Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Only 9 Days this Month Without Rain

No picture for this post, just a sad story. We had a tiny bit of blue sky this morning so I ran out to RE-hang the clothes that were brought in the house wet last night. I was so hopeful about getting these things dry. A load of whites and a load of towels, the stuff you need daily.
I get done, walk in the house to see a special weather notice on the TV. Severe thunderstorms heading right for us, should arrive within minutes. I run out and grab some of the more important whites, figuring I will hang them up in the house. By the time I took down the last piece I was planning on drying in the house, the heavens opened and torrential rain began to fall. I just stood in the back hall, looking out the screen door, watching two lines of clothes get drenched, AGAIN.
Maybe tomorrow they will dry, maybe...
Simple living isn't always so easy.

Goodwill Shopping for this week

This week at Goodwill I hit the jackpot. I love old editions of Ideals Magazines and there on the shelf of the store was a huge stack of them from 1960 and 1961, .50 cents each. I bought all 14 issues. I just love the poems and the pictures. Good home grown sort of stuff in them. Poems that relate to the simple way of living. In the past I have purchased some off of e-bay but had to pay lots more than 50 cents, especially with shipping charges.

Then there was this tea pot, I know, I know, I don't NEED another tea pot, well actually I am a bit low on the blue and white color scheme so...anyway it was only $4. Needed more baskets for a couple things around the house and they were very cheep, under $1.

I am ever so grateful for a wonderful thrift store close by. I do tell myself on the drive there, "remember, want and NEED are not the same things ". Sometimes this little lecture helps and sometimes it doesn't. Reading material is almost always a NEED ! Oh yes, almost forgot, found a neat little book from the early 1960's Kitchen Window, its great little Christian stories about life in a much simplier time that might have been shared around the kitchen table.

Plum Picking Time

The plum tree is overflowing with fruit. These are the smaller plums used to make prunes. But oh they are so sweet off the tree, you just have to eat about 6 to get your fill. Melanie and I went out picking plums just before another storm arrived yesterday. We saw the wind cloud and knew we had better get as many picked as possible in a short time. That wind would knock them all off the tree and since they are so ripe, most would explode when they hit the ground. I will be drying them today, making a slit in the fruit, pulling out the pit and then putting them in the dehydrator. We have all been snacking on them too. They are so juicy and sweet. All our fruits and veggies are grown organically, so we feel comfortable just picking them and eating them.
Its raining again today so no chance to dig potatoes this morning. The garden has take a back seat to a certain little baby, which means weeds are numerous. No pictures this spring, I would be embarrassed to show off the weeds, and the eposote has about taken over. I love using in when cooking beans as it works like Beano, but its spreading like wildfire all over the garden. I have enough for the entire towns use ! This weekend we hope to pull up a bunch of it.
We hung out the clothes late yesterday afternoon and had high hopes that they would dry some in the early evening and then finish drying in the morning....but I awoke to the rumbles of thunder. I ran outside, three lines full of clothes still damp needed to be brought in before the rains came. It was pouring as I walked through the back door into the house. I can only hope for a bit of sun sometime today and re-hang all three lines. Its a good workout, no need to go to the gym for an aerobics class. All that up and down motion and the lugging the heavy baskets outside once again is a weight lifting workout.
In the olden days ladies didn't need to go for a workout, their days were filled with exercise.
My arm muscles are strong from kneading bread and when we were milking goats the girls and I could arm wrestle the boys and lay their arms right down.
Yesterday picking the plums was another good workout.
Here is my simple solution for getting the exercise you need... grow your own food, hang your clothes and make your own bread, (without a bread machine that is) milk some cows or goats, and walk.

The last storm had sent so much fruit to the ground, which quickly rotted due to the wet ground
Still plenty left on the tree
Melanie enjoying a juicy plum
pluns picked and ready to dehydrate
Plum Preserves made today.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Stroll Around the Garden

The rain stopped long enough today for me to take the camera on walk with me. The red cabbage is ready to pick, mullein is setting blooms, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, shallots, and broccoli are ready to be picked also. The caterpillars have really taken over the fennel, so not sure there will be any left for us humans.
The ground is so soft that weeding is simply a delight. One slight tug on a weed and up it comes, roots and all. With all the rain, the weeds are growing just as fast and are just as lush as any of the things we planted. Tonight the rain stopped with great hopes that it will stay away long enough for me to get a few loads of wash dried. I am a bit tired of having clothes drying here and there in the house. Even on the drying racks in the house, they take forever to dry since its so humid out.

A red red rose
Soapwort in bloom

Trumpet vine in bloom


Red cabbage

Baby in a Basket

Mei-Ling all cozy and happy in a basket right next to my knitting basket by my rocking chair of course. Babies are such fun ! Needless to say, not much knitting is getting done with such a sweet one here all day.
The basket she is in, was another wonderful find at our Goodwill Thrift store. Pretty costy compared to some other finds, it was a whopping $5.
When Mei-Ling has outgrown the basket, it will certainly hold a lot of wool !

Sometimes I Just Have to Laugh At Myself

They say its a woman's prerogative to change her mind, and that saying is true for me. I can change my mind. I can feel one way one day and another the next, provided its not really life changing stuff : ) Some woman change clothing style, the way they cook, the music they listen to, or even how they dot their i's.. remember when you are in high school and dot your i's with a tiny heart ? I made tiny circles too for a while over each i. Modern times seem to encourage this changability in us. Our imaginations are wide open to so many things. Technology bombards us with options and choices. Throughout my life I have learned its just important not to make big changes when in the mood to change !

There are some days I wake up just wanting to head off in a new direction, explore the modern side of life, explore new concepts or maybe just sit in my rocker for a couple hours and just think about the old ways, wishing I was living in Nova Scotia in the tiny town of Noel where my grandmother was born and imagine how my great grandmother lived, and her mother too. Seeing life through their eyes. I love that place and see naturally only envision the romantic side of life along the shore, complete with clipper ships and fishing boats. At those moments I want to go back to the old way of life and get lost in a time that no longer exists.
My dear husband just smiles when I get in these moods. He is a patient man. Knows that my core values are solid and unchangable.

There is so much of life to explore, to look into, to discover, but as usual, I find my way back to where I started from. I wonder sometimes if that isn't why so many women shop so much, feeding their changing outlook, interests and yes, our minds. We need new things to suit the mood we are in. Then because we most often find our way back to where we started from interest wise, we have fabric stashes full of fabric we wonder "what was I thinking when I bought that fabric? " or pull out something from the back of the closet wondering if we had a moment of temporary insanity when we bought that item of clothing. One thing Emery had learned through time, do not shop for furniture or other big items when the winds of change are blowing through my gray matter !

Yesterday I saw this really modern kitchen table and chairs, white table, white chairs with powder blue upholstered seats, very pretty, but nothing like what I usually like. I suggested to Emery we buy it and he just sorta smiled that smile that says, "this too shall pass". Love that man for always being the same, like my own personal ground wire.

I blame it all on hormones, all this changing of the mind thing. I am rather sure its hormones : )

Of course this morning I woke up loving my old fashioned life, and thinking to myself....yeah I am sorta stuck in the past in a lot of ways, but that's o.k. Its who I am. When I was just a kid I loved visiting historical homes from the 1600 and 1700's. Loved the way the wooden items seemed so warm and somehow full of tales to tell.

Now admittedly, I have had some stirrings of wanting to step into the modern world lately and I suspect that is where this mood of change came into being. We are after all getting DSL and its rained for a week with 4 more days of rain in the forecast, which has made me say more than once, " I want a clothes dryer " The laundry is piling up in the back hall. No weather for hanging clothes outside and I hate to have lines strung across the living room, but it may come to that. So these rumblings of change have some logic to them. We did do something very modern this past week, we finally got call waiting and caller ID for the phone. My children are thrilled about the call waiting part. I am not so sure I am. Being interrupted by this little beep so you can say to the person you are talking to..."wait, that might be an important call". Well, the person you are talking to is no doubt wondering, "I am just chicken soup and this new call is more important than me ?" Same as that cell phone thing that annoys me to no end. You see people out to a restaurant with friends, they get a cell phone call and the other person just sits there, trying to look uninterested in what their friend is talking about on the cell, and then you start to wonder as the call goes on and on, why on earth is that person there when the friend is so busy and involved on the phone. How terribly rude !

Divided attention. The mother next door to us is always on the phone when she is outside with the children. They ask mom something or ask her to play and she is talking away on the phone with little connection to her own children. Sad.

So the old stuff around the house stays put. I will savor the moments of being transported back in time when I read my old books. Perhaps yes, I have donned some rose colored glasses about the old days, but then, maybe not in some areas. We have lost something in these busy times, the value of time with loved ones, the value of simplicity, and the connection to making things from scratch and planting seeds in the ground, tending them, harvesting them and preparing the goodness from the earth into a meal. We get so caught up in the instant gratification thing that we forget to see the magnificence of creation or be silent long enough to hear that small still voice. Yup, that's the thing about living less modern, its an attitude along with a very deliberate way of taking each step.

The rain has stopped for a while now, so I am heading outside to pick some plums off the tree to eat right on the spot, and let the juice run down my chin and laugh at this child like delight. I might pick a basket or two to dry and turn into prunes.

Today I am back to thinking old fashioned is best peppered with the modern, like the computer and DSL and remain happy with where I am in life. Never making how we live some form of escapism from where we are in life.

My great grandmother Harriet Amelia Densmore Hines born 1846 died 1934 mother to 9 children, she is standing outside the family home, that is still in the family ! I had the pleasure of staying in that house and family history felt alive there for me.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Take Care of Yourself and Those You Love

Treat yourself well. Take a long leisurely bath, candles lit, soft music. Caring for yourself is important, it rejuvenates the soul. It helps us gain focus.
Its no secret that when you are refreshed you find it easier to face difficulties and to have more patience. Its not selfish to take some time for yourself, its wisdom. Its a bit like recharging your batteries.
Even when my children were young, I took long soaking baths, complete with candles and a glass of wine or sometimes it was just plain iced water in a pretty plastic goblet.
Everyone knew it was my time and although there was no "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door, the family knew this was time to leave mom alone. Dad was always handy at these times anyway, he could handle all the needs they had. If you are a single parent, wait till the children are asleep and take some well deserved time for yourself. Think positive thoughts, breath deeply and deliberately. Make the bath smell special, and I loved lots of bubbles.
When you feel good about yourself, your children will feel good about themselves too. The old saying, "we tend to become like that which we love" is true for children too.
We forget to take care of ourselves and our relationships.
And if you are married, remember to care for your marriage in a special way too. Write love notes to one another. Stick a note on his pillow, in his lunch or in a pocket of the clothes he will wear that day.
On difficult days, when you might feel frazzled, remember why you first fell in love. Go over memories of your dating days.
And always remember to date, no matter how many decades you have been married or even if its been just a year. Perhaps you have small children at home or no money for going out to eat. You can work within that, we did.
Plan a special meal for just the two of you. I had a friend who would pack a special basket with sparkling apple juice, cheese and crackers, special napkins, love note, candles etc and have it at the front door when her husband came home from work. Letting him know it was going to be date night. Their children were small, she fed the children early, the parents would play with the children until they were ready for bed, then they would enjoy their special meal when little sleepy heads were sound asleep. Having the basket at the door for her husband to see as he came in the house, let him know it was going to be date night, and they would both smile just thinking about a special meal time together.
It didn't cost much and it could have been peanut butter sandwiches if that was what they had, it was the idea of something special for just the two of them, something out of the ordinary.
Keeping love fresh and alive takes some thought at times. Life can be so busy that it all becomes hum drum. Walk together holding hands, gaze into one another's eyes and think about all the things you love about one another. Now that we have no children at home, we go out to eat at sidewalk cafe's and quiet little restaurants, they are not expensive but cozy and romantic. Sometimes we will just pack a picnic of a baguette, cheese and some wine and spread a cloth in our own yard. Love needs to be nurtured, the love we feel for ourselves, the love we feel for our spouse. Our children need nurturing to mature into healthy adults. All relationships need nurturing,
but we tend to forget that for ourselves and our soul mates.

Sunday Afternoon Drive

The weather wasn't right for hiking today. It kept raining on and off and with as many flash flood warnings that are going on, we thought it best to just head off in the car and not on foot.
Rivers and creeks can rise awfully fast in these conditions, making some trails unsafe to hike.
I took some pictures of the local fields to share with you. Lots of wheat nearly ready to harvest and in some areas the corn is already tasseled.
In our area, cotton and soy beans are grown also. Hay crops have been great this year, after several years of nearly no hay crop due to the drought, the farmers are pretty happy about all the rain this year.
I love how you can see for miles and miles. Growing up with mountains all around me, I never knew the beauty of openness, but now when I go home to where I grew up, it almost feels claustrophobic to me. I love seeing the sky touch the land. I love watching clouds that go on for miles and miles. Feeling the wind off the prairie on hot summer days. I don't think I could ever live in a congested or mountain area again.
Enjoy the pictures !

Hill County Court House

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Goodies From Hong Kong Market

Melanie and Casi brought me all my favorite things from Hong Kong Market and from Hong Kong Bakery. Mung bean cakes, Phoenix rolls, coconut cream buns (filled with whipped cream)
Incense and money to burn !

Mei-Ling is A Month Old Tomorrow !

This little one is growing fast and changing daily. We actually see her awake more often ! She is now to the point where she should have been born as Melanies due date was the 24th of this month. Mei-Ling is following voices, and watching everything going on around her.
What joy this child gives us.
I find myself just watching her by the hour. Each aspect of her little life, a miracle.

She is a smartie though, she now knows that a bit of a whimper brings Grammie running to her side, picking her up for a cuddle.

Rainy Saturday

Rain fell steadily through the night, starting off soothing, comforting, then at times it was torrential, monsoon like. In the past two days we have had 4 inches of rain fall at our place. The ground is soggy and in places your wellies stick in the mud with that suction cup sound, known all too well by farmers with mud on their place.

In front of our house there was a small river running alongside the road. I am thankful we are on the top of a hill. The water always runs away from us.

There have been moments without rain today, tiny glimpses of blue peeking through the heavy gray clouds. Rain is needed in these parts, we try not to complain about it, but the forecast shows rain for the next 5 days.

The rain creates such beauty and yes, it can create destruction, but today on the flowers were droplets of water, tiny mirrors, and on some blooms the water sat like a fat balloon on the top of the flower.

The grapes on our vines are swelling with goodness with all this rain right now. It seems they grow bigger by the hour.

I took a drive into town to do a bit of shopping and stopped to snap some photos of the road that runs next to the police station. The road is called Buffalo Creek and I suspect you can figure out why when you see the picture. The entire road becomes part of a rushing creek in heavy rain.

Perhaps tomorrow Emery and I can do some hiking and check out our favorite creeks. I have missed taking our long adventuresome hikes. Hours on the trail, listening, and being on the lookout for the wonders of nature. The fresh air, the testing of your physical strength and the satisfaction of accomplishing something a difficult. Not to mention the health benefits and the time to talk with almost no interruptions.

There is something almost magical about fast running water, viewed from safety that is. The power of swift water is thrilling to me, even though it brings to mind some white water rafting I would rather forget. The White River that runs along the New Hampshire Vermont line is not a gentle river in the spring !

I am baby sitting this afternoon while Melanie and Casi food shop at the Hong Kong Market. I sent them off with a list of things I needed too. They were also planning on having lunch at Pho 95, a favorite restaurant of ours. If you have never tried Pho, give it a try, its yummy.

I will soon have DSL which will make my life much easier, dial up has tested my patience on more than one occasion. We are stepping into the modern age, slowly yes, but we are advancing. Always keeping real and in touch with the simple ways we have chosen for our life. Never loosing our focus on the things we know keep our life less stressed.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Goodwill Shopping

Yesterday I found the best bargains at our Goodwill Store. A Laura Ashley Full size comforter for $5 and its like new. Its perfect for my pink and white guest room.

I also found a knitted baby afghan in pink and white, a gorgeous pink crochet baby afghan that is amazing. Lots of crochet lacy edging that is so girlie. Beautiful bibs for Mei-Ling and a soft polar fleece blanket. I also found two darling outfits for Mei-Ling but they were in the washer when I was taking pictures. Each afghan was only $2 and the bibs were well under $1.

Thrift store shopping is such fun and a real blessing. Its just the best place to buy things for a fast growing grand-daughter ! Now I want to find a Silver Cross doll pram there, preferably the pink one : )

Living in The Time I Was Born

In the past week, I have come to a realization. For many years, too many to count I have said things like, " I am just a dinosaur " " I was born a century too late" " I just don't seem to fit in modern times" etc etc. I loved the things of old, wishing I could just step back in time. I suspect that is why I learned to do so many things the old fashioned way. Spinning wool, candle making, soap making, cooking on the wood stove, and more. In a light bulb moment I saw that this desire to be in another time, be in another place in history, I was saying, that I was discontent in being who I was now, and not real grateful for where I was placed in this life. One might say, its a bit like saying to God, well I think you made a mistake in putting me here and now, so I am going to try and be what I want as much as I can.

I wonder now, if I had worked so hard on keeping the things I cherish about the old day, which are probably all seen with rose colored glasses, but if my time and energy had been spent on living within the present time facing life with the morals and the ethics I thought were only found in the olden days, I may have actually enjoyed where I am in time just a bit more.

Perhaps this wishing to live in another era is a bit of an escapism. That I am not sure about, but I do know that having so many things around me that are not from this time period, no longer gives me joy. It feels like trying to carry the past on my shoulders.
This is a bit hard to explain, but one thing I do know, my children would have liked it much better had they not lived in such an antiquated lifestyle !

So here I am, ready now to embrace where I am right now, embrace where God put me, not questioning the bigger picture.

In doing this, I can also move on so many of the things needed to live in the past. Its a good feeling, freeing.

Loving Life

If any of you watched Oprah today, Martha Beck was on, one of my favorite writers by the way. Her book, The Joy Diet is a must for everyone to read.
Martha Beck mentioned two things today that were simply profound.
Imagine a loved one, your child, a spouse, a family member, sick in bed and you sneak in to look at them sleeping in the night, hoping they are feeling better, so glad they are sleeping peacefully, now imagine that experience, but the person in the bed is you. You are giving all that compassion and love to yourself. We all need to love ourselves with that same level of compassion.
She also said something about how to raise happy children, I am paraphrasing here of course, but the essence of what she said is...if you want your children to love themselves, to love life, to be happy, then you the mother must love life.
A lesson for me to be sure, to love myself more. The loving life part, well that I do. No work there for me to do.

A Picture Says It All

Sometimes a picture just says it all. Its a lazy day around here, even the cat is lounging. Its gray and rainy. Perfect day for a good book, a cup of tea and maybe even a good day for watching one of my favorite movies, "The Secret of Roan Inish." Watching that movie means the tea has to be Barrys Gold !

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Personal Peace

Personal peace is a rare thing today. People don't take time to find inner peace for the most part. Silent meditation, prayer are hastily done or not done at all. We have learned to get in the hamster wheel of our thoughts and run over and over the negative ones. We dwell on the things we don't like, forgetting that each moment lived is gone the second it happens. Reliving the events of the past does nothing for our peace of mind. We should learn from our mistakes or the things that we go through and then move on.
True peace of mind is something no one can steal from you, you can only give it away to someone who is wanting to take it from you. Your thoughts are always yours.
Positive thoughts can be lived over and over in the mind without harming us it seems.
Positive thoughts are so much more powerful than the negative thoughts we have. Positive people have better health generally. Positive people are so much nicer to be around too. We all know the Chicken Little "the sky is falling" type and they are not one you are anxious to spend the day with or hear on the other end of the phone. I do believe the law of attraction, positive thinking brings positive things into our lives and the same for the negative. We think bad things are going to take place and they do usually. I know some real Drama Queens who have one bad thing after another happen as they are expecting them to happen.

Positive thinking is something that births peace within us.
When ever things get a bit hectic in my life, I have to recharge my peaceful "batteries" and head on outside to the quiet of nature, where things are in order, things are as they are. There is no peace in a shopping mall or in some fancy restaurant, those moment of bliss or whatever they are quickly gone. Food goes through the digestive system and the things we buy become "not new" after a while and loose the amount of happiness they bring. The new shoes get old and the new furniture becomes just ordinary in time. The new dress is seen by everyone and looses the ability to get praise from others. After a time wearing it, it doesn't make us feel fantastic so we need to shop again and the cycle continues. But if we have personal peace, what we wear is not the thing we need in order to feel good about ourselves.
But finding that contentment, that personal sense of peace, that is a worthwhile pursuit.
Learning to be content has much to do with that. Always wanting, always chasing one thing after another is exhausting and there is always more to want. Its like having a tape worm, you never feel satisfied. Until you are at peace with yourself, the who you are, you will be looking for ways to "show" you are something by what you own, by what you do for hobbies, by where you eat out, by what you wear.
Personal peace has to do with inner growth of the true you. Learning to value the kind of things you take with everywhere you go without even a bag in your hand. Knowing you are compassionate to every living thing. I have not arrived at this, so don't think I am writing this with the attitude that I have arrived. I am far from it, but I do have personal peace most of the time, simply because I am on the journey to discover it. I have long since given up all the "need to impress" or the "need to hide" and "stuff and things" don't call to me. I take time each and every day to sit in silence. It was so hard to do at first. Sitting with no music playing, sitting without letting my mind go round and round with this or that thought. Sitting in peace, praying or with NO thoughts. Not allowing myself to be distracted. Sitting and thinking about how the car I drive or the house I live in is just stuff. But peace of mind, being not burdened by ownership of things, is something I can take with me where ever I go, under all circumstances. Its never really about the clothes we wear or the way we do our hair when all is said and done. Its about how we live our lives now, today, this minute. With personal peace in the heart, we are free to give of ourselves, and that is what we are here for. To love one another, to not judge anyone and to walk in peace at all times. Its so easy to just impress others with taking them out to eat or buying them things but after a time people just see you as a meal ticket or someone to ask for things. How much better to have clear minds to see another's needs and met them the way we can. Be it listening to them, helping in the way they really need to be helped, which may be taking them out to eat or something but doing that for the right reasons and not doing it to try and elevate yourself. Seeking personal peace is a journey of joy and realization of what really matters in life. It is what will matter even more after life is over if you are seeking enterance into the pearly gates or even if you believe in reincarnation !
I suspect there are many roads to finding peace but not one of those roads includes fear or guilt as travelling companions.

Culture Differences and Keeping Secrets, I Made a Mistake

Ever make a mistake without any idea you were even making one ? Well, I did recently and its made me feel sick just thinking about it. Evidently its the custom of some plain people to keep many aspects of pregnancy secret, maybe because of some fear, maybe its superstation, to be honest I don't know what the reason is in this case. The name of an expected baby is a secret I have now learned. I feel so bad and have apologized to Steven and now ask that you just forget what you read regarding the name of the baby.
I was not told that the name chosen for Stevens baby was a secret so shared it all with my blog readers and my family. If I had known it was a secret or even guessed that it COULD or SHOULD be a secret I would have never shared the information.
So, forget that you know the babies name : )
I am such an open book person, what you see is what you get and what I think can be shared. Secrets seem so archaic to me in regards to child bearing especially.
Secrets in general often just become gossip where openness gives folks the opportunity to share joy, sorrow, pain or happiness without whispers or sentences that begin with. "did you hear about".
Privacy is something I understand, if its stated and obvious. This instance just hit me blindsided. So, if you don't hear much about one of my children and what's happening in his life, don't think its because he is not equal in my eyes. Its just because he lives in a culture not like my own and I never want to tread on anyone's toes. My personality is certainly not one to be silent : ) So I will have to make a real effort here.
The "plain" world is not my world and there are so many aspects of it that I do not understand.
Rather than offend in my ignorance of understanding their culture, I will just keep silent. I often get email asking about my son and his lifestyle but since I don't know all the rules and customs (they vary greatly from community to community) its best if I just keep their life private and show respect their way of life .

A Quick Post

Its food shopping day so I am kinda short on time this afternoon for posting. For now, here is a new favorite picture of this little miracle.
She is changing daily and is such a blessing to all of us.
I am off to buy lots of fruit as I am doing a three day cleanse, just fruit. Well, at least that is my intention.
Tonight I hope to post again with some thoughts on living in the past, not in our personal past
but on times past, different eras in time and how it affects our lives and our children's lives. I have been giving this subject much contemplation. So many people wish to reclaim the Victorian era or some other time in history. For me it was the Little House on the Prairie times. It really says much about how we feel about where God put us in life.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Compassion vs Intolerance

“No loss by flood and lightening, no destruction of cities and temples by the hostile forces of nature, has deprived man of so many noble lives and impulses as those which his intolerance has destroyed” Helen Keller
A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair. Abraham Joshua Heschel [New York Journal-American, April 5, 1963]
In a world where we disdain prejudice, often times intolerance takes on the form prejudice and yet considered some form of righteousness. Whenever we pound our chests and say, "see how righteous I am and how unrighteous everyone else is" , that is the very moment we are the furthest from where we should be. There is no love in a statement like that.
Compassion is perhaps when we see everyone in need of the same level of care, tolerance and of course with respect.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Thoughts of the Day

Life has been busy with the baby here. Its fun but busy. I find myself holding this wee one rather than doing things around the house. From experience, I know these moments will pass quickly and it will be no time until she has learned to say, "down" and want to be off walking on her own. I study her tiny fingers, the creases in her wrists, the way she holds her mouth and just gazing at the sheer beauty of a new life.
I had a funny thing happen to me today, part of this rather gaze at the baby then do anything constructive. I was in my nightshirt this morning longer than normal, I was after all holding Mei-Ling while Melanie slept in a bit from being up a couple times during the night. There were baby things all around the living room. In one chair, a bunch of baby things laid out to finish drying since it was sprinkling last night when the clothes were on the line. In another chair, there were baby blankets and a stack of birth announcements awaiting some finishing touches. Just about every corner had some bit of pink baby something in it.
Of course there was a knock at the door, as often happens when our homes are in disarray and we are less than "put together". It was Priscilla's mother and her niece who we have known for well over a decade. They needed directions to a place in our town and of course they wanted a peak at the baby. There I was, dressed for bed, hair looking like a wild woman, bare feet and the house a bit disorganized. After a moment or two of feeling embarrassed, they weren't though, I was feeling less ummm, what should I say, less humiliated !
As soon as they left, I high tailed it to the bedroom to get dressed and cleaned up the house.
You know, life is that way, we are often unprepared for many of life's situations but they seem to work out just fine. The pride in me wonders what in the world they must think of me, and the whole, healthy side of me says, it was what it was and that exact moment will never come again. It is gone, only lasting in my memory and no doubt theirs !
The air has grown damp tonight, and for a second it smelled like the ocean to me. Made me homesick for the York Beach Maine. It will soon be a year ago that I was home. Yes, time does fly by quickly.
Today has been one reminder after another that living without so much stuff that you have to move it to clean, is really the best way for me.
I like the clean stark lines of what some call a Zen look. Might have to give some serious thought to heading that direction. My own personal life has been carefully cleaned out of all the extras that tend to bog us down. Even my spiritaul walk has been trimmed down to the real basics. Now perhaps its time for our home to reflect that too.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Baby stuff and Gratitudes

Just a quick little post sharing one of my great finds at Goodwill this week. A crochet sweater and hat for $2. I love how dainty it is and love the price even more.
Mei-Ling wore her first smocked outfit today. She had one tiny shoes at one point also. We went to the pharmacy and took opportunity to introduced Mei-Ling to our friend there. He was thrilled to hear her name, its his wife's mothers name too !

In the past few weeks I have had so much to be grateful for, to feel blessed about.
Mei-Lings birth
Her coming home from the NICU
Melanie healing after a long difficult recovery
Rain after such a long drought
Roses in bloom
Fruit on all our fruit trees
Grape vines heavy with bunches of grapes
Children who tell me they love me
A husband that makes my heart leap when I see him
E-bay (yes, I am grateful for e-bay)
Sweet Kosher wines
Organic cotton socks
Watching a baby sleep
Knowing what is important and what isn't
Not being burdened down with too much stuff
being able to read insightful books
Digging potatoes in the garden
A new collection of Alcott stories I had not read before
Having the windows open
realizing that being an individualist is a good thing
Rediscovering a Joan Biaz album
new wallpaper for the baby quest room
The softness of kittens
Stars twinkling on a navy blue sky
Trees full of leaves
A comfortable bed !

Monday Morning Ramble

Monday mornings always feel like "catch up" day for me. There are almost always dishes in the sink, floors needing mopping and laundry needing to be done. Weekends are for fun and not for housework. I would rather spend every second with Emery than stand at the sink doing dishes. It works for us and has for nearly 30 years so why change now : )
The sky once again has that painting look to it. Almost too perfect in appearance. Small clumps of fluffy white clouds, against a perfectly blue sky. If you painted it just as it is, I suspect people would comment on how it looks like the backdrop in a local play, not quite real.

Melanie has mastitis. Poor kid has been through so much and now this. We are heading off to the Doctors this morning. Keep her in your prayers if you would.

Instead of sitting here, windows open beside me, slightest of breeze barely stirring the lace curtains, listening to the birds sing and the hum of the vehicles on the highway off in the distance, I should be out working in the garden a bit, but I feel lazy.
Perhaps I have learned the Art of Doing Nothing a bit too well.
In the guest room, both Melanie and Mei-Ling are sleeping so I don't want to make much noise cleaning. Glad I have an excuse to not clean.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Night Sounds

There is no photo to go with this post because I simply feel too lazy to go outside in the dark and look for a subject. Its nearly midnight, the British Comedies I like have ended, its time to make it a day.
I hear an owl in the tree outside the window, its a haunting sound to me, probably because on so many occasions I have seen an owl wipe out an entire family of squirrels. And more than once found several of our chickens laying headless outside the hen house just as dusk fell. I have no doubt at all that it was either a black vulture or an owl that must have carried off our new duck. That "who, who" sound in the dark doesn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy towards owls.
I know all about the balance of nature etc, but that never seems to make you feel better about loosing a critter.
Its warm tonight, or rather the air is still, so the fan is on in our room. A gentle sound, as though a hushed disorganized tune was being hummed. A neighbors dog barks, a pick up truck drives past the house. It would be nice to hear the wind in the trees. I love that sound.
Soon enough cicada's will be singing the warm nights through, along with crickets and the bass tone croaking of frogs in the creek.
If we had an air conditioner on, we would miss these night sounds. Natures lullaby.
Before I climb up the steps to my bed, and snuggle into the feather bed, buried in comfort, I will walk down the hallway, floors creaking, and feel that feeling of gratitude for a house that long ago became a home for us, and that will always be a place my children love to visit.
If I listen carefully to my memories, I can hear the children's voices laughing, pretending to be like the Walton children, "goodnight mom, goodnight dad, goodnight Melissa, goodnight Melanie, goodnight Steven, goodnight Scott, and then one of the children would giggle and start saying goodnight to the dog, the cats, the goats, the roosters, the pony, the sheep and on and on until Emery would say, GOODNIGHT CHILDREN, and then all was quiet.
Yes, I am sure I can hear them again in my memory.

Evening Wander

As usual Sundays are busy for us. Some running around doing errands, and there are always some small jobs around the place for Emery to do. This evening though, we took some time to be outside just wandering around, checking the garden, admiring the sky and chasing off mosquitoes !
More potatoes harvested. A bright red cardinal singing from the fence, plums ready to be eaten, I had a few right from the tree, cilantro in bloom, caterpillars taking over my fennel, but I don't mind, they will be beautiful butterflies after they eat their fill and make their cocoons. We were a bit surprised to see so many of them, we counted nearly 20 on one plant.
Its always so sweet to wander hand in hand, sometimes talking, sometimes not. We have been married long enough, that we often communicate with just a look or a nod. Some moments outside in nature just seem to need silence.
Its late now, nearly bed time. Melanie is talking to Mei-Ling, Casi feeling good with his new hair cut that Melanie gave him. The windows open, the air is still and the sounds of the night seem close. Another simple day, busy in some respects but uncomplicated, which makes it seem simply delightful.

Compassion in place of Confrontation

Since my experience viewing the over whelmed mother in the Chinese take out restaurant, I have contemplated how modern society views violent actions, situations that need to be different, how we handle differences and all the many levels of disagreement.
I have been checking my own actions and know that when confronted in an antagonistic manner, I feel backed up against the wall and my first reaction is to come out fighting, not physically, but with some level of reaction.
It's not the reaction I want to feel, but it seems to be the one that surfaces when I am pushed, made to feel that someone is treating me unjustly, unfairly, or with disregard for who I am.
I have thought about how people have commented that speaking to the woman, so overwhelmed by mothering two small ones, or perhaps that is the only way she knows to react, at any rate we all know that when we confront someone in such situations, it can backfire on us. The person becomes so irritated, so angry, that later the child or who ever is the focus of this persons rage, may be abused even more.... but then I thought.... what if it was Christ, Buddha, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, or some other person of extreme compassion that went up to this woman... I am betting their very presence would defuse and calm the mother. I am certain they would know what to say, how to approach and what's more, have such a demeanor about them that what they said or did, words spoken or not, would melt away the anger. So, is it our very demeanor, our own persona that offends someone who is in a fit of anger ?
Could we not be calmer, so filled with compassion that we would never be taken as being confrontational ? Are we so used to confrontation, even in the grocery store, driving our cars, waiting on the phone, etc that we are not able to approach with total compassion ? I suspect so. Perhaps we should calm ourselves in order to be able to calm.
It certainly has given me much to think about. My own reactions to some very annoying people have fallen so short of compassion. Perhaps we need to be childlike in our approach, simple, no agenda, no confrontational attitudes, just a deep sincere desire to end the suffering of others.
Tiny little feet

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Tender Moment Captured forever

After seeing today what I did while waiting for my fried rice, (part of the food budget, big silly grin on my face) I could not help but feel so full of gratitude when I came home to see this sight. I told Melanie and Casi to just stay put until I got the camera and being the sweet young people that they are, they stayed in the same spot until I came back with my camera.
I just felt so full of love and overwhelmed by the purity of the tender scene before me.
May we all have the memory of being so loved.

A Painful Lesson for Me

I am ashamed of myself, disappointed in myself. I try not to ever have to say such things but today I am saddened over my failure to react.
I was waiting for my vegetable fried rice order at our favorite Chinese take out place, and there was a young mother of two, one child was probably close to 2 in age, the other one, probably about 4. The 4 year old was a brat, plain and simple. Crying and screaming because he wanted the chair his mother was sitting it, but the mother was making it worse, she was nasty, plain old ugly with this child. Finally her order was ready, she paid and got up to leave, the smaller child in her arms. The 4 year old grabbed the chair and started saying, "my chair, I got my chair." the mother then said, "fine, you have your chair now keep it" and walked out the door. The little boy of course ran crying after his mother, fearing she would leave him. He came within a centimeter of being squished by the big heavy door of the business. He ran across the busy park lot towards his mother who at this point grabbed him by the arm and how that child's arm did not become dislocated I will never know. Anyway she then threw him in the car and proceeded to slap him, hit him and scream at him.
What is almost more disturbing than this is that I stood there in the shop, doing nothing. I thought about how if I had a cell phone I would have called the police, but why oh why did I not walk over to her in while she was waiting for her order and tenderly and calmly ask if there was anything I could do to help. To explain to her I understand the stress of having two little ones etc ? Why then didn't I just tell the people in the take out place I would be right back, they know me, so its not a big deal and go and help this young woman with her children, to calm the situation down ?
You see, this one is not a do over. Some things in life we get to do over. But this is not one of them. This little child had to experience all this anger without one single calm adult watching this incident unfold without offering to help. Sure, this child no doubt experiences this type of anger regularly, it showed in the way the little one behaved. But what if I could have prevented this one time of violence for him ? Isn't one less beating better.
I am ashamed of myself. I failed to show compassion. Please don't tell me I am being hard on myself or to not beat myself up over this. I am not beating myself up, just disappointed in my lack of help for an innocent. I should be, we all should be when we pass by the opportunity to spare someone from being attacked, be it by a parent, a spouse, or a stranger. If I don't realize my own mistake, I will make it again some time. If I don't share my mistake, then the pain of this lesson goes on without a purpose at all.
We are to be merciful and compassionate

Friday, May 18, 2007

Some Words to Think About

From the time I was 14 I have loved the writtings and drawings of Kahlil Gibran. Here are a few quotes from him that are filled with much to ponder.

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. "

"To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to."

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."

~Kahlil Gibran~

photo of the sunset 5-18-07 taken off my front porch

9 pounds 1 oz.

This is our silly grin girl.... Makes you wonder what she is dreaming about.

Mei-Ling had her first check up with her pediatrician, well outside of the hospital that is, and all looks well. She is up to 9 pounds 1 oz ! The Doctor did say that her little heart "sings" .
We are still praying and thinking positively that the holes will seal up on their own.
The little lass was not too happy to have all her clothing removed and cried rather loudly during the exam. Needless to say she slept all the way home, just plain tuckered out from being poked and prodded.
She appears to enjoy sleeping most of the day but enjoys being talked to and cuddled most of the evening.
We sent Melanie and Casi off to see the new Shrek movie. Those two have had their share of difficulties in the past few months, so we thought they deserved a night out on the town. Melanie and Casi called many times just to check on Mei-Ling. Sorta made Emery and I laugh, reminded us of another couple, 20 some years ago, doing the very same thing the first time we ever left Melissa. She was with my mother and father for the evening and we called often and the whole evening all we did was talk about how much we missed her. In our whole married life, we never hired a babysitter. It was relatives we liked or NO ONE !
The cycle of life turning back for us to view now, from a totally different perspective.
Maybe that is when wisdom arrives , when we get to see things from a new view.

Some New Favorite Things and Living Earth Friendly

When I find something new that really excites me I like to share it with my readers.
Most of you know who have read my blog for any length of time, I am as they say now "green". We have been environmentally aware for 30 years. Emery and I both are committed to living earth friendly as much as we can and with what we know. We raised our children that way too. But we are all learning new things all the time.
This week on the news I heard a short segment connecting breast cancer with all the chemicals a woman uses, including what is in shampoo. I suspect the beauty industry will work hard to keep this study under wraps. This is no news to me, I have suspected it for a very long time. Compare our rates of breast cancer with "undeveloped" countries and their lack of "stuff" and more natural diet makes them less likely to get breast cancer.
No need for a multi-million dollar study to prove it, we can all figure out that modern times and all the chemicals is not helping us stay healthy. We just create more drugs to fight the additives effects on our bodies.
I am an advocate of not shaving underarms, (hair is a natural filter) not using antiperspirant, good deodorant is fine with me, but nothing with aluminum. I am also a fan of shampooing my hair with my soap, instead of something with a list of ingredients too hard to pronounce and too many to list by memory.
That said, I have to tell you about a soap I just discovered. I like the soap I make, and like how it makes my skin feel, but this soap I just discovered, smells heavenly, that is if you consider a kind hippie scent heavenly. Its exotic smelling and at the same time, good for you. Give Chandrika soap a try. Its now one of my very favorite things and I have a bar in ever drawer of my dresser, just for the scent. Its all vegetable oils, no animal fats. I have been washing my hair with it too and it leaves it feeling pretty nice.
Now for my second new favorite thing.... some cloth diapers I ordered for Mei-Ling. They are super soft, beautifully made and just the cutest print for this little one.
Cotton diapers are just the best for baby and for the earth. I know all the arguments about the water needed to wash diapers etc, but let me tell you, we are not filling up the landfills by using cloth and not making a little moist oven to heat up babies reproductive organs.
Anyway, these diapers are darling and made by a family business in Utah. Give their site a visit and consider using cloth diapers. Its not a big deal work wise. I have traveled across country and used cloth diapers. My house never smelled like dirty diapers. I once headed off to the Doctors with Melissa, for a bad diaper rash, my definition of bad was "red" and "looked sore". The Doctor promptly laughed and said, "dear, that is not a bad rash, in fact I would not even consider it a rash, you should see the patients I see that use disposable diapers".
Anyway, off my bandwagon about our throw away culture.
Here is the link for these darling soft cloth diapers.
These folks were super to do business with too.
Speaking of diapers, I think the little one next to me needs a change. Mei-Ling has picked this moment to ummm, change the scent of my room, during the time when I told her mommy I wanted her to rest, and that I would take care of the diaper changes.

You know though, I have to add something here, it is a blessing that diapers need changing, it shows the body is functioning well.

Much To Catch Up....

In mid January, we saw the passing of my father and after nearly two years of caring for him, it was so hard to see him leave u...