Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Do Goats Really Eat Anything ?

Well, it sure looks like they try !

Not Feeling To Well




It will be a quiet day for me, not feeling very well, some sort of bug or something. Took some pictures after chores and then decided to just do nothing the rest of the day. I love walking in the gentle rain and snapping pictures as I go.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Beauty of the Day


The first berry of the season. A tiny kitten, exploring for the first time. Flowers in bloom, colors bright against the stormy spring sky. This is what my day is made of, along with telephone calls from all three children, and a loving husband and one from my dad. New flooring in the hallway and soon I will reach the living room with it. One plank at a time, slow and steady. Old looking new flooring, it suits me well. I love old things, and the look of days gone by. I prefer the way things were done before machines and the way it feels to make things from scratch. I love my computer and cell phone though and appreciate my stereo.
Home made soap and hand woven linens delight me far more than buying them off the shelf in some fancy store. Big loaves of warm bread cooling on the window sill make me smile as do vegetables, just picked, still with dirt on them, filling a basket, waiting to be washed and cooked for the evening meal. The sound of milk hitting the bucket, foam rising as the bucket fills. A vase of flowers from our gardens, filling the room with a heavenly scent.
I love the simplicity of my life, the lack of drama. I look forward to a long evening snuggled up next to Emery on the sofa, lamp light flickering, the conversation easy. Life is good.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu in North Texas

It seems the swine flu has made its way into our neck of the woods, sending people into a state of fear and confusion. I was thinking how glad I am that I don't have to go out every day, and how blessed we are to have what we need here at home. So, if I want to be overly cautious and not head off to the stores or in other crowds, I can. The world is in such turmoil right now, financial woes that reach from end to end of the earth and now the swine flu with the potential to be a pandemic event, which we can only imagine how something like that would impact the world economic situation. Makes you wonder if God isn't trying to get our attention regarding our priorities. A good life is not measured by how much we own, or the size of our home or the make of our car. Its not about how many collections we have or any of that, when it comes down to what really matters, its always about how loving we are and how loved we are.
A little P.S. here, I do NOT believe God is punishing people with this flu, I think we make plenty of mess on our own, but I do think God can get our attention at a time like this when things are difficult.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Delight of Simplicity




This morning after chores I went from rose bush to rose bush picking the fragrant blooms before the heavy wind and rains arrive tonight. Stopping to smell each one and admire the way they grow and thinking about how loving God is to give us such beauty to behold.
I walked past the mint patch, so many kinds of mint, such a wonderful aroma.
Even though the mint is just one color and no flowery blooms right now, it has grown so tall this spring is full of delight by its wonderful scent. A beauty different than the roses but still beautiful. Same as the handful of snow pea pods I picked to put in the stir fry for lunch. Beautiful for different reasons. There is delight around every corner for me this morning as I go about the simple tasks before me. My footsteps silent on the tender grass of spring. Birds singing, wind blowing. Figs full size, just awaiting more ripening, I am anxious for their sweetness. I don't need to go to the mall for pleasure and eye candy, I have it all right here in front of me, in silence, in peace. I can see the love God has for me and feel His presence in the gentleness of the morning breeze. There is such delight in the simplicity of life.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Birthday Time

It's hard to imagine that Mei-Ling will be two on Monday. How time flies ! We celebrated her birthday today and she had such fun. Melanie had been practicing with her all last week to get her to blow out her candles, and she got quite good at it, but today with over 30 people looking on, she was just too shy and was not willing to do it, that is, until her daddy helped her out by blowing on the candle too.
What a celebration it is for us to have her with us and to be so healthy right now. She is our little miracle.
Life is good, celebrating it with friends and family even better !
two years ago
one year ago
the house ready for Mei-Lings party
The birthday girl
Elizabeth will be two in just 4 months time
Presents !
blowing out the candle
eating the cake, yummmy

Cheb Mami

Its a busy morning here at my house, Melanie and Casi are having Mei-Lings birthday party here today so I am doing some cleaning in preparation. I love music, world music and here is what I am listening to today. Cheb Mami has been a favorite singer of mine for years and years. I think Melanie has a pretty vast collection of his music. This in one of my favorite songs to clean by.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Busy Day and the Joy of Life


It seems the day has been one that keeps me busy. Company for supper tonight. Haystacks on the menu, easy, fun and tasty. A long time friend of Emery's from the farm days is in town with his wife. It will be a nice evening to chat and perhaps walk down memory lane. I love to watch Emery's face light up as he talks about days gone by. He is a virtual history book of wonderful stories and of the world events that happened during them. Emery has a profound memory and remembers all the stories his grandfather told him about his life on the farm and of Emery's Great grand fathers arrival in Kansas. We need to record these stories for the future generations.
Yesterday I got out a new memory game that I purchased for the grand-babies and sat with Mei-Ling to show her how to play it. Its for ages 3 and up, but in a matter of minutes Mei-Ling had matched all twenty pairs without any help from me. Proof positive that her mother and father spend a lot of time teaching her and playing is such a way that she sees that learning is fun. I see myself over 2 decades ago, being that very same kind of mother. It warms my heart to see my daughter having such enthusiasm and energy in mothering. How I love to see my girls cook the same recipes I do, that my mother did, that my grandmother did. It is the pure beauty of tradition and I see it in the way Melanie mothers, it is as I did, as my mother did and as my grandmother did. Teaching through play and every moment loving the task. Wide open minds ready to be filled, frustration warded off by ability and by the freedom that knowledge brings.
Giving a child attention chases away the need for temper tantrums and getting into things they shouldn't. Negative attention remains the child's last tool in getting attention from parents who are preoccupied or lazy.
Mei-Ling has been having such fun with her new play cloths, dancing with them, hiding in them, dressing in them, having them float in the breeze that pushes through the open windows. I love this grand-mothering. It is getting to do all the fun things over again, with new eyes, eyes that know so much more and even more amazing to see one more generation of my family, seek to give a small child enriching experiences. And since Melissa has given her nieces gifts of baby markers, paper, triangular crayons, books to read and such, I know she will be that same kind of mother that has been in my family for generations. There will be music lessons and reading early, and play, lots of imaginative play. As much as I have to do today, I find myself thinking of ways to make fairies hanging from a mobile, daisy crowns for tiny ones, butterfly wings sewn from gossamer, and wondering if its time to make the letters of the alphabet out of super fine sandpaper, cork and other such materials to be traced by tiny fingers.
Life is exciting, too exciting to be busy mopping floors today or dusting furniture. There is a whole big world waiting to be explored, for me, I get to watch the delight in my daughters eyes as she points out the beauty of nature to her little one, but I get to see it in Mei-Lings when I am with them. I get to hear a little person learning new words, do so many new things. I thank them all the time for letting me be such a part of this wonder and delight. The gentleness and kindness and loving compassion and undivided attention from both Melanie and Casi towards Mei-Ling is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, and they do it all without spoiling her.

Mei-Ling enchanted by the beauty of otters swimming by her at the zoo
Casi reading to Mei-Ling as he does nearly every night
Melissa, about the same age as Mei-Ling, full of exuberance for life
Melanie, just about age two also, content to keep her tiny boat far up on shore and fish for sand fish and be in pretend water.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

JEAN-MICHEL COUSTEAU: OCEAN ADVENTURES | Trash on the Spin Cycle | PBS

This is really worth viewing. Its a sobering video

Mei-Ling is not feeling well

If you think of it, would you say a prayer for Mei-Ling. She is not feeling very well and is a bit dehydrated. Poor little one. When she is the slightest bit sick, we all worry so much.

What Are We Doing To Ourselves ?

We watched Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures on PBS last night and we came away from that wondering what are we as a world doing to ourselves. It was a bit frightening to see how long some of the toxic chemicals stay in our bodies just simply by consuming meats and fish that have been in contact with them. Recently I saw where the beluga whales are coming down with breast cancer and that traces of chemicals banned in the 1970's are showing up in their bodies....it made me wonder why on earth are we not all being tested to see what chemicals are in our blood and is there a connection to what is in our blood and what diseases we come down with. Last night, Jean-Michel Cousteau and several others had their blood tested and I think they were all a bit surprised to see how much of two certain chemicals, one was toxic flame retardant, was in their systems. Long ago, when my girls were babies, I did everything in my power to have them sleep in pajama's that had no flame retardant in them, but the chemical is in so many things, furniture, carpets and more. To this day I refuse to buy clothing that has any chemical in it to fight stains etc. We even opted to not have scotch guard on our furniture.
Time Magazine asked Jean-Michel Cousteau this question...."What do you want people to walk away from having watched this documentary with?"
His reply....."The message is the fact that we are using the ocean as a garbage can by dumping things we don't see — such as chemicals and heavy metals — into the environment. Orcas are having problems coping with these toxins, and it all comes back to harm us — including in the food that we harvest from the ocean. So in the end, let's be very selfish. It's not the issue of saving fish and marine mammals, it's about saving ourselves."
Its time to be thinking about the way we live, the way we consume, and the way we dump all the junk we use.
I think we all need to step back a bit, live on less stuff, and yes, I have been saying that on this blog for over 3 years now, long before we hit this economic nightmare. We need to consider better ways to package foods and other consumable items. Take the cloth bag to the market with you instead of using those plastic bags. Recycle. Use less, grow a garden, even if its just a window box one. Melanie has onions growing in a window box, peas growing in a hanging basket, tomatoes in pots on her front porch. Every little bit helps. She doesn't have time for a big garden right now, so she is doing her part as best she can. Melissa is considering a new apartment and the first thing she said to me is, "mom, it has a porch that would be great for container gardening". No matter how busy or how limited your space you can small things to improve the way we are living on this planet.
You would be surprised at just how easy it is to give up certain aspects of a lifestyle when you feel committed to the reasons behind the changes.
Just take a look at the pictures from Wednesdays Oprah Show on the trash in the ocean and in our landfills and how much of it there is and perhaps you will want to change some of the things you do and cut down on the amount of trash you have.
We have one trash bag a week for the two of us and I would like to cut that down to half a bag of trash a week. I want to make some fun cloth grocery bags for myself to use in addition to the ones I use already, make it fun and memorable so I don't forget the bags in the car and end up having to use the plastic ones. Several countries have now out-lawed the use of those bags and some places are charging for them which of course cuts down on the use dramatically.
Quality of life is something I want to facilitate for the future generations, and I sure want to do what I can to live a long and healthy life. I suspect we all know in our hearts that we don't need all the stuff we buy and that our lives are overflowing with things that have not made us happier in the long run, maybe for the moment right after we purchase them, but look folks, a lot of this stuff all ends up in a landfill somewhere after we decide, we didn't need it anyway. Take a piece of paper and a pen and write down all the things you have purchased in the last two years that you have since given away or thrown away, deciding you just didn't need it. Now add up how much money you spent on that and then think about all the packaging and chemicals it took to make what you didn't really need after all. It's sobering. How we live effects so much more than just our own little circle.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Its Earth Day

There was a meteor shower early this morning, and Jupiter still visible in the southeastern sky. I was up before dawn to see them both. Saw Jupiter again, but in the time I had to sky gaze, not one shining ball of light passed my line of view. It felt like a good way to start this special day, looking up, looking beyond my own world. Thinking about how things all work together so perfectly when we take care of them. Later, walking barefoot in the cold wet grass, my feet soaking up the dew, stimulating my circulation with each step, I thought about what changes we could make to live more gently, thinking also about the changes we have made in our lives in the past 30 years. I walked past the garden, thankful for our organic, super fresh veggies and fruits we have available to us.
Clothes gently dancing on the clothesline, our only means of drying clothes. Very little new furniture in the house, and almost no manufactured wood products. No carpets, for easy cleaning and we created no demand for chemical laden carpets to be made. We opt for natural fiber clothing,most of which is what I tenderly call recycled clothing anyway, bought at yard sales and thrift stores.
We limit our paper product use and try to get recycled when we do need it. Last year I purchased two rolls of paper towels for the entire 365 days. We used one package of paper napkins, the rest of the time we use cloth for those needs. Small steps, gentle steps. We don't use fossil fuel to heat our home, but just burn downed trees, which burn cleaner than many woods. We drove a total of 10,000 miles in the past year. There is more we can do and there are probably things we do that are such habit that we forget we are doing them.
As I walked in from doing chores, I was musing over Romans 1: 20 "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." With this being the case, why wouldn't every person that believes this, want to take care of the very handiwork of God ? I have had so many Christians tell me that all this "green stuff" is akin to Communism (which personally I see no connection whatsoever ) but, more than once I have been told that, so some folks believe it. Pollution hurts us. Carelessness causes destruction of so many delicate life forms. We are dying from the abuse of chemicals and so aren't the animals, the very ones that God thought we should have with us on this planet. Ignorance and/or denial, the kind where you spend your life having your head buried in the sand won't make things better for us or any future generations. This Earth Day, think about what you can do to live a bit more gently on this planet of ours. We are the caretakers, and we are the benefactors too.
Melanie, Mei-Ling and I are heading off for a fun day of celebrating and embracing the concept of doing our part in caring for this planet of ours.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stress


“Stress is nothing more than a

socially acceptable form of mental illness”

~Richard Carlson~

Today I learned that a friend had died suddenly, 63 years old. Ate well, knew all about good health, and it seemed upon first glance that she took care of herself, but she was stressed to the hilt most of the time. Busy at work, worried about family, caring for others and forgetting to take care of herself and live by the rule..."don't sweat the small stuff, and its all small stuff".
Her stress is probably what killed her, robbed her family of more precious years. She would not be one to go to a spa for a weekend, or sit and relax. She was a devout Christian but seemed to miss the part in Matthew where Jesus tells people not to worry. It is a major aspect of a peaceful life, to not worry.
Admittedly, I work hard, but I relax with the same kind of enthusiasm and I meditate every single day. The deep breathing kind of meditation that slows your pulse to a snails pace. I don't worry very often either. Why, its not like my worry will change things. I love what the Dalai Lama said about worry...“If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.” Well there you have it, a recipe for avoiding the stress of worrying.
It bothered me a great deal today when I heard of this woman's passing. I think its the first person in our age group, Emery's and mine, to die from something other than cancer or an accident. Stress takes time to kill us, it builds to a toxic level, a deadly level. We all have the power to change being stressed. Its a spiritual condition to me, one where we try to do it all ourselves and leave God out of the equation. Its a control issue maybe. Time to let go and accept that life is not perfect, your children are not perfect, your house is not perfect, you are not perfect and for certain the world isn't. We can work on being better people but we can do that by letting go of holding on so tight that we squeeze the very life out of ourselves.


Melanie, very unstressed and enjoying the moment

Harry Has Another Encounter

3:45 in the morning we heard a ruckus outside our bedroom window and then heard Harry whimper and then bark as if we were being invaded by the Ancient Roman Legion. It took only a second to figure out what was out there. The window was open and you can guess what kind of smell invaded our room in a nano second. Emery got dressed to see why Harry was still barking. Emery knows skunks give it all, when they give it and it can take up to 10 days for them to rebuild their supply of "stink", so surely a few minutes after the skunk sprayed would be safe. Right out front we have some cinder blocks under the house to help curtail water run off when it storms, and didn't the skunk get himself stuck in one, tail facing out, and his head at the dead end of another block. The skunk could not turn around, and was frankly as stuck as Pooh bear is when he has had too much honey and tries to get out his window. Neither one of us was willing to grab it by the tail and see if we could pull it loose. Emery is quick witted, even in the wee hours of the morning. I had a large trash bag full of coffee grinds from Starbucks that I was going to use in the garden around the cabbage plants. Coffee grinds will soak up the nastiest of smells, so Emery tossed the bag, a bit open, by the skunk hoping to subdue the odor of this little late night guest. It seemed to help with the odor, but the problem of the stuck skunk remained.
After trying a few more things to see if we could scare this guy into somehow backing himself out of his tight spot, we gave up and headed back to bed. Harry would have to stink until morning time for his bath and the skunk, well we sure hope he figures things out soon and maybe looses a few ounces today and makes his way out of his tight spot. Not everyone has a bushy tail skunk sticking out into their driveway from what appears to be under the house. I suspect we may not have many people stop by for a chat today. That black and white tail may just frighten them away !

I was outside in my nightie, snapping pictures with my old camera, which happened to have new batteries in it, but notice I was not brave like my husband and stayed a good distance away.
He was still there this morning, hopefully by high noon he will realize he had better get out of town !

Monday, April 20, 2009

Found Something New, Applegate Farms Chicken Nuggets

When I find a product I really like I like to share it with my readers. Most of you know we try hard to eat healthy. I would not call us fanatical about our eating since we do on occasion go out to eat to a fast food place that sells tacos ! And I have been known to eat a variety of sugary treats a time or two, but there are some things that I will not compromise on. We will not eat stuff made with corn syrup, or hormone laced meats, don't eat pork, and stay clear of meats and dairy that are full of antibiotics. We try to eat mainly organic fruits and veggies.
Like lots of children, Mei-Ling loves chicken nuggets but they all seem to have some ingredient or another that we don't like, mainly its the chicken aspect of the nugget we object to, that has been pumped up with hormones and antibiotics and who knows what other things that I don't think we need to be eating, but especially Mei-Ling with all her health issues does not need to consume that stuff. Some of the veggie nuggets have so many ingredients in them and lots of preservatives.
So we wanted to find something she would like, and was healthy for her.
Now for my shameless plug for Applegate Farms Chicken Nuggets. We got some for Mei-Ling to try, she is a real fan of chicken nuggets so if she liked them, we knew we had come upon something great. Sunday when she was visiting I made some for her and she ate 3/4 of a box all by herself. Mei-Ling daintily dips hers in ketchup. This tiny girl has a good appetite ! I tried them too and honestly they were fantastic. Not the least bit chewy, lots of flavor too. They are for sure a new family favorite and will be on my shopping list each week. I really like them too.
I believe in supporting companies that are trying to do it right. I wrote about Applegate Farms before on my blog regarding their Turkey Bacon You would think I owned stock or something in the company but I don't, I just like their products. Simple as that.

Play Cloths

When my girls were little, they had several silk cloths to play with, to use their imagination with, dress up in, make tents with, wrap dolls in, all sorts of fun things.
Yesterday when Mei-Ling was over for a visit, she was wrapping up in a blanket then in a small woven rug, that had fortunately just been washed. I realized it was time for Grammie to get some play cloths for the girls to play with when they come over. Play cloths are as versatile as the child's imagination.
Emery had to go to the neighboring towns Wal-Mart and its one of the few Wal-Marts around here that has a vast amount of fabric, lots of $2 a yard. I found several fun fabrics for play cloths for the grand-babies to play with when they come over. Most were $1.50 a yard and 60" wide which makes for a good size cloth to play with. The rainbow fabric was a bit more, but oh so perfect for little girls imagination !

Einstein said....“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.”
and, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
and, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”
and,“and finally....“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

While I was at Wal-Mart I found this cute cotton for $2 a yard that will make a perfect apron to wear while gardening. It was 50 % need and 50 % want !