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

Posted by PicasaSarah Parker & Gordon Fleming


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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.