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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

31 Things

Be careful what you wish for, eh? Down time comes at a price, sometimes a fierce price, as evidenced by the spasms my back muscles are having. Trouble is, they didn't invite the rest of me to the party and when they come, they come fierce and with loathing and no concern for the rest of the body. There have been those odd times when I look like St. Vitus Dance but with no partner. But, time heals all wounds and as time passes, the spasms pass along with the pain and, slowly but surely, I'm being restored.

There's been a lot of time for knitting, listening to audio books and reflecting; perhaps that's as well since autumn is quickly approaching. This morning, about 6:30, it was 50 degrees F and we've had fog every morning save two this August which means we'll have twenty-nine snows this winter.

Is that old wives tale true? I don't know but I prepare like it's Gospel. I like to live ready so I can leave ready, if you know what I mean.

~ here's me, looking at you, looking at me ~
Can you see me reflected in HayJ's eye? He's a big 'un, weighing in at around two thousand pounds and standing about 18 hands. Gentle giant is what he is but he can be feisty when he wants what he wants. Just like a man, eh?

Perhaps you remember how much I enjoy Alistair Begg? He's the Scotsman now out of Cleveland, Ohio who has a radio ministry at 7:30 a.m. on XM radio. Stick with me as this gets rather convoluted -smile-. This morning I was visiting the Fiber Arts Mixed Media site and ran across the Blue Eyed Duck Studio blog, owned by Katey Duck. It's a visual feast and, as I perused it, found it to be a spiritual feast as well. She has a button, "Parkside Church", which made my ears go all pointy; Parkside Church is where Pastor Begg is senior pastor. So, after a l.o.n.g. site visitation, I decided to share the good news with you. Go, visit Katey and see if you're not blessed as well.

Somewhere else along the blog line, I found 31 things that made me laugh. Gladly, I'd give credit but can't remember where I found them nor who actually wrote them. I think I've received them as an e-mail as well but...can't remember. Hope they tickle your funny bone as well.

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
-okay, this made me laugh but there's nothing untoward in my computer history so Friend, don't trouble yourself. do get yourself to my stash and sneak away the telltale signs of a pack rat and thanks!
2. Nothing really stinks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
-good grief, has someone been looking over my shoulder!?
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger. -napping is severely
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font. -boy's howdy, isn't there ever!?
5. How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? -I can do this.
6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to star their directions on number 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my own neighborhood.
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired. -yes I can. Friday night when I slept for 14 hours straight!
10. Bad decisions make good stories. -usually funny ones as well.
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again. -what?! you mean there's something after VHS???
13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to. -such a sinking feeling...
14. "do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this...ever.
15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring, Hello? Hello? but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?
16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste. -don't think so as I like looking good for myself -smile-.
17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well. -amen!
19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.
20. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option. -uh oh, the pc police are gonna get me.
21. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it. -oh yeah, lots of times.
22. I would rather try to carry 10 over-loaded plastic bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in. -and this, dear one, is perxactly WHY my back has left me!
23. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
24. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said? -oh my, I wonder how many times people have thought I was a krazy woman because I admitted to "something" I didn't hear but didn't want to admit it?
25. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters! -oh yeah, I love to do this.
26. Shirts get dirty, Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty and you can wear them forever.
27. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber and dumber every year? -don't get me started...
28. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far. -yep, this makes my blood run cold; been there, done that.
29. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate bicyclists.
30. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch three consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
31. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey...but I bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from three feet away in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

~ Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent, on watch ~
Hope you've chuckled a time or two reading the above; I caught myself nodding in agreement on most of them.

Blessings ~ laughter ~ blogs of good intent and purpose ~ a healthy back ~ full moon ~

Grace and Peace,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lazy, Hazy Days

 ~ fiber wreath ~
These last days of Summer, before the chill of Autumn, are, generally, filled with enormous work and details in preparation for winter. Not lately. Lately, I've been holding down the porch furniture, day and evening, waiting for my back to come home. It went out again, dratted thing. I went to my Wonderful FNP today and she said, "meds, down time, heating pad, muscle rub, stay off the computer and, oh yeah, try to take it easy for the next three days." She knows me well...sigh. She only sees me when I've decided she's my last resort and, thus far, has managed to pull my fanny out of the fire on all occasions. Heather and her Staff are Wonderful and yes, she does work under the guidance and direction of an MD but it's Heather I go see when needs dictate.

So, I've been reading and listening to audio books. I did make the above wreath...surely that doesn't constitute work...right?! It's my "fiber wreath" and filled with mini-balls of wool, acrylic and cotton yarn, wrapped with red roving and ribbon yarn and adorned with a knitting pin and a ball of yarn stuck through with mini-knitting needles. It also holds a small basket filled with a tiny skein of sock yarn and two child sized sock darning eggs. I have a small collection of darning eggs and they bring me great pleasure as I sit and wonder about their provenance.
~ sock darning eggs ~
I'm in the midst of knitting a cotton bath mitt but perhaps this is the time to try and teach myself how to knit socks. I've got the needles, yarn and have a pattern or two so wish me well, please and thanks. I mean that in every sense of the word! -smile- In the meantime, please, allow me to wish you well also and if you make a fiber wreath, please let me know so I can admire the work of your hands and heart!

Blessings ~ small pleasures ~ wreath ~ knitting tools ~ socks ~ bath mitts ~ 
Dei Gratia,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ white tail deer ~
"For the love of money is the root of all evil..." ~ I Timothy 6:10 ~
"There are three conversions necessary: 
the conversion of the heart, mind, and the purse."

"Our love for God is tested by the question of whether we seek Him or His gifts."
~ Ralph W. Sockman ~

"God has given us two hands -- one to receive with and the other to give with. 
We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for giving." 

"Recognize to whom you owe the fact that you exist, that you breath, that you understand, that you are wise, and, above all, that you know god and hope for the kingdom of heaven. You have been made a son of God, co-heir with Christ. Where did you get all this, and from whom?... What benefactor has enabled you to look out upon the beauty of the sky, the sun in its course, the circle of the moon, the countless number of stars, with the harmony and order that are theirs, like the music of a harp? Who has blessed you with rain, with the art of husbandry, with different kinds of food, with the arts, with houses, with laws, with states, with a life of humanity and culture, with friendship and the easy familiarity of kinship? ...Is it not God who asks you not in your turn to show yourself generous ... Because we have received from him so many wonderful gifts, will we not be ashamed to refuse him this one thing only, our generosity?" ~ St. Gregory of Nazianzen ~

"You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled." ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon ~

"Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that is "finding his place in it," 
while really it is finding its place in him." 

"You're rich if you've had a meal today." ~ Billy Graham ~

"How rich is anyone who can simply see human faces." 

"In order to receive goods, the camel must get down onto his knees." ~ Middle Eastern Proverb ~

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessings that you will not have room enough for it." ~ Malachi 3:10 ~

Blessings ~ food ~ human faces ~ love ~ giving ~ breath ~ life ~
Dei Gratia,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ruffled Spiral Scarf

 ~ ruffled spiral scarf ~

wool mohair worsted weight 150 yards, on left
cotton mercerized yarn 136 yards, on right

size 4, 6, 8 circular 29" knitting needles

I found it easier to have two sets of size 6 and size 8 29" circular needles

CO 130 stitches using size 4 needles

Row 1 - knit

Row 2 - knit in front and back of each stitch

Row 1 - knit off the size 4 needles onto the size 6 needles

Row 2 - knit front and back of each stitch

Row 1 - knit off the size 6 needles onto the size 8 needles

Row 2 - knit front and back of each stitch

Knit last row.

Bind off.

Be sure and take frequent breaks to rest your hands; your hands will ache. Use this pattern for yourself, gifts or even to make and sell. If you can make money with it, more power to you! It's my gift to you.

Blessings ~ knitting ~
Dei Gratia,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hurtling Toward Autumn

 ~ TCF Studio with Abbie and Sadie ~
We've been having fierce thunderstorms lately, last night was no exception and we have an 80% chance of more thunderstorms today. This morning, however, is beautiful and the dogs and I had a lovely walkabout. My studio looks lush with the cottage flowers, bird feeder, grape vine wreaths and little screen door. We're going to have the studio re-sided as this siding is "vintage", as in ancient, and been there for decades. The interior is new but the exterior is sadly in need of replacement. We bought rough cut poplar siding but will keep the hemlock trim as I like the look of the white clapboard with rough hewn natural trim. I'm in process of making things to sell out of the studio but with everything on my to-do list, I'm just about as slow as Moses. Check out the TCF Studio and let me know what you think of my beginning. Also, can someone recommend someone to make and add buttons on my blogs? I've got a watercolor of a thistle a friend did for me and would like to use that but need some instruction and direction.

Lately, I've been making time for the studio and have some delightful, to me at least, jewelery to show for my labor. Later, I'll take photos and show you.

Today I need to gather the last of the basil, make pesto and freeze it, wash a couple of fleeces and put them outside on the racks to rinse in the next rainstorm, send some things to Leslie so she can work on updating my website and I should workout but there's only so much time and winter's coming on. Time's a wasting and this winter is promising to be like last winter, perhaps a tad better, perhaps a tad worse, but it's still going to be winter and that promises snow, cold, etc. We've still got to square bale our alfalfa field and get that hay put in the barn too. Then, there are the quilts and fleece throws I need to make for Christmas and though Christmas is four months away, it seems much, much closer. Can you feel my panic? -smile-
~ looks dangerous to me spider ~
But this morning, the dogs and I took a leisurely walk around the farm. "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!" So we did.

The above beauty, and I use the word advisedly, is hanging on his/her web attached to my studio. Although the "real" name is unknown to me, it's been renamed "looks dangerous to me big butt spider"; kinda fits, don't you think?
~ sheep, running for their lives ~
 All the dogs have to do is walk behind the sheep and the sheep beginning running as if for their lives. The dogs are sniffing around, minding their own business and when the sheep begin running, the dogs start running because they want to see where the sheep are going. I'm telling you, it's hilarious! No one knows what they're doing but they're doing it really, really well. Silly things...just like humans, eh?
~ farm bathroom ~
There's a metal farm building on the place and it's about 100 x 100 feet with a small bathroom and small office. We've been in process of remodeling both as well as cleaning up the entire building and, in days past, it was used by men and was as grody as all that implies. Stinky boys. They couldn't hit the pot unless they were sitting on it and why bother to wash their hands when all they're going to do is get grease on them again? There's a perverse kind of logic there but still and all, it did make for a grody space but not much longer! Instead of the "normal" kind of sink, I used this bushel metal tub and that means I can wash an entire fleece. The fleece water is captured and then used for flowers; great ideas, don't you think?
The thirty gallon water heater and the rest of this small storage space will be behind a curtain as a  conventional door wouldn't work because heat needs to circulate.
The vintage mirror in the first bathroom photo will hang on the wall above this heater.
The small office was painted a rich, deep, not quite sienna orange which is one of my favorite colors. Probably my favorite as there are three rooms in our house painted this color and we never tire of them. It's been outfitted with a small table, chairs and lights on either side where one can snug up and knit, crochet, weave, read or do nothing except think deep thoughts. There are cozy rugs on the floor so the dogs won't get cold, a small heater, refrigerator, microwave and cabinet.
This Hoosier cabinet came from my MIL's home and is filled with different teas, coffees and snacks. I still need to furnish plates and utensils bought at a thrift store...vintage, of course -smile-... but, essentially this space is ready to go. The heater is to the right and the rag rug loom waits to be dressed.
The white metal cabinet is filled with roving, fleeces, dye materials and other tools while the black refrigerator is filled with water and the book case with odds and ends. I need to straighten up a bit but the space is workable now and a nice respite when I'm on the upper pasture and need to get to a restroom or have a quiet moment to sit.
My outside washtubs may be filled by water hose from the bathroom and more fleeces washed.
The vintage blackboard is ready for the day's program to be written.
~ Sadie, thinking dark thoughts about kittens ~
~ headed back to the house ~
 So, that's been our morning; it's almost noon and dinner time so bye for now but before I go, one more thing. Do you have any idea how much your reading my blog means to me? The gift of your time is a precious gift, gratefully received and treasured. I so enjoy reading your blogs, getting to know you a bit, putting your names on the prayer list and, throughout the day, as God brings you to mind, you're tucked into prayer. Thank you for that privilege.

Dei Gratia,

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bits and Pieces

~ wild turkey hen ~
 Sometimes, the camera is at hand and God, graciously, allows a moment to be captured. He's given several such moments lately. Above is a turkey hen who was walking and flying from roadside to roadside which made me wonder if she had chicks somewhere. A while back, one fine day, I had to stop, no camera at hand unfortunately, to allow a mother turkey hen and her eight off spring to cross the road. It was a pleasant sight and one I've remembered fondly for years.
~ flying hen ~
 It's not the greatest photo in the world but do you know how difficult it is to capture a turkey in flight? They are fast and not only are able to fly far, they can fly high. She flew to a tree then drifted to the ground and calmly walked into the woods; above, she's the blur mid-center right.
~ Mr and Mrs Deer ~
Coming home from quilting I caught a glimpse of this wild doe and buck.
~ white tailed buck ~
His antlers are in full velvet and will stay that way until rutting season. White tail deer are native to the United States and are also known as Virginia deer; read an interesting story about a white tail buck here.
~ heading home ~
Abbie went with me to quilting, had some snacks and then, on the way home, a snooze. She's gray and grizzled but with a heart still as big as all outdoors. Abbie has been my constant companion for more than thirteen years and was an adult when we found her. Over the years one of her nicknames has been "my heartbeat". And, it's true, we live in tandem.
Jules, over at MoonCat Farm, has gifted me with an award and I'm still shaking my head. You know when you hear something about someone and think, "what a nice thing to say about so and so"? Well, Jules gave me A Blog With Substance award and said, "Sandra, at Thistle Cove Farm, you center us and bring us home." Now, I ask that not one of the nicest things you've ever heard? It's certainly one of the nicest compliments ever given me and, Jules, thank you from the heart! I'm still shaking my head and thinking, "Wow. She likes my blog." Remember Sally Field when accepting her Oscar for Places in the Heart? "...I can't deny the fact that, right now, you really like me!" That's how I feel and have felt since Jules contacted me to tell me of the award.

Jules asked me to sum up my blogging motivation, philosophy and experience in five words. Hmmm, I do hate pop quizes -smile- but, perhaps, calming, connectedness, encourager, blessed and grace sum it up, quite nicely I hope.

She also asked me to pass along this award to five bloggers of substance. Mildred, Misha, Kathy, LindaSue and Paula. All these women are women after God's own heart and that warms my heart. Mildred is a new blog-friend with beautiful photography and a gentle tone while Misha is my next state neighbor who has become a friend. She's the kind of person you'd want for a next door neighbor if you could pick your neighbors. Kathy lives on the other side of the country and is an encourager; the world needs more women like Kathy. LindaSue is in Texas and raises goats and, probably cain in her younger days. I don't really know that but I figure she's such an interesting woman now, surely she has some notches in her belt from earlier days. grin. Paula is also a next state neighbor and I'd love to share a cuppa with her. Paula and Kathy are shepherds so we share that in common in addition to our faith. There are many, many more women I'd love to bestow this award upon but time calls me to a halt.
~ Tim Ivy, Two-Rivers Multi-Media Solutions ~
Before I go, may I interest you in viewing a short video? If you recall, a couple of weeks ago, Tim Ivy  came and shot video and stills here at Thistle Cove Farm. Today, he sent me an e-mail telling me the video was on his website and asked me to take a look. Tim, you've done an incredible job and thank you from my heart.Why, I ask, am I so blessed? Don't get me wrong, I am also extremely grateful but to have Tim capture so beautifully this farm and what I do brings me to tears. The older I get...thank You, God...the more I realize each breath and blessing is from Him and He brings people like Tim into my life for a reason. Thank You, God. Thank You.

Blessings ~ awards ~ videos ~ Jules ~ Mildred ~ Misha ~ Kathy ~ LindaSue ~ Paula ~ Tim ~ and always, God ~

Dei Gratia,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ Carly Shetland, resting from her labor ~
"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." ~ Colossians 3:17 ~

"...offer God your heart from time to time in the course of the day..." ~ Brother, Lawrence, 17th century monk, author of The Practice of the Presence of God ~

"The good Brother found God everywhere...It was God, not the task, he had in view. He knew that the more the task was against his natural inclinations, the greater was his love in offering it to God."
~ said in eulogy of Brother Lawrence ~ 

"Anyone who can walk to the welfare office, can walk to work." ~ Al Capp ~

"Work is not man's punishment. It is his reward and his strength and his pleasure."
~ Amantine Aurore Lucile Dupin, later Baroness Dudevant, aka George Sand ~

"Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing." ~ Thomas Edison ~

"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
~ Theodore Roosevelt ~

"Find a job you like and you add five days to every week." 
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Life's Little Instruction Books ~

"Going to work for a large company is like getting on a train. Are you going sixty miles an hour or is the train going sixty miles an hour and you're just sitting still?" ~ J. Paul Getty ~

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all." ~ Sam Ewing ~

"Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction."

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you." ~ I Thessalonians 4:11 ~

Blessings ~ work ~ willing heart ~ tending our own business ~ a quiet life ~

Dei Gratia,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Foggy Morns

 ~ dove, waiting for the feeder to empty ~
 I've always heard for every foggy morning in August, there will be a snow in the coming winter. In past winters, that's always held true. The snow may not be fierce or a goodly accumulation but there have been snows, including flurries, for every foggy morning in August. Thus far, every August morning has been foggy, very foggy and, usually, we can't see more than, maybe, one hundred feet in any direction. Around here, the talk is, "wonder if this winter will be like last winter?" Last winter was fierce in length, intensity and snow depth. There were weeks when we didn't see the fence posts, due to snow drifts, and going to the barn mean breaking waist deep snow merely by falling forward, standing, walking two paces and doing it all over again. The dogs thought it was great fun, the first few times, but then began to wonder why Mom was letting this continue.

Tonight is Quilting Bee at Thompson Valley Community Center and I'm excited because I haven't been able to go for several weeks. What I should do is stay home and prepare for company coming this weekend but, God willing and I don't change my mind, I'll be going to quilting.

The TVCC is always a happening place. Currently, there are plans for a second community cookbook, always a fun project, and proceeds will go toward new playground equipment and software for the new computer lab and WiFi spot. October 2 is the Craft Festival, just in time for Christmas, and a great place to buy quality hand crafted merchandise at excellent prices. There's a small lending library and book exchange and each winter there are community suppers the first Saturday of each month.
~ Abbie and Donna ~
On quilting night, usually, Abbie rides along with me because she loves to go and people enjoy her as well. Abbie is a well behaved Jack Russell because she's been well trained and because she gets copious amounts of exercise to temper the breed's high energy level. I always take a blanket for her, the floors are cold hard and Abbie has old bones and needs her comfort level kept higher than when she was younger. We always have snacks, for the humans, and Abbie always asks, politely, for her share. If we're not forthcoming as quickly as Abbie requests, she'll stand up, wag her little tail and, softly, growl. It's not a mean growl, it's a "are you listening to me or being a stupid human?" growl and, should we not respond to her growl, she'll give a sharp bark. If that doesn't work, she'll stand on her hind legs, usually against someone's knees and bark more sharply.

At first I thought people would get annoyed but these are women who appreciate  humor, especially in little dogs and, after much teasing...probably much more than Abbie thinks necessary -smile-... they share with her.
~ Donna's beautiful Double Wedding Ring quilt ~
 In November, I'll have my four year anniversary quilting with this group of women and I cannot tell you how they have blessed my life. Yes, they have taught me to quilt but I've learned so much more besides. We've gone through weddings, showers, birthdays, deaths, funerals, community suppers and some of us attend the same small country church. When Dave's mother lived with us, in her last days, they listened to my frustration when we were having a rough patch and they never passed judgment, at least not to my face -smile-. They allowed me to rant and rave, cry a bit and I would return home determined to do and be better.

My quilting skills aren't up to Donna's but never have I heard an unkind word about someone's work. All I've ever heard are words of encouragement even when the maker points out little problem areas or uneven stitches or places where they made mistakes. It took Donna several years to finish the Double Wedding Ring quilt and, yes, it's all hand quilted.
 ~ happy quilt ~
Unfortunately, I cannot remember who made this quilt but isn't it happy!? A lot of work as well as all those flowers have many individual petals and pieces. A lot of these women can finish a quilt like the one above in about a week, but that means a week of intense work, doing nothing much else except quilting.
~ more happiness ~
Polly put this bright, colorful and snuggly warm crochet throw together. In your family, are there people who use the wrong, but close, word for things? For example, my Grandmother used to say "isn't this a beautiful African?" when showing off her afghans. Another thing she'd say when people told her she had a pretty little dog, "Tiny is a pure bred Pandamonium!" and, yes, Tiny was a Pomeranian. That memory always makes me smile although Grandma wasn't a person with much of a sense of humor. She'd lived a harsh life with many disappointments but her attitude was always positive. I'd ask about how she grew up and she'd say, "Just like everyone else back then but the future is in front of us. Look forward, not back." Grandma was a believer in positive thinking and hard work long before Norman Vincent Peal.
~ Christmas placemats ~
Speaking of looking forward, Anne made these appliqued Christmas placemats.
 ~ snowflakes ~
Each snowflake is machine embroidered and there are several on each placemat, each different as in life; very nice work indeed.
 ~ veg cookers ~
 Esther made these veg steamers. You place vegetables inside, place it in the microwave and in just minutes your vegetables are steamed to perfection. Clever!
~ hand tied baby blanket ~
Gaynelle made this hand tied flannel baby blanket. She's always making something for someone else and her sweet smile accompanies the work of her hands and heart.

Each year, we do a community project in addition to our individual projects and, last year, each of us made baby quilts and blankets for one of the Shriners children hospitals. The Shriners International provide free orthopedic and burn care to children under the age of 18 and I applaud the work they do. Many decades ago, an extended family member received excellent medical care free at the Richmond, VA Shriners Crippled Children's Hospital. His parent's were young, poor and without the Shriners, my cousin would have had a miserable life. Thank you, Shriners, well done!

~ fennel ~
We're hurtling toward autumn and the nights are getting a bit cooler while the days are still hot and steamy. I've been canning jam, making pesto and preparing for winter and the house is having a bit of work done while the farm buildings are being readied for this autumn's workshop with KC Willis.
 ~ raspberry jam ~
I'm burning daylight and chores need to be done so I can do errands...again! Some weeks it seems all I do is keep the roads hot, running here and there on errands. My to-list is long and, lately it seems, my pleasure in marking things off the list isn't happening as quickly as I'd like although I seem to be going full tilt boogie. Do you have days or weeks similar? Sometimes it seems all I can do is keep my head down, my nose to the grindstone and breath but, today, the carrot in front of my nose is Quilting Bee. So I'll take a project, a snack and Abbie and, for a few hours this evening, leave farm work behind. While I'll be in the here and now, I'll work for the future as fabric for a Christmas quilt flows through my fingers. Quilts are a precious reminder of love made tangible so let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Blessings ~ quilts ~ quilting bee ~ raspberry jam ~ Abbie ~ errands ~ chores ~ work ~ play ~

Dei Gratia,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


 ~ traffic jam ~
 It's been said before but bears telling again, if you don't mind, going to town takes a lot of time, a lot of time. Generally, there are many errands because I'm not wasting time nor fuel for a trip to town that accomplishes only one thing. Nope. Trips have to have, at the bare minimum, four things or I won't go.
~ you looking at me? ~
 There are times we're in a traffic jam and that eats up another ten to twenty minutes as the cows, heifers and their calves pass by. Of course, they have to stop and investigate which is amusing, probably for both of us. Dave and I will stop and allow the cattle to swirl around us; it's safer that way for them and us.
 ~ Mama and little one ~
These are Angus cattle, a mix of white and black face Angus and are, originally, from Aberdeen, Banff, Kincardine or Angus counties in Scotland. All these counties are in the northeast and touch the North Sea and, except for the North Sea, are quite similar to our topography here in the Cove. Some of those counties have mountains as well and lends a greater similarity and, as many of the Cove families have Scots, Irish, Welsh and English in their backgrounds, it's fitting Angus cattle are bred and raised here.

My background is quite similar to Dave's background; the Hamrick's came here from Ireland in 1654 and made their way to the Appalachia's because it reminded them of home. The other side of my family, the Lipscomb's, hail from Ireland as well while the Bennett's are from Wales and the---the---oh gosh, can't remember the other name but that side came from England and, on both sides of the family, married with the American Natives in Appalachia. That's the family lore at any rate. It's funny because I look Irish, head to toe, while my siblings look more American Native. Amazing, then there are those eejits who say it's all a big bang theory. I feel sorry for them and their lack of faith ; must be a lonely bed at night.

Dave and I were in the Marrakesh Airport, waiting to leave and I, accidentally, bumped into a gent standing in front of me. Apology at the ready, when he turned he looked down...he was about 6'5"... and said, "Irish". I told him, "no, American". He told me, rather more sternly, "No, Irish". It took a few moments before I realized Daddy's people are Irish and Welsh so I, sheepishly, said, "Yes, Irish". He said, "You could never deny your heritage, it's written all over you." Wouldn't it be wonderful if the same could be said for me as a Christian? Alas, it cannot because being a Christian is a daily struggle, a daily process and I admit to being a "practicing Christian" because I've not gotten it down just right and probably won't, this side of the veil. Sinful nature struggles with saintly nature but, thank God for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, I'm going to heaven anyway. Come, go with me, please.
~ my monkeys ~
Today is a go to town day and my to-do list is full; crammed actually, and, once I leave, I'll be gone for hours and hours. I'm tired and haven't even left but when I come home, it's to Dave and the monkey's; more fun than the originals and a lot better at loving, to be sure! I love the above photo, it's one of the few where all four dogs are together, two pups on the left and two senior citizens on the right.

And so it goes.

Blessings ~ cattle ~ my monkeys ~ a full life ~ to-do list ~ heritage ~ family ~

Dei Gratia,

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ Nomads, waiting for court, Tanjer, Morocco ~

"He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbors no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman. ...He who does these things will never be shaken." ~ Psalms 15:2-5 ~

"The real corrupters of society may be, not the corrupt, but those who have held back the righteous leaven, the salt that has lost its savor, the innocent who have not even the moral courage to show what they think of the effrontery of impurity--the serious, who yet timidly succumb before some loud-voiced scoffer--the heart trembling all over with religious sensibilities that yet suffers itself through false shame to be beaten down into outward and practical acquiescence by some rude and worldly nature."
~ J. H. Thom ~

  "There are only two kinds of men: 
the righteous who believe they are sinners, the sinners who believe they are righteous." 

"All men's souls are immortal, but
but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine." ~ Socrates ~

"There are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak,
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three."

"We don't need to go very far in any given day to find a need, hear a request, face an enemy, or encounter a situation that calls for a righteous application of our God-given power as women."
~ Jan Dartagz ~

"If you see oppression of the poor, and justice and righteousness trampled in a country, do not be astounded." ~ King Solomon ~

"All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth." ~ Colossians 1:6 ~

Blessings ~ righteous men and women after the heart of God ~ You, beloved ~ justice ~

Dei Gratia,

Monday, August 02, 2010

Arts and Crafts in Southwest Virginia

 ~ the Cove, southwest VA ~
Arts and Crafts are alive and well in southwest Virginia; always have been, always will be. In past years, they were called "livelihood" and were meant to hold body and soul together, a tightly knit unit against the harsh winters and conditions of my beloved Appalachian Mountains. "There's nothing new under the sun" and that includes whatever work our busy hands find. From early, early days when Adam and Eve fashioned clothing out of fig leaves to yesterday when I spun yarn from my sheep wool, the art of making a living has enthralled many of us, generally for many reasons. The days of "having" to spin, bake bread, quilt, sew, weave, churn, etc. have gone by the wayside and now I do those things because they add meaning to my life, life to my years and provide me with nourishment of both physical and spiritual kind.

Decades ago, I was graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism. At that time, VCU was a leader in the tourism education industry but I understand the "powers that be" have, unfortunately, lost focus and vision and that particular program no longer exists. A shame as tourism, along with agriculture, is in the top handful, probably top two or three, industries the world over. At any rate, tourism has been my focus and vision for many decades and when we moved to Thistle Cove Farm, I added Agri-tourism to the mix.

We bought the farm in May, 1995 and that September, I was hosting a couple of bus loads of elementary age children who came to the Cove for a tour. I gave them a tour of the house, under renovation, of the kitchen and medicinal herb garden and then walked them around the yard and told them some of the history of the Cove. My own mini-industry was born and, ever since, I've given Farm Tours to folks interested in Appalachia, agriculture, arts and crafts. It's been delightful, sharing our farm and what we do, letting the children climb onto my lap and try their hand at spinning yarn on a spinning wheel, letting them use a drop spindle. Sometimes we use Kool-Aid to dye yarn and that's always a winner with the small fry.

The Lost Arts Guild was started shortly after we moved here and exists to showcase those folks who are making things, one at a time, with their hands.  The blog needs updating but, if you visit, you'll get an idea of who we are and what we do. I encourage other members to update but that, rarely, happens as everyone is busy making a living.

Over the years, we've had people come to the farm to shoot commercials, videos, folks who were writing books or magazine articles and, in the last, half dozen years other, like-minded, people have banded together to promote arts and crafts in southwest Virginia. "Round the Mountain Southwest Virginia's Artisan Network is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote sustainable economic development of the region's communities by assisting local artisans with marketing, educational, and entrepreneurial opportunities."
~ Tim Ivy ~
Last week, Tim Ivy, Two-Rivers Multi-Media Solutions in Williamsburg, VA, came to Thistle Cove Farm. He wanted to film video and shoot stills for the Round the Mountain Artisan Profiles project. Another regional project is the Crooked Road Project, seen at the bottom of his first page.

Tim is an interesting gent and, as he said, "has the best job on the planet". Well, mebbe, mebbe not -smile-. I always sorta figured I had the best job on the planet! Isn't it great when people love what they do? It was a beautiful day on the farm but I always say that, don't I? It's true though; at Thistle Cove Farm, one day is perfect and the next day is beautiful.

I like Tim, in part, because he said words that were music to my ears. He said, "it's all about the story." Amen, brother! It is all about the story! When people buy something from me or anyone else who makes things, they buy after hearing the story. My story is how Daddy's people came over here in 1654 and made their way to Appalachia and stayed because it looked like home...Ireland, Scotland, Wales. How Daddy's people were fiercely independent coal miners and farmers who wanted to live their lives without too much government, how they are now turning in their graves!..., wanted to raise their families in the Protestant religion of their choice, etc. I have Shetland sheep because of my Scots heritage, Romney sheep because of my English heritage and Merino sheep because they were cute bottle lambs and are now HUGE pests. Lovable but still pests! -smile-

The older I become...thank you God...the more I see people who have no roots. They don't stay in one place long enough to grow any strength of character and, trust me, it will show, if not now then eventually. Oh, but I digress; my apologies.
~ growing some deep roots ~
Here in Tazewell County the Appalachian Arts Center showcases folks from a wide region - southwest Virginia, southern West Virginia and other areas. I'm proud to say, back in the day, I suggested the name for the Appalachian Arts Center. The first director called me, during start-up phase, and asked my opinion for a name. If you've read this blog any time atall, you know how I feel about Appalachia...proud!...and told her, "call it the Appalachian Arts Center." She said, "there are other places in other states using the name Appalachia." I didn't think then, nor do I think now, that matters as Appalachia is an extremely large and very diverse region. The only state that is entirely within Appalachia is West Virginia, the other states have only portions that may be called Appalachia. At any rate, the AAC is the child of the Southwest VA Community College and has done wonders for increasing exposure for both southwest Virginia and the folks who are engaged in the making of art and craft.
~ Dani Cortez ~

Cassie, Paper Kitty, brought Dani Cortez to the farm; you can hear the podcast here. I have no bandwidth and lack the knowledge on how to listen to a podcast...I'm so low tech!...but you listen up and let me know what you think, okay? Dani is working on a book, Craft Culture, on some of the places she's visited during her recent tour. That's a great name, don't you think...Craft Culture?
~ Cassie and Sadie ~
I'm all for tourism, agri-tourism, arts, crafts and the promotion of it all. Although I've slowed down a tad and, am now focusing on making my own art and craft, I still talk it up whenever possible. In this hurry up and make do world, I've always got time to slow down and listen to the things that matter, the lives that add meaning to mine. We all have the same amount of time in a day, a week, a month, a year. We may not all have the same amount of time in a life but that's truly not as important as what we do with the time we have. If you're not making something with your hands, try it. Find something to do that will give your hands and life work and meaning beyond the day job. You've got time; it's all about choices and making the ones that add, not subtract, from our lives. Find something to do that will give you a story, add meaning to your life, and provide you with nourishment of both the physical and spiritual kind.

For some years I've bestowed a blessing upon folks; now, I bestow it upon you also:  

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

Dei Gratia,

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ the sheep of His pasture ~
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee." ~ Psalms 122: 6 ~ 

"Mankind, East and West, Christian and Muslim, accepted the Jewish conviction that there is only one G-d. Today it is polytheism that is so difficult to understand, that is so unthinkable."
T. R. Grover, The Ancient World, page 186 ~

"There is a famous story in which the Kaiser asks Bismark, "Can you prove the existence of God?" Bismark replies, "The Jews, your majesty. The Jews." 

"Small minds discuss people. Average minds discuss events. Great minds discuss ideas." 
~ unknown ~

"Intelligent people know of what they speak; fools speak of what they know." 

"Death is merely moving from one home to another. The wise man will spend his main efforts in trying to make his future home the more beautiful one." and "For the believer, there are no questions. For the skeptic and agnostic there are no answers."

"The world says that time is money, but I say that money is time. In order to earn enough money to satisfy his desires, one must sacrifice inordinate amounts of time. For me, that sacrifice is too great."

"...if statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.

The Egyptian, the Babylonian, the the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?" ~ Mark Twain, "Concerning The Jews", Harper's Magazine, 1899; see The Complete Essays of Mark Twain, Doubleday, 1963, page 249 ~

"Intolerance lies at the core of evil.
Not the intolerance that results
from any threat or danger.
but intolerance of another being who dares to exist.
Intolerance without cause. It is so deep within us, 
because every human being secretly desires
the entire universe to himself.
Our only way out is to learn 
compassion without cause. To care for each other
simply because that 'other' exists."

 "Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. No one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses." ~ I Kings 8:56 ~

Blessings ~ God's promises ~ compassion ~ Israel ~ time ~ ideas ~

Dei Gratia,
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