Friday, March 24, 2017

The Forest Floor and Other Explorations

     Winter and spring have been duking it out but, I think spring has finally won. I love to walk into the woods this time of year. In general, I prefer walking in the fields and woods rather than on the roads, but they're usually too overgrown to enjoy in the warmer seasons and I don't feel safe out there during hunting season. Spring is the perfect time with the forest floor clear of brambles and weeds and hunters. I spotted plenty of new growth beginning to peek out from under the leaves.
     I entered the woods through the graveyard behind our property. I hadn't visited it in a long while and I wondered about its condition. Someone used to keep it trimmed but we haven't heard anyone back there for a couple of years now. I'm afraid it's fallen into a state of neglect. As I walked around the tombstones I thought how sad it was to see the place forgotten like this. On the other hand, I thought how appropriate for nature to slowly cover it over and entomb it completely.

From this rise, the graves are sentinels over the field and our house below.

The prettiest tombstone here.

Counting a life in years, months, and days. 
Several of the graves are marked simply like this. The newest stone is dated 1919. Everything else dates backwards from there. The surface of the graveyard is covered in Periwinkle. It is a carpet of blue when in bloom.
Traces of love. This is a beautiful ruffled variety of daffodil.

This was right on a deer path. I wonder of they eat this and if so, it must be a spring delicacy.

Next to the graveyard is an old animal enclosure. Based on its size, I'm guessing it may have been a pigpen. 
I'm reminded that everything is in a constant state of entropy.  (Is it we who have created the entropy and God simply calls it back to himself through his perfect creation of nature? Hmm. Although nature is in a fallen state, so... There's a good theological discussion in there.)
I see a beautiful walking stick here.

Do these hinges go in two different directions and how would that have worked? There is only one opening to the pigpen. Would the farmer who built this please come and explain this to me?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Stream of Conciousness Post

     The routine, humdrum days are sprinkled with odds and ends of activity now and then. All together, it keeps life interesting. Underlying everything right now is some extreme back pain that I'm experiencing. It fogs my brain and prevents me from forming cohesive thoughts, hence the title of this post. Anyway, here's what's been going on.
     First off, I finished my latest rug! It's fairly large and I will hang it on a wall for now because Henri likes to...well, ruin them. Poor little man.

     I celebrated another birthday. I had a combination of older folks extolling my youth and younger folks thinking I'm getting rather old. My six-year-old granddaughter guessed my age to be a crotchety thirty-three. It's all a matter of perspective.
        Audrey and I took a trip down to Raleigh to shop for maternity things and to have some fun in general. There is SO much to do in Raleigh and Claire is the perfect hostess. I like to visit the grandchildren in their own home where they can share their daily life with us on their own turf. We had a girl's day out at the coffee shop with shopping afterward. It was perfect in every way (except for the back pain- it even hurts to laugh). Audrey and I stopped at a couple of antique shops between Roanoke and Raleigh. She found an adorable little antique hutch. The shop owner knocked the price  down to one that we couldn't refuse and he even managed to fit it into my car! Mind you, we had suitcases and shopping bags to boot. What fun it was. Audrey is satisfying some of that nesting urge.

Sola coffee shop.The place was packed with customers except for this little corner.

Where there's a will, there's a way. The bottom of the hutch went on the back seat and the glass cupboard top went in the trunk.
    Tess' boyfriend lost his mom to pneumonia last week. Our family grieved with him and I still grieve today. I did not know this lady well, but I know her son and I know what it's like to lose a mother. She had just turned fifty years old the week before her passing. It is too sad for words.
     Our two daughters who are expecting babies this summer include me in their photo texts of baby bump comparisons. Our family is certainly entering a new phase of growth and there is much joy to share as we celebrate each phase. In quieter moments, we discuss motherhood and some of the sadder aspects of parenting that our various careers expose us to. We see cases of child abuse, families struggling with addiction and poverty, immigrant families settling into a strange, new country, and we  know intimately about abortion. I know we can do better as a society. But for now, we do what we can individually in our own communities. It begins by talking, though. We need to keep talking.

     It is now 5:28 AM. I have been up since 3:15, unable to sleep from the back pain. I plan to cook a belated St. Patrick's Day dinner later today: corned beef and cabbage, of course! I'll add the prized pepperoni sticks, some potatoes and carrots and we will have a feast. First, I will go back to bed for a spell. Thank goodness for Motrin.
     Steve has to work this weekend and I won't be able to get myself to worship at church this morning. Here is a verse that I've been reading and re-reading since last Sunday along with a song for Sunday singing. I'm singing as one today : )

 1John: 15-17
       "Neither love the world nor the things in the world. Whoever loves the world has not the Father's love in his heart, because everything in the world, the passions of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the proud display of life have their origin not from the Father but from the world. And the world with its lust passes away, but he who does the will of God remains forever. "


Saturday, March 4, 2017

When It's Not Quiet

We average about three hundred and forty-one days of quiet around here. The other twenty-four might be a little noisy.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Family Week

     About twice a year, Chelsea and her growing family drive down from New Hampshire to visit us in Virginia. Claire and her family will then drive up from North Carolina. The gathering is always a cause for celebration and a chance for the four sisters to see one another. Everyone likes to be outdoors and we partake in whatever activities the weather permits. There have been times of sledding and snowmen and times of water balloon fights and BBQ. By far, the family's favorite pastime is a bonfire. Last week, we were lucky enough to have a combination of very mild weather and an accumulation of branches and brush to burn. The temperatures climbed through the fifties into the sixties and seventies by week's end. Simon spent a day gathering the brush from different areas on the property. He lit a smaller campfire on Thursday and it was kept burning throughout the weekend. This smaller fire is more convenient for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Ian and Simon camped out in the field on Friday night and the older kids enjoyed an evening under a clear sky filled with stars. We lit the big bonfire on Saturday night and the littler kids got to stay up late and enjoy the fun.   
     Needless to say, the week goes by much too quickly and it's a little sad and quiet after everyone leaves. I immersed myself in laundry and cleaning up and it was a good distraction. I also took on a few extra hours at work this week, so there wasn't much time for me to wallow. : ) Sadly, Audrey and Jared weren't able to join us for the weekend portion of our activities. Audrey caught the cold virus that everyone had been sharing and it was bad enough to keep her resting at home. There's always next time.

By day...

... and by night

Aunt Chelsea built a teepee.

Pop and Nonni : )

Steve, keeper of the fire.
One year old!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Latest Reading Material

It's time to catch up on some reading! There was a lull over the holidays and I missed having a book or two by the side of my reading chair. I'm playing catch-up and thought I would share what I've read over the last two to three months.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
This is a sweet story of a sixty-nine year old widower who lives life in a very precise manner, day after day, since his wife died. One day he finds a charm bracelet his wife had hidden away and his curiosity is piqued to know where it came from and why he never knew about it. He begins making inquiries and follows clues as each charm reveals something about his wife's past. His monotonous life suddenly takes an interesting turn as he must travel to the source of the clues in order to unravel each charm's meaning.

A Gentleman in Moscow
 A Gentleman in Moscow received a rare 5-star rating from me on Goodreads. In 1922, a Bolshevik tribunal sentences Count Alexander Rostov to house arrest at the Metropol, an elegant hotel in the heart of the city. Once a guest in the most lavish rooms, the Count now must live his life in the hotel's attic for the remainder of his days. An interesting array of hotel guests cross his path and deeply affect his life. Riddled with humor, embellished with elegant history, the Count must find his purpose within this small but wonderful enclave.

Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey
I've been interested in learning more about the politics of the 1960's and the causes of the radical social unrest at that time in order to compare it to what we see in politics today. This is only the beginning of what could end up in a life long attempt for me to understand that era. I combined this reading with "Destructive Generation" by Peter Collier and David Horowitz. Wow. Obviously what we see on the surface of political passion is only the tip of what lurks beneath. The author was raised in the environment of the radical left and we see his earnest life's work to promote the beliefs of socialist agendas in a time that culminates in the 1960's. His work with the Black Panthers leads to troubling revelations and Horowitz begins to question his beliefs. Revealing, yet troubling, this book is well worth the dive into this topic. So much of what I recall hearing in the news during the 60's pops up in this book. However, being a child, I had no idea the social and political upheaval in our country followed such a purposeful agenda of the radical left.

How High the Moon
It was time for a little "fluff" after reading the previous heavy topic. It is often difficult for me to believe authors who write from a child's perspective. Most of them don't pull it off very well, including this one. This story is about an orphaned girl whose mother runs away, leaving her with the mother's boyfriend. He is a sweet guy who does his best to raise this spunky girl. The story presents a cast of small town characters in a 1950's setting. It was an okay read, but nothing to write home about.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
This is the last book I just finished. It's currently in high demand at our library, perhaps because it speaks on a topic rooted right here in the Appalachian Mountains. The author was born and raised mainly in Kentucky by his grandmother in a dirt poor environment. The story is the author's memoir, but, he also discusses the plight and causes of the poor families living in this region of our country and the hopelessness that persists from one generation to the next. With the encouragement of his grandmother, J.D. Vance finds a way out of the vicious cycle, joins the marines, and goes on to graduate from Yale Law School. He purports to be the very rare example of what most kids living in the Appalachian culture experience. Their plight is not very different from that in our inner cities. It's an interesting topic, again if you want to read something thought provoking and current to today's issues.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Autumn's Grand Finale

     I began hooking this rug at the very, very end of autumn, sometime around December 10th. This is where I am today. The most difficult part has been finding wool in the colors I envision for the design. As I became ready to hook the border, I found a small piece of wool in the perfect shade of brown in a local antique mall where a vendor sells wool in one of the stalls. It wasn't a big enough piece to complete the border and I lamented over how to acquire more of it, even messaging the vendor to see if she had more. (She did not.) A rug hooking friend asked me to give her a sample of it so she could go home and check her wool stash to see if she might happen to have it. Lo and behold, she phoned me right away to say she found some in a drawer! We both rejoiced over the phone knowing what it means to find just the right piece and color of wool. This good news prompted me to cut the piece I already had and begin work on the border, knowing more wool was on the way. Yay!
     I completely enjoy every hour I spend working on these rugs. The time is peaceful, contemplative, and nourishing to my creative spirit. It's amazing how the mind is freed up to really delve into thought when the hands are busy like this. I think about my family and friends, I pray, I ponder books I'm reading, and I work out solutions to problems weighing on my spirit. In the end, there is a beautiful rug to throw down on the floor or hang on the wall. Woven into it are all those people and thoughts that occupied the many hours to create it. Many of you, my dear family, friends, and readers, are in this rug. : )

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Catching Up and Keeping Up

     We've had a bit of the flu, along with a few other viruses, going around here. The nurse's office at school has been busy and we've taken turns at home with all of it. I doubt there is anything left for us to catch at this point! I trust it is all behind us now and we can get on with enjoying our weekends by not spending them in bed.
     We enjoyed having Claire's children here last weekend while Claire and Daniel went skiing. The children were happy and content with whatever we provided them for food and entertainment. Sunday afternoon turned out to be sunny and mild so we played outside. The kids were all over the place, running and exploring. We started out wearing jackets and hats but, those were quickly shed since it was warm enough for shirts and sweaters. Henri and I kept up pretty well, all things considered. : )