Monday, March 31, 2008

And Then Came The Rains.....

The heavens opened and down came the rain and more rain and more rain. Water gushed across our yard and headed toward my garden and all those potatoes I had just planted. I'm hoping they don't all wash away!

The water was going over the spillway down at the pond and the boat was in danger of floating away, never to be seen again.

So the kid's Poppy  brought up the 4-wheel drive and we went to check out how high the water was. For the second time since we moved out to the 80 acre homestead, the road was flooded blocking our exit into town by going North. My daughter kept reminding us to "turn around , don't drown" from the back seat of the truck. So we watched to see if the oncoming car would give it a try, then backed up the hill and went south. Again, the road was blocked. By now, being a person who hates being blocked in, I was hunting for a paper bag to breathe into. So again we backed up and this time headed west. The deluge of rain had done a number washing out the road, but it appeared to be open going into town that direction. When we got back home, my daughter donned her husband's boots and we took the boys and headed across the yard to check out the damage. Everywhere we walked we kept sinking into the ground. The boys thought it was a hoot. It started thundering so I grabbed the kids and made a dash for the house, sinking into the wet ground every step of the way. We were all muddy by the time we got back , but what fun it was!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Cherry Tree

Today we picked up another Cherry tree at Lowe's. We plant fruit trees every year on the 80 acre homestead because the deer usually destroy in one way or another our trees. The kid's Poppy found a cider press at an auction one year and has this dream of making his own cider using the old press. However, we don't have much luck with the apple trees either. But, we'll plant again.

Mark and Koda think anything their "poppy" is doing they should be helping with, so everyone jumped into the jeep and headed for the orchard. "Poppy" had already brought shovels for each of them thinking years from now they will remember having a part in planting "the cherry tree."

Mark couldn't figure out why we were only planting one tree. Poppy assured him we would plant more but the store only had one today. I like the way that little one thinks. Never plant just one of anything, that's my motto!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Finally, The Potatoes Are Planted!

Finally, the ground dried up enough to plant the potatoes. Unfortunately, it was only about 45 Degrees outside. There is something wrong with planting the garden and wearing a coat at the same time! It has rained for a week and is suppose to rain again for the next few days, so if the potatoes were to get planted at all , we needed to don the coats and get on with it. The old-timers always said potatoes were to have been planted by St. Patrick's Day and today is March 29th so we are already behind schedule!

The kid's Poppy  had plowed the ground a couple weeks ago before the big rains so he now attached a harrow to the back of the four-wheeler and ran it over the ground to break up the sod. Then he ran the tiller over that to loosen up the dirt even more. Now we were ready for the fun part, the manual labor.

We had picked up some red and white potatoes from the store, but I wanted more variety than that, so I went to our local greenhouse and they had five different kinds. I remembered we cut the potatoes up with eyes left on each piece, but I did not know how many potatoes I would need so I figured 5 lbs of each one sounded good. We planted Red Pontiac, Yukon Gold, Norland, Kennebec, and Cobblers and ended up with five pretty long rows. My "roll her eyes around" daughter thought I was just kidding when I told her we would be filling up the root cellar with potatoes! My son's dog couldn't figure out why we were planting something that looked like it was meant to be played with in the ground. He was so confused!

I couldn't remember how far apart to plant the potatoes so I just winged it. Some of them were spaced about 20 inches apart and some looked like they had been sowed, so we will just have to see how things turn out. I am finding that I don't stoop and bend as well as I use to . Poppy  says he will have to design a fork to attach to the tractor before time to dig all those potatoes. He is good at that sort of thing and I am counting on it!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Tiny, Little Spot

Taken from my journal Feb. 06:

I stopped in at my daughter's house on my way home from work tonight. My plans were to work in the greenhouse while it was still warm outside. When I got to her house and my young grandson heard I was going to be outside, he begged me to let him go too. I was in a hurry, but I told him if he would bring me his shoes and if he hurried, I would take him with me.

He crawled up on my lap and just as I was about to put on his shoes, he noticed a teeny, tiny ketchup spot on his sock. He kicked and squirmed and had a little fit because he did not want his shoe on with that little spot on his sock. Being in a hurry, I had to forcefully put his shoe on and make him get up and walk.

I am reminded that many times we are like this little child. We have some little, thing that we are focusing and obsessing over , and it is affecting our walk too. It might be a hurt, an offense or whatever. Instead of focusing on that , God wants us to get up, put our shoes on and walk with Him!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Summer Of My Refreshment

I love old things! I love going through flea markets and antique stores and walking around and touching old pieces of wood that someones ancestors probably hand carved and picking up delicate pieces of china that probably were stored for years in someone's old china cabinet, only to be taken out on very special occasions. And I have a special place in my heart for old quilts and hand embroidered pieces. I can remember as a little girl going to grand-ma Virgie's house and her quilting rack would be up and she would be once again working on a quilt. So I am a bit of a sucker at auctions when old quilts come up for sale. I will buy them if possible and adopt them into my family heirlooms.
I have one very special sister-in-law named Lola whose home I love to visit. A sense of peace and tranquility seems to invade every part of her home. And she loves to not only make quilts , but she loves to embroider, crochet and cross-stitch. How I envy her that ability! Some times when life seems to be getting too much and I need a break, I like to go to her home and wander around and touch the home-made things. She's very creative and some of the things I see she has made, I think "I can do that too." She has taken an old window frame and put antique tractor pictures behind each pane and hung it on the wall. My father-in-law hunted me down an old window so I could do the same. He did some logging when he was young and I want to take some old family pictures and enlarge them and put them behind the panes in that old window. But, I would never have thought of doing that until I went to Lola's house.
Another thing she has done that I want to also do, is make a memory quilt. She took a small quilt and attached assorted sewing implements to it, including sewing scissors, old, wooden thread spools, old buttons etc. I have several old things from my grand-mother's sewing box , especially a couple of small , round doilies that she made that I can also add to my quilt. Even old pictures can be added to the quilt. I am not a very creative person, but I can see what someone else has done and make something like it work for me.
Sometimes, I have to remind myself to slow down and take time to do the things I really enjoy . If we are not careful, life can get so hectic that the really important things seem to get shoved aside and we don't make time to do the things that give "rest to our souls." I have decided that this summer will be the "summer of my refreshment" or a time in my life when I will concentrate on doing the things that I enjoy the most. Gardening will probably take up most of my time and that is O.K. because God speaks to me many times during my times in the garden, but I also want to do some of those things that I have been putting off for so long. I want to wander through more flea markets , visit friends that I haven't seen for a long time, have some special "Hicksey Chicks" times with my sisters and even spend time sitting in my porch swing drinking a glass of tea and enjoying the sounds of nature. I'm going to slow down and learn to "wait upon the Lord." At this time in my life, my children are all gone from home, I don't need to work as hard as I use to just to keep the things of home going and I want to enjoy life while I am healthy and able to do so. So the promise I am making to myself is to learn to relax.......and stop doing the busy things.....and start doing the fun things...........

Faith, Family, Friends

I have a plaque that says "Faith, Family, Friends" on it in my bedroom and I believe those three things are the most important things in life. Without any of the three, your life will never be whole. Today, we joined with other family members and celebrated Easter at Poppy's  sister and brother-in-law's house. As I sit back and reflect on the days happenings , I have a sense of satisfaction in knowing that even though life moves on, and our kids will grow up and leave home and have their own families, that there will always be special occasions that draw us all back together again. And as with today, there will be good food, lively conversation where we catch up on what's happening in one anothers lives and it's also a time of being thankful that we have been given this day to enjoy being with one another.

First, we got to welcome a new baby into the family! Nothing fills you with such wonder as picking up a new baby and touching the softness of their little skin. I believe each little child is a special gift from God and He has entrusted us with it's care. How sweet and precious that little fella was and it seemed such a short time ago that his mother was a baby too. How fast time moves on! And nothing can compare to watching a proud, new grandpa hold his first grandson.

And, we got to meet a new fiance-a new future member of the family. And cousins got to get together with other cousins , some they barely knew. But that doesn't matter, because the important part was they were with cousins.

And of course, we had to have an Easter Egg Hunt.

Janet, the one I think we need to designate as the family historian brought her scrapbook albums and we looked through old pictures of ancestors and marveled at how each generation really does resemble their ancestors. And how fascinating it is to see pictures of your moms and dads and grandparents when they were young and hear the stories of how they met and what life was like when they were young. Thanks Janet for all the hard work you put into the scrapbooks. Someday, there will be a generation following that will thank you for what you have done!!

And what fun it was to watch the wonder on my own grand-kids face as we all trekked outside and saw the sights that you miss out on when you don't live on a farm. Who can describe the awe on a child's face when they see that eggs can be gathered from the chicken coop instead of from the grocery store! Or touch the soft down of a baby duck and watch baby chicks as they huddle together under the light to keep them warm. And what a delight it is to watch a small child try to sneak up on the chickens , all the while thinking they will eventually get fast enough to catch one. I'm a firm believer that all children should get to visit a farm somewhere so they can get personal and up close with the animals.

I like to laugh and tease my family but in reality I am thankful to have been grafted in to become a part of this little group. My heart is moved when my mother-in-law tells me her heart still "thumps" when she sees her husband and you see the love is still there after many, many years of being married. And I feel very honored when she kisses me good-by and tells me what a good daughter-in-law I am .

Faith, Family, Friends.

Make sure all three make up a part of your life and you will be blessed because of it!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cattle Panels- Best Thing Since Duct Tape

I have found that cattle panels are an indispensable part of living on the 80 acre homestead. The kid's Poppy  and two of my grandsons unloaded some I bought recently. Apparently, the littlest one did not like the noise because you will notice he has his ears covered.

I have cut them up and used them as a trellis for my clematis to run up, shaped them into a giant U-shape and trained my wisteria to climb up and over the top, trained my grapevines to run up the top of one, and run them in rows in my garden for my tomato vines to have something to support them. Now I plan on circling the perimeter of my garden with them so as to keep the deer out . And they are inexpensive!!!

I learned the hard way though that you do not want to haul them home in the back of a new pick-up. They do terrible things to your paint job!

The Pond

We live in the country on a 80 acre homestead and I enjoy praying as I walk our land. I believe God has given this piece of property to us for a purpose, as well as wanting us to enjoy living here. One day as I was walking and praying I was asking God what His purpose for this place is to be. I want to know His plan so I can agree and pray it will come about.
I decided to walk to my daughter's house by way of the pond. You can see the pond from my house in the distance, but I had not walked around it for a while, so I was shocked when I got close up. I was aware we had not had rain for a while, and were in a drought, but I was still shocked to see how very low the water was. When you live in town, and your water is piped in, and all you have to do is turn on the faucet to get water, you don't think about what the farmers in the country are dealing with during a drought.
Now , because the level of water in the pond was so low, you could see the tree roots out of the water. And, you could also see all the limbs and branches and "crap" that is in the pond also. Stuff that is normally below the water. Stuff that has always been there, but because the pond was previously full of water--it was hidden.
The Lord spoke to me that this pond was like us individually and also like the Body of Christ. There are ugly, destructive things in all of us that we will not deal with until dry times come. The good thing about a drought is that it forces us to have to see and thus deal with all the junk that is hidden down deep within us. Things we don't see when times are good or maybe things we did not realize were even there. And not only can we now see this stuff, but others can also see it. When the water dries up, everything that is in the pond is visible. There are things hidden within each of us that God wants us to deal with. And many times, we wait until we go through dry times in our lives, when the water is withheld--before we are willing to deal with them.
God spoke to me that this pond needed cleaned out, just as each of us need cleansed, and just as the Body of Christ needs cleansed of all the junk that has accumulated in it over time. And so, He had me get my rake and begin to reach into the water and pull out the limbs and branches and pop cans and dead trees that had fallen into the water over time. And to throw them back up over the pond bank where they could eventually be burned. It was dirty, tedious , hard work. But what God was having me do in the natural, was symbolic of what was also needing to be done in the spiritual realm. We ourselves, as well as the Body of Christ, is in need of some "junk" being cleaned out of it. God wants a vessel He can work through. He wants us to be a House of Righteousness. We must be willing to let Him deal with those things that we have in us that need to go, those things that are displeasing to Him, those things that we have allowed to remain in us thinking no one else can see. When the rains come again, the pond will not only be functional , it will also be beautiful. It will be a place where others can come and find "rest for their souls." A place of peace and tranquility.
Recently, much activity has taken place around the pond. The rains have come and the pond is once again filling up with water. To look at it now , you would have no indication that it had so much debris in it. Neighbors have brought their families over to fish and have enjoyed being able to sit under the shade trees (that have been trimmed) and to walk up to the waters edge without having to worry about snakes in the tall grass (the grass has been mowed and weed-eated). We have enjoyed taking the paddle boat out. I have watched the deer in the evenings play around the pond as they go lo
oking for a drink. I have seen my grandson's "pet turkey" as well as a duck enjoying the waters edge. We have pitched a tent down by the pond and watched the moon and stars overhead and listened to the frogs and other night sounds heard around the pond.
Am I done workin

g around the pond? I have a feeling it will be a continual process. But God keeps using the pond to show me things that relate to everyday life. I continue to ask Him to open my eyes and unplug my ears so I can see and hear in a spiritual way, instead of only in the natural. If we will all do this , I believe He will speak many things to us and show us many things, and He will do it using everyday wonders like a pond.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Grandma Lizzie's Journal

My Grandma Lizzie loved to write. I mostly remember her writing while sitting in her rocking chair by the window and writing poetry. I began to do some genealogy studies of my family and unearthed a family history record that my grandmother wrote before she died. Please, please , please do the next generation in your family a favor and write down your family history before you can no longer tell it. My grandmother wrote " Where I made my biggest mistake was not writing this History long ago, when I was able to do more about it. Now I'm not able to do much about it, too many of the family passed on." At this time she was trying to track down birth dates and info on family members. She did write as much history of her grand-parents as possible and I am so thankful for that. I now have these wonderful stories of my , let me see, great-great-grandparents to read about and pass on to my children. At the end of the family history, my grandmother also wrote the following, "Many things come to my mind now that should have been written in this history, but will let well enough alone for this time I am now 81 years old and a little hard to write , but I still don't wear glasses." She signed it "written by Granddaughter that wrote history." What a great way to be remembered! As the one who wrote history!! So as I have time, I will put some of my grand-mothers writings in my blog. My husband and I hunted down the old homestead that she wrote about and took some pictures . Thankfully, it was still standing. Today's writings will be about the house and the old well. Here's Grandma Lizzie's story:

"Now Tandy (this would have been Grandma Lizzie's grandfather) traded another team of oxen (old Jim and Sam) for another 40 acres about 2 miles south of the new home. This farm also was unfenced and had a large one room log house and was mostly in timber. The family had to carry all their drinking water and cooking water from a spring called the Mercy Spring on an adjoining farm about one-half mile away. Several other neighbors carried all their water from this same spring, this was done for about two years until the two sons George and Robert, now 15 and 20, dug their first well. They also dug wells on the south forty. These wells were about thirty feet deep with an ample supply of water and were known as the best soft water wells in the county. To this day there has never been a pump on either of them. In those days there was no such thing as a refrigerator, so the milk, butter and cream were hung in a bucket by a small rope down in the well to keep it fresh. The water must be drawn by adults so as not to get it in the well for if this did happen , then the well must be cleaned out, which was no small job.
The old log house burned in 1912 and new frame house was built in its place, which is still standing but has been vacant for some time. The old farm is all in pasture now and the two large maple trees in the north yard and a large cottonwood tree in the south yard next to the kitchen were killed by the fire when the old house burned. They had to be cut when the new house was built. So this ends the story of a fine, old pioneer family. "

From what I can tell from the old records and from what living family members can tell me, it seems both my great-grand-parents died in this old house. They had 14 children, including my Grandma Lizzie. My great-grandmother Mary died first in 1923 at the age of 47 and my Grandma Lizzie and Grandpa Art moved into the old homestead and lived there until my Great-Grandfather Johnce died also in 1931 at the age of 64. He never remarried after the death of his beloved wife. My dad tells me they were not sure of what my great-grandmother died of, but that my great-grandfather sat in a rocking chair and held her in his lap till she was gone. She still had young ones at home to mourn her death. How sad! This may be boring to some of you but I find it fascinating!

Emily's Fishing Trip

My oldest son Kevin took his daughter Emily fishing down at the pond one afternoon. He caught a good bunch of fish as you can see. He is such a good father and spends as much individual time as he can with each one of his kids , of which he has five. I am sure this is a special memory for Emily too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Winter is for the birds

Some people love winter and snow and I know it is very beautiful, but personally I think winter is for the birds!

Remember when you were a child and would pull the icicles off the roof and suck on them? Probably not too healthy but we all survived. We have the strangest weather. It can snow one day, rain and melt it all off the next, be 75 degrees the next and then start all over again. Today, we need to start building the ark because it won't stop
raining and flash flood warnings are everywhere.

Spring , please come ...

Tea Party Tradition

My son Kevin and his wife Jennifer have three daughters and two sons. I wanted to start a special tradition with the girls that they would remember all their lives. How I loved my grandmother and even now remember the special times we spent together. There were six girls in my own family while growing up and we had a beloved Blue Willow Tea set. I can still remember mom getting the little tea set down from the cabinet and carefully taking each little piece out of the box that held it. So Jennifer and I put our heads together and came up with the idea of an annual Tea Party. Each girl would invite another little girl that she considered a very special friend. And all the young ladies would come dressed in their very finest party dresses. The table was set with my ninety year old great Aunt Myrtle's china and special hor'dourves and punch would be served. Our goal was to make this tea party a memorable event to always be remembered. Each year, Jennifer would pick out a special gift for each little lady to be able to take home with her and she would also plan a time of sharing something from the past. This last year, she brought a necklace that had been given to her by someone special in her life. The year before we invited a very special guest who shared memories of living during the "great depression" . Her name was "Mrs. Laura" and we were also delighted because she brought with her some of the hand work she had done during her lifetime which included embroidery and crocheted items. It is so important that we take time to share with one another our own heritage while we are able to do so. How I loved my own grandmother telling me stories of when she was young! I am a great fan of antiques and old jewelry and I like to include a trip up to my loft area where I can show the young ladies all the things I have collected and share with them why they are so special to me. We tried on old jewelry that belonged to my own family members and felt the fabric and netting on my collection of antique hats. Over the years I have also collected miniature tea sets and they are displayed in china cabinets. Someday each of my grand-daughters will be given one of those tea sets for their own. I believe it is so important to preserve the things of the past that bring back special memories to us and then take time to share those memories with those we love. If you have little girls in your family, think about starting your own family tradition such as the tea party Jennifer and I do every year. The young ladies will remember it always!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mom's Red Bowl

I grew up in a small, rural town. We had eight children in our family and I was the oldest girl. Looking back I suppose we must have been poor, but I guess we didn't know it. We raised our own chickens, pigs, had at least one milk cow, raised our own beef and planted a huge garden every year. My dad worked hard to provide for his eight kids and my mom stretched every dollar they had to the max. My dad worked the garden with Belgium horses because he liked doing it that way. I grew up helping my mom can all that stuff that we raised and my whole family helped when chicken killing time came around. So we probably ate better than most. One meal that mom fixed for us on special occasions or on Sunday mornings was chocolate gravy with homemade biscuits. Those biscuits as well as homemade bread was made in a very special bowl that we called "the red bowl." It sat in a special place of honor on top of the kitchen cabinet probably so it would be out of reach of the eight kids. Mom's recipe was simple. It consisted of self-rising flour mixed with milk. Instead of rolling them out, she would simply drop them by teaspoonful into a hot, well-oiled cast iron skillet. Then they were popped into the oven and baked until they were fluffy and golden brown. And they were best eaten while they were so hot you could hardly hold them and with butter dripping down the side of them. Boy, were they out of this world! Mom would also make what we called chocolate gravy to go with them. I am going to try and find that old recipe, because I would like to make it and see if it really did taste as good as I remembered it. For some reason, I think it was more like a chocolate pudding, but she served it hot with those delicious biscuits. My mom is now in the Alzheimers Unit in the town in which I live and all her old recipes that did not get written down are now lost to us. Unfortunately, the red Fireking bowl was dropped and broken . But thanks to the wonders of Ebay, I was able to purchase the identical bowl, which now sits on top of my kitchen cabinet beside my mom's old perculator and my grandmothers rolling pin. I love being surrounded by the old things we use to have when we were kids and when I see them, they take me down memory lane to a time when we were poor and didn't know it and to a time when life was so much more simpler than now. I find it interesting that the old dishes and things we used when we were kids held no value to us then, but now a whole generation my age is searching antique stores as well as flea markets trying to find those same old things we wanted no part of when we were young. And we are now willing to pay big bucks to get them. Go figure. By the way, check out my new web site.