Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pigs and Cokes

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

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!

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


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.

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

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.



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!

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!
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:
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?


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.