Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey Teamwork

Bigfork, Montana- This just in. . .turkeys are actually intelligent. I know we might not want to consider this possibility as we are about to devour millions of them, but for several weeks now I have been watching wild turkeys take turns knocking apples for each other out of the apple tree in my back yard. The hen that flies up to fan her tail and thus knock the fruit down does not eat right away, and she may not eat at all if the horses run down and chase away the turkeys. Two hefty toms have been shot by hunters, but this flock of hens and their yearling chicks is doing quite well without them, sharing and eating, and feeding the deer as well.

Turkeys can fly straight up into the air, which they do every night to roost high in trees to sleep. I only wish I had been able to get better footage of them this day, and I'll keep on trying. But just know that the reasons Ben Franklin tried so hard for the turkey to be the national bird, rather than our eagle, are plenty: Turkeys are gleaners and do not eat meat. They do not have to kill in order to survive. They work together for the good of the flock. And they take care of each other. As you eat turkey for Thanksgiving, as I will, you should know the bird is the perfect symbol of living in harmony without inflicting harm on any other living thing, except maybe bugs.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Spontaneous Peace Painting

This fall I finished a visual "doodle" that started out as black and white, and then I colored it with oils, as happy as a kid with a coloring book. My husband took a look at it and said, "Don't be going religious on me." I said, "Don't worry."

I am, after all, a recovering Catholic, and a recovering Born-again Christian. An intense four year double major of religion and psychology (taken up in my early thirties) revealed the myths, misconceptions, falsehoods and rigidities of the major world religions. I surmised that to blindly accept a religious belief without looking to the origins and history of that belief is to relinquish your life energy without being fully informed. Do I believe in a higher power? Yes. Do I believe that a person must follow a specific creed or religious framework? No. We all have light within us.

To quote French philosopher and priest Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience."

This painting is the result of the artistic doodling of my mind's eye, and even I am surprised: A holy mother with a white streak in her hair, any age, sitting cross-legged. From. .. any continent, any culture, wearing pants. My ten year old granddaughter painted her mouth.

You know, we are all holy, we all have the spirit of life within us; we can use that well or abuse it. We can enlarge it or waste it. We can be inclusive or be judgemental and full of hatred. We can flash our positive energy in a situation, or we can raise havoc. Enough of the havoc. Imagine PEACE breaking out all over the world, all over your country, all over your state, all over your town, all over your home. Let's charge up the light from inside us and let that energy touch the situations and people in our lives. Illumination.

My favorite concept from Teilhard de Chardin (and talk about renewable energy, WE are it!) "Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and for the second time in the history of the world, man(kind) will have discovered fire." Let your self shine. Peace.

Monday, November 2, 2009

No saddle, No bit

I am sooooo proud of Granddaughter Nita, who has sweat her way in full gear through many summer riding lessons in 95 degree heat. She can now sit on a horse so well. Here she is, no bit, no saddle, on the amazing 22-year old reining grand champion, Chita, the new addition to our little horse herd.

There are three stages in asking a horse to do something: Ask, Tell, Command. (Presidents have employed this model, as have mothers and bosses.)

You usually have to Ask once with Chita, but since he's making decisions every minute, sometimes you have to Tell him. Nita and Chita are flowing right along together. It's so good to see!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cape fishermen rescued after boat sinks |

I'm back on Cape Cod, to be with this side of the family tree for awhile. Jim is here, happily working on multi-projects. Success is on the horizon, and soon I will be able to detail some of that work he is doing... in the meantime-

Since arriving on October 15, I've been thoroughly reacquainted with nor-easter's; we've had three big blows in the past two weeks. Last night's was very impressive, the house in Eastham shook with wind all night, which was blasting us directly across the Atlantic from the north east at a sustained 30 mph. Like someone out there turned on a huge fan. No breaks. It was raining in sheets (what else?). Our fireplace doors had to be locked closed so they wouldn't keep blowing open. All this while the Phillie's were winning their first game in the Bronx.

Amazingly, as the first pitch was thrown for the World Series, there were two Wellfleet men bobbing around out in Cape Cod Bay, hoping to be rescued. Their fishing boat had sunk at around four o'clock in the afternoon, and they'd been in the waves for hours. The amazing story ends well, see the linked story below. Wellfleet is breathing a huge collective sigh of relief. There have already been three funerals here this past week- traffic, illness and heart attack. We didn't need the loss of two fishermen to make it five.

If you are out on the water, do it right, like these guys did. Survival suits mean just that. Survival.

Cape fishermen rescued after boat sinks

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Transition again

Why haven't I written lately? I have been handed adventure and u-turns in my life to the point where I hardly know what to think, never mind write. Last February, my husband drove his Subaru over the Rocky Mountains through the winter blizzards, and then all the way across the plains, and then finally, right back to where we started. . . CAPE COD. Reason: a new interesting, challenging job. Since then, I have been the flying wife (as opposed to the flying nun). He has been out to visit in Montana once since his departure, and was able to fish his beloved Swan River in June.

I have flown over the Continental Divide five times since the little Subaru left Montana, and if you do the math, you'll know I'm on Cape Cod right now. Have been enjoying the CC grand kids with pail and shovel in hand for the past three weeks.

The August Cape Cod weather has been beach-able and sail-able, and we've dodged Hurricane Bill and Tropical Storm Danny. I'm used to storm dodging, both here on Cape Cod and in my life. I've been in Hyannis through two Kennedy deaths- Eunice, the founder of the Special Olympics, and the very Honorable Senator Edward Kennedy. This country will soon discover what we have lost in Senator Kennedy. No one cared about us as much as he did. No one. The insurance companies and international banking corporations will have their way and create a new fuedalism unless our elected leaders develop some backbone.

So, for me, back to Montana to our homestead soon, but I plan to be on Cape Cod for the worst of the winter. I can't bear to live in Montana through the snow without my husband. I think I was in too much shock last February when he left to know what I was in for by myself. But, now I know. Snow up to the rearview mirrors on my truck. . . and cold cold cold. It's just as cold on Cape Cod in a raw northeasterly kind of way, but the warm body next to me at night will help in unmeasurable and unprintable ways.

About the book:

With luck and support, out by January, 2010:

Eva and Henry, a Cape Cod Marriage. The genre is best described as women’s literary fiction with an emphasis on the domestic life of the 1880’s. The story is set in South Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and begins as Eva Paine and Captain Henry Smith are to be married. Eva Paine is an intelligent young lady who lives in the coastal neighborhood of Paine Hollow. After grappling with the question of whether she should travel to Boston to attend college, she decides to stay home and marry a close friend who also happens to be a second cousin. The novel explores Eva’s transition from an expectant bride to a wiser young widow. The issues Eva faces will be recognizable to the modern day reader as the universal newlywed challenges of living in a new household, accepting unforeseen responsibilities, and learning that a newly acquired spouse is a deeper and more complicated being than courting days revealed. The responsibilities of repetitive housework drudgery are compounded by the emotional weight of tragic events. Henry’s mother dies unexpectedly soon after the marriage, which greatly affects Henry. Eva manages to maintain her own interests and direction. She adapts to the comings and goings of her husband who is out to sea for weeks at a time and then home for the entire winter. She soon finds that the life of a sea captain’s wife is a life of extremes. She loves her husband deeply even as she is frustrated by his overbearing moods. She desperately wants children. While she waits impatiently for pregnancy, Eva looks to her female friends for support and solace, and she surprises herself by starting her own professional sewing service, thus gaining financial freedom to spend money on herself.

There is tragedy and triumph not to be revealed here. All the key points of the novel are true and based on the life of my own great-great aunt Eva Smith. Of course, I have fictionalized personalities, scenes, dialogue, and several of the supporting characters. Months of research went into trying to be as accurate as possible about the major life events of Eva and Henry and the details of domestic life during the period from 1886-1889.

So do be in touch, all, and cheer me on in my quests: to get the book out to you, and to keep my own relationship burning brightly, even when we are thousands of miles and several mountain ranges apart from each other. Thank God I live in the era of Skype and air travel.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


There is sunrise and sunset, and then there is moon set. The one I watched this morning from my back porch at around seven, Mountain Time, was magical. I could see no creature between myself and the moon; no houses, no animals, no cars, no highways, no power lines- just me and the moon. There were no other people in my house, my husband is away. Three dogs still slept in their dog beds. The horses were huddled in the barn against the frozen temperature.

And out in front of me was the beautiful moon in a frozen dark blue sky. It was not Good Night, Moon, it was Good Morning Moon.

It has been ten years since my Mom died on this day. More than 3650 days have passed through the hourglass. The earth has made ten revolutions around the sun, millions and millions and millions of miles. The cells inside my brain have regenerated themselves over and over, and still I remember the snowy cold Cape Cod winter night my Mom died as clearly as the bright moon shining on me this morning.

We think of you all the time, Mom. All the time. And your great-grand daughter with the middle name after yours hears stories about you and sees your smiling face on the wall. Your kids have spread out like a fan, and your grand kids and great-grand kids. You got so much done in 64 years. I'm right here behind you, not really totally accepting even now that I have no earthly mother. To mothers everywhere, and to morning moon set.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

This is the age of sustainability (if we are going to make it as a planet), and I have a question. Does anybody need any rabbits? For anything? Rabbit pets, rabbit hats, rabbit pies? Because I have something going on out in my hay barn which is pretty much Rabbit Heaven to the bunnies that live there. They have been having a gas all winter flinging hay about and eating sweet grass and alfalfa to their hearts content.

How did they get there? Well, the people who owned the homestead before we did were so happy to be selling the place, that they day they moved, the former owner just opened her rabbit cages and said to the four rabbits she was releasing, "Go forth and have fun." And so, they did. It's been four years since then, and the rabbit population around the places surges, and then recedes, depending on the boldness of the coyote band that lives down the hill. They have to be bold to brave the burro, as he enjoys kicking at anything canine. Coyotes. . . bring em on. Pico will kick to his hearts content, and the horses will join in.

So when the coyotes decide to have a raid, they sneak up, give sharp little barks from different points around the barnyard, and then swoop in. They are quiet until they catch something, and then the yipping and shrieking begins as they take their dinner down the hill to share, avoiding the flying hoofs of the equines.

Well, the coyotes haven't been up lately, and the rabbits have been multiplying faster than ever. They have new tunnels through the hay bales, and new bunnies. So, if ANYONE, in this age of sustainability has the inclination to catch my rabbits for that Welch menu item, or any other purpose, please come! We will catch the rabbits with lettuce, which they cannot resist. We will fill up those Have a Heart cages with furry friends. They make great pets! They make great hats! I've heard they make great pie! They are organically raised on the best hay the valley has to offer. There are no pesticides or hormones or antibiotics in thier systems. Help!
Oh, I have to be very careful and keep the one my granddaughter is holding in the picture taken last summer. She has become attached to it. His name is Carrot Cake, and he is pretty large now, and pretty friendly. You may not have him, but you may have any of the dozen that tear around with him.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Getting around the county and the country

Weeell, since I've last written, I've used up quite a bit of fossil fuels. I flew to Cape Cod to visit and be introduced to my new 2-year old granddaughter, newly fetched from Kazakhstan and adopted into her new family. She makes quite the compliment to her very energetic almost five year old brother. I also had the great experience of staying with one of my sisters for the almost two week visit. I haven't spent so much time with her since she lived with me her senior year of high school, and snuck my motorcycle out of the barn for joy rides. I only found out by keeping track of the odometer, and she finally fessed up, all those years ago. But the places she went!

Her golden haired daughter is almost a clone, and where did I put those pictures so I can prove it? I've moved so many times in the past ten years that I have large crates of pics in my basement, just waiting to be taken out and scanned or whatever I am going to do with them.

So, now I'm back at my desk in Montana. It has snowed eight inches today. My husband left yesterday to DRIVE to Cape Cod for a several month project he'll need wheels for. I am feeling very wierd.

It's one thing when he leaves for a few days or even a few weeks, but when he leaves for a few months, that's another. So, I'll have to go visit him. More fossil fuels. It is a fact that I have one foot firmly grounded in Montana, and the other still holding strong in Massachusetts. I'm thinking of that Twister game we used to play in the seventies and eighties, where we got all stretched out trying to put hands and feet on impossibly distant dots, and then we had to wrap around another person's frame to reach the goal. With all this cold weather, I want to add Florida into the mix. Now there's a real tripod.

But I am here in Bigfork for now in the fluff of February snow. Before he left, Jim and I took Yoko down to the lake where he trout fishes every now and then in warmer weather. So totally different now, with the ice frozen solid and the snow mobile roads across the ice. Montana is a land of extremes. The changing realities we live in- amazing. In four months, it will be sunlight till 10 PM, and about 100 degrees F. at 5 PM.

It took Jim two days of driving through snow and over the high mountain passes of the Continental Divide, but he is now in South Dakota. And heading east. If you see a mountain goat of a white Subaru Outback drive by, that's him. I'll catch up sometime.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Guess this sport

As a Cape Codder who has seen horses used for barrel racing and hay rides, this sport was really thrilling. And, who knew, horses can run like crazy in the snow. The skiiers loved the 35 mile per hour speed. Hey, who can guess the name of this Montana winter sport?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tracking myself

The snow is very telling; I know who looks in my windows at night. Deer tracks run everywhere, and rabbit tracks, and something larger than a deer. Could there be a shy elk in my neighborhood? There could be. Believe me, I have a tracking chart. I know the difference between a mountain lion track and a German Shepherd track. Shepherds, like wolves, have four toes. Mountain lions have four also. You have to tell the difference between the canines and the cats by the pads. The canine pad track is like a triangle, while the mountain lion is more like a wide trapezoid. The toes are much further apart. So far, no mountain lions. And no bears of course, because they are asleep.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could track our lives and see where we had been the way we see animal tracks in the snow. Memory is subjective, tracks are real. No, the deer didn't run that way- look, their tracks are here. No revision is possible, just the facts, Maam, please.

Maybe it's a good thing, though, that we can't see our tracks, because we'd spend too much time looking at them and playing the blame game. I am all for looking forward and trying to achieve something, rather than analyzing something to death. Where's the achievement in that?

Here's to the newly revived Martin Luther King National Day of Service coming up. I know we all have our pet charities and causes, but on the 19th, we all get to do something extra to jump start our nation into conscious awakeness. Yes, I say awakeness, rather than awareness. We need to take our brains out of our everyday separate realities that we have created via our Blogs (yes, me too), our texting, our iPod collections, our television shows, our movies, our video games, our digital games, our "I'm ignoring the reality around me and creating my own" games- and see the world around us, of which we are part. And DO something.

My resolution for 2009: Strive not to acquire, but to achieve. List not what I want to own, but what I want to do. Buy not much, do much more.

So I have my lists of what I want to achieve, and I am seeing that any small thing that I do to work towards a goal makes me feel just as good as going out and acquiring something new for myself.

I finish writing a new poem or song or story or novel, rather than buying a new whatever, and I feel just as good. In fact, I feel better. I am sorry that the GNP will now go down a bit more, but really, this spending spree just has to end. Not that I've been a BIG spender, just that spending has to be conscious (I must wake up), and saving. . . OMG, what's THAT? . . . . has to begin. And if I'm busy DOING, then maybe I won't mind saving.

And while we're on it, I don't mean following the slick color department store sales sheets that entice with. . . "Buy one, get one free." That's saving 50% of what was too much in the first place. But, as my grandmother pointed out to me long ago, in the case of sales like this, "You have to spend to save." What I'm talking about (cringe) is refraining from going to the sales at all. I mean not looking at the sales sheets in the papers. I mean, only buying something when I absolutely need it and it's on a list. Wow. I am ever so glad that I can't see all the tracks I have made to malls, discount stores, home improvement stores, pet stores, lingerie stores, cosmetic stores, shoe stores, craft supply stores, office supply stores, and now horse tack stores (really, a bright pink halter for my horse was necessary?)etc, etc, when I didn't NEED something. It's a sad revelation to know that shopping has become THE main pastime in the United States for the millions of unfit who are not sweating it out on some sports team or gym (me) or who don't have some purpose that takes up all their time so they cannot go shopping. Time to change. I think I'll change into a mushroom-- that's a useful fungus. Or not.

Seriously, I am excited about this. I am trying to tear my consciousness away from all the ads, all the ads, all the ads, and become myself in this screaming world of materialism. And I think I'm doing it, although I had to bury myself in Montana to get to a place of introspection and honesty. Honestly, it's been enlightening. I have enough. More than enough. There are 400 homeless people in the Flathead Valley- many are young familes with jobs. They sleep at night in the homeless shelter in Kalispell.

OK, on a lighter note, the horsies are great, thank you for asking. They like the snow, and yes, the fat little pony can move, which she does quite well. Check the video, and thanks for reading. And no, I won't go shopping with you.