Beauty and the Beast.

This morning is the most breathtakingly beautiful thing you can imagine. The sun was bathing the world in life and health when I woke up at 5.30am - the sky is painfully, perfectly blue, with rare, precious wisps of cloud.
Along the lanes, the cow parsley is still, and buttercups bedazzle the field margins. The ponies are already nose to tail, sunbathing in peace. In the garden, a dark weigela, just bursting into bloom, blushes against the new crepe paper leaves of the alder tree, beneath which a clueless pheasant picks at the fallen cones.
It strikes me how blessed I am to be here, entering a difficult phase of life, one which has dogged me these last days - I will be fifty this year, and you can't pass a half a century without thinking, it's almost over... it's about to begin.
In this country however, I am privileged to wonder how much longer I will marvel at cow parsley, and smile indulgently at pre cockerel woodpigeons, or gaze at that special spring sky blue and think that 'cerulean' barely does it justice.
In so many, many countries, this part of the journey would be over, and the next begun.

I'm reading a book given to me by my friend Ali, whom I can only thank profusely, called 'Extending the Table' - and on this rosy cheeked, blue eyed toddler of a morning, I offer you this quote.

"As my eyes adjusted to the dimmer light inside, I saw the daughter Ramona was carrying on her hip. The girl's hair was almost white. her eyes peered lifelessly at me from sunken sockets. The child appeared to b desperately ill. Nearly two years old, she was not strong enough to walk.
When Ramona stepped into the kitchen to make some tea, I whispered to Monie, "What's wrong with Ramona's daughter?" She replied quietly "Ramona and her husband can no longer feed all the children they have, so they have chosen this daughter to die."

Charmayne Deninger Brubaker, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Extending The Table, by Joetta Handrich Schlabach
Herald Press, Scottdale PA, 1991

and this I post beneath the ticker reminding me that I need to lose weight?

Don't lets let it spoil our beautiful day. Lets let it change us. Lets do something.

College Night!

Studying for DHC (Diploma in Homebased Childcare) at the moment, Thursday nights - such a nice bunch of people, it's really enjoyable, which I never expected.

I'm really looking forward to having a part time day care setting - we've got a lot of work to do! Not least the new kitchen which should have been in nearly two years ago and is at a messy half way stage right now.

This is the side garden, which will be the play area - obviously, Sophie's apartment will have gone by then, the bunnies will be suitably housed so that minded children can't get to them unless it is pets' corner time!

This is our back garden - it will still be our family garden, and not for public use!

The wild part behind the bantam area will stay wild(ish) and house a getaway for the girls

and the front garden will be available for chicken families and other smallholding nicities!

but once it's fenced off, and has a sandpit, waterplay, climbing frame, and other essentials, we think the side garden, with its fruit trees which will before too long offer a little shade and adventure, will be a good play area, together with muddy play and children's gardens in the veg plot.

Life is Good .......

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It's a new take on that half full glass!

Look! There are cabbage plants in the dock leaves :)

A Give Away! And some 'hints' .....

We're very busy here at the moment, it's exciting and challenging!

I need to get people talking about my workshops - so I thought I would add some pictorial hints to the blog about workshops to come ... and also offer an exciting give away.

This gorgeous little book, ever so slightly pre loved by me (!) is really nicely self published on high quality paper, with wonderful illustrations. A month by month guide to what to pick, and how to cook it, with some special recipes.

All you need to do, is leave a comment, with a link to your blog - post about the giveaway on your own blog with a link to mine, and cross your fingers! I'll draw a winner on June 4th! It's a lightweight little gem, so entrants are welcome from all over the world!

Meanwhile ....

Sophie and her little brood are doing well. Sophie and the babes live in this custom dwelling, so that we can move them daily to fresh grass. One of the major causes of mortality in young chicks is keeping them on soured and dirty ground, so our little princes and princesses get fresh grazing daily. Of course, Sophie gets to watch over her little family, and it's fun watching her bossing and disciplining them!

But for Papa - Professor Bhaer - and the Aunties, it's a worrying time!

Thank you for calling! If you've booked on the September workshop, fear not, I shall get to you with a PayPal Invoice in due time! I'm so looking forward to it!

Soap and Sisterhood!

I'm excited to be setting out on our new journey - one element of which is running simple, friendly workshops to enable women to be at the heart of the home in a truly sufficient way.
When you know how to do simple things, both to survive but also to embellish and enrich your family's experience of these trying times, they somehow don't seem so scary.
My vision is to share the tools, to encourage us all to be working, worshipfully in creation.

My very first ever workshop is to be on September 26th - and it will be a soap making session - plenty to learn and do, something to take home, and plenty of time for fellowship and chatter, over lunch.

Babes in arms and tots will be welcome, provided they are tractable enough to be looked after by a couple of 12/13 year olds in the next room, but soap making is not generally a safe thing for older, more inquisitive children to be around.

If it's a long way for you, we may be able to arrange caravan accommodation for a couple of you, if you 're willing to share.

I have to start somewhere, so the cost of the day will be just £20, and there will be very limited places, maybe around 5.

Please come and join us for this very special first event! email or leave a message to book a place.

The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks

I was about to light the fire this morning, when my eye fell upon the Court Circular and Announcements in the Telegraph.

The passing of one worthy was marked by a very well attended service at St Mary's, Cadogan St, SW3.

Shocked as I already was to find a Jason in the Forthcoming Marriages, not to mention baffled by the waiving of the £10 visitor's fee, at the Young Chelsea Bridge Club to Bill Gates, I was further amazed to discover that the aforementioned service was attended, among the many, many other representatives of the relevant orders of knighthood, and so on, by a representative of The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks.

Only in England.

Mind you, there was another memorial service for a military man, the attendance of which presumably left the country at risk of invasion, and I was rather sad to note that those passing exceeded those arriving by a good four columns. Come along, chaps. This is just not good enough.

Oh, and in the Personal Column, Psalm 2, verses 7 and 8. Excellent.

I must now go and light the fire, but really, I should read the paper more often. As it is, I usually take it from my husband, and detach the crossword before using the rest of it for much more prosaic tasks.

Intentionally left blank ...

I've been witness to a debate among christians, about the finer points of legalism, liberty, and sabbath day observance. It has not been a pretty sight.
Kierkegaard said that "Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close."
You can say that again.
I have been witness to a rash of (chiefly non christian) blog posts about intentionality, authenticity and all that jazz. Something I have always sought, and felt strongly about, and never really brought to bear on my faith ... or should that be the other way around?
And it strikes me, that there is a vital link here, which I have missed.
If I am a new creation in Christ, then from that moment on, my life must be authentic, intentional in every degree ... I cannot, I must not, depart from His call on my life ... and that call, is individual, it is to do with the awesome depth and breadth of the Holy Spirit.
So, do we pick and choose from the Scriptures? That's the charge levelled by one of the protagonists in the aforementioned debate, that we are legalists and worse, we pick our laws.
But wait a minute. What if GOD is picking and choosing?
What if, for my life to be authentic, I need to focus on certain elements of what He is, but for you, it's different? If that's the case, then the very last thing we should do, is spend our lives debating the point. He may lead one to mark the sabbath, and one not, He may lead one to a healing ministry, and another not. And hard as it may be (unless we are poor in spirit) we need to just let our brothers and sisters pursue their own authenticity, in and with God, while we pursue ours.
After all, the lives of the patriarchs, or the apostles yet, did not look identical.
And whatever that thing is, if you are called to be a juggler, a fishmonger, or a bus driver, what matters is to trust in Him and know that this is YOUR life, and you go wrong, the moment you turn to a fellow christian and say 'don't you think though, that in the light of scripture, we should be jugglers?' That 's' - that's where it all goes wrong.
It isn't about hammering it out, it isn't about who's right and who's wrong, it isn't about a consensus or a statement of faith - it's about doing everything with a living, intentional authenticity - the christian phrase for which is 'wholeheartedly, as unto the Lord' - in the sharpest of focus, the brightest of light, your breathing the cadence of an amazing dance in creation, even if you're washing up!
If you had that, would you even care to examine so closely and pick at another person's life? And to get to that, do you not have to wipe out yourself, initially, in the most immense act of faith, leaving yourself open to that ultimate make over, make yourself a blank canvas and then marvel at the work of art appearing before you, with you, in you, around you?
Or maybe we should all just talk about who is right about Sunday.

Drum Roll, Please ....

Our new business plans are finally being unveiled!

We've spent a few long weeks, following our inspiring reading of 'Home Work' from TOS thinking and praying about how we can help support this little homestead in complimentary ways.

So ... firstly, I enrolled on an evening course, Diploma in Homebased Childcare, and I hope to register as a most irregular childminder! One who supports home education, and does not pick up from schools! Mainly, I hope to use this registration to run activity days and courses for small people, taking advantage of our lovely setting, animals, and free mud!

Secondly, we're going to be running small, friendly courses and workshops, for grown-ups, on lots of homesteady topics - the first, home soap making, we hope to do in September, so if you're interested, please drop me a line - it's a very cosy affair, so places will be very limited!

And tying in with those themes, I have returned to a previous role, that of organiser for Usborne Books at Home so if you'd like more information about holding an event, you'd like to order some books, or you'd like to consider being an organiser yourself - and joining a winning, home-ed team! - click on the link or drop me an email.

Exciting times for us, as we try to share and promote the simple life, and home based family businesses.
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