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My Mom’s China

27 Dec

This year 2013 has been a very eventful time. Our lives have recently best been explained by the following scripture found in the Old Testament of the bible.
No matter what belief system you embrace, this passage reflects what is on my heart.

Ecclesiastes 3
New International Version (NIV)
A Time for Everything

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.

What does this have to do with china?
When going through tough times, it is common to take a look at what is really important in your life.
Cleaning out my china cabinet, I took down my favorite china, Burleigh Blue Calico by Staffordshire. It is made in England and is only available in limited pieces
I inherited an incomplete collection of this china when my mom passed away over twenty years ago.
I have children still at home, pondering this thought I stacked all of the blue china on the counter and carefully washed each piece.
When I was done, I took a deep breath and rearranged the mish mosh of classic pottery plates (also cobalt blue) to accommodate the new additions in the day-to-day dish cabinet.
Was I really ready to incorporate these precious, beautiful hard to replace pieces into our daily lives?
Would I cry or get angry if one was broken?
After a time I have come to realize that the risk is worth the joy of seeing the bright, cobalt calico print on our dining room table. We did have our first and second casualties; dinner plate and teacup.
We are now looking for a stone tumbler, precious broken bits saved in a Ziploc bag are now awaiting their rebirth.
Beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder, whether something or someone retains value when broken has to do with the patience and hopeful scrutiny of the bearer.
I am thankful to have this exquisite reminder of my Mom every time we use these plates, fond memories of times shared together.
As my family and I anticipate the return home of my eldest son and his wife, I look forward to a time of new hope, dreams and future deposits of this memory bank called Life.

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Keeping one glove…

8 Mar

We had lived at the house in town for seven years. Now, against all odds our dream had come true. We had just purchased a home in the country.
Amidst our crazy busy schedule; up at 5 am to get ready for work, son ready to be dropped off at school across town and enough time to navigate through the stagnant traffic of city life five days a week.
Not taking a lunch at the regular time, my boss let me take my break at 2:30 so I could go and pick up my son from school. He came back to work with me and after work, we drove home, ate dinner and went out to take care of the horses who were boarded at a private barn.
Being four months pregnant, I was a little particular about the way I wanted things to line up! The weather that November was typical for the Pacific Northwest and being that we were in the elements so much, I had just purchased new hats, gloves, boots for staying warm and dry.
It had taken me awhile to pick out a pair of gloves, I have children’s sized hands and feet and the choice was overwhelming! Finally I decided upon a turquoise pair of gloves, they had grippy dots on the palms and stars on the backs of the hands.
When the offer was accepted on our new house, we did not have long to sell our house in the city. Friends and well-meaning family warned us not to buy the house until our city house sold.
I recall receiving the phone call from the realtor that our offer was accepted, literally five minutes before it expired! I stood there holding the phone receiver in my hand, my husband asking me “what? is it good, what is it about?”. After slowly hanging up, I looked up at him and told him. “We have less than two weeks to sell this house before our first payment is due!”
The realtor we had already spoken with was wonderful and gave us some tips to make things go well. We packed most of the personal items, stored them in our huge garage and burned a Sugar Cookie candle in the entry. Less than a week later our house sold to a young couple buying their first home.
Mind you, it certainly wasn’t our great works that sold this house for us. It was meant to be and sometimes you have to step out and have faith. This was one of those times.
We packed and packed and drove out to the country house. It was such a wreck with much to be done prior to it being close to habitable, but that is another story!
We love our new home, yet there are adjustments with any move.
Being out in the country, it is DARK after the sun goes down! While unpacking, I realized that I couldn’t find the box with gloves and hats. Our house didn’t have a wood stove yet that was operational and we were sleeping in the front room with oil filled base heaters to be warm. We were still traveling to care for the horses and it was cold in December! We had over a foot of snow on the ground shortly after we moved in.
Darn, where is that box? Finally found the box and gleefully pulled all the warm winter stuff out and looked again. There is only one of my new gloves! Well, I had put some mismatched socks in a bag and brought them with us because I hadn’t time to match them up before we moved. I searched all over the place, sigh, only one of my new gloves could be found.
For some reason, I am an eternal optimist. Can you believe that I kept the one glove? Why? Growing up with bare minimums, I appreciated little things. For example in our family at Christmas we were given necessities; socks, new undies, new outfit if we were lucky.
I wanted to hold onto the idea that I could find that glove!
Time passed and my beautiful daughter was born, my ten-year old son growing and that fall I “spring cleaned”.
Surprisingly the second glove appeared out of nowhere. Rather like when a lost sock finds it way home. I was overjoyed!
We were out doing farm chores and I finally got to wear my pair of gloves, reunited at last! Filling water buckets, one of my hands got wet and I took off the gloves and put them in my pocket.
Tired and satisfied at the work we had done, we went back into the house and hung our coats up to dry.
I put some muffins in to cook, set the timer and dashed out to do chores. Not one thought about the gloves.
Next day was the weekend and we were all outside, reached into my coat pocket to get my gloves…pulled out…one glove.
Not again, I frantically searched all over to no avail. Sigh, setting the glove aside by this time feeling like it is the precious.
More time passed and that spring we were having shavings delivered.
We were in the shavings room and scraping the floor clean. I had already found 2 socks, a flip-flop and a hat. I look into the turn out and see a spot of turquoise amidst the grass. Could it be? I rushed out and lo and behold, the long-lost glove!
At first I was ecstatic, I could justify keeping the one glove to my husband who likes to razz me for my eccentric behaviors!
Then as I reached down to pick it up, I noticed that it was in tatters. One of the animals had liked the texture and it was only a scrap of glove now.
It sounds silly, but I was so disappointed. I went back into the house and really thought about why had I kept that mismatched glove for so long? What drives me to keep a huge bag of socks waiting to be matched? Why couldn’t I be like my friends who just throw everything away without remorse?
Mulling this over I came to realize that I have hope in silly things, including people when others do not. Gloves, socks, children I always have faith and hold out when others just go and buy new. Growing up with little I see things differently, constantly looking for the good. Whether you be a glove, sock or wayward person there is always something positive that can be found if you look hard enough!
Hope is not encouraged in this me world and I am content to be peculiar and be on the search for it, as I pull on mismatched gloves.
One glove navy blue and one glove…turqoise.

A Dragonfly in October..

15 Feb

Lab and dragonfly

When I was reminiscing about this, the weather was cold, dreary, raining like cats and dogs. Our old dog Rowdy was wanting to go out and seeing the downpour hesitating, not wanting to venture forth into the deluge.
As I was calling him to go out with me, I realized that he at almost 11 years is an elderly dog.
This saddens me, he has evolved into such a great family friend, snuggler, protector of all.
When we got him, we had a black Lab named Roly. He was my eldest son’s first dog. We were able to go to the farm where he was born and usually you pick out the puppy, well this puppy chose my son. He was the largest and no one had wanted him because he was so calm. After the littermates excitedly jumped, wagged and licked everyone in sight, he quietly came over and set his muzzle on my son’s shoe. He looked up and then started nuzzling the shoelaces, progressing to normal puppy behavior by chewing the laces.
We went and visited the farm a couple more times and when he was 7 weeks old he went home with us.
That pup became my son’s new best friend, they shared food, toys and he was so insistent that eventually he let him sleep on his bunk!
Over the years, he was loyal and loving. He was a gentle giant at over 100 pounds and did not have to bark aggressively, he was just there and that usually made anyone think twice.
I had to travel out-of-state for a business trip and left my husband in charge of farm and children. At the time I ran a preschool/daycare out of our home and I had someone fill in while I was gone.
We talked by phone every night and at the end of the week, I was ready to come home. I missed my family and farm life.
No one had mentioned that Roly, now 10 years had been laying around more than usual. When I came in the door, Rowdy was there bouncing and carrying his toy. Roly was nowhere in sight, not like him!
I walked over to his bed and he slowly glanced up at me, I could tell he did not feel well.
Shortly after arriving home, I was in the car with Roly traveling the 40 minutes into town to the veterinarian.
After running tests, they determined that Roly had been exposed to Salmon and his body was in toxic shock. He came home on fluids and all kinds of pills to help him battle this sickness. Rowdy received a preventative dose of medicine just in case he was exposed.
Evidently because he was an older dog and given that he had probably been sick for 3-5 days, he was not able to fight.
After two days, the whites of his eyes told me it was time. They were lemon yellow and confirmed that his organs were shutting down.
We lifted him, bed and all into the van of a friend and again drove the 40 minutes into town.
The vet kindly came out to the van and in the last act of love and kindness we ended his fight. He had such a heart that the vet said he would of suffered for days.
I held him as his spirit slipped away his eyes never leaving my face.
We wrapped him in his favorite blanket and left for home.
I was so distraught, I came into the house to change clothes and calm down for a little bit before going back out to where we were going to bury him.
Rowdy kept snuffling me and it seemed he was wondering where his canine companion was.
I must tell you that it was October and an unusually warm day, almost like spring, not fall.
When I met my family and friends at the van, they told me that an incredible thing had happened. After opening the hatch door of the van where Roly was lying, a huge Black Dragonfly had flown out.
They were so surprised that they jumped back and stood in awe, it flew all around the van and circled around each person there. As I came, it had disappeared.
Of course when they told me about this, I started crying again.
“**It is said in some Native American Beliefs that Dragonflies are also held as a symbol of renewal after a time of great hardship.”**

I knew this was his spirit, it had to be and I had missed it!
I pulled myself together and just as we started to lift his massive body out of the van, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.
The Black dragonfly was magnificent, after circling up and down my whole body, he landed briefly on my arm.
I was mesmerized by the intricate iridescence traced on his wings and how his head was focused on me.
As suddenly as he appeared, he was gone!
Although I was sad at missing my long time friend, I now was encouraged. I had been blessed at witnessing a very rare sighting of transition, this grew into a spark of hope.
Day after day I continued to search for a glimpse of the Dragonfly again, I wanted to feel in my heart the same joy I was blessed with when it appeared to us in our dark time.
Now, as I realize I my young pup is now dealing with the changes life gives us, I will rejoice that he is with us for hopefully many more years.

I will never forget the Dragonfly in October…

“**Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1604680

Cherry Pie…<3

23 Jan

One way that I can deal with stress is cooking. I don’t like to do dishes, but I LOVE to cook!

We were talking about what to bake this morning amongst ourselves and my youngest daughter says “I can’t wait until big brother comes home, I am going to make his cherry pie!” She then points out that we haven’t made Any cherry pies since he left home, on my birthday almost 5 years ago! Now that is along time without Cherry pie!

Why, oh why, no Cherry pie? When we found out that he was being deployed to Afghanistan, I gave up drinking Dr. Pepper as a way to show support for him. He wouldn’t be able to have any, so neither would I! Christmas that year was very difficult, as hanging up his ornaments, stocking, all reminded us that he was far away and we could not talk with him. 

Deciding upon the Christmas dinner is a family thing, we all share ideas of what we would like to eat for this special day. That is how it came around to Not having Cherry Pie! Well, if Jaron can’t have it we won’t either. 

The children are learning to cook new things and it has been decided that we Will make Cherry Pie this summer, sometime in the near future.

Somehow, it will probably taste the best we have ever remembered. Not because we waited so long to prepare and partake of this seasonal treat, but because of the company that it will be shared with.

We love our family and Cherry Pie!Image

Dreams of Stone

19 Jan

We ended the week by driving over half an hour into Eugene and attending the Green Home and Garden show. We saw alot of new products, tasted some fine chocolates; Chocolate Decadence, Divine Cupcake, Cafe Mam coffee, Coconut Bliss, Our Daily Bread and my husband sampled some Hard cider that he said was very flavorful. 

I have come to the unfortunate realization that I may never get to “return” to Ireland. No, I have not ever been able to travel to the land of my heritage. I wonder, what caused my great grandfather to leave this beautiful land. I feel uplifted whenever I hear the familiar, haunting music or see photos of the vast country left behind. 

Image I have been wistfully doing reseach on Ireland for quite awhile now. 

I envision bringing a little of Ireland here to Zion Farm.

I spoke with several masonry artists at the show. One had experience and sincerely offered to indulge my daydream of a 600 foot free standing stone wall.

As we were driving home, I was inspired and wanted to share this vision.

I was totally shut down, we can never afford that. Why are you even inquiring about that? Do they know you can’t have this built? At first, I was really hurt.

What is so wrong about having a dream? Is it because I am no longer young? Does it seem like things like this don’t happen to people like me? Who exactly are people like me?

It must be in my blood, to dare to dream of seemingly impossible things. 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I want to be surrounded by it. Breathe it in, bathe in the light of it’s Glory. Whether in awe of the Grandfather tree, wondering what he has seen in over 200 years of life. Did he dare to dream? Did it seem impossible as a young, tender seedling to think he would be as he is now?

Funny to think, my dreams are of stone..

Wishing..

18 Jan

How long has it been since you have heard the saying ” If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride?”

I was fortunate enough with the help of cooperating technology to Skype with my oldest son and his lovely wife this morning. After we signed off, I had so many thoughts swirling in my head and out my ears. This week has been a doozy. Busy with school, field trips, Portfolio work, chores. Dealing with weather challenges, wildlife clashing with our livestock.

We lost our first little hen to a Cooper’s Hawk last week. Looking out the kitchen window, while washing dishes, I noticed our mixed flock was hiding under the fallen apple tree. Next they ran into the thicket of wild rose hips. I realized that they must be terrified! Poor little things, they don’t realize they are too big to be carried off by the hawk. I had made the mistake of letting out the 4 month old Silkie & Silkie cross pullets from their safe chicken tractor.

Later, I noticed we were missing a little hen. Her name was Butter, she was tiny and yellow. She was to be my new little hen. Silkie hens are so tiny, yet they have huge hearts. Her Mommy hen bravely fought off a rat, when it entered their little coop. I found Butter, in the beginning of the thicket, suffering from the cold and not able to move. I initially thought she was just hypothermic, but after slowly thawing her out I realized something else was wrong.

Her little life ebbed away in the safety and warmth by our woodstove.  She was just a chicken  I hear quite frequently. Lately, I notice that I truly enjoy the creatures that our small farm gives a home to. They are always happy to see me, don’t talk back and bless us with milk, eggs and soon our very own lambs.

Why is this note titled wishing? Some days you just have to give in and do a little wishing, a little dreaming, calling up joy from deep within your soul. Thinking back to younger years when nothing seemed like it would ever be too difficult to accomplish, cost too much, take too long, nor be an impossible goal. 

I hadn’t really given too much thought to wishing until I started praying, asking for joy to be restored in my life. Not that I am not happy, I love my family, friends, farm & critters! Just in the thick of it all, I want to be able to feel the joy.

Watching the chickens when I let them out this morning, to them it seems like each day has a new beginning. Running out to see what little treats, salad, oatmeal, warm water and kind words we have for them. They always chick chatter , when they hear my voice they come running. 

I see the day come to an end, bed the animals down in fresh straw to keep them warm. Their breath turning to smoke like mist as it meets the frozen world. Making sure all are accounted for and chores are done. I come inside and defrost by the woodstove.

My husband already turning in for the night, he is doing the work of three at his job since they have laid off most of his coworkers. Our old dog is snoring. My youngest daughter’s fat cat claws his way up the side of the couch, so he can plop his kitty fatness into the nook of the couch for the nite.

I realize that in writing this note, I can count all of the blessings that make this feel like home. It is good to think about wishing and daydreams, isn’t it? It has helped me to remember joys are renewable and ever changing.

Waking up to the smell of freshly ground coffee, the kiss and embrace of loved ones, subdued glow of the coals behind the glass door of the woodstove.

Ah, joy. I only need to fan the coals, add some tinder and hope will burst forth like the start of a flickering flame.

If wishes were horses, than beggars would ride.