Friday, August 26, 2011

tools of the trade

Yes, new neighbors, I fully intend on having a winter garden. I also have every intention on owning a nice flock of chickens in the spring. And soon we'll have a small orchard and some berry patches. Herbs and such as edible landscaping are also very likely. So please, if you don't mind, get used to me daydreaming about my little homestead as I pause and look around while hanging laundry. Also, you should probably get used to me standing in the yard with a compass and a book or two while I think and plan and dream about which things to plant and where to plant them so they get the best lighting. Oh, and those kids, yes, the ones with insect books and jars to catch them in, or sticks and little bottles of sap, or yarn and dolls and fallen pears, or magnifying glasses and binoculars, those girls are mine. They'll be outside with me a lot. More often than not they'll be singing or pretending to be pirates or explorers while they search for new and interesting insects, woodland creatures, and flowers and weeds. No, they won't be getting on a bus in the morning. They'll be learning in our new (not at all finished) school room...learning, studying, exploring, and loving every minute of it.
And while you're at it, try to find my use of yarn and clothespins endearing instead of just plain crazy. When planning sections of yard to turn into garden space I like to use what is close at hand and for me it was clothespins for stakes, yarn for rope, and a softball for a hammer. Those are my tools of the trade. What? You never used a softball to hammer clothespins into the ground before? Surely it's not just me. Anyway, it worked great.
Oh, and see that cute little shed there in the background? Well, this winter we'll be turning that into a most fabulous chicken coop. There is a lot of brush and junk behind there (left by the previous owner) that we'll be clearing out so that the hens can have a nice open (but fenced in) chicken run. And further behind that is where the orchard will be. Oh, well here's a shot of the space we'll be using for some lovely little dwarf fruit trees.
The little shed for my chickens is just to the left out of the shot. This little homestead of ours has so much potential. Our library bag is overflowing with books about edible landscaping, winter gardening, orcharding (is that a word?), and raising chickens. Our brains are overflowing with lists, ideas, plans, and dreams. God has certainly blessed us with more that we would ever need. Our goal and our desire is to be good stewards of all that He has blessed us with and to teach our children to do the same.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

when the earth quakes

Yesterday around 2 pm we, here in Virginia, had an earthquake. An earthquake that measured 5.9. This was my third earthquake experience. The first two were so small that it only felt like a big truck driving by the house. But yesterday, as I sat in the chair tying my shoes and as the girls gathered some books before we headed out the door, the house began to shake. At first I thought again that it was a big truck driving down our street, but as the shaking intensified I was frozen. Not really in fear, but in amazement. Is this really happening? Is it going to get worse? The girls were terrified. Not just from the odd sensation of our immovable house moving right under our feet but also from the noise. Hearing the sound of our house shaking (an unforgettable and indescribable sound), hearing the dishes rattle, seeing the lamp fall off the table, watching the shoes fall from the shelf by the door, seeing the chandelier sway...all within a few seconds. Scared...yes they were. I must say it did make me a little tense but God gave me grace to remain calm. Voice soft and steady I told them to leave what they had so we could go outside until it was over. The quaking sensation was considerably less in the warm grass but as I put my hand on the bricks of my house I could still feel it moving. Then it was over. Just like that. No more shaking, no more sounds, just the quiet stillness that we had forever taken for granted. Then the phone rang...people checking in on us...then I made calls checking in on others. Thankfully everyone was safe...just a little shaken. (sorry for the pun, it was irresistible)
As the conversations throughout the remainder of the day were centered around the earthquake I reminded my girls that yes, God is in control. I explained how earthquakes happen so they would understand what makes the earth shake all the way from Canada to Georgia. (I feel a homeschool science lesson coming on) God is powerful and mighty and sovereign. Then I remembered the story from Acts 16 when Paul and Silas were imprisoned yet they were singing hymns of praise to God. The other prisoners were listening to them praise God even though sharing about Him is what landed them in jail. Then an earthquake happened...well here, read the passage from Acts 16....
Paul and Silas Imprisoned
22 The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their [j]robes off them and proceeded to order [k]them to be beaten with rods. 23 When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; 24 [l]and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the [m]stocks.
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
The Jailer Converted
31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of [n]the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34 And he brought them into his house and set [o]food before them, and rejoiced [p]greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.

It's amazing how God used that earthquake. I wonder how it felt to them, how it sounded. What they thought. After looking up that passage I looked for other occasions when, in the Bible, other earthquakes happened. Matthew 27:50-54...When Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom and the earth shook and rocks split. Matthew 28:1-7 When Jesus rose from the dead three days later an earthquake happened and an angel of the Lord came down from Heaven, rolled away the stone from the tomb.
So, as I think again about the earthquake I realize just how small I am. How, no matter how much I try to have control over my life, my circumstances, our daily lives, I really have no control at all. I am reminded that I was created to glorify God, to obey God, and to do what He commands. Not out of fear, but out of love and respect and awe. He is an awesome God, powerful and sovereign, full of grace and mercy.
Safely His, xoANG

Monday, August 22, 2011

those aren't jr. mints...and other observations

Having been a homeowner for the past six years I, mistakenly, thought I had learned a lot. Sure, I can unclog a drain, tighten a doorknob, paint a wall, and even manage to grow some veggies in a tiny urban garden. But now, in our new abode, I am learning something new about being a homeowner every day. And being a homeowner with almost an acre is so fabulous and overwhelming all at the same time. It's a huge adjustment, one I've been craving mind you, to go from 1/10th of an acre to nearly an acre. There's a lot of grass to cut. There are a lot of bushes to trim, there are a lot of weeds to pull. And next year when we have our first spring in this house I am sure, or at least I'm hoping, there will be many flowers popping up everywhere. But now, right now, this wonderful summer, we are enjoying the many mornings and evenings when we can gather around the dining room window or the family room door and watch in awe as a family of deer enjoy the coolness of the shade in our back yard. First we saw a single fawn, then another...twin fawns I believe.
I could not resist taking pictures but I needed to get closer. I slowly and very quietly walked through our back yard with camera at the ready and my own two little ones right beside me. The fawns noticed us but didn't run. In fact, when the second fawn saw us from behind the butterfly bush he made his way closer to us. It seemed as though he was just as interested in us as we were in him. I got a few great shots then we slowly made our way back to the patio. Soon after we were safely away a doe made her way into the yard. They enjoyed munching on the grass and the fallen pears from our tree. Then to our surprise a buck came out of the woods and joined them. Oh, what a sight to see! They grazed happily together checking on our location periodically.
The fawns stayed close together the whole time while the adults meandered into the neighbors yard. Then the fawns took off running toward the back of our yard. Their little while tails were not up in fear, they were running for fun. Then I saw her. Another doe. Their mom.
They ran to her and she nudged them with her nose then they both stood and nursed at the same time. It was really quite amazing. The five deer continued to enjoy the early evening shade...then in an instant they were gone. They ran straight for the woods. Hmmmm...the other neighbor let her dog outside and they didn't want to have anything to do with him.
We have even discovered a visiting groundhog. He's quite large...probably from the pears he's been eating. It is fun to watch him hold a pear with his little hands paws front feet and eat it like corn on the cob. We did notice him find an opening in our neighbors garden fence. Oh, he's a sneaky one.
So yes, this summer we have been enjoying the wildlife that has made our back yard their evening haven. And yes, when we make our way around the yard we need to be careful where we step because once you get close to the pear tree...well, let's just say, those aren't jr. mints on the ground. And although the animals are beautiful and wonderful to observe, I must say that next year when I have a garden of my own and more fruit trees and some berry bushes, I might not be so excited to see our woodland friends every evening. For now though, we'll soak it in, capture it on film, learn about it in books, and love every minute of it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. happy friday xoANG