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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.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Grow Your Blog Party!

Remember Vicki at 2 Bags Full? Earlier this year she had a Grow Your Blog Party and invited everyone! It was a ton of fun, especially at a time of year, January, that was fairly dismal, weather wise, for a lot of us. More than 400 international bloggers participated and yes, you do have to have a's called a Grow Your Blog Party smile.

She's doing it again...January 25 so to sign up, click here then carefully read the rules. You must go to this page and sign up; if you comment on any other post, it's not counted as signing up. It's nice of you to comment but in order to participate, you must sign up here.

~ Rules ~

~ You must have a blog and the party is open to all bloggers, around the world.
~ Share the badge on your blog. You'll find the html code on a sidebar here.
~ To give...or not to give...prizes. It's your choice...perhaps overseas prizes (no matter which direction they're going) could be magazines or other flat items while domestic prizes could be something a tad more elaborate. It's your choice.
~ If you do give prizes, please mail them by 15 February.
~ The evening of 24 January, put up your GROW YOUR BLOG post and focus on who you are as a blogger. If you're an artist, talk about your art and show pictures but this is not an opportunity to boost sales so let that be on your side bar. You must have a GYB post in order to participate; if you don't have a GYB post, your name/blog will be deleted from Vicki's participant's list.
~ Give your name, have a picture of yourself...hard one for me, I usually don't have photos of myself...but I will for Vicki!

Vicki has more information listed, click here, and please, if you're able, participate. It's tons of fun and yes, I'm participating and will give away be listed on my GYB post on 24 January.

Blessings ~ Vicki ~ Grow Your Blog Party ~ Karen Valentine, Vicki's go to blog mensa ~ 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chat, Chat, Chatting

~ road across the mountain ~
It's time for Patrice, Everyday Ruralty, and Chat Number 115. Here are her questions and my answers...enjoy! (hopefully...)

1. Do you have any special plans for this week? Yes, but it's a secret and I can't tell...yet.

2. What's the most relaxing thing you do? A soak in a deep tub of hot water. Dave was always a shower man and I'm a tub kinda gal, although, since his death, I'm generally too time crunched to do other than take a shower. Last week, I filled up the Whirlpool with hot water and Epsom salts, lowered my achy bones into it and soaked until it turned cold...bliss! Then, I put on my flannel night gown, took two aspirin and went to bed...bliss!
~ watchful guinea ~
3. Have you ever worn a wig? I am ashamed to say, yes. When I was in high school I used my hard earned money to buy (what I know now) was a really cheap looking blonde wig. I wore the dratted thing to church, one time, and some kind souls gave me a compliment (stars in their crown, to be sure!). Ah me, I thought it was purty when all it was, was pretty stupid looking. No, I haven't a clue what happened to it; maybe someone used it for Halloween...?

4. Do you have an office or special place to use your computer? Yes, in the living room, beside the window looking down the valley, same view in my header photo. The wood stove, television and a card table are also in this room; the card table used for projects, crafts, quilting, etc. I'm not much on "just" watching television, I need to be doing something else.
~ white tail deer ~
5. What are your favorite kind of socks? Wool in colder temps and cotton in warmer temps; I wear what's appropriate for the season and foot wear.

Blessings ~ Patrice ~ wool socks ~ cotton socks ~ soaks in a deep tub of hot water ~ secrets ~ view from my window ~ 

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Class of 2000

~ l to r, JW, Dustin, Daddy, Steve ~
Fourteen years ago, my oldest nephew was graduated from high school. I've been de-cluttering and throwing away a bunch of stuff and found his valedictorian address:

"The class of 2000! Whether we are the last class of the 20th century, or the first class of the 21st century, it doesn't really matter. What really matters is the experiences we've shared -- the prom, skip day, growing up together, making mistakes, fighting, forgiving, and fighting again and in the end, being there for each other. The kind of friendship I believe we have here at the Academy is much like the one portrayed in this story of a WWI soldier.

He asked his officer if he might go out into the "No Man's Land" between the trenches to bring in one of his comrades who lay grievously wounded. "You can go," said the officer, but it's not worth it. Your friend is probably killed and you will throw your own life away." But the man went. Somehow he managed to get to his friend, hoist him onto his shoulder, and bring him back to the trenches. The two of them tumbled in together and lay in the trench bottom. The officer looked very tenderly on the would-be rescuer, and then he said, "I told you it wouldn't be worth it. Your friend is dead and you are mortally wounded."
"It was worth it, though, sir," he said.
"How do you mean, 'worth it'? I tell you your friend is dead."
"Yes, sir," the boy answered, "but it was worth it, because when I got to him he was still alive, and he said to me, 'Jim, I knew you'd come.'"

That's the kind of friends we of the class of 2000 time of real need we are there for each other. I am proud to be a part of Amelia Academy's class of 2000 and of the friendships I've made over the years. After all, friendship is one of the foundations of life. 

We are now going our separate directions -- some to further our education, others to the job market and some are still undecided about immediate plans. But the skills we've developed making friends here are the Academy have laid a good foundation for making friends wherever we go. The ability to make new friends is as important as keeping contact with old friends.

How do you know real friends? They are the ones who, when you make a fool of yourself, don't think you've done a permanent job. It has been said that false friends are like a shadow, keeping close to us while we walk in the sunshine, but leaving us when we cross into the shade. Oscar Wilde, however, said a true friend always stabs you in the front. I guess I have felt a few of those stabs from time to time. chuckle

Before long we will be in "the real world", as our parents and teachers call it. It is a new beginning--an exciting beginning! It is a time of new opportunities and of exciting adventures. This is the time we have looked forward to and we are ready -- I think! While there will be moments of doubt, and the phrase 9 to 5 will take on a new meaning, life is meant to be lived and our lives are out ahead just waiting for us!

As hard as it might seem right now, with time, we may even wish we were back at good old Amelia Academy. And that's one of the special features of our school. We can come back when we want to and when we need to and know that we are always welcome.

I would like to thank all of our teachers and staff at the Academy for helping me when I needed help the most. I would like to thank my parents and grandparents for all of their hard work enabling me to attend the Academy and also for their support and encouragement.

WOW, the class of 2000! In just a few moments we will be alumni. I trust that we will always be friends. Make plans now to attend our first class reunion! But until then, remember that friendship is on of the foundations of life, whether a student, or a part of "the real world!" 

I'm proud of both my nephews; both are gainfully employed and one is expecting his first child. One served in the US Air force, one serves his community and both of them enjoy a well deserved good name. Both of them are the kind of friend mentioned in the text above; both of them are the kind of men that make families proud. 

Blessings ~ two excellent nephews ~ friendships ~ friends ~make new friends but keep the old. one is silver, the other is gold ~

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sabbath Keeping

~ my small flock of wool sheep ~
"Do not remember the former things; 
neither consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs forth; 
do you not perceive and know it 
and will you not give heed to it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness 
and rivers in the desert."

"One day spent with someone you love can change everything." ~ Mitch Albom
"If you don't like something, change it. 
If you can't change it, change your attitude."
"Fashion changes but style endures." ~ Coco Chanel ~
"God grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change, 
the courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference." 
"There are women who make things better...simply by showing up. There are women who make things happen. There are women who make their way. There are women who make a difference. And women who make us smile. There are women of wit and wisdom who -through strength and courage- make it through. There are women who change the world everyday...Women like you."  ~ Ashley Rice ~
"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. 
I'm frightened of old ones." 
~ John Cage
"To improve is to change. To be perfect, is to change often." ~ Winston Churchill ~
"If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse."
"For the past 33 years, every morning I have looked in the mirror and asked myself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."  ~ Steve Jobs
"When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves."
"Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you." 
~ John Green, The Fault in Our Stars ~
"If people refuse to look at you in a new light and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you've made, if they don't realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go." ~ Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free ~ 
"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." 
~ Wayne Dyer
"Everyone thinks of changing the world, 
but no one looks at changing himself." 
~ Tolstoy
"If there is no struggle, there is no progress." ~ Frederick Douglass

"All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.

The only lasting truth
is Change.

is Change."

"All great change in America, begins at the dinner table." ~ Ronald Reagan ~
"Those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything." 
~ George Bernard Shaw ~
"We are products of our past but we don't have to be prisoners of it." 
~ Rick Warren
"Here's to the crazy ones. the misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no great respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only ting you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." ~ Apple Inc. ~
"I alone cannot change the world,
but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."
"Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away...and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust...and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it." ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet ~

"He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" 
Then he said, "Write this down for these words are trustworthy and true."

If you'd like a name added to the prayer list, please let me know. Names will be kept for one week, around the world, people are praying.

Prayer Keeping ~ Max ~ Kurt ~ Timi and family ~ Sandra ~ 

Friday, October 25, 2013

View From My Window

Today has been full of...nothing much. It started snowing and sleeting last night and I knew today was going to be spent close, very close, to home. Other than half dozen trips outside, I've stayed inside all day and, an hour or so ago, decided to visit Nancy at A Rural Journal. Dang! Who knew it was Friday? And why didn't you let me know? Every Friday, Nancy does Random 5 Friday wherein bloggers tell five things about themselves. I'm not sure why I'm playing along, not sure there are five interesting things about me.  Someone told me onetime, "You're such an interesting person" and I replied, "Not really but I do interesting things."
 The computer is set up in the living room where the television and wood stove are also located. All I have to do is turn my head to the right and BOOM! there's the view. Today, leaves on the ground, maple tree still has some leaves, some icy snow, sheep in the yard, cattle on the hill and beauty all over the place. I am blessed. The sheep were let into the yard so they could graze but that's not lasting. Carly has Very Old Bones and when I go outside to feed her, the younger, bigger ones push her out of the way so they can steal the food/meds. That's also dangerous for me as they don't care if I'm in the way; a big push and that particular problem, me, goes away...or at least down. It's always been said sheep are a woman's livestock but all that means is I get taken out at the knees instead of the head and shoulders by cattle or horses. Farming is tough, hard, dangerous work!
~ water de-icer ~
The water trough behind the barn has an electrical outlet so I can plug in a de-icer. Keeping the water from totally freezing means the animals will drink more water and that keeps them healthier. This will work until I get a de-icer that has a thermostat which will work only when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. I also have to work out something for Carly so she'll have warm water this winter. Last winter I took her water several times a day which was a lot of work for me; I'd like to decrease my work load. 

~ counter top convection oven, right ~

Yesterday I bought a counter top convection oven; does anyone have experience? A friend told me she has a microwave/convection oven and I'm hopeful I'll eat more heathfully and more often if cooking/baking is easier and faster. Before I take it out of the box and set it up, I'm waiting for your comments, advice, opinions...please.

~ snow is on the -volunteer- pumpkin, left ~

 Today has been overcast, gray with snow and sleet flurries, a good day to stay inside and play. There's material on the table, ready to cut and be made into a quilt and tomorrow is supposed to be 60...time to take advantage of good weather and temps to do some more outside chores. My day is always decided by the weather as opposed to the to-do list which can always be re-arranged.
~ Morris Knob, elevation 3,400 feet ~
Views from every window are fabulous, no matter the temps or weather. I can always add another sweater if I catch a chill and the dogs know wearing a sweater keeps them warm. Time to fix me something to eat...animals have all been fed, of course, and the refrigerator is calling my name. Hope the food fairy has left me something good.

Blessings ~ living here ~ weather ~ sheep ~ volunteer pumpkins ~ heat ~

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Wild Journey

~ a skein of Canada Geese ~
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do, 
though the wind pried 
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save."

~ Canada Geese ~
It's turned frosty here on the farm and this morning rain, cold, drizzle and, just maybe, sleetish mix was added. Yesterday, I took time to check the heating pipes and then, turned the thermostats to 60. This is a big house, with ten foot ceilings and as tight as sieve; I always wanted Dave to put in a gas fireplace in our bedroom but he was afraid of propane gas poisoning. I'd just shake my head and add another layer blanket. I mean, really!, when you can see the curtains blowing, do you really think things are too tight and propane gas poisoning is a potential problem? I have noticed since using Quik Crete to plug the foundation, the wind isn't making a fuss inside and it's also a bit quieter...what gifts and blessings! 
~ Canada Geese lessons, here ~
It seems most contradictory that in Autumn, when human hearts turn toward hearth and home, the wild cries of Canada Geese are a call to action. They circle the valley, always twice and sometimes more, before landing in the field across the house to glean corn left from last week's chopping. 
Usually, their cries are heard before my eyes spy them, this morning no exception and I made a mad dash for the camera, feet slipping out of bedroom shoes to scurry faster. The dogs crazed with excitement, all of us bunched at the door, then hurtling down the steps across the frosty leaves and grass, dashing across the yard to get the best photo. 
~ questions and answers, here ~
Flannel night gown flapping around bare legs, naked feet skimming across wet yard, dogs barking loudly and dancing around me, caught up in my excitement as the geese circle, honk, circle, honk. I wonder if these are some of the same geese I waved to in late spring as they flew on their journey and decide, yes, some are old friends. 
~ three guinea fowl ~
At some point this summer, we had a violent storm and six guinea fowl blew in; three are left and have made their way from road to barn lot to yard. I'd rather they didn't visit the porches but have budgeted for food to feed them this winter. Guineas are not only entertaining but they are good watch critters as well and, when disturbed, they'll call out loudly and readily; listen here to see what I mean.
I always told Dave we had a unicorn flying over the farm; we can't see it but the lost, wayward and those needing sanctuary and rescue can see it and they make their way here. In case you don't know, unicorns are the "patron saints" of lost, wayward foundlings. No one can convince me otherwise that unicorns are only mythical creatures. I believe they lived as flesh and blood but were hunted out of existence; remember the Dodo bird? There are many extinct species, see here for the top ten. The Bible, King James Version, mentions unicorns more than half dozen times but scholars say the Biblical unicorn isn't the unicorn we think of today...a horse with a horn in its forehead. I say, prove it but it cannot be proven and I'm both comfortable and happy in my belief. What does it hurt? Nothing and I cannot understand why people get so riled when someone disagrees with their interpretation...especially when it's something as simple as unicorns. It's not as if we're arguing about salvation!
This day is crazy...the heavy winds are blowing clouds over the valley and within a ten minute period, we'll have rain and wintery mix and then blue skies and sun. Still, outside chores have to be done and they aren't getting done with me at the computer. 

Blessings ~ Canada Geese ~ three guinea fowl ~ unicorns ~ poetry ~ this Wild Journey called Life ~

Monday, October 21, 2013

"To the Virgins, to make much of time"

~ Carly Shetland, 19 years old, spends her time snoozing or eating ~

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry."

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like time has wings on her heels?

Blessings ~ Carly Shetland ~ time ~ rosebuds ~ Robert Herrick ~

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sabbath Keeping

~ old walnut tree on the farm, photo by Gina ~
"You shall love the Lord your God 
with all your heart
and with all your soul

and with all your might."

"Lord, deliver me from the small loyalties of habit or tradition that would keep me from larger loyalties of the spirit. Let me so incline myself to you that your presence in my life determines both what I think and what I do. Through Jesus, who understood the deeper meaning of freedom. Amen." ~ John Killinger in A Devotional Guide to the Gospels ~
"Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option." 
~ unknown ~
"Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable."
~ Dr. Joyce Brothers ~
"Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity."
"Do what you feel in your heart to be right for you will be criticized anyway." 
~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~
"Actions express priorities." ~ Gandhi ~
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~ Dr. Seuss ~
"Frankly, too many women treat their husbands as accessories and not priorities."
~ Dr. Laura Schlessinger ~
Click here and listen to life tips from Ashton Kutcher
"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule but to schedule your priorities." 
~ Steven Covey ~
"Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength." ~ unknown ~
"To succeed today, you have to set priorities. You have to decide what you stand for."
~ Lee Iacocca ~
"Good things happen when you get your priorities straight." ~ Scott Caan ~
"Decide what you want. 
Decide what you are willing to exchange for it.
Establish your priorities and go to work."
"Refuse to fight small battles with petty people. Your life is bigger and better than that." 
~ unknown ~
"I believe there are three keys to success. For me it is keeping my priorities in order: It's my faith and my family, and then the business." ~ Kathy Ireland ~
"Living with the immediacy of death helps you sort your priorities. It helps you live a less trivial life." ~ Sogyal Rinpoche ~
"You can either focus on what is tearing you apart
or you can focus on what is holding you together."
~ unknown ~
"To change your life, you need to change your priorities." ~ Zahid Abbas  ~

"But seek first His kingdom 
and His righteousness 
and all these things shall be given unto you as well."

If you'd like a name added to the prayer list, please let me know. Around the world, people are praying.

Prayer Keeping ~ Maxine ~ Kurt ~ Timi and family ~ Tammy ~ 

Friday, October 18, 2013

TGIF and Random 5 Friday

Today, a gentleman from Virginia Currents e-mailed me and asked for  farm photos to use in a television news magazine segment featuring Virginia farms. He asked for four photos and I sent eight; yes, I can count, but having no understanding of what he needed, I sent him twice as many photos so he can cull fifty percent. Whenever possible, I like to make other folks' jobs' easier. 
~ chestnuts, ready for roasting ~

Another gent, from across the mountain, likes to hunt ground hogs in our valley and I like for him to hunt ground hogs on this farm.  They are pesky rodents who dig huge holes that are a safety hazard for my horses, sheep and alpacas. Me too, remembering now the huge hole I stepped into in mid-summer. Anyway, the hunter brought me a coffee can of chestnuts and I plan on X'ing them and roasting them tonight and all weekend. I've never found a nut I didn't like and chestnuts are a favorite. 

~ London travel journal, right ~
Dave and I began traveling overseas in 2008 when I was asked to teach Agri-tourism in Russia. the program was through the U. S. State Department and run by a West Virginia Bluefield State professor. That was the beginning of a entirely new set of adventures for Dave and I. In January 2010, Dave sent me to London because, "I want you to learn to travel by yourself. I'll be here, at home, for a safety net, but you'll be on your own." I planned that trip...airline, hotel, sights, etc....and, yes, it was frightening but also exhilarating! When my plane landed, my transportation to town wasn't there and never arrived. I finally took the Tube into London and my Earls Court stop where I wandered for an hour looking for my hotel. All this at midnight, in the cold, snow and worst winter London had in twenty-five years...exhilarating!  The memory of the red fox and I, crossing on opposite street corners, remains a favorite memory. 
~ July - August 2011 travel journal ~
I'm getting to my point, please forgive a tired, slow the summer of 2011, Dave sent me to Eastern Europe, amazing because, at that time, Dave was recovering from cancer treatment and, needless to say, I didn't want to leave him. He insisted and gave me the same reason he'd given when he sent me to London the year before. So, that fabulous trip was to Hungary, were I met Timi and her family and Jane and Lance, then went to Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Czech Republic and Austria
I'm going to submit, for possible publication, my journals to Stampington Public. I haven't a clue they'll accept them but I'm pretty sure the answer is no if I don't ask. This is a huge step for me; when I was in elementary school, my "art" teacher (using the term most loosely!) told me, "You have absolutely no talent whatsoever; I have no idea why you even try." 
My answer after all these decades is, "Life is risky and the answer is always "no" when the question isn't asked."
Through no work of their own, the dogs are ready for cold weather. Their sweaters were washed and line dried this week and bought a smile to my face. 
We had a jail break today; the alpacas found a gate I'd left open and made their way into the yard. They were so funny, looking like they were tiptoeing around the yard. The dogs don't even bark anymore when the animals go where they aren't really supposed to go. Eventually, I got them all back in the same pasture and all is well on the farmstead.

This post is linked up with Nancy's Random 5 Friday at A Rural Journal. Please visit her and see the other participants.

Blessings ~ clean sweaters ~ animals in their correct places ~ chestnuts ~ American Curly horses ~ travel journals ~  alpacas ~

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Here She Goes Again...

It's a rainy, drizzly, overcast, cool day here on the farm. A great day for staying inside and working on the many inside chores facing me. But, not having shed the irascible gene, I'm on another tear.
~ thistle, gone to seed ~
I know language evolves but must it evolve in a downward state? Healthy Meals...aren't...or, maybe they are which is even more frighting. It should be Healthful Meals but I suppose the "powers that be" think "dumbing down" the population language is acceptable.

Using less when fewer is correct, as in grocery lines when a check-out sign states "less than 20 items". In Oregon, Dave took a photo of a Whole Foods sign that said "fewer than 20 items"; he said it was worthy of his pixels -grin-.
~ storm moving down the valley ~
Those who use quotes as if they "own" them. I once heard a lay minister, using the word quite loosely because that person left their spouse and shacked up with a much younger person...but I digress onto another tangent...quoted G. W. Cooke, "There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly becomes any of us to talk about the rest of us." If it's not your quote, give the quote it's rightful parent because, trust me, when we find out it's not your quote (and we will, eventually, find out), we're not going to think any better of you. Just the opposite, actually.

1st Annual...can't happen; it's impossible.

The word awesome when it's used cavalierly, as in "that's an awesome hamburger!" Now, it might be good, might even be great but does it truly inspire awe? Probably not. This year I attended a woman's conference and thoroughly enjoyed it but I heard the word "awesome" by almost every third mouth. Unfortunately, never did I hear the word "awesome" in reference or context to sad.

Focus on the Family - treading on a scared cow here but there are a lot of people who don't fit your demographic of a Dad, Mom and 2 children. Or, kids, as you like to call 'em. Sometimes there's only one parent, due to divorce or death. Sometimes, there aren't any children, just a husband and wife or one spouse, no children. News flash...I'm still a family even though I don't fit into one of your prescribed categories and because I don't fit, I don't write checks. No hard feelings on my part though; hope not on yours either.

Doctors who say, "Well, I take it so you should too." Well, guess what? I read the two pages of warnings that came with that danged Crestor, a statin drug, and decided I didn't want to be part of your guinea pig trial, nor contribute, indirectly, to your boat fund, and I stopped taking it. Those warnings include increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, cataracts, liver dysfunction, kidney failure, muscle fatigue and (this should be put into bold for male readers) erectile dysfunction. There are some doctors prescribing Crestor for healthy young adults as a "preventive" medication but I ask, "preventing what, exactly?" In 2009 the FDA approved Crestor even though the data still questions the wisdom of such a move. Ah, but it's the to help...just ask obama who received $900,000.00 in campaign donations from Astra Zeneca, the makers of Crestor. People who have stopped taking Lipitor have told me it's even worse.
~ dog sweaters, electric blanket washed and ready to use ~
Do you know of a young couple having trouble conceiving or having miscarriages? It might be BPA in the male that's killing off viable sperm. So, if you know of someone using plastic baby bottles to feed their male child, please tell them to consider using Dr. Brown products from Germany. No BPA, reduces or negates colic and no, I'm not receiving any compensation; I just want the (tax paying) population to continue.

Dr. Mercola is a great newsletter and site for information regarding health, health care and the government. How about a tot of "beaver butt secretions"? No?, but it's "all natural" and, according to the government, perfectly legal to be used in things like chewing gum, puddings and other items where vanilla is an ingredient. Strangely enough, beaver anal secretions, called castoreum, smells like vanilla and those pesky FDA folks say can be used in place of Mexican or Tahitian vanilla.

Another site I enjoy reading is Natural News but it's not for the weak.
~ chestnuts, ready to X, roast and eat ~
The government shutdown...why is it obama, senators and congressional reps are still receiving their salaries, perks and benefits while Veterans cannot access memorials dedicated to their military service? It continues to amazes me how DC folks are completely and totally shameless. How much did it cost to shut down federal parks that bring in $30,000,000.00 tourism dollars each day? How much did those man hours, barricades and signs cost? As a matter of did the government have those signs and barricades constructed and in place so quickly? Let's face it, the government moves at a snail's pace, usually, yet in the shutdown, it was almost faster than light. How many business owners have had to close and/or lay off employees? How many bankruptcies have been cause to the petulant, pettiness of elected government employees? Will we ever know?

Time to sell Wal-Mart stock! Here's an excellent reason to despise Wal-Mart; Sam must be rolling in his grave!

The the name of Allah...have vowed to kill Malala Yousafzai, one of their own whom they've already wounded. Why do they want to kill this 12 year old? She wants an education.

If you're a Christian, you should have trouble sleeping at night due to the Islamic agenda. In the last ten years, eleven Christians an hour have been killed, all in the name of Allah. Earlier this month, in Germany, ten Muslims beat, kicked and stomped a pregnant woman causing her to lose her baby and then beat her husband, putting him into hospital.

It's happening all over the world AND in the USA.

And, to conclude my inconclusive list of things that annoy'd like to thank...FOR PETE'S SAKE DO IT ALREADY!!! I see it All The Time in the local newspapers...someone starts out by saying, "I'd like to thank...". News flash: it ain't about YOU, it's about thanking someone else. Communications 101 says "I" is self-focused while "you" is other focused. Is that such a stinkin' difficult concept to understand?
~ apples for cider ~
Whooie, I might have a trifling headache brought on, I'm sure, by the low barometric pressure. Yeah, that must be it, eh?
~ Daddy's West Virginia home place ~
BTW, the house in this post is Daddy's home place.

While you're helping me down off this soap box, tell me your pet peeve or hot button. I might be in need of some new material -grin-.

Blessings ~ education ~ Christianity ~ Mexican or Tahitian vanilla ~ the King's English ~ the Queen's English ~ 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chat Time!

~ Morris Knob, background ~
Patrice, Everyday Ruralty, is hosting Chat's on the Farmhouse Porch #114 and I'm playing along. Actually, yesterday, I sent Patrice a note with five questions for her Chat. I wasn't sure I was doing the right thing but, as it turns out, Patrice was open to my suggestions and here are the questions and my answers.
~ Sadie and Gray Tom ~
1. How many animals do you have? Three dogs, Sadie Lovebug (Rhodesian Ridgeback), Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent (basset hound-terrier-spaniel mix) and Sophie Lauren Butterball (broken coat Jack Russell). Sam and Sophie are rescues. The house cats are Gypsy Rose Lee, Hattie Cat, Levi Lilly, Tippy and Gray Tom who lives outside but runs inside every time the door is cracked open. The American Curly horses are geldings HayJ and Dandy Man and the mares are Lightly, Peaches, Dani Girl, Izzabella, Tumbleweed and Bodacious. Carly Shetland, a 19 year old Shetland ewe, lives in the yard and gets arthritis pain meds twice a day. The other sheep include Romney's Shetlands, two Merinos, a Merino Shetland cross and a Suffolk Columbia cross. Most have names but, tell the truth, I've forgotten some of their bad. There are also four rescued alpacas, 2 geldings and 2 studs but no names there either.  Most of the barn cats do not have names and I like it that way; I'm trying to gentle some of them so I can take them to the county pound.
OH, almost forgot the 3 guineas who flew in on the last storm...haven't named their either.
~ Sophie and Sam ~
2. Have you begun Christmas plans, travel, decorations, crafts, menus, etc.? No, I haven't even begun thinking about Christmas...but I do know I'm staying home this year. I'm not going anywhere except to the barn to take care of chores. Maybe I'll have smoked salmon, sour cream, capers, red onion and dill on crackers for dinner and for supper, more of the same. Sounds good.
~ Sophie ~
3. Do you celebrate Harvest or Halloween? Halloween has become something extremely different from when I was a child. When I was a child (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), Halloween was simple fun where we could roam from house to house, gathering candy and having fun. So, I celebrate Harvest Season...these last few weeks of Autumn are an opportunity to gather apples to can for apple pie, put up green tomato pickles, make kiwi jam, blueberry conserve and I even bought a mini watermelon to munch on tomorrow.
~ my small sheep flock ~
4. How do you heat your house? Oh my. Hopefully, less expensively than I did last year. Earlier this month, the heating man came to clean my furnace and he found a broken part. He said he thought my oil bill would be less than last year...such a blessing! I also have propane heaters and freestanding gas stove and a wood stove. I still need to move the wood from the barn to the back porch but the chimney and stove are cleaned and ready to be put into service. Oh joy!
~ Levi Lily ~
5. Do you like dishes with white centers or centers with patterns? I really don't like the food to fight with the dishes so prefer white centers either with patterns around the edges or all white.
~ rose gray alpaca stud ~
Blessings ~ Patrice ~ Chats ~ my 4-legged family ~ Harvest ~ Christmas ~ this farm & valley ~

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Heart Has Callouses

~ the Cove, our valley ~
"Autumn: the year's last, loveliest smile."

Autumn is my favorite season but I say that about them all. Dave died in Autumn and that which was already bittersweet has become a bittersweet burden. Thistle Cove Farm and this valley are breath taking and heart catching beautiful. I am so blessed to live here, even without Dave, I am so blessed to live here. All the seasons, each season, has beauty that bids tears on a daily basis and the crisp autumnal season carries a bittersweet glow; a reminder that even earth needs her sweet rest. The golds, oranges, reds and russets of October will soon give way to November's storms. October's death is peaceful, even serene, but November will scream in the timeless agony of howling winds that threaten to, then do, rip the decreasing daylight into increasing night. Some nights, the rain becomes ice pellets and I am happy to sit inside, close to the fire with dogs and cats cuddled 'round.
~ our home ~
"Autumn is the hardest season.
The leaves are falling, 
and they're falling like they're falling in love with the ground."

Between the falling leaves and the Canada geese calling, it's Autumn on the farm. A lot of days are gray and overcast but when the sun shines, it's a Gift of the finest measure. I think it's going to be a harsh winter and have been working, almost feverishly, to get the farm and house ready. The chimney sweep has been here; both chimney and wood stove are ready. All that needs to finish is to bring a load of wood from barn to back porch then wood laid in the stove to be match ready.

The propane tank was filled this summer so the propane heaters are ready as well. As a matter of fact the pilot light was turned on in the bathroom and even that small flicker of heat is enough to dampen morning's chill. A young man was here to work on the furnace and, God bless him!, he thinks my oil bill might be cut by one-third; dare I pray for one-half? I neglected having the oil furnace cleaned after Dave died; it just didn't dawn on me it needed to be done. The furnace was full of soot and a piece had broken which meant the furnace wasn't working properly and I was wasting money, a lot of money. Thank God, the haze of grief has lifted enough for me to begin to get life back in some semblance of order. The grief still catches me by surprise though; I think I should be ahead by now but, weekly, am reminded of how off-center my life has become. I ponder, a lot, of womenfolk in my family and how they kept so busy after their husbands died. The majority of them lived in Appalachia and we share that similarity also.
~ Morris Knob in background ~
Both Grandmothers kept gardens, sewed, did handwork, canned and put up food and, generally, continued to keep body and soul together. It was harder for Grandmother B. who lived on the small, hardscrabble farm she and Granddaddy moved to when they married. Grandmother L. kept busy with all the above and then, in her late sixties, she began keeping foster children. Today, many a child owe their good start in life due to her largess.

Aunt Bonnie, Daddy's oldest sister, remarried but still worked tremendously hard on her small farm. She had milk cows and would churn butter and sell milk, butter and buttermilk; she'd sell eggs from her small flock of chickens and, during those long Appalachian winters, in a tiny corner of her small bedroom, she'd make patchwork quilts. I don't think she ever sold a quilt but would keep some and give others away. She gave me one, "Kid, you're to use this quilt; don't hang it on the wall or some such foolishness. It's meant to keep you warm. Understand?" Of course I said, "yes" and slept under that quilt for years.

Aunt Esther, Daddy's sister-in-law, quilted, did crochet, embroidery work, gardened and put up food. Both women had scads of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren and both took it as a matter of pride those off-spring had something at Christmas and birthdays and, quite often, a hand crafted gift. Aunt Esther never re-married and only a few weeks before she died, during our last visit, she told me, "Sandra, I'm just so tired. All I want is to see Clarence, to be with him again." She was widowed in her early 50's and close to 50 years, my heart still breaks, remembering. She had offers but no one could ever measure up to Uncle Clarence; he was a man's man and a man after God's own heart. It's been said by more than one wife in Daddy's family, "No one could ever measure up to...". A young girl told me, "I'm still single because it's going to take someone amazing to get me to marry." I told her, "I'll be a widow a long time, maybe always, because it's going to take someone more amazing than Dave for me to re-marry and I can't see that happening."

I talk to God all the time; fortunately, He's never said, "Sandra, hold that thought, I'm busy." He always has time for me but I'm beginning to feel my heart has grief callouses from the daily life struggle without Dave. The pressure of isolation is heavy even though I keep very busy on our home stead. Recently, I read, "boredom is the disease of a vacant mind" and nodded, appreciatively. I cannot remember the last time I was bored, probably before meeting Dave, and there's always something to do and, even when I'm "at rest" the knitting basket, quilt hoop or embroidery lie ready to be picked up and a few rows knitted or stitched. If God allows me to live until my work is done, I'll be older than Methuselah when I die. Fortunately, my timetable isn't God's timetable and I'll go Home when called; just as will we all.
~ morning fog ~
"There is so much beauty in autumn and so much wisdom;
so much separation and so much sorrow!"

There's a sense of ennui in Autumn; something that's not felt in other seasons. Dave would tell me my Autumn posts always carried a fair measure of ennui, of bittersweet. Those last weeks of his life he would tell me, "Try not to grieve too much, try to remember how to live again." But he never told me how and it looks like I'm a slow learner. I met Dave in Winter and lost him in Autumn; those years between were heady years, full of friendship, then adventure and love and finally contentment. You might as well know, I want need to leave this valley, this farm. I want need to move to a place where Dave and I never lived. God willing, I'll take the animals and memories and make a fresh start where family and friends await. I don't want to but it's what's best; I want to live life again, not merely survive. For almost two years, I've lived Autumn and Winter; I want to live Spring and Summer again before I die.
~ the view from my window ~
Blessings ~ Dave, always Dave ~ Seasons ~ Thistle Cove Farm ~ our animals ~ 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sabbath Keeping

"Train up a child in the way he should go
and when he is old 
he will not depart from it."

"To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while."
~ Josh Billings ~
"Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate." ~ unknown ~
"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see." ~ John W. Whitehead ~
"Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven." 
"No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure." 
~ Emma Goldman ~
"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."
~ Nelson Mandela ~
"Why is it that a child's death amounts to a tragedy, but the death of millions is merely a statistic?"
~ Patrick McDonald ~
"If I could relive my life, 
I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God!"
"There is enough in the world for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed."
~ Frank Buchman ~
"You can't comfort the afflicted without afflicting the comfortable."
~ Diana, Princess of Wales ~
"There's more to doing good than hating evil." ~ unknown ~
"The country clubs, the cars, the boats,
Your assets may be ample,
But the best inheritance
You can leave your kids
Is to be a good example."
"If you want your children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders." ~ Abigail Van Buren ~
"Your children will become what you are, so be what you want them to be." ~ David Bly ~
"Do not handicap your children by making their lives easier." ~ Robert A. Heinlein ~
"The most important thing that parents can teah their children is how to get along without them."
 ~ Frank A. Clark ~
"It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings." ~ Ann Landers ~
"A baby will make love stronger, 
days shorter, 
nights longer, 
bankroll smaller, 
home happier, 
clothes shabbier, 
the past forgotten, 
and the future worth living for."
~ unknown
"What's done to children, they will do to society." ~ Karl Menninger ~
"I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it." ~ Harry S. Truman ~
"To be in your children's memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today." ~ unknown ~
"When you teach your son, you teach your son's son." ~ The Talmud ~
"Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation." ~ C. Everett Koop ~

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us 
that we should be called the children of God."
~ I John 3:1

If you'd like a name added to the prayer list, please let me know. Names will be kept for one week, around the world, people are praying.

Prayer Keeping ~ Maxine ~ Kurt ~ Joshua ~ Emily ~ silent requests ~ Sandra ~ 
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