March 1, 2018
Here it is March already and I guess the month is coming in like a lion, at least in the mountains. We are currently getting rain and then the high winds are supposed to come. Mike was supposed to deliver a load of hay to Floyd County again today, but it doesn’t appear that the weather is going to cooperate. I’m fine either way. I can find plenty to do whether I am inside or outside and I have never minded the rain. Besides, rainy days give more opportunity for me to write without guilt that I should be doing something else!
We were busy, of course, at the beginning of the week while we were in Staunton. We went back a little early on Sunday, leaving right after church. We went directly to Verona Antiques to our booth there to try to do some work. I can only manage the booth at the Factory Antique Mall because Verona Antiques is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and I have the kids for 14 hours on Monday. Mike doesn’t hesitate to admit that he lacks the skills to really set up the booth and always comes away frustrated that he can’t get everything in or that it doesn’t present itself the way he would like for it to. Part of the problem there is that we only rented half a booth. It was all that was available at the time and it is a long and narrow space with dividers between us and the lady with whom we split the booth. Mike kept asking me to go home early on a Sunday and see what I could do, so we just made it happen. A new vendor, a man from Strasburg, was very helpful in motivating Mike to do things that he would have complained greatly about doing if I had been the one to suggest it. I was most grateful for the man’s help. As Mike stood on a ladder hanging items per the gentleman’s suggestions, I laughed and told him if that had been me asking him to do that he would have told me to go fly a kite or complained bitterly the whole time. He grinned and said, “You’re probably right.” We got a good bit accomplished, but ran out of time as they closed at five and we had to be home to watch the girls so that Alissa could go to the funeral of her best friend’s grandma. Mike went back Monday afternoon for a few hours while I stayed home to watch the girls. The same gentleman, who has a great eye, took Mike under his wing and helped him finish arranging the booth. He also bought a good bit of the new items that Mike brought in to sell for his own booth and he asked Mike if he would be a picker for him. That was pretty exciting because that is the part that Mike really enjoys is the hunt and the thrill of the auction. It sounds promising but we shall see how it pans out. The dealers who are in the shop every day are not able to go out and find the items as readily as we are. We focus on the buying end and finding the deals. These folks focus on the selling end of the business, the artistic display and the repurposing of items to create new products. If we can work with them, they can teach us a lot and we can be a benefit to them in finding vintage items for less.
The little girls were a handful, as usual Monday. Poor Analia. I feel so badly for her. I know that it is a part of life and she is learning to share, learning responsibility, and learning to cope with things that are out of her comfort zone and these things are important and part of growth. We can’t create a perfect world for our children and grandchildren. She went from having me often to herself on the days I didn’t have the twins. I took care of her full time for the first three years of her life and she went everywhere with me. She was the perfect little partner and rarely gave me any trouble at all. The only issues we ever had were really just from the terrible stomach aches that she endured (and still endures although they are more manageable now with probiotic and fiber supplements and a diet full of probiotics, fruits and vegetables). Then Aurora came along and rocked Analia’s world. Rory is high energy, advanced, demanding, vocal, and with a penchant for finding multiple ways to get hurt in one day. She requires constant supervision to keep from harming herself in her adventures. She began walking at seven months of age and now dances in circles, climbs, runs, eats anything she can fit into her mouth whether it is edible or not, and never stops unless she is asleep. Analia has had to learn to share everything and I can’t even seem to make it balanced for her because of how difficult it is to keep Rory from unintentionally harming herself on one of her many adventures and discoveries. The other issue is that Rory is so very loud and Analia has always had sensitivities to loud noises. I wonder if it doesn’t stem from her eyesight being so poor. When she was small, loud noises would make her scream in fear. Even as she got older, the sound of a cow mooing unexpectedly or the milking machine being turned on, a vacuum cleaner, a hair dryer, even a loud sneeze would just terrify her. She has done much better in the last year and I think it is because she sees better now that she has her glasses but the loud and persistent noise really bothers her and Rory is loud, all the time. Analia reacts with a lot of frustration and we have a lot of opportunities to talk about using our words to discuss how we are feeling, walking away to give ourselves and the other person space, sharing with others even when we don’t feel like it, etc. Sometimes I get weary but then I stop to think about how young Analia is and how different her world is from a year ago when everything was tailored to her needs and it makes me have more empathy and patience for the situation. Even taking care of Little People can bring moments of growth for all of us.
I was pretty pleased with myself. After not getting a lot accomplished last week, I started off this week with a bang, first getting some things done at Verona Antiques and then getting some shelves down and small items divided up from the kitchen in Staunton. Alissa and Gab would like to work on the kitchen this summer, putting in new counter tops and painting the cabinets and the walls. I love Alissa’s taste in decorating. She has not really been able to decorate previously having lived in rentals and then being in the midst of two pregnancies and raising to little girls while trying to get her bachelors and master’s degrees. Throughout my life, I have always enjoyed clean lines and easy to care for interior designs but I think a lot of that was out of necessity. I never had the money to decorate and wasn’t a person who could take money away from the budget to buy frivolous things for the house when my children needed to be fed and the bills needed to be paid. After Mike and I married, we had such different ideas. Mike doesn’t like the idea of change and the house was a mix of different patterns and styles from various decades. Thrown into that mix was a house full of furniture that came from a beach house after Mike and his ex-wife divorced and he needed furniture. I would talk to Mike about painting or taking down the wall paper borders from the 80’s and he would panic and give me a dozen reasons why it wasn’t possible at all to do it. Finally, I just started tearing into things when he was gone for 16 hours a day farming. He would come home and find me standing on a chair ripping down wall paper borders and the look on his face would be sheer horror. I would have to listen to him complain and tell me all the reasons why it was a bad idea, but I would just bite my tongue (mostly) and keep on working. When I would paint, he would come in horrified that I had taped everything up and had the floors covered and insist that a good painter didn’t have to do that. Channeling my inner Mark Twain, I would tell him to show me how to do it the right way and he would take over and not want me to touch it again. I would always pick up the brush the next day and get a lot done while he was gone for another 16-hour day. Slowly we got a few things done in the house. I got all the rooms painted and we got the carpet ripped up and hardwood floors put down in the main area and laminate in the other rooms (except for one bedroom that still has ugly pink carpet which Analia loves). But, after 13 years, the walls need repainted, the kitchen needs upgrading, the bathrooms need upgrading (as they haven’t been touched since the house was built 30 years ago) and the kids have a lot they can do to make it their home and their style. I never owned a home, always living in rentals and moving frequently when married to my ex-husband. Our house in Staunton, while home to me and a place I love, was never entirely mine, nor was I ever able to entirely put my own personal touch on it. The octagonal design, while unique and a structure that many of our neighbors’ envy, just didn’t lend itself to my personal love of traditional style cottage home. No matter how many changes I made, I could never make the octagonal home feel like “me”. I was never ungrateful and never dreamed of living anywhere else until we started looking seriously at buying a home in Southwest Virginia. I had been hustled and moved from one place to another all over the United States and lived in so many rentals before I met Mike that any type of stable home was heaven to me and our home in Staunton was large, comfortable, unique and had what I call “million-dollar views”. Never was I ungrateful for what I had been given and never did I dream of having anything different but when I began to slowly (and with resistance at first) give myself over to accepting that we would not farm the home place (where Mike’s mom lives) for the rest of our lives and that Mike needed a change since his dad had died, things began to fall into place that allowed Mike and I to both be able to experience more than we had ever imagined. Our home in Laurel Fork is absolutely the perfect place for Mike and I to come together with our preferred styles of decorating and it is the first time in my life that I am able to pull together everything I like for a great vintage, cottage/farmhouse feel. Now that I am able to decorate freely to my taste, I find that the clean lines are a thing of the past, probably something I practiced out of necessity. I am looking forward to seeing what Alissa and Gab do with the house in Staunton. Their style adds a lot of vibrant color in accessories and I think will lend itself much better to the Octagonal design of the house. The house there was much too big for just Mike and I and it is good to see it full with the girls able to have plenty of room to play. Anyway, I felt great about getting the wooden display shelves down, all the small items packed to either take to Laurel Fork or sell, and removing the small, vintage table that Alissa wanted out of the kitchen area. The kitchen and dining room look much more open, clean, and ready for them to start working on in the summer. I have a few knick-knacks left in the living room to box up, a coat closet to clean out, and a linen closet that I used as a pantry closet for canned goods and overflow from the kitchen that I need to box up. Everything in the main portion of the house will then be emptied of our things. (I don’t even want to think about the huge storage area downstairs in the unfinished part of the basement, the utility room, and the outbuildings. Those things will probably take years to sort through as they require more of Mike’s involvement and he has difficulty getting rid of anything.)
My productiveness continued into Tuesday. I was up early and was able to connect through messenger with our son in Thailand and talk to him for a while. It is always so good to be able to chat with him. He and his fiancé live a life there that is so different from anything with which we are familiar. The country is made up of hierarchies which means with Marisa being Thai and of royal blood, there are certain activities they are not “allowed” to do for themselves. The mindset is something we can’t understand and while it feels so wrong (and is) for one group of people to serve another, the “lower class” acquire their self-worth and importance from the jobs they do. Evidently, if Mikey washes the dishes then it is a huge insult to those hired to do that job. Mikey is always so positive about his time there but I know it has been a huge adjustment for him. He still doesn’t speak the language. He and Marisa do so much good with their time. They run a large resort for Marisa’s parents in the mountains and I know them well enough to know that the locals who work for them are compensated well for the work they do. Mikey and Marisa spend a lot of their time, energy and the family money to help those less fortunate, especially the children who live in poverty in the mountains. Mikey sends me photos of the wild, but beautiful country and the crazy trips to the cities where driving means you take your life into your own hands and pray that your angels are watching over you. Mikey does almost all the driving for the family. I am just so proud of him, his heart full of compassion, his approach to life, his kindness to people and his ability to adapt to such a different lifestyle than that with which he is familiar. I’m also thankful for the closeness I feel to him. We can go long periods of time without talking and not see each other for a year at a time but it is easy for my heart to connect with his. He’s a really special guy and I am so blessed to be his step mom.
Mid-morning, I went to Factory Antique Mall where I was able to completely finish up the inventory in the front and back booths. When we started with selling antiques, I wasn’t going to help, but that soon changed, a fact that makes me smile. I wasn’t interested in adding another layer to my already full plate, but we have let some other things go, downsized in some areas, and the antiques have proven to be a shared hobby that has brought Mike and I closer. I think we partner well in this venture and complement each other. It is a lot of work but we have a lot of fun with it. Because I was being stubborn and refused to comply easily in the beginning, the items put into the malls early on were not on an inventory list. We found as time went on that the management of the mall could be pretty poor at times and a lot of our things just ended up missing. We began wondering how many things just disappeared. We also found that the staff often did not write down the description of items sold in a way that we could decipher what it was when the daily sales report came through. And, with getting bigger over time, we also needed a better way to keep the records from a business perspective. So, I began assigning everything an inventory number, but I needed to go back and assign numbers to several hundred items in the booths that had not been previously tagged. (Another difference in Mike and my personality is that he is completely unorganized, jumps from one thing to another, and generally doesn’t have much of a plan. I have to at least attempt some sort of plan and organization and I do best when I start a job and finish it rather than jumping around.) Working on an inventory gave me an opportunity to rework everything, mark down some things that had been sitting for a while, and was an eye opener as to how many things get “misplaced” or stolen. I’m a pretty visual person and can usually tell immediately if something is not where I left it. Things get rearranged as people shop and that is actually encouraging because it means people are looking. However, I am quick to see if something is missing. I now have my inventory as well as weekly photos I take of the booth to help me decipher what is gone. This week I walked in and noticed a trunk looked very empty and a small table looked bare. The trunk had previously held a large pillow I had made out of a flour sack and it is now missing, I looked and never found it, so more than likely, it will be another loss for us. The table had held a large, enamel bowl and with a little searching, I was able to find and retrieve it from another booth where I know it was unintentionally misplaced.
The end of the month sneaked up on me and I realized I needed to get some checks sent off to my grandma. I sat in the parking lot at the post office and wrote out a month’s worth of checks for her “tithe” money and for her caregiver and had to send them priority because I had waited so late to do it. Grandma would give all her money to the church and to other charities and to friends and strangers if she could and for the most part, I think she has, but that is a story for another time and place. (Before we realized her struggles with managing her money, I think she gave away a huge portion of the savings my grandpa had left her) My grandpa always managed all the money and always made sure she had what she wanted. She didn’t have to do any of that until my grandpa passed away. She laughs and tells how she had a job for a short while as a bookkeeper when she was still a teenager and how they fired her because she couldn’t learn to keep the books correctly. My grandma’s heart is huge and her love for people is amazing. I doubt anyone could be more giving than my grandmother and there is no entity she would rather give to than the church. Now that I am managing her money, I make sure to send her checks so she can put a little bit in the collection plate each Sunday. It would break her heart to not be able to do that, plus, I am pretty sure she would think it was a sin not to have a check in every week. I tried to encourage her to stop sending money to charitable organizations other than the church and to stop buying and sending gifts to everyone one she knows for multiple occasions. Her heart is huge and she just isn’t able to understand that money is limited because we need to pay for someone to help care for her on a daily basis.
After the trip to the post office, I picked up a big bag of dog food for our three dogs. I miss having my dogs with me all the time. I miss Spencer especially. He is my number one farm hand, always by my side. The kids and grandkids want me to leave the dogs in Staunton, especially Spencer, as he loves the children so much. When we transition to Laurel Fork permanently, I would love to have him here, but I think he will be happiest staying there, so we will see what happens. He will still have animals there to watch and he has the kids who love him so much. Meanwhile, it feels lonely not having a dog always at my heels.
I also got a lot of cleaning done in the house in Staunton on this trip. It is just so hard to keep things clean there with all of us in and out so much and with the little girls always making messes but I was happy with the amount of work I got done towards cleaning. I have pretty much admitted defeat on the windows and glass doors of which there are many in the Octagonal house. Little girls finger prints and mouths are always on the inside and the dogs nose prints are always on the outside. They are cute though, always checking each other out, the dogs looking at the girls and the girls looking at the dogs. The minute the door is opened, girls and dogs mix and everyone is smiling.
Mike filled the round bale feeders and brought square bales up for the mini horses and two pet goats. I spent some time outside in addition to feeding just to enjoy looking at and being with my jersey girls. I have missed them so much when we are away.
Tuesday evening was five hours of babysitting while Alissa was at class. It is always an adventure when my grandma calls at the designated time in the evenings and I am watching the girls. Analia always talks to her and it is funny to hear their conversation. Rory decided to “talk” this time and just chattered away and laughed and laughed. It was really cute. I think my grandma really enjoyed it. I was exhausted Tuesday night. Being exhausted after babysitting is become the norm for me. I slept well and then awoke at my usual time to get a few things done on the computer before anyone else wakes up. I usually don’t write in my journal anymore until I get to Laurel Fork, but I do take time to answer correspondence, pay bills, make orders, or do other things I need to do when I wake up before the rest of the house. I was always a night owl until the last ten years or so when I learned to really enjoy the quiet time first thing in the morning. It is now my favorite time of the day. It is really the only time I am completely free from distractions and whether I am out milking my cows in solitude or in a quiet spot with my computer writing, those moments when most of the rest of the world are sleeping seem tailor made for someone such as myself.
Wednesday morning, again I was able to really feel accomplished as I continued to clean, pack, and load the car for our trip back to Laurel Fork. We had talked about staying an extra day but when it came down to it, couldn’t wait to get back home to Laurel Fork. Alissa will be on spring break next week both at her job at Blue Ridge Community College and with her classes at James Madison University. That means Mike and I have opportunity to spend less time traveling back and forth between Staunton and Laurel Fork in the coming week and get some other things done.
We stopped in Dublin on the way to Laurel Fork and I had a Greek Salad with grilled Salmon. I made a call home while we were driving. I like to use my time wisely when we are traveling and I needed to touch base with the parents in Missouri and check on them. I am thankful that they are in good health for the most part, active, and able to live life the way they see fit. My immediate family and I are all very independent and while we all love each other dearly, we do our own things and don’t spend a lot of time communicating or visiting one another. We have always been like that. My dad rarely asked for help, didn’t have a lot of friends but the ones he had were good people and loyal to him, minded his own business and expected everyone else to mind theirs, spent a lot of quiet time alone, cared deeply, worked hard, was sensitive to the comments and judgments of others, and gave his life to sacrifice to make sure that his family was taken care of even when the chips were down. I think I ended up being a lot like him in many ways. Since I lost my mom when I was seven, I really don’t know how much like her I am. Folks who knew her say I remind them a lot of her with my love of animals, my non-judgmental attitude toward people, my desire to find the positive and to be an encourager, my gestures and even the way slant my letters backwards when I write in cursive. However, I think I am probably more like my daddy than my momma because she was outgoing and loved being around people and was comfortable with such. I am sure, as the only child of a Baptist preacher, being around others just came naturally to her and she probably welcomed the interactions.
Arriving in Laurel Fork just before dark, we unloaded the car. I had packed it full of mostly Christmas decorations that had been stored in Staunton. We carried them upstairs and put them in the back of one of the deep closets that goes under the eaves of the 1930’s Cape Cod style house. I am thankful for the deep closets and adequate storage space in this house. It doesn’t begin to compare with all the space we have in Staunton, but I am glad that we can downsize and yet have room to store the things that are most important to us.
March 2, 2018
Definitely, March has come in like a Lion! Wow! We had wind gusts of up to 60 miles an hour last night and the high winds are continuing into today. As we sat in the living room last night the wind coming down the hollow sounded like a freight train. I slept well in spite of the wind, awoke after daylight to make my coffee and heard the hum of the whole house generator. We checked Appalachian Power online and found that the electricity in our area had been out since a little after 3 am with no estimated time for power restoration. I am incredibly thankful this morning for the generator that is keeping us supplied with electricity this morning.
I worked around the house yesterday morning and then fixed our big meal for the day earlier than usual. After eating our home raised New York Strip steaks, homegrown veggies and Angel biscuits cooked in my cast iron skillet, we left the house around 3 pm to pick up a load of hay at the neighbor’s behind us. They got 16 large round bales of cattle hay on the trailer and we made the trip over to Floyd County again. A man who buys hay from us in August County (3 hours north) has cattle at his sister’s farm in Floyd County as well. He buys hay from our neighbor in Carroll County and pays us to ship it for him to Floyd County. By the time we get the hay loaded, make the trip, and return home, it is a 3.5 hour trip for us if we don’t tarry. The highlight of the trip for me was passing a fairly large farm with a sheep and seeing four Great Pyrenes at work. When we passed the first time, two of the Pyres were lying down “resting” but you could see they were still alert and watchful. On out in the field were two more Pyres, in separate locations, sitting erect and watching the sheep. When we passed them going home, the sheep were coming in and the tiny babies were running alongside their mommas. The Pyres were actively protecting them with no humans anywhere to be seen. I use to watch my Great Pyre work the fence lines and I grew to love her so much. She was an amazing dog, a rescue, and the reason I fell in love with the breed. Never have I had the opportunity to personally see a group of Pyres working such a large operation together and it was just fascinating to me.
March 3, 2018
The winds and storms that hit the entire East Coast this weekend didn’t forget our little piece of the Appalachians. We are still without power and the Appalachian Power Company estimates that it will get restored in our area on Sunday afternoon. I have been so very thankful for the whole, house generator. We were able to function as normal yesterday. I did laundry, used the electric oven, played the radio, showered and couldn’t even tell we were running off a generator other than the loud, consistent hum outside the kitchen window where the generator sits. The noise of the generator is fairly loud, not overwhelming from inside, but outside quite noisy. Because the generator does use up the propane and we try to conserve as much as possible, we shut the generator down last night when we went to bed. We kept a fire in the fireplace in our bedroom and that kept our room warm until we didn’t get up to put more wood on it and the fire burned down to just coals. The temps dropped down in the twenties with wind chills in the teens and the cold began to permeate the house. I got up just before daylight and coaxed the fire back to life, climbed back into bed under the covers and grabbed my computer to catch up on journaling. Mike just started the generator and soon we will have warm water, propane heat radiating through the house, and again be able to proceed with our day normally even though the area is without power.
We really have not sustained any damage here that we know of. I have not walked the fence lines behind the house, but honestly, the fences are so bad back there on the “back forty” that it doesn’t matter at this point. We have to patch, repair and redo most of the fence anyway before we can move the Jerseys. I heard terrible noises last night even before we turned off the generator. The sound of the wind gusting and roaring down the “holler” sounded like a freight train. I was sure that the roof was coming off our house and that huge trees must be crashing all around us. At moments, the sounds of the wind were unbelievable but they were not sustained at that ferocity, thank goodness. When Mike turned the generator off and everything went dark, the generator stopped buzzing, the old vintage refrigerator stopped making it’s consistent gurgling and squeaking, and all the sounds of modern conveniences were silent and there was nothing between us and the wind but the walls in this 1930’s Cape Cod type farmhouse it made me feel both vulnerable and thankful. The moon shone brightly and we could make out shapes and shadows all around us as we lay in the dark. The moonbeams literally sparkled in the stream in the meadow outside our bedroom window. Had the wind not sounded so fierce, it would have felt like we had been transported to some magical land of fairies, with sparkling streams, lit by the moon.
In spite of the wind yesterday, Mike was determined to get something done. He couldn’t work in the barn without running a portable generator to operate his power tools. It was too windy to work on the fence or burn brush. He finally decided it was a good day to hall off another load of scrap metal. I’m not so sure it was a good day for it, but he did get it together and we took a load to the scrap yard which is about 45 minutes away. We had metal roofing off the chicken house, an old oil furnace, old scraps and pieces of equipment left from generations who previously owned the farm as well as a bunch of appliances that no longer work that had been abandoned because no one wanted to haul them up out of the basement. It is a tight turn at the top of the stairs and I honestly don’t know how Mike got the appliances all out by himself, but he did. I kept thinking he would ask me to help him if he needed help but there’s not much I can do to help on the narrow stairs. He was using a hand cart. He did manage to really mess up his back. I am hoping it is just pulled muscles and not something more serious. We did all right with the scrap metal and made a couple hundred dollars. I’m most excited about just getting the place cleaned up. When we were almost home from the scrap yard we passed a neighbor’s hay field and saw a few of the resident wild turkeys. They seemed really put out by the weather and were running against the wind across the field.
I had put a roast in the oven and it was ready when we got home from the scrap yard, and I thought Mike was going to come in early because of the weather but I was wrong. Instead he started bringing buckets of dirt down with the loader and putting it around the house to build up around the house and slope the ground so the rain water runs off. I took the wheel barrow and brought in a couple of loads of wood to keep the fire going. We had cut the heat way back and were trying to heat with the wood and fireplace as much as possible since we were running the generator and using fuel in that capacity.
March 4, 2018
The electricity was out most of the day yesterday and was scheduled to be out until Sunday (although we were happy to see it come back on earlier than expected). We had the generator off all night on Friday night, turned it back on long enough to heat water for showers so we could get ready for the day. We decided to just turn the generator off for the day and head to our regular auction. We arrived home from that auction around 3 pm and the power was still off. We had learned of a new auction in Dobson, North Carolina that folks were really building up to be a big deal so we went. I wasn’t impressed. There was nothing “wrong” with the auction but I think I had already had my quota of interactions for the day and by the time we walked into the building and I saw the crowd of people there, many whom we know superficially from other auctions, sales, and antique related encounters, my anxiety level started to escalate. We started walking around looking at the merchandise and I felt like everyone was pressing in on me in the large warehouse they were using. The building was used as a feed store and then it had antiques and vintage items piled everywhere. There were a couple hundred chairs in the middle of the floor and almost everyone was full with people standing around the edges. It didn’t take me long to find a chair in the back and try to hide as well as I could in a crowd. The auctioneer was fast, which is fine, but it takes a little while to get in rhythm with a new auctioneer. I listened intently as he “cried” the auction, as my Shenandoah Valley born and raised husband says. (Mike’s dad learned to auctioneer and was known to “cry” a few auctions in his day. Mike loves an auction, no matter what is being sold.) After a bit, I was able to keep up with the bids but the items went for a lot more than what I was interested in paying. Mike never raised his hand either. A friend we are just getting to know came in a bit late and sat down beside us and he and Mike talked the whole time. We ended up leaving early and I was more than ready. By the time we got home, I needed peace and quiet. The good news is that when we got back to the house, our power was back on. I had received a notification message from Appalachian Power stating it was back on shortly after we left the house to go to North Carolina. We had the switch turned off on the generator, so it was not running, but we also had the breaker off to the main power line, so we had to figure out how to get that back on but then we were in business. This round of being without electricity and using the generator was a hands-on crash course for us to learn how to turn the generator off under a load, turn it back on manually, and then switch everything back over to auto and reconnect to the main power source. Next time maybe we will remember and not have to read the book so much. It was actually very easy, but Mike kept asking me how to do it and I kept doubting myself and re reading the book to make sure we were doing it correctly. I did absolutely nothing yesterday other than go to auctions which for an extrovert means a really awesome day out with friends, like the one’s Mike knew already and the ones he just met two minutes ago. What that meant for an introvert like myself is that making conversation with people I don’t know makes me tired. By the time I got home, I was more exhausted than if I had run a marathon and promptly fell asleep on the couch while Mike was talking to me in a spite of the fact the temperature was only 55 degrees in the house because we had turned the generator off all night and then after we showered turned it off again for the day to conserve fuel.
March 5, 2018
I was so edgy, nervous, anxious and irritable when I woke up yesterday morning. I have experiences several days like this in the last week with anxiety so intense that it made me feel like I was having a heart attack. I kind of laughed it off but did mention it to Mike, that I if anything happened to me assume it was my heart. I was awake long before Mike, which is our normal routine. In Laurel Fork that means uninterrupted quiet time for me to write while I drink my coffee because the minute Mike wakes up he starts talking and then I have difficulty concentrating. I have to laugh at so many differences between. I would rather wake up two hours before everyone else so I can have two hours without speaking. Mike starts talking almost the minute he gets up. When Mike did get up, I told him “I’m warning you now, I am anxious and irritable and if I am short tempered or cry don’t take it personally.” He said, “It sounds like to me you are making an excuse.” I laughed and said, “Yes, I am making an excuse.” He asked me if I needed to talk about something and I told him that I really didn’t know why I was struggling. In spite of the dubious beginning, the day actually picked up for me from there. I tried to get past the anxious feelings and church was a distraction. I’m very comfortable there. There is only a small group that attends and with a lot of them old enough to be either my parents or grandparents, they just make over Mike and I and are so happy that we are there. It just feels comfortable to me, which is more than I can say for most churches anymore. We had a potluck after the service and enjoyed visiting and eating good food. When we got home, I had dirty dishes to wash but instead went outside. I know myself well enough to realize that time spent outside is better therapy than anything for my soul. I grabbed my camera, something I don’t always do when I walk. I was happy that I did because I wasn’t more than a few steps past the barn when I looked ahead and saw movement. It was the flock of turkeys on the edge of some brush. From where I was I knew I could either go completely a different direction and not startle them or try to move to their right to get them to move to the left into open pasture in hopes of getting a good picture of them. I had the benefit of being downwind and while they are typically spooked easily, my plan to move slowly and quietly downwind from them worked as they headed into the pasture instead of seeking cover in the trees around the springs. They moved at a steady pace and I was able to get some photo although the sun was bright in my face and keeping me from actually being able to see what I was doing. After I managed a few shots I followed them. They had a head start and of course traversed the sloping, mountainous pasture land with ease while I huffed as I walked up the steepest part of our pasture. I could see them ahead of me until the topped the hill and I assumed that they knew I was there and had kept going and sought shelter in the woods. Instead, when I reached a certain point where the land table tops right before becoming wooded, I found myself surrounded by turkeys. They startled me as much as I startled them, so convinced was I that they would be hidden safely in the woods. There was a rush of movement as these big, wild birds quickly took flight. I grabbed my camera from around my neck and tried to focus but all I could do was start shooting photos and hoping something turned out. I could see the birds in front of me flying across the meadow and into the wooded area across the road as I heard the remainder of the flock behind me flapping their big wings and gaining altitude quickly to fly over my head. It was truly an inspiration moment when one feels privileged to witness untamed beauty first hand. How could I feel stressed or anxious at that moment? How could I feel anything but perfect peace and gratitude for being able to absorb such beauty and witness nature so intimately? After a slow-paced walk, I started working on the yard. A winter’s worth of fallen sticks and leaves as well as some larger branches blown off by the high winds littered the yard and it won’t be long until we will have to begin mowing. I raked and cleaned for several hours discovering that my Hostas were beginning to peek up from the dirt, and the already tall daffodils were close to blooming, even though they are in a shaded area of the yard. Signs of hope…..signs of life….signs that the harshness of winter will soon be past were everywhere, and the honest work of clearing off the yard forced me to give myself over and relax my mind as I pulled the rake over the steep incline, clearing one little section at a time. My pile of leaves and sticks got higher and higher and Mike asked me what I was going to do with them. I laughed and said, “You are going to bring me the skid loader and I am going to fill the bucket up with all the debris so you can haul it off somewhere.” He kind of rolled his eyes in that “Tammy has it all figured out her way” look but I could tell my plan made sense to him. We filled the large bucket and stomped it down, filled it more and stomped it again, and just when I thought we couldn’t possibly get more in there, Mike tapped it down again and we had bucket packed full and a good start on cleaning the yard. While I worked on raking leaves and cleaning up sticks and limbs, Mike had been moving dirt and filling in low spots around the house to try to slope the yard away from the back wall of the basement. He did a great job. I am not sure how many buckets of dirt he ended up bringing in and then patiently shoveling and raking and getting it sloped just right. It looked so pretty, all that red, mountain dirt raked to perfection. Then he seeded it with grass and covered it with straw. If we can get a good stand of grass there, that section around the house will not only be beneficial to keeping water away from the basement, but it will also look much better now that the holes and low places are filled. We were tired but content when we came in the house and happy for a Sunday that we didn’t have to be on the road. Mike asked me to start a fire and I had that blazing and supper warmed up by the time he got in the house and showered. After eating, I made my nightly call to grandma, took a long soaking bath, and crawled into bed.