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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Christmas Eve Eve

It's Sunday, Christmas Eve Eve and the weather is mild, even warm and the rain has stopped and we saw the sun for a short while. Tonight, the Christmas moon is full and pregnant with anticipation.

Church service was, as always, thought providing and provoking. During one prayer, Pastor Jim said, "forgive us when we seek amusement instead of fulfillment."

I'd really never thought about it before but amusement is so temporary, so transient and ephemeral while fulfillment brings about satisfaction and a sense of fullness and well-being. Fulfillment also suggest an end, perhaps after being sated. As I've aged, I find more joy and satisfaction in activities that bring fulfillment. Frequently, such activities are also amusing such as gathering with fiber friends and spinning, knitting or quilting; though rarely do I find amusement also fulfilling.

Christmas is fulfilling as well as fulfillment. I didn't put up a tree but there are Nativity scenes scattered throughout the house and studio. My gifts aren't wrapped but will be surrounded into tissue paper and tucked into stockings. There's no traditional meal planned but Dave is making crab and lobster soup and with cheese, crackers and a tempting Merlot we'll have a divine feast. Perhaps we'll open a bottle of bubbly, there's a nice Saint Hilaire we've been saving.
We spent this afternoon, gathered at the Thompson Valley Fire and Rescue Squad, sharing a covered dish luncheon. Afterwards, we all stood on both sides of 6 tables, end to end, and stuffed bags full of candy, pencils, pads, posters, fruits and other giveaways. Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, at noon, the fire engines will go throughout the valley, giving bags to every child.
Last week, Dave was able to visit his Mother and sister; perhaps I'll visit my family next week. In the meantime, we'll spend Christmas at home, in the company of each other and our animals.
Contented and fulfilled.
Blessings ~ Christmas ~ family ~ friends ~ fulfillment ~ being able to give unto others ~ a little country church filled with the saints of God ~

Friday, December 21, 2007

McDowell County, WV

Earlier this week I went to Kimbell, WV to the 5 Loaves and 2 Fishes Food Bank. Bro. Bubby is the unpaid, volunteer director of said Food Bank and operates on a shoestring. Virtually every penny that goes into the operation is used to get food and other necessities to the most needy of McDowell and Wyoming Counties, WV and a couple of KY counties just across the line. No one gets paid a dime and every volunteer uses their own vehicles, powered by gasoline paid for out of their own pockets to assist the operation.
McDowell County is in the top three of the poorest counties in the entire USA. A large portion of the population is elderly, disabled and includes children and without Bro. Bubby and "his" food bank, people would starve. Literally. The need is just so tremendous.
Food and other supplies all come by way of donations and church people come to the former grocery store, now used as a warehouse, to divvy up the goods and take them to church distribution points. If a person has no way to pick up their supplies, they are delivered to their home. Needless to say, 4-wheel drive is absolutely necessary to gain access in most, if not all, of the hollers.

About 2,500 people will be fed with this shipment and, at Christmas, that's especially welcome. Food, dental supplies, toiletries and more make up the donated supplies.

The county seat is Welch which, in earlier days, was a boom town and boasted more than its fair share of millionaires. Now, it's mostly a shell of its former self and the grim, gray soot that defines any coal town seems especially overwhelming. There's still a lot of coal coming out of southern West Virginia and even southwestern Virginia. Coal is still King and powers this country in ways and places most don't realize. If you ride in a car, truck, bus, cable car, motorcycle, moped or any other vehicle not foot powered...thank a coal miner. If you have electricity...thank a coal miner. If you're reading this on an electric powered computer...thank a coal miner. If you're nice and warm with a thermostat controlled heating system...thank a coal miner. Hardly any of us aren't touched, on a daily basis, by the results of a coal miner.
Being a coal miner means black coal, black dust and black lung. More than several of the men folk in my family have died from black lung and I know many more who now suffer from black lung. It's a nasty death as are all lung illnesses and struggling for breath rips apart both those suffering and those who help the sufferer. But, the jobs pay well, exceptionally well for this part of the country, and allow families to stay together.
Most of the mountain people I've met or know are as tied and connected to these old mountains as a fetus to its mother. We simply cannot imagine living anywhere else; no where else is home. Home being both a physical place and a place of spirit; home where we spend our days while waiting on heaven.
The drive from Thistle Cove Farm to Kimbell is across some of the most rugged mountainous terrain in the Appalachias. West Virginia is the only state that's totally and completely contained in Appalachia and road systems, for the most part, are two lane and with some portions of the road crumbled away due to erosion or coal trucks going over the side.
I take photos, interview and send out press releases and newspaper articles about the 5 Loaves and 2 Fishes Food Bank and am hopefull those accounts stir someone's heart and wallet to send a donation. It's an old, old story...people struggling to survive, even exist, and, mostly, dependent upon the kindness of strangers.

Blessings ~ Bro. Bubby ~ volunteers ~ coal ~ donations ~ the Appalachias ~ people who help when they can, how they can, what they can ~

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Death in the Midst of Living

My Mother's family is gathered in Gastonia, NC for the funeral of her beloved Sister. Death is always hard, even for those of us who share the belief in life everlasting through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Tensions, emotions and, yes, even tempers run higher; words are, sometimes, hastily said and, even more quickly, regretted. Family gathers around to lend support, hugs, tears, laughter. We share our strength, remember good times, fun times but all the while wondering how we're going to get through the next few hours, days, weeks.

For the rest of our lives, it will be a time of firsts. The first Christmas without our Wife, Aunt, Sister, Mother, mother-in-law, friend; the first New Year's, the first Valentine's, the first...

People are holding up well, as well as can be expected, I suppose. Aunt. R. suffered in this life; for the last sixteen years she was on oxygen because she had COPD from working in a sewing factory. Not only smokers and coal miners get COPD. Plain, ordinary women and men who work in tiresome circumstances, earning a living for their families also got, get, COPD. Anyway, she's not suffering now.

So, in this Holy Season, hold near and dear to those you love; remember with fondness and kindness those who have passed. Eat well, drink sensibly, love more today than you did yesterday but less than you will tomorrow. Remember God loves you and hold fast to your faith.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Knitting, Felting, Christmas

Those folks at Knitting Pattern and Crochet Pattern a Day Calendars are accepting designs for their 2009 calendars. The knitting deadline is 15 Dec and deadline for crochet is 31 December. My Trio of Tri Shawls has been accepted and even though my patterns are quite simple, it's still great fun to see them in print. Even beginner knitters need patterns, right? My shawls are great for fast knitting, for those times when a loved one needs immediate comfort. We live in a farmhouse that's chilly most times and downright frigid when clutched in winter's depths. A shawl is wrapped around me while I'm reading in bed and several shawls adorn chair backs throughout the house. Many times, people have wrapped themselves in cozy comfort whilst visiting.

"Love is the most difficult and dangerous form of courage." So says Delmore Schwarts and as we approach Christmas, I wonder.

Was it not so for Mary? At that day and in that age, the mind boggles at the courage of a young girl to bear the Christ child. Remember the story? At first, her intended considered "putting her away" which would have meant she would have been stoned to death. Adultry, for the woman at least, was a sin punishable by death though I've often wondered why the men, seemingly, got off free. There's never any record of the men being punished, always and only the women.

XM Radio plays non-stop Christmas music throughout the Holidays. The Holly and Ivy is on 103 but other seasonal music is found through station 108. Delilah is playing Christmas music as well; around here she's on FM 99. I'm enjoying the music and the stories and find it especially enjoyable to go to bed early and listen. A good book or magazine, music, flannel sheets, a shawl and the dogs and I are set for the evening. Dave's the night owl around here; I want to bed down shortly after dark.

My projects have taken a back seat for my illness. I'm still struggling to get well and the laryngitis hasn't broken yet. I've passed the three week mark, have taken one series of antibiotics and the second is in abeyance. The doc says not to take them yet but I'm beginning to question that wisdom. My body is exhausted from coughing and the struggle to speak; the antibiotics contribute to that exhaustion.

I did manage to finish a felted glasses holder. The lenses of my glasses stay scratched and that's due to being knocked off the bedside table. This little holder should stop the lenses from being scratched. Such small things in life contribute greatly to one's happiness, don't you think?

Little Christmas ornaments can be seen in the background; I'm only
hoping to heal quickly enough to put up a Christmas tree and use those ornaments!

This is my tea cozy but I don't think I'm finished with it. There's too much space that needs something but it's been fun and will be quite useful. I drink pots of tea and wool cozies keep the tea hotter/warmer than sitting out nekid.

Here's the back side and it has even more blank space than does the front:
I really like the dragonfly and the buttons spell "blessing". Yet, something is lacking, just not sure what.

Blessings ~ hot tea in the winter ~ work to keep hands and mind busy ~ healthy animals and husband ~ knitting ~ music ~ Christmas! ~

Monday, December 03, 2007

Pay It Forward...

Pay It Forward is sweeping Blogland and promises to be a treat! I've been reading about it at various blogs, including Anne , Chris, Liz and many, many others.

The original rules were "I will send a handmade gift to the first three people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is Pay It Forward by making the same promise on your blog."

Great, eh? I think so too except I'd like to up the ante a bit. The first five people who leave a comment on my blog will receive a hand crafted/made "something" before Christmas 2008. I've been blessed and want to share my blessings so I've increased it from three to five people. If you see fit to send to five, rather than three, that's great but you're only obligated to Pay It Forward to three people *and* post about it on your blog. Post both about PIF and what you receive/send upon receiving and sending.

Pay It Forward and Merry Christmas!

Blessings ~ Blogland ~ Pay It Forward ~ Christmas ~ People who are willing to be kind ~ Cats on my lap who help me type ~ Blessings too numerous to count ~

Mercy Me...Gray Hair!

Who knew talking about gray hair would get such a response!

For clarification...when I wrote about coloring one's hair, I was speaking of those dear souls who are absolute slaves to their hair dresser. Those women who spend untold hours and finances sitting in the chair, having their hair colored, their roots retourched, their eyebrows done to match their hair and so forth. However, if that's your it with pride. My point was, for my lifestyle, it's always been and continues to be a waste of both time and money. Although, I do put streaks of orange and/or purple in my hair just for giggles every now and again. It's stuff that washes out and I don't suppose is, technically, dye.

As to my hair and age...I started going gray years ago but it was difficult to see because my hair is so blonde naturally. So...for those who think I'm absolutely toddering with age, I suppose it depends upon one's perspective. I'm in the middle of my fifth decade and started going gray in my third decade. My cousin turned gray, literally, overnight when she was nineteen. Others, like Leslie, started turning gray when she was sixteen and now has a crown of glory atop her body; she's known far and wide for her beautiful locks.
I'm as fey as the Irish who spawned me as evidenced by the photo Skip Rowland took at the National Folk Festival.

My point, was and is, one has to be comfortable with oneself. Where ever we go...there we are. There's no escaping being with ourselves and, when we lie down at night, we have to be comfortable with how we've conducted ourselves during the day, or, make things right as soon as possible. If coloring your hair gives you pleasure and you've got the funds, go for it. If you're going into debt to color your hair, I would seriously re-think the matter. Almost nothing is worth being in debt, at least to my way of thinking; I enjoy freedom too much to be in debt. But that's another topic for another time.


Blessings ~ choices ~ freedom ~ fun ~ being comfortable with oneself ~ the folks who have voiced their opinions/thoughts ~

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Blogger difficulties, fiber store, free yarn

Okay, I admit it. Again. I'm a computer ejit and Blogger is way smarter than I. However. I've made some strides in updating my template and blog look, although, I still have a long ways to go. I'd like to get the photo across the top of my blog, make some extra pages, add some color...simple things to those of you who are computer literate.

Anyway, this morning I've been visiting various blogs I like to read and catching up with folks, mostly fiber folks. I was able to access Greenberry, Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost, Marys Virgin Wool and Talk is Sheep but only Greenberry would allow me to post a comment.


I want Dawn to know I hope she's feeling better and can well relate to the epizootics she had. I've got them now and have been battling them for three weeks. And counting. Mary has some really wonderful things she bought when at SAFF plus a lovely spinning wheel chair she bought well before she started knitting. I'd love to know what kind of DVD's she purchased. Jody has interesting, albeit a tad frightening, photos for Thanksgiving. /lol/

This not being allowed to comment is an on-going problem and not only with the aforementioned blogs. It's difficult for me to post a comment to any blogger blog.

Update --- Just now, I'm able to post a comment to Dawn's blog. What gives??? But, it's a gift and I'm thankful. And now, Mary's blog. What's going on??? And now, Jody...this is all a bit perplexing.

The Springwater Fiber Workshop in Alexandria, VA is closing. This is a great shop...full of fabulous fiber, equipment, books and people who were friendly and knowlegable. After twenty-two years they are closing their doors with a twenty percent discount on merchandise. I hate this but completely understand business and economics; the fiber community, and northern Virginia in particular, will be the poorer for our loss.

Kristin Nicholas, is giving away some yarn to promote her new book, Kirsten Knits. You've got until 10 Dec to send her an e-mail. While you're signing up for the yarn give-away, please take time to read her farm and knitting blog...very interesting.

This quilt was given to my Mother by her almost ninety year old friend whose Mother made the quilt when she was a young girl/woman. The friend's children did not want the quilt. GASP! Can you believe it??? I feel like the professor in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, "what IS it with children nowadays?" But, their loss is my gain. When the friend asked if Mom would like the quilt, Mom said, "My daughter would LOVE that quilt and give it a *great* home." So, said quilt is now mine and I absolutely love it as much as an inanimate object can be loved. It's soft, worn, cozy, homey and hand crafted home made. All things I hold near and dear to my heart and yet another blessing in a life filled and overflowing with blessings. May it be so in your life as well.
Blessings ~ all of them ~ quilts ~ Mothers ~ blogger friends ~ the fiber community ~ the brain and the will to learn ~

Friday, November 30, 2007

Gray Hair, Knitting, Quilting and Christmas

It absolutely amazes me that women *still* color their hair! Why? What's the point? Does anyone think our true ages can't be seen on the backs of hands or throats that are, sometimes not so faintly, reminiscent of a turkey's beard? I've got one by the way...turkey beard, jowels, wattle, whatever you want to call it, and it's a link to my Daddy's Hamrick side of the family. If I weighed fifty pounds less /yeah right, in my dreams/ I'd still have this wattle throat/neck. It's as much a part of who I am as my hair that's about four different shades and/or colors of gray, blonde, silver, red and possibly brown.

I colored my hair, once, in the seventh grade. Remember Sun-In? It was, probably still is, if it's still around, a, mainly, peroxide based, spray on hair lightener. I used it because that's what *everyone* was using in the seventh grade.

UGH! Nasty stuff turned my hair green and no, I wasn't going to the pool, the ocean, the lake or even to the back yard. Whatever the formula, it turned my hair green. Not all over mind. Just in spots. It would have been terrific for Haloween...maybe.

Back to my Roots: A Diary of Going Gray is one woman's "struggle" to accept her hair color and, maybe, to accept herself. Anne Kreamer chronicles her eighteen month change from dark, dyed hair to gray, her natural color for MORE magazine. It's a good article and I enjoyed listening to her strength becoming stronger as her hair became more and more "Anne" and less and less "Clairol". Or whatever she used. Going Gray: What I Learned About Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters is the book she eventually wrote of her experience. BTW, she has beautiful hair...naturally.

It's always amazed me that women colored their hair; it seems such a waste of time and money. There's a lot more I'd rather spend my hard earned cash on than a bottle of dye...unless, of course, it's for my fleeces.

Here's a question I've been pondering...when, exactly, do freckles become age spots?
On the knitting front, I've just finished a hat for the young feller down the road and a shawl for me. The hat is in camo yarn /his dad's a hunter/ and the shawl is in a lovely, deep purple wool. It's a trifle small, not as large as I like my shawls but it's warm and cozy. This big ole farmhouse is chilly, even with the vast sums of money we send to the oil man, and a shawl is just the ticket on a cold winter's night.

I've been working on a moebius scarf using some of Leslie's angora and mohair yarn. The yarn is a lovely combination and uses the finest of her angora with some of my merino plus it's hand dyed! It traveled with me to Spain where I enjoyed knitting at a tapas bar in Ronda. The chocolate croissant and cafe au lait made the perfect combination...knitting, chocolate and something to drink...lovely!

Thanksgiving was lovely and the alter at church even more beautiful by the gift of someone's hands.
For the last three weeks I've been sick. It seems I say that a lot lately, hmmm. Anyway, I'm finally on antibiotics and feeling some better, at least better enough to check e-mail and blog update. Quilting has been put on hold and I've only two quilts ready to hem and pack for Christmas. That means I've two more quilts that need to have their blocks sewn together, then pieced with batting and back, then hand quilted and hemmed.

Panic is seeping 'round my mind's edges and the evil thought that I might not be finished in time is niggling at my brain. I wanted to visit family between now and Christmas as some of them aren't doing well and their time is growing short.
Ah well...time for my supper of mashed potatoes; it's the only thing my throat can stand.
Blessings - quilting, knitting, gray hair, hopefully...wisdom, Thanksgiving, the time we've got coming to us and, always, love

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Art For 1000 Wells

Original Artwork = Saving Lives

Starting Saturday, 24 November, for ten days, through 4 December, 2007 Art for 1,000 Wells, an international group of artists, artisans and crafters will offer their original work for the common goal of raising mondy to benefit Blood:Water Mission's Thousand Wells Project.

From the Blood:Water Mission website: "When Dan Haseltine, Jars of Clay's lead singer, visited Africa in 2002, he had to struggle to accept what he saw. Poverty and physical and social suffering in Africa shook him, challenged him, and changed him.

"The 1000 Wells Project is building 1000 wells and clean water projects in 1000 African communities. Businesses, churches, schools, artists and individuals are collecting funds so they can sponsor the construction of wells in Africa. In the process, they are learning about how HIV/AIDS affects African communities, and what it means to partner humbly with communities to pursue transformation."

To find participating eBay listings type the keyword term TWBW, standing for Thousand Wells Blood:Water, but there are more artists than currently show on eBay. Check out Art For 1000 Wells for more information and links.

"Buy Once, Give Twice" - from the Art For 1,000 Wells site.

Blessings ~ another beautiful day ~ hay for the animals ~ the WWW and yes, even dial-up! ~ being on the well side of sick ~ the wind blowing the leaves out of the yard ~ people who care and do what they can, where they can, when they can

Sunday, November 18, 2007


It's been a rough week. I've been sick and, for the most part, staying in bed. I've got a nasty cough, congestion, itchy eyes, laryngitis and, to make matters worse, forgot to send out invitations to my pity party.

'Tis the Season. Ho Ho Ho

Dave bought me a warm steam vaporizer and it's been out-putting almost non-stop for days. Throat lozengers, cough syrup, expectorant tablets, Sambucol, aspirin, vitamins...could I possible be missing anything in my get well arsenal?

It almost never fails...we go on a fabulous trip and I come home sick. At least this time I wasn't hurling in public. As in, full blown public in the luggage carousel area of the LAG airport. Or, privately as in the toilet of the airplane, give me some credit...I did manage to wait until we were only forty-five minutes from landing. And, I did try to clean up my mess but it's still a mess, in a very confined place on a, suddenly, very small plane.
On the plus side, we did manage to get through customs in a hurry. I've had all vaccinations necessary, and then some, for overseas travel so I'm pretty sure this is just a nasty cold.

While we were in Spain, we managed to find a road that wasn't on any of our maps. It ran next to the Mediterranean Ocean, just to the east of Tarifa and had just a few houses sandwiched between the small piece of land and the ocean. It was amazing and beautiful! I love photos where there aren't a lot of colours but the contrast is between similar colors, in this case gray and green, forcing the eye to find beauty in starkness. What must it be like to live here, this close to the ocean, during a storm? The houses are nestled in the labre of the ocean and the earth and the buildings show the harshness of the environment, the fight to survive in such a climate. Another photo I especially like is this one, taken from the car as we were hurtling through a mountain pass. Not bad for a photo taken on the fly. Again, I like the contrast between the green that's scratched from a layer of topsoil thinner than my fingernail, and the colours of the stone and other earthern building materials. What's the story? Who lived and died and ate and loved here? Why did the people leave the house and was that the day the house started dieing? The day its people left?
Another photo...this one reminds me of Easter..."up from the grave He arose...with a mighty triumph o'er His foes"... I think the angel is right behind the hill, just there...on the left...see the light?

This afternoon, Dave went over the mountain to buy provisions and came home with the DVD Amazing Grace, something on my Christmas wish list. It turns out there are up sides to being sick, after all.

Blessings - thankful I'm feeling better all the time ~ photos, they make memories better ~ pure, clean, cold, sweet mountain water ~ a comfy bed for restorative sleep ~ Amazing Grace - in all its forms ~

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spain, Morocco, camels & travel

Mary Lois, Dave and I have just returned from Spain, Morocco and Gilbraltar where we had a fabulous time! It's a treat and privilege to see God's creation, meet other of His children. Like this fellow...our camel driver in Tanjer. I rode this female camel and as soon as I got off, her little one came over for a warm drink. is a great website for more information about camels, I believe the correct name for "baby camel" is "calf" but "little one" is safe as well.

Camels are mentioned in Genesis, chapter 24, and the story of Rebekah drawing water for Abram's man servants' camels continues to amaze me. Drawing water is hard work and made even harder when one has to pull up a clay pot hanging on a rope, made heavier by the weight of the clay plus it's soaked with water and full of water. Until a couple of years ago, I had to draw water, carry water and fill a horse trough for one of our horses. It was usually below freezing, usually a brisk wind and I'm using two five gallon buckets to carry water 150 feet. It was challenging. And, all I had to do was fill the trough...not fill a camel who drinks 30 gallons at a time. YIKES!

Not for the feeble hearted yet Rebekah volunteered to do this task. She wasn't asked, she volunteered. My guess is...she cheerfully volunteered as well.


I've, mostly always, had a good attitude when tending to my animals. I adore my work and am amazingly blessed to live on this farm and do the work necessary to keep everyone going. But. These are my animals and this is my farm. Rebekah gave water to the man servant and then volunteered to water his camels. All ten of them.

I'm math challenged, so to speak, but even I can figure out that's about Three Hundred Gallons of water...roughly ten gallons at a time.

The mind boggles!

Wandering through the souk we saw many strange and wonderful sights. Not many women though...women reign at home while the men tend to business outside the home. Most of the women we saw were either tourists or Berber; the few Muslim women we saw were heavily robed and, more often than not, veiled.

This woman is selling a few lemons and peppers alongside the street. Just consider...just as this woman, Rebekah would have been robed and veiled as she watered those ten camels.

Needless to say, when I'm carrying water I'm dressed in insulated coveralls, long underwear, wool sweaters, socks and hat. Mostly I'm cheerful but my level of cheerfulness lessons greatly the more I slosh freezing water on myself as I'm carrying those buckets. Life on the farm lends itself greatly to understanding, on a Very Intimate Level, what it must have been like all those thousands of years ago.

Food was killed the day it was eaten and, even today, one finds sheep, goat, and chicken carcasses throughout the market. Remember Abigail? In order to appease David she "made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses."

Now, I don't care how hurriedly one prepares a meal nor how many servants one has at their disposal, there's more than a day's work in baking two hundred loaves and slaughtering and dressing five sheep. Abigail has already seen to it her household has food put by as evidenced by the "five measures of parched corn, hundred clusters of raisins, wine and two hundred cakes of figs."

Look up "prepared" and you'll find Abigail's picture. This woman is a jewel, a credit to herself and her household and her oaf of a husband, Nabal, is a drunken lout, even called wicked.

UGH! Spare me from such a marriage and a man. I wonder if Abigail was sold into marriage, perhaps traded for debt or land or livestock. Her life couldn't have been rainbows and roses being married to Nabal yet she didn't let that stop her from being the best she could be.

Oh Dear. There's another message for me but it's bedtime and, like Scarlet, I'll think about this tomorrow. Unlike Scarlet, I'll probably dream about this tonight.

Travel is broadening, sometimes even frightening, but I love, love, love to travel. Only death will separate me from Thistle Cove Farm but I dearly love to meet and greet other of God's children, see His creation, find new people and new things to pray about.

I leave you with some quotes on travel but if you cannot least read about traveling.

"I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself." ~James Baldwin

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." ~Mark Twain

"The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see." ~G.K. Chesterton

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. " ~St. Augustine

Blessings ~ travel ~ good friends who make a good journey better ~ people who share their wisdom ~ KJV ~ lessons learned both the easy way and the more difficult ~ a great marriage

Monday, October 29, 2007

National Folk Festival

The National Folk Festival was a blast! They had record breaking crowds of 175K, loads of music, festival food and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program.

Jon Lohman is the director of the Apprenticeship Program and Linda Wright was my apprentice; we spent many enjoyable hours elbows deep in fiber either skirting fleeces, carding, spinning and other activities. I only hope Linda enjoyed herself as much as I; it's a memory that will last a lifetime.
Leslie Shelor, Diana Blackburn and Mary Lois Mitchum , left to right, were at the reception for the Apprenticeship Program and In Good Keeping, Jon's book on the program.
Although, these lovely ladies are part of the Apprenticeship Program, I don't know them. I do, however, LOVE the serene, gracious look about them!

I spun about two pounds of single ply "Unserious Rainbow Yarn" whilst at the festival. It's going to make a Very Unserious Scarf ~

and came home to more summer that, eventually, turned to autumn.

This "tree" is actually poison ivy, apparently, on steriods! Every year it grows just a bit larger and becomes just a bit more menacing.

When leaving Thistle Cove Farm through Thompson Valley, there's a stretch of road that's usually beautiful. At this time of year, it's breathtaking and always I slow down so the image will burn into my memory.

Blessings - autumn and harvest ~ 2.25 inches of RAIN ~ meaningful work ~ prayer ~ God's bountiful beauty ~ all the Good Folks who made the National Folk Festival 2007 such a GREAT time! ~

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ethnic Knitting

The Talmud tells us, "You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it."

What, you ask, does this have to do with anything?

The answer...everything! We're all but steps in a path leading from Eve, or Lucy if you will, and going into infinity. Every day, we, all of us, choose to be helpful or hurtful, kind or unkind, a giver or a taker, a friend or a foe. I tell people all the time that fiber folkes are the Best People in the world and I mean it. I can count on one hand the fiber people I've met who were surly or contentious or just ill tempered. To a person, most are gracious to a fault, willing to share their expertise and experiences, willing to take the time to be kind.

Donna Druchunas is no exception.

She has a new book entitled Discovery - Ethnic Knitting from the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and The Andes from Nomad Press. She has two previous books, including one of my all time favorites, The Knitted Rug: 21 Fantastic Designs and her most recent Arctic Lace: Knitted projects and Stories Inspired by Alaska's Native Knitters.

Donnas has long been, since The Knitted Rug, one of my favorite designers and bloggers. I enjoy reading about her travels, her patterns are clear and well designed and I always end up learning something...if not a lot of somethings!

The current back cover photo shows Donna, seated, with what looks to be size 50 knitting needles in hand, busily working on another project. She looks like a person who, while not taking herself very seriously, takes her work Very Seriously. IOW, my kind of Fiber Femme.

Ethnic Knitting has eight master patterns for drop-shoulder pullover sweaters but begins with four simply projects to build the skills necessary to accomplish the master patterns. She uses quick notes, a visual plan or detailed guidelines in worksheets designed to assist knitters to not only knit a sweater but learn how to craft one in the process.

For the sample sweaters she explains how the same designed 40-inch sweater will fit (very close) as opposed to a 34-36 inch sweater (loose fit). I find this quite helpful, ever more so than leaving out the additional guidelines.

All this to say...Donna is a guest blogger for Fiber Femmes on Monday, October 22 and Leslie and I are excited! I've long enjoyed Donna's work as well as "meeting" her the last time she was a Fiber Femme guest blogger.

Donna is a continuing thread in the life line of knitting. She realizes she's yet another knitter to continue, or assist in continuing, the age old craft of knitting. There are as many ways to knit as there are cultures in the world and I'm grateful to Donna for bringing more of them to light.

I hope you enjoy her as well and, after buying her book, discover for yourself the pleasures of Ethnic Knitting.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Catching up

It's been a hot summer and autumn; no sign of relief in sight and we're still in a drought situation. We did have a bit of rain last week but could use a week of steady, constant rain. Pray God it will soon happen.

I went to the Field Day of the Past Festival and had a rollicking good time. They were lots of visitors but sales were unfortunate; the only thing selling was cold drinks and ice cream. It's always difficult for folks to consider woollens when the temps say nekkid. This was the first event I've used my 10x10 canopy and it provided welcome shade. Never again will I do a festival without shelter.I took time out to ride around the 50 acre grounds and sightsee. A gentleman sitting nearby asked, "do you ever have your photograph taken or are you always working?" I smiled and answered, "always working." He then asked for my camera and took this photo of me. I look quite the period, don't I, and my Grandmother's cameo pin adds an authentic touch.
Funny how people, men especially, would compliment me on my "costume". They seemed to think by-gone days means better days but hardly anyone realizes the main cause of female death was first by fire and secondly by childbirth. Women's dresses would burn when women got to close to the fire when cooking and, as dresses were, usually, cotton or linen, they would ignite and flame in mere moments.

Dave asked me one time, "when are you going to start making all our clothing?" My response, "just as soon as you start killing all our food."

Yep, we both laughed...let me tell you...the good old days are NOW! I seriously enjoy dressing up and playing "pioneer woman" but wouldn't trade even. I'm living the good life now and thank God every day. I met one dear, older woman who spent UNTOLD hours making this very beautiful queen sized Garden Path quilt. She's eighty-four and would like to sell this quilt; if anyone is interested, please let me know and I'll put you in touch.

Kat, my quilting guild friend, made the gorgeous Double Wedding Ring queen size quilt show below. She's selling this quilt which represents, perhaps, a thousand hours of work, maybe more. People see the price of quilts and think, "too much!" but how many people would work for $1 an hour? At least in the good ole USA.

This Turning Twenty quilt pattern in a double bed size, is for sale as well. Katherine and Donna worked together to make this quilt and it's made in a pleasing design of blues and yellows.

This coming weekend I'm headed to the National Folk Festival in Richmond, VA. I'm there as a guest of the Folklife Apprenticeship Program through the VA Humanities Foundation and will demonstrate spinning, knitting and the fiber arts. The Folk Festival is always a Very Fine Time and this is the third and final year in Richmond. Next year it will move somewhere else but, I understand, folks in Richmond have plans to host their own folk festival so it will continue.

Jon Lohman, Director of the Folklife Apprenticeship Program, has written In Good Keeping: Virginia's Folklife Apprenticeships with free lance photographer Morgan Miller. This coffee table sized book, published by the UVA Press showcases the first five years of the program and is resplendent with marvelous photographs of the various Masters and Apprentices.

On the home front...even though we've yet to see much cooler weather, the Canada Geese know it's time to move on. There are great flocks of them, wheeling across the sky, honking to each other and to those of us land bound below. Winter is coming and with it, hopefully, some moisture. I'm preparing to hunker down, as Daddy likes to say, and complete my preparations for winter. My winter projects are quilting, both for warmth and for art; working in my studio on a great new project I'm developing; making lots of comfort foods in the form of soups, stews and breads; finish reading the Bible. I try to read the Bible through every year and every year I learn something new and find it always a joy. Well, okay. Maybe those Old Testament geneology parts aren't a *total* joy but they are still interesting...sort of.
Blessings ~ family, always family ~ crisp Autumn days ~ festivals & the Folklife Apprenticeship Program & Jon ~ quilting ~ the good old days of NOW~ the strength to do the work He has set before us ~

Monday, September 03, 2007

Aprons and Drought

It's simply too hot. We've no relief from the heat and are in a drought situation as well. Hay is already Extremely Costly and, I'm afraid, animals will starve this winter. When it's a choice between feeding your children and feeding your animals, the animals always lose. It's a Very Sad fact of life and tugs at my heart strings. Dave and I save the ones we can but we, unfortunately, can't save them all. My horses and sheep have extra flesh going into the winter...although it's difficult to even *think* about winter while it's SO hot...and, I believe, we'll weather the season with no dire consequences.

Shakespeare said, "Summer's lease hath all too short a date". Generally, I agree but this summer has been so hot and dry I'm very willing for it to pass. We're less than two weeks away from our frost date and I'm looking at frost as extra moisture. That's just how desperate our situation.

When I wash clothes, they are hung on the line. One, because I love the smell of clothes dried in the sun and, two, because it releases moisture into the air. Did I mention how desperate our situation?

While visiting family in WV, I bought some things at an auction. An elderly woman had died and her /good for nothing but that's only a personal opinion/ son was selling everything. At first I thought he needed the money but no, he didn't need the money, he wanted the money. There's a big difference and is the reason "the love of money is the root of all evil".
Anyway, I purchased the woman's box of aprons and brought them home to wash and dry on the line. There are some dandies! Some are handmade from her husband's shirts which were probably ripped, torn or otherwise couldn't be used for other than quilts, aprons or cleaning cloths. I much prefer pinafore type aprons and put one on as soon as I get dressed in the morning and it's the last thing I take off prior to bath time at night. Some of these aprons I'll keep and others I'll try and trade or sell.

These aprons are made from a man's shirt. The one on the left shows John Deere tractors, has a pocket and both of them still have the shirt snaps.

This is a cute poodle apron using bright, cheerful colors and black rick rack to set it off.

This apron is, more than likely, a souvenir of someone's trip to California. Wonder who went, where, and if they had a good time?

Perhaps this apron was given away as a gift when an appliance was purchased?

Blessings ~ aprons ~ a deep well filled with delicious water ~ inside work to escape the heat of the day ~ melons from my garden ~ clean air ~ a night sky that takes my breath ~

Friday, August 31, 2007

One Little Secret

There's a contest on Darlene Schachts blog that's promoting the book One Little Secret by Allison Bottke . Tell one little secret about yourself and enter into a chance to win an Ipod - or ever what's it's called. I'd love to win one but that would take me **right out of my comfort zone**! /LOL/ I'm such an electronic ejit but I do like listening to books on tape, music, etc. and it would be lovely to have my comfort zone jolted just a tad.

My secret is I've aided many a ewe and one mare in the birthing process. When I finally got back to the house, poor Dave took one look at me and said, "where did you get stabbed?!"

Hurry on over and tell a wee secret about yourself.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Farm Life

It's been HOTTTTTT, hot. For several days it's been in the mid 90's and, for this part of Appalachian, that hot! It's so hot it's hard to breath; the humidity is horrid and the air is heavy wet. Even for those with no breathing difficulties, it's been a terrible week. Just about the only thing doing well is my orchid, it's simply beautiful.

The watermelons and cantelopes are doing well and are tasty! We ate one of each on Friday and have more for supper Sunday. My little gardens are doing well, tomatos are lovely and lucious, melons are wonderfully sweet and, like most of the gardening world, we're overwhelmed with squash and zucchini. People have taken to locking their car doors when they go to the library or they'll find a bag full of either/both upon their return.

My beautiful American Curly x Percheron horse, HayJ, is standing in "his" barn. He's a lovely boy and, for his size, has a very agreeable disposition. He's still a stallion but that's due to change with the cooler weather. I have no need of a stallion and don't really want to part with him so will geld him and keep him. If Oprah wanted to buy him, I'd certainly consider that a good home but both Dave and I are picky about where our horses most of them don't. We're horse poor and they are, mostly, pasture ornaments but it's our money and our choice so we love them, they love us and it's a happy place at Thistle Cove Farm.

We, FINALLY, got our magnificant cherry bed put in place. Now we have to buy a mattress and box spring and we'll be ready to move back into our bedroom. This has been a Very Long Time Coming and it's exciting to watch this unfold. Richard V., a friend, made this bed for us and didn't use any electricity but used all hand tools and a tree he felled himself. It truly is MAGNIFICANT!

Blessings ~ rain - 9/10 of an inch! ~ healthy animals ~ lovely gardens ~ a country church with excellent pastor ~ bountiful work to consume both hands and heart ~ a most gracious and merciful Father

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The work of many hands

My studio is in disarray and empty - as in complete, total and devoid of
every thing! The floor was painted last week so we carried everything out of the building and put it on our back porch. UGH! Just when everything was looking so Very Good too. I haven't been able to craft and it's getting on my nerves although I have finished a silk shawlet - to be shown in another post. The floor paint color is very soft and neutral and serves to visually expand the size of the room. A couple of rugs on the floor will make it easier on my feet, keeps the room warmer in winter and gives the dogs a warm, soft place to lie down. At least, the dogs that don't claim the cushiony dog bed first.

The studio still needs electrical wiring installed and then walls nailed up. We're using the rough cut hemlock that was used for the barns and other outbuildings which should age beautifully and provide an excellent back-drop for bulletin boards, etc.

I keep saying "studio" but it's really just an old building that was once used to cure meat. At one point, it had electricity but with a little "lipstick on the pig" it's almost ready for me to use as a retreat and escape. We'll just have to move furniture around when it's time to put up walls.

I've finished this flannel baby blanket and have two more to finish just like it. The front is various nursery rhyme figures - Little Bo Peep, Cat and the Fiddle and others - while the back is bright red. Hand quilted hearts and stars fix the three layers together and add some visual interest to the back side.

A baby quilt takes about one and one-quarter yards of material, front and back plus the batting. I didn't know that when I purchased enough of this cute fabric for three quilts. When I started cutting them into baby size quilts, I had no idea who would receive any of them.

I think babies are God's opinion the world should go on and the babies keep on coming. Tina, at church, is expecting as is Dave's neice so there go two quilts. I suppose the plain ones could always be used as lap blankets to keep someone's knees and lap warm.

WHOOPS! News flash...I just found out friend Frank's daughter, Samatha, is expecting so there goes another baby blanket.

The two, below, are quilted panels and only need hemming to be ready to give away. The first is a delightful Mary Engelbreit nursery rhyme pattern...So Very Cute!

This is simply a yellow quilted panel and I'll either turn under the edges and hem or use a border and hem. It all depends upon my time.

Next is a full sized quilt on the frame and hand quilting has begun. The lower left corner is turned so you can see the bright yellow quilt back.

Yellow seems to be in a lot of quilts I make. It's such a cheerful, bright color and acceptable for both boys and girls. I don't like pastel colors...too insipid for my tastes. Give me **bright** every day or at least enough brightness to off-set paler colors.
I think this quilt will go to friends who have recently married.
I hand quilt, generally in the mornings when the light is good but the heat of the sun isn't, yet, shining in the windows.

The mountains are usually cool but we're experiencing a heat wave this week and temps are supposed to climb close to 100 F. It's dreadful and I just cannot cope with the heat. The cold doesn't bother me as much; I can always put on another sweater or jacket but one can only get so nekkid before folks start complaining. My heart goes out to the poor sheep but they have places under the shade trees and in the dog run of the barn. Both places are cool but they still suffer in their wool fleeces. That's one reason I shear in late Spring, so the sheep won't be in full coat until late Autumn and won't suffer nearly as badly as if they were wearing heavier fleeces. All the animals have free choice minerals, salt and cool mountain spring water to drink so their suffering is kept at a minimum.

We've had some winners over at Fiber Femmes and their names will be posted on the FF blog tomorrow. It seems I'm always running at full tilt boogy and trying to get caught up with life in general. Anyone else have that challenge?
As always, there are enough hours in the day; my trouble is, I fill them too full.

Blessings ~ air conditioning! ~ productive work resulting in blessings for others ~ Fiber Femmes readers - many, many thanks to YOU! ~ ice tea, Southern style ~ produce from my small garden patch ~ dresses...SO much cooler...and feminine...than slacks!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Interweave Press No Sheep Skein Swap

Interweave Press has been hosting a No Sheep Secret Pal Yarn Swap where partners send send skeins of non-animal fiber yarn. The various reasons people joined this swap have been interesting...some joined because they have animal fiber allergies, others because they are vegan, others because they feel humans shouldn't use animal fiber. And me? I joined because I thought it would be fun.

Fortunately, I've been paired on the up and down side with people who seem to have no problem with animal fiber. After all, if not for my vocation and avocation of shepherd and farmer, my small hand spinner's flock would not live better than 70% of the world's population! But they better than 70% of the world's population and I rejoice in that fact. My animals live a life of ease and freedom from the stresses of sheep coming and going. No one ends up on the dinner plate, no one is shipped to market. The only thing my dear little boys and ewes have to do is grow delicious fleece and let me love on them. Everyone's life should be so good!

Someone in California sent me a skein of Debbie Bliss 80% cotton 20% silk aran in royal blue. It's lovely but judge for yourself...

We've been busy at Thistle Cove Farm, working on the house, my studio and landscaping. My studio has been emptied so the floor can be painted, our bedroom paint job is completed and the wildflower patch at the kitchen porch back door is almost finished. I'll have to show you photos later, we're in a burning rush to ready ourselves for a drive across the mountain to the Town House Grill. It's a delightful restaurant where the chef takes extra care to not only prepare delicious food but to present it beautifully as well.

I'll leave you with a photo of a deer that was wandering around near Anne's house last week. I caught a glimpse of the deer through the hedgeso knew to get out the camera. Still, I almost managed to mess up the shot because my settings has been switched whilst in my purse.

Be cool, it's a hot August.

Blessings ~ the anticipation of an excellent dinner ~ a bedroom almost finished ~ a studio almost finished ~ a wildflower garden almost finished ~ meaningful work

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rain and a studio

A week ago Tuesday we awoke to this scene.

and, later, this

Yes, it's RAIN! has now been raining, off and on, for more than a week! Thank you GOD! The pastures and fields are showing green, the animals are delirious with fresh, growing stuff to eat and I'm doing the Happy Dance! So what if I look like the Valley Ejiit! It's RAIN and God's Own Blessing and Gift...thank you Father.

It's been great weather for making things and my studio, aka Sandra's Playhouse, has been getting a workout. We've restored an old building (previously used to cure hams and bacon) into a studio for me. It's lovely having a place to go that's (a) away from the phone, (b) away from the house and (c) where supplies can be left out to be used again at *my* whim and fancy! It's not quite finished but I've already moved in and am using the space to both make things and restore my sanity.

It has a chair and ottoman for R&R, reading, knitting, quilting, writing or other hand work; also a bed for the doghters and spots for the cats. ~

A place for my spinning wheel and short chair that used to belong to Grandmother. This chair is so comfortable...just my size and with arms and a cozy cushion covered with a sheep fleece. And, a table (formerly computer table) that's now used to work on crafts, cut and sew fabric for quilts, aprons, etc.
My, oh my...I'm absolutely Over the Moon! Stayed tuned...soon, I'll show you the greeting cards I've been making. They make lovely gifts either by themselves or when tucked into a small basket of goodies to bless someone's day and life.

Blessings ~
~working space
~two finished quilts
~hot soup on a cool day
~wind chimes in the window
~eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to work

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Typical Week @ TCF

Last month, we prayed for the rain to hold and it did and is still holding. We've not had more than a few drops in more than a month. If you're the praying sort, PLEASE pray for rain at Thistle Cove Farm! Our second cutting of hay won't happen if we don't get rain and get it soon.

Even the buzzards want rain; I've seen more turkey vultures this year than ever before. It looks like a family has nested and hatched out their fair share of the little buzzards and they all like to ride the wind currents over this valley. Actually, they are quite beautiful when I forget their job on this planet. They are necessary though so I take photos and ponder their usefullness.

We had a film crew at the farm this past week. They are filming a CD/video for 'Round the Mountain and were here to film the scenery, horses, sheep and me at the spinning wheel. It was a lovely morning, enjoyed by all and especially the sheep. Some of the tamest sheep came into the yard to eat corn and were filmed around the spinning wheel. At least, as long as the corn lasted and then they grazed the yard.
Quilts hanging on the line provided a nice side-drop to the scene while the spinning wheel faced down the valley. The quilts were made by (l to r) by my beloved Aunt Bonnie and Dave's birthday quilt was made by me. We were all pleased with the arrangment and feel it adds greatly to a video that lacks textural softness. The quilts and animals add a touch of gentleness that softens the video and gives a more rounded picture of crafts, especially fiber crafts, in southwest Virginia.

The week ended at the Buchanan County Fair where Heritage Crafts and crafters were on display. This is a small fair but one where heritage is appreciated and welcomed.

Bud Thompson, farrier, pounded on the anvil, Charlie and David Butcher (father and son) played bluegrass on guitar, dulcimer and fiddle; Cheryl Kerr and Emily Butcher made baskets and a Bland County woodworker carved a face in a tree stump. I did the usual fiber "thang".

Blessings ~

~rain which we desperately need, dear God

~county fairs

~friends, some near, others far away but all dear

~a rich and varied heritage and culture

~critters, beasts and varmints - even those who do the nasty jobs

~the privilege of living @ Thistle Cove Farm in the USA!

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