Thursday, December 19, 2013

Because of Love

(This story exists in different forms.  Snopes states that original author is Reverand David L. Griffith who penned the story in 1998 or 1999 when he was the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Utica, Oklahoma.  It was part of a series of sermons he presented on the value of keeping old things.  I think we should cherish the old things too.  I am reprinting this story here because I love it.  For me, it represents Christmas and what I think about as part of this special time of year).  I've posted it before a few years ago, but it's such a beautiful and touching story that I wanted to share it again.  I hope you don't mind.


The young couple had made their usual hurried pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small heard of goats.  The farm had been named Lone Pine Farm becuase of the huge pine which topped the hill behind the farm and through the years had become a talisman to the old man and his wife and a landmark in the countryside.   
The old folks no longer showed their goats for the years had taken their toll, but they sold a little milk and a few kids each year.  And the goats were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end.  

Crossly, as they prepared to leave, the young people confronted the old folks:  "Why do you not at least dispose of the Old One?  She is no longer of use to you.  It's been years since you've had either kids or milk from her.  You should cut corners and save where you can.  Why do you keep her anyway? "  The old man looked down as his worn boot scuffed at the barn floor and his arm stole defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her to him and rubbed her gently behind the ears.  He replied softly, "We keep her because of love.  Only because of love."   Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley. 

So it was that because of the leave taking, no one noticed the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn.  None saw the first spark fall, none but the Old one.  In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames  were licking at the loft full of hay.   With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved goats.  But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back.  He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left -- and the old man and his wife.  They thanked those who had come to their aid.  And the old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulder as he clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana.  Brokenly, he whispered, "We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas.  Let us, therefore, climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair.  We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared."

And so he took her by the hand and helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his hand.  As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they looked up and gasped in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.  Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine.  And it was aglow with heavenly candles, and poised on its topmost bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass.  Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this.  Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of  wonder and incredible joy as he pulled his wife forward.  There, beneath the tree, was their Christmas gift.

Bedded down about the Old One,  close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.  At the first hint of smoke, she  had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the goats through it.  Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping daintily through the snow.  The kids were frightened and dashed about.  The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames and hoped like rabbits.  The milkers pressed uneasily against the Old One as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine.  And now she lay among them and gazed at the faces of those she loved.  Her body was brittle with years, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift -- because of love.   Only because of love.

(And so, my friends, I hope you all experience many blessings  as we all get ready for the holidays)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow Day

Yesterday we had ice and beautiful ice sculptures.  Today we had snow and a snow day off!!  Wahooo!  I knew there was a reason I loved snow besides the fact that I just love the white stuff.  I slept in, got up late, made coffee and took these great photos.  

By the time I went out to shovel the drive around 2 p.m., most of the snow on the blacktop had melted.  It warmed up and the crepe myrtle lost is frosting mantle.  It was beautiful in the afternoon setting sun.

I heated up the homemade soup I'd made yesterday.  When I looked out the window, this is what I saw, a glorious ending to a beautiful day.  I hope yours was as wonderful as mine.

I just love winter!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Winter Wonderland

It's early December, usually too early for a snowfall here in northern Virginia; but yesterday started out with snow gently falling and covering everything.  As the day progressed, we had freezing rain that covered everything.  When I woke up this morning, it really looked like a twinkling fairyland.  Everything was encased in ice.  

It made the entire landscape look like crystal ornaments.  It's kind of melting now, but they're saying we're due for more snow tonight into tomorrow, anywhere between 3 and 5 inches.  I've already called out for work.  I can't think of anything worse than getting stuck in downtown DC and trying to get home in traffic.  The last time I tried to drive home after it had started snowing, it took me over four hours, a drive that is usually 45 minutes to an hour.  Better safe than sorry.  I hope you're all staying warm, dry, and snug!  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Flowers Everywhere

I took a trip to wine country here in Loudoun County last week and remembered a huge field of Queen Anne's Lace that I had seen about three weeks prior.  I was hoping that the flowers were still blooming and I had to stop and take some photos.  The flowers had mostly gone by, but there were still plenty in bloom. 

An old white oak, probably nearing the end of its life.  We've lost a lot of them in the local area.

I also couldn't resist stopping to take some pictures of some bales of hay.

 The road to my dreams

 A pretty stand of bamboo

Another beautiful white oak.  This one still alive.

 I also saw this family of deer feeding in a meadow.  

And finally the real beauty here in Virginia

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Want a Pickle With That

I definitely wanted a Pickle with that, which is why I have a new birdy baby at my house.  Meet Pickle.  He's only about 8 weeks old.  I bought him from a breeder in Maryland who hand fed and hand tamed him.  He's still in the "stranger-danger" phase, but he's getting used to me and letting me take him out of his cage and put him on my shoulder just to hang out.  In fact, he's hanging out with me right now.  :)

I love his coloring, and he's a healthy little baby.  I'm looking forward to lots of years together with him. Even though he's a little afraid, he hasn't tried to bite me once.  Good boy, Pickle.
Here's my baby sleeping on me.

Isn't he beautiful?

Hanging out with mom

I hope he really gets used to hanging out with me.  I love having a bird again after missing those little birdy sounds the last few weeks.  I was never able to tame my other bird, Binks, even though I loved her.  Having a baby that's hand fed makes such a difference.  Even though he's a little skittish, he'll sit step up and let me take him out of the cage after just a few tries.  Love my baby Pickle.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


When I got home from work today, I found my Binks at the bottom of her cage.  She had died sometime while I was gone.  She was such a little sunbeam in my life, a funny and happy little soul, full of herself despite her small size. She was so smart and loved to play with her toys.  The more I laughed, the more she loved it.  I will miss her so much.  Goodbye my little friend, 'til we meet again at the Bridge.   

She was just a little budgie girl
No bigger than my hand
She left me unexpectedly
In a fluff of feathers curled

My heart was hers
She made me laugh
My darling little bird

Friday, February 15, 2013


Dreams are funny things.  I sometimes wonder if they are portents of things to come or things that we wish were true.  I ride a van pool to work, and last night I dreamed that I rode a tricycle from my home to the commuter lot and back home again.  At one point, I was riding home and noticed some beautiful flowers in a field off the road and thought. I need to bring my kids out here to see these flowers before they're gone.  They looked like bluebells.  When I got home, though, I realized that I didn't know where I'd put my purse.  But, logically, I remembered that I had left my purse with my cell phone in it at home because there was nowhere to hold my purse on the tricycle I was riding.  

The strange part was that the house was a place that we had just moved into somewhere in the country.  The tricycle I was riding was child sized when I looked at it. but fit me just right while I was riding.  And when I was riding, I was able to go just as fast as the cars around me.  How weird is that?!  

Dreams are funny, funny things.  They make me wonder what it all means when I wake.  But while I sleep, they are beautiful, unfathomable, and times of endless magic.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you're having a wonderful Valentine's Day spending time with the people you love who make your life full and satisfying.  I've always loved those red, decorated, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates that they sell for this holiday.  Corny, I know.  I just think their romantic.  

On this day in 1990, after traveling through space for 13 years, Voyager 1 was directed to turn its camera back toward the planets from a distance of more than 6 billion kilometers (4 billion miles).  When it sent the photos back to earth, there was a photo of our planet clearly visible.  Carl Sagan called it the "pale, blue dot."  Here we are, as Carl said, "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."  He uses the opportunity to  entreat all of us to be more kind, more loving and to do everything we can to preserve this fragile place we call home.  He's one of my heroes.  He had the ability to explain even the most complex things so that anyone could understand them and, what's more, understand the significance of what he was talking about.

Incredibly, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are still operational 35 years later and are the farthest human-made objects in existence, still transmitting data back to us from 18.5 and 15.2 billion kilometers away.  Amazing, isn't it?  Let's love each other and extend that love to our beautiful earth and cherish and realize the beauty that we sometimes take for granted every day.  If we lose those things, we lose everything.  

Have a great ♥ day everyone!

Pale blue dot image with a wider field of view to show more background

Carl said it best:

"From this distant vantage point, the earth might not seem of any particular interest.  But for us, it's different.  Consider again that dot.  That's here.  That's home.  That's us.  On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.  The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. . . .

"The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.  Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.  Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner.  How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.  Our posturings, our imagined self importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe are challenged by this point of pale light.  Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.  In our obscurity - in all this vastness - there is no hint that help will come from somewhere else to save us from ourselves.

"The earth is the only world known so far to harbor life.  There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate.  Visit, yes.  Settle, not yet.  Like it or not, for the moment, the earth is where we make our stand.  It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience.  There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.  To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, our only home we've ever known."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Putting the Past Behind Me

When my marriage fell apart in 2006, I tried to move on and thought the best way to do that would be to buy a little home of my own.  I loved my little house.  Not long after I moved in, I was offered a job up here in Washington DC and realized that if I ever hoped to retire and be able to support myself, I needed to make more money to contribute toward my retirement.  I've been up here since 2008 and have been renting out my little house in NC since I left.  I thought I'd be able to retire and move back in three years, but having done a quick check of my retirement annuity, I see that's not possible.  The stress of being a landlord is not worth holding onto my house especially since I'll probably have to work for at least another three to four years.  I'm ready to sell it and move past and get on to the next chapter of my life.  

Unfortunately, just as I was getting ready to put it on the market, the roof leaked and I found out I had to have the roof replaced.  I had to have the ceiling fixed where the roof leaked into the plaster ceiling and in the process, found out I have no insulation in the attic.  I also found out that now I have to repaint all of the trim because my dumb a** tenants splotched oil paint over every place there must have been a mark of any kind - basically, all the doors and the trim in the house.  The paint has now yellowed and has left huge yellow blobs over the rest of the white trim.  I'm so demoralized at this point.  Every time I think the house is ready to go, something else crops up.  

I'm hoping that once I sell the house, I'll be able to put aside some money and if I need to replace my 13-year-old car, I'll be able to afford one.  I'm secretly hoping that my little Honda will keep on keeping on for another couple of years.  Meanwhile I'm crossing my fingers that nothing else goes wrong and I can find a buyer before any other gremlins come along that are going to cost me more money before I can put it on the market.  

Did I say de-moralized?  I mean de-pressed, de-spirited, just wanting to bury my head in the blankets and say enough already!  

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Last year, I went to a fiber festival that included herding trials.  The event was held at Montpelier Station.  Montpelier is the historic home of James and Dolly Madison.  The country is beautiful out that way.  I was hoping to meet up with a friend from Maine but we were never able to connect.  I did, however, get to see and meet lots of Border Collies and watch them herd sheep.  These dogs were amazing.  They waited patiently next to their handlers while waiting for the sheep to be let loose in small groups of three or four.  

They make their outrun to the sheep.  Once the sheep become aware of the dog's presence behind them, it's a term called "lifting" the sheep.  The dog then fetches the sheep, driving them toward the handler.  Sometimes they are asked to "drive" the sheep, pushing them upfield away from the handler and through a different set of gates.  The dog has to crossdrive the sheep through a second set of gates and then fetch them back to the handler so they can be penned.  

The dogs don't actually chase the sheep in the pen but gets them as close to the opening of the pen as possible without scattering them so the handler can get them into the pen.  They normally use a crook or staff of some kind to guide the sheep in.  And of course, it's difficult because the sheep, who are prey animals, are doing everything they can to avoid the danger.  

Watching the dogs work was mesmerizing.  I could have stayed all day and never got tired of watching them herd.  They love it too.  Their focus and concentration is on those sheep and doing what they do best.  Here are some photos of these amazing and intelligent dogs.

Fetching the sheep

Sweet young girl waiting her turn

Crossdriving the sheep

Driving the sheep

Penning the sheep

Pure concentration while waiting their turn.  The only other dog that was not a border collie was the sweet bearded collie named James.

James, 11 years old, waiting with his handler.

I can easily see how addicting this could become.  Working with your dog while doing what he was bred and loves to do.  Simple words for such a satisfying and fulfilling activity.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Love the World

I listened to an interview today on NPR between Terry Gross and author, illustrator, Maurice Sendak.  What a touching, meaningful piece.  Mr. Sendak talks about how he has grown to appreciate old age and what a blessing it is to finally have the time to read the books, to appreciate people, to love nature and the beauty around us.  If you have a chance to listen to it, I believe you will be as moved as I was to hear the emotion during this poignant interview.  Here's a link to NPR's compilation of interviews remembering Mr. Sendak.  He died on May 8, 2012.  He's best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are.

Remembering Maurice Sendak

In a way, I think he is right when he talks about getting older and looking out on nature.  While I've always loved nature and everything that goes with it, I think I appreciate it much more at my age than when I was younger.  My youth was spent in raising children and all that goes along with that.  Those were busy, busy times.  And though I still go to work every day, I have more quiet time to think and reflect on the beauty around me.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't see something wonderful, a hawk circling on the air currents above me, a fox standing in an open field, freshly fallen snow glinting in the moonlight.  There is beauty all around us.  We just have to take the time to slow down and really see what's always right there in front of us, to see extraordinary beauty in ordinary things.

Monday, January 21, 2013

NC Mountains

Last October, I took a weekend trip with my son and his wife to see the fall foliage in Asheville, NC.  I'd never been there, and we had such a great time.  We stayed at a little hotel called Country Inn, and it was very nice.  Their customer service was excellent.  We just happened to be there during a meteor shower and wanted to drive onto the parkway to watch.  The great folks let us have several blankets to take with us since it was pretty chilly up there.  The first night was a bust because it was very foggy on the mountain.  But the second night was perfect, no wind, chilly but clear skies.  We had to wait for Orion to rise, but it was well worth it.  I saw some amazing shooting stars and if you're a stargazer like me, there's no better place to see the night sky than on top of the mountains with no smog, fog, or city lights to hinder your sight.  It was amazing.

We also stopped off to see the Biltmore while we were there.  What an absolutely amazing place.  For you Downton Abby fans, it reminded me of Downtown.  The servants quarters had bells hanging from the wall for the master and mistress to ring down if they needed anything.  The Biltmore had its own generator for electricity, and indoor bowling alley, an indoor pool, and several wings for guests.  The original artwork hanging on the walls is amazing.  

Can you even imagine living in a house this size?

 Some of the gounds at the Biltmore.  They have many gift shops and they even have a winery, where we stopped for a tasting.  Some of the family still live on the estate in small homes.

As you can tell from the photos, it was a magical place.  If you want to do extra activities besides touring the home, they have horseback riding, skeet shooting, touring by jeep, just to name a few.  

I also got the chance to meet up with some friends of mine that I know from a dog discussion group, people I've known for years but never met in person.  We met for dinner and had a great time laughing and talking like we'd spent every weekend together for the last 20 years.  I know I've said this before, but if you have a chance to meet an online friend, go for it.  I've never been disappointed.