When your relationship sours, sometimes you gotta go home

Well my friends, it is time to move on.  I have been hanging out with the big kids at WordPress for a couple of months now, and I have to say “It’s just not working”.  I could say, “It’s not you, it’s me”.  Any way you look at it, I found that writing and publishing on this venue was troublesome and problematic.  I originally switched from Blogspot because I was attracted by all the fancy bells and whistles offered here, but alas it was not meant to be.  I am taking my knapsack and moving back home to Blogspot.  Hopefully, you will follow me there.  Once again, I will try to present a thoughtful narrative, but with a strong nod to humour  and whimsy;)  We gotta have more Lightness in the world.  So without further ado, I am off.  Come visit me at

http://summerhillstilllife.blogspot.com

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Michael Moore and Jian Ghomeshi: revealing injustice

I love listening to Jian Ghomeshi on the CBC.  His show Q has a line-up of guests that rival Howard Stern, but Jian is less controversial.  Jian does not need to provoke or shock, he is well read and well spoken.  He is a news junkie and is able to translate his observations into solid and thoughtful points of discussion with his guests.  Through his research and preparedness he often elicits stories from his guests that may not have been heard before.

This happened yesterday when he interviewed Michael Moore, the American author and filmmaker who made headlines with his books/films like Stupid White Men, Bowling for Columbine and Downsize This.  He also won an academy award for Bowling for Columbine and this was his memorable acceptance speech.

Wow.  Jian asked Moore if there was a pivotal moment in his childhood that forever challenged him to be this passionate and controversial voice.  Moore paused then in a softer voice recounted a story that occurred in his 18th year.  Michael Moore was voted in as the youngest school board trustee ever in The United States.  His platform included the desire to fire his vice principal, whom he said was a tyrant.  Moments from his high school graduation, he and his fellow classmates were lined up for inspection by the VP.  This man proceeded to check that under every gown, each male student was sporting a tie.  The boy standing in front of Michael was pulled from the line because the VP said that his western string tie did not fit the criteria, and therefore he would not allow him to graduate.  The student was shamed and sent home.  He was not allowed to graduate with his class.  Moore said that he was devastated.

This became the moment that he said to himself never again.  Never again will he allow an injustice occur in his presence, or knowledge without responding.  This was the fuel that has carried Moore into sometimes dangerous territory.  He and his family have been repeatedly threatened, and a bomb plot was uncovered as well.

We are supposedly living in a highly civilized time, yet Moore and others like him are putting their lives on the line when they stand up to fight injustice or to express their opinions.  Thankfully, in Canada we are much more tolerant of dissenting views, yet so many are afraid to take a stand on an issue because they don’t want to offend.  I would offer that that borders on laziness and self-protection.  We don’t need to beat our opponents over the head or bash their reputations, but surely we can take a moment to offer our own insights and concerns around issues that affect us.

Lets remember to take a look at what really counts;  and in my mind it is about being human.  It is about wanting the same things for my neighbour as for me. Really , don’t we all want the same things: to find happiness, good health, safe  water and food, a safe place to live, good friends, a loving family and hopefully  to be able express our individual nature through our employment?

Each one of us has the same responsibility as Michael Moore has avowed.  We don’t need to make movies or write books, but we can start to look at each other as ONE.  We are not separate creatures here.  We are all from the same Source.  

Just for laughs!

I received a great email from  Aunt Anne yesterday.  I am humbled once again…a dog surfs, snowboards and skateboards better than most people!  He must be a reincarnated  Beach Boy to show them skills!   Have fun with this, Happy Tuesday:)

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=cqxTUxzOceE&feature=youtube_gdata_plaJ

animal wisdom

About this time last year I made the trek to Montreal to see Emily.  I was really excited to have a mother/daughter weekend in such a vibrant city like Montreal.  The day had been long, driving my truck loaded with more furniture for Emily’s apartment, carrying it up 2 flights of stairs in the rain, checking into the hotel, taking a breath then out for dinner.

No sooner had we arrived at the restaurant, both looking forward to a girly cocktail, I received a call from Pat saying that I needed to come home. ” WHAT?! I just got here!” I shrieked into the phone…yes, I shrieked. I was tired and knew instantly that he would not have called if there wasn’t a good reason.   “What happened?”.  He said that Bella, my then 5 year old mare had had an accident and got caught up in the wire fencing.  The vet had already been out and gave her pain relief, dressed the gaping wound that stretched the whole inside of her hind leg, and administered antibiotics. Ugh!  I knew that I wanted to be home to see her, but another part of me just wanted to leave it with Pat for the weekend so that I could be with Em…sigh…o’k.

Emily and I had a great night together and the next morning I set off to drive home.  I found Bella with her leg in full wrap, standing quietly in the run in.  She seemed to know that it was serious.  The vet came later that day and he showed me how to unwrap, irrigate, and dress the wound.  Burk, a friend of ours who happens to raise Clydesdale’s, came over to show me how to give the daily injection.  I felt so unprepared for this new level of care for my horse, yet like giving birth, there is no going back.

From September to December, I had Bella in the cross ties each morning.  She allowed me to unwrap, clean and dress her wound.  She was patient and quiet.  Sometimes I would drop the roll of gauze or the outer wrap, she would look back at me in acknowledgement and sigh.  Weekly, I saw improvements but they were incrementally small.  By mid December the wound had healed enough to let her out without a dressing.  She seemed to sense a shift and when she and Redford were let out that morning they ran like they had never run before.  It was quite beautiful to watch.


Even though I was disappointed that my fall riding season had been cut short I had been delivered an exquisite opportunity to bond with my horse.  Until we moved to Summerhill, Bella and Redford had always been boarded.  I had never been involved in daily care, let alone nurse a serious injury.  The injury to Bella created a situation where we both learned to trust one another.  She grew to know that I would care for her wounds with  gentleness and care.  I grew to know that she would allow me to fumble with bandages, give injections and work underneath her great girth. We were probably both daunted by our new roles.

Mucking stalls this morning, I realized that the injury was the turning point in our relationship.   Bella  allowed herself to be vulnerable in my presence; not so easy with flight animals.  I allowed myself to show her that I had faith in her as I moved about her underbelly.  We both established a deep level of trust.  I think instinctively we both know that we would manage, but it required the whole duration of the trauma to solidify our roles.

She knows now that I would always have her best interests at heart.  It  also changed the way I ride her.  I am a better rider because I instinctively watch for her signals of discomfort, frustration or just sheer laziness.  Each and every interaction, an opportunity to grow.  Each, an opportunity to demonstrate that I understand.

It also occurred to me that humans require the same degree of authentic interaction in order to grant trust.

Seinfeld and Mr.Peterman are real…I know! It’s true!

I just came across the J.Peterman catalogue on-line last night and went about reading almost all of it.  Who reads a catalogue?  Everyone that reads J.Peterman!  Who remembers the recurring role of Mr.Peterman on Seinfeld as Elaine’s boss? This will refresh things for you…

The J.Peterman catalogue offers clothing and accessories for inspired travelling.  It reads like a Hemingway novel and you are drawn in to the fictional world of the characters presented in the catalogue.  It is brilliant!  This is what I have picked out for Pat.

Heirloom.

Heirloom Gladstone Bag

Try looking in the attic first.
You don’t have one? Then it’s time maybe to go to the secret barn. Somewhere there is one.

And it’s filled with everything.

Look…there under that huge pile of saddles and hats…it seems to be the hood of a car. Oh no. It’s the Packard. It’s the 12-cylinder Packard convertible somebody (Emily?) once drove across the country. The doors are locked.

…but inside the car seems to be stuffed with old clocks, framed oil paintings, a leopard skin, books, boots, brass fishing reels, stamp albums…

You can’t take it all in. At the other end of the barn you notice a marble table, a beautiful slim-wheeled two-seat carriage, a stack of a dozen carved chairs, a leather trunk…it’s all too much at once…

You trip on something. What is it? A leather suitcase of some kind. You lift it by its handles. It has old European hotel stickers on it. You grab it and practically run…you’ll come back to the barn some other time…

In broad daylight you examine it. A beautiful, mellow old leather Gladstone. (That’s what they used to call them.) Rather defiantly and ruggedly old-fashioned looking. Strong enough to go down the Nile, across the Alps, through the Canal, over the oceans, but still small enough to carry aboard a plane. A thing like this would cost a fortune these days…

This is what I have picked out.

Man Seeking Woman.

1940s Cord DressBetween the ages of 25 and older.

Attractive, confident, stylish. Has known at least one positive male role model. Must like French cooking, Etta James, Broadway, movies made between 1937-66, disturbing literature, spirited horses. Ability to pack light. Open to impromptu world travel.

Willing to be seen in this. Often.

1940s Cord Dress (No. 2856). Shawl collar, three-quarter length sleeves with turned down back cuffs. Ultraplush 21-wale cotton corduroy. Large self-fabric belt with buttons down the front. Made for snappy dialogue and romantic innuendo. What you wear when you have all the best lines.

1940s Cord Dress

Work, parties, dinner, dancing, slow fade.

The items cost as much as a flight to Paris, but a girl can dream.  Have fun reading the catalogue at J.Peterman.com!

good-byes and circle of life

Yesterday I was listening to the CBC and Mary Hynes did a segment on good-byes.  The first short documentary was following a young mother as she worked through the emotions of saying good-bye to her one year old daughter, in order to have a break and go away with her girlfriends.   The event more difficult because she had never left her daughter, ever!  Not even with her husband.

The second story was about a woman who was an empty nester.  She was having difficulty dealing with her empty house.  In essence, dealing with the notion of saying good-bye to her years as an active mother.

The third segment was a story about death.  It poignantly described how a group of women, on the request of their best friends husband, prepare the newly deceased body for viewing and burial.  Interestingly, this story was the most uplifting because the women shared with their best friend the most intimate and sacred acts.  It was a confirmation of life in all its forms. 

Waking up before the sun,  I drove Emily to the train station in Stratford.  She was only with us over-night.  As the other passengers were loading we hugged, kissed and said our I love you’s.  Not good-bye.  Oddly as I walked away from the train, I was overwhelmed with joy.  Emily was not leaving me, she was going towards someone else in her life.  Someone that compels her to walk on air and smile deeply.  Why would I want to keep her from that?  It’s all good.


Fresh food, fast: kale a la Gwyneth Paltrow

I am really trying to be charitable here….but when someone names their kids Apple and Moses and they don’t live in a commune, extract juice from a tree,  or make their own clothes out of hemp; –it is therefore difficult for me to take the beautiful, love-child Gwyneth seriously.  I will admit that she is a good actress, o’k and she is an Oscar winner and I am more like an Oscar weiner, but none-the-less whenever I hear her interviewed she sounds kind of silly(unlike me of course!).

All this has changed as of last night, when I decided to take her advice and crisp up kale like a potato chip.  We eat a lot of kale in this house because it is deemed a superfood, packed with all sorts of vitamins, minerals, is a natural detoxifier, and allows for greater absorption of Calcium.  I heard Gwyneth interviewed and she said that she makes kale chips all the time for her family.  I decided to try it because Pat and I love chips and I was hoping that this might be a really good alternative…and it is!!!

Simply pull the leafy part away from the stem of the kale and wash

Toss in olive oil and bake on a cookie sheet for 10-15minutes at 350(depends on your oven).  When done add sea salt and serve.  They are really yummy, even my dearest Pat said that he would like them regularly as a snack.  So there you have it, I am expanding my world view on food and  of Ms.Paltrow.  I am officially humbled by kale and Gwyneth Paltrow;)

photo journal: dog days of fall

Start of the walk, Cally is looking forward— (to it!)

Today has been driving rain, sunshine, wind, calm and breezy….typical fall weather

Our neighbours have finished cutting hay.  Next up…combining of beans and corn.

Milkweed:Milkweed is the host plant for the monarch butterfly. As the monarch larva consumes the milkweed leaves, it also retains the cardiac glycosides making the monarch toxic to predators. butterflyencounters.com  Cool!

The apples I pick along the way are always a highlight of our walk for me…

and Cally!

Imagine the possibilities

We have all heard the phrase “Dance like no-one is watching”.  Any of you out there that have seen me dance know that I take this to heart!  Not that I purposefully set out to be a somewhat discombobulated dance fiend, it just turned out that way.  My friends husband said that I am the only person he knows that the top half doesn’t seem to know what the bottom half is doing…should I be offended, or sign up for adult Irish Dancing, or better yet “clogging”! ?

I thought about all the other areas of life that we should heed this same advice, but substitute dancing for fashion, home decorating, art, architecture, cooking, ….etc.  How much more creative and inventive would we be if we explored our own inspirations, all the time?  I catch myself sometimes with a moment of judgement when I am about to wear/paint/sew… something a little unexpected.  The best feeling is when I do it anyway because it feels right. 

The next time you find yourself second guessing your own ability to create or are insecure as to how much of your true self to show to the world, stop!  Shake it off, dance it off if need be, but go ahead and pull out those aspects of yourself that want to be seen and heard.  The most inspiring people we come across don’t apologize for being themselves.

It is ART in its highest form, it is authentic and it is personified.

Just so that you know; I write like no one is reading.  Ha!  …and some days, that’s true!

life throws lessons at the oddest times

I have read many times that there are always opportunities to learn and grow, if we are open to the lessons.  Well today I did something I have never done before, and am very happy about it…I galloped my horse, Bella!!!  O’k not earth-shattering but to me it was like bungy jumping off a bridge!  Very scary, and the outcome would be kinda unknown.  You might cry, you might poop your pants,…that kind of thing.

I have seen lots of competitions and events where the riders move their horses into a gallop, but I never really knew what it felt like…I like a “nice controlled canter” ;).  As you all know, my new name could be Little Safety Suzie.  I am all about safety these days.

The reason I was able to do it is because last week I had someone at my farm show me.  Not intentionally.  We had a horse (Dakota) here for a few weeks on trial,  hoping that it would be a good safe horse for Pat.  Wrong!  The horse was a maniac!   The facility that we had him from sent the barn manager and her assistant to come and take him home.  Dakota was so wild, that they had to ride “the stink” out of him so that he would be calm enough to load.  I am watching the insanity in my riding ring (a few times the horse would rear and be back on his hind legs)  As soon as I heard the instructor tell her assistant to put Dakota into a gallop, my attention was immediately piqued.  This is like getting to the Olympics!  O’k not really, but kind of…for me!  I watched intently, as the student confidently went from trot, to canter to hand gallop, then gallop.  It was awesome to see this difficult horse respond.  I was thankful that I decided against Dakota for Pat;), thankful that I paid to have the owners come and pick him up, and thankful that I grasped a lesson for myself out of all the drama and chaos.

Sometimes that happens.

I went out to the barn this morning with the intention to gallop Bella, and I did!  It wasn’t so scary after all.  The best part was that in my head, I was at The Olympics!  I won!

So this is my humble advice:  throw caution to the wind(safely!), be open to the lessons for your life, and then try something you have never done before. Who knows where that will take you!  Happy Day.