The new barn is going up. 

Yesterday evening we worked in the cool of the late part of the day. We had Ryan helping to place the hurricane ties for the rafters.

The last two nights I’ve had dreams where the 6 tons of hay we bought were being rained on! Makes me feel a great sense of urgency to get the haybarn part finished and the hay in it.

We have the floors and corner posts in the for the haybarn structures and the roof will be going on soon.

Another toy for Ryan and me. 

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I borrowed a friends tractor and had a great time grading our back half acre.

We smoothed out the pasture area and created a nice slope in the new barn area where we will be building this summer. Also, spent some time smoothing out the old garden to extend our grassy back lawn.

The new barn area will have a solid run of packed gravel base and pea gravel on top to keep the horses feet out of the mud this winter.  We will also have a hay barn included so that we won’t have to drag the hay on dollys through the rain to the barn!

We are building 12 small structures to make our new barn. Each structure is under 200 ft.² and can stand alone.

I drew so many plans before I finally settled on one. The planning is so fun.

I kind of love projects. 

What a perfect little paw print!  What I saw while I was organizing my garage :-)

Today (written on Wed. Jan. 25th) I’m organizing my garage! Or I should say I’m supervising the organization of my garage! Ha ha I’m sitting in a rocking chair, in a big fluffy down jacket, telling my son and my niece what to do.


My niece is a real go-getter. She has worked for me many times before. She helped me build my spiral house up on the mountain. I pay her well because she is a very hard worker. She doesn’t let the cold or the wet stop her.

I have two workshops coming up this weekend and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. I need to get some furniture out of my house, which is too full, and do some cleaning, but my garage where I want to store some of the overflow is full already.

I called Rachel and asked if she had some time to come help me get organized. I was so happy when she said she did. She came right over.

Then my daughter Melanie called and asked if I wanted the minions over today. LOL, the minions are my grandkids. I call them my minions because they are my little helpers who earn video game playing time by working for me!  I told her I was intensely focused on cleaning but I could use the older two today if she wanted to bring them over.

She brought them over and the deal was that they were to help me until it got dark then they could play video games. They helped for a good 2 1/2 hours before playtime. By then I was exhausted and we all took a break and they played games. Later I had them do another little job, then they played some more.

By the end of the day, Rachel had worked for about 7 1/2 hours. The garage was clean, the house was rearranged, I was out $108 to an excellent worker, I was exhausted, the kids had worked, and I was happy that I had accomplished everything I was hoping to. It was a great day!

Getting the Teenagers Involved in the Barn Building

My daughter Juliana’s friends came to help build the barn!  These are friends from her homeschool group.  They donated their time as a service project.  I am so grateful for their help.  They each came for several days and helped for many hours!  What a great learning project for them and a great help to me!!  Thanks Ephraim, Isaiah, and Stephen!

Alone in the Woods : Part 3 – The Lecture

Morning came too soon, yet not soon enough for the shivering child.  In her struggle to keep warm and dry, Little Girl had piled her sweaters and jacket under her sleeping bag so the cold from the ground wouldn’t chill her.  The puddles that formed in her tent from the leaky roof had to be avoided, and her belongings moved around, as the puddles grew, to avoid getting wet.  Little Girl was sleepy, but glad the night was over.  She was new to camping alone.  In the past, someone else had always been around to take care of her.

Little Girl dressed and pulled on her wool socks and fleece lined boots, still wet from the night before.  After the warmth of the sleeping bag her feet objected to the cold, wet socks and boots, but as Little Girl walked through the drizzle toward the main camp, she was surprised how quickly her feet warmed up.

Others were also emerging from their tents and moving toward the central fire.  Gusty greetings rang out across the open woods and smiles shown on faces.  Their shared adventure was bonding the children together, and the rain couldn’t diminish their excitement.  They were in Grandfather Coyote’s camp.  What would the day bring?

The young coyotes, Grandfather’s grandchildren, were already up, preparing for the day.  The visiting children were given a meager breakfast of thin soup while they talked excitedly among themselves, sharing stories of why they had followed the old coyote into the woods.

As the children were finishing their meal, Grandfather Coyote emerged from the thickest, shadowy part of the forest, walking slowly and quietly, head down, somber.  No longer was he the tongue lolling, winking, playful coyote that had enticed the children into the woods.  Instead, the children saw an old, worn, worried coyote, deep in thought.  Everyone’s attention was on Grandfather Coyote.

The children waited, watching as Grandfather Coyote slowly  moved toward them.  He did not look at up, but seemed completely and utterly unaware of them, so deep was he in thought.  Then Grandfather Coyote looked up.  The look of sadness in his eyes shocked Little Girl.  Coyotes eyes told the story of deep worry, and experiences beyond understanding.  Grandfather’s eyes also showed love, and anguish; anger, and grief.  That moment he looked up, into her eyes, Little Girl saw . . . no . . . felt his soul.  At that moment, something shifted inside her, though she didn’t know what.

Grandfather Coyote sat quietly, looking down, up, then down again, eyebrows meshed, as if he were trying to decide what to say.  Finally he looked at them and spoke, in deep, low tones, “Hello grandchildren.”

‘Grandchildren’? Little Girl was startled by the word and wondered, ‘Is he talking to us?  What does he mean, “grandchildren?”‘

“Yes,” the old coyote said, “I said, “grandchildren.” You followed this old coyote into the woods . . . you are searching for something . . . just as I followed an old coyote into the woods.  You are all part of my family now.  You have a home here.”

Again, somewhere inside Little Girl she felt a shift, like an opening up of something.  Again, she didn’t understand it, but it felt good.  She felt a connection forming with her new Grandfather and this new family.

Grandfather Coyote talked to the children at length about the Grandfather Coyote who taught him, and other coyotes from the past.  He spoke of the worlds we live in: the Physical, the Spiritual, and the Spirit That Moves In And Through All Things . . . sometimes called the Force.  He said, “Everything that lives in the physical also lives in the World of Spirit and in the Force.  This includes everything, even all animals, all plants, all rocks, all elements, like water, air, — everything.”  He spoke of relationships, how we are all connected, how we all have awareness; even all animals, all plants, and all the elements.

Little Girl thought about that.  She had believed that animals had spirits and even that the earth itself had a spirit, but she had not thought much about plants, rocks, water and air having awareness.  Does that mean they have feelings?

“How did you approach the area you pitched your tents?” the old coyote asked.  “Do you realize that when you walked into that area, you were walking into someone’s home?”

The children stared blankly at Grandfather Coyote, and glanced worriedly at each other.

“How would you like it if a stranger came into your house and pitched their tent in the middle of your living room, hammering stakes into your beautiful floor?” Grandfather Coyote growled, “That place, where you pitched your tent, is home to every plant, animal, and rock that lives in there!”  He paused for effect.  “Wouldn’t it be considered good manners to ask permission before you waltz in and take over?”    The horror in the old coyote’s eyes was unmistakable as he pointed out the rudeness of his new grandchildren.  “Wouldn’t it be good manners to treat everything in that area with the same respect you would want for yourself?” he asked, incredulously.

All the children looked down, every one guilty in their ignorance.

Grandfather was quiet for a minute, then, as he looked into their eyes he said softly . . . kindly . . . “You didn’t know . . .   You couldn’t have known . . . No one taught you.”

The children looked into his eyes, gratefully.  Little Girl felt she had been forgiven for her mistake.

When Grandfather Coyote excused them for dinner he offhandedly suggested they might want to go and thank the areas they camped in, and express their gratitude.

To be continued . . .

My Amazing Crew of Young Men!

 Digging out a bush is hard work! With my health so poor that exertion makes me winded and my heart race, having a crew of young men is an amazing thing.
When my two young grandchildren begged to stay with me for a couple days, I warned them I would put them to work. They eagerly agreed so today we are creating a space for the next vegetable herb garden.

I am very proud of them. I give them breaks every hour to play games for 30 minutes, and then we get back to work. We will have ice cream treats when we’re finished.

Update: after trying to pull the stump out with the truck, and having the rope break, my grandson put his back against the wall and pushed with his feet and knocked the stump loose. It was only a matter of minutes until they had pulled it completely out.

Making a Cottage Art Studio : Part 2 – A Zen Attitude

When Melanie left I felt sad, partly because I would miss her and partly because I wanted us to keep working on the art studio!!!  We put one of the 8 paned windows in before she left, and I put the other one in the next day with the help of my sister, niece, and daughter.

Today I decided to make needed repairs on the structure surrounding the area intended for the French doors and also create a space to install the doors.  I was so happy that I had the strength and energy to work on this section without Melanie helping me.  My son Ryan helped when I needed an extra hand, and so did my niece and her son.  It doesn’t look like much yet but I can see the finished product in my mind, and this cottage art studio is going to be beautiful!

Seeing and helping parents work on projects like this is so good for kids, too.  One nice thing about homeschooling is the kids are home to see and help with whatever project we are doing.  Melanie says watching and helping me work on projects while growing up gave her the confidence to tackle similar projects in her own home.  Seeing her work on this cottage with me the other day was sure proof of that, she was the boss lady and I was the helper!

Knowing how easily I tire, my daughters Melanie and Melissa talked to me about going forward with this construction in a “Zen” way.  Work when I have the energy, rest when I need to, and enjoy each step of the process.  It’s all about the journey.

Those Verbally Abusive "Dot" People!

“Dot” people is a term used by a Kirk Duncan, a lecturer who works to help people improve their lives and relationships.

The voices, spirits, influences, energies, whatever you want to call them . . . that speak to us in our heads are typically present in everyone’s life.  You know, that little voice in the back of your head.  The one saying, “There’s no voice in the back of my head!”  We may think they are all our voice, but they are many voices, possibly from our past memories, but also possibly from good or bad forces working to help us, or influence us negatively.

Some of the voices are good and guide us well if we listen.  Once, when I was getting ready to drive, I heard a little voice in my head say, “Maybe you should let John drive, if you drive you will get a ticket.”  I responded in my head, nonchalantly, with, “Well, I will just be extra careful”.  I got in the car and drove, with John as my passenger, and I got pulled over for speeding in a construction zone.  I had not seen the sign.  I got a ticket.

Some voices are not helpful — the ones Kirk Duncan calls the Dot people — they criticize, condemn, judge, flatter, etc.  Those are the voices that say things like, “You are better than the rest,” or, “You’re so selfish,” or, “You are so lame.”

What I realized tonight is that the positive, good influence voices, speak in a non abusive way; and the critical, bad influence voices, or Dot people speak in an abusive way.

“The Verbally Abusive Relationship”, a book by Patricia Evans, explains that verbal abuse comes from other people pretending to be you and saying how you feel, think, act, and what you do, did, want to do, should do, etc.  For example, someone might say to you, “You should get your car fixed,” or, ” You need to get your degree,” or ” You don’t want that butter brickle ice cream, you want the vanilla.”  Verbal abuse can also be a commanding voice, “Move over,” or “Get a haircut,” or, “Take out the garbage.”  When one person pretends to be another, claiming to know what they think, feel, want, etc., it can be very confusing to the person they are pretending to be.  When a person uses the commanding verbiage, it can cause the person hearing it to resist and feel agitated or angry.

One can learn to communicate the same ideas without being abusive.  Instead of saying, “Fix your car,” one could say, “Have you considered getting your car fixed?”  The idea of getting the car fixed is communicated, but not as a command or judgement, but as a suggestion.

The positive helpful voices always speak in suggestions, like: “You might need that umbrella today,”  When I don’t listen, I wish I would have, because later I realize I needed the very thing that was suggested.  When I listen, I’m always glad I did.

The Dot people on the other hand, speak in abusive ways; in commands, criticism, or flattery.

Realizing this confirmed to me again that Patricia Evan’s book is correct.  To be a positive influence in other people’s lives, we can speak in ways that allow and encourage free agency rather than trying to control and manipulate, like the Dot people do.

One might ask, “But how can a parent control their child if a parent can’t say, ‘do this, don’t do that?'” There are ways of getting around the abusive speak and still communicate parental expectations.  Instead of saying, “Go clean your room,” you could say in a noncritical tone, “How’s your room looking?”  A gentle question reminds the child about the room and gives them the opportunity to think of cleaning it themselves.  If the child doesn’t take the hint, or avoids, a parent can remind the child about the rules in a positive, non critical tone, “OK, once the room is clean, you can go out to play (or whatever the next activity is).”  A gentle, non nagging question reminds the child without creating so many feelings of resistance.

I am grateful for authors like Patricia Evans, who figure things like this out and give me a boost in my understanding.

Those Verbally Abusive “Dot” People!

“Dot” people is a term used by a Kirk Duncan, a lecturer who works to help people improve their lives and relationships.

The voices, spirits, influences, energies, whatever you want to call them . . . that speak to us in our heads are typically present in everyone’s life.  You know, that little voice in the back of your head.  The one saying, “There’s no voice in the back of my head!”  We may think they are all our voice, but they are many voices, possibly from our past memories, but also possibly from good or bad forces working to help us, or influence us negatively.

Some of the voices are good and guide us well if we listen.  Once, when I was getting ready to drive, I heard a little voice in my head say, “Maybe you should let John drive, if you drive you will get a ticket.”  I responded in my head, nonchalantly, with, “Well, I will just be extra careful”.  I got in the car and drove, with John as my passenger, and I got pulled over for speeding in a construction zone.  I had not seen the sign.  I got a ticket.

Some voices are not helpful — the ones Kirk Duncan calls the Dot people — they criticize, condemn, judge, flatter, etc.  Those are the voices that say things like, “You are better than the rest,” or, “You’re so selfish,” or, “You are so lame.”

What I realized tonight is that the positive, good influence voices, speak in a non abusive way; and the critical, bad influence voices, or Dot people speak in an abusive way.

“The Verbally Abusive Relationship”, a book by Patricia Evans, explains that verbal abuse comes from other people pretending to be you and saying how you feel, think, act, and what you do, did, want to do, should do, etc.  For example, someone might say to you, “You should get your car fixed,” or, ” You need to get your degree,” or ” You don’t want that butter brickle ice cream, you want the vanilla.”  Verbal abuse can also be a commanding voice, “Move over,” or “Get a haircut,” or, “Take out the garbage.”  When one person pretends to be another, claiming to know what they think, feel, want, etc., it can be very confusing to the person they are pretending to be.  When a person uses the commanding verbiage, it can cause the person hearing it to resist and feel agitated or angry.

One can learn to communicate the same ideas without being abusive.  Instead of saying, “Fix your car,” one could say, “Have you considered getting your car fixed?”  The idea of getting the car fixed is communicated, but not as a command or judgement, but as a suggestion.

The positive helpful voices always speak in suggestions, like: “You might need that umbrella today,”  When I don’t listen, I wish I would have, because later I realize I needed the very thing that was suggested.  When I listen, I’m always glad I did.

The Dot people on the other hand, speak in abusive ways; in commands, criticism, or flattery.

Realizing this confirmed to me again that Patricia Evan’s book is correct.  To be a positive influence in other people’s lives, we can speak in ways that allow and encourage free agency rather than trying to control and manipulate, like the Dot people do.

One might ask, “But how can a parent control their child if a parent can’t say, ‘do this, don’t do that?'” There are ways of getting around the abusive speak and still communicate parental expectations.  Instead of saying, “Go clean your room,” you could say in a noncritical tone, “How’s your room looking?”  A gentle question reminds the child about the room and gives them the opportunity to think of cleaning it themselves.  If the child doesn’t take the hint, or avoids, a parent can remind the child about the rules in a positive, non critical tone, “OK, once the room is clean, you can go out to play (or whatever the next activity is).”  A gentle, non nagging question reminds the child without creating so many feelings of resistance.

I am grateful for authors like Patricia Evans, who figure things like this out and give me a boost in my understanding.