Sunday, August 30, 2009

Remarkable Women

While on Friday I thought about the remarkable life of our friend Tasha Tudor, I also started thinking about all the remarkable women I have known. Did you?

First, there is my mother. Raised in a log cabin by parents who could neither read nor write, she defied her father and went to Charlotte (so far then!), worked at Our Sister's of Mercy Hospital and took three years of nurse's training. Every time the schedule of eight hours of work, eight of classes and eight for everything else got too much, my darling Grandmother would say to her, "Well, I am sure you can come to the factory to work. I'll speak to the Boss Man." Summer would come and Mother would work for the factory, pinning tags on socks. Her goal was a DOZEN GROSS a day. After three days, she was ready to return to school in August. She taught me to use all my silverware (she grew up with only a spoon), say, "yes, ma'am; yes, sir", and took me to church every time the door was opened. While I was an imperfect child and, to some degree, she was an imperfect mother, I always remember that we learned together to overcome those imperfections. She is my heroine.

Other remarkable women are:

My Grandmother Arrington (Mother's mother) who paired socks in a factory for 62 years, saved her money, praised God daily, and sang hymns when Grandpa made her angry. Her favorite? "When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there." Obviously she was counting on Grandpa NOT to be! She was pink and white and cuddly. A hug from her was like being wrapped in clouds and smelling Este Lauder to boot. She laughed easily and often and, even as she was dying, always had a dollar for my birthday always tucked in the special card just for me. I still miss her.

Grandmother Holder (Daddy's mother) kept children, gardened enough to feed her entire family and her neighbors, quilted until her dying day, and was, without a doubt, one of the meanest women I have ever known. But, perhaps, life made her mean, I don't know. But her talent to make life lovely in her own way makes her remarkable. She raised four children and all of them are wonderful, kind, and loving people. That alone is a remarkable legacy.

Ms. Evelyn taught me to weave and spin and was born in Wisconsin at a time when horse or train were the only modes of transportation. Evelyn has raised almonds in California, Arabians in Arizona, and learned the butcher trade in Virginia. Did I mention that she is a breast cancer survivor and is currently carrying her "pet" (an O2 tank) with her everywhere? And yet, she is a volunteer, works with numerous craft groups, and is a founding member of the "Round the Mountain" organization which is developing artist support in our region.

Miss Kathryn spent four years housebound with her husband as he was dying with COPD. She seldom left home for those years and few went to visit as her husband found any noise too upsetting. She taught herself to quilt (20 stitches to an inch! She counted and redid until it was just so), has gardens that rival the most professional, and can fire a gun so accurately that she has hit a target over 100 yards away right in the bull's eye. She once took a gun with us shopping in Winston-Salem. When I discovered the pistol in her bag, she quickly explained, "Well, you never know when you might need one."

Miss Madelyn is another remarkable woman who has only left our county twice, by ambulance and not at her request. She was a sharecropper's wife and still lives in a small, what most would call, shack that is wrapped in tar paper and has a tin roof. Yet, she laughs and sings and has a lovely vegetable garden that she shares with everyone who stops by. Her sense of humor and appreciation for the small things in life make her a ray of sunshine in life.

And last is Ms. Ruth who learned to paint at the tender age of 75. She is a sought after local artist, along the lines of Grandma Moses, and has enough work lined up that if she were to live to be 100, she would still be behind. Going to her house one finds candy in every dish and canvases drying in the front seat of her car (it is warmer there, she explains). She well remembers the time, when she had been diagnosed with diabetes at nine, that the entire church turned out to pray over her. She lay on the alter and people laid hands on her and prayed all day. When she returned to the doctor for a check up, her diabetes was gone and has stayed gone for more than 80 years. She sees angels and talks to the dead. Her house is never quiet or lonely for everyone loves "Ruth."

All these women are over 75 and all are remarkable for so many reasons. The one thing that strikes me is that each lived their bliss and their dreams. Each has a strong faith and each thinks of others. So this, my friends, is my question. Is a remarkable life, then, living OUR unique life and being pleased with it? What do you think?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Remembering Tasha

Tomorrow is Tasha Tudor's birthday; it is a day that will be, doubtless, a lovely day because so many of us will be remembering a special person and the influences of her life.

The year I turned 50 I gave myself (and my husband) tickets to her garden tour. It was a lovely May, but cool and damp. After reading everything about Tasha I could find, one sentence really stuck out to me: "Tasha doesn't understand why a woman would wear pants.... she prefers dresses...." The writer of the piece went on to discuss how Tasha thought women looked horrible in pants "completely unattractive" and how she really did encourage female visitors to wear one of the many dresses she had on hand.

With this in mind, I began to search for a lovely fabric from which to make a 19th century dress for myself. Finally, I found just the right thing -- a lovely floral entitled, appropriately enough, "The Secret Garden." I realized, too, that I would need a shawl and spent a great deal of time looking at Tasha's shawls. I could figure out the garter stitch, that was easy enough, but the edging was a trick. Then, I found Nancy Bush's "Tasha Shawl" here. Isn't it lovely??

I eagerly began work on the dress and shawl while preparing mid-terms and then finals. Graduation was May 11; my birthday AND the garden tour was May 13. As soon as the recessional played and the faculty and students were out of the auditorium, I ran to the car, pulling off my regalia as I hurried, jumped behind the wheel and off we flew! Vermont is more than 16 hours from where we work in Virginia, so we had to cover a lot of ground that night in order to get to Vermont and rest before the garden tour that Saturday.

We drove until we were exhausted, arose early the next morning, and fairly flew down the interstate, clicking off the states as quickly as a child slurps down a chocolate dipped ice cream cone. Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York.... We scurried along, making record time. That evening, we checked into the nearly abandoned ski lodge in Marlboro, VT, Tasha's hometown. The owners were lovely folks and offered advice on where to eat, how to drive the mountains, and watch for elk (honest, they really do cross the highways just as freely as the deer do here!), and how to get to Tasha's the next morning.

I could hardly sleep, I was so excited! Eagerly the next morning I rushed to put on my lovely dress. Rip!!! The zipper had ripped out! Somehow, I had missed backstitching the zipper and the thing had pulled out. Quickly, I hand stitched it back into place, smoothed my hair (it was short then -- a moment of weakness and I had cut it!) and slipped my "Tasha" shawl around my shoulders. On my feet? Why hiking boots, of course! I looked quite "pilgrim-y", Don said!

The ride to Tasha's was amazing. The mountains were a lovely green -- I now understand "the Green Mountains"... But, I was particularily struck by the huge sticks poked upright along the road's edge. Don and I debated what they could be there for when it hit us. The inn-keepers told us that they often had more than 300 inches of snow in a winter. The sticks marked the side of the road when the road wasn't to be seen!

We carefully nudged the Forester down a narrow drive and parked in a lot already filled with cars. There were about 16 of us there for the tour. Each of us was so excited and eager to see if life imitated art or vica versa. Amy and Winslow met us at the Rookery and outlined our day. The walking route, tour, and history of the home were given and we had a nice look around the shop. Then, out we went, over the stream, up hills, past the rocks where the Madonna holds her Babe at Christmas, and across the field where children frozen in time in Tasha's paintings surely had played. Then, there it was. The house.

We all paused and seemed to gasp simulataneously. It felt as if we had entered a sacred place, something not of this world. The peace, the quiet, the beauty,the barn, the goats, the gardens. It was all here. Because May had been so cool, very little of the garden was out, but it was just on the edge of spring. One could feel it. Any day the ground would erupt in colour and the golden yellow of the sun would be mimiced in the daffodils below. A gentle rain began to fall and I was grateful that I only knit wool. It repels water better than any slicker could. I was warm, dry, and completely happy.

In and round the gardens we walked, quietly, mediatively, looking for those familiar settings shared in books, pictures, articles, which we had all devoured for years. The greenhouse was filled with plants, blooming or just emerging or somewhere in between; daffies, still unopened, filled the yard and nodded in the wind and shower. The pond rippled as rain water danced on its surface.

"Surely, this is a another time and place," I thought. There wasn't even a contrail in the sky; it was as if time had slipped and we were no longer in our own time. It sounds trite, but it was magic.

Winslow and Amy led us around the garden and the house exterior, answering questions, talking about the barn, the house, the garden, the corgies, and anything else we had in mind. Then, they led us down a sloping path to Seth and Marjorie's home for tea. It was all there -- the special family tea mixture "Stillwater tea" along with various cakes, cookies, and breads. A wild flower bouquet, mostly long grasses and a few early flowers, filled one corner of the table and lovely linens, faded with use and time, set the stage for a truly genteel tea party.

We sat in small groups and discussed our passion and our interest in Tasha's life. Each of us had a favorite painting and each of us adored Tasha, or at least what we believed to be her.

When the tea was over, we walked past Seth's workshop and around to Winslow and Amy's house where we again were encouraged to explore the grounds. Don and I had a lovely conversation with Winslow about honey bees as he was thinking of starting beekeeping. Don and I enjoyed telling him about our farm and our life; we even shared a moment with a striking orange salamander!

Then, we were back at Tasha's for one more look before we headed to the Rookery for last minute shopping before leaving. We gathered in the barn, checking stalls and admiring Seth's fine wood working. Then, we heard a door close and a soft voice with a strong New England accent said, "Are they here?" Amy replied, "Yes, Granny. Do you wish to come out?" And then, standing in the barn, was Tasha!

She was gracious and cordial, asking questions, answering questions. She was the most generous hostess! There was something in the way she smiled and seemed amused and yet pleased with people coming to see her home and her gardens. She looked at my dress and shawl, asked if I had corgies, and talked a few minutes about what a fine animal the corgy was. Winslow called to us and asked that we join Tasha in the doorway for a group picture. Quickly, I sat on the ground at Tasha's feet. And, hanging on my stairwell, along with all the pictures or art from special trips, is a lovely photo of Tasha, hands folded along her stomach, looking down at me and my dress!

It was a day I will always remember for many reasons. But the one thing that I will always always always cherish is discovering that Tasha was just like all of us; she wanted to live her authentic life. And she did. Isn't that the best part of loving her life, her art, her books? Just knowing that each of us had a bit of heaven within us gives us hope that we can make our lives just as we wish them to be.

Happy birthday, Tasha.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why we lock our car doors in summer...

One of the wonderful things about reading blogs (where did that word come from??) is learning more about folks in different parts of the country or world. I am humbled by the quiet courage, the generousity, the kindnesses of people I have never met; I am amused by miscalcuations of a fellow knitter (which somehow makes me feel less dumb). However, the one thing that is evident to me in all the blogs I read is that no one is ever shy of zucchini.

What is it about that vegetable that makes it so hardy, so profuse? Is it actually a science experiment gone awry? Could it be alien food, planted here to drive us mad with it's prolific production? Just what is it about zucchini?

We live in the northwestern mountains, a place well known for self-sufficiency and nearly rabid independence. Everyone has a garden; we share seeds, plants, and receipts like proud grandparents show baby pictures. I have a friend who says if there is ever a nuclear war, she will walk the fifty miles to my house because she knows that I will have food -- even pickled beets.

So here we are, a few years ago, with nearly every farm, every yard, with a fully planted garden. And then the rains came. And the cool nights didn't leave. And, come July, no one had more than a few spindly tomato plants and rotten potatoes in the ground. But, we did have zucchini. Lots of zucchini. Truckloads of the green stuff. All sizes -- fingerlings, pan, palm, cricket bat and baseball bat size zucchini. We froze it. We made bread, pickles, relish. We grilled it. Some of us even dared to toss the larger ones in the compost. But the zucchini kept growing, kept emerging from the sparse vines like so many fleas on a stray dog.

And then it started.

You'd dash into the grocery store and come out to find a bag of zucchini on your car seat. Rush in to pay for gas and return to find a plastic grocery sack of zucchini on the back seat between the babies. Come home from church to find a brown sack of the stuff sitting by the front door -- no note -- just zucchini. Letters to the editor began to appear in the paper, pleading that the zucchini gifting stop. No avail. The stuff kept showing up. The local police got involved. Just so you know, North Carolina has no law on the books forbidding zucchini abandonment.

Neighbors began to shut their doors at night, locking them although we had never locked our doors before. People quit talking openly about their zucchini crop or any crop. To do so implied that YOU might be the zucchini culprit. No one was free from suspicion. Even the local ministers held an emergency meeting to solve the mystery, each vowing to announce from the pulpit that zucchini abandonment must stop.

No luck. The zucchinis kept showing up in the oddest places without a sign of who left them.

The zucchini debacle lasted until the first frost; after that, no one had to lock their car doors or keep someone at the house to watch for random drop-offs. We don't speak of it anymore; heck, it has been nearly ten years. But, let July come around and suddenly car doors are locked again in the supermarket and drugstore parking lots. We won't be fooled again.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday musings

After reading Brenda's blog here and her loss of a friend, I have started thinking about how we live our lives. I find that I often spend my time in "quiet desparation" as Thoreau wrote. The mundane seems to push me along rather than spending time doing those things I really love -- spending time with family, reading, knitting, spinning, weaving, or just day dreaming. In short, I am a Martha, caught up in the busyness of every day.

The past few weeks, several people we know, not close friends but acquaintances, have died or become seriously ill. All were in their 50s. This scares me to death (no pun intended!). I am not done with living. I am not done doing all the things I want to do! There are books to read, stories to tell, and projects of love that I want to complete. Why, then, do I (and I suspect most of us) spend time doing those things we don't like or want to do??

Last night, I took my blue enamel bucket, half-filled with water, and walked the farm and road with the dogs, collecting wild flowers. I spent a happy hour with the dogs and another half hour arranging flowers in various containers. When I was done, I placed each in a special place where I would see them -- the living room, bedroom, kitchen, dining table. It made me nearly giddy to see the little flower heads bobbing in the gentle breeze of the ceiling fan. And, this morning when I woke, there they were to greet me and say "Good morning." Love it!

All this is to say that today I have declared a cease work day. We are going to play in this house. I am not sure how or what, but we are going to do something we have a passion for and not do busywork. For me this could mean weaving off the scarf on the table loom or organizing my menus or writing in my journal or milling soap or organizing school work. For Don it could mean working in his studio or "watching" TV (through closed eyelids -- I don't understand this mystery). I will make bread and a picnic lunch. We have 30 acres so surely there is a lovely place to picnic -- even the porch will do. And we will take time to dream.

Have a peaceful Sunday, won't you?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How do you measure??

I teach English. As such, I only had to have three hours of Math credit, which I managed, through some kind of major miracle along the lines of loaves and fishes, to challenge and pass by one point. So, my last Math class of any kind was more that 35 years ago in high school. Heck, my gradebook is even set up on the computer with a formula that the Math instructor on campus sets up for me in exchange for a pair of handknit socks every year. It is worth it. I break out in hives if I have to balance my checkbook.

So, it should come as no surprise that today has been the challenge of the tape measure. Being home this weekend is a treat before the first "official" day of classes on Monday. As such, I try to always have the weekend 'before' free to do those things that nurture my soul and spirit.

So, today I have nested all day. This meant that I set myself a number of weekend goals, including clearing up things that stacked up during my Concord trip. While John and Don kept everything alive and the trash from blocking the doors, there are things that only Mums do. Things like clean the porch or hang new curtains. However, these are jobs that are near the bottom of my pleasure list. So, I decided to play a game with myself, the job and my kitchen timer. Do you do this? I find the most tedious task more doable if I set the timer for one hour and say to myself, "I'll just work on this for an hour and then I will quit." Invariably, I get the nasty job done long before the timer rings and have moved on to another task, only to do the same game again.

With timer set, gloves on, a trash bag and broom, I headed out on the porch, Don close on my heels. We scurried around, tossing, sweeping, knocking down cob webs, and moving things to my new shop building by the chicken coop. It is going to be a lovely building; the floor has a slip-not floor coating that I completed last week. While the building still needs to be painted (purple to match the goat house and chicken coop), I am ready to start the shelving and putting up. Quickly everything from the porch and side yard was in the building and the porch floor was swept just as a torrential rain dumped (thanks Brenda for sending it this way without the wind!).

This meant I got to move into the house and start hanging the dining room curtains. I found the most adorable ones with baby bees on them at Country Curtains while in Concord. The topper is a honey coloured windowpane check. I splurged on these, using my overload pay from spring to buy them, so I was more than a little excited to get them up. There is this wonderful rod that has the shir rod on the inside and the pocket rod on the outside, so you only end up putting ONE hardware up for TWO rods. Perfect!

Except..... I somehow managed to mismeasure one hole for the brackets and drilled it in the wrong place and I had hung the curtains too high the first time. I remeasured, redrilled, and moved them down. Oh, nuts! The sheers are 2" too short! Ack! Being clever, however, I quickly put up a white shelf with brackets and filled it with African violets. No one will ever know that the curtain is too short. Sadly, there aren't any longer ones at CC that will fit the window and I am determined to make these work!

Next, I went to hang the whale shelf I just painted white; it will hold some of my tea pot collection. However, the screws were too long for the shelf brackets and would have come through the front of the shelf. So, Don to the rescue! We ran to the local hardware store, found some shorter ones, and he redrilled the brackets for the smaller screws. While he did that, I measured the wall for the shelf placement, marked my holes, and drilled pilot holes. We went to put the shelf up to find that I had measured wrong for the second hole. So, I redrilled again. This time, I scratched my shelf and had to repaint one end of it. The teapots are darling up there and I couldn't be more pleased. Except that the shelf is hung too low. But, I am not about to rehang it today. I am afraid something else will go awry!

Needless to say, Don has put the drill, tape measure, and screw driver in a place I can't find them for the rest of the day. I think it is self-preservation. So, I have decided that I really need to finish cleaning the kitchen, fold some laundry, and go milk. Good thing none of that requires Math.

Added later: I went to get the laundry and the bathroom floor was a half-inch deep in water. The washer overflowed. I quit! LOL

Monday, August 17, 2009

Money saving Monday!

I decided this past week that I wanted to learn more about couponing. You know, those little things we save and never use... So, I spent a few nights looking at Moneysaving Mom's web site (when I learn how to put in links) and and clipping what I could see there that would be useful to us. Then, I went to my two local grocery chains' websites and reviewed their tips, coupons, and ads.

After printing a bundle of coupons, learning about how to 'clip' virtual coupons attached to my rewards card, and checking ads, I headed to the grocery story today. I carefully took my list, coupons, and settled down to the seek and find that the successful couponer would use.

I collected my groceries, only things we use and would use, compared them to the ad and coupons, and marched to the checkout counter of store number one. I spent $52 and some change, but after coupons and specials, I spent only $21. At store number two, I spent $43, but only ended up spending $18. I figure I saved about 40% and this was my first week!

I am so excited that I am plotting my next attack! Everything I save will go toward the house. Even a little bit such as this week will add up over time.

One more simpification! Hooray!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Evelyn's story

My friend Evelyn is weaving the most beautiful baby blanket for her soon-to-be grandbaby. She wanted a story to go with the pictures of her weaving process.

Here is the story I wrote for her. I will post a picture of the blanket soon.

Evelyn's Woven Rainbow

Once, there was a Grandmama who had already fallen in love with a wee little person she hadn't even met yet!

So, she decided that since the leprechauns always left gold at the foot a rainbow that she would weave a rainbow for her soon-to-be grandbaby in hopes that a pot of gold might be left.

She plotted and planned and finally decided the best way to capture the rainbow -- she would weave it!

Grandmama measured and looked at her loom, Barbara. Then, she measured and looked at her fiber. She knew that this new rainbow would have to be very special for her to fool the leprechauns into leaving her a pot of gold for her grandbaby.

Finally, she decided. The rainbow would be different from all the other sky rainbows. It would be soft blues, gentle pinks, mint greens, twilight lavendars and sunshine yellows. Surely, she thought, the leprechauns would be fooled into leaving her gold!

Carefully, she wound off the warp. She counted each wrap carefully because she knew it had to be perfect! If it weren't, the leprechauns might discover her trick!

Next, she began to thread Barbara the loom, carefully arranging the colors so that they would lay next to each other, just as the sky rainbow.

In and through she threaded. As she worked, she hummed a little song to herself. She was so pleased as the colors were threaded onto her special loom. The work went quickly as Barbara was as excited as Grandmama to see the rainbow stretched between her harnesses and beams!

Almost by magic, Barbara the loom was dressed and ready for Grandmama to begin to weave.
Taking a deep breath, Grandmama selected the first color for her weft. It was a lovely pink!

"This is perfect!" she thought to herself. With shaking hands, Grandmama wound her shuttle and sat down the weaving bench.

"Okay, Barbara, let's make something lovely!" she whispered.

Grandmama threw the shuttle. It skimmed the warp and shot out the left side. Grandmama caught it and then beat the first thread of her magic blanket.

Quickly, she began to work. Back and forth went the shuttle.

Thump, thump, thump went the beater bar. Grandmama began to hum her special song again. She imagined the pot of gold and the beautiful baby she already loved wrapped tightly in the rainbow blanket.

As if by magic, a second rainbow, this time from side-to-side appeared. Grandmama was certain that the leprechauns would be so delighted with her blanket that they would leave a pot of gold.
Soft blues, gentle pinks, mint greens, twilight lavendars and sunshine yellows filled the warp. Grandmama paused to admire her work!

"Whew!" she whistled. "This is the most beautiful thing I have ever woven! Surely there are fairies working their magic, too!"

She laughed as she thought about the fairies helping her fool the leprechauns! And she laughed again when she thought of the pot of gold she would have for her grandbaby.

Back and forth she wove. Barbara's heddles seemed to sing Grandmama advanced the warp and wove. Before she knew it, Grandmama was to the end of her warp and it was time to take the blanket off Barbara.

Eagerly she advanced the warp so that she could cut the blanket from the loom. Her scissors shook as she clipped. She could not wait to see her rainbow!

She carefully stitched the ends and tied love knots for the fringe on either end. Each love knot was a kiss for her soon-to-be grandbaby.

"Perfect!" she declared as she smoothed the blanket with her hands. "This has to be the most perfect blanket ever made!"

She kissed the edge of the blanket so that the first time her grandbaby was wrapped in it, she would feel Grandmama's love. Then, she wrapped it all in white tissue paper, placed it in a strong box with a sprig of lavendar and addressed it to her granddaughter. She couldn't wait for the baby to see her rainbow! And, she couldn't wait to see if the leprechauns would leave their pot of gold.

Days came and went. Finally the call came that Grandmama had waited so patiently for. Her grandbaby was finally here!

Grandmama was so excited! But she had an important question.

"Did you use the blanket yet?" she asked.

"Grandmama," her granddaughter whispered. "You won't believe it; when I wrapped the baby in the blanket, she giggled as if she were being kissed."

Grandmama smiled. "And?"

"And, well, you won't laugh, will you?"

"No; I won't."

"A pot of gold wouldn't have made me happier. She is the most perfect baby in the world," her granddaughter chuckled.

Grandmama laughed. The leprechauns hadn't disappointed her! The pot of gold was not gold at all. It was a small baby wrapped in a rainbow all her own!

Do you think the grandbaby will like the story??

Thursday, August 13, 2009

If it's Thursday, Lucy's in charge...

When I bought the goat herd last summer, little did I know what life would be like.... I have learned about worms, parasites, birthin' goats, hay, feed, and about thirty things to do with goat's milk, except drink it. What a vegetarian is doing with a goat is beyond all understanding. I like the way the goats smell -- even the bucks. I like their whiney. I love their sense of humor. And I particularly enjoy the fact that a buck will wee-wee on your feet if you make them mad. I enjoy that, sadly. Especially when the victim is a traveling ---- fill-in the blank that I would prefer not to spend my time with. And, we won't discuss what I am doing with chickens.... Let's save that for another day.

So, here I am, with three milking does and two doelings. And five kids. And four pygmies. And three bucks. And one wether. How I went from five goats to this large herd is beyond me. Our vet tried to explain to me that boy plus girl of anything means more little boys or girls of anything, but I already knew this. What I didn't know was how what seemed impossible, wasn't, at least to goats.

Never was this more evident to me than when our pygmies gave, surprise!, birth to twins from, wait for it, an Alpine buck. Twice their size. Three times their weight. And we didn't even know it until we had babies. It just seemed impossible. However, there they were. Four kids. All from Maestro, a very large, very, er, plain, Alpine buck. When we realized who the kids' daddy was (that was a terrible line, wasn't it??), I asked the vet how it could happen.

She tried to explain: "You have a BOY goat, right? And you have a GIRL goat, right? Well..."

I stopped her: "I understand that, but he is like three feet taller than either of the girls. I don't get it. Did they ...??" I just couldn't fathom it.

She sighed. "They laid down and..."

I ran from the stall, yelling, "pink elephants!pink elephants!pink elephants!"

So, it comes as no surprise to me that the gals seem to take days to be in charge of the herd. Today was Lucy's day. I just love Lucy. She is a very blonde Alpine with little dangly bits that make me think of Hasidic Jews. It is such a kick to pull on them and her beard. She seems, actually, to like it. She is the only gal currently being milked, so she is quite eager to be the first in the feed line. In reality, she has to be last so the milk doesn't sit too long. But this doesn't deter her. She spent the day following the shade around the side and back of the barn and milking parlor. As the sun moved, Lucy moved. Finally, she stood up and began to call me.

"Bah," she lowed softly.

"In a bit; not time," I responded.

She chewed her cud a bit -- all of five minutes.

"BAh!" she called a little louder.

"In a little bit; it is too early," I protested.

She walked around to the hay rack, pulled some down, and chewed another five minutes.

"BAH!" she bellowed.

"It is only 4:30. You can wait!" I answered roughly.

She chewed her cud and stomped her feet.

"Too early," I argued again.

She stomped, bah-ed again softly, probably calling me rude names, and laid back down, chewing her cud.

Five minutes later, "BAHHHH!"

I sighed. "Okay; be right there."

My son laughed. "You shouldn't have put the clock out there; they can tell time."

I giggled. "Only Lucy."

I picked up the milking bucket and headed to the barn. Can't keep Lucy waiting.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

And it is just Wednesday....

This has been a rough week; the long and short of it is that I have torn the exhaust system out of my car while trying to do a good deed. It can't be fixed until tomorrow. That would be fine, as I could use Don's Jeep, but, even after putting a new battery in it, the blasted thing won't start. So, I could drive my truck, but John is using it to go to work and back. This leaves a goat, but they aren't having any part of it and have convinced the cow that no good deed goes unpunished (I think they heard about the car).

Add to this that I fell in the goat yard yesterday with a bale of hay. It was wet and my feet slipped out from under me and, before I knew it, I was on the ground with feet, arms, and hay in various contortions. So today I look as if I were smacked around and I feel a little like it, too. Of course, Amos is taking credit for it and telling the other goats that "this is what happens when the woman starts talking cart pulling." What a bully.

Does this make you feel happy that you aren't having my kind of week?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Living Lean

After my two weeks in Concord for the NEH Workshop focused on American Transcendentalism, I have returned home with the desire to simplify my life. There are tons of books, articles, and how-to guides on simplification, but in looking at these, it seems to me that there is one thing missing. The reason why one would want to simplify and what one would hope to accomplish in that process.

This is the question I have pondered for the past few weeks. What is simplification and what are the benefits of such?

And this is what I have decided: for me simplification means having more time to do the things I really want to do. The enaction of this will be the challenge.

One element of this is to use everything I have rather than adding more.

And so, I am issuing myself a challenge: use what I have, wear it out or use it up! Nothing new in the house for one year, unless it is necessary for health, safety, or to replace what is worn out. This means:

Eat everything in the freezer and canned goods;
Use all the seeds I have for my gardens;
Wear all the clothes I have;
Knit or weave all the yarn stockpiled;
Quilt the fabrics stacked up;
Read the books in "holding";
And, complete all the projects started.

Hopefully, posting this will keep me honest and focused. How about I report the progress as I go along? Will you join me??