Meandering Thoughts

Meandering Thoughts

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.......