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Tail Spin

Last week I recognized another important reason winter here seems to drag on forever:

Izzy and the pack on clean-up day

Aside from the week between Scout suddenly going to rest and GoodGirl joining the family, I always enjoy a fine variety of canine company here on the ranch.

 

Throughout spring, summer and autumn, dogs accompany most of the people that visit for business as well as pleasure. Even strays seem to like pausing here.

Rescuing ChiuyTwo and SchnauzerOne in March livened up the tail-end of winter. And now Izzy’s grand-pup, YellowLab, joins our happy homestead at least once a week.

 

The packs happily explore the lots and pastures, ever vigilant for wayward tennis balls or Frisbees, while their humans go about whatever it is they do.

During the winter people tend to hunker down and for a while visits become rare. Long before spring I miss the dogs.

“No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.” Christopher Morley

Sure, dogs require a little more maintenance work and clean up, but they leave little room for regret or loneliness.

“God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:25 (NIV)

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Breathing

I imagine by late February just about everyone in this region and especially those in the northeast is very ready for longer, sunlit days and warmer weather. With the scantier rations of sunlight, rain, snowfall or wind, my moods chnaging with the winds used to worry me.

But this year is different. I notice the changes all around me and within me, but I’m not the least bit concerned.

No, I haven’t stoked the last fire of the year yet – our days of warm temperatures in early February took a dive again. Now in this second week of March, with warm mid-days and more evidence of spring nearby, I’m a little reluctant for winter to end.

I know, some people just won’t just be satisfied.

Lately I’ve been relishing the light shows on my walls and ceilings. I enjoy the warm energy surging through the rooms, the roar of the fire and golden waves flickering in the chrome of the bikes at the far end of the room – all cast from the safety of the wood stove. Though I failed to capture the lights on camera, I doubt I’ll ever forget them.

Rain fell overnight so this morning a little puddle greeted me from where it dried on the gray-streaked red floor. In my reflection I saw a stronger and gentler young woman smiling up at me. Today it’s funny how the occasional puddles bothered me when I first arrived here. I was upset after an extension cord shorted the outlet nearest the door (but not the treadmill). And I recall the frustration after none of my quick fixes stopped the leaks.

Now I simply roll with brother Cole’s grand plan that will not only stop the water leaking in, but will let more light into the cottage. For now I’m okay with an occasional extra mopping. Besides, I can wait to resurface and re-stain the concrete floors – until Cole and I can agree upon a color.

While circumstances aligned so Cole could bring me back to the ranch, I used to dream about how I would redesign the cottage. The funny thing about dreams is how little time influences them. The dream was far different during the first year-plus since I returned. People and livestock have come and gone, inventory shifted, projects reached completion and new ones began. The weather wasn’t all that was fairly brutal that first year. This year I welcomed winter.

Though the cold has worn old and I continue to look forward to upgrades and improvements around the cottage, I am comfortable and content.

At least every week something else about these surroundings, this time and place resound like peaceful chords through my soul – the soul that arrived here bruised and weary. For this season I freely breathe. I also weep, heal, laugh and dance. And I rest as one-by-one I lay my old burdens down.

God is the best dance partner!

“For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.  … Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:11, 13 (NIV)

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Two Joys

During the winter months, with firing up the wood stove, ashes, muddy floors and extra hours of darkness there are always additional tasks and chores waiting. I probably like a clean house a little more than is healthy, so I can easily dig myself into a rut indoors.

Still, when the calendar tells me spring is near I force myself outdoors every day, regardless of the weather.

Today my reward has been two-fold:

I found buds on the bulbs that began shooting up weeks ago – a very welcome addition of color to neutral winter shades.

Then I stopped to feel the sunshine warm me deeply. This is huge for me – normally I can quickly feel anxious being still – especially in the yards.

But over the winter God daily urged me to rest and let Him do His job (running the universe). As the sun rose over the treetops illuming the bulb bed the words from our predawn time together resounded through my soul:

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30:11, 12 (NLT)

After a while I skipped down the driveway singing aloud. No first responders were involved.

Be blessed and pray it forward!

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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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