Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spring chicks now laying hens

The young hens have started laying, despite the heat.   Yet, small in size, these eggs are perfect.  Think there will be green eggs this weekend for our little visitor.  Mei-Ling is spending the weekend with Grammie and Papa and these little eggs will be just right for a little girls breakfast.

Be Patterns ...

"Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world answering that of God in everyone."

~~~~George Fox~~~~

this mornings sunrise

More On Evennig Song Farm

If you will go to this link and scroll down to Video Gallery, you can see a video interview with the owners of Evening song farm,  the piece is called, Washed Out of Business.   This little clip just tells the story so well.
Their story has stirred me deeply.  Keep them in your prayers and please consider helping if you can.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Evening Song Farm




When our oldest was still living in Rutland VT, she met a really great couple that has an organic farm up there.  Well, "Irene" wrecked havoc on their farm and washed away their fields.   Its heart breaking to see the photos of before and after.   They have a facebook page and a web page Evening Song Farm which tells a bit about their recent loss.   Most of my readers know I feel strongly about buying local produce, organically grown produce and small farms.   This young couple has worked hard to develop a farm that meets those needs for the folk in that area of Vermont.  Yes, I don't live in Vermont and probably many of my readers don't either, but this world of ours is getting smaller all the time and I would love to see as many folks as possible help this young couple rebuild their dreams.  Check out their How You Can Help page and consider helping them out.   Thanks !

the last picture is the before photo.  Where once were beautiful fields, there is now a river bed. 

Spinning Shetland


Here is a video of me spinning some shetland wool. Spinning is one of the most soothing things to do.

Spinning

Despite what the thermometer says, I know that fall time is right around the corner and with it some cooler weather.  As fast as time goes by these days, it will be winter again in no time.  Last week we went out to eat and I contracted some food poisoning.  I have felt miserable.   While recovering and doing almost nothing, it seemed a good time to get some spinning done.  Two balls completed so far, about 4 oz.   Love the colors.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Look Who Got Glasses !



Mei-Ling not only started pre-K, but she also got glasses.  She really feels like a big girl now.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Balance in nature and in our spiritual life



Looking out my window, I see dry, parched land.  Trees have died, plants that have always seemed to survive all sorts of weather, now lay in heaps of dry, straw colored mounds.   The grass never needed to be mowed the entire summer, it just never grew in this heat and drought.   Our cottonwood tree is nearly leafless, as if it were late November.  The ground under it scattered with dry brittle leaves.  The front lawn, covered in dead pine needles.   We have managed to keep the rose bushes alive, the rest of the gardens will have to just survive on their own, we are under a water restriction, so watering everything as much as it needs is out of the question.   On the news this morning, the east coast is having the opposite problem.  Mother Nature is fickle.    We are facing our 62nd day of 100 or above temperatures this season.  Normally we have 16.   The summer feels endless.   The heat and lack of rain has given me a deeper understanding of what folks mean when they talk about a time of spiritual drought, the visuals are now more clear for me. 
Today, the east coast is having the opposite problem, too much water, floods.  If we could only help one another out and share. Of course we cannot do that but  in a spiritual sense we actually can help one another bridge the gap between the feelings of spiritual drought and being flooded with blessings.  Instead of looking down our nose at the folks that have a dry period in their spiritual life, we should lift them up and share our blessings.  Not in a preaching sort of way, but in a gentle compassionate way, that brings the reality of Gods love to one another in the same way as a gentle well needed rain.   Nourishing to the soul.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Amish White Bread


Every once in a while I re-post this recipe simply because its one of the easiest breads to make and it tastes wonderful. I first posted this recipe in 2006.    Enjoy ! 
I love this bread toasted along with a cup of coffee for my breakfast.

You can "fool around" with the flours in this recipe and substitute some of the white flour for whole wheat or some other flours. This is the one white bread recipe I do make for the family once in a while to have a break from whole wheat.


Amish White Bread Recipe
Ingredients:
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/ 45 degrees C )
2/3 cups white sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups white flour
Directions:
1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water, add yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam


2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Work in 5-6 cups of flour. Knead dough on a lightly floured level surface until smooth.
Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn once to coat the entire surface of the dough with oil. Cover with a clean damp cotton cloth. Allow dough to raise until double in size.


3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves and place into a well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pan. Allow to rise for 30 minutes or until the dough is 1 inch above the pans.


4. Bake in a 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. When you thump the top of the bread it should sound hollow.


Notes:
For a buttery crust, take a stick of butter and run it across the tops of the hot bread.
Cool on a rack and enjoy
I double this recipe every time I make it since the bread goes so fast.

"Americans are crankier than ever."

"Americans are crankier than ever." was the title of a news story today and I thought about this for a bit and remembered something that happened earlier in the week while in line at our local Wal-Mart.
Emery  and I were in line at Wal-Mart when the woman in front of us discovered that she did not have money in her wallet. She ran out of the store embarressed....the checkout person turned on her light for a manager.  it was the 10 items or less line, and you could tell the cashier was new. The man behind us, a fellow in his mid 60's got so angry. He yelled over our heads to the cashier to call someone...she said there was no phone there. He yelled at her that she was "worthless".. to this I spoke to him, " no person is worthless".  Emery cringed. A young man arrived but needed to get another manager...to this the nasty man behind us, called him "worthless" to which I told both young people, " no one is worthless" and turned to the man behind us and said in a serious but honest tone...." I hope you are not a Christian. " I meant it, but at the same time was shocked that I said it.  It was as if the words could not be contained.  If he was a Christian he was being a horrible example of one.  Everyone in line grew silent and the man became quite humbled, hanging his head in shame. I guess by his reaction, he considered himself a Christian, but perhaps now, not much of a practicing one ! Hateful words are so hurtful. Those young people did not deserve that sort of treatment, no one does. 
The man was just so hateful.  He was ranting and raving over a small wait in the line.  No more than 5 minutes of his time, but he used that time to belittle others, young people who no doubt need good examples in their lives.  He used that time to be crankier than cranky, and embaress himself, for what ? 5 minutes time.  I felt pity for him and spent a great deal of that evening praying for him, that he would find peace, joy and hope in his life.  There are always things to challange our patience, but there is always a way to handle these situations without being nasty or cranky. 

We are all known by our fruit....

Galatians 5:22
 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Irene


This morning I have been watching the weather channel with regards to hurricane Irene's expected path.  Most of my extended family is in the path labeled, "extreme".  My mother whose name was Irene, loved tracking hurricanes.  Each storm season she kept a small hurricane tracking chart that she ordered from someplace, right next to her chair.  She would update the hurricanes location each evening when the weatherman would give the latitude and longitude of a storm.  Before a store arrived, when the waves were big, we would drive the short distance to the beach and watch the big waves roll in.   She would love the excitement associated with this storm.  Of course she understood the serious aspect of hurricanes but there is always some kind of excitement with New England storms, the preparing for them and the unknown.   We humans are a strange lot at times.
My prayers are with all those in the path of Irene.  This year has been one of strange weather.   Our summer has been horrific.  Record breaking heat and drought.  Ranchers are going under one after another.   There was no garden for us this year, and we have lost so many plants and trees.   I am so thankful we are not living in a time when we must depend on our garden for our food.  We would have starved.   I cannot help but think that God is trying to get our attention, showing us we are not in control.  God is merciful and compassionate, but He also wants us to acknowledge Him and walk in His ways, yet without being judge and jury on those that do not.   That is His job, thankfully !
Isaiah 25:4 You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm


My sister Sandy holding Melissa in the fall of 1981 watching the waves from a storm.  Winthrop MA

Thursday, August 18, 2011

For you created me....



“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” (NIV)  Psalm 139:13 -14, 17, 18

A Raw Food Day


Started off with some wonderfully sweet and filling grated apples this morning.  Works wonderfully with Weight Watchers diet plan.    Love how it has that apple pie sort of flavor to it.  I think it might be good warm too.
Here is the link that tells you what all I put in it and some other raw snacks I love, especially the dried eggplant ~
Raw snacks

I have been busy




This is my year for achieving maximum health.  Its a serious goal for me.  I do not have health issues per say, no medications other than my thyroid medication but I am over weight, and am starting to feel a stiffness creep in with the passing years.   Its harder for me to do a full lotus position and there has been a bout of bursitis in my knee and more recently a not so pleasant case of Plantar Fasciitis, which was incredibly painful when I ran, which progressed to pain when I walked.   That was cured pretty fast with two things, deep tissue massage and the most incredible shoes.   Orthaheel Walker saved me !  No kidding within two days of wearing them, the pain was 90% gone.    Loved them so much that I ordered sandals this week.    I have nothing to gain by sharing this information, but when I find something that helps me, I like to share it.   So now, I can get back to the serious business of staying fit.   I have told my friends many times that I will consider that age is winning, when I can no longer touch my toes.  Fortunately I can still lay my palms flat on the floor !   Our health is connected to every aspect of our lives.  It affects our outlook, our disposition, our goal making, and our relationships.   Feeling good makes us happier.  Of course there are circumstances beyond our control regarding the quality of our health but that's not what I am talking about here.  I am talking about controlling what can be controlled.
A few years back, I had high blood pressure, due to stresses in my life that could not be controlled at the time, but I still took control of my health and got my blood pressure down to normal.  Changed what I ate, changed how I dealt with the stress, and took herbs that were known to help.  Now my blood pressure runs at about 117/74 with a heart rate of about 65.       I do not love exercise.  I do not love eating super healthy all the time, but I do LOVE the results of both.  The pay off is fantastic, its worth it.  Every evening Emery and I do yoga together and then meditate.   We do free weights and aerobics at different times in the day.  Emery is a morning person and I am not.  I have been eating about an 75% raw diet, which has made a huge change in me, I actually prefer that to "junk food".  Would never have imagined me saying that a year ago.    With my little fitbit gadget, my motivation to stay busy has skyrocketed.  I have not lost interest in it at all and so far have managed walking at least 15 miles a week since getting it, often times over 20 miles in a week.    Our bodies are sacred.  In the New Testament we are told they are temples.   I do not want to desecrate my temple by trashing it up.  Its a bit like having a goal to live a simple life so you declutter your house, change that way you look at material things, having a simple life through and through means you live in a simple way by caring for our bodies with the same kind of goals,  removing the things from it that cause stress, cause it to be cluttered, overburdened.    Simple clothing, simple food and simple exercise that keeps us able to live freer.   Life should be abundant, but abundant in stuff, abundant in the things we can carry with us even if we were wearing an outfit without pockets and no purse.  Abundant in what we carry in our hearts and mind in a healthy body.  
My goal, to acheive a new level of healthiness in 2012 that reflects what my heart feels.  Simplicity !
Anxious for this heat to be gone so we can start hiking again.  Been hiking since I was 15 years old and not about to stop until I am well into my 90's
new shoes
healthy meal, wrap with sweet potato, hummus and lightly steamed veggies
one of our favorite trails close to home
a hiking trip many years ago, first child on the way.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Three Views


Three Views



Single pine needles, alone is beauty.
A branch of a pine tree, alone is beauty.
A tall straight pine tree, many branches, many needles.
Alone is beauty.
~Pasuhi~


So much of life is like that if we are willing to look at things more than one way. Singularly, perhaps in pairs or in small numbers, then in large groups.
People for instance. One person has beauty all his/her own. A couple or a family, another form of beauty, and then we can look at a people, nations, races and see their beauty.
One not taking away from the other, just different aspects, a different view.

Monday, August 15, 2011

It is my birthday today







Delighted to be enjoying another birthday with family at my side.   Last night we celebrated and how I enjoyed the love, the thoughtful gifts and the joy of family.   Feeling so blessed, so joyful, so complete. 
My decorations were all made of recycled materials or materials that are not harmful to the environment.  Bamboo folks and spoons which the children thought were great.   A cake made by Melanie.  Pizza, my favorite meal was served.  Melissa was able to drive up from Austin to join the celebration of life.   The night before I was taken out to my favorite vegan restaurant in Ft Worth, Spiral Diner.    Life is good !

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Anger


The Dalai Lama writes in his book, The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace...."No other negative deed compares with anger as an obstacle and hindrance to cultivate the spiritual path."
We see the evidence of this over and over. In small matters as well as large ones.
Anger over politics.  Anger over religious views.

Anger over a red light, anger over a long line in the store, anger over a waitresses mistake.
What for ?  What purpose ? Is not patience the higher road to take ? The more pleasant outcome ?
Anger transforms us into something that at any other time, we would not even imagine.
It is time to practice patience.

A side note, with all the hot, dry weather here in Texas, people have even been angry over the weather, but today, we are seeing rain.  A time to rejoice.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Religion....



"Religion is always an individual, personal thing. Every person must work out his own views of religion, and if he is sincere, God will not blame him, however it turns out. Every man's religious experience is valid for himself, for, as I have said, it is not something that can be argued about. But the story of an honest soul struggling with religious problems, told in a sincere manner, will always be of a benefit to other people. That is why, in speaking about religion, I must get away from generalities, and tell my personal story. "

~Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living~

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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Grandblessings




Yen playing with Tibetan Tingshas and Mei-Ling meditating

Healthy Living Takes Work and Working Out





Wore out my last treadmill, so Emery purchased a new one for me. It was delivered and set up yesterday.  I love it.  It takes work to maintain a healthy body and mind.  Exercise and good eating are all part of our daily life.  Here are a few pictures of from our exercise room that is a work in progress, but its just too hot to take on another major project so the redecorating and room modifications are going to have to wait.  We did install the rubber floor covering so we could put the new treadmill right on it.  We opted for the recycled rubber flooring and we like it a lot.  Still have tapping and mudding left to do etc before we get to the fun part of painting and hanging mirrors.   Next on the agenda, a meditation room.  A room void of technology, and distractions so we can pray and meditate in peace.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Cutting Costs and Living Simply

Out there in blogland there are so many folks posting about cutting expenses in this shaky economy.  This almost always turns into the subject of living simply.  Some information out there seems to be re-runs of what we all know but somehow forget to do.  Most of us are smart enough to know where we are wasting money, yet few of us understand that we spend more than we should, buy more than we need, consume more than is necessary for one reason, we are trying to calm that pain or that difficult thing that resides inside of us.   We play music constantly,  sit at the computer for hours,  eat more than we should,  shop for things we don't need, hop on a hundred new bandwagons or just simply bite our nails because we don't want to be silent for a second since that might mean we have to face whats driving us to overindulge.   Imagine for a moment that you sat in silence, looked straight on at the very things that are making you behave in a way that costs you more money than you want, has restocking your pantry every month because you found a new way of eating, or being afraid to listen to that voice of reason within each of us, imagine you faced that pain inside of you that controls your actions, and in doing so, understood it, looked at it from a calm place within, and saw that it can show you how to look at others with deeper compassion,  and to love that wounded child within.   It would bring freedom from all those things that cause us to live in a stress, live in excess, live a life where we trade reason for unreasonable actions.    The best way to live simply, to live a cost effective life, is to dwell in peace from the inside out.  To do that, we have to sit in silence, without distractions and listen to our hearts and discover what we are feeding with food, shopping, spending, complicated relationships, new concepts, new gadgets.  Finding the problem, learning from it and seeing it in clear light will take care of the things that are stealing from us.  We will live simple lives without the need to impress, without the feeling of being inadequate and grant us peace.

Monday, August 08, 2011

"Maybe the fear is that...."

Maybe the fear is that

we are less than
we think we are,
when the
actuality of it
is that we are much much more."


— Jon Kabat-Zinn (Arriving at Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness)

Goals and Truth

For the past 6 months or so I have thought a lot about personal growth.  I posted on facebook the other day that you should be a better person at age 30 than you were at 20 and a better person at age 40 than you were at 30 and so on and so on, and if it is not your goal to be more compassionate, kinder and more loving each and every day you live, then it should be your goal.   Living a good life is important for so many reasons, and if nothing else, selfishly, it makes your own life better to live a life filled with compassion and kindness.
Perhaps with my 57th birthday just a week away, I am wanting to make sure that my life this past year has been better than the year before and look deeply inside of myself to see with open eyes the areas that are still needing more improvement.  I know that everything in my life has been a teacher, people, crafts, places I have lived, animals I have raised, work I have done, daily chores, sickness, raising the children, sitting, meditation, exercise, eating....they all have taught me something about life and have made me who I am and being aware of that helps me to choose with care what I do and how I do it.  The lessons in life are important, they make us who we are.  Even the difficult things we go through can make us better people if we let them.  If we acknowledge with honesty what lessons we need to learn, we become willing to see them.
Real hhappiness is about living a life that is authentic, its about living a life you don't have to be afraid to share. Its about living a life behind closed doors that you would not be ashamed to have others see. Its about being real, honest and content at every turn. Living a life with hypocrisy and secrets are the surest signs you are not really happy, no matter how many smiles you wear and nine times out of ten, people can see right through a fake life faster than we would ever believe possible.   Blogging is one of those places in life where its feasible to just put out there what we want people to see, without having to disclose all the picture.  I have never tried to do that, with the exception of perhaps taking a photo that cuts off the view of the clutter on the coffee table !      
Learning through life is about becoming a better person, its about being honest with yourself, and improving, growing, letting go of stress.  Learning to see that happiness has nothing to do with material gain.  No matter how many times you hear it, you will not become a better cook by having certain stove or certain counter tops.  A white refrigerator keeps the food just as cold as a stainless one and expensive high heels will not make you into a new woman.  Acts of compassion will make you more beautiful and seeking peace will change you more than a fancy handbag.   Being honest with who you are and what your life is like will give people nothing to gossip about.    Seeking to see the lesson in all the aspects of your life will free you from resentment.  Praying for your enemy will soften your heart towards them and sitting in silence and being comfortable with that silence will give you a clearer mind.     My goal... continue on the path I have been on but with wider eyes and deeper understanding for all that I see.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Endless Summer Heat



Motivation and creativity are at a standstill for me in this heat.   I am feeling blessed to get about 10 miles of running in each week right now.  Too hot for more than that.  Walking outside to check on the animals this afternoon, while the thermometer showed 111 F (43.8 C ) in the shade, it was heartbreaking to see all the plants withering and leaves falling like crispy potato chips from the branches.   Chickens, looking for shade, cool water, refreshing for them, but still their mouths gape open as if trying to find cool air.   Maddox following for a bit, then opting to find his shady cool spot instead.  I understand. 
This feels like the desert, with no sign of relief in sight.   Roses dried on the bushes, yarrow still on the stem, dried as if they had been done so on purpose.  Leaves curling and twisting, gnarled finger like. 
I find myself checking what the low temperatures are for September and October.  Holding out hope for the times when my feet feel the cold floor beneath them and when the air feels refreshing and sweaters bring comfort.
This year its easy to believe that global warming is a reality.