Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Trumpet The News

What is this? I'm leaving the farm today did you say? This world traveler is going to lunch........about three miles from home. And then this afternoon I am attending my first Watertown Fine Arts Committee meeting. This one is a long six mile drive. I had better make sure my passport is in order.

This is the small town that is my mailing address. There has been an effort to spruce it up. but it hasn't caught up to my brain.
There is a jazz festival on the agenda. That could be fun. My farrier told me the rib cook-off in the summer has national cred. Who knew?

So a day filled with two outings. My old Jeep won't know what to think. Mark told me he didn't think it is legal for me to leave twice. Of course the only reason I can leave this afternoon is his generosity. Someone needs to bring in and feed all those horses. The flow of life on my horse farm is completely determined by the horses. And people choose this life. I did, Mark didn't. So I need to be grateful that he helps me when he does.

Let's hope I still know how to behave in public.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Lamb Lays Down With The Lion

Margaret rules the house. 

Howard laid there with the beast next to him with some apprehension. She moved in after he found the sunbeam. The comforting warmth of the sun and fear of the seemingly mindless villainy only a cat can inflict kept Howard still as a mouse. OK, bad metaphor.

Margaret knows attitude is every thing.

Friday, January 29, 2010

One Simple Thing


Since I put as one of my simple pleasures pie, I was compelled to make one. I have apples frozen from my ancient tree, so it was an easy decision to put a little pie together.

It didn't hold together, but it did not matter. Sweet apple with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg saved the day. And the crust, well it was melt-in-the-mouth wonderful. A little half & half poured over the delicious mess finished it beautifully.

So now you know why I need elastic in my waistband!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Pause of Purple

I looked at the calendar and then out the window.....yep, still January.

Fortunately, I have many photos of my gardens to get me through the frozen time. The bright side is, it's bright out. The sun has made an appearance.

You know the feeling of yearning; that feeling of ache. I'm willing to bet if you live in a frozen land you know it. I want to plant, prune. It's hovering barely above zero fahrenheit. It seems the yearning will continue for some time to come.

In the meantime I will need to content myself with the image of better days.

Be warm, stay well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Simple Things

Christina at Soul Aperture is doing a day of Simple Things that bring us joy. Please check her blog and the many people who participate in this musing today. Christina is donating money to Doctors Without Borders in Haiti for every blog that participates. The horror in Haiti continues long after our cameras move on to something else. 

The simple things. The burden many of us often feel, the turn life has taken precludes the realization of the simple things. The everyday events that make a life evade my notice, tucked up under the strain of managing. So at Christina's urging I am spending a little time thinking about the everyday things that make me smile, make me think. That make me grateful. That make me, me.

good cheer
good wine
warm soup

rain after it's been too dry
the nicker of a newborn foal
a mare nuzzling her baby
my goofy stallion

a sturdy barn
hay in the loft
freshly bedded stalls
enough food for all of us, on two legs and four
the people in my life

the unexpected surprise of nature
a hardworking, steady husband and partner in life
a child who grew into a decent, kind adult
my parents long lives
a sense of humor
reckless abandon
serious thought
mystery novels

a wag of a tail
joyful barking, wiggling bodies
soulful eyes

a hot shower at the end of a long day outside
my Mac
a warm bed
strong coffee with cream
black tea with sugar & milk

the beauty of a rose
dirt under my fingernails
the bounty of my garden
the smell of leather

the sound snow makes on a sub-zero day
walking into a warm barn
horses quietly munching their hay

the joy of my dogs
a clean house
elastic waistbands

These are a few of my favorite things.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Let Me Off This Train

Nineteen Eighty-Two

Ronald Reagan had been president for a year. America as I had known it was on the way to changing. This  much younger me had the benefit of a kinder, gentler society. A society that was willing to pay taxes. A society that wanted the next generation to have more opportunity than they had.

I was able to live on my own, with a young child. I was able to work and go to college and support my son and myself. I was able to come out of college with little debt. The generation below me held us up. They carried us on their shoulders while we got ready to stand on our own feet. It all changed. Seemingly overnight. Of a sudden I was living in the "I got mine, go get your own" society. A country dominated by an immoral Moral Majority. A country that was on a fast track to decay.

I was raised in America's golden period, so I know we don't need to be this way. I would like to hear from someone who adheres to the conservative economic policies, what this has done for individuals as well as the country as a whole. I don't need to hear about the obvious; more billionaires. I wonder what has benefited joe average. I wonder.

The State of the Union address will likely be pandering to the Conservadems and the others on the right. The people I grew up around held jobs requiring a shower after work. They were no ones idea of liberal.  They believed in hard work and responsibility. Not the personal responsibility that the noise machine talks about now. Real responsibility, a responsibility to the society which they lived in, raised their children in.

The person in this photo benefited from their efforts and sacrifice. I had a leg up. Things changed.  I got old and the country got lost.

A Yellow Yearning

This rose graced the cover of the Jackson & Perkins rose catalogue. Isn't it glorious.

I love yellow roses and yet I seem to have a difficult time growing them. But once again I will try with this rose. It grabbed me from the moment I pulled the catalogue from the mailbox. Such a happy color.

This is my time of year to page through the catalogues, yearning for spring. Hearing the muffled murmur of life under the frozen earth speak to me, whispering their promise of spring. Of beauty.

When I lose myself to the flowers on paper the cold, gray landscape outside my window disappears, replaced with bobbing heads of delphinium, lily and rose. For a brief time the misery of a Minnesota winter vanishes behind the promise of May.

So now I start planning my purchases. I need to plan wisely, as times are not what they once were. But I will have this rose.

Stay warm. Be happy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

And Now.......For the Big Reveal

Okay, too much HGTV.

My office, the space where all those pearls of wisdom fall from my finger tips onto the computer screen. It was so dusty and cluttered it had become impossible to move about the room. There was a path from the door to the desk. The desk was obscured by piles of paper and books.

I didn't do anything other than clean up and swap burgundy velvet curtains for the olive faux suede curtains, but it feels like a new space. Because I can get into it. This time I swear I will be good and clean my room. I really, really will.

This is my year of transformation. My year to decide to enjoy my space, my life. If only I could get Howard out of my chair.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Dogs Life

Yesterday was such a difficult day for my dogs. I was busily chasing dust and dog hair in my office all day and into the night. How can a dog get a proper rest when the two-legger is creating a swirl of dust.

Poor Howard needed to stretch out and relax. Life is so difficult, a boy needs his chair.

Unfortunately, there is only one chair and two dogs. Grace circled him the whole while he tried to relax, eventually wearing him down and out of the coveted spot.

Success has its' rewards.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rain, Ice, Wind......... The Wonders Of Home

It is a very ugly day in the land of the dark and frozen.

Considering it looks and feels like a misery outside, I thought I would remind myself of better days with a lovely floral photo. Ah, only a few months away.

I hope wherever you are it is better than here. If not, let the iris bring you to better days, if only for a moment and if only in your mind.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rain, Wrapping and Dust

I thought those of us in frozen landscapes could use a little encouragement.

We are stuck in a dreary cycle. The temperatures have been mild but damp. We have rain in the forecast for tomorrow. This is a bad thing in Minnesota, for it will freeze. Some may remember the awful winter I had last year because of ice. My poor horses suffered terribly.

I have been running several projects at once, which leads to havoc in the house. I'm not entirely done with the painting projects but my right shoulder has been unhappy; an unhappy shoulder does not allow for comfortable painting! So I have the finishing on hold but have done a lot of de-cluttering.

I have wrapped and boxed lots of items that had graced my living area. I realized I had not changed much of anything for the entire time we have lived here. So I swept the place clean. It was a good thing to do.

My office is a disgrace. I should be ashamed, but I'm more horrified. Somehow my blinders have been working overtime, allowing me to ignore the dust and clutter in total contentment. Once started, the enormity of the mess has come home to roost. How can I live like this? It seems, fairly easily.

Still no membership application from the saddle club. I'm going to begin to take it personally. Or realize someone may have a life and sending me an application isn't high on the list of priorities. I'd rather self aggrandize and think it's me!

If you see a swirl of dust on the horizon you will know I got back to work in my office. Take cover, save yourself. I think it's toxic.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


My day had been planned. I was to testify at the restitution hearing regarding my mutilated trees. Once again there is a continuance.

Two years ago this month in the dark of night chain saws were taken to my old foundation spruce trees. These trees were planted at the time of platting and homestead. They are something to be enjoyed, cared for and passed on to the next generation.

A mindless, narcissistic man found them to be in his way. A local evangelical minister moved a house down my road. Instead of talking to property owners to accommodate his venture, he took it upon himself to use a cherry picker and a chainsaw on anything he found in the way.

No remorse. Arrogant, in my face 'so what'. I told him he messed with the wrong person and like a pit bull I pursued this case. I pushed the Sheriff's office, I hounded the county prosecutor, I went off like a banshee each time the county attorney tried to settle this in his favor. I never let go of the bastard's pant leg. After nearly two years he eventually pled down from a felony to a misdemeanor. A lessor charge, but he was convicted. One half of the equation has been accomplished. Restitution is the second half. So the weaseling begins again.

A minister. Evangelical. Another crook hiding behind a collar. I'm stuck with him in my neighborhood. His congregation is stuck, although they would never believe it, with a soulless narcissist as their spiritual leader. Ironic.

If his god does exist, I would like to be the fly on the wall when they meet.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Turtle Comes Out Of The Shell

What have I done! I joined. Three clubs in one day.

Tri-County Riders of Watertown Saddle Club. Kristina and I tried to join last year, but no one got back to me and as I broke my wrist it didn't matter anyway. So now I have joined. We are not the typical saddle club members, but Lipizzan, Saddlebred and Arabian might add some spice to the mix! My horses have been a business, and therefore work, for so long I think we will enjoy some fun stuff. And getting off the farm. Did I say I need to get off the farm? Now I have to lose weight and get on poor old Spenser. I can tell you, he's thrilled. The boy above is a little too much for me right now, which makes him very thrilled!

The Westonka Horticultural Society. They meet at the community center in Mound, a short six mile drive for me. I think this will be a pleasant diversion from my increasingly dull life. Gardeners are a oddly mixed bunch.

Blue Horse
Franz Marc

Now don't laugh. Watertown Fine Arts Society. This is not an oxymoron. Really. OK, I almost laughed out loud when I read the name, but there is money in this area and somehow they came up with funds to build a state-of-the-art 600 seat theatre. They received a $32,000 donation and bought a Boston piano and have a climate controlled room to house it. The group is working at making Watertown a center for the arts in the western fringe. Personally I always have associated the town with the tattoo parlor and Pam's Bar. I guess I was mistaken. It could be fun... or funny. Either is a diversion from manure.

I have lived in this community for nearly two decades and I have never made an effort to become part of it. Now that my horse business went down with the economy I am looking for something to add to my life. I am still busy because I own so many of them, but I'm not interacting with humans anymore. No breeding clients, no buyers, no boarders........ only horses and dogs. That's not all bad, but too much of a good thing is too much. I'm going to forget how to talk before long.

So I joined. Now I need to re-find that brake between my brain and my mouth and I suppose I will need to buy some clothes that aren't threadbare and stained. Oh, oh. The second will be much easier then the first.

This could be a long and winding road or a short walk down the drive. Either way, I may get OFF THE FARM.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Per Request

Rhubarb Cake

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
4 cups rhubarb
1/3 cup white sugar (I used unwashed raw sugar)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.
Sift flour, baking soda & salt: gradually stir into butter mixture. Fold in sour cream and rhubarb. Spoon batter into greased 9x13 baking pan.
Mix sugar and nutmeg and sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

What To My Wondering Eye Did Appear..........

Oh my, oh dear!

What have we here? It is the sun, the sky is clear. Oh me, oh my..... let's give a cheer!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Find Comfort

There is comfort in the familiar. The thing is, the familiar is changing. I think perhaps we have walked through the looking glass.

So it is important to find comfort where we can. To make sure to notice a moment, to acknowledge a kindness. Scratch your dog behind the ears and see her smile.

Enjoy a bowl of hot soup and a glass of wine. Use the good crystal....what are you saving it for? Stop worrying about the things that mean nothing. Tomorrow is another day; or maybe not. There may not be a tomorrow, so live life like you mean it.

Have a piece of cake.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I've changed the look of the blog. (DUH!) I can get stuck in one place and decided it was time to let it go.

The thing I don't like is the need to run the cursor over the area of the comments to see the clickable and some of the names on the blog roll are the same thing...run the cursor over it to see the blog name. Maybe I'll figure out a way to change this.

New year, new look.


Isn't this a great word.

It's the word that came to my mind when I saw this fly on a paper towel laying on my desk. In January. In Minnesota. A housefly happily buzzing about.

It's a word to describe so much of what is happening all around us. Sounds so much better than the other words I could use.

Although it describes the situation in Haiti, I don't think it has a strong enough sound to it. Horrific is more suitable. Heart-wrenching is another.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eat That

I was raised by depression era parents, so I was drilled in the belief that food was not to be wasted and that I was lucky to have enough to eat. A dinner did not go by where I was not told there are people starving, so eat those potatoes.

I have had this brought to the front of my brain by an innocent forum post of a couple of days ago. Someone I have met once, but really don't know, put online that she had made a resolution to stop wasting food, and then promptly wasted several pork chops by leaving them out.

When I read the first sentence I found myself feeling wonder at the very idea of wasting food. Who does this? Someone younger than me. People who weren't daily told the value of having enough to eat. Someone who has not been effected by the economic hardship so many are living with. Someone who is not mindful.

This simple statement stuck in my mind. Echos of my mother telling me to be thankful I am not hungry and eat those hated potatoes started as I read it. Images of the college students in Michigan standing in line at the food bank. Thoughts of the millions on food stamps. Knowing there are so many who fall through the cracks. Hunger. Waste. No thought, no shame. A light little piece put online as a oops moment.

There really are two Americas.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Starved Minds

Fast Food Bodies

I read in the paper a few days ago that frozen pizza sales are through the roof. It is the fastest growing and largest market for frozen and prepared foods. The article went on to explain why prepared food is such a huge market; people either don't want to cook or don't know how to cook.

This made me think of an adage; if you know how to cook you will never go hungry. As a caveat to this, you do need something to cook with, but if you know how, you can make food from limited ingredients. I was able to make a full dinner last night for two people for about $4.00. I know how to cook.

The food network is wildly popular but people don't cook. It is strange to spend time watching someone do something you yourself have no interest in doing. Day after day. Is there some yearning there but a lack of impetus? I would think a lifetime of processed food would be the catalyst needed to spur action. I suppose it will remain a mystery to me.

Yesterday I listened briefly to MPR (MN Public Radio) and heard something interesting and disturbing. A psychologist was talking about studies at the clinic where he works involving the brain of juveniles who use texting, twitter and the social networking sites on a regular basis. 

It seems the brain waves on these youngsters show that the kids lack the ability to recognize facial expression. The psychologist said the ability to read emotion is what leads to empathy. This disturbed me, for it leads to all sorts of speculation. We already have a society which lacks empathy and sympathy. Wall Street is full of those type. If an entire generation grows up like this, what will it lead to?

As the Wicked Witch so famously said: "What a world. What a world."

Friday, January 1, 2010

So Long, Farewell. Good Riddance

The new year always looks like this in my little corner of the world. 

So we said goodbye to the double ohs. Speaking strictly for myself, I am glad to see the backside of the decade. In fact, I think I mentally gave 2009 a kick in the pants on its way out.

The era of Bush, the time America lost its mind and its soul. 

2009, the year I got old. A natural result of idealism lost.

As we dip our toe into the promise of a new decade, a new start, we can hope. I am grabbing hope by the collar and dragging it back into the room for one more go-around. I may have become old last year, but I'm not down for the count. Not yet.

In the meantime I will bundle up and deal with the new year present Canada has sent us; sub-zero temperatures. 'Cause you know, baby it's cold outside.

Happy New Year gentle people. I know you can't tell, but I'm not frowning. That's the first step toward smiling!