Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I was introduced today to a website you have to see: Floret. This woman is living a part of my dream. Erin grows and arranges sustainable, old fashioned flowers on the equivalent of one acre of land. I've always wanted to do that... grow and arrange organic flower/herb/vegetable bouquets, if only for personal use. One day I will. I may try next summer on a tiny, trial scale. Wouldn't a "job" like that be more lovely than anything? I think so. It would for me...
Wishing you a lovely Tuesday. (Is anyone still missing Gilmore Girl Tuesday nights as much as I?) -Brin
Monday, September 29, 2008
I was going to show you my Sugar Shoes today but it just ain't happening. I spent part of the afternoon on my hands and knees at a funeral home (no kidding) looking for my missing BlackBerry. The darn thing came up missing yesterday and I knew it was one of two places: in a friend's car or at the funeral home. Oh boy. I called my friend.
"Did you find my phone in your car? Could you look?" I begged.
Not here, came the answer.
I drove to the funeral home. After combing the parking lot and the grassy area and the hearse parking carport, I went inside and explained my hunt. The sweet funeral home lady opened the chapel and turned on the lights and helped me look. "Can you just call it?" she asked. No, no, I can't, I explained, I set it on silent for the service. "Maybe it slipped out of your pocket onto the floor and someone kicked it," she suggested. So there I was, crawling in and out of the pews and poking my hands in the cracks of the seats. Nothing. Finally found the thing in a big potted plant next to where I shook the preacher's hand as I was leaving the service. Figures. Thank goodness I didn't lean over the coffin or anything or I have no doubt my BlackBerry would now be six feet under.
I have no idea how the phone jumped my jacket pocket as I was leaving the funeral. It was a weird hour, anyway. As a Randy Travis tape whined Blessed Assurance over scratchy speakers, the funeral director walked up and down the aisle grinning "like he had new dentures", my friend observed. And that was after he leaned over me and tried to tell my friend about some 8-inch spread mule deer he'd killed at his dear lease and wanted to tell my friend's dad about. Sheesh.
Some days my life is too ridiculous.
Do you ever have times when you just get in a big fat funk? Today I feel like that monkey aboard the ark. I have no excuse, but here I am, right in the middle of a I'm-a-seasick-monkey-on-a-boat-that-won't-quit-rocking kind of funk. I think I need a day off to quill. And some Indian food. That might do it. Quilling and chicken masala. Sure wouldn't hurt to try... (grin).
Saturday, September 27, 2008
After a few minutes of thinking I typed my favorite Bible verse (for right now, anyway), into Wordle's copy line. It's Zephaniah 3:17: "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." I liked the wordle it came up with, pictured above. I want to crossstitch it onto a towel or pillow or something. Words are the neatest thing, I think, so God's words? They're gravy.
Here's another Wordle I did by looking around the house and typing what I saw:
There's a Fall Festival at church tonight which always ends in a chili cookoff and dessert auction. This year I'm making mini blackberry cobblers and something I'm calling Sugar Shoes. I have to show you those next week. You will scream. They're that great.
Gotta run back to the kitchen, which today consists of a plugged-in stove, a sink, and a makeshift island. Just wanted to poke my head in and wish you a happy weekend. A happy wordle weekend. -Brin
Friday, September 26, 2008
I grew up swimming and paddle-boating in this lake. Just looking at these pictures reminds me of pink bathing suits and ice cold Dr. Pepper and sunburns and french onion dip. This Park is my happy place. It's a beautiful two mile drive from Freeman House, so Millie and I hopped in the Jeep and then hopped out at the lake about 5 minutes later. She headed down the grassy hill to the water and dipped her front paws in. Then she waded in. Then she jumped in, alongside the tall grass and lily pads, and sniffed at the tiny fish that swam away.
We stayed awhile, getting our feet wet and running around and playing fetch and lying in the cool grass. We watched as dusk settled and the fireflies came out. It was a wonderful evening and I was sorry to see it slip across the water and fade away.
Seemed like Millie was, too. It took some encouragement and a lot of bribery to get her back in the car.
Yeah, I'm really not an outdoors person, per se, but it's hard not to be around here. Maybe someday you can visit and see for yourself. I'll pack a basket with dinner and a pie and some cold Dr. Pepper and put a soft blanket in the Jeep and you can experience it for yourself.
Just know, you may never want to go home. Thought it was only fair to warn you. (wink) -Brin
(For those who've asked, there are three (3) new House Helper sets in the Freeman House Shop on etsy. One set was even featured on this blog. And apron toolbelts! They're coming soon....)
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Somewhere along the way I've lost my appetite for big, fancy things. Fill a bowl with bird seed and give me a hand-carved wooden scoop and some pumpkins from my garden and suddenly I'm happy. Simple things, like the sights of fall, lift my spirits.
I've had a lot of work and family adjustments this week. Tomorrow I'm off and hoping to sleep a little late and then resume working on Freeman House. It's a luxury to do both those things. Tonight I'm going to take in fall feelings and watch a movie and drink hot tea and cuddle with the puppy.
Simple things = happy life. Little can go so far.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
With summer's best of weather
And autumn's best of cheer.
The kitchen is torn apart just now. I miss it terribly. There's scaffolding, saws, levels, paint cans, and wood everywhere. Boxes of dishes and stacks of pots and pans are crowding halls and rooms. It's a mess. I walk through it countless times each day, excited and disgusted all at once.
But hey! I finally feel as though I have a plan for the kitchen - the layout, the flow, the placement. It was important to me that the kitchen maintain its original integrity; I've kept the floors, the chimney, and the trims. (The kitchen never had cabinets... apparently pieces of furniture stood in as work surfaces... therefore no cabinetry, sink, or appliances were present or salvageable.) I was inspired by the look of something like this kitchen, although adjustments will have to be made. We'll see. Can't wait.
Point is, I suppose, that things are in such a disarray here (I can't cook, for gosh sake!), that fall doesn't seem real just yet. Perhaps in another week it will overtake me.
First I'd better clear the hall so it has room to come on in, huh? -Brin
(By the way, as soon as stuff's plugged in again I'm making Turtle Corn (with peanuts) and sending it to friends. Yum.)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Because... after a few days... you'll begin thinking "I can refinish these myself". And when you wake up and think, "I can refinish these myself!", do not stupidly run out and rent a sander, hoping to refinish them yourself. Instead, take you and your ridiculous thinking back to bed. Trust me.
But say you do, really, run out and get the sander and try to refinish those floors yourself. Whatever you do, please don't plug the machine into the one outlet in the house that throws the breaker every time you start the sander motor. And when you get mad and desperate, do not unplug the refrigerator "for a few minutes to borrow the plug" and forget while those "few minutes" turn into... say... long enough to melt ice and spoil milk. Yeah.
And when you do get the darn thing working and suddenly it starts shooting sparks out of the bottom - like a welding machine on Monster Garage - it would probably behoove you not to scream like the sky is falling and run out the front door, leaving the sander churning and spinning. Just a thought. (Turns out, it does that every time it hits a nail.)
Later, when the sander makes this violent jerking motion and suddenly spews grit and chewed-up sand paper toward you with the force of a tornado, don't do as I do and shove the machine into the wall and jerk the power cord out of the wall. It doesn't like that. And a wall isn't invincible. You learn these things.
And when the vacuum thingy on the sander quits working and you don't succeed in unclogging it, don't you dare think it's okay to continue sanding. It's not. You will inhale 100+ years worth of dirt, chemicals and sawdust. Your eyes will water, your throat will seize and choke, you'll cough puffy clouds for days and your boogers will run black for weeks.
But gosh. They do look pretty great, don't they? Not bad for a girl working all by herself. As in, without anyone around while she did all the work. Not bad at all, right?
Hmm. Wonder if that sander is available again this weekend? I'll bet I could refinish the rest of these floors myself...
Monday, September 22, 2008
I have so many exciting things planned over the next few months. My October is booked solid. I mean, booked. Solid. But in the midst of the madness I intend to find a few quiet moments. A little time to talk to my Creator. An afternoon to piece a quilt. A few minutes to collect firewood. Make a pot of chili. Catch a Cowboy's game. Read a book. Snuggle on the couch. Play my piano. Rake leaves. Breathe deeply....
Wishing you a fall full of quiet and comfort and contentment. Happy autumn! -Brin
Friday, September 19, 2008
Uncle Tim, I cried and cried last night when I watched this. I'm so glad y'all are okay. You have my prayers... and anything else you may need.
Love you, B
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I sometimes have that, too - a curious sense of my own roots somehow twined about this old house.
Over the weekend, before and during the storm, I sanded floors. Myself. As in, I rented a commercial floor sander and installed the sanding pads and operated the 57,938 pound machine myself. It was a beating, especially after the stupid machine played out and the power went out. I sat down on the floor as Ike blew right outside that window and shouted, "I hate this old house! You're a terrible, ugly old pile of wood!" And immediately I was sorry. I felt as if I had screamed at myself. There is, after all, a curious sense of myself twined about the old place.
So. Floor finishing stalled but will resume again Saturday. This time I'm renting a different machine from a local place and not a chain superstore, so when I take it back and say, "Um, this machine needs to be serviced. Two of the three sanding drums don't work and I couldn't complete my project," the cashier won't look at me and say, all exasperated like, "Well, my belly button ring's infected. We all have our problems."
After putting on lipstick and a new yellow jacket this morning, I went to the bank. "I need money for a new roof," I told the loan officer. Surprisingly, she didn't double over laughing or call security to escort the crazy lady (me) outside. "I think we can help," she said. I almost hugged her.
Freeman House... old place... you may be getting a pretty new roof soon. It'll thrill us both, I know. In the meantime, I need you to be nice and not throw any other problems my way. You're killing me.
A note from the State of Texas. I'm all licensed up and certified to proceed with plans for the bakery side of Freeman House. Somewhere deep down inside I'm excited, but right now, I'm so preoccupied with storm clean up and a busted lawnmower and a leaking roof and half-sanded floors that my mind can only stretch so far. Could you be a little excited for me? That would be great.
Freeman House will be busy this fall. She's hosting a fundraising "Spook House" on Saturday, October 18. Those who come out okay will get a candy bag and a cartoon Christian leaflet with our perspective of Halloween. Then on November 1, the Fall Masquerade Ball is set to be a hit. I've decided to be a Forest Fairy and I already have big golden wings and a costume. I have to show you. Later I'll show you. It's spectacular.
Whew. So. Better be off. I have a group of ladies coming by in a few moments to "peek in" on the house. (People think, when you tell them you're renovating an old house, that you're simply repainting and changing out cabinet hardware. Why is that?) Folks come over here and take a few looks around and say, Wow. You really are redoing this house. I mean, it barely has walls. And I smile and agree but think, "Careful what you say! You should have seen her before. She's beautiful but just needs love."
But maybe I'm too defensive and emotionally involved. After all, I think over time my own roots have twined about the old house.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Ike rumbled through yesterday afternoon, downing power lines and causing general chaos. I had a room full of folks late last night; since I'm on the same street as a nursing home and the police station my power's always the first to come back. We sat tight and listened to the wind and laughed our heads off and talked about the upcoming Freeman House Fall (Masquerade) Ball. (One woman is bringing an unloaded shotgun and dressing up as Sarah Palin. Her husband is coming as a caribou. Yet another couple is coming as Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson. Too much fun.)
Made it through the night and hurried to church this morning to find it cancelled. No power there either and likely won't be for several days.
The power and internet continue to blink off and on so I'm updating via my Blackberry. May be a little scarce this week as things return to normal. Thanks for the prayers and thoughts! -Brin
Friday, September 12, 2008
Traffic, slow and angry. Gas stations out of gas. Grocery store out of water. School buses rumbling by full of kids, their faces pressed to the glass. Hurry them home, the storm is coming.
Tonight's games? Postponed. Tomorrow's ladies lunch? Cancelled. There's another storm coming, people. The storm is coming.
My heart goes out to Galveston. I was just there, it seems, standing on the very beaches that are now flooded by storm surge.
Texas could use your prayers today. -Brin
(Saturday Update: It's 10:30 AM CST and Ike is expected to be downgraded from a Category 1 Hurricane to a Tropical Storm about the time he hits Freeman House this afternoon. We're fine here, but praying for the folks south of us. [And, okay, I'm keeping a concerned eye on the wind and praying for my roof, too.])
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Darling Millie... my firmest friend. She's become quite the little road trip sweetie. These pictures were taken awhile ago, back when she wasn't as eager to poke her nose out the window and let her velvet ears flap in the wind. Back when she was more concerned with only facing towards me and catching a nap.
Millicent. She's growing up quickly and becoming a silly, sweet companion and steadfast protector. Silly Millie.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The house is incredibly chaotic today... boxes, dishes, papers and piles everywhere. Friday the restoration of the original pine floors begins. This massive project has already, I've found, required quite a bit of packing, stacking, and juggling.
I guess I need to tackle this next, but sitting here looking at this sight in the rainy afternoon light gave me pause.
I think I'll have something cold to drink and sit down a minute. It will all get done later. It always does....
Hoping you find a quiet moment of rest sometime today, too. -Brin
Monday, September 8, 2008
Last Monday - a week ago today - was my wedding anniversary. I stayed with a friend... another dear, dear woman who survived a horrid marriage and lived to talk about it. When she invited me to stay in her little cottage, she encouraged me to come to the main house and visit before I settled in. I did. We talked until late in the night, and when I stood up to leave, she offered, Can I get you anything before you go? Maybe something to help you sleep?
Oh no. No. No, thank you, I said. I don't like taking medicine unless I have to. Besides, I'm fine.
She looked me over, up and down, and then nodded. When I was in England after my marriage ended, she began, a friend gave me a homeopathic remedy called Ignatia. Just to help me until I got back on my feet. It worked wonders. She handed me four tiny pills. Take these.
I did. I took them. Within an hour, I was completely calm. Clear headed, awake, and normal-feeling, just calmer. It was a miracle. I sunk into my borrowed fluffy bed and breathed deeply. I must have fallen asleep right away.
Since then, I've ordered and tried three different kinds of homeopathic remedies. They've all worked shockingly well and I've experienced no side effects. You guys know I'm not a product pusher. (Books I love, yes. But stuff? No. I don't sell or recommend products.) But natural, homeopathic remedies that work? Yeah. I'm making an exception.
If you're curious, as I was, visit my favorite new homeopathy site here. (And in case anyone should wonder, I ordered and have taken Ignatia, Wise's #174, and #304 . I wholeheartedly recommend them.) This said, I'm not currently on medication of any sort, but if you are, you may want to run these by your doctor before giving them a go.
I have a handful of friends who rely on their anti-depressants. After my marriage ended and I went to counseling, my doctor/hero/counselor/man refused to prescribe me the medicine my friends were on. You're not depressed, he insisted. Some days you're just sad. Then he looked at me gently and added, You dreamed of a loving husband and a happy home and starting a family. And those dreams didn't materialize. You have every right to be sad.
Some days I still remember that conversation and smile. I'm thankful, as he suggested, that I've taken these past two years to face and fight through those broken dreams. I'm proud of myself for not burying the hurt in another unhealthy relationship or suffocating the ache with medicine. And I want to say - to any girl out there who's facing a broken relationship or abuse in her marriage or... divorce - that you can survive. That you will get better. I did, and I know you will too.
Not all of her dreams came true, but she was never sorry she had them....
Just a few things that were on my heart... and my nightstand... today. Maybe this will help someone. Love, Brin
Saturday, September 6, 2008
This bread is my favorite... for breakfast, for snack, for anytime. It's tender and warm and sweet and strawberry-ish. I love it toasted with sweet cream butter on top. But I eat it plain and at room temperature, too, with a cup of tea or a glass of milk. Divine.
I've been working to develop the perfect recipe for a sweet bread that can be modified - at a moment's notice - to accommodate most any fruit or berry you have around: blackberries, blueberries, peaches, etc. So far so good. I may make it available as a .pdf download as soon as it's perfected. How does that sound? Would anyone be interested?
The weather continues to be picture perfect here at Freeman House. No heat, low humidity, and soft, glowing sunshine. In a moment, after I hang the sheets out on the clothesline, I'm going to lie on a blanket next to the Thyme and fall asleep. This week tuckered me out. Tomorrow is impossibly busy. I could use a little nap.
Wishing you a sweet and simple Saturday. -Brin
Thursday, September 4, 2008
See the shirt behind the scarfed mannequin? I have to tell you this story. Last week, I had the pleasure of joining a friend and Leigh McLeroy for dinner. As in, I rode with them to this white-cloth Mexican restaurant, we ate, and while our friend ran an errand, Leigh and I went to the bookstore and did that, "Have you read this? What did you think of ...?" thing that girls do in a bookstore. I had to blink a few times just to be sure: was I really there talking books with the author of A Beautiful Ache and The Sacred Ordinary? Yep. Unbelievable.
But back to the restaurant. I ordered chicken something with rice and beans. It came and I ate carefully, trying to avoid the water spills or roll flingings I am famous for. (Scott - remember the time my buttered roll flew from my plate and hit Senator Sam Nunn in the back of the head?) Oh yes. I was carefully eating and thankful they don't serve rolls at Mexican restaurants when suddenly a forkful of refried beans dropped, in slow motion, on my beautiful new shirt. There was no getting around it gracefully: in front of my favorite writer I had dropped a glob of beans on my bust.
But it gets worse. I was in a bad way, also, that day, and so when the car stopped at Target so our friend could run in to look at bicycles, I knew the following: that I really needed some Kotex and that our little grocery store would be closed by the time I got home. I had to get it then. Had to. So I slipped the neon green package in my little carry-around basket and plopped a big book on top and was relieved to have it done. Of course, at the checkout I had to explain that yes, I had beans on my pretty shirt and yes, I was having to buy some bathroom things. Sorry, Leigh. I had to laugh and welcome her to my messy, thrilling life. What else could I do?
But I digress. Fall. Aren't you glad it's almost here? (I'm ready for the cooler weather and the sweaters it mandates, if for no other reason than they're great for covering up bean stains.) Yes, autumn. Soon I'll be planting garlic and lettuces. Harvesting pumpkins and green tomatoes. (Excuse the gardening talk. This is, I'm told, an "art and gardening" blog.)
Speaking of. Here's a quick word about the weekend blogging that took place on my site: I am deeply touched by those rushed to my defense... or at least the defense of folks who enjoy the right to say whatever they wish on their respective blog(s). (Isn't that freedom what makes blogs so pleasing? That we all have different ideas, opinions, projects, and causes?) To those who disapproved of my mention of politics and "religion" on this site, I can only assert that I make no apologies for my political position, faith, or my decision to frankly discuss the issues and beliefs I hold dear. I am appalled by the readers who tried to put me or this blog in a box of their own expectations. I am disappointed by the insinuations that women who create and garden can't also be women who advocate and campaign. What an infuriating, one-dimensional view of a woman's capabilities and rights!
(Also, it was interesting to note that some of those who chose to comment did so anonymously without signing their name. How awful to have opinions but not be bold enough to put your name to them! Therefore, for the purpose of fair and open discussions, I have disabled anonymous commenting on this forum. It saddens me because some of my favorite commenters: my Aunt Mindy "Auntie M" and friends Sara, Amber, and Grace, all commented anonymously.)
Whew. Okay. So now you're up to date: the weather's cool, the scarf is done, the bean stain's off my shirt, I've responded to both my clan and my critics, and I explained the changes to my comment forum. Anything else?
Oh yeah. Sarah Palin. I cried and clapped during her speech last night. Wasn't she... and her message... wonderful?
*We now return to our regularly scheduled art and gardening blog.* Grin.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
This has been the cry of my ever-running and over-exerted feet and heart lately: anything for a quiet life.
Gustav brought wind and rain, but not nearly what we anticipated, thank God. He's been gentle on us. Unrelenting but calm. Compared to Katrina, I think Gustav rather spared us and I'm grateful.
Having emptied a gallon jar of leaking roof water in the back hall this morning, I now have a tin pail under the drip. Every thirty seconds or so I hear the plunk of another drop. It's so quiet, save that dripping. The stillness is comforting.
I'm working on a new quilt... a postage stamp quilt. I really, really love these. I have squares of fabric from Alicia. I have bits of material from old night gowns and shirts, bags and blankets. I even have a dress in there from one of my childhood dolls. At night, just before I go to sleep, I quietly line up the squares and piece them together. I've been delighted to watch this beauty take shape. (Yesterday I decided to put a twin bed in a corner of the study. This quilt will blanket that bed and I'm sure it will be my favorite.)
For those who've asked, I'm also preparing five more House Helper bundles to hit the Freeman House Shop on Etsy by the weekend. The one I'm doing today will be a baby set. Precious.
So there's your update: rain, dripping, quiet, quilting, knitting. There's also a pan of homemade brownies in the oven.
Anything for a quiet life.
Monday, September 1, 2008
But the weather is calm and beautiful now. (Above, a picture of Freeman House's original barn.) Freeman House is about 1 hour west of Shreveport, Louisiana, a community already packed with folks who fled Katrina and decided to stay. Our little town also absorbed some of Katrina's displaced, so we are familiar with what we're already seeing this morning: long gas lines, a busy grocery store, heavier traffic. News reports say 1.9 million have been evacuated from the Gulf as of this morning. Some are headed here, just ahead of the rain, apparently. The weather forecast calls for 10 straight days of rain.
So we get ready. I have buckets and gallon glass jars out, ready to catch the water that always pours into Freeman House when we get these leftover hurricane rains. (A new roof estimate is $10,000. Can't afford that just now.) I also have baggies of personal hygiene items: toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, deodorant, shampoo, etc., ready to distribute if need be. I have meals ready to cook and a cleared-out library floor so someone can sleep here if they need to. We'll see.
I may be in and out this week, depending on what comes our way. In the meantime, the people affected by Gustav are in my most fervent prayers.
Happy September, all. -Brin