Monday, July 30, 2007

Donkeys, Emus and Chickens, Oh my!

Isn't she adorable?

I was recently welcomed at Treworlas Farm in Beckwith, WV to capture some images of the adorable, the furry ...the exotic and exceedingly happy animals living there. What fun!!

I met many miniature donkeys along with their foals, countless varieties of chickens and their broods, emus, black swans, Percherons, goats and a few cows that I've not seen in any zoo, let alone in West Virginia. It was a wonderful opportunity and I wish I'd had more time to spend that morning.

As I wandered about, making my way through the fields to follow the little donkey herd, I heard a distinct bass-sounding noise: "rummm...rummm....rummm" something akin to Tolkien's Ents, I imagine. I couldn't figure it out, so chalked it up to some distant machinery laboring away. The strange thing was, however, that wherever I went, the noise was sure to follow, or stay just ahead of me. Weird.

The Percherons were the most enormous horses I've ever stood beside. At 18 h., it's a good thing they are truly gentle giants. In order to tend to their feet, Arthur, the farrier, has to put the horse in a stock to secure them. This contraption looks medieval, but is a God-send to those who must diligently trim and shoe these gigantic hooves.

A while later, as I was chatting with Arthur's assistant, he mentioned being intrigued with the attentive emu walking around in the pasture with the mini donkeys. He said, "I love the sound they make,'s really cool". I asked, "What do you mean? I haven't heard a peep from him. "Well, they kind of sound like a bass drum ...a very low vibration made in their throat I think." I got a good chuckle from that! So, was the emu following me around the whole time.

The chickens, well...chickens in general have never impressed me much, even less as a subject to photograph. But I've been missing out- I may even attempt a fine art print out of the images from Treworlas Farm! ha ....there is such a variety of poultry living there. This little fellow really caught my eye:

Treworlas Farm left a wonderful impression; a most serene and joyful place. I hope to go back again, especially in the spring when the babies will be born.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Prayer & Contemplation

“Be still and know that I am God” from Psalm 46: 10 reminds us to put aside our busy activity, our worries, anxieties and fears and be quiet. How difficult that is with the lifestyles we lead today.

We’re constantly in motion and when we aren’t, we feel guilty. Or, maybe it’s just a mom-thing to feel guilty. We have an urgent sense of caring for our families, preparing meals, being the taxi to the next event, keeping the home in order, being a nurturer to our children and being accessible to them whenever they need us. The list is endless as we consider our active role as mothers, sisters, friends and wives.

On this theme of constant motion and activity, J. Philip Newell wrote: “It is a haunt of madness that reflects the self-destructiveness of refusing to be still”

As I’ve spoken to other mothers it’s a common occurrence that we understand one another when we say we are exhausted, that we fall into bed at night, wiped out. And even then, before we can rest our minds, we’re going over all the events of the day, checking off our mental lists and thinking about what we have to accomplish tomorrow. And, just before sleep there is that moment of prayer…while trailing off to slumber.

It’s no wonder we seek refreshment and books to inspire us…no wonder we long for vacations to lift us out of our daily routines and rest. We have to find a tangible reason to rest, something we’ve earned through hard work or a significant accomplishment. Then, aaahhhh…we feel justified in being still, on the beach or in the mountains or by some pristine lake.

This, however, was not the example set by Christ. His was a ministry of perfection, marked by obedience and balance. He taught, he healed, he feasted, he listened, he prayed, he rested, he fasted…in a rhythm that was nurturing to Him, nurturing to us as we follow His example.

Since becoming Orthodox, I have recovered a daily sense of spiritual refreshment through my prayer life. And this refreshment goes a long way toward my roles as mother, wife and friend... as we are comforted, so we may comfort another.

Not long ago, as the kids and I were having a devotion outside on a beautiful summer morning, I asked them to be quiet for two full minutes and see what they could hear. They closed their eyes and listened. Afterward, they told me they heard the birds singing, a distant lawn mower, the wind. How important it is that we learn how to quiet ourselves to be attentive to the world around us, to God speaking to our hearts in those quiet moments.

If we never take time to be still, how will we ever have anything to offer another?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Low Expectations

Entrepreneurs, I've got some words of wisdom for you: good customer service. If you provide this from the get-go, you'll be heads and shoulders above the rest.

Maybe I'm becoming too cynical, but when it comes to purchasing/exchanging goods or enlisting services, I have low expectations. This serves me well because it increases my chances of being pleasantly surprised and lowers my chances of being disappointed.

I don't expect the lady at the drive-through to get it right everytime. Sampling new foods is adventure eating! Nor do I expect all the sizes/colors to be correct in the clothes I ordered online. Hey, maybe puke green looks better on me anyway. I didn't even get bent out of shape when the poncho I returned for exchange, became a return for full refund. I probably didn't need it anyway...

I have come to find it humourous that everytime I take my animals to the vet, I have to make sure they have the correct 'amy', since apparently there are two of us with very similar ID's. This came to my attention when they inquired about my dying cat. "What dying cat?" I asked with a puzzled face. "Oh....uhm,....aren't you at 135 Oakvale?"


"Oh, sorry."

I'm sure there's a silver lining to it. Maybe I can inquire about that other amy's bill.

Low expectations serves me well, but I do have my boundaries. What really pushes my buttons is when I have a problem, a defect with the product, poor service, etc. and have to make an exchange or inquire over the phone and I am met with apathy or worse, disdain.

Whatever happened to "the customer is always right" ? More likely, it's an attitude of "what do YOU want? why are YOU bothering me ...*sigh* only 30 more minutes till 5:00."

Ohhhh...I try so hard to be calm, to take names. Today I've waited at home all day for the repairman to fix our dryer. This appt. was made days ago, online with e-mail confirmation and ALL pertinent information correct. When I finally looked up the phone number (funny how they never give you a phone # anymore ) to inquire, the conversation would have been laughable had I not been so angry.

Not only did they not have our service order in their system, they had my in-laws phone number and P.O. Box on file, tagged for this service ....from six years ago. The young lady on the phone informed me that had the phone number been current, the repairman would not have had trouble reaching us.

This is where I had the mixed emotion of giggling .... and pulling this young girl's ponytails.

I calmly explained that all info on the e-mail confirmation was correct, the number, st. address, time of appt., date set, etc,, etc. AND that I had been waiting all day. (Why is their time always more valuable than mine?!) I refrained from saying that the company would receive an invoice from me for the $59.00 service call.

Anyway, I have HER name and all pertinent information. She now knows their online customer service system has a glitch and needs addressed. She knows that I was an unsatisfied customer and will be taking my business elsewhere.

My moral for the day - don't expect much. It'll keep your blood pressure lowered and when you DO meet those rare gems who provide service with a smile, you'll feel like you just won the lottery ... well, almost.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Getting Settled In

I am working to set up the features of this blog, so many customizations to play with! It is good to have another creative outlet, one to share where I'm at in this journey. I've added a little about St. Brigid today, more to follow.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A New Chapter

Ah, I am finally breaking into the "official" blogging world. I've carried on a tapestry @ my Christian message board, Sparrow's Hearth, , for some time now. Since I read a few other blogs on this network, I thought I'd give it a try.
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