Tuesday, May 26, 2015

summer whirlwind

My agenda for this week: cleaning house
One unusual event: neighbors (yes! we actually have some now!) are coming over for supper Friday
Good news: one of those things I should have said "No" to but didn't was cancelled. :)
Bad news: I'm having neck/shoulder problems again
Garden update: harvested first onions yesterday; chickens (two in particular) are flying over the fence and digging up plants...grr!!
Chicken update: had our first snake of the year in the pen last week; biddies are all feathered and should be ready to mix with the adults by the end of next month
What I'm reading: Counter Culture and Secret Missions of the Civil War
Quilt projects:  hahahaha...whatever I pick up at the moment. There's at least four projects out on my sewing/cutting tables at the moment.

Friday, May 22, 2015

school updates

Last night neighboring property owners attended a meeting about the new elementary school. Construction starts February 2016 and hopefully ends April 2017. If designated year-round, school would start July 2017. If traditional, then it would start August 2017. When will the road be paved? Probably after construction. :/  Here's the sketch of the school (currently being built in Raleigh). Our location would have it flipped the other direction. The large section is three stories, the school should hold 800 students, and there is nowhere on the site plan for mobile units to go. 

This is the property layout. Top left sketch area is the bus parking site which will also connect to the future middle school. Road at the bottom of the page is the driving entrance to the school, and is a few feet from our driveway.

See the dotted line along the bottom of the green (near the bottom of the page)?  That's where our property line is...the shrub/tree line, the edge of our chicken pen, the far fenced area of my garden, etc.  See the little beige spot beside the parking entrance? That's a sidewalk the town of Garner is requesting/requiring and it circles along the back of the school property. So in essence, the public will have a walkway along the far side of our property. So we have definitely required a fence. I'm not crazy about a chain link fence at all, but I do agree with Bobby that there has to be something besides our natural barrier on the property line. If for no other reason, but we need something to keep the chickens on our side of the yard. We may have to add a small section once they finalize the road stuff to keep them from darting out into traffic.

And here's last week status updates on South Garner High School. Since these were taken, they've started on the football stadium, but I've never driven around the block to see the stadium light poles (which I hear have been installed).

The view from Hebron Church Rd. Brick is now going up on the classroom bldg.
And the view of the classroom bldg from Clifford Rd. You can't tell it very well in this shot, but the bottom brick is a deep red, and the four bricked sections going to the top are more of a tan brick.
And the view from my sister in law's house, who lives on Clifford. Their driveway isn't  too far from where the turn lane for the buses will go. I have a feeling they are one of the three houses that will be most impacted by the school. (The other two are located on New Bethel Church Rd.)
And we're hearing more talk of more subdivisions in our area. Things are definitely changing.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

a sand dropper

As a child I was always mesmerized by hour glasses (and always puzzled by how they could measure a minute but were still called hour glasses). Something about watching the sand drop, sometimes rushing through as if it couldn't move fast enough, and others where you felt you could almost count each grain as it dropped. Sounds like life, doesn't it?

Spring time for me means being outdoor more than I normally am. (ie, I actually breathe more outdoor air than feeding the animals, cleaning out the chicken pen, and walking to my car)  There's yardwork, as in cutting grass, trimwork (weedeating, pulling weeds, cleaning the porches and trimming shrubs...all of which I hate and doesn't get done that often), and gardening.

This week I took on a task that needed to be done (and for the record, is still not finished).

I didn't prune the grapevines this winter. And this is what they looked like. And because they had grown up/down so much, it was next to impossible to cut the weeds underneath, resulting in a shrub growing up around one vine and briers growing the midst of another. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly nature and its roughness quickly overtakes whatever is in its path. It truly requires constant vigilance to keep it at bay.  So Tuesday night we started the arduous process of trimming branches from the trunk of the vine and the overhang that would prevent the push mower from mowing underneath. We cut round one trunk and started the overhang on the second side. I spent about an hour (it seemed a lot longer) working again yesterday.  And one row is now completed (the bronze muscadines; the purple will have to wait until Friday):

Meanwhile, our riding lawn mower is in the shop. One of our new neighbors graciously offered yesterday to come and cut our grass for us until it was repaired. Many people offer to do things like that, but I think he's one of those people that would actually do it and not just offer.

So this has been one of my many sand usurpers this week.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. ~ Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)

I think that was one of the first verses I learned as a child. It was one I heard often anyway. Coming from Mom it was usually shortened to "Be kind."  And the crazy thing, I find as an adult it's one of those passages that is so simple but so hard to live out.

That person who always rubs me the wrong way?  Kindness and tenderness would look at their crazy work schedule, their health issues, the family stuff they're facing. Kindness and tenderness wouldn't focus on me and my thoughts about them, but that person and their needs. Kindness and tenderness would listen and not paste on the fake smile.

Forgiving...on behalf of someone else and when it's not deserved. Forgiveness is one thing. It can be a struggle even when someone apologizes and asks for it.  But that's not a condition here.  This forgiveness is extended even when the person isn't seeking it. We certainly didn't do anything to earn Christ's forgiveness, but He still offered it even when we weren't looking for it. And it's because of what Christ did that God forgives us. So when a person says something mean or lets us down or intentionally hurts...we forgive...because we've been on the receiving end of forgiveness.

I find it interesting that this verse comes AFTER verses about our speech and the attitudes that cause our speech. No "corrupt communication", only things that encourage and build others up. Get rid of bitterness and anger and hatred and resentment and bad mouthing others...and then, on top of that, be kind and tender toward others.

My high school Sunday school teacher used to say the older he got the more he realized just how much of a sinner he was. I thought that was the craziest thing I had ever heard. But now? I get it. I so totally get it. The more I live my life, the more I realize how corrupt my thought process and speech can truly be.

And I think that kindness, like health stuff, must be practiced on a regular basis to truly be effective. I can't walk once a month and expect to lose weight or be fit. I can't practice kindness only when it's convenient and then expect it to automatically happen on a tough day.

So that's some of the many stuff that's been rumbling around in my head the last few weeks. Hopefully I'll have time to update on other things tomorrow.

Monday, May 11, 2015


I spent most of the day (6:15am-5:00pm) with Bobby's cousin at various places of Chapel Hill. Imaging Center, breakfast at a really cool place called The Eggs and I, UNC Neurosciences Center, and home. And despite waiting and waiting and waiting for the doctor as you are prone to do at hospitals, I didn't get any reading done, at all. Strangely, I'm actually okay with that.

Bobby's cousin is a little person, a dwarf. He's four feet four inches tall. His wife is even shorter. Being with them makes me realize just how much I take for granted. Something as simple as getting in and out of a car is a huge ordeal for them. Usually I take them to appointments, but I don't go in to the doctor with them. Today they asked me to, which took me by surprise a little. His upcoming surgery, while serious, is not life threatening. To hear his wife tell it, you'd think they were going to be moving parts of his brain. (They will have to remove a small section of his skull.) But I remember when Bobby would have certain procedures done, and I would feel apprehensive until it was all over. So a part of me can understand her fears.

About the time I'm getting some things done here at home, we get the phone call that there's been an accident. His (the cousin mentioned above) 89 year old mom wrecked her new car (used, but she just got it this weekend). I went to the wreck scene. Another cousin was their helping out with the local granddaughter, and between the two of us we talked with the police, EMS workers, and I got the privilege of confiscating her two licenses (she wrecked a few weeks ago and the police made her get a new license...still can't believe DMV gave her another one) and accompanying her to the ER. In the beginning she was telling everyone she was not going to drive again and this was clearly God making that clear to her and keeping her safe. By the time we left the ER she was wanting her license and the location and phone number of where her car is. She seemed shocked the tow truck was not taking it to the dealership for repairs, and was only a little appeased that I gave her the card for the towing company. I told her the only way she'd get her license was if I cut her picture out for her. I have this strange feeling that she'll rent or borrow a car from someone if we give it to her, even if it's "just for ID purposes" as she kept saying. I promised I'd take her for a photo ID tomorrow, but I think her daughter-in-law is actually going to do that. I did give the daughter-in-law one license for that purpose (she'll need it at DMV tomorrow), but I kept the other one.

Meanwhile my cousin in FL is at the hospital and having an unplanned surgery tomorrow. Uncle Dave and his wife are headed down to be with them and her sister is on her way to look after her kids as her parents are almost to Alaska on a trip.

Life is anything but dull.

Friday, May 8, 2015

fighting the selfish battle...and its wounds

Selfishness is one of those sins I think everyone struggles with greatly, though we seldom recognize it. The last few years, I've noticed it more. Sometimes the battle is H A R D and other times, not so much (and that very well could be because I'm ignorant of it).

I am very selfish with my time. I am very blessed in that I do not have to work outside the home. Before we were married, Bobby and I looked at all our options, and decided that for us and our situation, it would be best if I were his caregiver. And for this season of our lives, that is still the case. The first year of our marriage, against his advice but with his blessing, I worked part-time, about 30 hours a week. And it was rough. When my contract ended at the end of the school year, I didn't renew it.  Five years later I went back to school as a student, and then resumed working part-time again. It started out as 20 hours, which was manageable, then increased to 25. I found myself frustrated and out of whack, and when hints and suggestions for 30 hours or full-time started being made, I had absolute peace about being a stay-at-home wife. Thankfully most people are understanding, though there have been some the last few years that seem to think because I don't have children and don't work, that I have absolutely nothing to do and are free for their every beckon and call. They don't see the 3-6 hours a day that caregiving requires, or the responsibilities I volunteer for. I find my patience for these people very shallow, even when their requests are legitimate. I ponder that a friend can call during one of my busier weeks with a need and I'll bend over double to help them and love every minute of it, but one of these few people can call when my schedule is somewhat empty, and I cringe at helping them, even resent the time. That's not love; that's not kindness; that's not Christlike. I've been working on my attitude with these people and situations. Some days, I manage things a little better. Others, I lose that battle with almost no fight.

This weekend brings about another fight in the same area, but with a much different angle. If you're an adult and childless, I don't have to tell you that Mother's Day is one of the most painful days on the calender. It would be one thing if I were at church with my Mom and honoring her, but to sit in an auditorium when every other adult female is standing and listen to everyone raving about what their kids did for them that morning is hard. The reality is, no matter how hard it is for me, those women are my friends, and they deserve it. Yes, it hurts immensely that like Hannah, I'm forgotten. Yes, it drives me crazy that the sermon that morning is almost always about motherhood (and even crazier when they talk about barren Hannah...who had a child!!!! How's that for pouring salt in a wound?) But it doesn't change the fact that every day of every year my friends sacrifice their time, energy, desires, money, and sleep for miniature people. It doesn't change the fact that they are taking their responsibilities to teach these little people right from wrong very seriously. I watch them on Sunday mornings as I can focus on the music and the words overhead but they keep one eye on a wriggling body beside them. I see their faces flush as a little body goes into full panic mode as the offering plate comes near and that child is slinging everything on the pew everywhere in desperation to find their money, and they seem to delight in dropping the coins as loudly as they can. And the parents are horrified. There are so many Sundays I see their exhaustion, and I want to hug them and shake them and say "It's okay! Everyone else is laughing. You're doing a good job. I love your child's generosity, their seriousness about giving, their willingness to share their offering with the child in front and behind them who forgot theirs, even when you only want them to sit still in their seat. And when your child wants to move from one row to the next to be next to you, I think that's an incredible testament that they feel safe and secure beside you, that they love you." But I don't. So why should I not for one Sunday a year gladly smile and edify my sisters who struggle every single Sunday? The selfish part of me wants to argue that they get their rewards with nightly hugs and group activities with other Moms and kids, with family portraits, and such, but the reality is there are times when those Moms would like a day to read a book or go shopping without hearing "Mom!" every three minutes. I go to church because I love Jesus. I go to church because I need interaction with other believers. To stay at home because I hurt and ache so badly inside on a day when my friends are honored for their sacrifices...that's selfishness. No matter how bad the ache or how hard the hour, my mother and my friends who are moms do deserve the recognition they receive. What type of soldier runs from an awards ceremony because his friends are being pinned and she's not? We've all heard the saying "the world doesn't revolve around you", but yet, there are days when we seem to act or think like it does. For me, Mother's day fits into that category.

So as I see the Facebook posts piling up from barren and single friends about their dread for this Sunday, I wrestle. Like so many, I long to surrender to selfish desires and stay home, to avoid the well-meaning but ignorant people wishing me "Happy Mother's Day 'cause you're so like a Mom", but I can't. I need to celebrate my Mother and friends for the job they do, to let them know that I'm in their corner praying and cheering them on, that I applaud them for being so dedicated to the task God has blessed them with. Overcoming sinful desires, even when they seem reasonable, is hard. But I serve the Great Physician who promises to heal my hurts. With that promise, can I not set aside my personal desires to celebrate and show joy for friends and sisters in Christ who have a reason to celebrate?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

the things we learn

Last night while leaving a restaurant (aka. fast food place), we saw a cat we hadn't seen before. Let's just say it could be the basis for that cheer that was so popular in middle school (U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi, you ugly, hey, hey, you ugly - and for the record, our Christian school cheerleading squad was not allowed to perform it....much to our dismay). I pointed the cat out to my husband, who responded as I thought he would - " I don't know why so many people find those cats ugly." Over the years I've learned that any animal that I find he cute he'll shrug his shoulders over, and any animal that makes me want to cringe inside, he finds very adorable. I'm not sure what that says about my appearance or our relationship, but it's the way it is. Regardless, during the course of the conversation, I referred to the cat as a "he", only to be corrected by my farmer-man husband. Evidently, male cats are never tri-colored; only female cats are. I've learned the last few years that certain breeds of chickens can be sexed by color (called sex links), but had no idea cats could be.  Cats, birds, chickens...wonder what other animal can be?

The other bizarre thing I've been told is that "aim cannot be taught." We were discussing my childhood summers, specifically time at my grandparents, when my cousin would not allow me to shoot his BB gun because I couldn't hit the target and was "wasting" his BBs. I also had (and still have) a problem driving a straight nail. For some reason they always go in at an angle or bend. My husband thinks I can improve in those areas, but that, like music, you either have it or you don't. I'm not quite sure what to think about that.

Meanwhile the chicken saga and my garden continues. It's to the point that even the dogs bark to let me know when the chickens have jumped the fence into the garden. Those dogs might be useful after all. :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

so thankful

First, the quilt page has been updated (I posted the final, quilted version of my third quilt of valour).

This last week I read the book Growing Up bin Laden by Osama bin Laden's first wife and fourth son. It was heart-wrenching, sad, and enlightening, all at the same time.  But so far, every book I've ever read about the middle east that involve women in the book, except one, have left me feeling overwhelmed and a little flabbergasted that God chose me to be born to American parents.

I do not consider myself a feminist, though the older I get the more I see many Christian males as male chauvinists. For example, a Christian group I know recently posted that they need assistance moving things. They specifically requested men to come move furniture and dismantle desk units, and for women to come pack up the office supplies. I do understand that most women do not enjoy lifting heavy objects and that men are typically stronger. But it also made me laugh. a little.  My roommate and I actually took one of those desk units apart and put it back together (Okay...I took it apart and she helped me put it back together and then cleaned up the mess I made on her side of the room...and never complained). I know women who move furniture and paint their own houses while their husbands are away on business trips or at work, women who till their own gardens (GO, go, GO! Barbara Ann (she has a pink tractor) and Charlotte (who used a small hand tiller), women who repair the washing machine and refrigerator and toilet because there's no money to call the plumber and hubby is working his tail off at work (thank you YouTube!), and women who build their own stone steps and patios and driveways. I also know men who want to help out but have injured backs or severe health issues that limit their movement, but gladly will sort paperwork or make phone calls. When we (and I use the church/Christian groups here as an example because those are the groups I work with the most) limit certain activities to male/female roles, we alienate potential workers...for no reason. I understand there are very clear God-given roles for men and women in the Bible...but these things do not fall in those categories.

Yet every time I read a book about women in the middle east, I am SO thankful to have grown up in a country with parents who encouraged me to use my mind, who allowed me to work and learn to drive, who saw me as more than "just a girl".  I am thankful for their Biblical teachings: that God made me and loved me, that I am not incomplete because I am a female, and that God clearly teaches every thing we do should be for His glory and honor - not mine. That, when the apostle Paul wrote Timothy to "study to show yourself approved as a workman to God", it's a good principle for every believer, and not just males who are becoming preachers.

There's a lot to be said for respecting your husband and being a keeper of the home, but I would never want to see that taken to the extreme where a wife can never question her husband or leave the home without his permission or an escort. I cannot imagine my only duties in life to be that of cooking food, cleaning house, and reproducing. I am so thankful that God gave me a godly example in my father, who has never seen it as a threat to his manhood to lovingly help around the house. As he used to inform us if we ever asked for an allowance for doing our chores "You live here. You're a part of the team. You don't get paid for teamwork."

But I was also reminded of why we should reach out to the downtrodden and those on the fringes of society...they're the ones desperate for acceptance and meaning to their life.

For me, reading about another culture and from a different viewpoint is a great reminder of why I believe as I do, and how important it is to truly listen and understand where a person is coming from before we make snap judgments about who they are and what they will do. Things are not always as they seem.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bath, NC

Last week we had the opportunity to visit a little bit of the towns of Washington and Bath, NC.  Due to uncontrollable circumstances, we didn't do much of the historic walking tour in Washington, but we did get to see the original church (and maybe one of the oldest in NC) in Bath. It's still being used as an Episcopal church, and the original building has not had any additions, though there are buildings around it that belong to the church. The church is open for tours (which means you walk in and look around). It was fascinating.

These pew cushions reminded me of the church I grew up in.
One long red cushion that runs the length of the entire pew, and is not attached.

I've only seen glass bookcases in old churches. Here it was used to store Bibles and hymnbooks.
Beside, hanging off the window sill, was a basket holding coloring books and crayons for kids.

The view from the front of the church. The original building of New Bethel Baptist Church here in Garner had a balcony. Prior to the civil war, it was where the slaves sat during church time. 

Love the stone floor. It was quite level. Most stone pavements aren't, making it difficult on wheelchairs.

and the balcony steps. I'm always amazed at how narrow staircases from the 1800s are.
In today's buildings, steps would be twice that width.

View from the back of the church

Instead of having wooden pockets on the back (similar to the one holding the offering envelope) for hymnbooks, these pews had a shelf underneath as a place for hymnbooks. I think I like this a little better than on the back of the pew.

The estuary in Washington and the Visitor's Center in Bath both had quilts that their local guilds had made that I would have loved to photograph, but both were in areas of the museum where you couldn't take pictures. Washington's was made in the Window Pane pattern, but inside each pane was an appliqued animal that you would see in the estuary. They did an outstanding job. In Bath, the centerpiece was patchwork but the outer borders had large appliques of women working, showing the history of the town. It was fascinating. Bath also had information on Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard the Pirate), and Bobby shared even more history about him on the way home that was horrifying. We didn't make it to the town of Auroro, but hope to go back sometime with my sister and brother-in-law.  I'm thinking the person who wrote our "Day Trips from Raleigh" guide book moves at a much faster pace than we do.

Monday, May 4, 2015

outside stuff & animal problems

Last year, I had the crazy idea that if I took apart the panels on the dog's pen, I could enlarge his lockdown area by connecting the panels to the end of ramp and the side of the porch steps. It worked great for several months. Then we had a young man from church come over and help out with some yardwork. Buster could not stand it that Bobby and someone else were within his sight, and he couldn't be there. So this is what he did:
 He chewed off the lattice work under bobby's ramp. In the beginning, it looked more like one of those cartoon things where a person bursts through the wall, but he's chewed off most of the edged corners. I was thinking I would replace that panel this year, but he and Little Dog use that as a shortcut and an area for playing, so I've just left it. It also meant his 10x20 play area when he's locked up got reduced back to 10x10.

I was pleased with how plants we've planted, both around the house and in the garden, were blooming.

And then this weekend the chickens figured out a way to get over the fence. They've scratched up the one half row of spinach I had (which would have been ready in a week or two), and pulled up about four pea plants. Then Bobby spotted Peter Rabbit from last year (just a whole lot bigger) heading towards the garden. I'm hoping he's grown enough he won't make it through the fence this year, but Bobby says he'll just tunnel under. I hope not. I'm starting to think it's just not meant for me to have a garden.