Happy Fall Y'all

It's here. The first official day of autumn. Most everyone I know says it is their favorite time of year. It is mine. Here's some of the reasons why...
Golden autumn mornings cast long shadows from our fir trees in the back yard.

Decorations of nature's fruits, flowers and happy findings.
(I found this cute antique pewter pitcher in Indiana for only a couple dollars. Don't you love successful treasure hunts?)

Fall brings out the crafty side of us. This is a new tea towel pattern for my "Faithful Hearts" line of fabric and home decor.

Shops are decorated so cute this time of year. I got that old pottery jug from an antique store for only $4.00 in Indiana. No wonder the antique shopkeepers travel back there to bring it to our western stores. It was a good thing I took a large, empty suitcase with me. It was just 2 pounds under the airline limit on my return!

Birds enjoy the autumn harvest for more than just feasting.

From our grapevines to mason jars in only hours. Yum!

I've come to enjoy the color orange in the gardens, and, even a spot here and there in the home.
Come autumn, orange explodes!

Take time during the harvest to sit a spell on warm autumn afternoons.
Enjoy the sight, smell and taste of autumn.

Peace Passes By

Our two-hour drive abruptly stopped as we reached the edge of town. The only traffic signal  in Shipshewana, Indiana, dispensed with the convenience of 21st century automobiles as we sat in a mile of backed up traffic watching many horse-drawn buggies pass us by. I was able to take a close look at the Amish farmsteads while we were in the traffic jam. Monday must be laundry day because almost every home had a clothesline filled with blue, purple, black and white clothing hanging in the sunshine. White homes, neatly kept yards and happy farm animals graced the slightly rolling land.
Today was Labor Day and the largest flea market in the midwest had opened its doors early for the holiday and last unofficial day of the summer tourist season.  It was fun to watch the beautiful horses trot down the side of the street. The Amish carriages seemed a bit foreboding with their matte black paint and tiny slits in the side for windows. But, just one smile at the buggy inhabitants and you knew these Amish folk were as happy as we were to be going to such a fun event on this gorgeous day. The parking lot had a large side corral filled with the horses and buggies, and the Amish jumped out of their vehicles, as did we, to race for the bargains.

We decided to split our group; the men stayed at the flea market and we went to the antique shops and gift stores up the street. I wanted to get an interview with an Amish lady for an article and also some pictures (being respectful of their beliefs and not photographing any faces.) The town businesses were mostly owned and run by the local Amish. Too busy with such a hectic day filled with tourists, I was unable to interview anyone, but got some addresses and took pictures.

Too many shops to hit in 1 day! 
My husband's favorite shop, Yoder's Meat and Cheese, was especially busy as we entered the store fifteen minutes prior to closing. A jolly woman was frantically putting more cheese in the case to keep up with demand. I apologetically asked her where we could find a rib-sticking meal. She stopped what she was doing and seemed glad I had asked her. She gave me information, directions and a wonderful smile. It just happened to be Mrs. Yoder. We left the shop loaded with delicacies over an hour after closing, and the shop was still crowded with tourists and Mrs. Yoder was still smiling.

I am used to rude, or no, customer service. I was astonished to see the peace these people had amid the turmoil and the joy they exhibited while talking with us "english." The Amish do not feel that phones and cars and electricity are a sin. They do feel that such conveniences steal from a calm and pleasing life. After spending time in rural Indiana, I wonder how many of my conveniences are stealing my peace.

The straight, narrow, peaceful road. (In front of my sister Debby's farmhouse)

Debby's farmhouse in Francesville, Indiana

There are parts of our beautiful country that seem homey, more peaceful and more considerate than others. Life has slowed down. Then there are areas that are fast-paced, where everyone looks over their shoulder and feels life is a competition. Is the competition of daily living waving contentment and peace right past me?

Four generations played softball & football between corn fields.
Peace can be found in the faithful heart through following our Lord and God. That can be anywhere on earth. But, I wonder if the "conveniences" of life along with today's competitive lifestyle aren't stealing my days and robbing me of precious time for what really matters. I must look at the hours in my days and make them count for more than marks on my dayplanner.
Family Dinner
The table was too small for everyone (what a wonderful problem!)

The "What Ifs"

Excitement accompanied by mountains of work to get ready for a trip has left me feeling anxious. It seems that, whether for a weekend or two weeks, going out of town means over-extended hours filled with planning, packing and putting out last minute fires. Double the laundry, clean the fridge (who wants to come home to green cheese?) shop for toiletries (those miniature deoderant and toothpaste tubes that cost as much as the big ones) and pack for Callie the dog, complete with detailed instructions, to go to her doggie resort. I won't even get started on the outside chores. Mix that with work deadlines and it makes for some restless nights. When did getting ready for a trip turn into such a marathon?
"Do you have to go?"
In younger days I could pack a duffle bag and be ready within half an hour for a trip, no matter what the length of stay. Toiletries? Whatever soap, toothbrush and shampoo I could grab from the bathroom. I didn't even think about the "what if's." With each decade added to my driver's license, the list of "what if's" has bludgeoned. A mini medicine chest is packed among comfortable shoes, dress shoes, casual shoes and flip-flops. Maps, books, magazines, drawing pad and snacks are stuffed in a shoulder bag with the camera, extra batteries, and wallet. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
"Too much!"
I think about the freedom of youth due to being oblivious and naive. Life teaches us to plan or pay the consequences. I wonder, though, if I should try to give up some control of the "what ifs," which is really out of my control anyway, and deal with life as it happens. I'd be much happier to not fret about little things. I am sure there is a Walmart along my journey. Those big tubes of toothpaste really don't take up that much room. Green cheese can be tossed out. You can't find Moon Pies, White Castle or Corky's Smokin' hot Memphis BBQ sauce out here in Oregon, so buy regional!

Of course I am talking about the details of earthly life. The big picture of spiritual gifts and blessings are not to be thought of lightly, but made to grow for God's glory. That takes some planning and diligence. The Bible says we plan our course, but God determines our steps. Christ also talks of making our talents grow by planning wisely.
But, the little things that seem to matter only to us earthlings takes up so much time and energy that we lose sight of the big picture. Ipods and laptops and cell phones need uploads, downloads and charging. If we don't take control and plan for every "what if," the house, work and church might fall apart while we are gone. We might have to sit on a plane without earbuds and actually visit with someone!
The irony in this is that I am traveling to Amish country for both pleasure and to interview an Amish lady about her life. I need to get closer to the roots of life as God has planned for me and leave the time and energy stealers behind. I am looking forward to learning some lessons from the Amish. I'll keep you informed. Meanwhile, I'm going to unplug my computer and not worry about a last minute Facebook entry. That's a start, anyway!
"Let's enjoy our time together."