Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween

I am not craftsy. At all. And there is this pressure for moms to create these fantastic costumes for their kiddies to wear during Halloween season, especially if that mom is an art teacher. Well, one year I stepped up to the challenge and made my little guy into the best darn zebra ever - without sewing  a thing. I guess I should mention that "zebra" was his second choice after "elephant", but I had no clue how to make him an elephant so we went with this.

I purchased white sweat pants and a white turtleneck, and painstakingly painted black stripes all around it. I first studied images of zebras to accurately reproduce the markings so that he didn't look like a jailbird. I also painted a face mask, and I hot glued ears and yarn for the mane and tail. Then it was just a matter of black socks over the sneakers and little black gloves -- voila! A zebra! That was the only school Halloween party when I felt proud of my craftsy-ness.

It has been all downhill from there in the costume department, but I am glad I could enjoy at least one year when I was a good Halloween mom. This year Chandler is handing out candy with his "friend" Gianna while watching horror movies. The innocent zebra days are gone.

my little zebra


This photo is from sometime in the early '90s, and I came across it in a drawer the other day. It is of my horse and my then-stepson Drew, and the red arm belongs to -- well, that's a story for another time. Morgey is in her furry winter coat, but clearly she was thee most beautiful horse in the whole entire world!

... my baby ...


I'm a little worried about my Mari. She turned 13 in June and has slowed down considerably over the past few years, yet she continues to appear comfortable and happy (even if the photos below make her look sad). She now jogs around the yard, and walks and sniffs around the perimeter of the property, happily checking out every smell from every animal that visited. Her face is smiling like only a happy lab can smile, and she is in her glory.


Then she has her really slow days and restless nights. She does not appear to be uncomfortable, but it seems as if something is not right. Sometimes it is really difficult to wake her, but when she does open her eyes she looks so happy to see me. She is so sweet, and even though her barking (yep - still does that) makes me nuts, it is hard to remember life before her, and hard to imagine life without her. I love her deeply.

posing as an old Polish lady, after her ear surgery a couple of years ago

my sweetie

being tormented by her little bro when he was a pup

with her sister Soph

Tuesday, October 26, 2010



It's been on my mind, and the universe is constantly reminding me with lots of little messages.


I have decided to not renew my riding lessons until I am ready to send out agent queries. That means I only have two lessons left, and then I am horseless again until ...


I am actually excited! But I will miss my horse fixes. So much. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wet Food

Summer is truly over when I start to bring my shed kitties wet food every morning. All summer long I just give Isis and Apollo a little treat when I go out to take care of their goat roomies, but when it starts to get chilly I give them a can of wet food. When its reeeeally cold I nuke it first so they have a warm breakfast : )

They were so excited today, and gobbled it up as if they were starving, despite the bowl of kibble I keep filled for them, and despite the various birds and rodents they frequently dine on.

Isis and Apollo (photo by Chandler)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Woof ~ Urges

I am home alone right now, and I am not in my prison. 'Seems like somehow I convinced my people that I can handle myself in a more civilized manner than I did when I was a silly little puppy that chewed up everything in sight.

I hope they didn't overestimate me.

I have urges. Strong and undeniable urges.

Socks and blanket call to me, as do pillows. I especially like silk pillows. I love it when I find tissues and q-tips. I also love anything that smells like my mom, like her new wallet that I just had to nibble on last weekend. Shredding things relaxes me and fills me with joy. I love to shred! I cannot stop myself!

But wait.

I want to be a good boy because I hate it when my people are mad at me. And I really don't enjoy my prison, so I have to try to avoid certain urges in order to maintain my freedom. I must maintain my freedom.

But I really want to chew.

Maybe just one little corner and no one will notice ...

my boy's poster
my mom's book

Horse Barn, Part II

Last night I rode Wit. Apparently Wit is twenty years old, although you would never know by looking at him or even by riding him. Sweetly, proudly, and with energy he took me through the obstacle course that Bo, my instructor, created in the outdoor ring. It was a perfect crisp October evening: the air was cool but not cold, the sun was illuminating the beautiful gold and red leaves, the waxing gibbous moon was already visible over the horizon. I really wanted to bust out of the ring and hit the trails, but all in due time.

When I arrived, there were two little girls riding in the outdoor ring, both riding English. Watching was a lovely older lady - tall and elegant - and while chatting she pointed out her granddaughter and explained that is was her first night not riding Western. The little girl was a natural, and her grandmother "Judy" was so proud. Over the course of the evening I was blessed to get to know Judy, and she is truly an inspiration. She told me how she began riding later in life and how much it means to her. She works out and stays in shape just so she can keep riding, and now she can mount any horse without using steps or stools. When she can no longer ride, she explained, her goal is to volunteer at a nearby therapeutic riding stable. Wow. She helped me by getting Wit from the pasture, and helping me find which gear was his so I could get him groomed and saddled for my lesson. I like Judy, and I can't wait to see her again. Heck, I want to be Judy when I grow up.

One of the things Judy and I discussed was the atmosphere of various riding stables in the area. She had sampled a number of them over the years, and as a result could qualify her attraction to Dream Bo, and especially to Bonita, the owner and trainer. There may be snazzier facilities out there, but there is not anyone who loves their animals more than Bo. Her adoration and respect for her horses is evident by not only how she talks to them and handles them, but also in the cleanliness of her barn and how she teaches the children good barn management skills. Did I mention that most of her students are little girls? There is something magical about little girls and horses, and I may be biased as I was one of those little girls many years ago, but the energy created by that love is one of my favorite parts of my weekly lesson. There is a joyful sweet feeling -- I am struggling for adjectives right now -- that is palpable in and around that barn. Of course the stress of running a business like that in this tough economy must weigh heavily on Bo, but you would never guess it. She is kind and humorous, encouraging and positive. She is an excellent role model in so many ways for these young girls, and it warms my heart to watch her interact with the girls and with her horses.

Dream Bo is not where my horse journey will end, partly because it is simply too far from my house, but Dream Bo certainly has been an excellent place to begin this new horse chapter in my life.

in french, yes, I know
 (Google Images)

Friday, October 15, 2010


Bears haunted my dreams as a child, and once in a while a big black bear will still pop up in my adult nightmares. I'm not positive how they became such a powerful animal to me, but I have a suspicion: Honey Bear, by Dixie Willson. My mom used to read it to my brother and I before bed, and maybe - just maybe -  the scary voice my mother used somehow filtered through my subconscious. Maybe it was the scary illustrations. Maybe it was the fact that the story is about a bear that steals a sweet baby. Whatever.

The tattered old book currently resides at our family cabin in the bear-infested Adirondacks where it has been used as nighttime reading for my son when he was young (sweet dreeeams, Chandler!). I have tried to dig up info on the book's history and have found very little.  I did, however, find a gem of an article by Tom Wolfe in the Yale Alumni Magazine. He has published books such as The Bonfire of the Vanities and The Right Stuff, and his description of this book pretty much nails it:

Honey Bear is a narrative poem about a baby kidnapped from a bassinet by a black bear. Maginel Wright Barney drew and painted in the japanais Vienna Secession style. To me, her pictures were pure magic. But Honey Bear's main attraction was Dixie Willson's rollicking and rolling rhythm: anapestic quadrameter with spondees at regular intervals. One has to read it out loud in order to be there:
Once upon a summer in the hills by the river
Was a deep green forest where the wild things grew.
There were caves as dark as midnight—there were tangled trees and thickets
And a thousand little places where the sky looked through.
...Dixie Willson was the sister of Meredith Willson of The Music Man fame and that Maginel Wright Barney was the sister of Frank Lloyd Wright. As luck and nonfiction would have it, they never laid eyes on each other. 

Wolfe explains that it was this book that inspired him to become a writer. Hmmmm ... so I'm not the only one affected by this book.

My mom vehemently defends her reading of this book to us. Her grandmother read it to her and no nightmares resulted. Besides, she says, in the end the parents find the baby having a honey party with the bear, and that is why mommies call their babies "Honey". 'Sounds logical, but maybe my great grandmother didn't use a scary voice? Anyway, the illustrations are burned into my brain, and I found some (poorly scanned) images online to share:

creeeeepy bear

umm ... does this look like a nice bear to you???

yikes ...

just look at those beady eyes!

yes, it's a poem

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Zen ~ Order

"The world is not to be put in order. The world is order. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order."        Henry Miller

pumpkin study

Fuzzy Time

With the first frost comes that time of year again ...

fuzzy (winter 2008)

fuzzy (early spring 2010)

sleek (summer 2010)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fishing Lessons Needed

'Sick to my stomach.

Many of my colleagues are getting the word this week that their positions will be eliminated next year. These are colleagues that are excellent teachers. 'Colleagues that motivate and inspire our young people. 'Colleagues that have young children and mortgages. 'Colleagues that contribute to society on every level, including financially through the payment of taxes and purchasing of goods.

Here's my humble opinion: we need to spend LESS money on lazy non-contributing members of society, and MORE money on preparing young people to be hard-working contributing members of society. Education, including vocational training, is key. So what is our government doing? It is increasing the freebie handouts, and decreasing funding to education. Where is the incentive to work if all you need to do is apply for benefits? Darwin would certainly have an opinion on this.

I am a registered Independent as I am generally very moderate in my politics, but with financial issues the Republicans are definitely making more sense to me.

We are handing out free fish left and right, and the fishing lessons are getting cut.

from Google

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Magnificent World

"The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."   Henry Miller

late summer Queen Anne's Lace


So much of contemporary art is not intended to be "beautiful".

Art should provoke, art should speak about sometimes unpleasant things, art should make us re-think what we "know". Sometimes that is not pretty. 

Andrew Goldworthy's photography is beautiful.

His work connects with me on a primal level - that place where nature deeply affects my spirit.

His work is peaceful.

The only sound you hear is silence.

... all images from Google Images ... explore the web for more ...

Friday, October 1, 2010


There it was.

On the floor of our spare bedroom aka "the office".

Chewed on the edges, with some pages torn out.

My notebook of research and writing that relate to my book.

My book that I haven't made the time to think about since late August.

My book that deserves to be written.

My book that is about raising good kids and raising good dogs.

Good dogs
do not
chew notebooks.


I am feeling ready to get back to disciplined writing and research,

ready to ditch the excuses,

ready to produce.

I only wish there were a couple more hours in each day.

but. but. we are so innocent!