Friday, April 30, 2010

Is romance dead or do I just have gas?

I've been on the old movie kick lately. I like old movies. They had a different attitude about romance and who was allowed access to it. They had the "every man". Every man was portrayed by geeky looking fellows like Jimmy Stewart, toughs like Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy and the willowy Fred Astaire.

A Fred Astaire tune keeps going through my head. "Just the way you look tonight", it reminds me of slow dancing in the kitchen. Mac and I used to slow dance in the kitchen. It could barely be called dancing, but it would definitely be slow, especially with three little girls hanging onto our legs and wedging themselves between us. Then there were the slow dances in front of the stove. Mac would be home from work and trying to see what I was fixing for supper. The best was late night old movies. Going into the kitchen and having a slow dance and breaking some ice out of the trays and pouring a couple of cokes and being back in front of the tv before the commercials were over. It wasn't exactly black tie. I was in an over sized man's shirt for jammies and an old, equally over sized chenille robe. Mac had his sweat pants.

We haven't danced in the kitchen in a long time..

"Someday, when the world is cold, and I'm feeling low, I will feel a glow just thinking of you, and the way you look tonight"

Every man's romance is still working before the sweat from labor has dried. Still works after chemo. Works when you don't see how it can go any longer. But it is always, always made better if you take those few moments to slow dance in the kitchen.

"You're lovely, with your cheek so warm, With your breathless charm. Never, never change. Won't you please arrange it, cause I love you, just the way you look tonight"


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stronger every day

What a night! Coughing and hacking and snot, Oh my!! More proof that I continue to get better. I'm producing such prodigious amounts of primordial ooze that all I need is a good jolt of lightening and I think I'd have the beginnings of a new life form. Then we can all jump back and squeal,"It's alive!!!" I can't say that without thinking of Elsa Lancaster. I wonder if the Bride of Frankenstein should be considered a "made for each other scenario" or "the world's worst blind date". Poor Elsa, she could sing, dance, act, and was the life of the party, but she was never the hottie that anyone ever wanted to take home and nail. I relate. She should be canonized as the patron saint of womanhood.

Moving on....

I should always tell you guys my plans for the day. Yesterday, I did get done with some mowing and I did get out and play with the ponies some. They have both now learned the phrase, "hacking up a lung" For them, it means you get a bit of a rest while I am bent over making disgusting noises and spitting. But the sun did wonders for me. The only drawback was that the wind from the south was exceptionally mighty. I'm sure more then one metal roof got peeled yesterday. Looks like today will be the same. It has caused me to decide that whatever I put in for riding arena or a barn will definitely be a low rise. I'd like to have nice enough facilities that I can share them. Kristi Smith, the Parelli professional that I have been talking about is wanting to settle in either southern Iowa or northern Missouri. I'm hoping it isn't too far away. It would be nice to feel like there was someone close when things get discouraging. I offered to look for acreages for her because, well, I'm subtle. She declined the offer saying she wasn't ready yet. Alas, another Elsa Lancaster moment.

Moving on....

I don't seem to remember my dreams anymore. I used to. I could describe my dreams in detail until about a year ago, now I am unaware of even having them. But last night I woke up rather abruptly, due to coughing , of course, and it interrupted a dream. A lot of it faded quickly but there was one part that was interesting. We were going by a mall and there was a glove store located in the outlot area. There was a sign declaring a huge must see sale. In the dream I was REALLY compelled to go inside. There was almost a sense of urgency. Then I woke up. Even after being awake for awhile I wanted to go back to sleep and get back to the store because the compulsion was still there. Weird. I'm still thinking I need to look at some gloves. Considering that I never made it into the store, and I am left with a longing for gloves, I am counting this as another Elsa Lancaster moment. I'm telling ya' my life is riddled with them! It's really quite sad, and here I am, so talented! ( Go ahead and laugh... everyone does)



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Over the hump

I still feel like poop but I do believe I am over the hump. I can tell because instead of wanting to lay quietly (except for the moaning), I have a definite desire to whine and bitch. Always a good sign. Today I am going to try and get my legs under me enough that I can go get on the riding lawn mower and put in some time. Nothing like fresh cut grass to make your head drain.

How is it that the grass in the front yard always grows about ten times faster then the grass in the pasture? That's just one of life's cruel jokes! And speaking of pasture, I need to get more fenced in. I am having trouble deciding WHERE to put the fence. There's just too many options. I could probably decide on the options if I weren't living in fear of the future. I try to not live in fear (please refer back to the movie "Strictly Ballroom"), but sometimes it just eeks in. The reality is that I may have to sell off part of the wee dream I have here. If I want to land on my feet, I have to think of the best way to arrange everything now. What stops me is that I don't want to think about Mac dying every time I look out at the fence. You know, if I could just win that damn lottery, this wouldn't even be an issue!!

While I'm spending that lottery money.... It would be nice to have a covered arena. It would also be nice to have tiered seating on one end, with heated seats, so people didn't get chilled to the bone and get sick when they visited. It'll be solar, of course. It won't be a steel building either. Every time I sit in a steel building, unless it's over ninety degrees out, I get sick!! Yep! that's me feeling better... that's me bitching.

Today, I think I want food. So, I'm going looking for food now. After that, I'm going to stash back some change so that I can get a lottery ticket when I am in town on Friday. Then I am going to plan a cool covered arena, a wee barn, some pasture runs, a cabin, an outdoor fireplace, a bridge......


"A life lived in fear, is a life half lived" S.B.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm still sick

I think I have bronchitis and a lesser woman would probably do something like, say, go to the Dr. But I'm thinking that if it warms up like the weatherman says it will, then I may just take a blanket and lay in the sun next to the ponies, and I will be miraculously cured. That's the good thing about ponies. It will be nice when I don't feel so bleary eyed. I keep looking towards the windows and thinking,"Oh look at all of the pretty colors!". It's kind of A.D.D. with a fever.

I'll just plan my way through it. Planning and ponies cure everything. I have about three more house plans that I want to get down while I still have my fever ridden faculties. I need to get more done in the garden. Some of the stuff that I got in a toot about planting died over our cold wet weekend. Oh well, we start again. It's early and I have a clean slate, except for the weeds, and at least the radishes are coming up.

I think I'll also put in a dvd of Parelli, Listening to Pat lulls me off to sleep. Yup, healing sleep! Planning, ponies and Parelli, that's the ticket. Then when I wake up I'll be ready to plant a new garden, plan a new house, maybe I'll invent something and get rich .... that would be nice. Then I would have money for.... stuff. Does anybody else feel hot?

Oh! look!... pretty colors.


Monday, April 26, 2010

I feel like poop

This morning I really feel the effects of sitting in a cold barn for two days. My back is achy and I can't seem to push air through my voice box. Oh well, still breathing okay, just can't talk. Mac might find that a wonderful respite.

It felt so good to come home and see the ponies. Whenever I am gone I have disaster scenarios playing in my head. I knew I would pull into the driveway and Pip would be gone and Chloe would be gasping her last breath, on the ground, totally wrapped in wire and there would be a curl of black smoke rising from what was left of the roof of the house. Why do I do that to myself?!! I have enough adrenaline inducing events in my reality, why do I have to create fantasy disasters? Stupid over active brains!

What really happened is we pulled in the drive and as we came up the hill , I was asking Mac, "Do you see her? Do you see her?" We all know that repetition makes the other person hear better. As soon as we got to where the hay stack wasn't obscuring our view, we could see the glorious blonde. Park the truck, turn off the lights, turn off the engine, abandon husband and hustle out to the pasture. I hollered at them,"Babies!!" Chloe immediately started her shrill scream back, galloping and head tossing. It was kind of gratifying. Pip gave me some emotional distance, more of a ,"Who are you? .... Do I know you? ... ( extended pause) Where's my corn?" I don't think she is so much upset with me, after all that would be anthropomorphism, but I think the break in the schedule was a bit of a bother for her.

The house was intact... well, as intact as it was when we left. Bed was made and dishes done and the lumber was still stacked.

The next time I think Chloe and Pip should audit the clinic with me. My brains won't go stupid with worry and I'll have something, well, someone, to keep me warm. In the meantime, I still feel like poop so I am going to find the tylenol and head back to bed. Bed is a good thing..... I love my bed.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 2

We had to cut today a little short. The cold of the barn did not agree with Mac's less then mature immune system. Even when we try to proceed, when we try to play at being normal, the disease and the whole medical process seems to overshadow. We persevere, mostly because I am too much of a mean bitch to quit.

I learned a lot. I always learn a lot about any situation I am in. That nature to pick up and scrutinize. I have no problem with stopping to look and watch. That's the part of my nature that I believe will serve me the best in my exploration of being a horse person. Pat Parelli tells me to "isolate, separate and recombine". Bill Dorrance says to "experiment" with the horse's mental system. There are things that I probably do wrong, but so far, no one has gotten hurt and the herd still seems to be voting for me. I think I'll take that.

Pat taught me something that I don't think he realized that he was teaching. I think it was because of my own breathing problem. I seem to be kind of sensitive to "breathing" situations. For instance, I have given myself asthma attacks when watching a movie with a prolonged underwater swimming sequence. Or during the movie 2001:A Space Odyssey. There is soooo much controlled breathing in that movie that I can hardly stand to watch it! That's how I learned to breathe from Pat. When he sets the horse up with a puzzle to solve and the horse gets the right answer, he generally gives a big exhale. Then the horse picks up on it and starts to blow. At that point, Pat will typically say that the horse is blowing and has found its release and has gained some understanding. I don't think Pat even realizes that he is the first to blow. . Regardless, it's a great communication tool.

I remember years ago watching a story on the television series,"Ripley's Believe It Or Not" There was this fellow that traveled around music halls with a horse and amazed people with it. The horse was reported as being able to do math. So folks would call out simple math problems and the horse would answer by pawing the ground. Later someone figured out how it was done. For each pawing of the hoof the owner was blinking his eyelids. The best part of the story is this.... the owner didn't realize the horse was matching his blinks. He thought the horse really knew how to do math! The poor fellow sold the horse and quit in disgrace.

When I am around horses, I try to keep that story in mind. That is how light and perceptive EVERY horse is, until they get beaten up by trainers. The reality is as amazing as the possibility of a horse being able to do math. At least, it is to me.

There is another Parelli-ism that Pat is fond of reiterating, "nothing means nothing". Exactly true, whether it is exhaling or blinking. I have also found that if I want to have my horse approach me in the pasture all I have to do is spend some time watching birds fly and kick around some poo piles. You can take that tip to the bank!

Tomorrow the clinic will be firmly behind me. We will have to see just how much I absorbed. It had better be good because Pip is wondering what the hell I was doing larking around for the last two days.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 1

Well, I have finished my first day of my very first clinic. My brains aren't really sure what they have absorbed and what has sloshed out. I kind of feel like I've finished a day of finals and I am left with a case of wobbly brain.

Much of what Kristi said I have also heard said by Pat and Linda Parelli. I think sometimes it helps to know that it is in person and you'd better pay attention because you can't rewind or play it over. Or maybe it just sunk in this time. My great big Eureka! moment came when Kristi talked about the simple task of riding the rail. I knew Pat stressed it a lot. It's such a simple task that I just didn't GET IT. Then Kristi said that it isn't just a task it's a pattern and a moment later she said that horses are pattern animals. Now I have understood a great deal about the patterns that I have been exposed to, and much of it is about laying a foundation and then building the complexity. In my head the complexity was about going from the ground to the saddle or making the pattern more difficult like moving from a figure eight to a barrel racing pattern. But today it was as if I saw it for the first time. The need for a pattern being hardwired into the mind, the psyche, the well-being of a horse. When things start to go south, give the horse a pattern. Something as simple as following the rail and the horse can settle and realize, all is right in my world, like giving an infant a pacifier. The pattern can be a method of soothing, a tool for calm.

Now that I have committed myself to this reasoning, I hope someone doesn't come up to me and tell me I'm full of crap.

Another thing that I heard repeated today..... "green on green equals black and blue". Well, I'm green and Pip is green, so I went ahead and invited Kristi to my funeral. It just seemed the Miss Manners thing to do. Maybe I should have mentioned that she can feel free to bring a guest and that food and libations will be served. I hope they get a good band!!

Okay!, so maybe I shouldn't joke! I am very aware of the problems that can be involved with everyone being "green". But this is my dream and I have waited too long to chase it. I've already got a bad back and a gimp in my knee. I cannot risk slowing down anymore than I already have. Just you watch, I'm going to make it yet! One of these days I'll even have the pictures to prove it!


Friday, April 23, 2010

What a day!!

Well, it's almost eight o'clock in the evening and I am just now having a minute. I have been so excited about today that I have been afraid to mention it. Even a little afraid to think about it too much. Tomorrow morning I will be attending my first ever Parelli clinic!! ( You may insert excited squealing HERE!)

Of course everything has been falling apart this last week. I was starting to get depressed and frantic. I was afraid I was going to have to cancel. Today we started out with a thunderstorm and had no satellite services. I just KNEW the clinic got called off and that I wasn't getting the message via the computer. Must be paranoia under stress.

But we have made it!! We are sitting in a kind of cheap hotel with a bathroom so small that you have to step out to change your mind. I will have about a fifteen minute drive tomorrow morning and then I will be at 7A Ranch just outside of Oxford Iowa. I am swinging between exhaustion and being so excited that I am atwitter. Parelli 3 star professional, Kristi Smith will be the instructor tomorrow. I have heard so many wonderful things about her. Rumor has it that I will feel so good about myself after spending a weekend with Kristi, it'll be just like I were thin and hot!! I can hardly wait!

Now here's the funny part for you. I didn't even bring a horse! I'm just auditing! Imagine how much I would have messed up my head if I'd actually brought a horse! Well, Guys you are here for my first steps. This is really the beginning of my big horsemanship journey. Pip and I are going to do big things together. I can hardly wait. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow.


Thursday, April 22, 2010


I used to just love a magazine called Early American Life. It was awesome! That was where I first fell in love with quilts, heritage breeds and really hard looking furniture. I am actually convinced that if they had had softer furniture that it would have increased life span by a good ten years. EAL issued some of the first warnings about the loss of heritage breeds of domestic livestock, the loss of produce varieties and the loss of fruit tree cultivars. We have gone from thousands of types of apples to around four hundred. They also warned of the loss of artisans. We were losing the secrets of ancient handwork. One of the skills that was disappearing was that of artisan blacksmith. The idea of blacksmithing TOTALLY captured my imagination and it left a flickering flame burning in the back of my mind.

Zoom forward twenty plus years and I am then 49. I get an e-mail from my oldest daughter and an attachment. It was about an adult ed. class called basic blacksmithing. She called later," You should go, Mom. you've wanted to do this as long as I can remember. If it will make you feel better, I'll make Micah go with you" I think going to an adult ed. class with his future mother in law was just too creepy for Micah, but I did go to the class .....AND IT WAS GREAT!!!!!

It ended up being the coldest day of the winter for that year. The students met at the visitors center. Then we trudged across the back "yard" up the hill and down the street of a recreated historical village. Then into a plank shed that was the black smiths shop. It had no insulation, no central heat and no floor. The fire had been started in the pot bellied stove but it wasn't warm enough yet for the chimney to start drawing. Smoke filled the small space and we had to open the doors. The instructor started off explaining fire safety and hot metal safety but I really can't remember too much of it. The phrase "mind numbingly cold" is no exaggeration. Pretty soon we were allowed to get some coals and move them to the forges and to start our own fires. We used the bellows to coax the coals a bit then added some coke and then more air. More coke, more air. Watch and wait and gently, more coke, more air.

Before long each of us had a glowing pile of coals in out forges. We banked more coke on the pile then we picked out our hammers and cut our metal. By this time the chimney had stopped smoking and was drawing. We closed the doors and the shed went dark. We could finally take off our gloves. While we watched our fires out of the corners of our eyes, the instructor told us how to bounce our hammers on the anvil. Told us what made an anvil good and what made it bad, explained the hardy and pritchel holes and why the horns were shaped differently.

There was instruction interspersed with application. Our water buckets, which had been frozen solid, were starting to thaw out. We could cool and temper our pieces. The women were having a blast and, all but myself, were making plant hangers. I'm not sure what the fellow was making. In a fit of testosterone compensation, he had chosen a five pound hammer. He was overheating his metal so that when he pulled it out of his fire it looked like a sparkler. Then he would proceed to wail on it until the metal had gone gray and he was basically cold forging. Poor Dear was in pain by the time he broke his project into two pieces. He leaned over and looked at my work while rubbing his arm muscles, "So, what are you making?"

"Well, I figured that if I liked doing this, it would be a good idea to have a tool. So, I decided to make the coal shover thingy. If I get it done in time, I want to make the clinker tool too."

Then he went and cut some more metal and it wasn't long before he had a coal shover thingy as well. Being a chick, mine had a curve in the handle and a decorative twist in the shaft and a curley-que on the tip of the working end. The instructor watched me. "How did you get such a small curl on the end of that?"

"I dunked it a lot and didn't hit it very hard. Did I do good?"

"Good enough"

"But is that good? I want to be good at this!"

That fart never did answer me! But apparently, some of us were fairly good at it, because the instructor also taught us to do cold twists and hot twists. How to punch holes and make splits. One gal made a coil from her metal, but the best was making the leaf! One young gal's second effort was a key chain in the shape of a leaf. It was only about an inch across and two inches long. That's when I knew that some how I had to keep blacksmithing.

After class we went to eat. My face and hands were black and I exuded some smokey bacon aroma and I was so excited!

I bought a forge over a year ago. I still haven't found a way to get it home. Next step is to find an anvil that has good bounce and can sing. But I'll get it all figured out. Because I am addicted!! Next project is slated to be a gate. It will be a gate of twining vines and lots and lots of leaves! I'm going to be an awesome blacksmith!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our house

Yesterday was tiring. I did get everything but one done from my list. It is always an emotionally tiring day when I have to go back and see the old house. It still hasn't sold. It was a good house to us and I would like to see another family in it. A young family that could handle finishing up a "fixer-upper" We put sooo much money into it with a new roof, a new basement, new wiring, taking out the old horsehair plaster and putting in drywall,insulating but it isn't finished. And in this day and age we have television shows that tell young people that you shouldn't buy a house unless it is perfectly trimmed out to your tastes and unless it is just the right color of putty. If it's not just so, then the whole place should be considered a waste or a flip house.

The house needs a young family. Small children love that house. Large double wide doors throughout makes it feel open and little kids take off and RUN! Then when they get clear to the end of the house, in the kitchen, they dive into the pantry and peek out to see if anyone is chasing them. The house itself seems to warm up when there are small children in it. We used to talk about the ghost in the house, because it just seemed like there was SOMETHING there. Almost as if the house could breathe.

I have covered every inch of that house, even bled on one or two spots. I have scraped the paint down to bare wood. I have ripped off shingles on the roof. Torn out two old brick chimneys. I know the house. I know that the back part of the house is older. The nails holding it together are old cut nails. The nails are flat and look square from the end and they hang on tight forever! The 2x4's are full sized rough cut. They are so old and hard, they are practically petrified! The front of the house is newer. It has round nails in it. And as they worked the builders wrote on the insides of the wall. Sometimes it was just identifying where a piece of wood would go, like "front north trim" In several places there are scripture references. I remember one was from John and another from Isaiah. All of it in a beautiful, almost spencerian script.

The house also gave us treasures. Thanks to balloon framing, items from the attic fell down the walls. When we tore out the plaster we found one black button up ladies boot and one black stocking, a pair of home made wool felt baby shoes, a child"s black parasol with wood shaft and porcelain knob handle and all the metal ribs were removed. There was the child's sewing card and a Liberty head dollar dated 1924 in mint condition. There were the newspapers also dated 1924 describing what was almost a war in the streets of Chicago during the height of the gangster reign. There were also Episcopalian Sunday school papers. Under a room size piece of linoleum, we found a wedding license. The house apparently wanted to keep that because I cannot find it anywhere. The house has also decided to keep some of the kid's drawings from elementary school. I put them in a scrap book that they made for me out of two pieces of cardboard. I knew exactly where it was. Somehow it managed to go somewhere else.

We don't know exactly when our house was built. Town records indicate that the first recorded sale was in 1887 for the price of $2000. An appraiser told us that technically it is a Queen Anne style "I" cottage, but it is more then that. The house, for it's long years, hasn't changed hands all that often. Both the original purchasers the Woodhulls and the next owners, Blythe and Blanche Blair, lived in the house for over forty years each. The third family was there only two years and then moved to Arkansas. Then there was us. We were there for 27 years. This house seems to want long term relationships.

Sometimes the history of the house amazes me. It probably sheltered Civil war veterans. It came into existence with the railroads as the Indian wars were dwindling. As the buffalo disappeared, the Sears kit houses sprang up all over the region. The house watched the coming and going of two World Wars and the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts. I am humbled at the thought of all of the history my house has witnessed, and I did my best to put it into good enough shape for it to move on to another family. I want it to last another hundred years.

We just need to find the right family for the house. It needs the right family to take care of and the house needs the right family to take care of it. But right now, it is a mortgage that we can't afford and it's sad that is the way things seem to boil down. I hate it when life just turns into issues of money. Oh well, what can you do?


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One of THOSE days!!

I'm having a day where there is going to be too much need to THINK! too much need to TRAVEL! too much need to be EFFICIENT!! I was suppose to be up at 5:00 am to make sure that I could get my morning started right and I woke up at 6:06. Shit!

Mac keeps the alarm clock set and on his side of the bed. I prefer more reliable methods. When I need to get up early, I drink a lot before going to bed. This has always worked. Well, it's always worked within reason. But now I'm the age where that just gets me up in the middle of the night and then I sleep too long in the morning. Crap!!

I have phone numbers that I have to take with me, a shopping list and a can of gas. I can't find my phone! Shit! Shit! Crap!!

Then there is a review of the THE LIST. Do I absolutely have to get everything done that is on the list. Yes I do and it is reminding me of about six more things I should get done as well! I've had brain seepage lately, so something else will occur to me later that will startle me as I am driving down the road and will probably cause me to swerve! Shit!!

Okay, I am not going to panic today. I will get done what I can get done. I'm only human after all. Anything that is on the list and doesn't get done will not kill me.... except the first three things.... and I absolutely need to get the horse feed. Shit! Shit! Crap! Crap!

Crap! have to get dressed! Could fit everything in if I could just go in my pajamas. It's going to be an extra deodorant day! Shit! Crap, Crap,Shit,Crap,Shit!!!

Okay, okay! I can do this. Just another day.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Time is money

Last night as we were going to bed, Mac said to me, "You know, I'll never be able to retire because you'll never be able to take care of me."

Well, he didn't say it in a mean way, or anything like that, the resignation in his voice was about as painful though. I have always held the hope that somehow I would come up with a brilliant idea that would make us loads of money and we could breathe easy.... someday. The brilliant idea hasn't appeared quite yet. I haven't won the lottery either. The idea of being mortgage free in five years is starting to sound pretty "pie in the sky" about now.

I did have a skeleton of a plan. My wee home business would take off. The first money that I made would pay off credit cards and get me ahead on taxes. Don't want to piss off Uncle Sam. Then a couple of extra payments on the mortgage to have a lovely, safe, puffy bumper. Then pay off the truck. At that point, Mac could look for a car. Something that the grandkids car seats would actually fit into, preferably an electric or a hybrid. Then that would become his bill and I would, miraculously, finish paying off the house. And while accomplishing this miracle, I would play with my horses and plant trees and take up causes and in my down time, I would have bonfires, because we like bonfires.

But it is a very hard thing to create a home factory. It's painful to turn out the same thing over and over so my answer is to create more art pieces then run of the mill but that's hard too. There's just so much to do. It's hard to tell what the most important thing is, on any given day. Anything that gets neglected today, might take over tomorrow. Prioritizing is a tough thing in the spring. The outside beckons. Inside, I sew and cut and trip over 2x4s. I make plans. They aren't good plans, because every time I try to make detailed plans Mac goes back in the hospital or gets sick or, in general, scares the bee-jeebers out of me. So, I have plans where step one is... make a bunch of money. Yup!, It's a tad vague.

Oh God! I MUST be an optimist!


P.S. Just in case all of my eclectic, hairbrain ideas DO fall into place, keep your eyes peeled for a small collection of children's stories, a collection of cabin plans, a short line of renaissance clothing and custom made portrait/personalized quilts. Yes, DEFINITELY an optimist!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Horses are snowflakes. You might think you know what they are like, what they do , how they react, but they are all a little different. No two will be just alike, just like snowflakes.

The other day I had a snowflake moment with my two. The lower lot had run out of grass and was left worse for the wear from two "ponies" and a lot of mud. It was time to move them. The plan was to put Pip in the one small lot and Chloe in the other. Now if you owned bicycles this wouldn't be difficult. It was a nice day and the wind was up, which isn't always a good influence on horse behavior. Separation is also something that can get them a little emotionally dicey, as well.

I had gotten out lead ropes and halters. Had my carrot stick and smaller strings in case it looked like a good time to play. The equiment was sitting by the house, where I had left it. I took some time to walk the fence first to make sure there weren't any problems before the big move. Chloe was watching me, fascinated. I thought that since she was by herself it would be a simple enough task to just invite her into the smaller lot. So I decided to forgo the halter and just have at it. I dropped the wire gate. I stepped back and forth a few times so she could see for sure that the wires were down. I stepped inside the smaller lot, looked at her. Then diverted my gaze and walked backwards a few steps while giving her a smooch noise. She calmly walked up to the gate and I was thinking, " Man! this is just too easy!" That was probably my mistake because she stopped in the gate, looked me square in the eye and said,"What's in it for me?" A lot of people think horses don't say that... but they say it fairly frequently.

So I decided to repeat myself. I would be more succinct. I moved the gate wires farther back. I stepped in and out a couple more times. I walked backwards a little bit farther. I gave several more smooch noises while looking away. Brought my hands out a little. I was as non-menacing as I could be. Chloe stepped up and put her feet squarely in the gate area and said, " I don't believe you answered my question"

Now, I think this would be a good place to say that I don't believe in being anthropomorphic. I don't want to make my horses into Disney creatures/ orphan children that worry about evil in the world of fantasy animation. No! They are horses and THAT is what makes them infinitely wonderful. But, anyone who has spent much time with horses learns their faces, watches their body language, looks for the soft or scared or questioning expression. I TOTALLY knew the expression on Chloe's face.

In the meantime, Pip had arrived. I was kicking myself. I should have just gotten the halter and this would have been done already. Now, I figured the opportunity to separate them was gone. They would just squirt through the gate together and I would just have a tougher time of it next time. So, I gave myself another kick to make sure I had learned my lesson.

Then Pip did the most interesting thing.... she arched up her neck, brought her ears forward and asked, "What are we doing?" So, I stopped kicking myself for a moment and thought we would just go ahead and try this and see what we had working for us. I stepped up to the gate, caught her eye, looked away, stepped back and smooched. Pip shifted her weight a couple of times, said,"Well, okay then!" Trotted calmly through the gate, across the lot and shoved her face into a stand of grass. I closed the wire gate.

Chloe watched Pip. Looked at me. Looked at Pip. Then screeched,"Hey! She's got grass!!!"

I walked across the thirty foot alley, opened the wire gate to the other small lot. I muttered to her, "Looks like this is going to be your side now" As soon as the wires were pushed out of the way, she trotted through. Got no farther then about five feet and had her face into the grass. Apparently, she had figured out what was in it for her.

It's been interesting watching these two.... unlocking their personalities. Chloe is my screaming little fishwife, demanding and shrill. Pip has a really soft expression these days. She asks questions. The other day for the first time, she called to me. It wasn't Chloe's strident,"Hey Lady! it's time for supper!" She called when I was walking into the woods and disappearing from sight and her tone was soft.

Yup! I definitely have myself a pair of snowflakes!


Friday, April 16, 2010

A beautiful life

I am 52 years old. This causes one of two things to happen. You either run away from it as fast as your chubby little legs will allow, or you pick it up, you examine it, you turn it over in your hands and hold it up to the light. I am of the latter type. Not because I want to be. I just can't help myself.

Of course, I have to look at the math. Maybe I only have fifteen years left ... maybe twenty ..... maybe thirty, but however much there is, I want it to be especially good. I should have learned enough with my early years and experiences to equip me for this portion of my journey. In gastronomic terms, I'm ready for dessert. In which case, I want my dessert to be rich and creamy. Death by chocolate.

So, more then ever I want this part of my life to be a beautiful life. It seems it should be a balance of experiences and creativity and enriching the whole kit and kaboodle with the people that I want to have around rather then the people that I have to endure, and the icing on the cake should be that it is infinitely joyful.

It will be like the diamond in my wedding ring. The choices were going large, which meant that you could flash around a larger rock but it would have less brilliant color because of the impurities larger stones have. There would be more flaws. The other choice is of course smaller, which was my choice. My diamond, I was told, is about as close to flawless as a diamond can get. There aren't any impurities in the stone making it look cloudy. When the light hits it, the colors that flash and sparkle from the stone are blue and yellow and red. It's small but it is just so pretty to look at .... so close to perfect.

That's how my life should be now. Not a big life, but small and beautiful. Such a pretty thing to reflect upon ... so close to perfect.

Then again, maybe I have forty years left and I'm still eating steak!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

The stuff we are made of

There are so many influences that touch our lives. So many things that we investigate that, in the end, leaves us forever changed. Events, books, people movies. For our time, movies especially influence us. I would say that I have two movies that go the next step... they define me.

The first one is a really lovely animated feature called "The Man Who Planted Trees". Mac loves this one! It's a story of a man who day after day, in the framework of his simple life, plants nuts/seeds for trees. In his quiet way he brings back to life an expansive area, which he believed, " was dying for lack of trees" I'm finding it very hard to describe, so I will just urge you to see the movie or read the story. Mr Jean Giono was the author and he believed in the truth of the story so much that he just wanted it out there and available to people. It is a free download on the internet. The book and movie, of course, are copy written but the story alone, the meat of the matter, is free. This story is one reason why we are here on this land. I look out over our woods of dying elm and hedge and scrub trees. It is in need of a cleansing fire, but I am afraid of that. The dead so outnumbers the living that there would be nothing left. So, I go down and make small fires and burn brush and create space for healthier and more diverse undergrowth. I plant acorns when I can get them. Food bearing shrubs will be arriving soon as well as more tree starts. I have gotten sugar maples this time, and I hope that I can keep the deer off of them. It can be hard to effect change when you have deer, but I would like to believe that I am making some difference. I want, maybe I should say, I NEED to make this a better world.

The second movie is "Strictly Ballroom". Mac really doesn't like it. It is a little Aussie cult classic about "dancing your own steps" with the recurring admonishment to not be a "gutless wonder". There are also undertones of being real in a world that is composed of glitter. If Jean Giono is what fleshes out one of my dreams then this would be the movie that gives me the backbone to keep at it. This isn't a movie that you will straddle the fence on. You will either love it or hate it. I love it!

So, if you know my movies, to some extent you will know me. They have been around awhile. You won't be hearing Ebert doing any reviews of these. You will have to just find them and watch them. Maybe they will do something for you too..... or maybe I am just really, really odd. That's a possibility too. But I have to say, that these movies always, ALWAYS make me feel so much better! And there are days when a person needs to feel better. So, stand tall, look your partner in the eye and DANCE!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Today, I am having trouble with a lot of conflicting emotion. There are so many things that I can do nothing about. Sometimes that's okay and sometimes it isn't. Then there are the things that I can do something about. Things I should do something about. Today, I don't want to deal with any of it. I want..... I need a day of calm. That quiet in the eye of the storm where the sun shines and birds fly.

I have my to-do list for today, because I ALWAYS have my to-do list. I have things I promised for other people and there is so much other stuff floating around in my head clamoring for attention. But I can't get it all to lay down flat, stack itself neatly and file itself away in it's labeled cubby. I can't grapple with it today. I need to find a way to work inside of a calm place.

It makes me think of Tibetan monks. It's hard enough to find your "happy place" but I would think it would be damn near impossible to do it while sitting cross legged on a cold stone floor. Makes my back muscles spasm just to think about it. Maybe their happy place is just a recliner. One with the heater and optional vibrating back.

I think my brain today resembles a cowlick on the back of a ten year olds head.... and I have no hair gel. It's just sproinging every which way. CALM! Just be calm!

They tell you to do deep cleansing breathes to be calm. That doesn't work with me. It just causes me to flash back to being in labor. I always feel that the deep cleansing breathes should be followed by short little blow, blow, blow or an immense desire to PUSH!! No, No, NO! Can't do it, won't go there! Bearing down just has a totally different result these days.

OKAY!! I've got it! It just came to me. Today when things get to be too much, I will think about pie. I will think about rhubarb pie, to be specific. I will think about sunny rhubarb patches and baking and flaky crusts. I will think about feeding my family pie. When we eat pie, we talk about pie. We talk about rhubarb and how we never have enough to get us through the year. We talk about Fred using rhubarb leaves to pretend to be an elephant. We talk about eating rhubarb straight from the patch. We talk about pie crust being one of my Dad's favorite foods. We relish pie. We will recount pies from the past. Share pie experiences. I will think about how the ultimate sign of friendship is to dig up a bit of your rhubarb patch and transplant the start. We will talk about crust recipes. We will EXPERIENCE pie. And if we are lucky, we will have enough for seconds.

I love pie.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Miracle of Pip

I thought it was time to recount here the story of Pip. It started back when I had been involved with Parelli for about a year. I had Chloe already when a friend from our local driving club had discussed with me that to go through the levels of the Parelli program that it would be better for me to have a horse that I could ride instead of a pony. As I was already in the draft club, Jody was extolling the virtues of the draft as a riding animal. She had her clydesdale named Breezy Jane. BJ was the love of her life, with her husband a close second.

Every day I would search sites that had drafts for sale, paying especial attention to anything that said "FREE" or possibly "RESCUE". But the rescues were asking as much money as they were for good young stock. The slaughterhouses were running at full bore and there was a pretty hefty price for anything that had hooves. Whatever I found I sent pictures of to Jody and she would send pictures to me. Oftentimes Jody would send me pictures of $10,000. Gypsy Vanners. I told her, "no".

Amidst the excitement and hub-bub of horse shopping via the internet, I found a group of people on the Parelli site that called themselves the Carpe Diem group. I took up the role of resident smart ass.

Meanwhile, in real time I had found a horse that looked promising. It was a haflinger/ quarter horse cross in Wisconsin. Photos were emailed out. Jody said,"Hmmmm, maybe" The Carpes said that just wasn't the horse for me. I was told the look in the eye wasn't right. I was thinking,"But it's a bay... I LOVE bays!!". So I went to draft club meeting to whine to someone who would listen. That night I sat next to Cindy and Parmer and told my story of woe. "I found a horse that I really can't afford. It's seven hundred dollars and it's in Wisconsin. It's just a yearling....yadda, yadda, yadda" Cindy leaned over and whispered to Parmer. With out moving his head he whispered back. Then she turned to me and said,"So, you like haflingers?"

It turned out that she had some haflingers for sale. One, only one, would be available for the price of seven hundred dollars and they would deliver. I went out and visited. She was called Callie and she was downright aloof at our first meeting. I got in the habit of taking the long way round and sitting at the pasture in my car and watching them. She started getting curious. This I had learned through Parelli was priceless. Pictures were taken and emailed to various enthusiasts. In the meantime Mac was in the background telling me I didn't need another poop machine. This was his label for any critter that caught my eye.

I moved forward either on faith or idiocy. I told Cindy I wanted her... though there were days when I had doubts. Doubts in myself, doubts in her, doubts in the dream. I started selling recipes to raise the money. I knew she just didn't look like a Callie to me... the name just made me uneasy for some reason. I kept selling recipes. I remember the day that I told Cindy that I was up to a hundred dollars! I was excited! She was dubious. I kept hawking my recipes. The money trickled slowly in. then I got the news from Parmer that I had a bit of a deadline. I could still have her but the jack was getting turned in with the mares in May. If I took too long , she might come home in foal for a mule. I relayed that info to the Carpes, who had weedled their way into my hearts. I was on the verge of giving up.

Then one day I brought in the mail and there was a card. The return address just said Carpe Diem. Inside there was a card and inside the card there was a check. It was the money to purchase Pip, who used to be Callie. I put the check back into the envelope and stashed it on my desk. I would take it out several times that day. The next day, I took it out and had myself a good cry. The following day, I called Cindy and asked when I could come over. Two days later the check was cashed and I got a slip of paper saying that I was the owner of a unregistered haflinger.

Then I posted to the Carpes.

In case you don't see it. I want to be plain on this score. The real miracle of Pip are the people, who barely knew me at the time, who had no reason to believe in my abilities or even me as a person, yet they were the ones that gave me the one thing I had wanted my whole life. They are my heart friends. I will always love Parelli because he gave them to me.


Monday, April 12, 2010

What if ......?

When I was young and in Drivers Ed. class, we had a teacher that would play "What If". What if that child on the curb runs out in front of you? What if the blue car on the highway cuts you off? What if the car in front of you slams on their brakes? Of course, the game was designed to keeps us aware and paying attention.

"What If" has invaded all areas of my life. With Mac's illness, most of the "what if" possibilities look at the darker side. If he doesn't survive the stem cell transplant process, I will lose my home. I will probably lose the truck. I am hoping that I will be able to hang onto my horses. I know of people that will take Chloe, but no matter what, I cannot lose Pip. I hope I can hang onto at least part of my land, and I make estimations to just how rough can I live and happily survive. What if... what if... I keep playing scenarios through my mind.

Then it occurred to me, that I almost never play any happy "What if" games anymore. Haven't thought about being successful at anything I do. Haven't bought a lottery ticket in four months. But I know there is still that optimistic side in me. I know I have hope. I'm just not sure how to aim it anymore. Maybe I should just start smaller. What if ....I finally get that barrel cut into a water trough. What if .... I finally get that kitchen cabinet hung. What if ..... I make a start on the arbor.

Mac has survived the most difficult six months post transplant. The next statistical hurdle is five years. If he survives the five years then there is an 80% chance that he will live an additional fifteen years. What if ...he lives the five and my business and blog take off? Then I can hopefully take him to Ireland. What if... I am able to expand and hire the girls? What if ... things go well financially and Mac can retire early? What if... I could send Mac and his brother to guitar camp?

What if.... Mac gets the additional fifteen years? How much could I cram in then?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Keep moving!

One of my harbingers for spring is the vulture. Once in a awhile you see one when it is still a bit wintry out, but then it disappears, and in a week or two they are here in droves. I figure that the single brave vulture who risks getting his wee 'nekkid' head snowed on must be the scout. Of course, there are those out there who actually know. I just watch and conjecture.

I seem to be a curiosity to them. I yell at them. It's my method of animal communication. Over the last couple of summers as I have tried to work on the house, they have gathered. Sometimes there are as many as seven or eight just circling my head. On occasion, when I have been down in the trench digging in the mud, and I felt hope fading , the vultures would arrive. As their circles would sink lower and lower, I could feel them watching me. that's when I would yell, "I'm still moving!!", with an optional, "I'm not dead yet. No eating until I'm dead" I'm told that vultures have exceptional olfactory abilities. Sweating in the mud, I could understand their confusion.

They don't seem to make an impressive appearance when other people are here. When someone else is with me, we see bald eagle and hawks. There is a kestrel nearby. He isn't seen as much but he calls often. One morning after a storm there was a brilliant white seagull floating above the house. But, when I am alone it is the vultures that keep me company.

I am trying to figure out if their appearance for me is good luck or bad. Some cultures say they carry messages from the dead for the living. i have heard of others doing purification of a place so the vultures would not, perhaps could not, gather there any longer. Well, they gather for me, so apparently I'm on the hit parade in the afterlife. Yep, everybody's got advice. The other day I was telling my Dad that his delivery system was faulty. It would get to thirty feet over my head but his actual meaning was unclear.

There have been times when they were buzzing me, and I could see their birdy, glinty eyes, and I have considered a purification ceremony. But I'm not sure. This might be a connection that I want. They waft over me in their bird dance and then the one will drop and swoop over me or circle lower, watching me. Always just the one that gets so close. I'd like to think it is a message. I want to believe it is my Dad or maybe, women from my line. Warrior women infusing me with their strength, toughening me for this new life. But just in case, I yell, " I'm moving! No eating until I'm dead!!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

purple hat ladies

I don't know if this is strictly an american phenomenon or not. But there is a group of ladies that get together and are marked by the purple hats they wear. It is based on a poem where the writer declares that when they are old they will wear purple. They will be unique and quirky and to their degree, daring. These gals commemorate this thought by wearing purple hats and becoming conformists.

I have to wonder about this a bit. How much better would it have been if some one would have declared," When I am an old woman, I will stand up for the helpless, I will help to find a roof for the homeless, I will defend the underdog, I will speak up for what is right regardless of financial gain or loss. I will actually BELIEVE the best things in life aren't things, and I won't just put it on a plaque and place it prominently by my door".

But I don't think that would have become a popular mantra and it certainly doesn't improve with head gear. But when you are actually different, and don't require thirty other people to be different with you, then it's another matter.

God grant me the strength to be different.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dr. visit

Well, another notch in the belt. Another Doctor visit behind us. These visits always leave me thinking that I really just don't know how to feel. Mac's regular oncologist is Dr. Hiatt. Dr. Hiatt used to be so good at giving us the big picture. He would tell us how the disease was working and what they were trying to accomplish, goals for each step of the process. He would tell me what to watch for. If this happens or if that happens or most importantly, if you have questions, call. We had been told that if all went well, they (Iowa City) would turn Mac back over to Dr. Hiatt two months after transplant. Transplant was last July 31.

He had a very good visit yesterday with Dr. Silverman, who we are fond of, and he is to go back in four weeks. I try to get additional information. While I know that Dr. Silverman is very smart, she doesn't give me the information that I crave. I always leave Iowa City not knowing if the ground I am standing on is solid or not.

Mac has GVH. GVH stands for graft versus host. The graft is the stem cells from bone marrow from the donor. These stem cells basically create a new immune system that attacks the cancer cells. In this case it is the leukemia cells. But since these cells don't know that they are no longer in their original body, they can perceive the whole body as a "foreigner" and attack it. The goal is to have a little GVH so you know that these new cells are also going after the cancer. You know it's working. You do not want so much that it is going after an organ, organs or the whole body. Most people get a patch of GVH on their skin. In Mac's case it is inside of his mouth. It seems to be limited to that location right now. We're okay with this because we have been told that a little GVH is a good thing. So, yesterday, when I asked how is this shaping up? Is he ready to start having his visits moved out further? Is there a timeframe for moving him back to his regular oncologist? Then we are told,"He has GVH. This is serious." WHY!!? Why am I not getting the same message each time we see a doctor? Why do I keep getting cryptic bits of information? Why is it that what I am told one day isn't the same information that I get on another? What is worse... how do I take care of my husband when I'm not being given the information to adequately evaluate what is happening with him? When do I need to call the doctor? When do I pack him up and take him to the emergency room?

I feel adrift. I hope I know enough. When Mac left the Dr. office yesterday, both the Physician's assistant and Dr. Silverman said he looked great. They wished all of their patients looked as good as he does. This information didn't cheer us up at all. After all, it is a stark contrast to "He has GVH. This is serious." Now I don't know if a little GVH is a good thing.

For four weeks at a time his life and well-being are my responsibility. I miss Dr. Hiatt. I miss Bridget, his nurse...Bridget, the wonder nurse. I hope that what I do to take care of him tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, are the right things to do. I hope things get better. I hope..... I hope.... I don't know, I think I want a "do-over".


Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Sometimes I have rage. When I have rage, people assume that I am mad at God, or I'm mad because of this disease. I'm not. This shitty disease is just part of the gamble that comes with life. No one is exempt. Everyone carries their risk.

What makes me angry are the ones who kick you when your down, or who abuse their power because they can. One of my personal experiences has been with Clarke Electrical Co-op. They provide electricity to where we live. As a matter of fact we heat with electricity. The reason we heat with electricity is because we were told that you get a special rate if you heat with electricity. I believed them.

I went shopping for electrical heat sources, A couple of the kids went with me. Our criteria was how much space did this product take, price, and to our laymen's minds electrical usage. We went with an area heating system. When we had the house about done and winter was coming. I thought I'd better get on top of that and contacted Clarke Electrical. This is when I was told that I couldn't have the heating rate. I was told that I should have contacted the company before installing. I needing the heating source to go through a different box so they could meter it for the discount. And with the type of heat source we had I also had to get an electric hot water heater. I told them that I did not want an electric hot water heater. I liked my gas tankless that was actually efficient. I told them that the electric would eat up so much juice that I would probably lose the savings anyway. The company representative agreed.

Later, when a plumber was here checking out a pilot light, we mentioned our situation. He got kind of irritated. "They don't need to run that through a separate box", he told us, "There's this little donut gizmo that fits over the wire going to your heater and they can tell how much electricity you use. They're not giving you decent rate cause they can get out of it." He went on about the virtues and downfalls of electrical service in different service areas. Clarke electric came up short all the way around.

Later, I was talking to one of the women that worked in the Clarke electric office. I let her know I was mad about not getting the heating rate. She said I should get the heating rate. Yes, they COULD put the donutty gizmos on. Then she asked what kind of heating we had. I told her," In the wall, zoned"

"Oh, you're exempt"

"I'm exempt?"

"Yeah, we don't give heat deductions for that kind of system"

So here I am, trying to be the good little consumer. I try to not be excessive in my lifestyle. I try to not use more then my fair share, cause there is a big planet out there with a lot of people on it. I try to be responsible and because of that I pay $.30 per kilowatt hour instead of $.12. I don't like being manipulated. I don't like being lied to and I don't like being taken advantage of because someone else is holding all the cards.

So, this is what I am prophesying for the future. The grid is such an inefficient structure anyway. Ninety percent of the electricity created is just lost through the air on the grid. I believe that the use of the grid outside of metropolitan areas will soon be obsolete. It is far more efficient to have a stand alone system in the country rather then running wire and poles and burying wire and putting in transformers over long distances. There are some new developments just waiting there for people to grab up, like the special paint that can turn an entire buildings surface into a solar collector. The new window glass that is laced with a fine filament and every window can become a solar collector. They are on the verge of having electrical storage units that far surpass what we think of as "batteries". They just have to get it in production.

But in the meantime, I have the overwhelming desire to build a bunch of homemade wind turbines and run the juice back onto the grid. I read about it in MAKE magazine, issue 5. You see, when installing the electricity the lineman let me know that they don't like it when people feed back into the grid. That's all the excuse that I really need.....because, I HAVE RAGE.


Monday, April 5, 2010

computers and bobcats

Today is bill day. I hate bill day. It's this huge, monolithic, evil force and it scares the bejesus out of me! Bill day happens when you are married to a teacher. There is that once a month paycheck that visits and you think, " Oh, we have money! We have money!" Then two hours later it's more like "Oh shit! We've got fifty dollars to make it through the month!" So, for close to twenty years, I have faced bill day. For close to twenty years, I have faced once a month nausea and heart palpitations.... then I count out my change and I buy a lottery ticket.

Bill day has also become the bar by which I measure other things. Does this create as much stress as bill day? For instance, going to Iowa City to the Dr... not a bill day. Dinner with the parents.... bill day.

Then as I sit with my daughter and she is explaining posting pictures within text while on the computer, it begins. In my head, I'm thinking, "I swear to God, she is speaking latin again!" Then the stomach starts doing some interesting moves. I feel like I am bruising a bit because her words are bouncing off my head with some force now. I see her lips are moving! but there aren't any words that are useful coming out! I need words so I can take notes! I need useful words. I need her to say, " Go here and press this button and everything will be okay" But that isn't happening!! Now the picture won't even work for her! I have a computer curse and I can tell that it is starting to rub off on her as well. Son in law, Micah comes over to help. They do something! I don't know what's happening but the screen is replaced with streams of gibberish and intermittently there are symbols, just to help the gibberish along. Micah says to just go in and place the something-something into the code somewhere-somewhere. CODE!! IT'S IN CODE! Your only suppose to break codes with your Little Orphan Annie de-coder rings, or if it applies, enemy messages during time of war! We could break something!! I feel like we are behind the curtain and only the wizard is suppose to be behind the curtain. We're doomed! Nothing good is going to come of this.....BILL DAY, BILL DAY, BILL DAY!!!

Then in comparison, there was the day I had walked down the drive and across the road to release a mouse from a live trap. Tip the trap and let the door fall open. Knock the little vermin out and I look up. I stand there in the middle of a "B" surface road in my crocs and jammies knowing that I can't run. I remind myself that in this situation, I shouldn't run. Because just a hundred feet away there was either the largest bobcat that I have ever seen or a juvenile mountain lion. My first thought was that I should have tossed him the damn mouse. We both just stood there looking each other over. The cat just seemed too big to be a bobcat, but the way he was standing, I could not see a long mountain lion tail. He had two balls of white on the face like mountain lion cheeks and there were no ear tufts. I knew that there was a bobcat around. I had seen tracks a number of times. I also knew that the neighbor had spotted a mountain lion the previous year, but he had thought it was just moving through. Boy! It looked big for a bobcat!! I didn't want to die in the middle of a "B" surface road in my jammies!! That was when I remembered a story that I had read about an american Indian detective and in the Indian way, I addressed the animal, "Little Brother, I have taken this place for my home. I have ponies and I will have other animals in my care. Please don't bother them. If you will leave me and mine alone then I will leave you and your family alone." Then we stood there just a moment longer and the cat turned and trotted into the woods on the other side of the road. I turned and slowly walked up the very, very long drive. Stopping a couple of times to look behind me. I opened the door and said to Mac, " You will never guess what just happened to me!..."..NOT A BILL DAY!


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Evelyn's here!!

One year old grand daughter Evelyn is here. So, for a couple of days, my priorities re-organize. It's not exactly marching to the beat of another drummer, it's more like dancing to the tune of the Playskool softy serpent thingy. Evelyn likes to dance. She dances like a sumo wrestler. She has a charm and grace that is unmatched.

Speaking of grace... she has an incredible move that defies description. I refer to it as her monkey butt turn. She is neither up nor down but it gets her spun around. She is so deft at this move and it so natural to her. She has no clue as to why I am laughing so hard.

My house is cleaner because of Evelyn. She cannot walk past the broom and dustpan with out picking up the dustpan and bringing it to me. Then she refuses to be dissuaded from finding some dirt and sweeping it up and tossing it out the door. Okay, it's not that hard to find something to sweep up at my house. Kind of makes me look forward to when she is old enough to be polite about such things.

Sometimes she is just so happy that she has to stop what she is doing to clap her hands, then throw them in the air and to yell "Yeah"! Everybody should be so happy .... at least sometimes.

Apparently, iPod earbuds feel neat on a person's tongue. I will take her word for it. It's one Evelyn thing I won't be trying myself. Oh, and the monkey butt move, I won't be trying that one either. But for now, for these few days, I'll forget the to-do list and Evelyn and I will dance to the beat of a different softy serpent thingy.

Monday, we are back to normal. (sigh)


Friday, April 2, 2010

hidden treasures

While doing my little woodsy cleaning I found a perfect little spot for family gatherings.... well, that's how I hope it works out. There is a spot that comes down out of the hay field then into the trees. There is a little trail that drops down to another tier of ground. This spot is fairly open. It is a natural location for a fire ring and some stumps for seats. Then it drops down again. This last drop is a sand bar. Sometimes after a rain the water tears right through, but most of the time it ranges from dry to a couple of inches of water.

The whole time I was working on cleaning up an adjacent area of woods, I kept watching the beach area. That was already how I was viewing it..."the beach" It was the perfect too shallow to drown, soft and sandy, hot dog roasting, happy place for my family. Of course, there is so much that needs to be done, but I could still see everything play out in my head like a movie. Kids sitting around on some home styled adirondack chairs, some cheesy tiki torches. The grand kids playing in the sand and running and splashing in the water.

Just days ago there was nothing but thorny undergrowth. It hasn't taken much uncovering to find so many perfect hidden treasures. I can't wait until I am ready for everyone to see them.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

to sleep, perchance to dream

Sleep and I have had a difficult year.... well, almost a year. Part has been stress. Part has been full moons streaming light through the window. Part has been vomiting.

Sleeping as a "guest" in a hospital is as difficult as sleeping as a patient. You get woke up for midnight and four o'clock vitals. You get to hear the neighbors tv when they have insomnia. There's the little alarms when someone falls down in the bathroom, and you get to experience all this with out the crackly comfort of the plastic coated hospital mattress.

When Methodist in Des Moines remodeled and went to a slide out bench to bed I was ecstatic!! No more bar in my back...HOT DOG!!, but there were still other predators to my ability to sleep. And here I have to give a shout out to Kayla the night nurse. She was one of our many godsends. Some nights when Mac couldn't sleep she would slip in and they would visit. When Kayla was in the room, I could sleep. I knew I was just turning my watch over to the other guard dog and if Kayla were there everything would be okay.

Going to Iowa City for the bone marrow transplant and then later the liver complication was totally different. They tout themselves as being family friendly. They are not. At least on the seventh floor cancer ward they are not. Several occasions I stopped nurses from giving medications that Mac was allergic to. So that meant don't sleep when it is time for medications. Always ask what they are giving. Many didn't like that. Some would just say, "I know what I'm doing" So then, it was necessary to keep watch because you didn't know what he had taken. It became the norm to sleep for two hour increments.

Then we came home. Coming home is always culture shock. With culture shock comes not a whole lot of sleep! Slowly the sleep got better but many nights were spent watching the moon's path trail across my window. Even though things got better it was as if that Iowa City recliner was permanently embedded into my psyche. Even the best nights had a wake up between 1-2 in the morning and again between 3-5.

But the last two nights I have had my own little miracle. i have worked clearing some brush during the day. I would start my process with building a fire and raking out an area. Whacking down everything that didn't rake up. Picking up old dead wood and burning that. I dare say that I overdid. Both days I could barely breath. My back hurt so badly that sitting down or standing up took some planning and a bit of courage. The good part was that I went to bed and I SLEPT! There's was no one o'clock wake up. There was no three o'clock wake up and when I woke up I actually felt awake! I was alert and the brain was in the totally upright working position, ready to go! It was so different. It was like some little part in me had gotten to heal up a little.

I just feel so much better!