Sunday, July 29, 2007

Thinking Blogger: Round One

In the flurry of packing, preparing and living an increasingly extraordinary life, I ponder my five choices for the Thinking Blogger Award as bestowed by Jackie. Remember, the rules are:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog)

I decided at the get-go that I would not choose blogs that have already won the award or blogs that I already link to. This presents a bit of a challenge in that I don't surf random blogs looking for juicy new ones that fire up my mind.

But let's say I WERE to choose blogs I already link to that haven't won the award. I would definitely choose The Journey. Tink is a phenomenal woman with an amazing way with words. Not only does she run a tribe of 7 kids, 5 of whom are fostered, adopted, or in the process of being adopted, but she nurtures and grows that tribe with strength and grace. Her insights fly arrow-straight and true.

I would also choose Just Plain Foolish. I can count on her to present tough subjects with genuine eloquence and raw sincerity. Her dad just returned safely, thank God, from his second tour of duty in Iraq. She shares her unique insights on our soldiers, the war and its issues freely. The Plain Fool bears beauty and honesty as her hallmark. I'll miss you at Pennsic, my friend!

Not to slight the boys, I would also send you over to Parking Lot Pictures. Billydaking has a writer's soul in an editor's body, tempered with enough grace to refrain from teasing me for questionable taste in movies or picking on my wanton slaughter of grammatical convention. Most of the time. His thoughts on movies--and life--delve deep indeed.

These are but a few of the thinking bloggers I am blessed to know and read. As far as I'm concerned, even thought I haven't made the official selection according to my own addendum, the award still holds true. Of course, I also think "Hooked On Phonics" should work for Scrabble, so draw your own conclusions.

This is fun. I love winning, and I love helping other people win. Right now I feel like I'm bestowing knighthood on worthy warriors. This is the best of all worlds, and I haven't even officially started the game!

The Question

We already have it all.
The question is: how can we GIVE our all?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What News From Fiona? --er, Verona?

I venture forth on this, night 2
of Will's and Serena's acting debut.

From producer to pit crew, director to diva, the members of The Shakespeare Generation have yet to celebrate their 21st birthdays (think: a thespian Menudo). Tonight they breathe fresh life into the romantic tragedy (or is it tragic romance?) of Romeo and Juliet. Will, Serena, Fiona and Pelle (as a dashing Benvolio) represent the home team on stage.

The Program describes Will as "13, likes to read books, especially hard ones that most of us would not be able to understand. You will find him happily content in a chair at practice, sitting there and smiling. William is interested in historical warfare. After our last performance, William will be traveling to Mali to educate the people about our country's warfare. We wish him luck and success on this trip."

Yup, that's Will!

More news may follow sometime when I'm actually awake, but I'll let slip this spoiler: even though this is the umpty-gajillionth production since Shakespeare's first dress rehearsal, it still hasn't upgraded to a happy ending.

Slowly carving through the TaDa! List. Full slate of teaching this morning, then James (Saint James by now) helps me put up and hammer in some portable sheds and reconfigure the stick built shed and adjacent pastures. Heavy work, laborious work, and not a few casualties.

In between projects I duck into the dark coolness of the house to start new batches of photos from Shirley's uploading onto the Smugmug site.

The same beastly heat and humidity which saps strength and speed by day now bring glorious lightning storms and welcome, wonderful rain.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Last night I'm asked if there's anything I have to say, anything I want to ask or add.

I laugh sardonically. The image pops instantly to mind: thoughts in the shape of a thousand inmates clamoring at the bars of a jail cell. "Let us OUT!!!!!!!!"

Its all good. Sometimes its the season where action elbows out expression. But I want to figure out a way to have it all. A way to completely integrate...for lack of a better phrase, the right- and the left-brained sides of my life. Anyone know any GOOD voice recognition software that is accurate over a diesel roar? Next best scenario: calling your blog-- or some other instant mp3-ification on your cellphone, like Odeo used to offer? Any other thoughts for how to "write" while in a car (I keep a legal pad in the passenger seat but it takes so stinkin' long to read my high-speed handwriting) or on the back of a horse?

Tonight's blogplay hints at jailbreak....

Double Feast

My last lesson’s over, I’m ravenous, and the fridge is frightening. I know better than to head into the grocery on an empty stomach, plus I’m feeling pretty lightheaded—lightheaded enough to forget my book du jour as I head out. But there are benefits to living out of one’s car—I find another book from the way back and slip into an air-conditioned booth to await my burger. Ignoring the news on the TV overhead and the bemused stares from the table of guys across the aisle, I dive back into a reprint of a 1907 text that Liz gave me before we parted ways.

“When the student is ready, the Master appears.” Every sage worth her or his salt voices some iteration of this platitude. Nowhere does this apply more than to books. You pick up a text and the words swim on the page— and your wandering mind washes away. Then you pick up the same book under different circumstances and BAM—the words and your mind fuse with a powerful focus and it all CLICKS.

6 weeks ago, wading through the opening chapters of the book was laborious. Tonight, the archaic, slightly condescending words resonate to my core. It's time.

I double-feast with book and burger—both delicious, both feeding my hunger.

Today's Lessons

Summer at the Double K

Ebony Waiting
(Because Jackie digs the horses...)

Moths and Megapixels

One of today’s more enjoyable chores is nailing down a replacement camera. I picked up an Olympus Stylus 770SW before Shirleys. Small enough to slip into the pocket of hiking shorts or the saddlebag of a galloping horse, shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof… Gypsyproof! And 7.1 megapixels of revelry.

But alas I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) get used to the lack of a viewfinder so up on Ebay it goes. (For those who are interested, I'm happy to post the pix I took with it—I was blown away with it's quality. Its a heckuva camera, just not for me)

Now I’m a Canon girl to the depths of my cells and my soul, but when I pulled my lenses out of storage the company techs pronounced them irrevocable ruined. When the season comes I’ll reunite with a phat Canon DSLR and a stableful of glass awaiting adventure. 'Til then, I’m seeking a light, economical yet powerful playmate for my Olympus c-765 (my much loved and hardworking partner since a birthday after several painfully camera-free years.)

As I pore through online stats, reviews and comparisons, a moth alights on my ring finger like a living diamond. He shifts and sways as my hands dance across the keys. There’s a reason jewelers don't say "moths are forever.”Off he flits to find a flame to fly into.

The Second Stag

I'm almost to the car when I spin and bolt back inside. "I learned my lesson with the elf-car, " I explain, panting a little from my run to retrieve my camera. "I'm not missing another one!"

On the ride home, still swooning after melt-in-your-mouth sushi, we see them silouetted on the hill. Wolf wheels a 180, simultaneously slamming open the sunroof. I pop up and start shooting in wonder and awe.

Thinking Blogger

Crisp, delicious weather nonwithstanding, Summer is in full manic swing. How much can be done to conquer this corner of the world in the time slots scattered between teaching and traveling and teaching while traveling? Thinking slips lower on the ToDo List, though it's mutitaskable, so this morning for example, both "laundry" and "think" occupy the 10:30 -10:33 slot.

So I'm surprised and a little embarrassed to be tagged by Jackie Lantern as a "Thinking Blogger." The rules of the game follow thusly:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

But rather than post about all 5 at once, I think I'll spread the love (and give Jackie more links. Invest with the Gypsy for a Fivefold return! ;-) The game is on! ... And I'm late for laundry....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

"I Met One Traveling"

In the evening between sleep and awakening,
I met one traveling. He was the light of

consciousness. His body was soul, his pure
wisdom apparent in his beautiful face. He

praises me for a while, then scolds, "You
sit on the seven-sky throne, in prison.

The sign of Gemini has set a table for you,
yet you stick your head down a drainhole

again. Essence is not nourished with food
and sleep. Do no one any harm in this

timefield of short crops, where what you
sow comes back up very quickly! You try to

accomplish things, to win, to reach goals.
This is not the true situation. Put the

whole world in ambition's stomach, it'll
never be enough. Assume you get everything

you want. Assume you have it now. What's
the point? The next moment, you die.

Friend, the youth you've lived is ending.
You sleep a drunken dreamless sleep with no

sense what morning you could wake inside."

-- Ghazal (Ode) 3107
Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
"The Glance"
Viking-Penguin, 1999

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Putting out the Lights

It's late, Been a LOOONG day. Long night, too, of celebrating Jim's 50th Birthday--Brain checked out hours ago--I should officially be off duty and yet I wander through the Grove turning off the little push-lights in the Japanese lanterns.

Conrad is a mathematician--diametrically confused by my world vision. He's somehow astonished that I equate 6 with full moons with infinity, yet high fives me for celebrating a heap of prime numbers when I face-plant into them. But 6 was the number (albeit hours ago) of the Japanese lanterns strewn throughout the grove like fireflies on steroids. And Japanese lanterns are the realm of uncle Angus, whose poetic, arboreal soul succumbed several years ago to ALS, aka Lou Gherig's Disease.

Conrad leaves, guests leave, headlights dissappearing down the driveway drowned out by our own residual lightshow. Relatives wander upstairs and still the lanterns glow on. And as I brace against the unexpected July chill amongst the ancient oaks, I flashback to dousing the lights... 3 years before? more?

Liz saying, "You'll be a light-bearer at our wedding," and God kinda taking over from there. It's been a wild ride.

Brightening light. Illumination of a reality infinitely deep and vast.

I turn off the lanterns and head to bed.

Happy Birthday to Jim!

Jim's Birthday tonight.

What a miracle.

Not just celebrating his birth, but celebrating 50 years. And we do--with music , mayhem and mucho mastication.

It took living with Louise, his wife, my cousin, to honor my own Birthday. If nothing else I celebrate her for that. But then I think of the reunions, the family shin-digs, the times when she's enforced that the people in our lives take precedence over the paltry claims commerce wields over them. I fall in gratitude for the stand she's taken for people she's never known but for the roles they've played.

Louise, you're an amazing woman. You've impacted my life--and all the lives I touch-- in ways you may never know.

Jim, Happy Birthday! Tonight's been a blast!

I love you both!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wakeful in West Virginia

So jacked up I couldn't lie in bed anymore.

Long day, intense day--thought I was wiped out. Earlier, The Boyz urged me out for karoake but thoughts of sleep sounded sweeter. The lava flow of brake lights along the highway as far as I could see seconded that emotion. I wheeled Little Joy out of the endless two lane parking lot and into the black warren of backroads, on towards home.

But now, now I'm excited. It just clicked what fits.

The current maelstrom of activity includes SOMETHING around the county fair and photos. I haven't been happy with the idea of a traditional art show type booth, and can't quite put my finger on why.

That's not quite so, there are lots of reasons. I don't want to do "that kind of thing" in the future, why sow seeds for an undesirable harvest? I have way more things
to spend time and thought on over the next few weeks that really excite me rather than printing, matting and framing a gagillion images that I've already taken, that are already past. I would rather invest the money into a nice camera--and the time into playing with it and creating anew. The list goes on and the reasons sound hollow to me, but I know the fit isn't right.

I bounce ideas off Cy, off Wolf, off David, off Mom. And still, the fit's not right.

And then it clicks.

No actual product but for a token poster that to me embodies the idyll of a rural fair--and the spirit that has driven this whole crazy venture. My most alluring images---whatever they may be--- beckoning from the walls and digital displays for widest selection-- and hands-off fulfillment on my end. Fresh pictures from the fair updated hourly.

And that which has been most vital to the vision from its onset: outreach into the World. YOUR dreams are NOT sleeping-- and here are pictures to prove it. Moving forward, constant creation, ALIVE.

Not a traditional, proven business model. Non-compliant with tried and true marketing principles. But it FITS! And it leaves fair-goer's hands free for funnel cake.

I'm feeling more restful now--thanks for listening!

Quote of the Day

Thinking is the highest function of which a human being is capable. Unfortunately, very few people "think." They merely trick themselves into believing that because there is some mental activity taking place in their mind, they are "thinking."
- Bob Proctor, You Were Born Rich

My laughter subsides, Bob continues:

But the truth is, most people are simply exercising the mental faculty called "memory." They keep playing old movies, so old pictures keep flashing back on the screens of their mind.

It's our intellectual imperative to direct fresh scenes as the cameras of consciousness roll. Martin Scorcese, eat your heart out

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Home Again

For the moment, we're almost complete. Wolf's home, Cy's home, I'm home. Liz is still running amuck in Rwanda, though, and I miss her sorely.

I'm too exausted to argue when James invites me over. I'm already heading into town for groceries, I haven't seen everyone one in weeks, and I'm too wiped out to be productive tonight. I swing by.

The boys are already chillin' on the lawn. I collapse into hello hugs. There's a couple of weeks to catch up on all the way around, and confessions to be made: I humbly admit to James that he was right. Industrial acetone is NOT a good substitute for nail polish remover. (Seemed like a flash of genius at the time, though Liz waited a few minutes to follow suit to make sure my toes didn't dissolve--or ignite from being too close to the firepit.)

Well, the mango salsa must be laced with espresso, because after a little bit of catch up conversation and brainstorming, it becomes evident that we need an 80's dance party. NOW.

I miss Liz more than ever. Cy and I are jamming and pantomiming to "Future's so Bright" (and it is!) when a voice booms, "DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING?!!!!!!!!!!"

Mary Beth just got out of a vestry meeting at the church across the street, and saw me dancing in the window. Don'cha love small towns? She calls home. "Honey, it's dire. Liz is still out of town and Gyps is the only girl in the dance party. She needs my support! I'll just be a few minutes...." Takin' one for the team--thanks, Mary Beth! ;-)

She brings in her ipod and 80's gives way to beach music. We take it outside to try some swing moves amidst the tiki torches.

It's great to be home again!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Surely Sunset

Shirley's valley cuts north-south. In a lifetime of coming here, tonight's is the first sunset I've experienced.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

High Speed Frenzy

Wednesday afternoon the kids and ponies--and instructors--get a much needed break. I call around and find out the only place with wi-fi is at the highschool. Shirley is a mover and shaker on the board and can get us in. Emily and I race over the hill after lunch to get connected.

I have time to throw up a few posts from the trip up in Saturday, and start uploading pix onto Smugmug in Summer Clinic galleries.

I also sell a horse.

Life is good, the school is closing, and I'm off to play in the Big River.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Summer Session: July

Frigid streams laughing through tranquil forest, craggy cliffs looming around us. I'll be here just over a week, where the air is clean and the internet is... more relaxed, shall we say. I type in a url. "Manana..." the browser yawns.

The blog continues its inexporable crawl, but actual posting will be on an as-possible basis.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Welcome to Shirley's

Middle of Nowhere, Central PA

Two billboards leap out from ads for cheap breakfasts, expensive fuel and tired roadside attractions:

“Failed. Failed. Failed. And then…” And a picture of Abe Lincoln, emblazoned: PERSISTENCE

Kermit the Frog: “Eat flies. Date a pig. Hollywood star. Live your dream. Pass it on!”

Of HeliTractors and HoverDeeres

I realize after I hang up with my brother that Ben is at the conference with him. Ben is an army engineer and a jovial genius. He provides solid logistics behind even my most outlandish ideas. I call back.

Today’s question du Jour is anything but outlandish: Is a hover tractor an impractical upgrade? His answer surprises me—after some back and forthing, we decide yes, absolutely. But a heli-tractor would be more fuel efficient. Fuel tanks at each corner and the ability to manipulate fuel flow between them provide stability while operating the front-end loader in flight, whether hover or heli.

And nothin’ hovers like a Deere.

On the Road Again

A girl, her dog and her camera. It’s a beautiful thing.

...And her bike. And her books. And her office-on-the-fly. And her snorkel. And her snacks. Oh, yes, lots of snacks.

On the road again!

Sunrise, Goodbyes

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Striking Gold!

This Gypsy likes to shoppe at a trendy little boutique found in hip locations around the globe. It's specialty is one-of-a-kind, tough-to-find treasures. Its Will is Good. Sometimes it even Salvages entire Armies. And when you're lucky, its one size will fit you.

Today I find a copy of Napoleon Hill's Master Key to Riches on the racks. I begin to fantasize. What if some poor soul, down-on-his-luck, stumbled across that book, picked it up and applied its principles? What if he turned his wildest dreams into a multi-billion dollar company that transformed the world? What if, out of deep gratitude, he started a foundation to teach success to people who know only disappointment? My mind sings with possibilities.

But I've popped in today to pan for my own gold, and I'm richly rewarded. A long sheer scarf with fringe and another sparkling enticingly with golden sequines catch my eye--they'll be nice additions to my horse's medieval middle-eastern garb.

I pause at the CD racks-- not a usual haunt. And there, nestled amidst musical memories best forgotten, shines the holy grail:

*** Adobe Photoshop Elements ***

I'm dancing with gratitude-- and already planning to find a new-in-the-box digital Canon XTi at a yard sale on my way to New England!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Tornado Warnings

The dually and I are wheeling around the back 40 Getting Things Done when I get a voice message from Missoula, Montana. "Don't know what's going on there, but there are tornado warnings your way!"

The skies have been pregnant yet unexpressive but for a few bloated, lazy drops earlier. I'm intinsically edgy, anticipating my impending summer sojourn, so can't trust my own inner weather-or-not-ometer. Ginny cheerfully affirms in her inimitable matter-of-factness "oh yeah, tornado--" just as the skies open and the deluge consumes.

Tornado thoughts conjure the obvious. I haven't found the full movie on Youtube yet. Even in pieces, it's amazing how well the album integrates with the film.

Storm's thundered on. Heading back out to race nightfall.

Independence-- Vive le Difference!- Part IV

On the other hand, Matthew and I talk about temperaments and personality rather than gender. He's read many of the same books as I have, lived overlapping experiences, ascribes to similar theories. We talk about Personality Plus, which was a seminal book for me. For the first time I experienced a framework in which I was not schizophrenic or insane, merely...multifaceted. More importantly, that same paradigm revealed that certain friends and clients aren't lazy or ditzy or arrogant or overbearing, just inclined to different temperaments. Wow. Talk about a powerful tool.

There is always the argument in classification: on the one hand labeling is dangerously restrictive, imposing structure and meaning where perhaps none exists. On the other hand, what is language itself but a body of labels which allows us to earmark objects and experiences for recognition as well as further interaction and reflection?

Double edged sword--no sabre, this. There's a flip side to every coin. No joy without anguish. No revelation without suffering. No liberation without submission--even in language. As Tink is so fond of saying, it all comes down to the choice. You can choose to use classification to liberate, or to enslave. I choose liberation!

I blew off a fourth of July party to work towards my upcoming trip. Band-aids on blisters, I'm outta here!

Happy Independence Day!

Independence-- Vive le Difference!- Part Thr33

A few weeks ago I have separate campfire conversations with Mannie and Matthew. Mannie tries to convince me the differences between gender are absolute. "Men are more mechanical" he informs me. I think about The Mechanic, who (along with divine providence and a daily dose of miracles) kept my old Buick running until little Joy, my Subaru, came into my life; and about Cy and Wolf, who can coax eager cooperation from the most cantankerous computer. I am eternally grateful--I couldn't do it without them. But then I think about Ginnie, or my mom, or even myself in a pinch, who can MacGyver vital solutions in the face of any impossibility.

"Women are more emotional," Mannie continues. Arighty, I resemble that one. As do all the important women in my life, because in caring comes deep experience, fierce assertiveness, and powerful protectiveness. Yet every one of these women has such deep strength as to sublimate her own emotions to the cause at hand. Not subjugate: feelings are still recognized and honored. But they are given no more authority than their nature commands.

As we talk, my sock feet are balanced on the edge of the firepit, relishing the heat and freedom. Mannie keeps hassling me to put on my shoes. I finally get paranoid- "do my feet stink or something?!"

I take a whiff. Fragrant as any self-respecting feet on a camping trip, but not overwhelming. Mannie heads off to his hammock. I eventually go to put on my shoes--and the laces are intricately woven together. "Women are more mature than men!" In this moment, I'd agree with that one-- but for the pranks I'd pulled on him earlier.

Independence-- Vive le Difference!- Part Dieux

Greg was the perfect big brother. He deserves sainthood for humoring me through the years. But one night I pushed him too far. I don't even remember the circumstances, I was just goofing around. He just picked me up, carried me to the elevator, put me in, pushed the button and sent me DOWN. and there wasn't anything I could do about it.

Now, I'd always been active and pretty assured of my strength(and apparently well-humored by my friends, most of whom were guys.) Greg was a deskbound computer geek (for which I was profoundly grateful--this was in the internet's embryonic days, and I was much happier pounding around on my mountain bike or slashing people with sabres than staring at a screen learning UNIX.) That day I realized that a) he's a lot bigger b)he's a lot heavier and c) despite his couch-potato status, he's stronger. That last one was a tough pill to swallow.

But it's OK. After a lifetime futilely tearing up my body to prove to no-one I'm worth the air I breathe, I recognize its OK to honor my limitations. And that in turn allows me to honor and be extremely grateful for (big, strong) generous friends like Cy and James.

Independence-- Vive le Difference!

They say women have more neural integration between the segments of their brains, hence their superior ability to simultaneously access multiple areas and multitask. Nothing like leaving your businesses for a week to fire your ganglia into a manic synaptic square dance.

What's happening in the office and at the bank for the next week or so that needs to be taken care of before I leave? What
farmwork might come up that I can address now? Fencelines to be checked, supplies to order, a horse sale to complete and a few others to further along. What can I anticipate that might come up that I can cover NOW and save scrambling by my substitutes? What do I need for my work up north? What do I want to accomplish in my "spare" time while I'm gone? Talk about neural integration!

Now, I believe men and women are equally valuable, but we are far from equal. All the same, I wonder about claimed gender differences. Some things are no brainers-most men are stronger physically than most women. The moment I realized this is indelibly printed in my mind:

I ended up at the same college as Greg, a good friend's big brother. He was as surprised as I was. "How did YOU end up at an engineering school?" he asked, incredulous. "Well, the school flower is the dandelion. That's my favorite flower. You can make crowns, and wine, and wishes from them...."

I thought it made more sense than a lot of the criteria my classmates were using in their college searches. Truth be told, it was the last thing I wanted to be bothered with.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Hayku Part Tu

Mayhem quiescent.
Lofts bursting with greengold life!
JEB's snoring. Me next....

Farm Dog


The greatest form of maturity is at harvest time. This is when we must learn how to reap without complaint if the amounts are small and how to reap without apology if the amounts are big.
~Jim Rohn

I leave for a week of teaching in Massachusettes in a few days. This migration is an annual benchmark. Summer is established. Where is my progress in relation to my goals?

Half the hayloft bulges with sweet-smelling bales. If the winrows dry enough to bale in the next few hours, we'll bring in more wagonloads then celebrate with a float down the creek and a mountain of lasagne and watermelon.

But before the chaos of the morning sets in, I show one of my mares to a prospective buyer. I like the woman, the woman likes the mare, the mare likes the woman, the woman likes me. People erroneously assume commerce is material, when it's 99.9% relational. Looks like Holland is heading to a new home tomorrow morning.

I am learning to reap big, without apology.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Now I Believe....

Now I will believe that there are unicorns....
~William Shakespeare, The Tempest