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

Friday, February 26, 2010

Slow Poke Time

The Slow Living post resounded with some of you; it seems we all have a need to slow down, even those of us whose lives are already out of step, seemingly, with the rest of this ole world. Our steps, Dave and I, are in step with the natural world and that lends a measure of roundness, fullness and sweetness to our lives that a lot of people may never know. We live our lives by the seasons, enjoying each as they come and, generally, are patient for the next appointed time. Even as full as this winter has been, we've enjoyed the weather and have prepared for it as best we could. We've been snowed in on the farm for a couple of weeks at a time, have managed to escape now and again and are now safely ensconced a few hours away.

Dave and I have an older Acer laptop that doesn't have photo download capability; this is such a shame because the blizzard photos are incredible, especially here at the Greenbrier. We've come to the Greenbrier Clinic for a physical for me and find having one location to complete all those pesky tests is far better than driving to first one doctor, then another and to yet another for some other test. Under one roof everything is accomplished and all in a period of about a day and half. If only medicine could be the same across country, just think of the time, energy and emotional expenditure that could be saved! Even so, not all tests can be done here and I'll have to go to another facility in a couple of weeks.

As much as I'd like to worry, it's such a waste of time. My times are in God's, quite capable, hands and I'm doing what I need to do in order to maintain this body, a temple for His Holy Spirit. That sounds so strange and mystical to me...my body a temple. Sometimes, I'm sorry to say, I treat it more like a tent and, as time comes to us all in some degree or other, we are called upon to account for our treatment of our bodies.

But, what better place to have a doctor visit than at this lovely Greenbrier. Since 1778 the Greenbrier has been welcoming guests from around the world. This area, as much of West Virginia, is known for it's healing waters, in this case, sulphur waters. In times past, humans and animals alike would visit to drink and relax in the warm, healing waters and many have attributed cures from arthritis and other ailments. Folks still come for the sulphur waters but also for the world class golf course, restaurants and other wonderful attractions.

I've learned so much while here...Dorothy Draper designed and decorated this beautiful resort in a period of eighteen months! I have loved wandering around this period building, still dressed as Miss Draper left it, her signature flowers of rhododendrons and roses, the carpets, window dressings, furniture and accessories in  colors of green, blue, yellow, red and pink. Trust me, when we're able to return home and I download some photos, you'll be amazed!

There's a long hallway where photos from early days showcase Princess Grace, Prince Rainier, many men who went on to be President -Clinton, Bush Sr. and Jr., JFK...the list goes on. President Eisenhower was the last sitting President to actually stay at the Greenbrier and since, Presidents have not stayed here due to the threat of terrorism. The Greenbrier is a national treasurer and best to keep it safe. James C. Justice II just had an old fashioned "shoot-out" with the Marriott chain in both their quest to own the Greenbrier. I'm happy to say, Mr. Justice won, and now holds title as Chairman and CEO. That means a lot to me as Mr. Justice is a WV boy and heritage, tradition and the like is important to him. It's more than money although money is important; money is what makes the Greenbrier, indeed any business, stay in business and I wish Mr. Justice and his company a hundred successful years as owners of the Greenbrier. Yes, it's true his white hat has a few smudges but then, are you able to show me any white hat that totally sparkles?

This recent blizzard has us staying here a day or two longer than expected. We could, probably, leave in relative safety but once we got home, we'd be stuck. Our driveway has snow drifts to the tops of fence posts...again..., Cove Road is impassable save for tractors and our farm sitter says, "stay where it's safe and warm". So, here we sit. Hopefully, I'll be able to swim in the heated, indoor pool, perhaps take in a movie in the theatre and, definitely, walk around and take more photos. What a terrific place to recuperate!

Until next time,

Blessings ~ good health ~ the Greenbrier ~ warm and cozy ~ farm sitter ~ a temple that's functioning well and happy ~

Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Monday, February 22, 2010

Slow Living

 
~ white tailed deer ~
It's been a winter to remember and it's not over yet. We've had snow on the ground since 18 December and more expected this week but not the two plus feet projected at last weeks' end. Everyone is tired, weary and to the point of exhaustion. Farmers in our valley are struggling to get out every day, twice a day, and feed livestock. In the worst of the weather, farmers are out no later than 8:00 a.m. and it takes them until close to noon to feed. They go home, ostensibly for lunch but, more than likely, for a toes up so they can recover and be out by 2:00 p.m. to feed again. It takes a lot of hay and silage to keep cattle, horses and sheep fed when the temperatures are below freezing and the wind chills at, or below, zero. In the last few days we've had a respite and weary hearts are grateful. We even had sun on Sunday but, true to form, we're back to overcast, gray skies, rain and, no big surprise, more snow expected all week.
 
~ the group of white tail deer at Dry Run ~
 Forgive me for what may seem like complaining; truly, it's not meant to be whining. The stark reality is folks all over our valley are physically tired but, thank God, not sick and tired. We seem to have escaped the influenza that's been going around and haven't had that particular drain on our resources.

This winter has been slow living at its best -smile-. Most of us have moved at a snail's pace, slower than usual, in order to keep our feet under us and stave off injuries due to slipping on snow and ice. Those ski poles my brother gave me have sure come in handy this winter and it's rare I venture off the back porch without one and, sometimes, two in hand.

Lately, I've been running across the words slow, deliberate, movement and the like. It appears what was old is new again and, in this case, is a good thing, a Very Good Thing. Year's past, both Dave and I worked in corporate America and have done our stint to help earn someone else money and to promote the agenda of others. We've had offices in DC, NYC and Richmond, VA but they don't hold a candle to our home office on the farm. I was raised in a lifestyle that promoted family, community, church and friends. We ate meals at a family table, went to church several times a week and the only time I heard the word "hurry" was in conjunction with meal time or going to church. "Hurry up and wash, it's suppertime." "Hurry and get your shoes on, it's time to leave for church or school."

There's nothing wrong with music lessons or sports but it seems families are in such an all fired hurry these days. Rushing hither and yon, trying to cram thirty hours in a twenty-four hour day, leaving too little time for things that matter - family meals, church, chores, sleep. So many children are cranky and ill-tempered, fed a diet of sugar and caffeine and expected to be at the top of their game. It's difficult enough for adults to keep up but to expect children to keep up is insane.

For curiosity, I searched the words "slow living" and came up with some interesting hits. I already knew about my friend's daughters' blog, Appalachian Feet. Anne, or Eliza Ann, as she's now called...lovely name, btw, but I'm imprinted since I knew her when she was but a gleam in her Daddy's eye, and will forever and a day think of her first as Anne...is an urban gardener and writes a mighty fine blog about the process. She has some exceptional links, useful information and is quite informed about her topics. She doesn't have a friends column on her blog so, for updates, you'll have to cut and paste to your own sidebar. Do visit Appalachian Feet and bookmark; it's a keeper.

You've heard about the Slow Food movement, right? It's a great place for information about happenings of interest such as a Canadian dairy farmer winning the right to sell raw milk. Yeah, that's right...he had to fight for sixteen years for the legal right to sell his farm product. It's illegal in most USA states to sell raw milk and all because government employees and officials think they can guarantee food safety. Lord A-Mercy! Only God can do that but leave it to government employees and officials to push God aside in their quest to control the populous. I was raised on raw cow's milk and milk products and firmly believe it gave me an edge due to the good bacteria it provided. Not to mention the flavor; OH MY GOSH, the FLAVOR! Even now, every so often I'll obtain raw milk and churn butter, make buttermilk and all sorts of good stuff.

It seems the Slow Movement begun in opposition to a proposed McDonald's being built on the Spanish Steps in Rome. No, this isn't a joke and it's not remotely funny, imo and although McD's has had some brain burps, this ranks among the most severe. How could one possibly imagine placing a fast food hamburger joint in such a location? The mind positively reels! However, from those humble beginnings, the Slow Movement now encompasses Slow Travel, Slow Money, Slow Parenting, Slow Art, etc.

Elaine Marie Lipson, Red Thread, has coined the term Slow Cloth and started a group for those who enjoy the process. Others, including Just Enough Time, Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth, quilter Beth Ferrier and Sharon B. all speak to the Slow Cloth way of doing things. Good reads all, thought provoking and the eye candy is icing on the, proverbial, cake. 

This past weekend I was able to leave the farm! Yes, it's true...I went to A Likely Yarn's Yarn Camp and had such a lovely time, met some truly nice folks and thoroughly enjoyed myself. For the weekend, I lived a little faster than normal but, more than likely, still lived slower than most. I knitted a simple hat, part of a set of scarf and fingerless mitts as gifts for my Be-Loved Sistah. I didn't do all I wanted to do, I forgot to ask someone to show me how to cast on a Moebius and how to repair a Orenburg shawl that's had a bit of moth damage but good times and good memories are still mine.
 
~ Yarn Camp happy feet in hand knit socks ~
Essentially, all this talk about slow this, slow that is about living with intention and deliberately with passion and process...at least this is how I think of the whole slow thing movement, in all its forms. It's getting back to our my roots, keeping to the path, living joyfully and mindfully, enjoying the journey and not worrying, so much, about whether something is done perfectly or even correctly. After all, aren't those merely words that mean different things to each of us? For me, it's knowing I'll never be finished...not in the sense I'll complete all the work my hands and heart want to complete. If I die at a thousand years, there will still be wool to be spun, yarn to be knitted into shawls to gift a heavy heart, a quilt to warm a body, a meal to be cooked, shortbread to be baked, life to be lived, puppies to walk, kittens to nuzzle, babies to hold, a lover to cherish, sunrises and -sets to be savored...life to be lived!
 
~ coming home ~
Slow living is helped when the weather is such that slow movement keeps one to the center of the path and at a snail's pace. Learning to accept the down times, to embrace the slow times, to revel in the journey that leads home and to comfort, security, peace, calmness, love and joy. Come join me.

Until next time,

Blessings ~ slow living ~ slow food ~ slow craft ~ slow movement ~ slow cloth ~ slow ~

Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 
~ Dry Run ~
"See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it."  ~ Deuteronomy 30:15-16 ~

"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." ~ Thomas Jefferson ~

If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.”  ~ Thomas Jefferson ~


"He that strives to draw himself from obedience, withdraws himself from grace." ~ Thomas A Kempis ~

"The true follower of Christ will not ask, "If I embrace this truth, what will it cost me?" Rather he will say, "This is truth. God help me to walk in it, let come what may!" ~ A. W. Tozer ~

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose" ~ Jim Elliott ~
 
"The cross is laid on every Christian. It begins with the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death... we give over our lives to death. Since this happens at the beginning of the Christian life, the cross can never be merely a tragic ending to an otherwise happy religious life. When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther's, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time... death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at His call. That is why the rich young man was so loath to follow Jesus, for the cost of his following was the death of his will. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and His call are necessarily our death and our life" ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer ~

"If you can't pray a door open, don't pry it open." ~ Lyell Rader ~
~ Dry Run, winter ~
"Here lies the tremendous mystery - that God should be all-powerful, yet refuse to coerce. He summons us to cooperation. We are honoured in being given the opportunity to participate in his good deeds. Remember how He asked for help in performing his miracles : Fill the waterpots, stretch out your hand, distribute the loaves" ~ Elizabeth Elliott ~

"He who governed the world before I was born shall take care of it likewise when I am dead. My part is to improve the present moment" ~ John Wesley ~


 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose." ~ Romans 8:28

 Until next time,

Blessings ~ a bright, sunny, warm day! ~ healthy animals and humans ~ water ~ Christianity ~ obedience ~ truth ~ love ~ wisdom ~

Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sheep Shearing Day 2010

~ A portion of Thistle Cove Farm's woolly flock ~
The snow is knee deep, again, this morning and even deeper in some places. It looks like just another snowy day on the farm but I'm going to try and get to the studio today which, lately, has been difficult due to drifts up against the studio door. The studio is mere steps from the back porch and behind the house but the snow tends to wildly drift on this farm, in this valley and my good intentions oft go astray. 
 
~ Roman nosed Romney ~
 Even so, Sheep Shearing Day 2010 is approaching and, earlier this week, I was able to meet up with Clinton, the shepherd who has been shearing my sheep for many years. Last autumn, Clinton met with an unfortunate accident when the girth on his saddle broke and he was, unceremoniously, dumped on the ground. Although I wonder if there's any ceremony whatsoever in being dumped; I think not but am leaving the idea open. He did not escape without injury and, in due time, had rotator cuff surgery - YEOUCH! - and will not be shearing for me this year. Heck, he may not be shearing for himself this year, time will tell.
 
~ Derreck Spangler
Derrick Spangler is a Certified Fiber Removal Specialist, for sheep, alpacas and llamas at Lord Willin Shearin, in Floyd County, VA and I've asked him if his schedule is open for shearing at Thistle Cove Farm. April is a bit late, at least most of the folks in our county have already sheared by April but I like shearing in April. We'll still get snow and cold but we'll also have some warmer weather and sunny days and, as my flock is somewhat, ancient, the warmer days assist greatly. If you've never seen a sheep sheared, visit his website where he has an under two minute video of him shearing a Tunis sheep.

Easter is the first weekend in April, this year, and there's a re-enactment the third weekend so I've, mostly, tried to arrange shearing on the second weekend, the 10th this year. Derrick is checking his calendar so, if you're a praying person, please say a quick one his schedule will allow. If it doesn't that's okay too, we'll just work together to find a date that's good for both...perhaps the last Saturday in April...?

I've run across Derrick's name and Lord Willin Shearin for a couple of years now and always people have good things to say. I mean, how could you not like a guy with such a great sense of humor!?
~ Ride 'em, Cowboy! ~

BTW, both photos were used with Derrick's permission and were borrowed from his website. If you're interested in discussing your shearing needs with Derrick, or you'd simply enjoy looking at his photos or website, please do visit. His site is easy to navigate and it's easy to contact him. Something tells me I'm going to enjoy his visit to Thistle Cove Farm....Lord willin. -smile-
 
~ Mary's felted soaps, hand knitted cloths ~
We open the farm, free, to visitors and it's a great family day. Lost Arts Guild members will demonstrate and sell crafts that would have been absolutely necessary to this farm of bygone days. Last year we had a basket maker, spinners, blacksmith, loom builder, dulcimer maker, quilter and gourd decorator. Additionally, a professional photographer set up a studio for photo folks wanting their photos taken with black spring lambs.
 
~ Mary, basket maker, feeding lamb ~
The Cove Community Association will sell hot food and drink with proceeds going toward educational programs concerning agriculture and the part it plays in all our daily lives. You're welcome to visit, please dress in layers with coat, hat and scarf as it's always been chilly in the morning and warms up as the day progresses. We welcome service dogs only as well as your cameras; it's a great photo opportunity. Parking is alongside the road except for media and those with handicapped designations on their vehicles, we save a small area just inside our gates for those folks. If you're able, come join us.
 
~ Leslie and Sandra ~
Leslie of Greenberry House, Alice, in aqua colored jacket, and Mary the basket maker but not shown are three woman who help skirt fleeces. For their troubles, they get the fleece of their choice and I feed them...well, I feed everyone who is still here...supper. I find myself still putting up photos of Sheep Shearing Day because I'm trying to recognize all that green and brown stuff on the ground. Most of what I've seen since 18 December is this:
~ latest snow storm, yesterday ~
Well, Dave has put on a beef roast for supper tonight and I'm going to make a blackberry cobbler from berries picked last summer. Our Verizon telephone has worked only sporadically since 11 January so, most days, we're well and truly stranded because we our land line, generally, doesn't work nor do we have cell phone service in our valley. Verizon keeps saying they've fixed the problem but in the midst of that phone call, the call is dropped and then, nothing, no dial tone, no static, nothing, nada, zip, nuttin honey. Call me silly but it would seem like that's a Big Head's Up, doncha think? But hey, when you're sitting in a nice, warm office somewhere in Jersey what do you care for a customer's problem you're never going to meet in a state you're never going to visit? Verizon, Verizon, Verizon...shame, Shame!

The Lost Arts Guild and Cove Community blogs need updating and the studio awaits so it's looking like another full day in our hood. Ahhhh, it's still a wonderful life!

Until next time,

Blessings ~ life ~ Dave ~ Clinton ~ Derrick ~ Leslie ~ Alice ~ Mary ~ Cove Community Association ~ and all the wonderful folks who make Sheep Shearing Day a day to remember for everyone ~
 
Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Monday, February 15, 2010

OWOH 2010

 
~ Mama Cass says, "yeah, you won!" ~
So much to talk about, not the least of which are the folks who won my OWOH 2010 gifts. As most of you know, I am, almost, a complete computer ejit so you'll have to take my word for the numbers Random picked. Probably, there's a way to copy the information but it's beyond my modest skill level so there you have it.

Out of 248 comments, Random picked
195 - Sandra in Tennessee North Carolina...sorry...
55 - Wondrous Strange Designs, in North Carolina, but I couldn't find her name
68 - Sandy in Germany
31 - Kathy B in Washington State - I kid you NOT! Kathy and I have been blog pals for some time. I'm telling you...God just wants Kathy to have a little "love you and don't want you to forget it" reminder. Gotta be. No other explanation will suffice! Kathy is an "encourager" and is, in part, responsible for me putting so much of "me" into this blog. Thanks, Kathy!

Because Sandy in Germany is the only non USA resident, she gets her choice of Frida emery boards or pair of earrings. After she chooses, it's first responder gets first choice until mini-art quilt hanging and earrings are gone. 


I've sent e-mails to the above folks and y'all have until 1:00 p.m. EST on 17 February 2010 to respond. If you've not responded by that time, another name will be chosen.One thing that tickled me is the preponderance of Sandra's that won, fully 50% and that's my name as well so how cool is that?! Okay, fine. It's well known how simple I am and how the simple things amuse me; that just means I'm never bored.

In other news...Amy, in Damascus, VA called this morning and she's found two Great Pyr's she wants to adopt out. Apparently, these dogs have been on the lam long enough for their coats to become thoroughly matted. There were timid, at first, but have come 'round to food, water and love. They are gentle with other dogs, chickens, livestock, children and humans and Amy would love to re-home them. If she's unable to re-home them, she'll take them to the animal shelter where they will, at least, be given a gentler death than starvation, being hit by a vehicle or worse. One is a dog, not sure about the other one's gender. If you're interested, please send me a PM - thistlecovefarms at gmail dot com - and I'll put you in touch with Amy.

People, please...I know times are difficult and there's only so much moolah to go 'round but still...if you find yourself unable to buy food for your critters, do the RIGHT THING and take them to the shelter. Even if they are destroyed, they are put down in a humane manner as opposed to starvation, being trapped in a snare, poisoned, being hit by a vehicle or worse. There's a reason we're the humans...so we can tend to the least of these and sometimes the least are animals. Have a heart, already! Least you think, "well, why doesn't she take them?" Dave and I have three rescued dogs, all our cats are rescues, some of our sheep and one of our horses. We already put our money where our mouth is located. -smile-

There's more to discuss but I'm burning daylight.

Until next time,

Blessings ~ OWOH 2010 participants and a fine time was had by all! ~ Sandra ~ Sandy ~ Kathy B ~ a beautiful God loved soul in NC ~ Amy, taking in strays ~ animal shelters ~
 
Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 
~ Happy Valentine's now and always ~
"the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." ~ Jeremiah 31:3 ~

"I thought once how Theocritus had sung
Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years,
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was 'ware,
So sweeping, how a mystic Shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair;
And a voice said in mastery, while I strove,-
"Guess now who holds thee?"- "Death," I said. But, there,
The silver answer rang,- "Not Death, but Love."
~ Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning ~

"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but
in deed and in truth." ~ I John 3:18 ~

"Better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all." ~ St. Augustine ~

"I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all."  ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson ~

"Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle." ~ Amy Bloom ~

"The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." ~ Allan K. Chalmers ~

"Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction." ~ Antoine De Saint-Exupery ~

"Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails."
~ I Corinthians 13:4-8 ~

"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out." ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning ~

"Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas." ~ Dale Evans ~

"Love comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." ~ I Timothy 1:5 ~


Until next time


Blessings ~ love ~ the love of God as evidenced through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior ~ work for our hands, love for our spirits ~ 

Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Thursday, February 11, 2010

February 2010 snow storm

 
~ swaying bird feeder ~
Housekeeping note - I try to always respond, privately, to each note but sometimes it takes me a while to comment on the blog. If your settings are set to "no reply", that's why you're not receiving a quick response.

Re. my last entry and questions...thank you to those who had answers and I've figured out the what and how and wherefore's. If any are interested, I'll do a separate entry on bloggie techie stuff. I learn how to do a few simple things and am now too big for my britches! At least my hat still fits, I've sweatpants galore. -grin-

Dave and I moved to this little farm, he in May 1995 and I in June 1995. He set up a bed downstairs while, each night, I would trudge upstairs, carrying a lighted candle, to my bed. Mom was so concerned the neighbors would think we were "shacking up" and, thus be shunned, but I was so concerned with packing up two households and moving them across the state plus working with a realtor to sell those same two houses, that what the neighbors thought was way on the back burner. Besides, we weren't "shacking up" and the Almighty was fully aware of our circumstances so Mom's concern, while born of love, seemed a mite misplaced.

I kept a journal of that first year and sent out hard copies to various relatives and friends. Mom and Daddy's preacher, Jerome H., called them the Thistle Cove Farm Epistles and was always urging "send the next chapter". It's hard to believe, but I know exactly where those Epistles are located and will drag them out and start posting those first months of farm life. Looking back on what we accomplished, I find I'm amazed at how we lived and what we went through.

January 1996 was the worst winter storm southwest Virginia had seen in a decade or more. At least, that's what we're told. It was very snowy, high winds, low wind chills and snow drifts to my waist. At that time, we were living in three rooms and heated with a coal stove and a wood stove. We had a couple of lights, extension cords strung hither and yon and a sense of adventure that carried us through. That and the Good Lord above of course. We didn't have walls but were the proud owners of R-19 insulation, hand stapled in between the studs and 6 mm plastic hand stapled atop the insulation. The plastic kept the insulation from being blown out of the walls when the winds picked up. It's safe to say the winds pick up a site more than they stayed calm, then and now. Maria was at her absolute best that year and I don't mean that sad, skinny girl who's trying to find herself.

The photo of the bird feeder was taken from the upstairs bathroom. The chains are hung, either side, to help keep the feeder from swaying, a lot, and spilling the seed. Both chains weigh about a pound or pound a half each so you can see how hard the wind is blowing.
 
~ neighbor John, plowing a path ~
When I headed to the barn this morning, I saw our neighbor, John, coming down Cove Road. I walked to our front fence to see how deep the drifts were and found him plowing a path. Prior to sometime in the late 1960's, Cove Road was simply Rt. 608 and a dirt road. Even though it's now paved, it's never had a coat of paint splashed down the middle or on either side. We simply don't have that much traffic, except in hunting season, of course. Thankfully, hunting season is only a few months a year so traffic is, generally, sparse the rest of the year.
~ snow drifts of three, and more, feet ~
The snow drifts are, fairly, deep; too deep for us to break a path from our driveway to the road so we're here for a while, probably a couple of days, but that's okay. We've food a-plenty, milk, water and I made five quarts of chicken stock yesterday. Some will be frozen while some will be made into chicken noodle soup, vegetable soup and, along with some home made bread, will keep us in good stead for a few meals.
~ slow, tedious work ~
John is making good time but it's still slow, tedious work. At least he can see immediate results; life should be like that, eh?
 
~ hope springs eternal ~
This truck driver waited a while, thinking he could walk in John's steps and get from there to somewhere else. I'm not sure who this is nor where he's going but there are only two occupied houses at the end of our road. Even so, if he doesn't have four-wheel drive, he'll still not make it all the way; the road is simply too covered in snow and if he slips, even a foot, he'll end up like this truck:
~ stuck ~
Last night, around 7 or 8, Dave and I thought we heard a vehicle but when we looked out every side of the house, didn't see anything. This truck was in a blind spot of Cove Road and we could never see him. We're not sure what the driver did but will hear, eventually. As you're looking through his back window, through to the wind shield, you see just how deep the drift at that point. 
 
~ after John plowed the road ~
Carefully, John plowed a path beside the truck and then continued on to feed his cattle. At some point, he picked up the driver...perhaps at the house further down the road...and came back to clear another path for the truck to escape.
~ snow drifts on the farm ~
On my way to the barn, I was plowing through some waist high snow drifts. These are eight foot fence posts and the next fence post beyond the one you see in the front is showing about a foot. For once, I followed the dogs and let them break a path for me. 

The barn loft got its share of drift but it won't negate the nutritional value of the hay. I fed all the animals some square bales this morning; it's a tad better quality than the round hay and I figure they need the calories. This day isn't going to get much warmer although last night was supposed to be the coldest of the winter season thus far.




 Mama Cass has found a spot and snugged in for the morning. She travels around the house as the sun travels around the farm and always seems to make the sun her friend, her closest friend.

The lesson here? Go thou and do likewise, especially in this cold, snowy season.

Until next time,

Blessings ~ safety ~ good neighbors ~ seed for the feeder ~ soup ~ home made bread ~ you, because encouragement is one of the freest, sweetest gifts and you've shared in abundance ~
 
Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blog questions, stuff and our latest Snow Storm

 
~ red berries ~
Please, some of you savvy bloggers out there, I've a question or three but I'm afraid they aren't posed very well. I'm not a high tech blogger and am in need of much help -smile-.

1. Other than physically clicking on each follower's button and writing down the information, is there an easier way to ascertain who follows one's blog? I'd like to follow those who follow me but can't figure out an easier way to find out who follows me. Clear as mud, eh? -wry grin-

2. I'd like to match up my Followers with my Cozy Reads; make them one and the same, for the most part. Oh, some of the folks I like to read don't have the Follower button on their blogs but I enjoy knowing when they have updated their blog. What's the simplest way to match up Followers and Cozy Reads?

3. Is there a place to find out those whom I follow? I've lost track if ever I was on track to start!

4. Out of sheer curiosity, why do you blog? 

Lately, I've been reading about blogs, women who blog, women who write about blogging, blog conferences, etc. I suppose BlogHer is one of the oldest, having been around for a number of years now. I joined BlogHer a while back but, truth be told, I'm not at all sure what it's all about and, more often than not, forget to keep up. Now that I think about it, I've joined a number of "communities" and am still clueless. I probably shouldn't admit that, eh? But truthfully, don't you find it a bit, or more than a bit, confusing? There's talk of Twitter, ShoutLife, Linkedin, Facebook and, probably, dozens more; I haven't even mentioned the ning social networks! I'm overwhelmed and feel the need to focus but how?! And on what?!

Blissdom 10 conference just ended in Nashville and there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women who attended. The workshops looked amazing, quite interesting and, more than likely, very worthwhile both in terms of participation and learning.

Tara Frey, Typing Out Loud blog, has released a new book called Blogging for Bliss and I'm finding it an intriguing read. The subtitle, "Crafting Your Own Online Journal - A Guide For Crafters, Artists and Creatives Of All Kinds" grabbed me. It's chockablock full of useful information, great photographs and wonderful blurbs and links to all sorts of blogs. I'm finding it enjoyable and am gleaning all sorts of information both regarding blogs, artists, arts, crafters, crafts and creative types. Perhaps she has the answers to my first questions and I've not read to that point...time will tell.


There is one thing she's written that makes my head tilt sideways and my mind go, "HUH!?" She writes about being authentic and genuine, paraphrasing, then goes on to write on page fifteen, "Keep in mind that creative blog readers come to your journal to escape, so it can be disappointing or uncomfortable for them when they see political rants, religious overtones, or foul language. If you want that type of blog, you may be in the wrong neighborhood."

She has a point but how can one...I...separate myself from God, my Creator? Not that I want to but my point is, on the best day I ever lived, I never had a creative thought, word, deed or action. It comes from God, all of it. ALL. If you don't believe in God and I visit your blog, I'm not offended by your lack of belief and am still able to glean information and enjoy my visit. But how can I be authentic and genuine and never write about my faith? How is it possible for me to blog about my bliss yet never mention my Creator? I maintain it's not possible nor do I want to try. Truly, it's not my intent to dismay or make you uncomfortable but better you than God, eh? -smile- As to question number four, I'm still working on my answer.
~ red berries covered in snow, a Valentine's offering ~

Dave and I have just returned from Richmond, VA where he had a business meeting. While he was in his meetings, I took the opportunity to shop at some thrift stores. Pickings were slim but I still managed to find a few treasures, some of which I'll, hopefully, show you tomorrow, vintage Thursday.
 
~ Byrd Lake, a WPA project ~

~ Carillon, another WPA project ~
 
~ Boulevard Bridge ~
Have you ever listened to old folks say, "I remember..."? I just know you have; heck, some of you are those "old folks". I certainly am an oldster and well remember when the Boulevard Bridge was called "Nickle Bridge" because...yep, it costs just a nickle to drive across. Now you have to throw seven of those same nickles into the catch-all just to cross the bridge. Thirty-five cents to cross the nickle bridge; why, it just ain't right. It ain't right a-tall! the old gal is mumbling to herself...again. -grin-

On Saturday I was able to get to Amelia County to visit my sister, her family and Mother and Daddy came as well and I took a few side roads to take the above photos. There weren't many cars on the roads, making for easier driving and I tended to drive about five miles below speed limit so other cars could zoom around me. I'm more of a "get there safely" kinda gal as opposed to the "get there fast" kinda gal. You know the kind...built for comfort and not for speed kinda gal.
 ~ reminds me of Narnia, I've no idea why ~

Dave and I came home late Sunday night, long story there I won't go into but suffice it to say the journey is supposed to take half of the plus eight hours it took. There's another storm approaching so we went to the grocery while we were able and today woke to lots of snow, huge drifts, high winds and this:
 
~ Feb 2010 snow storm ~
Snow drifts are above my knees but the good news is, it doesn't hurt when I fall. I fall a lot in deep snow because it's just so dang difficult to motivate from one step to the next. Or something like that. My bones ache, my joints seem frozen in place and my fingers are numb. I'm building up an impressive set of face wrinkles from squinting in the snow blindness and, now, completely understand why Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Ray didn't bathe but about three times a week. When you live in an old farmhouse, it's downright painful to get totally nekkid and that's the way you've got to be to get washed off really well in the shower. As much as I LOVE getting in the tub, my body just whimpers at the thought and the bedroom is hovering at the not quite balmy temperature of 49 above zero F. That's sure to change though; winds are picking up and the wind chills are robbing my dear little bedroom of its measly 49 degrees.

O Lordy. Is it okay for a grown woman to cry like a puppy? 
 
~ Dani Girl, Meri Go Lightly, Dandy Man ~
There are four horses in this lot and pasture but you only see three. Why, you may very well ask? It's because Peaches is a royal witch and she stands just inside the barn door, preventing the others from entering. Sometimes, but if and when she feels like it, she'll let in Dandy Man, her son, but for reasons known only to her and she's not telling. It riles me but I figure it's just something they all have to work out amongst themselves. Just like humans...why can't they share?
  
~ sheep feeding at round bale ~
The sheep have a free choice round hay bale and feed as their stomachs dictate. From the looks of it, I'll have to put out another round bale by Friday but if the storm keeps up, will set out a bale tomorrow.
~ Sadie and Sam, playing chase ~
Sadie and Sam love playing chase in the snow. Abigail...not so much but she has old bones and it takes more energy for her than the puppies. The puppies haven't reached their first birthday and Abbie has seen 14 years on this farm and was an adult when we found her. She's entitled to her comforts.
 
~Chewbacca, Sadie style ~
We run a relaxed household here at Thistle Cove Farm and it's a good thing. In early evenings, the puppies tend to go on a tear and Dave and I step aside and laugh like loons as they play chase in the house. We'll open up the doors so the puppies have access to front and back stairs and watch as they chase each other through the house, across the furniture, playing chase and tug of war with an old rope. If laughter is good medicine, we've a daily dose. I suppose there are those who think us insane for not only allowing the dogs to play chase but allowing them in the house and GASP! in the bed with us. But I shrug and know we'll not live forever in this veil of tears and the more happiness I can gather, the happier I'll be.

It's not the house that makes it a home, it's the love produced therein. 

Until next time,

Blessings  ~ puppies ~ plenty of hay ~ warm clothing ~ snow boots ~ traveling safety ~ home ~

Sandra

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

"The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." ~ Numbers 6:24-26 ~

"If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day."  ~ Alex Noble ~
"Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict -- alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence." ~ Dorothy Thompson ~

Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And something you give away.”    ~ Robert Fulghum ~
"Peace is not about the absence of conflict but the ability to deal with it." ~ author unknown ~

"I do not want the peace that passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace."   ~ Helen Keller ~
 
"If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies."
~ Moshe Dayan ~

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world
    gives do I give to you." ~ John 14:27 ~


 Until next time,

Blessings ~ understanding ~ wisdom ~ blessed peace, in our selves and in our homes ~

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Heros

My apologies - I'm experiencing camera difficulties and, currently, am unable to download photos. Please do read this post; the information is, more than, worthy of your time.

Like the Good Book says, "for those with eyes to see and ears to hear"...heros are all around us. Oh, I know, in this day and age certain words are, dreadfully, over-used. Awesome, create, hero are a few.

Yesterday I drove in one of the worst snowstorms of this winter to attend the wake of my friend's step-father. Mary Lois and I have been friends for almost thirty years and yesterday's journey, while not a test of that friendship, was certainly a testimony to it. It dawned on me about halfway to Roanoke, not many people would have driven in the storm; they would have used it as an excuse. That's okay too. It was a good excuse but couldn't trump friendship. And, had I not gone, I would have missed a wonderful opportunity to shake a hero's hand and touch history.

The wake was for Ted Carroll, one of the most interesting men you'd ever want to meet, but then, a good many men of his generation are truly interesting. Yet you'd never know it because they are also some of the most humble men you'd ever meet. Gentlemen of the old school and we're losing them at a rate of about three hundred per day. Soon, they will all be gone and we'll be left with only memories.

Ted's parents, in early 1920, moved to Bozeman, Montana under the Homestead act...how cool is that?! It's where Ted and his sister were born and where they spent their childhood. Ted worked on their 9,000 acre ranch and was an expert horseman and skier and it's a safe guess he was a pretty good cow wrangler as well. He also drove a stage coach between Ennis, Montana and Virginia City!

He was an Army Air Corps pilot, flying his B-17 Heavy Bomber out of Deenethorpe, England on 29 missions. After flying three more missions than required in his B-17, he flew several assignments in a P-51.

My information is from speaking to his family and from his obituary and if there are any errors, they are mine alone. This was taken directly from Ted's obit and, pretty much, says it all, "The best description of Ted's life was written on his first grade report card at Pass Creek School. "A dear good boy, doing better every day."

One of Ted's fighter pilot buddies came to the wake. He was using a walker but drove himself, was frail but stood tall, was quiet yet radiated strength. Mr. Bill Overstreet is a bona fide hero of World War II. He flew a P51C he named the "Berlin Express" and was in the 357th Fighter Group. He has many, fascinating stories he tells of both war and peace time; read about them here and see his plane here.

Last year, in December, Mr. Overstreet, originally from Clifton Forge, VA, was in Bedford, VA at the WWII National D-Day Memorial. He was there to meet with French Ambassador Pierre Vimont where Ambassador Vimont presented Bill Overstreet with the French Legion of Honor medal. Napoleon Bonaparte established the French Legion of Honor in 1802 and it's the highest decoration given in France. It's divided into five degrees, the highest being Chevalier or Knight and it was this Ambassador Vimont presented to Captain Overstreet. The medal cannot be given posthumously, or after death, and Mr. Overstreet was too frail to travel to France so France came to Mr. Overstreet by way of Bedford. The Roanoke Star-Sentinel and the Roanoke Times articles give more information and photos.

Ambassador Vimont presented The Legion of Honor to "a true hero, a legend indeed". Captain Overstreet flew more than 100 missions, was shot down three times, captured once and escaped but those are only the highlights. The most well known of Captain Overstreet's pilot exploits was when he flew his P51C Mustang, following a German ME109G Messerschmitt  through the skies of Paris. Literally. The German pilot, in trying to escape a persistent Captain Overstreet, flew underneath the Eiffel Tower! Captain Overstreet followed and the likeness is captured in The Berlin Express Arrives in Paris; the painting is signed by Captain Overstreet.

Mr. Overstreet, in true humbleness accepted the award on behalf of his fallen comrades, those who didn't come home but gave their lives so he and others could come home.

It was an opportunity of a lifetime, to meet this man, to shake his hand, to say "thank you for serving". What an absolute gift and blessing in my life to have both the opportunity and, now, the memory. When Mr. Overstreet received his medal, Virginia Governor Kaine sent a letter as did Senator Warner and Congressmen Perriello and Goodlatte and while that was nice, it was certainly the least any of them could do. They missed the opportunity of a lifetime and I'm sorry for them. I'm sorry they didn't realize the significance and importance of the event and chose to rearrange their terribly important schedules. I'm sorry they choose not to personally honor and shake the hand of a living legend when he received the highest honor France has to give. We don't have many living legends left.

Until next time,


Blessings ~ Captain William J. Overstreet, Jr. ~ heros ~ living legends ~ legends ~ French Legion of Honor ~