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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Kicking February to the Curb!

~ daffs, maybe? ~
If my vote had been taken, February would have been kicked to the curb in the first week; maybe in the first few days. What with the brain freeze, it's hard to remember -lol-. March can come in like a lion all it wants...and it's wanting plenty because temps are dropping, storm is coming from the south and the wind is blistering!...but all that means is, it's one day closer to spring. Bring it, I say...BRING IT!
~ sheep and 'paca lot ~
Nancy, A Rural Journal, is hosting Random 5 Friday. If you've never visited her blog, she's is a Fine photographer and you're sure to enjoy. She mentioned wearing a back brace due to shoveling snow and carrying firewood. Nancy, I'd forgotten all about my back brace so thanks for the mention. I've got to bring firewood from the barn to the back porch tomorrow so my back brace will come in handy. The wood will be hauled from the barn to the right, in the above photo, through the lot, into the driveway and then to the back porch of the house. Actually, around here there's someone somewhere who doesn't have their back brace because I found it in the middle of the road, picked it up, brought it home and washed it. Finders keepers, doncha know? -lol-

1. Ahem. Did you notice how clean the sheep lot looks? That's because I hauled the spent Christmas trees to the garden lot where they'll be burned in a bonfire later this month or next.
~ trees waiting for a bonfire ~
Nancy also mentioned doing her taxes...brave woman! I don't do my taxes, that's just one more thing on a long list of things I don't do but I don't mind paying what I owe. Like Nancy, paying taxes is the rent for living in this wonderful country and it also means I made the money to pay the taxes. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to pay one penny more than I owe, mind, but I'll pay what I owe.
 ~ Kinsley's hat ~
2. Kinsley, my almost four week old Grand-Neice, will be pretty in her pink hat that I'm not so sure is gong to fit her so I'm knitting another. She weighed 8 pounds 14 ounces and has nothing but gain weight since coming home from the hospital. None of that lose a few ounces after birth nonsense for her, nosirrebob! The pink tulle topper came via Vicki at 2 Bags Full blog; she knitted a hat and put a tulle topper on her and I asked to use the idea.
This is a quilted panel, that I hemmed, and that will be sent along with the hats, a fuzzy lamb Bible and a chenille bear that has a recording of me singing Jesus Loves Me. Why no, that chile is NOT spoilt; whatever on earth would make you even think of such much less say it?
3. The dogs and I went for a pasture walk, other wise known as trash pick up. Why some folks think it's all right to throw their empty beer bottles, soiled diapers (well, their baby's soiled diaper...I think...I hope!) and a host of other things into my pasture is beyond me. (I'm onery enough to wish that empty beer bottle would bounce off a fence post, fly back and hit them in the head.) So, the horses are 2 pastures over and see me walking...wait for it...and come RUNNING to see me...Sam scatters and runs far and fast away while Sadie runs up behind me to hide behind me, then, pushes her way between me and the fence.  She'd throw me to the curb in a NY second, that girl!
4. We had a skiff of snow yesterday but it didn't last. All day it poured snow, the mountains couldn't be seen and the ground was covered...for an hour or two, then it all melted. It did leave cold temps and high winds; I'm hoping for good weather this weekend. This old oak tree is completely hollow and needs to come down. I hate it but, like the Good Book says, there's a time for every season...a time to be born and a time to die...this tree still buds out but Donald is concerned a strong westerly wind will knock it over and into the house. My bedroom is in direct line, another good reason to take it down as opposed to let it come down. Frankly, every time there's a strong wind (which is frequently!) I wake up, listen for a moment and then pray, "Please God, keep the trees standing and the house, dogs and I safe" then I roll over and go back to sleep.  The Bible says God neither slumbers nor sleeps so I go back to sleep, doing my part.
~ view from the far road, looking toward the house ~
5. There are days that are glimpses of glory and two days ago, this was one. (I think if you right click on the photo, you can see it larger...but I'm not sure. Anyway, Sam is that tiny little speck in the lower left, just in front of the leaning fence post.) It was chilly but no wind so the cold wasn't biting and the clouds just kept pouring over and over and over the farm. I have loved, with everything in my being, living on these 27+ acres. God answered the prayer of my six-year old heart when He brought Dave and I to this farm. Other than God's amazing grace, there's absolutely no reason Dave nor I should live here. We've done nothing, either of us, to deserve God's great blessings yet we I have called this place home for almost two decades. I know I'm not worthy but I have done my absolute best to be a good steward of this land and these animals. 

We set our clocks back on Sunday, March 9th at 2:00 a.m. and I can't say it makes me happy. I despise DST because it makes my life harder and doesn't save me a dime, not one thin dime, in electrical bills. It just means I get in the house later because I'm out doing chores then I'm up later, burning more lights and have an internal body clock that's out of whack as well. BAH!  What about you? Do you like DST? Does it make a difference in your life or your electrical bill?

Blessings ~ beautiful days ~ old trees ~ baby quilts and hats ~ a clean lot ~ one day closer to spring ~ daffodils ~

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

HURRY! Less Than 24 Hours...

You have less than 24 hours to tell the IRS NO! There are plenty who have problems with that government organization and the power they wield but now there's more reason for concern.

The IRS is proposing regulations that will give them the authority to make rules to shut down conservative, and other, organizations such as Family Research Council, The Tea Party, American Family Radio, etc. Ultimately, churches and religious organizations could be affected as well and, from the get-go, freedom of speech would be compromised, especially for conservatives. 

Patrick Vaughn, American Family Association General Counsel, says, "The proposed regulations are consistent with the IRS' scandalous suppression of Tea Party applications for tax exemption. The IRS seems to have decided that it may have to process Tea Party applications, but it can render the organizations impotent." Read his summary here

If the IRS policy is allowed, many conservative groups "will no longer be able to distribute voter guides, promote voter registration, report voting records of elected officials, or even mention the names of candidates who are running for election."

For more information read here

Your comment may be as simple as "The proposed go far beyond the proper role of the IRS. The IRS exists to collect revenue, not to regulate free speech."

Hurry, there's not a lot of time! To send the IRS your comment, go here. This is what I wrote: The IRS exists to collect revenue, not to regulate free speech. The proposed rules/regulations go far beyond revenue collection. 

Basically, the IRS is attempting to override our First Amendment Right to Free Speech. If you have problems with that, send a note here.

Blessings ~ Constitution of the United States of American ~ First Amendment Rights, freedom of speech ~ 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

At War

~ back porch wood rack ~
This post is going to be, somewhat, free of photos. Due to the physically demanding couple of weeks I've had, my back and nether regions are in spasms due to pulled muscles. Using the camera requires more energy and effort than I can bring to the task right now.

Mercy, it's time again for Patrice, Everyday Ruralty, and her questions. I swan, between Patrice and her questions and Wendell and his carrots, it seems time spills over completely into life.

1. What is your favorite kind of bread? Either sourdough or my own bird seed bread; not sure which but both are delicious and wonderfully good for what ails you.

2. Would you go to an opera...? At one time in my life, I held season tickets...I adore opera but only if there are subtitles. I want to adore opera, not work at opera. See, I really did have a life before the farm. (smile)

3. What is your favorite kind of citrus fruit? Kiwi in hand but love orange in juice.

4. Are you doing any home renovations or decorating projects? Just advertised for someone to clean house to free me up to continue to sell/give/keep/pack. I'm saving renovations and decorating for my new farm home, whenever and where ever that might be.

5. If you could sit in a rocking chair and view a beautiful scene, where would you be and what would you be looking at? See that header photo, above? That's the valley from my front porch and sun room porch and that's where I spend warm afternoons...on the sun room porch, with the dogs and cats, admiring the view and counting my blessings.

Sadie and Sam get roasted pig trotters whenever I find them on sale. One of the clerks, an Asian woman, always smiles enthusiastically at me and comments, "In my country, we eat these too." I've not had the courage to tell her I'm fixing them for my dogs because I only eat the tasty bits of pig - bacon, ham, sausage, tenderloin, roasts and the like.

February might be the shortest month but, nods to April, February might also be the cruelest month as well. After the past two weeks of slogging through three foot drifts to get to the barn for chores, putting down the aged and ill, keeping bodies and souls together for beasties and woman...this ole girl is ready for a rest. Which, by the way, I've had for the past few days because I pulled all kinds of muscles in my back and nether regions. By the time I was ready to come home from town yesterday, I was tip toeing on one leg and dragging the other...a pretty sight to be sure and people looked at me as if I were contagious. More Ibuprofen, aspirin, a slug of Scotch and a hot Epsom salt bath and today, I'm good, can be expected. The snow and ice have melted and we're due for more snow today and tomorrow; the rest of the week is to be clear, please God.

Between the winter that is and the winter that was, following Dave's death, I have finally learned there is within me an invincible God (a nod to Camus). Your kind words and comments are sore welcome and much needed but any strength I have is all due to God. He's the one who allows me to do this work He has set before me and He's the one who gives me the mental capability to suss out things and make wise decisions. My daily prayer, after devotions is, "Please God, keep me safe and give me wisdom" and then I begin my day.

However, I am at war with myself. It used to be Dave kept store for me, now that he's gone, I must keep store for myself and, too frequently, I overspend, having only myself to blame while time is stolen from work in order for the body to heal. It is a fine, delicate balancing act (isn't it Quinn?) to do...but not overdo, work...but not overwork, strain...but not over strain all in order to keep pain at bay and body and soul together.

When Dave and I first moved to the farm, I worked seven days a week. On Sunday, after church, I'd come home, change clothes and head right out to the barn or pasture. It didn't take long for me to realize burning the candle at both ends was a guaranteed way to burn out. If God could take off one day out of seven, let it be a lesson to me and I changed my evil ways. Mostly, I still take off Sunday other than basic chores or emergencies and my life and body are the better for doing so. If you're trying to work seven days a week, I urge you to try taking off one day, resting your body and seeing how quickly you recuperate and have better energy and mental powers for the tasks at hand.

Finally, the good news is, February is on his last legs; we're in the homestretch and March beckons but with no indication if he'll be a lion or lamb. My vote is lion so April can descend quietly, with an umbrella of grace and mercy, like a lamb.

Blessings ~ fire in the wood stove ~ wood on the back porch ~ wood in the barn ~ walking upright ~ pig trotters for the babies ~ February ~ March ~ April ~

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sabbath Keeping

"Light shines in the darkness for the godly. 
They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. 
Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. 
Such people will not be overcome by evil. 
Those who are righteous will be long remembered. ... 
They share freely and give generously to those in need. 
Their good deeds will be remembered forever. 
They will have influence and honor.

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another." ~ Charles Dickens ~
"It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving." ~ Mother Teresa ~
"You can give without loving but you can never love without giving." ~ R. L. Stevenson ~
"For it is in giving, that we receive." ~ St. Francis of Assisi ~
"We make a living by what we get.
We make a life by what we give."
"Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile. Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family." ~ Mother Teresa ~
"Gracious acceptance is an art - an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving...Accepting another persons's gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you."
~ Alexander McCall Smith ~
"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."
~ P. J. O'Rourke ~
"A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal." ~ Steve Maraboli ~
"It's easier to take than to give. 
It's nobler to give than to take.
The thrill of taking lasts a day.
The thrill of giving lasts a lifetime."

"Remember this - a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. 
But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. 
And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. 
"For God loves a person who gives cheerfully." 
And God will generously provide all you need. 
Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 
As the Scriptures say, "They share freely and give generously to the poor. 
Their good deeds will be remembered forever."

Let me know if you'd like a name added to the prayer list. Names are kept for one week; around the world, people are praying.

Prayer Keeping ~ Steve ~ government leaders ~ ask God for wisdom ~ 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Laugh With Me...

~ Sam and ChoPaca ~
Several men are in the locker room of a golf club. A cell phone rings and a man engages the hands-free speaker function and begins to talk. Everyone listens:

Man: "Hello."
Woman: "Hi Honey, it's me. Are you at the club?"
Man: "Yes."
Woman: "I'm at the shop and found a beautiful leather coat. It's only $2,000; is it okay if I buy it?"
Man: "Sure, if you like it that much, buy it."
Woman: "I also stopped by the Lexus dealership to see the new models and saw one I really, really like."
Man: "How much is it?"
Woman: "90,000.00."
Man: "Well, okay, but for that price get all the options."
Woman: "Great, thanks honey. Oh, one more thing...the realtor called and said the house I wanted last year is back on the market. They're asking $980,000.00."
Man: "Um. If you're sure you really want that house, make an offer of $900,000.00. They'll probably take it but if not, we'll go the full asking price."
Woman: "Okay, and I'll see you later. I love you!"
Man; "Bye, honey, I love you too."

He hangs up while the other men in the room stare at him in amazement, their mouths wide open.  He turns to them and asks, "Does anyone know who's phone this is?"

Blessings ~ laughter ~

Friday, February 21, 2014

It's All Good

Nancy, A Rural Journal, is hosting Random 5 Friday; here's my take.

1. Lately, I've been on a Jeeves and Wooster kick. You may remember Hugh Laurie, on this side of the pond of House fame, was Bertie Wooster and Stephen Fry was Jeeves, his valet. I am in a snit fit to buy Hugh Laurie's new blues c.d. called Didn't It Rain and his rendition of St. Elmo's Fire is, probably, the best I've ever heard. The white boy can do some blues, now, and his tango ain't shabby either.
I adore Fry as Jeeves, his ability to express himself so succinctly with a simple (ha!) raise of the eyebrow. The old queen is still going strong.
Next tangent is Lord Peter Wimsey which I'm re-reading and am going to order some DVD's. Dorothy Sayers is among my favorite authors, is always delightful, is always verbose and veddy, veddy British. The Dorothy L. Sayers Society here celebrates her life and writing. As an aside, she was, I believe, the only female member of the Inklings, with C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien also members during their Oxford years.

2. This scene brings me to my knees, weeping tears of joy. There's NO snow, NO ice and the wind is still. O Dear God...thank YOU!  There's lots of rain and the temps are chilly, in the 40's so it's not sweater weather yet.

3. Today is the 21st of February and next month this date, it's SPRING! In celebration of that fact, I enameled my nails neon tulip pink. Granted, no one knows because I'm still wearing boots but I know and that counts. A lot.
 ~ Sadie ~
~ Sam ~
4. In my last post, It's a Good Day to Die, I mentioned Sadie and Sam were 3 years old. Yesterday, going through some papers, I noticed they will both be 5 in March. Somehow I missed a year or two, sorry babies! To the left of Sadie is the rug I'm putting in the sun room...hopefully today but as I still need to get my sorry self to town...deliver shortbread to vet's office, return books to library, mail GYBP gifts at post office, get a hair cut and then a mad dash to Bluefield to buy pink yarn to knit Kinsley a hat. BTW, it should be mentioned the name, "It's a Good Day to Die" is from, I believe, an old American native saying. It goes...It's a good day to die but tomorrow would be better." Yes, yes, it would.
5. Yesterday I downloaded to my Kindle this delightful book, Knitting by Faith. It's not that large, I think ten chapters, but well rounded in thought and theology. At ninety-nine cents it's pure treasure and highly recommended.

6. An extra...are you familiar with Dogs on Deployment? Watch here and be amazed at love.

That's my Friday and thank each of you who have been praying; truly, your prayers and God's answers have kept me from injury during this bad patch of winter. It would be lovely to have you visit but, trust me, your prayers are a lot more necessary and welcome because that's what's holding us all up. Dr. Anne, my vet, and I were talking while we were putting down Harry and Sophie; she said, "It would frighten people if they knew how close to the edge a lot of us are." She's so right! Every time I leave the farm I see folks who are dangerously close to the edge; exhausted beyond weariness with despair and almost completed overwhelmed by life. When we pray for each other, it brings both of us into the presence of God. Every time I read a comment, I stop and say a prayer for that person...for be overwhelmed by God's grace, mercy, tenderness, love and kindness. For God to allow you to be restored, renewed, refreshed in Him.

Lately, there have been a few folks who have, during private netversations, been on the receiving end of my total truthfulness and they have left and, thus far, not returned. Which only goes to show, there's no unconditional love other than the unconditional love of Christ. We fail Him, He still forgives; bless His name forever.

Blessings ~ rain to fill the water table ~ knitting ~ British comedy and mystery ~ shortbread ~ warmer temps ~

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's a Good Day to Die

~ blizzard conditions ~
Patrice is hosting Chats on the Farmhouse Porch, number 127; her questions, my answers.

1. Have you been watching the Olympics? No, haven't a clue what's going on in the world but I can tell you what's happening here and in more detail than you, probably, want.

2. Does the grey winter affect your moods? Some but I spend a lot of time outside, no matter the weather, so I'm not as affected as someone who works inside. Also, when I knit, sew or spin I'm either in the sun room with natural light or using OTT lamps. If you're not familiar with OTT lamps, you should be, they make all the difference in your ability to see, no matter the time of year.

3. When was the last time you held a baby? Recently although I have no clue who the baby was nor her parents. If I see a baby in the grocery store and start making goo-goo eyes and the parents don't freak out, I ask if I might pray for their baby. No one has ever turned me down so I take the baby and pray God's blessings on the baby and the parents. Young folks seem to, especially, appreciate the prayer and, yes, other folks stand around and gawk but so what? If they're Christians, they should be joining in prayer and if they aren't Christians, maybe it'll make them think...eternity is a lot closer than any of us know or expect.

4. Do you do a thorough spring cleaning each year? I'm going to this year because the house/farm is going on the market. I'm hoping to hire some help and if you're a praying person, pray I'll find someone to help me do major cleaning.
~  deep ice at the barn door ~
5. Please tell Wendell a bedtime story. ...Once upon a time, there was a farm where there were only three, cold and mud. All the animals lived to be tremendously old and were given only the best hay and mountain water to drink with treats of grain and molasses. There was a unicorn flying over the farm and no animal was ever turned away or denied food, water or shelter. The sheep were rare breed Shetlands from the Shetland Isles, some Romney's from the Romney Marshes of England, one Columbia Suffolk cross who was an Easter lamb and then unwanted and two Merino's who were bottle fed as babies and were absolute terrors! The four alpacas were beautiful, but aloof, creatures who walked proudly among the sheep, heads held high and they always chose the best places to sleep at night. The horses were rare breed, American Curly horses who were gaited, colored and, for the most part related to each other in planned breedings. Tumbleweed, the black mare with white stockings, was a rescue but the rest were all related by either dam or sire. There were dogs, house cats and barn cats and, unfortunately, a skunk and o'possum who lived under the house and a squirrel who lived in the tree. It was a Peaceful Kingdom where there was always time for nose kisses, head rubs, body hugs and, most importantly, love. (Except in the case of the skunk, 'possum and squirrel, they were encouraged, to no avail, to move.)
~ the husband, Sam and Sadie ~
As with all of life, the only constant is change and vast changes came to the farm. The husband died, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving his wife to manage as best she could. For the first year plus, she managed (although she was at a loss as to exactly how she managed!) and farm life ebbed and flowed with the seasons. She tried her hand at raising steers, or neutered bulls, but decided having ten "teenage boys" who weighed one thousand pounds each was an accident waiting to happen. The steers left, the fences were repaired and, again, farm life ebbed and flowed.

~ left, Abigail and young Sam ~
The second summer after the husband died, their beloved Jack Russell, Abigail, who had very ancient bones, just couldn't manage. She was tired and it was time to say good-bye. Just a few weeks later, their beloved Australian Shepherd mix, Grace, who was even older than Abigail, died. For months, things were settled and then, just before Christmas, the woman's other beloved Jack Russell, Sophie, died so now the woman had only Sadie and Sam, three five year old pups.

~ Gracie ~

~ Sophie, Sam, Sadie ~
That winter was hard; it was cold, extremely cold with temperatures twenty degrees below zero and wind chills much lower. Snows were deep, followed by icy rain and more snow, making everything treacherous and dangerous. The woman's sheep were old and had a lot of problems that come with old age.
~ Harry Shetland ~
Harry Shetland was blind and lived in the barn with access to a small lot were he could drink warm water from an electric water bucket and lay in the sun to warm his old bones. Twice a day, the woman would carry Harry and Sophie cracked corn and grain with fresh hay. Sophie Shetland was just as old and her arthritic bones, many days, prevented her from getting to her feet. Carly Shetland, at twenty years the oldest of them all, was allowed to live in the yard where she toddled, eating her molasses and grain mixed with pain meds, drinking warm water and eating alfalfa hay the woman brought to her twice a day.

February was a hard month, full of deep snows, extreme cold, high wind and low temperatures. Harry and Sophie were suffering and the decision was made to release them. The woman and her vet explained to Sophie and Harry, this was their last gift. They had both had wonderful lives, much better lives than a lot of parents give their children (how terribly sad!) and they were to look for Dave when next they opened their eyes. On that same Friday evening, the vet looked at some barn cats and told the woman, "Start bringing them to the office, we'll begin spaying and neutering next week."

That weekend was terrible; the temperatures were horrid, the wind was horrid, the snow and ice made walking difficult and, sometimes, almost impossible. On Saturday, the woman carried (!) Carly into the house and put her in the mud room where she thought Carly would be more comfortable. Carly didn't like being inside so the woman carried (!) her back outside but Carly needed help all weekend, getting to her feet. Even so, her little tail would wag with excitement when the woman would run to her, calling, "Carly, hold on, Girl, I'm coming, I'll help you."
~ home ~
On Monday, it was almost warm, at least, not as tremendously cold as it had been and, at dawn, wonder of wonders, Carly was standing on her feet, calling for breakfast. The woman ran to get Carly's breakfast and pain meds and put them in front of her and Carly's tail began wagging as she started to eat.

When the woman went to the barn Tabby, one of her cats, was crying so the woman picked her up only to see where something had chewed on Tabby with grim results. The woman ran hurried to the house, got a towel and carrier and took them back to the barn. She gently placed Tabby in the carrier and then into the truck; as soon as the vet clinic opened, she took Tabby and left him but later the vet called and said it was too late, Tabby couldn't be saved. The woman buys a lot of cat food in the winter in order to keep the barn cats close to the barn. When the snow is deep, there are a lot of predators (coyotes, foxes) looking for food and during the night, coyotes can be heard all over the valley.  There's no way of knowing what tried to kill Tabby but what is known Tabby had a wonderful life on the farm.

Late Monday afternoon, the rain started and Carly was having trouble staying on her feet. Her fleece would get waterlogged and her poor little arthritic legs couldn't hold her weight so she'd fall over. The woman kept running into the yard, righting Carly but then dark came and it was harder on the woman. She leaned Carly against the porch and left her covered in prayer. At dawn Tuesday morning, the woman ran to see Carly and had to help her to her feet but in the space of thirty minutes, the woman had to right Carly half dozen times and the hard decision was made.
~ Carly Shetland ~
It's a good day to die and tomorrow would be better; even so, the woman chose to do the right thing by her beloved little ewe and made the hard decision. The woman drove the Ranger from the barn to the yard and lifted Carly into the bed which was no mean feat because Carly weighed 65 pounds. The woman then drove the Ranger to the barn lot and struggled to put Carly into the bed of the truck which was horribly difficult. The thick ice underfoot made a hard job dangerous and only a lot of crying and praying got it accomplished. The woman put the dogs in the house and drove to the vet clinic, second time this week and it's only Tuesday.
~ Carly, covered in snow and ice ~
The woman held Carly, both to say good-bye and to prevent her thrashing around. Part of the woman's prayer was, "Good-bye old girl, you've been such a joy and delight to me for so many years. Run to Dave, as soon as you open your eyes, run to Dave, he's waiting on all of us."
~ the woman, Abigail, Sadie and Sam ~
The woman returned home, took Sam and Sadie for a walk and then they all went inside the house. The woman took two aspirin and laid down in the sun room where the sun was warming both room and bones alike. She thought how her life had changed, so dramatically, so suddenly over the past twenty-seven months and wondered what the future would bring. She dozed, drifting in and out of sleep, letting the sun warm her bones and the aspirin diminish her pain. When she awoke, she took the dogs to the barn, gave the kitten her meds and food, locked the front gate and then walked back to the house where she fed the dogs then filled the tub full of hot water and Epsom salts. When the tub was half full, she lowered herself into it and sunk again into a half stupor, waiting for the hot water and salts to work their magic.

Today was a good day to die but tomorrow would be better...much better.

Blessings ~ the husband ~ the animals ~ the life ~

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sabbath Keeping

~ Thistle Cove Farm ~
"She is not afraid of snow for her household."

"With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women. I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children. It has to do primarily with distractions. The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls-woman's normal occupation in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel...
But how? Total retirement is not possible. I cannot shed my responsibilities...I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. I would not want to be. The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return...
It is a difficult lesson to learn today-to leave one's friends and family and deliberately practice the art of solitude for an hour or a day or a week...For me, the break is the most difficult....And yet, once it is done, I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before." ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only {she} who sees, takes off {her} shoe;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries."
"For believe me, the more one is, the richer is all one experiences. And whoever wants to have deep love in {her} life must collect and save for it and gather honey." ~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
"Wonder is the promise of restoration:
as deeply as you dive, so may you rise."
"WonderFUL!" ~ Sandra ~
"One should know the value of Life better than to pout any part of it away." 
~ Hester-Lynch Piozzi ~
"We should live each day with a gentleness, a vigor, and a keenness of appreciation which are often lost when time stretches before us in the constant panorama of more days and months and years to come." ~ Helen Keller ~
"There is a time, when passing through a light,
that you will walk in your own shadow."
"Wild and distant places speak to many who find in them opportunities to engage in the spiritual practices of wonder and gratitude." ~ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat ~
"Well-being is not a state of mind,
or even of body.
It is a state of grace."
"You look as if you lived on duty and it hadn't agreed with you." ~ Ellen Glasgow ~
"Let go of the people who cause constant pain; let go of the negativity that colors a room more darkly than any coat of paint. Keep close the people you love, the ones who stay engaged and open to life, who bring joy and peace to the house and garden. ~ Dominique Browning ~
"Let your tears come. Let them water your soul." ~ Eileen Mayhew ~
"Part of getting over it is knowing you'll never get over it." ~ Anne Finger ~
"Self-nurture is not about being selfish.
It is about self-care."
"Accustom yourself to continually make
Many acts of love for they enkindle and melt the soul."
"It is the loving, not the loved, woman who feels lovable." ~ Jessamyn West ~
"We need to practice awe-aerobics." ~ Sandra ~
"Since her childhood it had seemed to her that the movement of all laws, even natural ones, was either suspended or accelerated on the Sabbath." ~ Ellen Glasgow ~
"Wait is a verb." ~ Sandra ~
"God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart."
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay, Renascence ~
"Thousand upon thousand of human plans are not equal to one of Heaven's." ~ proverb ~
"Grace grows best in winter."

"Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine.
Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom,
into healthy faith, love, and endurance. 
Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither
gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. 
By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their
husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, 
be good wives.
We don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of
their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives."

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

Prayer Keeping ~ unspoken requests ~ 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

GYBP Winners and quick update

~ the sheep are struggling to move in the deep snow ~
A quick post to say I have two Grow Your Blog Party; the first is Melody in Melbourne who was also one of Vicki's helpers. She doesn't have a blog but did leave me her e-address; she wins the coaster by Irish artist Thomas Joseph. I'd say that's about as far as that coaster could get, all the way from Ireland to Virginia, USA to Melbourne!
~ Sam makes good use of the Ranger tracks ~
The second winner is Tammie Everly, TTE Designs, from the southeastern part of Virginia...probably about an 8 hour drive from me. It's unusual for me to have a winner in the same state, don't think that's ever happened before. Tammie wins the Baggallini bag and both bag and coaster will be shipped next week.

Congratulations to you both; e-mails have been sent to you requesting your address.
~ Carly Shetland, she's 20 this spring ~
If I had the energy, I'd tell you more but all I can manage is, I'm still alive and safe. Today, combined with yesterday, has pert near whupped me, as Aunt Bonnie used to say. Carly is still alive but it's been a mean, nasty day and the night is going to be worse. Temps are dropping, it's still pouring "something" from the sky and the wind is fierce. She's needed help getting to her feet many times today; at one point I had her in the mudroom and she hated it. She's like me, she'd rather die with her boots on so I carried her back outside. I mixed up several pain pills in Gatorade and put that into her; she'll rest peacefully even if she does die tonight. The hard decision had to be made that once I gave her meds, at almost dark, I won't go back outside tonight. I have to weigh the possibility that I could slip and injure myself, hit my head and pass out, break a bone, etc. If that happened, I might not make it back inside the house. I know I've given Carly a far, far better life than a lot of people give their children and that's a sad cry on humanity! I've been a good steward, have done the best I could and gone the extra mile when necessary (carrying her up the stairs, through the house and into the mudroom; Carly weights about 60 pounds) so if God takes her tonight, I've prepared her best I can and I believe she'll be waiting for me, alongside Jesus, those other fine Thistle Cove Farm critters...and Dave!...when I get to heaven.
~ Morris Knob, 3400' can't been seen ~
Remember the "adult beverage" I was going to have last night? Didn't happen. By the time I finished the post and remembered I still had to go upstairs to go to bed, it was an easy choice. The dogs went out for one last time, then they scampered up the stairs while I dragged myself up the stairs. It was another case of I was asleep before the light was turned off. I'm almost afraid I'll drown in the shower but it has to be done. I smell like Carly, a lot, and I'll sleep better if I don't smell like Carly. I am taking another big dose Ibuprofen, my old bones are crying like babies tonight. Last night they were twingy, tonight they're threatening to secede...can they do that?

Blessings ~ winners ~ safety! ~ pain meds for Carly and for me ~ deep, restorative sleep ~

Friday, February 14, 2014

no good, very bad, terrible, horrible day

~ Sam and Sadie ~
We had 18 inches of snow and 6 more expected tonight. Going to the barn has been a chore and I should get hazardous duty pay. Drifts were between 3 and 4 feet deep and the dogs, especially Sam, needed me to break a path so he could go down the driveway. Even getting out of the yard was tough; the snow was pushed against the gate so deeply, it was all I could do to force it open.
~ paca nation covered with snow ~
Nancy over at A Rural Journal, hosts Random 5 Friday. Usually it comes and goes and three days later I remember. What can I tell you? Memory is not only a terrible servant; it mostly doesn't even show. Last night, I visited Lynn at Irish Garden House and her post was today's Random 5 Friday. Why yes, it did confuse me just about totally; then again, it doesn't take all that much to confuse me, but Lynn did make me laugh and that's always a good thing.
~ I love my farm! ~
Nancy says share 5 random thoughts but seeing how I want some cheese, I thought I'd just whine.

1. Ten minutes ago, a big whomp noise came from the wood stove. In order to check it, I opened the vent before opening the door so no sparks would fly into the room. This I did and as soon as I opened the door, a Very Large Whomp AND a ball of fire came straight at me. I was far enough away it only singed my hair burnt my hair, eye brows and eyelashes on the left side. It still got my attention and I guess I won't be wasting money on mascara any time soon. Do eyelashes grow back at my age?
~ Harry Shetland ~
2. Two hours ago, the vet came and we put down two old sheep. Harry Shetland has been blind for months and kept contained in a small lot where he had shelter (barn), water (electric bucket) and I carried food to him twice a day. Sophie Shetland, Carly's sister, is just as ancient but hasn't aged as well as Carly and had been living with Harry for a couple of months. She'd turned into a little bird sparrow and was wasting away and had gotten cast, several times, and worn her fleece to the skin in her vain attempts to get to her feet. I was visiting the barn several times a day in order to lift her and she weighed, maybe, 35 pounds. I don't mind taking care of them, it's my job as a good steward, and I despise killing them but, even more, I hate letting them die by inches. It was time to say good-bye and it's my last gift to them to pay Dr. Anne to do it mercifully. She gave them massive doses of "go to sleep forever meds" and they slipped away peacefully. A few years ago, when Dr. Anne came back to Tazewell to practice vet meds, I told her mother, "Anne is a good vet but I believe she's got the makings of a great vet." Anne is now a lot closer to great than good and it's a privilege to know her.

3. Six hours ago, while driving the Ranger it slid down a bank and landed against a fence. Bless God that fence was there because it kept me from flipping and going over the hill. Even so, the Ranger was good and stuck and not even 4-wheel drive helped. Heck, I was in 4-wheel drive when it happened! Using the Toyota truck, I hooked a chain to both truck and Ranger and tried to pull the Ranger out of that predicament. Didn't work and I tore the yard plumb up! If Dave was alive, he'd have my guts for garters but I'm just happy I didn't get hurt. The dang yard can be fixed a lot easier and cheaper than me. It took God and me about 30 minutes to get the truck unstuck and back on even ground. For a while there I was a tad frightened and told God, "This is the last attempt because I'm frightened. I do not want to go over the hill so this is the last time I'm asking for help." Bless Him, the truck got on an even track...after I got on my hands and knees and shoveled snow from in front of all four tires...and we headed to the barn. At the barn, I used that same chain to hook to the truck and to the barn door so I could get the door open. It was snowed frozen shut and that's where the tractor is kept. After getting the door opened, I loaded the tractor with hay then drove up to the yard to pull the Ranger out of the fence and park it on a level spot. Before putting the tractor away, I fed the horses, sheep and alpacas then came to the house, got the Ranger and put it away, after locking the front gate.
~ without the Ranger, I couldn't manager nearly as well! ~
4. Nine hours ago, I went to town to get gasoline for the Ranger. It was almost out and I need that Ranger to help with farm chores. The first 10 miles of the trip, I drove 20 miles an hour in 4-wheel drive; yes, it was that icy and snowy on the roads. Under the wire, I also had 2 ham biscuits at Hardees; love that Marie, she makes very fine biscuits!

5.  Fourteen hours ago, I woke up and decided to get started on my day. Little did I know (thank You, God for small mercies) what kind of day it would prove to be. The good great news is...beasts and human are safe from exertion. The dogs will receive aspirin (if I can get them to wake up) and I'm taking an 800 mg. Ibuprofen along with an adult beverage. I don't know if I deserve it or not but I sure know I want it and my tired old bones say go for the gusto pain relief. So I'm gonna.

In conclusion (finally!, someone says), it really wasn't a no good, very bad, terrible, horrible day. It was physically demanding, emotionally exhausting and fraught with dangers, toils and snares (love that old hymn!). God kept me safe, He gave me strength, the ability to figure out how to do what needed to be done and I'm headed to bed pleased that I was able to do the work He set before me. And, do it safely; bless His name forever!

Blessings ~ safety ~ long well lived life for Sophie and Harry ~ gasoline for the Ranger and Ranger unstuck and tucked into barn ~ truck put away safe and sound ~ I still have a lot of hair as well as eye lashes and an eyebrow on the right side ~ life is good ~

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Put Your $ to Work

~ my neighbor's sheep ~
We're in the midst of a huge snow storm, expecting ten inches (or more) and are well on the way. Generally, they'll be drifts of three to five feet in the morning and chores are going to be difficult and tricky. There's no wind, thank God, but the temps are dropping quickly and I've done what I can do to prepare the animals, the farm, the house and myself. May God have mercy. 

For some, this money information will come as welcome as rain after a drought; for others, you'll say, “Well, I already knew all this” and my response to you is, “then why haven't you blogged about it and helped out the rest of us?” grin
~ Sam and Sadie ~
I'm not a financial expert, nor a stock broker and don't work for human resources or any of the companies I'm going to talk about. I'm simply someone who was told about all this and have taken advantage. I want to pass along the favor but, as always, you should talk over your money management plans with your spouse or someone else who has your best interest at heart. Let them help you make wise money decisions.

Lately, I've been working on “the book” and thought I'd blog about money. Money is part of “the book”, in fact, a major part of “the book” because you work hard for your money and there are two things that are very true about your money...(1) you want to keep as much of it as you can and (2) you want it to work for you. Money that's not working is money that doesn't have much value other than face value. It's possible for your money to go to work...every single day and, at the end of a few years or decades, you'll have a tidy packet to aid in retirement, help with college expenses, start the grands on a nice nest egg, etc.

First, if you have a 401 at your place of work, run, don't walk to the HR office and announce your intent to participate. Then, participate at the full maximum allowed by your company. Seriously, you cannot afford not to participate; companies vary as to how much they'll match but whatever they match, it's money in your pocket. Give up whatever you need to give up...mani-pedi's (it's not that difficult to paint your own nails), eating lunch out, buying coffee (make it at home and you'll save big!) and a load of other "small" expenses that chew through your wallet. 

One of a parent's primary jobs is teaching your children about money. If you weren't taught about money, the learning curve is going to be difficult but not impossible so better get started.

Putting your money to work means making it earn compound interest. Compound interest means not only does your initial principal work for you, so does the interest. In essence, you've got a double whammy going on which means more money in your account.

Using this investor compound interest tool will give you an idea of how your money can work for you. If you set aside $250 as your buy-in principal, add $25 each month and let it grow for 10 years at 7% interest and compound that interest twice a year, you're going to have close to $5,000 at the end of ten years. 

$250 current principal - initial buy-in
25 monthly addition = $300 per year
10 years to grow
7%interest rate
compound interest 2 times a year
will be $4,739.40

If you add start with more principal and/or add more than $25 each month your figure will grow accordingly. Research the company you're interested in and then plug in the numbers to see how much money you'll save and earn.

So, how do you buy stock? A lot of people think you need a stock broker or an on-line account. Neither is true. If you have a utility service in your name, you can call them and ask, “Do you have a stock buy-in program?” If they say, “Yes” then you ask, “What does it cost to buy-in? Do I buy-in monthly or yearly?” Then, almost the most important question, “Do you have a Dividend Reinvestment Program?”

A Dividend Reinvestment Program, commonly referred to as a DRIP, means all interest made on your money, will be used to make more money...for them and for you. You never opt to receive a dividend check; you always let dividends roll over and purchase either more partial or full shares of stock.

There are many companies that have a stock buy-in and DRIP program. In Virginia, it's Dominion Resources, an electric company, and in Florida it's Southern Electric. Other stock-buy in companies include EXXON, and there are more companies listed at List of DRIP Companies, Direct Investing and Online DRIP Database. A visit to any of these sites will give you companies that allow you to directly purchase stock and enroll in their DRIP program.

Or you could call your utility company and ask about their programs. BTW, utility companies are commonly referred to as "widows and orphans" stock...they aren't very sexy, like tech stock, but they, generally, aren't as volatile with wild swings up and down. Just nice and steady, aren't going anywhere and probably will be around for a long while. 

As with all financial decisions, you should do your own research and make your own decisions based on intelligent decisions. I'm not telling you to invest in any of the companies I've named, but I will tell you, some decades ago I invested in Dominion Resources and it was one of the best financial decisions I ever made.

Blessings ~ buy-in stock programs ~ DRIP ~ compound interest ~ your money at work ~

Monday, February 10, 2014

AMTG - Another Monday thank God!

~ blue skies headed our way ~
Last week, I told Connie at Heartwood Roses, I'd blog about having my blog printed into a soft cover book. As Connie is now well aware, I have not. Good intentions and all that, doncha know? I have no excuse and my reason is takes me a good long while to recover from being so dang cold and working outside. Breaking ice, carrying hay to the animals, vetting on the old and ill and doing everything it takes to keep this farm going all take a toll and the older I get (thank You, God!) the more difficult it is to do everything and then quickly recover. Although, quickly is subjective in that I've been fighting a pulled back muscle and several sore spots that are twingy. Truth be told, I feel like I've earned a medal if I get Sabbath Keeping up each week. I'm not complaining mind, I'm just letting you know why I don't get around, more frequently, to visit your blogs or to respond to your comments. I read them all and throw myself in your lap for your kindness to me but I simply lack the energy necessary to do it all. It would be ever so much more tempting if you'd make hot chi tea (yes, I do know that's redundant) and cookies or cake...then I could drag my old bones over more frequently. I post, every now and again, to let you know I'm not dead. -grin-
~ a roll in the pasture makes the day seem better ~
So Donna, I am working on the post regarding blog into books but in the meantime...veering off into a tangent...when Dave was a small lad, he was simply terrified of the term "meantime". He heard a grownup say, "We'll do thus and so but in the meantime...". Dave said he always wondered when the mean time was going to happen and when it did, what would happen. Bless his heart! How many children have a wrong impression of something, an idiom, a grownup has said and not explained? Not to mention those for whom English is a second language.

But I digress...Connie is in charge of Rose Day at Hollywood Cemetery which happens to be where Dave is buried. There are more American presidents buried at Hollywood Cemetery than any place else in the world as well as a burial site for more than 18,000 Confederate soldiers. Hollywood Cemetery has an interesting history and is a major Richmond tourist attraction; for more information, read here. Rose Day is March 15 and volunteers are welcome; click here to obtain contact and more information.
~ morning at Thistle Cove Farm ~
Please visit here as well; Hartwood's Attic has some lovely furniture for sale, all lovingly restored to beautiful condition. I am one of "those people" who doesn't care for painted furniture...until I see it and then I love it! Go figure -wry smile-; Connie's furniture is lovely and very glad she lives hours away from me although I've several pieces that look quite similar to those she has for sale. Of course, my pieces are pre-beautifully painted but still, it gives me ideas.

Another lovely site is Miss Mustard Seed Pages. You might be familiar with Marion of Miss Mustard Seed. Well, she's started a new enterprise, one to bless and help folks who want to sell things with folks who want to purchase things. She does this at No either seller or buyer and, from what I've seen, all the prices are Very Reasonable.

Yes, I do receive something for telling you about the above. I receive the satisfaction of knowing I've done some good in this frosty ole world. I receive the satisfaction of knowing I've introduced you to some fine women and their businesses and, most importantly, I receive the satisfaction of knowing I've cast good bread upon the water.
~ a neighbor ~
On Wednesday, we are due for a storm of some magnitude so I'll spend tomorrow setting out hay, making sure everyone has food, water and shelter available. I also have to get in a load of wood for the wood stove;  but, all told, tomorrow is a full day of work. I'd like to participate in Patrice's Chats on the Farmhouse Porch but everything turns on getting the work done.

One last thing...some of you have sent me invitations to join...something or other. Please do not be offended when I don't respond but I'm just not that computer savvy and don't have the time to figure out that kind of stuff. Remember, I'm focused on Food/Water (animals and human), Shelter (animals, wood for the stove), Clothing (to keep warm during outside chores) and, by necessity, most everything else goes by the wayside. Be gentle with me...I'm doing great to put up a blog post every now and again; let's not overtax the old gal, okay? -grin-

P. S. Please be in prayer for Loretta's family...her SIL was killed in a house fire Saturday morning.

Blessings ~ Connie ~ Hollywood Cemetery ~ Rose Day ~ Heartwood's Attic ~ Marion ~ Miss Mustard Seed and Pages ~ 

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Sabbath Keeping

~ Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent and Sadie Lovebug ~

"The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. 
I will make a suitable partner for him." 
So the Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and whatever the man called each of them would be its name. the man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all wild animals, but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man. So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said, "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called 'woman', for out of her man this one has been taken." That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body." 

"It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unending patient, invariable tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating ever need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain."
"Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might be found more suitable mates. But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to."   ~ J. R. R. Tolkien
"You don't marry someone you can live with,
you marry the person you can't live without."
~ unknown ~
"Great marriages are contagious. 
If you want a great marriage, 
surround yourself with couples who have one."
~ unknown ~
"My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.
~ Winston Churchill ~
"A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers." ~ Ruth Bell Graham ~ 
"You are the melody God has chosen
 to play on the foreground of your husband's world."
"It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes for unhappy marriages." 
~ Nietzsche ~
"You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person, perfectly."  ~ Sam Keen
"The more I think about it, the more I realize, there is nothing more artistic than to love others."  ~ Vincent van Gogh ~
"Goals of National Marriage Week USA: 1. To elevate marriage as a national issue in the media and with policy leaders. 2. To promote the benefits of marriage, that stronger marriages bring economic stability to individuals and to the nation, and provides the best environment for thriving children. 3. To create a national calendar for existing, trusted marriage classes, conferences and events where people can find the help they need, or reach out to help others." ~ National Marriage Week USA

"Haven't you read," He replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 
'made them male and female' and he said,
 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 
and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. 
Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

If you have a prayer request, please let me know. Names are kept for one week; around the world, people are praying.

Prayer Keeping ~ Krystal ~ David ~ Miki's family ~ unspoken requests ~ Sandra ~
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