Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Revolution


I wrote this devotional for my Ladies Auxiliary class in the first part of December.  I thought it appropriate to share now.

My hairdresser is truly a magician.  I stand in awe of her many talents and in the safety and comfort of her confessional chair, I confided a struggle I've had for a while.  She shared the story of her One Word New Year's Resolution.  She had heard a speaker talk about having one word, a personal mantra, as a resolution, rather than a self-defeating list of things no one ever accomplishes.  She thought about it, prayed about it, and chose the word "control."  Whether it was controlling her spending or giving up control of a problem, control fit her life needs at that moment.  She found herself looking up scriptures that dealt with control and used them for inspiration and encouragement.  Focusing on that one word gave her a place to start a positive change in her life.  Little did she know, she was an instrument of the Lord that day.  It was exactly what I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it.

As I sat there, I thought of my word and shared it with her.  It's a word I'd been working with for about six months at that time.  I didn't know what I was doing at that time or have any specific directions on how to use it, but I reflected on it and referred back to it when I needed a pep-talk.  My word is "enough."  It fits many situations, like having had enough or having done enough.  I've begun my exploration of that word and its various meanings and connotations.  Adequate, sufficient, and full are synonyms for enough.

I'm searching the scriptures for these words and how I can apply them to my personal needs.  In Exodus, God told Moses, "I am that I am..."  I am...enough.  I am...whatever you need.  I am...the only thing that can fill that empty spot.  I am...the One who knows your heart of hearts.  I am...the One who loves you in spite of everything you do.  Angie gifted me with a charm necklace that says, "I am enough."  In realizing the infinite scope of who God is, I'm learning the scope of who I am in Him...and that I am enough.  No matter what I'm told.  No matter how I'm made to feel.  No matter what I do or what I don't do.  I am enough...just like I am.  I'm still not convinced.  I'm not quite there yet, but I'm working on it every day by challenging as well as setting limits for myself.

So, I'm sharing my word, which is deeply personal to me, in order to encourage you to find your word.  Everyone has a word.  January is coming up and I think I'm going to keep my word for another year.  It's very easy to get started.  Pray about it.  Scripture tells us in Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in they sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."  Ask for guidance in finding the area you need to address.  Choose the word that is revealed to you.  You'll know it immediately.  Search the scriptures.  What has the Lord said about your word?  Apply the principles you find to your life.  Use it for daily meditation, memorization, signs around your house, share it as a testimonial.  1 Timothy 4:15 tells us, "Meditate upon these things: give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting my appear to all."  The whole goal is for others to see our word, His Word in us. 

What's your word?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What I'm Missing...


This year, I missed the harvest moon.
I knew it was out there.
I saw the radiance through my blinds onto my darkened walls.
I was busy doing...things.

It never occurred to me laundry could wait.
Dishes could wait.
Heck, supper could wait long enough for me
to stand on my patio and just breathe.

As I scurry about from one chore to the next every evening,
I wonder why I don't just stop and breathe?
Would it hurt me to sit in the swing for a while with my cat
(instead of her trying to trip me for attention?)

I found this quote and it reminded me of what I miss.
I decided to make myself a permanent marker.
It's hanging under my carport facing my car.
I'll see it everyday as I leave.
I'll see it every evening as I return.

I think of what I miss...
Sunrise I see, as I'm on my way to work.
Sunset, rarely.  I'm "busy."

I've missed the last dragonflies, fireflies, and hummingbirds.
I've missed most of my hurricane lilies.
I've missed sitting in the swing until I'm damp with dew.

I'm making a point to be more aware.
Now I'm trying to stay outside long enough to count
at least one airplane overhead every evening.
(That's not hard, I'm in a great fly zone.)

I'm committed to love on my cat before she causes
me to break a leg and spend my holidays on crutches.
I'm determined to sit in my swing for an undertimed
time each day.  I'll call it meditation.

I'm learning my journey in life is made of up these moments.
I won't remember the innumerable dishes and loads of laundry.
I won't remember how clean my house was or was not.
I will remember the little things that made me
stop, breathe, think and enjoy.





Monday, October 21, 2013

Little Cat Feet


Tonight my pasture reminded me of Carl Sandburg.
His poem, Fog, has long come to mind on nights like these.
I particularly like the first stanza:
"The fog comes
on little cat feet"

Indeed, it does.
I was fortunate to get a picture tonight,
amidst the dishes and multitasking involved in an
average evening at my house.

It crept rather rapidly.
By the time I'd gotten back to the kitchen,
the cows were nearly obscured.
It covered the landscape and
the night sounds seemed to whisper in its presence.

I enjoy watching the fog come in.
It lends a magical quality to the twilight of the day.
It requires me to stop and appreciate,
reflect, ponder, wonder, and sigh.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Finally Fall


As I was feeding our menagerie this afternoon, I finally saw them.
My first geese of the season. 
It was a bit disconcerting to realize it was 80 degrees
and the humidity was thick enough to do really bad things
to naturally curly hair.

Nevertheless,
There they were, headed south.
I paused, thankful for the bit of respite this afternoon.
It was just the bit of hope I needed.

To me, this means cooler weather.
And sweaters.
And sitting in the swing with a cat on my lap and tea in my hand.
And seeing my breath as I walk in the afternoons.
And books.  Lots and lots of books.

It makes me feel creative.
I wanted to re-start my quilting project.
I wanted to begin those holiday paintings I have in mind.
I want to write some of the ideas that keep me company daily.
As always, I wanted to just sit and read and enjoy.

Perhaps the weather will eventually mimic what I'm seeing in nature.
My lawn isn't growing as fast and my flowers are slowing their blooming.
The leaves are gradually shedding leaves while
My animals are slowly adding their winter coats.

I try not to think about the fact I don't own a winter coat.
It's never really cold enough here.
But I have scarves and gloves and sweaters.  Lots of sweaters.
Fall, I believe, is my favorite season.
And it's finally here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Juggling Monkeys



I've had a lot of questions about my new desk art. 
I have this saying framed and displayed prominently.
(Thanks to Beth for finding it for me!)
I hope it will serve as a reminder to say no
and stay out of business not belonging to me.

This school year, when someone has asked me how things are going,
My response has been, "Just juggling monkeys..."
They usually respond with a puzzled look and an, "okkaaayyyy..."

Here's what I mean:
When you juggle normal objects like a
tennis ball, a bowling pin, or even a chain saw
you throw them up, they come down.

Monkeys don't do that.
When you throw monkeys up
Sometimes the come down...and sometimes they don't.
Sometimes they bring a vine (or five) with them.
Sometimes they cling to one another
and come down in a swirling clump of arms and legs.
Sometimes they come down on your head
and wrap their furry paws around your eyes
(and their tail around your neck.)
Sometimes they don't come down where you are expecting them.
Sometimes they don't come down at all
they find a spot to sit and throw "stuff" at you.

Just juggling monkeys.
Ever had a day, week....year like that?
It's strange when juggling becomes the norm.
When did it become a sign of accomplishment to be busy?

Because of this, I value my friends more than they know.
I look forward to random texts during the day.
An email from far away can make me smile like nothing else.
I try to enjoy the special things that make my day.

I'm determined to enjoy life...monkeys and all.
How are your monkeys?
















Friday, August 9, 2013

"A Three-Hour Tour....."

One more project checked off my list!

I bought this ottoman at Pier 1 years and years ago.
It matches the loveseat and chairs from my apartment days.
It was on sale and I couldn't pass it up.
They didn't have cushions for it.

Now, it has a cushion.



I know enough about sewing to be dangerous.
I had no pattern.
I had foam, left-over fabric, and paracord.
(FYI: Wal-Mart no longer sells cording, so I had to improvise.)

I knew what it needed to look like.
I knew where I wanted to end up.
About half-way through, the theme to "Gilligan's Island"
began to play in my head.

My "three-hour tour" turned into a five hour adventure
into surviving (and completing) this sewing project.
I won't bore you with the details, but I am SO glad to be done.
It fits.  It looks great (if I do say so myself) and it's over!

Post-Script on yesterday's drama:
The bird survived.
The cat spent the ENTIRE day under my feet on the carport.
She's yet to be seen this morning.
The new rooster was turned out yesterday evening
and hasn't been seen since.
The barking I heard was a fox, not a coyote.
(I knew I'd heard it before, but couldn't place it.  Hubby explained!)
If anything is misspelled today, no excuse.  I've had my tea. :)

Just another day in the deep woods.
I'm sure going to miss them when school starts...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Herding Cats

It's been a day.  Already.  And it's just 7:45 a.m.
After my hubby left for work, I decided to water my plants.
It's a "cool" 76 degrees and will only get warmer as the day progresses.
I ended with my hibiscus, which takes over a gallon of water a day.

Sitting on the arm of my Adirondack chair was this precious thing:



A baby mockingbird.  I love mockingbirds.
They nest here every year.
I love to hear them sing and I try to count the different calls they make.
I particularly love the tufted feathers above his eyes.

I slowly watered my hibiscus (right next to the chair.)
And turned to find my other precious, my cat, in the swing.
She's rarely out this early, but this morning, she is.
I got her fresh food, water, and kitty treats.  I knew it was in vain.

Then the momma & daddy mockingbirds spotted her.
The cacophony began.
Meanwhile, in the pasture our rooster was exerting his vocal skills.
My hubby brought home a new rooster yesterday (safely ensconsed in the coop.)

Our existing rooster was putting on a performance fit for Cirque.
He pranced, strutted, fluffed, climbed, fluttered, jumped.
All while crowing at the top of his lungs.
(Keep in mind he's been crowing since about 5:45 a.m. already.)

During this show, the dogs began to bark.
These are the two who NEVER bark (unlike the one who does just because he's breathing.)
I went to investigate.
Nothing amiss, but the distant barking of another animal, probably a coyote.

Mockingbirds chirping and screeching and now dive-bombing the cat.
A rooster trying to show everyone He's the boss.
Dogs letting me know something is out there that shouldn't be.
And a cat, lazily strolling around the yard sniffing for baby birds.  Sigh.

I lure her into the house with a peck on a glass bowl.
(That's the universal call that mommy has a treat.)
She turned her nose up at 2% milk.
Poured that out and replaced it with heavy cream. 
That got a lick, then a distainfully flicked tail.

She began to roam the house.
I was envisioning ragged threads hanging from my new chairs.
She has a penchant for clawing the furniture.  Most is kitty-proof.
I tied string of paracord around a kitchen chair.
This entertained her for quite some time.



The roaming began again.  The birds had calmed.
It was time for her to go back outside.
I have things to do that don't involve herding a cat all day.
And, the chase was on.

She knows the exact spots in the house where I can't reach her.
Well, by the time I get to all fours and stretch, she jumps just out of reach.
And runs again.  Under and behind chairs and tables.
Then she hides.  This is her hiding under our bed:



She hasn't figured out her tail gives her away.
After about the 6th circut through the house, she began to eye the new chairs.
I knew what that look meant.  Just a glance and a flicked tail.
It was just a matter of time.

I finally caught her mid-route.
I received a healthy hiss, but no claws.
She's outside, currently "sleeping" on the front steps.
(Do I need to say she NEVER sleeps there?)

The birds are watching carefully.
If they'd pipe down and just eye her, she may go away.
I haven't seen the baby bird (nor the carnage.)
I hope he got away.

My mother once told me something her mother told her.
If every baby bird that hatched lived, we'd be overrun with birds.
I think of that saying often.  It's true.  In a way, it's comforting.
It doesn't stop me from trying to save the ones I can.

I'll close with my favorite line from one of my favorite books.
Harper Lee is a genius and To Kill A Mockingbird should be required reading.
Miss Maudie was explaining to Scout a comment Atticus made to Jem about
being responsible with his gun and how it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.

"Mockingbirds don't do one thing except make music for us to enjoy.
They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corn cribs,
they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.
That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

Amen.

Now I need a nap.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Not-So-Extreme Home Make-Over...Finished

It's amazing how little it takes to make you feel good!
A bit of fabric (and two new chairs.)
I never want to leave home!

Our living room is long and narrow.
We actually have two seating areas.
The primary area wasn't comfortable.
My husband never liked this red wooden furniture.
(Red, one of my favorite colors, isn't one of his.)

(Yes, those are deer mounts on the wall.
2 of 10 mounts...I just counted.  I don't even "see" them anymore.)
Anyway, the chairs weren't comfortable.
One was broken.  Pier 1 to the rescue!


Two wingbacks.  Gorgeous fabric.
Comfortable.
Perfect for tea and reading.
Moved the couch to the other wall and removed the red chairs.

P.S. Kelley - the red table we saw at Target - it would be PERFECT between
my new chairs.  But it's red.  My sweetheart said ANY color but red...please.

*     *     *    *    *

The bedroom is still in process but almost done.
This is my new favorite fabric...my royal baby.
Printed in England, the print is called "Abbottsford."
On sale...lucky me.

The throw didn't take much effort.  Cut, hem, add bullion fringe.
I love bullion fringe.  It makes the ordinary look extraordinary.



The pillow took more effort and speaks of marital cooperation.
I consulted my design expert (Kelley) who said, how about a big square pillow?
I had two sets of shams with flange edges.  I wanted cording on this one.
I had no cording and vowed not to go to town until I went to work Wednesday.

My dear husband raided his shop.
He donated his military grade paracord.
I made my own piping, and sewed up my "survival" pillow.
In case of zombie apocalypse, grab the pillow.
It has at least 90 inches of paracord safely camoflaged within.



Home sweet home.
I was finally home long enough this summer to do a bit of nesting.
Now that my nest is feathered, it's time to venture back into the world.
However, it is waiting on me every evening.
Quiet.
Peaceful.
Comfortable.
Pretty.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Right Way to Spend Sunday Evening

After church (and supper) we decided to take a drive.
This is one of our favorite things to do.
I "tally" the wildlife we see.
We play our version of music trivia.
(He guesses the song title and/or artist.  I ALWAYS win.)

Last night was no different.
We rode the backroads through the creek bottoms.
This time, I remembered my camera. 
 There was barely enough light.

Love this huge old cypress tree.
Confident they don't make 'em like this any more.
The base is probably 7-8 feet in diameter...maybe larger.
This is just the top half:


The very top is what is so beautiful to me:


Across from the tree are these beautiful creek bottoms.
If it weren't for all the creepin' and crawlin' critters,
I'd love to explore on foot - or pirogue.




A ways down the road, we ran into an old friend.
This hoot owl hangs out on this branch in the evening.
It's at a bridge also over a creek.
He's not evil, the flash just caught him!


This is one of my favorite roads to drive.
It gives the illusion of mystery, almost magical.
You never know what is around the next curve.
Makes you feel like the only two people in the world.



Wildlife tally:
3 deer (1 of which was a young buck)
1 sow with 3 piglets
1 hoot-owl
3 cotton-mouths (snakes...ick!)
1 great-horned owl
1 blue herron
1 baby skunk (like the size of a coke can!)
and, 2 tired adults

It was a great evening. 
Relaxing, even refreshing.
I can't wait to do it again.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More Summer Projects

The rain this morning was welcome and delightful.
The lingering headache I woke with, was not.
I can at least do one post today.
Projects requiring thought?  Not so much.


 A quick summary of finished projects:
I used spray adhesive and scrapbooking paper from a previous project
to cover my new (and very plain) calendar and address book.
(I'm a BIG nerd.  Can't wait for the new calendars to come out in the summer!)
 


I made this delicious pizza for lunch one Saturday.
My allergy to tomatoes has taught me to think creatively when cooking.
Alfredo sauce, chicken, mushrooms, onions, spinach,
along with fresh basil & chives from my garden.
It was delish...even my husband said so!



I made a summer-weight robe.
I'm still not sure about the fabric, but it was high quality and
ridiculously expensive, marked down to nothing.
It wears well and I'm pleased.



I worked on a mini-decorative project for my bedroom.
It's not finished yet - still needs a few touches.
I discovered hot glue is really hot.
(And, to my husband's amusement,
mod-podge will not stick to styrofoam.)



I took some pretty good pictures:


Love this moth on my lantana.  The colors really pop.



Love my zoom lens.  This isn't as crisp as I'd like, but it's
a female bluebird re-feathering her next for her second batch of babies.
(They are on round three for the summer as I speak.)



My favorite is this tiny spider.  Her legs are folded underneath her.
She lived in the top of my watering can.
I couldn't get anything for a size reference in the picture,
but this entire web would be covered by a dime.
I did my best to fill the can around her web, but it didn't always work.
She finally gave up and moved along to a more secure spot.


My summer projects aren't finished yet, but my summer nearly is.
I have finishing touches to add to my bedroom.
I am waiting on chairs I ordered at Pier 1 for my living room.
The quilt.  Let's not talk about the quilt.
I'm documenting as I progress, so pictures will follow!

I return to work a week from today.
Long-live the rest of my vacation.
May the days be very long & productive!
(Or just very long...I'm learning I don't always HAVE to be busy!)


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Not-So Extreme Make-Over: Utility Room Shelves

I am very blessed to have a utility room.
I am doubly blessed to have it open right off my kitchen.
(When we bought the house, the entrance was from the carport.
Who wants to schlep clothes to the washer in the elements?)

I've tried to make use of every inch of space.
The hot water tank, washer, dryer, and safe take up a lot of space.
I was able to squeeze in two large metal shelves.
One I use for general storage (shown), the other for food storage & microwave.

I store wreaths on hooks around the room.
Every inch of this room is used and it's stacked to the ceiling.
It's useful, but not all together pleasant to look at.


My dryer lint also manages to take over.
We are dirty people.  I wash at least one load of clothes day.
Sometimes more.
Ugh.

A sale at the fabric store made ideas start to bubble.
I loved this yellow and green fabric.
Why not make curtains for my utility room shelves?
Why not, indeed?


I can't believe what a difference it makes!
This was a quick project.  I serged the edges and attached
sticky loop tape (Velcro) and voila!  Covered shelves!
Now, my canning jars will be clean and dust-free when I'm ready to use them.

I've done a bit more cleaning and arranging.
And, ahem, finally gotten around to floating the sheetrock and
painting the wall of the door we enclosed...a while ago. 
It's fresh and clean and I just love looking at it.

Today, that is.
  Tomorrow, it will be laundry time.
Again.

P.S. Nothing is allowed to even sit temporarily on top of the safe.
Not even clean clothes. 
The swag has been moved from the top of the sacred safe. 
My husband will never know.





Wild Violet Jelly

This was a Spring project, not Summer, but it was the beginning!
I've waited and waited for enough violets to bloom to try this.
It takes 2 cups of blooms
Do you have ANY idea how many little wispy flowers that is?


I didn't count.  I felt it would be discouraging!
After scouring my yard and several surrounding acres,
including the nearby woods and creek bank, I had enough.  Finally!
The next step was to make tea, essentially pouring boiling water over the blooms and allowing them to steep overnight.



The next day, the magic begins.
After carefully straining the blooms from the "tea,"
I added the tea to sugar, to make a rather blue-greenish tinted liquid.


Then, add lemon juice to the tea and sugar *magic*! 
It turns this delightful pink.



In the traditional jelly-making sense, I continued with boiling, adding pectin,
filling jars, and a water bath yielding 4 very precious tiny jars 
of this delightfully light and floral jelly.


I don't believe it's to my husband's taste, as we still have jars left.
I, however, enjoy a bit on a biscuit or scone from time to time.


I found the recipe here:

I don't know if I'll make more next Spring or not.
My next jelly making adventure will be dandelion.  Stay tuned!

You've Got Mail!

This is one of my favorite things to hear (and favorite movies!)
There is nothing better than coming home from work and finding a letter waiting.



One of my dearest friends, I've never met.  Her name is Patty and she is my pen pal.
Although we were matched randomly, we could be sisters.
No.  You never get too old to have a pen pal.
Yes.  We really write letters the old-fashioned way. 
She even uses a fountain pen!
(I have one, use it often, and promise to write my next letter with it!)

She is a farmgirl, quite literally, and makes me tired just hearing about all she does.
She lives in upstate New York with her awesomely talented husband, George.
They make me tired just hearing about all they do.
In an effort to "keep up," I told her I'd blog my projects this summer.
(It makes me look much busier than I've really been...)

So, these next posts are for you, Patty!


Monday, February 25, 2013

Uncle, Uncle, UNCLE!

I give up.  These Wireless Sundays have got to go.  I made it 2 months before going stark-raving crazy!  They were successful.  I enjoyed the "quiet" time, but I didn't realize how dependent I am on technology.  Example. Yesterday after church we did some shopping and I ended up with a bag of beautiful lemons.  I knew I wouldn't use them immediately, so I wondered how best to store them for optimal freshness.  That's a question for Google, but not on Wireless Sunday!  In church, I thought of two or three people I needed to send cards to this week.  I print my own with a card-making program I enjoy.  Well, not on Wireless Sunday!  It became an issue of trying to hard to plan ahead on Saturday for any anticipated Google issues and/or minor paperwork things so that going wireless simply isn't feasable.  I spend more time accomodating for it than I do enjoying it.  I've decided moderation is the key.  That doesn't mean spend all afternoon on Pinterest, but if I need to Google when to clean out my blue-bird houses, then by all means look it up, then move on!  Everything in moderation.  (Now, if I could only apply this to caffeine and chocolate!)


P.S.  The best way to keep lemons optimally fresh is in the refrigerator.  However, they will eventually spoil in there too, so before that happens, zest and juice them - and freeze your results.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Device Free Sunday

Well, my computer appears to have some sort of connectivity problem, so I'm still at work.  Dedicated, huh?  I wanted to write about this before I completely forgot the experience, although I have 51 more Sundays this year.

After spending most of my days in front of said computer screen, I don't like to be a slave to it at home.  I rarely check e-mails (much to the detriment of long-distance friendships) and what little I do is accomplished via my ipad while waiting on Big Bang Theory reruns.  Alas - it's a glamorous life, but someone's gotta do it!

This school year has been particularly challenging in that I am NEVER alone.  I have students waiting on me when I arrive in the morning around 7:00 and from that point on, I am never alone.  Before the Christmas Holidays I counted all of my restroom trips for one week.  I was NEVER alone in the bathroom.  (This was a faculty restroom...not for public or student use.)  I ate with students staring at me and I began to feel like Sheldon, wondering who was breathing on my food.  By the time I get home, I'm exhausted.  Over stimulated.  Chaotic coma.  I decided to break free.

Sunday is to be a day of rest.  God designed it thus so in the Bible, but I've been known to add my own interpretative twist to "and on the seventh day He rested..."  Well, these days, rest involves nothing with buttons or pretty touch screens.  I thought by going wireless it would give my mind a chance to unwind and simply be. 

We slept a bit late Sunday morning, so after tea and a shower, it was off to church.  No devices needed.  After church it was lunch, dishes, and a few random chores.  So far, so good.  About 2:00 I began to itch.  I roamed from room to room making a mental list of things I just HAD to google THAT minute.  I NEEDED to know.  I ended up writing them down and haven't looked up a single one as of yet.

I read for a while.  Well, I read until I finished two unfinished books.  Then what?  It was only 3 and we didn't have to be anywhere until 5.  I dug out my stationary and wrote two old-fashioned letters - stamps and all.  It was quite rewarding, but at 4:00, I was back to square one.  I had to find another paper book to read because the Kindle was off-limits.  I couldn't look up the weather, so it was finding it interactively on my satellite...the horrors!

I finally made it through the night, although my husband pointed out how "short" and grouchy I'd been all day...and he was right.  My mind-calming activity was more stimulating than I'd thought.  But, practice will make perfect.  I hope to have a few projects lined up for this coming Sunday afternoon.  Preferrably a nap to go with that good book - and maybe even a Suduko puzzle - on paper!  I'm committed....or maybe I just need to be committed.  Stay tuned to find out!