Saturday, December 17, 2011


It's a gray morning today, December 17, 2011, but the spirit of love and family radiates like a brilliant splash of sun in the heart here at The Farm. The Earth's taking on her muted palate for the upcoming months, only to make the reds, blues, and raspberry colors of the birds at our feeder look like the bare trees' holiday ornaments. Although there have been moments in 2011 that have brought up the antithesis of joy, we have grown in our understanding of them as part of life's cycle.  Ultimately, we sustain our life in peace, happiness, friendships, good health and laughter,and for that I'm thankful...very thankful indeed.  Love and joy define our world at The Farm.

After this school year, I'll have only three more to teach before I retire!  I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and fantasizing about all the possibilities that await when I don't have to define my life by the ever-changing demands of education. Watch out world...Señora Wilder's about to emerge as a feisty retiree!  :0)

I spend a lot of time alone at the farm with two corgis, Mac and MerryBelle, frequently acknowledging that my life is more like that of a member of a pack than a human being.  The dogs are work, both physically and emotionally; however, what I reap from life with them can't be quantified by words. If one were to be a fly on the wall on a daily basis here at The Farm, he/she would hear a lot of barking and laughing.  The pups remind me to play, and I participate in rambunctious games of tug-of-war with socks, fetch with Bessy The Cow, and chase more than once every day.  Mac's a total goofball, and MerryBelle's learning to let go and have fun.  (She is an adopted corgi mix and came to The Farm from a Corgi Rescue group.  It's obvious someone was unkind to her. Trust doesn't come to her easily.)

I'm still involved with advocating on behalf of human rights and the Cuba situation. Working with my twin sister of a different mother, Laida Carro, is quite an honor, for Laida tirelessly and selflessly defends those who suffer on the island.  Cuba's in a real mess, and not nice things happen to innocent people every day there. I've learned a great deal of patience from working in human rights, and Laida continues to inspire me to keep the plight of others at the forefront of my thoughts. I hope to go to Cuba some day to work with people who have no idea what the world's all about.

On any given day, one can find me working with my photographs, knitting, gardening, working crosswords, or doing a bit of writing. This year, I also became an "officiant" (I hestitate to use the term 'minister.') via the internet and was the celebrant at the marriage of Stepnahie Garoza and Ryan Brandt. (The photographer referred to me as "Pastor."  I had to giggle.) My life is full, certainly not dull, and as I approach my 60th birthday in 2012, I hope to share the thought that we need not take things too seriously....That approach really does take the pressure off, so I've found out along the way.

Samuel has one more semester to go in his MFA program at American University. Although I don't think he's in love with DC yet, I do believe he has had some amazing experiences there and has made lifelong connections, both professionally and personally.  Recently he's gotten some great feedback on his poetry, and he's translated poems by a Cuban writer, Manuel Vázquez Portal, that his profs encourage him to publish, along with his own orgininal work. He's moved from a basement apartment on the fringe of a questionable neighborhood to his current pad in Georgetown as he supports himself by bartending while going to school.  I'll hand it to him - he's busted his butt off for the last three years, dealt with a myriad of issues, and succeeded to carve out a place in his program for which I hope he will be rewarded.  I'll see him for the first time in a year in Boone next week....Can't wait to get a Sammy hug! I'm so proud of him!

Eliza successfully completed organic chemistry and physics this past quarter and seems to be quite happy picking up some shifts at Bob Evans over break.  This woman has spent hours and hours in classes, labs, recitations, help sessions, and her own study routine during Fall Quarater. Sometimes I look at her and am overwhelmed by her beauty, inside and out. Eliza's got spunk, and she's got ambition, and she's got a great sense of humor. Witnessing her define her goals and go for them is a great lesson for me, for she is graceful as well as determined in her process. I'm so proud of her!  Having her at home at the moment is the best !!

I don't hear a lot from Bobbi and Isabella, which indicates all's well and they're busy, busy, busy...Bobbi's business thrives, and Isabella's activities fill in her "spare" time. Isabella's attending a very demanding private school in Philly. A goal is to see them this's been way too long since we got silly together!

My mom turned 93 last week...a role model for us all! She's amazing in every way!.  Myra, my sister, has had a challenging year at her work, but she has weathered the office woes gracefully and powerfully.  I hold her in high regard. 

In other Farm news flashes of the year:

1.  The Farm Family welcomed Nathaniel Grayson Potash into our circle of love!. Brett and Betsy are parents! Little Nate decided to arrive on December 13th, a special day in the Shook family since he now shares a birthday with Samuel and my sister, Myra.  As Brett described his birth to me, it took me back to that (almost) same moment 26 years ago to Samuel's arrival - uncanny similarities in their birth process and quick arrivals. I simply can't wait to meet the little guy and hold him in my arms!  Joy, joy, joy....(see for photos.  The smile on Brett's face says it all!)

2.  In May, Meera got married to Eric Schell.  I've poured over the photos of their wedding time and time again because the beauty of the day, the ceremony, the happiness on Eric's and Meera's faces define the best in love and adoration.  Meera Chary is perhaps the most beautiful bride I've ever seen! You can see a photo of her if you go back a few months on my blog roll.

3.  Dana and James moved to Alaska where the temperature has already sunk to -40 degrees and sustained light is not happening at this time of the year. The distance seems insurmountable; however, the job opportunity for James was such that he couldn't pass it by.  Dana's recently gotten a job with the University of Alaska, as well. Little Wendy, now 3, sounds like a fascinating little girl - bright and independent. I love the videos of her telling jokes and singing her favorite songs.

4.  Joe moved to Oregon to assume a position in ceramics at Mount Hood Community College. His departure from The Farm was emotionally difficult on a lot of levels, and our plans for 37 tomato plants was quickly redefined once I began the process of trying to keep up with them. Anyway, José's now in Portland, where he's working to establish himself in his job and get his own work off the ground. Opportunities for Joe abound in Oregon; opportunities for Joe in the Mid-Ohio Valley were not abundant. Paco took the cross country trip in stride and is none the worse for having spent five days on the road.

5.  Lori and Chris hold down the fort on Maui. Lori continues to work for the Kroeger family and travels about with them throughout the world.  She and Chris have two dogs and cats that fill their space with love and energy. What I love about Lori is the beauty and grace, accompanied by humorous moments, with which she approaches life. Chris is a great guy with a beautiful smile and easy spirit. They'll be home for Christmas, and we'll see them after our trip to NC.  Can't wait to hug their necks!!

6.  When Christy, Sophie, and Oberon visit The Farm, we play and laugh. One of the things I look forward to in the coming year includes spending more time with those three. I so enjoy having them here, for we have fun, play games, and are constantly surrounded with lots of active, high-spirited dog energy.

7.  Tom and Chintu seem to be settled in to life in Cleveland. I miss having them close. Tom works for a legal firm in the city, and Chintu's doing research in a post-doc at Cleveland Clinic. One of my commitments to 2012 is to visit them in the city.  Those "fellers" define love, sincere and committed love.  It doesn't get any better.

8.  Andrew came home from Japan for a two week visit this summer, and boy, oh boy, is he having the time of his life!  Tall, slender, focused, totally absorbed by life in Japan, Andrew is living out an amazing adventure. His passion for clay has taken off, and he's taking in every opportunity possible to live his life in Japan to the fullest.  It was a complete JOY to have a couple of visits with him.  Norm and Diane are planning to visit him in the spring!!

Visits with Peg, my childhood friend and partner in crime, and her daughter, Alexa; with Betsy and Bill Schadel; with Caroline Koons and Joe Henderson; with my college roomate, Bink, and her husband, David, and an occasional dinner with Diane and Norm make for fond memories of 2011.  All in all, it's been a great year...jam-packed with connections and laughter...I couldn't ask for more....

This epistle is much more lengthy than I had anticipated, but it catches all up on life here.  As I continue to be amazed and in awe of life's gifts and curves,  I am humbled by the many blessings I enjoy on a daily basis, and I hope folks, wherever they are when they read this,  can catch a bit of the love and delight life brings our way....

Love, infinite love and and always..


PS:  Red Wolf sends his greetings..After 25 years of trying, he thinks he's hatched THE special plan for seeing Santa this year. He's one persistent dude!

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