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For those of you who haven’t met him, this is Mr. Man. He is my constant companion in what we call the “North House” aka, the Bungalow, and keeps me feeling well-loved and snuggled when MKL is in the “South House”. Some people say he has a big nose, but I think it’s beautiful. As a Maine Coon, which people say is “the dog of cats”, he is a vocal fellow. If he loves you, he will give you headbutts – after smelling your forehead to be sure no imposter is disguising herself as his Mom. Mr. Man, also known as Mr. Boo, has only had one other owner besides me in his whole life. I adopted him when he was 13 as a birthday present to myself three years ago. Yes, he’s 16 now, and has had a few problems with pancreatitis, from which he almost died two years ago. That experience – my helping him get better – was a turning point in our relationship. He finally came to trust me, eight months after I’d adopted him. Now, I don’t think we can imagine our lives without each other, though having had cats before (my first one lived to 20), I know that one day, I will have to do so.  But I hope that’s a long time off.

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Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” — Terry Pratchett

Daily gratitudes:
A successful chainsaw massacre with no loss of limb
An old favorite movie
MKL
Strong arms
True love

 

Living in a hole on the seaside edge of the rock wall of out little patio was this lovely iguana that I named Pancho Villa Sue. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Sometimes animals just tell me their names. She hung out on the wall, in the sun, around the grounds, by the pool, and according to another guest, could be handfed if done carefully. I’ve made iguana friends before in Little Cayman, and have petted and fed them, so I didn’t need to do that, but Pancho Villa Sue seemed to like me, and hung out with me quite a bit, occasionally doing her little head bops. She, along with MKL, were all the companions I needed.

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Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “Mexico admits you through an arched stone orifice into the tree-filled courtyard of its heart, where a dog pisses against a wall and a waiter hustles through a curtain of jasmine to bring a bowl of tortilla soup, steaming with cilantro and lime. Cats stalk lizards among the clay pots around the fountain, doves settle into the flowering vines and coo their prayers, thankful for the existence of lizards. The potted plants silently exhale, outgrowing their clay pots.” — Barbara Kingsolver

Daily gratitudes:
Green things sprouting in the backyard
Lovely nights
Healthy cooking
Dancing with MKL
My cuddly cat

As we shift from beaches to barnyards, I’ll be sharing some images from the 110th National Western Stock Show in Denver. MKL was a wonderful substitute for Kelsea who, as I’m sure I’ve said about twenty times, missed the Stock Show for the first time in 19 years. She was six weeks old at the time of her first visit. MKL and I went twice this year, which was YAY for me, since I could go every day. It has always been a dream of mine to work for the NWSS. There’s some farm girl deep inside of me that just feels so at home among the livestock. I’ve always felt this way, but have never acted on it. At this stage of our life together, I don’t think it’s a good fit either. But I have the Stock Show every year, and the only thing MKL wouldn’t (most wisely) do, which Kelsea and I would have done is put a bid in on a cow in the Beef Palace. Just a small $100 bid, one on which we would have been immediately outbid. Or else we’d have a cow in the front yard now. Anyway, as I say, MKL is wise. Though he did look the part of a wealthy rancher on both visits.

We saw two rodeos one of which included mutton bustin’ and some really rank bulls, had a meet-and-greet with llamas and alpacas, saw Highland cattle, angus bulls, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, geese, ducks, peacocks, buffalo, and Longhorns. I petted a yak. We had a beer at the Yard Bar. I got manure on my boots. We ate corn dogs and MKL had a deep-fried Twinkie. And I was as happy as …. well, as happy as could be.

Do you remember fairy tales of the poor farm girl swept up in some whirlwind romance and whisked off to the city to lead a life of luxury? Why does no one ever sweep the busy city girl of to a farm?

A Sheepish SmileDenver, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Love grows wherever you plant it, so I try to farm it wherever I go.” — Jarod Kintz

Daily gratitudes:
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos
Lap cats
Artichokes
Love
My girls

 

I bought our Christmas tree last night. I love Christmas, and always want to do everything early, like decorate the house, but somehow I don’t ever get around to it until ‘late’. The tree selection was getting quite thin at my preferred farm, but I found a lovely Fraser fir. Its very top branches twist together like a graceful ballerina’s arms. It took us three tries to get it in the stand, with my sawing off nubbins and bottom branches in between efforts. I’m very proud that I didn’t saw into one of my arms or legs though, and consider that my most significant accomplishment of this holiday season. And the tree is indeed up, though I’m giving it until tomorrow night or Saturday to relax and let down its hair (or branches) a bit before we take to ornamenting it.

The tree lot is next to a working farm, and at the edge of the fence, I found Pony and Farm Beast in a stand-off.

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Boulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season – like all the other seasons – is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them, and that’s the end of this particular story.” — Lemony Snicket

Daily gratitudes:
My Santa Hat
Joy
Knee-deep snow
That depression has taken a seat in the shadows today
Birds on a wire

 

Cows seem to come in fifty shades of brown, or at least that’s how it appeared on this particular driving day. I do love cows, but as you may have gathered, I love all animals. In my shamanic work, I don’t have just one spirit animal, I have an entire menagerie, as confirmed by other shamans with whom I’ve worked. This posse has helped me in my ability to help animals, to do some healing, to figure out what’s wrong with them. It’s a small gift, but a precious one. That level of empathy for animals makes it impossible to see news stories on animal cruelty, and any time an animal is introduced in a film or a book, I have a faint frisson of dread at the prospect of its fate. It also makes me think long and hard about my current carnivorous habits, but I’m not ready to flip that switch (again) yet. I do MOO at cows as a courtesy when passing, and have been known to pause in my travels to serenade them.

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Weld County, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Cease, cows, life is short.” — Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Daily gratitudes:
Prairie dogs
Mad Men
My soup
Loving someone enough to miss them so much
Mr. Man starting to think inside the box again

Yes, for you, sweetie. Antelopes are my spirit animal, and I see them solo in the wilderness more often than I see them in herds, which is unusual. Perhaps somehow they all know that they are my spirit animal. When I take shamanic journeys, my antelope is always there to greet me when I reach the lower world, with the daisy chain I set around her neck when first we met.

A Flower for me
Weld County, Colorado.

Perhaps this sounds a bit wacky to those of you who don’t know that I am a shaman-in-training, a training that indeed takes a lifetime. And surprisingly, I do not find it inconsistent with my evolving spiritual feelings that fall a bit more into the mainstream. I have been thrilled by Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. I’m not Catholic, but I don’t think anyone needs to be Catholic to find this man inspirational. It is refreshing to find a religious leader who is humble, accepting, and who has clearly spent time in prayer and contemplation to examine and evolve his beliefs to a point that he feels is more Christ-like.

I rarely speak of religion here, just as a rarely speak of politics, but I suspect that, as I feel my own life opening up and new possibilities coming to the surface, that I will be speaking of these more controversial topics more often. I want others to hear my voice, as well as see the world through my eyes. This blog is dedicated to beauty and gratitude, and that will never change, but it is also dedicated to finding the right words, and I am feeling called to do just that. We’ll see if that actually happens.

Quote of the day: “Become who you say you always will. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Start the revolution. Become a freedom fighter. Become a superhero. Just because everyone doesn’t know your name doesn’t mean you dont matter.” — Brian Krans

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
Talking with Lisa
Letters – actual paper letters
The giant baseball in the back of the pickup truck at Coors Field
The giant inflatable hand holding the giant inhaler on Wynkoop Street

My Mother always loved it when the pelicans flew over the porch. It happened seldom when we were little, and more and more often before her passing. Now it is a frequent occurrence, as if they have finally established a new flight pattern. I wonder what changes in the environment drew them in such numbers? I can see them sometimes skimming just over the edge of the sea. Always in formation, they have an interesting wing pattern, as if the leader starts the current with his flapping, then those in line behind each flap until he or she picks up the air current of the first party, and so on down the line, until they are gliding on the squadron’s momentum. Every so often, there will be a straggler or two, or perhaps they are rogues, trying to establish their own crew. They fly south. Then half an hour or so later, they return north. The pattern repeats, often, throughout the day. My Mother would have been delighted.

Sqaudron
Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the Day: “Well, if she doesn’t like pelicans she must be very disagreeable.”  —  Tess Oliver

Daily gratitudes:
Outfitting Kelsea for college
The lovely feel of the air today
Pockets of rain
Kelsea’s excellent tree trimming
Getting all my wedding pictures from my good-sister

Since I started the swimming pig ball rolling, I figured I’d just let it roll with some more shots of these cuties. My feet will be in the sand in about four days (North Carolina sand, not Bahamian sand) and I can’t wait. It has been over eight months since I’ve been on a beach (seeing one from an Oregon scenic overlook doesn’t quite count) and that’s way too long for me!

A Passel of Pigs
Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “To the stars, on the wings of a pig.” — John Steinbeck

Daily gratitudes:
My orange shoes
That when I don’t burn things, I can make a darn good quick dinner
Dozing on the bus
Laughter
Masterpiece Theatre

On our last trip to Exuma, we crossed something off of my Bucket List – swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas. Our private captain took us to a Secret Pig Island (not the ones that most of the tour boats go to), and the little porkers swam right out to greet us, knowing that we’d have something fun for them to eat. It was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience (though I said that about my first trip to the Caribbean as well, and look how that turned out), but I was soooo happy to pet and paddle and share some splash time with these beasties. And they seemed pretty darn happy too.

Swimming with the Pigs
Somewhere off Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “I really do believe that all of you are at the beginning of a wonderful journey.As you start traveling down that road of life, remember this: There are never enough comfort stops. The places you’re going to are never on the map. And once you get that map out, you won’t be able to re-fold it no matter how smart you are.
So forget the map, roll down the windows, and whenever you can, pull over and have picnic with a pig. And if you can help it never fly as cargo.” — Jim Henson

Daily gratitudes:
Wedding dress shopping for Niece 1
Time with my sister
Finalizing my wedding hairstyle (courtesy of Niece 1)
Hawks on telephone poles
GPS assistance when needed

Yes, it is indeed where the deer and the antelope play. We saw a lot of antelope on our long drive on Sunday, some of who kindly posed for us. Most would bound away when we stopped the truck, retreating to a safe distance, and then inch their way back to us as we took pictures, as curious about us as we were about them. We saw pairs and herds and babies and they were all adorable. It was especially nice for me, as the antelope is my constant spirit animal in my shamanic practice.

Antelope 1
Pawnee National Grasslands, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Beauty, the world seemed to say. And as if to prove it (scientifically) wherever he looked at the houses, at the railings, at the antelopes stretching over the palings, beauty sprang instantly. To watch a leaf quivering in the rush of air was an exquisite joy. Up in the sky swallows swooping, swerving, flinging themselves in and out, round and round, yet always with perfect control as if elastics held them; and the flies rising and falling; and the sun spotting now this leaf, now that, in mockery, dazzling it with soft gold in pure good temper; and now again some chime (it might be a motor horn) tinkling divinely on the grass stalks—all of this, calm and reasonable as it was, made out of ordinary things as it was, was the truth now; beauty, that was the truth now. Beauty was everywhere.” — Virginia Woolf

Daily gratitudes:
How antelope rhymes with cantaloupe
That Season 2 of The Paradise arrived just as I finished Season 1
Fishtail skirts
MKL’s hands
Soft air

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