Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Saying good-bye to 2013

Well, here we are...the ending of yet another year.  I've been looking back over this year in a sort of review, which many others also do when we're embarking on a new year.  A brand new beginning, a fresh chance.  But first, before the new, I bid a fond adieu to 2013.

Our Christmas was a quiet affair.  We spent the Eve at my sister's house, had dinner with the family and did a gift exchange.  I noticed a distinct difference this year.  There was no family drama.  Nope, not even one little bit.  What a blessing!  Maybe we'e all finally growing up and maturing...acting our ages and all.  Regardless of the reason, I was thankful and enjoyed the evening so much.  There were several missing from the group; some stayed home for their own reasons, and some that are gone.  To those, we keep them in our hearts and cherish our memories of days gone by.  Sweet, sweet memories of loved ones departed.

We also had 2 new babies born to our family this year.  Both boys, and they're both just adorable; as babies usually are.

Christmas Day, my hubby and I stayed home.  I cooked a lovely beef roast and we noshed on cookies and egg nog throughout the day.  We watched old, old Holiday movies.  I showered and got dressed around 2:00.  It was delightful, quiet, peaceful and oh, so very nice.

The horses enjoyed special treats with their dinner, as did the dogs.  The cats even came in the house, had a few special treats and lazed around the fire.  :)  Such a nice, peaceful day.  I'm so thankful.

I'm also thankful that Christmas is over.  I sent out many cards, we delivered food goody baskets to our 3 closest neighbors, and had a few gifts to family members.  We kept it very simple this year and it was nice.  We went to our state's Capitol and gazed at Christmas lights and enjoyed holiday music and sang carols at The Old Mill.  A fun place to visit at Christmas time.  I bought some new candles.

And tonight is New Year's Eve...we've got no plans at all.  I'm thinking of doing a year in review blog post soon, and I'm hoping to add a few possible plans and dreams for the upcoming new year.  We'll see how it goes.  I've never been a big planner.  I'm more of a, take it as it comes, kind of gal.  I dream big, and accomplish what I can.  It's how I roll.

Happy New Year everyone!!  Enjoy and stay safe...

Lorie and the gang @ Cingspots

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

God Bless us every one

Spirit of Life

Lovely as bright sunshine after rain,
When birds sing blithe and gay;
Cool, refreshing as a mountain spring, 
When faint, at heat of day;

Richer than the cherry's tapestry
Of pink against, the blue;
Sweeter than love's tender lullaby--
Thy presence, Spirit true.

Precious Thy infilling, Spirit pure,
For Thou dost life impart.
Overflow my little cup, but first,
O fill my thirsting heart!
--Alfonso N. Anderson.

Merry Christmas!!!  

May each one have precious moments pondering the true reason for this holiday, and the peace of our Savior be with you.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Farewell old friend...

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post this morning.  Our dear, old llama, Merlin..."Merlin's Magic", was put to rest last night.  He didn't want to get up from his resting spot yesterday morning.  All the horses filed outside, one by one, carefully stepping around him.  :)  They were always so careful not to step on him.  My husband left some hay in Merlin's feed box for him, but it remain untouched throughout the day.  When I got home last night, I went and checked on him.  He was outside in the round pen grazing, so I went inside to start a fire and warm up the house.  A little while later, I went back out to bring the horses in for the night.  I don't really recall exactly where Merlin was, but I put the horses in their stalls, one by one, and gave them a flake of hay to tie them over until we came back out for stall cleaning.

When my husband came back out, he found Merlin outside leaning against the gate, with his head resting between the wood slats of the round pen.  He was very weak, and didn't seem able to stand on his own.  We managed to get him to walk inside the barn, out of the wet and cold night.  He had no interest in eating and had a bit of blood coming from his nose.  I think he may have went down and hit his nose, there wasn't much blood.  He was so very, very weak and had great difficulty standing without leaning against a wall.  He also seemed a little disoriented so he may have had a stroke, or suffered a heart attack.  We'll never know for sure, but we were pretty sure he wasn't going to come back from whatever happened.  I made the call to my boss, and asked him to come put our old friend down.  He agreed that it was the best thing to do.

Merlin was quite old for a llama.  We've had him since he was just a year and a half to 2 years old.  We got him the year we moved into our home, in a trade for an old, green and pink riding lawn mower.  I have no idea why we got him, we just did.  We've had him ever since, and that was 19 years ago.  He's been a source of amusement, a good friend and playmate of Harley's, and a thorn in our side ever since.  :)  You see, there were many occasions when he would escape (always because a gate had been left open).  Into the fields he would run, galloping in that silly gait that llamas have, up and down the hills, around and around...as long as the game would go on.  I know he enjoyed it.  Once we wised up and didn't chase him, we learned to just leave the gate open and he would wander back in; disappointed that we'd not given chase.  We had his number, after all those years.  He was always smarter than we were.

He may have been a homely old coot, everyday was a bad hair day for him, and he smelled bad;  but we loved him.  There was a kindness in Merlin.  He never did any harm to anybody, no matter how small.  And he never, ever spit at any person, ever.  It just wasn't his way.  And over the years, there were many times that we gave him good reason to spit at us.  He'd look us squarely in the eye, chortle deep in his throat, and do no more.  He hated to be groomed, so years ago we just stopped.  We fed him along with the horses, every day, and he lived with the horses and was just part of the herd.  He was part of our family and he was as free as any animal who was domesticated, could be.  He always let us know what his wishes were, and we pretty much, always complied.  At least to the best of our ability to understand him, we did.  We will miss him.  So much.

Oh, and he had the most beautiful eyes!  They were deep, dark brown, with dark blue irises fringed with long, black eyelashes...so dark, looking into those eyes was like looking into a deep watery pool of knowledge, or magic.    Hence his name.  Merlin's Magic.  And he was wise.  I know he was.

R.I.P. dear, old friend.  You will be missed.

But, I am so thankful that you were a part of our lives.  We are better for having known you.  :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

we'll frolic and play, the eskimo way

Walkin' in a winter wonderland!!  Isn't it beautiful?  I awoke this morning to a frosty, wintry wonderland.  It's not snow, it's freezing fog.  Nobody can outdo God's artistry!

 And here's our oaks on their knoll all decked out in the frost.  I have more pictures in my cache of these two trees...it's amazing.  Our weather has continued to warm up, and this afternoon they're predicting the possibility of freezing rain as the precipitation meets the frozen ground.  Sure hope it's just rain by the time I need to drive home.

 This beautiful work of artistry is my lilac bush that my friend Claudia gave me.  I love all the icy little spikes, and if you look really closely, they're all unique little works of art.  Just like snowflakes!!

Our grand old Black Walnut by the hay barn...all dressed up in his winter finery.  I love this old tree.  :)

I took this picture shortly after arriving at the clinic this morning.  Ruby was running all around acting like a "crazy woman" and was having a blast!!  Such a joy to have this little dog in my life...she gives me so many reasons to smile, and laugh, every single day.

This was her, "I don't want to come in yet" look.  When in doubt, she just sits down and goes all freeze-frame.  Look at her white whiskers...so cute!  *sigh*  Love this dog!!  Even though this looks like snow, it's just freezing fog.  We have a steel mill in close proximity of the clinic, that spews large amounts of steam into the air.  That's the reason we have such an abundance of the frozen fog here this morning.  If I were to drive a few blocks west of here, it would be gone.  We're in our own little eco-environment here.

Such a Christmasy scene...maybe even card-worthy.  You think?  Some day our little pine tree will grow big and strong like these pines.

I adore pine cones!!!  I use them in so many different ways...from starting fires, to filling baskets around the house, decorating my wreath among others.  The squirrels love them too...ever eat a pine nut?  Delicious!!

This was Ruby's reaction to my calling her in.  :)  No momma..."I don't hearrrrr you"!

By this weekend, we're supposed to be back to temps in the 40's and some rain...I guess it's alright for a change.  I'm sure the horses will appreciate getting those blankets off and having a nice roll in the mud...the clean, shiny coats couldn't last forever, right?  I bet our little pellet stove will heave a sigh of relief too, as it's been running 24/7 for over a week now.  Normally we turn the stove off at night and just bank the wood stove.

Can you imagine that just 2 weeks from today, Christmas will be over and finished?  And then New Years is just around the corner...whew!  Don't look now, but this year is almost a goner.  If time doesn't slow down a little bit, I'm going to wake up tomorrow and be a little old lady.  :)  I'm not ready to be a little old lady!!

I'm not sure what all is on tap for this weekend, but we plan on going to church, picking up our Bountiful Baskets veggies and if nothing else, I'm hoping to get started on a little cookie baking.  Or, we could forget the baking and go into the city and see the sites!  I'm thinking the latter sounds much more fun, and relaxing!

I have a hair appointment next week, and a date with my best girlfriend...a little strolling in downtown Carlton, check out the shops and have a couple of Christmas season drinks over a lot of great conversation and laughs.  Now that's what sounds fun to me!  It isn't very often that I get a chance to get together with a friend, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Cheers all - here's to Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Decking the halls

Well, we're still cold and dry...but we're warming up.  My little thermometer on the deck read 30F this morning.  Whew, it's a heat wave!  :)  And the horse's water tubs inside their stalls were not frozen this morning.  I think we may have endured our Arctic Blast pretty much unscathed, again.  No frozen pipes in the house, or in the barn.  We kept our home warm and cozy with the wood stove and the pellet stove burning pretty much around the clock.  We haven't used our electric furnace in 4 years now...that's a blessing!  And the horses, llama, dogs, cats and us all seem to have weathered the storm quite well.

Last night we had vegetable soup that cooked on the wood stove.  It was so good!  Cabbage, celery, carrots and tomatoes with a little Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic, salt, pepper and chicken broth.  Oh my - just what the doctor ordered!  We topped it off with grilled cheese on whole wheat bread.  :)

 Even Snip spent some time inside where it was warm!

 A glamorous pose from a cat that just doesn't care...

 He's really quite shameless.

 My 30" tall Amaryllis just bloomed, with 3 more buds to open!

 We're not doing an inside tree this year, so hubby decorated our stately little Pine...all decked out!


 and all lit up.

 A little arrangement with the extra evergreen clippings for the porch.

 Our Merry Christmas wreath!!  Made with found, forest treasures and last year's bow.

 Cheery little snow family for the kitchen window sill.

 My favorite...ho ho ho!

 My stick Santas and an old plate from a garage sale.  That's one of our hand-dipped beeswax candles we made last winter.  
 My best girl, Annie

 Our granddaughter, Kaley on Missy...first ever horseback ride.  Her cheeks hurt afterwards (face cheeks!).  She even did some trotting!  Missy was so good.  Such a sweet little mare. 

 David, Justin and Jack in the background...waiting their turn.

 David's turn!!

 Jack wasn't so thrilled...not a horsey type, but he did alright too.

 Ruby warming herself by the fire.

 This is how Ruby stayed warm.  Annie thinks she's a wuss!

 Sunrise breakfast in the corral.

 Sad sacks waiting to come inside last night.  :) 
Hopefully I'll get some Christmas baking done yet, just haven't had the time or the inclination to get started just yet.  Another little project that I need to do is get our Christmas cards ready and mailed out.  I enjoy sending and receiving cards in the mail, but every year it seems like we get fewer and fewer cards.  It's a tradition that I hope to always continue.  Got my hubby a couple of little gifts today, and so far that's all I've done.  I'm not doing much shopping at all this year.  I refuse to get all caught up in the buy, spend, rush, rush that this beautiful holiday is turning into.  We are going to take a trip to downtown Portland one of these days very soon.  It's so festive and fun to walk around looking at all the pretty window displays, the quaint little shops and Saturday Market under the bridge...and then we always have lunch or dinner someplace special just to get warm, relax and enjoy each other's company.  It's becoming one of our favorite Christmas traditions.  And the lights downtown are not to be missed, the street musicians and whatever little surprises await us in the city.  It's about the only time of year that we really enjoy venturing into the city...this year we plan to hit the Grotto.  Take in the light display, walk through the gardens and listen to some of their concerts.  Portland is really quite famous for it, and even though I've lived here all my life, I've never been there.  So, this is the year to check it out!

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?  Are you sticking to them, or adding something new this year?  Please share, I'd love to hear all about your plans!  Just what is it that makes your Christmas season special, and how do you deck the halls?  Or do you?

Do tell...

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holy cow, it's snowing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whoohoo!!  We do not get snow here very often at all, and when we do, it's usually what I like to call "white rain".  You know, wet, heavy, soppy grossness that's worse than rain.  But this is real snow.  Beautiful, white and powdery, dry snow.  It's so pretty!!

I drove 25-30 mph all the way to work this morning.  It was quite slick, but because I was driving slowly and cautiously, I had no trouble at all.  I'm no expert, but I remember what my daddy taught me, years and years ago about driving in inclement, icy weather conditions.

I can still hear daddy's voice in my head telling me to, "drive slowly, just roll over the ice, no quick steering or jerking of the wheel, and no heavy braking, ever".  He always said if you need to use your breaks, do it very, very gently.  And you know what?  He was a truck driver for most of his life, so he knew what he was talking about.  *sigh*  Oh God, how I miss my dad...I don't think the pain of losing him will ever go away.  It is easier than it used to be, because like that old saying of "time heals all wounds", it is true.  But the pain never, ever goes away.  It's just easier to remember him with less pain.  I can smile without crying now, at least some of the time.  :)  I can hardly believe that he's been gone from my life for almost 19 long years.  How can that be!?  I feel cheated.  I wanted him for a lot longer than that.

Anyway, it's kind of a fun day.  The local school is having a "snow day" and I'm sure that thrills the kids to no end.  It appears that our mild Autumn is quickly fading away, only to be replaced with the cold, icy grip of old man winter.  Technically, according to the calendar, we still have 2 weeks before the winter solstice.  But, I'm not buyin' it.  Baby, it's COLD outside!!!

What's it doing in your neck of the woods??  Do tell...weather is something I enjoy immensely.  Maybe I should have been a weatherman; er, I mean weatherwoman.  Is that a word?

Yippy skippy, it's Friday!!  That's always a good reason to smile in my book!!  I have no idea what, or if anything, is in store for this weekend, but I'm looking forward to being home, instead of at work for a couple of days.

Stay warm and cozy my friends!!
Lorie and the gang @ Cingspots

This is Ruby's rough life... 

Good grief, poor dog. 

 Sunrise day before yesterday

 Part of the neighbor's pony herd

 Harley in his coat this morning

 Sweet Harley  :)

 Miss Kadie sporting her warm coat
When you have nothing left to say...post pictures!!!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Oooh baby, it's COLD outside!!!  And I'm loving it.  Yes, I love cold, dry weather with beautiful blue skies and sunshine.  Can I just say that this is one of the best weather years we've had in many, many that I can recall.  We had an amazing spring, it was warmer and drier than usual and that led into a fantastic and long summer...not too hot, just about right.  Then for whatever reason, we had rain pretty much the entire month of September.  Yes, it's still summer time, so it was a warm rain, but wet is wet.  Then October was pretty much perfection and November!  Normally our Novembers are wet and cold, lots and lots of rain.  Not this year, we've had primarily dry and sunshine.  And now it's cold.  Of course people are grumbling, but it seems that folks will grumble if you hung 'em with a new rope.  Just sayin...

Last night at our house it was 18 F.  That's really cold for us here in the temperate Willamette Valley.  But, I'm dancin' - yep, got my party shoes on and I'm tickled pink!  The mud is frozen.  I'm wearing my new winter boots so my tootsies are cozy and warm.  Annie, Ruby and I are enjoying walks in the park - still.  Yesterday in the forest park, we had the park to ourselves, we crunched on frozen ground and leaves gathering evergreens, pine cones and moss for our Merry Christmas wreath.  Today, we got more cones and some holly with bright, red berries and some winter berry, just because it was there.  So cool.  I had my camera, but with my arms loaded down with evergreen branches; well, it was more than I could manage, so the camera remained in my pocket.

We finally broke down and put the blankets on the horses last night.  They are all fat and wooly, and would probably have been fine, but whatever.  We have blankets, so we're using them.  All except for Eagle...he gives the blankets the old hairy eyeball, and I'm a little concerned that if the blanket were to slip a wee bit, or heaven forbid - whip in the wind - well, let's just say that an unexpected hike through the fields might be called for.  Nope, for now, I'm thinking Mr. Eagle will manage just fine on his own.  :)  Big, brave Mustang...

So, all of you horse people are probably well aware of just how indebted throughout our history, that we are to the noble horse.  Right?  There are countless stories and bits of history that informs us of how much we owe them for their service in our society.  Countless different services.  Today, my hubby informed me of one more that I was unaware of, so I thought I would share.

What role in history does the horse have in a foundry?  Think hard my friends, this one surprised me.

Got your answer?  Well, for a change, it does not involve the horse laboring on our behalf.  Nope.  The answer is, in fact, his/her manure.  You see, apparently before the invention of binders used in the metals making business, good old horse poop was used to bind the metals together.  Similar to the way mortar or bricks were made with straw, the horse poo was the binder that held the molten metals together ensuring the hardened, finished product.  I wonder what they paid those valued employees who pooped for a living? Truth be told, we learn something every day.

My friend Claudia gave me an amaryllis bulb a few weeks back.  I've never had one.  I planted it as instructed and waited and watched.  It started to grow...the crazy thing is now 24" tall.  Sometimes I go to bed and when I wake up, it's grown 2"!  I thought it was some freak of nature bulb or something, but she assures me that is the way they roll, or grow.  :)  Kind of fun.  I'm most anxious to see what the flower is going to look like.

Stay warm and cozy everyone,
Lorie @ Cingspots