Wedding Thoughts

The time is drawing near to the wedding and we’re just starting to kick it into high gear. Up until now we both thought it would come together by magic. Most people complain that there are too many people with input, but we seem to be fairly input free.

We have lots of help and I can’t thank those enough who’ve built picnic tables and helped us do some cleaning. Don’t forget about us on the 18th when Brent will be in charge of all the set up while I’m getting my hair done. I’m starting to like the pageantry and rituals.

Technically I’m Catholic, but I’m not practicing. Brent’s family is Lutheran and devote. I’m not great with organized religion, but I’m getting better. I’m opening my mind to the importance of the ceremony. It’s a blessing and rite of passage. 

I was watching the movie Angels and Demons and it reminds me of going to church as a child seeing grown men dress up in long gowns, lighting incense, candles and chanting. I thought it was odd and made me feel uncomfortable and a little embarrassed.

For many years I studied some less common religious ideas – Wicca was a favorite, but I was often uncomfortable with the costume, candles and ritual until I was watching this movie and realized it was the same stuff.

Millions of people go to church and are comforted by the pageantry of the ceremony. Sunday church in our Sunday best with brunch and tea afterwards. A gathering of the community to worship a deity. I believe in community, family, higher beings and the power of the earth. Why fight it?

This is why I’ve decided to embrace the ritual. We will be getting married by a pastor and there will be readings that we’re choosing. There will be an element of God at our wedding and I’m a little relieved.

The clothing, bling, puppies, wedding party, readings, speeches, friends, God and family are all part of the ceremony. We’re a pretty important part of the process too.

The wedding is the foundation for the marriage. It lets you find out if you can cope with stress together, if you can work together, if you have similar ideas. It’s an eye opener and I must tell you that Brent is incredibly patient and often a saint.

Even if you don’t believe in God, my dad always said you have to believe in something. There must be some higher power out there that we can be thankful. We cannot be alone.

On September 18th in front of God, the higher power, family, puppies and friends I’m looking forward to the ritual and ceremony of getting married. I’m a little nervous, but I have no doubt in my choice of husband, ceremony or venue. Actually, I’m incredibly lucky to have the venue (thanks ellen and brian).

Now, to find a band… it’s only a few weeks away – it’s about time.

Dressing for the Wedding

I’ve had many people ask what kind of attire would be most appropriate for the wedding… I’d like to offer this bit of information:

1. It’s on the beach, so choose the right shoes as sand is not forgiving of high heels, but if you can do it – do it. Chances are the bride, groom and wedding party will be barefoot.

2. Yes. I’m wearing a mostly white sort of traditional wedding dress – with a little flair. It makes me feel like a princess.

3. The boys (including groom) will be wearing shorts and super cool and funky shirts – I’m hoping for buttons.

4. When the women in the wedding party asked about dresses I said “wear something that makes you feel beautiful and comfortable”. I offer the same advice to our guests.

5. Pink.

Option two: wear something fun and fancy for the ceremony and a change of clothes for the cool nighttime bonfire. Don’t forget to bring a sweater. Be a diva: have a costume change.

Wear something fun and comfortable. Wear that thing you bought years ago and never had a place to wear it. This is the place. This is the place for hawaiian shirts and tassels. Bring that bedazzled skirt with those red shoes. Yes. Wear the red shoes. Be fun and sexy and playful and comfortable.

Taz is wearing a white dress with a pink ribbon. Gizmo and Poco are wearing white dinner jackets with black bow ties. They are very excited. I hope you are too…

Brent are really excited to be marrying each other. It sounds corny, but it’s true.

Picnic Tables

Thank you. You know who you are… Those wonderful friends and souls who came out to help us build our “wedding” picnic table last Sunday at the beach. We managed to put together thirteen tables in less than four hours with many beach and beer breaks.

We had groups of people working together with nail guns, drills, saws and imagination. We put the tables together is a matter of hours with laughs and the wonderful smell of sand, sun and healthy sweat.

I’m so glad people have started to wander out to the beach and see the glory that exists in the little piece of sand called Long Beach. It is stunning. Better than any resort and friendlier than any family joint. It combines peace with fun, food with wine, family and friends. It’s warm and welcoming, hot and re-freshing.

Bright fires on cool summer nights translate into rhythmic converations about life and love, future plans and wonderful memories. I can’t thank people enough for partaking in our adventures and our lives.

One of our worst qualities: we’re bad with time, but great with friends and family, if you can track us down. We’re generous with our time, muscle, ideas, property and work horses. All you have to do is ask and then inspire us with good food and libations. Deep down: we’re pretty simple folk.

Brent says he’s always happy. He seems like he’s happy most of the time and I strive to be as happy as Brent. I envy his simple views, but don’t mistake them for ignorant or uneducated. The dude is smart. It may not seem like it, but he’s managed a great deal in his life. He’s brave and encouraging and wonderful and often a little frustrating.

Our biggest complaint is having too much stuff. I love to care for the things we have and Brent loves to aquire new things. It’s an interesting mix of personalities and we find a way to make it warm, loving and welcoming.

It’s four weeks to the wedding and I think I’m done panicking over the details. We’ll have food, drinks, friends and family to help us celebrate. What more do we really need? (don’t you dare quote a bridal book).

Taz Verses Mr. Smith

I love my ducks. I was watching them tonight flapping their wings and running around all excited. I crouch down beside them and they immediately started grooming me for all sorts of bugs and dirt. I must have been very dirty because they were very vigorous with their bills.

It feels so good to be welcomed by my winged friends. They ran over fully extended and their excitement at my return was palpable. I felt so loved. Their gently feathery touches turned slightly painful and I retreated to find some stale bread to distract them from my painted toes and shorts in need of laundering.

I returned with the bread and the brawl began. Taz and Mr. Smith began fighting over the bread. He nibbled her back until she snarled and then she snapped at his duck bill. He turned and snapped back, but she quickly withdrew and pounced towards his tail feathers. This dance continued for several minutes, or at least until Mrs. Smith had the rare opportunity to eat all the bread. With nothing left to fight over Taz wandered back to the house and Mr. Smith herded his Mrs. back towards the ponds.

Much like children, they only want what the other wants.

My Salvation

When I was searching for my happiness, contentment and simple joy I questioned everything. I questioned life. Why was I here? What was I suppose to accomplish? How was I to do it? Where did I start? What are my goals? I struggled to find these answers. I had my job, home and lifestyle, but it didn’t feel like I belonged. I’d been all over the world before I was thirty-two, but didn’t find peace anywhere. I checked Austria, Thailand, Italy, France, Germany, Cambodia, Brazil, St Lucia, Canada and all over the United States, but contentment was illusive. I tried ruins and tarot cards. I prayed to mother earth, god and goddess.I looked for answers in books, songs, rainbows and long contemplative walks with my dogs. I asked the great Comfort Maple Tree what I should do, not knowing advice is only requested when you knew the answer, but did’t like it.

I called it the search for my happiness. I was restless. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. On a crazy path of destruction the day came when things broke. I waited six months before I left my partner of fifteen years. I was thirty-five and it broke my heart.
I jumped ship. I left my marriage. I got a divorce. It’s a long complicated story, but the ending is the same. I floundered lost in a sea of unrest. I sought comfort in all the wrong places and learned some harsh life lessons. Mostly, I learned that I knew nothing.
My salvation was the farm.
That statement is difficult to make because I’ve always believed that happiness is something on the inside and has nothing to do with environment, but my raw wounds were healed by the comfort of the farm.
The familiar smells brought on sleep in the night. The gentle breeze returned my appetite and I started to eat again. It was time to change my goals.
I started gathering animals. The animals nobody wanted. Pigs and goats, chicken and bunnies. Oh, the joy they brought to my life. Their happy noises when I’d come to feed or talk. My dogs gave me something to care and cuddle. They demanded to be physical attention and I started to feel alive again.
Slowly I began to see the sunrise, hear the katydids and smell the fresh cut hay. I began to take new joy in my days and started to fear the nights a little less.
I can remember the day when I’d seen a frog lazying in the sunshine enjoying life and I had a distant thought that perhaps I was ready to meet someone new. Would he be a knight in shining armor or an idiot wrapped up in tin foil? I met Brent gravely unsure what this man would bring to my life and I didn’t feel quite ready, but I recognized I had a wealth of luck brewing in my soul. The tide turned.
I told him right off that I didn’t want to get married and he laughed. He didn’t try and persuade me differently, he didn’t talk more on the subject, he just laughed. We’re getting married in September and I’m not quite sure how he did it, but I’m happy about it.It’s nice to be carried along by someone else’s goals. It’s nice to feel the trust you can have in another person to direct your life. It’s nice to not always be in charge or in control. It’s nice to let go and enjoy the ride. My questions are answers and I found my peace in a small farm, with a kind man and pile of heartbeats to look after. I have my family after all.

Funny Farm

One of my best friends from high school came to visit. They made the long road trip down from Alberta to visit family and friends for two weeks. We were sitting on the back patio enjoying a glass of red wine talking about the farm.

She said her husband would love to live on a hobby farm, but it wasn’t her idea of fun. Too much work and time. Too much trouble. I tried to explain the labour of love that goes into making a hobby farm a hobby home. Since Jenn and I have over two decades of friendship I knew she wasn’t putting down the choice of having a farm. I knew she had an interest in how the whole thing works and why I love it so much.

Mostly…. it makes me laugh or generally brightens up my soul.

In a nutshell: I think the farm is funny.

Watching Mr & Mrs Smith dive through the water is amazing. Trying to stop Willow from head-butting children is frustrating, but she dances and thinks it’s a great game, so how can I not laugh?

Taz and Gizmo playing big bear on the bed makes me laugh out loud. They snarl and giggle and Taz log rolls and trying to trip Gizmo with her body. Playing a good game of fetch with Poco is delightful.

The pigs: it’s their noises that make me laugh. Snorts and squeals as they happily smash into things.

As the sunsets and the dusk to dawn light comes on the bunnies burst to life hopping and playing on the front lawn. Often they are a fast moving shadow or a silhouette against the fading light. Mystical creatures dance across the driveway invading the cars, tractor and pump house. If you only had the company of rabbits to watch it would be more than enough entertainment.

Watching Athos, our feral ragdoll cat, stock around the barn trying to shrink his bulk and become invisible makes me grateful knowing I’ve made his life better.

Seeing a chicken and a cat curl up in the nesting box during a cold winter night or watching Willow’s head roll around on Charlotte’s back as they nap, curled together, in the afternoon sunshine.

Sitting in my living room with the Simpson’s playing on the ancient projection TV while a gentle breeze floats in from the window, surrounded by puppies who are snoring gently after a busy day at the beach and I can feel my muscles relax.

The sun softly sets over the barn and I reminisce about the chinese dinner I just shared with my dad who was talking about all the changes and all the work we’d done to the barn. Pride, but only a little.

It feels like the whole world breathed a deep sigh.

So, it’s worth cleaning up all kinds of poop, re-siding outbuildings, putting a steel roof on the barn, the cuts and bruises, getting up early to feed and staying up all night with a sick animal.

Nutshell: I love living on the funny farm.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Like most people the hours of my employment, my paying job, often dictate how I spend my time. I try to look at it like this: I don’t have trouble making appointments because I don’t work Monday-Friday, I can make a pitcher of margaritas in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, I can justifiably spend an entire day in bed surrounded by puppies, and one of my favorites… it’s okay to drink a glass of wine at six in the morning after a night shift. 

I give myself such liberties. I offer such rewards for all the holidays I miss, the weekend BBQs, the Sundays that don’t really mean anything and the Friday nights lost to get up early for work on Saturday. I accept these trade-offs with good humor, unless you ask me when I’m on overtime on Christmas with a late call, and then I’ll tell you I hate it.

I love my ride in on Sunday at five in the morning where the only summer company on the road is men towing small fishing boats. They are lumbering along in absolutely no hurry, stopping for coffee and breakfast before dropping a line in the still water and pretending to fish.

I imagine on these damp vegetation scented mornings that the fire ball beckons the dawn on the Serengeti and I’m cruising along like Laura Croft on my motorcycle. I love seeing the sunrise in what I affectionately call the African sky.  I feel so alive cocooned in my solitude as the rose coloured day breaks and the mist settles into the fields, the deep orange ball rising to glow from behind ethereal wisps of clouds that I arrive at work with a silly smile and cushion of serenity.

I have not always been this eternal optimist. I’ve had to work at it. I’ve had to stop and remind myself that the important thing is to live life and the hardest thing to do in this world is live in it. It’s a mixed blessing, much like shift work.

I’m at the end of my four night shifts and I’m tired. Irritable tired. When I say irritable I mean everything. My belly, my mind, my raw emotions and my body is irritable. I find it hard to cling to irritable as I feed my farm animals and give gentle strokes to Mrs Smith. I feel my irritation ebb away as I lay in my air conditioned bed surrounded by three angelic puppies.

I’ve heard it said that it doesn’t matter where you are because you carry happiness on the inside. I believe that all well and good, but your surroundings have the potential to be a gentle balm to your soul when you are subjected to those moments of harshness.

It’s hard to be irritable when I recognize the happiness that bubbles up when I watch the bunnies come running for their breakfast. Cup half full… I guess.

I have not had a charmed life. I wasn’t offered up heaping tablespoons of sanity, but I’ve managed to work through some big demons and achieve some big goals. I am proud to announce that I have found my happiness before I’m forty and I’m going to hold on, work to keep it and be open enough to enjoy it for the rest of my life.

It’s good to have goals, it’s even better to recognize when it’s time to change those goals as we hunt for the joy of living. It’s not failure, it’s re-direction. Often we must take great leaps of faith and put ourselves in a perception of peril in order to find that deep down contentment and achieve our labour of love.

I have a few ideas for the future. I’ve changed my goals and moved in a new directions. The best part? I’m really excited to see what happens next.

Where Joy Hides

I can’t wait to look back. What I mean to say is that I can’t wait to look back and read my blog in twenty years. I can hope my love for my soon to be husband will be as strong, my memories of all my beautiful animals as sweet and my experiences still rich and rewarding.

It will be a sweet joy to look back and determine that my life was interesting, or at least I found it interesting.

My today struggles will not be tomorrows and next years challenges still await. I strive to live each day and enjoy the moments that randomly fall in your lap. I try not to get caught up in what hasn’t gotten done and promise to enjoy the visitors and the residence of the farm.

Even while writing this I pause to cuddle a super Taz who was lazing on the arm of the couch. I held her curled up body in my arms and admired her light brown nose, her partial closed carmel eyes and mostly the complete level of trust and relaxation as her body goes limp in my arms. I can feel her heartbeat against my heart and cannot fathom how this gentle puppy could ever be harmed. How can she not be cherished and cuddled and loved?

I don’t understand cruelty to animals. I don’t understand why or how people can be mean to the creatures that only want to please. It makes me angry and sad to think of the millions of dogs and cats that are abused, beaten, neglected and eventually killed at human’s hands.

I look deeply into the soul of my eight pound pup and I see happiness, joy and love. I wonder what these people see right before they destroy a soul?

I’ve been told to stop looking at the websites and pages and pages and pages of unwanted animals, but ignorance does not build knowledge. I don’t want to be sheltered. I want to know. I want to help. I want to be the hero.

I haven’t saved nearly as many animals as I can and this is a life long mission, adventure and dream. I’ll continue to battle against animal cruelty and save the world one dog at a time.

To the world often a dogs life means nothing, but to the dog it means the world. Spay. Neuter. Save a life. The soul your helping will be your own.

This entry started about enjoying life and lead to one of my greatest joys… it went in an entirely different directions than I started, but this is the joy of the blog. Now, go give your pet a hug.

Seven Off

Every month I get seven days off in a row. This month we decided we’d stay in our trailer that we’d set up at the beach the previous week. We had power and water. We had a TV, DVD player, a queen size bed a fridge and good size living space. Our travel trailer is thirty-two feet long with two side-outs. It’s comfortable. You can tell by the lack of writing that we don’t have internet at the trailer and even if we did I’d be too busy sitting on the beach holding my best friend’s hand to type.

We spent our lazy mornings drinking coffee and going up to the main house to steal breakfast. We’d then talk about working on Brent’s barn, but usually ended up on the beach enjoying the sunshine. We managed to cut some wood for the wedding picnic tables and put in one door and one window before we succumbed to the allure of the beach and wine. Our good friends Jill and Chuck came by and helped us cut lumber for an hour before convincing us that the beach was a much better idea. It’s so hard to motivate yourself to work when you live in summer paradise.

We had dinner plans every night, but Tuesday when we met old friends at the drive-in. We packed an oversized couch-chair into the bed of the pick-up truck and made our way to Thorold. Just before the drive-in we took a motorcycle ride to Port Colborne to order our wedding bands. Woohoo! It’s becoming so real.

Getting back some of the wedding invitations and ordering the bands makes us realize how much we still have left to do, but we focused on not panicking by enjoying another day in the surf at the beach.  I’m finally relaxing and enjoying the biking, kayaking and simply walking in the sand.

Wednesday in the rain drives us to the farm to check on the animals, pool and pond. The dogs are delighted to be back home with a fenced yard and the freedom to daytime nap in their own beds. Taz was quickly back to work on Bunny Patrol, but Gizmo was ecstatic to be reunited with his crock pot.

Wednesday night we had dinner at the beach with my dad, Brent’s parents and friends visiting from Wiscosin. I’m so proud to sent an invitation to Packer-Land. Jerry and Ute are wonderful people from the Green Bay area and are avid Green Bay Packer Fans. I love them. They were kind enough to bring me a Packers ball cap just because I wrote “Go Packers” on their invite. I love surprises.

I’m looking forward to the comfort of my king bed tonight. Once you put the big man and three puppies in a queen there really isn’t much room left for the girl. We’re still trying to figure out if we can fit a king in the trailer.

It’s been a relaxing week, but it’s time to get some things done!