Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Yeah, like these are going to last until 2017...

"Best Before 2017 JAN"...yes, of course they are...so let me get this straight, these could last for an entire year...I love me some optimism.

Monday, January 18, 2016

We are in this hole together

I absolutely love reading Infinity Farm's Anna Blake talk about positive training and relationships with horses.  I not only enjoy reading her work, I relate to it and learn from it.  Frankly, I can apply it to my relationships with humans and dogs equally well.  Most recently, she did a follow up to her earlier "When your horse falls in a hole" and provided some really helpful training about leadership when the horse is afraid and responding to that fear with loss of control.  Anna wrote:
If you’re looking to return to your usual sweet conversation/work with your horse, you have to accept him where he’s at. Fighting his behavior when he’s stuck doesn’t give him a way out. Less correction, more direction. You have to go into his hole with him and lead him out. That’s why they call it leadership.
Then let the transition-cycle work: Cue to connect with him, let him answer, and then reward his response. Politely ask for a bit more, reward that connection again. Perfect or not, now he starts to feel better about things and he tries a bit more. Reward his bigger effort, continue the cycle, and before you know it, it’s all hearts and flowers again.
Positive training works; it’s the difference between partnership and dominance; the difference between putting the horse first or having your own tantrum.
I had just read that earlier in the day, and having arrived home after being gone for a two days, I was sitting in the living room with Abby.  I do that often, so it was not unusual, but two things disrupted the routine and sent her into an out-of-control cycle of bouncing off the walls, furniture, my lap.  Normally, she has her chew time with her little bone, one of her favorite pleasures.  Alas, she was out of her chew bones, and nothing could console her.  I would redirect her to her chew kong, filled with a treat but that did not hold her attention long.  On one of the last jumps to my lap, obviously saying, "Hey, mom, I am not getting what I want here!"  her toenails got entangled in the fringe on my sweater, and then panic set in, and she was really out of control and anxious. 

I took a cue from Anna's training, and got Abby's attention--she responds very positively to touch when she is excited, so I touched her, and began to talk to her.  It was about redirecting her focus from "my toenails are caught in something horrible and I am struggling to escape" to something pleasant and calming.  Abby is not as big as a horse, but she is big enough to cause pain or injury.  I understand her impact; Abby does not.  So, as Anna said, I had to go in the hole with Abby, and acknowledge that I was part of the reason she was in the hole.  Ever so calm, ever so rewarding her for responding to my cues, and gently, finally, releasing her toenails from the fringe was simply having calmed her enough that she was lying still on my legs, enjoying the petting and attention, and thus, allowed me to untangle the fringe.  My next step was to wrap the fringed ends of the sweater close to my body, and cover myself with a throw to prevent another mishap. 

It is an important remind: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Check out Anna's advice on getting your horse (or dog, or student) out of a hole and displaying leadership.  After all, the burden is on the one with the awareness.
That's why they call it leadership.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Generations: The best is yet to come

 Drumroll, please!  And the second lesson from The Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinner... I correctly guess the ingredients, including those little caramelized onions on top, and applauded the presentation: food should be pleasing to the eyes as well as the palate.  Sis reported it was delicious, and I will say that pork chop's lovely browning just makes me want to drool on the computer.

I have been reminded of several things during this time of transition in the family, and that inter-generational relationships (as LindaRe pointed out in comments on the earlier post) were the norm, not the exception.  The whole idea of "independent" living in little nuclear units of husband wife and 2.5 children came about during the affluence post World War II.  I for one, love intergenerational living and the benefits it brings to all the family--the passage of history, tradition, and skills, help with the overwhelming tasks of keeping up our enormous houses and all of our gadgets, child care, elder care, and learning to share and contribute.  What could be better?
A bit closer to home, I have been in a creative mood of late and have now expanded into yard art decor...of sorts, anyway.  It did not turn out exactly as I envisioned (it is always way better in my head than it is in reality!) but I liked that it adds some color and definition to Libby's kennel until it is time for flowers again.  I did plant a few pansies along what I have come to call my "cliff" but the deer are eating them and digging around in them, so that isn't going to work for now!  I started the second weaving yesterday, this one to hang inside Libby's kennel.  After all, if one's view is the inside of a dog kennel, it should at least have something to enhance the view.

Happy Saturday all--cold front's coming and the sunshine is gone for now.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Becoming a pioneer woman, part 2: They have arrived.

 The new family arrived at Sis' Tuesday afternoon, and spent a couple of days getting their things settled in and doing copious amounts of laundry.  Yesterday, K began work on menu planning, perusing her new cookbook.  At 3:30, she began prepping for dinner.

Sis said K was really tired by the time dinner was ready: Spanish rice and enchiladas.  I reminded her it gets easier and faster the more you do it...well, unless you are doing labor intensive things like enchiladas or tamales, that is.  Nonetheless, C pronounced them the "best white-made enchiladas he ever had."  After all, he is from San Antonio.

It will be fun, I hope, watching them maneuver into the routines they develop for themselves.  Sis told K she could bring her own new cookware and dishes and use them if she wanted--she had been kind of downhearted not being able to use them yet.  Seeing the turquoise cooking utensils, I see what K decided.
Meanwhile, Great G-Mama J was helping out in that way that only GGMs can do.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The ring box

 Sis and I were cleaning out one of the dresser drawers last week, trying to make room for clothing.  Now, I know where I picked up the habit of sticking things in the closest drawer...
 For years, Mother's original engagement ring and wedding band were in this little celluloid ring box, purchased in 1946.  The bottom of the clamshell was lined with maroon velvet, with a slot for the rings to sit side-by-side.  The bands had worn thin, and they had been retired to the jewelry box in which they were purchased and replaced with a new one.  The last time I saw this box, the hinges still worked and her rings were still in it.  Currently, they are safely stored in the safe deposit box, although they are worth little if anything in terms of the value of the gold and diamond--it is a small little chip of a diamond hardly visible, let alone worth stealing. 
Celluloid was one stage of development as we moved into the world of plastics.  It was cheap, easily molded, and often used for items that might once have been carved from ivory or horn.  In addition to ring boxes, it was used to make jewelry and dresser sets--the comb, brush, and mirror sets that adorned the dressing table of girls and women.  Google celluloid ring boxes and you will bring up hundreds of designs and colors, ranging in price from a few dollars to a hundred dollars, depending on the condition, color, and intricacy of design of the ring box.  The Art Deco designs were among the most popular apparently, and came in stunning colors with interesting detail.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Becoming a pioneer woman

I bought this cookbook for my great great niece.  She and her husband and baby are moving in with my sis temporarily.  She wants to learn to cook and "keep house."  I liked the book because it is simple, it does have step-by-step instructions with accompanying pictures, and it has great little stories and family pictures interwoven about this Oklahoma family.

I spent my last couple of days in Texas helping sis get ready for her new visitors.  While no doubt it will be challenging for all of them, I also have a firm belief that good things can come from all experiences.  For one, learning to cook and keep house.

It is hard for me to fathom a young woman coming of age and not knowing how to cook, or clean the bathroom, mop a floor, or do laundry.  Those were things we both learned by direct instruction from my mother and grandmothers, and by observation and helping with those routine chores.  I could cook a full meal, buy groceries, clean a kitchen, clean an entire house, and do laundry (including ironing!) long before I was 18 and left home.  I no longer think I am defined by the cleanliness of my house or my prowess in the kitchen, but they are both useful and necessary skills--for all of us, not just women.  It is a generous and loving opportunity for her and her husband to learn some of those skills that lead to organization, self-care, and healthier living, and the obligation and responsibility that comes with being a family, and with having to manage a household.  It will help them, and help sis, due to her never-ending tasks to care for mother and daddy.

Not everyone is happy about it, and not everyone has to be happy about it.  From my point of view however, everyone should be respectful of the decision and the reasons for it, regardless.  I know that is pie-in-the-sky airy-fairy to some folks, but I still hold on to the idea that we should support and respect the right to self-determination, and believe that people can make right choices for themselves even if those are not the choices we would like for them.  The change comes with expectations and boundaries, along with an abundance of unconditional love--it is not a free ride.

And that brings me to the next issue that has occupied my thinking these last few days: When did folks get the idea that one makes it on his or her own?  That we must be capable of doing everything for ourselves and never needing help from others?  And especially how did folks get that idea when so many of them espousing it had a lot of support and help from others, primarily by some sort of privileged status.  Privilege does not just mean wealth and inherited wealth.  Privilege can be the result of having educated parents who have a decent income, parents who buy a car for you, or pay for your housing, tuition, and textbooks, having gone to adequately funded schools who could attract good teachers.  I look at the difference in the performance of students who have no family support, no income or resources for text books and decent computers, for example, and those who have families who provide childcare, housing, tuition and text book funding, and wonder how it is that someone sees that level of support as "making it on your own." If the idea is independence, meaning the capacity to care for oneself at the level that is expected, then we have to give the tools, instruction, and resources to enable that, and no amount of preaching about the importance of making it on your own changes that.  If someone did not get those tools earlier, one does not just acquire them magically because one is legally of age--you still have to learn them.  I have seen far too many young people perish under the overwhelming burden of trying to "make it" without an adequate foundation of knowledge and skills for doing so, and flounder hopelessly in the continued absence of that foundation. 

Why is it that some folks have no difficulty with using the services of the police department, fire department, public school teachers, driving on roads and bridges, and then think the government should not provide health care for poor children?  If you cannot put out your own house fire, or solve your own robbery or burglary, get across the river on your own, you must not be independent and making it on your own, right?  Somewhere along the way, we seemed to forget that none of us pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps, but stood on the shoulders of those who came before us.  That does not mean we do not, or should not, work hard, do our share, contribute, and indeed, pay it forward to those coming after us.  It does mean to me that without compassion and caring for those who are not able to do what "you" do for whatever reasons, one is but "...a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."

As Sister Cassidy used to say, "If you are not going to help, then be like the ants and just get on out of the way." 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

What does a blind horse see?

Rio has been partially blind in his right eye since dad got him over 22 years ago.  In those intervening years, he has developed a cataract in that eye, and does not see out of it at all now.  His hearing is going, and his arthritis plagues him on the cold days.  He is getting "long in the tooth" and opts for chewing grass more often than his hay nowadays.  He patiently waited for me to get done with horse paparazzi, obligingly turning his head this way and that, probably wondering why this was necessary.  Or did he?  What is the horse equivalent to rolling your eyes in annoyance or amusement?
In looking at the pictures later that evening, I saw myself clearly reflected in Rio's eye--the one he sees with.  How do you see me, Rio? 

As I fed him one last time yesterday morning before I left, I stroked his soft fuzzy winter coat, scratched behind his ears, and told him I loved him.  He just kept eating, but I like to think that my cooing words of affection and the soft feel of my gloved hand down the side of his neck is a good memory for him, too.  Until next time, then, happy trails to you, Rio.