Friday, November 9, 2018

Doings This Week

We remain busy. I told the Prayer Shawl ladies yesterday that I wish I could have some minor injury that would keep me in bed for a week, so I could stay in my pajamas, eat popcorn, and watch shows ... and slow down. One lady laughed and said, "One day would be enough. You'd be ready to be up again." She's right.

I made a (what do the British call it?) ... a pig's breakfast of this long scarf. I'll be messing with it for a while to make it work.
 But it's off the loom, that's what counts. 
Now I've moved on to a scarf weave with some pretty autumn colors. I love that Wool-Ease yarn. Such luscious colors. {{{Sigh}}} I love autumn. I know, I said that before, haha!
 I made a batch of soap: tea tree, vanilla, and warm cider scents.

And I've spent much time folding, stapling, signing, and mailing out "The Thanksgiving Mice" books. Quite fun! Thank you so much, all you readers out there! (Don't forget to send in your payment to get your book shipped to you!)

The dogs are snoozier and snoozier.
 Despite cute little mouse stories, we are at war with mice in this house, and we've pretty much won the war! We have safe poison traps scattered around, but Adam's carefully sealing up all their access points. Ha!
This little fellow died after nibbling one of my old Chopin albums.

Here's some of my homemade deodorant. I delivered it to a fellow who lives on a boat.
 I mentioned the storm damage to the Methodist church. Well, they threw a big fund-raising party on Wednesday, called a Mad Buffalo Party. It was delightful and so festive!
 A HUGE baked potato bar ~
 Hot chocolate with a stunning assortment of sprinkly things to add to your cup ~
 And fabulous desserts. I chose this one, a mixed apple pie baked in cast iron. Oh my ... so, so good.
 See the buffalo plaid? It was everywhere, a warm theme.
They set up a little Christmas Shop in a closet. It was so fun to finger ornaments, wreaths, Christmas nibbles in cellophane! And everything that wasn't nailed down was for sale.

 They even had a crackling fire on the screen overhead, plus cozy music playing.

I found some prizes at the thrift store this week. This skirt I wore to the Mad Buffalo Party.
 I found two panels of sheers that are a vast improvement over what I had (dark maroon).

Yesterday we had a sad loss; one of my chickens, Autumn, died. I didn't know she'd been ill -- some respiratory sickness. Bless her heart :(

I won't enlarge that photo, because who needs a bigger picture of a sick chicken? I'm now down to a rooster and five hens, and one of undetermined sex who I think will present himself as a rooster here soon. One doesn't need more than a single rooster, and sometimes even he is too much.

Today I'm weaving, knitting, writing and painting a bit, and preparing for the farmer's market tomorrow. I hope your Friday goes well and your weekend is lovely!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Second Printing!!!

Guess what? I had such wonderful response to my new little book, "The Thanksgiving Mice," that I had to go back for a second printing of 50 copies!! Squeal!!! (Or should I say "Squeak" since this is about mice?)
I feel so grateful to my friends who've asked for copies - thank you!
Each time I get a little book copied I try to improve the printing process. Watercolor pages are too big, so I have to remember not to paint all the way to the edges. (Oops!!) And watercolors are pale and often don't copy well at all, so I have to go back and darken/brighten those colors. I do think this printing is the best yet.
I'm using Copy & Print Warehouse in New Bern, a local business started by a lady and her 3 friends. It's friendly there, and they're hard-working and meticulous and skilled.

Plus, they keep chocolate on the counter for customers All Day Long. How lovely!
{If you want to purchase a copy of "The Thanksgiving Mice," please leave me a comment saying so, and I'll reserve one for you. I'll email you back, and then you can send me $10, either via Paypal or by mailing me a check. I'll give you those details in email. Once your payment arrives, I'll mail your book to you.}

One of you dear ladies mentioned that the busy time of year has come because nobody's posting as often. It's true. I'm forgetting to blog until a week has passed, and then I desperately cabbage together all the stuff I've been doing. Well, here's what I'm reading now:

I trust Trollope, even though this is a massive tome. I trust him to slowly, steadily build a fun, fascinating plot and compelling, complicated characters. Plus, with a book this huge, I have good reading for weeks to come!

We had friends over for dinner, and how nice it was to set a pretty table.
Plus, I cleaned the house, which I dislike doing, but oh how nice it is to have a clean house afterward! Adam made a dish called Pig in a Pumpkin that I'd never heard of before, much less eaten.
It was yummy scrummy!
He made some Moroccan bread, Khobz.
The farmer's market on Saturday was very good. Even with businesses still closed from the hurricane, and vendors still gone for the same reason, and only two of us there to sell, it was still an excellent day for me. It's my busy time of year. There's simply not enough time to get all the knitting/weaving done, plus making soaps in time to cure them, and keeping other orders filled ... and now also printing, assembling, and mailing out the books. But it will all get done! Today was insanely busy, and tomorrow I plan to STAY HOME, assemble my books, gaze out my window, think of stories to tell, and pet Beau on the head.
Good night, all!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Busy, Busy, Busy!

This week our winterish weather reversed a bit, and now it feels like autumn. I'm happy to see rain pouring down outside my studio window this morning because that means I can stay home. I've been dashing around All Week Long! I'm not exactly sure where all the hours went, but I know I didn't get done the things I wanted to get done .... I didn't finish this weaving, in spite of sitting up from 10 - midnight last night because I couldn't sleep.

I made a second jewelry pouch for my customer, but messed up the placement of the magnet. Ugh. So I have to go back and redo some of it.

One morning I remembered I wanted to dig some volunteer tomatoes from the veggie garden, nestle them in pots for the winter, and put them on the front porch.

See the ladder? Adam has so many different projects going. That ladder means the porch soffit still needs to be repaired from the hurricane. He's also refinishing our kitchen door.
 He got nearly all the paint off and put on a nice stain, but our poly sealer was hard as a rock in its can, and that will have to be done another day!
I taught Bible study, enjoyed Pamlico Chorale rehearsal, had a most lovely visit with a friend in New Bern (plus lunch in a cool restaurant!), and drove to Greenville with another friend who had a doctor's appt., after going to Prayer Shawl and teaching a piano lesson. The church where the Prayer Shawl ladies meet was heavily damaged by Hurricane Florence. 
 Oriental United Methodist Church

 The roof was not sufficient to the storm. They've had to strip one wall back to the brick.
After months of procrastinating (okay, honestly, just putting off doing it for no good reason!) I finally had my "The Thanksgiving Mice" children's book printed in town.

If you liked my Punkin book, this one is sillier :) The arrival of Thanksgiving on the horizon motivated me to get them printed so I can sell them at the market. If you'd like to buy one (soft-cover, $10 which includes shipping inside the U.S.A.), leave me a comment, and we will try to email or facebook message to exchange addresses.
Punkin, Bernie, Ethel
I hate to tell you this, but last week my three old chickens disappeared. They probably disappeared in the company of a coyote, but we don't know for sure. I miss them; my other chickens are not as friendly. Bernie never, ever attacked me, and Punkin and Ethel laid such nice, big eggs.
Plus, Ned got a hold of one of my other hens this week and traumatized her. She's not recovered yet.
She looks pretty raggedy.

What else? Hmm. I think I decided I don't care what people think about how I dress, haha!
I love wearing mismatched Bohemian clothes to the local thrift store because I know I'll find kindred spirits there.

The pre-rain light this morning was strange. The trees have dead leaves (or no leaves) from autumn and the hurricane, but the stress of the storm also informed the plants that they'd just endured winter, and it was time to put out new growth. So they did.
Please don't look at the mess. We are not tidy people.
Speaking of not tidy ... after the hurricane somebody decided the house down the road was not habitable anymore, and they tore it down.
Can you tell I haven't posted in a while? I'm rambling on and on. I'll end with something pretty and yummy, a pastry Adam made for me a few days ago.

Have a happy weekend!

Monday, October 29, 2018

"Just Give Us the Money" or ...

How does giving work in God's economy?

Last night we watched The Man Who Invented Christmas a second time. It's an excellent movie, I think. Clearly Dickens understood this concept: Some people suffer so that other people can learn to be generous. Tiny Tim suffered in that story so that Scrooge could be given a last-minute chance to repent, change, and open both his heart and his pocket-book.

We learned this spiritual truth years ago from our own lives and the lives of others who suffered. God puts suffering into the lives of innocent, unsuspecting people for the sole benefit of others whom He asks to help them. When the money or clothes or house or car or job is given to the needy person, it looks like that person is the recipient of God's mercy. But by a wonderful trick of God's economy (which is full of surprises), the actual beneficiary is the giver. He is changed ... or he is supposed to be. His participation in the giving is essential, and the more he participates -- the more he gives of himself in the exchange -- the more he benefits.

So, is it better for a person to open his wallet, place the $20 bill in the offering plate, and have no contact with the recipient because the church leadership gathers the money and sends a check? Is it better for a person to take a hungry person to a diner and spend $20 on a meal while talking for an hour? Is it better for a person to buy a $20 gift and drive it to the home of a child who has longed for it, seeing the child, seeing the home, seeing himself there?

We know the answers to these questions. It's better for the giver to be physically and emotionally involved as much as possible. The giving of help or cheer is not just for the sake of the recipient. In God's economy (Who can easily draw help for the poor from any source He chooses, yes?), the giving is probably more for the sake of the giver. Hmm. That thought twists our brains around and makes us uncomfortable. 

Recently Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child ("the shoebox ministry") has come under fire. Many feel that the cheap plastic toys Christians buy and send overseas are an utterly useless waste of money. Even a well-packed and thoughtful shoebox, they say, is a waste of resources. Couldn't all that money on stuff and postage have been better used as a single monetary gift to the church in the area in Africa? Buy a cow herd or dig a new well? It's a compelling argument. If you want to read more about this issue and some sticky, uncomfortable events in the shoebox world, click on the three links below:
Missionary wife breaks the silence.
Samaritan's Purse responds.
Missionary wife explains further.

All these articles are thoughtfully written. It seems there is some corruption on the level of the National Team that Samaritan's Purse is likely unaware of and will deal with eventually. 

The missionary wife extensively quotes the local pastors, who suggest this:
"If we could convince them [the donors] to just send it [the funds], it would be a very good idea, because I feel that even though this is for the sake of Christmas, the things that the kids get, and we thank God that what they are getting is American standard, but still it doesn’t really meet the needs of the children. These kids get a box – they’ve never been to school! They might get a toothpaste that is of a higher American standard, but we also have toothpaste here. So it’s nice that Christmas comes once but we can use cheaper things and in that way Christmas can go on and have a more lasting impact. Maybe we can convince some to just turn that [their box] into money. Because child-centered programs are incredibly important. And there’s a lot that can be done to mitigate the challenges that the children are facing."

The pastors make very good points. They know the needs. The shoebox contents are not as helpful as money would be. This makes givers in the U.S. scratch their heads and wonder what to do. Ditch the shoeboxes? Choose another ministry that also involves the givers individually, emotionally, physically? Doesn't it sound like the most helpful choice is simply to put $20 in the offering plate and have your church send a check?
Image result for occ shoebox

Why does God command us to give? What changes of attitude and acts of repentance does God intend to work in us? I've seen people who would never donate $100 to mission work, happily spent it in packing six shoeboxes and paying for their shipping. Why is that? Is there a joy in giving when someone allows you to fully participate? To decide, in your own inept way, what to give to a specific child far away? Is there any value in the joy of the child when she receives hair bows or toe socks or scented soap or a puzzle of a kitten, rather than having her family get a new cow? (Samaritan's Purse does livestock donations too -- click over!)

Must it be an either/or choice? Of course not. Lots people give to lots of ministries. And this is my personal advice (worth all of a penny!): give in the way that God leads your heart. If you love doing shoeboxes, keep doing it, and pray that God uses it fully for His kingdom, because He surely can. He can accomplish just as many eternal, kingdom blessings with shoeboxes as he can with cows. God's economy works that way.
Image result for angel tree

But if you prefer to support ladies making jewelry and selling it in the U.S., do that. Or digging a new well for better water for a village, do that. Or taking an Angel Tree gift to a child four blocks away, do that. Or sending a big check to a mission board, do that. Be open to the prodding of the Holy Spirit. He will direct you to give in the way that will most pry open your heart and tenderize it, which is His goal. 

God can always rise up people to help the poor, and He will do it. The question is, will I be one of them? When I give, then He takes the gift, whatever it may be, and He changes and uses it to meet His ends. That's the wonder of an economy of need and giving, ruled by the King.

Friday, October 26, 2018

A Week of Autumn

At last: sweaters, gloves, warm pants, hot tea all day, egg nog, fuzzy socks, frantic knitting, snoozy dogs, cold rain, space heaters humming, cold sheets, silly Christmas movies.

I brewed up some chai this morning with these spices.
 However, my new favorite tea is my herbal tea with lemon juice and lots of honey. I picked more herbs this week, probably the last of the year before they die back.
lemon balm, mint, tarragon -- lots of flavor!
 I hope I have enough to last the winter.

Until we can buy a new AC/heating unit (the mini-split system) we're using our space heaters like last year. They are cozy.

I took the old handmade wreath from the front door, removed the dead decorations, spray painted it a little bit red, and added new Christmas flare. It's rather plain and rustic, but I'm no good at interior decor, that's for sure!

I also picked plantain, yarrow, and dandelion leaves and made some more Healing Herb Ointment. I get such good reports on this product!
 Around here, we just call it "green goo."

I've been knitting a la Miss Marple lately ... in other words,  a lot!! This bulky infinity scarf is actually a bright gem blue.
 And this one's a nice pine green. Camera color is crazy!
 They'll both go to the market tomorrow for sale, along with the ointment.
I finally started a new weave this morning. Crazy yarn.
 I haven't gotten very far. My back is achy and I need a nap :) 
 Years ago a friend gave me some nice yarn. The pink yarn in this weave is some of it. She'd started some little baby booties but not finished them. I thought, "Why not unravel those booties and put that yarn right onto my warp?" So I did.
 What am I reading now? I finished Elizabeth Goudge's autobiography and have moved on to a favorite of hers, The Little White Horse. It's very good, very fun, a delightful children's story. 
 I've seen the Moonacre movie (which I regret). It's not a bad movie, but I can tell already it's woefully inferior to the book and takes great liberties. If you have a choice, go for the book.

It's nap time. Then it's knitting time. Then it's dinner time. 
 The October days have sped by much too fast, and my favorite month is nearly over. I've also been singing more and playing the piano more, since I'm back in the community chorus this semester. And I have a second piano student now! Yay! It's a good thing I'm not working a regular job!

Nearly forgot -- for anybody that didn't see the video I made of the little jewelry pouch:
Here's the youtube video:
Love to all! Enjoy these last October days!