Tuesday, January 31, 2017


It is the final day of January 2017.
It is day 13 for Jerome.
It is day 6 for me.
In the early days, illness. Days of fatigue and discomfort. And finally an unrelenting nuisance. The winter head cold/flu bug. Such a bore.
What's good about it?
When we were working folk we'd have to, as our son says, put our game face on and get the job done.
Now, we can be gentler with ourselves.
(Mantra: I will feel better. Winter will pass.)
And in the meantime?
Scroll through those garden photos and believe again.

Simmer a pot of soup, to clear the sinuses, feed the soul.
Watch favorite old films, laugh, cry.
Nap. Nap again.

January has been nearly sunless. Its muddy thaw has given way to a thick blanket of new snow. We take turns feeling well enough to visit the chickens and Jerome has done a heroic job of clearing snow for us, for them.

Despite the lack of direct sun the noticeable increase of daylight has impacted egg production. Most noticeable are the return of araucana eggs.

Just a few of the hens are still rebuilding their feathers after their first deep molt. They look wonderfully well. Even on the coldest days you can feel their body heat through your gloves when you hold them close. What they have contributed to our lives cannot begin to be put into words.
For them and for the wild birds I am so very grateful.
And the first month of the new year draws to a close.
Winter will pass.
I will feel better. I do already.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Mother Nature has been having her way with us in SW Wisconsin, and as a result we have been mostly housebound. Many days the ice made walking to and from the chicken house a risky venture.

Lately it has been fog and mud. I miss the sun.
We've finally removed the last of the outside Christmas decorations. Always, always Dovey takes her roll as supervisor very seriously.

Being housebound has its advantages to be sure. I'm spending lots of time in the kitchen keeping our physical fires stoked. Jerome, who is active on the antique tractor club Facebook page, just couldn't resist posing a recent lunch to share on his page.

(The miniature tractor was a gift from the man who sold Jerome his his first two cylinder tractor, a 1947 John Deere B.)
Beef barley soup is just the thing. It's full of vegetables and  I'm happy to say some of them are from last season's garden.
Another advantage of being inside most of each day is lots of time in my sewing room. My quilt guild is running a season long challenge of personal round robins. I described the project in an earlier blog posting. Here you can see some of the progress I've made on each.

The pineapple block now has its second border, sawtooth.

The 8 point star has been given two coping strips and then a few chevrons on each of the four sides. I am now working on appliqué ideas as the second border motif. I'm playing with this round, a nice break from the fussy requirements of piecing the other borders.
Unfortunately, our guild meeting for January had to be cancelled due to ice and fog. An email arrived announcing that the two borders for the third round are flying geese and piano keys. I've never done any of these and find it all a good workout for my little grey cells and actually quite good fun.
In the evenings I still like to do handwork so I don't feel totally guilty about spending time in front of the tube. I've just finished a cross stitch piece that required every lamp in the living room turned on. Working on black cloth is not easy!

This little book of cross stitch designs has an inscription in the front inside cover which reminded me that I bought the book at Half Price Books while visiting Anne and Matthias in the Cleveland area years ago. There are so many lovely patterns included. Since finishing this one I'm working on others in a series that are done on a light ground, thank goodness,
Two of my seed orders arrived in the mail yesterday. It'll soon be time to sow the onions and leeks. Joy! Rapture!
A winter storm is on its way so I best be about tending to last minute things.
Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

delights of january

Have you noticed that dusk is falling a wee bit later each day?
Has your mailbox become a treasure chest of seed catalogs? Are you "plant dreaming deep" ?

Are your beloved orchids and cactus, geraniums and amaryllis, begonias and african violets smiling on you with buds and blossoms?

As you close the books on 2016 have you found joyful ways of using last year's calendars?

Are hearty soups and from scratch breads and biscuits your go to dinner fare?

Do the snow-covered fields and a full moon help you see forever across the landscape in the middle of the night?
Always wonderful but ever more precious in deep winter.
Rejoice and be glad with me, my friends.

Monday, January 2, 2017

be not afraid

And so I find myself on the other side of the holidays. So many good moments with family and friends. So much to be grateful for.

Between Christmas and the new year I visited my siblings in Illinois. Five of the 7 of us were sitting around the dinner table. Nineteen years separates the eldest from the youngest. I am third in the birth order and my two older siblings were there, as well as the two youngest.
We had been given a box of old photographs by a cousin who was thinning out her mother's collection. There were many photos of the three of us oldest when we were very young and many of the cousins too. We enjoyed trying to identify who and where and when. Nearly all of the photos had never been seen by my younger brother or sister. People they didn't recognize and places they hadn't been or were too young to remember.
Naturally our conversations included memories only the eldest of us shared. One such memory caused me to say that I was always so easily scared as a child, quickly brought to tears. And that I still felt some of that fear much of the time today. Almost as one those around the table responded in disbelief. Then someone asked how a scaredy cat could live alone on a farm for nearly three years.
I brought these thoughts back with me and have been turning them over and over in my mind.
And so,
for 2017 my polestar will be "Be not afraid."
Fear is a thief. Fear is a disabler. Fear cripples creativity. Fear causes dis-ease and therefore impacts every breath you take. Fear causes you to wear a mask of pretense.
Fear is a choice.
And I refuse to choose it.