Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Getting Ready

I looked out the window today while sitting in a meeting and what do I see? Light, fluffy snowflakes dancing from the sky. It was beautiful. Not! Like every other gardener this time of year, I've been busy pouring over the seed catalogs that began arriving as far back as December. My new seed for this year is pak choy - and I'm so excited! I planted a bit of spinach, lettuce, and arugula in my indoor planter. With a little bit of luck - the cats will leave it alone - and I'll have some fresh greens for my salads.

Last year in my hurry to start the growing season, I started tomato plants way too soon. My husband's grandmother who just turned 90 last year, has tomato planting down pat. I should follow her lead. But this time of year, there are only really root vegetables. I'm a little tired of carrots and potatoes.

But I'm not the only one anxiously awaiting summer. At the moment, all three of my kids are busy drawing posters and pictures to enter into the Grange Fair that is held every August. In case you are wondering, there are 185 days until the start of Grange Fair. Dinner tonight was a pleasant cacophony of plans to show cows and horses, to grow corn to sell for spending money, to using the saw to make a wooden cow to enter. Each one trying talk over the other in their excitement.
The chickens, too, apparently are planning ahead. We are getting tons of eggs! So many that we are giving them away. It is February 22 and we are closer to the start of spring than we are to the start of winter.
It is all good.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Perfect Day!

What a gorgeous day! Tagging onto a previous post about interest inventorys, personality tests, and such, I decided to follow some advice about positive visualization.

I've decided to visualize myself as being happy, as waking up happy, as not being upset about the craziness of my home.

I've actually used visualization in the past. I use it alot when I run: visualize myself running strong, breathing in positive area, exhaling negative energy and it has worked for me. I sometimes visualize myself winning some great race- but that is metophoric for winning the great race against my mind and all the negative thoughts that prevent me from accomplishing my dream.

But on a day like today, I don't even need visualization. It truly was beautiful, I was happy, and I was grateful. I spent the weekend with people I love. It was nice to spend time outside with the animals and even though there will be no spring babies this year, the blue sky, peaceful air, chirping birds gave the promise of new beginnings. Spring seems nearer than ever. And though I didn't like to wish away my life, I must say that I am very excited to see the new life of spring.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I used to think that interest inventorys and personality tests were wastes of time. I guess if you rely on them to excuse yourself or to foresee your future, they may be. But as part of my new job, I was required to take a personality inventory - we all were - and we met with the testers as a group to discuss how the different personalities could work effectively together.

Interesting enough, us group of advisers tested high in 'helpfulness'. Obviously that wasn't a surprise to anyone.

But some of things reveal on the test were especially interesting to me. I scored in such a way on the sensitivity indicator that indicated that I was extremely sensitive to any type of criticism. Which is true. If anything even hints of criticsm-positive or otherwise - I beat myself up six million ways.

Another measurement (can't remember what it was called) indicated that I was more like to explain and explain and explain. True. Before I tell a story or even say something, I feel as if I have to preface everything with history.

No surprise to me, I'm very introverted. I've always known that. I've always preferred keeping to myself. To listen rather than talk.

I sat thinking in this meeting about how I communicate with my family. I know I don't consider their own communication styles. Does the way I speak with my daughter have a different affect than someone speaking that way to me? Does the way my son deal with schoolwork show up in his personality style?

No. I don't think that personality tests are the endall in figuring out oneself. But I think the tests can definitely give cause to consider some possibilities and to remind us that not everyone perceives things in the same way, processes information at the same speed, or communicates with the same motivation.

While I'm not sure that I will remember the communication tips given to us for long, I do think that the testing will affect the way I look at and communicate with the people around me.

And there's not a thing wrong with that.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No wonder I'm nuts

My life. Still struggling with a nasty cold, I have been taking Nyquil at night to quell my coughing so I can sleep. I'm successful until about 2:00 am. I've been waking up and watching the Olympics until I fall back asleep. I wake up at 5:45 so that I can run, feed the animals, and start my day peacefully. But, in a Nyquil induced stupor, I fall back to sleep until 6:15.

When I wake up this time of year, the dogs don't wake up - not until it is light which lately is around 6:25. I quickly fill up 4 water jugs, dampen my hair, wash my face, drink a half cup of coffee, put on my coveralls and holler to the kids for the first time to wake up. At this point, the big dogs are pacing back and forth and following me every (and I mean every) step of the way. So I let them out. I grab Birdman Joe and take him out to spend about 10 minutes outside while I feed the chickens. Now if Max, the farm chihuahua, decides to start barking at something - I have to put him in the house because once he starts barking, he won't stop.

We live on a hill. With the packed snow, it is very difficult to get down to the animals safely. Last year when we had all the ice, I would slide the water jugs down the hill and then sit down and slide on my butt. It was very efficient. And quick. Going back up the hill to the deck, however, posed some problems. Sebastian, being the kind and thoughtful dog, would usually let me grab hold of his collar and he would help me up the hill.
After the first trip back up to the house to put Birdman Joe and Max back in the house, I would haul down the first couple jugs of water. And it is the horses turn to be given their hay. Which I do. And I have to do it exactly next because if I don't, Snowball will follow me and try to stick his head in my pocket in search of a snack. We are all big on snacks-horses, goats, dogs, people- so I usually have horse treats or sugar cubes in my pockets and all the animals know it. On days my pockets are empty, I complete my animal feedings a little quicker.
Once the horses, goats, and Dolly Llama gets their hay, it is time to break up the ice and give everyone fresh water. By this time, I am ignored by everyone and that is fine. In the meantime, the big dogs are waiting for me up on the porch. And it is time for me to quickly change into my work clothes, make sure the kids are set for the bus, and to head to work myself. More times than not, I have hay in my hair or stuck to my clothes.
I'm crazy. Nuttier than a fruitcake. With all my disorganization, I should be the last person to have animals. But it works for me. And seemingly for them. I'll never have a sparkling clean, aesthetically pleasing farm or home - much of my stuff is held together with bailing twine or stakes or some other thing I've been able to grab.
I'm more into experiences than I am into appearances and I know that sometimes my older kids have been mortified by this. But the last time I visited, I saw that my daughter had a big roll of duct tape.
I think she's coming around.

It is catching.

It is snowing again. I'm just saying it. Putting it out there. Not going to write about it.
I've been wondering about this for a while. I've even done some amateur experimentation on the subject. That is about smiles.

I've noticed that there seems to be a lack of smiles among my age group. A shockingly noticeable lack of smiles.

On a day during which I had some spare time to think about things other than students, I started wondering why there seemed to be such a trend against smiles.

I walked across campus and smiled like an imbecile at everyone and made note of those who smiled and those who didn't. Most of the times, the students smiled back. Often it was a leery smile - but a smile nonetheless. People who appeared to be around my age not only didn't smile but didn't even make eye contact. Most of the time.

I wonder why on a beautiful campus, on a beautiful day (it wasn't snowing), so many people walked around with their eyes to the ground with not a smile on their face. Maybe if they made a pact to smile at those around them, their mood would change - or maybe just reflect what they are feeling inside - and what a positive thing that would be!

Who can resist a smile?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Birdman Joe and the Great Outdoors

I thought I had it rough. But I never stopped to consider how it must feel to be barely 8 inches tall in 14 inches of snow.

Poor Birdman Joe - the other farm chihuahua - he has to walk himself outside. On his own leash.

He gets a little irritated that all of the other dogs are free to run and play in the snow. It is just not fair. But Birdman Joe isn't made of the same stuff that the other dogs are made. He's more of a cuddle-up-with-mom type of dog.
We have a routine, Birdman Joe and I. Every morning when I go out to take care of the horses, goats, chickens, and llama, Birdman Joe heads outside with me. He is actually quite excited to have his collar put on and to run with the big dogs. Kind of.
He gets attached to a leash for the short time he is out - which is only long enough for me to feed the chickens. That is about long enough and he has started to shiver by then. I don't like putting him on a leash - none of the other dogs get put on a leash. But Birdman Joe has a mind of his own and I'm not about to risk losing him.

So after Birdman has had his romp in the snow, off he goes, into the house to eat and play with his pal, Tucker.
Seriously folks . . . we just have to laugh about the snow. There is nothing else to do.
Stay warm and stay safe.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Valentine's Day of relaxation . . .

Sebastian has the right idea for Valentine's Day.

I must admit, I didn't do much more but I was a little more modest in how I sprawled on the sofa. I woke up this morning with more of the crud I've been trying to get rid which now seems to have settled in my sinuses. But my Valentine's Day was filled with sweetness - my youngest son gave me this single, beautiful, perfect rose.

My daughter and grandson suprised me with this lovely bouquet of flowers:

And we enjoyed a plate of heartshaped sugar cookies:

I'm not much for roses and chocolates and dinners out, but I'm all for spending time with people I love.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Where am I?

For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.
Virginia Woolf
English novelist (1882 - 1941)

I think about this alot. How white women over the age of 40? 45? just disappear. We cease to exist. We become one of those nondescript people you see - background people. We could rob a bank and no one would be able to identify us because woman over a certain age are all the same. Invisible.

There is something oddly comforting about anonymity. Sometimes. But do I always want to be invisible? Hmmmm, I'm not so sure it matters to me anymore.

Somethings that are really really nice about being my age: the thought that I may look stupid on a run with an old sweatshirt, old sweatpants, mismatched socks, stocking cap, and mittens - doesn't bother me in the least. I have progressed from simply being weird to now being eccentric. So I am told. Sometimes people believe me when I tell them something. As if I have some experience. I am much calmer than I used to be - mainly because I've lived through some pretty horrific stuff and it has passed and things are better again.

I'm glad I am where I am in life. I complain a lot. But I think that's because I am unhappy with some things, some choices I've made and I'm not sure how to change without hurting a whole lot of people or myself.

So it is okay that I've become a member of a nameless, faceless group. And here is a picture of me:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We ARE the World.

The news sucks. Since 3:00 this afternoon, I've read about the horrific way a woman with mental disabilties was tortured, murdered, and left in a parking lot, about another campus shooting - this time the victims and murderer were faculty members, and about a terrible accident on the luge.

Is it any wonder I - and such a huge percentage of other humans - am depressed? A while back, I made a decision to hide my head in the sand and not read the news. I was banking on the theory that ignorance is bliss. I found it nearly unavoidable to hide from the media and reports of all the awful things that happen in this world.

I often find myself just wanting to run and hide, to drift away, to go far, far away from the awfulness of life.

But what if I can make a difference? What if, by chance, my attitude affects just the right person? Good or bad? Who am I to give up? I become the rest of the bad news. A mortality of the media. A statistic.

I know it is sappy and it is cheesy, but I'm watching the Olympics. And I watched the new video - the 25th anniversary of We are the World. And it reminded me of the hope I felt all those years ago. How amazing it was to see all of those singers together for a common goal.

I'm not so naive to think that the answer is all that easy. But really, what if everyone else was thinking that. That it was possible to unite as one world. And I let them down because I was the only one who didn't believe.

I don't think I want to take that chance. Count me in.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I'm sick. I'm tired. I don't know what to title this post.

I think I've mentioned this before - I have a very hard time with titles. Coming up with a title is very intimidating and I really lack the ability to summarize the content of a post into a single sentence.

The last several posts have been about the weather: the snow, the wind, the temperatures. This post will be about being under the weather. Which I am.

I haven't been feeling well. This is my third week in my new job and I think the change in work environment and the change in the weather and the increase in running mileage has formed a trifecta of events contributing to a slight breakdown of my immune system. That plus the fact that several co-workers have either had a bug themselves or one of their family members have had it.

I have always wanted to use the word trifecta in everyday conversation. I now feel complete.

Back to not feeling well. At least it is crappy out. I don't feel bad taking a sick day because a. I don't feel well; b. I don't want to continue the viral cycle; c. I can't run on trails at work anyway. So I'm glad that at least I can be at home and not beat myself up because of not running. My body is getting a well deserved rest.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blizzard of 2010 Part 2

Ok. Mother Nature, it was funny kind of when it snowed in mid-October, it was cute when we went to bitter cold to sweatshirt weather within a week, it was somewhat exciting when we had our first real snowstorm last weekend but at this point, no one is laughing at the snow any more.

This what I see everywhere I look:

I see this, too:
None of us are impressed.

Not Clover.

Not Dolly Llama.

Not even Bear.

The world's largest rooster only comes out of the chicken house to eat,

although the chickens are easy. They don't care what the weather does as long as they have plenty to eat.

The cats keep warm snuggled in the hay.

And Tipper just shivers!

I'm ready for some warmth. I'm tired and sick and I would love some sunshine!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Beauty of the storm . . .

A perfect Sunday - when it is cold and nasty, I do my morning chores quickly. Because although it is damn cold in the house (I usually let the fire in the stove go out), it is way more cold outside. But this morning, the sun was streaming in the backdoor in such a way, that I was convinced it was warm. I was wrong--it wasn't even in waving distance of being warm! But I was out there with my big dogs and it was beautiful. The wind wasn't blowing which,although, it was 18 -- seemed nearly balmy compared to the past week.

Usually the chickens want nothing to do with the snow and the cold. But apparently, the sun had tricked them too! The golden snitch, the black silkie, and the brown chicken dealt with the cold by standing on one foot.
The rooster and his "chick", dealt with it by sitting on the fence where they could also keep an eye on the food. And who said chickens are dumb!

I love sunny mornings when the snow glitters!
The woods and the creek seem so magical - like no place I've ever been. There is something so peaceful about our woods and the creek in the wintertime. Especially on a Sunday, especially after a snowstorm. No one is out - there are no sounds. Well, except for my roosters and those of the neighbors. These are the times when I am able to get back to myself. To enjoy being.
And look, I've been visited by an angel . . . .

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blizzard of 2010

Blizzard of 2010! We had easily 13 inches of snow between 9:00 pm last night and 7:00 this morning.

We had the first real snow of the season last night. Poor kids were put to work immediately this morning.

The snow was high enough that only Dolly's head poked through:

Not really . . .

Poor Max! He had to run in Sebastian's trail because he is so small.

But Sebastian had a blast!

Even Bear joined in the fun!
Snowball and Clover, on-the-otherhand, are holding out for spring!

A torrid love affair

 I've written about the ducks quite a bit. It's a little like Peyton Place around here I think. A couple of months ago, the male d...