Monday, April 30, 2012

A Thinking Day

Things have fallen into place so that this will be a day where I have a great deal to do. It is a Monday. Laundry day. And the house always seems worse for wear on a Monday so it is a cleaning day as well. The kitchen is kind of frightening. It's also bill day. My once a month day where I pace, write checks, make the grocery list, go to town, panic a little, balance the panic with rage. Ultimately, I finish by fantasizing about how things could possibly work out. Things could, possibly, maybe work out. We hang our hopes on happily ever after and if that doesn't work, we turn to escapist literature or really bad television. I have a lotto ticket to check, so hope still exists. But I feel better when I have a plan. Something a bit more concrete. Today, in between pacing and putting clothes in the washer, I have been thinking. And I think I have a plan.... I tend to imagine worst case scenarios in my plans and then work up from there. So, worst case scenario, Mac has his life insurance. He has his IPERS. But, he never set up his IPERS account so I would have an income if he should pass away. It has been set up as a one time pay out. To be paid equally between me and the girls. By the time I pay the debt off there might be enough to pay off half the mortgage. If I change to heating the house by burning wood and if I have the mortgage completely paid off... I think I can stay here. Staying here is paramount. If I go elsewhere to keep my lifestyle, I will lose access to my family, especially my grandkids. If I have to move int o the basement of one of the kids' then I lose my lifestyle. I'm not ready for that. I CAN'T give into that. So, the big plan is to ask Ellen Degeneres for help. Perhaps it is ridiculous to think that a television personality would help, but who else would have the resources? I think she is more then likely my only hope. And I have to place my hope somewhere? I seem to only be able to accomplish things when I am buoyed by hope. So this is my plan... this is my hope. Mac has been on a large dose of prednisone for a month now. He goes back to the oncologist soon. The graft vs. host is improved, but he has been having nose bleeds now. I stopped his aspirin regimen that was prescribed after the heart attack. That seemed to make things better, but he had another nose bleed this morning. The prednisone makes Mac depressed, irritable and always, always hungry. A person could get worn down if they thought about it too much. It's better to think about a plan. The plan is a diversion to thinking about the need for the plan. Today, on this thinking kind of day, the only plan I can come up with is to put my hope in Ellen Degeneres. Louie

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Day Out

I have been needing to give myself a guilty pleasure. Something that's just pure enjoyment. Gas prices have gone up enough that I stay at home. I think about going places but I don't. Gas is for going to town to do what must be done. So, my guilty pleasure was to have a short drive. The goal was to find my lillies or iris or lilacs, whatever. The plants a justification for the expenditure in gas. The day was beautiful. Not too hot, not too cold, not too windy. I had gone for drives around the area with my neighbor and his wife. I've learned a few of the back roads, but not many. Part of the issue with learning my way around is that the roads immediately west of our home seem to be defined by hills and the river. Very little of it follows a grid pattern. The roads wind. In places there is more up, down and around then straight. I set out on my adventure with the intention of getting lost, learning a bit of geography and bringing home some plants. Things have changed a bit since I last got to explore. Some land has changed hands. Lots more 'no trespassing' signs. Big deer fences around some property. The wealthy have invaded our little back woods. Many of the properties are marked that they have aerial surveillance. So, when I found a lilac bush to dig starts from, I called my neighbor Bob. Bob spends a lot of his time in his dump truck hauling gravel. But he knows everybody and he is the go to guy for information. I described the piece of land I was on and gave the number that was out on the post by the drive. It wasn't his property and I couldn't get permission to dig. He also advised that I pay attention as there were a number of guys in the area that were "particular" about their land. With regret I passed on the lilac. The day was so fine though it was hard to feel bad about anything. I continued to cruise around. I found quite a few places with ditch lillies but the plants were up close to the to the warning signs. So, I passed on those. Finally I found the perfect spot. The old house was gone. The drive still there and not even a livestock gate. The lillies were right next to the road, some growing right out into the gravel. I got out my shovel and pulled a plastic tub out of the truck and started to dig lillies. I knocked off the excess dirt and tried to heal the spot that I took the lillies from. I'd take a clump, then move to another spot. I filled three tubs with lillies. Unless you looked very closely you would never have known that I was there. I drove for another fifteen minutes before I found the cat tails. There were many places with cat tails in standing water, but I wasn't dressed for wading. I finally found the right spot. No obvious water. The cat tails interspersed with a good deal of grass. I got two clumps and headed home. I turned south in what I hoped was a loop around to my road and there in the middle of the road was a badger. At first, I thought it had caught a rabbit. I slowed to give it time to get off the road. It did not act aggressive, which I expected if it had a kill. It just got frantic about getting it's bundle off the road. I think it was moving it's baby to a new lair. I stopped and watched it move off down into the ditch. It must have been the day for babies being out. Around the curve was a sandpiper zooming at the road. It flew up about ten feet, curved round and zoomed the road again. I watched as I continued on my way, but you don't really slow down for birds. That is until you see the hatchling on the road. Running back and forth, not quite sure where he is suppose to be headed. I didn't see the little ball of fluff until the last minute. I slowed and swerved. I checked my rear view mirror and the ball was still running amok and the mama was still trying to do aerial herding as I went on my way. Time to go home. I got the lillies planted. They now encircle the LP tank. Hopefully they will fill in and make the tank a little less ugly and they will take away the need to do any trim mowing. Some of the lillies also made it down to the wetland banks. And the cat tails went inside the wetland. The goal for them is to help with waste water purification. I will try to get more. Some iris might do well there too. At end of the day, I realized I had gotten something done. I almost never feel like I've gotten something done. It's more like I tried.... or I got a little of something accomplished... I got the preliminary work done... but never DONE! I was so tired, but it was so nice. Maybe I could get something else done today...maybe. We'll see. Louie

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Clear Mind

There is nothing like mowing to clear the mind. To see what has been accomplished. It is like putting the polish on the little farm. It seems so neat and clean after mowing. I'll try to get some grass raked today and haul it back to the horses. It would be a good day for hauling things to other places. I should load up the barrels and take them to the round pen. Load up some cut posts and haul them to where they will be used. Load up horse poop and take it out to the hay field. I also need to dig the ash out of the burn barrel and spread that on the hay field as well. Oh crap! that sounds like work. The problem with having your mind cleared is that it fills back up with so many other things. More chores for instance. My mind also seems to fill up with speculation. eHarmony dating site has finally stopped sending me introductory offers. has started. It makes me wonder. Do they know something I don't? Why should I meet their men anyway? I have been married for thirty-four years and I am in awe of people who can succeed at dating. I sucked at it when I was younger, back when it was suppose to be easier. I daresay I would be even suckier now. For this reason, well, for others as well, Mac has to die after me. I have no doubt that he will be re-married in six months. That, or he will starve and have no clean underwear. The mind continues to turn....I was thinking while mowing, that if Jesus Christ picked his nose and ate his boogers, then he would not be the messiah. After all, it strikes at the very core of our's un-natural! There is all that devision between christian and jews on whether J.C. stepped from prophet to messiah or if it was so much wishful thinking. If there was any historical evidence about the nose picking and you know, the rest, well that would answer it. Cause if he picked his nose and ate his boogers, then the church would reject him... shake their fists... and say in growly voices, "NO, no he is not the messiah, He picks his nose and eats his boogers and that is a spiritual affront to me!" Then we would have to find other things to fight about... which we would. In town, people go dumpster diving. They find "treasure' that other people threw away and try to remake the item, re-purpose them, re-use them. I can't do that. There is no dumpster close to me. But I think I would like to get out and go ditch digging. All over the area, there are places where people used to live. The farm would get purchased by a bigger farmer. Fences torn out to make bigger fields. The house falls in eventually or is pushed down. What is left is a little area that looks like it should have a house and the ditch and drive are lined with flowers and shrubs gone native. They are old timey flowers. Iris and lillies, sometimes I find a lilac. I planted three small iris beds last spring from rhizomes I dug out of a ditch. They are looking beautiful this year. I especially want to find a few lilacs this year. I want to start a lilac hedge around the garden. The deer have pretty much left the lilacs alone so it seems like a good choice. I also am needing a BUNCH of ditch lillies. I want to plant them down around the septic wetlands and around the LP tank. Part of the little farm beautification project. I wonder if those guys on the dating sites can't get women in real life cause they pick their noses.... I need a little cart to pull crap around with. No really... crap. That would be the easiest way to get manure from here to there. I need to burn some more brush. I wonder if we have any marshmallows? I need to clean the front yard so I can take some new pictures. Just because I have a clear mind doesn't mean it isn't freakishly busy. Louie

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Right Tool For the Job

Last fall I did a stupid thing. I didn't mean too. I tried to avoid it. I was doing pasture stuff. Cleaning up, working on fence and mowing the fence line so I wouldn't get covered in ticks and to protect the electric fence from tall weeds that could short it out. There was an area where I had been stacking my old wire. It was rolled into balls like yarn. When it came time to mow that section, I walked the area. Walked it again. Raked over it with the shovel listening for the metallic "ting" sound that would tell me that I had hit a ball of wire. I walked it again. By this time I considered myself safe to mow that section. So, I mowed. All was well. Then I decided that I needed to get a little closer to the one post. A whirring noise. CHUNK!! The engine died, "Dammit anyway!!!!" The rest of the fall, I planned on getting the mower up on a ramp and cutting the wire out. It did not happen. The mower sat there until spring. It would not start. Mac jumped it and we got it driven up by the house where it was a little easier to work on it. We lifted the front end but there was no way I could get under there and get the wire out. Plus I was worried about injury if the blade would recoil when the wire was free. Then the other night we made the decision to pull the mowing housing out from under the mower. The next day I flipped it over and started removing the wire. It could have been worse. Nothing was bent or broken and it took about a half an hour to get the wire off. Then I decided to try sharpening the blades. I did okay. I will do better next time. They could certainly be sharper. Last night we flipped the housing back over and got it back onto the mower. The battery was dead again. It was again jumped and the tires aired up and Mac did a little mowing. Not a lot. Enough, hopefully, to charge up the battery and enough that he managed to cut off one of my young crabapple trees. There is something meditative about mowing... it makes him completely unaware of his surroundings. He gets stupid. Today's goal is to get the green slime stuff into the mower tires so they will hold air. I'll try to get the tires fixed today and get the mowing done. Then I want to get the INCREDIBLY tall grass raked up and served to the horses. It will help make the pasture last longer. All of the rakes, well, all except the kids' rakes, have broken handles. It would be nice to have a rake with a handle longer then a foot and a half that doesn't end in a broken shard of wood. I think I will have to go to town and find a rake. It will have to do. Of course, the right tool for the job would be a lawn sweeper that I could pull behind a lawn tractor, the mower, or an ATV. We also need a dethatcher tool that is also a pull behind..... and an aerator. Grass handling tools are some of our most important tools right now and what do I have? I have a mower with flat tires and a broken rake. Oh well, we will hope that once the chickens get old enough to be out that they will go into a chicken tractor and take care of this problem. Hopefully, chickens won't get flats. Hopefully, chickens will be the right tool for the job. Louie

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Panic Attacks

I don't know... maybe panic attack is too strong of a statement. Maybe anxiety attacks would be better. But whatever it is, the waking up at night, the acid reflux, the cramp in my chest, has been a bit much. It only happens when I worry about money. So, yesterday, I vented to a couple of people. Had my burst of rage, so now it is time to figure it out. I keep coming up with ideas to make money that require some degree of creativity. But it is almost impossible for me to be creative when I have this much stress. I need widgets! Some thoughtless process where I can count out five, put them in a bag and toss them in the mail. I have no idea what could possibly be my widget. I know that I keep visiting the idea of making money and then walking away a failure. Failure can be very tiring..... and make your chest hurt. Sometime later, I can get creative again, but for now..... I've decided that perhaps I should work myself up to a frenzy today. I have good weather. God knows, I have enough work. I need to start with the mower. I got some wire tangled around the blades and it is going no where until it is cleaned out and hopefully, the blades sharpened up a bit. The garden needs some finishing touches. I also need to consider some fencing. I saw some raccoon poop out there the other day and I don't need a marauder so early in the season. I will need some sort of garden fence. That reminds me... the post hole digger needs sharpened. There are some plants that need to be set out and I think they can handle the weather now. The yard needs cleaned up so badly. I cringe at the thought. Then, when all of this is done, I will hopefully have an idea for a widget. I will be lying prostate in the grass..... probably covered in ticks, exhausted, the clouds will part. There will be a stream of heavenly light and the angelic chorus will strike up a beat..... Ahhhh-men. And through the process of divine intervention, I will have an idea for a widget. Well, you just can't beat heavenly inspiration for getting you a real cracker jack idea for making some filthy lucre. Maybe, I 'll just buy a lottery ticket again. That's especially filthy lucre. I need to go spend some time with the horses today. They will cheer me up, but more importantly, they will relax me. The grandsons were here this last weekend. They cheer me up also. They don't always relax me. They do crack me up. Edgar, of course, is proficient at the potty training phase of his life. His timing is not always perfect though. The last time he was here, we had made it down the hill and we were into the woods when he announced that he had to pee. I wasn't keen on walking back up the hill to have him use the toilet just to turn around and walk back down the hill. I tried to convince him that peeing on a tree was the thing to do. He had a rather dubious expression when I told him all the guys do it. When I unzipped his pants he had a look on his face that made me feel like a pedophile. I gave up. I asked him, "Do you REALLY want to go back to the house and use the toilet?" He nodded sadly , so up the hill we went. But this last weekend, we were again out in the trees and doing some brush burning and he yelled at me, "Hey, Grandma!" I answered, "Hey, What?" Back at me, "I have to go pee on that tree!" "Which tree?" "That one!" "The one by the white rock?" "Yes!" "Okey dokey" So Edgar went and peed on the tree. I continued to watch the fire. When I turned around to check on him he was standing facing the small crabapple tree with his jeans around his ankles and a brisk wind to his back. His little butt cheeks ruddy in the wind. His dad will have to teach him to have a little discretion. I have already learned that grandmas cannot teach the fine art of peeing on trees. But that is the thought I will hold in my mind, the next time I have a panic attack. Edgar standing in front of the tree, enjoying nature. Perhaps it will inspire some idea for a widget, considering the angelic chorus hasn't shown up yet. So, I will soon be out and working, armed with my sick sense of humor and possibly a small bag to breath into. Louie

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Mustang in my Heartstrings

There was a book that I read when I was in fifth grade, called "Smokey, the Cow Horse". A story of a range bred horse. Sort of the american west's answer to "Black Beauty". I still remember one line. I'm sure this isn't exact, but it went something like this..."the little grey horse had gotten tangled up in the cowboy's heartstrings." For me, it is a poignant line, resolute piece of my own truth. Horses get tangled up in my heartstrings. It happened again last Friday. This was the day that I went to the Bureau of Land Management mustang adoption. I had heard it referred to as an auction and that is what I expected. When I arrived there was no one there but the staff and the horses. This kind of gave me an "Oh Crap!" feeling. Horses are only offered so long and when they have been passed up so many times they are considered three strikes horses. While no one says absolutely what happens at this point, it is rumored that they become dog food. Having a crowd looking them over, and then hopefully adopting, would have eased my mind considerably. I walked around the animals penned there. Two, three year olds that could be adopted for $25. The remainder of the mustangs were two year olds and yearlings. There were also about ten burros being offered, some gelded, some intact jacks. There I was, just the second car in the lot, a few staffers and a bunch of equines. After my second lap around, I stopped one of the staff and asked how the auction worked. First I was corrected, it wasn't an auction. It was an adoption. Day one was the viewing. Day two, you came with your paperwork and you line up. It would be first come, first served. You had your money or check and approved paperwork. You walked through and picked your horse or burro. They would then be separated and loaded. Then the next person had their chance. So on, until they ran out of horses or adopters. If a lot of horses are adopted in that location they will come back. If not, they won't. This is a bit of a catch 22 as they do no advertising. They do not try to get local volunteers to do any legwork or stimulate any interest. Many times, no one even knows the BLM were there with horses and then they scratch their heads and wonder why the adoption numbers are low. It isn't like it needs to cost them money. All they have to do is ask for help. There are people like me that are wanting, waiting to help. Despite this perplexing situation, the staff were helpful. They answered more questions in a few minutes and I received more information, then I had been able to get from website or through inquiries at the national level for over a six month period of time.... well, actually ever! While talking to the BLM personnel, my friend Jackie arrived. We walked, we talked, she yelled at her nephew. We nearly froze our butts off with the wind whipping through the arena. Then Jackie's friend arrived. We were now three. She wondered why she hadn't heard that this event was going on. Jackie, who lived close to town, said she wouldn't have known about it except for talking to me. Her friend then said, "Lets see what we can do about this." She walked away with her cell phone. When she came back she said she had called a friend at the local radio station and he was on air. He was going to put out a plug for the event. About twenty minutes later, cars started to arrive. In the meantime, we just kept walking. Looking at horses, noting behavior. Leaning on fences to see if any would come up to investigate. Watching expression. It had been a long drive. I was so cold and I stood by one pen and yawned. Then yawned again. The entire pen took notice. Then one of them laid down. The next time I walked by more were down and the next pen was laying down as well. Yawning it seems, is the body language equivalent of, "I'm content, I'm tired, I'm not going to eat you now, We're cool" I must have walked that lap around the pens about fifty times. By the time I had done five laps, I was taken by three different horses. 6921, 6943 and 809. Something about those three. Something about their character that made me think they would mesh well with my own personality. Something about the look in the eye. It was heart wrenching. There seemed to be an infinite well of sadness in those dark eyes. Those three mustangs definitely got tangled up in my heartstrings. While going to be with them left me feeling a bit like I had been touched by the divine, I had no way to offer them a haven. I was helpless to save them. And I know that they are lost to me now. Gone forever. I'm going to see what I can do to change some things. Thinking about what I can do to help. I have been thinking about volunteering in some way. I've been thinking about how to improve fencing. I've been thinking about the adoption application that is in my purse. Can't help myself, now that I'm having trouble with my heartstrings. Louie

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mornings and Other Pleasures

I didn't follow my normal routine this morning. I usually get up and make coffee. Make the bed. Then do the steps necessary to get Mac off to work. Sometimes I sit down and write first or make my list of things that have to be done that day. That usually gives me some clarity of thought and by then, it has usually warmed up enough to be comfortable to work outside.

Today I chucked the routine. After getting Mac off to work I headed outdoors. There was a bank of dark clouds off to the northwest. But it was dry so far, so it was time to try to work quickly and see how things would unfold. I grabbed my short shovel and the last of my blue spruces and headed towards the back of the property. I measured off the distance between trees, which is six shovel lengths, and got the little darlings in the ground. Then back up to the back yard. I grabbed the rake. Actually, it is Edgar and Evelyn's kid sized rake. My rakes have all, for some reason, gotten broken handles, so it is the kids rakes or nothing. Thank goodness that True Temper puts out a child's tool that can actually be used for work. I soon had the old top soil pile raked out smooth. Then raked out a section of the garden that I had already gotten turned over and supplemented with cow manure. Then quickly got my "Early Girl" variety of tomato planted and covered with milk jugs. Then grabbed the single plant of lavender and took it to the front yard garden. I had two lavender plants already and they had wintered over very well, but there is a feng shui idea that for luck, things should not be in even numbers. As I am in dire need of luck, I planted the single in with the other two and gave myself a lucky number three.

Then it was time to go in and have some breakfast... and brush my hair and teeth. This is the good news of living in the country. No one knows that I am running amok and unkempt, exposed to the world. I did so well that I rewarded myself with pancakes for breakfast. I also allowed myself a bit of fantasy. I live with in my head so much, that I tend to see what will be, instead of what is... here, now, right in front of me. Recently, I had been cutting myself off from those thoughts, trying to be a realist, and not realizing just how much those happy thoughts were actually sustaining me.

I sat down , curled up with my old quilt, my coffee and my pancakes and I thought about coming up the hill. The arbor, new and improved. Bright flowers undulating around the courtyard. The crabapple trees mature and flowering with pink blossoms departing in the wind. The woods all clean with understory trees planted. Woodland plants and the smell of fresh mulch. Paths leading down to the ravine bottom. Flowers tucked in everywhere. Some growing out of dead stumps, some in giant pots. It's all so pretty! And it makes me feel so good about myself.

I have done a lot... it is getting better. I just have to stop once in awhile and look back, and see just far I have traveled. I DO make things better everyday. I just don't always feel like it. Sometimes I s'pose you just have to step outside your routine and see how you feel. So, I am finishing up my pancakes and watching the rain drip off the eaves and I am feeling pretty good.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Day of Earth

Every once in a while you have an opportunity to use a labor saving device. For most women, it is a hand mixer, a washing machine, but for me it was the neighbor coming down with his tractor. He had a few minutes last evening and would I like that top soil pile moved? He also brought the neighborly gift of a big scoop of composted cow manure. A gift as kind and thoughtful as a home baked loaf of bread or preserves. It will be very useful.

Now that the soil is loose, I will take some of it and fill in depressions and tire tracks. Rake it out and wish that I had grass seed. Then I will shape the garden beds. It is creatively terraced. Last spring I cut chunks of sod to frame the beds and though they have slumped a bit, they are still holding up. Now with this additional dirt I will want to start working on something a bit more substantial.

The top soil pile that got moved was bigger then I realized and my garden not only got built up but has been increased by at least a third. It would have taken me at least a week to move all of that dirt, especially with my wheelbarrows with the perpetually flat tires or with Edgar's little red wagon or even on occasion, with five gallon buckets. Even with the help, today will be a day of earth. I will have to go assess what areas are the worst and start there. Then I will measure out where my edges are and cut them even and tidy. When everything seems about right, I'll plant my onion starts. As I have managed to collect four milk jugs, I will be able to plant four tomatoes. With luck, I will get carried away and plant my beets. I think lettuces should go in as well. I can't get ahead of myself by too much though. First there is still a great deal of earth to move. It has been made easier, but it hasn't been finished.

Before I get too carried away, I need to remember to plant my five blue spruces. They will do better if I get them into the ground while the temperatures are still cool. I might as well plant the rosemary and the lavender as well, as they will go into the front beds under the living room window with the protected southern exposure.

It is so easy to do all of this planning in my head. All of this making lists. I spend a lot of time seeing the little farm in my head... all finished and beautiful. And it gets done so quickly too, all of those chores in my head. We will see what I can really accomplish today. In real time. With real sweat. Now that I have been given a bit of help from my neighbor with his labor saving device. Let's just hope that all of my inspiration turns into reality.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Tax Return

The tax return came last week. With it came a deep sense of relief. Then I started to do farm math. I was tallying up every wish and desire. I made more phone calls to get insurance quotes. The last phone call I made took place while I was in town and it became unbearable. I ended up pulling the truck over and pacing in a deserted parking lot while talking to the insurance agent. It was a bit of a negotiation. Luckily, I had been doing my research and making calls. I could talk to my agent with more knowledge. I could tell her what other companies were charging. We talked about different options and we got it to a place where I could write a check and get what I needed.

I feel very blessed that the return was for about fifteen hundred. I know I will have to write a check to my mom for five hundred of it. The insurance cost another $624. Then I got a bit frivolous, I suppose. I spent around twenty bucks on feed and ordered my chicks. I bought wire to build a chicken tractor with and some taller horse wire for my emergency "gates" in the round pen. That came to eighty dollars. Then I spent another $38. on five small blue spruces to add to the wind break. Every spring a few more are added.

And then I had a small panic attack.

I'm not used to spending money. The original relief of having insurance and paying bills turned into horrible guilt and remorse and fear. To some extent I even felt like I was cheating on my husband. *I* was spending money not *him*. What the hell did I think I was doing?!! It wasn't fun and I didn't like it. They say you have to spend money to make money. I don't know if I can. It just really hurts too, too much. I look at the life I want and some of it will take money... how can I bring myself to do that? How will I pay the property taxes next time they are due? How will I pay the insurance? How will I buy grass seed? How will I make the little farm, a little profitable? What next?

I suppose the smart thing would be to go plant my spruces and see if a brilliant idea comes to me. I will see if my land will inspire me in how I should take care of it. It has been pretty smart so far. So much to think about.


Friday, April 13, 2012


It has been exciting again. Wednesday, the round pen was finished. That is, other then the gates being figured out, built and installed. But done enough for me to be patting myself on the back pretty hard. Thursday, Pip escaped the pasture where she and Chloe were kept. A medium sized dead elm came down in the wind and hit the fence. It didn't take down the fence it just shorted it out. I thought I had gotten the tree pushed up and wedged into another tree. No such luck. It shifted and fell back out. When I walked out Pip was standing in deep grass on the hill outside of the pasture.

I called to her. "Pip what are you DOING over there?" She said she was eating grass and would I prefer it if she ate grass standing next to me. She stood there with that expectant look on her face, waiting for my reply. So I hollered back, "Well, hang on. I have to go get some stuff and I'll be right back." She gave me the horse equivalent of okey-dokey, so I started back up to the house.

I went in and grabbed a halter and lead rope, my carrot stick, my phone and a carrot. I went back out and got her attention and waited for her to come to me. I broke off a piece of the carrot and headed to the new pasture... the one with the round pen and no gates. We stopped here and there. Sometimes I would just go ahead of her and then wait for her to catch up, which would earn her another piece of carrot... always a reward, never a bribe. She went into the new arrangement like a champ. We walked through the round pen and into the pasture. I stayed with her a bit then headed back for Chloe.

My phone rang. It was the insurance agent with a quote. I apologized that I would have to call her back, then headed on to Chloe. I almost made it there and the phone rang again. It was a horsey friend that I was to meet up with during the mustang auction. We were catching up on things as I headed back to the old pasture. I got to Chloe and was getting ready to go through the gate when I heard the sound of thundering hooves. Pip apparently was in need of company. Considering being alone and galloping tend to get a horses anxiety level up. I decided to just keep talking with my friend and to let everybody get relaxed. Pip got to graze and get scratches. There were a couple of times when she had to come to me and put her head close, then she went back to her grass.

When I was down to one bar on my battery, I figured it was time to get busy. Said my good byes to Jackie and went in to Chloe. She haltered right up and got some scratches for her good behavior. Then we took off at a less then speedy mosey. I led Chloe and Pip followed. The name of the game was to keep calm. We once again arrived at the round pen. Chloe went into a pasture and Pip, not wanting to make my life any easier went into the other pasture.... the one I didn't want her in. Oh well, good enough. I grabbed my wire cutters and started to pull wire off the spool and string them across the opening. Tied the ends in and flagged them with cloth to make them visible. Put the lead rope across too.

Then the phone rang and Pip wanted to be put into the other pasture with Chloe..... of course.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Some Mornings

I am having trouble hanging onto my thoughts this morning. The round pen is done, except for the gates. My wind is whirling. Every little bit my eyes rest on the trees outside of my window. For a moment there is calm and then I think about how it is hiding some of the clearing I need to do and how, perhaps, it will allow me to not think about it for a while. There is a multitude of greens out there. The green of the grass that I have trimmed against the green of the long grass, waiting to be mowed. The green of the still alive elm against the walnut tree. The yellow green of the hedge trees. Stan's property across the road, an undulation of shades of green, rolling away to the horizon. The scene is a reprieve between thoughts.

I cannot wait to plant something. It is still a bit early. Though we have already had eighty degree weather, we also had a frost last night. So, no playing in the dirt for awhile. My mind won't stop planning though. Where to put the apple trees. Should I try to espalier? Could I get pears as well? How long until I eat a tomato!?

Oh look! a crane!

I cannot have a morning where I don't think about fencing. It is ingrained into me now, I suppose. Get up, run to the necessary room, make coffee.... and I wonder what I should do about fencing today? I am so close to having everything good enough to start work with the horses. It's almost a little frightening that some thing in my head is actually close to reality out there, in the real world. Something done, how could that be? Something done is just a step to the next thing to do. The next thing is exciting though. Working with the horses every day. Making progress, building trust, having calm. It is a good thing that they quiet my mind.

Oh look! there's a bluebird on the crabapple!

I am anxious to start on my hay shed. Not just for storing hay, but to get all of my tools cleaned up from around the yard. Organize my surroundings so I can organize my mind. A place to be on rainy days. A place to work on small tasks and still be able to look out the door and see the horses, to watch my world. A place to set a work bench and to build some things, like shelves. Some chairs for the yard. A few bird houses.

Oh look! There's a turkey in the drive way!

Some mornings I like to think what it will be like when things are ready for guests. I want to sit in the yard and have a glass of wine and pull pizzas out of my outdoor oven. Then start up a fire in the fireplace and watch the sun set. Listen to the owls talk.

Despite my gorgeous morning, I need to stop thinking and start doing. Time to get busy. Daylight's burning.

Oh look! a falcon.... pretty.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Potato Soup

It is going to be a busy day today. The day's own to-do list has been begun and to be honest..... it's a bit frightening. I need to finish up the round pen. I have said that a hundred times, but I really think it could happen today. The gate continues to be an issue. The little seven foot entrances, I am not concerned about. Those can be managed. But the twelve foot gate does concern me and I am really wishing that I had the income tax return. Oh well, I can call and see if the tax return deposit has been made, but that is all I can do. Better to shove it to the back of my mind and move on. Worrying about it will only steal my motivation.

But I digress... back to the list. Finish round pen. Then I have to do my phone calls. I really hate making phone calls. I do not know how sales people do it. I would have an ulcer. I need to call our tax preparer lady to find out when the return should come. I need to call Dr. Rice about a blood test for Mac. I need to call around and find someone who can fax some paper work for me. Oh crap, I have to call for car insurance quotes. Almost forgot about that one. Things like this tend to weigh my mind down. Better to get it over with.

But I digress... okay, finish round pen, make calls. Then I have to go to town sometime today. I am out of dog food. Fiona will not be happy with me if I run out of dog food. So, while in town I had better make the expenditure of gas worth while. I need to get some sinus medicine for Mac. Some vitamins, a gallon of milk and I might drop by the library and see if they have a book I was wanting to check for easy ways to build garden fencing. It was kind of a medieval kind of wattle and bentwood method. That would put it in my price range....... free! That reminds me, better take back the cans and bottles. I want to stash that money aside so I have it for my garden bedding plants. In a few days, I am hoping the weather will settle down and I will be able to make it down to Yutzy's greenhouse and start picking up tomatoes. Well, other things too, but tomatoes are my darlings. I love tomatoes! I especially want to get the Mr. Stripeys and the Oxheart. Can't forget the Mortgage Lifters either. I wish they grew the Red Star cherry variety. I suppose I can't have everything. Maybe next year.

But I digress.... Finish round pen, phone calls, go to town, Let's see. then I need to move the horses. The round pen fronts the end of the new lot so it must be done, but once I am home and done with all of my other stuff it will be time to move the horses. I always like to be around once they are moved in case they are uncomfortable with the change and decide to test the fence. It usually turns into a buck/fart event. At least for a few minutes. Weird thing about horses, that when they get all exuberant and buck it tends to cause them to fart. Then you can kind of gauge how much effort went into the buck. You have your little bucks, the crow hops, an occasional corkscrew.... then you have the big old double barrel buck/fart. Once I see that they are settled and eating, then I can come in and start our supper.

Potato soup.... you never know exactly how it will turn out at our house. It is one of those things that varies each time you make it depending on the contents of the refrigerator. The only constants are potatoes, onions and milk. The rest is left to chance. Mac said that he thought he would like bacon in it tonight. Sometimes there is corn. Once, one of Mac's snarkier relatives told me in a superior tone, "YOU don't make potato soup. YOU make CHOWDER. Everyone KNOWS that if it has corn then it's CHOWDER." Inside my head ( where I try to keep my evil self hidden) I thought, "Kiss my ass. It's potato soup that happened to get corn this time." I have some celery for a change. Almost never have celery so that might find it's way into the mix. Possibly a carrot. On occasion even some mushrooms could get stirred in. We will have to see how ambitious I get.

But I digress.... Finish round pen, make phone calls, go to town, potato soup for supper. I can do this.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Simplicity, Simplicity

Ahhh, simplicity, simplicity.... that supposedly evocative thought was penned by Thoreau. I started reading Walden's Pond but never got through it. I should feel guilty about that as he is considered one of the great american authors. But the book is incredibly short on plot. Which makes it very hard for me to read. It seemed to me to be an amalgamation of condemnation of the frivolous lifestyle sprinkled liberally with inspirational quotes. I'm telling you, the man would have made a killing working for Hallmark. Despite all the happy thoughts, if you are going to write without plot then you'd better include some pretty nifty instructions on how to do a task properly, or give me a good chicken feed recipe, or give the proper proportions for a fireplace that throws heat well. That is... if you want me to read it.

Thoreau was a bit of a cheat. Granted he had his wee house and few possessions, but I had read from a commentary, that he would walk nearly everyday to town. There, he would sit in the public house and visit with people. Then in the evening he would make the trek back home again. He walked five miles to town and I keep thinking how that would equate in labor. Five miles each way is a LOT of labor! How much firewood would that have cut? How much faster or better could he have built his house? How much food would that have preserved for the winter? Heck! He could have gotten a couple of books written that had a plot, and some characters. Maybe even some descriptive narrative! But his "good life" was built on going to town and sitting around, having a beer and visiting with people. That is the easy way to have people in your life. I did it the hard way. I married one and gave birth to the others.

I crave simplicity, not necessarily austerity. Mac sees simplicity as austerity and craves neither. I have to have my balance. I don't want to take much space. I don't want to steal another's resources but I need to be able to cram my children and grandchildren into this place. I need to have my home contain that bubbling hive of activity which is "family". And when the family isn't around, I want this life I am building to be so rich with their memory, that I feel them with me always. It isn't easy. It is labor intensive. It is immensely satisfying.

If Thoreau were alive today, I wonder if he wouldn't just be perceived as a lonely alcoholic, that couldn't hold a job, that bored strangers with his vain philosophies, that lived off the kindnesses of his few friends. Okay, okay! Now I'm just being mean! I have a mean streak. If a woman built a shack in the woods and walked to town everyday to have beer and talk to people in a pub, You KNOW what she would be called, don't you?! And it sure wouldn't be a great american author!!!!

Oh well, that should be the end of my ponderings for today. For my version of a simpler life I have to do a lot of work and I need to start now. The kitchen is a mess... again!!! I have some more to do in the round pen. Need to haul water to the horses this morning. Then I have to get started on the garden fencing. Simplicity, simplicity.


Friday, April 6, 2012

My Messy Life

I took a few minutes to read a blog this morning. It is written by a horsey pal of mine. A young woman at the Parelli center in Pagosa Springs and someday when she gets to the right spot in her education, she will be coming here to teach clinics. I'm jazzed about that. My friend's name is Kat Green, so keep your eyes peeled .... you will be seeing more from her.

Anyway, I digress.......

Kat's blog is concise. She is focused. She writes about her horses, horse development and the process she is going through as she learns horsemanship. It's all so CLEAN!, very goal specific. Then I look at my life and I just have to stand back and say , "Holy Shit!!!!" While I try very hard to be focused, I seem to be focused on a really large picture. I'm just all over the place. I am as likely to be concentrating on earthworms as horsemanship... which I actually feel very guilty about. There is just so much that is interesting. I look at the burning I am doing in the woods, and it is absolutely riveting for me. By the way, where I burned two weeks ago, I have false Solomon's Seal coming up... a good shade loving native that I have seen no signs of before. Yet there it is. Taking this new opportunity at life.

New opportunity at life..... I like that. Sometimes I feel like I've come through the fire too. Maybe not, I don't know. Sometimes a person feels like they are on the edge. I have moments when I think it is a bit too much, then this other me seems to take over and she looks around and says, "Really?!! what a bunch of bull shit!" Then She goes and tries to find another heirloom variety of tomato. I think of that side of my personality as my earth mother. Then there is the warrior woman, who has a harder time finding an outlet. Though I did come incredibly close to popping a doctor across the head a couple of years ago. That side of me is not so socially acceptable. There used to be a wife in the mix somewhere but Mac doesn't need a wife anymore, He needs a nurse, a caregiver. I have the logical planner that draws about fifty plans just for a chicken coop! There used to be a person who tidied up and I don't know where the hell she went.

Life is too short.... especially the part where you are really flexible, so you have to go in all directions at once. It's going to get messy, right? That's what the renaissance is about, I think. The rebirth, the learning, the expression. That's the important part. I think I'll just enjoy myself... make my messes, and let some dull person clean up after I'm dead. Yup! that'll work


Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Morning After

It is the morning after Mac's most recent trip to Iowa City. He has more medications to take. He is back on prednisone. A very high dose for awhile. His liver showed problems in the blood tests. I am not surprised as his eyes looked jaundiced this last week and I started him on milk thistle. The whites of his eyes went back to white but the DR. did not seem happy with my actions. Too bad, I had to do something and it apparently helped. It was the same with asking questions and just getting comments. I need a conversation. At least I know enough to get more proactive. I will keep Mac on the milk thistle and we will try to push some clear fluids. He has a real problem with clear fluids. For one ..... they are clear. They have no bubbles. If it is going to be clear and have no bubbles then the fluid should at least be, well, intoxicating.

Too bad.

I am exhausted this morning. Feel like I have been run through the wringer. The only thought that buoys my spirits is the idea of going to the greenhouse and looking at tomato plants. I am thinking about bordering the vegetable garden with marigolds this year. It would be costly. It would be a LOT of marigolds, but it's a happy thought. Marigolds have nothing in common with Dr. coats. They don't have the smell of antiseptic hanging on them. Though it is hard to define that weird marigold smell. Tomatoes also have a singular smell when you brush up against the plant. To me it is the smell of GREEN!!!

Smells are important.

Green seems like a good place to hide. It is a restful color. It is a good place to retreat to when you have to think for too long of the graft vs. host. It is spreading over the bottoms of Mac's feet. It looks like eczema from hell. It appears that this might be a lifetime condition. Mac might need to see the transplant specialist forever.... eternal follow up. I have to wonder if there are enough tomatoes and marigolds to hold me up through this process, stretching out in front of us. I will hope that he comes to some place in his own mind where he can find the thing that gives him.... I don't know how to describe it.... gusto? Excitement in life? He doesn't seem happy very often. He should be happy.... he's alive. I cling to the idea that this will be 'OUR YEAR". The year that Mac finds his joy. The year I get a handle on the money issue. The year where our course runs true.

It is the morning after a visit to the Dr. in Iowa City. I am exhausted. But I am not having rage. I am not having fear. That is a real head start over most morning afters. There is nothing wrong with me that some tomatoes, some marigolds and some horsey time won't fix.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Carbon Footprint

Yesterday was interesting. While in the house to cool down and get a drink, I read an article on Facebook. It had been written by a republican who was wondering why global warming wasn't being recognized by his political party. Does this mean that FINALLY we as a nation can get more proactive about cutting down on fossil fuels and start healing and nurturing our planet? I suppose we will see.

The other point of interest was that Mac had downloaded an app for his iPod that would figure a person's carbon footprint. He entered our data. I don't know how accurate this app is, but it said that we have a carbon footprint of 8.8. The average american household has a carbon footprint of 23. The average european household has a carbon footprint of 11...... or so this app professes. I don't think we do without much. Mac would like satellite TV but that isn't going to happen. It is simply too expensive. If the garden comes in better we will have a better diet. Food, like satellite TV, has gotten pretty expensive. Once the house is actually finished, we can make use of our entire space and we will not be lacking in much.

I'm torn between being proud of our carbon score and being ashamed. If we have a score of 8.8 without putting forth much effort towards that goal, what could we do if we tried? Last year I had a clothesline that I just strung over the tops of some fenceposts. It did the job but really didn't hold a great deal. This year I need to get up a serious clothesline. That is an EASY addition to reducing that footprint. Our house was designed on a passive solar idea. A good sunny day in the winter and the house takes almost no heat. It also cools quite easily just with cross flow ventilation. The only thing lacking is adequate shelter from the sun on the west side. I planted a maple there last year but that is going to take some time. We hope that we can build a roofed deck out there this summer. It will shade in the summer and give a good wind buffer in the winter. Hopefully we will cut down our utility usage all the way around.

It is a one-two punch though. It isn't just that I have to stop taking away from the environment, but what can I give back? I will try harder to get more trees planted this year. I need to control the water/run off in the woods better. I think I can induce more percolation and less washing away of soil. I don't know.... there is more I can do. I will need to give it more thought. I suppose finding a way to go electric with our vehicle will be the biggest thing. We need to be as energy independent as we can manage. I am as serious as the grave about converting a car to electric. Mac thinks I am ridiculous. But I have a strategy. First I will have to come up with a way for the car to look cool. Something like the sports car from the mini series, "The Prisoner". Mac has always LOVED that car. Then I will have to get his older brother to tell him that the idea could work. I could research the idea for two years and he would give me no credence but if Jim makes an off hand comment that it could work THEN it will be a wonderful idea! It will be my project..... Operation "Convince Jim". I don't do it for myself..... I do it for the planet.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Fretful days

It finally happened. The recycling people FINALLY showed up and got the old ranger. They had scheduled to come either Tuesday or Wednesday. After I called they opted to show up on Thursday. Of course it had to rain that morning. The truck from the recycler got stuck on the wet grass and made a huge mess of my lawn. I know it can be remedied, but I have other things to do. I have more important tasks. It is bad enough that it will have to be done before I can mow. It just makes me sick to look at it. I will need to haul dirt down there. A task that would be made easier if my wheelbarrow actually had a round wheel. Damn thing couldn't hold air if my life depended on it. It also didn't help that I had to hook up my four wheel drive ranger to pull the damn recycling truck out. Then pulled the old ranger out. This used up the rest of my gas. I had just enough to get to town and because I had to rescue this guy, I was going no where. To say I was pissed off would have been an understatement. I pretty much spent the day pacing. I couldn't settle my mind on anything. By after noon I was exhausted. I made a couple of calls to see if I could squeeze everything into some sort of a schedule on Friday. It wasn't looking good.

But the day was shining and bright on Friday morning. I left with Mac in order to have a vehicle with gas. Got him to school, then turned around and drove back towards home, back to the recyclers to pick up the check. Put the check with my hay check, that I had been hanging onto, then turned back around and drove back into town. Went to the post office and got stamps. Went to the bank. It wouldn't open for at least a half hour so I sat in the car and wrote the checks for this months bills. Mac's paycheck would not be deposited until noon so waited to drop off the local checks but the ones that would be mailed were finished up. Only two bills left to pay when the bank opened. Got inside with what was left with my birthday/chicken money, the hay check and the recycler's check. I opened a farm checking account. A safe place to stash extra bits of cash when we come upon it so we have it when it came time to pay insurance, taxes etc. When money gets put into the everyday checking account, it tends to put gas in the car and buy groceries. So, we will try this new strategy.

Once the new checking account was opened, I drove forty minutes to Creston to meet with our tax preparer. It is a good thing that somebody else does this. I couldn't watch. I had to keep looking away. Had to fight the urge to pace. Hoped we wouldn't owe anything. I had written down all of the receipt totals, brought all the forms and interest statements. Thank goodness, there wasn't any need for explanation or conversation. Sandy just went through the program. Putting in numbers, clicking on boxes. Finally she said, "Looks like you'll be getting a thousand from Federal and about five hundred from State." I breathed.

Then I gave her the deposit slip for the new checking account. This money would go into the farm account. It will hopefully pay for insurance. I gave Sandy a postdated check to pay for her services. She has saved me once again. By now it was noon and I had to get to the Leon courthouse. I left Creston and drove the forty minutes back to Osceola, turned right and drove another twenty five minutes to get to Leon. Sorted through the paperwork found the property tax papers. I went inside and wrote the check for the taxes. There was now just thirty dollars left in the new account..... how depressing. I got back in the car and wrote out the last two checks of this months bills from our everyday account, dropped them in the mail. Headed back to Osceola. Now that it was after noon and the paycheck was "officially" deposited I went back to the bank, paid the mortgage and got a little cash.

The day was over. An entire day of crazy running.... dealing with money.... trying to retain composure... not always succeeding. In one day, the income is gone and we are back to broke. But the bills are paid. I reveled in the idea that we would have a bit of a buffer. We would have the tax return and I did some number crunching. How far would this take us? Could I get my grass seed? my chickens? How much money would I need to have the farm raise in order to be able to pay the next round of property taxes? I felt some momentary relief, then remembered that from this money I had to pay back the loan to my mother. The five hundred borrowed to pay for Mac's share of his mother's funeral. So, I have more money to raise then I thought. More to do. Not as much breathing room as I had hoped for.

The worst of it is that to add insult to injury, I look across the lawn and see this great gash of black in the green of my lawn. I need to fix that and I still can't justify the expense of buying a damn tire for the wheelbarrow, not when I still have to worry about buying groceries. Stupid damn truck getting stuck. Causing me work that I don't need! Well, I'm going to get a cup of coffee, then I had better get at it. The one thing about work that I have noticed..... it doesn't do itself.