cranberries, and apples.

Spoon batter into greased pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan or on a wire rack for 10 minutes. When your bread has cooled off a little, cut yourself a slice and sit down and enjoy it with a cup of coffee.  You deserve a break after all that planting, fertilizing, harvesting, distributing and baking! This freezes well, too, so you can double the recipe, which just happens to be in my book, “A Tablespoon of Love, A Tablespoon of Laughter.”

“In simple humility, let our Gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation garden of your life.” James 1:21

“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” David Hobson