Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Decorating...

Aimee came from New Hampshire, she and Rachel had a plan. 
It involved lots of cinnamon, some cookie cutters and mandatory giggles.
They were making ornaments to decorate for Christmas.
Thick, sticky, fragrant dough, rolled and cut and baked, low and slow, until they were hard as wood.
We hit an antique store, (or 3) while they cooled. 

And brought home a few small treasures. 

Once back home, we broke out the paint and glitter, and went to town. The end result?
A big pile of precious, sweet smelling, ornaments.  We'll tie ribbons to hang them with and have little delights to use or gift.  And a sweet memory to treasure. 


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Tick tock...

From my earliest memory, my mother had an antique clock that presided over the living room mantle. The wood was dark, the glass on the door wavy and ancient.  The finish on the metal face was crackly, and each Roman numeral had been painstakingly painted by hand. The decorative bit under the face is reverse paint on glass, in gold and green. A heavy brass pendulum hung behind the door, perfectly still.  Though the original key was tucked inside the case, the clock never worked.

Last summer my sister called.  "I am getting rid of things. You don't want mom's old clock do you?"
You bet I did!  She brought it with her when she came to visit next, and with joy in my heart  I put it in a place of honor.  There was something missing, however. The clock had no voice, it's hands stuck in the same place they had probably been for the last 60 years or more.  It seemed ridiculous to me that though this clock had been a fixture in my life for EVER, it had never once worked.

Recently I hustled it off to my favorite jeweler.  "I have a guy that can fix this," he said.  "It will take about 2 weeks.  Yesterday he messaged me. "Your clock is ready. It keeps perfect time. Stop by when you have a chance, it will be $150."


I was there by noon today.  The jeweler showed me how to carefully wind the clock. To my delight, it has an alarm, too!  Like magic, there in his noisy, busy shop, the pendulum swept back and forth.  I carried the clock home carefully, polished its wood with lemon oil, and set it back in its new rightful place.

I stepped outside for a moment, and when I came in the entry room was not silent. There was a resonant ticking sound, like a welcoming heartbeat in my home.   All day the hands have been tracing across the the crinkled face, keeping flawless account of the minutes. It's slumber over, the voice of time is finally echoing comfortingly through the air.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Special...


Last summer, Rachel and I were at a Fiber Fair, and my phone rang. It was a friend calling, and when I picked up I could hear background noise on her phone that sounded just like the background noise where I was standing.  Sure enough, she was also at the fair, and asked me if I knew what color wedding gown Rachel was planning on. I didn't, but told her I guessed something in the ivory family.  She didn't divulge more, but I had my suspicions.  

A bit later that day, we bumped into her, and she had a basket filled with luscious yarn, in the prettiest ivory tone.  Hand spun Merino wool, fine, yet warm. 

Months passed, the wedding gown was bought, and a few weeks before the wedding my friend stopped in, with a gift.  When Rachel opened it, her eyes filled with happy tears.  Carefully laid on tissue paper, was a beautiful, amazing, hand-knit, shawl. It was intended for a fall bride to have to cover her arms if the day was chilly, and it was beyond lovely. "It must have taken you days and days," my friend replied, "Actually, it took months and months!'  She then added, "You can use it for a receiving blanket for a baby someday, too, and really make it a family heirloom."  More tears ensued.


How could anything be more special?  A gift of creativity, kindness and love.  Something to be treasured for ever.  Thank you, sweet Felicia!


Frosty morn...

This morning dawned clear, the sun spangling on the thick frost that covered everything.
A ruined feather from a Silky chicken caught my eye, each tendril etched against the grass.

Abraham donkey's coat is so thick that frost covers his back, mane, and ear tips.  His fur insulates him so well that his body heat does not melt the crystals. I push my fingers deep under the fluff, and his skin is toasty warm.  Chanel is coated with shavings. We cleaned her pony cozy yesterday, and she clearly enjoyed a snuggle in the deep, fresh, bedding. 

Everyone gets grain for breakfast, and they look forward to the meal.  I let the goats into the yard while they dine, so there is no arguing with the horse and donkey over which food belongs to whom.  I am teaching Bravo how to fetch them back to the pasture when they are done, and he is making progress with the work. Afterwards we come inside and the dogs eat. Then Bravo takes an upside down nap. Apparently herding goats is BIG WORK.

A visit to the local hardware store yesterday showed that Christmas is bustin' out all over.  We bought our Christmas tree and have it up, I will work on decorating it tonight.  

There is a fire dancing in the wood stove, and the sun is melting the ice crystals that gathered during the cold night.  The day is full of plans and possibilities, all beginning at dawn out in the beautiful, frosty, morning. 


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Contentment...

This will be a short little post. It's about contentment.  I am writing this at 6:30 in the evening.  I had a perfectly lovely day; it was busy at work but not too busy, and the day flew by in a blur of nice people and pets. 

I took a break mid-day to check on the critters, toss them fresh hay, make sure everyone had thawed water. I threw the ball for Bravo and delighted to watch him stretch, flat out, and race after his quarry.  He always tosses in a few leaps and twists, all glossy in the sun. It makes me happy to see him, young and strong, handsome and glad.

I had thawed some local, grass fed,  ground beef for supper. All day I pondered what I would do with it. Around 4:00 PM I decided I'd make a meatloaf. About once a year I want meatloaf, and this was the night.  So when the last dogs left at 5:30 I dashed to the kitchen and threw one together while the oven heated. Then I popped it in to bake and went outside to feed more hay, and check all the water containers again, and make sure the poultry were locked up safely in their nice, freshly cleaned coops. 

Once back inside I fed the dogs, put on the super cozy, soft, comfy PJ's my sister gave me, (she lives to make sure people she loves are warm and snug,) and cooked the rest of the supper.  And now I am tucked under a quilt on the sofa. The dogs are snuggled in next to me. It's very quiet, except the hum of the washing machine taking care of the days towels.  The house smells of supper, and my husband will be home any moment.  And I am steeped in contentment.  It is one of my very favorite feelings.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Thankful...



Most years Thanksgiving is our biggest entertaining event, and I spend a lot of time planning, cleaning, organizing and getting ready.  However, since we've recently had a wedding here, the place was in pretty good shape.  It was a good thing, too, because food poisoning or a virus or such laid me low for days before the event. 

And since you probably don't know this, the days just before a major holiday are always very busy grooming days, because people want their pets clean and sweet for company visiting.  Our grooming  schedule was full, and I didn't want to disappoint anyone, so I soldiered through some 10 hour days, (with a LOT of help from my sweet Rachel.) I was better by Wednesday, but far from my usual self, but I got much of the the food prepared and house company ready. 


 Thursday I felt more like myself. I finished up the the food preparation, tucked the turkey, (which was raised on a sweet farm a mere 2 miles from our house and butchered by, then sweetly donated to the feast,by my friend Rai,) under a blanket of butter-soaked cheesecloth. 
Soon the house was filled with people and my favorite moment happened... when I stop and look around and see everything looking warm and festive, and hear the happy sound of chatter and laughter.  At the core, this is what I am most thankful for. The people in my life. I am so grateful that they come here to share the day with us. Each of them brings joy. 

 I did a bit of cuddling with some of those special loves this Thanksgiving. 

(OK, not "people," but much loved!) 



As always, sister Deb helped SO much. We make a great team in the kitchen. And then nieces Aimee and Elyse, along with the ever-stalwart Rachel, chimed in to bring food, help prep, decorate, clean up, and so much more... 

They are learning how to prepare and present the feast, so that someday the baton can be passed, and they can carry on the traditional gathering, with a flavor all their own. Meanwhile, it is my fervent hope that they are tucking happy memories of these events into their hearts and minds. 

Friday dawned, cold and clear. It is sister Deb's birthday.  She is one of the unfortunates who has a birthday that kisses a major holiday and she is short shifted on celebrations. But she SO deserves a celebration. She is one in a million, and I am so glad she is related to ME. 
As tradition has it, we gathered for breakfast (or brunch, or both!) and decorated gingerbread houses. Because, in our family, the next big holiday starts now... 
We start with generic Ginger Bread House kits, then embellish the heck out of them.  Meanwhile, we snack on leftovers, talk, giggle, conspire and have a peaceful and lovely time. 


I know that many families are ripped by strife and angst. For the most part our family is cohesive, and for that, I give many thanks. And now I gird my loins for the upcoming holidays. My first decoration is prepared. 





 I hope the holidays are sweet for all who read my blog!






Sunday, November 5, 2017

November and gratitude ...

I love the month of November.  Even in New England the weather is often mild, with lots of gray, crisp, days that make cozy clothing and a fire in the wood stove seem just right. It's a month to make hearty casseroles and fragrant soups, home made bread, or pans of corn bread steaming in a cast iron skillet.  With the busy days of summer behind us, the firewood stacked and the gardens put to bed, it seems a time to take a deep breath and rest a bit.

And there is Thanksgiving, like a bright promise on the calendar.  Usually this holiday marks our biggest party of the year here at FairWinds.  This year, however, the wedding overshadowed it, and the thought of feeding a mere 15-20 people instead of 80 seems like a walk in the park. Besides which, much of the normal preparation of the house and yard has been done in advance for the wedding festivities.  And, because we have hosted Thanksgiving for so many years, and because we quite like the same old menu we have been been preparing for all this time (with a few slight variations along the way) cooking the meal is a familiar and comfortable exercise.

Today I unpacked some favorite Thanksgiving decorations.  A cornucopia basket to hold some squash and such...
the handsome, colorful turkey and a copper bowl full of dried flowers join with hand knit pumpkins from my niece to cozy up the top of the 'fridge.


I gathered up some of the remains from the wedding flowers and made a happy decoration for the dining room table.  I like how Bravo is photo bombing the first shot.

As I puttered about and placed holiday items here and there I was warmed to think about how soon the house will be filled with family and friends and the savory scents of the traditional feast.

And the clocks changed to standard time. Most people I know complain bitterly about this, but to me it feels like I've been given a whole extra  hour to do with what I will.  I like how evening gathers early and the warm light from the house spills out the windows, welcoming.  It feels so cozy. It makes for long nights cuddled up with a good book (or my laptop!) and early bedtimes.

The leaves are mostly gone from the trees, the ones that are left are coppery and rich.  Now I can see the pond from my windows, glinting beyond the barren branches.  The horse, goats and donkey grow thick, luxurious coats. I push my fingers in deep and feel the warmth held close to their skins. They lean in for more attention, enjoying the sensation. The garage walls are lined with bale after bale of hay, perfuming the air in the sweetest possible way. I carry it by the armload out to the animals, and lean on the fence, watching them greedily pull mouthfuls of summer-scented food into their ever-hungry mouths.  Flocks of Canada geese V overhead, transporting me back to my childhood home when I hear their lonesome calls. In an instant I am raking leaves with my father, and smelling the scent of them burning from their fragrant piles, as tendrils of smoke climb up into the pewter sky to meet the migrating geese.

Yes, I love November.