“To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.”
~Henri Cartier-Bresson



Friday, February 24, 2012

The Passion of doing something...

I'm going to talk about passion today. Not the Passion that is capitalized. Not the strong feelings  as distinguished  from  reason.
I'm talking about passion for an  artistic life.
Passion for other humans is overrated and chancy at best. I'm beyond taking that risk. I'm beyond being a "groupie" for anyone. My passions are limited to small wonders and learning something well within the context of my life.
This brings me to knitting and felting.
(If you thought this post was going to be x-rated or questionable in nature... relax.)

I always thought that passion was something like this...
"We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it." ~Ernesto "Che" Guevara~ .
But for me there was never a passion that I wanted to die for, so I thought that I didn't have one.
I had many interests, hobbies and things that made me feel good, but never something that I would ".. die for".
Yes,I would have died for my children and grandchildren but so far, with luck, I never had to make that decision. The passion that I waited for was just not there.... or so I thought.
Now, I realize that I have had passion all along. I just had the wrong definition. My passion was more of a general and diverse passion for what was around the corner... what was over the next hill.. the grass on the other side of the fence sort of passion. I guess it was a drive more than a passion.
 As Einstein said, "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." Although I do think that I have some "special talents", I really think that the main one is an insatiable curiosity. 


So I find myself in one place, fifteen years in one place, and now
 I have had an epiphany. 
One word...passion... that was written in an email this morning gave me pause for thought. A comment that made me express an idea that confirmed my belief in the strange mystery I call My life.


I take photos.
I knit.
I dry my felting on top of the ivy, in the sun,
because it's beautiful.
I yearn for the possibilities of new yarn.

 I want to dig in my  garden and not wear gloves. 
I want to create something beautiful. 
I want to feel the earth in my hands.

I have passions for a lot of things. It's a quite passion that doesn't make a lot of money and has to do with continuity and beauty.
 It's about seeing something from a distance...


And then going inside.
Seeing the water flow into a planter...

  and waiting for it to come out at the bottom.
And being there to see it drip.

This is a passion of time... and place... and life.
I know now that I was waiting for passion in all the wrong places and expecting too much.
I wanted it to happen as it did in the movies. I wanted something big, with heavy breathing , but what I really wanted was to capture my love... in a photo, to learn a new knitting pattern, be with my family, read a good book, plant a garden, feed a goat, find something new and different.
  And tell someone about it.
That's my passion.
Simple.
Unique.
Me.






Thursday, February 23, 2012

Slow Walk and an update on Squeaky.

I took my first walk up to the ridge in, probably, three weeks.
I took it slow. My energy is not back to normal but I feel pretty good and this morning I woke up feeling the best I've felt for a week and a half. I find that a small  nasal decongestant seems to do the trick before I go to bed and once during the day. Clears up the stuffiness and makes me feel like I'm still in the land of the living.
I walked at a slow pace and finally reached the top of the hill.
It was so beautiful.
 New grass was coming up everywhere. Getting some rain... and then sunshine, brings the carpet of green up so fast. I heard new life everywhere. I heard birds singing and saw them move from one tree to another, anticipating the arrival of Spring.
They are frantically looking for places to build their nests and bring their babies into the world.
Such busyness! Such industry.
A Spring Azure, or common blue butterfly, was going from leaf to leaf, not stopping long enough for me to take its picture. Then it landed on a pile of dry scat. This held the butterfly's interest for quite a while and I was able to take this shot of it.
This is a male with checkered fringe and small dark dots. They love the rich, moist woods here and it would seem that they like scat too. He stayed there for quite a while until I got too close and then he flew away to other grasses up the trail.
I started back down the hill, stopping to take a picture.  The sun felt warm between the trees. In the shade it was still cool but where the sun reached through I could feel the warmth.
I scanned the ridge to see if a deer or other creature was watching me.
Nothing was up there.

As I moved back down toward the house I saw our chickens in the distance. They were free ranging  and that means they have the run of the outer edges of the farm. I don't let them into our yard in front of the house. They make the garden look like a bomb site.
 I think that our cat is herding them and keeping them in the area near their hen house. They never seem to stray any further than the parking area. Sometimes they will come into the front garden to dust themselves and if the garage is left open they always have to come in and investigate. They seems to stay close. Maybe it's Annibel, but sometimes I think they know there are  predators around.

This is Squeaky.
Someone asked about her a while back and I realized that I don't talk about Squeak' or the other chickens very much. I do appreciate them. I always thank them for their egg production when I get the eggs and tuck them in for the night, but I'm not really a "chicken" person. They don't give you good eye contact.
 They are kind of... how do I say this nicely... at a disadvantage in the brain department. I know I'm going to get some flack for this but it's true. They live their lives reactively and instinctively. Which is OK for a chicken... I guess.
They just don't look at you.
Dogs look at you. My goats look at us... but chickens don't. This bothers me.
I will have to say that my friend's chicken, in Montana,
 was an exception to the rule.
She would come into the kitchen for breakfast, sit with us and enjoyed our conversations... and took care of an old rooster out in the chicken house. She seemed to be a cut above most chickens.
She didn't make eye contact either, but she seems to be smarter than the average chicken.
 Generally though, I think they are kind of different and a little clanish.
But Squeaky.... she is a chicken unto herself. She's a banty. I didn't give the other chickens names, but for some reason I did name the three banties
Squeaky is beautiful, but rather insecure.
She came with Neapoleon, the rooster and Henny Penny, the other banty hen who went to her maker last year.They came here, as babies, seven years ago.
Squeaky has the most beautiful feathers. She is a "perfect" little banty. But, she is terribly broody and she squeeks instead of clucking. She doesn't lays eggs anymore and I have to feed her separately because she gets so overwhelmed by the big hens. Do they have valium for chickens?
 I guess I would be intimidated too, if I was her. Look at the difference.
She is truly on of the little people of the hen house.
 The hens are kind of rough with her. They chase her when she tries to get a piece of luttuce or seed.
Squeak' just squeaks and runs.
Neapoleon use to help her and she relied on him to protect her, But last fall he had a stroke and now he walks a little crooked and his head droops to one side all the time. I think that his days are numbered.
He is still head of the flock and he still rules the roost. He crows all the time and struts his stuff with the ladies. He has always been a gentle rooster.
I like Neopoleon. He's little and he is a good guy.
He's kind to the big, fluffy butt hens...
And they seem to respect him.
The chickens give us eggs and I always say, "Thank you ladies." to them when I leave the hen house.
But chickens are a funny lot.
I, personally, like this instead...
Murphy gave me a kiss when I put my face up close to him. He came right through the fence and planted those big lips on me. What a guy!
 Brownie is smiling. He is so happy about everything right now. The warm weather, having Murphy at his side and special treats.
It doesn't get much better than this.
I'm telling you... being kissed by a goat can make your day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I remember three day weekends

I really do. They were looked forward to like a short vacation when I was working... like a third day of relaxation... a wonderful reprieve from the alarm clock and getting up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 in the morning. I loved that extra day. It was like a gift from God... my employer, the school district.

Now I forget what day it is.
I don't really forget. I just don't have to know. It's one of the joys of retirement.
This is how my Monday went....
I felt so much better when I woke up this morning. I still have trouble at night with the stuffy nose, can't sleep, find the Kleenex, blow your nose, take some more medicine, think about sleeping in the recliner and looking like what my father use to call "death warmed over", but I'm feeling better today. It's incremental but I know that I'm not getting worse.
So, this morning after breakfast I let the dogs out and decided that I'd had enough of being cooped up and I went out with them. I opened the gate and let them go into the back area that they love so much. They disappeared quickly. I would see flashed of fur every once in a while as they ran around the yard.

 Cutter came back a little while later looking kind of funny.
I said, " Cutter, what's the matter?"  He looked at me and ran back down the hill behind the potting shed.
 I didn't know until later that he had rolled in something awful. Not awful to him of course... but something that he found delightful and irresistible.
Oh, the joys of dog ownership. Why is it that they can't seem to resist something so putrid... so foul?
 What is it that makes them want to rub their faces in feces.  This is what separates man from dog.
Carl seemed concerned...
He kept watching Cutter and standing next to me. I guess he thought Cutter was in trouble.
I left them to run some more and started taking pictures of...
The flowering quince that we thought we had killed when we built the potting shed .
Elizabeth Taylor (the rose)  just starting to get new leaves on her pruned branches.
and my pansies seem to have survived the winter. Not hard to do in this mild winter we're having.
 The Daffodils are blooming everywhere.
Beautiful flowers, laughing in the winter sun...
and reminding me that Spring is coming early this year.
I sat on the porch and let the sun soak into me. Letting my body accept  all the warmth and vitamin D that it could. I was pulling the heat of the sun into my pores, surrounding my sickly invaders like an army of good. I was really into the Creative Visualization that has always worked to take sickness out of my body...
when I caught this smell... right in the middle of my focused concentration.

Cutter was standing there, next to me, on the porch.
I looked down at him and said, "Dog, you stink."
He just looked at me and then he was off again to run with Carl.
I lost the moment. Lost the wonderful image of getting well and ridding myself of this cold.
I decided that I needed something constructive to do that wasn't going to overtax my brain so I made some cookies.

Snickerdoodles with orange zest. Lot's of orange zest and some of my chicken's free range eggs. Look at the dough! That beautiful dough is like the sunshine outside... like the Daffodils... Bright! Yellow! Blending into my body... making me well. Making me feel good... oh,yes! good, healthy and ... 
What is that smell?    Who let Cutter in? 
Cutter was at my feet again and his fragrance was wafting up and spilling onto the kitchen floor.
"Oh, Cutter!! You are going to get a bath, little boy."
 I asked the Prospector to try and wipe Cutter off with a washcloth. He did and it helped, a little.
I finished the dough.
Made the cookies and then...
I fixed myself a cup of tea and sat down for a while.

I love Lady Grey Tea. It was just the pick me up that I needed to accompany the Snickerdoodles. I only had two cookies. Honestly... well... and some cookie dough.  Does cookie dough count? I thought cookie dough didn't have calories because it isn't cooked. Isn't this true. I'm sure I read it somewhere.
We wiped Cutter down with a soapy wash cloth twice today. It is helping, but we may still have to give him a bath tomorrow. I have no idea what he got into, but I know that the foxes still come into the yard at night and Annibel, our cat, is always out there. I don't know who's poop it was but Cutter found it too good to pass up.  Rolling in any alternative poop when it's there on the ground, is like humans eating cookie dough. Irresistible! You just have to have some.
That was an awful analogy, wasn't it? 
 Carl never does this.  It's somehow beneath him. 

When I let Cutter outside tonight he didn't want to come back in. I had to lure him with a biscuit.
He has had a bad day and when he thinks that he is in trouble or thinks that he's done something wrong, he gets panicky.
Getting two rubdowns with a soapy washcloth goes against a Corgi's self-important " I'm in control of my life." attitude.
He's not happy. He came inside tonight and went directly to his crate. He wanted to go to bed.
I guess Scarlett was right.Tomorrow is another day...



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Living a Poem

Winter still hangs inside of me
like the branches of a low tree, like the cold in my chest.
But, this morning, the bluebirds came ...
They tried to tell me.
 How the seasons change....that I mustn't fuss about little things.
They bathed and left.

Then a new bird sang outside my window.
A sweet high sound.
Solitary and pure.
I listened.
I heard a voice, this time.
And I smiled.


CC-2012