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NEWS FROM THE HILLS : THE SIMPLE THINGS

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Alyce Faye BraggThis is a glorious morning. I feel sorry for folks who sleep late and miss the beauty of the day unfolding. There is a cool breeze that picks up the fragrance of blooming flowers and wafts it across the yard. No wonder that God walked with Adam in the cool of the day.

A rocking chair, a cup of tea, and nature's slide show in progress—how could it get any better? Delicate pink clouds are ushering in the sun, which is just beginning to come up over Pilot Knob. Leaves on the trees are lush and full, and we seem to have plunged into midsummer.

It is so peaceful early in the morning. The songbirds are saluting the rising of the sun with their cheerful and joyous melodies. The rooster crows and encourages his flock of hens to eat their laying mash and get on with the day's chores. Andy's young bull calf bawls loudly and demands his bottle.

As I sit rocking and meditating, I think of how the simple things in life can soothe a person's soul and calm the stress of everyday problems. It doesn't take spectacular sights or grand excursions to satisfy, but the small pleasures of life are ours to enjoy. I'm afraid that too many folks go through their day without noticing the simple beauty of their surroundings.

I was up at the Flatwoods Outlet Mall last week, and got a sandwich from the Amish Deli (which was very good, by the way.) I sat down at one of the tables near the windows, and gazed down at the rolling hillside below. What a place of pastoral beauty! A little stream ran through the green field, and a couple of ducks were swimming there. There was a barn in the distance, and the whole scene reflected contentment.

It was another of those simple pleasures that come unexpectedly. I had just come from the "Lost Road Candles" shop where the owner, Jim Jarvis, had given me two beautiful handmade candles that smelled heavenly. While smelling the candles, enjoying my sandwich, and watching the scene below, I felt utterly content.

The common daisies are fading, and giving their place to orange pleurisy weed, or butterfly weed. Midsummer flowers are not as sweetly scented as spring ones, but are much more colorful in their vivid shades. I love the contrast between the orange day lilies and blue chickory. There is so much loveliness in our corner of the world. We need to take time to enjoy it.

My sweet cousin, Eloise Morrison of Radcliff, Kentucky, sent a recipe for German potato salad made without mayonnaise. The dressing sounds a lot like the kind Mom used to make, and it was very good. Eloise (called Totsy by her cousins) says that she has made this many times and it is always a hit.

GERMAN POTATO SALAD
8 slices bacon
3 tablespoons flour
4 teaspoons chopped onion
2/3 cup vinegar
2/3 cup water
½ cup sugar
3 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon powdered dry mustard
2 quarts cooked, diced potatoes
½ cup chopped parsley

Fry bacon crisp. Drain and crumble. Leave ¼ cup bacon grease in pan, add flour and onions. Stir in vinegar, water, sugar, salt and dry mustard. Cook only until medium thickness, add to potatoes, parsley and crumbled bacon. Mix thoroughly with two forks to prevent mashing potatoes. Yield: eight to ten servings. She adds, "I like to serve it warm."
We received an interesting letter from Jo Ann Fromhart of Dunmore. She writes, "If you have written about the following expression, I missed it." No, I've never heard the expression before which is, "I'll eat the greaser." It was used to mean that you agreed or disagreed with something.

She continued, "I think it comes from the following: When my father butchered a pig in the fall, he would cut a large circle around the pig's tail. He made sure he had lots of fat on the circle. After the circle and tail were cleaned, he would curl the tail and fasten it to make a handle. My mother would use this to grease her griddle and skillets until all the fat was gone. Most women in our community (Preston County) had a greaser."

We called the oil gland on top of the chicken's (or turkey's) tail the greaser. When we butchered a chicken, we made sure to cut the greaser—and the gall off the liver. There are a lot of things that our modern housewives don't have to do.

Edith Newhouse of Cowen asks if any of our readers remember their mothers sulfuring apples? She says that she helped her mother prepare them before much canning was done in the 1920s. There was no frozen food either. She says they would keep all winter in a stone jar. She will send the recipe if anyone wants it.

We received a letter from one of my friends (which I won't identify for obvious reasons) that I would like to share with you. It is a true story, and could happen to any of us older folks! She relates," This incident took place several years ago, and the names have been changed to protect the innocent. A nice couple began dating after the demise of their respective spouses' years before.

"After the honeymoon night, she went downstairs first. When he came downstairs, he found his new bride crying profusely. He was quite concerned and asked her, 'Velma honey, did I hurt you?' Mournfully she said, 'Oh, Willie, I think I've had a stroke—my dentures don't fit!' She had gotten the wrong denture cup!"

"Such is real life!" my friend added. I'll never forget the time that I went in the bedroom to wake up Criss, and he was sitting up in bed with a bewildered look on his face. He was trying to fit my lower dentures in his mouth.
In this modern day with the emphasis put on diet and exercise, my friend Nancy Hadlow of Bountiful, Utah (don't you love that name?) sent me a list of ways to get your exercise.

Jumping at conclusions
Beating around the bush
Climbing the walls
Passing the buck
Pushing my luck
Dragging my heels
Hitting the nail on the head
Running around in circles
Opening a can of worms
Getting the ball rolling
Picking up the pieces
Going over the edge
Putting my foot in my mouth
Jumping on the bandwagon
Making mountains out of molehills
Climbing the ladder of success
Nit picking—and I am completely exhausted!

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Alyce Faye Bragg
About This Author
She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published.
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