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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…)


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.


a time to dream

departing dragonfly 2

even witnessing the end of life come for this dragonfly


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.


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.


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.


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.


inside shakespeare and company bookstore.

such an important message, and so timely now.


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, 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.


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

normandy poppies

oh, those normandy poppies.


espaliered fruit trees

rock roses

and roses climbing rock walls.

reflections of monet

monet’s lily pond in the late afternoon light.


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)


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,


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

charleston hollyhock

oh, the dreamy quality of an english garden.


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.





10 Comments leave one →
  1. naturegrl64 permalink
    August 12, 2016 7:59 pm

    So much in this post, and all of it so lovely. All your beautiful soft images, the Paris and England photos (loved seeing the roses outside VW’s bedroom at Rodmell and that amazing photo of the beautiful old French buildings reflected and refracted in the modern glass), and best of all, learning more about how the gypsies came to you. I didn’t realize it has only been five years. Our summer, like yours, has been one of work and busyness, and not much play. But the garden, forest and journal soothe me and keep me sane.

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      August 22, 2016 9:44 pm

      i’m glad you like the photos, Diana! i really do miss the travel but we have certainly taken on a lifestyle that presents a challenge! add to that an elderly dog, my father’s health, and Sara’s knee surgery and it just didn’t feel right to take off for an extended period of time. hopefully next year! and yes, it’s only been five years in this horse business but we do have a tendency to jump in head over heels to follow our passions. they are such lovely companions, though, and it’s like extended family going outside to spend time with them!
      i do enjoy your IG post of the garden, forest, and journal pages so i know how much you enjoy your own activities. we have to do what we love!
      thanks for being here!

  2. August 15, 2016 5:04 pm

    It feels as if I’ve just stepped into Vincent Van Gogh’s world!
    With your camera you’ve created a dreamland. At home and going back to the time in Europe.
    Thank you for the re-cap of everything. From the softness to the beginning of the Gypsy horses and the birth of that foal!
    This is heartwarming and reminiscent. I wonder if you are thinking about another big trip?
    It’s been a really long, hot summer, hasn’t it?

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      August 22, 2016 9:35 pm

      this was to be the year of the next “big trip”, but we decided to put it on hold for a number of reasons. perhaps next late spring/early summer will work better for us. i’m sure that was one of the factors that sent me back to the archives of the travel photos! i miss the personal growth and enrichment that travel provides. i miss everything about it– the scenery, the language, the customs, the art, the learning… so i decided to put Rosetta Stone French on my iPad and hopefully by the time we do travel i will be far more competent in understanding and reading French! it’s the “don’t worry about what you can’t do, focus on what you can do” approach. kind of like someone i know who works to save the wild horses!!
      thanks for being here, always!

  3. mary kelly permalink
    August 15, 2016 8:07 pm

    I’m not sure what the difference is between a “comment” and a “reply”, but I had to think “here we go again” with our parallels through our lives even though we are in entirely different places. I have to go to the library’s wifi to see your pictures, and I’ll do that soon. But I connected with your slowing down and living softly theme. I’ve lately been wondering why so much of what I’m doing is so very CHORE-like, right when I’d really prefer to slow down and smell (and grow) (and photograph) the roses. My Master Gardener bender had me pretty much frantically growing anything I could think of just because I could, which can turn into a lot of hot compost-turning and soil-amending and all the unanticipated stuff that comes along with a sharp steep learning curve. Too many tomatoes. Failed pickles. Ruined Seeds. Crop failures. Gardener Error. Etc.

    Rick and I are talking a lot about this slowing down and living softly thing lately … probably something to do with reaching the age where we recognize the diminishing timeline of our future. It’s time to be freaking flat-out honest about how we want to spend our more and more precious time … as we get older and weaker and slower and require more rest / soft / idle / contemplative time. Turning compost and mucking shit at 90* doesn’t spring to mind. I realized recently I want to go through all my millions of existing photographs and DISPERSE them to whomever they rightly belong. Browsing, editing, reminiscing, and just BEING with the images of my LIFE. Suddenly seems like exactly what I want to do. Right on. You go, girl! Slowly and gently with a soft smile and maybe floating in the pool, right?

    We have a cricket in our garden right outside our door this year. Right in our suburban-bordering-on-downtown garden. I’m charmed beyond all reality. Now I’m hearing more of them. I want to capture their call for my ringtone

    I recently got a cellphone. Low-budget, burner, starter phone, but a start. And a tablet. And I’m getting a computer that will run my old software, which is the only software I KNOW so I can process a million images of a life well and fully lived. Without having to start all over on new operating systems and software, which, well, talk about a learning curve that’ll make me want to slit my wrists. So we slow down and think. And reflect. And go forward softly, selectively, with intent and purpose adjusted to our ACTUAL energy levels until it’s fun and beautiful again. Be very choosy how you spend your time. It won’t last forever.

    I read you loud and clear, Jan. I see you through clear glass, brightly. You are a joy to behold. I love that we keep connecting across parallel tracks. That you think and feel and articulate. You’re my One and Only Best Golden Friend Forever. Let’s you and I start an Introvert’s Social Club. Discussion group. Support group. The Slowly Smiling Introverts. Or something. Laughing Dogs. Skipping Girl. Seeing Eyes. Floating Margaritas. Clacking Toasting Coffee Mugs.

    Love you! Mary

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      August 22, 2016 9:59 pm

      hi, Mare! i knew you’d get it. in fact, after the line “in honesty, it never really has been…” i wanted to add, just for you, (tlpioatasitc) because you are the only person who would get it and dissolve in laughter!! nearly 50 years of yukkin’ it up over that one, you know??!!
      how funny that i actually have crickets as my alarm on my phone! it wakes me up softly and pleasantly, not some harsh technical sound. i love it!
      the parallels continue– always have, always will. this whole “stages of life” thing is weird, how the distance to the end is shorter than the distance back to the beginning. i still have pretty clear memories to the years at RSFitch JHS, so maybe it just means we’ll live a really, really long time.
      here’s to the Introvert’s Social Club– clink, clack!
      love you!!

  4. sageandspirit permalink
    August 16, 2016 4:16 pm

    Go softly.
    This post came at a time when I needed to read these words and see these photos.
    It’s been HOT. It’s been a time of change. And yet, your gorgeous photos and words remind me to go softly and take care of myself and those I love.

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      August 22, 2016 9:28 pm

      thank you, Julie! sometimes what we do for ourselves touches others who need the same things. that is always my hope when i write a blog post, that somehow the message will resonate with another. i’m so glad you stopped in here and found something useful to take away!

  5. October 24, 2016 1:10 am

    i am visiting today, thinking of rose and the herd, muireann’s death.
    i am visiting today, thinking of you.

    sending so much love.
    and, going softly……


    • sassysistersink permalink*
      October 25, 2016 12:09 am

      thank you for being here, Marie. it means a lot. today has been a tough one. Muireann was one of a kind.

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