The Time Warp

Shirley is a granny.

She has been a granny for ten years. She says she has grown pretty used to it by now. In the beginning it took a lot of heavy thinking and re-arranging of herself to grab onto the thought of grannyhood. Gettin’ old was for everyone else. Shirley just knew she would not have that issue. Ha! Sometimes things have a way of sneaking up on a person. Age, for Shirley, was one of those sneaky little things.

Used to be when she talked about her life twenty years ago, she was a young momma with little babies running all over the place. Not so anymore. Twenty years ago she was a middle-aged momma, with a bunch of teenagers on the loose! How did that happen? Don’t ask Shirley. Time seems like a mystery to her. An enigma. Shirley remembers her momma telling her that the 30’s and 40’s were the busiest times of ones life. What she did not realize was that those years would vaporize into a vague misty memory. Her momma never told her that.

Caught in a time warp somewhere along the way. Sorta like flowers coming up in springtime. They seem to be so slow in bursting forth to color the dull winter earth. But are they? Eyes were just taken off the emerging plants. Had there been a more careful watch, the growth may have been noticed. More times than not they actually start growing before one thinks they should. Shirley finds herself gingerly stepping all around the bird feeder as they make their tiny, magical entrance. Then suddenly blooms are dancing in the breeze!

Maybe that is what happened in the middle of lifehood for Shirley. She got so busy and tied up with daily going ons that she missed that whole transition from young momma to grannyhood. Poof! It just seemed to appear!

A real strange thing happened to her the other day. Her husband, Snoot, was looking through old photos. He came upon an old family photo of them. Shirley just looked and looked at that young woman (that was she). After a few moments she quietly remarked, “I knew her once.”

Surprised by her own words, and the feeling of the vapor of time, she was caught again in the mysteriousness of it all. How can something, dear reader, seem so long ago, and yet like only yesterday at the same time?

Not that she would want to go back. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Pushing ahead into a new day has always brought joy and excitement to her. Today is a day that has never been she thinks with anticipation to herself, wonder what’s in store for this fine, new day.

She plans her days to be sure, but there is a question to everyday that no one but God Himself knows. Life happens. Shirley would say that far more than we think is out of our hands. Just try not putting make-up on a day because it is Saturday and it simply does not seem necessary. Or putting on that ugly old shirt that should have been thrown out months ago. Well, there is the ‘invitation’. Nine times out of ten somebody will decide to drop by that very day for an unexpected visit.

There are, of course, very serious events in lives that completely re-arrange one’s whole life in a moment. Those are beyond the scope of this little blog. Shirley’s thoughts are centered around the normal, daily passage of time. Those daily moments that fill a day, consume a year, and turn into decades often without even being noticed. How many full moons do you see, dear reader? How many stars do you gaze at regularly? Do you ever watch anymore the sparks of a fire as they rise up to Heaven? Have you listened to the Mourning Dove’s early morning song? Do you even know it? Are these the things that fill the time warp?

Shirley and Snoot live on a farm. Life is very much the same day in and day out. Routine is important to the well being of livestock. Truth is routine is important to humans too. Shirley says don’t mess with Snoots feeding times unless you want trouble. Routine can become boring though. Shirley has ways of shaking things up. It is funny watching her chase the horses around the fields with an empty trash bag snapping in the breeze to get ’em going. Getting the dogs and cats all excited and watching them run around like mad makes everyone laugh.

One word Shirley really loathes, and has all her life—‘bored.’ She would not allow herself to say it as a young girl, neither were her children, nor will she hear it out of her grandbabies. Life is simply too short to ever be bored.

Intentional. That is Shirley’s word. She has determined in herself that life is magical. Every day, moment, season of life, with nothing to be taken for granted. The following song is a favorite of Shirleys. It says it all so beautifully. “Don’t let me miss the Glory”, by Gordon Mote.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBfgDR8dYWI

A Truth Learned from Dandy

Dandy is my pal. We have been pals for over nine years. He is a good dog. He is the best personal trainer one could ever want. He encourages me to stay on task everyday with our daily romps outside. He is always wanting to go on walks, regardless of the weather. He knows the time of day. How he can tell time of day without reading a clock is a mystery. I suppose, like the horses, he can tell by the sun. So what about all those cloudy days? He is still on time.

He is a fine sized dog too. Standing about knee height, my fingers can reach his happy head for a friendly scratch whenever he likes. He weighs about 35-40 pounds. He is part Border Collie. Thank goodness he is only part. This breed likes to run and run a lot! He is liver colored with four white paws, a white blaze and collar, and a little white “shepherd’s lantern” on the tip of his tail. He was adopted from a pound in southwest Virginia. We are often asked his breeding. Our response, “He is 100% Pure Pound!”

Folks like him. Two fellas just recently told me they wanted him. “No, you don’t,” I told them, “You don’t know what you are asking.”

Suddenly I realized I had just expounded a Biblical truth. For those very words are in Scripture. To be exact they are found in Matthew 20:22. Depending on the translation, mine says, You do not know what you are asking.

This was in response to the question the mother of James and John had asked of Jesus. That is, if her two sons could sit on two thrones next to Him. Matthew 20:22 is Jesus’ response, “You do not know what you are asking.”

The fellows that thought they wanted Dandy did not know what they were asking either. So I told them. This dog gets up every morning at 4:30 am; he is very, VERY verbal; he will tell you when he is ready to have his breakfast and supper (regardless of the time), and he goes in and out of doors a hundred times to day to keep a check up on life out here at the farm. He loves running hard daily, and he chases everything. He is in everyones face because he knows everyone thinks him adorable.

Dandy helped me realize the truth that I may not always know what I am asking for either when in prayer to God for what I think I want. He has helped me take a step back from requests I make of God that have gone unanswered over the years. Perhaps I really do not know all that I am asking for. Maybe God is not as unfair as it seems at times after all. This causes me to wonder more fully about the request I have made. Do I really know all that is involved with my request?

I do know this; in order for me to understand God and His thoughts, I must know Him. The best way to get to know Him is to read His word—The Bible. There are so many wonderful versions available the excuse of not understanding it is not plausible anymore. My favorite place to begin is in Proverbs. There are thirty-one Proverbs. It takes very little time to read one per day. It is guaranteed wisdom will be learned after spending time in these beautiful words. Who among us could not use a little more wisdom in life?

Just think of all the real truth you will learn from your pets and the great, wonderful world around you by learning Gods Word! Amazing!

Enjoy the photos of my pal, Dandy.

The very first time we met in the pound. How does one refuse that face? And YES! he is barking.








He was taken everywhere with us to socialize him. Mom sure liked him too.
He kept a close eye on Mom as though he knew she needed watching as she grew older.
He enjoys trail riding with the horses.
My pal.

A Gentleman of a Horse

Picked out of a hat with several names in the running, the name, Duke, won.

Actually, a lot of family issues have been solved this way. That is, by drawing one out of a hat; short stick vs long stick; rolling dice; or toss of a coin. It has helped to avert several family feuds where no meeting of the minds met.

The name fits him well. He is a gentleman of a horse in every way. Standing about 15 hands, he is all black with a beautiful white star, and three white socks. Right now, in this cold winter weather though, he looks more like a big fuzzy fuzzball.

The new horse home with his happy new owner.

June 2020 will mark the fourth year he has been here. It had been a long time since a new horse was brought to the property. A couple bad mistakes were made. The biggest one was not keeping him isolated from the herd for 1-2 weeks. He should have not been allowed to touch noses with the other horses until that time period was over. Many ailments are transmitted through noses, and an upper respiratory illness hit full blast within a week of his arrival.

That was poor management. The high veterinarian bill proved just how poor a move it was. Every other horse in the barn was sick, except Duke, of course. He was the carrier! Two long weeks of coughing was heard from the barn day and night. Wellness and good health came back to all with much relief.

He was put in with the herd a little too quickly as well. He became ‘high horse’ immediately. Because he is a well-tempered horse, that did not cause too much upset. In some herds it can be a huge issue with some horses getting very beat up. Thankfully it was not a problem.

It did not take long for our students to feel comfortable with Duke.
He neck-reins well, and requires a gentle hand.

He integrated quickly with students, family and friends. They like his gentle personality, and he is pretty!

He is great on the trails.
Liked by little and big folks, Duke is fun!
In his winter coat he looks more like a fuzzy fuzzball.

He does not like folks mad at him and will leave the barn if able. Part of that is because of his good disposition. It also seems to be the nature of his breed. He is a Tennessee Walking Horse. They are very mild tempered horses.

He came to us late in his life so little is know of how he was trained, raised and handled. Though he responds very well to everyone who rides him. He is easy to work on the ground. He can get a bit jacked-up if his rider gets a little too forceful. Though this is true of most horses. A rider can make them or break them.

He is gentle with the smallest of admirers...
…and willing with the skilled riders.
He moves so smoothly one could have a cup of tea while riding him.

Come on out and meet him, along with all the horses. If it is a pretty day, you may get a pony ride on him!

In Focus #5-Tiny Winter

Winds are blowing winter back. Their howling around the house are foretelling it’s coming. So are the fluffy clouds briskly floating by, while swaying trees seem to be waving good-bye to the extra-mild weather we have been having here in the Valley.

For the most part of last week, doors and windows have been open to let the mid-60^ temperatures fill the house. Since early this morning though, a tiny crack in the front door would allow the gusty wind to rudely force the door open and gain entry.

Spreading mulch over the flower beds will be a futile job these next few days. Which means some moments to head outside with the camera. This is one reason this PFO (Primary Farm Operator) likes winter so well. It is time to look at the tiny side of life through the zoom lens of the camera. Winter is especially nice because it is still, and mostly quiet in every way. All of life and nature is taking a bit of rest.

It’s a great excuse to look ‘scruffy’ and not get in trouble for it. Gardens are covered with chopped leaves and dead plant debris. Fields and yards are a dull brown. The animals are furry and way dusty with dried patches of mud all over their bodies. No sleek, shiny coats in the wintertime.

Snow drapes a beautiful blanket over it all. Ice brings crystals. Every season has its’ own beauties to be sure. But somehow the mystery of winter calls this PFO outside all the more. Perhaps because it is fun to be “all wrapped up” out in the cold elements working to stay warm. Whatever the reason, outside it is with the camera tucked warmly under the arm wrapped in a heavy coat. It is the tiny things that grab attention. Please enjoy the following ‘tiny winter’ photos. Add your own in the comments if you like. They would be a pleasure to look at.

White Pine

Redbud
Hemlock

Hen and chick plant
An icy home (bird nest)
Flower cage in garden
Nap-time
Black-capped Chickadee
Cedar
Tiny pieces of ice falling from the wind blowing the trees.

Tina

Tina is the last one.

She is the only girl, and the last child of Snoot and Shirley’s. Clyde, Ot, Bubba and Tanner were thrilled when they had their sisters’ dolls they could shoot, hang and give a general hard time to. It was quite an effort civilizing those boys. After all these years Shirley would say she and Tina did a right fine job of it. .

It would get Shirley all riled up though to hear folks telling her how she just had to keep on a tryin’ for a baby girl till she got one. Oh that would get to her. She’d tell them to mind their own business then they wouldn’t be minding hers. Did they have any idea the economic cost of having a girl after all those boys? There was not one pink thing in that household. In fact, what Shirley really wanted to tell them cannot be printed here, dear reader.

It isn’t like she had anything against girls. It truly was a matter of economics. Snoot made a fine income, still money was tight and had to be carefully managed. How was this little girl to look like all those adorable little girls Shirley knew? All she had was a batch of dirty, worn out boy cloths and toys. She used to say that when those boys were done with something it was only fit for the dump, certainly not for give-away or passing down.

Then Shirley’s own momma came to mind. Her momma never did have a ton of cloths in her closet. What she did have though was real pretty, and classic in style. She would tell Shirley that one nice, pretty dress went a lot longer and farther than a bunch of cheap ones. That must’ve been so, ‘cuz Shirley’s momma always looked pretty and very stylish.

After all that thinking Shirley realized the importance of liking oneself better than what is hanging in the closet. Most especially for girls. It seems girls have a harder time with this than boys. Anyways, boys have their own set of worries. Girls are the topic today. Shirley’s momma had a real good opinion of herself. That kind of opinion that helps one along throughout their life. Does that make sense, dear reader? Her momma was confident in herself and her abilities. She was what country people call ‘gamey’. This means she was always wanting to try new things, and was not scared one bit of failing. She just knew she would not fail. In her young days it was not fitting for girls to play baseball, wear jeans, get all suntanned from hours outside, play with dogs, or ride horses like a wild little Indian. It seemed she knew her worth was who she was, not what she wore. Do you think it might do girls a lot of good to start looking at their own selves in a similar sort of light?

All that thinking lead Shirley to the idea that she would teach Tina the same notions about herself that her momma had. She stopped fretting about how her baby girl was going to look and hauled her outside instead of the clothing stores. They spent time walking in the woods, through the tall grasses in fields, and got wet looking for fish in lakes and ponds. They visited farms where, surrounded by sheep, lambs, cattle and calves, Tina learned not to be afraid. She learned how to “read” the animals, and how to handle herself safely around them. She has always been around horses, longer than she can remember.

Four older brothers have a big way of helping teach a little sister also. They took her everywhere with them. They taught her how to fish, shoot guns, ride a motorcycle , work on cars, and how to gut a deer. About the only thing Shirley had to intervene in on was caring for her dolls. Those rotten boys would carry them by their feet! Golly, is there any hope for civilizing boys? This is how you carry your baby dolls, Tina, real sweet and gentle like, Shirley would show her. Do you have any idea, dear reader, how hard it is to teach a little girl proper ways with four older brothers?

Those brothers were such good teachers. They made her strong, brave, and ‘gamey’. Shirley used to tell folks, “Having one man is going to be easy for Tina when she grows up and marries. Shoot, she has managed four of them all her life!” It makes her laugh too when she remembers how those sons just knew how awfully spoiled Tina would get being the only girl. They gave her her first cell phone, and her first pink shotgun!

As for all those cloths Shirley worried herself over, it came to naught. Time and tide came and went. Tina grew up in spite of not having loads of pink frillies in her closet. She grew up well too. She can do all those things her brothers taught her, and more. She is an accomplished pianist, and vocalist. She knows and loves The Lord. She is a fine young woman.

Shirley did do just as her momma too. Every season of the year she went to a nice dress shop in town and purchase one real pretty dress for Tina. It cost more in the beginning, but paid out big in the end. The styles were classic, the colors rich. She may not have a lot, but what she has is good.

It seems Shirley did alright following her mommas’ advice. For one, she had less laundry. Best though was, she had more time. Time to spend with her boys and her one wonderful little girl. That alone makes Shirley…

Tickled Pink.

Sugar Plums in Virginia?

“While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.” So reads a happy line from the famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore, The Night Before Christmas. Written in 1822 for his children. Published anonymously in 1823 in the Troy Sentinel. It was thought to have been given to the paper by a family friend.

It has been illustrated many times over the years. During the 1860’s it received its’ best known illustrations. Done by Thomas Nast for the Harpers Weekly. Nast, a political cartoonist best known for his Republican elephant and Democratic donkey, dressed Santa in the recognizable red fur trimmed in white and black belt today.

Diospyros virginiana is our sugar plum here in Virginia and thankfully is on our farm. Best known as the Persimmon tree. It is also called American persimmon, possum apples, or sugar plum to name a few. Wildlife enjoy them every fall, and so do our horses. So do we! We have had them on every farm here in the Appalachian Highlands.

Diospros virginiana, aka Persimmon, possum apples, or sugar plum.

Old timers used to tell us they were not good for eating until after the first hard frost. And if one wants a good laugh at the expense of another, give them an unripe persimmon to eat. They are so bitter, and makes one pucker! Truth is after a spell of good cool nights and days, they can be eaten. Just be sure to know the difference between the ripe and unripe. The ripe is soft to touch, and has a pretty deeper color then unripe one. In above photo, the ripe fruit is in the center of the frame. Do you see the difference in colors? They grow deeper in that pretty orange-like color as they ripen even more. In the photo below the beginning-to-ripe persimmon displays both yellow and reddish colors. And like most ripe fruit, they are plucked easily from their branches.

These are only beginning to get ripe.
They look like little Christmas ball hanging on the trees all late fall and winter.

Many folks do not know they even have these sweet trees on their property. The native ones do not get very large. It is rather like a treasure hunt finding them. In springtime they have the most lovely little white blossoms. The petals curl back on the flower. But for sure your horses know where they are. They will quickly clean up the fallen ones as will all the wildlife. They are a sweet treat.

Image result for photo of persimmon flowers
Internet photo

Ours grow on the western boundary line of our farm behind the barn. This area is not fenced so none of our animals can get to the trees, though the wildlife can. I pick them up and give them as treats to the horses in the evening. So far I have not found any in the woods.

If they see me going out behind the barn, they know something good is coming.
I try to be sneaky about it. They do not get them everyday.
The pretty orange-red color of ripe persimmons.

If the horses could get to them they would eat up every single one. Much of the fruit clings to the trees. A steady wind will bring them down though.

They are sure enjoying their treats!
See how rather little they are? The pine tree is much larger.
Yummy little sugar plums. Enjoyed by man and beast.

On your next walk about outside, look and see if you can find this sweet treat tree. You will have found a friend!

An interesting fact—A friend told me years ago Persimmon wood is the preferred wood for golf club heads.

Dot

Dot is an artist. Photography is her medium.

She was also the very first Daughter-in-law for Snoot and Shirley. When she and Clyde (their oldest boy) first met she was active in theatre. She was just the cutest little thing dancing and singing around on that big ‘ole stage. She enjoyed the theatre all during her teenage years, and into her twenties. Snoot and Shirley saw her perform the leading role in Guys and Dolls. They couldn’t stop smiling.

All that was a few years back. Dot and Clyde have been married now for fifteen years. Wow! Shirley says time flies when folks are having fun. Dot has sure brought a lot of fun into the family during all the time they have been hitched. And even before getting hitched.

Shirley tells the funniest stories about those boys of hers and how they would take full advantage of the “Helping Others” chart that used to be taped on their kitchen wall. Shirley worked hard trying to get those rowdy, wild boys to think of others on occasion. So, as they did nice things for others, they would list them on the chart. Once the chart was full Shirley and Snoot treated those ‘good’ boys to pizza. Right or wrong, it seemed like a good way to get those boys thinking of others. Their sister, Tina, did not need near as much bribery.

It worked for a good while. That is until Dot came along. Then they just downright took advantage of it. Shirley says those smarty boys would write things like:

~Washed car windows on Dot’s car.

~Helped Dot carry in a box .

~Took Dot on a bike ride.

~Talked to Dot ’til Clyde got home.

~Dot, Dot, Dot, the whole list had her name on it.

The sun didn’t rise on Shirley just yesterday, dear reader. She was onto those fellas. She put a stop to those shenanigans in short order. They had to do real things for folks besides just Dot. They got by with it once and got their pizza. Shirley says, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Dot and Clyde are the oldest child in each of the big families they grew up in. Like a good herding dog, they know how to get themselves in order, and how to corral the rest as well. Shirley used to tell Clyde he was a ‘good dog’ because he was so thoughtful about keeping an eye on everyone and everything. She has noticed Dot is a ‘good dog’ too! This is a term of endearment, dear reader, kindly take no offense.

Because all these boys have the same last name, Shirley calls each family by the first name of her boy. Such as; the Clydes include his whole family; the Ot’s, his whole family, and the Tanners are his. Does that make sense? Well, the Clydes live the farthest away from Snoot and Shirley. They see them the least. The best part though is those two adorable children visit and stay a good bit with Snoot and Shirley. And even better? Shirley says the parents do not come!

She has good reason for that too. Before their first grandbaby was ever born, Shirley told all her boys and girl that when she became a granny, she was going to be a ‘Yes’ granny. She said she had spent twenty years saying ‘No!”, and now she intended to spent the next twenty with her grandbabies saying nothing but ‘YES!’. That is why it is far more fun when the parents are not around, as there is no contention with all those yeses! Not to worry, Shirley keeps it all within reason. They do not get too spoiled.

Anyway, back to Dot. It is a wonderful thing that she lets those babies stay with Snoot and Shirley. It is just such fun for them all. They laugh, play outside, ride bikes, walk dogs, play in the pond, shoot the bb gun and simply enjoy each others company. Mostly they all get tired, hungry, and have to use the bathroom at the same time too. This makes for easy planning.

Dot is in demand with those fine photography skills of hers. She travels a good bit. She has been in many fine magazines on account of her artistic ability. She has even taught classes. This keeps her right busy in addition to being a momma. Clyde runs his own business. So when life gets a little tight for them those grandbabies get lots fresh air and fresh thoughts with Snoot and Shirley.

Being the oldest in a family must be a tough job Shirley thinks often to herself. She would not know as she was the youngest in her childhood home. Ask her older siblings though and they would say she was spoiled rotten and did not ever have to do one thing. Shirley would not agree, of course, but she does recognize the heavier responsibilities that are often laid upon the oldest child in a family. She knows she did with Clyde, and her dear Dot has mentioned on occasion the load she carried with all her younger siblings.

Seems to Shirley in many ways they have already been parents of sorts. They have a fine family with one boy and one girl, and it is wonderful. Not everyone is meant to have a passel of kids. There is no need for apologies either. If we were all the exact same way, why, one of us wouldn’t be needed.

Socrates got it right way back in 400 BC when he said “Know Thyself.” Shirley believes a thoughtful person spends time figuring out just who they are, and how they are to conduct their own lives. She has heard it described as living in their ‘zone.’ That sounds a little hippie to her, but it is ok. After all, she is a product of the 60’s. She also believes Dot (and Clyde) have a good notion of just who they are. They are thriving. So are those two delightful grandbabies. The only worry Shirley has is that she does not look fat when her talented DIL

Dot takes a beautiful family photo.

In Focus #4–The Nativity

We have a small Fontanini Nativity set that is put out every Christmas. Are you familiar with these beautifully made Italian nativity, figures and town scenes? They have been in production for one hundred years. We purchased ours at a local Christmas shop well over a decade ago.

Handcrafted and painted in the most lovely of colors. Colors that remind me of those used by Michelangelo. Warm, soft, gentle colors. Colors and feelings that speak of The center figure of all their work, Jesus. But the final selling point for me was the fact they were (and still are) made of polymer. I wanted Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus figures to be safe in the hands of our little children. It seemed easier for us to convey the love of Christ to our children when they could touch the figures, hold them in their hands, and pretend they were right there in the stable with them. Even re-arrange them, if they chose to.

Jesus is the reason for Christmas. Everything else is secondary. So here is a question for you, dear reader, to ponder. What are you going to do with Jesus? For the claims He alone has made to, for, and about Himself and mankind? Accept or reject? These questions demand an answer from each one of us alone because of the prophesies full-filled and claims He made.

As you think on these questions of Jesus, I hope you enjoy this photographic journey through the Nativity and the most important Birth in the history of all humanity.

Merry Christmas.

These loving beholders are not Fontanini.
…and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Glory!

Hazel

Hazel is happy.

She has the best laugh. Shirley (her MIL–mother-in-law) spends untold hours thinking of ways to make Hazel laugh. She likes to hear it that much.

She not only has a great laugh, she has a great accent. You see, dear reader, she was not born here in America. She and her family were from a far away place. Her daddy slipped she and the rest of his precious family out of their country in the dead of night for the religious freedoms this great country had to offer. Hazel was knee-high to a grasshopper when they arrived here. She was a tender young teenager. She could not speak one word of English.

Shirley says Hazel is also brave. Brave in many ways. For one, she has a never-give-up spirit. Shirley and Snoot are as proud as peacocks of their second DIL. She married Ot (Shirley’s second boy) ten years ago. Hazel, her two capable brothers, her momma, daddy and friends did all the work for her wedding. Flowers, food, decorations, music, make-up, lights, candles and hair. Snoot helped too. He peeled 20 pounds of potatoes for mashed potatoes! Way to go Snoot. It was a beautiful wedding. One interesting thing Shirley noticed that she had never seen before was that most of the guests Hazel invited wore outfits that matched the colors she had picked out for her wedding. The colors were dark green and orange. It was a beautiful sight. Hazels momma looked gorgeous.

When Hazel was new here to this country, she decided she wanted to work at the local bridal shop in the town where she and her family lived. Remember, she could speak no English. She only knew how to say, “I want a job.” Well, that was all she said to the owner of that lovely shop over and over and over again. That woman could not take anymore of that pretty, annoying, persistent teenager week after long week. Hazel was hired. And that was the grand beginning for her. She learned English in no time flat. It did not take that owner long to realize the quality of gal she had in Hazel. She flourished working at that pretty shop.

She also has a great sense of humor. One funny thing she and Shirley have fun talking about it when she and Ot (Shirley’s boy) started taking a shine to one another. Hazel was still right young. Too young for Shirley’s liking to be sure. This caused a bit of upset between the three of them. And to Shirley’s great delight, Hazel left. Ot was too young too. Shirley believes mothers have an insight into the maturation of their boys. Ot was not there yet, and goodness gracious neither was that ‘little girl!’ Then a surprising thing happened. Two years later, when Hazel was twenty years old, she came back! It was then Shirley says Ot and Hazel were meant for each other. God’s design. Hazel has a lot of fun telling Shirley how much she did not like her in the beginning. She laughs a lot harder about it than Shirley does. Bless her heart.

Not too long after that they were married. It was a beautiful wedding. We already said that. It was at Ot’s granny’s farm. Hard to believe that was over ten terrific years ago. Time sure has a way of going by, don’t it?

One of the most interesting, and special things about Hazel is her love of this country, America. It has been said, “You don’t know what you got ’till its gone.” You see, dear reader, Hazel and her family never had it. But what exactly is “It?” Freedom. Freedom of religion, freedom to pursue one’s own interests, freedom to live where one wants, build as one wants, work where one wants, and speak as one wants, marry whom one wants, to name a few. Space. Have you, dear reader, ever thought about space? Your personal space? To move about as you please, visit wherever you please, stay as long as you please? Do these things ever come into your mind?

Shirley and Snoot like to be reminded of how good they, and their family have it here in America. They know that sometimes it is easy to forget all the gifts and blessings of this free country. That is why everyone in the world wants to come here, they remind themselves. Hazel always reminds them. She remembers what it was like to not have these precious freedoms.

Another feather in her cap is this; she is a Naturalized Citizen of these wonderful United States of America. She worked very hard to study and pass the test. She is a fine example to all of us that have desired to be a legal American. It is a gift and honor. Not to be taken lightly. Just ask Hazel how much effort it took on her part to earn this citizenship. Her entire family is proud like crazy of her.

She speaks beautiful English now. Though she still has a lovely accent in her pronunciations of some words. And to Shirley’s great delight she can get a big ‘ole laugh out of her for some of the weird ways the American language goes. Why wouldn’t it after all? America is a beautiful land of many peoples and cultures. This has been her timeless beauty since her beginning. It is something every American, regardless of when they earned their citizenship, should be proud of. We have all worked hard for it. To be an American is an honor and gift. Whether we just earned our citizenship, or have been here for generations matters little. What truly matters is that we have a clear understanding of the gift and responsibility of being an American. We stand for our country. We defend our country. We love our country. After all, no matter when we came—it is our country.

Shirley just knows this is one reason why Hazel is so happy. Because she remembers. She knows. It has made her strong, resilient, fun. Best of all, it has made

Hazel happy.

A Christmas Open House

We Virginians love Open House events. Simply ask any realtor. When they have an Open House event for a home on the market, they get lots of folks just wanting to see the house, how it is decorated and laid-out. It is fun.

Christmas Open House events are even more fun. Full of festive decorations, joy and anticipation of Christmas. I am a docent at Abram’s Delight Museum in Winchester, Virginia. The first week-end of every December we have our Christmas Open House. Full of beautiful greens, wrapped packages, dried flowers, real candles, bows, ribbons, and Christmas bulbs. The live Christmas music dancing on the air is the clincher that makes it all complete. There is no admission fee to see and experience all this loveliness either. Just come, enjoy, and get some new decorating ideas for Christmas.

Our local garden clubs decorate the house. How they get it more beautiful from one year to the next seems magical. Each room is decorated by a different club. There is a unique difference that is fun to study from room to room. We do put ourselves into our creations don’t we?

Because I am a docent, I am not able to be as poky as I would like in looking at each room and taking photographs. Next year I shall get there even earlier so as to capture more of this festive, joyful event. I hope you enjoy the few photos I did happen to get.

Simply beautiful
Detail of door entry. Those gorgeous dried hydrangeas were spray painted with red paint. Aren’t they lovely?
Our cheerful greeter in the Reception Room.
This cotton wreath with the happy, red-checkered bow is charming.
Our guests were thrilled that we had real candles!
Beautifully wrapped gifts full of anticipation.

Merry Christmas to you, one and all…