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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.

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 ~