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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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Last of Oct and DST - Hurrah!

~ The view from my bedroom window, for a couple of weeks at least ~

Anyone remember that old Emmy Lou Harris song, Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town? Great song and singer; she's got the gift of harmony and I can't carry a tune in a bucket. It's just not fair. As to the above photo, it's what I see, for a couple of weeks, when I look out my bedroom window. Beautiful, eh?

We're closer to a full moon than a quarter but I really like this photo, below. Besides, it's cold and rainy outside; I daresay I can even see the moon tonight so this will do.

~ Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town ~

It's the last evening of October and November is creeping near. The weather is cold, rainy and windy and the front gate is locked along with all the barns, outbuildings and gates. The cats are inside and, at 8:12 p.m., I'm already looking, with great fondness, to my bed. Tonight we lose daylight saving time and I begin the long crawl back to normal, meaning Real Time. Sun Time. God's Time, the way He intended. I know some folks who love DST, would love to have it year 'round. I'm not one of 'em. I'm fairly flexible on some things but not this. I find it incredulous man would consider he knows better than God. Ole Ben Franklin had some good ideas but DST isn't one of 'em. Not imo.

 ~ Wagon wheel framing Carly ~
Recently, the days have started foggy and then cleared up. Mostly, the sheep are closer to the house with Carly being the one who always greets me, always wants to know how I'm doing, if I've any treats. She's a rare, primitive breed Shetland who is gentled and domestic with a fondness for humans, at least a fondness for me. She tolerates the dogs because she knows they come with the territory but doesn't brook any nonsense from them. Carly has two sons, Samuel and Jacob, both are Shetland x Romney and almost as gentle as she. She's raised them well, has always been a good mother and is now retired. She has nothing more to do than give sheep kisses and watch for me. It's enough, she's earned her rest.

~ Dog pose for PLAY! ~

Anyone who knows dogs, knows this pose; Sadie wants to PLAY! Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent, on the other side of the gate, caught this glimpse of Sadie and re-thought his position. He loves playing with Sadie but likes it better in the yard; outside the yard, there's smells to investigate, places to go, things to do. Sam is a dog's dog; Sadie is still, mostly, puppy; funny that, considering they are about the same age, give or take a week or two.

Abbie and Sam are sniffing wind; Abbie likes to test the wind with her eyes shut and that tickles me. She's a dog who put her whole being into what she does, a typical terror as Jacks are known around here. Abbie has been living with us for 12 years and she was full grown when she came here to be my heartbeat; she's earned her grizzled muzzle. Sam is such a dear thing; God sends us to each other, animals and humans, humans and humans. It's only when we're open to the experience that we're ready for each other; until then, we're wandering in the dark, eyes wide shut and crying piteously about how alone we are in this cold world.

A dog has olfactory senses at about 10,000,000 to our 10,000 and it's no wonder they are the superior creature when it comes to senses. I listen to and watch my dogs closely; they teach me something everyday.

~ Abbie and Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent ~

Earlier this week, Sadie tried on her new cloak. Ridgebacks have an extremely short coat and when sleeping under blankies, as does Sadie, they have no guard hair coat. I bought this nasty colored XL pink fleece coat on sale and it's got to have a bit of cutting and sewing to fit better around the legs but Sadie seemed to like it just fine. She wasn't that crazy about getting it on but after it was on, she loved it. Sadie is seven months old, today...HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SADIE!...and she weighs eighty-one pounds. O dear. We don't think she's going to get as large as Shaddie, our first Ridge, because Shaddie weighed 110 at her fighting weight. But. At eighty-one pounds and seven months old, Sadie may well reach Shaddie's weight and then some. No, she's not fat; it's muscle. BTW, pink was not my first color choice but it was on a wonderful sale so pink is what she's wearing.

~ Pretty in Pink ~

 We wanted to run away from home today but my energy level just wasn't up to it so we stayed home. Dave napped and I tried but couldn't get my mind to slow down with my body. My old stand-by, reading, didn't help either so I went to the studio and worked. An Agatha Christie audio book kept me company as the dogs came and went and I was able to finish three fleece throws -Christmas gifts-, prepare a double size fleece quilt for hand quilting -not sure who gets this one-  start another Very Colorful quilt -for me, I think- and almost finish a shopping bag. At Joann Fabric I found half dozen shopping bags "patterns" on sale and that's how some folks are getting their Christmas a hand sewn bag. It's one that would work well for a few groceries, the library or just to keep in the car to have handy. I think I'll make and give one away in the One World One Heart event starting Jan 2010. If you're not aware of the OWOH event, it's a ton of fun although there are some mean-spirited folks who sign up and then don't follow through. Tsk. Tsk. I understand life gets in the way of living but, come on...just tell your winner you've hit a rough patch and explain the situation. Most of us are understanding of hard times; we've all been through them and the game isn't over yet.

Anyhoo. Sew Mama Sew is hosting their third annual Handmade Holidays. I missed out on the first two and am glad to have found it now even though I'll have to go to town to download tutorials because we haven't the bandwidth.A lot of my Christmas gifts are hand made and I love finding new things to make and give away; with November 1 coming at us like a freight train, it's almost past time to get in gear. What is it? Fewer than sixty days until Christmas? YIKES! Earlier tonight I committed to making my sibling's step-grandchildren a quilt for Christmas. Thank God there are only two boys each and they both like Spiderman; now to find some Spidey material.

~ Sew, Mama, Sew! Handmade Holidays ~

I'm so far behind...I need to send yarn samples to a couple of women and am also going to send them a small goodie just to say "I'm sorry. Life got in the way of living and I'm terribly late."  Like a lot of folks, I get behind and then beat up on myself because I get further and further behind, all the while, not keeping in touch until I've beat myself black and blue with remorse. I hate disappointing people and find, again, like so many folks I pile it on until I'm snowed under. Don't get me wrong. I say "no" frequently but I also am bad to volunteer myself and then bow and stumble under the weight I've made myself carry.

I've nattered away another while so time to say good-bye and head to bed. I'm taking aspirin, my drug of choice, so I'll sleep well, soundly and deeply...or is that all the same thing? I dearly love aspirin and, no, I don't use it a lot but when I do use it, it's because I NEED it. God bless the man, or woman, who gave us aspirin!

Until next time,

Blessings ~ critters, beasts and varmints ~ quilting ~ my studio ~ aspirin ~ holidays ~ view from any window ~ sun time ~

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kissed by Frost

~ the last of the cosmos, kissed by frost ~

Autumn is my favorite time of year, although, it's also the most difficult to make an adjustment to the changes in light and time. I know DST doesn't change until November 1, Sunday, 2 a.m. but the already shortened days confuse my cicadian rhythms and both body and mind suffer. Most folks I know who tend to land and/or animals are acclimated to the natural rhythms of the earth, sun and moon. We tend to sleep when it's dark; work when it's light and when those rhythms, cicadian rhythms, are disrupted, I tend to do stupid things. As soon as we turn the clocks back, this Sunday, those stupid things are sure to escalate. Unfortunately.

~ sheep weather! ~

 For example, this morning I hurried through chores so I could rush to town and take Zumba and  yoga. No problem there except the yoga instructor has family illness so that class was canceled and I came home to clean. Again, no problem except I detoured and ended up cleaning the space where we keep linens and also did a boat load of laundry. I hate going into the winter with drapes and curtains that are dusty but with more than thirty windows, most sized nine feet by three feet but some larger, in this farmhouse, that chore takes the better part of a week...and that's if I keep at it like there's a paycheck at the end.

~ Frosted Zinnia ~

At 5:00 I stopped everything, took a shower and got ready to head to town to see Justin Lookadoo. I've really been looking forward to hearing him; he comes highly recommended and some kind person or persons, unknown to me, paid to have him come to Tazewell and speak. When I arrived at the fairground the parking lot was empty, not a good sign. Long story, short: he's scheduled for next Wednesday, November 4th. Oh well. I head home and then remember...something else was scheduled for tonight and I missed that too.

~ Frosted, feathery cosmos ~

~ Frosted sedum ~

Off and on, these past couple/few weeks have been just like that...a day late and a dollar short. It's always this way in Autumn; it's always me playing catch up, body trying to adjust to the shortened day light, chasing the sun and getting my D's, vitamins, that is. I'm sleeping like it's a sickness and still can't manage to get caught up; anyone else having these problems?

~ Frost on the gate ~

We've had a couple of hard frosts and they've been beautiful! An occupational hazard of working outdoors is a frosted metal gate; there's no better way to lose some skin than to grab hold of a frozen metal gate. Remember the scene from The Christmas Story when the boy licked the street lamp? YEEWOUCH! I felt his pain; still do for that matter.

~ Maple, in front yard ~

One of the lovely things about "silence" is there's room enough to hear things that, otherwise, go unnoticed. Things like leaves falling through the branches of the maple tree. There was no wind, it was just Autumn and time for the leaves to fall. They made a rustling noise, reminding me of an old man, sitting beside the fire, work boots to the side, sighing the sighs of someone who has accomplished something that day. Something worthwhile, something to put food on the table or in the manger. Those falling leaves reminded me of someone who has done what they could to take care of what they should; to prepare for winter and the deep, silent sleep. They reminded me of my Granddaddy Bennett and how he would sit beside the fire, work boots to the side, toes wiggling in dirty socks, hand made wooden chair tilted against the wall, waiting to be called for supper.

He died when I was six but I remember him well. He was a giant, in my eyes then and now, as I remember him. He wasn't a big man; I'm probably about his size but he was a man's man and one of the richest men in West Virginia owes his start to Granddaddy and Granddaddy's hard saved money. He was that kind of man; always willing to lend a hand or a dollar, always seeing to it that folks ate or had a roof over their head or blankets on their bed. He was one of the biggest men I'll ever know and to make it even better, he was a man after God's own heart.

~ Across the road, a corn field ~

October is Harvest Moon and this month is the last possible time to gather in food for man and beast. Gardens are limping along with the occasional winter squash, the Granny Smith apple tree still has a few apples clinging to the upper branches and the corn silage has been cut. Corn silage is high in protein and easy to digest; it has a nice, yeasty smell like corn, how could I possibly know that, you wonder??? Dave thinks it stinks but I like to smell it and the cattle love eating it. The field across the house was cut last week, much to the dismay of the black bear living in the field. It was easy pickings for him, for a while, but now he's had to go back to the mountain to eat and prepare for his winter sleep.

~ Cutting corn for silage ~

Farming is risky business and ranks right up there with any other dangerous job. I've known men to be caught in farm equipment and the fortunate ones are walking around, perhaps without an arm, but they are walking around. Driving farm equipment takes skill and most men started driving when they were old enough to see over the steering wheel, with or without a stack of books under their bottoms, and with or without, a stick to poke the gas or brake pedals.

About half the time the tractor driver is looking forward, gauging the row, and about half the time, he's looking backwards to make sure the equipment is in alignment with the corn rows.
~ corn silage ~

This field took three days to cut and that was with two trucks working full time to catch, hold and carry the silage to a nearby field for storage. In the photo to the right you can see the little red volunteer fire house in the distant left and, to the distant right, the old Cove elementary school, now Community Center and where the school shots were filmed for the movie, Lassie: Best Friends Are Forever. If you've seen the video cover, that's Thistle Cove Farm in the distant background behind the boy and Lassie, although there's absolutely NO credit given to anything or anyone in Tazewell County. Perhaps you remember Clinton Bell, my shearer? He and Bullet, his Border Collie, were the behind the scenes stars because they worked the sheep. Lassie is a looker, I'll give him that...yes, Lassie is a HE, always has been...but the boy is all looks and no brains.

Wait. That's not exactly true. Lassie can act but he's not the kinda working man that gets his, paws dirty. Lassie let ole Bullet do the heavy lifting while Lassie did the styling and profiling for the camera and kiddies. Likewise, Clinton did the heavy lifting as he directed ole Bullet when the sheep were rounded up, moved, etc.

We bought this farm the year after the movie was made and people were still tiptoeing into the yard, peering in the windows. I'm not quite sure what they expected to see: Lassie seated at the table, dish of vittles in front of him...? Or, Lassie in the bed, snug as a bug in a rug...? Or, one of us in our altogethers as we stepped out of the shower...? The mind reels!

 Anyway, back to the corn silage. Cattle love it, it's inexpensive... meaning it doesn't have to be purchased like grain but it does cost in labor, equipment and fuel, and it's high in protein. But, you know most of that if you've been paying attention -smile-.

~ Someone's dream house, once upon a time ~

 This house sits behind the corn field and is where quite a few folks have set up housekeeping in days gone past. Now, it's a shadow of its former self, slowly going the way of all flesh and, probably, as full of snakes as a Christmas goose is full you know. Still and all, it's a purty sight and I love to sit and make up stories about the folks that once lived there.

Remember the old Bill Monroe song, "Gotta Travel On"? It goes

"Done laid around, done stayed around this old town too long
Summers almost gone, winters coming on..."

He's right, summer has gone and autumn is close behind; winter is hurrying right along and soon it will be time for flannel sheets. It's almost too cold to go to the barn in my nightgown, boots flopping on bare feet, scarf wrapped 'round my head and too large jacket on my back. The dogs and I can see our breath in the mornings, the sheep and horses have little beards of frost and the mist rises off the water trough as warmer mountain river meets colder mountain air.

 ~ mist rising off water trough as frost glistens on the ground ~

It's a great time here on the farm even if I'm struggling to keep up; struggling to stay awake. There's never enough time to do all that needs doing on the farm but now it's especially difficult. Even so, there's no place on God's beautiful earth I'd rather be than here, home at Thistle Cove Farm.

Until next time,

Blessings ~ this piece of heaven on earth ~ corn silage ~ work to keep us busy and strong ~ frost ~ the last of the flowers ~ Autumn ~

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sabbath Keeping

"And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  ~ Psalms 73:25-26 ~

"No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
I see heaven's glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life-that in me has rest,
As I-undying Life-have power in Thee!"

"I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praises to the name of the Lord Most High." ~ Psalms 7:17 ~

Still creating, still inspiring,
Never of thy creatures tiring;
Artist of thy solar spaces;
And thy humblehuman face;
Mighty glooms and splendors voicing;
In thy plastic work rejoicing;
Through benignant law connecting
Best with best-and all perfecting,
Though all human races claim to thee,
Thought and language fail to name thee,
Mortal lips be dumb before thee,
Silence only may adore thee!

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him..."  ~ Psalms 37:7 ~

"To get alone - to dare to be alone  - with God, this, I am persuaded, is one of the best ways of doing anything in the world...If we are ever to be or to do anything, if we are ever to be full of deep, permanent, rational enthusiasm, we must know God. ...If we are ever to know each other, we must know Him first. ...I believe that we do most for those whom God as begun to teach us to love, not by constantly thinking of their goodness, their grace, their simplicity, but by never thinking of them apart from God, by always connecting their beauty and purity with a higher Beauty and a higher Purity, by seeing God in them. Let us learn to make every thought of admiration and love a kind of prayer of intercession and thanksgiving. Thus human love will correct itself with, and find its root in, divine love. But this we can do only if we are willing to be alone with Him."  ~ Forbes Robinson ~

"O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago."  ~ Isaiah 25:1 ~

Until next time,

Blessings - another beautiful day ~ perfection in His love ~ O Lord, you are my God ~ Autumn ~ perfect faithfulness ~ perfect will ~ divine love ~

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Time is Running Out!

This is the letter I sent to elected Commonwealth of Virginia representatives; please feel free to send a similar, or even this letter with your signature, to your elected representatives.

Dear Senator:

Certainly reform is necessary to rein in health care costs but that reform is best attended to, in my opinion, the industry and not the government. Government should return to its roots...governing and stop showing its amazing capacity for focusing on, yet being inable to correct “problems” that simply aren't in evidence. The Chrysler and financial industry debacles come, most immediately, to mind.

A successful indicator of future performance is one based on past track records so a government run health care system will be just another farce where, in “best case scenario” our great grandchildren will be enslaved; the worst case scenario is the current generation will be enslaved to China when our debts are called due.

It's my understanding Medicare and Medicaid now lose upwards of sixty billion dollars each and every year due, solely, to fraud! I suggest you and the rest of the Senate take a good, hard look at the Medicare and Medicaid fraud problem rather than turning your attention to a problem, that, similar to the King who was wearing no clothes, simply doesn't exist. At least, not in the fashion you're putting forth to the American people.

According to a recent Congressional teleconference regarding the “hidden costs” included in the 1,000+ page bill that passed in Committee, it is an outrage and I am angry! Why in the name of sanity, should USA taxpayers be asked to pay for Medicare subsidies for some states, and not others, or perks for medical research industries in some localities and not others? Why, in the name of sanity, would you even ask that of your constituents?

As to the “accounting method” used by CBO...any budget would look better after reflecting income for a few years before expenses are applied to the balance sheet. If we, the voters, ran our lives and businesses the way the US government is being run, we'd have declared bankruptcy a long time ago. Do you truly believe Communist China will agree to fund this “reform” bill? Do you really believe a day of reckoning isn't coming or do you just believe it won't be in our lifetime?

This “health care reform” bill is extremely intrusive in what used to be called private lives. It is truly abhorrent you could consider putting the yoke of oppression called “health care reform” upon your constituents when you, yourself, have opted to be excluded.

If you want to make your name and place in history, vote NO and then, turn your talents toward re-establishing a government that's “for the people, by the people”.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sabbath Keeping

~ walnut tree in back pasture ~

"Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God."
~ Psalms 42:11 ~

"I praise Thee while my days go on,
I have Thee while my days go on:
Through dark and dearth, through fire and frost,
With emptied arms and treasure lost,
I thank Thee while my days go on."

~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning ~

"O Jesus
Be the canoe that holds me in the sea of life.
Be the steer that keeps me straight.
Be the outrigger that supports me in times of great temptation,
Let thy spirit be my sail that carries me through each day.
Keep my body strong,
so that I may paddle steadfastly on,
in the long voyage of life."

"Though this patient, meek resignation is to be exercised with regard to all outward things and occurrences of life, yet it chiefly respects our own inward state, the troubles, perplexities, weaknesses, and disorders of our own souls. And to stand turned to a patient, meek, humble resignation to God, when your own impatience, wrath, pride, and irresignation attack yourself, is a higher and more beneficial performance of this duty, than when you stand turned to meekness and patience, when attacked by the pride, or wrath, or disorderly passions of other people."

~ William Law ~

"When none but God is near,
I love to think on mercies past,
And future good implore,
And all my cares and sorrows cast
On him whom I adore."

~ Anonymous ~

"Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you." I Peter 5:7

~ the view from our back yard ~

Until next time,

Blessings ~ Christ ~ another day to praise His name ~ hope in God alone ~ light for the way ~ prayer ~ past mercies ~ the gift of today ~

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bloggers Quilt Festival

~ Crazy Quilt, quilter and date unknown ~

Don't you just love clever people? Park City Girl is hosting a Blogger Quilt Festival and there are, currently, more than four hundred folks participating.

Perhaps some of you remember this quilt, above. Neither Dave nor I remember from whose family it came, perhaps his, perhaps mine. It's a crazy quilt with random materials including wools, cottons, silks and is in fairly good shape. There's no date nor signature so it's a guess as to how old it is but at least several decades, perhaps one hundred years or more. That sounds so old but when I think one hundred years ago would just be 1909, that doesn't sound so old.

~ Aunt Esther's hand made quilt, circa 1930 ~

This quilt was made by Aunt Esther in the 1930's and has seen a bit of use, resulting in a bit of wear. It's no longer used on a bed but hangs on the wall where it can be seen and admired. I want to make a label for it with Aunt Esther's name and date so future generations will know from whence it came. Aunt Esther has made hundreds, perhaps thousands, of quilts in her day; she'll be 92 in January and is still quilting, crocheting, tatting, etc. She makes apple butter in the fall, strawberry jam in the spring, hunts for morels, ramps and lives on her own. I'm going to see her next month and we'll have nice chin wags as we talk over old times and family.

Note to self...start labeling my own quilts! -smile-

~ Turning Twenty quilt watched over by Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent ~

This quilt is a Tricia Cribbs Turning Twenty pattern and one of a couple of dozen I've made. I'm not a fancy quilter but I do hand quilt and enjoy choosing various materials, designs and colors. In this quilt, each block has either hand quilted hearts, the names of Dave's cousin and his wife, their marriage date and a cross. Thus far, I've made quilts for almost everyone in my family and a lot of my friends. It's something I enjoy doing and one of my earliest memories, from age four or five, is of Granddaddy Bennett handing Mom and Daddy a five dollar bill and saying, "Here, take this money and buy the babies each a blanket. Don't let them get cold, keep them warm this winter." Mom would have bought two blankets, one each for my brother and I, and had change left over from that five dollar bill. In Appalachia, then as now, a lot of folks are concerned with needs - food, shelter, clothing - and wants come after. 

I hope folks enjoy receiving one of my quilts or, 'deed, anything I've hand made. It's a labor of love, as you well know if you do hand work, and one of the most defeating emotions is the one when someone looks at their gift, the work of my hands and heart, and says, "oh. thanks." Granted, it's a short list but those few folks will never, ever get anything other than store bought from me again. I don't say that in anger but there are too many people who do appreciate hand made to waste it on folks who would rather have store bought. And that's okay. Not everyone wants hand made, some think it cheap and mean and they would rather have store bought.

I'm not a grand quilter; truth be told, I'm only passable but I follow Mother Teresa's dictates. She said, "None of us can do anything great on our own but we can all do small things with great love." That's why and how I's not great but it is done with great love and each quilt is made with prayers for the person who'll receive it. I know they'll sleep warmly and tucked, quite literally, into prayer.

I've read the smallest deed always exceeds the grandest of intentions. That's so true, isn't it? If you've often thought you'd like to learn to quilt or sew or knit or crochet or --- fill in the blank, do it. Don't wait for 'some day'; today is the day, now is the time. What you make doesn't have to be perfect and, in fact, the Amish always make a small "mistake" in their quilts because "only God is perfect". This winter is going to be cold and someone, somewhere could use a bit of colorful happiness, in the form of a quilt or hand knit or crochet hat or scarf or something that's warmly sewn. Do small things with great love; the rewards are out of this world.

Until next time,

Blessings ~ Bloggers Quilt Festival ~ Park City Girl ~ quilts ~ quilters hands ~ small things with great love ~ the work of Your hands ~

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Morphing October

 ~ One of the last beautiful sights of Autumn ~

We've been home little more than a week and I'm still catching up. I love getting away but I think I love coming home even more, even when there's a ton of work to be done. We have really good people to farm sit and the basic stuff gets done but that's all. The gardens, vegetable, flower and herb, have yet to be winter prepared, the porch furniture needs a final cleaning and put away, the tack room and stable needs a thorough cleaning, the de-icer needs to be put into the water tank and the list g-r-o-w-s even as I managed to get some things accomplished.

~ Home, one of the sweetest words in the English language! ~

Then, someone mentioned there are but a few more than sixty days until Christmas. YIKES! Remember Little Black Sambo? I feel like Sambo, making butter, racing 'round that ole tree but not really thinking I'm doing much but I try to get something accomplished in the house, on the farm, in the studio, everyday. Today it was the upstairs hallway; the tri-looms were moved to the farm office and the hallway cleaned, a rug put down, two rocking chairs and table put in's now ready for a cuppa and a view out the window. That may not sound like much but ya gotta remember...last December the water pipes froze, burst, thawed and we had a major, by my standards, water fall and they say 'round here...more than a few wool rugs, some furniture, walls, floors, and other things. We had carpenters working but haven't seen hide nor hair of them for more than two months. Last week I said, "ENUF!" and moved their tools to the barn; I did leave their huge band saw but that's only because it's too heavy for me to lift. The front porch is swept clean and back to what is passes for normal for us.

And, not only the above but we've been restoring this ole farmhouse since the day we moved in, fourteen years ago. It was a wreck, had been used to store hay and, please tell me, how many old commodes does one need to keep on the second floor? I mean really! If they were bad enough to be replaced, shouldn't they have been taken to the dump?  Call me petty but I think I would have trashed them and not kept them which is exactly what we did, post haste, after moving in.

There's still sheet rock in the front hall and that will stay, along with several rolls of insulation in the farm office building, until mid-November until it can all be picked up.In the meantime, furniture is still piled in the parlor, downstairs bedroom and hallway and there it will stay until mid-November. None of those rooms, plus the dining room, can be used until all the building supplies are removed.

High hopes, I've got high hopes...remember that's my theme song for a good many years now.


I've been living, and my house has been, in limbo for almost a year and I'm a trifle tired of it all. Then, I remember to count my blessings and my pettiness fades, yet, yet, yet...I would SO like to have a finished house! Perhaps by Christmas we can at least have our rooms ready to use. Right now, we have five kittens in the unfinished dining room and there they will stay until mid-November until they are weaned. Remember Maddie, one of the "almost drowned" kittens that came to live here in the Spring? Maddie went into season at four months !!! which defies Nature to my way of thinking. It's simply Not Normal. Early last Wednesday morning, Maddie had five kittens and she herself only five months old.

Trust me. There's absolutely nothing you can say to me that I've not said to myself...I'm still hanging my head in shame. At the barn, we have four yellow kittens from the same Mama Cat that birthed Maddie and Maggie; those kittens are wilder than hares and I'm racing against time to catch them so they can have their shots. At least these "dining room" kittens will be well gentled by the time their eyes are open. One funny thing - when I pick them up and, gently, breath into their faces, some of them will open their wee mouths and hiss at me. Frankly, I don't blame them but they are going to be gentled; it's the only way to even have a hope of finding them a home. This is one problem of farm life, having feral cats. To my credit, if I've brought a cat here, it's been gentled; the feral cats are ones that have moved in on me because I feed them. Rarely, but sometimes, I've even been able to gentle a feral cat.

The outside of the Ranger was cleaned today - windshield and all windows as well as the bed cleaned of alfalfa.

As to the studio, I opened the door and looked in...does that count? Not really but it was the best I could do today.


Today, we also took the Singer hand crank machine to Mr. H. for service work, that's a round trip of about 75 miles and a couple of hours. He said it's at least an 1800 machine but he's not more definite as his books only go back to 1900. He's worked on sewing machines for more than sixty years and he's seen them all and was a bit excited to see my treasure and has promised to give it royal treatment -smile-.

We've had a strange October; at times, it's been Autumn and Indian Summer, at other times, it's been more like November with cold temps, stinging rain and blowing winds. Today started as a cold, rainy, windy day then morphed into a beautiful, sunny day. We're expecting snow this weekend so I'll have to throw down some hay from the loft in order to have plenty for the horses and sheep to eat. All of them are mud fat so aren't in any danger of starvation but a horse generates heat from the gut out; it's best for them to have calories. The sheep are all a trifle fleshy but about half the flock is senior and I figure they need the calories as well. I expect to lose a few this winter; I see signs of old age every time the flock moves from one pasture to the next. My mantra has always been, it's easier to keep them well and healthy than spend the time, energy and money to get them well again.

The puppies are growing like weeds and Sadie is responding, slowly, very slowly, to training.

 ~ Sadie, catching a scent on the wind ~

Ridgebacks are classified as sight hounds but some doubly class them in the scent category as well. My thought is you've got to have "it" in spades in order to hunt lions, guard the farm and herd cattle. 

~ Sadie, Abigail and Sam are becoming friends ~

 ~ Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent ~

~ Chase, puppy style! ~

 ~ What Wonderful Friends ~ 

Sadie is such a fabulous companion, as are all the animals, and she loves to come to me, put her front legs in my lap and then twist her head around mine in an embrace. I like to believe she's giving me a hug and, while I should discourage such behavior, I don't. I enjoy Sadie hugs and want her to give them to me as long as we're both able. Sam loves to throw himself into my lap, all excited wiggly, and tell me of his love. This morning, he crawled from the foot of the bed, up my stretched out body, tossed himself beside me and simply snuggled. He gives these huge sighs as he snuggles closer, closer and then drifts off to sleep for a few more minutes before we all come to wakefulness and get up to greet the day. I tell you, there are children who should be so loved and it's a crime against us as a nation there are children who aren't.

~ Fawn, at rest in our alfalfa field ~

The fawns are still in the alfalfa field and I live in dread that some stupid person with a gun will kill one or both. I will not call such a stupid person a hunter because a hunter doesn't kill just for "sport" a baby and then leave the body to rot in the field. If I catch such a stupid person killing one of "my" fawns, it will be all over save the sentencing. Those fawns were born in our field and have never been outside the fence; it's all they know and we expect their mother was killed sometime in the summer but don't really know.

Monday morning, on my way to exercise class, I saw these three deer in the middle of town. They had crossed the street and were watching us watch them. As people hurried to their appointments, I stopped to take a photo; I'm almost never in such a hurry I can't appreciate one of God's gifts. I'm not so sure the folks in the car behind me held such a belief; what a shame.

 ~ Three deer in middle of town ~

November is election time, in our county, one of the people running for school board office uses his hay bales and fields to advertise himself. 

~ Creative use of wrapped, round hay bales ~

If you're able, slow down this week and take time to appreciate the little things...a deep breath, a glimpse of an animal, a lovely sunrise or sunset, a hug from a loved one. All of us have so much for which we should be grateful; count your blessings, name them one by one. Due to lack of bandwidth, I can't see You Tube but I just bet the following is fabulous! Count your many blessings, see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Until next time,

Blessings ~ fawns ~ Autumn ~ lovely weather ~ snow ~ a warm house ~ a snuggly bed ~ puppies ~ kittens ~ a husband who remains, mainly, calm through it all ~ in the midst of life, we LIVE ~

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sabbath Keeping

~ Cosmos ~

"The way to bliss lies not on beds of down,
And he that had no cross deserves no crown."
~ Francis Quarles ~

"He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind..." ~ Proverbs 11:29 ~ 

"A good name, like good will, is got by many actions and lost by one."  ~ Lord Jeffrey ~

"Nature is a good name for an effect whose cause is God." ~ William Cowper ~

"A man's reputation draws eyes upon him that will narrowly inspect every part of him."
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Ceremony leads her bigots forth, prepared to fight for shadows of no worth. While truths, on which eternal things depend, can hardly find a single friend." ~ William Cowper ~

"Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of - for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear." ~ Socrates ~

"Some would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism." ~ Norman Vincent Peale ~

"Time never fails to bring every exalted reputation to a strict scrutiny." ~ Fisher Ames ~

Until next time,

Blessings ~ a gentle thirst quenching rain for the earth ~ a good sermon by a fine preacher in a little country church ~ health ~ happiness ~ a Sabbath day to be kept holy ~

Monday, October 05, 2009

Thistle Cove Farm Studio Tour

~ Studio at sunrise ~

My studio started life as a curing house; it's where we would cure bacon, middlin, hams, jowls and such. Each Thanksgiving holiday, we'd slaughter hogs, a community event, and, as they say in the South, it would all be used 'cept for the squeal. That lasted about the first four or five years and then I had enough of "good ole boys" showing up to "see what was going on" and it was easier to stop hog killing than continue going up against their attitude of "what's it to ya?" when I'd ask their reason for walking willy nilly on our farm.

The studio is beautiful, to me at least, in all weather and at all times of the day. It's 12 x 12, has a couple of rugs on the floor, electricity, heat and air conditioning. Electrical outlets are on every wall, either side of all windows and about 36 inches from the floor. As I've aged, I've found it's much easier to plug something in when I don't have to crawl around on the floor. Having the outlets higher, makes it easier to unplug iron, sewing machines and heavy usage equipment before leaving for the evening. The ceiling fan and lights add additional light as do the smaller "true light" floor fixtures. The roof is tin and is a joy when there's a rainstorm! Generally, the door is propped open so the dogs and cats can come and go. It's important this space be shared as a family so I wait until frigid weather...and the dogs coming inside and staying... before shutting us inside. The windows are left open until that same time so we enjoy the very last smidge of good weather and all windows have those little "put in place" screens.

~ Studio in mid-day, spring, before the flowers were full flung ~

~ propane gas heat, air conditioner, open window, cutting table, iron ~

As I enter the studio, the cutting table is on my left. As you can see, it's piled high with finished baby quilts and baby quilts ready to be put together. I usually cut out a bunch of quilting projects and then use the table to layer material and batting, use as extra space, iron, etc. The iron is handy close to the right of the table.

~ an embroidered umbrella hangs from the ceiling ~

I enjoy embroidered things; they act as inspiration and a jolt of added color. When I want, or need, to rest my eyes, of course I look outside. God's creation never fails to bring peace and calm, even if there's a storm brewing or rain beating down. I figure when it's lightening, that's just God taking my photo -smile-.

~ shelves on every wall make sure there's plenty of storage space ~

Dave is constantly amazed at the way the space is utilized; there's a space for everything and, most times, everything is in place. Yes, I do re-arrange to make it work for me and that's on an as needed basis. Every wall has shelves and these shelves are between the sewing machines and the work table; just to the right of the Singers and hold cones of thread and yarn used for machine and hand sewing and embroidery.

~ 1971 Singer, left and 1953 Singer Featherweight, right ~

There are weeks where I sew daily; other times, I'll go for a week and never touch a sewing machine. When I do sew, I use both these machines; the 1971 Singer was a gift to myself from me upon high school graduation. It's a sturdy machine, made of good, solid metal and while the cabinet has seen a bit of wear both it and the machine are still in excellent shape. The 1953 Singer Featherweight is a workhorse and having the small table designed to hold that particular machine is an added bonus.

Both sewing machines have floor lamps and the newer Singer also has a small lamp clamped to the shelving. Various resource books and magazines line the shelves to the left as do small jars holding beads, buttons and other small items. The wreath in front of the window is made of bird feathers.

The blue and green wall vertical shelving behind the Featherweight holds Quilting Arts; Cloth, Paper, Scissors and Stampington magazines. Hanging overhead are a couple of dowel rods where I store ribbon; it's handy and easily pulled and cut from the roll.

~ Material obsession -smile- ~

To the right of the work table, just visible center, is the material collection. The material on the wall shelves is for bed and baby quilts while the material in the small white case and white hanging baskets are for mini-art quilts, textile books, textile post cards, etc. The desk is used for all projects except quilting and, sometimes, I'll take my laptop to the studio and write magazine articles, etc. When I leave the door open, the dogs come and go as they see fit. At various times during the day they use the studio and outside to play, nap and chew on their "cigar chewies" . The dogs sleep so much better when they've had a busy, exercise filled day and when the dogs sleep do I! -smile-

~ Eves are used for bolts of fabric used for quillows and quilt backs ~

There is a fair amount of storage space in the eves. The studio is only ten feet from rafters to floor so I had the "attic" space left open and added a couple of pieces of plywood either side so heavier, bulkier fabric bolts could be stored high. I have a footstool that's used to access this space when necessary.

~ Batting rolls are stored on the other side ~

As anyone knows who makes things by hand, it's horrible to find yourself missing "something" to continue working on a project. By buying batting in bulk, I ensure there's never a point at which I have to stop and make an emergency run to Joanne Fabric...a round trip of about 75 miles; that's so inefficient both in terms of vehicle costs and my time!

~ Metal door used as a design board and memo pad ~

One of the best things we did was put in a metal door and a screen door; the metal door acts as a memo pad and a design board and is always in use. The screen door keeps out moths and flies although I've found leaving the ceiling fan on all the time, also helps keep out flies. We're in a rural area, surrounded by horses, sheep and cattle and flies are a constant nuisance.

The studio is in constant use on a weekly basis. Textile and fabric art projects, quilting, card making, felting, jewelery making, beading, spinning yarn, knitting and more are ongoing projects. Right now I've got several baby quilts I'm hand quilting, several more to put together with batting, a couple ready to sew. There are also earring and necklace projects in the making, felted pins, mini-art quilts and quilted book journals in process. A small boom box and MP3 player make sure I've got audio books, music and sermons to keep my mind busy while my hands are busy.

It's true this small studio doesn't have the space to teach classes but we do have other buildings on the farm that can be used for teaching. The farm office building has heat as well as hot and cold running water. It also has work bench tables with stools, chairs and padded mats for standing. I've not taught in a few years but am leaving that option open; who knows what the future brings?

I'm a firm believer in having a space where one can say, "this is mine". It's important to make time and space for things that make our hearts Zing, that allow us to be creative, employ and enjoy our God given talents. We all have talent for making things by hand but sometimes we need time and space to figure out exactly what that talent might be. I do sell my things but find greater satisfaction in finding a need and filling it. God has blessed Dave and I by meeting all our needs and a fair number of our wants; I try and pass along those blessings when directed. Time spent in my studio is time well spent both in terms of being creative and using my time wisely although I've never allowed not having a studio to prevent me from making things. Before the studio, I used wooden boxes and cloth bags to carry around various projects and set up my sewing machine in the hall. As a wise woman once said, "it's just as easy to do something you enjoy doing as it is to do something you don't enjoy." I should add, "and probably more productive!"

Tempus Fugit; may you live life with joy and significance.

Until next time,

Blessings ~ my own studio ~ material ~ enough projects to ensure I'm never bored! ~ a well oiled machine ~ good lighting ~ a life well lived and well loved ~
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