Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Quite a few years ago I wrote a poem as the end of a beautiful fall was approaching. A winter storm was forcast to be heading our way, much like our end of October in 2011.

I haven't looked at this for a long time. I made a few changes but right now I see a bunch more I would like to make.  Oh well, it is a work in progress. Most of my poetry is, but I hope you can relate to my struggle.


Long limbed Cottonwoods,
abundant silver-grey Russian Olive,
Apple trees with shiny red dots,
graceful Aspen, bowing to breezes,
trees belonging to high plains,
mountain meadows,
framed by my window.

Too soon
layered leaves now turn
downward, fall, grounded.
I cry out to them, stop!
I am not ready for winter.

Leave the window open longer
so I can hear leaves, whispering.
I need to hold soft sunlight close
as it shines on most golden corn
or swaying fields of wheat,
pale leaves of cottonwoods
translucent in the autumn light.

I need time
to see again the way sun
molds foothills, late,
softens gray of old barns.

The leaves are beginning to fall, too early,
the sun shifts to the horizan too soon,
the sky deepens its blue
in preparation. Aspens shudder
as they struggle to hold on.

Capture this moment,
its warmth, softness,depth
hold it tight.
For winter is unrelenting,
it approaches
through doors of darkness
hidden by clouds,
brings the chill of unknown.

No I am not ready for winter
for golden leaves turned black under snow
for windows framed by frost
for the sun turned cold till spring.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Irish Interlude

I  ride easy, sit lightly
on the broad back of a
spirited Gypsy horse,
we race along a slender slice
of wild Irish beach.

Gallop steady
hoof prints mark wet sand.
Tangled  mane teases my face
we lean, headstrong into the wind.

Unruly clouds, sidestep
away from us, shift,
toss sunlight, shadow
over layers of emerald hills

hemmed by the horizon,
like  patchwork quilts
thrown casually
over rising slopes.

They blur quickly by,
noisy gulls chase
surging surf that
recedes only to return
unleashed, wearing wings.

Breath pulses
in… and out of us, like the tides,
blood courses through our veins
unused to such passion.

We touch this soil.
   We breathe this air.
      We feel this magic.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In the Good Old Summertime

I’m sorry to say this but I have felt for a long time that summertime has been overrated. This has not always been true; not when I was growing up or even in high school or college. Summer was busy, hot, and filled with activities.

I think it became overwhelming after my kids were born. I must have tried to continue to operate under the assumption (yes, I know what assumptions mean) that things would stay about the same. But I was wrong. The ‘things to do’ list only got longer. But tennis, swimming, picnics, reading, a trip or two when I was growing up were just about right until two very active children appeared on the scene.

Then we added swimming lessons, camps, car-pooling, T-ball, baseball, relatives, in-laws, houseguests, long trips with kids in the car and, well, you know what I mean. Don’t get me wrong (too wrong) those were memorable times, glorious times actually but that was the problem…not enough time to lie back in the hammock and take a nap. Maybe that’s the way it used to be a long time ago. A very long time ago.

I have to admit I added to those summer activities by buying a horse or two, so along came 4-H, parades, horse shows, gymkhanas, plus the soccer camps and trips to the mountains, etc.etc.. I usually couldn’t wait for school to start. Not because I didn’t like having my kids around. They were great kids but just so I could catch my breath.

I think it is even harder these days. There are even more choices for kids and parents. But now that I am retired the pace has indeed slowed down, although never enough for me (just ask my family). What have I done this summer? It doesn’t feel like much. So I decided to write a few things down. I had to look at my calendar. Hey, maybe that’s it! I am just having a hard time remembering. That’s it! Phew, I feel so much better.

Several T-ball games.
A family birthday party.
A big birthday party.
A trip to Denver for a Rockies game with family,
A dance recital,
A class in magazine writing..
A class in how to get organized,
Another birthday celebration.
My first query submission sent out.
Went to Boulder for a book signing.
Entered three poems in a poetry contest,
Got my computer fixed.
Entered photographs in a calendar photo contest.
Volunteered at FCCR every week.
Became an Advisory Council member for NCW.
Became a member of the FCCR planning team.
Took Jake the Shelter Cat to the library, a nursing home and a bookstore’.
Went to a collegiate baseball game.
Planted catnip, lettuce and beans.
Wrote posts for two blogs every other week .
Contributed submissions and critiqued work of other 5 members of my critique group five or six times.

Well. OK I feel better now. The reality is, summer never slows down even if I am moving slower. It’s just me. Or it must be the heat. I guess I really do love summer time. Or maybe it’s the retirement I like. :-) Slow or busy, enjoy the rest of it and I will too.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Becoming Vegetarian

     I've gotten so I sit in the rocking chair (we got after our first grandchild was born) in my room to do my 15 minute writing. (Writing Down the Bones) In the summer, all I see outside my windows is green, pines hugging the house, apple trees beginning to fill up with ripening fruit. The new ones; pear, new plum, cherry are beginning to fill, too. Later on in the summer it will look as if the branches could break they are so heavy with fruit. But it has never happened.

     I took a little longer with the horses this morning. I needed to fill all four water tanks.  I used the hoses. In the winter I need to carry water to the ones in the barn, but the horses don't drink as much. I usually give Tucker, the Morgan, his grain first. He greets me and is ready for his breakfast but is very respectful. He turns his head or steps back to give me room to put his grain in the feeder.

Then I get Bailey's grain ready. We are trying to see that he gets some bute 'aspirin' for a swollen and arthritic knee. He is lame on that leg and as a result trips all the time and when he goes down to roll it takes a long time for him to get up. He is our kid's horse, a retired roping horse. But I worry about him. So he gets his grain but I have to halter him and take him to the arena to eat so that his companion, Sport, doesn't eat up his grain. I leave him there and don't give him his hay yet so that there is a chance he will be hungry enough that he will eat the grain, even if there is icky stuff on it. But he eats around the medicine and the molasses, then turns over his feeding pan.

Then I gather hay for the other two who are in the barn. Bolaro, gets fed next. He is new. A beautiful mustang that was captured and sold at auction by the BLM. He is the sweetest, friendlist horse I have come across. Nickers at me coming and going.Then last I take Bailey his hay and grain and hay for Sport. Sport is a quarter horse, a barrell racing horse.  He is the one who got beat up by the other horses when he first came in and also suffered from Pigeon Fever. But now he is shiny and there are no visible scars. He, too is sweet except at dinner time because he lays his ears back and gnashes his teeth..to chase Bailey away.

These horses are well cared for and happy. I can't fathom putting them through the ordeal that insensitive horse owners resort to when they are no longer useful. Horses are loaded into two layered trucks with no concern for their safety, fear or pain, for the trip to  horse slaughter facilities in Canada and Mexico.

Next door, I hear chickens clucking, goat kids baaing and a couple of turkeys and ducks. I think of the song from Oklahoma: "Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry". All of these animals provide something for humans. Yet there is a hidden shame in America today. The poor treatment of animals used for our food is undeniable, And yet a majority of people feel strongly that they need to live lives as close to what is natural as is is possible and when they are taken to slaughter  they should be  treated humanely.

I recently read  Wayne Pacella's book, The Bond; Our Kinship with Animals and our Call to Defend Them and learned about the plight of farm animals as well as, puppy mills, baby seal slaughter, canned hunts, and much more. It is everywhere. One of the things I came out with, beside the determination to use my skills as a writer to take my own small steps and to encourage others toward an attitude of kinship, was to  to move toward becoming a vegetarian and as I move in that direction to at least to be sure the meat, eggs, or milk I buy comes from animals that are humanely treated in all stages of their lives. If they are to make us healthy or keep us happy then we need to make sure they are too.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Show Me the Passion

We are back in the introspective phase. Yes variety is the Spice of Life but it feels like all the introspection is adding up. I am beginning to understand a little better. So bear with me for a while longer.

I’ve been thinking about something that I have done all my life. I’d put things on a shelf in my closet and say “I’ll just deal with this later”. I thought it was a good strategy to deal with disagreements with my husband, sister or mom. Sometimes it was dreams I put on the shelf, maybe even apologies and forgiveness and joy and anger too. It was like I needed to prove something to myself or get stronger before I could deal with things, have time for them or even be happy about things.

Well I have discovered later is now and my closet shelf is crowded. Way too crowded. I don’t even know where to start dealing with things. In psychological terms it is called denial. And I was denying I was in denial because I had convinced myself the putting things on a shelf till I could deal with them was healthy. It was not healthy. And because I put things on the shelf they stayed inside and I became passive aggressive. Not healthy either

The biggest problem was that I began to live in my own reality, my own room where everything fit together and the sun was always shining and all was calm and sweet. Wrong. What happened is that I went from a passionate person, a passionate advocate for peace and justice, passionate about art, passionate about becoming a minister, passionate about horses, about photography, about poetry, animals, people and my family, from that to a person who has lost passion for life. So who cares. Nothing matters.

Even now after I have realized all these things I fight for the energy to do what I need to do, not counting the things I love. I take meds to fight depression, distraction, procrastination and what is called overstimulation, (being overwhelmed to the point of just ‘checking out’) that help me but also make me feel even less passionate.

I have always thought my difficulties were because of the ADD or HSP or being a twin and yes, they have affected me, but no, in reality it’s the passion I’ve lost. I do realize I have almost intuitively been working out a system. I am thankful for small steps. Being organized helps but there is a point where if I am not very attentive, I lose the passion.. I’m looking for the passion now, and I am finding it more and more the more I move my feet forward.

Those packages on the closet shelf are getting thrown out. I’ll see how they have deteriorated, turned sour or grown mildew One step at a time. It begins with making decisions to confront, daily, hourly by the minute, stay engaged, stay involved, what I think and do is important, even if it hurts to deal with it, each time I do I get a little better. I get a little more passionate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

HSP- Amber

I’ve been looking at the world through Highly Sensitive Person glasses lately. I can’t help it. The book I just finished reading connected with me in so many ways. But still there continued to be something I couldn’t understand or just couldn’t explain. And that was, “What does 'overarousal' LOOK like or FEEL like?

I know the after effects: wanting to take a nap, leave the scene, gritting my teeth, becoming a wallflower, unable to articulate, getting cranky, just feeling miserable, not observably miserable but when I look back I think, Hey that was what it feels like.miserable. But it still was a mystery to me-until last week.

We were with our daughter’s family, including our 3 year old-soon to be 4 grand-daughter .. She was having a hard time, well, truth be told, she was having a tantrum. My husband and I have figured out it happens when she feels left out or ignored. And it does happen a lot because she has twin brothers 18 months older than she is. But it is more than that.

Anyway last week a number of big things were going on in her life. Last Thursday was the last day in her day care where she had been with four other little girls her age and a caregiver she adored. Along with that she will be spending her summer vacation at home with her two brothers and a Nanny she didn’t know. Also, she will not be spending her special day with her Bumpa (and occasionally Grammie) on Fridays when she absolutely was the BOSS and could do anything she wanted without being challenged by her brothers. She had Bumpa to herself. She loved it.

But even more than all these things her Dad had been gone for a week while attending a family funeral and brought family members home to spend the nigh. She didn’t get to have the reunion with him she wanted. Plus the whole family stayed up past bedtime. If HSP’s can be stimulated by small things what happens when there are big things that happen?

So Thursday evening there was a graduation party for her brothers. She didn’t want to go. She didn’t want to leave her day-care. A major melt-down. She was overwhelmed.

All I had to do was take a look at her to know she had had enough. It pointed out to me that all of these events caused tremendous ‘overarousal’ but the kicker, I believe, was not enough sleep. She could not handle it all. It is sooo visible in a 3 year old. I realized that when I am over stimulated by my life, I also have a tantrum. Only it doesn’t show from the outside as much. I realize now, the feeling is one of being overwhelmed by all the small and big things in life. Overarousal creates overwhelm.

That is what it LOOKS like. That is what it FEELS like.

Soon: How to deal with it all and come out ahead.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scary Movies

HSP and Me-2
     OK, so now you may want to know exactly what a ‘highly sensitive person’ is, what makes them so different, what makes them tick. These are good questions. I have been able to answer a little at a time as I read Elaine Aron’s book, “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.
     Here is a list of some of the characteristics: HSPs think things over for a while before making their move, carry a sense of being flawed, are willing to allow others to protect them, may isolate themselves, and have a real intolerance to stimulation. It's not that these things are so unusual, it's the intensity.

     An example is how I react to violence in movies. I can remember having to leave the room when my family had chosen a video to watch that to me contained over-the-top violence. You know the kind I mean; even the obviously staged scary movies. I can remember when I was really young watching the original “The Thing” movie. Being non-HSPs, my sister and brother didn't take in as many subtle disturbing aspects of situations as I did. I was terrified for days after as I watched in my mind the doors being boarded against the unseen horror. For that matter even though they were fun, I had a hard time watching most of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, especially the “The Birds”, and “Psycho”. I think my son is the same way though he would not want to admit it.

     One time the family was watching “Salem’s Lot” when during a particularly scary scene Jamie came into the kitchen (where I was) to get away from it but what he didn’t know was that his sister snuck around and came through the other door and screamed. He was 10. I have never seen anyone so terrified they were moaning and rolling on the floor. But in spite of this they always seemed to bounce back and say, “Oh Mom, it’s just a movie. It’s not real”. It was not that I didn’t know it was not real. It was my intolerance to stimulation that was that overwhelming.

         I always felt uncomfortable that I couldn’t deal with the violence and thought something was wrong with me. The key, I learned was to reframe the experiences. Instead of seeing myself as somehow flawed I can realize instead, that I am just over-stimulated. Whether it is a violent movie, a trip to a new place or a noisy rock concert I can decide if my brain can handle it. Now I am more clear, when these things happen, I can either just go along with the group because I don’t want to be a stick-in-the mud or I can find something I can enjoy about it or I can opt out. It is important that I decide.
     The next time I write about this I want to tell you about a family trip to Las Vegas. Overstimulation can happen from positive experiences, too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Passive Verbs and Qualifiers

      A few years ago I saw Fried Green Tomatoes, a great movie you may have seen also. It was the kind of movie that made you laugh and cry and nod your head. It was also a kind of mystery story and a story within a story. I liked it because still, I could keep up with it. And I learned some things.

     I liked the story within a story where one character experienced an epiphany. She spoke a phrase that sticks in my mind to this day. Have you ever seen something that changed your life and said, ”It was a sign” My sister and I say this often when things happen that verify what we had been thinking about doing or answered a question we had been trying to answer for years.

     It was a sign, was what I heard in my head at my writer’s critique group a couple of weeks ago. As an icebreaker, one of the participants asked us to share what it was about writing that ‘bugged us’. Passive verbs and Qualifiers popped into my head. Not procrastination, editing, revisions, or even sitting so long I had to run to make it to the bathroom. No, the words, Passive Verbs and Qualifiers, came out of my mouth.

     I’ve never been good at grammar or spelling. Since I have started to write again, I try hard but still struggle with everything I write. I have asked myself more than once. Why? Well, this is it. All my life I have been kind of a slow person. Not really passive per se but I do take my time. One of the biggest culprits for me is “was” and others like it (like is and was??) they slow down and sometimes stop the reader from reading.

        And my writing is also littered by my maybe’s, almost’s, sometime’s, someday’s, and if’s, etc. I qualify when I’m going to the store, when I’m going to write, when I am going to get this done or start that, if I like or don’t like something…it goes on and on.

     So the ‘sign’ I encountered pointed out to me the reason my writing is full of qualifiers and passive verbs. That’s who I am. Oh, sigh….By the way when I checked the spell checker I had not misspelled any words, anyway. There is hope.

What bugs you about writing?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Palm Sunday
A few weeks ago, I decided that when I returned from church on the Sunday’s I got to go, I would sit down and write the insights or awakenings or connections I had during the service. It would be a way to keep me centered during the week. I should write a post to my blog. I thought. Most of the time it could be from the sermons but sometimes other things would catch my attention.

I sat in church this morning pretty close to the front. It is a small church I have been visiting for a few months. I usually arrive within a minute or so of when the service starts. That’s not a problem because they always socialize a bit and I can usually find a place to sit without having to crawl over people. Today was Palm Sunday though and we held beautiful palm fronds in our hands in honor of the day. All sang with the children and the choir who walked in a procession down the center isle, waving their palm branches. It was festive and fitting.

Today Rev. Ken read the total scripture from Matthew‘s Gospel, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the donkey and the events leading up to his crucifixion. It was most of Matthew 27:1-2, 11-61. He turned it into our own sermons by stopping three times and giving us time to reflect on the passage and think about a question he would ask us.

The first question had to do with the crowd in front of Pilate. When they were given the choice to spare Barabbas or Jesus, they chose Barabbas. If you were there what would you do? Be silent? Speak up?

The second question was when Simon was compelled to carry the cross through the streets of Jerusalem. When have you been compelled to carry the cross?

The third question was after Jesus died and was placed in the tomb. Two women, the two Marys, were still there outside the tomb when it was all over. Would you have stayed through to the end?

These are hard questions but they have already started me thinking. These are my thoughts so far. 1) I’m sorry to say I would have stayed silent out of fear. And yet I know how. I have spoken up for battered women and abused animals.2) I can safely say I have been involved in social issues and working for the innocent for most of my life. 3) I am not yet finished with my work. I will stay involved as long as I can.

What are your answers? Or better yet, read through Matthew 21:1-11 and Matthew 27:1-2, 11-61, then, answer. Write your own sermon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The HSP-Highly Sensitive Person- and Me

"I am one of the searchers." I chose this phrase to be at the top of my Spice of Life Blog and it has stayed there during this two and a half almost three year new adventure in writing. It still defines me. It still leads me.

In setting up my original blog I explained that Spice of Life was an outgrowth of an idea I had a few years ago called MSG-Spice of Life . The MSG stood for Menopause Support Group. And it was for a short time.

At first I thought the blog would be for that purpose also. But my heart wasn’t in it and I had been there/done that. So then I invited people to talk about what spices up their lives, what gives their lives meaning. Not many takers. I wasn’t sure if it was the topic or it was because I was new at managing my blog. Then the word 'variety' slipped in front of Spice of Life and there it is. Variety is the Spice of Life. You can put variety in front if you want to. Or not.

So far I have been comfortable with the variety of things that have crossed my mind and I have written about. I hope they contain a kernel that might interest you to explore.But now, I would like to ponder some books I have read. I am not in a book club so my hope is that I can dialogue with others who have read a particular book or would like to.

I’m thinking in terms of books that have turned light-bulbs on in my head. How about yours? Ones that I have read over the years and that have made a difference are books like "I’m Ok, You’re Ok". I discovered I was O.K. "Delivered from Distraction". I discovered I had Adult Attention Deficit Disorder and what I could do about it. "The Introvert Advantage". I looked at that attribute in a totally different way. But the book I am reading now and the one I would like to talk about is "The Highly Sensitive Person" by Elaine Aron. I plan to share a lightbulb or two with you in future posts,

As you can see I am still on a search. You may ask why now. All I can say is I want to better understand who I am (which is what HSPs do) and what I need to do before I am no longer here. The stakes are higher. And maybe my search will help you in yours.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monday Morning

There’s something to be said about Monday mornings—especially snowy gray ones. I can start out slowly, which suits me just fine any day of the week. But with those promises to keep, sitting there waiting to raise their hands to be called on, starting out slowly feels really good.

As you can tell, I don’t have to report to a job, one outside the home anyway. But I do have to keep my own integrity in mind and a quick way to move out of my husbands way when he wants to go do this or that, whatever is on his list. We are both retired but I have to say as busy as if not busier than we were when we both were working or even just when he was.

If you have read my posts in this blog you will find that I am often talking about having enough time to get this or that done before this or that happens. The this or that has to do with my family obligations, grandchildren, doing farm chores (taking care of horses), volunteering at the Fort Collins Cat Rescue, taking care of my four rescued cats and getting all of that done so I can write! Write…what?

Well, lots of things, too many things. I don’t allow myself too often to get lost reading e-mail, Google, or websites but when I do I love this one. Zen Habits.

Here is the advice I got from it this Monday. Choose one thing to do (get done) today that makes a difference. Simple, right? Wrong. My biggest problem is prioritizing. I have a terrible time with it because to me, everything is important. Everything has the same weight, which is not true of course. Do whatever makes a difference this day. WOW

Well, then I started a list. After 11 or so things that seemed equally important I realized we were looking at something bigger here. Not counting promises to keep, which is kind of a given, I needed to answer a fundamental question. What is important in life? I am working on this…making a list of things to consider…. Hmmmm lets see, health, relationships, faith, meaning, love, money? So my mind flashed back to a time when I was faced with a similar decision and I think that answer answers this. What is important is kindness and compassion.

Kindness and compassion will always make a difference.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

R.F.D. North Dakota

I'm pleased to bring you another poem in my Ghost Prairie Poem Series

North Dakota

deep ruts slow my car
bumps up dusty clouds
along a rolling ribbon of road
“out in the middle of nowhere.”

i stop turn down the window
air rushes out as if to cool
the hot July day

a battered mail box
perches precariously
on a splintered post
held in place by rusty
barbed wire …

waits in silence

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ghost Prairie Poem I

In 2002 after a trip to North Dakota I wrote a series of poems called Ghost Praire Poems. This is the title poem


I speak plainly
poems your ears have forgotten to hear
words you don’t know
anymore, years like the static
roar of brown cicadas
drown them out

I felt your journeys
your heavy wagons rutting roads
ruddy faces looking up eyes bright
you sought my forever landscape
to save you, to bring life

I planted
and harvested your dreams
watched weariness and roaming
and coming home

I was generous
gave my glacier plains
and deep black soil
my opportunities
to you

I have seen my vastness shrink
horizons sink in the distance
fields pock marked by
towns prairie dogs built
and left to the crows

You must listen to me
before I am gone
my voice weakens
to soft whispers grown quiet
into the wheat that shifts in the wind

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bunny Tracks (No not ice cream!)

We moved to the farm in the fall of 2007. Our daughter’s home was built out in the pasture beyond the riding arena and they moved in the fall of 2009. Our house is about 100 yards away. Duties have been given and changed around several times but my responsibility is to feed the horses Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings between 6am and 7 am, rain or shine, 100 degrees or minus 10. Of course it is easier in the summer but the winter, with snow has its charm.

To our delight we have rubbed elbows with a beautiful red fox who I have not forgiven for taking one (or two) of my cats and lots of coyotes that ‘sing’ and yip almost every night. My daughter has seen them but I haven’t yet. There are hawks that circle over the fields from time to time and once I saw a great horned owl when it landed on the roof of my daughter’s house. It was huge! I hear the owl often in the trees outside my window. I am very glad I can keep all my cats in now.
Of course there are mice. And that is why we experimented with keeping some barn cats. We actually have had 5 in the barn (not all at once). I have discovered that life on the farm is real stuff, not a dream you read about in Country Magazine. Even at an urban farm it includes joy and sorrow, life and death. It has been a hard lesson for me to learn.
This spring our neighbors mare foaled and we were there to see it when it was only a few hours old. We have seen her grow up to be a beautiful young horse with a springy step. She looks like she is tip toeing around the pasture. It is a joy to behold.

But my favorite time is in the winter just after a snowfall. When I get up in the morning I layer several shirts and some coveralls over my p.j.s I am ready to go out and greet the horses and bring them their feed. As I walk out there I’m trying to figure who has visited. I see dog tracks and cat tracks and I am most curious to see if I recognize coyote or fox tracks.
More than anything else I see bunny tracks. I can tell because they are distinctive, two prints close together and just above them are two prints a bit apart, and they are pretty small. I could just see them hopping around in the snow, foraging for food. We have lots of bunnies around. It’s probably why we see the foxes and hear the coyotes. It doesn’t seem like they have made a big dent in the rabbit population, though. I see places where small paws have brushed the snow aside to get at some grass or leaves. I have seen where it looks like one has been chased by a dog or coyote, and I see places where they seem to have been playing.
It is a wonderful way to begin a day. Even the days when it is hard to think about going outside in the cold or snow it is a chore I love. And I add my tracks to the bunny tracks as I listen to the horses nickering for their breakfast