heard, still

September 22, 2022

On September 22, 2021, my GramBea had a joyous reunion with her sisters, PaCharley, and the multitude of hosts also there, waiting to welcome Busy Bea (or perhaps more likely attempt to keep up with her as she dashed about, on to the next, heavenly project).
I like to think she thinks of me each day, as I do of her. I like to think she’s proud of me . . . but, on second thought, I know she is. As much as this life often hurls messages of “not good enough,” I never had to question that with her. GramBea’s voice rang loud and clear:
“You can do anything! . . . “You’re so smart!” . . . “How in the world did you know how to do that!?!”
But, of course, if in fact I have ever been able to do, be, or learn, anything remotely noteworthy, chances are pretty stinkin’ high that she had something to do with it :-)

So today, in recognition of that day one year ago, I re-post what I wrote about her back in the early days of lockdown, when we were reeling from regulations that kept her isolated in the assisted living facility she had moved into just months before the pandemic began.

Recognizing her present reality makes my thoughts at that time seem fitting today:


This morning my 93-year-old grandma got to sing happy birthday through her computer screen, to my 6-year-old nephews. They showed off their handsome faces, dressed to the nines in their button-down shirts and bowties. She smiled and waved and “wowed” their antics. From across the ocean, now face to face. Technology is amazing.
This afternoon my grandmother’s brother-in-law died. It was a peaceful passing, and I am grateful for the daughter who cared for him in the home for those final days.
I want to say that all is well. My husband and I have all we need in our home; and we have work and homestead routines to occupy us. There is much that is right.
And yet.
All is not right. I want my grandmother to be with her sister right now. When my grandfather died, I watched them comfort each other. At one point in the family funeral gatherings, I saw them together on the master bed, arms draped over each other, able to sleep peacefully in the quiet company unique to sisters. GramBea’s world had fallen apart but, for a little while at least, all was well . . .
I wish we could have spoken in person to relay the news of this passing. But we could not.
I want to be able to hold GramBea’s hand right now. But I cannot.
I can handle that.
At the moment, however, I am battling the frustration of knowing that the sisters cannot be together. I have no answers for this madness of a world we live in right now. I do the best I can to keep informed and up-to-date; yet at times it seems as if the more I learn the more ignorant I feel, overwhelmed by the rate at which things are changing and by the swirl of new, and often conflicting, information.
In my little sphere of life, though, I know one thing right here, right now: things are not as they should be.
Would that I could wave my magic wand, bringing the two sisters together for solace in the grief.
This afternoon I see a missed call when I come in from milking the goat. I call her back immediately, worrying . . .
She sounds ok. We talk about the birthday party this morning. She says she is ok. We chat a few moments longer and the conversation lulls. “I love you,” she says. “GramBea . . .” I pause. I don’t know what to say. I’ve never been good at verbalizing emotions regardless—especially not with family. What comes out of my mouth is cringe-worthy at best. Something along the lines of, “You’re in my heart.” I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, never mind why I say it.
But she hears me.

the goat who galloped

September 11, 2022

She was our initiation into the world of #crazygoatfolks , coming to us with one of the kids from her latest litter. A large Nubian mix, she captured our hearts from the get-go, slightly worse for the wear due to the wear and tear of mothering goat-kids (though never enough to keep her from getting wherever she wanted to get, whenever she wanted to get there).

In those days, as we learned what homesteading looked like for us, milking was a two-man job. Most of the time I would do the manual part of the milking while Peter held onto her back legs, holding the strong kicking at bay.

The first time I was on my own for the job, we both almost died. I’m not exaggerating. Well, maybe just a little bit; but it felt like it at the time.

She kicked, and somehow managed to do so with such force that the entire back end of her body careened up and over the brace of the milking stanchion. For an eternity-feeling several minutes, she was then caught, splayed over me while I frantically tried to free her neck from the stanchion.

Looking back at the event now, I’m actually not sure how I managed it, considering how large, and strong she is. As soon as I had, though, my adrenaline turned to tears and I crouched there on the floor of our shed with her, rubbing her sides and sniffling to her about how sorry I was.

I don’t remember many difficulties with the milking process after that day; maybe we both moved significantly forward from that point on in our respective skill/tolerance.

Lady was the inspiration for my foray into the world of fiction. I didn’t plan to write a middle grade story; the experience of falling in love with the quirks of this bizarre creature, however, made it feel impossible for me not to dream up a tale about a goat. A goat who longs to gallop like a horse. A goat who learns more than she expected from a horse named Harriet. A goat who galloped.

The process of writing this story, once I had begun, ended up being one of the most challenging writing projects I’ve ever undertaken…and probably consequently, also the most rewarding. The process also surprised me with its entertainment factor, as I found myself laughing out loud at some of the scenes I was writing.

That was a year and a half ago.

After quietly sitting with my completed manuscript for that time, I mentioned it, a couple of months ago, to a fellow writer friend. Thanks to her knowledge about, and help with, book formatting, and thanks to the talent of an artist friend, I am now putting the final touches on Glory’s story: The Goat who Galloped.

The final days of this birthing may, sadly, be the final days of Lady. Who knows for sure: we’ve had goats miraculously bounce back before. But we are preparing ourselves for the possibility of sending our Lady onward, with the deepest gratitude for the goodnesses that she has brought to our little farm. 


September 6, 2022

I’d scheduled a phone call this afternoon with a friend who moved away a year ago. Shortly before our call, she texted me to apologize in advance, as it looked like her daughter was not going to go down for her afternoon nap. I told my friend that I understood the woes of colicky little ones and said to please not worry about it: I’d be available if she ended up free, but would happily reschedule if not.

Later on she thanked me for understanding. She said that the day has been spent holding a little one who would have nothing other than being held all day.

My response was immediate; but as soon as I had written it I stared at the words and realized I had written them for myself: “…. We could all probably take a lesson from A, and be honest about those times when all we want to do is be held all day …”

This past week has thrown me for a loop. I’ve ended up having to admit, to those closest to me, that I’m not in a good place. My mind has been running a loop around a series of work events that left me questioning my place in this world.

If I were to admit the status of my heart, it would be very similar to that of a colicky infant.

On our evening dog walk, I told my husband that I felt guilty for not being able to rein in my thoughts enough to produce any solid creative content this weekend. I wanted to use the extra day off work to put something meaningful out into the world. But I have not had the words.

Last night my stepdad gave me a lesson in playing the harmonica. I sat on their porch after dinner, following his instructions and perfecting a few short tunes. While running errands today I pulled out the harmonica and gave myself a practice session as I waited for a deluge of rain to lighten. 

Tonight my husband and I watched another episode of All Creatures Great and Small. After discovering the new series on a Saturday visit with my great aunt, I obsessed about it so much that I signed up for a PBS free trial just to watch the show. It gave my mind a blessed rest from the loop. It brought laughter. It brought tears.

Another friend I spent time with today lit up at my mention of the show. She too has discovered, and loved, its simple beauty. I could not help but think of C.S. Lewis as we sat on her couch and sipped our drinks. 

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.

A harmonica.

Tales of farm animals and bucolic British life.



*another photo of our cat. For no reason. Except perhaps the fact that I am still without a functional keyboard, depending upon my phone … and I may or may not ever finish that previous post ;)