Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Batten down

I will spend today getting ready for the rain that's coming. I need to bring in some boards so they stay dry. Finish up digging some holes and cover them. Bag up some garbage that I noticed blowing around. Then it will be time to sit still and watch. The beginnings are already here. The clouds are accumulating. Not long and stretched out, but piled high like revival time, church ladies hair. The wind is picking up. For now, it's refreshing.

Every time there is a storm rolling through, I update my wish list for my horses. I want a particular kind of run in shelter. I want a small barn. Then I watch them put their butts to the wind and hunker down their heads and wait for the storm to pass. As soon as the rain is over, they roll in the mud and I mentally add a wash rack into my imaginary barn. It will happen.... someday.

I remember one weekend, three years ago when we were digging the mud back out after a rain. Mac couldn't take the mess anymore, and he was yelling at me, "When are you going to realize that you can't do everything that you think you can? Other people don't do this! Other people hire contractors!"

There was nothing to say at the moment, but several days later, I told him that no one was going to come galloping up to give him what he thought he deserved. If we didn't TAKE our dreams, we would never have them. I was alright with failing, but I wasn't alright with not trying.

After that, Mac was exiled. He wasn't allowed back on the property until the walls were up. His next visit was after the roof was on. It was a matter of reality in increments for him. For me, this is my alternate reality. This IS the place where I can cope. This IS the place where I can make anything happen. This IS the place where I don't have to rely on some con man contractor. This is the place where I can do anything that I think of. But sometimes I have to batten down the hatches and wait for a storm to pass.


Monday, August 30, 2010

It's late

It's after nine o'clock. I thought I could be brilliant and witty earlier today, but no such luck. Today I was fixated on a goal. My hope was to finish sealing the block work outside of our house. Started out with a roller but the block is split face and has too much texture for that to work. Went and got a pressure type sprayer. I was painfully close to finishing when I ran out of sealer. so close!! Success, belief in myself, pride in a personal accomplishment, all swept away from me by a gallon of Thompson's water seal. Sometimes life is just too painful.

Tomorrow night the rain is suppose to start again. It is supposed to last three days. Then a break for a day and then another day of rain. It's one thing to have victory narrowly snatched from me, but the pummeling for days afterward is really unnecessary.

The last two days have felt hopeful. It seems that things have gotten knocked into the realm of "do-able". The last over the top tasks are fencing for the horses, and building the garage. That doesn't seem like so much, does it?

Tomorrow will be a new day. We'll see what unfolds, but right now, it's late. I'm tired. I'm going to go to bed and dream wonderful dreams. Possibly of burly men with hammers and chain saws.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Under the Surface

This morning Mac woke up feeling ill. This automatically causes a brace in me. He sat on the coach moaning. I stood in the kitchen trying really hard to quell the desire to hit him with a stick. My hunch was that it was caused by leaving the air conditioner on all night. It was head congestion and some drainage.... but you never know. So we get through the moaning, the dry heaves, and an hour with a tinge of panic. He finally listened to me and ate his breakfast. Afterwards, he said he felt much better.

He will go off to work and be surrounded by people and have his day scheduled. He will have form and substance. I will have trouble getting started. I'll think too much. I'll try to discreetly look for hints of bruising when he gets ready for bed tonight. All of the fears that are so carefully held down will bubble up to the surface. I'll be afraid of tomorrow morning. Will he feel sick tomorrow morning?

For every day that passes, we are closer to a cure for the cancer that was in his body, but somedays I wonder if there will be a cure for the effects of cancer in our minds, our well being. After the original diagnoses of leukemia, I knew we had to start the chase for our dreams. But then there are days when it becomes very apparent that there is a dark specter that is also in pursuit of us, as we whirl around in this dance for our lives.

I was lazy and didn't do the supper dishes last night. So, they are done this morning. The bed is stripped and the whites have been washed and are now in the dryer. Horses have been fed, as has the dog. Living room has had the clutter picked up. As soon as the bed is made again, I will go outside and start some projects. Something very physical. Some thing that will wear me out, so I can start the process of pushing everything back down. Pushing it all back under the surface.


Thursday, August 26, 2010


I have issues with varmints. The two worst varmints that I deal with here are mice and deer. The last few days the temperatures have dipped and we have gotten a break from the heat. It has been so nice! I have been able to get back outside and get some things done. Walked the hayfield yesterday and picked up trash that had blown in. Mended a fence. Moved the horses, as Chloe the pony had gotten bold enough to take chunks of fur out of Pip. Worked on filling in holes in the yard and filled in the last of the trench.

But the down side of a just right day is a cool night. Last night it got down to a very refreshing 52 degrees. This morning I had a mouse in the house. Apparently it was just a little too refreshing for it. The first trap of the season has been set. These are really the only things I dislike about living in the country, mice and deer.

Mice are just mini rats and deer are woods rats. Do mice have some sort of almost mystical ability to find the correct drawer to poop on your silverware? Little bastards! Silverware and the clean towels. No!! Don't poop on the dirty towel that is lying on the floor in front of the washer, ready for it's turn to be sanitized. Find the clean towels! Poop on them! Little disease mongers!

Then the deer... No! don't be content with the woods and my grass! Eat off the tops of the fifty sugar maples I planted. Eat all two hundred pines and firs! Don't worry that they would have provided you with a better home, a better environment, cleaner air. Sure the DNR said to just make a slit and pop them in... that would have been nice, but NO!!! I got the trees with the over developed root systems. I had to dig 250 friggin' holes! All I accomplished was keeping their meal fresh!

Yup, live in the country for awhile and you're cheering when Bambi's mother gets shot, and you're hoping that Cinderella's mice cut off their wee heads while sewing. Of course, she would like the mice... they are pooping on her step mothers silverware.

Okay, I am off now. I'm going to fix myself another cup of coffee and wait for the SNAP!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Next year will be better

That has almost turned into a mantra for me.... next year will be better. My life has been built on long term plans... someday when we have money. Someday when we have time. It doesn't happen. Money and time do not live in the same building. You have one or the other or neither, very rarely do you have both.

While I think it would be next to impossible for me to stop planning for way out there, far, far away, I believe it's time to have some short terms goals and plans. I need some gratification for now. I see other people do it. they say , "Oh we thought Cancun would be nice this year." and they go ! They do it!! HOW!! They can't ALL be drug dealers! Well, this is going to be something I figure out.

While I don't actually have any attachment to Cancun (They wear swimsuits there. I have no attachment to anyplace where you wear swimsuits) There are places where I DO want to go. I want to make the big trip of Ireland/Scotland and England once in my life. Kiss the blarney stone and poke a haggis with my fork. To have my friend, Dave, show me a real english pub. I want to go to Parelliland and get my mind right. To have the respite of an immersion study and to not have my brains keeping fifty different things in line. Even my goals for the little farm seem to be hanging way out there, out of reach.

But what about now? What are my goals for now? I don't know... I've got nothing. Suggestions would be welcome.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Change the World!!!

I have felt that it should be ingrained into all of us the need to change the world. Not a lot. Your name doesn't have to be in the papers, but change something! I am trying to do my bit here on the property. This is an eco-friendly piece of Iowa. Everything is done by sweat, not by chemicals. I am trying to provide habitat for birds that have been pushed out. I thought I was doing my bit.

For a long time, I have thought it would be a good thing to send seeds to Africa. I don't know why this has been on my mind, but it has for a number of years. I thought if there was a clearing house of sorts, then seeds could be given to postal carriers and when they bicycled into a village he could hand out several handfuls of seed packets. It should be accompanied by instructions for composting and seed saving techniques. It would be easy, as long as you knew who to send the seeds to. Once in Africa, they could get into a distribution pipeline. Then I remembered my husbands cousin. DUH!! He goes to Africa almost every year. They build houses, schools and buy enriched rice shipments for some villages and orphanages. He has taken seed to Africa before and he will take more if I get the seed packs to him. While we were discussing this, I mentioned that it would be good if he introduced the Lorena stove as it takes minimal wood to burn, reduces the need to burn larger amounts of wood to make charcoal and therefore reduces deforestation. He hadn't heard of it.

Now I had a project I could be really useful at. I got on my natural building forum and asked for all the info I could get on the Lorena stove. This is where I had originally heard about it, and I thought the information would come gushing forth like a fountain. It didn't. The response was silence.... until yesterday. Gergo contacted me from eastern Europe. The area where he lives is fueled by natural gas. They are running out. Some days it is there and sometimes not. They need a way to cook and if I could send the information to him, "he would be very much thankful". So I have a project, not that I needed another. But I have been given the opportunity to make the world better. How can you say "no" to that?

I will be compiling information and test building a couple of small cookers, take some pictures and get it off to Gergo. Then I'll tell him to pay it forward. I'll also tell him that he is to remind everyone that for every tree they cut down, plant two, because we all need to change the world.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Chicken days

My Grandmother referred to it as "running around like a chicken with it's head cut off". I suppose I'm a bit giddy with my freedom. I can't seem to figure out exactly what I need to be doing with myself today. I'm just bouncing back and forth between tasks like that headless chicken.

However, I remember one decapitated bird that seemed to have great purpose. I must have been three or four at the time. I know I hadn't started school yet. The majority of the family had shown up at Grandpa and Grandma's house to butcher the chickens that had been at Uncle Marvin's. My grandparents lived in a very small town in N.E. Indiana. Practically a village. At the time it supported a small cafe, a small grocery (that had penny candy and giant pretzel sticks in glass jars on the counter) and across the street resided the hardware store. It was a small enough burg that chicken mayhem in the back yard was completely acceptable.

The chickens had been delivered to their doom in the back of the pick up truck. A temporary enclosure of chicken wire had been set up and the convicted were placed inside. The garage had been built with a chopping block as a part of the structure, sticking out at just the right height. The hatchet method was adhered to in those parts. Quick and merciful. After we moved to Iowa we found that the broomstick method was held in favor. This required placing the neck of the chicken under the broomstick, standing on both sides of the broom and yanking the chicken by the legs, hence popping off the critter's wee head. For the sake of kindness, I would only recommend this method to the heavier amongst us. I once heard of a scrawny woman attempting this. It took five attempts to finally accomplish the deed. If you are going to eat them then you certainly owe them a kinder end.

But I digress. Back to Grandma's house.....

The operation proceeded like a well oiled machine When the kitchen was ready, we began. Marvin would grab the birds by the legs and carry them to Grandpa. It seemed he could do it in two simple, almost simultaneous arcs. Down went the chicken and down went the hatchet, without a chance for fuss or struggle. Then the bird was tossed to the side in it's final dance, pumping out the last of it's life blood. Most were content to simply run in circles, there by the garage. Some needed to be chased as they took on the life of a pinball machine. But one of the last chickens butchered had a plan. It had seen the flaw in the operation. Finally, it was caught. Then passed over to Grandpa. Down went the chicken. Down went the hatchet. The bird was tossed aside. It immediately sprung to it's feet and was off like a shot! Straight down the edge of the yard. Across the sidewalk. Across the street. Across the neighbor lady's yard and safely nestled under her porch. There in the darkness, owning it's own freedom, the bird died. My older brother was sent after it. I went along for moral support.... as far as I could. I wasn't allowed to cross streets yet. Back we came with the lifeless form. Off to the kitchen it went with the others.

It was over. All that was left was to clean up the aftermath. My brother and I were given a galvanized bucket and told to go pick up heads. You'd think they would have been all in one place but those seemed to jump around a bit as well. I don't remember much of anything else about that day. Mostly that we were only to go into the house to use the toilet. They didn't need kids under foot that day.

So today is a bit of a chicken day for me. Run in circles? Pinball around? or find something of purpose and head for it whether it is the right thing for today or not? Well, we'll see how it plays out. But I warrant that I am the only person around who knows why the chicken crossed the road. It went looking for it's after life, because it lost it's head in this one.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Just thinking

Yesterday's blog got me to thinking about things that happened during that day camp, many, many ......... many years ago. There is an afternoon that stands out to me. We were on the bus heading out on a field trip. There were a couple of girls that I had become friendly with. I imagine we probably made an interesting group to see. Me, fair with a reddish tint to my hair, my one friend, who was a darker black person and the third friend, who was an albino black person.

As we rode along, the darker girl pulled up her sleeves, leaned closer to the window of the bus and said she needed to get a tan. Being a kid, I said, "Do you tan?! How can you tell?"

She rolled up her sleeve and showed me her arm. "See!" Sure enough, by the time I got my nose about five inches from her arm I could see a tan line. She continued, "You have to get a tan or you'll get a sunburn." I was gobsmacked!

I told them, I sunburned all the time, but I had a fairly good tan this year. I pulled up my sleeve. She declared, "Man! You're WHITE!" I refused that statement. It was the late sixties and a neon white body was to be mocked. We all strove to be coconut oil encased bronzed goddesses. So I countered, "I'm not white. I'm more of a cream color."

"Naw, You're white."

So, then I deflected and asked the albino girl if she could get a sunburn too. We compared notes for awhile and it seems that I sunburn more easily then an albino. Well, I sunburn more easily then a black albino. ( I am still searching for a white albino, so I can feel a little superior on the sunburn front.) Though her skin could still handle the sun better then mine, it was her eyes that took a real beating. She never went anyplace with out sunglasses. I told her, "I like your color. It's pretty. If I was your color I wouldn't have to try and get a tan ever again."

I wonder what the possibility of that conversation taking place would be now. A conversation of pure inquiry, with out malice or judgement. Somehow we jump out of the place of just wanting to know things and go to the place where we demand that others acknowledge what we know. Few are as smart as they think they are. Much of that goes back to life lesson #1. Own your mistakes, see where you missed things, and fix it.

Oh, and FYI, to this day, if it comes up, I tell people that I'm not white, I'm more of a cream color.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Life Lesson #2

Like life lesson #1, lesson #2 could probably go under some sort of subheading entitled Buck Up! I call #2 "You're only a victim if you make yourself one"

Let me illustrate. This was an experience I had the summer between fifth and sixth grade. My dad was a social worker at the time. He was working a high stress, fairly crap job, of being a director at a settlement house. For those who don't have an urban background, a settlement house is a community resource that has activities, a small library, a place for kids to go to do something or simply to get off the streets for a while... a haven. This particular place was called Wilkie House.

During the course of summer, there were several day camp sessions and Dad thought I should come along with him and do the camp for a week and get out of the house. So on Monday, off I go with Dad on his way to work. On the first day, we started out in the gym getting assigned into groups and meeting our group leader/counselor. We had an unfortunate mix. Our group drew the only white face on the premises ... mine. I was okay with that. The bad part was our group also drew the only person out of the sea of 150-200 kids that had a problem with there being a white face in her territory. Let's just say that she had no problem making her presence felt. Every time she made a belligerent statement or rude comment, the other kids would just watch. It seemed that every minute of the day was filled with tension so thick you could cut it.

That night when we went home Dad asked if I had a good day. I told him it was alright.

Day two started out the same. Around the middle of the day everyone was in the gym. All the kids of the camp, standing, packed against the walls. Just my luck, I was standing next to "HER". I was leaning against the wall staring at the floor. She yelled at me,"Why you lookin' at my feet?!!" I responded that I wasn't looking at her feet. I was looking at the floor. Which was exactly what I resumed doing. Trying my damndest to make myself invisible. My bad luck was that she could still see me. She had planted herself in front of me, drew back and roundhouse slapped me across the face. It made a crack so loud that everyone heard it. You could have heard a pin drop in that gym. My first thought was that someone else would want to step up and hit me too. I stood up square and I did not cry. I welled up a little but I did not cry. John our counselor beat it over, post haste, inquired into our activities. She angrily made the accusation of looking at her feet. In case that was some kind of an offense, I said I hadn't been looking at her feet. I was staring at the floor.

Well, she had left some evidence on my face, not to mention a LOT of witnesses, so John took her out. I think everybody expected me to cry, or to run out and go look for my dad. I leaned against the wall and resumed staring at the floor. The rest of the day was spent coping with staring eyes. Other then John, no one talked to me the rest of the day.

That night when we went home Dad asked if I had a good day. I told him it was alright.

Day three was surprising. I think everyone must have thought I would tell what happened when I got home. That retribution would rain down on them. Once again, all eyes were on me during our roll call and breaking into groups. Then we all realized that nothing was going to happen to us. My antagonist didn't come back. There was no whiplash disciplinary action. We relaxed. We had fun. They tried to teach me to do a proper lay up shot and most came to a belief that white girls really can't dribble.

By the end of day three, I had learned the lesson that things can be so much better if you decide to not be a victim.

I figure if people who survive Auschwitz can choose to not be victims... if people like Christopher Reeves chooses to not be a victim, why would I? I see people rush to assume the mantle of "VICTIM". They had a bad week, a bad experience, someone was mean to them..... poor me, poor me. BULLSHIT! If I can learn and activate this lesson when I am eleven then someone in their twenties, thirties, forties...... should be able to pull up their big girl panties and create a life lesson out of their experience. And most importantly, it isn't about doing nothing... it's about doing right and being fair, and sometimes that means knowing that your own pride and ego need to be taking the back seat.

I have thought of that girl many times. I have often felt bad that I was even there, invading her territory, making her defensive. Oh well, I can only hope the story earned her a free drink somewhere a long the line.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The return of the to-do list

Today is the first day of school for Mac. It is one of three teachers only days. There will be a couple of folks in to speak to them. One is typically a "Glory Hallelujah" get them inspired type and the next will be someone who shakes the fist of doom. Usually in that order as well. God forbid they should leave feeling good. So that is the beginning of the emotional roller coaster that makes up the school year.

As for me? It marks the return of the to-do list. WOO-HOO!! While the list has occasionally been a cruel master, it beats spending the summer in the house, having Mac tell me it's too hot to do anything. Feel free to add a whiney tone to that. No rain today. The sun is shining. I have a full tank in the mower. I have barrels that are begging to be cut into compost bins. A cabinet door to be hung. Laundry! A to-do list in my left hand and an axe in my right. (okay, okay, I don't actually have an axe in my right hand. I couldn't type that way. It's a metaphor! for pete's sake However I do have an axe. All real women do.)

Oddly enough, the only task on my to-do list that bothers me is the number one spot.... do dishes. Grrrr. I hate doing dishes. Surely there is manure or something I can shovel instead. Oh well, you take the good with the bad. I'll crank up the tunes and clear out the house stuff while the dew is drying and then I'll get outdoors and kick some to-do list ass! If I am a good girl, and get my work done, I'll reward myself by going down into the brushy bits and starting a fire. I like fires. I must of had a distant relative that burnt down small thatched villages and I got the gene.

(sigh) It's good to be back at it.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010


A few years ago, I bought a hummingbird feeder at the end of season discount sale and got it for $4.98. I took it home with the absolute best intentions. I put it away and promised myself that I would have it in the yard the following spring. That didn't happen. The year after it didn't happen either. Let's just say that for a very long time it didn't happen.

This year in July, I finally put it out. I figured that the hummingbirds would have all gotten their territories set and I wouldn't attract any. But I had spent $4.98!! and if I didn't try then I might as well have flushed that money. So I moved a garden hook up by the crabapple trees hung the feeder and waited.

It didn't seem like anything changed for the first week. Then I saw it out across the drive. Just a flit of light. I had to stop and stare. Well, maybe it was a hummer. Maybe not. Then I started watching for it. My biggest proof was that the level of the sugar water had gone down.

Then the time came for me to paint the arbor red. I had hummingbirds!! They were trying to eat out of every hole and bolt end that they could find. Out of guilt for enticing them but not providing anything, I went to the store hoping to find another cheap hummingbird feeder. Apparently, that doesn't happen until November, and I'm not paying thirteen dollars for a hummingbird feeder! So I went to the pet department and got a hamster waterer for $1.96. Took off the stuff to hang it on a cage and figured out a way to hang it from a hook. Adapting the waterer involved some twine, some electrical tape, and a red straw from a convenience store soda. The red straw covered the tubing on the waterer and that was all the direction the little nippers needed.

Holy Smokes!!! the next day we had three of these diminutive samurai battling over the new and unattractive feeder. Until you are close, you don't realize how amazing they are. They flit, they whirr, they attack and sometimes they just hover next to the window and watch you, watching them. As of this morning, there are now five.

Last night we had the opportunity to choose to watch such shows as CSI or Big Brother (the elimination contest was eating until you puked) or we could watch the hummers. We turned off the TV.


P.S. I'm going to keep working on my hummingbird feeders. When I get one that I think is up to snuff, I'll post a tutorial on making it. I mean really! Thirteen dollars for a hanging jar! I get really tired of that crap!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Life Lesson #1

Own your mistakes..... they are the only things that are truly your own. I heard that I don't know how many times , especially in High School. Of course, I thought it was a total load of crap. I know some of you might get tired of me talking about Parelli but this is one of the great life lessons that really sunk in when starting their program and it has been powerful.

The way it equates for horses is that they are herd animals. They survive because they are keenly aware to what is going on and what the animal next to them is doing. When they are on a rope they are acting the way they are because of the individual that is next to them... holding the rope. It's your fault. Did a horse get too responsive to something off in the distance. Well, you haven't proven your leadership.... It's your fault. Did you cue the horse incorrectly? .... were you too forceful?....did you rush the horse? We are the ones who own the gadgets, create artificial scenarios, apply the force ... it's our fault. PERIOD!

So, I take this information and I apply it to my life. The first couple of times you have to say you were wrong can be hard. But then you start realizing the power of the thing. If you were wrong then you are also the one who can most easily fix it as well. The estimation that others hold you in changes. You become more honest and people know it. You become the can-do guy. And when someone else tries to lay a mistake at your door and you say "That one isn't mine", others know it's true. You get much more clarity and control of yourself. With time, you even make far fewer mistakes. You have learned so much more from the fixing then you would have by evading your own errors.

I know a person who can evade all blame. Nothing in their relationships with people is their fault. Nothing in relationships with horses is their fault. Nothing at their job is their fault. And they dwindle and become ineffectual in their blameless lives.

I make mistakes. I fix them. When a problem needs a new approach. I back up and try to figure it out from another angle. I learn new ways to do things. I think on my feet better. I'm more imaginative. I'm happier because I'm not living in fear that someone will find out something, somewhere is my fault. There is no dread. The perk is that I am much happier with my own mistakes then I am with someone else's. It has been a GREAT life lesson!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Random Thoughts

Lately I have had some thoughts that just keep rattling around in my brain. They're starting to pile up and I need to get rid of them as they are stopping more important, creative ideas. I'll just dump them here so they will bugger off and leave me alone. Hope you don't mind... I'm sure you will be able to move them on to somebody else in a few days.

First, my dog and I have a symbiotic relationship. I don't care if she drinks out of my toilet... She doesn't care that I pee in her water dish.

Does lose of gravity cause constipation in space?

Why do companies offer you automated, computer originated menus "to better serve you" when they know that it's just going to piss you off so much that the first thing you do when you finally get a real person is to cuss them out? I hope this isn't an indication of how effective they are in other aspects of their business.

When you consider what it takes to make coffee, that is before it gets to the coffee maker, I have to wonder how in the world did they come up with that? The roasting, I suppose isn't a big leap, but fermenting, then roasting to varying degrees and then boiling... I have to wonder. It seems to translate into a Jeff Foxworthy bit, "Hey Margie! What's this pile of stuff, bubbling in it's own putrescence? Hell!, lets cook 'er up into a delightful, hot breakfast beverage!"

I have been a dismal failure at organizing information for much of my life. I have found an answer with the roll-o-dex. It has saved me and the best part is that it spins. When you can't think... you just sit and spin.

Constancy needs to be a valued virtue again. It occurred to me when watching Pat work with a horse recently (thank God for DVDs). He was talking about what a horse expects from us. Two things and one of them was leadership and my brain lost the other thing because of this other stuff sloshing around up there. But I thought... there needs to be a third thing, constancy. When we have a week where everything goes to hell in a handcart and I just seem to make it out to feed and clean the water trough, well, you can see it very much in Pip's demeanor. She doesn't act glad to see me, even though I have food. She just turns her side to me. She won't look at me. We start over. I know constancy is something I value highly in my friends.

I want a long bow....AND THE ARROWS!

Now as a little thank you to you all for helping me out here, I will give you a little work place strategy for success. There is someone at work that you don't want in your personal space. Every office has them... it's usually the supervisor. So when this person starts approaching, start humming this song, "The Girl From Ipanema" It's the most irritating damn piece of elevator music you will ever find! You just have to familiarize yourself with the tune a little. The only line you need to know from the song is "Each time she passes, each man she passes goes, AAHHHHH" Humming this song and singing this one line is guaranteed to repel all but the most brain dead office irritants. It is totally effective by the third day of application.

Thanks one and all... my head ache has now gone away.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Inner Warrior Woman

Yesterday a friend sent me a short item from Facebook Notes called Inner Warrior Woman. I should have written it down... I believe the author's name was Cynthia Ryler The comments evoked as much thought as the original item. It has caused me to ponder just where my Warrior Woman came from. I think to some extent I chalk it up to racial memory. I don't understand all of the concept of racial memory, parts of it have been proven, but mostly I FEEL it. Sometimes it is almost like I can see the rank and file of women standing behind me. In some you see the strength of endurance. In others, the strength of battle. It's all very X-Files.

The first day I felt the Warrior Woman was the day that my first daughter was born. I think it went beyond bonding. I had always thought that I was the kind of personality that could never take a human life. But as I held this small being, something reared up in me, almost made me nauseous. It scared me because I knew that was no longer true. Then I whispered to her, "I will always keep you safe"

I didn't become a better person as the other two were born. I just discovered more dangers.

The Warrior Woman came back with greater strength when Mac was diagnosed with leukemia. I think she might have saved his life one day.

She brought not just her strength, but a design for the life that I am to be living. She drives me to be something more. To live better. To touch the soil. She found this land and brought me here and imparted the vision.

She was with me the day that my grand daughter was born. The day, where for a short while, we thought that both my daughter and the baby might die. My daughter's Warrior Woman showed up too. In surgery , when they placed Evelyn, my grand daughter in my arms, I whispered to her, "You are a Warrior Woman and you will be strong." I must admit, her strength is already becoming evident, though she seems to be a Warrior Woman who has a thing for pink fuzzy earflap hats. I don't get it, it must be some kind of an X-Files thing.


Inner Warrior Woman

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Comfort Zone

Kind of like bad attitude and body odor, everybody has got a comfort zone. My comfort zone has become the little farm. But it isn't quite the comfortable way that I want it. You see, I was very taken with some pictures I had seen of English, Irish and French countryside, and it was a bit of an epiphany for me. As if I had found something that I had known was lost. It became clear then just what my home, my comfort zone should look like. The land is well on it's way there.

There isn't much here as far as flat spots go. They are hills, undulating, like a reclining nude. The trees skirt the edges like a frame. I will add the hedgerows. They are the dark accents that draw attention to, it seems to me, the movement of the land.

Any buildings here will have to be married to the land. Long , low and earthy. There will be no metal pole buildings, no tin roofs.

Part of maintaining a comfort zone is a matter of personal space. Not everyone is invited here. Not everyone has the capacity to add to the peaceful feeling that pervades here. Maybe I just feel that way because I perceive it as *MY* land. I have fulfilled the unwritten law requirement.... I have peed in the shrubberies over a hundred times. The Queen and the land are one!

This little piece of land has done so much ... it makes me feel safe, it definitely has added to the body odor, and it has gone a long way to improve my bad attitude. Yup, it's good to be the Queen!!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How did I get here?!

I've been thinking about how events have transpired that I should find myself in the place where I am. Though going through a bad spell, this place isn't all bad. I have more good friends then the ones that try to suck the life out of me. That's a good thing. I have more opportunities ahead of me then behind. Though I feel kind of beat up, it's still better then the alternative.

There have been a couple of big turns in my life that have brought me here. One really big turn was when Dad showed up. I don't think he liked kids much at first, but I guess we kind of grew on him. We must have. He married Mom and adopted us. This gave us a new set of grandparents as well. Grandma could be cranky but Grandpa made us a part of the family in the blink of an eye. I remember one day asking Grandma about a family crest that hung on their wall. She said she had sent away for it. It was probably a scam as she was pretty sure Grandpa came from a family of horse thieves. Being a horse lover, I thought that was alright! Sometimes a person has to do what they have to do, in order to get a horse. I thought that someday, I might need to steal a horse too.

Another big turn was, of course, getting married myself. It wasn't until later that I found out what the distant McFarland family was like. It seems that over the ages the McFarland family was known for two characteristics. One was for throwing predominately female offspring and the other was for cattle rustling. My three daughters and I had a really good laugh over this. The McFarland's antics over the local cattle got so bad that a full moon was referred to as a "McFarland's Lantern". Apparently, you could bank on the fact that they would be out and about when night time visibility was at it's best. The McFarlands were known for bravery in battle but when nothing was going on, they needed to find their own excitement. Eventually the neighborhood got tired of the thrill seekers and drove them out. Some settled in towns and started pubs. The rest moved to Ireland, probably in the hope of finding new and improved breeds of cattle.

Mac denounces his need for cattle and he says he certainly doesn't want me to have one. I think that in reality, one day, I will wake up and find Mac will have stolen a cow just for me. I might name her Leona.

The majority of my friends now are my horsey friends. I've met some through a couple of driving clubs , but most through Parelli. So far I haven't heard of any horse thieves among them, but you never know. If there are, I'm sure I will meet them. I seem to be cosmically drawn to the more illegal form of animal lover. Sometimes a person just has to do what they have to do.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fences Revisited

I have too much of a driven personality to be miserable for a long time. Probably lucky with that one, as it seems that I have plenty I could allow myself to be depressed about. So yesterday in my misery and depression I started looking for fencing options. The usual was popping up.. Red Brand woven wire, electrobraid, etc. All of it, no matter how economical they declare themselves to be, are outside of my reach. Then I saw another category as an option. Living Fence. I had looked at living fences before and all I had found were huge windbreaks and companies selling blue spruces for five bucks a piece. But what the hell, I clicked. These are two of my favorites that I found.



One of the things that gives me hope is that spring isn't the time for planting willow. I still have a shot at this. Planting needs to be after the leaf has fallen and before the new bud has opened. For us that means late fall or very early spring. It means I can borrow the neighbors tiller and get my rows cleaned and made weed free and till them down so the willow rod can be shoved into the ground. It means I can weave shade shelters into the corners. It means that I can make something that is utilitarian and beautiful and free! It is manpower that I can do on my own!

I have read that a fence needs to be horse high, cow strong and pig tight. The willow can be horse high. There will be other areas that need to be cow strong. If this experiment works then the next tree I try will be hedge. In other areas, hedge means a bit of clipped box. But here in rural Iowa hedge is an incredibly tough tree also known as an Osage Orange. A hedge post stuck in the ground can last fifty years. I will try the other method of planting them side by side, weaving them together and letting them graft to each other. That was the method promoted by the government back in the WPA years when the hedge and the hemp were planted all over this area. From now on I will think of it as "Farmer Bonsai".

I know I will still need some standard fencing, especially areas where guest horses will be staying, but this will free me up to take down some fence that I already have and re use the components. This gives me a chance to keep going. This puts me back on track for chasing my dream. I'm back in the running.


Monday, August 9, 2010


I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about fences. Fences take up so much in the line of resources, labor and money. So much of what I want to do is dependent on fences. I was recently visiting with someone about horsemanship. they wanted to know where I was working with my horse, Pip. I told them I was working with her in one of the smaller lots. It measure about 120 ft. square. "There's your problem!" , he said, "What you want for starting is a forty foot round pen." Well of course I want a forty foot round pen!! I also want a fifty-five foot round pen and a seventy foot round pen. I want those three round pens in a pasture with a small pound and a bunch of logs to jump over and some tire pedestals. I want some tractor tires set up as a permanent squeeze obstacle. I want to have a tether ball set in each pasture so a horse can play even if I'm not around. Go ahead and laugh but I have theories about how this might affect the well being of a horse. I'll update you when I do this.... but first there are fences to be concerned with.

I think I have beat this topic up until there is no other way to attack it. Of the things that you need for fencing... resources, labor and money. I figure to accomplish this task, I will need two of any of the things. I maybe, kind of have one... resources. But I can't find the labor to cut down my resources and I don't have the money to pay them anyway. My frustration grows. I'm getting really tired of being the only person here trying to make things happen. Tired of being broke. Tired of what money we do have going to trips to the Dr. Tired of bill collectors. Tired of not seeing any thing improving. I have flashes of rage when I see other people hire excavating equipment to do a job that takes me weeks and they have it done in thirty minutes.

Today I really feel like my sense of humor and my imagination are letting me down. Something has to get better today. I don't know how but something has to get better today.


Friday, August 6, 2010


When I was a kid we had a board game called Aggravation. It was something of a rip off of Parchessi. You started out with your four marbles in the start row. You could get a marble out and start it around the board when you rolled a six. If another player landed on you, then you started over. The goal was to get all four of your marbles around the board and into "home".

My mom was a cut throat game player. She said things like, " it would build character." Mostly, it just built someone who hates games. I remember the delight on her face as she would land on my marble and I would have to start it over again. If I would get upset, she would just say, "THAT'S the point of the game."

Well, I don't know if it built any character, but I do know how to start over... and start over.... and start over. So as Mac makes preparations to begin a new school year, I will make a fresh start here on the little farm. I will have some time to myself. Time for clarity of thought and purpose. Time with the horses. Time to fill in that big hole in the road.

We begin again. Today will be cleaning out the water trough. Mending a fence and some undemanding time. Referred to as UDT, undemanding time is time just hanging with your horse. It makes for a calm horse, but not everybody seems to be able to do it. Some people just get downright twitchy. Then it doesn't make for a calm horse.

Personally, I really like undemanding time. I relax. Pip tries to figure out my boots. Sometimes she just closes her eyes and goes to sleep. The best part might be that she never once wanted me to play a board game with her. For that, I will always be grateful.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Big hat women

I pay attention to what horse women wear. I can't help it. Some of that stuff just grabs my attention. A couple of years ago there was the slinky line of neck wear for horses and there came out a matching clothes line for the rider... also slinky. Almost lewd. Those barrel racing girls!

Then some of the more traditional garb seems to go with reining and western pleasure. It's still very Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Things are all sparkly and shirts have contrasting yokes that seem to match the horses gear. It's all very up town.

I've noticed that the Parelli gang have their own way of dressing. Basic. Dressed down but clean lines. Jeans, but never jeans so worn out that stuff is showing through (those barrel racing girls!!!) and they always wear a button up shirt. Chaps seem to be optional. I should mention here that chaps are known to myself and my friends as sex pants. Thats because of their appearance when you don't wear anything under them. (those Village People!!! They certainly made an impression on me!) The best part of the gear for gals , at least for me, is the hat.

Apparently gals arrive at Parelli land with their favorite head gear, whether visors or baseball caps or tattered straw cowboy hats, but as they go through the program, I've noticed that their hats get bigger. By the time they finish the intern program, these gals have got some big hats!! So, kind of in the back of my mind, I have the goal of being a big hat woman. I've picked one out. It's the biggest ol' hat I can find. If my horse doesn't spook at that hat, it won't spook at anything! It's a BIG hat!

I figure that by next summer I'll be in a medium hat. By the summer after, I'll be wearing my BIG hat! My big hat from SunBody hats in Houston Texas. They have a web site and just find the biggest hat there.... that's the one! Once I get myself a big hat, well, then I'm going to work on getting some sex pants.

It's good to have goals!


P.S. this one is for Kerrin and Stacey!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Moving Forward

I'm stuck! I'm beyond stuck. I'm like friggin', friggin' stuck! I need to come up with something to get me moving forward again. I know it is caused by just having too much of the unhappy stuff to deal with right now. Paying bills, calling lawyers, dealing with realtors and bankers. It is just too much.

I have heard it called "running through the brambles". The dilemma is... do you just go fast and get all cut up but make it through quickly or do you work your way through carefully, trying to minimize the damage. So far I have been trying to proceed with care. However, I think it might be time for a sprint. I have to move forward or we are going to suffocate in this mire.

It's hard. I really don't even want to look at these problems let alone pick them up and deal with them. But they are accumulating so if I don't take care of them then I won't ever be able to move forward. They are keeping me from building my life. So today will be the day that I run through the brambles. When I am done, I will go to town and buy myself some ice cream and an iTunes card. I will have earned it.

Then tomorrow I will reward myself by thinking about the best possible way to build gates! I love gates! Then I will walk to the back of the property and watch the grass wave in the breeze. I'll have my visions of what is going to come next. Visions of my fences and my arena and friends and their horses on my little farm, playing games and laughing. Then I will know that it was worth all of the brambles that I ever had to face.

All I have to do today is to move forward.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Outside World

I have been trying desperately hard to build our own little place here. A retreat from many of the difficulties of life. On the whole it has worked very well. However lately the other world has been leaking in. I suppose I should call it the real world but somehow it isn't so real to me. That reality and my own just don't place nicely together. That reality is a bully.... a big, stupid, lumbering oaf of a bully.

There is only one way to take care of a bully. You have to get all of your friends together and snatch that bully and teach him a lesson! Of course, by teach him a lesson I mean to beat the crap out of him.

How does a person beat the crap out of society's reality? I don't have an answer for that. When you watch the outside masses, lock stepping and fearing change, how can you stop that? I can barely stand to look at it.

When things get too tough, I usually go find my copy of "The Man Who Planted Trees". Then I immerse myself. It reminds me that one person can change the world. One person can have a vision and create it. The story reminds me that I just need to continue, no matter what is going on around me.

So I will keep at it. I will continue working on my own reality. Mine is much more fun anyway. That bully is going to be so sorry that it couldn't play nice!!


Monday, August 2, 2010


I have known for some time now that my mom is a little bit nuts. A little bit nuts you can deal with. With age, affliction and the general inability to stay upright, the nuts wears on you more.

I have to admire the precise crazy person. Find your crazy story and stick to it. Tell everybody the exact same crazy story. Then at least people can enjoy you. There is something about folks who think they are aliens, or Teddy Roosevelt or who can see giant pookas that draw the sane in. They are endearing and almost hopeful to be around. They create their own reality and they are capable of functioning in their world.

My family? Hell no! We can't be fun crazy. We have to be manipulative crazy. There has to be DRAMA!! I feel like I am the Joe Friday of the family...."Just the facts, Ma'am" I was pretty much disowned by one branch of the family as I cannot seem to play the game. Let me tell you, being disowned is not what it's cracked up to be..... IT'S BETTER!!

I can look at my life and very definitely say that it has enough bumpy spots. Does anybody really feel that they need to manufacture more?! That's just lunacy! Oh yeah that's right! I'M DEALING WITH CRAZY PEOPLE HERE!!

I'm going to just figure that the crazy gene will really kick in at some time. So I want to shape that alter reality now. I don't want to be horrible and have people afraid to visit me or compare stories behind my back. I want to be FUN crazy! I want to spend my senility in tree houses. Playing with my horses and pretending to be a pioneer. When I die I want to have my grand children and great grand children to hang out and tell fun, happy stories. When they shed a tear I want them to say, "We're really going to miss Grandma Warrior Woman" and with any great luck, they will mean it.