Friday, December 18, 2009


Dear Margie,

Thank you for your response. It has been too long since we have corresponded. I'm glad you share my enthusiasm for the singer IZ's work. At the beginning of his C.D., Wonderful World it seems like you can actually hear the sun rising. When I get up early to feed the horses and roll up the shade toward the east the sky is just beginning to lighten up. And if I catch it just right, in an instant there are layers upon layers of warm reds and oranges and pinks that blend and shift and spread into each other as if embracing. So when I turn on that C.D. it feels as if the melody flows those colors into the room. I actually experience the music of the sunrise. At Thanksgiving I brought my 6 yr. old grandson into the room to watch and listen with me. We tiptoed over to the window and stood there in silence and allowed the color to wash over us. It was a nice moment for both of us.

And hearing from you felt the same way. It was so good to hear from you and to see how much you enjoy being there in Hawaii with your art and community of artists.

I do know about the 'Rainbow Bridge'. I learned about it on a trip to Utah when we visited the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. I believe animals that we have brought into our families and loved and have loved us in return are a visible manifestations of God's love. It appears in a heartfelt song, a sunrise that takes your breath away, a loyal sweet dog, a patient grandson, and compassion and kindness.

It was good that your family had some good resources when you had to say goodbye to Prince. The memorial service for pets I attended a few months ago was organized by the Argus Institute at C.S.U. This institute is an effort to bring vet science and resources to bear on helping families with end of life issues for their pets. There is a growing sensitivity for animals and a body of knowledge that has identified a 'caring' in animals that goes beyond instinct, even in so-called wild animals. Read Temple Grandin, who has written, Animals Make Us Human. She is a nationally known professor and writer (from C.S.U.) who has written from an unusual perspective, that of her own experience with autism. Hers was one of the voices that spoke out especially for farm animals against their inhumane treatment from feed lots to the slaughter house. (Looks like I have gotten on my soapbox a bit. :-)

Maybe we can talk on the phone again sometime. I would like that.

Take care,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


To Margie on Maui
(and other neglected friends who I would like to reconnect with after a silence of too many months)

For the last month or so you have been in my thoughts almost every day. I hope that is a good sign. Actually, it might be a matter of a bit of guilt. Nah...I was just missing you and wanting to get in touch with you. After all, it was Christmastime last year that we last connected.

I have looked at your website again, Margie and am thrilled about how you and your art reflect each other, I guess the word is congruent...and beautiful. I'm also wishing I was there to enjoy the warmth. (It is freeezing in Fort Collins today, below zero at 3:00 in the afternoon) brrrrr.

I have started to write again. Even though I am burdoned by all the poems, stories, papers (from Iliff), some sermons, my photographs, letters and books that sit in boxes and folders because somewhere in them I am sure a treasure is hidden I refuse to throw it away. I think that's a good thing. Because while my life has been filled with all the adjustments and chaos that comes with moving something tells me I need to be careful about my 'sorting hat.'

I wanted to tell you about an experience I call a 'sighting'. I think of it as a glimspse of God or clarity or assurance or direction of something that allows me to see or feel God's love breaking through. Sometimes it is the words of a song, or something I have read or the presence of one of my purrring cats, or that I have received a gift of help or nurture from someone. This is happening more and more.

Recently I was struggling about a decision to put down Mollie, our Bassett. One night I was listening to Delilah, who makes dedications for people and plays requested music on her radio show. She played an absolutely charming version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Hawaian singer IZ. His interpretation of this song of hope touched me deeply. It kind of possessed me in a good way so I knew it was the right time, it was God's assurance. It was what I call a 'sighting'.

Then I remembered that I also had heard Somewhere Over the Rainbow at a memorial service for pets held at C.S.U. earlier in the year and so it was appropriate and comforting that when we said good-bye to Mollie we played that song by IZ.

Often when I wake up in the morning I play "It's a Wonderful World" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and I'm helped to begin my day with a positive attitude and a sense of knowing God is with me. Also I wrote Mollie's story and put together a memory book for her and would like to do that for other people who want to remember their animals. It was a healing experience.

So I'll quit now but I wanted to send my blog addresses to you for you to read when you can. I have worked hard to learn how to write blogs on the computer. I think it will help return me to writing. (Spice of Life) and (Writing Outside the Barn)
I'd love to hear how you are.

Dear Pam,

How nice to hear from you. I am very happy for you that you are experiencing such meaningful expressions of Grace. I love Iz’s Over the Rainbow. Are you familiar with the “ Rainbow Bridge ” which is the way for animals to “pass over”? You can find it on the web and I know that it really helped our family when our Prince died. Great to know that you are getting back into writing and I understand that blogging is a perfect way to do that.

I am very happy with my life here. My artist community has been my “family” and it is a pleasure to show and sell my art and to work in the gallery. My spiritual work is still the main focus of my life.

I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season. It was such a pleasure to get the photo of your amazing family of twins – last Christmas.

Margie from Maui

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Searching for Silence

If you are a writer wannabe and have been struggling to get past that 'hey, I'm never going to get this #!!*# published", just take a look at the Northern Colorado Writer's website. You will find help for sure but more than that you will find an example of how one person with a good idea, persistence and energy can make a difference and change lives. And it just might make you into a writer who is having the time of her life. I happened to me. Kerrie Flanagan's vision that she wanted to create a way to encourage and support writers of all genre's and levels on their journey to writing success has been helping almost 200 writers in the two years since she began to develop her vision.

And like they say in horse circles, she was able to get me on the bit! In order to convince a 1,000 lb animal that wants nothing more at the moment than to graze in a nice green pasture, or to kick up her heels with her friends, to accept a saddle and bridle and listen, of all things ,to someone else's idea of what she needs to do today, is a struggle. Unless you realize that deep down the horse as well as the rider (writer) want to be useful and to please, each in their own way of course.

At the beginning of November I attended the N.C.W. retreat at Sylvan Dale Ranch. While there I set a goal, or rather an intention, to get back to something I tried to do almost two years ago but gave up on. I had decided to start a blog. But I didn't get very far. I have learned it was about more than the blog, it was about being willing to be honest about who I am. I had to quit using all the other stuff that was going on in my life as an excuse to blow it off. And I had to commit. So here I go again. I had two compelling ideas and felt it would be less confusing to design two blogs. I would continue the one I started last year and then begin a new one. So I would need to write two posts on two blogs each week. As you can see, my last entry was in April and the first one ever was in January of 2008. Can I really do it? Yes, this time I will.

So what do you have to look forward to? Ideas have been waking me up really early the last few mornings. Animals and how we relate to them and how we learn from them have captured my interest. Most of those will show up in my new blog, Writing Outside the Barn. ( Sidestepping or putting on the shelf will not work anymore if I am to be honest. Reconnecting strands is what it is all about now, strands from seminary to the barn, strands that have been forgotten or broken and leave me feeling empty.

I will say that in my often fuzzy unfocused brain I have learned how important space and quiet time is in order to write. I yearn for the times when I can find the pathway into that magic place where the thoughts begin to come clear. I write to make sense of my life so I will be able to recognize myself and know what I have to say.

While at the retreat I think we all had the chance to connect to those magic moments. As we began we read these words by well known southwestern poet, Nancy Wood.

It is our quiet time.
We do not speak because the voices are within us.
It is our quiet time.
We do not walk because the earth is all within us.
It is our quiet time.
We do not dance because the music has lifted us
to a place where the spirit is.
It is our quiet time.
We rest with all of nature.

Thank you Kerrie for those nurturing moments of quiet
and the opportunity to listen to our own voices.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Rocky Mountain Hi!

(A letter to old friends and a request to them to join me in re-membering a part of our history, a part that may have been lost or forgotten through the years. If through our collective memories we can put some pieces back together it just might enrich our lives in important and enduring ways, and also bring a smile. )
The summer of 1962 was my breakaway summer. I was on my own for the first time in my life, without my family, without a boyfriend, without my twin sister! I was 17. Now at retirement age I look back through the fog of years since then to try to see which of my early life experiences shaped me the most. It had to have been that summer spent in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.
I am hoping to add some new chapters to the life journal I have been writing ever since my junior high diary days. And now that I am a member of the alumnae association of the Estes Park YMCA of the Rockies familiar names and faces from that era have begun to surface. Experiences long buried are coming to light. I wonder how the lives of those friends that had been so much a part of my life have been lived out.
That summer provided me with more than a wonderful adventure. It was an opportunity to learn new things about the world from young people my own age. It was a spiritual spark that ignited my spiritual growth. It pointed me to a vocation. I met people and experienced what it was like to see issues in our country and the world that hadn’t touched me very much in the farming area of the mid-west where I grew up. The seeds of passion for social justice and advocacy were planted.
After college and marriage I got involved in issues that were everywhere. I wrote and worked for peace as much as I could manage while raising a family . Was it in the air at the YMCA of the Rockies? No doubt about it. Was it the great people I met and their viewpoints and influence? Absolutely. Did anyone sit me down and preach that this would be my lifelong calling? No. I had no idea it would lead me to seminary and ordination as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA )in 1997.
But that summer I took in all I could, loving the Y activities and relationships that were instructive, fun, engaging, and even sobering. Now I view that time as one of the most magical experiences of my life. I went back to Iowa changed, no doubt about it, but I didn’t realize the treasure I had found until later in my life. After all I had three more years of college ahead and there were places to go and people to meet and experiences to consider. That summer was a moment in time, a moment that got pushed aside and that almost faded away until the fall of 2007 when I moved again and discovered that a box of old scrapbooks had made it through moves from Iowa State (graduation in 1964), to Lancaster and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Boulder and Fort Collins and Denver, Colorado; Cheyenne, Wyoming and Midland Texas and now back to FORT COLLINS. I found pictures, cards, souveniers, and some of the old newsletters that described how we, the youth of 1962 viewed the smouldering world that was pre Kennedy assassination and civil rights movement. I remember writing articles for The Peaker that were really, really awful but began a lifelong interest in writing that has taken many forms.
I am now retired and share grand-parenting duties for two sets of twins born 5 days apart. They are now almost 3 years old with 2 yr. old and 5 year old siblings. (6 grandchildren under 5 yrs. old…4 boys and 2 girls) who, by the way live close by. But that is another story. New adventures continue to keep me busy. I live on a small suburban farm property with my family, 3 horses, 3 dogs and 3 cats (As well as any number of kids, depending on who is visiting at the time.) in Fort Collins. It is a grand experiment in intergenerational living. I continue to try to find time to write!
It seems I am a long way from the summer I taught tennis and archery, checked out recreation equipment, played ping-pong and was voted Queen on the fourth of July! I have never quite figured that one out. :0)Even the experience of running into a deer with a borrowed car takes on a different hue. (Not quite as hysterical). I remember delivering weekly activity programs on horseback, singing around campfires, staff parties, hikes, walking in the moonlight, sitting on the roof of an old cabin with only the whispering sounds of the moonlit bathed stream moving by. It is enough to make my blood rise again.
I am planning to return to the camp this summer for the reunion, even though plans are not yet set. Hope to see you then.