Sunday, February 23, 2014


It's that monochromatic time of the year. Lots of gray, brown, white, non-vibrant blue-gray.  There are moments when I long for splashes of color when I step outside, but there is beauty in its absence during these winter months. 
So here's the barn during the last snowstorm. The structure has a wonderful history...a wonderful incredibly useful purpose here at The Farm. It has weathered the years of wind, rain, heat and frigid temps gracefully. Taking direct hits from storms that move in from the west, the ole' girl has stood proudly for over a hundred years. I believe she's one of the oldest, largest barns in the area, and I'd sure give her a makeover in a heartbeat if lottery winnings came my way. 
Fog settles on the river frequently; however the morning I took this picture, it hung particularly dense and heavy under the bridge between Marietta and Williamstown.  At one  point, I couldn't discern where the bridge ended and land began.  Perspective and distance were rather redefined, and the fog perfectly held the image of the bridge above it.
The Buddha has many faces, and I love that wherever I encounter him, he's wearing his "half-smile." The dude's never in a grouchy mood, and there's a great deal to be said about that - -a consistent reminder to evaluate what's really serious in life.  I find when I do, I eliminate a lot of needless angst while gaining perspective on joy and happiness, despite problematic moments.  This Buddha was sitting on the floor in a local antique store, pretty much out of view. He watched a lot of feet pass by, and still, he smiled his Buddha smile.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


The Week In Review: I've had a very good week, and I'm a happy me. As I sit at the computer now, snow's swirling outside after an additional 2" fell over night.  Two corgis are playing "I Can Bark Louder than You" at the base of the stairs, and I'm into my second cup of coffee. 

It's silent outside, just the way I love a good snowy morning.....

Here's a summary of the last 7 days:

1. Last Saturday, I met Emma, a sweet, beautiful little red-headed girl whose mom brought her to see Dr. Insecta. Emma, who has some physical and cognitive challenges, liked spiders, and she really liked coming to see Dr. Insecta. Emma touched my heart, as well as Dr. Insecta's. Her photo with Dr. Insecta made it on the Evergreen Arts & Humanities Facebook page!

2. I've witnessed people all over the country respond to a spur-of-the-moment call to help people in WV who need water. Two students, Jake and Kristian, really came through during the project: Jake purchased $50 of water for the cause, saving me from having to do it, and Kristian donated his Friday morning to loading and then unloading almost 700 gallons of water. I love solidarity; I love introducing people to the effectiveness of grass roots activism, and I especially love the idea that people are willing to help others. 

3. Students in my small writing class showed great progress, as well as a willingness to try a rather challenging assignment. I am venturing away from the established syllabus and creating my own approach to instruction in this class.  I firmly believe that when given enough example and encouragement, anyone can learn to write, and by crackies, we're going for it! 

4. I read and re-read the love notes people long ago wrote on Valentines that are now a part of my collection - sweet, sweet expressions of love. The old-fashioned names, like Pearl, Delbert, Tilley, and Lester, bring smiles to my face, as do their flirtatious messages that had to be a little daring for the time! 

5. The corgis and I have had some great play, and I see an improvement in MerryBelle's gimpy leg, thank goodness. Mac is an absolute hoot as he bounces through the drifts.  His coat has thickened by several layers, and the cold is as refreshing to him as air conditioning is to people on a scorching summer day. I'm using the snow as physical therapy for MerryBelle and her lame knees / hips.  She can't run in leaps and bounds in the snow, which is good at this point, but it does provide strength conditioning as she plows her way after Mac.

6. Flocks of bluebirds have greeted me every day as I've driven down the driveway, their blue a beautiful color against the snowy landscape. I really don't recall seeing large quantities of them this early in the year here at the farm,, and I welcome their return.  

7. My orchids are glorious, and my African violets are thriving, despite sitting in the draft of the heating grate. In a couple of weeks, I should have 8 orchids in full bloom.  Today, I'm headed out to bring in the amaryllises for repotting.  I quite behind on bringing them out, I must confess.

8. My family's thriving: Eliza's undergraduate research has been acknowledged in a paper presented in Hiroshima, Japan, and Samuel got word of an impending publication. Nothing brings me more satisfaction than witnessing the lives of my children. Both are thriving at the moment, and for that, I offer a thousand thanks a second to the Universe. Mom, at  95, continues to amaze me--she's healthy, active enough, involved in the lives of those she loves, and spirited (on the borderline of stubborn) in her ideas. What a blessing! 

9. I've really, really enjoyed the snow this winter. Deep within, I associate the feeling to being in Boone as a child during some of our snowy winters. There have been a couple of days when snow sparkles really ignited joy in my heart. For one who has a tendency to plummet during the winter, succumbing to SAD, the snow's bright reflection and the silence/peace  of snowy days at home have made for a peaceful, productive (somewhat) Farm Mom.

10. Knitting needles have been clicking, and yarn has been sliding through my fingers. As evidenced in other aspects of my life, I have several unfinished projects in the works. The older I get, the more I realize I'm prone to begin many projects with undetermined completion times!

The list could go on and on, but I'm eager to get outdoors, feed the birds, check out the lay of the land, and plan my day, which MUST include a bit of cleaning!

Love to all on this day after Valentines!

Saturday, February 08, 2014


Yesterday afternoon, the skies cleared, the sun re-emerged after a good 4-5 days of absence. The temps rose above 10 degrees, and a friend and I decided to take one of our spur-of-the-moment "v-cations" (as Eliza used to say). 
We contemplated lunching at the local Chinese restaurant where the cooks are nice enough not to prepare MSG-laden food, but then the idea struck me to go to the Boat House, a restaurant/bar situated along the Ohio River.  The afternoon sun radiated off the snow and water, and the window-enclosed addition to the bar provided a setting as close as one could come to actually being outside on this deceptively warm-looking afternoon.
There was no traffic along the river, except for the Great Blue Herons who were out in abundance, gliding gracefully up and down the river. I absolutely stand in awe of these large graceful birds;  for many a year, they've been a source of great inspiration for me, especially when I didn't feel like I could stand on one leg, support myself, and maintain my balance (figuratively.)
(We watched numbers of these majestic birds flying along the edge of the water, just like the one pictured here.
 Photo credit:  unknown) 
I have to my friend with a heap of patience, for when one of the Great Blues would fly by, I would immediately lose our thread of conversation.  I am always mesmerized by these birds, and as one would come into view, I fixed on it until it was out of sight. 
Then I witnessed something absolutely amazing! One was flying up the middle of the river when I saw him approaching the water as if to land. There were small ice floes there that he probably thought would support him, and as he got very close to the water, he looked as if he were going to dive for a fish, but much to his surprise, I think, he completely submerged under the water.  He re-emerged quickly thereafter and began to attempt to take flight.  With his neck fully extended toward the sky, he started flapping his wings in an effort to lift his body out of the water.  It was very obvious the task was a daunting one, for he couldn't ascend high enough to start flapping his wings in forward motion.  At that point, he went back down. I sensed his panic, as well as my own. 
The huge bird again stretched his neck at a 90-degree angle to the sky and started short, rapid mini-flaps with his wings.  Again, he really looked like he was depending on the strength of his neck muscles to help him get high enough for his wings to move without hitting water. 
(I'm sure the two men seated a couple of tables down from us were pretty much unaware of what was going on.  They had not noticed any of the many GB's that had flown by during the time they sat there, talking about something immensely boring and political.)
OK, the next part of the story might seem a little bizarre for some, but as I watched the bird struggle to regain flight, I felt a surge of energy inside me leave my body in a beam directly aimed at the GBH.  I could feel the vibration leaving my body through my third eye, and I could hear myself telling the creature how close he was to gaining enough height to fly forward.  I felt like an energy-possessed cheerleader, assuring him he could make it - he was so close to taking off! And sure enough, he struggled a few seconds longer until he could start flapping to lift himself up and start up river.
That's not the end of the story, however.  I "re-entered the atmosphere" long enough to catch my breath and continue the conversation with my friend, only to "feel" the bird once again, as if he were calling my name.  As I turned to look at the river, my GBH friend had turned from north to west and was flying directly toward me --dead on, directly toward me!  He flew past the river's edge toward the Boat House and then dropped down on the bank just below where I was sitting.  I heard him calling, but I didn't see him for another 5 minutes or so until he took off flying south. By that time, my friend was as engaged in what was happening as I, and as the heron went down river, both of us just sat for a few seconds with our mouths wide open - -We had just had a most special encounter with Mother Nature and her incredible fisherman, the Great Blue Heron.
(photo credit: unknown)
My close encounters with Great Blue Herons are too numerous to relate here, but suffice to say, I've always thought of this majestic creature as one of my totems, a guiding animal spirit.  Their connection to both air and water provides good balance for me as a Virgo (a double Virgo, at that) who can use a little urging from time to time to take a break from her Earth pull.
And, I like what Ted Andrews says about the Great Blues in his book, Animal-Speak:  The heron's long legs "...are symbols of balance, and they represent the ability to think and evolve. The longer the legs...the deeper life can be explored. The long thin legs of the heron reflect that you don't need massive pillars to remain stable, but you must be able to stand on your own. This is especially significant for those with a totem of the great blue heron, as it is a lone hunter....GBHs stand out in their uniqueness, and they know how to snatch and take advantage of things and events the average person doesn't bother with....The GBH is powerful in takes aggressive movement toward opportunities that present themselves."
I watched the heron yesterday rely on its instinct and strength to rescue itself from the icy waters.  I feel blessed and energized for the unique experience of our connection.  I can't  stop thinking about what I witnessed, both with the bird and within myself.

Monday, February 03, 2014


Snow days were never a problem at our house. When the kids were at home more than likely, either their dad or I would be at home along with them.  So, my immediate association of having a day away from work is one of fun times:  cooking a pot of soup, sledding, walking in the fields, playing board games or putting a puzzle together. Just like when I was a kid.
Even though I'm at the farm by myself these days, I still enjoy the silence and peace of snow days.  This morning the corgis and I walked the back field in 7" of virgin snow.  I worked up a good sweat under my layers while they panted and plowed a path ahead of me.  Mac, in particular, gets really frisky as he bounces through the powdery blanket of cold stuff that's as high as his shoulders, and MerryBelle loves to turn her head to the sky and catch snowflakes as they fall - much like I remember doing as a child. A lone robin accompanied us part of the way, hopping from bush to bush along the fence line.  I'm sure her delight with this touch of winter was much less that that of the corgis' and mine. I sensed a tone of complaint rather than joy in her song - understandably so.

Once back from the woods, the adventurer in me had to check out the road situation.  Actually, what I really wanted to do was see if the Subaru would make it to the end of the driveway in the deep snow.  Sure enough, it did, and I drove into the gas station to fill up .My mobility might be compromised, however, if the wind picks up and brings about some drifts!
I also find that snow days allow me to feel free to play as if I had nothing else to do.  This afternoon, I've pulled out my colored pencils and paper stash and made a little book.  I've added a few inches to Eliza's sweater, and soon, I'll cook up something good.  From my desk, I can look out and watch the birds at the feeder, and they always bring me great joy. Music has filled the house all day, just as it does in the summer when I'm home during the day.  Boredom isn't a problem, that's for sure!  If anything, I have a hard time deciding in which direction to focus my play!
Most of all, snow days always bring up memories of my childhood in Boone - days during which I would spend time on a sled racing down a hill or playing with Richard next door. I remember skiing at my cousins' house one winter, and I can taste the hot chocolate (made from scratch) Mom always had ready for us once we came in.  I miss Boone in the winter maybe more than the summer: frosted trees and snow-covered mountains tower there in the winter in every direction - awesome spectacles!

As the sun has come out this afternoon, the snow glitter sparkles.  Perhaps, I'll build a fire....It's not that cold, but doing so seems appropriate, and I'm sure Mac and MerryBelle will enjoy a long nap once the flames begin to heat up the hearth....

(In all honesty, I'm hoping for another day at home tomorrow!)