Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Secret Tree

In those days secrets were well kept...
-Stuart Symington

Everyone should have a secret tree. This is mine. This is the tree I would sit under, from the time I was nine years old, whispering secrets and bearing my soul.

You can't tell by looking, but buried deep beneath the moss and bark, this weathered tree holds my inmost thoughts. For twenty years, it's absorbed and guarded the details of my life.

I visited the tree today. She knew me right away, I think. Just like old times, I sat beneath branches and told her things. And just like old times, she listened quietly, taking it all in.

Millie and I stayed until clouds rolled in, dark and heavy. Then we turned toward home, lighter for leaving our cares at the secret tree....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Belated Summer Reading List

I get nervous, usually, when I post my reading lists.

It's silly, but when I stop to consider how diverse the readership of this blog is: young, old... single, married... liberal, conservative... city folk, country folk... believers, doubters... it poses a few issues. I mean, every time I post a list I get a flood of email. Grandmas complain that my list is too "young", while twenty-somethings get freaked out by "heavy" subjects. Liberals object to Mike Huckabee books. Christians protest that I'm advocating the reading of books outside of Bible bookstore-lit, but all the folks who visit here everyday who have little to no interest in God, much less a personal relationship with Him, castigate me for offering titles they deem "preachy" and "indoctrinating".

Truth is, a girl can't win. Even on her own blog.

So here's what I decided this time: I'm going to post my summer reading list. Revolutionary, I know. But here on my personal blog, I'm going to ahead with posting a few of the titles of the books I'm attempting to read and enjoy this summer. Can I guarantee you'll heartily endorse every last one? No. But hopefully we'll both come away with a favorite new title or two. And isn't that the best thing about reading, anyhow? A journey of discovery turn familiarity?


Happy reading and discovering! -Brin

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Collage of Treasures

Turns out I want to do a little more with the Belated Summer Reading List than just shove a few titles at you through the computer screen and mutter, happy reading. So may I have another day to polish it? It will be worth it, I promise.

In the meantime, I'm drinking white peach tea from a cold, glass bottle while frantically uploading yet more Freeman House items to the eBay shop. (You can view all of them by clicking on the "Freeman House Sale" button on the top right of the blog.) I expect to be finished uploading all items by Thursday. There were several treasured items, you see, that I simply couldn't part with at the moving sale last week. For one, I knew folks wouldn't appreciate them as you might, and for two, I knew a few quarters wouldn't justify their sale or cover their sentimental value. Not in my sad little mind, anyway. So here they are, quietly bobbing their way down an eBay river of treasures, each looking for a new home with a new face to gaze quietly - adoringly - at them.

Back tomorrow with books. Good books. See you then. -Brin

Monday, July 27, 2009

Today - after books, sunflowers and a rousing game of Taboo (with the likes of folks such as the incomparable Starla Ray) - I'm headed bedward. The belated summer reading list tomorrow, eh?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ends and Beginnings

Now this is not the end.
It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
-Winston Churchill

I love Churchill's quote. It resonates with me right now. This part of my life isn't the beginning of the end, it's simply the end of a beginning.

So here it is... the future homestead. You're looking at the spot where my little cottage and gated garden will soon sit. (If you follow the cottage link, check out "KC 936". That's it.) It's about four acres about eight miles out of a town about an hour from Freeman House. Out here you can see the stars. You can skip rocks on a pond. You can watch the deer and rabbits run. You can wander down the tree-lined county road for a mile and not pass a soul. This is my future home, and I'll build my cottage and its gardens with my own two hands.

I'm officially moved out of Freeman House. People came to the sale from all around - San Diego, Boston and Phoenix, even. Everything sold. I mean, almost everything. Couldn't believe it. I laughed and I cried and I hugged necks and patted backs. And when I drove away, I felt it: that it was the end of a beginning, but hardly the beginning of the end.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time:
also he hath set the world in their heart,
so that no man can find out the work
that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
-Ecclesiastes 3:11

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Rain the past few days means relief from the searing Texas heat. That's a blessing all around, especially for plants.

Especially for plants I tugged out of the Freeman House garden, hoping to keep alive until they can be transplanted into a new garden. There are more to move, but so far, so good.

Even the bell peppers appear to flourish despite the sudden transition.

I'll be occupied for the remainder of the week with the large sale at Freeman House, slated for Thursday and Friday. If you're in the area and want to stop by, I'll be the brown-haired girl in the back, looking hopeful....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Let all that I am
wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him.
-Psalms 62:5

Saturday. A quiet day of waiting. After lunch, I pulled on worn-thin blue jeans and went outside for a stroll past the old apple tree.

The apples were just beginning to blush under the glare of the summer sun.

We left the apple tree and wandered into the field of tall, swaying grass. Millie likes this best.

Together we walk, pausing to look and listen and explore...

...and pick flowers. Zinnias and lantana grow from gardens past. I clutch them as I walk along, then say a prayer and throw the flowers after it, towards heaven.

My prayers may not be acknowledged, but I'm never sorry I said them.

After the walk, I climb on the trampoline. With a giant leap, I throw my bare feet to the sky and sail back toward earth.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Charming, Happy Things Sale

I promise a return to normal blogging soon. Normal as in gardening, recipes, stories, pictures... the usual. The month of July, apparently, I've dedicated to moving and clearing out Freeman House. That is, as you might guess, a huge undertaking. Next week is my big 3-day sale in which I'll offer up furniture, dishes, linens, appliances, building material and tools from Freeman House. Yikes. This week I devoted to more packing and selling of a LOT of books, CDs, and movies.

But so you know, there's a final Freeman House Sale going on over at eBay. MaryJane Farm Magazines, a special cake platter, tea cups and saucers, a favorite lunch bag, and many, many other things are there (and will be added throughout the weekend!) for bidding. A final farewell to Freeman House and all her charming, happy things....

As soon as the old dear is empty and all my belongings fit into that 9' by 14' storage building, I'll be back. We'll talk books and cake and gardening and cottage plans (!) and summer recipes and sewing and Millie. Promise.

Wishing you a happy and carefree weekend. -Brin

(For those who asked, visit the postings on eBay by clicking here.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Courage Is the Only Thing

Success is never found.
Failure is never fatal.
Courage is the only thing.
-Winston Churchill

I adore this quote. Success isn't arbitrary and failure isn't fatal. But courage - ah, courage. Courage is the key.

I'm not much of a reality TV watcher, but my Mom was glued to America's Got Talent last night so I joined in. I was taken by Mia Boostrom's performance. Apparently the 16-year old tried to land a contestant slot on the show last year and was turned away. But there she was again this year, proving that success isn't found, failure isn't fatal, and courage is the only thing. She played and sang again, and this time she triumphed. I loved her and I loved her voice.

Every now and again you just need someone to remind you....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Away We Go

Remember these charming stamps? They - and other favorites - are listed in my Etsy Shop, ready to find happy homes.

Amazingly enough, I'm about to fit all my belongings into a 9 by 14-foot storage building. Incredible. I am, of course, selling most everything: furniture, appliances, collections, the like. I'm also listing things on Amazon, eBay and Etsy. It's freeing, selling all your things except the essentials. This is freeing, I keep telling myself as I mail off another treasure, and don't you want to be free?

And so stuff goes... away to another home, another life, writing another chapter in its already-colorful story.

As do I. As do I....

(Quick Update: The stamps were snatched up quickly - thanks! - but there are still many items remaining and many to come throughout the week. For my autographed books - by Rachael Ray and by Mike Huckabee [blogged about on this site!] - see the Amazon shop by clicking here.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.
-Sam Keen

I gathered what was left of the Freeman House tomato garden and brought it here to ripen in a sunny window. Suppose I could have made Chow Chow, but to be honest, it's too hot and I'm too lethargic. With the temperature reading 106 degrees outside, I'm keeping out of the kitchen and near the air conditioner. Later, perhaps when the sun goes down, I'll make salsa or tomato sauce and can it for the colder months.

Ready for a laugh at my expense? This'll give you a good one. Remember how I explained awhile back that Millie was pregnant? Yeah. She's not. As a new dog owner, I became desperately concerned when my girl stopped eating, began bleeding, and demonstrated three other signs of dog pregnancy. Finally, I consulted the vet. Millie was just in heat, but I was too new at this to recognize the signs. I can't tell you the relief I felt at my own stupidity... and at the realization that Millie won't be having puppies!

(Insert your favorite dumb girl/dog joke here.)


I have one load of things remaining at Freeman House. After it's hauled away, I'll say goodbye to the house forever. As devastated as I am, I do have a deep satisfaction in knowing that the place has been saved from condemnation and the wrecking ball. I'm excited about the house's future and the new owner's renovation plans. Freeman House was my scourge and my salvation, and I'll always be grateful for my time there.


The past two weeks have been anything but lazy, what with my Grandad's death and this monster-big move. But I'm sorry to say that my blogging, as well as my Etsy order getting-out, has been shamefully delayed. My apologies to each of you affected, and deepest thanks for your patience. -Brin

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Most Precious Gifts

Bad things do happen; how I respond
defines my character and the quality of my life.
I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness,
immobilized by the gravity of my loss,
or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure
the most precious gift I have - life itself.
-Walter Anderson

Freeman House is no longer mine. I handed the keys to the new owner Wednesday and left quietly through the kitchen door. I've never cried so hard in my life. My eyes are still puffy.

But it's only a house, right? Four walls, a roof and a floor. I can't take it with me. And how I respond to this does define my character and the quality of my life. So I'm choosing to rise above and treasure the precious gift I still possess: life. Possibility. Faith. The hope of things to come.

There's always the hope of things to come. That, to me, is one of the most precious gifts....

(Some great reading I've relied on when facing loss, sadness, or general down-and-out blues? Rising Above, Let the Journey Begin: God's Roadmap for New Beginnings, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, and Soul Catcher: A Journal to Help You Become Who You Really Are. I hope, if you're working through something, that these books and journals help you as much as they've helped me.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Muted Mornings

There are no great things,
only small things with great love.
Happy are those.
-Mother Teresa

A muted morning in my world.

My mother and I have been mindful to take better care of ourselves - and each other - since I've been here. Better than we had been. For some reason, this is involving lots of yogurt, almonds, cinnamon and wheat germ. I can't complain. The small things with great love mean everything right now. Happy are those.

Yesterday we drove over to Freeman House together and began packing. I won't pretend as if it was enjoyable. Having until August first to be out of the house so the new owner can move in, I don't have the luxury of calm, reflective packing. And maybe that's a good thing. I hastily shove things - books, yesterday - into boxes, wrestling the boxes closed and sealing them with a flourish of (twisted) tape. But not everything will be stored away. I spent several hours last night listing books on Amazon. (If anyone's curious to see the books I've begun selling off, they are here.) A plan is presenting itself to me and, as exciting as it is, it does involve massive downsizing.

More on the plan later. It is, I'll admit, delightful. Not my first choice, to be sure, but a beauty of an alternative nonetheless. We'll discuss it later this week.

I'm off to the store now to buy more yogurt. Looking forward to many muted mornings to come.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

It's finally over: the visitation, the people, the service, the graveside. The week that wouldn't end. It was wonderful and it was wearisome. I'm unspeakably thankful it's behind us.

Sorry I've been absent. It appears I've moved into a period of strong wind. Instead of cursing it, I'm trying to embrace it. The stronger the wind, the stronger the tree. As I prepare for this week - the week I'll deed Freeman House away - I keep repeating the phrase to myself. That, and this: He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17) I can't tell you the comfort that verse brings, the thought that my loving, compassionate God goes ahead of me. That He's already in my tomorrow... has already okay'd everything that will come my way. He is before all my things, and in Him I will hold together. It has become my mantra.

Thank you for your patience and encouragement during all this wind. Hoping this week brings you comforting, held-together things. -Brin