Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Evening

The shadows from the lantern swinging by my side cast strong shadows around me. I had to remember to watch the path ahead of me and not look at the light, looking at the light sort of blinds you from seeing the path. I like when the evening comes early and there is a need for the lantern when I do the evening chores . It even gives off a tiny bit of heat that is most welcome on cold nights when the wind is blowing all around the barn. Branches making a scrapping sound as they reach down to the metal roof of the milk house and sway back and forth. The cats followed me to the barn, anxious for their evening meal. They are getting fat. The goats standing at the gate, waiting for their grain. Cinnamon is first on the milking stand, and Licorice like the well behaved goat that she is patiently waits her turn. They know the routine. I sit close to the goats tonight, they are warm and I am cold. Neither one seems to mind me leaning close. I can smell the kerosene from the lamp and its a good familiar smell to me. One that stirs up fond memories of late night trips to the barn during kidding season and finding tiny goats, wet with the newness of life. Little miracles to me. The lantern hangs on the hook from the beam over head and lights all around me with the sweetest golden glow. Goats fed, and hay put in the manger. Chickens locked up and now just me in the silence of the evening, walking back to the house, lantern swinging by my side once again. The moon is out, just a sliver of a silver hung in the sky with two bright stars a bit above it. A perfect night. Now I am warmed by the glowing fire and it feels good ! I am thankful for the life we live. Thankful for the simplicity of it all. Thankful for all that love and beauty that surrounds me.
Yup, I still think life is good. God has richly blessed us.

Windy Day

The wind is actually howling today, with leaves flying horizontally through the air. The goats were in the pasture running after the falling leaves as if they were potato chips flying down from the heavens above. It was quite humorous to watch.
This fall wind feels a bit more like a winter wind. It's a cold wind that stings your hands and face. The smoke from the wood stove is dancing down to the earth and back up and around the chimney as if it were a whirling dervish. The howling sounds make me close my eyes and imagine the blizzards of my childhood. I never minded blizzards as a child, in fact my sister and I viewed them as great fun. No school the next day, always a cup of hot chocolate and on very cold nights my mother and grandmother would add the warmth of their fur coats to our pile of blankets on our bed. Until I was 6 years old, we lived in a big Victorian house was heated with coal and it was nearly impossible to keep that house warm. The bathroom was in the north corner of the house and it was always freezing in there. You didn't dilly dally in winter that is for sure. When we moved a few houses down, we felt so blessed to have gas heat that kept the entire house warm, unless it was 20 below with a wind chill to make it feel 50 below, then it became a battle with nature that was almost impossible to win.
In the house we live in, when we moved here, there was NO insulation, just walls made of 1"x12" boards, covered with wooden siding on the outside and sheet rock on the inside. It was cold and we so often wondered what life was like for the folks that built this house as there wasn't even siding or sheet rock on the walls. Just bat and board walls. Three rooms all in a row. It must have been so cold at times and so hot in the summer.
Today, we are toasty warm, wood stove doing its job, walls insulated, the attic all insulated too. Cozy as can be. Winter is on its way and we are prepared. Life is good, isn't it ?

The Wee One Is Going To Be O.K.

Thank you all for the prayers. Mei-Ling is going to be fine, it was not malrotation, the thing we all dread so much with her. At the hospital, she is on the computer as a high priority patient so they didn't have to wait at all to have her seen. They did all kinds of tests and x-rays and determined it was not malrotation but think it might be the stomach flu and or that she is still rather blocked up, so they upped her dose of laxative. Cook Children's hospital is such a wonderful place, knowing that Mei-Ling was rushed in by ambulance the staff knew that Melanie did not have time to grab the diaper bag and the babies clothes were soiled from being so sick. The nurse went out of the room for a bit then came back with a brand new, tags still on them, clothes from Wal-Mart for Mei-Ling. Its those little things that just make the hospital different. God bless the Nurses and the Doctors, the support staff, all those that donate so much for the children there and to all of you for your prayers for our wee one.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Emergency Prayer Need

The ambulance just rushed Mei-Ling to the hospital. She was vomiting up bile which with her is a huge worry since malrotation is a real concern for her. Please keep her in your prayers.

A Tiny Homesteader

Mei-Ling came to visit Grammie and Grandpa for a little bit this afternoon and of course we had to go visit the critters. She had so much fun chasing the chickens and the cats and yelling "goats" at the goats. She had so much fun, we just know she is a little homesteader in the making.

The Magic Of Christmas

Melanie and Casi have their Christmas tree up already and Mei-Ling is delighted in looking at it. She doesn't bother the tree at all. Just sits in her little chair next to it and looks at it. Since its Melanie's tree, it has lots of Hello Kitty ornaments on it . I think Casi has a few spider man ornaments too.

Simplicity of the day

Boxing up newly gathered eggs, feeding goats, admiring the changing colors of autumn, working in the garden, smelling the lingering flowers, watering and feeding the chickens. Getting a fire going to chase off the chill of the morning and the fun of finding places for the new pieces of pottery purchased yesterday. In awe of the quality of the weaving of a dish towel made by a child that I just had to buy .
That is my morning. Coffee perking on the stove, almost ready. Time to sit in the rocker, coffee next to me on the window sill, book in my hand, the heat from the wood stove warming my feet.

Inside and Outside

When I think about how my house is decorated, I try to keep in mind that my house is about a hundred years old and the outside style reflects that of that time period. So having a ultra modern interior would not go well with my 1900's shot gun house. Of course there is no science to this or no rule in society about having the outside match the inside but for me it works. Same as how we dress. Don't worry, I am not going to write about how I wonder if I should dress plain or not but at the same time, I was reminded yesterday at Homestead Heritage that dress does reflect where are hearts wish to be. Usually when we attend there I am wearing my usual attire of a long skirt or dress, this year I wore jeans as Emery was afraid I would get sick in the cold damp air as I woke with a sore throat that morning. I have had pneumonia half a dozen times so the family is a bit paranoid about the possibility of me getting it again. The last two times were life and death situations for me. Back to what I was thinking about...I noticed that in dressing the way I did sort of hid my philosophy of life from others, like modesty, old fashioned ethics, etc. Usually there is a nod, a smile from other women dressed simply, homestead like, a common thread that is easily identified in one another by the way we are dressed. Much like fellow bikers do when they see another person all dressed in black leather and looking a little rough around the edges. They can identify one another as having a common interest by the way they are dressed. There wasn't any nods and smiles of kinship of philosophy yesterday for me. It wasn't anything judgemental or stuck up. It was just that my outside didn't reflect what is deep in my heart. The clothes folks wear, lets you know something about the person. Just like a Buddhist monk or nun would recognize another monk or nun by the way they are dressed, or a catholic nun would recognize another nun if they wore a habit.
Or a chic fashion plate says what her interests are by what they wear. It's not a bad thing. It is self expression !
Steven and Priscilla easily recognized fellow Mennonites at the fair even if they did not attend the same church, simply by the clothes the women wore.
I saw a woman at the fair with LL Bean flannel lined jeans, the cuff rolled up to show the pretty plaid flannel. She had a peace symbol around her neck, a serious hiker day pack on her back and a homespun wool knit cap on. I pretty well could guess some of her interests in life. She had on good solid hiking boots too. I guess I would be disappointed to know she never once hiked.
The way we dress reflects our hearts, just as does the way we decorate our homes to some extent. They both reflect what we like in life. What is important to us.
Of course there can be fakes...the folks that dress a certain way, but its only for show and their hearts and actions tell a whole different story. An example would be a woman that wears a headcovering which signifies submission to their husband (father for the unmarried) according to 1 Corinthians 11 and yet is a nagging, pushy wife that is constantly finding fault with her husband and telling him what to do and how to behave. Or if unmarried, is a rebellious daughter. Something in that picture would be really wrong. That would be about like someone who dresses like a Biker and hangs out with bikers but owns only a moped ! You get the idea. Yesterday I felt a bit sad, having the outside not match what is in my heart in a community of like minded people. Made me think. Makes me more aware of how important self expression by clothing choice is.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Some Critters from Homestead Heritage

I want to find a calf just like the one in the picture. What sweet eyes.

Grand-blessings At Homestead Heritage Craft Fair

The grandblessings had fun at the fair too. The dress we made Mei-Ling was too big for her after her surgery weight less, so we will save it for next year. The weather was damp and drizzly

and not very warm.

Quilts At Homestead Heritage Craft Fair

All these quilts were done by the youth of the community. Beautiful work, with such attention to detail.

Thanksgiving Day

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. Dawn from On A Quest For Plain Living joined our family for dinner with her husband. It was wonderful getting to know her husband Robert too. He is a delightful young man. I had met Dawn before at the Mennonite church we used to attend. She is new to this area and has been visiting that church some and learning some about what its like to attend a plain church.
The children were here with their families, except for Melissa and James. We missed them so much. Holidays are so difficult when you can't be together due to distance. Nearing supper time, friends of Melanie and Casi's came by to say hello and I suspect to check out the pies ! Young men are such a joy to feed !
It was a day for Thankfulness. There is so much to be thankful for. I cooked and baked for two days so in a way, I was thankful to just be able to sit down !
Melanie and Priscilla each contributed to the meal and that was a huge blessing for me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day Before Thanksgiving Thoughts

This morning I woke with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, of deep thankfulness. Maybe in part to the holiday tomorrow, you know, on Thanksgiving you think about Thankfulness, but it feels so much deeper than just a holiday inspired thought pattern. I was thinking about how thankful I am that my children WANT to spend the day with us, matter of fact they can't imagine not spending it with us. All week my conversations with Melissa have had the same theme....wish you were going to be here...."wish I was going to be there mom". And we want them to be with us, we enjoy them. Like them, and admire them . Being able to be thankful for good relationships with your children is nothing to take for granted. I can quickly think of several families I know of that have strained relationships with their children and so holidays are not spent together. It breaks my heart. The reasons are varied...but many (not all ) are from poor parenting some where along the line. Parenting is not a do over. But you always have the opportunity to mend mistakes, make apologies for where you went wrong. Maybe you were a good parent in most ways but you have been too critical, nothing the child did measured up to your standards, which usually carries over into how you treat your adult child and finally the child just doesn't want to hear it and soon you have no more relationship than you do with your neighbor ! I guess this issue just breaks my heart because I know what I have with my children and its precious like Gold. It is a taste of heaven. It is how I can grasp even the tiniest aspect of how God loves me and how He loves me.
Yesterday on Oprah, one of the aspects of living a long life was in having family and long time friends around you consistently. Laughing with one another and being there for one another.
A support system. If I could accomplish one thing in my life it would be to help mend families.
Parents, its o.k. to admit you made mistakes, ask to be forgiven. Talk to your adult children about where you know you failed and then start over, accepting them with the problems you may have created for them. Create welcoming, accepting arms like the father of the prodigal son did , unless of course you have a sociopath kid or something. Sometimes great parents just have a child that is bent on self destructing. We so often are like that with our relationship to our father in heaven. Bent on heading the wrong way. He never gives up on us. Then, there are some relationships for all kinds of reasons that have just simply turned so toxic, that you need to really pray for a miracle to turn things around. With God's help, nothing is impossible. We all seem to know stories of really "bad" people that turned their lives around and become great preachers....God always welcomed them into His arms, no matter what they did in the past and God never seems to bring up the past in a condemning way. Mend fences this holiday season if they are broken down. Be honest about your part in creating problems and change what you have done wrong.
Maybe its time to make your own "Hallmark Movie" for the holidays.

Luke 15
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
1 Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
The Parable of the Lost Coin 8"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
The Parable of the Lost Son
11 Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20 So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son'
22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27' Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
31" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "

What an example we have in Gods love for us, accepting us over and over for our mistakes and shortcomings.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Goat Milk

Oprah was great today, all about the "Blue Zones" the places where folks live the longest. I was thrilled to hear this...." Sardinians also drink goat's milk, which is high in calcium and good for your heart. "Plus, researchers believe it could protect against Alzheimer's and heart disease," Dr. Oz says.Not only is goat's milk healthy, it's easier for your stomach to digest and is also good for people who are lactose intolerant. "It has tryptophan, that same sort of mellowing agent that turkey has," Dr. Oz says. "The fat particles in goat milk are much smaller than in cow milk, so you don't have to mix it up. And when you mix up fat globules, in some people it makes enzymes that irritate your stomach." Goat's milk is available in most grocery store dairy departments—just look for it in a smaller size than a gallon."
The entire show had wonderful information, but I the goat milk information was extra sweet for me.

Ora et Labora

In our homeschool, I taught our three youngest Latin, and one of my favorite phrases, to which my children will attest, in Latin is "Ora et Labora" . There is something so very balanced about prayer and work. It was the motto of St. Benedict.
For some time I have been reading with great interest the plans unfolding on this blog...
+A Voice Crying In The Wilderness+ I am not catholic but there is something very good to me about the idea of a catholic community with such goals for simple living.
The photos are wonderful and there is a sense of peace from visiting the site.

I Should Be Cleaning

I should be cleaning for the holiday, but instead I am making quilted pot holders out of some cute farm themed fabric I found this week at Wal-Mart.

A Year Ago, My Thoughts Were On The Same Things

This is kinda funny.... I was looking up which day we went to Homestead Heritage Craft Fair last year and found this post I wrote on November 24, 2007. It appears a year ago my thoughts were on the same things that they were this morning.
If you want to read it, just click the link below

Saturday Thoughts November 24, 2007

Chilly Morning and A Morning Ramble

It was 60 degrees in the house this morning. We let the fire die out early in the night which meant waking up in a cold house. Such is the nature of heating with wood. Its work to keep the house warm. Might seem a bit romantic to think of sitting by the toasty stove watching the flames flickering and it is, but its a lot of work. Kindling to gather, wood "crumbs" needing to be cleaned up daily by the inside wood pile. Then there is the constant need to bring in wood from the big wood pile outside. There is the work of keeping the fire going, and regulating it so you are not making creosote or getting it so hot you have a flue fire. But even with all that, I can't imagine NOT heating with wood. It costs us about $200 a year to heat the house. We use downed and dead wood, so our wood is cheap. We like using downed wood, its natures way and not just mans destruction.
So many mornings in winter the stove not only heats us but serves as a means to making breakfast, making coffee for the morning and later in the afternoon allowing me to simmer soup for supper.
It's not that I always enjoy doing things the hard way, although there is an amazing amount of satisfaction to this kind of life, but Emery and I believe strongly in living independently, not being dependant on utility companies. We like that we don't have to sit and complain about the rising costs of fuel. We like living with no debt. We like spending money on what we consider worthy causes. Not fattening the pockets of oil companies. We like not using fossil fuel any more than we must. Its the same for the clothesline thing. Its just one more way to not use electricity or gas. There is more we could do in that area. We are not perfect by any means. We have lots of room for improvement and much to learn.

We like growing our own food for a couple reasons. We know what we are eating and its better than paying for a gym membership. Along with the added benefit of being outside where you can think about life and it seems like a bit of a holy experience to work the land.
Many of my generation chose early on to live differently than our parents. Choosing to not be so bound up making money and seeking to have more things. Making the choice to live in a way that we considered more "real" less "plastic" was the term often used for the rather picture perfect life portrayed on shows like Leave it to Beaver. So often in real life, families looked great from the outside but the family was something very different in private life. So many of my generation wanted to be able to express themselves no matter how they were feeling and it seemed that you needed open communication for that in the family and you needed a dad that was not out working all the time to fulfill the great American dream and you needed a mom that was less concerned with keeping up with the Jones' for that too. I suspect many of my generation in the early days headed off for the woods so they could feel connected to the land, to life. To feel the earth under your toes and dress in a way that expressed what you felt inside and where there was not all the pressure to be a certain way. You had to do things the old fashioned way to achieve that and stay off grid, stay away from being dictated by the "17 jewels that dictate the rules" and by having things like big mortgages and lots of monthly bills, let alone feel the joy of "loving mother nature" by stepping lightly on her. The desire for this simple kind of living was born in part to the need to be yourself, not play the game of looking like the perfect family or have a family that is cold and not connected by anything more than having the same address. We all watched the movie Love Story and felt the pain of Oliver's cold relationship with his father and wanted to give our children something very different. That meant staying far away from the pursuit of material wealth. Some of us stayed on that path and some just followed in their parents footsteps after a while. Now, folks pursue the simple life but often for the simple reason of decluttering their life, making life easier by not having so much stuff after having to deal with it for so long. The reasons have changed since the 70's and that's no doubt a good thing in many ways. We are no longer needing to fight for a place where we can be real. It's the "in" thing to be "green and its the "in" thing to talk about living simply, as long as its not too complicated or makes you look odd. Its a good marketing ploy too now. Things simple and things green sell. Those words make us comfortable spending a bit more money than we intended. Some folks today live simply for religious reasons, thinking that if its old fashioned, then maybe its not so tainted with sin or maybe it will keep us from the sinful nature of modern life. Not so. Nice thought but our hearts are what keeps us on the straight and narrow, not a life without the Internet or a car. Might take away some of the temptations but is as old as mankind with or without modern technology. And hard work doesn't keep you so tired you won't sin.
Since its Thanksgiving time we might want to look back to the pilgrims for some interesting facts about the simple life and "sin".
An intriguing analysis by the University of Virginia found that 11% of the marriages at Plymouth Colony had births from premarital sex. The same analysis estimates that as many as 50% of the Pilgrims engaged in premarital sex. That's not something that fits the modern image of the staid Pilgrim.
Another interesting fact, drunkenness was discouraged at Plymouth, but beer was accepted as a drink for men, women and children. The daily ration on the Mayflower was a gallon a day for each individual. That's a lot of beer for anyone, let alone a child !

Governor William Bradford wrote frankly about some of the serious offences that took place during that time in "Of Plymouth Plantation." A great site for information about William Bradford can be found by clicking his name
Simple living is sought after for as many reasons as there are the people that seek it. The definition can be as varied as the application. Its really all about what works for you to keep your life going in the direction you want. I kinda think we all have an obligation to step lightly on this earth so its around long enough for generations to come.

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...