Archive for January, 2017

A Most Delightful Afternoon

I have these cousins, well actually we are my third and a half cousins, who are very special and this afternoon I was invited to join them for a visit at their ladies annual sewing retreat as they are in the Gum Springs (my) area this year. Every year they choose a different state and location.


Back: Emily, June, Me-Pat, Julia, Polly

Front: Coleen, Margaret, Barbara

The eight gals, who I refer to as the Heatwole sisters, along with their mother who is 91, get together once a year for ten days to sew.  Yes, sew. They gather from Georgia, Texas, Delaware and Virginia with their sewing machines, irons, tables, sewing projects and set up shop at a “retreat area” to visit, laugh, reminiscence, sew, quilt and even check out a few of the local eateries and thrift stores.  Their sister, Sheila from Alabama, was not with them this year and sister-in-law, Cheryl, from Harrisonburg, came later in the week. Through out the week various daughters and granddaughters come for varying lengths of time.

Margaret, the matriarch, is very industrious for her age. She can still sew up a storm and this week was busy making potholders. Margaret’s artistic eye has been passed on to her daughters who are professional quilter designers and fabric artists.  She has painted china, many pictures and even a mural on a wall in her house. And I was impressed with her use of technology. This lady may walk with a cane but she knows how to use her ipad!


 She showed me how she made these beautiful, soft potholders. Tucked in between the layers of cloth and batting was a heat resistant sheet. She sewed lines across the pads maybe half an inch apart and then took scissors and cut the top layer of material the entire length.  After they were washed and dried the raw edges were soft and fuzzy.


June was working on finishing a Dresden Plate quilt that came from her husband’s side of the family in the late 1800’s. All the pieces were hand stitched together and in excellent condition. What a treasure to preserve this piece of family history.



Another of June’s handiwork: Hummingbird wall hanging.



I was really partial to this quilted wall hanging by June. I love photographing sunsets and this quilt was almost as pretty as the real thing!


I thought these three wall hangings by June were exquisite-and no, she will not sell them!!!!  The design pieces were laid on a background piece and stitched with a million stitches!!! There were rows and rows of machine stitches going horizontal and vertical as close together as you could stitch. The texture of these quilts begs to be lovingly touched.

Coleen is one year older than me and she was my pal when our families got together. Here she is pictured with her mother, showing the lovely pillow covers she was working on for each of her children. The brightly colored pieces of velveteen were stunning and each square was framed with fancy embroidery stitching giving it an elegant finish.img_2369


Another project of Coleen was a series of small quilts using her dad’s (on left) and father-in-law’s (on right) shirts. She plans to also do one using scraps from her mother and mother-in-law’s dresses.

Julia is an “artistic quilter” and loves to recreate a quilt from a photograph or design an abstract quilt such as the sun rays in the picture below. She is a blogger (Life As a Quilter) and has received wide-spread recognition for her handiwork.



One of Julia’s traditional quilts she is working on.


A quilt Julia is making for one of her grandsons.

Just an interesting note for the Powhatan folks…. Julia supplied the cotton seed planted in the historical garden at the courthouse a year or so ago. She and her husband raise cotton in Georgia and I wrote to her asking how we could get ahold of a few seeds. She generously gave us some!

Polly and I both share someone very special. She is grandma to little Jase (my great-nephew)  that I occasionally write about who has SMA.  One of Polly’s creative works of art was a butterfly wall quilt. It is made with lots and lots of small rectangle pieces strategically laid side by side. She also is a blogger and her writings can be read at Pollythepatchworker.



One of Polly’s projects begging to become something special.

Barbara is a quilt designer, author and teacher. She has a website, Delightful Piecing, where you can see her schedule, purchased her books and view her gallery of pictures. She was working on a beautiful soft, natural colored quilt for one of her children’s wedding.



Emily was working on a “Moo Cow” quilt using multi-sized, multi-colored bits and pieces strategically laid together to form the picture. Each tiny piece of fabric had adhesive on the back and was carefully ironed into place when she had obtained the desired look.



Another view of “Moo Cow”.

Katina, Coleen’s daughter, showing me her flannel quilt.


Several other of the next generation gals were there-but I failed to get their names. One  was working on a leaf quilt with rich, rustic fall colors and another was working on a princess dress-up outfit for her daughter.

These pictures only represent a portion of their work this week.  There were quilts folded on chairs, laid out on the floor, stashed in bags and containers under the tables. Let me tell you, these Heatwole sisters know how to quilt and how to do it fun!



Finished projects:

I snitched from their fb posts some pictures of the finished projects I have featured above. Their personal fb posts reflect many more projects and I suspect their blogs will have lots of pictures soon. Enjoy….!!!









A New Morning


This was the view from my kitchen window this morning. Wow! Doesn’t it make you think of God and what a wonderfully awesome, magnificent Creator we are privileged to serve and worship?

Usually I do not get to see gorgeous sunrises as the tree line blocks the view, leaving me to see only the colorful fringes of the glow.  From the look this morning, it must be falling weather big time! Remember the saying, “Red in the morning, sailors take warning, red at night, sailors delight.” Did you know that is biblical?  When religious leaders came to Jesus demanding a sign in the heavens to test him, he gave them an object lesson using God’s weather forecasting sign that is displayed in the sky each day.

He (Jesus) replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’, and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. (Matthew 16:2-3 NIV)

This morning God quietly splashed across the eastern sky a reminder that it is a new morning, a new day, a new beginning, a new chance, a new opportunity, maybe even a new season. Will I embrace it? What am I going to do with it?

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. (Psalms 143:8, New Living Translation)

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV)

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised. (Psalms 113:3, KJV)

Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. (Psalms 65:8, New Living Translation)

There are mornings when joy does not spring forth from my lips. I face the day with dread and don’t want to face what is before me. There are days when the future looks overwhelming sad, hard or complicated. On those days can I say, “God, I trust you and I praise you. Your love and faithfulness will be as sure as the sun rose this morning.  I know you love and will not fail me even if it doesn’t go like I want it to go.” Will I choose to embrace the day with thankfulness? Will I choose to see the goodness of His day and walk in it?

Today is a new morning and a new day. Like the Psalmist I say, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24

“10,000 Reasons” (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman is one of my favorite praise songs and it expresses my sentiment so elegantly. Enjoy!

A Little Push From Behind


The snow this past weekend made our driveway very icy and slick. The 7 plus inches of snow was light and fluffy but underneath it soon became a sheet of ice. Gene scraped the driveway but because of the frigid cold and very little sun it did not melt, just developed a hard, slick glaze.  Our store is located down a hill just past the house. We had several tractor trailers in on Monday and they needed a little boost to make it back up the hill as they were leaving.


I saw it as a good illustration of our journey in life.  How many times have I needed a little “push from behind” to get something accomplished, achieve a goal or survive a difficult challenge?

When I was around six, I became the proud owner of my first bicycle.  The excitement soon was replaced by fear but with a little push from behind I soon accomplished riding on just two wheels!

When I was in the fourth grade, the teacher called me into a conference room for a little talk. She needed to know my version of what I had witnessed in an incident involving another girl. I lied to protect my friend and the teacher knew I was lying. She asked me if I wanted her to call my mother. Absolutely not! That little push from behind made me confess the truth and I have been very careful with truth telling ever since.

When I was a young adolescence, the Sunday School superintendent would ask at the beginning of the year how many had read their Bible all the way through the past year. Two very quiet, older women who had very little education always raised their hand.  I noticed and it so touched me that I wanted to be like them.  That little push from behind has motivated me to have disciplined daily Bible reading as I have read through the Bible 40 plus times.

Back in the early 90’s, I was asked to lead the Sunday School department at our church and to be in charge of children’s worship. There was no way I could see myself doing that especially having to follow the lady who very successfully had done it for a number of years with a big children’s musical. I said, “no” but with a little push from behind finally accepted and the following years were a delightful highlight of ministry for me.

In 1978, we experienced the devastating illness and death of our five-month old daughter. During her time at MCV hospital, we were faced with many decisions and questions. One evening in the midst of a very difficult time, our local family doctor called to just check on “us” and let us know he cared and had heard about what we were going through. I poured/cried out my heart to him and when I was done he said, “Just remember, Keith (1-1/2 year old) needs a mommy, but Karla needs a nurse.” That was the push from behind I needed to say no, we can’t bring Karla home from the hospital with a roomful of medical equipment and round-the-clock care.  Oh, the peace that came from that loving, gentle push from someone who dared to see the bigger picture.

About a year after our second son died from the same genetic illness as our daughter, our Sunday School class at church decided to help a family who had just moved to Powhatan and had two Cystic Fibrous daughters. The “motivator” behind the service/care project decided I needed to go see this couple. I honestly wanted nothing to do with them. I did not want to be involved with more sick and dying children. The “motivator” pushed and pushed and finally I agreed to take a meal.  I fell in love with the couple and we became instant best friends. That big shove from behind led to one of the most endearing, God-sent friendships for my husband and I and numerous other opportunities to walk hand-in-hand with grieving families.

In 2011, I had a customer/friend who kept telling me I needed to write a blog about life on the farm. I wasn’t sure I had anything worthwhile to say but she kept assuring me I did!  With her little push from behind, I bravely posted my first blog on January 8, 2012.  Five years,  256 blog posts and 90,255 views later, I am hooked and you are stuck with me!

We never know what a word of encouragement will do for someone who had a little hill in front of them to climb or maybe even a mountain. Sometimes the greatest comes from those who thought they couldn’t.  Sometimes an unforeseen opportunity happens for those not looking.  Sometimes your life passion is unknowingly spurred by another. Sometimes you can’t see over the fence because your nose is pressed against the planks.

I believe the hand of God directs our “push”, bringing people into our lives to encourage, support, direct and give us wisdom. We may never know what a kind, encouraging word can do to help another. That push from behind just may be the stabilizing force that keeps someone from skidding off the cliff or careening down the mountainside.

Thank you to all who have and will “push me from behind”.

A Snowy Weekend

I love the beauty and quietness of snow but for a farmer it means lots of extra work in the cold, raw weather.  Rain, snow, cold or shine, the cattle need to be fed.  Gene is very grateful for tractors with cabs.


After the snow melts, we can look forward to MUD; lots and lots of squishy, soggy mud! Snow is beneficial to the soil as it is a natural source of nitrogen. Have you noticed how green the grass is after snow melts?  The freezing and thawing also helps to soften the soil.

Snow cancels plans, slows life down and makes extra work for some.  On Saturday the store traffic was reduced to a few brave men in their four-wheel drive trucks.img_2218

Church was cancelled today and we had to change our plans about traveling to a family reunion in Harrisonburg. Instead Gene’s work increased tenfold; feeding cows, thawing water, scraping the driveway (we need to be able to get 2 tractor trailers in and out tomorrow), protecting his equipment from freezing, and filling the wood furnace (I helped with this some).



Gene says it is exhausting just to tote an extra forty pounds of coat, coveralls, boots, etc. around!

For me snow is a mixture of beauty, a little extra work, sleeping in a little longer than normal, taking pictures, resisting or yielding to the urge to bake, make soup and play board games.  The automatic waterers in the chicken house froze and I had to tote water to my little ladies. I made party mix and resisted the almost irresistible urge to make doughnuts or apple fritters. I knew neither one of us should (diabetic) or needed (watching weight) to eat them. You can’t make them and not eat them!  The grandkids came over this afternoon and Emily, Lauren and I played board games;  “Settlers of Catan” and “Ticket to Ride”.

They say that no two snowflakes are alike. That blows my mind to think of the millions and millions of tiny and uniquely different icy flakes piling up outside.  Isn’t God amazing!

The brightness and whiteness of the sun shining on newly falling snow is blinding. While we are talking about God, did you know he speaks about snow in the Bible, his Word?

  • “Though your sins are red as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Isaiah 1:18
  • “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalms 51:7
  • “His countenance was like lightning and his raiment white as snow.” Matthew 28:3

The first two verses are talking about our sins and when they are forgiven they are as blinding white as snow with the sun shining on it. Dazzling! The third verse refers to Jesus appearance just after he resurrected from the tomb. The guards who were protecting the tomb shook with fear and fell to the ground as dead men.

Through the lens of my camera….taken from the warmth of my house!





Mid-morning on Sunday the cows came out of the woods where they were bedded down and stood with their faces to the warm morning sun.




7-1/4 inches



Monday follow-up……

This morning it was a very cold 0 degrees outside. It was a cloudy overcast day and the temperature stayed in the teens. Even though the driveway was scraped yesterday it did not melt. It actually became very slick. We got the two tractor trailers in and out today with a little push from behind. This French man from Canada didn’t speak much English and had a hard time understanding what Gene wanted to do but I think he was happy with the help with the hill.



Smoked Sausage


The past several years my folks have given us homemade smoked sausage for Christmas. It is a special, unique treat that is a ‘throw back” to my childhood days when we butchered our own hogs. This year I decided to ask mother how she makes it.

Mother sews up tube “socks” from unbleached muslin cloth.  She cuts the material 10 inches wide and then doubles the material to make it 5 inches wide and 18- 24″ long.  They stuff the sausage into the tubes as tight as they can, tie the end shut with twine and coat the outside of the cloth sack with lard. Mother said she drops little balls or hunks of sausage into the tubes and daddy squeezes and stuffs it as tight as he can. She lets them hang 3-4 weeks in a cold room to cure before they are ready to eat.  I cured mine in the refrigerator.  After I opened the sack, I cut the sausage into patties and froze them in ziplock bags in the freezer. The tube below I cut into twelve patties.


Now that my folks no longer butcher,  they go to their local grocery where they can order “bulk” seasoned sausage. Mother said she adds 3 T. liquid smoke and an additional 1-1/4 tsp. salt to five pounds of sausage. Each sack holds approximately 4 pounds.  She said if you use fresh, unseasoned sausage, add sausage seasoning of your choice.


I bake the patties in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour and serve with fried eggs, applesauce and toast.  This sausage has its own unique flavor and was a very special treat when we were growing up.

A Week of Cyber Silence

For one whole week, yes that is seven whole days, we had no internet service. Our trusty pal, Verizon, moved with malware infected speed to fix the problem.

It started last Monday about the middle of the morning when we discovered we could not connect with cyber world.  With a business this is tough!!!  Suddenly we could not process credit card sales, download invoices from vendors, retrieve documents from Dropbox or send orders by email.

I became first-name friends with tech support guru’s with hard to understand accents. I tried not to get frustrated with their endless questions and trouble shooting maneuvers I had trouble understanding. After all, they were just trying to help me. The earliest a technician could arrive on site was on Thursday, in four days.  Their response to my pleas that I am a business and need help was, “I am so sorry, but that is as soon as anyone is available”.  And no, they assured me, there was no problem in our area even though numerous of our customers were having the same issues at the same time and Verizon’s own  online recording for you to listen to while on hold waiting for help was “if you live in the areas of Chesapeake, Maryland and 18th street in New York you may be experiencing wide-spread outage and they are working on it.” Incidentally, this same recording is still playing one week later! Finally, they decided to send me a modem instead of a technician.

The new modem was to be delivered before 4 p.m. on Thursday. At 4 p.m. sharp on Thursday I was on the phone with Verizon informing them that the modem had not arrived. And, would you believe, they had no record that a modem had been issued or shipped to me. But, they would be happy to ship one immediately!!! The next day the “no record” modem arrived and the day after a second one! I hooked up the new modem and the ominous red DSL light still blinked and the internet light stayed dark.

Again, I call Verizon. Now the earliest they could send a technician was in another four days;  Monday, January 2, between 8-9 a.m. I guess all the techs must be in Chesapeake and Maryland! About 11 this morning a technician finally arrived and several hours later I was connected back to cyber world. The problem was not at our location-which I had figured out, but on the main line. Somehow the line had lost all its “programing” and had to be reformatted.

When going through something like this you realize how totally dependent we and the world has become on the internet. (This is a scary fact). I could use my cell phone to check the news, email and fb but I could not get the invoices I needed as my cell phone didn’t support the programs I needed nor could I print. I had to go borrow a “connected” computer. I stepped back in time and sent orders by fax and rerouted my credit card machine to use the “slow” phone line.  For better or for worse we survived. But let me tell you, a week is a long time to be down and I did not like it.


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