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“My soul cleaveth unto the dust; quicken thou me according to thy word. I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me; teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts, so shall I talk of thy wondrous works. My soul melteth for heaviness; strengthen thou me according unto thy word. Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me thy law graciously.” — Proverbs 119:25-29

This is a partly cloudy, sort-of-warm, sort-of-cool afternoon on the first day of June. It is a quiet afternoon — no wind, no traffic, just quiet. Even the birds seem to be taking an afternoon nap.

I’m almost glad I’m not out mowing the yard — although it desperately needs it. I didn’t get it done last week. I had too many other pressing matters.

On Memorial Day, we went to sister Dorothy Hostetler’s auction. She was selling her late husband’s tools and miscellaneous items she had no use for or couldn’t use. We weren’t there very long. It is not something that Erwin can do for any length of time. But at least we got to visit with some of the other Ottos and also eat lunch. There is just something about a sale lunch stand cheeseburger that is so very good!

In the afternoon, I helped set the tables for grandson Jeffrey Yoder’s upcoming wedding Friday. I also helped fold napkins. They had to be folded a certain way to be placed on the table. It looked so nice when it was all done. But then on Friday, will it be noticed? The people will be so busy visiting and eating, all our meticulous table setting will be lost in the shuffle.

Now that I have my mom’s dress for the wedding done, I can do other things, but where to start?

While gazing out my window, trying to get out of sleep mode, I noticed at least a dozen buzzards riding the air currents, way high up. How can a bird that is so — I won’t say “ugly,” but unattractive, greasy looking, awkward and ungainly on the ground — look so graceful in the air? I guess they, as well as anyone or anything else, have their good points.

I’m back after my appointment at Willowtree wellness. On my way, I passed a field with a beautiful stand of wheat, in heads already. But you know what I don’t like about that? All too soon, it will be ripening, and the next thing you know, they’ll be harvesting. And all too soon after that, the end of summer. Sad. But in the meantime, I will enjoy summer.

By the way, things woke up. It’s noisy out there. Tractors, workers going home, the farrier next door ...

Anyway, on the way home, I was biking, and I heard several different birds. One was a dickcissel. It took me back years ago to when I was in my preteens and we lived close to Cadwell and the railroad tracks. It was often my job to go up (or down?) the tracks to the little country grocery store in Cadwell and get a few staples — bread, sugar, etc. I was not always willing, but I had no choice. On the other hand, I believe I enjoyed it.

I did a lot of bird watching. Back then, there was a lot of vegetation along the railroad — weeds and wildflowers — that provided habitation for birds and animals. There weren’t many animals, rabbits mostly. Nevertheless, they had sanctuary. Unlike these days, when everything gets mowed and/or sprayed. There were also quite a few pheasants. Nowadays, seeing a pheasant is a rare sighting, something to get excited about.

Anyway, one year, my dad gave me a bird book so I could identify some birds. It wasn’t in color, but needless to say, it was a cherished gift. I still have it. And I actually learned to know quite a few birds. I believe he sent for it out of a paper called “Capper’s Weekly.” Anyway, we, or at least I, did see a pheasant the other day.

Our friend, Bob, came, bringing lunch from Colonel Sanders. He also brought one of his delicious pies. Thanks, Bob!

After we ate our lunch, Bob took us shopping. We went to stores I don’t normally go with our horse. It was a very enjoyable day. Thanks again! Also, thanks to Miriam and Joe for your generosity. It was a real day-brightener! Thank-you!

In closing, remember that marriages, children and flower gardens reflect the care they get.

Try this one out this week.

TEXAS CHILI PASTA BAKE

3 cups uncooked spiral pasta

11/2 pounds ground beef

1 medium green pepper, chopped

1 (1-ounce) package chili seasoning mix

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce

1 (16-ounce) can chili beans with sauce

1/2 cup water

1 (2.8-ounce) can french-fried onions

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

6 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled

Green onions, chopped, if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook and drain pasta as directed on package, using minimum cook time.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef and pepper over medium-high heat for eight to 10 minutes until beef is thoroughly cooked and pepper is crisp tender; drain.

Stir in chili seasoning mix, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, beans and water. Reduce heat to medium; simmer uncovered 10 minutes.

Add pasta, 2/3 of french fried onions and 1 cup cheese; stir gently. Spoon into baking dish.

Spray sheet of foil with cooking spray; place foil, sprayed side down, over baking dish.

Bake 25 minutes.

Uncover; sprinkle with remaining French-fried onions, bacon and remaining 1 cup cheese.

Bake eight to 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

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