Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Legend of Petit Jean.....

"Legends die hard. They survive as truth rarely does."
~Helen Hayes~

Over the weekend Handy Hubby decided he would whisk me away to somewhere I had never been. Well, I have still never been there because when we got to where we were going, the place was gated, locked up, and closed! Some people had parked along the roadside and climbed the gate and were enjoying a nice cold dip in the lake, picnicking, and hiking. We did not.

Since that trip was a bust and we were not far away from a state park, we went there instead. I have so many fond memories of visiting this park and it is my favorite in our whole state. I think it is because of the legend that is attached to it that endears it to me so. I grew up with my grandmother telling me the story. She actually recited it just as she had learned it in her history book in school. To me it was always a swashbuckling tale filled with danger, intrigue, romance, and adventure with a tragic ending.

This story of adventure began in the 1700's with a young French nobleman named Chavet, also refered to as Cheves or Jean-jacques Chavez, who lived in the period of French exploration of the New World, and who was said to be a kinsman of the King of France. He asked the King for permission to explore a part of the Louisiana Territory, and for a grant to whatever part of it he might find to his liking. The King agreed to his request.

Chavet was engaged to be married to a young girl, Adrienne Dumont, in Paris who, when told of this plan, asked that they be married before he left France so that she might accompany him. Thinking of the hardship and danger that would probably be encountered, Chavet refused the girls request and told her that on his return, if he found the good country, they would be married and go to the New World and spend their lives. The girl, however, refused to accept his denial. She cut off her hair and disguised herself as a boy and applied to the captain of Chavet's ship when it was being outfitted for the trip for a place as a cabin boy, calling herself Jean. The girl must have been incredibly clever in disguise, for it is said that not even Chavet recognized her or suspected that she was not a boy. The sailors called her Petit Jean, French for Little John.

The ocean was crossed in early spring, the vessel ascended the Mississippi, and then the Arkansas River to the foot of a mountain, which must have looked to the voyagers, as they approached it, like the prow of a great ship. The Indians who lived on the mountain, seeing a ship for the first time, came down to the river and gave Chavet and his sailors a friendly and hospitable greeting. They invited the sailors to the top of the mountain. The invitation was accepted and Chavet and his men, including the cabin boy, found life with the Indians so pleasant that the entire summer was spent there.

Petit Jean fished the streams and hunted the forests of the region with Chavet, the sailors, and the Indians until fall approached, when Chavet began the preparations for the voyage back to France. When the ship was ready, supplied with food from the forest and water from the springs of the mountain, and everything needed for the trip, Chavet, his sailors, and Petit Jean went aboard on the evening before the day set for the start down the river. Chavet told the Indians that he would return the next year.
That night, Petit Jean became ill with a malady that was strange to Chavet and his sailors. It was marked with fever, convulsions, delirium, and finally coma. The condition of the patient was so grave at daylight that the departure was postponed. During her delirium and coma, Petit Jean's identity was of course discovered. After two days, during which her strength ebbed fast, there was a lucid interval. The girl confessed her deception to Chavet and begged his forgiveness. She told him that she knew that she could not live to reach France, and asked that she be carried back to the mountaintop to spend her last days.The Indians made a stretcher of deer skins and bore her up the trail near the point of the mountain to their camp on the brow overlooking the mountains and valley to the south. At sundown that day she died and was buried upon the mountain, not under her own name, but under the name she had been known by on the ship Petit Jean. Many years later, a low mound of earth was found in a cove on the East Point of the mountain, with rocks fitted so perfectly that they could not have been there by accident. It was agreed that the grave was very old. This is believed to be the grave of Petit Jean.

(This modern fence was added around the grave several years ago. The fitted rocks that used to be over the head of the grave when I was a girl have since tumbled over. There used to be two massive stones that formed an arch at the head of the grave.)

Now as is true with all legends, there are different interpretations of the tale. One version says that Chavet departure from France was not to explore but because he in self-defense killed another admirer of Adrienne's, Albert "Bertie" Marshand, a favorite nephew of King Louis XVI. In yet another he was a part of the DeSoto Expedition. While in most versions of the legend the reason Petit Jean follows him to America is her devotion, one variant has her following him for revenge after he deserted her.
The discovery of her identity is also a point of contention. One source has her voluntarily revealing her identity before her death; a second source says that it was discovered due to her illness as described above. A third source notes that it is her lover who became ill with swamp fever and as he leaned upon Petit Jean for support , he recognized her distinctive green eyes. She and the Indians nursed him back to health. Unfortunately, she fell ill and remained so for several months, nursed by the natives while her fiance traveled to an unnamed French settlement to build their home. Although one version gives the lovers a happy ending, in most cases she eventually died and was buried on top of the mountain that she grew to love. The mound of earth discovered many years after the fact is touted as being the grave of Petit Jean, after whom the mountain and park are named.

There is a considerably less romantic explanation of how the mountain got its name, a Frenchman nicknamed Little John was killed by the Osage in 1732. He either camped or lived in the vicinity of the mountain. Lastly, another source states that business is at the root of the entire legend. It says the the entire legend was invented by the Stout family in the early twentieth century who owned a hotel located on the mountain. Having advertised the hotel as the ideal place for newlyweds to spend their honeymoon, they devised the whole legend to bolster their claims. Rumor even has it that Stout paid three men to break up rocks and and create the "grave" of Petit Jean.

No matter the roots or the source, whether fact of fiction, the romantic tale of Petit Jean lives on. If you ever get a chance to visit you too will experience the lure of the legend. Legend has it that the spirit of Petit Jean hovers over the mountain in a mist giving it an air of strange enchantment.

I hope you enjoyed the story a small photo tour of Petit Jean.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

Monday, April 27, 2009

Encouraging Words For Writers & Bloggers.....

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."
~William Wordsworth~


Have you ever had writers or bloggers block? Need a boost in that department? I know the perfect place for you to visit to receive the encouragement that you need! Bonita of Streams of Living Water has started a new blog called Encouraging Words For Writers. As an author of Hands-On Essays, a curriculum to help students master essay writing, having written devotionals for P31 Ministries (which you can read here, here, and here), as well as being a graduate of She Speaks, she has a wealth of tips, training, and advice that she is pouring into her new blog.

Bonita's new blog was birthed from her newsletter, The Writing Well, which is a weekly email newsletter full of not only encouragement but information that helps hone writing skills. She will be hosting a series of newsletters in the next few issues where she has invited some very successful bloggers to join her and they will be sharing their wealth of blogging knowledge and experience. To sign up for the free weekly newsletter you can contact Bonita at
thewritingwell@carolina.rr.com
I have to tell you that this is one thing that I look forward to every Monday morning!

I hope you will visit Bonita at her new blog and give her a warm welcome in sharing her passion for writing. On Wednesday she will host her very first Encouraging Words For Writers Give Away so you won't want to miss out on signing up for that! Sign up is from Wed. April 29 ~ Sat. May 2 for a copy of
" An Untroubled Heart" by Micca Campbell.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Serendipity Sunday: Bloom Where You Are Planted, Part 2.....

Serendipity: Making a delightful or unexpected discovery
"Bloom where you are planted"
~Attributed to all of the following sources: Afghan Proverb, Nancy Reader Compion's Aunt Grace, Mary Engelbreit, a song, as well as an "old garden saying"~

This week's delightful discovery is a continuation of last Sunday's post based on the old saying, "Bloom where you are planted". We have seen this old saying painted on garden plaques and heard it preached in sermons. I saw the truth of this principal played out before my very eyes in recent weeks.
Walking down a sidewalk while in town I happened upon a very green lush plant with glowing yellow blossoms bursting forth from its center. The first thing I noticed was that it was an odd place for anything to be growing. The tiny crack from which it sprung did not allow much room for growth. It was not in a nutrient rich environment, in fact, it was in a hard and sun scorched place. In spite of all the adverse circumstances surrounding its growth, it was persistent in finding some small bit of nourishment for one tiny seed that allowed it to take root, begin to grow, spread out, bloom, and eventually, to sow seeds. Did you know that the meaning of the dandelion is faithfulness?

In the second instance I was walking across my yard where some soil had been freshly spread to fill in a hole. Right on top of the soil lay a perfect yellow bloom of a daffodil, with the bulb completely exposed, and tiny roots reaching downward. This bulb was in a very unlikely place also. I wondered how it got there because I had not planted any of these bulbs in years. There was not much of a root system to speak of, yet here was this beautiful perfect flower blooming in spite of unfavorable conditions. Did you know that the meaning of the daffodil is joy and happiness and signifies rebirth or a new beginning?In the third instance I was walking past the old stone well house and much to my delight I saw tiny soft yellow fingertip sized roses blooming on the Yellow Lady Banks Roses that I had planted there three years ago. Their story is another matter all together. When I bought those two plants at the nursery they were absolutely full of tiny roses. They were lovingly planted in the right kind of lighting, well attended, pruned, fertilized, watered, and protective mulch was spread around their roots to keep the moisture in the earth on hot sunny summer days. In spite of all the nurturing and care, they refused to bloom! Each spring I would become hopeful as a profusion of little green leaves would spread along the vines, this time they might bloom, but for three long years I coaxed them along and yet they still did not bloom where they were planted. Did you know the meaning of the yellow rose is unfaithfulness, infidelity, or decrease of love?

I asked myself, "Why is it that while the two plants in unfavorable circumstances thrived and the one who had every advantage merely survived, refusing to thrive?" After noting their differences, I noted their similarities, they all started from something small, a seed or bulb. They all needed soil, water, and sunlight to grow. They all began to show growth with new green leaves, progressing to tiny buds which resulted in glorious yellow blooms. The blooms provided nectar and pollen which were life giving and sustaining to others.

Each of these plants had both advantages and disadvantages and each one had a unique response to their particular set of circumstances. The dandelion had determination on her side. She is considered a common weed that is difficult to exterminate. The dandelion can thrive anywhere, lawns, fields, meadows, along roadsides, even in cracks of sidewalks. The dandelion has the ability to prosper no matter its surrounding.

This humble yet determined dandelion brings to mind chapter one of the book of Daniel. Daniel was a young man from a noble family, the tribe of Judah, who had everything going for him. He was a handsome young man who showed an aptitude of every kind of learning, was well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve. Because of his heritage and his attributes he found himself in adverse circumstances. He, along with some other young men from royal or noble families, were taken captive and forced to learn the language and literature of the Babylonians in order to be put in service in the palace of the king. These young men were not only taken from their families and familiar environment and customs, they were stripped of their very names and given new ones. They were assigned a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for a three year period and after that were to enter the king's service.

Like the dandelion, Daniel had the ability to thrive and prosper in the most unlikely of places, under extreme adverse circumstances. Daniel 1:8 says, "But, Daniel resolved..." another version says, "But, Daniel purposed in his heart..." not to be unfaithful to his beliefs. Daniel's resolve was to not defile himself with the food and wine from the king's table because it could have been offered to idols, which prohibited faithful Jews from eating it (Exodus 34:15). Also, Gentiles had probably prepared the food without attention to Jewish dietary laws, without which it would be unclean. The food could have included certain meats forbidden in the law of Moses. Did you notice Daniel's determination? Did you notice his faithfulness?

Like the dandelion, Daniel was planted in a restricted environment, with little room for opportunity for growth. He was not in a nutrient rich environment according to his dietary laws or spiritual beliefs. I am sure his captivity must have been a very hard and lonely time. Yet, in spite of his surroundings, Daniel bloomed where he was planted. He purposed in his heart and was persistent in finding small ways to cling to his roots of faith. His faithfulness was rewarded by God, who gave him "...knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds." (Daniel 1:17) When brought before the king, none were found equal to Daniel and the other three young men who taken captive with him. When questioned, the king found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. Daniel took root, began to grow, spread out, blossomed, and today his story still sows the seed of the example of faithfulness. Faithfulness helps us to flourish.

The daffodil laying there on bare ground, so exposed, striving to survive, yet blooming where it was planted with fragrant joy, made me think of the possibility of joy during trials and temptations. In the book of James, chapter one, verses 2-4 we see that we are to, "Consider it pure joy...whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

I was standing there observing a mature and complete bloom even though it was doing so in completely adverse growing conditions. How is joy possible when we find ourselves like that little daffodil, uprooted and toppled over by trouble? We are not talking about a feeling or an emotion here when we describe having joy during our trials. Instead, this describes a unique kind of joy, a deep sense of well-being that comes from knowing that God is in control of everything in our lives. This joy is the assurance that He is constantly at work, using both pain and pleasure to develop within us character traits of endurance and patience.Sometimes like that little daffodil, we feel like we are barely holding on by our roots. We might be wondering how we got in that particular predicament and why God is allowing it. A trial is a situation in which God is giving us an opportunity to do something right. Maybe make a right choice, a right decision, a right action or a right reaction. Trials often teach us a lesson and are a beautiful opportunity for a new beginning at the end of them.
The little daffodil was not unsupported, it lay on a foundation of rich fertile fill dirt and with the feeblest of reaches its root system clung to that nutrient rich support for all its life was worth. In clinging to God during our times of trouble, even if our reach is feeble, we will experience deep and abiding joy knowing that we are cradled in the palm of His hand and sustained by the rich nutrition of His Word. God's planting is not always our preference but joy can be our choice.
The Yellow Lady Banks is supposed to be extremely vigorous in growth, it is has no thorns, supposed to produce enormous trusses of yellow flowers, it is supposed to climb easily, to spread out, and be long lived. It is supposed to grow in a wide variety of conditions, be tolerant of poor soil, and unpalatable to deer. My Lady Banks were given every favorable condition I could provide them with. At one point they were lively and vibrantly blooming but they stopped.
Sometimes we just don't like where we have been planted and like my Yellow Lady Banks Roses we refuse to bloom or perhaps we have bloomed profusely for many seasons and we are experiencing a season of burnout. We, as believers, have much in common with the Lady Banks. We are to be vigorous in our spiritual growth (2 Peter 3:18), without thorns (Ephesians 4:29), blooming where we are planted by being fruitful (Colossians 1:10). We are to climb or make continuous progress (Isaiah 28:9-10), spread out (Matthew 28:18-20), and blessed with long life (John 3:16). Like the Lady Banks we are given ample opportunity to grow in a wide variety of conditions and taught to be tolerant of such poor soil we find ourselves planted in. (Psalm 34:19) We are also unpalatable to our enemy who seeks to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8-9 & John 10:27-29)
God lovingly plants us exactly where He wants us to bloom. (Psalm 139:14-16) He give us the right kind of light to grow by.(Psalm 119:105) He tends us well.(Psalm 32:8) We are pruned (Hebrews 6:12a), fertilized (1 Peter 2:2), watered and protected from drought (Isaiah 58:11), and covered in protective care. (Psalm 91) And still, with all that nurturing care we fail to bloom. He coaxes us along, we unfurl a little but do not produce those vibrant blooms that are life sustaining and nurturing to others. Perhaps we are waiting for God to replant us in a better circumstances. When we refuse to bloom where we are planted we become unfaithful not being true to duty, obligation, or promise and we are breaking away from God's growth plan for our lives.
Blooming where you are planted is a choice, a challenge, and often involves change. We might be planted in a demanding or stimulating situation that engages us in growth. Think about the similarities of these three plants. They all began as a tiny seed or bulb but it was never God's intention that they stay a seed or bulb, they had a purpose beyond that particular state. Once they were planted in soil a transformation began to take place. They began to move from one phase to another. They grew roots, then sprouts. Little green leaves began to show and stems began to strengthen. As they pushed upward, little by little they were permanently losing their former characteristics. Even as they endured all kinds of weather and temperatures they continued to progress until little buds arrived. One glorious day, each of them were mature and in full bloom with the ability to support and sustain others because of their transformation.

God is doing a transforming work in our hearts and lives right where we are, no matter the conditions or the outlook, I encourage you to accept His challenge, embrace His plan, and bloom where you are planted.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sheer Beauty (window treatment tutorial).....

Sheer ~ diaphanous: so thin as to transmit light; "a hat with a diaphanous veil"; "filmy wings of a moth"; "gauzy clouds of dandelion down"; "gossamer cobwebs"; "sheer silk stockings"; transparent chiffon"; "vaporous silks" Way down here in the sunny south were have gone from frigid to fryin' in the span of one week! We were granted one glorious week of spring like temperatures and have slipped into a sweltering summer like state. This rise of the thermometer has me thinking of light and airy, cool and breezy in the decor department. Time to stow away those woolly winter throws, dark rich warm pillows, and perhaps add a sheer to touch to the windows as well, just enough fabric to filter the sunlight and billow in the stifling breeze.
My tiny writing cottage is decorated in soft tones of sand, barley there blue, rich cream, and super soft green. I find these tones soothing to work in and they reflect the most relaxing times to me, time spent at the beach. I have turned my attention to the windows in this space. While I have blinds with canvas drop cloth liners I am thinking that I might want to add a little softness to the windows using sheers and I am thinking of customizing them.

Here are a few interior before photos of my tiny cottage, as you can see, I have very little wall space and mostly windows. At times the sun can be quite bright or the views distracting while I am working. I can let down the blinds but since they are lined it can be quite dark so a sheer would cut down on the glare and still allow soft filtered light into the space and remove some of the distraction.Several years ago when my daughter was in her Hemingway~esque (British Colonial Style) phase of decor with dark rich wood tones, natural materials, hints of travel, and a fairly neutral color scheme of green, rust, and cream, she wanted custom window treatments. She chose a dark matchstick blind to begin with, layering hand stamped sheers over the blinds on faux rust finished decorative curtain rods. I might mention here that I was the stamper/faux finisher on this part of the project and even though I put hand stamping sheers on my "things I will never ever under any circumstances ever do again!" list, I am entertaining the idea. I thought I would share the simple yet time consuming technique with you.

HAND STAMPED SHEERS

MATERIALS:

*Sheers ~ I purchased four white sheer panels at an inexpensive dollar store on sale for $4.00 per panel.
*Rubber Stamp or Stamps of your choice. ~ I purchased two stamps of my daughters choice for half price at Hobby Lobby
*Paint, latex or acrylic ~ I used the latex paint that she painted her walls with. If you desire you can also purchase a textile medium to mix with the paint but I found it not necessary because so little paint is used it does not stiffen the fabric at all.
*Foam Brush
*Cardboard ~ I used poster board, cutting enough squares to used under each place I would be stamping.
*Low Tack Painters Tape
*Plastic Zip Bag
*Old Toothbrush
*Iron
*Press Cloth ~ any cotton towel or a piece of muslin will work.


INSTRUCTIONS:

NOTE: In the sample photos below, I am using paper to demonstrate the technique. I traced the fold lines with a pencil for better viewing, do not mark the lines on your sheers.

*Remove sheers from packaging but DO NOT iron!

NOTE: If you are using sheers you already own you will need to fold and iron your panels as follows to create a stamping grid:

*Fold sheer in half lengthwise and lightly press the fold line, fold in half again and press fold line,
fold in half once more and press fold line.
*Fold sheer in half width wise and iron fold line, continue to repeat this process until you end up
with a small rectangle of fabric.
*When sheer is unfolded you should have a grid of rectangles to use as stamping guides.

*Lay the sheer right side up on a firm surface and secure the edges with bits of low tack painters tape.

*Under each block of the grid on your surface, slide a piece of cardboard slightly larger than your stamp.

*Using a foam brush lightly brush paint across your stamp. Do not press paint into stamp. Do a practice test on a scrap of fabric or paper to ensure that you are using the right amount of paint and to get comfortable with your stamping technique before beginning.

*After you are comfortable begin stamping your sheer. You will stamp in the center of each block of your grid. Center stamp, place down, and gently press. DO NOT rock the stamp back and forth or side to side, this will smear the print. Lift stamp straight up.

This is what an oops looks like if you get too much paint on your stamp!
*Stamp as many rows as your surface allows, brushing stamp with a light coat of fresh paint in between stamps to keep the stamped image uniform, then allow the print to completely dry before moving on to the next section.

NOTE: I only stamped every other grid with the large stamp and random stamped a few of the open grids with the small stamp. This kept the pattern less busy.

*In between stamping, store your foam brush in a plastic zip bag to keep it moist between uses.

*Thoroughly wash your rubber stamps with soap and cold water after each section is finished and drying. You may want to use a toothbrush to get any paint out of fine details. Use cold water because the heat from hot water will actually set the latex or acrylic paint and ruin your stamp. Allow stamps to dry before moving on to your next section, any water on the stamp will cause your print to bleed.

*Repeat the stamping process, moving and taping your sheer as needed, using the cardboard to protect your surface and absorb any excess paint. Once the cardboard is dry, it can be reused on other sections but make sure it is dry before reuse.

*Once an entire panel has been stamped and is completely dry, using a press cloth and warm iron, set each stamped image. Press your sheer free of the grid pattern and hang!

These panels are totally washable according to the manufactures instructions. Do not bleach. Hang to dry rather than tumble drying. Don't be limited to white either, experiment with colored sheers and paint hues.

I am thinking of doing this technique on white panels with sand colored paint in starfish and shell stamps. The only draw back is I would need to do ten panels for all the windows! My only concern is that the room not look "tented" when I am done. This is a super simple project, as I stressed before, it is time consuming, but the beautiful results are worth the effort!

To see how others are inspired to living beautifully, visit Melissa at The Inspired Room. Have a great weekend!

Blessings,
Miss Sandy
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