Thursday, March 31, 2011

Give Me A Break!

My new best friend:

In the midst of all the other drama of the last two weeks, our refrigerator died. Not the freezer. Just the fridge. Yeah. I was thrilled.

Needless to say, this necessitated cleaning out all the, hmmm, food and washing down the old one. It was a youthful 15 years old and I was quite attached to it. I knew just where my hand should be when I reached in for an item. The shelves were just the right size and place for my habitual reaching in and out. We were sympatico'.

Now, though, I am having to learn a new friend. There is no egg drawer. None of the refrigerators we looked at had one. There is a butter door, but no egg. What sense does that make? And, the shelf adjustments just don't offer the range the other one does. But, it is bigger. And cleaner. And shiner. And weighs a whole lot less than its predessor.

So, I am learning it and it is learning me. For example, the door is so much lighter that it no longer closes on its own. As a result, I can no longer sneak in and grab something without the Mister knowing. I have to be vigilant in making sure the door closes or I am busted. And, as there are not the same shelf levels, I have no secret hidey hole under the cheese door for my candy. Then there is the whole issue of every shelf and drawer being completely clear. How am I expected to hide my treats if the whole thing is transparent?

I think I see a pattern here... and I am not sure I like it. This new refrigerator is co-conspirator with Weight Watchers. Can't a girl get one break??

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Those Three Dreaded Words

Van Gogh's "Potato Eaters"

"What's for supper??"

I hate trying to come up with meals, do you? I have tried menus and planning. I have tried holding out for just cereal. And, I have tried being a Sunday planner for the week. Nothing holds my interest.

Personally, I could have a milk shake every night and be quite satisfied. But, not the Mister. He wants meat. Lots of meat. Bleh. Salads would be good, but he ends up hungry an hour later. And, since we are doing the Gazelle Dave Ramsey Plan, we don't like to eat out more than once a week for any meal -- Thursdays -- breakfast -- Aunt Bea's.  $6.76 every week. No compromise.

Anyhow, I have grown weary with meal dodging and have decided I need to either enter a 12-step program for Meal Haters Anonymous.... or, I need to come up with a cunning plan... or exploit other's ideas.

So, how do you handle this challenge??

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Random Thoughts....

It snowed yesterday. Two inches.

Today the sun was shining and it was 60-degrees.

What's up with that??

If I were clever, I'd show you a picture of something wonderful. Tonight I am not clever. I am tired. Bone tired. Why can't women sleep sitting up like men?? Doesn't their neck hurt? Don't they drool on themselves? How do they do that??

I have decided that if I get a redo of my life, I am either coming back as a poodle or a Southern man. Either has little sense and both are over indulged.

Good night!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Being Female Ain't So Bad

Last night, after a very sudden illness, the Mister's brother died.

The last four days have been surreal and we have not even begun to really understand what happened. And, yet, there is one thing I am completely grateful for: being a woman.

As four women stood around him as he prepared to leave us (and, honestly, the Mister was there so we can make him an honorary woman), I realized something amazing: women are there to bring life in and we are there to hold hands as it leaves. What a gift. No man can understand the fullness of this wonder.

Think of it.

We alone know the life coming from us. It is the one true time we are the vehicle for God's greatest miracle. Women alone can know the intimacy of that life: we feel it; we talk to it; we love it long before it has a face.

And, on the other end of the chain, women alone are the ones who stand in service and preparation for life to leave. We are the nurses, caretakers, preparers (until modern times when the undertaker undertook our responsibility), and planners. We make sure the life is remembered fully and, we carry in our hearts the memories of watching that life leave.

As our dear one left yesterday, he opened his eyes and looked one last time at the first face he ever saw. Somehow, it was fitting and proper. It was sacred.

This is my favorite song. You will recognize the voices as they are the girls from the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou." Enjoy.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Day Musings -- Could It Be??

Planted in puddles throughout my yard so that I might see them from where ever I am in the house, are daffodils. I had a deal with my parents when I was a child: I could go barefoot as soon as the first flower appeared. For this reason alone, daffodils could be my favorite flower. But, I love them, as well, for the reasons poets best can tell...

William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Song of Solomon 2:11–12

... for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Afternoon on a Hill"
will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

Walt Whitman
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.

William Allingham

Pluck not the wayside flower;

It is the traveler's dower.

Matthew 6:29
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Shall we meet in the yard, have a cuppa, and watch the flowers grow? Have a glorious First Day, won't you?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nothing As Sweet....

... as home... We say this, but have you ever thought about how truly fortunate you are?

Yesterday I was helping my parents finish cleaning up one of their rental houses for a new tenant. The previous one had pretty much trashed it and there was plenty to be done. As we closed in on the last of the work yesterday, Mother was telling me about how excited the new tenant was about the house.

Seems the woman was born with many birth defects and has required a great deal of surgeries. Many of the surgeries and defects have left her with very visable disfigurements, yet, she has the loveliest voice one can imagine, Mother said. This woman has met the man of her dreams and they are marrying and moving into the rental. And, she had big dreams for this little cottage -- a table here, flowers in the yard there, vegetables in the back. This was the home and life she had always dreamt of and doubted she would have.

As Mother talked, I thought about how fortunate we are that we all have another person who is meant just for us. And, I pondered a statement Mother made: "The tenant said she never thought she could have a home as nice as this one." That gave me pause. The house rents for very little, frankly, and is quite old -- at least 85 years old --- and had very little updates. While this can be charming, this house really needs a lot of love.

The floor plan is terrible; the floor dips in places in spite of being levelled recently; and, well, the bathroom could use a good gutting even though it is quite sizable with new fixtures and a ginormous porcelain tub. And, the carpets are new, the windows have been replaced, and the kitchen gets a huge amount of sunshine. But, personally, I would have to do a lot of cosmetic work to be satisfied .... until I was straightened out by a single sentence.

Then, I saw the house with new eyes.

I could see the quirkiness as charming and even the bathroom took on a quaintness that enchanted me. I wondered how many others had started there and birthed children and dreams together. In short, I had forgotten to count my own blessings until I had to realize what others saw as a blessing.

As I finished my painting, I did so with a conscious blessing for happiness as this new family begins in this house.

And, today, I gave my front door a kiss when I came in. Isn't home a blessing??

Friday, March 18, 2011

Don't Mess With My Schedule!

Normally, my day begins around 5 a.m. Between feeding, breakfast, dressing, and the morning commute, it is just easier to start so early. This means that everyone on the place is ready to eat no later than 5:30 -- especially Monsuier Wookie. And, of all the folks, he is the one who is most vocal if things are not kept on his stomach's schedule.

All week I have slept in, hoping to rid myself of the plague, and so, the Mister has run interference, keeping everyone's stomach content. This morning, though, he was as tired as I and stayed in bed.... until Wookie decided he was going to eat. No If Ands Or Buts.

He started his attack by standing on my hip.

He barked (yes, Maine Coons bark: "Meh!")

He walked up to my face and gently patted it with his paw. He patted again, not so gently, but got no response.

He put his nose to mine and barked again.

He pulled the covers down from my chin and barked yet again.

He turned around and struck me in the face with his very large, bushy tail.

He barked a little more insistantly.

Much to his dismay, I turned over, completely ignoring his pleas. After all, I am in charge, right?

This insult was more than he could stand.

Jumping over my head, he burrowed under the covers and stuck his nose under my night shirt.

Needless to say, he won.

Don't forget Amy's Farm Friend Friday! It is so fun to visit the other farm gals!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Joys of Being Scot-Irish

Great-grandpa John (whom the Airman is named for) was a striking Scot-Irish. Having only known him when age and time had taken its toll on him, he was still a handsome, tall, strong man with steel blue eyes and a slow, gentle, albeit rumbling voice. My dearest hope when I get to heaven is to hear him first saying, "Why, hey, hunnnney" in that dear way he had.

He married Ziphorah in early 1900 and they moved to the mountains of NC, buying 120 acres with a 150-year-old log house in which to start their family. Theirs was a completely contained farm with John or Ziphorah doing everything themselves from shoe making to logging.

The year 1920 was a tough one for them and money was more than tight. They had waited all year to go to town as they had nothing with which to purchase the few town good they needed. When the logs were sold, Grandpa was in high cotton as he carried around nearly $50 in cash money. That Sunday, when they went to church, Grandma reminded him that it was the day to contribute to the Preacher's salary. They attended a Primitive Baptist Church and, at this time, on a designated Sunday, everyone was expected to slip the Preacher a little money for his annual salary when shaking his hand.

Everyone lined up, eager to give their bit to their beloved Preacher. Grandma urged Grandpa to give as he always did, $5. Grandpa, though, was worried and didn't want to give that much. He and Grandma whispered their fight all the way through the line until it was Grandpa's turn. Hurriedly, he reached in his pocket and grabbed what he thought was $1 and shoved it in the Preacher's hand.

"Why, I don't know what to say, Brother," the Preacher exclaimed as he looked in his hand.

"It's been a hard year, Preacher," Grandpa explained.

"I know, but, Brother, do you think you can afford this?" and the Preacher held out a $20 bill.

Grandma's mouth fell open as she shoved Grandpa on through the line.

"You've blessed us mightily," she said as she continued to push the stunned John through the line. "God Bless You."

I can only imagine the words exchanged in the wagon on the way home. Grandpa never got over losing that $20, but I think that he was blessed for his unintentional gift. He lived a good life, dying just a few days before he was 100. God blessed him with health and memory until then. And he lived to see his first Great-Great-Grandson walk and talk.

I miss them both and can't wait to get to the other side where I know Ziphorah will be dancing and clapping her hands just as she did when we would visit and John will still be pondering how he ever gave the Preacher $20.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A distraction

Let's not talk about coughing, not sleeping, and feeling like a train backed up over me fifteen times last night. Instead, let's talk about graduation...

I present to you, the EOD graduating class of March 11, 2011. These service personnel are now going to spend the next year in a further training in a variety of locations including Turkey, Washington state, and, of course, Japan. The military is quite brilliant (that sounds like a contradiction in terms) about training. For special technical schools, all branches train at one site. Thus, in this class, the Air Force, Marine, Army, and Navy are all represented. Sadly, the Navy EOD techs don't graduate with the rest of the class. They have a dive course to complete with the Navy before they are considered techs.

The ceremony is quite moving. Held at the EOD memorial commemorating all EOD service personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice at the "schoolhouse" campus, the ceremony is rich in tradition and symbolism. A short history is given of the EOD training. I found it particularly moving to learn that the first EOD tech and trainer had been overlooked for special forces because he had vision problems. However, as WWII reached intensity, he learned to disarm ordnances, and, ultimately, was enlisted by the U.S. military (following a brief sojourn with the Brits) to develop an EOD program. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't learn something was the message.

Each tech selects who will "pin" them -- someone who has trained them and knows them well. As the pinning program moves forward, the meaning of the EOD pin is read. Hugs, backslaps, and handshakes are part of the protocol. It is particularly moving to see stern-faced officers wipe tears from their eyes as they pin their graduate. These guys get very tight in this program and learn the meaning of teamwork.

Notice, too, that there are two females -- one Air Force and one Army -- in the class.They are rarer than hen's teeth and have overcome many odds to graduate this program. These young women were petite, yet, you could see the power and confidence in them. And, by the way, the fact that women are in this program keeps it from being designated "special forces." Sadly, women are still not permitted in special forces positions. I personally believe that if they can do the work, they have earned the right. However, the military lags behind in this ideology.

It was a bittersweet day -- full of pride and tears.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Down, but not out... yet...

My mother raised us to never give in to illness unless that seemed to be the only course open. Thus, following the guidance of my friend Betty Herbert, I get up and do what I love for 30 minutes. If, at the end of that time, I still feel that I can keep on with my favorite tasks, I must take up my bed and walk. In other words, if you can do your favorite things when you are sick, then you can do the not-so-favorite things as well. And so, I have.

Monsuier Wookie and I fought over the sofa yesterday and decided that if he wouldn't touch me, I wouldn't touch him, therefore, we both got our way. While on the sofa, I drowned my flu with cup after cup of tea and  Ricola cough drops while I reviewed the applications for the NEH Concord program I co-direct with Sterling Delano (he is so handsome!). We had another wonderful year of applications and, trust me, the process is tougher each year!

Then, I took a stroll through blogland and found some remarkable blogs and some very interesting ideas.

I love these:

Mia's blog is just plain eye candy for those of us who long for simpler days.

I always leave The Rhythm of Home inspired --- check out the lavendar drawer liners. I can see a bunch of these in my future!

Ravelry is a dangerous place for me to even log into. While in Florida, I discovered this lovely shawl. Some delicous Malibrigo came home with me to make this one.

And, of course, I visited all of you! What a fun way to spend my morning.

Last night, I carried the spinning wheel downstairs, gathered up my spinning chair, and filled 11/2 bobbins with some yummy hand dyed mohair (picture to come) and watched this:

Rebecca is one of my all time favorite books. I read it when I was 12 for the first time based on the recommendation of my Mother. Quickly, I devoured all the other Daphne DuMaurier books and still enjoy them from time to time. Come on, Manderly, Cornwall, Gothic landscapes?? Good stuff.

You know, come to think of it, maybe I like having the flu. It seems to me I had quite a good time.... cough cough.... Put the kettle on, won't you? I might just be here a while....

Monday, March 14, 2011

My New Bed Buddy

We are home from the Airman's graduation. I was so proud of him and the other 14 who graduated with him! What a memorable day. Pictures to follow. Right now, though, I am spending time with my New Bed Buddy --Mr.Flu.

He hogs the covers.
He has cold feet.
He smells bad.
He whines too much.
He is an ogre.

In short, I want him to go away. I hope he does soon. Till then...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We interrupt this blog...

I love teaching.
What other job could you have
where you get paid to take a break??
Yeah. I am all over that.
I'll be in and out for the next few days, so no worries!
Oh... did I mention we have snow in the forecast? What's up with that??
In the meantime, party on.

Monday, March 7, 2011


This is what we woke to Sunday morning. By the way, the grey is our road and the other, well, is the little creek that became a big creek in a very short time. As a point of reference on the creek, usually we cannot see nor hear it. This is our bottom pasture -- all five acres on the house side of the creek and another three on the back ... all underwater...

In fact, we had so much rain, that all the farm critters started lining up, two-by-two, and looking for the Ark. In the course of no more than five hours, we experienced rain, rain w/ snow, snow, and then rain w/sleet.

Yeah. It's March....

Sunday, March 6, 2011

First Day Musings: Reaching Goals

Airman John

Good, bad, or indifferent, I have always been goal oriented. And, good, bad, or indifferent, this trait was passed on to my dear Airman. And, today, dear ones, he has acheived a goal that more than 80% of his classmates didn't. He earned one of these:

The one on the left is his first badge; the others come with time and experience. It is called a "crab" and this is what it stand for:

The Wreath is symbolic of the achievements and laurels gained in minimizing accident potentials, through the ingenuity and devotion to duty of its members. It is in memory of those EOD personnel who gave their lives while performing EOD duties.

The Bomb is copied from the design of the World War II Bomb Disposal Badge and represents the historic and major objective of the EOD attack, the unexploded bomb. The three fins represent the major areas of nuclear, conventional and chemical/biological interest.

Lightning Bolts symbolize the potential destructive power of the bomb and the courage and professionalism of EOD personnel in their endeavors to reduce hazards as well as to render explosive ordnance harmless.

The Shield represents the EOD mission — prevent a detonation and protect the surrounding area and property to the utmost.

While I alternate between crying from pride and great fear that he will now be in the field doing what the Air Force has trained him so carefully to do, he is ready, willing, and excited about his next challenge. He will be in Japan for a year serving our troops in a variety of ways. And, yes, I will be going to visit in six months, Lord willing.

What more can I say? I am very proud of you, Airman, and I am proud of your service and determination in times that were difficult and challenging. And, most of all, I am proud you are my son.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Warning: RANT!

Okay. So, do you have this kind of "friend" in your life?

You make plans. Confirm. Talk to confirm plans. Confirm. Plan your day around the plan. Confirm.

And then, it comes: The Voice Mail:

We can't do it today, because....


Today has not turned out so good, could we...


Just confirming that you are going to... (and it is ONE HOUR before you are supposed to... )

Come on. If I take the time to make the plans, confirm, and then confirm a second time, do you really think I am going to change my mind? Or, do you really think that I feel like being your friend is special because every single time  you have to make Some Kind of Change? Or, do you honestly believe that your are in control of every moment of every day in everyone's life (read: Mine) and that I am so happy that you are in control that I will shift my entire week, day, or minute to suit your Very Special Needs?

It seems to me these days that there are more of these kinds of people than the ones who make a plan, stick to it, and keep it as it was agreed. Everyone seems to want to make life All About Me. What about the other person? What about my time? My needs? My wishes? Maybe we shouldn't be friends anymore. Wait. Maybe we aren't friends. Maybe just I am the friend. Frankly, ya'll, I am worn out with some things and this is one.

It's like those people who call and never once ask how you are or anything about you. They rant, rave, weep, complain, and eat up however long it takes them to either wind down or for you to get a word in edgewise to end the conversation and then hang up. Or, when they have exhausted their soliloquy, they ask how you are only to cut you off with, "Yeah, I had that happen once... let me tell you..." and then you are doomed to being relegated to listening. Again. Jiminy, ya'll, is there no one who knows how to be a friend any more?? Doesn't anyone understand that friendship is a two-way street and that it takes two people to have one... that it is give and take??? Geez.

I quit shopping at a wonderful yarn store for just this reason. I couldn't bear the Disease of the Day when I went in. Don't you go to a yarn shop or craft store for the fun? I sure do. I don't want to hear the great recent sadness. Or, if that isn't timely, to hear a recanting of the Last Recent Sadness Until The Next One Comes. Please. Let me just order from someone online who wants my money and nothing more. At least we understand each other!

Now, how are you?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Not So Old-Fashioned

A certain farm gal has leapt into this century with this little doozie here. It isn't that I wanted it, but rather that I want a way to talk with my Airman while he is overseas and not spend his inheritance doing so. With this thing, er, phone, er, whatever it is, I can use Skype and we can chat over the internet for an unlimited time without breaking the Lazy Bee Farm bank. The only problem is ... I can't remember how to turn it on...

Remember Farm Gal Friday at Amy's:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Please Remember

Keep in your thoughts and prayers the Airmen who were attacked, wounded, and killed today in Germany as well as their families, please.

All our service people are in my thoughts and prayers daily. God keep and protect you and bring you home safely!

That Was Creepy

Wookie, as you well know, is quite elderly and, I keep fearing, drawing close to the end of his life. Now, he has good days and bad days. On the good ones, he runs through the house like the hounds of hades are on his heels and on the bad ones, well, he does nothing but sleep. So, I have been trying to come to terms that we will not pass over to the other side together and that I will be without him one of these days.

Last night he snuggled down between me and the Mister in bed and fell asleep with his head on my hand. About two hours later, I needed to roll over, so I did and he just walked Right Over Me as if it were business as usual, curled up against my tummy and off to sleep we went again.

A few hours later, I was in that weird stage of sleeping-and-not-sleeping and reached down to pet him. Usually he trills, but he didn't. This woke me a bit more; I petted again. Nothing. I touched his side and he was cold.

"Holey cow, this cat has died in my bed," I thought as I jumped up and turned on the light. "Mister! Wookie is dead. Oh my gosh. He's dead!" I began to weep.

Then, Wookie looked up with a very sleepy face as if to say, "No, silly. I was sleeping quite well until Someone woke me..."

I kissed his face and he snuggled back down. I didn't. How can you sleep after that?