Saturday, January 1, 2022

A Gift

 New Years Day, 2022

It's interesting how the celebration of New Year's has changed through the decades for me.  Once upon a time, it was all about dressing up, going to a party and lots of champagne. As the years went by, it became spending time with good friends, enjoying good food and making memories. Then it was just Rick and I, a great meal at home, and a good bottle of wine and sometimes we didn't stay up to welcome the new year.

Rick loved New Years, it and Thanksgiving were his two favorite holidays.  He made elaborate mind maps of his resolutions, he would make recordings of his resolutions.  For him, a new year was like getting a new life.  I never got into resolutions but I always did vision boards.  A couple of months after he died, I picked up my vision board for 2020 and threw it in the trash.  Everything on that board, every vision I had included him.  I no longer make vision boards.

Last year as 2021 came calling, I had expectations.  You probably had them as well.  A vaccine would be distributed, Covid would be contained, and  the divisive craters created by politics would begin to grow smaller.  

This year, I have no expectations of 2022.  As a matter of fact, I smudged my house last night, opened the doors and hoped that any kind of negativity that existed would disappear into the darkness.

 I am living one day at a time with hopes that I can spend time with my friends and family, play music once again and travel before I am too old.  I am practicing kindness as much as I possibly can.  This farm is a full time job but the hard work outdoors has been good for me.  I am grateful for family, friends, my dogs and chickens.  My life is very different, but it's good.  Painting and music give me joy, so do books and conversations with friends. 

This morning when I walked the dogs I spied a flash of golden yellow on the trail.  I looked down and there was a heart shaped leaf.  I think it was a gift for the new year.  For this year, may we all be kind, to each other, our selves, to the world around us.


Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas 2021

 December 25, 2021

My second Christmas without Rick.  I foolishly thought this one would be easier, I was wrong.

With Jordan's help, I put up a Christmas tree.  With Rick's voice in my head, I painted cards, and I didn't get enough painted, so New Year's cards will be sent to those I missed.

But, it hasn't all been sad, friends have sent surprises, called  and sent wonderful wishes and love.  Family has done the same.  Jordan and I did our traditional outdoor Charlie Brown tree and we baked cookies. I had breakfast with my brother's family yesterday.  Both sisters invited me to their family gatherings today. But I chose to stay on the farm this Christmas day.  I need the outdoors, the space and the healing of of this place.

Last night was a good healing ugly cry.  My friend Christine is right, a good cry always makes you feel better.  Today the sun came up and as I glimpsed a few messages on FB, they were all full of love and kindness.  The song from years ago is right, " why can't every day be like Christmas."  If we could just capture that feeling and push replay any time we felt animosity toward each other.

It's warm in Alabama this week,  and that makes me envious of those who have snow and cold. The dogs are still sleeping, the wind is blowing and I smell the coffee brewing.  I wish all of you the Happiest and most Loving of Christmases today.  I hope your Christmas wishes come true.   


Friday, November 19, 2021

November

 November has always been my favorite month, Thanksgiving my favorite holiday.  I have been laboring hard the past few weeks, getting this farm ready for a winter's rest.  I watched the lunar eclipse ( well parts of it )  and thought about Rick, hoping that he was somewhere seeing the magnificent spectacle of a cold autumn night and mother nature's magic.

This will be my second holiday season without him.  I think the reality of it is that it's actually the first that I am fully aware.  Last year's season was just a passing of time, between family members with Covid and the crater of darkness that his passing created, the sunrises and sunsets happened without fanfare. I did decorate a tree and paint a few cards but that empty space consumed me.

It's not that you get use to the emptiness it just becomes a part of who you are.  Learning to live a life alone after spending 46 years with someone is a jigsaw puzzle of emotions and decisions.  Each of  us will or has handled loss differently.  When my parents and brother died, I threw myself into work but when Rick died I faced the ugliness of grief head on.  Covid and the isolation that it brought to the world caused so many of us to grieve alone.

I can tell you this, we who survived that grief and loss are not to be taken lightly.  My tolerance for greed, hate and ugliness has disappeared.  I know how quickly life can change, how precious moments are and those who have walked this path seem to be in agreement with me.

So Thanksgiving will continue to be different.  I will cook a bit this year.  I will as always ( even in the darkest of days) think of things to place on my gratitude list.  For me, friends hold a special place on that list, without those who stood by me  my life would be so cold and empty.  My animals, this farm gave me healing energy when I thought there was none and family, who even in their grief stood by me.

My hopes for the coming winter's rest is that creativity will blossom for me and that my body will continue to remain healthy and strong.  For others who are in the throes of grief, hold on.  Life changes, you will change, that's all I know.



Saturday, October 23, 2021

Morning

 October 23

It's been awhile, but to be honest getting the farm ready for winter is labor intense, especially when you are the laborer.

This morning there was dense heavy fog shrouding everything with a chill.  I made a pot of coffee, gave the dogs their morning treat and settled on the sofa to watch my day begin.  As always the birds came to say hello and eat their morning meal, I could hear the geese on the neighbors pond and the occasional ping of acorns as they dropped on the tin roof.

Most mornings I still shed tears, maybe I always will.  The stillness and silence and emptiness of the dawn reminds me Rick is gone.  I tried talking with the dogs, but they do not converse.  So I sip hot coffee and remember, good times and bad as I plan the day.  My old leather day planner is over 30 years old and it remains a  good and steady friend.  It has become my compass when there is darkness and a guide when life overwhelms me with its business of continuing.

After the fog lifts this morning the task of privet war begins.  Privets, hedges if you will, have tried their best to claim my back fence.  After a meeting with the saw today, they get doused with white vinegar and I dare them to rear their ugly faces again.  It has become personal, this battle of who controls my back fence and I intend to win.  My oldest sister battles them with a small torch and I warn them, I have one of those as well.

Fall is doing her best to appear, but she is slow to make an entrance down here in the south.  I love her and I wait for her.  I know that fall brings a calmer pace to the farm,  and not only does the earth begin to rest but I get to turn my energies to my creative side.  Finally with fall and winter, art and music get my attention and the labors of spring and summer wait for their turn sometime in the future.

Friday, September 3, 2021

The Power of Music

 August ended, September has arrived and he brought cooler temps, well 80's for highs and 60's for lows.

As I write these words this morning I am listening to Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers.  It's a big deal because I am listening to my old vinyl  and I am happy.  Before he died, Rick had gotten us a new turntable and gotten our old albums out of storage.  Last week, I finally started cleaning and shelving the albums, the first one I played....Delaney and Bonnie.

Listening to the music that helped to shape who I am has been such a release of emotions, good and bad.  Rick had given some of our albums to our nephew Michael many years ago.  Sadly Michael passed away and who knows what happened to those albums.   Frankly there are albums in my stacks that I looked at and thought why did I/we buy this.  I am sure at the time of purchase the reason was valid.

It is exciting to hear albums that I haven't heard in 30 years or so.  Rick was such a lover of all things new and technical.  When cds came out, he was jubilant.   We have have 100's of cds, but there were many obscure albums that  we owned which were never transferred to cd and I missed them.  My morning coffee  and evening reads  are truly more pleasurable listening to music that was as much a part of my life as Rick.

Gram Parsons was a major influence on our music.  His voice, his harmonies inspired us to put that raw emotion into what we created.

Another album that I have listened to this week, Leon Russell and Marc Benno, Asylum Choir.  Hearing Salty Candy again made me laugh and their version of Sweet Home Chicago brings back many memories.

I truly believe in the arts, without them I fear we humans will not survive.  Every trip we ever took to a new city, we visited museums, galleries, and listened to local musicians, watched local theatrical productions, ate foods we had never experienced, tried to always meet locals.  Learning as much as we could about about other places and people and absorbing new cultures was always our goal.  Everywhere we traveled , we expected to have a good time and you know, we always did.  

Music is powerful, it can bring joy, tears, trigger old memories, create new ones and be your best friend. I would be the first to admit that our taste in music was about eclectic as you can get.  Music educated me and opened my eyes and heart to the world around me.  Music was the bond that helped us share 46 years together, music introduced us to many of our dearest friends.  For several months after Rick died, I could not listen to music of any kind.  I knew in my heart the healing of my gaping wound would never take place until I could hear music and let it bathe my emotions.  I was right.

I hope there is music in your life today. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

A Life of Resistance

 July was quite a month, much rain, very hot and a great deal of work to do here on the farm.

August has been much of the same, but honestly I had rather deal with the rain instead of a drought.

This morning a friend shared an essay written by a Hopi Indian chief a few weeks ago.   The words were words I desperately needed to see and read.  I have printed a copy of it and it will be my morning meditation for awhile.

Before I share it with all of you, I will explain why I think these words resonated with my spirit today and felt like manna from heaven or a long drink of crystal cold water.

Several years ago when I was very sick and there were doctors from three different hospitals in Birmingham trying to figure out what was wrong, one of them suggested they reach out to the Mayo clinic on my behalf.  18 very large vials of blood later, several pages of questions about my health and my family's health, and encouraging words from the doc the package was sent to the clinic.  A few weeks later, I received basically a book/report from Mayo and the doctor at UAB.  I finally had answers and hope.  One of the biggies from Mayo was in depth information about my genetic makeup and DNA.

It turns out one of the diseases I was dealing with was because of my genetic makeup.  I am Irish, Native American and African American mix.  I found the results fascinating because my whole life since I was a child, I was drawn to people who looked different than me.  Friendships were always easy for me with those whose skin was not my color.

With all that being said, Native American culture has been something I have studied for years, the other interesting thing, through the years when I would meet elderly African Americans they always asked what tribe I was from. After getting that report, there were  many questions answered.  This essay that I am sharing with you today is about living a life of resistance.  It's not what you think, when you hear that word resistance and maybe you will be like me, when you read it you too will decide to follow a life of resistance.


Hopi Indian Chief White Eagle commented a few days ago on the current situation:
′′ This moment humanity is experiencing can be seen as a door or a hole. The decision to fall in the hole or walk through the door is up to you. If you consume the news 24 hours a day, with negative energy, constantly nervous, with pessimism, you will fall into this hole.
But if you take the opportunity to look at yourself, to rethink life and death, to take care of yourself and others, then you will walk through the portal.
Take care of your home, take care of your body. Connect with your spiritual home. When you take care of yourself, you take care of everyone at the same time.
Do not underestimate the spiritual dimension of this crisis. Take the perspective of an eagle that sees everything from above with a broader view. There is a social question in this crisis, but also a spiritual question. The two go hand in hand.
Without the social dimension we fall into fanaticism. Without the spiritual dimension, we fall into pessimism and futility.
Are you ready to face this crisis. Grab your toolbox and use all the tools at your disposal.
Learn resistance from the example of Indian and African peoples: we have been and are exterminated. But we never stopped singing, dancing, lighting a fire and rejoicing.
Don't feel guilty for feeling blessed in these troubled times. Being sad or angry doesn't help at all. Resistance is resistance through joy!
You have the right to be strong and positive. And there's no other way to do it than to maintain a beautiful, happy, bright posture.
Has nothing to do with alienation (ignorance of the world). It's a resistance strategy.
When we cross the threshold, we have a new worldview because we faced our fears and difficulties. This is all you can do now:
- Serenity in the storm
- Keep calm, pray everyday
- Make a habit of meeting the sacred everyday.
Show resistance through art, joy, trust and love.
Hopi Indian Chief White Eagle
July 9th 2021

Friday, July 16, 2021

One Year

 July 16, one year ago today my life changed forever.  There have been days that I didn't think I could go on and days I wished I wouldn't.  Part of me left with Rick, maybe he didn't mean to take it with him, but he did.  

All has changed, nothing has changed.  I'm keeping the farm the way he wanted, the dogs are fine, the chickens are happy.  It has been a cooler wetter than normal summer.  That means some crops have thrived some have not.  The blueberries were the tastiest ever and the hens are laying like crazy.

I almost see him sometimes out of the corner of my eye, I feel him daily.  I hear his voice urging me on, saying you can do this.  

I am finding my way, I have stumbled blindly so many times and fallen.  I find the strength to get back up, though it takes awhile and there is nothing easy about it.  The love and support of friends and family has been my fuel, without them, without his voice in the back of my head the will to live would have withered.

Today there is weed eating to be done,  the chicken pen/house has to be cleaned.  I slept very little last night, but all through the darkness, his voice was there for comfort, "you can do this."  Before I go to sleep tonight, there is one more thing that will have to be done...I am picking up my guitar for the very first time since he left and just for him I am singing a song.  That's my gift for him on this unwanted anniversary.

I think of the phrase he told everyone he met... How you doing, they would say?  and his answer..".I am living the dream."  We had an incredible dream together, I am left with the fragments but somehow some way, I am putting them back together and adding new parts.    Nothing will ever be the same,  but my answer now for that same question,  How you doing?...."I'm ok."