Sunday, August 31, 2008

Right now I am reminding myself of my own advice. I've been finishing painting and decorating our upstairs guest room (finally) and before I get totally sick of decorating, I need to stop. Move on. Realize when enough is enough.

Or just stop and take a nap.

I spent way too many years leading an uncomfortable life, sitting upon 'dead horses'(activities which, for a time were alive, God-ordained for me) and expecting those dead horses to carry me along as they previously had. Other times I hesitated to move on because I was too emotionally involved/attached/wrapped-up or getting too many pats on the back.

But God doesn't ask me to do anything for a high approval rating. No, He asks for my obedience because it will accomplish His perfect plans. Or simply because He's testing me in the area of obedience:

Will I obey even though what He's asking doesn't appear to make sense?
Will I go when I'd rather stay?
Will I stay when I'd rather go?
Will I say no when I'd much rather say yes?

All those lessons! But once we can release our own agendas--that's when we are led to the best place. His places. The perfect places He meant for us to be. 

And how exciting to lead that kind of life--and to not fear it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Today's Project

On Thursday I tweaked my left wrist while moving that new bathroom cupboard around, so it's been in a brace-thingy, taking a break of sorts. Yet one more detour in the road of accomplishment. Sigh.

But today I did paint the above shelf and hung it on the wall of our guest room. I like the added touch of color and warmth, what with all those white walls.

Much has gone smoothly since moving to our tiny farm. Much has not. So please keep that in mind when I tend to write like Pollyanna on speed.

But I will try to share a bit more often the glitches and problems Tom and I experience, because it's important that you not confuse our Healing Acres with a perfect sort of Shangri La. It's not been perfect--and oh my, the lessons I've learned! Yet it's those lessons which make it worth the bother, hassle and great annoyances.

But always I'm thankful for this one thing--that when my head lies back upon my pillow each night, it's the good and wonderful things which rise to the surface and make me smile before I sleep.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Some miracles are small, yet they are obvious. For me, this is Day Two of Small Obvious Miracles.

Yesterday we went to John and Donna's house for an amazing lunch, lovely conversation and at least 50 new decorating ideas (you'd love their cozy place).

John and Donna told us that old friends of ours were hoping to buy a 60-acre farm nearby, so, though it was a tad out of our way, Tom and I drove past the house and land on our way home. We'd often noticed this old farmhouse with its five or more outbuildings but had no idea so much land came with it.

So after drooling over all that farmland (and two garages), we cut across a couple roads to join up with the one which would take us home--and on one of those roads--was a yard sale. A Tuesday yard sale! A rarity in our area.

And guess what we found? The hutch thingy at the top of this post. The very item we'd needed for two months, the exact piece I'd pictured inside my head for the corner of our bathroom, a room with barely-storage (does any bathroom have enough?). Just 15 dollars (talked down from 20) and something we'll leave with the house when we sell it someday.

One more thing which Tom and I feel that God led us to, one more item to cross off our list. 

And then there was today.

See, I subscribed to Mary Jane's Farm Magazine at least 6 weeks ago and for the past few days I'd been going bonkers--bonkers!--knowing that the new issue was available, yet it just wasn't appearing inside my mailbox.

Today it arrived! I opened my mailbox (praying, believing, hoping and even a little giddy because I had a feeling) and there was Mary Jane. And Victoria! She was there, too. A gift from my friend, Donna, in Nevada.

Oh happy, happy day. I grabbed both magazines and skipped out to my deck inside my garden and read, smiled and inhaled the basil behind me. Then whooped! And ran into the barn to show Tom this:

Do you love that, or what? A classy place for chickens. Well, color me inspired. Now there's one more inspired idea to add to my list. I do have my very own chicken coop, but I've never shown it to you. If you saw it, you'd realize why--it's a sad place right now--a cobwebby, dirty old storage room. But someday it will shine and glow with color and create smiles and who knows? Maybe it will even house real-live chickens.

Inspiration is everywhere as are miracles. But sometimes we must venture out to find them with a never-get-discouraged kind of believing they'll be there at the right time.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Saying Good-bye to The Pantry

Today I said good-bye to our baking pantry. Not that it's walking away, or anything.... Rather, I gave this room to Tom because he needs a room downstairs and I have my own two rooms upstairs. Tom's not able to race up and down the stairs all day long like I am, and well, so, he deserves a room of his own down here. (The baking pantry was the only spare room. Trust me, I searched for another one.)

It's a tiny space, but it does have tons of storage and a wall area for him to display some of his diecast cars. He might even be able to squeeeeeze in a work table if he tweeks things just so.

Part of me will miss the ol' baking pantry--I had tons of kitchen and linen-type stuff stored in there. I'm still carrying half of it upstairs to be added to the chaos of our storage area.

Yet another part of me has an ulterior motive (don't we all usually have at least one ulterior motive?). :) Well, maybe you don't, but here's mine... In future weeks when Tom asks (as he invariably will), "Where's my drill/sander/tools/chargers??," I'll be able to quip, "All I know is that it's supposed to be in your work room." Rather than my having to search the whole first floor for whatever is currently lost. Which is a whole lot of what I've been doing lately.

But now? If I come across something of Tom's, I'll just toss it inside his work room, right on top of the piles-of-junk-to-come (Tom is a sweetheart, but he's an extremely unorganized sweetheart). And I'll ask for Grace to keep me from being bothered by the mess in there.

(But if that doesn't work, I'll string-up a curtain.) heh.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I confess. I've neglected this blog a couple days because I began a new blog. 

It's a blog for photos of our tiny farm. I thought it would be easier to send people there when they ask to see pictures, rather then email them, "Well, to see the _____, go here in my blog. To see the _____ go there. But to see the ____ go here, here and here." ツ

A new blog, I figured, would make my life less complicated. Well, when the blog is finished, that is. It's always complicated putting a photo blog together. At first. (For me, anyway.)

So if you're in the mood to see a few new pictures of our place (and a few more oldy-moldy ones which you are already sick of), you can click here: Farm of Our Later Years.

And if you have any creative ideas and suggestions please let me know! Often it requires "fresh eyes" to provide fresh ideas.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

You can play more in the country, I think. At least you don't have neighbors 6 inches away who will tattle on you to the Your Yard Must Look Like Ours Committee.

Tom and I drive past messy yards sometimes out here and I think, "Well, at least, in the country, people have a choice to leave tractors and chairs, tables, toys, pools, tents, hammocks and leaning sheds all over their front yard."

I bring this up because I am in the middle of putting a do-it-yourself-from-scrap deck in the middle of my garden. Just started on it yesterday.

Because hey, I had a light bulb moment. I'd been trying to picture a place for a flower garden surrounded by a picket fence with an arbor, which you'd step through, in the center. We take country drives and I stare at these behind 150-year-old farmhouses, strain my neck and drool all over my car window.

Well, duh! Why not put a picket fence around my vegetable garden and then grow flowers all around the edges? 

That was my light bulb moment. And almost right away I lugged up the old door from the basement and pulled the two smaller doors around from the back of the garden. And later I will lay down a wooden-slat sidewalk from the extra poor wood we have laying around here.

I used to hear lots of sermons from men in pulpits preaching against having fun, because fun can take you to some bad places. And well, yes, but it depends upon your idea of fun. And well, my idea of it is to step outside my back door in the mornings with a list of things to do out there, for suddenly I feel ten years old and set free to play and plant things in the yard or climb up the dark barn steps to the cathedral-like room up there.

We all need more fun. I drive to the city and see stressed-out people by the dozens honking their car horns and dragging their children by the arm down store aisles. They need more fun, certainly. They need to relax and realize this very moment will not come again, so why not celebrate it? And why be in such a hurry, anyway?

Both David Grayson and Dallas Lore Sharp were great ones for saying that if only everyone could live in the country, they'd be more happy, if only we could all get our hands dirty in our own gardens, we'd be more serene, less stressed.  

But of course, they'd also add that, no, not everyone would appreciate (and is created for) country life.

Yet many people would. And well, you can laugh at the three of us, but I agree. I dig in my garden and listen to birds and gaze off into our woods and think, "If only the whole world could at least give this a try, spend their days in a garden, maybe there'd be less fighting. Perhaps if everyone could paint a room for a week, make it bright and lovely, well, maybe that week would be a peaceful, contemplative one which might slow them down ever after.

Ah, don't mind me. It's this country air. I just got in from mowing the Bunny Pasture and the dreamy scent of wildflowers at the edge of the cool woods seeped right into my brain. Just the way I like it.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Books I Read Over and Over

Some people read all books just once. They say there are too many books in Life to read some of them again.

I feel sad for those people. That's a tad like saying, "I met her once. I don't care to spend another minute with her."

Me? Always I'm in the middle of some book I've read before. It sits on top or in the middle of a stack of those I've not yet read. But always there's at least one Oldie-Tried-and-True right there with the Not-Yet-Reads.

I'd love to have you share with me the books you read over and over. You can leave a whole list in my comment box if you wish, or just name a couple. That's up to you.

As for myself, I read David Grayson's and Dallas Lore Sharp's contemplative, back-to-the-land books over and over, even dozens of times.

As well as the sentimental essays by folks like Philip Gulley and Phillip Jerome Cleaveland and the funny, funny stuff by Cornelia Otis Skinner or Louise Kent.

Oh, and the retro teen romance novels by Rosamond du Jardin, Anne Emery, Beverly Cleary, Betty Cavanna, Lenora Mattingly Weber,even though I am ever so far away from being the teen I once was.

And though I still reread kids' lit. novels by Eleanor Estes, Elizabeth Enright, Frieda Friedman, Lois Lenski, Noel Streatfeild, to name only some. They keep me from straying too far into old age inside my head.

My Ralph Moody books about his young life around 1900 are worn thin (especially Mary Emma and Company) as well as Gladys Taber's books about her later years. I've read Maureen Daly's Seventeenth Summer most summers since I was seventeen, myself, and always I smell the tomatoes in her parents' garden.

I discovered Miss Read's gentle stories from England late in my life, yet I've reread her two series a few times over.

There's Chicken Every Sunday by Beverly Taylor, Wild Geese Flying by Cornelia Meigs and The Human Comedy by William Saroyan.

And still there are more.

For me, summer wouldn't be summer without these books, seeing their spines upon my shelves, rereading some of them for the umpteenth time. 

After all, we visit friends more than once and when it comes to books, well, some are just as real and shining and comforting as any friend next door.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Okay. So the insulation guys , weeks ago, told Tom they'd be here today. (Our house has almost no insulation. Can you believe that?). 

So I cleaned the house (well, straightened it) and shoved around all the boxes, junk and beds upstairs so that the guys could easily saw into our walls. I even shoved Lennon and McCartney into their carriers and placed them into a quiet corner of our living room.

At 8:00 a.m., I began waiting. Tom called from work at 9:10 and asked if the insulation guys had arrived, I told him, uh, nooo, then searched a drawer for their phone number and gave it to Tom who called me back and said they're coming tomorrow.


Oh well. Of course, I could be all, like, "Man. And here I got everything ready and was all mentally set to have it done today." But naw, I'm choosing to view this as a Free Day. A Gift Day. After all, it's one of Tom's rare day shift days and I have the mostly-all-straightened house to myself. I can do whatever I want, maybe even catch-up on all the tasks I've procrastinated. I just have to shift gears.

So that is what I'll do. The shifting gears thing.

Beginning now. I finally got a start on our weeds-and-iris-only front flower bed. I like it so far:

That dolphin sculpture I got at a yard sale last week. The tiny wicker chair was a curb find on one of my walks at our apartment, heck, we even found the flowers on the curb, too.

I moved this table to our front porch and that's where I spend lots of time early in the morning or late in the afternoon, depending upon the heat factor (enlarge this one if you can. I love the colors):

Already it's peaceful and lovely out there and it's not even clean or painted yet. But it's a bit cooler now. One night we decided to go "curb shopping" in our old town and we returned with quite the haul--the best thing? We found three bamboo shades for the front porch, hung them so, although it still gets warm out there, it takes a bit longer.

Remember when I told you we desperately needed a dresser for our guest room? Well, alas! We bought one at a yard sale this weekend for $20 (a tad hard to spend that much. You get spoiled when, for years, you pick dressers off the street for free). But this one is perfect, old, sturdy and exactly what I was seeing inside my head:

My best decorating advice? Glimpse what you want inside your head first--that way you're not wandering aimlessly through stores, with no plan, hoping something will appeal to you. Instead, you're stepping through them as though on a mission to grasp what you've already pictured clearly.

Perhaps that's some good Life Advice, too. Hmm. If we don't know what we want, how will we ever find it?

And nearing the end of the photos-- we found a mirror at a yard sale and placed it over the couch because 'they say' it makes the room look wider. It does.

And see the old-fashioned ashtray stand?

That was another yard sale find and it's for me. No, I've not become a smoking farmgirl. heh. I just needed something to place my drinks on while I sit upon the couch. I love the old-fashioned-ness of it, like something you'd find in a cobwebby old mansion. Yet one day I'll use it for something else--someday Tom and I will find a small glass-top coffee table at a yard sale, the one we've already envisioned inside our heads.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Remember my binders of pages from various decorating magazines gathered over the last 20 years?

They're still lost.


But alas. This morning I drove early into the not-so-big-city to Walmart and bought a cheap binder (hurriedly. Droves of screaming children and nerve-frayed moms were rushing toward me). Thank-goodness I did not lose my homemade cookbook binder or my housekeeping one, for both contain, not only vital stuff, but my extra plastic sleeves for new decorating magazine pages I'll now collect.

Sometimes you must just move on. Start all over. Create something new.

I've known a variety of people in my nearly half-century of life.

Great, noble people.
Average people.

And well, moaners make me nuts.

They're the ones who say, "I can't paint my (grease-splattered) kitchen or clear all the clutter until we do the remodeling. And we can't remodel until we get new appliances. And we can't buy new appliances until our ship comes in/or I get my inheritance/or I get a new job/or the kids move out..." (Choose one. Or two.)

So they live with those grease-splattered walls and counter clutter for 5 or 10 years, each year adding to the splatters/clutter/general depression.

Moaners whine (often) that they couldn't go to college when they were teens, but they never take a class now that they are adults. Moaners cry over a friend they lost, yet they don't venture out and find another one. And moaners complain about their spouse so much that they become blind to his/her best qualities.

Sometimes I have been a moaner. Sometimes I have made myself nuts. God, too.

But here's what I love. I love it when God says, "Debra! You quit that moaning right this minute, young lady. I want you to get up. Get up and help those who have a harder life than yours. Get up and find what you have lost. Get up and create what you cannot afford ready-made. Get up and find a new friend. Get up and find some inspiration. Get up and count your blessings." (Choose one. Or two.)

Maybe God doesn't speak that firmly to you, but He sure gets like that with me. And I wouldn't change that for anything.

For like I said, moaners make me nuts. Especially when they are me.


"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." ...Proverbs 18:21

"You can be pitiful or you can be powerful--you can't be both." ... Joyce Meyer


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We have our very own meadow. I still can't believe it. (I still can't believe this whole farm thing... I'm thinking I'll wake-up inside that tiny apartment some morning where we lived only 6 months.)

When we dwelled in our 'sardine can' neighborhood for nearly 15 years, I longed for a place I could step out the door and walk to which belonged to no one. A wild sort of place where I could wander off the straight sidewalk and explore, even for ten minutes.

I never found it. Not there in the suburbs, anyway.

But here it is, finally, in my own backyard, literally. A meadow still wild, untamed, especially around the edges and I stroll out there any time I need to, well, breathe. Any time I need that 'hiking in a meadow feeling' I never did satisfy in the suburbs.

Yet here's the thing. I watched that PBS show about Anne Spencer's garden and got all excited. "I could do that," I mused. "I could spend years creating an orderly, lovely garden back in the meadow and people would exclaim and wonder how I did all that alone."

But you know? After that program I walked out to the meadow and it struck me--I don't want an orderly garden back here with it's brick sidewalks and bordered flower beds. I want it to remain like this--

And I want the color to come from wildflowers, ones which magically pop up in odd places. If I have Black Eyed Susans, well, I want them to come up on their own, free, as they do now.

Maybe it's because I'm lazy. I don't know. An orderly, planned garden would take a heck of a lot of work, indeed. But mostly I want a wild meadow, I believe, because of those 15 years of too much order outdoors. Of too many pristine yards plotted and manicured to the square inch... and never being allowed to wander off the sidewalk to a forgotten or unexplored land.

Oh, someday I want to put a screened gazebo out there in the meadow and surround it, closely, with flowers. But from inside that gazebo I want the view to remain wild. Untamed. Silent. Even if no one understands. Even if no one 'gets' what I'm attempting to do. Or not do. (God often asks me to do things others won't understand. He calls it Good Discipline.)

But perhaps other people long for a piece of nature on the wild side. Maybe others are searching for such a spot in which to stroll and quiet their busy minds.

I've discovered such a place ...

...and how amazing to be able to share that gift.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Question and a Poet's Garden

Okay. So I'm having fun with this composting thing and I even feel noble no longer just throwing vegetable skins, coffee filters and egg shells into the trash.

But I have a question for you composting experts. I keep reading that you can toss weeds into your compost pile, yet doesn't that mean that --when you go to use the soil next year--you'll have weed seeds galore?

I'd appreciate an answer from those-in-the-know.

And here is a garden for you. I watched the coolest PBS show on Sunday about the poet, Anne Spencer, and was inspired out of my mind. She worked in her garden for more than 70 years(!) and when she passed away, it went to seed for a few years. But then it was recreated closely to the way she had it, it's still cared for, and you can even take a tour (it's in Lynchburg, Virginia). I'm planning to copy the light aqua color of her trellis fences and use it in mine. I love that aqua against the pink roses.

Again, here are her garden pictures. Others are here. And to see inside the writing cabin her husband built for her out in her garden, go here

Oh, to have a writing cabin of my own!


Speaking of gardens, that's my vegetable garden at the top of this post.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Uh-oh. I read Shauna's comment and said, "Eeks!"

"Girl!...You wasted NO time in whipping that place together... AND are taking NO breaks on it either!!! "

I must be giving you all the wrong impression. Honest, I take many breaks, whole days off, even! 

Especially when my head reminds me of all I want to accomplish around here before my mom arrives in October--and it pushes me to complete it all immediately. That's when I stop and reconnect.

I'm learning to switch off all those shoulds and oughts and listen to my heart, instead. For Grace speaks from there and Wisdom, too, and they both never work me into a tiny crumpled heap. If I'm exhausted, overwhelmed and depleted, well, that's because I listened to the wrong sources and tried to do what God never planned for me. 

Or else I'm doing what He planned, but I'm trying to do it all in one day--and in my own strength.

If something is a mess, inside me or out, it's not God's fault. Nope, it's mine. (My mouth drops open in shock when people blame God for their problems.)

Grace gives me many breaks and trust me, I take them when they are offered. She seems to respect my emotions, too, and gives me time to heal, such as on weekends like this one where I heard that so many people have passed away. Some folks heal by working harder or surrounding themselves with crowds, and that's fine. 

Me? I heal by sitting quietly and listening or reading, but mostly by being alone.

As for the above photo, I did some rearranging, hence that is why our cherry hutch is now in our dining room instead of in an unappreciated corner of our living room. (Notice I brought in some hydrangeas?) The white hutch which previously stood there stands now beside our refrigerator.

Thanks for all your encouraging comments. I do appreciate them and I'll try to get to your blogs to let you know.


Friday, August 08, 2008

So today we went to yard sales again and still we didn't find all the little dressers and shelves (for closets) that we needed. (You know, the stuff we see everywhere, even free on the street, when we don't need it.)

But see the above photo? Those are two vintage table runners I bought today--25 cents each-- which I just draped over the stick which is nailed along the window in our mud room. I removed the valence which had probably hung on that stick--I'm not kidding--at least 30 years. I just know it. I can recognize a 1970's valance and 30 years' worth of dirt when I see them. :)

And I confess... I bought more dishes, the last for awhile, I promise! These were just 25 cents each and blend well with all the others inside my hutches.

Also yesterday I found this shelf ($1). It was gold so I painted both it and the mirror above for our guest room when we got home.

And closer up:

And I am still playing with the curtains and table in our guest room, too. I keep making changes. Keep changing my mind. (The rug we bought new at Home Depot with a slashed-down price.)

The problem? Too many styles appeal to me. I love cottage and country and Tuscan and shabby chic and --

Of course, a house--a great house--is never really finished. But it certainly helps to know in which direction you are headed.

Yet this week I believe I made up my mind. I finally realized I'm going after a certain feeling. I want my house to look and feel like, well, uh, Blondie-And-Dagwood-Set-Up-Housekeeping-1930's Style-Inside-An-Ancient-Italian-Villa.

I'll let you know how that goes.


Oh, meant to say, too, that the dishes in my post, below, have a green border, not black. The photo was dark, I know... Tom had our old computer spread out all over our table (we're selling it) and that's where I prefer to take photos because of the lighting. Also, I'm not crazy about this tiny digital camera he bought while in Dallas... long story.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

We went to more yard sales today and see what I found! A whole stack of plates from England. And for only $2.

I've forgotten to tell you that nowhere--nowhere!--around here can I find my binders with hundreds of magazine photos which I use to inspire me to decorate.

I keep lecturing myself not to let this frustrate me.

I mean, every tiny piece of everything else is accounted for, but not my beloved notebooks which I've spent years accumulating. Nooooo! I've opened every single box except the ones in Tom's two packed-like-puzzles closets and if my binders are in there.... oh dear.... they are lost forever.

ANYWAY, today I also bought four decorating magazines for one dollar total and they have inspired me. I came home and painted a mirror and a new shelf I bought and soon I'll be shoving around furniture.

Trust me, I needed inspiration--I'd begun bogging down in the creativity department of my head. I'd never before realized how much I rely upon magazine photos of rooms to spark new ideas. And lately? Lately I've begun to doubt that I have any original decorating ideas of my own. Well, I have a few, but the best ones seem to come only after I browse through magazines. Hence my frustration at losing all those hundreds of pages I'd slipped into clear plastic sleeves all these years.

This is just a test...this is just a test... this is just a test...

Take my advice... Never move twice within 6 months... :)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Some days, you just don't have anything witty/interesting/worth reading to put into your blog.

For me, this is one of those days.

So instead, I'll share something fun and clever with you from Artsy Mama's blog, especially since I've mentioned estate sales here, oh, at least 90 times.

Enjoy her post here.

(And if you do write out an answer to her question in your blog, do let me know!)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I almost drove into the city to shop yesterday, had quite a rambling list, but I changed my mind. The city doesn't entice me as it once did, rather, it repels me.

Yet we needed groceries! So while Tom slept after working the night shift, I drove to the nearest small town with a supermarket. They even have a brand new "dime store" (as I prefer to still call them even though nothing costs a dime any longer), which I'd wanted to visit.

Who needs the city? Who needs all that traffic and noise and hurry-hurry? Well, not me, not yesterday, anyway. The dime store was light-filled, colorful and I overheard a cute little lady tell her cute little husband, "This store will be nice for picking up small things. It's clean and so close!"

Just what I was thinking, ma'am! Living out among acres of corn and hay fields you become a bit giddy over things like new shops.

But across the street was the supermarket and it was old, old and I loved that, also. Tiny aisles, a tad dark, boxes in the way, high prices and that smell of ancient markets. Ah, just right. And only a few miles away through the aforementioned corn fields and not a traffic jam anywhere.

Years ago I would have needed more. 

More stores, more cute shops for browsing, more restaurants and choices. But now? Now this countryside has enchanted me and I am no longer the woman I used to be. Just give me this peace and the crickets and the birds at the feeders and our one-traffic-light town. And that other tiny village a few miles away with the old supermarket and new dime store--they're enough--now.

So what am I trying to say? I know women who become afraid when they see themselves changing, becoming someone who--back when they were 22--they would have, well, laughed at. Looked down upon, even. 

And yet there is no growth without change (I tell myself at least twice a week). The only problem is--growth doesn't always look like growth to us. 

Especially when it concerns I-don't-recognize-you selves. Hence, it becomes important to stay close to God so He can explain just what the heck is happening.

I mean, at 22 we were so, well, young. We'd not peeked into our future with all its circumstances down the path and--mostly--our wisdom levels ran pretty close to empty.

But God views and understands nearly everything differently, so what remains is for us to stay in tune with Him for all the necessary explanations. Yep, even when it concerns our very own heads and hearts and those annoying crows feet around our eyes.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

While a little girl, my family would travel to visit my grandparents and always, beside their front door, was one of these "Sorry We Missed You" boxes. 

Sometimes we'd try to surprise my grandparents with these trips, but usually my grandfather sensed in his heart that we were coming. Yet occasionally we'd arrive and discover they were both gone, so we'd leave a message in their small box (always there was a tablet and a tiny pencil inside), then drive around and return later.

My grandparents-- the sweetest people ever loaned to the planet Earth.

I loved that tiny box of theirs and the colorful people painted on it. Sometimes during our visits (being a bothersome imp in my young days) I'd scribble a silly message inside to my grandparents.

These boxes do not pop up everywhere nowadays. They are 'hot items' no more. I've seen perhaps just two in the last thirty years.

Well. On the day we got the keys to this house I noticed it by our backdoor. Our own Sorry We Missed You box! And I gasped. Suddenly I felt my grandparents, gone so many years, were actually here on this farm waiting for me, even watching me at that moment. Or perhaps they had been here and left me this gift--and their blessing, I mused.

It was a special moment.

Those are my grandparents above the bed in our upstairs guest room. I've shared that photo with you before

I never tire looking at it. They even appear to be standing in front of a country house, maybe even a farm, complete with a picket fence and a birdhouse.

I gaze at that photo and feel them here at my own farm. Just as when I see that tiny box beside our kitchen door, the one I can't help but feel they left for me to welcome me home.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

So here's the loft of our barn. Rather, er, rustic, huh? (Click to enlarge if you're brave enough.)

Of course, just looking at these photos, you don't get the full effect. You know, the cobwebs, the scent of hay and of barn, the dirt, the bird which was caught up there and kept fluttering around my head----- Etc.

Living on a farm, you can no longer be afraid of much--or you won't make it. You can't have fears of bats or spiders or snakes or mice or wasps and survive with your sanity.

But I digress.

For months, Tom and I have wondered what to do with this barn loft. Make it a 'sound studio'? A studio apartment? A guest room? A storage area? Debra's office?

And well, since all those involved spending lotsa money (and since we're already doing lotsa that), we finally came up with a 'free plan.' (And oh my... did that word, 'Free', ever sound great around now!).

We've decided (or believe we've decided) to create a museum up there. You know, to cover the walls with old metal relics from eras gone by, stuff we can find cheap at yard sales. Gizmos. Gadgets. Tiny metal cars. License plates. Stuff like that. We could even hang that nifty aforementioned chandelier from the center rafter. I love that idea. Shabby chic and everything (quite heavy on the 'shabby'.)

Ten years ago, in our old house, while Naomi still lived with us, we all talked about creating a 'museum' upstairs in our finished attic. (We also dreamed about making a Christian night club up there, but given that the houses beside us were around 6 inches away (well...), that dream got squashed quick.) But out here in the country we can finally make a museum if we wish. As long as we keep the admission free.

So that's what's new around here. We're gonna have a museum for the guests at our free bed-and-breakfast to peruse.

That is, if they can make it back down the stairs. Hmm.

Seriously though, we do plan to build new stairs someday. I don't even allow Tom up in the loft (remember, he has the bum leg from polio)... but he sneaks up there the minute I'm out of sight. Sigh.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Before we moved from our old house last January, the one we lived in for nearly 15 years, we got a bit, well, overly-ruthless.

We sold our table and chairs with the house. We sold the matching sideboard cabinet.
We left behind nearly all our gardening tools.
We left behind our wheelbarrow.
We gave away our futon guest bed. We gave away our twin guest bed.
We gave away a nifty window fan and left another behind.
We gave away our bathroom scales. We left behind our bird feeders.
We free-cycled an antique bookcase which held a ton of books behind glass doors.

And that's just a partial list.

Truthfully? The only items I regret losing were our gardening tools and wheelbarrow (what were we thinking?). After all, we were moving to a farm! But of course, we didn't know that then. As for the other things, I enjoyed giving them away. It's good for me to not grasp my possessions, but instead, to hold them with an opened hand.

So anyway, all during escrow and beyond, Tom and I have driven to yard sales believing God would provide all the myriad of things we need for our all-new farming life. The cost to fix-up this house is so great that we must save money by buying household stuff for nearly nothing.

And guess what? Through yard sales and estate sales we have cheaply bought a bookcase ($2), an even niftier window fan ($3) and rakes, shovels, hoes (mostly all just $1) and enough bird feeders ($1 each, too) for an entire aviary. Guest beds, a wheelbarrow, a cool vintage green bathroom scale. All for cheap, cheap, cheap.

And when we needed a short bookcase in the kitchen for my cookbooks, coffeemaker and mail basket, we found one on the curb down the street. Free.

We've been using a smallish round patio table in the dining room, the kind where--if four people sit around it--they are sitting almost with noses touching. And then today, inside an old red barn, we found this antique drop-leaf table for $35:

Perfect! I stroke the top, the wood worn smooth from generations of use, and wonder about all the folks who ate meals at this table--our table now--and grow excited about meals and new Table Stories to come. And I like its legs:

Of course, there are more items still not crossed off our list. But we are learning to be patient and to always go expecting to find something else on the list.

I guess I'm sharing these finds with you to give you hope. Many people say, "Everything has gone up!" But I say, "Not everything." Bargains are still out there. They are. Honest! You just may need to search for them in a different place.

Or you might simply need to shop always with faith and expectation rather than dread, for dread is a form of fear--and fear brings torment. After all, God can provide in a myriad of miraculous ways. Even in 2008. Even during a recession.

In the top photo you can see our our new windows. Through the center picture window we watch the birds. They make us laugh.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life..."