Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Little Tyke, The Vegetarian Lion

Friday, November 27th, 2015
Tyke and Margaret Westbeau

Little Tyke, a lamb and Margaret Westbeau.

I got chills when I read the comment from Kristy on my blog.  She wrote:

I too was very influenced by the story of Born Free as a child and have been a bit obsessed with lions since. The one you featured here really took me aback. Her name was Little Tyke, and I’ve been researching her and the other local pet lions of the Puget Sound. There was a glut of them after WWII, and, at the time, few exotic animal laws to prevent people from keeping them as backyard pets, as was the case with Little Tyke. She lived her entire life on a ranch in my hometown of Auburn, Washington (1946-1955).

Kristy wrote a whole article about Little Tyke.    I was about to get to know that lion in the poster that hung on my closet door a little better.  As a kid I used to love to just look at that poster.  I was enchanted with the lion.  She touched sometime inside of me that I couldn’t understand and I didn’t know what to do about it.  So I just looked.

At different times in my life I’ve tried to understand my attachment to that image, and I’ve thought different things at different times, but I don’t wonder anymore.  Not after my journey on Wednesday.

You can read more about Little Tyke, who didn’t eat meat and was friends with all the animals on the Ranch where she lived in Kristy Lommen’s  article “Little Tyke, the Lea Hill Lioness.”

Thanks Kristy.



Thursday, November 26th, 2015

donks and pony

So much to be thankful for, including all of you.  Thank you for being there,  for listening to my stories and sharing yours.

The Holidays, Dealing with Guilt and Fear

Thursday, November 26th, 2015
The poster that was hanging on my bedroom wall when I was a kid

The poster that was hanging on my bedroom wall when I was a kid

For years the holidays left me feeling lonely and empty.  I can remember hiding in the bathroom when I was a kid, looking in the mirror to make sure it was still me reflected back.   It felt less lonely to be alone than to be around the whole family.

For the past few years, I stopped going to the ritual family dinners and Jon and I have been making our own holidays.  But by the time Thanksgiving comes around I’m usually a mess, racked with guilt for not spending the holiday with my birth family and pissed off trying to understand why I feel the way I do. I’ve work at it every year, sometimes getting professional help and sometimes kidding myself that “everything’s fine”.

Yesterday morning  I work up at 4am racked with guilt about the holidays.   I laid in bed, a part of me knew I had nothing to feel bad about, so I wondered what was really going on inside me.  And when I went to the place inside of me where the feeling came from, below my stomach, I felt fear.   A deep old fear that something was terribly wrong, that I was in danger.

Jon was awake and I told him what I was feeling.  As we talked I remembered being a kid and believing that if I wasn’t “good” if I didn’t do what I was supposed to, my family would abandon me.  I remembered being around 5 or 6 years old, getting in trouble for doing something (I don’t remember what)   and  being so terrified that I was pleading and begging to be forgiven, promising to be good.  It felt as if my life depended on it.

It wasn’t literally true that I’d be abandoned by my family, although I didn’t know that at the time.  I wasn’t even a bad kid.  It was more of an emotional abandonment.  If I didn’t behave the way I was supposed to, I wouldn’t belong.  I’d be left out of the only thing I knew and had.  This is when I began to learn how to be who they wanted me to be and not who I am.

As Jon and I talked I came to see that what I needed to do was talk to  the little girl who was me.  I needed to let her know that she was safe and didn’t have to be afraid.  It’s known as the integrated self.  The scared kid inside of me was not integrated with who I am now.  I’ve done this before, gone back,  talked to myself at different points in my life and it’s always helped me to let go of those traumatic moments.

So yesterday morning I lit a candle in my studio, kneeled on my yoga mat, closed my eyes and went to visit five year old me.  From that moment on what I saw unfolded in front of me like a movie.

Me, as a girl  was standing  inside her bedroom alone.   The  doors that led to the living room were  closed and there were twin beds and a crib in the room.  So I was younger than five.  This was a time when me and my older sister and brother shared a room.  I could see my favorite black and white poster on the closet door of the Lion and the kitten.

I stood next to the girl and told her she was safe.  I told her she didn’t have to be afraid, that I was there and I would take care of her and protect her.  Then I told her  we could leave, she could come with me.  That I had a nice place to live  with animals.  But she was scared and didn’t want to go.  So I told her I would stay with her, that I’d always be there and never leave her.   And if she ever wanted to go we could leave together.

Then I thought to do something to make her less frightened.  So I asked her if she could go any place,  where would she want to go.  And suddenly we were in Africa with Elsa the lion from the movie Born Free.  The people were there too, the real people, not the actors from the movie. I think her name way Joy, I don’t remember her husband’s name.  They weren’t surprised to see the little girl  and  asked her to go get the lion cubs who were in a kennel.  It was time to feed them.

Joy and her husband weren’t parents to the girl, but she lived with them and the lions.  And they taught her about the lions and how to live in the wilderness.  The girl grew up kind of wild.  She rarely bathed and her hair was never combed, always knotted.  When she got older she started to draw the lions, she was an artist.  She learned some of the ways of the native people from a nearby village and they taught her their art too.  When she was a teenager she had sex with the boys from the village, as teenagers will.   She became an artist and moved between life in the wild and the cities.  When she was older,  in her fifties or so, she was at an art opening or a book event and met Jon.  She took him to her home in Africa and they traveled back and forth between there and New York.

I was with the girl through the whole journey.  Integrated.   Her life wasn’t ruled by misplaced emotions.  She was independent and brave and liked being alone as well as having a community.  She  knew true love when she finally found it.

When I opened my eyes, I felt as if I had lived another life.  I didn’t have all the details, but I knew what it felt like to live the life the girl chose.  I knew what it felt like not  to be scared all the time.  And to make my own decisions and choices not out of  guilt and fear  but  from my own instincts.

I slept for hours yesterday afternoon and went to bed early.  I was exhausted from my journey.   For now, the guilt I was feeling is completely gone.  I don’t know if that will last, but I know I let go of one thing and gained something else.  And I feel ready to enjoy my holidays the way I want to.



“I Kissed A Pony”

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
Jon giving Chloe a kiss

Jon giving Chloe a kiss

When Jon talks about how he feels about Chloe, he says he’s fond of her.   Which to me sounds like he holding up his hand and saying keep your distance.

But me and Chloe have been learning some tricks together and one of them is “kiss”.  She puts her nose over the fence looking, no doubt for a treat, I say “Kiss” and kiss her nose.  Then I give her an enthusiastic “Yes!” and a treat.  I’m reinforcing her action so eventually when I say “Kiss” no matter where she is, she’ll put her nose up for a kiss.

Today Jon  tried it.  With an apple in hand, when Jon said “Kiss” Chloe lifted her nose to him and he gave her a kiss.  Actually, he gave a bunch of kisses.  “I kissed a pony” he said with a big smile on his face, his eyes sparkling.

As much as Jon writes about the Carriage Horses and likes taking pictures of them,  being close to horses in an emotional and physical way seems to elude him.  Maybe Chloe will change that.

1970’s Skirt Potholders For Sale

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
Vintage 1970's Skirt Potholdders

Vintage 1970’s Skirt Potholdders

These are the potholders I made from the long patchwork home-made skirt from  the 1970’s.  I used the patchwork squares from the skirt then added the blue and purple solids, because the potholders called for it.

My Vintage Skirt Potholders are $15 each + $5 shipping for 1-2 and $7 shipping for 3 or more.  Shipping outside the US is slightly more.  If you’re interested in any, just email me here at  I take checks and paypal.

The Patchwork Skirt, after I got to it.

The 1970’s  Patchwork Skirt (after I started cutting into it)  I made the potholders from.


Jon Helping Fate Keep the Sheep Back, A Video

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

sheep herding

This morning Chloe and I were taking a walk in the back pasture when Jon came in the pasture with Red,  Fate and the sheep.  It seems Socks was giving Fate a hard time so Jon helped her out.  Fanny and Lulu came along too.  I got a video of it.

A Little Joy

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

duck quilt

I woke up in a foul mood today.  It eased as the day went on, I think partly because I started working on this quilt.   Each time I sewed  a piece of fabric together and I like the way it looked it was a little joy.

Monday Morning Video From Bedlam Farm, It’s Cold Out Today

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Hungry Eyes

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015
Ancient Greek pottery at the Williams College Musuem

Ancient Greek Pottery at the Williams College Museum

Friday night I was reading an article in the New Yorker about Herculaneum. It’s the lesser known ancient Italian city that was covered by ash during the same eruption of Mount Vesuvius that covered Pompeii.

Herculaneum has only been partially excavated, but in 1752 a library of papyrus scrolls were found there.  And since then people have been trying to figure out a way to unroll  them with the scrolls falling apart into hundreds of pieces.  They’re believed to contain some of the missing writings of ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, poets and historians.   The article explains how there’s now technology that may be able to read the scrolls without unrolling them.  Don’t ask me to explain that part, I could barely understand what I was reading.

But those details didn’t matter.  I was fascinated by all the history and the descriptions of the ink and the papyrus used to  create the scrolls.  And as I was reading the article the idea popped into my head that I needed to go to the Williams College Museum.

So on Saturday, we went.  The Williams College Museum is about 50 minutes from us in Williamstown MA.  It’s small, but has a serious permanent collection.   A mix of ancient, historical and contemporary art , that is always changing, and always has a new contemporary exhibit.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for when I went to the museum, but when I walked into the room with the ancient Greek Pottery, I knew I was on the right track.

It was a big room with only a few pieces in it. I thought of how many times I’ve been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and breezed through the rooms  of Greek Pottery.  There’s so much of it, it’s like being in one of those giant box stores, I could just never look at it all or even just choose one to focus on.  And I was never really interested in it.

There were only about five pieces of pottery and I devoured each of them with my eyes.  Then I came to the cabinet with the scrap of papyrus with words on it.  It was the writings of the Greek Philosopher Epicurus.  Not from the scrolls I had read about, but close enough.

The Papyrus somehow got me to the museum, but it wasn’t the Holy Grail.  I found myself looking at a lot of the other art in the museum with the same intensity.  Usually when I go to a museum I walk through the rooms, finding one or two pieces to concentrate on.   This time so much of art got my attention and held it.  I didn’t even realize how much time I was spending looking, until two hours later when Jon told me.   Usually we’re in sync when we go to museums.  This time it was like it was just me and the art.

I was drawn to all those fine lines in the figures on the  Greek Pottery, the simplicity and elegance.   And the clarity of the story that each vase told.  The texture and ware was visceral, some of the less preserved  images faded to nothing.   And it wasn’t the content, but was the line and the edge and the physical “feel” that pulled me to the other art I was interested in looking at too.

So I’m not sure what happened, or how this experience will work its way into my art. But I’m glad I listened to the voice that told me to go to the Museum.   It was a fulfilling couple of hours.  Like eating a really tasty meal with someone I love.  My eyes were hungry when I got to the museum,  and when I left, they were satisfied.

One of the other Ancient Greek Vases

A detail from one of the other Ancient Greek Vases (the figure on the right reminds me of a Picasso figure)





Driving with the Train

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

There’s a train that runs right along the road we take to go into  Williamstown MA.  Yesterday we drove together for a while, on our way to the Willam’s College Museum.  To me the train feels like it’s alive.  A giant sea serpent out of water,  slowly and purposefully making its way to its destination.  It takes command of the landscape, only a threat if you get in it’s way.