Saturday, June 18, 2011

weed until you find berry birds and bees

I weeded my tomato garden and thought I would show it off. After all, it was quite a task. I have pig-weed and chick-weed that grows like mad in my garden space.

My old farmer neighbor Shirl says, " if you don't have weeds growin' then it ain't no place to grow anything else." I like when he says that. I turn it all philosophical. (Of course.) I think about being blessed with what I have, and those weeds, those annoyances, they are there to remind me that I am truly living. The earth is fertile and so is my existence. I can grow my creativity, or relationships or tomatoes, but I have to remember when I manifest those things in my life, I have to accept what comes with them. It is about accepting the totality of life. Not just the round-red-fruit parts, but the weeds-that-crop-up-and-eat-up-my-energy parts as well. They both are necessary. Infertile land gives birth to nothing, not even weeds.

Of course, experience and careful planning does help keep some of those weeds from ever popping up.

stake and tomato
I am afraid we have run out of stakes for our tomatoes!

holy plastic staked tomatoes and blueberry (the dog)
 Here is the part of the garden yet to weed. I have my three pole bean teepees up. I love structure in a garden. I also love green. Everything here is so green now.

three pole bean teepees
green beans
lettuce tower
Perhaps it was the heat, but some of my romaine lettuce started to grow straight up all of a sudden. It still tastes delicious and we are getting spoiled with a super fresh salad every night. It looks like Jack's beanstock growing up to the sky.

Maybe this is how lettuce prays.

lettuce tower patch
This is my favorite time of the year. I can go outside and pick my food. There is no better satisfaction for me. I have partnered with the earth and it has thanked me.

For example, the raspberries are in season! Tonight I did the berry picking by myself. I harvested much more than last evening when I had Sophia "helping" me. She ate one picked one. I don't blame her, they are so good. I hope when she gets older, she remembers berry picking and eating them straight off the bush. I remember picking wild blueberries in New England when I was a girl. Perhaps that is why I have a sense of melancholy, when the berries come.

waves of ripeness
plump and sweet
today's harvest
Look what was hiding in the berry patch...

the secret hideout
bird's nest in the berry briars
I think this belongs to the chickadees. They eat at my bird feeder. The pair must have some fledglings nearby. They talk to each other the whole time I am there picking. They stay very close and watch me. It gives me a little song in my heart knowing that they are there living in the berry patch. We share the berries, the birds and I.

Earlier today I was stung by a honey bee. It must have got inside of my boot and got trapped. It stung me on the inside of my foot on the side of the arch. I took my boot off and sure enough a bee and a bee bite. I was laughing and I looked at Rusty and said, "honey bee stings really don't hurt that bad, I can totally keep bees."

Well, I went inside and checked my email, because I had advertised my LaMancha buck for sale. A guy immediately answered the add and came over. We got to talking about goats and cows and farming. He really appreciated our farm. He loved Earl, my Nanny goats and the chickens. Then he mentioned he is a bee-keeper. He has a bunch of bee boxes and he goes to people's houses and captures swarms or hives that are unwanted and brings them home, or to his circle of bee-keeping friends. So, I get all excited and tell him about my bees in the old Victorian house we own and how I have always wanted to keep bees. So he gets all excited when he sees the house and the propolis soaking through the clapboard. We start talking bees. Now he is going to set me up with a hive box and Rusty and I are going to go help him do a huge honey harvest. His nickname is Red. So if I talk about Red in the future you know. My son is a redhead. Gotta love 'em.

So the freak honey bee sting and my announcement to Rusty (and the universe) happens, then poof... a bee keeping buddy lands here.

Oh, and Rusty says getting stung by a bee might help my arthritis a little.  :-) Imagine.

A great day for the birds and the bees. A bad day for the weeds. A great day for crow.

Keep weedin'

Friday, June 17, 2011

the thing...

I went to see the Doctor yesterday. First thing he does is look at my face and says, "Does that thing bother you?"  I look at him and say, "No it doesn't bother me." I think to myself, "Should the thing bother me? He has only seen me at least 25 times. Does he need to make a little extra cash out of me for a thing removal?

Here it is under my lower lip... the thing --

the thing

The hair you see is from my head. My facial hair is down to a dull roar these days. ;-) But there it is. There I am warts and all. I don't think it is a wart, but you get what I am saying. I am not very much into vanity. I have some make-up that I used once, since I bought it four or five months ago. I get a hair cut every once in awhile, and I am thinking about letting my hair just gray in naturally with my dark brown hair. One less consumer of dark brown toxic waste, I figure.

Back to that Doctor. After we are done discussing the thing I tell him about my knees. I tell him they have been bothering me since my twenties (I'm in my late forties) and that they have been really bothering me lately. Swelling and.... He stops me there and yells to somebody to x-ray both knees. OK great. I will see what is up. I have already discussed with him at previous appointments about my weakness and numbness in my hands, my back, blah-dee-da, which I am sure he doesn't remember. I also have brought up the possibility of Rheumatoid Arthritis (I had an Aunt who had it) but he said even if I had it there was nothing I could do but manage the pain.

He certainly never reads my chart. It is always like I am seeing him for the first time. He kept calling me Rueshell (like it was my first name). I didn't bother correcting him. After sometime, I meet him in his office. He throws the x-rays up in the light box on the wall and says, "arthritis" throws the other x-ray up "here too. He speaks to me in a way that makes me feel like I have hysterical woman syndrome, or I like I am looking for a fix of Oxycontin. "Take Ibuprofen three times a day for a week, then stop and use it when you are in pain." I say, "My knees make a pop...." He interrupts, and says "Of course it hurts!" "Arthritis hurts!" I give up and just shake my head in agreement, thinking about yet again, trying to find a physician that sees me as a whole person. I do get my prescriptions filled. But I have to tell him, one by one what I take, while he talks to his computer about error codes. I repeat myself a few times. Later, at the pharmacy, I find out he has forgotten the whatever milligram Ibuprofen tablets he said he was prescribing me. Whatever. Before I leave his office, I am cringing inside and remind him that I need to get a recheck on my right breast. They found a thing there and want to watch it. I tell him that they told me (I have the paper) that they want to do a mammogram and an ultrasound to compare the thing from six months ago. No, I am not taking a picture of that thing and posting it here! ha-ha! He says I don't need both (not reading my chart) so I refresh his memory, "No, they told me in six months I need both a mammogram and a sonogram to recheck. He says OK then you need to schedule one. I said "I need a referral." At this point I scream inside my head: DEAR BABY JESUS HELP ME! No disrespect, I was just asking for some extreme pure and divine intervention. So he hands me what he hand me and tells me to come back in September. I go to the receptionist's desk. She starts asking me about my breast, loud enough for the whole waiting room to hear. I felt like just lifting my shirt up and saying "here, have a look." She calls to make my appointment and tells the lady I have been there before and proceeds to spell my last name incorrectly. I say nothing. She hands me the referral and I leave. A three hour tour.

I am not mad at Doctors. My step-dad is one, and my Mom is a midwife. Well, they are both retired now. But I do know what good care is. If I have to work that hard to get my name right, I don't think I should put my trust in any sort of care. I wish I had my old Doctor, Doris.  I gave her one of my paintings when I moved. She LOVED it and told me she wanted to be on the guest list of my first Art Gallery Opening. She saw me through quite a bit.

Anyway. My insurance company got ripped off. But I need to get the mammogram and sonogram done, so I need to follow through and get 'er done.

One thing I know, I have been healed of many ailments. Self healed, here in the mountains. It has knocked quite a bit of inner turmoil right out, and my body has responded favorably. Except for these darn knees. But I walk up and down the hill, visualizing my legs getting stronger, and as I milk my goat I visualize my hands healing. A natural daily farm physical therapy, where I am the therapist. My kids, my Rusty, my land, my animals and myself are a force that keeps me up and going. I am too young for all of this sick business.

Maybe the thing will someday just fall off my face. :-)

Thanks goes out to Eden, from Edenland for the close-up picture. She is so brave with her photos and never fails to crack me up. She takes pictures of herself in the most precarious situations. She is brave with the camera. So she has inspired me to post an enlarged photo of the thing. I dedicate the photo to her.

Well, out to weed the garden. I am sure it is much more pleasant than it was earlier, in the heat of the afternoon.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


It is the full moon and it has me wanting to get into the paint. I haven't painted in a while (other than walls.) I have been too busy being a farmer lady. Spring sure has been a busy time here.

But I have been painting in my head... a painting of Earl, my donkey.

I took up painting in my early 30s. I had to paint. I couldn't get out all that was stirring inside of me, verbally, On some auto-pilot of knowing, I bought some paints.

This is my first painting, ever.

the tree

Objectively, or as objective as I can be 15 years later, I am going to take a deeper look.

Let's start with the paint. Obviously, the only paint colors I worked with were black and white. Colors would have been too brave a venture for me. If  I could have used only black, I probably would have at the time. It took me days and days to finish the painting. I was so stiff. It is a dark painting, as far as composition, but it still does have some light. The light source is not visible. There is no sun, no moon, but there is illuminated clouds by something. (My later spiritual paintings all seem to include a moon or a light.) Perhaps, at that time, I was holding out hope for hope. The light was there, even though I couldn't see it and even if I didn't call it light.

The ground cover in the painting is indiscriminate. I suppose it is a grass, but obviously it wasn't important at the time. Not much time was used to develop some sort of landscaping. Perhaps I looked down too much back then and it all was just a blur.

The subject was a tree. It was growing at some point. I am not sure if the tree was supposed to be alive or dead when I painted it. Obviously, it is broken. The severity of damage to the tree is extreme. Perhaps a lightning strike, or something that took the whole top trunk off. Something catastrophic happened. Again, I have no recollection. I am not sure if I was even feeling at the time. But the branches, there are many, and most are reaching up. I addition, I notice that the tree is not centered, between light and dark. It is off on the lighter side. Also, the sky takes up a larger area than the land. Broken tree under a big sky.

About the title, The Tree, I think what I would name it today: The Woman Broken.

I do remember when I was finished painting, I could not believe that I had painted this. I do remember that. I also remember staring at it for hours. I think a couple of people said to me, "I didn't know you could paint." I didn't either. It was quite a leap. I must have been at the brink of insanity to even try.

I could have also been on the cusp of bold. The Tree was the marker of the beginning. Like a landmark. I had just got into therapy and was ripping through my past and present. They were, of course, intertwined. I was in a very bad place. I was in a bad marriage. I won't go into detail about it, but it was as unhealthy as it gets.

I kept painting. After it was suggested that I paint "normal" things, I gave it a good shot. But it was disjointed and forced. I kept painting past the criticism. I painted through the ups and downs, my hand grasping the paintbrush like I was holding onto a ledge. If I let go, I would fall and die.

I painted about death, and of blood and of memories. Bad memories. I painted through the worst of times, I painted through therapy and group. I painted with other women, who were in different stages of life, but with similar bad memories. .

Once you know you are in a hole, it is your job on getting yourself out out. And so I began digging my way out of my hole. Not easy, but that is when the boldness kicked in. I made extreme changes. I found the light and I named it as such.

Before I go any further, I want to come back to tonight's full moon and to the paint. I am going to dig in again. But this time, I want to celebrate within my paintings. Yesterday, Chris from Grow Fish Eat made a comment;
"That last shot of Sling staring out of the window has a surreal look about it. Reminded me of some of Michael Sowa's paintings.."
He was talking about this picture:

the room upstairs

Of course, I do need to keep painting. And, I need to paint about now. This photo, and others like it here on my blog, pretty much capture my essence now. Living life as close to nature as I can, with a sense of purpose and humor.

I will loosen up my grip on that paintbrush this time 'round and add some color and flavor, and sprinkle a bit of whimsy. I had been thinking about different angles to paint Earl. A donkey painting is not anything what I would have painted before, with the exception of the below which is a rendition of my old cat Sage. It is a very folk art looking painting that I whipped up pretty fast. I didn't even finish it when it sold.

sage x 4

Why not? It doesn't have to be a masterpiece and it doesn't have to be my past, and it doesn't need to be so darn serious.

Yes, it is time to loosen my grip and paint with light. A light heart.

to be continued...


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

a point of view

This is the milking stand. It was built out of an old bench that was here when we bought the place. It has some added scrap lumber for stability. Today I found two ornate knobs to make it all fancy. Next, paint.

goat milking stand - washington - broken bowl
Here is my nanny goat deer eating while I milk her. Don't worry, she is not choking. The rope is not tight, but will get tight if she tries to jump off.

crunch, crunch...

milking my goat
oprah plays while I milk
More views today...
one angry bird (she has babies)

pekin duck

three runner ducks

food frenzy

Add caption

tahoe's baby bunnies

deer off the milk stand, on the rock stand

summer squash
sunset flowers
sylvia and clover
the wish bone
the room upstairs
Poor Sling, he has to be closed up when everybody eats because he doesn't share very well. He hogs it all. ;-)


Monday, June 13, 2011


I want to thank you for taking time out of your day to listen to me. crow is up to 21 "official" followers, aka readers. Most of you come from facebook and get an update of a new post and do not need to be all official-like, and others have come through blogs or searches and perhaps from the Circle of Moms.

Some of you I have known. Some of you I hope to get to know. I the meantime, I  do know you are here and I am grateful for the company. I have somebody to talk to, and somebody who is really, really, good at listening, and so accepting of my whims and wonderment.

I spend my days mostly in solitude. Sometimes in a meditative state of blissful nothingness and sometimes with a head full of ideas and thoughts as I work my little farm. I wish there was some sort of brain -                  cinematographer/biographer/photographer taking note of all that flows in and out of my noggin. For easy reference, perhaps a book. I have come up with some amazing art, stories, designs, theories, reflections and plans all in my head. From how to alleviate the poverty here in WV, to painting a portrait of Earl, to enhancing the sense of permaculture here on my little farm and everything in between..

I did not grow up here in WV. People here have stacks and stacks of family and friends living in this same area. A police officer once told me that people around here are very clan-ish. That is not the Klan with a K. I think he meant that people stay in their own circles and are very loyal to those within their circles.

I am a strange woman who "doesn't have an accent". I am seen walking my donkey and heard talking to my ducks. Pass by, and you will probably see me dirty and digging or just sitting on a log and looking toward the west. I do not belong to a church, which makes me somewhat suspect, as well it should. I am a stranger in an area where the people have the same surnames as those who first struck out in this area. With the exception of my children, I have no bloodlines here.

So I talk to you here, to my friends who listen so well, Speaking to you most nights, of my little triumphs, my hopes and dreams, and sometimes of my past. At the same time I talk to you, I talk to myself. The stuff that flows through my brain and spirit I believe does get recorded. Some here at crow, and the rest tucked away in my subconscious.

I write with abandon, (what you see is what you get}, depending on the day. I have nothing to lose. Which reminds me of Janis;
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing don't mean nothing honey if it ain't free, now now.
And feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,
You know feeling good was good enough for me,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee

You see, you 21 followers (plus) are my very own Bobby McGee-s.

La da la la la, la da la la la la la
Hey hey hey Bobby McGee yeah

I hope to make connections here in WV. I hope to have a bunch of Bobbies to share my tomatoes with and to drink wine and eat cheese and play with the goats. But if I don't, it will be of my own making.

For all of what I wrote tonight... is truly all in my mind.


Sunday, June 12, 2011


Somebody new here laid an egg. I found an extra today. I am so excited. The great mystery hunt begins! She laid it down by the duck swimming pool. She is part of the President Day chicken group. Those chicks were my first hatch ever, inside my birthday gift, the incubator. Now, in the coming months, one by one I will find a new count of eggs.

It may sound silly or boring to those who may not have an interest in farming or have farmed so long the joy of your hens laying their first eggs is way past. I get that. But to those of us who care for our animals and see the next generation into this world, it is quite amazing to witness. I am a farmer lady! 

This was my facebook status today (for those of you who aren't connected to me there.)

Did some heavy house cleaning today. ::cheers, balloons, parade::   I would rather be in the garden or doing outside stuff. I like the stereotypical "men's work" better than the stereotypical "woman's work." It feels to me like I did something of value when I do outside stuff. hmm... value and worth issues.

So washing dishes for the umptee-umphth time really gives me no sense of "Hey look what I accomplished!" it is just a silent chore. Nobody thanks me, but I sure do hear it of we are out of forks. But with the chicken raising, or the gardening, somehow I feel like I did something of value. Why is that?

I got an extra egg today  and I cleaned the front porch, kitchen, bathroom, dishes, washed three loads of laundry, swept and mopped the floors.

Awesome day. Forkin' A