I Am a Dreamer

Autumn, this has always been my favorite time of year. I absolutely love it! Last year I kinda missed it, so I am enjoying it even more this year. It is still unreasonably hot and humid here. The horses are already getting their winter coats. The grass is growing much slower, everything seems to be slowing down and getting ready for winter. This time of year there is so much to do, harvest festivals, haunted houses, Oktoberfest, art shows, pumpkin carving foods and drinks! But it is also a time to slow down a little, and get cozy. I hope I can pull out a few sweaters and a warm fuzzy blanket or two this year. I don’t care for super cold but I love a little chill in the air. A lovely cool evening listening to the owls and watching the bats fly overhead. A crisp morning of hiking, drinking hot chocolate and not sweating. Sitting around a fire and telling scary stories! It is all just so enchanting to me, ahh!

Now on to real business! As a reader of my blog you know I had some really bad health issues last year. Actually November is the one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. It is something I would love to forget! But I’m not sure that is possible, I have daily reminders (aches and pains) and lots and lots of bills! My health insurance alone costs me a small fortune. This is not good because I am not working right now, yikes! I want to work but some days it is all I can do to take care of all the farm chores. I still don’t have all my strength and stamina back. I have neuropathy in my thigh which prevents me from standing for any length of time, very annoying! I am going to physical therapy 3 times a week. So…I’m trying to figure out what to do. I want to do something meaningful and fulfilling. I want to be creative. I have lots of skills to use and I want to share with other people. You know, be useful in some way!  They say, “Do what you love and the rest will follow.” I have been struggling with this.

Then one day it hit me!!! Something I have always dreamed about was owning a bed and breakfast. I love to cook and bake, I love entertaining, I love sharing my talents with others. But I live in a small house and there was no way for me to do that. There’s hardly enough room for us, let alone any guests, we would be tripping over each other at every turn! I had this idea about ten years ago, it has evolved, but what I want to do is offer camping at my farm! I am so excited! It is going to be great! And I want to invite you to be involved. Details to follow!

What A Year

This has certainly been an interesting year. Some of it is still a blur. I have definitely had some interesting, although not always wanted, adventures. It was right around this time last year that my health was really declining at an alarming rate. I am VERY grateful to still be alive. Every morning I wake up and take a deep breath and offer thanks that I am still here, breathing. Every day is truly a gift! Not that I want to sound morbid or whiney but when you have a scare, like stage 4 breast cancer, it really drives home the fact that you really don’t know how much longer you will be around, not that any of us do. I don’t plan on going anywhere very soon but, I am going to live whatever life I have left!

I am trying to really notice and appreciate everything I have, friends, love, laughter. Lots of things have changed. Things that used to seem so important to me are not quite as meaningful as they once were. I had given most of my life to horses, something that I will never regret, I lived and breathed horses as far back as I can remember, but right now they are just my companions. No more rigorous training and wishful ambitions of fame and fortune. I have spent decades in the saddle and I cherish every moment. The sounds and smells at the barn are intoxicating and fill me with joy. Horses softly nickering or munching on hay. The sound of hoofbeats and snorting. The sweet smell of fresh feed, new shavings, and leather. The barn has always been a place where I find solace, my happy place. Riding, training, the discipline and physical labor involved in horsemanship is a form of meditation. I have spent many years in my boots and breeches. It is something I will never leave but it is different now.

Art. I am an artist. Everything I do is with an artists touch. I can’t help it, it is who I am. I have struggled for many years trying to make a living as an artist. It is not for the faint of heart! I love creating art, however I do not enjoy trying to market and sell my art. I have been wildly successful at times and I have failed miserably at other times. There is never any steadiness to it. You often end up feeling like a ship tossed about on the sea! “Oh we absolutely love your art, but no we don’t want to actually pay you for it!” UGH! Or “We would love to have you pay us to hang it in our shop.” REALLY? Part of creating art is wanting to share it with others, but at what cost? It is not fulfilling to me to create art and store it in my closet. I enjoy the creative process but I would still like to share it with others and have people care or appreciate what I do enough that I could make a living doing it, but alas this alludes me! Art is sometimes like speaking without words. It can also be like working without pay.

So, after a year of pain and struggling with my health I have no desire, at this time, to continue to struggle with these things, or much else for that matter. I just want to enjoy them. However the bills keep coming and I am not making any money right now. So, whats a girl to do?

Whoa!

Ok, let me back up. Before hurricane Irma blew in I had a few exciting things going on. First of all I had some tests done. I was finally ready to really start getting my health back into my own hands. I went to an office that does alternative as well as western medicine. I saw a nurse practitioner there. I liked her very much. For those of you that don’t know about alternative health care, the doctors really take their time asking you questions and really trying to get to the cause of your issues. That is very comforting to me because I feel like they get to know you a little before just doling out a bunch of drugs. I am in a place now mentally and physically that I want to get back into shape. I still don’t have the muscle strength or endurance I had before my cancer. I have been having a lot problems with my shoulder (pain) and my thigh (neuropathy) that is not helping. I also wanted to know how my bones were, fragile, strong, brittle? They sent me for an x-ray, extensive blood tests and per my request a bone density test. I bought a supplement called Restore to help my body get going again.

I am excited to tell you my tests all came back great! My blood work  looked almost as good as it did pre cancer! My X-rays showed only soft tissue damage in my shoulder! And my bone density test was awesome I am .1% less likely than other people my age to have a fracture! No more Xgeeva! Watch out horses! It won’t be long now before I am back in the saddle again! This is all very reassuring and now I know I can work on these things. I am going to a physical therapist and an Alexander Technique teacher to help with my shoulder. I do have some damage in my spine, thinning of my discs that is probably causing the problem with my thigh. I am going to see a neuropathist soon but in the meantime I am using some essential oils and taking vitamin E, lions mane mushroom, and turmeric to try and support the nerves. It feels good to be trying to help myself, thats just who I am!

I also got to play my first cello “gig” it was so much fun! I played the Beatles songs, Imagine and Let it Be, with my friends Chris and Jim at The Backyard Barn. Im not sure how good it sounded? But it was a first for me and although I have to admit I was a little nervous it was a great experience that I will never forget! Things are looking up!

Irma, you b*#ch!

Well we made it. All our hard work paid off. We were pretty prepared. Scott and I worked for days getting everything put away or tied down, we got groceries and feed. We were as prepared as we could be. Jerry actually made it home from Alabama Friday night. It was unnerving and kinda scary. Our power went off at around 10:30pm. The hurricane came through at around 2 am. All you could do was listen and wait, and wait, and wait! It seems like the wind and rain went on forever! I was afraid to think about what I might wake up to, who could sleep? Maybe I should say, I wondered what I would see when daylight broke? Fortunately, although our property was a mess with limbs and branches everywhere, we had no major damage. It looked bad but all the animals were ok not even a scratch!

The first day seemed like a fog, shell shocked, wandering around on no sleep and so many frazzled nerves. But we are here and we are ok. Start up the generators, one for water and one for the house. Ah, the lovely sound and smell of generators first thing in the morning! Next to check our road. We live on a dirt road a little off the beaten path. We had big old oaks go down on the road. We had to cut our way out. So sad, we love our trees. But all the neighbors checked in and everyone seemed ok. We are a hardened group of tough guys back here in the woods! Get out the chainsaws and the tractors and maybe a beer!

As you could probably tell, I have a love/hate relationship with the generators. They make life livable in Florida with no power. We ran the fridge, the tv, and a small window unit ac off of one. And twice a day we would crank up the other one for water, drinking, flushing, and showers. But…THEY ARE SO LOUD!!! My head was pounding from the low pressure and the noise and even though the ac is running, its hard to sleep with the constant racket. Not to mention, they stink! And I can’t start them, so if it happens to run out of fuel, you have the momentary relief of silence, but then 10 minutes later the heat starts creeping back in! Now normally I can deal with some heat. I have lived in Florida for a long time. But now I have to take medication which makes it almost impossible to deal with the heat!

So… this will be alright. Kinda like camping. Camping is fun! Well maybe not in 100 degree weather, but I can deal. Jerry has to go back to Alabama and Scott has to go to work. I am here alone. So I set out with the best intentions. The dogs seem to think it is great fun with so much new stuff to explore! I am trying to clean up after the storm, put things back and trying to feel as normal as possible. I have to take frequent breaks but I am staying in good spirits. Lots of people have it a lot worse, I am still grateful. Trying to find fuel to keep my life line(generator)going is tough. There is none to be found and if you do find some, the lines are horrendous! We have plenty of food, no emergencies, just taking my time, slow and steady. Five days without power, my patience is running thin.

As I am puttering around the yard trying to put my life back together. The dogs, who apparently think hurricane clean up is fun, come barreling into me from behind and knock me down! I didn’t even see it coming! So here I am…sitting in the yard, dogs licking my face, wondering if I broke my leg? Wondering how I am going to get back to the house? I just lost it! I started crying, I was hysterical! No one could even hear me scream over the damn generator! I let out a weeks worth, or maybe more, of frustration, tension, and fear! Then I realized I had not broken my ankle, just a sprain. I got myself up, brushed myself off, hobbled back to the house, found an ice pack and laid on my bed in the noisy ac. I’m just not sure how much more of this I can take. I am tired and hot, and now my ankle hurts! Power came back on! Life is good

 

Whirlwind

So…I wanted to tell you about my awesome first “gig” playing my cello, that happened last week. I wanted to tell you all the great medical test results I have been receiving. I wanted to tell you about a new business I am going to start. I wanted to tell you of the wonderful concert I was supposed to go to last Wednesday but, IRMA!

As it turns out we seem to be right in the crosshairs of the largest hurricane on record, Irma. The last few days have been very strange indeed. Getting supplies and feed. Cleaning and organizing. Boarding up windows. Sleepless nights as this thing approaches. There’s no leaving, the roads are parking lots. As early as Thursday fuel was scarce, grocery store shelves were bare, people were getting crazy! The hurricane will be here late Sunday early Monday. We are as prepared as we can be. We have generators so we should be able to run our well pump and keep the refrigerator on. I have all my water jugs and water troughs filled up just in case. I think we have plenty of fuel. We got charcoal for the grill. Flashlights and batteries. We have lived in Florida for many years so this is not our first “rodeo”. We live inland so we are not too worried about flooding. Our biggest problem is usually power outages, we had no power for 7 days one year.

The animals are prepared. Horses have plenty of hay and water. They have pieces of cloth with my phone number braided into their manes and tails. I wrote info on their hooves with a sharpie. They will be wearing leather halters with info attached. They will be able to go in and out of the barn as they choose. They have waterproof bug spray on, the mosquitos are already awful. They will wear fly masks to protect their eyes from debris. The biggest concern is trees falling on fences and them getting out and frightened. The front get will be chained.

We have put all the lawn furniture away. Put metal on our windows. Parked the cars by the house, not under the trees. And I have been cleaning everything! Is it just me? When ever I feel tense I want to clean! Not to mention I am a nose person, I am very particular about smells and when the power is off for a few days well, it gets kinda musty in here. That makes me crazy! So I am pouring bleach down drains. I made carpet dust with borax and essential oils. Scrubbing sinks, tubs, and toilets. Mopping floors. Laundry, lots of laundry! This helps to calm me and helps me get everything organized. I like to be methodical in my approach. I know that when one area is cleaned and organized I know I’m done with that area.

I’m pretty sure that were we live this will all just be a huge annoyance. A whirlwind of work and worry. Because of the evacuations from South Florida and crazy traffic I missed seeing Apocolyptica a group of four cellos, in Orlando last Wednesday. I was really looking forward to this. I had already purchased my tickets and probably won’t get my money back, bummer! I have to put my exciting new business plans on hold. And I have to spend extra money on all these storm preparations. I hope we don’t lose any of our beautiful old oaks. I pray that all will be safe. We do have plenty of wine…wish us luck!

Well, Well, Well…

We have been working nonstop on the farm. Putting in irrigation and electric to the out buildings. Although this is a lot of work in this hot sweltering weather,  when its all said and done it will be so worth it! I am so sick of dragging kinking hoses and extension cords around the yard. You should hear me cussing when I drag that hose all the way down to were I need it and then, right when I get there, the water stops because of a kink, or four, all the way back at the faucet, its not a pretty sight! Lol I’m not even sure how many hoses Jerry has run over with the lawn mower.  All I know is we have a stack of patched together hoses! We spent most of the week digging trenches and getting wire and pipes. Connecting all this and hooking up waterers and sprinklers. I can’t wait to flip the switch! Yay! Everything works! No leaks! Ahh finally, no more hoses. Peace of mind with automatic waterers. I feel a sense of relief. It will be so nice when we go out of town to know that the animals will have fresh clean water. Not that my pet sitter doesn’t keep everything in perfect order but, why not make it easier for everyone?

I have been trying to make everything around here as easy and efficient as I can. Having a farm and animals is a lot of work as it is. So why not make it as easy as possible? Being sick last year and having trouble doing a lot of my regular chores made this more apparent to me. Why struggle with a sore back and bending over when you can easily set up a wash table for the dogs? Why drag hoses when you can just turn on a faucet? Why make more work for yourself? Work smarter, not harder! Finally it is happening! It is so rewarding to look back on all this hard work and know it is done.

Wait a minute…not so fast…After working all day in the hot sun and coming in for the evening, enjoying a good shower…the water stopped! The well is not working! No water! All right I guess there is never a good time for your well to go out, but now… REALLY? We are gonna have to sleep on this one. You don’t really know how much you need water until it’s gone. No coffee, no tea, no toilet!

So all day we are working on this well. Methodically pulling heavy steel pipes out of the ground. Sixty feet, foot by foot. We use an engine lift, a chain fall, and vice grips. The danger here is dropping it down into the well and losing everything, pipes, pump, and all. In hindsight, the well has been acting up, so I guess it wasn’t a total surprise, but still. THIS SUCKS! We find out that the bottom pipe has a hole in it and the water was running out of the tank right back down into the ground. Luckily the pump seems to be ok. Next we have to get new pipes. Then methodically put it all back together piece by piece and lower it back down into the ground. Eight hours later…we have water! Yes! I am so lucky to have these handy guys, I honestly don’t know how I would do it without them! So again, happiness and relaxation set in from a job well done. Shower time! I go to get in the lovely, much anticipated shower. Nice water pressure! Ahh…wait, what is going on the pressure is getting weaker and I can’t get this white soap to rinse off? WAIT! It’s not soap, it’s pipe dope! It’s all over me!  Apparently my shower was the last in the pipe line so all the excess pipe dope (glue) ended up there! We had to take the shower head off and wash it out, it will be fine. I scrubbed the pipe dope off and I will be fine. Just another day on the farm.

Nonsense

I think we are in the midst of an epidemic. An epidemic of nonsense. It is so sad to see people being so petty and disrespectful to everyone and everything. We live in a small town and even here I am seeing people with no patience or tolerance for anything. What happened? Where is the kindness and understanding? We have no real traffic where we live but people are so impatient, honking and going around you, or worse, flipping you off for not having the pedal to the metal constantly. Lord forbid you take a moment to get going at a stop light! People are angry and rude so much these days. I remember when the news was actually news. When it was reported facts, not he said she said garbage. Now it is all about entertainment and what sells. People make big deals out of nothing. And then when there is a big deal it gets over hyped so much people are always disappointed.

The other day we had an eclipse. It was really cool and kind of magical. We were at home, on our little farm, working in the yard and we stopped what we were doing and took it all in. We saw the strange change in the light, we grabbed our glasses and watched as the moon crossed in front of the sun. We laughed at the dogs running around like crazy playing in the field and we reflected on this interesting phenomenon. It didn’t get totally dark here because we are in Florida but it changed enough. You could feel a little shift in the blazing heat of the day. It takes you out of your everyday routine to maybe…just for a moment… realize there is something bigger out there. Maybe we should be grateful for what we have. Maybe we should stop all this hate and complaining. Maybe we should take responsibility for our actions and stop blaming and finding fault with others. In other words, stop the nonsense. Stop feeding it! But unfortunately, I saw so many people complaining on social media saying the eclipse was a disappointment. Really? The moon moving in front of the sun was a disappointment? I guess with all the hype leading up to it, to make money, the only thing that would have made people happy, and feel they got their moneys worth was if the moon blew up or collided with the sun or something!

I can’t do it! I refuse to fall into all this nonsense. It is a sticky trap! There are so many real, important things to occupy my time. What happened to stopping to smell the roses? Bigger isn’t always better. You know, it truly is the little things that make me the happiest.