Friday, April 07, 2017

I've Looked at Clouds

Clouds have captivated me in the last few years. I've always enjoyed them, of course, but it seems like I'm noticing and commenting on them all the time. "Look at those flufferty-bufferty clouds!" (Yes, I've actually said that.) "Did you see the spectacular clouds over the mountain earlier today?" "The sun is setting the clouds on fire. God is showing off tonight."

In 1967, Joni Mitchell wrote the song "Both Sides, Now". The lyrics speak of the illusions of clouds, of love, and of life. The world is full of illusions, but that doesn't make clouds or love or life any less amazing. It's all about our focus.

The last chapter in my book Crap Happens...Wallowing Is Optional begins with this quote from C.S. Lewis: "The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life—the life God is sending one day by day." Life wouldn't be life without interruptions and illusions. We might as well put a smile on it.

And now, without further interruption, enjoy a few photos of clouds. You're welcome. 😉

Monday, January 09, 2017

Run Your Race

I've never been good at running physically, but I know how to race when the clock is ticking and I'm behind schedule. For example, I spend the day goofing off with Pat and get home just before suppertime. You've never seen me throw a meal together so fast. Or, a friend calls to say she's coming for the weekend and, in short order, the catastrophe known as the guest room is fluffed and ready.

Have you ever run in a three-legged race? The upside is that if you lose, you can always blame it on your partner.

How about sack races? Now you're on your own, but the sack doesn't let you use your physical prowess to full advantage.

It's not that life is a race exactly, but there is a goal: finish well. How did the end of 2016 look compared to the lofty resolutions made at the beginning of that year? Were there things you wanted to do but were unable to accomplish? Did "life" get in the way of your dreams?

Regardless of how many times I set a goal and miss it by an inch or a mile, I always fall back on this beautiful promise of God: "I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

God has plans and goals for us—good plans, full of hope and peace. You might feel like someone is holding you back from your dreams. (Remember the 3-legged race?) Maybe it seems like your life is stuck in an old flour sack and you can't break free from its constraints. Maybe you've already broken your New Year's resolutions, or you didn't make any in the first place. "Why bother? I never keep them."

Let's be patient with ourselves. Let's be kind to ourselves. Let's remember that God has plans for us. We should probably take a little time to talk to him about those plans. "Is this the way, Lord? Am I on the right path? Show me where I'm messing up. Help me see what I should be doing." There's a song that says, "... have a little talk with Jesus." Yup, that's what we should do.

Monday, January 02, 2017

The First Second of the Rest of My Life

In last week's blog I wrote, "I'm determined to be the best farm muse ever. Wherever I am, whatever is going on around me, I'm going to look for the artistic, inspirational angle—and write about it! Or take a picture of it! Or sing about it! Or make some cookies to celebrate."

Last night, my daughter Katie reminded me that I wanted to start the 1 Second Everyday "project" on January 1. Drat! I had totally forgotten about it. The object is to take a short video, choose a one-second clip from that video, and repeat (every day for a year or for the rest of your life or whatever). All the one-second clips will be mashed together to make a movie. The day was almost over, no one was around, and absolutely nothing was going on. I downloaded the app, didn't know what I was doing—but, I did it! Here's the exciting video, before being trimmed to one itsy-bitsy second.
Things can only get better from here, right? But I loved the graphics on the Parade magazine cover for January 1. Plus, the idea of throwing around kindness went right along with my desire to look for the artistic and inspirational in the New Year, so it's a good, one-second start for 2017.

With the creativity of God all around, surely we can find a smile or a hint of beauty every day. Or at least a "Hunh? Whaaa?" moment. We don't have to make a video of it, but let's recognize it and give thanks for it.

Monday, December 26, 2016

New Year's Resolution

Since I retired from my farm chores, it's been hard to keep this blog going. The title, Farm Muse, keeps whispering, "Pssst. You should be writing about the farm, you know." Today I have new insight and, I hope, new freedom to write whatever I darn well please. First: the farm is my home, my address. That doesn't change, regardless of where I wander or what I'm doing. Second, muse is not only a verb; it's also a noun. According to, "... it means a person — especially a woman — who is a source of artistic inspiration." Tah dah! I'm an artistic, inspiring woman who happens to live on a farm. Farm Muse is just another one of my many names or titles. I'm free to be me and to write about anything or nothing.

Last week, Pat took me to Reynolda House Museum of American Art (in Winston-Salem) to see the Grant Wood exhibit. Photos weren't allowed, but I'm sure you'll recognize his well-known painting below. You can learn more about the exhibit and see more of his work by clicking on this link.

As you know, I've done my share of whining about farm life. Certainly the paintings on display at Reynolda House depicted more of the idyllic than the crappy, but I was strangely moved by it all. Right then and there I determined to be more aware of the daily blessings all around me, even if it means looking under the piles of junk or getting out the magnifying glass. It has become somewhat like a New Year's resolution: I will look with new eyes to see the good, and if I don't see the blessing, I'll be the blessing!

I'm determined to be the best farm muse ever. Wherever I am, whatever is going on around me, I'm going to look for the artistic, inspirational angle—and write about it! Or take a picture of it! Or sing about it! Or make some cookies to celebrate.
Are you with me?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

My Go-To Smile

Hello? Are you in there? Hello?
MMRROWW. We're hungry out here!
You can't retire from kitty cats. Not that I would want to. The little pests. I mean, the little darlings. Seriously, I love them. I gave the cats only one chapter in my book Crap Happens...Wallowing Is Optional, but they are part of my life every day. A good part! As Chapter 13 says, they're my go-to-smile.

I'm not overly obsessed with cats; I just enjoy them. Back in 2006 I painted a ceramic cat. It's the only house cat I have.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme & Mustard. Kit Carson. Spice Girl. Kitten Kaboodle. Winken, Blinken, and Nod. Dottie and Rambo. I've named over a hundred cats on the farm. Some people have tried to lighten the burden by giving me "cat name" books. If I remember correctly, the only name I got from these books was Indira.

I've purchased two books about cats ...

but I've taken hundreds of pictures of cats. Here are three recent ones.
Barbossa, who sneaked into the house TWICE the other day.

Gypsy and her four unnamed (as yet) babies.

Mrs. Mewer's unnamed four, plus Bear (topmost kitty)
When they're not being aggravating, cats and kittens are a delightful part of life. Kind of like people, right?

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Perfect Day

At various times today, I said to myself or right out loud, "What a day! What a perfect day!" This evening, as I was thinking I should blog about it, I remembered I'm working on the Children's Devotional for the September issue of Forsyth Family Magazine. Its working title? "What a Day!" I guess it just goes to show you need to experience what you preach.

I had no agenda today, no to-do list. Of course there were kitties to feed and breakfast to get on the table and then dishes to wash, but after that the day just rolled out, smoothly, a bit at a time. Actually, the first big smile of the day was right after breakfast when the mail came. Look at my new mouse pad from Shutterfly.
My family! A smile every time I sit at my computer :)
The cookie jar was empty, so I decided to make chocolate chip cookies. Instead of making the whole recipe, I went with a half batch. That means there aren't any extras to put in the freezer, but it was a good decision. And, if I do say so myself, Yum!
I have fresh peaches, thanks to Beth and Edith making a trip to the fruit stands the other day, so I decided to make a peach cake. It's not a fancy cake, but it's easy and delicious. I have the recipe written on a slip of paper, but I don't know where I originally got it. The recipe here is the same except for the following: Whisk the eggs in the bowl and add 1 tsp. vanilla. Then add the other ingredients (except the peaches and nuts) and stir by hand. (No beaters to wash). I used only 1/2 tsp salt. When it's all combined, then gently stir in the peaches and nuts. Bake as directed.
Music blasting from the living room kept me bopping all day long. Casting Crowns,The Beach Boys, Selah, Lady Antebellum, Kutless - good stuff!

Weldon came in about 4:00 and asked if I could come help him for a few minutes. Nothing was in the oven or cooking on the stove, so off I went. He was working on the baler and my job was to slip a bolt on either end of the big roller when he got it in position. Unfortunately, that never happened. That sucker is HEAVY!
The good news is that neighbor Clay stopped to help. I hurried out with some cake for him to take home. The bad news is that the bolt Weldon had didn't fit or wasn't just right in some way. The good news is that, after supper, he was able to get a bolt in town, so hopefully he can put it back together tomorrow. We're ending on the good news!

When I went out to feed the kitties, my heart almost stopped beating. There was Adorable (French pronunciation, please)! She has been gone for three or four days! She was coming across the yard, leaning into each cat she met, as though to say, "I'm home! I've missed you." She was a little thinner than usual, but otherwise looked good. She just kept leaning in for snuggles. So sweet!
Adorable (pictured) and Beatrice are the only two left from the first-ever batch of attic kitties :)
Today was an all-around beautiful day. Every time I went outside, I stretched my arms out in airplane mode and let the sun do its warming thing. I was glad I didn't have to be out there working, but I love the sensation of the sun soaking in a bit. Haiti memories :) Not only was the day lovely; my heart was calm, peaceful, and content. Beautiful.

What a day! What a perfect day!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

UFO Sighting

Friday evening, July 8, 2016

After feeding the cats, I hurriedly took a sample of my freshly baked Cherry Berry pie to Edith's.
Not wanting to get caught in the soon-coming rain, I didn't hang around to chat. However, as I crossed her yard, the brilliant rays of sunshine, coupled with the burgeoning clouds, grabbed my attention. I made a quick detour to the grassy area just outside the milk barn to get some photos of our beloved Pilot Mountain. The sun was at such an angle that I couldn't see what was showing up on my phone screen. Pointing and clicking, in the space of a minute or two, I blindly took 8 or 9 photos. When I got home, I checked out the photos, deleting the obvious junk. That left the five photos below.
Photo #1, taken at 7:07pm
Photo #2, taken at 7:07pm
Photo #3, taken at 7:07pm
Photo #4, taken at 7:07pm
Photo #5, taken at 7:08pm
Photos 3 and 4 are lovely, but nothing out of the ordinary. In photos 1, 2, and 5, however, a little sphere of light caught my eye. Do you see it? First I thought it must have been the sun peeking through the clouds, but NO. The sun is shining brilliantly in the upper left corner of the photos. Oh, maybe it's the moon. Again, NO. The moon would be on the other side of the sky, totally outside the range of these photos. The very strange thing is that the orb shows up in 3 different places: photo 1, directly over the Pilot; photo 2, way to the "left" of the mountain; photo 5, to the right of the mountain!

Next step: I enlarged/zoomed in on the specific area of the photos. See them below.
Photo 1, zoomed in.
Photo 2, zoomed in. This one totally amazed me.
Photo 5, zoomed in.
Weldon was intrigued. He studied my phone, turning it this way and that, asking questions. Then he asked me to send him the photos. His verdict?
Unidentified Flying Object!