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At long last, I am done with the kitchen (phase one) and the sewing. I thought I would put up some pictures. The end of May will bring me a new couch from Ikea, and some new rugs, so that will change the look of things again. But for now, I am done working on projects. Here are the new cabinets with fresh paint, crown moulding, and new hardware.

 

 

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The beadboard went around the sides of the cabinets and makes them look like they belong in an old house.

 

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A close up of the tile…

 

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E. designed and made these cool brackets.

 

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I found a few new trays…

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Putting in this great sink was one of the best changes we made- I love the space!

 

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This is the cosy dining room, and if you look out the window you can see E. mowing in the freezing cold.

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We found a great upholstery lady who did our antique chairs in this new blue.

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The ottoman got a new cover, and my mom made new pillows.

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This is the curtain fabric.

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Our playground turned out to be a great success- way to go E!

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I read this article this morning with great sadness.  I am not surprised that people would seek a cure for AIDS this way because they can’t afford medication, and are utterly without hope.  I would encourage you all to pray about what we can do about this worldwide crisis.  Those seeking a “divine” cure are nearly right, but it is superstition  they are following, and they need saving faith.  My heart breaks for them and the millions like them.  What can we do?

There have always been some things that bother me about our location. One of the chief ones being that we live next to a lovely piece of land that needs looking after. When I first saw our house, next door was an extremely run down and scary house. When we finally bought our house three years later, new owners had torn it down and seemed to have plans for the now empty field. They had begun building a fence, which was very nice, but seemed to have been abandoned. The 4x4s tilting crazily in their ill-dug holes, the pile of lumber growing weeds, and the old sacks of hardened quickrete loosely covered by a tarp had remained untouched since we moved in eight months ago. The abandoned car growing moss and poison-ivy from its hood parked near the pond bog, and the fact that the property has never been mowed, gave me the impression that its owners cared very little for their new purchase.
We had never met the owner of the land, he lived in a house he built on other land nearby, but we had met one of his brothers who often came to camp in the back acerage. We discovered while hiking around the land (the plot is some 60 acres) the most beautiful building site. I would love to move our house there some day, but some people think I am crazy.
Anyway. The pile of lumber and the bags of concrete mix bugged me immensely. They are right next to my house, and since the tarp on the bags was removed or blew away sometime this winter, the bags have begun to look like trash piled up in my lovely view. This is not even to mention the horrible bog or the nasty car, or the weeds. As I have begun going outside more and making plans to improve our land, I had become, well, mad. One day, as I was walking around the bog (it is a large hole very near my house which sets at the very edge of our land, filled with scummy, smelly, foul water) someone (who will remain nameless) suggested that I kick the bags of quickrete into the bog. He was just joking, and I laughed at this idea. Until a few days later when I was again looking at the mess.
All the sudden, something overtook me, and I rushed over to the pile and kicked. Hard. One of the bags fell nicely into the water, almost being submerged. The next bag (they weighed around 60 pounds) was harder, and barely made it over the edge. I had to pick the last bag up and try to heave it, but it wouldn’t go farther than the tangle of weeds on the “bank”. I felt satisfied, however, because I could no longer see the mess.
I did not tell anyone what I had done. A week went by. Then it began to get very nice outside, and one day I saw a bunch of people drive into the property. This worried me. Having become more rational since the incident, I now realized that no one would think that three 60 pound bags of concrete would “fall” into a hole 3 feet away. And the evidence was still there- if you looked into the pond, you could see all three bags. Hmmm. So late that night, I confessed my deed to E. He could not believe what I had done. In a horrified voice, he informed me that he knew from the brother, that the owner LOVED the pond and had big plans for it. The same owner who was camping that very night a mere few acres away from the crime scene. He became very quiet suddenly, and the full weight of what I had done crashed down on me. WHAT had I been thinking? How would I explain myself? I did not even know these people- I was terrified. I wanted to go back in time, but there was no way to undo the deed. I had nothing to say for myself, and guiltily tried to sleep. All night I had nightmares, and tried to think of what I could possibly do before the morning, when, surely (if I had not already been noticed) the owners would stroll over to see their beautiful pond, and see three bags of concrete- not where they were when they left them.
Well, before it was even fully light, I persuaded E. to go to the pond with me and see what could be done. I crawled down into the stinky nastiness, and heaved the closest bag up to him to put in the dumpster. The others were too far in the water, so I retrieved the floating bag paper, and kicked them under the water as much as possible. Good thing too, since later that day, I met the nice guy who owned the land and loved the bog. To my chagrin, we did discuss the pond. He did not take to my idea of dumping gallons of bleach into the water to kill the mosquitoes, confirming E.’s suspicions of fond feeling for the awful place. Luckily we were not standing that close to the said area, for the conversation got around to the fact that sometimes it did dry out. I can only hope that does happen, and that I notice it first, and can get the remaining bags out before he builds a swing nearby or something!

Well, spring has come to the country. I never knew the true meaning of the word fresh until now. The air here smells of dirt, faint flowers, and dampness. I have all the windows open to get as much into my stuffy, woodsmoky house as possible. The wind is so alive. It rushes around the trees, and roars down the hollars (yes, I said hollars-I think I am using it correctly, as in the wind hollars down the hollars, but if you asked me to point out a hollar, I would have difficulty and hope it meant a ravine). It tumbles all the good earth smells about and tells me things. It told me last week to plow up a garden. I saw that others understood this message as well, for it seems everyone has new dark brown soil uncovered- just waiting for small green shoots. How different it will look here when it is brown and dry, but for now all is in contrast. The vibrant green grass, the rich new turned-up soil, and the hints of color on all the trees. My cherry trees stopped hinting yesterday, though. They are bursting out with flowers that surprised me and made me glad I did not go through with my plan for cutting them down last fall.

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The frogs have been my biggest surprise this spring, however. We have a pond (read small mosquito-breeding bog) right next to our house on our neighbor’s land that has a great many frogs as its inhabitants. In the summer they croak and bellow, a nice comfortable sound. Last week, however, as I was painting my cabinet doors, I heard the most annoying sound. I thought it was someone’s home alarm. I hoped it would stop when the person got home. But as the hours went on, I determined it unlikely. Either the said person was lying dead on the floor, or it was something else. When E. got home and said how much he enjoyed the frogs sounds this spring, I just nodded and agreed. So it was frogs, silly me!

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After I heard the call of the wind to get farmin’, I met a new neighbor who said he would plow up my plot. He is wonderful. I met him and his wife, Ida May, and their 60 year old son one afternoon at lunch. Having been directed to him by another neighbor, I interrupted their lunch (of meatloaf, corn, beans, cornbread, and apples- for lunch!) and got to know them. He went to school in my house, and knows every inch of the land here ’bouts. He agreed to come take a look, and one night, he brought his wife and a pick-axe to test out my soil. He was very against the idea of putting my garden in the convenient, flat, open place I had picked and felt it would be better to plant down near the barn. The fact that no hose would reach this far, (and come July, I would not either) did not deter him from his opinion. So with much grumbling and under-his-breath comments like “Well, you won’t grow nothin here” or “Ain’t good ground” he plowed it up for me. I guess being a farmer, he has never tried to grow anything in a new subdivision, and although he might be right about the other land being better, I am sure I can do alright.

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Well, more needs to be said about the wonders of the country and spring, etc, but it has been a long day. I need to lay down, finish my beer, and hope I don’t lose this post while I am putting the pictures up.

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So last week I had this really great post and then lost it in the netherworld of unsavedness. It took me a while to get over the loss, but I never stop thinking. In fact, all this time I have not been writing, I have been thinking. Many times the topics have been too boring to write about (should I paint the cabinet doors inside and have them spread out all over my house, or should I do it outside and risk the bugs drying on them and the cats leaving butt prints?) or too personal for the masses. Oh yes, masses. Check out my stats. I am famous. Either that or all six people who read this have checked my post 121.6 times each.

Anyway. Tonight I had a thought that I will share. Actually, it was not my thought, but then I did think about it, so it kind of became my thought too. I listened to a talk by Kay Arthur, and she was teaching on Titus. She mentioned the idea that many times we lose site of the fact that all of our actions have future consequences. Ok, so that does not sound profound when I actually write it out, but stay with me. I began to think about what specifically I was sowing in my life- in individual relationships and decisions, not just in my life in general. I thought about my girls, my husband, by health, etc. Now I do try to think about this regularly, but in some areas it is just too hard. I don’t really want to- like in how forgiving I am, or how much ice-cream I eat. But tonight I imagined the future- here on Earth , not just in heaven. When I am 63, what kind of house will I have built for myself? Proverbs says a wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down. Which am I?

I just thought all 6 of you could use a friendly reminder that we will all someday reap what we have sown. I want pineapples not poison ivy. How about you?

I love collecting things.  Finding something that I really like and then searching for a new addition is such fun.  I collect quilts, bird things, antique furniture, and tole trays- to name a few.  E. and I love to go to antique stores, flea markets, garage sales- anywhere new treasures might be unearthed.  This past weekend in Bardstown, we went to a few places we had never been before, and that collectors instinct was awakened in me.  I have a large collection of tole trays that I have collected over the past few years, beginning with an old TV tray that came from my grandmother.  They come mostly from garage sales and antique stores.  A few are nice, hand-painted and unusual; most of them are cheap and a few are even kind of ugly.  But taken all together, the collection looks cool (they are all hanging together on my kitchen wall).

Thinking about getting started on redoing our kitchen reminded me that I wanted a few more trays to go above the sink.  This led me naturally to eBay.  Why had I never thought of this before?  Of course eBay would have them!  So I typed in my search, and lo-and-behold- my trays became garbage.  I mean, there were hundreds of beautiful trays- hand-painted in gorgeous colors, all shapes, sizes and subjects.  Some dated from the 1800’s.  I was amazed, and devastated.  I felt like crying.  My heart was heavy.  I told myself to turn the computer off and go to bed.  But I couldn’t- I had to see them ALL.  Finally at 1 am, I shuffled off to bed, strangely aching.

I just did not know what to think of myself.  Was I really that materialistic? I thought that I was doing better about that.  Why did I care so much?  I guess ignorance was better than knowing that such nice things existed and not being able to have them.  (I did not mention that I did not have money for new trays.)  I struggled with these feelings well into the next day when it dawned on me what was wrong.

I had been loving a copy of something.  It was as if all I knew of water was puddles, and then saw a beautiful stream.  Or if I discovered how much I loved pasta by eating at Fazolis and then went to Italy.  Or if listening to Bryan Adams awakened my soul to music and then I heard Gillian Welch.  I had discovered something that I loved and thought it was what I loved, but then realized it was a cheap imitation of the real thing.

It is not that my trays were bad, they just were not the real thing.  How much is this the case in my life?  I think that everything that I love, resonates with me because it is a reflection of something greater- God Himself.   When I discover something beautiful, it stirs me because it is a reflection of Beauty.  When a romantic love story makes my heart long, it is because I am longing for Love Himself.  When I experience joy, exhilaration, companionship, laughter, satisfaction, or rest- it touches me because of what it reveals to me about Truth.  All the good longings that I have are designed to lead me to Jesus.  All the beauty I see is designed to show Him to me.  I should not be surprised when such things happen, but instead rejoice that God has allowed me to have a small taste of eternity.  I hope that I will never be satisfied with less.

I thought today would never come!  This time of the year is so hard to bear anyway, but I had a holiday to look forward to!  So the minutes drug by; they were not bad, just very long.  E. and I get a whole weekend to ourselves.  Mom is keeping the girls tonight through next week.  Just kidding Mom!  Actually, until Sunday- and I am so excited.  We are going to a concert tonight, then off to Bardstown and a Bed and Breakfast there.  I will be sure to post some pictures when we get back.  Today has been so fun, because we actually got some snow!  It was beautiful and we had fun playing in it.  Without further ado:

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As you can see, some of us had more fun than others!  The youngest did have fun at first, but by the time we were taking pictures, she was ready to go in.  I gave them a bath, and then the wanted their hair fixed so they could take some pretty pictures.

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I had to put that last one in to show that she can be happy if she wants to be!  It has been a fun day, but there is much to do to get ready for my fun weekend.  I hope this time away will give me not only a much needed rest, but also something interesting to think and therefore write about.  The monotony that is Jan. and Feb. seems to dull my brain.  Well, I am off!

Well, I did a little research today and found out that the people we saw yesterday were not Amish, but Old Order Mennonites.  Similar in some ways, but very different in others.  The store we were at had electricity, and the aprons for sale had colors and patterns on them.  Hard for a Yankee to understand, but apparently, there are many sects, and even the Amish have many different beliefs.  So, instead of changing my post, I will acknowledge here that they were not Amish, but still very plain.

I had such a lovely day today!  It started out with sleeping in (no school today, so I did not have to get cracking till 7:30) and some mad cleaning.  My mom, my Aunt and a friend came over to see my house and have lunch with us.  It began snowing right before they came which shortly transformed the gray dreariness and made my road seem delightful.  When they arrived, the girls and I showed them around, and I tried to get a word in edge-wise.  Man, those girls of mine can talk! Well, to be honest, it was mostly the youngest.  More on that later.

We watched a “show” put on by I. who demanded that we all sit in chairs and NOT TALK, and pay attention to her as she sang and ran around.  Then S. read a book to everyone (she was an angel, sweet, polite, helpful) and then I sent the girls upstairs so I could have a turn to talk.  The adults women talked about decorating and interesting things and then we all had a delightful lunch.  I. was actually quiet while her mouth was full, but that was the last time she was quiet today!

After lunch we set out on an adventure.  All loaded up in my Mom’s van, we went to a nearby town and visited an interesting furniture store that had some very cool things in it.  My Mom and I have decided that we need to make hooked rugs after seeing their impressive collection.  We wandered around for a while and enjoyed thinking of decorating ideas.

Then the fun began.  We had heard that there was a small Amish community about an hour away from this little town that had some interesting shops, so we decided to see if we could find it.  We then proceeded to spend the next four hours in the van to end up at a small grocery store and buy some butter!  Actually, we had a hard time finding anything since Amish people tend to live in the stix.  And I thought that I was remote!  We saw a sign that I regretted reading aloud, “The Treasure Barn” because when it turned out to be “Scary Junk Shack” I. could not understand why we were not going to get treasures here.  By this point in the trip, I was wishing I had left her at home, she was suffering from no nap, feeling left out, and a terrible sense of self-importance.  She is loud ALL the time, but hours in the van with her can leave you deaf.

After the “Treasure Barn,” we were feeling less sure of ourselves and our ability to find our way back to civilization, so we ended up stopping at a children’s home.  This was very interesting.  We only went there because it looked like a place that might have a bathroom and people who could help us.  It turned out to be a pretty amazing place.  The founders have cared for over 800 children who have either been from foreign countries and needing expensive surgeries, orphans with special needs, or babies born to prison inmates.  They also run a school and many industries.  The couple themselves adopted over 30 children, and continue to help so many.  I was impressed with their vision and willingness to care for the least of us.

They told us the way to an Amish grocery, and so we actually did find what we were looking for.  I was THRILLED to drive up behind a real-life Amish horse and buggy.  It had the orange triangle on the back and everything!  At the store (it was like a bulk foods place) we found many wonderful things and for amazing prices.  There were a couple of families there speaking in , I think, German- not sure on that one- with the outfits and everything.  My Aunt bought my girls all handmade Amish girl aprons and we all bought cool stuff including jam, spoons, dried pineapples, butter, jerky, a rolling-pin, and lots more.

The store was interesting because I could tell that the intended consumers wer people who cooked food from scratch in large quantities.  All the things for sale were for REAL cooking- big stainless mixing bowls, great wooden spoons, pans made for lots of use, and ingredients that took time.  They also had many herbs and such for alternative medicine, which were very fascinating.  There are times when I feel like I do not belong in a house on a farm with 10 kids, and then there are times like today, when I know that I do.

The sweet teenager that pulled up in a 15 passenger van with some siblings, made me smile and hope.  Obviously they were not Amish, but somehow, living surrounded by fresh eggs, buggies, and not much else, seems to make you feel differently.  When I am in the city- out for as much as a night on the town that my city can give- I tend to think about my waistline, my shoes, and what I am driving.  Being in the country, I begin to think about wearing dresses, how many rows of strawberries my land could produce, and building a chicken coup.   I thought at one point in my life that I was not this person.  That I would never buy bulk grain, homeschool, and raise goats, but sometimes- on days like today- I think, just maybe.

The ride home was hard.  I was carsick, I. was louder and more demanding, if that was possible, and I got us lost for a while.  But eventually we ended up back at my place, and we were all smiling and proud of our treasures.  It was a great day.  The company was wonderful, and adventures like these are what makes life so interesting.

I have not forgotten my new mission. Things with the adoption are just on hold for a while until we can get things settled here financially. My heart wants to jump in- despite the consequences, but I know this is not using wisdom. So unless things change, we will have to wait until this time next year to begin the adoption. This makes me sad, but I hope to use this year as a time to prepare for their coming, and to educate myself even more about adopting, Africa, and HIV/AIDS. I read this really good post today that answers many questions about adopting children that are HIV+. This is something we will consider, but we will need to do our homework first. I keep telling myself that a year is not that long, and making wise choices versus impulsive ones is better, but maybe what I really need to do is to stop spending hours reading blogs about people who are currently adopting! It kills me and at the same time, gives me such joyful anticipation of the time to come. I want to be a good steward of all that the Lord gives me, and that includes waiting time!