Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh my. The book of essays, Thoughts of Home, is one of my top-five favorite books of all time. I told you about it here

I bring this treasure with me when we go yard sale-ing so that, should I tire of looking at tables full of books and well, junk, I can sit inside the car, instead, and read while Tom --who never, ever tires of yard sales--can browse in peace.

Below, is a paragraph I read today, one which still haunts me, for the world tells us that selfish ambition is the way to go. That if we do huge, impressive things, we'll be important and remembered by people upon this Earth. But I prefer this:

"I will tell you what I remember most about my grandmother, though. I know she loved us. I know because one year she had deteriorated badly over the winter I was too young to understand how sick she was. When two days passed after our arrival and she had not performed her usual ceremony, I tiptoed into her darkened room to ask, 'Ganny, when are you going to open the toy closet?' I know she loved us because she slid out of bed and onto the floor, then hand over hand and baluster after baluster she began to haul herself up the stairs to the third story. I know because when my own distressed mother came running upstairs to stop her, my grandmother said, 'I don't know how much longer I am going to be around. I want my grandchildren to remember that I loved them.' And I do, Ganny. Forty years later, I still do."

By Spencer Harris Morfit


I stepped out the door this morning to get the newspaper and all the raindrops on the iris' made me gasp. (Click to enlarge, it's kinda cool.)


"... But the greatest of these is love." ... from 1 Corinthians 13


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hurds' Orchards

Got back from Hurds' Orchards -- country living inspiration, indeed. Now I want to make our barn loft into a sort of Hurds' Jr. :) (To feel like you are there, click to enlarge.)

Cool flower ceiling!

A Minor Miracle

All these months, a Stop Ahead sign has stood in front of our house, about dead center, on the other side of our street. 

Probably has stood there eight-thousand years (well...). Often I've sat upon our front porch thinking, "That sign is like a blight upon our view of the large evergreens and maples across the street, what with its garish yellow color. If only it wasn't there!"

Guess what? They moved the sign! Yes, moved it. 

It now stands farther up the street where we can't see its yellowness at all. It's at the outside edge of our neighbors' driveway, yet doesn't block their view of anything except, perhaps, our house, but hey. They don't need to be looking over here anyway.  ツ

I didn't even pray that the sign would be moved. I don't--or didn't--have that much faith. (But I do now!) 

No, I just wished it wasn't there, but alas, not being a big proponent of wishing, I now wish I would have prayed about it. heh. Then I could call this an answer to prayer.

But that's why, I guess, I'm naming it a miracle, one stemming from the goodness of God's heart. Face it--traffic signs don't get moved every day. Part of me says only God can move a sign like that, especially in New York state.

So thank-you God, so very much, for doing such a sweet favor for me.


In other news, my friend Donna and I are traveling to Hurd's Orchards today, one of my favorite, most inspirational country places on Earth. You can visit there, too--just go here. (Be sure to click on the link which takes you to the second page.)

Donna's photo of my garden last October, after the tomatoes were nipped by frost.


"And Jesus said unto them.....If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Matthew 17:19-21


Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering, But Not Staying

Last week while driving through the countryside with Lennon to his vet. appointment, our local classical music station played, of all things, How Much Is That Doggie In The Window. 

Immediately I was flown back to the house where I lived at 10-years-old and I could see my dad and his friends in our living room with their guitars singing that song. And I became a bit misty-eyed.

It's wild how songs and scents can whisk us backward like that. But you know? I take only quick, short trips to my Past, partly because I can go sentimental in three seconds and the good times back there can have me wishing for those same good times to be here, now. 

But mostly? That's impossible. Thousands of miles and whole decades separate me from them and many of the people from there are here no more. And I'm all grown-up, the Times have changed and I've watched too many folks live in a sad type of melancholy when they could not accept that the past is, well, gone.

I love my Now better, but oh, it is so very different from my Then. 

As a child, then a young woman, my days of happiness were scattered, and they were amazing; those song fests in our home, parties at church, family reunions, youth retreats and school musicals. And later, camping trips with Tom and a sweet Naomi and all those mothering joys with a small child and being young and silly with love for a new husband. Memories galore!

Incredible times, but as I said, I remember them, their joy, being scattered. In good times I was Up (so Up!), but in bad times I was Down (so very Down). But in my Now, I have whole long strings of daily happiness, long strings, where days of contentment stretch, blending to create whole years of joy.

And though my current life bears little resemblance to my younger one, I prefer this one. Why? It's due mostly to Jesus' being emotionally steady, Himself, the greatest help of all to keeping me that way.

So on this Memorial Day, I'll take quick peeks backward where I will see people from those old days which are now gone, but I'll not pause too long. Memories can be tricky, way too selective, stellar, even, outshining, making disappear the bad moments which invariably co-existed. 

But again, I'll take my Now. My steadier, more stable Now with its gleaming pearls of wisdom and it's hour-by-hour surprises of contentment.


Speaking of memories and songs, have you heard Susan Boyle's latest song from Britain's Got Talent? She began a little shaky, but when she nailed it, oh my, she nailed it. I've still got the tears in my eyes to prove it. I so want a Susan Boyle cd now, now, NOW!


"With godliness and contentment there is great gain."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Life! Our computer anti-virus protection expired and Tom was too busy to renew it until today, so we had to leave the computer turned off from the router. Felt like I was computer-less for a week rather than just two days and it didn't help that, earlier, I'd procrastinated answering a couple important emails. Note to self: for the millionth time, stop procrastinating!

So y'all missed it when I went ballistic after Tom had an eighth tractor delivered and stuffed into our barn.

That was the ol' straw which broke Debra's back.

I was livid, not to mention a little afraid. Eight tractors! Six which don't even work. An obsession gone wrong. So I gave Tom three ultimatums of what will happen if he brings home one more tractor and so far God has not convicted me at all about making those ultimatums. I think even God is a little afraid for Tom--being out of balance too often leads to falling into ditches.

So far, so good. I'm thinking Tom, deep down inside, wanted someone to pull a plug--to put a limit on the number of tractors he crams into our barn. In fact, one tractor is stored outside, behind our barn, which has us both a little fearful that someday our farm will more closely resemble a junk yard. Heaven forbid. We drive past those scandalous, junky farms occasionally around here and shudder. (If we were Catholic, we'd most likely make the sign of the cross. As it is, I always say a little 'help us not do that' prayer at those times.)

So call this post a reminder that sometimes confrontation is necessary. It's not fun, it is sticky and unpleasant, but if not done at the right time, worse things can happen in the future. Things not even imagined.


On the lighter side, today after going to so many yard sales I didn't care if I ever saw another one, we picked up some lunch then took it to our favorite park along the shores of Lake Ontario. We always carry a blanket in the car, so we were prepared and oh the peace! We came away from the mesmerizing waters and perfect temps like Raggedy Andy and Ann--practically muscle-free and all droopy. Always our time there feels better than a full-body massage.


Oh, and lest anyone attempt to defend Tom's having eight tractors, well, I wouldn't go there if I were you. :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Usually, the few times we visit our old town together, Tom drives us. Well, today I drove Lennon back there alone for his yearly check-up. Gee, does he ever hate that place--in fact, so do I.

Oh my. All grace is off of me to live in that crowded, fast-paced community. And I once adored it! But clearly, my heart moved out to the countryside and now I can barely stand to return to the town I called mine for nearly 15 years. All the cars and houses squeezed together and traffic lights and noise and -- Well, stop me while you still can.

I even detoured and rode past our old house and was happy to see that the owner had made some nice improvements and planted a multi-colored flower garden in front of the sun room. But alas, when I turned onto our old street I practically began hyperventilating. I had to carefully squeeze the car in between parked cars and good gracious, each house seemed to be sitting on the neighboring one's lap.

I am so not pining for my old life.

Really, Grace is amazing. She kept us happy and contented while we lived in that cramped/crowded/smoggy community, but when the time came to leave, she let us know that, too. Clearly. She withdrew her magic and we began to feel like sad, caged animals. Our neighborhood felt like a can of sardines, with Tom and I being the middle sardines.

Of course, we could have lagged behind Grace, and simply stayed, moaning and complaining for years about how everything had changed for the worse. People let fear of change and the unknown talk them out of what God wants for them all the time. But instead, we responded by moving away, even though it was a scarey, huge step for us both--but it scares me more to 'miss God' and lag behind. And I'm grateful beyond words that we let go--each trip back there reminds me.

And how marvelous that God and Grace led us to such a pretty, quiet place.


So is anyone else disappointed in the direction which NCIS has taken? Sheesh. Suddenly they tossed away the humorous banter we all loved and replaced it with been-there-done-that-bought-the-dvd's violent drama. Et tu, NCIS?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

So before Tom went out mowing on one of his tractors yesterday, I gave him my oft-recited Be Careful Speech, complete with details of what not to do because of possible dangers, to stay way clear of the drainage ditch and to not travel out in our still-soft lake, lest he get bogged down. Stuff like that.

After awhile I stood at the window to check on Tom and alas, he was happily doing all those things I'd told him not to. The guy looked like Indiana Jones out there, complete with the hat, zooming and zipping right next to the ditch and churning up water drops in the center of the lake. Good grief.

Oh the tests I've had living out here in the country. This old dog is already tired of all the new tricks she's had to learn, especially when God nags me to let Tom do what he must do--and I must not worry about him. And with a good spirit, even. (God has to nag when I fail the tests the first 71 times.)

Anyway, we've made a big decision. For some time we've agreed that we simply have too much lawn and with each issue of Mary Jane's Farm I'm convicted about all the emissions belching out of our lawn mowers each week. We've discussed putting in more flower beds and trees and gardens and patios just to use up lawn space, but last night--after toying with this idea a week or so--I decided that we should let our back meadow 'go', as in, allow it to return to the wild from which it came. We'll keep a path mowed along its side so to toss fallen branches in our woods, but we'll let the rest of our park-like setting go natural.

That's a hard decision, for I loved sitting back there in our wicker chair next to my little fountain with the fairy on top, and yet? One must know oneself, what one can handle and what one cannot--and be able to admit both (and trust that wisdom has its eventual rewards). And a person must follow her convictions, too, especially when they grow heavier and heavier upon her soul. After all, Tom and I want to go 'back to the land' as much as possible and become naturalists of a sort, and well, it's hard to reconcile that with all those lawn mower emissions adding to the world's many ills.

Besides, I'll still have my Secret Garden area behind the barn and that is huge and will require years of digging and creating. Just how much land at 50-years-old do I really need to work and sit upon and bask and rest in anyway? Probably much, much less than I think.

I'm sure I'll be fine with one less meadow.


Months ago some of you suggested we could get by with mowing that back meadow just a couple times a year, and yet, truthfully, the grass grows too tall, too quickly for just mowing it twice yearly. Alas.

Mary Jane Butters does have a great-sounding lawn-substitute ground cover which spreads quickly, but just thinking about re-doing that whole meadow with that stuff makes me oh so tired. At least now. But perhaps someday?

Monday, May 18, 2009

So all afternoon yesterday I played the decorating game called Kim of Daisy Cottage. Fun! I didn't paint a thing (wasn't in the mood) and just used what I had around the house. And studied hundreds of photos on Kim's blog.

But I'm returning to my old digital camera, the one which chews batteries for lunch, because this zippy one with the Flash That Would Be King is making me nuts. Really, the in-person view is a better one. You'll just have to trust me.

I encourage everyone to rearrange what you already own in a new way. The new look might amaze you. (This also happens when we learn to see everyone and everything in a new light.)

Oh, and thanks, Kim, for your amazing ideas and awesome blog!


Alas, Tom returned home from work and didn't notice a single change. When I confronted him about that he said, "The house always looks nice when I get home so it looks great all the time."

Nice save. :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oh how great to feel good again! By yesterday afternoon I began to doubt if I'd ever feel normal (oh me of little faith). Now, if I can only hold myself back from overdoing today. Hmm. I'll try.

Last Thursday I found the above sign at a yard sale then placed it above our picture window. Love it.

So here's what I'm thinking. I always feel so incredibly happy and nostalgic when I visit Kim's house, but for months I've resisted trying to decorate like her because I'd never, ever do the amazing job she has. I don't have her magical skills to use crayon box colors. But now I'm thinking since her house is 100% amazing, wouldn't I be happy if mine was just 5o% as amazing? Yes! And, well, maybe I can do 50% as amazing. Maybe. :)

So, seriously, I'm considering decorating the cheerful, reminiscent way Kim does. Already my bright dining room makes my heart sing--and hopefully, in the fullness of time (as the Bible says)--the rest of my house will, too.

Let the adventure begin.

Thanks so much for all your get well wishes! I appreciated them so very much.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Razzle frats....

Oh the plans I had yesterday to work like the proverbial horse in our yard! 

And so there I was sitting in our garden, weeding, when uh oh. All my energy evaporated. And my stomach felt odd. Argh. Slowly-but-quickly I rolled the wheelbarrow under the back carport, walked to the house, through the back door and tried to talk myself out of coming down with some sort of the stomach flu.

Didn't work too well. Chills, weakness, nausea, aches. Sigh.

After a rough, rough night, I'm feeling a tad better. But still? About all I can do is melt beneath three blankets in Tom's recliner. I told him last night his is a very nice chair in which to be sick. He agreed.

Oh well, the work will still be there when I'm feeling better and that's the test--can I just relax and believe it will all get done before the heat of summer? I'm thinking I can. Hoping, anyway.


Friday, May 15, 2009

So if you need to find me, here is where I'll be. What a huge project! 

But I keep reminding myself that--someday-- half this space will be full of lovely flowers. That's the inspiration.

In just over two weeks we'll have bought this house one year ago--and wow, what a year it's been!

I reminded Tom yesterday that we're much farther along now than we were this time last year. He tends to see what we've not yet accomplished so my job is to remind him how far we've come. He needs me that way. ッ

I mean, as of last May 15th, we hadn't even moved all our possessions here (all those boxes!), 
nor replaced 18 windows 
or painted four rooms 
or insulated the house 
or built a garage. 
The flower beds weren't under control 
and half my garden wasn't covered with tarps and hay (to keep it weed-free till I'm ready to use it) 
and we hadn't replaced all the gardening tools, lawnmower and wheelbarrow which we'd given away (what were we thinking?). 
We didn't have enough beds, tables, chairs, shelves or dressers. 
The floors of this main level were an unfinished mess, 
we didn't have enough rugs for the floors 
and we had no bird feeders nor birdbath outside the bay window.

And so the list goes.

Your homework? Make a list of all you've accomplished this past year. Why? Because remembering what we've done inspirea us during the slow times.

Keeping a list of all God helps us to accomplish we're reminded that He'll help us domore. Also, the tiny things on the list encourage us that they, too, count for something--like bricks, each one necessary, to the final project (imagine a building with lots of missing bricks here and there. Not good.). 

At the right time, in the right season, everything will get done. The dream will come to pass, probably a bit tweaked, but it will happen.

What remains is to enjoy the journey, the doing, the learning all the lessons God wishes to teach along the way.


Oh, and yesterday Tom and I saw Last Chance Harvey. Loved it.

Watched the last half with tears in my eyes and my throat--my personal sign of a good romance movie. シ No sex or violence, but the language was a bit dicey the first half hour. 

Nice slow, sweet movie for the time when you're in a mood for one.


"He makes all things beautiful in His time." ... Ecclesiastes 3:11


Thursday, May 14, 2009

My favorite teacher says many are the lessons at the supermarket. She is so right!

So today while Tom lounged in the fun lunch area of the supermarket, I roamed the aisles trying, as always, to find food which won't eventually kill us. After giving-up about halfway through, I snatched my coupons and store card from my purse then wheeled my cart to the checkout-stand. I unloaded my groceries upon the belt thingy, then the young, adorable-looking worker asked if I'd like to donate to a certain medical research group. I smiled. "No, not this time."

She smiled and said, "I know people are in here all the time and they've probably given already." To which I replied, "I was just going to say, 'Been there, done that, already.' But I realize it's part of your job to ask anyway."

Then this sweet little thing leaned toward me, lowered her voice and said, "Yes, it is part of my job, but some people get mad at me for asking every time they walk through here."

Come on, people.

I don't know about you, but that sort of thing irks me. I don't care how low the economy sinks or how tired or busy we are--even so--there is no excuse for snapping at supermarket workers who just do what their boss instructed them to. Especially cute little 20-somethings like this girl with a sweet smile. Or especially anyone else, either.

Anyway, I told her how horrible it was that people would get upset at her and stated, again, that I realized asking us to donate money each time was just part of her job. I think I encouraged her. I hope I did. 

That's part of why I go supermarket shopping--coming away having encouraged someone is a fringe benefit, one I'm always looking to share.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Sit Down Gardener

I realized this week that I am a Sit Down Farmer.

Yes, if you were to drive past my little farm you'd glimpse me sitting in our flower beds or out in my garden upon my homemade cushion--a trash bag tied at the top, with newspapers inside (read that idea somewhere). And digging with my hand-held spade, bed by bed, row by row, acre by acre.

No, really. In two weeks I weeded and fertilized the four flower beds up against our house mostly while sitting down. In the shade, before the sun got there. All pretty comfortably.

Oh, the wheelbarrow trips to the fertilizer pile behind the barn and up to the house got a bit tedious, what with using the regular shovel and pushing the wheelbarrow up the incline upon which our house sits. But I made each step count, always asking myself if I needed to pick up a bucket or the spade or something else along the way, rather than walk back and get it needlessly later.

I only work for twenty-five minutes, or so, completing just a small section and maybe trimming a tree or watering seedlings, then I go inside to rest or read or eat or all three. Or to do a bit of easy housework. And after a half-hour , or longer, when I'm all rested, I go back outside for some more Sit Down Farming.

In other words, I'm pretty lazy. :)

Nah, mostly I'm telling you of my being a Sit Down Farmer so to encourage those of you who may be gazing out at your flower beds and gardens, seeing only a huge chunk rather than tiny bites. And feeling too overwhelmed to even begin. 

Or perhaps you're no longer strong or are debilitated in some way. To you I would say, just start by sitting in your garden upon a little cushion or a tiny bench with a spade in your hand and a bucket by your side for weeds. And dig a little, hum a little, think some Happy Thoughts, think square foot gardening, and then stop when you begin to feel tired, even if it's after just ten minutes.

At least you will have begun--that's usually the hardest part. Begin and gaze upon your small beginning and call it Good. Because it is, you know. It's always good to push past inertia and mindsets which lie and say it's all too much--when in reality--inch by inch, anything's a cinch.

Take it from me, The Sit Down Farmer.


"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me..." (and gives me common sense and good ideas through various sources...)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Okay. I don't believe I've ever shared my guilty pleasures here in my blog. So here goes one of them.... I confess I watch the tv show, House. I know, I know..... But hey, no one's perfect. And oh my goodness--for those of you who also watch it, wasn't last night's episode one of the best ever? Each scene with Cameron and Chase made my throat ache with tears and the final unraveling scenes with House made me gasp and a little dizzy. Wow. (If you're a fan, let me know what you thought in my comment box, ok?)

Now, to return you to the Debra which you all know and read, here are some photos from around my yard this morning. Your 5 cent tour as the little sign, below, says. And the wooden decoy ducks? Only $1 each at a yard sale. What a steal, uh, deal.

Here's a bit of that white flowered ground cover, sweet woodruff, I told you about.

Purple/white and yellow iris in front of the house.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day from my house to yours, may your day be sweet with memories new and old.

Friday, May 08, 2009

(You'll have to tilt your head to understand this photo...) Here's an idea for my seedlings (finally planted only this week...sigh...) which I probably saw in a magazine, but I don't remember, so I'm saying I made it up. Works great--I just tote the muffin tins back into the house at night where I keep them beneath a tiny lamp. Labeling plastic spoons with the seed names was my neighbor's idea--and a great one.

So the long flower bed on the sunny side of the house looks a bazillion times better after all my work, but there's a hitch. A biggish garter snake (northern brown snake?) is always slinking there now. He says he loves what I've done with the place and he especially enjoys startling me just to hear my garbled scream. I flick my wrists at him and cry "Shoo! Shoo!", but he just giggles, then sticks his tongue out at me. He even loves hiding beneath the muffin tins so I always take one of Tom's canes out there at night to tap, tap, tap them first. Such is Life in the country.

Our huge crab apple tree is in flower--much prettier than this photo shows. I'll keep trying.

(Click to enlarge, but really, the blossoms are a more intense pink.)

Now here's a verse which keeps me from becoming upset with people who just don't understand me or the things I do:

"Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?" ... Proverbs 20:24

Don't you love that verse? I mean, if I, myself, don't understand what God is trying to do or say through me, then why do I expect others to 'get me?' Why do I become frustrated when others question my motives or actions?

Various people who don't know Tom and I well were shocked when we bought this little farm. Some because we'd never before lived in the country (so they questioned whether we'd like it) and others because God has certainly not called them to do such a drastic thing--so they can't understand why anyone would. Why would anyone, they ask, take on so much work when we could be out 'winning souls?'

Probably we all know people who only view the world through their own tiny slant of light. If they've not done a thing, thought a thing, believed a thing then, well, that thing is a distraction and a waste of time for anyone. And just plain wrong.


Yet just when that short-sighted, small-mindedness threatens to frustrate me, along comes that soothing verse above. If half the time I don't even understand how God is using me to share Him with this world, why would I expect anyone else to understand what I do? Why do I expect others to comprehend the purpose of our Healing Acres when I've not even grasped the full scope yet?

And isn't it freeing to allow people the space to misunderstand us? Or the time to someday understand? I think it is, anyway... It's freeing to just allow others to do and be who they are. And hopefully--after sowing those seeds of patience and acceptance--I'll reap those good fruits, myself. In time, in the appropriate season.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

You'd think that while finally living my long-awaited farm dream I'd have tons of lovely things to write here in my blog. But alas, I don't. Not lately, anyway. Maybe that's the way it always is--you spend years thinking and writing about your dream, then when it arrives, you are simply meant to splash around in it and become immersed. And then maybe you are given something to say, words after all the new lessons you've learned. There are learning seasons, after all, times when ones mouth should remain silent so ones ears can hear better.

I've got flower beds on my mind--working in them, not writing about them. And planting seeds and pulling weeds and pushing my wheelbarrow around and around and filling up a huge puddle of stagnant water with dirt and -- And inside the house! Oh my. Much to do there as well.

Well, right now there are only lists like that inside my head and I hardly think those lists are good enough blog fodder. But they are just about all that's on my mind lately--in a good way, thankfully.

So when something interesting comes to me, I'll return, ok? And in the meantime I hope you are stepping outside and reveling and playing in this amazing season outside your own door.

"To everything there's a season..."

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Springtime: Amazing in the Country

Lennon says hey on this gorgeous, sunny Saturday morning.

For many years Tom and I took country drives, gazing out the windows at all the lovely 1800's farms. We'd say, "Oh, can you imagine what a country morning must feel like?" Almost could we feel and smell the cool, crisp and scented country air, hear the birds and touch the wide-openness of it all.

So was I right, after all those years, about the glory of a country morning?

I was. Truly, there's nothing like a country morning. I step outside the back door and poof! I'm ten-years-old and asking myself what shall I play first?

Paige asked if I've started my garden yet. Well, kinda sorta. 

Actually, where we live it's not safe to put in the main stuff till much later in May. Yet after I dug and framed my first little garden bed in my Secret Garden, I planted some green onions which I bought at the supermarket. I began doing that eons ago after I saw the idea on tv--you just keep clipping the greens as they grow.  I also transplanted the lilac twig which I brought over from our apartment and planted last June. I'm shocked that it survived garden life last year because my tomato plants grew all over it. 

But there she was, standing all alone, looking sweet.

My biggest project so far? I'm slaving over the long flower bed on the south side of our house. I've spent days digging, pulling weeds and dumping loads of fertilizer and soil from my Secret Garden area. My wheelbarrow has been my closest friend lately. She's a back saver. 

And I'm transplanting my favorite white-flowered ground cover (can't recall the name. (Later note: It's called Sweet Woodruff, a.k.a. Galium odoratum.). Before we moved here, I promised I'd buy some of this ground cover because it spread with wild abandon over the yard of our previous house, and well, it just wouldn't be Spring without it.

But here it was beside the house, already waiting for me.

And so Spring goes! I hope it's as amazing at your house.