March 31, 2011

Closing Buster's Book

I'll admit, I've been putting this off.
Somehow not thinking about it, and especially, not writing
about it, seems to make the whole thing not so true.

I've dreaded what this would be like for a long time.
I remember the day I first thought about it -
I was nine years old, and mom was reading Laura Ingalls'
stories to us, when she came to the one about her dog Jack.
About the morning when Laura found her faithful old
gray dog all curled up behind the door;
her sweet dog that had been through so much with his "family."
That morning Jack didn't wake up;
and I vividly remember getting all teary-eyed as she read.

Partly because I was pretty attached to Jack,
and partly because my vision went fast-forward to a day when
that sad young woman would be me.

Our Buster-boy had aged so much in this past year.
He finally stopped chasing cars,
his white whiskers multiplied,
and he completely lost his hearing.

This past month, we watched our old dog fade,
and on March 19, he fell asleep under his favorite tree,
and didn't wake up again.

After my cat Madeline died this past Summer,
Buster was our oldest pet, by far.
He had been here almost since day one on the farm.
He watched Joe and I grow up.

Joe and I with Madeline and Buster (the day he came home) 1997.

There isn't a story to tell or a memory to be had,
where Buster isn't right there in the background;
because he was here, and always had been.
Every picnic,
every walk to the creek,
hike through woods,
or journey to the very back of the property -
Buster was with us.

We couldn't imagine life without him,
and really didn't want to try.

This past week-and-a-half,
we've relived almost every moment with Buster.

The day he was the silly puppy that killed (and ate) a chicken...
and got himself in huge trouble with dad.
He was guilty about it for weeks;
and never even looked at a chicken after that.

There's another day, when that same goofy puppy actually made
his Border Collie genes work for him as he corraled and
saved a runaway goat kid (that we'd been chasing for three hours...)
What a hero he knew he was that day.

That was the only day Buster's Border Collie-ness did us any good.
Most of it went into rounding-up angry bicyclists...

We've remembered what a soccer-dog he used to be;
and how he had a way of running off with our basketballs
and never bringing them back.

This past year - as we watched him begin
to look so very old, I took photo after photo of him.
I found it humorous how few turned out.

Buster never liked having his picture taken. 

It's funny how that fits his personality though, even
though he couldn't really have a clue what cameras were about.
He was a shy old dog.

And Huck, poor Huck.
You've never seen two friends like Buster and Huck.
It will take us forever before we can say one name without
accidently slipping the other.
Buster and Huck.
That's just how it always was.
Huck has grieved more than any of us,
and that's a hard thing to watch. 

But despite all the dreading I did about these days -
these days of letting go of things I'd rather hang on to;
they're still beautiful in their own way.

Much as we now miss our sweet and faithful dog,
I hadn't realized how much we had forgotten him already.

Somewhere in the middle of looking into those faded eyes,
and stroking that salt and pepper head,
and telling him things that we knew he couldn't hear;
we had forgotten about the bright-eyed, happy, fun, bouncy-pup,
that we had known for so much longer.

And now that every moment with Buster has been had -
we can finally summarize the gift that he was,
and view the blessing of his life as a whole.

As the precious memories of all that is past come pouring back,
the old graying dog disappears, and we can now remember 
all the things about him that we loved best.
From beginning to end.

We're thankful to the Lord for thirteen-and-a-half years with Buster;
and a lifetime of never-to-be-forgotten memories.

March 30, 2011

Snow Babies...?

new life on the farm looked like this:

A little chilly, sure,
but the sun was shining.

new life on the farm looked like this:

(And they thought they were scheduled to be Spring lambs...)
(Um, yeah. Us too.)

I had marveled prematurely about my success in avoiding any 
snow lambing sessions this year...

Obviously, the ewes couldn't let me get away with that...
Congratulations ladies.
You nailed it.

And as to it snowing the last week in March...
I'm just going to stay inside now,
and pretend that none of it happened.

March 25, 2011

March Madness...

I've watched very few March basketball games thus far;
but I guess we can still say we've had our own share of madness...
There's a lot that needs to be caught up on around here;
I'll be getting to it all eventually - in the meantime,
here's a glimpse of my latest project.

Yep. I have 36 chickens; in my room.
Thankfully, they are confined to a rather large box.

They're happy little birds - and growing so fast.
I've been leaving classical music on during the night to see
what it does for their mental development... :)
(Just so you know, I'm not expecting much.)

Now, we're just looking forward to the return of Spring
so that they can move outdoors...

Poor Spence is going to miss them,
he would watch them through the side holes for hours...
I'm not exactly sure if it's just a general curiosity or something
 a little more malignant... 
We keep an eye on him just the same.

And that's update number one.
The other news hasn't been quite so fun;
and is much more difficult to write about -
it's coming soon though.

March 17, 2011

Virginia; at last.

Ever since I discovered that my furthest back "traceable" ancestors,
(who happen to be the ones whose last name I share)
once came from England and settled in a place called Virginia -
I've had a dogged determination to find my way there one day.
It irritated me greatly, that despite many visits to NC, and even WV,
I was yet without reason to cross that state line.

Until this past week...

A trek over to North Carolina on our way to the 
Family Economics Conference in Raleigh required a short drive
through the thus far elusive state;
and I couldn't have been happier over something so simplistic.

It rained and rained as we drove that day,
but I didn't think it ironic at all to see the clouds part -
and the sun glint off the car window rain droplets as the 
Virginia state sign came into view.

So fitting.
And so ridiculously dramatic...

To add to the mental commotion,
Virginia brought my list of visited States to 30;
and seeing as I have a childhood goal of making it to
all 50 of them before I'm that many years old -
I find being 10 years ahead of schedule as something to celebrate.
(Please don't laugh... Trust me, I do have bigger goals in life...)

And also seeing as Dad and I have had quite the debate
over what exactly constitutes having been in a State...
(all those pesky hours spent in airports that don't count...)
having a picture with a sign was very much necessary.
(Though he has conceded that touching the ground with
my feet is enough to make it official.)

My short little drive-by glimpse of the land of
my forefathers only left me more determined than ever
to go back again...

What a beautiful, beautiful place.

But hey, at least I can finally say I've been there.
And even Dad has to agree.

March 5, 2011


 It rained all day long;
and more rain is exactly what we don't seem to need...
It's on these cooped-up indoors days that I tend to get 
very retrospective - and going through some of my photos from our
family trip to Texas last week, I became even more so.

If you haven't noticed yet through reading my blog,
I absolutely love history, always have.
Especially the moments of great courage and bravery,
men willing to stand, and families willing to sacrifice.
An outlook that is needed so badly today;
more specifically in a spiritual sense.

So it was very special to get to go back to
the Alamo last week, especially in the middle of 
the 175th anniversary of the famous battle there.

We did the usual tour during the day, but then
were able to come back as dusk fell, for a special reenactment.
We definitely enjoyed seeing the characters in costume
and hearing the story told in such a dramatic way;
but my favorite part came afterwards.
The constant milling crowds were gone -
and it grew comparatively quiet.
It was easier to imagine the incessant cannon  fire,
 -one after another-
for almost two weeks straight.
(We were there on the anniversary of siege day three.)

We took the time to visualize the original boundaries of the 
fort, in an attempt to imagine how big it was -
how few the men were that defended it,
and how greatly out-numbered they found themselves.

As the sun rises tomorrow morning, it will be 175 years.

May we always remember the Alamo; and places like it.

March 2, 2011

latest painting...

It had been awhile since I've completed a painting;
a long while...

Since I'd never attempted a portrait of a dog before,
I thought it would be fun to photograph the stages.
Even if the photos didn't turn out all that well...
they give a good idea of how I layer paint. :)

And there she is - all finished. 
Though technically in my mind, nothing I paint is ever "finished"
there's always something else that could be done.
I like the Leonardo da Vinci quote:
"Art is never finished - only abandoned."
Or something like that...