Saturday, January 25, 2020

New essay up at the gorgeous Longridge Review

Yesterday my essay, Places I Went With My Dad, was published in the lovely Longridge Review. This piece means a lot to me and I invite you to go and read it:

Places I Went With My Dad at Longridge Review

There are other beautiful essays in this issue as well as stunning art. I hope you’ll go and check it out. If you like what you see, you can sign up for their ongoing editions. It’s a well-curated journal and I’m truly honored to have work there.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Happy Birthday, Clementine and Baloo!

This was a birthday week on November Hill. Baloo Corgi turned 3 years old and Clementine, the lovely, turned 1. Our birthday celebrations for 2019 were very low key, but there are some important birthday years coming up in 2020 so we decided to start in January and celebrate our way through, month by month, in the style we have enjoyed in past years.

I’m going to confess that we had high aspirations for birthday photos. I actually thought we would get a great birthday video of all three canines sitting at the dining table with party hats, awaiting the birthday treats. It would likely have been possible had we done many takes over several hours, but no one wanted to put the dogs through that kind of frustration, so here’s what we got:

You’re going to have to take my word for it that at one point all three dogs did in fact have the party hats on their heads and the boys looked as adorable as does Clem. But golden retrievers are just much more willing to be dressed up than are Corgis, at least in this household, and the point was to celebrate, not torture, so we moved on to the serving of the birthday cookies. 

I will say that it astounds all of us that Bear Corgi, whose birthday is in June, is a senior dog at this point. For so many years he was the young wild one to Kyra’s aging self, but now he is slowing down some and the wild ones are Baloo and Clem.

Life with dogs seems particularly poignant, as their life spans are so much shorter than ours and in dog-loving homes it feels like decades are marked by how old the dogs are, how insane it seems that they could be growing old, and the new young pups that move in to ease the transitions and take over the household. 

Since I got married and had children we have lived with and loved Ron the retired racing greyhound, Chase the loving and loyal Corgi, his sister Kyra who spoiled us with 18 amazing years of bossy Corgi girl love, and now Bear the Corgi fluff-budget, Baloo the Cardigan jumper extraordinaire, and Clementine the ladybird beauty. I can’t think of a better way to mark a lifetime than by the dogs we share it with.

Happy birthday, Baloo! Happy birthday, Clem! We love you and hope for many more parties to come. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

The day the sunshine returned

We were all happy and even though it was still a mucky mess on the ground, the sky was bright and the mood was up.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Deer Eating Shrubs? PSA

If deer are eating your shrubs, there’s no need to blast out the door yelling like a mad woman, disrupting the peace of a beautiful January morning for neighbors far and wide.

What CAN you do if you have deer browsing on things you’ve planted?

1. Plant deer-resistant natives. There are many good options to choose from, and you’ll not only be free from deer browsing, you’ll be practicing ethical, ecologically-sound gardening. We all need to be thinking of this when selecting plantings. It’s the only way to save the native ecosystems, including beneficial insects and birds.

2. Plant extras for the deer. If you have to plant things the deer love, try planting extras, further out on the perimeter of your property, so they have something to nibble. After all, they were here before we were. They’re living creatures too and they have to eat. Maybe this can be part of an overall plan for a wildlife-friendly property. You can even get it certified and take pride in doing your part to help our native plants, insects, and animals thrive! Our environment depends on healthy, native ecosystems.

3. Fence your garden. If you want a wildlife-free gardening experience, use fencing. It works really, really well.

Feel free to add more tips in the comment section!

Woman Who Loves Peace, Quiet, and Wildlife

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 90

The theme of this week is RAIN. We’re in the 70s, rain for days in a row, and it’s starting to wear on all of us. Chores in the rain, dogs in the rain, dogs bringing in the rain and the mud, which leads to extra chores in the house. I think everyone here is ready for sunshine and lots of it.

Last week I took an impromptu trip to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and their dog Aria in New York. It’s the first visit I’ve made to their sweet and beautiful cottage which on the outside looks a little like something Dr. Seuss might design and on the inside is Scandavian-inspired building. They’ve done a wonderful job decorating and it was magical. Also there was DRY snow on the ground outside and gusting wind a couple of the days, so the entire mood felt like I’d gone to another country. I loved it.

Immediately upon returning home I met my husband and daughter and Clem en route to the vet. Clem had been whining, going behind the sofa to dig at nothing, and generally just seemed off. We feared an obstruction. Turns out she is having a false pregnancy! The telltale sign was the swollen mammary glands which actually had milk in them!

We took down the Christmas tree, put cushions behind the sofa, and made her a nest in the corner complete with layers of bedding and stuffed animals. She is much better now, and the vet says it should all be over in a couple of weeks.

I’ve been working on writing projects - submitted another essay to a contest, now back to editing a novel that is beyond ready to get out to some agents and smaller presses for consideration.

Project-wise, nothing is happening on the outside until this rain stops and we dry out a bit, but inside, I’ve made a few changes. I’ve decided to remove our coffee table and store it for a few weeks to see if we miss it. Opening up the center of the living room makes life easier with three dogs. I’ve added a side table between sofa and love seat for lamp and a place to put drinks, and I can add another at the other end of the love seat if needed. A smaller coffee table is also an option. We’ll see.

Once the humidity drops I plan to commence painting the dining room. My sample wall has proven that this is the right color, a soft gray which accentuates the beautiful wood trim we have in our main living space, and I’m going to carry that gray up the stairway on the one tall loft wall.

Pella finally arrived yesterday with enough manpower and expertise to replace the two windows we purchased from them in JULY. As usual, the quality of the product and installation was superb. The scheduling piece I can’t praise in any way, but it’s done, that’s off my list, and the windows are lovely.

Early this morning, in the dark time when all I want to be is in deep deep sleep, a lightning/thunder crash happened that woke me up, scared me, and heralded a 10-minute crescendo of more of the same. The house and barn are safe, but once I’ve had coffee I’ll need to go out and walk the farm to insure nothing came down on fencing. This weather is so unlike what a January should be.

I’m thinking of times when we needed rain and now we’re just getting too much of it at one time. The earth has her reasons and after venting about it, I’m prepared to make peace with it. Sunshine, though. It’s what I wish for.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 89

We’ve had warm days, cooler days, sunshine, rain, and generally it feels like a weather rollercoaster here right now. We’ve had a wonderful few weeks with the entire family here, but tomorrow my son and daughter-in-law and their dog Aria head home.

On Monday my daughter’s spring semester begins, and with it, the routine goes back to its new normal. I have an essay deadline looming, several board meetings this week, and a lot of projects in the house and at the barn to dive into.

At the moment I’m in the dining room with a glass of wine while all the ‘kids’ plus a friend watch X-Files. The white lights on the tree are showing up in triplicate: the tree itself, reflecting in the front and side windows, and on one corner of the TV. It’s a sweet scene. I’m grateful for all of them.

The horses have been enjoying the treats that arrived in their Christmas stockings, a few each day, and they’re handling the weather shenanigans with grace and a lot of mud. I have had many moments of wanting to ride, and dreamed about riding Keil Bay last night. It’s time. The weather has been and looks like it will continue to be mild, and all I have to do is DO it. I’m aiming to audit Mark Rashid’s local clinic this spring and considering a lesson with his wife Chrissy, whose blog makes me think she’s a kindred spirit when it comes to being with horses.

The cats and dogs are all happy too - today’s outing meant baths for 2 out of 4 due to the general mucky conditions afield. Thankfully it’s warm enough out that we didn’t have to worry about them getting chilled as they dry out.

Winter. So far it doesn’t feel much like it, but the trees are bare and the sky is stark and I want to make the most of every minute as we count down toward the heat of summer. The fall flew by and I think if I focus on the moments, time will slow at least a little.

I’m scheduled as writer-in-residence at Weymouth in February with 3 other writing women and this is a bright time to look forward to. Writing with other devoted writers is always a wonderful experience.

For the gardens and the bees and the farm itself it’s a quiet time of year. This spring will be fun as we watch the gardens come in and the bees begin to build up. I’m eager to see how they do and how much I can learn from them.

That’s it for now!

Thursday, January 02, 2020

On horses and being boss or friend - or what I think works - partner

I’m clearing out some old files and came upon this which I wrote in 2015 in response to a blog post or an email forum post, not sure which. It still holds true for me. A good thing to have in mind going into 2020. BE WITH HORSES. BE is the operative word. 

on horses and being boss or friend - or what I think works - partner

That is so sad and really unfortunate about the lady with the OTTB and the one with the QH. :/  It speaks volumes though - the line from the woman with the QH - she is really not seeing the horse for what he is and what he's capable of, and there's an element of narcissism too that reminds me of what I see in spades in CA and his attitude toward not only horses but people. In a lot of ways it is personality disorder being filtered through an affiliation with horses.

I feel strongly that there is something between friend and boss and that it's called partner. And that one does not have to dominate the horse nor does one have to always be "right" in order to have a happy and safe relationship that can navigate all kinds of behaviors on both the horse's part and the rider/handler's part. Horses get scared sometimes and they are big. If we're smart about our methods of handling them we don't have to get hurt and we don't have to demand that they stand stock still when something spooks them. We sometimes give mixed signals because we're human and not perfect. And a horse that has been treated fairly and with respect will, in my experience, allow for some of that without turning into a monster that takes advantage.

I think the partnership takes more work and much more time and it requires us to really BE with the horse when we're with the horse. Not on cell phones or chit-chatting to other riders or lost in our own thoughts. So many people can't be present - for many different reasons - and really that's what needs to be addressed, not the horse.