Thursday, December 28, 2017

Mr. Darcy's confusion

Yesterday Older Daughter took Mr. Darcy for a walk in the snow. On the way, she passed a neighbor's gate warning about the numerous dogs therein. Older Daughter reports Mr. Darcy actually had his hackles up.

Later in the evening we all settled in to watch one of our favorite Christmas movies: "A Christmas Carol" with the incomparable George C. Scott.

Since we don't have a television, Don set up his large computer monitor on the microwave stand, and hooked it up to Younger Daughter's computer (which has a CD slot).

Well let me tell you, Darcy was fascinated. Absolutely enthralled at the sight of the movie. He'd never seen anything like it. We laughed ourselves silly at his rapt attention.

What was even funnier was when the scary parts happened. No kidding, Darcy jumped to his feet and cowered against our legs, or hid behind Don's chair.

Such is the learning curve for a puppy, I suppose -- even if the puppy is nearly 60 lbs and six months old.

(September 10)

(December 27)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my dear readers!

I'm happy to report both our girls are home safe and sound, thanks to the largely unthanked airport and airline personnel who work so hard during this time of year. Their flights came in at very different times on December 23, necessitating two separate trips to the airport (we got home with Younger Daughter at 1 am on December 24). But no matter, they're both home! (Though both were hoping for a white Christmas and were a bit disappointed to have "meh" amounts of snow on the ground.)

Christmas Eve is our big day of celebrating, starting with our whimsical and absurd junk food feast (in which we indulge in all the forbidden foods we seldom have, and which started as an attempt by my dear husband to keep me from slaving in the kitchen) and ending with the departure of our dear friends D and S, who have joined us for every Christmas Eve since we moved to Idaho. These fine people have faced some hairy health issues in the past year, so we're doubly glad to have them with us.

Here's Don's father's Bible, opened and ready for him to read Luke 2.

Our nativity scene (a beloved Christmas gift from my parents years ago) backlit by an oil lamp.

A very blurry picture of D and S (I was holding the camera in my lap and trying not to be obnoxious about photographing people).

Here the girls share an electronic moment.

Don always reads Luke 2 out loud, reminding us of our blessings.

Mr. Darcy was graced with a Christmas ribbon collar.

We woke up to a white Christmas after all, with snow coming down fairly heavily.

A reader sent this hilarious video, meant to bring a smile to everyone's faces (I like the mistletoe reaction):

Above all, never forget:
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

A blessed Christmas to everyone.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The NERVE of some people

It was a cold, clear day yesterday, the first sunny day we've had in weeks.

The temp was about 10F.

Bundled up, I went about my usual morning routine: Releasing the chickens, opening the corral gate, topping off the water tank, de-icing the chicken waterer, then finally filling the feed boxes for the cattle.

It was as I was coming out of the barn after feeding the cows that a movement caught my eye. There in our driveway, not 20 feet away, was a coyote.

He was clearly as surprised to see me as I was to see him. I yanked off my gloves and pulled the camera out of my pocket (yet another example of why I try never to set foot outside without my camera -- you never know what might happen!) while the coyote bounced around the driveway, blocked by yard fences and the house, and tried to figure out where to go.

Finally in desperation, he darted into the garden (which had the gate open). That's about the time I got my camera turned on.

Of course, now he was trapped in the garden. What to do? He ricocheted around until he was finally able to blast his way through another gate, at which point he rather insolently stopped and watched me.

After this, he trotted along until he was able to cross into the neighbor's pasture.

Then he cantered away until he was over a hill and out of sight -- and out of reach of the chickens.

Honesty, the nerve of some people. Er, coyotes.

Meanwhile, I examined the animal's tracks in the garden.

They were surprisingly tiny prints. In fact, four of them could easily fit inside one of Mr. Darcy's paw prints (which were side by side later in the day, as Darcy sniffed around the coyote prints). When I saw those prints earlier while doing my chores (before I spotted the coyote), they were so small I thought they belonged to a house cat.

Here's some prints next to my boot print:

Well, regardless of paw print size, he was big enough to eat a chicken. Boy, did I spoil his Christmas dinner plans!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Irish parrot?

Older Daughter knows how crazy I am about Irish dancing (I have "Riverdance" practically memorized). So when she sent me this YouTube clip of a parrot dancing to Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance," I howled.

What a bird!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Dashing through the snow

Is there anyone who enjoys snow more than a puppy?

We had about a two-week period of blech weather: cold, dry, freezing fog. Frankly it was boring. But then we got blitzed almost overnight with six inches of light fluffy snow.

Mr. Darcy is convinced it fell solely for his amusement.

We've devised an active game for Mr. Darcy. Twice a day we take him walking. Don and I start by walking together, then -- when Darcy has trotted ahead and isn't watching -- one of us will split off and start walking the other direction. Eventually Darcy notices, and he'll go pounding after the other person. We'll keep walking in opposite directions, wider and wider apart, and Darcy will race back and forth between us. By the time we're the width of the property apart, he's getting an enormous gallop between us.

Here he's coming toward me...

...and now he's racing back toward Don.

Just beyond Don is a downhill stretch, and sometimes we'll take Darcy on this side so he gets extra exercise dashing through the snow uphill (half the time).

By the time he's dashed between us eight or ten times, he'll finally start to slow down, then Don and I will walk back toward each other so Mr. Darcy has smaller and smaller distances to go. He's an active young dog (he'll be six months old at the end of December) and this exercise has made his muscles hard and firm.

Yep, there's nothing like mixing puppies and snow.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Never pass up a good opportunity

I laughed until I cried.

In 2014, it seems a Finnish dog show called Koira Mestar was progressing nicely with a variety of dogs competing in obedience. According to ABC News, "One obstacle involves dogs having to avoid a swarm of canine distractions [toys and food] while making it to the finish line."

However one beautiful Golden Retriever decided never to pass up a good opportunity. By the end, even the judges were applauding his happy-go-lucky enthusiasm.

As some commenters said, "It's the journey, not the destination" and "Fails at competition, wins at life."

As I said, I laughed until I cried.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The threat of contentment

I came across a couple of interesting posts recently.

The first is called “How Your Contentment Is Killing Your Future.” The writer (a Christian named Dale Patridge) wonders if our “healthy desire for contentment become an unhealthy desire for comfort.” He notes he and his wife had moved past contentment into “stagnant, dormant, and latent.”

This writer is a go-getter who became a millionaire by the time he was 30 (and guides other go-getters to follow his principles and become wealthy). As such, he puts great store in leadership, and using both leadership and the resulting wealth to minister to others.

He writes: “You see, as leaders, we can often spend years working to reach the mountain tops of our achievements only to finally arrive, overstay our welcome, and die there in a state of comfort. … But what if God has something more for you? What if He’s just waiting for you to ask, to dream, and to see? What if more life didn’t have to mean more stuff? What if more purpose actually called for less comfort? Ultimately, my challenge to you is this: Is your life small because your vision was small? Has your desire for less lessened your life? Could your obsession for a simple existence leave you with a simple story?”

We all have different gifts in life, and there’s nothing wrong with either leadership or wealth, as long as they’re used to the glory of God.

But a Christian mom who blogs about “living small” rebutted Mr. Partridge’s position. She wrote, “Contentment in circumstances can be misconstrued as settling for mediocre. Nothing could be farther from the truth. … Contentment has served me well as I’ve been frustrated with life circumstances over the years. I’ve learned how to stay content when my circumstances were less than ideal. I’ve learned the fastest ways to kill contentment. I’ve wrestled with what it looks like to remain content when I truly, deeply yearn for more. Truly there is nothing bad to be said about contentment. But settling for a moderate life out of fearful reasons or laziness? That would be tragic. Living small is not ‘settling’ for average. Living small is making choices on purpose to make room for extraordinary.”

While I admire Mr. Partridge’s success and go-getter attitude – we need go-getters in this world – my philosophy at this stage in my life leans more strongly toward “contentment.” Of course this is the difference between someone at the peak of his life’s productivity (30) and someone on the downhill slope of life’s productivity (55).

But the subject of ambition vs. contentment is an interesting one. A few years ago I was asked, by someone I like and respect, where I saw myself in ten years. What, he wanted to know, is our (Don’s and my) goal over the next decade? This question was asked because the gentleman is a go-getter, a business whiz, an operational genius.

I replied that we were very satisfied with our present conditions. Our children have grown into fine young ladies. Our marriage is strong. Our farm is developing well. My “ambition” is to continue following the path we’re currently on, for the foreseeable future, as long as God permits.

But my questioner persisted. Surely we had some lofty goals we wanted to achieve? Didn’t we want financial wealth or societal acclaim? Didn’t we want to change the world in some way? As politely as I could, I said no.

This line of questioning happened years ago, and I’ve been mulling it over ever since. Until questioned, I never realized I had such an utter lack of ambition.

The truth is, we DO have ambitions and goals, but they’re just not in keeping with the things corporate America values. We have ambitions of expanding the garden this spring and goals of installing a water tank in the next few months. We have ambitions of improving the barn’s infrastructure and goals to someday put hardwood flooring in the house. We have ambitions to become as self-sufficient as possible on our homestead. We have goals (which we’ve achieved) of launching two well-rounded, sensible, moral young women into the world.

In short, we may lead a life that is quiet and unassuming to the unpracticed eye, but the truth is we’re stable, content, and happy. These, presumably, are the goals and ambitions of many millions of people – to be stable, content, and happy.

“Ambition” is a relatively recent thing for the ordinary person. We’ve always had ambitious people, of course – history is littered with the corpses from the ambitions of tyrants and conquerors – but for the vast majority of regular people, ambition took back seat to mere survival. It’s only in the last few decades that our abundance and affluence has allowed so many people the luxury of career ambitions.

Is this lack of ambition a bad thing? Did we teach our daughters to ask too little of life? Should our goals have been higher?

I remember one time in late June, sitting in the barn working on my laptop, working on a magazine article that was due shortly. (In nice weather, I do a lot of work in the barn.) I was keeping an eye on a cow who was due to give birth at any moment. Chickens were all around me. The daisies and ocean spray were in full bloom. Later that afternoon I had plans to do dishes and laundry.

And I realized this, dear readers, was about the extent of my ambition. This was where I saw myself in ten years: right here. There will be different cows in the corral, and different chickens scratching in the dirt, and the daisies and ocean spray may not be blooming, and our girls have now grown and gone, but it is my dearest hope to continue this lifestyle we’ve achieved and come to love so well. There will always be manure to shovel and gardens to grow, eggs to gather and fruit to pick. And I find my ambitions becoming framed by the boundaries of our property.

But maybe I’m in good company. First Thessalonians 4:11-12 says to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

That’s become my motto.

The world needs leaders. The world needs wealthy people. The world needs ambitious people. But it also needs those of us who don’t harbor any of those goals and prefer to “lead a quiet life.” As long as it’s to the glory of God, it’s all good.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Light bulbs and face palms

Last May when I was at the Northwest Preparedness Expo, I met a lady who was on her own preparedness journey and expressed an interest in blogging about it. I urged her to do so, since blogging is not only helpful to other readers embarking on their own journeys, but it helps the blogger as well, since it keeps us accountable.

Well she followed through beautifully and started a blog called Self-Reliance Adventures: Light bulbs and face palms along the self-reliant journey. I urge you to hop over and take a look.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Top 100 housewife blogs on the web

Out of the blue, I received a comment as follows:
My name is Anuj Agarwal. I'm Founder of Feedspot.

I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Rural Revolution has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Housewife Blogs on the web.

I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 100 Housewife Blogson the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.

Well isn't that cool!

Since my blog is not limited to domestic matters, I gather the only basis for this honor is the word "housewife" in the subtitle, coupled with my Alexa ranking.

No matter; I'm pleased to be the recipient of such a fun little award. I get to display the award button, plus the list includes all sorts of other neat blogs to explore.

Thanks, Anuj!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

You know what they say about necessity...

I needed to make a dessert to bring to our neighborhood potluck last Friday. I was bored with my usual repertoire and wanted to make something different (preferably with ingredients we already had on hand) but my brain was blank. I scoured my recipe books, I looked over our in-house ingredients ... and nothing came to mind.

Then suddenly it was Friday and I had to decide. I came across an online recipe for some mini apple pies ("tartlets") made in a muffin tin, and this sounded interesting. But my day was busy and the clock was ticking. So, in desperation, I cheated and turned to a faithful staple I always keep in the house: puff pastry.

Each box of puff pastry holds two sheets folded in thirds. What I did was cut each third into four pieces, giving me 12 squares per sheet or 24 for the box.

I rolled each square a bit flatter, and didn't worry when it stopped being "square." Puff pastry puffs, after all.

I tucked each square into the cups of the muffin tins.

Then I pulled out some of the apple pie filling I canned up in October.

As it turned out, one quart exactly filled 12 cups, one muffin tin.

Next I mixed up 6 tablespoons margarine (we were out of butter), 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup flour.

This is mixed to make "crumbs," the topping for a type of sweet bread my mother used to always make while I was growing up (we called it Grandma's Bread since my grandmother always made it.)

I sprinkled the crumbs over each cup.

I baked them at 350F until they were gently brown.

Because I was running short of time, as soon as the apple tartlets came out of the oven I put them outside to cool (it was very cold out). When they were cold, I piled them in a linen in a basket and we dashed off to the potluck. (I snatched this photo just as we were heading out the door.)

They were an immediate success!

The nice thing about puff pastry is it will lend itself to endless variations -- not just fruit fillings, but savory fillings (minus the crumbs, of course). The possibilities are endless. No wonder I love puff pastry.

You know what they say about necessity: it's the mother of invention. Case in point.