Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pigs and Cokes

allposters.com

As I was getting my post ready, I wanted a bit of art to brighten up the New Year. When I saw this, I was reminded of our pig Wilma. She is most likely the only pig in the world to die of old age and be buried by a backhoe.
Wilma was a remarkable pig. Being a Yorkshire, she was nearly 800 pounds and was quite lovely with her buttermilk coloured skin. She had long eyelashes which she fluttered to entice the charmed owner into giving her nearly anything she wanted. Honestly, I thought that pig could use telepathy.
One of Wilma's favorite things was to share a Coke and a pack of Nabs every afternoon at 3 p.m. , just before the children's bus would come home from school. Around 2:30 I would hear her start to grunt.
"Ughn, ughn, ughg" she would loudly proclaim from her lot.
I'd open the door and holler at her: "What do you need, Wilma??"
"Ughn, ughn, ughg."
I knew what this meant. Coke and Nabs, which are Nabisco peanut butter and crackers, you know, the orange ones that you get at the store for snacking. Wilma loved these and the 6.5 ounce Coke from a bottle. We had started this ritual when I was working on the house. Every afternoon, my brother and I would stop working at this time for a snack and to rest for a few minutes. We started sharing with Wilma who, frankly, was addicted. It was shameless.
After three calls from the Pig Princess, I would grab the Nabs and two Cokes and head to the pig yard. She'd wait for me to climb in and the lie down so that I could prop up on her and share our snack. I'd eat a cracker; she'd eat one. I'd drink some of my Coke; she'd have some of hers -- from the bottle. Until the day she died, we had this same ritual.
When Wilma finally died of old age, we had the local backhoe operator come to the house and bury her for us. John and I said a few words over the grave and pronounced, as Wilbur, she was "some pig."
And she was.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eat From the Pantry Challenge and My New Year's Resolutions

Crystal over at Money Saving Mom is having an "Eat from the pantry" challenge for the month of January. I love this idea! I don't know about ya'll, but living on a farm, we have a lot of canned goods that often languish from year to year. It is rare for me to buy anything in a can from the grocer's. However, I seem to have hoarded two freezers and two pantries full of food.

So, I am going to accept Crystal's challenge. And this is just the start.

The coming year has much promise, doesn't it? It is rather like having a fresh life to begin anew. What is it about flipping that calendar page and seeing "January 2010" that makes it seem like any and everything is possible? For the past year I have pondered where I am in my life and where I want to be. Needless to say, many of my choices have not pleased me. Many have. This year I have set myself a few goals to get me closer to what I envision my life to be:

1.) Financial peace: I start the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University offered at a local church on Jan. 3. While I have very little debt, I want none. For 2010, I plan to reduce my debt load (read: house debt) by 20-percent.

2.) Grow my farm: My friend Shelly and I have joined the local organic grower's association and I am working on the organic certification for the farm. We will take the classes in February that will help us finalize the paperwork for the certification. Additionally, I am applying for a grant to allow us to add a pollination service to the farm. Since honey bees are dying out, we deeply believe that we must nurture bees to provide for better crop yield as well as better quality food.

3.) Use it up or give it up: As I have written before, the amount of stuff in my life is drowning me. This year I plan to either use up much of what I have (food and yarn, gasp, among them). I have many things (like clothes) I don't use. They are going either through eBay, local charity, or yard sale.

4.) Quit doing things that make me unhappy: No, this isn't my job. It is, however, a few of the people and responsibilities that I have taken on that no longer make me happy. Instead, if it feels like a drain, it is getting drained. This includes volunteer work, extra projects, or acquaintances. This especially means those people who want to talk about their scars -- physical or mental. Friends share burdens, but acquaintances make them. You know what kind of person I mean: one who never asks how you are or what you are doing or how you are feeling. There is a big difference between sharing a heartache and whining. It also includes jobs in the house that I don't like anymore, like cleaning up behind grown-ups. Can I get an AMEN??

It is interesting to me that NOT on my list is "lose weight" or "exercise more." This tells me that the internal is more interesting to me than the external. Maybe I have grown up. Whatever. I think of Emerson's essay, "Self-Reliance." He states, basically, that we need to listen to our internal truth. Amen. I'm listening; are you?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wasn't it wonderful?

I am in love with Louisa all over again. Wasn't it wonderful?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Louisa May Alcott Documentary Preview Monday, December 28!!


Monday night, December 28, PBS will premier the most wonderful biography of Louisa May Alcott!

During the past few years while I have been in Concord, MA, co-directing a National Endowment of the Humanities program on the Transcendentalists , I have had the opportunity to watch filming, talk with the writer and director, and preview the work in progress. Each time, I have been so impressed by what Nancy Porter and Harriett Reisen have done with Alcott's story. It is marvelous!

It was filmed entirely on location, including Orchard House, which only adds to the production in a way that one done on a set cannot. One gets the "feel" of Alcott's Concord and the people who lived there. Concord delibrately held on to the historical presence of the entire village through restoration and delibrate development, or should I say undevelopment, of the area. As one walks through the village, it is easy to visual the first shot of the American Revolution between the Butterick farm and Ralph Waldo Emerson's grandfather's home, the Old Manse. The energy of Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne still fill the village. It is easy to expect to meet them as one walks down Lexington Road or Walden Street.

The movie itself is well written and the website offers all kinds of wonderful resources (should you teach, homeschool or just have a passion for Alcott's works). Included is a very informative timeline as photos of the Alcott family. Were you aware that Alcott sent her baby sister May to study with Turner in England or that her older sister married John Pratt who had been at Brook Farm, a utopian community (he later became John Brooke in Little Women)?

Please put this on your calendar of must-do for Monday, won't you? It will be well worth the time! Enjoy!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

We Dodged an Ice Bullet




This morning, despite forecasts of a heavy ice storm, we had very little. So, in buoyant optimism we set out for Boone to see the new "Sherlock Holmes" movie. Above is what we encountered when we arrived.

Power lines, tree limbs, ice, and all kinds of debris filled the streets. Ice crashed on the car as we drove under once rich canopies of pine trees. The sparkle was nearly blinding. And, yet, it was lovely beyond words.

In spite of the flocks of flatlanders up to ski, the ridiculous traffic waits, and the cacophiny of noise, the day was just lovely. Crisp. Bright. Dazzling. Breathtaking. There was a time when I wanted to live in Boone more than anywhere. While those days are long past (their zoning stinks -- the mountain tops are overrun with million dollar "log cabins"), there is something about the height of the mountains and the crispness of the air that still gives my heart a flutter. What is it about a university town that gives it a certain energy?

And the movie was out of this world fun!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A New Goal

allposters.com

Every year I have a charity knitting project: orphanage in the Ukraine, homeless shelters, or day care for underprivelged children. And, each year, I try to knit a number of projects that equal the years I am old. As I get older, the challenges get a little greater because, let's face it, I am older and it takes more knitting!

This year for Christmas my sister gave me "Debbie Macomber's Knitting for Charity" for my projects. Frankly, I have about a dozen hats and scarves that I can knit in my sleep as well as a vanilla sock pattern that serves me quite nicely as well. However, I was ready for some new ideas and Missy was so clever to find this for me.

So, here I am, Christmas night, and I have already selected my project for next year, the Santa Train that runs through the coal, and former coal, regions of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. To keep myself honest and to encourage you to consider taking up your knitting needles, crochet hooks, scissors, quilting needles, or whatever wonderful handcraft you do and set yourself a goal, too, I am keeping track in the sidebar. Perhaps we can encourage each other?
Between now and next November 15, when all gifts must be to the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, I will keep this updated with what I have knit and ready to go. Will you join me?
(P.S. I have 54 items to knit this year! What shall I do when I am 90??)

Merry Christmas!

allposters.com
Warmly,
Matty

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How about a hug??

I should have never gotten dressed this morning. Don wanted to go do a little last minute shopping and I reluctantly agreed when he decided to go below the mountain. Since Mother and Daddy live off the mountain and I haven't seen them in over a week, I decided to ride along and we'd stop to visit with them on the way home.

After slipping and sliding in the ice all over our dirt and gravel road, we finally got to the paved road and the drive was wonderful! The day was bright and clear; the sun was shining; there was very little traffic. I was starting to feel happy about deciding to go along with him.

We got to our first stop, ran in, picked up the few things we needed and were out in less than 15 minutes! It was delightful! Then, we met the Parents for lunch at their favorite restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful meal. Afterwards, off we went to this tiny "Superette" down the road which carries oysters in a barrel, straight from the shore! The truck wasn't in yet and we couldn't get our oysters for tomorrow night's dinner, but we had a very nice visit and left with a small bag of old-fashioned hard candy. You know the kind. It is what Grandma put in our stockings along with chocolate drops, orange slices, a pack of gum, and nuts. I was fairly singing at this point.

Our next two stops were equally as wonderful and just as quick as the previous two. Then, we had to go to Wally World, the bane of all that is decent and holy. No matter. I was blessed with an exceptional parking place and off we rushed to finish our shopping. I was nearly dancing as we hurried toward the store. As always, I was in the lead, looking back over my shoulder and talking with Don. A man in a very handsome hat and bomber jacket was walking toward us talking with a woman. From a distance, it looked like my Uncle Bobby. I adore my Uncle and haven't seen him since he had bypass surgery, so I was excited to run into him. I threw out my arms and shouted, "I've been wanting a hug from an old man today!" And laughed and ran up to him. Just as I got to him, I realized This. Is. Not. Uncle. Bobby.

To his credit, the man threw out his arms and hugged me, all while I protested that I made a terrible mistake!

"Do you know my Uncle Bobby?" I asked. And gave him my Uncle's full name.

"No," he laughed.

"You could be his twin, really!"

His wife looked at us both. "I am really glad to know it is a mistake. I was trying to figure out why a woman I didn't know wanted to hug my husband."

We laughed again, I apologized and thanked him for the fine hug.

"Merry Christmas!" I called as they walked off. "I am going to die from embarrassment," I whispered to Don as we waved at my new "Uncle."

"Merry Christmas," they laughed.

Needless to say, I have an opthomologist appointment on Monday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Case for Miracles

snowdrops, allposters.com


As we watched our movie "The Bishop's Wife" today, I was reminded of how we seem to overlook the miracles around us every day. Just waking in the morning is a miracle. A baby, financial reversal or avoiding a wreck are miracles. And, yet, how many of us really stop to think about it.

When I was a young teen, we moved to Florida. Daddy had become bedfast from Rheumatoid Arthritis and the only suggestion the doctor could make was to go to Florida or Arizona. My parents couldn't afford the gas to Arizona, so we loaded a mattress in the back of the wagon, helped Daddy in, and off Mother and Daddy went, leaving us with family and friends.

On the third morning, Daddy called us at Grandmother's house. He called. He dialed and held the phone. He could stand, close his hands, shave, and feed himself. A miracle. Two weeks later, the house was on the market and we were in a rental house in Lakeland, Florida. And, Daddy had a job and was able to work again. Two weeks. A miracle.

The agent who helped us find the house was a concentration camp survivor, as was her husband. Adolph and Mona Richmond survived Dauchu, came to the U.S., and built a new life for themselves -- sole representatives of two large German Jew families that were now gone. They had endured things that I was too naive to understand, but I did understand they could never have children and they had numbers tattoed on their forearms. They "adopted" us and treated us as kindly as any grandparents. They were our miracle; we were theirs.



While these seem like small things in the scope of what we consider miracles, they point out that gifts are around us every day. At this time of year, we pause to consider the wonder of a Babe that came that we might live. Let us also remember the many blessings that we have daily --- hope, food, shelter, love, and good health. We are the rich beyond the things we can hold in our hands. It is the things we hold in our heart that matter.

Monday, December 21, 2009

We Built a House!


Forgive the second daily posting, but I am so excited! Isn't this a fine gingerbread house? Don't you want to just pull up a chair and start chomping, a'la Wicked Witch, on the roof? Who says a couple can't build a house and stay married? All it took was eating the spare candies and licking the icing bowl to smooth over any construction differences.
Yummmers.....

Waiting, and not for Santa

Mia and Mary, the pygmy goats, have us tied up in knots. They are due any day and we are watching and waiting. Truth be told, we thought they might kid during the snow storm, but they fooled us. However, it is getting close. Last night they had both made a nest in the same stall. Since they are nearly mortal enemies, we think we might have kids this morning.

Goats are odd creatures, if you haven't noticed. Their personalities are so unique and you can just see the wheels spinning when you look in their eyes. They know what they want and they get it, usually. Often I think they have planned to take over the farm because they will come en masse and over run the fence gate or the milking parlor to either get out or get in. It is really funny to watch.

Last night Louie, my little bottle fed buck, was playing in the snow. He has these lovely, narrow horns that he was filling the space between with snow and then tossing it on his cousins. They, in turn, were plowing into him to try to start a massive fight. This went on and on until the hay was put in the feeders. Then, everyone forgot Louie and the snow; the tussle was on at the hay racks instead. Hollie, our Dexter cow, settled the whole thing when she cleared the first hay rack with her nose. The boys settled right down and cut out the silliness at the second feeder. Peace reigned. For a few minutes, anyhow.

My son thinks the farm is boring. I think he isn't paying attention.... How could anyone be bored with such antics?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First Day Musings

Usually I have no problem having something to say. The gift of gab comes to me from both parents, so I am never at a loss of things to talk about.

However, today, the gals at Mennonite Girls Can Cook said it much better than I can. Won't you take a minute and read it?

Stay warm and be safe!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Wonderland

This is what it looks like at Lazy Bee Farm this morning.


The house looks like a picture from an old Victorian post card, don't you think? The roping is down because we have had such winds.


This is the lane to our house. We have no neighbors for three miles each direction. It is heaven! Note that our friend Roger brought his road scraper through this noon and cleared a little path for us. Isn't that wonderful?


This was the bucks little shelter. It is now folded in two because of the snow's weight. None of the boys were injured and they can still get inside. It is just two little houses instead of one bigger one.
I love love love the snow; I love the stillness; I love the calm; I love the cold (when the wind isn't blowing).

How are things in your world?

Friday, December 18, 2009

No one told me

When I became a Mum, no one told me that I would be one FOREVER!!! Yes, yes, I knew that I would be a "mum" forever. What I didn't know was that I would worry forever!

My son is 27; he is in leaving for Air Force explosive devise training in February. He has lived away from home for eight years, until the past six months while waiting to leave for Texas. He is a free man. He is an adult. He is going to dismantle bombs, for goodness sake.

So, why is it that when he got in my ancient truck (it is older than he by almost ten years!) and took off to spend the weekend with a buddy 50 miles away that I got nearly sick? Could it be that we are forecasted to have between one and two feet of snow??

My son was hard to come by. I was nearly 28 when he was born and he is the only baby I carried to term. He was a very sickly little boy and had gamma globulin shots twice a week for the first two years of his life. During the first six months of his life, he had the diagnosis of cystic fibrous, but it ended up that he had terrible food allergies. The pediatrician had him nurse until he was nearly three; I thought I was always going to have an appendage. Then, amazingly, he outgrew all of it and flourished. He has been sick twice since he was three. He has only had one accident involving an emergency room visit. In short, he is blessed and so am I.

He is smart enough to know to stay in. He will. I imagine he will shoot pool, lift weights, cook, and drink beer. These are his favorite things, next to chasing women. He is 27 and these are things that 27-year-old single men do. I understand that. But, why do I feel the need to protect him? Will I be one of those moms who cries the whole time he is gone in service? Geez. I have to get a grip.

In the meantime, the snow is falling and I am worrying and pondering the weirdness of motherhood.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's CHRIST-mas, for crying out loud

allposters.com

When Don told me that rumors had surfaced about an "inclusive" Christmas in Washington this year, I nearly dropped my teeth. "Sure," I thought, "He often jumps at those things he reads on the internet; we'll see." Let's face it; he is a tad reactionary at times. So this morning, I found this story and have checked out a few other sites to confirm it. It's true. The White House discussed an "inclusive" Christmas this year. It opted, instead, to follow tradition. Sort of.

Okay. I try not to be political here. I think we all have a right to believe what we believe and to do it in peace and respect. But, this strikes me as the stupidest thing I have ever heard. How in the name of all that is jingly can one make Christmas "inclusive"? Look at the word. Christ mass. Christ. As in Jesus. As in the Son of God. As in Christianity. As in the words and faith of the Founding Fathers, Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. As in "So Help Me God" in the courtroom. As in "God We Trust" on our money. "God Bless America" or "Battle Hymn of Republic". Come on. Let's be serious.

To have an Inclusive Christmas is an oxymoron. Emphasis on the moron, please. Christmas is a Christian holiday. It is NOT inclusive. It is for Christians, just as Hanakkuh is for Jews or Ramadan is for Muslims or the Solistice is for Wiccans. Why is it necessary to take a Christian holiday and make it inclusive?

One of the loveliest things about our nation is that we were founded on the principles of Personal. Choice. This does not mean that we appropriate days or holidays or observances and try to make it 'inclusive' for everyone. Rather, it means that we all have an opportunity to worship, honor, or whatever, our concept of God. Or not.

The end.

The idea that we all have to be 'equal' or 'equally included' is ludicrious. We are not. We are not clones. We are not created the same. Sure, we all have the same basic equipment, in varying degrees. This is what makes us so fascinating. So, why in the world would we want to make sure everyone is included in everything? It makes me think of the playgrounds where students are no longer "chosen" for a team. "No one should be last," some argue. Right. There is always a first and last. Get over it. It's life. And believe me, I have been last lots of times. I haven't spent a huge amount of time in therapy whining that I wasn't included or first.

Honestly, it is this very concept that has lead to the dumbing down of our educational system, employee apathy, and materialism. We do not all have to be the same. We are guaranteed the RIGHT to pursue happiness. We are guaranteed that we will have the same chances; however, it does not mean that we are to all be cookie cutter versions of each other.

I have struggled with the difference between "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas." I am a Christian. I prefer to say "Merry Christmas." However, I do not expect someone who is not a Christian to respond in kind. It is their choice. But don't force your choice on me. As Scrooge says, "You keep the day in your way and I'll keep the day in mine." Perhaps he is on to something.

As for me, I plan on having a Christian Christmas. I do not apologize for doing it. However, you may keep your holy days as well. And not apologize for doing it. Just don't tell me that you want to be inclusive. Otherwise, I might include you in my naughty list.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We don't need no stinking customer service...


It's a long story, but it ends up like this.

I ordered my father a very expensive ham for Thanksgiving. He went through radiation treatments recently and is not eating the best in the world. When your Daddy asks for a special something to eat, you move heaven and earth to do it, right? Besides, I have to be the favorite daughter sometimes!

When it arrived, it was so salty we couldn't eat it. I have tried twice now to get some kind of resolution. The first attempt ended up in an offer from the customer service representative for 10-percent off my NEXT order. Today was the winner, though. The customer service rep accidentally sent me an email meant for a co-worker. The implication was that I was trying to wrangle another ham from them for free. Let me assure you; as expensive as the first one was, I should have a replacement hand delivered by the company CEO.

I was not pleased and let her know that. And that I would write the CEO and copy the email to him. The response was an apology that she would never send such an email to a customer. There was no resolution.

In the meantime, I want to sit down and cry.
So, kids, is it just me or has customer service gone to the dogs? Could this be one of the reasons that the American economy has tanked? What do you think?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Five Things I Can't Do Without

It has been a mundane day; one of those that you go through and at the end of the day you have no idea what you have done meaningful. So, how about we share five things we could not do without?

I'll go first.

1.) Bible. I love to read the stories of people and events that inspire/ inform / teach / scold me to keep me clear on my purpose in life. Isn't is amazing that what we read in this "old book" is still so true today?

2.) Knitting. I learned to knit whilst in graduate school and had four teen-agers at home. Drinking heavily or learning to knitting were the choices. I took knitting (okay, I could drink and drive; I can knit and drive -- at stop signs or in traffic jams) and have kept on since then. If I am sitting, standing in line, or at the movies, I am knitting.

3.) Journal. This was something I started when going through a tough time in my life. I went to see a psychologist. We talked a bit and she made the observation: "You can pay me $160 an hour or go home and write it all down." On the way home I bought a pretty journal and cartridge ink pen. In a little over ten years I have filled 30 journals.

4.) Hair pick. Yeppers. I know. That is a weird one, but I haven't combed my hair since 1972. I use a pick, thus giving me less split ends and fluffier hair. The thought of a brush makes my skin crawl. Maybe I need to see the therapist again?

5.) Carhart bibs. Love 'em, love 'em, love 'em, especially at this time of year. I wear insulated in winter and noninsulated in summer. They are red, my favorite colour, next to purple. The perfect pants for any woman who works in the yard or hauls hay.

So, what five things can you not do without?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Love / Hate Relationship

One of the things I love most about teaching is seeing students succeed. One of the things I hate most about teaching is seeing students fail -- especially when they are their own worst enemy.

We are in final exam week and the penitent sinners are coming out of the woodwork. Never mind that emails have been sent, warning letters, and personal conversations have been completed. Never mind that the grades are online and are viewable at any time, day or night. Exam week is when that F becomes real and students begin to dread getting asked by their parents, "How'd you do?"

A few years ago I had a remarkable young man. Micah laid out. He missed tests. He came to class and slept. He was completely uninvolved. So, at mid-term it was obvious he was going to fail. There was no rescuing him. We had a little conversation that went a long the lines of, "drop the class; but if you want to prove to yourself that you can change, keep coming, take the tests, and show yourself that you can do it even if you don't earn a grade."

He never missed another class or assignment.

He retook the class and earned an A.

He transferred to Virginia Tech on a full scholarship and will be an accountant in May.

I am proud of him. I love him.

So, today, when I answer those emails of "Please, Ms. H, I HAVE to pass this class", I am remembering my little friend who nearly fell through the cracks. Tough love is tough. But it works.

Have I told you that I love teaching?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

First Day Musings


This Christmas season I have felt like a Grinch. I have not been sure as to why until I read Brenda's post this morning. She nailed it. I miss the simplicity of life that seems to be slipping through our fingertips more and more every moment.


As I read Brenda's post this morning, I remembered my own childhood and the loveliness of downtown Winston-Salem at Christmas. Winston-Salem has a deep, rich Moravin heritage. While I am Quaker (Greensboro is the home of one of the first Quaker communities and college), the Moravin traditions were very much a part of my Christmas celebrations. We always went to Old Salem for the Christmas lovefeast -- the sharing of bread and coffee along with the celebration of song and scripture remembering our Savior's birth. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the beeswax candles, wringed with red crepe paper to catch the wax, that we all held high at the end of the service, remembering the one great light of the world.


Today, I am far from any meeting and so, as Emily Dickinson, I keep my Sabbath at home. But I miss the service and I miss the simplicity of silent meeting. But even more, I miss the simplicity of knowing what I believe. The world is complex. We have so many things tugging at us, pulling us to give it immediate attention. We are compelled to be 'politically correct' instead of being true to ourselves. We are careful to not offend others by compromising even our greeting at this holiday season. "Happy holidays" does NOT trump "Merry Christmas."


Thursday, as Mother, Eleanor and I were making a last shopping trip to Winston-Salem, we walked past a very pleasant young man ringing his bell and joyously singing Christmas songs. I stopped and listened to him; Mother joined his singing. While it was just a moment in the day, it was probably one of the best. For just a moment we all remembered what the season was all about. It was magic.


So, this Christmas I want to celebrate peace, within and without. Less rushing, less shopping, less stuff. And, I plan to say, "Merry Christmas" every chance I get.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

An Open Letter to the "Media"

Dear Media,

I am breaking up with you. I know this comes as a shock, but you have finally betrayed my confidence one too many times. I know. You want to keep me aware of the many issues that fill our world, but your concept of the world and mine are very different.

Brace yourself. I do not care if Tiger Woods has night putted with every female caddy in North America. He plays golf for a living. I did not vote for him. He makes no decision that directly impacts my life for good or bad. He has made a gazillion dollars playing golf. That is all. He plays a game well. His choices are between him and his wife. Not me. I, take a breath, don't care. We have no commitment.

I know this comes as a shock to you since I have forgiven your previous transgressions: making Michael Jackson a freak (whether he was or not); dogging the wife of John Edwards or even that creepy Ted What's-His-Name; and we won't even discuss that horrible eighteen months that you haunted little Brittany Spears. Their personal life is not my business. I don't want to know.

What I do want to know is:

When will our men and women come home from Afghanistan and Iraq?
Is global warming really an issue?
What is working in the economy?
How can I lose twenty pounds in two days (oops, that one slipped in)?

I know you have promised to be dependable, but I feel that our trust is broken and can no longer be repaired. I hope you will be able to move on. I have.

Sincerely,

Matty

Friday, December 11, 2009

Surprise "Anne of Green Gables" Tea

Joshua, Corrie, Me, and Sara
There was no power on Whitetop Mountain today; the wind took 50 trees out along the main road, knocking out power to most of the area between us and the Tennessee border. However, it was a no-brainer today that we would have a surprise "Anne of Green Gables" tea party for Corrie and Joshua. Sara and I had planned it for a week and it is no small task to keep a secret from our Corrie. She has an uncanny knack for figuring out things.

However, this morning, she didn't know when her Mom told her they were playing dress-up and to get on her "Anne of Green Gables" dress just what was going to happen. Don and I scurried around this morning and baked cupcakes, sliced local cheese, brewed peppermint tea, and made a fresh fruit salad. We packed our 1950s picnic set, china plates and all, loaded the car and took off over the mountain.

The sun was brilliant as we wove our way up and over Mt. Rogers. It was such a lovely morning; the air was clear and we could see down into the valleys where the sunlight dappled the little farms tucked here and there in the bottom land.




When we arrived, Sara answered the door and I called out, "Excuse me; I am looking for Anne of Green Gables. I have a basket for her." Corrie ran and hid! She didn't recognize me as Miss Alice! Then, she realized who it was and scooted back to the living room and laughed and danced about us, clapping her hands and laughing!


As you can tell in the photo, the table is set and we had a lovely time! The woodstove was toasty warm in spite of the wind and cold without; we threw open the blinds and the sunshine streamed in, filling the room with the most wonderful light. No one noticed in the least the lack of electricity.


When the tea was over, we piled on the floor and played a "Tea Party Memory Game" that I found at Hallmark a few weeks ago. It is a memory game using tea cups, tea bags, cakes, and such. We had a ball trying to remember what was where!


What a grand way to spend a very cold morning! My Rx for those who are missing holiday spirit? Find a three and a six year old and have a tea party. You will be instantly cured!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ten Things About Me

Brenda is playing "tag" and I am going to join in! Ten things about me:

1.) I didn't go to college until I was 36 years old.

2.) Being a teacher was NOT a career goal; I wanted to be a writer's consultant and do research for writers.

3.) For our first Valentine's day, my husband gave me a Kawaski 500; yes, I am licensed to ride.

4.) I met Elvis! He walked by me on stage at a concert and said, "Hey, how ya doin'?" I nearly peed my pants!

5.) When I was 18, I streaked at the community college I was attending at the time.

6.) Nine-ball is the most perfect pool game; my first car was paid for from doing trick shots at the local pool hall and playing nine-ball.

7.) In 1994 I broke my neck by falling down a flight of steps at my college.

8.) If there was only one dessert left in the world, it should be an Paris brest' from a little bakery in Norfolk, Va.

9.) Louisa May Alcott is the world's most underrated author; I leave her lavendar every July.

10.) Socks are the most wonderful knitting project in the world. My first pair, however, were too short in the foot and the leg was too baggy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Check Your Mail!

allposters.com

All you hostess gift receipients! There is a little package that should be arriving on Wednesday (please, USPS).

The following assortment was selected from for your package:

White heart or white flower: vanilla
Cream heart or cream flower: lavendar
Fish: goat milk and honey

Each person received four guest soaps in a custom made origami box. I hope you enjoy your little goodie!

Hugs to you all for participating in our tea!

Monday, December 7, 2009

St. Nicholas' Birthday!

worldculturespictures.com
I love today! It is St. Nicholas' birthday. Diane and Sarah have a lovely post here. Be sure to linger over the photographs of the Dundee cakes! So lovely! I agree with Jane; they are too pretty to eat!
I love the story of St. Nick and how he loved others; it is such a sweet story! We try to start our decorating today and finish up the Sunday before Christmas. Since it is the end of the semester, it is tough to do it all at one time!
Progress today will be the roping, Moravin star (I am in North Carolina -- I think it is State law to have one up!), and bows on the roping. If I don't get a move on, it won't happen!
Happy birthday, St. Nick!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We Have Met the Enemy

cartoon from: Wikipedia.com
Did you see the news report about loneliness being contagious? Yeppers. It is. As I thought about it this week, I realize that what Grandmother said was true: "You are known by the company you keep." Of course, what she meant was that if you hang out with bums, you will be known as a bum. But, the truth is, behavior is contagious.

Have you ever noticed that if you hang out with folks who don't exercise, it is easier not to exercise? If you spend time with folks who shop till they drop, you most likely do, too? If you associate with those who sleep too much, there is a good chance you will, too? If we hang out with complainers, we complain. If our friends have half-full glasses, we have half-full glasses. They procrastinate; we procrastinate. Holey moley, it is an epidemic that leaves H1N1 looking like a featherweight at the heavy weight championship.

I've thought a great deal about this all week. And I have watched the people I spend a lot of time with. I don't like what I am learning about myself. This isn't to shift responsibility for my choices to another's shoulders. Certainly not. I am over 21 and certainly been around the block more than once, even if it was in a Datsun. No. Actually I am thinking about how, at my mid-life (I hate that term) that I am not who I thought I would be at this point in my life.

Wouldn't it be nice to have the chance to do live youth again with better common sense? But, isn't it wonderful that we have the choice to make better decisions from today onward? And, knowing that I am known by the company I keep, isn't it refreshing to know that I can choose to be known in spite of the company I keep? As Pogo said: "We have met the enemy and it is us." The choice is ours; what will we do with it?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What I Woke To This Morning


It is the first official snowfall of the season. To celebrate, we always watch The Snowman and have hot chocolate. If you haven't seen Raymond Brigg's book or the movie, you must find time! It is charming! I even show it to my classes the first snow day and bring hot cocoa for each class. I am quite the sucker for snow!

We are forecasted to have up to five inches! If so, there will be snow lanterns and snow people to share. Did I mention that I love snow??

Stay warm and do something wonderful today!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Do You Remember?

This?

Here it is now:


Ignore the bad hair; I know I combed it. Yesterday??

Isn't it lovely? Am I glad it is done? Yes. Will I miss it. Yes!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Five Things That Made Me Smile Today

5. Driving past a very tiny house with two very tiny children out front rearranging the Nativity scene. I think Jesus got put on the sheep, but I am not sure.

4. The sweet little gal in reindeer antlers, shorts with suspenders, who waited on me at Build a Bear. Thanks for the wonderful service, Denay, and for keeping me favorite Aunt.

3. Being kissed very hard on the cheek by a very grateful student when I finished her financial aid form. This is why I do what I do.

2. Snowmen doughnuts at Krispie Kreme. And they were hot.

And, the number one thing that made me smile:

1. Getting an unexpected package from a dear friend filled with a delicious assortment of cookies! Thank you, Jane!

Did you smile today?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why I Am A Vegetarian



Mother's Thanksgiving turkey, shot on the farm with a 50-caliber muzzle loader, skinned and roasted.

Aren't you glad I waited until you were done with leftovers??

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

And I Thought Teenagers Were Bad...

All the girls are in season. This means they are wanting to get married. Just as human females, so it seems to go in the goat world. Every single one, except the two little hussies who managed to get out with their boyfriend in August, are in heat. They are worse than a bunch of 16-year-old girls looking for a prom date.

Tonight was the night of all nights. I went to feed, only to find Lucy, yes, dear understated Lucy, pressed, no, actually, lunging through the fence talking to the boys. And the boys? They were all lined up, talking back. The ducks, in utter shock, were lined up behind Lucy, watching. It was an unbelievable sight. Her tail twitched erratically back and forth. She looed. She cooed. She swung her hips in a most suggestive manner. The boys responded just as any teenaged boys would. They looed, cooed, and swung their hindquarters; then, they peed on their faces.

I was shocked. Dismayed. Aghast. Amused.

Then the fight broke out. Clara slammed Lucy. Lucy shoved Clarice. Clarice head butted Mia. Mia scrambled, but Mary plunged into her from the right side. Anabell slung her horns into anyone or anything close by. The boys continued to pee on their faces.

Surely, I thought, getting them one-by-one into the milking parlor would stop the fight. Surely the sight of sweet feed would stop the silliness. Nopers. Only the boys were interested in hay or food. As Don observed, even in goats food trumps girls nearly every time. By the time the milking was done, I was worn out.

And the girls?

At last check they were still rumbling in the loafing yard. Boy, I wish I had teenagers again.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Principles??

Today I taught Henry Thoreau's "Life Without Principles" to my sophomore college English students and the response was very interesting. For those who haven't read it or aren't interested in finding it to read, the premise of the essay is that we make the choices of how we spend our lives --- for things or for values. Thoreau argues that we should make a life and not just a living. He states that we should never compromise our values for stuff. What a timely essay to read right after Thanksgiving, don't you think? Cunning plan, wasn't it?

The first thing asked of each class was how many folks had a cell phone. Everyone raised their hand. They wrote down the total cost for their service and then had to divide it by their hourly wage. Or, if they didn't work, they were to use the state minimum wage. Then, they had to do the same with their car, insurance, and gasoline. There were a lot of gasps!

Next, they wrote down how much time they spend per week in class and multiplied it the same way, by the hourly wage, and then times four for the entire month.

Now, I posed, the first total figure is a debit. You spend it and never get anything back for it. When you use it, it is gone. Now, look at the education column; it is a credit. I asked: Does it go away when you are done? Which is the better value? More gasps.

Lastly, they had to write a journal entry of how they would rather spend their time instead of working for things. There was a lot of silence and thinking going on; I had to wonder how many went home to share this new concept with their parents.

Before you think I am brilliant, let me share that I did it, too. I wrote down my numbers and was quite surprised that, confidentially, I am making some pretty suspect choices myself. In fact, I had a hard talk with myself on the way home. I hope I was listening!

While the students may not remember a lot about American Literature, I suspect that this is a lesson that may just stay with them. And, perhaps, they will be happier than most. I hope.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Day Thoughts

allposters.com

This morning on Meet the Press the theme was on giving. Brenda has been writing a series of thoughtful posts on the ways and means of giving and helping others. It has reminded me of a time in my life when very little was a lot.

Twenty years ago, my family found itself without job or home. We had been through some very difficult family times and ended up losing a business and three homes (mine, my previous husband's (God rest his soul), and our beach house) as well as 10 acres of undeveloped land. He had lost his pharmacist license and we had four children to feed and clothe.

On faith, we had moved to another state to begin again. He was unable to work, so I had three part-time jobs and had returned to college as I believed I would have to become the major bread winner for our family. It wasn't easy. We lived in 900 square feet; we stood in free food lines; we had food stamps; the children and I collected firewood in our little wagon every day. Yet, we were happy because we made up our mind that we would make it an adventure for the children and never let them know how tough it really was.

For that Christmas I had $30 to spend for all the children's Christmas. Now, in 1988 $30 still wasn't a lot of money, so I had to be very creative. I shopped yard sales and thrift stores. I made little doll outfits and matching dresses for the girls. I made the boy's shirts and quilts. While we didn't have much money, the spread looked impressive because each piece was wrapped, regardless of how tiny it was.

The night before Christmas we went to a beautiful love feast at the Moravin church. We walked home because we didn't have enough gas money to ride. It was magic -- as Brenda says -- Narnia magic. We lit a fire, made hot cocoa, and read "The Night Before Christmas" and then everyone went to bed to wait for Santa.

The next morning there were squeals and giggles as each child opened presents and shared it with their siblings. No one was disappointed. No one cried. No one fussed. It was a lovely day. The best we ever had, I dare say.

Those days are long gone; yet, the warmth of that day still fills my eyes with tears. The simplicity of that day will never be matched by huge shopping trips or over the top decorations. It was the simplicity of knowing, truly knowing, that the Baby came so that we might live forever with our Father. It was the simplicity of laughter and hot cocoa in front of a fire we had built with our own hands. It was the joy of gifts lovingly made and the choice of joy over defeat.

As you begin your holiday planning, won't you think a few minutes about others and share a little of what you have with them? It needn't be much; even a smile is a gift that lasts. Rick Warren said in his interview this morning that the gift of time was the best we could give. Share that with someone who needs it without thinking of what you might get in return. Knit hats, tie quilts, bake a goodie, serve in a community event, give away what you most want. You will find that you are blessed in ways you cannot imagine.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Countdown!

picutre: allposters.com

Let the games begin!

While my Mother and Sissie are out doing the Black Friday game, I am home beginning the second day of our Christmas tradition -- watching a Christmas movie a day.

There are only two rules: we start with Miracle on 34th Street on Thanksgiving night and end with White Christmas on Christmas Eve. It is a perfect way to begin our holidays.

Last night, we started with Miracle on 34th Street; John made the most wonderful hot chocolate with crushed peppermint and Don made popcorn with just the right amount of butter. We all took our showers, got in our jammies, and settled down for day one.

Like I said, life is good, ya'll.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Day Before...


Thanksgiving and I am probably the calmest person you know. Why? I let VISA do the cooking. We are going to my parent's home for Thanksgiving. My Sissie is responsible for the salad. Mother and Daddy are responsible for bread, pies, and the wild turkey shot on their farm by a friend. Me? I am responsible for the wine-glazed Smithfield ham. It was ordered last week, arrived at Mother and Daddy's yesterday, and, if we can keep Daddy out of it, the ham will be the centerpiece of the meal. Yum.

Daddy had many health challenges this year and has decided that he might be having his last holidays. Just so you know, we don't believe it. Twenty-five years ago he was told to go home and make his arrangements. He outlived that doctor and two since. So, when he says, "Well, for this last ..." We all roll our eyes and fix his favorite foods.

Mother, on the other hand, is doing her "momma sigh" (you have to have heard it to know it) and fussing, "Why do you all pamper your Daddy? He is so spoiled. I just don't understand it." At which point one of us usually puts our arms around her and whispers, "You're spoiled, too, by the way. You aren't cooking!" And everyone laughs at the joke because she does cook even if we are all bringing 39 dishes of food. That's just Mother.

So, today, I am playing house. I am NOT rushing around cooking; I am NOT rushing to the grocery store: I am NOT washing 9000 dirty pots, pans, and bowls. I AM playing with my toys --- weaving and cleaning my loom room.

I have so much to be thankful for; I can't just list one thing. Life is good, ya'll.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dear Victoria:

How wonderful you have found a new pet in Brenda! I think you are very beautiful. I know your pet will be as good to you as mine is to me. But, since you are new to her home, let me share a few tips I have learned over the years:

1. Be sure to ask for food often.
2. Smack your human in the face while she is sleeping if she doesn't get you the food the first time you ask.
3. Always sit on the side of the tub. It makes the human nervous.
4. Pretend you are angry with your human often. It makes them pet you more.
5. Walk on the table. You will get picked up and held which is, after all, what all kitties deserve. Never walk!
6. Refuse to move when your pet wants to get up from a chair, hold another human, read a book or go to the bathroom. See number five.
7. Throw up hairballs as company comes in the door. This makes the human look silly and as if they don't give you hairball medicine. Embarrassment results in more holding.
8. Pull all the human's clothing on the floor and sleep on them. It will encourage them to put them away more quickly.
9. Sneak food from the owner's countertops. It teaches them responsibility in putting things away more quickly. See number eight.
And....

10. Purr. When all else fails, regardless of how much you may have misbehaved, purring will trump angry every time.

Your Kindred Spirit,


Wookie

First day thoughts

Quakers call today "first day" as it is the first day of the week. As I sit here in the living room with a cat between me and the computer, the sun dappling the floor and a lovely fire, I am touched by the kindness I see in the world and stunned by the cruelty and inhumanity there is as well.

Someone set a boxer out near my mother's home. The dear little thing waits every day for its owner to return. He watches every car, rises to meet it, and is visibly hurt when the car passes by. Mother has tried repeatedly to catch the fella; he can come live with us if and when he is caught. I have a thing for harboring the lost and abandoned. In frustration, Mother wrote the local paper a letter about the dog and the abandonment. We all understand that these are difficult times financially. A boxer isn't cheap to feed. But, to abandon the little guy is cruel. It makes me want to weep.

However, after Mother's letter was in the paper on Friday, she has found folks trying to round up the dog as well as people who have left a total of 40 pounds of dog food on the side of the road for him. This is the kindness that surprises and pleases me. There are kind people in the world.

These are the same people who, after a mother in Fayetteville is arrested for selling her own five year old daughter for sex slavery and the child is found dead a short time later, show up at a parking lot to pray for not only the child, but the murderer and family, including the mother. These are the people who are quiet and unassuming; people who care for others. People who live what they believe. No judgement. Just love.

This morning I am wishing that the news was all good and we just ignored the bad for one day. I wish I were leaving my son a kinder, gentler world.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tea for Two


Good morning, sunbeams! So glad you dropped by for a little tea and conversation! Here is my little feast: a fine cup of tea and homemade pumpkin scone with Amish butter. Yum!

This morning I want to tell each of you how much you have come to mean to me. I've only been blogging for a few months; I have lurked at a number of blogs, but it wasn't until September that I took the plunge. You all have made me feel so welcome! Thank you!

Will you take a few minutes to post and then link to your blog? If you have a picture of your tea party, won't you share it there?

Have a glorious day!

Warmly,

Matty

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's a Tea Party! Y'all Come!

all posters.com

You are cordially invited


to a virtual tea party


at the Lazy Bee Farm


on Saturday, November 21, at 10 a.m., EST.


Okay, it is a little strange, I know. We will be celebrating the joy of female friends, blog or near, and the beauty of friends we may never meet in person but are kindred spirits just as surely as if we were neighbors.


The premise is simple. Please make yourself a lovely cup of your favorite tea and a pretty plate with your favorite tea goodies. Then, won't you leave a post here at Lazy Bee Farm sharing your joy of friendship for our many friends?


A little hostess gift (some handmade goat's milk soap in guest soap size) will be sent to the first ten ladies who post during the day on Saturday.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No? Well, maybe...

Learning to say "no" has been the most challenging task of my life. By nature I love to say "yes!"

"Can you make 10,000 cupcakes by tomorrow morning?" Never mind that it is 9 p.m. and I have nothing in the house except crackers. I can do it! "Sure!"

"Can you take me to the doctor, mall, and phone company after you work Tuesday morning?" Let's see. I work in another state. You are one hour away. The doctor, mall and phone company are two hours from you. "No problem!"

"Can you bring me (fill in the blank)??" Let's not speak of the fact that it is 10 p.m. and I have been in bed for an hour. I can surely find a pair of pants and shoes in a few minutes and be right there. "Certainly."

You see the problem. With all this "yes" stuff going on, I can't find time to do the things I really want to do. And, what I really want to do is be at Lazy Bee Farm playing with my toys -- goats, roving, knitting, books, soap -- you get the idea.

So why is it that saying "no" makes my brain ache?

This week I have hit the wall of saying "yes" to everything. I have grown frustrated and annoyed with all the demands on my time that are not necessarily top priority to me. I really want to say NO and not feel mean about it.

The Dali Lama wrote in the Art of Happiness that the most compassionate act one can often make is to say no and let the individual deal with their own fall out. I really want to be compassionate. I really want to pick and choose my daily commitments. I really want to not have to eat a Tums when the phone rings.

So, how do I do this? Ideas?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do you read and write??

One of the best things in my day is just before I turn out the lights. Although I teach English and have tons of reading and evaluating to do, it is the time I get to spend with my night-night book that makes my day complete. Sometimes I am so tired that I can barely get into the bed before my glasses are off and I am snuggled down with Wookie, my enormous Maine Coon cat (he hogs the covers, btw). But I always manage to read at least a paragraph of the latest treasure before I fall off to sleep.

This week I am reading the most wonderful little book: "Notes from Myself" by Anne Hazard Aldrich. This delightful book reveals not only how many forms a journal might take, but also fascinating stories of other journalists. I have enjoyed the book so much that I am revising my American Literature assignments for the next few weeks to include a journal component. I have kept a journal for more than 15 years without fail. It has saved my life and my sanity. It is a record of who I was and who I have become. It is my dear friend, just as Anne Frank's journal "Kitty." How would I ever live without my little journal? I just don't know.

We will be reading Henry Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Emily Dickinson, amongst others over the next few weeks. We have just finished Waldo Emerson. Each of these were unquenchable journalists and this is certainly evident in their various works. I want my students to see how keeping a journals isn't a chore; it is a pleasure. So, they are to decorate a journal over the weekend to make it "theirs" for the project. We are going to explore our literature through the journals, but not in the form of reflective writings. Rather, we are going to write about our own lives in connection or contrast to the works we are reading. While I do not plan on evaluating the journal writings, a final essay will come from the project reflecting on the writing process and what they learned along the way. Hopefully, a few will remain journalists!

I hope it will be fun and interesting for the class. I am going to do it, too, to see if it is as useful as I anticipate. And, I think it is important to model for them. We must be with our students in this process, not separate. Possibly it will inspire dialogue as well as build relationships in the class.

What are you reading these days? Do you keep a night-night book? Do you journal??

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rain, rain, go away!

Noah lived with rain for forty days and nights. It feels that way here at Lazy Bee Farm today. We have had so much rain that the does are cross. The chickens, while in their snug coop with a heat light, are fussing. Moose and Annabell are on the porch, leaving to chase the occasional car or truck. Don and I weren't sure we could even get out of the holler to get to the hard top. In short, the ducks are the only folks happy.

Rainy days make me think about when I was a small girl. Mother always worked the 3-11 shift at Baptist Hospital and Daddy worked down on Cherry Street from 8-5. Mrs. Tucker, our next door neighbor, always kept us between school and Daddy coming home because Mother had to leave to walk to work at 2:00. Rainy days were so much fun at Mrs. Tucker's because, well, it wasn't home!

Mrs. Tucker was a round little lady, just about my height when I was seven years old. She always wore an apron and seemed to be in perpetual motion either cooking, making those wonderful trapunto pictures of deer or some other outdoor scene, or smocking. Mr. Tucker was a police officer, but he was usually home by the time we came from school. He'd be in the basement either doing some kind of woodwork or playing, er, working on his train set.

The train set was wonderful! It filled the entire front half of the basement. Villages, trees, tunnels, roads, and even a postman filled the scene where the train would fly past on its way around the huge train board. Mr. Tucker was always doing something on the scene -- adding a tree or rearranging a town or painting something a newer, brighter colour. I could stand and watch him for hours!

But is one particular rainy day that really sticks out to me.

Mrs. Tucker had taken in sewing and worked to save enough money to get her entire living room recarpeted. The day finally came when she had the new carpet laid. Oh my goodness, it was the prettiest thing I had ever seen. The creme background accented the lovely roses that were strewn about the carpet. Ranging from a pastel pink to a deep blush, the roses were in full or partial bloom. Some were fully coloured, but others were only outlined. In my mind, it was a shame that all the roses were not fully coloured.

Poor Mrs. Tucker; she couldn't afford to have the full colour, I decided. As I sat with my marker set colouring, I kept pondering those roses. They just didn't look right. I studied the colours in my set and figured out that if I were to mix the red with the white, I could come close to the same rose on the carpet. I even tried a sample on a piece of paper to be sure that it would work. It did.

I slipped between the sofa and the coffee table and selected the first rose to be finished. I was thrilled to think that I could surprise Mrs. Tucker with such a perfect gift. I loved her so and wanted to make her carpet complete. I settled on my rose and begain to colour. It was just right! I moved on to the next one. Another perfect rose! By the time I was on my fifth rose, Mrs. Tucker came to see what I was doing.

Expecting her to be pleased, I jumped up and shouted, "Surprise!"

She was.

She didn't yell. She didn't cry. She stood there, looking at the floor, the marker and me. Finally, she took a very deep breath and whispered, "Sit in the chair by the door and wait on your Daddy." Then she turned around and went to the kitchen to get a rag and something to scrub the floor. Nothing would take the full marker out. I guess it was there until she died or replaced the rug.

But, I do remember this. When Daddy got there, it was raining. Mrs. Tucker took him on the porch, told him what happened, and then came back in the house. You have had to have experienced the fear that comes from facing a 6-foot 4-inch man who has worked all day and is tired and hungry to understand how I felt. Total fear. He lifted me up, Mrs. Tucker patted my back, and Daddy carried me home. I was certain I was going to die. But, all he did was tell me, "Never use markers on anything but paper again." No yelling, no spanking. Just a simple warning.

That's my Daddy. A huge man with a huge heart and a huge temper when provoked. Veteran. Gentleman. Loving. Understanding. Could anyone hope for more?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This and That

It's a rainy, cold Tuesday here at Lazy Bee Farm. We have a small fire going and coffee on the counter brewing. It should warm us up pretty quickly, don't you think?

A lot has been going on here this week, so how about a quick run through with a promise for more details later this week?

1) Evelyn, Deniece and I went to a 250-year old farm on Saturday to help the current owner (the farm has been in the family since the early 1700s) dress her loom which was built in the room in which it is housed. Five hours and three weavers later, we had lift off and a header was started on the rug Ida will make on her four-great-grandmother's loom. Yum.

2) Shelly and I attended a wonderful session last night for the New River Organic Grower's organization. We learned about the benefits of the organization (they have a marketer!) as well as a variety of opportunities, including a consumer supported agriculture program as well as farmer's market and wholesale information. Fascinating!

3) Mid-term has come and I am more behind than ever. I really need a wife.

4) Omission of information is the same as a lie, especially when it impacts another person. Period.

5) Under the steps is cleared out and the storage building is all purple and getting more and more full of stuff (such as from under the steps). Did you know that it is possible to have 50 paint stirrer sticks?

6) My pants are looser; Valerie is pleased; I am, too!

7) Sissie and I are neck-and-neck in the savings war. However, I have a secret weapon.

8) It is three pay-days until Christmas.

9) I haven't knit in four days. My hands are sad.

And...

10) Chocolate-peppermint icing is really good on cherry cake.

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Twilight


This is the view from the front porch of Lazy Bee Farm just at twilight.... the most perfect time of day. Tonight, as I came in from milking, both guys were gone and I could linger and watch the night come on. The crisp air was broken by the kiss-kiss of one of the cardinal pairs we have living in the woods just behind the house. I adore hearing them call, sounding as if they are tossing kisses to each other.

The chickens had put themselves to bed and were singing their night time song. It is a cross between a hum and a whisper and makes me smile to myself when I hear it. They sound so content! The goats baaad in unison as they began their stroll to the shelter in their pasture. With the nights getting colder, they are due to move to the stable again this weekend. The cow began her night time chat with our neighbor's cows -- mowing back and forth until they have caught up on the news along the creek -- and then they tuck in for the night.

The world takes a deep breath, holds it, and lets it out again.

Twilight.

The dogs are restless. The coyotes are howling and Annabell, the Pyrennes, responds, as if to warn them that she will not tolerate any foolishness on her farm. The baying stops and the coyotes are heard again, this time farther over the ridge, most likely sizing up my neighbor's fall calves. I listen and hope they are not hungry nor prowling tonight.

Waldo winds around my legs as if to encourage me to pick him up for a kitty kiss. I oblige and he rewards me with a sweet purr and a second kiss to my nose before he leaps to the ground to begin his nightly hunt for mice. Lydia stops for a second for a pat and then (yes, he) joins Waldo in the quest for unsuspecting mice or moles. I know that in the morning I will have to watch carefully when I open the back door for breakfast. No doubt, there will be a fine display for my "eating" pleasure.



And then, as I turned to survey the ridge one more time, the moon burst from behind the mountains, lighting the ridge as if it is a giant spotlight. It takes my breath, which is now tiny white wisps, as it is so unexpected and so beautiful.

Moose speaks to me, "rararrraw" which means, "Hurry up, woman, dinner time." Taking a last glance at the moon, I pick up the egg and the milk buckets and slowly, deliciously, stroll to the back door and back into the harsh house lights. The spell is broken, but the memory remains.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yes, yes, yes

I just finished reading Michelle's blog here. Yes, Yes, Yes! She is writing about the fact that she is "done" with consumer pressure! If you have read me for long, you know that this is one of the things that I struggling with in my own life. I am sick of stuff. I feel as though I am smothering in stuff. And I want it gone. But, Michelle made a statement in her entry that really struck home:

"I don't want my money to support that economy of make it in one country and ship it thousands of miles to me, while my friends and neighbors struggle and lose their jobs here at home."

What would happen if we all stopped, just stopped, buying anything that was manufactured overseas? This, to me, is the one thing that would solve our economic woes more than any stimulus monies. So many of us are already reusing and repurposing goods in our lives, so why not just stop buying those things made overseas? I know there are things that we feel we cannot do without that come from overseas, but really, couldn't we do without many of these items?

Michelle has relit the fire in me. I'd love a national movement to begin with just you and me. I'd love to see each of us encourage others to stop the madness of buying things we really don't need or will have to replace in a year because the quality is so poor. We used to teach our children to say "NO to drugs." What if we said "NO to imports"?

What do you think? Is it possible to make the change? Can it start with one person??

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ouch! Or the Perils of Cow Ownership

After four hours in the ER tonight, I have come home with very sore fingers on my left hand, but nothing is broken. This has been the day that was....

While I was putting out hay tonight, Copper, the six-month-old Dexter calf, slammed his stall door open which flung it around to the hay stall, catching two of my fingers between the his door and the metal strip on the hay stall door. The resulting scream could be heard to town. Long story short, while I initially thought I may have lost the tips of two fingers, when my leather glove was finally removed, the very deep black lines on my third and fourth fingers suggested possible break(s).

Since I was getting ready to milk, there was ice in the large bucket where I put my milk pail to keep the milk cold. John grabbed some, wrapped it in my jeans shirt, Don ran for keys, and off he and I went to the ER.... where we sat for four hours.

On the way to the hospital, we met a truck which flung a large rock at my windshield. It has a crack the size of a nickel. Fortunately, it didn't break. Sigh.

However, a very interesting thing happened in the ER. Five young people, most likely all between 18-20, were there. As we sat in the waiting room, their story unfolded.

Two of the young men had rolled their car down the mountainside after meeting a schoolbus that was more in the wrong lane than the right. The bus left the accident, but the young men, both apparently injured, managed to crawl from the car and get someone to stop and take them to the hospital. The people in the lobby were family and wives.

While neither young man appeared seriously hurt, the police were also apparently giving them, as we say here, down the road about the accident. The men declared they were not speeding and the officer agreed. However, he seemed determined to find some charge for them. Nothing was working. Now, here is the interesting and very encouraging thing. None of the young people swore, yelled, or behaved in anything other than a Christian manner. They were polite and courteous; they were concerned; they were supportive. However, no one raised their voice or behaved in any manner that would call attention to them. They were concerned about their family member /friends, but were not intrusive to the hospital staff or others waiting. In short, they were not the usual young people I often see. Refreshing!

On the way home, Don and I were discussing how they behaved in the waiting room and we have decided that maybe we do have hope in the up and coming generation. It was almost worth having my windshield broken and very sore fingers to make this discovery. Almost.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Savings War!

Several weeks ago my Sissie and I declared a savings war. The rules are simple: 1) Save as much as you can everywhere; and 2) Be sure to brag to Sissie (or Cissie -- she's one and I am the other). And so it began!

The first shot fired was the purchase of the kitchen cabinets. Combining a store sale, manufacturer's credit, and a weekend double bonus, the purchase was parlayed into more than $850 savings, dropping the price from more than $4000 to almost $3000!

The return fire was a major clothing shopping purchase for two growing boys which netted more than $175 in savings from a major clothing chain. The purchase included six pairs of pants, twelve shirts, socks and underwear.

Not to be outdown, the battle moved to a new venue -- the grocery store. Here the battle became a matter of stategy and good planning. E-coupons were discovered as well Crystal and Lisa's websites. Both are huge resources for coupons as well as scenerios for savings. While many of the stores are not in my region, the scenerios for the stores mentioned can work for other stores.

While I do not have the largest grocery budget, since my son is home until February, it has doubled. (The kid can eat!) Plus, I am building one heck of a pantry filled with staples. I really dislike carrying in heavy groceries in the winter, so this has been a way for me to stockpile those things I don't care to shop for in rain or snow (bags of flour or toilet paper, for example). Every week, Sissie and I call each other to tout our latest coup at the grocer's. This week mine was six Pillsbury biscuits for 20-cents a can. Last week it was Suave shampoo, 38-cents each, with a limit of 4.

To be completely successful, we have both returned to menu planning rather than the dreaded, "What will we have for supper?" approach. We are both finding less leftovers as well as better use of our resources. Frankly, I am finding this exciting! For menu ideas we are taking inspiration from Laura or Melissa. Another inspirational post came from Jane yesterday! There is no end to the wonderful sources!

What lead to all this thriftiness? Well, it is several things. One, the Commonwealth is experiencing yet another budget shortfall and voluntary retirements are being offered. While Don qualifies in spades, I don't. Realizing that this is an option, we are trying to cut our expenses and pay off the two remaining debts we have. Every penny saved is being thrown onto these two bills to get the balances down as quickly as possible. Two, we want to farm full-time. There are so many things we both like to do here, but we need capital to start a few of these ventures. This is a way to accomplish that. And, three, who can let their sister beat them at anything!?? *grin*

What money saving ideas do you have?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We Made Up

After my shameful temper tantrum yesterday morning, I packed up, went to Mother's for the day (she was 75 yesterday!), planted bulbs for her, and then came home and picked up the prayer shawl pattern, needles, and yarn and started again.

I am far past where I was when the unfortunate fire incident, er, happened. Why was this so tough? I can't imagine now; it has just flown off the needles this time. Maybe my head is more into it or perhaps I am now familiar enough with the pattern that it works easily. Either way, I am into the third pattern repeat and clicking right along.

This is rather emblematic of life, isn't it? We attempt something, say learning a new skill, and we fail miserably. Now we have two choices. Try again or quit. Many times we choose to quit just because "it's hard." Yet, isn't there a wonderful satisfaction when we accomplish that difficult task?

Math was always a trial for me. It started in fifth grade when the boy next to me whispered to me when I earned an "A" on a test, "That's okay; girls can't do hard Math." That was it. I couldn't after that. I bought the lie and ran with it. So, now I am enrolled in a developmental Math class and am determined to overcome my Math phobia. It is hard, make no mistake. But, I am learning it and I am very proud of myself.

Knitting was the same way. I first wanted to learn when I was expecting John. A very lovely lady whose sister was at our nursing home tried for three months to teach me. Mrs. Sheel would have me to her house, come to the home, and meet me for lunch, all to encourage me. After three months I had twelve rows of a baby sweater that had six very decorative holes in it from dropped stitches. I put it down and didn't pick it up again until I was in graduate school and had four teenagers in my care. It was knit or drink. I couldn't drink and drive, so I learned to knit. My friend Jill came over on a Sunday afternoon and we sat on a quilt under the pear tree in the back yard. After ten minutes of watching her, I had it and off I went. That was more than 15 years ago and I have never been without a project on my needles.

This is all to say that maybe we give up too soon. Or, maybe we have to be ready to learn before we can. I guess, for me, the lesson is to never give up even when I really want to find the matches and remove the challenge in a more creative way. But, as I knit along on the shawl, I realize that the anxiety and frustration is worth it. I only hope that my life will be as lovely as the shawl I hold.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

RIP




I feel better. We now resume our regular knitting.

Matches, please

See this??

It is the Prayer Shawl pattern from Debbie Macomber's latest "Yarn Shop on Blossom Street" novel. Valerie wanted to knit one for her m0ther-in-law and I agreed to a knit along for moral support. Yes, she manages to get me into a lot of scrapes...

I have reknit the same row for an hour now and the pattern is NOT working out. Now, I am a fine knitter, quite frankly. Very little challenges me to the point of crying. This has.

So I have decided to set fire to it in the front yard.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bathe with Goats and Bees!

One of the lovely things about our farm is the fact that we have ready access to many things that make life just perfect! Two of these are goat's milk and honey. My son drinks the two combined, but me? I just want to bathe in it!

This is how we start: castile soap which has cured for two months, cinnamon, and a mold. My son and I made the castile soap several months ago so that it could cure and be just for the second part of our French milled soap process. The honey isn't shown here. Don't you love the little bee mold? Just perfect for "Lazy Bee Farm"!


Here we have the melted castile soap. It was grated down very finely and added to the goat's milk to melt. Very little stirring is done at this point. We wouldn't want to have a lot of suds! To melt the soap and combine the milk, we use a double boiler system. It takes a lot longer, but is a lot safer for someone like me who thinks that burned green beans (just a tad scorched) improves their flavor. I just love the colour of the castile soap and goat's milk! It is very soft gold at this point. Beautiful! This is when we add honey and cinnamon. Can't you just smell it!?

Viola! This is the soap after it has been frozen for an hour and is ready to cut and put on drying racks. The soap cures for another few weeks and is then packaged and ready to either sell or for the tub.

I just love making the soap! It is such an interesting process and makes the house smell heavenly! We have made clove (good for skin circulation), sage (excellent for rashes and skin disorders), cinnamon (soothes the skin), lavendar (can you say, ahhhhh?) and honey (plumps the skin). These will be for sale in my etsy shop starting this weekend. Drop in and have a peek!

I'm off for a soak!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Welcome Back, Brenda!

So glad you are safely arrived home, Brenda! We have missed your wisdom and your gentleness! Rest and tell us all about your trip tomorrow, won't you?

Good Morning, Sunshine!


After four days of dreary weather, rain and snow, we are finally back to what should be fall weather -- sunshine and 60s! To celebrate, there will be some serious outside activities today. Those potatoes will be dug; the hostas will be divided; and, all the summer "stuff" will be stored. There are herbs to pick and put in the dehydrator. And, the does and bucks all have to be shifted to new pastures.

We are trying a new method of parasite management. Well, actually, it isn't that new. Our forefathers knew this; we just forgot. In the past, there was more than enough pastures for grazers. While they may have been contained in pastures, most farmers had just the right ratio of animals to land. These days, we don't. Animals are crowded into lots or pastures far too small for the numbers. This results in exposure to parasites and worms that animals just don't have the immune system to resist.

Charlie and Connor enjoy their new space!

So, this year, we are trying the co-pasturing theory. This means that we have cows and chickens alternating pastures with the goats. And, we have split the goats into two herds to reduce the number on a pasture. It is a lot of upfront expense. There has to be fencing as well as housing in each pasture. Rain is death to goats, so, they must have access to cover. We have accomplished this by creative pasturing, creating an alleyway to each paddock which has a very clever (I am not at all proud) house constructed of fence panels and tarp or a stand alone bulding, depending on the field. The alley can be manipulated to allow consistent access to the milking parlor. Pretty cool.

Hollie demands a "little more hay, please!"

It is working. Our gals are fatter and happier than ever. We are not dealing with parasite overrun which means that we are not using chemicals or herbs too frequently. All in all, we are quite pleased. And the gals are, too.

Added later: Yeppers. The barn is purple. All the out buildings are. The does wanted purple and they got it!