Saturday, July 31, 2010

The New To-do

I spent some time re-prioritizing. Some things I still really want to have accomplished before snow flies. Some things can go to bed until next spring. It pains me to say that however. Kind of like announcing that I'm a quitter. But then who knows maybe a miracle will occur and things will get finished none the less.

The most important thing I can do this autumn is find and install an alternate heat source. The electric company is running it's own version of piracy plus I do live in fear of every icy limb between us and the power source. Self sufficiency is the motto!!

I still want the out door kitchen before winter. I cannot shake what it will be like to sit out there in late autumn and watch the fire in the fire place. The hard part will be the posts and crosspieces. After that it can go back to being a one man show. I can do this!!

I MUST get the Hobbit House footings taken care of while we are in the dryer fall season. That way next spring I don't lose all of those man(woman) hours battling water and collapsing earth. It will just be a cut and dried matter of go and build! The grand kids will be at a good age to enjoy it next spring.

Of course I have to get the garden put to bed. This one makes me sad.... I so screwed this project up this year. All for the want of a greenhouse! Oh well!

After that I need to re-stack the building materials. Get them tarped up better and farther from the house as all that stuff is a boon to the mouse population.

So that is it for the house/homestead area.

On the farm side of things...

Number one is build a round pen. I'm striving for cheap and cheerful on this project.

Number two is hay storage and run in shelters.

Number three is to get my forge home.

The last front is me.... I need to feel like I have some personal accomplishments.

I promised Stacy from Parelli that I would improve. So I want to achieve my level one. Goal is to not exceed three months. Fingers crossed.

The business absolutely MUST get going!! I need money!

I have continued to get better since my immune system crashed and I developed reactive airway disease. This place seems to have a healing effect for me. I'm going to end up with really bulgy muscles like Popeye.

There ya' go! the abbreviated list of what must happen this fall. I can do this... the worst part is over.


Friday, July 30, 2010


This morning as I walked out to do my chores, I could feel the change in the air. You could taste it. I didn't walk into the house with my pants soaked from the knee down with thick dew. The grass nesting birds are no longer playing their merry chases. There doesn't seem to be as many martins or swallows either, though it is no where near time for them to depart. The signs are definitely starting to show themselves. It is time and now we turn to the season of PANIC!!

I know, I know I did the panic thing earlier this summer. Get used to it. It's going to happen on a much more regular schedule now. I need to prioritize..... I need to stay calm.... I need a round pen. Time for slow relaxed breathing.

I need a level of "doneness" to be able to turn to the more joyful aspects of my life. The feeling of being driven is unrelenting. Have to build the life. Have to build the little farm. Finish digging... finish building..

Breath in .. breathe out.. stay calm... enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Screw this. I'm going to go ahead and turn into the Hulk. I always get way more done with rage. Cussing and heart palpitations ! here I come!! Time to employ the darker side of my nature.



Thursday, July 29, 2010


I have been having a conversation with a young friend about trust. It has haunted me for several days. You would think it would be a simple enough topic. Whether or not a person is capable of trust seems like it should be plain enough. However, there is so much to consider. Trust someone with me....okay. Trust with the care of my husband.... after you prove yourself. Trust with my children and grandchildren....NO.

There are experiences over experiences. Layers and layers, some smothering , some festering and some reaching a brilliant luminescence. The experiences of parenthood, where all dangers in the world take on a much larger scale. Both Mac and I have had individuals in our families who were criminal in their abuse of children. As we have watched people play all "nicey-nice" and pretend that nothing has ever happened, they continue to put our children at risk. Anyone who cares about how the family "looks" to outsiders has no trust from me. They are as much to blame as the perpetrator.

I have had my best friend in the world toss me aside because I wasn't popular enough with her current clique. We had been friends since seventh grade and I became inadequate during her college years, She fell back on me a year later. Then I wasn't good enough for her again the following year. Somehow yet again I became her "go to" buddy. Then the last time... well, it was the last time. I got a tearful sounding letter from her after that, about how she had needed me and I wasn't there for her. Yup, that's right.

All of us get those wake up calls about how we have mistakenly placed our trust and friendship.

All of those layers of experiences that have taken away my ability to trust have also developed other things in me. I have developed a certain clarity in my ability to judge personalities. I see peoples flaws pretty quickly, sometimes too analytical of other personalities. But once I know who they are for real, and whether that personality can mix, then I am fiercely loyal. If you manage to lose my loyalty then you have lost me. As harsh as that sounds, I still don't feel bad in saying it, because I don't believe I have ever met anybody more loyal then I am. Such a pathetic hound dog trait! but it's me.

So when I told my young friend that I could never be 100% trusting of somebody, it does not give a clear reflection of myself. Even this explanation is a bit of a glossing over. The trust that I do offer is layered and layered. I don't just offer trust. I offer the package. Trust, friendship, stewardship, clarity, loyalty. I will give her thirty years and I think she will have a handle on it. It took me that long to get it figured out.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


In a previous blog entry (Just keep Moving), I wrote about the vultures here. They seemed to be a permanent part of the summer landscape. Only about a month ago, I had a vulture circling me, then as it came round in front of me it dropped low and buzzed me. It was approximately ten feet from the ground and thirty feet in front of me. It was creepy. Whenever I walked into the yard, the vultures gathered.

Then right before Mac was off to Seattle, we discussed some changes to be made. One of the changes was to paint the front door and the arbor red. I knew I wanted some red in the door area as it was on the south side. According to a Feng Shei (Feng Shui? Feng Sheu? Hell! Spell check doesn't know either!) anyway, according to the ancient asian method of bringing order and good fortune into your home you needed red on the south side of the house, best place being a door. That's all I really know as I flipped through the book and didn't buy it. Mac just liked the color and I was grasping at "good luck" straws.

So, off he goes to Washington! And I got started with the arbor. It still isn't quite done but there is a large amount of red out there none the less. Then the weirdest thing happened. The vultures left. They were replaced with hummingbirds.

So, today we are off to Iowa City for Mac's monthly visit to the oncologist. They will be doing a bone marrow extraction/biopsy. Today the thought that I will try to hold on to is that those omens of death are gone. They are replaced by unbelievable lightness.

I choose to believe and my perceptions are, that we are going through some very good changes.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Over the course of the last two years, I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how much stuff is the right amount of stuff. It seems to me that it goes in steps. First is the having enough to survive. Then there is having enough for comfort. Which is followed by the right amount of stuff to own to impress people with. Finishing off with having so much stuff it bankrupts you, because it costs more to house all of your "stuff" then it does to house you.

I am finding that I feel happiest on the minimalist side of the comfort range, not quite to the point of scandinavian vogue.

I think we accrue stuff to define ourselves. By feathering the nest, we establish our territory and prove our individuality. Somehow it all goes incredibly wrong. I am watching as my children are trying to come to terms with their own "stuff". Things so craved when they started out, because they had nothing. Much of it only feels like a burden now... especially on moving days.

Right now I would give all of my stuff to have Edgar and Evelyn back to see me. Missing them terribly. Stuff just doesn't seem to be an important part of my personal culture anymore. What I do and who I'm with seems to encompass the meaning of life for me now. So, exceedingly simple, and it only took fifty-two years to arrive here.


Monday, July 26, 2010


Grand daughter Evelyn came for a visit this weekend. While our everyday lives came to a screeching halt, we became enriched by the bittersweetness of our time together. When either of the grand kids are here I am acutely aware that the time we have is limited and fleeting.

Mac is the kind of grand parent that follows the motto of "Fill them up with sugar and drop them off to their parents" while I tend to be more of a "let's go have an adventure!!" kind of grandparent. So I spend a lot of time on the floor with them, working to build the person so they will be ready to go into the woods, build forts, learn to start fires, hike and swim. The same training that I tried very hard to give my own kids. At this time it looks as if Edgar will be my horseman, and Evelyn will be my all purpose rough and tumble outdoors woman. (aka warrior woman in training)

As usual, because I bothered to pay attention, Evelyn taught me something. Almost as soon as we arrived to pick her up, she ran into something putting a small gouge into her shin. Her mom pressed a wet cloth on it. After several attempts to get it to stop bleeding, the band aids were brought out. Evelyn was happy as a clam. She didn't seem to note the injury or be bothered by anything that was done to her to stop the bleeding. But the band aids were another matter. Now the sobbing began. Huge tears hung on her cheeks. Her lower lip protruded and quivered. She wailed, "OWWWIIIIEEEEE!! owie, owie, owie." It hadn't been her little wound that had bothered her. It was the evidence of the wound that she had problems with. Later as we drove home she would occasionally see the band aid. She would point. Then she would have a pitiful look on her face and she would say in a very quiet voice, "owie". I would tell her, " Yes, you have an owie, but it's much BETTER!." Then she would take the edge of her dress or her blanket and cover the band aid up. Once it was no longer visible, she relaxed. Then she would turn back to me and flash me a smile.

Then I had a moment of revelation. It is all about perceptions.

In the immortal words of Barb Sher, " You can do what ever you need to do with whatever damn attitude you woke up with". This is my reality. I see people put on their larky 'good attitudes' and say their inane sayings like a mantra and I just really have the desire to slap them or trip them or make rude hand gestures behind their backs. For me, there is a huge chasm between good attitude and good perceptions.

Good attitude is like cotton candy... all air and fluff and sickening sweet.

Good perceptions are steak and green vegetables and manna from heaven. Good perceptions are the best of realism. I know where I am. I see where I want to go. I study the different paths. I plot a course. I have a plan. I don't need to wait until I have a good feeling or have a sufficient enough good feeling to dress myself in some artificial demeanor. I don't need that because I know I can reach the dream by putting one step in front of another. Sometimes I have rage with my steps. Sometimes I have frustration or fear or exhaustion. But I can't stop. I can't stop because I perceive that I can make it. I can make it because I can do any thing that I have to with whatever damn attitude I woke up with.


Friday, July 23, 2010

More planning

It is another hot and humid day. The weather patterns have changed since I was younger. Well, not even that much younger. Everything feels different then it did just ten years ago. It leaves me...... apprehensive. The last summer that was like this with the early heat and air you could chew, we had a cool August and an early winter. I mentioned this to some friends recently. When you have an early winter that stands out in the mind of someone from Michigan, then you know it was an interesting winter. So, I intend to plan.

First item on the agenda... alternative method of heating. Solar collectors will be at the windows if I can get them built. These are just a passive heat exchange contraption referred to as "heat grabbers." But you still need something for night time. so I'm looking at home made out door wood furnaces. Every design I find though is water/boiler based. I'm having trouble finding one that is just hot air designed. Wished we had a wood burner inside but Mac vetoed that idea from the beginning. I'm also trying to read up on home made windmills and solar collectors that would store enough energy to run the electric heaters at night. This is going to be an uphill battle. (sigh)

Then there is the shelter issue. I have to have a couple of run ins built for the horses. Strange enough, Pip will go through fences to get away from Chloe, the pony. Once she has her own space I think a string could probably contain her... or in this case, a non-functioning electric fence. So, once again fencing becomes my enemy. I'm trying to think like a pioneer and look around me and ask, " What can I do with what I already have?" Mostly, my brain gets tired. I really, really need a chain saw work crew for a weekend. Apparently you need to live in Minnesota, or Michigan or Wisconsin to have those kinds of people around. (sigh)

I'd like to get a functioning greenhouse or high tunnel to provide food for the winter. I probably should just jump right into ...(sigh)

Oh well, It's all going to wait for me.. at least, for awhile. I think that right now I need the comfort of my ponies. Maybe head down into the woods. Maybe I'll get a fresh idea. I always have ideas. I always plan.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

I was thinking.....

I was thinking that if I accomplish everything that I want to, that someday, somebody might want to make a movie about me. I see the unlikelihood of this, but considering some of this summer's sequels, they could do worse. Besides, I think it will do very well in Europe.

So with this in mind, I was thinking of modifying some of my goals. I think I need to get arrested at least once, preferably for protesting. Always better to go down swinging.... it builds a much better plot. Many famous people have kept journals. That might be a good idea. I could write ideas for camera angles in the margins.

I am concerned about who they get to play me. Imagine if you will, a personality that resembles Madeline Kahn's with a smattering of Monty Python and Second City. Bundle it up and shove it into the body of Kathy Bates. Then give her about seven times the amount of hair (on her head!), make sure it's unkempt and then you pretty well have a package that would resemble me. I have little doubt that Angelina Jolie will fight for the part ... let the chips fall where they may!

Well, the good news is that I have plenty of causes. One of course is fighting our way back from the ten to thirty year "tipping point" for the planet's environmental recovery. I am a firm believer in solar cars. I'm still trying to find someone to help me make one. I want to put the mustang back on it's range and then stand tall, look big oil, big lumber and big cattlemen in the eye and flip 'em a bird! I want to develop a program where indigenous peoples/economies make their livelihood by replanting the rain forests in their area and maintain them sponsored by other people from around the world ... like save the children but for tree planters. Last but not least, I want to learn to make a really good foccacia.

So, I have a question for you, as you giggle away at an old broad who is struggling to have a movie worthy life... why, oh why, are you struggling so hard to have a life that isn't movie worthy? It's the only story that you are ever going to get to live. Make it a good one.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More guilt

According to many jewish comedians, that race has solely cornered the market on guilt.... if only!! Today I am ridden with guilt! Since Mac has gotten home I have not accomplished one single, solitary thing! I'M A FAILURE!!!

I'm sitting here and trying to find a way to turn this situation around.

Okay, something easier, maybe I'll make pancakes for breakfast! You're right! You're right! I'm a coward and a quitter! I promised myself that as soon as Mac got home the number one priority would be more horse fencing. The main drawback being I need help. (but pancakes are so tasty! and we just bought a new jar of syrup, no high fructose corn syrup, 25% real maple!) It has always been amazing to me how some people take on a task and little helpers just crawl out of the wood work. I must not have that magnetic personality.

I have a brilliant idea for a horse fence that is also designed to be pheasant/quail habitat. Now who WOULDN'T want to help?! (there's those new scone recipes that you've been wanting to test drive... yum!) It'll be such a cool fence... very ecological. I just need a couple of guys with chain saws to show up. ( strawberry jam!)

I still need to finish up so many projects inside though. I didn't put near the dent in the to-do list that I had hoped. (yummy melted butter, dripping, dripping, dripping) I still have earth to move outside. I want to be ready for grass seed in another month or so. I want to be able to use the outdoor kitchen this fall. (KITCHEN!!) Then there is the upstairs flooring that still has to get laid. ( Would you settle for some oatmeal? I'll use cinnamon!)

I really don't know what is the matter with me! I just can't seem to get back up to speed. On top of that, I think I might be gaining some weight! This is just irritating!!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I can do that....

Over the years I have accumulated some talents. Most were acquired after I had kids. If we wanted to do something or have something and there wasn't the money, you figured out how to make it. It probably started with the ugly paper dolls. One was Martha Washington from a coloring page from school. She was adhered carefully to cardboard, cut out and a stand was made for her. Martha was with us for quite a few years. There was the humongous Barbie dollhouse that was in the dining room made of cardboard boxes. That was followed by a real dollhouse that we made ourselves and all the Maple Town animals lived in that one. The Barbies were stuck in the cardboard tenement until dining room urban renewal was imposed. Let's see there was the go-cart, though we had a lot of trouble with the front wheels. We planted the tree for the tree house. We ran into a snafu when the tree had to be cut down thus putting the project back by decades.

In the meantime, I was also learning to hang drywall, electrical wiring, shingling and various and sundry workaday skills. After a bit of that a person needs some personal enrichment. So I learned to quilt. That was long enough ago that no one had started to machine quilt yet. I learned to do ceramics. Though not content with that I also learned how to pour and make molds and also moved into porcelain and to sculpting. I was not the best at sculpting, which makes me sad. But then I was closer to the top of the class then the bottom, so that's a bit of a relief. I still want to do some sculpting of faces for architectural elements. It's on a to-do list somewhere.

So when the opportunity finally came about for me to have a horse, my reaction was" I can do this". The advice was that green on green equals black and blue. I priced the been there and done that horses....even the twenty year olds were expensive. Started to look at less expensive young stock. I was given many warnings and I DO heed them daily, but I CAN DO THIS. I had, in my advanced years, become a quivering mass of fear. I STILL knew I could do it if I could just get my fear back into the box.

So here I sit with my four year old domesticated/wild horse. She has an excellent mind and I have an over developed sense of fear. In my mind I feel that the most difficult task I will ever face is the willing acceptance of the halter. It is the lifeline, the support tool for everything we will do together until we get to liberty work. The halter is the biggest trust hurdle the horse will ever go over. It is one of the biggest holes in many people's horsemanship. The halter is absolutely huge to me and last night I put it on Pip. It wasn't pretty but we did it. Once we get really comfortable with the haltering then we will be on our way! Pip and I .... we can do this!


Monday, July 19, 2010


Some people lose faith and some people keep it... go figure.

We go into a restaurant. We look at a menu and we have faith that the individual taking our order will bring us our food. They have faith that we will pay for it. Sometimes there are hiccups. Sometimes the dressing isn't on the side. Or the meat is over cooked. But we don't lose our faith. We keep going to restaurants. We keep ordering food and we keep believing that they will bring us our food. We keep the faith.

As an example, let's take a union. I know a guy that quit his union because in a contract around ten years ago, a small detail item that he was interested in got dropped. So small that I really can't remember what it was. But that was all it took for him to have a snit, lose faith, quit and go home. It didn't matter that it was a contract that had a raise and a condition improvement. It didn't matter that the good of the many was served. All it took was for him to not have the world lay down the way he thought it should and he lost faith.

The reverse side of the coin. People find out that their minister consorts with prostitutes. (You might remember. It was national news) He comes back to the congregation and has himself a good cry and everyone forgives him and he continues. As a matter of fact he also continues to see prostitutes. People didn't lose faith in him.

Now to be honest here... I DON'T GET IT!!! It seems that recently I have seen so many people lose faith over nothing. Most of the time when I ask about it, they can't even give me solid answers. They say things like.....I'm so disillusioned! I know things that you don't know. I've seen things you haven't seen. I know somebody who has heard stories. The only thing anyone cares about is money....

Maybe I'm the one that's confused. So many people tripping over pebbles and pondering over the pebble as if it is life changing. A big, friggin' boulder they could go around but this little pebble is going to alter their existence. I don't know... my instinct tells me to jap-slap them up side the head and say, "Snap out of it, Whiney-Baby!!!" I don't know... I must be different.

But until I run into a boulder that I can't handle, I'm just gonna keep the faith, Baby... keep the faith.


Saturday, July 17, 2010


I shouldn't look forward to autumn, but it's my favorite season. Perhaps it is my favorite because it isn't so damn hot!!! The heat has been somewhat crippling lately. I hate it when something slows me down. I especially hate it when it creates a weakness. The heat does that to me. On bad days it feels like it takes a fair bit of extra muscle to pull my air in. I want to pull air in. I like air.

With the better air quality, cooler temperatures and the threat of winter, I accomplish things in autumn. Well, I certainly didn't get any fence up this summer so it MUST get done this autumn. I spend hours thinking about what marvels I could create if I just had about three guys strong and true ...... with chain saws.

Autumn ISN'T here so I better go ahead and plan for today. What can I do, despite myself? Maybe clean the floor? My ass is dragging so badly that I'm leaving a little polished trail anyway. Yup, I think that's about all I've got in me today.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Today is the first day.......

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Seems to me that the first time I heard that it came from the lips of Anita Bryant. Lots of stuff came from the lips of Anita Bryant, like if God had wanted there to be homosexuals he would have created Adam and Bruce. She suddenly stopped hawking orange juice after that one. Ahh, the seventies! I had some good times in the seventies. I wasn't the only idealistic person I knew. We believed that change was possible cause we were going to do it whether the government said it was okay or not. Which meant we were watching and waiting for better solar and an electric car that was more then a wedge that only one very skinny hiney could fit into.

The war was over and the returning vets fueled the back to the land movement. Mother Earth News which started out as a bit of an underground publication was becoming a very hot mag. Mother started a bartering system that was so effective that the government found a way to tax bartered goods..... just as soon as they found out about it. Mother also put a spin on the personal ad that was a decade before it's time. The commune was reborn, though in this country we refer to them as utopian societies.

There was a big push that everyone accepted as a good thing called "zero population growth" It just made sense that there should roughly be about as many people being born as were dying. Then the powers that be figured out that we weren't breeding as many good little consumers and the idea was left by the wayside.

Women burned their bras and finally there was an aspect of the women's liberation movement that the guys could get behind. It practically turned the five o'clock news into sweeps week. The big battle was getting out of the "pink ghetto" and finding decent paying jobs. Women returned to the factory where they hadn't been seen since their post war eviction.

Unions were still in full operation. People were still around that remembered what it was like without a union. They were the only watchdog organization that used any clout to keep jobs in this country. They warned about the lose of manufacturing. Reagan said "Don't worry!" as he slit the throat of the union. The first blow coming with the air controllers strike. Under his leadership we left manufacturing or should I say manufacturing left us? We became a nation dependent on the service industry.

Somehow, in the decades since the seventies, I have watched people become weak. People were once social catalysts. our actions drove our politics, for good or bad. People built their own homes, worked on their own cars, built their own boats, put in their own gardens. Now we either aren't allowed to do those things, we don't feel we 'can' do those things or we are told it's just not fashionable.

Then a funny thing happened on my downward spiral. I read a little article about a mustang named Nevada Joe. Joe was a Bureau of Land Management mustang who was trained by a guy named Pat Parelli. I looked him up on the computer. I started to listen to what he said and it didn't just pertain to horses. He never said that an old broad with a messed up neck, a bunged up back who can't breathe shouldn't be out doing stuff. He told me I could do anything with the right tools, time and technique. He told me I could go as far as my imagination. He told me that if someone wasn't traveling in the same direction that I was, I needed to leave them behind. He told me that what other people thought of me was none of my business. It was amazing what I could accomplish once the dream killers were gone.

Pat has seen me through two bouts of leukemia and a stem cell transplant. He has seen me through the death of my dad. He has seen me through this land purchase that was so scary that I almost wet my big girl panties and he has seen me through the process of building a house. Pat and my family are the biggest motivations in my life and though they do not know it they have all taken a pretty broken up person and turned her into a warrior woman. I fight for this place, the little farm, I fight for what I believe is just and I fight for my right to do things for myself. In this little way I suppose I am trying to revive the seventies. I want to empower the people around me too.

Today, you know, the first day of the rest of my life? Well, today I'm going to go get serious about my horsemanship journey, cause I've heard that Parelli stuff works on horses, not just old broads. Besides, I promised Stacey, and I always keep my promises.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Making Plans

I am making plans. That's what I do. These plans are special to me because they aren't for me. They are for a friend. The plans are for an interestingly shaped cabin. Kind of a long narrow affair. The shape we are kind of stuck with as the trenching and septic is an improvement that she inherited with the land purchase. It has been something that proves to be an interesting exercise for the mind.

What makes it especially tantalizing is that it is for an off-grid home. So now it gets interesting. You can't just throw something in because it will work and it fits... it has to fit the situation. The home has to be built well enough that it requires less when it comes to utilities. Despite it 's smallness it needs to be even more comfortable for the times when she can't get out. I don't want her to go mad or anything. Not only will the need for energy be less but there has to be multiple systems so that if something fails, she will have another way to pick up the slack.

The more passive systems that can be incorporated the better. They just work because that is the nature of the world. For instance, windows facing the south will warm a home in the winter but not in the summer. While west facing windows will cook you in the summer and freeze you in the winter, even if they are double glazed with an argon gas. Water follows the course of least resistance. So give it a course and don't rely on pumps to keep a basement dry. It just takes more thinking before you start and you end up with better living once you are there.

I don't have absolutely exact measurements so the plan is more of a suggestion. And it is a plan that may never be built. I am encouraged though because I drew up the plans for our house. I know my ideas are correct. That's the good part. That's a muscle that has already been flexed and I am empowered by it. And the more that I am empowered then the more I can go on and do. On and on. Just imagine... we could truly change the way we live, and the world, if more of us just felt the empowerment to do so. I think everybody should draw house plans.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Unnecessary Kindness

I have never watched "A Streetcar Named Desire" but I have a depth of understanding of Blanche DuBois's famous quote, "I have often relied on the kindness of strangers". Considering that I haven't read the book or seen the film I hope that she isn't talking about sex cause that will totally ruin my comparison. Though it does remind me of something I have often thought..... How do people from the south even have sex? It's just too stinking hot and humid. Usually when it's that hot the human response is, "Don't touch me! you're sticking to me! You smell!" Now autumn! that's a different matter!

Alright, that's enough of that... back to Blanche DuBois.

There have been days when I have been surprised by the kindness of others. Especially when it isn't a part of a job description.. when it just happens, spontaneous and unnecessary. I had such a moment yesterday. It is no secret that things have been especially difficult for us lately. As a result, I lost my savvy club membership with the Parelli organization. Now, from a financial perspective, I had probably hung on to it longer then was responsible, but I really can't put into words just what it means to me. It provides the most incredibly supportive community! Support is something I have been needing a lot of lately.

Then it was gone and my answer was to just try and stay busy. But I didn't want the organization to think I was cutting them off or that this was a voluntary decision. I needed to not say good bye but rather au revoir, as they say in the movies. So I jotted an e-mail off and sent it to corporate before I could give myself time to think about it. Then the next day I received a phone call. I almost didn't answer it as I thought it was probably a bill collector. But I did answer it and it was Stacey from Parelli and she wanted to know what was going on. We talked for awhile. Then she did the most unnecessary thing. She gifted me a years membership. And the best part is.... there is a string attached. I am to update them on my progress with my horses. Considering that I live under the laws of crisis management, this is wonderful news!! I must get better to maintain my membership. I have a reason to put my horsemanship journey closer to the top of the list. I'm so excited. There's so much to do! I can't wait.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010


So today is the day. My marathon of projects is over. I need to spend the rest of today cleaning the house, sheets on the bed and general pillow fluffing type activities.

If you remember it was a gargantuan list with some difficult projects, especially the outdoor kitchen. Here are the completions from the list. I did get the trap door for the access hole to the crawl space built and installed. I did get the Dining Area countertop built, stained and polyurethaned and installed. I did get a hook board made stained, polyurethaned and installed.

The projects that are started but not finished are the arbor, which just needs the cross members evened up then painted and lights installed. The electric is already there. Reworking the upstairs bed situation didn't get very far. Though the dismantling and clearing the area to work has been accomplished. The footing for the outside fireplace is half dug, and that is the ONLY thing accomplished for the outdoor kitchen.

All in all the list is a failure but I will continue plucking away at it.... because I have to. The list tended to lead me off on tangents as well. I almost have the dirt smoothed out over where I had the footing trenches filling with water, and that was a lot of earthwork. I worked on my upstairs sink project. The hard stuff is pretty much finished on that. I've come to a stand still for want of tiles. I will have those later today. I installed a drain line on the east side of the house and it is almost covered with dirt as well. I did get the corner cabinet up in the kitchen. I have two other small cabinets ready to go up but I need to get a shelf built first. It's easier to install cabinets if you go in progression around the room, so that project also ended up on hold. I almost have two cabinets finished up in the dining area. They are a couple of screws and two coats of polyurethane away from being finished. I also have nine cabinet doors that I have been working on. They are incredible time stealers as you have to deal with both sides equally. They just need the polyurethane and they are done and can be installed. I spent most of one day mowing.

A couple of problems that I had... one was the weather. With the rain and humidity it took forever for the stain and polyurethane to dry. The other problem was the amount of time it took me to think of solutions to my problems or to motivate myself to jump in and try. Once I started to trust myself then things started to pick up speed. I also spent too much time looking for things. Mac will not be allowed to "put away" my tools until we are done with more projects. A considerable amount of time and cussing was spent in search of things I KNEW that I had but could not find. I also spent time looking for old doors. some of my projects will go up much faster if I can use old doors as the starting point. I could have recaptured my time lost if the doors had been acquired. That didn't happen.

So there we stand. I don't quite feel like a failure but I certainly don't feel like the success that I wanted to be. I'm tired but that is mostly just mental/emotional. I'm not giving up. There's a lot to do.


Monday, July 12, 2010

I can see the finish line!

My marathon project time is almost over. On Wednesday I'll post what I got done. As per usual, I am disappointed in myself. But I knew I would be going in. It is a huge list and I didn't get it done. The two tasks that meant the most to me were the outdoor kitchen and the arbor. Those are the largest and most technically difficult items on the list. That probably says something about my personality.

It always feels good to get a job done. It feels even better to get a hard job done. The house and everything has felt like a very long, hard job. It will be such a relief when it's done and I can move on.

I always have so many projects, so many thoughts fighting their way to the front of my brain. I've got so much to do. As soon as the house is finished, I have to find a way to make money. I have a farm to develop.... a very tiny farm to develop. I NEED to reach a level of excellence with my horsemanship. I have a beautiful life to construct and it is all waiting for me to finish the house first. I suppose what it boils down to is that I promised my husband a new house. This will be a promise fulfilled. When it's done, I can chase some promises that I made to myself.

There is another promise that is important to me. It's the only promise that I never kept to my daughters. I promised them a tree house. I'm running late on that one but you know what they say.... better late then never. They will be able to play in it with their own children. Because I always keep my promises.


Saturday, July 10, 2010


Yesterday was a total wash. Almost the whole day was wasted. And I found out that Mac's arrival day is a day earlier then I thought. It really puts the pressure on to make every moment count. Only four items on the ultimate to-do list have gotten crossed off.

I'm trying to not feel dismal about this. I keep telling myself that there is still hope. If I knuckle down I can still accomplish great feats. I just need a good pep talk and some tunes. I always get more done when listening to tunes.

Even though things aren't crossed off, I've done a fair amount to get things closer to completion. Some things are terribly close. I just have to think about that stuff. The good stuff. That reminds me of that kind of awful movie of Kevin Costner's. No not Waterworld, the other awful one.... The Postman. I know it's awful but I still like it. When the postman rides into town with his lies and tells everybody that there is a reorganized United States and Congress is meeting in the the stadium where the Packers used to play. And he tells the people that President Starkey has a new national motto .... "Stuff is getting better"

That will be my motto.... my mantra, at least until next Tuesday when I hit my deadline. Stuff is getting better. Stuff is getting better. I'm inching my way to my better life. I've been slowed down but I haven't been stopped. It was a bummer day. It's over. I move on.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Float like a butterfly.....

That's what Muhammed Ali used to say... "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" That's how he described his fighting style. I'm reminded of this because of Wells Fargo Financial. My youngest daughter works for that division of Wells Fargo. They are dissolving, laying off, calling it kaput. And in typical big business fashion many employees found out about their job status change from the evening news. Classy!

There is no guarantee in life that you aren't going to take some serious hits. It's the nature of the process. What you can do is decide how hard the blow is going to land. You can stand there and plant your feet and take it in the gut. If you do, you'll go down. Or you can float like a butterfly. Pretty damn hard to punch a butterfly.

The trick to being a butterfly? Lighten up. Unload the unnecessary. Maintain and even nurture what is most important. More then ever take the time to enrich yourself and those who are teamed with you. Remember there is nothing that you go through that in some way, they don't go through as well.

I remember my Dad telling me once that the greatest revenge is success. That is how you let those who threw that obstacle in the road for you know that "they" are nothing. "They" could not stop you. You were born with qualities and talents that can now be revealed because you aren't being caged by "them".

You have no idea how strong you can be!! It's times like this when you call upon the warrior woman... and some of you guys might get a kick out of that. Feel her strength. Feel her balance, her spine. Feel the swing of the blade. Feel her draw air into her lungs. Then feel how the warrior woman "floats like a butterfly".


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Half way marker

I am obviously a distance runner. I feel like I am just now getting moving on my projects and today is the half way marker. I do feel like I have accumulated some momentum. I'm picking up some speed. ( Oh God! I hope I'm picking up some speed.) Two items have been crossed off the list. I crossed them so thoroughly with a Sharpie marker that I can't tell what was written there, and I have forgotten what they were. I have fallen into the trap of having one task lead onto another tangent and I find myself working on things that aren't on the list. They are just associated with a task on the list and as you know, one thing leads to another... to another... to another ... and before you know it, you've lived in a house twenty years and you're still turning on the cold water in the upstairs bathroom with a vice grip, because you haven't had time to install that new handle you bought nineteen years ago. Now where did you put that?

Today I am hoping to finish two projects. If the humidity clears off and the stain and polyurethane can actually dry it will be a great help. I have inadvertently added staining two more upper cabinets and building a new bathroom storage unit to the list. It was an accident. But I have a strategy for coping with it. The inadvertent stuff I won't add to the list until I finish it. THEN I'll add it and immediately cross it off. It will make me feel better about myself. If I add a task to the list too soon then the volume of work just becomes overwhelming. I don't want to be overwhelmed. It makes me cuss.

I also have added a fourteen inch wide shelf that has to be built and stained etc. before I can continue in the kitchen. There is no such thing as a fourteen inch wide cabinet in the unfinished cabinet section of the home improvement stores, and I couldn't afford them even if there were. But it's a shelf.... I can manage that. It might be a good thing. That much more practice before I tackle the big building project...THE WALL OVEN CABINET!! That thing has been scaring the beejeebers out of me for a year now. It's time to face my fears. BUT FIRST, I have to make the shelf and the bathroom cabinet .... neither of which is on the list.

See how I am!! You can just bank that I'll be cussing today!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pancakes revisited

I've mentioned before that I have a great love for pancakes. It is a comfort food extraordinaire. A truly good pancake can stand alone. They're good with butter, confectioner's sugar, any number of fruits and compotes, chocolate chips, pecans or my recent discovery... Lyles's Golden Syrup!

This last weekend, my daughter took me to breakfast at a diner in Ames. They are famous for their huge, yellow pancakes. I was told how people come from all over the state to eat a pancake there. The place is fun. It's an old school diner with wood paneling and kind of a seventies rec room feel to it. The coffee cups are very large, like they should be, and have advertising on them. When our pancakes arrived they lived up to the press. They were huge. One pancake filled one of those old oval white diner plate/platter kind of dish. It was definitely yellow. The syrup on the table was real maple syrup, not the industrial corn syrup goo. I got my pancake decked out with butter and syrup and took my first bite. It was good. It was very good, but it still NEEDED the marriage of other flavors. I added more syrup. They weren't as good as my pancakes, and then I realized......


It isn't just about the ingredients. It's about the technique and the respect that you must have for what the ingredients can do. Either my taste buds are demented or I make the best dang pancakes that I have ever tasted! I've been thinking about it for three days now and I am leaning towards the best dang pancakes scenario. I'm tellin' ya'! They're a trip to heaven on gossamer wings! (I've been wanting to use that line for some time now)

You know a person should be able to do something with this kind of power. Not to worry, I only use my powers for good!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Not P.C. today

First, I'd like to apologize. I don't have any intention to offend but sometimes it is necessary to speak plainly. Sometimes in speaking plainly another might think a criticism is involved. That is not the case. I just hope this helps out EVERYBODY. Here goes....

I'd like to define renaissance woman. I mean renaissance in a classical sense, not in reference to a historical time period. I grew up like every little girl with stories of how things just work out at the last moment. The shoe fits... the prince recognizes her... yadda, yadda, yadda. Now add in a person's own spin on that fantasy. I have years of idyllic imaginings and finally, at my mature years, I have gathered enough resource material to build my imaginary world. It is a time of fruition, enlightenment and expansion of my boundaries. My life is finally being painted in rich hues and gold. (Though I would like to add a caveat here. Mice do not talk, they only crap in the silverware drawer. Okay, you can continue now. )

Now, stick with me here... have you ever noticed how the skinny little gals with the perky butts can just wear anything?! You pop them into a pair of overalls or painter pants and they just look sassy AND perky. Society just seems to think that they're just as cute as a bug's ear. I wear overalls and painter pants. I don't look cute. It doesn't help that I buy large. I buy large because I need the space for air to move and sweat to drip and sometimes I get myself in positions... well, lets just say that one day I literally had to crawl out of my clothes in the back yard. I am utilitarian. I have to be. I recently told one of my daughters that my style sense could be considered "early barn".

We're going to make another jump now. Don't worry, I'll get to my point. I used to work a cleaning job. I dressed in appropriate clothing to the job. I usually wear a work boot because women's shoes or boots rarely have any arch support. When on your feet all day on concrete, you make sure there is something under your arches. So one day while working this job, a co-worker and I were having lunch and she inquired whether or not I liked men. My response was that it all depends. I have little tolerance for idiots and assholes. That wasn't what she meant. She reiterated. Do I LIKE men? I reminded her that I was married and had three children. She told me that didn't mean anything any more. I'm not very good at social nuances but I told my co-worker that yes indeed I liked men. She replied, " Okay, that's good. Everyone will be glad to know that. You know you might try wearing some ruffles on the collar of your shirts or something so people know."

Can you even buy shirts with ruffles anymore? Do ruffles hold up to mud, manure and concrete? I don't think so. Now here is the point I have been working so hard to reach, maybe we could call it a public service announcement. I am a renaissance woman! I get dirty. I work hard and I wear the clothes that you need for the hard work. I often have hay stuck in my hair. There is often manure on my boots. Most of my clothes have paint splatters. Sometimes my glasses do too. And the important part is .... I don't care. The new rule of thumb is this... ruffles mean nothing. If a woman looks like a walking muckhole then she is a renaissance woman chasing her dream. If a woman's tee shirt is dazzling white and her jeans perfect in that James Dean fashion and her boots look like they just came out of the L.L. Bean box.. lesbian.

So, no getting that mixed up anymore, okay? Now I have to go mend a fence. Pip was out in the yard again this morning.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Yet another fortune cookie

Last night as I was getting ready to call it a day, one of my fortune cookie fortunes somehow got caught in a breeze, wafted around in front of my face and landed at my feet. I considered this a sign. The fortune cookie read, "You will obtain your goal if you maintain your course". Yeah!!! some good news!

Day one was actually just half a day, so I was disappointed in myself. But the first days project was taken as far as I could take it right now anyway. And, that was doing a bunch of earth moving by hand and trying to get an area clean flat and ready for grass seed. I won't be able to seed until fall but I know that will come up incredibly fast. It always does.

Day two was marred by the mental battle with bills. I have decided that for right now I won't be trying to do it all at one time. I'll pluck away at it in smaller, less grueling bites..... at least for right now. But I also did some important contact work on the computer, and hopefully, as of today I have met some of the right people to get some things done. While I didn't get the arbor done, I did finally commit to the design I wanted. The posts were already in. They are now painted a brilliant, happy red. I'm getting some small supports up that will help me to hang onto the first crosspieces so that, hopefully I can get those screwed in. After it is together and solid I will go back and screw in a huge bolt. Aligning holes and getting the bolt shoved in while holding a six foot long 2x6 is just a bit much for me. So, in some respects, this day was altogether exciting, horrifying and a little short of the goal.

Today is day three in the great "Can She Do It?!" marathon. Today is back to basics.... I will be digging ... again .... with a shovel. The good news is that this is the last big digging day. It is for footing prep for the outdoor fireplace, oven and grill wall. Again final design has been elusive. But I can't be indecisive anymore, especially after about ten o'clock this morning. One hole has to be three foot by six foot by four foot deep. That 's for the fireplace, though it does sound like the perfect shallow grave. I do have to say here that you should never dispose of a body in an outdoor fireplace footing. Bodies do not provide proper freeze and thaw support... your concrete will crack. The project will need to be re-done and then the jig will be up. (moving on) The next hole will be for the wood fired oven and it will be three foot by four foot and four foot deep. Last hole will be the easy one, the grill wall, a mere 2x4 and four feet deep. This is a huge task today and it will mark turning a corner in the projects department. Hard to believe. If it is possible for all to go according to plan, after today, all my digging will once again be recreational.

The last I bothered listening to the weather, it was projected that there would be rain after midnight. I hope they stick to that. Have to say that it looks like it is clouding up already ....YIKES!! I guess it doesn't matter much. I have in door projects as well. Lots and lots of indoor projects.

Oh crap! Gotta run! I forgot the weed eater is out!


Friday, July 2, 2010

On your mark!

Today is the first day of my "twelve day marathon of working until I drop and I really hope this about finishes up the house and courtyard" period. I am filled with fear and trepidation. In order to have a few breaks in the midst of this turmoil, I have plans to take a night when I am absolutely starving, to go to the chinese buffet. Mac hates the chinese buffet, so I will spare him the horrors of Mushroom and Pork and General Tso's chicken. The other break will be attending a Draft Horse and Mule Club meeting. It doesn't start until eight so I can still get my work accomplished that day.

I am geared up for my marathon but unfortunately, I have to start off with bill day. God!! I hate bill day!! I especially hate it when I start having chest pains. I have little doubt that I will die on bill paying day. So, in comparison, working until I drop has a great deal of appeal. I much rather die on my own terms rather then die because of those b*&%#@* at Clarke Electric Cooperative.

Every bill day I dream of putting up my home made wind mills. Then run so much juice back at them that I will make all our money back off the damn buggers. When did utilities become such opportunistic businesses? It isn't like we have a choice on what utility we use. They are monopolies. We are suppose to have safeguards from the abuses of monopolies, but that's a concept that seems to have fallen to the wayside. Far too many people on the "Anything for a Buck" bandwagon, as a result we are consuming the very people that make up the majority of this country's economic engine. The mortgage crisis will just look like the tip of the iceberg in comparison to what can happen as the middle class disappears. Actually, I don't think we are middle class anymore. Well, with Mac working as a teacher, I'm sure that is an economic classification that we just barely rubbed elbows with anyway. No use crying over spilt milk.

Oh well, there is nothing I can do about how much money comes in and how much needs to go out. At least, right now there isn't much I can do about it. But I can decide how hard I sand smooth, how hard I dig deep, how far do I string fence, how big will I dream. In five years the little farm will be done, the mortgage will be paid off, Mac will still be well, Pip and I will be going and riding everywhere, and people will come to see the little farm so they can take a little bit of my dream away with them. And I will tell them that their dream has to be bigger then the bastard that stands in their way. Easy-peasy.