Autumnal Miracles

Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons, from the weather to the colors, and particularly the scents. Every tone and shade seems to become richer and deeper. Around here, this is the time when I can see the colors change and the scent in the air speaks of transition. I say around here because in many other areas nearby the leaves are almost gone and it is starting to look bare, but for me, not so.

Unlike last year, the hues around are vibrant.

It is a bit of a messy season too, lots of cleaning to be done, and preparations for next year. I guess the beauty it holds makes up for it. If you look around, and you look well, there are tiny miracles happening: the last of a sprout or flower, the beginning of another, a young plant displaying the colors of the more mature and royal ones, tiny birds fluffing up, deer changing coat color, and farther views on the horizon … so much to see.

When a world goes to sleep another awakens.
A hidden world comes to light.
Nature prepares and makes the best of what’s left from the previous season.

Trees go into deep slumber to awaken refreshed in the spring. I’ve heard that trees have hidden faces in plain view, and that if you look closely, they will reveal its face to you. It is something you know as a kid and wish to see one day. I think I did.

The face of an old tree that has gone through many seasons.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Enjoy this season, and try to find the beauty in it, the hidden eternal beauty.

The Five-Dollar Miracle – On Writing a Hymn

Writing The Five-dollar Miracle was a different and exciting experience. It presented a set of new writing challenges, and took me out of my writing mold at the time. One of the challenges was writing a church hymn and a brief sermon for one of the chapters. Having no previous experience other than my writing, it gave me the opportunity to stretch the pen and to be open to receive and let the pen flow along with inspiration.

As a writer, I am open to inspiration at any time, and to different stories, even when that means stepping out of genre and running with a different type of story. I wouldn’t like to be encapsulated in a specific genre, and I understand that goes against traditional rules. Inspiration rules my pen, not genre. I will share the hymn Miracles Abound on this post.

Miracles Abound

Miracles abound,

everywhere I see.

Angels of the Lord

casting blessings here.

Hard at work in our heart,

pouring joy and love.

God has sent His thousands,

carrying blessings from above.

THE FIVE-DOLLAR MIRACLE – The inspirational story of how a small miracle, a five-dollar miracle, changed a stranger, a pastor, a congregation, and an entire country.
Available via Amazon.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and may miracles and blessings abound in your home.

After the Storm

Last week, we had tropical storm Zeta pass by our county. Our area received strong winds and lots of rain. At one point, I became a bit worried about the roof. Will it hold? Immediately, a favorite Bible verse came to mind. It is one I have written on a blackboard in the kitchen.

2 Timothy 1:7

Having experienced hurricanes Irene and Sandy when I lived in Jersey, both late fall big storms, I realized that my worries were valid, however, a bit out of proportion. Our minds play games when we feel vulnerable. We all experience many seasons in life, some more challenging than others, but through it all we survive, learn, and become stronger. Although fear is a normal human emotion, if we let it take root in our lives it will prevent growth and development.

As writers, we attempt to portray our characters as real and believable as we can. Even super heroes experience fear and face it. That is the moment when transition happens, followed by growth and development. Characters evolve through the progression of the story; they don’t remain the same. They grow and continue to evolve whether that evolution ends up being positive or negative. A character may experience fear and learn, grow from it as it conquers it, or become paralyzed and eventually, destroyed by it. The important issue here is that characters don’t remain the same, at the same level throughout the story unless the writer has a specific goal and determines so; however, with purpose.

Sometimes, fear comes from not understanding something or from denial, and many times, denial comes from fear, thus perpetuating a circle. Whatever the outcome, a character will advance the plot. Dinorah Sandbeck, the main character on The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, resisted her birthright in part because of denial and fear of the unknown. Once she gave in to knowledge and acceptance, she was able to embrace her purpose and ultimately become. However, you can see this transition happening and evolving throughout the trilogy. At the end, she becomes what she was meant for, and fulfills her birthright. The Dinorah Chronicles is available in paperback and eBook formats via Amazon.

We face many storms during our lifetime, some stronger than others, but ultimately, the human spirit holds on and goes on with the help of God. When the winds stopped I expected to see a mess outside, and thought that the few flowers that were left in the garden would be gone for good. Yesterday, I spotted this through my window, and I thought, it is never too late neither hopeless.

After the storm roses. Their color is so rich and beautiful.

When Reality Mimics Fiction

I came across this open letter to President Donald J. Trump from Archbishop Vigano, and I was very intrigued as to why this has not been shared on the news more, and not at all on the news channels I watch regularly. It warns the president about a global reset, and a system that is created to erased our rights and freedoms, and that has been instituted in other countries, and is to be implemented by the end of this year in more countries. If you are familiar with Catholic hierarchy, then you understand why this was such a bold move from this Archbishop. I found it so interesting because of his use of words that I decided to share the letter here, and let you make up your mind about it. If anything, it makes you ponder. I also find many similarities with The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, hence why I am sharing it.

The Damsels of Cain

In The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, evil is personified via an organized well-funded group named The Damsels of Cain. The Damsels of Cain is a female-run organization spread all over the world, and its male disciples are under female leadership. Males wear a mark in the left wrist, while woman wear it in the right wrist – a black tulip inside a pentacle. Their main leader is Dana Ringold. The Damsels of Cain are led by evil. Their purpose is to recruit young females to establish as many chapters throughout the planet. They congregate in secret temples all over the world, where they initiate new members, baiting them with the allure of riches and power. Their main objective is to target influential men in various organizations (science, politics, technology …) to eventually obtain unified political power on the planet. Once they have achieve this, evil can reign on Earth.

The Blue Lily Society is the counterpart to this group. It is a society established centuries ago with the sole purpose of serving good and protect key individuals. They pose as ladies social clubs to maintain anonymity. They raised Dinorah Sandbeck, the main character, and the one who leads the decoding of a new Earth and the awakening of the Sunrise Souls. Together, and along with divine intervention, they must prevent the rise of evil.

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. Isaiah 65:17

If interested, you can find The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy on Amazon in eBook and paperback formats.

RAMBLINGS OF THE SPIRIT
THE BOOK OF SHARON
SUNRISE SOULS

Dracula’s Teeth – What Are The Odds?

The ground around this property seems to change constantly. One day there is a small dip on the ground, and a few weeks later is either larger or it disappears; I don’t know why this is. The only thing I could think of is moles; there seem to be plenty around here. We are always finding things that come up from the ground, especially after heavy rain. The latest is so timely and fun that it made us laugh.

Over the weekend, my husband was blowing out the leaves and cleaning up around the house when he came across something unexpected near the well. Unexpected because this is an area we walk around all the time. He called me so I could see it. He said, “What are the odds?” I laughed so hard that I cried. Here is what came out of the ground, and mind you, soon it will be Halloween. Perfect timing. And of course, it was the perfect opportunity for a picture.

I can tell that these are the vintage type because they look better made and of better quality than the ones you find today at the stores. The type of plastic is also different.
Another view.

We are puzzled because we mow that area all the time and we never saw it. It also lets me know that I am not crazy when I see a slope or dip on the ground that wasn’t there before, because that must have been buried completely at one point and it just surfaced. So what are the odds?

This gave me an idea; to start collecting every little oddity that comes out of the ground and save the items in a box, and share it here from time to time. I have found plastic soldiers, broken china, vintage bottles, odd metal things, marbles, a tiny birdhouse figurine, Tiny colorful beads, and other things. Some of them we placed in the garbage and some ended up in the faerie garden. Other items ended up as part of my décor. Here are a few examples.

Vintage bottle. This is one of over 100 bottles we found.
Pieces of broken china. Love that blue.
Marbles, beads, tiny cup?
My husband found this half-buried where the pumpkin patch will be located. I placed it in the faerie garden.
Mysterious spikes that look like arrows and odd hardware. These came out of the ground in a row and almost damaged the lawn tractor. My husband dug out four of them. He was going to trash them, and I told him I wanted them. He questioned my use of these, but now he likes the way they look together. The other one ended up in the garden. We still don’t know what they are. Maybe some old fencing parts?
Every time I find an old piece of hardware, I display it on top of the mysterious arrows. My husband laughs because I like this stuff.
These I found at different times on my way to the mailbox. They just popped out of the ground one day, and I spotted them.

Some call it junk, some call it treasures, I call it history. Hope you enjoy this post. Happy Autumn!

Twelve Farmhouse Projects – Dead Tree

Following up on my latest blog post about future farmhouse projects, we have taken one off the list, or should I say, it took itself off the list yesterday. The large dead tree fell, and that left us with one less tree to take down, however, with a large mess to clean up. Because I started the Twelve Farmhouse Projects series of posts, I thought it would be natural to share the update. Here are a few pictures.

A few pieces scattered around as it fell. The crows will not like this; they used to perch on that tree.
Not sure how easy it would be to cut into pieces. There was a dried up poison ivy plant on that tree.
View of the base. The rot is evident.
At least there won’t be any stumps to take out of the ground.

That takes care of one tree, two to go. The most important one is the one near the home. Slowly but surely.

Twelve Future Farmhouse Projects

For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

Hebrews 3:4

The previous posts on “Fixing an Old Farmhouse” series gave an idea of where we are as far as how much work we have done on this 1910 farmhouse. We started by clearing and cleaning up the outdoor spaces, followed by fixing up the interior of the home, and now we find ourselves going back to focus on the outdoors, as there are many things we have to handle. This post is about those future projects, which will be tackled little by little, as this has been and continues to be a cash-only renovation, hence why it takes longer. Patience is a virtue.

The Roof

The most expensive project will be the installation of a new metal roof. This is a task for roofing professionals, and we wouldn’t take a chance with it. Any slight mistakes would eventually become expensive issues. For now, the roof is coated and will last a few years.

The roof as it was when we saw the place for the first time.
The same 110 year old roof after coating.

Dangerous Trees

Another important project is the removal of an enormous tree that is not looking too healthy, and is in proximity to the house. We have two other dead trees to remove, large but those are far away from the house. This is another project that is a bit expensive and must be done by tree experts.

Large tree next to the side entrance.
As you can see, it is massive. It is covered in moss, which is not a good sign.
The tree has many areas like this one.
This is another tree that is dead and must be removed. It is big.
Unfortunately, the third tree is my beloved monster tree. After a much dreaded discussion, we agreed that it would be best to remove it. Poison Ivy is growing wild inside and around it, and it is very difficult to remove.

The Driveway

Another item on our list of outdoor “must handle” issues is the driveway. Over time, the soil changes. When it rains the driveway becomes very muddy with two large areas that retain water. A couple loads of gravel should take care of the issue. For now, we have been collecting pinecones and pine needles from the property and placing them in the problem area. It works temporarily. In addition, we have to patch the old cement part that was uncovered.

Not a pretty sight now, but worse when it rains.

The Porch

The porch ceiling needs to be repainted eventually. The cement floor needs to be tiled to prevent further deterioration. Right now, it is cement that we fixed, patched, and painted. Ideally, I would like to place slate tile or brick on top.

What it used to be when we bought the place.
For now, we maintain it until we can take care of it properly.

The Well

The well has come a long way from what it used to be. We would like to enclose the well with a small shed-like structure. It will provide more insulation from the cold weather. So far, we fixed and painted it, but it needs that extra step.

It used to look like this.
Now it looks like this, an improvement.

Large Shed/building

Although we have two small storage sheds on the property, one of them an existing original old log building, those are being used to store garden tools, heat pellets, and other outdoor items. We need a larger building where my husband can work on his wood projects. This will be its future site.

It will be located at the far end, and we will probably build it ourselves, depending on wood pricing – ready made kit vs. building it from scratch.

Pumpkin Area

We need to prepare an area at the back (right side) of the property where we can grow larger things such as corn or pumpkins. We tested an area this year, where we grew pumpkins and cantaloupe, and it seems a good area for that purpose. Although we will not enclose it, we will have to clear some stumps and grass before planting.

Future site of the pumpkin area. Those stumps were trees that we cut down, and will be removed.

The Christmas Tree

Last year, we cleared and cleaned up the area at the entrance of the driveway. It was full of overgrown shrubs and weeds. During the process, my husband discovered a medium size pine tree that he liked, and he decided to leave alone. This tree has been growing healthy and free of weeds and is looking very nice. My husband wants to dress it up in white solar lights that can be left on year round. His obsession with this tree puzzles me, but I am going along with it, and he doesn’t know it yet, but I already ordered the lights. This will probably become the first project on our list.

This tree has become my husband’s pet.

The Rain Garden

As much as the Christmas tree is my husband’s obsession, the rain garden is mine. There is an area at the front of the house, near the veggie garden, where there seems to be a dip or slope on the terrain. When it rains, it seems to retain water. This area would be perfect for a rain garden. However, since it is at the center, I would like it to become a focal point. I am envisioning a water feature (solar, of course) a small bench, a few pavers, one or two spot lights, a few larger stones, and of course the plants. Maybe one or two stone critters as well. This is the future site of the rain garden.

In this picture, you can see the puddle of water; that is the spot for the rain garden.

Side Steps Entrance Concrete Area

Although there is grass on this area, when it rains it becomes very muddy. My husband wants to place pavers or pour concrete to minimize the muddy mess.

The area where we will pour cement or place pavers next to the side entrance steps.

The Arbor

This is a project that I am excited about, however, I am not sure if it is practical because sometimes, we bring material through the area where it would be placed. My husband doesn’t like when someone comes down the driveway, bypasses the parking area, and ends up parking very close to the house. He says that if a vehicle were to disengage the parking gear or someone miss applying the brakes on time, they would land in the living room. I can see his point. The arbor would signal the end of the driveway, and would serve as a pretty stop sign. In the past, (not around here) I have seen this happen to two people. Their cars were not in parked gear. My husband, being a mechanic, has seen this scenario many times, hence his insistence. If the arbor idea were to be implemented, wisteria would be a good choice and it would have to include an area for the name of our place – Black Crow Cottage.

The arbor would be located after the last light post signaling the end of the driveway.

The Woods Trails

I am not sure, but I think this will be the last project to be tackled. It is something that my husband wants to do in the future. He wants to create pathways around the wooded area. He wants the pathway to end where the “Christmas tree” is. He already started the three entrances, and placed a few logs from fallen trees. It will take time and effort, and he knows it, but it is something he envisions and would love to do. I like the idea, although not so much the type of work involved.

One of the three entrances that will connect to a main pathway. Here you can see that this one will lead left or right.
A section of the woods.

These are twelve future projects that I will share here when we are able to complete them, one by one, little by little. We have come a long way from where we started, and there is more to do. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Fixing an Old Farmhouse – The Bedroom

The experience of fixing this old farmhouse has been everything we thought it would be and much more. We do not regret it. The last room to share on the “Fixing an Old Farmhouse” series of posts is the bedroom. Technically, this house was listed as a three-bedroom house, but currently, we use one of the bedrooms as the living room because we set up the living room as a dining room, and the other room is set as the office. You can view these rooms on my previous posts.

The bedroom was the first room we fixed. Like the rest of the house, it was in very bad shape and required work. The walls had significant damage as well as the ceiling. The floor had some minor issues but we decided to install laminate flooring due to the uneven space between boards, some discoloration, and other minor issues, something quite normal. The room is 15 x 15 feet and it has two floor to ceiling windows due to the low ceiling (seven feet or so). The house does not have any closets, except for the one in the living room, something common for this type of construction. The room had a makeshift shell of a closet that was falling to the side, kind of hanging there with no support. We thought about using vintage his and her armoires but settled on the idea of building a walk-in closet around the chimney space, which worked out great. The chimney was in rough shape and had to be covered anyway so the space was ideal for it. I thought that building the closet would rob the room of space but it worked out well; we don’t miss the space and it was a much needed use of it. Because this was the room at the far end, we knew that it would be the coldest room. The pellet stove does a great job at heating the house, however, we decided that adding an electric fireplace on a corner would be a good idea, just in case we needed extra heat on a cold winter. This arrangement has worked fine.

Here are a few pictures of the before, during, and after process.

Here you can see the condition of the floor as well as the unfinished molding that might have been left like that by a former renter.
There was a mattress on the floor but no frame, ripped-off linoleum, and tons of garbage that we had to clean out before starting any work. We figured out that the reason for no bed frame was that it was impossible to bring anything upstairs due to the narrow stairway and low ceilings. We had to fold the mattresses using heavy load straps to be able to get them down. We could not throw them outside through the windows. It was a challenge.
The opposite side facing the other room (now the office). Here you can see the many layers of wallpaper, paint, and several materials used by former owner/renters.
The closet wall was loose; nothing was holding it secure. You can also see the old chimney.
Building the closet. You can see the other room behind (the office).
The other side of the room, where the bed would be located. There were areas on the floor that were painted brown and other square areas were left in the natural wood. I could not figure out why.
Although the closet connects, we decided having two doors and separate spaces was the best option.
First wasp bite. I was a bit nervous because I didn’t know if I was allergic or not.
Eventually, one gets used to it.

AFTER

The finished side near the entrance that connects the office.
Closet doors have been installed (don’t mind the cabinet that does not belong there). We painted the doors nutmeg.
“Ahh, it feels good to finish one room.”
From the office to the bedroom, at that same spot. Room as it is now.
Here you can see the closet doors painted nutmeg, and a few cats.
After building the closet there was enough room for a queen size bed and two night tables. The use of the space worked out.
Opposite side.
The cat that came with the house. She was living under the house, and now she has no desire for the outdoors.

This concludes the Fixing an Old Farmhouse series, for now. There is still some work that needs to be done, mostly the porch flooring (slate) and the future installation of a new roof (biggest ticket item). There are a few things to build outdoors, and a garden to develop slowly. I will share more on future posts as we complete each project. It has been a labor of love, exhausting at times but rewarding in many ways, fun too. I hope you have enjoyed the before and after of the process, and hope that in some way, these posts have been inspirational to someone.

A Garden at Rest

The garden is ready to go to sleep, and it seems that the planting/harvest season went so fast this year. I am very happy with what the garden offered, and this year was better than last year. There were a few green tomatoes left in the vine, and the rest is done. I picked what was left on Saturday. It has been a bit cold, a bit early. Last year we lost tons of green tomatoes due to an early frost. Until next year.

Grape tomatoes were a plenty this year.
Yellow tomatoes did very well too this year.
I grew these potatoes in pots; it worked.
This year I learned that potato pants are gorgeous when they flower and more beautiful when they produce this green fruit (poisonous) that looks like a green grape tomato. The seeds inside can be planted ahead of time to grow the plant, but it takes much longer for a potato plant to produce from seed than if planted from the tuber/eye. Who knew?
The last two pumpkins.
The first two pumpkins.
The largest pumpkin we picked sits in the back. I think is the nicest one. We only got two cantaloupe, which we picked a few days early but turn out delicious. First timers.
The birds were lucky this year. They enjoyed the sunflowers, and I collected tons of seeds for them. I saved a bag for planting next year.
A round patch of a different type of grass seems prominent this year. I like it.
These colorful beauties are still in bloom and the butterflies are loving them. These get many winged visitors.
Finally, a better picture of a cardinal. These were hard to photograph. They don’t stay put for long.
A happy visitor who sometimes makes his rounds around the garden. I think he belongs to a neighbor, as I always see him coming from the direction to her house.
A little bird makes friends with a scarecrow. I was lucky to take this photo.

As the garden gets ready to rest, I will be ready for cleanup and ready up for next year plantings. We have enjoyed many blessings from it, and I could not ask for more. Happy Harvest!