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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, April 30, 2010

My Marrakesh

 ~ the water seller ~

Book giveaway post April 29, 2010 post, the one just before this post.

If you've ever noticed, on my 'Cozy Visits' sidebar, there's a blog called "My Marrakesh". It's a beautiful blog, beautifully photographed and well written. It's the story of an American woman and her husband who purchased a home just outside Marrakesh and have set about restoring a guest cottage and the olive grove. It's long been a favorite read as Morocco is one of my favorite countries, if not my favorite country, to visit.

Perhaps, when most people hear the word "Africa" they think of the Congo or safaris or elephants, lions, giraffes and wildebeests. Not me. I think of Morocco and camels, Blue Men, Sahara Desert, Bedouins, Berbers and other nomadic people. Since I was a little girl, sitting in Sunday School and listening to stories of Moses leading his people out of Egypt, traveling toward the Promised Land but wandering in the desert for forty years or the story of Abram, his wife Sarai and how they traveled, pitching their tents or the many other similar stories, I have been absolutely enthralled with nomadic people as well as the Middle East and general area of North Africa. It amazes me how people lived, and do live, and it's fascinating to be a first hand witness to same.

In 1989 there was a Nomadic Peoples Convention but very little since then that I could find. I did find that in September 2007, the Declaration of Nomadic and Transhumant Pastoralists was written in Segovia, Spain. This document represents 50 tribes in Africa, Asia, American and Europe who gathered together to address common problems and, hopefully, find workable solutions. Nomadic people all over the world are finding themselves being pinched out of existence, or existence as they know it. They are, slowly, being forced to move to cities and give up their tents, their roving lifestyle, their very being. Governments are confiscating forest lands, deserts and other land masses and forcing the Nomadic people to move, move, move, always move. The concentration of political and economic power in the hands of a very few are forcing the rest ...of us... to, at the very least, compromise and, at the worst, to do the bidding of those elite. Sound familiar, yes? It begins with the least among us. Also, Nomadic Peoples Project has some great photos and good, but outdated, information.

A few years ago Dave asked if there was someplace I'd really, really like to see. Immediately, two places came to mind: Morocco and Mongolia. He grinned, turn around to his computer and said, "thanks." A couple of weeks later he asked, "how would you like to visit Marrakesh, stay in a riad in the medina, shop in the souks and stay in a Bedouin tent in the Sahara Desert?

DO WHAT?!!!  By the time I could get out the word YES!, my head was already bobbing like those little dogs you used to see in the back windows of cars. YES!! YES!!!! YES!!!!!!


He went on to tell me he'd been in touch with Sahara Trek and was in process of planning our trip. He and Luiza planned a trip so fabulous we still can scarce believe we were there...in Morocco, Marrakesh, Sahara Desert, Atlas Mountains and other, almost too, beautiful places. If you're ever in the position to go to Morocco, talk to Sahara Trek first. I pour over their website and have long wondered how I could possibly do their Crafts Tour.

Salem Aleikum - peace be unto you was the first phrase we learned and used it mightily while in Morocco. When Dave and I travel, we fit in as well as two pasty white Anglos are able -smile-. We both dress respectfully and I make sure all my body parts, save hands and face are covered and, usually, wear a scarf except when overheated. I figured Muslim men would rather see my bare head than see me sprawled on the street -smile- although never did I enter a holy place with my head uncovered! We wear tie shoes, no sandals, though that's just as much for safety as respect. I've seen what a donkey cart can do when the wheels run over a sandaled foot and it's not pretty. Remember the old saying, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and when traveling, it's worth even more!

Morocco has a colorful history, being owned by the sultans as well as being part of the Ottoman Empire and then various other, European, countries claiming bits and pieces if not the whole. The French influence is in evidence, to my eye at least, more than those other European countries and we heard Arabic, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages being spoken.
 ~ Dave, Julio, driver ~
Our primary contact in Marrakesh was Julio, an expat from Brazil, now living in Marrakesh and he was wonderful! He actually saved us from being stranded one night. Dave and I had gone out to eat and returned to the riad around 9 p.m., certainly not late, there were children still playing in the narrow streets of the medina. We stepped up to the door, grasped the handle and...nothing. We were locked out. We were struck dumbfounded! The woman who was responsible for making breakfast, cleaning, etc. had gone home for the evening something we couldn't remember her doing prior. We stood there, gathering our wits and wondering what to do when Julio strolled up and said, "Is there a problem?" If this hadn't been a Muslim country I would have fallen upon his neck in happiness! He took us to his home and made arrangements for us to be let in to our rooms and all within the hour; thank you, Julio! 
~ Abdul, our guide in Marrakesh ~
Abdul was our tour guide in Marrakesh and he was fabulous! We saw so much of the Medina and of the Djemma el Fna  and Abdul was so gracious and kind to us. He has a wife and a little boy and little girl and we compared notes on how we live. He was amazed I made my own bread..."but my own wife buys our bread!" he exclaimed. The fact I could sew, quilt, spin yarn, knit, garden, put up food and do all those things one does on a farm absolutely astounded him. He kept saying, "but you're not like other American women I've met." Dave would respond, "that's for certain!" -smile-
~ Djemma el Fna, the Square in Marrakesh ~
~ basket seller ~

~ carving tiles ~

~ gardens near Yves Saint Laurent's home ~
~ knife, at hand ~
~ tea seller, don't you love her apron?! ~

~ Berber village ~
Julio made it possible for us to visit a Berber family and this was, yet another, highlight of our trip. This kind woman graciously invited us into her village and home, gave us a tour, fed us refreshments and allowed us to take photos. Julio is trying to help build tourism in the outlaying areas and if our trip is any indication, he's doing wonders for both tourists and villagers. Well done, Julio!
~ Berber woman, her son, me ~
She was so, rightfully, proud of her new kitchen. In it she had a two-burner Coleman camp stove while in her old kitchen she had something similar to a kiva fireplace for cooking. She served recently pressed olive oil, freshly harvested honey, bread and always, always, always mint tea. Sublime! The various rooms of her home were centered around a wide square where a sapling was growing, I believe a fruit tree.
~ the central square in her home ~
 As we sat in her living room, making small talk between the interpreter and our hostess, like a big ejit I began to cry. Immediately, she noticed and wanted to know what was wrong. I nodded at her and grinned like a monkey. "Nothing," I replied, "I'm just happy." She grabbed me and gave me a huge hug and started chattering away like I could understand. And you know what? I believe I could. We were just two country women, one with a bit more money, one with a bit less money, but interested in the same things...taking care of our families, making sure everyone had food and clothing, being a good hostess. Maslow was right; it all comes down to food, shelter, clothing. After that we're greedy.

She invited me to stay and told Dave he could, "go to the city, get a good job and send money home." That's what her husband did and it was a workable solution for them. She told me she wanted me to stay because I "was useful. You can milk, bake bread, spin, sew and you dress like us. You stay," she said firmly.

Of course, I, nor Dave, stayed but continued on through the Atlas Mountains and adventures beyond. I'll tell you about those in my next post. Now that I'm re-visiting Morocco, I find I don't want the journey to end, quite yet. How about you?

Blessings ~ Sahara Trek ~ Luiza ~ Julio ~ Abdul ~ water sellers ~ tea sellers ~ drivers ~ Berbers ~ Morocco! ~
 
Dei Gratia,
Sandra

Thursday, April 29, 2010

INKLINGS Book Review, Giveaway

 ~ The Oxford Chronicles - INKLINGS ~
 Hello. My names is Sandra and I'm a reader.

A voracious reader. It's as if my eyesight won't last long and I have to cram in as many words and as much beauty as possible before the roll is called up yonder. Like C. S. Lewis once said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."

My hero! There have been words, just as true, spoken but these resonate within me; they chime delicately as if struck with a tuning fork.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I read a book that gently elevates me beyond the daily grind, transports me to another time and place and let's me revel in the well written word. Naturally, C. S. Lewis does that. So does Frances Mayes, although I always feel a bit of ennui when reading her books. She writes beautifully, tenderly, extremely rich books but she's not a Christian Believer and the sense of loss, of expectation not realized, of hopes not dared, of always wondering "why is all this not enough" are subtle, but there, in the background, faintly tainting what are otherwise, sublime pieces of work. I hate we're not going to share Heaven.

Yes, there are other such authors, perhaps too numerous to mention but the latest is Melanie M. Jeschke. She wrote INKLINGS, a fine and enjoyable read. It's listed as a Romance novel and, generally, I tend to stay away from romance novels. They tend to be a bit sticky sweet for me and I'm one of those women who would rather see love in action as opposed to hear about it. After all, talk is cheap.

Inklings is a bit sticky sweet but...but...it takes place in Oxford and there are tidbits of C. S. Lewis, Tolkien and the Inklings woven amongst the primary love story. American girl goes to Oxford and is woed by two very different men...and so forth. It's a good read, I enjoyed it but think dire romantics, love struck young women and those for whom life has not yet reared it's ugly head and struck will, especially, enjoy this book.


Intentions is her latest in The Oxford Chronicles.

Giveaway: If you'd like an opportunity to win Inklings, shipping included, please leave me a comment.

P. S. duh. A little more information should be forthcoming, doncha tink?  Today is Thursday so I'll take comments until Monday morning at 9 a.m. I'll contact you sometime Monday evening so make sure you leave your e-mail or blog information.

Blessings ~ great authors ~ giveaways ~ C. S. Lewis ~ Frances Mayes ~ Melanie M. Jeschke ~ books ~ good reads ~


Dei Gertia,
Sandra

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Been a Week...again!

 ~ Sam knows best ~
I've said it before and will say it again, many times...it's been a week! And, I'm grateful because it's allowed me to wander around the i-universe and work on my crochet rag rug. Which, I might add, is coming along beautifully and will soon, very soon, be finished...because I'm running out of material!
So far it's about thirty-six inches, perhaps a bit more, across, and will be about four feet across when finished. At this point in time, only God knows and it's still a mystery to me.

For those who have the capability, did you know you can download, free, music, photography and poetry readings from the Smithsonian? How wonderful! Now this is one way in which I think our tax dollars are being Very Well Spent.

Quite unlike this federal government contest in which Obama is giving $2,500 of our hard earned, easily spent, tax dollars via the "...Environmental Protection Agency to "encourage the public to create video advertisements that explain why federal regulations are "important to everyone" ". Gag. The videos must be posted onYouTube prior to May 17. Obama wants us to know how stupid we are but, oh wait, we elected him so that's an oxymoron how government regulations "touch almost every aspect of their lives and to promote how important those regulations are." You may say, "it's only $2,500" and that's true but it's not only the principal of the thing, it's also the brain washing aspect. While I do believe  know government touches almost every aspect of my life, I also believe know government regulations simply aren't that important. What they are is intrusive and give people jobs who, more than likely, couldn't make it in a corporate venue. Harsh words but both Dave and I have worked government jobs and they are the most soul sucking, mind numbing waste of hours possible. When, mid-morning, Dave asked for something to do because he was finished his work, he was told, "read a book the rest of the day." My co-workers schlepped around in bedroom slippers and gossiped about how they had trashed a customer tax payer...but in a nice way. In a time when unemployment is north of ten percent, the one "industry" that's been hiring is......can you guess? Yep, the federal government. According to the Americans for Tax Reform, more than 2.19 million private sector jobs were lost the first six months Obama was in office. It's a recession when you lose your job; it's a depression when I lose my job.

According to the Washington Times, personal income fell .04 percent the first six months Bush was in office. The first six months Obama has been in office, personal income fell 3.2 percent. To be fair, Bush did inherit a milder recession from Clinton, thus accounting for some of the difference. While per capita income rose during Bush's administration, it's already dropped almost 1 percent during Obama's first fifteen months. His September speech wherein he stated, "All in all, many middle-class families will see their incomes go up by about $3,000 because of the Recovery Act" has failed to happen. Or, have you noticed?

Who was it who said, "no matter how cynical I become, I find I can never keep up."

Dear God. Ain't it the truth?!

Back to the Smithsonian. The Folkways Collection is a series of 24 hour-long podcasts and include folks like Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Leadbelly or Langston Hughes and Allen Ginsberg as well as jazz -number 10 or blues -number 9. Most of these are due to the genius of Moses Asch who was an audio engineer and early on, recognized the need to capture and catalog the music of our country.

The Smithsonian also has copyright free down loadable photographs of such greats as 
The Healing of a Nation which is gripping, Cherry Blossoms so beautiful and appropriate for this time of year, First Ladies GownsAnsel Adams, Georgia O'Keefe and so much more to be found at the American Art Museum. The Smithsonian even has internships available!

Are you familiar with Elderhostel?  Since 1975, this not for profit has been providing educational tours for folks fifty and older. They are in all fifty states and ninety countries and you can white water raft or go on an dig in Turkey. Birding golf, tennis, photography, furniture making, do a home stay in Germany and more are available and, a lot of the time, you'll stay in a dormitory on a local college or university which only adds to the appeal, to my way of thinking. Although we've never been, we do know of many folks who have gone and they've loved their Elderhostel trip. Dave and I prefer traveling without a safety net but, more than likely, one day, we'll start going on tours, etc. Like, when I'm too frail to hump my own bags. Maybe.

Like auctions? Plug in your zip code at Auction Zip and find every auction within a thirty mile radius.

Debbie Macomber is hosting a contest and it's in conjunction with her new book, Hannah's List. This is a story about a man who receives a letter from his deceased wife in which she instructs him to re-marry. Not to unusual, perhaps, but she goes on to give him the names of three women she wants him to date. What would you do if you had a second chance? Tell Debbie and you might win $10,000!

She also wrote Knit Together: Discover God's Purpose for Your Life which is one of my all time favorites. Debbie is a great writer but better, to my way of thinking, she's so personable or comes across that way in her writing. You just know you'd love her the minute you met her and she is a great mentor as a Christian woman. Another one I've yet to read is One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity; it sounds fabulous!

That should give you some pleasantness in your life. Well, except for that blasted waste of government dollars! I'm toddling off to raise my leg up above my heart, take some more Motrin and wipe down with horse liniment. Okay, maybe it's not horse liniment, it's Soltice Rub but it's good stuff. It works and that's what I need until I can get to yet another doctor next week. I've been on crutches since Thursday and am not real sure what I've done to aggravate this old knee. Probably sitting around too much since surgery two weeks ago. When it rains, it pours, but there's always a rainbow. God promised and I'm holding Him to it; He said I could.

I bet you all are wishing I'd get well, get outside and get off this computer, eh? So am I, so am I...

Blessings ~ liniment ~ Elderhostel ~ American Art Museum ~ crutches ~ Debbie Macomber ~ rag rug ~ soup for supper ~

Dei Gratia,
Sandra

Monday, April 26, 2010

Puppies!

 ~ saying hello ~

~ up close and personal ~
~ the face off ~
~ the chase ~
~ kiss and make up ~
~ Perfect Buddies ~
~ whoa! there's "Mom" ~
~ puppy love, running full blast ~

So, that's my day; yours?

Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ the view from my window, daily, my cup overflows ~
 "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." ~ Galatians 6:2 ~

"Is thy cruse of comfort wasting?
Rise and share it with another,
And through all the years of famine,
It shall serve thee and thy brother.
Is thy burden hard and heavy?
Do thy steps drag heavily?
Help to bear thy brother's burden
God will bear both it and thee."

"I believe that if we could only see beforehand what it is that our heavenly Father means us to be-the soul beauty and perfection and glory, the glorious and lovely spiritual body that this soul is to dwell in through all eternity-if we could have a glimpse of this, we should not grudge all the trouble and pains He is taking with us now, to bring us up to that ideal, which is His thought of us. We know that it is God's way to work slowly, so we must not be surprised if He takes a great many years of discipline to turn a mortal being into an Immortal, glorious angel." ~ Annie Keary ~

"Lord! who Thy thousand years dost wait
To work the thousandth part
Of Thy vast plan, for us create
With zeal a patient heart."

"His time is forever, everywhere his place."

"The strongest of all warriors are these two--Time and Patience."

"With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise..." ~ I Peter 3:8-9 ~

Blessings ~ beauty, threatening to drag us under its glorious weight ~ poets ~ daughters of clergy ~ time ~ patience ~ Word ~

Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Friday, April 23, 2010

Upsetting News...

 ~ flying high and proud but for how long? ~
 First amendment rights being trampled upon...again.

Thank you to those who have remembered me in prayer; doctor released me today after saying the pathology report came back "benign". Nos gratias Dieum!


Blessings ~ USA, one nation under God... ~ good medical report ~

Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My New Hero...

 Harold Estes
 ~ Mr. Estes, in the Hawaiian print shirt ~
 "My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year. People meeting me for the first time don't believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert.

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly before, during and after WW II retiring as a Master Chief Bos'n Mate. Now I live in a "rest home" located on the western end of Pearl Harbor , allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country.

One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man.

So here goes.

I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do, but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish.

I can't figure out what country you are the president of.  You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like:

  " We're no longer a Christian nation"
  " America is arrogant" - (Your wife even announced to the world,"America is mean-spirited." Please tell her to try preaching that nonsense to 23 generations of our war dead buried all over the globe who
died for no other reason than to free a whole lot of strangers from tyranny and hopelessness.)

I'd say shame on the both of you, but I don't think you like America, nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do, for the obvious gifts this country has given you. To be without shame or
gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.

After 9/11 you said," America hasn't lived up to her ideals."

Which ones did you mean? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British? Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man, that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War? I hope you didn't mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of fellas I knew personally died for in WWII, because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around, because we stand for freedom.

I don't think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination. You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.

Take a little advice from a very old geezer, young man.

Shape up and start acting like an American. If you don't, I'll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue . You were elected to lead not to bow, apologize and kiss the
hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat their people like slaves.

And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don't want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts, who was putting up a fight? You don't mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don't want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are, terrorists.

One more thing. I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life, but you're the Commander-in-Chief now, son. Do your job. When your battle-hardened
field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him. But if you're not in this fight to win, then get out. The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political
strategy you're thinking of.

You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president. You're not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy. That's not our greatest threat. Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now.
 
And I sure as hell don't want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle...

Sincerely,
Harold B. Estes"

Blessings ~ men, and women, who aren't afraid to speak the truth as they see it ~ Harold B. Estes ~ our military ~

Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Extraordinarily Ordinary

 ~ spring, it's sprung ~
That's me, extraordinarily ordinary. I made peace, a couple a three decades ago, that I'd never be the prettiest, nor the ugliest; the smartest, nor the dumbest; the thinnest, nor the fattest; the wealthiest, nor the poorest; the shortest, nor the tallest; the best, nor the worst. In fact, I'm just somewhere in the middle of billions of people on God's good earth and happy to be here. When I figured out it wasn't my peace for which I was searching nor needed, I became a much happier person. It's God's peace, along with His grace, mercy, love and Christ's salvation, that keeps my feet firmly planted on terra firma with my head stretching toward the clouds in the heavens.

One thing I am is a child of God and that's what gives me peace when Uncle Screwtape is giving his nasty advice to Wormwood and, in turn, Wormwood is knocking at my door. The dual doors, actually, of my heart and mind. BTW, if you've not read The Screwtape Letters, you really should as it gives enormous insight on how, exactly, satan works his ill will in your life and mine. C. S. Lewis dedicated The Screwtape Letters to his good friend and fellow Inkling, J. R. R. Tolkien whom you may know as author of the Lord of the Rings series.

I'm not sure, perxactly, what lead me on that tangent because this is, essentially, a post of information. Oh wait. That's exactly what I've started with...information. Silly me!

Yes, I'm still wandering around the i-universe and finding things of delight, wonder and information with which to amaze and stagger you. Interested yet?

One site I found is from OH State College of Medicine and is a lengthy self-administered test of cognitive neurology to assist in determining dementia and Alzheimer's. It takes about fifteen minutes and is best if you download, find a quiet spot and get cracking. I've not taken the test as I'm waiting on other test results and am finding, today at least, I can focus on only one test at a time. No, you can't sue me or anyone else if you don't like the test results. Just get a grip and try to do better; that's all any of us can do.

There's a Baby Conference in Houston July 8-10 and looks to be Amazing! If you've read my blog any time atall, you know how Pro-Family I am and how much I believe families should strive to strengthen their members, their unit and their impact upon the world. Not by any great shakes either; simply by being a Christian light in a dark and frosty world.

Jim Bob and Michelle Dugger are going to be key note speakers and Michelle is hostessing a ladies tea that is just about sold out. The Dugger's are those folks who have had, and do parent, nineteen children! I dare say they didn't know, all those many years ago, they would find themselves "for such a time as this" being witnesses to the beauty of children and the family. They live, debt free, in Arkansas in a huge house they built and have their own reality television show which I saw once. It was an interesting show but I'm just not that much into television nor reality shows; my life is just about all the reality I can handle! -smile- I do admire them and marvel at their family; I also wish them well and look forward to seeing them beyond the veil.

The Noa's in Washington have a link to Joyfully At Home who has a give-away. She's giving away a DVD collection of her father's What He Must Be conference. I sure wish my Daddy had had these DVD's when I was a much younger woman! If you have a daughter, sister, niece or friend who is to be married, do two things...sign up for this giveaway and buy the DVD collection. Come to think of it, I think anyone, male or female, would benefit from What He Must Be. It used to be, boys learned from their fathers how to be Godly men and girls learned from their mothers how to be Godly women. That's still true but, unfortunately, the "Godly" part has been left out.

Monsanto. Ah yes, Monsanto. I have a love hate relationship with Monsanto. I love to hate them. Not fair, I know but, I'm not going into my anti-Monsanto politics now. What I do want to do is tell you about Monsanto's Farm Mom of the year. No, wait, I'm not telling you; if you want to know, look here. I'm funny about which dogs I lie down with so won't be applying; that and I'm not a Mom.

So, you consider yourself a Democrat, Republican, Independent or something else? Take this Political Quiz and amuse and amaze yourself. I'm all for self-government and feel the less government the better. But then, I'm not a fifth generation welfare check endorser nor do I believe the government knows what's best for me. Heck, most of those happy ejits don't even know what's best for them!

Jesus, the Name above all names.

Manhatten Declaration, support marriage.

Docker's advertisement, wear the pants.

Want to turn your blog into a book? Blog2Print

Slow Cloth - a lot like slow living or slow cooking or slow parenting or...you get the drift. I am amused at folks who have come up with "slow...". I am also grateful to them because there are gazillions of folks who don't do anything, much, slow. I'm not one of 'em. Generally, I'm not in a hurry nor in a rush and enjoy living my life that way. Right now, I've got a pan of shortbread in the oven and when that one comes out, will have another ready to bake. I'm doing a marathon baking so I'll have plenty of shortbread to take to folks who need a bit of encouragement or thanks. We ate pork chops, rice and brussel sprouts last night for supper -not dinner because as any farmer knows, dinner is lunch- and will eat something slow tonight as well. I've talked for years about joy in the journey and Lainie calls it "joy in the process"; same thing, just said differently.

For me, slow anything is exactly like Christianity. We live in the moment, preparing for eternity or, as Alistair Begg says, "we live between the now and the not yet."

"Every day you must do something that frightens you." Eleanor Roosevelt

Blessings ~ encouragement ~ slow ~ dinner and supper ~ marriage and children, in that order ~ the Dugger's ~ The Screwtape Letters ~
 
Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Monday, April 19, 2010

Let's

 ~ first attempt using cotton strips ~
crochet some chair pads and a rag rug!

Some time ago, at a flea market, I bought a couple of full thirty gallon bags of fabric end rolls of various colors, patterns, sizes and fabrics. Both bags cost $2 so I gave my quilting bee buddies first choice pick. After they chose what they wanted, I was still left with one full thirty gallon bag and half of the second bag was full as well. I've been using some of the strips to weave rag rugs but decided I'd like to crochet some chair pads and a rag rug. Several decades ago, the Mother of Appalachian Feet crocheted a rag rug and I've always remember it for its simple, hand crafted, home made beauty. Then, a while back, at an auction a pink and white circular rag rug sold for $150 but I didn't get it because...my brain wasn't working, that must be it! It was a bargain and was somewhere between five and six feet in diameter. Can you just imagine the love that went into each and every stitch?! 
 ~ back side of first chair pad ~
So, since I've been on the mend last week, and will continue to stay low and close to home this week, I decided it's a jolly good time to crochet some chair pads. I've known people to use plastic shopping bags, a la wally world or grocery store, and they work well, especially on a porch where they are, at least, partially protected. Others will purchase sheets, tablecloths, tee shirts or other clothing at thrift stores, cut them into strips and crochet into pads, rugs, etc but I used fabric end rolls.

Tools:
~ size J metal crochet hook
~ scissors
~ rags cut into one-half inch to one inch strips. If the fabric is cotton, I tend to cut closer to one-half inch strips but if the fabric is nylon or poly, the strips are cut closer to one inch.


It's easy enough to see I'm self taught at crochet and virtually everything I do is a variation of the chain stitch. For those of you who do know how to crochet, Leslie, you're thinking, "well, duh!"  -smile- When I taught myself to knit, more than two decades ago, the language seemed familiar and, even though I'm not a great knitter, I took to it like a duck to water. When I tried to teach myself how to crochet, the language was more difficult and didn't make sense so I've used what I know and have had a modicum of success. Like I said, for those of you who truly know how to crochet, you'll, possibly, be appalled at my stitches. Yet, it works for me or perhaps I've learned how to tamper down those pesky first child perfection tendencies.

There are a gazillion places in the i-universe that give beautifully detailed crochet directions. Lion Brand is one of my favorite places as well as love their yarns; one day, I'd love to visit their NYC store.

The first photo shows my first attempt and it's rather pitiful. The fabrics are cottons, cut into about one inch strips and way too, physically, demanding for my hands and, possibly, for the crochet hook I used. I started out by chain stitching five stitches and then hooking the first stitch into the last stitch on the needle and making a circle. That was the start of my circular chair pad where things started off badly and got worse rather quickly.

Perhaps you can see the rather poochy middle; it reminds me of a Turkish squash only not as pretty. Although when you're sitting on the chair pad, it doesn't feel poochy and still provides some warmth and comfort from sitting upon a bare seat. I think I should have done a double crochet stitch but, in fact, did a half double or some forlorn variation thereof. The result was a "crown" type affair that will, assuredly, wear down after some use. Yep, you're reading me right...I'm not ripping it out and re-doing it.

About every four to six stitches, I'd hook an extra chain stitch to give the circular size some room to grow and this seemed to work well. Something else I did differently from other folks is, I'd start by crocheting into the front of the stitch but the second stitch I'd go into the back of the stitch. This seemed to keep the edges from rolling, or curling, up and into themselves. Every other stitch would be either the front OR the back...does that make sense?

On the back side, you can see the joined ends were not woven or crocheted in as I worked up the chair pad. Big mistake. Big, messy mistake. Big, messy mistake that took a lot more time to fix than it would have taken to do right the first time mistake and still looked like a train wreck when finished mistake. Or well, live and learn, eh?
~ second chair pad, front ~
~ second chair pad, back ~
The second attempt was a, trifle, more successful than the first. At least, the strips were cut into one-half inch strips and much, much easier to crochet. The pad started with five chain stitches, joined to make a circle and then I started with double crochet stitches which made a huge difference in both ease of crochet and in the way the pad lays flat with no "crown" in the center. Unfortunately, you can see I haven't quite learned about weaving in my ends and the back is a hodgepodge of raw ends sticking up.

There is a method of connecting the strips wherein two ends are placed together and a slice is cut into the middle but about one inch from the top. The same thing, written differently, is found here. Other people, using the sewing machine, sew the ends together but I make a knot and tug it tightly to join two strips of fabric. This works especially well with the nylon and polyester fabrics and my concerns about the two ends coming "un-done" or ripping out are nullified.

~ beginning crochet rag rug, front ~
~ crochet rag rug, back ~
 This is the beginning of the crochet rag rug and it looks much, much better than the pitiful chair pads. I've learned to weave in my raw, joined edges and this gives the rug a much more finished look as you can see in the second photo. The woven pieces are added along the edge of the row as opposed to left sticking up and being woven in later.

The gray material strip, top photo and top right of the photo, is where I'm getting ready to either add some more gray stripes or another color.

Another thing I did differently is for one round, I believe pink, I did an extra chain stitch on each and every stitch and this gave some room to grow or, at the very least, room to lie flat. These fabrics are a combination of cotton knits -green, pink, gray tee shirt type material- and nylon -beige middle- and I'm getting ready to add another row of nylon in a yellow color. Thus far, I've not added any patterns and am not sure I will add patterns. I'm rather liking the solid tones of color and was really amazed at how the gray made the pink POP! The gray is a lot prettier in the rug than on the roll. I've still got white and yellow but not sure if they are cotton knits or nylons and also not sure if there are other colors; I still have to dig deep in the trash bags.

You've heard of quilting bees of old and there was good reason. Many women, working together, could finish many quilts in a weekend or week.

Barn looms were huge and it would take two women to dress the loom and it would take them a day, even longer, depending upon how much thread they had.

From ancient times, women have gathered to share their work, share their stories, share their food and it's true...many hands do make light work. It's also easier to learn, visually, when one has a guide and, perhaps more importantly, it's easier to learn from someone else's mistakes. I've found this to be true with my little adventure with crocheting rag chair pads and rug. I would have saved time, effort, energy and materials had I had someone to show me how to do the initial stitches, weave in ends, etc. But that's okay. My real point is to encourage you to t-r-y something new and don't let your fear of not getting it right stop you from t-r-y-i-n-g. At the very least, try.

There are those who wouldn't have shown the roughly made two first chair pads. There are those who would rip both out and start over. Life is a learning process and I'm finding I'm enjoying the journey more when I'm not so focused on the perfection or rightness of the product. When I'm focused on learning, the enJOYment of the process gives my life richness and grace and that, in turn, makes me grateful.


Blessings ~ learning ~ letting go of fear ~ adventure in small, and large, doses ~ chair pads ~ time for the journey ~ rag rugs ~ sharing even though it's not perfect ~
 
Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Sunday, April 18, 2010

 ~ Amen! ~
 "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord." ~ Psalms 150:6 ~

"As long as rivers shall run down to the sea, or shadows touch the mountain slopes, or stars graze in the vault of heaven, so long shall your honour, your name, your praises endure." ~ Virgil ~

"Take away, O Lord, the veil of my heart while I read the scriptures. Blessed art thou, O Lord: O teach me thy statures! Give me a word, O Word of the Father: touch my heart: enlighten the understandings of my heart: open my lips and fill them with thy praise." ~ Bishop Lancelot Andrewes ~


"O to continue to drink deep of the streams of the great salvation, until I wholly lose the thirst for the passing things of earth, to live watching for my Lord, to b wide awake when he comes, to open to him quickly and enjoy his likeness to the full." ~ Ann Griffiths ~

"I have loved Thee with two loves-
a selfish love and a love that is worthy of Thee.
As for the love which is selfish,
Therein I occupy myself with Thee, 
to the exclusion of all others.
But in the love which is worthy of Thee,
Thou does raise the veil that I may see Thee.
Yet is the priase not mine in this or that,
But that priase is to Thee in both that and this."
~ Rabi'a ~


"Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!" ~ Philippians 3:1 ~


 Blessings ~ a beautiful day ~ sunshine ~ quiet ~ solitude ~ companionship ~  church services ~

Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Terroir, Terruno, Terre

 ~ tiny little signs of spring ~
The French word for sense of place is terroir and the Spanish word terruno means native land or homeland and the English word terre means land. Thank you to those who read my blog with any amount of frequency so you know my sense of place is deeply rooted in Thistle Cove Farm, here in these southern Appalachian Mountains settled by my kin so many generations ago. I've been doing a massive amount of holding down the porch furniture this week and it's likely to continue through next week. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I've been given the gift of time and I've used it to due advantage by catching up on my reading, magazines and books, as well as skimming through the i-universe. Just take some free advice...never, ever say "I'd love a week in bed so I could sleep" or any such silly thing. You just might get it but at what cost?

I have been crocheting some chair pads and have started on a rag, circular rug. Monday, I'll do a tutorial, God willing and the creek don't rise as I used to hear.


Some things of, possible, interest and fun include ---

True-Value Paint has a quiz, What's Your Color? and what does it mean about you. It appears yellow is my color and "you are quite the powerful thinker. It's this talent that allows you to overcome a plethora of great obstacles. Luckily, this doesn't affect your ego and you give off a pretty easy-going appearance. You enjoy the finer things in life and also have an attraction to art. If you can help it, you try not to rock the boat. But you also can't stop yourself from searching for new ideas, methods or styles."  Okay, this is, for the most part, true except for the boat rocking part. I don't hesitate to rock the boat especially when the boat is full of folks who want to take the easy way out, are timid about making decisions, would rather stand in place or, worse, stagnate. Remember the Gen. Patton quote from Sunday? Yeah, he nailed it!

Benjamin Moore Paint has released their 2011 Color Trends in four categories: The Farm, Order, Escape and Tribe. Design Hole says it best so look there and see if you like and/or agree.

Career Path gives career advice based upon color choice.I haven't a clue what career advice they gave me because it took forbloddyever to download and I finally hit the close button.

What's your type? No, really...what's your type? Mine is...hmmmm. Again with the download problems so haven't a clue. Let me know if it works for you.

OHMYGOSH! Look at this but not with a hot drink in your hand nor while drinking alcohol nor while on a piece of exercise equipment. You Are Warned - Be Careful.

What's your Interior Style? Mine is Sleek New Earth, "you love the outdoors and bring them into your living environment. You consider the technological side of your space. You bring trends that compliment your lifestyle into your home." Um, not so much, no. Unless you mean the wretched puppies bringing tree branches into the house to use as chew toys or the cats bringing mice into the house as gifties for Mom. Or, the wretched puppies completely trashing my chaise lounge on the back porch. Although, it was funny when, after they totally ripped out the entire seat cushion, they went to lie down and fell on the porch. The nasty little beggers had the gall to look at me like I'd done something! Anyway, there's really nothing sleek nor new about this ole farmhouse and that's just the way I like it, uh huh, uh huh.

How About Orange? is a great blog and is where I found the above time wasters stuff.

You know I like Sew, Mama, Sew and have spent some quality time perusing their site.

Posy Gets Cozy is a, dare I say it...cozy site and I always leave feeling I've visited a friend I've not yet met. 

KC Willis is a fabulous artist; I look forward to meeting her one day. One of my favorite posts is entitled Jonah Days about being in the belly of the whale. This past week I was in the belly of the beast because I had to have surgery. Not a nice feeling, frightening actually, and it seems to me the more anyone says something, the less likely it is to be true. As in, "we care about your health". Okay, so how about less talk, more action, please but not the kind of action where you gave me the exact meds that give me allergic reactions.

I hear ning is going to start charging for their on-line groups or communities. Bummer.

Blog Frog is, I think, similar to ning but without the price tag; at least, not yet. I found it via Tip Junkie, another fun site but there's a lot of stuff to peruse so, usually, I skim. Actually, now that I'm reading a trifle more deeply, Blog Frog is centered around your blog so it seems it's similar to a, new, marketing tool for your blog...? Whatever. The meds are kicking in so it's difficult for me to care much right now.

So, there you have it. A bunch of stuff. Some useful, some fun, some a sheer waste of time. Spring, it's sprung. About time, I'd say.


Blessings - home again, home again ~ i-universe~- flowers ~ my sense of place ~ home ~


Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Friday, April 16, 2010

Go Soak Your Head

  ~ split rail fence, Bath County, VA ~
Last month, Aunt Esther and I went to the annual Pickens Pancake Breakfast otherwise known as the WV Maple Syrup Festival. It's our tradition and even at 91, Aunt Esther insists upon going, meeting and greeting, eating her fair share of pancakes, sausage, coffee and, generally, being Queen Bee. As the oldest person there, she's entitled. While we did eat breakfast at the old school, now community center and VFW Hall, we didn't get to the sugar camp this year, even so, the weather was beeeyouuutifulll! The best it's been in many a year and a record crowd in attendance. At least it seemed a record crowd.
~ Bath County, VA ~
But, I'm getting ahead of myself. For a change of pace this year, I decided to take the long way home and sneak in an extra night prior to Pickens. Bath County, VA is as full of history and character as any in our Commonwealth and the Inn at Grist Mill Square is a delightful place both to stay and eat. When I arrived, I was directed to a parking space front and center and told, "we're not that booked, so take a front row parking place." Great!

I went to the front desk and offered my credit card. The woman looked at me curiously and said, "Oh, no need to bother with that now. We'll settle all that when you leave tomorrow morning." Uh, sure!

I was given the Silo Room and yes, it's the old round silo and beautifully and simply decorated. The fireplace was already laid and ready for a lighted match with additional fire wood in the nearby basket.
 ~ a cozy fire in the Silo Room ~
The advertised room rate was for two people but, since I was solo, they halved the price. Again, great and excellent marketing as well. These are people who understand it's best to sell a room at half price than not sell it at full price. A lesson some hoteliers would do well to learn.
 ~ breakfast, prettily delivered ~
 The next morning, breakfast was delivered in a cloth covered basket and consisted of croissant, jam, butter, coffee in a carafe with sugar and cream and a small orange juice. Simple in content and size but plenty enough and I'm sure the presentation and locale added to the delicious factor. BTW, there were enough ashes and a couple of pieces of firewood left over so I had another small, but adequate, fire as I broke my fast. Absolutely delightful!
 ~ Jefferson Pools ~
 The reason I stayed at the Inn at Grist Mill Square was its close proximity to the Jefferson Pools, about a mile down the road. The Jefferson Pools have been restoring weary travelers since before Thomas Jefferson came and waxed poetical about the restorative and therapeutic value of the warm waters.
 ~ the womens bath ~
 The bath for men, looks much like the bath for women, but was established some years earlier in 1761 when a circular building was built but for men only. The ladies voices raised in protest and in 1836 a separate building was built and opened for the ladies.

The men's bath holds approximately 40,000 gallons of water that is, naturally, bubbling up from the ground at 98 degrees F. All buildings, pretty much, look quite the same now as then. When sections need to be replaced, they are replaced with new materials so there's a cobbled together effect that's charming and even quaint and are renown as the oldest spa structure in the USA.

The women's bath is a bit larger than the men's bath, holds more water, is about four feet deep and the water is so clear, it's easy to see the stones at the bottom of the pool. With the gazebo roof, during winter snows, it's possible to lie in the warm waters with snow flakes drifting round about.

 ~ mineral content of the warm waters ~
There may be some who don't believe in the therapeutic benefits of a warm, mineral water soak; I am not one. Truly, I believe in the restorative benefits and would love to live close enough to warm, mineral waters so I could soak daily. In talking with our vet, Dr. Anne, she told us the connective tissue in our bodies contains sulphur and it is this reason the warm, mineral bath water is so restorative. The mineral water contains sulfates, and other minerals, that are both beneficial and therapeutic. A soak in these waters, a mere $17 for one hour, left me feeling relaxed, flexible, calm and a general feeling of all round "all's right with my world". The flexible part is what amazed me. Some decades ago, I sustained an injury to my right knee and destroyed the ligaments and others bits that hold the knee together. When I move my knee, it sounds, and feels, like gravel and, most times, the knee cannot be bent. After a soak, the knee not only bent but without pain, something that's not happened since the late 1960's!
~ women's bath ~
If you suffer from fibromyalgia or other auto-immune connective joint tissue pain, you really should consider a warm soak in some mineral waters. Thomas Jefferson suffered from what he called, "rheumatism" and he found the waters to be thoroughly beneficial.I'm sure there are doctors who would say these warm, mineral waters have no such restorative value but I'm also sure "there are more things, Horatio, in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy" as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5.

Go soak your head; there are warm, hot even, mineral baths the world over and, I promise, you won't regret the soak.

Blessings ~ Inn at Grist Mill Square ~ Jefferson Pools ~ warm, mineral waters the world over ~  a cozy fire ~ breakfast in a basket ~ maple syrup festival ~ Pickens Pancake Breakfast ~ Aunt Esther ~

Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ the sheep of my pasture ~
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." ~ John 10:11 ~

"Once we roared like lions for liberty, now we bleat like sheep for security! The solution for America's problem is not in terms of big government, but it is in big men over whom nobody stands in control but God." ~ Norman Vincent Peale ~

"The King of love my shepherd is.
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am his,
And he is mine forever."

 "We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me or get out of my way."
~ General George S. Patton

"To create man was a quaint and original idea, but to add sheep was tautology." ~ Mark Twain ~

Blessings ~ Sabbath, a mini vacation every week ~ restful sleep ~ clean air ~ beautiful sky ~ the sun ~ the Son ~ today, a beautiful day for my birthday, thank you God ~

Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sheep Shearing 2010

 ~ Derrick Spangler, Sheep Wrangler Extraordinaire ~
Mercy! Sheep Shearing Day at Thistle Cove Farm is over for another year. Derrick did himself proud and my sheep are now nekkid. Daniel and Tom helped with shearing, parking and any other chore thrown at them and did it all with grace and good humor. God blessed us with some of the Most Perfectly Beautiful weather we've ever had - warm, sunny, slight breeze and folks who truly appreciated the day in its entirety. I never heard a cross word but did hear some wonderful music and song as played by Charlie and his children, David and Emily.
~ Charlie, David and Emily playing heart rendering gospel and bluegrass ~
 ~ hand crafted dulcimers by Charlie Butcher ~
Charlie makes hand crafted traditional mountain dulcimers as well as mandolins and fiddles. The abalone shell shows what he uses for fret decoration and he has slabs of wood showing how he begins with the raw product. People are fascinated when they understand Charlie uses wood from his Daddy's farm and ends up with such a beautiful and sweet sounding instrument.
Leslie, Mary and Alice skirted again this year and Pat came and helped as well. Skirting isn't a difficult job and there are some...Leslie, Mary, Alice and myself...who don't think it a dirty job but we enjoy a good, clean smelling fleece. The fleeces weren't as clean as I'd like this year; some had a fair amount of VM, or vegetable matter, in them but it was a harsh winter and I've fed hay since November but the VM washes out quite nicely so there's no real harm done.
~ Leslie, Alice and Cassie skirting a Shetland fleece ~
~ Mary Martin's baskets ~
Mary Martin makes beautiful, ole timey baskets and her Daddy was a basket maker so she continues the family tradition. She even has three baskets her Daddy made for her and, rightfully, prizes them greatly.
 ~ Mary showing how she makes a basket ~
So many folks on this day, are carrying on family traditions. Leslie has one of her grandmother's spinning wheels, Gaynell comes from a family of quilters, Charlie has many musicians in his family and Bud has horse thieves in his family.
 ~ Gaynell's beautiful hand crafted quilts ~

Gotcha! You weren't really paying close attention, now were you? -smile-. Bud has family who have always had horses and he's continued the tradition with his own horses plus he's a farrier and blacksmith.
~ Bud Thompson, Story Teller Extraordinaire, Blacksmith Farrier ~

 ~ Leslie's lovely offerings from her shop, Greenberry House ~
~ home made food! ~
Has the food been mentioned? No, well...home made...for those who eat junk or fast food, home made food means food that was, lovingly, prepared at home by women who know how to cook. Judy made hot apple, peach and cherry pies, sausage biscuits, muffins of several varieties and other good things. 
~ Cove Community food table ~
Members of the Cove Community Association prepared ham biscuits and other delights to sell with the proceeds going toward educational programs. Their sign reads "250 years of agriculture" and the rest of the story is, all of those 250 years have included several of the same families. Our little valley has a rich agricultural history and we're, rightfully, proud of our history.
 ~ me, earlier in the week ~ 
Dave and I are grateful to each and every one who came and made this such a perfect day. It takes such an enormous amount of work to get the farm ready for Sheep Shearing Day but days like today make it all worthwhile. I met some wonderful folks - Blue Moon Mama and Nora come immediately to mind ~ as well as others from the Richmond, VA area, WV, NY, NC and others and loved, loved, loved having you all visit. I wanted to throw up some photos and blog update, today, on Sheep Shearing Day. Tomorrow is Sabbath Keeping and needed to get everything lined up in place. I'm exhausted, totally, but wanted you who came today to know words simply cannot express the sheer joy you brought into my life with the gift of your presence. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you and God's richest blessings on you, yours and the work of your hands and hearts!

Blessings ~ another beautifully perfect day at Thistle Cove Farm ~ nekkid sheep ~ people who enjoyed the day ~ family ~ friends ~ happy dogs who are totally crashed out, snores loud and deep ~
 
Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm,
Sandra