Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Can't Help Myself: Rant

Okay. So I just heard on the news (it always makes me angry to listen to the news) that the National Basketball Association has reached an impasse in their collective bargaining with players. There is talk that players will be locked out and that they will lose money and benefits.

The reason?

The players refused a deal where the average player would earn FIVE MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. I'd like to slap someone. Hard. Until my arms get tired. And then I'd like to find someone who will hold them up until they get tired so I can just keep on smacking 'em.

Gas is over $3.50 a gallon. Milk is nearly $5. Most families, if both parents work, earn between $25000-46000 a year, depending on location. And these people who play a game for a  living, for crying out loud, are whining about their salaries? This isn't enough money? Folks, our values are seriously messed up if this is acceptable.

I am a native North Carolinian and as such it is a given that basketball is practically my religion. Guess what? I quit.

Call Me "Purty"

My friend Vicky and I took a load of books to donate to the library up on Whitetop Mountain this week and stopped at the little deli up there for lunch. As we sat on the porch eating and admiring the mountains, two fellas drove up in a truck. One got out and swaggered into the store, tipping his hat, and saying, "Morning, ladies" as he walked past. The other fella stayed in the truck. In a few minutes, he called out, "It sure is nice to see such purty ladies this morning!" Vicky and I looked around to see where they were.

"You two! You are sure some purty ladies! What you doing this morning?" He persisted. I answered him, "Just sitting here eating and admiring God's handiwork!"

Just then his buddy came out with a case of Budweiser. "Lunch," he quipped as he sauntered by.

As they drove off, I looked at Vicky. "I'd like being called a pretty lady more if he'd been sober."

I thought she would drop off the porch.

How's your week been?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

End of an Era

Uncle Benton Flippen died last night at the wonderfully full age of 92. My Aunt Lois left him about six years ago, after suffering a heart attack while she took a turkey from the oven for Thanksgiving dinner. (I have never gotten over that; turkey makes me feel that way, too...)

As a wee little Matty, I loved to see Uncle Benton and Aunt Lois. They lived next to my Great-Grandparents, where I spend part of my summer and whose farm my family now owns. Their only son, Larry, came to them later in life, and he was the apple of their eye. A big, rugged boy, he would run the woods with us, fish for flat heads in the creek, and climb trees to the top and set them to swinging (have you done that? Awesome!). I can still hear Aunt Lois screaming at him, "Now, Larry!" which Larry ignored totally. But, let Uncle Benton say, "Boy..." and Larry did what he was told Right Now.

From those memories comes the specialness of making molasses in the back of the farm at the old tobacco barn. My darling Uncles, Roscoe, Johnny, and Benton, along with a host of others, would set up the pan, build a nice, white hot fire, and start to stirring the green, thick cane juice. They'd walk along the edge with the paddles, talking, smoking, drinking pop, and telling lies. The women would bring lunch and dinner down and Uncle Benton could be convinced to "play a little" for us on his fiddle.

You see, while he didn't learn to read until he was 65, he learned the fiddle quite young. And, he was a marvel -- winnning more than 100 first places in fiddler's conventions all over the world. It was amazing to watch this man, who could barely see through his thick glasses and seldom said more than "Yep" or "Boy", come to life with the fiddle in his hands. He played up until last night when he went home to Jesus and Aunt Lois.

If you don't know anything about mountain fiddle music, here is a little clip of Uncle Benton from an interview when he was 82. There are many more videos on You Tube with him, if this wets your whistle for the music that makes my heart soar and my feet tippity-tap. After all, how can one be sad listening to Old Time music? I do hope God enjoys his latest musician and will clog a little when Uncle Benton sets up "Benton's Dream."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sometimes It's Hard...

Our neighbor, whom I have written about before, is moving. His partner of 39 years died last fall and now my friend has been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of dementia. His brain is slowly dying and he is unable to stay in his little house on top of the mountain.

This year has been a year of change for him: his partner dying so suddenly; his partner's dog dying from grief just a few weeks later; losing his license; giving up his home; and, lastly, losing what is left of his clarity. Yet, he keeps smiling and telling me that "God isn't done with me yet" and "God must have something left for me to do." He while he understands the changes and, in his clearer moments, grieves them deeply.

Today he called me panic striken. Something was wrong with his dog -- a small toy poodle named Teddie who is 13 years old and has survived a jaw tumor removal which has left him looking like he is leering after something really tasty. Teddie was bleeding from the hindend and we couldn't tell what was wrong. After a very long ride (it seemed to me -- my friend was crying, sobbing, kissing, babbling to the dog all while the dog howled) the vet determined it was just an infected anal gland and the dog would be fine. This started another round of weeping, but at least it was tears of joy!

As we left Teddie with the vet overnight for treatment, I suggested we take the "scenic route" home and get a pop and candy bar to enjoy. At first my friend was still crying, but I kept talking to him about how lovely this time of year is and how this ride is my favorite in all our county. Finally, I got him to look up at the mountains. A slight haze gave them an even bluer colour than we normally have. The valleys rolled away from the mountain tops, giving us an extraordinary mixture of very straight rowed farmland tangled with trees and deep, dark places. Breathtaking!

My friend said to me, "I hate to leave these mountains, but I know it is right. It's just hard."

I patted his hand, "Change always is, sweetie. I hate for you to leave. It's hard."

And we smiled at each other with tear-filled eyes, took another swig of Cheerwine, and looked at the mountains. Somehow, I know, God will help him walk through his valley, just as He helps me, and we will both reach the mountain tops.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Quick! Over Here!

A few weeks ago, I sold a hen to some really nice folks at the Farmer's Market. She had seemed such a docile little thing that we thought she would be fine going to live with their other three hens.


It seems that Tulullah (as she came to be called) became possessed. I don't mean just a little strange. I mean evil. Pure and simple, Evil!

She would chase their hens, peck at the nice people trying to give her a really nice house, scorn their feed and was just a really terrible adopted daughter. This went on for two and then three weeks! Bless their hearts! The new "parents" tried so hard to be good to her, but she was having No Part Of It. Talk about ingratitude...

Finally, it was decided she would come back here. It was just too stressful and upsetting for them to have a hen who didn't want to be a part of the family and I certainly understood that. We went through this with a lab a number of years ago and all of us, dog included, were just purely miserable. So, I was happy to welcome her back to the, um, flock.

Until today.

I went to their car in the farmer's market parking lot to get her out. Now, I have handled chickens nearly all my life and I know how to catch them. Reaching in, I grabbed her wings against her body and lifted her out. Somehow, I still don't know how, she twisted and jerked and, whoops, right out of my fingers she went, leaving a goodly number of wing feathers in my hands. She took off under the car and wouldn't come out except to taunt us.

She would walk out one side. We'd try to catch her. She run to the other. We'd try again. We tossed feed. We called. We shook bags at her. We tried the sneak attack.

Nothing worked.

Do you know how Absolutely Infuriating it is to try to catch a hen at a farmer's market at rush hour while people are standing around making jokes about "fresh eggs" and "a true farmer's market"? And, do you know how much I giggled everytime we would try to catch her and she would squirt away? And, can you imagine what Not Nice Words were rolling around in my head??

Finally, five of us herded her to the back corner in the lot. We set a decoy. I flagged a bag at her while three folks stood watch at each corner. Feeling pretty cocky (pardon the pun), the Great She strutted around a tire and looked over her shoulder as if to mock our efforts.

SWISH!! A very quick handed gentleman grabbed her by the legs! The Great She cursed, screamed, cried, and threatened to no avail. She was carried unceremoniously upside down, by her legs, to her waiting "carriage" (read: cat box) and dumped in. And here she stayed until this afternoon when I poured her out in the chicken coop.

Don't tell anyone, but I offered the Mean Girl hen ten dollars and all the corn she could eat if she would, er, make the Great She an offer she can't refuse... I am hoping to find nothing but feathers when I go feed this evening....

Friday, June 24, 2011

Painting, Singing... and the goats say, "Baaaaadddd"

I am painting my studio today and rearranging it. Pics to come. In the meantime, I am listening to this:

And singing, er, wailing, at the top of my voice... The goats say, "Baaaadddd..." which isn't as harsh as when the Airman, as a wee little Airman, took his dear face from my breast as I sang "House at Pooh Corner" and put his dear little hand over my mouth and said his very first word: "NO!"


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mind-Mapping Thursday

Last Thursday was such a hit, let's give it a go again...

We are cleaning my MIL's basement now. It is dark. It is full of trash and cobwebs. We found a mummified rat. We screamed. Now, no one will open anything without a lot of light and someone to hold their hand.

The Airman is quickly getting on my short list. I texted him: "I am in misery; we are in the basement." Response: "That stinks. I am in Hawaii."

Mother and I were loading some firewood into my truck. Me: "I know why we won't ever get old." Mother: "Why?" Me: "Because we won't sit down long enough."

For our anniversary this week, we decided to go to a little store up on Whitetop that has terrific deli sandwiches. When we got there, the deli had changed hours and closed. Instead, we shared a Hunt's pizza (he got the meat; I got the veggies), sodas, and Little Debbie cakes. It was perfect!

Never, never, never, no matter how great it sounds at the moment, wallpaper one wall with nothing but sheet music. You will learn the meaning of futile when you try to remove it.

You know you are married to the right person when you say: "I have a surprise! I've been waiting to show you!" when you are taking a leisurely drive and they respond: "Terrific! I have something to show you, too!" And then you find out it is the same thing.

And the best part of this week? It is June 23 and no one has been to the ER yet this summer. Will miracles ever cease??

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Coming Soon!

The Mister and his buddies' newest album: The Journey. This album has taken them more than 13 years to finish and was finally completed after one of the trio, John, died three years ago. Topper and The Mister decided after John's death that the album should be completed. Of course, it took them a year to realize this as they were deep in another project at the time. When everything kept going wrong on that album, they finally realized they were being nudged to complete this one.

The Journey chronicles the journey from lack of spiritual faith to complete faith. This video is from a performance in 1999 and is one of the first songs for the album. Enjoy!

Topper, The Mister, and John

If you'd like to hear bits of the album or learn more about the making of it, please click here .

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ten Things He Taught Me

Father's day is Sunday. Since this weekend looms as one of those kinds of weekends where I will wake up Monday and say, "Where the heck did it go??" I want to share the ten things I learned from my Daddy in honor of Father's Day.

10. Don't believe everything. When the doctor tells you that you have six months to live, don't believe him. When the doctor dies, go to his funeral and send flowers. Do this for at least 25 years.

9. Work hard. If a person is paying you $5 an hour, still work as though you are earning $25 an hour. Soon, you will.

8. Love. Never tell your children you love them, but show them everyday by asking their Mother to call and make sure they are okay or to give the latest weather report.

7. Stick with it. When one way doesn't work, stand back, say a few choice words, and then try another way. Chances are there is more than one way to do something.

6. Use a hammer. When repairing something, a hammer will always work. Even if you smash it to little bits, it is taken care of and out of the way.

5. Own a tractor. On a tractor one cannot hear any complaining, whining, or useless talking. And, when the woman is crying over the fact that there are still tomatoes in the garden, you can take your tractor and plow and turn them over. Problem solved and no hammer needed.

4. Make a list. When the above mentioned wife says, "You need to do..." the best response is, "It is on the list." Somehow that makes it appear that you are actually going to do it.

3. Eat frequently. You never know when you might get another chance. I think that says it all.

2. Take a nap. Whenever you sit down, take the time to snooze for five minutes or ten or fifteen...

1. Love life. Laugh. Love. Believe. Enjoy. No matter what happens, philosophically remind everyone nearby that things work out as they should. And believe it! There is no use in saying, "If only..."

My Daddy is one remarkable man. He has created a very full and successful life from simple beginnings to great success -- not just monetary success, but accomplishments as well. My earliest memories of him are of his very long legs (he has a 36" in seam) stretching to nearly the sky as he bent down to pick me up to put me on the top of the refrigerator so I would be out of the way as he and Mother cooked dinner. It was the only time in my life I could see the top of his head.

He took us fishing, hunting, gardening, and to church. He spanked us when we needed it and loved us after he did. He has high standards, but they are no higher for us than for himself. I am very proud of my Daddy.

Happy father's day, George!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mind-Mapping Thursday

As I feel rather random today, I thought I would share just how my mind works -- randomly...

I have a flat tire on the Goat Mobile as a result of running over the spade of a fence post when unloading feed yesterday. It is still flat. I have to change it. It might stay flat another day.

The truck still has a load of wood on it because I thought it was going to storm yesterday, so I rushed to feed the does and kids, but then it didn't storm, but the Mister came home and we decided to go ahead and load Copper (the Dexter bull) to take to Market today, so we did but it took two hours, but he is loaded and gone. (Yes, I know that is a super long run-on sentence!) I joyfully waved "so long" this morning as the trailer went out of sight. And the truck still has wood on it...

When moving the cattle trailer last night, the Mister caught the edge of the chicken fence with the fender. Guess who has to rebuild a chicken fence? The Mister. *giggle*

After making coffee that only Airmen like (read: with oil on top, bleh), I have finally mastered using my stovepot perculator. It takes four minutes, not ten, to perk a really fine cuppa. You see the problem.

For the past two nights it has been in the 40s here. We had to turn on the heat last night to take the chill off. That's wrong, that's wrong, that's wrong.

Yesterday I had lunch with my dearest friends Sara and Julian. Their eight-year-old daughter Corrie wanted to show me how she can ride her bike. She did a great job. Then, I asked if I could try. Her bike is an 18" affair. I rode it down the drive way, giggling all the way. So did Corrie. "You look like a clown," she hooted.

Yeah. That's me. A clown.

Have a great Thursday and find something to laugh about!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Better Wake Up Skinny

This summer, thus far, I have done little more than physical labor -- planting, hoeing, loading hay, loading firewood, moving feed, fencing, cleaning buildings, cleaning houses, chasing naughty goats, and hauling trash. It looks like with all this activity that I should weigh seven pounds.

Not by any stretch of the imagination is this true.

Somehow, my weight stays nearly the same. Really.

This is pushing me to saying some very nasty things about my metabolism. Things you might not want your mother to hear.

Why is it that our bodies immediately go into the "overwork! too little food!! warning! Warning!! WARNING!! Hold onto every calorie and squeeeeeezzzzze it for every single tinee tiney bit of FAT you can" mode?? I know nutritionists believe it is to keep us from starving to death quickly in times of famine, but can't my body tell when I am working like 12 men or 1 woman that I am NOT starving to death? I am moving, for crying out loud! If I were hungry, I would be in the kitchen, not on the back of the truck!

Today I have loaded an entire truckload of firewood, TWICE! Once from the field to a trailer and then to the truck and, in a few minutes, I will UNLOAD it to the wood pile. That should negate the ice cream cone I had when I went for feed, don't you think?? And the cookies I ate between loading from the trailer to the truck... and the soda... wait... er.... nevermind....

We now resume our regular blog. Look! Over there! It's a goat....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

He Made It!

Today my Daddy celebrates another birthday! It is remarkable considering that last year at this time, we weren't sure we would have him another day, much less another year. After his heart stopped twice, once in his surgeon's hands, our fears were well grounded. However, since having his "power tool" installed (defibrilator), he has done quite well.

Today is also Flag Day. It is a day to remember the formal adoption of our Nation's flag in 1777.

When I was a wee Matty, I couldn't understand why the flags were flying on Daddy's birthday. Surely he is special, I thought, if the whole country put out flags on his day! And, of course, Daddy would confirm that repeatedly.

"See? The flags are out for me! " he would declare. And we bought it. After all, he was our Daddy and we knew he was special.

A rather funny thing about my special Daddy, though. He isn't, or wasn't, who he thought he was for a long time. Seems that when he was born at home, my Grandmother Ada, who was a force that would have taken on the entire European theatre and won, declared his name to be one thing. My Grandfather, minister, furniture maker, and very quiet man, declared this son would have the name he chose. Of course, it seemed Grandmother had won and so off went Grandpa to the county seat to record Daddy's birth. No more was said and Daddy went by the name Grandmother gave him.

Leap forward 40 years, 4 children, 1 marriage, 1 tour of duty in Germany. Mother and Daddy were celebrating their 25th anniversary with a trip to the family property in Scotland. Birth certificates were needed to get their passports. The courthouse had burned in their home county, so they had to write for them from the state capital.

Surprise, surprise! Grandpa won! And, he hadn't said a thing about it! He let Daddy and Grandmother use the other name. Suddenly there was quite a bit of drama. First, he wasn't who he thought he was. Second, he wasn't legally married. Third, well, you can guess what his children had to say about that. A flurry of attorney appointments later, Daddy had his name legally changed to what he thought it was all along. And, he went to his knees and asked Mother to remarry him. She wouldn't. Seems that 25 years had filled her in on who he was and she just wasn't going to do it again. However, she would live with him... and has for a grand total of 56 years. At the time, though, it was scandalous.

So here we are; he is finally who he thought he was and has enjoyed, I hoped, this extra year of life. Speaking for myself, I am so glad he has been with us another year. And, surely the flags are truly flying just for my Daddy. Happy Birthday, George!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday, Monday, Can't Trust That Day

Monday has been stellar. So far today I have:

Dropped a call to the Airman and couldn't get him back;
Left my gas money at home and had to come back for it;
Forgot to mail my Netflix;
Couldn't get the straps loosened to tie on a load of hay;
Took four hours to get hay when it should have taken three;
Ate Fritos and potato chips for lunch with a creme soda (okay -- that was a good thing);
Got my truck stuck with a load of hay on it and I am not near the barn;
Got kicked by Louie when I was trimming his hooves (and he is a big boy);
Forgot my bank password.

I think I will take a nap. I am too afraid to try anything else!

How's your day been?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First Day Musings --- An Eye for an Eye

Warning: Rant below.

This week a friend and I had a very interesting exchange. She confided she had been to her doctor for "dope" -- read: anti-depressants. The doctor asked her if she had thoughts of "doing harm to herself or others." My friend stated, laughingly, "all the time!" As we talked, we realized that we both share a common, er, concern: that we feel as though every direction we turn someone wants something from us.

That night, I picked up my current night-night book, Land of Long Ago, by Eliza Calvert Hall Obenchain, and started reading the next little story "An Eye for an Eye." In the story, Aunt Jane relates how a friend of hers had a sort of nervous breakdown after a sermon on an eye for an eye -- that what we give out comes back to us in kind. The friend's husband, in this story, was the victim of some kind of destructive prank: hoes left in the field, grain thrown around the barn, cows out, and so forth. In short, someone was undoing all his work! As the story unfolded, it turns out his wife (Aunt Jane's friend) was returning to him what he had done to her all their married life: undone her work. He had come into the house with muddy feet, thrown his clothes around, left dirty dishes scattered, and so on. We all, as women, can understand this, can't we? So, she was giving him an eye for an eye back.

As I read this story, I thought about how so many women, myself included, struggle with conflicting feelings of insufficiency. We try to be all things, but, in short, we are a dab of this and that. Very few of us manage to successfully be all things to all people. Thus, we end up spread far too thin and very unhappy. In fact, if the truth be told, I dare say nearly all us at one time or another has thought: "If I were just dead, this pain would end."

Where do these feelings start? Is it the fact that magazines shout at us that we should have this kind of home? Or is it those TV shows with the perfectly decorated and maintained house? Or, is it the myth that as women we can be all things to all people? Or maybe it is the lie of so-called "radical feminism" that we are better than our male counterparts and as such we should be able to do it all and still be thin, dressed impecably, and pleasant.

Whatever it is, I am tired of playing the game. Are you? My sink has dirty dishes; my flowerbeds are overrun with weeds; dirty laundry is piled head high on the washer; and the goats' stalls need a good cleaning. I can't do it all. I can only do what I can do. And, I am not going to sacrifice the joy of living with the prison of doing, of keeping up with whoever is making the rules. In short, I am taking my ball and going home --- even if it isn't perfect.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Okay... Just a LIttle Mean...

Took two bucks to be castrated this morning; the new owner wanted wethers and, after a little dickering, we decided I would take care of it.

The Mister and I loaded Chuck and Charlie into the carrier in the back of the Forester / Goat Mobile and off we went. Because the Mister had to go on to work, I had the chore, er, pleasure, of taking the boys into the vets' office alone. They were really good. Except, as with children, they pottied themselves all the way there and back, which meant I was pottied on all the way there and back each time I picked them up.

Since they were so knocked out when we got home, I had to leave them in the back of the Goat Mobile until they woke. Chuck was up and at it pretty quickly, bawled for his Momma until I lifted him out, and then went right in for a little Momma love. Charlie, however, has had a tough time waking up. He will wake a little, thrash, roll, pee, and bawl. Then, he is right back to sleep.

I have giggled in the most unkind way! And, it reminded me of this:

I guess you can see how really sick my sense of humor is... Poor fella and poor Charlie. Charlie will have extra cookies tonight. And I won't giggle in front of him. Really.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

They Were Here

Last night when we went to work the potato bed, we discovered a new treasure:

I love finding these around the farm. We have a nice collection of arrowheads, grinding stones, and spear heads. We have always been called "Potato Creek" with the designator of "Virginia side" or "North Carolina side." The aboriginal people lived here tens of thousands of years ago, as long as the New River has flowed, I am certain, and have left behind little reminders that this was once their home.

Somehow, it makes me smile when I find one of these goodies. It seems, as I hold it, I can feel the hands that made it. I can feel them sitting in the sunshine, bent over their work, planning and dreaming about how they will care for their family with their hand fashioned tools. I can hear them singing under their breath and hear the children playing in the field nearby. Wood smoke fills my nostrils and the smell of cooking fish and potatoes drifts in the air. The sky is a blue from my childhood long before the smog became so bad that we can no longer see the aurora borelas as when I was six. There is no noise beyond that of the small band living together, growing their crops, and then moving to the Piedmont where it is warmer for winter.

Then, I am whisked back to now usually by some rather large dog who still believes he is a puppy and wonders at my standing and looking at something he cannot see. I like to think of these as gifts from those people -- a way to connect our lives and to somehow demonstrate that live continues here when we go There. I wonder what the woman who lives here in another ten thousand years might think of my treasures...

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Think I Know..

Today I proctored End of Grade testing in my nephews' school. I worked with a fifth grader and a seventh grader on testing for Math. Yeppers. Me. Math.

Anyhow... there are two parts to the test -- calculator assisted and non-calculator assisted. The questions for the calculator assisted were like this:

A bell rings once a minute. How many times will it ring in one hour?

One student answered "20" and the other answered "45." I felt my eyebrows start to twitch....

The other part of the test, the non-calculator questions were thus:

You have two triangles that are similar. Which sets of lines are comparable?

Now, the student is to examine two drawings of triangles that are the same except one is larger than the other. Correct answer, obviously, is all of 'em. With BOTH kids, they picked up their pencils and started writing down numbers like crazy! To what end?? That wasn't going to tell them something they had to visually compare!

So, here's what I realized.

Public school, and no child left behind, are dismal failures. Parents are failures. Our society is a failure. In short, we are all failures. Why? Because we have forgotten how to think and, thusly, we have let our wee ones fall into the same trap.

How hard it is to talk with your child instead of leaving them with the TV? How hard it is to read a book, share a song, walk in nature, or develop a hobby (besides ball of some sort -- which I think is fine -- but there needs to be more!)?? How hard it is to let, no, encourage a child's natural curiousity lead their learning?

Holey moley. No wonder I want to weep when I get 'em in college -- they don't know an hour has 60 minutes or that by simply opening their eyes they can learn a lot.

Who's with me? Let's dump all this standardized learning and get back to basics! Remember, these are the people who will not only run the world one day, but will also select our nursing homes...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

First Day Musings -- Get Your Head Out

Apple woke us at dawn screaming bloodly murder. She is a four-month-old doe whose mother, frankly, isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you know what I mean. And it seems our Apple has inherited that intellictual ability as well. Yes, I adore Apple. She is cinnamon with just the tiniest bit of white on one back hoof and on her left side. And she has this great way of tilting her head and "flying" her ears when she looks at you. She is the doe in the front in our banner, if you care to take a look. She is cute in spite of the fact that she should be on the short bus.

But, I digress.

It seems that our Miss Apple has a knack for not realizing the size of her head. And as such, she is always getting it stuck somewhere -- the fence usually. But, because she is so sweet tempered, she just sits down and screams until we come cut her out -- no fighting, pulling, or wrestling -- just calm resignation to the situation until someone comes.

As I went out in my jammies to cut her out this morning, I was thinking how her attitude could serve the two-legged variety varmint as well. How many times do we push and pull in a situation that we really have no control over at all? How many times do we spend a lot of energy grousing when really all we have to do is just sit quietly and wait?

I am reminded of the Scripture: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Maybe that is just the lesson silly Miss Apple has taught me. That, and to keep the wire cutters handy...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

To Market, to market

{imagine a picture here of all kinds of great things to eat and enjoy ---- breads, candies cookies, scones, greens, eggs, meats.... yummers. ..... }

I love Farmer's Market Day! The Wytheville Farmer's Market has such a wonderful energy and vitality that makes getting up at oh-dark-thirty quite worthwhile! If I didn't earn enough to more than pay for gas, I would still do it!

Today I had goat milk soap, lavender sachets, dishcloths, market bags, eggs, and mint-chocolate or lemon-poppy seed or orange-cranberry scones for sale. Albeit, while it doesn't seem like a lot. It was a stellar day. I mean stellar!

Our market has so many interesting things: alpaca roving, herbs, all kinds of great greens (lettuce, kale, arugula, and such) eggs, eggs, and more eggs, three kinds of soap (how wonderful is that), a wide variety of baked goods, meat such as lamb, mutton, and beef, organic charcoal (wouldn't some lamb be fabulous over that??), plants, jelly, mint tea, homemade candies, and even a wonderful pillow maker! What is so fabulous is that we help each other by recommending all kinds of connecting goods from other vendors. We didn't plan it that way; it just happens!

The best part is that we are all committed to growing as naturally as we can and to provide the best product we can. Think of it: when you shop at a grocer's, you are getting food that could have been picked more than a week ago before it was even ripe and before all the nutrients were developed. At a local market, you are getting foods that are more flavorful, much fresher (most of us pick on Friday), and certainly leaves a much smaller carbon footprint. Plus, you get to know your vendor and can even make special orders happen Just For You!

I have to admit: I didn't shop locally until we started the market business last year. I wasn't sure I'd like it. Actually, it felt too intimate for me. But, having sold at a market for a year now, I can tell you that is the best part of the relationship. We remember our customers and try to ask about things they have shared with us: grandchildren, health issues, weddings, deaths, or whatever. It is really like doing business with family!

If you don't support your local market, please give it a try. You can find out if there is one near you at this site. Yep, we're there and you will be greatly surprised by how many folks are! Won't you let me know if you visit your market and what you think of it?

As Julia Child said: Bon Appetit!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Start at the front door

One of the best things I learned in home ec a million years ago was how to clean a room or house. Start at the Front Door... or by any door...

The concept is simple, but I am amazed by how many people don't seem to know this one bit of vital information for successful cleaning.

By starting at the front door and working one's way around a room, one can clean as they go, putting up and sorting out, without having to back track. It always clears the way for one coming in and out as they continue to clean.

I have applied this to my clearing out upstairs and it has worked like a dream. While the room looks terrible right now, since it is being moved to another space, I know when I am done, it will be organized and cleared up in a few hours instead of a few days. This makes me very happy.

But, for now, I am going to apply this practice to the downstairs. While the Mister is a fabulous guy, he fails miserably at keeping house. And, after four days of not doing much of anything, I am ready to fluff up my house and cook some dinner. Smoothies have grown tiresome. And, a stitch fell out this morning so it should be okay to start some softer foods. I never thought I would tire of ice cream....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Setting Things Straight

"The Lord sends us the pieces," she observed, "but we can cut 'em out and put 'em together pretty much to suit ourselves." At first, life "looks pretty much like a jumble o' quilt pieces before they're put together; but when you get through with it, or pretty nigh through, as I am now, you'll see the use and the purpose of everything in it. Everything'll be in its right place."  -- Aunt Jane of Kentucky

Today I opened the "door of memories" in my what-you-may-call-it room -- the large English armoire that houses all my fabrics. It hasn't been opened in a long time. A very long time.

As I was sorting through the fabrics, I thought about each one and what each meant to me. I had forgotten the online quilting group I joined in the early 1990s -- yet here were two pieces of fabric with name tags  --Judy Ashe and Dorothy Burke. Instantly, I recalled their emails and our exchanges. I thought of how much fun it was each month to select a theme and colours, each making a block, and then last month's winner selecting the next winner. I was fortunate enough to win one month -- a lovely exchange featuring a block called "the garden path." These blocks had been put into an on-the-point layout and had waited patiently, through under-graduate and graduate school, death, loss, and changes I couldn't have expected, to be quilted. It shall be.

Then, I recalled Aunt Jane of Kentucky and how very much I loved her story. Through the collection of short stories, Aunt Jane imparts much wisdom about life and death; about sin and forgiveness; about hate and love. I had to look a bit to find the quote above, but it pretty much sums up how I have felt as I have waded through my what-you-may-call-it room.

A little more than 12 years ago, I was a stay at home mom, planning an early retirement, and making home comfy. I baked, gardened, quilted, knit, sewed clothing, curtains, tablecloths, planned parties, volunteered, and, in short, had the life I wanted. But, it changed in the time it takes to stop breathing and I was left with a lot of memories in that little room of mine that I didn't want to deal with. So, I replaced with newer things, newer projects, and left the others sitting alone. The memories were too hard to deal with, frankly.

However, today is a new day. I have fingered fabric that was in the process of becoming a Country Bride's quilt for our bed; I have lovingly smoothed fabric left from shorts or dresses; I have set aside three quilts waiting for finishing touches. I have sorted out fabrics traded, selected, or collected for quilts that will not be made. And, I survived.

It is time to get on with all parts of living. While I have moved on in many ways, this was the hardest thing I have dealt with -- projects, like dreams, that were unfinished. However, these projects will be finished and enjoyed and passed down. And new dreams have taken the place of the old. That is how life should be.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What To Do When You Aren't Supposed To...

Since I am under strict orders to NOT bend over or pick up anything heavy nor to get "over heated" (in this weather?? Really??), I am cleaning my what-you-want-to-call-it room -- craft, sewing, weaving, knitting, spinning, quilting... Oh, Geez. No wonder I am having problems with it.

We have a guest, a real honest-to-goodness guest, coming to stay with us a few days in July. Now, the only person who has stayed in this house in years, besides us, is the Airman. And, he completely gets the bed being in the library. However, we think no one else will.

So, we have decided to rearrange the upstairs. This isn't an easy task, frankly. When I lived in this big, old house alone, it was quite simple. Library, sewing -- et al -- room, guest room, workout room -- all were upstairs. When the Mister and I married, well, I lost a lot of rooms. He was supposed to just take a closet, but there you go, he had stuff.

The upstairs has a really fine layout of four large rooms and a huge landing along with a bathroom. So, we are taking the back two rooms and bathroom and making a guest suite. This means all my stuff has to move to the front bedroom (my favorite room in the house) which currently houses all the Mister's instruments (he plays everything except bagpipes). His music things are going to the other small room until his recording studio is done this fall.

In my infinite wisdom, I decided I needed to clear out and reorganize before I move my things. Bad idea. Really Bad Idea. I have so many unfinished projects that I am ashamed. And, I have found, to date, six pairs of embroidery scissors, two pinking shears, five pairs of fabric scissors, and three rotary cutters. We shall not speak of the buttons and rick rack.

I am determined to not spend one thin dime on anything for storage. Thus, I need your input. What is your favorite way to store items from your what-you-want-to-call-it room? What works best for certain items? Help! I am drowning in stuff!