Friday, January 30, 2009

Cleaning the Closets

I am a compulsive list maker. I make grocery lists, to do lists, bills to pay lists, books to read lists, long-term goals lists, short term goals lists - I even have a bucket list (if you haven't seen the movie, you simply MUST Lists make me feel like there is order in the universe and there is no problem that can't be solved by creating a pros/cons list. Needless to say, when I embarked on a new career (full time householder) I created a list. OK -- I created A LOT of lists, but the point is, today I accomplished one very important thing on that list. I cleaned out the closets. All of them. Linen closets, bedroom closets, hall closets. I still have a basement mud room to clean out and organized, but today I feel like I have triumphed - order over chaos. My closets are in order.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Backpacker Magazine

One of my favorite hobbies (and really I'm below novice level here) is backpacking. After reading the book Younger Next Year for Women I was inspired to do something . . . whatever was available right in my own backyard. I had always fantasized about what it would be like to sleep outside in the winter - when the cold air is so pure, and you are surrounded by the quiet hush of fallen snow - blue in the moon light. And so I did. I walked right out my back door and into the woods. In preparation for my first winter camping trip I subscribed to Backpacker Magazine ( An article I read today is actually the topic of today's blog. I have lots of thoughts and ideas I will share in the future about Younger next year, hiking, winter camping etc. But for today I am going to reflect on this fact:

In 7 - 10 years, the glaciers at Glacier National Park and the Glacier at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa will be gone. Not diminished, not smaller -- GONE. They have existed for 10,000 years and in my lifetime they will just . . . melt away. I can't lie. Sometimes the fear of change of this magnitude churns my stomach and scares me to death. But then I remember . . . this is God's world, not ours. BUT . . . like he gives us children to raise and nurture, so too, he has given us this earth. And it is our responsibility to nurture it. When I think about the power lines and NYRI and see the new gas pipeline going right past my house . . . I wonder. I wonder lots of things --- but mostly I am sad. Sad because so many people don't understand that the earth is a living thing and NEEDS us to take care of it. To nurture and respect this awesome thing that God has made available to us.

by: Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
Think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

It's a snow day --- John is over at Gramma's shoveling snow and carrying pellets inside. Michael is playing on the wii and Rachael is cleaning her room (but probably "hanging out" listening to the radio). I had a chance to use my snow blower - always fun. Now I'm inside defrosting, checking email etc. Peace seems to be the theme the last several days -- a real internal peace that comes from knowing "all will be well." Today I found this prayer from St. Therese . . . she who believed in doing little things in life well and with great love. She is often my source of inspiration when I feel inadequate or overwhelmed by the "hugeness" of life and life's problems.

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Today's Prayer

All will be well,
And all will be well,
And all manner of things
Will be well.

When times were difficult, my father would say ". . . and the sun will rise in the East and set in the West." Yes, there is comfort in God's continuity and unconditional love for us. No matter what happens.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Morning

Ahh . . remember when Saturday morning meant cartoons (of the Bugs and Daffy variety) and a bowl of cereal eaten in the living room? No hurry, no homework, no where to be . . . The day and the possibilities seemed endless. For years I worked on Saturday mornings - leaving the house before my children woke up and returning in the late afternoon. Mind you, they were home with their father and having the time of their life, but I always felt like I was missing the "good stuff." I recenetly made the decision to leave the outside work force, and stay home to raise children, chickens and goats. I think I mentioned that in my first post. Anyway, today is my first Saturday home - what an awesome feeling . . . no, there are no cartoons (we don't have TV) and I made homemade scones instead of cereal, but the feeling is the same . . . no hurry, nowhere to be and a day filled with endless possibility.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

About the Backyard

I called my blog "backyard living" because my backyard is my favorite place to be. I try to spend as much time as possible outside and frequently drag my children outside with me. During one of the first "snow days" this year I took my two boys, ages 8 & 12, along with our two dogs (a westie and an aussie) on a winter trek. There is a large swamp at the bottom of our yard which periodically is home to several beavers. The beaver house is currently unoccupied. They leave when their food source is depleted. Our trek included crossing the swamp and walking a half mile through the woods, exploring frozen streams, discovering many many turkey tracks (but no turkeys) climbing huge boulders and finding an old logging trail. The dogs had a great time and were a great help in finding a safe place to cross the stream. Exploring the woods in the winter is always an adventure because everything changes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Interesting Weather We're having

Snow in the Carolinas - and only in the Carolinas, this morning. I may need to reevaluate my future travel plans. Two years ago - it was that infamous ice storm in PA. You know, the one where every interstate in PA was closed and people were stranded for 14 hours. I wasn't actually stranded on the road, but I did have to make a VERY LONG detour around the closed roads to get to NC. The next year, record cold came to the Carolinas. Until this year anyway. This year, there are new record lows and snow. Do you know what happens down here when it snows? Everything closes. So, I am going to try to make my way home through the cold and snow in the south and the inaugural traffic in VA, back to the Catskill Mountains and home - where it isn't snowing, there isn't traffic and the weather is a balmy 30 degrees.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Rite of Passage

Our son, John, celebrates his 13th birthday today. This marks his entry into official "teenager" status. We will gather around the cake and candles - aunts, uncles, cousins and sing and make a big fuss. I wonder how much of the fuss is for him and how much is for his parents - an opportunity for us to rejoice the miracle that God gave us. I am particularly reflective this year becuase we are staying with my brother and his wife who are expecting their first child in April. How quickly the time goes. I remember so clearly how I felt when I was expecting John - like I was the first woman ever to have a baby.

I am remembering a book (one of my favorites) - There's No Such Place As Far Away by Richard Bach. It's been a long time since I read it, so I don't remember the exact words, but it tells the story of a child going to visit a friend for their birthday. Along the way she receives lots of wisdom from the birds who are her mode of travel. One of the birds doesn't understand the meaning of birthday - or growing up - because, she asks "isn't your friend already grown?" I think the idea is that we are where we are in our develpment - and can't be anywhere else. For me, it's a reminder to live in the moment.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

North Carolina

I'm writing tonight from North Carolina - I'm here visiting my brother and his wife. Tomorrow my sister and her husband and two kids will join us. They live 2 hours from here. The trip down was, well, grueling would be the word that comes to mind. Don't get me wrong. I love road trips. In fact, one of my dreams is to drive cross country (2 lane roads only, please) stopping at diners (no chain restaurants, please). I have this idea to write a coffee table book - with pictures of the diners I visit with a critique of their pie and coffee (but that is for another blog). You may ask, if I enjoy road trips so much, what was so grueling about a ten hour drive? Well, I forgot that when traveling with three children there are more stops than the one for refueling and "calls of nature" that I take when I am by myself. Then there was the fact that I started an hour later than I intended. The morning before I left, I felt that one of the highest priorities was to clean my wedding and engagement rings. I'm sure there are many people who feel compelled to do this before they leave for vacation. (or maybe not). Anyway, it seemed very important at the time, but when my husband and I did the "hand off" of kids from his car to mine, I noticed that I didn't have my rings on. Of course, I had to go all the way back home because there was no way I was going on vacation sans husband and sans rings! The late start then meant that I was driving most of the trip in the dark. I like the dark. It's good for a lot of things - sitting around a campfire, sleeping, watching a movie and it even hides a lot of blemishes -- it is not, however, conducive to driving at high rates of speed with the inordinate amount of truck traffic one finds on I81. So, the trip was grueling and I arrived at my brothers somehwat road drunk, but in one piece. Being with family is great - I hope that someday my own children enjoy each others compnay as much as I enjoy the company of my siblings.

Pictures from the visit will follow -- although I didn't take the time to stop and photograph the beauty I drove through in Pennsylvania. Picture, if you can, a quarter inch of ice on every tree, shrub, and rock. Then imagine a crystal clear blue sky with winter sunshine making every surface glisten. It was like driving through a crystal world.

And God is good.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Moving Up

I'm moving up in the world -- 3 followers. Thanks, guys.

Today was busy -- my youngest missed the bus, had to take him to school, then off to my hair appointment, Dr. appointment for a sick child, deliver same child to Gramma's house, fix dinner and get to the pharmacy before it closes then to a Boy Scout meeting. We're leaving tomorrow to visit two of my siblings and their families in North Carolina. The kids are excited and can't sleep. Me? I just want to fall asleep and start over tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Yesterday I learned about widgets - today I learned how to follow and be followed. I am a somebody now because I have two followers! So what if I had to call my mother and brother and coerce them into following me through my backyard - it still counts, right? I am also following Catskill Cottage Seed and Wild About Chickens -- great blogs. Rick Reeve, who does Catskill Cottage Seed has become an expert blogger. Whereas mine is thus far basically a personal journal, Rick has really immersed himself in the world of social media. Definitely a site worth looking at. Wild About Chickens belongs to my sister and brother-in-law. They've got funny stories and really great pictures - of more than chickens too!

Who knows what I may explore next -- it could even be this thing they call "Twitter"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Music and Books

I added music clips and a book carusel to my blog page today. These additions excite me because music is a very important part of my life. These particular songs are a little on the sad side -- which is where I've been lately. And the books have all played a role in getting me into my backyard. I'm sure the details of that journey will be in future blog entries.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Day is Done

I was 8 years old the first time I went to summer camp. They played "Day is done, gone the sun . . . ." over the loud speakers at lights out. And I fell asleep - hot, tired, dirty and happy. Today when I see my children covered in the sweat and dirt only a day playing outside can accumulate, I tell them they must have had loads of fun, I can tell by how dirty you are!

Well, today must have been a productive day - no, I'm not going to bed dirty and sweaty, but I am pleasantly tired and looking forward to slipping off to slumber. It feels good to have gotten things done.

An early morning meeting (3 hours!) then a trip to the dentist and a hair cut for my husband. Quick pick up pizza and deliver it to my mother's to eat dinner with her and my other children. Then it was home and a couple hours spent learning more about blogging -- this time with the focus on Flickr. I scanned some old photos, learned how to set up a group to share them with my siblings and took a pleasant jaunt down memory lane. Back to the days when my brother was Danny, not the very distinguished "Daniel" of today.

Sit and visit - the backyard invites

Winter is beautiful, but I like to look at summer pictures and remember the feel of the warm sun on my skin. This is one of my favorite spots in the backyard. It just invites you to slow down and listen to the chirping of the birds and buzzing of the bees.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Morning Routine

The dogs wake up. I nudge my husband. "You put them out this time," I say. The alarm goes off. Can it possibly be Monday morning already? Get up, start the coffee, get the dishes left in the living room last night, let the dogs in, feed the dogs, pour the coffee, wake up the kids (that's my favorite part). There's something reassuring about daily routine.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

So blogging is "all the rage" - everybody's doing it. I think. So why am I blogging? I am hoping that by diving in and trying it, I will be motivated and inspired to try all kinds of new things. I want a forum to talk (to myself mostly) about that age old question - where am I going and where have I been. You've guessed it! I'm "middle aged." I have recently taken the plunge OUT of the work force and into my backyard which I hope to fill with goats, chickens, gardens, dogs and kids. The kids I already have - 6. Three boys, three girls. They are not quite as enthusiastic about the soon to come livestock. Perhaps they are wiser than I and know that they are very likely to become unpaid labor. Me, I see bucolic bliss as the goats gambol about and the rooster crows and the tomatoes are hanging on the vine. I try to tell myself that the reality may be very, very different, but I'm at heart an optimist and even though the details may include shoveling waste products, fixing fences and general back breaking labor - the goats really will gambol about.

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