A soft, soothing rain is falling on our hills this morning; the type of rain that Mom always called a “swoozy” rain. After several days of dry weather, the garden is soaking it in greedily. Lawns were beginning to look brown around the edges, and this rain is already turning the grass green again. The whole world looks brighter with the dust washed from the leaves and the flowers on the rose of Sharon bush lift freshly-washed faces.

It was a perfect morning when I typed those words, beginning my column for the week. I was recovering from hernia repair surgery and making plans to finish the sweet pickles that were soaking in the alum mixture. Have you ever heard the Robert Burns quote, “The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry?” I should have meditated on that.

Early the next morning, I got out of bed and let Minnie out to use the bathroom. Coming back in, I stubbed my toe (broke it too!) and splattered myself on the hardwood floor. Consequently, x-rays showed that I had shattered my kneecap. It was ironic that I had lost the other one 22 years before, taking care of Mathew’s lop-eared rabbit. That time, I tripped over a gas line, plunged over a three-foot wall and landed on the concrete walk below. Animals will be my downfall yet.

To make a long story short, I had surgery on my knee and hopefully will get the staples out soon. This time the cap was pieced back together and then wired. It has been an interesting week. My regular orthopedic surgeon (well, yes, I break so many bones that I need a personal surgeon) was swamped, so I went with the surgeon on call. I was assured that he was competent and skilled. He seemed quite reserved and modest, although he was friendly and explained in detail the procedure he planned to use.

I was lying in bed with my eyeglasses off, when I saw a young man coming down the hall toward my room. I thought it was my grandson Josh, and I sang out loudly, “Hello, Sweetie!” It wasn’t Josh—it was the doctor. I explained rather lamely that I thought it was my grandson, and he replied, “Well, I wondered where that came from!” (Dr. Ede would have expected that!)

I do appreciate the get-well cards, e-mails, and most of all the prayers that have been offered for me. My husband Criss, daughter Patty, and son-in-law Bob have been an invaluable help. They’ve had the garden to tend, canning to do, plus carrying me around on a pillow. Then to complicate the situation, Criss climbed up on a plastic patio chair, (yes he should have known better!) which promptly slipped out from under him and threw him off the porch, breaking some ribs and bruising his hip badly. We’re trying to keep Patty healthy so she can take care of us.

In the process, I am sure I have lost e-mails and phone calls, so I apologize. I do remember an e-mail which got deleted from Rene (?) who offered me a sweet shrub bush. Probably October is the best time to plant it—I do want it. Speaking of the sweet shrub, we received some information from Marian Gibson about this fragrant plant. It said, “Probably the most common way of passing sweet shrub along is by taking and sowing seed. Aromatic seed capsules, two or three inches long, form after the flowers fade. They hand on the bush until winter, changing from green to deep brown as they ripen. You can sow the ripened seeds immediately in the fall, or store the seeds in the refrigerator and sow them in the spring.”

We received several responses about the word used for leftovers. The first came from Debra Burgess of Gilbert who says that she had always hoped to be able to answer a query. She says, “In our home the word we use for leftovers is “musgos—everything in the refrigerator ‘must go.’” Betty Banks of Charleston has a friend who uses the same word. Arnie Moore writes that his family always uses the word “mustgoes,” while Pat Long of Parkersburg says a neighbor introduced them to the term “Encore Presentation.”

Gordon Parker reminisces about the time when his mother was ill and it fell upon his father to make the evening meal. He said his father dumped all the leftovers he could find and stewed it together, calling it “slumgullion.” That brought back memories of my own when Mom would fix a summertime meal for us kids called slumgullion. She usually started with a skillet of fresh tomatoes (cut up), adding fresh vegetables and sometimes leftovers. It was sort of a summer stew, and we loved it. When I serve “warmedovers,” Criss will look up suspiciously and say, “Have I not asked the blessing for this before?”

Dog Days continue, although it has not seemed as sultry and sticky as usual. They will run out August 11, although the days are beginning to look fall-like already. We always fought mildew and mold during Dog Days, using beach and elbow grease. Darren Porter of Kentucky sends a hint from the Old Farmer’s Almanac which says, “Fresh cow’s milk, diluted 1-10 with water helps against fungus and mildew.”

We have a request from Pat Long of Parkersburg who is looking for a song which contains the words, “Tell Mother I will meet her in the land beyond the blue.” If anyone has the words, she would be happy to have them.

I have missed you, dear readers, while I have hit another bump in the road. It will be all right; I can rest in God’s care. Here is a poem I love:




by Henry Van Dyke


These are the gift I ask

Of thee, Spirit serene:

Strength for the daily task,

Courage to face the road.

Good cheer to help me bear the traveler’s load,

And for hours of rest that come between,

An inward joy for all things heard and seen.


These are the sins I fain

Would have thee take away:

Malice, and cold disdain,

Hot anger, sullen hate.

Scorn of the lowly, envy of the great,

And discontent that casts a shadow gray

On all the brightness of a summer day.


(My new book, “Laughter from the Hills,” will be available late August. To receive an autographed copy, order by September 15 through the West Virginia Book Company at 888-982-7472.  Cost, postpaid, including tax, will be $18.23 per copy.)

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Alyce Faye Bragg

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