Monthly Archives: August 2012

Seasons are-a changin’

Raise your hand if you are weary of this here present season.  I.  Usually I don’t think too much about what the weather is doing.  Living in the midwest doesn’t stick us with too much of anything really to get all shaken up about.  But goodness gracious, this has been a doozy.   For one, this has been the first year of real farm life and it has taken me outside more than any time in my life in the summer months.   I really am not a fan of  hot weather.  For two, I am at an age that sends me into smokin’ hot mode.   Almost on an hourly basis.  Actually Pops and I are realizing that stress and anxiety are triggers for those old hot flashes.  So every time I engage in a conversation with anyone that has any substance at all,  it sends me flashing.  I have decided it is not worth talking any more.  Oh yeah, this blog entry is about the weather.  I could write a whole chapter on that other subject.  Can I just ask, DOES IT GO AWAY?  ANYONE??  DOES IT?

What is your favorite season?  Why?  How does it nourish you?  What does it bring to your life?

Spring?

Summer?

Fall?

Winter?

As I said, seasons don’t last too long around here.   I never really get a chance to tire of it before a new one comes along.  And with the arrival of a new season there is a feeling of romance.  New sensations.  Breezes.  Sun.  Clouds.  Snow.  Rainstorms.  New growth.  Hibernation.  Rest.  They all bring a coziness in their own way.

Winter is my favorite season.  All the other seasons are nothing short of spectacular but, for me,  none like the solitude of winter.  If you have spent any time with me here,  you may have guessed by now that I love and cherish solitude.  The silence of winter.  All the critters sleeping.  The trees standing quiet and humble in their bare nakedness.  I could stand to learn a thing or two from the trees.  Many people don’t like winter.  Too long.  Too cold.  Dark.

Our seasons can be compared to a day in our life and we can see how important “winter” is.

Morning…we are coming alive after a long nap greatly needed for rejuvenation.  Spring.

Day… life is busy and a buzz.  All engines are ignited and we are in full motion.  Summer.

Evening… life is winding down.  We prepare ourselves for quiet time.  Autumn.

Night… quiet and packed away.  Silent and dark.  Hibernating.  Winter.

We spend as much time (or we should) in the night hours as we do the day hours.

Winter is a time for renewal.  For rest.  Our bodies desperately need this time for slowing and regeneration. And to do this, we need quiet.  God gives us quiet.  Sometimes when I go outside in the winter it is deafening,  beautiful,   silent and still.  It is a time for listening.

Take time to rest every night.  Take time to rest every winter.  Take time to listen to what silence says to us.

God bless,

Karen

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Legacy

noun
1 a legacy from a great aunt: bequest, inheritance, heritage, endowment, gift, patrimony, settlement, birthright; formal benefaction.
2 a legacy of the wars: consequence, effect, upshot, spin-off, repercussion, aftermath, by-product, result.

There is more to this than I once thought.   Things.  Money.  The farm.  The company.  All that stuff does mean a hill of beans really.  But not really.  Things, money, the farm, the company have provided us with a lovely full  life and speaking for my three sons, they would like to spend time on the farm long after we are gone.

In the past 10 years or so I have decided that that stuff is not as important as other things.  Things that we can’t necessarily touch or feel.  Our story.  It is the only thing that remains of us truly.    Who we are in our soul.

What about a Spiritual legacy?  That is  important to me.  Passing on  a positive, affirming legacy.   The great news is we  can all do that whether or not we were passed a positive, affirming one.  Whether you know it or not, we are leaving a legacy.  What does yours look like?

Everything we think, say and do contribute to our legacy.

Good or bad,  a heritage is passed on to   us from our  parents.  They were left with a heritage.  Their parents were and so on.  The way our grandparents raised our parents has a huge impact on who we  become.  Knowing what they know, they raise us in accordance.  Realizing the environment certainly has an impact,   I  believe  the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Usually.   We are profoundly affected by their behaviors and history.

How did they treat others?

How  did they express emotions?  With thought?  Or did they just react?

How did they looked at the world?  Did they look at the world with open eyes?  Did they look at the world through a pair of cynical eyes?

Were they racist?  Were they tolerant?

How did they show  anger?  How did they show joy?

Were they faithful to God?  What/who were their idols?  Money?  Power?  Alcohol?  Materialism?  Themselves?

Did they like what they did for a living?  Did they complain about it?  Or was it a positive experience for them?

Were they negative and griping?  Or did they usually find the good?

Were they kind to others?  How so?  Were they giving to the needy?

I think you get the message.

The answers to those and many more questions give us an idea of who we become as adults.  We are “marked”.

So, we are marked.  Or are we?

Just because we are passed something doesn’t mean we have to pass it to our children.    I was passed many wonderful dishes in my day but I  never liked canned spinach  (still don’t).   It  made my stomach turn.   When they  passed the green glob to me, I said, “No, Thank You.”    But I  had to eat it anyway.  But when it came to raising my children,  I chose not to pass them canned spinach.

We have that same prerogative with all the other heritage dishes that are passed our way.

Keep His decrees and command, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time. Deuteronomy 4:40

How do we do it?

We just have to claim it.  It is ours for the taking.  As always, when we pray for something that God is just dying for us to ask for, it comes full on.  We just have to ask for the guidance.

This has become a vital issue for my husband and me.   And as far as I am concerned it is the only issue.   Am I being the  mom, friend, sister, spouse, cousin that God created me to be?  And if I can get to heaven and God says to me, ” Well done my good and faithful servant.”  then I know that I  have left a legacy worthwhile.

It’s all about intentional, prayerful, thoughtful living.

God bless,

Karen

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Day is Done, Gone the Sun.. Part II

When we entered the barn early, early in the morning I felt like I was a character in  Charlotte’s Web.   They (the goats, chickens, guineas and turkey) were quiet and tucked in.  Their eyebrows  raised with curiosity.  “What are the people doing here this early?  Is something the matter?  Are they coming to take us away?  Who are they going to take?  Where would they take us?  It is still dark outside.”

When we grabbed our first chicken, then they knew.  “It is the chickens they are after.”  Then all heck broke loose.  All the animals were running about, back and forth, this way and that.   I just had to remind myself, this is farming.  This is what it is.

Loadin’ up the truck

Off to the Amish farm we go.  It took about two hours to get there.  Pops and I drove separately because we cant figure out how not to.  It would be too complicated. What if,  heaven forbid, one of us wanted to go somewhere different than the other while we wait for the birds to get their haircut and other stuff.   So, we followed each other there.

Amish farm bright and early

The farm was lovely.  I don’t know what it is about farms, nature, animals. But when you  put all that together I feel like I am going to burst with joy.   I was so taken with this farm.

They were unloading chickens from two other vehicles.  One guy brought 275 chickens and the other brought about 20.  All I could think about was what if they gave me their chickens back instead of mine.  Their chickens we dirty and skinny.  Ours were the “suburban” looking chickens.  Clean, plump, shiny and new.  Beautiful color.  “I don’t want their chickens,”  I said to the kind Amish man.  He said, “You’re not getting their chickens.”  I said “ok”.

We got our chickens back.  26 of them.  Weighing in at 4-5 lbs to 7 lbs.  Some of them are monsters.  We got them home and I am starting to feel a little queasy about eating these things.  The day was extremely emotional for me.  By the time I got home late in the afternoon I was physically ill.  It was like the day the goat died at my hand.  This farming thing is really emotional.  I know I will get use to it as time goes by but this was the first time I have ever eaten an animal that I have raised.

Pops kept making me take photos of the chicken.  I have decided I don’t like taking pictures of food.  Seems really odd to me.   I will take them, but it makes me feel the same as when someone makes me pose for a photo.  It is unnatural.    I am weird.  But aren’t we all?

We grilled the birds and ate them.  OKAY.   So what did they taste like?  The white meat was perfect.  The dark meat was a little chewy.  Not tough.  Just chewy a little bit.   We attribute that to free ranging.  Running around here gaining muscle on their little bones as opposed to force-fed birds in confinement.  The flavor is outstanding.  And we are happy about it.  It was and has been an adventure.  It would be really cool to find someone closer to process them and I think we probably could do it ourselves but that discussion is for another day.  We will enjoy for now.

God bless,

Karen

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Day is Done, Gone the Sun.. Part I

…For my meat chickens.  Tonight, we pack ’em up and down the road they go.  They are called Freedom Rangers.  Sounds like a motorcycle cult, don’t you think?  They have grown to be beautiful birds.  The roosters are now crowing their little heads off and wreaking havoc on the hens already.  The hens scream bloody murder when they are chomped on  the neck by some mean ol’ beak.  There are clearly too many roosters out there.

Freedom Rangers – Day 1

Freedom Rangers- Day 100

We will take their food away tonight at beddy bye time.  And in the dark of night around 4:30 we will sneak in there while they are sleeping and load them in cages and take them about 2 hours  from here to those mean ol’  chicken people.  They will be ready to be picked up by 3 in the afternoon.

It will be a little odd to take my first bite out of something we raised.  This is our first time doing this.  I am confident that the results will be satisfactory.  I will let you know next post!  Wont that be something?  Animal today. Culinary review tomorrow.

Speaking of culinary review, we had a delish dish this weekend that included (shhhh)…. chicken. ( I dont want them to hear me)   I  WILL  be making this again.   Please enjoy.

Brazilian Chicken with Coconut Milk. (again, I forgot to shoot photo.  I cant remember to do that.  I will try harder.)

When I say coconut milk, I mean the real kind in a can.  Thick and yummy.  Not the processed junk that you can drink.

So simple and totally health right.  Serve over rice or pasta.

1 t. ground cumin

1 t. ground cayenne

1 t. ground turmeric

1 t. ground coriander

salt and pepper to taste

4 skinless chicken breast.  You can use any chicken part you want.  I used 6 skinless boneless thighs.

2 T. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 T. Minced ginger

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

3 tomatoes chopped and seeded

1 can of coconut milk

1 bunch chopped parsley

Mix all spices in a bowl and dip meat in spice covering both sides.  Cook chicken in oil in skillet until done.  About 10 minutes on each side.

Remove chicken from pan and add into pan  onion, ginger, peppers, and garlic.  Cook until tender.

Mix in the tomatoes and continue to cook 5-8 minutes.  Stir in the coconut milk.  Mix thoroughly.  Serve over chicken.  Garnish with lovely parsley.

Beautifully spicy!

Since I try to properly combine food for easier digestion, I served this dish without pasta or rice.  Mixing the starch (rice, pasta) and protein ( chicken) is not good.  So, I served it with another veggie on the side.  For leftovers, I took the sauce left over and served it with green beans over rice. 

Wont you check back next time for Part 2 –  The Field Trip to the Amish Farm.

My experiment with flying laundry late at night.

Have yerself a super day.

God bless,

Karen

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BIG BIRD Whisperer and Velveeta

I was walking down to feed some guineas this afternoon.   Down in our garden that is about a 10 or more  minute walk.  I know…you don’t have to say it…. my garden should be closer to the house.  If it was, I would miss all the goings on out there.  As I came around a curve a very large bird flew out of the tree line in front of me.  Woah.  It rested on the haystack for a second then flew several feet to a resting spot on the ground.  Two dogs were with me and they ran quickly toward it.  It was a hawk.  A juvenile male Red-tailed Hawk.   This is very unnatural behavior for a hawk to be and stay this close to us nosy creatures.   Our dogs walked right up to it and were literally nose to nose with this guy.   I was then clued in that he must be hurt.

I ran back up to the house to get Pops.  And my camera.  I was not going to let this photo-op slide away from me.  I was just hoping the guy was still going to be there when we got back.  But that would mean he WAS hurt.  He was there.  He was hurt.   And he was a beaut!


I made our son go with us so he could see the cool bird up close.  We see these birds of prey all the time but not a foot away.  Ever.  He said as we approached, “If he doesn’t make it, do you think we could get him stuffed?”   He had just woken from a nap.  Not clear yet.  Funny bird.

This bird  was really defenseless.  He was scared but allowed us to do what we needed to  care for him.   VELVEETA!!!  You gotta love it.  Velveeta is good for many things except human consumption.  I musta been in a total brain fog the day that thing fell into my grocery cart.   Pops tried to hand feed the wild hawk Velveeta.  He wosn’t hungraaay.

I called the state park nearby to see if they could direct us.  They directed us to the “Return to the Wild Ladies”.  Cool.   I called them ladies and they were here in a flash.  They rehabilitate  birds of prey and send them out into the wild.  They will even perform surgery on them.  If they cannot fly they try to locate a nature center for them to live.  If all else fails they have to euthanize them.  Apparently it is against the law to not.  There are lots of laws pertaining to the protection of the wild birds.   Whoda thunk?

Bird lady doing her thang.

Henry the hawk goes bye-bye

Today, before this event, I did not know about this group of ladies.  I think it is awesome that such a thing exists.   Bird Ladies.  Wonderful.  “Feed the birds,  tuppence a bag.  Tuppence.  Tuppence  Tuppence a bag.”

Our world is such a wonderful place.  We all have such unique gifts.  And I thank God that our gifts are as diverse as we are.  We are blessed to be so different.

Pops and my son went on to the golf course.  My son hit a ball across a creek where a hawk dove down and started bouncing up and down on his ball.  Wings flopping up and down trying to kill the thing,  I think.   When they got to the other side of the creek, the hawk flew away with his ball.   What does all this hawk business mean?  Whew.

The weather is awesome by the way.  I hope yours is too.  I got a skip in my giddyup.

God bless,

Karen

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Unlearn and Learn

Have you ever wanted something but weren’t willing or wanting to do what it takes to get it?  I find myself in that place now.  I actually wasn’t willing but now I am.   I only became willing when I realized it wasn’t going to just come to me in a dream in the night.   I just don’t want to be patient while I wait.  Or rather work for it.

I have painted in acrylics for 15 years.  I have painted pretty contemporary for 15 years.  When you paint contemporary, to an extent,  you can make up rules.  Maybe not even,”to an extent”.  You CAN forget all the fundamental rules that we learn when we begin to paint.  Values.  Perspective.  Drawing.    I still paid attention to those elements.  Somewhat.  But there was clearly a contemporary bent to them.

“Honor”

“River of Hope”

So, since  I haven’t picked up a paint brush for two years, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out the good ol’ oils again and paint using a more representational approach.  HOLY COW.     I have forgotten how to paint.   I have adopted so many  bad painting habits in the past 15 years.  Especially paint mixing.  I basically did not mix paint.  I’m not sure what I did but it is not translating well in oils.  AT ALL.

But I want it to.

But I don’t want to take the time to do it right.

The past few months I have tried to just FORCE the old habits into my painting.  One disappointment after another.  Well,  maybe if I paint another subject matter it will improve.    It’s like skiing.  I kept thinking that the reason I did not like skiing was the venue was not good.  Like Jackson,  Wyoming??  Colorado?   Come on.   I didn’t want to admit it was that I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.  That is why I don’t like skiing.  That is why I am AFRAID of skiing.    That is why I am afraid of walking into my studio these days or those days for that matter.  I was wingin’ it.    I don’t want to wing it anymore.  I look at  phenomenal  artist’s work all the time.  I want to paint like them.

So, I begin with a color chart.  Of 4 colors.  White.  Black.  Red and Yellow Ochre.  Mixing 120 colors that those 4 colors can make.

Color chart using white, black, red and yellow ochre

Pretty amazing you can get that many colors, huh?  Great exercise.  And I will only use those four colors ’til I get a good grasp.  Only then will I add more colors to my palette.  But still SOOOO much work to be done to GET WHAT I WANT.

I read that it is much better to paint from real life than from photographs.   I have painted from my maniac imagination for the past 15 years.  So, I not only have to mix paint colors accurately but I also at the same time have to look at a real object and interpret the shape, colors, values,  and perspective.  Sounds like chewing gum, walking, milking goats and eating pizza at the same time.  That is how foreign this is to me right now.   I used to know how to do it.  But I forgot.  It is not like riding a bicycle.

BUT…I want to do this right and I will go to any length it will take to get it right.  The easiest thing for me to do would be to walk away from it.  Go milk a goat that I cannot drink from.   Or paint the way I was.  But I feel a strong call from God to do this.  The last thing He wants from me is to “wing” a gift He has given me.   So  I WILL learn it.  Because He wants me to.   And like everything He wants for or from me, the end result is great satisfaction.   It is hugely rewarding and ultimately brings me and others joy.

I’ll let you know how its going.   I hope it doesn’t take the rest of my life to learn how to paint one painting.  But I guess that would be ok too.

The following painter, Anders Zorn,  is the “author” of the 4 color palette.  He has painted many beautiful pieces with just those four colors.

Anders Zorn    ( 1860-1920)

God bless,

Karen

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Connectivity

When I publish a post, this program congratulates me for getting another one done and then attaches a quote from usually who knows where about writing.

The last post’s quote was:

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”

I like that.  Writing letters seems to have become obsolete.  A very sad thing indeed.  I am reading a book right now that is about letters written by artists to friends or family where they include art sketches within the letter.  This stuff took place from the early 1800’s to mid 1900″s.  Really cool stuff.  In many of  the letters there is a tone of great excitement to be writing the letter or responding to a letter received.  They seem to have been written with such care.  And consideration for the other person.

Most people communicate through emails.  They are not “letters”  most of the time.  It seems to me that email most often is a tool to communicate logistics, plans, or something that is in motion.  It doesn’t seem to me that it is used to communicate on an emotional level really.  Throw facebook and twitter in the mix and what in the world is going on?    There is a lot of it flying back and forth,  but is it improving relationships?  I don’t know.  It seems that communication is going great guns but relationships seem to be suffering.  How can that be?  In the “olden days”  letters were a way of growing and sustaining relationships when we couldn’t be together.

I don’t really know what I am saying here other than it is just different than it used to be.  Right or wrong.  There is a flurry of activity now and I’m not sure what it all means.  Back then letters were far and few between.  We waited for them.  The contents were treasure (usually.  Bad news could come via letters too!).   And receiving one was clearly a gesture of effort.

I used to write letters.  Anyone who received them would agree that I was/am not the best composer of letters in the world.  But they were special.   I have most of  the letters that have been written to me stored away.  They are special.  When we went through my mom and dads stuff when they moved out of their house, we found all the letters that we had written them over the years. Obviously,  they meant something to them too.

What are we saying to people when we email them?  HOW are we saying things?  I realize that all the words we write on paper or computer don’t have to have profound meaning, or care,  but why not?  If we care about the person(s) that we are communicating with then shouldn’t our words be intentional and written with care?  Shouldn’t we use these great tools that we have the privilege of using to grow our relationships rather than simply throw words at each other?  I’m just thinkin’ a little today.

Did you know that the eggs you buy at the store are anywhere from 1 month old to 6 months old?

Did you know that eggs have a natural protective coating on them  that allows the egg to sit at room temperature for up to a year?  Now, that is what I call a great service from our friendly chicken!  If the coating has  been washed off, it needs to be refrigerated and the shelf life is reduced drastically.  Commercial chicken people wash the eggs.

Did you know that the USDA doesn’t require farmers to pasture feed the chickens that produce free range eggs?  Should I repeat that?  Read that statement above again.

It is a glorious day to be alive.

Have a blessed day,

Karen

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