Monday, May 31, 2010

Always Remember!

Please remember those who served and gave all;
those who served with honor; and
those who serve today.
And, most of all, please remember our Nation.
We need it.
God bless America.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

First Day Musings -- Look UP!

It has always been a contridiction to me that our First Parents, Adam and Eve, were created to garden, but also were created to LOOK UP to Our Father. But, they fell from grace and had to begin looking down with every step because their way was no longer smooth nor safe.

Think of it, they walked in the cool of the day in the garden and talked with Our Father. But, once they fell, they no longer walked in the cool of the day and chatted. Oh no. Now, they had to look down because, while they were blessed with life and the opportunity to come to the Father, they had to watch where they were going because it was rocky and thorny -- no longer smooth and clear.

I thought of this as Shelly and I planted in the garden yesterday. Don was tilling. Every little bit, one of us had to stop, pick up a stone or rock, and then toss it to the side. As I plant, I always ask that the seeds be blessed and multiply to provide food for us and those we share it with. But, I am looking down and not up. And, while I am chatting with my Father, we were certainly not in the cool of the day!

To me, the greatest loss of the fall is not only the separation of us from God and being able to look up in our work, but also the fact that we have to earn our way looking down. We miss so much by looking down, don't we? Sighing as we catch the beauty of the sky as wisps of clouds skirt across; wondering over the streaks of light captured in the moisture of a coming storm; or admiring the joy of a solitary bird as it dips and soars, catching the wafts of air currents. Truthfully, how many of us stop each day, look up, and admire those wonderful things above us, created for our joy and pleasure?

Let's make it a promise; let's agree to stop in our day, look up and, perhaps, sing to ourselves these lovely words:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
--- Thomas Ken

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Only 463 To Go

I loved the last towel I wove so much that I decided to make some more. The pattern is from Handwoven, March / April 2002, and features five towels that can be woven from the same warp. This means that I can "dress" (thread) the loom one time and get five different patterns from the dressing. This is very good as it takes a bit to get the loom ready. In fact, I already have three hours into these new towels and the loom isn't even dressed for weaving.

The pattern, for a 20" towel, takes 488 ends (threads). These are each six feet long. After they are each measured on a warping board or wheel (we have wheels -- me and Evelyn), they are carefully taken to the loom, put in a the little "cross holder" that Deniece made us, and then plucked off and tied to the warp still on the loom from the last towels.

If I were starting from scratch, I would have to thread the reed (the bit in the front that you see the threads tied against) and then again, following the pattern, through the heddles (you can't see these in this picture; I'll try to get another one when I have the loom dressed so you can see it). Then, the threads are tied to the back beam and carefully wound around the beam until it is nearly all taken up. Next, the threads are tied to the front beam, tension checked, a header woven to separate the threads, and then, off you go!

While this seems very tedious, once the loom is dressed, it is possible to weave forever, if you like the pattern, from the one dressing. As much as I love these towels, it is possible that I will see if it is true.

The fiber I am using is a French linen, a little thicker than a good quilting thread. Before you think I am extravagent, I purchased the leftover fiber from a guild member when she finished a project. I have just enough for the warp (the bit I am doing now). The weft, which is what I will weave with, is different in colour, being a more creamy beige. However, I think the two will blend nicely. We'll see. If I don't like it, I can always use another fiber for the next towel.

As I sit working on loom Roanoke / Evelyn, I think about our great-grandmas and their spinning and weaving for their families. Do you know that in just one day of spinning just the yarn for enough material for a dress a woman would walk more than 20 miles using a walking wheel (that great big wheel -- think "Little House on the Prairie")? Then, after all that walking, she would have to dress a loom with more than 25 miles of thread before she could even begin to weave the fabric that she would process into garments. Makes shopping seem so, well, easy, doesn't it?

What are you working on these days? Are you keeping your "hands to work and hearts to God"?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Just say "No"

All my life I have been a pleaser. I take on 1,000,000 things I cannot accomplish just because I can't say, "No, thank you." This has lead to me gaining weight, spending money, owning things I don't like or want, and tied up in situations that gave me hives.

This has all changed.

I don't know if it is my age or just my season in life, but "no" is getting easier and easier to say. Today I was asked to judge a writing contest. I have done this for ten years, usually at the last minute. It takes a lot of time and effort as these are children's and teen-agers' writing and the level of authorship is, er, interesting. It is important to me that I do my very best to be fair and encouraging to each. So, nearly a week is lost while I read 40-50 short stories and respond to them each. The usual email arrived this morning asking me to judge. It took three seconds for me to decide "no" was the best answer.

Even I was shocked.

I am learning to turn down invitations and offers galore. Why, just today, I turned myself down on seconds to the warm banana bread.

Is it easy for you to say "no" or do you give in? How do you do it gracefully?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

First Day Musings -- Today's Four Lessons

Today nearly got past me!

Hollie and Copper escaped early last week so they could join the herd across the road. There are many things wrong with this, but the most important is that they are not home where they belong. We have tried in vain to catch them all week -- even enduring a soaking rain in stiff wind one afternoon. Terrible.

So this morning, Don looked out and there they were, in the bottom field, without all the other cows. Very long story short, we caught Hollie and got her home (even having to cut the fence to get her through it) and Copper, being a Momma's boy, came shortly after.

After breakfast, I attended this dear little church near here. I am Quaker and there are no Baltimore group meetings in our region. The nearest is more than an hour and I can't justify that because, well, it goes against a whole lot of things I believe in -- especially treading gently on the earth. So, I have met by myself for a long time. I have tried visiting other churches, but, frankly, I don't like being yelled at. I want to listen to God and have some nudging by another like-minded soul which will help me grow in my faith.

So, I decided to try this little church near here. The congregation is tiny (21 this morning, including the pastor), but their service is sincere and thought-provoking. I left feeling closer to my Creator than I have in a long time. It was a time to really stop and consider how my life is lived.

After I got home, we were eating lunch when Daddy called to announce my Uncle had a bee swarm. We loaded up and flew to his house where Don bravely mounted the ladder, cut the tree limbs, gingerly dismounted the ladder, and flipped the bees into the waiting hive. They were nearly all in the hive within 15-minutes of his capturing them. We will pick up the hive tomorrow evening about dusk, so that we can be sure all the 'strays' are safely housed.

The rest of the evening has been pretty normal -- visit my parents, see two sets of my dearest Aunties and Uncles, feed the goats, chickens, and cows, fix our dinner, clean up the kitchen, feed the bees, and now, sit down before going to bed. As Grandmother said, "I am resting before I go to bed."

Today has reminded me of four lessons that are important to hold onto, at least for me.

Never give up. Just as catching the cows was a longer than expected challenge, we stuck with it and got 'em home -- even if we did have to slog through the creek three times. We did, finally, accomplish our goal.

Visit God at His house. There is something about that sacred place that makes His love and guidance tangible. Besides, He is always coming to yours; repay the kindness.

Appreciate what you ask for. Every year I ask God for bee swarms. We want to go into pollination, but hives are not cheap. Just the bees are $75-85 per hive. Add the woodenware and you have quite an expense. Swarms are a very cost effective means to grow our "herd." Although we had to drive an hour, we are grateful for the bees and the opportunity to visit with two sets of favorite Aunties and Uncles as well as my parents.

Rejoice in little things. Sitting down feels good tonight. I have done my best all day. Grandmother Arrington would say, "I am glad I can work" when she was 85. Now, I understand. There is something powerful in being able to use your body to serve. Be it human or critter, all appreciate what another does for them.

Did you learn anything today??

Friday, May 21, 2010

I'm Bushed!

It is 12:45 and I am worn out.
This is Friday morning at Lazy Bee Farm.

5:30: Wake up, remember I don't have to go to work, roll over, back to sleep.
5:45: Someone else has to go to work (Don), I get up and make sourdough pancakes that I started last night.

This is the last time I checked the clock until now.
This is what else has been done today, thus far:
Made one loaf sourdough and one loaf lemon twist bread.

Washed two loads of clothes, hung on line.

Checked goats, chickens, ducks, turkey, and chicks.

Answered emails.

Chased bucks back into fence.
Swept kitchen.
Washed dishes.

Made soap.
Chased bucks back into fence.

Washed dishes.

Made baby bee food.
They are making foundation and are eating 40-50 pounds of syrup PER DAY right now.

Washed dishes. (There is only me at home. Where are they coming from??)
Cleared, dusted, rearranged one bookshelf.

Rushed to town to make a deposit, mail checks;
see optometrist and drop off unused cell phones to women's shelter.

Sorted recycleables after washing recycling bins.
Emptied household trash. Trash is only visible to those with an X chromosone, btw.

Chased bucks back into fence. (Where are they escaping??)
Cleaned refrigerator.

Prepared eggs for farmer's market.

Answered and made phone calls.

Made reservations to see a play in June.

Chased bucks back into fence. (I cannot find the blasted hole!)

Folded laundry.
Fixed lunch.

Okay. So tell me. How do I find time to hold a job?

Oops! There go the bucks again!

Friday, May 14, 2010

What a Great Day!

My lovely birthday started with picking strawberries with Mother and Don. We had four gallons in less than 45 minutes because the fields were so abundant and clean! Such fun! (How many people do you know LIKE to pick berries -- especially on their birthday?)

We enjoyed carrot cake and coffee with my parents and then took off for the Chick-fil-a Grand Opening i n Wilkesboro. I wore my "Chick-fil-a" shirt although the rest of me was somewhat muddy from the berry field.

As we walked in, one of the managers greeted us, "Welcome to Chick-fil-a!" and I jokingly replied, "Thank you so much for opening for my birthday! What a great present!"

He got the last word (believe me, this is rare) when he turned to the staff and announced, "It's Matty's birthday!" and everyone started singing. Soon, the entire restaurant was singing loud and clear while I directed and grinned. I gave my "Queen Elizabeth" wave, laughed as hard as I have ever laughed, and enjoyed a wonderful complementary meal along with birthday cake (shared with a lovely man from the corporate office who shared my birthday -- although a decade younger!). I can die happy now!

The afternoon ended with our going to retrieve "Loom Roanoke" (which is now going to be dubbed "Evelyn" after my friend from whom I bought it) and bring her home. Right now she fills the living room floor while I finish weaving a towel off her. Once the towel is done, I will take the loom apart and move her to the upstairs landing where the previous owner had her barn loom. There is something so magical about having the loom where Ms. Bessie had hers.

After such a fun day, who can face the boring stuff of today?? Dump runs (yes, runs), repair shop for the mower AND the tiller, getting ready for the farmer's market tomorrow, and all the usual things that go into keeping Lazy Bee Farm.

I do think I will wear my Chick-fil-a paper hat while I do my work. What do you think??

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Birthday!

In honor of my birthday, Chick-fil-a opened a new store in Wilkesboro today. Guess what I am doing today??

In other news, I always pick strawberries on my birthday. Yum. Can you say "strawberry jam"?

Hugs to you all! Gee, I don't feel older...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Where is Spring?

It is 47-degrees this morning. Wait. Yesterday it was 29-degrees at 6 a.m.

Where is spring?

My winter coat is packed up. My sweats are up in the attic. Oh, did I mention that my ice scraper had been stowed, too?? Yeppers. Needed 'em all.

Only one bit of joy in all this.

We have only planted potatoes. Thank goodness. Many of my friends have lost their entire garden in this late freeze.

Procrastinators everywhere, rejoice! We finally won one!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

I was born on Mother's Day and was the first born, so I always tell my Mother, "Happy Mother's Day from the one who made you a Mom on your day!" And we laugh about how she was "lucky" enough to have me on Mother's Day and then my brother on Father's Day the very next year. My sister, we joke, was an accident because she wasn't born on any special day. When Sissie was small, she'd cry, but now she just replies that her being born on that day made it a special day. Touche'.

Another lovely tradition I have is giving Mother a present on my birthday. Every few years, it is double duty, Mother's Day and my birthday, so she really racks up!

Today, we are cooking her dinner and I have bought flowers to replenish the large, wrought iron planter I gave her last year. We will plant them together, talking and laughing the entire time.

And, the most wonderful gift this year is a full leg of lamb. I know. It sounds odd. But Mother loves loves loves lamb, but she won't pay the price for it. She usually cooks it for Easter, but after the unfortunate observation by her English professor daughter (that would be me) that we were having a symbolic meal, she won't prepare it any more. However, this year, she has been jonesing for it. The vendor next to me at the farmer's market yesterday had this lovely leg of lamb, pasture raised, so into the cooler it went and off to Mother's it goes.

Let me add here: I think this will confirm me as "favorite daughter" for the time being!

What will you do for your Mom today?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Let's Have Fun!

New theory: Whatever we do MUST be fun! Agreed?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Confession and all that...

Fifteen years ago, I broke my neck in a freak fall down some steps. I was lucky as I recovered after six months following surgery and prayer. While I still have left-sided weakness on occassion, and a little vertigo, I am nearly perfect in that area. But, my doctor wanted me to lose 75 pounds. I did.

Now, I have gained back 20 of 'em.

This is what has started the walking and exercising again. I can't lift my left leg when I am tired. So, here I am, plugging up and down the road with Kathy Smith, who, btw, I don't like today. How can anyone be so perky when making another so miserable??

Yesterday I had a little incident that I didn't share, but it is just too funny to keep secret.

Bear in mind, we are in the country and have no neighbors for three miles. So, when nature calls, we slip behind a bush and answer, if it is convenient and an emergency. It was.

I carefully looked up and down the road, listened for car noises, slipped off the road and behind a nice tall bush. Moose joined me. Nosey.

Because my legs were shaking from walking so hard, I couldn't quite get "the posture." But, I thought I was "in position" enough to be safe.

Then, I realized there was no splashing.

To add insult to injury, not only did I nearly crawl the rest of the way home, but I had to do it in soggy duds.

Today? I drank when I got home. Better safe than sorry.

Joy, joy, joy!

All my grades are posted. Sigh. With 165 students, it has been interesting to keep up with all the work this semester.

Summer school starts May 24 and I have to get those two classes ready. But, for now, I have only graduation on Friday night and in-service on Tuesday.

I think I need an eclair and a creme soda. Care to join me??

And then, I have a wonderful novel to finish reading for a friend. It is really good and I have been dying to get back to it!

Enjoy this day, ya'll!

Monday, May 3, 2010

How'd it happen??

I can't walk two miles anymore without needing oxygen.

Excuse me while I flop in the floor, weep, and try to catch my breath...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Don't Look Under

My Regalia at graduation! This is what you will see:


is a hottie!
The Old Manse Concord, MA A property of the Trustees of Reservations

The tee shirt is from my friend Tom Beardsley at the Old Manse, Concord, MA.
Isn't it scandalous??