Flannel Jammies Farm

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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wool Share...

Early this year, my daughter and I bought a wool share at a local farm.  This allowed us to visit and feed lambs, share dreams and conversation with the farm owner and her family, and at the end of the season we'd receive beautiful wool from her sheep.  As an added bonus, we were invited to participate in sheep shearing and wool spinning/dyeing at the farm.  (Here's a secret: my daughter is the knitter... I just wanted to visit the farm and play with the animals!)
Today, a lovely day of sunshine and mild temperatures provided by our Creator, we traveled to the farm for dyeing and spinning.  Others with wool shares were already there, others came later, arriving with expectant smiles.  Our farm hostess and her family were dressed in period garments, and had prepared everything for our visit: fresh wool separated into bundles, vinegar baths and dyes for the wool, wood fires outside to keep the dyes cooking, and a wise carding and spinning teacher. 
The wool bundles had to go through a vinegar bath to help the dyes to set, and then a quick rinse in soapy water and then clear water.   Eight of our bundles were natural that we would dye, and our other two were a lovely dark gray/brown.
Into the dye!  We chose to dye 4 of our bundles with coffee, two with turmeric, and two with a bright aqua blue dye.  The turmeric was the favorite of the day, I think, with its rich tone and fast coloring.
Once dyed the wool bundles were transferred to the clothesline to dry.  Small color sample bundles were also there in the sunshine. 
While our treasures were drying outside, we all gathered for a delicious lunch of fresh salad greens dressed with farm-made goat cheese, sunflower seeds, and a balsamic vinaigrette.  Fresh baked bread, some scented with rosemary, was served with butter and farm-canned blackberry jam.  Farm daughters had also prepared fresh lemonade with honey for us.
This day, the culmination of a season of visits on the farm, was a gift.  Our hostess is so generous with her time and her knowledge, giving us a recipe for a healing tea as we said farewell.   She and her family are a fine example of sustainable and joyful living in what can be a crazy and chaotic world, and a true exhibition of hospitality.  Thank you, M, for the season of wool!

She finds wool and flax
      and busily spins it.
She is like a merchant’s ship,
      bringing her food from afar.
She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
      and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
      with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is energetic and strong,
      a hard worker.
She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
      her lamp burns late into the night.
Her hands are busy spinning thread,
      her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor
      and opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household,
      for everyone has warm clothes.
She makes her own bedspreads.
      She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Her husband is well known at the city gates,
      where he sits with the other civic leaders.
She makes belted linen garments
      and sashes to sell to the merchants.
She is clothed with strength and dignity,
      and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
      and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
      and suffers nothing from laziness.
Her children stand and bless her.
      Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
      but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
      but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
      Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
Proverbs 31:13-31

Friday, August 20, 2010

Toxic Childhood

Recently my husband and I viewed "Toxic Childhood" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN.  It got me thinking again about the things we breathe, touch, eat, drink every day in modern America.

One of the segments of "Toxic Childhood" focused on parents whose only child was taken by childhood cancer: Wilms' tumor, or nephroblastoma.  The parents were citing a recent study that may indicate a link between chemical exposure and Wilms' tumor found in children.  My jaw dropped.

I was diagnosed with Wilms' tumor at the age of 4.  My left kidney was removed and I was treated with radiation and chemotherapy.  That is another story for another day...

Since that time, I've had several other surgeries to remove other growths and other organs, both benign and pre-cancerous.  I've undergone genetic testing and counseling, and though there is NO history of my cancers on either side of my family, the determination is that I have a not-yet-identified genetic syndrome.

First let me say that my God is good, my God is able, and my God is a healer.  I have fallen into His strong arms repeatedly, feeling betrayed by this earthly tent.  Each time, I feel His presence and I am strengthened and encouraged for another day.

But let me also say that there are things in this imperfect world that are dangerous.  The Diet Coke that gives my eyelids a lift each morning.  The cleaners I have used on countless military housing units before agreeing to inhabit them.  The remnants of long-past leaks and floods in the carpet and ceiling of all the offices I have worked in.  BE MINDFUL... take time to think about what you expose yourself and your precious wee ones to each day.  Make wise choices about what nourishes you at mealtime.  Choose baking soda and vinegar to add sparkle to your home.  Cigarettes, cigars and pipes destroy lungs; don't smoke.  Step back from the pace and demands of the day, release the stress that knots muscles and strangles tissues, and just BE.

I will climb down from my soapbox now.  *smile*  Weaving a prayer of joy for your journey today.

Prayers written on strips of cloth and woven onto a loom, joining the prayers of other sojourners.
Massanetta Springs, June 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010


through a keyhole, Colonial Williamsburg, 2010

Faith makes us sure of what we hope for 
and gives us proof of what we cannot see.
Hebrews 11:1

Blessings to you and yours this day!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

fairy garden... spruced up!

Once upon a time, there was a large empty urn.  It was big and round and deep, but it was empty.  With great care, I added soil and plants and rocks, a bench and a fountain and a garden fence, stones and little angels to play.  The little garden flourished, but a very hot summer arrived and some of the plants became scorched.  The tiny angels looked so sad in their brown garden.  Husband and I gathered new plants and bright stones and spruced up the little fairy garden.  It now makes me smile to see it outside my french doors...  do you have a bit of fairy land in your care?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Too Blessed to be Stressed...

What a week... and it's only Wednesday!

On Sunday, my mother woke to another morning of shortened breath.  It was bad.  Worse than before.  She was exhausted.  COPD/Emphysema can do that.  Her tears broke my heart.  We piled in the Jeep and took a trip to the local day spa hospital emergency room.  Later that day, Mom was admitted to the hospital.

My son, who'd just been to visit us with his lovely wife, turned around and travelled the 2 hours back to our home to be with his grandmother, to encourage her, as only he (the asthmatic) could.  Before he left to go back to his own home, the brakes on his car failed.  He had no choice: borrow the beloved old Suzuki Samurai for the trip.  It developed an engine knock before he reached his destination.

My daughter is pulled in so many directions: full-time job, full-time boyfriend, part-time counselor for international exchange students, grandmother in the hospital, father trying to hard to help her help me, and (bless her) she tries all the time to nurture me.

My husband tries to survive in a world spinning in an atmosphere of estrogen.  He lives in this house with me, our daughter, my mother, and our sweet furry girl, Scarlett.  He can't win.  Pray for him, will you?

In the midst of all this, I am trying to work.  A new-ish job.  Still unsure, still learning. 

So today:  I wake up, eat, bathe, pray, and I'm at the hospital to visit with Mom before 8:00am.  I'm there for the doctor's visit.  Good news!  Mom can go home today.  Ok, I can work this.  I head off to pick up items for my job, get lost on the way to the office, make a frustrating rescue call to hubby, find my way to work FINALLY.  My volunteer arrives.  She is a lifesaver extended to me in an endless sea, working with patience and kindness and smiles.  Phone rings:  yes, I will be at home to accept delivery of the nebulizer and walker for my mother, what time?, um, how about later?, ok, got it.  Uh-oh, time to leave to pick up Mom at the hospital.  Stop e-mailing, leave the rest of the work for later.  Get in the Jeep.  Hungry, diabetic.  Get some fries (terrible choice!) and hit the road.  Ugh, traffic... stop and go... gotta get into the tunnel and on my way...  HEY, WHY IS MY CAR MOVING FORWARD, STOP, HONK.  I've been rear-ended by someone who was rear-ended.  Pull over, talk to trooper, fill out paperwork.  Call husband so he can pick up Mom... no answer at work or cell phones.  Call Mom at hospital to tell her I've been delayed... busy... busy.... busy... busy.  Finally get Mom, tell her I'll be there soon.  She reminds me that I have to go home first to pick up her portable oxygen tank.  Right.  Finish with trooper and other drivers, get back on the highway.  Get hubby on phone and in frustration tell him that I need him to be accessible in case of emergency.  Get home, change Mom's sheets so she'll have fresh bed to rest in, grab her oxygen tank, grab street clothes just in case she's not keen on the idea of wearing jammies home.  Go to the hospital, get Mom discharged after straightening out prescription mistakes.  Get Mom home and she realizes she's left her hand-crocheted afghan at the hospital. Go back to hospital, get afghan AND cell phone/gum/goodies left in her tray table.  Head off to grocery to get her prescriptions filled.  Drop RXs at pharmacy and start shopping for nutritious options for Mom meals.  Shop, Shop.  Go back to pharmacy 30 minutes later, still not ready, walk away only to be called back over store speaker.  RXs ready, but one must be ordered and one is over-the-counter and available at service desk, pay $215.  OK, check out with groceries, pay $45.  OK, go to service desk for over-the-counter meds, wait 20 minutes behind ladies buying money orders and lottery tickets.  Finally my turn, get meds, pay $12, leave store.  Go home, cook dinner: broiled tilapia, mac and cheese, brussels sprouts, sliced pineapple.  Call insurance company to file accident claim, schedule Jeep repair.  Help Mom get a shower and shampoo and fresh jammies.  Take time to write post and insert links for an update to work blog.  E-mail a couple of friends an update on our situation.  Decide that jammies are a good idea and get my own.  *sigh*

As I sit down, I remember the blessing God sent me in the midst of this chaos:  a sweet man at the pharmacy, a fellow customer.  As we talk and bump into each other shopping later, I learn that he's in his 70's, stroke survivor, still maintaining lawns across our area, and that he's a pastor.  I tell him a tiny bit of my day.  He tells me that he's Too Blessed to be Stressed, and I agree that God is Good All the Time.  He asks me if he can give me a hug, apologizing for the dirt from his day on the lawns of others.  I accept, thankful for this show of love from my Lord. 

God really is so good all the time, reminding us of His love and His abiding presence, even in the midst of the chaos.  I am humbled and grateful. 

Look for the blessings, friends.  Look for the surprising moments that will bring you Light in the darkness.  Look for HIM everywhere.