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Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15a NIV)I would love to hear from you, if you don't have a blog you can still comment, join google it's free. I appreciate hearing from you.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Just a Little snow..........

Here we are only just beginning Winter and we have so much snow....... Well the road commission says "Hope everyone had a Christmas filled with wonder and joy! In case your "wonder" included, "I wonder how much snow we've gotten." The answer is we've measured 85 inches this season. Last year at this time, a whopping 16.5 inches. 'splains a lot!" .....sure does. Here it is not even 1st of year and my little poodles are confined to the deck. If we let them out the back garden they could walk over the fence right now.
This is the view down the road yesterday.
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And the other direction
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A few icicles
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The blue blue sky.....and my pines look like they have icing on them.
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The kitty footprints on the porch are ankle deep..........
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Then the snow on the front path.
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So we went for my eye appointment. It was still snowing. Here are a few pictures. Lucky me thats its not very far to go. One guy had a two hour trip in this stuff
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One guy was coming down the hill sideways but he stopped at the light sideways on, but he did stop. Then there were several trucks moving out the snow from the hospital car parks.we saw 3....
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The plants at the eye doctor were looking pretty against the falling snow.
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This is the guy who ended up going sideways. Little did he know that he would end up sideways at the light.........he thought he would be in the ditch haha. There were a few of those.
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Ah well, just one day in Northern Michigan.........Look at the bird feeder, you can see the snow is up to the fences so the poodles wont be out there for awhile. Hope for January thaw maybe.
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......and there is a lot more snow coming and it's going to get colder too. Should be below zero's next week. Ahhhhhh cant wait. Sigh!!!!
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Hustle and Bustle.....

Preparations for Christmas for me begin after Thanksgiving. We are not what you would call "social" people. We don't attend or give parties. So it should be straightforewards one would think. In fact I don't want to go to get togethers or do any of that fun stuff because I am either too busy or too tired. I used to enjoy it, years ago........pre Tristen, pre grandkids and so on. When going out, dressing up and all that was fun. Is it a natural progression or just me. Now having family for Christmas dinner is the height of "the season". Anything getting in the way of those preparations is a pain in the butt. That's not how it's supposed to be.
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Husle and bustle, yes thats what it has been since Thanksgiving. I write my list of things I want to accomplish. I write what I want to give as gifts and to whom. Then I decide I better get my Christmas cards done. The overseas first. I begin that chore, it should not be a chore, but it is. I love to send them, I don't like writing them. I adore getting them myself. So I start those, that usually takes a weekend. If I am decorating I do that over the Thanksgiving weekend. I need to start the week before next year. I need to start earlier. Its like, it feels so far away before Thanksgiving and then like a snowball rolling down hill it gets closer and closer and.........I am never ready. I am organized but. I have slowed down I decided. I must have. Or time moves quicker. What are the odds?
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Maybe next year I wont bake. I make cheeseballs for our neighbour and for friends. I usually make fudge. Not this year though. I am making cookies, and savoury treats to give to the kids and grandkids this year. I will use up all my baking things. Maybe then next year I will just buy the treats. Its cheaper. Do people really care? All I know is I can't any longer do it all. I enjoy doing it though so its a quandry. Still that's next year. This year I have loads to do yet. So why am I sitting here. I have one more day to finish the cleaning. My granddaughter Danielle will arrive some time on Monday. She is driving down from the U.P. I hope the weather is good, she will drive back CHristmas day, in the evening to drive 8 hours and then go straight to work at the hospital, where she is a nurse. Her room is ready. Jason will arrive Christmas Eve and his room is ready. Everyone else will show up at some point Christmas Day.
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When the 3 granddaughters were young and they came up from North Carolina we would play games like "hunt the thimble" and one year even played "Hide and seek" throughout the house. What a riot that was. Maybe they will teach their kids "hunt the thimble" when they have them. Now, I like a more quiet time. Mainly adults now, except for Reina and Tristen who will be wound up like springs. Justin and his family wont be here this year. We did see them over Thanksgiving. Tristen will have a very active social life, he will be going hither and yon. Gabrielle has to work but her boyfriend Tony and Cooper will be here. Laura and Robert with Reina. They will come for dinner, that has to be early this year I was told because Danielle has to leave. Dan is working.
So...........tomorrow I finish my baking and cooking. My cards are done, my shopping is done. The cleaning is done. Tonight I am relaxing.
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Amidst all the hustle and bustle, I must remember to be sure to remind Tristen what we are celebrating. He got a gift certificate in the mail the other day. We took him to Walmart to spend it, on the way he said " Nanny, I don't need anything. I want to give it to the old people"..........I have no idea where that came from. Melts your heart when they say things like that. Well, we went inside and he chose his toys. When we cashed out I gave him his money and he put it in the Salvation Army pot. As it was a gift certificate I figured he may as well spend it, but also be able to do what he wanted to. It's good to encourage generosity when young. So next time we went to the store, again he put money in the pot. He asked what they do with it. So I told him that its for children who wont get toys, for people who dont have food or homes and for those who are hungry. At Christmas I will explain the wise men's gifts and why we celebrate. That makes all the hustle and bustle worth while. None of us really need "things" ..........although my granddaughter Gabby is struggling, they dont earn much and have the baby. My daughter Laura and her family are always struggling over finances. I cant say we are well off, or even doing well but we are very very blessed. I believe that what we have needs to be shared. This coming year I want to make more effort to do that.
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To install in our children and their childrens children that giving really is more blessed than to recieve.....that is what makes Christmas for me and makes it all worth while.





Saturday, December 14, 2013

Merry Christmas................

I want to wish everyone a Happy Christmas. I also want to wish people Happy Holidays. I would not have said that before. I was one of those Christians who thought that people were trying to do away with Christmas.
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Well I sort of had a revelation. Not sure why or how but I did. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Saviour, of the Christ child. It's not really His birthday but is sort of like the Queen, she has an official birthday. We don't know the date of His birth and maybe that's because He would not want a "birthday" party. I don't know. What I do know, is that this is supposed to be a season of Love and Goodwill towards men.
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We use the symbols of Christmas to remember the day of His birth. The Star that guided the wise men to His humble place of birth. The Nativity set to show how He was accepted by the poor and the animals first. His angel spoke to the shepherds bringing "Tidings of Great Joy to ALL men" We give gifts to each other in rememberance of the Magi's gifts to the baby Jesus. Things used at His death and buriel.
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However a lot of what we do is also very pagan. The Holly, Misletoe, the tree among other things. So really can we say that we have not taken Christ out of Christmas already? It's a Hallmark holiday. It's commercial. It starts at Thanksgiving and the January sales begin right away. Boxing Day is not celebrated here in America. Twelth Night is gone. It's back to work day after and on with the every day hussle and bustle and returning of unwanted gifts. Instead we should be treasuring them because someone though about you and chose that item for you. I never ever return or exchange a gift. Years ago it was a "Christmas season" people gloried in it, family and friends were the focus. The bible stories were read to the children.
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I used to be very irritated when I was working. We ended up not being able to have a Nativity because it may offend someone. We could not have a tree because someone was a Jehovah Witness. That made me angry. I used to decorate our department but when I had to stop using the things that made it Christmas I refused to do it anymore. To me its NOT about Santa.
I tollerated a holiday I really despise without spoiling the fun for those who love Halloween. I could have. So why oh why can we not be left to do our own thing, within reason.
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So where am I going with this you may ask.............My own revelation was this. It is not JUST Christmas. It really isn't. It is a season for many religions to celebrate. Kwanzaa is a week long celebration. Hanuuka is the Jewish festival. Yes, on the calender it is marked as Christmas, because its always been that way. This country and many others now are made up of many many non Christians. If we as Christians are to be loving and kind and worship our Lord, then don't we need to accept it with grace and pleasure that someone wishes us a Happy Holiday, because they do not know what our religion is. Not just because its a date on the calender that says Christmas. We need to greet people with Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays because it really is BOTH. How can we be seen as loving human beings who worship our Lord and then turning away a blessing by saying ITS CHRISTMAS, DONT TAKE CHRIST out of Christmas.........This is just my recent thoughts. I do understand now why a business must "not offend" its customers who may be of a different religion. Ironically, in places like some of the Arab countries they allow people to celebrate Christmas openly and by decorating Malls etc for their guests who are Christian. Can we not be as kind.?..........We can NOT take Christ out of Christmas unless we do it ourselves by our commercialism. By loosing the meaning of Christmas, by calling it Xmas.
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Christmas is not about shopping, in what we get for Christmas, it's about Love, Peace, Joy, reflection, family, friends and above all it's about God, who came down to dwell amongst us, to die for us, to save our souls. Don't lets forget that by being petulant when someone says Happy Holidays, because it IS a holiday after all. Or being rude and saying "Its Christmas" because for them it may not be, but they are still wishing you joy......say peace be unto you, let the love of Christ shine through you. Jesus told us to let our light shine before men............. Merry Christmas and Happy joyful Holidays.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Internal strife...........

I think most people know the Native American story of the two wolves. A very wise story. It is true, we have two sides to ourselves some times more than two. I am very conscious of this in my own life. I struggle daily to get the good wolf to be upermost in my life. Most of the time I think he is, but I can hear the other one grumbling not too far below the surface.
I spend quite some time on Facebook. I love it for keeping in touch with my cousins in England and in Australia and friends throughout the world. I have joined a few groups and some are about animals and fightin against cruelty, finding homes for abandoned dogs and cats. I like to think that spreading the word helps. I have had to stop though, I can no longer take seeing how evil some people are. The cruel things they do to helpless animals the way they throw away and old dog simply because he is old or sick. Or worse leaving him chained in an abandoned basement or yard to starve to death.
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I wont mention some of the hideous things I have seen as I don't want you to have that image in your mind. My wolf who is buried deep inside comes to the surface and is so angry he could kill and maim.....he is so full of hate and loathing for those people who commit those crimes. I have a job to get him back down in his cave and chain him again..............he has to be chained so as to keep him there. He is not a normal wolf, not a wolf at all (animals do not behave that way) I use that image unfairly because of the Indian story. My wolf is a demon.................
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I try not to use the word hate. I know I must love even the most unlovable. It is not for me to judge others and all that. I do try, try so hard but when I see the evil in the world I can not help myself. I feel the chains getting weaker............so I have stopped getting some of those posts even though people need to be aware. People need to stop buying fur for one thing. Find out, educate yourself as to where that fur comes from. Its not that animals are killed for their fur so much as the conditions they live in and the methods of killing. Such cruelty. I hear the chains begin to rattle.............puppy mills..........don't buy from pet shops. Again, educate yourself. When buying from a breeder, see the parents of the puppy.ask for references. Do the right thing.
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Don't buy animals as gifts unless you know they are welcome into a forever home.It's not just about animals. War is evil...........hunger is evil..........homelessness is evil.....making people beg for food and be denied health care because they can not afford it. Who are we to judge who is deserving of help? It's all evil and my wolf is tugging at his chains now.......Selfishness, making self the center of all. Face it, we cant take anything with us when we leave this world, we brought nothing in. Why are we so obsessed with things.? No other animal does what man does. No other animal collects so much stuff that they cant move it or leave it. We will fight to he death over what is "ours" .........well I have news folks, if you can not let go of a possession then it possesses you and not the other way around.
My wolf is angry now and feels the chance of coming up to the light.
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Jesus tells us to love one another. To give to the poor, to comfort the lonely and surely He would want us to do what we can to stop abuse of animals and children. He has us in a certain place in the world and we must bloom where we are planted. I can not stop what happens in another country, not in any meaningful way not with my lack of resources. I can speak up though. I don't need to see it to know evil exists. I must calm my wolf. Pet him and settle him down again. I will not allow hatred to get a grip in my heart. We can not say "why does God not do something about it" HE DID, he put us/me here on earth and we must share the blame if we cover our eyes. We must not be a part of the problem. I have things to resolve in my own life, I can not inspect another's life or motives. For now my wolf is calm. I know he is there but he will never be free as long as I believe that God has a plan, that God will some day see to it that justice is served. I feel sorry for my evil wolf.............maybe he didn't mean to be bad, but he is and I can not afford to be soft with him. I can not ever let him loose.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dreaming...............

What are dreams?...........do you ever think about that? I do. I have some amazing and puzzling dreams. I know they are in colour and they are sometimes like a movie. It's like I live another life inside my head. Is that me?.......I mean is the person in my dreams my spirit/soul? How does my mind process in pictures my thoughts. Does a blind person dream in the same way. I am serious, I don't know. Well I just researched that. I guess it depends. SO....back to what are dreams. My dreams are vivid and in colour.
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In my dreams I can fly, I can swim under water and breath. It a glorious feeling, is that our natural state? Should we be able to fly? What if?
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That is sort of how I feel sometimes. We are born into the world knowing nothing and not knowing we know nothing, we trust our mother without knowing what trust is. Yet even babies dream. Dogs dream, cats dream so I would imagine all animals dream. About what? It cant be all about our life experiences. I have dreams about a particular person, a guy, I don't know him in life yet I meet him now and then in my dreams. I recognize him, I love him I think.
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I dream of houses. I used to dream of my grandmother a lot when I was a kid and of her house, although it was not really her literal house I know in my dream that its hers. I used to dream of her when I was sad or in trouble. I knew she was someone to go to and was the rainbow over the hill. Now I dream of her home in a different way, I know its hers (but its not) and I seem to have this thing about antiques. There was a house I found in my dreams and its attic was full of antiques. Well I have been in other dreams and have known that I have this furniture tucked away somewhere, so in my dreams I remember from one to another.
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Sometimes my dreams are about my every day life but not often. Peopled with people I know or have known and I can tell why I am dreaming about what I am because it has come up during the day. Thats unusual though. I wonder really if we work things out in our dreams. That may be true sometimes but I am not sure I believe in symbolism. I mean I dream of snakes because in my dream I am in a place where I would worry about snakes like in real life. I dream of horses because I love horses. I see nothing symbolic about them, they are what they are.
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Anyway I am questioning reality..........since my sister in law just died. When a person is in a coma where does she go. Is she dreaming or is she drifting beyond this world? Is she getting ready for eternity or is she just "not there" What is the mind, thinking, dreaming, is it "US" our spirit/soul the real me. So that when I die that part of me goes back to where it came from before birth. When does it enter the infant, at conception or first breath. It was not until God breathed life into Adam that he became a living soul. So...is it upon that first breath that life enters us. Then what are we before that? Just a possibility?. Sigh!!!! What about when we have dementia? Do we drift off into the past? Do we meet with old friends on a differemt plane so that it becomes less desirable to return to this world? Are there different realities? God said he saw us in the womb, he knew us before the founding of the earth, so we must have always existed on some level.
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I am a Christian and so I do believe there is a life after death, that there are other realities I just can't quite figure out the connections. I know I am not supposed to but still I find it very fascinating and so death to me is the ultimate adventure. I am thinking a lot about my sister in law and I wonder if she has met Mr Mondela,I suppose its possible but I would think that its rather like the airport on a busy day........probably takes awhile to get through customs haha and he was a day behind.




Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Saying Goodbye.............

A sad day today. My sister in law Janice is in hospice. What can I say.............I came here to the USA in 1971 I have known her since then. Over the years we were not close but I enjoyed her company when I could. In the early years, when we were young we saw each other more than in recent years. She is a Georgia girl, came from a family very unlike the one we married into. We had that in common. She lived here in Traverse City in those days and so I saw them more often than in later years. They live in Florida now and we still live in Michigan. Her kids are here, well two of the 3 are. I feel so bad for them, and her husband. Janice was waiting for a new liver. That never happened. She was on the list for a transplant but truly was never well enough. She had been in and out of hospital the last 3 years. I think she got tired of it all. My other sister in law said she didn't follow through with what the doctors told her to do. I think she probably had enough and that got her to where she is today.
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My Dad was a POW in Japan and because of that he had health issues his entire life. He had several surgeries on his stomach and later his gall bladder. Each time something seemed to happen that made it not at all straightforward. So when he had a leak in a heart valve he had pretty much decided that was it for him. I was over here and he back in England. No one told me until he was actually in the hospital. They didnt want me to worry or try to get home. They felt I could not do anything so I should be told when I could not try.........I could have prayed.......well as it turned out he didn't survive. I believe he never intended to. He had been seen walking by his fathers old house and throughout the village, remembering. Saying goodbye as it was.
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I can understand that. We are only here for a season. When its time to go I think our body starts to prepare itself and connects to the mind in a way that makes the transition acceptable to us. Its different if you have small children, we know we must fight for life but, once our normal "duties" are complete and our kids as settled as they can be, then we can accept when its our time...............I believe Janice knew it was hers and was ready. After all she has been through, to remain probably did not seem worth the fight. Even with a new liver and all that would entail, it would have been a very long haul and apparently she was not willing to do that. The alternative was better. I would be that way I think. Its not something to fear, death is a part of life and living and is a transition like birth is. We can not know whats ahead the day we are born into this world as a helpless baby, we relied on our mother............now, in death we rely on our Father HE will not let her down. She is in good hands now. I know when its my turn that my Dad will be waiting along with my friends who have gone and who I dream of so often.......and soon my sister in law.
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I am glad Janice's kids made it down to Florida and that she was able to wait for them. It's hard to say goodbye, but its really see ya later..............enjoy your reunions Janice there will be plenty of rejoicing when you get home. As for me....see ya later alligator.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dunstable Downs............

The town near where I grew up is what used to be called a "Market Town" ....Dunstable. It was built up around a cross road around 1109 on the old Roman Rd that was built in the very first century, the Watling Street. An abbey was built there, that survived the dissolution during Henry V111 rule and became a church called "The Priory" The funeral procession of Queen Eleanor spent the night in Dunstable on her way to Westminster Abbey and an Eleanor Cross stood there for many years. Henry had his annulment from Catherine of Aragon announced from there. Dunstable being but 30 odd miles from London had frequent royal visitors from
the Conquest onwards.
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Growing up in a small village Dunstable was the nearest town to us. It was within walking distance. We walked everywhere. Maybe a couple of miles across the fields maybe less. The path we called "Dog Kennels" was the chosen route. It was called that because our local Squire kept his horses and hounds near the village green and the path ran behind there. Anyway, we would walk through "Rabbit Lane" across a few fields to a footpath that led to Dunstable. It came out conveniently by the town center. If we walk via the road we had to walk all the way through town. It was also scenic and looked out over fields, farms and the cement work pitts. At a distance they looked like lakes. As much as I hate Fox hunting, it was a part of village life and always has been. So our village had the horses and hounds
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Having walked that far it was still a long way to go to reach the Downs. Dunstable Downs. Chalk hills that run like fingers in the southern and middle part of England. The Chiltern Hills are the official name but to us they are just Dunstable Downs. Home to Whipsnade Zoo and The London Gliding club these days.
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Its a beautiful place to walk and for kids to play. All sorts of community events take place there. For me though just a place to hang out. Take picnics and when we were teens court boys.
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Very often we would take a picnic and sit on the side of the hills enjoying the views. We could be sitting there enjoying a sandwich and watch a Wallaby hop on by. They would escape periodically from the zoo and live there in total happiness. A bit disconcerting for the picnic person who wondered who else may be wandering around. They do take the elephants for a walk sometimes, all in a row holding tails. Not to worry they are inside the fences. I think?????. Some creatures can get out the gates though they have cattle grids but...........well some deer and the smaller things that wander outside their pens, like the peacocks do make that bid for freedom, but I think they also know where the food is so.
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When we were teens our favourite dance hall was at the foot of the Downs, so often enough it was a great courting spot with great views at night. Not sure we noticed though.
The flowers and butterflys and wee beasties all a part of English Downlands.............we loved to look for as kids. A whole different way of life. Country life at one with the creatures and land around us. Loving nature and simple things. Walking and climbing all kept us fit and healthy and happy.
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Laying on the grass, watching clouds, seeing shapes in them.........picking the harebell and listening to the bees drone in the clover. Yes the simple life.

Monday, November 18, 2013

My England................

I finished reading "A Fine Romance" ......I didn't want it to end. Every page was wonderful. It made me so homesick. It made me determined to go back soon. Susan Branch has an eye for what makes England so special. The details, the things she notices. The things I love. Only someone who truly loves the place would see it as she does. So..........what is it?
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One of her comments was that everything in England seems to have been made by hand. Places as old as Stonehenge and the cottages that have thrived for 500 to 800 years. The gardens that surrounds the castles and the cottages. The fact that the National Trust keeps things for posterity. People have no reserves in handing off their property to give to the country. Its so wonderful. In the days when the aristocracy dominated the lands and were the owners of vast properties, there came a time when the money runs out and rather than sell to be built on they gave it to us all. Forever. So our children and grandchildren can enjoy it forever into the distant future. Their legacy lives on and we can share it. So many of them open the homes they still live in so that their art treasures can be seen and appreciated. The amount that they get from the public may help them somewhat but it must cost a fortune (that many no longer have) to keep those places running and so when they reach the end of their pockets then the National Trust can carry on.
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We have had "The Green Belt" a vast stretch of land surrounding the city that is supposed to always stay "green" meaning no more building. Or only with a special permit. Some people have got through the restrictions somehow but its rare. So we can be assured that some country lasts for the wild things.
The hedgerows and meadows protected. As they should be. Some of those hedgerows have been there forever. They are a work of art. For someone who is not a farmer or a country person, or even British to appreciate that thrills the heck out of me. Susan Branch got it, understood and appreciated it. She was there at the right time for all the best things that England has to offer. The Spring, between May and June. You will see the lambs, the bluebells and all the wildflowers.
Primrose and Cowslip
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The oldness of it all, the history of it all...............I love the very dirt of England and all thats buried in it. Is that strange? There is so much under the surface, all our ancestors hidden in lost places along with their story. I could never never never give up my loyalty for my country. I could never be anything but English. She made me feel that in every bone of my body. I am grateful that I read that book. I treasured every page of it. Then there is our lovely Queen Elizabeth and her family. I have never been able to take that oath of citizenship, to be an American, it says that I owe no fealty to any King or Queen and only to the United States. I can't do it. It says "without reservation" ........nope just cant do it, I cant say it with my fingers crossed. I have to mean it, to want it and I don't.
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She even liked the food. Susan that is. I never understood how England got the reputation for bad food because I think its awesome. Don't get me started
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Then there are the country roads. The animals
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I could go on and on and on...............I found Susan Branch's blog, I am so happy with that and will enjoy that now. I am sad I finished the book but I won't put it away, not yet. I am going to explore some of her other books because she has shared some good recipes.
So for now I am saving my pennies and I hope she goes back and writes another book haha.................or maybe I will.