The next chapter

October 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Posted in faith, family, inspiration, Life, love, women | 7 Comments
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NOTE TO MY READERS: I have started a new blog, marking the next chapter in my life and on the farm. As of October 27, 2012 you may find my new posts at Live From The Oak . This blog (I Live on a Farm), all of the archives, etc. will remain in place as well. But, it is time for me to move on to the next part of my story. Please, join me…

You know him as Balladeer

August 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Posted in faith, family, inspiration, Life, love | 29 Comments
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As my regular readers know, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer many years ago. Together he and my mother kept him healthy and vital in spite of that illness for quite a long time. I posted a request for prayers back in late spring, and we received so many wonderful prayers and kind thoughts from you all. It meant quite a lot to me, and also to my family.

Dad’s physical condition began deteriorating several months ago, very noticeably and I knew what that meant though I never wanted to say it out loud, or even think it when I was speaking with him. We had news from his doctor back at the end of May that pointed even more to knowing that he did not have time. Remarkably, despite all of the evidence to the contrary my father continued to live with the outlook of a man who was getting well and would be well. He focused on living, and refused to grant credence to being someone who was dying.

Oh, Dad. My dear, sweet Dad.

A little over a week ago Mom took him to the doctor, and unfortunately the doctor had news to give him that he might only have one or two months left. He accepted that news, and then we all knew.

Last Friday his in-home hospice nurse told my brother that he, my sister and I should get to Denver as quickly as possible. I arrived a little past midnight that evening, my brother and sister arrived the next morning. Together the three of us and my mother cared for Dad with love, care, compassion … everything we had to give him during the last hours of his life.

Sunday evening he passed, with all four of us with him surrounding him with love.

Oh Dad, my sweet, sweet Dad.

We are giving him a memorial service Friday evening; my brother and sister and I are doing the entire service ourselves and so we are here with Mom taking care of her, helping her, and working together to create a memorial service befitting a great man who we all loved and treasured so very much.

I wrote a tribute for him, and I would like to share some of it here with you because so many of you have shared prayers and concerns for our family. If you ever noticed a reader nicknamed “Balladeer” who left comments on my blogs, that was my Dad. It seemed he could never express his love and admiration for my work, my creativity, and accomplishments enough. He told me a whole back that when he wrote his praises, he tried to write them with a sense of poetry and he did. I used to receive these wonderful expressive emails from him every time I posted a blog, stating how much he loved and admired the posts and the photographs. I have every one of those emails and will cherish them always.

His focus was on living, never on dying. So, I want to share these thoughts with you on his life as I saw him … Dad, through my eyes.

To most people who knew him, Dad became first and foremost, friend. His friendly attitude came from a place of love and caring about his fellow man.  He cared more than most people I know about the condition of mankind and he dedicated much of his life to trying to do something about it.

More than anything else in life, my father wanted to help. Whether by ministering to those in need, helping his children through problems in life, writing stories and poems, or dreaming up an invention for a device to resolve the gas problem: help was his main concern. And his desire to help came from his extraordinary capacity to love.

His children and grandchildren were his pride and joy. When any one of us needed help of any kind, Dad could not get to the front of the line fast enough to offer whatever he had or could otherwise offer.

He worried about and tried to help me with my life to the point of annoyance at times, but luckily for me I did realize quite a number of years ago there would be a day when those things that annoyed me then would be sorely missed, and so I learned to embrace instead of resist his endeavors.

Over the course of his life he  worked as a minister, both officially and as a layman … always because of that sincere desire to help others.

Dad wrote a screenplay, many poems, and various short stories all with the goal in mind of communicating hope and pointing the way toward philosophical truths … born of his wish to help.

He had many, many dreams, some of them quite large and fantastic. His dreams, without fail, had to do somehow with bringing benefit to as many people as possible. Not many people are brave enough to dream as big as my Dad could dream.  He was very open with others about those dreams and pursued them steadfastly, sometimes at great personal sacrifice.

His tenacity in pursuing his dreams against any and all odds, undaunted by barriers that would have caused others to turn back, was very admirable.  And his sincere desire to help was the wellspring feeding that tenacity.

Over the course of his life Dad gathered many, many friends.  He and Mom were beloved by an ever widening circle of friends, they made them every place they went.  He always took time to speak to people in all walks of life, telling his stories, sharing his smile, and demonstrating to others they were important to him.

The other day Mom and I were making our way through the grocery store, and it seemed every employee we came across knew Dad and Mom personally. Mom shared the news of Dad’s passing and each person had a story of how Dad’s love and kindness had affected them and what a good man they knew him to be because of the friendship and care he had extended their way.

As they shared these stories, I realized something important about both of my parents: they had a way of turning any place they went into a small town.

We were close since I was a small child, and for me, he was my lifelong best friend.

Dad, thank you for all of the help and guidance you gave me, even if at times I was too hard headed or foolish to accept it.

Thank you also for the unconditional, boundless love you took every opportunity to express and demonstrate.   No one loved us each quite as you did.  I am going to miss your smile, your phone calls, your hugs and most of all … I’m going to miss my friend.

I want to end this post with a poem he wrote; I know he would want me to share this poem with my readers. Please, some time buy a copy of his poetry book (“I, The Wind” — there is a link somewhere on the right hand side of the page).

I don’t say that because I want to sell books, I say it because his poetry is quite fine and is always of a spiritual nature. I promised him a little while before he passed that I would do all I can to make his writing known and make sure people get his poems and read them. They are eBooks and Kindle books so they don’t cost much. I also can’t give the books away, because I promised him I would make sure to generate supplemental income for my mother from royalties on his book sales. Please, do understand I primarily want people to have an opportunity to receive the help and the love he meant to come your way.

And, by the way, I have used photographs to illustrate this blog that I shot on the farm on glorious, windy autumn morning. The sun had just risen and golden morning light was being captured by every tree in the land, reflected back to the world in beautiful glowing golden flowing light. Dad loved the photography from that morning (of course he loved any and all photography of our farm) and I thought it would be perfect to use those photos for you today.

Here is his poem, “I, The Wind”:

I, The Wind

Sand dunes and valleys
Shores of the sea,
Mountains and rivers,
Snow covered peaks,
Far as eyes see…
All some part of me.

For I am the wind…
I cover all space…
On without limits I go,
For me there’s no end…
Of beginnings, no trace.
I, the wind, know it’s so.

Once when a body;
Couldn’t be free.
Knew death would come soon…
no trace of me.
So it is gone now,
I am more free.

For I am the wind…
I cover all space…
On without limits I go.
For me there’s no end…
Of beginnings, no trace.
I, the wind, know it’s so.

~ Herbert S.
(aka pen name Albert Zudfin)

Knitting, and painting, and writing …

June 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Posted in art, country life, faith, family, gardening, gifts, health, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, summer, travel, women | 9 Comments
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Good morning … I hope you are having an enjoyable summer so far.

I give mine mixed reviews.

I spent the first part of June in Denver visiting with my parents, which was wonderful of course but not without some bittersweet feelings as well. I love living here on the farm in New York, an I would not trade my life here with my dear husband for anything. We enjoyed our sixth wedding anniversary this past April and continue to feel amazed and blessed that our 3-month online courtship and subsequent marriage worked out so very, very well.

It is, however, not fun at all to be 1,500 miles away from my parents. They have always been two of my very best, dearest friends as well as parents who I cherish, respect, and love. I wish circumstances were such that we could all live close together so that I could help them more. Dad continues to give prostate cancer a run for its money, and Mom does an incredible job taking care of him through that battle. When we all lived in California, very close to each other, my kids and I were on hand to help them if needed … and of course during all of the years when I was raising my kids my parents were very nearby and always on hand to lend a hand, a hug, or a listen whenever it was needed by us.

We have a dream that by some miracle the universe aligns and Dad and Mom are able to come and live here with us. Miracles can happen, and we will continue to pose that dream to the universe and see what we along with the universe can make happen.

Meanwhile, there is love and there is a wealth of technology for staying in touch at least.

I came back from Denver with bronchitis and then had the fun of that segueing to a sinus infection back in New York. I am much better now, but much of June was devoted to the trip and the recovery.

I did manage to take a brief little vacation, right in our own backyard, with my husband last weekend. I shot a number of photos during the vacation using the Instagram app on my Android phone and shared those on Facebook and Twitter. That little app is so amazing, and quite fun to use. I am planning on creating an Instagram chronicle over the course of this summer as a photo journal of a summer living in vacation.

Every year I am stunned all over again at the complete, innocent and rustic beauty of this place and the environment around it.

Creatively, I am enjoying a very productive time these days. I created two small oil paintings while on the mini-vacation, am almost complete with my watercolor of the swans, and have started writing my first novel. I am determined to write at least 500 words each day for the next several months until my first novel is complete. I realize 500 words per day is a tiny little writing target, but making sure I do at least that much work on the novel will ensure I do produce a full-length book over the next year. I have also been knitting: I completed a Biscuit Blanket as a mystery gift to someone I have not met as of yet, am making another attempt at a summertime blanket for myself, and am working on a new design for something I am calling a Friendship Square … more on that later.

Oh, yes … I also managed to make a triple batch of strawberry-rhubarb-cranberry preserves that resulted in a 26 jars of some very delicious jam. The strawberries and rhubarb were locally grown, and the cranberries were from a stock of frozen cranberries I always have on hand. Oops, I just remembered another thing … my husband and I got this year’s Sincere Pumpkin patch going.

I also have been creating some new art prints for knitters … I posted two of my new designs this morning in my Etsy store. They are philosophical, and slightly humorous. I hope you will enjoy at least taking a look at them and enjoying the sentiment as well as the pretty colors I am using.

That is about it for me for now. I want to work on some more paintings today, because I have the August Art Trail to prepare for and a beautiful day to thoroughly enjoy.

Warmest wishes to you and yours.


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