Another Rainy Day

My dogs just ate my lunch. It was a huge bowl of piping hot, thick, chicken, lentil, and vegetable stew that I had fixed and then sat on the dinning room table to eat. I remembered that I needed to call a wood cutter to order a load of firewood, and turned my attention away from my food a moment too long. Both dogs are sound asleep now, having ate their own bowls of food as well as mine.

It is a cold, wet, grey day outside, but I’m enjoying it. Inside the house it is wood-stove warm, and there is a pan of chicken roasting in the oven. This morning I dressed warmly for chores, and with no wind to speak of, the softly-falling rain gave me inspiration…on where I need to create walkways to the house, which gutters need replacing or removing, and just where to put the loads of gravel in the horse paddocks.. I also realized I am just about out of firewood, hence the need to order a load.

I am no yard expert, but today seemed like a terrific day to over-seed grass in the mostly bare yard around the house. I know I might not appreciate the thicker grass come summer time, but having grass in the yard is preferable to bare dirt, so that’s what I am going for.

There are dozens of tiny birds resting in the trees right outside the front door in the rain. I wonder where they go at night? And do they get cold? I hope they don’t eat all the grass seed I just put down. But if they do, I still have seeds left in the bag, and I will seed again…and be happy to have grass AND birds, come spring of the year.

 

 

My Friend Tonya

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It’s Sunday morning. A cold Sunday morning. Tonya, the pitbull, loves cold mornings because I bring in wood for the fire, and she likes to decorate the house with it. While I am sitting at my laptop doing my morning writing, I keep hearing drops onto the old wood floor of the living room. I shrug it off for awhile, thinking she is playing with some of her heavier toys, like her tire, her five-foot stuffed snake with the plastic head, or her big kong. But nope, when I catch sight of her running past me with a 4 pound log of wood in her mouth, the Pomeranian jumping joyously at her heels, I decide I better investigate, and find she has moved each piece of firewood to a new location.

Two big chuncks are on my bed, one piece is on the bedroom floor, and the rest of them are scattered around the living room. I ask her what in the world she is doing, and she looks proud of herself, then when I give her my displeased look, she sulks off for a moment,  until she thinks I’ve forgotten about her mess, which is usually about 10 seconds, then comes back again ready to play.

When I let them outside, Tonya jumps onto the milk-stand turned dog sofa sitting beside the front door. It used to have two dogs beds on it but Tonya chewed them up so badly they had to be thrown away. Tonya ran out the door, immediately grabbed the board off the milk stand she had un-nailed yesterday and threw it on the ground…happy to have found a chunk of wood to play with once again. I couldn’t help but laugh.

I don’t know if anything could set a day right better than the antics of happy dogs at play. Even digging in the yard, there is something contagious about their enthusiasm and love of life, and of us, even when we are not at our best. Even when we’re grumpy, or mean, or look a mess first thing in the morning, our dogs look at us like we are the most wonderful human in the world. And to that dog, in that moment, we are.

Tonya is in training to be a therapy dog. That was my intention when I got her as a 6 week old puppy. A dog whose breed is often stigmatized unfairly. A dog that is often guilty, unless proven innocent. A dog that I could relate to.

I didn’t set out to change the world’s perception of pitbull dogs, but rather, to prove to myself that the lies others tell about us, that we tell about ourselves, are just that, lies. And to be happy, we just have to…be happy. And no matter what someone has said about us, what lies they’ve told: “you’re not good enough”, “you’re a cheater”, “you are ugly”, “you are worthless”, “you are a dumb-ass whore”, “you make me sick”, “you are one of those horrible people”, etc.  We are reminded that a statement does not equal truth, even if it is directed at us, or our dog, even if our dog is a pitbull. Untruths have no bearing on who we really are.

And then we can breath again.

ps. Tonya has her own instagram page @myantoniathepitbull

Sacred

Of a Smokey Stove and a Cold Morning

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I might say, it’s a wee bit cold in the castle this morning. The chimney is a little clogged but the clean out cap is solidly rusted on…thanks to a chimney sweep who removed the old, cumbersome chimney cap and replaced it with a new version that never kept the rain out, turning the chimney pipe into a steam heater, solidly gluing deposits of burned wood to the sides of the pipe. Summer dried the deposits out and loosened them, and gravity made sure they all fell to the bottom of the pipe, effectively inhibiting the flow of smoke up the chimney.

We have a fire going this morning, but it’s a bit smokey upon opening the stove door. A chimney sweep is being sourced at this time, after my failed attempts at removing the cap as well as the entire lower pipe piece. None of the pipe moves without moving the stove, and I am no match for a 1000 pound wood stove.

The clogged stove pipe reminds me of a few interesting insights I’ve experienced lately, being less focused on my personal problems, and more focused on things that make me feel good, like a clean sink, a swept floor, that sort of thing. It’s funny how that happens. It’s always unexpected, and only happens after you take your focus off the thing you are trying to figure out.

Kind of like a clogged chimney, where the heat and smoke don’t flow freely, and when looked at, back up out of the stove door as soon as it’s opened. When we look at our problems, and focus on them, they clog up our minds and our bodies, making us depressed, anxious, and a bit crazy. But taking the focus OFF of our problems and the things we DON’T like, and focusing instead on the things in our lives we DO like, even little things, or anything else, besides our problems, we clear the way for solutions and answers to flow freely to us, uninhibited.

So, I play games with my five year old grandson with no guilt at all. In the grocery store, we pretend we are crawling through the ductwork in the ceiling, at home we play genies and gems on the computer, get excited over new pokemon we’ve caught or hatched, animate the dogs and stuffed animals, and make up new dances and short plays…

Everyone should have access to a five-year old child. We could all throw away our prozac while constructing an imaginary world that is a lot more fun and less problematic than our “real lives”.

And that is all.

Construct

My Neighbors Dog

I’ve always wondered if people who live next door to writers ever walk a little tighter line for fear of being portrayed negatively in some some novel, or magazine article, and lately, maybe even a facebook post. Sometimes I grin mischievously to myself when I think of the “relationship” that landed me out here in the middle of no where, away from friends and family, only to dissolve under the pretense of love gone bad. There of course, was never any love. Love does not go bad. But when I sit down to novelize some of the craziness that went on here before he left…my brain shuts off and my computer freezes up. The past, I realize, no matter how awful or even how glorious, is best left where it is, and not regurgitated, longed for, worried about, or dreamed of. Sometimes though, it kind of shows back up unexpectedly.

One of my neighbors, whom I’ll call Mr. Bagsly, has a dog I’ll call Dog, since I don’t know his name, or even if he has a name. Dog does not like me. I don’t know why. I put food out for Dog every day. Dog visits morning and night, and sometimes all day too. My dogs do not like Dog. I don’t know why. He is nearly a permanent fixture here. He even poops in the yard. My dogs bark at Dog whenever they see him. Mr. Bagsly kept Dog tied up for years, now that Dog is free, I don’t think he knows what to do with himself.

When I come out of the yard fence, Dog will lunge at me like a wolf. Dog scares me. Dog hides behind the truck near the garage and when I come around to get grain for the goats in the dark evenings, he is often laying there, like he’s waiting for me. I think Dog might want to attack me, but he never has. So far.

Mr. Bagsly used to run down the road with a leash whenever Dog got loose and catch him and bring him back home. Now, Mr. Bagsly never tries to get Dog to come back home. So Dog stays on this farm a lot of the time. But no matter what I’ve tried, Dog refuses any kind of affection. He will not even take meat leftovers out of my hand, or dropped on the ground. He refuses anything I offer.

This “thing” I have going on with Dog kind of reminds me of the “relationship” I had with the person who used to live here. I tried everything humanly possible to befriend that person. I went out of my way to do things for him. I tried every way I knew how to show and prove I loved him. But, like Dog, he never trusted me and never grew to love me. Never. In the 15 years I knew him, he never once told me he loved me. He never once trusted me. He never once was happy with me or happy to be with me. Ever. And I always blamed myself. I constantly worked on myself to make  myself more lovable, more gentle and kind, more understanding, more patient, more worthy.

Some days I think maybe he and Dog are onto something. Maybe they know secret things about me that “common idiots” like my my friends and my own dogs, are too stupid too see. Some days I want to put a bullet through my head and just get the hell out of here. But then I remember, because I’ve done so much work on myself, that we attract people and conditions into our lives that we are a match for. For example, when we are able to be happy and joyful and connected to God, no matter our current circumstances, we attract happy, joyful, God/Source centered people into our lives.

Esther Hicks says that to attract happy circumstances into your life, you first have to BE happy. Our culture has it backwards. Society tells us that when everything is perfect, THEN we’ll be happy. It’s a very hard way of thinking to break. But, our happiness depends on…us being happy.

And about that dog. I really don’t care if Dog likes me or not. I realize he probably has suffered trauma and abuse at the hands of his owner, and is acting the only way he knows how, and it has nothing to do with me.

Nothing. To. Do. With. Me.

Culture

Mr. Pungent

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I’m not very good with smells. I mean, I either like them, or I don’t. I usually don’t try and define them, catagorize them, or spend too much time thinking about them when I am not actually experiencing them. But fall seems to be the time of year when scents, both pleasant and awful, assult our olfactory senses more than any other time of the year.

One of the most pungent fall scents for me, that starts in August on this farm, is buck goat in rut. Rut is a hormal state male goats go into in the fall. Their neck swells, they begin to pee on their front legs, and their glands begin to secret an oily, smelly, “pefume” that they rub all over themselves and anything, including humans, in the vicinity. In late August, when the first hint of buck in rut is in the air, it immediately brings memories of fall leaves, cooler weather, fires, harvests, and holidays.

If you’ve never lived around goats, and buck goats in rut in particuar, you simply don’t understand the true definition of the word “pungent”. I have tried for 11 years now to think of something I could compare the smell of a rutty buck to, so people could understand without actually having to smell one for themselves. The word “pungent” is the best definition I can think of, and should be re-classified in the dictionary as “the smell of buck in rut”.

Buck in rut does not smell like something rotten. It does not smell like onions, or any type of musk perfume that I have ever smelled. It does not smell like over-aged wine, or a dead animal, but it will make your eyes water, your stomach turn, and your throat gag.

The putrid stench will get in your hands and clothes and any item that comes anywhere near a very affectionate buck goat in fall rut, and the oily, smelly mess will never wash out of any type of fibers, and will take days and perhaps weeks, to wash off of your skin.

I never really got the full affect of my own two bucks this year as they are pastured with the horses out in the fresh air where the smell is not so strong. Recently though I had the opportunity to help a friend who has a large buck inside a small stall in her barn. Whoa, lordy, I had forgotten what I was missing! That stomach-churning, putrid, pungent smell that only female goats will ever appreciate.

God works in mysterious ways and I’m sure dissertations have been conjured and perhaps even written on why domestic male goats have the need to exude the most olfactory-assaulting smell that has ever existed in the universe…and I’m talking purposeful smells here, not smells like rot or death that indicate something horrible that we need to get away from…but something willful, and apparently necessary, and even attractive to females of the right species.

…Food for thought.

ps. The buck goat in the picture is my old guy Atticus. He was always especially friendly during rut and would spend hours rubbing his smell all over my mares, who actually seemed to like him quite a bit. He has gone on to another farm now, but he’ll always be my favorite stinky boy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pungent

Liminal

Today WordPress’s one-word prompt of the day is “Liminal”.  Merriam Webster defines Liminal as: 1) of or relating to a sensory threshold 2) barely perceptible 3) of, relating to, or being in an intermediate state, phase, or condition: in-between, transitional, as in the liminal state between life and death.

Whoa, doesn’t that just describe me and this farm most days to a T? I don’t think I’ve ever had a day when I could say, “okay, this is it, I’m where I need to be, now it’s time to get down to the business of living.” Instead, most days are spent trying to figure out how to get over the next hurdle; what to do about a partner who wants to end a relationship and I have no where to go, finally ending the relationship and then finding myself the sole owner of an old, run-down house I have no money or knowledge to know how to fix, watching the hay supply get smaller and smaller with no funds to buy more, watching my grandson get sicker and sicker, and then finally being diagnosed with Leukemia and all the horror that treatment entails.

As I watch  myself in the mirror every day getting older and older, realizing I can’t stop the train of aging, I teeter in the Liminal state of one day looking in the mirror, or perhaps passing that certain birthday, where I will actually be old enough to be “old”. And dreading that day, while looking forward to it at the same time. Old people don’t have to worry about all this liminal stuff. They can wake up anytime they want, take some meds, go back to sleep, watch TV, play with their great grandkids, go for a walk, fall down, pee in the bed, spit food all over their nurses, and finally hold their breath long enough that they die.

The End.

I don’t know if anyone ever gets to the place where they can say “I’ve arrived”. Except maybe when they get to Walmart, that’s kind of hard to miss, and you certainly know you are there. And maybe this great lostness, and unknowingness we all feel at some time or another, is yet but another really good reason to just to super nice to each other all the time, and help each other through our liminal phases. After all, in the end, we all travel the same road into eternity…or maybe some of us head south while the rest of us tarry on towards the much cooler north, but maybe that’s really the only state of non-liminalness that exists…the state of finally being with our Lord. Thinking about it that way kind of takes the pressure off down here, don’t you think?

I wish you all a less liminal, beautiful Sunday.

 

 

 

 

Liminal

It’s Too Dark To Exercise!

Even though I did no feasting over the Thanksgiving holiday, (I know, dieters everywhere are hating me right now), I feel sated. Full. Stuffed. Over-full. Like I need a 10 mile run. Times 10. With shorter winter days, it’s getting harder and harder to find a safe place to get outside for exercise while it’s still light.

When I lived in the city, I often ran in the dark on well lit streets or at the gym. Living in the countryside, down a narrow back road with no hint of a street light or sidewalk or even a place to jump off the road when a car full of drucken teenagers or a farmer late for milking comes barreling down the road, unless you count the ditch.

And I’m not a fan of night time, country roadside ditches. They are full of road-kill stew…only not the edible kind…rather a mixed brew stew of opossums, deer, racoons, dogs, cats, vultures…and any other kind of  vehicular homicide varmit victim, with broken glass and paper wrapers thrown in for good measure, or maybe seasoning. Nope, especially after a rainstorms when the ditches are full of water and the “stew” is much more stew-like, and even more gruesome. Nope. Can’t go there.
Where I live, in the middle of no where, the only gym in town, a ladies-only gym, opens from 10 am to 4pm. I mean, who can actually use a gym with hours like that? And so, the satiation factor seems to be growing, increasing, maintaining a wider girth, etc. Luckily, I live on a farm where there is always free exercise to be had, although not quite the kind I’m wanting, and I rarely have junk food in the house…or if it does manage to wiggle in through the doorway with my daughter or my grandson, it’s soon gone, and then there is none any more.

So today, I’m thinking up a plan. One to beat down the satation feeling just a bit, and increase the feeling of being a lean, mean, (I’m actually nice, but nice doesn’t fit here), farming woman machine. Something I can do in the house, but not a treadmill. If I ran on a treadmill in the living room, me and the treadmill would soon be under the house, probably with the house on top of us.

Must. Think. Of. Something. Else.

Happy Saturday everyone!

Sated