A day off…

What a nice day today. I got a good four hour stretch of sleep last night, and finally awoke to a beautiful, sunny morning. After making the cat happy with a neck rub, I went downstairs to enjoy the second sabbath of the weekend. Yesterday was the weekly sabbath, and also Passover, so, instead of hanging around the house, we gathered with others. We left around 10:45, and didn’t get home until 4:30. My honey was sure we’d be home by 3:00, but I know what an optimist he is. One of the many things I love about him. Anyway, today is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which means another day of no working!!! WooHoo!

I love these days! Breakfast consisted of a slice of cold sweet potato pie with oatmeal pecan crust. My father and I went for a walk, then my honey and I spent some time out on the back patio with the cats chatting about the day’s plans. Not chatting with the cats, with each other. Although MY plans for us included a loooong walk, that was scaled back to once around the park for the sake of his bad knee. After our traditional Sunday brunch of hash browns, eggs and a piece of fruit, we drove out to our five acre parcel of land to spray paint out the shape of the shop we will be building soon. The paint went over rocks, dirt and old cow patties left from the cows that grazed our property last spring. Funny how when you look at the measurements and square footage on paper it seems so large, but when it was painted on the ground, it actually seemed small. Maybe because it was in the context of the size of the lot itself.

Only one of the apple trees we planted last year will need to be moved, and I was able to mark spaces for three more fruit trees. If I had thought about it, I would have marked the spaces for the blueberry bushes we will bring from our current home. If I had though, I would have run out of paint before being able to mark out the last shop details. So, all for the best. We drove around two neighborhoods of larger lots to check out different fencing, only to find that they both had white three rail fencing everywhere. You gotta love neighborhoods with covenants, codes and restrictions. Our neighborhood of seven homes doesn’t have any. Yea!

The day was filled with loud farts being blamed on the cat (my honey, not me), flirting with each other and just having fun. It’s been a long time since we have had a day like this. Once spring hits, my honey will frequently have to work on Sundays. And since I got some sleep, I wasn’t exhausted all day. Dinner is leftover stir fry, dessert will probably consist of vanilla yogurt with some sort of fruit added to it.

Tomorrow it is back to the craziness of building. I have a septic inspection to change into a permit, a location permit to apply for so we can build the structure. State permits to figure out how to apply for for the plumbing, HVAC (heating and cooling) and electrical. I need to get on sub contractor schedules for the cement slab pour, insulation, heating and drywall. Floor plans for the house need to be altered so we can get on a framers schedule for the fall. If I don’t do that now, we may not get on a schedule until summer next year. So much to do, so little time to do it in. Oh, and I need to get my garden planted here at home, veggies and flowers, and maintain my house, and the rental we sold until it closes mid May. Busy, busy.

All said and done, at the end of this day, I am happy, content and hopeful for the future. I hope you also had a great day.

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One last hurrah…

I got a manicure with my friend, had coffee at a cute little shop, walked old downtown and had Gooeys with a heroic of ladies.

So, my girlfriend turned 50 on tax day. You can’t not celebrate a fiftieth birthday, especially when it falls on tax day. The plans for the day were her idea. She loves a good manicure as sandal season approaches. That’s a pretty rare thing for me, as nail polish usually ends up peeling off layers of my nails when I remove it. But, that’s worth it every now and then to have pretty toenails. It would have been a bit better had the weather yesterday morning been a bit warmer than 36 degrees. However, it did warm up throughout the day. I went with a red sparkly big toe and champagne luster for the rest. Of course, me being me, I had to add some nail stickers to it when I got home, because solid colors are just a bit boring.

After the mani, it was off to the newly opened second store of one of our favorite coffee houses. I know what you’re thinking… that I lied in an earlier post about not being a coffee drinker. But, I’m not, really. In our town, there are drive through coffee shops every few blocks, and numerous sit down shops. One shop is in a converted Jiffy Lube store, a couple others took over defunct delicatessens, yet another, cleverly called The Vault took over, you guessed it, an old bank. They are literally everywhere!!! So, when people get together for a quick visit, it is often over coffee. If you are meeting a business acquaintance, it is at a coffee shop. Are you getting the picture? I am not a daily drinker, just a social one. Boy, that sounds bad…

Oh! Did I mention that I bought tiaras for this celebration? I picked up a couple, one for the birthday girl, and a smaller one for me to wear, so she wouldn’t feel awkward wearing one. I find that the older I get, the more game I am to do that type of thing. I wouldn’t have worn a tiara in public back five years ago.

Anyway, after coffee we went downtown, did a little window shopping then met up with a few more of her friends for Gooeys at the local resort restaurant. Gooeys are huge, gooey, ice cream desserts, filled with candies, cookies and other diabetic nightmares. They are big enough for one teenager who doesn’t think about their health or waistline, or four adults. Even their personal sized ones are at least three of what I would consider a serving. I split one with my friend, and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these ladies I had never met. After a couple hours, it was a quick walk to the car and a quick drive home.

After saying our goodbyes, I headed to my house down the road, and immediately dove into making a list of what needed to get done this week with preparing for the feasts and all the paperwork I needed to prepare for permitting our build. Between that stuff, mowing our rental lawn a couple times before it closes, taking my dad to cataract surgery and follow up appointments, there will be little time for fun for the next few weeks. I just hope that as our weather warms, I can squeeze in a little gardening at my own home. There are a couple monstrous weeds in the lawn that drive me buggy every time I see them.

Make time for you today, no matter how busy your day is. Set a timer if you have to to make sure you get the full amount of time in. It is hard at first, but it really does affect your emotional outlook for the better! The sun is shining, so I am off for a morning walk to contemplate the songbirds!

A morning walk…

Realizing that I need to take better care of myself, I am trying to get into the habit of a morning walk. For some reason, the weather during the spring is always best first thing in the morning. Although the average person would probably wear a medium weight jacket his morning, I found the wind a bit much for my ears and exposed hands. I put my wool cap on, and covered that with a sweatshirt hoodie. To top it off was my heavy down utility jacket and some gloves. I am sure I gave the joggers I passed, who were in spandex, something to giggle at. And I have to admit, I felt extremely wimpy when I lapped the elderly English woman out for her daily stroll, who was wearing lightweight sweats. Seeing her made me remember the elderly, crippled Asian lady who walked daily around the neighborhood. One leg was in a brace and never bent. She walked slow and deliberately. That ended the day she took a spill near my house. It blessed me to see neighbors trying to help. She didn’t seem injured, and her husband was soon there to pick her up. But it is sad to think that she had to give that up.

When I walk, many times I find myself praying and thanking Yahweh my God for creating such a beautiful world for us to enjoy. One with multiple colors, sounds, smells. I find myself marveling at the birds, the trees, everything. It is amazing to see the different trees getting ready for their big reveal. The Maples had red fuzzy flower clusters at the end of each little branch. They looked like poodle tails. Many of the Oaks were still adorned with the brown, crunchy leaves of last fall, with no evidence of life, yet. One cool trees branches had turned a pale yellow green, and the soon to be leaves looked like thorns along the branches, as opposed to the furry cream buds on the dark wooded tree at the next house. Although I have walked this same path for weeks now, today was the first time I noticed two very tall trees that were still sporting round seed pods at the top. Maybe that’s where the walnuts are coming from that the crows like to drop on our roof to crack open. My favorite tree though, was the small, horribly pruned tree in the middle of a front yard still decorated in the red chili pepper Christmas lights from December.

Another unusual thing I have never noticed in past years was that every so often, the soft stuff between the slabs of sidewalk concrete had been dug our leaving a mess on the path. At first I wondered if kids were being kids, but then I realized that I started seeing it right after our worm rain. I bet that a bird of some sort had been pecking through to get to worms or bugs. That was actually confirmed a few blocks away when I saw a small woodpecker doing that very thing!

Woodpeckers are rare to see in our neighborhood. More common are doves, robins, crows and starlings. Sometimes mockingbirds, which I believe are akin to blue jays. They are spectacular birds to watch. They caw similarly to crows and jays, they are large with dark blue feathers and a wide stripe of white on their wings. I really enjoy when they are all talking one to another. The coping of the doves, the chatter of the robins, the songs of the starlings. Every now and then, a pheasant will chime in too. I hope we will have lots of birds out at our property.

As I walked past a flowering forsythia bush, I remembered that that is my signal to do my first lawn feeding. Maybe if the weather holds today, meaning no rain, I can get that done later today. Along the way were flowering primroses, beautiful pink heather, some bush with dainty little white flowers just beginning to bloom, and the remains of the earliest blooming crocuses.

Halfway through my walk, I was startled to hear the sounds of steps behind me. When I turned back, I was amused to see a sturdy, dead leaf from autumn skipping up behind me on the breeze.

There were also an abundance of flags flapping in the breeze this morning. Several American flags floated proudly, one simple black flag with the words US Army, a tattered yellow flag with a coiled rattle snake and the words Don’t Tread On Me, and one decorative Welcome Friends flag on a porch. I certainly felt welcome in my neighborhood. Especially after walking past the corner house with a long vertical wood sign proposed in the doorway that said welcome. But the one that will linger in my memory for a while is the brightly colored porch sign that said BLOOM. I wish I had brought my phone along to photograph it, but that is one of my rules, no phone on my walks. I want to BE in the moment, not be looking for pictures, and miss out on something that I wasn’t focused on. Was BLOOM a proclamation? A command? A recommendation? Or just a hope for the future, as the land comes alive again after its long winter sleep once again.

Bloom. I think I will try to do that.

We have blueprints!

The process was actually pretty simple. We contacted a draftsman, described what we wanted to build, and over the course of the next few weeks worked out details. They were emailed to me in pdf format. After googling blueprint printing, I found a local company a few miles down the road and gave them a call. An hour later I emailed the PDFs to them, and wa-la-poof! By the end of the business day I had them in hand!

The roll was bigger and heavier than I expected. We had ordered eight copies. One for me, one for a friend who is helping and six for getting our bids and for the other contractors I may be hiring. When the gal at the counter handed them to me, I felt a sense of pride, and awe. Now, it’s official. We are building, and this will be my job for the next six months. Everything else will have to be put on hold. Depending on how hands on I have to get, I am thinking I may hire a house cleaner to come in every couple weeks so I don’t get stressed over a dirty home.

It’s exciting and a bit scary at the same time. I am going to be in charge of getting a fairly large shop built, that needs to stay on budget and get done properly. I hate making mistakes, but I need to accept that mistakes will happen, I just have to deal with them as best as possible. When I say shop, it is more of a multi purpose building. There will be a garage storage space for a tractor, tools, and stuff. Above that will be a space that will double as a space for friend gatherings that might not fit in our living room, quilting space, crafting space, and maybe movie night space for grandkids visits. The remainder of the downstairs space will have kitchen counters and a sink for preserving the harvests. I am not much of a canner, but I do want to begin freeze drying foods. I have been using freeze dried foods for years in my cooking. For the past couple years, I have used up freezer space for the extra apples, plums and nectarines we grow, but that has taken up a lot of space. I would rather make jams and freeze dry them so they can be shelf stable and leave freezer space for things I prefer not to dry. There will also be space for my honey to putter with some woodworking projects, among which will be my raised planter beds.

The next couple weeks will be tricky for me. This week I am preparing for the upcoming spring feasts that we celebrate. It is a full week of celebrating with friends each evening, and I host. I love the process of making different types of Unleavened Bread and praying for the guests who will be joining us. Cooking and hostessing is a joy to me. However, during this week of preparing, I also have my granddaughter’s first volleyball game to attend, all the paperwork to fill out to obtain our permits for building, and a few last minute bids to obtain. It is time to coordinate and put together everything I have been collecting into a timeline. I have to get the permitting done over the next two weeks to take advantage of our counties opt out program, which goes away at the end of the month. It means I do not have to go through the extra structural inspections and permitting lag time. Our blueprints have been structurally engineered to code, and I trust our framers to follow them. This means we can begin as soon as the first of next month.

I am actually looking forward to being involved with wiring the house, laying the in floor heating tubes and more. My priorities will have to be set and adhered to. Time for me will have to be given a place in each day. Time to walk, focus on breathing and express my gratitude for nature to the creator. Time for an epsom salt and essential oil bath at the end of a physical day. Sunday will have to remain gardening day here at the house we will continue to live in.

That is, if we don’t get the house we are going to bid on at auction in a few days. I forgot that part. We have been looking for a home to buy at auction that would work for the three of us, but still have some space for when our daughter visits with her family. We figured that if we found one and could get it at a decent price, we would move into it, and sell our current house to take advantage of the strong market. Financially, it makes sense. Then we would have the money needed to start on the house on the property next year. We are trusting God that if we are supposed to do that, he will let us get the house. If we are not the successful bidders, then, we I’ll trust that whenever we are able to sell, we will still have the equity we are hoping for. So, a possible move during May might be added to our lives too!

Seems we either have a lot of plates spinning, or none. As much as I like the plates we spin, I admit, the older I get, the more I treasure the no plates spinning times of our life.

Here’s to a few more plates!

Worm Rain!!

Worm rain has arrived, announcing that spring is officially here!! What is worm rain? Ah! When the season starts changing from winter to spring, the snow turns to rain. We can get several storms with no worms. But then, one day, or night, you get a storm that brings the worms out of the ground. I’m not talking a few, but thousands! We will wake up to find that you can’t walk out to the end of the driveway without stepping on worms that are everywhere! It’s an amazing phenomena. For the next week we will drive on them, step on them and have to wipe them off the bottoms of our shoes before going indoors. We will have to pick up random dried out ones off the floor that did make it indoors. Mornings will be filled with the incredible sound of many different bird songs singing with full, happy tummies.

A memory I will always cherish had to do with this time of year. During spring break a few years back, I had two of my grands visiting. We booted up, wrapped up and headed outdoors to do some puddle jumping. That day I got to introduce my grands to the worms. Big, fat, long earthworms. They were hesitant to touch them at first, but warmed up to the idea quickly, making sure to try not to squash any when they splashed in the puddles.

Worm rain, another thing that makes me happy! May you find happiness in the little things of life!

New Friends

Last night, in the middle of getting some dessert for my honey, there was a firm knock on the front door. We weren’t expecting anyone, and it was well past getting a delivery time. I checked out the window to see two people. I opened the door cautiously (sad that we live in a world that we have to be wary of strangers) to find a man and woman standing there. They asked if this is where My honey lived. I’m sure they saw the puzzled look of surprise on my face. Maybe a client who tracked him down? I said yes, invited them into the house and asked if I might get their names. I went upstairs to where my hubby was watching the Final Four games he had taped (to fast forward through commercials). He also had a puzzled look on his face. We went downstairs and they re-introduced themselves, explaining that they had met us briefly when we hosted our Yom Teruah/Day of Trumpets gathering back in September.

Each year we host this gathering of friends, our spiritual family, to watch and wait for the return of Yeshua/Jesus. We eat some pretty amazing potluck dishes, hang around and visit with each other until we can start looking for the sliver of the new moon. The excitement builds as parents point their kids to look in the right direction. When one of the kids sees it, we blow a cacophonous noise of rams horns and plastic kiddie horns. Once the sun truly sets and it begins to cool, the adults head inside while the kids play outside. Over the past few years our gathering has outgrown our home.

Back to our guests. This past year, we had many unfamiliar faces arriving at our home. A friend, of a friend had invited them. They came as strangers, left as family. But, with that many people (100+), there are bound to be some you don’t really get to know. As the hostess, kitchen duty often keeps me out of the mainstream gathering area. Our guests were among those who attended, but we didn’t get to really know. We got comfortable in the living room and began to talk. That was at 7:30. When our black car started coming down the stairs, I knew it was close to 10pm. I almost told my honey that “it must be getting late, our bedtime reminder alarm just came down the stairs.” She is a cat of routine, and she lets us know when she is ready to settle in for the night. When texts began to arrive from their eldest child at home, around 11:15pm, we all decided to end our sweet time of visiting. And it was truly a sweet time.

Conversation meandered through how each couple met, what led us all to live in this area, has anyone studied the topic of the new moon, homeschooling, loss of children, and more. Although it “disrupted” our routine, it made me remember a time, when I was younger, that people would pop by someone’s house for a visit just because they were in the neighborhood. That is something I enjoy doing. And, as the recipient of such visit, I was not inconvenienced, nor frustrated with any time lost. I was thoroughly blessed to make new friends!

Real “face time”, in person talking. Yes, it takes time, yes, there are other things you could be doing. But, in the long run, is it not the relationships we build that count? The people whose lives we touch by a hug when they share the loss of a family member, or by offering free eggs from our chickens because we have an abundance. How many times have I been truly ministered to with the exact bit of wisdom I needed about raising kids, or dealing with an emotion only after an hour of seemingly surface talk with a friend or family member? I will always treasure last night’s visit, and pray it inspires others to do the same. Take the time.

Liquid joy recipe

I should have shared this yesterday when I rattled on about my coffee snobbery.

I found this recipe in the Costco Connection magazine some time ago. I make the coffee, then pour 20 ounces into a mason jar, and add 4 ounces of my local Fred Meyer Simple Truth Organic Sweet Cream Creamer in. I like (used to like, 😞) keeping it in the fridge and I would take a sip, or gulp periodically throughout the day, as opposed to a cup in the morning. I know you are supposed to dilute the concentrate, but I don’t. Wonder what that says about my “it’s all about the experience” line as opposed to Admitting that I may need the caffeine?

Coffee… the most accepted, legal, addictive drug in the world. But then, I suppose there are plenty of other things that one could say that about. TV, sugar, chocolate, etc. I concede.