Wipeout!

So we’ve been living in Scotland since the end of July (2017), and every single day has be absolutely amazing.  I cannot tell you all the incredible experiences I’ve had just in the short time we’ve been here, but I can tell you about one of the most awkward moments I’ve had to date.

At the end of September one of our friends was celebrating a milestone birthday, and his lovely wife decided to throw him a surprise birthday part to mark the occasion.  On the day of the event she asks me to come over and give her a hand is setting everything up.  Fine, no problem, I was very happy to help.

She and I and another lass spent the morning wiping down patio furniture and halogen lights,  setting up a number of extra chairs, a buffet table, and a large outdoor tent – thank goodness I’ve had lots of practice at craft shows setting up those foolish things!  While we’re setting up the tent my friend accidentally stumbles into the flagstone patio and promptly breaks her pinky toe.  I cringe at the memory of the “crunch” her poor wee piggie made.  In spite of the pain and nausea she soldiered on though, because that’s what Scottish women do!

That evening, after a much needed shower and rest we returned to the party scene.  The house was packed with folks, and everyone was doing what strangers do at a party….milling about making small talk over glasses of champagne.  Men were clustered around the BBQ grill, beer in hand, talking about the latest football matches.  The hostess was running around like a chicken with her head cut off, making sure everyone had drinks and appetizers, offering introductions, and generally looking frazzled.  Of course, me being me, offered to give her a hand with the final dinner preparations.

At the offer of help I was promptly put in charge of boiling the potatoes for the buffet.  No problem!  Cooking, I can handle.  As I stood at the stove in the middle of the kitchen, surrounded by slightly buzzed strangers I felt right at home.  When you’re the help, no one takes notice of you, unless you do something really stupid, like drop a tray full of champagne glasses on the floor.  Thankfully I wasn’t in charge of the drinks table, so I was safe from scrutiny…for the most part.

As I stirred the pot of potatoes I found myself approached by several middle-aged men who had obviously come with a spouse or date, but had managed to lose them at some point.  I was quite flattered by their curiosity and attention, having never really spent much time on the receiving end of pick-up lines,  being married by the ripe old age of barely 22.  But it didn’t take long to go from being a curiosity to being a spectacle, because that’s how I roll.

Flattery over and taters cooked, I had one task left before my hour of service was over and we could all settle into an evening of music, dancing, and well mannered birthday frivolity – the taters needed to get to the buffet table so dinner could begin.  No problem, right?  Um, yeah….you keep telling yourself that….

crock pot w locking lidSo I’ve got this pot of boiled taters transferred to my brand new slow cooker, the kind with the snap-down top.  By the way, this slow cooker is fantastic!  Whoever thought to put a snap down lid on a slow-cooker should win a Nobel Prize or something.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spilled chili and other soups in my car, down the front of me, and all over the floor because the lid of the slow cooker didn’t seal properly.  But I digress…

I pick up the slow cooker, considering for a minute whether or not I should snap down the lid, thinking to myself, “I’ve only got to get from the kitchen to the back yard, but deciding to not risk it since I had on a thin, silk top and didn’t really fancy wearing salty tater water down the front of my blouse the rest of the night.  Thank you Jesus for that moment of sanity!

I make my way through the press of people in the kitchen and down 3 stairs to the conservatory.  I could see the buffet table set up just off the flagstone patio about 30 feet from the back door.  It was a beautiful, bright, {rare} warm Scottish evening with a faint breeze and not a cloud in the sky.  The sun was beginning to make its way toward the horizon, the sea taking on the characteristic late summer afternoon shift from green to blue-black to golden as the sun dropped lower in the sky.  Most of the party attenders were in the conservatory around the drinks table and milling around the patio in groups of three or four, admiring the view and talking in subdued tones.

Dodging around a couple of women who were teetering on their heels and giggling over their glasses of champagne at the opportunity for a Friday night out of the house, I picked up my pace, wanting to deposit the heavy slow cooker full of hot boiled taters onto the buffet table so I could find my own drink and re-join my husband and friends.

The next thing I know, I’m lurch forward through the air as I step out the back door.  Both my feet have left the ground, and somehow I’m making a nose dive toward the rough flagstone patio directly in front of me. Now a normal person would probably have thrown the slow cooker away from their body, allowing for themselves to brace their fall with their hands to avoid a face plant.  Not me though!  For some unknown reason, I folded the slow cooker against my chest, the lid pressed tight against my ample bosom, fingers clenched around the plastic handles on the side of the pot like I was heading out into the ocean for an afternoon of body surfing.

Moments later, the serenity of the party is broken by the ungodly screeching sound of metal against stone as I land on top of the slow cooker, sliding across the uneven flags of the patio in a spray of sparks from the bottom of the cooker.  As my ears are processing the high pitched wheal I can feel my feet gain momentum faster than my body and my legs begin to curl back over my body, and I’m feeling pretty certain that I’m about a heartbeat away from flipping over this crazy slow cooker in a bloody face plant.  Somehow, I managed to press my legs to the ground to halt my progress, stopping the ear splitting screeching, and as I abruptly ceased motion my glasses flew off my face and skidded a further 6 feet in front of me, thankfully coming to rest upside-down on the frames rather than the lenses.

I took a breath.  And another.  The crowd had fallen completely silent and in the absence of noise I could feel every pair of eyes at the party trained on my back.  My own eyes popped open and I realized simultaneously that my face was only inches from the rough flagstones, and I was somehow perched on top of the slow cooker like a hen on top of her nest of eggs.  I felt Sam lay his hand on my back, bending down to see if I was alive.  Prompted by a mortifying sense of embarrassment I heard myself repeating, “I’m okay,” two or three times before my brain had a chance to take stock of whether or not the words were true.

As my brain began to engage my body, I could feel the lid handle pressing hard against my breastbone and every breath I tried to draw in sent a twinge of pain through my chest.  The heat from the boiling water and hot potatoes was radiating through the glass lid and thin silk of my duck-egg blue blouse, causing my chest to burn as hotly red from the contents of the cooker as my face was from embarrassment.  My knees had slammed sharply against the flagstones and they felt like someone had run a hot poker against the kneecaps.  I silently cursed myself for wearing my favorite jeans, figuring they were probably ripped and ruined.

And then the gravity of the situation hit me…I was laying on top of a slow cooker of boiled potatoes in the middle of a crowd of strangers, and the worst part of the whole situation was, I was going to have to try and get up off the ground, preferably without looking like a turtle that was flipped over on its back, and without showing off my extra-large bum.  If I made it off the ground, I was going to have to find a way to exit the party quickly, most likely covered in a ruined top of smashed taters and hot salty water…. In that moment I was certain the social gods hated me.

Thank you Jesus for adrenaline.  In the time it took for a party-goer to retrieve my glasses from the patio, I had managed to burpee off the slow cooker into an upright position.  Sam plucked the slow cooker from the patio, which was somehow, miraculously still in one piece (although it will never sit level again), lid securely clipped down, and not a drop of hot contents spilled!  And I found that while my knees burned like fire my jeans were not ripped, and my bum had been securely covered by the tails of my silky blouse the entire time!  Within 90 seconds the party began buzzing again, and I was able to retrieve the vestiges of my dignity, smile at a few of the remaining gawkers, and sachet to the drinks table like nothing had happened.  Of course my cheeks never did lose their rosy red glow, and I noticed several of the chaps who’d paid me complements 15 minutes earlier were shooting me mischievous smiles of amusement before turning their attention back to their dates.  Oh, what a night to remember.

Only me, right?!  *sigh*

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Resurrection!

I'm back

Hello friends!  Wow, it’s been a while, right?  I can’t even believe this site is still an active site on WordPress, but hey, that’s the beauty of technology.  So I’ve got a wacky idea, lets resurrect this blog and see what happens.

I noticed my last post was written 5 years ago.  What?!  That’s crazyness!  And what’s even more insane is how different my life looks today from way back then.  To say a lot has happened in 5 years is really just an understatement, so let me catch you up on all the madness…

IMAG0420
Is this not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?! This is Romeo and he’s babysitting by also doubling as a jungle gym!

2012: sold our dream home and move to a tiny little repo’d farm in the middle of no-where Georgia.  Seriously guys, I traded in my heels and designer handbags for rubber boots and overalls.  I know, insane, right?!  We downsized from a 4,000 s/f home in an upscale neighborhood to 1153 s/f of double-wide trailer on acreage.  Talk about a step or ten down in the world, BUT……the farm was PAID FOR in CASH from the sale of our house…..so that really made it a step UP!  Sadly, I broke my back at the end of the year and it’s really put a damper on my dancing days since then.

2013: husband was downsized from his extremely well paying corporate job in the beginning of 2013.  We knew it would happen, but that doesn’t make it any less painful psychologically.  Thankfully we had sold our house in town and were living in a place with no mortgage and lots of land to grow our own food, which we did.  That was an experience, for sure.  But God is good, and we never missed a meal, never had unpaid bills, and never felt we were going without.

IMG_20150223_172030722_HDR2014 – 2016: I started my own soap company as a way to bring extra income to our little homestead.  I was fairly successful in our area of north Georgia, and I loved making body products.  I was a terrible businesswoman though, so I really kept it from growing as much as it could, but I enjoyed every day of my work, plus I got to meet so many amazing people, both in the business and from the business.  I sold the business in January 2017 and it’s still going strong, which makes my heart very happy.

findochty harbor

2017: began fundraising for our international move to Scotland!  Yes, that’s right folks, I’m sitting in my office in the north of Scotland, looking out over the sea.  We live in a little coastal village called Buckie on the coast of the Moray Firth (North Sea).  Our view is amazing!  Okay, I’m bragging a little bit, I know it.  But y’all, it is so incredible here!  My beloved is the pastor of a wee little congregation and our life is like an episode of the Vicar of Dibley…well, not exactly, but sort of.

Honestly, I know it doesn’t look like much has happened from that brief explanation above, but it really has.  If I were to write about every single event that’s happened over the past 5 years this blog would be super long and y’all wouldn’t stick around to read it anyway.  I’m a realist, and what you really need to know is that I’m back, at least as much as I can be, and as often as I’m inspired to be.  I have no idea yet where this blog will go in the future, although I suspect it will probably be very much in the same vein as before with my crazy musings, my two-cents worth on social issues, and my story-telling ideas, plus a little bit of cooking, crafting, and village life thrown in for good measure.  I’ve missed y’all, and I’m looking forward to us getting to know each other all over again.   So until next time…

{Muah!}

Charity begins

I really believe that Americans are some of the most generous people in the world.  I also believe that Americans are some of the most selfish people in the world.  And I most certainly include myself in these statements.  I know, it’s confusing.

As a whole, when a crisis occurs, as in the 9/11 tragedy, America pulled together.  We were united in our desire to help our neighbors, loved ones, friends, and strangers.  We willingly emptied our pockets and our hearts to help those who were so closely affected by the terrorist attacks on our nation.  It was a beautiful thing to watch perfect strangers reach out to each other in a way our nation has not done before.  Sometimes it was done through organizations like American Red Cross, but in many cases it was just one person offering a helping hand to another.  It was endearing and noble, and selfless.  It was charity in perfection.

Recently we received the first of many Christmas giving catalogs.  We like to support organizations that are helping to feed, clothe, and train people out of poverty.  I often have tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat as I look through these catalogs.  Not just because of the moving photos and heart-warming success stories, but because I look around my own house and see nothing but excess.   We’re not rich by any American standard.  We’re solidly middle-class.  We work hard for what we have, and we have more than we’ll ever need really.  And yet I often find myself using sentences like, “I need a new pair of shoes,” or “I need to get my hair colored,” or “I need some mums to plant in the yard for fall.”  Of course these really aren’t ‘needs’, just wants.  But in our American mindset these are often treated as needs.  As a whole, and yes, this is a very broad statement, we are a needy, selfish bunch of people who live in excess rather than necessity.

The reason I get teary eyed looking at these charity catalogs is because I see people who can truly live and thrive with the most meager and humble of possessions.  The gift of a single goat to a family in Guatemala can change their life monumentally.  It seems like such a trivial thing to us, and yet these are people who can build a business out of one animal.  They can feed their family.  They can help others.  It’s just a single goat, not world peace.  But that’s the key.  They don’t need world peace to make a difference.  And neither do we.  It just takes one person, doing something for someone else to make that difference.

I’m sure I don’t have to say it, but the holidays are fast approaching.  Kids are already starting to get those Christmas catalogs too.  The ones filled with toys and games and gadgets.  Already phrases like, “I need a cell phone,” or “I need a new PS3,” or “I need a new Macbook” are starting to fly around.  And the sad thing is, they really believe they ‘need’ these things too.  Just like I believe I need mums for the yard or another pair of shoes.

But what we really need is to develop a sense of charity.  We need to look around us and be more sensitive to the guy standing on the street corner holding a sign asking for help.  We need to realize that shelters in our community are filled with people who truly have no place to go.  That families are being torn apart by violence, drugs, alcohol, and abuses of other kinds.  These are our neighbors, our loved ones, our friends, and even strangers.  And sure, there are people out there who are playing the system.  There are genuine crooks, scammers, and bums who want to take advantage of the compassion of others.  And that’s okay.  Some day they’ll have to answer for their actions, whether it’s here or in eternity.  But we have to not worry about being ripped off.  We have to stop expecting the worst of people.  We need to train ourselves out of the mindset of “I need…” and start thinking more along the lines of “how can I help?”  It starts with us.  Not with Governments.  Not with foundations.  Not even with churches.  Just us.  If we want to change the world we have to start doing it ourselves.  Charity needs to begin in the heart.  It needs to begin now.

Real

For those of you who actually ‘follow’ this blog it will shock you to see that I’ve taken the time this afternoon to write something.  It’s safe to assume that writing here is not a priority on my list these days.  Oh, I’m writing plenty still, just not blogging.  In the past seven months my daily schedule has become a frenzied network of chores, construction projects, lists, errands, and quality time with the people and things I love most in this world.  Basically I’m trying to fill my life with things that are real.  Things that matter.  I have very little time (or desire) to sit in front of a computer and stare into cyberspace, hoping that someone out there will be as bored as I am and actually read the drivel I’ve put on here.  And so as not to be insulting, for those of you who actually do that, ‘thanks’.  But for me, I’m over the whole blogosphere scene.  I’ve stopped reading blogs.  Most of them have really devolved into lengthy Twitter or Facebook posts anyway, and quite frankly I’m just not interested in that.  Sadly, at one point I was faithfully reading 22 blogs per day.  And some of those blogs took nearly thirty minutes or more to get through.  Especially if there were recipes or photos involved.  I’m a sucker for recipes and photo contests.

However, in the past seven months my life has changed.  Radically.  My priorities regarding my time have changed as well.  Time is our most valuable commodity; and yet, every day we waste most of it.  No wonder life passes us by so quickly.   We spend our childhood wishing we were an adult.  By the time we reach adulthood and enter the working world we spend our week wishing it were the weekend.  And on the weekends we wish we were kids again so we could forget that dreaded “to-do” list that awaits us.  Such a shame to wish our entire life away and forget to live in the moment.

Today I was doing some research on a company called Monsanto.  They’re an evil, multi-national, chemical corporation that is completely engrossed in their own greed.  And they have the balls to cloak that greed in the nobility of “feeding the world,” when in fact, they care nothing for the world at large, but only the myriad of ways they can control our food chain and thus line their already massive pockets.  And as I finished up my research, I came to the conclusion that I need to do something.  I need to take control.  Even though I’m only one person I can still make a difference.  It only takes one, remember?  So I’m not exactly sure what it is I’m going to do yet, but it will be something.  And I can guarantee you it won’t involve sitting behind this computer a moment longer and blogging…..

Peace, out.

Crave

Last night my beloved and I treated ourselves to a date night.  It doesn’t happen often, especially since starting up the farm.  There are so many chores to be done in the evenings and on weekends that we really don’t have a lot of extra time to ourselves.  But yesterday we managed to finish early enough to head to the QT for a snack and then off to the cinema to see Secretariat.  For years Sam and I have been dreaming of the day we could retire from this hectic life we live and move back to Kentucky, start a little farm, put up some horse fence, and live out our days in quiet wonder of all that God has created.  The movie didn’t help that desire any – we’re more determined than ever to realize our dream.

Despite a wonderful evening, I didn’t sleep well.  I don’t know if it was the excitement from the movie (I do love good horse racing), or just realizing how much of a contrast in lifestyle I crave.  Right now, we live a life of comfort and ease.  Sure we’ve got some hard work to do each day with the farm and garden chores, but for the most part we’re very comfortable.  God has very richly provided for us, however I’m desperate to turn my back on all this “stuff” in search of a much more simple way of living.  All that we have is lovely and grand, but it has come at much too high a price.

Awkward moments

In my life there have been numerous moments where I, or those around me have wanted to die and fall into the deepest, dark hole they could find.  I’m a whiz when it comes to saying inappropriate things at inopportune times.  It’s a gift really.

Today I had one of those embarrassingly awkward moments.  Right now, we’re smack dab in the middle of allergy season in Georgia.  We’re on the 13th month of a 12 month allergy cycle.  But things are looking up for us.  The ragweed is nearly done….just in time for the pine pollen to begin again.  Anyway, I’m struggling with the slightest stuffy nose.  It’s nothing big, but definitely enough to change my voice a bit and make my words run together slightly.  Out of the blue I decided to make a phone call to someone I haven’t talked to in a few months.  Its a family thing, and if you have extended family I’m sure you understand where I’m going with this.

So I dial the number and listen patiently as the phone rings two or three times.  The line picks up and I hear my beautiful aunts voice on the other end.  I offer her my most chipper, “Hello Auntie ______”, and then there’s silence.  And I’m not talking about that take a breath kind of silence before you go on with your conversation.  It was the “who in the heck is this and how did you get my number?” kind of silence.  It’s that “crap, why did I answer this?” kind of silence.  It’s the kind of silence that makes you (the caller) feel at a complete loss for words.  And in that silence you think to yourself…did I dial the wrong number?  Has my tongue swelled to twice its normal size and I’m talking like I’ve had an injection of novacane?  Did I just call this person by the wrong name?  Poop…it was the name thing again, wasn’t it?!

And as it always happens in these types of situations, my dear sweet auntie asks the questions we all do…”who is this?”

When you have to introduce yourself to your kin, its been too long!  I’m horrible at keeping in touch.  You’d think after all these years I’d learn to either call more often or just throw in the towel and become one of those funeral and wedding kinds of kin.  You know, the ones who only show up when there’s free food and liquor….

And as I was sitting here reflecting on the conversation; which by the way went charmingly well once we got past the formal introductions; it reminded me of another phone conversation that didn’t end so well……….

Sam and I were living in Iowa at the time.  His daughter had gone off and married a hairy Scotsman.  I didn’t attend the wedding (it’s a long story), so I’d never met the chap.  I hadn’t even spoken to him on the phone before this conversation….a conversation which is told and re-told at all major family gatherings…much to my horror and shame.  Anyway, Sam and I were in the process of getting ready to head out of the house for an evening of fun and frivolity when the phone rang.  Sam was in the shower so I answered it.  This is how the conversation went…

Caller: “Is SUM there?”

Me:  “Who?”

Caller: “SUM?”

Me: “Um, I think you have the wrong number.”

Caller:  “Oh, sorry ’bout that.”

*Call ended*

I turned around to walk back to the bedroom and the phone rang again, so I answered it.

Caller: “Is SUM there?”

Me:  “I think you just called here and I believe you have the wrong number.  There is no SUM here.”

Caller:  “Oh sorry.”

*Call ended*

As I turned to head back toward the bedroom the phone rang again.  And like an idiot I answered it…..again.

Caller: “Is SUM there?”

Me: “Um I think you’ve still got the wrong number.  There is NO SUM that lives here.  You might check your number again.”

Caller:  “Is this 237-6439?”

Me: “Yes it is, but I’m telling you, there is no SUM that lives here.  You’ve got the wrong number!”

Caller: (in a very reluctant voice) “Oh, okay, sorry ’bout that.”

*Call ended*

Thankfully the phone didn’t ring a fourth time or I might have ripped the cord out of the wall.  However, when Sam exited the shower and inquired about the multiple phone calls I relayed the jist of the conversations to him.  I explained that the caller was looking for SUM and there were no SUM’S that lived in our house.  Sam thought for a moment about the strange calls and then turned to me and asked it the caller would have possibly been asking for “SAM”?  I explained that if he was looking for SAM that he needed to learn English!  And then Sam did the funniest thing…he put on his own Scottish accent and asked if the caller was looking for “SUM”?

It took me a second to process it all, but I’m sure the blood flooded my cheeks as I realized I’d just hung up on Sam’s son-in-law….three times!  I was mortified.  Laughing, Sam picked up the phone and dialed Scotland.  Yep, it was his son-in-law all right, who was just as befuddled by the conversation as I was, only in a different way.  But truly, if you’ve ever heard a thick Scottish accent over long distance it’s very confusing…at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.  Now anytime I see their phone number pop up on the caller ID I just ignore it because I know the caller will be looking for “SUM”!

Where does the time go?

Holy cow, its been a while since I’ve posted anything on here.  I’ve just become so overwhelmed with farm projects that I don’t have much time to just sit here and type anymore.  I know that during wintertime things will slow down a bit for us and I’ll have more free time during the day, but the last couple of weeks have just flown by with projects coming out my ears.  Here’s what we’ve been up to:

* We added about 5 acres of pasture fencing to the farm

* We moved all the animals into one of the new pastures

* I built a new hen pen with 10 nesting boxes

* We’ve moved chickens four different times between pens

* I built a portable shade barn

* I repaired a chicken tractor we got from some friends of ours who prefer the traditional chicken coop layout

* We spent a Saturday stretching fencing and repairing/strengthening corners

* We harvested two raised beds chalk-full of sweet potatoes – I still have to do something with those

* We’ve started gathering eggs (only a few so far, but the girls are all coming into maturity so it won’t be long now before we’re getting lots of eggs every day)

* I’m currently building pastured rabbit pens for the farm so we can get our bunnies off the back porch and out with the rest of the gang

* We amended about 20 EarthBoxes and have finally got all of our fall garden planted

* I gathered about 5 pounds of fresh chestnuts, and the tree is just now starting to “shed”

* I’ve managed to squeeze in making a few wheels of cheese as well

And I know that’s not a huge list, but when you’re working alone for most of it it takes a bit longer to accomplish things.  I was delighted to have my parents here for a two-week visit the first part of September, which gave me a chance to slow down a bit and visit with them – the break was wonderful!  My baby brother is coming for a couple of weeks at the end of October as well, and our major project is going to be another fencing one –  I need to build some garden fencing in our back yard.  Iris and Guinness are still ravaging my tomato plants.  We haven’t gotten one single slicing tomato all year long – between the blight and the dogs its been a rough year for the garden!  But good, solid garden fencing will stop at least the dogs, and thankfully my brother has some fencing experience.  Good thing too, because we have between 30 and 50 holes to dig out with the post hole diggers, and anyone who knows this Georgia clay knows what kind of hellacious task that’ll be!