Friday, December 26, 2008

Got 'er Done!

The wind finally quit blowing and the weather held, 
if not at a comfortable temperature, at least at a bearable level long enough for the tree-cutting team to have success.  The part of the tree that hit the ground was about 12 feet tall and we trimmed it to 8 feet. We got it into the house, into a tree stand, branches trimmed, and best side selected before my sister and brother-in-law went home.  Ten minutes after they left, it fell over and spent the next three days as you see in the picture above, until the rest of the family arrived home.
With four extra pairs of hands, we managed to get the tree upright and leveled in no time at all.   Getting it decorated wasn't quite as easy. Apparently in this age of iPods, cell phones and Wii, decorating an old
-fashioned, country-style Eastern Red Cedar tree is not very cool for a couple of city teenagers.  But with cajoling from Opa and threats of  no old-fashioned, country-style meals from Oma, the tree managed to get decorated.  
But, I noticed on the above picture that we missed a spot--need to buy more ornaments when I go to Germany in September! 
So, with a few more little decorating touches here and there and hours of cooking, we ended up with a cheery and warm Christmas celebration with a small gathering of friends and family.  

I hope that you all had as happy a Christmas as I did and that your New Year will be filled with even more happiness.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Eastern Red Cedar Christmas Tree

Two nights ago as I braved the icy 19 degree weather to take my three Border Collies out for their 1 AM constitutional, I noticed how beautiful the 15 foot Easter Red Cedar tree in the south meadow looked bathed in the silver glow from a very bright and round December moon. I wish I had been able to take a picture of the tree at that moment, but I had my hands full of Border Collies and after I took them back inside, it was too cozy in front of the wood stove to go back out.

The next day I asked my sister, who is my next-door neighbor, to go with me to check out the possibility of using the tree as my Christmas tree. Our mother has always told us of her fond memories of cedar Christmas trees in the Arkansas Ozarks of the 1930's. We have had our own cedar Christmas trees during the ten years we have lived here, but they have been small table topper trees. This beauty promises to fill a large corner of the living room and leave just enough space at the ceiling for the tree topper ornament, which is yet to be chosen, with plenty of cedar boughs left over to trim the entire house.

We hopped into my old beat up farm pickup and drove down into the meadow to check it out. The closer we came to the tree the bigger it became. It is at LEAST 15 feet tall - I am really inept at judging measurements - and is growing snugged up against a five-strand fence that is securing my Irish Dexter bull. After closer inspection, I noticed that there are two 0r three smaller trees of some kind - hard to tell without leaves for identification - that must be removed before we can get to the cedar tree. The most worrisome problem will be if the tree catches any of the fence wires on it's way to the ground. Thank goodness my brother-in-law is pretty skilled with a chainsaw. We agreed to meet at sunrise for the cutting ceremony.

At 5 AM, my usual rising time, I baked Gingerbread Muffins and made Lemon Zinger tea for our apres-cutting celebration. Just before daybreak I went out to check the weather. Hooray! 48 degrees ---- and winds of 50 miles per hour?? That tree was swinging so fast and so far there was no way we could ever cut it cleanly or safely. If we could even get it cut, Dorothy and Toto would be using it as their Christmas tree because we would never be able to chase it down on it's trip north.

I disappointedly called my sister to cancel our outing and rescheduled for tomorrow when the temperature is predicted to be near 69 degrees! with winds at ----40 miles per hour?? We have freezing rain and snow forecast for the following three days, and the three days after that the family begin arriving from around the world (literally). Looks like that 15 foot tree will be 20 feet tall next Christmas. I consoled myself with Gingerbread Muffins and Lemon Zinger tea.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happy 16th Birthday, Kathryn

God has granted us two wonderful grandchildren and our only granddaughter turned 16 yesterday. Though our grandchildren have spent most of their lives in another state, we have been blessed with having them spend extended periods with us without their parents.

Kathryn has been with us from 5 weeks to 15 months at a time since she was about 6 months old. This time together has forged a very special bond between Kathryn and myself. She fills my heart with music as I watch her dance and sing. I love to watch her early in the morning, clad in one of Opa's big shirts that she uses for sleeping, as she sits atop the old cellar and quietly sings as she watches and tries to identify the different birds and greets the rising sun. Her walks in the woods and fields are filled with her singing and always result in a small bouquet of flowers for Oma. As a toddler her laughing blue hazel eyes and bouncing dark brown curls would melt my heart as she came into the kitchen with her first word of the day --"Eat!".

Kathryn is my joy and I thank God for every minute I have had with her. When she returns to her parents, thinking of her brings tears of loneliness to my eyes and an ache in my heart, even though she calls me nearly every day as she walks home from school. I want to protect her from every sadness in her life, I want to hold her through every tear that she sheds, I want to pick her up each time she stumbles on her path to adulthood.

Yesterday, Kathryn turned 16 and those bouncing curls and laughing eyes of the toddler have become the beauty and mystery of an alluring young woman. My influence and values are very strong in her personality, even as she sometimes rebels against them. My hope for her is that she will always be in charge of her own destiny by trusting, believing and respecting herself and filling her world with compassion and love.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sidney Wins Giveaway!

It has taken me awhile to get this posted, because the poor dog (Sidney) is still not adjusted to her new life and would not unwrap herself from my ankles long enough to for me to take a picture of her modeling her new collar.
The collar was donated by GoneDoggie through the generous service of Give Away A Day.

Sidney thanks both of these very nice ladies for her new look.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I've been tagged by Janet at The Blackberry Patch !


1.  Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4.  Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5.  Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6.  Let the tagger know when your entry is posted.


1.  I have a space between my front teeth -- Lauren Hutton style.  Though my husband says it's Terry Thomas style.  You have to watch old movies to know who he is.  I'll stick with my self-image  of the model.  And anyway, it's a gift from my father!

2.  My third grade literary achievement was to have my poem, My Bunny,  printed in the Advance Register, the only newspaper in Tulare, California.

3.  I don't enjoy watching television.  It's such a monumental waste of time.  When my husband is home I do try to sit through at least one program with him each night.  It is my sacrifice in the name of matrimonial harmony.

4.  I hate using the telephone -- probably because I can't hear as well as I would like.  I read lips and use visual cues to help me hear, so until we get video phones, I'll stick to email!

5.  I LOVE CHOCOLATE!  Dark, dark, creamy, luscious chocolate.  For Thanksgiving I had two desserts - chocolate cheese cake with a chaser of chocolate brownie fudge ice cream smothered in hot fudge sauce.  That took care of the chocolate cravings for a good, uhm, 3 days.  

6.  My hair was nearly completely white by the age of 32 -- another gift from my father.

Sorry, Janet.  I don't know enough bloggers to tag.  Guess the game will end with me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Stitching Magic

This is my sister's first quilt -- her original design, hand-quilted and made as a gift for me!  

My two sisters and I were born in a 32- month span and the quilter is the youngest.  Having grown up in the shadow of a couple of over-achievers (one of whom is also a neurotic borderline OCD), she is not as confident about her abilities and creativity as I would like her to be. So, this quilt was to lie quietly in my collection and never be allowed to let others see my sister shine the way I see her.  

Without telling her -- after all, she gave the quilt to me. I can do with it as I wish -- I entered it in the county fair.  And of course, she took first prize (We have a very small county -- she won $3). And now I have posted it to the internet for the entire world to see.

We go to any quilting show within 100 miles of home and we see some excellent hand-quilting, but we also see some less skillful work, too.  She never sees her own work as being anywhere near equal to that of others.  

When she was little, I always envied her fantastic imagination.  I was always totally logical and practical and was never able to reach that magical kingdom that she lived in.  When I see her quilt stitches become slightly uneven or wander a bit off the intended line, I wonder what treasure did her mind find at that moment and where did that new trail take her.  So, I trace her stitching with my finger and try to follow her into the magic places I pray she still finds.  

I hope anyone who examines the hand-quilting of another wonders about what that person was thinking and experiencing with each stitch made and follow them into their world.  Every quilt is full of stories.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Daunting Task

Until 15 years ago, my wedded life had been dominated by the cubic shape of cardboard moving boxes.  My husband's military career moved us 22 times in 24 years.  More stories there! 

When we bought this small ranch in Oklahoma 10 years ago, he said he was tired of traveling and would spend the rest of his life right here.  

Now when you are 52 years old, the labor involved in maintaining 115 acres, barns, 2500 sq ft home, greenhouses, livestock, and crops is an adventure.  Every day brought new challenges to be conquered.  Building structures, improving the land, tending animals are very rewarding after 30 years of military life (not much "Mother Nature nurturing" there).

Well the wanderlust has struck him again and he is working part-time with the military again -- making 3 week-long trips all over globe.  He loves the farm, but has admitted we must downsize to something that is more manageable for his schedule and our advancing ages.

So, my daunting task is cleaning out all the STUFF that is in the greenhouse, 2 barns, workshop, and the house.  This must be done when he is working out of state, because he is a pack rat and he is convinced that every nut and bolt in the workshop has some vital importance to our future.  

Following him all over the world never allowed for our closets to become overflowing or superfluous items to hide under beds. We were even able to keep our vehicles in our garages. Yearly moves to a new house, state or country meant yearly yard sales. I even took a course to become a certified organizer to make sure that I kept our possessions to an efficient and reasonable level.  

Ten years of farm and home clutter is new for me and I have learned the abhorrent talent of "procrastination". I know WHAT I need to do, I know WHEN I need to do it,  I know WHY I need to do it. 
Where will I find the energy and will to begin?  How hard can it be to downsize to cottage-size living from ranching?-----I think I need lots of prayers!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Another First

At this point in my life should I really contemplate beginning something new and foreign to my nature?  I've always been a "loner" so perhaps the anonymity of blogging does fit my nature and I love disrupting my quiet life by attempting to learn, learn, learn.  I need to learn to repair my clarinet, navigate more efficiently through genealogy sites, to use our Shopsmith, to groom the dogs with an electric trimmer, to train my Border Collies to herd, to halter train my Irish Dexter cattle, to use a welder so that I can create metal sculptures, to watercolor, to put more hours in my day.  My list is endless, but not hopeless. Learning is an adventure for me.  My theory is that learning something new every day will stave off old age and keeping current will keep me in touch with my grandchildren.  
The physical and mental act of blogging will be easy since I love to write.  Putting the time into my daily schedule will be a challenge for me.  
So, look for me again soon. I promise to learn to be a dependable blogger.