Sunday, May 24, 2009

We bought the farm - - Literally!!

"....which had no boundaries in time and space, where lurked musical and strange names and mythical and lost peoples, and which was itself only a name musical and strange."
- Ross Lockridge, Jr.; Raintree County

Yesterday we closed on the farm in New Castle, so it's official. We're Hoosiers! Next Saturday we'll start moving in, not that we have much to move!! Mostly photos and memorabilia! For furniture we'll be visiting various rummage sales, auctions, and the local Salvation Army (or Salvation "Armani" as my sister calls it!!)

After the closing we meandered around Henry County to get a taste of the local flavor and see what the area has to offer. I think I would describe the local flavor as "corn." It seems that the outlying areas consist mostly of farm fields and the towns and villages seem to consist of liquor stores and tobacco shops.

The folks around here seem to have a healthy sense of humor! I don't think we were in Henry Co., but on our way to the closing, we drove past a liquor store that had a HUGE pink ele
phant statue wearing shades guarding the entrance!! I'm going to try to get a picture and post it later.

I just finished reading a novel that is supposed to be based on Henry Co. It's called Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr. It takes place on a 4th of July in 1892, but most of it is flashbacks from the narrators life. It's a big, thick book full of political and religious postulating and surrealistic dream sequences. Even though I got a little bogged down in the dream sequences, I enjoyed the story, especially the historical perspective it gives about the attitude of the characters towards slavery and the Civil War.

When we were in Asheville, I read Thomas Wolfe's novel, Look Homeward Angel. I think it was written about 20 years prior to Raintree County. Wolfe's novel, while fiction, is actually based on the people and places of his youth. He changed the names, but left them obviously similar to the areas and people that they represented.
Apparently his family and friends weren't appreciative of the way in which they were depicted.

Raintree County is written in a similar fashion. The main character is based on Lockridge'
s grand-father and the area where he lived as a boy. In comparison to the Wolfe novel, I have to admit I enjoyed Raintree County more. (I wasn't even able to finish reading Look Homeward, Angel. I just lost interest.) I think Lockridge's characters were more fully developed and even though he acknowledged and illustrated their faults, he seemed to possess a certain level of respect for them, even if he didn't agree with their beliefs or actions.

I know I'm not the only person who has drawn similarities between the two novels, but the most ironic similarity is that both authors only published one major work during their lifetime, and both died tragically at a young age after the work was published. Wolfe contracted tuberculosis of the brain and died 9 years after the publication of his novel; Lockridge committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning just a few short months after his novel was published. Apparently he suffered from depression and possibly a chemical imbalance. It seems especially tragic because he left a wife and 4 young children. My next read is his biography, written by one of his sons called, The Shade of the Raintree.

I've enjoyed looking at the area where will be living and trying to imagine what it was like during the Civil War and how things have changed.

In other news, we have acquired a new member to our K-9 family!
Our neighbors here at the KOA in Greenfield, IN bought an Australian Blue Heeler puppy a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, she was a bit too much for them to handle. Heelers are very energetic, intelligent dogs. This couple is quite young, the husband works 90 hours a week on a gas pipeline (which is why they live in a 5th wheel.) The wife stays home with their 16 month old daughter and a puppy just didn't fit into that scenario well.

Since we're familiar with the breed and getting ready to move to a farm, they asked us if we would be interested in adopting her. I kinda had a feeling when they brought her home that we might "inherit" her, so it wasn't a complete surprise.

She's actually a very sweet dog and I think she'll be a great farm dog!! Twiggy and Shelby are learning to tolerate her and she seems to be adjusting to her new life quite well.

I'll include a couple of photos. She's quite photogenic!

Her name's Ellie Maye and she's about 10 weeks old.

Here are the Three Amigos with their bones.....

So, this will probably be my last post as a "Nomad of the North." I think I'm going to start a blog about life on the farm as a wannabe potter. I'm trying to come up with a name for it. I was thinking about "Hoosier Mama."The other possibility that came to mind was, "Some Assembly Required." Something tells me that will be an ongoing theme for us in the future! Life continues to be interesting and fun!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For, You May Receive It!

Yet more changes appear to be on my horizon. Lately I feel like many of the situations I find myself in are giving me an opportunity to examine and evaluate (and re-evaluate) my life and choices I've made and determine whether or not I'm ready to pursue something I've always wanted to do.

Recently, an opportunity availed itself to me that has caused me to try to figure out how serious I am about my favorite hobby - pottery! Clay is something I've dabbled in sporadically since high school. I've never had any "formal" education in the medium since I chose to drop out of commercial art school after just 4 short weeks, which is a whole 'nother story about choices. But I've always managed to keep ceramics in my life in some form or another, either by taking (or even teaching) a class here and there at various art centers or setting up a makeshift studio on my back porch, or finally a "real" studio, at our last permane
nt residence before we adopted our current nomadic lifestyle.

I've always felt like I've never been able to give it my full attention. I've always wondered if I could ever become "successful" at it, if I was able to truly focus on it as more than just a sporadic, but enjoyable hobby.

During our winter in Asheville, I became quite interested in salt-firing, but this method of firing requires a rather expensive kiln and some expertise that I don't feel I've acquired yet. But earlier this week, a good friend of mine who also happens to be a knowledgeable potter, and was aware of my interest, e-mailed me about a situation that could enable me to pursue this dream that's been cogitating in my feeble brain.

(The object of my desire.....)

Unfortunately it seems that whenever I find myself on the brink of realizing a dream, a little voice inside my head says, "Be careful what you wish for...." Up until just a few minutes ago, I really couldn't remember where I had ever heard this phrase, or what is the unstated but seemingly dire implication of obtaining that which we have wished for.

So, I googled it.........."be careful what you wish for...." and now I remember!! It was a quote at the beginning of a short story I read, probably in a junior high or high school English class, called The Monkey's Paw. In this story, an old couple is given a "magical" monkey's paw by a friend of the family. According to legend, the owner of the paw will be granted 3 wishes. Typically, the first thing the couple wish for is "riches" in the form of 200 pounds. Unfortunately, the wish is fulfilled by the death of their only son, who is killed by a horrible accident at his place of employment. His parents are given monetary compensation by his employer which of course is equal to the amount that the couple had wished for. A few days later in the midst of their grief, the wife, remembers the monkey's paw and convinces her husband to wish that their son be brought back to life. He reluctantly agrees, and shortly thereafter they hear a knock at the door. Suddenly, the husband realizes that if it truly is their son at the door, brought back to life by the wish, they may not want to see him in the state he's in, considering he was mutilated by the accident and has been dead for several days. The father quickly makes his third wish and when his wife opens the door, there's no one there.

I don't really think that buying this kiln will have such dire consequences, but I have come to realize that when we wish for something, we usually don't take all the facts into consideration when we imagine what the granting of that wish might entail. When I was young, I thought that I would be eternally happy if only I could have a horse. That wish was eventually granted for me, and my horses did bring me much happiness! If I had it to do over again, I would in a heartbeat! But I didn't realize the amount of time, money, and work that horse ownership required. It was more than I anticipated, but I also think that owning a horse helped me to develop a good work ethic, and patience, and many other benefits that I never realized would come with the blood, sweat and tears of the responsibility.

Similarly, I always wanted to own a small farm (this wish probably goes hand-in-hand with the previous wish!) Again, I had no clue that one never truly owns a farm, the farm owns you! But, also, I would do it again in a heartbeat (and apparently I will be soon, if we acquire the 18 acres in New Castle that we've made an offer on!)

So, yesterday and today I've been wrestling with the idea of buying this kiln (and a few other pieces of equipment) that would motivate, actually force me, to truly commit myself to being a potter. As I told a friend of mine, I guess it will make me finally shit or get off the (proverbial) pot!!

And as always seems to be the case, 2 fears stand in my way: the fear of failure and the fear of success!! I'm sure that my fear of failure is understandable and needs no explanation. Will I be able to produce quality work? Will anyone be willing to buy it? The real question is, will I be able to produce INCOME to justify the expense of the equipment?

But how can I be fearful of success?? I think of questions like, will the work consume me? Will I begin to hate the very process that I enjoy right now because I can do it when I want to, not because I HAVE to??

I also worry that I'm a little long in the tooth to be entering the phase of "emerging artist." Fercryinoutloud, I'm 47 years old!! Most days I would describe myself as a "submerging artist!!"

And then there's a 3rd fear that looms, the fear of regret. What if I spend the money on this equipment and months or years from now, find myself regretting it?

I have to say that I think my fear of regret is what has ultimately helped me make my decision. At this point in my life I feel like we can afford to take the financial risk, I feel like I've probably got more time on my hands than I've had available to me at any other time (even with the new grand-baby and the new home) and I feel like the classes I took in North Carolina, and the friends I've made recently will give me the resources I need to pursue this dream! I am truly afraid that if I DON'T take advantage of this opportunity, I'll definitely regret it!!

I have to admit that I've prayed about this a lot and I've been waiting for some kind of "sign from God" to show me what I'm supposed to do. I also have to admit that over the years, I've never really felt like God's reached down and hit me over the head with any obvious signs! It's usually been more a case of going into something with the right attitude. When I can do that, it seems to work out better. And that attitude has got to be something like, OK, let's give this a try and see where God takes me with it. When I've had an attitude of, "I need to do this no matter what the cost to me or my family...." it just has never worked out very well. I usually end up exhausted and disappointed because the cost turns out to be much more than I ever imagined, monetarily, physically, and emotionally!

I also think it's important that Steve backs me up in this endeavor. I've made a lot of decisions that he hasn't been too happy about (and of course he's made some boner decisions that I was against too.) It seems like if we're not on the same page when it comes to major decisions like this, stuff just doesnt work. But, we talked about this extensively and he seems to be very supportive, he told me to "go for it!" I know he has some worries and concerns, just like I do, but knowing that he's backing me up makes me feel like maybe I can pull it off!! Unfortunately, it also means I can't blame him if I fall flat on my face, dammit!!!

Actually, I think my point is somewhat similar to the point of the story I mentioned earlier. My desire to have God show me what to do is a form of wanting to leave my decision to fate. In the story, this point is illustrated in a conversation between two of the characters. The friend of the family who reluctantly gives the magical monkey's paw to the old man, tries to explain to him that having 3 wishes granted may not be as delightful of an occurrence as he would imagine. At one point something is said to the effect that fate rules people's lives, and that those who interfere with it "do so to their sorrow."

I'm hoping that this sweet deal that appears to have fallen into my lap at just the right time is a case of fate (or in my mind, God) ruling my life!! Of course I also believe that He require us to "take a leap of faith" once in awhile. I guess that's what I hope I'm doing!

Only time will tell, but over the years it seems like when I let Him be in control, things seem to go a whole lot smoother!

Friday, May 8, 2009

I have a new man in my life, he's a charmer!

It seems like it's been longer than a week since my last entry, but the calendar tells me that's really all the time that's gone by. On Monday morning our daughter still hadn't gone into labor so she went into the hospital to be induced. 24 hours later, our new grand-son, Jaedon, made his appearance in the world. It was a long night and we had some tense moments. She finally had to have a c-section, but both of them are doing great now!! They came home from the hospital yesterday and I am totally in love with this little guy!!

The experience has brought back a flood of memories from when Steve and I were starting our family! It's been an emotional roller-coaster the last few weeks! With his dad in and out of the hospital, and the 2 of us in the process of buying a house, and then the grand-baby coming - shwew! Let me catch my breath!

I'm so glad that we're living in close proximity to them right now. I remember how I felt with a new baby. I was only 20 and it made me feel like I was all grown-up, until something out of the ordinary happened, or he was fussy all day after a sleepless night, or I just wanted to take a long, relaxing, hot shower, but every time I laid him down, he'd start crying! Then my mom would appear and I didn't want her to know that I was relieved she'd shown up, but I WAS kinda relieved. And I'd take my shower, or a nap and then she'd start getting on my nerves and I'd be ready for her to leave us alone. My mom never had a clue when to give me my space. I don't think she understood the concept because she was the kind of person who LOVED to be around people!! She hated being by herself. So she just really had no ability to realize that sometimes I wanted to be by myself. I wanted to "do it myself." I have this really strong, independent streak. It gets me in trouble half the time! Occasionally it comes in handy.

I think Megan may have inherited that gene (and I wouldn't want it any other way!) I'm trying my best not to be "too" helpful. I do have a life of my own, believe it or not! So I try to make sure that she actually wants us to come over before we go, and when it seems like she's ready for us to leave, I try to take the hint and not fe
el offended. I think we're figuring it out.

Being a grandma is every bit as fine as I imagined it would be and I just can't wait til he's a little bit older so we can start reading books and playing games and making him laugh!! It won't be long, it goes so fast!

So as another Mother's Day approaches, I find myself feeling wistful about my mother's absence, feeling nostalgic about my early mothering days, and feeling joyous about my daughter's entry into the realm of motherhood. There's nothing like it!!

Here are a few pictures of the little's been confirmed by everyone who sees him, he's about the cutest baby in the world!! We got some pictures developed at Walgreen's and the photo guy thought he was so cute he didn't even charge us for them!! Seriously!

These were taken when he was about an hour old!! He was so wide awake! Look at those teeny little fingers!!

These were taken the very next day!

And this is my favorite!!! Can't you tell he loves his Nana already?!!!

We are gonna have some good times!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

To blog, or not to blog..............

Sometimes I wonder about what sort of things are appropriate to blog about. We've had lots of things going on and while some of them were happening, I had the urge to blog about them, but I wasn't sure if it was a good idea or not because of the "public" aspect of a blog. I think that aspect is probably partially responsible for the popularity of blogs, and I don't think that there are really all that many people who are taking the time to read my blog, but it is "out there" for people to see, so I find myself wondering whether or not I want to post certain things.

So, at least now I probably have managed to elevate the curiosity of both people on the planet who
do occasionally check in on my meanderings! And I think that I will mention the occurrence that I'm alluding to because it has had a happy ending (so far.)

We spent last Sunday afternoon hanging out in the emergency room of Bethesda North Hospital because my father-in-law had a stroke. It's not a pleasant way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon, but I'm thankful that if this had to transpire, it happened in close proximity to a place that was equipped to deal with it. I'm pleased to report that my father-in-law is now in his own home with no apparent side-effects or damage from the whole ordeal. Steve spent a couple days with him to make sure he was truly doing ok, and to talk to his family doctor and get him set up with a medic alert system.

Steve reported to me that the medic alert system is pretty amazing regardless of how dumb the commercials make them seem. When you're talking about maintaining independence and dignity for a relative who's going to be 80
years old this summer, it's nice to find an alternative to a nursing home or assisted living that's inexpensive and sensible. Steve says that when they installed the system and checked it out, they told his dad that he could use it if he just wants them to call one of us for any reason or if even if he's just feeling lonely and wants to talk to someone. I suppose it could make you feel a little paranoid, almost like you're being spied on, but I think it's definitely going to give Steve and his siblings some peace of mind regarding the well-being of their father.

I have a couple other pieces of news to report. The first thing is that we're still not grand-parents. Apparently "baby Stuie" is unaware and oblivious to the fact that he was supposed to have made his entrance into the world by now. I suppose he's going to take after his Uncle Dan, who was 2 weeks overdue and required surgical coaxing to see the light of day. And to provide yet more evidence that it must be genetic, I have to submit that Danny's lack of motivation can be traced directly to his father, the guy who put the "pro" in procrastination!! So it appears that we will have become official grand-parents by Monday (or Tuesday at the latest) because as of right now, the plan is for Megan to be induced if she doesn't show any signs of going into labor over the week-end.

In the midst of all this excitement we somehow managed to buy a new home. Well, technically, it's not a "new" home, it's actually a rather old home! But it's new to us. We bought an 18 acre property near New Castle, Indiana with a lovely old farmhouse and a beautiful 3-car garage that will serve as a wonderful pottery studio!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had been looking in the Brown County area and weren't finding anything that looked extremely promising. I had also been having some concerns about the distance between Brown Co. a
nd Steve's family in Ohio. So, I had started searching for properties between Indianapolis and Troy, rather than south of Indy. We came across this place a couple weeks ago, went to see it, liked it, made an offer, and it was accepted. Now, barring any unforseen issues cropping up during the inspection, it looks like we'll be moving in the last week-end in May! And with everything that's going on with Steve's dad, I think it's good that we didn't end up in Brown Co!!

I'll attach a few photos of the place since I haven't included many photos lately.

Here is the exterior of the house..........

It has a verrrrrrrry long lane! I won't need a Y membership, getting the mail will provide daily exercise!

The living room. I love the natural woodwork! That window will be the perfect spot for this year's Christmas tree!

No sliding down this bannister without a little reinforcement!!

I think it's going to be a fun place to live and have the grand-kids come and visit us! It's a little more house than we were thinking that we need, but this way we'll have plenty of room for family to stay in!! I'm pretty excited!

On Tuesday we have an inspection scheduled to determine whether or not there are any issues that may require attention (and money) in order to live in this house. Hopefully they won't find anything serious. We already have some fears about the septic system and some parts of the roof. We'll know more next week.

Also, next week, I will hopefully have some news on my grand-parent-hood status. And maybe I'll be able to post a few more pictures of the farm.

Until then.........keep on bloggin'! (that sounds lame!)