November 2009


GIVE THANKS, WITH A GRATEFUL HEART

A couple of weeks ago, in this month of November, our clematis put forth a flower.  It was an amazement, because this particular clematis is a SPRING-blooming plant.  I guess it was so warm it got confused.

It’s a perfect chance to think about Thanksgiving.

Everyone knows the story: 

Hey dude, it’s like…these people took this boat trip, and like, they got sick, man…then when they got here, they all died, ya know…but in the spring they all got better….  And there were these Indians, man…they ended up bein’ friends and all, havin’ a big feast….they were really happy they had all this food…

Seeing this flower bloom during November–or rather, seeing the brown leaves surrounding this flower as it blooms–has caused me to stop doing all my stuff and to really think about the first Pilgrims in a way I haven’t since the younger teaching days when we’re all required to tell the story over and over to our children.  Oh right–they didn’t have food and then afterward they did, and they were so grateful.  And now we celebrate being grateful too.  For turkey.

I reconsider my gratefulness in comparison to theirs.  I’m amazed they had it in themselves to pause and give thanks at all.  I wonder how many practiced thankful obedience because the leadership made the decision or because God desires it of us.  Were there any who, thinking of all the loved ones who were lost, were simply grateful it happened to some other family and not theirs?

I think they really ARE a great example to us.  “And whatever you do…give thanks” (Colossians 3:17) is not as simple a phrase as it seems, but it does bring us around to what is important, and it reminds us of where we sit at the Thanksgiving table:  in the warm loving hands of a God who loves us, who cares for us, and who plans to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11).

Give thanks with a grateful heart.  Indeed.

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ROCK PICKIN’

My friend Old Hat is inspiring folks to write about Paying Jobs they have had.  When I ponder my own life, I see that I have done many many jobs that could–or perhaps should–have given me pay, but that were volunteer on my part.

My very first Paying Job sticks well in my mind, though.  My best friend grew up on an Indiana farm much larger than our own–several hundred acres over in the muck land.  Rich black healthy dirt.  Her dad needed a bunch of young people to help pick up rock, so for two days that’s what we did, for $1 an hour.

The earth is always pushing up new stones in the field, and the big ones can damage the farm equipment, so they need to be removed and thrown in the pile.  In some regions, they’ve been used to build stone fences, and many were used for house foundations.  The fireplace in my parents’ home (which they built themselves) is made of rock we picked up through the years, and just last year a fellow asked if he could rummage through the rock pile for a project he wanted to do at his house. 

They are beautiful:  reds and blues and yellows, with a lot of quartz; they are also heavier than they look.

I never could understand why, for all his cleverness, he didn’t create what my father (who obviously is far more clever) did and still does use:  a stone boat.  Take a bunch of boards, put a few crosspieces on it, and drag this behind the tractor.  That way, when you pick up a rock you just move it over and let it DOWN onto the boat.

My friend’s dad pulled a regular hay wagon instead.  We had to pick the rock UP and heave it UP onto the wagon, which was terrible work.

It was also dirty work.  My friend’s brother was plowing nearby with another tractor, raising up the black dust as he went by.  When the days were over, we looked like coal miners, and I had to shampoo and shampoo and shampoo my hair to get it back to blonde.

FLYING SQUIRRELS

Our outdoor cat came to us unexpectedly, as a small thin stray of a thing with a sad, sweet, hopeful face.  She was one of many cats out there who visit our property every day, but you could tell she was uncared for.  There came a summer day when she sat longingly outside the screen door smelling our crockpot beef, and we “caved.”  She’s belonged to us ever since.

At the time, the NCFCA debate topic of the year was about immigration, so we named her Immigrant, her having come to us from someplace else.  That quickly morphed into Imogene, which is now her legal name.  We often call her “Immie,” but my favorite name for her is “Mrs.”  She is a very sweet-tempered cat.

But when it comes to hunting, she doesn’t mess around.  Almost every morning it’s my husband’s job to take away her offerings to us and add them to the Rodent Graveyard beyond the house.

Lately her offerings have caused us distress and amazement.  Within the last three weeks, she has brought us three flying squirrels.  I never expected to see a flying squirrel in my lifetime, let alone this many.  I really wish she wouldn’t!

They are so furry that when Imogene trots up to the door with one, she has nothing but a big fat mouth of fluff.

We hope that two of the three survived and got away–we scramble to bring Imogene into the house so the little creatures have a chance–but I suspect this one died after I moved him into the woods.

SOMETHING FOR CHRISTMAS

I almost forgot to tell you about a great Christmas gift idea I had for last year!  Because I didn’t want to spoil any surprises, I couldn’t tell you then; now it’s time:  Cafe Press.

No, they’re not paying me to advertise (that would be delightful!), but I think it’s a great place to shop.  They specialize in items that are personalized with whatever photo/picture/logo you design.

I made two logos for my dad’s farm (one vertical and one horizontal) using PrintShop.  Then I uploaded them to Cafe Press, and the computer created my own Putman Farms store, automatically putting the logo on a whole bunch of stuff such as hats, t-shirts, dog dishes, mugs, clocks, stationery, tote bags, etc.  Even (ahem!) underwear.

I did have to go in and adjust some of them, as perhaps they weren’t centered where I wanted them to be, or the right size.  And since I had two logos, I had to decide which logo I wanted.  I made a special logo for a clock and for a license plate holder.

I waited for a Store Owner sale, and bought all sorts of things for my whole family at 20% off.

Other family members can go there any time and purchase things on their own.  Way cool!

I’ve made a store for our speech & debate club as well.

I hope YOU have an enjoyable time trying to delight your family this year!

SCI-FI IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Is there a regular household chore that just irritates you very much–basically for no reason at all?  It’s the hair in the bathroom sink that does me in.  Not because the hair itself annoys me, but because of something I was told many years ago about how easy it is to clean a bathroom and how simple it is to remove the hair as part of that process.

You are to take a tissue, dampen it, and “just whisk it out.”

So every day, I take a tissue, dampen it, and chase and chase and chase and chase those hairs, all the while muttering to myself “JUST WHISK IT OUT, JUST WHISK IT OUT, JUST WHISK IT OUT:  RIGHT!!!”

Recently myself and I had a serious talk about this task that so totally annoys me every day.  A funny thing happened.  There was a sci-fi tweak that plinked in my brain, some sort of dimensional twist, just a slight shift of perspective.  Why not just take my time chasing those hairs and see this as an opportunity to daydream, relax, and stand there all day if I have to?  What a grand chance to goof off for a while!

Son:  Where did Mom go?
Other son:  Oh, she’s just whisking hairs.

I wish this for you too, my friends–let those thoughts shift, just a little.