There are times when my calendar looks mercifully clear, and I look forward to time spent working on things I need to do around my house and yard.  Last week the only thing I had scheduled was a doctor appointment on Wednesday afternoon.  I had an ultrasound on my thyroid the Friday before, and I was going to find out the results, plus the annual checkup post-thyroid surgery two years ago (half of it was removed).

After writing my column on Monday, I decided to spend some time sewing.  I have been wanting some cotton blouses, and have not been able to locate them in the store.  Or if I do, they cost much more than I am willing to pay.  I had a pattern that worked for me several years ago, but there is more of me now than there was then.  I needed to increase the size; that had to be accomplished before I could cut out the fabric.  I managed to finish said task, and soon the cloth pieces were lying on my cutting table, marked and ready to sew. 

I had two goals for Tuesday: mowing my yard and finishing my blouse.  Since the grass was too wet to mow in the morning, I set to work on my sewing project.  Thankfully, I didn’t manage to sew a piece inside out or backward (which has happened in the past), so there was no time wasted picking out stitching with a seam ripper.  With quite a bit of the blouse finished, I ate lunch and then went out to mow.  I was very tired after that job was done, and planned to wait until later to put the finishing touches on my shirt.  All I had left to do was the hem, the buttonholes, and the buttons.  Even though I really planned to go to bed early, I found myself in front of my sewing machine, working to complete my task.

On Wednesday, my friend Emily came to help me with a flowerbed that was way out of control.  She worked hard to get out the weeds, but since it is so big, there was no way she could do the whole thing.  While she was working in the front, I was picking beans in the garden.  We went to town and got mulch to cover the area she had already finished so that weeds wouldn’t grow back.  I saw the doctor (who gave me a good report), and then we came back to my house to spread the mulch.

Thursday was another busy day; I worked inside in the morning and then finished picking green beans.  By the time evening rolled around, I was exhausted.  Then I remembered I needed to gather my trash and take it to the end of my driveway.  It is usually picked up before 7 a.m., so I put it out the night before.  When I finally rolled the container down the drive, I breathed a sigh of relief.  Then I found a bag of trash in the garage that I missed.  Back down the driveway I went.  Another sigh of relief.

Later that evening, I was getting something out of the freezer when I saw a bag containing part of the turkey carcass from last November.  I usually cook it to make broth, but now it just needed to be thrown away.  I wanted to do so when it was time for the trash to get picked up so it wouldn’t get stinky.  I debated on leaving it for another week; however, something in me said I would probably forget it again.  My reluctant feet made yet another trip down the driveway to dispose of the turkey bones.

Sometimes the Lord speaks into my exhaustion – that night was no exception.  There was a beautiful display in the sky.  The sun was going down in a blaze of glory, surrounded by clouds that were reflecting its light.  I stood and marveled at the sight, thanking Him for His way of drawing me into the wonder of His creation.  If I had stayed in the house, the spectacle would have been hidden by the pine trees in my front yard.  When I finally headed back to my house, I felt rejuvenated, and I thanked God for His provision.

God’s provision shows up in other ways.  My garden has been doing well since we finally got some rain.  Green beans and cucumbers abound!  Here are some recipes for those vegetables:

Dilled Green Beans

1-1/2 pounds fresh green beans

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup snipped fresh chives (or minced green onion)

1 tablespoon dried whole dillweed

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Wash green beans, removing strings if necessary.  Cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces.  Cook beans (covered) in a small amount of boiling water for 10 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Drain; set aside to cool.

Whisk together oil and remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Pour over green beans; toss well.  Cover and refrigerate 6 hours.  Serve chilled.

Pesto Green Beans

1 cup packed basil leaves

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and steamed

Process basil, 1/4 cup pecans, olive oil, and next 3 ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Remove 1/2 cup pesto, and reserve for other uses. Toss hot green beans with remaining pesto; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pecans.

NOTE: Spoon leftover pesto into an airtight container; refrigerate up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 3 months.

Cucumber-Almond Salad

2-3 large cucumbers

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup commercial sour cream

1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted

1 green onion, minced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Peel cucumbers and thinly slice.  Sprinkle with salt; let stand 15 minutes.

Drain cucumbers if necessary.  Combine remaining ingredients; add to cucumbers, tossing gently.  Chill at least 1 hour before serving.

Crisp Cucumber Salsa

2 cups finely chopped seeded peeled cucumber

1/2 cup finely chopped seeded tomato

1/4 cup chopped red onion

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

1/4 cup sour cream

1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

Tortilla chips

In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In another bowl, combine sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice, cumin and seasoned salt. Pour over cucumber mixture and toss gently to coat. Serve with chips.