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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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve 2008

It's the early hours of New Year's Eve and what do I have on my mind? The fact I cannot, yet, download photos to my blog. My desktop computer went south and Dave bought me a new one but all the programs need to be transferred, including Picasa, my photo program; hopefully, soon.

Hardly ever do I stay up to see the New Year in; the dogs like to go to bed early and as they are elderly now, our lives revolve around their needs. However, in early evening, Dave and I will drink a bottle of St. Hilaire Brut sparkling wine also known as Blanquette de Limoux. At the time of former President's Thomas Jefferson's death, his wine celler was about ten percent Blanquette de Limoux and the only sparkling wine kept on hand.

In the mid-1500's, the Benedictine Monks, in the southern foothills of the Limoux region of France and of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, made sparking wine more than one hundred years before they made champagne. Dom Perignon is reported to have said, upon tasting champagne...or was it sparkling wine...for the first time, "I think I am tasting the stars."

I think champagne and sparkling wine are both a bit like "tasting the stars"; the stuff dances on the tongue, teases the nose, pleases the eye and, if drunk judiciously, doesn't give a big head. We purchase St. Hilaire at a delightful wine shop in Blacksburg, VA and it costs, around, $12 a bottle. Certainly affordable even for the occasional "it's Tuesday and aren't we glad we're alive" days and absolutely affordable for New Year's Eve and other celebrations.

Sheesh. I think I need a life.

Blessings ~ photos ~ new computer ~ the promise of the coming year ~ champagne ~ sparking wine ~

Monday, December 29, 2008

Contests, Challenges

Don't you just love to have a chance to win something from another blogger? I know I do and want to tell you of two.

Check the Third Annual One World One Heart event. It's a ton of fun to make something as well as, possibly, get something. I'd like to figure out how to add buttons to my blog; the One World One Heart button is great! In the meantime, it's listed under 'events' on my side bar.

Visit The Cart Before the Horse for a chance to win a cute little bird. You need to post a comment for one chance to win, comment on your blog for another chance and there are a couple more opportunities. Go and see.

Leah Piken Kolidas is hosting the Second Annual Creative Everyday Challenge 2009, again with a wonderful button. As I'm drawing closer to hearth and home, this seems a timely event to join. What with Dave's mother being with us for so long and needing, almost constant, care my creative-ness has, often, been pushed to the back burner. I'm going to make a concentrated effort to finish my UFO's, complete my trades and be creative everyday in 2009. I'm not an artist...I don't draw or paint, although I'd love to have that talent but I do fiddle around with fabrics, yarn, quilting, textile postcards, knitting, spinning, felting and the like. Leah says 'all' creativity is acceptable so I'm in like flint...YEAH!!!

Now to figure out how to add buttons...

Blessings ~ meeting new people via the i-net ~ a beautiful sunny day ~ hot beverage in a lovely cup ~ a dog's head craddled on my lap ~ the kitten playing in a sun spot ~ contests ~

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Take Christmas

On this, the last Sunday of 2008, we observed the Sabbath by going to church. We attend a little country church, people of all means attend and everyone is welcome. Our choir is whoever wants to leave their pew and our songs are whatever we decide as we're lead by the Spirit.

The text today was John 1 and fitting as we've just completed another Christmas with the Babe who left the comforts and glories of heaven to reside among the swill of humankind. People have wondered why Christ's ministry was so short, only three years, but I think it's because three years is all He could stand of us, His Father's creation. In the Garden of Eden I feel quite sure we shone with the Shekinah glory of God but after the Fall we reflected the deception of evil and, until that star bright night a couple of thousand years ago, had little to recommend us save the sacrifice of turtle doves, a ram, an ox or the like.

John I

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2The same was in the beginning with God.

3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

I enjoy reading, perhaps too much, but there are three books that are currently pulling at my heart. Joyce Meyer is a prolific writer and I'm enjoying, very much, 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life. Her suggestions shatter some well accepted myths I/we, probably, don't want to let go. For example, she admonishes -in chapter one no less!- 'Do One Thing at a Time'. For a lot of us...most of us???...women especially, this is sacrilege as we tend to take pride...perhaps false pride???...in the numbers of things we can do at once.

Let's see...talk on the phone while surfing on the computer while jotting notes on our to-do list while knitting a few stitches on a scarf we intend as a gift... You get the drift. Are you as guilty as I?

She quotes Eric Hoffer, "The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is, on the contrary, born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything else-we are the busiest people in the world."

I'm ashamed to say, I often read my Bible with a notepad at hand, just in case my mind remembers something I absolutely NEED to do later that day. Oh yes, my mind is wonderfully adept at coming up with things to do in order to get my mind off the task at hand...reading God's word. So, rather than try to do many things at once, in other words multitask, I'm going to focus on doing one thing at a time most excellently. Yes, I'll fail but in my failure I'll find success because I will strive to return, again and again and again if necessary, to focus on doing one thing at a time most excellently.

Another book I've just started is Six Qualities of Women of Character by Debra Evans. Evans uses Biblical women, as well as modern day women, to "encourage spiritual endurance". As St. John Chrysostom once wrote, "The ashes of martyrs drive away demons" and so it is with reading of bygone saints. As Hebrews 12 puts it, "we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses" and those witnesses are to give us hope, to bolster our faith, to encourage us and to give us courage in our Christian walk. John Donne said in Meditation XVII,

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Neither is any woman an island. We have a rich legacy and heritage and would do well to tap into those who have gone on before so that we are assured "every sinner has a past but every saint has a future."

The final book I'm reading is The Woman's Study Bible, New King James Version by Thomas Nelson Publisher. Mother and Daddy both read the Bible every year and each have their own way of accomplishing this task. Mother reads it as a study guide, using concordances and other texts to help her understand and comprehend what she's reading. Daddy starts on 1 January and reads five chapters a day, every day, until he finishes by his birthday in mid-September. For some years I've used Daddy's method but wanted/needed a change. This past year I used a Bible that was written as Biblical events unfolded...a time line, so to speak. There's a name for this Bible but it's downstairs and I'm upstairs so will have to check later. Anyway, I find this is an interesting, but difficult, way to read the Bible. I'm used to reading all of a book at once, not jumping around to what else was going on at the time. Still and all, I did enjoy it but was ready, again, for a change.

The Woman's Study Bible is that change. It's a fascinating Bible, giving a woman's perspective as it pertains in a historical venue and features study articles, annotations, dozens of profiles of Biblical women, introductions and outlines and much, much more. It's what I've been looking for as it 'fleshes out' the Bible and gives it an immediate intimacy that brings me closer to God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. It makes ancient history real and explains how Old Testament Hebrew law affects society today. I'm sure this Bible will serve me in good stead for many, many years to come.

I do read other books...for pleasure, for fun, for entertainment...but find if I don't put "good stuff" into my head, my head will soften and become flabby. Thus, the materials above will serve me over the next few weeks and, in the case of the Bible, for decades to come. It's my way of taking Christmas with me and keeping Christ in me. I don't know about you but I need all the help I can get; it's a frosty old world and I want to walk out the door prepared, wearing a warm cloak, so to speak, that will protect me from ill winds. How about you? How do you take Christmas with you?

Blessings ~ a little country church ~ Christmas ~ good books ~ Christian authors ~ a great cloud of witnesses ~ Bibles ~

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!

LUKE 2

1
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How to Arrange a Nativity Scene

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blessings ~ Christ ~ Christmas ~ always family and friends ~ freedom ~ our military ~ safety admidst calamity ~

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Fine Fleece Winner!

We have a winner...but first, the disclaimers. We don't go for that high tech, fancy pants method of picking a winner. Nope, with us, it's simple and easy peasy as pie. I merely wrote the names on pieces of paper, tore them into, approximately, the same size and dropped them into a plastic bag. Dave had the pleasure of pulling a name out of the bag, so to speak.

A Fine Fleece was won by a Ravlery sister as well as one across the mountains...Iris. There were about fourteen folks who wanted to win so the chances were a whale of a lot better than any lottery I've ever seen. For those who didn't win, there will be other opportunities as I'm downsizing my library and will, about once a month, give away a book or books.

Hey Iris...I'm sorely tempted to say, come pick up your book the next time you come across the mountain but a deals a deal so I'll drop it in the mail this week. -smile-

The rest of y'll, stay tuned for more chances to win.

Blessings ~ books to give away ~ folks who enjoy books ~ yarn ~ knitting ~ rain ~ winning ~

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bush Hog - RIP

It's another cold day, didn't get above 26 degrees F and it's been snowing, off and on, all day. We had one to two inches last night, supposed to get another one to two tonight; I've not left the farm all day and only left the house to do chores.

Chores are, sometimes, very exciting around here. To get bales of hay from the barn to the pastures, I drive a "sexy little golf cart, Missy" as the farrier likes to say. He's bald as a cue ball, has a droopy handlebar mustache and is built like the, proverbial, brick outhouse. He's also married to a woman about fifteen years older than he; he's got a lot to recommend him. Yes, I do like the days when the farrier comes to trim horse feet. 'smile'
So, the "sexy little golf cart, Missy" is a Workhorse and it runs. I don't care what the heavens throw down, I don't care what the temperatures are, I don't care how cold it is...that Workhorse flat out, simply starts and runs. It's the most amazing little machine I've ever seen and I only hope my Polaris Ranger will be as good or better. Lord knows that good for nothing Bush Hog UTV was as useful as teats on a boar hog and it's good riddance to bad rubbish.

Oh don't get me wrong. The Bush Hog was a great little machine and for the money couldn't be beat. Except it wouldn't start in cold weather and if, by chance, I got it running, it wouldn't stay running. It would gasp, choke, cough, whine and, shortly, die. I should have shot the blasted thing the last time it wouldn't start. It preferred to stay inside and keep its pretty little tires warm and clean when the weather was cold. The regional sales rep, and I use the term only because that's what his title is...trust me, it's a slap in the face to regional sales reps who actually DO their job and are polite to their customers...so the regional sales rep says to me, "it's that Honda engine that's bad. You need to get in touch with Honda and talk to them; it's not a Bush Hog problem and I'm not dealing with you." I told him, "I didn't buy it from Honda, I bought it from Bush Hog, therefore, it's a Bush Hog problem because it's still under warranty."

He says, "I've already told you, it's a Honda problem and don't bother us with it." I'm thinking, with all the layoffs and people wanting/needing/begging for work, the only thing I can figure is this guy must be the owner's nephew. Because. There is No Way a jerk like that should talk to a customer, IOW, the person who buys the equipment he's selling so he can eat and pay his bills. His attitude needs some Serious Overhauling and I figure a few months in a bread line is just what he needs. Sheesh. I feel sorry for his family, if he has one. With an attitude like that, he probably started life in a petri dish.

So all this is taking place the month of November which was already a bad month because Dave's mother went into hospital on the third and died on the nineteenth. Who wants to listen to a lot of mouth during good times much less bad times? I mean, this guy was really and truly shirty.

So, lest you think I'm railing over something that just happened, let me assure you...this problem has been going on for Almost One Year. Yeah. We ordered the Bush Hog last December, the week before Christmas, was told arrival "by the end of the year" and it came, finally, in late February. Very Late February, the 27th to be exact. It was a piece of junk and a lemon from the start. The second day it was here, it wouldn't start. The local dealer has been a Southern Gentleman right from the beginning and has bent over backwards, and then some, to make this boondoggle right. I'll not go into it again but if you want to read the sordid tale, check out Bush Hog, Reliable Unreliable, Part I, Part II and Part III. It all reads like a horror movie only worse because it's been a real nightmare.

After Dave and I spoke, and I use the term very loosly, to the regional sales rep, we called his boss who was Simply Aghast, Horrified and Promised to Make Everything Right and asked me what did I want Bush Hog to do. I said, "within five business days, have a brand new, totally outfitted GREEN Bush Hog UTV just like this red one, sitting in my driveway." I wanted a green one because I didn't want them to try and pull a fast one on me. He said, "great, I'll call you back this afternoon." Well. I would just love to see Bush Hog's calendar because "this afternoon" has Never, Ever Come... Not The First Time.

Let's see, the regional sales rep said he'd call back. Nope.
The VP of Marketing said he'd call back. Nope.
The Manager of Sales Reps said he'd call back. Nope.

So, after Dave has called Bush Hog and been Very Polite...btw, I'm proud of Dave because when a man has been lied to That Many Times, it is Very Difficult to be polite. I called Bush Hog and requested the President's name and address. The woman who answered the phone remember my voice...from weeks ago!...and, very politely, said, "may I ask what this is about." I told her I was getting ready to write a lot of letters to a lot of people and organizations and wanted to copy the President. She said, "would you like to speak with him first?"

My mouth dropped open and I mumbled, "well, sure. That would be nice." In a few moments I'm speaking with the President of Bush Hog...the new President of Bush Hog because according to i-net research their personnel is turning over like a rolling stone. I tell him my story and, I'm almost, but not quite, ashamed to say...I cried. You've got to realize, this has been going on almost a YEAR and for a lot of that year, I'm cold, wet, freezing, miserable and exhausted from toting sixty-five to seventy-five bales of hay to the pastures in weather that would freeze one's knickers to their bum should a leakage problem occur.

One thing leads to another and he says, "let me check into this and I'll call you back this afternoon."

Uh oh. My heart sinks to my boots. Where have I heard this before? And from how many people at Bush Hog. Lawzee, I can hardly begin to count the times and folks.

To hasten to the end of this tale...Bush Hog President causes my money to be refunded and the regional sales guy causes the piece of krap Bush Hog to go to another dealer, not back to the plant as promised. But hey, that's no longer my problem. Am I happy with Bush Hog? Nope. Am I happy they refunded my money? Yep. It only took them almost a year to make things right with a customer, thanks Bush Hog President. Out of all the males we dealt with at Bush Hog, you're the only one who Kept Their World and that reflects well on you as a Southern Gentleman. My compliments to your Mama; she done good by you.

Blessings ~ Bush Hog Refunded Our Money...hurrah! ~ the Workhorse...hurrah! ~ warm clothes ~ hay ~ a good husband who takes care of his own ~

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Banjo

This is Banjo, the newest member of the family, and came to live with us the morning Dave's mother passed away. We figure he's about four months old and has just about tripled his weight since coming here. Of course, that's fairly easy to do when your menu choice is turkey, ham, roast beef, whole organic milk, half 'n' half or anything but cat food. He's not all that crazy about cat food; thinks it's something the dogs should eat and the dogs agree.

The unicorn continues to fly, happily and bravely, over Thistle Cove Farm. Just ask all the foundlings and strays who have made their way here to live, happily ever after.

For those in the unknow, unicorns are the 'patron saints' of foundlings and strays. If you've read Jeanine McMullen's books, you already know about unicorns. If you've not read My Small Country Holding or Wind in the Ash Tree, you're in for a treat. I read them about once a year and still laugh until I have tears streaming down my face! The things that women got herself into... I hear she still lives in Wales, in the same farmhouse on the same small country holding. God bless her.

Blessings ~ rain ~ warm weather ~ thawed water tanks ~ kittens ~ Banjo ~


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Give-Aways and Farm Life

For some time, I've been thinking of giving something away and that led me to other bloggers who had the same idea.

For example, Edward and Lilly are giving away an adorable hand made Christmas tree bird. I really like this blog as it has some delightful hand work.

Sew, Mama, Sew came up with a great idea - a give-away day but it was on 3 Dec. Doesn't matter to me though...it can still be give-away day and is...

I'm giving away a fabulous knitting book, A Fine Fleece, Knitting with Handspun Yarns by Lisa Lloyd. Clara Parkes wrote the forward and the book is filled with beautiful photos of lovely knitting patterns. A lot of the patterns are cabled, some heavily so, most are traditional, some with a twist and all designed to delight the senses both as reader and as knitter.

Please be sure and leave your e- or blog address; make sure you write it, for example,
appalmtngal at gmail dot com. Better safe than sorry, ya know.

Leave a comment and, if you blog about my give-away, you'll get two entries but you have to let me know your blog address where you've commented. Dave will draw a name out of a hat on 15 December, noon, and it will be mailed in time for Christmas. Having said that, let me hasten to add, it all depends upon the USPS as to whether it will be *delivered* in time for Christmas!

The aforementioned Sew, Mama, Sew also has a great Holidays at Home idea. One thing I love about giving gifts...most of mine are handmade or are tools so the recipient can make their own handmade gift. Handmade is simply better, imho, and gives more than just a store bought "something"; it gives the gift of ME...my time, my efforts, my energy, my prayers and as I make something for my friend or family member, I pour good thoughts and prayers into their lives and upon their heads.

Again this year our small quilting group, The Thompson Valley Circle of Friends, are making lap throws, baby blankets and maybe even a quilt or two for valley folks. There's always a lot of need and being warm in these frosty Appalachian mountains is foremost in everyone's mind. There's snow on the ground, a wind chill of around zero and a good time to quilt or sew. Church was called off this morning because of the heavy layer of ice; our congregation is older and there's no need for anyone to slip and, perhaps, break a bone. I took advantage of the extra time to take my time feeding my sheep and horses.

HayJ, my last stallion, was gelded on Friday and appears to be healing quite nicely. He's always wanted to be with the girls and now it's safer for all involved, especially me, to have him gelded. My hope is to have him trained to pull a Meadowbrook cart and he'll look **fabulous**...a black and white American Curly x Percheron pulling a black Meadowbrook! He's a gentle giant, about 18 hands, and weighs about 1800 to 1900 pounds. Trust me, it's better to not have a lot of testosterone about when a horse is that huge. This is HayJ as a younger stallion and the only thing that's changed is his size...he's much larger now.
The temperatures haven't been above freezing in days and any clothes left upon the line are frozen still. Oh, they still wave in the wind but I dare not get close enough to take them down.
I must wait until the wind stops or have my head taken off for my troubles. Evidence enough there's always work to be done, both on the farm and in the home.
Time to do something else; have yourself a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidaze.

Blessings ~ sunshine ~ give-aways ~ work for our hands ~ quilting ~ horses ~ sheep ~ dogs ~ cats ~ and human friends ~

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Christmas - Carpe Diem

Don't blink, don't breath, don't look away...it's DECEMBER and just about TWENTY DAYS until CHRISTMAS. Yes, I'm screaming!

Oh, I'm completely and totally ready for Christmas...it's the gift giving that's got me bamboozled. I'm still stitching my fingers to the bone and see almost absolutely no signs of progress.

On top of that...we've got company this weekend so have got to feed and house people. Wonder if they could just plunder for what they need while I run away? As long as they make sure the animals are fed and my chores are done...sounds like a plan to me.

Mary Lois, my beloved friend, send me Christmas gifts in the mail this week. GRRRRRR. She's SO prepared; she should have been a girl scout. Her gift has been bought but now needs to be sewn together...it's a two-parter gift. Buy the materials then sew them together. Just like all the rest of my gifts except some are actually finished and ready to be wrapped.

So...carpe diem...I think I'll sign off this computer and get to work.

In the meantime, please check out Cedar Pond...linked to my blog. A Cedar Pond visit is calming, soothing, refreshing, relaxing AND she has recipes!

God's blessings on you, yours and the work of your hands and heart.

Merry Christmas.

Blessings ~ Christmas ~ good blogs ~ good friends ~ computers ~ heart and art ~

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sabbath Thought

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mary Crockett Bowen Bricker

Mrs. Bricker was known to her contemporaries and family as Mary Crock or, more simply, Crock. To her grandchildren and great grandchildren she was known as Brick Brick, her son and daughter called her Mother and she was my mother in law.

In her day, she did a bit of crocheting but was better known for her ability to teach hard science and math at the high school, college and university levels. During the war years, Mrs. B., along with her sister in law and her daughter's future mother in law comprised the entire math department at Beaver High School in Bluefield, WV.

She earned her undergraduate degre at Queens College, Charlotte, NC in 1934 and in 2004, Dave and I took her and a classmate to their 70th Queens College, now University, reunion! She earned her Masters at West Virginia University and was all but a dissertation away from her PhD when her parents became ill and needed her care.

She won several fellowships including a General Electric science fellowship and taught at Bluefield College, Bluefield State College, West Virginia University, University of Illinois, Emory University in Atlanta, GA and VA Tech.

She was extremely proud to have been chosen one of the very first cheerleaders at Tazewell High School, Tazewell, VA and would tell tales of those early days to all who would listen.

Mrs. B. supported the efforts of Fiber Femmes and, in past years, paid postage to have fifty or sixty boxes of yarn sent to The Children's Home in Siberia, Russia.

She was the last of her immediate family and on 19 November 2008 joined her parents, brothers and sister in death. In June 2008 we celebrated her 95th birthday and all but seven of the fifty or so guests were family members including children, grand and great grands, niece, nephew, cousins and me.
It was one of those rare, beautiful days...absolutely perfect weather and enough of the "old guard" in attendance to warrant a magical knowledge this was the passing of the torch. We all knew we'd never have this opportunity again and took full advantage of the day to build love and memories. We who were there have that day to hold against the dark nights and frosty world that push against love.

Blessings ~ a life well lived ~ birthdays ~ teachers ~ family ~ friends ~ memories ~

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Five Stages of Collapse

Dmitry Orlov has written a fascinating article entitled, "The Five Stages of Collapse" and has intimate knowledge of his subject as he was born and raised in the Soviet Union. Now, he's an engineer and specializes in "thinking about and, unfortunately, predicting collapse". He watched the Soviet Union collapse and draws comparisons between that country and the USA. As an engineer, he looks for physical explanations rather than cultural, political or economic reasons.

It's a thought provoking article and requires a bit of a time commitment, and not a few brain cells, to read; however, it's time well spent if it prepares one for the future.

There are three Chinese curses:

1. May you live in interesting times.
2. May you come to the attention of those in authority.
3. May you find what you are looking for.

Each generation believes they are living in "interesting times" and, as times, go, these are Quite Interesting.

Please, let me know your thoughts.





Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Two Contests

I ran across a contest for women entrepreneurs you might find interesting and profitable. Information taken directly from their webpages; please visit for more details.

Digital Growth Contest

"Attention, women entrepreneurs...

Enter our Digital Growth Contest and you could win a free year of high-speed Internet and other prizes from a cable company, and a free one-year membership with Ladies Who Launch.

All you need to do is tell us an inspiring story about your business — and you could be a Digital Growth Contest winner!

It's easy to enter. We invite you, a spouse, friend or colleague to write an essay in 250 words or less, telling us the story of your business — emphasizing the opportunity, the challenges and the rewards of entrepreneurship. Each essay must also include an anecdote that illustrates how your business could benefit from a communications technology upgrade.

The deadline is Thursday, November 13, 2008, 11:59 ET, so don’t procrastinate!"


The Knitting Scholar site has a contest to share some largesse; check it out then, go and do likewise.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thistle Cove Farm Life

TEMPUS FUGIT...and does it ever! How can it possibly be October already??? I remember thinking...sometime just as summer was creeping onward...soon, all too soon, it will be autumn, then winter, then Christmas. Now...it's autumn for crying out loud! It's just about TEN WEEKS until Christmas! And, speaking of Christmas...these handsome critters reside in Bland County, next door to Tazewell County. You can't tell it from the photo but they are molting and looking a bit, maybe more than a bit, ragged.
HOW ON EARTH DID THIS HAPPEN??? The time thing I mean...

Yeah, yeah...I know how it happened...truly I do but sheesh...I didn't even leave the room for a cup of coffee...I simply blinked and WHOOSH!

I am stunned. I've got, at a bare minimum, three quilts to finish for Christmas gifts and one of those has to be finished by the first weekend in December.

Here's a quilt I made for the latest member of the Butcher clan. I've gotten away from those first few baby quilts that were done in "baby colors"...yuck on "baby colors". I've found I much prefer Colors, the bolder the better, and in flannel. Now, there's something to cozy under while being wrapped not only in quilt but in prayers and love.Here's another quilt, made for the tractor crazy little fellow living down the road. The little fellow's mother told me he's not been without his quilt since I took it to him...if you see him, you see his quilt. That's thanks enough for me to keep making quilts for little ones!

There have been two quilt shows in the County, one in Burke's Garden and the other in Richlands. Both were fabulous with great examples of Very Traditional quilts displayed. No art quilts here, ta very much. I could live, and quilt, another twenty years and never approach the skill of the women whose work was featured. Quilting is underappreciated, especailly when one can purchase a twenty dollar Chinese made quilt. Folks really have no clue what goes into a quilt, especially a hand made quilt. That means...all the top stitching is done By Hand...not a machine. It's easy enough to have a few hundred, if not a few thousand, hours in a hand made quilt. But...I'll write about the quilt shows on another entry.

I took a quick trip to visit WV family and we picked the last of the Wolf River apples. The apples I love are now "heritage" apples. Seems like everything I love is becoming heritage or antique or loved before. I go into an antique store and see my kitchen and pantry on sale and at Very Dear Prices! Anyway, Wolf River apples are beautiful, large, crisp and make lovely pies; I've made four pies in the last week and given all but one away to folks who assure me the pies are delicious. I believe them too, mainly because they are standing in line waiting on more pies.



This threesome were in my brother's front yard and two of them are bucks, sporting their first growth of horns. My brother has stopped hunting and now finds greater pleasuare in watching wildlife. A couple of months ago he witnessed Mother Nature at her grimmest. He watched a bear sow, a female, chase and pull down a baby deer just a few months old while the baby's mother ran crying, in circles but she was no match for the sow. The sow had a cub to feed and with cold weather coming on, they both need the calories in order to make it through winter. If they don't get enough calories to sleep through, they will waken and seek out food in the early spring months and at any time, a sow with a cub is a dangerous animal.

That's one of the hard things about living in a rural area...watching Mother Nature at work, knowing that for something to live, something else has to die. I watch buzzards whirling in the skie on a daily basis, sometimes waiting on something to die and other times just riding the wind currents. It's a constant struggle...that of life and death. Dave's Mother is 95 and lives with us; her body has begun the process of dieing but only God knows if it will be days, weeks, months or even years. She's feeble, frail, physically exhausted and the dementia worsens on a daily basis. It's difficult for her to endure and equally difficult, perhaps more so because we don't have dementia, for everyone else to watch. A lot of days it seems we get started just about the time we're headed to bed and at this season of life we strive just to get meals cooked, laundry done and stay clean. I haven't been in my studio for days and my daily devotions, I'm sad to say, are too frequently prayers thrown heavenward as I'm struggling with my MIL's needs. There are many days the first opportunity I have to sit down is at the supper table and, by then, I'm usually falling asleep with fork in hand. Now there's a pleasant visual...not! All that to say, keep us in your prayers, please. Our struggles don't compare with the struggles of some but I'm happy to put your name on my prayer list and where "two or three are gathered together"...God does hear and heed.

I'll leave you with two more photos...these rocking horses are just the ticket for your little ones and, at $50 each, are an absolutely great deal! They currently rock at the health food store in Richlands and, no, I don't get anything except the pleasure of helping another on life's path.


The Canada geese fly over almost every night and I've seen several flocks of sixty or more. They are beautiful and I adore hearing them call out to one another as they fly over. Did you know they call out to encourage each other to keep going, keep flying, keep on the path? I can hear them while they are miles away, my ears are tuned to them and I always stand and wave as they pass over. Every now and again, they will fly just clearing over the house or barn, and fly low enough so I can hear the beating of their wings...THROMP, THROMP, THROMP...mixed in with their voices.

I call out to them...words of encouragement to keep flying, keep going, keep on the path. Those are my words to you, no matter what your struggles...keep going, keep on the path, keep throwing your prayers heavenward. God hears you and no matter what else you have to hold onto in life...hold onto this...God hears you and loves you with a fierce love; an eternal love called Christ, His son.

Blessings ~ God's love ~ quilts ~ apples ~ geese ~ babies ~ old folks ~ and all of us in between! ~

Monday, August 25, 2008

VA Bowen's, Gillespie's and WV Hamrick's

We had a lovely Saturday, full of family, deep roots, good food and great fellowship. Dave's Mother is a Bowen by birth and of the Rees Tate Bowen line. Her Grandmother was a Gillespie and married her first cousin, a Bowen, so bears the blood of both old families. The Bowen's came out of Wales where, curiously enough, my paternal Grandfather Bennetts' people originated. As I'm typing this, the thought occurs to me...wonder if Dave's family and my family were on the same boat that left Wales and landed in Fredericksburg, VA in 1654? I'll have to put that on my to-do list for checking.

The ceremony specifically honored the Bowen and Gillespie Patriots who fought for freedom from the tyranny of King George. There were around 100 people, perhaps more, attending the ceremony and came from all over the USA. Heather, from the United Kingdom, was visiting my mother-in-law's cousins' widow, a Bowen, and found it all as interesting, I dare say, as did I if from a vastly difference perspective. We're but a blip in England's long history and upstarts to boot. It takes persons of enormous courage, fortitude and who have little to lose but much to gain to do what those first settler's accomplished.

I'm sure there were murders and killings on all sides...settler's and those who were living here when the settler's arrived, just as I'm sure there were friends and inter-marrying among the white's, blacks and American Natives. It's been said history was, and is, written by the winner's but, even so, there's enough truth left so one can ferret out a story.


The Boy Scouts lead the ceremony with the raising of the US flag while we all said the Pledge of Allegiance.

This post is about honoring our past by living our future in the here and now. It's about watching the Boy Scouts raise and salute the American flag while the rest of us say the Pledge of Allegiance. It's about honoring those men, and women, who left the old country to forge a new one while claiming their place in history.


Mrs. Peggy Marrs leads the group...but for the life of me, I simply cannot remember the correct title of what we were saying. I won't try and muddle through; I'll try and find the program I gave my mother-in-law knowing full well it would, in all probability, vanish into thin air. Peggy is a member of the Maiden Springs DAR, a group I've been invited to join once I complete my gathering of Hamrick information for the application.



Rees Tate Bowen, VII, speaking as the first Rees Tate Bowen, tells the story of coming to this new country, living first in, what is now, Rockbridge and Augusta counties, then traveling to where the homeplace now stands in the Cove, Tazewell County, VA.


This young man is holding the rifle that fired the first shot at the October 7, 1780 Battle of King's Mountain. He hurried away before giving his name but is certainly one of the Bowen, or perhaps, Gillespie line.

I love my country and am unashamed to shed a tear when the flag goes up or by, hand clasped over my heart, whispering the Pledge, singing the anthem or giving thanks for those who have gone before. I fear for America as much as I love America. While it's true we're a great melting pot, it's also true we're becoming diluted. We're becoming less America and more a fraction of a whole; the whole is becoming less and I believe that's not a good thing. We're losing our identity as "Americans" and taking on the nomenclature of Anglo Americans, Irish Americans, African Americans, etc.

Doug Wilder, former and first black Governor of VA and now Mayor of Richmond once said, "I'm not an African-American. I AM AN AMERICAN!" I agree. I am an American and while honoring my Welsh, Irish, English, German and American Native heritage, I remain, first and foremost...AN AMERICAN.

There's a statue at the Charleston, WV state capitol building of Rimfire Hamrick. He stands there as an example of the men, and I believe women, who founded not only West VA but this country. Men who walked the walk more than talking the talk; men of action, pioneers and strangers in a strange land. Men who left their mark on history by going to war to defend this new land, to protect home and family and, by leaving their mark on history, marked the hearts of kith and kin to follow. Rimfire is a distant relative on my Daddy's Mothers' side; she was a Hamrick who married a Bennett and representative of the type of woman that help define the frontier by keeping the hearth flames burning.

It's a proud heritage and culture, that of Appalachia and America. Where we, the Hamrick's, Bennett's, Bowen's and Gillespie's ended up is very similar to where we started. The mountains are soft yet rugged, the people are rugged yet soft and we tend to take care of our own.

So, if I have to be labeled, let it not be as an Anglo American, Irish American, Welsh American, etc. Let it be as an Appalachian American. In other words...an American American.

Blessings ~ family ~ Patriot's ~ Appalachia ~ DAR ~ AMERICA! ~

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hayhenge


One of three wagons of beautiful alfalfa hay.


HAYHENGE


The wonderful lads and gents who put up my hay...THANKS!

Once again, we've been blessed beyond our deserving. As you may recall, last year we had a severe drought, ran out of hay and had to buy hay out of North Dakota. It was expensive and, while good hay, not as good as what we are, usually, able to harvest. Just a few days ago, our hay was cut, kicked and then tethered prior to being baled into "square" hay bales. It's always called square hay even though it's rectangular in shape.

At day's end, dead dark really, we had 350 PLUS bales of hay! Thank You, God! It's all in our barn where it will cure and be ready to feed out this winter. The horses are given free choice round bale hay because it's not as rich as our square bale alfalfa. As horse people know, the feed has to be carefully regulated in order to prevent what is, essentially, colic in horses. It's much worse than in humans and can, if not caught in time and treated, cause death. A very painful death for the animal and horrible to helplessly watch. Far better to step in and end the suffering.

These photos were taken on baling day and reminded me of Stonehenge, only to my mind, much better. They represent fodder for my sheep and horses, nutrition for the living when the snowballs come...as my Aunt Rena used to say.

While we think of Autumn as a time of harvest, it's really summer's end that brings in the produce and bounty. Our apple trees, Granny Smith and Wolf River, are both laden with apples to be eaten in hand or dried for dried apple pies this winter. There are blackberries and cherries in the freezer that will make delicious cobblers, two kinds of pickles - bread and butter and lime and a few quarts of peaches and many pints of peach topping. I'll need to can some tomatoes, that is if we can stop from eating them as fried green tomatoes. We enjoy fried green tomatoes and I do them up right, even if I do have to say so myself.

Harvest is good and continues to be good, perhaps a portent of a hard and snowy winter. Bumblebees are making their nests in the ground, the nut trees are heavy with nuts, fruit trees are groaning with their offerings...all things point to a harsh winter.

I hope we get lots of snow because we need the slow, deep moisture only a deep snow can provide. The water table is still down and many springs are still dry. People can gripe all they want to about food and food prices but it's lack of water that will take us more quickly than lack of food. Remember the old saying...three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food? That says it all.

Blessings ~ hay! and lots of it ~ rain, which we need ~ pure air ~ clean water ~ good health ~ and knitting in hand ~

Monday, August 11, 2008

Travel and heart-break


In Gori, Georgia the flag is viewed from the Stalin Museum


Georgia wants to become an EU and NATO member; Russia doesn't approve.


A rooftop view of Tiblisi, the capital of Georgia.

The first time I ever needed a passport, in 2004, I traveled to the great country of Russia. It was, and remains, an incredible life-changing experience. My horizons were broadened, my view enlarged, my heart expanded and my world, quite simply, turned upside down.

My family traveled a lot when we were growing up. Daddy had a truck, I believe a Chevy, loaded with a truck camper and every summer the five of us, parents and three children, would crowd together and see the USA. Daddy got two weeks vacation from, then VEPCO, now Dominion Resources, the electric company, and we saw an amazing amount of our great land. One of my favorite trips was Out West. We went to the Badlands, Wall Drug Store, Corn Palace, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Old Faithful and I can't remember what else. I remember a helicopter ride over Mt. Rushmore and huge bears in Yellowstone. We needed a JFK fifty cent piece to take a shower in Yellowstone and, just about the best, standing Directly Over the Top of Old Faithful just waiting for it to spurt. Of course, we'd always move away in order not to be burned by the steam but it was amazing, just standing and looking down into the hole that was Old Faithful. Now days, Old Faithful is roped off and people have to view it from a distance; not quite the same experience but I suppose it helps keep accidents down and the gene pool safe.

Mom prepared delicious meals on the camper stove and she and Daddy taught us how to read a map, how to read the sky, how to travel by both sun and stars. Those family trips prepared me by making me flexible, independent and willing to take risks so when the opportunity came to lecture and teach in Russia, I was more than ready.

Sudhakar Jamkhandi, a professor at Bluefield State College and Director of the Center for International Understanding, CIU, invited me to lecture and teach on Agri-tourism, Rural Tourism Development and Increasing Small Farm Income. Essentially, what I do at Thistle Cove Farm and what I taught at Concord University. Dave traveled with me and that turned into a blessing in disguise as we spent the first week, the two of us, separated from our group. We had a Russian interpreter but, deviating from plan, I lectured and taught alone. It was a great experience and I still maintain contact with some of the dear, wonderful people I met on that trip. I did, and do, love Russia and her people. They opened their hearts to me and I to them; they made me a better person and, hopefully, I helped some of them as well. One day, God willing, I'd love to return and visit with some old friends and make some new friends.

Flash forward to 2007 when Dave and I visited Armenia and Georgia and, again, met many wonderful people who opened their hearts and homes to us. As before, this trip was arranged through the CIU and it was an experience a tour group could never have provided.

All that to say, the business of war between Russia and Georgia is breaking my heart. Dave and I were all over Georgia and in Gori and shared a day and meals with many residents. Now the MSNBC photos of Gori show a city under siege while the countryside is being run over by tanks and soldiers and the country is being cut in half by Russian military. Russian troops are moving toward Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where we spent many wonderful and pleasant days and God alone knows what will happen.

We know nothing of the people with whom we shared meals with or spoke of ways to enrich our lives and future. We know nothing of the vineyards we visited or the women who served us a delicious meal to celebrate the vineyard. That evening, while seated in a foyer, waiting for the rest of our group to arrive, I drew a small bottle of hand lotion from my purse. As I poured a small amount into my palm, I looked up and noticed a woman watching me. I motioned to pour some into her hand and she nodded “yes” but her companion was shy and nodded “no”. She smelled the lotion, massaged it into her hands and eagerly smiled her approval. I tightened the bottle cap and put it into her hands, a small gift from one woman to another. Her smile broadened and she kissed me on the cheek as thanks.

What of her, Russia? What of that woman with such a gracious heart who made me feel welcome in her country even though neither of us spoke the other’s language? She is…was?…a mother, Russia. Is she alive or has she been bombed into eternity?

It’s true I know almost nothing of politics but I do know Russia, you’re a big country and Georgia is a small country. Russia, you’re too big to be this small; it’s unbecoming and beneath you to be such a bully. It is incumbent upon the strong to take care of the weak; to feed the hungry, to be a mother to the motherless, to care for those less fortunate…not to cause the hunger or to make orphans. I, and the world, expect more of you, Russia.

Russia, in 2004 you showed me your great heart, your great love of family and friends. Russia…where’s that great heart and love? Show us before my heart finishes breaking.

Blessings ~ God…in a world gone absolutely mad ~

~Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." James 4:17

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Life At Thistle Cove Farm

"All the best part of experience consists in discovering that perfectly trite pieces of observation are shiningly and exhilaratingly true." C. E. Montague

Only a short few weeks ago, a month yesterday, summer officially announced herself. We had a coolish, rainy spring that brought a great crop of hay to tide us over the winter. Off and on, for weeks on end, it rained…sometimes gentle, sometimes torrents but always welcome. After the drought we had last year, rain, and hay, are most welcome.

Yesterday, summer reminded me she was dieing; the end has already begun almost before it arrived. Certainly before I'm ready. Isn't that always the case? Why does it seem summer is always so much shorter than winter? I like all the seasons, appreciate them all, use them all, enjoy them all but summer seems to be God in all His glory at His very best.

At 5:00 p.m. the thermometer read 102 in the shade; God only knows if that was the hottest part of the day. It was a hot, humid day and moving through it reminiscent of moving through the shimmering haze of a July day at the beach. It was difficult to get much done although I kept moving all day. I worked in the studio making some cards, de-cluttering, putting up shelves and getting some quilting projects ready for Thursday night. I did several loads of laundry and hung everything on the line where it dries quickly and smells fresh no matter if sheets or blouses or towels.

Dave's Mom gets a shower on Mondays so that was on the mid-day agenda and went well. She's afraid of falling…who isn't as they age?...so I spend a lot of time prepping the shower with extra towels on the bench and handhold so she can feel as secure as possible. People have asked us why don't we put her into a nursing home and that's a good question. The answer is I don't believe in them. I believe in taking care of family, friends too if it comes to that, and as trying as it is having the responsibility of someone 24/7/365, it's what family does. Other people make other decisions based upon their circumstances but this is what we've decided. For the most part, it works. Every major religion says something like, "what goes around, comes around" or "karma" or, as the Bible says, "cast your bread upon the waters and it will return." The Bible doesn't say good bread or moldy bread, it just says bread, so Dave and I are casting our bread upon the water and honoring our parents. For us, life is as it should be.

At 3:00 this morning, the fog was dense and the air cool reminding me in order for autumn to live, summer must die. There's always "that moment" when summer wavers, just a tiny bit, and the mask slips, reminding us of the fragility of time, the brevity of not only nature but of life. The sumac is always the first to turn autumn colors and lose leaves while the next is either the walnut or locust trees.

Dave and I were leaving the Cove and saw this beautiful deer cross the road.

It always amazes me how well a deer blends into the foliage. All too soon, it will be hunting season and while I recognize the need for thinning deer population, it saddens me at the same time. We know many hunters who hunt for food on the table but others, imho, shouldn't be allowed to hold a gun in their hands much less shoot it. I've seen ejits drinking alcohol, shoot from the road, spotlight and other infractions that should, at the very least, garner them a public whipping. And no, they aren't all "good ole boys", some are "professionals" or so they call themselves. Oh well. Enuf said or I'll go on a worse tangent.

I've been quilting then shipping them far and wide. The little "Olivia Pig Quilt" was made for a friend's granddaughter and everyone loved the bold simplicity of the black, white and red quilt. Friend Marti asked if I knew those simple, yet striking, colors were conducive to a child's early development. I wish I could take credit but true be told, I just like the "pig in lipstick" and it amused me; I'm no even sure I knew of Olivia beforehand.

I've several more quilts cut out and ready to sew this Thursday evening. One is a 50th Anniversary wall hanging for my Mom and Dad and has 12x12 squares of muslin with the written well wishes of friends and family. I'll print their "courting picture" on a piece of fabric and will use as the centerpiece with the muslin squares as borders. I've got a quilt cut out for Dave's cousin and his wife; that's an anniversary gift whenever I get it to them. I need to finish the John Deere quilt for Little John, as opposed to his Dad, Big John, who live down the road. There are other quilts cut out and ready to be sewn, some are for the bed while others are art quilts. I've never made an art quilt but there's got to be a beginning so there can be an end. Just like the seasons. Just like us. There's a time for everything including a time to be born and a time to die. As with all, tempus fugit but most importantly...carpe diem. It's a beautiful day, don't let it get away from you.

Happy 13th Anniversary to Dave and I...may our future years be from the best of our past years.

Blessings ~ quilting ~ summer ~ autumn ~ family ~ day ~ night ~

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Summer Afternoon, Summer Afternoon

Since mid-June when I started preparations for my MIL's 95th birthday party, it's been a roller coaster ride. Her birthday was the 23rd but we celebrated on the 28th and had about fifty people with all save seven near or distant kin. The birthday girl is seated on the right and her friend, playmate and cousin since birth, Tece, is seated on her left. Tece is one family name and "Sitter" is the other; seems like "sitter" was the only way another family member could pronounce "sister". Don't you love old family stories and connections?

This is the newest member of the clan, Nicholas, son of Beth and Michael. Nicholas, hopefully never to be known as Nick, is almost a year old and a delight. But then, he would be. He has the Very Nicest parents and two of my favorite people in Dave's family.

Dave and I took a couple of days off and headed to Winston Salem for some Much Needed R&R. Along the way, we saw these two-humped camels next door in Bland County. The landowner moved here from Florida, or so I've been told, and bought or brought camels. They appear to be molting so perhaps he doesn't know the fiber is desired amongst hand spinners.

There are two hummingbird feeders on the front porch and it's one of our daily joys to sit on the front porch, catch up on our day, watch the humming birds and drink a glass of wine. I've found two humming bird nests and brought them to the house where they rest in our sunroom and are a delight. Both nests are made from fiber, some call it horsehair, from our American Curly horses and are tiny, perfect examples of God's creation doing what it does best...glorying God by doing what He intended.
Like the poet Henry James said, "Summer afternoon, summer afternoon. The two most beautiful words in the English language." And I agree even though summer afternoons, and mornings, are filled with work. I awake at, or near, dawn, listen to the birds for a while, think over my day, pray a bit, then roll out of bed. House animals need to be let out, fed and quieted with a treat then I head to the barn to tend to the barn cats and kittens, feed the stallion, check the mineral buckets, eyeball all the sheep and horses, walk the barn lot and, in general, eyeball the immediate area for anything that looks out of place.

Today I headed back to the house and started making lime pickles and will post photos and a recipe later. I've only been home a few days and am playing catch up with my own work, family and farm. Mother had knee surgery and I went to cook, clean and help with the garden. While I was there I did a bit of spring cleaning as well as visited with Mom and Daddy. Both are still very active, Daddy is the Board of Supervisor member for his Amelia district and Mom is on the library board. They instilled in all three of their children a Very Strong Work Ethic and it pains us to "sit and do nothing". Idle hands are the devils' tools so we tend to keep busy. In the summer we have gardens and can, freeze or dry food for the winter; in the winter we quilt, do needlework, knit or keep busy with church work. Daddy takes seriously the Biblical admonition to "help widows and orphans" and gives generously from his garden and orchard produce.

I feel sorry for people who don't have meaningful work in their lives. Meaningful work is a blessing and a gift, both to oneself and to others, keeps one healthy, makes one wealthy and staves off trouble.

Blessings ~ meaningful work ~ family ~ God's creation ~ garden produce ~ rest ~ Summer afternoon, summer afternoon ~

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Likely Yarn

Prior to this month, the nearest yarn shop was located more than one hundred miles from Thistle Cove Farm. All that has changed with the opening of A Likely Yarn in Abingdon, VA. At only fifty miles, it's a real uptick for me and means I can, God willing and the creek don't rise, visit more than once or twice a year.

It's always a delight to catch up with Jane Plaugher who was the featured spinner on opening day. I met Jane several years ago at the first Shenandoah Fiber Festival when Leslie Shelor, Linda Wright and I went away for a fibery weekend.

Janet Woolwine, the owner, is a delightful woman and has built a lovely shop in Zazzy's, a locally owned coffee shop with computers for customer use. The location is great and the atmosphere is conducive to lingering with friends and new friends. I believe there's going to be a knit-in every Tuesday evening and this weekend there's a discount for all eco or green yarns.

She also carries the Omega Shawl pattern by Chris Bylsma; it's a moebius type shawl and goes over the head to wrap around the shoulders. It should be quite the thing to ward off chills yet keep my hands free for tasks. A LYS trip is in the making!
I'm so pleased there's a new yarn shop at a, relatively speaking, close distance to me. A Likely Yarn's website isn't up yet but promises to be wonderful with design work by Blonde Chicken. Speaking of Blonde Chicken, she's spinning up some pretty yarn based on her adventures to the Johnson City, TN Farmers' Market. It's a really cute idea, you should check it out.

Speaking of yarn, I've got some white yarn that needs dyeing but Lord only knows when I'll find time to dye. My mother-in-law will be 95 next week and we're planning a birthday picnic for her on the 28th of June; all my "spare" time is going toward getting the house clean and the farm looking spiffy. Heck, my knitting needles have lain dormant for a while now; tempus fugit and it's all I can do to keep up. Run, rabbit, run!

Blessings ~ a new yarn shop ~ knitting ~ cooler days ~ yarn to dye ~ a clean house ~

Monday, June 16, 2008

Spring in The Cove

In order to get anywhere we have to leave our valley, affectionately and simply called "The Cove" but, officially called "Ward's Cove". The Ward family settled here generations ago, back in the 1700's closely followed by the Bowen's, Dave's mothers' family. They got here in the mid-1700's and staked their claim via a land grant...or so the story goes.

Anyway, the photo above is what we rest our eyes upon when we return from a shopping expedition. That's Thistle Cove Farm in the far distance, the smallest farm in the valley at a little fewer than thirty acres. The next largest farm is a few thousand acres and we're all bordered, on the backside, by a national forest. It's a lovely place to live and I never, never tire of gazing upon God's beauty.

This is one of the ways we can drive home; I love the canopy of trees and the filtered sunlight speckling the roads reminding me of a speckled hen. We often see deer on this road and, sometimes, a sow or her cub. We have bald eagles nesting in our valley, contrary to what the Game and Inland Fisheries Department says. They say no bald eagles nest here but they are wrong and wrong is, quite often, what one is when one relies upon books instead of first hand observation.

Daddy and Robert were gathering honey a few days ago. It was So Hot the bees were gathered on the outside of the hive, using their wings to cool down the inside of the hive. This time of year poplar honey is what the bees are making and it's a rich, dark, sensuous honey that lingers on the tongue. Next month bees will be making linden, aka basswood, honey, an almost clear honey that's as delicate in flavor as a bride's wedding veil.

A lot of bee keepers will use gloves, hat and suit to collect the honey but if a person is calm, quiet and gentle around the bees they will, generally, not sting. A honey bee only has one sting and once that sting has been used, the bee dies. How unlike a wasp or bumblebee...those can sting over and over and over and...UGH!
Anyway, I've grown up around honey bees and their hives and have never been stung while collecting honey. I've never known Daddy nor Robert to wear "protective gear" and they only times they have been stung is when they've done something stupid. Robert put his arm down on the hive and crushed a bee between his arm and the hive; ergo, the bee stung him. It was a clear case of self defense. Steve, my brother, has been keeping bees for decades and is allergic but has never been stung by a willful bee. Bees are gentle creatures, even when someone is robbing their hive of their hard gained honey. A bee will travel more than five miles to collect nectar to bring back to the hive for the worker bees to turn into honey.

This is honey in the comb and once the bees are "smoked" off the honey can be cut out and slathered on home made biscuits...YUMALICIOUS! Oh and if there's home churned butter as well...then you have a little preview of heaven!
Bee keepers use a smoker, into which they place a little paper and a bit of burlap bag. This makes the bee lethargic and calmer, in turn, they fly back to the hive and give up their claims on the honey in hand. It's a humane way to manage bees and bee keepers have done so for generations.

We had a storm yesterday and today and the rain is most welcome even though it's hay cutting season. We need to have our hay cut and had contracted with a neighbor to cut today. Fortunately, the rain came before he could cut so, hopefully, the next few days will be sunny and warm. We're keeping all our hay this year; in year's past we've contracted on halves with other horse owners. Last year's drought meant we had to buy hay out of North Dakota...expensive!...so we're keeping our hay this year. We should, please God, have enough to feed our horses and, perhaps sell a bit as well.
Back to the storm...the winds were horrific and blew over the hammock stand. That stand is heavy, made of steel and the wind blew it over like it weighed nothing.
In the photo below you can see the bird feeder swaying to the left as the wind blows. Even now, hours later, water is pouring from the skies and the thirsty earth is drinking her fill.

Blessings ~ rain ~ honey ~ beauty ~ home made food ~ health ~ a hot shower ~

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Happy Sabbath

"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may wish for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done."

A Franciscan blessing

Blessings ~ Sundays, a day of relaxation & recreation ~ wise words ~ rain for a thirsty Earth ~ our Pastor, a good, decent & honorable man ~ stout hearts

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Phoebe

~ Phoebe ~

We have a new family member; her name is Phoebe and she's about eight months old. A number of years ago, Dave made me promise I wouldn't pick up any strays on the road. Which is pretty difficult to promise and almost imposible not to do. I wish people could be horsewhipped in public for dropping animals on the road and I absolutely *hate* cleaning someone else's mess. I've heard it all...I'm giving the animal a second chance. Maybe someone else will give it a home. The animal shelter is too depressing.

Yeah. Right. What it amounts to, people, is you're too sorry to do the right thing by the animal. Take it to the shelter where, yes, it might be killed, put down, destroyed or even, GASP! adopted. But At The Very Least it will die a decent death. It won't be torn to pieces by a pack of wild dogs or coyotes. It won't die, slowly, twisting in agony because it ingested poison. It won't die, slowly, painfully because it was hit by a car and unable to find a morsel of food. It won't die, slowly, in anguish because it got caught in a snare and died, in a few days or weeks, of thirst or starvation.

PEOPLE...DO THE RIGHT THING!

The people who need to read the above are out dropping off dogs; not reading my blog so the rest of you, please forgive the rant.

Phoebe. What a beautiful little girl. She looks a lot like Shaddie, our Ridgeback, but, I don't think, is going to be quite as big. That's a good thing as Shaddie weighs around 110 pounds. Some evil person, perhaps the same one who flung her out on the road, also mistreated her. It took a week of twice daily feedings to gentle her even though her personality said, "I want to be loved, I'm a good dog and want to trust you."

Even when we brought her home, Sunday night, she was cowed and shying away. It took a lot of gentle, slow moving around her; lots of treats, hugs and kisses to bring her around. There's been a small altercation between Poebe and Abigail but that was over a dog bone. Abbie has always been, and will always be, top dog around here and, while she shares, she, sometimes, does so grudingly. Anyway, Abbie snuck around and stole Phoebe's bone and the next thing I knew, the fight was on. Teeth were bared, snarles exchanged but no one used their teeth to bite. Thank God. It was a show of strength and wills and I'm keeping a close eye on both until Phoebe has settled in. That should take a month or so for me to think things are working out.

Yes, I did get out of my sick bed to go with Dave across the mountain. He decided we were going to bring this girl home and wanted me to help. How could I possibly say "no"?

See how much Phoebe resembles Shaddie?

~ Shaddie ~

~ Gracie, foreground; Hattie Cat, background; 91 on lower portion of grill and Boscoe Man on grill lid. This is the grill I use for dyeing my wool and is used as a cat perch the rest of the time. By the way, 91 received her name when I found her, twelve years ago, sitting by the side of Rt. 91. She was a tiny, tiny kitten and was snatched out of a, potentially, deadly situation to come to Thistle Cove Farm.
~ Abigail ~

Blessings - a happy household ~ sunshiney day ~ last night's rain ~ a great life ~ delicious, sweet well water ~ good health, once again ~

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sheep Is Life

There's some sort of epizootics going around and, lucky me, I picked it up. I've been flat on my back and the days have, totally, run together. Today is the first day I've been at the computer in a week, maybe longer, and I'm still weaker than the new kittens playing in the barn loft.

The 12th annual Sheep is Life Celebration is in a few weeks but, alas, I can visit only via i-net. It's one of my dreams to visit this celebration, held at the Greyhills Academy Campus on the Navajo Nation in Tuba City, AZ. It's presented by Diné be’ iiná, Inc., a nonprofit organization and workshops, hands-on demos, vendors, rug auction and sheep and wool show round out the festivities.
Sometimes I think we should have our own sheep is life celebration in the southern Appalachians. Sheep have provided meat and fleece in these old mountains since they were brought over from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. In days past, sheep gut was used to make condoms and violin strings but was, erroneously, called cat gut. Clinton, neighbor and shearer, has one of the largest sheep flocks in the Commonwealth of VA; probably east of the Mississippi for that matter. He runs about six hundred ewes and lambs in the spring and less than that as he sells to market. He also runs a few goats as there's a large ethnic market for goat meat. Somehow I doubt any of his sheep or goats have names and he looks askance when I say, "oh, that's Sophie you've just finished shearing."

But, differences are what makes us alike and it takes all of us to make the world go 'round. It's only in western, "civilized" countries that we name, tame and keep our animals as pets; in other parts of the world those same animals are knows as "supper". I tell Dave we can't save them all so we save the ones we can.

Did I mention he's gone over the mountan to feed a stray dog? He's been trying to gentle this dog for a week, ever since I've been sick, and feeding it twice a day. Dave thinks she, the dog, would respond to a female voice and as soon as I'm able, I'll ride across the mountain with him. We don't need another dog, our dog girls are in double digit numbers now but Dave says this stray is beautiful and has tugged at his heart. What the hey. We'll do like we do at supper and put another potatoe in the pot. There's always room at the table for a hungry belly.

St. Francis of Assissi would be proud.

Blessings ~ spring ~ well health, coming again soon, hopefully ~ the i-net, keeping us connected ~ good books ~ zinneas ~ animals on the bed, keeping me company as I heal ~