Fixing an Old Farmhouse – Future Projects

We had a pretty heavy three-day ice storm, and I am so grateful that we did not lose power, and also grateful that we did not have any trees damaging our home. I also feel for the people that are without heat in this type of cold weather. We are expecting another storm by tomorrow, and that will add to the damage we had, which was nothing compared to other people. The amount of ice was so heavy on the trees that I could hear the tump tump tump every time one fell. Many of our trees lost a considerable amount of heavy branches, including the one near the house, my beloved old cedar tree, which is as old as the farmhouse is, or older. This storm put into perspective the need to remove two more trees that are too close for comfort, although I truly hate to see them go. This of course will be expensive because they are old giants. One of them lost most of its branches, a few of them hitting the porch at the corner but thankfully, only leaving a slight dent on the old roof, which is over 100 years.

With most of its branches gone, at least the weight of this old cedar has shifted away from the farmhouse. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Many of its branches are still hanging ready to fall. For now, we will avoid walking underneath. Another reason why we have decided to add it to the list of trees that unfortunately will have to go. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Another old giant that have been added to the list is this tree, about the same height.
(Photo by M.A.D.)
This smaller branches missed the tin can. Although smaller compared to the other branches, these are still heavy. I saw pieces of broken branches that fell with force buried into the ground about three inches or so. Imagine if that hits one’s head. One of nature’s teachings. (Photo by M.A.D.)
This is one of my favorite trees. Not sure if eventually, it will have to go; I hope not. Time will tell. For now, it is healthy, and it is a very young tree. It was half its size when we bought the farmhouse. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Our friend came around when the ice started to melt on Sunday. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Other little ones came out as well. (Photo by M.A.D.)
It amazes me how these little ones can handle the ice. (Photo by M.A.D.)
It was a beautiful sight. (Photo by M.A.D.)
When the ice started melting, it sounded like waterfalls, like heavy rain, and every time a chunk of ice slid and hit the metal roof, it was like thunder and lightning. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Sometimes, beauty is found in the least expected places. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Even on a frozen flag (Photo by M.A.D.)
Colors become more vibrant. (Photo by M.A.D.)
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap, or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Mathew 6:26 (Photo by M.A.D.)

The list of chores keeps growing around here. For now, the way to tackle these coming up projects will be one at a time, little by little, and all in due time. I will share some of them here. Hope you enjoyed this post.

A Few Visitors

December and January have not been as cold and I have been observing more birds than usual around here, so I take it as a sign that it will be a mild winter. The forsythia is in full bloom, all covered in yellow flowers that did not shriveled with the frost and ice we had or the light snow that never stuck on the ground. The rose bush still has some buds and even a few flowers. Temperatures at night have been in the mid 20s and during the day in the 40s and 50s, with the occasional 30s in the mix. Not bad at all. The birds have been a very welcomed sight that has help me cope with all the sadness and craziness that is going around in our country. My faith has been an anchor, but watching these little ones go on and about with their day and routine has been a pleasure. Nature, as always, has given more than expected, and I have tried to find beauty in everything that surrounds me. I will share a few images with you, and I hope that these bring you joy as well.

The magic of an icy day. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Golden sunsets (Photo by M.A.D.)
The glow of a beautiful moon (Photo by M.A.D.)
The colors of a brand new day (Photo by M.A.D.)
The beauty of a chimney on a cold day (Photo by M.A.D.)
An old light post in the early hours (Photo by M.A.D.)
A gorgeous December moon (Photo by M.A.D.)
A kitty cat sunbathing (Photo by M.A.D.)
Our latest visitor in the early hours (Photo by M.A.D.)
Nothing says December and January like a beautiful Cardinal (Photo by M.A.D.)
The gorgeous orange of a Robin Photo by M.A.D.)
The cutest of them all. Noticed the green grass? Another sign of a mild winter? (Photo by M.A.D.)
Another cutie (Photo by M.A.D.)
A delicious meal for this little one (Photo by M.A.D.)
Ornamental grass seeds are yummy too (Photo by M.A.D.)
An unexpected punch of color (Photo by M.A.D.)
The word adorable (Photo by M.A.D.)
Taking a break from wood pecking (Photo by M.A.D.)
Can you find me? (Photo By M.A.D.)
Wearing a petticoat (Photo by M.A.D.)
Without words (Photo by M.A.D.)
First time seeing this one around (Photo by M.A.D.)
Unexpected (Photo by M.A.D)
These berries are favored by many birds (Photo by M.A.D.)
Blending with nature (Photo by M.A.D.)
The beginning of another day (Photo by M.A.D.)

I hope you enjoyed these, and that looking at them brought you a bit of joy. The hand of God is everywhere if we care to look.

Diamonds in the Rain

Life is not always fair. Sometimes, we are presented with heavy blows and challenges so difficult or unfair that we may think we don’t have any strength left to deal with life. I know; I have been there myself a few times. It is on those tempestuous days when it is easier to go with the flow, walk with a clouded mind, because even thinking hurts (and forget about feeling, you can even go there), that we think less of ourselves. It is as we are punishing ourselves for life’s dealings and for not being the perfect hero we should be. We are fed a heroic image since our childhood, and when we cannot be even a third of that image, we think that we might be the biggest failures on the planet. Well, if anything, we are human, very human, and being human is not an excuse for stopping and letting people and situations use us as a punching bag, neither an excuse to be less. We must pause, yes, but to recharge, to ponder, to regain perspective, and to continue the journey, fair or unfair as it might seem. There is an adage that goes “Pick up the pieces and keep going,” or something along those lines. The “keep going” part is not the difficult part. The hard part is to “pick up the pieces.” When your life has been shattered in billion pieces, at one point, when you are bending as much and as long as you can to pick up those pieces, and each piece reflects back a part of you, you start counting them, and the task seems unsurmountable. That is why it might be easier to go at it one piece at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time, without counting, recounting, or even regretting what has already been recounted more than once. Life can present us with light showers, heavy storms, and even hurricanes, at any time. It is call living. So we are not the heroes we though we grew up to be? Then we must change suits, and suit up for the occasion, as best as we can under the circumstances. We cannot do it alone? Who said we had to do it alone? God is there at all times, whether we choose to see it or not, and Jesus is just waiting for us to call on him. We don’t have to go it alone if we don’t want to. We tend to be hard on ourselves, and less forgiving. We place so much pressure on ourselves, sometimes more than God puts on us. After all, He wants us to love Him, love one another, and welcome His son Jesus into our lives. That sounds less demanding to me than being Mr./Mrs. Perfect – Know it all – Super Performer Hero/Heroine that bleeds success when poked, and is unstoppable. Aspiring is beautiful, achieving is lovely and rewarding in its own way as well, but it is not the only important thing. Our soul is, and it is very easy to lose track of it in the storms of life.

We are all humans and life is not always fair; however, we can start seeing the diamonds in the rain, one by one. God put them there for a reason.

Diamonds in the rain. Photo by M.A.D.

Everyday Thanks

Thanksgiving will certainly be very different this year across the country. So much has changed for all of us. For me, it will be just my husband and I, and the cats, of course. Just a simple meal, and we plan to enjoy the day while relaxing and thinking about so many things we are grateful for. However, there are so many little things to be grateful for every single day. All we have to do is observe with intention, and we see miracles everywhere. I truly believe that, and moreover, I choose to believe that in this crazy time we are living. Yes, 2020 has been though for everybody, but it also has its blessings.

This morning was cold; it was 30 degrees outside. However, I spotted two beautiful miracles.

The “rose bush that could” has a few more roses. This was a little rose bush we rescued. It was covered in weeds, but it made it and grew to be beautiful. I see those last roses in a 30 degree morning as a thank you offering.
I even spotted a few buds ready to open.
This little forsythia bush (another rescue) keeps blooming. I noticed more flowers this morning, and more are ready to open. Another tiny miracle of nature.
Yesterday, I observed one of my favorite autumn moments that I look forward to every year. When most of the leaves have fallen, the sunrays filter through and it looks as if light is dancing through the woods, and parts of it become orange-red. It only lasts a few minutes, not much longer, but it truly is a magical moment.
During that brief time the tops of some trees are set on light-fire.
It is truly a beautiful sight that doesn’t last long and can only be appreciated during this time of the year.
And when the sun sets, and that brief moment of magic is gone for the day, I am thankful that tomorrow, I might get to see it again.

Even in the midst of worldwide sadness, a pandemic, unrest, and other less than perfect situations, we can still be grateful for the glimpses of blessings we have, no matter how simple or small we may think they are; but are they? May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving day, and for the rest of you who live in other countries where this day is not celebrated, may you find much to be thankful for every day of your lives.

Unexpected Visitor

If you visit this blog from time to time, you know that I love to watch birds and take pictures of them. After the cicadas arrived, I noticed that many birds left, including my beloved crows. Also, missing were the Blue Jays and the Cardinals. The cicadas are gone, and many birds are back. I also noticed the absence of the Katydids. I love their loud song during the night in the summer, and I have not heard or seen any. The number of insects around here seem to be low as well, day and night.

Since I moved here, I count myself lucky to have seen my first mixed flock as well as my first Snowy Owl (during the day) perched on a tree near the back woods. I don’t think Snowy Owls are supposed to be in Virginia, but I saw one last year. Sadly, I could not get my camera fast enough. By the time I went and retrieved it the owl was gone. The other day, I got a treat from nature. I saw my first large woodpecker. I have seen many on the small size range, but never one this size. I was able to grab my camera and take a few pictures, although not as many as I wanted to take. It also kept moving, pecking the wood, so its head came out blurry at times.

This is a picture of a smaller woodpecker that I took when I lived in Jersey.

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Photo by Maria Diaz

Here are the pictures I took a few days ago. These were taken from the inside through glass because I did not want to scare the bird. It was very hard to photograph because it kept moving all over. I feel I have to apologize for the quality, but at the same time I wanted to share this beautiful sighting with you.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

I never know when I am due for a treat from nature, so now I keep the camera downstairs, and hanging from the coat rack.

 

 

A Crow’s Tale

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that I love crows and ravens. I think they are underappreciated beautiful birds. These birds have been misrepresented for many years, centuries, and they have been given a negative label, used in horror movies, Halloween spooky props, and associated with evil and darkness. Poor little ones. They are nature’s creatures just as a white dove is, or a puppy, or even a regal peacock. Their song is mocked, called a screech; what is up with that? Have you ever heard a peacock sing or a fox calling?

I am happy to have many crows in my neck of the woods, and I love to see them hopping (yes, they hop like little bunnies) around. One thing that is particular about them is that I see them walking around in the light rain like there is nothing going on, while other birds tend to wait until the sun comes back out and the rain stops. I have been on a birdie binge, and I thought about including these pictures on the previous bird watching posts, but decided to give the crow its own spotlight. I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I did. For the love of crows.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

My favorite. Walking around after the rain, all wet. Pardon the focus, and look at that stride.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Hope you enjoyed these.

 

 

 

 

 

Silent Witnesses

I have a true love for things of the past, antique or vintage items that reflect the pass of time. Rustic, old things that have been through many seasons and survived, that have been in many hands. I don’t know where this love affair comes from, but it has been there always, since I can remember.

On one occasion, someone who visited me for the first time noticed that most of my possessions are old/antique, and asked me about it. I joked replying, “If it is new, I don’t want it.” This amore extends to old books; I find them hard to resist. Everything is so beautiful and enticing about old books – the scent, the natural variation in color, the cover, the typography … I have an affinity for old journals, not only the writing type, but the record keeping as well. What I love about old journals is how well made these were – beautiful covers, quality pages, carefully selected fonts, and rich colorful patterned interior covers, among other attributes. Everything about these journals was done with such careful detail and quality that these are still around today. Here’s an example. The cover seems a corduroy type moss green fabric and oxblood leather trimmed in gold. You can’t find this workmanship quality these days. The interior is beautiful as well.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Here are a few other examples; notice the small details, the lettering, the grain, the rich colors …

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

These were everyday items used in households and businesses, and these were gorgeous, imagine that. Old writing paraphernalia calls my name as well, especially old pens and pencils, some of which I have shared on this blog. I cannot help but melt at the sight of an old desk and chairs. My love for old rulers is obvious throughout my home. Some people believe that one should not bring antiques to one’s home because they have been imprinted with the energy of previous owners, positive or negative, or even to have ghosts attached. If that was the case, I would have an army living with me.

I find beauty and joy while looking at these old things, and have no desire for “the new” unless it happens to be a well made reproduction of an antique piece. I enjoy technology and appreciate the value of some new things, mostly utilitarian, but when new is not needed/required, for me, old is better. Sometimes, I wish I could see the past of these objects of my affection, their previous “lives” in as many settings these have been throughout the decades, and even centuries. To see their stories, to have a glimpse of the many families these have belong to, and the circumstances in which these passed through time. These are like silent characters whose stories are not told – a scuff, a broken piece restored at one point, a distinctive mark … It all speaks of the people around these objects, their lives, even their dreams, in many circumstances. Imagine all the stories these would reveal to a writer. Through the miracle of time, new things become old and new stories are written around them. These things become silent witnesses of time.

 

Turmoil

Turmoil – Great confusion; extreme agitation. (American Heritage Dictionary)

 

Sometimes, it takes turmoil in life to be able to live as intended. It takes confusion and agitation to wake up a soul, to appreciate the little things and to understand what is meaningful in life. To slow down to the speed of now, and realize that now is all there is. To understand the fragility of everything else and its immensity, as well as its simplicity. To understand divine connection between all and between one moment and the next.

Sometimes, it takes turmoil to shake us to the core so we can center our being once more. So we can forget about purpose and become purpose, so we can indulge in being for the sake of being, and listen to the poem of life whispering its verses as we are and we become.

Sometimes it takes turmoil to realize that divinity is just a veil away, and that veil is always wrapped around us, and within us. Sometimes turmoil is all it takes.

Simplicity

Simplicity – The quality or condition of being simple.

Simple – Easily understood or done. Plain and basic or uncomplicated in form, nature, or design.  (Oxford English Dictionary)

 

Over the past few years my quest have been to embrace simplicity. It seems that it may be part of human nature to make things less simple. We take something basic and we build or design other things around it, whether material or non-tangible such as rituals, ceremonies, celebration, protocols, and so on. We are embellishers by nature. We may become obscure, and sometimes obtuse, for the sake of completion, in our search for becoming whole. We attach rituals and a series of steps to spirituality, and even tools and other gadgets to complete the package.

Many times, all the preliminary stuff diminishes the joy and meaning of our intention and makes our target feel farther than it is. Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it in the name of wholeness, greatness, status, or self-preservation? Is it the nature of being, and therefore inescapable? Of having the experience in the material and the spiritual? Our entire civilization, society, speaks of it. We have taken the concept of shelter or the basic need of eating, for example, and built around it. Hence all the gadgets and toys we enjoy, the mansions, the fine cuisine, and all the emotions and meaning that we attach to these things. Even in the search for simplicity we overdo or complicate things – meditation groups and techniques, lists and journals, gadgets, rituals … .

Do we go back to find simplicity because we had enough or because we lost that part of us, the sense of it? Is it because without it we do not feel whole? At any point of our lives we may try to return to it, and the quest begins (sometimes with all the bells and whistles that we may attach to it). Is it the beginning or the end? Or a circle, a cycle of life?

This post is an example on how to take a simple concept and make it complicated.