Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Saving the World

I love daisies. I love that they grow wild and free. I love that they serve no other purpose but to be beautiful and bring a little joy to our lives. One of my favorite movie lines is in "You've Got Mail" when Meg Ryan explains her love of daisies and how they are "so friendly". I agree completely, they are the friendlies flower.
This time of year, red clover and daisies are prolific along the highways here in southwest Arkansas. It actually makes that long 30-mile-trip to Wal-Mart a complete joy.
Today, I had to make a trip into town to enter some of my photography in the annual art show.
I was met with a most unpleasant sight. A sign that read "mowers ahead".

WHAT? They never mow this early! The daisies are just getting going! Aren't they supposed to wait till all the wildflowers go to seed?

I could feel my heart start racing as I approached the beginnings of the massacre. A huge swath of clover and daisies were cut down to nothing. I almost had to pull over. Then I saw the wretched beast that was devouring the helpless flowers. I called my mom, I called Rodney..."what should I do? what should I do?"
Rodney suggested that I march up to the court house, find the county judge and give him what for. Mom simply reiterated that they are NOT supposed to mow until the flowers go to seed.

I almost pulled over when I saw what looked to be the contractors truck. There were several men outside the truck holding WEED-EATERS and smirking cynical little grins. Knowing myself like I do, I knew that a confrontation with a weedeater-wielding, trucker-hat-wearing, daisy-mowing barbarian would, more than likely, bring me to a tearful fit and I would end up on the evening news.

The sad thing was that it was really too late to do anything about it. They were all but gone. Only the steep hillsides remained adorned. I was still in complete shock but had errands to run, so I focused on that. As I turned onto the road that lead to the art show building, there was a glimmer of hope. The ditches that lined the highway just before the turn hadn't yet been cut.
So I did what any logical person would do, I pulled over, jumped out of my car and yanked up as many daisies as I could. They were coming up by the roots fairly easily, almost as if they were screaming "save us, save us, the tractor is coming!" I made several little stops along the roadway, rescuing as many as I could. I'm not even sure if this is legal but I felt like those people that risk life and limb in order to save some endangered species.
By the time I got home with them, they were pretty wilted. I bounded from the car with all the urgency of an EMT and began digging furiously in the ground near my picket fence. I had been out there yesterday with my pick-axe preparing the soil for seeds, so the tools were there, I just had to do the work.
They look so pitiful, even turning from the camera as to not have their picture taken. Poor little things, the trauma they've been through.
I watered them in well and asked God to let them live.
The ones that were separated from their roots, I simply cut and put in a vase. My house already feels so much happier.
I am still thinking of at least calling to find out why in the world they were mowing so early. There were crazy thoughts of laying down in the flowers in front of the mowers. But I really really didn't want to be on the news.
I did my best and saved as many as I could. And, hopefully, I will enjoy year after year of springs filled with daisies adorning my picket fence.
Oh, please let them live.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Farm-Style Spa

When we were choosing all the options for my home (gosh, it's been 10 years ago) I clearly remember the option of getting an extra window in my bathroom. I really don't even remember what the other option was but that the clear, obvious choice, for me, was the window. The sales lady questioned my decision in a sort of are you sure you want to risk being seen in your bathroom kind-of attitude. I assured her that there was no way anybody was going to see me in my bathroom besides four-legged creatures, and I was sure they wouldn't mind.
I was so excited to be getting a tub too.
We lived in a fixer-upper in Huntsville that had two indoor-outhouses, only one of which had a tub and it was a sad, pitiful little tub. There were no knobs to turn on the water so we kept a pair of channel-locks nearby to twist the rods that stuck out of the wall. We were cave people. The experience of living in that house was God's way of growing me up and His way of making me appreciate the little things, like walls.

Although I have had this tub for nearly ten years, I haven't used it much. For one thing, I rarely take the time to have a soaking bath. For another thing, up until about a year ago, we had a water heater that wasn't nearly sufficient enough to fill the tub. I'm now, also, thankful for efficient water-heaters.

We have been told by fellow farmers, who have farmed their whole lives, "You either love it, or you hate it." I guess we must love it. We work hard, we get paid little and we certainly aren't living a cushy lifestyle. There are, however, some things that far outweigh any kind of monetary advantage. Things like taking a bath in the middle of the day just because you want to.
Even though I rarely use my tub, when I do... it is magical. It happened to be raining yesterday and I was stuck in the house. I needed a shower but then decided to just take some "me time" and give myself a little spa treatment. I got out my scrubby salts and mineral bath and was so thrilled that it just happened to be raining outside. One of my favorite things is to take a bath while it's raining outside and I'm about to tell you why.
I open up both of my bathroom windows so that glorious rainy air can infiltrate the whole room. The tub gets filled with extra hot water (thanks to my new water heater and the fact that there are no teenagers at home, sucking all of it up). Now my bathroom is filled with steam, rainy air and the sounds of frogs chirping, birds singing and the drip drip dripping on the leaves outside.
I told you the only people that would see me are the four-legged variety. Plus, these guys are mothers, they've given birth and suckled their young and have no preconceived ideas about beauty. They've never looked at women in magazines and felt inadequate. This is why I love them so, because they love me unconditionally...sometimes more than I would like.
So, at 1:30 in the afternoon, I'm soaking in the tub, feeling somewhat like a fairy bathing in the rain that has puddled on a leaf somewhere. At points, a breeze would float through the windows, cooling my hot skin, and I could swear that it was the beating of angels wings. Yes, there are some benefits to farming that far outweigh anything money could buy.

Then my bliss was interrupted by a phone call from Kyle. "Mom, I forgot my soccer uniform. Can you find it and bring it with you to the game. It's somewhere in my room."

And I'm back to reality again.
One more of my favorite things is drying off with a sun-dried towel. They are just so crispy and thirsty and, man alive, do they smell incredible. My spa treatment wouldn't be complete without being dried off in this fashion.

Even though my blissful afternoon was cut short, I was assuredly the most relaxed soccer mom at the game last night.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


When people asked me, at my birthday party, how old I was, I simply replied, "I'm not forty."

I love the fact that I was born in the spring time. For one thing it is when all the earth is re-born. It's kind of cool to share my birthday with flowers and trees and grass.

For another thing, my birthday gifts usually reflect the season.
Things like seeds, which were a gift from my very best friend. Not just any old seeds, but ones that were chosen to bring color and beauty into my life. No matter how many times I plant a seed, it never ceases to amaze me that you can place a tiny seed in the soil and that a beautiful flower will grow (or a vegetable or even a tree). Oh, yes...seeds are, indeed, a great gift.
My old hummingbird feeders finally pooped out on me last season. I have one left that is in pretty sad shape and didn't even put it out. Until I received this gift, there was fear that there may just be some hungry little birds peaking in my window wondering what gives. My heart wouldn't be able to bear that.

Spring is very good for birthdays.

I got this card from my Mamaw. It had forty dollars in it. I guess she didn't get the memo that I am not forty. My eyes did well up a bit when I read her inscription. She and I are bonded spiritually whether we want to be or not.
I got a beautiful journal from my Aunt Mary and Uncle Larry. I loved the fact that she saw it and thought of me and in reference to bible study. Don't you love it when you see something that makes you think of somebody you love? Don't you love it when somebody gives a gift because it made them mindful of you? I think this is the sweetest thing ever. How we can be going about our daily lives and we can hear or see something that makes us pause and think of a loved one. I think I'll make it more of a point to let people know when I'm thinking about them.
This is probably one of my favorite gifts ever. My Aunt Sandy made it. While A.D.D and disorganization may run rampant in my family, so does creativity. I'm apprehensive about hanging it outside even though she said it was weather-proof. It would be kind-of cool to allow a bird to live in it but, things being what they are in Arkansas, it's more likely to house a family of wasps.

Sandy also made this gift for me a couple of Christmas's ago. It's an actual egg that she cleaned and painted. I've always loved rabbits so she incorporated this into her painting. Isn't it fabulous? I'm supposing that this rabbit represents Rodney...
and this is me
and there we are working on our farm. Aren't we darling?

The crystal vase that the egg is sitting in is also one of my favorite gifts. It was a Christmas gift from my Aunt Judy about 15 years ago. It is the tiniest, sweetest little vase ever. But what makes it special is this; as she handed it to me she said, "you know how your babies pick you little flowers and you can never quite find anything small enough to put them in? This vase is for those flowers." I could weep. The vase has had many a tiny flower placed within it by sweet little hands, and every one was precious. The past few years, as the kids have become increasingly scarce around here, the vase has become a pedestal for this charming little egg. I will be looking forward to the day when once again, somebody picks me a tiny flower...maybe Eddie will.

Friday, April 16, 2010

An Empty Space

I had to make a change. Not because I was compelled by an inspiration of creativity, but because I was faced with a problem.

When I look at this photo, I'm so sad. I loved my canopy. I remember when I was about 8, I got my first canopy. The feeling of being in my own secret place was exhilarating. I felt quite like a princess. It just looks and feels so cozy and homey, doesn't it?

As much as I loved this canopy and as proud as I was of myself for fashioning and suspending it from the ceiling, it posed a big problem. A dirty one.

It collected dust. Not just a little dust, it was like a magnet, a force-field that drew in dust from every corner of the house. There were frequent dust bunny parties atop this crocheted platform. I could actually hear them sometimes, at night, relishing in their gaiety.

Combating the dust became quite a chore and I had to get really creative about doing it. Since the suspension of the canopy was so intricate, it was not feasible to take it down and wash it. So, I vacuumed it. I vacuumed it a lot. With the wand of the vacuum, I spent hours sucking those dust bunnies out of every crocheted nook and cranny. This caused more than a couple of visits to the chiropractor. And, the thing of it is, once I sucked up every last little bit of dust, it began to accumulate again. Heaven forbid anybody touch the thing for the whole room would be sprinkled with smut. So I was faced with a decision. Do I keep sucking up dust bunnies for eternity on this most inconvenient of places, or do I just take the darn thing down?

I took it down.

For weeks I barely even looked at the area when I went in and out of the room. I couldn't bear the emptiness of the space. It was as if something had died and I dealt with it in my own healthy way, denial.

The time came to deal with it and, today, I did.
Back in January, my Uncle sold the land in which my Grandparent's old house sat. The house was scheduled to be demolished and we were allowed to harvest whatever we wanted from it beforehand. I spent one afternoon over there with a crowbar and hammer pulling every last frame window out of that old house. That is another blog in itself.

I decided to put the windows to use over my bed. I'm sure they will collect their fair share of dust but it will be much less to care for and much easier to clean.

The room still seems so empty to me. The good news is that I've been set free from the bonds of dusting that old canopy. Freedom is much more important to me than looks. And I'm really hoping that when I get to heaven, I'll have a dust-free, canopy-covered bed.

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Burning Bush Experience

Do you guys know Sophie?

Here she is, one ear up and one ear down. That's her. She came to live with us right after we moved to the farm, so she has seen a lot of stuff. 10 years, it's been.

Before you start to worry, this isn't one of those sad, "My dog just died" blogs. Sophie is healthy as a horse.

Anyway, She has been a sweet family pet for a long time.
She has given birth to 3 litters of puppies. Most of which were given to family and friends as "samples", so we still are in close contact with a lot of them. Boy, this was a fun time. This was her last litter, the one that Charlotte came from.

It was Christmas, we had puppies, life was sweeeeet.
We couldn't get enough of them.

...and we were blessed with this quirky little freak with the big donkey ears. Lord have mercy she is precious.
Back to my story.

I've been struggling. Struggle struggle struggle. It seems like all I do lately is battle with myself. Depression, despair, self-loathing, frustration, disorganization, mess, muck. You know the scene in The Princess Bride with the old woman shouting "BOOOOOO...bow to the queen of slime, the queen of filth, the queen of putrescence. Slime, filth, muck..."??? I've played that over in my head. That's me, I'm the Queen of putrescence!!

Then, just when things seem bad, they get worse. I won't bore you with details but the "worse" has to do with farm and finance. I'm one of those people that needs to have security. I don't do well in uncertainty. I don't want to necessarily thrive, but I sure don't want to have to worry about how I'm going to buy groceries.

So I get really serious with God. I want some answers. Not just some kind of clue...no, I want a burning bush, I want a booming voice from the sky, I want a clear cut answer and right now would be good. God teaches me patience A LOT. So, a few mornings ago I was in really deep conversation with God and hoping for a revelation. I decided to go for a walk, leaving my iPod at home so I could just listen. Who knows, maybe I'll stumble upon a burning bush.

I was having a hard time thinking clearly, just feeling stressed and thinking about every little stressful thing. One of my traumatic incidences was with Sophie. I came home from Kyle's soccer game and entered into a house that stank, and I mean really bad. Now, I live on a farm, I deal with stink quite a bit but not in my house. The house may be messy a lot but it always smells nice. We had been spreading chicken litter on the fields for 2 days and, at first, I thought perhaps somebody tracked it in. I started hunting down the smell like a blood-hound and when I found it, I was LIVID. Apparently, Sophie found a little treat out in the pasture and rolled in it, smacked on it, laid in it, played with it, and got real good and stinky then proceeded to regurgitate some of it on my COUCH!!

Why on the couch Sophie? Why?

So, the couch had to be taken all to pieces. Luckily, most of it was on a quilt and only part of it on the upholstery and none had seeped through to the cushion. I washed the cushion covers (and was thankful for zippers) and hung them on the line to dry.

I was thinking about all of this while I was walking, still waiting for an answer. Then it came.

When I walk, all the doggies go with me. Actually, I don't go anywhere on the farm without my own, personal, little entourage of furry people. And, when they walk with me, they dart in and out of the woods smelling and searching for any little excitement. So as I was walking, thinking, waiting, Sophie darted out in front of me from the woods with a big sticker-vine stuck to her legs. This has happened more times than I can count.

Sophie, come here baby.
And she comes and sits and waits while I remove her restriction. Then, off she goes.

The answer was vague at first and became clearer and clearer. Here is what I heard in my heart (not from a burning bush...darn!)

You can roll in the muck, you can be in the deepest pit of sin and putrescence and I will still love you. It was your instinct to help that little dog with something minor even after she made you so mad, and I love you TIMES INFINITY more than that. What do you think could possibly keep me from you? I promised to never forsake you, I promised never to leave you. Remember all those times you were worried about money, about your kids, about your marriage and I worked all that out, didn't I? Don't worry. You just keep doing your job, do it well, do it with integrity and honor, and I WILL bless you. It may not come in the form of a healthy paycheck, but you will be blessed. I will remove every thorn from your soul and if I have to squeeze your flesh a little to do it, that is what I will do.

So I said, "alrighty then, I will let you have this."

Then, I guess God decided to just stick with the Sophie Theme and revealed something else today. A storm came through this afternoon. It is still raining glorious rain right now. There was some lightening and thunder and when this happens, Sophie sticks to me like glue. And I heard God speak into my heart..."when you get scared, like you are right now, you need to stick to me like nobody's business. When you start to stray from me, I will bring you back to me, even if I have to use fear as a motivator. Learn to depend on me child! You can't do all of this by yourself, your not super woman. Trust me, I've got this."

So, Sophie has been a little burning bush the past couple of days. I was a little disappointed that she didn't start speaking like Balaam's donkey but I got the message anyway. The future is uncertain but it is always uncertain isn't it? Depending on God to see me through the uncertainty is the lesson and I think I've got it now.