Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Let's Go for a Visit!

Dear Friends,

Today we're taking my mum to visit my brother, who lives about an hour from us. Won't you come along for the ride (Don't mind the open windows, just hang on to your hat!)?

See the dress I'm wearing on the left? Polyester with a nylon slip~BAD idea!
We had to stop at a store and get something cotton~Aaaah! Much better!

One of the star attractions at Uncle Kirby's~a sweet lady turkey

Mmm, quack grass!

My brother's family has been working very hard to create a wildflower oasis on his property, complete with man-made stream. The pictures don't do it justice!

Everyone loves to go see the nearby creek~

And look for tracks along the way.

Can you tell which ones are my girls and which is my niece?

And here we are, at the cool, peaceful creek.

Note the much-cooler dress, and for four dollars, to boot! Lucky we know of a thrift store that sanitizes their clothes ;) ~
A "made-it to the creek" celebratory kiss!
Whew, that was a long drive, and a long hike to the creek! Now to get back home and water the garden (Darn, just when we put away those hoses, too!) It's always fun to get to see our family and friends, though, and to visit Mother Nature's different neighborhoods.

Hope you enjoyed your visit, too, dear friends, and may you be blessed today.




Flower in the Crannied Wall

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies;
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower-but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Little Notebooks

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for popping by today! We hope you had a restful weekend and are feeling ready for what this week brings you.

It's hard to believe that the Fourth of July is already coming up this weekend, but the family dolls are getting their costumes and decorations ready for the annual Doll Parade, which we will have to share with you. It promises to be fun!

Where do you jot down notes to yourself at your house? Here we have quite a collection of little notebooks, many without covers, which we have used over the years for to-do lists, grocery lists, ideas for songs, stories, etc. We have tried day planners and binders, but somehow keep going back to the little notebooks, which are found in convenient locations throughout the house. Sometimes our little notebooks disappear in the strangest ways, only to turn up under the bed or behind the couch, months later! It's always like a reunion with a friend we have not seen in a while, as we go through and read all the things that we thought were important enough to write down. I still have my little notebooks from college French class and from my mission (which was served in Pennsylvania).

We don't know why we didn't think about it before, but we finally came up with the sensible idea of housing our little filled-up notebooks together, instead of being scattered in various boxes and drawers throughout the house. Eventually, we'd like to find a nice wooden chest to keep them all in, but this hat box will do for now!

Oh yes, we wanted to share with you the yummy salsa recipe we made up this weekend (Here's a picture of Frankie and me feasting on it with chips outside)~we filled the food processor with 3 big tomatoes, 1 avocado, two home-grown onions (greens and all), and lots of arugula and viola flowers and stems (quite peppery). Oh yes, and a dash of salt and vinegar. Then we processed it till smooth, filled a bowl, and "ate ourselves full"! We should have taken pictures, but it didn't last long enough to get the camera out! Yesterday we made a concoction of pitted Kalamata olives, violas (whole plant again), onions, salt, and half each of tomato and avocado. We wrapped it in lettuce leaves and served some on cucumber slices. Mmm! (Just don't make a smoothie with violas, as they become a little TOO peppery!) It's fun to experiment with foods, mixing up flavors that you'd never find in the grocery store.

Peace be with you today,



"Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou art at length free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!"

~Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The Chambered Nautilus"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Hobbit Sighting and Disappearing Dog

"The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
But I have miles to go before I sleep"

Dear Friends,

Yesterday we went down by the river (which has been flooding lately, due to the great amount of rain) to collect rose petals and leaves to make an elixir (see here), when incredibly, we spied what looked like a hobbit, headed to Cattail Pond. Although we noticed that he was not barefoot, we do know that hobbits DO sometimes wear shoes. What do you think? Was it a hobbit, or perhaps a little strawberry blonde boy that we've seen before?

As we were getting ready to come home, having filled our baskets with roses and catnip, our naughty dog Buddy decided to disappear into the woods. We could not stay very long, it being nap time, so we drove around calling him for a while, but finally had to leave, wondering if he had fallen in the river and been taken. When we came home we called my mum and told her what happened, and she volunteered to go back and look for him. No sooner had she gone to the spot where we had last seen him, than he came walking up to her car, exhausted but none the worse for wear. As happy as we were to see him alive, we wanted to punch him in the nose at the same time!

This is the road that we normally like to walk along; too bad we didn't bring a canoe this time!

The little hobbit boy decided to come home with us at last.

And four-year old Evangeline caught this baby garter snake, all by herself!
It was a beautiful, magical thing, being in the woods on a sunny day, with cottonwood fluff drifting down like fairy dust. We took a little video of it, which of course is not quite as magical, unless you have a good imagination! We wish you could have come with us; we could have had a picnic lunch in the shade (Provided, of course, you don't mind a little cottonwood fluff in your sandwiches.).

May you find little adventures in each day as it passes.



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A New Blog Begins~

"A Nettle a day keeps the doctor away"

Good morning, dear friends,

Wow, if you'd have told me two years ago that I would have three blogs, I probably would not have believed you! But, I started up another one yesterday, to stick my creative works to share with the world. I've posted my hobbit story, The Tale of Pippin and Katie, if you'd like to go see it.

We're enjoying beautiful, sunny weather, and trying still to catch up on all our behind-on laundry, but loving the sunshine. We forgot how warm 78 degrees feels when you're out in the sun! It seems like it should be May, not almost July.

We subscribe to Dr. Christopher's weekly email newsletter, and this week's was about avoiding the "swine flu" panic by using garlic as a preventative. Here is a link, I think you'd benefit from reading it. It gives peace of mind.

We hope that you are all enjoying your summer days, too, and that it's not too hot for all you who live in the South! Whew! Our little trailer house would be melted by now, if it were that hot here!



"According to Holy Writ, man's first calling was agriculture, or, perhaps, horticulture would better express it. Adam was placed in the Garden to till and care for it; and even after he was driven from that blissful abode and compelled to live by the sweat of his brow, he had to go back to the earth from which his body was made to sustain the life breathed into it by Jehovah."
~Major A. R. Calhoun, 1895 "How to Get on in the World"

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Summer (At least according to the calendar. . . )

Dear Friends,

A good Monday morning to you! Can it really be that summer is upon us? Mother Nature celebrated yesterday by pouring rain and hail on us yesterday, and today's high is supposed to be 68 degrees. Really, we are beginning to be tempted to put our garden hoses away for the summer! We'll see how long the rain lasts; and Frankie's cloth diapers, since the laundry is getting a little backed up (Yes, we do have a dryer, but no, we don't like to use it.)! Hmm, now might be a good time to try potty training. . .

We received a lovely package the other day from our dollhouse friends in North Carolina; this time they sent a little reading material for the library, which all the dolls here couldn't wait to take turns with!

AnnaMarie's clothespin doll, Eleanor, taking a reading break.

Audrey's doll, Mabel, looks like she likes posing more than reading~

Whilst Tasha's doll decided to share with Raggedy Andy.

And look here, two little peas almost ready to be picked~

"Here, Clara, let's take your picture by the peas!"

"Is this close enough?"

We had a lovely visit with my sister from Utah over the last four days. Her adopted daughter Skye (the China Doll) gets along so well with the girls, that I hardly get to see her when she's here, as they have her squirreled away in their bedrooms!

To help finish my little "Lord of the Rings" story, I've been reading the book and we've watched the movies (Usually I don't go for scary monsters in movies, but we just skipped the scary parts for the little ones). Now the girls and Frankie have been busy becoming hobbits and Gollum, and coming up with some very interesting scenarios, let me tell you.

Whenever I watch "The Return of the King", which was the first of the three movies I saw, I am taken back to AnnaMarie's near-death experience of having diabetes and going to the hospital. We had seen the movie a few months before it happened, and when she was lying unconscious with her eyes open, suffering from "ketoacidosis", I felt like Samwise as he held Frodo in his arms after being stung by Shelob. I even told her not to go where I can't follow, since that was where she was headed. At one point when she was delirious, she said she was dancing on the sand with a king, and in the hospital she stayed in the "I SEE YOU" (I.C.U.)! She even suffered a wound that hasn't healed, like Frodo did on Weathertop.

One of my favorite scenes of the movie, though, is when Gandalf explains death to Pippin the hobbit. It is one of the most comforting explanations of death that I have heard. I can't help weeping every time I watch it. I know that, even if the worst thing imaginable were to happen, and AnnaMarie were to die from diabetes, she would indeed be in a much better place, full of light and in the arms of the Lord. What could be bad about that? We are all headed there someday, sooner or later. There truly is nothing to fear in it.

So it goes with life, there is inspiration and comfort all around us, if we look for it. We all of us are going through our own great adventure, no less difficult than destroying the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. There is so much to learn from all that we experience, and so many things to do.

May we take the time each day to truly recount what we are here for, and to be grateful for the mission that we each have, no matter how insignificant our efforts may seem. They are not, not in the eternal scheme of things.

Blessings to you and your family today,




Pippin: "I didn't think it would end this way."

Gandalf: "End? No, the journey does not end here. Death is just another path…one that we all must take. The grey rain curtain of this world rolls back and all turns to silver glass. And then you see it. . . . White shores…and beyond. A far green country, under a swift sunrise."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day Wishes

Dear Friends,

How wonderful to see you today! I wish to honor my favorite fathers today, as well as each day of the year. Sometimes we women may become so involved with the domestic details of home, that we do not realize the sacrifices made by the men who are doing their best to provide for their families in an uncertain world. My father died when I was nine, so I have had to adopt my father-in-law for a father, and am so blessed to have his godly influence in my life. The father of my children, my husband, has been a true example of sacrificing his own wishes to provide for his family each day, for which I am blessed every hour.

Here is what I wish for my husband, as well as for all fathers, every day of the year: the "deep peace of Christ"~



Friday, June 19, 2009

Mabel On Midsummer Day

Dear Reader,

Midsummer Day (June 21st) will be upon us soon, and the girls are busily preparing their annual Fairy Feast. Do you set out a feast for the wee folk at your house? We've done it for quite a few years now, after being inspired by "Mrs. Sharp's Traditions." Simply stated, if you leave a feast for the fairies, they will leave you a little fairy treat in exchange.

Here's what the girls have ready so far:

Audrey's fairies will make themselves merry in a corner of the yard~

While Tasha's will enjoy the view under the crab apple tree.

And AnnaMarie's fairy friends will be treated to a canopied hideaway~

With a cozy bed inside!

Here's a little reading we found in an old book of Mary Howitt's poetry, entitled "Mabel On Midsummer Day". We hope you like it, and share it with your family, if you wish.

Mabel on Midsummer Day

a story of the olden time.

Part I.

"Arise, my maiden, Mabel,"
The mother said, "arise,"
For the golden sun of Midsummer
Is shining in the skies.

"Arise, my little maiden,
For thou must speed away,
To wait upon thy grandmother
This livelong summer day.

"And thou must carry with thee
This wheaten cake so fine;
This new-made pat of butter;
This little flask of wine!

"And tell the dear old body,
This day I cannot come,
For the good man went out yester morn,
And he is not come home.

"And more than this, poor Amy
Upon my knee doth lie;
I fear me, with this fever-pain
That little child will die!

"And thou canst help thy grandmother;
The table thou canst spread;
Can'st feed the little dog and bird,
And thou can'st make her bed.

"And thou can'st fetch the water,
From the lady-well hard by;
And thou can'st gather from the wood
The fagots brown and dry.

"Can'st go down to the lonesome glen,
To milk the mother-ewe;
This is the work, my Mabel,
That thou wilt have to do.

"But listen now, my Mabel,
This is Midsummer Day,
When all the fairy people
From elf-land come away.

"And when thou art in lonesome glen,
Keep by the running burn,
And do not pluck the strawberry-flower,
Nor break the lady-fern.

"But think not of the fairy folk,
Lest mischief should befall;
Think only of poor Amy,
And how thou lov'st us all.

"Yet keep good heart, my Mabel,
If thou the fairies see,
And give them kindly answer,
If they should speak to thee.

"And when into the fir-wood
Thou go'st for fagots brown,
Do not, like idle children,
Go wandering up and down.

"But, fill thy little apron,
My child, with earnest speed;
And that thou break no living bough
Within the wood, take heed.

"For they are spiteful brownies
Who in the wood abide,
So be thou careful of this thing,
Lest evil should betide.

"But think not, little Mabel,
Whilst thou art in the wood,
Of dwarfish, willful brownies,
But of the Father good.

"And when thou goest to the spring,
To fetch the water thence,
Do not disturb the little stream,
Lest this should give offence.

"For the queen of all the fairies
She loves that water bright;
I've seen her drinking there myself
On many a summer night.

"But she's a gracious lady,
And her thou need'st not fear;
Only disturb thou not the stream,
Nor spill the water clear!"

"Now all this will I heed, mother,
Will no word disobey,
And wait upon the grandmother
This livelong summer day!"


Part II.

Away tripped little Mabel,
With the wheaten cakes so fine;
With the new-made pat of butter,
And the little flask of wine.

And long before the sun was hot,
And morning mists had cleared,
Beside the good old grandmother
The willing child appeared.

And all her mother's message
She told with right good-will,
How that the father was away,
And the little child was ill.

And then she swept the hearth up clean,
And then the table spread;
And next she fed the dog and bird,
And then she made the bed.

"And go now," said the grandmother,
"Ten paces down the dell,
And bring in water for the day;
Thou know'st the lady-well!"

The first time that good Mabel went,
Nothing at all saw she
Except a bird--a sky-blue bird--
That sate upon a tree.

The next time that good Mabel went,
There sate a lady bright
Beside the well,-- a lady small,
All clothed in green and white.

A curtsey low made Mabel,
And then she stooped to fill
Her pitcher at the sparkling spring,
But no drop did she spill.

"Thou art a handy maiden,
The fairy lady said;
"Thou has not spilled a drop, nor yet
The fair spring troubled!

"And for this thing which thou has done,
Yet may'st not understand,
I give to thee a better gift
Than houses or than land.

"Thou shalt do well, whate'er thou dost,
As thou hast done this day;
Shalt have the will and power to please,
And shalt be loved alway!"

Thus having said, she passed from sight,
And naught could Mabel see,
But the little bird, the sky-blue bird
Upon the leafy tree.

--"And now go," said the grandmother,
"And fetch in fagots dry;
All in the neighboring fir-wood,
Beneath the trees they lie."

Away went kind, good Mabel,
Into the fir-wood near,
Where all the ground was dry and brown,
And the grass grew thin and sere.

She did not wander up and down,
Nor yet a live branch pull,
But steadily, of the fallen boughs
She picked her apron full.

And when the wild-wood brownies
Came sliding to her mind,
She drove them thence, as she was told,
With home-thoughts sweet and kind.

But all that while the brownies
Within the fir-wood still,
They watched her how she picked the wood,
And strove to do no ill.

"And oh, but she is small and neat,"
Said one, "'twere shame to spite
A creature so demure and meek,
A creature harmless quite!"

"Look only," said another,
"At her little gown of blue;
At her kerchief pinned about her head,
And at her little shoe!"

"Oh, but she is a comely child,"
Said a third, "and we will lay
A good-luck penny in her path,
A boon for her this day,---
Seeing she broke no living wood,
No live thing did affray."

With that the smallest penny,
Of the finest silver ore,
Upon the dry and slippery path,
Lay Mabel's feet before.

With joy she picked the penny up,
The fairy penny good;
And with her fagots dry and brown
Went wondering from the wood.

"Now she has that," said the brownies,
"Let flax be ever so dear,
Will buy her clothes of the very best,
For many and many a year!"

--"And go, now," said the grandmother,
Since falling is the dew,
Go down into the lonesome glen,
And milk the mother-ewe!"

All down into the lonesome glen,
Through copses thick and wild;
Through moist, rank grass, by trickling streams,
Went on the willing child.

And when she came to lonesome glen,
She kept beside the burn,
And neither plucked the strawberry-flower,
Nor broke the lady-fern.

And while she milked the mother-ewe
Within the lonesome glen,
She wished that little Amy
Were strong and well again.

And soon as she had thought this thought,
She heard a coming sound,
As if a thousand fairy folk
Were gathering all around.

And then she heard a little voice,
Shrill as the midge's wing,
That spake aloud, "A human child
Is here-- yet mark this thing!

"The lady-fern is all unbroke,
The strawberry-flower unta-en!
What shall be done for her, who still
From mischief can refrain?"

"Give her a fairy-cake," said one,
"Grand her a wish," said three;
"The latest wish that she hath wished,"
Said all, "whate'er it be!"

--Kind Mabel heard the words they spake,
And from the lonesome glen,
Unto the good old grandmother
Went gladly back again.

Thus happened it to Mabel
On that midsummer day,
And these three fairy blessings
She took with her away.

--'Tis good to make all duty sweet,
To be alert and kind:
'Tis good, like little Mabel,
To have a willing mind!

~Mary Howitt



Thursday, June 18, 2009

For God has not Given us the Spirit of Fear. . .

But of power, and of love, and of wisdom." ~2 Timothy 1:7

Dear friends,

A happy Thursday to you! We had a day without rain, but last night and today we were blessed with a few soaking showers. How wonderful to not have to drag the hoses out and water the garden twice a day, like we normally do! The tomatoes and peas have blossoms on them, and the potatoes we planted, plus a few that sprang up from last year's crop, are leaping up. Everything is green, and the birds have plenty of worms to feed their babies.

The girls helped mulch the tomatoes with rocks to heat the soil.

The yarrow "fairy ring" is much bigger than last year!

Our David Austen rose (whose name we don't know) was the first to bloom.

The cardoon is even bigger than this now~

At times it is hard to be in this world of bug-and-weed sprayers, when we love the organic life so well. The farmers use airplanes to spray their fields, the county sprays the highway in front of our home, and the irrigation district sprays our ditch bank. We were enjoying a visit to Cattail Pond the other day, and they were spraying it for mosquitoes! The children of God seem to be doing all they can to destroy this beautiful planet, very ignorantly. We have to constantly remind ourselves that God is bigger than all the chemical poisons in the world. He sent us here at this time on the earth, knowing that it would be polluted. He wants us to be healthy and happy, and surely He can provide those gifts to us, if we have faith in Him. We know that more harm would be done by despairing of bad things than by the actual things! Yet, we long for the Savior's return, knowing that He only can truly undo all the damage that has been done. May we all try a little harder to tread softly on this earth; it's the only one we have! Let us show we love our Creator, by loving His creations more fully.

Noel wanted to help photograph this beautiful mushroom we found in the yard.

And salads are abundant this time of year~

On another note, I have been finishing a short story I started four years ago (better late than never!) after watching the "Lord of the Rings" movies. It's about how Pippin the hobbit meets his wife. Would you like to read it? I may have to start a new blog, perhaps "The Natural History of Myself?" ;0) I have quite a few little things I've written over the years, that perhaps I'll start sticking somewhere for you to (hopefully) enjoy.

Oh yes, I almost forgot to tell you that we tried cooking and eating burdock leaf and bloom stalks, which we found very good, and bull thistle stalks, which we found tough and tasting like lavender oil! Next time, we'll be sure to cook our wild foods in separate pots, so we can taste before we mix! We did cook some of the thistles a bit longer and the taste improved. I think the thistles were too old. We have come to realize that wild food collecting is a bit like thrift store shopping; sometimes you luck out and sometimes you strike out! It's all an adventure, either way.

Thank you again for coming by, and for being part of our little world.
May the Lord shine His blessings upon you, and may we remember to "accentuate the positive", no matter how dark things may seem!


Wisdom from "The Lord of the Rings":

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour fo those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." ~J.R.R. Tolkien

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Midsummer Celebration

Welcome, dear friends, to our Merry Hearts Cottage today. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of our home's name, so we can remember to keep a cheerful outlook on a rainy day!

The sun is actually smiling on us at the moment, although we have been tempted to wonder if we had moved to Seattle without knowing it!

We had the opportunity of attending the local Midsummer Festival, which occurs the second Saturday of every June, at the farm of a dearly beloved family friend. This man and his family come from Swedish stock, and he is the most humble and sweet man you could meet. Plus, he plays a mean accordion! He and my father served on the Idaho Conservation League, back in the late 1960s-early 1970s, making him even dearer in our estimation.

Come along with us and meet everyone!

David Sealander, the Master of Ceremony

A plaque honoring Grandfather Sealander, who was a musician, too.

It was a thundery, rainy day on Saturday, but we headed up anyway, knowing that the kindred souls who love such rare cultural events would be there, no matter what the weather. True to form, they had set up a tent borrowed from the local S.C.A., and folks were busily making daisy wreaths and cutting juniper foliage to decorate the maypole. Some had umbrellas, and some did not, but no one complained about the weather. No one was upset that there was mud everywhere (In fact, some little boys were happy to have puddles to jump in!), and some even danced in the rain!

There were wagon rides (Good thing there was a cozy roof on top!) to be enjoyed, and lots of calves and their mothers staring at the behemoth vehicle lumbering by.

When it was time to put the pole up, the rain ceased for a bit, and all able-bodied persons manned poles and ropes to raise the symbol of summer's blessings into place. Everyone was invited to dance around the maypole, which they did, according to their abilities.

That's our able-bodied Mr. Graham in the foreground!

A little band played polkas and traditional Swedish music, and everyone exhibited a true sense of small-town openness one to another. There was even a little playground for the children to enjoy.

We took a little nature walk while the older girls made daisy chains, and reveled in the magic of woods mingled with the volcanic deposits on the farm.

"Look at all this catnip! 'Twould be a pity to let it go to waste!"

We'll have to make a return trip when the weather is a bit warmer, and explore all the little fairy places we spied.

Thank you for sharing in our special day; having our friends along makes life even more wonderful!

Till next time,




"Thus happened it to Mabel
On that midsummer day,
And these three fairy blessings
She took with her away.

'Tis good to make all duty sweet,
To be alert and kind:
'Tis good, like little Mabel,
To have a willing mind!"