Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Farm Update
As I sit down to write this, the wind is howling outside, and Hendrix the Cat, aka, Fatty, has been banging at the kitchen door, pleading his case to come in for the evening so he can sleep on the heat register and sip some warm milk. (I'm sure he's also entertaining thoughts of hopping in bed with Eliza or me as well.) Eliza's doing her homework while talking on the phone (hmmmm..is that considered multi-tasking??); Annie and Molly, our two corgis, are snoring like two ole' geezers in the big room, and Loonis, the farm's feline princess, is insisting that I stop my work here at the computer to play fetch with her. (For those who don't understand, Loonis likes for anyone who is occupied at the computer to toss her small felt ball down the hall. If one doesn't comply, she hops up on the computer and dances on the keyboard.) The other cats have sought refuge in the warmth of the barn, and Luther, the beta fish, continues to rejoice that I moved him from the cold kitchen. When I noticed he had been in suspended animation in his bowl atop the refrigerator for 48 hours or so, I feared he had gotten too chilly and placed him on the pie safe in the dining room amidst the Christmas decorations. Thank goodness he quickly returned to life and began to flirt with the images of Mrs. Claus on the Christmas card I stuck behind his bowl.

The holidays have come and gone. This year's Christmas tree got moved out of the house last weekend to begin its year-long wait for the 2006 New Year's bonfire. We're three weeks into January now, and ---Samuel is well into his second week of spring semester at Appalachian State. He's registered for 20 hours; his classes, particularly The Science and Cultures of Wine, sound extremely fascinating to me-- Eliza's finished her first semester of 8th grade (with a 4.0 GPA) --Tanya's joyfully (?) juggling schedules at both Washington State Community College and Marietta College-- Bobbi reports that she's been dealing with Isabella's recent bout of earaches but is otherwise thriving and loving life in Philadelphia---Brett has returned to Olney Friends School to finish out the year. The smile on his face over the holidays indicates that "hay romance en el aire"--Joe can hardly find time to breathe outside of his clay studio at Ohio University (but loves every moment of the grad school experience and the creative spirit that surrounds him)--LoriBeth's doing things like sunbathing on the beach every day on Maui, whale watching, and nanny-ing ( And yes, I am envious!)--Meera's returned to California where she's working before beginning grad school (probably at Stanford) in the near future.It was so good to see her New Year's Eve! Meera, the thought of working with you on educational reform keeps my wheels turning!--Dana and James, future writers and eco-poets, continue their doctoral studies at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln--Seth spent the holidays in Utah, I think, before returning to Tennessee for New Years--

While everyone else is away doing their thing, Eliza and I hold down the fort and look forward to the next round of visits from all of the farm family. It will only be a couple of months until the longer days return, the crocuses pop up, and many of you will be back at The Farm for a visit... Warm hugs and a beer on the deck await you all....

Until then...always love, infinite love.....Tanya

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet González

I took this photo, which I call "Understanding at an Early Age," in July, 2003, at a vigil on behalf of Cuban political prisoners that was held outside the Miami Convention Center during the NAACP National Convention. My dear friend, Laida Carro, several Afro-Cuban exiles (two of whom were ex-political prisoners), and I spoke to an official delegation of the NAACP leadership (including its CEO, Kwesi Mfume, and Director of the Washington Bureau, Hilary Shelton) and others who had recently traveled to Cuba. Our goal was to get the NAACP to speak out in favor of the political prisoners and gain the organization's support for a call to release of all Cuban political prisoners. (Unfortunately, our meeting produced little more than a token recognition by the NAACP officials, and later we were to learn that the same officials with whom we had spoken and who had visited Dr. Biscet and other political prisoners while in Havana had brokered a trade agreement with the Cuban government.)

The postcard the young boy holds shows the photo of Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet González, a Cuban physician who has been imprisoned for all but a few months since the late 1990's. Dr. Biscet, an advocate of non-violent civil disobedience, is a student of Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King...He is truly a man of peace.

I post this blog in honor of Dr. Biscet and all he represents for the Cuban people. After spending months in solitary confinement for refusing to wear the uniform of the common prisoner, Dr. Biscet remains in prison, his spirit unbroken and his call for democracy in Cuba reverberating in the hearts of many courageous people on the island. His faith and love of his beloved Cuba sustain him; from his prison cell, he lives a life of service to the Cuban people, and his message is one that authorities in Cuba have not been able to repress.

I didn't get the name of the boy in the photo---I only know that he was there with his family. But, for some reason, I saw in his face the face of the man in the postcard he was holding, and at that point, I knew that Dr. Biscet was there among us, guiding us in silence, in peace, and with dignity.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

HELP! I'm Finding This Blogging Thing a Little Confusing...

I need help. Here's what I want to do. I want to post a photo with my profile, and then, I want to move my profile to the top of my blog on the right hand side. How do I add my photo? (I've checked the blog HELP, and I don't understand the instructions...way too complicated with things like URL and other terms about which I have zero understanding...) The same thing goes for trying to find out how to move my profile to the top of my blog. I tried changing the template, and darn near wiped out the whole blog. And, as with all things involving the computer, it seems the more I try to do, the more of a mess I make.

If any kind soul reads this post, feels a soft spot in his/her heart for this blog illiterate AND knows the answers to my questions, please post a comment with very simple, easy-to-follow instructions, so I can make yet another attempt at changing my blog just a bit.

Thanks in advance...

Tanya, the frustrated (at the moment) blogger

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Quotation of the Day
(from a magnet on my refrigerator....)

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware...
joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely,
~Henry Miller

Alas! I must confess to having been distanced from a certain level of awareness today. For example, I had no idea that postage had gone up to 39 cents per letter until the sweet woman in the college post office left me a bill for 14 cents in my mailbox for the 7 bills I mailed out in this morning's mail.....Later on in the afternoon when I was taking off my skirt to get ready for yoga class, I realized I had worn it backwards all day....(I'm assuming no one noticed since I got no feedback on the fact that my skirt had the back pockets and zipper in the front....)....And tonight, when I was preparing the fixings for tacos, I opened a can of black beans, all the while thinking they were black olives....

Perhaps the Universe is sweetly reminding me not to take my life too seriously during these winter months and to laugh heartily at myself. Nonetheless, tomorrow I'll place the 2 cent stamps beside the 37 cent ones on a couple of things I have to mail, check to make sure that my clothes are right-side out and properly fitted, and read the labels on any product before I open it.

After all, the aim of life is to live, and to live means to be
aware......joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

How could it be...
69 degrees yesterday afternoon and 28 degrees today? Two or three inches of snow blanketed the ground overnight, and once again, I find myself layered in two pairs of socks, tights underneath my jeans, a T-shirt topped by a log sleeve shirt topped by a sweater, and the toasty felted scarf my dear friend and office mate, Mary Ann, made me for Christmas around my neck... I know...I know...It's mid-January...Sunny, not to mention warm days, are a real anomaly here in the mid-Ohio valley, but the tease of the warmth yesterday had me fantasizing about flowers and going barefoot and the ocean and .....

Nothing like a blast of cold wind to bring one back to reality. I'm off to hibernate!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Friday Afternoon

Another week at the office comes to a close...I'm grateful for that...Those of us in education live for the moment when we can close our office doors on Fridays and go home for the weekend. Not that that particular action signifies an end to the work, by any means. It's just the moment when we can retreat to the privacy of our own homes, not have to answer questions from eager (or not) students and colleagues who seek our input (or not) about matters that rarely require immediate resolution.

Let's see...This week I have taught three or four classes a day, graded papers, attended more meetings than I really care to, answered phone calls, lended assistance to students in distress, answered messages from all over the country, made phone calls, and played peacemaker for colleagues who can't seem to understand that they share a similiar vision but don't speak the same language. In addition, I've worked on arranging all sorts of things for an arts and humanities series I am in charge of. Yep, I'm ready to head home.

(Three hours later.....) Several cats and the farm dogs, two corgis, Annie and Molly, meet me as I get out of the car with their deeply appreciated enthusiasm and unconditional love. It's so nice to be lovingly welcomed home. There's not a lot of interesting mail to peruse; the first of several bills with Christmas charges is the thickest envelope in the stack of ads and junk mail that wait for me in the mailbox by the side of the road (where, on more than one occasion, I've almost gotten plastered by cars passing by at high speeds), Best of all,however, the silence of the house that smells like Christmas tree welcomes me, and I realize that it's been five full days since I have spent the entire day in my home. It's here where I find my peace. It's here, in the silience, that I can hear the voices of the many, many people who call this place "The Farm" --who know it as HOME, as our vine-covered barn humbly displays. I feel their presence as if they were sitting on the sofa awaiting my arrival, ready to greet me with a warm "farm hug."

I'm home and so glad to be here.....

Winter Lichen

While walking in the woods at the back of my farm on a chilly, bleak December afternoon, I spotted this fungus growing on a decaying log that had fallen across the creek bed. As they rocked with the movement of their host in the brisk wind, the color and lines of the lichen provided a stark contrast to the gray branches and dead underbrush that surrounded them.

While I was snapping photos of these seemingly fragile pieces, I listened to the laughter of my son, Samuel, daughter, Eliza, and LoriBeth, their sister in spirit, as they climbed downed trees and balanced on ancient grapevines across the way. There we were, the four of us, not a care in the world, accompanied only by the birds and critters who watched us without revealing their presence.

It was a special couple of hours....a very precious gift of the holiday season.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

This first post is a trial and error attempt since I really have no idea what I'm doing. I'm at home alone with my two Corgis and silly cat, Loonis, on a chilly, semi-sunny Sunday afternoon. Instead of grading papers and taking care of home chores, I'm sitting in front of my computer, thinking that I'll try to post my first entry on my blog....We'll see if it works. (Actually, I'm not even sure how to get to my blog site.)

I'm not sure what blogs are all about, but as I understand, they are cyber-journals--musings about anything that comes to mind. At present, my mind is pretty blank. I'm wondering where I saved the last batch of photos I downloaded to the computer, when I'll find time to go to the gym this week, what I need to accomplish in terms of my office work in the next couple of days, etc. Truthfully, I think a long walk in the woods is what I most need and want, so I'll follow that thought and hopefully return with some sort of profound revelation I receive from the spirits of the back field and woods.