Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Gabriel and Fiona

Not much to say that the photos don't.  Gabriel has taken over the morning milking, to the great relief of Sebastian, who is not a morning person.  It takes a little time for a milk cow to get used to the voice and hands of her new milker, but it looks like Fiona has made the adjustment and thinks Gabe is just fine...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hello, Old Friends

Alright, so I had no real intention of coming back here.  Life is kind of crazy these days, and blogging was beginning to feel like just one more thing I had to do.  In an attempt to streamline my life as much as possible, I let go of the blog.  I don't even read blogs anymore.  I check in on my Facebook perhaps once a week, just to check in on a few people I'm close to who don't use email much.

But I have this blog to thank for a special friendship.  Six years or so ago there was a follower of mine who became a frequent commenter.  Over the years we exchanged emails as well, sharing our small triumphs and commiserating over our struggles.  It is ironic that she lives not many miles from where I used to live in Charlotte, NC.  Annita and I hoped to meet one day, but we couldn't imagine how or when that would ever take place.

Enter Rachel, her nutty, energetic, 21 year-old daughter.  She emailed me to tell me that she had a plan to get us together.  She wanted to drive out here (8 hour trip), pick me and Una up, drive back to North Carolina, take us to a Scythian show (if you don't know about this band, get to know it.  Seriously. You won't regret it), and then drive us back the next day.  She planned to do two 16-hour round trips in 3 days.  No way.  I couldn't let her do it no matter how good the intention.

Then my husband suggested I call on a young pilot friend of ours and find out what it would cost to fly there.  Our friend, R.B. said it would be a 2 hour flight, and the price he gave me was affordable.  I contacted Rachel and told her we could pull it off, weather permitting.  She managed to keep it a secret from her mother almost to the last day.

Sooo...last Saturday morning, Bret and the kids took me to the little airport in Portland, TN, and Una and I flew in a small plane to Matthews, NC to meet my friend Annita and her family for the first time.  It was thrilling.  I really loved it, right up until landing, as there was quite a bit of cloud cover and it caused significant turbulence.  My stomach felt a bit off for a while afterward.

Rachel picked us up and we were taken to Annita's home and introduced to the whole family. I finally had faces for all the names in the emails!  There was no discomfort in our meeting, maybe a little initial nervousness, but more like a meeting of old friends.

After a rest at the hotel where Rachel put us up for the night, since they were doing home renovations and worried that we'd not be comfortable there, we went to a vigil Mass, and then we drove into Charlotte for the Scythian show at the Double Door Inn.  I'd introduced Annita to their music when they played in Charlotte last year ("You MUST go and see them," I told her), so it was great to be going to their show with her.  Rachel, Una and Annita's 13 year-old daughter, Hope, came with us.  It was a blast.  They sold out and the place was packed to capacity.  Una had a bit of a hard time with it, as crowds make her want to curl up into a tiny ball and disappear.  Luckily, I brought some Valerian tablets, and she began to enjoy herself once she was able to relax a little.

We didn't get back to the hotel until 1 a.m. (that's 2 a.m. Central Time!) and had to leave for the long drive home with Rachel at 9:30, so the drive home was pretty quiet.

The kids gave us a lovely homecoming, and Rachel spent the evening and night with us. The kids wouldn't leave her alone!  They were pretty unhappy about her having to leave so soon.  But leave she did at 7:30 the next morning.

It took two days before I felt myself again...I'm too old for this!

Okay, now for a lot of photos:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I'll slow down after the new year...

...but until then, I'm keeping a pretty frantic pace.

I finally printed out a few planner pages (thank you, donnayoung.org, for all the printable calender and planner pages I could ever use) today because the jumble of things I need to do in the next two months was causing some severe sleep deprivation.  Putting the mess on paper got it out of my head so that I can sleep at night.  Yesterday afternoon, as I began to fade out after only 3 hours of sleep the night before, I decided to make coffee.  Generally I drink one mug of half-caff in the morning and that's it.  Well, I brewed up half a pot of very strong Ethiopian coffee and drank three mugs the size of a soup bowl (thanks, Annita, for the new mug--it'll be handy for morning coffee or soaking my tired feet in).  I got pretty wired; Una said I was vibrating...

Much of what's on my mind is related to Christmas.  Making things for the shop and for the kids.  I finally finished these little pocket gnome-babies and got them listed in the shop, with a couple put aside for Gemma and my niece.  I think they turned out well, the proof being that my boys, right up to my soon-to-be 12 year old, all love them and ask, "Can you make one for me?")

I'm sharing this on Keep Calm, Craft On {Crafting On}, on Frontier Dreams and Creative Friday on Natural Suburbia.  So...what are you working on for Christmas?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Never an idle moment in the last quarter of the year!

The days have been passing in a blur as every moment not spent on home, hearth and schooling has been dedicated to crafting.  Some of it is knitting, some of it sewing, and it has been pretty equally divided between making things for our Etsy shop, Frost Lane, and making Christmas gifts.  I have made wool dryer balls from these instructions, for myself and as gifts.  The little autumn babies tucked into walnut shells are in our shop now awaiting adoption, and I have made a number of cherry stone heating pads/ice packs for the shop as well.  Currently in production are the "Pocket Babies."  I have to attach their little gnome hats and wrap them in their felt blankets, but I hope to have them in the shop soon--with a couple put aside as gifts for a couple of special little girls I know.

I'm linking up with Frontier Dreams (Keep Calm, Craft On)...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Musings--27 October 2014--Indian Summer

Right now...it is nearly 3 p.m.  It is a marvelous, unseasonably lovely day.  The laundry is on the line, waving like banners in the warm breeze.  Tomorrow rain is predicted, and thereafter much cooler temperatures.  But today at least there is still a little time for bare limbs, sun-dried laundry and rides around the house on the 4-wheeler.

This morning we had some problems during milking time.  The power to the pump on the milking machine kept shutting down.  Two calls to Bret to try to work it out were to no avail, so Sebastian finished the job by hand.  Lola, our calf, has been rough on Fiona's teats, and she has a number of cuts on them, but Sebastian said she tolerated it all pretty well.

Have I mentioned lately how proud I am of that boy?  No, I'm not here too often, so I'm sure I haven't.  Sebastian is 13 and has been milking our cows for 3 years.  He does it in the heat of summer and in the winter, swaddled in insulated clothing and with a cup of hot tea.  He hates it.  But he's only said so once.  Daily, but for Sundays, he goes out and milks the cow without complaint, never groaning, never griping.  When there's a problem, he tries to work it out himself before coming to me with it, not wanting to add to my workload or concerns.  I am in awe of the young man he is becoming, and I can only say this:  if you are the mother of a young boy who is a pain in the neck and who drives you to near-madness nearly daily, take heart--such a one can blossom into something totally unexpected and wonderful.  Sebastian was such a child, and now he is an absolute gem.

Some plans for this week:  I am working diligently knitting and sewing gifts for Christmas and making things for the Etsy shop.  I have plenty to do with some little pocket-sized dolls I'm making for the shop, and I have some St. Nicholas dolls to make as well.

We will be taking Friday off for a little Halloween celebration with my sister and her kids, God willing and no one gets ill between now and then.  I would like to make a bean-bag toss game for the little party and towards the end of the week we will make some treats.

I'm praying for...Olivia, the littlest one of friends, who just underwent surgery this morning to correct a kidney/bladder related problem that has sent her to the hospital a couple of times.  I'm praying for her dear mommy, too, whose eldest has diabetes and is gluten intolerant, and so the young woman has a lot on her platter!

Something that makes me smile:  the laughter of children even above the roar of an ATV motor.

I have to go put my yogurt--a gallon a week is what we go through--in the insulated cooler with a heated rice bag now, before the milk cools.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yarn Along--little gifts and even littler gifts

Back with Ginny at Small Things for another Yarn Along...

Well, I am still on a roll knitting hats.  I have finally ceased knitting the Turn a Square hats, after knitting five or six of them, and I knit two The Perfect Beret hats for my God-daughter and my niece (in the photo above).  The tiny hat and sweater set is for Gemma's littlest baby-doll, June.  I have a long list of things to make for her beloved babies, and I really enjoy knitting for them--it's near-instant gratification!

Not sure what's next on the queue.  I have hats to knit for all of my family, more doll clothes and a pair of mitts to make for my sister.  Bret would like a cowl.  I hope I don't run out of time!

As for reading, I have finished Swag and Stein on Writing.  I'm about to pick up Running With Scissors.

Are you trying to tackle a heap of Christmas knitting, too?

Living in the moment

It's been no less crazy than usual around here.  My determination to stick to some sort of framework for our schooling is not so much born of a need to organize (I have gone from hyper-organized to a happy, disorganized mess over the decades), but from a need to keep the kids occupied enough to make a dent in the petty bickering.  Seems that too much free time is not a good thing in this house.

Anyway, between staying on top of schooling 6 kids from Kindergarten through 11th grade, trying to keep up with the household stuff, making things and being the shipping department for our Etsy shop and attempting to cook everything from scratch these days, I barely have time for any hobbies.  I do my running at 6 a.m. for an hour, I exercise for 30 minutes in the evening, I knit in the van and occasionally in my chair when there's a good movie to watch, and I read for maybe 30 minutes before I slip into my 6 hour, nightly coma.  That is how I squeeze in personal time.  Which is why this blog has suffered such neglect.

As I write this at near-10 in the morning, I am looking out my workroom window at the pasture and the changing colors of autumn, my favorite time of year.  I have a few Etsy shop orders to pack up and of course school stuff to attend to, but I'm hoping to bake pumpkin bread this afternoon and maybe make some miniature cakes with Gemma in her little cake pans.  I like the kitchen so much more this time of year, when I'm not constantly perspiring.

This year is quickly drawing to a close, and it has been a hard one.  Financial struggles, personal demons to fight, worries about family members...I'll be 51 next month, and in all honesty, I think that 50 has been one of my more trying years.  Definitely a milestone year, and one I'm not unhappy to bid farewell to.  There's been ore inner upheaval than I've felt in decades, but it is finally winding down and I am finally feeling more settled...not totally at peace, but better.  The trick is to work very hard at living in the moment and casting one's gaze neither backward nor forward.  That's the key.