As I sit down to compose this holiday greeting, it’s almost 60 degrees outside, the sun is shining, and the crocuses are deciding whether or not it’s time to bloom. Although it feels more like spring vacation than winter break, those of us in the Mid-Ohio Valley know that tomorrow could bring ice and snow, so for now, we’re soaking in the warmth!
2006 has been a good year for The Wilders. Samuel, 21, has just finished the first semester of his junior year at Appalachian State University in Boone and is glad to be home and free of paper deadlines and exams. He is now an officially declared journalism major with a minor in philosophy and religion. Those of you who recall the chubby little guy who used to run around the farm in his Batman cape wouldn’t recognize him now. He’s tall, slender, and in very good shape thanks to the hours he spends on his mountain bike and weightlifting. He spent this past summer as an intern at the Thistle Mountain Winery in Ashe County, NC, and has become quite the expert on wines. I look for him to be a contributing writer to Food & Wine or some similar magazine as he travels the world on his bike, sampling gourmet fare and fine wines along the way.
Eliza, now 15, made the high school band color guard as one of three freshmen, so we spent a good part of the summer and fall involved in band events. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday this year, she promptly replied, “A really nice, tall, ‘hot’ boyfriend.” So, when she came home from school on her birthday, she announced her wish had come true! How’s that for conjuring up some good stuff! So far, her GPA hasn’t suffered from the hours she spends on the phone with Matt and other friends and/or in front of the mirror doing her hair, and I am very proud of the young woman I see transforming before me. As for college interests, as a 9th grader, Eliza has her eyes set on Brown University with the hopes of becoming a psychiatrist. We’ll see how that takes shape over the next three years.
Bobbi (my foster daughter from years ago) and Isabella, 6, have visited the farm twice this year. They still live in Philadelphia where Bobbi has a yoga/pilates studio / massage therapy business. As the photos show, Isabella reflects her mother’s beauty as well as her energy and love of life. One of my favorite images of Isabella’s last visit is of her asleep with the dogs on the floor underneath the dining room table. She was oblivious to the fact that the dogs smelled like cow pasture and mud; she was just into pretending to be one of the Corgis!
I began my 30th (!) year of teaching this fall. I’m still at the local community college, and I teach two classes as an adjunct at Marietta College. My work with the Evergreen Arts & Humanities Series at WSCC keeps me busier than I’d like to be at times, but I get to meet some amazingly creative and fun people in the process. I also am still very active on behalf of Cuban political prisoners. I do a lot of translation work through the Coalition of Cuban-American Women. In October, I had the opportunity to speak at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States in Washington, DC. My topic dealt with human rights abuses of Cuban children; hopefully, my research will become a part of the OAS’s annual report on the overall state of human rights abuses in Cuba. I still dream of owning a small place in Cuba some day where all of you can visit me in the snowy winter months, but that won’t be a reality until there is a change in leadership on the island and things stabilize as a result. It could take a while!
Holding down the farm keeps me really busy! I’m praying that the warm weather continues because I have this sense that the barn might not withstand another windy winter. Keep your fingers crossed please! :0) My garden and flowers flourished during the summer, and I can hardly wait to get my hands back into the Earth in a few more months.
Here at our home, we’re grateful for our many, many blessings…good health, the love of good friends and family, our critters (two Corgis, five cats, and a fish) and the beauty of the natural world that surrounds us. Our prayer for the coming year is that as individuals, as a nation, as a planet, may we all come into a greater understanding of peace and compassion.
We send our holiday love and hope that this finds everyone well and happy. Please plan a visit to see us this coming year!
What's happening? It's as warm as a spring morning today, December 17th. At 10:30 AM, the fairly accurate thermometer on the back porch reads 55 degrees. All the infernal ladybugs that didn't hatch out during the fall have decided that it's time to infest the house, and the crocuses are thinking it's time to blossom. The evergreens are pollinating (as indicated by my allergies), and I had to toss off the winter quilts on my bed last night because I got too hot under the covers!!! Commentary in the mall last night centered around folks not feeling like it's the holiday season because of the warmth.....
Now, I'm not here to complain. Those of you who know me well know that winter is not my favorite time of the year and that I constantly jabber about having a winter home in Cuba some day...(That is, when Fidel finally croaks-if he hasn't already-, the country stabilizes, and I come up with a windfall that will allow me to put up a yurt on a small patch of beach front property on the island...Dream on!!) BUT, here in the Mid-Ohio Valley, the temps have not been below 40 degrees for the entire month of December.
Perhaps it really is time for us all to rent the Al Gore movie, read his book, and investigate cleaning up our lives. For a person who grew up in the mountains of NC and remembers very cold, snowy, windy, bitter winters, this December seems really, really strange.
It's totally quiet here today at the farm...I'm here alone (after going out earlier to have a morning coffee with Samuel, who returned to Marietta yesterday after finishing his last exam). The only sounds I hear are the clicking of the keyboard as I type this and the chimes hanging outside in the crabapple tree as they respond to the breeze that sets them in motion.
Loonis, in her own silently annoying way, stares at me and invites me to play fetch with her yet again, and the dogs sleep soundly outside my bedroom door. Our communication today is totally non-verbal, especially since I have the best case of laryngitis I think I've ever had and couldn't talk if I wanted to.
I've tried to mutter a few words a couple of times today...to Samuel at the coffee house....to a salesperson over the phone...to the UPS driver when he dropped off a package. I squeak out some pretty pitiful croaks, and then everyone remarks at how incredibly miserable I sound. Thankfully, I don't feel badly...I just can't talk.
Actually, it's really quite nice to reflect upon silence, be silent, and listen to the silence.... a mystical, contemplative place of solitude and peace to experience...I love it!...I might not even put on any music or turn on TV...I think I'll wrap a few presents and knit, losing myself in each stitch as I watch the dishcloths I'm making take shape. (There may be some inner dialogue and/or expletives if I drop a stitch and can't figure out how to correct my mistake, however!) :0) :0)
So, as the Universe must be directing, I'm not going to speak again today...I'm going to give my obviously inflamed vocal chords a rest, and move within.
It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like the Holidays Here at the Farm
The theme of this year's holiday decoration was SIMPLICITY. So, with that beautiful thought in mind, I set about to pull out as few ornaments and decorations as possible. However, once I got into the boxes filled with Farm Christmas memorabilia that's been around for decades, I found it a bit difficult to pick and choose exactly what would be a part of the Simplicity Holdiday Spirit this year.
Bottom line...I pulled out much more "stuff" that I had originally planned to unpack, and the "simplicity" theme readjusted into a "sort of simplicity" idea.
Here's a sample of what one would behold in the house this year...There are several "altar" spaces in honor of angels, the Goddess, my dad and grandmother, and Santa...There's a Christmas tree that has fallen over twice already this year...(Yes, we've officially put up the tree two times now, and yes, it has a rather reworked look to it... Loonis, the cat, would like for me to make a public declaration that she had nothing to do with the tumbling tree...I'm still looking for a conveniently designed Christmas tree stand, one that REALLY does what the instructions say it will do...like NOT let the tree fall over twice!) To officially conclude the holiday decorating frenzy, there will be one more item to complete once Mary Ann comes over tonight and she and I get into a little wine and creative mode...Stay tuned....
So as my little stocking (my very first stocking from my very first Christmas) says...
(And keep your fingers crossed that the tree, which I now have anchored down with a huge piece of iron that normally serves as a sculpture on my living room wall, remains upright!)
No, no, no...not the drug-induced high that many of my readers might automatically associate with the lyrics, but the best of NATURAL highs when beloved friends, who are closer than many blood relatives, stop by for a couple of days at the farm to kick back...relax... and enjoy good coversation... fine wine... and the beginning of the holidays here at The Farm.
I've known the people in these photos for close to 30 years now, and we've certainly seen each other through every rite of passage possible...births, marriages, remarriages, divorces, deaths, and various other life-altering events.
Each one of us has lived a rather "unconventional" life...we've done everything from travel around the country in a bright green school bus, work in the Peace Corps, live alone in a small house way back in the Virginia mountains, have huge gardens and live rather self-sufficiently, make art, become involved in environmental, social, and human rights issues to teach and work in the corporate world. We have rather strong alternative views on most things; we don't vote for the likes of George Bush; we are very Earth-conscious; we have always contributed to living in a loving way and making the world a much better place; we have produced interesting, intelligent children who carry on our legacies; we've all lived communally at some point in our lives; we meditate, do yoga, and chant in the sweat lodge, and we all share a profound love for one another at a deep and very special level.
So, last night, we declared that "THE HOLIDAYS HAVE BEGUN" as we gathered together here at the farm, cooked up a delicious meal, made a warm fire in the big room, listened to Sherm play his guitar, and sipped our after dinner wine. More memories were made to add to our friendship list of good times shared, as love effervesced in our hearts like bubbles from the finest champagne....It just doesn't get much better!
May everyone be blessed with similar connections this holiday season and beyond...They're the absolute very, very bestest thing in the whole wide world...
Population 30, give or take a few...Home of Grandma Ruth, who'll turn 105 on January 28, 2007... One of my favorite places on earth...
Here are a few photos of her, the barn I played in as a kid, the chicken coop where I got flogged by the rooster when I went to gather eggs while Grandma was milking, and galax, a waxy low growing plant she used to gather by the sack fulls to sell to the folks at the herb market.
CLOSET CLEANING, A URINARY TRACT INFECTION, AND GRATITUDE FOR FRIENDS
For some odd reason this morning as I started a MAJOR closet cleaning project, I felt like something was "off" in my body. Shortly after I got everything in my closet heaped in piles on my bedroom door, it became obvious that I had come down with an intense urinary tract infection (I know...thanks for sharing). SOOOOO, rather than being able to finish my project (and let me tell you, it is a HUGE project), I spent a considerable part of the day staring at the piles on the floor, drinking cranberry juice, and debating whether or not I should try to get to a doctor.
About a dozen excruciating trips to the bathroom convinced me that yes, I needed to get my rear end in gear and go to Quick Care. Well, Quick Care is closed on Saturday afternoon, so I headed to Physician Care where the receptionist informed me that I would have a two to three hour wait before I could see the MD. I confess to being a bit grumpy at that point since there were only 2 or 3 sneezing,coughing, and wheezing folks in the waiting room. Then it occurred to me to call a friend who's an MD to ask the huge favor or calling me in a prescription. Thank goodness, David was at home. I went straight to RiteAid, started the meds, and am feeling considerable relief.
Then, I remembered that the Evergreen Arts & Humanities Series had an event scheduled tonight that I needed to attend. Tom Jackson pulled through for me on this one, and while the concert was taking place, I mustered up enough energy to put on my clothes to go pick up Eliza after the high school basketball game.
When I called Eliza's friend's mom, Kim, to tell her I'd be by after the game, she volunteered--no actually insisted--on bringing Eliza home so I wouldn't have to go out. How sweet..how considerate...how loving!
Now, some 12 hours later after the onset of UTI, the closet stuff is still heaped on my floor and bed, and I've ingested enough fluids to drain a pond. However, as crappy as I have felt all day, I have been embraced and humbled by the goodness of others...by three people whose assistance and kindness made the day easy for me and enabled me to take some time to rest and feel better.
THANK YOU TOM, DAVID, AND KIM...I'll pay it forward, and I'm here whenever you need me...I am deeply, deeply grateful...