Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A lesson from Pom

Usually when I write about Pom on here I am referring to my great-grandmother, whose house we now live in, Pom Taney. It so happens though that both my maternal great-grandmothers were given the moniker 'Pom' by their grandchildren. Today's lesson comes from Pom Redfield.

This is Pom Redfield. I don't know the year the photo was taken. I doubt it is as old as the letter I am getting ready to quote. There she is though. I see a lot when I look in her eyes.

For lack of a word more accurate than 'luck' I happen to have a great many objects from mother's side of the family. Things no-one else has seen and didn't know existed ... except me!

This is a letter she began on June 27, 1902. She begins it "Dear Papa" and tells him "I am going to write you anyway if you did just go yesterday." A sentence later she mentions how "To-morrow I am thirteen. The boys says I am going to get a lot of whippings and I believe it." She then stops the letter because she has to go for dinner.

She picks the letter back up on June 29, 1902, the day after her thirteenth birthday. In the photo below is what she writes about her birthday.

"Last night we had a very nice time. We had Myrtle and a little friend of hers, Rachel Green, Alice, Harold, Ethel, Frank, Louise, and our family to have the fun.
We were to to have molasses taffy to pull and so while Jeanette was cooking it we played games. There was a dozen of us to pull it and so we had lots of fun. I wish you could have been here.
I got a bicycle and fifty cents from you
(*side note - I think she said 'you', there is a hole in the letter there and it makes it hard to know for certain*), a box of bonbons from the boys, (Bones and Jame), a bag of marsh-mallow cookies from Harold; and a plate of elegant fudges that Ethel and Alice gave me. Besides lots of whippings."

So -- why does this strike me so and what is the lesson? Ok, 1) let's all be clear - the whippings were in good fun. I know you remember getting them + one to grow on as y'all grew.
Since that's not it, what is it?

It's the general simplicity of the time. It's the gifts of food and the fun of pulling taffy. It's "we played games" and knowing they were likely outside playing them, making them up as they went. It's how much she honestly seemed to enjoy it. And she was turning 13!! THIRTEEN!! No cellphones. No designer clothes (hey, they had those back then).

These days if you go to a party, any party, you're likely to spend $20 at the very bare minimum on a gift. And that price is more accurate if you're lucky.
Things cost more than they did over a hundred years ago, that's obvious. Things cost more than they did five or ten years ago. But there is a bigger price paid.

You wind up paying a fair chunk of change for a gift. SOMETHING to give the person. Not something terribly special, but something that you might think they'd like or it might make you think of them. Just really a gift because it is __fill in the occasion__ and you have to get them a gift. A lot of times there is the added pressure of making sure that all the other people attending said occasion will be equally as wow-ed by your gift and envious that you found THAT to give to the honored person.

And they usually like it. But eventually it becomes clutter. More stuff. More toys that need batteries, which have to constantly be bought. More things you stub your toe on. More interesting items you set aside somewhere with a plan for it whenever that infamous "one day" comes along.

Sadly, if you asked me what I got for my birthday or Christmas I'd be hard pressed to tell you. And I'm not boasting because I got so much stuff. Comparatively speaking (in the Western/American society I live in) I didn't. But, in the end, most of it was likely stuff.

My Lesson From Pom & her Friends (oooh .. peer pressure!):

*Less is more.
*If you're going to get a gift, think about the person truly. Sometimes there are those truly special things and that's ok.
*Make them something.
*Make them food that, hopefully, you can all enjoy sharing.
*Make them a card, play-dough (
shout out to my friend Cat who made Shannon play-dough one year for his birthday. It was AWESOME!)
*Spend time with them on their special day. Have fun. Laugh.
*Laugh!! -- That was worth two lines.
*Create memories ~ they'll enhance your brain & your heart!

This is my new way of looking at occasions & gift giving. If you're attending something in our honor, please follow these lessons. If you have to spend something, try to keep it under $10.

Our economy is in bad shape. Our environment is in worse shape. We all, likely, already have too much stuff.

I hereby give us all permission to, from this moment on, be free of stuff. Follow Pom's lessons (and her friends' & family members'!) and embrace the simplicity and honesty of it all.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Welcome June!

A photo of our first true harvest of the year. 2lbs 5oz of shiny, freshly picked tart cherries. We went out early this morning to gather them before the temperature began to climb to high. Tristan has a skinned knee (which necessitates being carried as much as possible and dramatically hobbling when forced to walk) from a riding tumble so he sat on the bench, an old church pew, and watched as Shannon and I worked our way around the 6 1/2' tall tree. We picked one ... yes one, single, little strawberry this year. Our black-eyed susans have spread like crazy and choked them out. So, this is our first real harvest.

June is here. I don't know where you live but, as much as I love the Summer Solstice, it does NOT mark the beginning of Summer for me. Not when we have several days of temperatures in the 90's. Nope. Summer began a while back. Whenever it got hot enough for me to crave a pool. Which, amazingly enough, we got this year. Every year we've had some form of kiddie pool and this year is only a slight exception. We've been able to move out of the driveway and into the backyard where there now sits a 15' round above ground pool. Justin's parents had an extra one and so, viola, now we have a pool. Sure, I can sit on the bottom and the water comes up to my chin but, ya know what?? I don't care!!! Because it is nice and cool!! It's a friggin' tropical paradise in my mind! I would seriously spend the majority of my time there lately if I could. Of course, once Tristan decides he routinely likes getting in the pool that'll just make the experience even better. Right now it's a battle that involves lots of tears and screaming and forcing him into a swimsuit, then sometimes literally plopping him down in the pool. He cries for a minute or so then remembers that he really LOVES playing in the pool and happily does so for a couple of hours.

The chickens aren't too thrilled about this heat though I am sure they're at least happy that we decided (wisely it seems given the heat) that after last year's HOT HOT Summer they needed more shade and so their 'winter chalet' has become their permanent home. Plus, the tractor needs rebuilding and I don't think it would've survived being hauled around the yard much longer.
But since they still aren't so happy about the heat they aren't laying quite as productively as they had been. We've had a couple of no-egg days. Though, when I went out to gather yesterday's eggs this morning (yea, I forgot yesterday, it happens) I found Patti nesting on the floor of the coop. I leaned in there and forced her off. She was sitting on 3 eggs. I am hoping they are not that old. I don't think they are, and I know they're fine outside the fridge for quite a while on their own anyways.
So .. it's Tally Time!!

May Egg Tally: 79 eggs (only three less than in April)
Year To Date Egg Tally: 349

Still pretty sweet!!

Also going on around here ... hmm, let's see. Shannon is in the process of doing his first year of end of the year testing required for homeschooling. Justin is the one handling this as I have a lot of issues with the whole thing. Plus, it allows him to have some more direct involvement with their schooling and that is good.
Tristan just finished up Story Time at the local library for the year and this Summer we'll be sending in his first NOI for kindergarten.
We've finally got a logo for our brewery, which is pretty sweet. If you want, take a second and go check it out We've even been able to get some merchandise for it already which is really cool. I'll post the photos of that stuff on that blog as soon as I can.
You may have noticed the profile photo change on here. Finally a photo of me with dreads!! My dreads are already 6 months old now. Yes, people with dreads talk about "how old their dreads are." Dreads are an on-going thing. They change as they age. It's cool. Except in Summer, when your dreads reach down the middle of your back. Then it's pretty darn hot. High ponytails have become a staple for me. But, again, here is where dreads can be fun. You can wrap up a pretty massive bun if you've got the length for it (I do!). You can tie your hair up in an updo using one or two of your dreads ~ try that with a pencil!! I have been known to wear mine up in high pigtails using only the dreads themselves to secure them. Plus there are wraps and bandanas and etc to wrap them up with. That's always really fun.
And, finally, a reason why I haven't been posting on here as much. I've taken on more work with the Main Street Newspapers. I now do at least a feature a week for The Vinton Messenger and the Cave Spring Connection papers. I also do here & there stuff for The Salem Times Register. ALSO - I'm now doing a lot of online stuff for them. You can check them out at
It's really, really cool and something I love doing. I finally am getting paid to write. Very cool. However, it is also a huge adjustment period for me. Being able to work from home means I can work whenever, but it also means I need to learn to decided when exactly that whenever might be, and (very importantly) when it isn't.
So, to try and implement this, this morning here is what I've done: picked cherries, weighed cherries, gotten sourdough bread going, fed the sourdough starter, fed the kefir, got the dishes going, fed dogs, gathered eggs, done the tallies, BLOGGED!, sent kids to their rooms for fighting, and then let them play outside once they've decided their done fighting. No, I haven't gotten my shower yet (be glad you can't smell me through the computer I suppose), but I'll get to that shortly. And I've only checked work email through the phone, where I haven't replied, just looked at one email. :)

And there is the beginning of our Summer here. How is your's going?