Friday, December 31, 2010

And the Winner Is...

I am so excited..... let's see who it is...
Using the Random Number Generator at, the number 7 was selected...

Congratulations, Dee! This is what she wrote:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely give-away! I found you thru Brenda's blog. I would love a wood splitter too :o) Happy New Year! Dee
Dee, please email me your snail mail address and your package will be arriving next week! Thanks to everyone making the give away so special for me! I enjoyed reading your comments and getting to know some new friends (and new blogs!).
A little over a year ago I tipped my toes in the blog water, not sure if anyone would even read my little blog or care about my silliness. The kindness, generosity, and friendship so many of you have given me has brightened my life daily. Thank you all!

As we begin this New Year, please pause a moment and consider these words of the Psalmist:

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
4 A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.

7 We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

 ---Psalm 90:1-12
Happy New Year and may our Father richly bless and keep you!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


After a completely exhausting tustle, The Shawl has retired to a long soak. She is pouting; I am gloating. Victory is mine!

There is a lesson here for all difficult to knit lace shawls....never take on an English professor. Our perseverance is legendary. We train by sitting longer and through more boring things than any athlete. We are able to identify split infinitives in a single glance. Subject / verb agreement are mere intellectual reflex to us. Unable to glean the meaning from a text? Hand it to us; we can find more meaning that the author ever dreamt of in their philosophy. We laugh in the face of essays that have 500 words and more than half  of 'em are one syllable. Try to sneak someone else's work by us? Never! We have the ability to remember writing voices longer than most people can remember their own names.

I am an English Professor. All lace shawls -- quake and be afraid.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Distraction

We will not mention The Shawl today; after knitting until midnight whilst watching The Sword of Lancelot (which was really good), I am still 62 stitches from done. The best I can figure, another hour should do it. But, I am developing an unhealthy obsession with The Shawl, so I am not going to talk about it. Really.

So, to distract myself, the Airman and I created these:

As we were baking, he commented, "You know, Mum, working with explosives and baking are a lot alike. You have to follow the receipt or it all goes to slaw in a hurry." I needed to hear that, by the way. As you know, I try really hard to not think about what he does every day.


Today we are going to play with our new Christmas toy -- the wood splitter. While the Hardy is extremely effective, this old house takes a lot of wood to keep warm. Thoreau was certainly correct when he said that wood was the fuel that warmed one twice.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

When Will It End???

Wild 'n Wooly in Lexington, MA, is one of my favorite yarn shops in the world. I only get to visit it in July while I am in Concord for my three weeks, so it is a full Saturday visit for me. Jackie and her wonderful staff let me wander, drool, fondle, and pet all the yarn in the shop, all the while offering me food, drinks, and a chair. I love visiting them and always come home with a nice selection of projects for the coming year, which is delish as we have no local yarn shop within a two hour drive.

Let me introduce you to my friend, the Dragon Melody Shawl.

I started it two summers ago and have worked on it since. Reportedly, it is a "quick knit" but apparently I have hit the knitter's hole. You know --- that place where you knit and knit and knit only to discover that you haven't made any progress... The first part went quite easily -- straight stockinette for 12 inches and then a knit lace edge. But, then the real fun begins. All the end stitches are kept "live" as a knit lace edging (35 stitches) is added along the bottom. According to my math (and remember, I teach English) there are about 600 stitches to pick up along the bottom, one every other row, in a 12 row lace pattern. This translates to 93 repeats of the lace pattern to pick up all the stitches.

I have knit through Lost Horizon, Jesus Christ Superstar, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, Aladin, Terror of Tiny Town, Zoolander, Sleepy Hollow (okay, I drooled a lot during that movie and did little knitting), and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Bugs Bunny's Cartoon Collection  and still seem to be making no progress. I even added markers every 36 stitches to give me some kind of "check point" to indicate that I really am making progress. I wake up thinking about getting it done before I go back to work next week. I knit during supper. I have even awakened myself, holding the sheets as if they were needles and mumbling to myself, "just a few more stitches...." I am exhausted.

That being said... any suggestions on where to block what the designer calls a large shawl? I am thinking the front yard...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Give Away -- Finally!

Without further ado, our little give away for one of our friends here at Lazy Bee Farm.

In this adorable Snowman tin are: one bar of balsam scented sleigh goat milk soap and one mini-bar snowman in vanilla; a handknit dish / wash cloth; a handwoven red alpaca lavendar sachet, handwoven linen tea towel, a pint of Lazy Bee Farm honey (not pictured) and Victoria's Charms of Tea -- purchased just for this give away!

To enter the drawing, please leave a comment for one entry. And, if you are so kind as to mention this on your blog, please leave me a note for a second entry. The winner will be drawn on New Year's Eve using the random number generator. I can't wait to see who starts off the New Year a winner! We have a saying here in the mountains... what you do on New Year's is what you do all year...

Now, as Inigo said in The Princess Bride, let me sum up...

As happens nearly every end of the semester, I get a computer virus -- I suspect from a disgruntled student -- just saying... This one wiped out IE, so I haven't been able to log in to the Internet from home. Add to that the fact that Blogger wouldn't let me log in from anywhere, it is a formula for great sadness for me!

Other events...
  • The Airman is home for two weeks! Joy, joy, joy! Did I mention that I was happy??
  • We have more than eight inches of snow on the ground (the second bout in two weeks)...
  • A frozen water hose will explode if you touch it in subfreezing temperatures and the water is still on... and said exploding hose can knock one little farmer flat on their hinney whilst rather large dogs run the other way...
  • I love Mr. Hardy who invented our new wood stove. If I weren't too old, I would have his baby.
  • While other people might think it is odd, I personally think a wood splitter is a fine Christmas present. What would make it finer would be having someone else use it.
  • My nephews can say "Aunt Matty" 400 times in less than 1 hour. I wish my name was something else...
  • I am not too old to see Tangled. Neither is the Airman.
  • Never move a 42"  loom when there is a project in process. I can't even write about this yet.
There is much more, but I will spare you the details for now. I have missed you all terribly and can't wait to catch up on my online reading! What has been going on in your world!?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Not Dead

Hi Gang,

Not dead. Blogger wouldn't let me sign in for almost two weeks. I couldn't even open blogger! Now resolved, but finishing grades for this semester.

Give away and posting to come in the next day!

Stay warm!



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's a Pair!

One pair of socks done!

We had a pre-retirement meeting today which gave me the chance to knit all day so I could finish Corrie's second sock. I am a little disappointed that there are two rows difference in the toe. Most likely I was off in the colour round when I cast on, but you know, they are identical to that point, so who cares??

There is something that makes the second sock go so much faster, at least for me. I guess it is because it feels like I am on the home stretch. Actually, I feel the same way when I turn the heel in the first sock. Either way, I love knitting them and always have a pair on the needles. Even if they are just my plain Jane's, there is something so special about wearing a pair of hand knit socks. You know that you are loved!

What are you making these days?

Btw, this is my 300th post! I can't believe how quickly they have flown by and how many wonderful folks I have met along the way. I am posting a giveaway to celebrate later this week. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Day Musings -- The Promise

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

Isaiah 11:1-3

This is the first Sunday of Advent. As a Quaker there is no liturgy, to speak of, but I am enthralled with traditions that give fullness to the Word and Promise. Thus, I love Advent and all that comes with it. Our Advent meal, which will culminate with the lighting of the first purple candle symbolizing HOPE, will be a simple potato soup with toasted and buttered homemade bread. It is a simple meal, but one that we have created with our own hands, from raising the potatoes to making the bread. There is much to be grateful for.

Then, we will watch our fourth movie in the "Thirty Days of Christmas" movie-thon tradition we established when we first married. Each night we select one Christmas movie, starting with "Miracle on 34th Street" and ending, of course, with "It's a Wonderful Life." We have already enjoyed "A Christmas Carole" and I have resolved to read the story in its entirety this season.

Very little decorating has started. With the "natural" Christmas theme for the Airman this year, I don't want to start too early. Next weekend, however, we will begin with the porch and outdoors and move our way in. After my funk from last year, no Dundee cakes were made nor tree decorated, I have resolved to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get 'er done. And, that has made all the difference. I want the Airman's time home to be warm, loving, comforable, and, most of all, peaceful. Knowing he'll be gone next year and with all the stupidness going on in the world, I want to treasure every single moment.

What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

All In Your Hand

Can you guess what came in this yesterday?

Getting closer....

A genuine, five-piece Hollywood Loom!
Made in 1936, the instructions state:
"Weave in your hand!
Blouses, hats, purses, afghans can all be woven right in your hand!"

This is what was made... lavendar sachets!
They are going in the Etsy shop for Christmas presents.
Talk about delicious!

One of the things I loved most about the package was the lovely note inserted from the seller. There is nothing quite like a handwritten note, is there? Can you remember waiting for the  mail and hoping something would be there for you? I had penpals all over the country and looked forward to seeing the stamps and postmarks.

As a scholar, I regret we are going to more electronic communication. How will we ever know what folks were thinking and writing in 100 years? My friend Corrie writes me letters even though we live just a few miles apart. As a seven-year-old, she loves the process of writing, stamping, and mailing the letter. As a 55-year-old, I love getting 'em!

Do you write letters? 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Make Mine Pink

 On the loom are more tea towels. I can't get enough of this warping. There is one warp and five towels that one can weave from it. It is a winner for me  because I don't like to warp alone. I end up with loose threads and then have to add weights to pull the tension correctly. This is a grey Irish 10/2 linen. I have one towel done and four to go! I love love love hemstitching! It was always my favorite when I was crosstitching samplers and I jump at the chance to do it.

 One of the hazards of knitting for a child is that they grow so doggone fast! Corrie and Joshua ordered blue socks, but it took me a little longer than usual to finish them. When I took them over Wednesday for our tea party, neither fit. But, Joshua could wear Corrie's socks, so I just owe Miss Corrie a pair. She looked over the blue and said, "I am over my blue streak; I'd like pink now, please." This is the first sock, CO48, k2p2 for 1-1/2 inches, then stockinette as long as you like. I love turning the heels, so this has been a quick and fun knit. I even worked on it between lunch and dessert yesterday!
How about a blast from the past?? This hand-pieced quilt was started in, a-hem, 1991, when I was pregnant with Marc Andrew. When he died in utero, the quilt was put away and never finished. It is time to close that door and so I have decided to finish the lap quilt joining on the back. It will go fast as it is a baby quilt and only nine blocks, plus the binding. I am working on it when my hands are tied of knitting (rarely) or my back from weaving (more often). Since I grabbed a bale of hay wrong yesterday, I am more than a little back sore today, so moving between projects (no, it is not ADD, I promise! LOL) is a good thing.

What are you doing today??

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Things I am thankful for:

1. The Airman is stateside this year.
2. My home and family.
3.  No blackpowder shot turkey this year.
4. Not cooking for 12 people.
5. Sunshine on Thanksgiving!
6. The new Hardy stove has proven a winner!
7. There will be TWO kinds of potatoes at lunch tomorrow.
8. The ability to share with others.
9. The Thanksgiving Tea that Corrie, Joshua, and new baby Isaac have prepared for this morning.
10. All you wonderful folks who take the time to share your day with me!

Have a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving! And be grateful you aren't in an airport somewhere getting to know your new best friend up close and personal!

Monday, November 22, 2010

God Makes Me Laugh!

The final tally:
18 hats, 1 vest, 3 scarves, 7 hand-tied blankets, 2 prs. hand knit mittens,
3 hoodies, 2 prs. of socks, and 20 pairs of bought gloves
for a total of 54 pieces.
Wookie is trying to figure out which pile he wants to wallow one more time....

The charity knitting goal this year was 55 pieces. I have 36 knitted items and, as I had permission to add the 20 bought gloves, I am over the goal! Yah! Now, let me tell you how funny God is.

My selected group was the Santa Train. I love love love the story of the train and wanted to really participate. But, would you believe I discovered this morning that I had overlooked the delivery date by one week? And, would you believe that today I met a woman who feeds and serves the homeless in the next county below the mountain? She told me of the families, yes FAMILIES, who are living along the Yadkin River in boxes or tents. It broke my heart.

Then, a little voice in me said, "So, you see why you missed the date? Give them to her."

And, I did.

I am so giddy with happiness that these things are going to someone who needs them. And, my friend Vicky, who was crocheting for the train with me, is sending afghans, laprobes, and scarves with me. And, a box of sweatshirts that were too small for her sister-in-love and have just been waiting to go to the homeless shelter somewhere is now snug in my car as well.

The dear lady and I were talking today and she said, "God just had you there waiting for me." I think it was the other way around. Either way, it is just as it should be.  

Do You Remember?

Where were you on November 22, 1963? I was sitting in my class at Ardmore Street Elementary School working on my penmanship (which is still terrible) when an announcement came over the intercom that the school was closing immediately and that all children were to go straight home.

I was terrified.

Earlier that year we had been issued dog tags to wear that had our name, address, phone number, religion, blood type, and parent's names. We were instructed to wear it always. It was never to come off. Mother and Daddy had explained that I was responsible for my brother and new sister if I were sent home from school. I had detailed instructions for what to do until they got home. They tried, as many folks did, to explain the stupidness of our world and that there were countries that wanted to kill us for being Americans. We were near one of the places they would drop an atomic bomb on. I could survive, we could survive, they stressed, but I was to stay home until they got there. Food was in the basement. Mrs. Tucker was next door.

So, you can imagine how I felt that morning as I, along with all my classmates, was instructed to go straight home. I kept looking at the sky, nearly running, taking every shortcut, the three short blocks to our colonial two-story grey asbestos-sided house. No sirens. No planes. Maybe I had beat them; Mother would still be home as she didn't leave for her job at the hospital until 1:45. Daddy would surely come in from town. We'd all be there. Safe.

When I opened the door, Mother was standing and ironing. Napkins, tablecloths, underwear, sheets, clothes, clean, some from the closets, surrounded her. This wasn't a good sign. She only ironed like this when she was really upset. She was crying softly. The TV was on and Walter Cronkite, my hero as I wanted to be a journalist, was reporting the events of the day. He took his glasses off, took a deep breath, and quietly said, "President Kennedy died..." Mother burst into sobs. I did, too, because I didn't know what else to do. After all, I was only eight and didn't understand this crazy grown-up world.

Much has happened since that sunny November day so long ago. In some ways our world is kinder, gentler, yet, in others, we are harder, more divisive, more angry. It is trite to say innocence died that day. However, just as September 11, 2001, something shifted in our world. I only wish it were for the better.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

First Day Musings --- Look Around


Brenda has a wonderful post today about Christmas choices. Her posts are always well worth the visit as they nudge us to consider our lives in a more meaningful manner. And, sometimes, she is just, well, to darn close for comfort, at least for me! Today she focuses on how to make the holidays more meaningful and purposeful. And as she often does, she has nudged me right into considering how over-the-top these holidays have become.

One of the things that has always troubled me is how many folks are generous to overseas charities, but don't support those in their own communities. I live in a very rural part of NC; we have more than 12% unemployment and, at one time, we had more than 3000 of our 9000 residents out of work when our two factories closed to go off shore. The impact is still devasting -- homes were lost, families moved off farms that had been original land grants, business closed, and life changed forever. We have to rely on each other in times of trial and need.

Look around you. Really look. Who needs a loving hand in your neighborhood? Our volunteer fire department selects families whom we know are out of work or in need and leaves a bag of groceries (Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, plus a few goodies for the children), unseen, in the person's car. Our churches donate to school children by sending home "back packs" of food for the weekend if they know a family is in tough times. A local community college has a clothing closet for graduates so that they are interview ready in an appropriate outfit. Another community college off-site campus has a food closet for students. Sandy created lap quilts for her local nursing home for this year's challenge. The fine gals at Mennonite Girls Can Cook support a number of charities; one of my favorites is their livestock program. Who can't love a charity that gives goats and chickens!?

Won't you take a few minutes this week as you consider your blessings and think of how you might bless someone? It doesn't take much; just time and willingness to give of yourself. While writing a check is a fine thing, giving of yourself blesses you and the reciever even more. No matter how little or much you have, you can share -- giving a smile, sharing a kind word, opening a door, helping a mother load her groceries, saying "Good Morning", or thanking a veteran for their service. May you be richly blessed as you bless others!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Friday!

How about a grin??

Adult Truths
1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5. How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to start directions with # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
10. Bad decisions make good stories.
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear made no changes to.
14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.
17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.
18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
19. How many times is it appropriate to say What? before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word said?
20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
22. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
23. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding the cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.
24. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey-1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I'd like to just curl up in a ball and forget everything. You??

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rain, rain

Why is it that November rain is the dreariest of all rains?

It has rained here for two full days with no end in sight and I find myself cold, sad, and, well, just needing a shot of something more than coffee -- maybe sunshine or colour??

To cure my blues today I plan to do what I like most -- make myself a lovely pot of tea and snuggle up with a bit of knitting or tying flannel quilts.

There is also a huge need to haul box after box to the attic for storage. I have finally packed the last of the Airman's things and now face the daunting task of getting the attic rearranged so that his things are together, holidays are better sorted, out of season clothes are labeled and so forth. Word of advice: when a grown child wants to 'store a few things' remember that if said child has been on their own for more than five minutes and lived in the same place for seven minutes, you might lose control of at least one floor of your home! The Airman had a three bedroom house and, while he had cleared a lot, there is a still a lot to store. Fun times. Right.

Or, I might get myself together enough to finish grades and get things caught up so that next week I can play all week as we have Thanksgiving break. Or, I do have a craft show on Saturday. I could wrap soap and make a few sachets from my Weavette loom samples and some lavendar.

Gee.... I dunno.What should I do??

Sunday, November 14, 2010

First Day Musings -- Joyful Noise

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
--- Psalm 100

Yesterday was spent with a small choir in the studio recording the chorus for a song on the new album. It is a joyous piece called "Focus" and, the Mister hears it with a choir and several "wailing women" in the background. Can you believe that this is the first time the Mister has permitted me in the studio to watch the process?

As I sat, knitting, and listening the singers and the tracks play back, my mind drifted to how in sync this group was even though few of them had ever performed together. They laughed, joked, teased, and broke away into small groups, singing, collaborating, working out harmonies. No one was a star. They were singing out of pure pleasure. It was a joy to watch!

How often do we get caught up in the daily competition of life and forget to be joyful? The Lord loves music, singing, and happiness. Think of David dancing naked before the Lord. I don't see this as a physical nakedness so much as just being himself -- pure and utter joy shared and given to his Creator.

Today, I plan to sing and dance. You?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fall in a jar

When my classes read Emerson's "Nature" they have a "Transcendental Musings" assignment to complete. In short, they are to take 15 minutes in nature, no electronics of any kind and no company, and do something that is 1) creative and 2) reflects the Transcendental spirit and 3) Emerson's ideas in the essay.

Frankly, I have had some very stellar submissions -- art, music, poetry, photography, collages, you name it and I have seen and enjoyed it.

But this lovely arrangement took the cake for me. Ms. Jocelyn was inspiring in her use of all natural components. To be honest, I wanted to rip it from her hands and run down the hallway crying, "My Precious!" But, I couldn't be so cruel when I saw how proud she was (rightfully so!) of her project.

Click on the picture to embiggen it. You won't believe all the wonderous things this talented young lady put into her project -- leaves, nest, berries, feathers, weeds, ferns, and even hay. Breathtaking!

I asked her permission to share this with you as it is so completely wonderful! Don't you agree? 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you

Airman John in his blues -- taken by himself.
Isn't he handsome?

Thank you to all our Service People today. And every day. We fail to show you our appreciation as we should, but know that we keep you in our prayers and God's hands every day. Those of you who read my blog regularly know how very proud I am of the Airman. He is my hero, my heart, my treasure, and the only truly good thing I have given this world. I am proud of you, Airman!

The Airman's Creed

I am an American Airman.
I am a warrior.
I have answered my nation’s call.
I am an American Airman.
My mission is to fly, fight, and win.
I am faithful to a proud heritage,
A tradition of honor,
And a legacy of valor.
I am an American Airman,
Guardian of freedom and justice,
My nation’s sword and shield,
Its sentry and avenger.
I defend my country with my life.
I am an American Airman:
Wingman, leader, warrior.
I will never leave an Airman behind,
I will never falter,
And I will not fail.

Woot! Woot!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

To Everything There Is A Season

and a time and purpose under heaven.... Ecclesiastes 3:1

November is the time of year that I feel as though I am going into hibernation. The gardens are to bed, cans are filled, the house is closed up, the fire lit, and soup is the meal of choice many nights. We had our first skiff of snow on Saturday, yet today, it is 70-degrees here at the farm. Where is fall? How can I even begin to think of Christmas when it is so warm?

Yet, think of it I must. The Airman will be in Japan next Christmas, so this year we are having the full blown out holiday. I have decided on a 'theme', if you will -- a natural, down-home holiday for our Airman. Roping for the porch has been ordered from my nephews' school which is raising money for a trip. Our farm grown mountain laurel has been appraised and deemed worthy of wreathmaking. And, I have scoped out the creeping cedar at the below-the-mountain farm for the mantel and house. All is in order and ready for gathering. I love it.

Inside the house we shall have at least three trees, all cut from our farm or the below-the-mountain farm. The living room one will be decorated with handmade ornaments, carefully gathered over the years while the upstairs landing will have the Airman's ornaments, purchased for him annually so that when he has a home one day he will have a tree of ornaments to begin homekeeping and family traditions. And, there shall be one other tree, maybe in the dining room or entry way that is filled with nothing more than hearts.

While I know the holiday is six weeks away, it does this heart good to think of how I will show my only child how very much I love him and will miss him.

We have many traditions in our home for each holiday. For the first snowfall we watch "The Snowman" and drink hot chocolate with a candy cane for stirring and lots of marshmallows floating on top. New Year's Eve finds us on the front porch  (usually wrapped in lots of wool) with the Mister blowing "Auld Lang Syne" on his very mellow, quite old, saxophone which echoes through the holler like a solemn harbinger of the bygone year's death. Easter delights us with naturally dyed Easter Eggs hidden by each of us for the others and then delicious hot cross buns to enjoy after the hunt. And, summer solistice brings us a bonfire with roasted vegan hot dogs and marshmallows cooked to perfection on apple sticks from our Virginia Beauty apple tree.

I look forward to each holiday, each tradition, with relish and joy. It gives us roots and brings us comfort as time slips past far too quickly. What holiday tradition do you enjoy most?

Monday, November 8, 2010

It Had To Happen

The power went off on campus this morning. Transformer blew. I was in the midst of showing a Frontline clip about Abraham Lincoln and his discovering faith after his son's death. My class is in an electronic classroom which means that the class is transmitted over TV to other campuses. And, it means that the room was dark as soon as the lights popped off. Of course, the 'security lights' popped right on in a split second so we had a little light. It was still quite eerie.

I jokingly asked the class if they believed maybe the end of times had come and we didn't know about it. We all giggled nervously. Usually these things don't last long, so, doing what English teachers do, I began to lecture, from the book, and from my own knowledge. No PowerPoint, no notes, nothing electronic. Unheard of!

The class concluded a few minutes early, but they had a group assignment to work on, so that was okay with me. I sent them off, with cautions to watch traffic lights and stairs, and then I gathered myself and went back to my office.

The uproar in my office suite was amusing. Fortunately, I teach in a discipline where, frankly, if I have a mouth, I can make it work for me. Sadly, other disciplines are not so fortunate. And, in our age of "newer is better" we no longer have chalkboards or even white boards in the classrooms. Everything, and I mean everything, is electronic -- either data projectors, "Smart Boards", or laptops are all now the usual business in the classroom. Honestly, I thought some professors were going to weep openly!

Just a few years ago I was in the Appalachian State University library working on my master's thesis. The library had converted to all online databases. The old card catalog sat, neglected, in a corner. The power went out and, naturally, the computers went down. Taking my trusty flashlight (yes, I was a Girl Scout), I just slipped over to the card catalog, my dearest library friend, and continued my research. Even some of the younger librarians had never used one. I giggled as I flipped through cards and my trusty "Reader's Guide" and gleaned out bits and pieces that seemed useful. My afternoon was fulfilled while others just moaned.

In these days of so-called "modern technology" I have to wonder if we have outsmarted ourselves. Have we gotten so dependent on the technology in our lives that we cannot function if the Internet is down? What has become of education if we need to have the most modern, the most up-to-date technology in order to teach and inspire our students? Have we lost our focus and foolishly believe that technology alone makes us more effective teachers? Are we training students who will need more, faster, cleaner, easier, and, sadly, more sanitized learning? I fear that 1984 might be more real than I want to accept.

What do you think??

Sunday, November 7, 2010

First Day Musings -- Get Your Head Out Of The Sand!

This is what was said to me on Wednesday and I am still trying to get over it. Let me back up.

A colleague asked me what I thought when I watched the election returns on Tuesday night.

"I didn't," I replied. "We have disconnected our TV."

If I had said that shooting annoying students were socially acceptable, I wouldn't have met with the rant that followed.

"You WHAT?? Now, listen, Matty, you have to get your head out of the sand! You can't live your life ignoring the world! You have to pay attention to what is going on in the world! I can't believe this! You turned off your TV?? You didn't watch the returns? You are just like the girl I talked to at Sheetz this morning. She said she didn't vote because it was all in God's hand anyhow! How can anyone be so stupid??"

I leave you to fill in what she had to say about this. Frankly, I get angry thinking about it.

"We don't have our head in the sand. We are very aware of what is going on in our world. We just have alternative means of learning about it...."  However, my attempted response was interrupted by more rant.

I gave up and just let her rave until she left my office door and began another rant with another colleague about my choices and then about Bristol Palin's dancing. Are the two ideas related??? I was and am confused.

So, dear ones, I ask you: Who died and left her in charge? Or, for that matter, anyone in charge of my life and my choices?

Please understand. I am not self-righteous. Frankly, I am far from it. I am puzzled. I know we live a different kind of life. I know that we are moving more and more to removing ourselves from the silliness that often surrounds us. And, I know that we are considered "odd" by our colleagues at work. But, it is our life. And, it is our choices. What is right for us isn't right for others. We are unique snowflakes and should be respected as such. To be completely honest, I am finally living the life I wanted when I was 20; it is my greatest sadness that I have more life behind me than in front of me in which to do it.

We pack our lunches, often vegetarian; we wear older clothes (they are clean, neat, and in good repair); we drive ten year old, paid for, cars; we read good fiction and our Bibles; we like to work with our hands; we live in a century old house that has very little updates; and we love our farm. Our evening entertainment includes stars, watching the fire, and conversation. And, we have a few friends who share our loves. It is a good life.

I guess the whole point of my ramblings today is the lack of acceptance or understanding of others' lifestyles and choices. What one chooses should be of no consequence to others if it doesn't impact them. Please don't judge me on what I do or don't have. We are blessed fully and richly with what we want and need. I don't care if there are people who want a McMansion or drive a new car every year. That is their path. Just please don't tell me who I am based on what you think I am.

My favorite Emerson quote is this:

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Give Me The Pickle

Last week I had to attend a customer service training entitled: "Give them the pickle." It is based on Bob Farrell's restaurant experience when a customer complained that he had to pay for a pickle. The outcome was that the customer left and declared never to return if he had to pay for a pickle. Farrell's response: "Give 'em the pickle!" Yes, even in higher education this is apparently the new model. The students are our "customers" and we must dedicate ourselves to serving them better. Right.

Needless to say, I was less than enthusiastic about the event. It required a day of missed classes, extra driving, and a longer day for me -- none of which was appealing. However, in spite of the redundancy of the speaker, the heart of the training was useful. It got me to thinking about how can we "raise the bar" in how we serve others. In short, how can we do more than be average?

Some of the things I have thought about since then are:

Saying "thank you."
Looking a person in the eyes when I greet them.
Having a pleasant tone of voice.
Listening rather than plan my response.
Making someone look better than they are by not passing blame.
Taking responsibility for what I do and doing it better than average.
Being positive in my tasks -- even if it is a task that makes my skin crawl.
Enjoying others rather than dreading them.

Just think. This would not only enhance our work life, but wouldn't they enhance our home life as well?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

19th Amendment

Today we get to celebrate our 19th amendment right, ladies. Whatever the party, whatever your beliefs, just do it!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I Think I Know

After spending the last part of the week in Washington, DC, I can honestly say I know why things in our country are so messed up. How can you trust a government housed in a city where:

1) These people never sleep. All night long folks are walking, talking, driving, eating, and playing. I know. I was, too....
2) Who designs a road system that you can't get home on? I sat on I-95 for two hours and only traveled seven miles. TWO WORDS: Public Transportation.
3) There is no Chickfila. Nuff said.
4) A simple meal costs $45. We are talking caprese salad, chicken breast stuffed with spinach, Spanish rice, and a tart. And no sweet tea. Everyone knows sugar will not dissolve in cold tea. I wept. Quietly.
5) There was no Bible in the hotel room. Where are the Gideons? Are they afraid to go there, too?
6) Everyone wears black. Are they in mourning or what? I didn't see anything bright except me. In red. Very bright red. And, yes, black trousers. But at least I had on RED!
7) The city was built in a swamp. Who builds in a swamp unless they have a death wish or refuse to listen to their surveryor? Oh, that's right. Some of our first Presidents were surveyors, weren't they?? Point made.
8) FOX News was on the TV in every common area of the hotel -- reception, guest services, valet parking, and even, yes, the restaurant. If I am paying $45 for a dinner, I am not going to be watching TV. Period.
9) Noise, noise, noise, noise, noise. I know I sound like the Grinch, but who can have a quiet thought when there is always noise?
10) Goats. They need goats. This would clean up the common areas They are cleaner than elephants or donkeys. And, as far as I know, not one of my gals has ever been caught in a scandal unless you count the time they all got frisky with the buck without permission. Lucy is certainly paying the price for that one; she'll kid any day. But, at least not one of them has been indicted or called before a Congressional hearing. Yet.

All this said, the conference was wonderful, and I was hugged more than at a family reunion. The food, despite the cost, was really delicious. It was great to have handmade mozzarella and I didn't have to make it! Many dear friends were there, several showed up and were delightful surprises, and several new friends were made... Maybe saying yes and getting out of my comfort zone is a good thing.

Now, excuse me. I have to pack for yet another trip. Can you guess where it might be? Hint: The heart of rock and roll is in....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

These Boots Are Made For Walking

And that's just what I'll do. For the next three weeks I have lots of trips. I don't like to travel if it is all work and no play. I am not a happy camper. I want to be home when it gets dark; I want to sleep in my bed; I want to see my goats.

How did this happen??

Have you ever known someone who could manage to get you over committed? I have such a person in my life currently and want my freedom. Short of a full blown temper tantrum, I don't know what to do. We aren't related; I don't have to see this person but once or twice a year; I don't have any special relationship with this person beyond purely professional.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Baboo!

Today is Mother's birthday! Hip hip hooray!

Baboo is a remarkable woman. Born to extremely poor parents during the Depression, she went to live with her Grandparents until she was ten as the farm would provide what they could not. She was the darling of the family, petted, adored, fed. But, when she was ten, her little brother was born and she came home to help with him.

Grandpa didn't value education and wanted Mother to quit school. Thankfully, a teacher worked it out so Mother could attend classes half a day and take care of her brother the other half. Mother graduated with honors, after a brilliant basketball career in spite of being 5'1", and faced what seemed to be her fate -- working at the same sock factory with my Grandparents.

She rebelled and essentially ran away from home so she could attend nursing school. She sat in classes eight hours, worked to pay her way for eight hours, and then did all the other things she had to do in the other eight. Within three years she was a certificate nurse and married to my Father who had just returned from Germany.

This amazing woman has fed a family of five on less than $5 a week (when $5 was real money!), managed a budget that often seemed to be Divinely provided (such as the year her medical bills alone were more than $3700 and my parents only earned $3200 -- yet they were debt-free), and raised three pretty remarkable children, even it I do say so myself. She, even more astoundingly, has stayed married to my Father for more than 55 years. And, to my great amusement, when she was 70, she started a fist fight and shouting match with a twit in church. Daddy had to separate them. Who can't love a woman who is that strong minded!?

We hear of the "greatest generation" frequently in the news. Mother isn't of the one referred to, however, I prefer to believe she is of the "greatest generation" for it is her's that made it possible for women today to follow their hearts and not society's. Her generation made sure their children were educated, that women could choose their life path, and that we didn't have to wear pearls in the kitchen.

She is called Baboo for what she said when I was expecting the Airman. After seeing the sonogram,she remarked, "It looks like a 'min-key' "(we love Inspector Clouseau). My reply? "Well, every min-key has a Ba-boon in the woodpile," and pointed to her. It stuck and all the grandbabies call her that.

I am so proud of both my parents for what they overcame in their youth -- ignorance, expectations, poverty, illness, and loss. I am joyful they have both been granted yet another year so that I might learn a little more from them. How blessed is that?

Happy birthday, Baboo!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


This week has been a hectic one with lots of changes in our lives -- all good and none huge! These are the best, aren't they?

Monday I was liberated from the purple cast! Hooray! It felt strange to have two feet on equal footing, but I quickly got back into the swing of things by digging potatoes with The Mister, Shelly and Alvin. We tried using their HUGE mules, but they were not of the mind to work, so we attached the push plow to the tractor and the Mister drove it whilst Alvin practically rode the plow. We have about 350 pounds of potatoes! Good thing we are mostly Irish!

Tuesday we hauled wood all afternoon. May I share with you that at the rate we are saving on our electric, we will have the furnace paid for in two years instead of five? This morning it was a chilly 28-degrees, but inside the weather was delightful -- a snug 68-degrees throughout the house! No cold spots! It was luscious!

Wednesday it rained cats and dogs, but we had so much to do in the house. We are spinning honey this weekend, so jars are to be gathered, washed, and fresh lids purchased. It is a busy time and we love it! The house smells deliciously sweet. What is it about honey that is so wonderful?

Thursday, guess what? We hauled wood again! Last winter was so cold that we are determined to be snug and not have to worry about finding wood when there is snow on the ground. We usually have our first flurries on Halloween, so we are getting in just under the wire!

Friday was a "get the boys' shelter fixed" extravaganza! The Mister did that whilst I ran a ton of errands and tied up a bunch of loose ends. We are still waiting on The Baby, so we had a quick run-by of the Waiting Family to cast eyes on how all are holding up. The Due Date is Sunday, my Mother's birthday, so we are holding our collective breath in anticipation. We also took the leap of faith and dumped our TV service. No more TV for our house. We only watched 15 hours a month and the cost just didn't warrant the time. Somehow, I feel lighter already!

And, so, we are now to today! After over sleeping and missing our Farmer's Market day (we have two left), we are going to fetch hay, work on fences, collect our last super here and put bee escapes on the ones below the mountain so they can come home tomorrow, and, if we have time, we are going to start putting the garden to bed.

Don't you love Autumn!??

Sunday, October 17, 2010

First Day Musings -- Finding Peace

There seems to be a definite movement in many of the blogs I read -- most folks are looking for simpler and quieter lives. Why is this?

I remember having four children to parent and the hurry that was my life. It seemed that every minute was full of activity and rushing. There were days I would fall into bed with my clothes on. Then, a friend said to me,"Why do you think the children have to do everything that comes along? Can't they just be children?"

Point made.

Their success, and mine, was not tied up in all the activities they were doing. Rather, it was in being who they were without judgement. Maybe this is why we rush so. We want others to be impressed or to see us as "productive", "energetic", "competent", or "together".

It is a lie.

Pure peace comes from slowing down and living in the moment. Nowhere in the Bible does God tell us to hurry up and get 'er done. Rather, we are reminded in the Psalms that God "maketh me to lie down in green pastures." Why? So we can rest, enjoy, and talk with Him. So we can appreciate the beauty of the day. He wants us to have pleasure in living, not feel that we have to run a race.

To that end, today I am going to heat my coffee, sit on the porch, and read, knit, read some more, and build some castles in the air. I will do what a friend of mine calls prayer: whisper to God.

How will you spend your day?

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's On Me

Sunday the Airman was at the laundry mat getting his clothes ready for the week. As he stood, duffle bag over his shoulder and fighting with the change machine, a woman in her 70s came up and held out a roll of quarters.

"Here," she said, offering the roll to him.

"That's okay, ma'am," he replied. "I can get some change here."

"No," she insisted. "Take these, sir. It's on me."

He took the roll, "Thank you, ma'am."

 "No, thank you, sir."

And she walked away.

I love this country.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It Was Just Here!

You can see even the trees are confused! The maple on the right is all dressed for fall; the ginko isn't quite so sure! Honestly, it seems like we went to bed last night and it was summer and today, brrr, it is fall!

Every season has so much to offer, doesn't it?? Spring promises, summer challenges, fall teases, and winter snuggles. Each one is special and so very wonderful! Since I love wool, this cool weather is so promising! I can't wait to put on my first sweater of the season. The shawls have already been out for early morning wear, but are tossed aside by 10 a.m. because it is too hot. Today I will need to wear a sweatshirt to feed the gals. Sigh.

One of the best treats of cool fall nights is the fire we build in the outside fireplace. It sits, alone, isolated, and unused all summer. But, come fall and winter, we find ourselves outside as the sun sets, a small fire going in the fireplace, and watching the stars begin to prick the night sky. It is my favorite time of the year. Our breath hangs in the air, the dogs crowd our feet, and the cats knead out legs. It is perfect.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Water, Water Everywhere...

... and not a drop to drink. Or flush. Or wash. Or... well, you get the picture.

One of the joys of farm living is the wonderful water we have. For years I had a spring, but during the Big Drought of 1998-99, it went dry. In fact, from Boone to Wytheville one could see house next to house with a drill rig in the yard for those of us whose spring ran dry. Tough year -- and very expensive!

However, I left my spring intact, but capped off,  for "just in case" and drilled a well. A big, deep, fresh, lovely well. The water is nearly as good as what we have from the spring -- cool, soft, clear. But, from time to time, the pressure tank or pressure switch will zonk out on us and leave us without any water. This is one negative of the well. My spring ran on water pressure alone. It would run to the house without power and to the first floor bathroom which was particularly lovely when the power was out. The pump and well isn't quite so accommodating.

Such was the case this morning. I managed to brush my teeth, thank goodness, and make a pot of coffee before the pressure tank was dry dry dry as a bone! Since we were working all day, it didn't become an issue until we got home this afternoon. Even as I type the Mister is outside installing a new switch and adding pressure to the water tank to keep it from those terrible spurts of hot and then cold water. This makes me really happy because the old switch leaked pressure and nothing is worse than having a head covered in shampoo and then have the perfect water temperature suddenly shoot either south or north -- too hot or too cold. Yikes!

We so take for granted having running water, don't we? My Grandmother didn't have this luxury; I hauled water every time we visited her. We ran the path every time we had to potty and didn't even think twice about it. But, I have grown soft. Just knowing it isn't there makes me thirsty. I think I'll go see if there is any water left in the tea pot from last night. If it boils it isn't gross, is it??

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

There and Back Again

Can you imagine taking a class to Colonial Williamsburg for three days of exploration? What fun we had! The docents were remarkable! We learned that there might be ghosts. Cream of peanut soup is superior to any other soup -- at least today(yum). And, we explored nooks and crannies to our heart's desire.

Trip notables:
1. Some students had never been there and it is just five hours from here;
2. Even in a cast, one can explore the replicas of all three of Jamestown's original fleet;
3. Traditional Virginia food rocks: apple fritters, country ham, and crab cakes (OMGoodness);
4. A ferry ride is a super way to cross the James River (even if one has very sweaty palms!); and,
5. A runaway horse can create quite a bit of excitement!

Things we loved:
1. The Palace tour.
2. Experiencing George Washington addressing the City of Williamsburg about the small pox epidemic and why we should be innoculated.
3. Our wonderful docent, Pat, who was so poignant when sharing her excitement about Lady Virginia's christening and her deep compassion about the people in Boston who were starving in 1774 (the tour was set in that time).
4. Eating at (in no particular order): College Delly, the Cheese Shop, and the Surray House (drool).
5. Three days of living and breathing history and literature.

There is nothing like travel, but more than anything, there is nothing like coming home. Sigh. I missed the goats...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I'm a Fraud

Well, actually, I am who I say I am. I spin, weave, knit, milk goats, make soap, garden, sell at the farmer's market, and a myriad of other things. What I am not is perfect. My house is a mess most of the time. I am overweight. I can't make clever things from milk carton rings. Most times dinner is thrown together and we are darn lucky to have anything decent to eat because there are so many things going on during any given day. We eat a lot of soup and sandwiches.....

In short, I am human.

Sometimes it seems that another person's life is wonderful, perfect, peaceful, and, quite frankly, enviable. There seems to be a solitude or purpose that just, well, eludes us regular folks. But, I think, at the end of the day, we are all the same. We are doing the best we can in the situation or life we have.

Trust me.. you wouldn't want my life. But, I wouldn't want yours.

All the same, I find myself inspired and charmed by the many wonderful people I meet online. I know we are human and, thus, less-than-perfect. Yet, I find myself fascinated by how clever, talented, and positively generous folks are. Maybe this is the good part of instant communication and the voyeuristic peek into others' lives. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What We Did

While we were at Eglin, we went by the Forward Air Control monument for a friend's father whose wingman was shot down in Laos in 1966. We both wept.

And here is the handsome Airman. Every time I see him, he is more confident (like this was never a problem for him!) and more handsome. He is halfway through his technical school and has done well. I learned that nearly 75% of all candidates "double tap", which is "failed" to you and me, before this point in the training. This makes me even more proud of him because he has worked so hard to complete his training.

We also went to see the movie "Easy A" which made me laugh so hard! It was a great modern adaptation of "The Scarlett Letter" and, interestingly enough, I am teaching the novel next week. I can feel a field trip coming on!
The Destin Commons was also on our list of "to dos" this time. It is the neatest shopping area. Built like an old timey down town, there are a lot of lovely little shops along with food and theatre. We enjoyed lemon sorbet at Coldstone and people watching. The Airman is very much like his Mum in that he enjoys watching folks and trying to guess their backstory.
It was a great change - for me to fly down to see him without the Mister -- and I think we both completely enjoyed it! I can't wait to do it again!
As a side note: it is 45-degrees here today! Brr.....

Monday, October 4, 2010


For the past five weeks, Mondays have been terrible: poison ivy, foot, eyes, vertigo, and glasses....

Today is no exception.

I am the person on the sofa with pillows, blankets, hot tea, and all the herbs that should make me well. Cough cough cough.....

I hate Monday.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

First Day Musings -- In Which I Make Friends

New friends were made on my journey to see the Airman! Don't you just love traveling and meeting new folks??

As I boarded in Greensboro, a very nice man who worked for Delta for 30 plus years sat with me. He was a charming fellow who committed himself to keeping me calm. He was stellar. I was klutzy. By the way, did you know that a ball of yarn, on take off, will travel the entire length of an airplane?

From Atlanta to Pensacola, I sat safely nested in a circle of flight attendents trekking to retrieve a plane. They offered to hold my hands and made me laugh until Coke came out my nose. Not really. But, had I been drinking one, it would have!

The flight home gave me just another wonderful selection of travel companions. From Pensacola to Atlanta I enjoyed a very charming JAG officer. She was delightful and told me long stories of her travels to reassure me of how safe it is to fly. Can you believe she leaves home for months at a time, leaving her husband to care for their children? I am half in love with him!

Before I knew it, we were in Atlanta and I managed to find myself next to a terrific fella who worked for WalMart. While I don't particularly care for his employer, I was completely enchanted by this nice young man who takes his children on mission trips and has founded this very charity. I was impressed by how he and his family support this service and work together to make it happen. In fact, anyone in NW Arkansas might want to give them a look-see and perhaps volunteer a little time.

The time in Pensacola was even more pleasurable! I can't wait to share!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Keep the Home Fires Burning

Google images
The Airman is 28 tomorrow.
So is Epcot.
It is the anniversary of the Chicago Tylenol killings.
Sony CDs share this birthday, too.
Yeppers. A stellar historical day!
To celebrate, I am going to see the Airman while the Mister keeps the home fires burning. I am flying. Pray for the people on the plane. Did I mention I don't fly well?
Twelve years ago I took the Airman to England backpacking for three weeks for his 16th birthday (yes, we were still speaking when we got home).
You know it is going to be a bad flight when the plane can't make the concourse and you have to go to it on a bus.
And you have to sit on the tarmac for an hour.
And the pilot says, after the plane suddenly drops eight million feet, "Uh, ladies and gentlemen; please put on your seatbelts. We are going to try to make Charlotte in less time than scheduled. We have a little problem with the plane."
And then, when you are ready to land, two hours early (??), you are told to assume "impact positions."
And when you land you hear a remarkable crack and then nothing.
And then you see your son's hand in the air, three rows over, finger spelling his favorite swear word at the time.
And then you hear a thud!
Because another plane has backed into you.
Yah. I am super excited!
Have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banning Books??

Yeppers. It is banned book week! And to honor this wonderful week celebrating free thinking and the glorious opportunity we have in this country to select what we read (or don't), here is a list of the top 25 banned books:

1. Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling
2. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
4. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
6. Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz
7. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
8. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
9. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
10. Captain Underpants by Dave Pilkey
11. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
12. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
13. Forever by Judy Blume
14. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
15. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
16. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
17. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
18. King and King by Linda de Haan
19. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
20. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
21. The Giver by Lois Lowry
22. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
23. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
24. Beloved by Toni Morrison
25. The Face on the Milk by Carton Caroline Cooney

How many of these have you read?

Tomorrow I will share the Banned Book Event we held on campus today. Tonight, however, I am pooped. Dragging around my ball and chain have worn me out!

Happy reading!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Getting Normal

While I still have the cast, I have mastered driving, which is making me a happier gal. Today, I took myself to and from work. Yah!

What makes this most delightful are three things:

1) I no longer have to listen to the Mister's road rage.

2) I can listen to K-Love on the way to and from work without comments.

3) I got home early enough to have a wonderful cuppa and to catch up on my blog reading!

Life is good, ya'll, even if one is hobbling... At least I am hobbling!

I guess this is a segue to another thing on my mind -- my son's former fiance'. Her current boyfriend had a terrible accident in the summer and is paralyzed from the chest down. I love this girl so much and am heartbroken for their sadness. Will you help me remember them in your prayers? They need all the love they can get right now.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Day Musings -- Sitting Pretty

Learning to sit quietly this weekend is like going to a Southern religious retreat: there is a lot of praying, eating, and crying. Then, you kind of settle into a routine and all is calm. Mostly.

As the foot has been swelling like a good yeast bread this weekend, I have spent the greatest part of it on my least favorite part of my anatomy: my sitter. Not much happens when you are sitting, three miles from any neighbors, and it is raining. Coffee. Movies. Knitting. Grading. Reading. Repeat as needed.

So, let me entertain you with what I have been doing.

This is a scarf for M'Mere. She has asthma and cannot abide natural fibers. (So sad!) I discovered this lovely little fiber at Orchardside in July. It is Online, Linie 194, Solo, Colour 201 (black and white). It is a really neat pattern. Cast on 7-8 stitches by picking up along the edge of the "ribbon". Then, knit until you are exhausted. I have learned that I need to leave about one finger's width between each "stitch" to get the best looking ruffle.

This is the sweater for the new baby. I usually knit either a Five Hour Sweater or a Baby Surprise Sweater for new wee ones. But when Knit Simple came this month, I fell hard for the layette patterns. It is all in garter stitch, which is rather brainless and I can knit as the Mister drives me around (it cuts down on the use of the "Oh Rats!" bar). I had this Encore worsted weight that I bought on close out a while back. I just loved the stripes and, since we don't know if it is a dude or dudette, I decided this would work for either. When I am done, there will be a sweater, hat, booties, and blankie. I'll show all when done.

I have graded all my papers and read a little bit. And, I have seen ALL of "Independence Day", "Chronicles of Narnia", and "Inspector Lewis." Yah. Fun times. Oh, and I am drinking decaf... to be safe...

How's your weekend??

Friday, September 24, 2010


Something in this house stinks. I mean STINKS. I have looked everywhere and cannot find it. No rotten taters. Or onions. No unfortunate Wookie boo-boos. No sour laundry. No trash. Compost. Recyclables.

I've checked the Mister's shoes and mine. Looked behind the sofa and under His chair.

The bathroom has been scrubbed.

My search even went out to the porch, but Absolutely Nothing.

In short, my house smells weird and I can't find the source.

No one is getting in until I find it. I hate when this happens.

Added later: I found it! Wookie's food formulation has apparently changed. Mystery solved. Glad it wasn't the Mister. I have gotten used to him....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Say Cheese!

When one has been a good girl all week and not cried about having no wheels, she gets a fancy dinner at a fine restuarant and her picture taken with her hero! I just wish you could see the lovely green cast...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Basket safety: steel toe boots

I have a monster Longaberger Hope Chest basket complete with maple top. Last night I went to retrieve yarn for the new baby (Sara and Julian are due in October) and put the lid on the top of the cedar chest. As I leaned over, the top slid off the chest and straight down on my bare foot.

I'll be in the cast and walking boot for at least through hay season...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

First Day Musings -- Save it!

Seeds drying from the Georgia Candy Roaster Squash
Black Forest Winter Squash, Sweet Dumpling Squash, Georgia Candy Roaster Squash, Buttercup Squash, Cinderella Pumpkins, Jarrahdale Pumpkins... The names are musical to the ear and the fruit is lovely to the eye! These are the fall crops we have harvested this past week. And what a lovely crop we gleaned! We are all thrilled with the variety and the colours of our fall goodies. And, apparently our customers at the farmer's market found our treasures just as appealing!
Each of the varieties is an heirloom, which means that we can save the seeds and plant them next year. For us, this is a given; we try to only use heirlooms as we are fearful of the Genetically Modified seeds and produce. Our bodies are not created to deal with foods that are not natural. We don't have the amino acids or the chemistry to deal with unfamiliar compounds. A case in point is artificial sweeteners. Research shows that these pass through our systems unprocessed because our bodies do not know what to do with them. So, it stands to reason that GMO foods will pass through our systems without our bodies gleaning every single ounce of nutrition from the food.
And, saving heirloom seeds is important for another reason. What if crops fail and seeds are not available for next year's plantings? What then?
Such was the case here in our little corner of the mountains some 75 years ago. A terrible drought strangled crops in the fields. Food supplies diminished, but being good mountain folks, enough was put by for the next year. But, when the next summer came and the reserve seeds were planted, another drought dried crops in the fields. While folks still had food to eat (we hunt, fish, and scavenge quite well, thank you), no one had seeds for the next year's crop. Except one rather odd woman who lived alone on her farm. She saved her seeds every year. Jar after jar lined her barn shelves and spilled over into her house. Spare rooms overflowed with seed jars, each carefully labeled, their contents safely stored against possible want.
Hat in hand, the community leaders (read: pastors) called on her. She didn't keep the Sabbath with them. She had been an outsider because of her "odd" ways. Yet, she pleasantly greeted her visitors, inviting them to sit in the yard under an old, dying chestnut tree. She offered them water from the spring and a slice of tall, rich pound cake, which they eagerly took. No one in the mountains conducts business on an empty stomach.
After a little chat about the dry weather, the men broached the subject of the seeds. She listened patiently. Personally, I think she knew what they were there for and just wanted to see how long it would take for them to ask. Mountain men hate to ask women for anything and won't look 'em in the face when they do.
Finally, the presentation was over. She sat quietly, knitting in her lap. She brushed her apron smooth and paused, "Well, I guess I could share some." It was arranged that each family would receive what they needed and no more. And, each person had to save their seeds, all their seeds, in the next crop. She calculated that she had enough for each person in our district for two years. Surely, she pondered, God would send rain.
Well, of course you know He did and the next year's crops were abundant. Seeds were saved and are still passed down in families. And, such are the crops many of us still grow -- such as the Candy Roaster.
Do you save seeds??

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Archaic Silliness

The Mister and I have different last names. I have opted to continue using my maiden name; he uses his. We had a long discussion about it and decided that it was silly to change names. Frankly, both of us have fine families and, thus, fine name recognition. Heck, his great-great Uncle was a noted Civil War General and never took the oath of allegience after the "recent unpleasantness." I'd be honored to have his family name. But, it is not MY family name.

I have grown used to answering the question: "Why do you have different names?" His mother tells people I have a "professional" name which makes me feel like a stripper or something. My answer is much more direct: "I offered him my name, but he just wouldn't budge." And that usually ends it.

This has become annoying recently. We are in the process of conducting a legal business transaction. Would you believe I had to write the board a letter explaining WHY I use a different name. For crying out loud, who cares? It is our business. All my personal information is accurate. There are no descrepencies.So, why does it matter that I have a different name? I am not his property nor is he mine. He does not control me or my career, nor do I his. And this is why women started taking their husband's last name. It was a show of ownership.

Don't get me wrong. I adore my Mister. I am glad we are spending our lives together building our dreams and goals. He is my other half. I waited a long time for him and glad he finally showed up! However, I am sick unto death of having to justify a personal decision.

What do you think? Do you think married couples should have the same last name? Or, should that be as personal as their china pattern?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dumb, but true

For several weeks now I have been dealing with a slight vertigo. This isn't unusual as I have a spinal cord injury that often will get irritated and give me a little case of it. And, I have seasonal allergies in the spring and fall, so I usually don't get too torn up over it. Until now. It has reached the point of disturbing my life, so I knew I had to see someone.

Today, I went to the eye doctor as it seemed to be related to my vision. She poked, prodded, dilated, and pressure checked very carefully. She double checked her findings. I followed the little light, looked at her nose, and traced her fingers. Nothing. Then, she checked my specs.

The ones I am wearing are six weeks old. When the optomitrist checked my eyes, he commented that they had seriously changed and my astigmatism was really worse. Oh well, I thought. That is what comes with getting older. When my glasses came, they troubled me, but I tried to slog through it. Twice, twice!!, I returned to have 'em checked. "They are fine," I was told.

No, they weren't.

New glasses are on the way and I have to suffer with these another week. My father reminded me that this happened to me when I first started wearing glasses. Go figure. Some people have all the luck!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Clarice at Storybook Woods has just released her book "Wren Bay." Clarice generously invited me to read the book before publication and I am here to tell you, it is a tender, well-written novel about a young woman learning to make home just that -- home. There are receipts and ideas that will inspire your homemaking tendencies and wet your appetite!

Won't you pay her a visit, congratulate her on her first novel, and order one for yourself? You'll be glad you did!

Congratulations, Clarice! I am so very proud of you!

First Day Musings -- Autumn is Here... Maybe...

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile. -- William Cullen Bryant

After summer's heat, there is nothing so delicious as having to sleep with a light blanket -- even though the windows are open and it is a choice to be a little chilly in the night. Waking to find the sun just creeping above the mountains, gently caressing the ridges rather than thunder over the mountains is another treat and makes Autumn so special.

I love the crispness of the evenings, the mist rolling up the hollar, the night calls of the birds as they tuck into bed. The pumpkins are harvested and fill the bench and old fashioned wheelbarrow on the front porch. Potatoes are drying on screens, getting ready to either go into the cool storage or the market.

Ground is turned up, moist rich soil covering the remnants of summer's bounty. Greens are sown; parsnip, turnip, carrot, and beet seeds are made ready to broadcast in the gardens to get a good start for winter and early spring. Once winter's cold arrives, mulch will cover them to extend their season. It is an experiment this year. I have been reading Eliot Coleman's "Four Season Harvest" and have decided to give his theories a go. We'll see what winter and spring bring with these crops.

As it cools down, I start scanning more shawl patterns -- can one have too many?? -- and getting sweaters out to wear. I love how they smell -- all lavendar-y from being stored with sprigs of lavendar to keep the moths out. It is shameful how many handknits I have; it is an addiction and something that I, actually, am rather proud of! The Mister, on the other hand, stays too warm to wear handknits and the Airman, well, he was born sweating as well... So, I indulge myself with all the lovely fibers I find.

Autumn -- where we start the morning with layers of sweaters, blouses, and capris, shedding the sweaters by mid-day. Autumn -- where summer pats our cheeks, kisses our noses, and wishes us well in Winter. Autumn -- where we slow down, sip apple cider, and begin dreaming about spring.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Native Lessons

Did you know that the Monacans were chosen at random to leave the Ohio Valley when the Aboriginals had over populated the region? And, did you know they were a peace loving and sedentary (meaning they lived in one place and didn't move) tribe? And, would you believe that they were pushed out of their territory in Central Virginia by the Iroqois?

Our class was so fortunate to have a fabulous docent, Victoria Ferguson, meet us at Natural Bridge and share her immense and personal knowledge of the tribe. Victoria, a Monacan tribal member, works with her husband and the other docents to bring authenticity to the village at Natural Bridge. No bigger than rabbit, to quote "Swingblade", Victoria quickly brings authority and dignity to her presentation. She is energetic, interesting, and proud of her heritage. Her research shows in the common sense analysis she brings to her talk.

We learned so many things in the two hours she so generously gave us! Among the most interesting to the class were:
  • The Monacans' oral tradition focuses more on survival than religion. As Victoria stated, "Which would you try to learn? How to pray or how to live? I suspect to live. For this reason, the oral tradition focuses more on how to survive than to pray. I can do that on my own!"
  • Monacans' lived in at-tees which were constructed of saplings strapped to form a foundation and then covered with what appears to be thatch from cattails. They did not use bark or skins as these were not as readily available as the cattails.
  • After contact with the Europeans, the Aboriginals became more possession oriented and began to exploit natural resources to trade with the Europeans. This caused turf wars as well as murder and loss of food goods (such as deer) necessary for survival.
  • And, most tragically, the Aboriginals suffered heavy loss of tribal members (nearly 80-percent) within 10 years of contact with the Europeans. Talk about genocide...

What an interesting day! I will have pictures to share in the next day or so. Our class is constructing an online resource so that we can share our experiences.

Who can guess where we might go in October? I am up for guesses!