Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter.

 Some of us deal with wintry weather a little better than others.  Dolly Llama for instance........she has her choice of being in the barn or not.  She usually prefers to eat in the barn and sleep in the barn at night.  But during the day - regardless of the weather - she sleeps outside.  Even with snow piling up on top of her.

The chickens are also very interesting.  They make their rounds from hanging out with the goats, sleeping on the fence, sleeping in their coop, standing under the overhang of their porch, and sometimes just standing one-legged in the snow.  My chickens aren't the most intelligent members of the One Old Goat farm family.

Then there are the goats who stand in the doorway and thoughtfully assess the situation.  They prefer not to eat in their sleeping quarters so they send  a point man out to test the depth of the snow.  Usually this is Hansel and if Hansel doesn't sink, they all come running outside to eat their hay.  This is despite the fact that they have already been given a little bit of hay inside just in case they don't want to come outside.  Go figure.

And finally there are the dogs.  Fat Max and Sebastian love, love, love, the snow.  How it usually works is that Sebastian, being the larger dog, makes the path through the snow. Fat Max then hops in Sebastian's path. And then I usually follow along behind them trying to take pictures of Max's snow covered face.  The dogs aren't the least bit afraid of or put off by the snow.  They could easily spend an hour playing and sniffing and chasing each other around.  If you see one, there is no doubt that the other isn't far behind.  The nice thing is after an hour of frolicking in the snow, they are ready to come inside and take a nap.  Which is great, because I am usually ready to take a nap too.





Friday, December 28, 2012

Casper.

Casper, my 4 year old deaf boxer.  Sometimes the bane of my existence and I am sure he would say the same of me.  After nearly two weeks of post-tooth extraction pain, I thought it would be nice if the two of us  went  out to see what we could see after Wednesday's snow.  Casper looks calm here but really, he was only getting a breather before chasing me and trying to bite my leg again.  I don't know what it is with this guy but when we are outside together, he chases me and chases me.....barking and nipping at my butt.  Non-stop. Nothing will deter him.  

 When I let him out on his own, he is predictable....running first to check on the chickens and then down to the creek.  He then has to go to the lilac and mock orange tree bush just to see if there is anything there needing his attention and then, if I'm lucky, he'll come back up on the deck and beat at the door.    In the middle of the night when I let him out, I often flip on the light, leave the door ajar and play the piano until he returns.  This ensures that I don't fall asleep when he is outside, I get my practice in and sometimes the sound calms our nervous roosters who, no doubt, are crowing their little hearts out because Casper has just raced by their beds.

Casper is a good dog.  I love him and his crazy ways.  Lots of people wonder why I keep him with all of his bad habits.  But really, he is no different than me......he may not be a diamond, he may not be the best behaved or really, the best of anything.  But with his goofy look, his crazy eyes, I am so happy that he is part of my life.  I just really wish that he would calm down.  A bit.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Aurora.

http://www.123rf.com/stock-photo/aurora_borealis.html
Aurora ~ loved already :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Notes, quilting and being backward.

Music is what feelings sound like ~ Author Unknown



I made this quilted ornament for the organist at my church who has been incredibly patient with me while I've been accustoming myself to playing for humans rather than for my dogs, goats and the occasional chicken.  I have a feeling that she will be a bit dismayed when she sees that the notes are backward ~or maybe she'll just realize that my little gift is a bit flawed just like me.  But in my defense, it has been years since I've paperpieced anything. I'm just glad to be able to give something back to her for all that she has given me.  Janet doesn't realize the gift she has given me by patiently allowing me to play the piano with her, often slowing down so that I can keep up or by playing louder to cover the fact that my fingers often lose their way on the keys.

I've learned this year that music is a gift to both the receiver and the giver.  For nearly a half a century, I've enjoyed being the receiver of music but it feels incredibly good to also be the giver.  I've also learned that one doesn't have to be flawless to reap the benefits of being the giver of music.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Big Boy.


Today was spent celebrating my grandson's birthday.  I was lucky enough to celebrate his birthday with not only my daughters, my niece and nephew, but by the son and daughter of my oldest daughter's boyfriend and everyone else.  It was truly a great day.  While I sat in the midst of an unlikely crowd: my family in addition to my ex-husband, his family and his wife, I realized how lucky I am to have so many people for whom I care in my life.  Except for my dad who wasn't there physically but boy o' boy could I feel his presence.

I also couldn't stop thinking of all of those moms and dads and grandparents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles who will be sorely missing someone this Christmas because of a horrific,selfish act of violence.  There really are no words.  No words at all.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

A great weekend and race report


I remember a race about 6 years ago - it was the Arts Fest 10k and it was one of my favorite races.  I didn't really care that it was during Arts Fest (too crowded), didn't care for the weather (too hot) but I loved that it was a race in which all of my kids ran: my oldest daughter and I ran the 10k, my youngest 3 kids ran the kids run and although he didn't run the race, my oldest son was running daily at the time.  It was so great to see my kids participate in a sport that I loved.
This past weekend we took a fast trip to Virginia Beach to participate in the Surf'n Santa 10 miler and Frost 5k.  It was a perfect weekend! We left central PA in the midst of a freezing rain watch and ended up in VA where flowers were blooming and we could run in shorts.  Amazing!

There was also a Holiday Light celebration going on - we could see the lights right outside the balcony of our hotel.  It was beautiful - we had a chance to swim - in the pool, not the ocean - and just had a grand time.  As usual, we tried to cram in absolutely everything possible into a very short time.  We also really enjoyed sleeping in a hotel instead of a tent!

The girls did great - even though they don't agree and according to my calculations based on my 10 miler time, if I maintain this time and my training, I just my qualify for Boston next year.

It was very obvious that the organizers of this race had done this before - there is nothing that could be improved - I've never seen such an efficient, well-organized race!  There were runners dressed up as a live nativity, as Christmas trees, gingerbread men, Santa Claus, presents, angels, a menorah........it was as festive as the name of the race implies.

It was just a happy, happy weekend! There's nothing like a race to bring out the best in people, I think.  Everyone doing something healthy just because it is fun - and the pride that you see on runner's faces (especially the kids') is just priceless.




Sunday, December 2, 2012

The problem has been identified.....

It has been hit or miss for my piano record at church, with the misses far outweighing the hits.  However, this morning I practiced for about 45 minutes prior to our church service and it seemed to go a bit better. Of course I had my little chihuahua curled up on my lap and he made all the difference!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Faith


I actually wrote this a couple days ago and put it aside to think about it and to decide if it was how I really felt.

I really admire people with strong faith.  I'm really struggling with this.  I'm not sure why I find it so hard to believe in things......perhaps because I've been proven wrong time and time again. In 50 years I've learned that evil sometimes overcomes good, that people (including myself) don't keep promises, that some wounds fester and hurt for all time.  I could be hated for asking this but how can I believe in what I don't see or feel or hear? I hate that - how do you learn to have faith and how do you have it one day and not another?  I try to think of the things that I don't worry about, that I have faith enough that I don't even have to think about them. I don't think there is a whole lot of stuff that I have faith in.  For a little while, there was a strong flapping of faith and over time it's gone from a little flutter, to a hard, cold stone in my chest.  I think when my dad died, a lot of me went with him.  I believed that he would always be there and now he is not. 
I really hope that this is a temporary thing - I suspect it is just a reaction to losing my dad.  I really want to have faith and to believe but some days I just feel alone.  Christmas is a bad time to lose faith.  
I don't feel like this so much right now.  Sometimes it takes connecting with the right person and/or hearing a different perspective. Right now so much is changing in my life.  My oldest son is so far away and he has always been my ground.  Things always felt right after catching up with him once every week or so.  He's an even kind of guy and I always know what to expect from him.  After spending time with him, things always go back to being right.  But he's not here anymore.  My oldest daughter is too much like me.  She changes with the wind......just like me.  My other kids are pulling away and becoming their own person so in retrospect its no wonder that I feel alone.  Things aren't the same anymore and while it is exciting......it's also a bit disconcerting.


So on I'll go......getting used to life as it is right now and allowing myself to be flexible enough to accept the changes that are inevitable.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

First snow.

It's the first snow. Pretty, huh?  Apparently the chickens thought so......because they slept outside.  Again.

One of my favorite pictures.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Something's missing



 The other weekend, I spent a few hours building a chicken fortress.  My chickens are free rangers and aside from losing one or two of them (one from a fisher and the other from a stray cat), I've not had any problems.  But yet, they like to go visiting......they stroll over to see the neighbor's chickens and turkeys, they go pecking around in the other neighbors yard.  They don't cause any trouble but I would like for them to stay at home.  And now that they have taken to roosting on the goat fence, I'm afraid that one morning I will come outside to see them frozen stiff on the wooden railing.  

So I bought some wood from an Amish sawyer and let me tell you, a 2 x 4 from an Amish sawyer is really  a 2 x 4!  And heavy - because it hasn't dried out yet.  I made a fortress for my chickens......10 2x4's, a roll of chicken wire, a box of wood screws - nothing but nothing is going to move that coop.  I even made a little porch covering so that they could choose to eat outside even when it was sprinkling.  
They seemed to be soooo excited - all huddled around their feeder and water dish ~ just like a little chicken family. And at night they will be so protected from the evils that can be found at One Old Goat farm: Sebastian, the goats, Casper.......  except for one little thing that I noticed the morning I came out to feed them and they were all waiting for me OUTSIDE their brand new fortress.......the thing needs a roof!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lumpkin pie, turkey trots, and a beautiful day.




In spite of feeling lost and alone without my dad and my son, today was a pretty awesome day.  I thoroughly enjoyed an early morning run and 5K with my daughters and a whole bunch of other locals.  This was my first 5K. I usually enjoy longer runs more - especially since it takes me several miles to warm up.  It was freezing this morning so before the race, we ran a longer distance than the actual race.  We didn't take into consideration that my girls had eaten right before we left and that 5ks are their things.  They don't need that much warmup and I felt just horrible that Jordan had side stitches, stomach cramps and nausea shortly after the start of the race!  But Haley had her best run and Jordan and I simply enjoyed the beautiful scenery.  

Our dinner was good - I didn't mash the pumpkin well so our pumpkin pie is nicknamed 'lumpkin pie' but it tastes good.  I think everyone knew how much I missed my dad and just kind of let me alone to cook and bake.  I did get to talk to my son which really made my day and I'll get to see my mom tomorrow and my daughter and grandson on Saturday.  

I really am thankful for all that I have and am very thankful to have had my dad as long as I did.  I'm thankful that my son lives in a beautiful part of the country and hopefully will be able to visit him soon.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When sadness overshadows thankfulness.

I know that I have so much to be thankful for.....but right now I'm having a very hard time dealing with my first holiday without my son and without my dad.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Keys.

After a humiliating experience at the ripe old age of 10 or 11, I realized that the life of a concert pianist was not for me: my hands weren't large enough, my fingers couldn't move fast enough, and even the slightest hint of failure would paralyze me. So after about 35 years, I found myself in a curious predicament.  The pianist/organist at church was moving and although there were two other really REALLY good pianists - sometimes they had other things to do on Sunday - like vacation or getting sick.  So in a moment of unprecedented self-confidence, I volunteered to play as needed.

It's not that I can't play or that I won't play, its just that over those 35 years, I developed some really bad habits:  my fingering was horrible, I adjusted the timing to accommodate my poor fingering, I played in Beth-time, and possibly worst of all......I developed the habit of cursing like a sailor everytime I made a mistake.  NOT acceptable in most public places, especially church.

So I avoided anyone who I thought would take me up on my offer.  And it worked for a while.  But there came a day that our pianist really did move, and one of the organists was going to be on vacation. And as I was needed.  Yikes.  So I practiced and practiced and practiced.  The first Sunday wasn't too bad.  I didn't play loud. At all.  The organist was an absolute angel and played very slow (and very loud) for me.  So I felt pretty well hidden.  The second Sunday that I played, I practiced and practiced and practiced.  That Sunday however, I hit a maximum of 5 correct notes the entire service (but I didn't swear - not even on the inside).

The next Sunday came around and the music had changed.  The music that I had practiced throughout the week was not the music that was in the bulletin to be played.  And what a blessing that was!  After an initial panic attack accompanied by some whining, I just sat down and played.  And I played better than I had either of the Sundays before.  I think this was because I was so concerned with the change in the music, I didn't even worry about how I was going to play.

I'm hoping that someday I'll be able to play without sweating like a lumberjack but until then, I've learned some important things:  that people really mean it that the best place to screw up the piano is among friends (preferably friends who don't play the piano so then you can exaggerate about how incredibly hard it is :)), that sometimes you really are your own worst enemy, that you don't have to be the best at something to do it with all your heart.

I'll never be as good as I expect myself to be, but I am quite certain that I will be as good as I am supposed to be.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Signs.




I  realize that I probably put way too much faith in signs. But really,  I have several ways of knowing whether I should head out the door or whether I should go back to bed and pull the covers over my head.

 For instance, a morning when I awaken a little late and in which I am in the bathroom and both the alarm on my phone and the tea kettle whistling starts my day with a note of panic along with Casper, my devil dog, barking like a maniac outside can be considered a definite sign.  A morning like that can go either way but I know that my day will not be dull.  If my day starts like that, I will put even more stock on my next, more reliable indicator of the tone of my day: Dolly Llama.  On mornings that Dolly is frisky and happy and following me around with her ears up, I know that the day will be full of internal sunshine, happiness, and good luck.  But on Dolly Llama dark days - those days on which she stares at me with those dark llama eyes, with her ears pulled back, and I can hear her dredging up spit from the bottom of her throat......well, I just know that my day is going to be less than stellar.  Interestingly enough, even though Dolly hacks up spit, she only blows air at me (when she's in the mood).  She has never actually spit any thing at me unlike the spit she has hurled at both my husband and my youngest son.

On days that I get up late and both my phone alarm, the kindle alarm, and the alarm on my kindle are screaming for attention along with Casper barking his head off while I am in the bathroom  and while the tea kettle whistles away and then Dolly is in an ugly mood.....well, those days I just go back to bed and not even bother.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dinner conversations

I worry sometimes.  I can't remember names, can't remember to grab my lunch, can't remember where I put my scissors......over and over and over again.  Until tonight, I believed that my teenage daughters suffer the same malady.  They never remember when I tell them to do dishes after school, they don't remember when I tell them that if they wanted their favorite jeans washed they would need to bring them downstairs.  They don't remember many things.  But the conversation tonight around our dinner table indicated that this has all been a clever ruse to get out of things they would rather not do.

We were having a typical dinnertime conversation.........which morphed into a series of what-ifs (what-if the top of the soy sauce came off and it poured all over the plate) which made a natural transition into "do you remember the time that Ryan dumped an entire bottle of dressing on his salad" which then took a nasty turn into "do you remember the time you dumped the syrup all over the table" - a question posed by twin B and supported by younger brother.  Twin A quickly defended herself that it was her, that she never touched the syrup bottle.  Twin B and younger brother countered with "yes, it was her and she sat right there".  All of which is totally beside the point but what is amazing is that the syrup transgression occurred over 5 years ago!

Oh.....they are so outed.  Never again will I buy the excuse that they didn't remember.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tears, trails, and Thanksgiving

Last weekend was an awesome weekend.  When my youngest has graduated college, I say goodbye to the work world and hit the trail.  This past weekend I spent at a beautiful lodge along the Appalachian trail learning about the necessities of long distance hiking.  Words cannot express how much I'm looking forward to hiking each and every one of those 2164 miles.  
Sunset from the Blue Ridge mountains
The lodge I stayed in over the weekend.
I needed this past weekend.  I needed it for me.  I need to realize that there will be a life for me once my kids are grown - something with which I am not dealing well.  Many, many times I've wondered who I will be once I'm not longer needed in my role as 'mom'.  So in the spirit of my dad, I'll hit the trail. He was more of a tree person than a people person. Despite being a counselor, that is true of me too.  Actually, I'm not sure if I prefer the company of trees more or if it is just the simplicity of nature.   Not that this is a new idea - I've been planning this epic hike for nearly 10 years. I'll be hiking for a week in the spring, kind of trying out gear, getting used to myself.  I may change my mind however on the hike I hike.  The AT may not be the one for me.....there are some lesser known trails in this country that may be more appealing to me when the time is closer. 
Morning view

The trail
 I've finally shed a few tears. I realized the other day that this will be my first Thanksgiving without my son and without my dad.  Actually my dad might be a little closer than my son who now lives in Colorado.  No hope of him coming home for the holidays.  I'm trying to find a second job to earn a few bucks so that I can go visit him.

I think it is ironic how many tears one's body can hold.  I let out a few - but when the tears come.....watch out.  In the meantime, I intend to thoroughly enjoy Thanksgiving day - I'll remember my family who are not longer with me, I'll talk to my son who is miles and miles away, and I'll be thankful for all of my family and friends who are still here.





Monday, November 5, 2012

Cease and desist.


 I've been known to worry about stuff.  Sometimes unnecessarily, sometimes not.  Sometimes when you get  news, it causes you to stop a minute and think about what is important.  I've been doing that alot yesterday.  Somewhere over the course of the past week, I read or heard someone say that as we heard and responded to Sandy's destruction last week, the insults, lies, harassment, and otherwise overload of the Presidential (and other) candidates was largely forgotten.  Mother nature had put her foot down and we were all dealing with that.  I realize that I am in the minority.  And I will vote. But really, whose lies do we believe? If my kids acted like the candidates act (he did this, he did that), I would put them in their rooms and ground them for a week.  We don't put up with this crap from our kids, why do we put up with it from adults who are trying to convince us that they are the lesser of the two evils?

I realize that these campaigns are targeted toward those of us who don't more do more indepth research into the 'better' candidate and after all, a vote for a bad reason is better than no vote at all apparently.  Seriously, we don't tolerate bullying among our kids - not at all.  But we allow bullying - paying millions of dollars for it, in fact - in our homes via the television, radio and phones?  Crazy.