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Another Lifetime

January 17, 2021

As I think back this evening, 1987, years ago I had gotten off work. Was tired and stoked the woodstove to go to bed early then got a phone call to meet someone. As I left to go to town, I put my fox terrier Teaser in the bathroom so she didn’t harass the cats.

When I got home an hour and a half later the roof was collapsing. They were gone. All were gone. Neighbors and firefighters pulled me away from the house as I tried to fight the truth and rescue something. I didn’t know then that they thought I was in it too.

Today I have been told I am too paranoid about fires and losing dogs locked in the house to one. No. Such. Thing. There was a lot of good come from that day…but as the snow came down I sure didn’t see it. As I sat in the fire chief’s truck and watched my border collie came up…the neighbors turned her loose to get away from the house. They didn’t know Teaser was in there. The cats were never found once the roof collapsed. Total. Loss.

Saturday night of a three day weekend that was rough. The Red Cross helped with a motel room for a few days. And people came forth with clothes, dog food, meals…and support.

Sometimes the things we take for granted aren’t seen until not there. Be present. Be thankful. I wouldn’t wish it on an enemy but certainly not anyone else.

Having to accept help was difficult. Swallowing pride rarely gives one indigestion but it’s not easy. It brings humility. We don’t deserve it but receive it anyway. Faith makes things possible, not easy. We value the light more fully after we’ve come through the darkness.

All this time has passed and I haven’t forgotten the Monroe Washington fire department that responded that night or the neighbors and people who helped in the aftermath. Many probably have passed away but they aren’t forgotten. They brought hope and a chance to rebuild and move on. Defeat isn’t bitter if you don’t swallow it.

Make a difference for someone. Be the person they remember 30+ years later.

How Do I Live

January 10, 2021

The last week has been a time of increased chaos. It has gone far beyond choice of president. Listening to people from a variety of backgrounds it is clear there is, at this point, absolute hopelessness in fixing the situation on any level.

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People breaking friendships that have existed for decades. People verbally attacking people they don’t know because of what they THINK they know…which is wrong. People breaking contact with family. People who have for years criticized President Trump for mocking people but wrap themselves up in mocking people and it’s absolutely justified. Neither President Trump nor soon to be president Biden need me to say squat about the situation. Neither have, seriously, a place here to say anything personal and even representatives in district I’m not sure they know where Nauvoo is. This isn’t politics, really.

I’ve seen people on a housekeeping sight flaming other people for their personal beliefs…seriously we can’t clean a sink without being political? Really? People on a dog group flaming others for their beliefs about their dogs and concern preventing a dog being trapped in a fire is paranoid. Throughout the week I read many things and see there won’t be peace because people don’t WANT peace. They not only want chaos but embrace it through outright insults and bullying of other people while saying those other people we don’t like shouldn’t bully people. There’s backhanded insults and direct ones of anyone thinking different. Many claim to be Christians. And through the whole thing it echoed…

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

And “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him saying, Lord, when we thee an hungered or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”

Do I agree with willful lawlessness? Absolutely not. But I also don’t agree with the responses or excusing lawlessness because that’s different. I don’t worship Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden…indeed neither directly has an affect on my daily life. The person who said I need to go back to my bunker (which I don’t have) really means nothing…but the ugliness seems ok as long as against Trump. I doubt there are many, if any, people in my circle who have sat down with either man for dinner, visited their homes or had either visit theirs…yet they can determine their very heart and salvation! Doesn’t that put people at God’s level? Is that humble?

I think of the story of a group where people brought a photograph of someone they had ill will towards and it was put on a bulletin board. They threw darts at the photos and enjoyed the tearing up of people they knew and some they didn’t know – celebrities, etc. Then the photos were collected and underneath was a photo of Jesus. Stabbed with darts, torn, destroyed. There was nothing any single person could do to fix it…the fix is in our own hearts and actions. Is that happening now? I’ve heard for decades it doesn’t take being Christian to be a good person…true, but how many of those are truly any different? The damage is done. Every comment, every justification for a negative comment, every ugly name called is damage. Some say the President should be held to a higher standard, and that is true. But Christians are held to a higher standard too. We should guard our mouths from negative and strive to be better. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes goes right out the window when we justify belittling someone. We are not so smart to know who God is using. Swallowing words before you say them is so much better than having to eat them afterwards. Words break no bones but they can break hearts.

Suicide is rampant. Depression increases. Kids are watching and soaking up what people tell them which is their perception, not necessarily the truth. The truth is buried…silenced…when it’s who is the loudest or most vocal. If you were on trial and the last 4 days of social media posts would clear you or convict you what would it say? It’s just social media it’s not real…wrong. There’s real people on the other end of those messages. People who may be isolated, may be just hanging on, may be praying, may be plotting to exact revenge, may be one message from giving up. If that doesn’t matter then what difference does it make who the president is? We cannot preach humanity and rejoice in someone else’s misery.

Condemnation leaves no room for forgiveness. Without forgiveness we aren’t, as Christians, forgiven as we could be. Is it worth it? Is a nasty driven tirade on Facebook worth it? Hurting people hurt people…and that is passed along too.

”Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. …For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans do the same? ”

Pray for our enemies isn’t just a line in the Bible…it’s a call to pray for our enemies. Not condemn them. Not taking God’s place in judging. The wave isn’t blue or red anymore…it’s animosity.

God help us all.

Good bye 2020

January 1, 2021

The year has been a challenge from day one. It’s been a year of loss and challenge. It’s been a year of public ugliness and community triumphs. It’s been a time of what I say on here is so monumentally insignificant I wonder why say anything. It feels forced at times.

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And in reflection that will change. More reflective posts will appear and maybe less filling a page or trying to do so many posts in a time frame. Shouldn’t it matter? I think so.

I always do a lot of reflection this time of year. This year it’s a year of loss…from a friend Carrigan in the last days of 2019 to the end of life of a friend, Ian, to the loss of things and changes getting older that comes to some of us lucky enough to keep breathing through another day. The loss of friends through distance and time is a factor more every year to look around and see who is still here. Who is really still here? It’s a small list.

So hello 2021. Hello changes. Hello making some remodeling on the blog and in life.

Storm Surges and Rebuilding

October 9, 2020

I’m watching the storms in Louisiana coming ashore, most recently a hurricane that will bring us rain tomorrow. Five years ago a suddenly appearing and suddenly disappearing storm surged to heighten a rebuilding here.

It’s easy to see things on the television of social media and imagine what it’s like. It’s another to experience it. It’s another to rebuild with minimal funds and help in an overwhelming stack of tasks.

When Connor and I surveyed the damaged mobile and down trees we had no idea what we were going to do. Finding the dogs was priority and fortunately all were ok. The overwhelm was incredible and it was easy to just give up before starting.

Then people came forward and step by step it got better. It didn’t seem possible. For weeks neighbors brought dinner, leftovers, something to where we had at least one good meal a day. The cast iron was pulled from the remains and cleaned up to be used over fire to help with cooking. No refrigeration made another massive problem that was handled step by step.

There were people that stopped with encouragement and yet were still times of utter discouragement and defeat. It was not only clean up but caring for animals, trying to get “the office” which became home in a new way. It has truly been a case of being worse before it gets better. *sigh*

There have been surprises of faith and answered prayers. Looking at the wreckage and seeing blessings is odd. But imagine no phone, no power, weeks before getting a phone to have contact with the outside area. no refrigeration and before getting dinner having to get a fire going, get the pan ready and cook dinner being an hour process. Three meals a day.

Connor learned to wire a house, with a mentor who was an electrician. The very outdated wiring was redone to be safe. The hole in the roof was replaced and the floors fixed. The eight foot rotted hole in the wall of the house was fixed. That sounds like easy…just call people right? Not here. It was three years to get basic.

Then improve it was two more…insulation above, replacing switches, lights and other things needed. Floors stained, walls painted…and at the same taking care of other things from gardens to animals to life’s emergencies including the loss of 14 friends and family members in less than a year. Shortly after that Mr. Bill passed away…the man who mentored Connor and said I was an inspiration to him to just keep going under the overwhelm and not giving up.

But faith was there. Imagine a few months after the storm…Connor is working on homework…I’m working on records and plans I could do. I was thinking about what I could do for Connor for lunch. Didn’t call anyone or post anything as there was too much to do. But I might have 2 ingredients and need 3…or didn’t have a way to cook that or this thing was out of the question. A truck pulls up out front and the driver chats about the dogs…I didn’t recognize him but people are different in small towns. He said he had something for me if I’d accept it and my curiosity was raised. He pulled out of his vehicle a 20 piece with trimmings chicken dinner from Jack’s in Carbon Hill.

Never underestimate the power of such an answered prayer in a time of need. Do something for someone. Don’t underestimate the power of a few pieces of chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy. Don’t underestimate the gift of an hour or so doing something that someone else can’t. I still have times it’s a need for help and for those who hate asking, too often it goes unasked. Don’t say “call me if you need help” say “what can I do to help you now?” Call me if you need help may come at a time you truly have something else happening…and hearing no at a vulnerable time is rough. Especially when overwhelmed and so much needs done.

This doesn’t mean just in literal storms. Continued steps mean maybe needing help putting some hay in a loft of the shed. Maybe it’s helping clean a kitchen or helping reorganize a pantry. Maybe it’s moving a crop before a storm or fixing a winter or airing up a tire.

Don’t underestimate gifts after storms. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Be a blessing. Pass it on.

The Rapture or Just Getting Older?

October 8, 2020

There are times when we look around at the losses just this year it seems like the Biblical rapture, but it could be too we’re all getting older. It’s been from the famous to the not so famous…Joe Diffey, Kenny Rogers, Helen Reddy, Johnny Nash (“I Can See Clearly”)…and the not so famous. Locally recently my neighbor Gene McDaniel passed away also. It’s had me revisiting legacy, making a difference.

Gene was a fixture from owning many historical buildings in town, having a street named for him and being involved in community activities. Last time I spoke to him he’d said if I had any ideas for community type projects let him know and he’d try to help. He was active in the summer car show (canceled this year due to covid) and very active in the Christmas parade which hosted a little food gathering after the parade for community get together. The last few years a Memorial tree was on his property too for the holidays with decorations of loved ones passed on.

Of course like small towns not all get along and there were some issues, I understand, from time to time. I didn’t get involved in it but stepping on toes can happen. With making differences here on my little place the last few years it’s a difference some likely don’t understand. I’m still trying to do projects and make some semblance of a living on this little corner of the world, which keeps me too busy to delve too far into other people’s business.

It’s time to start a new chapter. Part empty next, part community, part just trying new things. A little barn shed will arrive soon as a place to store Cocoa’s hay, dog food and an on site market spot for produce between farmer’s markets. This can get many things sold and available right here as well as a spot to get crafts, salves and other things to bridge the seasons. What will my legacy bring? Who will care? Will it be carried on or dwindle to nothing?

Some of those answers aren’t up to me. Some will see negative, some will see positive. Some think it’s weird, some appreciate it. Let’s all reach out and build our legacy daily. 2020 has seemed to be three years long and it’s October so not over! Christmas is coming and people publicly seem spiteful and hateful. Disagree with anyone and it’s battle time. It doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. Some folks just like to argue and love drama.

From now to the end of the year make it a point to be kind. Make it a Christmas of community not commercial alone. Buy gifts from local folks and make gifts because it matters more than the gadgets that will be forgotten by June 2021. Many haven’t made it through 2020. If it’s the last year make it memorable. Make it special. Make it one to be remembered by those left behind and if you have another one next year build on it!

Make every day special.

SlowMoneyFarm ABC – E

October 7, 2020

Back on track with the ABC thoughts from here. A handful of words from each letter may bring memories to share, emotion (a free E word there! haha) to generate and maybe think about this word a little differently

Extravagant can be perception…many think extravagant is large homes and fancy cars with meals that you can’t pronounce, and that may be. But for many extravagant may be running water, indoor showers, a full freezer and pantry and a little money in your pocket. Extravagant can be anything beyond your needs…and true NEEDS can shift with a storm.

Another E word is evoke…memories. Memories can be stirred with a smell of alfalfa, fresh cut grass, a perfume, lavender. These are pleasant for most. Other memories can be stirred from pine shavings, horse sweat, smoke, diesel fuel or spring soil. For me horse liniment and Bigeloil bring to mind race horses after a hard work.

Another perspective word is entertain – it may be as simple as watching a sunset or puppies or foals play in a meadow. It may be a concert or a favorite television show or new television. It can be expensive but in rural areas can be very inexpensive. A summer cookout with friends or tailgate gathering in the fall can be all it takes to be a break.

How about earth that is needed for growing crops and forage? Good soil grows salads like the one above. Taking care of the earth is priority on large and small places. Soil is needed for productivity and good soil makes a difference in what and how much can be grown.

Lastly, exposed is a big thing. Exposed to new idea, exposed to storms, exposed to new experiences. Exposed to risk, exposed to emotion, exposed to safety issues. Ordinary risks have taken new meaning this year.

Random words can bring memories. Entertain that for a while. Good memories. Good times.

Cocoa

September 11, 2020

Cocoa has been here about two years. He came as an auction pony in the back of the truck and has proven to be a work in progress with a combination of very smart with enough ornery to be interesting. He has learned to line drive and now has been hooked and driven. He’s advanced green but pretty solid.

 

He was in the Christmas parade with crowds and hubbub and didn’t put a foot wrong.

He has an unknown pedigree but is a big heart and a touch of mischief.

He might miss a bite of something here.

I’ve worked with pedigreed show horses and champion thoroughbreds. Many special horses have crossed paths and for some time I didn’t have a place to keep a horse without boarding, which wasn’t an option for me. With a small place I couldn’t have, at this point, a Thoroughbred or Saddlebred. I looked at some Hackneys and Shetlands but needed more than I knew they’d need.

Cocoa has shelter, feed, care. But he offers back entertainment, a good attitude and a touch of remembering those special horses no longer here. He puts up with a lot and I put up with his occasional pony brat self.

And life here would be so different without him.

A Laugh, A Memory, A Roller, A Friend

September 11, 2020

I have struggled with this one. Tears. “It can’t be!” Then memories flowed. Then it came on headlines. Then came tributes…and I still couldn’t share.

Going back some 45 years many know of the walls covered with Bay City Roller posters…some with an occasional Donny Osmond or David Cassidy or someone else in. Oh but the Rollers were a wave beyond. Then the famous lineup changed when Alan left and – gasp – an Irish lad took the musical spot. In less than a year he left but many fans followed to Rosetta Stone and, later, the Ian Mitchell Band.

I went to college, studied horses, moved, got married, got divorced, life rolled over but some “Roller friends” remained *friends* through it all. I worked agriculture, horses and writing. After a stint with a towing company I began writing for a magazine few have heard of called Towing & Recovery Phootnotes. Mostly business, office, motivational articles. Like many I never forgot the Rollers or Ian but I wasn’t in Scotland so…!

Then came the internet. I found Ian was living in Vegas and was a motivational speaker. Well…an opening is better than no opening so an email was sent and an email came back. A phone interview was scheduled that would, seriously, change my life. I had no idea…they didn’t either! They being Ian and his lovely wife Wendy, who quickly became a friend. There were differences but also much common ground.

The time came to call for the interview and I was getting nervous…all those years ago his photo was on my wall and now getting to talk to him…while wanting to be ‘professional’ as this was for writing..of course. I had a dozen or so questions penciled in. It wasn’t very far into the article interview I’d asked a question about risk and he (paraphrasing here as the article is long lost) said everything is a risk.Then out of the blue he asked what color underwear I had on. Trust me this was NOT the direction I thought the article was going and I could sense him laughing on the other end as I fumbled. His point was asking was a risk….and he might get slapped if in person but he might get an answer to even an outrageous question. Point. Taken!

Well I was living in Flagstaff at the time so as the “interview” wrapped up it was left with we’d get together sometime. At that time it was more than I’d ever seriously hoped for all those years ago in small town Illinois. Well…not too much later a concert was scheduled and it was “come over!” I worked with Helen for time off a the RV park and with my trusty road dog Gael headed for Vegas. Once the fiasco of meeting up with/missing Wendy was dealt with I followed to their apartment where I met more friends. So I came face to face with Ian…big hug…altered reality kind of experience and…Gael *peed on the floor*! I was mortified. He laughed and said something about dogs being humbling as Wendy got paper towels.

The show was memorable and the next morning held breakfast at the Lucky Dog…don’t think that’s there anymore either. Back to reality…but staying in touch. A show in California challenged my combined trips view…I had a young purebred goat coming in by air to Phoenix and didn’t have time to run back to Flagstaff and drive across I-10 in time to get checked in. What to do…take the goat with me of course. I had a campershell on the truck so feed, water, he’d be fine until we got home. But when I told Ian I had a goat in the truck he didn’t believe me…we went down to see and from that time forth it was a story.

Skip forward…a get together was slated for Rosetta Stone and of course I was going. Walking into a room and meeting the McKee brothers (also once pinned on the wall!) and Ian told the goat story and introduced me as Goat Lady. I got looks of that can’t be true and I assured them it was – he wasn’t exaggerating on that one. It’s not like the goat came on stage!

So, so many memories, laughs, some not so pleasant ones at a few people unjustly saying bad things about them, then me. Life goes on. More funny memories, pranks, gags than bad. Far more. When an engagement got ghosted it was a conversation with Ian that seriously changed my attitude about a lot of things. I won’t ever repeat all that was said as not everyone needs to know everything about everyone. Suffice to say it made a big difference.  Suffice to say it was from a friend not a poster on the wall.

So many times I’d see people use photos without permission and be offended when confronted. In any case, I’d left Arizona to move back East and Ian and Wendy moved back to California. Conversation was mostly on Facebook or email (before Facebook) or phone. Life hits on both ends but it warmed my heart more than I’d admit to see a birthday greeting from him or a passing comment…or make a comment on something funny he posted.

Ian was no longer, to me,just a teen idol. He’d become a friend. Over a couple of decades, with all life throws at us anyone that remains in life is a friend. I’d always thought he and Wendy were the perfect compliment for each other. I’m sure there were challenges but they never spoke of it publicly or disrespected others publicly. She means more to me than she knows. He became an American citizen, legally, and was very proud of that and the opportunities he’d had here in America. Most of the hundreds of photos taken at the shows and privately are now in my mind only. Storms of life.

When I saw the news Ian passed away on September first I first thought of Wendy. Then I thought how much I was going to miss that infectious laugh and one liners just to make someone else laugh. He never acted better than anyone else. The stories were sometimes better! But he was a good person far beyond being a Roller or celebrity. And he will be deeply missed by this now goatless Goat Lady.

I hope that one day when my time comes to pass beyond the gates of Heaven there’s Gael, Diva, my parents, a few friends and a not quite as short as me American moving for a hug saying “hey Goat Lady!”

are you having a good time

Until that day there’s recordings of the familiar voice and image to remember.

“This song I want to dedicate to you…and to everyone who feels the way we do. As long as you’re a part of me the song will play on endlessly. I hope my dedication’s getting through. Dedication’s playing just for you.”

I’ll miss you Ian.  I’ll remember  and carry songs and stories on. 

An American 9/11

September 10, 2020

Nineteen years ago 3000 plus people went to sleep not knowing it would be their last night on earth. For those 3000 and their loved ones, friends and day to day associates life has changed.

Nineteen years seems a lifetime ago and, at the same time, just a few days ago. For many voting this year for the first time they don’t even remember life before 9/11 because they weren’t here. There have always been stories of “in my day….” and “old people don’t understand…” but we have got to turn that around and bridge it. It keeps both learning. Simple respect for other people while disrespecting those you demand respect from isn’t working.

America has problems…and yet people die trying to come here. We sometimes have too many demanding a say in things they know nothing about – from city to rural, from educated to not, from white skin to black to brown and back again…when do we listen to understand rather than listen to respond? There’s such power in working together.

Look at the last 100 years – food is safer, easier, cheaper and more widely available for less effort than any time in history. We can drive ourselves across country in a few days or fly in a few hours. Technology has given weather warnings beyond a feeling in the bones or how many cows are laying down in the field. The time saving devices in the kitchen grandma couldn’t even imagine. When she passed away in the late 1970s there was no cell phones, home internet and video chat.

Many of the “old people” developed and introduced and furthered those things and more. We have more time saving devices than ever and yet are less happy. More populated. Less connected.

Be thankful for what we have. Do something to honor those who have given their lives when they were interrupted by hate. And for Heaven’s sake don’t be blind enough to let it take root again! America is burning. Hate won’t win. Be involved. Stand up.

Be Americans.

Kentucky Oaks & Expectations

September 4, 2020

It has been a different year. So much the last couple of months, good and not so good, has brought another series of lessons. Today the first weekend in May became the first weekend in September and the Kentucky Oaks was run. This is the Derby for the girls.

Coming into it the brilliantly fast Gamine and the very talented Swiss Skydiver were set and expected to run well, with several others thought as a potential such as Speech to pick up pieces. That was before remembering horses don’t read.

SheDaresTheDevil entered for a payday. She got one! She ran past the expected winners and set a time record in winning what she wasn’t thought of capable of doing.

How many times do we let expectations of others factor in to what we can or can’t do? Action. Make a plan, stay focused, deal with issues and show what you can do. Even with delays.

May we remember and do the same.

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