Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In a Nutshell

I just realized my blog has suffered from lack of attention in the past couple of months. Poor thing. So, I've decided to look over my online journal from 2014 (in which I "meditated" my way through Psalms and Proverbs) and share a little nugget of wisdom from each month.

January 1, 2014: I'm trying to picture me going outside every day, finding a spot to sit (or stand) for a few minutes, and trying to capture with words what I see, hear, or feel in those moments. My purpose would be to simply slow down and savor the moment - be fully in the moment. I guess I could do that in the house, also. - To delight in the Lord's perfections - To meditate in his temple (from Psalm 27). (Did I do that? No, but it sounds good, doesn't it?)

February 1, 2014: Psalm 93:1b states, "The world stands firm and cannot be shaken." We might experience its quaking and fear that California will fall into the ocean, but when we know the bigger story, we don't have to fear. This, of course, is true not only for the physical earth, but for all that is happening in the spirit world - in our hearts and minds.

March 3, 2014: I have never given up anything for Lent, but this year I'm thinking, oh ... maybe ... how about housework?! (Actually, I gave up cookies.)

April 3, 2014: (Are you ready for a long one? I can't resist sharing Psalm 23.)
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (ahh. relax)
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. (ahh. relax)
He renews my strength. (as I rest and let the peaceful streams speak to me)
He guides me along the right paths, bringing honor to his name. (God is in control, and what I am going through is bringing honor to him.)
Even when I walk through the darkest valley (remember, God is in control)
I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. (ahh. relax)
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. (I'm safe in God's care)
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. (not just enough, but a feast!)
You honor me by anointing my head with oil, (why in the world would God honor me?!)
My cup overflows with blessings. (not just a few, but overflowing!)
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, (God's love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, protection, honor, supply, peace ... chasing after me!!)
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. (This is where I will live - in God's love & protection - right here, right now, and forever.)

May 8, 2014: A quote from After God's Own Heart by Mike Bickle. "We nibble on so many meaningless things that our hunger for meaningful things gets lost like a single piece of confetti in a ticker-tape parade." He is speaking of Mary and Martha and how there is "one thing" that is needed. We have to get back to the "one thing."

June 3, 2014: I had to smile as I read over the list of the enemies that were facing David (Psalm 22): fierce bulls, roaring lions, a pack of dogs, an evil gang. I know I shouldn't smile, because that's just how I feel when things aren't going my way. My battles are mostly in my head; David and so many others around the world, in every age battled against actual enemies. The cure? Lord, YOU are my strength. YOU brought me to birth. YOU listen to my cries for help.

July 12, 2014: Psalm 100 - A great psalm to begin the day or to read in the middle of the day or to end the day. It's an open invitation to a come-as-you-are celebration
  • shout with joy
  • worship with gladness
  • come singing with joy
  • acknowledge the Lord
  • enter with thanksgiving and praise
  • give thanks
Why would I do this - morning, noon, and night and any given moment in between? Because the Lord is good! His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation!

August 11, 2014: Psalm 69. What a life David lived. I wallow in crap, but he had every reason for his "whining." Flood waters up to his neck, sinking in the mire, no foothold, overwhelming floods - this is what life felt like to David! Is this what life felt like for Jesus? And perhaps it isn't so strange that I feel like life on the farm has beaten me up. (Choosing against "wallowing" is a continuing effort.)

September 11, 2014: Psalm 103. The wind blows, and we are gone -- as though we had never been here (v16). BUT the love of the Lord remains forever. Throughout the psalms I've noticed that all-important part of speech (conjunction?): BUT. Here it is. This is what I think, see, or feel ... BUT! God interrupts our physical bodies, our thoughts, emotions, memories, expectations, dreams, and idiosyncrasies. God interrupts the world! This is not forever, but God is.

October 1, 2014: Proverbs 1. Do wisdom and discipline naturally lead us to the fear of the Lord? I don't think worldly, human wisdom and discipline can do it. If I were more disciplined in my daily life here on the farm, would I be wiser and fearing the Lord better? What does that even mean? Is it more about spiritual discipline rather than following a to-do list for the day? Oh, let me stop with the questions. (By the way, my questions never stop.)

November 2014: I didn't do my online journal during November, because I was spending the whole month online with National Novel Writing Month.
So, for a smile, here's my note from October 31: A worthy wife is a crown for her husband (Proverbs 12:4). I hope I am a crown for Weldon. I "do" a lot (or, profess to doing a lot, much of which he probably doesn't care about), but is that what this verse is talking about? Do I support him, believe in him, encourage him? Yes, I do! And because he loves me as I am, I think I'm a crown :) Do I love him as he is? I'm learning :) Thank God, I'm learning.

December 29, 2014: Proverbs 29. "Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back" (v11). Even the wise can be angry! My thoughts immediately went to that day when I blew up at Weldon for commenting on the dying houseplants and trying to be helpful. My response? "Mind your own damn business!" Later, even though we had to laugh, I saw how foolish my outburst was. Everyone gets angry, but it's the fool who lets it rip. Verse 20: "There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking."

So, there's my year in a nutshell. I hope your year has been as delightful (and nutty) as mine! Here is our hope and assurance for the New Year 2015:
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.
Habakkuk 2:14

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Frankie and Felipe

Some years ago we had a mama cat who kept her babies hidden for so long that they were almost impossible to tame. I couldn't get close enough to tell if they were male or female, but they needed names. My younger daughter suggested Fred and Ginger, and the names stuck. Later, realizing they were both female, I changed Fred to Freddie. (I had a girlfriend in high school whose nickname was Freddie, so it worked for me.)

It was a long, slow process, but I could finally pet both Freddie and Ginger - on their terms, and only briefly, of course. They were always loners and never integrated with the other cats or even hung out together. Each went her own way.

I fed Freddie by herself, in the granary, every morning and evening. This spring, I was pretty certain she had had babies, but, no matter how I searched, I was never able to find them. Then one morning, there they sat, in full view, just looking at me.
Finally getting my hands on the little darlings, I "ascertained" they were both female and named them Frankie (on the left) and Felicia. My, they were wild little things. Petting them when I could or grabbing them when they weren't expecting it, I did my best to tame them. In the "grabbing" process, I found out that Felicia was a male. He is now Felipe.

One morning, having captured Felipe, I noticed he had a hole on the underside of his neck. Yes, a bald patch with quite a large hole down to and into his flesh! I showed him to Weldon and he thought perhaps it was one of those weird worms that are in (or can get into?) an animal and work their way out. Ick. Don't ask me. I don't want to know any more about it, even though I've seen it.

So! Taking matters into my own hands, I once again called on Farnam's Blue Lotion. (See my first experience with Blue Lotion here.
I daubed it on Felipe's neck and, as often as I could get my hands on him, applied it again. It worked in more ways than one: his neck healed perfectly and he became my friend.
Freddie (on the left) and her babies eat outside the granary now.

Freddie, Frankie, and Felipe would sit on the steps of the granary, waiting for their food. After a while, that wasn't good enough for Felipe. He'd run down the road to meet me, and I'd stop to pet him. Pretty soon, Frankie joined in the race with Mama Freddie bringing up the rear at a more matronly pace. I'd stoop down and pet Felipe, but when I reached out to Frankie, she'd scoot ahead a few steps. Then she'd stop and wait for me. I'd bend down and she'd scoot away. She wanted the same love and affection but wasn't quite brave enough to stay put. Silly girl.

But now? The race is on! Every morning and evening they fly down the road like the wind to greet me, and I can pet both of them and pick them up and hug them. I would have never believed it possible!
I love my kitty cats! Our kitty cats!

P.S. We have five adorable gray kitties still waiting for their forever home. Do, Re (the only male), Mi, Fa, and So (So slow. She was always the last to come when we called). Anyway, we can't tell them apart, thus their strange names. They all look like this one (except they're a little bigger now):

Let me know how many you want.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sad Sack

Bored? Lonely? Depressed? Call it what you will, it drove me outdoors today ... to my garden, although I use the term very loosely.
Yes, this is my iris bed. I weeded about half of it early this spring and hadn't touched it since, except to cut some lovely irises. I don't enjoy gardening. Can you tell?

God sent a spider. It wasn't actually in the garden, or that would have been the end of my gardening exploits for the day.
Was he bored? Lonely? Depressed? He didn't hang around very long, and I was okay with that.

It took all afternoon, but I got the little garden weeded. You can see the pile of weeds on the black plastic - way more weeds than irises in the garden. However, the irises will live; the weeds were dragged to the corner of the woods where they will rot or root or do whatever else weeds do.
The benefits? It felt good to do some physical labor. The garden spot sighed in contentment. I talked to all the weird bugs I saw, including that crabby spider. I now had something to blog about. And, tomorrow is another day. Yay!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

~*~ ReWrite ~*~

I'm in the rewrite/edit mode of my book. I began the book with an Introduction, the first line being, "I married a dairy farmer when I was 53 years old." It seemed like the opening of the book needed a little more punch, so I have combined the Intro and some of the original first chapter. Instead of an Introduction, the book will begin with a chapter called "Welcome to the Farm."

If you haven't read any of my book, or if you need a refresher, you can read the first draft intro and chapters here to compare. I REALLY would love some feedback on this. Do you prefer the original or the new version? If I keep the new version, there won't be an introduction and I will have more rewriting to do on the "Cows Are Out" and "Welcome to the Farm" chapters. Are you totally confused? Please read my newly revised first chapter below ... and leave some comments!

Welcome to the Farm

“‘You are my wife.’
‘Good bye, city life.’
Green Acres we are there.”

-Vic Mizzy

“Oh, crap! The cows are out!” With that, Weldon pushed away from the breakfast table and was up and out the door.
Wait! My Cheerios will get soggy! But, what’s a new wife to do? I slipped into some shoes and hurried after him to see what all the fuss was about. Sure enough, black and white cows were kicking up dust in the road, a few were lazily munching on grass beside the tractor shed, and others stood in front of the hay barn, looking as though they might climb in for a tasty morning snack.
Weldon had circled down the road and was herding the frolicking cows back toward the barnyard and, from the other direction, I noticed his mom and sister jogging up the road toward us. They live here on the farm and always keep an eye out their kitchen window, just as Weldon does. I guess it’s a farm thing. His sister Pat called to Weldon, “Where do you want the cows to go?”
“Right over there by the big silo,” he yelled, pointing. “I guess I left the gate open after feeding them this morning.”
With that, Pat and Mom Edith opened their arms and shooshed the cows away from the hay barn, toward the open gate. Weldon told me to round up the hooligans hiding on the back side of the tractor shed. “Spread out your arms and make yourself real big! Don’t use your cute little kitty cat voice. Sound mean! Chase them towards the silo, but don’t let them hurt you!”
Don’t let them hurt me? They might hurt me? What in the world had I gotten myself into! But, what’s a new wife to do? Coming up behind them, I spread out my arms as wide as I could and flailed frantically. It seems I scared the crap out of two of them. Plop! Splat!
“Eeuuuww. They’re crapping on me!” That did it! With the deepest, gruffest voice I could summon, I bellowed out, “Okay, that’s enough. I’m serious, you guys. Get back where you belong!”
They kicked up their heels, sending clods of earth flying, and hurriedly joined their cohorts in a mad rush to get through the gate. When they were all back in, Weldon securely fastened the gate behind them, and I heaved a sigh of relief.
“Welcome to the farm,” Pat called out, a big smile on her face.
They went home, we went home, and, yes, my Cheerios were soggy.
Thus ended my first up-close and personal experience with the cows.


I married a dairy farmer when I was 53 years old.
Upon hearing my story, people inevitably ask, “Did you ever think you’d end up on a dairy farm?” As if I could imagine something that had never even tiptoed across my mind! Dreaming and imagining aside, let me acquaint you with the real-life events that brought me to the farm.
My not-yet-husband Weldon and I met via an on-line dating site. We both lived in North Carolina but, in retrospect, the hundred miles that separated us was nothing compared to the difference in our lifestyles. I had been living the single-again, corporate life in Charlotte for ten years, and Weldon had spent his entire life on the family dairy farm outside the small town of King.
As we got to know each other by chatting on the phone and corresponding through e-mail, I was careful to ask the important questions: Is your divorce final? (Yes.) Do you live near water? (Yes, there is a creek and a river.) Would you plant raspberries for me? (There are black raspberries growing just a few steps from the front door.) With the essentials out of the way, we began our back-and-forth Saturday or Sunday drives between Charlotte and the farm. He liked me. I liked him.
Weldon made it clear that he wasn’t looking for a dairymaid and that he in no way expected me to help with the farm chores. It seemed to be a match made in heaven; so, seven months after our initial meeting, we married and I moved from the city to the country.
This new lifestyle was unlike anything I had experienced before: marriage, motherhood, life in the woods of northern Minnesota, missionary work in Haiti, eight-to-five office duties. Nope! It seemed I was ill-prepared physically, emotionally, and spiritually for life on a dairy farm. In spite of my best efforts, it wasn’t long before I started whining (only on the inside, of course) as the daily routines aggravated and irritated me.
You don’t have to live on a farm to experience frustrations, difficulties, and setbacks. Life is full of crap - be it real, proverbial, or psychological. As I recount my struggles and victories in adjusting to farm life, I hope you’ll recognize a similarity to problems you are facing and find encouragement to win your battles. The choice is set before us: deal with the yuck or wallow in it.
God is using life on the farm to work something new in me, making me more real and more thankful for each day, for each experience. He can take the difficulties in your life and work exciting new things in you, too. When life gets challenging or down-right discouraging, a change in our perspective can change our attitude, and a change in attitude may be just what is needed to get back to truly enjoying the life we have been given.
Walk with me … but look out for the crap.

~*~ Feel free to share this with all your friends who read and/or write :) ~*~

Monday, August 04, 2014

Psalm 39

I've been reading through the Psalms this year during my morning "quiet time." I read, ponder, and jot down my thoughts and questions. The psalms are much more than lovey-dove songs of worship. I've questioned the anger, the violence, and the honesty expressed by the authors. I shouldn't be surprised, of course, because the psalms were written by people just like us: sometimes full of faith and spiritual wisdom, sometimes upset with life and frustrated by our God who doesn't always answer the way we hope or expect.

Following are my thoughts from Psalm 39.

Since my time on earth is brief, fleeting, a moment, a breath - why should God care about me? I guess because he sees eternity. It's really hard to wrap my little brain around it.

Verse 6 says, "We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing." So much for all our hecticity! I made that word up :) Oh, if I could just put this truth into my heart and soul. I'm not as busy outwardly as many people, but on the inside I'm a veritable whirling dervish. Oh, Lord, let me stop. Let me have such peace on the inside that it oozes onto those around me. It's a delightful picture, but is it me? I can't quite see it. Maybe instead of oozing, I could use the word bubbling. Peaceful bubbling. Better!

Since we are just moving shadows, verse 7 follows very nicely. "And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you."

Lord, I'm a traveler passing through. I'm your guest on this earth. Please leave me alone so I can smile again (verses 12 & 13). Oh, you gotta love David :)

There's much more in Psalm 39, but that's how my brain went this morning.

We're not here for long, so let's enjoy the path set before us, remembering that we are guests on this earth. Eternity awaits.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Icky Okra

I'm from up north, y'all. But do I try to adjust to southern ways and do things with southern charm? You betcha! I mean ... Yes, ma'am!

Take okra. Please! Take okra!! No one seems to really love it, but everyone plants a ton of it in the garden and then tries to give it away to the neighbors. I had never had okra before coming to the farm and I haven't had much since then. It's just so dang slimy!

However, my lovely mother-in-law has shown me a good and easy way to cook the stuff. Yes, it's a little slimy while you're cutting it, but at least it isn't slimy when you put the finished product in your mouth.

Are you getting excited or simply trying not to gag? This is a "wing it" recipe, by the way. I usually need to have exact measurements, so if I can do this, you can too! Here we go.

Fried Taters and Okra
Ingredients: butter, onion, potatoes, okra, salt & pepper, corn meal

Start by choosing your frying pan. That will determine how many potatoes and slimy green veggies you'll need. Chop your onion, cube the potatoes, and slice the okra into rounds. I suggest you use at least twice as much potatoes as okra, but that's just me.
Toss a hunk of butter in the frying pan and throw in the onion and potatoes. Fry until the potatoes just begin to get soft. You can put a lid on it to speed up the process. Then add those charming little okra (okras?). Add salt and pepper, or get creative with some additional spices. I don't care.
If you want to use precooked potatoes, simply fry the okra and onion first and then add the cooked potatoes. Either way, once everything is in the pan, if it's looking a little dry, add some more butter and continue frying until everything is cooked and sizzling nicely.

Next step, sprinkle yellow corn meal over the whole works. Stir. Repeat. The potatoes and okra should have a nice coating of corn meal, but there shouldn't be excess piles of corn meal sitting in the bottom of the frying pan.
Continue to fry until everything looks delightfully browned. Dish it up and holler, "Come and get it!"
By gully, that's good eatin'!

(This post may look strangely familiar to some of you. That's because I originally shared this recipe on my "Piece o' Cake" blog in September of 2012. However, I made Fried Taters and Okra for supper tonight and just knew you'd want the recipe. You're welcome.)

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates

Forrest Gump made a valid point and it was a good movie, but I had my own revelation this morning.

(We interrupt this blog to share a startling truth. The author wrote the title for this post and the first line, which you just read. She then went to the kitchen to eat breakfast, opened the Parade magazine, and the very first line her eyes happened upon was, "Is anything special planned for Forrest Gump's 20th anniversary?" Today, July 6, is the 20th anniversary of the film! And, without knowing that fact, the author chose this very day to make a comment about Forrest Gump? That is so strange and weird and crazy. Not that it matters or means anything, but still.... We now return you to the blog.)

Forrest Gump made a valid point and it was a good movie, but I had my own revelation this morning: Life Is Like Picking Raspberries. Actually, my first thought was Bible study is like picking raspberries. Then I expanded the idea to maybe all study is like picking raspberries. And finally, voila! LIFE is like picking raspberries!

Here's how picking raspberries works. You have an empty container in hand and methodically head in one direction around and through the patch, picking every berry in sight. Perfect! You now have quite a few raspberries in your bowl.
When you turn around, congratulating yourself on a job well done, you are amazed to see some berries hanging right there in front of your eyes. "How did I miss these beauties?" So you retrace your steps, now going in the opposite direction, and you find almost as many berries as you picked on your first pass. Ahh. Life is good.
You could go home now, but if you want to make sure you get all the berries, you have to make one more trip around. This time you'll look underneath the leaves, squatting down for a new point of view and lifting up individual branches to discover more hidden berries. Yum!
No more berries here, right?
Wrong! These were hiding under the leaves.
To get the most berries, this same routine has to be repeated at least every other day. Yes, it's time consuming, but if you like raspberries nearly as much as I do, you'll find it's totally worth the effort.

Who knew there could be so many more raspberries than I gathered on my first trip through the patch? Who knew that every day (or every other day), there is more wisdom and beauty to be discovered? Who knew that every year can reveal so much more than I first understood or imagined?

Life is like a box of chocolates. Life is like picking raspberries. I think I have discovered the ideal: Pick raspberries, then sit down and enjoy them with a box of chocolates. Or, like I did the other day, make a fresh raspberry pie in a chocolate-coated crumb crust.
Ahh. Life is good!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Crap Happens

Cats and kittens fed - not just these two little ones,
but all the big and small in four or five locations around the farm.

Black and red raspberries picked to enjoy with our breakfast.

The psht-psht-psht of the pulsator from the barn
echoing soothingly, almost imperceptibly in my ears.
That's because I'm in the house, not in the milk parlor :)

Yes, life on a dairy farm can seem quite idyllic.
However, my life, just like yours, has plenty of frustrations, problems,
and, to put it bluntly, crap.
To set the record straight, I'm writing a book.

You can read an introduction to the book and a few chapters here. I'll add another chapter every now and then, so keep checking back. More importantly, when I'm done with the painful part of editing the book, I'll publish it and hope you will want to read it in its entirety.

Until then, keep the sunny side up!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Morning Meander

First stop: the big tractor shed. I talk to the kittens (even if I don't see them) in my little "kitty cat" voice so they get used to hearing me. Wild mama Ginger showed up with 4 little ones about two weeks ago, and I got my hands on her two "yellow" ones this morning.
The 2 dark ones are females, the 2 yellow ones are males.
Couldn't get all 4 of them in one photo. Better luck next time?
Next stop: the old granary to feed Ginger's sister Freddie. Freddie has babies, too, but she hasn't brought them out for public display yet. Then on to the hay barn. Indira was out and about, so Pat and I took the opportunity to love on her babies.
Two males. This is definitely the year of the tom cat!
Pat put fresh hay in their cage and mom & babies snuggled in.
This has been a crazy year for cats "stealing" babies, families moving in together, and mothers dragging their youngsters from one locale to another. That's why Indira and her little ones are caged for now.

Marmalade's four are growing and doing well. They started out in the lumber shed, but now hang out under the hay barn.
Yup, four little toms.
After a stop at the milk barn to visit with friends (both human and feline), I finally started my slow stroll down the farm road to the highway.
The obligatory photo of Pilot Mountain.
Weldon has started cutting the wheat.
The wheat is chopped as silage to feed the cows until the corn silage is ready this fall.

Heading home. Notice the Sauratown Mountains behind/above the trees, center right.
A stop at the "poopy pond" to see the ducks.
The mom in the above photo has older babies following her. If you look up and to the right of the mother's head, in the first band of green grass, you'll see a little black spot. That's Hansel (a cat, of course), silently hoping for some dessert. He finally gave up and headed to the shade of our front yard to "catnap" the morning away. 
Here's another mom with "babier" ducklings in her wake.
I wasn't home long before Mom Edith came by with strawberries. She had hulled and cut up three flats for me, so I simply had to add sugar and put them in freezer boxes. The other flat of fresh berries went straight to the fridge for our enjoyment over the next few days.
Mmmm. Berries.
If every morning were as sweet and slow and serene as this one, I could totally live on a farm!

Friday, April 04, 2014

~*~ Kitty Season ~*~

It started on Wednesday. Gretchen had four babies. She's a good mama.
In a box on top of shelving in the old milk parlor.

Four cutie-patootie babies.

On Thursday, LaPli had babies. I had to "point & shoot" in the dark.
In the hay barn, behind hay bales and a cardboard barrel. Looks like five babies!
 This evening, LaPli was out and about, so I tried another shot.
Yup! That's SIX babies.
Ten babies in two days.
Anyone want a kitten?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Rainy Sunday

What do farmers do on a rainy Sunday when they want to get off the farm? Well, they go visit another farm, of course. This past week, Dr. Taft told Weldon about his prolific ewes, one of which had quadruplets and another that had triplets.  He invited us to come see them, so we did.

We drove through the rain to Stauber Farm and Dr. Taft met us at the door. I couldn't help but notice his two beautiful cats in the porch, snuggled together on a fat, round cushion. We need a huge porch with lots of fat, round cushions for all our cats, right?

We crossed the highway, went through a couple gates, and entered the sheepfold. He raises St. Croix Sheep, and you can read about them on his website. (Just click on Stauber Farm above.)
As we walked, Dr. Taft updated us on the sheep. Another ewe had had quadruplets last night! He said his sheep hadn't birthed quadruplets in about six years, so this has been quite the spring. Now I'll just post some pics, because I don't know what else to say, other than they were totally cute, especially the little lambs with their high-pitched bleats.

Don't tell the sheep, but there are some little chicks hiding out in another room of the sheep house, staying cozy under a warming lamp.
The guys below didn't make a peep but kept a close eye on us, perhaps ensuring we weren't up to any shenanigans.
Thank you, Dr. Taft, for introducing us to your delightful animals. Good luck with all those babies!