I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Saturday, January 26, 2013

One night's stand... with my camera.

"Softly the evening came.

The sun from the western horizon



Like a magician extended his golden wand o'er the landscape;




Twinkling vapors arose;


 and sky and water and forest seemed all on fire at the touch,


 and melted

 and mingled

 together."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~
Evangeline (pt. II, sec. II)





Thursday, January 24, 2013

Well, La De Da!

I got up early this morning ( having stayed up way too late last night playing with my new toy, the Nexus tablet) and decided that I should just get up and stop trying to go back to sleep. I sat up, coughed, put my slippers on and stood up. OK, I was on my feet. It was going to be a good day.
 I heard a small whine from the corner of the bedroom and knew that Cutter, our sweet Corgi, was asking me if I was really getting up this early and could he come too. I  let him out of his crate and opened the hallway door.  Cutter ran ahead and stopped at Carl's crate so I let Carl out too.
It didn't matter that it was two hours earlier that usual. They are so locked into their routines. First the unabashed happiness of freedom..., the running around, the jumping and making little leaps of joy. It makes you feel happiness just watching them start the day as they do, with the expectation that something wonderful is happening and that life is something to get really excited about. It's contagious.
 Of course, all dogs don't have what we offer, here. Our dogs are in a five star resort hotel and they know it.
They are fed on schedule, have their own "spot" on the sofa, listen to us tell them how wonderful they are and generally think life is about them. It kind of is.
 I also gather that the dogs can read because they obviously heed my wall hung advice.
So this is a post about happiness and what I do to keep the scary fearful "what ifs" away. It's kind of an "in the moment" post that just needed to be written by me today.

After breakfast the dogs and I went outside. The air took my breath away. It was cool and overcast. The fragrance of campfires was in the air. My neighbor was burning near his house. It smelled wonderful.
The dogs disappeared behind the house and I thought about the excitement that ensues when they first go through the front door. They do it many times during the day, but there is always the same enthusiasm. How we could learn from them about the simple joy of the moment.
They aren't "into" the beauty of their surroundings, as much as I am, but they have moments when they make me notice something that I might otherwise miss in my search for beauty. Sometimes they don't find things that are exactly beautiful... but this slug,  in its own way, is a work of art in the natural world.
It's a mollusk and a big one. "It" (I need a better word than "it" because they are both male and female) didn't seem too concerned with "dog face" but then Carl didn't actually touch it. These slimy little creatures are crawling about because of all the moisture.
A long time ago, in my wild youth, I was staying with my grandmother and I walked down to the creek on her property. I sat down and leaned back on a rock to rest. My hand landed on one of these slugs and I was "slimed" for the first time in my life. I guess Carl knew better. He sniffed it and walked away.
I don't care for them but they are interesting creatures.
It actually has a beautiful pattern on its slimy little body. Still don't want to touch it.

 I walked over to the fence and looked out into the driveway. That was when I saw the "paperwhites."

To all of you who are suffering in the frigid north and back east... this is for you.
To remind you that Spring will come and Winter will not stay away forever.
Even in the deathly cold of winter, Spring will push its way through and have its day.
Nothing stays the same... all things come in their time.
 Look death in the teeth, as scary as it is, and think about our impermanent life,
 This cow scull is slowly becoming part of the plants and the earth...like everything.

Slugs only live for about four years, if they're lucky. Dogs only live for eighteen years... max.
Try to live in the moment. It's all we've really got.
 Get a camera. Take pictures of anything that makes you happy..  things that you love.
Buy a puppy. Unleash your joy or at least find what it is that makes you happy and do it. You don't have to leave town and start a new life. It's about small steps within the context of your existing life. Start small... with a smile. Life is short. Lighten up.
I do believe that this is true....

But the flip side is...

And as my favorite poet, Mary Oliver, asked...
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"





Monday, January 21, 2013

Girlfriends on the old buffet and the pleasures of grown sons.


The old buffet were I had the "German" Christmas tree sitting, has accumulated some very special items on top of it over the last few months.
 I  have collected many things on this buffet from before my trip to Germany and before Christmas, mixed with other wonderful reminders of two months that went by far too fast.

There is a big box of Italian Torrone, with little boxes of assorted almond candy inside.
A tradition, started by my friend Dawn, when she found this candy (a staple of my childhood at Christmas) online and decided that I needed to have a box sent to me every year for my birthday.
Next to the candy, leaning against the lamp on one end of the buffet, is a beautiful birthday card and letter from my friend "D" in Montana, who sent me this card filled with photos of her trip to the Festival of the Cranes at the Basque Sanctuary in New Mexico.
She wrote about her adventure at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. How she and her husband would go to the ponds early in the morning to photograph these magnificent  Cranes...how cold it was... the photo classes that she took and how excited she was to be so close to these birds. I live vicariously through these letters and photos.
Then, there is a small felted bird on the other end of the buffet. It's yellow and sits on a spool of thread.
A creation from the friend who made the felted christmas trees for me. She added this cute little bird to brighten up the holidays "just because" and there it sits lifting the spirits of all who see it.
My sister was here for a few days last week and we had so much fun. Our creativity had no bounds. We made flowers out of Raley's paper grocery bags.
And decorated some old bottles. (She took hers home before I got a picture of it.) It was beautiful.
Mine was a small almond extract bottle. You can see the bottle on the bottom corner where I didn't cover it completely.
The metal lid was covered with a wood epoxy clay that I still need to paint and finish. Her shawl is sea shells and her hair is an old bunch of embroidery thread. The rest is lace, fabric and other things that were glued on with Mod Podge and stuck on with a glue gun.
The back of the bottle has a wolf hiding in a small piece of felt and feathers, under a shell. It is waiting behind her. Protecting her... or laying in wait for her... I'm not sure. It represents the unknown fear we carry around with us. It's the first altered bottle I've ever made. Sis did a larger one. It was beautiful. We had so much fun with this. The Prospector was gone for a few days so we had the house to ourselves.

The buffet is filled with these things that mean so much... from friends that always share their lives and their hearts with me. These friends give me courage to try... to create... to push myself beyond my limits.
Being creative is an extension of yourself. Giving... when you know that someone loves a certain candy that holds memories. Sharing... a brave life of adventure and beauty. Sending a small felted bird that wasn't ordered but came as an "extra"...just because. Sis, showing her older sister how to create something beautiful out of the ordinary... These are real gifts.
When my friend "C (who I just helped move into the home of her dreams) knew that I was nervous about my plane flight to Germany she created this for me.
A card made, with love, to celebrate and send me off with on an airline called "Serenity" and a small zippered container with a good luck token attached... a place to keep my jewelry, money, small items, etc, that would all make me feel more secure about my upcoming trip.
I carried this with me... the little plane token was inside. In my bleakest moments this bright little bag lifted my spirits and helped me through my first trip to Europe.

Friends are gifts that give you courage, ideas, love... and part of themselves. What a perfectly sympathetic relationship it can be.
My mother's old buffet is filled with an accumulation of things that are important to me... that represent the connections of friendship. I'm a lucky woman.
*****************


Our oldest son spent the weekend with us.We love it when he comes up here. He just lost his old cat, Lucky, and needed to distance himself from the sadness of losing a longtime pet.
We took walks, talked, laughed and had a really good visit.
He helped me with some computer glitches and  then he went with me to buy the latest, coolest electronic device on the market.
 It's my new Google, "Farmlady finally arrives in the 21st century", tablet... with a stylish magnetic case

 and all the computer  "apps",  email, web browsing and  video chatting that I will ever need... on my lap... in the comfort of a recliner, outside on the porch, on a trip or in a hotel. I am comfortably connected.
And I now have WiFi. in my home as well. My house is now a "hot spot" like Starbucks and MacDonalds. Wow! WIFI!  I don't know what I would do without a computer genius for a son. He helped me start and hook up everything... and gave his mother a little *Nexus 7* 101.
All we did was feed him. Amazing.
Thanks son.