Flannel Jammies Farm

...praising God on our 1/5 acre of suburbia

Friday, July 22, 2016

tiny moments...

The test comes back with something new.  Something you weren't expecting.  You pick up the phone to hear your doctor's voice, calling unexpectedly, using the word, "alarmed".  **deep breath**

I could not have predicted this journey with FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis).  I deluded myself that a surgery a few years back to prevent full-blown cancer was the end of the story.  I was a pre-vivor!  And yeah, I have other illnesses, but I can handle those!  This particular hereditary cancer syndrome, though, is tricky, and new polyps are happy to form wherever they wish, of a type that become cancerous if left in place to thrive.

Another procedure looms to vacate a plump and cantankerous growth and many of his smaller neighbors.  Another team of folks trying to keep me strong and cancer-free.  I am so very grateful for all the wise and skilled people guiding me to wellness.  But I needed a moment to catch my breath...

We decided to run away, just for a few days, to the place most sacred and healing for me: the blue, blue mountains of my beloved Virginia.  We wandered.  We laughed.  We walked.  We ate.  We adventured.  And my heart burst open wide. 

I found the camera pointing at textures, focusing in small and profound.  These tiny moments, stay here, linger here.  Here is healing.  Here are secrets waiting to be heard. 

Let me share these tiny moments with you...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

mulberry muffins and memories...

Some friends... you know the ones... lift your spirits and make your heart happy.  They're the ones who surprise you with treasures that they just know you'll love.  You giggle with delight at the same things.  You learn and grow together with them.  (And they're the ones that make a pact with you that neither of you has to clean the house before the other one visits... but that's another story.)  What makes them even more special is the wee people they're nurturing, wondrous children filled with excitement and curiosity and intelligence.

I am so blessed to have just such a friend, raising two beautiful daughters.  May I introduce you to one of them?  Her name is Nettie and I've known her since she was a tiny baby.  She makes me think and makes me smile and makes me see the world in new ways.  And she shares my love of overalls.

On a recent visit with her family, Nettie gave me a delicious gift:  fresh mulberries picked from their tree!  The berries were nestled in a lovely little pocket, tied with a perfect yellow bow.  I tasted one (well, maybe two or three) right away... sweet and juicy and perfect.  As we drove away with the mulberries, I knew exactly what I'd do:  bake mulberry muffins!

But how?  So, of course, I roamed the interwebs, searching for a delicious and somewhat healthy recipe.  And there it was:  Ginger-Wheat Mulberry Muffins from Sommer at A Spicy Perspective.  The recipe looked easy, healthier than some others from which I'd quickly clicked away, and contained crystallized ginger yumminess to compliment the mulberries!

Flouring the mulberries is a must and I do have a small addiction to Ziploc baggies (and paper towels and April Cornell clothing and...), so in the bag for a gentle shake before I began.  And another quick moment to chop that zingy-sweet ginger!

Into the mixing bowl went the ingredients, with the addition of some toasted and chopped pecans...

And then into the muffin pan to bake...

And soon we had wonderful bites of Springtime!!!

Thank you, Nettie, for the tasty gift of mulberries... and thank you, Nettie's mom, for the gift of friendship.

Friday, May 6, 2016

traveling altars...

noun, often attributive al·tar \ˈȯl-tər\

a platform or table used as a center of worship in Christian ceremonies and services

It's been a year.  Twelve months of appointments and medications and tests and procedures.  

I live with layers of chronic health concerns.  Sometimes my diabetes plays nice; sometimes I'm unable to track what has my numbers roller-coaster-ing.  Last year I began a long and hard-to-treat flare of existing gastroparesis.  Weight began to melt away.  Food, once a great joy and comfort, became an enemy.  Pain became constant.  My team of medical caregivers kept searching for answers ... and found them. 

I also have familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), a rare hereditary colon cancer syndrome.  I lost my colon to this condition a few years ago, and somehow missed the memo that FAP was still very present.  A few months ago the doctor found polyps in my stomach again, nothing really new, but then polyps were also found through the length of my small intestine.  The trouble with FAP is that these polyps can turn cancerous when no one is watching, and they had to be removed.  After an attempt by my specialist to locate and remove the largest of the growths, and after being turned down by a local group of specialists for a more complex procedure ("this patient's needs would be better met at a teaching hospital"), I was referred to UNC Chapel Hill.

Doctors had never indicated that I was beyond their capabilities before.  My primary care physician had never had a patient needing this more complex procedure.  I'd never traveled hours away for treatment before.  To say I was a little unnerved is an understatement.

Then in April my friend, Kathleen, reached out with an invitation to a small group of women:  gather at New Earth Farm for bonding, encouragement, and creating traveling altars.  Her sister-in-law, Daisy, a hospital chaplain, would be there to share examples and ideas with us.  It was the perfect, just-for-me gift at the perfect, just-as-God-timed-it moment.  I accepted with gratitude.

The day was chilly and windy, but the gathering spot was cozy and warm.  Friends, new and treasured, arrived unexpectedly, filling my heart with happiness!  One dear soul brought hats for everyone, a welcome gift on such a chilly day as we wandered the farm.  

Everyone brought supplies and tools which spilled out along the long table amongst the softly flickering candles.  Traveling altar examples were placed on shelves with books and put-up jars of yumminess.  

Tiny boxes were transformed while strong women talked of challenges and joys.  Each box would hold beauty, strips of paper for penning prayers, and a wee candle to light.  The boxes were different sizes and shapes and materials; each a special creation for quiet prayers and meditation that could be closed tight and carried to many destinations.

At the end of the day, as we stood and shared tasty treats, our traveling altars were placed together on the long table, our offering of praise and thankfulness for the time spent together.  Farmer John came to admire the work of our hands and obliged us by taking our group photos.

My traveling altar was ready for my journeys ahead...  wherever my God leads...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

the "truth in advertising" garden tour...

Often I and my gardening buddies will post stunning photos of our garden goodness... perfectly kept beds of always blooming flowers, mega-productive vegetables, and herbs worthy of a spread in bon appetit.   And we do, in fact, often have gardens (or at least spots in them) that look just like that.

My sweet homesteading friend, Lanette, recently moved to Guam.  GUAM!  And just a couple of weeks into her residency, she has a home, kids ready to begin school, farmers markets and growers identified (and visited!), and yes, a new version of gardening in place.  She gives us a "walk around the homestead" in a recent post on her blog,  Homesteading on the Homefront.  (Go ahead, click and enjoy the beauty.)

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that it's been a hard season for me and I have not been able to tend my gardens the way I should.  I'm no help to my "on his second career" husband, who comes home from a long day of work and commuting to be greeted by a honey-do list longer than the monstrous morning glory vines slowly devouring the sunflowers out back.

Below I share with you some of the good, the bad, and the ugly around Flannel Jammies Farm as summer draws to a close.  Try not to judge.  Laugh with me as we greet the fresh start of Autumn.  And say a prayer for Tom as he braves stink bugs, poison ivy, and cucumbers the size of cantaloupes...
rosemary, chive, boxwood basil, peony... and weeds

echinacea:  wanted, dead or alive

sedum:  blooming where it's planted

still life:  rosebush with tomato and pumpkin

my treasured pink dogwood among wandering lambs (ears)

crappy birdbath

oh, the abundant tomatoes (that I can't eat this season)

spooky marigold and black tomato

chives, tomatoes, windows, and pollinators... oh, my!

hibiscus camouflaging a top-bar hive

a Tim Gunn "make it work" moment (ran out of striped boxes)

another top-bar beauty

wish these washboarding bees knew how to rake...

Scarlett's thinking, "that ain't right..."

composter, windows, solar wax melter, and overgrowth, a la Fred Sanford

erectus mysterio