Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Carrot Picking Day

Mei-Ling was over for a visit and helped me with chores this morning, including carrot picking.
I watched as she wandered about in her wee lavender boots, talking to the goats, picking mint leaves, helping in the garden, playing in the dirt, hugging the cat, gathering eggs in the hen house and just exploring the big world around and uninhibited. It's how I feel too, free to explore all that is in my simple little world that never needs to be big and expansive for me. I am sitting here at the computer, smelling the wonderful scent of mint tea brewing in the kitchen, made with mint just picked 10 minutes ago. A pile of warm biscuits sit on a plate on the table, tiny hands flattened the dough and cut them out, placing them with care on the baking sheet. "Let me try, Mimi" and I did.
This is the life I love, simple, at home, content and full of awe for the wonders of creation all around me. And best of all, stress free.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Getting My Groove Back

I am not much of a movie goer, think I have gone to the theater to see a movie 5 times in my 31 years of being married, so I am not much of a movie expert, but seems to me there was a movie about someone getting their groove back and although I have no idea what that movie was about, I can relate to the subject of getting ones "groove" back, which I am hoping means to get ones yest for life back.
For the past couple of years I have been struggling with an under active thyroid. Took synthroid for a bit but it gave me chest pains so I stopped. Tried about 100 different natural remedies to no avail so when I went to the Doctor about my knee, I mentioned my symptoms, the most serious one being, total lack of enthusiasm. I think my daughters both worried I was depressed, but that wasn't it, it was more like being too tired to do anything or care much about things. I was so tired, so worn out. Ate like a bird, lost no weight, was cold and shockingly the blood work also showed my cholesterol and triglycerides were high. I eat healthy and almost NO meat and am careful about how much fat I consume and what kind of fat it is. I nearly cried hearing about my cholesterol but my Doctor kindly pointed out that this is just one more aspect of hyperthyroidism and expects it to return to what it normally after taking the thyroid medication. Understandably, taking a new thyroid medication made me a bit nervous, after all chest pains were no fun. Our Doctor is a wonderful physician, a fine Seventh-Day Adventist Doctor that is just as comfortable with many natural remedies as he is with cutting edge medicine. He put me on Armour Thyroid and within a couple days, I felt changed. I feel like a new woman. My enthusiasm has returned, my energy is way up and I just feel better.
Which in turn takes me to the place I love the most, but lacked interest in for a bit of time...the homestead life, simple living, working in the soil, seeing the world through childlike vision and happily living spherically, in many directions but all with the same goal in sight.
This morning I was up with the sun, milking goats just as the sky turned from dark to light.
I felt energy and joy as I watered the rose garden and worked in the vegetable garden, pulling weeds, stopping every once in a while to listen to the birds and try to identify them by their song before I found what tree limb they were singing from. Its now 9 am and there are two loads of wash dancing in the morning breeze, it feels good to have my life back. I stood at the clothes line fingering a handwoven dish towel, looking at the weave, admiring the beauty of the work and thinking about how our lives are so much the same and glad that every single row helps create the beauty of the finished product.

Life's Weaving
Life is but a weaving
between my God and me;
I may not choose the colors,
He knows what they should be.
For He can view the pattern
Upon the upper side,
While I can see it only
On this, the under side.
Sometimes He weaveth sorrow,
Which seemeth strange to me;
But I will trust His judgment,
And work on faithfully.
'Tis He who fills the shuttle,
He knows just what is best;
So I shall weave in earnest
And leave with Him the rest.
At last, when life is ended,
With Him I shall abide,
And I may view the pattern
Upon the upper side,
Then I shall know the reason
Why pain with joy entwined,
Was woven in the fabric
Of life that God designed
~Author Unknown~

Monday, May 24, 2010

Feels Like Summer

The past few days have felt more like summer than spring. Our temperatures have been in the low 90's, with high humidity. Today I had to water the garden since no rain has fallen in the past few days either. Tomatoes are hanging heavy on the vines, and the fruit trees are full of peaches, plums, apricots and figs. I noticed lots of tiny pears on the pear tree too.
My knee is nearly healed which means I can get back to working in the garden, so long as I remember not to over do it.
My friend Debbie is here visiting for a couple weeks which should help keep me from spending too many hours working in the garden since we seem to want to visit more than work. We have been best friends for nearly 50 years.
Yesterday we had a wonderful impromptu afternoon tea....Mei-Lings idea. She loves taking tea and even helped set the table in the living room for me. It was nice having friends and family gathered around sipping earl gray and eating finger foods.
Life is all about that sort of thing, sitting together visiting and sharing life's moments. Passing babies around, each one of us wanting our turn holding Yen or playing a game with Mei-Ling.
Taking about "the good old days" and sharing stories that have been passed down through time.
Our hearts were full of the things that count, not about what kind of clothes were worn or how much money we all made. It was all about the people, the love, the moment, the joy of sharing a cup or two of tea around the table in the living room. Life is good, when its real.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Quick Note

All is well, just was feeling a bit unmotivated to be on the computer while taking an antibiotic for a skin infection that made me very sleepy. I so appreciate all the notes of concern : )
Today my best friend Debbie arrived from Boston for a two week visit so there will be lots of chatter around the house for a while.
The shot of cortisone took care of my knee problems which has been wonderful.
Tomorrow I promise to take some time to catch my blog up !

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Much Improved

My knee is so much better that this morning I was able to go out and do my chores. How I loved being able to milk the goats again, sitting on the stanchion, talking to the "girls" and hauling a huge armload of sweet sudan hay over to the manger. Watching the kids at play and scooting away the kittens from under my feet as I went about my tasks.
I was tenderly reminded by Emery that just because the pain is less, doesn't mean I can just do as I want. Which seems to be that I always want to be doing some big project. Its never easy for me to just sit.
This morning my thoughts are running along these few verses that keep me inspired to remember what matters most in life.

Matthew 6: 19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Do Not Worry 25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Friday, May 14, 2010

25 Things That Make Me Smile

On a lighter level, here is my list of 25 things that make me smile or give me joy simply because they are beautiful to me

1. My husband and family
2. Roses
3. Beautiful linens
4. Taking afternoon tea
5. Beautiful Art
6. Flower gardens
7. Fluffy clouds
8. English Prams
9. Baby clothes on the clothesline
10. The smell of baking bread
11. Good chocolate
12. Veuve clicquot champagne
13. Holding Emery's hand
14. Bed linens just off the line
15. Beautiful table settings
16. Baroque music
17. Lilacs
18. Lace curtains dancing in the wind
19. Birds at my feeders
20. Hats (this should be much higher up on the list)
21. Ladies gloves
22. Tackling complicated recipes with profound success
23. Gazing across the table at Emery and still feeling butterflies in my stomach
24. Heirloom baby clothes
25. Going barefooted in soft green grass

Thursday, May 13, 2010

25 Things I Really Care About

This is a list of things that I really care about, core things, regardless of what other people think. Think about the people in your life that influence you to act differently than how you feel deep inside, and how you would act if they were not in your life. Its eye opening to realize that some folks just push us to act a certain way. We all do it, even if we say we don't care one bit what others think. These are things I care deeply about but still, they can sometimes get pushed and shoved into the background from time to time, but are never far from the basic me.

1. My husband, children and grandchildren
2. Herbal Medicine
3. Simple living
4. Growing my own food
5. Spiritual Growth which to me has nothing to do with religion
6. Stepping Lightly on this earth
7. Tai Chi
8. Hiking
9. Natural fibers
10. Raising children to care about others
11. Seeking to live compassionately
12. Spinning wool
13. Healthy shoes
14. Health care reform
15. Separation between church and state
16. having books and not just computer versions of books
17. conservation
18. growing flowers for the beauty of them
19. Meditation
20. organic food
21. less chemicals in our lives
22. learning poetry
23. learning about other cultures
24. running
25. freedom

whats your core list like ? I am renewed in my commitment to stay true to my list

The Power of Peer Pressure

We so often think peer pressure is something children and young adults have to deal with and once you are older, you are past that problem, but I believe modern marketing and television shows are in their own ways producing that same sort of pressure. I keep seeing it over and over. Just recently had a conversation with a woman in her 50's who shared with me in a very casual manner how her own children influence her by their approval or disapproval. She wants to be up with the times in their eyes, fearing to appear outdated or old so she listens to music she really does not like and has gone so far as to decorate her kitchen to her daughters taste and not her own. I suspect this woman is not alone. Lots of middle agers seem to be better at doing things to seek approval than doing what they really want or what they believe in. Might be something as simple as words used or music listened to. Might be we are wearing clothes we don't even like but hate to appear old fashioned or not "hip" or whatever word they use now.
This kind of caving in to the peer pressure is what has gotten so many people into financial woe these days. We have to keep up with what we see others doing. We have closets the size of rooms and garages so full of things we don't use that there is no room for the car. We buy cars as a social statement rather than buying what we need or is affordable. We spend money on magazines that influence us to buy more and more. We have so many crafts that we have rooms that look like stores, We have pantries full of foods bought on a whim, that later end up being given away or collecting dust. We are pushed by peer pressure to be people we really are not.
Being pushed like that doesn't bring us to happiness, but leads us to be fake and discontent, always looking to find something beyond where and who we are.
What is it we tell the young people in regard to peer pressure.... stand tall and be yourself.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bursitis of the Knee

In the old days they called it housemaids knee and I am calling it my "gardeners knee". Its painful to be sure but with what seemed like a gigantic shot of cortisone, I should be on the mend rather quickly.
Emery has been faithful in doing my chores and today, Melanie drove me to town to pick up some medicine and she made me get in one of those motorized wheelchair things they have at the stores. I felt pretty old ! Casi went to the feed store today and picked up a truck load of hay for me which made me count my blessings that I have such loving and kind children.
I suspect for the next few days I will be doing hand work in the house and not much else. I snuck out to the laundry room and did a load of wash and hung it up since there is rain in the forecast for the next several days. The air is soft and full of humidity, with a gentle breeze which somehow translates into natures fabric softener.
I already miss working in the garden and sitting on the stanchion milking the goats. Maybe in a few days I will feel like hobbling out to the barn to sit on the stack of hay and watch the kids at play.
There are times and seasons in life and right now, for me, it is the season of sitting.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Not much time for the computer lately

I have not vanished off the face of the earth, just not much computer time. I have been a lady of leisure for the past week, which has its good points and its bad points, since I like to be on the go.
Today though I did go pick some carrots and beans in the garden and manage to get a few photos. Its refreshing to my soul to see flowers in bloom, goats playing and watch young birds being fed by their parents.
I had a wonderful Mothers Day yesterday. Emery took me to a local nursery that specializes in English Garden plants and he bought me daisies, foxglove and a David Austin Rose, called Graham Thomas, which fits in my rose garden beautifully. Melanie and Casi took Emery and I out for supper at my favorite Chinese restaurant and after we ate, Mei wanted to come home to Mimi and Papa's house which we enjoyed of course. Steven stopped by with a bouquet of flowers and a card on his way into town shopping. I am expecting something in the mail today from Vermont ! Life is good when its surrounded by love.

Roses along the pasture fence
A male Cardinal feeding his son
the baby cardinal hiding in the tree
carrots and green beans just picked
baby goats
foxglove in bloom

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Making Laundry Soap

Today is a perfect day for making laundry soap. Nothing else demanding my time....earlier I got a few windows washed, clean curtains hung and did some hand work.
Home made laundry soap is just better in a lot of ways. Its cheaper than store bought, you know what is in it, there are no fillers or "fluff" and there is something kind of satisfying about making it. I make my with my home made soap but you can buy a one of the pure soaps on the market that has no moisturizers or be like me and make your own old fashioned lye soap.
I grate two bars of home made soap very fine, I like to use soap that is at least a year old, preferably soap about 3 years old as its well cured and grates like a dream. For each bar of soap I grate, I add two cups of washing soda and two cups of borax. Mix it well, break any clumps up and store in an airtight container. For my washer which is a top loading old fashioned style, I use 1/4 cup for each load of wash. I heard you use less for those new front loading machines, but having no experience with them, I can't really say. I scent my homemade soap to be used for laundry soap with lavender or citrus scent, but not too strongly. I have super sensitive skin and prefer to have it as pure as possible.
My home made soap costs me about $10 to make 30 some bars and a box of borax is under $5 I believe and so isn't the washing soda. The laundry soap ends up being very reasonable to make.
I never have figured out the exact price but I know its cheaper than what you buy in the store and this stuff cleans really well. It's low sudsing which is nice too and if you are using gray water, this is a good choice for soap.
all the needed items for laundry soap making
grating my home made soap
two bars grated
mixing in the borax and washing soda
breaking up any clumps
even the tiny clumps should be broken up
the finished product

Morning Ramble

It's a gorgeous morning, but I find myself sitting around feeling lazy due to a sore right knee. Not too fond of this aging process, seems it can take control of you. But on the flip side of it, being still for a day or so gives me time to do some hand work and to read. Emery did my chores for me this morning and worked in the garden before he headed out the door for work. I am blessed with a man that hasn't got a single tiny lazy bone in his body. He grew up on a farm that required the words, "don't feel like it" banished from everyones vocabulary.
I will no doubt take a stroll around the place checking on things and admiring the beauty of Gods creation. I so often think of the verse in the 1st book of Romans, verse 20 that says so much to me and reminds me on those days when I wonder if God is listening, that His love is ever present in so many ways....verse 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." All of His nature can be understood from what has been made.....I believe that with all my heart.
Life has been very busy for me lately and I love that, but at the same time I need to have days on end when I never leave the place, where I can sit and wonder, sit and pray, sit and re-affirm the choices we have made and time to recommit to a life that is simple and not caught up in things and stuff. I need time to work with my hands and listen to the hymn of nature.
So, in reality, I am thankful for a knee that is rebelling and forcing me to have some down time where things are quiet enough to hear that small still voice and look at His marvelous creation and understand His nature a bit better.
Feeling very blessed today for all the good things in my life and all the love that surrounds me.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Keeping It Simple

Every once in a while I need to sit down and remind myself why we have chosen to live a homestead sort of life. It started out as a combination of beliefs and a desire to live on a single income that was not what you would call substantial, now it is all about the choice to live apart from the pressure of society to live according to the peer pressure to have this or that.
Today, I watched Mei-Ling wander through the garden, and munch on fresh spinach right from the plant and play in the dirt, examine chicken feathers and kitten whiskers. I saw the delight on her face as she fed the goats leaves and bits of grass. I watched her chew on mint from the mint patch and ride on the old hobby horse on the back porch as if she was riding a fine real pony to some land of make-believe. I saw her write letters in the dirt with a stick and pocket handfuls of stones that she found to be simply beautiful. Watching her was just like watching my own little ones all over again and it reminded me of why we have chosen this simple life. A life comparatively absent from many of the things folks have decided are "must haves". I sat on the back porch watching a child discover all the things that to this day still thrill my soul. Birds singing, clouds flying over head and yes, even laundry flapping in the breeze. Mei-Ling stopped in her tracks and watched the snowy white curtains on the line dance in the wind. She called to me and said, "Mimi, so pretty !" and I agreed.
This is a life of simplicity and yet its hard work, but the kind of work and play that blends together so easily that you often forget that you are working. It is the kind of life that makes children ready for naps and insomnia something you only hear about.
The rain has arrived, giving me time to sit by the window and watch it fall and hear it on the roof as I knit on some socks for next winter. Keeping it simple, day to day.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Homestead Life In Spring

Springtime on the homestead is a busy time but also one of the prettiest times. Each and every day I am able to wander outside and enjoy the flowers we have planted and the gorgeous roses that are in full bloom right now. No less than three times this week I have picked huge bouquets that fill the rooms with that sweet scent that is so easily recognized. I love floribundas, old roses, English roses, the kind that are perfumy and have big full flowers. Of course I have some tea roses too, but the old roses will to me always be the best of the bunch.
Our driveway is lined with rose bushes and lilies an old fashioned sort of welcoming and there are iris and yarrow. Mint and Rosemary mixed in with the flowers to add scent and that deep green.
In spring, the vegetable garden delights us with fresh goodies, so welcome after the long winter. Once again the goats give us fresh milk and the chickens give eggs with such bright yolks that stand so tall from all the greens they eat each day. The fruit trees are all loaded down with young fruit and the grape vines have tiny bunches of grapes sprouting out all over them. Its such a time of promise.
Meadow tea once again fills our glasses and asparagus sits on our dinner plates each and every night, we never get tired of eating it. So often I eat it raw, just after picking it. Tender and so full of flavor.
With all the work that has to be done in spring, the gardening, the care of new baby animals etc, having good fresh food from the garden is what gives us strength and energy to keep up.
I sometimes wonder if I would enjoy having no chores, no hard work but then I think of the rewards, of the good feeling that you get after working hard enough to break a sweat and I know we live just that life we love. Choices made long ago have paid off big time.
No debts, no stress from trying to keep up with the Jones', no need to try to impress people, and the joy of sleeping good every night and understanding what really counts in life.

Every single night before I go to sleep and every morning before I hop out of bed, the same prayer in on my lips.  Of course I pray for m...