Monday, August 29, 2011


I went down to the corner tonight, something that I have done on the last Monday of August, for many, many years.  It's the day after Decoration Day at the Avonbank Cemetary. It is a beautiful and touching place to visit on a soft and gentle summer evening.
I am always moved by the display of love, caring and remembrance. Last year, there was a single gladiolia beside this broken stone that has been carefully placed by the foundation of the church. This year there was an entire bouquet laying on a bed of evergreen. I am so curious as to who it is that makes such a thoughtful gesture, but in a way, I like to hang on to it as a mystery.

I set to wondering who it is who it is that takes the time and trouble to lay flowers at the gravesites where the headstones have become illegible, or are over a hundred and fifty years old. Is it relatives or is it some kind soul who is performing random acts of kindness and colour.

I did, by chance, find out tonight who left the sweet little bouquets wrapped carefully with little foil flower pots. It was a darling teenage neigbhour girl who is carrying on a tradition that her late Grandma did.  What a wonderful way to honour her grandmother as well as the people where she laid the flowers.

I am also very curious about who it is that lays the flowers on the grave of the family that used to live in this house. Some day I'm going to have to go down there and sit and wait, just in case they are family and can tell me some stories about them.

I love that someone takes time to honour others in such a simple and beautiful way even when they would not possibily have known them.
It is indeed a lovely place to go and reflect on the kindness of the human spirit.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Got My Goat

On April 2nd, 2008, I wrote a post entitled ‘Goatless In Avonbank’.  It’s no longer true.

On Christmas Day, I came in to the kitchen to see Ashley and Brian sitting on the couch, looking at the computer.  They looked very guilty when I asked what they were looking at. ‘Oh, nothing.’ they giggled and quickly shut the laptop.

Later I heard a little rumbling that Ashley had gotten Brian baby goats for Christmas. ‘No, she wouldn’t do that.’, I said confidently. 'She KNOWS I don't want anymore goats.' The subject was dropped and I was sure that we were safe. A few days later, in my computer 'history', I discovered a photo of Gibson standing by a tiny little pygmy goat.  Oh no … Goat Girl has struck again. 

I had put up with goats for twenty five years, enjoying them for sure, but also not overly impressed that I could never have flowers.  I was quite content and comfortable being Goatless.  Brian on the other hand has missed the goats.

So, Bill and Ted came to live in Avonbank. “Buildin’ Ted” as Gibby calls them.  I have basically ignored their existence, afraid that if I got all chummy with them that they would come up to the house to visit. 

I have to admit, I have really enjoyed seeing some youthful antics on the property. Everything here is geriatric - the donkeys ... US.  We all move slow and aren't too often described as playful anymore. New life was refreshing.  The goats were fun to watch. They stand on their back legs and butt each other; they jump on the donkeys’ backs. They scamper and cavort. It’s been a very long time since anything scampered and cavorted around here.

They’ve stayed away from the house, so I had come to accept them and in fact was glad to have them. They keep Ransom company and follow him everywhere. Brian loves them and comments often that Bill … or is it Ted – I actually don’t know which is which – is the best looking goat he’s ever met in his life.  Ted is a girl. Or maybe Bill is the girl; I don't know. I’m with Gibby – I just call them ‘Buildin’ Ted’ as one entity.

Did I mention that I’m happy with my flowers? I am. I finally have some grown-up landscaping.  Not a lot, but compared to the sparseness of colour that has been my life for the past quarter century, I am downright vibrant.  In the past three years my perennials have become established enough that you can tell what they are. I get a little kick out of ‘free flowers’ after all these years.

So, when I came home the other day and saw my beautiful, glorious phlox plant trampled and eaten, I was not impressed.  I said rude things to the goats. I said rude things to Brian too. I thought rude things about the Goat Girl giving such an irritating, inappropriate gift. The next day I came out and they had devoured all the sedum buds that hadn’t even been fully born yet.  I said rude things again. More forcefully.

A few days later I was in town, pushing Georgia in the stroller, Gibson walking beside me. We walked past some lovely flower beds and Gibs said ”Look at those bee-ootiful flowers.”Yes, they are.” I said sadly. “I used to have beautiful flowers, but Bad Goats ate them.”  As always, when anything happens in his life that could be construed as a negative …  broken toy or balloon, spilled milk, even being hurt – he said in the sweetest little voice: “But that’s okay, Nana. You can get MORE flowers.” “Yes, Gibby, I guess I can.” I said, ‘but it still makes me sad.”

Still walking, he moved right in close. I looked down and there he was, hugging my leg with in such a sincere and comforting way that I instantly felt guilty.  I changed my tone immediately and said with considerably more confidence and no hint of self-pity. “YES, I CAN get more flowers, Gibs. For sure.”

Whenever I think of my missing flowers now, I see that dear, angelic boy, extending more compassion than you would ever think a three year old was capable of. To get to witness that and know that already he has such a good heart, was worth the loss.

I don’t have flowers. But I do have a sweet little grandson that knows exactly what to do when someone is feeling blue.  That’s a bouquet that will live in my heart long after the flowers would have faded.

But ... the goats STILL tick me off.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Burn On

This would seem like an ‘out of nowhere’ subject, but I’m trying to get into the habit of writing again. The biggest stumbling block to that seems to be: ‘what do I talk about? Other than animals?' Sometimes random stuff just pops into my head, so Random Stuff it is today.

When we moved into this farm, 23 years ago, one of the things that were on my ‘Have GOT to change THAT’ list, was the light fixture in our bedroom. I thought that it was, without a doubt, the weirdest, ugliest, most garish light that I had ever laid eyes on. I recall showing someone through the house and their comment was ‘What a beautiful light!’ I was sure they were being facetious, or at the very least had questionable taste. Replacing it was at the top of my ‘Must Do’ list.

As it happened, a few hundred other things required time and money, so a new/different light moved way down on the priority list. After all, no one would ever be in our bedroom anyway; never mind that it was the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes, and the last thing I saw every night. Every single time for years and years, I would think – ‘my gawd, what a horrendously ugly, ugly light’. The plan was that when the bulb burned out and I had to figure out a way to get it apart, that would be my opportunity to get a new one.

Over time though, my attitude shifted when I laid there looking at the light. Sometimes I’d study to see exactly HOW they made it, but then the thoughts would detour back to WHY. The stems are done in a shaky hand with a weird coloured, kind of gross gold paint. The petals though – that was what bothered me - I happened to detest orange, and especially orange-red.

The years have gone on … and on … and on. I like orange/orange-red now. In fact, I’m drawn to it. When I see the the rough and shaky stems, I think of the hand that painted them and wonder who they were and when & where it was created. I have kind of grown fond of it in a ‘face-only-a-mother-would-love’ sort of way. In reality though, it is still pretty homely.

I was surprised then, a little while ago, when Scotty came into my room after spending the night and said, totally out of the blue: "You know Nan, that is the most BEAUTIFUL light I have ever seen." Quite amazed that a nine year old boy would notice, let alone make mention of something like that, I said ‘REALLY?’ Very seriously, he answered: “Yes, I’ve ALWAYS thought so – my WHOLE life.”

All that aside, that is not the amazing or interesting thing about the light. What makes this light stand apart from any other light is that it is PERPETUAL. Never once in twenty three years has the light bulb been replaced. Really, truly, honestly - not ONCE. That is especially remarkable in the fact that we live with constant power surges and light bulbs burn out here in record time. I think it must have known that if it ever came to taking it down, that would be the end of it. It burns on and on – most likley from long before we moved in. I’m curious as to what kind of bulb it is - it must be an antique, but I’m not about to take it apart to see. I’m leaving well-enough alone, and watching with great interest to see if it lasts longer than me.

Burn on, my homely friend, burn on. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Newbie

Two years ago, a babe missed my birthday by hours – arriving on the left side of the day. This year, it was just a few hours on the right side. No matter, it still was a significant day, a better one to arrive in fact.

I was rushing off to town to get stuff for the big WINGS picnic. I was already in my car, backing up, when I noticed that Lani was standing at the fence looking at me. That wouldn’t be a red flag to anyone else. I knew instantly that something was up; Lani would not be standing alone, trying to get my attention. She and Victoria are inseparable – you don’t see one without the other being five feet away.

The two fields are very large, but when I climbed the fence, instinct took me right to Victoria. She was laying in the coolness of the shelter – not a big surprise, other than she was doing it without Lani. I had just checked her a day or so earlier, so I wasn’t expecting to see a baby, and sure enough – there wasn’t one. Still strange for her to be alone, again, instinct took me in for a closer look. When she stood up, there was afterbirth still connected.

‘Oh no’, I thought – ‘She’s lost her baby.’ Of course I couldn’t leave it lay somewhere – I’d have to find it. The fields are big and the grass is as tall as the donkeys in most places. A needle in a haystack to find a wee donkey laying down. Victoria though, looked like she was on a mission so I followed her. And there it was – way off in the corner, a tiny little foal stumbling around. I was shocked that she would be alive - it was unheard of for a mother to go off and leave her babe. My guess is that it was just too hot for Victoria and she needed to get somewhere cool to finish the birth process.

I blessed my lucky stars that I listened to that inner voice that made me question why Lani was alone. That tiny wee baby would not have survived in the heat of the day, she was already seeming weak when I scooped her up and carried her to the barn. Victoria followed close, and Lani just inches behind that – there was no way we were going through that gate without her.

By the time the gals arrived for our WINGS picnic, the baby was strong and looked older than the six hours that she was. I announced a ‘surprise’ and they followed me to the barn. There they met the newest gal to join our WINGS group … a mascot of sorts. There’s been a discussion on the Facebook group page about what we’re going to call her. It seems that the name that is garnering the most positive response is Maxi. Maxi with WINGS.

Today she is running around, hopping and kicking. But then she laid down in my lap and went to sleep. She’s got a huge amount of personality already – spunky and feisty, yet gentle and calm. She’s one of US for sure.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


And so … another year. Older. Wiser, not so sure. Although, if wise were the mission of the day, I would treat it like a ‘new year’ and get myself into planning mode like I do in January and September. I need that extra month to get my act together. It’s just like the quote that Jae told me the other day … ‘If you look after the oughtas and gottas, the shouldas and couldas look after themselves.’ Well, I definitely OUGHTA get it together and I definitely GOTTA get in gear.
I don’t know … this year has spun on it’s own axis. That’s fine in many ways, but it definitely has been responsible for me losing track of a few things that are quite important to me.

Not People … that is always Priority One and absolutely continues to be. My days are filled with all kinds of wonderful relationships that enrich life … little folks and old folks, old friends and new ones, family that are friends and friends that are family. That’s all good and I don’t harbour too many shouldas and couldas in that realm.

It’s the Creative part that has suffered a bit thus far in 2011. I love to write but that has been remarkably absent. I haven’t written in my journals, or even my daily diary type thing that I have been consistent with for over 20 years. I haven’t written here. It’s not even the time, because we know, if it’s a priority, we always FIND time for it. No, it’s more that I can’t seem to conjure up words. It seems like I can’t write – don’t know how to write, have little or no desire to write. That has absolutely GOTTA change. I think I have just starved that part of me for so long that it’s shrivelling up. I am going to have to just ‘show up at the page’ and see what comes of that.

And photography. Oh my, is that strange to not have the camera beside me at every waking moment. I have stopped ‘seeing’ pictures. Usually I can stand in any given spot and find dozens of things that jump right out at me. The other day when I realized that I am not seeing in four by six, it scared me. I looked harder but it wasn’t there.

Who would I be if I didn’t write and take pictures. I haven’t used my hands to make anything either, and can’t seem to get focused in that vein either. What’s with that?

Actually, I think it all stems back to the fact that I had a Real Job for the first five months this year. I felt that kept me busy enough so when I wasn’t doing that I needed to focus on Priority One. I also wonder if it was because it was a left-brain type of job that my right brain just wasn’t being greased enough.

So … today I am going to get the grease out; get the lead out … going to start to think more effectively and get to the OUGHTAS so I am not whining at the end of the year about the SHOULDAS and COULDAS.