Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Lucy Buelow (2) has her own language and perky way of being.

When Jack Buelow (4) says, "Tanya, I love you," my heart melts.

Night blooming cereus has been the flower of the season. The only catch is that they open at night and are wilted by the morning, so to catch the open bloom, I have to sit outside and wait. I LOVE the way the buds form with the pink-ribboned spikes around them.

Classic Paco after an afternoon of play with Jack and Lucy.

Bud, in sphinx pose.

Peg Martin-McGuire, Tanya, Eliza, and Alexa, Peg's daughter on the morning of their departure to return to Regina, Saskatchewan. Two days of visiting with our girls was a very special time for two life-long friends.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Since talking about the weather is always a good opener, I'll begin here by saying that late July and August have been two of the hottest months on record - - or at least it's definitely felt that way!! Lots of sweat, lots of showers, lots of good BO despite our efforts...I honestly don't mind working up a good sweat. In fact, I like the feeling a lot; however, a break in the heat would be an OK thing for me at this point.

Joe's spent the week working steadily on his new pottery adventures. The back porch has become his studio, and thank goodness (I'm knocking on wood as I type this), we haven't had any new piece sent flying from cats jumping on the rail yet. I LOVE (!!!!) watching his creative processes in action. His total delight in making pots inspires me to get the paper studio up and running again. It's been almost 4 years since I last worked up some pulp, so I plan on cleaning out the basement this afternoon for that purpose. With two weeks until classes start, I can probably make up a couple of vats. I can't wait to get my hands in the slurry soon....that'll get me going for the fall, when I hope to make up a bunch of things.....

Our garden's flourishing...The " 2010 Prolific Veggie of the Summer Award" goes to our cucumbers vines for their almost zucchini-like yield. Similiarly the basil plants have provided for several rounds of pesto; the tomatos make up into great juice for winter enjoyment; and the tomatillos give us great salsa verde. (Joe has the process and recipe down pat.) I'm also working on some butternut squash recipes to can for cold winter nights.

In recent Farm News:

1. We've had wonderful visits this summer...Lori; Brett & Betsy; Dana & Wendy; Clark, Charlie, Jack and Lucy; Joe's sister, Denah, and her daughters, Maddie and Morgan; Peg and Alexa; and other farm regulars have made our days better than wonderful and filled The Farm with love.

2. Petie and I made a road trip to MD to see my dad's youngest sister, Joyce, and his brother, Rhonda. Along the way, we checked in with Samuel, and Mom got to see his new apartment (actually room with a somewhat kitchen and bath).

3. Eliza's getting ready for college -heading to the University of Cincinnati on September 17th. We still have to go buy some things for her room, so I'm looking forward to that shopping spree with her.

4. Eliza and my sister, Myra, aka: Tita, spent three days in NYCity at the end of July and had a blast.

5. I've spent a good deal of time working on the Evergreen Arts & Humanities Series for next year - my last as chair of the committee. I have a couple of other projects I'd like to work on, and I'm certainly looking forward to having NO strings attached to the office in the summers.

6. We enjoy lots of love and laughter every day with Paco's, Bud's, and the other critters' antics. I'm toying with the idea of getting a dog, but the right one just hasn't come my way yet. I'm thinking about adopting an older corgi so I can avoid puppyhood and all its obligations.

7. Blessings abound.....What more could we ask for??

Sumnmer Farm Buddies - Bud & Paco

Friday, July 23, 2010


There's a new guy on The Farm, and he's so cute one can't help but kiss his sweet snout and long, soft ears. Paco, brother of our beloved Rufus, arrived in OH two weeks ago after a long trip from his native Utah. Joe and his friend, Frank, made a whirlwind trip across country to pick him up and bring him back to live here in canine paradise. He's captured our hearts and filled a huge void left by the passing of Annie, Molly, and Ruf last year.

Paco's a pretty mellow fellow, but with each day, Joe and I witness his growing sense of confidence and exploration as he ventures around the yard and field. He's made the field walk twice now, without whimpering or asking to be carried. That's a lot for a little guy whose legs are probably only 4" long, whose butt catches up with his head when he runs, and who trips on his ears and wipes out at any given moment.

Guided by his nose, Paco's already discovered the joy of finding a morsel of cat food. And, he's also discovered that felines can be a bit grumpy with a little guy who wants to play all the time. As with Rufus, Clousseau's pretty tolerant. Bud thinks Paco's OK, and Hendrix really doesn't seem to concerned about a puppy's presence. Cato and Spirit whap him without a second thought. (I really think three white cats confuse Paco as to who will play and who won't.) The orange cats can take him or leave him, and Loonis....well, we all know her attitude about anything that invades her space... Paco's just another item in the long list of things that make her barf.

Content to play with an old sock, a leafy branch, or his Boodha Banana toy, Paco loves life. Just as a child, each day brings new milestones - climbing the steps to the porch, rolling down the hill in the side yard, barking for the first time. And boy, oh boy, does he have sharp little teeth and a baby's bladder - Paco, the puddler!

He's fun...he's funny....he's a connection with an innocence and joy about which we humans frequently need a reminder. I'm grateful for him every day for that reminder!

Welcome, to The Farm, Paco!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


In contrast to last week when I slept with two quilts on the bed, the last three days have been brutally hot and humid - - so uncomfortable that all one wants to do is nothing. It's too hot to get out in the garden; too hot to mow the grass (that's not growing anyway); too hot to do much more than nap all day like the cats. With temps in the upper 90's and humidity at about 95%, finding relief becomes quite a challenge. One really feels sorry for the folks that lived "in the olden days" without fans and air conditioning!

The gosh awful heat, however, can't put a halt to good vibration at The Farm. Oh no! We don't let the heat get us down here. The discomfort of our sticky, sweaty bodies cannot hold a candle to the joy that radiates in our heart when The Farm family comes home for a visit.
Here's the scoop:

1. Lori's home for a couple of weeks from Maui and brings The Farm the gift of her beauty and laughter. She and her sister, Whitney, along with Ann and Juliette (age 2) visited for a good while yesterday morning. Juliette's excitement about going to Grandma Huck's to see the "moo cows" made my heart happy.
2. Unfortunately, Dana had to come home for her maternal grandmother's funeral. Fortunately, that means that The Farm family got to spend some time with Wendy (age 1 1/2/). Grandma T. loves Wendy, and when given the chance to play, many of Eliza's old toys come out of the box and back to life with Wendy.
3. Clark and Charlie Buelow, Jack (age 4) and Lucy (age 2) spent a night with us on the 4th. Jack and Grandma T. rode the tractor for hours while Lucy babbled incessantly, pontificating on life in her own language.
4. Caroline and Joe stayed overnight on their way to a craft show the evening after the Buelows left. Six other friends came over for dinner to see them.....Caroline and I took a walk around The Farm while the Joes hung out, and we cooked up some really good food. Seeing Caroline always refreshes me and reminds me of the blessings of decades of friendship.
5. Eliza's home after a month's stay with her dad !!! Graduation, senior trip, work, preparation for college, hanging out with friends, etc. have filled her summer days with fun and anticipation of new beginnings in Cincinnati. And her Farm Mom's delighted Eliza's back at home for a while....Days with her around are quickly passing...University of Cincinnati, here she comes!!
6. Joe has officially begun his trek to Utah to pick up Paco, Rufus's brother from this year's litter. He and I have cleaned out the basement of the barn and made Paco and any other doggie on the way here a Hilton-esque dog lot. Fresh grass, cool and clean concrete floors, a state of the art doghouse (no WiFi, alas), and chain link fencing await our new Farm resident. Oh how happy we are!
7. From a distance we sense Samuel, Bobbi, and Bella's presence. Farm Mom is applying blatant pressure on the three to get their "tushes" home for a few days. Don't know if that's going to happen or not, but if it does, we'll be really, really happy.
8. Despite the heat and certainly encouraged by Joe's consistent watering, the gardens thrive. Cukes, zukes, and good lettuce are on the table....Yummy

Three hummingbirds hovering outside the window remind me that it's feeding time, so I'll venture out in the 8:00 PM humidity and get a move on. Feeling really at peace and grateful for all that's good in our world here at The Farm.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Sunflower blossom (This one is open now)

Beet leaf - Great in salads as I thin out the beets...Beautifully veined in the
afternoon summer sun.

"Maters" - Can't ripen soon enough


Yellow lily from the Boone Farmer's Market~2nd summer in bloom and already
needs to be divided....
Rose of Sharon - Sam moved this bush to the side yard over a decade ago, and it's been covered
with honeysuckle until this year. I chopped for the honeysuckle vine for hours to uncovere
this beautiful bush.

Angel wing begonia blooms from a plant that's over 75 years old.

Another Boone lily from the Farmer's Market....one of my favorite places in Boone.


Afternoon Matinee
(June 27, 2010)
From the driveway patio,
I have the best seat in the house,
for I am the only one witnessing the scenes
on the screen in front of me:
Mr. Mockingbird on top of the telephone pole,
graciously sharing an afternoon concert, or sermon perhaps, that I take in
while the rest of the world seems oblivious to his (incessant) chirping.
("Pretty bird, pretty bird, pretty bird...be a bird, be a bird, be a bird....
and an occasional "SQUAWK" when he comes to an emotional moment.
I've counted about 20 different songs in his afternoon repertoire.)
As hummingbirds whiz about in all directions
and cats snooze at my feet,
our cow neighbors come into view in the upper field -
slowly, steadily, patiently making their
way back toward the barn down the lane.
I listen to the grinding of their teeth
as they chew their cud
and hear an occasional bovine belch,
indicating satisfaction with the field's fare.
There's a rhythm and drone to their
yanking the grass out of the ground
and subsequent chomping.
One pees; another poops.
Not one seems bothered by anything.
Occasionally, a mom will look up to see if
her calf's close by, shifting a glance my
way to check out this zany human
who's peering at her through her
(I think cows are beautiful and interesting...not nearly so dumb
as some people think. The hair at the base of their ears is as
soft as cotton.)
As the breeze picks up a bit,
rustling the leaves and swaying the treetops,
one mama realizes her baby's not in sight.
She bellows loudly...once, twice, three times...
followed by anticipation of a response.
There's a brief silence.....and then,
from behind the pines,
I hear a cry of relief from the little one who's
heard his mom's voice and can discern her location.
(I remember when Samuel
responded to my calls one afternoon when
he was little and had lost his way in the back woods.)
Running frantically,
the less-than-week-old brown calf comes
stumbling across the field....
He's definitely out of breath.
(The rest of the herd has stopped, as well,
to make sure he's OK.)
I totally understand what's taking
place....I've have felt Mama Cow's
momentary panic....and I've
felt her relief at having her calf
back at her side. I've witnessed the release of fear on his face
when a little one realizes he's OK...)
A happy ending before I drift off
for an afternoon nap.


(Since posting photos has become such a frustration, I'll throw in a couple of my journal entries for good measure....Disclaimer: I don't pretend to be a poet or a writer.....just like to record my thoughts and put enough details of my surroundings on paper to conjure up memories and sensations months later...)

In The Side Yard
Warm, afternoon sun
Deflected a bit by the crabapple branches above.
I sit in my new, comfy lawn chair, savoring
the gentle breeze that neutralizes the heat a bit.
Soft low notes from the wind chimes
allow me to enjoy music brought on by the breeze.
I love their deep, mellow tones.
My lilies are in bloom
across the driveway. All sorts of finches
have devoured another tube of nyger seed
hanging from the chestnut trees near the lilies..
The little birds' splashes of yellow and cranberry complement
the color of my flower gardens.
Kwan Yin smiles serenely from her sandstone block perch,
and she awaits the soft mulch from the chestnut blooms
to be swept around the ferns that thrive in the shade around her.
Butterflies flock to the my K-Mart butterfly bush.
It's surpassed me in height.
The tomatillos thrive in my new planting spot, and
Grandma Shook's dahlia's pushing toward its first blossom.
The intoxicating scent of the brugmansia flowers on the south side of my room
combined with the sweet smell of the lilies outside my bathroom
entice me into a sexy snooze in my lawn chair.
I'm home. It's summer. And there's peace, sweet peace
here at The Farm.
(June 24, 2010)


Now that June has flown by, I realize Namasté has been idle for over a month. In a nutshell (and for the annals of farm history), here's the list of happenings:

1. Eliza graduated in the top twenty of her class late in May. Petie, Myra, and Samuel all came home, and we got to spend almost a week together in celebration of Eliza's exit from Warren High School. A good time all around....senior awards night, the actual graduation celebration, and then Eliza's graduation party here at The Farm....perfect weather, a perfect ceremony, a perfect fiesta in her honor. I think Eliza was most pleased.....and so was I !!

2. A week and a half later, I hurried through exams and headed off to Cincinnati for my annual summer work with the ETS AP Reading. Surrounded by over 1,000 Spanish professors, I worked full days, spent time with close friends, networked with many, many folks for whom I have high regard as colleagues, and play a bit in Cincinnati.....another rainy Reds game, nice walks along the river, and our annual dinner at Bootsy's with a cochinillo prepared Cuban-style.

3. Since I've been home, I've spent a good deal of time working on the Evergreen Arts & Humanities Series......gratis work for Washington State Community College....It takes me away from the farm on some days, but I've managed to balance my time at home with my time away.

4. The garden and our flowers are THRIVING! Potter Joe and Farm Mom have been farming away, and the results of our labors are reflected in huge tomatillo plants, scads of onions, lettuce, squash, cukes, and tomaters. The garden's just beginning to come in. Give it another two weeks, and canning and freezing will be a daily event here. Lilies, coneflowers, nasturiums, butterfly bushes, zinnias, sunflowers add splashes of color all over the farm.....And the Farm Mom couldn't be happier.

5. A new bassett hound, Paco, will be arriving at the farm in a little over 10 days. Joe will drive to Utah to pick up one of Rufus's brothers.....(new litter / same parents)...and we can hardly wait.

6. I'm beginning to move into relaxation after a very stressful year at work.....Every day my gratitude for The Farm grows to a deeper level, as I can feel peace and tranquility embracing me on every side. I feel like I'm on v-cation (as Eliza used to say) at my home.....I don't have to leave to find peace, and I love that feeling.

7. Farm family updates:
a. Lori's coming home tomorrow, I believe !!!!
b. Brett and Betsy should be home soon.
c. Joe leaves for Utah next week for a whirlwind trip to pick up Paco.
d. Eliza returns to The Farm from her dad's on Saturday.
e. Samuel's signed a lease for a new apartment and will be moving in July to a safer neighborhood in DC.
f. Andrew leaves July 31st for Susaki City in Japan for a year's teaching with the JET program.
g. We're keeping our fingers crossed that Bobbi and Isabella will come home in August for a few days.
h. I'm looking forward to a possible trip to Miami for a few days in August OR I'm going to try to see if Laida will come this way.

(NOTE: My dinosaur computer is being really grouchy about posting photos, so until I get a new computer, Namasté, might be lacking in visuals.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


For me, she'll always be the little girl who talked to fairies in the back woods, who was born with a passion for horses, who loved to play Little House on the Prairie paper dolls, who spent hours in her imagination as an animal trainer with Annie and Molly, who loved to play school, who chopped off one of her pigtails in a moment of daring curiosity, who used to run around the farm with no clothes, who was (and still is) absorbed by Harry Potter and his adventures......

I look at her now and marvel at her beauty, her grace, her creativity, and her resiliency. She's traveled between two houses for more than half of her life and done so with little complaint. She's been a leader in every activity in which she's been involved, and she's excelled as a student in advanced classes in school. She possesses a level of empathy that surpasses that of most adults when it comes to feeling for those less fortunate. She's respected by her peers and teachers alike, and she's wise beyond her years.

That's my Eliza Caroline.....18 years old, a soon-to-be graduate of Warren High School and future chemistry major at the University of Cincinnati. Congratulations dear one.....may you be forever blessed.....may you always be abundantly embraced by happiness and joy.....may you thrive in body, mind, and spirit and know my love for you is infinite and limitless!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are truly the light of my life!

Sunday, May 09, 2010


(Image by Cecilia Carlstedt)

It's early morning here at The Farm, and I'm alone at the moment. Eliza's gone to work, and Joe's asleep, exhausted after a visit to see friends in Columbus for a few days.

It's Mother's Day....I reflect upon the gift of still having my beloved Petie (91) and the love I feel for her every moment of the day. I remember her mother, Bertha Stevenson, and can still see her at the stove in her kitchen in Taylorsville, NC - worn-to-threads apron tied around her waist with a hankerchief in her pocket to wipe her mouth after she spit her tobacco juice in her snuff jar. (I loved sitting in her rocking chair by the window in her room and watching the yellow parakeet she kept on the table beside the rocker).

And then, there's Grandma Shook - less than a year in her grave and more alive in my heart than ever. As I look into my irises and as I prepare to get my dahlias in the ground, her hands join my hands as the soils crumbles between our fingers and the earthworms wiggle in our palms. From the spirit world, she guides me - in every way she guides me.

Being a mom hasn't always been the easiest thing for me. I suppose the job description and the pressures one feels trying to live up to society's and personal expectations make it amost impossible for any woman to feel totally adequate at the task at any given moment...But, I feel safe and secure for Eliza as a mother. Whenever she decides to have children, she has a good role models to invoke and a mom who'll be right there along the way with her.

I've always been embraced by strong women - in my family, in my sisterhood of friendships, as my colleagues, and in the animal world. Cheers and huge gratitude to them all, wherever they are, wherever they rest. .


Sunday, May 02, 2010


(Left to right: Gerb, Eliza, Derek, DeeDee, Sarah, Gordon, Lexie, Travis)
A proud Farm Mom would call this group The Farm Kids. Regular spend-the-nighters, refrigerator raiders, laugh until dawn, snore like old people, friends.
I'm so proud of them, and photographing them on prom day filled my heart with JOY!!
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Eliza Wilder & Brian (Ethan) Gerber, aka: Gerb

Travis Thrasher & Lexie Santini

DeeDee Carver & Derek Fox

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Thirteen years ago, two little corgis were born to a not so nice human on a farm near the stables where Eliza was taking horseback riding lessons. To make a long story short - sisters, Annie and Molly, came to live here at The Farm to join our family. They've been here through a lot of adventures and upheavals, always steadfast in their unconditional love and their instinctual urge to herd cows, dogs, turkeys, deer, or any other animals they encountered in the yard or fields.
In the past year, I watched age catch up with them. Molly passed away last fall, leaving Annie to hold down the fort, so to speak, with Rufus, the silly bassett hound. Much to our surprise, Rufus followed Molly to the world of spirit within weeks of her passing, and Annie became
the sole doggie at The Farm, a minority of one canine among seven felines. One of her great pleasures was to sneak on the back porch to munch their food when the cats weren't looking...There is no dog food that rivals the strong taste of what the cats get to eat.
Of the two sisters, Annie was always the most sensitive. Her feelings showed on her face as clearly as if she were human....big smiles...sad eyes at times....intolerance of Rufus's silly escapades....aggression when it came to her place as alpha dog around feeding time.
Infinitely patient, Annie would let children roll all over her and sleep with their head on her back. As a little girl, Eliza spent hours in her pretend world as an animal trainer, and with that look of "oh no, here we go again," Annie would jump the lower limbs of the grape vines over and over and over as Eliza instructed.
What will remain most vividly in my mind about Annie is the image of her short, stubby tail that whirled into motion every time she said hello. Annie literally wagged her entire butt. When she would hear me say, "How's my sweet Annie Bananny," the chubby little stub took off and a huge smile burst across her face - 100% of the time!
It was obvious over the winter that Annie was slowing down, sleeping a lot, feeling the arthritis in her hips more and more, and whimpering a bit in her sleep. Two weeks ago, we noticed she seemed to have some seizure-like trembling spells, and in the last week, I knew something drastic was happening in her body.
A trip to the vet last Tuesday confirmed she was seriously ill, and by Thursday, I knew the time had come for her to join her beloved Molly and Rufus in the world of spirit. With Joe's hands on her tummy, I held her close and talked to her as she let go of her last exhale. Tom was there as well, supporting me along the way.
Shortly thereafter, Tom, Joe, and I lay Annie to rest in the side yard under the chestnut tree beside Molly. I've cried enough tears to water The Farm....huge tears of sadness as we closed the page of another chapter of life and love in Farm history and huge tears of gratitude and LOVE for one of the best friends I've ever had.
Perhaps it sounds a bit juvenile, but an image of great consolation for me is of Molly, Rufus, and Annie chasing everything from butterflies to birds in the fields of the spirit world with my dad and grandmother watching them from a distance. Old Gunner and Tornado amble by, plop down beside Daddy and shake their heads as the corgis and Rufus take to the woods after a rabbit. Daddy pulls out his crow call, and he and Grandma look to the sky as it fills with crows. A grouse drums in the woods in the distance , and up in the side yard, my friend, Pepín, feeds the goldfinches from his hands....
I learned a lot about love this week, and I thank Annie for being the teacher in those lessons.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Elegant yellow hibiscus

Red amaryllis #2

Sweet purple crocuses

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Elegant white crocuses with brilliant saffron pistals

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


She's one intense cat! Look into those eyes, and there's no question about her mood at any given time.

She's grumpy! The best way to get real love from Loonis is to leave her alone - let her lie on your legs for hours without touching her. Even the most gentle stroke of love down her spine could quite possibly produce a hiss, spit, and smack with her left front paw. Yes, she's a southpaw.

She's beautiful! The fur on the bottom of her feet is the softest thing I've ever touched. She's so gray that she looks blue, and when she's combed (a difficult chore given her "friendly" moods), she's as regal as any cat alive.

Loonis is intelligent! One can see a very bright mind in her facial expressions and eyes.

And she's incredibly playful - on her own terms, of course. I've learned to watch out for my head as I walk downstairs, for Loonis hides and waits for me. When I least expect it, she jumps out from her hiding place and pounds me on the noggin, jumps up and scoots away. She's been known to run back and forth through the house chasing her imaginary mice friends, and Loonis likes to play fetch, especially when I'm at the computer.

Many mornings I wake up with the face in this picture about 1/4 " from my nose. If I ignore her, Loonis scoots up even closer and paws at me to rub her. If I do, I could likely get whammed. If I don't, I could likely get whammed.

That's Loonis...

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Snow Heart: From last weekend's walk...It's been warm enough to melt off almost all the snow in the back field this week.

TJ Maxx Buddha, Guardian of the Back Field, survived an intensely snowy winter with only a little loss of color and bird poop on his head.
Hendrix the cat, posing in front of the garage door, which he had just sprayed when I walked up with my camera in hand. He, of course, denied having done anything that would even appear like urine on the garage door. He's sure it was Clouseau or Spirit.
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