Saying Goodbye to The Keep

The Charm of Country Living

When I moved from a quarter-acre suburban lot in sunny Florida to a farm outside Memphis a few years ago, I traded worn-out flip-flops for boots. With all the farm chores, which at first included tending pigs, rabbits, and chickens, it didn’t take long to wear out the first pair so I headed to my new favorite store–Tractor Supply–for a second.

They may look spiffy in this photo, but it wasn’t long before they were as dusty-dirty as the first ones. So my third pair are heavy-duty black.

I seldom wear them anymore. Two of the pigs were sold and the other two ended up in the freezer. The rabbits and their offspring have gone to a new home. And the chickens–well, let’s just say the foxes and raccoons ate heartily. (The experience was so unnerving I doubt I’ll ever raise a chicken again.)

Years ago, while living in that Florida suburb, I got a strange whim I never expected to come true.

I wanted an alpaca.

In a strange turn of events, God gave me not just one but an entire herd. Yes, my friend, even pipe dreams come true sometime.

During this season of my life, I’ve done things I’ve never done before. Like watch a newborn alpaca take her first steps, surprise a fox that was a little too close for comfort, and shoved one of those huge pigs into a dog crate all by myself.

We won’t talk about the deer leg one of the dogs brought into the house.

But this amazing, enriching, exhausting, incredible roller coaster of a season is coming to an end.

Next week Griff, Rugby, and I will be leaving this place I’ve come to love and returning to the Sunshine State.

Another place I love.

Use the China

Treasured Moments

She cried when she unpacked the gravy boat.

My younger daughter Jill wrote an update on Facebook the other day about unpacking the family china. To her, it evokes memories of family holiday dinners.

Especially the gravy boat.

We used it whenever we needed a gravy boat even if we were eating off paper plates.

Those days are gone. But not the treasured memories of shared meals and celebrations.

Jill wrote:

I really miss being a whole family, but I have to say that using this china with my family, Jacob and our girls, it means so much. You never know growing up what will stick with you and will be tear-jerking memories down the way in your life . . . like a gravy boat that can make me cry.”

Sure, I got teary-eyed, too, reading her update.

But it was the comment from someone who also received the family china that had me reaching for the Kleenex:

there were no tears because there were NO memories of using the china.”

This is my plea to parents everywhere.

Give your children the memories they don’t even know they’re tucking away in their hearts.

Use the china.

Tomorrow is National Winnie-the-Pooh Day

Happy Early Birthday to A. A. Milne

Happy 134th Birthday to A. A. Milne, creator of the much-loved Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Woods.

Milne, born on January 18, 1882, was inspired by his son’s stuffed animals.

Christopher Robin named his teddy bear after Winnie, a black bear he liked to visit at the London Zoo, and Pooh, a swan.

During my first (and only) trip to New York City in May 2015, I saw Christopher Robin’s toys in the children’s section of the New York Public Library.

As a Pooh fan, I was absolutely thrilled!

Here are three of my photos from that visit.

A close-up of the original Winnie-the-Pooh


Winnie and his pals


 The Hundred Acre Woods

Just to clarify, National Winnie-the-Pooh Day is tomorrow, Wednesday, January 18th.

So make plans now to grab  a pot of honey and sing Happy Birthday to Mr. Milne.

Your Turn

My writing group announces our achievements with Tigger bounces. But if I had to choose one favorite Milne character, I think I’d choose Piglet.

Who’s your favorite?

Looking Ahead to 2017!

And a Few Ventures

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A friend recently posted a meme in a Facebook group with this message:

2015 was practice.

2016 was warm-up.

2017 is game time!

In a way . . . somehow . . . this is my life.

The new year brings a major change. This spring I’ll be moving from my sister’s four-acre hobby farm –where I tended an alpaca herd, discovered newborn bunnies, witnessed my little papillon actually tree a raccoon (more than once), surprised a fox (and we were way too close to one another), dealt with more dead things than I ever have in my life, took a weaving class, and imagined three novels and a novella–to a home of my own near Tampa.

A new chapter is exciting, but closing the current one will not be easy. In the time I’ve lived here, I’ve become part of the local inspirational writing community, made new friends, and enjoyed Mid-South hospitality.

It’s hard to think about New Year’s resolutions when I don’t even know what “a day in my life” will look like.

But I am planning ventures (which just may be my 2017 Word of the Year).

Writing ventures include a second cozy mystery, a major revision to my unpublished novel When Memory Whispers, and a third still-to-be-decided project.

I’ve already started my travel ventures. I was in Tulsa over Christmas and, as you’re reading this, I’m headed to Arizona to hug my grandgirls. Who knows where else my vagabond feet will wander in the coming months?

(If venture is my 2017 Word of the Year, then a bicycle is my symbol.)

Let’s not forget hobby ventures.

I’ve been taking horse-riding lessons . . . on a pony. A TALL pony! Gabby probably won’t miss me as much as I’ll miss her but she’s given me the confidence to take a chance, try something scary, and live to talk about it. <said with a grin>

My weaving sample (woven on a table loom)

A weaving loom probably isn’t in my future, but I enjoyed the class I took.

A friend from church has promised to teach me to crochet an infinity scarf. I’ve already created the 72-inch chain she told me I needed.

An acting class might be fun–not because I have any talent, but because of the insights I’d gain about creating characters.

So many things to do. So many things to try.

Now it’s your turn. What ventures might 2017 hold for you?