Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Herding Cats

This is what you get when you pile all of your kinds into the truck, get to the Christmas tree place, and plead and beg them to just stand still and smile. All I wanted was that one photo of my kids--you know the one, where the edges are a little blurry, they're all smiling their best smile, and you are able to have a tangible precious memento that your kids could indeed get along and smile ... sigh.

And that's precisely what happened. Almost. Not really. Not even close.

We all piled into the truck heading towards the place where we bought our tree last year. (We've tried the potted live trees for years but were having a less than 30% survival rate in the yard, so we opted for the dead kind.) Joy and excitement were high: we all told stories of past trips for trees, past Christmases, past wishes... then we passed where the tree lot USED to be. That dampered our enthusiasm, but only a little. Surely, we all agreed, there will be another lot up the road. Further. A little further up the road... NOT!!

Eventually we found a lot with trees, 30 minutes of tortuous driving later. Seemed like days. Weeks. Almost a month. Because what becomes of a 5 person family when they're cooped up in a king cab Dodge Ram... and everyone's bubble is the size of a mansion... ok, maybe it was just my bubble... but still...

The lot had exactly 7 trees left, one of which I immediately saw was my dream tree. I pointed it out and gathered the kids together for a photo. I wanted one last year but the holiday spirit neglected to follow us to the tree lot and lots of elbows, name calling, and whining came with us instead, so a decent photo was out of the question. (I did get a rather nice shot of the tree lot people's golden retriever and a red tail hawk that circled above.)

I begged, I pleaded, and told Lillie no bunny ears several times and asked Niles for a nice smile, and Forrest, really....

Eventually, I got one. Just one. But that's all I needed, wanted, wished for.

Thanks Santa.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Daddy

I've begun and erased this entry a thousands times. Every time I've started, it's snaked along different paths of memories and the glossing over of years. Which, in the big picture, seems like an injustice. Frustrating but it's also allowed me to focus about what I want to write.

Daddy has cancer. Stage 4 metastatic squamous cell carcinoma. I was devastated when he first told me that he had Cancer. After all, he'd kept it all to himself until his initial diagnosis. He'd been in the hospital with pneumonia in May and a lymph node on his collar bone swelled. His doctor waited until he was well to see if it would go back to normal. When it didn't, she took a biopsy.

Now his days are filled with finding the energy to fight this evil that has invaded his body, without his permission. And it's brought into focus exactly how he wants the rest of his life to go, however long that may be. He has sold his goats, his cattle and his used car business. He's put all of his financials in order and has shown my sister and I where all of his important papers are. There is a good chance he will beat this but I think in the initial stages of any terminal illness, one tends to overreact.

In the last few months my mind has gone over and held on to 46 years of memories with my dad. I vacillate between smiles and tears. Smiles because we always seem to hold on to the happy memories in crisis situations, and tears because it's not fair when circumstances dictate that you do so.

Daddy's thick hair is gone and just a few stragglers remain. We've always joked about his hair--he takes such good care of it, making sure it's styled just so and if it gets mussed, it's quickly fixed. He's having a hard time with this. He knows it's part of the treatment and that it will return when he's finished with his treatments, but that's no consolation right now.

It's a hard adjustment to see my dad change through this disease. I find myself transitioning from an adult child to a (part time) caregiver (and full time worrier), something I never thought would happen.

Another phase of life. We'll do this together. With my dog, Sandy, too

Friday, December 04, 2009

HEY!!! What have YOU been doing?!!

Juvy squirrels never end with their surprised/unsure expressions when I photograph them. I love it. This guy and a few others are the last of the fall babies. Squirrels have two baby seasons--spring and fall. They will be released when the worst part of our winter is over--probably late February. Up to this age, they are friendly and inquisitive and see their caretakers as food sources. This size and beyond they begin acting like the wild animals that they are and practice chattering, fluffing and whipping their tails around, and yes, they will even bite. Cute as they are, they can cause some damage with those rodent teeth.

My pelican friend from the previous post was well enough to be transferred to another facility to be further rehabbed. The injuries he had, a broken wing and broken leg (probably from being hit by a boat on a local lake) were healed. We had done as much as we could for him and it was time for him to journey onward for further rehabbing. It was both and exciting and sad day--exciting because of the road trip, and sad that we were fare welling a unique and very handsome water bird.

Traci and I loaded up my van and headed south to Corpus Christi, to the Texas State Aquarium. They have an awesome water bird rehab program and Pel I. Can (a play on the Black Eyed Peas band member Will I. Am) was a prime candidate for what they had to offer.

After 3 hours in a really large crate, he was read to stretch his wings. We left him in the rehab room while his enclosure was being readied and we were taken on a 'behind the scenes' tour of the aquarium. I have to say, though I love the water and coast, it takes A LOT to house and take care of those animals. The employees make it look very easy. (I will post photos of the animals we saw another time.)

Here's Traci letting him out of his crate into his new enclosure. The really cool thing is the pool--it's about 6" shallow and goes to about 4' deep. Perfect for him to exercise his now healed broken leg.

He walked back and forth for several minutes, checking out the whole water set up. He's been dry-docked for almost 2 months and we knew he would really want a nice long bath. Until he was comfortable with the area, he walked around, intermittently checking the depth of the water with his bill. At one point he walked up beside Traci as if to ask if it was ok to go swimming.

He was given frozen fish to eat as he'd been denied breakfast to cut down on possible transport sickness. He eagerly walked up on the pan of fish but quickly rejected the fish as they were on ice and very cold. Traci began to toss the fish to him and he caught the first few but spit them out quickly as he realized how cold they were. (at the sanctuary, he was fed live fish, so the cold was a much different feeling for him.) Soon though he finally swallowed one and from then on feeding him was easy.

Traci took this fabulous action photo. I've never spent time with a pelican and smiled the entire time I spent with him.

He finally jumped into the water and the rest was history. He swam around the deep end, checked out the shallow end, and then bathed for a good 15 minutes.

Have you ever seen a pelican smile? You have now. (click on any photo for a larger version.)

So we said our good-byes knowing he was in the right place and that we had done a good thing bringing him to the coast. Plans are to get him water proofed and flighted and released a little ways from the aquarium where a permanent flock of American White Pelicans live. Thank you Debbie, Kelly, and Sarah for taking him under your collective wings.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Friend, Old Friend

This beautiful perfect guy was brought into the clinic because of a wing injury. He is most probably a kid hatched earlier this spring (doesn't he look like he's trying to look older than he is?) and wasn't as proficient at flying as he needed to be. I was taking photos of him being examined by Traci (our vet tech) and Diane (almost clinic supervisor!) and when they were through he settled his feathers and proceeded to stand and silently request more fish (photo above).

When he realized we had no food for him, he decided to walk out of his room into the larger room where we were standing. He came directly towards me (probably not on purpose, I was just there) and we ended up pretty much eye to eye. The feathers on the back of his neck were softer than velvet; softer than rabbit fur; like hair on a newborn baby. The top of his immense bill was warm and smooth... I've never been this close to a pelican and I was instantly taken by his silent curiosity of the world and people around him. ( He really does have feet... I can't believe in all of the photos I took of him not one shows his feet!!! Must return for more!!)

I've written about Black Buck girl before. As an adult, she's always been someone who's kept to herself and hasn't been as social as the goatlets, or Gracie, or even Rocky.

However, today was a different story. I walked into the pasture to visit Gracie who was mooing at the gate--almost like bellowing--but given her youth (almost 9 months old) we'll keep it at mooing. I have no idea why she was calling, just that at that precise moment in time I was able to heed her call.

After patting Gracie's back, neck, and sides, I walked through that pasture and into the next one looking for the goatlets when Black Buck girl trotted up to me demanding attention. She's a girl of few words. She nudged my legs and my hand as I reached down to pat her. She nuzzled my palm. I was a little taken by surprise by her attention. I knelt so that I was eye to eye with her and she immediately began to nuzzle my neck and give me tiny kisses...

She made me feel so very special. After all, I was the only non-quadruped in all 4 pastures and she chose me to nuzzle. And I stayed as long as she tolerated me. Well, until one of the large black pigs decided my camera bag was something to gnaw...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Season's First Frost and other thoughts...

It happened, just like my uncle said it would. If the wind laid, we would get a frost. It did and we did. I am no fan of cold weather. But this first frost caused excitement. That's Niles walking across the frosted back yard.

Not long ago I was at work taking photos of enclosures. I happened across the sheep being sheep. Until the one on top saw us. Then the moment was gone and they all rushed the gate, certain we were bringing them food.

A burrowing owl was brought in not able to fly vertically. He could do ok on the horizontal but for a bird that's not good enough. He probably tangled with the hind wind of a truck. This day he held still long enough for exactly 4 photos. He was released shortly after.

This is my new friend. Though I still need to find his paperwork, word has it he is an ex-pet crow that used to be called Jake. I was having a hard time with life when I was told he had just arrived. I am entirely smitten. I spend time thinking up activities for him to keep his brilliant mind active and feel so lucky to be able to enrich his life and watch his mind work while he's at play.

This is my view every time I leave work. This day the hills in the distance were awesome shades of blue. They don't look quite as blue in the photograph, but it's a fair representation anyway.

These photos (ok, most of my photos) bring me smiles. I love reliving the moments that have been captured. I keep my photos on my itouch to show anyone who may be interested. It really came in handy when dad and I were waiting for his test results. I showed him photos of the kids and the animals I love. Rocky the Sheep was born on his birthday nearly 2 years ago and I love showing dad sheep photos--he grew up with farm animals being a necessity to live--food. He is slowly understanding (or perhaps just humorning me) when I ask if he ever spent time in the pasture as a boy, sitting with his favorite pig/goat/calf and he chuckles and says there was never time for stuff like that.

I find my words escape me after I upload photos to share. I believe the stories will return when they will but at least I can share the photos.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Photos...

I so enjoy trying to capture that which moves me, that something that I see and can share. I am fond of the little things. I believe they are the magic of this lifetime.

This tiny lavender flower captures my heart every time I see it. This is a piece that broke off the mother plant and rooted in the glass. Such tiny perfection.

Several years ago we were gifted with monarch caterpillars in the gardens. Monarch chrysalis have the tiniest metallic shining dots near the crown and I've always wished to be able to see one up close. He hatched on a day of rain--if you click on the photo you can see the drops of rain on the shell of a home and on his antennae.

I love the texture and seeming age of this door.

These three will soon be released to be able to live out their lives as they choose.

This day I was able to hear what it's like to be yelled at by a fox. She wasn't kidding either.

Monday, October 12, 2009

She's Going Home!!

Barb and two of her Girls

Barb's been released from the hospital and after a few days of rest will now be traveling home, with her parents, to be with her family!! It's been a hard few weeks filled with uncertainty, fear, and hope. Small steps of healing were heralded and Barb never faltered.

Thank you for reading, thinking and praying for Barb. Your prayers have been heard.

She's going home!!!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Rehydration for the Earth and the Spirit.

It's finally rained. The earth is again sighing--like daily. During one day and over night we got over 6" of rain. The dry seasonal creek hasn't had any significant water in it in several years. We could hear its celebration from the back porch. So, we called the dogs, grabbed the camera and took a walk.

Justin straddled the tangle of underbrush for that deer leg. Earlier he disappeared as I took photos of Sandy (below) and when he returned, he was already crunching his prize. His main focus during the walk was hunting and finding crunchy snacks.

Sandy went swimming. Long ago when she and Justin were puppies, we had a wading pool for them. Somewhere I have a photo (one you hold in your hands!) of both of them laying yin and yang in the pool of water. Honestly, I haven't seen her in water since they outgrew the pool. She waded in, laid down, put her muzzle under the water up to her eyes and blew bubbles. She was so happy!

Niles will die when he sees I took this photo of he and Lillie

Lillie found a peeper

Between rain (after the first rains and before the one above) I took time to disappear into the pasture with my friends. I hadn't visited in awhile and while Rocky's appearance doesn't change much, the goatlet's and Gracie's do. Gracie is getting so big but still remains a calf compared to the other adult bovine in the neighboring pasture. She also still retains her child like tendencies like pushing you with her head or even sneaking up behind you and pushing your hind end while you're getting goat kisses. So not funny but I swear I can hear her snicker each and every time she does it.

On this day I was sitting quietly with Rocky enjoying the pastoral scene of the green hills, blue sky with white fluffy clouds floating on a lazy breeze, vultures soaring in the upper regions of the atmosphere, black wisps on the wind; ravens racing through the trees, taunting one another. I know now why the animals in the pastures have half closed eyes--they're blissed out.

I looked to my left and see Atrayu just standing there watching me. She sweetly kept her distance so Rocky and I could have our time together. So I called her over. Eventually I end up with a goat laying to my left (Atrayu), a goat laying behind me (Falcor) and Rocky laying to my right. I was surrounded by love.

In the meantime, Gracie saw us all huddled together. Not one to miss out on any attention, she made a bee-line to where we were sitting. I wasn't concerned until it looked like she wasn't going to slow as she got closer and closer. Nothing like a 200 pound calf coming directly at you to make you un-blissed-out fast. She did stop in time, her feet coming to rest just millimeters from my legs. She then proceeded to rub the top of my head with her nose and neck. Cow love. Towering above me, she leaned forward just a little and I thought for sure she was going to step over me. As Rocky was nervously still laying to my right, my mind raced as I thought of how to get out of her way so I wouldn't be trampled.

She laid down, knees touching my leg and head all up in my face. Rocky tried to move away from the big black animal but I reassured him he was fine. Gracie laid her head in my lap, burping fermented green burps with an occasional lick with her huge rough tongue.

My time with them was too soon over and I left with complete peace. How could I not?


Friday, September 25, 2009

Update on Barbara

photo by Michelle Goodall-Nowels. Barbara with (almost all of) her girls.

Barbara had surgery this past Wednesday afternoon. A plate was used to fix her clavicle and another was used to fix her wrist. There was a lot of damage there. But she came through it. The next goal is to wean her off of her sedation a little at a time so she can then be weaned off of the ventilator that is breathing for her. Her other wounds (broken ribs, punctured lungs, many bruises on her body and face) are continuing to heal.

She is one strong Mama.

Services for her husband, Damon Faust, are pending. Their two oldest children will be making the trip to visit with her this weekend and make some very hard decisions about their father's burial schedule. Such tragic decisions for them to make. But they are wonderful and I know with all of the prayers that are being said for them right now, they will have the strength to do what they need to do.

A trust fund has been set up for the Faust family at Zion's Bank.To contribute or make donations, you can visit any Zion's Branch Office.If you aren't near a Zion's Bank, you can mail checks or money orders to the following address:

Zion's Bank Provo University Office
1060 North University Avenue
Provo, UT 84604

Please, include a note or letter stating that your donation is for Dr. Damon Faust. If you want a reciept for your donation, you must mention that in your letter.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Time of Mourning

photo by Michelle Goodall-Nowels

Life is amazing and life is fragile. Sometimes you want it to stay simple and easy and when you get bored you call in the chaos. And sometimes you can have all of this and more on any given day, especially if you have kids.... you're especially blessed if you have someone to go through it all with--someone who you can call and knows exactly how you feel and what to say, because, usually, she's been through it too.

I am blessed to have a friend like this. We were married in the same year (she in the spring, me in the winter), and, had babies in the same season (me in late spring, she in early summer). We went through years of babies and daily plans of getting out of the house, with the babies, and somehow maintained some kind of adult social and intellectual abilities.

Our married lives went their own ways. She and her family moved far far away to Utah and comparatively, we moved just up the road to Austin, Tx. Still, we called often, had more kids (she far more than I!) and we visited when we could. Our families grew up and we grew wiser, but we never grew older!!

Barb and I have been friends almost half of my life--26 years. We've gone from wide eyed young girls to mommies, and now she's a grandmother. Our lives are rich, delicious, and fulfilling.

And now my dear friend is in the hospital. She and her husband were driving home to Utah from Nevada when they were rear ended by another car. She was life-flighted to a Nevada hospital and was admitted into the ICU. Damon did not survive the accident.

Barbara is on a ventilator, has a chest tube, has multiple contusions and bruises, and will need surgery when she is stable. She is sedated because she was fighting the tubes in her mouth. She isn't aware of Damon's passing. Her parents are at her side and her children are all together. (All 10 of them.) Their lives will never be the same.

So, take a minute and pray for my friend, Barbara, and her family. Pray for their healing. And take a moment and count your blessings--for your health and for your family's health.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Little Earth Girl

She came in and asked if she could go play in the rain.

The last time it rained I told her no, it's messy blah blah blah. I felt badly after that and swore I wouldn't tell her no again.

I knew she went outside. I heard the back door close and thought nothing more of it.

Then I heard her laughing and giggling and talking and singing.

Wondering what she was up to (I thought she was playing with the dogs but I knew they wouldn't be out in the rain) I walked over to the window...