Wednesday, October 29, 2008

29-Day Giveaway Wrap-up

I gave away my final thing today to Laurel. It was so big that I combined six days worth of giveaways into one. Before participating in the giveaway, I never would have given this away. This experiment has definitely made me a better person. It's gotten me out of myself and thinking more about others.

I gave her my day and night that was reserved at Ivy Cottage; a place on the Hiwassee River that I rent at least once a year to get away from it all. I had planned on going there tomorrow after spending almost a week in Virginia with four small children. I figured that I'd need it for sure. Strangely enough, I don't feel in the least bit stressed. That's really odd. It must be an answer to prayer.

I've been praying that God would give me a higher tolerance level for noise, as I'm tired of being so worn out too often from being around noise. I hope it lasts.

I know how it feels to be a young mother surrounded by children all the time. You just need to get away from them sometimes and see if you are still in there somewhere. It's nice not to have anyone want or need anything from you; at least for 24 hours.

So Laurel, this is my gift for you; a day for yourself. You'd better enjoy it, because I'll be keeping your three little ya-hoos while you're gone!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We're Here!

This manor house is at Powhatan Plantation resort in Williamsburg, Virginia.  This is the third time we've stayed here.  Once when the children were young, once last year, and now this year.  It's a great place.  It has this authentic house build in 1734 with gardens to meander in.  There's also several pools and plenty of places to walk.  

Inside the house is a harpsichord that I've played on every time we've been here.  All the children did too.  They also got a lecture on how a harpsichord works and how it's different from a piano.  The learning never stops; even on vacation! 

This morning we took a tour of the gardens.  It was really cold.  The two older children went with me.  We learned about the history of the plantation and the gardens.  The two most interesting things was the cannonball stuck in the side of the chimney from a Yankee cannonball and the signatures etched into the brick facade of the house.   The guide said that various owners and visitors would sign the house; it was the colonial form of a guestbook. 

More to come as it happens.  Tomorrow we head to Tennessee.  Ciao!  Or I guess I should say "Fare Thee well".

Thursday, October 23, 2008

100 Push-up Challenge

I'm into week 5 of the 100 push-up challenge.  I signed up at their website and have been following the guidelines.  Initially you take a test to see how many consecutive push-ups you can do.  I did 11 on the first test.  These were straight leg push-ups; not girly ones.  Each week they give you a chart to follow.  You do them for three days each week and rest between.  

I took another test between weeks 4 and 5, and I can now do 66 in a row!  That's a pretty big jump and not too bad for a 52-year-old.  I hope I'll be about to do 100 straight at the end of the 6 weeks.  They say I can.  I think I can.  I guess we'll see in about a week.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ancestors and Anecdotes

I've been corresponding with an umpteenth removed cousin my Daddy knows.  Danny has been in touch several times and has even driven the two-plus hours south to meet with Daddy.  They went together to old home places and Daddy even showed him a mountain named after the Walker family; the family name he's researching.  

  My paternal grandmother was a Walker before marriage.  This is a photo of my great, great grandfather, James Harvey Walker.  He fought on both sides of the Civil War!  Look at those high cheek bones.  I sure didn't inherit them.  Daddy said he heard that when he was young, he was quite the looker.  One uncle says there's Cherokee Indian blood in the family.

I talked to Daddy this afternoon on the phone for a good while.  He's the best storyteller ever.  His sense is timing is instinctive.  One of my most favorite things to do as a child was to sit on the front porch and listen to my Daddy, Grandpa, and uncles talking.  The women weren't nearly as interesting to me.  All they talked about were kids, food, and the neighbors.  The men would talk about politics, religions, and other important things.  Not that the women's talk wasn't important.  It just didn't interest me.

Daddy told me today that his Mama had an uncle, Charlie Morrow, who was a preacher and a bootlegger.  Nobody saw anything strange about that back then.  There was a church up in the  mountains that had a reputation for running off preachers.  Well Uncle Charlie was going to preach there one Sunday.  He walks up to the pulpit and lays his Bible open on it.  At the top of the Bible he lays his pistol.  He said that nobody was going to keep him from preaching there that day, and they didn't.  He stayed at that church for about a year which was a record!  

There's a strange story about finding a lost relative.  Mama and Daddy were up at the Appalachian Museum one day, and Mama sees this man that looks just like her father-in-law.  Mama finally gets up the nerve to go over and talk to him.  She says,  "You wouldn't be a Collins would you?"  Sure enough, he was!  She told him that he looked just like R.M. Collins from Turtletown, Tennessee.  Come to find out, there's a whole bunch of Collinses up in that part of the country.  We have to be kin to them somehow.  I just love stuff like this.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Williamsburg, here we come!

In six days, good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, we head to Williamsburg.  We can't wait!  Laurel has been wanting to plan the trip this week, but I've been holding her off until next.  I still have lesson plans to complete this week.  

She's going to be cooking our suppers, and I'll be taking care of breakfasts.  Lunch will pretty much take care of itself since we'll be in and out.  I do want to eat sometime in a tavern for an authentic colonial meal.

I also hope to make it over to Monticello and Charlottesville.  A few miles west of there is a recreated Irish settlement.  I want to take the children there to show them how their ancestors lived.  I know the little ones won't remember it but the two older ones will.  Darcie and Caed are at the ages where they soak in information like a dry sponge.  I love watching them learn and discover. 

I've been to Monticello twice before but could go there many more times without getting tired of it.  Jefferson was such a brilliant man.  His home and gardens really reflect his personality.  I love that his home was so important to him that he left his marks all over it.  There are things he invented and designed everywhere.  That reminds me; I need to get some books about him for Darcie to read so she'll know what she's seeing!

Field trips are the best way to teach, in my humble opinion.  I know you can't go everywhere you read about.  That's when I bring in the movies and books to make it more real to them.  I love sharing and learning with my family.  God's world is so fabulous and history so interesting that we'll never fully learn it all.  But we're going to try!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Yearn for Ireland

I just finished reading Oh Come Ye Back to Ireland by Niall Williams and Christine Breen.  They were a couple living in Manhattan who got tired of the rat race.  They moved to her grandfather's cottage in Kiltuper, Ireland and settled themselves into rural life.  They cut peat from their own bog for fires, grew a garden, and eventually owned cattle.  They went and stayed.

They talk about the old, traditional ways of Ireland  and how they're slowly being done away with.  This was a fascinating book to me since I've recently learned that several of my ancestors came from the Emerald Isle.  Fortunately, there are four books in this series about their lives in Ireland.  

Yesterday I ordered the other three from  I'm in an Irish phase right now.  It started with a hammered dulcimer concert two weeks ago.  That got me in the mood for reading about Ireland.  I guess the next thing is to actually go there!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Hard Decision Is Made

Here are the two quilts I've been trying to decide between; the one on the left is one made by my mama.  It's made entirely by hand and out of old feedsacks from the 1030's and 40's.  

The one on the right was made by my Grandma Stiles.  It was passed around through my aunts and ended up back with mama.  Why I don't know, but she gave it to Laurel instead of me!  Fortunately, she placed it in my hands to give to Laurel when I was up there on a visit.  Isn't possession 9/10th of the law?  So I've heard. 

I tried bargaining with Laurel, and to her credit, she agreed to swap one of mama's quilts for grandma's.  I have several of mama's quilts, so I gave Laurel her pick.  Unfortunately, she picked my favorite made from feedsacks.  Of course she would!  

So, that's been my quandary up until now.  This morning I've made a decision.  I'm not happy about it, but I realize I'm being greedy and selfish.  I've decided to keep grandma's and let Laurel have the feedsack quilt.  It's prettier then the one I'm keeping, but I'm sentimental beyond all reason.  My grandma is the first person I'm going to look for in heaven; I love her that much.  In another blog for another day, I'll tell you why I love her so much.  

But for now, Laurel, I'll give you THE QUILT this afternoon when you bring the little darlings over for me to keep while you go back home and decide where to put it.  Just do one thing...PLEASE!!!  Put it out of reach of little grubby hands, dog claws, and hamster teeth. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Prayer Request and a Prayer

Look closely at the lower left corner of window.  Do you see a woman's face?  I took this photo the last time we were in  Williamsburg.

Please pray for the family of the surgeon who performed Darcie's appendectomy.  He died this morning leaving a wife and two young daughters.  He was found in a coma by his fishing buddies.  He was put on life support but had no brain activity.  The decision was made to take him off late this morning, and he died shortly thereafter. 

I don't know if he was a Christian or not.  I pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to cover his poor wife and daughters.  He was only in his 30's.  He had a reputation as a very good surgeon.  It seems like such a waste, doesn't it?  

But God has his plans which we know nothing about.  I do know that everything he does is good, so I have to be content with that.

Here's a prayer we prayed in unison yesterday at church:  Heavenly Father, we know that we live in a world that is full of corruption.  Grant us the power to live in this world without being corrupted by it; that we may enter Your kingdom with great joy.  This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your  Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

29 Day Giveaway Challenge

Yeah, puppies, I'm wondering too what I can give away next.  I'm not even half way through the 29 days and I've run out of things to easily give away.  I guess I'll have to go through the closets AGAIN!   Maybe this is when it starts getting fun?  Giving away stuff that isn't so easy?  Coming up with things that I may not want to let go of?  I'm going to have to give this some more  

Friday, October 10, 2008

My House

Yeah!  I uploaded photos from my digital camera onto my computer and posted one of them here to my blog.  Who knew it would be so easy?  Not me! 
Now I'll be able to take photos of my house, gardens, and lands and show ya'll where I live.

These walls are on the landing going up the stairs.  The wall with the window is my landscape wall.  The other one has our family portraits and some miscellaneous personal things such as handprints cast in plaster and my Daddy's reading certificate from grammar school.  

The window is a old leaded glass antique one I found in Savannah.  I don't know where it came from originally.  I really wanted a gothic window there, but my contractor said there wasn't room.  I still think there was enough height for a small one.  I love gothic architecture.  

My style of  house is a Carpenter Gothic from the 1830's.  I want to add more 'gingerbread' to the outside soon.  I was afraid to add too much lest it be too decorative, but I've decided that there's not enough.  I'll take a picture outside tomorrow and show you what I mean.  Until then....


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New Hope

I was very encouraged while reading the Book of Jude this morning.  Here's what it said:  But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.  They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires."  These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instinct and do not have the Spirit.  

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.  Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear-hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!  Amen.

When I read portions of Scripture like that, it puts my worries and cares into proper perspective.  God's Word truly is living and active, isn't it?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Living My Dream

If I could pick the perfect life for myself, this is what it would look like: I'd live close to a small town and about an hour away from a large one. I'd live in a small, quaint cottage with a white picket fence smothered in red roses. I'd have three cats, a dog, and chickens. I'd have a fireplace to cozy up to in cold weather and screen doors to let the cool breeze in when it's warm. I'd have wood floors with no carpet, handmade quilts in the bedrooms, and stacks of books everywhere.

Outside would be cottage gardens and boxwood hedges. A huge woodpile would be close by to heat the fireplace and stove. There's be brick walkways everywhere leading to outdoor rooms and secret gardens. There'd be fields beyond the gardens with large oaks here and there. Underneath the trees would be black and white cattle. A river would run through the fields where the children could splash and catch minnows. There'd be a huge tin-roofed barn where square bales of hay were stacked for cattle feed and childrens' hideouts.

I'd spent my days hanging my laundry on the line, preserving food from our garden, cleaning and scrubbing, teaching my children, cooking everything from scratch, weeding and planting, making our clothes, and being thankful for such a wonderful life.

I'd stay home enough so that going to town is a treat and not a chore. I'd look forward to church on Sunday instead of dreading it as "another trip I have to make somewhere." I'd have young mothers over for tea and inspire them with my knowledge and wisdom about childrearing. We would have other families over for Sunday dinner and linger long around the table until almost time to go to evening worship.

So this would be my ideal life. How close is it to the real thing? Pretty close. Here are the differences: House- My climbing red rose died and hasn't been replaced yet. Everything else is just like I dreamed it would be.

Gardens-I need to work here and there to make it my dream garden. Gardens are so hard, especially in South Georgia, because things keep growing! I get one bed perfectly weeded, but it'll only stay that way for a week or two. My dreams when I laid out the gardens are WAY too high maintenance. I'm looking now to simplify things. But I do have good bones in boxwoods and old brick pathways.

Outside-Our barn is just a pole barn; which means it's open on all four sides. Not my idea of a proper barn, but most farms down here have them. Besides, that's what my husband wanted. Since he let me have my way with the house, I figured he could have his pole barn! It's not very attractive though. There's no hay in it either. I was describing the barn and fields of my childhood. I'm very thankful that at some point in my life I got to play in the hayloft with my cousins. We also don't have any water flowing across our land; also a memory from my childhood. We have fields but no trees in them; just around the edges. And we have no cows, but we can hear our neighbor's mooing and can smell them, a pleasant sensation to me.

My days-I do spend my days doing all the things above that I love only not as much as I'd like. I have to make too many trips to town; about seven a week. I can only think about one of those that I can eliminate right now. They all involve taking Darcie to her various activities and my weekly shopping.

Hospitality-I've gotten out of the habit of having people over on Sunday. I want to have families and young women over. I'll have to do it enough until it becomes easy again.

So the bottom line is.....I pretty much have the kind of life I want. I am very thankful to God for blessing my husband with a good job so I am able to stay home and be a full-time wife, mother, and grandmother. I'm also thankful for having a stubborn will and hard head that enables me to see what I want and then go for it. Our country is so rich, and most people in it live better lives than the rest of the world. I'm truly blessed to have choices.

I guess that's the thing-I chose what kind of house to build and where to build it.   I chose the furnishings.  I chose to stay home and for that to be my only job. I also know that many women don't have choices. I hate that for them. I can't imagine a world where I have no choices, because I've never had to.   And for that, I thank God, really.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Celtic Music

Tonight Darcie and I went to a concert featuring the hammered dulcimer.  I LOVE this instrument.   I bought two CD's; one of Christmas music and the other with Celtic.

Several years ago my Mama built a mountain dulcimer out of a kit.  She never played it much, so I was able to beg long enough for her to give it to me.  I've played it off and on over the years.  It's really simple to play.  Of course you can get fancy with it, and that takes more skill.  I think it'd be the same way with the hammered dulcimer.  I could probably pick it up fairly easy since I already play the piano.

I grew up listening to Bluegrass music.  Of course Bluegrass comes out of the  Celtic tradition.  They are very similar. 

All of my ancestors came from the British Isles.  Names like Jones, Collins, Stiles, Deaver, Walker, Barnes, Moore, and Kilpatrick belong to my progenitors.  I am a huge anglophile.

My question is this:  Do I love Celtic music because it was the music of my forefathers? Is it in my blood?  Is that possible?   I don't love Russian, Polish, or Danish music.  I like lots of different classical music from various countries.  But I simply love Celtic music.  It's haunting melodies move me deeply.  It stirs up something in me that feels centuries deep.  Am I crazy?  Any theories?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day 2 of the 29-Day Giveaway

I took a giant step this morning in my quest to be less selfish.  I gave the very best pancake to my grandson.  I'm somewhat of a pancake connoisseur.  This one was perfect.  It was golden brown and had a high crispy edge all around the top.  

Sounds stupid, I know.  But it was a big step for me!  So, go me!  Day 2 is a success!

My Favorite Things

A List of Things I Love
1.  My rooster crowing in the pre-dawn hour
2.  The way a kitten's fur smells 
3.  Watching a sleeping child
4.  The way a newborn baby smells
5.  My two-year-old grandson looking at me while throwing his arms around my knees and saying, "I wub you, Nana!"
6.  The smell of Bath & Body Works Spiced Pumpkin lotion
7.  Caramel popcorn still hot and sticky from the oven
8.  The smell of white oak wood smoke
9.  A great book, a quilt, and rain
10.  Hugging and kissing
11.  The wide-eyed innocence and acceptance of a child
12.  Fall in Tennessee
13.  Italy
14.  Welsh cakes, scones, and crumpets
15.  A cup of Earl Grey Tea
16.  Staying home
16.  The Psalms
17.  Diana Gabaldon's novels
18.  Stacks of books around the house everywhere
19.  Crawling between flannel sheets on a cold night
20.  Crawling between cotton sheets on a hot night
21.  Cruising the stacks at the library
22.  VW bugs
23.  Raking leaves to jump in
24.  Being in 'The Zone' when photographing something
25.  Mailing off a writing assignment
26.  Getting a writing critique in the mail
27.  Screen doors that shut with a satisfying smack of wood on wood
28.  Sunrise and sunset
29.  The quietness once everyone is in bed
30.  A nightly bath in my clawfooted tub
31.  Yoga
32.  A massage
33.  Getting a handwritten letter in the mail
34.  Old books with beautiful illustrations
35.  The Lake District in England
36.  The Scottish Highlands
37.  Taking in clothes hanging on the line
38.  A strawberry malt from Dairy Queen
39.  Gingerbread biscotti
40.  My family
41.  Celtic and bluegrass music
42.  A good children's choir
43.  The gospel of John
44.  A girls' road trip
45.  English and Italian gardens
46.  Gothic novels
47.  Old dishes
48.  Sea glass
49.  The sounds of the beach and a waterfall
50.  Mountains

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Simple & Plain

This photo was taken of an Amish market in East Tennessee.  the Amish are called Plain People.  I've always admired them and would love to live with an Amish family for a few weeks.  I loved reading the Beverly Lewis series about the Amish people.

Laurel has invited me to participate in the 29-Day Giveaway Challenge.  I accepted.  Everyday you give away something.  This can include words of encouragement or a smile.  I  also want it to include my "stuff".  

I met a woman Tuesday while waiting for Darcie to get through with Youth  Chorale.  She makes bags filled with things for cancer patients.  She also makes lap quilts for nursing home patients.  I told her that I had just cleaned out my fabric and was going to be giving away a trash bag full.  I also have several flannel sheets I'm giving her.  I'm so glad that my fabric will be used for such good causes.

Laurel also said that we had to give away something that we didn't want to give away.  Hmmmmmm...that'll be harder.  I want to do it though.  I'm getting better able to let go of some of my things.  It's a good feeling not to be so tied to earthly possessions.  The older I get the easier it gets.  I'm going to keep a list for the 29 days I participate in this.

So, Day 1...I gave away my time in a meeting I didn't want to attend.  That counts, right?