Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lazy-Midlife Stuff or Contentment?

First, let me encourage those of you who have been laid-off from your job.

Tom had been out of work for 18 months and--even though God miraculously took care of all our needs--still, by January of 2012, we were down to around $200 in our bank account. Tom still received unemployment checks, but things looked a bit dicey that cold January.

We knew it was a test. 

Would we worry? (We hadn't been, but then, we'd always had more than a paltry $200.) Would we scheme and make plans apart from God's? Would we stop giving to others or tithing? (That part was easy. No, we'll always give.) But just $200 in the bank(!)

Yet we decided to stay heart-determined that all would be well. And soon, it was. Money suddenly came from odd, unimagined places. Then Tom got a job, was laid-off again 10 months later, then--amazingly--got the kind of job he'd dreamed about for 25 years. Immediately, no waiting this time.

And now, 17 months after that $200 January? The miracle: we've saved-up 13 months of expenses. And hey, in 33 years of marriage, we had never saved-up even 3 months' worth of expenses before (don't ask). And the wild part is that he's earned less money per hour at these last two jobs.

So please let that encourage you. God can change things around in huge ways. He's incredible like that.

Anyway, this all has me thinking about the way Tom and I spend weekends now. How do we spend them? Like slugs

Well, I grocery shop, but other than that? Drop by and you'll find us lolling around the house, watching tv, ordering out for Chinese (or making great sandwiches), or sitting on the front porch or did I already mention watching tv? If we get super adventurous we travel one-half mile to watch a movie at the theater. 

Of course, I totally understand that Tom needs downtime since he's away and driving and working Monday through Friday. I do get that so I go along with it even though I'm home all those days--but--being an introvert, more staying home doesn't bother me. Usually.

But here's the thing. We badly need a new couch (Daniel and Debra destroyed our current one. Don't ask about that, either.) And our barn-sale dining room table with the gash and scratches and mismatched chairs? Many days I dream of something different. And the outside house trim still needs to be painted and I keep daydreaming about having 2 skylight tubes installed into cave-like Debra's World upstairs here where I'm spending most of my life. And I've not bought new clothes since 2012 and I've only been to 2 yard sales this whole year and --

... and I'm spending these slug-like weekends wondering is something wrong with us? We've got more money than ever before, yet we're not spending any of it. Well, other than on bills, occasional household or vehicle repairs and on a rare dvd or book. Oh, not out of a hoarding, don't-want-to-get-down-to-$200-again kind of fear either (I'm 100% certain of that). No, Saturday just seems to arrive each week with all our fun intentions of traveling down to the furniture store or doing yard sales or calling for painting or lighting estimates--and yet do we do those things? Uh, no. We say, "Let's just stay in. Together."

And that keeps sounding delightful. Weekend after stay-at-home weekend.

But here's what I'm thinking (and hoping is true). I think that--mostly--we are content. The good kind of contentment, as in, so grateful for every tired ol' stick of furniture in this tiny, tiny house. At this age, where we've come? We don't neeed a new couch or table or other things to celebrate or keep up with anyone. The gratitude seems to fill our hearts, our real needs, more than new furniture or pretty white trim ever could. More than driving around to yard sales or movies or clothing stores or even long, delicious day trips ever could.

And for us that's big. And probably pretty normal for others in their 50's, too, well, those who aren't in the middle of a mid-life crisis. I think we already experienced our crisis, you know, with the whole farm adventure thing which taught us there's no place like home--in the suburbs.

So. Are we lazy or just at a grateful, floppy, contented turn in the road? Probably a little of both. Whatever it is--this is likely one of 99 different seasons we've faced together. And like the rest, it won't last forever. Yet really? It's one of the more pleasant seasons we have known.


"Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread."   ... Psalm 37:25

"But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either."   ... 1 Timothy 6:6,7

Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Hundreds of Vacations

1. a time of respite from something. Intermission.
   2. a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended

3. A period of exemption from work granted to an employee


In this Millennium? Tom and I took 'real vacations' in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2010 and in 2007 we flew out to California for my dad's memorial service, but although we visited with many relatives, did lots of traveling and stayed in one motel, I hesitate (greatly) to call that a vacation. Mostly it felt like a sad time away from home.

Anyway, as you can see--we don't get away much. I, basically, hate to fly and--the older I've grown--by the time I've recuperated from the long, harrowing car trip to anyplace, it's time to head back home. I did love our train adventure across the U.S. and we'd planned another this past April, but Tom's new job got in the way. There'll be no vacation again this year.

Except that there will.

I'm on vacation when I take a personal day off from housework and/or the Internet when (pardon this please) people make me sick. I watch The Price Is Right and then sit on my front porch, drink hot chocolate, read and stare down the street at the huge river. For hours. Or when I walk around the block or to the river's edge park or when a friend and I sit in a sunny window over coffee.

I'm on vacation when I stroll through the four gardens Grace and I planted here at Hobbit Cottage and I sniff my herbs, sit on the grass, stare at my swaying flowers and dream in sunlight.

I'm on vacation when I read a children's novel after my head has watched too much news and feels too grown-up (pessimistic, jaded). When I take necessary hours or days to heal from living in this modern century.

I'm on vacation when I look at your vacation photos online and read about the fun you had.

I'm on vacation when I give myself permission to be happy while nothing exactly 'happy-like' is going on. When I let the peace of God rule in my heart, not a spirit of busy-ness, complaining or keeping-up with the Jones'.

Come to think of it, I'm on vacation a lot. And perhaps that's partly why (along with daily big doses of Vitamin C and D3) I've not had a real cold or the flu in over 3 years. Maybe the germs become so bored in my soul-on-vacation atmosphere that they hop over to a more stressful one for greater fun. :)

"Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls."   ... Matthew 11:29


Oh, and lest you're wondering--yes--Tom and I have taken about 700 day trips. Our day trip memories are endless.


Inside my head I can travel to any lovely faraway place. And I do. Almost daily.


Speaking of flower beds.... I guess it wasn't enough that Grace and I hauled in 200 bricks last year and probably 400 pounds of soil. Nooo.... we had to start a new garden bed this year:

... and we're both thinking that--although there's lots more room to lengthen it--that's about as far as it's goin' this year. :) If only I had more energy! That whole strip along the fence gets the best, most incredible sunlight of the entire yard.


"You transform yourself, you transform everything around you."   ... Cesar Millan

Friday, June 28, 2013

Some Fun and Not-So-Fun Stuff


I'd planned to make an oh-so-rare trip to our local WalMart tomorrow for mostly garden supplies, but when I heard they'd dropped Paula Deen, I thought, "Oh well. I don't like WalMart anyway (mostly because it's just too  overwhelming for me to shop there), so I'll simply go to Home Depot like I do nearly every weekend."

Grrr. Home Depot is dropping her, too.

And can you believe their nerve? On the very day they banished Paula Deen, this is what appeared on their Facebook page:

Everyone makes mistakes, but we have the tools to make them all better. 
Happy Forgiveness Day!

Oh wow.  A thousand of us (or so) had a heyday with that bit of glaring hypocrisy! We pounced on such an unbelievably foolish move. And if everyone remains true to their word? Lowe's will get hundreds of thousands of extra dollars this weekend.

But I don't have a local Lowe's (she whines), just a sad little garden shop which I visited only once because it felt depressing. And bare. (Insert cricket sound effects here).

Hmm... there's still JoAnn's Fabrics for a few outdoor items (Target dropped Paula, too, so forget them) ... and running around to scattered yard sales ... and actually traveling out of town to assorted garden shops spread far and wide. And of course, making-do and doing without.

But then, standing-up for ones beliefs has always cost something. Always has. Always will. Here on Planet Earth, anyway.


But here's some good news: We've had not one dead sparrow in the last 9 days. Whew. I'd grown tired of dreaming about opened, bloodied sparrows at night. (Just be glad I spared you the gory details of what was happening when I realized the grackles were killing the sparrows... It's still etched in my head.)


And something fun... Our local morning news told us that 4 huge female stars are here locally at Niagara Falls while making a movie: Melissa McCarthy, Kathy Bates, Susan Sarandon and Sandra Oh. The movie is called Tammy and the interview with Melissa this morning was delightful (she loved the beauty of the park and even called her parents, asking, "Why haven't we ever been here before?"). 

But alas, the poor ladies are getting majorly rained upon. Yes, it's raining here again. (I'm about ready to place umbrellas over some of my plants.) 

Yet at least I'm grateful we're not experiencing the super-hot temps of the West as some of you are... stay cool out there!


Had a plumber over here yesterday because our bathtub, for weeks, was draining soooo slowly which was soooo annoying, messy and gross. I didn't even care about the money spent--some things are worth it, and besides, I've learned not to mind sharing money to help support workers' families. 

I believe we reap good things back when we view it as sharing, helping, rather than as a loss of funds.


"And at that time shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another."   ... Matthew 24:10

Can you say, "Today's World?"


Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Paula Deen Thing

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted... Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother."   ... Galations 6:1, 2 Thessalonians 3:15


Good grief. This Paula Deen thing is being handled so far and away from how the Bible says to handle it.

But then, our Country is so far and away from the Bible.

What I've seen for years all over the Internet and the news? A supreme lack of mercy toward others, due to a cruel form of judgemental pride. A horrid 'one strike and you are out forever' thing (which I've experienced, myself. Lots.).  Is that something new? No, it's something old; it's just more blatant-appearing due to technology.

Even thousands of years ago King David saw what was really going on:

"And David said to Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man."   ... 2 Samuel 24:14

Yeah, it's that nasty, unforgiving 'hand of man' that will slice your throat when you're caught in your sin before they are caught in theirs.


But God loves to show mercy to those who ask for forgiveness. He's majorly into restoration--not throwing people away. He's rich in mercy and teaches us to be likewise:

"Be merciful as your Father is also merciful."   ... Luke 6:36

"For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment."   ... James 2:13

May we remember. May we pray. May we realize that this tired old world is winding down to its finish. . . and stay closer than ever to its Author (who, originally, had something so incredibly better in mind).


"We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check."   ... James 3:2

Know a perfect person? Yeah, me neither.


"Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
 for they will be called children of God."   ... Matthew 5:7-9

Monday, June 24, 2013

Abbreviations? Won't Use Them. Mostly.

 "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles."   ... Matthew 5:41


Long ago and far away, Tom and I attended a church which printed its bulletins in code.

Well, to newbies like us, it looked like code:

"The MGFP will meet with the WGFP in the ABC room on Th. 7/8. Bring your NLIC's along with your MFC pens for the meeting and your burgers for the BBQ out in the GGJ area afterward!"

Okay. Perhaps I'm exaggerating. But only a tad.

Tom and I would sit on the church bench, nudge each other and point to these kinds of weekly announcements and whisper, "What the heck is a MGFP or an NLIC? I've never heard of an MFC pen and where in the world is the GGJ area??"


Except that it didn't feel funny at the time. Instead, Tom and I only felt more like outsiders, not in 'the club', and therefore clueless about what was going on. Strangers in a strange land, if you will.

That was over two decades ago and you know? I stopped using abbreviations after that. If you ever see an abbreviation in my blog it's only an extremely well-known one like 'the U.S.', and usually I'd only use that after first spelling it out in an earlier sentence (recalling my high school journalism days). I always spell-out the complete book of the Bible when I share verses, also.

Why spend that extra time, carefully taking extra steps to be clear? Because I want no one to feel left-out or confused by what I write. I know how awful it feels to be on the outside. Also, I appreciate what Joyce Meyer says, "You may not agree with everything I said, but you'll know what I said."

And may that be true here in this blog, in my emails and at Facebook. May I walk however many extra miles it takes in order to speak concisely both from my own heart and--hopefully--God's heart as well.


"But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.' Whatever is more than these is of the evil one."   ... Matthew 5:37

This verse inspires a whole long message, but one simple point? Be clear in what you say. Let there be no room for doubt or duplicity.


Oh wow. A special thanks to Clarice for sharing this amazing 12-year-old singer by way of Facebook last night: Jasmine Thompson singing, Home. I had to listen at least 4 times before I went to bed. :) I think the words reflect why Tom and I are able to move from house to house without any looking back--as long as we're moving together, that's all that matters.


Oh! And I didn't even know until yesterday that they're mixing corgi dogs with lots of other dog breeds. Find photos here and here. Hmmm... not quite sure how I feel about that--although--it is kinda nifty that if you've always loved a certain big dog, but would find it hard to care for him in a tiny space, you can now get him in a smaller size. (I guess if the dogs are healthy in mind and body there's no real problem?)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How Do You Remember Those Who Are Gone?

“All that we know about those we have loved and lost is that they would wish us to remember them with a more intensified realization of their reality. What is essential does not die but clarifies. The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.” 

... Thornton Wilder


Oh my goodness.... yes! That's exactly how I feel. 

So imagine my confusion each time friends set themselves up to yearly mourn their loved one's passing date or birthday. You know, actually making plans to sadly sit at home with lots of kleenex or beside a tombstone, grieving, crying, feeling, experiencing the loss all over again. Year after year, decade after decade.

Well, both Thornton and I don't get that. We believe it's better to live a person's good example rather than cry about it.

And we also believe those anniversaries could be spent with a joyous splashing around within a deeper, 'more intensified and clarified realization of that loved one's reality'. With lots and lots of gratitude that we even were blessed enough to know these people, Life being all hit-and-miss as it can be sometimes.

I'm thinking along these lines probably because yesterday would have been the 81st birthday of Loana Gakle, my high school gym teacher who I wrote about here when she passed away in February of 2009. And although I did feel a moment of sadness that her daughter and her family could no longer share this happy day with their mother, still, I gave thanks that in my travels upon this planet--in my living in three states on two coasts--I was blessed that my path had crossed Loana's. And even now all these 35 years away from that initial meeting, I'm still reaping good things from having known her happy spirit which inspires me when I'm tempted to turn cranky and look on the dark side since that's easier.

Anybody can turn all cranky. It requires nothing special.

Loana's being remembered by everyone as a joyful light still shines upon me all these years after her passing, inspiring me that, yes, it is possible to live that way... to spread a kind of joy-filled example of living which stretches way beyond one's own life. An example never forgotten no matter how many years may interfere or separate us.


My favorite Thornton Wilder quote:

"I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back — up the hill — to my grave. 

But first: Wait! One more look. Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by Grover's Corners...Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking...and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. ...Do human beings ever realize life while they live it? — Every, every minute? ...I'm ready to go back...I should have listened to you. That's all human beings are! Just blind people."  

... From the play, Our Town


Find more Thornton Wilder quotes here.

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope."  ... 1 Thessalonians 4:13

"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful."   ... Colossians 3:15

Friday, June 21, 2013

It's Summertime at Hobbit Cottage

Summer's first day!

And our huge, takes-forever-to-trim honeysuckle hedges are bursting with blossoms, the scent which probably perfumes Heaven. It's that glorious.

And in honor of summertime, I finally, after over a year of considering doing this (these things take time. heh.), brought down this chair and table from Debra's World. Life on the front porch looks and feels better, more balanced and not so spindly or 'leggy' now.

Also--finally--after so many weeks of waiting, my first free issue of Country Living arrived. 

...what a perfect day for it!

And even though Tom and I tease that, at our next house, we'll have a yard only this size since I can easily, happily manage this side yard:

... on a day like this--one where my mowing of the lawn was rewarded by sun and blue skies and glorious quiet and that heavenly, bee-calling scent--well, this larger yard becomes worth all its work. I can 'garden walk' like a bee from plant to plant, flower to flower, and gaze, sniff and revel in the delight of owning a bit of land to make a garden for Tom and myself.

Happy Summer to you! Do something special to celebrate this longest day of the year, ok?


"Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment."   ... 1 Timothy 6:17


Isn't it wonderful that they're still making retro furniture in today's modern world? Here are just a couple examples:

One here. (Check it out in red, also.)

And here.

I saw an even spiffier retro dining set this morning on The Price is Right, but I've not been able to find it online yet. I noted the Wayfair name, but not the manufacturer's name. sigh. Or...... perhaps they sold out already! :)


Oh! And my super-cheap mailing address labels ($4 plus shipping for 280) arrived today, also. I am thrilled with them--find the ones I chose here.  (My favorite way to own a farm --- photos on paper or paintings up on walls.)   :)

Love retro kitchens? These will steal your heart.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Change It or Accept It?

Gah. Remember my mention yesterday of a mysterious sparrow-eating cat in our yard?

Well. There is no cat.

Instead, we've been invaded by pushy, blood-thirsty, flesh-tearing grackles

I'd never even heard of any semi-normal birds killing other birds before, but yesterday evening Tom and I witnessed a grackle picking at Dead Sparrow #3 (for the day) outside our dining room window.

So I ran upstairs to check online whether this horrible sight could be true (what did we ever do before computers?) and oh my. I discovered whole message boards of bird lovers bemoaning the plight of sparrows due to horrid, horrid grackles.

Tom and I felt sick with disappointment. We've fed birds over 20 years and, being homebodies, one of our greatest joys is watching myriad birds fluttering joyfully only feet away from our dining room window. And Daniel and Sammy The Cats love their 'kitty tv' even more than we do.

"Frustration:  trying to do something you can do nothing about."

So rather than just sit here feeling frustrated by those &^%$@# grackles, I'm Taking Steps. 

I emptied the regular feeders into the trash. I stored one in the garage and hung flowers, instead, from its former post, but our old finch feeder will go there after I buy finch seed. The oriole feeder will stay up and I'll buy a hummingbird feeder. I'll wait a month before I try putting out any regular bird seed--hopefully the grackles will have grown weary of sitting vulture-like in our trees by then.

Some things in Life can be changed and some cannot, but oh, when we mix those up! When we waste our strength and years trying to change what cannot be...

Yet what brings peace? Accepting what cannot be changed and then simply, quietly, doing something about what can.


More info. on grackle-avoiding bird feeding can be found here. Wilma in my comments reminded me that safflower seed is supposed to be a good alternative. I'll try that in a couple of weeks.

And yes... some people believe birds shouldn't be fed in the summer. I am not one of those people. :)


Oh! And almost forgot to add.... the blood meal is working wonderfully in keeping squirrels away from my plants. This was another thing which had a solution--I just had to search for it rather than sit around and whine about the problem.


Isaiah 41:10 ... fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The This and That Of My Current Life

Don't you just love June roses?

Our next-door neighbors had their whole sewer line replaced last year, their yard was all torn up with a ghastly pile of dirt afterward and a permanent pipe sticking up, even, and Robin told me (a few times) that it was all making her crazy.

That would make me crazy, too.

But now their yard is beautiful again and guess what Robin did with the pipe? She plopped a big ol' fat frog on top of it.

That, Folks, is what you call 'making lemonade from lemons'. Anytime we must live with something we don't like, we have a choice in how we react to it. Will we open our heart to receive Grace? Or will we keep worsening the situation by complaints?

 Anyway, don't you love that frog? (Excuse the chain link--I didn't want to hang over the fence with my camera and have to explain to Robin and Paul that I'm spying on them for my blog. Which, of course, I am.)

Speaking of our neighbors, they had their house painted a couple weeks ago and I think it looks amazing:

Hmm... it's looking grey on my computer but--in The Real World--their house is green.


Moving on.... A mysterious, I-never-see-him cat is killing sparrows in our yard. Six sparrows in the trash later and I'm trying not to get discouraged. sigh.


Tom and I are totally enjoying our Netflixed discs of Body of Proof. We're currently watching the second season, and well, I never notice clothes on tv, but oh my! I notice each and every outfit Dana Delany wears. Give me those clothes 12 sizes larger (or 6 if you're going by even numbers) and I think they'd look pretty spiffy on me, too. heh. 

Also, Dana has become yet one more example of a woman over 50 looking incredible with long hair.

Oh, and each Tuesday when Tom returns from work, we eat dinner in front of his computer while watching the latest episode of Longmire by way of Hulu. I totally get why Tom loves that show, but I still find it odd that I enjoy it.


Daniel the Cat learned how to open my bedroom closet door, and well, I don't want him in there. I'm trying every Dog Whisperer trick to keep him out-- so far I think it's a tie as to who is winning. :)


Naomi's visit  has been pushed back one month. But that's ok, for life here at Hobbit Cottage is sweet and Naomi is also enjoying her days in Nashville and Atlanta, too (long story)... so all is well with our souls.


And don't you just love thyme, too?  :)


Oh, and a very special thanks to those of you who left such sweet comments here and at Facebook after my last post!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Why We Can't Quit

"For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."   ... 1 Corinthians 6:20


Of course, sometimes I'm tempted to pack up this blog. 

You know, to return to pre-Internet days when this happy homemaker lived for her family and herself and spent myriad quiet afternoons alone, at home, vacuuming, washing dishes, sitting on her front porch and writing in diaries no one ever saw.

Oh, I'd write letters to old friends. I taught adult and children's classes at church on Sundays and contributed to the oh-so-occasional weekend seminar and went out to coffee shops sometimes with a friend or two.

There was that, of course.

Yet mostly? My daily life belonged to me (me, me, me) to arrange and do with however I (I, I, I) wanted. It was a quiet, organized, tidy type of life more "Debra-controlled" than God-controlled.

But then, the summer of 2004 came, along with the conviction to begin blogging which meant sharing my life with people across our world who I've never met in-person, nor will ever meet this side of Heaven. Most of them, anyway (having, in this Real World, met a few of you). 

Daily writing here (well, nearly so). Thousands of posts, meaning almost always there's something to write about floating around inside my head, even when I'd rather it would just get quiet up there.

And you know? Blogging (and even being at Facebook) has stretched me, changed me, broadened my proverbial horizons and shown me that yes! Since I belong to God, my life really does no longer belong to me. A God-bought person was never meant to stay hidden away inside a house, a yard or only expressed upon secret diary pages kept inside a drawer.

A true Christian life was never meant to stay that safe, that tidy, that, well, selfish.  

No, we're each given gifts (there are so many!) meant to be shared and a love so full-bodied, golden and overwhelming that it cannot remain so if kept to itself. Love like that must be released in order to keep the love flow, well, flowing, so that the hope remains that lives will change along its course. 

And that is why, nearly nine years later, I'm still here.


"For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone."   ... Romans 14:7

 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."   ... Luke 9:23

Sometimes we're not happy only because we're keeping what we were meant to give away...


Oh! Have you seen this yet? It's Not About The Nail. It's not only quite true within marriage, but when anyone tries to help us, only to discover we're not ready to actually be set free from our pain, but instead, just wish to complain about it awhile longer.