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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.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Take Me Home, West Virginia...

~ Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent ~

Ever now and the old folks used to say...I get a chance to go to Mom and Daddy's Webster County, WV cabin. Such was the case last week except at the twelfth hour, my farm sitter didn't work out so Sam and Sadie were my willing companions. I'm of two minds about my dogs traveling with me...on one hand, I love their companionship (after all, we spend virtually 24/7/365 together) but on the other hand, I'm terrified some nut will cause a wreck and the dogs will be thrown from the car, lost, etc. Thank God that wasn't the case this trip; we made it to the cabin, and back, safe and sound with hundreds of photos taken. That's rather amazing, especially as we didn't get a chance to visit the Woodchopping Festival. Pets are prohibited so after we got to the cabin, we didn't leave until time to return home. 

BTW, the dogs don't have their heads out the window all the time but when we're going through the mountains, slow speed, they like to see and smell and that's all right with me. The back seats of the 
4-Runner are put down with several dog beds and packing quilts laid down so they have a comfortable ride. In case of emergency, it's cozy and comfortable enough we could all three sleep and a small ammo box contains things to help with safety. Things like a wax brick and matches to start a fire, a flare, a space blanket and the front passenger seat held food for all of us. 

~ Goshen Pass, VA Rt 39 ~

Part of the drive goes through Goshen Pass, a wild, natural preserve in Virginia's Allegheny/Appalachian Mountains. It's beautiful but if one isn't used to the drive (which is mild compared to what's to come!), it can be more than a trifle daunting. In the above photo, the white line is inches, not feet, away from the shoulder which is soft from spring rains. Those pitiful lil' upright yellow sticks are there to say stay away and not to prevent a tumble into the turbulent Maury River rushing by.

Of course you shouldn't try this at home! This photo (as were a lot of them), taken on the fly, shows how close the road is to the river and how high the river is due to spring flooding. At some places, the road is a good 60-75 feet (perhaps more) above the river and a tumble is not advised! In decades gone past, friends and I have camped on the Maury River, somewhere in Goshen Pass, and had a fine ole time. We fished for our supper (brook trout fried over a camp fire), slept under the stars and absolutely, totally lived in that moment.

~ lovely stone work to shore up the encroaching mountain side ~

Last photo of Goshen Pass, promise!, but can you see the piddly lil' ole yellow sticks in the lower right standing between the road and the stone wall? Now notice the Maury River over the edge, photo center, about 60 to 75 feet below...seriously, folks, this calls for some steady, focused driving! I did not see even one person talking, much less texting, on their mobile phone. (Of course, the fact there's no cell tower service might have something to do with that! lol) Oh, and remember what I said...the worst road is yet to come...

To continue...

In the Go Soak Your Head post, here, I write of the Jefferson Pools, Bath County, VA which are well worth a special visit. The Pools were frequented by Thomas Jefferson and are amazing! Folks with joint, ligament, arthritis, rhematiz and the like find their body is free, for a while, of aches and least, that was my experience. The Pools are owned by the Omni Homestead Resort and are now closed due to structural damage. (I wonder if the Omni will ever do the necessary repair work? After all, if the Pools are closed, folks will be forced to visit the much greater expense!)  Friends of the Warm Springs Jefferson Pools continue to plead with owners to re-open.

~ Garth Newel entrance ~

Also in Bath County is Garth Newel Music Center, here and Minnehaha Springs, an unincorporated community.

~ Sharp's Country Store ~

Further on, Sharp's Country Store in Slaty Fork, WV abounds with eye candy galore and the Kissing Bridge; click on the link to read more, especially about the 1,000 year flood. Slaty Fork is an unincorporated community in Pocahontas County which is home to Snowshoe Ski Resort.

~ Kissing Bridge ~ 

~ Beckwith Lumber Co. ~

As an aside, the largest land owner in West Virginia got his start when Granddaddy loaned him $1,000.00; this was back when $1K might as well been $1M. Ralph Beckwith Lumber owns more than 100,000 acres of WV mountain and timber. This page tells more of the Beckwith story but the date is wrong; the loan was made in the late 1950's but it was made on a handshake. Granddaddy believed, and taught his children same, that a man was only as good as his word and his handshake sealed the deal. To this day, when people talk about E.B., the words honor, integrity, trustworthy and the like are used and the same is true of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchldren.

At some point, after leaving WV State Rt 219, the smaller, but still paved road, leads to Elk River Resort. I've never stayed here but it looks rather grand...cabins for rent and the lodge, above, has rooms for rent and it has a full service restaurant. I've heard wonderful things about Ellie May's Ole Mill Restaurant and fully intend to eat there...some day.

Traveling further up the mighty Elk River, the roads become...more challenging. When it's been a while (like now) since I've traversed this coal and timber road, I become a white knuckle driving. Not only white knuckle driver, I find I'm perched on the edge of my seat, sometimes holding my breath and audibly praying. As an aside, Elk River stories have run through my family history for generations (two of Daddy's siblings drowned in this river and I'm not sure, but it might have claimed a great great great grandmother and her children. They were drowned somewhere and I believe it was the Elk.) and I have my own Elk River story that I've survived to tell (thank You God!). Others have their stories as well; Dave Breitmeier calls the Elk, The Lady.

Going to the cabin isn't as terrifying, dangerous or white knuckle as coming from the cabin. As you can see, going to means I'm on the upper side of the road as opposed to the falling off into the river side of the road. Big, Big, BIG difference!

This stretch of road actually has a couple of pull over places so two vehicles may pass which is made MUCH easier when those two vehicles are cars or passenger trucks. Just imagine a huge truck loaded with coal or timber...I don't mind admitting, my stomach rolls even now, just thinking about it!

Whitaker Falls is the dividing line between Randolph and Webster Counties and where folks fishing for trout may be found, in season and It's also a mighty fine place to stop and take a few lot of deep breaths...the worst is yet to come.

This photo taken out of the driver side window; didn't need to open the door, just held the camera outside and took the photo.

When I was 14 years old, Daddy's mother was in hospital and not expected to live. It was May, typically WV weather was cold and snowing, and Mom didn't want to travel with my younger siblings but I was allowed to go with Daddy. While we were headed up this mighty Elk River road, Daddy said, "Sandra, listen to me. Unlock your door, roll down your window and, very carefully, turn around so you're facing the side of the mountain. If anything happens and the truck starts to slide off the side, you THROW yourself out and away from the truck then go for help. Understand me?" I gulped and asked, "But what about you, Daddy? What will you do?" He replied, "I'll be in the truck and have some protection but I don't know how far down the mountain I'll go. You have to jump out of the truck and go for help, I'm depending on you. It's cold and I'll be all right for a while but you'll need to get help as fast as you can. Now, put on your coat and be ready." So I did and, thank God, we stayed between the ditches.

Just another adventure with Daddy!

This is sort of, more or less, the beginning of Ball Alley and for a bitty piece there's a guard rail. That doesn't last long and this is the part that's most frightening (to me anyway). If the person driving down the mountain meets someone coming up the mountain, the person driving down is supposed to back up and give way. The reasoning being, it's safer (who makes up these stupid rules anyway?!). I hate and despise this stretch of road and on the return trip I swore to myself I was going the long way around. The long way around adds 38 miles and about ninety minutes (driving with the dogs, remember?) but it's on 2 lane road and there's loads of room to pass even the largest truck, coal or timber. Then I remembered I was leaving on Saturday and coal or logging trucks don't work on Saturday; I'd only have to worry about vehicles. YES! But, that's another story for a later post; I'll leave you with this final picture of the cabin Daddy and Mom built. Daddy designed it, it's about 850-900 square feet with 3 bedrooms, bath (indoor plumbing!), utility room and a great room comprising a kitchen, dining area and living room. A wood burning iron stove means heat in cold temps and open windows and fans means cooler temps when needed.

Seriously, did you think I was going to let you go without asking you to click here? Silly you! lol

There's more to this story, stay tuned...

Ponder this ~ Deep down, I'm just a West Virginia hillbilly. ~ Brad Paisley ~

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sabbath Keeping ~ Contentedness

"Better a little with righteousness
than much gain with injustice."

"Happiness is not a's a by-product of a life well lived." 
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

"Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness."
~ Pearl S. Buck ~ 

"For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain." ~ Longfellow ~

"Someone is happy with less than what you have." 

"Comparison makes find contentment difficult if not impossible." ~ Sandra ~

"Fortify yourself with contentment,
for this is an impregnable fortress."
~ Epictetus

"A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is
easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then, rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor--such is my idea of happiness." ~ Tolstoy ~

"I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; 
and he to whom that is given need ask no more." 
~ Henry Fielding

"We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without."
~ Immanuel Kant ~

" Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others.
Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval.
Because one accepts oneself; the whole world accepts him or her."
~ Lao Tzu

"He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contended with what he would like to have."  ~ Socrates ~

"Contentment makes poor men rich,
discontent makes rich men poor."
~ Benjamin Franklin ~

"What little thing last stole your happiness?"

"The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures, is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water."
~ C. S. Lewis ~

"I know what it is to be in need, 
and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content 
in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want."
~ Philippians 4:12

Please pray for ~ Maxine (who is home with hospice care) ~ Mom (who is greatly improved and able to get in/out of bed, go to lavatory and activities without assistance) ~ Anita ~ Jaqueline ~ 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Snakes and Chiggers and Ticks...OH MY!

The previous owners left lots of goodies (and, yes, I have written them a thank you note! ) but I was a trifle skittish of the swing they left. It was a lovely Cape Hatteras style swing whose glory days were passed and it's taken a while to find a replacement. The above double swing does nicely; it's made by Mennonites (there's a large Mennonite population in central/southside Virginia) and this one was found at Miller's Country Store near Farmville. Today Tori, a young friend, and I removed the old swing and put up this new a downpour no less. This part of the country has had rain, rain and more rain, a "real frog strangler" as Andy Griffith said in his comedy routine. (I tried to find it for you but was unsuccessful.) 

Back to the swing...there are cushions but only to be used when sun is shining, although Tori and I did a test sit in that heavy downpour. Nearby Powhatan County has had more than nine inches of rain my brother in Amelia County has had 8 and I'm not sure of the amount I've had but know more is expected for the next week, at least.

Above, Inky, he of Pixie and the Inkspots, is seen stretching on the left side of the swing posts. The three raised beds have yet to be filled with either dirt, horse manure or vegetables/fruits. Last month was my introduction to Medicare and it seems it takes more and more time as well as more and more me to get everything done. I've yet to fish that pond or take the kayak or john boat for a ride but that's due more to safety than anything else. My rule is if you're in the boat or kayak, you must have on a life jacket and if I'm here with no other humans, I stay on terra firma. 

In our haste, that rule was broken a few days ago when Ronnie (doing some tractor and other farm work) saw movement on the pond. He knew a condition of fishing and hunting here was to kill muskrats, and when he saw the water break, he thought it was a muskrat and pumped that sucker full of 410 shot, got into the john boat (without a life jacket...neither of us was thinking clearly!) and I pushed him into the pond. He rowed to the spot, I ran for the camera and when I got back, Ronnie had this nasty brute stretched out on the ground. It's a 2.5 foot copperhead that was still opening/closing his mouth so, using a square blade shovel, Ronnie cut off his head and threw it into the pond where fishes or turtles would eat it and the body thrown away.

The dining room furniture was delivered...WOOHOO...and it looks fabulous! More photos later but wanted you to know even Gypsy approves as she found her spot on the lower shelf before the rest of the china was added. At least, the rest of it that's unpacked; there are still a few dozen boxes of "stuff" in the basement and I'm hoping to find kitchen knives, rest of dishes and Lord only knows what else. John Robertson, owner East Coast Primitives, did a fabulous job and it's nice to have available dishes, tea sets and other things that hold so many memories. (When he first arrived, John exclaimed, "You sure do like your solitude, don't you?!" My response, "Yes, I like people in small numbers and from a great distance." which is not surprising considering I am INTJ. (Dave was also INTJ and was in process of applying to MENSA, while I'm hard pressed to pass algebra. LOL)

A while back, Daddy and I went for a Gator ride; he wanted to show daffodils that were blooming at the site of an old homestead. Hard to believe that man will be 90 this year; still going strong and has almost finished planting his more than one acre garden! The other morning, while I was doing barn chores, he left a message, "I can't seem to find my start button this morning. Have you seen it?" I had to laugh; it was almost 10:00 and I was just going to the barn for my morning chores; some days the start button stay hidden better than other days! I tend to rise early but devotions take a good portion of my morning.

 Double headed daffodil ~

 Oh...the "chigger" portion of the title...if you aren't familiar with chiggers, count your BLESSINGS! As the ole feller said, "Chiggers done near et me up!" Trombiculidae are in the mite family (I know, gag...right!?) Even worse (oh gets worse?!!!), these obnoxious pests are classified as arachnids...yes, the spider and tick family! (I think I liked being ignorant better!) If you're truly interested in more information, a search will give you lots and lots more info, including how to ease the pain from bites. Any time of anti-itch cream helps but my old standby is plain bleach because I don't want to ease the pain, I want those suckers d.e.a.d. and bleach will do that job rather nicely. Bleach isn't all that good for human skin so I wet a paper towel and take a swipe over the bites. A friend uses a Q-tip which takes entirely too long to suit me but to each their own.

This part of Virginia is also bad for ticks and I've grown accustomed to doing a body search on a nightly basis. When I forget, I certainly depend on the incessant itching produced when such a critter has found a (temporary) home.

Truth be told, I'd grown rather indifferent to snakes, chiggers and ticks because the mountains have no chiggers, few ticks and the snakes didn't venture into the valley. Much. At the last farm, folks would ask, "Why do you have so many barn cats?" (Frankly, I didn't think eight or ten cats were too many at the barn.) and I'd reply, "I can cats or I can have rats and I'd rather have cats." I still feel the same way and am hoping the snakes stay at the upper end of the pond, I'm mowing all the tall grass and fallen leaves and expecting "wild life" to keep their distance. (Please God, answer my prayer!)

~ Sadie surveys her kingdom

We're all enjoying our new location and doing our part...the studio has a new shop vac to suck up the saw dust and dirt, all furniture has now been delivered and put into place, mowing and harrowing of fields is taking place, gathering yet more clothes and household furnishings to giveaway, flowers are ready to go into pots, a few herbs wait for their turn, etc. All is well.

There's time for other fun as well and Rose Patch Creations owner, Kimberly, has started a Featherweight Sewing Club. Jan, my cousin, has a shop in West VA and sold a Featherweight machine to me and the upstairs study (where the television is also located) will hold a small sewing table, chair and other sewing accommodations. First on my list is a quilt for Maxine who is now home and making progress. She's in desperate need of prayer while she gains strength to begin chemo and radiation for the same malady as has John McCain. On the good news front, Mom is doing much better and a noticeable improvement has been made since she's been in the nursing/rehab center. She's now able to go to the lavatory without assistance, has PT twice a day, five days a week and is expected to do more in the way of skills this coming week.

Almost daily, a rehab person will give her quizzes such as "Name a president who was assassinated." Most would name Kennedy but Mom, being a history buff, named Lincoln, then Garfield. The rehab person was surprised; apparently, she'd forgotten about Lincoln and didn't know about Garfield. I told Mom if the rehab person said, "Name two days of the week", Mom should reply, a la Forrest Grump, "Today and tomorrow." Mom said, "No, I don't want to give any "smart" answers; they might want to keep me and I'm ready to GO HOME!" She's been a trooper and we hope for her release by month's end.

That's not all the news but it's taken me three hours to update so will say thank you for reading, for your prayers, your good wishes, your kindness to me. All greatly appreciated. God speed, be safe.

Ponder this ~ "Simplicity is the highest goalachievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Chopin

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sabbath Keeping - Mother's Day

~ Mom, Sister and Great Grandson ~ 

"Honor your father and your mother,
so that you may live long in the land
the Lord your God is giving you.":
~ Exodus 20:12

"Next to God,
thy parents."
~ William Penn

"Appreciate your parents. You never know what sacrifices they went through for you."
~ unknown ~

"Love your parents. We are so busy growing up, we often forget they are also growing old."
~ unknown ~

"Don't use the sharpness of your tongue on the mother who taught you to speak."
~ Ali Ibn Abi Talib ~

"It takes courage to be a mother."
~ Sandra

"But there's a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begin." ~ Mitch Albom ~

"If you can't go back to your mother's womb, 
you'd better learn to be a good fighter."
~ Anchee Min

"But kids don't stay with you if you do it right. It's the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won't be needed in the long run." ~ Barbara Kingsolver

"Forgiveness does not mean excusing." 
~ C. S. Lewis ~

For a lot of people, mother's day (or father's day) is indescribably difficult. So many haven't had a Godly parent or had a "godly" parent who was abusive (especially behind closed doors). Some were given into foster care or adoption, others abandoned outright, others abused physically, emotionally, verbally. When God say "honor your father and mother" He doesn't ask us to give up ourselves; as  Lewis says, "Forgiveness does not mean excusing". Some people are meant to be loved from a great distance, others with no contact at all. If this day has been difficult, God knows and understands; give it to Him, let the bitterness, anger, resentment fade. Only He is able to heal your hurts, be a balm in Gilead, restore you to wholeness. Let Him.

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Honor your father and mother - which is the first commandment with a promise -
so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
~ Ephesians 6:1-3

Please pray for ~ Maxine ~ Gladys ~ yourself ~

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Sabbath Keeping - God Time

"For you, 
a thousand years are as a passing day,
as brief as a few night hours."

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. 
Don't be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking. 
Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. 
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."
~ Steve Jobs ~

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. 
The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."
~ Thomas Edison

"Let us never know what old age is.
Let us know the happiness time brings, 
not count the years."
~ Ausonius ~

"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," sand Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times.
But that is not for them to decide.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
~ J. R. R. Tolkien ~

Someone said, "Time heals all wounds." 
While I that may be true, I prefer to think time wounds all heels.
~ Sandra ~

"Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, only this time more intelligently."
~ Henry Ford ~

"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."
~ Warren Buffet ~

"Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity."
~ Jean de La Bruyere ~

"Never cut down a tree in the wintertime.
Never make a decision in the low time.
Never make your most important decision when you are in your worst moods.
Be patient.
The storm will pass.
The spring will come."
~ Robert Schuller

"The time is always right to do what is right." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~

"How did it get so late so soon?" ~ Dr. Seuss ~ 

"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: 
With the Lord a day is like a thousand ears,
and a thousand years are like a day."

Please pray for ~ Maxine (five hour surgery to remove cancerous brain tumor, couldn't get it all so she'll have to have chemo and radiation) ~ Mom (in rehab for fractured hip, pelvis and chipped right ankle from being T-boned in car accident) ~ 

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