THE PHOTO IS OF OUR NEW CABIN, CONSTRUCTED IN SEPTEMBER OF 2015. IT SITS IN THE SIDE YARD OF OUR COUNTRY HOME, BUILT IN 1919. WE LIVE JUST A STONE'S THROW FROM THE QUAINT TOWN OF LIBERTY, OHIO AND ARE BLESSED WITH A BIG RED BARN WHICH IS A SAFE HAVEN FOR OUR RESCUED CATS. COUNTRY LIVING SUITS US WELL. NEIGHBORS WAVE AS THEY PASS AND WE CAN SIT ON THE PORCH IN OUR ROCKING CHAIRS AND WATCH TRACTORS, PLOWS, AND COMBINES ON THE ROADS AND IN THE FIELDS AT PLANTING AND HARVEST TIMES. THIS IS TRULY OUR HOME SWEET HOME.




Saturday, June 25, 2016

THINGS I WISH I KNEW

Today I traveled to West Milton, Ohio to pick up a sign I had commissioned Nancy, from The Black Crow Creations, to make. As I walked past the shops in the quaint town, I pondered the week's events and attempted to push the "cobwebs" from my mind. That's my term for those thoughts that do little besides clog my thinking and block my creativity. I wish I knew how to stop the mind-clogging from happening, but the walk was good, the weather was sunny and warm, and I succeeded in clearing my mind.

This week has been a rather sad one. Yesterday I learned the former owner of this, my old country home, had died. She loved this home and lived here for 62 years, but it had become more than she could handle. When my spouse and I met her after we had signed the contract to purchase this house, we instantly became friends. She said she was happy and relieved that someone who loved the house was going to be living here and caring for it. I wish I knew why we sometimes have to leave the things we love.

To add to the week's sadness, one of my long-time friendships seems to now be in question. For over 15 years, my friend and I ignored the "elephant in the room", when it came to politics. We couldn't be further apart in our choices, beliefs, or opinions in that realm. Since we otherwise have much in common, we simply steered from that topic when we visited. We felt we were kindred spirits in many other ways, so we told ourselves we would "agree to disagree". At some point this week, that stopped working. I wish I knew how to be true to myself and my belief system, without jeopardizing a friendship.

The AMERICA sign was painted by Nancy, at Black Crow Creations.
It's exactly what I wanted for that space. This is the back of my cabin.      

 This is one side of my cabin. I found the shutters, window, and chair at a vintage show in
Circleville, Ohio a few weeks ago. The setting will be complete as soon as I find my watering can.      

Saturday, May 21, 2016

IT'S LAID AROUND AND STAYED AROUND THIS OL' HOUSE TOO LONG

My reference is to an old song I often heard back in the 50's. The words actually are "I've laid around and stayed around this old town too long". I don't recall who sang the song, but that aside, what is it that has laid around and stayed around here? Too much STUFF.

I had the bright idea to hold a yard sale this weekend. An opportunity was offered to be part of our "Community Garage Sale Days" so I gladly signed up for it and looked forward to clearing out some things in the barn that had indeed stayed around here too long. They had stayed around our former home too long as well. Despite our vows to not do it, and against our better judgment, we moved all those things here. We essentially ran out of time to finish sorting and purging before we moved, so Spouse loaded up the truck and said we'd just store the totes in the barn until we were able to go through them. Right.....and that was over four years ago. With my daughter's encouragement and help, I looked through some of the totes last summer. Since they are not inside the house, the ones that remained untouched were most often out-of-sight-out-of-mind.

At the time I agreed to be part of the community garage sale event, I had about three weeks to get ready for it. That should have been plenty of time, but I hadn't realized I'd be working around all sorts of other things that popped up on my "agenda" during that time frame. I met with my sister twice, went to lunch with a dear friend, had a couple of appointments to keep, entertained company twice, and then there was the weekend of my nursing reunion, which I didn't want to miss. So it was a very busy three weeks. Still, Spouse and I did work to pull out things we no longer use, and in some cases, didn't even remember having. His stashes consisted of camping equipment, a few tools, books and DVDs, while mine were of the craft supply and vintage kitchen collectables variety. All in all, we had enough items to cover two long tables, two short ones, and fill numerous boxes. We thought we did well in pricing them and having them nicely arranged. So....we set up shop.

Friday brought us just a few customers, but Saturday brought us none.....as in, not one. To be sure, it WAS a very rainy and overcast day, so that might have had something to do with it, but mostly I think yard sales in the country simply aren't well attended. We really weren't really concerned about making money, though it would have been nice. We mostly wanted to let go of some things that we had formerly treasured and thought others might now enjoy using. We're not bitter nor upset about having so little business, but once again, I have sworn off holding any kind of yard or barn sale. I regret that I went back on my own word this time. It was a bit frustrating to have prepared for it then had so few people attend. Spouse even put up our craft show canopy and pegged his camping tent so people could see its actual size. Oh well, another lesson learned - I hope. If I ever share about wanting to do another yard sale....someone please smack me!

The positive things that came as a result of this boondoggle were that we will be taking most of these items to a donation center, so we have a little less clutter. I was able to have some quality time in the cabin today, reading my Country Sampler magazine, listening to soothing music, and relaxing. So it wasn't all bad.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 








Friday, May 13, 2016

SISTERS FROM OTHER MOTHERS

Last Saturday was the Riverside White Cross nursing class of 1971 reunion luncheon and I'm so glad I chose to attend. There were 34 of us present, from a class of 61. Some of us hadn't seen each other for 45 years, which is still hard to embrace. From Columbus, I moved to Dayton, Ohio immediately after graduation and only had contact with two of my former classmates through the years, and those encounters were brief. If not for Facebook, and some of our determined classmates, I doubt we would have reconnected at all. We wondered why we hadn't known of the RWC luncheons that had been held through the years, but the reason became clear when we were told Riverside Hospital had lost all of our contact information. Much of it wouldn't have been accurate anyway, due to marriages, moves, and career changes. We had to remember all those records were on paper - no computers back then.   

It was affirming to realize that almost all my former classmates had experienced feelings of insecurity and concerns about passing courses (as I did) while we were in training, but I hadn't known about that until Saturday when we were sharing and catching up on each others' lives. Each of us expressed that she'd thought she was the only one to have felt that way. I also learned that each of us who had gone home for the weekends dreaded Sunday nights when we'd be driven back to the dorm. Then it was back to the work in the hospital, classrooms, and labs. For me, Sunday night also meant donning a lab coat and walking over to the hospital to my assigned floor for the coming week. I needed to look through charts and write down my patients' medication lists. I'd then have to research any and all side effects, adverse reactions, and reasons for administration. I'd be tested during my floor experience that week. Even though it's been many years since those days, I sometimes still think of how my Sunday nights used to be spent and I recall those long study sessions. Medication lists were just the tip of the iceberg . . .

What was so uplifting about the reunion was the fact we still felt a sincere kinship to each other as we recalled our days in nursing school and were reminded of which instructors were kind and which were not. We had lived in a very strict environment - 10pm curfews, every student locked in her dorm at night, permission needed if we decided to marry before graduation, no cooking or storing food in the dorms, no hot plates, microwaves, nor refrigerators in the dorm, and many more rules than I can presently name. Those of us who shared our memories also shared that what we experienced was intense and difficult, but then, we didn't expect it would be easy. 

After all the stories were told and we were ready to part ways again, one of our classmates said, "You know, even though it was hard, when we graduated, I felt prepared", and we agreed. It WAS hard, but we did feel as if we were prepared to be Registered Nurses.
 The student nurses dorm is on the bottom left of this photo.
This is how Riverside Methodist Hospital looked in 1971.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

THE SISTERHOOD

On Tuesday, I was blessed to be able to meet one of my sisters for lunch and a nice visit. Since we live two hours from each other, we met half-way at a Bob Evans restaurant and had such a good time. After our meal, we treated ourselves to some Blueberry Bread and Cinnamon Bread to take home. The restaurant is located just 11 miles from Washington Court House, Ohio so after lunch we drove there to visit North Shore Primitives - a huge shop in a building dating back to the 1800's. It was formerly known as The Storage House and the owner shared that it had previously been used to store flour, grains, and other items in large quantities for the businesses in the area. 

Sis and I browsed for quite some time, talking and laughing, while we looked at all the wonderfully arranged items, the Spring touches, and the decorated areas - some of which were set up like actual rooms in a primitive home. One of our favorites was the tavern room that had a primitive wooden bar with stools, antique advertising signs, and some old tobacco tins, along with authentic tobacco plants, dried and hanging on sticks. Those reminded us of our Kentucky grandma's barn. Our family would visit her during the summer months and we often saw tobacco plants hanging over sticks attached to the rustic beams in the barn.  

After exploring at all the nooks and crannies in the shop, we made some selections and went to the check out area. We wished we could have stayed longer, but closing time was near and both of us felt the need to head home. I love the old wooden dough bowl I found and each of us bought a tobacco tin. Mine now resides in my cabin and I think I'll stick a little primitive bear in it. I didn't need a dough bowl nor a tobacco tin, but when I look at them and use them, I'll remember the wonderful visit my sister and I had that day. Sis is getting ready to move eight hours away, so we vowed to get together more often before she's relocated. We also hope our youngest sister will join us next time.

As we get older, we are reminded, almost daily, of how precious time is and how quickly it seems to be passing. We want to make the most of what we have left and spending time with family and friends seems the right thing to do. Enjoy your days!   































Thursday, April 28, 2016

MEMORIES OF GOOD OL' BEN

There was a conversation on Facebook the other day about the loss of Ben Franklin stores. I chimed in that I knew of only one remaining near my home, and that it was located in Arcanum, Ohio. I'd happened upon it last year, after attending an antique and primitives show not far from there. During the show, I'd asked a vendor if there were any shops nearby that might be worth my time to visit. She directed me to the Ben Franklin in Arcanum and I could barely wait to get there.

The store did not disappoint. I walked through the door and was immediately taken back to my early years of marriage when I was just beginning to sew and make things to sell. At that time, the closest Ben Franklin was in the downtown area of Miamisburg, Ohio and just 20 minutes from my home. It retained the original wood floors and wood display bins and held the sweet aroma of times past. I was devastated when the store was destroyed by fire and relieved when it was rebuilt, but the wood floors and display bins were replaced with ultra-modern updated versions. They were nice, but didn't have that old-time feel that I'd loved. Still, the store was a great place to find patterns, craft books, yarn, notions, fabric, and many other things a crafter might desire - as well as the usual toys and household goods. I don't think I ever shopped in that store without seeing someone I knew, so it was a gathering place for crafters too. The store changed ownership a few times and eventually closed, much to my chagrin. The building now houses an Ace Hardware store, but I still miss the Ben Franklin.  

After reading the thoughts of others regarding Ben Franklin stores, I decided to go to Arcanum today and visit the store I'd found last year. When I arrived, the owner greeted me and we exchanged pleasantries throughout the time I shopped. There were other customers in the store as well, and all were smiling and friendly. There's something about shopping in an old fashioned atmosphere that I find fun and relaxing. I browsed each aisle, wondering if I "needed" this or that, and checked over the rows of fabric, the button bin, and the many crafting instruction booklets. I bought one yard of Osnaburg fabric and felt good that I hadn't indulged in more. I already have more fabric than I'll probably ever use but it's still exciting to look at new prints and color selections. For some reason, Ben Franklin was having a big sale on live plants, so I bought a huge hanging basket containing the largest fern I've ever seen. The price was good and I knew exactly where I wanted to place it when I took it home. I found a few other things, paid for them, and left feeling as if I'd stepped back in time for awhile. I hope that Ben Franklin store is open and thriving for years to come.
 
 


Sunday, April 10, 2016

IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME

Yesterday I took a walk back in time, to my student nursing days at Riverside-White Cross Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. I'd recently been contacted by a former classmate who was gathering data and searching for former students in order to organize a gathering for the 45th (I can't believe it either) anniversary of graduation from nursing school. She emailed a list of those people she'd found and the summations of their lives after graduation. I read every classmate's summation and then had a good cry. Why cry? Because we were so young, straight out of high school, and had high hopes and pie-in-the-sky dreams for how we were going to help people and change the world - at least in our little corners of it, but we'd gone separate ways. Many of my classmates had lost their husbands. Some had changed professions or retired from nursing. Many had interrupted their careers to raise children, and quite a few had achieved advanced degrees and were still working but hoping to soon retire.    

We all have hopes and dreams, but then reality hits us square in the face and though some dreams are realized, many are not. I don't consider unfulfilled dreams as life failures, but rather interventions of realities like marriage, children, illnesses, crises, and family losses along the way. Many of those things cannot be avoided, but some are due to decisions we make ourselves. I wondered how my life might have been different had I been able to take an R.N. position at Riverside after graduation, as many of my classmates had. That's where I'd wanted to work, but Spouse had lived and worked in Dayton, Ohio, so after we married (just prior to my graduation) and after his Army days were over, he whisked me away from what I knew, to the place he knew. It was the way things were done back then. Women followed their husbands. Still, I do wonder how different life might have been had I lived and worked in the town where I was raised and where my family continued to reside. I would have been at a familiar hospital among people I'd known since my days as a Candy Striper.  

At the end of the classmates' summations was the list of those we had lost to death. I'm not sure why that stunned me, but it did. I know death is as much a part of life as birth, yet these were girls I'd lived with for years. We were dorm neighbors and friends. We had worked together, studied together, taken tests together, eaten meals together, laughed together, and cried together. We had supported each other when boyfriends had been sent to Viet Nam, or family members had passed, or when we were just sure we had failed important exams. During our years in nursing school, we had tragically lost two classmates - one had taken her own life there in the dorm, and the other had died in a sledding accident over Christmas break in our junior year. Those losses were jarring to all of us, but even after all these years, learning about further losses had stung. One friend had passed just a few years after graduation. I couldn't comprehend that she had done all that studying, spent all those hours working on the patient floors, worried and fretted about getting through....only to live such a short time afterward. It was more than I could process yesterday and I had a bit of a meltdown.

Today is better, and I know I can't go back or change anything from the past. I'm grateful for the time spent with those girls - now grown women - though at times I wished I had been anywhere but there in the dorms. As students, we often mused about being married, living in cozy little houses, cooking, cleaning, and washing dishes. We thought that would surely make us happier than being in a dorm or working in the hospital or studying until the wee hours. How naïve could we have been?

These are some graduation photos from one of our yearbook pages. I'm the first one on the left in the second row. How young we were.  I wonder why nurses don't wear caps anymore? We earned those!
     


 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

SPRING IS COMING - I THINK

One wouldn't know it was April here in Southwest, Ohio. Yesterday was beyond blustery. It was more like a winter day than some of the January days we had this year. The wind howled and blew things off the porch, out of the window boxes, and off the roof. The outdoor cat enclosure was not a safe haven for my furry ones so I scooped them up and insisted they go inside to safety. That was one time they didn't protest. Their play boxes had blown up against the door, making it hard to get inside the enclosure, but I needed to reach them so I found a way. Once inside the cat rooms in the barn, I turned on the heaters and made sure all cats had food, fresh water, and clean litter boxes. They didn't seem especially fearful of the banging going on outside though. In fact, some sat on the bench beneath the window, watching snowflakes fall and debris tumble. When I came back inside the house, I felt grateful for a sturdy home, a warm cozy fireplace, and a safe place for the cats to reside. Today has been much milder - the sun is shining and the wind has been less ferocious. The temperature has not risen much though, so I didn't let the cats go out into their enclosure, but will hope they can enjoy it later this week. 

I've been contemplating holding a Spring yard sale this month, but as usual, I'm hesitant to set a date for it. My hesitancy is not because I fear letting go of some things, but rather that I know how much work will be involved in sorting, pricing, and displaying the items I no longer need or want. There is also the "advertising" of the sale. Many things I've happily collected over the years now seem more of a burden then a joy, so it's time to let them go to someone else who might enjoy them. Last summer when I looked through stored totes, I re-discovered things I hadn't even remembered having, let alone storing. I labeled the totes which held items I could easily let go of, so that will be a help if I ever get the nerve to set a sale date.  

Some of the things I found were old Jello molds, vintage muffin tins, rolling pins, wooden spools and buttons, vintage sewing notions, crafting patterns, and more crafting supplies than I will ever use. I know I once had good intentions of making all sorts of items to sell, but that time has passed and now those supplies are taking up space, while someone might actually be using them and loving them as much as I once did. I will keep some of the old buttons and spools but I have more tins and patterns than I need - or ever really needed.





 

I'm sure I'll find more things to add to the list of sale items, and when I finally clean out my closets, I'll re-discover those as well. I've also decided to let go of a portion of my Pyrex collection. It was eclectic at best, since I didn't really set out to collect any certain color or style. When I'd happen upon a nice Pyrex bowl, and it was within my price range, I'd buy it then bring it home and display it with the others on my vintage pantry shelves. I'll keep those I use most often but let the others go. I also have some darling cat cookie jars that need new homes. Those have been just for display and I've never used them. As much as I like them, they need to go as well. It seems I've been able to fill up this old house pretty easily, but it's time to start downsizing - for real this time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

DECISIONS, DECISIONS



It took longer than expected to work in the cabin putting away Christmas decorations and handcrafted items. I loved having them displayed, but it's time to think about Spring. I'd left the cabin looking like Christmas because I had friends who were interested in seeing it while it was still decorated for the holidays.....but I'd been bitten with some kind of nasty "bug" and was out of commission the whole month of January. It's probably the only time I didn't stress about not getting something done. I loved how my cabin looked all decked out for Christmas and wasn't in a hurry to change it. But ...with Spring arriving, I've done a little redecorating. I ordered a chair and ottoman which were delivered two weeks ago. What a dilemma it was though. Did I want a small loveseat or a recliner? Did I want a comfy chair or no soft seating at all? My main concern was how a chair or loveseat would fit inside the cabin. My spouse continues to insist the interior cabin space is exactly the same as I had in my other cabin, while I believe this cabin is a bit smaller. I do have a nice front porch on this one, so I'm not complaining - just stating what I feel to be factual. I have a door and two windows on one long side of the cabin, and one window on a short side, which is different from the other cabin. That one had two long walls, free of doors or windows. I'm having a difficult time arranging my tables and other furnishings to make eye-pleasing displays. I don't know why these decisions are hard for me to make. Maybe I need to stop thinking about how the "other cabin" was constructed, and simply arrange my displays to fit THIS one. 
After weeks of searching online, and in person at many furniture stores, I finally made my selection of a Queen Anne - type chair with matching ottoman. The set fits perfectly into one corner and looks nice as well. Hubby and I pulled out a large table and placed it on the opposite wall, but that didn't look right to me. So we moved it back to its original location. Then we moved the church pew to the other side of the room. I wasn't sure I wanted it there, but I'm leaving it where it is for now. What I've realized is that I bought some things for this cabin - things I found at antique malls or outdoor antique markets - before I stopped to think about how they would actually FIT into this cabin. I was so excited to finally be able to have a cabin again, that I was carried away with the idea of a new adventure. So now I have to make do with what I have and not add anything else in the way of furniture. I'm literally running out of room!
I want my cabin to be a cozy place to relax and display handcrafted items when I host home shows, but not so cluttered that it's not a fun place to be. I still have some things I want to do out there, but I think it's taking shape. I'm telling myself I can always change it if it's not working well for me.  

                      

     



Sunday, February 21, 2016

A CABIN BY ANY OTHER NAME......

It's "official"! My cabin is now known as - LIBERTY HOMESTEAD. A couple weeks ago, I visited the Black Crow Creations primitive shop in West Milton, Ohio. I talked to the owner, Nancy, who stencils wonderful signs. I asked if she took orders, and when she said she did, I asked her to make a sign for my cabin. 
 
Nancy called on Thursday to let me know the sign was ready, so I picked it up Friday and my spouse attached it to the front of the cabin today. Things do seem to be falling into place with the cabin. I have a wingback chair on order so I'll have a place to sit and read or listen to music when I'm in the cabin. The chair should be delivered early this week. If I'm not careful, though, I'll have more things in the cabin than the little space can comfortably hold.
 
My spouse helped me move the church pew to the other side of the room in order to make way for the new chair and I have some ideas about how I'd like to re-arrange crates and tables to use for displays. I'll work on those things this week since Ohio's weather seems to be milder and I can comfortably work out there now. It's time to start thinking SPRING!

     

Sunday, February 14, 2016

WILL YOU BE MY VALENTINE?


 
I hope everyone is enjoying a quiet, restful Valentine's Day, surrounded by people and things you love. We're tucked inside this old house at Liberty Homestead with a fire going and hot mugs of cocoa and tea to keep us warm. I'm only venturing outside on this blustery winter day to take care of the cats. They're staying cozy inside their rooms in the barn and I have one more round of cat care to finish off the day. It's begun to snow again and though it's beautiful, I think I'd rather be inside looking at it from my family room window.   
 
For many moons, my spouse completely disregarded Valentine's Day, though I made efforts to provide him with romantic cards, his favorite chocolates, and flowers sent to his workplace from time to time. I even cooked special dinners and served them by candle light, but he never seemed to pick up on the fact that a bit of reciprocation might have been nice. After years of doing this, I finally decided to stop trying to make Valentine's Day something it was not. It simply wasn't special to him, and that sometimes caused me to feel as if I wasn't special to him. Oh yes, we talked about it, but he still never made any effort to celebrate the day, so I stopped mentioning it altogether.    
 
It took a lot of time and many disappointments, but I finally embraced the fact that he was not going to bring home flowers or romantic cards, or anything else for that matter. One day it occurred to me that I didn't have to be sad on Valentine's Day. My spouse did do things through the year that showed me he cared, and most recently, he finished the inside of my cabin, which was no small task. Still, I had longed for something - just a small token - and for him to acknowledge Valentine's Day. Instead of waiting for him to choose something, which apparently wasn't going to happen, I started doing a little of my own shopping - nothing extravagant, mind you - just a little something for my kitchen, or maybe a vintage cat planter, or a small stack of quarter-cut red print fabrics. I'm thrifty at heart, but buying something for myself lifted my spirit and allowed me to experience this day in time without resentment or disappointment.  
 
So . . . I became comfortable with Valentine's Day being "just another day" and I certainly didn't expect anything today, but guess what happened? My spouse bought me a darling card with a kitten and a heart on it, and chose three fragrant candles, which smell delicious. He left them here in front of the computer where he knew I'd find them. After all these years of marriage, I still can't predict what he will do. I appreciate the card and candles and feel happy to have received a real Valentine's gift today. More importantly, I feel happy to have his love every day, even if it's not always verbally expressed. 
 
Have a wonderful day and if your Valentine didn't do something special for you, do something special for yourself. Enjoy your day!   

Sunday, February 7, 2016

MY LITTLE BUDDY

Glenn came out to the cat rooms in the barn last night to see why it was taking me so long to finish the nightly cat care. I didn't realize I'd been out there any longer than usual. I was cuddling cats and giving piggy back rides. Yes, I have cats who love to jump on my back as I make the rounds from feeding bowl to feeding bowl and litter box to litter box. My little crooked cat, Buddy, was especially needy last night for some reason, but I hold and cuddle every cat that will allow it. I think it's good for the cats, and good for me as well.
 
 
The cat in the photo below the text is Buddy. He came to me three years ago from the corn field beside our barn, where I assume he had been abandoned. I had just finished caring for the cats and was about to go back inside the house when I heard chilling cries and turned to see this little tiger cat stumbling toward me as fast as he could run. He would run a few steps and fall, get up and run a few more steps, then fall again - plaintively crying all the while. I had no idea what was wrong with him, but he was definitely begging for my help. When I scooped him up in my arms and examined him, I found no visible wounds nor broken bones, but there was definitely something terribly wrong. I placed him in a clean cage in the barn, but outside the main cat room. I provided him with a blanket, food, water, and litter box. Once inside the house, I emailed my vet and a member of her office staff called the next morning to tell me I could take him in first thing. The poor little guy had a raging inner ear infection, thus the unsteady gait. I was relieved it was something treatable. After two weeks of intense antibiotic therapy, neutering, and vaccinations, he was much better but he now has a permanent head-tilt from favoring the side with the infection. I wonder to this day how long his infection was ignored. It's most likely a chronic problem and will always need to be watched, so adoption is out of the question (in my mind, anyway). He's here for the rest of his life and he shows me every day how grateful he is for having been rescued. He's definitely my little buddy.
Karen Schultz Danner's photo.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A NEW YEAR - A NEW BEGINNING

So much has happened in the last year that I hardly know where to begin. Perhaps I'll start with something near and dear to my heart - my new cabin. Four years ago, when we moved to this house in the country, we left my backyard cabin behind for the new owners of our former home. I had agreed with that since I thought the cabin my spouse had constructed would be a nice selling feature for the property, also, the prospect of moving the cabin was a daunting one. My spouse promised a new cabin and assured it would be bigger and better than the last one.

Promises are fine, and those who make them are basically well-intentioned, but after living here nearly four years, I began to question if I was ever going to have that new cabin. I approached the issue gingerly, since I knew my newly retired spouse had many other projects in the works, and.....I sensed that he really didn't want to take on such a big project, though he wouldn't admit it. It had been over ten years since he'd built the last one, so I could understand that. Neither of us was getting any younger. Still, I longed for a space to call my own. 

After a few unsuccessful attempts to open a "cabin dialog", I made one last effort and to my great surprise, my spouse suggested we go look at a building that could be constructed on our property, and whose interior he could finish in his own time. So we did that, and though my new cabin is basically the same size as the last one, minus the loft, it is a place I love. It has become my very own small version of a mercantile shop. It sits in the side yard, which makes it very handy to view the house and see what the cats are doing in their outdoor enclosure. There is also easy access to the driveway. 

My spouse did a wonderful job of finishing the interior, and just before Christmas of 2015, I began arranging old farm tables, vintage crates, and other display items out there. I'm sure I'll continue to tweak the settings, but I'm very happy with the results. In fact, it's still Christmas in my cabin. Come take a peek . . .






 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SPRING AT LIBERTY HOMESTEAD - THIS IS MY 1000th POST

I'm still in a quandary over whether to host a Spring home show or not. If I'm going to do it, I'd surely better set a date and get busy making things. I've taken a big break from sewing because Christmas, as much as I enjoyed it, took the wind out of my sails. Recently, I've only sewn catnip toys to sell at the Vet Clinic, so I have very few items made to offer for sale at a show.  I'm inclined to not  host a Spring show this year, but rather concentrate on making items for Fall and Christmas home shows.

In the meantime, I retrieved my Spring decorations and displayed them here in the room where my home shows are held - the room I lovingly refer to as my "shop".  I suppose I thought that would give me some inspiration and spark my desire to create, but it didn't. I like decorating and I like hosting home shows but right now I'm just not in a sewing mood. There are times when we must follow our hearts and this may be one of those times for me.

Since my spouse retired, I've not been able to maintain housework routines but I've found I rather enjoy setting a relaxed and cozy mood in the evenings and viewing a movie or our DVDs of Downton Abbey. Perhaps I've become accustomed to the lack of routines, but I've not been in much of a productive mode lately. Right now it's more fun to light some candles, brew some tea, fire up the Buck stove, and settle into a relaxing evening.  There's nothing at all wrong with that. In fact, there is a lot right about it. Spouse and I have reconnected in a way, and we have more conversation now, which is good. I'll eventually want to sew again and I have many ideas for projects. Apparently this is just not the time for starting them. When Spring finally arrives, I'm fairly sure I'll be ready to get going again.     

I've added photos of my Spring decorations to my sidebar. Watch for a give-away to commemorate my 1000th post. I've had some lapses between postings, but I think I'm ready to resume sharing my cats and my stories. I hope you'll bear with me.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

THE PLEASER

Today I was driving to an antique mall in Eaton, Ohio, and passed a house that was decorated with Christmas wreaths and red bows - though it's almost March - and the tall pine tree in the front yard was still adorned with colorful ornaments. Seeing those decorations triggered some memories for me. I don't know why that happened, but I thought I'd share them and perhaps let other "people pleasers" know they are not alone.

Long ago, I embraced the fact I'd been "blessed" (or cursed) with the pleaser gene. I do indeed like to help others, but I don't like to be taken for granted. For most of my life, I've had a difficult time finding a comfortable balance between the two. Today, my memory was jogged into focusing on a former church friend whose misfortune it was to lose her family's farmhouse in a fire, set by someone who rented a room from her. My friend, Ann, had grown up in that house and was devastated at the loss of not only her childhood home, but also a cherished elderly dog. The morning of the fire, I received a call from our church pastor who told me the sad news and asked if I'd meet him at Ann's farm and give her some needed support. I gladly did as he asked and that began a very long and sometimes intense, friendship with Ann, who I'd previously known only casually from church. 

When I arrived at the farm, I was saddened to see such destruction and I hugged Ann and cried with her. I'd visited her and cared for her animals from time to time and to see her home in ashes was unbearable. I was more than happy to lend a hand in any way I could. Ann was a single woman, never married, with no children and no close relatives. Her parents had died many years prior, and she had retired from teaching. Her animals were her world. 

After many people had stopped to ask if they might help, and her insurance agent had paid a visit, I took Ann to a number of places she requested to go, and then to my house for some needed rest and a meal. She stayed with my spouse and me for a couple days and we did what we could to help her through the trauma. She had lost nearly all her clothes, keepsakes, and home furnishings,  but we were all thankful the fire had not spread to her barns. Her horses, other dogs, rabbits, and cats were safe. 

Ann eventually rebuilt and began to restart her life. The church and its members did a lot to help her and she seemed to rely on all of us more and more, to the extent it became difficult to meet all her needs or fulfill all her desires. The church pastor was offering Ann counseling, but he was also becoming weary of how much Ann "needed".  She began to expect us to donate anything she asked for and actually expected some of the men in the congregation to paint her barns and mend her fences for her - on their own time and free of charge. I will add, neither her barns nor her fences had been damaged by the fire. She simply wanted those things "spruced up", and apparently thought people should be willing to continue to help.

During this time, my spouse and I did feel empathy toward Ann. We knew she had no immediate family to offer her emotional support, so we took her under wing and provided what we could. Ann often reminded us that she had no family to acknowledge her birthday, Christmas, or Easter and she told me numerous times about how sad it was to wake up on Christmas morning and find no gifts under her tree. Now here is where the memories came flooding back to me today - we decided (or I decided and Spouse went along with it) to be Ann's Santa Clause, Easter Bunny, and Birthday Fairy. Every year. for longer than I can actually recall, we made sure Ann was remembered with gifts and cards on those special days. Every Christmas Eve, immediately after the early evening church service, Spouse and I would make a "Santa run" to Ann's house, and deposit a big shopping bag filled with gifts and home-baked goods, plus some special treats and toys for the dogs. We knew she would be headed to church for the midnight service, so we were fairly sure we'd not be discovered. At first, it was fun to look for special items throughout the year, then wrap them and pile them in the shopping bag for delivery on Christmas Eve, but one year, Ann ruined it for me. She didn't realize that she did, but nevertheless, it was just not a joy anymore after what I considered a very unkind and ungracious comment.

One year, and one year only, I was not able to get Ann's gifts delivered on Christmas Eve. My family and I had planned a huge surprise for my mother's 75th birthday (which falls on Christmas) and we needed to gather with out-of-town relatives. I had the brunt of the planning to do, so I delivered Ann's gifts a few days later and she was not happy. She let me know how disappointed she was that her gifts were not at her door on Christmas Eve and she never let me forget it. Ann was always outspoken and often fairly blunt, but what she said to me was very hurtful.  I know what I should have said, but what I actually did was apologize and explain over and over about the responsibilities I had for my mother's birthday celebration, but all that fell on deaf ears. I realize now that I wasn't under any obligation to apologize nor explain, but that's how a pleaser's mind works. If someone is not happy, the pleaser absorbs the guilt.  

That whole situation was a wake-up call for me, but apparently I didn't learn my lesson well, because I continued to provide Christmas Eve Santa runs to Ann for years afterward - until we moved to this house. I hadn't known how to let go of the self-imposed responsibility without hurting Ann's feelings, or worse, disappointing her again, or incurring her anger. Yet, I mustered some courage and sent her a Christmas card three years ago, explaining that we had retired and felt it necessary to trim our gift-giving budget. I expressed that, as much as we'd enjoyed it through the years, we'd no longer be doing Santa runs on Christmas Eve. To my relief, Ann didn't tell me how terribly disappointed she was, in fact, she said nothing. Perhaps it's best that our friendship (if it could actually be called that) has waned. I could tell many stories of helping Ann with her animals through the years - from helping deliver a colt in a dark muddy field at midnight one stormy evening, to helping get 12 rambunctious Airdale puppies to the vet to be vaccinated, to doing round-the-clock feedings for newborn kittens whose mothers abandoned them, to taking care of Ann's horses, dogs, cats, and rabbits when she was away, to receiving calls from her at all hours of the day or night, pleading with me to come and save kittens, that she let go too long until they could not be saved.  I often bottle-fed the abandoned kittens because Ann preferred to sleep until noon instead of caring for them . . . and of course, knowing how much I cared for cats, she counted on me being there for them - and I was. Lest anyone think I'm complaining, I do accept full responsibility for allowing myself to be taken advantage of and yes, I finally did stop going to the farm. Ann would not, after all my years of pleading, urging, and offering to pay for it myself, have her cats spayed and neutered. So I knew there would be more and more kittens, she'd want more of my time, and more kittens would be lost. It became too emotionally painful to be there.

So there's my story . . . long and boring for some, but maybe a bit enlightening for others. Any of you who are pleasers like myself, please know you absolutely can extricate yourself from oppressive situations, but it takes courage and resolve. Love yourself enough to do what you need to for your own mental health and well-being. These days I call it self-preservation, and there is no guilt nor shame in looking out for oneself. I finally learned that lesson, though I'll freely admit, Ann was not the last person I allowed to take advantage of my "good nature", as my spouse and daughter have often said. I hope all of you find balance in your lives. Balance is a good thing and I continue to strive for it.     

Saturday, February 14, 2015

HAPPY HEARTS DAY!

It's cold and snowy here in southwest Ohio and while my plans for shop-hopping are now on hold, it's a good day for staying inside and baking. I have dough in the refrigerator waiting to be rolled and cut into Valentine cookies. A short time ago, I took peanut butter cookies out of the oven, and I'll be baking Cream Cheese Blueberry Pound Cake later this afternoon. I hope everything will turn out well so I can delivery some homemade goodies to the neighbors this Valentine's Day.

Hubby and I went to the Olive Garden restaurant for lunch yesterday and that will serve as our Valentine celebration. Dining out was truly more than I expected. For more years than I care to remember, I was disappointed on Valentine's Day. I'm finally admitting it and I've recently learned I'm not alone. Each time February 14th would roll around, I'd anxiously await Hubby's arrival from work. If he was later than usual, I would assume (wrongly) he'd stopped to shop for a card or a bouquet of flowers - Heaven forbid I ever receive a box of chocolates, though I bought him many boxes of his favorite, Esther Price, through the years.  I don't know how many times I actually mentioned that a local Kroger grocery store and even the Walmart store, carry nice bouquets for around $7, so the price shouldn't have been the problem. By this time in our married life, he surely knows I'm not difficult to please. No, the problem is that my spouse, though he can be kind in other ways, simply refuses to observe Valentine's Day. I honestly don't know why, but it's true.  I've asked him about it but never actually received an answer. I used to bake him a heart-shaped cake or cookies, prepare a candlelit dinner, buy a romantic card, and even had flowers sent to his workplace a few times - which I thought were very nice gestures, but he claimed receiving flowers at work was embarrassing. Really? He did say some of the other men in the office were envious, yet my guy is just embarrassed. One thing my dear spouse can do well, is rain on my parade. Again, I know I'm not alone there. 

So, after many disappointing Valentine's Days, I finally stopped observing it too. It wasn't what I wanted to do, because I love hearts, flowers, and expressions of love, but for too many years, I'd been fighting a losing battle and I was weary of being disappointed. Since I wanted to celebrate the day of love and he didn't, I began to do a little shopping for myself.  I'm not sure why I didn't "wise up" sooner. I'd visit a favorite primitive shop or an antique mall, and enjoy browsing through all the treasures. It's one of the few times I'd indulge in the pleasure of purchasing something I wouldn't ordinarily buy for myself.  While I never bought anything extravagant or expensive, I did often find some little thing that turned my head and made me feel happy. 

These days, I'm no longer disappointed when no flowers, candy, nor cards show up on Valentine's Day. I've finally embraced the fact they're never going to appear - at least not from my spouse. That's why I was hoping to do a little primitive shopping today, especially since most of the shops in this area are participating in a "shop hop".  As my luck would have it, today is not a good day to be out on the roads, but I've learned to "regroup". I'm enjoying the snow and I've been content baking cookies and browsing online. The idea of sharing home-baked goods with others is pleasing to me and if my spouse doesn't quite appreciate them, I know the neighbors will - they've always been very affirming. 

However you choose to celebrate this day, do so with love in your heart. Make your own fun. Share your love with others. That's really what this day is all about anyway. HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!         

Friday, January 23, 2015

SMALL TREASURES

After finally getting my holiday decorations safely stored in the Christmas closet, I decided to reward myself for the effort I'd expended. One of my favorite things to do is browse thrift shops and though I truly needed nothing, I spent time yesterday wandering the many aisles of the Antique Mall close to me and then took a walk through the thrift shop across the road from the Mall. I hadn't thought to take along my phone or watch so I wasn't paying attention to the time. I was probably there for a few hours and I must have walked miles! No doubt, I needed the exercise, but every aisle held all sorts of treasures - most of which stayed at the shop. The ones I couldn't resist came home with me.  Recently I'd begun to let go of things I wasn't using, so by bringing my small treasures home, I wasn't actually adding to a stockpile. As I will tell my spouse, I was being rather selective in my choices. Much of what I found will be used as display pieces for my next home show. (That's as good an excuse as any, right?) From time to time I remind my spouse of how lucky he is that I'm so very "low maintenance". I can honestly say I'm happier with a few well-chosen treasures from the thrift store or antique mall, than I would be with expensive things from an upscale department store. I love the items I found yesterday and will soon be busy finding just the right spots for them here in my "shop". You can view the photo of my stash on the sidebar to the right. Don't you love that little red chair? I think I have the perfect handmade doll for it, or maybe I'll make another doll. Hmmm, more projects.