Potpourri, Pickles & Pearls

Summer is when bees are as busy as bees get and this summer has been a busy-bee summer for me. Question: How come I seem to be busier now than when I was younger? I thought slowing down a little is what us “vintage” farmgirls get to do. Turning 50 a few years back was a wake-up call. I was suddenly aware that my age was no longer just a number. If you’re 40 or younger and want to see what lies beyond…well, I’m on the trail ahead of you and I found some cowgirl “pearls of wisdom” to share.

Getting older doesn’t sneak up on a person, but you can feel like that is what happens if you’re in denial. I wouldn’t look at or own being middle-aged and then one day I was 50! Being a ‘coffee’ brunette was a fib I purchased for 20+ years. The golden years for me came early in the way of silver hair at age 35…but I was NOT going to surrender to gray. A little over a year ago, the time had come to talk turkey with the woman in the mirror. She’s an uncompromising truth-teller. Several things she was telling me became one crystal clear point: No longer would she be denied some of the perks of getting older. Perks? There are perks in the late afternoon of life? Justifying naps is not a perk. So what are they?

Well, for one thing, you get to go back and grow up all over again…and it is better the 2nd time. There is a quickening, a revival of sorts. This is true if you want to get happy and go forward that way. Here is where this applies to those of you who may not relate to this article as easily as others in my own age bracket. It is better to start early so that you’re really good at it before you get “here”. What does growing up again look and feel like? The above image is an example. I no longer look at what I like or what I ought to become from a distance. I don’t have that kind of distance to work with anymore. No longer do I hold my dreams close at bay. I wasted far too much time waiting. I love old things that exude a quaint and charming feeling – the print above is late 1800s, the glass and frame are original and I love the pastoral scene of a boy and his sister bringing the milk cows and sheep home. This piece isn’t trendy or fashionable. It just tickles my fancy and I bought it! For some reason, I struggled most of my life to muster the courage to be 100% Me all of the time…keeping my feet firmly there. Getting older brought me to the door I needed to pass through. If only I’d realized sooner that the perks of getting older could be this interesting…and fun.

What has this thread on aging got to do with “potpourri, pickles & pearls”? Everything…everything. The content within our years gets more concentrated at this end. I think that ideally we’re supposed to become more of what and who we really are…and better at it than we were earlier on. We ought’a do more and more of the things that we really ought’a be doing. Capice? And so, it stands to reason that if this is true…a more vibrant and pleasant fragrance lingers when we leave the room. Rather than being a 5 on the you meter, be a 10. Truth be known, this new found emphasis on “self” turns out to be much more about others since the giving part of you also becomes more concentrated.

Making new friends should happen to us throughout our lives. We’re in danger of becoming “root bound” if we don’t. Newly discovered friends are gifts from above and over the last couple of years, the good Lord provided a nice little shower of them for me. The “farmgirl” sisterhood figured into how it played out. MaryJane was a glittering spark in my own “quickening”. I so needed a spark…to sparkle. I needed a new spark for my old campfire. Some of the other sparks have names too. First came Anita, then Lisa, then Jennie, then Michele.

Michele. She’s 35, I’m 54. We’re buddies. How can that be? I could be her mother. But, we’re really not years apart…we fit together like peas & carrots. We like so many of the same things. We understand each other and delight is the result. I can’t say what I do for her, but I can tell you what she’s done for me. I don’t feel young again, I feel joy. I have a friend who woke up a free spirited farmgirl who had slipped down into a sort of resignation funk. (I must say here that this is the special and unique ability of friends…apart from family and spouses.) The other day, Michele and I went on a cruisin’ field trip in her open-top Land Cruiser. WooHoooo! We drove on the old highway routes through the nearby Black Hills (see both photo collages above). It was heavenly…the wind in my hair, fresh air, warm sunshine…and my diamond of a friend giving me the gift of an incredible day. We stopped along the way so that she could show me her favorite scenic spots and other places she says we’ll need to revisit in the fall. I was thrilled to learn of another wonderful trait in my new friend: she loves to linger…and “take it all in”. So do I! We then “did” lunch and went “antique-ing”. I bought a large cupboard for the mudroom/porch we’re building. I’ve longed for such a wonderful piece of antique furniture for so many years. I feel revved up, newly inspired. I recently found a vintage fan…cleaned it up and placed it on my Hoosier-desk. My landscape “oasis” project and “junk garden” that I created this past spring is all apart of this growing up again theme. Hmm, maybe it is more like growing fresh, new leaves. Yes, that is more fitting.

Have you ever surrendered favorite old things and not just old things…but old interests? I gave up gardening several years ago when we homesteaded here and the climate + landscape appeared to be tougher than I was. That was then, this is now. I’ll no longer be denied. Pickles and Dilly Beans are on today’s To-Do list. There’s also thirteen pounds of Nanking cherries in the freezer waiting to turn into pretty red jelly. Lots of jars of canned goods will make their home in my new “old” cubby when she gets here. BY THE WAY, lest you think I am a wellspring of energy…I am not. I’ve been on Synthroid since I was 18 (low active thyroid). Energy is something I’ve never had an abundance of. But, I’ve always had a lot of want-to. So, I try to make things happen the way I can do it and I keep my eye on the target. Being a finisher can happen in pieces. Naps aren’t a new thing for me…I’ve just accepted them with greater ease. Now they’re POWER naps instead of looking at sleep downtime as if I’m an energy dud.

Blue… “splattery” blue enamelware to be specific. Totally twitterpated over it. I’m not a high-dollar collector though. I’ve liberated several pieces from old homestead sites. Trivial little stuff isn’t trivial if it helps you smile from the inside out.

Potpourri? I’ll call it a symbol of the things we hold onto throughout our lives… “little” things we cherish. I’ve made potpourri for many, many years. It lets me bring the outside inside. Each little petal, flower, twig or natural trinket is like a pleasant thought or a memory. I have a large birch bark basket whose sole purpose is to collect my sentimental coffee table “mulch”. Every year or so, I toss out the old stuff and start over with a fresh batch and then add to it over the year…pine cones and flowers from trail rides, roses from my Beloved, orange pomanders from Christmastime…etc etc. There are some things that need to stay in the mainstream of our lives. For me, a love of animals and enjoying the great outdoors are on the top layer of the list.

The “Canada Goose” gander that I raised several years ago returns here with his mate every year. It always feels like a miracle when they show up in the pasture in late March. I feed them bread and grain until things green up. Then, they come to eat less frequently and one day they leave to go wherever they prefer to raise their family and I shan’t see them again until the following spring. This year they rewarded me with a first. They nested nearby. I know that in some parts of the country Canada Geese are seen as a messy nuisance. They were once extinct on the Great Plains – not so now. Every victory for wildlife is hard won.

Every victory in ranching is won by hard work. Haying time means long hours day after day after day. My husband has hauled thousands of tons of hay over the course of his life. Now that I’m older, I also have an enlightened view of work. I’m lucky, no blessed, to feel hardy enough to be able to still put in a good day’s physical work. My health is good and I no longer take it for granted. Now there is a pearl. If you have your health, just about anything is possible and the world really is your oyster. It is not just a cliche`.

Pearls. I was so wrong about pearls. I thought they were plain. Now, I am a pearl junky – I love pearls of all colors and shapes. Pearls are for farmgirls, little girls, old girls, cowgirls, chic city girls, rustic country girls, all girls. Pearls are for bluejeans, business suits and little black dresses. In the feel good movie of the year, Julie & Julia, Julie’s longing for a pearl necklace like the one that Julia Childs always wore, illustrates my point. Pearls are timeless symbols of real worth. And, something more…they’re made by a humble creature with little more than “dirt” to work with. Pearls make you feel special. The shimmery lustre that you see on a pearl is imparted to the wearer. That is why in this girl’s opinion, every girl ought’a have pearls to remind her that she’s a point of light in a world that really needs “pearl girls”…of all ages. MaryJane is a farmstyle pearl girl – here she is below, all gussied up for an evening affair.

Now, a lesson from cast-offs…

The lesson was for me, but I’m sharing it. Ok, so I’m not what I used to be. Here’s the thing: parts of me are better! Not the parts that gravity affects…we’ll leave it at that. I’m talking about the important parts…the inner parts, the soul part. Maybe some of you will be better sooner than I was. Some of you are better to begin with. But, back to the lesson. My old renovated furniture pieces are role models. They were junk. I too felt junky not so very long ago. The above cupboard was covered with years of barn filth, the rocking chair was left in a shed to dry rot and it was wearing cob webs and spatters of bird poo. The harvest table was a ten dollar purchase at an auction. Each piece needed an application of TLC, but first they needed a new attitude and they needed someone to help them feel pretty and purposeful again. That was where I came in…and then the lesson (like Tung oil) sank all the way into my own being.

“To thine own self, be true”…blue. Also, be kind and stay fresh. Nurture in yourself both humility and esteem. Portion the latter out thoughtfully. It will have to last you a long time. The “who you are then” will thank you for thinking ahead. That is the trail I’m riding on now. You see, there’s a little old lady up yonder (I hope) and she’s counting on me to bring her fresh supplies.

  1. Julie Wemken says:

    Shery, I just have to say I LOVE reading your blogs! I can’t tell you how much you speak to my soul. Every time I read your blog it brightens my day and I fill up with joy. Everything you talk about are things that I too love with all my heart, especially your junk treasures. You inspire me to create. I so appreciate your advice on being true to yourself as you age and becoming who you are meant to be. That is exactly where I’ve been in my life too. Thank you so much for sharing a part of yourself with us. Many blessings!

  2. I second that!!!! I don’t even know where to begin….how about here….I love your hair, au natural!!! You look wonderful and I see your soul shining through. Thanks, for all your wonderful words of encouragement, I am cutting this out and hanging it by my computer…..no wait a minute…by my mirror! 😉

  3. Janice K. says:

    Thank you so much for your input! I recently turned 56 and I have been thinking a lot about what I don’t have in my life, instead of what I do. Lots of dark thoughts have popped up since losing my mom in December. Is life all about LOSS? You get the picture…
    I sold mom’s house (next door to mine) and my new neighbors moved in a couple of days ago. Yes, sad to lose your mom as your neighbor, but GREAT to have a wonderful family filling her space with love…
    You have inspired me to build a neat little patio next to my garden shed. I simply love the ongoing decorating. My next project will be a sign: "Within my mother’s garden I have found my own"…
    You are an inspiration and your photography has me ‘oooohing and ahhhhhing’ constantly.

  4. Jane says:

    I turned 50 two weeks ago and this entry really speaks to me. Thank you so much for your ability to convey what I’m thinking and feeling.

  5. Rusty says:

    You are truly a girl after my own heart. I, too, am a little past mid-life (I’ll be 64 next month) but still feel like a teen-ager. I love old antiques, pearls, and words of wisdom such as your articles inspire. Keep up the good work and be a great inspiration to the rest of us "young-uns"…..

    Love ya-

  6. Ann says:

    Amen, sister! Thank you so much for promoting my love of pearls, both kinds. And I still aspire to be more like you when I "grow up". I’m very glad to have you in my life. Hugs.

  7. Reba says:

    What a wonderful post! This has become a way to view life for me as well, reaching 55 years old this summer! My motto is from Goethe: Never let the things that matter the most, be at the mercy of the things that matter the least. I love Life and living in the fullness of it! Thank you for the thought-provoking comments that cause one to really count their blessings!

  8. Claudia says:

    The new me happened 2 years ago when I cut off my red hair to 1/2" and let the silver shine! I feel just like you. I am more me now then I ever have been in my life! Joy is taking a walk at dusk and embracing the sunset, where as I never fully appreciated it before. My friends like yours very from 92 to 20 something. Life is grand! Love it and love to read your blog!

  9. Marilyn Rock says:

    A friend of mine referred me to your Blog and this a great read! You are very wise and I’m going back to re-read your words. You’ve got the secret to life! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Grace~katmom says:

    Oh Shery,
    Ner’ were truer words said! I so agree with you….
    I too am in that "age of wonderment",,,,
    I wonder how I could have squandered my youth away.
    I wonder how many true friends I forgot to take time with.
    I wonder how much money I spent on clothes, cosmetics & hair dye to be ‘young’ & trendy.
    I wonder why I thought being ‘somebody’ was more important then being me, a good wife & mother.
    I wonder how God could be so patient with me.
    Now I wonder,,,will my brownies be too squisshy?
    Will I be on time when I meet up with the girls for coffee?
    Will I get my lavender harvested in time?
    I wonder when I can take my lil trailer out camping again.
    I wonder…why do I care…life is good, I can relax and and enjoy my beautiful daughter & wonderful husband’s love for me, the non-hair dyed, rarely make-up wearing, jeans & boots lovin’ crafty junktiquing mid-life woman that I am.
    Oh Shery, this stage of life is SO Good!
    I wonder how I had no clue life would get here & be a great journey. And the journey continues.

  11. Becky says:

    I love your post. I am 51 and have felt the same way lately. I am in the process of "reinventing" myself which
    really means "to thine own self be true". It is very freeing and I am loving this feeling. I wish I would have learned the lesson earlier too but there is nothing to be done about that … so it is just forward from here on out.

    Thank you so much for writing the way you do. It is truly inspiring.

  12. Cindy says:

    I’m 54 and will reread this post a few more times. I need to absorb so much of it and also the comments. Lately I have been feeling so… I don’t know the exact word I’m looking for but feel kind of like Janice’s comment. Is life all about loss? I had a brain aneurysm fixed (unruptured) in Jan. and although things are great with that, it seems to have sucked all the life out of me. I need to enjoy life’s journey once again.

  13. Terces says:

    WOW and I was so BUSY cleaning up my IN BOX I almost missed this months blog and once again I found myself crying at the mirror you are for me. I turn 60 in a couple weeks and was warmed and encouraged by your sharing of wisdom and what matters. Thanks sister. Love, Terces

  14. Terry says:

    I remember you "allowing" me to peek through your button tin one day. I felt like I was seeing into your treasures of treasures, holy of holys. Mother of "pearl" buttons, metal buttons, bone buttons….

  15. Brenda says:

    I will turn 53 this year and I am also trying to do the things I wanted to in my youth but was afraid or unable because I was raising 3 girls as a single mother. But enough said on that. Instead of sitting on my couch this morning with my coffee watching the news before work, I took my coffee out on the deck with my camera and waited for the deer family I have been seeing in the back yard each morning for a couple of weeks. Today they did not come, maybe because they smelled my coffee. But three times flocks of Canadian geese flew over. It is too early for them to fly south so they must have just been relocating for the day. An older gentleman comes into our office to chat some days and is always buying lottery tickets. He wanted to know what I wanted if he won a few months ago. Told him I want a red jeep so I would not get stuck so often here in the winter. So when I saw you breezing around in the red Land Cruiser it certainly put a smile on my face. I do not own any real pearls but I do have some fake ones that are quite fun to wear!

  16. Melissa Ewing says:

    I am going to be 40 next March. All week I have been thinking about who I am, who I want to be, what I want. I keep coming back to writing, which I’ve always loved, but have been too afraid to complete and submit anything since high school. I want to do it for me, but also so my son (who just turned 1) will see that it is not only possible, but necessary to go after your dreams. Now I just need to be shoved out of my comfort zone and do it. Why do they call them comfort zones when they are actually constricting zones?

    Also, thank you so much for the pictures of the Black Hills (and all your other photos). I lived in the Black Hills for 18 months and miss them everyday.

  17. ruth says:

    Oh Shery! Your life is a beautiful potpourri within which you have found your ‘pearl of great price’. I do believe that pearl is YOU!! You certainly are a gift and an inspiration to the rest of us farmgirls! Blessings to you always!


  18. RanchFarmgirl says:

    If you aren’t the kindest herd of farmgirls! Thank you so much for the incredibly sweet comments. I had to respond…

    Bonnie, I’ll keep you in my prayers for a friend who wants to cut loose and go gadding about! Are there any farmgirls to be had in your neck of the woods? That would be one way to ferret out a good runnin’ pardner :o) What color of graniteware do you collect. I like it all, but limit myself to the blue marble…and red/white. I also have arthritis. Its the pits, but I’m wondering if getting past menopause has helped. I’ve felt better this summer than in 6-7 years.

    I got all choked up reading some of what ya’all wrote today.

    Melissa, You get writing girl. You just never know where your words will lead. It is good for the soul even if no one else sees what you have to say. And, what if you manage to brighten just one person’s day…one time, hey, that is huge. Nothing makes me feel better than to hear from someone that what I might have written makes them feel better…even if it is just a little warm fuzzy. And, you’re so right about constricting zones. It is NOT comfortable to sit and long for something in a secluded corner. I know that firsthand.

    Cindy and Janice, if you come back and read this…I hope that better, sunny days are ahead for you … in every way. That is my prayer for you.

    Grace, I wish I could go with you wherever you head for in your lil house on a bumper. :o)

    It was great to hear from fellow vintage farmgirls. So nice to know we’re not alone in some of our wondersome places in life.

    And, THANK YOU right back at all of you. You are most welcome and please know you fluff me up on the inside like a goose down pillow. Life kinda sits hard on you sometimes and it does a body good when a loving person comes along, even more of a miracle when they don’t even know you and yet take the time to poof you up when you most need it. :o) shery

  19. KimberlyD says:

    Thank you for being the "pearl" of this newsletter. I just turned 44 a few days ago and am at the crossroads of life. Putting the young self behind me and taking my wisdom into my new life. My good friend was 83 yrs old when she passed away and boy what a friend she was, she had great wisdom and did a lot of things in her life. So age don’t matter in friendship. My other friend is 65, and she is a good friend, the type you can tell anything to and know no one else will find out anything you don’t want anyone else to know. Then my other friend is 8 yrs old and she sits with me every Sunday at church and tells me what has happened in her young life, and I enjoy every minute of it. She keeps me "young".
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  20. Lilli says:

    Enjoying your words and thrilling to your photos, such a treat! You have so many gifts of talent. Each time I read one of your posts, I find myself saying inside…"Yes, oh yes indeed!". I am 61 and having the time of my life. Thanks a million for putting it into words!

  21. Tash says:

    I have been struggling with turning 40 later this year, I am an Australian living in South Georgia, a long way from my family and my culture. I live on a farm with horses and cows and a menagerie of other critters. I love reading your blog – you make me feel normal in an unfamiliar society. I have always felt isolated because I didn’t ‘fit in’. Your blog today has reminded me it doesn’t matter! I’m going to keep doing what I do and being who I am because I’m ME!
    Thanks for the boost!
    Cheers Mate!!

    P.S. Pearls look good with everything!

  22. Jan says:

    I love your blog!! I am 64 years young and have just purchased a horse for myself. I grew up with horses and haven’t had one for many, many years! This year I have become much more aware of what I really want out of the rest of my life and what is really important to me. Lots of ‘things’ don’t hold the importance to me like they used to, however the ‘special’ things mean even more now. I really love your pictures and you have such a gift with words. Keep up the good work!
    Many Blessings, and Hugs,
    Jan in Kansas

  23. Debbie says:

    Oh my Shery!

    Truer words were never spoken about the ride to the other side of life… I’m near’n the peak just shy of 49 this November and I have experienced those feelings of time in a bottle over the last few years…sometimes I think I’ll just pop! All those dreams I’ve been holding at bay are bubbling to the surface… I am doin my best to answer each and everyone of them as they remind me of longings of a young woman before I was blessed with a happy marriage and a family. Yep, those old dreams need tending. Some I can easily weed out but I’m not about to let a few of em go a second time around! No sireee!!! They aren’t all about what I haven’t done or didn’t get, although that’s how I used to see it. These days, they have taken on a different look… I wonder now how MY dreams can help other’s too!

    I love your words ALWAYS…your photos ALWAYS… and consider you a blessing in my circle of " new farmgirl friends"…I’m ridin’ up behind you on the trail of life and loving that you’re a part of the journey, this time around!
    You, my friend are an inspiration and a healer of the heart~
    Big farmgirl hug to you!

    Deb( the beachy farmgirl)

  24. carolj says:

    Shery, I am always amazed that your blog can resonate so in my own life. I will be 52 in November, and I agree that this is probably the best time in my life. I am comfortable being a curly-headed, silver siren. I have decided that my home decor only needs to please my family and me. I have learned to say no, remembering that "the need is not necessarily the call." I am learning to hear and obey the "still small voice." Life is wonderful! The more of your blogs I read and the more of your beautiful pictures you share, the more I am understanding that there is a real connection between people that cannot be defined or contained by physical limitations. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Cate says:

    Shery, My dear,
    ditto, You are telling my life.

  26. Nella says:

    I read this blog and all the comments with tears in my eyes. At 54 with lots of care-taking responsibilities and no beloved to share things with, I’ve put so much of my life and dreams on hold. I think my biggest fear is feeling I am alone and won’t be able to make the changes I need to make alone so I stay put. What I see now is how we women are truly so connected with our friendships–we all have our own hardships and gifts to share with each other and we boost each other up along the way. Thank you so much for your words of inspiration. I am making a huge decision at this point in my life and reading your blog and comments helps tremendously.

  27. bobbie calgaro says:

    Dear Sherry,
    Thanks for reminding me to be authentic. I am 57 years old and still forget to be me. I love what I love and should never be concerned that it is not anyone else’s taste but mine and that is a good thing. I wish that you would publish your blogs with pictures in a book. They are precious and true and would make an excellent guide.

  28. Ann says:

    I look forward to your blog every month. It is so inspiring and resonates with me every time. Your photo vignettes are always so beautiful. How do you do it? Did you take photography lessons? I have a wonderful digital camera my late husband gave me several Christmases ago but I still haven’t the knack of using it – one of my retirement goals. Don’t ever worry about age – I will be 63 next month and always have to remind myself of how "old" I am so I will slow down but it’s worth it to keep working in the garden and doing other things. Keep writing your beautiful thoughts and snapping your gorgeous pictures!

  29. Debbie says:

    I had to pop back by to read this post again and found more new comments to enjoy too! I love Ann’s idea of making a book out of this blog..this is funny, but I think I posted this as an idea on the farmgirl connection under BOOKS..Yepper, a book (or individul books) of all the farmgirl bloggers and their wonderful words would be fantastic.. and a big hit too!
    don’t you agree?

  30. Tina F. says:

    Love your post and so neat that you are from Wyoming! I am too, although I live in town. 🙂

  31. Cora Jo says:

    Oh, my friend. Welcome to life as we know it. My husband, John, who is in remission from kidney cancer, said he likes hanging out with our grandson, Nate, cuz Nate still asks questions and listens…unlike the adult kids usually. Well, here we are; full of experiences and tales that need tellin’. You have a gift for the tellin’ part, for certain. Thank you for sharing this private and wonderful part of who you are. And, once again I need to tell you I can’t look at your pictures without becoming Wyoming homesick.
    Cora Jo

  32. Susan says:

    Hi Shery – At age 62 I feel like I’ve got my whole life ahead of me to do whatever I want! It’s a glorious feeling, isn’t it? I’m on the verge of selling a business I started at age 52, I’m moving to a different state and I’m looking forward to starting a new and different business. I’m not sure what it will be, but it’s fun exploring all the possibilities open to me. Thanks for the great blog and beautiful photos. I must ask what kind of camera you use. Blessings to you and yours

  33. Sharon Higgins says:

    Shery, I just came across your blog, and you have made my day. I love the posts and your photos. You are a true inspiration to women. I am 64 years old and feel so blessed. I started finding the real me the last few years. We cannot go back, but run forward. I have my own small home business of making purses & other crafts. I too, love country life, gardening, antiques, fabrics, old lace, pearls, & still enjoy "hanging my clothes in the fresh air", even though it may not be the most popular thing to do. I look forward to reading your blog. Sharon in MO

  34. Theone Innes says:

    Shery, I feel like such such a big baby. I can cry at commercials, country songs, my children’s baby pictures and your blog. Thank-you I guess. Really, I loved it, the pictures and words really connect. Pearls are like lipstick it doesn’t feel right without them. Thank-you Theone in Fall River Mills CA

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