Saturday, September 27, 2014

Turn, turn, turn...

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
(taken from the song, "Turn!Turn! Turn!" written by Pete Seeger, as sung by the Byrds)

Many of you grew up in my decade and surely are familiar with that popular song made famous by the Byrds back in the 60's. The majority of those lyrics were taken right from the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes. There's a time for everything—a time for beginnings and a time for endings. Endings. Sometimes they bring sadness. Sometimes they bring relief. Sometimes they bring both. This week we said goodbye to our beloved cabin in the know the one...that little piece of heaven, as I lovingly referred to it, in Fancy Gap, Virginia. I will warn you now that this is post may get a little long so if you choose not to stick with me, I understand. I am writing this for myself but if you choose to join me, I'd love your company. Just so you know :)
It was twelve years ago this very month that we moved all of our flea market and yard sale finds into this cozy little 980 square foot log cabin with the wrap-around porch, perched high atop the mountain at the dead end of Walton Branscome Road. It's kind of a long, drawn out story (just like that last sentence) and I don't mean to bore you with the details surrounding how we came to acquire it. Here's the short version...I'm doing my best! I'll just say that after looking to move our permanent home to a more rural area here in NC, things didn't work out according to our plan. Between putting in an offer on a country place and listing our own home, it just wasn't in the plan to work out. There's that word again—plan. P-L-A-N. Don't we just love to have one? Well, we had ours and evidently, God had His. I guess I don't need to tell you who if it was a contest. After much heartache and confusion, He heard the prayers and the desires of our hearts and pretty much led us to this place.
We had fallen in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains when we spent our 25th wedding anniversary there. On a whim, we began looking at some online listings for mountain properties with a small dwelling of some sort...a place where could retreat to on weekends, not too far from home...a place where the guys could hunt, etc. We set up an appointment, met with a realtor and he showed us a few places in our price range. Most of them were run-down trailers on a few acres...and we were fine with that. But I will never forget the day when the realtor took us up a steep gravel road that his pick-up truck could barely muster. When we reached the top (we thought we might not make it!), this is what we saw. 

All that could be heard was the wind rushing through the trees and the sound of the fast moving creek below. We pretty much knew that we had found what we were looking for. The price was right and everything else just seemed right about it too. We had been praying that if we were to acquire another property, it had to be of God's leading. It had to be right....not just something that we wanted.
It was June of 2002 and construction was due to be completed by September. We kind of created this little ritual during the weeks of construction. Just about every Friday afternoon when the work week was over, we'd head to Mt. Airy (right at the NC/VA border) which was about 15 miles or so from the cabin. There, we would get a room for the night and if there was still enough daylight to see, we'd head on up the mountain to see what all had been accomplished that week.

We spent our Saturdays making the rounds to every yard sale and flea market we could find. We rented a storage unit and added to it weekly. This continued for a couple of months until our little unit was filled to the brim!

I remember so well the day we moved in...the power had yet to be turned on. I washed all of those yard sale dishes and pots and pans from water heated on the gas grill! Thank goodness the power was turned on the next day. Over the next few weeks, I had so much fun turning it in to our cozy little retreat.

I have a special memory of sitting on the porch swing for the very first time, listening to the gentle wind rustling through the trees, looking out over the mountain view and thanking God for all of it—still in disbelief that He would bless us like this. I mean, who did we think we were anyway? We certainly were not wealthy folks...some people didn't even have one home...why would He allow us to have two? It was then that we committed the cabin to Him. We wanted it to be used as a sanctuary of sorts—for those needing a place to just get away from the world for a little while—a place to draw close to God. Over the next twelve years, Ray's Roost would fulfill it's purpose.

It became the scene of countless get-togethers with family and friends. 

It became a place of quiet, personal retreats. 
It became a honeymoon hide-away and an anniversary get-away.  
It became a  bed & breakfast...where YOU make both! :)

Our older grandsons practically grew up there. Below is one of my favorite photos of them cooling off in the creek. It's hard to believe they are nearly sixteen and fourteen now.


This checkerboard which had been on the front porch right from the very beginning is where Dacey, our oldest grandson learned to play when he was about six, taught by his Uncle Adam. Over the last several years, he has beaten the pants off of nearly everyone. It would take those years and many lessons in good sportsmanship before he was actually able to beat his uncle time. This is the only thing he said he wanted when he learned the cabin had sold. He is now the proud owner :)

Fall was most definitely everyone's favorite season there, bringing with it glorious color and crisp, cool mountain breezes—perfect for hunting, campfires and s'mores.

Every season had something special to offer though. Even the steep driveway didn't deter us (although it tried) from enjoying many weekends making memories in the snow. Many times we had to park at the bottom of the driveway and walk up, which was quite a workout!

It was the perfect place to be "snowed in".

So many wonderful memories...

Now, back to that so-called plan. Fast forward several years. Some things in life are so easy to take for granted, don't you think? Our "plan" was that we would retire there and sell our home in NC when the that time rolled around. My, how things can change...just when you think you've got it all figured out. Long-time employment can abruptly come to an end, as it has for so many folks in recent years due to the economy. After thirty-six years of working for the same company, it moved all production to Mexico and China. Um, thanks but no thanks. So....making a very long story still long, Jim was laid off with a severance that lasted about 18 months...miraculously the amount of time it took him to find employment. Although the pay was much less from what he was used to, he was doing something he loved—managing a group home and caring for men with special needs. He has always had a desire and a calling to work with these special individuals. His job, is in essence, his ministry. Sometimes it's just not all about the money, is it? But the reality was that we had two homes to pay for on a greatly reduced salary. The math just didn't work any more.

Seeing this sign for the first time was very hard for me to accept and I was an emotional mess off and on for nearly three weeks. Although I knew that selling it was the bitter reality, I still cried out to God, asking for another way...silly, I know. So I prayed for peace and acceptance. I don't know exactly how or when I sensed the Lord speaking to me but He helped me to make the decision that I was just going to put on my big girl panties and enjoy it as long as He allowed us to....whether it was for a month or a year...or more. Finally, after being on the market for almost a year (very slow market in rural VA) we got two offers in one on the low end and the other, the full asking! That was about three weeks ago and needless to say, it has been a whirlwind, to say the least! 

A week ago today we loaded up and this past Tuesday, we sealed the deal and said our final goodbyes to our cozy little cabin on the mountain. My head tells me that it's only a wooden structure but in my heart, it was like saying goodbye to a member of the family for the last time. But God just kept on blessing, right up to the end. As He would have it, we had the opportunity to get to know the precious new owners who were beyond thrilled. 

LG and Phyllis
I will never forget how sweet Phyllis put her hand on my shoulder and looked at me with the most compassionate eyes and said, "I can only imagine how much you will miss this place and want you to know that we will take such good care of it."  This is really hard to put into words but it almost felt as though they had just adopted one of our children, promising to love them forever.

But, life does go on, even when our plan doesn't line up with The plan. As I was going through the photos I wanted to use in this post, I came across this one from several years ago. Even though it doesn't do any justice to the actual sunset, in the twelve years we had the cabin, I don't think I ever saw one quite as magnificent as this. I remember standing on the deck on that cold winter evening and thanking God for this wonderful gift and for His goodness. And although these moments are now just memories, they are gifts that keep on giving...until we can remember them no more. (And if you're still with me, I appreciate it :)

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." 
~Dr. Seuss

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven . . .
—Ecclesiastes 3:1

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Monday, September 15, 2014

The way I see it is...

Yep, that's my new motto.
I sit here trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I have been on this earth for six decades.
When I turned forty, I don't remember thinking that it was that big of a deal,
although there seems to be some sort of stigma know...of being "over the hill".
When I turned fifty, some of my so-called friends, one being my own husband,
(who was also in cahoots) secretly planned a "black" party for me.
 As I entered my church for what I thought was our regular mid-week gathering,
I was greeted at the door by a friend...and a wheelchair.
I was immediately whisked off to the party room where I was greeted by many others.
I was presented with some sort of silly crown to wear, given black roses and numerous lovely gifts,
including such things as Depends, Geritol and Preparation H...all in good fun, of course :)
I remember thinking when I was little girl, how old my mom seemed to me.
And by most standards she was, especially compared to me, her baby.

She was forty-two when I was born...
...three years younger than I was when I became a grandma!
I guess you could say that I never have felt my age...whatever that means.
In fact, most days I don't act it either...whatever that means!
Being the baby out of eight children has a way of making you feel like an "eternal baby".
I mean, I like to think that I am a mature, adult woman, which I am...sort of... the ways that matter most anyway.
But I also kind of like the part of me that is still a kid in some ways...
...does that make any sense??
As far as my health goes, my quarterly lab work tells me that I am doing great.
With the exception of a few cricking bones and only a few aches and pains occasionally,
I feel great!
 And if I could only find the secret to getting those numbers on the scales to come down,
something I have struggled with since I was an adolescent, I would be doing a LOT better!
I've heard that it has something to do with eating too much food :)
Growing old is something everyone of us will have to face one day...
...that's just the way it is.
I gave up on growing in height long ago...5'3" is it for me, probably soon to be 5'2".
I hope not to grow outward any more than I already have through the years.
But I never want to stop growing in my relationship with my God.
 I need and I want Him to help me keep growing in all of those ways that matter.
It's a daily matter how young or how old I feel...
...and it's only by His grace.
So, what it all comes down to is attitude, I guess.
Just like the old saying goes...
"You're only as old as you feel" or "You're only as young as you feel".
Which one is it, anyway??

So...the way I see it is sixty IS the new forty!
Just humor me, okay?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Donna's Photo Challenge...Late Summer Hummers

Hey everyone!
It's time for Donna's Personal Photo Challenge and it's all about movement this month.
And speaking of movement...
...for some reason, our hummingbirds left us for a few weeks earlier this summer.
We still don't know why, but we surely were glad when they decided to come back.
For years I've been trying to get some good photos of those quick little guys and gals.
 Capturing a decent photo of those little hummers is not an easy task...
...especially with a little point-n-shoot.
This first shot was from last summer...not the best example of great photography,
but there was something I liked about the movement it displayed.

It was taken with my tried and true little old Sony P & S.
Even though it is a mass of blur, I liked how you are able to make out every part of the bird...
 ...yet still see all of the action going on.
I had the camera sitting right up to the window on a tripod, set on macro setting...
...with the zoom extended as far as it could go, clicking the shutter as fast as I could.
Edits were done in Picasa and Picmonkey. 
A couple of months ago, I was finally able to upgrade to a DSLR (yay!)
so, I've been doing some experimenting with my new camera and zoom lens.

These next two were taken using a 300 mm zoom lens, f/9.5, 1/500 sec., ISO-800, using a tripod,
 through the glass door since I couldn't get them to come around while I was outside.

I thought this one showed another interesting example of motion as it quickly flew away.
Buh-bye little hummer!

Our feeders were drained dry while were out of town last weekend 
and we haven't seen the hummers this week, although it is still quite warm here.
We put out new nectar today so we'll see if they return.
Just maybe, I'll get a few more shots taken before they leave us for the season!
Have a fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Very Special Delivery

A few weeks ago, know, the TexWisGirl, had a giveaway.
Like many of you, I entered just knowing I wouldn't win it...
...I never win anything....but hey, why not give it shot, right?
Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when she announced the winner!
It came yesterday.
The mailman delivered it to my door and left it on my front stoop...
...while I was working.


I found it this morning...the package, soaking wet.
I held my breath as I opened it, praying all the while that the rain hadn't penetrated.
Thank the Lord, it was dry inside!

I almost was so beautiful!
And the card she made that accompanied it was just breathtaking...

...suitable for framing, all by itself (which I plan to do).
Look at the intricate detail of the beautiful!

But that wasn't all.
Included inside the card was a sweet note and these...

...two four-leaf-clovers from her own yard!

I feel so blessed to have been chosen as the winner of this beautiful gift...

...from this lovely, talented lady.

Thank you Theresa, I will cherish this!


Monday, September 8, 2014

There's a change a comin'...

...said the little white spider.

See him...isn't he cute?
There are tell-tale signs all around.
 A single red leaf here...

...a golden toned one there.

...and some have already shriveled and turned a crispy brown.
The fields are full of goldenrod laden with fuzzy bees...

...dried up grasses...

...and left over remains of wildflowers.

Yes, there's a change a comin'...

...and I love it!

I'm joining Judith at Lavender Cottage for Mosaic Mondays.
Come see what beautiful collages everyone is sharing!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Late Summer Fences

Did I actually say late summer??
Is it just me or does it seem like this year is just flying by?
Even though Labor Day has come and gone, it really is still officially summer...
...until September 21, I think.
Here are a few of what might be the last of the of the fences of the summer. I looking forward to those scenes dappled with warm hues of golds, oranges and reds?
You bet I am!
Head on over to see what everyone's sharing at Tex's Good Fences link-up!
If you look closely, you will see the tree above is loaded with apples...
...I know they are hard to see but they really are there...I promise!

Have you ever noticed that cows usually stand heading in the same direction in the pasture??
There must be a reason...does anyone know why?

Looks like brand new fence, doesn't it?

Two views of the same fence...I love playing around with black and white.
There just something about barbed wire that I love.

I can't put my finger on the reason why...but I better be careful if I do! :)
Seriously though....

I know I am looking forward to finding some fall-ish looking fences.
Are you ready for the change??

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