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Chop Chop

This morning Cole popped in earlier than usual. He spouted his routine list of matters that may or may not interest me – I’d think about that later. Then satisfied he’d sufficiently set my head spinning, he and Ol’ Dog departed, headed for town.

I now wonder if I should make a mental health appointment. I actually enjoyed the intrusion.

This morning Cole reminded me of when Seagh, Roan, Opal and I occupied the main house. As John Denver put it, coming home to a place I’d never been before. Cole lived in the cottage with his entourage at that time.

Every morning I’d already be working on my laptop in the living room when the sliding door would open, Cole would enter, loudly announcing, “Let’s go! There’s work to do. Get to it! Chop, chop!” Comically Cole is the youngest (aside from Opal).

Roan and Seagh practiced ignoring him even when he continued down the hallway toward the bedrooms without pausing his oration. On the latter occasions I would hear from my chair,

“Sleepin’ here!!” from Roan who’d worked the night shift,

I have a gun…” usually followed by a muffled chuckle from Seagh, or

“Dammit Cole!” from Opal as she’d bounce on the carpet in the tangle of blankets he’d pulled from the bed (my personal favorite).

Satisfied that he’d sufficiently roused everyone, Cole would stride back out the door once more commanding, “Chop chop!” and he’d be off. Of course other suggestions would continue sounding from behind the doors, but I abstain from such language – mostly.

Roan (after graveyard shift), Cole mocking her.

As when we were young, for that season we were a little like kids again. Most evenings we’d lounge together watching TV, critiquing, overdubbing or arguing about details. On weekends and holidays there were card games and howling at the moon by a bonfire. Occasionally the youngsters would dance to local bands at the nearest pub while I caught up on my reading.

Most mornings whoever was home would share the quick, hot breakfast and strong coffee I’d prepare, usually Seagh’s favorites. Seagh often brought in a friend or hired hand to the table. Some days Cole would come home on his break and share breakfast with Seagh. I would realize later that Cole was as concerned as me about Seagh’s more and more frequent late mornings.

Home.

The characters have moved around a bit but it’s still home. Although Seagh’s gone on to heaven I still hear his unique, laconic humor and advice. And the longer I’m here the more I understand his devotion to Cole.

Despite the heartbreaks that come with even the most perfect life, this morning I’m warmed by our brand of love and so many precious memories. With all that, who has time to be lonely? C’mon. Chop chop!

“Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults.” 1 Peter 4:8 (The Voice*)

 

Rocky Mountain High, by John Denver

*The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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Spidey Sense

My first thought, aside from “yikes!” and “gross!” was “what does a spider crawling across the comforter on my bed say about my life?”

I’d been wrestling with a less-than-happy attitude for about an hour when I’m certain the Holy Spirit answered me, “Really? Cole warned you about spiders in the firewood… to only bring in enough for each day. Doesn’t it kinda sound like the manna thing?*”

Yeah, they both said that. I listen vigilantly to God and mostly heed Cole’s advice about life on the ranch. Except for on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

I don’t gather wood on Sunday and try to rest on Wednesdays, my day off. So, like the Hebrews gathering manna*, I depend upon dispensation to stack up on Saturdays (and Tuesdays).

I’m careful to pound each piece of wood on the chopping stump to evict any inhabitants, dirt, bark and sometimes ice. I also vacuum clean the apartment thoroughly, paying particular attention to every square inch around the entire wood stove area daily   every other day  at least three times a week.  Yep. Today I’m amazed and slightly convicted by how time flies between cleanings.

I reminded God about my request for a housekeeper. After I noticed my jeans are tighter I asked Him to ignore that previous request. He knew all along I need the activity.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my joints already complain about the cold. This translates to lighter lifting but more reps and extra laps around the property, so I integrate hauling firewood into my workout. Today I noticed marvelous web work all over the property (except for in the chicken yard). Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

So, I’m thinking the spider on my comforter says my home is warm, welcoming and hospitable – provided you’re not a creepy crawler. Oh, and I live on a ranch. There will be spiders. Deal with it.

My new Spidey Sense has me daily voicing my appreciation and gratitude. I thank God for my perfect home (however rustic or unfashionable), good health, God’s constant care and His provision for my family and me. I do this happily as I wipe away soot, beat the upholstery and sweep the undersides, check every nook and cranny as I go and every morning and evening I shake out the layers of winter bedding.

Oh, and I trust God to reveal any covert indoor spider plans for the holidays.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 (ESV*(c) )

 

*Exodus 16:16-22

Spider-Man figure image courtesy of Taboadahdez at Pixabay

Web images courtesy Pixabay

*English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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Gibbs Smack

After the best Thanksgiving Day (all things considered), this morning I found myself having a tizzy fit. I don’t shop on Black Friday, so…

Usually by Thanksgiving Day here we can expect a light snow, rain, and Foehn or Chinook winds that keep the cold in check. This year it’s unseasonably warm.

So on Wednesday, though it was in the mid 50’s outdoors, my oven heated the cottage to 80 degrees.

Much more comfortable with the door open and fans running, I blasted Pandora mixes and danced around my kitchen like a boss. All the food prepared, ready to eat and/or deliver around dusk, I was ready for a quiet, relaxing weekend, just the Holy Ghost and me.

But this morning some buzzing at nearly every window stole my attention from my steaming chai latte and my reading. And if that wasn’t enough, the tiniest flying insect ever violated the airspace between my face and my screen.

Lemme just say here, coming in I realized that flies would challenge me. Horses within 50 yards of the doors, cattle nearby, dogs, numerous amazing-mouser felines, the oh-so-entertaining chicken house and compost piles – there will be flies. In case I never mentioned this before, the absence of flying insects is one of my favorite aspects of colder weather. Again, this year’s weather is unusual.

So, this morning I began to wonder if flies had contaminated the food I labored over… but I resisted that brand of crazy and read on:

“One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating…” Mark 7:1,2

“So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”” Mark 7:5 (NLT)

It’s a good story. But I admit:

in moments the buzzing captivated me again. Minutes later I was fully suited up, armed with flying insect spray, swatter, jump suit, goggles, mask, and hat…  With that I fully engaged.

A dozen or so casualties later, in the entire 800-plus square feet, two POWs were trapped between the screen and the sliding window and one eencie-teencie flying pest remained free. I showed him. I closed the laptop, got a hard copy Bible, another cup of chai and returned to what I’d been reading before the attack.

I’m not gonna lie here, though the near silence was nice (the POW’s were exercising their escape plan) – I was slightly annoyed by the smell of the insecticide. After a few minutes I put the mask back on (adding drops of eucalyptus and chrysanthemum oils).

I read on,

“Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.” Mark 14, 15 (NLT)

 

 

These days more than ever before God’s generous, extravagant love amazes me. In the middle of studying the Master, the greatest Love of all teaching us, I had allowed my pet peeve to distract me and trip me up. And yet, He waits patiently until I returned to Him.

Unlike some bumbling, often well-meaning mortal/earthly fathers, instead of a rod or a Gibbs Smack, I now get a gentle hand. God grabs my attention and turns my head toward what really matters – no humiliating slap in the face. Flying insects aside – mostly – not even my wandering heart can separate me from God’s love.

So, now that I laid that burden down, what pet peeve can you whip into shape today?

“But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried over all these details! There is only one thing worth being worried about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41, 42 (NLT)

 

Roasted Butternut squash with pomegranate and citrus recipe courtesy Sangheeta Pradhan

NCIS Video clips courtesy YouTube

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One Week – Walk #21

Among Southeastern Washington State’s many attributes I adore its variety.  We have variety in variety. Routine quickly becomes tedium in my apartment, so this climate suits me.

The photos from the same week suggest spring, summer, fall and winter – and it’s barely mid fall.

7 days into my fall garden box:

Sweet Alyssum popping up between the fallen leaves:

Ducks ducking out on the Columbia River:

The Blue Bridge over the Columbia River from Columbia Park Trail ( Columbia River images (c) courtesy Julie Wetherby used by permission):

Yep. Snow.

Late morning sunlight glaring from the frozen tarps on the wood bins …

…before the rain returned…

Rain don’t bother Chex – photo taken from indoors ;>

Happy Walking, Bloggers!

“As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” Genesis 8:22 (NLT)

 

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Spoiler Alert: Headless

I’m not talking about horror or any kind of intellect here. I’m talking about loving life at home. And suppertime.


Happy Halloween y’all.

 

“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” Psalm 37:3,4 (NLT)

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Wonder – Walk #15

The world is indeed wonderful.

Looking at the beautiful bull in the next pasture, I wonder about their mean reputation. He can nap anywhere in his pasture, but he likes lounging, practically nose to nose with our calf (the wire fence between them), naturally Momma stays very nearby .

The sweet, beautiful bull next door.

 

Ewe, the bull and a lamb.

 

Girlfriend willing me to open the gate

 

After Pepper passed through the open gate, the hot wire dragging her back, to get to the fresh, green grass, I didn’t have the heart to bring them back in.

 

The four-month-old “Rockers” thanking me for the fresh greens.

 

Ever vigilant “Dog” keeping watch.

I also wondered why all the goats are gone from the neighbor’s pasture. Then again, they had a huge barbecue last month. 😉

 

“O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.” Psalm 104:24 (NLT)

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Late March Moon – Walk #12

Dawn broke despite my slumber.

I rose and bolted, then watched the moon lumber.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ran to catch up with the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I stopped; some clouds swept the moon away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apologies, verse and images by E.V.A. Lambert (c) 2017 Rapture Practice! Publications

“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

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Avalanch

20170202-south-view1

I’ve been home here in the northwest, without cable and reliable internet for a few months now. It’s taken some adjusting, forcing me out of habits and especially my comfort zones. With the local library, a $10 antenna, new cell device, changing my cell service carrier and careful timing, it’s working – at least until the landscape melts. I’m not gonna lie, I miss spending hours a week interacting with my family, friends and fellow bloggers on line.

And with the exceptionally hard winter I’ve taken some hits. Falls, colds, joint aches, some tendinitis, bursitis on top of my new, stylish gait from fracturing my coccyx (Hey! I got to say it again). At one point I considered what being trapped in an avalanche felt like. The next morning I realized I was complaining, aloud, actually whining at my mirror, “Really? Aren’t we done with this crazy cold yet?”

Was it me I recall saying, “I adore the four equal seasons here. Just about the time we wonder if the heat or the cold will ever let up, Bam! it does?” Yeah. I said it. Often. Coming home to the old, familiar climate that suits me best was what I looked forward to most. Not. This. Winter.

“Do everything without complaining and arguing,”*

Convicted, I was more determined to 1) stop whining, and then look for new ways to get through challenges. As I groaned zipping my jeans I thought about eating better. I’m kinda big on eating well, so this would take more than merely adjusting my diet.

I began by turning off the TV, radio, Kindle, CDs, setting aside books, newspapers and all other distractions at mealtime and while dining. Immediately I not only spared myself the smells and waste from scorching or burning my food while multitasking, but I honestly became more fully aware of my many blessings. I enjoy the challenges of “saving” a recipe, but not needing to is way better.

After a few days I noticed I ate less and enjoy food more. Soon, my jeans fit more comfortably again; remarkable after weeks without power walks and workouts while I heal. Okay, that’s mostly to avoid treacherous snowbanks, snow and ice avalanching from the rooftops.

20161210_badger-cyn

We’re not actually snowbound – now. Despite dark, overcast skies for days on end, the sun teases now and then lighting up the sparkling, pastoral scenery surrounding me. Life is indeed beautiful. After months of frozen white everywhere I’m determined to enjoy the beautiful quiet. And be very ready for spring.

Excuse me a minute while I check the furnace wood stove.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

*Philippians 2:3 (NLT)

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Experience

grandpas-hatchet

Helper, Captain Morgan at the helm.

Captain Morgan at the helm.

I laid awake most of the night, tormented over breaking Cole’s old Coleman hatchet. Yeah, the one I hammered into a wet, rather green log until the head broke – right at the notch (so handy for pulling nails from construction wood).

 

The upset tortured me while I should have been sleeping. All. Week. Long.

Cole was completely cool about it. I systematically timed telling him I’d broken the hatchet he’d given me on our first cold morning here. The moment arrived as I presented him with a fine, shiny-new, Estwick Sportsman hatchet with all the bells and whistles.

I rarely get to give Cole anything of value. I was initially giddy until I jokingly said the words, “the hatchet you gave me… …worn out…” and “…broke.” Instantly his entire demeanor changed dramatically – merriment abandoned my presentation. His words, “…my grand pa’s hatchet… he’d used it for years…” shot the loss and hurt straight through me too.

I get it: My siblings and I inherited very few, mostly valueless, common things from our parents. Those humble heirlooms are precious to each of us. Destroying something invaluable from Cole sickened me.

After weeping privately I texted him “I’ll make it right somehow,” (forgetting he was working in town). I’ll never forget his immediate reply: “Oh stop it-only made me sad for a min-it has done its job for a long time.” And then moments later he texted he’d gotten more wood to get me through while the grove is still snowed under.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” *

While I may annoy Cole with more words than he prefers, I learn from him. Things like his grandfather – who cut wood into his nineties with that old model, Coleman hatchet are important to us both. Had I known, I would have retired the Coleman and bought the new ones immediately.

The experience stung us both, but to me it revealed the character beneath Cole’s cast iron veneer. He is a treasure indeed. I hope for more, far less painful lessons.

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

*Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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The Stihl of the Night

wood-pixabay

**

Sunday night Cole was plowing after dark. Although I typically avoid working on Sunday, I pulled on my boots to help shovel the pile-up from the walkways. Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Almost immediately Cole passed between my cottage and the shop. As he went, he called to Kendra and me, “Let’s build a bonfire!” – long after dusk on a work night. Crazy. Right?

icy-snow

We often enjoy bonfires at parties or on a relaxing evening after a hard day’s work. But not in 9 degrees and wind with a foot or so of snow. And it was late.

Cole and Kendra also know I typically retire early in the evening. I’m not literally an insomniac. Still, turning my brain off takes hours, so I typically “rise and go to roost with the chickens.”

As we shoveled Kendra shared that Cole had mentioned cutting wood earlier. I’m ashamed to admit my next thoughts were how I’d told him the day before I’d cut all the wood I could with my little chain saw – that he gave me for Christmas. He’d responded saying he’d go to the grove the following day, bring in more wood, split some logs and start up the big Stihl saw.

Another job came to the shop, so that didn’t happen. And then it snowed – yet again.

As Kendra and I worked I realized some other important facts:

  • The main house where they live has forced heat and air. Their wood burning stove is essentially aesthetic, more for ambiance. They don’t need wood for heat. I do.
  • For several consecutive days Cole spent hours on the tractor moving snow from the lots and the driveways. We all appreciate a path to the pastures.
  • Cole and Kendra team up to ensure I have all I need: heat, transportation, food, companionship and even hugs.

pepper-snow

Fortunately, before shooting off my mouth without engaging my brain, I realized Cole was looking out for me. Sure, he teases me saying, “You’ve been sheltered too long. You’re spoiled.” Cole actually doesn’t know better. He sees me today with all my “quirks” – not the scarred and torn Former Me. As Kendra said, “translated that actually means, ‘I have your back, Sister.’ ”

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.*”

Daily I thank God for my whole family. While Cole’s manners and personality can sometimes be annoying, Kendra is his soft side. We have shared some rough times together.

Four years ago, with my sister, brother and niece, we were all a family here together on the ranch. Cole, Kendra and the boys occupied what’s now my cottage and the loft. And then all our lives changed forever; Roan and I were barely settled into our apartment in McKinney, Texas when Cole called. Without warning Cole’s best friend, Kendra’s favorite neighbor, my precious kid brother suddenly, unexpected died here.

Jan 26, 2014 5 a.m. Opal, Roo, Seagh, Roan, Cole, Kendra

Jan 26, 2014 5 a.m. Opal, Roo, Seagh, Roan, Cole, Kendra

Yes, life goes on. Still, Seagh is such a huge part of our lives we all miss him – daily. We all occasionally see him in our peripheries. We need never explain those moments.

Initially Cole was my brother vicariously through Seagh. Though he knows comparatively little of my history, today Cole’s close as a brother. In his life Seagh called three men his brother; one is by blood, one a friend from his youth and then Cole. Kendra’s become a sister.

Sunday night was a reflective occasion, only it didn’t hurt as much. Because of Cole and Kendra I was only mildly concerned taking the last of the cut wood early that same morning. At the time I had no idea exactly how much the full wood box would actually comfort me that night.

God blessed me with many brothers and sisters and good friends. Though I miss many of them often, especially Seagh, Cole and Kendra have my back – daily.

I’m glad to see I “Stihl” have room to grow into a better person.

Have your circumstances forced you to grow where you didn’t realize you could?

It’s -3 degrees this morning. With this crazy weather the crib’s almost empty again. No problem, we got this.

“And my God will supply every need of ours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (ESV)

*James 1:27

**Image courtesy Pixabay

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