The Well We Draw From


I’ve been drowning myself in epic soundtracks this week. The Celtic strains haunt and delight me. They are like the marriage of prayer and song. They are familiar to me, matching a wandering spirit that is always hovering in the background. A slight dissatisfaction deep within. I’m not referring to ingratitude, on the contrary, a thankfulness and truth in the bottom of my soul. I feel born for another world, just here on borrowed time, really. These notes crescendo and filter through our days.  They meld and fit puzzle-piece like into the slowly aching and awakening earth all around me. Not long ago, the senses led our days, a seasonal movement, natural alarm clocks. The rooster, smells of from-scratch-made meals, the animals needing tending, the sounds of farm life awakening. The birds returning, ground slowly thawing, and longer days. Spring is one of rebirth. The following of the agricultural rhythms to life are pretty much a thing of the past. The natural world has it’s own music, one I’m privileged to have close relationship with, by opening my door and stepping out into it. The grand expanse, a small reflection of the life to come.

The poetry we soak in together, books savored, music enjoyed, the sunshine, and blue skies, it is all a five-sense feast of wonder. What of those who live without it, at no fault of their own, especially children? What of those trapped in steel, concrete, and those who never see, hear, or experience one little sip of beauty, nature, or wonder? What of the times I refuse these gifts by “the tyranny of the urgent”, or non-living things of little true importance? The false feeling of doing something important when on Instagram or Twitter.  All we drink from this deep, rich river of living-giving beauty becomes the well we draw from when reality bears down brutally on us. Without these moist depths, our insides shrivel up and die. We also, more importantly, gain an overflow, one that can spill over to those in need with their dry, cracked hearts.

My daughter and I are in a class learning to make 18th century women’s clothing. The learning curve has been steep to stay the least, but again the same strain of music is floating through these moments. A returning to our roots, learning of the American Colonial women, immigrants to this land, what their lives were like. Each stitch, each piece of clothing we make, feels foreign, alien, even. In reality, each piece was important, whether for a small slice of beauty in the woman’s life, or more likely for her heavy work-load. It’s like putting on the skin of someone else, shedding modernism, and becoming part of the land and people who have helped shaped this place in which we live. The hands-on aspect of it also is something of bringing us home, the value in making with one’s own hands. The contemplative posture, the slowness of progress, the appreciation of quality, one of a kind creations, found in this process.

The massive amounts of undergarments, the lovely slate blue floral kerchief tucked into stays, green linen gown and brown petticoat, white cap, and apron all are romanticized in my mind, of course.  There is something about appreciating others, different cultures, and time periods, though. Again, the flutes play, the aching hums along, this beauty quenches that nagging thirst. The ability of this well not to leave us in a static place, in a place dictated by the current stream’s of thought, but one that draws from the whole river of life and time. 

Oh, how I want to stay in this tune of life, waltzing and dancing through it with those around me. Yes, the reality of relationships and life is hard, but if I listen close and keep my toes tapping to this quiet song, this still small Voice, the well will never run dry.







Monday Ponderings {March 12th}


Not in Vain

If I can stop one heart from breaking;

I shall not live in vain:

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.


Emily Dickinson

(Emily’s words sink deep and water thoroughly the soil of my soul. This is it, folks. Humility and love poured out. This is what I’m pondering this week as a mother, wife, and friend.)


Monocles, Maps, and Minutia


Slant snowflakes and slate gray sky, just outside the window. Today was a day of catch-up. I say that everyday around here. Lassoing laundry and slinging sud-soaked dishes was the first order of the day. George Gershwin’s cheery Concerto in F propelled us along. The pellet stove was extra hungry, the smell lingering in the air, not unpleasantly mixing with coffee. The children laugh at me and my Magic Elixir, mmmm, I’m brewing more now.  I must admit, I feel old and worn out with all the questions, hullabaloos, and to-dos. Yet, these beautiful people keep me from rusting, well-oiled am I with six of them. Wonder, amazement, and simplicity are alive and well here, and I have them to thank for that. The last page of a wonderful story was turned today, and how extra bittersweet it was to share it with other kindred spirits. All the dust and crumbs of this life, swirl, crescendo, into a lovely soup-y mix. The snowy boots and little mittens. Sweeping up the spilled sunflower seed, a tromp out to the feeders, a welcome respite. A new poetry book to crack open, the tang of the Emerald Isle air hitting me full salty-spray in the face, Yeats wooing me from afar. Arguing about a sewing project, a daughter recording her dreams on my iPhone, admiring two kerosene lamps from Valentine’s Day past, and not to mention a dirty football on the table, crumpled bits of everything, everywhere. Whispering the fortifying words of Apostle Paul, over and over again, whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Over and over again, I’m astonished that I get to live this life. It’s not romantic at all, in reality. It’s hard work, the same mind-numbing work, over and over again. But looking at it slant, looking at it through a monocle of love, what I see is an amazing journey in miraculous minutia. My back may ache, my right foot has been bothering me, I need a shower, and extra weight hangs around, but here I am. Discussing the American Civil War and Abe Lincoln with a group of interesting and intelligent people. They remind me of differences in the Union and Confederate flag, bring in the battle of Fort Sumter, and chuckle about Davy Crockett. I just sit and soak it all in. I laughed with them as we listen to the Taming of the Shrew, so much to learn through Will, that’s for sure. Good and bad. Heads get bonked, angry tears happen over messes to be cleaned up, and garbage knocked over. Snow ice cream, taco dinner plans, and endless noise. The sibling riots settle and we pour over maps of Africa, searching the web for information on Cameroon’s violence. Our hearts and souls fly upwards and outwards, beyond the walls of our little home, our state, flitting past our U.S. borders, over the ocean, and enter into the wounds and dusty tears of others. Snow is still falling as the evening envelopes us. My green mug is running on empty, my geranium is blooming, and I’m going to light my lamps for dinner.

Another gift unwrapped here and enjoyed. Good night.




Stitching February Farewell


Februa, the Roman goddess of health

Hot showers, ice, soup, stirfrys, stircrazys, wealth

Sewing stays, crocheting hearts, piano practice

Jotted jumbles in journals, bleak blackness

Juncos, woodpeckers, sparrows at windblown feeders

Jane Brocket’s Lemon Cake eaters

Carafes of coffee, book packages, thick socks

St. Valentine’s letters, pencils, chalk

Laundry piles, fix-it piles, snow piles, lore

LEGOS, bits of paper, four stitches more

Up, down, down and up, bloody finger prick

Running, hemming, gray-day stitches, quick

Pen pal letters, loose threads, taxes due

Red quilt of a second month, darn pipes blew

The needle set down, the thread wound away

Glad this year, the 28th, be its very last day.


Dishes and Dreams


The rainbow swirl of greasy film glimmers up at me. A spot of soap makes it shrink away in concentric circles. The bright, scorching light of sun off snow hits my eyes from the little window above the sink. The brightness is a gift this time of year, as is the flicker of candle flame sitting on the sill. Any sort of light offsets the February gray. The smell of the candle intermingles with dish soap, the sudsy, drips hitting the water with a pleasing, soothing sound. Water is so meditative, running through little streams, out of faucets, down crashing falls, dribbling off eves, and bubbling over rocks. A dangerous, beautiful thing. I wash away the vestiges of spaghetti, oatmeal, and frustrations. Meditating on music, movies, and a glance through the window, a Downy Woodpecker at the suet. The rough towel, that’s seen better days, dry in my damp hands, swiping, stacking, closing cupboard door. Shutting out the bitterness, harsh words, washing it all clean, and stacking it away in the forgetting cupboard. Our days are stories, stories that we are putting down in living ink, blood, sweat, and yes, fat drops of salty tears. Silverware jumbles, clanging, the clink, clink of stacked glasses and mugs, building, working through each step of these relationships. Each day of clanks, clinks, and new blocks for the foundation.  I scrub stubborn spots of crusty peanut butter and Nutella, it fading and swirling down into the depths. Just like my children, their childhood, messy, beautiful, and slipping away all too fast, the slurp of the drain licking up the last drop. Dishes that held hot delicious memories of these moments, this twenty-four hours around the sun. Sustenance, conversation, and fruits of one’s hard labor. There’s something so satisfying about dishes and dreams.


Monday Ponderings {January 22nd}


But in reality, the more there was to do the better. I never ceased contriving fresh improvements, being fully aware of the importance of constant employment as a means of strengthening and maintaining the health of mind and body. This, indeed, with a consciousness of continual progress toward a desirable end, is found to constitute the main element of happiness.

The Swiss Family Robinson

Johann Wyss, p.228-229

{I’ve been thinking on this quote since I read it last week. I think there is an important truth in it, especially, now, how leisure and work balance are out of proportion in our culture or at least the lines are blurred. I think especially in American culture, work and productivity are glorified. I was recently talking to a friend about other cultures possibly having a better balance with knowing when to quit working, being willing maybe to have less, in order to have more time to relax. Just wondering out loud here. It is interesting how Wyss depicts the fun the Robinson family had WHILE working together, yet, they never seem to stop working. How does rest play into life? How do we find value in people outside of what they can “produce”? I realize this is a work of fiction and they are in a survival environment where their daily bread, so to speak, must be eked out by the sweat of their own brow. Just interesting to think on in a modern environment. I think one can have TOO much leisure time, and become internal and focused on one’s self…ahem. I also think it’s a mistake to think life is about working, money, and always striving. I have found some of my family, who are from an agricultural, country life background, with large families, definitely lean toward the latter. Yet, they also seem to value family time, but WORKING together tends to be the majority of it. What do you think?}

Dear Friend


Dear Friend, 

It has been such a long time since I last wrote. How are you? We find ourselves in a bit of a grey, snowy landscape, yet not without its pleasures. The sun has been shining, glittering off the white brightness, and the temperatures fluctuating between icy negatives to downright balmy 30-ish degrees fahrenheit. Our dear Phoebe turned SIX years old this week and it’s been a spread-out, quiet-like celebration for the past few days. Just her style. She loved her little felt kitty family we stitched for her and we’ve read through her new book twice already.  She asked for a batch of  scones for her Saturday breakfast. Our first two weeks back to our home learning have been just lovely, albeit a few inevitable back-to-the-books hiccups. “Opportunity” by Edward Sill, Spanish lessons, and a sewing class are just few things we’ve loved. I find myself fighting to enjoy all the beauty in this moment, in this season, yet with an anticipation for the coming of spring. There’s a fine line between contentment and looking forward to something, is there not? The bird feeders have been full and I’ve especially enjoyed the American Goldfinches with their dull grey winter coats on, a hint of their brilliance on the edges. They are so much daintier then the jolly, chubby Juncos.  How is the weather in your area? We’ve enjoyed a winter picnic on a brilliant sunny morning, when the temperature rose a bit. We even attempted tea making by melting snow over a crackling fire. A lovely time of relaxing. The children have ice skated and brought out their sleds, their tracks and paths, crisscrossing the acreage. How is your family doing? Anything new brewing? I’m easing back into some crafting, which has been enjoyable. I set aside some of it two children ago, and now with older ones pitching in, we’ve been able to try our hands at embroidery, painting, and I’m gazing at fabric stacks waiting for a new project. On my book stack, I’m especially slowly savoring The Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Bradbury. It’s definitely a bit weird, but very creative and thought-provoking. This is the first time, in a long while, I’ve enjoyed a collection of short stories. Have you read anything lovely lately? Well, I better close, as I have a birthday lunch to prepare. I’m thinking of a lemon cake for afternoon tea as well. Maybe from my Jane Brocket book. Blessings to you, dear friend, and can’t wait to hear from you soon.

Love & beauty to your day!



{Simple Scones – Allrecipes – I double the recipe. We omit the raisins and I sometimes substitute Greek yogurt if I don’t have sour cream on hand. Sometimes, I add a little nutmeg or other spice. I would love caraway seed, but some of the children aren’t fans.}


First Things Preeminent


Ice crystals of my heart

Jack Frost across my soul

Clang, din, discord, tearing apart

Driving wind takes toll


Sun dogs flare out, refracted chill

Which came first?

This distracted frayed heart, ready to spill?

Or relationships, cursed?


This tension, people or peace

Relationship blizzards, slippery and cold

When will these flakes cease?

When will I bow, buckle, and fold?


There must be a shelter,

Where the two can dwell together,

A place where first things are first

But freedom of peace, stillness can bloom, burst


It won’t be easy, a bitter battle fought

An inner quietness, calm

Midst a white barrenscape, thrown and caught

A teeny snowflake resting on my palm


Frosty breath, stomping feet

Hot drinks, arms cuddled

Warmth and cool, people and peace, mix, meet

A forever mixture, a forever dance, forever muddled


People preeminent, peace frost bitten?

Or soul warmth, relationships forgotten?

Frozen stream on pause

Gray skies, blankness, life’s unanswerable flaws.


New Year’s Ramblings


Icy fingers wrap around my ankles as I sit here at our big wood desk. I feel shackled, worn, old, and frankly, cold.  The pellet stove is chug, chug, chugging, the edges of our old home are a bit chilly.  Thank God for the licking, crackling warmth, for piles of quilts, and thick socks. How are you beginning out the new year? I feel a bit stuck, dazed, and confused, which is how I probably am every year after the holidays. Not the cheery new year post you were looking for? I’m sorry for that. I just needed a place to ramble.

Foremost on my mind is our formal learning beginning again Monday here at Hearth Ridge Farm. I’m excited and anticipating diving into all the beauty with my children. Meeting again our favorite friends through the piles of books, forming relationships with many things, and being pointed in a subtle, gentle, really loving way to the One who gave it all to us.   I’m very aware of the fortitude and determination this takes on my part. It’s a humbling and a discipline to choose this educational path for our family. I’m extremely grateful and know it’s a privilege to even HAVE this choice. Not all families are able to walk this road, even if they desired too, and I know that it isn’t always the easiest route in some countries with legalities. I’m praying and ruminating on this and have things generally set for beginning.

I’ve been thinking about peace and relationships. That they aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Although they certainly seem that way at times. By peace, I mean, a quietness, a calmness, a sameness. Ha. Ya. Really the opposite of relationships. Real relationships are a tension, a messiness, and a dance. Of course, that’s what makes them so beautiful and so ugly.

I began reading Les Misérables as part of my goal for classics this year and I’m really enjoying it so far. I knew I had to get started on it so that I can savor and not get rushed and bogged down in huge sections to read.

I enjoy writing so much, but sometimes I think I overthink how much time or quiet it takes. It DOES take a lot of editing to make a thoughtful piece, but the initial puking it out doesn’t have to be fancy or long-winded. Sometimes I feel like there are a thousand little dwarf ideas pounding at the inside of my head with their pickaxes, but poof, they are gone in an instant, and if I don’t write them down quickly, I forget. So, I have piles of gems waiting for me to refine, buffing to bring out their shine. I keep reading things how one needs to just do what they want to do NOW, you know seize the day and all that rot, because we don’t know how much time we have, but that wars within me due to the season I’m in. The truth is that I find it VERY difficult to have the mental space and clarity to write very much. And I’m ok with that. Or rather, I’m learning and choosing to be ok with that. The rewards for what I’m privileged to do right now, far outweigh any perceived level of greenness I can only guess at on the other side of the fence.

I don’t have a lot of goals or resolutions or even really a word this year. Not yet, anyway. Aren’t I just a ray of hot sunshine? I think it is going to boil down to something to do with how seriously I take my faith. How do the affections of my heart order? How am I walking in obedience to what I believe is true? How can I quiet and yield myself, listening for His still, small voice? I also have been praying about how easily I forget my faith for ungratefulness when plans go awry, or dryers break for a time, or relationships rear the ugly side of the head. Oh, to live on a higher plain then the immediate.

I probably sound depressed, but I assure you, I am not. I’m trying to be realistic. 😉 However, I have some bends in the yellow brick road ahead. For instance, I’m very inspired by Edith Holden’s nature notebooks and have plans to work on mine. Our feeders are full of birds and there is nothing better than quietly watching them. I have an embroidery and quilt project on the docket.  My oldest daughter and I are going to take a sewing class. Our Charlotte Mason group will beginning again and I’m honored to be researching and planning for our new poet. Piles of books, mugs of coffee, gorgeous, never-ending views, a family gathered, and a Love of a Savior that never gives up on me.

I’m good. Happy first week of January. Stay warm.









Christmas-y, Winter-y Reading


John William Waterhouse – “The Annunciation”, 1914 {Google}

Oh, ’tis the season for a good book. Well, it’s always the season for that, but it’s delightful thing to pick up something related to winter and Christmas. I’ve been inspired by reading other’s Christmas reading.  This list isn’t exhaustive, but I’ve just named a few in each area that we’ve enjoyed or are enjoying currently.

For the Family, our past favorite chapter books:


{Goodreads, Google}

The Christmas Stove by Alta Halverson Seymour -We are currently reading another Christmas story of hers and loving it. These are set around the world and The Christmas Stove is set in Switzerland.

On That Night by Elizabeth Yates – this book fostered many good discussions and I hope to reread it again another year. Lovely, heart-probing story.

Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink – a lovely story from the author of Caddie Woodlawn, another favorite title of ours. A family struggling during the Depression, end up staying in someone’s summer cottage. A heart-warming tale set in winter-y Wisconsin.

Currently, we are reading two new tales to us, and are really enjoying them:


{Goodreads, Google}

The Wonderful Winter by Marchette Chute – don’t let that cover fool you! We found an older copy of this lovely story. An orphaned boy runs away to London and spends his best winter ever with an acting troupe! We haven’t finished this, but the writing is GORGEOUS.

I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge – I’ve been wanting to read this story for years and now we are finally getting to it. Polly lives with her poor aunts and is hoping for a Christmas surprise. Charming story surrounding the Christmas carol of the same name. I am a huge Goudge fan, so I’m delighted with this!

For myself to enjoy, I was trying to remember ones that I have really loved over the years:



A Christmas Book by Elizabeth Goudge (not pictured) – I fondly remember this book from years ago and hope to revisit it in the future. A collection of stories from her previous novels, centering around Christmas, and a few new stories, make for a charming read by the tree, sipping hot chocolate.

Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read – I’m a huge Miss Read fan, albeit I haven’t read much of hers recently and need to remedy that! I enjoyed this story, Miss Read is so good at cozy stories centered in little villages and you can’t help fall in love with what’s happening in the villager’s lives  and the subtle humor throughout.

Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams by Susan Branch – this may be a bit too sad for the feeling of the season, but I adored this memoir. Filled with Susan’s delightful illustrations, she shares how she pursued her dreams of drawing & painting, finding a darling little home of her dreams, helping her heal and work through a hard divorce.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen – I read this with my children and was deeply moved. This is a good title for deep winter, angling into spring. A little family decides to move to a small cabin they’ve inherited that is filled with great summer vacation memories. Dad is suffering from PTSD from the war and it hasn’t been an easy time as a family. This is written so beautifully and surprising wisdom and beauty sneak up on you all the time. I hope to reread this later in winter.

Honorable mention: Jane Austen’s 6 novels often make it into my winter reading rotation. My favorites, currently are, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Pride & Prejudice.

We also enjoy many different pictures books and devotional type readings together, but I’ll stop for now. How ’bout you? What titles have you enjoyed during the winter season?