Hillbilly Zen – Blessings, Blogs, Blitzes and Battle Lines

I’ve known for quite some time that there are incredibly talented folks blogging on WordPress, and having to restrict my access to their work has brought that point home in a big way.  The writing, the photography and the art are just outstanding, and I want to thank each and every one of you for sharing your gifts with the world.  You truly make this planet a better place, each in your own unique way.

Ok, I’m done being all mushy.  For now, anyway.

Being unemployed blows, and having to spend limited internet time doing what I don’t like (filling out job applications) vs. what I like a lot (reading great blogs) blows big wind.  My account has finally reset, though, so y’all get ready to see gobs of Likes and comments on your blogs.  It’s going to take awhile to catch up, but as long as the coffee holds out, I’m good.

In between searching for a decent job and enjoying awesome blogs, I’ll be going into battle with a local tourist spot.  Their animals are being poorly cared for, some to the point of death, and it cannot be allowed to continue.  The administration of the facility has been notified and done nothing to correct the situation, so I’m currently in communication with the Board of Trustees and local officials.  If that doesn’t produce action, it’ll be time to take it up a notch and go to the media.  I’m really hoping that won’t be necessary, because other than the problem with the animals it’s a wonderful place.  I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, thank you again for sharing your wonderful work; getting up to date on what I’ve missed is such a pleasure.  Any prayers, good vibes and encouragement will be greatly appreciated!

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Hie Nonny Nonny and a Hot Cha-Cha!

 

Just a little Saturday silliness…

Hillbilly Zen – Tornadoes, Snow Storms and Ducks on Ice

(Author’s note:  Yesterday there were tornadoes in Kentucky, today we’ve got snow and ice.  Like everyone else, I’m starting to feel the strain of constantly being chilled to the bone and interminable shades of gray. So, I decided to take my own advice and count my blessings.  I wrote this column for the local paper back in 2008.  Hope you enjoy it.)

Tornadoes, Snow Storms and Ducks on Ice

Every now and then, our world turns upside down.  We are yanked out of our personal comfort zone and forced into an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with our own mortality.  We all, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, walk a fine line – the razor’s edge of existence – with every single breath we take.  Perhaps it is some primal survival instinct that keeps us from dwelling on this, some intrinsic coping mechanism that urges us to quickly process traumatic events and then resume our everyday routine as soon as possible.  We spare little, if any, time to ponder the tenuous nature of our time on this earth.  But…every now and then…our Creator reaches down, bips us upside the head and commands our attention.

We all accept that Kentucky weather is predictable in its unpredictability.  When 700 temperatures plummet to 300 within a day’s time we just shake our head, roll our eyes and wonder why we even bothered to put the long underwear back in the dresser drawer.  But to see the wreckage from one week’s tornadoes covered by inch-thick ice the next week must surely give pause to even the most stoic among us.  This is not just “Kentucky weather”.  This is a stark reminder of how capricious the Fates can be, how what we often take for granted can be taken from us in the blink of an eye.

Photo by NOAA

Tornado Damage in Town

It gets a little festive on my beloved hill the Tuesday night the tornadoes hit.  For the last few weeks, we have been in some sort of weird pattern in which every Tuesday brings severe weather.  Although the previous Tuesday’s winds seem to have howled a bit louder, it becomes evident that this Tuesday’s storm means business. Brief, fervent pleas tumble from my lips each time the house shakes, and even the cats deign to join the dogs and me as we huddle in the bathroom.  When it is all over, a few tree limbs are the only damage on my farm.  The house withstands the onslaught, the barn and the horses are fine, so I offer a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving and go to bed.  After seeing the enormous property damage done throughout the county, it really hits me that it’s only by the good Lord’s grace that no one was killed.  More prayer then, and grateful wonder at the mercy shown to all.

That’s what it comes down to really, doesn’t it?  It’s all about finding those grateful moments.  In the dark times a little extra effort might be required, but if you keep at it, focus on finding even one thing to be thankful for, gratitude gets a little easier each day.  The coolest part is, even the smallest benevolence can produce sizeable joy; ducks on ice, for instance.

On the first gray, dreary morning after the ice storm I dread going out, but my critters are first priority so I bundle up and gingerly make my way out onto the porch.  The ducks immediately start clamoring to be let out of their pen, and ice stormthus begins one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life. The minute I open the gate, they stampede out like they usually do.  Instead of slapping across grass, however, their little webbed feet hit a solid sheet of ice.  This is closely followed by their little feathered bottoms hitting the ice.  I can almost hear “The Blue Danube Waltz” playing in the background; Da da da da dum (Splat! Quack! Splat! Quack!), da da da da dum (Splat! Quack! Splat! Quack!).  Gospel truth, I laugh until I literally have tears in my eyes.  The ducks seem to take offense at my helpless laughter, glaring at me as if their lack of traction is my fault.

After that the day seems a little brighter and a bit warmer.  My burdens, whether real or imagined, feel much lighter.  Each remembrance of that moment will bring laughter and thanks to God for a hilarious mercy shown on a dismal winter morning.

It’s ok to feel sorry for yourself sometimes.  Go ahead and have a pity party, but make it a short one.  Then find something, even the tiniest little thing, that makes you smile.  Blessings aren’t that hard to find, and even a little bit of gratitude goes a long way.

Photo by Marin Winters/Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Marin Winters/Wikimedia Commons

Good Things Come In Threes – The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

In acceptance posts for previous award nominations, I’ve listed the reasons why I think these awards are good things for individual bloggers and the community in general.  This particular award blew my mind a little, though, because I was nominated for it almost simultaneously by three of my favorite bloggers.

Britt, at http://fairytaleepidemic.wordpress.com/, is smart, funny and unbelievably talented; a truly lovely young woman both inside and out.   Her poetry is some of the most honest it’s ever been my privilege to read, and she posts music videos that keep me from becoming a total Classic Rock dinosaur.  She’s “Chicklet” to my “Mama Hen”, and that’s a good thing, Martha.

Matthew, at http://matthewkirshenblatt.wordpress.com/ , is one of the sharpest young minds around, yet writes with the wisdom of an old soul.  His posts are often funny and always thought-provoking, and he’s just an all around good guy.  That he considers my blog award-worthy is an honor that I don’t take lightly.

My hillbilly buddy lovinchelle, at http://lovinchelle.wordpress.com/….well, what can I say.  If you’re really lucky or really blessed, depending on your theological view, you have a friend like him.  He’s a no drama, down to earth kind of guy with incredible talent.  He’s got a way of cutting through all the distracting nonsense and seeing the beauty of simplicity.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I think the world of all three of you, and I am truly grateful for your consideration.

Here’s how this works:

1) Display the award on your blog

2) Link back to the person who nominated you

3) State 7 things about yourself

4) Nominate 15 bloggers for this award

5) Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific post so that they get notified by pingback

As you can see, I slacked off on nominating 15 people.  It’s not that I don’t think the other bloggers I follow are inspiring, it’s just that I’ve nominated them for awards before, they were all good sports about it, and I don’t want to piss them off!  I still think these awards are a great way to discover new blogs, but although the procedures are fairly simple they can be time-consuming.  Whether they choose to participate or not, I urge you to click the links below; these are some excellent posts from excellent writers and photographers.

http://meandtheboss2013.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/wings/

http://senzingzen.com/2013/03/10/poem-memories/

http://1pointperspective.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/life-lessons-from-gilligans-island/

http://likeitiz.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/phoneography-challenge-my-neighborhood/

http://russelrayphotos2.com/2013/03/14/architecture-designs-and-landscaping-by-mother-and-father-nature/

Ok, so here’s the part that always hangs me up – writing about myself.  Ask me to list seven things about my critters and it’s a snap.  Writing seven things about myself makes my brain itch.  But here we go:

I play the lottery pay into my retirement plan once a week.

I’m seriously considering going back to school so I can find a job that will finance  my farming habit.

My new favorite author is Nevada Barr.

I know I’m a child of the Universe and have a right to be here, but I have a real problem with accepting what I cannot change.  If I can’t change it, I aggravate the tar out of someone who can.

My favorite bumper sticker is “Hey, where are we going and why are we in this handbasket?”

When I was 17, I got busted for climbing a water tower.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat – the view was amazing.

I cook with wine a lot.  Sometimes I even put it in the food.

Whew!  Thanks again to Britt, Matthew, lovinchelle and all the other bloggers who inspire me.

 

 

 

 

 

Back Like A Bad Penny!

Bad pennyAfter six weeks of apoplexy-inducing interaction with an unscrupulous computer “repair” business, my laptop is once again ensconced on my lap. Needless to say I’m delighted, unlike my cat Puh, who keeps shooting me narrow-eyed dirty looks because he no longer has access to said lap. He’ll get over it, and I’m trying to. Instead of dwelling on the negative (the previously mentioned business, which is apparently staffed by chimps with hammers), I’m trying to focus on the genius and generosity of Thomas Vukelic of Cold Springs Computer Repair in Harrodsburg, KY. In one week and for half the cost, he corrected the original problem as well as repairing the damage caused by the tool-wielding primates.

I’ve missed you guys! Scanning through the comments you’ve left reminded me just how wonderful the net can be, and how great it feels to have access to such a talented group of people. It’s going to take me awhile to get caught up, but I’m chomping at the bit to read what you’ve written and see what you’ve painted and photographed. Thanks for all the good vibes and kind words. We now resume our irregularly scheduled programming…

Hillbilly Zen – The Liebster Blog Award (I’m lovin’ it!)

For people with a full quota of self confidence, sharing themselves comes easily.  For the rest of us it can be a real struggle.  No matter how much encouragement comes from family and friends, there’s always that hesitation to reveal inner truths.  Ironically, sometimes it’s family and friends who planted that doubt in the first place, but that’s a topic for another post.  When we take that first chance with words on a page, photographs, paint, sculpture or music it’s terrifying.  Even though it becomes a bit easier with each successive effort, we tell ourselves it doesn’t matter if anyone likes our work or not.  We lie.  It matters a whole honkin’ lot.  So to be recognized as a peer by someone whose opinion we respect is a wonderful thing.

That’s what’s happening here.  lovinchelle, whose blog is one of my very favorite places to be and who is one of my very favorite people, nominated me for The Liebster Blog Award.  Some folks don’t care for these awards and that’s cool, but I think they’re great.  Will they enhance a resume?  Nope.  Will they increase income?  Nah.  Will they improve my love life?  Not so much.  What they do is whup the tar out of a creative person’s inherent insecurity.  They allow us a Sally Fields “You really like me!” moment.  They’re also the gift that keeps on giving, introducing us to fellow bloggers we might have missed otherwise.  By participating, we have the opportunity to experience the inner truths of others, to be one of the voices who offer encouragement.  We can make our little blogosphere a better place, and maybe learn a thing or two about ourselves and our universe in the process.

Here’s the deal:

Liebster Blog Award Rules:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger has set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!

(I’m going to mix this up a bit and answer lovinchelle’s questions first.  My coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, so I’m taking the path of least resistance.)

1. Favorite thing to do? – Fishing
2. Ideal job – Turning my farm into an agri-tourism destination
3. Whats one thing you wear that probably needs to be thrown away? – A pair of ratty old toe socks
4. Do you work well with others? – Usually
5. Whats your mental age?(kid at heart?) – Hard to say – sometimes I feel incredibly old, but I still laugh when my dogs fart, so….six-ish?
6. Have you ever worked in a restaurant ? – Good golly yes, off and on, either as primary or secondary income for over 30 years
7. What do you like to eat? – Pretty much anything, and I’ve got the hips to prove it
8. Do you prefer outdoors or in? – Out, definitely
9. Could you survive without internet or cell phone? – Absolutely
10. What time is it? – 10:00 a..m. – time for another cup of coffee
11. Di d you groan or smile when you read the rules for this award? – Both

Eleven things about myself, otherwise known as TMHI (Too Much Hillbilly Information):

1.)  My favorite breakfast is pancakes and sausage on a stick and hazelnut coffee

2.)  More often than not I prefer the company of critters over humans

3.)  If the lottery gods ever smile upon me, one of my first expenditures will be opening an elephant rescue

4.)  I studied pre-law in college (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth)

5.)  I’m not a big fan of organized religion or political parties

6.)  I’m a huge fan of margaritas on the rocks

7.)  My favorite song is Janis Joplin’s version of “Me & Bobby McGee”

8.)  I’m a sucker for kids, critters and old folks

9.)  I believe that pantyhose were invented by the Devil himself

10.)  I smoke like a chimney when I’m writing

11.)  I do not suffer fools gladly

And now for my nominees:

Childhood Relived

Kristen Lamb’s Blog

Olio talk by Suchitra Kaushiva

The Blue Hour

dlightblog

Rachel Mankowitz

seapunk2

Shoeful of Drool

A Little Bird Tweets

Gnawing the Bone

My Daily Minefield

Here is my list of questions for them to answer:

1.)  When did you discover your talent?

2.)  Who gave you the most encouragement to develop your talent?

3.)  Have you thanked the person from question #2?

4.)  Do you work better on sunny days or rainy ones?

5.)  What’s your favorite beverage to drink while working?

6.)  Favorite comic strip?

7.)  Do you prefer to be on dry land or on/in the water?

8.)  Do you speak more than one language?  (Yes, Klingon counts!)

9.)  If you could re-live one day in your life, which one would you choose?

10.)  What’s your favorite quote?

11.)  If you were offered the ability to fly, but only by becoming a buzzard, would you do it?

Okey dokey, nominees, have at it.  Remember, there’s no pressure here.  If you decide this isn’t your cup of tea, it’s all good, but I encourage you to participate.  It’s turned out to be very enlightening and rather fun.

This award is a little more complicated, logistics-wise.  Eleven is a big number when answering or asking semi-personal questions and making notification visits.  The only really easy part was picking that many nominees, so if any of these folks choose not to participate, don’t be a hater – visit their blogs anyway.  They’re that good.

Speaking of that good, thanks again to lovinchelle for being the wonderful soul that you are.

Hillbilly Zen – The Versatile Blogger Award (sometimes ADD really pays off!)

Motivation doesn’t come easily for me.  I have a tendency to rest on admittedly tattered laurels rather than risk rejection.  Pieces that have received past praise get dusted off, tweaked a bit and trotted back out.  Re-entering the whirl that is WordPress is forcing me to change that behavior, and although uncomfortable, I know it’s a good thing.  If we allow it, the Universe will send us rewards for our efforts at improvement, and this is a case in point.  A rockin’ young woman named Britt, who blogs at Fairytale Epidemic, nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award.  I’m a big fan of her work for several reasons;  she’s fearless about sharing her own fears, she’s sometimes funny but can be a little dark and is just a beautiful woman, inside and out.  Plus, the music videos she often showcases keep me from sinking into “Classic Rock Syndrome”.  So thanks, chicklet, for the cosmic nudges.

For those of you about to be nominated who are not familiar with the award process, it may sound a little chain-letterish (a friend dubbed it ” a positivity Ponzi”).  Someone nominates you for the award, you nominate others, they nominate others…you get the idea.  It’s a great way to discover new blogs that you might not have found otherwise, and if you choose to participate I can tell you from personal experience it’s a win/win.  First there’s the warm fuzzy of being recognized by a blogger you admire, which is always nice.  Second, it blows the roof off your blog stats, also nice if your goal is attracting more readers.

Please note that I said IF you choose to participate.  In my  thoughtless enthusiasm over a previous award, I nominated someone who didn’t really want the extra attention and has subsequently deleted his blog.  It may be hubris on my part to think that the nomination provoked his disappearance, but it has saddened me greatly.  So…no pressure, nominees.  If you’re not comfortable answering the questions and/or spotlighting other bloggers and you’d prefer not to cut and paste the “bling”, no worries.  I think your blogs are awesome either way.  With that said, here are some bloggers that rock:

Abandoned Kansai

Inspirez

Urban Wall Art & Murals

conTIMplating

Humbled Pie

Little Mind Seeds

Peculiarities and Reticences

Here’s how this works:

Versatile Blogger Rules  (If you choose to obey them)

  • Display the Award Certificate on your website
  • Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award
  • Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers
  • Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post
  • Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

I cheated a little on the number of nominated bloggers.  I was also the recipient of The Liebster Award, so I had to keep some of my other favorite bloggers in reserve for that one.

So…seven things, eh?  And they have to be interesting?  Yeebees….

1.  I’m an aquaculturist (fancy name for fish farmer) with the goal of developing my farm into a successful agri-tourism destination.

2.  I participate in Bible study by phone once a week.

3.  I’m an Aquarius.

4.  Normal people scare me.

5.  Harley Davidsons make my heart go pitty-pat.

6.  One of my dearest friends is a seventh generation witch.

7.  Starting to blog again ranks as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

So there you have it, folks.  Stay tuned for more talented people in my next installment, “The Liebster Award”.  Thank goodness this can all be done while wearing sweats.  If these were red carpet events I’d have to get all gussied up in my Sunday-go-to-meeting overalls.

Hillbilly Zen – Ponies on the Patio

When I was a kid, I had an imaginary stable of horses in one of my Granny’s flowerbeds.  There were horses of every conceivable color and breed, their names changing each day with the winds that swept the hilltop of our old homeplace.  They were perfect, requiring no food or maintenance of any kind, always ready for any adventure that a solitary child with a vivid imagination could dream up.  All I had to do was pick one from the “stalls” lined up in the beautiful deep purple iris beds that lined the fence in front of the house, saddle up and we were off to the far reaches of the farm, as fast as my pudgy little legs would carry me.  Scraggly scrub cedars became a dark, forbidding forest.  The large pile of moss-covered limestone remnants from an old rock fence was the perfect spot to converse with faeries and elves.  I pretended that the barn was a haunted castle (complete with very real cows that would occasionally emerge from the shadows to scare the peewaddin out of me).

Now I’m on a farm that reminds me of the one I grew up on, and I have three real horses that require real food and maintenance.  Lots and lots of maintenance.  Iris blooms don’t keep them in their stalls these days, and patching the dilapidated fence around their pasture is often an adventure in itself.

One repair mission in particular produced a surprising result.  Luckily, most of my neighbors are truly good people who alert me when there’s been a breakout, and sometimes even help capture the varmints.  A friend’s son was on his way home and noticed a large hole in the fence, my three hay burners investigating the gap with obvious mischief in mind.  He alerted his mom, who in turn sounded the alarm to me.  So it was that at midnight on a 20-degree winter evening I found myself ankle-deep in snow with wire cutters in one numb hand and a stubborn strand of barbed wire in the other, seriously questioning the benefits of horse ownership.

Hooves and Hammers

The three potential miscreants observed attentively, crowding in way too close and completely ignoring my irritated attempts to shoo them away.  Irritated is a gross understatement, and the printable gist of my grumbling was a caveat to my “helpers” that if they got knocked in the nose by a hammer it was their own darn fault.

It wasn’t until my grumpy muttering finally subsided that I began to notice the frigid tranquility of the night.  In the ensuing silence hooves and boots squeaked in the snow, interspersed by the crack of hammer against fence post that echoed like gunshots across the frozen field.  As anger’s heat dissipated, I began to feel the warmth of their bodies as they surrounded me, and appreciate their steamy puffs of breath as they peered over my shoulders.  Squinted grouchy eyes widened to see the brilliance of a full moon sprinkling diamonds across the snowdrifts, rivaled only by the crystalline clarity of the stars.  I was entranced, lingering even after the last strand of barbed wire was in place, just being present in that moment, trying to absorb such wondrous surroundings.  After planting frosty goodnight kisses on three soft muzzles, I drove back up to the house, musing on what I’d have missed if I’d have continued to feed my initial anger.  It’s extraordinary what our Creator sends us when we open our hearts and minds, and shut our mouths.

Equine Therapy

As I write this, my three red-legged devils are roaming loose in the yard, having escaped their pasture yet again to take up temporary residence with the dogs and cats.  Between working full time in town and more pressing chores on the farm, there just hasn’t been time to remedy the situation.  Truth be told, I’m dragging my heels a bit because I’ve grown to like having them so close.  There’s just something about having a conversation with a horse through the back door that makes me smile.

Some of their antics are not so endearing, true, but I love them just the same.  I love the way they smell when they’ve been warming themselves in the sun, and the calmness that envelops me while combing burrs from their manes and tails.  They listen patiently without judging as I recount the day’s events, commenting only with soft nickers and gentle nudges.  They don’t understand a word I’m saying, of course, but that doesn’t matter in the least.  They respond simply to the love they feel in my touch and the tone of my voice.  They also respond to the peppermints they get as treats when they hold still while being groomed, but mostly to the love thing.  Really.  It’s the love.

Even the mounds of “horse apples” that dot the yard (and the driveway – and the patio – and on one unforgettable occasion one of the cats, but that’s another story) are somehow comforting. They remind me of where I came from and where I am now, of childhood dreams that have come true.  If I don’t watch where I step they’re also a fragrant, squishy reminder to fix that fence.

 

Horse

The Reality Blog Award – How Cool Is That!

I’d like to thank the Academy…oh, wait…wrong acceptance speech.  That’s the one I do in the bathroom mirror on the rare occasions I have a good hair day, which involves the obligatory hairbrush/microphone and bottle of Suave/Oscar. Ahem.

Seriously, I do want to thank  janna hill for this nomination.  It’s funny, I just read a comment from another blogger, nominated for a different award,  who has “so many awards” she doesn’t accept them anymore.  No chance of that with this little hillbilly.  To be recognized by one’s peers is an honor, no matter the frequency.  By the way, I’m changing that “Y” in Reality from “Yippee!” to “Yeehaw!”  Just sayin’.

There are logistics involved with this.  The deal is, when you’re nominated, you:

1.) Visit the blog of the person who nominated you, thank them, and acknowledge them on *your* blog.

2.) Answer the five questions listed below and nominate up to 20 bloggers whom you feel deserve recognition.  Visit their blog to let them know.

3.) Cut and paste the award to your wall.  Easy peasy.

So with that said, on with our regularly scheduled program….

If you could change one thing, what would you change?

You earthling’s Humankind’s seemingly constant inclination to fight about every little blessed thing.

If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

Fifteen.  That’s when I discovered boys.  If I’d left them alone like my Granny advised, I’d be Supreme Ruler of the Universe right now.

What one thing really scares you?

Driving on snow.  I live on a little country road that’s only marginally better than a cow path, and getting up and down these hills scares the peewaddin out of me.

What is one dream that you have not completed, and do you think you’ll be able to complete it?

To be Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and (see question #2) …no. ~sigh~

If you could be someone else for one day, who would it be?

Again, I refer you to question #2.  As Supreme Ruler of the Universe, I could summon all  the world leaders together in one big room, slap the snot out of them, tell them to get their act together and then make them by golly do it.

Okie dokie.  Now here’s the fun part – the bloggers that deserve all the love and recognition  they can get.  There’s prolly a bazillion more, but these are my personal favorites (not including  janna hill):

Thirsty Murphy

Masqua’s Art 

bussokuseki

lovinchelle

Masako and Spam Musubi

Wandering through Time and Place

Zen in the City

Mythic Bios

Undead Dad

hastywords

Jump for Joy Photo Project

Talinorfali

Now, all you freshly nominated folks – pay it forward!

Hillbilly Zen – Cold Comfort: The Solace of Solstice

solstice-sun-580x336The sun disappears much too early these days, as if chased over the horizon by the icy claws of winter.  The “bold, laughing light” (https://hillbillyzen.com/tao-happens/) that so entranced me in the summer is less boisterous, its warmth weak and fleeting, snatched away by frigid wind and carried to other environs.  There is a nameless dread that clutches me every evening as the daylight wanes, as chores are done earlier and more quickly to exploit the last bits of twilight.  Simply walking out the door is not an option, now there are strata of garb involved; long underwear, fleece, coveralls, a hat, a scarf, gloves.  Melancholy seems woven into the very fabric of each piece of clothing swaddled against my skin, binding body and soul.  With one final, despondent sigh, “Another winter” (followed by the quickly repressed “Another year older”) I step outside, head down, breaths shallow to avoid a lungful of frost.

And yet…

Today the sun will shine a bit longer.  Not much, just a few seconds, but longer, a promise made by the sunbeam that slants across the room this morning.  Sophie and Puh (dog and cat, respectively) jockey for position within the boundaries of its warmth, draped on the recliner in languorous appreciation.  I situate myself between them, ignoring the glare on the laptop screen (and the ones they give me for disturbing their nap) in order to share the balmy caress.  Outside, my mare Annie stretches out in the sunlight, extending arthritic old legs to soak up the radiant comfort.  To be sure, winter is far from over, in fact has barely begun.  There will be snow and ice and much more dismal donning of winter attire.  This day after solstice, however, I will nap in a sunbeam between a snoring dog and a purring cat.  I will bundle up without complaint and go outside to stroke the neck of a feisty old quarter horse, sharing her contentment as the sun warms our bones.  I will luxuriate in the primal knowledge that there is more sunlight yet to come, a little more each day.

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