Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Some of my favorite people are trees.

Some of my favorite living things are trees.  I'm like my dad in that respect. I am incredibly lucky.  I work on what I believe is the most beautiful university campus in the country.  Everything is beautiful there: the buildings, the lawns, the sky, the flowers, and the trees.  I feel as if I've met each and every one of them.

One day each week, I take a yoga class.  It is the first yoga instruction I've had and I enjoy it immensely.  But I do have to say that I feel the same kind of relaxation when I stroll through campus and look at the trees. Or when I'm running on some of the trails close to campus.  The tranquility of trees definitely rubs off on me.  I think it is fairly common to dream up stories about people with whose paths you cross.  In all honesty, I am more likely to dream about the trees.

When I walk through the mall near Old Main, I think about the grand American chestnut trees that used to line the side of the mall walkway.  I believe my parents were students at that time and I think that this particular path was called the 'ghost walk'.  I can imagine them walking toward the Corner Room through the leafy awning of the trees with the bell tower on the left and the obelisk on the right.  In the past several years, elm have been planted in the ghosts of those old Chestnut trees.  The walk downtown is breathtaking but I really would have liked to have experienced the Chestnut trees.

There is this very interesting tree outside of the Chambers Building that reminds me of the limbs of an elephant stretching out.  The bark of the tree, smooth and shiny, with little wrinkles in the crooks - just as I would imagine an elephant's wrinkly knees would look.  On the far side of the same building is an old oak tree with its branches spread out wide with whimsical little bends and corners in the lower branches.  A tall person would need to duck to walk under those limbs.  I imagine the day will soon come when those branches will need to be trimmed to prevent such an accident.

It is amazing how much a difference a few trees can make.  I so understand people who prefer the company of trees and other plants. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Autumn wind.

Seems like winter has blown in to Georges Valley this afternoon. And with it, the moods of the season.  This is the second autumn without my dad. And autumn has always reminded me so much of him. . .  the colors, the sounds, the smells, the trees.  Over the past year or so, I've had a changing in my mind.  I'm happier and more content.  But I don't necessarily believe all of things that I've been lead to believe all of my life until now.  It's not that anything is really different but more just a different perspective.

I've always liked autumn. Loved it even.  It has always made me a bit melancholy.  Melancholy isn't necessarily bad......and for someone who has battled depression most of her life, being able to feel anything, even melancholy is cause for celebration.  I think I wrote once before how depression isn't the sad, bittersweet feeling one gets that puts you in the mood to hunker down with a blanket and book.  Well for me, melancholy is just that.  It is a 'good' feeling.  It is a sign to me that I've won my most recent battle with depression.

So I'm sitting here at my kitchen table, all full of Elizabeth Berg who, if you haven't read her books, you really should because I were to be a writer, I would want to write the way she writes.  I'm sitting here looking at the gray-blue sky, watching the winds blow through the pine branches and I'm thinking about the upcoming winter.  One more winter.   My old dog sits beside me.  My not-quite-as-old dog sits staring at me hoping to be able to jump up on my lap.  Which he will whether I agree or not.  I listen to my husband harp at my son in the living room, the noise of the television in a room with no one to watch it.  And I wonder why I'm sitting here at all.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


A few months ago, I became extremely sick of myself.  I was tired of being grouchy, always in a rush and not really enjoying everything I was doing. Which was a lot.  It always is.  I started reading books about religion and attitudes, blessings and spirituality.

 I made up my mind to quit it. Just quit being so hard on myself on everyone around me unless I had a good reason for being grumpy.  One thing I made up my mind to do every morning was to look.  Just look.  It is easy for me to throw on my jacket, step into my boots and then head outside like an automaton and water and feed the goats, chickens and pony.  But I wasn't enjoying it anymore.  It had become a chore.  I still loved all of my animals but it was starting to feel as if caring for them was just one more thing to scratch off my to-do list.
So I started to pay attention to what I was doing.  To look at my goats when I took in their hay - really look.  I noticed how shiny their coats are and the size and depth of their goaty eyes.  I started looking out over the hill at the trees and the mountainsand how the fog rises up between the hills that border the highway miles away.  I looked at Clover, my pony. I saw how speckled with gray her chin and her main had become; how furry the insides of her ears are and she has big white polkadots down her
I've noticed all of that before but just hadn't thought about it in the while.  My head was too stuck into getting all of my work done so that I could go back into the house to do a little more work before showering and getting dressed so that I could drive the 17 miles into campus to work even more.

Since I've decided to take the time to appreciate my mornings a little more, I've noticed lately that I have been feeling much happier.  I only takes a little bit longer to get ready in the morning but I am much more content. It's a good feeling. It's about time.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What has been going down on the farm.

What's been going on down on the farm? Well my chickens have been behaving like chickens and I haven't been a very good chicken farmer.  For the first time in years, my chickens have started            roaming the valley.  I've always free-ranged my chickens - they seem to like it and I enjoy having a chicken or twelve waiting for me when I head out in the morning.  But early in the fall, I noticed that the neighbor's lawn was looking a little brown here and there and I wondered to myself what he had been doing.  After a couple of days, I realized that the reason why his lawn was so brown was because my chickens had been picking around for worms and yummy things-that-taste-good-to-chickens.  I was mortified.

I was mortified because I didn't ever want to be the kind of person whose animals bothered other people.  There have been a couple of occasions that my goats got out and ran over to the neighbor's yard.  My horse also got out one time and the neighbor was having a fit because Buddy was standing over in his yard.  This neighbor hates me and I was sure that he was about ready to kill me.  And my chickens.
So my youngest son and I began mission chicken catch.  First though, we had to put a roof on their pecking area so that they could fly out.  After that was done, we set out to catch chickens.  It took days and I must say, that I've become quite adept at chicken catching.  I've found that early in the morning darkness is the easiest time to sneak up and grab one.  At the high point in my chicken-catching career, I was able to grab 3 at a time and carry them to their new home.  

They have plenty of space to move around, walk, fly, and peck the ground.  But still, they are not free-ranged.  I think it would be very irresponsible of me to let them free and risk having the neighbor shoot my chickens.  So until I can figure something else to do, my chickens will have to stay penned in.  

Monday, November 18, 2013


 One of the things I struggle with most is not totally smothering my children.  It is extremely hard for me to stand back and have faith that they will be able to work through some of the horrible little things that life throws all of us.  It is hard not to hop on a train and travel across the country to be with my oldest son right now.

He says he's alright. He says he is fine.  But I don't believe him.  The counselor in me knows that like it or not, we have to deal with some pretty bad things in life.  I am a believer of talk.  Well....I don't really like to talk, I prefer to listen.  I believe that dumping nastiness into words removes the sting a bit.  I like to talk about what is bothering me. I don't like to talk to other people.  I prefer just to say the words aloud and let the bad stuff filter out into the universe so they can dissipate into nothingness.  Many times I talk to my goats when I go out in the morning or to Clover as I walk her up to hang with the goats for the day.  I make it a point to get the negativity out of me before I come back in the house and wake up my kids.  It has made me a better mom, daughter, and counselor.I realize (as impossible as it is for me to believe, that not everyone wants to talk about everything.  That sometimes, people just need to stew in their own juices . . . and that is how they deal with things.  But as a mom, it is hard. I just want to give my son a hug right now.  He may be old enough to live on his own, miles away from me, but he is still my baby. He will always be my baby.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Still kicking.

I haven't really felt much like writing lately.  So I haven't.  I haven't had anything to say.  Today was kind of bittersweet . . . one of my 16 year old daughters got her learner's permit.  I'm happy that she maturing and growing the way she should be but I can't be feel as if I've been ripped off.

Sure she's 16 years old - but I think those years were extraordinarily short.  I think somehow that we were giving short years.  Otherwise, how can it be explained that just yesterday she a newborn? How can I tell a 3 year old how to drive?  We didn't have time to do all things I wanted to do with her, with all of my kids.

I can remember when the kids were young.  I would wait impatiently for their afternoon nap so that I could have just a few minutes to myself.  It felt like freedom when the babies were asleep and I had a block of time in which I could do anything at all.  I would fantasize about the day on which I wouldn't have to hurl a car seat and then contort myself in the backseat to get them latched in safe and secure.

We told the kids and I told my two older kids the same thing......just stay small.  But none of them listened to me.  They are growing and growing.  My oldest son lives hundreds of miles away from me, on his own.  It is obvious he does not need my help to carry on day-to-day. My oldest daughter also lives very independently with her two kids - who, I might add, are the most beautiful children!  My three kids who live at home are rapidly growing up and away, developing their own interests, finding small ways to separate themselves.

So it will just be me here.  My and my dogs. And my chickens. The goats, too.  And Clover my pony.  It will soon only be One Old Goat and her little farm.

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...