The Willow Tree, The offering & The Sentiment.

Our farm, Weeping Willow
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I remember when I was very young, we had this enormous weeping willow tree off the back patio. It provided the yard with  most of its shade. Us kids (my two brothers and sister) and our friends, used to climb the tree and rest in it’s huge limbs.  We would gather handfuls of the loose Willow branches and swing as far as they would take us.  Depending on how high we placed our hands on the willow would decide on whether or not our feet would drag the ground or if we would swing several feet off the ground.  We’d spend many an hours playing in and around that ole’ tree each day.   Our farm, Weeping WillowThe photo above is one of our weeping willows, but not the one we swung on.

That willow tree had to be at the very least one hundred years old, but the size of it’s trunk was about ten feet around at it’s base. I’ve always heard that willows only grow near water.  The nearest creek  bed was at the end of our long driveway (about a city block away).

Along the creek on our property, were other trees of course and also wild berry bushes. We had honeysuckle, strawberry,  blackberry and raspberries galore.  There were apple trees too. They made for an instant healthy and refreshing snack whenever we felt inclined to eat!

We had 14 acres and most were lined with trees keeping it private.  Our home sat on somewhat of a hill. The walks to and from the school bus each day were rather long.  Of course, like any normal kid, the walk to school would generally feel longer than the walk home.   We caught the bus for Elementary school Monday through Friday and then again for Sunday school/church.  I Looked forward to the Sunday bus rides.  It was always a happy trip across town.  We lived in the Township which was rural farmlands, and the Church was in the boro (borough) or “in town”.   It was several miles away.

Waiting for The Sunday School busOur Sunday school bus driver was a friendly and sweet old man ….though in retrospect, he wasn’t really old at all.   He (Mr. Stall) always had a smile on his face and greeted each of his passengers by first name.  He always made conversation with everyone, as not to leave anyone out.  Each bus ride ended in a few packs of “Smarties” candies being squeezed lovingly into each of our hands.  While now writing this, I am  acknowledging my lifelong enjoyment of those candies, and the fact that Mr. Stall and his kindness played a part in my enjoyment of them!

For Christmas, Mr. Stall handed out gift wrapped full sized boxes of “special” treats.  They were either one of two kinds.   My favorite was the “Starlite” solid chocolate’s.  They were sweet milk chocolate drops that were raised into the shape of a star.  Brach’s makes a similar version.  The others were Non-Pareils.  Pea sized dark chocolate coated with white flavored dots.  They were tasty too.  Occasionally, I will have these at the movie theaters, but nowhere, other than from my early childhood Sunday school bus driver (Mr. Stall), have I ever found the Starlite chocolates.  He made them unique!

 At the end of our driveway on each side of it’s entrance were Queen Ann’s lace flowers.  I remember them being so delicate.  So feminine.  So, country.  Most were spread wide open and looked like living doilies.  They bloomed from the wild…they weren’t planted by Mom.  Amongst the doilies would be a few closed ones that resembled cups, or pockets.

Getting on our Sunday School BusI recall (with much regret), a few times that I hid my Sunday offering (a quarter) in the closed flower and retrieved it on the walk home after being dropped off from the bus.  I felt horrible when I didn’t place my quarter in the offering basket.  It played in my mind throughout service.   I remember an overwhelming feeling of guilt, as I said my goodbye to Mr. Stall.   I think I felt so guilty because he was so generous and most caring, and he was the one who brought me (safely) to and from Church each Sunday.

The walk up the drive would be the longest and hardest of all; carrying that quarter.  The quarter that was meant to be given as an offering to God.  I let him down.  I would feel guilt and sadness for quite  awhile.   I don’t know why I did it.   I don’t know what I used the quarters for or even where I put them.  It had always bothered me as a child.  I know I have said I am sorry over the years as I always do when I make a mistake.  I know in my heart, I had been forgiven.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

 

109 Years in the Palms of my hands

Love Letter From JESUS.
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A hobby of mine in which I find much pleasure, is antiquing, flea marketing & thrift store shopping.  Lately, I seem to be doing more of the latter.  I have been finding such a wonderful array of treasures.

When I go bargain hunting, I usually head on in with no particular item in mind (although I am always on the prowl for white Ironstone pieces, to add to my collection). I typically walk straight to the back section that houses the dinnerware, glass trinkets or pottery.  I also hunt for anything garden related, anything old that catches my eye…generally items that have a history to them.

In my latest “Goodwill” trip, I found an amazing Revival Hymns book. This antique is 109 years old. The pages have a beautiful aged scent to them, and are so fragile. You can literally see them crumble in your hands if you are not too careful. 109 years in the palms of my hands.  I can only dream of all who held it in their hands while praising our Lord.  Who were they?  Where did they come from,  what kind of life did they live?  This old book makes me happy! Incredibly, it was marked at only $1.49. I LOVE it!

Revival  Hymns        109 years old

Revival Hymns Book ~ 109 years old

“The final aim and reason of all music is nothing other than the glorification of God and the refreshment of the spirit.”  ~ Johann Sebastian Bach

Little did I know it, but the tone was set for my shopping excursion. I spotted an employee pushing a cart full of freshly tagged goods, that she was preparing to stock the shelves with. Nonchalantly, I casually walked over and glanced into the cart. I eyed a wonderful garden Angel statue, beneath tons of china & stemware.  I patiently waited nearby, until she set it on the shelf.  It sat for only 3o seconds before I got my hands on it!  A new home for you my dear!  She was well worth her price of $7.99.

Garden Angel

Garden Angel

While rummaging through picture frames, I came across a wonderful diy; handwritten poem, entitled  “Love Letter from Jesus”. Read it here:  https://countrypkin.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/a-love-letter-from-jesus-words.jpg I felt inclined to nab this as well.  It was if it were speaking to me directly.  I just had to get it. The frame is tattered a bit, but I kind of enjoy it that way.  The love shines through just the same without being shiny and new.  I considered painting it, but Jesus was a carpenter, and I think the natural wood befits the letter.  The cost of this was $1.99.

Love Letter From JESUS.

Love Letter From JESUS.

I spent a small total of $11.47 on my purchase, but gained so much more.  I got a piece of History in that well worn, (109 yr) old book.  Some beautiful songs that I will try to sing and attempt to do the words justice.  I got a promise in that letter, that Jesus will be waiting for me one day.  And a gentle reminder, that I need to be careful of the things I say and do and all that I need to reflect upon in order to be worthy of him.  I also find a comfort in my garden Angel addition, who now watches over my garden.  With her hands pressed together, she blesses each day, each flower, each blade of grass, each bug and bird, to replenish and restore through all their works.  She blesses each cat & dog, each boy or girl, young and old…any living thing that passes her way.  She gives the promise of Gods Love in all things big and small; that is what I see in her as she now takes up home in my garden.

What have you found recently in your trip to the thrift store that gives you pleasure?

Thrift is not an affair of the pocket, but an affair of Character. ~S.W. Strauss

Happy Thrifting ya’ll! :D

Sowing in the Sunshine; goodbye Summer

Harvest of flowers
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I Love Sunflowers!  I sowed several Sunflower seeds this year, just outside my back door off the wood deck. I wanted to be able to be greeted by the sunny brightness when I look out my kitchen window.  Only two took to root.  The first plant to bloom, grew a mere 4 feet, but what it lacked in height, it grew an abundance of flowers.  I counted about eighteen.   Its largest was about 9 inches in diameter.   I enjoyed several vases from this one stalk.  I was thrilled to bring their happy, bright bouquets into my kitchen for a few weeks.

Where flowers bloom so does hope. ~Lady Bird Johnson

Sunflower 1st bloom

Sunflower 1st bloom

He changed sunset into sunrise ~ Clement of Alexandria

Sunflower1 bunchThe second Sunflower plant to bloom grew to a massive height of over 10 feet.  It’s only flower ~ bloomed into a huge 18 inches in diameter.  That’s a large pizza pan!  Its center had a thickness of approximately 5 inches front to back.  This is the largest sunflower I have ever seen, or grown, (as of yet).  I Love it!!!  It grew in the exact location of  my sunflower last year, and the perfect place.  This giant is the first sunshine I was able to see out my kitchen window (day or night).  It grew so top heavy, that it’s weight lowered the flower head about two feet….and it still tried to reach the sun.

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change. ~Buddha

Sunflower Giant 2014

Sunflower Giant 2014

Top heavy

Top heavy

My Tomato plant to date, has provided 19 tomatoes from one single seedling.  I planted along the backyard fence, where it received morning and early afternoon sun. It was in the shade in the later part of the day, and I presume that is the reason for it’s spindly vine, and long ripening process.  All in all, they turned out very well, and I didn’t find the need for any bug sprays etc.  I am super excited & look forward to the growing season again next year, when I will plant several Tomato plants in full sun and give them their very own garden.

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. ~Hanna Rion

I still have not yet dug up my first Potatoes. I shall put on my gloves and dig in the dirt over the next few days. I have my fingers crossed for them.  I won’t be surprised if they haven’t grown properly, as I mistakenly planted them in full sun.  This year was a learning experience for sure.  Next year, I will be better prepared and hopefully, more knowledgeable about potatoes! I have a lot of reading to do!

Additions to my garden this year, (Russian sage, Moonlight Coreopsis, and Black~eyed~Susan) took off, and provided many flower arrangements along with all the other seasoned perennials in my gardens.  My Rose bush however, didn’t have as many recurring blooms this year…thanks to an invasion of beetles.  It’s perking back up finally after many treatments of Sevin dust.

For the third year in a row, (for fun) I entered in the Baking and Gardening exhibits at my local Fair.  I took home 2 Blue (First), 1 Red (Second), and 2 White (Third) ribbons! A whopping $23 :D came with them….. It’s not a get rich quick scheme, but rather an little added bonus for doing something I love! You can find my recipe for the cookies here: http://countrypkin.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/cranberry-oat-squares/  Let me know if you make them!

~My Ribbons~      Fair 2014

~My Ribbons~
Fair 2014

So summer is over for another year.

 My helper "Little one" in my wheelbarrow of weeds

My helper “Little one” in my wheelbarrow of weeds

Often times, someone can help just by being near you.  They don’t even need to lift a finger; or a paw!

Wheelbarrow2As I cleanup the wilting flowers & weed out the overgrown flower beds and grasses, I am reminded that everything has its time and season.  I am thankful for the harvest of sunshine, and flowers. No need for sadness, even gardens need to rest.  I am thankful for the coming fall, and look forward to the winter season that also follows.  Christmas will be here before we know it, and the biggest celebration of all will once again be ours, to honor the Father who made ALL life possible.

Bringing in the SheavesWe faintly hear, we dimly see In differing phrase we pray; But dim or clear, we own in him; The life, the Truth, The way. ~John Greenleaf Whittier

Rose

Sunflower vase

Buzz(agent) & Beyond to the rescue!

Buzz & Beyond.....To the Rescue
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I joined the Bzz campaign for PURINA BEYOND NATURAL PET FOODS and recieved my package on June 28th.  With much anticipation, my furry canine “Blue” shared in the excitement, when I retrieved my package at the mailbox from BzzAgent. I wish I could have a twenty-four hour surveillance on this little guy, because I don’t think anyone would believe his antics as they are told.

So, with Blues’ tail a waggin, I hurried & opened the brown corrugated box to see what would be revealed inside. A generous 3 LB package sample of Purina Beyond, “Adventure” (Grain Free ~ Tuna & Egg Recipe) Natural Dog food, and two $3 money savings coupons.

Since it was late in the day, Blue had already eaten, so reluctantly, he had to wait until the following day to start the switch to Beyond. I began to slowly transition him to his new food, although, judging by his reaction, it will not be an issue. He gobbled his poultry and tuna up without hesitation. I gave him one kibble as a treat, and to let him know what was going into his bowl. Then, he started jumping up and down while I filled his bowl on my counter top.

As I read the package label, I am pleased that Beyond is thinking of the good health of my pet (and yours). Knowing that they use NO artificial flavors, NO artificial colors OR Preservatives in their dog food, makes me feel confident about feeding Beyond to my special family member…and better too, knowing that it is All Natural and Grain free. Bluey has so far made it several days without any severe issues. (No diarrhea, but does have some stinky gas….I am hoping that will subside). He remains excited as of yet to his feeding times!

#gotitfree
#PurinaBeyond
#Naturalpetfood

Let the taste take your dog to infinity....and Beyond.

Let the taste take your dog to infinity….and Beyond.

Through my window : A Poem

Through my window countrypkin.wordpress.com
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Through my window……my eyes can see
Flowers growing……blowing leaves.

Trees that reach……into the sky
Flying birds……passing by.

Cats that wander ……Dogs that bark
Children’s laughter from the park.

Mowers mowing ………Ponds that glisten
Grown kids talking……Parent’s listening.

In the distance…..I can hear
Airplane’s engines……getting near.

Sounds of silence……..No one’s home
Just you and me……The kids are grown.

Out the door……..No time for us
Grand kids one day………we have to trust.

Wishing, hoping……Time stood still
But time goes forward…………It’s God’s will.

Through my window ~ by Pamela K.

 

Beefsteak Charlie 1

My first Tomato Harvested
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Tomatoes are one of the simplest of vegetables that one can grow. Providing the right conditions, (including water, sun, soil, and enough attention from the gardener);  you will have yourself eating a BLT with your very own fresh tomatoes in about 60-90 days.  Even at my age, planting tomatoes, is a first for me…..I have a looong way to go to become an expert vegetable gardener who offers up advice. This post is purely about  my experience.

 The best place to seek God is in a garden . You can dig for him there. ~George Bernard Shaw

I planted a seedling a little over two months ago, having no idea if vegetables will work with my soil type. Tennessee has more rocks than dirt in my neck of the woods., so I did NOT take the time to prepare the soil, nor did I make a decent garden bed. \Shame on me/ I figured, if this one plant survives and produces, then next year I will make a proper garden elsewhere in my yard.

I dubbed my first seedling “Beefsteak Charlie 1“. I’ve been checking daily for it’s progress, and with each growth spurt, I have been pleasantly surprised and tickled pink. Often times I have a childlike enthusiasm and I tend to flip out over the simplest of things. (insert big cheesy grin here !) :D

About 1 week old tomato

I have been watching the leaves grow on BC1, from one leaf into three, four and so on. Seeing little yellow flowers grow on the stems and wondering what they were and if it was normal or not. I have been giddy with excitement from the first teenie tiny tomato which was about the size of a straight pin head.

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. ~Mirabel Osler

As BC1 matures, his shape is nice and round, but his green stalk/vine is rather leggy. Not as many leaves as I had thought, and not very bushy as I have seen in other gardens. Perhaps it is because I planted BC1 in front of a fence which gives him a bit of shade. (not smart on my part). Next year, I will hopefully remedy that mistake, and plant my tomatoes in full sun. Live and learn.

Approximately 3 weeks old

3 weeks old

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. ~W.E. Johns

Beefsteak Charlie1 on the rise

Turning red

Super Simple Tomato Marker made from a (recycled) plastic lid and a Twig, using Acrylic (color) Paints and Clear Krylon sealer paint.

Super Simple  Tomato Marker made from a (recycled) plastic lid and a
Twig, using Acrylic (color) Paints and Clear Krylon sealer paint.

Double Tomato

Picken my first Tomato 7-16-14

Picken my first Tomato 7-16-14

Today I harvested my very first Tomato. Although small, it must’ve been ready, because it came off in my hand as I was checking it’s firmness on the stem. It may have come off too soon. It does have a little pale (orangey) color on the backside to it yet, so I will let it sit on the window sill for a day or so to fully ripen. It should be a deeper, brighter red., in my opinion.

Beefsteak Charlie 1  debut 7-16-14 Black Eyed Susan,  Moonbeam Coreopsis, & Russian Sage  Pitcher Vase made in Italy

Beefsteak Charlie 1
Black Eyed Susan, Moonbeam Coreopsis, & Russian Sage
Pitcher Vase made in Italy

Once the tiny tomato formed from the flower, it took a little over 30 days to produce a somewhat ripened tomato ~ give or take a few days. In the mean time, BC1 gave me a chance to learn how to use a makeshift photo box, for better photos of my smaller objects. (Thank you Pinterest)! Now I just have to remember to use my good camera instead of the convenience of using my cell phone……what a difference it makes!
Happy Gardening .

My first Tomato Harvested

My first Tomato Harvested

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination. ~Mrs. C.W. Earle

 

Angel. A kitten of any other name, just wouldn’t be the same.

Angel would only climb trees if I was nearby.
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I once lifted a lifeless, near frozen kitten out from under a wooden step. His mother had refused to feed him and left him trapped under our back porch deck. For several days he was under the deck. I never imagined a mother could abandon her baby like that, but she did. I only assumed, and had hoped that she had been taking care of him. I was wrong. She had left him to die.

A baby is born with a need to be loved – and never outgrows it. ~ Frank A. Clark

The tiny kitten, had somehow managed to crawl himself under the connecting porch step which was sealed in front, top and sides (basically it was like a box with a sealed lid). I heard his cries getting softer. At first, I had hoped that the mother’s intuition would kick in, and she would finally nurse her sickly sounding baby. She never did. It had gotten quiet, and I could barely hear a sound. I thought I had to be mistaken. I ran over to the step, and listened. Nothing. My heart started to race with panic. Did I wait too long? I hollered into the house, for my husband to get his crowbar. I needed him to pry the step apart.

Love unlocks doors and opens windows that weren’t even there before. ~Mignon McLaughlin

My own heart skipped a beat, as I saw the baby kitten through a tiny crack that was made from the crowbar. He wasn’t breathing. In mere seconds, the top board was off. I reached in and picked his hardening, and ice cold, lifeless body out from the step. Was I too late? Please God, no, (I prayed over and over in my head). I refused to let him pass from this life. I refused to let him die.

I carried him inside the house, and grabbed a few kitchen dish towels. I heated the towels in the microwave for 15 seconds each, and wrapped them around this kitten. I did this “every five minutes” for the next four and a half hours. I held him in my arms, while sitting on the couch (semi watching tv), and talking to him and to God. With each trip to the microwave, I hugged him close to my chest. The towels warmed my hands, while thawing his tiny body. I was determined, I wasn’t prepared to stop. That is, until slowly, a tiny, furry white arm, reached out from under a towel, as if to say ‘alright, I’m alive, stop it with the hot towels already!’

With God all things are possible. Mat. 19:26

In that moment, I felt one of the greatest feelings I have ever felt. I saved a life. I felt as if God himself had done his work, through me. It was beyond amazing. It was itself, a miracle. My eyes teared up. I was overwhelmed. with joy, with relief, and also with a sadness that I could finally let go. I no longer had to feel sorrow. I didn’t need to because he did not die. For a few minutes I felt like a hero. It was pretty cool. My micro waved towels idea – they worked. But wait, it wasn’t just me…..it was really my prayers that had been answered. That’s what worked. Ultimately, that is what healed him. Without further thought, I had found a name come rushing to my mind. I called my little kitten “Angel”.

Nursing "Angel" back to health

Nursing “Angel” back to health

Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much perfoms much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

In the days following, I began to nurse him back to health. He wasn’t the ’prettiest’ to look at, at first as some might‘ve thought. He had teary eyes and looked a little sickly. He almost died after all! My “Angel” was not stunted in any way, from his moments (technically hours) of death. Over a time, he grew to a normal size. He was quite healthy, although he did have an occasional bout of lazy eye, and he was a little deaf. I would stomp on the ground when I wanted to get his attention. A couple of thumps on the sidewalk and Angel would come running from around the corner, always happy to see me. Always full of energy and spunk. He was my little pal. He was so cute. So cuddly soft, and the whitest of white thick fur with patches of orange stripe. And did I say cute? Yes, he was adorable. He really was….lazy eye and all. His lazy eye was kind of funny at times and the hubby dubbed him “Chico”!

Angel on road to recovery

Angel on road to recovery

Like a Mom, I taught Angel how to climb a tree, just as I did his brothers and sisters before him. He followed me around the yard, while I watered flowers, pulled weeds and took pictures etc. He was learning. Learning about me, as much as learning about himself. He learned what he could and could not do. He also made friends with his once estranged brothers and sisters. Angel and his Mom bonded once he was well again. His Mom, Callie, tended to give Angel the cold shoulder, but on so many occasions I caught her tenderly grooming him, and then holding/hugging him during naps. If Angel happened to “ignore” his mom, she would taunt him with her tail, until he played with her.

omma Callie & Angel taking a nap

Momma Callie & Angel taking a nap

He became best buds with our outside yellow Lab. Angel and Jake routinely slept together…..that is, Jake, (often reluctantly), allowed Angel to sleep on top of him. (I had many photos of the two, but as of this writing, I sadly cannot locate them on my computer. If I find them later on, I will edit and add them).

Angel would only climb trees if I was nearby.

Angel would only climb trees if I was nearby.

Angel and a Thistle. (She loved to pose!)

Angel and a Thistle. (She loved to pose!)

Angel was always rubbing into our Labs’ face…somewhat annoying him, perhaps getting fur on his nose…..getting Jake to stand up and move…..over and over again. It was Angels’ little game. Angel was a very active, and playful two year old. He paled around with me, Jake (and the other cats) for about 2 years. That is, until one day, he just disappeared.

Angel

Angel

Angel was never one to leave my yard. He was always here. He ’never’ went beyond the fence he sat on…..unless I carried him. He would always stop short, as if there was an imaginary boundary telling him to stay put. It has been over a year now since he disappeared. I like to believe, that a traveling salesman picked Angel up and kept him to be his own pet, because the guy thought our cat was cool (that was the last time I saw him). I am hoping also, that he is still playing with someone else’s dog and sleeping on them too, like he had done with our lab. It is a much better thought, than the alternative.

I loved that little kitten that I rescued from under the wooden step, and I love & will remember the fun, happy, playful cat that he grew to be. I also know that I will see him again to, after all…. he is my little “Angel”

In Remembrance.

In  Remembrance of you Angel, wherever you are. <3

In Remembrance of you Angel, wherever you are. <3

If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.