Archive for November, 2009

Quiet thanks…

November 27, 2009

It is the quiet time after dinner on Thanksgiving Day…it has been dark out for at least 3 hours, maybe 4, a gloomy,  grey day.  John is doing dishes and singing along with the Yorkminster Cathedral Choir,  our favorite band on the CD, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit”, by T. Tertius Noble, a beautiful piece with a tenor solo…I love hearing him sing it…I give quiet thanks for his voice and for him.

It was a quiet day all around for us.  Having been in N.J. three weekends out of the last four, we chose to stay home this time…John and Vicki and kids went to Cousin Mark’s and so were with family.  We wouldn’t have gone today anyway, as we spend all holidays having dinner with John’s mother at Cedar Hill, the only continuing care community (nursing home/assisted living place) I’ve ever been in that I’ve come away not depressed about.   It is a marvelous place, very small, with independent living apartments, assisted living, nursing care unit, and alzheimer unit, owned by two nurses, mother and daughter, who try very hard to include families.  Each holiday they have dinners to which families are invited. They can hold only a limited number of people, since there are no big reception rooms/dining rooms/etc., so tables are set up in the living room, the dining room, the porch…and two people for each resident are welcome…It reminds me of some of the dinners I’ve had in my homes over the years, where we’ve had to set up tables in all the rooms to seat everyone.  It’s a family sort of place.  No matter what time of the day I go there, I’ve never smelled urine or worse, never seen a grouchy attendant, never felt unwelcome.  Mom seems to love it there…I’ve never seen her happier as long as I’ve known her.  I’d rather eat my food, but they try…In the morning, before we went, I fed the animals, of course, and then read some of the current book I’m working my way through…and John did more work on his garden, putting it to bed for the winter, and then did something down at the road, not sure what.  When we got back, he took a nap.  Dinner was a very simple yoghurt for me, having stuffed myself full of turkey at lunchtime.  He had a sandwich made with the whole wheat bread I made on my new Zojirushi (don’t you just LOVE that word!?)  Bread Machine.  It took three tries, but I’ve got it.  The whole wheat bread is great. The white bread is great.  Now, I have to branch out some…

In a little while, we will sit down, and while I knit mittens to later felt in the washer, we’ll watch a couple of episodes of “Larkrising to Candleford.”

And all the while, today, I have been thinking quietly about all the things I’m thankful for, without getting maudlin or overly sentimental.  Silly things, like Stonyfield Yoghurt.  Serious things like a call from my sister.  Like the sheep.  Like Lizzie, even with her willfulness… More silly things like Netflix, which enables us to watch DVD’s of worth.  More serious things:  the ability to knit and spin and quilt and sew…My kids and grandkids…so many people who’ve been a blessing to me…this lovely farm, this beautiful state of Vermont and the courage we had to pack up and come here…books to read, our health, the list goes on and on and on and on…

This past week or two, I’ve had another letter from a former student, and a first letter from another former student. (These two people were in a sixth grade class I taught in 1966-67 school year!  Vee Lynn found me on the internet, and told Greg about me…)  AND, we had a surprise package…a box of citrus fruit from another former student, whom I taught in fifth grade in 1967-68 school year  who found me a few years ago.  And an electronic Thanksgiving card from yet another of those fifth graders, who has been in touch with me and I with her since then.  Her family were our babysitters (There were 9 of them and at least five of them, in turn, coped with our kids while we went out and they were young.)  It is very gratifying to be in communication with these wonderful folks, kind of completing a circle in a way…And Tuesday, I will have lunch with a former seminarian, another student from much later, the early 90′s…who has become a good friend.

Life is good.  Thanks be to God.

It’s been a while…busy, busy times…

November 20, 2009

It feels like forever since I’ve recorded anything at all on this blog or in any other way…

In the last month, we’ve taken 3 trips to N.J., which is a lot, at 6-7 hours per trip!  First for the closing of my church,  second for the baptism of my sister’s son and daughter in law’s twin boys, born in August, and just last weekend to our son’s for his and Vicki’s 10th wedding anniversary party, which was a doozy…we went to bed at 11 p.m., discovering in the morning that they were up until around 3, kids and all…having lit a bonfire in their back yard at 1:30, and given the kids sparklers to play with…their neighbors must just LOVE them.  We went from there to friends’ house in Pa., stopping on the way at Peddler’s Village, which has changed drastically since I was there 15 years ago…it used to have a lot of upscale shops with nice clothing and furniture and accessories in it…Now, it seems full of shops with stuff for people with too much money to know what to do with to buy, collections of things, like those ugly choir singers I can’t stand…a bunch of about 8″ high people, singing out.  In the old days it was choristers from a choir.  Now it’s people in all sorts of outfits from all sorts of walks of life, also singing out.  Surely, with children starving around the globe, there are better ways to spend one’s excess money!

And speaking of which, I’ve gotten catalogues from both Heifer Project and the Episcopal version of it: offering ways to buy animals, mosquito netting, educational materials, etc., for people all over the world who are in need. These things are designed not to provide meat per se, but to provide, say, a goat or two, or a flock of chickens, which will give smallholders a way to produce food, fleece, and meat, over time.  I try, each year, to purchase something, and encourage people in whatever church I am in, to do the same. At St. Thomas’, Hanover, I had the church school make applesauce breads and sell them after the service (baking them during the service so that people couldn’t resist the mouthwatering smells!) to raise money to buy animals for these needy folks.  At our current church, it doesn’t seem very feasable to do this, but I think I’ll try anyway.  There are only very young children,not able to bake…I’ll have to think of  other ways…it’s a project dear to my heart…which brings to mind the fact that sometime between now and the end of the year, I have to make a quilt (I WANT to make a quilt) for the local fire company auxiliary to raffle off. Last year’s quilt made them almost $600, more than I could afford to give.  Another pet project.  There’s been so much going on that I haven’t had time even to think about quilting.

Tuesday, John left for work, and 2 minutes later, had backed up and beeped: it seemed there was a sheep caught in the fence.  It turned out to be my jacob ram, and he was dead…though I would estimate not very long…I got him out, repaired the fence, and took him to friend, Mark, in Cornish, who uses the pelt, the skull and horns, and either uses the meat himself or gives it to someone who could use it.  This time, since he just recently put three of my sheeps’ meat into his freezer, he was going to give it away.  No waste, I like that.  It sounds tragic, but put it in context! (Occupational hazard: never read a piece of scripture out of context!) The ram had been in with the girls for 23 days, was due to come out on Thursday, and taken to Mark to kill and use anyway.  BUT, as this was an accidental death, I remembered I had farm insurance, called my agency, a very cooperative group of people, and long story short, a check is in the mail.  I am very careful about making claims, for I feel that people abuse their insurance, and make claims for every little thing, sometimes, even, I suspect, lying about the cause of death of an animal to get money from their policy.  All of which makes insurance costs go up, up, up…so I am conservative about making claims.  I’ve claimed three animals in 15 years…several others I could have claimed, but didn’t.  The end result would probably have been that my costs would have gone up very high, making it an unaffordable thing, and we are more comfortable with out homestead being insured.

Thursday, ram-taking-out day, John and I loaded the coopworth ram (after an intricate maze of green gates afforded us a way to move them, and isolate him in a small pen right next to the truck) and headed to Boz’.  Boz is my butcher, who also has a small flock of coopworth ewes.  Since Cicero was my last ram on campus, and I don’t keep the rams with the ewes, it wouldn’t have worked to keep him…plus I’ve used him two years, so Boz will keep him and will butcher a few lambs for me next season for free in trade for the ram.  Next year, I’ll get new rams, either lambs or experienced, mature ones…haven’t quite decided yet.

Four of the turkeys go to the butcher (Joyce, my neighbor) on Monday, and three of them leave Monday night, sold to various folks.  The other four remaining will be butchered shortly thereafter.  So, slowly, I am getting down to the winter animals: 14 theoretically bred ewes and 9 chickens, eight layers and one roo.  Two other roos from this year’s hatch will go to Joyce with the last four turkeys.

I am busily knitting mittens…when I get enough done, I will put them in the washer and felt them. I’ve been trying various kinds of yarn, all of which will hopefully felt.  I will be doing the Cornish Farmers’ Market Christmas market on December 19th.  Yesterday, I got some little Father Christmas needle felted ornaments from Cindy to add to my booth. I’ll also get a couple of woven blankets from Dori.  With my and Sue’s knitted stuff, I should have a good variety of stuff…

It is raining out this morning…it was teeming, but now has settled into a steady light rain, due to stop sometime this afternoon.  It is warm and toasty in the house.  I may just go try a third loaf of whole wheat bread on my new Zojirushi bread machine.  Last week I made white bread, which turned out great.  The two loaves of whole wheat left something to be desired, but the second was better than the first.  Today, I’ll try with a little less flour and hopefully, that will do it.

Before the last trip to N.J., I went to Borders and found a set of CD’s of the works of Jane Austen, read by various women, including Anna Massey, whom I love, and Joanna Lumley, whom I don’t particularly like in movies, and others.  I’ve been listening to one of the CD’s with a short story called “The Watsons”, something I’d never heard of before.  And now, I’m listening to a collection of creative writing “letters” from various people written by Ms. Austen.  I am looking forward to reading the others.  I’ve also gotten a copy of an unfinished manuscript called “Sanditon” AND a version finished in 1975 by “another lady”.  It is not seamless, and the stuff by the other lady is perhaps more dramatic and less everyday, but less clever than Ms. Austen’s bit.  Now, I’ve ordered a new rendition of “Sanditon” finished by yet another author.  I’m eager to read it and see where it leads.  Last night we watched a travelog DVD in which it was mentioned that Jane Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral, which I didn’t know. Perhaps next time we’re in England, we’ll make a pilgrimage…it isn’t far from the Cotswolds, our current destination.

Back to knitting and bread making…


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