Saturday, September 24, 2016

Arthur Alexander and his lost legacy, the forgotten Anders J. Smedsvik

A musician i knew nothing of until I watched the documentary about Muscle Shoals, is Arthur Alexander. He had a small discography but loomed large in the music industry in the middle of the last century. Wikipedia says,
Arthur Alexander (May 10, 1940 – June 9, 1993) was an American country songwriter and soul singer. Jason Ankeny, music critic for Allmusic, said Alexander was a "country-soul pioneer" and that, though largely unknown, "his music is the stuff of genius, a poignant and deeply intimate body of work on par with the best of his contemporaries." Alexander wrote songs publicized by such stars as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, Tina Turner and Jerry Lee Lewis. Alexander is the only songwriter whose songs have been covered on studio albums by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan (who recorded "Sally Sue Brown" on his 1988 LP Down in the Groove). "Go Home Girl" was also recorded by Ry Cooder on his 1979 album Bop Till You Drop.
Here is his most famous song, You Better Move On, and its cover by Knopfler and Jackson. He is a man who made a huge impact but his legacy has been lost.

Mark Knopfler and Chuck Jackson, tribute to Arthur Alexander

Dagbladet, a Norwegian journal, wrote a long biography of a man named Anders J. Smedsvik, a sailor and eccentric. I found his story extremely interesting. It's written in English.

The Final Journey of Anders J. Smedsvik
For three weeks in 1972 and then again in 1974, the sea captain, communist, farmer, prisoner of war, adventurer, local politician and peace activist Anders Jenius Smedsvik was a household name in south-west Norway. Then he disappeared and has been forgotten ever since. This is the first time his story has been told in full.

Excursion to the sunflower patch soon

It's been a warm week. You would never know that the season of autumn had passed its looming threshold into hard reality, not with the exceedingly warm temperatures still holding on. It's been over 90 degrees almost every day for the last 100+ days. My gas company wanted to turn on the gas October 4 but I pushed that back to October 11. I might regret that. We'll see.

A friend and I are heading to the pumpkin/sunflower/corn maze patch on October 8th. We are going to walk the sunflower and pumpkin side. It's free to enter and you can pick the sunflowers and pay for only what you pick. Same with the pumpkins. I want tot take lots of photos on a sunny refreshing day, sip cider and a munch on a muffin.

A number of years ago I'd helped a friend in her garden, which had a row of sunflowers. I love sunflowers. I love all flowers actually, I mean, really love, love, love them. I took a few photos of the sunflower row and I've been working with those few pics ever since. I'm ready to take new photos of sunflowers.

Today has been slow because I'm tired and took an early nap after sleeping in late. I haven't gotten much done in the way of scripture pictures, which I do five per weekend to post for each weekday. Same with blog entries at The End Time. I write 5 or 6 essays on a theological topic and post them in the morning before heading to work. I only have 5 rough drafts and none are complete. Oh well, I can only do what I can do!

Instead I got entranced with Mandelbrot's interview in 2010 on TED, and followed up with studying fractals for a while on my own, including an interesting interview on big think. I love fractals even if I do not understand them. I remember the Smithsonian Magazine reporting on them in the early 1980s when they were first 'discovered' and expressed to the laymen. I have loved them ever since but can't really explain them. The TED talk by Mandelbrot himself helped enormously. Here is a photo of a nautilus fractal:

It's quiet here, I have not listened to music or even any sermons. I need a break from the noise of the week, which accumulates in my brain and reverberates long after the last school bell has rung and the last child has left the building. I'm glad my cats are quiet. I like cats for that.

My new John Grisham awaits. I'd found it at the second hand store I love for $1. "The Appeal." It began with a fabulous description of the last moments before the jury returns with a verdict and the few moments after the announcement they've reached one. He is such a good writer. I'll make some hot tea and open to chapter two and dwell in litigious Mississippi for a few hours. Have a good weekend everyone.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Week's worth of lunches

The woman blogger at Good, Cheap Eats is a homeschooling mom who loves Jesus and writes cookbooks. She had a recent blog post which caught my attention, titled

How to Make a Week of Lunches & Save Money

Well, I'm all for that. Aren't you? Her week of lunches is actually 4 work days, because extending prepared lunches to a fifth day violates her 4-day leftover rule. Her husband eats lunch with his son on that day anyway. As for me, I also do not stress about Friday By then I'm so tired of thinking about what to make or pack or tore or prepare...that I just toss in whatever I can grab first. I'm just grateful I've made it to Friday, to be hones. Sometimes, lol, I wind up with lunches on Friday like raw zucchini (I forgot the knife) a handful of homemade granola, and a brown banana.

Today I made granola, a broccoli and cheese quiche, roasted broccoli (the remainder that didn't fit in the quiche, baked teriyaki tofu, and baked potato. I wash the potatoes, and then rub a teaspoon of olive oil on the damp skin, then wrap in tin foil. They come out pillow soft. As for the tofu, it's half a brick that I haven't used from the recipe from last weekend, pad thai. I simply cut them into one inch thin slabs, spread teriyaki sauce on the bottom of a baking pan, laid the slabs on top and poured more sauce over them. Then bake.

I will make humus tomorrow and also a fruit salad. Here are the photos of the goodies from today.

You want the veggie to get that golden crust. This is accomplished by thoroughly dredging in oil. I toss mine around in a ziploc. Then dump into the baking dish.

I add a slight amount of bread crumbs on top of the quiche to make a crunchy crust. Parmesan also works.

Tofu. What can you do with tofu. Not much except cover it in something that tastes better.

It's still hot here, in the 90s. I couldn't wait for fall so I jump started the season by making chamomile tea with honey to sip this afternoon. I can pretend it's leaves and pumpkin season, can't I?

Do check out Jessica's tips. Have a good Sunday everyone.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Sunflowers are enchanting

A few years ago, a friend invited me to her garden. I was to help her pick and she would share whatever I desired to take away from our joint labor. I'm from the north, ME and RI originally, and I was at that time recently relocated here. I was unfamiliar with the long growing season and the variety of goods one can coax from the Georgia ground. Even though sunflowers can be grown in ME, I had never seen them.

The surprise of her garden, to me, were the sunflowers. I loved seeing the tall giants and bright petals. I took some photos, but later regretted I had not taken enough. I wanted to bask among them while I was there but also wanted to view photos of them from every angle later.

Sunflowers entranced Van Gogh too. Wikipedia records this,
Van Gogh began painting in late summer 1888 and continued into the following year. One went to decorate his friend Paul Gauguin's bedroom. The paintings show sunflowers in all stages of life, from full bloom to withering. The paintings were considered innovative for their use of the yellow spectrum, partly because newly invented pigments made new colours possible.
Van Gogh wanted to paint "big flowers" He said,
The peony is Jeannin's, the hollyhock belongs to Quost, but the sunflower is somewhat my own.

van gogh

I understand the attraction. They are majestic flowers, and the yellow is bright and happy. Here are a few photos of that day in the garden.

sunflower 1sunflower3


I'm excited to have planned a trip with a friend to a sunflower farm in early October! I plan to take LOTS of photos! From the Farm's website photos of the sunflower garden, it seem they have a species that's a bit shorter than these 16 foot mountainous blooms I'd visited some years ago, so it will be a fun day exploring a new type of sunflower.

Fall is a great time of year in Georgia. :)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sunflower patch ahead, but presently, a hard week for some friends

This is one of my favorite photos of Bert. He's nine years old.

He is a good boy. Steady, loving, calm. He is vocal and talks a lot sometimes, and when he does he sounds like a grumpy old man, lol. I call him my lovable gray lump.

This was a good week at school and at home. The weather is holding steady with no rain and drought conditions. And the heat has kept up too, above 90 degrees most days. I'm longing for night temperatures below 70 degrees. I hope that happens soon. Overall, noting to disrupt the cycle of sleep, work, minister, worship, relax...repeat.

In October I'm headed to the Sunflower Patch with a friend where I plan to take photos of the flowers and maybe pick some and also buy a pumpkin. Mmm, autumn is great in Georgia. The last social time I'd scheduled was 10 months ago in December, a photography day trip around the county. Social outings 10 months apart is just the kind of schedule I like. Two times a year is plenty for me. ;)

Though it was a good week, it was also sort of a sort of hard week with prayers and empathy going up for some friends who are experiencing the trauma of a child who'd had a devastating accident and another dealing with a sudden family death. I take comfort in my routine, my home, my job; but we know that ultimately the eternal comfort comes with knowing Jesus. Thankfully those two families do. I pray He ministers to them with His abounding loving care, and I praise him that as of now, for the moment, my time to experience such things is not yet.

Onward with the weekend.

Monday, August 22, 2016

What can you do with hard cooking pears?

When I moved to the south and go to the apartment I'm in now, I was excited to see there were many fruit-bearing trees and vines in the yard. Fig, apple, pecan, scuppernong, and pear trees abounded. The first time I picked a pear and bit into it, I just about broke my teeth. I waited and waited for the pears to get ripe, but they never softened.

That is because they are windfall pears. I do no know why they are called windfall pears, other than the fact that "they are so hard to eat that they stay on the tree until the wind makes them fall, and even then, the squirrels won't eat them." That's my definition.

But us frugal people hate to see a lovely looking fruit go to waste. There must be something one can do with them? Isn't there?

After my first year here trying to freeze them, cook them, poach them ... I gave up. I do not enjoy making jam or jelly or dealing with sterilizing jars, so that seemed to be that.

But the other day a friend gave me a bag of hard pears, and so here I go again. This time, I decided, I won't give up.

The thing is, I don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. That's why I do all my cooking on Sunday for the week ahead. When you live alone, every single thing that has to be done in my life, has to be done by me. So the more things I can collapse into a convenient bundle, the better.

I also don't like coring or seeding fruit. I don't like being sticky. I know, I know, I'm persnickety about a lot of things.

I decided to boil the 12 pears I had been given with skins on and pare them when they cooled. That way, I wouldn't have to deal with seeds and cores. Ha, HA, take that, cores! I washed them, took the stems off, and simply popped them into a large pot with water. What I didn't do is add something to the water for flavor, such as cinnamon or lemon or other spices. I forgot. That would have been good to do.

I brought the water to a boil then turned it to simmer until the pears were soft. I don't know how long it took, because I was happy not to have to babysit the pears and I went off to do other things. It was a good while though, about 45 minutes.

Bring to a boil,

Then simmer

They were done when a knife went through them easily. I cooled them on a clean towel.

When they were cool enough to handle, I cut them up with skins on. There is a lot of flavor in the skins. Plus, easier. The dozen pears even after having been boiled, yielded a lot of meat.

On the left in the small pot, a simple sugar. Also, I finally dragged out the lemon juice from the fridge. I added both to the chopped pears and simmered again. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the pears further along, but I knew I wanted them soft, really soft. I used 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water. I used two caps full of lemon juice. I also added ginger.

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. Actually, no trouble. It's a mainly hands free process. The only time I really had to handle them was cutting up the softened pears. The rest of the time, it did its thing on its own!

I simmered until the liquid was gone. I cooled it and popped it in the fridge. I now have a mound of soft, tasty pears. Today for lunch I put a few spoons of the pear compote into my fruit salad. I will also use it in oatmeal, on cottage cheese, and in yogurt. You can also add raisins, craisins, almonds, or walnuts. Add to ice cream, top pound cake, or just plop some whipped cream on a mound of pear compote for a yummy dessert. What other ways can you think of to use a pear compote like this?

Anyway, that is my easy-peasy method of using up windfall pears!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Announcing my new eBook: Encouragement in Grace

I am happy to announce that I have written an eBook which is now for sale at Amazon! It's titled "Encouragement In Grace: Devotions & Inspirations for Christian Women" by Elizabeth Prata. The book is the first in a series of three I've written. The second two, Prophecy In Grace and Discernment In Grace will be in December and in April, respectively.

Jesus saved me, in grace. His grace is sufficient, His grace sustains me, and it's His grace that is so amazing. So I named the series In Grace as a tribute to Him who is grace personified.

I pray the essays in the eBook shine His glory back onto Him.


Cover photo by EPrata, cover design by Liliana McAndrew

Sunday mornings: cooking & sermons

I've mentioned before that I'm frugal. I'm frugal with my time and my money. I work hard all day (who doesn't?!) and when I come home I shift gears into ministry and writing mode. It's my second shift. As I get older I notice my tiredness creeps in earlier and my attention flags sooner. I need to budget my time in order to capture my best.

I buy the reduced fruits and veggies at Kroger whenever I see the red sticker. The food is perfectly fine, it just needs to be eaten sooner rather than later. This week there were two eggplants for 99 cents, a bag of red potatoes for 99 cents, 4 beefsteak tomatoes for 99 cents, and purple cauliflower for 99 cents. A friend gave me some hot red and green peppers from her garden. Another friend had given me 10 lb of lentils two weeks ago. A third friend gave me a tray of fresh eggs from her farm. OK, what to do?

I decided to make lentil soup and include some of the potatoes in it. I decided to roast the potatoes, since whatever I do with them after, they will have built-in flavor already. Oops, they all would not fit in the pan, so I boiled a few to have on the side. I had bouillon, onion, and carrots already. So, soup.

The eggplants...two is a lot. I decided to make baked eggplant and use them for sandwiches with the tomatoes. I had plenty of eggs to drench the rounds in, and bread crumbs. One thing I like about frugal cooking is using only a few ingredients for each dish, and keeping my options open for the item later. I could use baked eggplant rounds as a snack, sandwiches, salads, or toss into spaghetti. But I really like eggplant and tomato sandwiches so that was my main goal.

As I cut and peeled the two eggplants there turned out to be a lot of rounds, or half circles as some of the rounds were big. I ran out of scrambled egg to drench the last few rounds in and I did not want to use up a third egg, so I decided to simply saute the last few bits and use them in pasta.

I would roast the cauliflower. That will be a side dish to my lunches. I'd roast the peppers too, and added half the onion I didn't use in the soup. I like scrambled eggs N peppers so that would work.

I began at 6:45, a few minutes after I got up. One way for me to budget my time is to launch right in. If I sit down, I start reading, or answering emails, or just start vacantly viewing cat videos or Big Bang Theory clips, lol. So I put on Expositor.FM, a 24 hour sermon radio stream and listened to Donald Grey Barnhouse, James Montgomery Boice, Steven J. Lawson, and Martyn Lloyd Jones. Cooking took two hours, with an occasional pause to write a note of an especially good nugget from one of the preachers.

Something I'm never good at is proportions. I always mess that up. I used too many lentils for the soup, it was way lentil-y and the potatoes, onions and carrots were lost. So I took some time to remove several ladles-full of lentils and put them in a separate container. I'll likely use these outliers for a salad later in the week. Good thing I love lentils!

The friend who gave me the peppers from her garden also gave me hard pears (these are pears from trees that always stay hard, and must be cooked), and a big bag of turkey figs. On Monday I'll cook the pears, probably using this recipe,, which requires some work to be done to them tonight as they soak in the fridge for 24 hours.

I had a few grapes left and I transferred them from the large container I'd put them in at the beginning of the week to a smaller one so I could use the larger for the cauliflower. My friend Susan had given me a set of Rubbermaid containers for Christmas last year and it was a great gift.

Here are the photos of the end result:

It looks like a lot but it's not. These containers, plus the figs and pears in the fridge, represent lunches and dinners and snacks for the week, until next Saturday. (I grocery shop on Sunday after church). So there are ten meals, plus snacks, plus some to share with friends. I might make hummus later in the week, if I need to.

It took two hours, and now I'm done for the week!

I use Saturdays to prepare the scripture pictures I post on my blog and Facebook Page all week. I make 6 of them. I also write 5-6 blog essays to be ready to publish each morning before I head to work. I study the Bible and I listen to sermons all throughout the day. I also began a free study of the Book of John, through Dallas Theological Seminary, and I completed Unit 1 on Saturday.

All of Saturday is spent this way, every week. In October I have plans to go out to the pumpkin and sunflower patch on a Saturday but other than that one social engagement, I just spend Saturdays and Sundays at home, quietly, recovering from the week. I need it. I find that as I get older, managing myself in public as an autistic person is also getting harder and harder. Recovery is taking longer.

After I finish cooking, the rest of Sunday morning I listen to instrumental hymns and read the Bible. I might nap. At 2:30 I dress and get ready for church. Our church has service at 3:30. We are a new church plant and are renting a place that has time limits, so that is the time. I love the 3:30 time! I leave at 3:00 and enjoy a stellar church service until 5:00. I stop at Kroger for quick grocery shopping on the way home and I arrive back by 6:00. I spend the evening reading and preparing mentally and emotionally for the week ahead at school. Sundays are quite relaxing this way. I feel my time is used well for the Lord and by Monday I've rested and been refreshed.

During the week, when I get home I answer emails for the ministry, from women who have messaged me with questions or prayer requests. I write, getting my next book ready. I do my daily Bible reading. There isn't a whole lot of time after school. I get home and settled between 4:00 and 4:30 and I go to bed at 9:00 or so. I like to watch TV or movies, so I might tune in at the end of the day to wind down and relax.

I like The Great British Bake Off and Australia's The Block, competitive cooking and renovation shows, respectively. I also like Longmire, a modern cowboy/sheriff show, and Canada's Private Eyes, a lighthearted detective show. All of these will begin their new season in late August or early September, so there will be good TV to watch. I found Heartland, a gentle show about a family and horses, from Canada. There is less and less to watch these days, that my conscience can handle. But I'm grateful for these good shows. I do like to end the day with some tube.

I do it this way every day. Routine is king at Casa Prata. I do not vary. This way not only do I enjoy the comfort of my routine, and it IS a comfort, but I know I am using the time well. I don't like to waste it. Even at that, I am well short of maximizing my time for the Lord when I see what Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Charles Spurgeon did every day, 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.

But I try. I try. Have a good week ahead everyone, and remember to shepherd your resources, use the time well, and enjoy the bounty all around you. :)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Kindergarten Lunchroom Duty

Lexington KY Principal Gerry Brooks is one hysterical guy. He makes short Youtube/Facebook videos recounting life in a school, and his charming and funny look at school life never fails to hit the funny bone. But this one, THIS clip, got me laughing so hard I watched it three times, holding my belly and wiping tears.

It is the end of our second week of school. I no longer have kindergarten lunchroom duty but I did do it for years. I also to this day work with kindergarteners. I'd been laughing over the funny and random things they say, like today I'd recounted a random kindergartener comment and the other day, a random kindergartener grandma comment. It happens just like Gerry said.

And yes, the Pizza Lunchable is a nightmare. It is for me because I want to be sure and get TO all the kids in time to open all their things so they can have a relaxing lunch with enough time to eat it, AND for the child, who manages never to get the circle holding the sauce and the cheese to their mouth before the cheese falls off and the sauce drips on their inevitably new pants/dress/sweater... And you don't forget their little face of total disappointment when they're tearfully staring at an upside down plopped circle on the floor with tomato sauce splatter radiating out from all around it.

Watch this and laugh.

By the way, the stress eases up after a few months. It's so cute to see the little guys being more independent and eating and talking and being their silly ol' selves. :)

Long Heat Wave Breaking Records

I am so blessed to live in a rural area. I drive up Route 98 to school every day, it's 99.9% of the drive. LOL, "Route 98" looks like this.

For it to be named a 'Route' makes it sounds more traffic-y than it is. The gas station intersection is the most populated part. It's a cross street that brings commuters from Elbert County and the eastern part of my county, to the route that takes them to Athens.

As I approach the intersection it is actually the top of a long, slow hill. There is a canola field on the left. The sunrises over the field are spectacular. Because of the hill,  I think, dramatic clouds always gather in that spot and it's too tempting or pull over and snap a few photos.

It's August and that means haying. We are smashing records all over here in north Georgia. We have topped 90 degrees every day for the last 51 days, and the other record we are smashing is that the low temp has not gone below 70 for the last 51 days. In other words, it's been HOT! My poor air conditioner is getting a work out. Though one expects hot weather in GA in the summer, this one has been long and hot, with no cool night breaks or even lower temps briefly from passing thunderstorms. Phew.

But I can't complain, I'm not out in the fields doing the haying. It has been really hot for those guys. The second photo above is of a nice line-up of many rolls of hay you see as you go down the road. The few you see in the photo are just a few of the stubbly soldiers guarding the field. I pulled off Rt 98 to take this, then paused for a moment on my drive home to enjoy the green field, the pond, the gorgeous old growth trees...ahhh, Such scenes really do lift the spirits.

Well, the weekend is here. I hope you all enjoy, if you get the weekend off. I'm going to read by my air conditioner and thank the good Lord for electricity!