Welcome to our family blog to keep you updated on all the happenings around the Walker cottage and "farm". Even though we live in a rural section of the Tennessee Mountains life is far from boring as you will see.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

APRIL MAY WALKER NEWSLETTER

Hello!

I planned to send a newsletter with the Easter cards and just as I was working with the cards. Jack (the cat who always gets into trouble) jumped up behind my computer- which he knows is off limits- landed right on my old surge protector that I didn't know was faulty, and crashed my computer. So I am combining April and May together before it turns into a book.

I finally got all my garden planted and the peas, red beets, spinach, lettuce, and green beans are up and growing.  There is nothing calming like digging in the garden, turning over nice dark soil of what used to be hard clay as you clear out weeds to get ready to plant seeds, feeling the warm sun on your back, hearing birds sing all around you while Tex suns himself, and rolls around on the warm earth feeling far removed from worrying about what else is going on in the world. I always marvel at the tiny seeds you plant in the earth with anticipation knowing the rain and sun will bring them back to life again and sprout forth into plants a hundred times bigger than what you scatter in the ground. And just when I thought all the cold weather was past lo and behold if we aren't having sudden freezes and frost this week right before Mother's Day. So yesterday I was outside covering up my tomato plants and tucking them in with straw (that are already blooming), mucking out the duck and hen house, closing up windows again, and putting more straw down to keep the animals warm and cozy. I have so enjoyed hanging out the wash on the line each week. It makes a person lift up their head as you reach up to clothespin the clothes and take a moment to gaze upwards into the blue sky bordered by newly green tree leaves while feeling gentle warm winds blow. So if you are feeling anxious find some dirt to dig in or go outside- even if you can only open up a window and poke your head out- for a bit.
The iris are blooming- a welcome sign after a hard frost last month killed most of my wisteria and the azalea blooms. I even have some roses blooming. Thankfully the purple money plants and pansies aren't affected by cold weather. Each week I think I will be able to put out my hanging flowers and window box container plants only for the temp to dip down so I have to be patient and wait.
What has been quite thrilling is seeing all the birds coming back. My bluebird parents are busy feeding their babies in the corner bird box, the ruby throated hummingbirds have arrived along with the rose breasted grosbeaks, but what is most exciting is to see some warblers up close, and for the first time ever see red winged blackbirds at my feeders- something I remember seeing as a child up North. Since I live in a wooded area, I’ve not seen any until now.

I somehow lost one little duckie one night- still not sure how that happened, but the other four are growing like weeds and have all feathered out. I had to separate them from the white drake as he began chasing them around to keep them away from his “girls”.  The chicken roundup is going much better each evening as I’ve trained them to come running when I call as I throw scraps into the pen.  They now come flocking whenever they see me outside- the greedy things- hoping for some food. But at least I can save my energy for other stuff. Dwight helped me put up some chicken wire along the fence at his workshop as a couple of the fat hens were squeezing through the fence. Tex patrols most of the fence line at the woods.

Easter Sunday was different from all the other years as the churches have been closed here in Tennessee. Some local churches had drive up services, but since the majority of our church folk are elderly we’ve not had church. I’ve wanted to get all the genealogy files Dana did through the years sorted and organized, but every day is so full of work needing to get done that the week goes faster than the hours, so I got the brainstorm and for the last month or so I’ve sat with Dana Sunday afternoons to figure out the genealogy files on both sides of each of our families. It has been quite the process as to begin with piles of paper with names and dates to me is confusing as the further back you go the more scattered and spread out it gets- Dana has gone back ten generations- and along with that Dana’s dementia that has been getting worse (his mind used to work like a computer and he always had all facts and dates at his fingertips) but now he would get confused and mixed up, which only made me more befuddled- kinda like the blind leading the blind. After Dawn got married Dana also did genealogy on Randy’s family too.  I’m proud to say that we finally got the files all organized and labeled! It was quite the achievement.  One of these days I need to put them all in a book as Dana spent years researching, spending hours on the phone calling family members to double check, and while traveling out on the road we hunted up numerous cemeteries as well. 

So despite the pandemic raging all around, I have been keeping busy here at my little spot in the woods.   God has been good to us.

Hoping this finds you staying safe and healthy on your end. Meanwhile I’ll try and keep things going on mine.

Until next month~
Dorcas

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

MARCH 2020 WALKR NEWSLETTER

Hello!

Warning: This letter is going to be lengthy as so much has happened lately. Thankfully I am feeling a lot better.  Those of you out of state probably heard on the news about the tornadoes that touched down here in Tennessee without warning on Katie's birthday again. When Katie was born eight years ago they just finished the c-section when everything had to shut down and everyone had to go to the hospital basement as there were tornadoes. One touched downtown, but thankfully there was minimal damage. We threatened to call Katie Dawn- Stormy Dawn. This time I woke up around 2 am to hail and strong gusting winds around the house. I thought, "My we must be having some storm outside," rolled over and went back to sleep. An hour or so later the phone rang. We often joke that since our last name begins with a "W" our roof would blow off first and then we would get a call telling us that tornadoes were touching down in our area. It wasn't until I got up later that I saw the news that several tornadoes had hit Nashville and the Cookeville area west of us. Sadly this time several lives were lost, homes and businesses destroyed. It was quite a shock.

It's amazing how quickly things in life can change. Who could guess only a couple weeks ago that we would now be facing an epidemic virus causing panic and fear here in the USA where shelves would be wiped bare of supplies over night? You would think bread and milk would be the first to go, but toilet paper??? I even heard where people were renting storage facilities to fill with toilet paper. If nothing else the rest of us will be able to buy all the toilet paper we need in the coming months. Hard times brings out the worst and best in people.

Yet despite the terror and anxiety the human race is experiencing over the unknown, all of nature is coming alive all around us here in the Tennessee mountains. The forsythia and cherry bushes, pear and plum trees are ablaze with bright blooms while crocus, daffodils, and hyacinth bloom in a multi hue of colors as spring green grass blankets the fields. Spring has arrived again. What bliss! Each morning I am awakened by birds singing outside my window as new species migrate back north to reassure the faint in heart that the Master of the universe, who set in motion each season, is still in control. All we have to do is trust Him.

Dwight fixed the short run where we now can have the ducks up here in the yard with happy hens madly racing around scratching under bushes and trees to their hearts content outside the pen while Tex is confined to the woods that we alternate days on. While I love looking outside the window and hearing contented hens and ducks in the yard, they are adding more exercise to my routine.  Ducks thankfully will follow each other in a row as one guides them to their pen, but chickens are totally different. Each evening finds me trying to encourage nineteen hens going in nineteen directions towards the hen house. I will manage to get five or six in the pen, close the door, and go round up another bunch. It's amazing how fast those scrawny legs can run in the wrong direction when they put their chicken mind to it, or hopelessly mill around in circles, but the chicken brain really shows up when they run right by an open door in a mad dash to who knows where. So around we go again me calling encouragement using a long branch to help stimulate the lazy ones back to where they belong. After a half an hour feeling thoroughly exercised and out of breath- near collapse myself, I gratefully shut the door to the hen pen for the last time. I’ve tried sprinkling corn to lure them in the pen faster too. Thankfully we are slowly getting the round up time a bit shorter lately.

And just when I think I have the ducks programmed to come up to their pen from the woods like they usually do at evening, they will go into a ducky rebellion predictably when the weather is at its worst. I will find myself, when the sky is pouring down buckets of rain, trudging through the woods down a slope, across the stream, and up the other steep side to round up the ducks. They will start down the path in orderly file only for one duck to veer completely off track with the others following suit. And so thrashing through briars and over logs we will zig zag stumbling down one side and up the other with them protesting all the way until they waddle safe into their pen for the night. I was excited to discover one of the females hiding eggs- a sign she was getting broody. Lo and behold she ended up dying on me to my dismay. Hopefully one of the other female hormones will kick in as I’d love to have little duckies to keep my flock up.

One day the lock didn’t come down right on the gate after letting the ducks out and it swung open. I usually double check it, but was in a hurry that morning. So down went Tex madly chasing after the ducks in the wood with me on a run hollering behind him. I finally caught up and managed to grab Tex’s collar thinking I had corralled him. Tex took a leap as the ducks scampered to safety, jerked me off my feet, and dragged me on the ground as I was holding on for dear life until I got him pulled to the ground underneath me. Talk about a ducky rodeo! I let the dear dog know exactly how displeased I was with his behavior as I led him back up into the yard and shut the gate. Needless to say I was I bit sore as I limped around for a couple of days after that episode proving that I am not made out to be a cowboy or girl.

Between mucking out the hen house and the rain, I managed to plant the peas and have transplanted some plants where I needed to thin things out, weeded, and planted more clover in front of the picket fence. One day I spent splashing around feeling like a kid again as I cleaned out the stream where it was clogged up with branches etc that I like to get done before winter is over. It’s always a joy to see the water running unhindered and clear again giving me a chance to slow down, ponder, and think about life as the water gurgles around my feet.

Well l do have to hush up and get this out in the mail as I am running behind.
Dorcas

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

JANUARY 2020 and FEBRUARY Walker Newsletter

Hello!
Happy New Year to one and all. My new year started out feeling like I was going backwards one hundred years instead of forward.  It all began on Christmas morning as I was preparing a big breakfast to send Dawn and her family off (thankfully we had already opened our gifts Mon night and Tues had our candlelight Christmas supper) when our sewer system (that we've had for over 35 years) stopped up.  First the guys went up into the attic to check on the vent pipe to make sure it wasn't blocked, then down underneath the house- Dawn leading the way as she was smaller and towards the front the space narrows- to check to see if anything was clogged and couldn't get to anything so with shovels and a iron rod (after eating breakfast) they all began to dig down to the sewer tank. Not exactly a task one would chose for Christmas. As figured the tank needs pumped out. Dawn and her family finally left- all a muddy mess- early afternoon to head back home with barely enough time to spare to get cleaned up before heading to Randy's parents home calling out to me, "Merry Christmas, Grandma, and a Happy stinky New Year! Dwight spent Christmas afternoon building a temporary outhouse at the back of our property. This is one Christmas we shall never forget.
Dwight worked to get the line unclogged and able to use one toilet just as the rain and cold weather arrived again- what a blessing! Right after the new year, besides having to throw out all the dishwater etc over the front porch (I was amazed at how much water one uses in the kitchen) as I was unable to use the kitchen sink, our water heater went out.  So now I also had to start heating water too. By then I was feeling quite overwhelmed. It has been a work in progress as Dwight has had to keep unclogging the line and redoing the pipe work. The first Sunday of the year instead of being able to go to church, I was busy running back and forth between the two bathrooms that are located at the far ends of the house- flushing toilets, running water in the tubs, and making sure they didn't overflow.  I'm very happy to say that we are at last civilized again, although we still need to get the tank pumped out, but at least we can use our toilets and have hot water. What bliss!!!  How quickly we can take everyday modern conveniences for granted until they break down.
I'm very thankful my shoulder is back to normal as I helped Dwight move part of my enclosed garden fence that was over the septic tank a couple of feet and move some bushes back further as well. The weather has been unusually warm lately so one day I raked off the azalea bushes and trimmed some straggly hedge rows.
Right before Christmas we also had another episode with Dana. Being unable to drive due to my shoulder, I ran out of scot tape while wrapping presents one afternoon so had Dwight quick run me into town. Dana was in his chair, I gave him a snack, and figured he would go to sleep and be okay until we got back. On the way home I was telling Dwight how thankful I was for the prn med I had that I had given Dana over the thanksgiving holiday and was starting again for Christmas as it had helped him. We topped our hill and Dwight said, “Mom, there is a police car and ambulance in our driveway.”  I couldn’t believe my eyes wondering what on earth was going on. Was the house on fire or what? I rushed into the house and was told that Dana had called 911, was very confused so they sent the police, who when he arrived saw Dana in a seizure and become unresponsive, so he called the ambulance. I felt terrible apologizing to everyone as Dana hadn’t had a seizure episode for five months or so explaining why I had left my husband alone. Talk about feeling guilty! The one time both Dwight and I were gone this happened. So instead of finishing wrapping gifts, Dwight and I drove 45 minutes to Crossville (our hospital has been closed- another story in itself) to the ER where the doctor ordered all kinds of tests. Everything came back normal and we were able to bring Dana back home late that night.
This past week, I took Dana to see his psychologist. Lo and behold if she isn’t quitting seeing patients after several years practice. So now I have to call around and find another psychologist before Dana’s meds run out. I would appreciate prayer about this matter as it had taken years to get Dana stabilized and all too often a new doctor loves to rearrange meds etc, which only makes Dana end up back in the hospital until he gets leveled out again.
Life sure has a way of giving us curves and u-turns unexpectedly just when we think everything is fine. I told Dana the other day I don’t know why I even try to write fiction- am working on a couple of books- as most folks would think my daily life was pure fiction in itself.
I’m so thankful that despite life’s upheavals, He is in control. I certainly couldn’t make it without Him. I do appreciate all the prayers sent my way. Together with God, we can face the coming year ahead.



Hello!
So far we have had a mild winter compared to other years. Instead of snowstorms like the northern states, we have had an abundance of rain. The weather has been acting like spring. My winter jasmine bushes have been blooming, the daffodils are up everywhere and ready to burst into bloom while the iris and even some of the lilies have poked their heads out of the ground.  It's also wonderful to see spring green grass appearing giving color to the bleak landscape.
All the animals are thriving- hunkering down during cold spells and then perking up when it warms back up. I mucked out the henhouse again and put in new straw. The ducks are in their glory with all the rain waddling as fast as their fat little legs will go each morning down to the stream in the woods to play and splash with lots of ducky enthusiasm and then quack their protest getting shut up at night.
Shortly after my January newsletter, Dwight came down with a hip bleed that has lasted nearly a month now. It is quite frustrating for him as he has to stay off of his feet and is limited in what he can do.
So it put carrying in all the wood for the wood-stoves on me.  Wintertime flares up my RA more to begin with slowing me down. After two weeks of carrying wood every day I was so exhausted physically I could hardly go. Pastor Sam came and filled up the wood rack on the back porch for me last week, which was such a blessing. The good Lord knows right when to send in help. We are blessed to have such a caring pastor and lots of wonderful friends.
Thanks bunches for all the prayers sent our way! We send prayers out to you as well knowing several of you are going through a lot of things on your end too.  How exciting to be part of a circle of prayer support for each other. What an awesome way to live through the year.  So stay encouraged God loves you and so do we.
Have a Happy Valentine's Day!!!
Lots of love~
Dorcas


Friday, December 13, 2019

DECEMBER Walker Newsletter

Hello!
Here we are already in the middle of December getting closer each day to Christmas week where we celebrate a very special birth. In the midst of all the frenzy around you I wish you joy and peace this Christmas season.  Soon we will be closing out another year and entering a brand new one. The same God that saw us through this past year will walk beside us in the next one. 

The week before Thanksgiving I went on a blitz-style cleaning mode in my house with some small touch-up painting projects. Dawn & her family were here with us for Thanksgiving Day along with my birthday. This year I kidded my family (especially my son-in-law) that they had no choice but to be thankful for me. I didn’t realize how hard I had pushed myself until my right shoulder started acting up. I figured I had pulled a muscle, but by the time Dawn left the next day my entire arm was swelling & hurting and my right hand had gone numb. Needless to say I have slowed way down. I guess I shall have to start acting my age and spread out huge projects more. So now I am running way behind- usually by this time all the Christmas presents are bought and the decorations up. Instead I am going slow like an old granny, but at least I am up on my feet and now able to keep the pain under control. Dwight has been such a blessing driving me to town, cooking, sweeping, and helping me with the wash. Nothing like feeling one’s age- ha!

The past year for Dana has been hospital episodes, lots of doctor appointments, some falls- but thankfully no broken bones. We have physical therapy as much as possible as he is often unsteady on his feet.  It is sad to see his dementia slowly but surely increasing. At times Dana doesn’t act like himself and he has more trouble remembering his grandchildren’s names.  The best the doctors can do is try and slow it down and keep Dana on his feet.

Dwight has been doing better physically and able to putter around in his shop most weeks. Once a month he will go out to the body shop and spend a day with the guys. Johnny had Dwight come out a couple weeks this fall to design and paint stripes on a semi cab. Not having to do body work every day is so much better for Dwight and of course I’m always making sure he is eating right. It has given Dwight more time to work on his custom-made knives (a hobby I would have never picked for him myself as I’m always afraid he will cut himself) and other wood projects.

Dawn stays busy all the time homeschooling the kids and hosting a steady stream of people that come by.  I keep telling her to slow down- the same thing my mother used to tell me. The monthly shots are keeping her on her feet. I am so thankful she isn’t having major breathing problems like she had in the past. Randy has announced his call to preach. He has filled in several times in the past at their church and has already completed all the conference preacher study courses. The grand-kids keep growing like weeds. Both of my grandsons are taller than me already. Annette is graduating high school this May and William is a freshman in high school.

May you have a joyous Christmas season and a Happy New Year!
Dorcas and Family