Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!" - From "Rabbi Ben Ezra" by Robert Browning

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Thrill Is Gone

Grapes growing in the trees between the Kitchen Garden and the dog pen.
I'm sorry it has been so long since my last post. Somehow, our calendar cleared in May, and we had a couple of very light weeks in which to relax (for the most part). I've spent part of the time still trying to organize the house, and John and I have used some of this time together to finally get our garden in.

The new garden, yet unnamed, where the chickens used to live.
My enthusiasm for the garden this year has really been non-existent. It has taken me months to decide that I even want a garden. Of course, wanting a garden isn't an option for John and I. We have to have a garden to supplement our income, and free up our cash for other necessities. So, perhaps it has been more a case of procrastination. I'm not sure.

A month or two ago I bought lots of veggie plants while I was waiting to decide, but left them to John's care while I tried to figure out if I was going to participate in the planting of the garden this year or not. I really thought I'd get more interested before now, but John has been very good to wait patiently for me to make up my mind and join him in the garden. I'm glad I finally did.
A variety of sweet and hot peppers in the new garden.

When my mother passed away two years ago (this August), my life changed significantly. I not only lost my best friend and cooking muse, I lost the best reason I had for getting out of the house for social activity ~ visits to see my parents. It took a lot of time to convince my parents to move to Georgia so we could be closer and take care of each other; but they finally moved here in January, 2006, and I couldn't have been happier! Though I would have loved to have them living next door, the closest property we could find was 20 minutes from 5~Acre Farm. Here at home, or at their place, the four of us would get together at least once a week to share meals, movies, music, laughter, and marvelous, rich, hours-long conversations that were most frequently about scripture, and the deep things of God. These visits were my greatest stimulation and inspiration!

Cucumbers in the new garden.
Tomatoes in the main kitchen garden.

Since Mother passed, I haven't been very stimulated by or inspired about much of anything. I've tried. I've prayed. I've looked deep into myself. I've looked far outside myself. I've explored options. I've pushed myself. Nothing. My interest in everything seems to have dropped off significantly in spite of my desire otherwise. So, nothing has caught my imagination or stimulated me in the slightest! Well, except for two things.
Overflow tomatoes in the spring garden

Master Chef entry: Neck Bones & Jasmine Rice
Last fall I auditioned for Chef Gordon Ramsay's television show, Master Chef. The idea of a cooking competition definitely stimulated my imagination and my competitive nature, and it reignited my love of cooking! The fact that I might even have a chance to meet Ramsay was an added incentive. So I spent a couple of weeks going through my recipes and found a "signature dish" that I spent a month perfecting for my audition at the Culinary Institute in Atlanta. Although I was eliminated in an early round of the competition, I had a great time, met some awesome people, gave a young woman a plate (when she realized she was supposed to bring her own and didn't), and, for a little while, I dreamed!
Yellow Squash and Zucchini

Smoked Pork Neck Bones & Jasmine Rice

Tomatoes, Cucumbers, bolting lettuce, and basil in containers
Our first two baby squash!
Then, there was my decision to renew this blog in the new year. I have to say, I have enjoyed it. This blog has been a good project for me. It is a daily incentive to find something new and worthwhile to write about. It is stimulation to my creative thinking process, and it gives me a reason to get outside, take more pictures, and observe my life more objectively to see what, if anything, might be interesting to others. It has been challenging, at times, to come up with ideas for the blog, even though some weeks there are so many things going on, I can't begin to write about them all! And it has been surprising to see which posts have gotten the most attention (recycling an old mattress set, and handgun classes). It was also truly heartwarming to learn that there are people reading my blog, enjoying it, and even being inspired by it! Wow! I never saw that coming, but it has been a real morale booster, to say the least.
Cabbage & collards left to flower for the bees and go to seed for collection

Many homesteaders today work full or part-time jobs. Besides providing an income that keeps their small farms going, employment, and activities with friends, on or away from the farm, provide morale through much needed social stimulation. Friends, co-workers, and those people briefly criss-crossing our lives as they pass through their own, are a breath of fresh air for the isolated homesteader.

Knowing other people, and meeting new people, is stimulating! Our imaginations are awakened, and our blood stirred by fresh feelings. New thoughts and ideas are often birthed, and we are inspired to dream bigger, reach further, and jump higher than we might have otherwise been inclined to do - because of our relationships with other people.

My own life here at 5~Acre Farm is pretty isolated. John and I visit his family several times a year for birthdays and holiday gatherings, we see members of my family several times a year, and we have a small church family that we gather with each Sunday. Doctor visits and errands, which don't count as social outings (or dates, John), do bring us in contact with others, and are sometimes pleasant and stimulating; but our lives, for no intentional purpose, lack the richness that leisure time with friends offers. What I'm saying is that John and I have each other, but we don't have any close friends. So we manage, and we compensate.

Facebook is a godsend for the isolated and shut-ins. John and I are both pretty active on Facebook. John is at his computer for a while each morning and each afternoon, and I'm at my computer on and off all day.

Tiny tomatoes!

Like everyone else, I have several hundred Facebook friends. Many were added because of the FB games I no longer play, and some were added because of common interests like gardening, canning, or prepping. The majority of all these friends are Christian. Overall, I enjoy following everyone's adventures, "Like"-ing their posts, laughing with them, praying with them, and even crying with them when they suffer sorrow. There is only a handful of these friends who cross my path on a daily basis though, whom I feel I've been getting to know a little more than casually; a few people I really like calling friends, who, even online, help fill that social void in my life.

I have had one very special Facebook friend who met a lot of the criteria I mentioned above. Living on opposite sides of the country, we of course have never met. We haven't spent a lot of time chatting, nor have our conversations been of a personal nature. We simply have been crossing paths once or twice a day for a moment or two, and sharing a few laughs, family stories, gardening experiences, and the Word of God. Most of all, there has been a lot of mutual encouragement through difficult times. 
Our crabapple trees in bloom.

This week our Facebook friendship ended. In parting ways, I realize that I will sincerely miss what this friend brought to my semi-isolated life; a marvelous sense of humor, a gifted story-telling style, a powerful devotion to family, and an unquenchable desire to serve God at a deep and passionate level. Every encounter we had encouraged me to persevere through my own physical and financial hardships, to re-envision my own dream and keep reaching for it, to laugh and smile, and to remember that I am on a path that God is laying out before me on a moment to moment basis. Sadly, I will not soon get over the loss of this good friend.

But change comes - joyfully, sorrowfully, confusingly - it comes. Sometimes it is expected, but often enough, it is not, and how frustrating that can be! So, since we can't stop change, we have to figure out where we fit in with change when it comes.

I think, the thing to do with change is to embrace it. You are still there in the midst of the change, and who you are doesn't have to change - not by your choice and not at the demand of someone else. You simply have to adapt. I simply have to adapt. That's the embrace! Adapting! I've always been good at that. I realize, however, that I haven't been adapting for some time. I think I've been standing stiffly in one place for too long, stubbornly trying not to move until what I'm tired of chasing comes to me. Isn't that ridiculous? How did I ever let myself get stuck there?

So it's time to loosen up, time to walk away from stubbornness and indecision, to run even, forward, toward that dream I still have for a happy, self-sustainable lifestyle shared with my beloved husband, even if it is only ever just the two of us here at 5~Acre Farm. It's time to embrace the change, even the things I might not like, so I can continue on the path that God is placing before me one step at a time. If the thrill is gone, then it's time for me to find my thrill and get it back!

What about you? Is there something you need to let go of so you can move forward? Is there some change that you need to embrace so you can adapt and move on? Just remember, God is still there with you, placing your path before you, one step at a time! Now go get your thrill back!

No comments:

Post a Comment