The Jewish pirate emerges in Jon. First the tattoo, then the gold tooth, now this. Is that a happy face or what!
All the fruit bats at Animal Kingdom were just hanging in the trees. Oh how I envied them. As much as I was enjoying seeing all the animals, from the blind mole rats to the Gorillas, it was the bats that reminded me what a big part of vacations are about.
We’ve been running since we got here yesterday morning. And it’s been great, we got up at 5:30 to catch the early safari at Animal Kingdom. I danced with the African drummers and both Jon and I danced to the Indian Bollywood music. We told each other we’d only spend a few hours at Animal Kingdom than sit by the pool and go out to dinner later in the evening. But one thing led to another and by the time we got back to the hotel it was 3pm. That gave us two hours of relaxing before catching the bus to Downtown Disney for dinner. And in that two hours my mind started to go to a dark place.
We keep saying we’re going to take some time and sleep late and just sit by the pool, but I have a fear it may never happen. I think it’s something we have to really work to do. It’s too easy to get up and run from park to park. It’s not so easy to take it easy. I think part of it is that when I stop, especially after doing a lot of running around, my mind keeps going. And if it has nothing to keep it busy, if it’s not being stimulated by castles and crowds and gorillas and tigers, then it goes off on its own tangents. I remember one of my yoga teachers calling it Monkey Mind. That about says it, only my Monkey Mind tends to lean towards the dark side of things.
But I’m determined not to let my Monkey Mind keep me from relaxing. So tomorrow Jon and I have plans to relax. Both of us are constantly trying to sabotage this plan by coming up with things to do. I mean, who wants to hang around with a Monkey Mind when you can be on the Peter Pan Ride or even the Haunted House. But it’s not going to happen if I can help it. Besides going to Epcot for dinner, the day is going to be spent, reading and lying around, napping, and eating. And I’ll be ready when those dark and guilt ridden stories try to interrupt my day. I brought a book of Mary Oliver poems just for that reason. (Her poetry usually grounds me). And I’ll think of those fruit bats too. Wrapping their wings around them and tucking their noses under them, like a vampire warding off the daylight. Only I’ll be welcoming the sunshine and warm blue skies, my mind and body at ease and rest. At least for a day.
I put the 45 on my mother’s record player. It was a portable one, in a wooden box and it sat on a table in our dining room. I listened to that record over and over and just couldn’t believe how beautiful the music and words were. It made me cry and moved me in a way I couldn’t understand, I was probably only five or six years old.
I was fourteen the first time I went on the ride It’s a Small World at Disney. It was during a family vacation, we camped in St Cloud and spent one day at The Magic Kingdom. I don’t remember much of it, but I was disdainful of the ride. I know it was because of my age, I was already cynical by then.
But as an adult I fell in love with the ride. I found it magical, like being transported into a wonderful children’s book. I was in the page with the illustrations and they were bigger than life.
It’s a Small World is still my favorite ride. I love the big colorful shapes the movement and the music. I love that it looks like its made from giant cardboard cutouts. It’s far from slick. But it still has feeling for me.
This is the first time I’ve taken pictures during the ride. I liked getting them, but I want to go on it again. This time I’ll leave my iphone in my bag, I want to be able to just experience the ride, plant myself on the pages of that book for a little while.
(Click here for a short video of It’s a Small World)
It’s finally here. Disney! When I think about why we’re going and how we’re going I feel so warm inside. Not just because we’re going to Florida, but because of the all the wonderful people who made this happen for us. Sometimes it almost easy to forget that Jon had Open Heart Surgery, that’s how good he’s doing. But it’s also why we’re going to Disney tomorrow. A bunch of generous and kind people who love Jon and his work gave him the trip to thank him for all he’s done for them. And I want to thank you all again who made it possible.
I am so ready to have a good time, a relaxing time, and to be warm again. So the animals on the farm are going to have to work things out by themselves for a while. Six days actually. Of course they’ll have Deb (our sitter not the sheep) to help with the big stuff, and Red to help her (except when it comes to Flo, that is).
I’m taking my computer with me so I’ll be posting from the Wilderness Lodge (luckily not so wild) and I’m sure Instagram will get a work out too. So no more snowy animals pictures for a while, just blue skies and sunshine!
I’m making some Heart Tree Potholders Valentine’s Day. It’s not something I often do, make potholders for a specific holiday, but I got the idea and it just seemed right. And I like Valentine’s Day, it’s about love after all and what better thing to celebrate.
I made a few this week and will be making more and selling them when they’re done. I’m stitching them on tea-stained vintage hankies and they will be $23 each + shipping. I’m charging a bit more for them because of the time and work that goes into the tea-staining as well as the detail on the trees.
With all that’s happened on the farm last week, it felt good to make these heart trees. I’m taking lessons from Lenore and putting some love out into the world.
Sure the donkeys are eating away at the barn that gives them shelter, but they’re doing it in a kinda beautiful way. Almost looks like sculpture. The way the push back the chicken wire, meant to keep them from chewing the wood, and eat around it. All those soft curves and color changes in the wood on the right side. Compared to the rough chewed chunks on the left, eaten at almost regular intervals. And look at the way they’ve rounded the post, which helps create the door way. They’ve turned all those sharp edges into organic forms. What, I wonder, are they trying to express with this creation?
Can it really just be donkeys in the winter boredom? Snow covered pastures give grazing animals nothing to do all day. It’s not like they can hang in the pole barn and play cards, or a makeshift game of golf (you know use the broken branch to hit the rock in the hole). It’s not that they’re lacking in their diet, they get plenty of hay and treats and grain when it’s really cold. There’s always a mineral block and salt lick to snack on. But it seems like more than just boredom to me. It looks too intentional, too, well, beautiful to me. I think they’ve caught the Bedlam Farm Creative spirit. Maybe they’re getting ready for next June’s Open House. I mean I’m making a sculpture out of baling twine and an old chair, why not turn the barn into art as well as being a place to stay warm and dry.
Except, of course, if they keep at it, if it’s not about art and they aren’t trying to create, but can’t stop themselves, well, they’ll literally eat themselves out of house and home.
So art or not, out came Jon with the nasty smelling spray to keep the donkeys from eating the wood. I pulled some old apple tree branches, that I cut in the fall, out of the snow and put them in the pole barn next to the construction cone, hoping this combination will be intriguing in a new way to the donkeys. Perhaps they can chew the branches into one continuous unbroken wooden chain. That should keep them busy, wouldn’t ya think.
Well, at this point we can only see what happens. I only hope when we come home from out trip to Disney, the barn is still standing and the donkeys have taken up a new hobby.
The idea of new beginnings coming from death was not a new idea to me. I mean, it’s almost a cliche. But when Simon was dying it came to me as if for the first time and as if I’d heard it a million times and I finally “got” it. Not just as an idea, but as a reality, I felt it throughout my body.
Something else happened when Simon died. Eli, who is married to our farrier Ken Norman, came with a horse blanket to see if she could help. Ken would have come but he was in the hospital recovering from a double knee replacement. Eli often accompanies Ken when he comes to trim the donkeys hooves. It was Eli who showed me how to give Simon a bath when he when we first got him (which, I thought, was something like washing a car). She’s been around horses her whole life. After Simon died, and we were waiting to bury him, I invite Eli and Deb, who watches our animals and was also there that morning, in for a cup of tea. I’ve known Eli for years but only from standing around the barn making small talk and holding the donkeys while Ken trimmed their hooves. But that morning in our living room something shifted for me in our relationship. I think we were both opened up, I know I was by Simon’s death. And I felt closer to Eli, like she could be a friend.
It was the first time we had ever been to Ken and Eli’s house when we went to visit them on Saturday. Jon and I sat with them and Eli’s mother, who lives with them, and we had tea and a cranberry loaf. We talked about Ken’s surgery and then we started talking horses. Eli and Ken have about thirty horses on their farm. Some borders, most rescues. Eli teaches riding and uses the horses for that, matching the right horse with the right rider.
Ever since Rocky, I’ve been exploring the idea of riding and Jon has shown interest in having another horse on the farm. But I haven’t been ready to commit to anything like that. I was intrigued by the relationships between the NYC Carriage Horses and the people who own and work with them and took a few riding lessons a year or so ago and have become attached to Piper, a Percheron, at Blue Star Equiculture, and even rode her a few times with Pamela Rickenbach’s urging.
But something happened when I was sitting in Eli living room. It was like the switch that had been slowly moving in a certain direction was flipped. Without even thinking about it I asked Eli if she had a pony that needed a home. The words came out of my mouth and I wasn’t surprised by them, but I hadn’t expected them either. She said she had two ponies Chloe and Teddy and before we left, we went out to the pasture to see them.
So I’m on the path. I know now that I’m ready to make the commitment, not necessarily to owning a horse, but to learning about them and how they might fit into my life. When we get back from Disney I’ll visit Eli again and we’ll talk about lessons and finding a horse that I’m comfortable with and who is comfortable with me. Eventually, if the time comes when I want to own a horse of my own, I ‘ll be able to make a good decision about which horse that will be.
It started with Rocky, but when Simon died last weekend, his message of new beginnings was clear. It seems mystical to me, because I can’t explain it all. I just know a series of events led to my coming to this new place and feeling a need to somehow have a horse in my life. I know there’s something for me to learn with horses. I’m still feeling echos of the fears that kept me from seriously pursuing this for so long. But the fears don’t seem to matter anymore. It’s as if when Simon died a door opened and I stepped through it.
By now, you all know that Lenore died last night. Did she have any idea how many lives she touched? I’m only becoming aware of it by looking at Jon’s facebook page. I know what she did for me and now I see that her love had such a far reach. I think how wonderful it is that Jon was able to capture her essence in his writing and pictures and share her with the world. How wonderful for all of us.
And I’m sad, so sad too. We had a special connection me and Lenore. The way we walked through the woods together, both of us finding the wild parts inside of ourselves. Aware of each other always, as if connected by an invisible thread, but each in our own world too. Each taking from the woods what they had to offer us. I will miss my companion of the woods.
And I have to admit, I thought someday, when Frieda finally left us, Leonore would become my studio dog. So she would not only walk with me in the woods and ride with me in my car, but she would accompany me to my studio too. It just seemed like it would be the natural progression of things. But when does life and death conform to our sense of order.
I think when we’re authentic and true to ourselves our spirit, our essence precedes us. Animals can’t be anything but true. And the joy that emanated from Lenore, was Lenore, is Lenore. When we sat on the floor of the animal hospital last night, Jon holding Lenore, his head resting in my lap, her tail was thumping as they put the needle in her leg. And when her heart stopped beating I felt her spirit, it lingered over her body for just a few seconds, and I looked at the space it occupied and smiled. I actually smiled. Because I was feeling what was there and it was pure happiness. The space itself seemed to shimmer, like heat in the air above a fire, with tiny, soft twinklings of pinks and greens. I can still feel it now and the joy of it makes me cry.
I’ve never seen Jon so moved by the death of one of our animals. He cried for Lenore like I’ve never seen him cry. He even accused me of being happy to see him cry. But I told him I was happy that he could cry, not that he was crying. The depth of feeling was so powerful, it made me see their connection in a new light. Lenore always brought out the silliness in Jon, in the way he would sing to her and the songs he would make up about her. Be she also came into his life at a time when he was at a divide. He could have shut down his emotions or opened them up. He always said Lenore kept his heart open, brought out the love inside of him.
Yesterday I thanked Lenore for keeping that love alive so when I came along Jon was open to loving me. I remember when Jon first got Lenore. We were just friends then, both married to different people, he brought her into my studio at Old Bedlam Farm. She ran around my floor chasing scraps of fabric and we called her name again and again so she would get to know it. Lenore was there from even before the beginning of me and Jon. Or who knows, maybe that was the beginning.
Because of Jon’s writing, Lenore will live on. But she’s gone from our lives in a very real way. So I miss her and I cry and I smile. And I’m grateful for what she did for me and Jon and everyone else out there who loves her.
And don’t forget to come back next month when we’ll have guest artist Debbie Glessner giving away a pair of her earrings. For a peek at those, click here.
When Jon was in the hospital last summer, waiting to have his open heart surgery, I found a place inside myself to be. With all the unknowns that go along with such a procedure, I decided I was not going to allow my imagination to go wild with the possibilities of “what if” . I gathered as much information as there was and didn’t let my mind wander beyond the moment. I kept telling myself, this is what I know and I refused to entertain the unknowns, I stayed in the moment. Because I know what my mind will do if unleashed, and the rest of me has been known to follow it down some deep dark holes.
The chances of Jon coming out of his surgery healthier than when he went in were really good, so I kept that in the front of my mind and heart. But I also kept a small open door, in that space inside of me, for the unpredictable. I was not Pollyannaish, but reasonably optimistic. I’m sure I pushed a lot of my emotions aside, not with my interactions with Jon, but with everything else, just to be able to deal from hour to hour, day to day.
I learned that this worked for me. I was able to do what I had to do without denying what was really happening.
This morning when Jon came home from the Vet with Lenore, it turns out we’re in a waiting period. Waiting to see if the anti-inflammatories will work, if her pain lessens,that would mean what she has is most likely treatable. If they don’t work, and quickly, it means that what’s going on with her is much more serious. And although her diagnosis isn’t as hopeful as I would like, I’m staying in the moment with it all. Right now, we’re waiting to see what happens next. I don’t have to go anyplace else but where we are right now. And that small open door is hovering in the background, but there’s be enough time to go through it if and when it comes to that.
Right now Lenore is resting comfortably on the living room floor. And that’s good, she hasn’t been this easy in days. I brought her bed over for her, but when she didn’t lay on it, Frieda snatched it up. Makes it feel like things are almost normal.