I have to admit, I’d become numb to the shootings that go on across the country. I had begun to think that this is just the way it is.
But yesterday’s murders made me think differently. Made me want to try to do something even though I have no idea what that would be.
So this morning I took some time to write letters to my Representatives. A part of me feels it is useless, that my letters won’t change the way they feel or what they are able to accomplish.
But I know there are people out there working hard to change gun laws and trying to figure out the reasons these massacres happen and what they can do to stop them. So if I can write a letter to support their efforts, then that’s a small something I can do.
It’s easy to lose hope, and many people have every reason to. But right now, I feel like I can hold the hope for those who don’t have it.
The soft smell of lilacs and the Robin warning me to stay away from her nest kept me company as I worked on my vegetable garden yesterday.
I tossed each brick into the wheelbarrow, then peeled up the faded and soggy cardboard that I used to cover the garden over the winter. Underneath the seasoned donkey manure just needed to be turned and a few weeds, along the edges, pulled.
I stored the cardboard in the barn for our Summer Solstice fire.
This year I put in a variety of bean seeds that Marsha and Hannah sent me. Also some dill, cilantro and basil seeds. I have onion plants and sweet potato plants that Jon gave me. And I bought cucumber, tomato, pepper, cauliflower, and tomatillo plants from a local organic farmer.
Last year my garden had as many flowers in it as vegetables. The Hollyhocks towered above the fence and the Morning Glories grew thick on the rebar trellis at the center.
This year we’re eating a lot more vegetables. So I moved the Hollyhocks and planted cucumbers, which I’ve had little luck with in the past, where the Morning Glories were.
It’s my first time planting sweet potatoes and onions both of which will ripen in the fall. I never would have planted cauliflower before, but now Jon eats it raw as a snack.
I mulched my garden with old hay as I usually do.
I worked on it in the morning and then again in the afternoon when the heat wasn’t as bad. It felt so good to have my bare feet and hands in the earth again. I hosed them both off when I was done, the icy well water cooling me and cleaning me up at the same time.
I went into the bathroom just as the sun was shining through the space in the curtain and throwing a shadow on the tile behind the sink of two of the three plastic dogs sticking out of the bar of soap.
Laura made the soap with the three dogs and sent it to Jon and me. At first, we weren’t going to use it, but it was too much fun not to. I get a kick out of washing my hands with it. And when the soap is all gone, I’ll three cute plastic dogs to find a place for around the house.
I didn’t take a single picture. I was too busy pulling out gowns, from the four giant orange bags that Jon and I brought to Bishop Maginn today. Tania Woodward who works at The Mansion gave them to us, prom gowns she collected over the years.
The long silky skirts wrapped around each other in loose knots, the thin straps tangled and hooked on hangers. It didn’t take long for a few of the students to join me and Sue Silverstein in separating them. We straightened out the gowns, hanging them from the line strung across Sue’s art room used for drying prints. We laid them out on the tables or held up the special ones with big tulle skirts for the other students who stood cautiously watching, to claim.
Soon there were girls all over the dresses, trying them on in the bathrooms, helping each other with the zippers, and giving their opinions on who looked good in which dress.
I held one out to a girl I’d never met before wearing black pants and a black t-shirt. Her hair cropped close to her skull was covered by a black cap. She told me she didn’t wear dresses. I suggested one of the short dresses with a pair of pants under it. She put it another way “Do I look like I wear dresses?” She asked me.
That time I got it.
I loved how she stood up for herself, made sure she was being clear. I wished I had a tux her size to offer her.
There was one tuxedo in the bags which one of the boys tried on and liked even though it hung off his shoulders. Some of the other boys jokingly pulled on gowns over their clothes. But I was serious when I offered the dresses to them in case any of them were really interested.
One girl who sat in the middle of all the commotion staring at her phone as if she wasn’t interested in the least eventually wandered shyly over to Sue and me. I asked her if she wanted a dress and she nodded her face turning red. I wasn’t sure where to start, so I asked her what color she liked and she didn’t hesitate. “Pink,” she said. Then asked if any had sleeves.
Sue held up a strapless gown with a long silky skirt and sequined bodice. The back of the dress tied like an upside-down corset, so I offered to help her once she got the dress on. The bust was a little big and the skirt a little too long. But Sue said that’s what socks were for and that the girl’s grandmother could hem the skirt.
When we left girls were walking up and down the hallway wearing evening gowns. Others had a couple of dresses draped over their arms, headed for the bathrooms.
“Once word gets around the girls will be coming in and for the rest of the day,” Sue said.
It was so much fun watching the students get excited over the dresses, even Jon finally understood the appeal. He didn’t get it when Tania first mentioned the gowns to him. But he started to understand when we picked them up on Sunday and he saw how Tania and I reacted to them.
“It’s a girl thing,” he said. And I could see him trying to grasp it.
Today he experienced the buzz and excitement around the dresses and I could see in his face that he felt it too.
Jon took lots of pictures of the girls in their gowns if you want to smile, take a look at them here.
It was in late winter that my friend and bookkeeper, Anne, told me about the tree identification walk that the Agricultural Stewardship Association was holding just five minutes from the farm. This Saturday they were having a Wildflower Walk, at the same place.
I passed the word on to a couple of other friends who I thought might be interested. So on Saturday morning my friend and poet Jackie Thorne met me at the farm and we drove to the Wildflower Walk together. There we met Anne and my friend Margaret (who is also a poet) on the small bridge that leads to the path into the forest.
Kerry was our teacher again. Full of enthusiasm and knowledge, he carefully answered every question and pointed out not only the flowering wildflowers but the ones that had already bloomed or would later in the season.
I took pictures and wrote down the common names of the plants (I wouldn’t even try to spell or remember the scientific names). I’d seen many of the leaves before, and had no idea what they were. Others were more familiar to me.
But Kerry didn’t just point out the flowers, he told their story too. Mostly I just listened taking in the information, knowing that some of it would stick and some of it would be lost to me.
But it turned out that for me, the walk wasn’t just about learning about wildflowers. Something else happened that I hadn’t anticipated.
This was the first time I was in a social situation with these three friends who knew of each other but didn’t really know each other.
When I get together with my friends it’s almost always individually, one at a time. But here I was on a Saturday morning, surrounded by my friends.
I talked to them and they talked to each other. As we hiked the hills we broke off into smaller groups, then came back together. We moved and talked easily with and around each other.
I never would have even thought of inviting them all over for lunch or dinner. It would never have occurred to me to try to get together with them all at the same time.
But, it turns out, the woods were the most natural place for us to gather. All of us drawn to nature, to learning, to thoughtfulness and observation.
How nice, I thought, that these friends of mine could come together in such an enjoyable way. And that’s when I realized that my friends are my community. That among them I feel like I belong.
And I think the woods were an important part of this new understanding for me. As if the woods was the fourth friend. The one who really brought us together.
I sat on the ground, the fence in front of me, twisting wire around wire. I removed most of the mesh fencing I’d put up a couple of years ago. Some of it was still in good shape, but I liked the idea of replacing it all.
I’d used up 150 feet of turkey wire but still had to secure it to the fence that was already standing. That’s what I was doing when I saw the woodpeckers.
I don’t think they saw me, or if they did, they didn’t care. It was a pair of them. Small black and white bodies and wings with a touch of red on their heads. They landed on the trunk of the old Hawthorn tree directly in front of me.
They traveled the tree, up and down the trunk then flitting from branch to branch. Woodpeckers come to my feeder all winter long, but I’d never seen a pair flirting like these two were.
There are hawthorn trees sprouting all along the fence line. Their branches hang down over the fence in places and are covered in long thorns. Perfect for keeping the sheep away from the fence. There are lots of saplings too. I’m hoping they’ll grow quickly, filling in the spaces between our pasture and the neighbors.
I think once they’re done, my fences should last a while and when then fail, they’ll be easy to repair. I also won’t have to worry about the sheep getting their heads caught in them like the mesh fences.
I hope to get them all done this week, or by next weekend anyway. I’ll be going back to my studio tomorrow for the first time in over a week to finish up my Cat Calendar quilt. I’m looking forward to working with fabric again instead of wire.
It was a beautiful spring day today and I was happy to be working outside. But it will be good to get back to my studio and my hand could use the rest.
Looking through the turkey wire fencing at the green grass on our neighbors property.
The weeks before our vacation Jon would talk about it as if he wasn’t really interested in spending a lot of time away from home. “We’re really only gone for three days,” he’d say. I can blog on Sunday and then when I get back on Thursday.
But I knew as we got closer to the day we were leaving, he begin to suggest we leave early. And that’s just what happened. By Thursday we’d decided to leave on Saturday, driving a couple of hours and staying overnight in a motel on the road.
A thin layer of slushy snow covered the ground this morning. We were lucky to only got a bit of the snowstorm that hit the northeast. It’s noon now and the snow is already melted. The pansies are popping their drying heads up and the sheep and donkeys are grazing once again.
These are the glasses I bought at the Dead Pond Antique shop today. Jon and I stopped in while we were driving around looking for clouds and snow-covered mountains. The older man who sold them to me said that some kind of cheese used to be sold in them and was a little surprised that I had never seen them before.
They’re small only about 3 1/2″ tall. I thought they might spark some memories in someone out there reading this.
I took this picture of Jon today when we were sitting under the apple tree watching the animals.
Jon never believes me when I tell him he’s handsome. But when I showed him this photo, even he agreed that I had taken a nice picture of him. I do believe, that if I keep trying, someday he’ll be able to see himself the way I see him.