Time to Rock Orange

Last May when we came to the end of the YOU CHALLENGE, many folks asked for another round later in the year. The YOU CHALLENGE is such a special time of fellowship, encouragement, sharing, and walking together every day. So here we are! It’s time for our Rock-tober Challenge. This one is a little bit different than our spring challenge.

For October, you are challenged to do something THAT IS GOOD FOR YOU, THAT YOU ENJOY for 30 minutes every single day of the month. That’s 31 days.

We’re not just going to welcome autumn, or enjoy autumn, we’re going to ROCK autumn.

Maybe you’ll get up 30 minutes early and do yoga. Or enjoy a special time of prayer or meditation every morning. Perhaps you’ll decide to write every day. Or sketch. Or engage in random acts of kindness. What would you like to do? Give up sugar or salt? Drink more water every day? Eat 5 fruits and veggies every day? Or, of course, walk like we do in May?

What will you do just for you? Maybe you’ll take a bubble bath every evening. Or work on your knitting or some other craft. Paint? Journal? You could add one thing every day to a “to be” list (rather than a “to do” list).

Check this out, you could go outside every day and forest bathe. I like the sound of that! (https://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/2017/09/18/how-forest-bathing-can-improve-your-health-story)

Or visit someone every day. Perhaps you’ll volunteer at the local school or nursing home. Or bake every single day. Maybe you’ll go to your barn to visit your animals. Maybe you’ll start that exercise program you’ve been forgetting to start for 20 years or so. It is up to you!

If you’re not sure what to do for yourself for the 31 days of October, think about it for awhile. Focus on what do you need most right now? Is it quiet time? Calm? Or is it adventure? Or nesting? Or organizing? Or…?

Ask yourself what you need and listen to the answer you give yourself. You are the one who knows what is needed right now in your life. For you heart; for your soul. This autumn.

Share your Rock-tober Challenge! Post what you decide to do in the comments or join our Facebook group and post it there.

I’ve definitely been looking forward to the coming of October. It’s one of my favorite months of the whole year (even before this YOU Challenge, which is surely going to take it over the top!) October means leaves of yellow and orange and red. It’s pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. My coffee was pumpkin spice this morning and so was my toast. Even my dog’s treats are pumpkin flavored.

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October is cool nights and sweaters. Hay bales and pumpkins. Chilly air and the first fire of the season. I love that wood smoke aroma of a fire burning.

I am told we have already had one frost, though I can neither confirm nor deny the veracity of that frosty fact. I missed it if it was here.

It’s only just beginning, but autumn so far has been fabulous.

I went out to the corn field and cut down some corn stalks to make some fall decorations.IMG_5143

I drove Elvis the Blue out there. Good ole reliable Elvis the Blue. Rusty, raggedy, road hard and put up wet Elvis the Blue. My 1989 Nissan that I’ve had since 1991.

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I don’t really know how to do it, form those cute corn stalk cones. I’ve admired them from afar in other folks’ yards. I bet I can get the details on Pinterest. Maybe just tie some twine around the stalks?

Speaking of Elvis the Blue, I got him a new bumper sticker the other day.

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Can’t wait to add it to his others.

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Elvis also has some signs on the interior. The door handle has broken off, so I have to remind myself (and others) not to roll up the window. The sign has gotten a bit wet through-out the years, but is still hanging on.

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I bought some punkins at the grocery store. And an interesting HUGE squash at a roadside stand. That’s Oreo, the dog, being nosy, as always.

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Fall is also the time to harvest black walnuts. I’ve seen many people under their trees, picking up nuts. I’ve got to get out in our black walnut grove to see if we have any this year. Most years, the worms beat me to them. If I can find enough, I’ll bake a black walnut pound cake.

I’m actually not even sure which ones I harvest. I have black walnuts in the yard that look like this (good thing I didn’t see that little dude when I leaned so close to snap this photo. I don’t enjoy spiders…I don’t kill them, but they freak me out a little…)

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and like this

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(And for a public service announcement, keep your horses away from black walnut trees. They are toxic to horses. I had one cut one down in my pasture when I learned about this. Horses are so sensitive.)

I also walked by a tree in a park (not on my property, sadly) and saw this nut

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Anybody know what that is?

It’s a chestnut!

And BIG NEWS. My parents came to visit us! It is so nice to have them here. I really want them to move here, but so far, it’s no go. We enjoy them so much.

My father gave me another lesson on the 1951 Chevy truck. He’s taught me many times before how to drive it, but it never sticks. (What is that saying? Old dogs, new tricks?) I get nervous and don’t want to pull out of the driveway. So when my Dad comes, he always helps me. My father taught his three kiddos how to drive when we were teenagers. He has the patience of Job. Perfect teacher.

This truck was my grandfather’s, then my father’s, now mine. A friend who was working the day my father took me out in the truck talked about how monumental it was. “Your father is teaching you to drive ‘three on a tree’ in his father‘s truck. In-cre-di-ble!” It really is. In this part of the country they call it “three-on-a-tree” when there are 3 gears on the steering wheel. We hadn’t heard that term before. In Georgia we just called it “hard.”

Now, I can drive a stick, no problem. I learned to drive a stick shift years ago in Atlanta traffic. Crowded, busy roads where you’d back up lots of traffic if you stalled. Where people would shoot you a bird and cuss you if you blocked traffic or couldn’t get going quickly enough again after stopping for a red-light. I don’t have that pressure. These are country roads filled with nice neighbors. But. The “three-on-a-tree” freaks me out a little. Or maybe it’s the old dog thing.

So my Dad pulled it out into the street and gave me a lesson before I took the wheel.

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I tooled around the country roads a bit and then when I was trying to down-shift going up a hill, the truck stalled. I gave my father the wheel again, but he couldn’t get it running. So he rolled it off the road.

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In no time at all, a neighbor happened by and stopped to help. That’s the place where I live now. I could be on the side of the road for hours in Atlanta and no one would stop. But here? Five minutes and we’ve got help. He and my father worked on the truck to get it going. It was out of gas! (Which is funny because we were headed to the gas station. That’s my farm in the background.) The filter was full of gunk because the gas I had in there was so old. Like 3 years old. So we got some fresh gas and got the truck going again. And we took it out again the next day with no problems. I think I’m ready to go it alone???

I took this photo when I was behind my Dad’s truck in another car. That’s my farm on the right. The shiny thing is the roof on Merlin’s barn.

IMG_5100 Another thing I enjoy about autumn in this sweet community is the ATV rides. This past Saturday we went on a community ATV ride that the local church leads. Here I am about to head out. All autumn’d up with my sweater poncho and my favorite hat.

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It was fantastic. We went through woods and up mountains and down rocky roads. We ate a picnic together. I loved every second of it.

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We had to turn around because a tree had come down and blocked our path.

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Here’s a group shot one of the riders took. This group of people are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

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And then I went for an autumn walk on my farm. I love this particular combination of colors. I need to do a room in them. Golden yellow and purplish blue.

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When I haven’t walked down this path in a while, it’s always covered in webs. So I pick a flower and let it catch the webs and spiders instead of my face. This flower leads the way.

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Here are  my woods, with the sun shining through.

 

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And here is the old chimney stack from a one room cabin that fell down long ago. I keep thinking about what I’m going to do with this….

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We interrupt this blog post about autumn to show you my autumn barn cat in my autumn plaid chair. This barn cat now spends 23 and 1/2 hours in my house, 0 hours in the barn. He loves lounging in chairs, sleeping in my bed, snuggling with us on the sofa. As you can see, he has a hard time relaxing. Jude is not. a. barn. cat.

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Another thing that happens on crisp fall mornings is that my farm is covered in cob webs wet from the dew. It looks so magical.

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Merlin says he can’t wait until cooler weather when the flies GO. AWAY.

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I love him.

Have I ever mentioned that before? haha

I also have an addition to my farm.

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A swing! Our friend made it for us out of an old stair thread. How cool.

Okay, so now it’s time for me to pick the thing that I’m going to do for myself for 30 minutes every day in October. 31 days in a row starting this Sunday. I’m leaning towards a gentle yoga session every morning. But I might decide to do a nature sketchbook. Or wouldn’t it be cool to write a poem every day? Or even just swing in this swing and SWANG. Or write a chapter in the booklet I’m working on about the history of our little farming community.

What’ll it be? What’ll be? What’ll be?

Myself tells me that the answer is yoga. Yoga it is!

What’ll it be for you? What’s your answer?

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!
Lots of love, The City Farmgirl with hay in her hair, Rebekah Continue reading

I Wander, I Wonder

Texas, our hearts and minds and prayers are on you…we are with you and for you.

If my math is correct (and it may or may not be, quite frankly), I’ll be in 49th grade this year. (I entered 12th grade in fall 1980, so…)

Anyway, I haven’t received a syllabus yet, so I guess I have to write my own at this point. Let’s see. What exactly should one learn in the 49th grade? Continue reading

Provence and Paris

“Hey! How do you spell the JOE-ER in bon-joe-er?”

I was shopping in a boutique in a small village in the South of France when I heard a deep voice with a VERY southern accent ask this question. I smiled when I heard his accent. I was happy to hear any English at all, but southern English–my English? Woohoo! Where door is pronounced dough-er. And bonjour is pronounced bon-joe-er. My people! Continue reading

“I Ain’t Never”

“Paris is always a good idea.”

Sabrina

(from the movie by the same name. which, by the way, I ain’t never seen.)

You know what they say here in the Appalachian Mountains: “I ain’t never.” Now, try as I might to convince folks that a double negative actually means a positive, I have at last given up and joined in. (If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.)

So, my own personal “I ain’t never” is this: “I ain’t never went nowhere.” Oh, I should mention the verb issue here too. People say “I seen” instead of “I saw.” “You was” instead of “you were.” I understand that this way of speaking is a hold-over from the Irish and British settlers here.

In any event, back to my world travelling. Why it ain’t?

Je ne sais pas. (I don’t know.)

Too busy, I guess. Not a priority, I imagine. Too cheap, probably.

Well, it’s time for a cool change.

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Lessons and Tales: First Camping Trip of the Year

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Now that I’ve camped a few times, I thought I had figured it all out–that I was an expert. HAHAHAHAHA. Not so. My first trip of 2017 taught me many things.

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Time for YOU! (A Challenge)

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

John Muir

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure some of them are just for YOU.”

Me

It’s almost time to get your MAY BLISS on!

In a few short days, on May 1st, the 4th Annual YOU Challenge will begin! And for 31 days, you’re going to do something just for YOU, YOURSELF, AND YOU!

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The 5 Secrets of Long Life

You just don’t know when big things are going to come from seemingly inconsequential things. There I was shopping at “The Great Wall” when I learned the 5 Secrets of Long Life. Who would have thought?!

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What’s NOT to love about a Feed and Seed Store?

It’s Monday morning and I will spend the day at my computer. I have work of every variety to take care of today: blog, legal, business, school, farm. I’m feeling a little drained right now, having a hard time getting started. Do I even have anything to write about today that any one would want to read??? My creativity has been on the low side lately. But I’ve got a cup of coffee, a bowl of yogurt and granola, and a cat in my lap, so I guess I’m ready to roll.

Here’s the cat that’s visiting my lap at the moment, Jude. Funny cat likes to stretch out his front legs. I’m always finding him in this odd position. I’ve never had a cat that likes to stretch out like that.

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My husband walks by and says, “What in the world are you putting on there?”

“What? What do you mean? It’s a photo of Jude.”

He puts on his glasses, looks again, and starts laughing. “It looked like someone’s legs in white shoes and white underwear.” He’s still laughing. I’m like, what are you talking about?

And then he shows me.

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Ha Ha Ha! It does, doesn’t it!

Anyway, I think since I recovered from not being able to get out and about, all I want to do is get out. My mind is not focused on writing or this computer. At the moment, I’m not only thinking about how my cat’s markings look like tidy-white-y’s and white socks, but now I’m thinking about going to see the horses in the barn, plowing the garden, building a pavilion, taking a hike by the mountain stream, visiting with neighbors, feeding the chickens…Oh, the chickens!

I was supposed to run to the local feed and seed store this morning after I dropped my daughter off at school to pick up some chicken feed! I forgot! I love to go to that farm store when I’m not in a hurry. And. Just. Visit. Um. Hmmm. You want to go now? Okay!

What high fashion should I rock today? Yeah, sure, I think you’re right. My warm flannel-lined camouflage work pants and pink plaid flannel shirt. And my barn work shoes. Perfect!

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Stylin’!

My feed and seed store is jam-packed with everything you could possibly need or want for farm living. It is situated way out in the country, with a yard full of pipes and drains and metal storage buildings full of water heaters and wood stove inserts and everything else.

We’ve arrived!

Here’s one of the metal storage buildings I mentioned. Look at all those wooden barrels!

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This is outside where you park, before you walk in. Do you need a lime green manure rake? Or an orange one? I sure do!

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Here we are right inside the front door.

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Snow sleds and shovels! We haven’t had much need of these this winter.

There are probably five aisles with this type of stuff, hardware, plumbing, electric, whatever else.

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And what about these awesome metal funnels? This is a store where everything’s not made of plastic. I love that!

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Ah….Be still my heart, the garden section!

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Overalls, pots, rubber boots!

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And this! When’s the last time you saw a mess kit for sale? I love this store!

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And check out these bottles and pottery.

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Yee! They’ve gotten in some seeds already!

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I don’t know…what do you think? Should I???? Grow Snake Gourds?

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My favorite chicken water-er ever is there on the left. I have two. Got them from here!

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Check out this shelf. It has it all. I direct your attention to the right upper shelf, a certain popcorn popper. That will be relevant shortly.

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And I always see stuff like this that I have no idea what it is.

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The people here are unbelievable. Friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, nice. There’s always a crowd and lots of chit-chat. This morning, folks are talking about one of their favorite subjects, the weather. This winter has been incredibly mild. We had a couple of snows, but none were deep. And the temperature always warmed back up the next day and melted the snow. I still have a barn full of hay because the pastures have stayed green. That is very unusual for this area. Usually, by now, we’re all asking around to see who has extra hay left in case we run out.

The consensus here is that winter is still coming. “We’ve had our biggest snows in March,” an older gentleman says. “Remember ’93?” And they talk about a big snow they had in late March that year. It sounds like a doozy; one I’d love to experience myself! I tell them about the year we had “Snow Jam” in Atlanta when we all got stuck in our cars and what ensued was a big party. Big. Party. Big, gigantic party. I think it was ’82?

Another conversation started up when a man I don’t know walked in and started talking about hunting on Sunday. This is a big deal to the hunters. Local officials were considering banning Sunday hunting. When I grew up in the South, you couldn’t do anything on Sunday. Well, except go to church. Most of those laws have been changed. But recently, the issue of a ban on hunting on Sunday arose in our community. It was not well received. There is a great deal of hunting around here. During deer season, we hear gun shots frequently. Being an animal lover, it used to bother me. Not so much anymore. I’ve come to understand that people enjoy deer meat, that deer meat is incredibly natural and organic, not filled with steroids and antibiotics of farmed meat. And, the animals live a wild, wonderful life until the end, unlike our farmed animals who spend time in feedlots and are stressed before they die. Hunters around here also hunt for hungry people, sharing their meat. I have also come to understand that our lands would be overrun with deer if it were not for hunters; there would be more car accidents involving them. So, four years when we moved here I might have said, “Oh, poor precious beautiful deer. I hate to hear the shots: constant reminders that another lovely animal has been killed. Yes, ban hunting on Sunday.” Now, I just smile and listen.

One man talks about a huge deer he shot and processed. He found an old bullet in him—it wasn’t his bullet, it was someone else’s. He pulled the old bullet out of his pocket and showed us. (The story sounded familiar, I think I’ve heard it somewhere before.) Anyway, it’s a big discussion, about how this deer was shot at some point and lived with a bullet inside him. There was a lot of talk about this bullet and this deer. Hypotheses galore made for pure entertainment.

No one is in a hurry here.

I mention my problems with mice in my chicken house. The woman who owns the store shows me just what I need. A mouse poison holder that the chickens can’t get inside. Yes, that is just what I need. I hate the idea of poisoning mice, but I have become overrun. And I don’t think it is healthy for my chickens. I buy the poison I need and the poison holder.

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And then she had another idea, “Put some water in a 5 gallon bucket and put it in there at night. You’ll have a bucket full of drowned mice in the morning.” Really? Okay, I’m trying that!

What about the snakes living in the walls? A man offered, “Get rid of the mice and you’ll get rid of the snakes.”

I’m down for that. I can’t even imagine a chicken house without mice and snakes. The stuff that dreams are made of!

Speaking of chickens.

In sad news, one of my chickens has died. Polly, the Polish. She had so many feathers on her head that she couldn’t see. She’ll fly down from her roost right into me. It’s never easy. My husband was out of town when I found her. She died during the night. I located a pretty pink shoe box and wrapped her up in a kitchen towel that had Pooh Bear on it. I dug the hole as deep as I could and provided her with a private burial ceremony. It was just me and her. Her friends were close-by though. My chicken cemetery is under the old apple tree beside the chicken run. So the rooster and other hens saw and heard the whole thing.

And now, my lullaby song changed. I don’t count to 14 anymore when I put up the chickens, just 13. We came in late from a concert Saturday night and I went in to sing to them. I had forgotten. I looked all over for number 14 until I remembered. I’ll have to get used to the new number.

RIP

Polly the Polish Hen

April 2013 – February 2017

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Now I’ll share my drive back home with you. I drive by some fantastic old buildings. I am told this one was a cheese factory.

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And this one was built during the Civil War era.

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The road I drive down has several areas that you just feel like you are driving through a junk yard.

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I like old, junky cars as much as the next guy, but I don’t like them right on the side of the road. These folks keep theirs on both sides of the road, not sure why.

Here’s a nice old barn and old building. One reason I like this drive is because it takes you back in time.

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A sweet, simple, clapboard church.

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I see how long this post is and laugh. I sure had a lot to say for someone who had nothing to say at the beginning!

Do you have a favorite local feed and seed, country, or farm store? Tell us about it!

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of love, The City Farmgirl in the Country, Rebekah

PS I should show you where I decided to write once I got home from the farm store. My word for 2017 is “outside.” I didn’t pick it; it picked me. Sooooooo. I popped some popcorn—(remember that box I pointed out to you on the shelf? That popper is terrific. I used to eat those little bags of microwave popcorn, but they have a lot of gunk in the ingredients. This pops kernels pure and plain. My favorite snack these days.)—, put on the kettle for tea, and built a campfire in the yard.

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My senses are alive out here. I hear birdsong in the black walnut trees, I hear frogs chirping like ducks in the pond, I hear crows cawing and yapping close-by,

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I hear the mournful wail of a cow, a mother or a baby? I hear a woodpecker in the distance, and the gentle roar of a tractor somewhere in this farming valley. I also hear the heater running on this side of my old farmhouse.

I smell the aroma of wood smoke and I do indeed smell the bite of cold winter air in the breeze. (yay! fingers crossed.)

I see beauty all around me. I see my old wash house that I turned into my office.

IMG_3493I see my dog, Strudel, wagging her tail and being her usual chipper self.

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I see the green shoots of day lilies just emerging from the earth.

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I see the steeple of the local church. It’s Monday morning and their parking lot has plenty of cars. I wonder why there are gathering this morning? I see black cows on a green hilly pasture in the distance.

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I see Christmas trees to be harvested in future years and Christmas tree stumps from this past Christmas.

I see Mr. Mustache inside my window. FullSizeRender (41)

He is SO not a feral cat any more!

I’m trying to recall all five of my senses, hear, see, smell. Oh, taste! How could I foget taste??? I taste the citrusy flavor of my cup of Matcha green tea and the earthy flavor of plain, air-popped popcorn. I hope to taste a piece of my Valentine’s Day chocolate in a little while. :)

And feel. Yes, feel. Touch. I’m not wearing gloves, so I can type on the computer, so my fingers feel very cold and so does my face, especially my nose. I hold my hands up to the campfire and feel the warmth. I guess I need to go inside and get a hat and maybe some gloves since I’m at the end of this blog post… Continue reading

The Winter That Wasn’t

“Nope, we’re not going to have a winter this year,” the young guy said as he loaded bags of sand into the back of my car. The sand is for my chicken run. I’m sure the guy was just making conversation and had no idea I’d take his comment so personally.

“What?!” I replied, “Winter is soooo coming! It’s only January! Just you wait.”

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Just. Stop.

News flash!

Christmas is not a competition…

Of how decorated your house is.

Of how perfectly perfect your gifts are.

Of how busy your days and nights are.

Of how much baking you do.

Of how many homemade gifts you can crank out.

Of how beautiful your family is (or appears to be).

Let’s all. Just. Stop.

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