"It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others." A.Holmes

Monday, September 28, 2015

Treasure In The Mail

Look at the treasure I found in our mailbox today. Letters, hand written letters ! Two letters were written to me by two of our granddaughters. I am their pen-pal and I love receiving their letters, but probably not near as much as they love receiving mine. ( I hope.) Another was a sweet thank-you from a beloved aunt and uncle. The 4th letter was from a cousin I've just begun an acquaintance with and she WRITES letters and sends interesting and informative e-mails about what is going on in her life. ( What I'd hoped e-mails would really be when I first began to go on-line.)

Writing letters used to be a big part of my life. Our mother had me and my 3 sisters writing regularly to our father when he was stationed over-seas in Vietnam (courtesy of the U.S. Army) and our many relatives scattered far and wide. Looking back on the part letter writing played in my family's life I see both my parents were conscientious letter writers and my father wrote many letters state-side too, keeping in touch with relatives, friends, writing letters to the editor of the local paper, and he always wrote special words of encouragement to our children in their birthday cards. All the letters and birthday cards he wrote to us are cherished to this day though he's been gone from this earth for many years.

For years after my husband and I were married I kept up a regular correspondence with my husband's great-aunts . I did not realize until they passed away that there were very few people who wrote letters to us left in this world. We were told if we would join the modern age ( actual words from family) and get e-mail we would hear more from our family and friends but that proved untrue. We got a lot of  forwards and just plain spam, but no real letters. With facebook now the current mode of keeping in touch we appreciate pictures of relatives far and wide and the ability to connect with them instantly, but even this is to me a pale comparison to a simple hand written letter. ( And don't get me started on facebook being the only way many people send out invitations and thank-yous for very important celebrations.) A hand-written letter or invitation shows the person (s) sending it took a small bit of time to personally write to me. A letter had to be written, an envelope had to be addressed, a stamp purchased, and after affixing the stamp to the envelope containing the letter or invitation, it had to be mailed. Not a lot of effort, but effort that shows someone cared enough . Someone cared enough to send treasure in the mail.

" It seems a long time since the morning mail could be called correspondence." Jacques Barzun

"Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company." Lord Byron

"What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can't re-read a phone call." Liz Carpenter

Image result for quotes about handwritten letters

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Playing With Pumpkins & Squashes

 I was playing with my ceramic pumpkins and squashes the other day trying to decide how I want to arrange them on our buffet.
 This looks too cluttered but I am leaving the arrangement this way for now while I think about it. Do you ever decorate that way ?

Not all my pumpkins and squashes are ceramic. I traded a few dozen of my chickens' eggs and some lavender bunches for this huge blue squash at a Poultry Swap last weekend. Isn't she a beauty ? She even matches most of my home décor. I was told she is a meat eater squash grown from heirloom seeds. I am going to harvest her seeds and plant some of these beauties for myself. I have never been too interested in growing veggies and garden produce but now I am . Have any of you ever grown these ? Any tips ?

Still excited my favorite season has begun , I am doing a happy dance in my heart right now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Thursday in the Gardens ~ Autumn Is Here !

 It doesn't look like Autumn around Cedar Pond yet.Our grapes are still producing fruit.
 The grape vines and rugosa have grown so large and strong they're bending the arbor and fence as they weave in and out of the lattice and pickets. It was hard picking the grapes that grew in the tangles and the birds are enjoying the fruit in the shady hiding places the vines provide.
 Rugosa blossoms are so sweetly fragrant and the rose hips are orangey ripe on many of the rugosa bushes. I have to remember to take a picture of them soon, they're beautiful this time of the year and quite large considering the small flowers they come from.
 My husband's veggie garden is about ready to be put to bed. We picked the last of the beans and ate them for dinner last night. The cucumbers are done , the lettuces are in their last days and bolting. We are getting a lot of yellow squashes and some zucchini, carrots and a few stray strawberries too. The onions and garlic are already harvested and we have a few months supply for fall and winter cooking.
 My husband has been painting our house . It's taking some time but one advantage to a hot and dry summer is there have been plenty of good days to paint.
It's breeding season in the sheep pens and my new ram Jonas is a happy boy. He and the ewes are so much fun to watch as they spy the large cottonwood leaves falling from the trees and race each other to get to the leaves first. There's no need to rake leaves anywhere the sheep can get to them. I am looking forward to some lovely lambs this coming spring.

The leaves have only now begun to change color, but many of the trees that are usually mostly red and yellow this time of the year have not changed color . Our Japanese Maples haven't changed color yet either. It is only the first week of Autumn though, and I am excited my favorite season has begun. Still pretty warm during the day but we're having crisp evenings and mornings perfect for sipping hot mugs of coffee on the porch . Happy , happy, autumn !

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Washington State Fair ~ (A Simple Account from a Fair Exhibitor )

 My stint at the 2015 Washington State Fair ( formerly known as The Puyallup Fair ) is over after 5 very long , labor intensive, and fun days and nights at the fairgrounds. I am still recovering. The picture above is of me and our oldest grandchild Bugs *  in my Jacob Sheep exhibit in the Animals of the World barn, an exhibit that is only at the fair for 1 week. I don't think I could have done this  without his help and enthusiasm. ( Did you know that each and every exhibit at your local and state fairs is completely designed, set up , and maintained by the exhibitor for their duration of the fair ? LOTS of preparation and hard work go into these exhibits often done for free or for very little monetary compensation.You should take that into account when you visit your local fairs and thank the people in the exhibits you like. )
 Exhibitors are required to be in their exhibits, or have someone fill in for them for all the hours the fair is open. We ( grandson and me ) were there a minimum of 12 to 15 hours daily, beginning our day an hour and a half before the fair opens to clean out the sheep pens and get ready for the public to view. Here is our oldest grandson ready to greet the public and answer any questions they might have about my sheep.
 Goth, my Jacob Sheep ram and the main attraction of my exhibit. He is 10 years old and this is his last year at the fair. He is now happily at home and sharing a pen with two female Jacob sheep ( ewes). Maybe they will produce some very special spring lambs for me. :)
 Blitzen ( center ) believed himself to be the main attraction and he did a very fine job of looking cute while begging for soda crackers. Since he is a wether ( castrated male sheep ) he was penned up with two ewes ( female sheep ) in my exhibit. We have been getting Blitzen used to a halter and handling so I will have a hands-on and tame sheep for public displays.
 Two of my sisters and their husbands visited me at the fair, but I only had my camera handy for my sister Karen and her husband Kaare , shown above.. ( Thank-you Tom & JoAnn for visiting us too ! )
 My husband was tending things at home and going to work while I was away for so many days but he was able to help out on the last day, Tuesday, after hauling our travel trailer ( home away from home at the fair ) back to Cedar Pond. Here he is with our grandson , ready to greet the public and answer any questions regarding Jacob Sheep.
 Cedar Pond's Tovah (rt.) and her ewe lamb Tauriel shared the pen with Blitzen.
I had a good time at the fair, so did our grandson , but the days of preparation for the fair were also consumed with constant watering of our gardens and livestock, canning a bumper crop of grapes late into the nights preceding the fair, and simple home tasks . We returned home from the last day of the fair after midnight  to begin  unloading sheep and tending to animals missing my presence. I am only now beginning to feel I've caught up on my lack of sleep and with things around Cedar Pond. I've now begun my list of needful things to be done soon. Blogging is one of them...I've missed my blogging time and my blogging friends. But life is good, my animals and gardens keep me busy, my family fills my heart and time spent with them is a blessing of the best kind. (Photo is of Blitzen )

Monday, September 7, 2015

Bath Time For Goth ( A Jacob Sheep )

 Baaa huh ? Bath ? For me ? I had a bath last year before the State Fair. I don't need another bath...
 .... oh, I guess I'm going to the fair again this year.
 Does this mean I get to eat all the alfalfa hay I desire, snack on soda crackers and apples, and watch thousands of people walk by ? Some of those people are pretty funny looking and a lot of them take my picture.
O.K. then , off to the fair we'll go ! I hope my friends are there. I love the yaks, watusi cattle, zebras and turkeys . Those little donkeys are pretty cute too and they make a loud funny noise. Do you think any of the reindeer will be back ? I loved that little reindeer. ME : " Yes, we'll be off to the fair and most of your friends will be back. Many of my friends will too ! "

Goth got his bath and looks like the black and white sheep he is instead of a brown and beige sheep. If you're in the area please visit us at the Washington State Fair in the Animals Of The World exhibit  from September 11 thru September 15 in Puyallup, WA. Goth will be in my exhibit along with 3 more Jacob Sheep from my flock. We're looking forward to our time there and maybe we'll see you at The Puyallup Fair !

Ummm, how's this for a striking pose ?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

It's A Grape Day For A Birthday~ Thursday in the Garden

 Today is my birthday and what a grape day it was ! Yes, GRAPE . We have so many grapes ripening the birds are hovering overhead and in the bushes waiting to eat the grapes my husband grows and tends, so grapes needed to be picked posthaste. Ripening fruit is no respecter of days and my birthday needed to be spent preserving the harvest. No sacrifice at all, I love to stay home on a rainy day like today and do something useful anyway.
 Some of our gardens are thriving abundantly because of the record breaking high temperatures we had this summer. Our grapes grew especially well. This grape arbor grows the red grapes that make the very best juice. The grapes growing here do have seeds and when I open a jar of canned red grapes I pour the juice through a strainer. I eat the grapes and seeds left in the strainer though. I always did like fruit seeds. I eat the seeds of apples, watermelons , oranges, tangerines... and no, contrary to what all my elders told me, I have no watermelons sprouting in my tummy.
 These grapes make the most beautiful claret colored grape juice. If you've never tasted home canned grape juice you've missed a treat. I have never cared for commercial grape juice and pass it up for water when it is offered. My home canned grape juice is surprisingly delicious and now my preferred juice.Unfortunately I only can a limited supply and share it with friends and family on special occasions leaving no extra for sipping whenever I want some good juice. Maybe this makes it even more deliciously special knowing it is a scarce commodity for us.
 This grape arbor over benches grows green seedless grapes. They are very sweet and abundant. My husband once made wine from these grapes and the wine tasted and bubbled like champagne, oh so delicious , but very labor intensive. I made canned grape juice from them this year. Everyone in the family can drink this and they love it.
 The birds were beginning to gather round and launch an all-out feast on these delectable little grapes this week so we picked almost all of them. I have canned 21 quarts of the green grapes. The grapes, after the juice is strained out, will be wonderful in fruit salads or home made fruit cocktail.
I spent today , my birthday, canning grapes. 21 quarts canned and most likely 21 more quarts to can and put away in the pantry. I think we'll do fine for grape juice in the next year. The grape juice is usually ready to drink around Christmas and is so pretty in our Christmas goblets.

While the canner was bubbling away for the required 20 minutes processing I took time to sip a cup of coffee loaded with real cream and read the newest edition of Cottage Journal my favorite magazine. Today was a grape day , a happy day , a rainy day ( YAY ! ). Knowing the fruit of our labor is literally growing in our gardens and after many hours of intensive work produces a beverage that beats the taste of store-bought grape juice makes it even more a GRAPE day . Have a grape day today my friends. Take time to enjoy your gardens and the fruit of your labor. If you're abundantly blessed you're even able to sip a bit of that hard work done in love.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Random Happenings Around Cedar Pond

 It's that time of year I spend a lot of time watching and evaluating my Jacob sheep. This is Gudrid. Her four horns are a bit wonky but I like them, and I like her. I also like her fleece. I have a new ram and am hoping Cedar Pond's Gudrid and  Puddleduck Jonas will produce some amazing lambs for me. I am excited about spring 2016 lambs already.
 My husband was painting the second story of our house front, directly over the skylights in the sunroom. The cats were fascinated and watched him the whole time he was up there.
 Blizzard ...
 ... and Miss Marple.
 I finished my chicken embroidery on a piece of linen. I am still not sure what I am going to do with it. Add words ? Make a pillow or tea cozy with it ? Put it away in a drawer and forget about it ?

I carry a small bag of embroidery projects with embroidery floss, scissors and extra needles for those times I find myself waiting somewhere away from home. The doctor's office, the auto shop, or while visiting people. If I have some stitchery to do it keeps my hands busy and my mind free to concentrate on conversation or prayer. 
We now know why our fountain is losing water more rapidly than it should. Just glad Ella and Fella can't actually get into the fountain to splash and swim ! ( You know that is what they're contemplating.)
We finally got some rain this past weekend, along with a windstorm that knocked out our power and kept us without electricity over night. We survived , but many in our area sustained a lot of damage to their homes and the winds whooshed their way over the mountains to eastern Washington without much rain fanning the flames and spreading the already devastating wildfires there.
September is here and I am so happy about this. It has been a very hot , dry, and busy summer , but my favorite season is almost here and along with September cooler weather has come. Yay !!!!