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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.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Country Magazine

Thistle Cove Farm is in the June-July 2009 issue of Country Magazine and on their web site at

Please forgive me for bragging but Dave and I have done a lot of work to restore this old farm and the house. It's been a long, hard, beautiful road and we're still not finished but every time I get discouraged, I look at the scenery. It's all about the beauty God has allowed us to enjoy and I work like it all depends upon me and pray like it all depends upon God.

Because it does, you know. Depend upon God. Every last blade of grass and every breath we take.

We are so blessed.

Blessings ~ Thistle Cove Farm ~ all the horses ~ all the sheep ~ all the cats ~ all the dogs ~ blessings upon blessings upon blessings, thanks to the goodness of God ~

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Kitties

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the spring of despair, it was the day of hope. We had everything before us, it was the day we almost drowned.

Okay, my apologies to Mr. Dickens but, tell me, who among you could have resisted, eh? -smile-

These, now lovely, kittens and their mother, were almost drowned a week ago Sunday. Red, our neighbor, called to ask if we would take the little family and allow them to live in the barn. Yep, bring 'em on, I told him and he loaded them into their cat carrier, put their litter box in the back of the truck bed as well and proceeded to come to the farm. He didn't realize how full of water was the truck bed; we'd had rain for about two weeks straight and if trucks aren't parked on an incline, the water collects and doesn't drain out.
Red only lives about a mile away and by the time he'd arrive, the water had sloshed into the carrier and Old Yeller and her two kittens were a soaked, sodden, clayey Mess! I was headed to church and stopped at the barn to make sure everyone was settled in when I saw how dreadful everyone looked. I wrapped the kittens in towels and took them to the house where I fed them warmed milk with an eyedropper and then gave them a warm bath. I wrapped them up in dry towels and then used the hair dryer, set on low, to dry them and warm them further. When I'd finished their baths, there were enough towels for a small load of laundry!

On Monday I went to the barn to bring Mother back to the house where she got the same royal treatment. She is a dear thing, never once offered to bite or growl or hiss. I used a five gallon bucket, two third's filled with warm water and placed her so she could hold on to the side with her front two paws. She had a sturdy grip and suffered her bath with a great deal of dignity and grace and then was wrapped in a warm town for toweling dry.

The kittens have been given two or three baths, each, and the mother has been given one bath. They are looking much better now than when they arrived and loving how they have been rescued. Tuna in water, twice a day, kitten chow, fresh water, a portion of half 'n half each day...not a bad life for what started out so dreadfully.

If the day is sunny and warm, I take them to the yard for play time which they enjoy. They are kittens and if there's anything so fearless and unafraid as a kitten, I've yet to meet the animal.

The little family is ensconced in the parlor...the very same one that Still Needs Repair from the flooding back in December 2008! At least they can't do very much's already a wreck but I Am Very Hopeful work shall begin this weekend and the little family will be moved to the granary to live. They will be fed and watered everyday, have wool fleeces to sleep upon and, eventually, be spayed and given vaccinations. Some humans should live so good.

This little family isn't the only new life we have on the farm but that story will be continued another day. Right now, I've got to get this posted so I can get a morning snack ready for others.

Blessings ~ life ~ baths ~ warm towels ~ a sunny day ~ good food ~ enough loving on to make a body forget ~

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Time Is Fleeting - Wear Purple Now!

"Time is fleeting and I'm not waiting to wear purple
Or red or kiwi or orange or magenta or any other color
I'll spend my time sitting under the sunflowers
while the mares snuffle my hair and kittens play in my lap
Today I'll take my knitting to the pasture
and chance a wet bottom when I sit on the ground
Samuel and Carly will nuzzle my pockets for treats of corn
while the other sheep bleat at their boldness

My needles will lie quietly as I watch birds float on unseen columns of wind
The barn swallows and goldfinches and robins and even the buzzards will
bring me joy on their outstretched wings

Tonight at midnight, the dogs and I will walk in the pasture
I'll whisper secrets to the horses and sheep
I'll look for falling stars and the big and little dipper
and will nail Orion's belt with the north star

I'll drink good wine and strong beer and sweet water
I'll eat chocolate for breakfast and pastry for lunch
mix cream in my flavored coffee and
turn up my nose at powdered milk and ill mannered people

Tomorrow I'll give compliments to perfect strangers
and speak to people on the street just
to watch their reactions as I grin at my silly self
I've worn hats for over thirty years and see no need to stop
I'll not waste happiness on tomorrow but spend it willy nilly today
Time is fleeting and I'm wearing purple now"

I wrote this in 2004, in part, a year memorable for the numbers of family, friends and acquaintances we lost to the grim reaper. The sentiment is still the same; don't expect to find joy, take it with you on your travels. Take it with you on this journey called life. There's never a better time than NOW to celebrate being alive, to celebrate what you do have and not what you don't. Make time for yourself, for your friends, for your family, for all your loved ones.

Tempus Fugit. Don't allow a precious moment escape you.

Blessings ~ memories ~ hats ~ time ~ your one wonderful life! ~

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cove LIfe

Spring in the Cove is just as beautiful as any other time of the year and I can spend hours sitting in the front yard, watching birds, sheep, horses, dogs and cats. I have several bird books but never seem to remember to bring them outside. Perhaps I don't want to remember to bring them because then it makes a pleasantry seem more of a job.

Red wing blackbird - check!
Goldfinch - check!
Barn Swallow - check~

For me, it's enough to watch the antics of the wild things, listen to them talk to each other and, in the case of the horses and sheep, sometimes come to the fence to tell me about their day or, most likely to inquire after a treat. The only numbers I want to count are my sheep and horses and then only to make sure everyone is on all fours, healthy and grazing.

Gold finches abound and look like aspen leaves as they swirl and tumble catching themselves before hitting earth only to hurl upwards again in one accord.

Red wing black bird sitting on the fence post - there are thousands of red wing blackbirds in our valley and there have been hundreds in our yard. I love to watch them flow on the air as they move hither and thither as if drawn by an unseen cord. It amazes me they never crash into each other but are always able to move as one. I think there's a lesson there for us Christians if we would have 'eyes to see and ears to hear'.
This blue bird rests near the blue bird box. This is the same blue bird box where the sparrows were fighting, I think, to get in and steal the blue bird eggs. The poor blue birds have a time of it from the sparrows and I don't know what to do or, indeed, if I should do anything at all. I'd like to put up a few dozen blue bird boxes as I love to watch them. They are such homebodies and that pleases me greatly.

This rotten feller is the bane of my existence, at least in the pastures. They may look cuddly and cute but their holes can mean the end of a horse, cow or sheep who is unfortunate enough to step into their hole and break a leg. If that happens, the animal has to be put down and I'd far, far rather lose a ground hog than a beautiful horse or sheep. Early morning, while the fog still hangs over the pastures, the sheep graze in the same field as the horses. This time of day is magic, especially with the fog and I love waking early enough to catch either fog or sunrise, both are beautiful and well worth losing the few minutes of sleep.

Blessings ~ early morning ~ birds ~ sheep ~ the Cove ~ wild things ~ peaceful dreams ~

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blog Gal!

What a Wonderful Surprise!Christine Gonzalez, in Michigan, sent this delightful Blog Gal. Can you see the little clothespin body? The scrap of lace apron over the flower print dress? Raffia hair with blue hair ties, a bouquet of red flowers and a beaming smile all made my day!

The accompanying poem is by Helen Steiner Rice and called Friendship's Flower

"Life is like a garden and
friendship like a flower
that Blooms and Grows in
beauty with the Sunshine
and the shower

And lovely are the blossoms that are tended
with great care by those
who work unselfishly To
make the place more fair

And like the garden
blossoms, friendships
flower grows more sweet,
when watched and tended
carefully by those we know
and meet

And if the seed of friendship
is planted deep and true
and watched with

Friendships flower will
bloom for you"

Christine, you're incredible! This gift came Out of The Blue and absolutely stunned me with its beauty of both hand crafted love and poetry. Thank You, a thousand times Thank You! What a great ministry and what a great blessing to be on the receiving end of your ministry. Thank you.

Please, tell me more so others can learn of you and your ministry.

Blessings ~ Christine ~ Blog Gal ~ Helen Steiner Rice ~ poetry ~ unexpected, lovely gifts ~

Monday, May 18, 2009

Whitetop Mountain Ramp Festival

On the way to Whitetop Mountain two friends taking in the afternoon sun while another friend, below, watches peacefully.
Spring means growing things, things that my grand's ate to stave off winter's chill, to bolster their immune system and also just because they tasted so dang good! Branch lettuce, also called cress, dandelion greens, burdock greens, polk salad to name a few and, one of my favorites - ramps.

Ramps are a member of the onion, leek, garlic family only taste stronger and smell a lot louder. There's no in-between, a body either likes 'em or hates 'em. I loves 'em! Especially when friend with potatoes, onions, garlic and olive oil. HEY! There's got to be some additional healthful benefits, eh? They are best eaten when they have just first pushed their little heads out of the earth, best when spring is still new and the heat of summer isn't threatening.

All over the southern Appalachia's there are Ramp Festivals; one of my favorites is the Whitetop Mountain Ramp Festival on the Rooftop of Virginia. It's only 108 miles away, at the top of Whitetop Mountain the third highest mountain in VA at 5520 feet but it takes me close to two and a half hours to get there. For more than half the distance, the roads are two lane with more twists, turns, curves, S curves, switchbacks and the like to give a snake motion sickness. Sometimes there are guardrails. A large part of the drive travels along the stream that's tumbling down the mountain and, while it's beeeyouutifulll, my mind thinks 'snakes'. No, I can't say I'm afraid of snakes but I do like to give them a wiiiiddddeeee berth, especially the copperheads and the rattlers. I tend to let the garden snakes and black snakes live in peace, as long as they do likewise by me, but I don't hold with poisonous snakes. I figure they crawl on their belly for a reason and who am I to question God?

While I'm on the topic of the Appalachia's there's a question that's been bothering me for years. Probably all my life, really. Where are the Appalachia's? I've always thought they were those mountains that were not the Blue Ridge but in researching, I find I'm, somewhat, right. Apparently, there's a geological distinction. Virginia Places says the Blue Ridge are older, far older, than the Appalachian Plateau. The Blue Ridge core rocks are billion year old igneous rocks and the Plateau is far younger. Well, maybe or maybe not, but I do know God has made the simple things to counfound the wise and the beauty is there for all of us.

Gaynelle and Jeanne were my company yesterday and I only hope they had as good a time as I. Jeanne is a city gal but has lived in a small town for a number of years, she's also a musician as are her menfolk. I knew she'd enjoy the music. Gaynelle is a country gal and mountain people are her people so I knew she'd be okay. And, me? I'm happy with all of it. These are my people, these old worn down smooth mountains are my mountains and I'm never happier than when I'm home in the hills. Give me some knitting or other handwork and I can sit and listen to folks tell tales for hours! To sit and watch mountain people play music and dance...God's in His heaven and all's right with my world. It's a sermon just to be in attendance, a prayer to simply watch and rejoice.

The Whitetop Mountain Ramp Festival is a benefit for the volunteer rescue squad and fire department and the day's activities include eating, mountain music and clogging. They were selling a half chicken -breast, wing, leg- and potatoes fried with ramps, green beans that tasted like they came from some Grandma's pantry, a roll and ice tea for $6. At the day's end they sold the chickens for $2 so folks could take supper home with them.

According to Southern Food, the ramp may also be called a wild leek although I've never heard it called that. It is native to North America and the name is supposed to come from "ramson" or "rams", from an Elizabethan dialect. John Mariani, author of The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink" says the word was first in English print in 1530 but was used earlier by southern Appalachian folks.

I do know the Elizabethan dialect is still in existence in the southern Appalachia's. Dave and I have been to funerals, back in the hills and hollows, where it took three verses of Amazing Grace being sung before I recognized the song! The group of five men were singing acapella and it was beautiful but I'm far enough removed from the dialect that it took me a while to recognize the tune.

The youngsters started the ramp eating contest; first prize was $35 and a LARGE bottle of Scope mouthwash, second prize was $25 and a LARGE bottle of Scope mouthwash and third prize was $15 and a LARGE bottle of Scope mouthwash. Come to think of it, a large bottle of Scope mouthwash might have been too small! -smile-This AAAdorable lad was shoveling ramps down as fast as he could; ramp in one hand, water bottle in the other. They only had to eat the white part and could lay aside the green top. For this small gift, let us now give thanks.Volunteers make the world go 'round and this darling girl was dishing up ice cream. Yep, it was COLD but it's never too cold for ice cream! At least this year, we didn't have rain or snow.

This dear woman was, easily, the oldest person clogging. While I didn't get her name, someone told me she has more than 90 years under her feet and seemed plenty able to keep up with National Heritage Award recipient Wayne Henderson. He's a well known name in bluegrass music for not only playing but making instruments. He does a lot to promote mountain music, he has a music festival and this year is giving away $15,000 in prize money as well as one of his hand crafted guitars.

Some high stepping going on!
The word clog comes from a Gaelic word meaning time and this type of dancing has been done in the southern Appalachia's since the early 1700's. Or earlier, who really knows?

Here, a fine group of cloggers takes to the stage; please note the men have on their best bibs with pressed white shirt while the women look fine in their dark skirts and white blouses. All footwear have metal tapes to enhance the sound of the dancer's feet as they strike the stage.

There were several bands and a fine group of cloggers but my hearing isn't what it used to be nor did I write down what I thought I heard so you'll have to take my word for it all.

Ages ranged from young to youngish; clogging keeps the body limber, the blood pumping and smiles on everyone's faces! It's a combination of jigs from the Irish and Scots, English clogging, African high steps and a stomp attributed to native Americans. It's fun, lively, energetic and keeps the weight off and is a bit more structured than flatfooting. Whatever you call it, it's still mountain dancing but for more information, go to Bill Richardson and read his great article about clogging, flatfooting, 2-step and other mountain dances.

The cloggers line up to take a bow and then, still dancing, they exit the stage. The little gal on the far left is also an accomplished singer and guitar picker; I've heard she plays fiddle as well.
As we left Whitetop Mountain, I took this photo and it shows a portion of the Appalachian Plateau. Between the green and the clouds the Plateau stretches as far as the eye can see, as much as the heart can hold.

Blessings ~ mountain people ~ mountain music ~ mountain food ~ the Appalachia's ~ the Blue Ridge ~ cloggers ~ volunteers ~ ramps! ~

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sabbath Keeping

'Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, honor one another above yourselves.'
Romans 12:10

' your neighbor as yourself.' Matthew 19:19

'Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief
And not seek for kind relief!'

William Blake"What is meant by our neighbor we cannot doubt, it is every one with whom, we are brought into contact. First of all, he is literally our neighbor who is next to us in our own family and household, husband to wife, wife to husband, parent to child, brother to sister, master to servant, servant to master. Then it is he who is close to us in our own neighborhood, in our own town, in our own parish, in our own street. With these all true charity begins. To love and be kind to these is the very beginning of all true religion. But, besides these, as our Lord teaches, it is every one who is thrown across our path by the changes and chances of life; he or she, whomever it be, whom we have any means of helping-the unfortunate stranger whom we may meet in traveling, the deserted friend whom no one else cares to look after." ~A. P. Stanley~

Blessings ~ opportunities ~ friends ~ neighbors ~ family ~ wise men and women ~ charity ~

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Toil's Sweet Content

The Man of Questions paused and stood
Before the Man of Toil,
And asked, "Are you content, my man,
To dig here in the soil?
Do you not yearn for wealth and fame,
And this wide world to see?"
The Man of Toil still stirred the soil
And answered, "No, sir-ee!"

"Do you not yearn," the Questioner asked,
"To pluck life's higher fruits?"
"Oh, yes," said he, "I'd like, maybe,
Another pair of boots."
"And wouldn't you like a coat to match,
And pantaloons and a hat;
And wouldn't you like to dress as well
As your neighbor Jacob Pratt?"
"Why, I'd have duds as good as Jake,"
The Man of Toil replied;
"Why, I'd have clo'es as good as those
'Fore I'd be satisfied."

"But if Jake ran for selectman
And nothing could defeat him,
How would it do, then, just for you
To step right in and beat him?"
"First-class idee," the Man of Toil
Responded with delight;
"I think I'd make mince-meat of Jake
'Fore we got through the fight."

"And then you'd settle down content?"
"Content? Of Course! I swan!
A man's a hog who asks for more
When he's a sillickman."
"But, sir, our Congress is corrupt
And needs a renovation;
Wouldn't you consent in such event
To take the nomination?"
"Oh yes I'd take the job," said he.
The Questioner arched his eyes,
"Then don't you think the presidency
Would be about your size?
Now after Congress had been cleansed
Beyond a shade of doubt
I think you'd go--you would, I know--
And clean the White House out."

"I'd take the job and do it brown,"
The Man of Toil replied;
"But you hoe corn from morn till night
And still are satisfied."
"Me satisfied! I guess that you
Don't know me," he began--
"Oh, yes, I do, I well know you
You are the Average Man."
Sam Walter Foss wrote this and it's as appropriate now as then. Daddy has always said about some folks, "They are going to set the world on fire just as soon as they find their box of matches!" You know people like that, surely. I do and, in my younger days, was probably one. I've calmed down now and have realized I'm simply one of a great many who are average. I'm content to shine in a narrow universe, to "be a friend to man in a house by the side of the road", to encourage as opportunity presents itself, to "come when called", to serve God in small, but faithful, ways.

Blessings ~ average men and women who are faithful ~ poetry ~ Daddy ~

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The House by the Side of the Road

Sam Walter Foss wrote this delightful poem, as well as many others that speak to the soul. Aunt Esther has this poem hanging in her house and can recite it when bidden. It's a simple, yet excellent, sentiment and one, I believe, for which we should all strive.

The House by the Side of the Road

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
in the peace of their self content;
There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart,
in a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran; -
But Let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by -
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban; -
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life.
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears -
Both parts of an infinite plan: -
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice,
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by -
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish--so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Blessings ~ houses by the side of the road ~ friends ~ Aunt Esther ~ the sky above~ the earth below ~ each and every one of us ~

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blackberry Winter

I never, ever tire of looking down the valley, towards the head of the Cove; in late afternoon and early evening the light is breathtaking. On maps,the Cove is called Ward's Cove because the Ward family first settled the head of the valley. They weren't the first white settlers here, that title belongs to the Bowen's, my husbands' clan. They arrived from Wales and, eventually, made their way to the Cove in the mid 1700's. Maiden Spring, the largest body of water flowing out of the Cove was named by Rees Bowen. It's said he was on a hunting expedition and asleep by the spring when he awoke and saw a maiden deer; thus the name.

It's Blackberry Winter in the Cove and right on schedule. Always, around 10 May we get cold, wet, rainy weather; sometimes we even have snow. What ever the weather is Spring Equinox, that's what we'll get around 10 May. I don't think I've ever know it to be bright, sunny, warm but always a last reminder of winter just to keep us in shape.

In the Cove, we've had frost every month save August...or was it July? I can't remember but it was one or the other. It, almost, feels like we should have frost this week. The temps have been quite chilly and great for sleeping.

A young woman, age 40, passed away in the community and her wake and burial was today. I attend the wake, but not the funeral, and it was good to see how many people were able to be there to support the family. Death is always hard but when it's a younger person, it's especially difficult.

On the way home, I drove down Cove Road, into the head of the Cove just to listen to bird song and enjoy God's creation. This moss covered rock is so beautiful and everything is so lush and green due to the great amounts of rain we've had. We've had rain for 15 or 16 days now and the Earth is just blossoming!

These beautiful flowers...can't remember the name so, please, help if you know...are going to be dug up and brought to the house and re-planted. There were several patches where I found these but I'll only dig up a small patch to be re-located. There's no need to be hoggish.

Neighbor Bill has a pasture behind us that also stretches down the valley. Normally, he keeps cattle on this pasture and it's always a beautiful site watching the cattle as they graze. During winter and colder months, watching the fellers feed out hay is interesting and, during calving, it's always fun to watch as they chase down calves for tagging. Calves are crafty creatures and even when a day old are able to, quickly outrun a man. I've watched as the men would chase down a calf only to be tossed aside or, if the cow is able to intervene, the man has to abandon the job and run for his life. Farming is a Very Dangerous Business so, if you eat a meal today, Thank a Farmer. Oh, and if you're reading this...Thank a Coal Miner. You and I are indebted to both.

My horses are grazing in the pasture next to the sun room and the walnut tree is lovely as it's just leafing out. Dandy Man, on the far right, turns to watch as I take photos. He's my "in my pocket horse" and he watches to see where I am and what I'm doing and, I believe, he loves me as much as he loves his own mother.

The skies tell the story - cold, rainy, windy. We may have warmer, sunnier weather later this week but for today, it's Blackberry Winter.

Blessings ~ today ~ the Cove ~ wildflowers ~ my horses ~ rain ~

Monday, May 11, 2009

National Apron Day

Of course there's a National Apron Day! Ahem. You DO have an apron, right? Some folks may think aprons are silly but for those of us who wear them, we know they are as necessary a tool as the stove to the kitchen. I've been collecting and wearing aprons for decades. I well remember Grandmother Hattie Gaye Hamrick Bennett wearing her apron, morning to late night. She was never without her apron and it was always the pinafore kind. None of those silly little half aprons for her! She kept home on a homestead farm in Webster County, WV, was born in the late 1800's and knew a woman was only as good as the work her two hands produced.

You see, that was back in the time when survival, quite literally Survival, depended upon knowing how to fix a fire in the cook stove, butcher a hog or chicken, put up food the hard way - by canning on the wood stove and a slew of other tasks that were, simply, hard work. Clothes were washed on a scrub board or, later Glory Hallelujah! in a wringer washer. Sheep were kept for wool to be spun into yarn to be woven into cloth; cows were kept to raise a calf for meat and then to milk for cream, milk, butter and buttermilk; hogs were kept for slaughter and to have hams, bacon, middlins and such in the winter and chickens for pot, chicks and eggs.

Many the time I've watched Grandmother or Aunt Bonnie catch a chicken, wring its neck off and toss it to the ground while they swept up another. Or, if the chicken was near the chopping block, they would catch it up, place its head on the block and hold it while, with their other hand, they would use the ax to cut off the head. Watching a headless chicken run around while it bleeds out is an unusual sight, indeed!

I don't rightly recall Aunt Bonnie wearing aprons, I need to call Aunt Esther and ask her. Come to think of it, I don't recall Aunt Esther wearing aprons either but I do have an old Brownie photo of Grandmother and she's in her apron, sitting on the front porch with Granddaddy. A million dollars couldn't buy that photo!

This apron was purchased in Alaska when Dave and I visited last September. It's a great apron, very useful - the bodice is of heavy duty cotton with a fishing print while the bottom is a towel. The neck has a velcro piece so it can be, somewhat, adjusted and the ties go 'round the waist. I use this apron when I've got heavy duty work - making apple butter in the kettle outside, gardening or dyeing wool. It's a great apron...but I've already mentioned that, eh? -smile-

The Apronista is having a nice little contest to celebrate National Apron Day and I've decided to play along. I think I have only one apron that doesn't look well loved nor well worn. It could be because that's the one I was given as a gift this past November or because I've yet to wear it. It's so lovely and I'm not one who can wear an apron for looks alone. I wear aprons because they are Useful with a capital U. They are used for wiping hands, wiping sweat from my brow, gathering veggies or fruit, carrying a kitten, wiping a dogs' paw, as pockets when I have none on my dress or pants, carrying the mail or flowers and yes, even in the kitchen to retrieve something from the oven or stove. Aprons have myriad uses and each day brings another use.

This is the gift apron. Someone at the nursing home made a few hand embroidered things for their fund raiser and this apron was bought by someone who knows me fairly well. She knows I have a "thing" for aprons and had admired this one. At the end of the day, she surprised me with it and it's a gift I cherish. I'd probably wear it at Christmas, after the work was done, so I could look nice while carrying dishes from stove to table.

This is a close-up of the hand embroidered work at the hem. Absolutely Lovely!I've had this apron for decades, probably forty years or so. It's so cute...One cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs...and all hand embroidered. It's a half apron.

This is one of the first aprons I ever bought and my, then, boyfriend didn't think it so funny. It says "A fool and his money are some party"...I thought it a cute play on words even if he didn't.

So, there you have it. Some of my aprons that see daily use. I've several dozen more that are vintage and well loved well worn that I'll show you later. I enjoy looking at them, wondering about who used them for what purpose. Some are old shirts made into useful aprons with just a bit of life left.

Just like us, eh? A bit old but still useful -smile-.

Blessings ~ aprons ~ vintage ~ family ~ fun ~ heritage ~

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sabbath Keeping

The Hunt for the Unicorn Tapestries ~

Are you familiar with the Unicorn Tapestries? Some believe unicorns to be an animal of myth and mystery, a fable if you will. Not I. I believe unicorns existed until man hunted them out of existence just as other species have been hunted out of existence. I know many people who don't believe in them just as they don't believe our beloved companion animals and pets won't be in heaven with us.O ye of little faith! If one chooses to believe our beloved companion animals and pets won't be in heaven with them...they are correct. Their faith won't be rewarded. But for those who believe, what a day, glorious day, that will be when we, not only, see Christ but also our four legged friends!

Can you tell I'm a believer? -smile- Faith, as a child has, I have in abundance.

The Unicorn Tapestries are, generally, considered to be the finest surviving set of medieval tapestries in the world and the seven tapestries tell the story of a unicorn hunt. The Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries, as they are correctly known, are hanging at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City at The Cloisters and are believed to have been woven between 1495 and 1515 in the Netherlands. In 1680 they were noted as part of the inventory of belongings of French Duke Francoise VI de La Rouchefoucauld. In 1922, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased some of the tapestries and in 1938 the Cloisters opened with the tapestries gifted to the museum.

The tapestries are woven in wool, metallic threads and silk and the vibrant colors were produced with just three plant dyes - weld for yellow, madder for red and woad for blue. Can you imagine?!! THREE dye plants! Only three! Yet those three, and combinations thereof, are responsible for these tapestries that defy description.

The Unicorn Tapestries are now being recreated at Stirling Castle, Scotland. The project began in 2002, is expected to be completed in 2014 and tapestries one, four and seven are completed. One of three weavers works every day, save Christmas and perhaps one or two other days on the Unicorn Tapestries. This is an amazing task especially when one considers there are only three primary weavers. Surely in medieval times there would have been dozens of weavers but we'll never truly know.

Thimbleanna wrote about her visit to Stirling Castle and then The Cloisters where she saw both the original and the recreated tapestries. What a wonderful have seen both! Please visit her and read about her accounting as well as see a lot of beautiful photographs.

While extremely beautiful, I find the tapestries sad. The Bible speaks of unicorns, several times, and one time is Job 39:9-12 "Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labor to him? Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?"

Do you think God created the unicorn simply because it gave His eyes rest when He gazed upon His creation? Can it be God created something simply for beauty? I think that's possible just as I believe God has ways that are higher than our ways, wiser than our ways. Isaiah 55:8-9 writes, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Was the unicorn hunted out of existence simply because it was too beautiful for our eyes? Could we not gaze upon it and love it simply because it was pure, beautiful and, perhaps, unattainable? We had to kill it so that no one would ever have it and in it's end was our own, second, loss of innocence.

It's said the unicorn is the symbol of wayward, lost, foundling and stray animals. Thistle Cove Farm has a unicorn flying over the farm. Our human eyes can't see it but the animals know it's here; just ask the rescued animals who have found shelter and sanctuary here, they know it's true. My eyes rest on their beauty and I thank God.

Blessings ~ The Hunt for the Unicorn Tapestries ~ weavers ~ unicorns ~ God's ways and thoughts ~ a heaven filled with beloved companion animals, pets and loved ones ~

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Ag Day

It's been raining and raining and raining and raining and...remember the old Andy Griffith comedic routine? It's been a wet spring and the grass and pastures are green with the added dash of yellow that signifies new growth. In a word, beautiful but this is Day Number Fourteen of rain!

Today was Agriculture Day at Thompson Valley Fire and EMS Center. A while back, one of the area farmers had a tractor fire and wasn't prepared with fire extinguisher, cell phone, walkie-talkie or even near to a house where he could go for help. All he could do was climb down off his tractor and watch as it burned.

Here we are in neighbor Bill's barn lot as we all prepare to drive up the valley. In the close left corner is Red, driving our tractor. Dave has a business meeting and couldn't take part in the fun today; he missed a really good time!

The newer tractors are able to travel at a faster rate of speed than the older models. I drove "cow's tail" so traffic coming up on us knew there was a reason for going slow. Safety first, last and always! The rest of the tractors are, just barely, visible in the foreground while one of the older tractors travels a bit more slowly.

Wal-Mart is a good community neighbor, to rural folks anyway, and they gave $1,000.00 for the express purpose of purchasing and installing fire extinguishers on tractors and other farm vehicles. Other corporations came as well as extension representatives and it was a great day. The folks at the Thompson Valley Volunteer Fire & EMS Squad wrote the grant and today the "Cove Folks" drove in a caravan to be a part of the event. That meant a ten mile drive for us so Dave and Red, a neighbor, decided it was too far for me to drive. Red drove our tractor and I drove our Polaris Ranger. Several businesses donated prizes and I took a pan of homemade shortbread. I can't compete with free farm equipment but I've yet to see a man who doesn't enjoy something home baked -smile-. We also had lunch, thanks to the Farm Bureau women and other community women then, after lunch, got busy with fire extinguisher installation.

This group of men represents only a small number of the fifty or so tractors driven to the head of the valley. All of these tractors represent three farms and four out of the seven are owned by one farm; the rest of us own one tractor each. I told the men I had a great idea for a fund raiser calendar. In the same vein as "Calendar Girls" we should do a nekkid men with their tractors calendar to raise money for the community. One of the guys asked me if it would sell. I told him I thought it would probably sell really well in prison. They laughed and said they would pass the hat instead.

I thought a fire extinguisher worked by smothering a fire but I'm wrong. Mike Bennett, no relation, is the Thompson Valley Volunteer Fire Chief and told us there are three things necessary for a fire - heat, oxygen, fuel and if one of those is removed, the fire is extinguished. When using a fire extinguisher, he told us, "remember PASS - Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire from about eight feet away, Squeeze, Sweep left to right, right to left."

Elizabeth, Mike's wife, told us one of the most important places to have a fire extinguisher is in the bedroom. Of course, sly comments and grins ensued but she hastened to explain, "God forbid but you could have to fight your way out of a house fire during the wee hours."

O MY GOSH! I never thought of that; I never even imagined it! While I do have fire extinguishers in the kitchen and in the barn, I have none in the bedroom but that will be rectified in the coming week; it will become a permanent part of my "kit" - flashlight, matches and candles. Thanks, Elizabeth!

This little feller is Mike and Elizabeth's nephew and shows the correct and safe way to dress when driving an all terrain vehicle. It's important to install safety guidelines at an early age; we want our children to grow up to be old farmers one day.Daniel, Mike and Elizabeth's son-in-law, installs a fire extinguisher on my Polaris Ranger. The grant was for any farm use vehicle and my Ranger certainly qualifies. And, yes, the Ranger proved, once again, to be a Man Magnet although several women gave it the big eye as well. It's a good little vehicle, carries more than I can load, is safe and looks's a good thing indeed and now it's a safer vehicle.This little tyke is Dr. Anne's son. Dr. Anne, you may remember, is our vet and her son is a FIT...Farmer In Training. Henry, his Daddy is a farmer and raises cattle and sheep. This little feller has it all going on...bib overalls and green and yellow John Deere tractor which, as anyone knows, is The Only Color Tractor to own! Just ask any JD owner -smile-.

Mike Bennett, Thompson Valley Volunteer Fire Chief, and Arthur, aka Red, Marrs, Cove Volunteer Fire Chief install a fire extinguisher on my John Deere tractor. Thompson Valley is ten miles up the road and the Cove is where we live at Thistle Cove Farm.

Headed home in early afternoon, satisfied we've done what we could to prepare ourselves for a fire emergency. This program is a gift to the community and will benefit the lives of many. The information learned, the fire extinguishers given and installed will, hopefully, never be used but they are there if ever needed. THANKS Thompson Valley Fire and EMS, Wal-Mart at Pounding Mill and the many others who gave time, prizes and money to make this event happen and successful!

Blessings ~ community ~ corporate neighbors ~ fire and rescue volunteers ~ a beautiful day ~

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Fiber Arts Carnival

For the longest time, I've had nothing on the knitting needles. I've been in a bad place with my knitting and just couldn't find the wherewithall to either start nor finish one of the many UFO's lying about. For those who don't know, UFO means unfinished object and I've several that have been on the needles long enough to have their own zip code.

This week I visited Millie, Master Knitter Friend, in Columbia, SC. She always knits like there's going to be a world shortage of yarn; she always has something on her needles and it's always beautiful and, usually, tough to knit. She went to Stitches last month and took a class with Susanna on Brohus knitting. I am in AWE, I tell you! Millie has even knitted a Most Beautiful Sweater with steeks! Here, I'm giving you the Kids Knit info page for steeks because I figure if they can explain it so a child can understand, I may, possibly, have a small glimmer of hope. HA! BTW, the Kids Knit steeks info page is "only" seven pages long so, be prepared, there's lots to learn.

Millie always encourages me to knit, sometimes to learn something new and is always gracious with her knowledge, time, patience. Even so, I've shocked her before when she was attempting to teach me how to knit socks. Apparently, I've "un-invented"...get the Elizabeth Zimmerman reference, eh?...a way to knit socks inside out and backwards. Trust me, I didn't know what I was doing and the lone sock has since been put into the back of a drawer somewhere. I trust my nephews will run across it when I'm long gone and they are weeding their way through this maze of a farmhouse with steamer trunk in every room. I keep thinking I'll find someone who has only one foot and would like a wool sock for their remaining foot but, thus far, no joy there.

Millie helped...ahem, meaning she actually cast on the start of this moiebus shrug shawl. It's a lovely pinky ruby purply wool acrylic blend yarn that, when finished, should sit on the shoulders, "shrugging" one in a warm hug. This is actually yarn that is to go to the Russian orphanage but in a finished state not as mere yarn. I wanted to send something to the woman who runs the school and hope she finds this acceptable.

The Komi Kids Yarn Project is one I started in 2004 and I'll tell you about it in another post. For now, gaze at the beauty that's, eventually, to be a warm hug. Dave took me to the eye doctor yesterday as I thought I'd scratched the cornea of my right eye. It's been bothering me for several days but not enough, really, to be worried about. Until Wednesday and then I got worried. It turns out I've several, more than a dozen, eyelashes growing into my eye ball and the doctor had to pull, cut and shave them so they eye would be pain free. Let me tell takes GREAT faith to sit there, eyeball wide open, still as a mouse while the doctor comes at you with sharp instruments. The eyelashes were white, blonde, gray or something like that so they were difficult for me to see when I was peering in the mirror. I'm told this will reoccur so welcome to old age -smile-.

While in Bluefield, we went to Tuesday Morning and I found this lovely Araucania yarn. Again, it's in a purple ruby color and is a bulky blend of 70% Merino 20% alpaca 10% silk. AWWWWWW, OOHHHHH, touchy feely, moaning noises, sighs, sounds of joy and bliss. I bought all they had, a bit over 600 yards and I want to make something for me. Any ideas?

Also found this delish cashmere yarn by Elsebeth Lavold and it's incredible! There are three small hanks but enough, when combined with the tobacco colored yarn of same name and content, to make lovely hand warmers. Oh goodness, won't they feel like heaven when cold weather returns?

It would appear my knitting slump is over and just in time for warm and hot weather. Am I good or WHAT!? -smile- My timing seems to be a bit off but as long as I'm knitting it's okay. I've missed having yarn running through my fingers and as much as I adore quilting, it's just not quite the same as wool or other animal fiber.

Blessings ~ Millie ~ knitting ~ cashmere ~ wool ~ alpaca ~ silk ~

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Almost Full Moon

Life is what happens when we're busy living but when we slow down...ahh, we open ourselves to the magic and mystery that is older than time. The magic and mystery that is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. That time before everything else, when His creation was new, before we humans had begun to rid ourselves of that which we did not understand.

From our back porch the, almost, full moon rises over the wild cherry tree. You can see the fog rolling across the mountains, drifting into the valley, wafting across the pastures. The glint on the right hand side is from the celler roof as the moon light floods to my eye.
Here, from the sun room porch, the walnut tree in the foreground with the moon starting her glide across the valley and sky; the mountains show the fog beginning her descent. This is a magical time of night, full of sounds and whispers of small animals and the horses in the pasture next to the sun porch snuffling their pleasure at being a part of it all. We're not sure but we think we heard faeries floating and sighing on the breeze as the fog rolled over the mountain. Certainly we didn't hear the nightingale nor the coyotes; this time is far too mystical and the animals and birds know not to disturb the mystery. All hold their breath as if waiting for the Son to whisper, "this is my Father's creation and all is well."

Blessings ~ fog ~ night ~ moon light ~ breeze ~ whispers ~ mystery ~
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