Meandering Thoughts

Meandering Thoughts

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once In A Blue Moon

It is December 31st, 2009, New Years Eve and the night of the Blue Moon.  A Blue Moon is not really the color of the moon, it means this is the second full moon in the same month.  It happens only once in a blue moon.  The last time it happened on New Years Eve was nineteen years ago.  The last blue moon we had was in 2007.

I've heard the saying "once in a blue moon" all my life and I suppose I didn't really understand until my adult life what it means.  So I was thinking about things that happen in my life, things that only happen "once in a blue moon".  

Once in a blue moon.........
     my husband may bring home flowers for me.

     I might pull weeds in the flower beds.

     I might step foot inside a mall.

     I might worry about what someone thinks about the crazy gourd lady.

     I think it might be time to clean a closet.

     I might get the Christmas things down before the end of January.

     I might remember some one's birthday before it has passed.

     I might listen to something other than Native American Flute music.

     I might go to bed before midnight.

     I might consider the possibility that I don't know everything.  (my husband would appreciate this one)

     I might start supper before my husband is hungry.

I'm sure there are a million other possibilities for my list, but I might actually get off the computer and head to the studio before 10 AM today.  That too would be a "once in a blue moon" thing! 


Monday, December 28, 2009

Winter in Ohio

Winter in Ohio usually means cold and wet weather.  Which only means rain or snow conditions.  I remember when we raised hogs, this was during the first 25 years of marriage.  It seemed always to be muddy, which means rain.  Being in a hog lot in the mud was sure to mean boot sucking mud!  More than once a boot would come off and you'd have to put your stocking foot in the mud to pull the boot out.  By then they other booted foot was well planted and the struggle was on.  If it froze in that same hog lot walking was even more dangerous.  The craters left behind from frozen hog prints were ankle spraining events.  And don't try to move quickly, you'd surely fall and hurt yourself. 

It was almost as bad in the horse lot as the hog pens.  Horses tend not to leave the barn much in the winter.  They need a good wind break and usually they hang out where the hay and water are.  They churn the earth up into a knee deep, mud sucking experience.  They seem to have as much trouble walking on their frozen hoof prints as we do.  I really worried for them when rain froze on the ground turning horse lots, side walks and driveways into ice skating rinks.  Watching horses legs going every which way is a very frightening thing!  Going out to feed the critters was a test in balance and agility.  As we age, this becomes less and less fun. 

One of the biggest problems I remember having in the winter is when the power would go off.  Neighbors would call neighbors to see if it was a regional problem or something that happened to just them.  Then things got harder.  If it were out for long periods, like the Blizzard of 1978, we were without power for over a week.  Roads were impassable, living in the country doesn't make you a priority.  We were breaking ice in water tanks to keep horses watered, they would normally have a water heater keeping water thawed.  We were lucky enough to have a hand pump outside our house to pump water.  To carry 5 gallon buckets of water to hogs morning, noon and night was not easy.  Animals always came first, then we worried about our own needs.

Back in the 70's we were still pretty self sufficient.  We had two freezers and always had our own meat and  veggies stored away.  Keeping our pipes from freezing and keeping warm were other matters to consider.  We then had a wood stove, wood was stacked at the back door and we managed to stay warm. Of course wearing more layers of clothing helped.  During that time we were going through a recession and were working hard to conserve energy.  Heavy quilted window dressings were not uncommon.  We learned to be creative with less, I see us needing to do that again in 2009.  Do my children remember how to survive with no power?  Do they have a freezer of food from their gardens?  My son and his wife only heat with wood.  Most winters their girls are wearing t-shirts and shorts in the house it is so warm!

Generators are the answer to today's power outages, but you need gasoline to run them.  Do we have some on hand, just in case of a power outage?  Last year when Hurricane Ike blew through Ohio from Florida, even the gas stations were closed because they had no power.   Many people had to chain saw the trees off the road to even get to town.  I remember driving through Xenia during this power outage.  It looked strangely like a ghost town.  The other comment I remember Emily saying, she lives in a town, people came out of their houses.  They looked dazed and didn't seem to know what to do with themselves without a TV to watch.  She said she saw people she'd never seen on her street before.  How sad is that?     

Winter in Ohio can always be a challenge.  It can be fun too!  I remember as a kid when it snowed.  My Dad was very inventive!  He made a huge "bobsled" that at least 6 kids could straddle and ride, then he'd pull us up and down our long lane with the jeep.  We also got pulled by the jeep with our little sleds hooked behind.  Roads weren't plowed clean in those days!  It was so much fun! Today, my son has a really big hillside next to their house.  The girls will bundle up in snow clothes, scarves and gloves, boots and goggles for their eyes.  They head for the hill with their sleds, not before my son comes down to get the four wheeler.  The girls slide down the hill and then attach a rope to the four wheeler and get pulled to the top again.  It is the most fun!  I remember having to get off at the bottom of the hill and pulling my own sled back to the top!  I'm sure the girls get colder faster, we kept warm by walking back up that hill!

So here I sit this snowy and cold day in 2009 just before the New Year.  I am reminded how quickly December has passed and that in only a couple months and I'll be looking for signs of spring again!!!

(Pictures are of my brother, Brian and I, in 1952.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Meanderings.....

Christmas Eve is here in 2009, it is cold today in Ohio and there is snow on the ground.  That is suppose to change, warmer temps and maybe some sprinkles of rain.  As I sit at the computer writing this, I am also making a list of things yet to do.  I am also remembering what it was like for me as a child, waiting anxiously for Christmas to come. 

Christmas at home was exciting.  My Mother always decorated, I remember posing for a picture with my brother and sister for our Christmas picture.  I must say we looked pretty dorky.  Some of the problem is the way they took pictures then.  With a camera that required film.  I wonder if my grandchildren even know about film cameras?  The pictures then were just a couple shots with fingers crossed they turn out well.  Often they did not.  Today we can look at the digital camera picture, if it isn't good enough, shoot some more and then erase the ones you didn't like.  I wonder why I waited so long to get my first digital camera.  Change is hard.

I also remember waking up early and checking out the tree, to see if Santa had really come!  We weren't allowed to open any gifts until my Dad came home from milking the cows and feeding the farm animals.  Sometimes I was sure he took his good ole time, just to keep us waiting.  For Christmas when I was a kid we got sleds and things to build with, puzzles, games and of course I always got a doll.  The last one I remember getting was a "bride doll", she stood about 28" tall and had this beautiful dress and veil.  I still have her, she is still in her wedding dress, although the veil is long lost and so are her heels.  How do you play with a bride doll?  I know I ask for her, but now I wonder why?

We would open our gifts at home and then have to rush to my Grandmothers house before noon.  My Grandmother had two trees, one was a fresh cut pine and the one in the front window was a foil tree with a few glass balls and a light that shined on it with a disk of changing colors.  The tree revolved and so did the colors.  Today my Grandmothers foil tree would be in style again.  As we got to be teenagers, we always went up to help my Grandmother decorate.  Everything went the same place it had been for years previous.

My Grandmother, Grandfather and Uncle Billy lived in Springfield, Ohio on Maiden Lane.  I still find myself driving past her house today, just to see it and remember.  My Grandmother was quite a character, she was short in stature, she had dark red hair and she smoked Lucky Strikes.  They were big fans of the Cincinnati Reds and often went to games.  She was a seamstress and made little girls smocked dresses, her business was called Miller Frocks.  She would got to the homes of her clients, measure little girls, discuss the fabrics and features of the dress ordered.  I remember the dresses were beautifully hand smocked by my Grandmother, she taught me how to smock too.  The dresses always had deep hems and could be let down as the child grew.  She made her living sewing for others.  Sorry for the meandering...... back to Christmas.

Christmas dinner at my Grandmothers was the best!  I loved her yeast rolls and learned to make them the way she did as a young married wife.  We always had ham, mashed potatoes and the best gravy!  She was an amazing pie baker too, she made butterscotch pie and fruit pies too.  I loved eating at my Grandma Rankin's house!

A tradition we started when our children were very young, I remember Emily was just about a year old.  Christmas Eve was a difficult time to amuse the little ones.  So we decided to invite our neighbors over for the evening.  They had two children about the same ages as our kids.  Our plan was distract the children on Christmas eve and to visit with friends.  It worked and every year since we get together on Christmas Eve with these same friends.  We take turns hosting and sometimes the adult kids will come too.  It is just a quiet little party to celebrate Christmas Eve.  I'm hosting this year and should be in the kitchen instead of writing a blog.

Christmas day will be busy in our house too.  I have offered to be open to changing the tradition but my children aren't ready for change.  So Christmas at noon, all three of our children and their families will be coming to see what Santa has left under the tree.  I will also be fixing dinner.  We will be having ham, potatoes, gravy and veggies of all kinds.  I'm not a pie baker, but we'll have cookies and other sweets.  Ryan's wife Tere is the pie baker in the family now and she has some wonderful pies.

My tree is up and in the front bay window.  This year all my grandchildren put the ornaments on it.  The upper third of the tree is lacking decorations, none of the grandchildren are that tall yet.  Oh, I could change it, but why?  It is lovely and makes me smile knowing that they joyfully helped decorate it.

All the gifts are wrapped or bagged.  I have made cloth bags in many sizes to "wrap" gifts in.  This tradition was begun several years ago, hopefully I am saving some trees.  The cloth bags are collected at the end of the day and put in a tub for next years gifts.  I use the Christmas fabric that I bought on sale after Christmas one year. 

I realize as I get older that the gifts under the tree are less and less important for me.  It really is all about the family gathering, the excitement of the children and the love that is shared throughout the Christmas season.  I continue to think of others less fortunate and try to make my contributions all through the year.  Mostly I just want everyone to feel warm and loved.   Merry Christmas and prayers for Peace, Love and Joy throughout the coming year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Top Twelve Christmas Holiday Tips

I may add to this list when some new idea comes to mind for Holiday Tips.  I felt the need to start compiling ideas before Christmas is over and I forget what the tips were.......    I'd love your comments and suggestions for your Top Christmas Holiday Tips too!

#1.   Don't waste paper, make cloth bags in many sizes with a ribbon sewn in the seam to tie the gift off.  Then  just BAG AND TAG all your gifts.  This could be done with Christmas fabric purchased on sale after Christmas last year.............

#2.   When you get out a collection of Santa's, Snowmen and/or Angels and wonder why you have so many.  Why pack them all away after Christmas?  I suggest letting all the grand children pick something from your collection(s) and take it home with them.  The memory will go home and start new memories for your grand children.

#3.    Wrapping up collection pieces for Grand nieces and Grand nephews, start their special collections with your collections!  I wonder if my Nieces are reading my blogs? 

#4.    When you get stuff out for Christmas that you no longer use and your kids don't want, put it in a big
box and save it for the next white elephant exchange!  A big box and a pretty ribbon......  perfect gift!  I'm awaiting my invite to a white elephant exchange with great anticipation!

#5.    Of course, there is always Goodwill if you are trying to downsize stuff in your storage bins.

#6.    Artificial trees that come with lights will eventually have strands of lights that stop working.  DON'T   throw out the tree.  You'll never be able to remove the lights that came on the tree, just add more lights, no one will notice once all the ornaments are on the tree.  We don't need another artificial tree in the landfill!

#7.    Schedule an event in your house a week or two before Christmas.  You are sure to get your act together then!  Cleaning and decorating is now driven by a deadline!

#8.    If the house smells good, it also looks cleaner!   So bake some cookies or light a candle!

#9.    Just restacking the books on a shelf helps.  Warning, don't start reading them, you'll lose yourself quickly.

#10.   Host your home parties for evening, turning the tree lights and other twinkle lights on, light the candles and only dim mood lighting throughout the house.  No one will notice those little dust bunnies that escaped your cleaning!

#11.   Keep giving your spouse a "short list" of things you need help with, works much better than a "long list".  You can give them to him more often and he never catches on to the method in your maddness.

#12.   I have nearly bought the stores out of plastic tubs!  They make great storage, easy to carry, easy to stack and easy to label!  Now that I'm so organized, I can save more stuff!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Music Through Life

Today I am trying to get into the spirit of Christmas.  It is cold and snow is blowing across the landscape.  Any plants that had been protected from our late frosts are now frozen where they stand.  The horses need an extra flake of hay and I watch a fire in my stove.  Still, something is missing.....  I am just not quite in the "mood" to decorate the house. 

It's different now that our children are grown and in their own homes.  Their excitement at seeing this ornament or that one, many they made with me as little projects to keep them busy in Christmases past.  The excitement of writing to Santa and pouring over the old Sears and JCPenney toy catalogs.  I do not go out in the malls shopping and seeing the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Don't get me wrong, been there, done that and it just isn't what I want to do now.   Richard isn't interested and never has been interested in tree decorations.  Getting the tree downstairs is his contribution.  I keep the rest of the boxes in a closet close to the living room.  I have learned they can't be handy enough, because I no sooner get it put away and it is time to get it all out again.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I've been "thinking" about Christmas.  I love shopping for gifts throughout the year, I certainly am exposed to many wonderful artists and beautiful work.  Finding just the right gift is always on my mind.  I also love making gifts and you can't save that until the last minute.

Still not in the mood............  Then I remember what is missing!  Music, we always played Christmas music when decorating the house.  Not necessarily the traditional music, our favorite music came from the Alabama Christmas CD.  Oh, we so loved listening to Alabama when our kids were growing up.  I remember horse camping trips all through the eighties, nothing played in the tape deck but Alabama music!

Then I get to remembering about the music........   now this why I call my blog "Meandering Thoughts"!  When I first remember actually listening to a song on the radio, because we always had a radio on in the house when I was a kid growing up.  That first song was "Cindy oh, Cindy" was by Eddie Fisher.  I thought that was written just for me!  Had to have been in the late 50's.  After that I remember "listening" to music.

In the sixties I remember all the music from that time period.  I remember listening through my little transistor radio, which I got for Christmas!  Oh, that was such a good time for music.  I love Elvis, Beach Boys, The Four Seasons, Bobby Vinton, Beatles, oh, I could go on forever.  I think you never forget the songs from your teens.  Even today some of those lyrics will come to me if I happen to hear a song from then.

In the seventies, we were first married.  For some reason we began to listen to Country/Western music.  Maybe because we were not into the Disco music, to this day I just don't get disco music.  Oh, I loved hearing the music of Charlie Daniels Band, Don Williams, and in the late seventies Alabama came on the scene.  I would love for the old style country music to come back, I feel the country music today is the old rockers that didn't make it in rock are now playing country.  To me is isn't country, there is too much "band" in the music, I want to hear the stories again in the music.  Not just a couple lines repeated over and over with loud background music blaring.  You probably think I am an old fuddy duddy.......  Really, if you could have just heard the Country/western music in the early times!

The eighties were the only time I can't identify a particular sound that we heard then.  This would be the music my children would identify in their memory bank.  I should ask them what was popular then......  I do know that Alabama was still going strong and late eighties Garth Brooks, George Strait, Vince Gill and Clint Black started making a musical impact.  I remember them very clearly and enjoyed their sounds very much.
One of my favorites from that time period is John Berry, he was over shadowed by the others I've named to really make it big.  He is still out there and Richard and I love catching one of his concerts now and again.  He has a beautiful voice and he tells the stories in his songs.  I love that!

So the nineties were all about Country music.  We would sometimes turn the radio onto a Classic Rock station and be exposed to other music.  It is fun hearing different music, we even love Enya, James Taylor, and up and coming artists that are now important in the musical history of it all.

Now I am caught up in a totally different kind of music.  It calls to me in a way no other music has called to me and it comes from the Native American Flute.  It has filled up a part of me that I didn't know was empty.
I am so captured by it that I now play this wonderful wooden instrument.  The people who play this music roll off my tongue as easily as all the artist's I already named.  John Two-Hawks, Jonny Lipford, Mark Holland........  I could go on and on.  Not to mention the flute-makers, the gift they have in creating the most amazing flutes, Gary Reed, Billy Crowbeak, Charles Perdue, Brad Young.........  oh, there are too many to list!  Truly, I love them all. 

And so my thoughts are totally away from Christmas...........   and this is how my life goes, I meander along on a path and then get lost on a totally different path, forgetting that Christmas is less than 15 days away.  Will I be ready?    Of course I will.  Our house will be decorated, the kitchen will smell of fresh baked sweet rolls on Christmas morning and Santa will have magically placed gifts under the tree by the time our three children and their families arrive.  I am so blessed by all the gifts in my life......... music has been part of all that history.

Monday, November 30, 2009

December is Coming

December first, tomorrow......   How did it come around so quickly.  I feel like I just put the tree and all the decorations away!  My daughter might say, "That is because you leave them up until the end of January!".
I leave them up for many reasons.  It is beautiful to have all the color and all the lights in January, the darkest winter month.  Having "Christmas" last through January allows a person to cozy up to the fire and read and be a little lazy, because it can't happen in December! 

December brings thoughts of shopping, which I don't do if I can help it!  When did I lose this desire to shop?  I used to be "Queen" of shopping, using coupons, reading ads, making lists and keeping on top of everyone's desires.  You'd never know today that I used to be like that......  I don't like the malls, I look for gifts that are unique.  Being an artist, I appreciate handcrafted items.  Being an artist, I want to make everyone something wonderful.  Being an artist, none of my friends like to shop art shows with me, they see something wonderful and I'll say, "Oh, we could sooooo make that!".  They know that they will never make it, but might actually find me "making it" in the future, so that poor artist lost a sale because of me.  Darn, I should know better, I have often heard this same comment with shoppers in my booth!  I know most will not go home and try their hand at gourd art, sure they could do it, but probably will not. 

Okay, back to December...... Christmas decorating and shopping.....     I always think the house needs a good cleaning, before the decorations go up.  These days, it is really probably the only time I really do my "spring cleaning".  I clean because it is necessary to get down those cobwebs before they get dusty and look like indoor snowflakes.  I know my kids and grand kids will come, even if I don't clean.  They won't care, they come to see Grandma and Grandpa and see if Santa left them a package under the tree.  I realized a long time ago that I am the only one who knows what didn't get done!  I hope to keep it that way!

So that brings us to shopping for the grand kids.  They have grown so fast this last year, not only in size but in things they like to do.  How do their mothers keep up with the changes?  I have decided to allow the mothers of my grandchildren to shop for me too, while they are out and about.  I give them a dollar limit on each child and they bring to me the gifts they find.  This solves many problems, no returns because it is the wrong size or age appropriate, I don't have to go shopping and it gives me more time to clean house.   That is what I tell them anyway......

I believe that the longer you are on this earth the less you need the glitz of Christmas.  I know all the lights and shopping do not make Christmas.  It is truly about being with the people you love and it is about being grateful for blessings that can't be wrapped and ribboned.  I now think of creative ways of giving, I support my charities in the name of a friend, giving things I no longer use to Goodwill and contribute to food pantries so others may eat.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cold Night in the Tipi Lodge

The tipi has been up most of the summer and it is nearly time to take it down for the winter.  I am always sad when it comes down, it means the end of campfires, drumming events, and friends sleeping inside the tipi with me.  I have always wanted to sleep in the tipi in the winter, just to see what it might have been like when the winds blow, a little snow for beauty and a fire to keep us warm and cozy inside.

I talked my good friend, Linda, to come and spend the night in the tipi.   I tried to get some others to come, but they had plans.  So Linda and I made our treak to the beautiful white tipi on the far side of the horse pasture.  We loaded up the John Deere Gator with sleeping bags, fleece, flutes, and drums.  The little wagon behind the gator holds thin air mats, more fleece, a down blanket and other important things.  We also had pine cones for fire starters, a blow torch to start the fire and a half bottle of red wine.  Note to self:  on cold nights take a thermos of hot drinks!  From reading this you might have thought we had the first half of the wine before we came to the tipi and a blow torch might not be a wise thing to give women with all the flammable items mentioned above.  We did not start on the wine until the fire was going and beds were made!

Linda and I carried into the tipi a good stack of wood so we wouldn't have to go out in the middle of the night.  We didn't think that the wine might make us go outside in the middle of the night anyway!!!!!  A little frosty outside to be mooning the moon!

I might give my wonderful husband credit for the fire, we got out to the tipi and couldn't find my blow torch.  So I called him on my cell phone and he walked out with his blow torch to light our little fire.  I have to say here and now we own our own blow torches and I seem to have misplaced mine since our last sleepover.

Linda and I happily sat around our blazing warm fire, drumming and playing flutes, talking about our warm summer sleepovers in the tipi. Those who sat before a similar fire, one who built a little wooden cross to protect himself from the three women that decided to sleep there too.  We remember playing our flutes with prayers for those who needed healing physically or spiritually.  We drummed our drums this night knowing our friend in Norway was also drumming his drum under the same sky.  We called our friend in Missouri and she too was sitting outside around a fire with her grand children, drumming.   It was a perfect night to connect with the heartbeat of Mother Earth and our far away friends. 

And then we crawled under the down blanket, wearing two pair of socks and layers of shirts and fleece.  It was then we knew it might be a little chilly around the edges.  Linda slept with her Pittsburgh Steelers hat on her head.  I just pulled the down blanket over my head and knew I'd be warm enough.  Every couple of hours Linda was putting wood on the fire.   Each time I uncovered my head my face froze.  On the night and morning of November 27-28th, 2009, we had a hard freeze.  At 8am it was a very chilly 27* F!   Burrrr 

Thanksgiving was only two days ago and I am thankful for our warm home and coffee brewing each morning.  I am grateful for a wonderful family and many great friends.  I have been so blessed.........


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trudy, A Great Horse

We owned a wonderful copper colored bay mare named, Trudy.  She came to us through a friend who liked finding good riding horses and re-selling them to people looking for a horse.  In most circles he would be known as a "horse trader", but this guy was more trustworthy.  In fact, I liked to call him "my favorite cowboy".  He also trained horses and loved mules.  He isn't training or trading these days, I do think he still rides but he is kinder to himself, doesn't mess with those unbroken horses any more.

Trudy was a grade quarter horse.  This only means she wasn't registered, believe me, registration papers do not make a good horse.  My daughters rode Trudy, she was dependable and trustworthy, important when you put kids on a horse.  This pretty little mare would do most everything ask of her.  I remember riding her with a string of sleigh bells hanging over her withers and she never bothered to shy from their ringing.  We also put a western saddle on her and used a long rope to pull a sled full of kids around a snowy horse pasture too. She was ask to do competitive trail rides, carry more than one rider and since she was the only mare, it was her job to keep the geldings in their place. She had good legs, was a good height and carried herself proudly.  If she had a flaw it was, she was prone to hoof abscesses.  These come from something small working into the bottom of her hoof and moving up, creating an infection and lameness.  It seemed every June this occurred.

We had the most amazing farrier, a female if you can imagine.  She became one of my good riding buddies and we spent a lot of time riding wooded trails like wild girls with unleashed freedom.  Elise did all my horse shoeing and could do amazing corrective work.  With Trudy, she would put a plate and shoe on her and the plate would keep all ground pressure off the sole of her foot, making her sound to ride.  Soaking that foot in salt water would draw out the infection, all this took time and sometimes we just needed to keep conditioning for an upcoming event.  Once the abscess was draining there was no longer pain.  Soaking and protecting the sole of the foot from pressure was our method of treatment.

I remember hauling Trudy to Columbus one summer day to have Elise shoe her.  When Elise finished she said, "Oh, too bad you didn't bring a saddle and bridle, we could have gone for a ride."  I spent most of my youth riding bareback and so having no saddle was not a problem.  Trudy was great at neck reining so I felt pretty sure I could ride her with just a halter and lead strap.  So we hit the wooded trails that the fox hunters use in the area.  It was one of those rides I'll never forget, running down narrow trails, the twisting and turning and carefully watching for low branches. Yahooing with my good friend Elise.  The best part was doing the jumps!  There were logs across the trail you could just skip over.  Many were trees across the trail, bigger than anything I could get my arms around.  That wonderful little mare had as much fun as I did that day.  Who needs a saddle and bridle when you have a good horse?  A memory that causes me to smile today.  We lost this mare about this time, ten years ago and I still miss her.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Had A Dream and Vision

I became a gourd artist by accident.  I went to a little show in Yellow Springs and saw gourds sitting on shelves and immediately fell in love.  My eyes took in the brown earthy color that reminds me of wood or leather, both rich and warm in color.  To touch them filled another sense, I love to touch things, these gourds were smooth and their curves were graceful and unique.  To hold them was a surprise, they are light and seem fragile.  But they are very hard and if they have a thickness at all, very hard to break! The other sense that attracted me was their smell.  Not everyone goes around smelling gourds, it is part of becoming familiar with an object.  If it smelled unpleasant, you'd probably not want to pursue art projects with them.  I also found the sound of them very wonderful, when digging through a box of little ornamental gourds, they are music to my ears.  I have made rattles to capture that sound for others to enjoy too.

I knew I had to try my hand at gourd work.  When I found some dry moldy gourds at the Ohio Gourd Show in 1998, I eagerly purchased them and came home to work on them.  First a good cleaning is necessary.  They spend several months drying and the mold on a gourd is part of the process when drying.  Not easy or fun cleaning gourds, I promise you that!  Especially if you have several big trash bags full of them, all waiting to be cleaned.  Once they are clean on the outside, then they need to be opened.  As you may know, when you start a new venture, you don't always have the proper tools.  Hard to invest money in tools if you don't know you'll like the project long term.  Opening my first gourds was primitive at best.  I finally ordered a wonderful little hand held jig-saw tool that is electric!  The best investment ever!   My other favorite tool is the dreimal tool, playing with different burrs and learning the best way to utilize this tool is entirely up to the person using the tool.  You just have to experiment.  I was happy making wonderful vessels, the mess it was creating in the house was too much.  I had to pick nice days and work outside when cutting open and cleaning the insides and carving with the dreimal tool.  Dusty and dirty work.

One day in the early spring, my wonderful husband, Richard, decided we had to do major repairs on our barn.  The rafters were sagging, the metal was leaking and the doors were hard to close.  It was decided that when we made the repairs we would make a part of the barn my workshop.  On the front of this work shop he decided to put a porch.  It was a transformation that amazed me.  My workshop was insulated, the ceiling was reinforced to allow for storage space above it and the porch was the biggest surprise!  The porch was almost as big as my work shop.  The porch measuring in at 15x40, my work shop 20x40!  WOW!  I couldn't wait for it to be finished.  We also made a mouse proof room to store gourds awaiting artistic inspiration!

You surely know that men and women have different pictures inside their heads about barn spaces.  I pictured a work table, storage for all my "crafting" stuff, and also a little wicker type table and two comfy chairs for company and coffee.  Sitting there chatting, being surrounded in all the things I love, art, gourds, books, music and friends!

Richard's picture was totally different.  He envisioned a wood working shop, so he could "build" things.  He also talked me into a garage door, which I will say now, was an excellent idea!  However, the "need" for the garage door for him was so he could pull a tractor inside (right where my comfy chairs were suppose to sit) and take a tractor apart for repairs if necessary!  Richard and I are both collectors of tools, so he also intended on putting tools inside my work shop, just for storage if nothing else.  In case some day he decided he would actually use these tools.  So today we still have a drill press, a table saw on wheels and a work bench for working on wood projects.  The saw and drill press are stuffed back in the farthest corner and covered with other boxes and stashed items that are rarely used..  Instead of wood projects on the work benches, he uses it for a loading bench. 

A tractor has NEVER crossed the thrush hold of this space!  What... have oil spots on the floor?  Not going to get my area rugs dirty.  There is no table and comfy chairs either.  There is a big pow wow drum there however.  There are chairs and stools for anyone who want to come to drum or to sit and  play flutes or work on a project with me.  The work space is now called the Wild Gourd Studio, there are gourds, paintings and cards that fill the space! There are books for reference, the music weaves it's web around the other unseen places of the studio, filling my ears with sweet songs coming from the Native American style flute.  Art is what the space is used for and I wish the space was bigger!  I have started the Massie Creek Flute Circle, we also meet in the studio.

Seven years ago I told Richard, "I think I'd like to host an Open House."  He said, "Why?  Who would come out here to buy gourds?"  We were both a little shocked at the friends and visitors that came to my first Studio Open House.  A few years into the open house's, I'd done too many shows.  I was tired and ready to stop, I told Richard that I wasn't going to have an open house that year.  He said, "What?  You can't NOT have your open house!"  And so it is a tradition to have an annual open house in my wonderful studio.  It has become a yearly party, visiting with long time friends, greeting new fans of gourd art and I even sell some gourds.......  I am the luckiest girl in the world!  As the saying goes, "build it and they will come."  I had a dream and vision..................

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just Wanted Some Pretty Feathers

If any of you know me, you know I love to watch birds.  So my fascination with feathers is not a surprise.  To be clear, I also know that most birds are protected and the only feathers that are legal are domestic bird feathers or feathers from "sporting" birds.  Most feathers I use for decorating are turkey feathers, although friends will share pheasant feathers or beautiful rooster tail feathers.  Peacock feathers are also quite wonderful to have for just filling a vase and allowing a breeze from the window or door to move them around, they are so beautiful.

A number of years ago we had a friend that owned peacocks.  I loved watching them move around the farm where they lived, fanning their tails and I was always amazed to see them roosting on top of the barn.  Seeing big birds like that on top of a roof is just unnatural for some reason.

The farmers don't look as kindly toward these feathered friends, they don't like them roosting on their parked trucks, they hate the manure that mounds up on hay or straw in the barn when they roost on the rafters.  There was always this "thing" that went on between the farmer and the peacocks.

One day my husband and our friend were on the farm with peacocks, they were repairing a fence or gate.  There was one peacock that insisted on stalking these two men.  He would come up behind them and maybe even charge them and the men were not at all comfortable with this happening.  So our friend picked up a board to shoo the bird away and the bird still came back.  After several attempts at keeping the peacock away our friend threw the board at the peacock and it made contact...............  the bird was killed instantly.  Panic from the man who killed the bird, caused him to quickly bag the bird in a trash bag (to hide the evidence) and dispose of it in his trash for pick up. 

When I heard the story, I was stunned that no feathers had been saved!  Our friend invited me to come and get the bag with the bird inside and take as many feathers as I wanted.  And so went to get the black plastic bag out of the trash.  My attempt at collecting feathers was harder than I thought, the feathers wouldn't come out easily so I decided to just put the bag with the bird inside the stock trailer for a day and then try to retrieve the feathers.  The reason I choose the stock trailer?  So nothing would be able get to the bird, we had dogs and cats, they have no qualms about dragging about or rolling in dead things.

Well, you've heard the saying, "out of site, out of mind"?  We planned on going to visit family for the weekend over the fourth of July.  You know how hot it can be during July.  We were swimming and having a great time that weekend.  I had no thoughts about something I'd forgotten to do.....

We came home and I was standing at the kitchen window doing dishes.  Richard and a neighbor were standing in the barn yard talking.  Without hearing a word they were saying, I knew exactly what they were saying by watching them.  They booth were sniffing the air and looking around, probably saying, "don't know what that smell is, don't see anything dead."  That is when the bell went off in my head!  I still had a dead peacock in a black plastic bag in the horse trailer and it has been there about 4 days!

This was a job I knew I was going to have to finish myself.  After the men left, I got out a shovel and dug a hole, then took our skid steer to the trailer to move the rotting peacock in the black plastic bag into the bucket.  It was a smell like no other!  I knew there was no way I was going to have any peacock feathers from this bird.  I don't know to this day how I managed to move this black plastic bag and take it to it's proper grave.

The horses were suspicious the rest of the summer about loading into that trailer.  They knew something awful happened in there and they wanted no part of it!  I look at peacock feathers a little differently now and really appreciated picking up ones that have been shed naturally.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

All In Our Perspective....

Back in the 90's, when we were seriously riding our horses in Endurance and Competitive Rides, I had a wonderful friend that would condition horses with me. She would also use that horse to ride endurance or competitive rides with me.  It was so much fun to have a friend to ride with, someone to talk to, someone to share exciting events of the day around that campfire after the ride.  Someone who knew exactly which tree you clobbered your knee on or how wonderful your horse was forging the river.  We were on the same trail at the same moments and our horses running through the same mud and we survived the hills, the bees, and vet checks......

In 1992 we each kept a journal of the rides, conditioning and whatever else.  We traded our journal writings for Christmas gifts to each other.  As I read her entries I wondered where and who she went riding with in the last year.  Her writings sounded nothing like the rides that I did..........   The names of the rides were the same, Lost Bridge Boogie, Hoosier 30, the Sheltowee and Ceasarcreek ride.  And yet, our stories were so different.  It was ALL IN OUR PERSPECTIVE........

I thought racing quickly through a little grove of saplings was like doing a pole bending event!   Beth thought racing quickly through the little grove of saplings was like having your knees clubbed at each bend.  I didn't know my horse was more flexible than the horse Beth was riding.  He was more like a straight board that could not bend going through those trees.  When I thought about swinging my sea sponge into water puddles as we moved quickly down the trail was fun, Beth thought it wasn't fun when her sponge got flung back under her horses tail, his tail clamped down and  he proceeded to shoot forward like he'd been shot out of a cannon.  I thought my horse was doing a great job a maneuvering the little dips in the trail, all the while behind me, Beth's horse could not dip so proceeded to jump all 50 dips in the trail!  As the lead horse and rider, we usually made it through the ground nest of bees in a log, only to stir them up for the following horse or horses.  Screaming and running was a sure sign that bees were on the trail and chasing the horses and riders!  Beth's horse usually followed my horse so closely that he would never see the log we'd just jumped until my horse had skipped over it, then suddenly he'd leap from where he was standing, you could never sleep when riding Feasty.

One of the funniest entries in Beth's journal was when she was newly riding with Trisha and I.  I would lead, Trisha would follow on Feasty, (Feasty liked it in this order.) and Beth was riding Knipper behind Feasty.  When riding in groups it was easier to communicate with hand signals so the riders behind you would know if you were slowing down, so a raised hand was the signal.  It was around the campfire that Beth questioned me about not understanding the hand signals Trisha would give her..........   I found out that Trisha would ride her horse down the trail, no hands on the reins and she would practice her cheer hand motions while trotting down the trail.  Beth following, trying to figure out what the signals would mean.

So you see, it is all in the perspective.......

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Backing a 16 Foot Stock Trailer

We live on a small farm, Richard and I raised our three wonderful children on this little farm.  We have been here for 34 years and our roots are deep.  I grew up not a half a mile away, by the way the crow flies, actually there is just a field between the two houses.  If it weren't for the woods I grew up in, we could see the house easily from where we live now.  I think about the "roots" and wonder what propelled us to live in this particular house.  This home we live in was moved from the field that is between where I grew up and where we live now.  Just now in my meandering thoughts, I will tell you, it was also the house Richards great-grandparents lived!  Wow, the roots are really deep..............

We always had critters on our farm and a small corn field.  We raised hogs for more years than I can count.  We also, of course, had a horse or two.   Twice a year our six sows would have baby pigs and the cycle continued for years.  Some years were good, with wonderful litters of healthy piggies and some were not.  Usually the years we had great growing and plentiful pigs the market price for hogs was low.  The times we had smaller litters, that didn't seem to thrive, the price was high.  Do you know today, hog market prices are not that much different than they were thirty years ago?  You can bet your bottom dollar that unless you grew your own corn, that feeding a hog costs more today!  And it certainly costs more to produce a bushel of corn to feed that hog than it did thirty years ago.   That is all I'll say about that, this isn't about the farm crisis or political agendas!

Our children always had hog projects in 4-H.  They also had lambs to show and we even fed steers a couple years.  When my children were in their young teens we started taking horse riding to the next level and competing in competitive trail riding.  When this happened it also changed our trucking needs.  As it was, when we took hogs to market, we used a cattle truck with a ramp and side rails to load the hogs.  It was always a struggle to get hogs to climb that ramp.  They had never done anything but walk on level ground, who would think they would want to climb a ramp into a truck.  Things changed when we got the stock trailer.

Richard was an Ag. teacher in the local schools and classes made it impossible for him to be home on market day.  Which meant I had to back the 16 ft. stock trailer up to the barn, plug all possible exits to keep the hogs from escaping while trying to load hogs that were around 220 lbs.  There is no real way of knowing their weight, unless you have a scales and we did not.  You just learned to have a good eye for weight of a hog.

Now I must say I took a different approach to loading hogs than my husband would.  Only because he was strong enough to "handle" them and my way of doing it is to let them all out and they would be curious enough to jump in and out of the trailer without any assistance.  Then I would slowly sort the smaller hogs back into their pen and leave the 220 lb hogs to explore the isle way and trailer.  This worked most of the time.  Every once in a while a hog that needed to be in the trailer would slip back into the pen with the smaller one and I'd have to start again.  Sometimes this process took an hour or more, amazing how easy it was if you were patient!

When we first got the 16ft. trailer and I had to haul horses, I was terrified about having to back it up into a camping spot.  I'm sure you have all heard the line, "practice, practice, practice"?  I had to learn.  Richard wasn't going to be there every time I needed to back the trailer.  I learned by trying to put the trailer in it's home parking spot one day and ended up backing and pulling forward the entire counter clockwise circle in our barnyard before I got the trailer in it's place.  I would have learned nothing if someone would have been there helping me, I had to do it to learn it!  Of course, I may have mentioned before, men who help don't share the hand signals with women.   It is impossible to interpert what their hands want you to do through a mirror, IMPOSSIBLE!

Knowing now that I can back a trailer and load market hogs, you will understand how funny the rest of this story really is.   I took a load of hogs to Springfield stockyards, I'd never done more than ride along in the past and had no idea of the protocol to unload.  I pulled my rig into they yard with all the other trucks and trailers and had to go inside to see where they wanted me to back the trailer to unload.  I opened the door to the office and there were 4 men sitting there calmly talking about something, they all stopped talking when I came into the office, all eyes were on me and one man said with a smirk on his face, "I suppose you'd like us to back your trailer?"  I stared at them with amusement and said, "Just tell me which gate you want me to back up to and I'll do it thank you."   

I don't know if I've ever backed a trailer so perfectly!  Pulled up only one time and put it squarely flush to the gate!  I got out and the man said, "I guess this isn't the first time you have backed a trailer."   I could only smile............

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Web We Weave, part four

This is to wrap up the story about Michael Soutar, the con man from my previous stories.  The man who was ultimately responsible for the journey I am on today.  The man who escaped  his prison sentence and was on America's Most Wanted.

I believe that Michael was on the run for a year.   The Boston Globe writes that Soutar was first noticed in the early 1990's, by '96 he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, forgery, fraud, embezzlement and credit card fraud.  He was serving prison time, but escaped when he was released to have knee surgery.  Charged with bigamy in Texas, but not convicted.  He was always charming and loved the high roller life.

Attorney Generals office called me to advise me of his capture in August of 2005.  They were working on extradition back to Santa Fe.  It seems like there were some other states trying to get a hold of him as well.  Now, after all this time has passed they are asking me questions again, they really wanted to nail this guy.  Again, they wanted me to come and testify.  I finally had to contact a lawyer friend and he started talking to them.  Interestingly enough his daughter is a lawyer in Albuquerque,NM and when everything was said and done, I didn't have to go to testify.  It is not that I didn't think he was guilty and he had over charged my credit card, but I really was just a very small part of the big picture.

Michael Soutar was accused of taking between $150,000 and $200,000 from investors at the Santa Fe Market.  He was charged with securities fraud, securities sales by an unlicensed broker, racketeering, forgery, check and credit-card fraud.  The Jurors deliberated only an hour before returning the verdict of guilty.  He will be serving a 36 year sentence.  I can say I was conned by one of the best!!!

I could say "thank you" to Michael Soutar for his part in my journey.   Today, I am content with where I am and selling gourds at Fine Art Shows in Ohio.  Being "out there" isn't as important as it once was.  I have made amazing friends from Eureka Springs, AR and many places beyond.  All because of this little event, an entanglement in my original plans, turned out to be a wonderful thing! 

If you are incline to learn more about Michael Soutar, you can google him, he is on the first page!  Amazing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Web We Weave, part three

And so I went to the Artist Retreat in 2006.  I didn't think I would be able to even talk to John Two-Hawks.  I remembered how he overwhelmed me with his energy at the Jackalope in 2004.  Oh, it was good energy, just a little powerful somehow.

The retreat was amazing and yes, I could talk to John Two-Hawks, he is just a person after all, he has become a friend and confident.  It was an interesting path that brought me to this place.  Where one door closes and another one opens, we are standing always on the threshold, just stepping into the next great thing.  And so it has been for me an interesting journey to this point.

I am getting ready to do my ninth retreat with John Two-Hawks.  Each spring I do the Artist Retreat, now called Creative Expressions.  It is a place for us to learn that the struggles of an artist are really just personal struggles within ourselves.  We are all amazing no matter what our talent or degree of talent. We are all important in all our efforts, however big or small the effort.   It is a place I go and confirm what I know already and be with like minded people.  The "Ah haaa" moments always come at these retreats, the moment when it all fits together.  It is always amazing and wonderful.  I am grateful to have the ability to create anything my heart desires, that my husband, Richard, supports me at every turn.  This is something every artist needs to know and feel.  I know how lucky I am, I am blessed and grateful.

The retreat I am heading to this weekend, October of 2009, is called the Mending Medicine Retreat.  I have been going to this retreat since October 2006.   Every year I go with no expectations. I know I will see friends from other retreats, meet new ones and learn new lessons about the Medicine Wheel and our journey around the wheel.   I look forward to traveling to Eureka Springs, AR, a place that calls to me, a place that brings tears to my eyes when I visit the Blue Springs Heritage Center.   I know when I walk on the ground at the Blue Spring that the Cherokee ancestors also walked there.  I have played my flute in their honor as I sit in the beautiful gardens and tears streamed down my cheeks.   I was suppose to find these people and this place......... The web continues to grow and grow. One of my favorite quotes from John Two-Hawks; "We are all wrapped in the same ball of yarn, All connected, all important."    Later I will share the end of the Santa Fe story.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Web We Weave, part two

My gourds were wrapped in Santa Fe newspapers, it made unpacking a fun experience for sure.   I remember running across the picture and promotional clipping of John Two-Hawks performing at the Jackalope where I spent the weekend selling my beautiful gourds.  I saved that wrinkled piece of paper, just for the memory of it all.  I love little memory jogs!

Gratefully most all the gourds survived their trip home, some did get broken..... which takes me to an earlier story about the Water-bed and the UPS Man.  I will also note here, it took forever to recover my claim on the broken gourds, but it was resolved.  That was not the only thing that took forever to resolve.

My credit card company need documentation that the card was used fraudulently.  Than goodness for the Santa Fe police report. They too finally honored my over charge and I did not have to pay.   Not long after returning home I received a call from the District Attorney's Office regarding Michael Soutar.  It seems my charge against him began the ball rolling for more charges.  They wanted me to come back to Santa Fe and testify against this man.  Oh my gosh, I couldn't afford another plane ticket to Santa Fe.  They seemed to understand and I spent several phone calls recounting the information as I knew it.

Michael Soutar was to go before the judge on November 22, 2004.  The District Attorney's Office called me to tell give me the outcome of this event.  Michael was charged with 22 counts of fraudulent activity!  He was to be sentenced in December.  You'll never believe that the District Attorney's office called me the day after he was before the judge, to inform me that Michael Soutar had escaped while on work duty at a park!  Everyone seemed to be in shock and of course, the Santa Fe Market was closed forever.

Time passed, as it seems to do.  In February of 2005 I received a call from a women that wanted some ornamental gourds for her gift shop, The Blue Spring Heritage Center.  She tells me that her shop is near the end of the Trail of Tears in Arkansas, in Eureka Springs.  I'd never heard of Eureka Springs, but sent her the gourds and was content that she ordered them. 

In August of 2005, my daughter Emily calls, she wants me to turn on channel 45 on the TV quickly!  Low and Behold.......... it is America's Most Wanted and they are looking for my con friend, Michael Soutar !!  Yep, talk about falling off my chair!  I got the entire history of his antics on TV!  It seems that he had a real way at persuading women to fall for his lines.  Hummm, guess conning artists is no different.  He had been dating three women at the same time, duping them of their money.  One day they found out about one another and let's just say "stuff hit the fan!"  They took him to court and won and hence the probation issue.  They then went on to tell the story of his fraudulent activities in Santa Fe.  Of course, they were looking to capture him and put him away!   So I sort of felt I'd been conned by the best of them!

In September of 2005, my "Annie Oakley" friend Marcy, who keeps popping up in my stories from the Wagon Train Rides to the first story in "The Web We Weave", was driving back to Massachusetts from this year's trip out west.  We are happily spending a couple days together, working in the studio, and she tells me she'd just spent the weekend with friends in Eureka Springs!  There it is again, Eureka Springs, AR.  Where the heck is this place.   She also commissions a gourd for a friend there that is getting married.  Cool.

Winter comes, February of 2006 comes around, cold and gray.  A newly retired friend and I are in the studio visiting.  We were reflecting on the long winter, how much we needed sun and so on.   It was then I said, "I'd love to be in Santa Fe, where it warm and sunny."   She said, "well, let's go!"  About that time my dear husband walks in the door and hears our talk, he says, "this is a perfect time, I want to go too!".   Well if Richard goes, so must her husband, and now we are driving and I'm seeing weeks of being gone, not just a few days!  I decided to research this idea and find out when the Gathering of the Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque happens.  While visiting this site on my computer, I found myself looking at their listing of musical artists.  (By this time, I'm very much more acquainted with Native American Flute music)  I picked one name from a list of thirty names.  Just one............  when I read the name, nothing clicked in my brain, but when his website popped up, I remembered with a jolt, it was John Two -Hawks.  The Native man playing flutes at the Jackalope in 2004.  I decided then and there to order a CD, I'd heard his music and liked it, yes a CD was necessary.

I called the number and remember talking to a woman.  I told her my story of hearing John Two-Hawks at the Jackalope and a little of how I happen to be there.  It was a nice conversation, she ask about my art and what I did.  She thought maybe I might be interested in an Artist Retreat in April.  I told her that I'd think about it and ordered the Cd's.

I spoke with my friend again about the trip to Santa Fe and about maybe waiting and going with me to an Artist Retreat.  This certainly fit my schedule better, a nice long weekend, rather than a couple weeks on the road driving to and from Santa Fe.  We agreed to do the retreat.   I called back to schedule it and started asking questions, dates and such.... "oh, yes, now where are you located?"  She replies, "Eureka Springs, AR".  She also tells me that she remembers me from the Jackalope and her best friend ordered gourds from me for her gift shop, the Blue Spring Heritage Center. 

Well, needless to say, you could have knocked me over with a feather!   Oh, yes there is more to The Web We Weave, part three!

The Web We Weave, part one

I decided in 2004 that it was time to get my gourd business "out there".  To me that meant trying to sell my work to speciality shops.  I went for the "big guns" and took them to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It happened that we were guests in a residence and I was able to mail gourds to an address ahead of our arrival.  My daughter, Emily and I flew out to spend a week in Santa Fe. 

Santa Fe is an amazing place, art is everywhere.  The energy of this city in the southwest will inspire any artist who needs recharged.  The landscape is so beautiful, the history is rich and colorful.  Art is in every shop and gallery.  I wanted to be a part of this excitement and claim to have my gourds in Santa Fe.
Well, I did make some major discoveries on my trip to Santa Fe in 2004.  So many that it will take several writings to tell you everything. 

I'll begin at the beginning, where Emily and I start our first morning in town with a rental car load of gourds and the optimism of a proud and excited artist, me.  We had breakfast and from there visited a little shop, then moved on to another gallery.  In speaking to one of the sales clerks I found this gallery to be filled with many artists who rent space and sell their artwork.  The sales clerks are hired to take care of the shop and you just have to provide art and decorate your display area.   Wow, did I ever find the perfect place for my gourds and they had some openings for artists!  The clerk went to find the owner and he wanted to see my gourds.  How easy can it get!   He loved my work, he said all the right things to make an artist blush and thought my price points were great and wanted me to join the gallery.  He was a good looking guy, maybe in his forties and was very charming, but most of all he LOVED my gourds.

I called Richard and he was a little less excited, but then he isn't known to make quick decisions and I had to decide before the space filled up and we were only there a week!   I agreed to become a part of the Santa Fe Market.  I choose my spot and then began the task of painting the space, gathering some display items, bought a rug, went to a Flea Market and purchased a couple antique looking display items and put what I had with me in the way of gourds to make a display.  I would then mail more gourds to them when I got home and fly back down to get everything in order.  Perfect.

Emily and I spent the rest of the week checking out galleries and enjoying our visit to Santa Fe.  We went to really nice galleries and also went to a place called the Jackalope.  A fun place with more affordable gift items for taking home.  It is a giant space under several buildings and yards full of pottery, tents with the local Native people selling their goods.  You can buy anything from t-shirts to furniture.  Love going here to shop.  A fun place and certainly well known to people who travel to Santa Fe.

We flew home after our week in Santa Fe.  I then got busy making arrangements to UPS gourds to Santa Fe and buying tickets for another flight out.   This time my daughter, Trisha and her 9week old, Kellen, were going with me.  We were to leave on a Tuesday.   The Friday before our trip back out, I got a phone call from the owner of the Santa Fe Market, Michael Soutar.  He ask me if I was still interested in the space, I said, "Yes, I'll be out again on Tuesday to finish putting the space together."  He mentioned he had others that were interested in the space and maybe I should have signed a contract before I'd left Santa Fe the first time.  No matter, he'd just mail me one, in the mean time we talked price for renting the space and he agreed that I could try it for three months.  This would certainly be prime time, Santa Fe Indian Market was soon and the Christmas season was coming!  If there was a chance to sell, this would be the perfect time!  So rent was agreed upon, time period agreed upon and contract was being mailed.  To hold my space he wanted my credit card number.  Sounded like a fair exchange.

Trisha, baby Kellen and I flew out to Santa Fe the third week of August.  Indian Market was the weekend coming up and we'd be there for this event.  I was so very excited.   We arrived and immediately finished making purchases for the space, put everything in place and finally happy to call it finished.  I called Richard and ask if the contract had arrived, it hadn't come before I left home.   No, it had not come in the mail that day.  So before Trisha and I left the space I knew I had to get this contract signed and we could go about our merry visit in Santa Fe.  

I found the sales clerk I'd met the trip before with Emily.  She was not quite as  friendly as I remembered, especially since I was asking for the owner, Michael.  I told her that I just needed to sign a contract with him and she said, "Oh, I wouldn't sign any contracts with him, he is in jail!".  Red Flags went up!  I ask why and she told me, "for former probation violations".  It was then I decided to call my credit card company!  Yep, that sinking feeling I got when I talked to the sales clerk was for a reason!   He had way overcharged my credit card!  I called Richard, and he said I should file a police report!

I knew the display I'd just finished could not stay in this place!   The Santa Fa policeman came and took all my information, he told me to write it out on a form and take it to the police station.  At this point the tears started.  I had a booth to take out, I had a daughter with a nine week old baby and was at a loss what to do next.  He was such a nice young man, my tears softened his position, he kindly said, "okay, I'll file it for you, you just do what you have to do and I'll take care of it."

When Trisha and I rented the car, we decided to rent a van, mostly because of the baby stuff.  Well, the baby stuff was covered with display and gourds.  We were packed to the roof and didn't exactly know what to do next.  My mind is ever working on another plan and this seemed to be the case this day.

While Trisha and I were in Santa Fe that week, my "Anne Oakley" friend, Marcy was also in town, visiting her sister. (you can read about meeting Marcy in my Oregon Trail writings.)   I called Marcy and we caught up with one another the next day.  Before meeting with Marcy, I had decided to go to the Jackalope and talk to the owner, giving him my long and sad story.  Now, I must tell you, this took a lot of guts on my part, I was really going to have to sell myself and my work.  Most artist's would understand, making art is one thing, being your own spokesperson is another!

My daughter, the baby and I first spoke with a sales clerk at Jackalope, we were then taken to her manager, from there we were then taken to the secretary of the owner, telling the story over and over about what had happened at the Santa Fe Market and with the owner Mr. Soutar.  We finally got inside the office of the owner of the Jackalope, his name is one I love, Darby McQuad!  Something musical about his name.  Mr. McQuad listened to my long story, interestingly he knew of the mess regarding Michael Soutar! 

Mr. McQuad agreed to rent me an outdoor space under one of his tents at the front of his business for the weekend!  How cool was that!!!!  So for the weekend of Indian Market in Santa Fe, I sold gourds!  I was really selling gourds in Santa Fe, NM......     While we were at the Jackalope, Trisha and I would take turns walking around and it was here that I first heard music from the Native American style flute, it was being played by a Native man, John Two-Hawks.  I loved the music but was still too wrapped up in my own experiences to even consider purchasing his music.  But...... I remember the way he looked and the power he held, it was very overwhelming to me, but in another sense very calming.   I didn't understand it then, but that is another story.

My friend Marcy came to my rescue when we were packing up from the Jackalope to leave for the weekend, she filled her truck with my display purchases and gourds.  Trisha, baby Kellen and I were to catch a flight the next day and Marcy agreed to pack my gourds and mail them to me.  She would then deliver my display purchases to my home on her way back to her home in Massachusetts in a couple weeks.  Talk about a turn of events.  How lucky was I?  When you think about all these events and how it all worked, you know there is a divine plan in everything that happens!  If this boggles your mind, wait until you read "the rest of the story".

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wagon Train Ride on the Oregon Trail, 1995

In 1995 we went back on the Oregon Trail Wagon Train Ride.  We had so much fun the year before that our friends decided to join us on this year's trip.  I mentioned in my previous writing about the 1994 wagon train ride, our host gave Ryan and Tere a free trip for a wedding gift, because they became engaged on the  trip the year before.  We couldn't let that pass by, now could we?

I also mentioned in the last writing about the artist, Tom Lucas.  We stopped by his home and shop to see his artwork.  This year my goal was to find elk teeth ivory's and beaver teeth.  I so wanted to have earrings and a necklace like our "Annie Oakley" friend from last years adventure.  I was sure Tom would have these items.  Come to find out, he had beaver teeth, but they were still in the skulls.  As I mentioned before, he traps beaver to feed their "pet" bobcats.  He gladly gave me three skulls and told me if I put them in pots of boiling water and let them cook awhile, the teeth could then be extracted. So we left with beaver skulls and visions of beaver tooth necklaces in our heads.

We stayed the night before our wagon train ride in the town of Atlantic City, WY.  Had fun at the bar/restaurant playing cards and just relaxing.  Talk turned to last year's trip and our chance meeting with Marcy and Brian.  We just happen to mention them to someone in the bar and found out that they were in a camper just outside the building.  How interesting to run into this couple again this year.   We went knocking on the camper door and were greeted like old friends.  (Have I mentioned that Marcy is still a friend today, almost 20 years later!  Yep, it is true, and she was just here visiting us this past week on her way West.)

There were twelve of us on this trip.  Matt was the youngest and he was probably nine.  Friends and family members are all horse people and wanted to ride a horse and not be riding in a covered wagon for miles on a bumpy hard road.  So our host said we could have as many horses as we needed, we thought that was perfect.  When we arrived at the tumbled down starting point of our event, there were indeed horses of all sizes and conformations.  Tack was laying wherever it had been dropped.  We were told to pick our horses and saddle up!!!   There was not horse and saddle that went together, you found what you needed and made it work.  The trading of equipment until everything fit the horse you were riding went on for some time.  Bridles had to be fitted, girths were swapped, and stirrups adjusted.  It truly was like doing a live jigsaw puzzle.   Meanwhile, our host's just watched while we worked it out.   (I'm not sure they had a clue about getting that many horses ready.)  This wasn't difficult, we all knew how to tack up, but it should have been a clue about the knowledge of our hosts.

Our journey on the Oregon Trail (Mormon Trail) was so much fun, the sky is never ending, the smell of sage was in the air.  Horses were very nice to handle and we stopped at some tumbledown places that people tried to live at one time or another.   Weather worn wood barns and homes, trickles of water nearby were barely enough to water even one horse.   We felt the presence of the past and what it might have been like to travel this vast open land for a piece of land to call home.

We arrived at a different spot this year to call camp.  The tipi's were up and it was in another grove of aspen trees.  Very beautiful setting. Campfires, the guys brought guns to shoot targets, we gathered plant material to fill baskets to take home, we did day rides from base camp to places of interest and food was great.  After our evening meal one night we gathered cans of water to "cook" our beaver skulls.  This was suppose to be a project for the females in the group, kind of a ceremony to create our own "tribe", to remember the trip with this touchstone or in this case a beaver tooth necklace.  Our name would be the Beaver-tooth Tribe.  Well, six females gathered around the fire, the skulls were put in the hot water and then it happened.  The smell of these skulls cooking was more then the "tribe" could stand, one by one they left me to attend to the project.  Oh my, the smell was really bad, but I couldn't just forget about those skulls, I had to be the one to finish the project.

Then it happened, my friend "Annie Oakley", Marcy came riding into camp with Brian.  She found me by the fire and she helped me to extract beaver teeth from the skulls.  To this day we laugh at the story, each of the girls on the trip did get their stylish beaver tooth necklace.  I still wear mine, I don't often see the others wearing theirs, but I know they have them tucked away in a special place to remember the aspen grove with tipi's, the big night sky, the smell of sage and cooking skulls, Brian playing his guitar around the campfire.  They'll remember the horses they rode and the vast, windy desert of Wyoming on the Oregon Trail.

Our trip together continued, we went to Cody, WY and into Yellowstone, camping in tents, taking turns at making meals, sharing a wonderful time together.   It is also reminding me of another story or two........

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wagon Train Ride on the Oregon Trail, 1994

Richard and I, along with our son Ryan and then girlfriend Tere decided to vacation together back in 1994.  We headed to Wyoming with our destination point being Atlantic City, Wyoming.  Historic South Pass City is old mining town, it is the closest thing to Atlantic City and can be found on a AAA map.  South Pass City was a boom town, boasting 2,000 inhabitants in 1871.  By 1875 South Pass City was nearly deserted.  Both places are south and west of Lander, Wyoming.    Atlantic City pretty much consists of a dozen houses, two bars and a couple of A frames for overnight guests.  It is located in the middle of Bureau of Land Management country and cattle are seen grazing right outside the bar/restaurant's door. 

We often learn lessons in life that might be considered by others before an event is planned.  I, however, think only the best about anything and never consider that it could be any thing different that what is advertised. It was in the AAA book afterall!    The company we were doing the Wagon Train ride with, is no longer in business, I don't wonder why.  In all seriousness, we had a great time.  Just not exactly what  we maybe envisioned.

When we arrived at the starting point our first hint of things revealed themselves.   It was a fallen down house (shack) and barn.  Electric fence pens for horses with no grass (what am I thinking we are in the desert).  One wagon, a team of horses and some saddle horses.  The couple were very nice, but lived in Mississippi and come to find out they leased this bit of land for their "Wagon Train Ride on the Oregon Trail" business.  It was later discovered they lease these horses and probably all other components to host their business.  It is not to say we didn't have a wonderful time, we did, but things are not always what they seem and that is the lesson.

The plans were to take a Wagon Train trip on the Oregon Trail, which consisted of an entire day of traveling in a covered wagon.  We made stops at historic landmarks along the way and after hours of travel we arrived at an aspen grove with tipi lodges to spend the night.  The road we traveled still holds the scars of the early pioneers, the wagon wheels etched themselves in the hard desert floor.  This is also the trail the Mormons used to pull their handcarts across this country on their journey to Utah.  One of the landmarks we stopped to view was the site of  one group of Mormon travelers that lost their lives due to the onset of early winter.  Unprepared for the cold of winter, they died on this open and windy plain.  As romantic as the west seems, it is raw and unforgiving.  I respect those who survived and those that still live out there.  It is a hard life.  The sun and wind and cold and wind is constant.  And yet, it is some of the most beautiful country you'd ever want to see.  The sky was always beautiful, day or night.  The land makes you wonder how anything can survive.

Our host for the covered wagon trip were very nice, as I think back I wonder, "did they know any more about the area than we already knew?"  Were we just "easterners" looking for a connection to the history of the west?   Today, I'd answer yes.........  we wanted to know and experience a few days of what life might have been like, we didn't even scratch the surface to really knowing. 

We had wonderful meals, campfires and we even were treated with a visitor who showed us knapping.  That is the art of making arrowheads.  He was married to an Shoshone native woman and they lived on the Wind River Indian Reservation at Lander.  He was an artist and we were invited to their home and his studio after the wagon train ride was over.  We found when we visited them, they kept two beautiful bobcats and trapped beaver to feed them.  His studio was wonderful, with many beautiful items from jewelery to antler and horn items, his name was Tom Lucas and he was quite a craftsman.

While camping in this aspen grove, I was thrilled to discover the red -shafted woodpecker, a kin to our eastern yellow-shafted woodpecker.  This was my first experience sleeping in tipi lodges, I loved it!  (When I looked at pictures to post with this, I laughed at the tipi's, our host's had no idea how to put up a tipi lodge.)  Richard and Ryan brought their guns and set up targets (cans) to shoot at and they had so much fun.  In the late afternoon, we noticed a four wheeler coming our way.........  a couple were riding the four wheeler and they were drawn to our tipi lodges.  When they got off the ATV Richard was sure he was meeting Annie Oakley!   She had on a holster with guns in them!   The couple pretty much hung out with the boys and continued to shoot, while the women tended the fire and cooked.   I'm thinking I would not have been a very happy pioneer, I wanted to hang out with the horses and the boys too!

Later they came to the fire and food and we also got to enjoy the company of Marcy and Brian.  Marcy is pretty amazing and to my delight we are still friends today.  Marcy not only had six guns on her hips, she wore elk tooth earrings and a beaver tooth necklace.  She was very cool!  (I feel sure she is laughing as she reads this blog!)  Marcy and Brian were living the life of the west, Brian liked to look for gold and they traveled around the west on their quest to strike the Mother load.  They gave our trip so much flavor and color, what fun.

While we enjoyed our time at the aspen grove, one very important event took place.  Ryan and Tere took a sunset ride away from camp and he proposed marriage to Tere and she said "Yes!".  The couple hosting our trip gave them as a wedding gift a FREE wagon train ride for the next summer!   Yes, of course, we were all looking forward to coming back!