Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Kitchen of the Inner Hippie

 Today is the day of destruction. We've waited and dreaded the pulling out of the upper cabinets, but if we want the boxes of food and dishes to return to the kitchen, it must be done. Today:
 Adam had a burn pile yesterday and will have one again for these cabinets.

 The dining room looks worse and worse before it will look better!
 Meanwhile, Lady Nature is looking quite lovely, and even when she drops her decorations, she makes a carpet.
 Our camellia is blooming at last. After two weeks of vibrant daffodils in church, this Sunday it will be blood red camellias, perhaps appropriate for Communion Sunday.
 We'll need lots of shelf brackets, and they were expensive at Lowe's ... about $7 - $8 each. So Adam made them instead.
 And here, the Inner Hippie comes out in me. I decided to color many of my shelf brackets.
 I like the little red birds, but the moon-and-stars below is my favorite. I imagine my little grandchildren-to-be pointing up at them. "Oh, Nanny! There's the moon!"
Some ladies would be aghast to have such things in their kitchens. Some are saying, "Oh yeah! Love it!" Some are thinking, "Well, nice in her kitchen, but not in mine!" All of that is fine. We are none of us alike. Some of us are just ... a little less alike than others, haha!

Adam made his turn-table for his concrete art. Here, he's waxing it well.
 There's a metal rotating thingie in the middle of the boards, the disc-shaped device that you'd put in a corner cabinet for a turn-around. I bought it at the hardware store. He mounted the boards on it.
I made a batch of tea tree soap yesterday. It was unusually uncooperative.
 The day before, I made a batch of my bee balm, my most popular product.
And I finished weaving that scarf.

I do have a pretty serious Inner Hippie. It's an Inner instead of an Outer Hippie because I'm a pastor's wife, and there's only so much weird and quirky that a pastor's wife in a small Southern county is allowed to show. I proudly sport my toe ring, but that's hardly noticeable. In truth, if I weren't a pastor's wife I'd look much more like a gentle hippie off the farm as well as on it. It's why I have chickens, why I spin and weave, why I burn incense in my studio (well, I just like the aroma). It's also why I enjoy meeting other women who are way off the spectrum of normal, who love nature and growing things, who are a little awkward in social situations, who would identify with my desire to weave my own cloth and make my own clothes, and live in some communal group and tend sheep for a few years. 

A few people have unwittingly encouraged me over the years in my Inner Hippie. Some gave me books, some invited me to their farms, some taught me old-fashioned skills, but most were just so interesting to meet. Hippie people are never boring, and they are usually kind and gentle-spirited.

Well, I hear Adam thundering around in the kitchen, battling dry wall.
 Not suitable for company.
It turns out, yes, there is dry wall behind the bump-outs. But not finished dry wall.
Adam says this will be a lot of work, work he's not particularly good at, and it will take a while.
If you want to see some talented hippies building their own stunning house, here's a show about it if you click on this link.
Sadly, after finishing this amazing house, it burnt to the ground on New Year's Day this year. I think they plan to rebuild.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Thrift Store Swaparoo!

Today I did a little of the Thrift Store Swaparoo. A knitting friend at the Prayer Shawl Group this morning offered to give me some glass canisters after hearing about our "rustic cabin kitchen makeover."
 She gave me the one in the front (sugar) and the one in the back left (all purpose flour). The other canister came from my mother many years ago (bread flour).
So, after about 35 years, at last I gave away my Tupperware canisters! Adam hated them.
 I've had lots of Tupperware. These were some of the oldest, purchased in college. 
I arrived at the thrift store 15 minutes before closing (boohoo!) I did find this lovely mug, just exactly my style! Kind of old-fashioned diner pattern. 25 cents!
 I nabbed this tea tin too, very pretty. With open shelves coming my way, I want more foodstuffs in pretty containers instead of original boxes. This is now full of Darjeeling. 
 I'm weaving again. This is a scarf made with a mix of variegated yarns in purple/pink/blue.
 Adam had one large concrete leaf that split down the middle during winter. I put the halves along the edge of our new tea garden second herb bed. I'd like to separate my cooking herbs from my tea herbs, but sometimes plants have a mind of their own, and they end up where you have space.
 I'll get them snuggled down in the soil and remove those bricks. I told Adam they look like sunrises. He could make sunrises like that, paint them sunrise colors, sell them at the market. We are always looking for a selling option!
He made the new kitchen shelves:
 You see we've had sunny, pretty weather for working outside.
 He put a little lip along the outside edges of the shelves to prevent things from sliding off. He got a miter box to help him make tidy corners.
Then I stained and sealed them.
Adam made the most interesting thing for dinner recently. He bought a block of soft/creamy feta cheese, dusted it with flour, and fried it in a skillet with some apple brandy.
 It was gorgeous to look at, and we spread it on French bread.
Adam liked it. Feta cheese is too salty and dry for me, by itself. I added dollops of Christmas jam on top, and it was better. Next time he'll pick a different cheese. It was a fun dish!

Oh, did I ever show you the wool carders I received with my spinning wheel?

 They're very old and fragile. That's leather, nailed to the wood, and flax in the teeth. And on the back of one of them is this mark, burnt into the wood:
Even my fiber friends on my facebook group for antique wheels and looms couldn't really help me decipher that one. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Knowing Yourself

A blogging friend shared a podcast from Emily Freeman that is absolutely fascinating, and potentially disturbing, if you dare. If you will listen to the podcast (which is 16 minutes), it's here, called "Come Home to Yourself" podcast 25. (Many thanks to Emily Freeman for sharing this with us.)

In the middle of the podcast, Freeman asks us to do two exercises. Here they are:

Exercise #1:
Make a list of the times in your life when you felt most truly, fully yourself. You probably know what I mean - those memorable moments in life when everything felt right, you felt right, you felt complete and satisfied. You felt calm and joy. You felt like YOU, and you liked the feeling.

I made my list. I quickly came up with ten. Some were general activities; some were specific one-time moments. Some were "stronger" than others. I may think of more, but I doubt it. I won't list them for you, but I'll admit I discovered some vaguely troubling facts when I looked at the list and asked these questions of it:

          a. Where was I?
          b. What was I doing?
          c. Who was I with?
          d. Who was I not with?

Only three of mine were outside in nature. The others were inside a building.
In all of mine, I am either alone or I am with children.
In none of mine am I with an adult family member.
Three are associated with books. 
Four are associated with creative activity.
None are associated with piano playing.
None are associated with church.

Some of that really bothers me. Why would I feel most truly, fully myself when I'm alone or with children? I consider myself a very "adulty" person, not your typical elementary teacher or babysitter or pediatric nurse, if you know what I mean.

I expected to have more of these experiences in nature, that I'd feel like myself around trees or broad vistas of valley. Why do I feel more like myself ... inside? That's disappointing to me, but I must admit that it is true.

I must be more of an introvert than even I thought.
Image result for knowing yourself
Exercise #2
Make a list of the times that words were spoken to you by someone that were "spot on" -- affirming words, but not merely complimentary ones. Good words that, when you heard then, were new to you but rang true. The instant they were said, your mind said, "Yes, that's me." 

I could only come up with three examples in this category, and that bothers me too. I think "Words of Affirmation" are not my Love Language. But still ... I'm sure "true words" have been spoken to me. Why don't I remember them? Don't I value them? Don't I even hear them?

I encourage you to do these exercises. It's good to sit down sometimes and do a little self-evaluation, and I believe the evaluations Freeman encourages are, in the end, healthy and encouraging. It's better to look at myself and admit: You know, I don't really enjoy playing the piano all that much. It wasn't the best choice for me, 30 years ago. Or: Adam is right when he says my best gift is writing. I feel most truly myself when I'm writing well.

That's helpful information to have.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What a Week!

1. We found out that our darling daughter Anna, who presently lives and teaches in Japan, has worsening symptoms from a congenital heart defect that we thought had lain quiet for years -- Pulmonary Stenosis. Many of her troubling health issues are related to it, and now she has a significantly enlarged heart (on the right side). She goes for an EKG tomorrow. She has wonderful healthcare in Japan, but returns to the U.S. in six weeks, where she has no job, no insurance, and (because it's the U.S.) therefore no healthcare. It's very worrying. She is attempting to remain cheerful and hopeful and focus on her wedding preparations.

2. Our dog Baby (a pit/rotty mix) had a run-in with some glass and required emergency surgery on Saturday. That took our whole day, and worried Adam to death; he is such a dog person. She is recovering, but because of the abuse she suffered in her former home she is scared and aggressive, and it was difficult to get her to go to the vet, difficult to treat her, and difficult to manage her recovery. She is still not eating, drinking, or pooping as she should. Plus ... even doggy surgery is very expensive, and that was a bit of a shock.
3. We had one parishioner in the hospital for a knee replacement who had a bad experience, and another elderly parishioner not doing well.
4. Our kitchen remains in a bit of limbo as we've had other things dominate our lives.
I made a matching window curtain of the same fabric.
Cabinet doors are off now.

5. Our world is in such chaos. I don't know why, but I think perhaps this latest (of so, so many) school shooting (not to mention the mass shootings like in Las Vegas) has sent many Americans over the edge. They are saying, "No more." Of course, there is much push back from the other direction, and much argument about what should be done. One thing bothers me like no other: We cannot have a knowledgeable conversation about guns in America because we do not have data about gun violence in America ... because the NRA literally prevents the data and research from being done. I didn't know this until recently. It reminds me of when the tobacco companies tried so hard to prevent our understanding about the connection between their products and cancer. Whenever money or political power is involved, you can be sure there will be deliberate denial of access to prevent any change to the status quo. If you want to read more about how the NRA does this, here are a few articles to help you:

New York Times - I found this article most helpful in assessing how the U.S. compares to other nations in the number of our guns and the number of mass shootings.

Friends, I apologize for bringing this up. It puts us at odds with some friends. But it's affected our week, our emotions, our conversations, so much here at our home. So many opinions are bantered around. I wish it weren't so. I wish life were all daffodils and spring grass. Speaking of which ...
Our Japanese magnolia began blooming this morning.

 Our camellia's buds are about to burst. Our lime tree survived the winter indoors and is blooming too.

Lime on the left, lemon on the right.
Lovely pink blossoms on this tree:

 And some of my herbs, which I only started in cells last week, are up!!! Here's some thyme:

My herb bed doesn't look like much, coming out of winter. But it already has: thyme, oregano, cilantro, and lemon balm. 

The forsythia, still recovering from vines, is looking springy too.

 It's a grand day for laundry and drying on the line.
 Baby says hello. She's enjoying a snooze outside in the 78 degree warmth with her daddy. You see where she mangled that collar in her distress. 
May Baby heal. May the grieving be comforted. May our children be safe in our schools. May Anna get good news from her doctor. May the world have a little peace! May you have peace and some spring where you are too.