Skip to content

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 The very outdated wiring was redone to be safe.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.

What is Your Story?

July 9, 2020

Most people really don’t care about other people’s story. Some might be moved by a celebrity or an entertainer but the ordinary person in their community – often not. So we often don’t talk about our stories.

As many know, five years ago last month a storm wiped out the trailer we were living in. There was a backup in the current home but at the time it was a shell. No electric. No water. Hole in the roof and floor below rotted out, needing replaced. A large hole in the kitchen wall.

With animals and a teenager so not just me. The teenager had a mentor teaching him electricity work and Bill became a friend. In time and a few hours at a time work got done. A couple hundred dollars at a time seemed endless…and if you have ever looked  at electrical boxes, wires, connectors of all kinds you can remember how endless.

Connor and Bill rewired the home to be safe from an electrical standpoint, replacing what was dangerously not done right. We set up a water catchment system to catch water in large tanks. This was used for cleaning and with treatment cooking or drinking over a camp fire. Spartan but it worked.

Over time in five years the wall in the kitchen was repaired, floor in the kitchen repaired and back hall floor replaced. The roof was redone and patched. Floors redone in five rooms, a pantry put in, new well house built, insulation put in, heat put in, summer cooling improved using fans and windows…so, so many things needed done just to be functional. A dreaded but necessary rent to own was done on a stove and refrigerator, now paid off and still functional. Walls were painted and so much has been done although it has been painstakingly slow with life issues to do also. Among them along the way Bill passed away, Dad passed away…many friends passed away. Vehicle issues and so many challenges.

Stories…many! Judgements from others…many! Blessings….many! Friends…many came forth to help in many ways. Many I know people won’t believe but I know what happened.

One was the day Connor was studying…I was working on some paperwork and plans, but at 10 a.m. mulling over also what I was going to do for lunch. Money was short…at the time a way to cook much wasn’t available with no stove or oven. A truck pulled up outside and I don’t know the man in it. But I went out for a little chit chat and he suddenly said he had something for me if I would accept it and opened the truck door…a meal with chicken, sides and drinks from Jack’s in Carbon Hill. At the time we didn’t have  a phone, I’d spoken to no one…and yet the answer to a prayer.

Stories. One day at a time. One project at a time. One goal at a time.

Five years. When it seems nothing is happening…sometimes something is happening. What will you do today to make tomorrow better? Take the steps. It adds up!

SlowMoneyFarm ABC – D

July 8, 2020

As the ABC continues this post will go into some D words and SlowMoneyFarm.

So what words are on point? Randomly – Dominant, dormant, disastrous, danger and doubt. Oh how this group of words apply! Or maybe will apply.

Dominant maybe not as much. I don’t have the current capacity to be #1 locally or many other ways. This can be seen as a failure – without financial backing, manpower and many other inputs large companies wouldn’t be where they are. WalMart is seen as dominant in the marketplace but not everyone likes them or wants to be them. I can provide choices they cannot. I can sit down and talk to someone who buys from me – they cannot. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing but it is different. Choices matter too.

Dormant is a sleep phase to some but it’s a regroup phase to me. A dormant tree is still maintaining the root system and circulation to the tree. It’s growing, it’s preparing for the next year or the next stage of growth. Dormant might be resting but it’s not necessarily doing nothing and that so describes what’s been happening here. Regroup, find what works and what definitely won’t work for the new normal of the next 10 to 20 years.  Much is happening behind the scenes and I am so thankful for those who stick with me and those who have been a sounding board through the last couple of years of big personal chances.

Disastrous is also no stranger to SlowMoneyFarm with the storm definitely a disastrous event. So, so much loss and yet after dormant there has been regrowth, then dormant…and new growth pending. not every change is disastrous but oh my goodness when it hits it is powerful. In April nearby Carbon Hill had a tornado cut a swath and those changes are still happening for the people involved. Disaster can take but it can give to. Be the someone who makes a difference in disastrous times. It makes a bigger difference than you’ll ever know.

Danger is present often. Farming and life is surrounded by danger. A loose shirt around equipment can sever arms or kill. A bull can end a life without even intending to…and if they intend too it’s definitely danger! Danger can take other forms too – depression, discouragement can rock the mental boat further than we find safe. Dangers aren’t necessarily to be feared but to be respected and be prepared to deal with it. Wherever you are think about dangers and how to get through them…from fire plans to financial to teaching your children what to do in dangerous situations. Some argue it scares kids to see it but if they know what to do – action – they have something to fall back on. Many very young children know how to call 911 in an emergency or do basic CPR – either or both of those things can save a life of someone they know! Teach them and if you haven’t been taught…learn!

Doubt is another word that is present. The last five years especially has been littered with doubt. I had huge doubts five years ago! Monumentally massive doubts. I had a disaster zone to deal with, animal lives depending on me, a teenager depending on me, most of a roof but no power or running water and so many things I couldn’t afford and couldn’t do. That story coming! Confront doubts like danger – fear – do something! One step at a time. Keep moving.

What is Your Compass?

July 6, 2020

When we think of a compass we think direction. True north comes to mind and finding a path to where we want to be. Sometimes that direction isn’t always just physical.

compass on brown wooden table

Photo by Derwin Edwards on Pexels.com

When we think about where we’re going that also takes into account where we’ve been. Home. That may change and further changes mean it was once and won’t be again. Growing up in Illinois there were imagination pictures of what Kentucky or other areas looked like, usually in relation to horses. Or Scotland, long an interest and I’m not sure if Border collies or the Bay City Rollers started it actually. Living in Washington it seemed ideal – weather, activities…but it changed and was no longer my ideal. I still miss what it was but the compass isn’t there…it was a stop on the journey. A decade of memories and people and mistakes but not a life.

orange chrysanthemum flowers in closeup photo

Photo by Deva Darshan on Pexels.com

A compass doesn’t always define the path. It tells us the direction but not the details. Oklahoma was home for a while and a big part of my heart will always be there. Alas, “north” was not there either. So it meant a venture west which worked for my sister but not so much for me. Good things there but not home for sure.

South wasn’t on my consideration of anything on the compass yet I live in Alabama. And while the compass can point north it tells direction not time. For now…Alabama is home. It has been for 15 years next month and with the time has come peace. Direction has come from people as well as a compass. If we look at that we find what, often, has been there all along. Being true to yourself is important too. Peace. I haven’t yet found that 100% I can say I love myself but most of the time can say I hate myself less…and sometimes flashes of better show. Maybe in another decade!

A poster on the wall reminds me life is a journey not a race. We think when we have *this* we’ll be happy but landfills are full of things people thought would make them happy or save time or be the one thing that changes their path. We choose our path. We don’t choose how much time we have or many other things but we choose how we deal with this thing called life.

I like myself in this life enough to not settle for empty promises and questionable loyalty. In that I have seen flashes of love at times. Some might say that is conceited…but we can’t give what we don’t have. If we don’t have love how do we give it? It’s no different than if I had a thousand dollars I’d give it to you…but don’t have a thousand dollars so…! So often we treat ourselves and those close worse than we’d treat a stranger. The things we say would be rude to say to a stranger…but is it less to be said in our homes?

Find your compass. Your north. Start your journey. We’ve crossed paths and it’s good.

%d bloggers like this: