MY MAMA’S LEMON MERINGUE PIE, ALONG WITH OTHER MEMORIES OF HAZEL LEE, ENJOY!
Updated: Apr 1
MY MIXED FLOWERS AND WILD FLOWERS FROM GOD’S GARDEN
(I apologize for not posting recently. I have been under the weather, but feeling much better. I hope you enjoy my story. I will continue writing about our Jesus, my best friend, Savior and Father!)
This morning, while letting my dog out, I happened to hear the familiar sound of a woodpecker pecking away somewhere close by. I stopped in my tracks. It was another out of the ordinary experience in an ordinary, soon to be spring day.
It was anything but ordinary to me. Hoping not to lose my readers, I had to smile. I had to write about this less than half pound, red headed, male bird, who was already engaging in his only task; to carve out a nest hole so he and his mate could raise their young in the spring. All I could think about was does he ever get a headache!
Laughingly, I wondered how God decided to have a wood pecker among his flock of birds. I believe He loves color too. Actually, there are many kinds of woodpeckers, but I am just going to talk about this one.
I won’t put you through anymore.
How did He do it? I am amazed at God’s love for his creatures.
I understand some of you may feel I should get a life. Do hear me out before putting my book down, or stop reading my story please. He is different from any other bird species, and he has a specific job he must do; prepare a home for his female mate. How does he know that? This is a question I have been known to ask all my life. Consequently, I went on a search to find out.
As a child, I well remember we had little or no technology except electricity, a black and white television maybe, and an electric washing machine, if you were lucky. Ice was brought around in a refrigerated truck and one could purchase either 25 or 50 pound blocks of ice. Using cleavers, the “ice man” as we called him, would bring it inside for you, place it in a metal-style “ice box,” not a refrigerator, for a nominal amount of money until the next few days, when he came back again.
Seeing that ice pick in the “ice box” was kind of scary. Sometimes it was misplaced, which brought on a whole new set of “Who was in the ice box last?” questions. Without it, one could hardly chip off a piece of ice.
Ironing boards were replaced with dry cleaners. When washing and starching shirts, my mother used Argo starch to make them crispy clean, with a sunshiny smell, ironed to perfection. Today, companies try to invent the same sunshiny smell with candles, but that just isn’t happening. I saw a candle I had to get. It was described as smelling exactly like a tomato. Nope, it did not even come close.
Having the smell of tomato bushes on my hands is the best. You just know a tomato is coming soon. Its smell takes me back to the memories of Uncle Bob and me, picking them as a little girl.
Feeling the sun on our backs, we would gather them up, ready to wash, then straight to the dinner table. Uncle Bob would prime that old pump until we had a large pan of water. I can see him untying his red bandana from around his neck, soaking it in cold water, then put it it back on.
Chickens, oh yes, we had our own chickens. Nothing could be more fun than going out to the hen house for mama to get fresh eggs. You knew they had laid an egg when they started clicking or clacking, or both, afterward. It was straight to the hen house for me.
Mama often made lemon meringue pie. Our favorite!
Watching her separate egg yolks from the whites was mesmerizing. Not one chip of the egg ever got into the bowl. She would take a cup of sugar, sifting a little bit at a time, into the whites.
She whipped them feverishly with a fork, until she had a frothy, fluffy pile of meringue. No fancy KitchenAid mixers in those days at our house.
After mixing her lemon mix, sorry, I can’t remember the ingredients, from scratch, she rolled out her pie crusts. Making pie crust was up there with making her home-made biscuits.
To this day, I have not mastered her process of making biscuits or pie crusts. Sometimes, I kind of think they did not want us to know their ingredients. She never wrote them down. Of course not. They went with her to Heaven.
Those of you who remember, it was a work of art, putting a pie together. Finally, she placed my favorite lemon meringue pie into the oven, getting just a touch of toasted meringue. I swear, I can taste it now.
It was a form of art watching mama meticulously make that pie to perfection! I could never achieve her talents, I’m afraid.
As I grew older, becoming a mother myself, I must confess, frozen pie shells took the place of homemade crusts. There was more, but it grieves me to tell you. I sure hope mama is not disappointed in me.
Whatever she started, it was done perfectly. She did not leave out a single step. Ironing shirts was flawless to her. It fascinated me. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the ironing board. I can still smell the Argo starch. I miss that smell.
I’m embarrassed to say it, I don’t iron anymore. I’m afraid mine go to the dry cleaners, I can hear her now, “Hazel Lee, it takes time to do things right.” Not today. Microwaves can have your family meal cooked in twenty minutes. Why struggle over a hot stove! Right? No, wrong!
It takes time. If we save time cooking, we can do other things we love more! Watch television more? Lord, I hope not. Read your bible more? No, I have more important things to do. So what’s left? I know! Go shopping!
You know, like buying things you don’t need, to impress others you don’t know, and at the time, spend money you don’t have! Really? Might want to pull that old bible out of the closet, dust it off, and begin reading. Binge watching a series won’t quite take its place. I have to confess, I have done the same thing. Confession is good for one’s soul.
Where am I going with this? My years growing up were simple. Nature became my play ground and my best teacher. Technology had not shown its nose to the liking of today.
Simple. I love simple. I learned through all of these years growing up, truly the best things in life are not things.
Materialism can take over quickly as monetary gain occurs in our lives. It becomes more obvious when one is blessed with monetary gain. We must keep our lives centered
and our focus on Christ. There is nothing wrong acquiring things in our lives.
Rest assured we all are guilty at one time or another. The problem begins when our focus becomes things, rather than Christ. At first, it is subtle. It can get out of hand quickly.
The old saying, the devil made me do it, well, that’s just not true. You can play that old record just so long. You know what I’m talking about. That’s enough on this subject.
Trust me, I have been the worst of the worst. I have no right to put a guilt trip on you. As my mother would say, “Hazel Lee, clean up the mess on your own front porch, before you start talking and complaining about others.” I won’t do that.
In my life, instilling fear and guilt in others, was the platform for many ministers
on Sunday mornings. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now.
You are fully capable to, “Have a little talk with Jesus,” and “tell Him all about your troubles.” He certainly will hear you. God will direct your path, if you let Him. That song still lingers in my heart. I learned it at church in my childhood years.
He will knock at your door, but He won’t come in, unless you invite Him.
You have a blessed day. I pray my “simple as it can get message touched your heart today. Pray for one another. Love one another. Be kind. You might call someone you know today with an inspiring message.
How about, “I prayed for you today!” That is all you need to do.
I often get a sweet question on messenger at 5:30 am from a dear sister in Christ, now a Reverend. ”May I pray for you today?” “Yes, Lord, hear my prayer.” I told her she was my phone call to our sweet Jesus.
You have a blessed day, and if you have time, do drop me a note. It would make my day!
The birds, chickens, flowers, gardens, everything around me created questions in my little head. It seemed I wanted to know everything, especially about flowers. The little purple violets, seen blooming in March, became bouquets for my granny and mama. To this day, I won‘t pull them up, after they have quit blooming.
Seasons fascinate me. As a child, I would ask my grannies how do leaves know to change colors, fall from the trees, and return in the spring?
My time gave way to nature. Simple. Made by God. The more I grew into adulthood, the more I embellished my childhood memories. As one would expect, change happened. I grew older.
My memories remained planted in my childhood. As an adult, my curiosity has never stopped. During spring, I often stop, snapping pictures of old garden roses along the countryside. Who planted them? Who lived there? What happened to its family? What period of time did they live there? Hazel Lee was creeping back into my soul. My inquisitive mind would overflow with questions, like I did as a child.
Pictures of an old farm house with roses growing in the yard was a treasure! There, you have it! A perfect example of me, searching for the extraordinary in an ordinary day!
Getting into my car, explaining what just happened to others with me, well, that was a different conversation.
My childhood was filled with nature, stargazing, watching the wind form the cloud, collecting lightening bugs. These were a few of my pastimes for Hazel Lee.
Planting zinnia seeds, watching them grow into multiple colors, was amazing. That seed was planted in my heart. It has never gone away. Christ was in everything I saw.
Nature embellished me.
Later in life, experiencing the swallows returning to the Spanish mission in San Juan Capistrano, California, was a miracle. They return March 19 every year. Seeing is truly believing. My birthday just happens to be March 19.
We made a special trip to the mission on my birthday, to observe the return of these beautiful birds, the swallows. Witnessing this miracle brought me to tears. How could this be? How do they know? The same questions I asked as a child, I was asking as an adult. We should never stop asking. How did God plan this. Science might challenge me, and I understand, but who created science? We can replace a heart, but we can’t make one. That list could go on a long time.
Stepping back into today’s world, I have an insatiable need to hold onto those thoughts and feelings. They have made me who I am today. When I can no longer deal with whatever is pulling me down, I run to my garden. I watch every plant, seeing what has grown from week to week.
My son, stopping by, heard me exclaiming, “Come look at how much my watermelons have grown!” to which he would reply, “Get a life, mom.”
Sometimes, I wonder, could it be low self-esteem? Just kidding, no, it’s me being me.
I love to go for long walks, feeling the wind and sun on my face. I believe I have an upper hand on others who walk right by a little flower, growing out of a concrete sidewalk. How could one not ask, “How did that happen?” One of my favorite books, entitled, “What a Plant Knows,” addresses this subject. Plants cannot move themselves; they must bloom where they are planted. We, on the other hand, can move ourselves. That’s a subject of its own to consider.
My grandchildren amaze me. Their intellect, their choice of subjects for discussion, their greater awareness of happenings in this old world challenge me. I must step it up in my own intelligence and awareness of my surroundings.
One thing is certain. Regardless of their intellectual level, they love to go with Lee to the garden. We pick tomatoes, green beans, or whatever is ready to pick, and simply dig and talk.
They certainly know tomatoes and watermelons don’t grow at Walmart. They grow in the dirt. Our conversations are unique; usually about our garden. Afterward, they usually get the hose out for water fights.
There is something about the taste of water coming out of a water hose on a hot, muggy day, that is so inviting, don’t you think? The best! Better yet, eating a huge piece of watermelon carved right out of the center! My granny told me it was a sin, until I caught her doing the same thing one day. “Hazel Lee, I was teasing you,” She said with a little chuckle.
Ironically, I did it to my little granddaughters too. Funny How I remember that.
Somehow, as a child, I felt that was a sin, but Lordy be, I guess I can say it, the devil made me do it. Our best conversations seem to happen with no TECHY anything around us.
Doing their homework on laptops, decorating homes, planting gardens on computers, mathematics, well, I just don’t go there. We seem to connect our conversations just fine over hose fights, chalk drawing on the driveway, and ice-cold watermelon. I believe it is safe to say, we have the best of both worlds! I am blessed!
Do take time to smell the roses, stop and listen to the next woodpecker you hear, feeling blessed if you see one. I welcome those occasions, now in the late autumn of my life, more than ever before.
I keep a book handy on North American birds around. Oh yes, I guess you could just “google” it? Really, did I just say that? Think of all the money you will save, discovering nature in your own back yard.
Yesterday, I picked up a small worm in my backyard, putting it bacinto the garden. It was edging its way slowly, over the hot concrete. I had to help Mother Nature.
I’m sure you have done these same acts. Seeing a turtle scooting across the road, I stop and help it get to the other side, or else.....and you know what “or else” means.
These small acts of kindness display how Christ takes care of us. His eye is on the sparrow. Likewise, these small acts of kindness become second nature to us.
Plant a garden. It’s time. Just wish I could have some Rhode Island Red, speckled hens in my backyard. Hearing the sound of their cackling, lets one know an egg has just been laid!
I cherished those times, and I still love Rhode Island Red chickens. Fun to paint too.
FRESH COLLARD GREENS FROM THE GARDEN!
ROSES, ROSES, ROSES!
THIS USUALLY GETS MY FAMILY TOGETHER! PINTO BEANS AND CORN BREAD!
PLUS ICED TEA, OF COURSE! EXCUSE ME, BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD!
MY TIMES IN THE GARDEN
MY JUBILEE WATERMELONS ARE NOW OUT OF CONTROL! THEY ARE GROWING EVERYWHERE! I AM CHAGRINED BEYOND WORDS! MY MASTER GARDENER FRIENDS
ARE STILL LAUGHING, REMINDING ME I HAD ENOUGH WATER MELON PLANTS FOR THREE ACRES! MY SMALL WATERMELON PATCH CONTINUES TO BE A SUBJECT OF GOSSIP! (Not really). YOU MUST BE KIDDING!
I must say, I was warned, but my sweet little Caroline, when she said, “Lee Lee, let’s just plant them ALL!” We did. So that’s my excuse! Just wait til they are ready to eat! They will all come back arunnin! Just wait and see!
Take your children or grandchildren to a botanical garden nearby. They usually have an assortment of farm animals as well. So educational. You will be amazed how much you learn. Simple. Just keep it simple.
I love going down to our local coop. Usually I run into someone I know. We share gardening tips, talk about our families; definitely our grandchildren.
We also love digging in the dirt. I can usually get some great gardening tips.
Seems we don’t get into the latest happenings in news, certainly not politics. I consider it an escape. We have a local family that provides fresh honey. One of my top purchases!
Just remember, there is something sacred about digging in the garden. My childhood memories with Uncle Bob, picking vine-ripe tomatoes, the best! I still want a candle that smells like green tomatoes. I will let you know if I find a good one.
Uncle Bob taught me about the parable of seeds, as I walked behind him, pushing the plow, carrying the seed bag. I was six years old. I have never forgotten. Those long ago memories happened when I was carrying an old, faded, flour sack, made into a seed bag.
I am so thankful for those times. I revert to those memories when this old world becomes troubled. Gosh, I wish I had that old seed bag. I do have my bible.
Luke 9:62 helped settle my nerves from the morning news!
Luke 9:62 - Then Jesus declared, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” His words seemed quite harsh, until I read more about its meaning. Three of His disciples were more interested in taking care of their own problems than obeying Him.
Jesus pointed out if a farmer, pushing a plow, continues to look back, he will have crooked and curved rows in the earth - in other words, a big mess!
My Uncle Bob’s rows were always straight. Not once did I realize, how powerful my childhood memories would affect my adulthood. I will cherish my times with all of them forever.
There it was. Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Jesus wants us to follow Him. The troubles in this old world, be it a presidential election, or a pandemic, should not cause us to take our eyes off of Him.
You know what? He already knows who’s going to win.
Remember, His eye is on the sparrow. That gives me great comfort.
I wrote “THE MAN BEHIND THE PLOW” about Uncle Bob. It is published in my book, Sweet Tea & Jesus. Perhaps you will read it sometime.
If you decide to read my book, promise I will take you on a trip down memory lane. You will learn about my Uncle Bob and Aunt Nancy, my grannies, and for the short time I had my mama. She went to Heaven when I was 11 years old. You won’t have to spend money or leave home! You might plant a couple tomato plants.
Simple. I do simple.
Until then.....love one another, be kind to one another, and in all things, TRUST and LOVE the LORD! HE HAS THE ANSWER! HE IS THE ANSWER! And we all said Amen!
Until next time, be safe.......God is with us,
OUR RESCUE DOG, TEBOW! NOW TWO YEARS OLD, HE IS A GREAT PYRENEES
NEVER TO BE HARMED BY MAN AGAIN! HE PRAYS WITH ME EVERY NIGHT!
PROVERBS 12:10 CLEARLY STATES WE ARE TO TAKE CARE OF HIS ANIMALS!
AND WE DO, ALONG WITH ANY OTHERS WE FIND IN NEED, INCLUDING OUR
NEIGHBORS, LOVED ONES, OR WHOEVER GOD PUTS INTO OUR LIVES!
MY HOLLY HOCKS! BEAUTIFUL!