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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 thing...do 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.

Pax.

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.

DRATS!

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 ~