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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. present. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, books, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. jam, bread maker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. writer. traveler. homebody.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sabbath Keeping


"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
~ Joshua 24:15 ~

"A coward turns away, but a brave man's choice is danger." ~ Euripides ~

"Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain...to feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices - today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but to embrace it." ~ Kevyn Aucoin ~

"Your diet is a bank account.
Good food choices are good investments."

"Our destiny is determined by our choices, not by chance."

"You are your choices." ~ Jean Paul Sartre ~

"You are free to make whatever choice you want
but you are not free from the consequences of that choice."

"Character is what which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses or avoids."  ~ Aristotle ~

"The difficulty in life is the choice." ~ George Moore

"The most common despair is to be in despair of not choosing, or willing, to be oneself; but...the deepest form of despair is to choose to be another than oneself." ~ Kierkegaard ~

"Life presents many choices. 
The choices we make determine our future."

"May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears." ~ Nelson Mandela ~

"...but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of he world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are."

Please pray for ~ Jim ~ Gladys ~ Diana and her Hero ~ Sara and her family ~ Anita ~ Nancy ~ Patty and daughters ~ Julie and Nancy ~ Sandra ~

Monday, May 16, 2016

Thistle Cove Poppet's Maiden Voyage


Y'all know how difficult it is for me to leave home. Truly, leaving my animals, farm and home is hard enough but to leave sights like these six white tail deer above...dang near impossible!


Watching Anna as she considers climbing the maple tree.


In the past two weeks, Donald has been working on my 1965 Serro Scotty Gaucho Sportsman camper. Baby got new shoes last week, along with a brand new (as in there wasn't one) spare tire. Beloved Sistah and I drove this little gem home the day after Dave died...we drove it on a prayer and faith because it never dawned on either of us to check for a spare. Beloved Sistah's husband had packed the wheel bearings but none of us even considered a spare. Babes in the wood, I'm telling ya! Absolutely clueless!

Oh wait...the first of the story...Dave wanted to go to the beach so I took him to Myrtle Beach, SC. While there, Beloved Sistah called and said, "Sissie, I've found your camper!" The then owner sent photos (isn't technology absolutely amazing?!) not of 'my' camper but of a camper in a magazine and said, "This is, basically, what I've got" which should have been a red flag...but wasn't. Sistah and her husband looked at it, I was told, "Well, yeah, it's a lot like the photos" so I looked at Dave. His response? "You've always wanted a little canned ham camper; buy it. Life is short, buy it now." So, we did some fancy bank wire transfers, BIL packed the bearings and they towed it back to their house where it sat for a few weeks.

When I asked Dave if he would go camping with me, he replied, "Well, the last time I went camping, it was with Uncle Sam and he didn't pay me nearly enough. You just camp your dream and I'll be at home if you need bail money." LOL

A few days later, I went to central VA to host Mom and Daddy's 60th wedding anniversary luncheon and to pick up the Scotty camper. On Saturday morning, Dave died very suddenly and unexpectedly and the subsequent phone calls are still crazy in my memory. I went into shock and the next years are still a blur but I do remember the morning after Dave's death, Beloved Sistah and I driving the camper to the farm, towing my dream that Dave never saw.


This past weekend, Cabalas had a nationwide "Ladies in the Outdoors" event so some Sisters on the Fly members and I met up in Bristol, VA. Rachel drove from Ohio to join in the festivities and stayed in Nancy's camper.

Above photo...on the right, Ruth from TN has a 1959 canned ham but, my apologies, I can't remember the model. On the left, Nancy from VA has a 1969 Serro Scotty and...ta da!...in the middle is


Thistle Cove Poppet! 

Dave named the camper "Cove Toy" which we had put on the first license plates...although, come to think of it, he never saw those tags either. They are still in the back window and that's where they'll stay...unless a state trooper tells me they can't.


I'm waiting on permanent tags that say "Poppet" which will be attached to the license plate holder. My chairs have pillows for back support, wool blankets to ward off the chill and the ottoman (foot stool) is made from kilm rugs. 



This is my outdoor kitchen...that dang grill was thrown away when we left yesterday but it did do the job of cooking the chicken on Saturday night. The Coleman cook stove, second shelf, I've had for almost 40 years and the 3-tier metal server and metal basket are both even older. The metal basket is where kitchen stuff is kept.


Because space is at a premium, stuff is kept in baskets of whatever variety; the trouble is...remembering what's in each basket so when they have covers, I use masking tape as a 'memory aid'.  In the above photo, the kitchen table is set up buffet style and Ruth is calling her husband to tell him someone stole her ottoman.

Yep, some fool helped themselves to her ottoman...a beautiful blue and green stripe to match her camper decor. When I first got there, I kept all my stuff inside a locked camper and car and didn't set up camp until I was ready to stay at camp (in the parking lot). About the only person I've never had 'trust issues' with was Dave and I still trust no one until they've earned my trust. Oh yeah. I'm nice, polite and all that jazz but I just have low expectations and am seldom disappointed. lol After the ottoman theft, one of us was always at camp...we took turns going into Cabala's, shopping, toilet breaks, etc.


From left...Ruth, Nancy, Rachel and me, sitting in front of the huge fireplace as you walk into the store. It was a great trip...allowed me to camp close to home and work out the little kinks one has with a vintage camper. The icing on the cake...Cabala's had daily drawings for a $50 gift certificate and I hadn't been home an hour when I received a phone call saying I'd won!
 woohoo! Cabala's...here I come!


As I rounded the bend at the Cove Volunteer Fire Department, I was met with a bevy of vintage tractors. The TATERS were out in full force...Tazewell Antique Tractor...something or other, can't remember, were taking a beautiful, but chilly, drive. I'm beginning to believe God doesn't want me to leave the Cove because He knows I'll never be as happy anywhere as here...at least until I get to Heaven!

Thistle Cove Poppet performed brilliantly and made me proud of her stellar maiden voyage and, very soon, I'll have more photos of the inside. Poppet has a partially new paint job, some divine bedding, the porta potty worked well and other wonders!

Some of you have been reading my blog for many years (I've been blogging more than ten years!) and know of the happiness, joys, sorrows, Dave's death, my journey through the shocking grief and fog...you've prayed for and with me, you've sent such kind notes, etc. Yes, I am woefully behind in blog visiting but know this...I am not behind in tucking you in prayer. God brings your name to mind and I, immediately, tuck you in prayer. I don't need to know the whys because God knows; I just need to say, "God be with ____ today, right now as s/he goes about her/his day. Give them peace, mercy, grace, joy, happiness"...whatever God brings to mind. He loves you with an everlasting love and underneath are His everlasting arms...it's a privilege to remember you in prayer.

Life is good again; ain't it grand!

Ponder this ~ "God cannot endure that unfestive, mirthless attitude of ours in which we eat our bread in sorrow, with pretentious, busy haste, or even with shame. Through out daily meals He is calling us to rejoice to keep holiday in the midst of our working day." 
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer ~ 

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Sabbath Keeping



"Honor your father and your mother."

"It is through consecration 
that drudgery is made divine."
~ author unknown

"We carry our mothers inside us,
their voices, their habits surprise us,
slipping out suddenly,
after we're opened to life's pain.
When we've discovered that we are the sum of their stories,
that we must love their defeats as we do their victories.
Triumph and tragedy, mothers and daughters,
they beget each other like Russian dolls -
forever enclosing and being enclosed."
~ "Russian Dolls", author unknown ~

"We need to quit struggling and start snuggling."
~ Corrie Ten Boom ~

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Honor your father and mother, 
for this is the first commandment with promise."

Please keep in prayer - Anita ~ Patty and family ~ Jim ~ Vicki and family ~ Diana and her Hero ~ Ronnie ~ Julie and Nancy ~ Sara and family ~ Sue and family ~ Sandra ~

Saturday, May 07, 2016

"The wound is the place where the light enters you." -Rumi-

Dear Dave,

God restored the years the locust had eaten when He gave you to me as a friend, then husband. He and you gave me the best one-third of my life on this piece of heaven on earth, this Sanctuary we named Thistle Cove Farm. When I tell people how we met, then courted six years before finding our sanctuary here, the place of our heart, they gape. Really, there's no other way to describe the look on their faces: they gape at me. Apparently, in this day and age, six months is a long time and six years unheard of.


Your life had symmetry. You had twenty-two years then you and Cathy, the love of your youth, had twenty-two years, then you and I had another twenty-two years. Yes, it's true those first years were rocky, for both of us, as we made our way forward and, truth be told, we had our share of arguments but even they were overshadowed by the good great times.


I was used to seeing women grieve; indeed, aunts and grandmothers taught me, by example, how to grieve, but your grief staggered me in its enormity. It was bone crushing, soul baring and as relentless as an incoming tide. Yes, females taught me how they grieved and to help you I did what I did for them...I listened. I listened mostly without comments, without judgement, without condemnation and for as long as you wanted to talk. Day after day, night after night I listened as you worked your way through the darkness but, I have to admit, I'm so glad I never met Cathy because I'm afraid I would have compared myself to her. You never negatively compared the two of us, at least if you did, you never told me and I'm grateful for that gift.


Once, someone asked what did I see in you and I thought, "If you have to ask, I'll never be able to explain." I watched and waited as you made your way through the darkness, the alcohol and nicotine and thought, "Whatever you have left when you come through this is worth waiting for. I will wait." You loved Cathy with everything you had and, in time, loved me as well and, yes, it was worth the wait.

The three of us, God, you and I, built something wonderful, strong and glorious on this farm. We're leaving it far, far better than we found it; it's a testimony to love, hard work and God's grace and mercy. We've shared meals, gardens, festivals, animals, sheep shearing, the house and the land with family and friends as well as people we met the day they showed up at the door or camped in the meadow. All these years I've lived a life full of grace, filled with happiness and, perhaps more importantly, contentment. Within my heart and soul these old Appalachian Mountains hold a racial memory of kith and ken gone before both here and in those craigs and vales of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. You felt the same way once you acclimated to living daily life at a calming, peaceful, slow, love-growing pace.


The first time I saw this valley I knew I was home and, no matter what happened or didn't happen, I knew we could make a life here. We made a life the likes of which neither of us even dared to dream and as grand as it's been and as hard as we worked, God made it all come alive. He has lived here, with us, as surely as the wind rattles the trees, and has seen every sunrise, watched every sunset, heard every cry, wiped every tear, wept with every sorrow, rejoiced in all our happiness. All the while, He encouraged our dreams and gave us strength for both the journey and the work.

We've lived deeply! Our lives have been rich lives that are evidenced in every nook and cranny. Every stick of furniture, every animal, almost every blade of grass has a story, a history both before and since; to de-clutter is an act of treason, of tossing old friends to the curb, of saying, "You no longer matter." It all matters because being rescued, rescuing and the stories make up our lives. We rescued each other, then other people and, along the way, countless animals. I can walk to each unmarked space and remember who, lovingly, was laid to rest. Thistle Cove Farm became Sanctuary for all, beginning with you and I, who needed the succor of God's grace, mercy, love and kindness. It's been the same grace, mercy, love and kindness of God that's kept me safe since your Home going. The bitter agony of losing you is still a punch to my gut. It still catches me by surprise, causes tears to gush, brings me to my knees but I was right...had it not been for the animals, I would not have made it when you died. I would have given up and missed all the blessings God has for me but God has kept me safe. He's given me His strength, His hope and finally His peace. Yes, God has kept me but I'm still waiting for the light to enter the place my heart used to be.



Dave, we lived life on this farm and we lived it well and true! You grew me into the wife you wanted and I, willingly, became that woman. Yes, I trusted you...I do trust you...that much and you've never let me down. You were the husband women dream of...the words 'provider and protector' show your image in the dictionary. As importantly, you saved me from myself just as I saved you from the darkness and, in those final days, God saved you as you made your peace with Him. Ours is story after story after story of saving; it's what we did best.


You were as surprised to find love again as I was to find it the first time. I was content with friendship but love was the gift when unwrapped and now it seems the wound in the space that was you is so broken and raw, is healing even possible? I don't know. I am simply lost without you. I want to move forward, but I know I cannot unless God leads my way.


The Good Book says to everything there is a season and, maybe, this is the season of saying good-by to this particular Sanctuary, this beautiful valley, our peaceful farm. Dave, don't worry; even though I am no longer sure of anything else I know God loves me and is preparing me. For what, I don't know but I know He has a good plan for my life and I still choose to trust Him. He holds me in His right hand of mercy and will never fail me.
Dave, is tu gaol mo chridhe


Good-bye, Beloved.

Ponder this ~ "And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth, "You owe me." Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky." ~ Hafez ~

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

A Handmade, Homemade Life

~ tired, old fence ~

Can anyone tell me why restaurants say, for example, "homemade ice cream" when it's clearly not homemade? Just another something to puzzle me.

April came and went and, mostly, so did I. Seems I was always getting ready to go, going or coming home. Lest you think it was for fun, it was, mostly, more work, different location. Except for that lovely first weekend spent camping with delightful SOTF women and, thankfully, I have a wonderful farm sitter which works well for both of us.

Last month I decided to make homemade sausage...as in sausage made at home. If you're interested in dong the same...either purchase ground pork or buy a roast and grind it at home. I purchased about six pounds of ground pork


then added my own spices


Himalayan pink salt, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, Hungarian safran (saffron), Hungarian sweet paprika, Italian herbs and crushed Malabar black pepper.


Then, I decided the mixture needed a tad bit of Spanish hot paprika to give it a little lift.


From top, clockwise:

2 tablespoons Italian herbs
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tablespoon Spanish hot paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 huge pinches Hungarian safran
and generous grindings of salt and pepper


Six pounds of pork made approximately three and a half dozen sausages
~ cooked, homemade sausage ~

and they were tasty when made for breakfast the next morning. The mixture was allowed to rest, covered, in the fridge so the flavors could meld.

~ Sadie, one of my constant companions ~

Looking forward to May - plant the garden (thanks John and Daniel for plowing and discing the garden!),

~ plowed, ready to disc ~

new fencing, a quick trip to Cabala's for Ladies Day Out and (hopefully) taking my little 1965 Serro Scotty...her maiden voyage! I say 'hopefully' because Donald has to help me get her road ready.



The sugar maples are leafing out nicely and spring has arrived on Thistle Cove Farm and on neighboring farms -


I've been huffing rosemary like a crazed woman but, apparently, it's not helping as I can't remember if I've said or not...last October the farm sale fell through due to lack of financing on the other side. The farm is back on the market, here and here to name two places. Like I've always said, God has a plan. As much as I love living here, I believe it's time to move closer to family...Mom and Daddy, siblings, nephew and his family...and settle into the next season of life. In the meantime, or p'raps I should say, "In the good time, I'll continue with my stewardship of this farm, these animals, this home and pray for God's perfect will be done.

Ponder this ~ "I am a creature of God, and He has an undoubted right to do with me as seemeth good in His sight. I rejoice that I am in His hand--that He is everywhere present and can protect me in one place as well as in another." ~ Ann Hasseltine Judson

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sabbath Keeping


"Then when you call the Lord will answer. "Yes, I am here," he will quickly reply. All you need to do is to stop oppressing the weak and stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden , like an ever-flowing spring."

"It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving."

"The measure of your life will not be in what you accumulate,
but in what you give away."  ~ Wayne Dyer ~

"Gracious acceptance is an art - an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving... Accepting another person's gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you." ~ Alexander McCall Smith (while you're reading this post, click on this link...happy music!) ~

"Happiness doesn't result from what we get 
but from what we give." ~ Ben Carson

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another." ~ Charles Dickens ~

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." ~ P. J. O'Rourke ~

"We make a living by what we get,
but we make a life by what we give."

"Do you know know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to fee the hungry, to cloth the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord by applying it to any other purpose?" ~ John Wesley ~

"You can give without loving,
but you cannot love without giving."

"The wise do not buy into other people's perceptions of who they are and what they are capable of. Instead, they bypass a person's public persona and see who they are in their highest expression. When you see actions taken with integrity, instead of words only, you will then know a soul's worth." ~ Shannon L. Alder ~

"It is the heart that does the giving; the fingers only let go."
~ proverb ~

"For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give - large or small - will be used to measure what is given back to you."  ~ Luke 6:38 ~

Please pray for ~ Anita ~ Patty and family ~ Bonnie and family ~ Vicki's family ~ Jim ~ Diana and her Hero ~ Sue and her family ~ Julie and Nancy ~ Ronnie ~ Sara and family ~ Steph and family ~ Sandra ~ 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sabbath Keeping


"Where there is no vision, the people perish."

"Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not envy,
to follow but not imitate,
to praise but not flatter,
and to lead but not manipulate."

"The first great gift we can bestow on others is a good example."
~ Thomas Morell ~

"To handle yourself, use your head.
To handle others, use your heart."

"Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson ~

"You manage things;
you lead people."

"I must follow the people. 
Am I not their leader?

"A leader is one who knows the way, 
goes the way, 
and shows the way."

"We must truly serve those whom we appear to command; we must bear with their imperfections, correct them with gentleness and patience, and lead them in the way to heaven."
~ Francois Fenelon ~

"A man who wants to lead the orchestra 
must turn his back on the crowd." 

"Don't follow the crowd
let the crowd follow you."

"When people talk, listen completely."

"The important things is this: to be able to give up in any given moment all that we are for what we can become." ~ DeSeaux ~

"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand."
~ Woodrow Wilson ~

"In everything set them an example by doing what is good.
In your teaching, show integrity, seriousness 
and soundness of speech."

Keep in prayer ~ Vicki's family ~ Bonnie's family ~ Diana and her Hero ~ Anita ~ Julie and Nancy ~ Ronnie ~ Patty and family ~ Jim ~ Steve ~ Sandra ~ 
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