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and so, this was christmas…

December 26, 2016

last night, after a very full day of holiday cheer,

i tried to capture the overall feeling of the day in an instagram post.

rather than writing it over again i’m simply going to insert said post here:

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it was definitely a keeper!!

now we are in the extended celebratory state

that exists between christmas and new year’s,

wrapping up the old year before ushering in the new.

the good news is that i did, in fact, finish the calendar.

it didn’t happen in time for christmas gifting, but it will be

arriving before it’s time to turn the cover and begin the first month.

things have a way of working out.

here is our annual family calendar,

an encapsulation of life in photos with our herd this year

to carry over into memories for the new year:

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horsing-around-2017-january

January

horsing-around-2017-february

February

horsing-around-2017-march

March

horsing-around-2017-april

April

horsing-around-2017-may

May

horsing-around-2017-june

June

horsing-around-2017-july

July

horsing-around-2017-august

August

horsing-around-2017-september

September

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October

horsing-around-2017-novemberNovember

horsing-around-2017-december

December

and that’s a wrap!

2016, you’ve been filled with highs and lows

but overall you’ve been a very good year.

and now it’s time to look forward to 2017–

whether that means writing up resolutions, setting intentions,

choosing a word of the year, or putting on your high-heeled sneakers

and that wig-hat on your head to dance the night away,

may you embrace the coming year

with joy and delight!

merry merry and happy happy to you,

each and every one!!

xoxo

working on the calendar

December 18, 2016

sara just called to tell me that the thermometer in the yard is reading -15 degrees.

this makes me feel bad, as i am upstairs at the computer working on a calendar

that is all about the horses…

the horses that are standing out there in fifteen degrees below zero.

yes, they have shelter, and sunny the non-gypsy has a blanket on.

they can huddle together in the shelters and keep each other warm.

but cold is cold, and i can’t do anything about it.

* * * * * * * *

i’d love to tell you that work on the calendar is coming along fantastically,

that i’m ready to order the copies right now.

it’s not true.

i sailed along through march, pulling and editing photos

and dropping them into their places, tweaking when necessary.

then i came to april, the month that muireann arrived.

april is all about muireann.

and then i lost my momentum.

deadline or not, i can only do what i can do.

discipline is a slippery character trait.

so, here’s the story.

we brought home a strap of bright, jingly gold sleigh bells for christmas photos

the evening we lost muireann.

the bells hung in the tack room through november.

we didn’t even try to take photos of the horses wearing them.

finally we faced reality and took a few before the last storm.

yesterday, knowing the big blast was scheduled, we finished the rest just in time.

so i am sitting here trying to push through and complete this project in time

for everyone to have a calendar in time for the new year.

as in, at least ordered by christmas.

the cover was easy–  my ‘bay’ mare won by a mile:

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i’ve been working on some other images to add variety to the pages:

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i’ll be just as surprised as you to find out where these will all fit in.

and the holiday photos?

from youngest to oldest they are:

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cormac mac airt

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meadbh

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si gaoithe

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caoinlean

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tireachan

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sundance, or sunny

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roisin, or rose

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and muireann.

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because at the fuzzy slippers farm,

no one is ever forgotten.

so we have jingle boys,

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and jingle belles.

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and we will have a calendar.

hopefully i will have it ready to roll out for you here

in another week.

in the meantime,

enjoy this week before christmas and be sure to take time to be merry.

solstice is this wednesday and we can look forward to the return of the light.

happy holidays.

xoxo

this one is for muireann

October 25, 2016

this is so damn hard to write,

but we have lost our sweet and sassy girl muireann.

our hearts are so heavy with this sudden and inexplicable loss.

when we welcomed muireann to the fuzzy slippers farm this past spring

we had great hopes of her sharing years of retired broodmare companionship

with her best friend rose, who traveled here from ireland with her

to be foundation mares for the irish rose farm in fort collins.

when the irish rose closed this year,

charlie and jan asked us if we would take muireann into our herd

to live out her years with the six other gypsy horses we had gotten from them.

(and that silly little paint, sunny.)

of course we said yes.

it’s what we do.

and as hard as this hurts,

i would do it again in a heartbeat.

because we loved her.

in honor of muireann,

here’s a little recap of the time we shared.

i really believe that she had a happy life here.

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the day she came felt like christmas.

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she made herself right at home in the turnout.

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muireann was never without her best friend, rose.

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these two were inseparable.

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muireann took her turns in the “workout” rotation…

which generally meant going for a walk to graze.

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although occasionally she was called upon to flex and bend.

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yes, it could be a grueling workout routine…

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she loved all of the attention showered on her by family members.

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muireann seemed particularly fond of having her own “room” all to herself at night.

that, and being the first one fed morning and night.

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yes, when the herd got sorted out at feeding time,

the others would look at us dumbfounded as they waited for us

to prepare muireann’s hot mash.

they couldn’t believe we actually “cooked” for her…

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they weren’t as worried about the occasional alfalfa nosegay.

they all get those little treats from time to time.

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a favorite summertime activity was hanging out with rose under the lean-to.

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and those special times when she had the turnout all to herself,

and with that the luxury of taking time out from grazing for a delightful roll.

if you’d like, you can click to see a segment of her pasture antics *HERE*.

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as autumn settled in around us, muireann continued to enjoy those grazing walks.

since sara is working on brace-free mobility in her knee recovery, she and muireann

got out to the field every day last week.

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this was taken just last wednesday.

muireann already had the thickest and longest winter coat in the herd.

although we now have a stack of horse blankets,

we were fairly certain that this girl would have plenty of hair to keep her warm.

our lives were forever changed on saturday.

i cannot fathom this void, this emptiness.

i can only hope that somewhere, in an emerald green field of deep grass,

muireann stepped off the rainbow bridge to see her son arden,

nuala and laochan, and temple bar galloping towards her and that, fleet of foot,

she joyfully ran out to meet them.

and until i see them again and ask about that reunion,

i shall remember her as she is in this picture:

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standing at her gate as the sun dips low in the sky,

waiting for the feed wagon with her constant companions rose, otis, and sam.

i love you, muireann,

always and forever.

* * * * * * * * *

i’d like to thank charlie and jan cox for the opportunity to welcome muireann into our hearts and our herd.

it was a hard phone call to make early on sunday morning.

they were loving and supportive and knew we had done everything in our power.

this i know to be true.

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she is knee deep in emerald grass,

just as she deserves to be.

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go softly

August 12, 2016

it’s been a long, hot. labor-intensive summer,

yet i still find myself wondering where the time has gone.

somewhere along the way i realized that focusing on the things

that i wasn’t able to accomplish would be the end of me,

that the only solution was to embrace each moment as it came

and take care of each situation as it arose in a

reasonable and logical way.

i have the ability to be pragmatic,

but find as i get older that it is certainly not

my strong suit.

in honesty, it never really has been…

however, i do still possess my inclination to strive for excellence,

and sometimes the only way out is through.

so i made the unusual decision to simply go softly,

to be kind to myself and others and to allow doing the best i could

to be enough.

go softly

my cameras and my computer gave me a creative outlet for putting things

straight with this new perspective.

after the rapid pace of activities on the farm i could sink into

images and edit in the softness that i was craving.

i can tell you right now that if you are reading this on a small screen

these images will only look blurry.

please take the time to look at them in a large format,

and click on some to see them even bigger.

i tried to look at some of these on my iPhone and they just look ew.

feathering the nest

i walked around the house and snapped photos of small vignettes that would

lend themselves well to a soft, diffusive edit.  that’s the lens through which

i wanted to see my world.

(so much for pragmatism…)

seeing

it really allowed me to seek and find the beauty everywhere around me.

morning windowsill

going softly was so much easier when i could think of this

when i was outside mucking pens in 90+ degree heat,

dragging heavy water buckets to thirsty plants,

or even discovering mice in the house..  again.

ew.

a time to dream

departing dragonfly 2

even witnessing the end of life come for this dragonfly

transcending

i had the ability to see its unmistaeable beauty through a softened lens.

call it escapism, call it what you will–

having a soft place to retreat and recharge kept me going.

so i took my pragmatic-less thinking to the next level:

i went into my photo archives and pulled old images

from times when i remembered the joy of going softly.

often these involved travel.

reflecting on paris

the evening we ate at a sidewalk cafe in paris and sat transfixed

by the incredible reflections on the mirrored walls of the building

across the street–  reflections that it turns out could only be captured

at that time of day.

pere lachaise

we love to wander through the old, old cemeteries–  this one

is pere lachaise.

i didn’t always like this, but now i recognize the peace, the quiet,

the immortalized beauty of honoring those who went before.

remembering what i never knew

those who went before

it’s such an opportunity for pause and reflection.

pensive

at the luxembourg gardens one morning i saw this little tyke carrying the pole

while his father carried the sailboat back to the rental booth after a little

boating on the pond.

such a classic vision of childhood.

moored

a boat moored along the seine.  sometimes the simplest things

beg to be photographed.

a i really wish i lived near a river.

au lapin agile, montmartre

walking the hilly streets of montmartre i always feel pulled back to

turn-of-the-century paris and the art world that thrived there.

penitent

one of the many reasons i love paris.

this was a chance encounter of a story in the making…

you supply the narrative.

quiet light

so, so many churches and cathedrals with ample opportunity

to find quiet beauty.

word.

inside shakespeare and company bookstore.

such an important message, and so timely now.

louveciennes

in louveciennes, a short train ride outside of paris–

the home of anais nin.

because i will follow my passions and interests everywhere they take me.

and then, there’s normandy…

soft gaze

an old castle on a hillside with a guard donkey.

fluffy hillsides

and a moat full of sheep.

lots and lots of sheep.

connelles

connelles, the town we stay in when we travel there.

safety first

there is a small branch of the seine that flows through the resort and

around a small island where the swans nest.

going calling

to walk through the countryside gives a timeless feeling.

country cluckers

this group of french cluckers could not have been more picturesque.

set in stone

textures intrigue me, and there are so many aged to perfection.

swan-y river

out on the island where the swans nest,

at sunset.

bank of the seine

horses along the bank of the seine.

morning mist along the seine

between connelles and giverny, early on a fall morning

before the mist has dissipated.

giverny

walls of roses and hollyhocks along the rue claude monet in giverny.

normandy poppies

oh, those normandy poppies.

espalier

espaliered fruit trees

rock roses

and roses climbing rock walls.

reflections of monet

monet’s lily pond in the late afternoon light.

librairie

and in rouen, a quote written on a bookstore window.

i am going to buy glass chalk and write quotes and poetry on my own windows.

greenie's english twin

in london, i found greenie’s twin in a kensington park.

(r.i.p., greenie)

cygnet

and an adolescent cygnet on the pond in hyde park.

virginia's roses

in rodmell, the wall of roses outside virginia woolf’s bedroom at monk’s house.

shared roses

these are the roses that i used to create the double exposure with my own rose.

vanessa's welcome

the entrance to charleston farmhouse where i always envision

vanessa bell in the doorway,

fish out of water

where fish thrive out of water,

portal

and where portals to unknown realms exist in the garden wall.

charleston hollyhock

oh, the dreamy quality of an english garden.

time

and finally, a brief acknowledgement of time.

I have a very conflicting relationship with that entity,

to put it mildly.

i am far more comfortable with the idea of time as cyclical and nature-based

rather than linear and timeline-oriented.

surely there is a club or organization somewhere for like-minded thinkers.

if i wasn’t such an introvert i’d consider joining it.

* * * * * * * * * *

and finally, to acknowledge another aspect of time and going softly,

the irish rose farm has reached the end of its era.

this has caused me to look back on the highlights of our journey together

and reflect on the wonderful moments that we have shared since our paths

intersected on a cloudy february day in 2011.

we had just bought sunny, our paint gelding, as a christmas present

to ourselves two months earlier.

feeling that three of us sharing one horse could be made more fun

with the possible addition of a second horse and having discovered

the magic of the gypsy horse online,

we discovered that a breeder was located only an hour away.

we called and made an appointment,

and the rest is history.

our lives are forever changed by having met charlie and jan

and their amazing band of gypsies.

smitten with Rose

this girl caught my eye and my heart at that first meeting.

seeing is believing

she has been a lesson in the power of intent, sprinkled with magic.

meeting Leannan

leannan was the first stallion i’d ever truly met, and i was dumbfounded that we

could walk right into the pen with him and his bachelor buddies

and be surrounded with love.

Meadbh is born

there was the night we spend waiting for meadbh to be born,

watching mama cahir on the video feed until birth was imminent.

i had never seen a foal born until meadbh.

Cormac's foaling day

there was the night two weeks later when we repeated the process and stayed

late into the night waiting for rose to have her baby.

rose had other plans, preferring to go back outside in the morning

and give birth to cormac when no one was watching.

Rose and Cormac

it was still magical to see her with hours-old cormac later that day.

getting to know you

that was certainly the summer of foal love.

claiming Cormac

meabh and cormac claimed us in those first weeks.

charlie and jan and their irish rose farm

were like a fairy tale for us,

one that could only end with “and they lived happily ever after…”.

Irish Rose Farm

sometimes fairy tale endings can be happy without remaining unchanged and stagnant.

the irish rose farm has been sold, its corrals standing empty as the breeze

blows the dry grasses rather mournfully until the new owners move in

with their own herd of horses.

the remainder of the gypsy herd went together with the gypsy vardos

to a new breeding farm up by cody, wyoming where they have three new friends

and over a thousand acres to call their own.

Muireann in turnout

well, all except this girl.

muireann came to live here with us.

Rose and Muireann

she and rose, who have been together since they boarded the plane

in ireland that would bring them to america, will live out the rest of their days

together enjoying the good life of retired broodmares.

Fuzzy Slippers Farm

and now it’s up to us at the fuzzy slippers farm to share the amazing legacy of

the gypsy horse with anyone interested.

no breeding, no sales.

just family.

forever grateful to charlie and jan for bringing us together

and precipitating change that allowed us provide the horses with this wonderland.

enjoy your travels and new adventures.

thank you, with love, from muireann, rose,

tireachan, caoinlean, si gaoithe, meadbh, cormac,

and our honorary gypsy, sunny.

towards the light

always keep your face turned toward the sun.

sunny flowers

shine your light on everyone you see.

and go softly.

xoxo

 

 

 

weeds and seeds, fluff and stuff

June 20, 2016

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some days are more interesting than others.

those days i rush for the camera and hastily try to capture a moment

that is gone altogether too soon.

lately i’ve realized that i’m not actually capturing those moments at all.

in fact, sometimes i miss them.

did you ever see the film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?

in this film character sean o’connell (sean penn) is focusing his camera on a snow leopard,

but not clicking the shutter–  just focusing on the ghost cat through

his zoom lens:

Walter Mitty: When are you going to take it?

Sean O’Connell: Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally,

I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.

Walter Mitty: Stay in it?

Sean O’Connell: Yeah. Right there. Right here.

 i replayed that part over and over.

i knew it meant something to me.

i wrote down the quote and i’d like to paint it on the wall of my studio.

don’t get me wrong–  i love photography, love my cameras,

and love to experiment and play with the images.

i just need to stay clear about what those images are for,

because i’ve noticed that i’m not really photographing lately.

i’m just taking pictures, documenting,

texting, instagramming…

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today was really hot, and i suddenly had this pure desire to grab

the nikon and walk the property–  to look at what there was to see, not because

anything was happening but because life was happening.

because suddenly, after weeks of cold and snow and rain and wind,

it is full-on summer and i realized that it is beautiful out there in the way

that’s easy to miss when you focus on the busy-ness.

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it was interesting to download the photos and look at what caught my eye.

i have always loved living, growing things, and it was so evident in the number of times

i photographed the same object repeatedly.

the lovely thing is that there was never a sense that i really had to have that shot, though.

seeing it was enough.

* * * * * * * *

for those of you wh0 really like to know what’s been going on,

here’s a brief update:

i knew this little duo was going downhill.

we lost little camille (the white and gray one that always reminded me

of a bunny) two weeks ago.  she was somewhere between 16 and 20.

with a shelter pet you are often left to guess at their ages, and although

the shelter said she was two, the vet we took her to after we adopted her

said it was likely she was six.  we had her fourteen years.

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oliver, the black one, was diagnosed with FIP a couple of months ago.

it’s an untreatable disease, and it is taking him quickly.

reading the research i learned it’s often found in cats from shelters.

oliver is the one cat that did not come from a shelter.

we got him fifteen years ago from a goat farm where he had been injured

by a goat kick.

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i am losing my weaving buddy.

these are sad days.

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on a much brighter note, jill is going to turn this thrifted find

into my new bathroom vanity.

i’m pretty excited about that.

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just a couple of short weeks ago we had many mornings that looked like this.

it’s hot and dry now–  not muddy at all.

in fact, we just ran the sprinklers for the first time on friday.

and the pool is up–  ready for those little grandkids to come for a splash!

(and for the big kids to float around in with their beverage of choice…)

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sara had knee surgery the first week of june which has her out of commission

for the summer.  she made the most of the nice days before surgery by creating an

obstacle course for the horses and putting them through their paces from the ground.

the gypsies love this kind of challenge–  to them it is more of a playground.

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the non-gypsy tries real hard to be brave,

but he still needs depends from time to time…

even the retired broodmares like the obstacle course,

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although they will tell you that the best part is maintaining the grounds.

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these horses do love to eat!

oh, heck–  who am i kidding?!

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there has been a bit too much of this lately!

we need to knock that off.

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hmmm…

look at the nice tuck on those front feet–

training her to bow will be a snap!

so, that’s what’s new.

although some always find the grass greener on the other side of the fence,

i’m content to stay on my own side.

it’s plenty green for me right here.

happy summer, friends!

i went to california and i got a new horse, but not at the same time

April 29, 2016

hello, sweet california sunshine!!

as i write this snow is falling outside my window,

so revisiting these photos is particularly welcome today…

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in early april i made a trip home to see the folks,

spending a day in san francisco with my friend laurie

before taking the shuttle down to monterey.

laurie and i are alike in our love of art and nature,

equally comfortable is fine museums, treasure-seeking on beaches,

or wandering along coastal trails.

this particular day held all three.

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to my great delight, the legion of honor museum was hosting an art exhibition

of pierre bonnard’s works, the first such exhibition on the west coast

in fifty years!  brandt and i are great fans of bonnard’s work, and i was

under strict instructions to bring home a copy of the exhibition catalog!

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i’ve been missing art museums an awful lot lately, but i didn’t realize how much

until we entered the building.  oh, my!  there is such an atmosphere in a good art

museum–  hushed reverence, awe, and an inspirational electricity that sets

me vibrating.  these are, as virginia woolf might have called them, my “moments

of being”–  an incredible sense of synchronicity and the belief that all things

are possible.  i feel like i could walk right into a painting and inhabit it, make a

new life right beside the brush strokes.  having seen a number of these pieces hanging

in other museums around Paris as well as the fabulous exhibition we were lucky

enough to have at the denver art museum a number of years ago,

it also had an element of deja vu, time travel,

and a heartwarming familiarity.  it was absolutely lovely.

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after we finished looking at the bonnard paintings we wandered a bit through

the legion’s permanent collection.

it’s impressive.

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looking up at that gorgeous ceiling i felt like i could have been anywhere

in old europe.

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this raphael is one of their prized pieces.

i thought it was very fitting that the sitter was holding rose

when she was a baby.

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i could look at monet’s work every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it.

i’m studying impressionist work right now and must say that of all the art

movements in history the impressionists’ work elicits the strongest response

for me.  the interplay of light and color along with the capture of the moment

in all its sensuousness makes me giddy with delight.

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also, a lovely van gogh painting of a shelter on montmartre.

i wish i could have walked through montmartre in those days.

it’s still incredibly charming but the vistas are not open any longer…

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and look what we found when we exited the museum into the brilliant sunlight!!!

some things are meant to be!

we had to stop for a little petting session and discussion, don’tcha know?

now i need a wirehaired dachshund.  i don’t have one.

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so.  a little gear-switching and there we were on a coastal trail looking for

the land’s end labyrinth.  i simply love the california coastline.

it does have patches of white sandy beaches, but its rocky continental edge

is so breathtakingly beautiful.

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we walked and walked and walked some more,

climbing a bazillion steps with some incredible vistas, only to find that we

had passed the labyrinth and had to backtrack.

this place is not only hidden from the trail, but unmarked as well.

it’s like a well-kept secret intended only for the strong of heart.

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so worth it!

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we climbed up the hill behind it so that we could take photos looking down

and “land’s end” is an apt descriptor.  the view from this point was astonishing.

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that bridge was a constant presence throughout our day.

the water sparkled, the sun bronzed us, and we had a chance to stroll and chat

and just enjoy time at a leisurely pace.

we finished with a trip to cheese plus and got duck sandwiches on dutch crunch bread

because tradition is very important!

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once i got to monterey i walked the neighborhood and was seasonally stunned once again,

as in oh my gosh look at how green and growing and blooming everything is!!

(remember that it’s snowing here right NOW.)

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i had promised to take my sister whale watching for her april birthday,

so i made reservations ahead of time for a day forecast to be 81 degrees.

which it wasn’t.  at all.

it was gray, overcast, and the sea was, um, choppy…

but we were going whale watching!!

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see?  shiny, happy people well equipped with snacks and blankets!

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still shiny and happy!

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it was cool to keep track of the water depth and view the stats as we moved along.

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the monterey bay whale watching company kept us well-informed and

pointed out whale sightings, stopping the boat for everyone to get a good look

and take photos which required a fairly strong zoom lens.

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we saw spouts coming up like little fountains, and flukes break the surface

after the whales had refilled their lungs and submerged themselves back into the sea.

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that’s when things started going south…

my sister took a video of the boat bucking up and down while swaying from

side to side, but i’ll spare you that.

take my word for it.

i have sailed the pacific from japan to washington,

i have sailed the atlantic to germany and back,

and i got miserably seasick every time.

i thought i had outgrown it.

i used to get carsick and airsick, too, and don’t any more.

 i hadn’t been on the open sea since 1964 though,

so hadn’t tested that travel mode.

so, nope.  still get seasick.

so the ‘flukes and pukes whale watch of 2016’ ends all my seafaring dreams.

i’m just glad it was me and not them!

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i must tell you that THIS is the reason that i come home to california several times a year!

this is my 94 year old WWII veteran dad who gave me a life of adventure,

the unique opportunity to say i was born in japan, the chance to live in germany

for three years when i was old enough to remember it, who taught me the value

of education and encouraged me to pursue it, who has the strongest moral fiber

of anyone i know, and who bought me my first horse.

it is an honor to call him my dad, and an honor to pay back in some small way

the lifetime of love that he has given me.

he means the world to me!

******************

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on the subject of horses, mine seemed to be glad to see me back at home.

colorado had really put on its green in my absence, and things were looking lush.

we anticipated the arrival of a new herd member…

charlie and jan have decided to retire from the horse business and

to sell the irish rose farm.

their remaining horses will be sold but dear sweet muireann,

one of the original five mares that were imported from ireland

to begin their breeding operation,

needed to be retired herself, and what better placement for her than to live

out the rest of her days with her former herdmates at the fuzzy slippers farm?!

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after a weather delay the big day finally arrived!

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pinch me!  this is my real life!

i live in a postcard.

(albeit currently a very muddy postcard…)

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muireann found security in her old friend rose, and the two are

never far from one another.

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it’s going to take a couple of sassy sisters (si gaoithe and meadbh, not sara and me)

some time to get used to the idea of a new alpha mare…

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but jeepers, does the land look lovely with EIGHT spotted horses grazing

in the grass!

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these girls!  the whole thing just makes me very happy, indeed.

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so, for a few dry and sunny days, we were clean and fluffy.

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we’re taking our time introducing them all to the “one big, happy family” mindset.

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we’ve elected to put muireann in with rose and her boys.

they make a congenial group.

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muireann has a special menu plan, so i’m ‘cooking’ again,

if only in the feed room!

this girl loves her bucket of warm mash morning and night,

along with a side of grass hay.

i need to get her a spittoon, though,

as she’s more inclined to chew the flavor out and discard the rest.

at present she’s only got a tire cuspidor, and i think we can do better than that.

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she’s really pretty, this girl.

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her black is the darkest of the herd, and i love

her two-toned mane.  i’m going to have to do a roll braid on her.

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a few more sunshiny photos to contrast with the present weather front…

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we are taking steps to introduce the sassy sisters to muireann by taking walks

through the green surroundings so that spending time together is fun.

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as long as muireann has a bestie, she’s happy with the new arrangements.

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although there are a couple of boys who want a part of this friendship.

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she’s flattered by that.

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and one more thing:

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any time jill wants to come over and give her a body massage

muireann has promised to clear her calendar!

i hope that spring has all of you feeling positively springy!

thanks for being here!

xx j

marching right along

March 4, 2016

how many colors can the sky hold at sunrise?

how many sound vibrations can the air possibly contain when saturated with birdsong?

how do the robins and the rabbits, the grasses and the tree buds know when it is safe to make their reappearance?

march has come in so delightfully,

gently shaking my senses awake to the coming of a new season.

every year i experience this change with a newfound sense of wonder.

it never gets old.

but before i tell you about the new things,

can i just tell you how beautiful winter was around here?

i do believe it was the prettiest winter that i can remember.

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we had snow blanketing the ground for two solid months–

deep, serious snow that stayed put thanks to deep, serious cold.

i, the one who is always cold and dislikes getting out in icy conditions,

made up my mind this year to take each day, each season as it comes

and to rejoice in it.

this winter has been a gift to me.

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i start each day with a trip out to feed the horses.

could it be any more beautiful?

And I just think that “Why is the world so beautiful?” is a

question that we all ought to be embracing.

Robin Wall Kimmerer

i have made it a daily practice to walk out to the back of the property

after feeding the horses,

a chance to greet the fresh new day, be in motion,

and take in the early morning air.

it has given me a wealth of photo opportunities that i would

otherwise have missed.

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the teasels are perennial favorites in any season,

but the way they wear snow and frost is delightfully showy

against the dormant landscape.

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there were nights so foggy that drivers pulled off the road to wait for it to lift,

so thick it was that the yard light glowed like a faraway full moon…

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and led to mornings like this dawning on a fairy tale world.

One winter day

something will shine out

from an everyday object

and the darkness will flood with light.

Something we have seen

a thousand times

suddenly becomes

the sentinel of

another world.

Marv and Nancy Hiles

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coming back to the house in the mornings i felt so refreshed,

so eager to start the pot of coffee and settle into the comforts of home.

i made great strides towards the fulfillment of a dream,

that of living a poetic life.

When I speak of poetry I am not thinking of it as a genre.  Poetry is

an awareness of the world, a particular way of relating to reality.

So poetry becomes a philosophy to guide a (wo)man throughout her life.

Andrei Tarkovsky

* * * * * * * *

there was a degree of heaviness present on some of those beautiful winter days.

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“mourning the dove”

perhaps there is beauty in that, as well.

 for three years i have heard great horned owls hooting outside

my bedroom windows.

try as i might, i was never able to catch a glimpse of the elusive birds.

that changed just before dawn on a january morning.

hearing the call so clearly, i grabbed my glasses and camera

and scanned the treetops to find my friend.

up at the topmost branch of the ancient tree outside my west window

i saw it, and just as suddenly as i was able to locate it

a second owl flew in to join in a duet.

before i could capture an image of them first one took flight,

and then the other followed it.

i was elated by the morning’s magic!

the very next morning, as i was preparing to feed the horses,

b. called me from out in the yard and told me to come out quickly.

there was an owl on the ground standing guard over another,

hooting repeatedly and refusing to leave it.

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our presence made the owl nervous and it flew up to the top of a nearby tree,

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but returned to its partner when we backed away.

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b. came in and called animal control while i stayed

with the owls.

when he returned i fed the horses and went in to get my big camera.

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it was too late.  just before the ladies from animal control arrived

this lovely owl perished.

we will never know exactly what happened to it, but the nature

of its injuries suggest that perhaps it was hit by a car.

sadly, i was able to stroke its impossibly soft chest feathers,

hold its pawlike feet with incredibly powerful talons,

and gaze into its golden eyes.

twenty-four hours from sighting to loss.

the ladies were so incredibly sensitive to this magnificent bird,

gently placing it in a crate to take it to wild bird care in the hopes

that they could in some way learn from her.

i posted the close-up of the owl on my flikr account,

and it is the most popular post i have had to date–

almost 4,000 people have seen the photo and read the story.

i say this, not out of pride, but because i always look for meaning

in things that otherwise seem senseless and of no purpose.

this owl touched a lot of lives in her passing.

i don’t know the reason, but i know there is one.

The astonishing reality of things

Is my discovery each day.

Each thing is what it is,

And it’s hard to explain to someone how happy this makes me

and how much this suffices me.

All it takes to be complete is to exist.

Fernando Pessoa

* * * * * * * *

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we formally adopted this golden treasure on christmas morning,

right after finishing brunch.

we thought it would be a special way to celebrate providing a forever home

to our special blind treasure.

this photo is to be a poster for the rescue organization.

* * * * * * * *

the horses are quite well, in case you’re wondering.

the shenanigans here never end.

horses and snow provide endless photographic opportunities,

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many of which involve napping, apparently…

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although this is sometimes combined with rehearsal for tryouts with the rockettes.

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rose wanted to make sure you understood the snow situation here,

just in case her full coat of polar fleece makes her look, you know…

heavy.

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lots of frosty morning muzzle shots this winter.

Let me keep company always with those who say ‘Look!’ and laugh in

astonishment and bow their heads.

Mary Oliver

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to be honest, so far march horse antics are looking remarkably like those of winter…

* * * * * * * *

during the wonderful winter months in my studio i took up weaving.

it’s something i’ve wanted to do for a long time, and finally i found

the wonderful little acorn loom on etsy and am happy to say it’s exactly what i’d hoped for!

i absolutely love the rhythmic repetition of hand weaving–

my hands are busy and my mind can just relax and go with the flow.

to be honest, the first time i warped the loom for a small, narrow weave

was the night before the owl incident and the great anticipation was

somewhat diminished by that event.

i decided to go ahead and weave a commemorative piece for ‘my’ owl,

and this is what i created:

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 i then launched into a series of what i am calling “woven prayer flags”–

small weaves made of 100% natural materials that are completely biodegradable

and can be hung outdoors (or indoors), perfect for decks, trees, gardens, etc.

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actually, the past few weeks have been yarn heaven around here.

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felted dryer balls, a scarflet, a big bump merino throw,

and many, many small weaves…

i finally decided that i needed to attempt a small tapestry,

so i warped up the loom and chose my color palette.

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rather than overthink this project and risk displeasure with the outcome,

i took a gentle approach and decided to do an “intuitive weave”.

using what (very) little knowledge i had about weaving,

i put in some twining to space the warp threads and just did it.

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i took an organic approach and just let colors and shapes choose themselves.

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i finished it late one night and just decided to let it sit until morning…

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and then it was time to see what i had done.

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i’m happy with it.

i haven’t decided whether or not to pull out the twining and tie off the ends

or leave it in.  i also have to finish off all the loose strands on the back so

that it will lay nice and smooth.

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i’ve already finished this small wrapper for the folios in a leather journal.

texture, color, handmade goodness–  i tend toward the ‘more is more’ approach.

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as you can imagine, the yarn collection is growing.

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a lot.

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the studio is a very happy place these days.

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and i’ve already picked out the palette for the next project.

* * * * * * * *

in closing, i’d like to say that i’ve borrowed heavily from the quotes that

shawna lemay selects for her wonderful blog, calm things.

i would encourage you to visit her blog and enjoy the beautiful journey

she takes you on each monday morning with her writing and photography.

as i have wintered i have definitely taken many of these snippets to heart

and certainly used them with my own unique spin.

the natural goodness that has filled my days is a source of great delight,

but sometimes i, too, can get lost in the technological possibilities

associated with my passion for photography.

I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically,

in whom feelings are much stronger than reason.  I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous

has power over me.  Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go.

Reality doesn’t impress me.  I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy,

and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. 

No more walls.

Anais Nin

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i most certainly enjoy playing with images–

in this case, apps on my iPhone.

i use my best girl consistently as my model

because she is a natural beauty.

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she is my snow queen in winter.

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and my blooming rose in the spring.

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she and i both often have the monterey bay on our minds.

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on a more somber note, magic, the llama next door, perished this winter.

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i believe that animals have souls, and i believe that her soul

is still present and watching over her companions.

we are all watched over.

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as winter draws to its close in the coming days,

i wish for you bright and joyous signs of spring,

a celebration of rebirth in the cycle of seasons,

and a childlike sense of wonder at the magnificence of it all.

thanks for being here.

xoxo