A simple escape

Hi Everyone,

How was your week? I have been running behind this week because I escaped last weekend further into the mountains with my two best friends from college. The three of us have over 30 years of history together and do our best to reconnect in person once a year. This year we found ourselves (thanks to the research of the planner member of our threesome) staying in a super cool converted cider house on an apple orchard in Virginia. A few years ago we discussed how we would like to start taking classes when we were away on these trips. Once again our Planner came through and booked us in a class held right on the orchard, walking distance from our Cider House abode. We learned how to graft apple trees. 


D. and I purchased several heirloom apple trees a few years ago, but before we could get a proper fence around them, the ever present and ever hungry deer ate them down to the ground. So much for that investment! Needless to say, I was tickled to take this class for a whopping $12 that included three trees to take home. Since my planner friend (a former science teacher) just wanted the experience and not the trees, I happily paid for her class and got her trees as well. So six different varieties of apple trees currently reside in one of our closets for a couple more weeks (as instructed) then will spend the summer SURROUNDED BY FENCING outside until we plant them this Fall on the new farm site. 

The rest of our weekend was spent catching up on life and eating quantities of junk food that we generally avoid the rest of the year. 

Back to reality this week has included more cleaning out and home repairs and animal maintenance. D. and I are trying to get back into Spring/Summer fitness. The extended daylight hours and warmer temps include many more hours of work. I have been trying to get my bees ready for splitting the colony (hopefully to prevent them swarming) and honey flow. D. has been cleaning up horses and checking their feet. All the mud this winter has been tough on them. Anyway, we are eating better and trying to be more consistent with the vitamins. 


I just finished this painting of my favorite flower. I love the simplicity and determination of the Daisy. Every summer our pasture is covered in them in spite of being regularly trampled by equine and often brightly bloom through drought conditions. Tough, beautiful, cheerful. What’s not to love about them? 


A quick update on my monthly decluttering challenge. I am still running a little behind, but not too far. If I were to count everything that D. has cleaned out of the two barns I would probably be way ahead. Drum roll please. 1,163 items removed from house or storage! There is much more to go but our largest walk in closet can now be walked into instead of burrowed into. All family members have pitched in, if not happily, at least willingly. Today I drag out the summer clothes and we start paring down the winter wardrobes. The majority of the decluttering has been donated, but there has been a good amount that had to go into the trash. Why do broken things stay stuck in corners of cabinets or closets? 

That’s it for this week folks. I have summer clothes to pull out and I promised the chickens a clean coop today. Have a productive week and catch up with some friends! 

It’s not the years

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to Spring if you are on the Northern Hemisphere. Actually it doesn’t feel like Spring here at all. Currently it is snowing and there is yet another three hour delay for school. I’m very glad I got more honey to my bees on Monday because there are not may good days for them to get out and forage for the next couple of weeks. 

I have finally started some new artwork but will have to wait until next week to get photos. There were plans to get new work in my Etsy store, but there were delays in getting the scans done. Today there will be delays on several projects thanks to the snow and school delay. Sigh. Dang, just got notice that school is now closed. Our Northern friends would die laughing at what these kids get out of school for around here. 

Last week was tough. We had two funerals. 

The first was for our beloved Muffin kitten (aka The Muffinator). Muffin was born Feline Leukemia positive. We think her Mom, Sweetie Pie, has probably overcome the disease now but we haven’t had her tested yet to find out for sure. Muffin was the only survivor in the litter. 

Muffin never got bigger than 3.5 lbs in her 5 months and 6 days of life, but no one told her she was tiny. She came into this world full of curiosity and spunk. She would stand in the barn and never flinch as the horses stepped over her. One of her favorite places to play was in our biggest horse’s stall…while he was in it!  She loved to chase our chickens who were about four times her size. She was so tiny that she could squeeze between the wire to get into the run while I was cleaning the coop and hunt chickens. She went into the bee yard with me and swatted bees. 



We were constantly vigilant about Muffin’s whereabouts because she was always living life on the edge AND she was the perfect snack size for much of the wildlife around here. Every time we heard a hawk we ran to find Muffin and put her in her kitty condo to keep her safe. D. often stuck her in his coat pocket while he was working because she had no fear of power tools and thought nothing of playing right beside a running skil saw! 

When we found out that Muffin had Feline Leukemia we did not tell Miss L. but decided to give the little rascal the best life we could for as long as she had. The vet had suggested putting her to sleep right away. I no longer see that vet. What the vet didn’t know was that this kitten had this great big heart to go along with her great big bravery.  When we let her out of her condo everyday she didn’t run off to play. Instead she jumped into your arms, crawled onto your shoulder and sat there and purred. Her first choice always, was to be held and played with. She was perfectly content in a coat pocket or the hoodie of your sweatshirt or riding on your shoulder.  She often rode with me to pick up Miss L. from school and did so sitting on my shoulder watching the world go by. 

Last week we noticed Muffin getting thin and Miss L. reported that she wasn’t eating. D. noticed she was coughing. On Friday I called the vet for an appointment. They could work her in after I picked up Miss L. I then had to tell Miss L. about Muffin’s disease and to be prepared for the worst.  After x-rays the vet showed me what was going on. Muffin’s little body was full of one, probably two large masses that were taking up 3/4 of her tiny body. She couldn’t eat and was struggling to breathe because the tumors were so big. Even her tiny heart was being pushed out of place. We had no choice about what to do. I called D. and he drove over as Miss L. and sat and cried and loved on The Muffinator.  We were all there with her to the end.

This little ball of fluff gave us so much love, fun and laughter in her short life.  When she was born we were going through one of the most stressful times of any of our lives. She was the bright spot in the dark. She made even non-cat loving folks love her. Muffin will be missed for a long time. 

Our second funeral was for John S.  John was eighty-three and grew up with my Dad. John was a farmer and a barber and also my and D.’s very first employer. We went to work for him and his wife in their tobacco fields at the ripe old age of 11 for me and 12 for D.  We both have many good memories of the summers we worked for them. It was hard, hot work, but there was much laughter and looking back, life instructions.  We are glad that we went by to visit with them about a year ago. John had already had a stroke and wasn’t doing great. D.’s Dad died when he was thirteen years old. John became a second Father to him. John was a very humble man with a big heart and huge work ethic.  I can see those same traits in D. 

The funeral was probably one of the warmest and truest I have ever attended. Each family member spoke, including John’s wife of 63 years as well as friends in attendance.  I also don’t think I have ever been to a funeral with so many men moved to tears. Many, many friendships were made while sitting in John’s barber chair.  I can remember going with my Dad and listening to the men discuss life over haircuts. 

I have pondered these two recent funerals quite a bit this week.  You can focus on work, stuff, impressing people, etc., but in the end what do you leave?  It isn’t how long you lived or how big your house is or how impressive your job is that matters.  A five month old kitten and an eighty-three year old man left the same legacy.  The people they left behind knew without a shadow of a doubt that they were loved.