Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year (Said while gritting my teeth!)

Happy New Year!  

I mean that really..... Maybe because I am on my second pot of coffee... Yes, you read that right.. the second POT!!!  Not cup.

2015 (which was following 2014 that wasn't very nice to us) needed to be welcomed in with a pot of coffee!  Or two...

Quite possibly 3....

I will pay later for all that acid burning a hole in my stomach! 


Yesterday I posted this to my personal FB page:

2014... I wasn't going to post anything.. but.... As I sit at the computer to order a new bread machine.. because ours just cried out in unfixable pain... I must.... 

Dear 2014... you were the worst year of my life... Seriously... You brought illness and disease and pain and death to our family. You required more of me then I was willing or able to give. More things broke or needed repair then in any other year. You sucked away very precious time from me, that I will never get back... You kept the punches coming even while I was begging for them to stop! 

It wasn't till my Savior stepped in at my plea's for help that you gave it to me full force.... But by then it was to late. The force field was up and I was once again captured and protected. 

So even though you gave it your all...... I am still standing! Even though I am pretty sure.... 2015 isn't looking much better. I will continue to move onward towards the goal. 

Dear 2015, You can find me at the corner of Saved and Grace clutching on to my bible while praying. Pretty sure you will have to take a number and wait in line. 

You are both warned.... I read the last chapter.... I know who wins!!! And I am always carrying.

While I meant every word... I realized by some of the messages that a lot have no clue what it was really like being me in the year of 2014.  And while I share a lot... I don't share everything.

I know you are stopping right now and gasping with the look of "There's more that goes on in your life??"

Kind of like, "How do you have time for MORE??"

If we were sitting around a table having a cup of coffee I would totally agree with you.  There isn't time for more. 

There really isn't!

This morning I woke up to all the "welcome 2015 posts" and I actually sat and read the one's coming through my feed.  Sometimes I skip them.  Because focusing on others and doing the 'why not me' game is down right depressing. 

I sit here today with a neck that will not move.  for the last 3 days.  It happens from time to time.. But never for this long.  I know, it won't last forever, but the pain can be unbearable at times.  And while I start to whine and play the why me game, I remember my friends that have much worse permanent issues and pains then I do.

And that grounds me into being thankful for the neck ache.

And reminds me to sit up straight.

This year started out to be promising.  Hubby was on the path to starting a new job.  Same line of work but in a new area.  And that was looking out to be a blessing.  God was totally at work in our lives and we were excited.  Even to the point of the first test in the process being physical and watching God literally carry my man through it all.  What happened this year was a blessing.  Painful blessing but a blessing.

I never voiced it out load because in my past every time I voiced what I wanted, Satan would swoop in and crush it.

So imagine my surprise when 4 weeks before he was to start the rigorous part of his job (a training like no other) he suffered a work injury that appeared to be knocking him out of the running.  

This is where good medical care comes in to play.  All the research we were finding stated that this was a several month long recovery, if that.  It could have knocked us over the edge.  If we let it.  But we did what came naturally to us. 

You see, since we have been together, rarely does anything go our way.  You see us arm in arm dancing in the store and you have no idea the pain we are suffering from our kids each singly trying to break us up. 

Or the pain of the ex's taking us back to court for more custody time or money.  Or the suffering from the stress of our jobs... 

I could literally go on.  But happiness is what we choose.... That and dropping to our knee's.

So this time we spent more time on our knee's!  We did not pray for God to heel... Or God to do what we wanted.  We simply prayed for God's will....

For I do not want to do ANYTHING that you are not blessing and wanting us to do.  You lead the way Father.  You show us the door and we will walk through it.. You lead the way and we will give it our all. 

To say we prayed hourly would be an understatement.   Prayer was constant.  Even while we were sitting in the Doctors Office waiting for the occupational doctor to come in to the room we were praying. 

Sit down.... Before you read the rest....

In walks the doctor.  He is a prior Navy Seals AND their prior Doctor!  What he was doing in this small town working in this exact office with the first available appointment for Hubby to see him... is a total God thing!!!  To top it off.. he was a strong Christian and that was when I started crying...

Because sitting in that room... I felt God pouring love all over us... running down us and between our clutched fingers holding on to each other.. God was making it known to us that Hubby would continue. 

The Dr spoke words of encouragement and pain... "I see no reason why you won't be able to perform what needs to be done... but you will be in pain the entire time.  You can do it!  It will hurt like hell but I don't believe you will have any more damage then what you have now." 

And that set us on the path of physical therapy appointments and home therapy and icing and essential oils and prayers and......

My world stopped to take care of the man that I loved and get him as healthy as we could. 

The day he drove out of the driveway to start his new position, to take the pass or fail exam, was excruciating.  To say I trusted God to take care of him... was a total understatement. 

I spent most of that month flat on my face... on the carpet, on the linoleum, in the garden dirt, and even the concrete in the shop.  My best half was gone for a month and I knew he was in pain while going through the most intense training he would ever go through. 

It felt as if no one could possibly understand but my God.  And all I wanted to do was sit with him curled up at his feet in tears till my man came home. 

What I did, however, was run electrical and tape and texture the studio.  Planted and seeded the garden and.... entertain his sister that came for a visit while my in-laws were moving up here to be closer to us. 

I was busy! 

So there was house shopping and dinners cooked and plans to be made and in the middle of it all.... 2 days with the man of my dreams...

He walked in the door for his 2 day visit and I fell into his arms.  He winced at the pain... Bruises covered his body all shapes and sizes and one that took up most of his thigh.  Those 2 days we didn't leave the land. 

He came home for 4 months to start the training process... during that time of changes was when we discovered his mother's cough was getting worse and as she wheeled in for a biopsy we learned she was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. 

2 months after they moved up here... House has just closed and she has lung cancer.. and the next week we find out she has cancer throughout her body.  She is slammed into Chemo.  And hubby has to go back to away schooling. 

For 6 weeks! 

During this 6 weeks we discover another member of the family has to have surgery.  We are still waiting for that one to take place.  It won't be as easy as everyone believes it will.  I had the (can I even say this) honor of being their when the bad news was delivered... And I keep quiet.  Because I respect people being adult enough to make their own decisions.  And while you and I might do one thing..... We can't make that choice for someone else.  So I pray.

During this same time I learn of a dear friend having issues with her love doing things to one of their children he shouldn't.  I watch a marriage ripped apart and am not even close enough to sit on her couch and have a cup of coffee with her... So in her honor I drink a pot of coffee and weed the entire yard while praying for her.  

At the same time I get a call that a friend of mine, whom I have never met, but know through another website that I ran.... is dying.  She has lost her fight with breast cancer.  We always talked of meeting.  I was waiting for her to come visit her family in the town next to us.. But she never made it.  So I dropped everything, my parents took over the basic 'feed the animals daily just to keep them alive' chores and I hopped in the car to see her.  Hubby still in school, I made it there in time to see her.  But not in time to have a conversation with her.  She passed away before I even made it home.  

I am pretty sure I could tell you the exact moment God took her.... The whole way back I was praying for her not to be in pain.... Till I felt the words "She isn't".  It's hard to drive in California when you are going 75+ legally on the roads over there.  So I turned up the music and just started praising God for His goodness and love and mercy and strength.

That next morning as I was taking the last few hours of my journey I snuck onto campus at the school my man was at and got the hug that I longed for.  I do not do well without his touch.  So with 4 hours of sleep I climbed out of the bed and got back on the road with the hope I would have a chance to see him.  Even if it was for 3 minutes. 

It was the best 3 minutes of my summer!

It was during the summer that I hated FB... Watching each of our kids destroy their lives as they go through the young adult stage of growing up..... was much easier on parents when it wasn't plastered all over your FB walls.  So with much prayer and pain.. I deleted them, while I love them.. I felt it was best to let them do what they were doing in peace... I can't stand to watch them destroy themselves.. and since they are old enough to not have to listen to me... I took the route of praying for them... Constantly... and not watching their every move towards what I felt was their destruction.

It was hard.. but in the end.. I am much happier.. and watching God restore them into beautiful young ladies that they are.. I can love on them when that happens without knowing everything they did.  They can call me and tell me what they want me to know about them... and I don't know anything other then that..

Parents should not know everything their kids do once they leave the house..

I got further and further behind in my farm chores.  I totally believe I was crazy in ordering and raising chicks while I was going to be spending the summer alone!  But even crazier to add a new dog to the mix that disrupted my entire schedule. 

Including ripping out one by one each seedling of Rutabaga and Parsnips that I planted for our winter crop!  I saw him.... Standing in the planter... pulling each one by his teeth up.....

But he stays... because Maggie is eating and happy with him.. So he stays.

Hubby comes home finally and gets to really start his work.  What he loves.  We start trying to get back into a new routine when my own parents call that they are having to put down one of their dogs... To cancer. 

We head out just after that for a 10 hour long tour to find the perfect new rescue dog for mom.  Ellie joined the family, only for it to fall in love with Dad.  

Shortly after that, I got the next call.. that they are having to put down their other elderly dog.  Dear Lord how much more can I take???

BTW, don't ever ask God that question.  You really don't want to know the answer. 

My mother in law is being rushed in for emergency hip surgery and I feel as if I am standing in the middle of a field spinning....

and spinning....

And screaming "Joey get out of that planter!!!!"

We head out for a massive 11 hour long tour of traveling the Northwest part of our state and southern part of the other state to look for the perfect dog.  Molly.  Who lived an awesome 34 days with my parents till she suffered slipped disks while barking at a deer and became paralyzed.  Last week she was laid to rest.

The Toaster broke.... Thank goodness the oven can toast toast or hubby wouldn't have had his morning breakfast.  Back ups are important... The house phone died... but batteries fixed them... except when the neighbors cut our phone line.. It's still not fixed.. but that's a huge mess of a story.. I miss the blackberries!!!!  (Same long story!!)

I learned to make wheat thins, and graham crackers.  The hand mixer died on me while I am whipping cream!!! Just as the guests to my dinner party are walking in.  It was only 19  years old... 

Both our cars needed major work on them.  The tow driver in our area knows me by name and pretty sure if it wasn't for the honey from our hives we gave him... he wouldn't ever answer our calls if we needed him again.  Let's just say.... taking off road roads that are off the off road probably wasn't the best idea in our old beat up pick up.  And the fact I ran back in the house to grab an old pair of tennis shoes (which I never did before on this journey... was a total God thing!!!)

We have lost 2 out of 3 of our bee hives.  But we aren't giving up.. we have 3 more on order.. and will continue to raise and support the bee population! 

The iron is no longer playing fair and heck it's only 18 years old... It will need to be next.  And last night... As I was making sandwich bread for my mans lunch.... I thought the bread machine sounded funny... and poof... the loaf is a pile of half stirred dough and flour on the other side.  It no longer mixes or turns.  Since I already called them this year to ask about a replacement part for the machine.. I know the answer... "That model isn't made anymore and we no longer offer replacement parts for it" 

Seriously??? It's only between 20-15 years old!!!  I am beginning to see a pattern here!!! 

So Hubby pulls out the visa, knowing I use this machine to make all the hot dog and hamburger bun dough and his sandwich bread and our pizza dough.... and tells me... "Go order the replacement!  Now.  You can't do without it." 

Love that man..... I sat down... pulled it up.. found the model that replaces the one that is calling uncle out on the kitchen counter and put it in the shopping cart.... hovering over the 'place order' button he walks in sees that I am second guessing myself.  Knowing that I am going to cancel it and resort to kneading the bread by hand.. while trying to simultaneously plant an entire years worth of fruits and veg out in the yard... and he taps my finger.... which hits the mouse.. that hits the 'buy now' button..  sending the order off into the magical brown van. 

And that is when I sat down at Facebook and posted the post I shared above.  Because 2014 hasn't been very fair to us here.  My mother always told me when I was little ... ."No one ever said life would be fair" and I always hated it when she said that.  But it was a huge life lesson that replays over and over in my mind as things go wrong.  Or maybe not wrong.. but sideways... from what I want.  

A couple weeks ago I had two separate people who I trusted enough to tell even more then I did in this post about our year and life... and the expressions on their face still cause me to stop and think. 

Both asked me how I handled it all..... How I could get up and keep moving. How I had time to do what I did.  (what they saw me doing.  You know. the fun stuff the volunteering and classes to learn stuff!)  And that got me thinking.....

First, I am going to just finally admit.. I do have a touch of CDO (OCD for those that aren't and don't have to have the letters in perfect order).  I am actually considering it a gift.  God allowed me to have this funny issue that causes me to have to do things in a certain order.  Research things till I know for sure it's a good deal and keep myself so organized that it would probably cause a normal person (is there really such thing as normal??) (Squirrel!!!!) to go crazy!!!  But for me... it works.  I have check sheets and to do lists that keep me organized and baskets and shelves that put everything in this tiny house that we have outgrown .... in some type of order...

And in the whole scheme of things... it works for me.  Because without it... I am pretty sure I would be a mess of a person on the floor screaming in tears with Maggie licking my tears and Joey pulling out my hair .... strand by strand. 

Instead, I use the extra energy and constant thoughts of how to do something ... to make it all better...

Having a husband that understands me... and know that I do everything for a reason... is priceless to this type of person! 

So if you have a specific thing that makes you different.... use it to make yourself better. 

But to answer the people that asked me earlier... how I do it all without falling apart.... ??? 

I have no clue.. My man has found me several times on the floor in tears... I have come to understand that anxiety attacks are just a part of my life.  I can tell they are coming.. I can head them off most of the time.. but when the world keeps pushing me... I do lose it.  Those are the times I am quiet.  Those are the times that Hubby steps in... picks me up... brushes me off... and holds me... Till I stop. 

Those are the times that he lets me ramble through the tears and scream to God about how life isn't fair and tell Him everything I want... and crumble into a heap of mess in my man's strong arms... As he brushes my hair aside... wipes my tears... and kisses me... whispering he loves me.. and we have each other.. and we can do all things together.. through Christ. 

And as always, I get up.... grab a pen and paper and start reorganizing my life...this I will continue to do till I have this thing called life down.   

I am by far perfect.... and for some reason God thinks I can handle way more then I think I can.  Which is why I cling to Him so desperately.  Because this I know for sure.... I am exactly where He wants me to be... With exactly the man He made for me.... and I am not alone....

And seriously.... my keyboard just broke... Ok.. to be honest we have to guess for the last few months where the N M D F are.. but now the Arrow keys no longer work....

Have no fear!!!!!  I have a back up keyboard on the top shelf! 


See... this is the life I was meant to live. 

Just roll with it...   That's my answer!!!!  I just roll with it!!

 And may I do enough rolling that I work off all the chocolate I just ate!!! 

Happy New Year everyone.. May this be your year!!! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas 2014 is here!

 Merry Christmas!!!!

You can always borrow someone else's tree for your Christmas pictures!

Whether we like it or not time keeps rolling past. 

I wish I could stop the clock and wind it back to 2007.  The year we had all our children under one roof.  The task of decorating the Christmas tree in our annual tradition with our eldest.  Placing the ornaments on the tree with the eggnog sitting on the mantle waiting for us to sip it and laugh about each year and what ornament was added to the tree then.

The history of tradition.

Growing up and sending your kids off to build their own.....


Moving away...

Can be hard. 

But I think, as I sit here, listening to my man sing to a Christmas song in the front room, while I am back here typing a hello, means we need to set a new Christmas tradition.   Our house is small and we aren't able to set up a tree... so we settle for decorating the chicken coop this year.  But as we look out the window, we see the lights, blinking.

 That is if we are up at 0400 hrs.  Thats really early in the morning! 

Life on the farm is different.  And someday I will have a house that is larger then 693 sqft.  Or I will learn how to get a Christmas tree in this one. 

For now, I think we needed this time of not over decorating, and over buying and over spending and over everything......

To learn....

Just what Christmas is all about. 


That's it. 


He is the reason for this season.  He is the reason we are here!

And as I prepare Christmas dinner for tomorrow... (Because we celebrate on off days... In our world this is normal!)  I contemplate on the tiny pile of present that sit in the corner of our banquet.  They are all handmade.  Every one of them. 

Handmade by us.

Well, most of them. 

And as I get the bread ready to sit out overnight and rise and prepare it's dough.... I am thinking of Jesus and his love for us.  To come on this earth.  Live a blameless life and die a criminal death on a cross for us. 

So that we can live. 

And all of a sudden the fact we don't have a tree is ok. 

The fact we don't have a ton of presents and people all over the house is perfectly fine.

We have our parents here and I am excited to have them all with us tomorrow and sit around and share the love that this season is all about. 

May you all have an awesome Christmas. 

And may the reason for the season, (that's Jesus) be the center of your world.  And may everything else that matters fall into place.. and all that doesn't matter vanish!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Drug of Choice...... Organizing!!!!

I know the way I worded the title sounds really bad... But seriously... It is my drug of choice!

As if I even had a choice in the matter... From the time I was very young I would rifle through my bedroom and organize all my pencils and stuffed animals and basically anything that sat still.  I am sure it bothered my sister when we shared a room for those few years. 

But hey.. My side of the room was clean!  Well organized and....

Ok, it wasn't clean when I was very little... And I know.. there is proof out there!  So let me just throw myself under that bus! 

In my defense... that is my sister standing over me... that threw all those toys out of my toybox!!!  I am sure if I could have formed actually plea's in an understandable fashion you would have heard me begging for all the toys to go back inside in an orderly fashion!  (yes, I organized my toy box!!!)

But back to organizing... actually more along the lines of list making and productivity.... It will come as a shock to you that I am totally not organized.  

Nope, I am not! 

I used to be! 

And I used to look at everyone that asked me how I did it and shrug my shoulders and oddly exclaim, "How do you not?" 

I often wondered, how they got anything done without having a daily list, set with a monthly list, and a quarterly list, and a yearly list, and short term goal list with a long term goal list.  

Yep, I was one of THOSE people!!!!!

I was once called Martha Stewart by a dear friend.  She said it before Martha went to jail.. I took it as a compliment, just like it was intended. 

So I basically lived my whole life, well organized and list oriented. 

So what happened? 

I got married to my now awesome Hubby and one day he told me (years in to the relationship) that he didn't like the fact that I lived off of lists all the time. 

So, when we moved up here and I retired... I thought I would honor him and not keep lists.  In fact, I woke up and made his lunch and breakfast... and then when he left for work I sat down and figured out what I should do for the day. 

I was always busy.  Working on real jobs and projects and keeping myself full of things to do. 

But ....  Was I working at my full potential? 

Not one bit! 

Did I notice it was because I wasn't keeping detailed lists? 

Not one bit!

Did I notice I was falling farther behind in life?

Not one bit!

Do you want me to stop...????

Hahahaha...  I was sinking and I didn't even know it.  I couldn't see it.  It was a slow and gradual sink.  I would do chores as they came up.  Laundry when the basket was full.  Make yogurt when the other stuff was used up.  Vacuum when the floor was dirty.  Shake the mats when they looked like they needed it. 

In short.... I was letting the chores dictate my time.  And not me dictate when I was going to do them.  They were totally controlling me!!!!!

I would walk through the living room and see the carpet and think... Great!  I need to vacuum again.  Didn't I just do that?  When was the last time I vacuumed?  And I would walk right through the living room and out the door to tend to the present chore I was doing.  Missing the fact that I just had that same vacuum conversation with myself for 5 days... and I needed to actually vacuum!!!

Each time ended with ... I'll do it tomorrow! 

Chores were getting hard to keep up with.  A simple wipe of the counter was now a scrub and clean hour long event. 

So I sat down and with determination decided that I was the boss of the vacuum cleaner and sponges and it was time I took the reigns! 

I grabbed paper and pens and for an entire day I stared at the paper with the pen in my hand... asking myself... What do I need to do and when do I actually need to do it? 

How often do I need to vacuum????  Do the laundry????  Wash the sheets?? 

I must admit.. I was totally and utterly lost.. and it brought back the moments of people looking at me and asking.. How I could be so organized? 

It was just something I did.. I never actually 'knew' how I did it! 

Hubby walks in and see's me frustrated... I admitted my errors of not keeping the lists going and after 3 years I was sinking.  I wasn't the wonder woman that he truly thought I was.  I exclaimed I was common ... so low I didn't even know how to start the list... I held up the empty sheets of paper and thrust my head to the table.....

"I have failed you... I am sinking!!! The bathtub needs to be cleaned and I don't even remember the last time I cleaned it!!!!!!"

Hubby is used to me being overly dramatic.  He also calls me 'his constant entertainment!"  still after 8 years not sure if that is a good thing... or a bad thing?  I'll take it as a good thing.

We get into a long calming conversation about how this appears to be something that God want's me to go through.  And probably something that I am supposed to share with others along the way.  Since so many people always asked me how I did it... and frankly... I have no clue!!!

This is evident by the blank paper that sat in front of me for 2 days now!!! 

I knew I had a dayplanner... So I grabbed it from the studio and started to go through it. 

Quickly realized that 4 years ago, my eyes were in much better shape then they are now!  (40's bite when it comes to the eyes...) I also realized that my world now.. could never fit inside those tiny squares....
Oh my I still understand this code!!!!

And it dawned on me.. I kept my actual to-do lists on line. 
I have no clue why I wrote this.. and under this date even.... Hmmmmm

And that is when the techie in me came out.... I took my phone and each night after my chores curled up with hubby and while he read.. I searched and downloaded app after app of todo lists..  I would input a few items and check them out...

Ease of use...
Visually pleasing
Reminders not too annoying.
Motivating to use...
and the final one... Free!!!!

I finally found one... that seemed to work wonders.. and after much research  it appears to be the winner with most others as well.  In fact, it won #1 in several polls that were conducted. 

I must admit, I downloaded it and tried to use it and then deleted it saying that it was to complicated.  Then I watched a video.. and after seeing that.. and the other apps... I realized it was the winner.  With others.. and with me. 

Wunderlist it was! 

You can watch the video here...

Now for now.. I am getting myself organized.  I'll write more down when I have it all figured out.. but right now..... I am just trying to figure out when and how often I need to do certain things... before they scream they need to be done!  This way... I am ahead of the game and never have to waste a thought that I need to do them! 

That makes sense right????

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This I Know For Sure!!!

Back in November I wrote a post on my addiction to social media and trying to figure out where I am supposed to be in the world. I wanted to be closer to God and have more free time.

Sidenote:  Now some of you know why that coffee creamer that International Delights has out.. that isn't available anywhere around me.. was such a distraction for me... Seriously... Frosted Sugar Cookie Creamer????   I can go on in this world without ever having tried it.  :-(  For those that have... I am told it freezes wonderfully!  But the search took away from my time with God.

It was just 2 weeks after my post about social media that it was clear to me exactly where I was supposed to be. 

Exactly where I AM!!!  Only for a specific reason. 

You know I talk a lot.  And if you have never been around me you don't know it is usually fast and I thump from topic to topic and back around to prior topics...  (hence the name of the blog ThumperLane!!!! Now you get it don't you!!!!)

You can say talking to me when I am excited about a topic is probably like working on a huge giant talking word puzzle.  Eventually you get all the clues and get the complete stories of everything. 

But it takes time and attention! 

I also love to write.  Which I have written about here before.

And I am pretty sure the crazy things that happen to me are not 'just becuase' type of things. 

I mean, seriously, how many times have you had to chase after run away tires into the forest near your land???? 
Now, all you tires play nice.. .you hear!!!!

(head held low and whispering) 'more then once I must admit over here'

So, with stuff like this happening to me all the time....

Don't miss the fact I just said ALL THE TIME.  I really am not exaggerating!!! 

No, not at all!!!  Just ask my neighbors! 

My poor poor neighbors! 

It has left me asking and praying to God... How do You want me to use this life that You have given me??? 

I was listening to Tony Evans, his detour series he did in November 2014.   He has a wonderful sermon that he puts up as a podcast each day you can listen to it on the OnePlace site.    I was in the kitchen doing something and I heard him talking about how when we want something we should encourage others to get it also.   That when we are ready, God will lead us to it.. but He can also take us on detours till we are ready.  And in the mean time, we should encourage and pray for others to get what we are wanting.

Like a real house????  Or larger land?? Or... I could go on.... friends this knocked my socks off!!!!!

That led me to pause the podcast and ask, how do I encourage others God?  It's not like I am working in a large office with a lot of people!  I am out here in the middle of nowhere!

And then it all started happening......

You talk to people on the internet all the time..... 
You just read about so and so going into surgery in 2 days......
Your friends with local people....
You really should talk on the phone more... 

Then I flat out prayed....

If this is what you want me to do.. then please make it plain as day obvious that I am supposed to follow this path. 

Then this came in my brain.....

Have you not checked your inbox recently in some of those media accounts you have?

Ummm.. No, I was fasting from most of them while I waited to figure out what I was supposed to be doing!!! 

And that afternoon I plopped down to check on my accounts.  Thinking if there was nothing there I could just close them down and move on to something else.  Like volunteering at a soup kitchen??  :-( 

But this floored me.......

"Thank you for your posts!!! Because of you and that tire staircase you built I was able to use tires and build up an area in my backyard and now I can plant a garden.  I never thought I would be able to use that space before."

"You made this single mom realize she could follow her dreams and make it happen.  Even when my family didn't believe I could!  Thank you!"

"I look forward to reading your posts each morning."......

There were not hundreds of them... But there were enough to bring the tears and a clear direction of where I am supposed to be going...... It felt like I was opening a really pretty present each time I read one....

But to be honest.... I read the mean one.. and filed it in the appropriate file bin.

God made His point loud and clear in my mind.  But, not wanting to rush in to anything I stewed on it for a few more weeks....

I like the idea that if God wants you to do something He will show it to you in many different ways.... Unlike Satan who will cause you to fixate on something till you give in, or just plain go crazy..... (Insert Coffee Creamer story here!!!!)

I have always believed we can DO ANYTHING!!!! If we just put our minds to it!!! I pretty much have lived my life like that. 

In the week that was ahead of me... the following happened:

I was able to encourage several family members that were going through horrible times! 
I got fabric donated to me from a dear friend and was able to make a few chemo hats and drop them off at the chemo center to a huge welcome. 
A long lost loved relative came back into our life... God is awesome!
I got to encourage a lady that is terminal with photos sent to me from the long lost relative! That was a praise God moment right there!

The more I prayed for opporunities to encourage others....

The more He kept pumping them my way!!!

Now, I need to figure out how to combine and streamline and automate as much as I can.... Because I can't be chasing tires if I am sitting at a desk doing tech work all day!  And I know I am supposed to be out in the world more....  God made that clear also this last week. 

I will find a way to level this side of the land.... Someday!!!!

So, for the last few weeks, I have been watching my Facebook usage, and writing a little more, and searching for apps and doohickeys that could help me get things flowing a little smoother. 

If you all have ideas..... comment on them below.. please!!!!

I really have the feeling that through video, writing and lots and lots of pictures.... together we can have some fun. 

And maybe even make a few pennies at it along the way?  Hmmm.. I will leave that up to Him.  For now, I am planting the seeds... Literally!!! Hahahaha


Monday, December 8, 2014

Where to Start in Gardening

So I am sitting here... Looking through my gardening book and realized... 

Where would someone even remotely start if they were starting from the beginning?

The Beginning..... this looks daunting to me!!
 And to be honest, it seems like a daunting task!  One where I would literally close the book and throw it in the trash and go buy my fruits and veg at the corner market!!!

Ok, not THAT drastic.  But indeed drastically confusing!

2 years later..... 
But I am looking at the whole thing with a totally different mindset.  I am seeing it now.  With the knowledge that I currently have.  Not with the knowledge I had when we first started this endeavor.
Plans... I need plans!!!!!

And those are two totally different mindsets!  

For if I jumped head in with the knowledge now, I would sink with where to plant these two varieties of tomatoes.  They can't go in the same bed as they did the last 2 years!  They can't go next to each other or within 30 feet of each other if I plan on saving the seeds from them.  They need to be protected from wind and cold nights and ........

I could literally go on..... To the point where I would freeze.  And not move.   (Which I did today when I tried to go outside and hang the christmas lights on the chicken coop... man is it cold out there)  Psst... Picture of the christmas lights is on our Facebook page...

So what did I do in the beginning?  

I planted!  And I kept doing it each year.  And I didn't think about 'rules' because to me..... 

There is no failure in Gardening!  

And you need to just repeat that to yourself over and over again.  Because once you get that simple sentence down..... You will soar with all the rest.  

Ok, your entire garden that you spent hours planting in the spring.... didn't produce anything in the fall... and it's now dead.



A slight disaster maybe yes.  But not a failure.  

What did you learn from it?  What would you need to do differently?  What doesn't work?  What life issues do you have in your world that you need to address?  How do you need to work the garden to work around you and your lifestyle?

I have a neighbor that, bless her heart wants a garden desperately!  If she is reading this... Hello neighbor!  

I like the way she rolls her eyes when she is talking about the lack of time she has.  Because to be honest, I don't know how she does what she does in the first place.  So I took her food a few months ago.  Not a lot.. but I handed her the Garlic.  And explained... You can plant it now or eat it... If you plant it now, you will harvest it in the early summer and probably have enough to feed yourself for part of the year... 

She needed only to plant it and wait... use a portion of it.. and replant some of the new crop for next year.  

There are crops that are that easy.  Garlic, potatoes, onions, shallots..... to name a few.  

You can plant at certain times... and forget them till you need to harvest them.  

Sidenote.. I need to remember to harvest those darn potatoes I planted last spring... Oooops!!!!!  

See... you can actually forget about them.. and they will still be there when you remember.  

So there really isn't a failure in gardening.  If something doesn't work out then you adjust the next time and move on.  

So where does one start?  

With some dirt and plants.  Or seeds if you're adventurous!  

It's really that simple.  

In the beginning you don't worry about spacing or collecting seeds... or how far apart to plant stuff or anything for that matter.  

Just plant!

And you will literally learn as you go. 

Hubby likes to know everything that he is getting in to when he starts something new.  While that is well and good.... You can't know hardly anything about gardening without just getting elbow deep in the dirt.  

What else would I do?  If I was just starting out...???  The exact same thing I did this year. ... I had been gardening for 3 years in this area... and knowing that there were other gardeners like me out there, I sought them out and asked them if I could have an hour of their time, and a tour of their garden.  

I never told any of  you about it because I didn't want them to think I was using them or publishing what they told me.  I wanted it to be them and me.  A one on one time.  And I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it!  

I learned so much.  I talked to 4 different gardeners and restrained myself to as close to the hour as I could.  All though the second half of the people I called and asked for 90 minutes.  And the last lady I literally could have spent all day on her land, talking to her. 

The information that was shared with me was priceless.  While I learned so much it's only priceless to me.  And for my area.  And I highly recommend even if you are big time gardeners that you seek out others and ask to interview them as well.  

There was not one gardener that I didn't learn from.  Each time coming home and changing some aspect of what I was doing.  

My Brassica's are thanking me for listening and implementing!  

It was actually a bright spot to my busy summer.

Gardeners love to share information.  With that said, for someone that isn't used to information being shared.... it can feel as if they are telling you what to do.  Don't assume that is the case.  Gardeners love passing stories and info back and forth and learning from each other.  So when someone comes to you and asks why you planted the tomatoes so close together, it's not to point out that you did something wrong.  It's more likely that they are asking to see if you have a secret tip that they can gleam from you.  

In all actuality when I started out..... it was because I didn't know any better.  

So, adjust your knowledge as you go.  And you will be passing along tidbits of information sooner then you know.  

This year I wanted to try black beans.. I planted 2 crops and then proceeded to totally forget about them.  We had very little rain and well... I pretty much knew they were a gonner... except for one thing... They did give me a few seeds... actually it was a success when I look at it that way.  They gave me 10 times the amount of seeds that I planted.... Roughly.  So if you look at it by that aspect.. I made money... Right?

And then there were these beauties.... Which I wasn't able to tend to in the beginning of the season as I should have.. and they got out of control.. and then I learned.. I didn't like their production... or their taste.... So I gave the rest of the packet of seeds away for another local gardener to try... Because they might like them.  And I know.... not to grow them again. 

In short, gardening is more of a verb... a just do it... action kind of thing.  And when you start to do it.. and you learn more and more about it while doing it...  you start doing things differently and learning as you go... well actually eating while you go... is the best way to learn/eat!

 Yummy yummy trial and errors!!!!!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Mother Daughter Travels Day 1

I have been wanting to do this for SOOOO long... typing up all the travel journals our eldest and I wrote along our journeys.

We started in 1999, we never envisioned the travels taking off like they did... so the first part of the journals were, to me, actually quite boring.  Each year we would travel 4-6 states.  Stopping and doing 1 thing in each state.  It ended up being an epic journey we planned and researched all year long for and we would head out each summer for usually a 2 week journey.  Taking pictures and writing and collecting memories along the way.

So for this first trip... we start heading out of California.... through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and well, you will have to subscribe to this blog to get the updates when they are published.... For now..... 

Here is the first day.....

Day one June 17, 1999 Thursday

We left Fresno around 930 a little later then planned.  Because we got lost in the rental car on the new Fresno freeways.  Confusing to say the least!

We happened to be renting the same car make model and color as the three Yosemite girls.  Cristin and I pray harder each night and Morning for our safety!  (here's what we are talking about in case you don't recall)

We stop at the last California Rest area on I80.  Nice place.  Not like our stops off of 99.  Cristin found a chipmunk to feed peanut butter to. Because she has always wanted to do that... since hearing the stories of when I did it as a kid.

Then with the only snow in probably all of California she just had to throw a snow ball at me.

I ducked and she missed of course!  We got back on interstate 80 this would take us all the way through to Utah.  Getting tired and keeping my promise to Cristin (to have shorter drives) I stopped driving in Wells, Nevada.

We found a motel 6 on the side of the road and it had a pool.  We swam for the rest of the night.  Dinner was from a vending machine along with what we had brought.  Not for lack of finding a place to eat. We saw no grocery store and the town looked as if it consisted of the motel and a few old homes.  That was it.  It offered nothing else!  We met some nice people at the pool during our swim.  All the people were going towards California.  They were talking about how beautiful the drive has been so far for them.  Which is rather nice for us to hear.  Cris and I just looked at each other.  We didn't have the heart to tell them their drive tomorrow would be long.... flat... and BORING!!!!

Back in the room we mapped out our trip for tomorrow called the motel 6 in Jackson WY.  Made a reservation, checked our email and hit the hay.  We were both tired!  And after the long ride 0930 am to 700pm we were yearning for bed.  Tomorrow - Utah Idaho and Wyoming.

Cristin's:  I was feeling good after our swim.  I was holding on to my mother because I didn't know how to swim yet.  I didn't eat much I was so tired from the trip.  I was knocked out after that long drive but I don't know why I was so tired.  I slept all the way in the car.  That was a hard day.  I had a great night of watching TV and sleeping a lot.  I sure was tired that night.

Note's while typing this..... How odd she would find watching TV fun... Unless you understood she only watched 2 hours a week at home.  And she was tired... because she slept so much.  Most of our trips consisted of several days traveling well over 600-800 miles in that one day.  Which made for long days... but in the end got us to the area's faster we wanted to be at. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Secret to Gardening!

Let's talk about Gardening!  More precise... I'm going to tell you a secret!!!

Over the next few weeks we are going to talk about many aspects of gardening.  But first, you need to know the secret that will help you... no matter where you live.   

I have, and will continue to say, there is no failure in gardening!  Because there isn't.  I have a large composition notebook sitting next to me that I use to keep all my gardening notes in.  Every time I find something new or old that does or doesn't work I jot it down as soon as I get the chance to.  I draw plans in it and lists and it goes everywhere I go when there is anything remotely gardening going on.

I also have about 40 gardening books and catalogs sitting on the shelves behind me.  All with torn, dog eared pages.  Highlighted sections and post it notes sticking out from the tops and sides of the books.

To say I am slightly addicted to gardening would be a huge understatement.  And with that statement you should know my history into gardening.  Because you want to make sure you know someone knows what they are talking about before you listen to (or read) anything about what they talk about.

Gardening is literally in my bones.  My DNA has traces of gardening on both sides.  I am sure there is dirt on several ladders of my DNA sprinkled with seeds along the way.  All though I have no degree or diploma in any type of gardening...

My great grandmother (mother's side) ran herself a 2 acre homestead in the smack dab middle of Santa Cruz back in the 40-80's.  She grew everything you could imagine.  Raised whatever she could... and made us all help when we came to visit.

Nanny (Great-Grandmothers homestead)

My Grandfather on my fathers side loved gardening so much that he literally picked up rocks that he found on his walks and build himself a rock garden on the side of a hill.  I remember helping him often in the garden... on the hill in Oroville, CA.  I often wonder if it was still there.  Before that, he was gardening in Watsonville, CA.  Gardening and farming was in his blood.
My Grandfathers masterpiece!

Side view...

Where there is a will... there is always a way.....

My mother's fathers side worked the fields, growing up, to get by in Watsonville, CA.  It was an honest living.

And when I was 6 years old my mother handed me a tomato plant to plant where ever I wanted in the back yard in our tiny home in Fremont, CA.  I planted it under the orange tree.  I remember her telling me that it wouldn't grow there, under so much shade.

It should have never survived under that tree in the far back left corner!!!

I am pretty sure that is why I planted it there.  So adamant and not wanting to tell her I hated tomatoes!!!!!!!  Secretly willing it to wither and die!  But I wanted to play in the dirt.  I loved playing in the dirt!!!

I was totally upset and embarrassed as I watched my mother taking arm fulls of tomatoes (from my tomato plant) to all the neighbors on the street.  Because we just couldn't eat or can up this many!!!!

That was the year all the kids on the block HATED ME!!!!  And I really wished we had a dog!!!

That darn thing was supposed to wither and die!!!!

We had a vegetable garden of some sort every year until I was well in my teens.  That was just about the first thing planted after we moved somewhere.   And we were all given chores to do.  I remember the year I was in charge of planting and growing the lettuce.  I spent hours planting each seed in straight rows!  Only to go inside and watch my cat Geronimo proceed to dig it all up and scatter them in crooked rows.

The lettuce grew wonderfully and we ate well.

Everything grew in this backyard in San Luis Obispo!  Everything!!!

It wasn't until we moved to Visalia and our backyard garden turned into a pool.  Both parents worked and there was no time to garden.  that was some time in the early 80's.

Thank goodness my hair was wet... The 80's were not good to woman and their hair!
 And then in the late 90's well on my own and owning a house of my own I started gardening again.  Teaching our eldest daughter the same thing.  She actually won 1st place in the gardening contest at her school.  And she did all the work herself!

Our Eldest's garden!
 Such a proud moment here! 

Living in zone 9 and growing everything from Orange tree's and tomatoes and peppers and anything else that tickles our fancy.... I always stuck with the basics.  Cucumbers and zucchini and radishes.  I never studied much other then the basic books... and I had good success!

Anyone remember this ladies name?? 
 I started in March and pulled it all up in November.  Took a rest and celebrated the holidays and ordered more seeds and started all over.

It wasn't until we moved up here in zone 8b to 9a (we are right on the line between them)(which means nothing by the way) and I started to grow and learned there was more to it then the books let on.

There was a secret to it.... and no one would tell me the secret!!!!!

My crops did ok.  But not great!  The old tried and true that I grew were still going.. but not with the gusto that they used to.   I bought more books and studied up even more... and got even more frustrated then ever before!!!

The second year garden!  Such a cute little thang!

So I did what any person that wanted knowledge would do... I looked on Google and YouTube!  I spent the next few winters researching all about the growing in the new area I was in.  I only moved 1 zone... how could that be such a difference?

I mean gardening in Fremont and Santa Cruz and Visalia and Fresno were all the same!  Stick the plant in in March and pull it out in November.  That's what the books told us to do.  All the YouTube channels were telling me the same thing.  And Google pretty much was telling me.  I suddenly went from gardener know how, to Gardener doesn't know a thing!!! 

Why isn't it working???

And I figured it out.  After the second winter and one awesome book later.... I learned the secret.  One that literally made me go back through and re-read all the books I had read and in some cases stick my tongue out at them and scream 'Liar!'

So, here is the one thing I can tell you... that we all can do... This part of gardening is simple and the same everywhere........

At some point and time you will take a seed and put it in the ground.. and a plant will grow and produce fruit... at some point and time it will die.  And you will pull it up.    If you are lucky and the winds and rains are on your side. 

Here is what I have learned that is totally wrong from what all the books are saying:

What you plant will not be the same variety that I plant.  While we can all plant tomatoes, we can't all plant the same tomatoes, or cucumbers or watermelon!  You and I will not be able to plan a video plant date party on Google Hangout.  We will plant at different times and harvest at different times.  I will surely be drooling over your plants and all the peppers on them while I am waiting for mine to even think about flowering.  There is nothing wrong with yours or mine.  Trust me. And our gardens will all be put to bed on different dates as well.  

The book that struck the a-ha moment with me doesn't really matter.  But for those that are like me and really must know.. It was Gardening in the Pacific Northwest

Why was it such a moment for me?  Because it taught me the weather.  I was constantly fighting the weather. 

Is that the secret?

No.  Or at least not all of it.

I love the color in this picture! 

The secret to all of gardening became totally obvious to me while reading that book.  It's also one reason I stopped doing a lot of 'how to' video's on gardening and focused more on ... 'Just Try It' type video's.

It angers me when someone gets on a video or a blog and says, 'do it this way'.  Because that is only true for them and their neighbors!!  It is not true for you and I.  And for all of us to be successful we need to share the following before we start talking about how we do it:

I live in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).  Which doesn't tell you much either.
Northern Coast of Oregon
Lows usually in the 20's
Highs for about a week in the 90's.
It rains every month of the year!
We get enough rain at times to be considered a temperate rain forest.
We usually get clouds or rain 300+ days a year.
We rarely get above 60 in the summer nights.

With that knowledge you can go forward and read what I will be talking about... But when I do something, remember the above.  Because it will tell you exactly why I do the things I do.  

I actually find myself living in the PNW a blessing.  And here is why....

Living in Fresno, we would have to shade all of our plants.  When you planted a Tomato plant you would plant it in an area that it would get partial shade because the afternoon sun was so intense that it would burn the leaves.  So you adjusted.  I actually made 'tents' out of shade cloth to shade the plants from the burning sun.

And no matter what.. there is no amount of water that a fried plant can recover from.

Up in this area, I realized I needed to trap the sun and heat to get the ripe tomatoes.  Or the fruit to set at all.  So I built 'cloches' little mini greenhouses!  So much easier then constantly watering.

Tomatoes love these things!

Halfway through the season they get so big we can't close the cloches.  But they have a large enough start that they don't need them anymore.

That's success!!!

The secret is really easy.  Read the books to learn what they did.... But watch your weather and talk to people that live there and figure out what you need to do to mimic the environment to get the results that you want.

Do I need to plant the tomatoes in these cloches?  No.  I can put them out in May with everyone else and watch them grow a little slower.  But by doing this I get tomatoes about a month earlier.  And about a month later.  Not to mention last year I planted eggplant in them.  And peppers and this year I grew sweet potatoes in 2 of them.. that we are still munching on!

I can trap heat, control the water they get and protect them from bugs.... And keep my new dog out of the beds!

Joey get out!!!!  ;-)

Joey is actually asleep in the chair I am sitting in behind me... snoring away!  It's safe for him since I found him in the garbage this morning eating a butter wrapper!  Ugh!!!!

This is Joey... Cute adorable little thing that knows no boundaries!!! 

So, now you know the secret.  When you read a book... don't follow the dates in it.  Here are a few things I keep in mind:

My last frost date
My first frost date
The number of growing days in the year
The weather patterns in my area.
 Where the sun lands on my land and what times of the year it does so.

Now, where I live, the weather can change on a dime.  But it always does certain things every year.  And as long as I keep those in mind... and be on the lookout for them.  I am golden!

Like the east summer winds.  We get at least one storm when the pressures from the east rise.  Then burst forth.  When I sense that happening... I know I need to water more.

And the winter storms from the east... when they come they usually bring snow.  I watch for them and know.  I won't be driving anywhere till the snow melts.

While I can drive in the snow.  I know it's best for me not to.  And besides, I have no problem waiting.  It's better for my nerves to wait.

Knowing these things in advance gives you a one up on what is coming.

Hang on.. I have to go collect the eggs and say the good night prayer for our chickens.

I'm Back! 

So with all the above said... Don't be afraid to play around.  Or watch tons of YouTube video's on how people garden... but keep in mind where they live.  I sure wish they would tell you all of that in the beginning of their video's!  Lord knows I try to remember when I do one of mine.

In the future posts I will cover different types of gardening.  And which one's I have tried and which ones I find foolish and why.  And what we do... and why...

Hubby has learned.... I never do anything 'just because' or without having a good reason.  Sometimes that's a hindrance.  I tend to over analyze things a tad.

Just look at my chicken coop!  The thing is covered head to toe in chicken wire and rocks... from the top all the way down and a foot below ground!  And I love that people are still trying to tell me what I need to do to make it 'work'  I have an invisible moat around the entire thing.  We get 77 inches of rain and people are telling me I didn't build it correctly or I need to do 'this' to it.

I have to stop and laugh.  Because they can't see the trench with pit rock around the whole thing.  A good design never shows the working parts.  But sometimes, no matter what you do or try to do... the weather dictates otherwise.  So, I have to learn to live with a soggy coop during times of heavy rain.

That's where the straw comes in handy.

The joys of gardening on a hillside!  In a rain forest!