Friday, March 31, 2006

Happy Hiking Feet, New Shoes !

Last week on our hike, it was evident we both needed new hiking boots. We keep going on rougher terrain and also on longer and longer hikes. What we were wearing, was not working for us. The feet need to be cared for and we also needed some good ankle support.
My whole life I have worn, "healthy shoes". And when our girls were born that was one of the many things we agreed on, not to mince on the money when it came to buying shoes for them. We often had to scrape together to buy them, but we did. We knew the search for the perfect hiking boot meant spending money, lots of it. Good shoes cost money. For days now I had been researching what would work the best for our hiking shoes. Needed to be waterproof, needed to have good support, good tread and the list went on and on.
Tonight we knew just what we wanted, when we walked through the store doors, but when we got there and tried them on, and did the little rocky hill test they have there, neither one of us liked the boots.

Soon, we had so many boxes open on the floor that I found myself apologizing to the shoe sales man over and over for having him get so many kinds for us to try on.
Well it ended up something like 3 pair for each of us, but that makes size rather large boxes on the floor.
Emery found the perfect pair, Columbia made the boot for him, and I tried them too, but nope, it wasn't a fit for me. I was starting to feel a bit like Cinderella's step sisters. Finally, as they were announcing over the intercom to "make your final purchase as the store closes in 15 minutes", the salesman brought out a pair of Merrels for me to try. They fit just like a glove. I was in love with them. Perfect for me. So nearly $230 later we were skipping out of the store with happy hiking feet. Tomorrow we will give them a try, provided the weather co-operates.

A Fun Meal


Today I had fun in the kitchen. For some reason I was in the mood for Planet burgers and some sort of salad.
My husband loves potatoes and we both seem to use up potassium quickly so we eat potassium rich foods pretty much daily. I fried up some purple potatoes for us too.
Ravi Shankar was the music of choice for my time in the kitchen. Windows open wide, doors too. Humidity hung in the air like a damp dish towel draped over this part of the earth. I wanted to have supper waiting when Emery came in the door so we could head off to the store to buy shoes. That story next !
The meal was yummy. I did a few things different, like adding turmeric to the rice while it was cooking. Turmeric is so good for you. We try to incorporate it in as many meals as possible. The potatoes were yummy, fried in a tiny bit of olive oil with some red onion. The Planet burgers, as always delicious. I did substitute pumpkin seeds for the sunflower seeds, simply because I was out of the sunflower seeds. We topped them with onions and fresh lettuce from the garden, along with mayo (not the real stuff) and ketchup
Here are the recipes I used tonight. Oh forgot to take a picture of the salad, and there wasn't much left after the meal ! We topped the meal off with a tiny serving of soy ice cream, mint chocolate chip.

PLANET BURGER

1/2 c Sunflower kernels

16 oz Garbanzo beans (canned) -- drained and mashed

3 c Cooked brown rice

1 md Onion -- chopped

1 md Carrots -- shredded

1/2 c Italian-style breadcrumbs
1/3 c Chopped fresh parsley

2 Eggs -- lightly beaten
1/4 c Soy sauce ( we use Braggs)

1 t Dried thyme

Vegetable oil -- for frying

8 sl French bread

Toast sunflower kernels on baking sheet at 350 degrees F. for 5 to 7 minutes until golden. Combine sunflower kernels, beans, rice, onion, carrot, breadcrumbs, parsley, eggs, soy sauce and thyme. Form into 8 rectangular patties. Pan-fry burgers in oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until thoroughly heated, about 4 minutes per side.
Serve on French bread with condiments. Makes 8 Large Patties Source: "Veg-able Rice"

Moroccan Carrot, Orange & Radish Salad

Yield: 6 servings

1 lb Carrots, peeled & shredded
2 tb Lemon juice

1 lg Onion, cut into bite-sized -- chunks
2 tb Orange juice
1 ds Orange-blossom water

3/4 c Radishes, thinly sliced
1 ds Cinnamon, Salt & pepper

1/2 c Cilantro, chopped

3 tb Olive oil
Pita wedges

Combine carrots, oranges, radishes & cilantro in a salad bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, juices, water, cinnamon, salt & pepper & pour over the salad. Cover & chill. Serve garnished with pita wedges


Summer Breeze

Its true its not summer, and hardly spring for some folks in the colder climates but here today, the temperature is a balmy 80, with just enough humidity to make my hair curl. I don't mind the hair part. I never have cared much about fixing my hair. I think I have had it done twice in my life. Once when I was 14 for my sisters wedding, I was a bridesmaid and then maybe I had it done for a banquet once at school. The rest of my life has been cut it myself of have it just cut at a beauty shop but not styled. For me, its fine just to brush it once a day or maybe twice if I am going someplace.
Oh yeah, back to the original subject here. Summer !
The curtains were blowing in the window, and it reminded me of a song. Summer Breeze by Seals and Croft. I like them. So I put on their CD and when "Summer Breeze" started to play, it was perfect. Just like my day. Emery will be home soon, music is playing from the house next door, there are plates set for two at the table. Brown rice, seasoned with turmeric and onions cooking in the steamer, Meadow tea freshly brewed. Me without a care in the word. I always feel like everything will work out. It does too. Somehow. Have been like that since I was a child.

I looked up the lyrics on line so I could share them with you. It is my day today. I don't have jasmine, but the locust tree is making a fine substitute with its wonderful fragrance being carried on the wind and filling the house with sweetness.

See the curtains hangin' in the window, in the evenin' on a Friday night.

A little light a-shinin' through the window, lets me know everything is alright.
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.

See the paper layin' in the sidewalk, a little music from the house next door.
So I walked on up to the doorstep, through the screen and across the floor.
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.

Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom. July is dressed up and playing her tune.
And I come home from a hard day's work, and you're waiting there, not a care in the world.
See the smile a-waitin' in the kitchen, food cookin' and the plates for two.
See the arms that reach out to hold me, in the evening when the day is through.
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.

Fun Fabric for Fun Quilts !
















This week I had fun buying some out of the ordinary prints for me. I am going to make a simple 9 patch with the poka dots, using black with them. The tie dye stuff will just be big blocks, maybe 8 inch and then I will quilt them with fun color thread, each block in a rather free form spiral.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Trying to Capture the Moment


Some days I am just not sure how you can capture a feeling, the smell, the way the air feels on your face, the way the earth feels on your hands as you work the soil, in a picture.
I kept looking around as I picked baby lettuce, flat leaf parsley, dill and baby spinach for a salad, hoping to see one thing that stuck out and showed my experience to you. So many things grabbed my eye, but not just one. I picked asparagus and red cabbage, and some mint. Still, it seemed impossible to catch the way the wind felt on my face and how soft the damp air felt. Or more how I feel today.
I made the rounds of the rose garden, the yellow rose is in full bloom but I showed you the bud the other day. I wondered, how could I show you the way the wind was playing with the trees, and how the pine trees reminded me of little brooms sweeping the air in the wind ? Or how the clouds have been racing across the sky, changing shape as they go, transforming into funny looking dogs or ghost shapes ?
And now in the house, the cabbage being pan fried, and smelling more sweet than like when you boil cabbage. A nice smell. And Sweet potato empanada's baking in the oven, another sweet smell. Couscous, spiced and waiting to be dished on the plate. I wish I could blog the good smells for you.
The house, quiet. Peaceful. Profoundly peaceful. The world passing by me so fast paced. I am living deliberately. Slowly. Simply. What picture could capture my going against the flow yet being so happy ?
Maybe today there should be no photo to accompany my post, naw, that is not like me. So I am sending an old photo, one from 26 years ago. It kinda shows me having an expression of how I feel today. Except I was pregnant in the picture ! We had made the hike into Bridal Veil Falls in New Hampshire and all of me felt so alive, so perfectly satisfied. That's just like life is for me, and since I don't do a very good job of taking my own picture I searched for this old one, that shows how I feel today with all the good things around me.All of me feels 25. I have that same kind of energy, the same or more enthusiasm. My apathy is dying so I feel idealistic again. So yes, this is just what today feels like. With all the wonderful sights, smells and sounds around me that delight my heart.

Off to do some fabric shopping now. This is for fabric to make some pants for hiking. Tie Dye mind you !

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Soaring


This Black Vulture was getting pretty close to me when I was out in the garden.

Tea Time Naturally !
















Raisin and Peanut Carob No-Bakes

1/4 cup butter, I use Earth Balance
1/2 cup honey ( we have used maple syrup in place of the honey)
3/4 cup carob chips (chocolate chips could be used in place of the carob)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter

measure out the following ingredients in a large bowl

2 cups oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup peanuts

melt butter in medium pan on medium heat
add honey and remove from the heat
add, carob chips, vanilla, and peanut butter. Mix well until it is well blended
add this mixture to oats, raisins and peanuts.

Spread in a 9x9 inch pan. Chill and cut into 1 1/2 inch squares.
We also add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chopped dates, extra carob chips, any kind of nuts and sometimes we use chopped up candied ginger too.
You really can add what you want. I put in some dried blueberries and cherries in this time and it was yummy.

One Happy Couple



Last night our son Steven took my husband and I out for Mexican food and it happened to be his first "date" with Pricilla. She is delightful. Very quiet which is pretty typical of Mennonite girls. We had a good time at the restaurant and then they came over to the house for the evening.
Steven had called me about 5 pm to suggest going out to eat around 6:30 and after coming over to the house. I had been busy working in the garden and not working in the house. So I made a quick sweep of the house. Did a bit of dusting, tidied the kitchen and bath and took the option to close the door to my sewing room !
Now I had to decide what to wear. Here's the tough part. I wanted to dress like the new me, but also wanted to dress so that Steven would be happy as this is the first time Pricilla has really met us. I didn't want to dress Mennonite just to please them, so I wore a long skirt, shirt and cotton knit jacket. No headcovering. It seemed pretty brave of me to not cave in and dress Mennonite for such a momentous occastion.
We had a delightful evening and we both like her so much. I believe she will be like another daughter to us in no time at all.

These pictures were taken of the two of them on a trip to Tennessee and Alabama this past week. Steven went with her and her family to a family wedding.
The other couple in the one picture is Pricilla's sister and the young man she is courting.
Its so much fun seeing all my children grown and joyfully in love

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Garden Goodness & A Bit About Fergus McSnow




Every day presents itself with some new beauty to capture in pictures. The lettuce beds freshly hoed, bee's and butterflies feasting on natures goodness. And yes, even Fergus McSnow, dirty from playing. He is quite the farm dog but has taken up the sport of soccer . To be honest, he prefers soccer to farm chores. He guards better than most humans and he pushes the ball across the yard with his nose and legs. He is faster than the speed of light. Its quite remarkable. We have a neighbor from Puerto Rico, a real soccer fan, who just stands at our fence line watching us play and interestingly, he cheers Fergus on and not his fellow human ! I figure at the rate Fergus is going, by the time he is a year old (he is now 6 months old) the soccer scouts will be knocking on our door wanting him to sign a contract. He is really a good little player. He recently learned to toss the ball in the air if he gets his nose just in the right place under the ball. Keeps me in good shape just running to keep up with him.

Just Before the Rain


















Rain is on the way, and its in the forecast for the entire week. I set out with my hoe in hand and set to work in the garden, loosening the soil, disrupting the growth of any and all pesky little weeds poking up from the ground. It was easy to be reminded of what a good work out it is to hoe. While I was busy at work, I watched in amazement two monarch butterflies fluttering about the collard greens that have set blooms. Bees were competing with them for the precious treats found in the blooms. I had to finish my work and go get the camera, so much to see and capture. Rosemary in bloom, the deepest blue I had ever seen on this plant. Lilacs scenting the air and how I wished I could sent the sweet scent of them along somehow with this blog entry.
Colors all around me. Rose buds teasing me with just a tiny bit of their beauty. Honey Locust beginning to bloom. A heavenly smell for sure. Everywhere I turned there was something to catch my eye and take me further on my stroll through our gardens. Fennel, bushy and fragrant. Yarrow almost ready to break forth in yellows and whites. I wonder where the paprika yarrow has wandered to. Ahhh, there it is, it has moved itself to the other side of the picket fence that surrounds the garden. One look at the sky and I know its time to head inside. That rumbling in the sky is getting louder .

Almond or Cashew Waffles

ALMOND or CASHEW WAFFLES

2/3 cup almonds or cashews (I use half and half)
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut (fine, like for macaroons)
4 dates, ( I use date sugar)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups water

whiz in a blender the first 6 ingredients in about half the water, then add remaining water. Bake in a hot waffle iron for 8-10 minutes. DO NOT PEAK, they fall apart before that and when you peek, it makes a mess.
Makes 4 Large waffles.
These freeze well. Just pop them in the toaster to reaheat.

Blogger.com was very temperamental for me yesterday. I tried a good 7 times to post this picture !

Monday, March 27, 2006

Time for Meadow Tea



Meadow tea is something Mennonites and Amish drink lots of.
When we were a part of the Mennonite community we learned to love it. This recipe has NO measurements The name is from going to the meadow and picking stuff to put in a tea.
Its made many ways but always involves going out to the mint patch and picking a few kinds of mint. I have lots of apple mint and a few other kinds growing. Including chocolate mint.
I pick a bunch of the mint, assorted mostly. Although Apple mint alone is everyone's favorite. I wash it good, set a big pot of water on to boil, add some sugar to the water, then add the washed mint and let it simmer for a bit.

(I know its ready when the whole house smells minty) I strain it all with my milk filter,
the one used for filtering our goat milk ! Pour it into a gallon glass jar, add some additional water to make it come to a gallon, pour over lots of ice. So refreshing. I can be made with honey in place of sugar, but my family likes the sugar best. Its so nice to have on a hot summer day or just any sort of day.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

This is It, the end of the state park pictures




We saw these beautiful creatures on the way home, not in the state park and they are no doubt being raised for trophy hunting. Ranchers raise them, release them to a large fenced area and hunters pay to hunt them. Makes me mad.

Some sort of creature waiting to hatch deep inside that silken web.

And a picture of a nice easy part of the trail today

More Dinosaur Valley State Park Pictures



More pictures from todays hike.

Dinosaur Valley State Park




We woke to a pretty spring day. Temperatures in the low 70's. Clear blue sky, light wind. Perfect day for our hike. We chose to head off to Dinosaur Valley State Park. You can view many dinosaur foot prints in the river bed there when the water level is not too high. The Paluxy River makes a perfect horseshoe shape through the park which makes for some pretty scenery. We chose to hike the rim, about 8 miles of it. It seemed it was all up hill with very little down hill, now of course that was just my perception of the hike, not reality, as there was still plenty of down hill. Its a moderate hike, with some good climbing to it. Certainly a work out.
We sat by the river when it was lunch time and ate to the sound of the water falling over the rocks. I waded a bit but the water was kinda chilly.
At the end we had to ford the river and that was down right cold and the rocks were slippery. As soon as we crossed the river and were sort of moaning at the prospect of hiking 2 miles of roadway to get back to our car, my husband saw a man he had worked with and the man offered us a ride in the back of his pick-up truck to our car. We heartily accepted the ride. Saved us 2 miles. The beauty of the hike was breathtaking. We also got to watch a special crew cleaning sand and mud that came from the last big rains away from some of the dinosaur prints .
I took about 90 pictures. It was just such a perfect hiking day. Can't wait to go back and do more of the trails. We used a new back pack today and it was good and comfortable, no rubbing at all. I am sure we will both sleep well tonight !

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Garden Goodness
















It seems as though Spring is back on the scene. It was a glorious day. Sunny and clear. Not hot, not cold.
A gentle breeze blowing . Perfect for gardening so I spent the afternoon planting flowers out front. Yellow gladiolas and some additional lavender plants.
The veggie garden is in full swing. Had fun picking asparagus, spinach and baby greens this morning while the dew was still on them. The tomatoes did well in the frosty temps but the new basil bit the dust.
Will replant tomorrow after our hiking trip.
Not sure where we will end up tomorrow but I am sure it will be a good vigorous hike. Packing a pretty typical picnic lunch for us. Actually if you ask my children they will tell you we have had the same hiking lunch for over 20 years ( I think we varied some though over time) Whole wheat tortillas spread with cashew butter and sprinkled liberally with thin banana slices and raisins and rolled up tight. Its good fuel when you are hiking and easy to eat. We usually have some mission figs and maybe some nuts along too.
Water to drink, an apple for a snack and we are set for a big part of the day.
My husband is out back turning the rich brown soil with a spade in one of the yet to be planted raised beds. He does the whole garden that way. Prefers the exercise to using a gas eating tiller.
The clothes are waiting to be pulled in off the line so time for me to race the sun and bring them in before the darkness arrives.

Thoughts On Living Simply

This morning on my usual walk around the land I thought a lot about living simply and what exactly that means. For many, it conjures up visions of washing clothes with a scrub board and tub, no electricity, not much in the line of technology and on and on. And some of that may be part of a simple life. But then "simplicity" takes on another meaning, lots of hard work and that doesn't seem so simple.
I remember knowing some older folks when I was a child who refused to accept the technology of the time. Electric windows in the car made them nervous, and later on when I was a teen, there were many who refused to use an electric type writer. I thought they were kind of crazy for now wanting to do things a bit easier, after all in my mind it made things much more simple. Its not the technology that makes our lives complicated and rushed, its how we allow them to take over us and rule us.
When we lived in Southern California, in a new big new house, tiny yard, surrounded by families where both parents worked and saw each other for a couple hours a day. Took the child to day care in its pajamas, brought them home after 5, fed them some fast food and put them to bed to start the whole cycle over again the next day. We lived where people had decorators "do their houses". New cars, excessive shopping, credit card debt beyond reason. We however, lived quite simply. Our little yard was not one of patio furniture and cutsie little landscaping highlighted by Malibu lights. It was a vegetable garden. Zucchini, corn, tomatoes, eggplants and grapes grew. Our children learned about the simplicity of growing your own food. Granted there was not much of it since the yard was the size of my living room, but enough that they got the idea. We bought our drapes from Sears Outlet. I was the decorator. We drove old cars and only my husband worked. Here were were in the middle of Yuppie-ville, living a simple life. We didn't live in a cabin in the mountains or on a sprawling farm. You see, living simple is a mindset, not land and animals.
I admit, we love living on our tiny little place here, having room for animals, fruit trees and a big garden, and from what we accomplish and what we have raised on this land people assume we have acres upon acres. I wrote an article once for Countryside magazine about living on less than an acre. Simplicity is not about where you live, its about HOW YOU LIVE.
If you are in a high tech area, living a fast paced life, stop and look at the things that are making you stressed. I guarantee its not the size of your back yard or lack of milking goats.
Its the running around, the spending beyond your means, the going after the golden egg and then when and if you find it, you still feel empty and beyond that you hear of a bigger and better golden egg that is just "to die for". Its never having down time, time to just sit and enjoy your family. The TV is blaring, the phones are ringing, the bills stacking up, no time to take a stroll with the person you love. Children more in love with the media toys we get them than family life. We loose them to another world and then wonder why they don't respect us. Are we respectable ? Do we put them first above the rush and drive that pushes us until we are so busy we make appointments to talk to our children. Are we strong enough to tell them "no" or do we just cave in with a simple uncomplicated, no fighting back YES answer since we are tired, exhausted from the life lived ?
Simplicity is all in the way we choose to live no matter where we are. Its a conscious choice to balance the technology in our lives with the things of real value. To chose to turn some of it off. Does the world cave in if, Sue down the street doesn't reach us on our cell phone to tell us that such and such store has a sale tomorrow ? Does the world cave in if the child has no X-Box or a computer in his room ? We would never think to allow our children to be under the influence of a stranger with as much hold as those two things have on our children.
I could make soap, spin wool, have a patio garden, use kerosene lamps, quilt, make my own clothes, bake bread, and cook from scratch no matter where I lived. As I have written before, simple living is a heart matter.
We have never lived the rich life, and its by choice. When we had a large income, it came with stress. So we left it. Went to the mountains of Oregon and left all the things of stress behind. One income was plenty to maintain our lifestyle. It still is. We are living on a income that is below the average middle class income.
We don't need more and its a fact that the more you make the more you spend.
Don't just dream about a simple life if thats what you want, just make the choice to live it, no matter where your home is.

picture is of my daughter Melissa thinking about her new life in Vermont as she looks at the landscape



Friday, March 24, 2006

On Being Different

Our daughter Melanie, the painter of this picture is diabetic. She has been diabetic since she was 7. We nearly lost her. Its a struggle for a kid to be different. To not be able to go to Dairy Queen and get a big sundae or take a candy cane off the tree at christmas and enjoy it. Its hard to take out a syringe 4 times a day and give yourself a shot in front of people, who wonder and watch.
She painted this picture about what it feels like to be different. On the outside. Standing at the end. looking another direction from everyone else. Having dreams die because you have to think about health insurance and buying medication. She can't be some wandering artist, painting all over the globe.
Although this painting is another one that is a difficult subject and not easy on the eyes. It tells a story. One many people live for a multitude of reasons. There is hope in this picture too. Bright red is the color of the different one, eye catching, exciting color. Bold and the face is looking at you, not away.
There is a future.

Lace Covered Land

I woke to land covered in lace, spread with care by Jack Frost. The sun, appeared to dance on the lace as the it shone through the young leaves of the cottonwood tree. It was so beautiful that I stood there in silence and didn't even run for my camera. Indeed it was that captivating.
What gifts nature gives us. Last night I remember being rather ticked off that it was going to be so cold. It was 29 when I went to bed. That's not really that cold of itself but after recently having days when it was so hot out that I rolled up my yoga pants so they became short and basked in the golden rays of the sun and walked in the cool water of the lake. The contrast from one week to another has been a bit drastic. But, when I looked out the back door this morning and saw the land spread with this pure white lace, I forgot about being ticked off at the cold temperatures and was thankful for it.
Again, a lesson for me. There are often blessings that come to us when we are looking at them on the way and judging them as not so good. Only to find when they arrive that they are more than we could have dreamed. Perhaps the phone rings and someone says they are coming over. In panic we tidy up, dust the piano with our hand and straighten the pillows on the sofa. Put the kettle on for tea and wrack our brains for a suitable treat to accompany the tea. We feel a bit agitated that they are coming over on such short notice. When they arrive they are like beautiful lace to us, gracing us with fine humor and good conversation. The day so much better now that they have visited. Sharing with us gems of wisdom that will last forever.
The sun has come out now, the temperature gone up so that the Lace has melted away, gone into the soil and nourished it. In my mind, sorted away is a memory of this magnificent morning. Lace made of frost.


I didn't take a picture this morning so I have used a photo taken in the winter when a light dusting of snow fell. Similar but not with the sun kissing it through new cotton wood leaves.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What Does $150 worth of Whole Food look like

My husband and I did our food shopping tonight at Whole Foods. Love that store. Its not real close to us so we ususally go a couple times a month and pick other stuff up locally. Whole Foods has so many good things. We always get a snack and eat it in the little eating area. Came home with 4 bags full of food. Most of what we got is organic. Lots of nuts, beans, grains and some purple potatoes and garnet yams. Also got things like tortillas, honey, maple syrup, cashew butter, tofu and some frozen fruits for smoothies. Oh we did get some incense as I was just about out of them.
But eating healthy is not cheap. Glad we have a big garden !
It sure doesn't look like much for $150 but there are lots of meals in there just waiting to be made.

A Moment in Time


There were snow flurries last night. Winter was not yet ready to part so she stood at our door, waving her cold winds towards us, powdering us with her white snow for just a few moments in time. It reminded me of the guest who is reluctant to leave.
This morning the air was frigid by comparison to what we have been feeling. I drew my shawl tight. The woodstove tenderly brought back to life by my husband before he went to work. A kind and loving gesture for his "girls" that were still sound asleep. We woke to a warm fire, but chores needed to be done in the cold.
When all was done outside and a bit of playing with Fergus complete, I headed inside. The smell of mesquite wood burning, the warmth of the house growing more intense as I walked towards the living room. The kitchen still chilly.
Sitting on the little stool by the woodstove sat Melanie, dressed in cozy flannel p.j's with Hello Kitty all over them.
She had just put on another log, this one a bit long so the door needed to stay open for a few minutes so that the wood would not touch the window of the stove. I sat cross legged on the floor next to her. Nothing was said, just a silent moment of togetherness, mother and daughter. She and I took our turns poking the big log trying to get it to fit. Softly laughing when each attempt failed. My arm slipped around her back, a mothers touch. Heads leaned in to one another. No words, just a silent moment of togetherness by the warmth of the stove. Now, incense burning, soft music playing, the door of the stove closed as the end of the log burned off. The stool empty. The moment captured now in our memories, held there to be cherished as an ordinary moment with extraordinary feelings of mother daughter love.
What more could I ask for... another daughter home, sitting on the other side of me, that's what more I could ask for. I made a video clip of the fire burning, and sent it to Melissa in Vermont. She can sit with me in cyber space, enjoying the fire on this cold spring morning. A silent moment of togetherness, mother and daughter.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Time for Bird Nests



Watching birds is a true joy for me but its even more exciting when I find a birds nest and am able to photograph the nest over a period of days or weeks.
These pictures are from last year. These babies are cardinals and the nest was just about the height of my eyes so it was easy to take the pictures.
These pictures serve as a reminder to me that nest building is going on now for many of the birds in my area. My husband said he watched for some time this past week, little wrens gathering up material to build a nest. Wrens will build nests in some rather funny spots, like one year they chose my clothespin bag. What a shock when I reached my hand in there and felt all twigs and grass ! Next I will show you the wren nest from last year in our Yucca.

A True Morning Ramble


Its 4:45 am and here I sit at the computer. Early morning is so peaceful. The darkness never seems so dark at this time of the day, I suppose since dawn is around the corner, it seems lighter even though it isn't. That is how our minds work.
The moon is right outside my window. Looks like a glowing orange slice. It seems perfectly cut in half. New leaves on the red oak tree swinging in front of the moons glow. Reminds me of hands held high at a concert, swaying.
My whole life I have been a deep thinker. Even as a child, I had so many questions about life.
I wake up each and every morning with one thing on my mind, besides getting socks on my feet so they don't freeze, and that is "what can I do today to make this day better for someone else? " Sounds rather ultraistic but it really is my thought upon waking.
I can't imagine we are here on earth to just exist for ourselves or even just our immediate families, or to just work and make money or stay home and spend money for that matter. There has to be a higher calling.
I remember reading in one of the Dalai Lama's books about the practice of looking at other people and their lives in a "trading spaces" concept. Imagine yourself in their life, living what they lived, having to deal what they deal with. Most of the time, we can clearly see why they act the way they do and then instead of getting ticked off by their behaviors, we can understand and have a bit of sympathy. At least more tolerance for their actions.
It makes it easier to step outside our comfort zone when we can have more understanding about our fellow man.
I am not trying to sound like I have all the answers. I don't. The only thing I have is a deep desire to live beyond myself. And a hope that others will try to also.
The one thing that appeals so much to people about Amish and Mennonite folks is their sense of community. No one is ever alone. Help is always right there. I miss that to be honest the most about not being part of the community. But we are slowly working on building a sense of community with people we know . A generation ago, there was extended families. Now we are all scattered. No Aunts to call on, no cousins to socialize with daily. No grandmothers in your homes. I had that as a child and miss it so much. My husband and I made the comment that we need to build a commune ! Each person having their own home, but having a communal garden, sharing knowledge and crafts, pot lucks, help ethic type group.
This is surely a ramble this morning. Jumping here and there, random thoughts being tossed on cyber paper as though they were confetti.
When it comes down to it, to sum it all up... reach out, extend yourself in person to someone. Look at others with compassion. Don't hold grudges. Seek understanding and build a network that gives you a sense of community. Maybe church, maybe some group, and always family !
The sun is coming up over the eastern horizon so its time for me to get to work. Life is good.


woodstove warming up the house. It feels like winter again.
hot Pero in a mug, ready to warm my hands
sweet potato pancakes for breakfast
Soft music in the background
love all around me
Birds singing and some feeding at the feeders
wool socks on my feet, my husbands warm sweater on, it smells like his cologne

me in the picture, thinking

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

GREAT NEWS !


Oh what wonderful news we just got ! Steven has received permission from Pricilla's father to begin courting. Steven called Pricilla right away and asked if she wanted to begin "dating" and we all knew long ago what the answer would be, but still Steven took a deep breath and called her. She said "YES". So they are officially courting. I suspect a wedding within a years time. We are so happy for Steven and Pricilla. She is a lovely girl. Serious minded, hard working, sweet natured and very kind. We have know her extended family for many years. In two years time I suspect we will be grandparents. Not that I am anxious or anything ! Steven will be 22 this fall, a good age to marry and has just bought a home on 10 acres from a brother in the church. His new job will maintain a family nicely so its all working out so well for him.
Its been a banner day all around. My mother in law inherited some money and is giving it away to her children. We are getting money for lumber to build on a back porch. One son got a car and the other son is getting money to pay off his debts.

In the pictures.... Pricilla holding her cousins baby and Steven in what will be his new office.

Monday, March 20, 2006

March Winds !

Just had to share one more picture today. We had high winds all afternoon and the clothes on the line were really dancing. Needless to say they dried quikcly and I was able to get several loads of laundry done. They smell so fresh and clean. I used my home made laundry soap. Not a mix of things you buy in the store, but my own lye soap, grated up fine. Mint scented !

Now the wind is cold and we have the woodstove going. Frost by tomorrow night !

My Step Mother

My step mother Milly broke her hip a couple weeks ago. She is a pretty remarkable woman. 87 years old and quite spry. Still golfs and can sit cross legged on the floor and hop up like it was nothing. At the beginning of this weekend she was rushed to ICU with an infection. The infection has damaged her liver and colon, but she is making good progress and is out of ICU today. I may head to Florida to help them out when she comes out of the hospital.
If you think of it, say a little prayer for my dad and Milly.
I am organizing a card shower for her and having people send cards to her. It will cheer her up so much.
Just wanted to share about this neat lady !

this picture of Milly was taken just a little over a year ago at my daughters wedding. I say she looks pretty good !

The Porch Rocking Chair

My dear husband comes home for lunch every day. Its such a delight to see him come through the door. Just like getting a special gift each noon.
Today the sun was out, the air was warm, the wind is blowing and it was the perfect time for a bit of sitting out on the porch before he headed back to work.
I just had to snap a picture since he looked just so comfortable and relaxed. Life sure is good