Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Look Back in Time







Melanie, Me, Emery and Melissa
Melissa and James right after their engagement
Melanie in the hollyhocks
My favorite picture of Emery taken in 1978
Me, not sure what year but maybe 1975
Melanie with a wig on
Steven holding his trophy for Irish Dance
Steven at a dance performance
Melissa and Melanie are in the middle dancing, Melissa is behind Melanie

Memories are Fun









I was going through my photo files this morning and found lots of pictures that just made me feel good. Here are some of my favorites from when the children were much younger. The one of Emery and Steven is pretty recent. I love how they are standing just alike and I didn't have to tell them to do that !

A Morning Ramble

The air is cooler this morning and there is a nice breeze....makes me feel hopeful that true autumn weather will indeed arrive. Pine cones are dropping off our trees in front. Landing with a tiny thud, bursting with seeds. I save everyone of them. Since the trees are young still, there aren't multitudes of them, actually only one of the three trees has pine cones so far. These three pine trees are my rather lame attempt to hold onto an old dream of mine of having a log cabin in the woods, the woods of Maine that is. That dream has taken me to where we are now, not in the woods of Maine, but to this homestead kind of life. I may not have my log cabin, but I do have so many other aspects of that life I envisioned over 40 years ago.
Maybe, life is what you make it. By the choices you make, right from the point of who you chose or don't chose to marry. Not long ago I was looking up an old friend on the computer. With those "people search" type sites you can find lots of people and if you wanted to pay a fee, you can find out all kinds of information. But I was just looking for what city this person lives in and then I could look up her address in a phone book. Much to my surprise, she was listed but with 6 last names ! Come to find out, she has been married nearly that many times. Made me wonder about the choices she has made in her life. Now, don't get in a tizzy, I am not condemning her, just feeling a bit bad for her, because there was a lot of pain in her life, admittedly she states that it was due to HER choices. She herself takes the blame. There are children involved too. His, hers, theirs, and more. Torn apart families. Divorce is always combined with pain on some level, and there is pain in staying with someone that is not loving. I count my blessings. I am thankful for praying friends that prayed for me to find the right man. One dear friend actually prayed for over a year that Emery and I get to know one another and get married. She told me only after we started dating. She said she prayed three times a day faithfully that if it be Gods will, that we marry. My family was not a personal prayer kind of family and I doubt it ever crossed anyones mind to pray about such things for me or for anyone else. That's sad isn't it ? From the moment my girls were born, Emery and I prayed that God would be preparing just the right mate for them and our girls knew we prayed that for them. I think that in life its easier to have a husband/wife that shares similar goals, has similar or the same value system. It sure has made life easier for us in that way. 30 years of deep and abiding love with our hearts and minds set on the same goals.
When I was outside, going about my chores, lifting 50 lb feed sacks out of the car and taking them to the barn, I mused that this is exactly what I wanted in my life all those years ago when I dreamed of a log cabin in the woods. My house isn't a log cabin but still I have the lifestyle that a cabin in the woods represented for me. Hard work, sleeping soundly, "living green" before that was even a phrase, living a life not all tangled up with stress and demands. Being satisfied to stop and hear the birds sing or watch the clouds float by. Knowing the beauty of a quiet evening with the fire crackling. Having children that were filled with joy and were a blessing and not a curse. And feeling something deep inside of you, a thing called faith. Faith is a feeling and it gives you peace in a world that seems to be running in the opposite direction

Melanie, resting in the sunshine

Life

Its so true that in good sound knowledge there can be found freedom. Knowing more about a subject can give us the opportunity to make better choices, to be better prepared and to feel less fear when we know the facts, especially if you follow the thinking that you don't worry about the things you cannot change and you change the things you can so there is no need to worry.
After the events of the day regarding the stock market yesterday, I felt the need to get a better grasp of just what is going on with the economics of this country, which is so tied to a global economy these days.
After reading, watching a few experts on the news and getting the facts, I feel better about things. Sure, we are having some serious problems, but what I read and heard made me feel that a "depression" is not around the corner. Deep recession, yes, but not another "great depression". The country has developed some sort of mentality that its o.k. to just buy the things you want, when you want them, doesn't matter if you have the money or not. When I was in my 30's, Emery let me handle the finances of the family, big mistake ! I had no clue and was excited to have a wallet full of credit cards, so I used them. Was thrilled that we had the money each month to pay the minimum payments. My girls each had closets filled with dresses, nice dresses too, expensive ones. I remember one time counting 80 dresses in each of their closets. I suppose I charged every one of them. We made good money, but I could live like we had even more. Got sucked right into the yuppie southern California life style. I didn't like that life style, but there we were in the middle of it. Peer pressure by some sort of osmosis. Needless to say after a few years like that, Emery had to take over the finances and work hard to get us out of debt. I had no relationship to the idea that this kind of debt can just grow by the interest alone. If you carry a credit card around with you, its so much easier to cave into the wants in life. Maybe something as simple as 2 yards of $8 a yard fabric, that you just "have to have" according to your thinking and then realize two years later, you haven't done a thing with that fabric. That sort of thinking leads us to roaming the isles of the home improvement stores, wanting a new kitchen, a new bathroom, or a new stove. Things we "want" but don't need. Ahhh, then it might just take us to the place where we "want" a new house, a bigger one, a better one than what we have. Sweet deals of nothing down, low interest (in the beginning). In no time at all these things can be like an albatross around the neck. Same for wanting that new car, that big shining SUV that drinks gasoline at such an alarming rate. That too becomes an albatross around our necks that we can't get rid of.
We may not ever see another Great Depression, but we sure should learn from this situation we are in that its o.k. to not have everything we want. What have we done to our nations young people by setting this example for them, and by giving them everything they ask for ? Have we prepared them to live in a world where credit might not be so easy to get a hold of ? Have we prepared them to keep from driving the nation into a depression ?
When we decided to break free from the use of credit cards, we also saw that we were on the way to raising some spoiled little girls. We didn't want that, it was a side effect of our lifestyle that we didn't see coming. That is when we took the plunge to head off to the mountains of Oregon, change our lifestyle for the simple life. Went from a big house with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms to a 2 bedroom cottage with one bathroom, wood heat and so far out in the woods that we had a bear den on our land and mountain lions were common visitors. Emery worked as a janitor in a hospital, made very little money but enough to live on. We got goats, chickens and worked hard to raise food in our garden. Happy as bugs in rug. Big change for us but we never looked back and haven't since. We moved to Texas for several reasons, some have shown themselves as divine planning. We wanted a longer growing season, easier living in winter, and certainly affordable. Emery makes big money these days, but we live the same as we did when he didn't. There is family to help, and some planning for the time when Emery can no longer work which we hope is a long way off since he loves his work. We feel blessed that things have worked out the way they have. It is a blessing and not luck.
We could have decided to put in a new fancy kitchen, or buy a bigger nicer home. I could carry around credit cards so I could buy what I want instead of thinking about what is a need. We could drive a new car or have central heat and air put in the house. But we choose this simple life instead. This simple life keeps a lot of fear at bay. That is part of what makes it so simple !

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Day in Photos







It was a busy but productive day.....
Roses in bloom
Our High Wheel Cultivator taking a rest after a busy morning
The Fall garden is coming up
The chickens are sure I have some food for them.
Our "girls", Cinnamon and Licorice.
Mr Buck, who is visiting us, got a bath and a bit of a hoof trim. Now if I could just fatten him up !
(he also got a new red collar)
Emery putting a new roof on the milk barn (he is on the ladder, just so you don't think he is about 8 ft tall)
.
.

Stocks Crushed

Sure, some folks don't like this kind of news, saying its alarming, frightening and lets just have faith and trust in God. Its good to have faith, but even Jesus told the parable of the 10 virgins, 5 were prepared and 5 were not. Its good to know whats going on, take steps to be prepared for what may come, but then we need to not dwell on it either. Just be prepared. Simple as that. No one ever made out well from sticking their head in the sand !
Here is the news from CNN today. I want to know whats going on, and be able to have an understanding of whats happening and then plan accordingly.
With a global economy, this isn't just a United States problem either.


Stocks crushed
Approximately $1.2 trillion in market value is gone after the House rejects the $700 billion bank bailout plan.
By Alexandra Twin, CNNMoney.com senior writer
Last Updated: September 29, 2008: 5:55 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks skidded Monday, with the Dow slumping nearly 778 points, in the biggest single-day point loss ever, after the House rejected the government's $700 billion bank bailout plan.
The day's loss knocked out approximately $1.2 trillion in market value, the first post-$1 trillion day ever, according to a drop in the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000, the broadest measure of the stock market.
The Dow Jones industrial average (
INDU) lost 777.68, surpassing the 684.81 loss on Sept. 17, 2001 - the first trading day after the September 11 attacks. However the 7% decline does not rank among the top 10 percentage declines.
The Standard & Poor's 500 (
SPX) index lost 8.8% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) fell 9.1%.
Stocks tumbled ahead of the vote and the selling accelerated on fears that Congress would not be able come up with a fix for nearly frozen credit markets. The frozen markets mean banks are hoarding cash, making it difficult for businesses and individuals to get much-needed loans. (
Full story)
"The stock market was definitely taken by surprise," said Drew Kanaly, chairman and CEO of Kanaly Trust Company, referring to the House vote. "If you watched the news stream over the weekend, it seemed like it was a done deal. But the money is being held hostage to the political process."
Stocks had fallen from the get-go Monday morning. In addition to expectations for the bailout, there was also news that troubled Wachovia had to sell its banking assets to Citigroup. A number of European banks also collapsed.
But the possibility that the House won't pass the bailout plan caused stock losses to accelerate.
"It's a huge disappointment," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank.
Although another version of the plan will likely go before Congress, investors are concerned that passing the bill could be a more drawn-out process.
"People do expect that there will be some plan put in place, but even before this vote, there was doubt as to whether it would be enough to avert the crisis," said Ken Kam, portfolio manager of the Marketocracy Masters 100 (
MOFQX) fund.
Investors thought they would be debating whether the plan was good enough, he said, not whether the plan would even go through.
On Monday afternoon Treasury Secretary Henry Henry Paulson said markets around the world are under great stress and that a plan needs to be passed as soon as possible.
And they are worried about how effective the proposed plan would be anyway, said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments.
"We are charting new territory in policy tools and implementation with this program and there's no guarantee that it will work," Gayle said.
"That a number of institutions haven't been able to last through the negotiations adds to the uncertainty," Gayle said, referring to Washington Mutual's failure on Friday and the buyout of Wachovia Monday.
Stocks are also extremely choppy and volatile as Wall Street moves to the end of the third quarter. Financial institutions and funds are expected to have their books settled before Wednesday, so there is a lot of last-minute scrambling, Gayle said.
Treasury prices rallied, sending yields lower, as investors sought safety in government debt.
Government rescue plan: Congress had supposedly reached a compromise on the $700 billion bank bailout plan Sunday, but the House voted against the bill Monday.
The bill is based around Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's initial plan to buy up bad mortgage debt from banks as a means of getting them to lend to each other again. However, Congressional lawmakers added provisions to protect taxpayers and enable them to benefit if the companies do as well. (
Full story)
But it was shot down, with lawmakers voting largely along party lines, with House Republicans mostly voting against it and House Democrats mostly voting for it.
Investors also remained skittish amid more bank turbulence - and banks continued to hoard cash.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world announced steps Monday to make
billions available to troubled banks.
Wachovia: Citigroup is buying the company's bank assets in a $2.2 billion all-stock deal that will see the company hold onto its brokerage business and remain afloat, albeit in a smaller form.
The deal calls for Citigroup to absorb up to $42 billion in losses and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to be responsible beyond that. Citigroup will give the FDIC $12 billion in preferred stock and warrants in exchange. (
Full story)
Wachovia (
WB, Fortune 500) shares began trading in the afternoon, plunging 81%. Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) fell almost 12%.
Last week, JPMorgan Chase (
JPM, Fortune 500) bought Washington Mutual (WM, Fortune 500), after it suffered the largest failure ever of a U.S. bank. JPM shares fell 15% Monday.
On Monday, regional bank National City (
NCC, Fortune 500) slumped 63% on worries that it might be next. Other regional banks dropped too. Bank of New York (BK, Fortune 500) fell 27%, Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB, Fortune 500) fell 43% and Regions Financial (RF, Fortune 500) fell 41%.
Big banks fell too, including Goldman Sachs (
GS, Fortune 500), Merrill Lynch (MER, Fortune 500) and Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500).
Market breadth was negative. On the New York Stock Exchange, losers beat winners 19 to 1 on volume of 2.05 billion shares. On the Nasdaq, decliners topped advancers by over five to one on volume of 2.88 billion shares.
Global markets: Worldwide
markets struggled. Asian and European markets ended lower after three European banks fell apart.
Dutch-Belgian bank and insurance giant Fortis was given a
$16.4 billion lifeline to avoid it collapsing. The British government nationalized battered U.K. bank Bradford & Bingley.
Germany's financial regulators and several banks stepped in Monday to throw a line of credit to Hypo Real Estate Holding AG in a multibillion-euro move aimed at shielding the No. 2 commercial property lender.
Credit markets: Businesses depend on the credit markets to function on a daily basis, and the absence of ready capital has threatened to stall the broader financial system.
Several measures of bank fears surged Monday, suggesting that despite the bailout, banks remain worried. However, as with stock markets, the freezing up could be an immediate knee-jerk reaction that is mitigated once Congress passes the bill.
Additionally, credit markets may have been more focused on Wachovia and the other distressed banks, than the bailout.
The Libor-OIS spread, one gauge that banks use to determine lending rates, rose to a record 2.2%.
Meanwhile, the TED spread hit a more than 26-year high of 3.58% before dipping back to 3.54%. The TED spread is the difference between what banks charge each other to borrow for three months and what the Treasury pays. When banks charge each other a higher premium than the U.S. government, that's a sign of fear.
The three-month Treasury bill, seen as the safest place to park money in the short term, fell to 0.34% from 0.83% late Friday. Earlier this month, the three-month bill fell to a 68-year low around 0% as panic gripped financial markets.
Long-term Treasury
prices rose, lowering the yield on the benchmark 10-year note to 3.58% from 3.82% late Friday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Treasury prices have been rallying recently and yields tumbling as nervous stock market investors have looked for safer areas to move their cash.
Other stock movers: Apple (
AAPL, Fortune 500) slumped almost 18% after RBC and Morgan Stanley analysts downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "buy" saying the consumer spending slowdown will hurt profits. (Full story)
A variety of other big tech stocks slumped, including Intel (
INTC, Fortune 500), IBM (IBM, Fortune 500), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500), Qualcomm (QCOM, Fortune 500), Cisco Systems (CSCO, Fortune 500), Dell (DELL, Fortune 500) and Applied Materials (AMAT, Fortune 500).
All 30 Dow components ended lower and all lost at least 3%.
Oil and gold: U.S. light crude
oil for November delivery fell $10.52 to settle at $96.37 a barrel, in the second-biggest one-day plunge ever. (Full story)
Oil prices had plummeted over $55 after peaking at $147.27 a barrel on July 11, as investors bet that sluggish global growth will diminish oil demand. But prices have seesawed in the last few weeks as the financial crisis has intensified and investors sought to put their money into hard assets.
COMEX
gold for December delivery rose $5.90 to $894.40 an ounce. Like oil, gold prices had also rallied during the biggest periods of unrest over the last few weeks
Other markets: In
currency trading, the dollar gained against the euro and fell against the yen.
Gas prices fell for the 12th day in a row, according to a nationwide survey of credit card activity.

First Published: September 29, 2008: 11:00 AM ET


Find this article at:

http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/29/markets/markets_newyork/index.htm?cnn=yes

Where Did the Morning Go To ?

It's nearing noon and I have just now come inside from chores. The morning flew by. First off it was the animal chores and then once again, sun bonnet atop my head, looking a bit like some character from an old story book, I was behind the high wheel cultivator making rows in the garden. Pushing the fine brown soil to the sides, just deep enough to plant tiny seeds. A neighbor child watching me from over the fence, her brown eyes straining to see me better, there is after all a pasture in between where she stand atop her child size 4 wheeler. She is just past toddlerhood yet she drives this thing. Rows made, I open packet after packet of seed and sprinkle these wonders of nature in the soil. After the seed has been sown, I go back over the rows with my hoe, delicately pushing the soil over the future food. I feel good that all our seed is organic as has been our land for nearing 17 years . Just writing out 17 years has me pause a moment, thinking to myself, has it really been that long ? Have the years slipped past that fast ? Seeds sown, its time to water the garden. It feels like such a big garden when I water it. So far from end to end. Its a good thing though.
Just before shutting the water off, I sprinkle some on the mint and lavender garden. Oh how I love that mixed scent of the two fragrances raising up from the garden ! Before things get too wet I turn off the hose and stop to weed a bit in this heavenly spot. Soon enough the job seems done enough for now and I busy myself with picking the best tops off the mint plants. Ginger mint, peppermint, candy mint, chocolate mint and orange mint to name a few. My hand over flowing with mint so I take off my bonnet and use it as a basket of sort, if I had my apron on, I would have used it, as I do so often when gathering eggs. Pulling it up into a nice safe calico nest of sorts. Peppermint tea is soon simmering on the stove, filling the house with a candy cane sort of smell. I think I will stop some by to Emery at his office, it will be a good refresher for a busy Monday. How thankful I am to have him work so close to home. Soon he will be even closer as their office is moving closer yet to us.
This life of ours is good, pretty near perfect for us. One thing is not perfect, having Melissa and James so far from us. Perhaps in time that will change as they hope it will as much as we do.

Counting My Blessings, One By One

Monday mornings seem to be a good time for me to think about the blessings in my life. As I go about my chores, there is a sense of getting back to business after the weekend and more time for counting those blessings that pile up so quickly in my life.
My list for today...

For God, never changing, and always patient with me.

For hope, hope is such a neglected blessing. We can all have it, and we can all develop it to greater heights and Hope changes how we perceive life in general. We so often forget to be grateful for it or see it for its true value .

For love, ahh love is such a blessing, to give it away as well as receive it.

For Emery, what a blessing to be married to such a godly man, whose whole life is centered around being a good man, good husband and good father and grandfather. 30 years of happiness and still counting !

For my children and their spouses and their children. Blessings each one.
For the love they show to Emery and I and their care and concern for us.

For our life on this tiny homestead, its simplicity and the order it brings to our lives

For good health, strong bodies, energy and that we never did the things that can rob a body of good health.

For singing birds right outside my window.

For cooler temperatures heading our way.

For the color of the sunrise this morning, such a bright orange.

For peace of mind and contentment.

For friends and extended family that enrich my life.

For knowing what purity of heart and mind looks like and sounds like and seeing its value.

For being able to find joy all around me.

For feeling cared for.

For our garden and its bounty

And For so much more,



Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lazy Sunday


It's hot outside, summer like. Not much of a breeze, actually next to none. Emery and I have been outside, sitting in the shade watching the goats chew their cud. That sounds like we might be bored, but we aren't. Its just that sort of day, when it feels right to sit and watch the world go by. We chat some, we say nothing some, and we talk about plans for building a nice workshop and maybe put cedar bat and board on the barn and milk house. We watched a big old lizard run up and down and around an old stump in the pasture. We watched some butterflies and the birds fly around. Not one thing Came in the house for a pitcher of iced water for us to share. Just a lazy day. We need days like this once in a while, to refresh ourselves and to rest weary bodies and minds. It's not hard to make hot sunny days, lazy ones. This September heat is conducive to being lazy.

Homestead Life is Never Dull, especially in Autumn


We have a couple hens that like to lay their eggs in odd places. Yesterday I found a broken egg, contents missing in one of those places. Later when I went to gather eggs, I found the same thing in one of the nest boxes and in the goat barn where another hen always lays an egg. There appeared to be some kind of unwanted visitor in our midst. It didn't take long for us to find out what it was. Last night after we got home from having Pizza with Steven, Priscilla and Elizabeth, Emery went out to lock up the hen house for the night as he does every single night. He came in saying he needed some help....two possums in the hen house and I need to hold the light so he could catch them. Young ones, but egg eaters all the same. They needed to be relocated before they grew up into bigger problems. Emery had the two of them in no time and was able to relocate them without too much trouble. While we were out there some skunk let loose and changed the scent of the evening air. We decided to make haste and get back into the house. Both of us had dreams last night about MANY young possums taking over the hen house. Maybe that qualified them as nightmares instead of just dreams !
There is always something that gives us chance to say "life is never dull."
The sun rose this morning so orange in the sky. Pumpkin color. A sure sign that fall is here. Leaves will start to turn brown with a tiny bit of color here and there. Texas is not a place of beautiful fall colors, more like dull colors. I do miss New England in the fall time. It will be time to give the woodstove a good cleaning and blacken before it begins another season of work for us. It will be time to change the furniture around so that some things are not so close to the stove as they are now and make room for the wood ring and give the kindling box a place of honor near the stove. We also need to put a safety fence up around the stove. Babies need to be kept safe from the stove. Getting ready for the cold months means some work needs to be done and sooner rather than later. It's not a good plan to wait until the last minute. My milk house barn needs a new roof before we start to get rain again and Emery wants to put in a dutch door into the feed room. Making life a bit easier for me. The children have all said the same thing, they wish we had such a nice set up when they were all doing the chores. Life tends to be that way. You have more money to do things AFTER the children are gone.
Time for me to get busy with the new day.....chores to be done.








Saturday, September 27, 2008

Recipe For Apple Pie Filling in A Jar

Here is the link for the post with the recipe I use for Apple Pie in A Jar

Busy-ness Can Be A Good Thing

Animal chores are first on the list (mental list) of things to do each day. Some times there is more to it than other days. Today was one of those "more to it days". The milk barn needed some attention and the feed area was messy from alfalfa "crumbs". A couple things were hastily put in a convenient place the night before, rather than in their proper place. I spent some extra time on "Bucky". He is not tame and he is in kinda rough shape. I want to put a collar on him so I can later hook him to a fence while I give him a bath and trim his horribly overgrown hooves. Well, getting a collar on a not very friendly buck is no easy task. I am taking it slow, having him get used to having me stand near him, that sort of thing. This morning I was able to lay the collar across his neck and he left it there. That is great progress. He seems stronger every day too. A bit of some wheat germ oil on his feed has helped too. After the animal chores, it was garden time. Weeded the herb garden a bit, watered it too, and the plants in the pots we need to plant in the ground this weekend. Watered the garden and toyed with the idea of making some rows to plant seed, but decided it was already getting warm and it might work better to do it when its cooler in the early evening. There is wash to be done and some shirts to iron for Emery and then pounds of little cucumbers on the table waiting to be made into bread and butter pickles. That has to be done today. So at the table I sit, chopping board in front of me and my favorite knife for cutting vegetables. My bread bowl, which is huge, is finally full of sliced up cucumbers. Full to the brim. The spices, vinegar and sugar have come to a boil. I carefully pour the liquid over the cucumbers and will have some coffee while it cools a bit. The jars are in a sink full of boiling hot water, ready to pack. The big black speckled canner is on the stove, water dancing up and down inside of it. Ready to go to work. It's just noon time and I have accomplished a lot already. But, more work waits. There are apples to can into apple pie filling and there is Harvest Bread to make later. This busy day, for me is a good day. Hands that kept busy, reap a harvest of plenty.

Bread & Butter Pickle Recipe
from the "Mennonite Community Cookbook"

30 medium sized cucumber (1 gallon sliced)
8 medium sized onions
2 large red or green peppers
1/2 cup salt
3 cups sugar
3 cups vinegar
2 Tablespoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon whole cloves

slice cucumbers in thin rings. Do not pare.
Slice onions in thin rings
cut peppers in fine strips.
Dissolve salt in ice water and pour over sliced vegetables.
Let stand for 3 hours and drain.
Combine vinegar, sugar and spices and bring to a boil.
Add drained vegetables and heat to boiling point. Do not boil.
Pack into sterilized jars and seal.


The Kitchen Table










Don't even know what got me thinking about it, but early this morning, long before the sun was up and long before I wanted to climb out from under the covers, I started thinking about Kitchen Tables and how they have lost their place of honor in the modern home. To get you started thinking about it, visualize "Little House on The Prairie" Table in front of the fireplace, meals served there, homework done there, pies made there, bread dough kneaded there, Pa read from the Scriptures from the head of the table while the children sat there. Even on "Leave It To Beaver", the kitchen table was the hub on the activity for the house. June Cleaver mixed her cookie dough at that table, set out milk and cookies for the boys when they came home from school on that table, meals were served at that table and some very deep questions were talked about right there. Even Aunt Bea on Andy Mayberry spent a good portion of her time right at her kitchen table, creating more than just food to put on it, but memories...pickles were made there and tea was served there. Same for the "Waltons" So much of life was around the kitchen table. It was a work surface, for baking, canning, sewing, home work, prayer and board games. Now, we have countertops for work surfaces and this new thing of baking centers, my how singular, no one can sit down next to you and chat while you work. You back is to everyone.
I so well remember my mother rolling out pie dough for the holidays at our kitchen table and I sat across from her and watched and learned. As children we always got a piece of the dough to form into some sort of tiny pie, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, folded in half and we learned to crimp dough with a fork that way. Baking the tiny creation and deciding we were "good" pie bakers. We watched our mothers and grandmothers faces as they prepared meals, saw their words come out of their mouths like golden bits of instruction. I could tell if they were teaching me something and I wasn't quite doing it right... their expressions would change or you could notice that stifled grin when it was really silly what I was doing.
Our kitchen table was the hub of our house....breakfast, lunch and supper was eaten there. We didn't have a dinning room until the children were grown. The kitchen was it. I rolled out gingerbread men with the girls there, kneaded bread dough, and sewed there too. Machine at one end and the cutting board at the other. We had school there and did crafts there. We sliced bushels of peaches there and sat down after they were canned, exhausted, sipping iced meadow tea. That table hosted lots of laughter when games were played and it was the place were many lessons were taught, life lessons where a tear might even have been shed. It was the place where friends of mine sat as we sipped coffee and talked, eating some doughnuts perhaps that were made at this very same table. We might even shell peas together as we sipped our coffee. It was that kind of table, busy, full of life. One time a friend of the childrens was over for a visit and someone came to the door asking for me, this little girl told them I was in my room. I laughed a bit at hearing that and she said, "well you are always there, so I figured it was your room ! Her house was not one with a kitchen table.
How did we get away from this wonder of the home ? Is it too hard to have a multipurpose item like a table ? Did women just want their own space ? I am glad we kept our kitchen table and didn't put in some Island. Remember, no man/woman is an island unto himself/herself : )
I say, bring back the kitchen table and I bet families would just be a bit more together.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What Would You Do If There Was Another Great Depression ?

The words, "another great depression" are spoken more and more lately. In general conversation, on the news and even from the pulpit. Its hard to imagine that such a thing could happen again, but the trend is there....the similarities between then and now a bit frightening. We could all chose the route of being an ostrich and sticking our heads in the sand and repeating to ourselves some sort of mantra, " I will not stress out by listening to the news, I will not stress out by listening to the news" and yes, that might protect you from stressing out but it sure won't show you the areas of the financial world to watch out for and look for places to make improvement in your own situation.
Last thing I read this morning was that the credit card industry is next to fall. That is scary with so many people owing so much money due to their plastic habit, and not knowing the simple fact that our grandparents knew, "you don't buy unless you have the money to". Sure there are emergencies and times of difficulty that we could not have planned for, but just buying because you want something, regardless of how much money you have or in these cases, how much you DON'T have or just spending on a whim, without thinking it through. Wondering, later if that money could be applied to an existing debt or to savings rather than to purchase it and have it become just "stuff"
that will later be put in storage, or be carted off to a thrift store or sold at a yard sale. As of April of this year, Americans total credit card debt is about $951.7 billion . Nearly a trillion dollars spent that people couldn't pay off when the bills came in.
So hearing on the news that credit card companies may be the next to fall is helpful, it tells folks NOT to get any more in credit card debt and do all you can to pay off your balances. Cut up all the cards you don't NEED ! The other day in line at the store, the woman in front of me was paying. Her credit card was denied, so she pulled out another, it was denied too and she proceeded to go through a stack of cards an inch thick until she found one that worked....what was she buying....Halloween costumes and a new fall tablecloth !
We have worked hard to live debt free and by debt free I mean it. No house payment, a mortgage is a debt. No car payment, car payments are a debt and no credit card debt either. Of course we are not young folk just starting out, so we have had time to reach these goals, but young folk can work towards this goal instead of keep spending more and more and digging a deeper whole that is almost impossible to climb out of. One time many years ago, Emery and I wrote down every single cent we spent for a month. Even if we bought a package of gum we wrote it down. We wanted to "plug up the leaks" on our spending. It was shocking to us. We had no idea there were so many little things we purchased, almost mindlessly, and when we added them up over a months time, it was a good chunk of change. A magazine here, a little toy under $5 there, a stop at Taco Bell just for a snack. A new gadget that promised to save time or make a better pie. A new kind of cleaning tool or new cleanser. It was shocking.
At our age, we are seeing friends that no longer have children at home, decide to buy a bigger, more fancy house, or take trips that they really can't afford and suddenly they are drowning once again in debt. They find themselves with no peace of mind.
Melissa and James are two of the finest examples I know of careful spenders. They are going to go far in life. They are to be admired as young people that keep their eye on their goals and live to reach them. No foolishness in their spending. I am so proud of them.
Melanie and Casi haven't been able to take a moments breath since the day they were married in order to even think about saving. God love them, they have had over 20 hospital stays to deal with in the 25 months they have been married. Love sustains them and they live very humbly. Young people can live without caving into peer pressure or the ads shoved in their face about what "you must have this or that in order to feel good about yourself or appear successful. "

Don't bury your head in the sand about today's financial situation. That doesn't mean you have to dwell on them either. Just arm yourself with knowledge and work to build up the weak areas of your situation. Prepare in case, and if nothing ever gets worse than it is now, you haven't lost a thing, you are just in a better position to do more later.

Cut costs, plug up the leaks, understand the difference of want and need. Don't feed depression with buying more. Don't think about what the commercials or ads tell you you have to have and don't try to live like someone that has more means than you do, you never know if that very person you are trying to be like, is on the brink of destruction because they are trying to live like someone with more means than they have .

Seeking


Somewhere along lifes pathway I lost touch with God on a personal level. I ceased feeling His presence. I know of course that it was my doing, I felt like His voice was gone. It wasn't that I stopped talking to Him, it was more that I was in a loud and crowded room and couldn't hear Him. I was reading so many things in this pursuit of truth, there was static all around me, noise, philosophies dancing in circles in my head and none of them had concrete answers. I never sought out an easier way to live or just to ignore God, rather, I was actually seeking to know who He really is, what He expects of ME....at this point in life I wasn't concerned one bit with what He expects for anyone else in life, just me. I want to get it right in this life, now, not later on my death bed. I have no desires to waste my life and finally try to make it right just before I draw my last breath. Finally, I realized that there is no proof of truth, not real proof. Sure we can feel something is right, but we can't prove it to someone, just as they cannot prove it isn't. Truth on this level is all about faith....I don't lack faith, but I wanted proof and the search for that can kick faith out the door. I am not saying it always does, but it can.
Recently I sat down feeling almost desperate for God to just hit me over the head with some sort of 2x4 truth stick so that I would know HOW He wants me to live. What does He require ? Is it all narrow and peculiar, or is it wide and expansive with just belief and faith as all that we need ? Tough questions really. I tend to wonder, if God wants us to do everything written in say the New Testament for Christians, then the walk has some definite tones that set you apart from much of the world at large today. Now, some will say....oh Christ only asks us to believe, simple as that. But I am not much of a gambler. Matter of fact I am not one at all. Say there is no God and I believe, well that's that. No big deal. But say there is a God and I don't believe, that would be a big deal. Same with the way we live our lives right now. Say you are a Christian and decide the New Testament is just an outdated, cultural thing full of things for that time and not now only to find out at the end, you got it wrong and it was meant for now too. Paul has plenty of rules, including that phrase about women being submissive. So how we believe, can be a gamble, and personally I think I am coming to the conclusion that I would rather live on the safe side and obey what is written. What do I stand to loose by doing so ? My pride and my rebellious nature perhaps and some of what we know today as fun.
God has not hit me over the head with a truth stick the size of a 2x4 telling me just how I should live. You know, that for sure, definite, no other options sort of thing. But, instead there is this presence, this ever constant arm around my shoulder. This tender touch sort of feeling that is with me always, telling me to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and when I pick up some book that offers a totally different path, it seems so foolish to me, there is now a clear understanding that there is only one God, one path even. Many different roads can take us to this path, but there is only one right road. I feel cornered sometimes, feel like kicking and scratching when I can see that God is calling me to a narrow road that doesn't fit in easily with modern society. I left that narrow path and yet somehow its always in my face, not in a bad "get in your face" sort of way, but more of a reminder of all that is good and its not one I want to see. I can excuse it for a while, thinking about the people, the faults, the errors that you can find along that narrow path. Shoot, I don't want to be like that, so its easy to turn and run, instead of seeing that people are people everywhere. We all fall short and we all need to mind our own business in that respect and just deal with our own shortcomings, take the log out of our own eye and never mind the splinter that we make huge in the other guys eye.
I have honest searching. Searching that hopes to find what it takes to get it right. I so often wish Christ would just come sit next to me for an hour and tell me HOW He wants my life to look like on the inside and the outside. To explain Paul's writings to me and tell me if they are relevant today. Everyone else that tries to explain, seems to have an agenda, a point to prove or to defend how they live.
Its coming close to Sukkot, the "feast of tabernacles" and so I watched the movie "Ushpizin" (Guests) yesterday. It's such an inspiring movie, and although its in Hebrew, you can find it easily with English subtitles, if you don't speak Hebrew !
The devotion to God shown in this movie by a penniless, childless ultra orthodox couple is nothing less than profound. You can read about this movie at http://www.ushpizin.com/
I have never seen this movie without crying. I have never left watching this movie without wondering about my own level of devotion. I want to know God like Malli and Moshe in the movie and not question, how is it we are supposed to live, not just in how we believe, but in the day to day aspects of life.
I want solid answers....I am weary from seeking them and finding only more questions, more than answers.
I know all the right little phrases that people say, just believe etc, but you know, hearing them doesn't do it for me. I need to hear the voice of God, even if its just a whisper.

photo, from the movie Ushpizin

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pajama Party




Casi worked over night last night and since Melanie has been having very low blood sugars in the night, about 25 to be exact, we had Melanie and Mei-Ling stay overnight with us. Well, wee miss Mei-Ling decided it was party time having her mom in her room all night and didn't want to sleep, just play. This morning she was ready again for play. It appears she is feeling better with the new medications for her infection.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sun Play




I love the way sun plays on things in the afternoon, beams of light changing what is ordinary and transforming it into something extraordinary. Today is just such a sun play day.

Sunday Blessings

Soft music, the gentle kind of music that makes you feel content with life... the view from the window as I sit and spin at the wheel makes ...