All in a Week


12832497_992557854168260_1720485240687122452_n

It was raining Sunday morning, when we woke.  I knew snow was a long shot, but I had hoped for it anyway.  As the silvery, cold droplets fell, I felt glad that I could linger under my favorite soft blanket, for a bit.  At least I did not have to spring up, as I do on a week day.  Cash, my dog, and my gray cat Christopher Robin, were snuggled together and what a sweet picture they made. I was happy, that it was Sunday.

I read, as I usually do on Sunday mornings, but not about “Van Gogh”.  I read enough yesterday to suit me for a while, on this tender artist.  My heart broke with every tragic detail -and there were so many, in his life.  I did gather that Van Gogh felt deeply for human suffering and went above and beyond what most of us do, to show it.  He believed  the purpose of his art was   to glorify God.  I admired his independent nature, but goodness, how sad he was!  I simply can not bear to know anything further, for just now.

 I read  the “Sermon on the Mount” which is a favorite of mine.  I made a pot of soup and since Christian had a friend stop by, who happens to be a chef, I made apple dumplings.  This time I made them in a pot, instead of a skillet.  I think I like them better, prepared in a pot.   “Jose” noted the recipe, as he was going to make it for the head chef.   

So the cold silvery rain fell all day and Sunday passed gently by. 

As I drove to work on Monday morning, I took notice of the day.  The countryside looked so very muted, in colors like gray, and shades of brown.  Even the sky was a dull pewter .  I thought, that some folks would call this a dismal scene. . . but I like most kinds of days.  I do understand how dreary weather can feel like an unfriendly guest, for it seems something tragic may happen, under such circumstances, that could not occur on a bright happy day in June.  This is hardly true, but it does feel like it could be .  I really miss the comfort of home on such days. 

I am quite sure, this all started in childhood, growing up on a farm.  When the weather was bad, we all stuck around the house.  We often made a cake and the adults had time to tell us stories.  If we needed rain, then everyone was in high spirits .  Weather was of huge consequence in those days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The wind was acting more sensible, but Monday was every bit as cold as Sunday.  Some people declared they had seen snow flurries, but I kept my eyes peeled to the sky and never saw anything but  some tiny ice pellets, for a brief spell.  I have seen stunning pictures from friends up north.  What a wonder snow is, covering  every sin, a landscape could have . . and what a hearty lot it takes to live where snow accumulation must be measured in feet.  I simply can not imagine shoveling a driveway on a regular basis before going to work.  Those folks are a hearty and gallant lot -and nothing less.

Snow may be scarce here, but frost is not.  Lately the countryside is sparkling in the early morning. “Brother Earl” , a neighbor has a fire going most every morning.  Smoke rises in curls and tinges the air with the familiar scent of burning wood.  The sun rises over the treeline transforming the bare branches to ebony lace and the frost becomes all sorts of shades of orange, pink, peach and apricot. This morning an icy luster even topped the trees and so the day started with quite a spectacular display of nature in winter.

I drive past the very quiet pastures and the resting fields to work and then back home.  Occasionally, I stop at the grocery.  Somehow my dog and cat, know exactly what time, I will arrive at the rabbitpatch, for they are always waiting by the door.  I usually start a load of laundry, then start supper and at the first chance, change into “house clothes”.  I prepare for the next day within an hour of walking in the door, for I can not think of such things as sweaters and earrings, in the morning.  

I read while supper cooks.  There is little variation in my routine.  One day turns in to another and in this way, the week passes.  Unless there is an emergency, I am home at night.  I am quite content to spend evenings at home. . . and it is not just because I am older.  I have never enjoyed a ruckus of any sort.    

 

 

 

Advertisements

When the Wind Blew


12167030_1076516372373330_1455650527_n

A cold wind blew and now suddenly, it is winter.  I know winter arrived officially weeks ago, but it was the north wind that convinced me.  Until, a few short days ago, my heavy coat was in the back of the closet.  I had the window up for several days.  There was no need to warm the car up, in the mornings and some days, the mockingbird sang.

What a difference the north wind made, for now we burrow under soft blankets  and there is but one brave little rose, in the “Quiet Garden” and I suspect it is spent, after last night.  Winter may rob the rose of its’ bloom, but a winter morning has its’ own form of spectacular.  The countryside is silent and void of any motion, save folks bringing in more wood.  A few little wrens played just outside the window this morning .  What a happy  commotion ensued for a brief while.  For some reason, the birds left and took their merriment with them and again the world was quiet.  

I am not sure why, but the country birds rarely  frequent feeders, at the rabbitpatch.  The only exception, is the event of snow, which is rare in itself.  I think it may be the fact, that the woods are so plentiful here, and so the wild birds may prefer the natural diet, the woodlands offer.  You would think an apple core would entice them  or the wild birdseed, but that isn’t the case.  Maybe they joyfully, scavenge for the last of the wild mulberries.  I do not know what the mockingbird does after he sings, but sightings of him are scarce too.  

20face7178f319221cf4b631b44a0e5b

I suppose, I have something in common with the birds, for winter makes me grow quiet and still too.  No other season affords this as winter, for each one presents its’ own tasks, that must be tended too . . .at once.   In the winter, I study whatever subjects pop in my head.  This year, so far I  have studied “Secretariat” which led to horses, in general.  I am far from finishing my study, but I have also studied the quotes of “Bruce Lee”  after reading about his life.  Some of his quotes are as deep as the ocean and require  much thought.  Now today, I have begun studying “Van Gogh”.  Already, he has tendered my heart.

The thorough, studies in winter are an old habit, of mine.  I have an odd collection of subjects by now, but they have sparked my curiosity to learn more and it as least one practice, that has never caused me a bit of harm.

I also continue to dabble in concoctions of various sorts.  I have had great success, so far with a few cleaning agents and cream  for dry skin -(and old)  .  Since Christian injured his hand, I  have studied more about the  natural  healing  properties of things like honey  -and it is good to report that the awful wound is healthy and on the mend.  If there is even a scar, it will be slight.

b6c7d1dac13353eb3fc91b7abae8d1cd

A lot of folks are decluttering now.  Mama , my sister Delores and Jenny are all on the same mission.   I did this now almost two years ago.  Of course my project was very necessary as I was downsizing to a much smaller home.  I am still in the same big farmhouse, and I still have plans to downsize, but in the meanwhile, I have maintained my diligence in the matter.  Of course, the method all started with a book.   The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”  by Marie Kondo.  Now there is a show as well.  Though I have  been preaching about it, for several years, it was the show  that struck a chord with Jenny.   According to Kondo, we are to ask ourselves,  which possessions “spark our joy”.  We are to discard, those that do not.  Apparently, Jenny did this as she was cleaning out, for three year old, Lyla, told her last night, that she wanted to get rid of the dress she was wearing as “it did not spark joy . . and it itched!”

1c7d29ad335a84601ca4952b6b03886c

The light never changed all day on this Saturday.  It could have been anytime, all day long.  It also stayed cold.  Folks a few hours north of us are getting snow.  I hope Lyla gets snow, for she has been looking for it since Christmas.  Jenny does have a birthday  next week end – and it has snowed on her birthday, several times.  There is also the “super moon”, (which I plan to wish on) arriving as well.   

Twilight fell all of a sudden, I noticed.  I went out, but the stars were like well kept secrets tonight.  Oddly, I felt lonely for them.  The veil of darkness felt thick and  the night was so very still.  Only in months like January, can a night seem so deep and absolute. 

The darkness, seemed to separate me from  everything and everyone familiar.  Without Cash, who was sleeping inside,  and without a light, I did not venture far,  for the farmhouse looked extra cozy, on this night.  . . .and the lamp shone through the window, by the beloved “morning table”, beckoning to me , like an old friend. and besides – the cold darkness  did seem “full of lies”  and it did not “spark my joy” . . after all. 

Old Christmas and the Woods in Winter


12832497_992557854168260_1720485240687122452_n

The first Sunday of the New Year dawned bright and clear.  I love Sunday mornings-I am never as inspired or as reflective on any other day.   Maybe, “There is something about a Sunday”, after all. 

Christian and I had coffee together . . .and a heart warming conversation.  Christian has never been one to chatter, even in his childhood.  In a crowd, he mostly listens.  No one has ever accused him of being loud or overbearing.  It is not his nature.  He has never been impulsive, but instead seem to digest information.  He is fiercely independent and anything shallow and worldly, is uninteresting to him.  Under such circumstances, Christian is one of my favorite people to converse with. 

After the “grand finale” of last year, with Daddys’ health scare and losing the much awaited sell of the rabbitpatch, car repairs at Christmas ( which seems a trend for us) . . .well, against the odds, I told Christian that I felt very optimistic about our future.  Christian said he too, had been feeling the same way.  Then we had a deep conversation about the last few years and how every part of the past, which seemed to halt our progress, was actually pushing us on in our pursuits.  I realised that , little by little, my heart had changed, and it seemed to happen while I was unaware!  Christian believes that each act was needed for us and was never against us, as it really seemed some times.  How beautiful and moving, I thought.   I asked Christian, when did he know for sure, that we ought to sell the rabbitpatch for sure . . .He said “the day, that I walked in the sunroom and water was pouring in.”  I laughed til I cried.  Christian is funny, too.

5c7f2fbd360172b03ae1fc469c535e71It is the time of “Old Christmas”, now.   It is hardly celebrated, at all these days and what a shame, I think.  I always think I will pick up, where Miss Sylvia left off, but  haven’t yet.  Miss Sylvia was a dear friend and neighbor, who hosted an “Old Christmas” party every year.  We all left our decorations up, until after the party. Now,  without Miss Sylvia, Farm Life was quiet on the night of “Old Christmas” –  and it made me miss her all over again.

I vaguely remember this holiday, as a child.  “Old Christmas ” parties have dainty foods and children receive small tokens to commemorate when the wise men visited the Christ child.  Next year, I hope to “practice what I preach” and host a small gathering. I will use fancy dishes and serve tiny pimento cheese sandwiches , and Martha Washington candy and all the other “old fashioned” delicacies, that I grew up with . . .and  in this way, I will tell the story of “Old Christmas” .

 

a60033b3860afcfab7d7960ee0e53f62

Monday came along and that changed everything. I did see the sun rise and it bathed the quiet pastures and fields in glory.  When I behold such remarkable beauty, I feel like I have been gifted.   My perspective shifts and worldly cares are “put in their place” .  The handiwork of the “Master” has always done so, for me.  Even as a very small child, I had a young walnut tree that I would confide in, on a regular basis.  No one taught me such a practice and I didn’t know of anyone else, who did such a thing.  

In my teenage years, I took to long ramblings in the woods.  It was not always because I was feeling sullen or rebellious for I rarely was.  The woods that had been my playground, still comforted me and inspired me.  It was like “going home” when I walked ,where I used to run.  Life was changing, as it does on the eve of adulthood and though I was having a fabulous time,  I longed for things that remained as they were.  Unlike people, trees are constant and not given to whims, nor guided by moods.   

In my childhood, my cousins and I would spend many winter days in the woods, disturbing the peace of the pines. Often we had several ponies with us and a dog or two.  We stumbled on an old steel once, another time a school bus and old houses.  To say  we were a bit uncivilized, would not be  a far stretch . . .but we were happy and though we were scratched by briers and wore our clothes out, we thrived in the freedom.  We knew when we smelled supper cooking, that the shadows would soon fall and we knew exactly where, too.

I did not stop my ramblings upon adulthood, but instead took my children to the woods regularly.  We walked most winter days and spent many happy hours together.  Winter is the best time to “stop by the woods” for poison vines, snakes and biting insects have abandoned their warm weather posts.  We walked for miles and for a little while, we were the only ones in the world.  

The children, hardly remember the many vacations we took,  . . . but they all remember  walking back to the house, from the woods, by the light of the moon. . . .  . . . .and I remember, too.

e0770e0c4c0393bd96f05159c1058244

   

 

 

 

Rabbitpatch Apple Dumpling Recipe


ee538f4d5010a9428c14bbdca077fd0b

I am not sure whether it was “Beginners’ Luck” or what . . . but I made apple dumplings that are good enough to brag about.  I had never even eaten apple dumplings, let alone made them, but I am not a bit sorry, that I tried.  I can hardly wait for my son Brant to visit, for I know this dish will give him  one more reason to come home when he can.  Brant loves apples.

Now the good folks in Pennsylvania, may not consider this dish, true apple dumplings, and it seems they are the experts, but this recipe was everything I hoped it would be.  This is as good of a reason as I know of to cook apples.

 

Recipe

1 and 1/2 cups of water                                                                                                                      

1 cup packed brown sugar

4 tbl spoons of butter

a dash of salt

Mix all ingredients and slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  As you do so, for you do not want to leave the stove-  (Butter and sugar will burn if neglected.) -mix the following:

2 cups of self rising flour

1/4 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of milk

2 tbl spoons of melted butter

1 tsp  vanilla extract   ( I tend to “spill”  more, anytime, a recipe calls for vanilla.)

1 cup diced apples

Combine ingredients, saving the apples for last.  Now, drop by spoonfuls in to the sauce.  I turned the heat down a bit, so the boil was slow.  Cover the pot and turn the dumplings after about five minutes.  Cook about five more minutes and remove from heat.  When they are cool enough to eat, do so -and be extra patient so you won’t burn your tongue.  

 

I used a large skillet, to get the dumplings to cook evenly.  All is not lost, if the dumplings, break as you turn them.  Nobody will care, once they have tasted them.

I took some to Mama and Daddy, while my sweet cousin Sheila was there and a dear friend, Miss Edie.  Nobody complained about anything after we ate  . . .and besides, all dishes are really better, when shared with others.

b726e30b70adf7c057d2e35dfad5ce96

Most Especially, in January


18308774_1551366114888351_1429573978_n

Somehow, school started back with its’ routine   – and somehow I did it all again.  After a long break, I am always convinced that I will be late and then, stumble through the day in a haze.  It never happens.  Everything falls into place and I adapt quite naturally.  

The winter days have been born in mist just heavy enough to warrant the wipers every few miles.  The silvery shadows make the fields look like hallowed ground . . .which is fitting, to me.  I have always thought  of fields as holy.   They feed us, and clothe us and time spent around a field, even in months like January, is likely to “cure whatever is ailing” you. Fields are  like loving guardians for all of mankind and we do not need one field less, if you ask me.

I have talked to a field on more than one occasion. When I was battling something, a field gave me hope.  If I was complaining, a field hushed me.  Fields have heard prayers uttered in dark moments  and words sung when joy could not be spoken . . .  and not one field has ever betrayed any secret. When the day comes, that a sidewalk runs in front of my house, I suspect, I will on occasion, seek the solace of a field.

a5388adabbb09dcf70a61173bf3d4c02

Now it has rained every day for a solid week, for the mist turns to drops regularly.  It has not been much more than chilly enough for a light sweater.  I have no idea what is going on in the rest of the world, as I have been avoiding the latest news  broadcasts for a while, but I do know that here, it feels like April.

With the holidays, now behind us, life has thankfully, resumed to a much more manageable pace. Now there is time to write and to read, and being housebound so much, for tending to the housekeeping chores.  It is the time to slow cook roasts and to make  creamy chowders.   Few things afford as much pleasure as the smell of the kitchen in winter.     I have big plans tomorrow to make apple dumplings.   I have never had them, let alone attempted to make them.  The recipe calls for a homemade pastry, brown sugar and butter as well as apples.  It sounds like a heavenly combination  and I do hope not to scorch it with  my impatience to try it.  

ee538f4d5010a9428c14bbdca077fd0b

Daddy has been “holding his own” these days.  He has recovered from his surgery -and the hospital stay, as well.  Daddys’ side of the family is known to be an independent lot-those that marry in to the family, call it  being “hard headed”.   We are, I suppose, that determined.  This makes us accept challenges, do things our own way and we do not bow  or give in one iota, about things that do not make sense.  We make our own decisions, and are not easily  swayed due to the need to be popular or even traditional. Of course, this trait can exhaust our loved ones, at times.  We are likely to call one another hard headed too, if so inclined.  Daddy is as hard headed as any of us.  But, being “hard headed”, meant a poor, little country boy, rose up from the dirt like a “Phoenix.”  Armed with determination, Daddy has excelled at most everything he has ever attempted.  Now, especially, that strong “Warren” gene  is coming in mighty handy, again. 

 Mama, is to be commended too,  as she does whatever is necessary for his well being, whether it is assistance in a task, preparing foods he will eat  or tending to his medicine.  About every hour, she says “drink water”. . . and she has tolerated the “Warren” gene for more than sixty years. 

20e866b55f78fbfefac8aac2d77e7a4a

On Saturday morning, the sun rose with a bit of fanfare. Golden light seemed to crack the sky open and then there was the sun, bright and the color of a tangerine, rising over the oldest barn.  There was wind too and since the wind only rattled the old oaks and made the pines whisper, I welcomed it, for wind takes care of the standing water .  

I read for a while, after the “early service”.  I finally started a book, a friend recommended, Cathy, who writes like a poet, and tends a garden.  It is “Elizabeth and Her German Garden”.  In the beginning, Elizabeth describes her garden with great detail, not only the flowers but how she feels in her garden.  She has  modern ideas about the planting and a gardener, that she must convince, to plant as she directs.  This morning, Elizabeth has finally left her garden, for something besides going to bed.   It is the perfect book for January, I think. 

b6c7d1dac13353eb3fc91b7abae8d1cd

Maybe one of the things that I love about winter, is that it affords me the chance to do some of the things I love.  I love to write, naturally.   I have journals – one for Lyla and  one for Brynn.  I have a personal journey for my “all grown up” children.  A dear friend, Beverly, gave me the gumption to start a prayer journal, as well.  Of course, there is my beloved Rabbitptch Diary,  too.  

I also love to read well written books, which largely means books written before now.  There are exceptions to that, but rarely are modern novels appealing to me.  I do love to research and will tackle all sorts of random subjects, hence I am still reading about “Secretariat” .   I am just in awe of the synchronicity of the people that came together to raise this horse, and their circumstances.   I have also read a bit about “Bruce Lee”  and “Eleanor Roosevelt”, this week. 

Then, there are recipes, which is how I was led to try the apple dumplings.  There is also the medicinal properties of herbs, which I find a fascinating subject.  Now turmeric and  ginger and cinnamon are all a steady part of my cooking.  

My friend Faye, will be glad to know that I am also on a band wagon about essential oils.  I really always have been.  When I adopted my Kyle, from Colombia,  now almost thirty years ago, lavender and chamomile were used in his bath water.  These days I am using them in home made household  cleaning products. I have been making  my own  face cream, toothpaste and deodorant for months.  . . and my medicine cabinet sure looks different than most – so I am never short on new things to learn.   . .however months like June, do not afford me the luxury of such exploration that January does, for the grass and wild vines grow in June.

 Of course in January, I become homesick, for my children.  Now, we are scattered tending to things like making money.  I have no clue what my sons are eating for supper but I think it is safe to say, it is not such things as, rutabagas.  I miss their banter with one another and watching them with Lyla and Brynn.  I miss seeing Jenny being a “second mother” to them.   I hope they are all taking their elderberry and saying their prayers . .  It feels sometimes like the calendar, acts like a great divide that runs between us and between now and the next holiday.   Well, I just miss everybody. . . and most especially in January.

043f3b1da5645b73ab1e289d6736129e