Tag Archives: friends

Stove Up

One of the first new terms I learned here in the Northwest was “stove up”. I soon realized folks weren’t talking about heat or cooking. They referred to feeling puny or broken.

Like me much of last winter for example. God kept me safe from hurt and harm this fall. But by this time last year I’d injured my right arm chopping wood. Soon I’d fallen and broken my tail bone and many mornings I woke with my bones aching over the exceptionally long, remarkably cold, and unusually wet winter. A few times I’d felt beyond stove up, I felt ’bout stove in.

As I light the first fire of the year in the wood stove I reflect on the past year fondly. I thank God for my rustic life (a dream come true), for my dear Brother Cole and friends and all I’ve learned from them.  Celebrating this life, reciting the lessons from the past year helps ease the longing for hugs, humor and hanging out with Seagh, my offspring, my darling Opal and my long-distance siblings.

What do you celebrate this week?

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.”

Phil 4:19, 20 (NLT)

  

Header, fire and candle images courtesy of Pixabay.com

Advertisements

21 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Meeting

This past week a friend had me laughing for hours – I’m sure he was laughing too. In an email conversation that began about blogging we stumbled upon our mutual regard for Monty Python movie quotes. It was on… quote after quote – back and forth.

“Spam, spam, spam, spam…”

Actually my sons, with their uncles/my brothers, a sister and my husband reenacted the scenes so often over the years I knew many of the dialogues by heart. Remarkably, until a Flying Circus marathon New Year’s Eve Party in 1994-95 I’d never actually seen a single Monty Python movie. Frankly, after all the years hearing my darling’s renditions, to me my gang was better. They were actually just familiar – and the subjects were well filtered.

This led me to think about all the people I talk to, have relationships with but we haven’t actually met – yet.

A little later I was laughing again over another movie scene that gets me every time. Cry-laughing I blurted out, “Lord, help me!”

Instantly I envisioned Jesus as depicted in the drawing framed on my wall: His head back, tears glistening through his fully accentuated laugh lines, His jaw wide open… I felt as though we’d been hanging out for hours.

And yet, we’ve never actually “met” in person either. Not like I’ve met most of my friends.

Seriously, I live for those moments with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They make it so I can hardly wait to actually look into His face. I’m certain there will be silliness when we meet – happiness will gush.

Sure, I’ll have to account for some things I’m not proud of, but simply meeting Jesus on earth leads me to believe He will be standing close by us all in our final moments. I wonder if then, between our last breath here and opening our eyes on the other side is when we’ll account for the sad and bad choices of our lives – those moments I dread. Why not? God’s time is nothing like ours. And besides, there will be no sorrow or pain in heaven.

Whatever else awaits us, I’m certain uncontainable joy will overtake all else in God’s presence. Go ahead, try to get your head around how the best laughter on earth can’t even compare.

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” “ Revelation 21:3, 4 (NLT)

 

Monty Python images courtesy Pinterest, and Feature Image courtesy Fungyung.com,

Michael Keaton in Multiplicity courtesy YouTube

Jesus Laughing image by Praise Screen Prints (c) 1977  as He appears on my wall ;>

5 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Safe at Home

As the Astros and the Yankees duke it out for the championship, the term Safe at Home takes on a whole new meaning for me. The Cubs will come back again next year.

Autumn sunrise

 

Here at the ranch this past week New-Old-Friend, Cole and I unloaded and stacked about three cords of the wood we cut and hauled last weekend.

 

 

What impresses me most is how people turn out and team up to help one another. Cole and I alone would have needed another whole day to saw and load – at the very least. On top of that, both of us would have hurt all week. But New-Old-Friend, Cole’s dad, a cousin’s able bodies and some very cool tools did much more work in far better time. What’s more, Cole’s mom had hot, delicious, mostly home grown meals awaiting us after a luxurious, spa-like shower.

 

New-Old-Friend and Cole’s Mom

 

During my first year the ranch went through many changes. Sure, last year I said that it’s good to be home right away. But seriously, the first ten months actually were hard. I was so road weary from the three previous years I barely noticed exactly how tough it was until fall started to appear this year and the pace began to slow a bit.

Through it all, God led me, soothed me, counseled me and sent help when I couldn’t manage alone anymore.

 

 

I’m a little sad that Cole sold Kendra’s Gray Mare. Still, she’ll winter in a warm barn now. Besides, the bikes are in the cottage with me again. Cole also sold the cows and the three-year-old calf. New Roommate now tends the pastures and the chickens so I only fill in when both she and Cole are away. With the chicken house almost completely refurbished, requiring half the time to care for the flock, I’m now free to focus upon my work.

Today more than ever before it’s good to be home.

“For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” Psalm 33:4 (NIV)

 

3 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Shout Out

One of the most wonderful aspects of the Blogosphere is the Blogging Community. “Duh” one might think.  That might seem like a no-brainer, but if it isn’t, have you actually experienced much of today’s media?

Craziness that most of us used to only read about or imagine in our worst moments has become commonplace.

“…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. …practice everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8, 9 (edited NLT)

On my down days I enjoy a warm, steaming mug with my blogosphere friends until the good vibes roll. Today, I want to recognize members of the blogging community that consistently share their firm, positive stand in reality.  If you don’t already know them too, you’ve been missing out:

These were my first lifelines today alone. And there are so many more. Who can feel lonely?

“When we consider the blessings of God – the gifts that add beauty and joy to our lives, that enable us to keep going through stretches of boredom and even suffering – friendship is very hear the top.” – Donald W. McCullough, Mastering Personal Growth

8 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex, Writing and Blogging

Interval

Maybe it was the headlines, autumn even more manifest on my walk earlier, something I ate – or didn’t eat. It could be that Nickle and The Deuce are already back in my apartment. Perhaps because I’m missing my kids for the umpteenth time today – and it’s not yet noon. Regardless, work called and I answered.

Moments later I marveled that after all the years of work fixing what broke, I was stuck again.

Forget about why; the ear worm remained. Ultimately I caved, picked up my guitar as if I could already play it.  I listened, carefully and then just rolled with it –

 

and shared it.

 

You’re welcome.
 

 
 

 

“You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:73, 74 (NLT)

 
Video courtesy YouTube

4 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Lighter Dawn

On Friday I felt better than I have in weeks. The morning before texts began arriving announcing that rain had begun falling near the Eagle Creek Fire.  There was hope the weeks of smoke would soon end.

Smoke cover across the Columbia Saturday, Sept 9.

 

Smoke cover across the Tri-Cities Wednesday, Sept 5

 

Maybe it was because Kendra and Twelve-Year-Old had stayed the night before. It could also be that for a rare moment Brother Cole shared coffee, tea and the smokey sunrise with us on the patio. And it could be that for a rarer moment we were relaxed, tranquil, rather than hurried or annoyed by who-knows-what. For those few minutes together we all felt light and happy.

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:22 (NLT)

Aside from the weeks of ongoing smoke from the wildfires, the atmosphere was similar to the first weeks after I arrived here last October – before the changes.

Taking in the peaceful morning glow, our words were few but meaningful.

We agree, we don’t know where this story is going. We’re certain it will be amazing, so we’re glad for these peaceful, quiet moments.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5, 6 (NLT)

 

2 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

A-Tack Day

It was the middle of a crazy, emotion-packed week. Too exhilarated from my drive to town in perfect weather, I couldn’t force myself back indoors yet.

The cloud bank to the west served to justify another walk for the morning; it could be a storm front coming in, so I headed to the pastures – to check on the livestock, of course.

Only one head rose up as I approached the main gate, but I was glad it was Kendra’s gray mare on the east side. Naturally her head went right back down into a patch of sweet grass, but her pause to recognize me once again filled me with wonder.

The cattle watched me dispassionately from the west end as I moved from the gate to the south pasture. The mare pretended to ignore me, and yet she repositioned her hooves – taking more than one step away (only in case I was coming to bring her in) would have required more exertion. As I stepped closer she nickered as if she enjoyed teasing me. As she continued to munch a mouthful of grass uninterrupted, I shooed some flies away from her face and picked some straw from her mane. She thanked me by resting her head on my shoulder and with her head pulled me to her neck. I don’t care what equestrian experts call this, I consider it a horse hug.

One hand rubbed her chest between her forelegs as Kendra taught me, the other reached up and around to rub her neck and then her face. She hated that so much, except for her munching she stayed perfectly still while my hands moved over her.

Once again I felt like she understands these kinds of moments with her actually get me through my occasional bouts with loneliness.

Sufficiently stroked, I left her to walk briskly to the tree line at the back of the lot, opposite the cattle and then I turned back toward the gates. As I walked, I couldn’t believe my eyes zeroing in on the tiniest suggestion of yellow on the ground. I stepped in closer and confirmed my suspicions; a fresh crop of tack weeds had begun spreading out.

After losing my dearest canine companion to an infection caused by tack weed stickers, I developed a particular loathing for them. Here at the ranch we’ve been at war since this year’s thaw. I got a bucket, a large claw hammer and gloves from the tack room and set to digging the dastardly roots up.

The number of them I actually found surprised me, but I was glad for the perfect light to see them. A shiver had just shot through me as I imagined a mean goat head sticker stabbing the mare’s soft lips, when I suddenly felt overshadowed. From my periphery it seemed the neighbor’s bull had somehow gotten into our pasture, which for a heartbeat confused me. God and I have had a lifelong understanding about bulls (and rams); He keeps them away from me and I stay clear of them.

Instinctively I did not alter my slightest movement. However after another heartbeat, before I peeked out from under my hat, Hero, our 9-month-old calf let out a familiar low, soft moo. Immediately calm replaced all my concern. His 600-or-so pound self had silently grazed up to about six feet from me and was eyeing me curiosly as he munched.

While I marveled over how much he’s grown in a week or two, I recalled Brother telling me if one sits still long enough, the calf will come close to investigate. That had been eight months ago. My next thought was whether this half-ton baby remembered me lassoing him a few weeks back. He was too calm for that and content to continue grazing close by me.

Then I wondered where Momma was, and if she remembers me bringing her flakes of hay and fresh water for the weeks the pastures rested. I felt no alarm or concern about anything but the tack weeds.

After a few more minutes there was no sign of the malefactors outside my bucket. I slowly stood and stretched, eyes still scanning over the grounds.

Hero watched from about three feet away by then, but didn’t startle or miss a nibble. Momma looked up for a moment but her head went right back down. Mare went right on munching inches from where I left her. The neighbor’s bull, by the way, continued laying on his side of the fence and the hot wires. I marveled at how I often have trouble seeing my computer screen clearly, and yet I can spot a fly by a cow’s eye or a tack weed from yards away.

Satisfied and sufficiently stretched for the day, I walked toward the gate. Mare bounced her head as I went on without her. That’s when I remembered Kendra telling me about one of her favorite summer memories; her laying in the pasture grass with her newly acquired mare’s head laying contentedly on her like a pillow.

As much as I adore the image, it made my heart ache a bit. Too many times I had to leave my treasures behind. I’m too familiar with that ache to not understand how Kendra misses being with her horse and chickens every day. Images of harder times flashed across my mind. But happy new memories are gradually replacing them.

I sent up a prayer for my friend’s peace and strength, asked that God continue to guard and guide my family, and I thanked Him for these peaceful moments and again for bringing me here.

What a delight being able to lose myself out in the open; to be unconcerned, unintimidated and unaware of anything but God’s presence and my 5 physical senses. A tear was slipping down my face when the adolescent rooster crowed – yeah, at noon, bringing my focus back to the present.

By then I was completely relaxed and content in the present time. I happily returned to my work.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.” Psalm 23:1,2 (NLT)

4 Comments

Filed under Longreads, Notes from the Apex

Cultivated

Remembering the women we were at the beginning of our friendship takes some work now. A grade school classmate of my husband, I met AgriGirl and her parents when two of her three children were in primary and pre-school. We bonded immediately.

Only one facet of our friendship ever troubled me; for a time we were the most amiable, personable, but uncontrollable gossips I know – just between the two of us no subject or person were untouchable.

After a couple of years of rehashing many social events together, I grew a conscious about some parts of our conversations – people’s private, intimate details. At that time my husband and I were separating so I wasn’t proud of that season of my life. A good friend, AgriGirl stayed close, doing all she could to lift my spirits and help me through. Even so, I began to wonder; if my kind, sweet, honest friend talked about other people’s deeply intimate, personal lives to me, why wouldn’t she talk about my present mess the same way to others?

Though our dirty little secret was ours alone, that profound revelation pierced my soul. For a while I could barely stand myself. Soon afterward I realized we were friends because we were so much alike and that I never carried our stories any further. Still, we both weeded out topics that weren’t meaningful, pruned and snipped what wasn’t uplifting or helpful. In a heartbeat we would turn a subject from Anyone-Not-Present to finding knanker bulbs,* and the former subject didn’t come up again. The difference made us even closer, better friends.

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James 1:26 (NLT)

Recently, thanks to our smart phones, AgriGirl and I caught up with the years since we last lounged away the afternoons on her beautiful, Mid-west deck. We shot photos and Pinterest tags back and forth so that I’m bursting with new ideas, much like old times. She’s talking about coming here to, well, talk and hang out. I can imagine she might need the visual of my life on the ranch to fully get her head around it.

I’m glad for the relationship AgriGirl and I cultivated over the years, that we can still chat for hours. Aside from politics, global events and our families in general we pretty much stick to discussing the two of us, reminiscing, what we’re doing now, comparing our project lists, bucket lists and our few dreams that haven’t come true – yet!.

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” Galatians 6:7 (NLT)

* Yes, Danny and DBDO readers, I made up the word 😉

Image courtesy of Pixabay

2 Comments

Filed under A Door Ajar

Passed St. Pat’s

No matter where in the world my siblings ever were, on St. Patrick’s Day we always celebrated our heritage, our family and our life together. ‘Tis tradition, don’cha know.

I admit, I did not celebrate this year, my first year back home. Three years ago, almost to the minute I’m now writing, my younger brother Seagh’s heart ruptured, he laid down his Harley, shook himself off and then walked into The Great Beyond. That moment changed everything.

We all adore our darling Seagh. Even as a small boy, he demonstrated extraordinary wisdom. We all came to depend upon him, especially when emotions ran rampant or hard times made our choices seem vague.

Over the years Seagh was always my greatest comfort, my touchstone, helping me make sense of the madness that seemed to be constantly lurking nearby.

 

 

After the years he roamed the globe he came home to the family and finally the ranch. For the brief season we were all here together I was entirely contented. I wanted us to stay together and to never leave.

But Seagh always knew something, saw something the rest of us missed. He insisted I stay close to our baby sister, Roan; “She’ll crash and burn without you.” Eventually I resigned to move on to Texas with her. Weeks later I understood why he sent me. Seagh already knew he too would be moving on soon.

Two years after his passing Roan and I were settled in Texas. Then I moved on again. We remain connected across the miles and continue on together – but differently now. Seagh dying when he did seemed to make the world a darker, sadder place and I couldn’t fix that.

It seemed.

Cole and Seagh 2012

Now Roan has Opal and her entourage in Texas. I am at home here at the ranch. I walk where Seagh walked along with Cole, Kendra and Eleven-Year-Old.

Sometimes I believe I can see the world as Seagh saw it. Very often I think I can see his unmistakable stance in the lot or where the patio used to be, one hand in a pocket, the other holding a mug, always taking in life deeply. Sure, I miss hearing him speak his few, pointed words daily. But I hear him.

I can’t conjure up his image on demand. But in the still, quiet of a peaceful day and in the midst of turmoil, I remember his words. When I don’t expect it, they come to me like rain on parched ground. Looking skyward, I soak them in, “You shouldn’t wonder about my soul. God and I are good now.”

Seagh’s death did not end him. Love lives on.

Absolutely.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. … And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1: 3, 6 (NLT)

For Seagh:

Feature Image courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello.com

17 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Stuffed

Late winter is my favorite season for baking. It warms the cottage while filling it with delightful aromas.

It was the last week of the month. With frozen, wet roads I had left the ranch only when necessary, so supplies dwindled. This is typical. I have seen hard times, so any day there is food is good and having choices is great! I take advantage of bargains and stock the freezer and pantry. Still, there was remarkable room in both.

That particular day I had to be especially creative. I was delighted to find all the makings for a pumpkin cheesecake pie – of all things! Hey, it includes all four food groups.

I gathered the ingredients and began making the crust. But when I went to roll out the dough I couldn’t find my rolling pin.

After exhausting every possibility I looked about for anything suitable for the task. Rolling the dough with a tall juice bottle, I mentally rummaged through lists of things I’d inadvertently left in Texas or Colorado last year.

I put the pie into the oven and began cleaning up. As I put things away I began to laugh. Without some extensive reorganizing I actually have no place for anything else. This cottage is stuffed full!

I know any time I need a rolling pin or baking sheets, I can walk 20 yards and borrow Kendra’s, but the situation made me deeply reflective.

Over my history I experienced some devastating losses. Yet, hard times taught three generations of my family to be resilient, flexible, inventive and most of all thankful for what we have.

It’s not my preference, but if I must I can fish and hunt. I know how to clean fish and dress out a deer, rabbit or fowl. More important, I adore growing vegetables and canning them.

Over the years, I learned to use a pair of forks or knives as a pastry cutter. A tall glass makes an adequate rolling pin as well as a cookie cutter. Since I needn’t make it anymore, a quart of yogurt provides me calcium and protein and a storage container as well. With friends I learned how to make cheese and delightful breads. Long ago, Moms passed their talents for making biscuits, tortillas and pancakes from scratch on to me. And hanging out with Kendra I recently learned to make candy.

Though some of my history is grievous indeed I’m glad for it all today. Because of hardships and heartbreaks, God and I are sufficient in all things. I am blessed indeed!

“I am not saying this because I am in need. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without.” Philippians 4:11, 12 (The Voice)

 

*Image courtesy of ABSFreePics

All other images courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello

8 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex