gravel road girl

Keeping it simple in the country

Celebrating (Re)Purpose

Celebrating summer!

As I dip my toes back into the waters of writing after a way-too-long absence, I’m searching for purpose and focus. I’ve decided I agonize over this too much. So, my writing “purpose” for July is the the over-used, over-blogged idea of repurposing.

Yada-yada-yada. . . you can read about it everywhere, I know. But, bear with me if:

  1. You’re cheap. I like a good deal, and I’ll share some of mine with you.
  2. You love the idea of seasonal decorating, but you need some fresh ideas.
  3. You would like to learn to decorate with things you already have.

Throughout the month of July, I’ll share with you a variety of ways I repurpose, rearrange, and refresh my house and garden with inexpensive (mostly) and unusual items. I hope you’ll follow along!

Celebrating the 4th of July!

After Christmas, the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday for decorating. Those pops of red, white, and blue sparkle the whole month of July and well into August for me. So come along on the tour, and I’ll explain as I go.

I really can’t get enough of old postcards, and those little stands that are holding them are weighted, metal flower frogs. I probably have a dozen flower frogs of various shapes. They’re easily found at antique stores and flea markets ranging in price from $3-$10 depending on the size and shape. You’ll see in many of the pictures that I use them throughout my house, and I use them all the year round. I simply swap out the postcard. But, you could use photos taken seasonally or maybe a hand-written, seasonal recipe card.

But getting back to the postcards. . .

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This is my postcard drawer. Postcards are, hands down, the cheapest, easiest, most interesting way to add variety to your seasonal decorations. I have postcards for every season and almost every holiday. Christmas and New Years are the easiest to find, and Halloween is the most difficult. But if you’re a history junkie like me, I’m simply fascinated by the hand-written notes scrawled on the backs of these postcards.

Some share tidbits of family news, young love, or long-awaited homecomings. The price is right at $1-$3 for most cards.

 Display them in old card holders or start your own collection of “frogs.” They can also be easily slipped into the corner of a mirror or displayed on the fridge.

As you can see, old books play a big part in all of my seasonal decorating.

 

I keep my eye out for red books, especially, as they can be used for the Fourth of July AND Christmas. Blue books work in the winter months as well as July 4th. I have a stash of green books for spring and orange and black for fall. Whatever colors are not in use simply fill a basket in a corner. 

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Old thermoses. . . 

 . . . old, blue bottles. . . 

. . . inexpensive mini-flags, as well as seashells collected on vacations are all easy and inexpensive pops of red, white, and blue. Maybe you don’t have “old, blue bottles,” but even a Ball canning jar filled with shells and a couple of flags perched in it adds a great touch to your table. And you might not have an old Bingo game, but  a couple boxes of sparklers tied with a red ribbon and tucked up beside a vase of daisies works, too. 

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Do you have a carpenter’s ruler that was your dad’s or grandpa’s? I have several that sit in my windows shaped into stars. This black, metal one was a few sticks short, but it still works as a star! Another little bottle and another little flag–it doesn’t take much to say, “Happy Independence Day!”

Even a tablecloth or an apron (I know, who has aprons anymore–I do!) can become a decoration. “Storing” my outside tablecloth over the back of a chair and a vintage apron on the corner of the chalk board are casual ways to add that color without much fuss. 

What else do you have that’s red, white, and blue? Croquet balls? Any other toys or sports equipment you could swipe for the month of July? I nabbed this old, metal Pepsi truck off a local Facebook swap site for a steal–$15. I know, not everyone has “an old, metal Pepsi truck.” But maybe you have a child’s baseball glove and a worn baseball. Fit those together on your bookshelf, tuck in a flag or two, and fill a small jar with peppermints to go beside it–voila!

And perhaps the simplest addition to any summertime decor. . .

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               seashells

They’re free (or really cheap on-line!), and force you to take some time to look for the beauty in small, simple things.

 

I hope you’ve found at least one take-away idea for repurposing your own things for a festive Fourth, or maybe you’ve been inspired to seek out some new treasures. 

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”    ~Confucius

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SLIVERS

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The rough spots catch me–

Piercing painfully, I

Draw back quickly and inspect the wound.

The sliver is easily seen, easily extracted.

It’s a good sliver—

if there is such–

obvious and intrusive,

simply plucked from beneath the skin.

But the bad sliver—

Deep and small—initially unnoticed,

but festering with time and avoidance–

too sensitive to touch,

too painful to ignore.

It affects the whole body despite its size.

I must tend to it.

Silly, how small it is

Yet it can distract me from the most important things.

 

I have slivers in my heart, too.

The pains of my youth have,

thankfully,

been plucked—though not painlessly.

They were obvious and ugly.

Garnered from rough choices and youthful ideals.

Now the deeper slivers, though less obvious,

Reveal themselves.

Slivers of fear,

Shards of discontent,

Slender slips of doubt that resonant

the hurts of why, the aches of when.

In the wisdom granted in the asking,

He shows me the painful changes He needs to make.

Extracting the invasive slivers of selfishness.

Gently, yet firmly, working out pride, fear, worry.

They are so deeply imbedded

I have almost become accustomed to their pain.

But He reminds me,

“They distract you from the important things.”

 

 Watch over your heart with all diligence; for from it flows the springs of life.

Proverbs 4:23

 

Fifty-one

*A moment of explanation: the following thoughts were written almost two and a half years ago. I was turning the corner on half a century; I was no longer a home-school mom, and truthfully, I wasn’t sure where I was headed. The words I wrote were really just for me, a ‘brain dump’ as I call it. A pep talk to my mid-life self. But reading it again, now, I see truth in it that perhaps someone else can use, no matter the age. I haven’t edited it since I wrote it–just pure thoughts about dreams and creativity and moving forward. I will say, I have progressed along this path, although sometimes in shadows and sometimes in light.

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How do I begin to recreate myself at 51? How do I figure out the person I thought I would be when I was young and had so many dreams? How do I believe that I can still be some version of that person? How do I know what to let go of and what to pursue? How do I honor the Lord in all of this? How do I sort out what is selfish and what is Spirit directed? How do I end and begin again?How do I let go of one thing before I grab onto another? I don’t even know what the “another” is. How do I believe what others may believe about me? How do I reconcile earthly longings with heavenly purposes? How do I move myself back into the creativity that I so long for? Where do I find that again? How deeply do I have to delve to draw it back to the surface? How do I let myself try and fail and try yet again only to fail; I’m not good at that; I don’t even know what that feels like. How do I give myself permission to not be good at something? How do I find peace simply in the trying–not for sale, not for praise, not for purpose–simply for the effort of trying? How do I draw together the fragments of me that have settled to the bottom and really don’t fit rightly anymore? Do the pieces finally come back together in a way I can’t envision? Who is the different me that I haven’t even thought about? What is there that I have not yet discovered in these 51 years?

In these almost 24 years of being a mom, I have found someone I never thought I would–sometimes worse than I thought, sometime better. Who, now, is around this next bend? Someone worse or someone better? I hope I’ve gained enough wisdom to not be too much worse. How do I press on to be someone better? I want to be someone new. Where are the strands to tug on and pull this ‘someone’ out of the shy darkness? The places she has settled herself for so long in waiting, patiently. Now is the time to begin. Let all things be worthy of the effort of creativity. Try and fail and try and fail–it’s o.k. Find contentment in it for the sake of creativity. Give it away! Do not become stuck in purpose, quality, time, expense. Let your mind and heart bound far outside the structured lines you’ve given yourself for so long. Every child dreams of hidden places and secret rooms. We are rarely blessed to be granted one. But what about the ‘hidden places’ and ‘secret rooms’ that life still has in store–just in me. The things I have yet to find out about myself, and the surprise of it is simply for me to slip in and be content in my newness. The joy of being in that space in me. How do I begin this search? I truly feel and need (which will be a struggle) to press painfully against my current space of safety. I always do those things that are expected of me, and they always take priority. How do I make creativity a priority? How do I crumble the walls of expectation and do the unnecessary yet creative thing? How do I NOT feel guilty about that? Life will move on if I don’t always do the expected and necessary.

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”   ~Pearce

 

 

 

A Button Story

Once upon a time there was a beautiful, young maiden.

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A-hem! A BEAUTIFUL, YOUNG MAIDEN. . . 

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O.k., that’s better. This lovely maiden had her heart set on marrying a handsome and thoughtful young man.

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Alas, only one thing stood in their way (well, o.k., quite a few things, but ONE thing was)–a gorgeous gown. The dress of her dreams. The attire of the ages. The get-up of the gods. I think you see what I’m getting at here. She needed the perfect dress. 

And, she actually found it without too much trouble.

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Well, this looks like trouble, I guess. But we found a dress anyway. The trouble came when all the alterations were done. Done except for one little detail. . . 

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Buttons.

The lovely maiden thought the buttons of the dress terribly distasteful and all around ewwwwww! 

“That’s o.k., dear maiden, I, your loving Mother will fix it. I am, after all, your Fairy Fix-it Mother.”

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And so, off trotted the Mother to the fabric store to procure the precise buttons for the perfect wedding gown. She purchased the needed 30–THIRTY!–buttons that would embellish the graceful back of the gorgeous gown. And home she trotted, the Fairy Fix-it Mother, to finish up this last gown-task just six days before the wedding. 

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Carefully, painstakingly the buttons were stitched, in precise and measured fashion, to the gown. Did I mention that there were thirty? Yeah, thirty. . . 

Much later, when the buttons were done and the maiden arrived home from her wanderings, she tried on the dress. Ah, how lovely to have it done! 

But even as the maiden admired the dress, the buttons, so carefully stitched, looked like a line of misbehaving children! Tilted and slanted and shifting with the maiden’s every movement. This would never do! Two slightly OCD maidens stared in horror at the row of buttons–what to do now?!fullsizerender-12

Fairy Fix-it Mother said in her most soothing and confident voice, “No worries, my dear. I’ll figure something out. It will be your most perfect and lovely gown in time for your Big Day.”

“Thanks, Mom!” said lovely maiden, “You’re the best!” (Yeah, I think that’s how it went.)

“What to do. . . what to do. . .what to do,” muttered Mother as she lay wide awake staring at the ceiling and trying to ignore the clock moving from 1:30 to 2:30 and onward. 

“Sleep. I REALLY need sleep. Lord,” prayed the Mother in all seriousness and earnestness, “I need You to give me an answer because I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t have time to order the buttons that I need. Please, find me a solution.” And with that prayer, she finally rolled over and went to sleep. 

Morning came too quickly, but almost upon her rising, the Mother had an idea about the buttons. “Funny” how that happens when you pray. 

“Pssst!” said her brain, “What about the buttons on YOUR wedding dress? It’s boxed up right there in your closet.”

“Well, that’s a silly idea!” she said to her brain. “My dress was ivory and the maiden’s is white. That will never work.”

“Listen to me! I’m your brain and God gave me this idea! Get your dress down and just check  and see if those buttons would work. What do you have to lose?”

And so Fairy Fix-it Mother did just that. Hefting down the plastic covered box that had not been opened for almost 31 years, for she and her love had been married in the same church all those years before. Now she carefully open the lid and looked at the lace and satin gown. And all those buttons. . .

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“Maiden, come look at this dress of mine. For fun, try it on.”

Her thoughtful pose and jovial humor told the Mother she was not as enthralled with my 80’s dress as I was. But still, it was lovely to see my sweet girl in the gown of my sweetest dreams. But, alas, I hold you in suspense of the button dilemma!

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Carefully, Mother snipped a button from the sleeve and went to the maiden’s gown and laid it down on the lace. How is it that a button from an ivory dress can match so perfectly to a near-white gown? I don’t know, but it did!

And so, with much rejoicing and and general hooping and hollering, the two maidens snipped 29 buttons (did I mention we needed thirty buttons on that dress?) off the yellowed gown and Fairy Fix-it Mother happily, and most relieved, stitched them onto the maiden’s gown-of-her-dreams. And when her most special of days arrived,. . . fullsizerender-3

. . . she danced with her Poppa in her gorgeous gown while Mother whispered a prayer of blessing and thanks as she thought of her most special of days and the buttons on the dress.

THE END

“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale of all.” ~Hans Christian Anderson

 

 

 

Waiting for spring

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“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”    ~Anne Bradstreet

I’ve thought this true so many times. I think that’s why I love Iowa and partly why I love winter. Because. . .

it’s not that I ALWAYS love winter. In those long, gray days of

February or March,

I know soon–very soon–a warm wind will blow,

a daffodil will poke its green finger out and

push away

the icy wet of winter.

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The tug ‘o war between warm sunshine and

frigid blasts will,

eventually,

end in a victory of

puddles and tulips and dandelions.

But victory is always sweeter when the battle is

hard fought and,

perhaps,

the outcome is doubtful and

 tests your metal.

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And sometimes that testing is all about

waiting. 

“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”  ~Elisabeth Elliot

Even as we wait for the warmth of spring to

overwhelm winter’s cold, 

God asked me to wait

much

this year. 

To wait with purpose and understanding

is a doable feat,

not easy, but doable.

To wait with questions and doubts and 

unanswered prayers is,

most certainly,

“always winter but never Christmas.”

There is no doubt that God calls us to

wait. . . 

“Wait on the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes,

wait

on the Lord.”  Psalm 27:14

What do you do when your heart has no courage?

It’s still and icy

like a January garden.

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My courage, my strength were there

because I believed my 

God was there.

But sometimes that belief was

fine and fragile and nearly

fractured.

I ached for the warm winds of 

healing and purpose amid the frustration and fear.

Instead,

He sent wisdom in the words

of friends;

He sent compassion in the hands

of helpers.

He did not send healing–

in my time.

He did not send purpose or answers–

to my heart.

But in my waiting He sent

grace.

“I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait.” ~C.S. Lewis

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Like a thawing wind,

the depth of His grace gave me purpose.

If nothing else,

grace is always enough

to give purpose

to give strength

to give courage

to allow us to wait. . .

for spring.

“My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

The Season Between Weddings

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I’m in a season between two weddings. I’ve never been here before, and I doubt that I will again. It has been strange and wonderful and a little stressful. Not because of the weddings but for various other reasons.

I say strange because this earth-loving, weed-pulling, flower-plucking nature girl has been slightly house-bound and quite negligent of her yard duties. But the amazing thing is that God hasn’t.

Finally, today, I went out with clipper and wagon and wandered the yard in a way I hadn’t for quite some time. Never in all my gardening years do I remember roses scenting the air or nasturtiums overwhelming the walk at the end of October.

It was a quiet blessing to see that, despite my inattention, God and nature carried on quite well.

Nasturtiums

Sea Oats

Roses still in bud and blooming!

Hydrangea, foxglove, and the last honeysuckle on the vine.

Bonnie and Libby, always my gardening companions.

An explosion of pink. . . the last daisy and a solitary zinnia.

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No need for embellishment.

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The only way to wrangle rowdy pumpkins.

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 Audrey Hepburn once said,

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

That really is the joy, the magic, the excitement of gardening:

to believe that tomorrow, the next season, the next year will be

better. And the next step outside the door will bring you

~a new delight.~

“she breathes in dirt and exhales flowers.”   ~unknown

Chick Shack. . .finally

Men have their man caves, and I’ve heard of she-sheds. But I thought it only appropriate to call my chicken shed turned personal hideaway my. . .

CHICK SHACK

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It’s been a long time in the making, and I only have lavish and profuse praises for my dad and hubby without whom this never would have happened.

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And, when you see the pictures, you might think I’m a teensy bit spoiled. Go ahead, I’ll own it. I’m spoiled. I have a hubby who went above and beyond the call of all handyman duty to make this space year-round usable and delightfully comfortable. And to give you an idea of  the work that went into this. . .

Old siding came off, new studs went in, a new window, wiring, insulation, new siding and trim. No one was exempt from ‘chick shack duty.’ Seth and Bonnie put in their fair share of time, too. Bonnie mostly chewing on rotten boards.

 Next came, well, a long interlude when my dad and I built a table, and Kurt wired and insulated. And, did I mention, he also put in can lighting. That guy!

So, by last fall it was looking like this. A little space heater, nice electrical, dry wall–good enough for this crafty chick. Granted, the door could use some work!

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And this, my friends, is the redneck way of keeping mice away. Good ‘ol steel wool stuffed around the perimeter. I’m not fussy when it comes to rodent deterrents.

Now. . .

Now can I move my stuff in?

But wait, it would be so much better to have it taped, mudded, and textured. Don’t you think?

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Enter Brent Williams and Ridge Line Construction (shameless plug to follow) who did an awesome job on my tiny, little, no-name job. We’ve had Brent do several projects for us and have always been pleased with the quality and timeliness of his work. Check him out on the web if you’re needing a renovation done. Now back to our regular programming.

Any-hoo, in the hot, sticky days of June, Brent got this shack lookin’ mighty fine, and finally the painting could begin. Painting with no trim, a cement-don’t-care-floor, and a 6′ ceiling is a painter’s dream!

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RAIN

The name of my lovely Sherwin Williams paint. Really, could that be any more appropriate for my little hideaway? I love to paint. My back and shoulders don’t like to paint, but the rest of me does. It’s a battle, people. But there you go, isn’t it a hushed shade of blue-gray?

Now?

Now we’re done and ready for the fun stuff, right?

Um, bless his hard-working, do-it-right heart. My hubby said we really should do something about the floor–it’s cracked and damp.

“You’ll be happier if we do something with the floor.”

He’s right. But I REALLY want this done!

So he put down a liner and laid some vinyl, wood-looking floor, and it’s made all the difference–no cracks, no musty smell, easy to sweep. Yeah, I’m spoiled. By the way, did I mention he put air conditioning in, too? Don’t hate me. . .

And now. . .

“Are you ready to see your Chick Shack Fixer-Upper?”

My front door and sweet barn light–in case I’m working out there late.

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My workbench.

I have to stop right here and say, I have so many things in this shed that direct my thoughts to the special people in my life. The base of this workbench came from my father-in-law’s business: refurbishing commercial dishwashers. It was grungy and greasy and rusty. Kurt had turned it into a workbench years ago, and it had served us well in the shed. A little soapy, hot water, elbow grease, and a couple cans of glossy white spray paint brought it back to life. The top is just pressed board, so no worries about all the messes I’ll make on it. The trash can: hauled from Michigan last week. Peg board: I LOVE IT! So versatile and organized! The floor: I know, right?!

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My  reading and writing corner–ahhh! The chair: 21 years old, slipped covered for the last 10, and then dyed this spring to a robin’s egg blue. Still goin’ strong. Wall chart: $5 at a flea market! Paddleboard competition pillow: t-shirt sent with love from Ethan. Suit case under the basket: a gift from Tess and used for storing fabric.

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$30 rag-tag rocker hosed down, clear-coated, and recushioned with fabric from Tessa’s old bedspread. I’m a fabric junkie and have no intentions of rehabilitation. My little Ikea sewing cart and fold-up sewing table neatly stowed in the corner.

$30 table from Goodwill, but knocked down to $15 if I hauled it away that day! That, right there folks, is why I still drive a mini-van: hauling capacity, not children–junk. Painted with FREE Benjamin Moore paint from the Bondurant recycling center. Pennants: vacationing nostalgia. Bonnie, my ever-present companion only because she hopes I’ll play with her (note the red dog toy in the lower right corner).

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Have I mentioned this lovely graphic designer who does awesome chalkboard art? Chandler, my soon to be daughter-in-love, made this way last fall, and I’ve been dying to put it up. It’s finally home.

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Maybe if I crank down the air and put on some Beach Boys, I can convince myself I’m back in Hawaii–birthday present from Ethan and a good reminder to relax.

This is the place I put things that make me smile–just because. A book because I liked the title and the picture on the opening pages. Clocks: one that works and one that doesn’t. An old ledger and fountain pen.

My signature stick measure window star, curtains that used to be in my upstairs hallway, and a vintage fan that works beautifully after a good oiling.

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I don’t know, maybe my kids don’t like me “stealing” their music groups. But when I listen to music they like, it makes me think of them (and I like it, too).

This rack came out of a mechanic’s shop where it used to hold all sorts of belts. Who knew it would ever end up in a chick shack! The shirt is one that Thad bought for a costume, but it’s become my paint/soldering shirt. Mirrors, I love mirrors. Hmmm, that sounds a little vain. On the right, some of the gazillion projects I’ve put on hold just waiting for this space: canvases and frames to be repurposed and my jewelry soldering iron–already been used.

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I know, it’s a hook. A $3 hook. But, oh, the things that can be hung on those hooks. Sculptural and practical–junk doesn’t get any better than that.

Well, I’ve got my coffee and my music (in my redneck speaker system), and I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour. The Chick Shack is just a short walk from the house and the coffee pot, so I’d love to have visitors. Really, I mean it.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  ~Eleanor Roosevelt       

It all began. . .

 

It all began–or ended, as it were–with the chicken rapture.

Chicken rapture.

Yes, that’s what I said. See, we had some chickens–Rhode Island reds.rhode-island-red

We started with six, and to no fault of ours, by last spring (2015) we were down to three. Three chickens, one of which wasn’t laying. Or else they were taking turns not laying because I was getting two eggs every day, not three. Also, this was our second batch of chickens, and I was starting to get beyond the romanticism of chickens wandering the yard and me, with my basket, gathering fresh eggs every day.

Chickens are work. They poop–a lot. And if you let them “wander,” they tend to poop on your sidewalk. By your back door. Right where you want to walk, barefoot, to water your plants.

And, of course, they need lots of fresh water, and their pen needs cleaning regularly. It comes with the territory. I get that. I was just getting a little tired of the ‘territory’ for two measly eggs a day.

So on a beautiful April morning, Seth stepped out to catch the bus. I watched him wander over into the yard, peer at something, and turn back toward the house.

“Mom, you should come take a look at this.” Then he walked down the lane to the bus.

That’s all? Come take a look at this? Coming from a 14-year-old boy, you tread hesitantly with the expectation of making your 51-year-old self beat a speedy retreat.

Snake?

Mangled animal?

Large, bizarre fungi?

I slipped on shoes and walked tentatively out in the yard.

What IS that?

Pile-of-Feathers

Piles of feathers. Several piles of feathers scattered about the yard. Probably five distinct piles of feathers. Just feathers.

No chicken parts–feet, heads–nothing!

Now, some of you more savvy country folk are pointing fingers at marauding ‘coons. A feisty pack who saw an easy chicken dinner. I can just hear Ma Coon saying, “Clean them in the field. No need to bring the mess back here for me to clean up!” (Really, that is what a Ma Coon would say.)

But how did they leave all those feather piles and no other ‘remains?’Pretty incredible. So we are choosing the gentler version with a happier ending–chicken rapture. Snatched away, featherless, to the green and buggy pastures in the sky.

So you may be wondering (or not) why I started, “It all began. . .” Well, what does any craft-loving, too-many-projects-started-already woman do with a perfectly awesome chicken shed and no chickens? She turns her chicken shed into her Chick Shack!

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Isn’t it cute? Too cute to sit empty, that’s for sure! And so it began. . .

Half of the shed was for storage and half was for chickens. I kind of had my work cut out for me. . .

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Enter my faithful helpers, Tess and Bonnie. Bonnie is the puppy, and she wasn’t much help, but she deserved to be in the picture. Let me just say, that what I THOUGHT would be a little elbow grease on my part and some minimal electrical work on my hubby’s part sort of turned into something bigger.

Suffice it to say, a year later we are nearing the end of the project, and I will say in my next post, in the words of Chip and Joanna Gaines, “Do you wanna see your fixer upper?”

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding onto them.”            ~David Allen

 

Just a thought. . .

I was doing a little spring cleaning today–“little” being the operative word. But I was dusting picture frames and, as is my habit of distraction, rearranging things, too.

Take a picture from the living room and try it in the dining room.

Put away all the Easter postcards and get out summery ones.

My tendencies in decorating (besides inexpensive vintage) are sculptural or graphic or words–not a lot of art. I especially like old, framed poems or sayings. And even though I’ve had most of these pretties hanging in my home for quite a while, I still never tire of their quaint inspiration. But today it made me stop and think. . .

“What do today’s ‘inspirations’ say to the next generation?”

Here are just a few contemporary quotes; the first one hangs in my home:

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I like this in my home. It’s a reminder to slow down and enjoy life.

Here are a couple more; these do not hang in my home.

fear

success

These are not, by any means, bad quotes.

They’re inspiring.

They’re dream-building.

They make you want to press on!

But they’re very different from those quotes that hung on the parlor walls and kitchen pantries of our grandparents. Our focus has shifted to propel ourselves to a better future. Our grandparents focused on walking alongside others and meeting needs. Here are a few examples that hang in my home:

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Another about a “day well spent.”

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Speaking of friendship, we rarely confess it in these terms anymore. Which, perhaps, is sad.

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Even a rainy day is viewed with a long-term perspective in this poem that makes me smile every time.

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And postcards–mini-art, I call them–were so endearing. I love the sweet, simple sentiments people took time to send. They’re perfect reminders for me on a window sill or side table.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pooh-poohing today’s inspiring words of wisdom. But I find value in stepping back–and looking back–at the heart and focus of a generation ago. They were not looking for a hand up or a hand out, but they always had a helping hand and a proper perspective.

It’s amazing what one can learn while ‘spring cleaning.’

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.   — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Kick-in-the-butt Day

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Yesterday was a kick-in-the-butt day.

My mother would put it a little more delicately:

“Action precedes motivation”

Uggghhh! I hated it when she said that. Mostly because I knew she was right, and it was her round-about way of saying, “I don’t care if you don’t feel like it, get moving.”

I knew I would fall into this phase of post-homeschooling: I have all this time, so what’s the rush to get anything done? Which is a lie. I really don’t have “all this time.” But I do have more time than I did, and there is not quite the urgency in my life. And coming from parental genetics that dictate–if you can’t sleep get up and clean something (which is entirely true in my mom’s world)–it bothers me NOT to be productive.

Yesterday, slow-start Monday, found me still in my pjs at 9:00 with coffee in hand. Nothing wrong with that, people. I give myself those days sometimes. Young moms, I’m not talkin’ to you here; stay in your pjs ALL DAY if that’s what works. But, I’ve had too many of those lately, and I had no plan ahead of me. Something needed to change. . .

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O.k., just to get myself started, I cleaned up a little clutter. As I was putting something away, I noticed the cupboard door was loose. Yep, I’d noticed that before. No tightening those screws. I either need different screws or a wood filler. A partial fix is better than not starting, right? I can’t really ignore a cupboard door leaning in my dining room, so this will be completed. . . soon.

Does anyone else’s master bedroom become the dumping ground for all things random? Mine is actually the stopping point for all memorabilia, all pictures, all ‘treasures’ from which we can’t quite part. Reason being 1) the attic access is in our room 2)my scrapbooking station is in our room. Now for whatever reason, I CANNOT bring myself to throw pictures away. If some of my childhood classmates happen to be reading this, yes, that MAY be one of your elementary photos you see! Why I’ve had them tucked away among my stash all these years, I don’t know. Someone please give me permission be done with them! I did tackle these piles. I did not throw away any pictures. . . yet.

These are not my piles. These are husband-piles. I don’t complain about my husbands caps because he doesn’t complain about my shoes. But, I will say, that I DO wear all of my shoes at some time during the year. He, on the other hand, does NOT wear all of these caps. Therefore, it is time for a ‘thinning’ of the caps. Old, ooolllldddd cleats (high school here, people) and hundreds of football cards–top shelf pushed to the back. Sorry, kids, they’re yours someday!

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What’s on your side of the bed? This is mine. At least five books started. But, you know, books are like food–it depends on what you’re in the mood for. But I gave myself a talking to and put four of them aside. I will finish the one that I started. . . last (2015) January.

FullSizeRender (5)I am really in the groove of kick-in-the-butt day! I headed outside to the garden. In the foreground you see the uncompleted clean-up; in the background you see the fruits of my blistered hands (and a really bad compost bin that’s going away this spring). O.k., not really–I didn’t work THAT hard! But I did get a good chunk of raking and hauling done!

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Finally, you have to do something lovely on days like this. Otherwise, there’s no motivation to have another one. So I pulled together some of my vintage pretties to freshen up the decor doldrums. Nothin’ like a bowl of smooth rocks and a couple of birch twigs to shout SPRING! Yeah, I like to keep it simple.

Yep, that was my kick-in-the-butt day. I was pretty pleased by the end of it. But pulling out of the station this morning, all I could say was. . .

“Action precedes motivation.”

~Elizabeth Gifford~

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