The Gift

The Gift

I received this week a special gift; it was a book of poems,

written by my brother, the one I’d never known.

As I turned the pages and read his thoughtful words,

it made me sit and marvel at how alike we were.

In my brother’s writings I saw a bit of me,

for poems I too do like to write and beauty I do see.

I saw his joy in family, of nature and of life.

I saw his deep enduring faith, the trust that gave him sight.

And though our lives were different…… and very far apart,

in these things too we shared a bond, we were the same at heart.

Wildlife Extravaganza

The last week has brought some of the coldest temperatures we have ever seen. It also brought  a few surprises not all of which were welcome. Really, who expects their furnace to go all Klingon on them and decide that “Today is a good day to die.” on the coldest day in well over thirty years? Certainly not us, but it did….. and that left us a trifle on the chilly side (even with a wood stove) when the temps dropped to single digits. Fortunately, we had power so we had the oven and, after a trip to town, we had a space heater. We didn’t freeze and neither did the pipes and I am happy to say we have warmed considerably over the last two days.

Among the more pleasant surprises were the visits from the local wildlife, some of whom are seldom seen in the open during daylight hours. Take for instance this fellow. He spent nearly thirty minutes out in the open most of which was spent looking for mice. He found at least one so did not go entirely hungry that day, but it was pretty scant rations against the cold. Perhaps that’s why he came back three times that morning.

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But the best part was this……..

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Waking to a whole herd of Elk grazing in the neighbor’s pasture.

They stayed for an hour and a half and then returned the next morning for another hour.

Truly amazing.

 

Shedding No Tears

Thirty-three years ago we built a little shed. It wasn’t much to look at, but it was considered temporary so it didn’t need to be pretty. Its purpose was to be a construction shed while we built the house.

Soon it became apparent that this shed was useful and too well built to tear down so it became the Pump House/Storage Shed. And then a lean-to was added to hold the new riding mower and a few garden tools.

A few years later we bought a horse for the girls so yet another lean-to was added to hold hay and, of course, provide shelter for said horse. And then a third section was constructed because we had no place to keep the firewood dry. The little shed that wasn’t much to look at got downright ugly. (For the full impact do be sure to click the pic. :))

Ugly Shed

Last year we were preparing for a wedding so the shed got a massive makeover. The first things to go were all the lean-to sections. Then we stripped it down to bare bones, added siding and put a new roof on it. And for the first time in over thirty years, the ugly little shed became downright cute.

Pretty Shed

 

Then we got chickens.

You can guess where this is going can’t you?

We were going to build a nice new coop, but some life emergencies got in the way. There was plenty of room in the shed so, you guessed it, we decided to remodel the shed again. The chickens would get the end over there by the door and the other end would remain as the pump house.

Mark emptied it and tore a couple of walls back to the studs so he could frame for windows and move the door to the back side on the other end nearer to the plumbing. In the process he found a bit of dry rot around the foundation so he also replaced several boards with treated lumber.

All was going well. And then he got to the plumbing and noticed some potential problems around the tanks due to water damage. Like all good builders, he decided to fix it while he had easy access and proceeded to drain the tanks.

Remember how I said all was going well?

Well all of the sudden it wasn’t. I heard a creak, looked up from my computer and out the window just in time to see this happen.

 

Shed No More

 

The entire building collapsed before my eyes and Mark was nowhere to be seen. I knew he was in the shed and my heart just about stopped.

I went running and remember yelling his name several times before I finally heard a grumpy-growly “WHAT?” and saw him emerge from under the roof.

Ummm, oh I don’t know, the shed collapsed and I got a little worried because ummm, oh I don’t know, I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD!

What indeed!

Mark was unharmed. There was no warning until that first creak, but when he heard it he knew it was going and dove thru the open back wall and hit the dirt. The building fell right over the top of him, but nothing actually hit him. Praise God!

But it did completely knock out the water system. Fortunately, we know how to deal with that and with the help of good neighbors brought in enough water to see us thru a couple of days while Mark set to repairing the water system.

We are not entirely sure what caused the collapse, but did find more rot in one corner that could not be seen because the platform the water tanks sat on hid it from view. Mark also thinks that draining the tanks may have caused a shift in weight. The building did twist just before it collapsed so I think it quite likely both factors played a role.

Three days later, it is still hard to take it in.

But we are resilient and will rebuild. Mark already has the water restored and site cleanup is going on today.

There is also a life lesson here.

It is the rot you don’t see that is the most dangerous. It’s true in buildings and it’s true in life in general. One would do well to dig deep from time to time to check for it and make the needed repairs to ensure that everything doesn’t come tumbling down around you when you least expect it.

 

Peeps

There are new sounds coming from my basement.

Interesting sounds that I find strangely soothing.

It has everything to do with a recent trip to farm country and a feed store.

And fulfilling a dream.

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Meet the new kids…….. all 15.

Five each of the following breeds; Leghorns, Barred Plymouth Rock and of course Rhode Island Reds.

Little Red Hens were a must have.

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My husband had to have the Leghorns. It had something to do with childhood and a chicken named Foghorn.

Really Real Mail

Most days the mail is pretty boring; nothing more than advertising and bills.

But every once in awhile something really special happens that makes you smile all afternoon.

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Color me smiling. :)

Who Would You Be?

In December of 1998, I wrote the following essay as my Christmas letter to a dear friend. I offer it to you now as a reminder of simpler times and, most of all, why we celebrate.

Merry Christmas and may God bless you forever.

~~~~~~~~~~

While wandering down memory lane recently, I got to thinking about Christmas pageants. They used to be a major part of my Christmas past.

Little boys in oversized bathrobes, striped dish towels draped on their heads; little girls dressed in white with gold tinsel halos; wise men in their cardboard crowns; Mary wears blue and Joseph’s in brown. I don’t know why Joseph always wore brown. Shepherds were often seen in blue terrycloth.

Usually, I was an angel or at least dressed as one, but I always wanted to be Mary. After all, she got to wear the pretty blue robe with a lovely scarf artfully arranged on her head and she was the star….. or so I thought at the time.

Once I actually got to play Mary. It was harder than I thought it would be to sit so still looking adoringly upon the doll in the manger, but I managed to pull it off. I was so proud.

Few hold these pageants today. Even in our churches we want something new, something with more glitz. The Christmas pageant of yesteryear is considered old fashioned, passe’ or worse, politically incorrect. I’ve come to realize it is none of those things. We have lost more than we have gained in giving them up.

I miss the simple telling of the story. I miss singing the hymns. In short, I miss Christmas pageants, especially those performed by children.

With that in mind, I pose to you the question I have been pondering. If you could, who would you like to be in the Christmas pageant?

Would you be an Angel robed in heavenly splendor, singing eternal praises to God most high?

Would you be a Shepherd fearful at the sudden appearance of a heavenly being? What an experience it must have been as the glory of the Lord shone about them and the glorious sounds of heavenly praise filled the night.

Would you be a Wise Man following a star? “For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” All worldly business put aside that they might pursue something greater than themselves.

Would you be Joseph? Here was an example to all mankind of honor, compassion, faith, and most of all, obedience.

Or would you be Mary?

What an honor to be chosen as the mother to the King of Kings and yet, a burden that would pierce her own heart in time. Can you imagine being in the presence of an angel bearing such news? Confusion, fear, great joy, greater sorrow were all part of her story. And what of that night of nights? Traveling all day, tired knowing the time was near, yet no place to lie down with any degree of comfort, birth in a stable; what do you suppose she felt then?

The visitors came to see the baby, yet not to coo or engage in endless talk of little meaning. They came to worship; to stand in awe and wonder, contemplating the miracle before them. Something wonderful had happened, this they knew, for the shepherds had told their tale and a new star shown brightly in the heavens. Do you suppose, that for even the briefest of moments, they realized they were looking upon the savior of the world?

Dare they hope……….

Would you be among the visitors?

The stage is set, the time draws near….. who would you be in the Christmas pageant?

O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him,

O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.

It Isn’t a Curve

My plan was to pop over here for a minute or so to double-check the new address and look around for a bit to make sure all was ship-shape. And to my complete dismay I discovered I have forgotten my way around this new house. Oh, the key opened the front door just fine, but it didn’t turn on the lights or hand me a floor plan directing me to the kitchen and the nearest bathroom. These things are important after a long journey.

Still, I am here. And even if I’m stumbling around in a dark, tripping over things while searching for the light switch, it is better than being locked out entirely. I can just picture it…me ,with my nose pressed up against the window, peering in and thumping on the glass in the hopes of catching someone’s attention.

At least I was spared that pathetic scenario. And I did manage to locate a flashlight so I’m not totally in the dark. And I found a control panel so there is hope of lights again soon though first I must study the manual that’s written in Geek and re-learn how it all works.

I am told it is a Learning Curve, but, in all honesty, I don’t understand why. I mean, is it a curve because you go round in circles or is it a curve because first you go up and then you go down and, if you are lucky, you go up again? If that’s the case, then it isn’t a curve, it’s a freakin’ Roller Coaster……in the dark!

Space Mountain all over again.

Beet Brain

I’ve had beets on my mind for days. Most probably because my beet patch is ready to harvest and I’ve been looking at ways to preserve them for winter.

Today I tried a new recipe and think it shows great promise; Red Root Relish.

It is a mixture of beets, purple cabbage, onions and sweet red pepper cooked in a vinegar-sugar-salt solution.

A little taste before canning confirmed the potential and I truly do believe this will be down-right tasty after the flavors meld a few weeks.

Winter food just got a little more interesting. :)

 

Taking a Garden Stroll

It was such a beautiful day my camera and I went for a stroll through the garden just before sunset.

We saw all sorts of wonderful things like these “Prairie Sun” Gloriosa Daisies…..

And these beautiful dahlias. This one is called “Hot Rod”.

Then we wandered out to the vegetable garden which is a bit like walking through Jurassic Park. Everything is scary big.

But all sorts of delightful surprises are just waiting to be found.

Like these beautiful beets……..

And a tomato finally showing signs that it might ripen before the first frost.

Reason enough to return again soon.

 

Yetzirah Did Ask

After my last post I was gently chastised for not posting any pictures. I am here this day to remedy my oversight.

Keep in mind the drawers do not give up their secrets all at once…….

They prefer to tease…….

Add a little mystery…….

Before they show it all.

And then they get kinky and invite friends……….egad it’s getting hot in here.

And before you know it there is an all out strip tease going on!

Where is the  bump and grind music when you need it?