On Home and Country, One Day at a Time

Photo by M.A.D.

When I feel that my life is lacking balance in a certain area, I feel out of control; I think most people do. When a bad or out of the ordinary situation happens, people find themselves off-balance, in fear, and experiencing many other emotions. Most of us deal with the situation as best as we can, everyone in their own way. The repercussions throughout the many areas of life, sometimes leave you numb or in shock for a while, paralyzed, fearful … But there is a time after, when it feels as if a bit of sunshine is coming through the cracks. It is then when we can take control and keep living. The current state of affairs worldwide might leave people feeling afraid and hopeless. Unfortunately, no one is going to take care of our “house,” and no one is going to fix it for us. One has to find and create balance, whether one finds it through faith or not. It is up to me to keep on living and tend to my “house.”

Every person is dealt different cards, some people have to deal with very bad situations, many from infancy. For those people, balance might sound different, and they must fight for it, many times, throughout their whole lives. It can only be done one day at a time, but it can be done. Many times, we are sent an angel here on Earth, a person that makes a significant difference in our moment of need.

I hear about inflation every day, and how bad the economy is, and I see so many local businesses shutting down. I see the almost empty shopping carts at the supermarket, the stress in people’s faces. At the same time, I see the kind, and the giving, and the good existing alongside the bad. There is nothing I can do about many of these things except the things that are in my immediate control – adjust my budget, grow food, shop less or tweak a grocery list, clean up my pantry and freezer by using what I have instead of letting it go bad, donate to my local food pantry, pray, help someone I might be able to help … and so much more. We all can do something tangible (and spiritual) one day at a time, and that is how we take back control, how we tend to our house and country, how we find our balance points, and how we keep our spirits up. Do your own Declaration of Days. One day at a time.

Love and Light.

Needful Things

Hurricane Sandy, the monster storm that happened off-season (October 29, 2012) in cold weather, and devastated the Jersey coast, taught me many things, one of them, preparedness. During that time, we were two weeks and a half without power, and it was cold. We had a generator, but finding gas and propane was a bit of a challenge, long standing lines at the nearest operable gas station that lasted 3-4 hours plus. I still remember the hum of the generators at night throughout the neighborhood.

Around here, we are 100% powered by electricity. In the event of a power outage, we would have to change the way we do things. We will be working in a few changes for the future, such as the installation of a small woodstove that has a feature for cooking as well, and we are looking into a solar generator, and other power options. Looking for options, I found out that there are many great items, which have gone in price considerably over the years. As people think more about climate change and the state of the economy worldwide, the prices of “doomsday” and preparedness items have gone up. I came across this very inexpensive small collapsible camping stove. It was only $9.99 + free shipping on Ebay. In the event that one would need to heat or cook something quick and simple a candle would suffice, or even a tiny can of fuel underneath. I think it is a good option when propane and gasoline are not available, or the temperature outdoors is too cold to cook on a grill or fire pit. There are many other larger size camping stoves that can be used with a variety of fuel options, but this was just something small to have around the home. It fits in a drawer, and you can fold it and pop it open, as needed. It is also very sturdy.

Two pieces make the whole thing.
What it looks like ready for use.

I am not a prepper or a doomsday believer, but I like to have options available if needed. I am not affiliated with any company, but when I find something I like, consider interesting, or of benefit, I like to share it. From candles to solar powered items, there are many budget-friendly items available if one cannot afford the very expensive ones. I hope you enjoy this post. Feel free to contribute with any ideas.

Amiel’s Journal

Photo by M.A.D.

Here’s a little jewel from the past, Amiel’s Journal. I picked up this book years ago at a flea market, and now I am making the time to finally read it. It was among a large quantity of books spread on the ground, of many topics, many of them old, and this one caught my eye. It was originally written in the mid 1800s although this particular edition is from 1863 and is in very lovely, almost pristine condition. It amazes me how a little book like this one can survive more than a century, 159 years to be exact. This is volume two. I wished I had located volume one as well.

It was written by Henri Frederick Amiel, a Swiss moral philosopher, poet, critic, and a traveler. However, it was translated by Mrs. Humphry Ward (Mary Augusta Ward), a British novelist who wrote under her married name. She was a prolific writer but also a critic, journalist, memoirist, very active in society, and believe it or not, was actively against women’s right to vote. That truly surprised me coming from a very accomplished woman at that time. Puzzling.

As I read it, there are so many juicy bits found in its pages. If I were to be harsh, I would say that the book is Amiel’s mid-life crisis bordering in depression and disgust; however, as I read, I understand it is so much more than that. I have laughed, but also found myself saying out loud, “Oh no, he didn’t.” Of course, one has to understand the cultural and societal views of the times and read it under that context. For example, on page 13, he logs on his journal a few lines about what he is reading at the moment. Then, he expresses what I thought was a brutal book review, ouch! On page 16, on another entry, the reader can appreciate his understanding of the many characteristics a woman possesses, and he calls her “monstre incomprehensible, delight and terror of men.” More than once, he talks about Christianity at that time, and his view of Christianity (as a religion) permeates throughout. He writes, “The religion to which Jesus professed must be disentangled from the religion which has taken Jesus for its object.” I understand his sentiment, what he is trying to say, although I not necessarily agree. In my opinion, Jesus is Christianity, but Christianity does not necessarily reflect Jesus, on this day and throughout history. Maybe that was his point after all. There is so much more inside this journal. The fact that it is the year 2022 and I am writing a blog post about what this gentleman wrote on his diary over a century ago blows my mind.

I am enjoying this little book immensely. Eventually, I will be offering this jewel in my shop. Very old books deserve a longer journey.

Gardeners, a Word of Caution

I hope it comes back, but I’m not sure it will.

It seems that once the To-Do list goes down, another task comes along unexpectedly. We have one more tree to add to the trees that must be cut down. It happens to be my favorite pine. I loved to look at that tree during the seasons, and I even took some pictures of it and shared one or two on this blog. Unexpectedly, the tree became brown. It happened fast and in a matter of a couple days, not even a week. One day I looked at it and admired it, and the next time I looked it was brown. We don’t know for sure what happened, but we think that either my husband or the utility company killed it. My husband sprayed some Roundup near it while trying to get rid of some stubborn weed growing under the blue shed. Upon research, we found that Roundup is lethal to pine trees. By the same time, the utility company/city was spraying nearby to kill trees that might grow around or overtake electric lines. If the wind carried some of it and the needles absorbed it, the tree would become brown fast. Now the dead tree is a danger to the house, so it will need to be removed. In the meantime, the weeds under the shed never died.

Removing large trees is quite expensive, so we are tackling one tree at a time and budgeting for each one. I will certainly miss this tree, and for now, I will enjoy its reddish-brown hue and hope for a miracle.

On Water Conservation

You do what you can do, and more if you can. When we moved to the farmhouse we had to learn about wells. We never had a well system as our source for water. The well in the property was not operable, so we had to fix a few things, more than a few. We hired an experienced company to change the old parts and get it working. Later on, the pump burned, and we had to install a submersible pump, which we learned to do ourselves – $$$. A year after, the existing pipe broke and we had to install a new one, and again, we did the work ourselves saving money. We learned that the pressure has to be monitored from time to time to prevent burning of the pump in certain conditions. By now, my husband knows how to do the job and he monitors the pressure a few times during the year. We also learned that outdoor wells freeze during the winter at freezing temperatures, so we installed a device to keep the pipe warm. But most important, we learned that wells do not last forever, and can run dry at any moment. To dig another well is very expensive. We have become more aware of our water usage, and also, have a barrel system in place to collect rainwater. A mesh filters leaves and debris. We use this water for plants, cleaning things outdoors, and any other outdoor use that we might need. It helps us maximize the longevity of our well. In the event of a power outage, we can use this water for non-drinking or cooking applications, as long as it is not during a very cold winter. We learned to sanitize the water as well.

To give you an idea in case you want to save some water, here is a picture of our barrel system.

Water conservation system

I hope you enjoy this post.

Blog Etiquette

Photo by MAD

There is common sense and there is Come on, have some sense! There are certain boundaries that we respect as bloggers and as writers. We love to read what other fellow writers have to say about many topics, but we cannot subscribe to every blog because most of us do not have enough time to enjoy the many posts that interest us and would love to read, so we compromise and subscribe to a few that mostly match our interests. We also do not take fellow bloggers business contacts and bombard them with 7 or more posts a day, especially, if that fellow blogger has not subscribed to our blogs. It is in very bad taste. It is absolutely and without doubt very bad blog manners to subscribe quickly to someone’s blog and use their business email as a dump for all our many blog posts from our many different blogs, especially if that person has not subscribed to our blogs. Never force your blogposts on someone, and never assume that someone’s business email is a free venue for your seven plus posts a day. It does not look good for you as a blogger, as a writer, or as an entrepreneur. There is a fine line between sharing your writing and transmutation of it onto a Mega Beg-a-ton. What we think as good business practice to reach as many people as possible in less time to increase profits might not be the best idea, especially, when forced and not requested. Aggressive marketing sometimes backfires.

So, in the spirit of friendship, from one blogger to another, never cross that line, and if you have, please back up a few steps. Don’t become another feather in the wind.

Restoring an Old Farmhouse – Porch Garden

Fixing up this old farmhouse has taken energy, time, and a bit of money; however, it has been rewarding. One of the areas in which we worked early on was the porch garden. We had taken recycled bricks from the chimney we took out in the kitchen and reused it in the area. Later on, when we created a small garden around the house using existing plants, potted plants, and white marble chips, we realized that we needed to make the area blend with the rest. The garden around the house is completed now. We moved around and relocated some potted plants. We positioned the concrete bench that was on the porch to the left side of the garden, just to match the right side of the garden. It worked out well. One more project off the long list.

A bit of background for readers new to this blog. The old farmhouse was in very bad shape when we bought it. It had been abandoned for many years and weather/time/renters/squatters had been rough on it. The value was on the land. By just looking at the derelict home we knew that anything we were to do from that point on would be an improvement. That has been a goal, to improve and add value over time.

BEFORE

A very scary view of the porch when we bought the farmhouse. There was no garden area, and everything had to be fixed up, everything. With much love and patience, my husband and I have been doing all the work. I have been writing about the quest on this blog. To read on the progress so far, you can visit my blog posts under Restoring a farmhouse or Restoring a garden.

AFTER

The brick area before.

We reused some of the bricks on the latest garden area we created that is located next to the faerie garden. We will be reusing the chimney bricks on another project.

I hope you enjoy the post.

Love and light.

Restoring an Old Farmhouse – Haint Blue Porch

Continuing with the long list of things to do around here, it was time to repaint the porch (original to the 1910 farmhouse) and the floor, so that’s what we did. We were lucky to find a gallon of paint for $9.99 at the Home Depot on the “mishaps or Oops shelf” and it was exactly the color we needed, a haint blue or a sky blue. It is a custom in the South to paint the porch ceiling a light shade of blue. It is called haint blue and there are many variations of this blue. Long ago people used to paint their homes a haint blue to ward off evil spirits and that’s how the blue color got its name. According to legend, evil spirits could not cross water and the light color blue mimicked a water surface, thus discouraging evil spirits from visiting the home. Later on, people painted the porch a haint blue shade because it discouraged bugs from landing on the porch; it gives the illusion of open space or sky. Although these seemed two very good reasons for choosing this color, especially, reason number two during the summer, I just love the color. It seems light and airy, refreshing, and gives the impression of light during the evening. I just love it. Many homes in town display some variation of this blue on the porch ceiling.

Many years ago, we had painted the ceiling a dark blue. We wanted to keep the original ceiling, so we just scraped and painted it. We like the look of the small boards. We caulked some areas before repainting. Here’s the before.

Before

AFTER

The brick area will be our next project. We will be matching it to the rest of the garden by replacing it with white marble chips and changing the layout a bit. The bricks were recycled when we took out the small chimney in the kitchen. We will recycle and use the bricks on another area of the garden. The to-do list is getting a bit smaller.

Hope you enjoy this post.

Love and light.

Pretty Little Town Celebrates Big

I love this town. Over the past six years it has grown on me. It reminds me of the little towns in a Kinkade painting or an old-fashioned Christmas movie. I was able to enjoy the Independence Day celebration and will share some pictures on this post. The town dressed up in red, white, and blue and delighted people with different activities during the three days of celebration. The town’s parade and fireworks were held on a Saturday.

The town dressed up, and homeowners decorated their homes for a patriotic competition.

FIRST PLACE WINNER of the Patriotic Decoration Contest.
Second Place was one the churches.

This is a historic town dating back to 1777 and is evident throughout; history is embraced. Its churches are beautiful and there are many buildings with lovely architectural features. One of the highlights was to be able to read about its history in strategically placed signs throughout Main Street.

Competition was the original name of this town, and in 1852 it was changed to Chatham . Competition Alley, one of its early streets remains and has been highlighted.

There are many other interesting buildings in town.

The local dentist office displays equipment from old days. Inside, it is all about modern times.
I am glad those days are gone.
The Star Tribune, local newspaper.
Shadetree Rarebooks – antique bookstore window display.
Hardgrave Military Academy (1909).
Entrance to Chatham Hall (1894), a preparatory school for girls. This building was featured in the movie Crazy People (1990) Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah.

Chatham was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historical Places. It is approximately two square miles and has a small population of around 1,350, give or take. It is called “the prettiest little town in Southside Virginia.”

I hope you enjoyed this post.

When Your World Crumbles and Your Truth Vanishes

I didn’t plan to write this blogpost, but deeply felt that I needed to write it. Life is just life; it is not perfect, and it is not guaranteed; it just is. Life can be all that when we decide that we want to receive all the gifts that God has readied for us. Life can be a real mess, or it can be sweet. This world is far from perfect and expecting others to be perfect is expecting something I cannot deliver myself; I am far from perfect. I can only love because God loves me first, otherwise, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I am an imperfect decent person that once thought she had it all together but did not. I am happy that I found that out. When your perfect world crumbles, when your beliefs, habits, everything you knew as truth, or everything you knew as “you” comes toppling down, the only thing left is the real you, sometimes, the real scared you. That is a good thing; believe me, I have been there. Now, you can sweep away the pieces (don’t even bother to pick them up) and continue your journey (don’t even have to start a new journey, there is no such thing, just your journey).

This world is loud and fast; don’t pace yourself to it. This world is unfair; don’t expect fairness or righteousness from it. Instead, be for others what you were expecting for yourself. Don’t let the noise be louder than your faith. Faith in what anymore? In the only one that lived through it all, the unfairness, the rejection, the let-downs, the hate, the noise of the times … Jesus lived through it all. When in doubt, ask Him directly in a real imperfect but sincere prayer; He will answer you. I know. If you want to know Him a bit better, find him in the chronicles of His life (in the pages of the bible.) Don’t take anybody’s word for it; you find Him yourself! If you really want to know Him, you ask Him for help, and it will be given to you. He will reveal who He truly is to you. You’ll get your answer.

So don’t let this imperfect but beautiful and lovely world rob you of your peace, light, and love, instead, live like you have never lived before – connect through Him. It makes all the difference.

Love and light.