Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Nice surprise.

 One thing I miss about 8mm cameras are those rolls of film that you happen upon years after taking the pictures.  It's almost like visiting the past.  I remember a few years ago during a move, I found a couple of undeveloped rolls of film in a drawer.  There were pictures of my then 17 year old daughter as a 3 year old.  I've found pictures of my family that I had forgotten I had ever taken.  In places I don't remember visiting.  But now, with our digital cameras and the ease in which we can upload pictures nearly instantly, we don't experience that surprise.  If we don't download our pictures, they stay on the camera until the memory is full. And then we risk losing them all.

But.....I have a little camera and a big camera.  The big camera takes better pictures but it is just that, big.  I lost the cable that fits it and I haven't been able to upload my pictures.  So yesterday when my daughter opened up her birthday camera, I gave her the memory card from my big camera. We found many not-so-old, but forgotten pictures.

A nice picture of our little farm on a wintry morning. A picture of baby Cookie Dough less than 15 minutes old.  Pictures of a field of day lilies on one of my favorite running routes.  These pictures are less than a year old, but it was still fun to look at them.

 My daughter was very happy with her camera and after charging it up, off she went to take pictures and to experiment with the different settings.  I found out a couple more things about that girl:  she knows had to take good pictures and she loves trees and animals. Just like her grampa.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A weekend to remember.

Memorial Day weekend. Tons of thought-provoking links and pictures being liked and shared across Facebook. Memorial Day can be viewed as lots of things: the bookends of summer, a day to get together with family and friends, the first camping trip of the season or simply an extra day to sleep in.  To be honest, it was nice to know that I didn't really have to get up so early. And I didn't. Well.....I did get up, toss some hay in for the goats, bring Clover out of her barn, make sure the chickens were good with feed and fresh water and then made sure that all the dogs got their morning chance to get outside and sniff.  Then I went back in and sat on the couch.

Memorial day weekend is also the weekend in which planting is done and I planted 16 of my tomato plants as well as carrots and some nasturtium.   Today is also my youngest son's birthday so as promised, I drove to Dunkin Donuts and bought him some glazed donuts - which is really a labor of love because Dunkin Donuts is 17 miles away.

But the best, most important part of the weekend was the Memorial Day service held in a local cemetery.  For the second year, my youngest son played the drumrolls as the roll of local soldiers was called.  Thanks to the help of our pastor's wonderful wife, we were able to secure a snare drum and a stand.  But 30 minutes prior to the start of the service, we realized that we had no drumsticks.  And he couldn't find his good white shirt.  And one of the cats had pooped on his good black pants. And we needed gas in the car.  A trifecta of calamities.

But we made it to the service in time. With an old pair of black, wedgie-inducing pants, a relatively white T-shirt and two twigs to serve as drumsticks.  And it was a wonderful service. One of our state representatives spoke as did a Vietnam vet from our local legion and there was the 21-gun salute which always reduces me to tears.  And then finally, Taps.  The drumroll was magnificent and you would never guess the boy was using sticks that he had picked off the ground.

And as I stood toward the back of the crowd and listened to the speaker, I thought of all of the men and women throughout the ages who had fought for my country.  Many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice and ALL of them were ready to die for us.  I thought about how I felt when my oldest daughter was in Iraq and how at times, I was extremely angry that she had offered up herself.  Not angry with her, but angry that I couldn't bring her back home safe with me.  How many hundreds of thousands of mothers have felt the same way?

It seems as if the audiences for these types of ceremonies has grown thinner and thinner throughout the years.  And I wonder if there will come a time when only a few old-timers will attend and will remember our fallen service members.  I wonder if I'm one of the last of a dying breed who stands in a cemetery on breezy, sunny spring day looking over a field of graves with flags flying in the wind.  I hope not.  Because if we forget the past, how will we ever know the value of our freedom?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It's been a year.

 It has been a year since my dad left this earth.  To say it has been difficult would be an understatement.  To lose such a powerful force in my life.........well, it has been a hard year.  I'm still not better.  I still can't look at pictures, I still can't really think of him, I still can't cry.  I still have to hold my memories an arm's length away because I think if I get too close, they'll blow me away.  But I do think of him constantly. I feel him around me always.  I can't scratch an animal without thinking of my dad.  How much he loved dogs and cats and horses.  Just like my dad, my tendency with the camera is to take pictures of trees and flowers and plants.  I hear my dad in the whisper of the wind through the leaves of the trees.  I feel him around me anytime I'm out in the woods, which is often.
Because of him, I think I appreciate things a little more.  I realize that people who you love won't always be with you. That you better have fun while you can. That you better reach for your dreams while you are still able.

Today I am going to take some time off of work.  Rumor has it, that my dad always felt it was important to make time for a nap.  He was always telling me to take it easy, get more sleep.  So today, I am going to go visit the horses with apples for all and then go home, sit under the lilac tree, listen to the wind whistling though the trees and take a nap.  And think of dad.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A good day for hike.

 This was a great weekend! My oldest daughter and my only grandson came to visit! The weather was beautiful and we were able to enjoy a great weekend outside!  We woke up yesterday and set off to do a few geocaches.  I have to say that my oldest daughter is a geocacher aficionado. Or at least she was a few years ago. We all loved to geocached and ended up in some pretty interesting places as a result.  I'm not entirely sure why stopped doing it.  But that doesn't matter, the bug has bitten again.  It is always amazing to me that no matter how long you've lived somewhere, there is always someplace that you haven't visited.     For instance, one of the geocaches we did was in a local town.  A place I've been to countless times.  But the geocache took us to a part of the town we never would have seen - totally inaccessible by car.  The other geocache was relatively closeby but again, had we not been searching for the little cache, we never would have looked twice at this long ago cemetery and we certainly never would have noticed the mammoth tulip tree!

On the surface, geocaching probably seems like an odd activity to most: people looking for a little box - sometimes smaller than a matchbox.  But it is so much fun and combines so many things - hiking (you can do geocaches that take as much as energy and fortitude as a marathon), using your brain (sure, the gps guides you to the general direction of the cache but you have to use common sense and reasoning to locate it), and if you want, family time.  These things are so much fun to do with family members.

It is amazing the stuff you can talk about when you are traipsing through the woods or down a sidewalk or through a cemetery.  And the value of simply being with someone is priceless.  I feel as if I know my kids so much better after doing this type of thing.  I am so incredibly thankful that many of my kids like to geocache and to hike.  I've always hoped that I've passed along my love of nature to my kids and I think I have.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Of wine and gardens.

A friend of mine offered up a most excellent barter of her dad's homemade wine for a lifetime supply of fresh eggs.  As good as farm fresh eggs are, I definitely got the better end of the deal.  And after a long day without students, a healthy glass (jelly jar) of good sweet wine sounded like the perfect way to relax.  And a nap - I really needed a nap.  Preferably the wine first and then the nap.  But instead I reversed the process and fell asleep for a very short snooze and then woke up and gulped sipped my wine.

Prior to this, I had gone through my seed packages to see what I wanted to plant last night because as everyone knows, the waning moon is the better time to plant root veggies.  I really wanted to plant some hyssop and chamomile but knew that radishes would be a much better choice. In my first garden box, I had two squares yet to fill so after my nap, I grabbed some seeds, grabbed my daughter and went out to plant.

I woke up this morning and remembered that I had planted some seeds.  I wanted to write down exactly what I planted in my garden journal but I couldn't really remember what I planted.  I remember having small seeds in my hands and giving my daughter two larger seeds to hold.  But I'll be darned if I can remember what the seeds were!  I was too embarrassed to ask one of the kids so I sorted through my seed packets to see if I could tell what I had opened.  I'm assuming that I planted radishes because I know that I had poked 16 holes into that area of my garden. But I sure couldn't figure out what the bigger seeds were.  I knew they weren't pumpkins, they may have been zucchini but I'm not sure.  I guess I'll know in a couple of months.

But until then, no more gardening under the influence. And it was only a glass of wine!

And......since I didn't post this the day I wrote it, I did figure out that in addition to the radishes, I planted 2 zucchini seeds!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Goats = happy

 No matter how I feel, my goats always make me happy.  They make me laugh.  Sometimes the comparison between Leslie's beard and my own make me snicker.  Sometimes the fact that I thought Bella was actually a Bella is enough to make me guffaw.  Because really, what kind of farmer - what kind of mother am I to not be able to tell between a girl and a guy?
My dad's mighty Oak.
 But the goats are funny.  I love to sit in their little area with them and have them jump on my back, chew on my watch, sniff my hands.  Clover, my pony, is always excited to see me but it is mainly because he knows that I'm the one that puts her feed in her stall.  And I'm the one who brushes her, scratches her neck, gives her treats, loves her.

And what's not to love?


 It is no secret that I am having an incredibly horrid time dealing with the loss of my dad almost a year ago exactly. I still can't look at any but a few pictures of him, still can't really think about him. I'm just really, really careful what memories I bring to the surface.  Nearly all of memories are good but I just think that if I think too much, remember too much then that will be that. But one thing I have allowed is to remember him through my love of animals.  Horses in particular.  Losing my dad combined with my twin daughters graduating high school in two years, my daughter and grandson being so far away, my oldest son being across the country........that's just too much.

So I'll replace them.  With a horse.  But as I've said time and time again. I won't get a horse until I know how to take care of him. Or her.

But until then, take a look at these beauties I've been spending time with.  They are the horses from Wildfire Ranch Spiritual Retreat here in Spring Mills PA. 

I've been thinking of buying a farm.  As I get older, my eyesight has gotten so much worse, my hearing sucks......and although I love the students with whom I work, seriously how much longer can I work with them?

I am (or was) a nationally certified rehabilitation counselor so I'm aware of the essential functions of a job.  Since I'm a counselor, communication is key.  If I can't hear, then what good am I?  

I'd like to know what I'd be good at.  I love working with transitional students - I've always been able to connect - whether it is high school to college or college to college.......I never in a million years would have thought that would be my niche.  But it is.  

Hmmmm so working with transitional students as they learn to ride horses??????   I don't think I'm ready for that but a farm would be a good start.  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How to turn an hour project into an all day event.

I was quite productive today.  I could have been a whole lot more productive if I didn't have to spend so much time doing useless stuff.  Like looking for things.  The morning started off perfectly.  I even slept in a little bit.  I got up took care of the animals, put my plants out and made bread for the week.  This morning could have started out quite differently however. I had no coffee.  Lucky for me, I hadn't tossed the old grounds from yesterday so I just added the teaspoon or so of coffee that was still in the canister and reperculated the old grounds. Ta da!  A hot drink that resembled coffee.  I was ready to head outside to build shelves for the greenhouse and two more garden boxes.  But first, I had to run to Dollar General and pick up coffee.  Because even as cheap as I am, I refuse to reuse coffee a third time.

I had most all the wood sawn for both the shelves and the boxes - just had to cut a few cross pieces to use as supports.  After looking for one of the two pencils I keep out in my 'saw area', I marked the wood and cut it.  And since I am an extremely conscientious carpenter, I decided that I would probably want my shelf level since I was going to put plants on them and all.  So I spent no less than half an hour looking for the level that I had put away just last week.  I never did find it but I did find the nice level that I had bought for myself and lost years ago!

So now I was ready to put this thing together.  Put one screw in and the board started to split so I figured I better drill a hole first.  Forty-five minutes later, I found the drillbit - the same one that I had used a couple weeks ago. I certainly don't remember shoving it under all the wrenches in the toolbench drawer.  So around 3:30, I finally stepped back to admire my wonderful, sturdy, level planting shelf.  I'm not being the least bit sarcastic when I say that I was more than a little proud of myself.

Since I had already located all the tools and things that I needed for the garden boxes, I was able to put those together in no time flat.  So I did accomplish a lot today - I didn't bake the cookies but they are all mixed up and in the fridge for tomorrow.  And I did manage to get the weedcloth down and the boxes filled with compost.  For which Casper was happy, as he stood in one of the boxes grazing on horse manure.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Goodbye old friend.

Today we said goodbye to a pillar of fun and laughter.  Our hot tub. The hot tub that never got hot. Or wet.  I remember that day nearly three years ago when I came from work and my sweet youngest son was waiting for me: "Just wait til you see what dad brought home!", he said. Imagine my surprise (really, imagine it) when I looked out back and lo and behold, there was a hot tub. Someone was giving it away on Craigs List.  And no one wanted it.  No one except the Browns. If I remember correctly, the bubbler didn't work, the heater didn't work. But yet there was hope.  I understood the reasons why this hot tub held appeal for my husband: it was big, it held water (I recently had the pool taken down after developing a repulsion to skimming instead of swimming) and it was free.

Over the years, the hot tub lost its parts bit by bit.A wire here, a electrical jigger there.....and pretty soon, it was clear that the hot tub that didn't work, would never work.  The most use this tub offered was a sled holder and a birthing ward for several litters of kittens.

Fast forward to spring 2013 Riff Raff days. Several weeks ago my husband made the announcement that first thing in the morning on Riff Raff day, the hot tub would be loaded up and taken away.  I couldn't believe it. That hot tub may not have held water but it has provided lots of laughs over the years. I was almost sorry to see it go.  Almost.

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...