Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's Better Homemade

The last four days have found me either languishing on the sofa, bed, or in my favorite chair. Some very nasty little guy at Walmart who was in the Christmas spirit decided to share his crud. If I live and if I find him, I will lick his face. Hard.

In the meantime, I haven't really wanted to eat anything. After all, food isn't very good if one has no sense of taste. But, today, the thought of tomato soup was enough to make me take up my bed and walk... all the way to the kitchen... Since commercial soups seem to have high fructose corn syrup added, I opted to make my own. This is what I made:

Tomato Soup

2 T. olive oil
2 T. chopped onion
1 T. chopped garlic
1/2 t. ginger powder (or 1/4 c. chopped ginger -- I used the powder)
1 can or jar of tomatoes
1 c. vegetable or chicken broth (I used veggie bouillon)
1/2 c. milk  (or almond milk)

Cook onion and garlic for one minute in olive oil. Add ginger, tomatoes, broth, and milk. Heat to just boiling (milk will curdle if it gets too hot too quickly).

Slowly put soup in blender and liquefy. Reheat and serve with one tablespoon mozzarella cheese as a garnish.

Add a few good crackers (we like the Kashi multi-grain) and you have a great lunch with the added benefits of a lot of vitamin C and garlic for that nasty cold.


Monday, December 26, 2011

The Between Time

The time between Christmas and New Year's has always felt a lot like the lost weekends of a misspent youth. You know it is there, but what to do with it, or worse still, what you did with it is beyond you.

When should you take down the Christmas decorations? Keeping the Christmas decorations up for a few more days feels like the right thing to do, but then you are fearful that you will get caught on New Year's Day with them still up. By then life is "normal", whatever that is, and you might not get them down until Labor Day --- which might not be a bad thing since most stores seem to start putting out Christmas items on Halloween.

How long after Christmas should you play Christmas music? Is there someone at the radio station who watches the countdown clock, kind of like that doomsday clock you hear about from time to time, and, when it hits Midnight on December 25 all the Christmas music is put safely back in the lock box until next Halloween? Confidentially, I have a friend who plays it all year round. She also still has her inside nativity (which was an outside one, but she liked it so much she wanted it inside) up until after Easter.

Is it poor taste to mail Christmas cards after Christmas Day? Should you put a note in that you just recovered from Monkeypox and you are sorry these are late? Or should you confess that you are a loser and just didn't get them done before the last mail call on December 24? I wonder if there is a post date option on special mailings from the post office? There should be. It would help their bottom line, frankly.

What about Christmas returns? Do they have to be done before the New Year or can you wait? Trust me; I had to run to the hardware store, big box store, and grocery store today. You Don't Want To Willingly Do That. Seriously.

Is it considered poor style to spend the "between" week sleeping and eating all the candy you got for Christmas? Everyone Knows that after the New Year you are going on a diet and start exercising. And, it is, after all, a sin to waste anything you can eat. Sugar rushes only last a few hours; go for it!

As you can see, this between time has me very confused. Personally, I don't think I will deal with it At All. Chick-fil-a still has peppermint shakes available, even though it is "for the holiday and a limited time." Now this is the way to spend the between time. Care to join me??

Friday, December 23, 2011

Deep Sigh and Love Feast

The Airman left this morning at 7 a.m. which means we had to leave the farm at 2:45 to get him there on time. Once again, the airline was Wonderful and allowed me to go back and stay with him until his flight left. I am forever touched by the kindness of people to my son. As we went through the security line, the TSA man checked the Airman's id and then thanked him for his service. How generous!

It took another three hours to get home --- meaning that out of this day (check my post time: 10:15 a.m.) -- I have spent six hours driving.

And now, it is time to get one with what I hope to accomplish for the holiday break.... if I can keep my eyes open!

We will have lunch with my parents tomorrow and that is all the Christmas we will do, unless we go to the Love Feast at the local Moravin Church. If you haven't been to one, let me share what it is. The Moravins practice "breaking the bread" at Christmas. They make wonderful buns which are served with a very creamed coffee during the worship service. The service itself is mostly song (which I love as Quakers don't usually have music in meeting) and there is even a brass band. There is a short homily focused usually on Christian love and the Miracle of His Birth which is given while the buns and coffee are distributed. The final hymn focuses on the "light of the Christ" (the song "Morning Star") and all attendees have a small beeswax candle (with a red paper ruffle around it) which is lit from one candle to another. It is magic!

Moravin Love Feast Buns

Heat oven to 375 degrees



1 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
4 -5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
2 eggs, beaten


1/4 cup cold butter
8 teaspoons sugar


Place cubed potato and enough water to cover in small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook potatountil fork-tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the potato water. Mash potato to measure 1/2 cup; set aside. In the same saucepan combine potato water, 1/4 cup of water and1/2 cup butter. Heat until very warm (120 to 130 degrees F).

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, the sugar,salt, and yeast; mix well. Add warm potato water mixture; beat until well blended. Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.

Grease cookie sheets.

Punch down dough several times to remove all air bubbles. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead dough 6 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Divide dough into 16 pieces. Shape each into smooth, round bun; place on greased cookie sheets.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and cloth towel. Let rise in warm place (80 to 85 degrees F) until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Uncover dough. Cut 1/4 cup cold butter into 16 equal pieces. Press one piece into the center of each bun. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gritting My Teeth

There are very few things that make me grit my teeth. One of them is the movie "Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer." Maybe it is because I don't care for stop action animation. Or, I don't care for the songs. Or, maybe, just maybe, it is a very annoying movie in general. Whatever it is, when we are going through our 30 days of Christmas movie marathon, I dread when this one comes up.

The music gives me a twitch, frankly. It is superficial and makes my head ache. It seems to me that the lyricist had to strain to find a reason to even write some of the songs, such as "Silver and Gold." Bleh.

The storyline is weak. Come on, why do we have to go to the Island of Misfit Toys? Seriously?? Santa's elves are such poor makers that their work is less than perfect? I doubt it.

And then there is the whole "I Wanna Be a Dentist" storyline. I'm sorry. When I hear that line all that I can think of is "Little Shop of Horrors" and this song:

In fact, let's just watch this and forget that "Rudolf" exists.... Excuse me while I go to my happy place...Enjoy!

Is there a "Christmas" movie that gives you a shiver? Come on, 'fess up!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

First Day Musings --- Under Tension

If you look carefully, you can see there are three
different patterns in the towels. I haven't cut them
apart yet, so they are difficult to photgraph.

Everyone was gone last night, so I sat down to the living room loom and finished weaving the towels. They are wonderful and I am very pleased with them. As I cut them off the loom, they sprang to life. Under tension, you see, things on the loom look very different. The texture is different --- tighter and more stretched out, less detail. And the shape even changes --- things "relax" when the tension is released, allowing the project to transform into the shape it is meant to be. These are fascinating things, really, because everything on a loom starts out square or rectangle. It is the nature of it. And, all things are "put on" the same -- with warps and then wefts. Yet, each project emerges differently. It makes me think of knitting where one uses only two stitches, a knit or purl, and yet the options seem numberless.

And, so it is with life.

We are all born with essentially the same things .. eyes, ears, hands, brain... desires, dreams, hopes... Yet, it is what we do with them, especially under tension, that determines what we become.

I reflected on this as I dropped off to sleep the other night. Then, I dreamt of the option of going back into my life and changing Just One Thing. Instantly, I was whisked back to when I was 28 in my little dear house in Florida. I loved that house. My life seemed perfect. It was just me and the Airman. I had a good job and was getting by. But, I made a decision that changed my path forever.

As I stood there in my back doorway, looking over the garden and all my fruit trees (I even had an avacado tree --- heaven!), I realized that there was no place to put my goats or chickens. This made me unhappy and I realized that I didn't want to change that moment or any other. Each had lead me to where I am Right Now. And, Right Now, I am satisfied. I woke up content and somewhat astonished by the realization.

Aren't there times we want to go back and change Just One Thing so our lives would be perfect (or so we want to believe)? Yet, if we did, we would not enjoy the many things we love now. It is rather like my weaving project. I had one warp on the loom, but had the option of making five different patterned towels based on just how I raised the harnesses. Each is unique, but each started with the same stuff. It was what I chose that made the difference.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Looking for Jesus for Christmas

My Sissie wants a Baby Jesus in a Manger for Christmas. Today, the Airman and I went looking for one in Boone. Ten stores later, we had yet to find Him.

We did find:

Santa and children
Santa and reindeer
Santa and cookies
Shiny packages (that light up!)
Palm trees with lights
72 sizes of Christmas trees and 16 different colours (don't ask!)
M&M guys

No Jesus. No Nativity. Nothing related to the reason for the holiday...

I am puzzled. Where is Jesus? What has happened to Him at this time of year? Better offer? Left town? Or have we forgotten Him?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Joyful Things

These are things to make one joyful:

Having the Airman home -- healthy, strong, happy!
Decorating the house and making it homey and comfy.
Enjoying fresh eggs for breakfast.
Finding beautiful shebert coloured tea roses on sale at the grocery store.
Noshing fresh lettuce, a tad tart!, from a friend's winter garden.
Walking a country road with a certain Mother and Daddy and rejoicing they are still here and able to do so!
Admiring the stars as they twinkle into being one at a time in the early December dusk.
Giggling over the Airman's latest tales.
Watching a Christmas movie with the Mister.
Celebrating life!

Here's sending you a Joyful Day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pray and Push

Late yesterday I had to run to the Mt. Airy farm for hay. When I got there, our farm hand decided he "didn't feel like loading the hay" and left. (May be looking for a job, soon! :) ). I loaded it myself. All 22 bales. That is all my little truck will hold even when it is stacked three rows high.

When I got home, after dark, the Mister was here.
"Who helped you?" he asked.

"I did it myself. C didn't 'feel like it,'" I responded.

After he unloaded four bales for this morning's feeding, with a promise to finish tonight, he remarked, "some of them were pretty stout. How'd you do it?"

"I prayed and pushed," I giggled.

I think he has a new respect for me! And, I think I learned a life lesson -- pray and push no matter how hard!

What are you doing today? Any baking going on?? I smell sugar cookies from someplace.....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


When the Airman was a wee lad, I was nursing him one evening and singing (er, wailing) "House at Pooh Corner." He turned his face from my breast and, as milk ran down his little fat cheeks, he put up one tiny hand, placed it over my mouth, and said his first word, "NOOOOOO!!!!!"

Since then, I have sung little in public, but today, my friends, I am singing to the roof tops. My Airman is coming for Christmas!

Grades are all done. And, while the weaving isn't, I am decorating today like it is nobody's business! And, as I pull things from the attic, I am singing my favorite Christmas song: "O Come, Immanuel."

There was a TRIPLE rainbow this morning, so I am taking it as a sign that this will be a glorious day!

Hope yours is as well.

And, for your listening pleasure, how about a little Loggins and Messina??

Saturday, December 10, 2011

First Day Musings -- Do It Now!

One of my biggest faults is the fact that I have a tendancy to procrastinate. A lot. It's not that I don't want to do the things I say I will, but that it seems so many things get on the plate that I put off many of those that aren't like dessert. Let's face it, we all would rather have dessert than the liver, right?

I read some place that procrastinating was like carrying around a huge weight on one's back. Until we complete the tast, it looms over us rather like the Sword of Damocles. This is a fact and I can attest to it! Whenever I do this I always promise myself that I won't do it again and that I will be more focused Next Time and Get It Done -- whatever "it" may be.

Now, you ask, how has that worked for me?? Not Too Good. A few years ago, I put together a list of all the started projects. I am ashamed to admit that it filled a legal pad page and then some. Yeppers. That's me. What happened? Well, I put off looking at it until I lost it, of course!

As we are approaching the New Year, I have been thinking of what my new word will be. This year it was moderation and I feel that I did pretty good -- all things considered. I didn't work too much as I took this past summer off from teaching. I didn't grow a big garden or can anything. After all, we need to eat the 57 quarts of green beans we have already (Have I mentioned that I don't like green beans... so why do we have 'em?? For the MIster, of course!) I haven't bought any new yarn or weaving fiber this year -- only the cotton for the dishcloths I sell at the Farmer's Market and even that I bought on sale. I didn't go wild and buy a lot of clothes for work this year (I always swear I will lose weight -- and I did!). And, I haven't replaced the 22 eye shadows I had to toss because they were too old (Really. I happen to love eye shadow. I confess. I need a 12 step program when Clinque has a new colour.I am working on it....).

So, the moderation thing has worked pretty well for me.

This coming year's word? Well, I am going to work on it. Really. After final exams. And after grades are in. And the towels are off the living room loom. And I have touched up the paint in the bathroom. And painted the dining room. And... sigh... let's just say, I'm thinking about it....

Friday, December 9, 2011

Random Friday

My mind is all over the place today. So, here we go...

After waiting A FULL YEAR to finally get someone here, we have the tile man coming today to finish the kitchen tile! Yeah! One of the problems of living so far out in the boonies is that no one really wants to come here to do any work for us. It takes 30 minutes just from the closest town, so you can see that this poses a real issue for most repairs that we can't do. I am thrilled this fella is actually coming through. So, there, all six of you other guys who didn't!

Weaving. Weaving. Weaving. I have warp on the living room loom for four towels. I want the loom out of the living room so I can put our Christmas tree in the front bay window... just where the loom is now. So, yesterday, I wove, wove, wove. One towel is done! At this rate, we will be decorating the tree on Christmas Eve!

This year I want to do a country Christmas theme using only what I have or can recycle. This will be fun as I want to use as many natural elements as I can. As beautiful as everything looks this morning with the heavy frost on it, I wish I could capture that look and bring it indoors!

Gifts. I have a table full of gifts to wrap today. The Mister and I adopted three boys from the Angel Tree. So much fun to shop for little people! Now, the wrapping. Not so much fun... And, speaking of gifts. I have a very special one coming next week. Can't wait to show you!

You see how I am mind mapping today?? Crazy. What are you up to today??

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More and More Projects!

I am in love! I read about this book on Deb's blog a few weeks ago and ordered it immediately. It is wonderful! The projects range from a simple cell phone cover to a more complicated sweater. And all these can be completed in a week or less. Now, that is my kind of knitting!

For several years now, I have toyed with knitting all the projects in Knitter's Almanac, but I haven't done that yet. Now, however, it intrigues me to work 52 projects in one year. Yeah, I know, I probably do that many now, but this somehow seems more interesting to me. They are pretty little things -- things that I wouldn't normally make. And, the yarns are sumptious -- and most of the projects won't always require more than a skein. And, I can use what is in the stash for those more ambitious projects.

Right now I am only toying with attempting this challenge. But, I keep going back and looking at the books and dreaming and planning and dreaming and planning and... well, you see how it is.

Have you ever done such a challenge? How do you set your goals?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Keep It Clean!

Eight weeks ago I was diagnosed with an ulcer --- which isn't a surprise considering what my only child does for a living! However, the doctor, whom I adore, suggested three things: drugs, diet, and exercise. So, I took his advice and started a med to heal the ulcer, changed my diet to a "clean one" and have started exercising -- a little. However, it is the eating clean that has been the most interesting!

Eating clean means not eating processed foods or things that have a lot of preservatives. Now, we had been eating, I thought, pretty much this way. We eat local foods and we eat mostly veggies. But, going to the full "clean diet" has been fascinating!

For each meal, we have a bit of protein in some form -- egg, dairy, cheese, beans, or even white meat. To that we add at least one cup of veggies of some kind and at least one fruit serving. Our foods are distributed thusly: 45% protein, 35% carbohydrates, and the balance in healthy fats. This translates into about 365 calories for each of our three meals and two snacks.

We have nothing white -- flour or otherwise (yes, I miss my potatoes -- I am, afterall, Scot-Irish). There is little caffeine and a smidge of sweetener (gotta have those!). The result: collectively we have dropped more than 30 pounds without even trying!

Eating locally and in season has always been our guide and so it is now. However, we are finding that combining this philosophy with the clean eating one has given us more vitality and a better overall feeling of health and well being.

Try this for breakfast and see what you think:

1 c. either fresh or frozen peaches
1 c. steel oats, cooked
1 T slivered almonds
1/2 -1 t. vanilla

Cook the oats your usual way or in almond milk. Add the peaches, almonds, and vanilla. Toss in a dollop of organic or homemade yogurt.

Add a side of veggie sausage or bacon or turkey sausage / bacon for the additional protein.

Eat until you are completely satisfied and are ready to lick the bowl! Yum!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

First Day Musings --- I Sing Of The Body Electric

When Walt Whitman wrote the poem that he entitled "I Sing of the Body Electric" he was vilified. The poem celebrates the human body and all it can do and be. This morning, I am reminded of that poem and how lovely it is. He wrote:

The love of the Body of man or woman balks account—the body itself balks account;  That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.

He goes on to write how lovely every body is for what it can do and how the body reflects its owner. It is a  lovely poem by any account...

I am reminded of it today after spending yesterday working outside. We cleaned the chicken coop (overdue by a month!), hung new outdoor lights (with the days shorter we find we need these to feed on occasion), hauled trash to the dump, and ran errands. Our bodies lifted, stooped, squatted, stretched, crawled (okay, I confess, some of the coop required on the ground attention), walked, scurried, and ambled. By last night, my legs and feet were telling me how hard they had worked and how grateful they would be for a little elevation and rest. I agreed.

We choose how we live and, really, how we die. My most favorite poem is "Ulysses"  by Tennyson. The poem centers of the mythological character Ulysses and how he, upon growing older, realizes that his life isn't over, but rather, he can still dream and do. My favorite lines are these:

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. 

These past months I have watched people a lot more than usual. I have thought about their choices and their lifestyles -- not in a judgmental way, oh no!, but as a matter of information --- trying see how we choose to grow old. I know that I am; I am past the double nickel, yet my mind tells me that I am still that buoyant 24-year-old who could do anything. What I have discovered is this: those who remain young in their minds are young in their bodies. Those who choose to do what they can, regardless of infirmary or illness, are much happier than those who sit on their tuffett and wail that they just can't do such and such any longer. Those who  stay involved in life, going, doing, giving, caring for others are much happier and better satisfied than those who don't. It matters not what the body is capable of doing, it is the attitude of the person, to do what one can, that seems to determine their joy and contentment.

I have a friend whose mother was found patching a hole in her roof when she was 94. I love that. This is the woman I want to be. I plan to sing of this old body until it is transformed into the perfect one I am promised on the other side. Until then, this one will do just fine.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Back to Normal -- Whatever That Is...

Update first. My friend's husband is doing much, much better. And, we have the story finally straight. He rents pasture land next to his calf barn. He had noticed a strange truck spending a lot of time sitting in the parking lot of a church that had been burned a number of times because it was integrated. He wrote the tag number down for Just In Case. Fortunately.

Later in the day, as he went to feed, he saw the truck in the driveway of the house that went with the property he rented and that he watched over for the family who lives away from here. He stepped out of the truck and asked the man what he was doing. The man told him it was none of his business. My friend's husband replied that it was as he was responsible for the house and that he rented the farm that went with it. At this, the fella jumped from the truck, slugged my friend's husband, knocking him to the ground. Then, he straddled him and proceeded to hit him more than 30 times in the face, breaking every bone in his face, all while my friend's husband begged him to stop. Somehow, my friend's husband managed to get an arm free and poke two fingers in the man's eyes, wiggled his cell phone from his pocket and call 9-1-1. This caused the fella to get up, run to his truck and go home.

He, along with his father-in-law, returned to see if my friend's husband had gotten up from the beating. Apparently, when they saw all the rescue works and deputies, they fled. Since my friend's husband had the tag number, however, he was detained before my friend's husband was even in Winston-Salem. He remains in jail under $250,000 bond.

My friend's husband, meanwhile, has managed to get from the ICU to home in three days! The bleeding on his brain stopped on Thursday and by Friday the blood was re-absorping and the swelling in his face was going down. He could open his eyes and the opthamologist determined that he would not lose his eyes. While he will have at least one surgery, after the swelling is gone, we are all blessed by his quick turn around. We feel optimistic and he feels well enough to watch basketball and talk about going fishing!

This incident has reminded me how fragile our lives are. We never know who or what will happen even in the next minute. We take for granted that we are safe and secure in our worlds. The idea of violence or cruelty seldom enters our minds; it isn't what we would do, but we forget not everyone shares our values. Yet, we mustn't forget that there are many who don't have this assurance. And, we must work to bring peace, safety, and kindness  in any way we can.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I don't get it...

My friend E called a few minutes ago. Seems her husband was at their calf barn, located on a busy road, getting ready feed their calves. Three hunters stopped and something happened between them and her husband. We don't know what. The Sheriff didn't say.

He did say that her 73-year-old husband was beaten badly and being transported to the local emergency room for treatment.


Why did this happen?

What is wrong with our world that a man could be going about his business and some stranger can beat the tar out of him without so much as a by-your-leave?

How can these people even sleep at night?

How can anyone justify such a random act of violence against any other human being?

I just don't get it...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Not Thankful

Usually this is the time of year when we all sit down and say what we are Thankful For In Our Lives. However, this year, I want to catalog what I am Not Thankful For In My Life.

10.) I am not thankful that there is still hunger in this world; however, I am thankful that not only do I have enough, but more than enough to share.

9.) I am not thankful that the cost of gas and food continues to soar; however, I am thankful that I have both in abundance and can use it wisely enough that I am part of the solution and not part of the problem.

8.) I am not thankful that there is still intolerance; however, I am thankful that I was part of a remarkable family who taught that we are all the same and deserve respect and love.

7.) I am not thankful that unemployment remains far too high for such an affluent country; however, I am thankful that I have a job (even though it sometimes makes me crazy!) and that I am hopefully preparing those who will be In Charge in just a few years.

6.) I am not thankful that women and children are often exploited; however, I am thankful that I live in a country where women do have a voice and that children are protected not only by laws, but by WOMEN who help make the laws!

5.) I am not thankful that diseases such as those that impact the heart and lungs are still prevalent; however, I am thankful that researchers are learning more each day that will not only improve the quality of life for those suffering, but will eventually wipe these off the planet, much as they did polio.

4.) I am not thankful that medical care costs so much; however, I am thankful that I not only have access to reliable medical care, but that, because I have decent food, clothing, and shelter, that I require less of that care than those who don't.

3.) I am not thankful for those who sleep on the streets, under bridges, by the river, or in the parks; however, I am thankful for Lazy Bee Farm (Thank You, Father!) and for the opportunity to serve in a way to help those without to have security and safety.

2.) I am not thankful for war; however, I am thankful that we as individuals can still work toward peace every day in our own little worlds.

1.) I am not thankful for the politics of our Nation these days; however, I am thankful that I live in a country where I can write this, speak this, and argue this, and not have to worry that I will end up in a little fenced in place with only bread and water for speaking my truth.

And with that, dear ones, I leave you with the most sincere and heartfelt wishes for a Thankful Thanksgiving! Celebrate your blessings and meet me back here on Saturday!


Your Matty

Sunday, November 20, 2011

First day musings --- A Favor?

Dear Person In Charge,

The day after Halloween, I was in a certain big box store and heard Christmas music. I took a deep breath, finished my shopping, and vowed not to go back in there until New Year's Day. I was Perfectly Okay with that as I don't like the big box store anyhow and olnly went in there because I Had To.

Last week, I turned my car radio on to my favorite oldies station. Christmas Music. Yeppers. Fa-la-la-la-la. Bleh.

Today, I was coming home from my parent's house. Sigh. There it was. A huge annoying over-the-top Inflatable Santa. If I had my BB gun, I would have shot it. Numerous times.

I'm not a humbug. I am not a Scrooge. But, starting Christmas three months early is like having candy every day for breakfast. After a few days, you start to want something different. Would it be too much to ask that if Chrsitmas has to be commercialized, can it at least wait until AFTER Thanksgiving? If you would only wait until then, I will be the very first to stand on my porch, stringing those atrocious lights, setting up my inflatable Santa Claus and singing "Deck the Halls!" at the top of my lungs.


Your Friend Matty

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Give me an F!

Student: Why did you give me an F in the course?

Me: You didn't do much work. This is what you earned.

Student: What do you mean I didn't do the work? I did!

Me: We had 12 tests, 32 writing assignments, 1 formal report, and a presentation. You took three tests and did five writing assignments. Doesn't it make sense that this grade should be an F?

Student: Well, a body shouldn't have to do all the work to get a C.

Me... banging my head on the desk. I should have been a bus driver....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

With Love, The Hamster

Dear Universe:

This has been my morning so far:

5:00 a.m.
Feed cat.
Feed birds.
Feed fish.
Feed barn cats.
Feed dogs.
Feed baby hens.
Put on a batch of soap.
Make breakfast.
Stir soap.
Feed Mister breakfast.
Stir soap.
Clear the table.
Stir soap.
Set out the chicken for supper.
Clean the cat box.
Remake the bed (the sheets don't get smoothed by the other occupant).
Stir soap.
Pack lunch.
Wash and dry hair.
Dress for work.
Pour soap in molds to cool.
Make sure all the lights are off.
Check Wookie's bowl for food and water one more time.
Carry lunch and everything else to the car.
Drive the car an hour to work.

7:30 a.m.. Start work.... like I haven't already been working....

So, Dear Universe, will you cut me some slack?? Just for today, let's not have any of the stupidness of yesterday ("Dear Ms. H, It is your fault that I am so stupid that I looked at Figure 23.1 and not Assignment 23.1..." or, my personal favorite, Me: You will need to take English 111 in the spring. Student: Shut up.). Could we slow the wheel down, just a skoosh, please??

I will be forever grateful.

The Hamster

Sunday, November 13, 2011

First Day Musings -- Life on the Farm

We had good friends drop in yesterday to admire our woodstove while they consider if they want one or not for their place. Of course, we are sold on it, even though there is that whole having to cut wood all summer thing. It is affordable, warm, and, most of all, heats the whole house --- which is a novel experience as we couldn't before.

They wandered the property, watching as I took the girls to graze across the road for a bit, fed the hens, and then the goats. And they followed the Mister as he fed the bucks and put out hay. They repeatedly said, "We could never do what you do" as they watched us. I just laughed.

Most days on the farm, I love it. And then there are the days when the goats won't mind, the bucks beat me half to death, the dogs drag in deer parts, and the rain or cold makes it nearly impossible to get out. Or there are the days when I just don't want to do this; I just want to live in a condo somewhere and someone else does the yard work. In short, I am run down at the heels dead dog tired.

When the Airman was a wee Airman and it was just the two of us, this is the life I dreamt of and wanted. Now that I have it, I am sad that I am more than half through my life and on the downhill side at that. Yet, I can see that living here, doing what I do, will keep me younger and healthier than if I were in that condo. I would perish there.

Jane has the most marvelous post about how we all find what we love even when no one else shares that love. I guess that is how I feel about here. My dear friend Darlene made the comment that this house would do until she could find something better, I have to remind myself that her idea of better is a modular home in town. It is warm, safe, comfortable, but it would not suit me anymore than living here would suit her.

So, for all its quirks, there really is no place like home. Even if the chickens are on the porch and the goats eat my roses. It is home. What do you love most about your home?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Morning Has Broken

First, thank you and God bless all our Veterans and soldiers on this day! Veteran's Day has become even more dear to me since the Airman joined up. Thank you all for your service and sacrifice!

This morning the sky is a shell pink with rolling balls of clouds skirting it, giving it a sort of "oops! I put something red in the laundry" look. The wind is gusting, not blowing, shaking the trees, rattling them, as if to clear the last of the fall from them as they dress for coming winter. It is truly a late fall morning --- 22-degrees and frosty.

Most people complain about this time of year when the cold is coming and mornings challenge one to leave the snuggled hole in their sheets and blankets for the briskness of the waking house. I love it. Even though I have to wear a sweatshirt over my jammies and wool socks on my feet, I love it. There is something crisp about the morning that gives the day promise. We are, thankfully, back to the time that works for me -- no more daylight savings time.... which I don't ever understand because daylight can't be saved.

When the Mister goes to toss the morning hay, the gals are already awake, watching for his head to come over the small hill. The chickens are singing their morning song. Moose and Anabel dance and tease like puppies; they are both winter dogs and languish in summer's heat. Wookie, who has spent the night stretched across my legs, tumbles from the bed, fusses, eats, and rushes back to reconquer the now empty bed in hopes that I will leave it unmade so that he might snuggle down once more in his little nest.

We have had two skiffs of snow. Neither has warranted the celebratory "Snowman"movie and hot chocolate we have to mark the First Snow of the Season. But, it is coming. I have chocolate, our snowman mugs, and the movie waiting. Maybe by Thanksgiving we will have our little party. Have you seen this dear movie? It is based on the book by the same name by Raymond Briggs. We adore it. Before you tumble out through your day, enjoy this clip:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

As Inigo said...

let me sum up....

1) New Washer and I are in love. We can't stop seeing each other. It is shameful how we are spending so much time together. I fear the Mister will figure it out.

2) It is possible to have one's car nearly destroyed by wildlife. This is primary research (as I tell my students). The deer hit me. An owl hit the windshield. Same day. Ten minutes apart. A little over $2000 damage to an 11 year old car. Yes. I was insured.

3) No, I wasn't hurt.

4) No, the deer didn't die. The owl might have. We aren't sure. No body, so we are hoping.

5) The Airman sent me flowers for his birthday with a card: "Thank you for making me who I am today." I guess I got it right after all.

6) Work is kicking my hinney. Really. Too many essays. Too many quizzes. Too much time. No time for blogging.

7) Solar is going into the barn. Yeppers. I have made the plunge and contracted a man to do it for me. I am thrilled. The Mister will know when he reads the blog. I hope he is thrilled.

8) Lazy Bee Farm is going international! I was asked to provide a child's hat and a pair of baby socks for a very nice person going to China on business. He wanted to take something local as a homewarming kind of gift. I was quite honored! Thanks!

9) We had snow last week. That's wrong, that's wrong, that's wrong. It should be after Halloween and not before!

10) Christmas caroles are playing in the stores. I will be doing all my limited shopping by Internet until January!

Hopefully things will calm down and I can get back to regular visiting and writing. I miss it! And you!

In the meantime...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quite Simply: I Forgot

This week I have been rather melancholy. It is the time of year, I think. I have two times that I am most blue: October and March. These are times when I feel that life is just empty -- vacuous -- and I don't want to talk to anyone or to even, really, leave the house. I Just Want To Be Alone, as Greta Garbo said.

And then, this happened:

John William Waterhouse
Virgin with Roses

It has been quite a few years since I taught British Literature. I won't go into why, but it was, in short, an effort to create a more collegial atmosphere with a co-worker. It didn't work, and he didn't like teaching it either. So, I was asked if I wanted it back. Heck, yeah! I thought. This was my passion in undergraduate and graduate school. In fact, the day of the World Trade Center attacks, I was to meet with folks that afternoon to sell my little farm so that I could go to the University of York to complete my PhD (piled higher and deeper) in Medieval Literature and History. The Airman and I were going; I wasn't married, so it seemed like such a fine idea.

But, as we know, that didn't happen. The buyers were stock brokers; they ran as fast as they could to their bomb shelter, bought gold and bottled water, and dropped off the face of the real estate world. Ultimately, it all worked out; I have to believe that my life is how it is to be. The farm didn't sell; I met the Mister; married; and, all this time later, here I am, writing you!

This is a long way around to this: in preparing my lecture today, I remembered how I loved John William Waterhouse and the Pre-Raphaelites as well as the Cavalier poets. And, how I adored John Milton. And William Blake. And all the Romantics.... And, well there you go. I thought of that and then how I missed graduate school where a group of us would sit up all night (me with tea; them with beer) and talk literature and ideas and such.... how we would drive up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and watch the stars and talk about things that wouldn't make a hill of beans in most people's worlds, but was all ours --- at least right then. In short, I realized that I have lost much of my joy.

This hangs in my entry way:

The Lady of Shalot
John William Waterhouse
This is from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem of the same name:

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right --
The leaves upon her falling light --
Thro' the noises of the night,
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.

Which lead me to think of these lines from Ulysses:

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

All this is the long way round to what I realized. Yes, time is fleeting (thanks Cavalier poets for that sweet reminder), but every day brings me closer to what I hope will be my reward. The things of this world are passing; most don't count for much of anything. This room of books in which I sit right now writing this, will turn to dust. The things I have worked and saved and spent so much on in my life will be nothing more than a memory for someone else. Perhaps I will be fortunate and someone will love my pretties as I love other's that I have collected in junk, thrift, and antique stores. However, the biggest thing, the greatest fingerprint I have, is that on other's lives and of living a useful life. Maybe, just maybe, one person will be better for knowing me. And, maybe, just maybe, they will touch just one person. Who knows?

In the meantime, I may still be blue, but it will pass. The sun will shine again. I will be happy again. And peace will find a nice little niche Right There in my heart.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Number Two...

They say it comes in threes....

A 20-year-old over worked and very appreciated washer can rust out the bottom of its tub, leaving one with a very brown, icky mess on the floor.... and a lot of water... And it does it all without a bit of warning. Do you know how much water is in a washer? Sigh.

Result?? A very clean bathroom floor and a new best friend, Mr. F.L. Washer (Front Load). Let's hope we "make friends" soon. Right now, he makes me nervous. I think we need a better pet name for him, myself.

Gee... I can't wait to see what number three is.....

Monday, October 24, 2011


Never, never, never, ever, evah, put a peeled hardboiled egg in the microwave to heat it and then, once it is heated, stick a fork in it.

Did you know an exploding egg can cover 250 square feet?? And still leave a gob in the bowl?

Don't ask.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Women Unite! We Need A Little Revolution!

This is a brief missive as I have spent the last twenty minutes wrassling myself into my winter tights. How many times have you bought hose or tights that are listed as "Size D: Women 5'9" between 180-220 pounds" only to find that they won't stretch over your 5'5" size 14 body? How many times have you gotten your hose on only to discover you need One More Potty Break, but you try to ignore it because you don't think the bathroom stall has enough wiggle room for you to fight those things back up, albeit halfway what the first battle covered? How many times have you gotten your hose or tights settled and then taken a step or two and learned they were crooked? And then you had to make the decision: Do I flop on the bed to try to fight them back on straight or just learn to sway a little so they aren't so blasted miserable?

Is this you, friend?

Then, join me in a tight and panty hose revolution! It is time, ladies, that we unite and demand, yeah, even scream, that the men who design these medieval torture devises must squeeze themselves into something that starts out the size of my wallet. It is time, women, that we send these nasty little guys back to their Makers! Females everywhere, it is time that the manufacturers get it right! All women are not six feet tall and weigh twelve pounds and have no thighs! That is what makes us beautiful -- our thighs, our hips, our little round bellies that will never be flat after that last baby that weight nine pounds!

We demand that manufacturers acknowledge our bumps and imperfections by making tights and hose that are STRETCHY and will accommodate the least of our sisters as well as the greatest of them.

We demand that the colour be what is on the package. What is the difference between "nude" and "natural" anyhow?

We demand that there be an OBVIOUS front and back to our panty portion of the hose. Nothing is worse than getting the behind before and not having time to fix the problem and then walk around all day with the back end slipping down, down, down.

We demand that hose be manufactured without the twist factor! This speaks for itself...

We demand that the toes be grafted and not sewn with a thick seam that either renders our toe tips numb or requires a larger pair of shoes!

We demand that packaging indicate the TRUE size of the nylon and not the speculated one!

Sisters, join me! This is a fight worthy of our time and efforts! This has been too long in coming! Now is the time! Now is the time to end panty hose tyranny! Now is the time for us to declare our independence from the random whimsey of those who seek to enslave us to a five ounce garment! Pick up your hose and let's occupy Hanes, Worthington, and L'eggs! Let's demand our rights! Who's with me??

Give me a sec, won't you? Seems I have my hose on crooked... carry on, people...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Random Thursday

It is October, right? We are predicted snow today. Gotta love the mountains...

The Airman's birthday was a few weeks ago. Guess who he sent flowers and a thank you note? If you ever doubt your parenting skills, this will make you certain you did okay ... or he did okay in spite of you!

Capri has still not learned that the fence is not the place to stick one's head. Since she is a mini-Alpine, she can still, at six months, get her head right into the fence. And she stays there until someone rescues her. The sweet thing about this is that Hollie, the cow, stands guard over her so the other goats can't bang on her. Hollie will stay until someone shows up to cut Capri out. She is also the only one Hollie will share her grain with at dinner time.

Last year I set my goal to double my farm income. I have and then some. Next year, I plan to do the same. For now, though, I have earned enough to pay my taxes, insurance, and now am working on one extra house payment. It is excited and all I can think about is how to make this place more productive. I need a clone, I think.

We are currently cleaning all the goat stalls using our backhoe. This debris is going on our gardens so we can try the no-till method next year. I am really excited to see how this goes. I think I will still grow potatoes the usual way, but the other things, I think, I will try no-till. Let's see what happens.

I am learning Japanese. The Airman has now started integrating Japanese words into his conversation. I just hope I don't say something really crude...

We have open house at the college tomorrow. This guy is coming. Have you seen his video? It makes me laugh out loud! Enjoy and have a great week! I promise to come for a visit soon!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What did you do today?

Have you ever had that asked of you after spending an entire day home, working like a crazy woman with your hair on fire?

Honestly. If I get asked that One More Time in my life, there will be a need for that bail account I keep.

How much of our work is "unseen"? Laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills, dusting (okay, you can see that one), meal planning, answering the phone, cleaning the refrigerator, picking up cat hair, dog hair, goat poop (from your shoes, of course  -- okay -- you can see that, too) and the hundred little things we do every day that are not always "seeable." Just once, I'd like a film crew to follow me around all day to document the million and two things I do that Can't Be Seen... like not smacking the student who emails me with :

hey! do we have a test?

Of course, you can see the problem here. No salutation. No signature. No class number. Oh, and no idea what class this student is in. Believe it or not, I do get emails from students about Biology. Let me make it clear here that I only took one Biology course and that was under duress. It was "required" and I waited until my senior year in college, last semester, to take it. I passed with a B and no fingernails from all the nibbling while in class...

Or they could document the fact that I totally controlled myself when I reached in the car today to lift the gallon of milk that had fallen on my coat AND LEAKED. I don't even drink milk, but the Mister asked me to pick up his favorite brand at a store on my way home. So, I did. Now, I have a corduroy coat in the wash... which lead me to ....

....that whole unfortunate thing that happened when I realized that the laundry I Started Yesterday was STILL In the Washer. It smelled a little, well, you know. So, another load through the wash; more time waiting; more money on electric; more money on soap. And, I felt really stupid for doing that. Of course, it meant the coat had company, so I consoled myself with that...

I think next time someone asks me: "What did you do today?" I am going to respond: "Didn't go to jail."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Important Lesson Learned

Never never never never ever enter a lot with two breeding bucks who are nearly overcome with their passion for does in the next paddock. It will not go well for you. Trust me on this one.

After being nearly beaten to death by my darling Louie, whom I bottle fed, for crying out loud, I have learned that if I have been with the does and then enter his lot, he will think I am a doe. Yeppers. He wanted to date. I didn't. He didn't believe me that No meant NO! Other than several nasty nasty bruises (it made me reconsider disbudding my goats briefly...), a twisted wrist and shoulder, I am fine. I was so upset I sat in the milking parlor and cried like a silly girl. Honestly, it was traumatizing...

Now, to be honest, I have never ever had this kind of problem with a buck before -- even Louie. He has always been sweet, loving, easy to manage, and a pure joy --- even if he does pee on his face and smell awful. But, apparently, several weeks of does in heat has just broken him down into a quivering mess. I am sure it doesn't help that the gals are standing against the fence making doe eyes (I never understood this expression until I had goats) and shaking their tails at them. Hussies!

The Mister and I had planned a new paddock for just the bucks back last fall and a friend's son came and started, but never finished, it. Guess who worked on fencing today??

In the meantime, the Mister has custody of the bucks and I am staying well away from Louie. I came perilously close to shooting him last night, once I escaped. And, I love him too much to do that. So, it is best we take a break from each other. At least until he is moved and the does aren't tormenting him quite so much.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Royal Path

Over at Homestead Blessings there is a quote from a little book entitled "The Royal Path to Life."  This is the quote on the importance of home:

Our very nature demands home. It is the first essential element of our social being. This cannot be complete without home relations. There would be no proper equilibrium of life and character without the home influence. The heart bereaved and disappointed, naturally turns for refuge to home life. No spot is so attractive to the wary one: it is the heart's moral oasis. There is a mother's watchful love and a father's sustaining influence. There is a husband's protection and a wife's tender sympathy. There is a circle of loving brothers and sisters happy in each other's love. Oh what is life without these!

Isn't that a lovely quote?

So, anyhow, this one quote resulted in my ordering the book, an 1880 edition, which is just wonderful! There are short sections on all aspects of the character, from the importance of honor to an admonishment to avoid being a "grumbler and fretter!" Let me tell you, that last one really talked to me! The past few weeks, the Mister has been home with yet another shoulder injury (he seems to be gravitationally challenged) and it has been hard to keep a good demeanor with the lack of time to do those things I need to do. It seems that nothing gets done as I want it and it is tough to have an unwilling patient.

When I read the section on "grumbling and fretting" I saw myself in a light that made me blush. One of the key quotes was this:

The grumbler and fretter find that all of life is about them. It is not about the other person, which they seem to direct their attention to, but rather it is how that person effects them.

Holy moly, folks, does that shoe fit or what?

So, if you are a grumbler, stop looking at and blaming others for your own deficiencies and faults and begin by tending your own shortcomings. You will find that others will no longer avoid your company and that you will be a happier and more content person.

I hadn't really considered myself a grumbler, but when I read these section, I could see how I am as well as how this fault could slip in through the back door, so to speak. So, I consider myself told!

Have you read anything lately that inspires you to think about life differently?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

First Day Musings -- A Letter

If you think eating locally isn't important, you obviously haven't met our sweet and fascinating friends Ron and Ann. Should we miss a market, we are met the next week by a very unhappy Ron. I have to admit, I love it for many reasons! Mostly, though, it is because Ron and Ann make us feel like we matter and that our gals matter. Deeply. And so, an open letter to ...

Dear My Friend Ron,

You make me laugh! I am so glad you and your special Ann find our eggs so good that you are mad with me when I miss the market. It makes me feel like you really like me. Or the girls. Either is fine with me!

I promise, cross my heart, to never miss another market for this season. And, I promise, that you will be able to get your fresh eggs during the winter when nothing else is locally fresh and we have to either eat what we have preserved or things that taste like rubber, or worse, nothing, from other places.

As we have relearned this past week after buying the freshly slaughtered hen, eating locally is so much better. The hen we bought from our fellow vendor, just like the trout we bought a few weeks ago that were caught just five hours before we grilled them, was the most tender, most flakey, and nearly sensual, no, it was deeply sensual, experience of eating we have had in a long time. I cannot eat our hens. It gives me the willies. But, to roast a hen that we had not raised, but was freshly slaughtered, raised on pasture, and weighed, dressed out, nearly five pounds, was almost a spiritual experience. We only had hen and a sweet potato the first night. It was all we needed as she was enough in herself, actually. But, I felt rather guilty to not provide at least some semilance of a vegetable on the plate.

And so, I understand the dismay over store bought eggs. We had a customer tell us yesterday that he feeds his Jack Russell some of our eggs each morning. Just A  Bite, he stressed, because, as much as he loves her, he loves our eggs more and doesn't want to share them. He confessed that he had to buy some store eggs, too, and that even his darling puppy wouldn't eat them. She knew the difference!

I only have one request, please, Ron. Would you please use all your powers of persausion (and they run quite deep) to have Ann make just one more of the walnut chocolate pies? I dreamed of them last night.

See you next week! Promise!

Your friends,

Matty and the Mister

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bad vs. Good

Mean Girl Hen hatched two diddles yesterday -- one yellow and one black and yellow. From their little combs, I think they are both hens. Anyhow, MGH, who is one mean gal on the nest, is a terrible Mum. She didn't worry with the little ones, taking them out into the bad weather (wind and sprinkles) and then digging holes and kicking the diddles in and then out of them! The poor little guys would go flying this way and that, head over tea cups, crying and fussing all the way.

The Mister and I watched for a few minutes and then made the decision: they were coming inside. I was their Mum now. We scooped them up; the yellow one was nearly gone from the cold and abuse. I tucked them into my shirt next to my body while I finished feeding the goats while the Mister rounded up the feeder, water, and light and carried them to the kitchen.

I located a small box and in they went. The little black one ran around, tested the water, pecked at the feed, while peeping Quite Loudly all the way. The little yellow one stood and rocked. I picked her up, blew warm air from my mouth on her until she quit shaking and then put her back the box. She rocked some more. I think now that she was consoling herself.

Soon, she jumped on the edge of the watering dish and had a little sip. And another. And another. The black one joined her, chortling all the time, as if she were encouraging her sister to drink up and live. As I had no chick feed, I crumbled up whole wheat biscuits and cornmeal for them. They ate Every Bite and asked for more. At 5:30 this morning, they were both scurrying around the box, gathering bits of food, and singing, as only chicks do, at the top of their lungs.

Lesson? One doesn't have to give birth to be a good mum or, I could argue, I am one Darn Good Hen...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Slow Learner = Jail Time

When I get home today I am going to see if the barrier I built yesterday to keep Anabel (the goat) from jumping the knee wall and getting into the hay stall. For three days, I have come home to the most mournful wailing and bawling. Now you know that Anabel is a Drama Queen of great talent. So, I really didn't give it much credit the first day. I thought she was letting me know that Dinner Is Late and that was it. When I got to the barn, I discovered that she was in the stall with the Mean Hen who is setting right now and that she wasn't happy. In fact, she felt very hot and that scared me terribly!

However, the second day, she was back in the stall, none the wiser for her experience, and the Mister was feeding her as I was coming home late. He made her stay in the stall until Everyone Else Had Eaten (Anabel is the alpha doe and Always Eats First) before he let her out. She wasn't happy, but that is the choice she made.

The third day, yeppers, guess who was in jail, yet again, and still unhappy? At this point, I think even the Mean Hen was over it as she fussed the whole time until I let Anabel out again. It was then that I decided I would have to create a barrier.

So, I cut a 2 x4 x6 the length of the stall and nailed it 12" from the knee wall top. Then, I cut a fence panel to fit over the opening, nailing it to the knee wall, the board, and the joists. Hollie, the cow, watched, amused. The goats, however, were not allowed to see the renovation until they had fed. Anabel, at last check this morning, was nudging and exploring it, looking for a hole, I am sure. I don't think she will find it.

And, if she does, the Mean Hen may have free reign on her. Trust me. Anabel will lose.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wrong Side ...

... of the bed. That is the pure description of my day. I got up late and on the wrong side of the bed.

I was wet all weekend from torrential downpours at the Grayson Highlands Festival. And tired to the bone, to boot. So, I overslept. By an hour. I ate cinnamon toast and peanut butter on the way to work. I dropped both on my pants. It looks like I peed in my pants because of the grease stain. Lovely.

I didn't get to wash my hair because I overslept. A pony tail on Monday is a sure sign that the week is starting off on the wrong foot.

The Mister has annoyed me to the point that I just don't even want to speak his name. Just saying, it could be his fault that I overslept. No finger pointing... just saying...

The car is still jumping off and on.... after spending $200 at the mechanics last week and didn't want to run this morning which made me Even Later. I shouldn't be annoyed at the car. At least it has worked. Hard. For nearly 500,000 miles. Maybe I feel like the Mister should do the same...

Wendy's has the worst salad in the world. I guess it is true you get what you pay for; if I had gotten up on time, I was going to have a lovely Amish yogurt cheese and veggie sandwich for lunch. And it was fresh. And still is.... in my refrigerator.

I am wearing tennis shoes because I overslept and didn't lay my clothes out last night because I was too tired and then I couldn't find my knee high hose this morning. At least the shoes are black. Like my pants. And don't have peanut butter on them. Unlike my pants.

You know, as I think about it, maybe I should have stayed in bed instead of getting out on the wrong side....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Think I Missed That One

My Composition II students are working on a research paper in which they are required to interview a family member. Their interview questions had to be submitted to me before they could proceed. This is what one student submitted:

1. Where did our family come from?
2. Did any of our family members fight in the Cival (sic) War?
3. Did any of our family members fight in World War I or II?
4. Did any of our family members fight in the Vitamins War?

Okay. I think I missed that war...

Lesson: Never trust spell check...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

You Have To Be Kidding

The bank called today.
Someone has stolen all my checking account information (routing number and account number) and made counterfeit checks with all the correct information EXCEPT the right bank.
We all know crooks are stupid or they wouldn't be crooks.
What do you call one who can't even get the information correct? Really Stupid???

Friday, September 16, 2011


... I talked with the Airman for an hour. Fabulous.
... it is cold -- 48-degrees still.
... is the day before yet another festival... and I have soap to wrap.
... I need to make more castile soap for another festival in November.
... i would rather be knitting something very soft and fuzzy.
... the chicken coop needs cleaning.
... the goat stalls do, too.
... there is still a little more to do in the attic and then I am starting to clean one out building. before-I-awoke-dream was about my friend Arwen telling me that I wasn't sanitary enough to touch dishes her children ate from while I was watching the biggest horse in the world carry FIVE adults on its back across my backyard, but it wasn't my backyard really, while my car was running in the front driveway. Huh?? Where did that come from?

I think it is going to be a strange, busy day! You?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gotta Love It ...

As other teachers will tell you, as students get older, they get more confident that they are wiser and more educated than their instructors. By the time a kid reaches college, they have all the answers, so much so that I believe all Presidents should be under 20 years old and all Congress people should be between 16-19. Let's face it, after 20, it is all downhill and we realize just How Stupid We Really Are and How Little We Really Know.

Case in point: this is an email I received last week regarding a quiz:

Hello Ms. H,

I just completed the quiz for the material on Mather, Bradstreet, etc., and was a bit disconcerted at receiving a 72. I double checked each answer against the text, powerpoints, and documents, and it seems that 7 questions incorrect is a large range of error given my careful procedures. Would it be possible to review the test and see which questions I answered incorrectly, and is their any possibility of a grade revision? Please let me know.

Yea. Right. Gotta love the statement "large range of error given my careful procedures." This is an 18-year-old, by the way. And, believe it or not, this kid talks just as he writes.

"I bet you watch Star Trek," I asked, sort of.

"Wow! Yes. I do! Spock is my favorite character!"

I think it is going to be a long fall....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Helloooooo... Are you here?

Howdy Campers,
The respite has done me a wonder of good and I am ready to start sharing more of Pandemonium Palace, also known as Lazy Bee Farm.

What have I done since we chatted last?
1.) Gone back to work.

2.) Had a wood shed built. And filled most of it.

3.) Painted on the front door.

4.) Cleaned, and I mean seriously cleaned, the porch (it wraps around two sides of the house -- it is not for the faint of heart), the yard, and my front flower beds.

5.) Saved one goat from dying -- darn parasites!

6.) Made soap, soap, soap, soap, and soap.

7.) Worked the farmer's market.

8.) Worked on festival.

9.) Cleaned the attic -- mostly. It is a very large attic with most of the things from the Airman's three bedroom house. Yeah. This has been more fun that a trip to the dentist on the day after Christmas.

10.) Knit dishcloths, a lot.

11.) Solved the mystery of the chest pain -- ulcer. No more Boylan's Cherry Soda for me... I seriously considered crying about this one...
There is more, but why tell it all the first day back?? Pictures are to come as I have become quite proficient, thank you, with the camera and movie making talents!

How in the world have you been? I have missed you all!

Friday, August 26, 2011

On Vacation

Hi all,

Just a quick note to let you know I am taking a little break. Nothing is tragic or anything like that. Just needing a little time to think.

Will be back before you know it!

Until then, eat lots of honey, sit in the sunshine, kiss your cat, and enjoy the folks you love.

Many hugs,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Random Thoughts

Before I even sat down to work on the computer this morning, I dropped my coffee on the lovely handtied rug in front on my rocker and my English muffin with peanut butter face down on top of the coffee. Somehow, I don't trust today.

After dropping my toast and coffee, I sat down to read college email. Another professor had sent out an email reminding us to vote for our safety video which is a finalist in the statewide contest. Sadly, he meant to write "push." He missed a letter. I can't stop giggling because the next email from him attempted to explain it. Somehow, I think his day is going to be worse than mine. Lesson: proofread and don't explain.

Yesterday we had 46 eggs. (Yes, Ron, I have JUMBOS this week!) The girls are happy to be rid of the snake. Me, too.

Moose and Anabell aren't eating their food which means they have found deer remains somewhere. I have tried to catch them so we could get rid of it, but haven't been able to do it until Tuesday morning when I saw Moosie come to the porch, nudge Anabel and the two of them sauntered down the road. Evidently, they thought I had left, because when I showed up with the car following them (I was on an errand), they took off running to the house as though they had been caught with their paws in the Milk Bone jar. Isn't it funny how even dogs feel guilty? What's up with that??

Monday morning the Mister went out to uncover the bike for his ride to work. He heard: "Peep! peep! peep!" He looked everywhere, but couldn't find the source... that is... until he lifted the other bike cover. One of the escapee hens had set up a nest and her little guys were hatching! We have two yellow diddles and one black diddle. Mama is doing well; we are now checking everywhere for more rogue nests.

My nephew, who is 12, has decided to go into real estate because his CDs are not earning enough money. He is now looking at houses. He announced after leaving one house: "It smells like dog pee and would cost to much to recarpet. We need a fixer upper, but not one that needs that much fixer upping..." Somehow, I feel a future tycoon in the making.

Fall is in the air. For three nights now we have had to use a blanket and I have offered the Mister $20 to get up first and close the windows. Where did summer go?

How's your week been??

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Good-bye, Dear One

The first time we saw Mary, she was tied to a clothesline in front of a trailer on top of a mountain. The Mister swore he heard banjo music (think: Deliverance) as we drove the winding narrow road. I had decided I wanted a goat and a student had told me of one that needed a home as her owner was divorcing and couldn't afford to keep her.

"She's a goat," is all my student told me.

She was.

With legs no more than six inches long, she managed to carry her barrel-shaped body around as though she were a ballet dancer on pointe. She surveyed us carefully as we got out of the car, obviously shaping us up as novices in the world of goat ownership. I thought she looked pregnant and asked the owner. She didn't know.

"Bubba!" she shouted at her son (really, that was his name). "That there goat down the road. Hit's a boy goat or a gal gal?"

Bubba didn't want to leave the front seat of the car he was sitting in and listening to the radio. He rolled down the window to answer her.

"I dunno, Momma," he slurred. "Might be. Who can tell?"

I knew I had to rescue this gal from her life on the clothesline.

"How much for her?" I inquired.

We settled on $25. I got the best end of the bargain.

Mary was one of those goats who always knew she was in charge. Unlike the ladylike "baaaas" from the other gals, Mary sounded like Bea Arthur. She would stand at the fence, look at the house, and bellow "nnnneeeeeaaaahhhhh" as though she were swearing. When she would run, her tummy would rotate her trunk, while she tossed her head like a beauty queen and spritely twinkled to where you wouldn't want her.

She was just that way.

This past winter she kid, her second kidding. We didn't mean for her to be pregnant, but she had different ideas. She ended up with a c-section and one darling little guy with an Elvis curl. The surgery left her weak and lacking luster. After a week of forcing yoghurt and water into her, she rebounded and became the curmudgeon we knew she was. It was a frequent thing to see her little guy standing on her back, surveying "his" goat yard.

Yesterday, after a perfect first day of classes, we got home to feed. I headed to the milking parlor and opened the door to check the does. Mary was dead. Apparently, she had a heart attack early yesterday and just fell over where she was standing -- at the milking parlor door -- waiting for dinner.

This morning it was tough to not hear her call from the yard. But, she is buried next to her darling Maestro, the billy she loved more than anything. He, tall, magnificent; her, short, round. But, they were devoted to each other until he died. They spent hours next to each other, on opposite sides of the fence, rubbing, talking, and her adoring him. Now she is with him again, looking up at him, and saying, "What a goat! what a goat! what a goat!"

Sunday, August 21, 2011

First Day Musings: Possibility

I dwell in Possibility--
A fairer House than Prose--
More numerous of Windows--
Superior--for Doors--

Of Chambers as the Cedars--
Impregnable of Eye--
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky--

Of Visitors--the fairest--
For Occupation--This--
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise-- 

-- Emily Dickinson

This is The Day Before Classes Start. It is a Day of Possibilities. Everyone has an A. Everyone is happy. Everyone is successful. I haven't gained 12 pounds from medicinal application of chocolate.

There is something about Starting that Is So Good. 

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. -- Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner

Yeah. Like that.

I think this is why I am addicted to Starting. I love the feeling of success before something can fail. I like the joy of completion before it is done. I crave the affirmation that I can do it before I have.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. -- Eccelsiasties 3:11

So, today I am going to dwell in possibilities. I am going to embrace the happiness of The Day Before and hope that it continues to The Next Day. As Pooh, I am going to anticipate the satisfaction of what is to come and believe it is every bit as delish as I can hope.

And, the cynic in me is ordering new pants....

Friday, August 19, 2011

In A Hurry

Email from a student: "Ms. H, may I add your class because I want to graduate on schedule."

Me: "Who did you take English 111 with and what grade did you make?"

Replay: "I took it with you in 2003 and made a B."

Yeah. Wants to finish in a hurry. It's a two year degree. Do the math...

This is why I need medicinal chocolate on a daily basis...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Little Research

As an academic, it is important that I continually conduct research in order to keep current in my field. As such, I have found that primary research, that which I conduct myself and not those of another researcher, are the most reliable and valid sources of information that I can utilize. As such, I present for you my findings on:

The top ten things to do in a meeting

10. Read an assignment you are giving to your students.
9.   Knit.
8.   Try to sleep without snoring.
7.   Count how many other people are sleeping and are snoring.
6.   Take bets with your seatmates over who will go to sleep first.
5.   Text the most pregnant staff member and suggest she stand up and scream, "My water broke!"
4.   Text another faculty member and ask them to grab their chest and fall on the floor (if number five doesn't work).
3.   Play "Angry Birds" on your phone.
2.   Count how many times the words "stakeholder", "progress", and "change" are used in one presentation.
1.   Play "Hang Man" with a colleague using only words that describe the meeting.

Guess what I did today?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Better'n TV

The Mister has a gig in a few weeks. This means he has taken out the violin and the mandolin and is practicing around the house. I love it!

This is one of his original compositions "Emerald Isle." It could just be that he is Irish and I am Scot-Irish, but this music touches us deeply.


(I can't believe I learned how to do this! Whoppee! Pictures AND video?? OMGoodness.. nothing is sacred...)

Monday, August 15, 2011

You Might Need to Know This

Cleaned the hen house.

Found a six foot black snake who had taken up residence in the hen house.

And she liked it.

A lot. A whole lot.

There may have been just a little screaming.

And running.

A water hose was involved.

Snakes don't like cold water.

Just so you know.

Don't ask how I do.

Someday, though, you might be glad you do. 

P.S. The Mister is my hero. He just counted the loops as the snake was coiled up and said, "Gee, it sure is pretty. Look at that! Isn't she pretty? Wow! And she isn't that fat, is she?"

Note to other Misters: Never say a snake isn't fat. It implies the listener is... Just saying...

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Make Mine Boysenberry, Please

I am redoing our front storm door. The original storm door is 15, no, 20 years old and last spring, Anabelle (the dog) plunged through it during a storm. She is deathly afraid of any loud noise and this particular storm had her coming undone. Before I could open it to let her in, rrrrriiiipppp, she tore right through it.

So, I spent a little time looking for Just The Right Storm Door and found it; but, it was a custom order and I had to wait for it to be manufactured and shipped. It took, sigh. six weeks.

But, here it is:

Did you notice that it has a SOLID bottom panel?? 
So much for puppies coming in No Matter What!
Sanding done; the primer is done as well. And, now, well, I am painting it this lovely colour:

Boysenberry Jam.

Isn't it lovely?
Can you see my fine helper?
He watches the underside for runs and spills.
He is a great painter...
I just hope the Mister doesn't mind
that the Mooser is sporting a little bit of Jam when he comes home...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Simple Things

One of the things that summer brings which is so much joy is the ability to gather flowers at will.

Using whatever I have for vases makes the arrangements all the more interesting.
I have added red and blue food colouring to this vase so the hydrangeas will turn purple. Of course!

I love yellow and blue together. It is so crisp!
These are from my Grandmother's flower garden, transplanted when she died ten years ago.
She called them "Goldenrods."

Can you see the extra little treat in the bouquets?
I read on Susan Branch's blog that she did that and loved the idea.
They smell wonderful!

Do you keep flowers in the house?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


It's official. I resigned from my co-directorship yesterday. And I feel gooooood, so gooood, I got my freedom, to plagarize James Brown!

It has been an agonizing decision. I love the workshop, the community in which it is held, and the participants (except when they have mosquito bites and make me go to the ER because they want to believe it is bedbugs).

But... isn't there always one of these in any situtation?

The long and the short of it is this: I was tired of working my arse off and someone else taking credit. I was tired of being jumped on for my political beliefs (which are more conservative than my partner's). I was tired of being treated like an administrative assistant. I was tired of people not even hazarding to think I had any knowledge on the topic just because I didn't have a PhD (piled higher and deeper). Or that I had nothing to say because I live on a farm in NW NC. After all, what could a gal in that situation think? Doesn't one need to be urbane to think? And, the final straw came when the partner screamed at me in a public place about an issue and the Entire Restaurant Turned Around and Listened to his rant. OMGoodness. Can you say mortified??

I share all this for one reason. Certainly all of us, except those few narsicistic souls who believe it is all about them, have been in this position. Many of us are boxed into relationships of some kind and feel like it is the Tar Baby -- we can't let go because we feel stuck.

Something happened to me in Walden Pond that I can't explain. I saw my life in a way that I understand addicts do: a moment of clarity when they realize the path they are on and can see both roads their life might take. As I floated there, I saw that my life was chocked full of things and people I really didn't like. And, I felt, as Henry wrote, that I was living a life of quiet desparation. There is a lot of pain accompanying this feeling and I wanted the pain to stop. And, the only way to do it was to clear all the clutter and say what I truly felt with kindness and love.

I slept the best last night that I have in months. It feels good to just say, "No." Heck, I might even get into the habit.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Show Me You Love Me

When the Mister and I were married,
it was a party with a wedding in the midst of it.
Our ceremony was by the creek on his farm at the time,
Sycamore Springs Farm.
We had tents, his band mates, and lots of good food.
Besides Grandma's Lemonade, we had pimento cheese sandwiches.
It is one of our favorites; we have joked that
even as we are getting ready to step to the other side,
our last meal will have to be our form of ambrosia... food of the gods..

Easy Peasy Pimento Cheese

Start with 1/2 of the large Velvetta cheese
(the fat kind, not the 2% milk kind -- bleh),
1/2-3/4 c. Miracle Whip (or Mayo),
and a small jar of pimentos.
I also toss in some shredded
whatever-we-have-in-the-fridge-that-needs-eaten cheese.
This batch it is some Colby. Cube the Velvetta and grate the other cheese.

Everything goes in the food processor at one time.
Using your blending plate, blend for one or two minutes until it looks like:

This is the best part. Sample and make sure you have enough Miracle Whip to suit
your taste. I like mine rather chunky, so this is perfect for me. If you
like yours smoother, blend longer and add more Miracle Whip.

After putting the spread in a sealable bowl or Tupperware,
scoop out a small amount for a sandwich.
Scrape all the best, chunkiest, tastiest part from under the blender blade
and make yourself a very delicious sandwich. After adding a
very ripe white peach for dessert,
you will be ready for a nappie
after lunch.

When the Mister came home last night and saw this in the refrigerator, he turned around and said: "Baby, you're the best!" I felt like Jackie Gleason had dropped in!
Bon appetite!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Boundaries -- And When To Push Them

Last night at, oh, 11:15 p.m., I got this wild hair; I wanted to try my hand at designing a shawl. It is to be a gift and so it had to be Just The Right One. Since there was no sleeping going on, I looked through every pattern I have. Nothing caught my eye. So, I dug out my Mary Thomas's Book of Knittng Patterns and started thinking about the special person I wanted to design for. I looked at the yarn in my stash (this is an embarrassment as there is so much) and found Just The Right Colour.

The Perfect Yarn is very soft blue, yellow, lavendar, and grey lace weight. When I saw it a few years ago at Orchardside Yarn Shop in Raphine, VA, I had to have it, but I didn't have a project in mind. As you know, that seldom matters in the case of yarn or fabric. Home it came. Now, it is going to a good purpose and is just perfect. The colours just suit the recepient and will go with nearly everything.

What I have decided is to make a stoll with a garter stitch border and edging to keep the shawl from curling. The first pattern is a flower which is 38 rows high; this will be followed by a 20 row repeat of butterflies. The back will be "rows" of honeybees which I will fashion from a combination of eyelets, small and large. I think it will be lovely!

I am nearly done with the first row of flowers. It was so exciting to watch the pattern develop that I couldn't go to bed! At 1:15 a.m., the Mister woke from his "pre-bed nappie", yawned, looked at me, and asked if it were morning. Technically, it was... and I was still stitching away!

Would you like to try this pattern out with me? Here's how you start:

Spring's Coming Shawl

Yarn: Lace weight (but I think you could use anything, depending on the size you want your shawl; mine is about 24 inches wide using lace weight and #4 needles)
Needles: to suit your gauge and yarn
Gauge: Gauge is for sissies!

CO 90 stitches.

Knit 10 rows for a garter stitch edging.

Place markers after the first five stitches and before the last five. This will create a garter stitch edging. You wlil knit these stitches every row.

Flower Pattern
16 stitch repeat

To keep up with your pattern, place a marker after each repeat. This will help you keep each pattern correct.

Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: K6, YO, S1, K1, psso, K2
Row 4: Purl all stitches.
Row 5: K8, YO, S1, K1, psso, K6
Row 6 and 8: Purl
Row 7: K6, YO, S1, K1, psso, K8
Row 9: K4, YO, S1, K1, psso, K10
Row 10: Purl
Row 11: (K2, YO, S1, K1, psso) 3 times; K4
Row 12: Purl
Row 13: K8, YO, S1, K1, psso, K6
Row 14: Purl
Row 15: K10, YO, S1, K1, psso, K4
Row 16: Purl
Row 17: Knit
Row 18: Purl
Row 19: K10, YO, S1, Y1, psso, K4
Row 20: Purl
Row 21: Knit
Row 22 Purl
Row 23: K4 (K2tog, YO, YO, S1, K1, psso) twice, K4
Row 24: Purl. Purl the 1st YO and Knit the 2nd
Row 25: Knit
Row 26: Purl
Row 27: K2, K2tog, YO, YO, S1, K1, psso, K4, K2tog, YO, YO, S1, K1, psso, K2
Row 28: Purl as row 24
Row 29: K6, K2tog, YO, YO, S1, K1, psso, K6
Row 30: P6, P2tog (stitch and 1st YO), K2tog (2nd YO and stitch), P6
Row 31: K2, K2tog, YO, YO, S1, K1, psso, K1, YO, YO, K1, K2tog, YO, YO, S1, K1, psso, K2
Row 32: P6, P2tog (stitch and YO, including strand below), P1, K1 into YO and strand, P7
Row 33: Knit
Row 34: Purl
Row 35: Same as Row 27
Row 36, 37, 38: Same as Rows 24, 25, 26
Row 39: K4, (K2tog, YO, YO, S1, K1, psso) twice, K4
Row 40: Purl, same as Row 24

Okay; that's your start. When I get the next pattern worked, I'll post it for you to use. I can't wait to see how this works out. Please bear in mind that I have never done anything this complicated from scratch before. If you find an error, will you please let me know? And if you are going to knit this, will you let me know as well? I am eager to see if it is as attractive and pretty as I believe it to be! So far, I love love love it!

Happy Monday!