Meandering Thoughts

Meandering Thoughts

Friday, April 30, 2010

Trying to Come Back

I've been thinking about things I need to be doing since I've come home from Musical Echoes.  Something happened while I was gone, spring took over in Ohio.  Not only did the yard need mowed, the trimming really got away from my wonderful husband.  I feel like we have been playing catch up and I was only gone a week!

It is hard to get back into the swing of things when you have a little vacation that totally absorbed every part of your being.  The little sunburn has since browned my skin, the waves at the beach are still in my mind and in my heart.  Most of all, I can still hear the sounds of Native American Flute music.  It was everywhere, people trying flutes all around the Ft.Walton Landing, music on stage by some of the best musicians across the country, newly purchased Cd's playing in the car.  Playing my own flutes with the wind, water and birds.  Magic happened last weekend for me, I want to keep that weekend close.  I'm afraid if I get too busy here at home, I'll stop remembering the special things that happened. 

Oh, I know you don't really forget these things.  I do know from past experiences that you loose some of the sensations.   For example, it's like having winter surrounding you, you see snow and it is very cold, can you remember how hot it was the summer before?  Sure you remember, but you lost the sensory response of that summer heat and humidity.  Maybe that is why I appreciate the change of seasons, they ease you into the next season, that gradual change is less difficult to experience depth of the next season.  I am not yet ready to loose the consciousness of warmth between  friends, the sounds of the beach and the music in the air all around me.

So forgive me if my blog is repetitive, my laundry lays unfolded, my gourds await artwork and I'm still not ready to give up my trip.  I hope having flute circle this Saturday will help with the adjustment, moving me gradually back to the other world, the one where my feet must touch the ground and while I'm here on the ground....  well, I will start manifesting the next flight into the world I left the other day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Floating on a "Flute Cloud"

It's never easy when coming home from a vacation.  My best girlfriend and I have just returned from six days in heaven.  We went to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.  It is in the Gulf Coast area.  My wonderful husband could not go with us, this is his busiest time of year, in the spring, he helps the Ag. teacher in the shop every morning at the school he has retired from.  Our critters need to be cared for and his real retirement job is mowing and grounds care for a home on the other side of Cedarville.  Plus this is planting season, he also farms a little on the side.   Did I say he retired? 

So my friend and I drove to Florida, we were attending for the first time Musical Echoes, a Native American Flute, Art and Cultural Festival.  We were excited enough to drive the thirteen hour trip in one day!  Having never been to this part of Florida when we saw the white beaches and beautiful Emerald Coast with white sands, we couldn't stop smiling!   I worry this morning that the oil spill from the off shore drilling disaster will touch this beautiful coastline and all the life that lives in these waters will be harmed.  Sending flute prayers today for all that live in these waters.

The exciting part about this trip is knowing that we'd be meeting up with friends who would be performing, friends that were vendors and friends we have come to know at other flute events.  It is always fun when people come together and share a common interest.  This is a "flute family" we are associated with and it is an amazing family. 

Because of some very wonderful friends, we were invited to go out on a pontoon boat the day before the festival was to begin.  Armed with sunscreen and food, we played in the water, walked the beach and generally soaked up the sun and the company and friendships offered.  What a wonderful day.  Can you have "too much fun"?

Our wonderful friends are vendors at the festival.  It was our pleasure to help them prepare their booth for the weekend.  As it turned out, because of the evening winds and storms, their booth had to be dismantled each evening and prepared again each morning!  Vendors work really hard at events with weather issues!
Helping them was always fun and many hands make fast work.

I entered the Art competition, the theme was Red-Tailed Hawk.  I made a beautiful gourd bowl with a carved Red-Tailed Hawk, some carved feathers, turquoise beads were inlaid and it got a third place ribbon!

It's hard to put a finger on what part of the festival we liked the most.  Of course hearing the different artist's perform is always wonderful.  Maybe it was trying out all the amazing flutes, maybe it was all the awesome people we talked to, many strangers, never to see again.  Many are now new friends who share our common love of the Native American Style Flute.  Perhaps it was talking to the performers, getting Cd's signed and becoming acquainted with their music style.  I can't forget the fun we had at the Drum Circle, it was awesome and it wasn't long enough!  Or maybe it was the big Flute Circle that formed back at the conference room of the motel because the evening concerts were cancelled due to weather.  Sixty-five people came, memories of Hawk Littlejohn were shared. Flutes and drums were played, it was AMAZING!

Between moments at the Emerald Coast beaches and the festival, we were definitely on cloud nine!  It is hard to relate all the funny things that happened and  hard to share how much love is in this community of flute people.  It is truly heart warming seeing people come together to help one another, pray for one another and I am blessed to be a part of this caring family.  I long for the next event.  In the mean time we will keep in touch by phone, emails and facebook.

Can you tell, I am having difficulty coming down from the "flute cloud"?  I want to hold tight to the moments.  I look at the photos, I am back again, at Ft. Walton, Florida.

I better make a list of things I need to do...... the real world will not wait on me to come down from my moments of flying.   I must get my feet back on the ground, finding a new washer is today's project, how is that for reality? 

I am looking forward, our Flute Circle meets on Saturday, yes, I can go back to my "flute cloud" again!

Photos:   Upper right, the Emerald Coast, Florida
               Middle left, me standing at the landing in Ft.Walton
               Lower right, some performers & guests at Musical Echoes

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hitting the Road

Taking a trip?  Let the lists begin.  I am a seasoned traveler.  I have taken children and horses into the wilderness with a pick up truck and a sixteen foot trailer.  In the back of that truck was horse gear, horse hay/grain and water buckets.  Also, sleeping bags, tent, coolers, food for the family, extra coats, boots and chairs. Did I forget to mention the camp stove and maybe wood for a campfire.  I always checked the list so nothing was forgotten.  We'd pile into the truck and head out to a remote area to camp and spend the weekend riding horses.  What a blast!

I remember one trip, a girth belt was forgotten.  Trisha had to ride her horse bareback, a girth belt is necessary to hold a saddle on a horse.  We did some pretty major hills, she held onto mane while the horse climbed those hills.  More than once her grip on the mane was all that kept her on the horse.  She didn't forget that girth belt again.Food is always major when camping with kids, if they get hungry then they get grumpy.  We always had lots of food.  Camping was always a time when you brought lots of snack stuff, kids are always hungry when they are outside and playing.

We have traveled a lot, we went to California with horses in a motor home, we have traveled by car and truck and plane.   Nothing beats traveling across country.   I love seeing the land, getting to know different areas.   We have been to Wyoming, Montana, Iowa, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida, Maine, Arkansas, Washington state, Canada and all the states in between.  I couldn't begin to list them all, every state held an adventure and story.  I should maybe list the states we haven't explored......

When my wonderful husband and I take a trip, there are rules.  I cannot pack any higher than the windows, otherwise he can't see out.  I wonder why we have mirrors?  Of course, when we travel together, we have a little problem with bringing things home and the car does seem to get fuller and fuller with stuff.   One trip to Santa Fe and on to Sedona, produced drums and other amazing gourd adornments to bring home.  I had antlers, leather, beads, and then there were gifts for the kids and grand kids!   There are always things that get put in the car that we never use, but we are prepared.  A sleeping bag, things for cooler weather and things for warmer weather.  Always a cooler, reading material, Cd's (we don't share the same taste in music, unless it's country), notebook to keep count of the hawks and eagles.  Blanket and pillow, naps are a must when you travel across country.  Need I go on?

When my dear friend and I travel together and we do often, we both wonder why we take so many clothes.  Usually it is one big bag and one small bag of necessary clothes and stuff.  Always a pillow and blanket, she is always cold and I'm always warm in the car.  Flute music is a must, flutes, maybe drums, a cooler and snack stuff.  We also take a tarot cards and Animal Speak and a bird book, very necessary items.

She and I are headed to Florida tomorrow.  My wonderful husband is staying home to take care of the critters.  The dogs always pout when I leave, they start when they see me packing the bags.  To leave on a trip without Richard requires another list.  I must make sure he has plenty of food in the house, he will have to cook for himself and maybe even run the washer if necessary.   I have to be sure all the critters have food, can't run out while I'm gone!  Richard doesn't like some of the things I leave him to take care of, water the flowers, clean the kitty litter, feed the fish and mow the yard.  He does a great job when I'm gone, but as soon as I'm back those jobs are all mine!

Oh dear, I feel another list coming on, don't forget the maps, address of the place we are staying, phone numbers of friends we'll be meeting up with and a little extra cash for a new flute?   Maybe I'll take a few gourds, do you think someone will make a trade?   Oh my gosh, I can't forget to take some postcards and greeting cards, and I'm entering a gourd in the art contest, do I have the paperwork for the entry?  Now were are my sandals?  Gosh, I'll need sunscreen and a hat for Florida!  Oh no, I should paint my toenails for those sandles.  Oh dear, there must be something I'm forgetting.......

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Judge......

Art is amazing to me, sometimes I can't get enough of it.   Oh, not just my art, actually I sometimes feel I'm only touching the outside edge of amazing art.  Yesterday I went to a Jury event for a very nice show that happens in Cincinnati in the fall.  I call this a "jury event" for one reason, you jury in person, before a judge that will decide if she likes your work.  From there, I'm not sure how they decide.  I feel lucky to only live an hour away, others must come much farther, all want to get into this show.  I have done the show three times and been excluded twice. 

Judging someones elses work cannot be easy, everything looked so AMAZING to me.  How do people think of the things they do?  I saw the most beautiful framed art, it was probably a piece that was 20"x26" and it was a street scene, trees, houses, street, and flowers.  It was totally done with the leftovers from a hole punch.  You know that little dot that usually goes in the trash, I'm sure it has a name.  The "painting" was beautiful!

Jewelery was being polished while the artist awaited their turn to be juried.  Big ceremaic vases were carried into a crowed room, with few chairs to sit and wait for your turn before the judge.  Others kept their treasures in boxes and bags.  My friend who makes wonderful wooden bookmarks, carried his samples in his shirt pocket. 

I had a brown bag with three gourds inside.  I wonder if I had choosen the right pieces, do they show the scope of what I can do with a gourd?   Do they make a nice group together?  Are they impressive enough, they are just gourds afterall.........    All these things go through my mind while I wait.  My number is called and I am told to go to the table with the lady wearing black and white.  I go into the small room with many tables and more people waiting.  All the judges are wearing black and white, I'm a little confused, not a good first impression........   Someone in black and white calls my number and I make my way to the little card table.
As I get my gourds out, she asks me the question all gourd artists get ask, "do you grow your own gourds?"  I ponder the answer, will she think less of my work if I don't grow my own gourds.  Then I remember the answer,  "I love to grow gourds, they are amazing to grow.  They don't often grow big enough or with flat bottoms, so I choose to support gourd growers and purchase my gourds in the size and shapes that I need."  (this is all true)  Whew, she seemed to understand, her mother grew some gourds.  Now I explain that all my work has a paper lining, to give them a finished look inside.  She picks up the big oak leaf bowl, talks of the carving.  She then picks up the little inlay gourd with the lid and looks inside, replacing the lid.  Next she pick ups the gourd with the antler handle and coil weaving.  We talk about coil weaving and she knew that pine needle baskets were coil woven.  Then it was over........  I was finished, did I make a good impression?  I don't have a clue, but she at least knew something about gourds and techniques.  My work isn't dramatic or unusual.  It is honest, full of spirit and made with love.... will that judge understand there is more about my work that what the eye can see?

When I came home, I replaced those gourds on my studio shelves.  I look at all of my work and know that I love what I do and I can't wait change my clothes and work on my new projects......  

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Heaven on Earth

I live in this place, Heaven on Earth.   The sun comes up in the East with the promise of another wonderful day.  I see my horses out in the early pasture, enjoying every bite of green grass, hay no longer interests them.  The birds started their morning with joyful songs.  I am hopeful that the bluebirds continue their nest building in a box nearby, I eagerly watch their progress.

A cup of coffee in hand I venture out with the dogs in the wet dewy grass.  I am bare foot, to feel the cold wet grass and feel every sensation startling me awake.  I'm alive this spring morning in April.  Rejoice!  This is what I have been waiting for, Spring!    It is unusually mild this spring, the windows and doors are thrown open, spring is in the air and I enhale it's fragrances.

My flowers are so beautiful this morning, the tulips and baby iris are so pretty together among my stacked stones.  I see trees starting to leaf out and thank them for their shelter, I cannot wait to hang the hammock under those leaves and take an afternoon nap.

I must snap out of it, this little moment of blissfulness.  What am I thinking!  I must get the studio ready!  There will be thirty to fifty people coming today in a Coach Bus to visit my gourd studio!   Oh, my.  I have much to do before they arrive on this beautiful spring day.  I have meandered long enough with my coffee in hand!  I don't want to leave my wonderful morning solitude.......   And yet, I love that I will have visitors coming to my place, Heaven on Earth.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our Little Home

Our home is a wonderful place that sits on 12 acres of land.  My horses have most of the rights to this twelve acres.  Their pasture is big for just the two of them.  But then I know there is more going on out there that two horses grazing.

I have written a couple blogs about my family history or lack of it.  Today I have decided to tell you about the house we live in and how connected we are to things and don't even know it.

When I was a young girl, maybe ten, we lived in a woods back a long lane.  Surrounding this medium sized forest of trees were farm fields.  One of these fields belonged to us and the other three belonged to two other neighbors. 

One day an unexpected car drove down our long lane, the driver and his wife got out and talked to my Dad.  They wanted to walk back to a place in our neighbors field where a house once sat.  The gentleman talking explained that when he was a child, he lived in this house with his grandparents.  And so they went on their adventure to the place where a house once sat in the middle of a big farm field.  I wonder now if when he lived with his grandparents, if there were trees surrounding that home, if there had been a barn of some kind and why this man came to live with his grandparents as a child.  Did he live there full time, how old was he when he lived there, were there other children there, I could continue............

The summer of my sixteenth year, I met a young man who is now my wonderful husband.  We dated until I was twenty and then married.  I then had a new family to get to know and learn about.  Although, I should have been more interested and paid more attention, much has been forgotten.

I do remember this however.  Richard's Grandfather was the gentleman that came to our house in the woods ten years before we married.  The other amazing part of this story............   We live in the house that used to sit in that farmer's field.  We found out after we moved into this humble house, that it had been moved from the farm field, closer to the road, back in the fifties.

I love these little webs that keep showing up in my life.  Isn't it AMAZING?

picture of our home on Tarbox-Cemetery Road in 2010.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Meanderings

I have found writing blogs to be a revealing experience.  Most is good, some are surprising and others are very interesting.  I like writing these chapters about my life, my memories.  It is somewhat healing and it also causes me to organize my thought about things. 

I called my blog "Meandering Thoughts" for a couple of reasons.  I have many things I wanted to write about, not one topic would cover the bases and if you have been reading these stories, I do sometimes seem to meander a little or a lot!

I maybe should have written this as the opener to my blogging, kind of like the forward to the book.  I didn't know then what I know now, after nearly a hundred entries.  I know now the reason for writing this type of journaling.  Is to keep a history of what I remember, what I want to remember and what I want my grandchildren's children to know about the life of someone in their family's history.  Much of my family history has closed doors and that hurts me a little, not knowing about my ancestors.

Maybe it is a vain attempt by me to not be forgotten.  When we stop remembering someone, do we stop honoring their life on this earth?  It hurts me that my family's history is lost to share with my children, I have no way to honor my ancestors with my children and grandchildren.  This is why I write these blogs. 

Could I have found a more private way to share?   I have found that being accountable to followers that read my meanderings, makes me continue.  In old times people didn't have the distractions or entertainments that keeps families from talking and sharing stories each day.  In the past people sat at the table and while they ate, they shared.  Or they sat around the campfire or fireplace and talked.  We find ourselves being pulled away from taking time to share.  I want to share my history, I want to be remembered, I worry that is arrogant and vain.  I am not really that kind of person, it is more about the things we did as a family and the wonderful life we shared, not really about me at all.  I was only one character in the big picture.  It's the picture of all that played with me in this wonderful life.
Oh you can't live in the past, I wouldn't want to do that.......  but somehow we have to connect with the past to know who we are today.  Who helped teach us the way?  Were those teachings and knowledge used to guide us to be who we are now? 

I'm meandering again, later friends.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Memories of Grandma Rankin

I wrote some facts in my last blog about my maternal Grandmother, Gladys Thelma Rankin.  I'd like to share some of my thoughts about how I remember her.  Things that cause me to wonder if the person I am today is genetic or my upbringing.

My Grand-mother was feisty!  She was small in stature and she had short dark red hair.  Auburn red, probably, I don't remember it having much gray in it.  My grandmother smoked and it caused lots of discussion in my home when my babies were little.  I didn't like her to smoke in the house and that was not gracious of me, but it was something I felt strongly about.

My Grandmother took care of my Uncle Billy who had cerebral palsy, my Uncle Billy was only a few years older than myself.  As children learn at a young age, it didn't really matter that Uncle Billy couldn't do the things we did, we all still played together.  He had his own special language and we knew what he was saying, strangers would not know.  We rode tricycles, played ball and played with his toys, he had the most fun toys.  Trains, blocks, records, games, whatever it was, we all played together.  I must have learned early that people haven't all got the same abilities.  They still are people and think and play and communicate and need to feel love.  Uncle Billy was loved. 

Grandma Rankin had her own business.  She was a seamstress, her little girls dresses were smocked by hand and sewn by my Grandmother.  She called her business "Miller Frocks".  She would make little dresses as samples and take them to Dayton and go from client to client, measuring little girls and taking orders for dresses from her samples.  The mothers of these little girls loved that my Grandmothers dresses had deep hems, often with a tuck that could be let out when their girls grew taller.  My Grandmother's clients were mostly from the "colored" neighborhoods.  In the 50's this was not normal to be in the those neighborhoods.  My Grandmother was there, she knew they were people, just like us white folks.  I would sometimes get to go with her on Saturday's when she delivered the beautiful dresses.  Mostly I got to sit in the car and wait until she finished her business.  Imagine leaving your kids in the car today!!!!   The real treat came when we stopped a little corner market and she would let me have a Root Beer and Snowball cupcake like thing.  Oh, that was pretty special for sure!    I learned at a young age we all have the same needs and love dressing our babies in pretty smocked dresses.   Is this where I began to see that people, no matter the color, were just people after all.  Is this where I learned some of my "business" sense too?

My Grandma gave us our first Easter bunnies, a couple summers later we had 52 baby bunnies!  A present that got a little out of control!   My Grandma always made our Easter dresses, beautiful dresses with organdy pinafores over the top.  Pretty white socks and new shoes...........  we didn't even go to church.  Isn't that funny?  We always had big baskets covered with beautiful see through wrappings! 

We kids always got to spend a week at Grandma's house in the summer.  One at a time.  It was a nice change of pace for us.  Grandma Rankin lived in Springfield, coming from a home in a woods in the country was like stepping out into the light of the world.  She fixed the most amazing hamburgers, no lean hamburger in those days and everything was fried.  Oh, and she made the most amazing yeast rolls.  I learned to make yeast rolls from my Grandma Rankin.  She also taught me to smock and crochet.  Little steps to becoming a quilter and seamstress myself when our children were growing up.  Sewing became an important part of my life for a time, another gift from my Grandma.

When we spent the night at Grandma Rankins my favorite memory was hearing the train whistles as they passed through Springfield.  I am always drawn back to that time when I hear a train whistle today.  As we got older I remember sitting and watching the Reds play baseball on TV.  If it wasn't on TV the game played on the radio.  They were big Reds fans!

I could probably go on and on, but that is enough for now.  Just to finish, I would say about the women in my family.   The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, is it genetic or our upbringing? 

Photos:  upper left, Grandma Rankin and Uncle Billy
              lower right, me and my brother, Brian in our Easter outfits 1956

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Our Census form was completed and mailed a few weeks ago.  There are only two of us living in this humble little house on Tarbox-Cemetery Road.  I'd like to count my dogs and horses as part of the family but there is no place for that on the form.

I have a partial copy of a 1930 Census.  It has my Grandmother Rankin's family listed.  It was very detailed and hand written by the census taker.  It comes from the Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930.  My Grandmother was living in her parents home in Allen County, Indiana, Violet Tilbury took the information on May 7th, 1930. 

My Great Grandfather's name was Richard Coak, 64 years old and my Great Grandmother's name was Lydia and she was 54 years old.  My Grandmother's name was Gladys Thelma Coak, and was living at home with a brother, Charles R., 17 years and another sister Betty L. was only 7 years old.  I also learned from this that my mother was then three years old, her name on that cencus form is Robella Margaret Jane York. 

As you scan the census form, my Grandmothers status is divorced and she was twenty years old.  Interesting things you could find out from the old hand written census.  My Great Grandfather was listed as a farmer and my Great Grandmother and Grandmother's occupations were: None. 
My Grandmother, Gladys died in 1986.  She had three children, my Mother, my Uncle Kenneth Coak and my Uncle Billy Rankin.  It seems each of her children had different fathers, I do know when she married my Grandfather, Raymond George Rankin, her name listed on the marrige license was Gladys Thelma Bardsley.   They married June 29, 1940.   My Grandmother was then 30 and my Grandfather was 42 years of age.  It looks as if my Grandmother had been married at least three times.  She made her journey from this world in 1986, she had cancer.

My Fathers side of the family is almost a sketchy, although some things have been revealed to me that I never knew and it didn't come from my Mother.  I know from the Fifteenth census of the United States: 1930 in Ohio, Clark County.  That my Grandfathers name was Ralph DeRemer, 36 years old and my Grandmother's name was Goldie. They had three daughters, Irene, Annette and Corrine and Steven Guy DeRemer was my birth father.  He was born in June 1931.   I never knew this side of the family, my Mother was divorced sometime after my brother was born, Brian is 18 mos. younger than me.  Secrets, secrets............  Oh yes, there have always been secrets in my family.  For the life of me I don't understand why things are so hidden. 

My birth father lives in Seguin, Texas and had three sons by a second marriage, Steve, Mark and Mitchell DeRemer. He is again divoriced and living with his dog.   He still living and refuses to have any contact with me.  I don't understand this, I have requested some form of contact and I get no response.    A shame really, life is so short.  His sisters have all passed on now.  I am not sure that it is critical for me to know more, filling in the blanks would be nice for some reason.

I may have stirred the bee hive with this information, it doesn't matter, it is my history.......... Now you might be asking, why share this information in a blog?  I often ask myself this question, sharing yourself with the world is a little uncomfortable.  I started the blog to make a conscious effort to record some of my family history.  We have done so many wonderful things, I hate to see it get lost to our grandchildren.  I love remembering things from the past and sharing my life as I live it now.  It is a history for my family, if someone else enjoys reading it, I'm okay with that too.  To me it is like reading chapters of a book, every entry is another chapter.  If you don't want to read that chapter, it's okay too.

Photo:  upper left, My Father and Mother, May 1949
             lower right, My Grandpa and Grandma Rankin, Uncle Billy and me, May 1949

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


My dear friend Linda and I spend lots of quality time together.  We are high school friends that connected again after 30 some years of living our lives.  We suddenly seem to be sharing the same path after so many years.  We have learned many lessons on our separated journeys.  We often talk about things that happened and how we reacted to events that changed our whole perception of what we thought and where we thought were going.

I'm am constantly amazed about the fact that one door will close, sometimes be slammed closed, in my face.  I could stand in front of that door being shocked, hurt to the point of crying or maybe even happy that door closed.  I know now there is another door waiting to open.  I may open it with hesitation and reluctance, in most cases I just open it and plunge inside.  I never know what will be behind that door.  Can I waste time worrying about that?  Can I waste time standing at the door that was closed in my face?  The answer to both questions is "NO",  I just rush through that door.  I am not easily held back.  It is not to say that I didn't stumble across the threshold on more than one occasion.  I have a few scars on my knees (heart) because of those falls.  Those were lessons in my life and I hope I'm stronger because of them. 
Way back, when I was just living life, being a Mom and wife.  I probably spent too much time worrying about things I had no control over.  It is so much easier now to just go with the flow.  I am grateful that at last I am learning that lesson.  It's amazing when I open a new door now I am looking for the pleasure of new adventures and wonderful friends that will enter my life with such ease.  Life is AMAZING! 

I say decorate your doors with beautiful wreaths and flower gardens as you walk the path to the next door, open the door and be joyful!  Your next new adventure is about to happen, ready or not! 

Monday, April 5, 2010


I'm a farm girl, there are not too many things that bother me.  As I journey through this life, I understand that everything interconnects with everything else.  Everything we do impacts something that we may not even see with our eyes.  You cannot move a log on the forest floor without disturbing and impacting another life from.  My favorite saying, Touch the Earth Gently, not an easy task.

I wanted to share my experiences with the common garter snake.  I am not afraid of them, I respect snakes, but not afraid.  I remember when I was a little girl, we lived in a big woods (this might be why I love trees today).  We heated our house with a big furnace that burned wood and coal.  We spent Saturdays cutting wood to feed that furnace.  One spring my mother pulled open a drawer of her Singer Sewing machine and coiled among the spools of thread was a beautiful little garter snake, did we bring that little snake into the house when we disturbed it's home in the woods?    She shrieked and I couldn't wait to hold it in my hands.  My appreciation for snakes began then.  I also believe that animals that present themselves to you, have a message for you.  The characteristics of that animal are something you might need to recognize in your life at that time.  I very much like the idea of this, it's as if the animals are really talking to me.

The summer my studio cats were kittens,(they are three now) they found and played with a garter snake about ten inches long.  I rescued this little guy from a sure death.  He had a little injury but nothing serious.  I put him in a box to rest.  I planned on releasing him later, I knew my grandchildren were coming and I wanted to show them the snake.  I went to the computer to make sure I had a garter snake, I also wanted to be knowledgeable about the information I was going to share with my grandchildren.  I learned something about their habits and so on.  I learned they will bite and the long reaching tongue is "smelling" the air.  If you are bitten the article said, it is like being stung by a bee, you may or may not have a reaction to the bite.  I'd never even thought of being bitten, I knew to grasp them just behind the head and they wouldn't be able to get to you.

You should have see my grandsons faces when I uncovered the box with the snake.  They were even more amazed when I reached in and caught the snake just behind the head.  My little snake friend had rested well and he was not in the mood to be bothered again!  His long soft body flipped around, the boys touched him and to them, I was certainly the bravest Grandma in the whole world!   And then it happened, the little feisty garter snake got his head around and bit my thumb!  Not only did he bite me, he wouldn't let go!  The boys backed away and looked at me in disbelief!  Trisha was ready to shield her children from this crazed snake!  Or maybe a crazed Grandmother!  I calmly needed to get this little garter snake to let go of my thumb and not frighten anyone in the process.  I gently lifted his mouth open and must have lessened my grip behind his head, because he reached around better and bit me again!  No kidding!  Everyone was slowing backing away for this little ten inch garter snake and the crazy Grandma holding him!  I finally got his little mouth off my thumb and put him back in the box.  We then had a great ceremony of releasing this ornery little snake under the cover of pine trees and in the flower gardens gone wild.  Whew, what an experience!  I was either the craziest or the bravest Grandma in the whole world that day!

A few weeks later those same kittens found another garter snake, this one was lots bigger.  I rescued him without much effort and he was immediately freed away from the kittens.  Funny that they would find two in our back yard.  I can't say that I see them often.  I know they are there for a reason, helping to keep my gardens in balance by eating things that I might not need in my flower beds.

Later the next month I was cleaning up the grounds where the tipi was going to be raised.  I took the gator out to pickup all the firewood that was left from the year before.  I wanted to mow the grounds, it is easier to move everything and mow the grounds and replace campfire wood.  The wood sat in the gator a couple days before I got back to finishing the project.  I unloaded the wood, stacking it neatly in a pile.  I removed the last log and under this log was the biggest garter snake I'd ever seen!  I didn't pick him up, not interested in getting bitten again!  I backed the gator down to the tree line in our little horse pasture, opened the tailgate and dumped him out.  One of the things I remember the most was how blue his eyes were and how calm he was.  I wonder now if he was in a transformation state, shedding his old skin, a time of rebirth and growth.  Was this the message I was suppose to get from my these three snakes?  I started thinking about the fact that we were moving into an new season, changes were happening in my art and around me.  Was I also shedding my skin, moving in new direction, growing, and learning?  It may have been..... I haven't seen a garter snake in my garden or woodpile since.  I'm glad I listened to my snake friends, I really didn't need them to keep getting bigger when they came to me.  Sometimes I think my lessons are shown to me in little ways, if I don't seem to get them, they are shown to me in bigger ways.  I know it always happens when I am ready, in my own time.

Lessons come to us in many ways, I like trying to figure it all out.  My wonderful husband says that I hurt his head by thinking about things like this.  I laugh and continue to listen to the critters that come my way, they have messages to share..........

Photo:  upper left, Punkin' Patch, the hunter kitty
            lower right, Spirit Kitty,  the Queen

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring Shedding

It's not easy discussing your in-securities in a blog.  Oh, we all have them.   Alas, it is a part of who we are, we don't usually share them with the world.  When I was young, school age, I believe I was very shy.  I remember being afraid of my teachers, trying to hide in the classroom.  Fearing that I wouldn't know the answer when called upon.  I tend to panic when put on the spot.  That is still a problem today.  I have learned to just laugh at myself.   Admitting  that I don't know the answer or that I have serious trouble keeping the drum beat when playing my Native American style flute.  It makes my life easier.  Maybe I am overcoming some insecurities, maybe not.

Don't even ask me give a speech to a crowd, I don't seem to have a talent to memorize things.  I panic when I see people looking and waiting for me to begin, anything I might have remembered has escaped.  Taking tests in school was very difficult.   I could have notes about the speech and wouldn't be able to read them.  Something happens to my eyes, they blur, the words run together.  Is this normal?

Interestingly enough, I can talk to a group.  The things I talk about are things I am comfortable with, I could talk gourds all day if you were interested.   Oh, did I mention I love everything about the Native American Flute and could share and encourage anyone to try it.  And horses, oh I so love talking about horses and the thrills of racing down some wooded trail!  Someone who hears me talking about these things would never guess about the terrors I harbor.

I think some of my insecurities come from my need to just be casual.  I am not a formal kind of girl.  I don't often dress up, I don't need pretty clothes to create artwork or live on a farm.  I hate to shop and never seem to have anything to wear.  I am happy in black pants, probably a black shirt and comfortable shoes.  I am trying to stay invisible.  Now spring is coming and I fear I cannot wear black all summer.  I must think about short sleeve shirts and sandals.  I'm in a panic, I have to shed my old winter clothes for something lighter. I'm feeling exposed and insecure again.  I think of myself as a snake shedding my old skin.  I wonder if snakes fear this transformation too.....

Photo:  Me riding a pony at the fair, all dressed up!  5yrs. old.   LOL

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring Storms

You know I always forget about the spring winds and storms, that is until they suddenly appear after a wonderful warm spell of sunshine and calm breezes.  Today is one such day.  It gives everyone in our area a little bit of an uneasy feeling.  Back in 1974 on April 4th at 4:30 in the afternoon, the winds were very destructive.  Xenia had a big tornado go through town.  Many were killed and much of Xenia was destroyed.  To this day the people that were witness to this storm are still effected in some way.  The worst is that we have had two others since then, that traveled nearly the same path.  The last two weren't as severe as the '74 toronado.  It is too close for comfort, we live only a quarter of a mile from where these storms have passed each time.

I remember that day well, we lived in a little rented house with our son who was two at the time.  I was also babysitting another little boy, he was maybe four and both boys were taking a nap that afternoon.  I had never had any experience with tornado's, don't recall even hearing much about them.  That particular day was strange, it was kind of warm as I recall.  For some reason I kept watching out the windows, things just weren't right.  The color was off, the air was heavy and there was a quiet calm.  It has been a long time now, but I do remember thinking it very strange. 

We live on slightly rolling to flat land here in Greene County.  Trees obstruct views, you can't see as far as you'd like sometimes.  I kept watching the west window, I could see the darkness from far off, it didn't feel normal.  It was dark and wide and yet didn't look like any storm cloud I'd ever seen.  (this tornado was a quarter of a mile wide)

I decided to wake up the boys and go to the basement.  Richard hadn't come home from teaching yet, it wasn't uncommon for him not to be home yet and I wasn't really worried.  I just felt going to the basement was a good idea.  We didn't have alarms and radio and TV bulletins back in 1974.  I don't remember watching the windows after we went to the basement.  The little four year old I was watching was afraid and I assured him that we were fine, we were in the house, nothing was going to happen.  Little did I know that his home was being destroyed in Xenia as I tried to comfort him.

Richard came home, finally.  We came out of the basement and everything seemed to be fine outside.  The color of the late afternoon sky was normal and the heaviness seemed to be gone.  That is also when I found out about the Tornado.  We of course had no idea how bad it really was.

I know that the tornado left Xenia in a eastward direction.  It came right down Conley Road, which is only a quarter mile from where we live now and it is also the road which my Dad's farm is located.  The tornado totally destroyed a home and dairy barn and a small house on this road.  From that farm the toronado made a slight south shift, which saved the historical Whitelaw Reid homestead and my father's farm.  All of our farms fences were smashed flat to the ground.  There was wavy tin from farm roofs hanging in trees, there were dead farm animals and homes were gone that stood only moments before.

I don't remember when I first drove the streets of Xenia......... it was weeks later.  I'd never seen anything like it, all the normal landmarks were gone.  The newspaper posted pictures of tumbled over homes and places of business that were destroyed.  The stories from personal experiences were shocking.  It was amazing more weren't killed.

We had to walk the farm fields in a row with a tractor and wagon between us, picking up debris.  My Dad found a $100. bill.  Boy did we all start looking a little harder for things on the ground after that!  Today I can still see tin roofing in the trees between our house and Xenia. 

The native people used to call this area "Devil Winds", no reason to believe that has changed.   Now you know why people in Xenia, Ohio get a little nervous when the winds pick up this time of year.  I keep a good watch out the windows and say some prayers.

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's in the Air!

Spring is here........   full steam ahead, it is April.  The flowers are now blooming, grass is greener and the forest floor is showing some signs of green too.  This is the first layer of spring that I love to watch.  The next layer of green in the forest is from the underbrush, there is an order to these things.  Soon the trees will begin to leaf out, we'll see the redbuds first.  My friend wrote about how she loves the redbuds and dogwoods.  She is from the Ozarks and I've been there when the redbuds and dogwoods bloom, it is a wonderful sight.  It was like enjoying two springs.  Our spring in Ohio always comes later than in Arkansas.

When we went to Washington DC last weekend, their redbuds were just bursting out.  The cherry blossoms were not yet at their peek, I suspect this week is a different story.  I also noticed a tulip tree ready to pop open with it's beautiful blooms while there too.  We must be a week behind Washington DC in our order of spring.

Another note that spring has come in our center of the world, the farmers are cleaning their barns.  I have opened the windows for the fresh air and am greeted by perfume from the neighbor spreading cow manure in the field in front of our house.  I have never understood why people move to the country if they don't appreciate farm smells!  There are other farm smells I love more, corn in August just as it begins to tassel, fresh cut hay and the scent of rain before it actually arrives.

Spring also is a time for all the babies, baby calves are born.  I love seeing new foals playing in a field together and nothing is more fun than sheep and goats ponging around!  You have to look harder to see the wild babies.  Fawns are often hidden, but a couple years ago my nosy Lab found one in our little cover of trees near our tipi.  I went to see what on earth the bleating noise was and discovered a very frightened fawn.  Jessie was banned from the trees and all was well.  Yesterday, I saw seven deer crossing our little horse pasture, I'll bet that fawn was one of them. 

If you have read any other posts by me, you know I am a big bird fan.  I love seeing the birds pair up and start their nesting process.  I already have a robin building a nest at the front door on the light fixture.  The good is she likes it there and I can watch the progress, the bad is the mess they create and the fear that they will accidentally come in the house if I leave the door open.  Especially stressful for the robin, turning the light on at night!  I will just be more careful for the next 6 weeks and allow her to proceed with her job.  I will almost hold my breath waiting to hear the first Northern Oriole sing in my trees.   They always nest here and I love having them.  Many times their nests will be found on a branch that has broken and fallen, it is made of horse hair woven together to make a beautiful basket for their eggs and later baby birds, totally amazing to me!  I would love swinging in that horsehair basket watching all that is going on in the back yard of our little world in the early summer.

Yes, spring is in the air and I am thrilled to experience the sights, the smells and the warmth of the sun!