Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Importance of Process


Okay, so my mom will be here tomorrow. Wow, the months have flown! Before her visit I had planned to...

... cover the un-planted half of my garden with tarps and hay...
... pre-cook a bunch of meals...
...buy rugs for the sleeping porch and the reading room upstairs...
...plant more flowers along two sides of our house...
...sweep our whole barn loft, clean it out, and hang things for the beginning of our 'museum'...
...dig a fire pit and surround it with rocks...
...prepare our bedroom downstairs so my mom can stay there...
... paint our front stairs, our kitchen, two walls of our living room, our guest room, our half-bath-maybe-someday, two chairs, the stairwell and our entire sleeping porch...
...mow three acres (or so) of our land...
... wash, repair and clean everything and make this place appear as though we've lived here 20 years.

You know... stuff like that.

But alas, I've done probably just a tad more than half of that. And like I said, she's coming tomorrow.

But you know? All along I've reminded myself of something I wish to live by. And it is this:

The process is just as important as the finished product.

When--later-- I look at the barn loft, I do not want to think, "Oh yeah. This is the space where I went ballistic because I only had an hour to work on it and I didn't finish it in time and I got all mad at Tom because he interrupted me, needed my help with something, and then we had a great big, fat fight."
For me, that would mar the enjoyment of what 'my hands had wrought.'

It matters to me that the final product brings back pleasant memories... that I was awake during the process... took my time and maybe even hummed a tune. And smiled a lot.

And well, really, you don't know how often these past three months I've practically forced myself to switch out of 'hurry up mode'. Over and over I've reminded myself to enjoy, enjoy, enjoy rather than race, race, race. I've had to slow my pace and even stop at times to regroup inside my head.

And that has made all the difference.

And now I have a few small projects left which perhaps my mom and I can finish together. She's a crafty person and enjoys creative work. There will be days when Tom has the car at work and we'll be here alone... and now there will be plenty to do.

It will be a Good Thing, as Martha says. Always, there's something to be done on a farm and how wild and crazy of me to have imagined I could have done it all alone and in three months! :)




Just One Thing



This morning this post, below, came to my mind as I laid contact paper in the upstairs vanity then covered a small box of doilies I keep inside. Just one tiny improvement, yet it felt grander than that. I open the cupboard now and smile when I see the yellow and red floral contact paper--so cheerful! (And besides, it feels good to make any improvement upon this day, to control something and make it brighter, what with the economy being what it is...)

So here's my old post... an oldie, but I hope a goodie:

***
Years ago I read that a woman made one new improvement to her home each day--and I was inspired! I mean, just think... if you changed only one thing about your home or about your life each day, by the year's end, you'd have made 365 changes.

And the kinds of changes I'm speaking of are simple:

Place some flowers from your yard in a vase.
Rearrange the furniture in one room.
Wash one shelf of knick-knacks.
Clean-out one closet, one drawer, or one cupboard.
Paint one chair or one wall.
Place pretty contact paper in one drawer.
Run one errand.
Dig one flower bed.
Create one quiet reading corner just for you.
Rearrange the items on one table.
Deep clean one room.
Gather one bag of cast-offs for a thrift shop.
Wash one decorative pillow.
Hang one picture.

...I'm sure you can think of a hundred more 'one things' ... non-oh-so-daily things (the stuff you 'should' do each day doesn't count).

Sometimes we just get stuck on the couch in an overwhelmed frame of mind, dreading the one-hundred things which need to be done... And sometimes just by standing-up and doing that one simple thing, we are then inspired to do yet another thing and then another... Pushing past the awful weight of lethargy and hopelessness can be the start of creativity-released.

One thing--one new thing a day. I love that.

It also works for relationships... one new thing to resuscitate that friendship I've let slide.... one thing to show my husband he's still my favorite friend... one thing to show my daughter she's always in my thoughts even though she's no longer living in our house...

... and on and on until one thing has become thousands of things over the years and feeling overwhelmed has become just a vague memory.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More Pics, More Projects





My latest project is our upstairs half-bath-maybe-someday, a room I've never shown you before. But I'll just finish these two walls and move on to the sleeping porch. My mom will arrive from CA on Wednesday so when I show her this upstairs room I at least can say, "I've only just started on this."
I like this blue. I bought a small can of "oops paint," poured it into a large empty can, then added white. So don't ask me what it's called... I may just tell you "Debra's Blue," as a friend of mine in the 90's used to call cornflower blue. I smile when I remember that. And her.

Everything needs a second coat so do not peek too closely.


Oh, and the cord running up the window, well, ignore that. Lennon and McCartney's litter boxes are in this room so we run the fan which must be plugged into the ceiling light (!)...Oh, the joys of old houses...

I just wanted you to know where I am and what I'm doing... and why I am not here in Blogland more often.

***
Oh, and the sink and vanity are something we found at a yard sale months ago for just $15. Are yard sales terrific, or what?

Friday, September 26, 2008

This Is Mostly a Test



I was going to write, 'This Is Only a Test,' but in the case of what's happening to the U.S. financial situation, well, it's more.

But still, it is a test. Will we panic? Will we react drastically and make stupid decisions (which may appear like correct ones at this moment)?Will we whimper and complain and moan a whole lot? Will we doubt God and all His promises?

Heaven forbid. Now is the time to draw closer to God, though technically, the time before all this was a darn good time to draw closer to Him, too. Anytime is the right time to link your arm in His and walk down streets and Life together. Close, sides touching.

Actually, all I want to say--the only advice I want to give today--is this: Please do not torture yourself with the news about this latest crisis. For heaven's sake, do not park in front of your tv or computer for the latest dire, end-of-the-world words from the Press.

One of my favorite authors used to do that (by way of newspapers and radio news) decades ago and suffered greatly for it. In her journals she wrote that she just couldn't help reading/listening to the latest WWII news, all the casualties and where the enemies had advanced and conquered that day, etc. Her journals are full of depression and melancholy--not only for that reason--but she spent much of her life disappointed in others, in her marriage, and blown away by Life's unfairness and tragedies. She lived in a place where I was headed during my Nevada Years--years I concentrated upon what was going wrong, rather than right. Years where I tried to yank from people what only God could give me... years when I lost gallons of serotonin through my anger--and disappointment.

She was an author many of us have read and loved and--I hesitate to say this since I try to keep this blog upbeat--it was revealed by her family just this week that she did not die of natural causes. Instead, she committed suicide, a fact which the family hid for 60 years.

There is a reason for verses like this one:

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things..." Philippians 4:8

And yes, we should stay informed, but there's being informed and then there's being bombarded inside your head. There's overload. There's not getting up from the couch or computer chair when Grace says, "Enough!", becoming then, disobedient to God.

So here's hoping you are drawing closer to the only One who --when it comes down to it--keeps us safe and sane and wise. And at peace, even if all the rest of the world is in panic mode.


******



I realize some of you are wondering about the author I mentioned. You can email me if you'd like her name and a link to her granddaughter's article. But I'm thinking you'd rather not know. Frankly, I'm sorry I found out, for it was hard to shake the sadness. Yet if you don't mind your day being ruined, you can email me here: GladOne4@yahoo.com



******


The above photo shows the cute Mary Englebreit tray I found at an estate sale today.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Of Painting and Resting And Bonnie Hunt


I actually learned how to charge our camera's battery so here are some pics mostly from my kitchen. I was thinking the side of the hutch top leaned toward overdone, but in this photo it's not too bad. hmmm. At least to me.

I found this tin at an estate sale. Seventy-five cents. 1950's maybe?
Here's a side of our kitchen you've never seen. I would show you the sink just inches to the left, but it's full of dirty dishes. heh. Everything that is blue I painted blue last week and the same for the red.
Found this cast iron thing over the door at a yard sale for just $1. I've no idea why I love cast iron and wrought iron. I just do.
And this arrived yesterday from my online friend, Ellen. How thoughtful of her to have something made for us which displays the name of our new place!

So that's all the photos for now...

I did want to mention that always around 2:00 each day I'm ready for (another) break. Don't know why 2:00 is the resting hour--it just is. Well, for months I called that 'TV's Dead Hour' because there was absolutely nothing clever/cute/interesting on. But alas! Now we have The Bonnie Hunt Show. Does anyone else enjoy this show as much as Tom and I do? We've always liked Bonnie's sense of humor and now we watch her and feel as though a friend of ours has her own talk show (love her childhood memories!). Bonnie is great--she makes me laugh until the tears come. Check her out on NBC.


***
Have a few minutes? Here's an article which will scare you from becoming a pack rat.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

(To be read with a smile...)

I enjoy the blog, Morning Ramble. Always, if I have time for only two or three blogs, I'll check out that one. I don't agree with everything she says, but I like the way she says it. heh. (Besides, how many blogs are there in which we agree with everything?)

The author lives in the Texas countryside and often writes about how simple country life is on her two acres. How she's living the simple life and it would be good if we all did.

Hmm. I'm thinkin' that country life in Texas must be way different than country life in New York.

Out here, Tom and I have never seen so much complication in all our lives.

Man... There's so much redecorating to do, so much yard work, that my meal-planning is almost nil. We eat out too much (taking time and $$). Or I heat quick stuff, easy stuff, and then wonder why I'm pretty cranky and not feeling great like I used to.

And we must travel ten (or so) miles to the nearest 'real supermarket' which means we had to buy an ice chest for our perishables (fortunately we found a plug-into-your-cigarette-lighter kind at a yard sale). Yet we also must remember to bring it with us (a real challenge). And there's all that extra gas... and trying to group and time our errands just so... and coming up with a complete grocery list so we don't forget anything... and forgetting things anyway...

Then there's the tractor Tom 'had' to buy (jury's still out on that one). Of course, now it needs more attachments (more $$)... and Tom had to replace the tires for the tractor's garden cart we bought at a yard sale earlier (replacements which involved a few trips to the far-away tractor store because the tire size was off just one-eighth inch)... which involved more gas, more time and more $$$ and more traveling to the cities/traffic we moved out here to get away from.

Then there's the winterizing of the house--the new windows, the insulation, the glass block windows for the basement.... more $$$ and more guys stomping all over my ferns up next to the house just as they would recover from the last guys stomping all over them. And there's the picture window which must be replaced because the mysterious gas inside leaked (or something) and it's all foggy and resembles an oil slick from the outside... but fortunately that's free and no extra $$$, just waiting for more repairmen (who will stomp all over our ferns).

Then there's all these rooms which I'm trying to repaint before my mother comes to visit from CA next week... of course, I don't have to paint them all before she arrives, but hey...

And all of those change of address forms for our mail... and memorizing a new address and a new phone number (at our age?)...

And Tom lined up a company to add onto the barn but they've not come yet because we've had record amounts of rain this summer and they're all behind... not to mention the $$$ the addition will mean...

Then there's my having to move my whole vegetable garden out to the meadow next year (starting from scratch) because our neighbor sprays his lawn with chemicals just feet away.

And of course, we had to buy tons of stuff for the house and barn... things like furniture, beds and dressers (for the house and drawer-less, shelf-less barn), gardening tools of all sizes, even trash cans because in the suburbs we had city-issued ones and our town isn't that advanced out here. You must buy your own.

Of course, I'm not complaining...

We wouldn't trade our nearly 4 acres for anything. Not yet, anyway. Just the fresh air, alone, makes the complication worth it.

But here's my point---Life will always be what you, yourself, make it, wherever you happen to be living that life. You so don't need to move to the countryside to lead a simple life--you can live simply even inside a city apartment (Life in our apartment this past year was easy and simple beyond belief. It super-appealed to my inner laziness.)

Also, you don't need to get rid of everything you own to live simply ('less to care for' and all that). Fact is, Life gets rough if you toss your dressers (bureaus) and no longer have drawers for your clothes/important papers/tools/household supplies for repairs, etc. Trust me, I am so there.

So be encouraged. And please don't go moving out here to the country in hopes of discovering The Simple Life. Chances are, you're already living more simply than us country folk. Believe it, or not.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Being At Rest With Who I Am


Still here... still busy with good things.

I finished painting our kitchen, well, except for the part behind the refrigerator. I did move the hutch next to it away from the wall, but I refused to move the refrigerator, too, and just did my best reaching around it. Then yesterday I straightened the kitchen, made it nice so I could show you pictures... aimed the camera just so and then drats! It told me to charge the battery pack. Not knowing how to do that, I admitted defeat.

But see, I tried.

Tom and I visited my favorite type of estate sale yesterday, one very much like those I described here. The cutest Cape Cod house with nooks, crannies, built-ins, two little glassed-in porches and a feeling of 1930 in every small room, even to the black-and-white movie playing on two old tv's. Never do I tire of those and I walked away with inspiration beaming from my eyes, surely.

On Friday we drove to the edge of our country town to a yard sale, but it felt eerily like the edge of the Earth. We traveled through miles of long cornfield halls, finally arrived at the tall, yellow farmhouse, got out of the car, closed the doors and wow! The silence was so heavy that it roared in our ears. The house, yard and barns stood in a cut-out square in the center of long, endless cornfields and the sun shown on every stalk. Glorious.

It's so good to be exactly where God planned for you to be. And it's so right to be who He planned for you to be, as well. Lots of people convince lots of other people to be something other than themselves (often from behind pulpits, desks or in front of tv cameras). And how unfair (and ignorant) to be told our dreams are not correct or godly because they are not their dreams.



No wonder many of us wake up in our 40's and 50's like an uncomfortable stranger within our own skin, dicover that we've been duped and then find it easier--and more joyful--to follow God. After all, only He knows exactly who He created us to be and only He can lead us to who we are in Him...and draw others to Him through our unabashed joy.



And only He waits around long enough for us to finish with all our sorry detours.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Guess Who Got His Tractor?



Heh. Did you catch that Cheshire grin?

And here it's not even the $12,000 one he was eyeing. But he's happy, tickled pink, and that's what matters. His buddy, Al, put it together for him and gave Tom a terrific deal. Just a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand (which made Debra awfully happy, too).

And so the adventure continues....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time Warp Wives

My online friend, Anne, has come through again. And in her words I say to you, "You've got to read this."

(I giggled through the entire thing and positively yearned for these women to live on my street. This so inspired me--let me know if it inspires you!)


***
Thanks, Anne!


When Naomi was six years old, Tom worked every Friday night so those became our Art Nights. Naomi's and mine.

First we'd put in a cassette tape, some kind of music we both enjoyed, and then we would create, sometimes together, often separately. Naomi would dive into her craft kit, a box of recyclable stuff--cardboard, milk cartons, paper and fabric--and I'd grab a paint can and a brush and paint a wall or a chair. Songs would play, we'd make masterpieces and we'd each feel like an Artiste.

One Friday night I even sawed a hole in the ceiling so we could climb up to the large attic room without having to use the icy stairs outside. I was brave back then. Or stupid. Whichever.

Around 7:30, or so, we'd flip on the tv and listen to comedies (oh, those family-friendly 1980's comedies!) then stop creating long enough for a snack. Usually by now Naomi would be wearing a blouse or dress she had cut from fabric and stapled and taped together--I should have taken more pictures but back then we either couldn't afford film/developing the film or I was too unorganized to find a camera, working batteries and film all simulataneously. It was always something.

Yet the photos I would have taken are all here now--inside my head. I see 6-year-old Naomi and those Friday nights as clearly as I see this computer screen. Mothers don't forget those kinds of hours. Ever.

But what I find amazing is that now--22 years later--even here alone, I can go on creating, all day long if I wish. If my head is no longer in imaginative clouds, if my house no more reflects a colorful, creative bent, well, it's my own fault. Just because my little girl grew up, that's no excuse for my outgrowing dreamy days of paint and collage and cutting holes in ceilings...

Fact is, Naomi still is a creative soul and now she sews with a machine instead of tape and staples... But she makes her projects miles away from my home here. And that's ok. We still create together, for can a mother and daughter ever really be far apart?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008



Hurricane Ike stopped by our house Sunday night, yes, all the way up here in New York. He pruned our trees for us, dead little branches and leaves over a couple acres and probably 130 pine cones down from our two pines. Thousands of homes lost power, but ours remained. He also lowered our temperatures by twenty degrees.

Small stuff. I can spend a couple days picking up debris. But Ike earned my respect, for this was only a remnant and he'd had thousands of miles over which to lose his strength.

I have a friend with just one child left in her nest and she's struggling, wanting her family back, especially since her husband left the nest, too, a few years ago (though technically, she does not want him back). I give her advice, encourage her to create an exciting life for herself, fill her days and time with new adventures and new friends. A new 'family', if you will. But even with my words and my own experiences, still she must find her own way and go through the pain of letting children grow up. There aren't many things in Life harder than facing that pain, letting it wash over you, rather than avoiding it, only to feel it slap you around eventually.

Some things we just must walk through. And Heaven help you if you walk through them alone.

All these changes in our Country! Biblical-scale prophecy all coming about in, like, two weeks it seems. But we were warned a couple thousand years ago of all this in pages and pages of the Bible. Rather like my friend who was warned probably by all her relatives that her three children would grow up someday and fly. After all, that's what parenting is vastly all about.

But when the changes happen our mind reels backward (mine did) and recalls--mainly--the dearest times of parenting. The harmonious, sunny days when everyone got along and Life felt like a picnic. When facing the empty nest, the stormy, hard, uncomfortable times mysteriously are forgotten.

But I have found that a whole, different life once past the pain of letting go, can be Amazing. Amazing! Because for some of us that's what it takes to finally cling to the only unchangeable One in the universe. An empty nest is often the link to the relationship with the One who will never change... never get mad and not speak to us.. and never fly away.

It's the pain of an empty nest (or an empty bank account or a destroyed home) which can push us into the path of seeking Him who, yes, we should have sought much sooner, especially in a deeper, more intimate way. But isn't it astounding that He can stand in the path's middle for years and years, with an open hand, waiting for us? Waiting to continue our Life's journey with us, making it more incredible than we ever imagined it could be. Even with no small children... even with less money or less house or tweaked circumstances--things we once believed we'd die without should they ever be there no more.



***
My kitchen is above again because this weekend I hung the red shelf on the wall to the right. Just had to show you. :)


Sunday, September 14, 2008

We needed a real couch for our living room. When two friends visited us weeks ago, only they and Tom were able to sit in the same part of the room. I had to stand.

So not good.

We want ours to be a welcoming sort of house, so we needed a couch for guests to sit or sleep upon, should they spend the night and should we run out of rooms/beds/places to put them. Not to mention that I'd grown weary of watching tv all contorted in our high-armed love seat.

So yesterday we bought a new couch at, er, don't laugh... American Freight. And you might not believe this (Tom still cannot) but I agreed to a leather sofa. Bonded leather, that is. Other more unbelievable facts? It was just $398 (eagle-eye Tom found a teeny hole in it so without batting any proverbial eyes, the store people took $100 off). And they had same day delivery ($69). And I love this new couch.



And remember how I said I wanted more glass tables? We bought two of them while we were there, see if you can find them here:



Here's one closer-up:



And now our love seat has been sent to the corner, but it's a nice corner, I think:



I'm still amazed at how God provides for us inside this old farmhouse. Of course, we could have found a cheaper couch at an estate sale, but then Tom and I would have had to lug it inside the house. And well, uh, we used to always put saving money above saving our backs but we were young then--and now we are old. Or perhaps now we are wiser and can trust God to cover delivery charges. He's never failed us yet.

It's funny, but here online I've practically coveted tons of pretty living rooms with all white furniture and pink or green walls. And well, hopefully soon our walls will be green, but never will our furniture be all white--it's too late for that. But the strange part is that my delight in the furniture we've bought goes deeper than my oh-I-love-the-all-white-look. I'm certain I'd have tired of all that white stuff (tired of always cleaning it, certainly). But the rooms we've got going here are morphing into a certain fantasy look which has been inside my head since I was a child.

There's a certain look I've craved way before I ever went online and every once in awhile I'll see it in a house on tv or one in a decorating book. I can't describe it, really... it's an old look, a 'Time Forgot' look, like discovering a mansion with an overgrown yard and unique, quirky people inside who inherited the place, grew up there, and never changed a thing. Long velvet drapes, sweet potatoes rooted in water jars and sunlight and leaf shadows dancing across the floor. Piles of books, dishes, seashells and lots of plants. A sort of Pier 1, many-textured kind of place.

I'll bet you never heard a decorating look described like that before... I warned you I couldn't describe it. :) This essay by Nancy Eberle veers close to the description.

And almost by itself it's happening, taking shape within these old rooms. There's a certain feeling I've always desired for my house, but too often I became distracted by what friends or The Times were doing. Maybe it's taken getting past what people think to finally have the kind of house I was never brave enough to have before.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Before we moved here, I had everything figured out. Everything was planned in my head.

Always, I have mowed our various lawns. I enjoy it, I need the exercise and since Tom works hard at his job (and has a variety of herniated discs in his back), I accept this task without complaint. I also planted all flowers and did all landscaping myself, again, because I wanted to. For pert near 30 years, in fact.

So my plan was this: we'd move to this farm, and Life would stay the same, just on a larger scale. I would, as always, do all the mowing and landscaping, but now, Tom would putter in the barn. Do lightweight woodworking projects. He'd work his power plant job and we'd pay other guys to do the big projects here. And Tom would fix small appliances for me in the barn and put up shelves to keep things organized while I zip past the doors with the lawnmower and a smile and a wave.

Huh.

Life Down On The Farm has so not turned out that way. We got out here and suddenly Tom wants to play Old MacDonald. He's done way too much heavy lifting and all he does is talk and eat and dream tractors, tractors, tractors. All of his sentences begin with, "If we had a tractor..." All day long it's, "A tractor would save us money. A tractor would make our life easier. We need a tractor out here." blah...blah...blah... I asked him to wait until next year to think about tractors and he said okay. Then talked about getting one twenty minutes later.

And now not only does he want to mow these lawns--with a tractor, not a lawnmower, of course, (mowing after 30 years of being a non-mower!), but suddenly he notices flowers everywhere and he asks me what they are called. He tells me where we should plant all these flowers. He even wants to dig up wildflowers along the road--but I won't let him. I'm too chicken--property lines and farmers with guns and all that.

Argh. Who is this man??

For three months we have argued about tractors (sometimes when I catch him peeking at Craig's List tractors). I have tried talking him out of a tractor because they are too expensive--we need the money for projects around the house (to which he says, "Exactly! A tractor can do those projects." To which I ask, "It can add a half-bath upstairs or put in a new kitchen??!). And they're dangerous--I've heard horror stories. They're time-consuming, they break down and they take expensive diesel. And Tom is supposed to be taking life easier now, not taking on big messy jobs. And I know how he is--he takes too many risks.
And I'm certainly not going to ride around in a tractor to mow our lawn. I love using our old-fashioned mower , little row by little row, and it's a wonderful work-out for me--and I'm keeping caught-up just fine, especially since two of our neighbors sometimes mow a bit for me.

But still he persisted that we neeeeed a tractor. I asked him to not talk to me about it anymore, but he couldn't help it. His friend at work, Al, (a real-live mechanic), collects tractors like some people collect silver spoons, and whenever he sees a tractor for sale, he calls Tom (if I'm nearby, Tom practically whispers to Al on the phone. They and their covert phone calls.).

Finally this week I admitted to myself that I'm sick of arguing about tractors. And I'm tired of being afraid of them, too--of their expense and danger and whatever else. And mostly I was tired of this lack of peace which always means--somewhere--I took a wrong turn. I so need and crave daily peace in my life and I hate it when it's missing.

So when I woke up Tom on Tuesday morning I told him, "I give up. I know when to quit. Just get your tractor. I'm not going to argue about it anymore. Just do me a favor--please try not to talk with me about tractors. Ok? Just talk to Al about them. Oh, but there's one thing.... If you can shop for a tractor, then I can shop for things for the house. It's only fair."

Well, my little speech totally made Tom's day. He emailed Al about it and they had a good cyber laugh together. And life has been a whole lot better around here. Peaceful. And I expect that it will stay that way if I stay in the Trusting God Mode rather than the Fear-Based Mode. That just may please God a whole lot more...
Nothing is worth losing peace.

We'll see how things go.
***
You're probably wondering--yes, Tom knows I'm writing this post. He asked me yesterday if I'd written it yet. He wants to read it. heh.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008




Chatty Cathy will be filling in for Debra today.

Tom and I drove to the big city yesterday, otherwise known as Amherst, NY, and so, like, when did Barnes and Noble go from playing contemplative classical music to hair-ripping acid rock?? &*^%$. I bought a magazine, then got the heck out of there. Walked down to Target where it was blessedly quiet--no music! I bought a yogurt parfait, found a secluded, hall-like corner of their cafe and read in bliss.


Barnes and Noble--just so you know--Debra is upset with you.


After three hours, Tom picked me up and took me over to Pier One where I finally--finally!-- used my Christmas gift card from Naomi. What I bought is at the top of this post.

That glass-topped table is amazing. You can make it a plant stand, an end table, even a coffee table for the right sofa. Looks perfect in our house and I'd like three more, all different sizes. Did you spy the tiny bird? I may add more.

Anyway, the magazine I bought (splurged on... wasn't cheap) was Artful Blogging, something I bought for blogging inspiration. Wow, it provided that and I recommend it if you're considering quitting blogging, questioning why you ever began, or if you enjoy art and photography or are looking for cool blog ideas and new blogs to peruse. It's all in there and perhaps it will keep you from bailing out of Blogland.

Oh, and (total switch of gears) I forgot to tell you... Where my garden is currently, next year I hope to build (or have built) a picket fence like this around it:



... and then plant gobs and gobs of flowers inside. Huge, tall flowers which grow high above the pickets. Then our neighbor can spray his chemicals all he wants since Tom and I do not eat flowers. Well, maybe not spray all he wants... sigh...

I am greatly anticipating making my own Secret Vegetable Garden out in the meadow next year. People say it will be hard--I disagree. Tom and I can make a couple simple frames, then we'll have a truck deliver some soil--back right up to the trees. I'll fill the boxes, I'll start small--did that before in our last yard and made four frames myself 22 years ago at the first house we bought.

I will prefer gardening back there because I will be hidden. Probably no one peeks out their windows at me now, but it feels like they do. I had 15 years of that in our last house (with its fenceless yard two feet away from the neighbors') and what I've longed for all along is privacy in my own back yard, where I can sit still for hours and stare at a green plant if I wish.

Finally I will have privacy. Just God, Grace and me back there in the meadow. I can't wait!


***
Have some extra time? Here are a couple blogs from the aforementioned Artful Blogging:

Soule Mama --especially nice for those in the middle of their Mothering Years.
Raised In Cotton --amazing photography and crafts (may take a minute to load)


Monday, September 08, 2008


See these three cups and saucers? I found them this weekend at a yard sale for just 5 cents each. They are from England and everything. :)

Yard sales are terrific, but you must be willing to visit ones which have nothing of interest to you. You'll drive to many from which you'll return to the car with not one treasure in your hands. It's all part of the game... and the Patience Test.

Gas prices being what they are, Tom and I try to stick to certain boundaries when it comes to yard sales. Fortunately, our boundaries now are all countryside boundaries... Country folk--kindred spirits, many-- hold the best yard sales and often inside old, old barns, a bonus. I stand inside and gaze up at dark rafters and windows and dove nests and picture old-time children leaping from lofts into piles of hay.

Also fortunately, Tom and I now live near 5 'reservation gas stations' so all along we've been able to buy our gas for less (although, weeks ago, it was hard thinking of $4.05 a gallon as 'less.'). Alas.

And speaking of money... While I paid our bills last week Tom sat here at the computer and I told him, "You know, I can't believe our credit rating is so high. Our checkbook says we are always broke and these cash machine withdrawals in here are beyond believable."

But you know? Tom and I do try to spend money wisely... and we do tithe... and we do make the most of sale prices and yard sales... And always, God provides. Somehow. Mysteriously. And in spite of our mistakes, which we wouldn't make if only we listened more closely... if only we could always wait awhile for the things we want most... if only we were always led by Him in our purchases.

Like yesterday, maybe... We'd planned to eat lunch at a popular restaurant in our tiny town, but on the way, we noticed the retro malt shoppe had no cars out front. Not one. We drove down the street to the popular restaurant and the parking lot was packed. P-a-c-k-e-d! Immediately we both agreed, "Let's go back to the malt shoppe, even though their selection is much, much smaller. They need us."

We believe God blesses stuff like that. Someday when we're not even expecting it, a blessing will flutter down to us because of that one simple decision.

Slowly we are getting there. It's all part of the journey.... all part of dying to self and our ways as opposed to His.


***
I also found this trivet at the same yard sale with the cups and saucers. It reminds me of David Grayson's, A Day of Pleasant Bread, a lovely chapter which you can read here.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Three Helpful Hints




My online friend, Anne, sent me this YouTube link to a song by Brad Paisley (Tom's favorite) which has Andy Griffith (my favorite) in it. Throughout the song, there are hints which just may save a marriage. Hence, why I'm sharing it with you.

Hint #2: Months ago while on Oprah, Julia Roberts and a friend shared a recipe for a rinse which they said would wash chemicals (at least some) off of your fruits and vegetables. Considering where my mind has been the past couple days, I thought I'd share it with you now (I've not made it myself yet, but I plan to):

1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1 tbs. baking soda
20 drops grapefruit seed extract.

Combine and put in a spray bottle. Spray on fruits and vegetables and leave on for 5 minutes. Rinse.

Hint #3. And here's something which I've forgotten to share at least a hundred times... Did you know that raisins are more poisonous to dogs and cats than chocolate? I saw this on Rachel Ray's show and someplace else. If either animal eats raisins (or grapes), their kidneys can shut down and even cause death (they showed a dog who, later, had to be put down because he'd gotten into some raisins...). I've heard this in only two places--but I'm wondering why haven't we been told more often, as in the chocolate thing? Sigh.

I wanted to pass that along.... Occasionally I would give Lennon a raisin or two a few years ago (he loves them) and then all of a sudden he was diagnosed with diabetes and has been on insulin ever since. I'm not saying raisins caused it, but still.... I am living with the possibility that they did. And I don't want that for you to deal with...


***
Here's a page with a list of foods which should not be fed to pets.
***
You might have noticed my kitchen at the top of this. :) It's coming along s-l-o-w-l-y. Finally I did more painting today and then grabbed those yard sale runners off the back porch window and put them up in the kitchen window, instead. I'm still waiting for the orange counter tops to magically fly away...


Oh, and if you enlarge the photo you can see my "God Bless Our Home" embroidery which I made 27 years ago. It's becoming an antique!

Thursday, September 04, 2008



Ok... I've calmed down a bit after my last post. A bit. I'm still thinking I'll just move my garden out to the meadow next Spring. It's likely my current garden first grew in its present space more than 100 years ago. The dirt is probably tired anyway (even though my cherry tomato plants are six feet tall... and everything is growing amazingly well).

I removed the tarps from my garden early this morning and the woman from next door walked over and gave me back the vase from the hydrangeas I'd given her after her surgery. I didn't say a word about the lawn chemicals. Couldn't trust myself. Besides, the poor woman just had heart surgery last month and still looks a bit peaked. Sigh.

But Tom was right--everything will be all right. I feel it today.

Thanks so very much for your encouraging comments! Oh, and for the record--though we do have a well just outside our back door, we are on city water. Not that, now in 2008, that's saying anything positive. And we do use a filter jug for drinking water. We are currently, though, considering getting an all-house water filter system next year, or at the very least, a filter for the shower (should we choose the cheapo route, instead).

So Life goes on...

Did you see that chair at the top of this post? It's one Tom found on the curb years ago. As he loaded it into the car a woman stepped out of her house and said, "Oh, I'm glad you are taking that! My grandfather made that chair with those very short legs so that, when he'd put on his shoes, he'd be sitting closer to them." It's such a cute chair and I've painted it many times (tomorrow I will stencil white dragonflies or birds on it). To me, the front legs look a bit Dr. Seuss-ish.

Oh, and the carpet? We found it at a yard sale last month for just $3--and it's a 6'x9' rug(!) Not in pristine shape, but then, nothing around our farm quite is.

Life is often like that.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Arghh!

You missed something today. Debra became livid. Livid!

No, not at Tom... not this time....heh.

No, at our neighbor, the one whose property line is only around ten feet away from my garden. Why was I so mad? Because today he had his lawn sprayed with chemicals. Pesticides. Without warning us. And only feet away from my garden!

I am an organic gardener. I'm trying to run an organic farm.

Oh, I was so mad. I saw that lawn care truck pull into their driveway ("Fifty percent less pesticides" was painted on the truck. Bah! Give me a break.), and I ran out the door, telling Tom to come and help me. I grabbed a bucket then ran to the garden and hurriedly picked some tomatoes, squash and broccoli. Then, as the kid on the Motorized Contraption of Death zoomed around, I got tarps out of the barn and had Tom help me spread them over my garden plants. Over some of them. There weren't enough tarps for the whole thing.

I was just so mad... mad at our neighbor (who helps me mow our lawn--which made me feel guilty)... mad at this whole stupid, clueless world which doesn't realize how pesticides are destroying our planet --and the human race. Mad at their right to do so. And just mad at the lies we've been told... and sad.... sad that these pesticides could possibly be part of the reason our neighbor's wife just last month had a tumor removed from her heart.

I so understood why some people want, like, twenty or more acres to live on.... They want to be as far away as possible from what they cannot control. I so wanted to move to the center of twenty acres at that moment.

We did have to have the Bee Guy come weeks ago and spray two nests of yellow jackets/hornets under our siding. We hated to. But otherwise, they would have tunneled into the house. The Bee Guy shared a horrible story with us... (Dog lovers might want to skip to the next paragraph.) His neighbors had their lawn sprayed and his (Bee Guy's) German Shepherd (who went everywhere with him...the family dog) was barking so the lawn guys sprayed him. The dog got sick almost immediately ... and slowly died. I am still recovering from that horrid true story.)

Tom said, "There's one more tarp, do you want to spread it over this section?", but I was crying by then and told him, no... He said compassionately, "Oh, don't cry. It will be all right." But I just shook my head and stomped into the house.

Fortunately our neighbor was no where to be found. I would have bitten his head off.

But alas, I sat down on the couch and flipped on the tv and guess what Dr. Phil was about? Feuding neighbors (very childish, foolish ones). How it just doesn't pay... and can escalate into endless wars.

I calmed down. I told myself, "Think! There must be an answer...something besides moving away next year. (I could just see myself explaining to prospective buyers, "We're moving because our neighbors spray their lawn with Death.") Too, staying angry can be even more unhealthy than the pestisides, themselves, since held-onto anger is like poison.

Then I came up with a plan, one which Tom says would be extremely hard, but in my current wild mood, I didn't care:

Next year I will move my garden way out to the meadow. It's the farthest place I know of from spray-happy morons who are--cluelessly, ok!--killing us all, including the rabbits and birds and toads which frolic here. If I must lug tons of soil and water out there alone, so be it.

When we moved here, I so wanted to create an Earth-friendly eco-system on our 4 acres. Today I felt helpless to do that... hence my frustration, tears, and feelings of doom for our planet.

***
"Let not the sun go down on your anger..."


***
Please, please do not leave me comments saying, "Pesticides are as safe as fluffy white marshmallows. Relax."

Please don't go there...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Okay... raise your hand if you laughed at the above photo. Heh. That is the beginning of my meadow masterpiece.
I didn't tell you, but last week we found this fountain at a yard sale ($18). I was ready to let it go because we're trying to save money for the barn redo and well, we didn't neeeed a fountain. But Tom could see that I loved it and he bought it for me.
Now, the only place I could see for it was smack-dab in the center of our meadow so I loaded it on one of Tom's many carts (he has a thing for 'refrigerator dollies' of all shapes and types). Then I pulled it out to the meadow and in the sunshine whoa! Suddenly in my mind I could see the area of The Spanish Steps as I recall them from a favorite episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. Always, I've had this thing for Italy. It cannot be explained. It just is what it is.
(I tell Tom he must never, ever take me to Italy. I would throw fits at the station and refuse to come home. Some things you just know and accept.)



So I stood back from the fountain there in the sun and suddenly I could picture a whole Italian piazza/patio with white statues and marble and fountains--all right there in our meadow. I instantly headed back toward the house and thought, "To heck with the fire pit which isn't getting finished and is all weedy," and I went and dismantled the ring of rocks around it and lifted them up on the cart... and then spread them around the fountain.
Hmm. Not quite the result I'd pictured... Not quite the gleaming white stonework of the Spanish Steps... but finally I'd discovered what I want to do in the meadow. I want my own bit of Italy back there. I want a quiet place where I can go and pretend and dream (and I also want a couple benches which resemble marble to sit upon). A place for people to walk to, past the trees, and be surprised by what they discover.
I'll sink the rocks in the ground a bit to make them level and spread sand between the stones. I'll add a small statue, perhaps one which birds can eat from. And I'll pour water into the fountain after I read online how to keep it fresh (I won't be able to run the pump since it's, like, a million feet away from the house).
It will be cool--and I'll remind myself to keep it simple. Perhaps it will become much larger--or perhaps not. But I'll keep it a step-by-step thing and stay far, far away from complication.
Already I am enchanted by its small beginnings.



***
Just a few feet away, our woods:

I never, ever imagined we'd have woods one day.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day



Here where I live, schools re-open their doors tomorrow, the day after Labor Day. Just one other old-fashioned thing here in New York state (I hope my blog has changed some of your minds about our state. Much of New York is lovely old farmland peopled with lovely old-fashioned folks. Honest.)
And so tomorrow--for me--Autumn begins. I like a long, extended Autumn so I start mine early, always on the first day of school. You can do that if you wish, tweak calendars a bit... Some people say they are individualists who don't follow crowds, but still, I watch them follow calendars, something I veer from as much as I can.
An amazing time of year, September... Today I watered a couple orchard trees then stood out in my garden and ate warm, meaty cherry tomatoes. I mowed the lawn in an autumn slant of light and just 78 degrees... and then waited for Bob The Milkman who brought orange sherbet!

I painted bookshelves upstairs this morning, white, so they brightened the 'Reading Room' up there (all that dark paneling...bother...). And painted the window trim white, too, all the hours listening to The Waltons, episode after sappy, sentimental episode, crying in all the same places.

What a day, this day! Even though Tom worked nightshift and slept all afternoon and we couldn't have a picnic like the whole rest of the Country (well, Louisiana people are having no picnics either and I've been praying for them since early morning)... still, my first Labor Day down on the farm was magical. What else do you call labor which feels more like play than work? If this isn't real, please don't tell me. Sometimes I wonder-- am I here or do I just believe I am here?

***

You've never seen our upstairs Reading Room--and because it is currently so dreadful--I will show you only a corner:

That's McCartney on the chair. She and Lennon sleep there all day and then play noisily outside of our bedroom door all night.