Thursday, January 31, 2008

Morning Time


Fog rolled around our land this morning reminding me of the smoke off the incense I burn. You could see this fog tumble and roll. Its not 8 a.m. and I have had my mile run, drank my morning cup of warm water with the juice of a lemon in it. Made breakfast of cream of buckwheat for Emery and I. Read my poster that cites the ABC's to achieve your dreams. Somehow this morning I got stuck on S.... Stop procrastinating and then on T... Take control of your own destiny. Take control, that sort of made me think about being a people pleaser, which really puts everyone else in the drivers seat. We are not taking control of our own destiny, we change and mutate to try and make everyone else happy, in the mean time we sort of loose what might be our purpose. We can let others take the helm and miss what our true destiny is meant to be.
I have watched myself carefully lately and its impossible to keep everyone happy, everyone interested in what you are doing. If we go through life living with compassion without personal agenda or without the need for accolades, than that is all we need to be worried about. Compassion is never without love, love is compassion on the deepest level. It doesn't brag, it doesn't care if its seen or unseen by the masses and it sees the needs of others as being equal or greater than our own. People pleasing is self centered. It's all about how we are being perceived, rather than making other folks life better. It's about approval and acceptance. Compassion is not a part of it. I need to remind myself of that all the time. I start to write something for the blog that I feel deeply about and then I think, 'oh dear, the fundamentalists that read the blog will be so offended by my honesty and write me off or send me an email " so I rethink how to say it and realize that the free thinkers will think I have bitten the bullet and become a narrow minded judgmental person and never come back again. So you see, it won't work to people please. Being your "authentic you" can't be avoided forever, you will go nuts ! Each one of us has a reason for being here on earth, and doubtful our purpose has much to do with what we eat or what our pantry looks like, or how to clean a toilet properly. We all have far more wisdom given to us to share than that. Those might be important aspects of our lives, but not defining who we are. If all you taught your children was how to clean a house, they would not be real balanced, there is so much more to learn. We should work on the things about us that rule us, control us, remove from us the ability to operate as we were designed. Don't just say, "I am fat and out of shape and my health is compromised" and accept it as fate, work on it, change it, so you can operate as God intended. How can you live the life designed for you if you give the power to food ? Maybe someone else might say, " I have OCD" instead it might be more beneficial to say, "I struggle with OCD and want to be free from it" and then work on it. Change it, so you too can be free to be who God wants you to be, complete your purpose. Anger controls people, makes them behave in a way that rules them, dictates them and turns loved ones, strangers, store clerks, waitresses and the like, away with disgust, especially if they see the angry one hop into a car with a bumper sticker that says, "God loves you and so do I" ! Don't just accept it as a part of you, work on it...life is work in progress and we need to be aware of what is the driving force of our actions.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hung Out To Dry and In Need of Paint

Mei-Lings little Border Collie needed a bath...The well loved toy appeared frightened being hung out to dry on this very windy day.
The door to the milk house is in need of some new paint. Although it looks very rustic, it will
be looking much better as soon as spring time arrives so we can paint

Lunch for Two

There is nothing quite so much fun as a spontaneous lunch for two... basket in hand I strolled into Emery's office, fresh fruit, yogurt, croissants, sparkling water, coffee for me (Emery is not a coffee drinker) and two pieces of decadent chocolate for dessert. It was simple but still time for eyes to meet, lingered touch of hands as I passed him his food. Laughter, conversation, interruptions, but that's expected since this spur of the moment lunch was at his office.
On the way home I thought about how fast time is flying by. Nearly 30 years of my life has been spent with this gentle man. I want time to slow down, stop for a bit, let us savor the moment longer, sip life's beauty slowly. Weeks seem to fly by. It is Monday and then somehow Friday, days speeding past me. I look at our faces and age shows but we don't feel any different than 30 years ago, we embrace life with that same enthusiasm, that same gusto for living. We think with energy and hopefulness, even a sprinkling of idealism. Yes, there is more wisdom now, more of the times we can say, " I know how you feel" for many of life's hard times and good times. Just the other day, Emery walked in the door from work, French cafe music playing on the stereo, he grabbed me in his arms and we danced across the floor, laughing. Melanie, Casi and Mei-Ling were here too. Melanie picked up Mei-Ling and danced next to Emery and I. So much laughter, so much fun. A memory engraved in all our hearts for years to come. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, but so much ! I look at the picture of Emery below, taken shortly after we married and to be honest I see him the same way. I don't see the few gray hairs or the lines. Just this same guy I said " I do" to so long ago.
Don't miss the moments....write that love note tonight, dance and laugh... have a picnic lunch in the middle of winter and always look for the very best in all the people you love.

One of our Sunday lunches at home

Emery in Florida, Spring 1979

Music of the moment.... Josh Groban "Closer " playing right now All'improvviso Amore

Cold Morning, Hot Tea and an Old Friend


It is a chilly morning, normal winter weather. Blue skies, with light brush strokes of white clouds here and there. The sun casting shadows as it rises in the east. A spot of tea is perfect on such a morning, warming my insides after coming in from my morning chores. I sat in silence thinking about what I want to accomplish today...start a new quilt for the grand-babies room. Red work, bright and cheery with sunbonnet Sue. I have Sunbonnet Sue fabric for curtains too. White, with tiny gals scattered across it. I want to finish painting in the living room too. Amazing what fresh paint can do for a room. Same color as before, just Country White, but after a couple years, the wood stove use darkens the walls. We have lots of books, so painting means moving the books from the bookcases to get behind them. Lots of work.
But first things first in the day. To read. Bending over a bit, more like hunching over to see one shelf below eye level, I peruse the bookshelf looking for just that right book. Maybe it was the color, the richness of the Burgundy red, maybe it was a longing to step back in time, maybe it was just divine intervention. I choose to read from a small Bible that I took with me to Israel back in 1990. A brand new Bible, a gift from a dear friend Anna. She wanted me to have a new, unmarked, Bible for my trip. She felt led to. My favorite Bible is so well marked, so worn, a new one is like seeing things differently. No history to influence how I looked at a verse.
This little red Bible has notes all along that margins taken when I was at certain places throughout Israel. I never used this Bible much after this particular trip. It still feels and smells new. Leafing through it this morning with the sun and shadows coming through the window, I read from James, my all time favorite book. It seems to me that God directs where the pages open at times and today seems like one of those times. I read from the first chapter, 26 "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
There you have it....just what we need to do, how to behave. Hummm, keeping a tight rein on our tongues. A lesson for me to be sure. It's not only words of anger we need to watch, but saying snide remarks, being negative, petty, jealous words that make us knock a person down a bit to make ourselves look better. Bragging words, snippy words, grouchy words, judgemental words. Ouch !
Keeping oneself polluted by the world, is something so against our modern approach to being informed, being "with it". Not being polluted requires diligence and keeping away from so many things...certain books, most television, most new movies and magazines that make us want, want, want and feel jipped when we don't have all the finery that there is out there.
I fall prey to the concept of being "well informed." Do we really need to know something about everything ? You have your own answer on that one. At times I think my sweet tooth takes a back seat to my hunger to know more about everything. There are things we can hunger and thirst after that will build us up, make us better people, but not everything we digest is good for us.
Melanie and Casi could use your prayers. Casi lost his job last week, so they are without an income to speak of. He was approved for unemployment benefits but he needs a job, plain and simple. They have been through so much in a years time. They are discouraged. At times we seem taken to the cliff of "How Much More Can We Stand Mountain" and made to look over the edge, leaving us feeling frightened, vulnerable and abandoned.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Simple Gifts


Simple Gifts was written by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848.
It was first published in The Gift to be Simple: Shaker Rituals and Songs.
Simple Gifts was a work song sung by the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing (more commonly called the Shakers, an offshoot of the Quakers).
Tis the gift to be simple,'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.
Refrain:
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,'
Til by turning, turning we come round right
'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,
Refrain:
'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.
Refrain:

the photo is one I took of Melissa and some of the rabbits she was raising back a few years

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The Simple Joys

The Simple Joys
They miss so much who do not know
The simple joys of long ago.
The quiet hour, the easy pace,
A path to walk, a day to face.
A small white flower, a bird that sings,
The Happiness in the little things.
The patience for a task, well done,
The gift of rest at set of sun.
The thankful heart, the lift of care,
A friend nearby, a time of prayer.
How much they miss who do not know
The simple joys found long ago.
~Amy Perrin~

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Monday Morning Gratitudes

Yesterday morning the fog was so thick, that visibility was under 1/8 of a mile. The fog hung low in the sky and above it was baby blue clear sky. If you were up on the top floors of a skyscraper in the city yesterday morning you could see above the fog. It was quite amazing. But also a lesson for us. That often when we cannot see which way to go in life, we just need to go Higher to see the clear view.
It seems we are never far from a lesson, as long as we are willing to look with open eyes and hear in the silence of the moment.
Starting the day off with a list of a few of my gratitude's.
Always grateful for life, it is a gift
for my health and the health of my family
for love
for faith and hope, they seem to go together
for history, its a wonderful teacher
for language, it gives our thoughts wings
for music
for laughter, small giggles all the way to giant laughs
for warm home made bread, kneaded by hand giving my hands strength and my body energy
for candle light, that softens all around it
for learning to understand the difference between need and want
for my life being surrounded by tenderness and kindness
for clouds painted across the sky
for true friends
for a new bookcase found "antiquing".
for a warmer morning, meaning no cold floors !
for plenty of wood to heat the house.
and for my sewing machine.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Your Deepest Joys

Have you ever wondered what is your deepest joys really are in your life ? I was thinking about the things that bring me deep joy all on their own. The sort of joy that stands alone and is not dependant on how others look at us. So many of us say we find joy in doing this or that, but if we stripped away the accolades, the applause or the oooooohhhhh's and awwwww's we get from doing this or that, would it really be our joy to do it ? It is a joy to love my family and it would never matter to me in the world if anyone but them, knew I loved them. It is a joy for me to know God, and I would still love Him even if no one ever knew I did. I would spin wool in the quiet of my home, even if no one ever knew I would. I would still love herbal medicine if no one ever knew I did. But there are things, I must admit that I do or did, just to please or to receive some level of recognition, those things are probably not my deepest joys. Not the things that bring the sort of joy that is linked to freedom.
There is work of course, work we do for loved ones, for humanity, for strangers, for enemies or for people we feel completely indifferent to. Doing things for others, with compassion will become joy, if the motivation is right. And although it may not seem like a deepest joy, if it is done with the idea that what we do for others is in fact love made visible, then it can become a joy for us.
Our deepest joys, the ones that fill our hearts are the very things we never need anyone else to know about, we do it without any thought of reward.
Knowing our deepest joys, helps define who we are. Who we are in the eyes of God.

Thoughts of Spring time breakfasts outside

Is It Fear That Makes Us Turn Our Back ?

It has been interesting to share my spiritual walk so openly. To talk about my doubts, to share my confusion on knowing what God requires. I have been cast aside more times than I can count, for being so open. I never have gone so far as Peter did, never denied knowing Christ, but yet at times people have shunned me as if I committed the unpardonable sin. It appears that some folk are so filled with fear of honest searching that they shot the searcher without a thought. I have been "shot" openly for my honest struggle. It hurts at times, but then I think about how fear is crippling and so the only thing I can feel is sorrow for the amount of fear some folks carry with them and I know I would not want to be their child for certain. My faith is stronger than that sort of fear. I just don't know all that God requires, so many opinions out there on what is right. I am glad God is more loving than people are. He continues to bless me and walk with me, holding my hand as I search. Gently leading me. Not shooting me because I am looking for answers.
I have learned that I never ever want to be so filled with fear of loosing my own salvation that I run from someone that has a struggle, afraid I might be contaminated. I want a stronger faith than that.

I suspect most folk have doubts, (most just keep them quiet) especially since for Christians the Bible mentions it so many times. The twelve certainly had doubts often and Jesus was right there beside them in the flesh. Poor David cried out to the Lord so many times asking "where are you? " when feeling down in the dumps as we might say today. With all the moods David experienced, if he were around today, people would be saying he was bi-polar. Think about it, if you knew someone today that was dancing naked with joy one day and then wasting away to bones with saddness another time, what would you think ? How would you treat them ? Most would run the other direction, yet God has used David as an example for us. Looking to the earnest searching in David and blessing him. God didn't turn away from David even when wanted another mans wife, so badly that David sent the poor husband off to the front lines to be killed in battle, it was a sure bet he would die, that way, David could have the woman. Yet, God still loved him ! Sure David paid a price for that sin, loosing their first child before he could even enter into the conventent by being circumcised, but God didn't disown David. How many parents have disowned their child for much less ?
I would like to share a story about Joe Jacobson. Its an amazing story... the kind all Christians should bear in mind when they turn their back on someone that might not be where YOU want them to be. He was a kid from a blended family. Modern family. The father so drunk he had no idea he was getting married to his first wife, resented her, took another women. He was one of the youngest kids and a brat. The kind you hate to be around. Bragged all the time, the "I am better than you" kind. His father and mother spoiled him rotten. He got better toys, better clothes etc. Naturally his siblings resented him. His brothers ganged up on him and beat the tar out of him. Joe left town with the help of his siblings. Anyway he got in trouble not long after getting to a new place. He was arrested for sexual assault. Went to jail for a while, was still a know it all, but after a while was acquitted. Got out of jail, but it stayed on his record. Just a mention of his name, gets people talking about that incident. But somehow Joe was actually blessed. Good things would come his way. He got a good job, but married this woman who was the daughter of some pagan leader. Joe got into scrying, that thing where people see the future in a mirror or a cup of water. Joe used some expensive cup for his. That cup was major important to him. He had been gone from his home town so long now that no one there would have recognized him. He had a good job, changed his name, travelled with the "in crowd". His brothers hit some hard times, they ended up one day in his turf. Joe's world. They needed help and found out who they were supposed to talk to and guess what, yup it was Joe, only they had no idea who it was they were talking to. He changed a lot during the years, and with his name change and all, they never recognized him.
Joe sure remembered them though. He remembered that beating and being sent out of town. He set them up, planted his special cup in their bags and then sent the cops after them, having them arrested for stealing. What a mess. Worse than a crime movie. Anyway, in time he had his father come and bail the brothers out, introduced himself and everything turned out pretty good, except he lost any inheritance from his father. What should have been his, was split in half and given to Joe's two boys. Joe had a messed up life by our standards. But in case you haven't figured it out, Joe is Joseph from the Bible. I suspect today, many Christians would have turned their back on him when he married the pagan high priests daughter or started doing divination with his scrying cup (Gen 44:5). They would have tossed him aside as a lost cause and been afraid to have their children play with his kids. Good Christian parents would disown a son like that...write him off as lost and a negative influence to younger children or grandchildren. But how did God see him ? Isn't that the example for us to follow.

I am blushing, a new award


Heather over at Muddy Boots Acres gave me this Spread the Love award. It sure made my day.
Thanks Heather and now I would like to pass this award on to ...Michelle over at Ozarks sew n' sews and to Carrie at Looking Through The Backyard of my life

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Friday, January 25, 2008

It's a Gray Sort of Day



Not in any bad way, but it's a gray day weather wise. The rain has been steady, and the cold hanging on like a piece of wet wool, soaking you to the core. I never mind this kind of dirty weather. It keeps me inside, doing hand work or spinning wool, tapping my free foot to old Irish ballads and sea shanties. My imagination taking root in thoughts of the ocean, dreaming up what it would be like to be out to sea on such a day, or to be standing at the door waiting for your man to return from the stormy expanse. It's not so much day dreaming on my part as much as it is remembering the stories my grandmother shared with me about her uncles as they spent their time being captains of a clipper ships, heading down to Boston from Nova Scotia. Some were sad stories of young men being swallowed up by the sea in a bad storm, one such story left my great great grandmother fatherless.
I love living in Texas, but I miss being close to the sea. Days like today, with the gray sky meeting the ground, makes me miss the smell of the salty air, and the way the wind feels as it whips off the waves. The sound of fog horns and buoy bells. I miss walking on cold wet sand and seeing a zillion stars twinkling in the black ink night sky. Tonight I will have to settle for the cold damp air and just pretend I can catch a whiff of the ocean.
A strange assortment of photos, rain hanging on the Italian pine tree
Melissa, playing with sea weed along the California coast
A not so in focus squirrel climbing up one of our pine trees.
music of the moment.... Altan "Blackwater"

Simple Things

In life we have opportunities to know the sheer beauty of the simple things in life, that nest in our hearts and minds and grow into a memory that will always be with us. Such as the feeling of a baby's breath on our cheek, or the smell of a rose just picked from the garden.
Even in the difficult situations in life, there is usually some greater plan that we just are not seeing when we are going through it. Retrospect is a profound thing.
It is honestly the simple things in life, the ones that are not purchased, but are gifts of God to us, for us, that bring intense joy that lasts. It is love, it is health, it is joy, it is the beauty of nature, it is the miracle of birth, it is in laughter and giggles, it is in honesty and in faith, peppered with hope. It is in freedom for wanting every new thing we see or in creating stores of stuff that at some point we discover did not really make us happy for longer than a week. Seeking the simple things in life means having open eyes, open hearts and contentment.
Appreciating the simple things, brings one to want to live simply. Living simply removes so much fear...there is no fear of loosing what you don't have or don't want to have.

Last summers roses in the guest room, by far the most beautiful decoration in the room !

Quiet Holiness

It is raining out, with the temperature hovering right at freezing. A degree away from ice. It's damp, dark gray morning, the kind of morning that always makes me think of being in some ancient cathedral. Not because I see them as dark places, but more like it is on this kind of day I have been more likely to visit one. I have filled the living room with candles. The flickering of the wicks low in their glass containers gives me a feeling of comfort, a sign that my deepest prayers are being seen and heard. Gregorian chants playing on the stereo complete the feeling of holiness. I believe we all need days that are steeped in the feeling of quiet holiness. To refresh the soul, step away from the television, the shopping, the creating of more stuff to deal with, and just spend the day in quietude. A day when one can time seeking. It never harms a child to experience this type of day, for them to find the beauty in quiet holiness. Not pushed on them, not enforced, but experienced and absorbed.
Mother Teresa is a woman I greatly admire. Her compassion is her legacy. What could be better for any human to be known for ? Her love of humanity so tender and merciful. She had six steps to creating peace : silence, prayer, faith, love, service, and peace. One cannot find peace without silent moments to hear, or without prayer, faith, love of which the fruit is always service and in giving, not of money or things, but of ourselves, then, we do find peace.
Some Quotes to think about by Mother Teresa
"Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go. "

"Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work."

"One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody. "

"There must be a reason why some people can afford to live well. They must have worked for it. I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things that we could use. "

"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls. "

"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. "

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

God in a Box

A year ago I wrote what is below, on my other blog. I still feel much the same but today something took place to make it easier for me NOT to feel the need to conform, but rather to run from conformity. I saw proof positive that money does indeed corrupt and make people think more about the amount of profit, than peoples lives. Sad, sad thing.
I was thinking too, about how parents raise their children, not one child is raised the exact same as a sibling, sometimes the rules even change for different children within the same family as we know each child's strengths and weaknesses. I think God is that way with us.

Very few days go by without me trying to define and refine my "religious" beliefs. I just want it to be tidy and organized and have a name, a connection to some group as if that is what really mattered. In my 52 years I have studied and examined so many religious concepts and played over and over in my head the arguments for and against each one.First off, the years of programmed fear dictates much of my thought pattern. The fear of hell haunts a soul for many years. What a shameful way to drum up believers. If it were not for the fear of hell the only thing that would bind us to God would be faith and belief and that is the hard part for most folks. Much like how people obey the traffic laws so they will not be pulled over by the police, rather than do it out of concern for others on the road. For me, God cannot be put in a book of "doctrines of the church" He is so much bigger than that. So much more individualized, not standardized. I have learned much about compassion from Buddhism that will stay with me all my life, it has been transforming, enlightening...yes. And what is most important, there was never any fear attached to the teachings, only personal responsibility. My actions, are mine.
Not the force of some evil devil or the push from some angel. Mine and mine alone. With all this in mind, I still feel some overwhelming desire, no, more like a need, to conform. To make myself think and believe in some boxed up concept of God. I wonder how I will ever escape this self imposed cage around my spiritual side.

Dreams Do Come True, all about love...





Way back in 1970 I used to listen to Dick Summer on the radio. Disc Jockey extraordinaire that wrote amazing love poems. His rich voice, soft and so full of love for the woman he wrote about in his life. Now I must admit that most of the true meanings of his poems slid past me, my innocence never picking up the deeper more intimate meanings. That is how much of life's understandings go, we don't catch what we don't know about. (some of his poems make me blush to this day)
Dick Summer had a book of his poems published and I paid the $1.95 out of my summer job pay check as fast as I could get my hands on a copy. The photography in the book took my breath away. Pictures taken by a fellow names Steve Hansen. All black and white's. The kind that makes you feel something, even if you have not experienced it yourself. That is art. To this young girl of 16, with eyes filled with fancy, this book set into motion the very ideals for what I wanted to find in love. To have someone to love so deeply that at times no words need be spoken, and that in other moments, laughter in the rain would fill me soul. And always, always to have a love that held hands and that I would always find that safe feeling in being myself, 100%.
I dreamed of my "gentle-man" as I called him. I had many crushes during my teen years, but none matched up to the faceless kind of love shown in this tiny paperback book of poems.
This ideal for what love would look like when worn by two people stayed with me and when I saw it in Emery, I knew right away. He was the person with whom I could be 100% me, be silly, be contemplative, seek answers with, and rest in his arms and feel a level of security that was beyond words.
Amazingly my dreams all came true and they continue to blossom into so much more. I kept being focused on never settling for less. I waited until 1978 to find this gentle man of mine and now nearly 30 years later, it is even more than I ever imagined it could be. We still walk in the rain together, I still pop my hand in his back pocket or hang on his collar as we walk. Love notes still find their way onto pillows and chairs. We still have deep and meaningful conversations about the meaning of life and picnic on the grass, watching clouds float by. We still toss a Frisbee, laugh at what it feels like to skip together at our age, and my favorite place in all the world is in this gentle mans arms. Dreams do come true, even when they are formed by a 16 year old.
Photos: Steven Hansen

Cozy Corner



Today is the kind of day you just want to cozy up with a good book beside the wood stove and let the day slip by. Nothing pressing, nothing stressful, nothing demanding. Time is my own. Lavender oil simmering, filling the house with its calming scent. Music wafting through the house, like gently blowing winds upon the ancient silk route, so dream like.
The week passing by slowly...I had to check to see what day of the week it was, time feels as though it has stood still, a good stillness. Not once have I started a car this week. Choosing instead, to stay at home. Being filled with the essence of home, where love flows so freely.
I am finding the empty corners and bare surfaces, freeing. Matching my personal direction in life, where simplicity takes the place of clutter, excess and freedom from want.

One more section of the living room complete. Bit by bit, it is coming together.

Doing Nothing

Last night I started re-reading the "Joy Diet" by Martha Beck. I like that book but the first part of the book is a tough one, it talks about doing NOTHING. That's a hard thing for me to do, it goes so against all we have been taught about being productive. But one thing is for sure, its awfully hard to hear a small still voice when you are always doing something. Its almost impossible to be filled when the bowl is already full.
The Tao says "Thirty spokes are united around the hub of a wheel, but the usefulness of the wheel depends on the space where nothing exists. Clay is molded into a vessel, but the usefulness of the vessel depends on the space where nothing exists. Doors and windows are cut out of the walls of a house, and the usefulness of the house depends on the space where nothing exists. "
Novel concept for most of us....to see the usefulness of the space where nothing exists. Profound thought is often born from a time where nothing but thinking is done. We tend to look at that time spent thinking as a waste of time, but it isn't. We are more likely to be so busy that we never really think. I am assuming you are all very bright and understand that I am not advocating we just take up a habit of always doing NOTHING. I know you understand balance, and that's just it, balance. There is no balance in always doing something.
So, if you had a tiny corner of your world, be it a place in the barn, your walk in closet, your bathroom, or a corner of the garden, where you could let everyone in your family know, that when you are there for 15 minutes, you are not to be disturbed, unless of course there is a major emergency, could you actually balance your busy-ness with a time of doing NOTHING ? A time to HEAR that small still voice. I am talking about you just listening.
It is my practice to set aside some time in the morning, after my hot water and lemon juice, to just sit. I have a hard time doing it, even after a few years of it being part of my day. It still takes me 5 minutes to stop the hamster wheel of thoughts, the mental list of things to do, things I should have done and on and on. But, the results are worth it. Calmness, enlightenment, the ability to find the value in doing nothing and a place where we can be filled.
Forget about rearranging your cupboards one more time, forget about the dust under the sofa for the day. Forget about feeling guilty for not accomplishing some great task every waking moment, take some time for doing nothing. You will find it most productive !

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Down Side of Farm Life

Went out to let the chickens out of the hen house and found my favorite chicken, dead. Headless and eaten on so no doubt the work of an owl or hawk. I suspect an owl though. Must have happened at dusk last night and since I locked up the chickens after dark with no lantern, I never saw her right by the hen house door.
This is the down side of farm life. This hen was no pet or anything, but my favorite of my hens. Friendly and a good layer. We will haul her off to the woods for the coyotes.
Just kinda sad to see her gone. Will have to be more vigilant from now on about getting the hens in the hen house before dusk. Owls have a habit of returning over and over. One year we lost a dozen hens from one owl, one each night for that many nights. We finally stopped letting the hens out for a couple weeks and the owl got tired of waiting for a chance.

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A Gift





As if God knew how much I missed seeing birds at my feeders, today, out of nowhere they came...a gift of tufted titmouse, cardinals, chickadees, finches and more.

Morning Visitors


Quite a large number of Morning Doves took turns at the feeders this morning. Its about the only birds I have seen around this winter. Not sure if all the gas well drilling has sent all the other birds away or what the deal is. Just not many birds around any more.

A Morning Ramble

The visibility last night was less than a mile. Looking out my back door into the night, there were only shadows and fog. Made me think about how often we deal with that same sort of unclear vision of our lives. We can't always see where the road ahead is leading us, we can't see for certain where the road is leading, yet we take one step after another, following directions, ethics, morals, and faith that guide us, provide a map of sorts.
Fog should always remind us of what faith is like. It's stepping out into uncharted territory, knowing that there is an unseen hand, leading us. Most of us, wish to explore on our own a bit or get waylaid from time to time, knocking us off our feet, but we get up, dust ourselves off and begin again to take one step after another, not seeing more than a mile ahead at any one time. Spurred on by belief, by hope and at times, desperation. Control freaks have a hard time with faith, it puts someone else in the drivers seat. Free spirited folks don't much like it either, because the path seems so planned and well laid out. Then there are the folk that just want the facts..."where are we going, when will we get there and what will we do there?" Fog and faith are hard for them to deal with. So many unknowns. Faith is the easy part for me, trusting that things will all work out, its just I never quite know just how much God wants from us, the level of following the directions. I suspect that is a product of where I have been. There is probably not a single day that goes by that I don't think about things like headcoverings, dresses only, no television, staying separated from "the world".
The house is chilly this morning, but I am planning on painting the wall by the wood stove so I will just put on a jacket. Looking around the room, I love the simplicity of it. The bare wood floors, the cedar window frames with the deep window sills, made with love and great care by my love in life. Kerosene lamps here and there, chasing away the darkness and filling the room with a golden light that seems to capture all of the good parts of the olden days. Baskets of knitting projects and others filled with wool to be spun. Herbs hanging to dry off the big cedar beam that crosses the room. Books on table tops, beside a chair and of course on shelves.
Hand dipped candles hanging in pairs reminding me that I need to make some more, out of the bayberry wax I purchased. Bayberry is just so much a part of my own history. I can so imagine the generations so long ago, my very ancestors, gathering the berries that grew so plentiful and boiling them to see the wax float to the top, for candles. I would much rather buy things like bayberry than fancy shoes. Wool to spin more than fluffy towels !
It is day 5 on my following "You Are What You Eat" plan. The weight is coming off fast, but I miss a proper cup of tea, with sugar and milk. I miss toast and an egg. I do feel much better though, not stiff in the mornings getting out of bed, I feel more like I did at age 30. My energy is much greater. My complexion healthier looking. But oh how I miss baking bread, or smelling Indian pudding bubbling away in the crock pot. The food I love is like the bayberry, part of my heritage. Recipes I make are the very same ones my great great grandmother made. On just about any given day, I can figure my Aunt is making the same sort of food I am, we laugh often about that. Over a thousand miles apart and we make the same recipe on the same day with no knowledge of what the other one has planned.
People seem to live about the same span of years, give or take a few years, despite the food they eat, of course the quantity is the big killer.
Its time for me to get to work, doing some chores, wish I had more outside chores. I miss having all the livestock we once had. I like chores.
I have given a proper ramble, covering so many of my morning thoughts.
Life is amazingly wonderful, yes, there are trials and hard times but just the very fact we are alive is amazingly wonderful.
I am grateful for a mind that thinks, a body that carries breath, a bed to sleep in, food to eat and for all the love that surrounds me. What more is there to want ?

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Monday, January 21, 2008

New Furniture Dangers

Recently we purchased some new furniture. We knew about the dangers of formaldehyde in particle board etc but it was next to impossible to find things without it, unless we wanted to spend tons of money, which we didn't. Right after setting up the new bookcases, Emery started coughing a lot, we couldn't figure out why, until we put a time stamp on when it started, the very same day we set up the bookcases that are made out of particle board. They are coming down, and Emery will be making some nice wooden ones to take their place. Think it might be best to stick with antiques !
The photo shows the underside of the bookcase shelf, particle board !

Hidden Danger of Particle Board Formaldehyde in Manufactured Wood Products

By Lauren Beyenhof
Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a strong odor known to cause asthma attacks
Persons with compromised health may be more sensitive to lower concentrations of formaldehyde than others
Two coats of sealant or varnish on the underside of cabinets prevent formaldehyde emissions
Persons with asthma, allergies, chronic sinusitis or similar upper respiratory problems are well attuned to the specific environmental triggers that cause their conditions to flare up. In order to make life as symptom-free as possible, they go to great lengths to purchase the proper allergen reducing products, adhere to medication schedules, and avoid situations that may compromise their lung function. Unfortunately, even the most diligent may overlook the danger that resides in nearly every home.
Particle board, wood veneer, hardwood plywood and similar products are home to an oft-ignored source of indoor air pollution, (i.e. formaldehyde) and are therefore a potential health risk. It is important to note that these wood products are not the problem; rather, it is the combination of certain adhesives used in the manufacturing of the particle board that causes the true pollutant, formaldehyde, to surface.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) reports that manufactured wood products such as plywood and composite board pose the same risk as particle board. Formaldehyde is commonly used in these manufactured wood products because of its preservative and adhesive properties.
Because formaldehyde is a type of volatile organic compound (VOC), it is readily emitted into the air. However, not everyone is affected by it in the same way. Only sensitive populations, such as those with compromised respiratory function due to asthma or allergies, are likely to experience the direst reactions to formaldehyde exposure. For example, exposure to high concentrations is likely to trigger asthma attacks in some people, whereas the same degree of exposure will have no adverse affect on an otherwise healthy individual.
Formaldehyde in its gaseous form is colorless and odorless. It is a lachrymator, meaning it causes irritates the eyes, nose and throat, causing itchiness and sometimes moist discharge. Additional symptoms of exposure may include dizziness, nausea, headache, and perhaps of most concern to the asthmatic, upper respiratory irritation.
In the scientific laboratory setting, prolonged or frequent exposure of animals to formaldehyde in any form has been linked to cancer, but this does not necessarily ring true in humans. Regardless, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) considers formaldehyde a "probable human carcinogen."
Notable items in the home containing particle board include bookshelves or entertainment units requiring assembly. Medium density fiberboard is another significant source of formaldehyde in the home, as are hardwood plywood, paneling and some floor finishes. In some cases, removing the source of formaldehyde may not completely eliminate the chance of further exposure. Depending on the temperature and humidity, emissions and concentration levels may fluctuate. For the most part, the most destructive of these products have been successfully removed from the market and are no longer available.
Completely eliminating all manufactured wood products from the home is not an economically feasible or practical approach, but there are some ways to reduce the likelihood of over-exposure and prevent adverse health effects. Replacing the existing particle board with softwood plywood or wafer board can be done with little expense and effort. Areas under cabinets or drawers where manufactured wood is exposed can be sealed with two coats of laminate or varnish, which is impenetrable to formaldehyde.
Although no home can be completely allergen or pollutant-free, simple, manageable steps can be taken to ensure that the home is a place of comfort and overall safety. For persons with asthma and similar health concerns, effectively reducing exposure to formaldehyde in the home is well worth the
effort.
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/114286/hidden_danger_of_particle_board.html

The Easy Way, Isn't Always The Right Road

There is a commercial on television about how these days instead of fixing things, we just get a new one. We don't as a rule, put much energy into keeping things going smoothly. People divorce without much thought. People get divorced for such silly reasons some times. I have a friend who divorced her husband because he was "too nice", and therefore not much fun in her eyes. People change churches when the minister talks about changing negative behaviors, or has the nerve to call something we enjoy, "a sin". People even end pregnancies because its going to be too hard to raise a child at this point in their life.
Instead of loosing weight when we gain a few pounds so our clothes will fit, we just buy bigger or make sure elastic wasted things fill our closets. We let our children rule the roost, simply because its hard to be consistent and have them obey. We let our children have all sorts of techno baby sitter toys so we don't have to hear them whine.
As adults, we so often choose the easy way out. Caving in on standards simply because it's easier to. Giving in because we think its easier than to stand firm. We choose the easy ways to do things around the house, have machines do our work, and then find we need to pay out big money to join a fitness center because we are getting weak and out of shape. What we think is the easy way, isn't always so easy in the end.

Exercising Your Brain

All too often we just accept what we assume are certain aspects of aging, without questioning it, trying to change it or perhaps regain it.
I watched a PBS program on brain exercise and one little thing stuck with me, it was about how as we age, we never go up or down stairs without looking at each step as we go. Watch a child or young person run up and down the stairs, their eyes are on the prize, not the stairs. According to this show on PBS, we just need to practise what we used to do, go up and down some familiar small flight of stairs, looking up, instead of down. Sounded kind of frightening to me, since I was a confirmed stair watcher. But, willing to exercise my brain and regain something lost for no other reason other than "accepting it". I began going down the back porch steps without watching my steps. It was rather humorous to see at first. I looked much like a toddler. Holding on to the posts for dear life, half trying to see down without actually looking down. Strange as it seems, it got easier each day. Soon I was flying down the steps while looking out at the barns. But, that was just 5 steps and 5 steps I knew well, would it work on a huge flight of stairs ? We have a food store that has the restrooms upstairs, big flight of stairs. A perfect place for a test. Now every time I am in that store I make sure to use the restroom, just to use the stairs. At first it was a bit scary, the stairs are smaller than my foot, so you don't feel quite so "safe" but it got easier every single time and now I can walk down, not holding on to the rail, looking ahead. I regained something through practice, through brain exercise. Using balance.
It works the same for going up stairs too. And I discovered, I see more things too, looking up and there is a spring in my step, a bit of that elasticity of the brain must have travelled all the way down to my feet : ) The old saying, "use it or loose it" seems to apply.
Same thing for memorizing. I don't memorize as easily now as I did in my teens and 20's. It used to be so easy to memorize things for exams, now the idea of memorizing is almost frightening and I accepted that I just can't do it easily, until that show....now I try to memorize rather than say, " I can't memorize as easily as I used to" and so I don't even try. Still saying things like, "someday I will know my license number by heart". That has now changed. I know it, I know the plate number of our new car, (not brand new, but new to us) Memorized it on the way home from picking it up. Took me 5 miles at 40 m.p.h. driving.... so ladies and gents, how long did it take me ? We seem to just accept things we don't have to. Just working a bit at things, keeps our minds fresh and in working order, unless there is a disease or something. Good health helps too, eating food packed with nutrition, which rules out most fast food.
I am still working on learning the Chinese language, its tough, but that's good. I try to speak a bit of the languages I know as often as possible. Emery and I keep up with modern technology, we can use cell phones, remote controls, the computer, ipods and such without making statements like, "oh you do that for me, I don't know how to operate these new things"
Life is for learning, learning should never stop....Along with the wonder of wisdom, there should always be the freedom that comes with knowledge.
Here are 10 things I learned last week, what is your list for last week ? Share 10 things you learned last week on your blog. Facts, like you would have learned in school or how to do something. Its fun !

1. memorized our new license plate number

2. learned about "Freeze Plugs" or more correctly called, Core plugs on an engine.

3. learned that when ranches in Texas, clear out the brush and return the land to grasses, water returns on its own to the land.

4. learned that the first sighting of an emperor penguin was written about just over 100 years ago

5. learned that the most common photographed section of the Great Wall of China is actually

a replica

6. I learned that Nettle actually works as appetite suppressant.

7. learned that some mouthwashes contain twice the amount of alcohol of wine

8. I learned that According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, during the 30-month period before toilet training, the average child uses more than 5,000 disposable diapers. In one year alone, 3.1 million tons of disposable diapers are dumped into U.S. landfills, resulting in close to 1.5 percent of the municipal solid waste. And instead of taking the average 15 years to decompose, disposable diapers can take up to 150 years. We have created landfills now called "Diaper mountains"


9. that an amazing amount of information on people can be found at http://web.public-records-now.com/

10. I learned about Nålebinding (Danish: literally "binding with a needle" or "needle-binding", also naalbinding or naalebinding) is a fabric creation technique predating both knitting and crochet. It is still used in Iran to make socks.
Stairs I climb for exercise at the local University

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wisdom

"In strictness of language," says Paley, " there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom; wisdom always supposing action, and action directed by it."

"Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, Have ofttimes no connection. Knowledge dwells In heads replete with thoughts of other men; Wisdom, in minds attentive to their own. Knowledge, a rude, unprofitable mass, The mere materials with which wisdom builds, Till smoothed, and squared, and fitted to its place, Does but encumber whom it seems to enrich. Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more." Cowper.


We live in a world where knowledge is honored and wisdom is often ignored for the simple fact it comes with no letters after its name.
I would love to know the bits of wisdom gained through the life experiences of my ancestors, not the facts of their life. I would love to have a book with the wisdoms of my mother, my grandmother and great grandmother. I love that I have things they created with their hands, pieces of knitting, quilting etc but it was their mind that made them what they were, not the products of their hands. Their souls were not held in their crafts, but in their hearts and minds.
There are so many "how to" books available and many old ones are sought out in hopes we learn the skills of days gone by, but what wisdom has been lost because no one ever thought to write down what we wisdom was gained by life itself ?
What are you sharing more of ? How to do, or how to live, complete with the joy and gratitude of the lessons you have learned ? Both are important, both should be shared.
Solomon, Sulayman, was asked for whatever he wanted and he wanted wisdom. He was wise to begin with for choosing wisdom and is still talked about today, for his choice.
Think about what wisdom you have gained through life and perhaps write them down for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or just simply for yourself to see what you have learned that is far beyond knowledge.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Take A Walk With Me

Take a walk with me as I stroll across my beloved land, along fence lines, in the pasture, in the trees and behind the barns. Hands cold, eyes searching, being filled with peace and the joy of simplicity. Each breath I take a present miracle, each glance a holy experience where the very nature of God is clear to me. In the house, the camera lens fogs up in the heat of the wood stove, an ethereal sight