Saturday, May 31, 2008

We have the keys! And we are loopy excited out of our minds.

But oh. my. goodness. All those papers we had to sign! Must have been at least 80 (I am so not kidding.) The neat thing was that there at the county courthouse we sat in a wing of the huge deeds room at tables along with other couples who were buying houses. I enjoyed that part--I was as excited for all of them as I was for us.

But the paperwork! And the lawyers.... sheesh. When we bought our first house in New York 15 years ago, we had 'just' two real estate lawyers present--the one representing us and the one representing the seller. Yesterday there were three--our real estate lawyer and a bank lawyer representing us, and a bank lawyer representing the sellers. And unfortunately the sale didn't go on the record yesterday because neither of the bank lawyers had even heard of a 13-year loan (and one of them was so ancient, the kind of lawyer who looks like he came with the county building when it was built eons ago). :) So some of the paperwork had to be tweaked, that required extra time and phone calls, and the window closed (literally), which made the sellers' bank lawyer quite unhappy for reasons I never did understand. In fact, I only understood a quarter of the jargon and the paperwork, just enough to get that New York state makes buying a house as complicated as it possibly can (Tom and I tried not to snicker over some of the papers we signed. The reasons for some were laughable.)

At one point, one of the lawyers, used some big, long words with the jist that Tom and I might have to wait until Monday to take possession of the house. Immediately I thought, "Oh! Just try to keep us from getting the keys today! Good luck with keeping my new old house and me apart over the weekend, especially because of typographical errors totally not our fault."

But it all worked out, for us, anyway, and we have the keys and we drove through the countryside to our old farmhouse, rejoicing. And this weekend we will be camping-out there inside the house and cleaning, laying shelf paper (I found two rolls of wallpaper upstairs--how fun!-- which I'll use), unpacking groceries and working out in the yard where the grass is getting tall so very fast.

So all this is to say my blog posts will most likely be few and far between for a couple weeks. Bear with me and keep checking back. I'd hate to lose any of you at this incredible time of my life... your kind, encouraging words have made this whole experience more special.

Thanks for all your interesting comments to my last two posts!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And then there are wonderful days like this one.

Tom and I were due, at noon, to meet our real estate lady for a final inspection out at our new house. I woke him up and said, "Hey! How about if we get out to the house early, way before Cher does, so we can walk through the places in the barn which we haven't even seen yet. And we can walk out a ways on the property, too."

Tom thought that a good idea. So we drove out there beneath the most blue skies and pulled into the gravel driveway of this soon-to-be-ours house and hardly before Tom shut off the engine I'd leaped outside of the car and began my own inspection. 

I ran to the huge garden and looked it (and its weeds) over. I gazed to my left and told Tom (who'd finally caught up), to look! And there was a second orchard which we'd not even seen before because the trees are all babies. But they are trees (Update: grape vines.).

Then we examined the barn board by board, including the chicken coop which we never did see before and a room off of it which will be a perfect place to lock-up Tom's tools until we enclose the carport on the side of the barn. We found a bird nest in the rafters complete with baby robins and we discovered lots of wood pieces which we'll be able to burn when we get a woodstove.

Then we walked around our green, pretty property and noted trees and tall grasses which need to be mowed. And beyond a grove of small trees I pictured a picnic place. Tom (the extreme nature lover) kept pointing out all the birds in the trees, but I was like, "Yeah, yeah birds. I know. We can see those anywhere. But can you believe all the trees there are back here?" 

The sense of discovery, the delight of all outdoors, well, we both felt like children again.

Then Tom and I discovered that the house was unlocked and though he was all nervous about our actually going inside, I burst right in, laughed at his nervousness and breezed through all the sunny rooms and talked to myself, too, as I checked details I'd forgotten to check before. Eventually, I talked Tom into the house ("What is anyone gonna do? Sue us for walking into this empty, unlocked house which is more ours at this moment than the previous owners?"). 

So I checked out all the rooms again, with Tom this time, then we went and picked up hamburgers down the street at the little everything-in-one-place corner market. We brought back the burgers and sat in the car before the barn (not having any insect repellent to ward off insects) and dreamed and planned some more.

Oh, we have two-hundred plans for Healing Acres. And on Friday afternoon we will begin the doing of those plans.

I simply cannot wait.


Friday, May 23, 2008

When Dreams Are a Long Time Coming

So on Tuesday I finally was able to watch (thank-you, Netflix) four episodes from the final season of Road to Avonlea. I'd missed that 7th season when it began back in the 1990's.

When the first season of Road to Avonlea began, Tom,Naomi and I lived in the middle of the Nevada desert, and well, I've told you myriad times already what that was like.Oh dear.

But Avonlea! Each week that was my paradise. I'd sit before the screen, close, to absorb the gorgeous Canadian fields, pastures and forests as well as the Victorian homes, orchards and the ocean. And I can't even explain the absolute yearning which would throb within my head and heart for all of it. 


But this past Tuesday the most remarkable thing happened. While I watched an episode of Road to Avonlea and saw various characters stroll across a pasture with an autumnal-laced forest in the background, I gasped. They might just as well have been walking along Tom's and my future piece of property. The green pasture, the tall woods--we have that! And I thought, "Oh my goodness! We will have a piece of Avonlea right in our own backyard."

And why am I writing this? To encourage those of you who have dreams that they, also, can come to pass if only you are willing to wait, work and hope a little longer. And to never stop believing for Someday.


One more thing-- do you remember how I wrote that I hope each of you have named your home? Well, I believe I've already found the name for our future place in the country.

I want it to be called Healing Acres.

Why? Because we'd love it to be a getaway place for anyone in need of spiritual, mental or emotional healing. And I'm not sure you'd agree, but I believe that's just about each of us. 

This world so quickly changes and we're bombarded with the news of what's going wrong every single day. Our neighborhoods are changing, often not for the good, and we're being squeezed financially and the temptation to latch onto all sorts of stresses is always there--

So what Tom and I want is to share this God-given gift of four peaceful acres with anyone who needs a place simply to sit with God awhile so they can remember what matters. And what does not. And Who matters most of all.


P.S. I realized this week that Road to Avonlea is my favorite tv series of all time (and trust me, that is really saying something, being an original member of the first real tv generation). 

I would love to know which show you consider to be your favorite! Please let me know in my comment box (the variety will probably be incredible) and if you've named your home I'd love to hear about that, also!


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Clothespin Art and a Baking Pantry

Just had to share this adorable clothespin idea with you from Judy's blog. I fell in love with it because in our old farmhouse I want creativity to be rampant everywhere, on every surface, inside every drawer.

Oh, and Clarice's baking pantry is incredible! I gleaned all sorts of ideas for the tiny baking pantry in my future farmhouse. From Laura Ingalls Wilder's description of her baking pantry in The First Four Years, I think mine is a smaller version of hers. Someday I will show you pictures, but for now, please do pop over and see Clarice's. It's beautiful.

Be sure to direct me to other such creative ideas for everyday stuff, ok?


Monday, May 12, 2008

The Serotonin Thing

"And 'don’t sin by letting anger control you.' Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. " ... Ephesians 4:27


Uh-oh! A 'spinach post'  from ol' Debra. But a necessary one which I'm feeling may help some folks today. 


Finally, 19 years later, I may have discovered the reason for my Nevada Depression Years of the 80's/90's. Wow.

Last week on tv I heard a doctor say that his thousands of depressed patients had one thing in common. Anger. The repressed, held onto over months or years kind. And the wild, scary thing? He said anger stops serotonin from being formed/released in the brain and it's serotonin which we need to feel contented and peaceful.

"Serotonin is a chemical that has a wide variety of functions in the human body. It is sometimes called the happy chemical, because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness."

Oh. My. Goodness. I surely would've appreciate stumbling across that bit of info. during those dark days. Sheesh.

I mean, when we moved to Nevada I was low-key angry that Tom moved us out into the middle of the desert (literally). We lived in a mobile home park resembling a sandbox (on windy days, sand coated your scalp) and his job was 100 miles away.  He'd stay out there four days at a time each week, leaving me alone with Naomi in a Godforsaken town where I knew not a soul.

I'll spare you the other (whiny) details, but the anger built up inside of me. Yet on the outside? I just appeared sad. I cried a lot, attended a ton of pity parties  before Naomi would arrive home from school, after which I'd pull myself together for her sake, pretending all was just spiffy.

But oh! I kept trying to look on the bright side (as 'They' urge), counting all my blessings, etc. But what confused me was my inability to find any lasting peace. Those mind exercises used to help snap me out of sad, bleak times, but they were useless at age 30.

Hey, tiny wonder now. It was all that 'hidden' anger sucking the serotonin right outta my head. 

It was my refusal to accept this new life, thus making potential terrific times, invisible. My need to feel I had control over my life's details--that only frustrated me as well as believing 'my good old days were better than these'  (Ecc. 7:10). 

All the holding-onto the old kept me from grasping the new.

Toward the end of our Nevada Years, my non-acceptance of our life wore me down. I was such a mess that --finally-- I gave in to acceptance, to being powerless to change my circumstances and to stop wanting what God did not want for me. 

And surprise! I slowly began to heal. Choosing friendship, seeking beauty in daily rituals and blooming where God had planted me (and keeping my fingers off the control switch)--all those blossomed from acceptance.

And oh my, it actually hurt to leave that wind-swept desert land in 1993. But we did and yes, I applied those desert lessons from the day I burst out of the airport doors. I opened myself up to any adventures New York and God would supply and reminded myself to remain inquisitive, accepting and God-led in this new land.

Our beginning here? Vastly different.

And I didn't realize why until, days ago, I heard that doctor speak. This 90's, newer Debra had released her anger, her need to control everything and in doing so, had created open river ways for all that serotonin to do its happy thing--

--making it easier for God, Himself, to make tons of other necessary changes so I could help spread His healing to others.  With much joy.

Did I offer peace today? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. 

---Henri Nouwen

Don't know about you, but these days? I'm determined not to let any group/happening/cause make me a citizen of Anger Land.


And from a link which no longer takes us where it used to:

Even negative emotions and so-called sour moods can stimulate the secretion of cortisol and adrenaline and reduce the production of serotonin. Brooding about bad things that have happened to you in life, being irritable, or harboring resentment and anger all help sustain a stress-hormone response. In the long term, such bad moods can suppress normal DNA synthesis, reduce production of new brain cells, and reshape brain-cell connections in undesirable ways, helping set the stage for chronic depression or anxiety. 

- Jack Challem, Feed Your Genes Right: Eat to Turn Off Disease-Causing Genes and Slow Down Aging

Scary stuff!


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ah, Motherhood!

Ah motherhood. At age 19 I thought I was one with-it, spiffy, got-it-all-together young woman. At age 20 I had a baby and that was the last time I had those thoughts.

Few things in Life are more humbling than having a child. Few things in this Life are more worth-it, more incredible, more soul-changing than raising a child of your own.

And few things in Life are harder, more challenging and more gut-shaking and thought-rearranging than allowing that child to become a real-live, on-her-own adult.

And for all of you who know exactly what I'm trying to say, I wish each of you a very happy Mother's Day.


“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 KingsolverPigs in Heaven

Friday, May 09, 2008

There are some people who enjoy being opposite of those around them sometimes.

I am one of those people.

For one thing, I love long tv commercial breaks. Why on Earth? Because the longer the break, the more time I have to straighten the house. Or wash the dishes. Or vacuum, clean the bathroom, make the beds.

I don't quite understand it myself, but I enjoy cleaning the house during commercial breaks, especially in the mornings.Perhaps because then it doesn't actually feel like I am cleaning and it all gets done almost by magic. Or maybe it's because of my ADD and procrastination sides and needing more pressure to get things done (as I explained here). I enjoy the Beat The Clock-ness of it all.

And the high price of gas? Well, (promise you won't scream), but I'm liking that, too. Not since I got my driver's licence 27 years ago have I done sooo much walking. Nearly everyday I walk up to our local shopping center or down to the local mini-mart or coffee shop in the 1800's train car, running all those errands on foot--getting healthier and increasing my stamina--and saving all that money in gas. And that is greener.

I'm rejoicing in the lovely clothesline here at our rental--all those clothes getting dried for free! (Not that I use a dryer in the winter, just wooden racks, but the clothesline dries clothes faster.) And that is greener, too.

And Tom and I are trying to eat-out less, and well, that's healthier. We're being more careful to turn out lights and save our errands up to run them together--and that's greener. And spending less money on extras--and that's just common sense.

Yes, I'm enjoying being opposite.... trying to see all these skyrocketing prices as a fun challenge while many other people are worrying, swearing and panicking.

Always, we can let hard times make us or break us. Always, there's a choice. And always, we can stay prepared for whatever may happen down the road so that we'll be ready for whatever is waiting for us down there.

More Ideas

You can't read Mary Jane without becoming inspired by her ideas. And so here are some more ideas I've played with this past week.

At our new little farm I'd love to have an occasional (twice a year?)weekend gathering of women who I could take back to the 1940's with me. Well, you know... they could come to my house from near or from far and we could wear calico or gingham aprons and bake from scratch and listen to Big Band Era music. We could totally avoid present-day news and instead, watch old black and white movies while curling each others' hair and eating the desserts we baked.

We could take long walks past more 1800's homes and farms then return and putter in the garden. Or climb around in the barn. Or set pretty tables outside with cloths and glass jars of flowers and eat potato salad and sandwiches and chat in sunshine.

We could sit in the shade and browse through 1930's homemaking magazines and share old-fashioned dreams which we have for our futures or share about we are in our lives-- empty-nesters, single women or mommies still in the trenches.
We could gather eggs from chickens, redecorate a room, make crafts and take photos or naps. We could sweep up our hair into pony tails and scarves then stroll down to the Malt Shoppe for ice cream and 1950's music.

So does that sound like a fun weekend to anyone? I'm all dreamy-eyed just rolling it all around inside my head.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I think God gave me a marvelous idea, or rather, He reminded me about Kelly's marvelous idea from years ago. I mean, I was thinking about our farmhouse (what else?) and wanting to, somehow, make it a get-away retreat for burned-out Christians. You know, for those who are preached at every Sunday and told that unless they strain and work themselves into early graves while telling the whole wide world about Jesus, they are big, fat spiritual losers and gigantic disappointments to God.

(You think I'm exaggerating about such sermons?)

It's for those dear, misguided souls, especially, that I'd love to provide a serene, tranquil experience upon green farm-like acres, gifting them some hours out there to sit beside Jesus and discover how and who He really is... the passionate lover of their souls.

Already I can picture a chair placed here, there, far out in our green fields, providing places of rest and renewal. Places within circles of flowers and silence... places where people can just be. Be content. Be at peace. Be with Him.

And it was that mind picture which reminded me of Kelly's original post from long ago--here. When I first read it, I came away changed... and I am thinking perhaps you will, too.


My all-time favorite 'Kelly post'? You'll find it here.

... He leadeth me beside the still waters... He restoreth my soul... from Psalm 23.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I guess Tom and I had such a marvelous time on his birthday a week ago that we nearly repeated the whole day yesterday. Yard sales, estate sales, eating out for lunch and seeing an old-fashioned-like movie (Leatherheads) at the old-fashioned theater. (Great movie except for the occasional naughty word. Very reminiscent of Cary Grant-style romantic comedies with a bit of Disney sports movie thrown in.)

But my favorite part of our day? That was the part where I raced through a rainy parking lot into the huge supermarket to search for Mary Jane. Her long (long!) awaited magazine, that is, the one which I called Barnes and Noble about last week and was told they didn't have it. Well, you can imagine my audible gasp (probably scared the lady standing next to me) when I spied Mary Jane there on the shelf! Hooray! A new issue of Mary Jane always makes for a memorable holiday-esque event around my house.

And this latest issue is amazing. Perhaps the best issue ever(!), it has tons of personal stories by other kindred spirit farmgirls and amazing photos, also. And now since Mary Jane has handed over the publishing of her magazine to someone else, issues will come out way more regularly than one every year or so. (Just picture me happy dancing my way out to the car yesterday then, once inside, yahooing to Tom. Truly a day to celebrate.)

The only problem? I can just read a few pages at a time before I become even more feverish and bonkers to begin my new life out at our own tiny farm. Will this month never end?

And yet (I forgot to tell you) I have seedlings begun in little yogurt containers all across my kitchen windowsill and inside my small greenhouse on our counter. I'm babying those plants--keeping a lamp beside them and carrying the ones from the windowsill to the greenhouse so they can warm up in the mornings. And loving watching all those seeds growing... and dreaming of the day I will plant them in my new huge garden.

Anyway, if you are at all a farmgirl or farmguy at heart... if you'd like to discover others who actually understand your farmlife yearnings... you will love, treasure and devour the new issue of Mary Jane's Farm Magazine. I promise.
Favorite Mary Jane links:
And Here. Lots of incredible essays under 'past listings.'

Friday, May 02, 2008

When Tom and I move out to our little farm we will meet new people. Down-home country folks, I hope, old-fashioned souls like the ones I described here.

The waiting gets harder every day.

But there is someone else I hope to meet out in that tiny country town. She's a woman who's day-dreamed about living on a farm since she was 14 years old. She's taken myriad countryside drives all the while trying not to covet every farmhouse set back from the road, and instead, rolled down her window in hope of tasting what a country morning must smell and feel like to those blessed country dwellers. 

She's made-up stories about how hideously happy farm folk must be to live on open acres, all the while putting her own dreams shyly on hold because, well, you can't really have what you desire in this life--can you?

And now for certain I will actually meet that woman. When she comes bounding out of her car in the driveway in front of her barn I will rejoice with her that finally--all these 35 years later--the dreams of her countryside drives all came true and she'll live a whole new way only 20 minutes away from her old life. But everything will have changed.

She'll have room to create, grow and run around. There will be no end of work to do--and she will love it all. The art and beauty of it in a place where even mucking out a stall feels like freedom. The creating of a whole new world at the half-century point of her years upon Earth just when she'd imagined her days would continue their mediocrity and slow pace.

She's delighted by the surprise of it all, amazed by the Giver of it and His compassion for her. And that at age 49, one can start over, live better, fuller, and fulfill the dusty dreams long ago placed resignedly upon shelves.

Yes, that woman is the one I am most anticipating meeting out there in my driveway, out in the countryside where--instead of driving away--I'll be staying, calling it Home, and calling it Good.