Monday, August 30, 2010

Zen ~ Energy

"Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. If we're frantic, life will be frantic. If we're peaceful, life will be peaceful. And so our goal in any situation becomes inner peace."       Marianne Williamson

Back to school time can be crazy for parents as well as children, and it is so easy to get wrapped up in the whirlwind of packed schedules and hectic days. I will try not to forget what the lazier days of summer have taught me: 


snail (a cuter slug with a shell)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pablo Eats a Leaf

Many people do not understand how animals can carve out a place in your heart, and I feel sorry for those people. My animals add a richness to my life that is difficult to define. They live simply, from day to day, and all of my animals are satisfied by the smallest things: morning grain, fresh hay, a bowl of kibble, an unexpected treat, a ride in the car, a nap on the bed.

Here is my dear late Pablo, who left the farm last December. I called him my "Buddha" because he was so quiet and peaceful -- he really was a very special animal, and I felt a very deep connection to him. He and Vinny were from a set of triplets, so Vin really struggled for a while until he adjusted to the loss of Pabs. On Pablo's last day, his brother did not want to leave his side... it was heart breaking.

Sadly we have to bury so many animals in our lifetime, but each leaves a mark on our heart that never gets replaced by anyone or anything else. Our lives are fuller because of the animals we invite to join us, and for all those opportunities I am truly thankful. I believe I am a better person because of these souls that have entered my life, and Pablo was one of my finest.

Goat Breakfast

Mornings around the farm are my favorite, and here is a little video of my goats enjoying their breakfast. Unfortunately the lovely crunching sound doesn't really come through, but Bear's whining in the background sure does. I guess he wasn't receiving enough attention, poor thing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Recipe: Mississippi Caviar

1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed & drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 (.7 oz) package dry Italian dressing mix (such as Good Seasons)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vinegar

Combine first 11 ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine dressing mix, oil and vinegar. Pour over pea mixture. Stir well. Chill at least 2 hours. Makes about 8 cups.

Perfect with chips or as a side to chicken, beef or eggs.

That is the recipe exactly as it reads, but I like to add whatever peppers I find appetizing at the market, like a banana pepper or red pepper. I also use red onion, and 2 jalapenos instead of just one. Finally I really like cilantro so I add more, and I use the juice of 2 limes. I have always made this the day before so that the flavors are nicely melded together. 'So good and really healthy, too!

Birthday Blues

It is not my birthday.

I don't even really care about my own birthday. I never feel badly if someone doesn't know when it is, and I never announce it anywhere (how gauche is THAT). I am not ashamed of my age at all, and will happily tell anyone who cares to ask, but the day I was born holds no great excitement for me. Birthdays were never a huge deal in my family when I was growing up - especially mine because it is only a couple of weeks after Christmas. Also, the weather in the Tug Hill region of New York State is terrible in January, so the few parties my mom planned for me were mostly cancelled anyway.


I am not bitter, but I simply think my birthday celebratory-ness (there isn't a real word in the English language that fits here so yes, I just made that term up) has been stunted.

Some of my friends are amazing when it comes to remembering eeeeeeveryone's birthday, and they are so good about making people feel loved and special. I would be willing to bet my first paycheck (which I desperately need being a teacher who has been off all summer) that those thoughtful people grew up in families where "b'days" were big things, and parties were planned every year, and they were probably summer babies so those parties were sunny and involved hotdogs and ice cream.

One of my goals is to be organized about these dates, and to have in my calendar eeeeeveryone's birthday... to have a box full of perfect cards... and a book of pretty stamps... ready to send so they arrive on time. For now, though, I just feel guilty when I forget - or don't even know to begin with - a friend or family member's birthday.

Maybe instead I should just select one day of the year to send notes to all my loved ones that express how happy I am to have them in my life, and to tell them how much they are loved and how glad I am that they were born. Would that count?

Hibiscus in my garden

Monday, August 23, 2010

Woof ~ Allergies

I am writing this because my mom is busy getting ready to go to her classroom to hang posters or some such nonsense. Of course that means I'll be stuck in that prison while she is gone. I'll have to chew my collar off again if she forgets to remove it -- that'll show her how much I hate being confined behind bars.

Anyway, I am tired because these lousy allergies are keeping me awake at night. I chew and scratch and chew and dig, but I can't make the itching stop. I think Mom was mad it me last night because I was keeping her awake too, but I can't help it -- I itch! Mom said she thinks it is seasonal, or maybe the smelly stuff she sprinkled on the carpet before she ran that noisy machine the other day (I like to bark at that so Mom always has to put me in the other room when she uses it -- she's no fun sometimes). Sigh. So for whatever reason I cannot stop itching. Once in a while Mom gives me this pink pill and the itching isn't so bad, but I feel kinda sleepy then, and I can't even keep my ears perky, so Mom said the pills are only when "we" really need a break from the itching.

Maybe I'll feel better after I destroy a pillow or something. That might help relieve a little tension because it is so much fun to make the smallest hole possible and then pull as much fluff out as I can before I get caught or bored, whichever comes first.

me, itching

Zen ~ Compassion

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."     Dalai Lama

But, but, but it can be so difficult...

Chandler's Myrtle Beach Sand Creation

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Orchard Walk

I wish I had a multi-sensory camera for sounds and smells as well as sites...

The sounds are rich as crickets and bugs are very noisy this time of summer, along with birds and the wind in the cornstalks...

The air smells like late summer, no longer damp but instead sharp.

It is a beautiful day and very comfortable for this time of year, so Bear and I just returned from a walk through the orchards. I wasn't planning on taking any photos so I only had my phone, but when Bear found a turkey feather I knew I had to take a few shots. Sadly the lens must have been steamy, hence the dream-like effect. No, no photoshopping used on these : )

Bear was very proud of his feather, and he carried it for a long time before becoming distracted by the grasshoppers. Shibas are very cat-like in terms of hunting, and Bear is no exception. He is constantly pouncing, and occasionally he gets to eat a crunchy little cricket. Butterflies are too fast but that does not stop him from trying, and birds faster still: we startled a couple of mourning doves and Bear leaped but to no avail.

My little hunter... it is so nice to have a buddy to enjoy walks with...

the lane
pears are ready

intense... how a Shiba almost always looks

Bear is trying to kill his feather
carrying his prize

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zen ~ Happiness

"Happiness is a quality of mind. It is something we possess within... if we do not have it within, nothing outside can give it to us."      Paramanda

I guess this means we need to stop looking for external sources and focus on more important areas...

'Not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

from my garden

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Room 214

I am here, in my classroom, feeling excited about the upcoming school year. For almost 40 years August has been an exciting month for me...

thinking about what the new school year will bring...

reflecting on how nice it is to have a fresh start and to avoid the mistakes made the previous year...

wondering who will be in my lunch...

shopping for pretty binders and new clothes...

changing my room around and putting up new visual candy...

vowing I'll gossip less this year...

dreaming those awful dreams of being unprepared while the kids go wild...

knowing that THIS will be the best year yet...

This cycle is something that I love, like the changing of the seasons, feeling the perfect opportunity for a fresh start. Check back next June and you'll read a different angle, but for now my grudges have dissolved, my frustrations have melted away, my discontent has vanished. I feel refreshed, energized, renewed. I am a teacher, and I am blessed.

my room, as a photocubist collage

Monday, August 16, 2010

Zen ~ Believe

"Believe nothing because someone else believes it. But believe only what you yourself judge to be true."     Buddha

Why is it that so many people subscribe to the "herd" mentality?? Where did they learn to not think for themselves? I thank God that somehow I escaped that prison.

~ Chicago Cultural Center ~

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Woof ~ Travel

I am writing this for Mom because she is tired from traveling this week. Well, I'll have you know that I am tired, too. It was not a fun week at ALL.

First of all I was stuck in that prison Mom calls a "crate" during each of the two 6.5 hour (!!!) car rides. "For my safety" she says. Huh. Anyway, along with suffering through my captivity, I had to endure spending long hours with a silly beast called a Shih Tzu who resented my very presence. Can you believe it -- resenting ME?? So I had to put him in his place every once in a while, like when he tried to cuddle with Mom. I am a sweet Shiba but I can only tolerate so much. Also I had to sit and watch my people float around in a huge drinking bowl of water that smelled funky, and whenever I tasted it my people laughed. Yes, they LAUGHED at me. How humiliating.

So, I glared at Mom allllll the way home today. I showed her my great displeasure by looking miserable, flopping around my prison, whining pitifully when I felt ignored, and sticking my paws through the slots. "Dramatic", Mom said. "Victim" was what I was thinking.

This is that Shih Tzu I was referring to.

I mean REALLY??

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bread and Wine

Today was my second time serving on the altar as a eucharistic minister/lay reader at church, and I think I did a better job my first time a few weeks ago. I said an "um" just before reading the Psalm (who does that??), and when it was time to process out at the end of the service I was noticeably awkward -- our guest priest jokingly said to me "you can get in but you just can't get out" and it made me smile all the way out of the church. A lesson in humility! Maybe I shouldn't have stayed out so late last night...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Zen ~ Contentment

"Contentment is natural wealth. Luxury is artificial poverty."

Inner peace requires balance... knowing how to relentlessly pursue your goals while savoring the present... not an easy balance to achieve...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Slugs Suck

Slimy and disgusting. Ugly and destructive.

This season I have had a terrible time with slugs devouring my annuals -- even those in containers. My million bells have been hardest hit and it makes me sad. I have a general philosophy of "plant enough for the pests to enjoy" so I usually don't fret about the occasional creature that partakes in my garden, but my tolerance has reached its limit this summer.

Last night it rained and this morning HUGE (well-fed) slugs were crawling all over my flowers and even on the sides of my house! Ugh. I picked them off and flung them out in the yard because I cannot bear to kill them... I know I should be more ruthless...

from Google Images

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Family Shrub

Oldest to youngest...

James/Jimmy/JR/Handsome: husband (old)
Me (oldish)
Chandler/Bing: son (teen)
Marigot/Mari: Yellow Lab (13+)
Sophie/Soph/Princess: Maltese (9+)
Eloise/Elly/Smelly: Nigerian Dwarf Goat (5+)
Vincent/Vinny/Handsome: Nigerian Dwarf Goat (4+)
Isis/Icy: Rescue Kitty (4+)
Apollo: Rescue Kitty (4+)
Norman/Normy/Bun/Hugh: Holland Lop Rabbit (3+)
Salavador/Sal/Sally/Knucklehead: Nigerian Dwarf Goat (3+)
Jasper/Jasp/Handsome: Nigerian Dwarf Goat (3+)
Imperator Ursorum/Bear/Handsome: Shib Inu (1+)
Papito/Paps/Budge: Parakeet (<1)
Sky: Parakeet (<1)
+ pond fish

and always missing Kitty and Pablo : (

Local Fruits & Veggies

I am so freakin' lucky to live in Niagara County. My property is surrounded by acres and acres of cherries, pears, apples and grapes belonging to local farmers and wineries, and across the road is fabulous Lake Ontario. From the Cornell University Cooperative Extension website:

"Agriculturally diverse, the county is fortunate to have many farms that sell directly to consumers, making it 5th among New York counties in retail sales. It is 1st among New York counties in peaches, sweet cherries and plum/prunes, 2nd in tart cherries and pears and 5th in apple and berry production."

I am inspired to write this as I just finished a mouth-watering tomato sandwich with fresh tomatoes from my favorite local farm market "Hiller's". Growing your own fruits and veggies can be fun, but I think going to Hiller's, grabbing a basket, and filling it with their beautiful produce is even more fun!

Here's a LINK to a page with our local farm and agri-tourism map, and there is probably something similar for your region. Grab a basket, fill it with the freshest and most delicious produce possible, and support your local farmers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fur Crazy

Thank God for Sandy who cleans my house once a week, but with a shedding Shiba and a shedding Lab I find myself running the vac many times in between those Sandy visits. So here's a special shout-out to my Bissel, without whom I'd be overcome by fur balls.

the fur producers

Monday, August 2, 2010

WalkieDog Rocks

Bear is my Shiba Inu, and like any Shiba his energy level far exceeds mine. How oh how can I tire the monster out? I would have to walk him for hours to even come close... I was thinking about getting a treadmill so I can exercise him like Cesar does but I don't want a hulking treadmill in my house... what is a frustrated Shiba owner to do?? Enter "WalkieDog", the coolest little gadget that allows me to hook Bear up to my bike and let him run to his heart's content. I highly recommend this for any dog owner that has limited time because this thing rocks.

At first Bear was frightened by the bike, but I slowly walked the bike around the yard with him attached and he started to relax in about 5 minutes. Then I got on and after about 30 seconds he figured it out: he can run next to his mom at full Shiba speed! When I get his little harness out he is so excited because he knows what comes next : ) He reminds me of a little sled dog as he pulls me for the first half of our rides, looking like he was born to do this.

And his behavior is so much better when he is tired... less pillow de-fluffing, less tissue shredding, less down-comforter destruction, less wrestling with his older sister Mari. I bought the WalkieDog through Amazon (cheaper), but here is a site that describes it well:

'Not us: this is an image from Google : )