Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What It's All About

262/365 First Snow
Today, this last day of November seemed to really kick off that Christmastime Feel.  I was humbled by a beautiful post and gesture initiated by Se'lah that I whole heartily participated in.  Thank you Se'lah for your generous spirit!

As I headed to pick the kids up from school, a fine, light snow began to fall.  I was listening to Christmas music in the car and watching the dreamy blowing of this snow on the roads.  It danced like sand across a road in the desert where I so long ago resided.  Talk about moving from one extreme to another!

Then as the parents were all huddled outside the school.  We braced ourselves against the wind that feels so bitter to us now, but will be balmy in a few months.  The bell rings and out come the kids.  Chorus after Chorus of SNOW....IT'S SNOWING!!!  Open mouths trying to catch these tiny powdery flakes.  Pure, innocent joy at it's best!

Once home I began a warming chicken tortellini soup.  I smiled as I dug down in the bucket full of damp peat moss in the root cellar to grab a few garden carrots;  this is what it's all about.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Creating Dreams

As we turn our attentions indoors, we have gone from garden planting, nurturing, harvesting and preserving to planning, and dreaming.  I'm only thinking of this now because last night I caught a glimpse of one of our kitchen chalk boards.  We had it loaded with goals early this spring and had crossed them all off!  So a month or so ago, I began to refill it.  When I saw it last night I excitedly realized that I could cross two of the items off already.  Never fear, I added two more, and since I began writing this post, can add another two.  

We will enjoy Christmas and the New Year with loads of traditions and love.  Our planning/dreaming process will not start in earnest until mid January.   It is at this time that the cold and snow will have truly set in and we will be antsy to be productive.  What is so amazingly fun about this time of year is that I can look back on all of the crazy things we planned last year and see just how much of it we accomplished.  This type of reinforcement further bolsters our ambitions.  I so look forward to many years of this as we create our dream~ our homestead.

How Was Your Thanksgiving?

Zoo 2010
We are back, settled (transferred all of the photos), and had a great trip!  We spent Monday at the zoo and it was a great day.  I'd say the only hitch was it was supposed to be 60 and it was 40 and windy.  It certainly made running between the indoor exhibits a priority!

I think the zoo was a great pace setter for our trip.  Full of colorful family moments, beautiful light and quite contemplation. Add in a few batty excursions, waterfalls of conversation, and eating an amazing meal~ Perfect!  How was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One Word Wednesday~ Splatter

What a great word we have today, this day full of Thanksgiving preparations!  Please check out this great weekly post that is the brainchild of Jillsygirl and being hosted over at  Sally G.  for a few weeks.
Rays 2010 TG 025
I've spent the last few days paying close attention to the smattering of splatter around me.  Being in Kansas this week and spending a little time on country roads you can see there is a definite pattern of splatter on all of the cars around. 
Rays 2010 TG 001
As we have chased the sun this week coming further South, we've been given another hour of daylight and a giant picture window out of the back of my mother-in-law's house over vast stretches of farmland, a perfect frame for the amazing splatter of colors across the evening sky every night.   It looks as if Van Gogh has taken his paintbrush thick with oils and liberally stroked the horizon. 
Rays 2010 TG 027
Sid, even got into the spirit yesterday after hearing the word and drew her impression of ~splatter~, a splatter bug, I think it highlighted her new bling strings so well! 
Rays 2010 TG 026
Now onto the most important splatter of the week...preparations of the Thanksgiving meal.  We began last night leaving just a smudge of splatter.  I'm certain as I head out to begin making three different kinds of pie today, there will be very tasty splatter all around!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Change of Scenery

255/365 Change of Scenery

November has been a tough photography month for me. It seems that after the leaves finished changing and falling and the stark greyness began to emerge, I had a hard time finding inspiration. I felt like I was capturing the same thing over and over.

On Friday when we hit the road for Kansas, that stale feeling seemed to melt away and I've been taking pictures right and left! My posting may be a little sporadic this week, since we're deeply involved in visiting, but I'm finding my photo mojo again and am so happy!  A little change of scenery seems to be just what I needed!  Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chasing The Sun

 Do you ever feel that there is a convergence of thought or at least of similar things that all at once hit you?

This evening as I was driving the kids home from school,  I caught a glimpse of the most amazing sunset.  The cold clouds, low on the horizon, had just slit apart and the sun's blinding ball of fire was peering through.  I drove past the house to a nearby field to capture a picture.  I got a few shots in, but apparently my p & s is on the fritz and the photos were less than stellar...sorry.

Anyway,  as I watched this, I  remembered B saying, just after noon on Sunday, "wow, look how low the sun is in the sky!"  How true!  Did I mention that the time that I saw this beautiful sky this evening was at 4:15?  This time of year the sun stays low, just under the radar, every day.  When you are lucky enough to capture it on a cloudless day it seems bright, yet muffled, barely warming the cold air.

I wonder if this muted feeling is what contributes to the amazing comfort we receive from the special warmth of home that comes this time of year.  We begin our drive tomorrow toward our Kansas Thanksgiving homecoming, and will gain a few more minutes of sunlight.  I look forward to chasing the sun as it dances across the sky, 600 miles South.  

Happy Weekend! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One Word Wednesday~ Dynamic


For the next few weeks we are posting over at Sally G's  for One Word Wednesday.  Jillsygirl is taking a break while she prepares for family holiday fun!  Thanks for hosting Sally!

dy·nam·ic [ dī námmik ]

**Vigorous and purposeful: full of energy, enthusiasm, and a sense of purpose and able both to get things going and to get things done.

What a perfect word as we prepare for a season full of activity!  Loads of travels to family.  The Hustle and bustle of gift making, baking, cooking and visiting.  I'm prepping to head out of town right now, our Thanksgiving drive to Kansas commences on Friday afternoon.  So much to do and I'm a bit draggy instead of my typical dynamic self as I'm trying to fight some bug, grrr!  Draggy or not, I will be able to both get things going and get things done (i.e. get this family of four on the road)!

**Active and changing: characterized by vigorous activity and producing or undergoing change and development.

Sidney has had a huge project she's been working on and it consumed all of our time yesterday.  So I was belated in going through Charles' folder.  I found the note this morning that his teacher is going on a leave of absence for an indeterminate period of time and he will have a substitute.  Quite unexpected, and I suspect will produce an interesting new dynamic that he and his classmates will have to adjust to.

**Relating to energy and motion: involving or relating to energy and forces that produce motion.

Today, we are blog hopping! Such a perfect picture. The wonderful dynamics of this group dynamically hopping from blog to blog to read about each others dynamic illustrations!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mom, Dreams Really Do Come True!

A few weeks ago, on one of our regular Sundays,  a very unusual thing happened.  Sidney came running up to me saying..."Mom!  Dreams really do come true!  One of my dreams has always been to hold a wild bird and I just did,  dad got it on his iPhone!"  Yes, indeed.  A small sparrow got stuck in the barn and allowed my little girl to approach it and pick it up.  Once outside, she set it free.  Off it went into the crisp Autumn air.

I wonder how she dreams?  Does she have a succinct list of dreams, or just vague longings? I've always been very much a list maker.  But when it comes to dreams, or achievements, my thoughts are much more broad and become more refined in the moments preceding my achievement of one.  Many bloggy friends make a bucket list of sorts for things they want to accomplish in a certain period of time, or by some landmark.  Today, I am two years from my 40th year.  I feel like I'm constantly working on and realizing my dreams.  Maybe a goal for the coming year will be to try to better articulate each milestone I want to achieve.  Something to think about, this day, as I revel in the simple splendor of one of my daughters dreams.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chicken Wrangling

243/365 Sunny Side Up

This was the last weekend before we head to Kansas for Thanksgiving break.  Between that and seeing the first big snow storm of the season not too far from us, we really felt the pressure was on!  We had to tackle the most important of tasks...re-locating the hens to the barn.

Now, before you write this off as a breeze, this seemingly simple task is anything but.  First, B finished building a screen door to limit hen access to the area we had prepared.  I was truly amazed at how this hubby of mine can just head out to his shop and 30 minutes later have made a screen door, awesome!  Light and heat timers set, food and water ready, now just to get the birds. 

Since we are relocating where they roost, we needed to catch them.  This is loads of fun (note heavy sarcasm).  We put them one by one in a large tub with a cover and then as we add another hen to the tub, try not let the scared one(s) inside escape.  In the first batch we transported 4 in the tub and one sneaky devil managed to escape and headed, at amazing speed, for the sumac forest.   Grrr, after the hawk issue last week, I didn't want anyone running around in the open.  In the second batch we got 5, and one more made a break for it.  We transported the last 5 with little consequence. 

Now for the wrangling....there are two lovelies who have gone AWOL.  Now queue some banjo music....picture the four of us chasing, coaxing, herding, yelling, climbing in tall brush, running, jumping from side to side and waving arms wildly, until finally we wrangle the two into a space where we are surrounding them on all sides and slowly walking toward them. After this 20 minute chase, they walk quite contentedly into the chicken tractor.  Yes, it was great exercise and once we brought them to join the others, the rooster let us know, by the raise of his hackles, that our performance was unacceptable, but the new digs made up for it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lift As You Climb....

What is World Kindness Day, you ask?  I found out about it a year ago from a dear blog friend Se'Lah, and was eager to participate again this year.  This year's theme is Lift As You Climb.

Even the smallest actions that we take affect someone else in a profound way.  This may sound dramatic, but we can't possibly pretend to know what is going on in a stranger's life.  What is making them tick at the moment of your interaction with them.  Something as simple as a smile can turn another person's day around.    Have you read The Five People You Meet in Heaven?  Have you taken a couple of hours with your family to watch It's A Wonderful Life?  Have you read Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree?  Many of the reflections in these show how simple kindnesses can change a life.  Interestingly, I participate in a weekly post called One Word Wednesday, and this weeks word was connect.  Our connectedness in so many ways, not the least being this group posting today,  perfectly illustrates how a simple kindness can be contagious.

Lift As You Climb.  What does this mean to you?  As a wife, mom, employer, girl scout leader, friend, daughter, and neighbor I find myself daily trying to encourage and motivate.  I've always been a firm believer in leading by example and first and foremost being a good listener.  When you listen and gently suggest or nudge with encouragement you are giving that soul a boost to it's next level.  For me, the climb is simply navigating my way through my roles and remaining a very grounded individual in the process.  So why not, thorough your actions, create world kindness day every day.  What simple acts of kindness will you do today?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One Word Wednesday~ Connect

Funny,  my mind jumps to so many things when I think about this word.  Things like how dependent we all seem to be on being 'connected' or plugged in all of the time.  Yet it is a double edged sword.  Being connected brings us to new communities of people and new experiences.  Being connected allows us flexibility to log in and work from home.  Hmmm, is this flexibility or a new self-imposed view of responsibility?   Being connected is both a blessing and a burden and as with anything else needs to be balanced.

 Then I look at how interconnected people are.  Families, friends, neighborhoods, communities.  People brought together by common ground, common good, common goals.  In today's world recognizing the similarities of our interconnectedness may be the only thing that bridges the oh so publicized differences that seem to overpower us. 

I reflect on the connection I felt the moment I met the man who was to be my husband.  The connection I felt with my babies when they were born.  The connection I feel with kindred friendships. The connection I felt the moment I stepped onto our farmstead.  These are some connections in my life that are interconnected, plugged in, and that pull me, like a compass needle, to my center.

Join me for One Word Wednesday over at Jillsygirl.  We would not be able to celebrate all of these wonderful words if we weren't all connected.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Quiet Afternoon

It isn't often that I find myself at home in the afternoon on a work day. Sid and Puck (our almost 14 year old dog) had a slight collision last night. As they were both exuberantly at play, Puck, who is quite spry for her age, couldn't stop in her tracks quick enough and it sent Sid backwards onto the drive way where she hit her head. All is well, with the exception of a raging headache and a sore neck. So a little quiet time was in order today.

Over the last week or so the quilting blogosphere has been lit up with mug rugs like the one seen here at Stash Manicure. It's really interesting to see how many rug related posts there have been. They have multiplied, much like summer zucchini, and I am feeling a need to jump on the band wagon so I can leave a few on friend's door steps. So on this quiet afternoon I spent a couple of hours making my own. It was a bit of a challenge because I saw ton's of examples of completed rugs, what the finished size should measure and how to add the pocket but no step by step on the cutting/piecing. So I started playing, took my notes down so I can do it again, and managed to make one with only the completed size as my guide! This was very exciting for this quilter of 5 months!

Thankful that the injury is not serious, I think I'll use the next hour to snuggle my little girl in the quiet before we reintroduce the bundle of energy that is her brother, soon to be home from school. Then I'll fill the house with the warm smells of home and pot roast with garden veggies. Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thanksgiving Comes First

Thanksgiving 2009

This morning I spent my coffee time doing a little blog reading.  As I was reading a post from Barbara of  Long Hollow, I found out about a challenge from Suldog called TCF (Thanksgiving Comes First).  I then became enthralled in some amazing posts by individuals who were telling their wonderful stories of thanks and lamenting the commercialization of the holiday season.  You know what I mean.  Show of hands; who had their first Christmas catalog in July this year??  I've expressed many times that Fall is my favorite time of year.  It's amazing show of color also brings a palpable feeling of nesting and the desire to draw my family close.  I savor every moment.  Each event as we approach year end has always been important in my family and as I get older is an integral part of creating a home for my family.

Every year I remember the Thanksgiving tradition I grew up with, but this year is so much more poignant with the loss of Gram a couple of weeks ago.  My memory stretches back to the youngest of ages and I picture myself helping Gram prepare Thanksgiving dinner.  As a child I was kept busy as dinner approached whisking a cornstarch solution into the drippings to create the perfect gravy.  Now, Gram would step in every so often to assist, and it amazed me how her hips would move as she whisked with ease.  I hit the tween years and my responsibilities increased to include making the relish tray and being trusted with her baking secrets.  As the years passed, I began to spend the night before and we'd get the bread for the stuffing drying, then get up early and be sure the bird was clean and freed of all of her "pin feathers".  I was put in charge of the fresh cranberry sauce and loved that I had grown to be an integral part of the process.  We'd collapse in the early afternoon and I'd get to sip my first sherry in a moment of celebration just prior to the families arrival.  I can still picture, like multiple still Polaroids, snapshots of these Thanksgivings.  The family arriving, the lively conversations, the gleam in my grandfather's eye, laughter, food, and gratitude.  A deep gratitude, that we could gather together as a family and just be.

When I moved away from home, if work schedules kept us away from home at Thanksgiving,  B and I  would create a huge feast and invite a few close friends over.  We used these years to combine our families amazing recipes and experiment with our own.  Now, we have a family of our own.  Tradition, and family are of the utmost importance to us, so even though we do not live close to any of our family, we make huge efforts to visit often and not to miss the holidays.  After a few years transporting two very small children and trying to split the time between California and Kansas (yes 3 1/2 days in each location, we were insane!)  we are now, on an alternating schedule.  We spend every other Thanksgiving with each family and then spend Christmas that year with the other family. 

Our culture seems to be so enthralled with what is coming next, many get lost and completely miss out on the savoring of every moment.  For my adult life (and I'm sure before),  Thanksgiving has been seen as a day that is just the tipping point, the top of the mountain for the snowball to begin it's roll down toward Christmas.  Thanksgiving is not just a space holder between Halloween and Christmas, it is a day for us to reflect.  Maybe we should contemplate the importance of slowing down, spending time with family, creating slow food, and being grateful for all of the blessings that we have.  After all, being thankful does come first.

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?  Please join in!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Perfect Start

 Isn't this just the perfect sight to start your day?  After last weekends busyness, this weekend will focus on home, with a smattering of kid commitments.  Though it is trying to feel like winter today, the rest of the weekend will be more fall like...perfect for leaf collection and hen relocation.  Oh yes and my crafty mind is at work mulling over the approaching holidays.  Loads of family, friends and hostess gifts to create.  I think it may just be the right time to fill my kitchen with the smell of the seasons first gingerbread!  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One Word Wedensday~ Retreat

When I think about the word retreat, I feel the wonderful serenity of those favorite spaces that comfort and ground me.  Then quickly after, this mind of mine began to formulate these sentences:

There is no going back, only moving forward.

Enjoy every day of your life.

Live intentionally and passionately.

Stand by your decisions.

Always be an advocate for yourself and your family.

And occasionally go back to that wonderful place that centers you, and retreat into it's warm embrace.  It gives you the strength to live without retreating.

Come and join One Word Wednesday over at jillsygirl

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bribery or Allowance

As you can imagine, after last weeks storms our property is littered with branches, sticks and twigs.  We've been so busy that we haven't had time to pick them up yet.  When we moved here we envisioned working shoulder by shoulder....all four of us.  To some extent that's true, but turning tasks into games isn't always easy with some of the farm work.  The kids had a blast yesterday picking up almost all of the sticks and putting them on the burn pile.  As you can see from above Sid took some time finding antlers and in the more focused background you can see the huge pile of sticks and Charles hurling one on.  They had a great time doing it and did it with no complaint.....the fact that they were earning $2 a piece for their efforts may have helped some.  Hmm bribery or allowance?

Monday, November 1, 2010

October in Review

It's hard to believe that we are through October  already!  There are only two months left in the year and the blog camp 365 project on flickr.  I've grown quite attached to this wonderful group of people and it looks as though we're going to stay together into 2011 with a new (maybe less rigorous) project!  Yea!  So,  this is what October looked like through my lens...


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