Crowz Nest

Because it's time... as it was once before.

My Photo
Location: Port Murray, NJ

I'm a bit old to be starting out in life again, but that's where I am. Sadly. Or gladly. It's where I am. Come along. Watch the fun. Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Of flowers and pigs

Last week, it was my birthday. I got flowers from my brother, Mark, and his wife, Joannie. And from my sweet friend, Stephanie, who shares my birthday, and always sends me something to make my day special. We never made a big thing about birthdays when I was growing up, but you'd think I could at least remember that my own is coming, and that it's Steph's birthday, too. But every year, she surprises me by remembering our day, and every year, I'm a dolt, and forget it's coming. So, right now, I've got flowers everywhere but in my hair (with apologies to the Cowslips.)

Here are the flowers inside.

And another view.

And yet another.

Yup. Before we even get out the door to my garden, it's a veritable riot of flowers.

The nice thing about having a birthday in May is that even if no one were to send you flowers, you've got flowers. As I was surveying my garden this evening to see what yet has to be done (a LOT of weeding yet to go, mulch not yet down, edging, annuals, etc., etc.) it had just rained lightly, and everything looked so beautiful. I am continually surprised and delighted by my garden.

Irises are among my favorite flowers. They looked so pretty covered with rain drops as the sun came out again.

They make such a dramatic statement, don't they?

This year, these little white star flowers have come up in the most amazingly perfect places, kneeling around the bases of stumps, peeking through other ground cover, and popping out among the hostas.

I don't know if they were intentionally planted, or if they are wildflowers. I didn't get here until August in 2005, but I didn't see these little flowers last year or the year before. They're just here this year, little white stealth stars. I like them. Maybe I ought to buy myself a field guide to wildflowers, eh?

And ye, verily, on the seed packet it said that in the third year, the clematis would learn to climb, and fulfill your expectations. Three years ago, I planted these from seed. The first year, I thought they'd died. The second year, I was thrilled to see them come back, and over the moon when they each put out a couple of blossoms. And now, in their third year, behold the promise!

Aren't they pretty? And doesn't the arbor gate need a coat of paint? I hear ya. I'll get to it, but now it's got to wait till fall.

And because every garden needs a pig, my friend Cindy (Hi, Cin! The least you can do is comment now that I've mentioned you!) bought me this little guy at a barn sale at which we'd stopped a couple of Saturdays ago. He's very cute, and has a charming little curly tail. He's proven to be the perfect companion for my little metal garden crow. (And just look at that creeping sedum creep, would you?)

Two of my teachers

Two of my dearest teachers are getting older. Both of them are models of grace and dignity as they navigate the later years of their lives. Both of them just continue to live, to do, to learn, and, for me, they continue to teach. Neither of them live with me. I've been fortunate to have them move into my life through the random bisection of my life with others' lives.

This is Grandma Otter. You've met her here before, and you know I think she is a grand old lady. She was, as a youngster, a uniquely funny, charming, and appealing girl. She retains those traits in her older years. Through Otter, I have Crow and Hudson in my life, two of her children, and they are the richest and most rewarding piece of my life. But Otter has given me so much more than this. The greatest lesson Otter has taught me is that if you stand with open heart and open hands, and wait, sometimes someone wonderful sees you and cares enough to place their heart and their hand in yours, freely and unexpectedly. It has been an important and humbling lesson. I hold Otter's friendship and love as one of the greatest gifts in my life.

This is Sid. Sid recently had extensive surgery. I had worked with her owner, Jane, just prior to the procedure, holding open a window through which Jane could see past her worry and her concern what it was that Sid wanted and needed. I anxiously awaited word to see if Sid had fared well in the surgery, and was relieved to learn she had. Later that week, I attended a seminar and learned that Sid was likely to be there with Jane. When I met Jane, though, Sid had been left home because Jane was concerned that she, one of the primary players in the seminar, would be unable to properly tend to Sid's needs, and that the day would be too tiring for Sid. I said I'd be happy to tend to Sid, and the next day, I looked for Jane as soon as I arrived, eager to meet Sid in person. When Jane placed Sid into my hands, tiny, tired, impossibly frail following the surgery, I realized how much faith and trust Jane was placing in me. She was placing her precious friend into my care.

Sid and I spent the next two days together. The first day, we were getting to know each other, but slowly, as the hours passed, I could feel Sid relaxing. Finally, she voluntarily crawled under my shirt, and placing her incised belly up against mine, I felt her give over her trust completely as she fell soundly asleep. I held her gently, and concentrated on giving her as much energy as she would take from me. The most amazing thing was the moment when I could feel her begin taking it. By the end of the weekend, I had lost my heart completely to Sid, who taught me, in less than 2 days, how much you receive when freely giving. I'm told that Sid benefitted greatly from our time together. I'm glad for that. I just wish there were some way to express the scope of what Sid did for me.

These are two of the many animals who have graced my life with their wisdom. These are two of the teachers for whom I am so grateful. These are two animals who have spent their lives with other people, who love and are devoted to others, but who have freely and openly let me into their hearts. I am thankful.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Always pay attention to the strange light...

I got up early yesterday and got an early start on the (piles off) laundry, made myself a weekend breakfast, and went out back with the dogs to admire the yard work I'd done on Saturday (and well, yeah, ok - for pooper scooper duty.) It started out as a glorious morning, with bright sunlight, blue, cloudless sky, and cool temperatures. By 9:00, it was becoming a little overcast, and an e-mail from a local friend saying that she was about to go walk her dogs before it rained prompted me to do the same.

When I got back, I put the dogs out back, grabbed my garden gloves, the shovel, the bag of potting soil, and the bag of peat moss, and headed out front to plant the plants I'd bought at Wellsweep on Saturday. I got a small flat of basil, a lupine of some sort, some cat mint, and a silver edged lavender. I planted them along the front path, where I hope their fragrance will welcome me every time I come home. By the time I was done, the rain had started softly pattering down. Perfect. I told myself I'd get out the watering can later if there wasn't enough rain for the new plantings, but that turned out to be unnecessary. A soft, steady rain fell the rest of the day.

I should have gone to see my mother, which is what I do every Sunday afternoon, but after I'd showered and had lunch, I decided to lie down for a little while. You probably know how that went. I woke up 2 hours later, and the headache and accompanying grogginess convinced me to give myself a week off from visiting my mom. Sadly, she'd not know if I were there or not.

So, I spent a grey, dark day inside, puttering around the house - cleaning bird cages, rearranging my closet, dusting, putting things away. There was even time to finish reading the book at hand, and adding a few rows to a pair of socks I was knitting.

After having fed the dogs their evening meal and fixing myself a real dinner (for a change,) I sat down with my lap top, waiting for game 2 of the subway series to start at 8:00. At about 7:45, I got up to take the dogs out and settle them before the game started. An odd quality to the light had been nibbling around the edges of my attention for a little while, but it wasn't until I was out with the dogs that I looked up to see why.Out front... see the second one on the outside?

And out back.

It was worth watching it fade away and I didn't even miss the first pitch.

Friday, May 16, 2008


I told you I had tons of catch up to do. In keeping with the post about Crow and Hudson's glorious half-sister, Raven, here's a post about generations. I visited Hawk's Hunt earlier this month. Rain, who is the daughter of Crow's litter sister, Bee, has a lovely litter of 7 (or 8, if you count Izip, one puppy with two names, depending on which way you looked at him.)

So, poor me. I spent the weekend with 7 four week old puppies (little APEs, actually, as they were extraordinarily ADVANCED, PRECOCIOUS, EXCELLENT puppies) crawling all over me. Time spent with Suzanne (who cooked a fabulous dinner, worthy of a five star restaurant!) and John is always time I look forward to. And all my wonderful GSD friends - four generations, all wonderful individuals, and all reminders and reflections of those who went before - Chili and Banni, Vali and Carson - fill me up. Visiting the barn animals, and just the farm itself, all adds up, and I was in heaven. A trip to the farm recharges me as little else does.

Perhaps the most sublime and joyful moment for me was the sweet greeting I got from Otter. Great grandmother to the pups, mother to Raven, Crow, Hudson, Bee, Grizzly, Panda, and many other extraordinary souls, Otter has always been a favorite of mine. At 13, she is in wonderful shape. Though her hearing may not be what it was, and she may have lost a step or two off her pace, she is still sound and fully aware. It took her all of half a minute to recognize me when I stepped into the entry hall, and as I put my bag down, she laid her head against my thigh and pressed into me. From Otter, I accept this as high praise indeed. The dear, old soul brings tears to my eyes.

And she is still a grand baby-sitter, and extraordinary teacher for each generation as it comes along. I love you, Otter, old friend, as much as I love your kids, who give every day of my life meaning and focus.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Raven Lunatic

Crow's sad little secret is that she lives with a human who has allowed her to be an underachiever. Now, Crow doesn't complain about this at all, mind you, but the sad fact is that to her name she has only a couple of ribbons, and those were won back in our 4H days. She has a CGC, handled to it by one of the 4H kids. And a blue ribbon for graduating, again handled by a 4H'er, at the head of her class. But have I done anything with her? Nope. I've allowed her to be a yard-guard, and a gardening assistant. I've allowed her to play on agility equipment, and I've thrown tennis balls with a Chuck-It about 3/4ths of a football field (but her daddy, when she had one, could throw it even further than that.) And I've watched her blazing speed as she's torn after it and caught it before it hit the ground. But that's about it.

Now, this wouldn't matter, except that her half-sister Raven (who looks a tad like her, don't you think?) is an inveterate overachiever.

Here is Ravens current list of titles - for at least the next two weeks
anyway (because if her owner, Tammi, has her way, they will add at least one more:)Hawks Hunt's Raven Lunatic, aka Raven CGC, HIC, RN, CL3-R, CL3-F, TN-N, O-NAC, O-NGC, NJC, TG-N, SR, SS, SSA, AD, MX, MXJ, PS3, PJ3, PG2, PK3, PD3 ~USDAA Performance Top Ten 2006~

Impressed? Here are a couple of shots of the beautiful, blazing, Raven in action.

I think she's beautiful (and not just because she looks so much like Crow, but boy, doesn't she ever?)

Raven has a younger brother, who, oddly, looks an awful lot like Hudson. Gryffin was in the litter of 12 puppies who were at the farm last year when I farm sat, so I got to know him (he was "Mac" then) fairly well. We'll have to get a recent photograph of Gryffin.

While I don't know Raven and Gryffin now as adults, I do know this family of dogs, and I am in awe of what Tammi has accomplished. Hard work, dedication, incredible teamwork, and a whole lot of love go into achievements of this sort. Way to go, guys. We're so proud of you!

Raven with her proud human, Tammi.

Oh, and Raven? Crow says she loves your attitude! Yes, they can all kiss your butt!!

With thanks to Tammi Potts for sharing Raven's journey in stories and pictures all along the way.
Raven is from the Feb 2, 2001 litter out of Otter by Cim vom Gotzweiher.

A ton of catch up ...

that will still have to wait ... there have been seminars, weddings, trips to the farm, all of which I need to catch up with. But since I'm busy, I'll just hold the spot with these more recent photographs of Crow and Hudson.

First, in honor of Crow's first decade (she will, of course, have many more) here is a recent picture of her to show what she really looks like at 10 years of age.

Second, a shot of my big goober boy, Hudson, who has achieved a modicum of dignity, accidentally, I'm sure, as he nears his 8th birthday.

And lastly, as a place holder, my beautiful niece, Alison, and her new husband, Matthew.

I'll be back with more!