Monday, September 2, 2019

Surrounded by Life

I delight in being surrounded by plants, animals and things I'm making  It's more than just a happy things, it seems to be a necessary thing for me. Science is finally catching up with what I've know since I was a kid -- it's a nurturing, life giving phenomenon to be surrounded by things that are growing and being created.
When I was growing up, we lived across from a corn field that was sometimes a goldenrod field. It was huge news when just a couple miles away and sprawling mall was to be built.  Everyone of every age was talking about this turn of events. There was community excitement at all fronts. 
Sears opened first and my mom took me along with another friend to shop for at least an hour.  It had to have been when I was in 4th or 5th grade. Of course, we felt very grown-up exploring this brand new Mecca of consumerism.  It was all very interesting and I'm sure we looked at everything but the tools and lawn mowers. 
There were two places I wanted to spend my time. In future trips, I would be spending a great deal of my allowance in the houseplant department and the yarn department. Over 45 years later and I'm still spending my money on houseplants and yarn.
We all need to know what keeps us grounded, feeds us, give us a sense of peace and pushes us to grow. All thanks to mom for taking me shopping at Sears.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

One of My Treasures

I have a lot of stuff. I enjoy collecting quite a few different things--cheap and tacky snowglobes, goats, schnauzers, turtles, hens on a nest dishes,  mini buddhas, etc. I am unapologetic that I like to have a home crowded with lots of things -- in addition to plants and pets. It somehow makes me feel safe and cozy in this sanctuary I call home. Most of the things that I truly treasure wouldn't be valuable to other people, but they give me great joy. The items on my list of treasures were owned by people I love or created by those same people. 

In a sense, I am at home among these items, because they help define who I am, remind me that I am loved and bring me joy as memories are brought forth. I love being surrounded by and sharing my daily life with all this good stuff.

My paternal grandmother was the first person to love me without reserve. Her love was lavish and all encompassing. My parents were quite reserved in demonstrating their love and praise was extremely limited for fear of raising an egotistical daughter. Of course I gravitated to my grandmother. She's been gone since 1980 but the foundational love she provided is solidly part of my foundation of self esteem.

My grandma, or Gummie as I called her -- or Helen Knight, enjoyed her jewelry. That's something else she passed on to me! I picture her in her rings, and my favorite earring of hers -- lime green triangles, a charm bracelet and often -- a beautiful cameo.
I hadn't seen that cameo in years, but wanted to get a closer look in order to maybe find one similar for sale.  My estimation of elegance stems from that cameo. I asked my two cousins about it. In an act of wonderful selflessness, they gifted me with Gummie's cameo.  I felt like I'd won the lottery.

Because of the importance of the pin in my life, I've only worn it once. I wore it last Christmas Eve to church. Maybe it was also because both of my children were home with me to celebrate the holiday, but wearing that cameo allowed me to feel so connected to both the past, the present and the future of my family.
Arden on the left, Nicholas on the right and me in the middle wearing my treasured cameo.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Slow Down, You Move to Fast

Wasn't it just yesterday that being fast was the desirable speed of operation? One was to go as fast as possible, doing as much as possible, while doing other things with the same break neck speed. It's exhausting. Sometimes we get loads of things done, sometimes we don't--but we're speedy and to all the world it looks like we are very important and productive.

Here and there, we are starting to realize that speed isn't always a good thing. Just like when you're driving quickly, you miss an awful lot on the way. Once you decelerate, you see all sorts of things around you that had been eclipsed by speed.

In meditation, we learn the value of being still. One basks in the presence of the now, the senses are more fully engaged. With that sacred slowing down there is a corresponding fullness in our experience of living.

The slow food movement, encourages us to make a deeper investment in our food.  This investment begins with seeds that aren't genetically modified, to treating animals in a humane manner using non toxic means of raising them. It is growing food locally, in non artificial means. It's sitting down, gathering with others to fully taste, completely smelling and totally savoring and appreciating all that has gone into the effort of creating a meal. It is not snarfing a burger through the drive thru, while driving, talking on the phone and putting on mascara all while driving 70 miles an hour to get ten other errands completed.

While shopping on Etsy, my favorite place to window shop and explore -- I discovered a category I was not familiar with -- slow stitching.  Being a terrible seamstress anyway, I wondered how I could get any slower. But I was intrigued.

Slow stitching is taking one's time in creating out of the box pieces of art.  I bought a little kit and was delighted to play with my little collage of fabric swatches, bits of lace and thread. It was interesting, in that I had to repeatedly remind myself to slow down, and just enjoy the act of creating. There's no way to do it wrong -- except if you just don't enjoy it, I guess.

I stitched, switched colors, added buttons, and delighted in the creative process until I decided my little creation was done.  The project gave me permission to take my time, to create with no expectations or deadline and to completely embrace the healing, celebrating world of play.

Creative play, in the guise of Slow Stitching is something I should learn to do often.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

It's For the Birds -- And I Like That!

As I was entering independent adulthood, I had a few things on my mind. For me, it was a clear sign I was grown up because I had my own telephone number (this was over 30 years ago, so no cell phone), a briefcase,  business cards and my very own apartment. There were a couple of animal related goals still to fulfill but I knew there'd be no dogs in my current situation.

My residence was a second story, one bedroom apartment. I'd been traveling cross country in my little red Chevy Chevette in August with no air-conditioning. My dad was adamant that air-conditioning was a frill I didn't need.  I still claim he was wrong.  I traveled with my two goldfish in a protected bowl, and my cockatiel, Francis as my co-pilot. I was so happy to have finally arrived at my home.

It was safe and clean and it was all mine. When I arrived at my abode, the first thing I saw was the gold flecked wallpaper at the entryway.  It looked like something my great aunt Lillian would have adored.  I didn't.  I was okay until I walked into the tiny kitchen to see very old turquoise appliances. I slid to the floor and just cried.  But I was a grown-up so I stood up and set out to make it a wonderful place for me.

One of the things I felt I needed to do, in order to make my place feel more homey, was to have a bird feeder.  For some reason, I was sure that feeding the birds from my own bird feeder, would give me a sense of adulthood, permanence and hominess.  But remember, I'm on the second floor. So I set out to find a feeder that could attach to my window.  In no time, I'd found just the thing -- a feeder that hung on my window by suction cups. I became quite adept at popping out the window's screen and adding the appropriate food for the birds frequenting my area.  Every once in a while, my coordination failed and I dropped the screen to the ground two floors below. 

If  I've remembered correctly, I've moved at least 10 times since that little apartment. One of the first things I do at my new home, is put out my birdfeeders in hopes of welcoming new feathered friends. I am not sure why this is so important for me. My parents didn't feed the birds while I was growing up. But like sending out Christmas cards, having a wreath on the door and a welcome mat on the ground--it's just something you do when you are an adult and have a home. 

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Joy of Simple Pleasures

It's the simplest things that make me smile, that make me feel that life is good, that give me absolute joy.

It's watching the sun rise or set . . .
It's the melting into  my husbands arms after a long day . . .
It's hearing a happy chicken softly chirp . . .
It's the way my dogs welcome me home . . .
It's the sound of milk spurting in the pail as I milk my goat . . .
It's the feel of the wind across my face . . .
It's the smell of the petunias in my yard . . .
It's the delight when a letter comes in the mail . . . .
It's the taste of corn on the cob with butter running down my chin . . .
It's the sound of children giggling . . .
It's the presence of my children . . .
It's the wildflowers and weeds gracing the meadow . . .
It's making a snowman or playing in the leaves. . .
It's a hot cup of coffee with just the right amount of cream and sugar . . .
It's the sharing of stories around a bonfire . . .
It's baking cookies that have been baked for generations of my family . . .

I think I could go on with this list for hours. There are so many things that give me such pure happiness -- and they are little everything things.  None of the things I've listed are from grand gestures and magnanimous events -- just the simple mundanities of life. 

Isn't it good to know that such happiness comes from such humble beginnings? It means that it doesn't have to take a while lot of effort to experience that happiness and joy.  Perhaps it could be said that happiness can be within everyone's grasp if we just reach out.

I'm going to continue not just making my list, but living it continuously. My goal is to experience each day, paying attention to those little things, those simple pleasure and not take for granted the joy that they bring. If we don't pay attention, we miss it.  I don't want to miss anything.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Rewarding Work

My list for the next several days is longer than I could possibly accomplish. It's probably longer than several people could accomplish in several weeks.  But by golly, I'm going to have a go at it. In a week I head to the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Michigan. Just me and two vehicles and three people. One of those vehicles is pulling my camper and holding five pygora goats in the back. The other vehicle (my mini Cooper) is taking two people, a dog, and a smelly pygora buck. Inside that camper is all that I need to wear and eat for almost a week, all the supplies I need to care for and show six goats. I'm also taking what I need to care for, entertain and train my Cardigan Corgi, Sundae. I'm taking classes, as a result I'm taking my spinning wheel and other accessories. And I can't leave home without my craft projects in progress, a months supply of Dr. Pepper,  several cozy mysteries to read before bed and my ukulele.

And that doesn't even go into what needs to be done to prepare the goats to show them.  Everyone needs a bath--preceded and followed by a ridiculous amount of grooming. Hooves need to be in good shape so four times six = 24 hooves, each with two toes=48 toes to trim.
 Like I said, it is a whole lot of work. But this is something that we work on all year long. We look to be responsible breeders who seek only to make the breed better. The shows are a chance to "show" our work and pride in that work. It is extremely rewarding.
We are The Best of Times Farm and our herd is name is: The Price Bouquet. All our goats have flower names (except Rooster Cogburn). With my wickedly sharp sense of humor, I like to tell people that we have a bouquet of goats instead of a herd.
It's time to get back to all that work. It just feels go to work this hard and be able to gather with others who do the same. It's rewarding to show them off and be proud of them and our work. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Home Sweet Home

I used to live for adventure and travel! At one time, I would crave the next trip, the stories and photographs my journey would generate.  I was younger then, and filled with the desire to see the world.  A world citizen I called myself.

Now, I like to go places -- but I'd prefer to be back home before it's bedtime. It's been kind of a big blow to my ego, acknowledging that I'm a homebody. How boring is that? How predictably middle aged of me!  Geez, now I'm predictable and that might be even worse than being a homebody. Next thing you know, I'll be wearing sensible shoes!

Home is my favorite place to be because most of the people, animals and things I love most are there (or at least represented there). It's my cozy bungalow, my castle, my safe place, my happy place, my sanctuary from all the scary things of the world.

There, I'm surrounded by photos of people I've loved, handcrafted treasures, family heirlooms, my favorite pieces of art. There are lots of THINGS involved, but its more than the material. It is no more or less than the understanding of sacredness of place. This is the joy of a place where I belong and that belongs to me.

I'm currently in Dayton, Ohio. I've been gone several days, and I'm more than ready to be back home. One more day, and about six hours of travel and I'll be back where I belong.  When I walk in the door again, I will be greeted by my understanding husband and he will tell me, by both word and deed, that he loves me. All three dogs: Truffle, Cupcake and Sundae, will bark and clamor for my attention thrilled that I'm back with them. Of course, they will do that all over again, if I come back 15 minutes later. Dogs have that amazing gift of always making you feel unconditionally welcomed and loved.

I'll go sit in my fuchsia leather recliner that fits my body perfectly, catch up on my mail while continuing to acknowledge each dog. My heart beat will slow to a pace reserved only for the bliss of being at home.
Maybe it's just that middle aged boring thing talking, but I'm pretty sure that I'm still on an amazing adventure every day of my life. I may have days where I would rather do other things, but it is never, ever boring. I love being at home because it's part of me and it gives me strength and joy.

You want an adventure? Get out of bed and go have one! Have one right in your own backyard. The best ones are right there.