Saturday, January 31, 2009

Meet Harry




Meet Harry, the newest member of our family. Harry came to us by way of the local animal shelter and I knew the moment I saw him on their web site that I had to take a look at him. I love Irish Wolf Hounds and remember with such fondness our purebred wolfie named Killian. He was something else, people were frighted by him for his size but he was nothing but a gentle giant. Emery never seemed to appreciate his size or how he would put your whole face in his mouth as a sign of affection ! Killian made the house shake when he laid down on the floor, o.k. maybe a slight exaggeration there but he was huge, 7 ft tall when he stood on his hind legs and weighed a good 150 lbs or so. I loved that dog. It was heartbreaking when he left us.
Harry is a good compromise for us, he looks and acts like a wolfie but he is not nearly so big. He is perfect for us, loves the animals, loves to ride in the car, is well mannered and is a bit on the lazy side, so no jumping etc. Prefers to just lay on the floor and sleep or be petted.
Welcome to our home Harry !

The Peace of the Morning


Pulling on my red rubber boots I sigh, there is a crack running 2 inches long across the back, just above the heel. I love these boots for their color and their faithful service more over a decade. Now, they need to be retired. I have black wellies, serviceable for certain but they are not RED !
The screen door bangs behind me as I step onto the porch, screen doors should slam in their own particular way, so we always remember the sound. Its strange but people remember a slamming screen door with a funny kind of fondness. I understand it but have no explanation for this emotion. Birds are in all the trees, flashes of color catching my eye. A squirrel or two squawk loudly at me as I pass under a branch they feel the need to defend. The garden soil beckons me to work it, to turn it and to plant onions and potatoes. The air is soft and growing warmer by the moment. It feels spring like and full of energy and hope. The goats call to me, both with swelling bellies. Babies due in three weeks for one and four weeks for the other. Soon my mornings and evenings will once again demand more of me. Milking chores add a lot of work. The reward of a pail of fresh white milk, is so worth the work. Cheese will be made from it. It will fill tall glasses and some will be used in soap making. I will sit quietly in the barn twice each day, whispering to the goats as I milk them, leaning into their sides, I feel a fondness for each one for what they give or more for what they allow me to take from them.
There will be kids out there soon, waiting for bottles, eager and so cute. I am anxious for my grandbabies to see new kids and pet them and learn to love animals and be gentle with them and express kindness with their tiny hands as they touch the animal babies.
Grain now in the feed dish attached to the stanchion, Cinnamon is anxious at the gate, she eats first, then Licorice. Licorice is a slow eater so she is second. Cinnamon is done in no time at all.
The cats waiting for their food, climb the wooden rails, pacing with impatience. They make me smile. I look out the barn door, not a cloud in sight, only beautiful blue. A pair of hawks circle above me and cry at one another. A language all their own. Chicken house is next on my stop of chores, but a patch of shepherds purse catches my eye. I gather some to make into a tincture later today. Kidding season is a good time to have some on hand. I smile thinking about how many times my children have picked shepherds purse when they cut themselves. Squeezing that tiny purse part of the plant on the wound, stopping any bleeding right away. I am glad they know such things. There is still mint growing green, winter did not send it hiding. I decide to pick some for tea this morning, sweetened with agave nectar. It feels as if this morning I am moving through time softly and with tender steps. There is nothing but peace in my life on this fine morning.
Life is good.

I Hunger and Thirst After More than Just Living

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
Psalm 42:1&2

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Wonder of The Day

There is soft soothing music playing, the air misted with the fragrance of Ylang Ylang and Cinnamon. The sunshine through the windows creating wonderful, amazing shapes on the floor and wall. A nearly inaudible tinkling of the wind chimes hanging from the corner of the front porch.
Comfy clothes, tie dye socks. Tea sits in a delightful hand made mug with a dragon fly on the side and a wonderful spiral in the bottom of the mug, made with the perfect touch of the potter. Its always a pleasant sight when the tea is gone, this swirl that makes you take an imaginary walk around it. I once found a large spiral made from flat rocks on the river bank, a random act of creativity I am sure. I walked it, carefully and then the children followed. We laughed about how we had to retrace our steps so we could unwind from this little journey. Sitting on the huge rocks that line the banks of this wonderful river, we looked at this spiral in the sandy earth. The colors of the rocks, outstanding in a visual way even though the colors were just slightly different from the water and the river bank.
This little mug, with its spiral bottom, given to me by my dear friend Debbie, purchased at some Native American event she attended. took me to this river bank once again.
There is so many opportunities in one single day to find wonder. The kind of wonder that is found in the word wonderful. We need only look deeply. Stop for a moment. Head outside and look around or be mindful of the exact moment we are in.
Life is wonderful !
"If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change."
~Buddha~
"If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life."
~Rachel Carson~
"People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh~

The Hardest Thing In Life, but the most important

No matter what path we chose to travel, by what name the road bears, by what doctrine we call our own, the most difficult task remains the same, how to be compassionate to all, even those that rub us the wrong way, say unkind things to us, wear dirty cast off clothing and beg on the street corners or perhaps sit high in penthouse homes with more money than we could ever imagine.
It is so easy to talk badly about those that do us wrong, who slap us in the face not in literal fashion but in deed or word or gossip. Why is it that we find it so easy to only love the lovable ? Why is it that although I love the teachings of Jesus and believe them, I don't strive more to have a heart full of compassion for all ? I know by the state of the world, that I am not alone on this. We even find excuses and use certain verses to explain why we shun or use words like dislike for those who are not to our personal standard of correctness ! We decide rather than be Christ like and love everyone, its just easier to judge someone unfit to receive our compassion, because after all they do this or that which is not according to the rules....but just think, our even thinking that is breaking one of the two most important commands in the Bible, "Love your neighbor as yourself ". We even use phrases like, "they are nuts", to defend why we don't act loving to someone that is not up to our standards of behavior. I realize that there are folks out there that behave badly and there are times when its just best to not have anything to do with them, but that does not mean we should fail to show compassion in how we speak about them or even think about them.
We can so easily dress the part, attend church 4 times a week, look pious, sing hymns, never turn on a television set, eat only this or that, celebrate all the holy feasts, not have a Christmas tree or an Easter egg, but we find it so hard to have the mind of Christ and a heart full of love and compassion like we are told.
I want to make it my new years resolution to be more committed to have a heart full of love, to have kind words on my lips and in my heart. To be compassionate even to those folks that just push all your buttons. The very ones that brag, the ones that are full of jealousy, the ones that say mean things to us, the ones that mutter under their breath but loud enough to be heard, the ones that lie, the ones that steal, the ones that are selfish, the lazy ones and the self righteous ones too.

Ephesians 4: 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

A Very Generous Jack Frost

This morning the world looked dipped in sugar, sparkling in the sun. I feel so very blessed to have eyes to see this and a camera to capture it. The early morning came with freezing fog and what a beautiful footprint it left.
As I wandered around this morning, looking at the profound beauty, I couldn't help but think of this quote I learned so long ago...."Nature and revelation alike testify of God's love. Our Father in heaven is the source of life, of wisdom, and of joy. Look at the wonderful and beautiful things of nature. Think of their marvelous adaptation to the needs and happiness, not only of man, but of all living creatures. The sunshine and the rain, that gladden and refresh the earth, the hills and seas and plains, all speak to us of the Creator's love."
~Steps to Christ~
Our area is loaded with fossils and its often as simple as just looking down to find one. I found this one in Melanie's driveway yesterday.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mei-Ling has a cold

Melanie came over to do some sewing this morning and Mei-Ling was looking a bit sad because she has a bad cold and didn't really feel much like playing. Grammie had to snap a picture of course as she gave me that look that says, "I don't feel good".

Ice Everywhere






We woke to an ice covered world. Colder than cold temps that made me rush through my chores. Gates frozen shut, chains that would not move, water buckets froze solid, requiring some serious kicking to break free . I am so thankful for the heat of the wood stove and the comfort of a warm home. The goats were thankful for a barn full of hay to bed down in. They looked so cozy this morning when I went out to feed them. Seeing them settled in giant nests of hay.
It is a perfect morning for a steaming mug of hot chocolate with my breakfast of hot cereal.
Life is good. Emery does not have to go to work until the ice starts to melt, the same for Casi. Melanie and I decided to skip walking this morning, its a curl up with a book sort of morning.

The temperature
The hex sign on the barn, catching the morning light
Leaves dipped in ice
Frozen paperwhites
The window of the milk house that had the marks of Jack Frost
Juniper berries
The garden produce on ice
A neighbor boy, in shorts mind you, riding his bike down the ice covered hill. Right after I snapped this picture from the warmth of my living room, he fell right on the ice, got back up and rode again down the hill. Must have some thick blood running through his veins. I was cold watching him !

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Meditation, what is your reaction to the word ?

I meditate, and often. Complete with incense, silence and sitting on the floor. I guess I meditate in the stereotypical form. That frightens some folks who are very set in their mindset, filled with fear they will turn into some cotton gauze wearing guru. Prayer and meditation go hand in hand for me. A quiet time, set apart, silence that allows you to hear that small still voice. We all need to withdraw from the ordinary, the busy-ness of life and find that quiet in our mind where we can find that place of peace. In the beginning stage of my meditation time, I reflect on the day, or this time in my life, the things that challenge me, try me, pull me away from what I know is the direction I need to be heading. It is a time where I get back on track, reflect on what trips me up, and then look deep into my heart and see the way I should be looking at things. Am I angry ? Am I jealous of someone ?
Am I loosing sight of being compassionate ? Is apathy filling me ? If so, I consciously seek to gain a better attitude, I pray for vision and help. But without this quiet time, this pulling away from the busy-ness, my vision is so limited, so filled in by the pressing in of what is happening around me and to me.
Don't be afraid of the word meditation, its a wonderful preface to prayer time.

The photo is of the wonderful lotus candle holder that my best friend Debbie gave me for Christmas this year. It is lighting a dark corner of the room on this cold icy winter night

The new ABC show...."True Beauty"

I need to write about this today...its a bit like putting a bandage on a very fresh wound to stop the bleeding.
Emery and I have been watching the new television show called True Beauty. It was on last night and it struck a deep and personal cord for me. It's not a history making show but there is something very profound about being judged for whats on the inside, where our hearts are. What others see in our actions. There is food for thought in each show. The web site for this show says..."The gorgeous contestants assume they're being judged solely on their outer appearance. They're only half right; outer beauty is one component the judges are looking for, but contestants are also being evaluated -- unbeknownst to them -- for their INNER beauty as well when they're put through scenarios and situations that require them to make moral decisions." I guess for me, it reminds me a bit of those folks that although not concerned so much with their physical beauty, but view their clothing as mirrors into their hearts. They don't always match ! I have known some women that wear dresses to their ankles, cover their heads yet say things like, " I can't stand this or that person". Or " I hate the way they do this or that". What a strange thing for a follower of Christ to ever say ! You might even meet a woman or two that wears a headcovering as a sign of submission but who continually hen peck their husbands, telling them every move to make, leaving a shaking shell of a man in their wake. Its difficult to see such an ill match of inside and outside. I am not expecting perfection in anyone. and I am not trying to be judgemental here, but frankly, its not judging, its seeing it as it is, for what it is. Its calling a spade a spade. Its seeing the obvious. Its the "fruit of the spirit".
I have known folks that dress like homeless folks that have the hearts of saints, whose deeds far surpass the outside and that is like so profoundly beautiful ! The man that gives the shirt off his back or the poor person who gives gifts that mirror the story of the widows mite Mark 12:42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”
Both hypocrisy and beauty that is "only skin deep" are offensive to most folks and I am sure to God.
At the pearly gates, I suspect we might all be a bit surprised at who gets into heaven. God could care less about whats on the outside compared to what is on the inside. And more than our dress, our deeds are what tells the nature of a persons heart. .
The commands we are given to govern our lives by are these...Matthew 22:36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
I guess the more you love yourself, the more you should love others !
What a wonderful world we would have if our hearts were full of love for others and not filled with resentment, jealousy, greed and unkind words.

A Prideful Heart

This morning I was thinking about how damaging a prideful heart can be, not only to the one that carries it within but to those around them. Having a prideful heart makes a person defensive, say unkind things, rally support from others to be on their side, and turn loved ones against one another. It can even split families apart.
Often times what appears as a prideful heart is born from the complete opposite, a feeling of inferiority which manifests itself in a defensive mode.
A simple comment from someone can suddenly seem like an attack on how we do things if we are feeling inadequate or feeling a bit lazy. Humility and openness can change all this negativity we might feel into something good. It will keep relationships healthier and open up a place within our hearts where we can actually feel good.
Having pride in the way we do things and the dedication we have to the task at hand, is not the same kind of pride we see in a prideful heart.

Chinese New Years




Last night our family along with friends celebrated Chinese New Years at our favorite Chinese Restaurant. What fun we had ! Fortunately the ice storm held off so everyone made it home safe and sound.
Melanie made a flower arrangement for the owners of the restaurant complete with a dragon !
The babies had coloring pages with an Ox on them, since its the Year of The Ox to keep them busy while waiting for their food.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A New Favorite

A quick trip into town had me wanting something warm to take the chill off. I think I have found a new favorite thing, Starbucks London Fog Tea Latte. Its pure delight. Here is how this drink is described on the Starbucks site "Full leaf black tea with citrusy Italian Bergamot and a hint of lavender. Sweetened with vanilla syrup and topped with steamed milk and velvety foam." Tastes like a really nice Earl Grey to me. Now, home by the fire with a good book, London Fog tea latte beside me, its just pretty close to a perfect day.

Keeping Love Alive

At my age, you see lots of people you know in relationships that seem to have grown cold. Evenings spent in separate chairs instead of curled up together on the sofa sharing a movie or just chatting. There are often cold empty spaces in between two people who once didn't know where one began and the other left off. Love needs to be fostered, to be nurtured, cared for.
When is the last time you left a love note on the pillow, or in a pocket ? Maybe, even taped to the steering wheel of the car to be found first thing in the morning. If love has grown cold, pretend it hasn't. Make a list of all the reasons why you married this person in the first place and then look for those same things, they might be just hidden under the mantle of responsibility or under a layer of dust from not being moved.
There is not a single night that Emery and I don't sit cozy together on the sofa, holding hands, me leaning into his shoulder, giggling at silly things, or discussing what we are watching on television or simply just talking about the day and the direction of our lives in this new time for us.
There are always notes for one another to be found and sweet deeds done with the anticipation of the joy it will bring to the other. There is kindness and shared memories that make us smile and remind us of the how and why we still hold hands and steal kisses from one another. There is patience and appreciation for one another and tenderness that can be felt in a look across a crowded room. Don't ignore one another and put all the emphasis on yourself. Cherish your love. Cherish the one you love.
30 years has only made this love of ours better, more alive, deeper, more compassionate, and so safe to be just who we are with one another. There are still butterflies that live in our stomachs that flutter when we see each other walking towards one another. Reach for a hand to hold, sit close together, giggle at silly things and share your hearts together. Remember those things that made the stars dance in your eyes in the beginning and what butterflies in your tummy feel like when you saw your loved one walk towards you in the newness of love. Keep dating, even if you have to bring the children along. We did and it has paid off in so many ways. Our children know what true love looks like. We set an example.
Its worth it.

Emery and I
Melissa and James
Melanie and Casi
and three of my favorite pictures from a small book of poems by Dick Summer that taught me early on what kind of love I wanted in my life.