Friday, August 22, 2014

Union Farmers Market...

All week long I look forward to the Union Farmers Market. It's not very big, but there is just something so upbeat and happy about it.
In the past I could rarely go, because by the time I was done with work on Friday they were wrapping things up, but now that I am grooming from home I can go every week, and I have!

There is often live music. Today's music was delivered by a young woman so beautiful I just had to take her picture. She played sweetly, too. Doesn't she just have a magical glow about her?



There are booths selling locally made goat cheese and locally raised meats, lots of produce, and amazing baked goods...
I bought a raspberry tart made from fresh local berries. It tastes like summer exploding on my tongue!


I love to see the plants and wreaths and dried flower arrangements...



Something about this sweet little market makes me feel joyous.

After the market I stopped by my friends house. I admired their young turkey poults, the adorable Indian Runner ducklings,the enormous bull that is going to a new farm tomorrow, and then was gobsmacked by how lovely their vegetable garden is...




I came home my little outing with fresh corn on the cob, a fragrant little rustic Boule loaf, and that above mentioned tart. I am alone this week because my husband is off on a business trip. I've been mostly snacking but tonight I cooked a little steak on the grill, and an ear of corn, and dipped the bread in some garlic olive oil sauce I whipped up. A feast enjoyed at the picnic table surrounded by my critters. Like the rest of this perfect summer day, it was a treat.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I believe...

I believe there are things that we cannot explain.
I believe there are powers around us that we cannot see, or truly understand. Rather like we know that there is electricity, though we cannot see it.

I've been wanting to write about this for a while, but wasn't sure how. Or if I could. Or if I should. But it keeps knocking on my skull, waiting to be let out, so here it is.

When I was a very little girl in the early 1960's my family went to church every week. I grew up in a wee, small town, and we went to the beautiful church near the town center. I can still see it in my minds eye... the wide steps, the doors that were never locked, the hard, simple pews and the tall windows. I would go to Sunday school, and wear a frilly dress and lacy socks and GLOVES. The gloves might have only been at Easter, but they are firmly in my memory. My mother even had a white leather glove box in her dresser, with different types of gloves for different occasions, but I digress.



At some point, when I was between the ages of 6 and 10, there was some scandal with the minister. Lots of whispered talk happened among the adults I knew, and our family abruptly stopped our Sunday morning ritual. There was a field across the street from where we lived, and, apparently missing that which I had lost, I used to take the bible that I had been given in church (it had my name embossed on the black cover in gold letters!) to my favorite spot in that meadow and read it. I loved the 23 Psalm the best. But that whole mysterious break with the church left my young self feeling oddly angry and unhappy. I decided, very firmly,at a young age, there was NO God. And that is where I stood for much of my life, despite going to a Christian based college and taking classes in religion and being surrounded with Christian friends and professors.

Years passed and then something happened. My husband and I were living in a sweet, wee house in Memphis, Tennessee. Our daughter was 5 years old, and we were a happy little threesome. Our Sunday morning ritual was that we would have a lovely family breakfast, then cozy up in the living room and read the paper together while our daughter played. It was March 5th, the sun was slanting in through the windows and my husband I were sitting on the squishy mauve and blue sofa sharing sections of newspaper and commenting to each other about what we read. Daughter Rachel was sitting on the carpet in a pool of sunshine, surrounded by toys, happily entertaining herself. Suddenly, I was awash in what can only be described as pure JOY. It was overwhelming, all encompassing, breathtaking. It was like every fiber of my being was infused with light and love and goodness and a level of elation I had never known. My eyes welled with tears. I said to my husband, "This may sound weird, but I am COMPLETELY happy." I was imbued with the sense that all was well, everything was as it should be, and my entire being was alight in a way I had never before experienced. I was utterly content, and more. Truly, I do not know the words to describe the sensations I experienced. Moments later, the phone rang. It was my sister, sobbing. She had news to tell me... our father had just died. My emotions took a roller coaster dive, from elation to extreme sorrow, in one blinding second.

Later I wondered, what was it that made me so incredibly joy-filled in those moments? The answer that came to me was that my beloved fathers spirit was passing by me as he moved from this plane to the next, and shared his elation with me. We had a close relationship, and it was not a stretch for me to think he would swing by for a visit on his way to his next stop.



A few years passed. My elderly mother died, and then, too young, my older sister. I grieved her death hard. She was only 53, and vibrant and smart and funny and I had not had enough time with her by far. One day,shortly after she passed, when I was deep in the pain of loss, I was walking across the impeccably, flawlessly, suburban manicured lawn of one of my customers, and looked down to see a perfect hawk feather in the grass. It stood out in that unblemished green expanse and felt like some sort of sign to me.

Meanwhile, a neighbor who had become a friend died. She had been quite ill, and alone, and I had tried to help her as best I could. On the day of her funeral my daughter yelled, "Mommy, Mommy! Come quick!" I ran outside. She was pointing her chubby finger to the sky over our house. "Miss Bobbie is playing with sidewalk chalk in the sky!" A perfect rainbow, in the shape of a flat "C" (not your typical arch) shone over our house. It seemed like a happy message to me, and I was grateful.



It was these things, and more, that led to what someone later gave me a name for. "A suspension of disbelief." That stubborn little girl that refused to imagine there was more than what was tangible let go a bit, and adult me began to understand that I could not know all there was to know, could not see all there was to see.

Years have passed. I have begun to seek out signs that there is something more. Maybe because I am aging. I do not fear death, but I am curious about it. I have read books about the existence of angels. Having a firm vein of skepticism through my core, I do not fully embrace this thought, but it appeals to me just the same. One thing that resonates with me is that if you see a feather, it can be a sign that angels are near. Since I have and care for a flock of 17 chickens and 7 ducks, there are a LOT of feathers in my life. Drifts of them when the birds moult, but new ones almost every day, all year long, here and there. It seems a bit MUCH to that angels are near me as often as I find feathers from my domestic flock.

Tonight, after a long day of work and farm chores, I sat at my comfortable picnic table as the sun sank low,casting the world in Rembrandt light. The space around me was silent except for the contented muttering of hens as they entered the coop, and the sound of the horse and goats as they tore grass and chewed. Happy, I sent up a silent "thank you." It went something like this, "Thank you, God, thank you angels, for the lovely day. Please watch over those I love, please let there be peace and happiness in the world." And then, in my peripheral vision, I saw something. Over the lush pasture grass, falling in slow motion from the evening sky, was a feather.

I watched it as it drifted down, down, and vanished in the undulating green. Without really thinking,I got up from my seat, crossed the lawn, opened the gate and walked across a large expanse to where I thought I had seen that feather fall. The horse saw me coming and came to give me a nuzzle. I stroked her as I looked into the deep herbage below me, knowing the chance of me finding what I thought I had seen fall was needle-in-a-haystack slim.



Yet... there is was. Wee-small and insignificant, but clearly in sight. A flawless feather.

I did not see the bird it fell from, though I am tuned to see the animals around me. I only saw this small, light thing as it floated down on air. It reminds me that there is so much I cannot understand, and there is so much beauty... all around me.





Monday, August 18, 2014

Fun...

Today's blog challenge is, "What do you like to do for fun?"

There are some obvious things...




I adore kayaking, and taking a dip while I'm at it. There is something so serene and joyous about being on the water and so close to nature. I have only kayaked ONE time this summer. I plan to go a lot in the next few weeks to make up for that lack so far.

But I have fun doing things that most people wouldn't consider to be a good time at all!



I have fun at my work, grooming dogs. And I adore writing, which is one of my "other" jobs. I tuck up on my super comfy sofa, with my wonderful laptop. Two or 3 dogs snug in close to me, and I play soft music and the hours fly by in a happy way.



I have a lot of fun just hanging out with my animals. And my husband. I like to let the livestock into the back yard, or take a bucket and sit on it in the pasture, and just watch the critters, and pet them when they come up and "maul" me. It is joyful and almost always good for a belly laugh.

I think mucking out the horse and goat stalls is fun, and cleaning the chicken coop? It's a treat! I'm serious. I love it. Love it all.



I have a great time cooking, and an even better time EATING!



Haunting "junk" shops with my kid is super fun, maybe even more fun than cleaning the chicken coop! I find fun in so much of my daily existence... a blessing beyond measure.





Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gifts...

Today's "Magic up your blog" challenge had me flummoxed. It is this, "How do you use your spiritual Gifts to change lives and make a difference?" My gut answer was, "I don't. I don't have spiritual gifts to share."

But then, while spending a rainy morning surfing the net and gathering information for a magazine article I am working on, I decided that perhaps, in a way, I do. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I am thinking that maybe I make a wee difference by telling stories.



One of my sisters-in-law once asked, "Why do you have a story for everything?" I don't know. I just do. I never really thought about it until today, but ask me about the recipe for something I just cooked for you and more often than not I'll say, "Oh! There is a story about that. I got that recipe from a guy who used to cut my hair and...." If I am to show you some treasure I just found at an antique store, I am apt to tell you a tale about how I happened to find that thing and why it is just perfect for some need I wanted to fill. And usually the stories are happy things, or sort-of-funny things, the kind of spiel that (hopefully) has a smile gently tucked in.

A few years back I had a chicken coop built to house my beloved hens. The man who built it brought his wife and some other family members along to assemble the coop on our property. The wife and I chatted, and I remember I told her a few stories. We are still in touch occasionally, and she has told me several times, "I still remember the stories you told me." I think she means that in a very nice way.

I write articles for several magazines. Some of the editors give me assignments, but my favorite articles are when I get to tell a story about someone that I admire. Someone who does good things that make their corner of the world a better place. Much like the colors and patterns carefully stitched by a quilt artist, I like to think that my stories are woven words that impart my upbeat,rose colored, glass-half-full, "aren't the "little things" just so great?" world view with those I share them with.

Taking the wide-angle view I see that everyone has spiritual gifts to share, and everyone does, in their own unique way.
Because everyone has a story.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Worth a thousand words....

I was not excited about the assignment for today's blog challenge... which was to write about my favorite television show or movie.
So I decided to share some images I found on my photo card.

My husband and daughter went on a boat trip a few weeks back, and my daughter borrowed my camera. It is always a treat to find photos I didn't take when I pop that card into the computer. It feels like a gift... a glimpse of the world through another persons eyes.



Then there were some shots I took here at FairWinds...



Chanel, hens and goats all enjoying a lovely summer day, the beautiful hydrangea bush I was given, and the incredible garden globe that was also a gift, nestled by the new rose bush I planted this spring. That is the happiest, blooming-ist rose bush!

And to close, some colorful photos from the Union Fair, which we visited today.



Little need for words, I think. The images of the loveliness here speaks a language all it's own.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day at the beach...



Today's blog challenge is to share a story from childhood.

The youngest of 5 children raised in a small New England town, I have many strong memories of days at the beach.
These days were organized and orchestrated by my mother, who had also been raised in New England and loved going to the beach with a joy-filled passion. I can only imagine what efforts it took to ready 5 kids for such a trip... the extra clothing and towels and blankets and toys she had to arrange for. And there was lunch, too. The typical beach menu was tuna fish sandwiches on white bread, potato chips, Oreo cookies and a fat Thermos full of ice-riddled pink lemonade.

Before we'd leave she would fill my little wading pool in the back yard up with the frigid well water than gushed from the garden hose. "Not yet," she'd tell me, but I couldn't resist dipping my toes in. I'd jerk them right back out again,that water was so cold it hurt.

Then she would load the herd of us into the old, wood sided station wagon. In those days before seat belts I would always get to sit on the "Horsey seat," (the fold down armrest.) We would sing and argue and talk all the way to the beach, and at least once my mother would say, "Be quiet! You children are going to drive me up a telephone pole!" Try as I might, I never could understand how a car could go up a telephone pole, it was something to puzzle over.

The beach of choice was Crane beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts, though sometimes we went to Plum Island instead. We'd all carry something from the car, across the sand parking lot, so hot it burned the soles of our feet, to the long boardwalk through the wiry grass and over the dunes. The world was sand colored and steamy, and then, there it was. The sparkling Atlantic, the unblemished sand, the clusters here and there of families with kids, an occasional beach umbrella, and the never ending cool breeze that came off the water.

Mom would choose a likely spot and set up her beach chair, spread towels for us kids on the sand, and with an expert flick of her wrists smooth the picnic blanket down, weighting the corners with the cooler and Thermos jug and such. Next she'd slather us all with sun tan lotion, and then we would be off, running wild and free towards the water. The "big kids" would hold my hands and we'd all squeal as the first foamy wave washed up over our feet and ankles.

There were sand castles to build, and shells to hunt, and tide pools to explore. Before long we'd brave the freezing waves and leap and yell and splash to our hearts content.

Behind her enormous sun glasses, from the vantage point of her canvas chair, mom would attempt to read a novel while keeping an eye on her brood.

We'd be ravenous by lunch time, and hardly mind the gritty feel of sand on our teeth as we devoured our sandwiches. Nothing ever tasted as good as the lemonade poured into little paper cups after a morning of sun and surf. Then there was usually a walk along the the waters edge as far as the eye could see, and little bits of driftwood to treasure and ropes of seaweed to drag behind me like a dragons tail. And all of that would make for one tired little girl. My mother would instruct the older children to make a circle privacy screen by holding up beach towels, and she would kneel beside me under that cover, stripping my sodden, sand filled bathing suit off. Then she would pour a gallon jug of water that had been warming in the sun over me, rinsing away the worst of the clinging sand from my little legs and behind. I'd cry because this meant the day was nearly over. Dressing me in clean, dry clothes she would marshal the other kids as they picked up our toys and kites and blankets and we would trudge, weary, back across the scalding lot to the car.

Back home, I'd be fretful and hot, and wanting more beach. Mom would let me peel my clothes off and jump, naked, into the wading pool she had filled that morning. Having sat under the sunny sky all day, the water was delightfully warm, and more sand would sift off my skin and make swirling patterns on the blue blue bottom of the pool. My lips would taste of sea salt for just a few more moments until I splashed that good flavor away with fresh water. But no amount of well water could ever wash away the ecstatic memory of a day spent living at the edge of the sea.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blogging challenge...

Starting today I am embarking on a 30 day adventure called the "Magic Up Your Blog Challenge." Topics are given and the intention is to encourage more writing. Since I've been slacking in the blogging department, this appeals to me. I hope it will appeal to you, too.

Today's topic is to write about a favorite quote or a motto.

The first quote that popped into my fuzzy head was one that I heard on the radio several years back. I loved it when I heard it, and have adopted it as a motto of sorts. It is this: "Do your work as well as you can and be kind." I've never had a motto before, and never thought I'd need one. Then one day I was at a housewarming party at my niece and her husbands new place. A sweet young couple I had never met was there with a tiny dog. When they found out I was a dog groomer they seemed excited. One of them asked, "Do you have a motto?" I'd never been asked such a thing, (have you?) My brain froze for a moment then I said, "Why yes! Yes I DO!" They nodded in approval when I tripped the above words neatly off my tongue.



Lately I have been working hard as I designed and helped create a space to groom in our home. It has been a journey spanning about 9 months, and in a way it feels as if I conceived and grew and birthed this project, so the 9 months feels quite appropriate. I have tried to be kind as I worked... baking for contractors and plotting on how to make this space a place where pets would be comfortable and feel safe.

Now is the part where amazing things will happen. I am putting my faith in that, and am grateful and delighted each time the phone rings, and every time someone comes here with their beloved pet. What is exciting for me is that after 30 years of loving my work, I am finding new energy and enthusiasm for working with animals and their people.I can hardly wait to get out of bed each day to spend time in the lovely space and do my familiar work in a marvelous new setting.

When I heard that quote one morning those years ago, I could not have imagined how the future would unfold. Fate has been kind.