Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Sometimes I go about in pity...."

I think that I have finally learned something, about myself, after all these years of living. In my younger days I thought that being pretty was going to get me somewhere. I wanted to be a model. I wanted to be Twiggy but I couldn't get that skinny. I liked to eat.
I wanted to make a lot of money but I didn't want to work very hard for it. I wanted weekends off and I wanted to do things at my own pace. I didn't know the difference between hard work and looking like I was working hard.... and I whined a lot.
I got married and had children.  Then my life got more complicated.
I wasn't "the girl who wanted to be a model" anymore.
I was (OMG!)...a mommy. I had to be responsible.
I didn't feel like a grownup but I was acting like one... like my mother... and since she was always a great example and did everything perfectly, I just did what she did (only a bit differently) and that seemed to work.
It took me a few years to assimilate into this new status (of being a mother) but I did and now I had another reason not to do the things I really wanted to do. I was busy being a mother. There was always something that didn't get done because "I had children to take care of.".
Then something happened.The funny thing was that the more I worked at being a mother, the more it became a part of me. The more I payed attention and accepted where I was , the easier it got.
Finally I realized that I was here... right where I was suppose to be and that life was good. As the old song goes,
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
,'Twill be in the valley of love and delight
.When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
("Simple Gifts" was written by Elder Joseph while he was at the Shaker community.)
I love this song. It's kind of centers me and puts me in the moment.
So, let's talk about life and death.
Why am I writing about some of these personal insights? What's my point?
Well, it's because I have decided that my life is really, really good and I want to share it with someone.
Maybe the earthquake in Japan brought this observation to the surface. Maybe it is the thought of losing my family, near San Francisco, in a large earthquake that put things into perspective. This kind of tragedy can happen anywhere.
So to me, "coming down, where we ought to be." means living in the  moment and seeing what our life really is. Accepting all of it and changing only the things that are necessary to make it better.
That sounds so simple.
It's not.
If it was.... everyone would be walking around smiling and doing what they really want to do, making lots of money and living in beautiful homes.  But this doesn't happen to everyone and I suspect it takes a lot more hard work than we think it does.
Life is not easy for most of us. Every person is going through something different and difficult. But I think that somewhere, in each moment that we live, there is an answer. 
We are born in a single moment and we die in a single moment. We are here and then we are not here. We are breathing and then we cease to breath. All the rest is "now"...
  Now,we can choose not to suffer. We can choose to look for the beauty.
 It's always there. It's the smile on a child's face. It's the way light filters through a window. It's finding a beautiful and perfect wildflower. It's a friend's understanding, a partner's kiss... laughter
I wanted to be a "model". I wanted to be famous, or write a book, or be a fine actress, or sing songs. Now I see that I actually did these things.... in many different ways. The talent was channeled in many directions.
 I think that , as the old Zen saying goes, I have "Caught the vigorous horse of [my] mind." At the very least, I have found a nice corral for it.
Peace to all of you.....

Friday, March 11, 2011

A heart goes out to Japan...

As we fed our goats and changed Brownies bandages this morning...
And I told him everything was going to be OK.

 petting him while we stood next to each other..
we heard that half way around the world an earthquake hit the island of Japan. An earthquake so devastating that the effects of it are spreading all the way across the Pacific Ocean.

"Japanese media reported that at least 1,000 were believed dead, thousands more injured and tens of thousands displaced by the three-story wall of water that crushed their homes and brought much of the modern country to a standstill.
Aftershocks from Friday's 8.9-magnitude temblor and additional earthquakes as strong as 6.6 jolted the country before dawn.
Fires raged in the northeastern cities of Kesennuma and Sendai, with blazing buildings floating in the waters left by retreated tsunami waves that towered as high as three stories." (Los Angeles News)

We know that this can happen anywhere and to anyone. Nature is always changing . This is a painful example of what this earth can do to mankind. It's a sadness that stretches around the world.

"The Fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there." ~Yasutani Roshi~
We are all in this together....
and we send our hearts to the Japanese people....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Oh Brownie, this was scary for all of us.

Yesterday the Prospector called me from the back door. I could tell in his voice that something was wrong.
He said that Brownie was bleeding and would I bring all the pads and elastic wrap in the closet as fast as possible. I grabbed some supplies and ran out to the garage for my boots and caught up with my husband who was already in the goat run holding a towel against Brownies head.
When I got out to the run, there was Brownie without his left horn and bleeding profusely. I'm not going to show you any photos of this horrible mess. I didn't take any. It was awful. Blood was everywhere. I will show you some after we got him bandaged.
Somehow, the scur ( The distorted horn, regrown after the disbudding operation of a goat, sheep or cow..) had been torn from his head. The prospector found it in the goat house later. Blood was everywhere.
We don't know what happen. Freckles head had blood on it too so they may have been playing their favorite game of "butting" together and maybe the game got too serious. Maybe he got caught somewhere and panicked. We don't know. These scurs are not strong like regular horns. They are natures attempt to grow a new horn when a goat's horns have been removed. We have had so much trouble with Brown's horns and you know from my other "Brownie" posts that there have been many issues with these horns growing in the wrong direction and causing all kinds of problems.
But, this was the worst. I'm don't get faint at the sight of blood but when you see one of your farm animals with blood pumping out of a hole in it's head it's really scary.... and Brownie was acting strange. He was not panicky but you could tell that he was in pain and afraid. I sure wished I had a sedative I could have given him but, bless his heart, he let us clean him off.  Finally, after covering the wound with a blue powder that stops bleeding, we were able to wrap his head  with bandages. He didn't like having this done and wanted to move around too much. We needed a milking stall or something we could confine him in but we don't have one. The first try was a disaster. He kept trying to walk away and when a 150 lb. goat want to walk away, he just does it. The bandages fell off. After a second attempt to get the bandages on with the powder packed into the wound, we were successful. Within a very short time the bleeding stopped. That blue powder really works. It's just called Blood Stop Powder and that's what it does. It's a good thing to have on hand all the time.
 Here he is after we got him isolated from the other goats so they wouldn't bother him for a while...
Poor Brownie....
I'm sure at this point in this goat's life he is not as proud of his horns and wishes that he didn't have any.
 We watched him all day long and I even checked him last night and early this morning.
He has had his tetanus shot this year so that should be good. We will watch for infection and hopefully it will heal without incident.
This morning all four of the goats were outside in the pasture eating grass and enjoying the sunshine.
Freckles and Bart are being so careful with Brownie and acting so concerned. They followed him everywhere.  Murph' was quietly eating grass in another area. Interesting. Murphy is always so concerned about Brownie but not this morning. He kind of ignored the rest of them.
This morning Brownie seems OK. He is active and responsive.
I went on the Internet yesterday after we got the bandages on and you would not believe the varied information that is out there for an incident like this. Everything from putting Cayenne Pepper on the open wound to calling the vet immediately. The general consensus is that this is not serious as long as you get the bleeding stopped. The animal can bleed to death if you don't.
What a day it was. I do agree with someone who wrote that animals horns should be left alone. Few animals have problems with horns if they have the ones they were born with. Maybe we need to change another "man made" and antiquated idea. I would love to know what other farm blogs think about this. Please let me know if you have had this experience.
This is the horn.
 It's an amazing thing isn't it. Almost beautiful. But it was trying to be something it wasn't and that always becomes a fruitless effort. I will keep it to remind me of one of the scariest days in our life on this farm.
We're so glad he's OK. I'm so glad it's the day after yesterday and the sun is shining for Brownie. You know how he likes the sun.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

She Who Seeks Snow

My oldest son has been here for the weekend. The time together is wonderful but never long enough.  He came up Friday night and left this morning. It was a good visit.

Yesterday, at breakfast,, we were talking about SNOW and how we hadn't had any this year except for a light dusting that melted quickly. "M", our son, said "Why don't we take a drive up into the mountains and find some?" The Prospector and I agreed that this was a great idea.
We packed some warm clothing, took the four wheel drive Toyota and headed out. We drove up highway 88 through Pine Grove and Pioneer. Right around Buckhorn we started seeing snow under the trees.
By the time we got up to Mace Meadows we were really getting into the heavy white stuff. It was beautiful...
We passed Cooks Station...
And on up into the Eldorado National Forest.
We finally got to the turn off for Lower Bear Reservoir but realized that the road down into the campground was not being maintained. The signs said it all...
And this...
So we went back out to the highway and continued on to Silver Lake. If you didn't know there was a lake there you would never have guessed. It looked like a huge meadow filled with snow.
There were some people out there with snowshoes walking across the lake. 
It was so lovely. I wish we could have been out there too.
We finally climbed up and drove through the Carson Spur which is an avalanche area of the pass that makes me hold my breath every time. It's almost easier in the winter because you can't see the distance down into the wilderness canyon with snow on the sides of the road. Last week, on the news, they showed this section of the road and Caltrans had opened a very small one lane section of the highway for traffic to get through. Only one way traffic was allowed at a time. We were more fortunate. It was cleared for two lane traffic and because it was around noon, there was no ice. I still don't like this stretch of highway. It makes me nervous and I tell everyone not to talk or the vibrations might start an avalanche. Yes, I'm a big baby about this but if you saw this place you would understand. IT'S REALLY SCARY!! I don't even understand why someone put a ROAD way up here. It's crazy.

Finally we reached our destination.
KIRKWOOD RESORT. This is where we all learned to ski about 30 years ago.  The boys were about 11 and 16 years old then. It was raining so hard we almost decided not to go. We got up at 4:00 a.m. and joined a caravan of friends from the neighborhood. It was raining so hard that morning and we knew that it would be snowing heavily up in the mountains, but we went anyway.
Our next door neighbor had promised he would make skiers out of all of us. He did.
It was the most amazing thing I have ever done. Going up on a ski lift in a snow storm was like nothing else in this rather normal life of mine. There was no other reason that anyone would have been out there in that kind of weather than to ski. It was an experience I have never had since. I can remember thinking, as I rode up on the ski lift, that this was one of those moments that would never be forgotten and I can still feel the snow blowing across my face and the power of mother nature. It was a life changing experience until I had to get off the ski lift gracefully. I didn't. I fell. But my neighbor and the Prospector were waiting for me and picked me up and so the lessons on the "bunny slope" began.
We went up there to ski once or twice after that. We took the boys to other ski resorts, but usually they skied and we watched. I was getting very tired all the time and didn't feel like doing anything that required as much energy as this. It was a year later that I found out, at 39 years of age, that I had cancer.
I don't talk about it much. It was a life changing year in my life but the experience of learning to ski in a snowstorm at Kirkwood will forever be captured in my memory. It made me fight harder and survive a year of what I called "living dangerously". It was a year of being braver than I had ever been before. Skiing made me understand that I could learn how to survive.... even in a "snowstorm".
I don't have a great desire to ski now. I would probably kill myself just getting to the ski lift or putting on all the equipment.It's a sport for folks a lot younger than me. But in my heart, when I watched the skiers coming down the slopes yesterday, I wanted to be up there. I wanted that feeling again... The cold, the skill required, and the excitement that you feel. It's a wonderful place to be and I will always remember the joy of accomplishment when I finally came down an intermediate slope all by myself. It gave me courage that I took into the difficult years ahead.

So, moving on....
We parked, and walked around the amazing outdoor venue. It was much different that years ago. Bigger, with a lot more stores and restaurants. More noise, more advertising.... Lots of people sitting, with or without someone, looking at their i phones and not at the beautiful scenery.
We found the bathrooms, bought some hot chocolate, took pictures and watched people. Most everyone was having a great time.

Wearing funny hats...
Of course I would notice a KNITTED hat like this! Isn't it amazing?
There were lots of signs telling you what to do and where to go. There were signs about the history of this place and about the pioneers that came through here on their way to the dream that was called California.
It made me kind of proud that I'm a native daughter.
There was a little boy that reminded me of my youngest son, when he was little.
This little man was making a huge snowball on top of a hill. He told us to "Watch out." and then he pushed it over the snowbank and it crashed on the walk below. I'm glad he said something because it was a BIG snowball.
And another boy who reminded me of "M" when he was young. Lot's of memories here it seems.
 Memories of a beautiful place....
Where the mountain peaks never change...
and the slopes still call folks to come and be at one with them.... to learn something about yourself and what you're made of.
Memories of going where I had never gone before.

We left Kirkwood and headed back down into the foothills before the coming rain and snow that was predicted by night fall. The clouds looked ominous. We drove through the Carson Spur again.
and as we descended, the snow reduced in volume as the elevation signs went from 8000 ft to 7000 ft.... down to 6000 ft. and then 5000 ft., where the sun was trying to come through the clouds..
and a small pine tree said "Come back again."
We drove back to Jackson, picked up the mail on the highway and drove down our lovely river road. I made big beef burritos for dinner..... and brownies with ice cream for dessert.

"M" left this morning. We will miss him. He lives in Oakland and is a very busy man, with a job that keeps him working hard.  I'm so glad that he came up here this weekend. He left relaxed and rested... and with some brownies.
I'm always happy when my family comes to visit. My children come with their own set of  memories and everything that they remember is not always the same as mine, but life goes forward and that's as it should be. They are building their own memories.... their own lives.
We are proud parents. We were not perfect but we did our best and we have two sons that have become wonderful human beings..... who (like their mother) love computers, poetry, a good book, good food chocolate and SNOW.
Life is sure good sometimes....