The horse's pasture to the East...

Monday, November 14, 2016


Does it feel like the world is having a meltdown? We're all hyperventilating about the election of a wild card. People, especially celebrities, have been telling us they're going to move to another country. Some of my hyper 'liberal' friends are saying "It's the end of the World! We're all going to die!" The EU is having an emergency meeting and the UN is issuing formless warnings. 

I wish people would just get a grip. This isn't the end of the USA and it isn't the end of civilization either. The sun came up this morning. Yup. definitely out there, towards the Southeast where it always is this time of year. The electricity is on, water running and the stars are still in the sky. Life as we know it has not ended and none of us need to hold teddy bears or sit in comfort rooms eating cookies (as much fun as that is!). Really, IT IS going to be OK.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is the term used to described the psychological effects of being involved in a traumatic event, such as a major car accident, a natural disaster, bullying, abuse or violent crime. 
Many young people who experience very distressing events recover without experiencing PTSD - but some people do develop it.
Symptoms can include:
  • Flashbacks and nightmares
  • Avoiding reliving the event
  • Anxiety, unable to relax
  • Problems sleeping
  • Problems eating

The above is a short explanation of what PTSD is. And some of us definitely have it too. Who knows. Maybe this is the time for more people to go out and adopt dogs and cats from the shelters. Get your own 'therapy' dog and focus yourself on something in the real world. Walk your dog, groom your cat, sit on the floor and build a lego world with your children and/or grandchildren. Do your chores, clean your closets or give away something to a charity. Go serve food at a homeless shelter. Now THAT will give you a different perspective. 

This is where you tell me about depression . I know that one inside out. Been there, done that . Here's what kept me moving. I have people, two legged and four legged, who depend on me. From my perspective I have no choice. I have to get up and move. There isn't anyone to do it for me. If my house is dirty, chores need to be done or bills paid, I do it. And that includes my inner self. If I'm getting fuzzy on the inside, and disconnected, in a panic, I cry. "When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles. Scream and shout!" 

No, kidding aside, venting really does provide relief. For me, if I let the overwhelming emotions out, it's easier to get up and move. MOVE. How I wish I could get people to just move. Ever notice how the more you move the easier it is to get things done? I know there are people out there with serious, clinical depression. I've done that one too. The best advice I have for that is to reach out for help. Call a hotline, get a counselor, call a friend or family member.  And be patient with yourself. Your pain and panic won't just go away in a poof of pink smoke. You're probably sitting there with a phone in your hand. Use it to call someone and keep doing that until they or someone else picks up. 

I'm not sure that's an unusual state to be in. Everyone reading this has, at one time or another, been so down they're doing well to breath. We loose people we love and grieve. We go to work in the morning and come home in the evening with a box of stuff from our desk because we've been sacked. Maybe a spouse says they're leaving, a child is grown up and moving out, your car is sitting in the driveway, it won't start and you have the most important job interview you've ever had and you're going to miss the meeting. Maybe you're in an accident or have been physically or emotionally battered and you've lost your way. 

Without fear and pain we would have no perspective. Learning is best done outside the 'Comfort Zone'. And you wouldn't stop playing with fire if that blister didn't hurt like a son of a bitch!

 Wouldn't it be dull if life was like a vanilla pudding, smooth and bland with no lumps in it? Even amoeba have to duke it out for their existence. Adversity makes you stronger. Solving problems makes you more creative, smarter, especially if you are limited to working with what you have. You can't learn to walk if you don't try, and fall occasionally. 

Irritating aren't they? But that's the idea. They're funny and kind of like a bad rash at the same time. Hanz and Franz were always a guilty laugh for me. There was something mean about the sketches they did on SNL. But in between the laughing and snickering, I always began to feel better. I began to breath. It was another way for me to release the pressure that builds up when I've hit maximum stress levels. I'm looking at it this way. Comedians are going to have a hay day! Bad politics makes for great comedy and Americans do have a great sense of humor. 

So, instead of crying and panicking, packing up and heading for the woods to live in your Uncle's cabin that no one knows about, laugh! Turn and face your panic square on and let it roll through you. Do your own approach and retreat, staying closer to whatever it is that's frightening you for just a few minutes longer. And keep trying. I know it seems like I say this a lot, but never give up. Keep picking yourself up, knocking the dust off your jeans and putting your game face on. You're worth it. The World needs you!

I'm posting a hotline number for you folks who are in a world of hurt and beyond my musings here. Please, please ask for help. There are a lot of nice people out there who are willing to help.



TEXT “GO” TO 741741


 Their website address is :   So you can look them up and make sure they're the real deal.

Hotlines. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, are in danger, or are feeling suicidal, call 911 immediately. Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433. Immediate Medical Assistance: 911. Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863.
And if you live in my area : Headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas

Get Help

If you need help right now, you can reach our center 24/7 every day at 785-841-2345. We answer calls for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in Kansas at 800-273-8255 (TALK). Our trained volunteer counselors are standing by to listen. 
We also offer online emotional chat support Tuesday-Saturday, 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
If you're viewing our site via mobile, you can click the emergency links above to immediatley access our services.
I am, ever yours, Nancy, who keeps trying too, smiling because I can!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

ZOMBIES and How I Walked Away, Chaos in the Nether World

Zombies. The Walking Dead. According to the dictionary, the definition of the word Zombie is : A corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, especially in Caribbean or African cultures.

If you watch TV or read apocalyptic books and stories, a Zombie also has an insatiable need for human flesh and walks the Earth forever seeking what it needs. The only way you can stop it is by eliminating the brain, i.e.. stab it in the head, chop off it's head or shoot it in the head. Cool, huh? Messy too. 

Now you know and I know logic dictates that the half life of a Zombie is limited. It's body and brain is rotting. It's dead. That's what dead things do. They dissolve without the soul or energy to hold it together. It would walk for a limited time because the tendons and ligaments, muscles, skin and organs would break down very quickly. 

There are movies and books about Zombies, so many in fact that it's become a whole genre in the writing world. And every author changes the rules under which the Zombies can exist, to match their story line. There's even a show on TV, one of the top rated shows by the way, called THE WALKING DEAD.

Yup. There's even recreations of THE WALKING DEAD scenes using Legos. Oh my. I've watched some of the seasons of this show. I enjoyed the interactions between characters put in to impossible and illogical situations with the odds against them and, literally, no one left to care. In one episode it's made clear that whatever it is that makes a human revive after death as a flesh eating Zombie is not only infectious but all of us have it. The only way to prevent becoming one after you leave your body is to shoot yourself in the head. Fun.

But I love the metaphor too even though gore is not my cup of tea, pun not intended. I think I'm at last becoming more conservative with age because it seems to me the majority of humans are now in the category of Zombie. And I'll pass up the opportunity to compare politicians to Zombies here. Too easy a target.

I see people walking around with their eyes on their phones, texting or watching video. It's sad when I see parents walk in to a restaurant with two wonderful children and then they spend the whole time at the table looking at their phones, texting with friends and ignoring their babies and each other. Drivers drift all over the road while texting and even the new President elect here in the USA is addicted to tweeting. 

I'll reserve my comments on how I feel personally about the man . But I do wonder how they will control his mouth. He has absolutely no idea of how important it is to protect the people who work for his country. And he has no sense of diplomacy. He'll text without thinking about it and endanger people's lives. Phone addiction is serious stuff. He is one of the Zombies in the worst sense of the word.

Why do I think people are Zombies? They walk in to walls, drive off the road, fall while texting and talking. They walk down the street without seeing the world. All they can think about is their next interaction on a machine, talking with an artificial world. They eat without thinking, stay up too late, sometimes for days on end, because they're 'gaming' and in between they watch TV. Zombies. Do you see the similarities here? The only difference is they're eating their own brains and destroying themselves one inch at a time.

Last night I disconnected myself from some of the social media sites I enjoy so much. I realized I was beginning to look forward too much to connecting to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and so on. Even worse I began to think their opinions mattered more than my real time friends and what they had to say or wanted to do. It was like, horrors of horrors, going back to high school and walking down a hallway, hyper aware of my not so stylish clothes or a pimple on my cheek. Been there, done that, survived it and I never want to go back either.

But here's the down side for me. I love people. I was a pen pal kind of kid. I had friends I wrote letters to all over the world. And when I was a young adult, I traveled and I wrote to family and friends back home about where we were, what we were doing. I love a nice piece of paper and a good pen in my hand. I doodled on the pages too, painted and played with the surface, putting small sketches in the margins and decorating the top of the page. 

I love verbal and visual composition. And I love debate, discussions, learning about other lifestyles and languages. I am, most definitely, a learn-a-holic who loves people. So for me, ending social interactions online is a true and genuine loss. I love the complications of being human on a vast scale. There are seven billion of us and I was connected to people on every continent and nearly 2/3's of the world's countries, all of that via a phone and computer from a little ranch in Kansas. That verges on miraculous for me. I've had so much fun learning from other people!

Somewhere along the line it began to go sour. What felt like free and open discourse between people who were curious became something corporations and big brother governments wanted to control. How dare we find out the so called boogey man was just another bloke in a different location with the same set of problems and ideas! Even better we can exchange ideas and help each other. 

Add a particularly rancid and foul election cycle here in the states and a population that is easily persuaded to believe anything published by the media and my need to communicate began to hurt. People attacked other nice people because of their political preferences. That's just another form of bigotry as far as I'm concerned. I am American through and through. I firmly and absolutely believe in our freedom of choice here. EVERYONE has the right to practice whatever political preferences, or religions they want to, at least as long as no children are involved or injured in any way. What happens between consenting adults is their business.

And I loved learning from them, all of them. Putting myself in to the shoes of another is something I've practiced for years. I do my best to make no assumptions about anyone because they all have a story. I'm not interested in judging anyone. I do love learning from them though. I might not agree with them but I can nearly always see their point of view.

In short, I was addicted to communicating with people . In the meantime I became more distanced from my world. I love complexity and color, pattern and the interconnectedness of Nature. Watching it from a laptop computer was not interacting with it. It was just whispers, gossip and innuendo from voices in the dark. 

I'm done with that. I forgot that I'm not longer forced to deal with high school hallways and snickering gossips. I can walk away.

I'm back to my pastures and hills, camera and sketch book. I hope it helps to clear my head and stop the crying. I need laughter and puppies, kittens and horses, a recalcitrant donkey and my sense of humor in tact and healthy.

I hope you'll all stop in from time to time to visit, maybe to add to the story. But, please, leave your Zombies outside the door. It's such a mess having to clean up after them.

I am, ever yours, Nancy, moving on and laughing at the way things go

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

NO SUGAR FOR FOUR MONTHS ... and Counting!

I promised I'd check back in with you, about my quest to take sugar out of the equation and have one smoothie a day. Did I do it? Have I stuck to my 'guns' and eaten without sugar in my diet? 

I kept a running account on my journey, this Summer. I had an ice cream cone in July. I was downtown shopping with a friend of mine and it was over 100 degrees F. We walked past the local home made ice cream place ... and then turned around and went back for an ice cream cone. It was the best ice cream I've had in years! It was the real deal made out of heavy cream, dark chocolate pieces, real vanilla and honey. I tried to make it last but it was melting, the way real ice cream does, and I didn't want to waste any of it. The cone was home made too, made in an old fashioned waffle cone maker and rolled while it was still hot. More than worth falling off the wagon!

And this month, when one son came home and we went to visit the other, no smoothies for those days. And I missed them too. But those were mini vacations and time well spent. We ate out way too many times but the places we went to had good food and excellent service so It was more than worth it. And, in that weird way our bodies have of using calories, it revved up my metabolism too. 

So I guess this is one of those tiny confessions of an old cowgirl. I wasn't perfect EXCEPT I've bought no processed foods with sugar of any kind in them and no sugar either since June first of this year. 

We've eaten a majority of our food harvested from our own gardens this year, all organic too. That part is surprisingly easy to do, growing organically. We've been fed , pun intended , a load of bunk about the necessity of chemicals in our food chain. See those tomatoes, in the image above? That was one morning harvest on one day and that didn't count the evening harvest. We planted 26 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes and eight kinds of peppers (as well as seven kinds of greens, celery, four kinds of squash, two types of carrots, potatoes, turnips, radishes, onions, and the list goes on.) It wasn't even a good year crop wise because the weather patterns were so harsh and we still had so much we were able to can, freeze and dehydrate food for the winter AND share with the neighbors. Great exercise mentally, emotionally and physically. Did I forget to mention the raspberries and blackberries? Quarts and quarts of them and we're still harvesting raspberries every day this autumn. We eat like royalty here and it's all from two gardens no bigger than 15 ' by 30 ' each. But I'm off the subject, sort of.

I"m not going to tell you there are any miraculous over night changes here. That's bunk sold to you by the media. I haven't gone back to wearing size six skinny jeans like I did in my youth. I did squeeze myself in to a pair of size eight jeans but it wasn't comfortable. 

The wrinkles didn't magically disappear and my hair didn't go back to being blonde and thick. There were all sorts of good things that did come from eliminating sugar and eating no processed foods. I love doing lists so suffer through it with me, if you will.

1. No aches in any of my joints at all. They're gone. I've lost track of the number of friends I have who are having hips and knees replaced with titanium. My back is straight and strong, knees flexible and no swelling in my hands either. Gone, all gone. The aches are completely gone! And I've only lost 19 pounds too. 

I did notice that going out to eat too many times began to interrupt my sleep and make my hips ache again. How interesting!

2. I'm sleeping! I've had problems with insomnia for years. And I am sleeping! Let me write that one more time. I AM SLEEPING! I'm post menopausal, born in the middle of the last century and I AM SLEEPING! And, yes, I'm doing a happy feet dance here. I am getting an average of seven hours of sleep a night (which means I sometimes get nine, sometimes five or six) . I've only had a few nights of true sleeplessness since June. Some of those were spent up with Miniver, and some happened during the week I spent eating out with my family. Again, how interesting.

3. Now we haven't used prescribed meds for years. We've been very lucky. But it's still worth mentioning that we still DO NOT use prescription medicines. Not only that but no ibuprofen or other over the counter pain meds or allergy meds for that matter. Everyone I know in my age group takes medicine like candy. We use nothing except supplements.

4. Our grocery bills are cut in half! Oh yeah. Definitely worth noting in a world where raspberries cost $5 for a half a pint and apples are more than $3.50 a pound. We've gone from spending an easy $400 to $500 a month trying to eat all organic to just $240 a month. That's just $60 a week for two adults. Cutting out meat, processed foods and almost all dairy (I still eat yogurt and cheese.) and growing our own is making a huge difference in the process of eliminating debt. Funny how it all connects!

5. I'm back to exercising every day. It's so much easier to do when the excess weight is disappearing and my joints no longer ache. My lovely Miniver is gone and I have two young dogs to exercise. I love walking the hills and valleys with them, especially now that I can keep up with them. And, oh glory be, I'm working with my horses every day again too. I garden, walk out to plein air paint, and my size ten blue jeans are loose! Does it get any better than that?!

6. Now I can't tell you that no sugar is doing this, but my vision is improving. It's a mystery to me. I rarely use my reading glasses anymore. I have no proof at all that no sugar or processed food is contributing to this, but my vision is better. ( And now it's easier to see the wrinkles! OHHHH NOOOO! It's a Twilight Zone moment. Someone's made a terrible mistake. My hair is turning grey and my chin is melting. It's hanging out on my neck. What's up with that?! I'm a Boomer. I'm supposed to be young forever! Getting old is what my parents did, a grave mistake on their parts, that I was never going to do. Yikes!)

Keep trying. It is so worth it. Go back to square one if you have to. Stop wasting time on berating yourself. Just start over. There's no contest here.  It's all good. BEGIN with :
1. eliminating processed foods from your pantry. Give them away if you can't get yourself to throw them away. The worst thing in your kitchen? Soda pop, and that includes diet soda pop. Get rid of all of it. Pour it down the drain and recycle the cans.

2. Stop buying sugar. It's a simple as that. Stop buying it, all of it (that means all of the candy you have stashed in that bottom drawer in your desk and no more soda pop, not even when you crave it. NONE!). And, again, throw it all away. Make it a cathartic day. Pitch it and ditch it. GET RID OF THE SUGAR. 

3. Try a smoothie every day. Replace a meal with your smoothie. I like a green smoothie for the evening meal because I don't want to use my time cooking and cleaning, but any meal will do. Use at least three fruits and three vegetables in your smoothies too. No fair cheating. You can't use ice cream in a smoothie and act like you aren't really eating ice cream.

4. When you feel ready, start exercising again. Walk. Easiest thing in the world to do. Put one foot in front of the other and move forward. And if you can't walk, then swim or bike. Just get yourself moving again. 

5. One last caveat. (Geez, I ask a lot.) TURN OFF THE CABLE, TURN OFF THE TV. At first you're going to have a hard time with this. You'll probably be grumpy and think seriously about writing me hate mail. But look at it from another direction. You're going to be saving money (cable is expensive) and sooner or later you'll begin to exercise because you're bored doing nothing. You'll pick up a book and read it or take that scary, hairy step and try painting or drawing. You'll get back three to six hours, on average, a day to do whatever you want with! Time. Turning off the TV gives you more time. And who doesn't want that?

I crack myself up! I am, ever yours, Nancy who has greying hair and a whole lot of attitude, smiling at you

PS. This is dedicated to the ones I love! That means all of you, whoever stops by to visit. None of the things I propose here cost you any money. Just try it. Do it for thirty days! 

Monday, November 7, 2016

READ, READ, READ or the Voices Between the Covers of a Book

" Scout yonder's been reading' ever since she was born, and she ain't even started school yet. " Jem, Scout's brother, in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

I think I've identified myself with the fierce, brave, independent Scout, also known as Jean Louise, since I read Harper Lee's book the first year it was published in 1960. I was nine years old that year and had been able to read for as long as I could remember. My Mom told me I taught myself, put the idea of 'black lines' together with the stories I'd memorized when she read them to me before bed. When I was three, or there abouts, I read the book with her and, from there, generalized to other groups of 'black lines' in magazines, newspapers and books. I don't remember that though. I do know how excited I was every time we went to the library and how much fun it was to come home with a stack of books that I picked out. It was such a luxury, being able to spend a whole Summer under my favorite tree with my dog, Shotsi, laying across my chest with my books piled next to me and endless days ahead. 

I had bookmarks that I'd made from bits of construction paper and pictures in magazines, crayons and glue. Each book had it's own bookmark and I would read a chapter or two from one book, then switch to another story and read that one. My world was rich with Scout and Jem, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Joe from LITTLE WOMEN. I read about the LAST OF THE MOHICANS and the BOXCAR CHILDREN, NANCY DREW and the HARDY BOYS. I'd wonder from one time and place to another with abandon and no one to tell me I couldn't.

" 'd you see him, Scout? 'd you see him just standing' there? ... 'n' all of a sudden he just relaxed all over, an' it looked like that gun was a part of him ... an' he did it so quick, like ... I hafta aim for ten minutes 'fore I can hit something' .... "  Jem, just after Atticus shot Tim Johnson, the rabid dog, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

I still read all of those books from time to time. They've become dear friends who bring great comfort to me when the world seems to be rocketing out of control. I can step back in to those pages and relive their stories, 'listen' to them as they solve the problems in their eternal worlds during the Civil War, The Great Depression or World War II. If they could live through what must have felt like their end times then I can do that now, depending on what my 'now' is. 

When Martin Luther King was assassinated I read HUCKLEBERRY FINN. His epic journey down a river with escaped slave, Jim, was a story about a boy coming of age and realizing that everyone, black or white, rich or poor, had a story and a life worth living.

The NANCY DREW MYSTERIES taught me to be a creative problem solver, to do my research and to observe my world before forming my opinions. Even more important that set of stories showed me how to look behind the story, to see under the reflective surface that might not be what I thought it was.

Books, new story lines and old, are still my solace. And every year that I've read one of the classics I've found something new to learn, another character to identify with. Some of the recent novels are excellent reads to and nearly every author has an opinion or idea worth listening to. (I do wish the self published authors would use an editor though. Bad grammar, unless it's part of a character's language, and poor sentence and paragraph structure usually drives me away before the author has a chance to give me his 'world'. Guess I've become picky with age.)

" took an eight year old child to bring 'em to their senses, didn't it?" said Atticus. "That proves something - that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they're still human. Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children ... you children made Walter Cunningham stand in my shoes for a minute. That was enough. " , Atticus the morning after the mob comes to the jail, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

I suppose, if I were a teacher, I would try to get my students to put down their smart phones and disconnect from the internet for a while. I'd give them a list of books to choose from, such as A WRINKLE IN TIME, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, JANE AUSTIN, LITTLE WOMEN, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, DUNE, or any of a thousand others. I'd ask them to read the book, spend a semester exploring the story line and characters, the author's life and what he or she had to say. And then I would ask for an essay and presentation on how they've related that book to whatever set of issues are relevant to them. 

I wish I could get people to slow down, take a breath and try on another's boots for a while. Turn off the TV and read, think, rest and let your inner voice take you on your own journey. Maybe we should take a page from our four legged friends lives and just let be. Breath. It's all good. And maybe we should listen to the inner voices of people from another age too. It would give us all a new perspective on the same old issues.

" Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. " Scout, as she remembered Boo Radley after Jem's arm is broken, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

The 'models' in my pictures are Apple, my two year old Golden / English Setter and Scout, my Heinz 57 variety, all of 4 1/2 months old. We spend our evenings on a corner of the sofa, in my favorite place where it sags just right. One of them or the other is in my lap, the other snugged up close or laying across my feet. My pile of books is there on the end table with bits of colored paper bookmarks and a notebook to write down my favorite quotes. I've been reading, reading, reading this past year while I search out my own answers to the dilemmas in my life, small and large. 

The voices are all there, talking in their own accents and limited to their eternal worlds, living between the covers of a book. 

I am, ever yours, Nancy, reading glasses on the end of my nose, smiling at you...

Saturday, November 5, 2016

HOPE AND THE AMERICAN DREAM, or Using Your Voice and the Privilege of Living Here

I'm writing about hope here. This past year has been a horrible mish mash of corruption in American politics. The hardest part of having your eyes opened, after walking in the dark, is adjusting to the light. It hurts. And, in this case, it's taken me outside of my comfort zone, way outside. But that's OK. I learn when I'm there, in that place where I have to pay attention and do my research, collate what I find and make a decision.

I'm an Independent voter. I always have been. I don't, as a general rule, belong to any organizations. I've never identified myself based on other's expectations of who they think I am. I observe, taking in to account my surroundings, the people around me and how they interact with each other. I'm one of those people who stands back quietly and waits before I step up. I like to know where the exits are, so to speak.

In the past I've voted Republican, Democratic, and write in. Sometimes I vote more to one side than the other because I see an imbalance. A government that goes in only one direction is dangerous. 

I've been waiting for someone with true clout to step forward and make an important statement, one worth listening to. I am someone's Mom, someone's Wife, an Artist and Storyteller. I'm a daughter and sister, an aunt and Grandmother. In short, I am ordinary. I do not have the draw to get people's attention. But Dr. Pieczinek, MD and Phd does. 

I do NOT like either candidate in this election. They're both terrible people focused on one thing : themselves and power. ABSOLUTE power corrupts  absolutely. HRC and her husband are brilliant psychopaths (in my opinion) who are very good at manipulation of the media and the people who are easily hypnotized and led. They are liars, thieves and disconnected from their constituency. They could care less about American Citizens much less the USA, except as a method to attain yet more power. On a scale of one to ten, ten being highly dangerous, I put them at fifteen. 

Trump is no better. If HRC has been bought by the corporate mind, he is the corporate mind. He knows nothing about how the different sections of our government works, nothing about the Constitution and doesn't mind letting people know that. He has no viable plans to make a change much less a positive change. He still plays his role out like it's all publicity for his next reality TV show. On a scale of one to ten I put him at fifteen also. 

I hope people are paying attention to the other candidates up for office in their states. And I am holding out yet more hope, HOPE being the operative word here, that people will VOTE. Please, your voice is very important. Your vote is a powerful tool when combined with millions of other votes.

I'm not voting for either HRC or Trump. I will vote for either Sanders or Stein. Sanders insists he has dropped out (and what a shame! He was one of the few who may have been able to turn the tide of sludge washing over us) so it will be Stein for me. 

Please, take time to watch the video I've posted twice. It's that important to me and IMPORTANT FOR YOU too. It's just four minutes of your time. He makes his statement clearly. 

Make your own observations, form your own opinions and VOTE. 

I am, ever yours, Nancy, a believer in honest dreams and HOPE, smiling at you!

Friday, September 30, 2016

AN INDEPENDENT DEFINITION OF PROSPERITY or how I skinned my elbows ... again

Well, here I am without a farthing to my name and it's October, my all time favorite month (or it is tomorrow...wishful thinking!). I spent the morning outside in the fields with horses and a sketch book, trying to improve my drafting skills. It's time to get back to the fine art of being an artist. For some reason I let that fall out of my days this past year. 

I've been doing some research on illustrating to see what kind of additional income I can generate. I have the skill set for it. I haven't done it for several years. And if I can use my own stories then the possible income generated would increase, depending on the success of the book. It isn't huge but it would be enough to make a difference in our comfort levels and, perhaps, would allow me to release some debt and buy a second hand trailer for the horses.

In the meantime I have to go through all of the practice that comes before the actual finished product. I've been experimenting with various papers, water colors, pastels and pens. The cool thing is that I can generate the images and then tweak them with photoshop if I want to. Even better there are programs I can use on line to generate the images. I kind of think I want to paint by hand though. I would miss the process of making my own mess and discovering happy mistakes that always occur when I paint and draw.

That isn't what this post is really about though. It's about prosperity, or my definition of that word. The dictionary defines it as :

  1. the state of being prosperous.
    "a long period of prosperity"

    synonyms:success, profitability, affluencewealthopulenceluxury, the good life, milk and honey, (good) fortune, easeplentycomfortsecuritywell-being
    "she deserves all the prosperity she now enjoys"

Being the stubborn independent that I am, my definition is different. I grew up with periods of poverty and wealth in my childhood. I was happiest when we were poor. Those were years of such freedom. I made extra money babysitting, did well in school (because school was something I could control) and, after chores, I was entirely free to do what I wanted. We lived in rural Wisconsin so I sometimes spent entire days by myself in the woods, wandering. I would take an old beat up, green canvas girl scout back pack stuffed with pencils and paper, a sandwich and an apple, cookies if I was lucky and a book to read.

No one checked up on me. I would turn for home when the afternoon sun was at a certain angle and would make it back by dusk. I'd sometimes came home with mosquito bites or ticks, dirty or smelling like the lake because there were always lakes and ponds to swim in. I loved being by myself. I still do.

I suppose there were dangers but I was a girl. It never occurred to me to be afraid. I loved that time in my life. I had friends because I liked to make people laugh but I never sought them out. I was happy on my own, a prickly independent even then . 

My definition of prosperity was formed by my childhood. 'Things' were nice to have but they didn't make me happy. A good book, some paper and something to draw or paint with, the horses across the road who loved the extra attention and my dog who went with me everywhere, filled my days. I had too many freckles because I never wore the hat my Mom gave me to protect my skin. I wore my hair in a pony tail or a braid so I wouldn't have to mess with it. My elbows were constantly scabby because I was forever falling down and, most of the time, my knees matched my elbows.

Over the years, especially in my twenties and thirties, I thought I wanted things. Mostly I wanted them for my children ; toys and clothes, fancy vacations and all the books they could ever want to read. And I was happy in those years too. But it wasn't things that made me happy. It was being with my family. 

And, later, it wasn't loosing those things that made me sad. It was having an empty house. I had to rediscover and redefine what 'prosperity' was for me.

I see all kinds of programs on various social media sites that teach us how to find our way to wealth and prosperity. They have a certain kind of merit. Usually there are some ideas about how to stay focused and inspired, how to believe in yourself and how to balance your time to reach your goals. Those are all skills worth having. We do need money, unfortunately, to get along in this world. I have indulged in some of those courses and learned a few things, but nothing to merit the costs. 

I think I've been searching for what I already have. Confusing thing to say, I know. But not too surprisingly I've discovered that everything I really need is right here, inside me. I have a family who loves me and they are all successfully launched in to lives that are a thousand times better than I could have wished for them. I am married to my best friend who still surprises me, challenges me and makes me laugh. And I am still that girl who loved being by herself in the woods.

So all I really have to do now is find a way to translate what I have around me in to a story line that I can illustrate for children. The idea of the circles in my life still draw me to them but now it's the stories that are the makeup of those circles that I want to define with color and that inner landscape I've carried all these years. 

It's my favorite time of year and the woods draw me to them again along with horses in the fields, a silly yellow dog by my side and that place inside me that has been waiting for me to catch up all of these years later. I'm still who I've always been and it isn't the things that define me. It's the story I have to tell and the circles that need completing. 

Time to get back at the fine art of living and discovering...

I am, ever yours, Nancy, out the door with a beat up green pack, something to draw with and an Apple to keep me company, smiling!

PS. And horses...always horses. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A BEGINNING AND AN ENDING, and it's all good...

A friend of mine is leaving the world. She's been sick for a long time and has fought the good fight. We've known each other for thirty years or more. Her son and my son were best 'get in to troubles together' skate boarding buddies. I've known it was coming for a while now. And I couldn't stop it. 

I spent the evening outside in the moonlight with my herd and my dog. They always ground me. And they remind me that there are natural cycles we all are a part of. But I admit that I cried too. I'm kind of greedy that way. I don't care for endings. I've always been a 'beginning and middle' kind of person. I've had to teach myself to accept the endings and to see them as a completion of the circle.

We spent a lot of time together over the years laughing, crying, being frustrated with each other and bickering the way old friends do. We worried about our sons together and laughed at some of the things they did, although we never let them know that.

I was her son's Mama2. He's grown in to a man with his own children and lovely wife, an exciting job where he sees the world from the top of giant buildings. He helped me, years ago, when I was struggling with a business I couldn't manage. He came in to help on some of the weekends without accepting money. He was there as one of my sons. He helped to keep me grounded and focused when I was so tired and frightened I could barely function.

And she has been my friend for all these years. She tried to teach me how to use a sewing machine, much to both of our chagrins. Being patient with fabric and threads is not my talent. But it was hers and I loved her for it.

Favorite memory : After we lost our gallery and home, we moved out to where we live now. It's a wonderful, funky place with crooked doors and windows and rolling hills and woods around us. The whole center of the house was once a barn so the floor plan is a bit eccentric. 

She came to see me, I think to check and make sure we were OK. We were sitting in the kitchen having tea and talking about girlfriend things when she looked up, jumped and nearly fell out of her chair. I had forgotten that another friend had given me a joke gift of a huge, full feathered and very life like rooster. I'd set it up on a ledge in the kitchen to roost, so to speak. She had no idea it was there.

We both laughed until we were bent over with it. God, that was a good day! Laughter has carried me through all of the hard patches that life always gives to us. That day was a good place to begin the healing. And the rooster is still sitting up there right where I put him. He's become a fixture here and I always laugh when I see him now.

I've decided to say goodbye by living larger. I'll do my best not to take anything for granted. And I'll try not to whine about the challenges but, instead, to see them as a place to change and grow from. I'm going to paint brighter, ride further and dig deeper. And next year I'm planting thousands of wild flowers for her too. I always do that when someone is born and someone else dies. I'll buy a pound of seeds and drive around doing guerrilla seeding, throwing seeds in to the wind from the truck and singing to old Beatle's albums. 

She has been a true force in my life, filling the room and shifting the walls when she is around. Just because she leaves her body doesn't mean she won't be doing more of the same. This year is going to be a good year and so will next year and the year after. In fact it's all good.

Tomorrow I will go say my good byes. And tonight I will sit quietly and watch the stars and remember. It's been a wonderful ride together. And I have no doubt she is going to rock it when she gets to her Heaven.

I love you friend. May the road rise up to greet you and the sun be always at your back. I'll see you somewhere down the line. It's good. It's all good.

I am, ever yours, Nancy, smiling and remembering

Saturday, August 27, 2016


We finished our book together. " I willed myself to stay awake, but the rain was so soft and the room was so warm and his voice was so deep and his knee was so snug that I slept. " Scout, last page of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Mrs. Miniver died in my arms, held up close to my chest. She ended her life quietly, without pain and looking in to my eyes with that same, clear trust that she always gave to me. I'd told her it would be OK, that I would be there with her all the way. John and I spent the afternoon telling her Miniver Stories, letting her know about who might be there to see her through to the next place. 

She wasn't interested in any of that. It was just us humans comforting ourselves. She had no fear. She was ready, quiet, calm, waiting and watching my face. As long as I was there, she was fine. I was the human she had chosen, and not the other way around. She loved that part of our time together. It was always her choosing and not humans making it happen to her. 

It isn't too hard to understand that when the bond goes in two directions and both of us treat the other with respect and kindness, love and devotion without expectations, neither of us wants to walk on without the other. She was always with me, always.

Five years ago, just weeks after my sweet glossy dog, Gypsy had died, I had a dream. In the dream Gypsy came to me, jumped up on the bed, and laid down where she always had before and told me that there was someone waiting for me. All I had to do was go find her. When I woke up the pillow was warm where she had laid next to me in the dream.

That morning, I did my chores and drove in to the animal shelter in Lawrence (Kansas). It was a busy Saturday morning in May, the weather was cool and people were there looking for puppies and kittens. That wasn't necessarily what I was doing. I told the tired looking young woman  that I was there, looking for my next dog. I told her we lived out on a nature preserve. " There are predators so it can't be a small dog. I need one large enough to fend off a coyote or owl."

We spent all day looking. I met nervous dogs, depressed dogs, frightened dogs, busy dogs. I looked at puppies and old dogs, big dogs and small dogs. They were all wonderful, even the ones who were a bit aggressive because they were frightened. I walked dogs, rubbed tummies, scratched behind ears but it still wasn't 'my' dog. And then we came around the last corner to walk down the aisle where the really big dogs were. She told me some of them hadn't been out for a walk in weeks because the volunteers and even the staff were frightened by them, so I might not find who I wanted today. I wanted to look anyway.

And there, in the middle of the last aisle in a room filled with the cacophony of dogs trying to get our attention, was a huge, red, Saint Bernard mix. She was laying at the back of her kennel quietly, no barking. She got up with great dignity and walked to the front of the kennel, sat down next to the door and looked me straight in the eye. No fuss, just a direct inquiry. " Are we going for a walk?"

The girl told me she hadn't been out for the seven weeks she had been there except for the Vet and then with a muzzle on. She never barked. She frightened nearly everyone there. I got down next to her and let her smell my hand. I wasn't listening to the girl at all. I was entranced! " Seven weeks is much too long. Let's go for a walk, shall we?" The young volunteer told me she was supposed to get her out, but she was afraid. She would have to go get a staff member. I didn't hear her when she left.

I opened the door, took the leash down from another kennel. Miniver didn't even have her own leash. And off we went. " Ma'am. Ma'am! You can't do that. She doesn't have her muzzle on. MA'AM!" I never heard him. Miniver and I were out the door and heading for the biggest yard. No one was using it and we were going in for some play time.

Miniver's tail was wagging and she was looking at me with that unadulterated, blazing, bright open smile. " I knew you would come!" We were in our own space by then. Even the young guy with the muzzle hanging from his hand could see that. He was wise enough in the way of dogs and the people they choose to let us be. All we had to do was pass the last test. And then it happened. Instead of running away from me Miniver leaned back against my leg and sat on my foot. All of my dogs have done that. They all choose me by sitting on my foot. Happens every single time, almost like they get coaching from someone. " If she's the one you want all you have to do is lean against her leg and sit on her foot. " And she did it. Miniver sat on my foot and never left me again. I'd found my dog, the one who was waiting for me.

We called her the Water Diva. She was very fussy about her water bowl. If she saw someone, even Apple, drink from it before she did she would stand there and wait, look at me over her shoulder, then very pointedly look at the bowl. " I need a clean bowl and fresh, clear, cold water. Thank you very much!" And that was that. She trained me and John very quickly to keep the water bowls in the house (we have several so no one ever goes without water) clean. It was the same outside too. I keep a bucket my Grandad would have called the Fire Bucket full of water. It's always outside the paddock and within easy reach of either the barn or shed. It's for emergencies but in Miniver's mind it was hers. It was always sparkling clean and full of fresh water. Her standards were very high.

She didn't bark much. When she did it was full throated, a huge boom that would echo across our little valley. She had a job, protect Nancy, protect the herd, protect John and in that order too. If she barked, we paid attention. Apple is a vocal dog, loves to talk all day long. But Miniver was sparing in her barks and growls. She was careful to preserve them and use them only when needed. No one that she barked at ever came down the drive very far and I never invited them to either. She was very discerning and I always appreciated her work ethic. She did her job very well indeed.

Favorite Miniver story, or one of many anyway:   A car load of religious people came up the drive. I can always tell who they are. They come in a group dressed in suits and dresses. The men are always officious and the women look like they're eating lemons. They have bibles and pamphlets tucked under their arms and a determined look on their collective faces. I'd always tried to be polite but polite never works. It becomes an invitation. I do not like being proselytized to or patronized. Not my cup of tea.

Miniver stepped outside with me, stood in front of me with her body cross wise to mine, and gave them 'the look'. It was direct and clear. "Stop. Leave." But, fools that they were, they came ahead. She took exactly three steps away from me, took a deep breath and out of her mouth came this enormous BARK! It echoed and rolled across the valley. I've never seen four people pile back in to a car so fast. It was like one of those games we used to play as teenagers, when you all throw your doors open and run around the car and change places at the stop light. Only these people were knocking each other out of the way to get behind the doors. So much for their religious ideals of charity and putting others before yourself.

And again they drove ahead towards me. They weren't very smart. Miniver walked up to the driver's side, put her head in the open window (yes, she was that big) and let out three more huge booming barks. She was just inches from the driver's arm, which he moved along with his body, right over the lady in the seat next to him. What a wimp! 

The teenager in the back came over the seat in record time and gravel flew as he turned that big, old, ugly Chevy around and left marks down the drive, heading for the road. And that was the last we saw of any religious people ever again. My response? I got down on the ground next to Miniver, threw my arms around her and told her what a wonderful guardian she was. I scratched behind her ears, rubbed down her back and sat on the ground next to my big, wonderful girl. She always had excellent taste in people!

The last weeks of her life she was tired. It was a massive effort on her part to get up. I'd bought a sling to hep lift her and had to teach myself how to leverage her up. She would walk a few steps and then sit or lay down. And if the heat was too bad, sometimes she would simply fall over. Getting all of my chores done was increasingly difficult. She would panic if I wasn't where she could see me and I was loath to leave her. It was my turn to be her caretaker. She'd even lost that booming bark. It was nothing but a loud, expressive snort of air now.

I knew she would tell me when it was time. And she did. It was one of the hardest calls I've ever had to make. I think I probably did more crying on the day I called the Vet's office to make an appointment for a farm call, than I did later. But she had made it very clear to both of us. For the first time John 'heard' her voice. She walked over to the place he had prepared for her, looked at him and said, " I'm tired John. I'm not afraid. " And she told me that morning too, by walking, just a few steps at a time, to the place where she would lay in the ground and looking at me with that clear gaze of hers. She was ready.

Time takes on a strange, fluid quality when the final days are here. Years ago I had told John that I was sorry I'd never had to take care of my Mom or my Grandmothers for a long period. There's something about that process that deepens your strength and inner resolve to live, really live. And it teaches you the value of compassion and love in simple, direct terms. Miniver weighed 180 pounds at the end of her life. She was bigger than me by almost forty pounds, weighed more than John. She was so big that she could stand next to the table with her head resting on it without reaching. She gave me the gift of caring without expecting anything in return. Except she always gave more to me than I did to her. 

At the end, while I read to her from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and cried, she spent her time in my lap comforting me. I'd been bringing her sparkling clean water bowl and food, to her,  for weeks. She could still get up but only by leveraging herself against a wall. Her back legs had sore places where she had rubbed so hard to get herself up so I wouldn't have to. I kept her clean and doctored the sore places. I don't think she could feel them. Her spine was decaying. She walked because the front of her body remembered how to. She would swing herself from one side to the other. " I got this Miss Nancy. Don't you worry. I got this. " She never complained.

We spent our last hours outside laughing about all of the funny things that had happened over the five years we had her. We remembered the raccoon she had treed and then decided to guard because that was her nature. That old raccoon laid on a branch, legs dangling to either side, just above Miniver, and dropped acorns on her head. She watched the raccoon. He watched her. And then some kind of signal passed between them and she got up, stepped back and the raccoon came down the tree. She escorted him to the edge of the woods and off he waddled. Job done. 

She and Lucky, my Alpha horse, had a friendship too. They would touch noses every morning at the gate. " Morning Mrs. M. " and " Morning Big Luck. " It was like two blue collar workers passing while shifts began and ended at the same time. She would pass me off to Lucky and then settle in the shade or go check out the best parts of the compost piles. 

That strange liquid feeling was there all that last day. She had her favorite for breakfast; stinky, greasy tuna fish. She got to have the whole can to herself. And the cookies were unlimited that day, although she mostly just piled them up and looked at them, licking them occasionally. Apple was with her, laying with her head draped over Miniver. The kittens slept between her front paws while I did short spats of chores and tried not to look at the clock. 

When the Vet arrived he was, thankfully, was very patient. We did our last walk together to her place. I sat on the ground and she laid down, putting her head in to my lap the way she always did. When she died, she was looking right at me with that crystal clear gaze. I felt her go. I knew she was gone from her body before the Vet had checked. I sat there and held her for almost an hour. It was so hard to let her go. 

I had her in my life for only five years. She aged quite rapidly although she was only six years old at the end of her life. It was too soon. Her face was grey and her body stiff and unwieldy. She was incontinent and exhausted. It was time. And I felt her go. Just like that she was out of her broken body. And, as usual, she gave me more than I could give to her. At the end she told me she loved me and would see me again. It's OK. It's all OK.

It's too quiet here today. Her massive, dignified presence is gone, leaving a hole in our home. Apple started the night in the bed between us, snugged up close. She hadn't done that for months. She always slept next to Miniver. 

This morning I found Apple laying on one of Miniver's power spots, the one on the mantle in front of the fireplace. She had piled up pillows, shoes and some of the uneaten cookies and was laying draped across them, whimpering. 

We kept Apple inside while the Vet was here but John let her out after Miniver's death and the Vet had left. She knew what had happened. She carefully smelled the place on Miniver's leg where the Vet had used the 'kiss of death'. And she smelled Miniver's face, her nose, her ears and even tried to move her with her paws. Apple licked my tears while I sat crying and holding Miniver and then she sat next to me on the ground, her head draped over Miniver for the last time. 

There's something cathartic about the process of laying someone you love in the ground, doing all of the work yourself. John had already dug the hole, had it prepared for weeks, and then carefully covered it with boards and a tarp. She was a big girl and the hole needed to be deep enough and wide enough to fit her stature. 

We carefully placed her in the ground on a bed of soft, clean hay. We all said our last good bye and then we covered her with the earth. It was hot and the sky was quiet, full of drifting thunderheads, massive and white. Miniver was going out in a blaze of glory while we took care of the last things that needed to be done. It was hard, sweaty, dirty work and we were all glad for it. It was a good time to meditate and feel that passing of time. 

Somewhere, in a place we aren't allowed to know until it's our turn to go, is a big, beautiful, leggy, red-haired dog with a massive booming bark, playing with my other dogs and cats, my ancient first horse Spirit. They're out there, rolling on lovely, stinky scents and running under deep blue skies, waiting.

Miniver's circle is complete. It was perfect and I was a part of it. How lucky am I?! 

I am, ever yours, Miss Nancy, bereft and complete. How lucky am I...