Saturday, December 31, 2011

What's the Point?

In a matter of hours, it’s over. 2011.  It has been a wonderful, full, rich year.  For our family, there was only one single fly in the ointment – the loss of our dear Abby. And really, that is quite remarkable.  Illness & loss & not-necessarily-good change is part of everyone’s world and that we can only point to one heartbreak over the year is, as I say – Remarkable.      

I am grateful. Every single day, I am grateful. In fact, when I climb into bed each and every night, I snuggle down and I give God my list of the FIVE things that I am grateful for that day.  Most often, the very first that comes to mind is that I am grateful for a warm and comfortable bed when so many in this world do not have that simple luxury.  Back in 1997 I wrote the five things I was grateful for each day. It was enough of a ‘diary’ that reading those single sentence entries would bring back the entire day to me. I have often thought during my night time regime, that I need to get back into that habit.

I do need to. It is the habit of writing that I have most sorely missed this past year.  It is a habit. When I do it regularly, the words come naturally. I think of a dozen things a day to ‘talk about’.  With falling from the habit of writing here – which I really, really do love to do – I have found myself being ‘frozen’ – having no clue how I can even begin to write about something.  When I am ‘In the Habit’, the smallest things are a story. Lately, nothing seems worthy of words.  That’s out of character for me.

A few months ago, I had the most lovely compliment when I was contacted by ‘BECOME.COM’ saying: “We would like to feature you in our Best of the Web, our weekly series recognizing the most interesting websites on the web.” I was honoured. And shocked. I didn't expect that someone actually READS my blog and they could think that anything that I would have to say as I ramble away to myself is even remotely of interest to anyone else.  The sweet gal who issued the invitation asked that I send a couple sentence to ‘describe my blog to someone whose never heard of it.’  In other words – ‘what's the point’?

Upon reading all the wonderful blogs that they have featured, I REALLY froze. I became totally intimidated in the stark reality that IS no point. There is no focus, no intent, no redeeming educational factor, no Greater Good. It’s just me. Me ... yattering about my insignificant little corner of the world. Randomly commenting on what pops into my mind on any given day. Suddenly, that was just not good enough. I got to thinking that there really SHOULD be a point. Me muttering about the goats in my flowerbed, a light that shines forever, my relationship to my fur-covered friends is of no interest to the world in general.  Simple as that.

I couldn’t follow up on that sweet & generous invitation because I am not worthy of a feature on anything.  I starting looking to change, to focus so perhaps I would be worthy. The truth is – it’s just not going to happen. My thoughts are random. My life is random.  I can’t explain any of it. If I wait until I discover the 'point' of anything - I will remain frozen.

I don't like living in a frozen state creatively. I need to rediscover that part of my being. I need to get back into The Habit.  The well is primed & ready ... a new year is on the horizon.

In 2012... I will write more – even if it is about Nothing Particular.  I will get back to ‘seeing photographs’ all around me and capturing them. I will get back to my studio and pull out all that wonderful stuff that I have been neglecting over the past year. And I will continue to do what I did all throughout 2011 – which was to expand my Circle, make new friends, have new adventures and generally LOVE all the people in my life, and indeed - just love and be grateful for Life itself. THAT is the point of my life, and I suppose, perhaps that is the ‘point’ of my blog … creating a Passionate Life from the very ordinary.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Slip,Slippin' Away

You know your life is out of control when it’s October and the calendar you walk by every day says JULY.  And the truth is, when you changed it in July it actually said APRIL.

You know your life is out of control when your slipper basket is empty, and now you can’t even find the ONE brother that is usually in there, missing his sibling. And you have to dip into your husband’s sock drawer (shhhh…) because, just like the slipper basket, the cupboard is bare. 

I don’t know what has happened to 2011.  I seem to have lost a big chunk of it for no good reason.  Yes, I’ve worked at a ‘Real Job’ for a portion of it, but that’s hardly an excuse – lots of people seem to do that.

I used to be able to do so much more with my time.  When I had four kids under nine, I also had a full time job, belonged to three or four organizations, cared for my aging parent, had a menagerie of animals and still ‘made things’ and did shows. When the kids got a little older and more active, so did I. I substituted the job for my own retail business, then added wholesale into that, a few more organizational involvements and I still was able to change the calendar regularly .And I usually could find my socks.

Now, shamefully, I am not involved in any community organization. Well, I suppose that’s not true – Jaime and I have started our own. I don’t have kids to tend and run around all over the countryside.  I don’t even have a dog to feed – just a semi-feral cat.  I have ‘made’ basically nothing all year, and my house is as disorganized and upside down as it was when I was in the throes of full blown creativity.

So what’s up with me now? I can’t get my head together to write on this blog. I can’t get my act together to do my photos and quotes on The Daily Muse.  For over 20 years I have every single day documented in a diary. I can account for my time. Sometimes I’ve had to back up and fill in a few when the week got away from me, but now I have two entire months BLANK.  That’s what my life kinda feels like … blank.

And I know THAT is not true. It’s filled to the brim with people I love, wonderful activities, full and eventful days – every minute full to capacity.  Some might say ‘Well, right there is your problem.’  But the point is, my life has always, ALWAYS been that full.  I just don’t seem to be processing it as effectively as I once could.

Age. I guess that’s the reality of it. I just can’t juggle as many things as I could.  Oh humbug (who says HUMBUG anymore – that’s how badly I’m stuck)  … that’s not it.  That’s a pathetic excuse. I surely have gathered up some wisdom and strategies for coping. Perhaps it’s just time to use them.

I’ve got to do some thinking on this. I’ll get back to you. Right now  I’m going to go change the calendar to NOVEMBER.  Oops ... that's not so bright. Time is slipping way too quickly as it is. 

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.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Never Long Enough

I walked to the cabin today, alone. First time. Ever. And to get the newspaper; and to visit the donkeys and up to bed – unnaturally alone. I automatically shut the livingroom door then realized there was no need. I’ve done that ten times. When I come out of my room in the dark, I veer to the left, but there is no need. There was no one sleeping there. I went to town with the strangest feeling just walking out and came home feeling even stranger when there was my arrival went unnoticed.

I knew I’d miss her. I wasn’t prepared for quite THIS much. I see her everywhere – every square in of this place - inside and out. Every way I turn I see a snapshot in my head with her in it. I hear the jingle of her collar and last night, I was sure I heard her bark. I walk around alone and I can hardly stand it. I have an uncontrollable urge to go to her and plead ‘Wake UP, Abby – you HAVE to wake up!’

It’s likely worse because Brian is gone for the week and I don’t do ‘alone’ all that well. I’ve never had to, I had her. I hardly took a step that she wasn’t in the picture somewhere. Sometimes it was an enthusiastic ‘Wait for me, wait for me! I’m coming!’. Often it was just her quiet presence in the background, my silent guard, my shadow of almost fourteen years.

December 4th, 1997 is when she came to be with us. The house was still filled with the noise and chaos of children and teenagers. The yard was filled with chickens & goats & cats & horses & pigs & donkeys and a menagerie of other critters that came and went. All that’s left now are my geriatric long-eared friends and one feral cat that we’ve been feeding for eight years who still refuses to let me touch her.

She got us through the transition of the empty nest. We still got to keep a ‘child’. Someone still to fuss about and fuss over. Being an ‘only child’, it probably was a little bit ridiculous how much fussing that entailed. We would turn the television on for her when we left, so she wouldn’t be lonely. She’s been deaf for at least a year, but we would still have a discussion about what program she’d want on. I’d insist that she didn’t LIKE golf – it was too slow and boring; Brian would say ‘sure she does, she loves sports.’ ‘No. She likes CHICK stuff.’ I’d tell him. More times than I can count, when I’d get in bed, Brian would say ‘Is Abby in?’ I’d say: ‘Really... has Abby EVER spent one night her entire life outside – why wouldn’t she not be in tonight?'

I’d be a little bit put out when Brian was away and he’d call home and only ask how Abby was. I asked why he never asked about the kids, just the dog. He said ‘Well, I KNOW you’ll look after the kids.’ Like as IF I wouldn't look after the dog too. He always fussed and worried about her. He said ‘You know, I could stay in Newfoundland for months if it weren’t for missing Abby.’ I say ‘What about the kids?’ His reply was that he could talk to them, and they’d know he’d be coming back. One night, a number of years ago, she was sick had climbed onto our bed. In the middle of the night when I got up, I tripped over Brian laying on the floor at the end of the bed. ‘What are you doing?’ I asked. He said ‘I didn’t want to disturb Abby when she’s not feeling good.’ was his answer.

Abby came to be with us on December 4th, 1997. There was teacher’s strike at the time and the government had sent families with children in elementary school $400 for the inconvenience of child care. I was leaving for a week long sculpting class in Montana early in the morning on December 5th. It was after supper when we were reading the newspaper and saw an advertisement: “Airedale puppies: $400.” That was about half the usual price because she was unregistered. 'Papers' aren't a pre-requisite for love in our house.

We had made it through the grief of losing our beloved Airedale, Bobbi Jo, in June and we were not coping very well with having no dog. We ignored the lateness of the evening, the impracticality of me leaving the next morning, Christmas in three weeks and the challenges of trying to train a puppy in the winter. We happened to have four hundred dollars that had come unexpectedly, so surely it was a sign. We loaded the four kids in the car and headed off for the hour drive to look at the puppies, knowing full well that there would not be a chance of us coming home without one.

We brought her home and she sat on my bed while I packed my suitcase. We talked about what we would call her and decided on ‘Montana’ because of my trip. I felt a little guilty leaving them all for a week with a new pup, but they managed fine and she had lots of attention. When I arrived home and got to know her, it was quite apparent that her name wasn’t to be Montana. It just didn’t suit her. We tried ‘Striker’ for awhile, because of how we got her, but that didn’t fit either. It was into her third week of really having no identity, when her name presented itself. She was fun and silly and did crazy things all the time. I went out to Brian’s shop and said: “That dog is just not normal. I know her name. It’s Abby. Abby-Normal.”

And hence she was our Abby. Our big beautiful, sweet and gentle friend. The time with her went far too quickly, as time always does. I wasn’t ready to let her go, but of course, I never would have been. We are never ready to say good-bye to our dear friends.