Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Magical Day

Three days ago it iced and then it snowed. And not just a little, but quite a bit for the Ozarks. The last time I saw this much snow here on these mountains in the Ozarks, it was during our move into our new home here, almost seven years ago. The heavens dumped an impressive eight inches of the magical fluffy white stuff here and my seven year old and I have been thoroughly enjoying it.

Yesterday she and I ventured out and explored. I grabbed my camera and snapped off a grand total of 85 pictures. We ventured slightly beyond the backyard, back behind the garden and towards the edge of the bluff. We walked along the bluff for a short distance and observed white patches of snow blanketing the fields of the distant valley.

We turned around and stopped and visited my sister-in-law who lives next door. As we were talking, I noticed tiny footprints in the fresh thin layer of snow on her covered porch.

I was so struck by the imagery, I marveled at the precise detail left behind by the small visitor.

From there, we wandered out to the road and then over to our Secret Pond and then beyond there stepped out into a field of tall glass grass, bent over in a permanent wave. My seven year old enjoyed bulldozing her small body through the waves of grass, breaking the ice which sounded exactly like champagne glasses breaking. I could tell that she enjoyed the activity very much; that it was very satisfying to her.

From there, we meandered back through the woods, and stopped to visit the Secret Creek, which runs off from the Secret Pond. There were many small waterfalls gurgling and churning as the water made it's way down towards the hollow.

We eventually made our way back to the house, but we agreed we couldn't wait to go out again today.

Today, we went for a really long walk. We tromped through the woods until we made it out to the road on the other side, and went down the road for a bit. We went about half a mile or so, down a hill, past another creek and back up the other side and we came upon a trail that led into the woods. I had been on this trail before, twice, a long time ago while walking with one of my other daughters on our many walks together years ago. The trail led straight back into the woods. Eventually we came to a small clump of young trees all bent over with ice and snow, which created a sort of small canopy. We climbed under it and I couldn't help but to feel a sense of wonder at the quiet intimacy of the natural setting created by the snow and trees. I looked around and observed the smooth virgin snow all around us. Nothing had disturbed it since it fell three days ago. All of life was temporarily suspended, as if someone has pushed the Pause button on nature. Sounds were muffled also. I felt for just one moment, that we were off in some far distant land way up north where no man had ever been. It was a fantasy, really, I know, but the feeling of awe and admiration for nature was very real. I felt truly connected to the earth and sat there mesmerized by the beauty all around me, until my seven year old roused me from my thoughts and asked that we go on.

We continued on until we came upon a clearing where visitors sometimes go to camp. There, the area had been just as undisturbed as the areas in the forest had been. We spent a few moments there before leaving to return in the direction we had come. I watched as my seven year old skipped ahead of me, obviously enjoying our outing as much as I was.

When we returned home, I inflated one of our innertubes from our summer float along the Buffalo River and pulled my daughter on it back and forth along the driveway. It is truly ironic, but we have no sledding hills. Although we live on a mountain amongst many hundreds more mountains, our moutains are all pretty level on top, and where there are slopes, the slopes are too steep, too rocky and way to dangerous. We make do with what we have.

Eventually, we had to go back into the house so I could make dinner.

The rest of the day I kept thinking about that moment exploring in the woods. I feel as though God gave me a special gift today; one that I should remember and cherish for the rest of my life. It might seem simple to you, but to me, a day with snow is a magical day and I truly feel blessed and genuinely feel like when I came upon that stance of young trees bent over the snow, I found a really special place.

We all need to have a special place now and again. I am happy to say that I have many of them here. I love life in the Ozarks... Life on the mountain.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wanna quit smoking? Just kill yourself!

Have you noticed the rash of drug commercials on TV lately? My hubby and I are often astounded as to the number of side effects each drug may have, and we are left scratching our head as to why anyone would choose to take such drugs if the side effects are worse than what they're taking the drug for.

Take Chantix for example. This is a new drug on the scene to help people quit smoking. Sounds great, doesn't it? A drug that can actually help smokers quit? A dream come true! My hubby is a smoker and would love nothing more than to quit, but he admits his desire for smoking still overpowers his desire for quitting, so he still smokes.

Chantix lists a whole bunch of negative side effects, and some of them are really eye-popping. Changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depression, anxiety, panic, aggression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, confusion and suicidal thoughts or actions.

Suicidal thoughts??? For real? Good grief! Sure, you'll probably kill yourself, but you'll at least stop smoking! Yeah, that's really something we all want to strive for! As a non-smoker, I think I would rather take up smoking than to risk my life taking this drug.

Nah, give us a drug that has positive side effects. Right? How about a drug that makes you happy, easy to get along with, relaxed, mood-boosting, blissful, cheerful, contented, delighted, ecstatic, joyful, elated, grateful, jolly, jubilant, thrilled and satisfied with life? Doesn't that sound like a better drug to take?

Actually, there is one that will do most of those things, but, sadly, it is illegal. And this is another head-scratcher for me. Why do they make drugs like Chantix legal and drugs like marijuana illegal? I don't get it. Wouldn't the government prefer the people to be happy and satisfied with life than disenchanted and suicidal?

I don't smoke pot. I have in the past, but I haven't for many, many years. But, I think I probably would enjoy a good toke once in a while if it were legal to do so. Like a lot of people, I'm just playing the waiting game. A friend of mine once told me that they were able to quit smoking cigarettes simply by smoking pot.

Now, if you want a drug to help quit smoking, there ya go!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Curiosity of Dreams

Do you dream in color? Do you remember your dreams? Are they prophetic? Do you dream about people you've loved that have passed on? Do you have themed dreams; dreams in which you have the same recurring theme over and over again?

I have been giving the topic of dreams a lot of thought the last few days. I always dream in color, and most of the time I remember my dreams - some better than others. Occasionally I have a prophetic dream and I also occasionally dream about loved ones who have passed away.

But, most of all, I have recurring dreams. Over and over again. I have three general themes that have recurred many times throughout my life.

1) I've had a LOT of tornado dreams, but I haven't had one lately. I have always held a fascination with tornadoes and even saw one once, a tiny one, swirling around up in the sky before it dissipated into nothing. I've never experienced a tornado - and hope I never do - but the dreams about them are quite real and vivid. I read that dreams about tornadoes suggest that "I am experiencing extreme emotional outbursts and tempter tantrums" or if I see several tornadoes (which I often do) represent "people around me who are prone to violent outbursts and shifting mood swings or could symbolize a volatile situation or relationship." Well, that's a bunch of hooey. No one close to me behaves even remotely close to this manner, including myself. I think I dream about tornadoes because I like tornadoes. I do tend to dream about them more in the spring, when it is more likely to have them around in real life.

2) I dream about just moving into a brand new house. Not just any house, but a really spectacular and extraordinary work of architecture and I am always amazed as I walk around and look around the rooms that this is my new home. The houses are always different, sometimes modern, sometimes contemporary, sometimes Victorian, but the general theme is always the same. Incredible colors and impeccable interior design and amazing ceiling heights and sweeping staircases. Definitely homes out of a fantasy land. I am always sad when I wake up and realize I am still in my humble abode. I can't really find an appropriate translation to this dream, so I leave it as is, and consider it just my desire for bigger and better things - which we all have.

3) Now this one is weird, and this is the theme I dream about the most. I am always needing to find a public restroom and either the restroom is not private enough, or the stalls aren't private enough, and sometimes the toilets are really out of place in unusual places and sometimes they are quite nasty or dirty. Not all the time though. Sometimes I have to go so badly I don't care and use a nasty toilet anyway (which I would never do in real life). This theme recurs at least three or four times a week. I understand that bathroom dreams are quite common though, and I found this translation to be especially interesting:

"To dream that you are in a public restroom with no stalls signifies your frustration with not getting enough privacy. It may also indicate that you are having difficulties letting go of old emotions. You are afraid that if you reveal these feelings, that others around you will judge and criticize you."

This definitely relates to me. And, this very thing was part of the motivation behind starting this blog. I do feel as though I will be judged and criticized and I definitely have issues of privacy. My husband does too, maybe even more so. We are both private people, but we are thrust into a situation currently that prevents us from being as private as we'd like. I'm really not ready to go into that just yet, but in due time, I'm sure. This blog is my way of opening myself up and getting myself out there - not with people I know (yet), but with people who just happened to be "passing by" on this virtual blog block (if that even happens, I'm not sure...)

All I know is my husband does not have these bathroom dreams, but I do. I ALWAYS wake up with an intense need to pee. So, I don't know if this theme is so much the privacy issue as it is my bladder telling me to WAKE UP so I can GO!!!! NOW!!!

Honestly, I am amazed I have never wet the bed.

Being 46 years old is interesting. I must get up at least twice a night to go. Thank God my bathroom is less than ten steps away. I shudder to think how cave women used to have to deal with it. Doesn't sound like my idea of fun.

So, now that it's late, I'm off to bed. Wonder what I will dream about tonight?


Monday, January 18, 2010

Home Again...

Ah, it's good to be home. We had a nice weekend in Little Rock and I have been home for most of the day. I had to catch up on all the email I'd missed, and generally just chill out. It's been a quiet day, but I have much work ahead of me, especially since I had no one to "fill in for me" while I was gone. I have several projects in the works, some very exciting things on the horizon!

My sweetie clearly missed me, and our daughter. He is SUCH a family man. He somberly talked about eating leftovers while we gone, while we dined at our favorite restaurants. He doesn't like having the house all to himself, well, him and the cats. We don't usually let the cats sleep with us, but when I'm gone they sleep on the bed with my hubby. He lived for such a long time as a bachelor that he had "gotten his fill" of that and loves having his family around. It is so obvious and so clear to me that he values his family - us - very, very much. I feel so blessed!

Tonight I have a conference call, and if it weren't for that, I'd just go to bed. I hate to miss an episode of Heroes though, but I can just watch it online tomorrow. The previews looked very interesting. Sylar kissing Claire? WTH????

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Skipping Town

Oops, skipped a couple days... and I'm gonna keep this one short. I have muffins baking in the oven and my 7 year old and I are getting ready to leave for the weekend. We are going to visit her sisters in Little Rock. We're looking forward to it. It'll be nice to get away for a little while. Maybe we'll take in a movie, or go out to eat.

The weather has warmed up and the pond across the road is starting to thaw out. The local newspaper featured a photo of ice skaters playing hockey on another local pond and I was struck by the image. I thought ponds freezing over enough to ice skate on only happened up north. We sure have had some really cold weather! I don't even think you can buy ice skates locally around here. I would probably have to buy them on line. Sure is tempting... I've done a lot of roller/ice skating in my life, but my 7 year old has never been on skates. I wonder if there is a rink in Little Rock? I will have to find out...


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Pain in the Neck

It was a pretty uneventful day here. My 7 year old was actually awakened by the cat before it was time to get up for school, so this morning went flawlessly compared with yesterday. Way to go, cat!

It was sunny all day and no calves performed any Bambi impressions on the pond, which is a good thing as it appears to be a wee bit thinner now with the warmer weather.

I spent a good portion of the day on the phone between my health insurance carrier and the people with the Arkansas Breast Care program. I spent so much time on hold my neck started hurting and now I feel like I need to go to the doctor for the pain in my neck caused by my insurance company. It's a vicious cycle.

I was attempting to find out if I can still qualify for the breast care program even though I have insurance and after all that time on the phone, I got absolutely nowhere. I wound up being kicked into someone's voice mail and wound up just leaving a message. No one has returned my call yet.

I understand that the breast care program has suffered budget cuts, I get that. I just learned about a new organization called the 7 Ribbons Project that will be assisting with the Arkansas Breast Care program as well as many other fine and worthwhile causes. Yay!

The 7 Ribbons Project is currently accepting donations to help the people of Haiti recover from a devastating earthquake that just happened. My heart goes out to those people. The 7 Ribbons Project is a new organization but they are doing great work already.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Bambi Impression

Today was a typical Tuesday for the most part. My 7 year old decided to give me a major stink fit this morning getting up and ready for school. She is SOOO not a morning person. Sigh! We had words. I took away her computer priveledges for this evening. After dinner my hubby and I sat her down for a talk. We worked out a few things, so now we'll see how it goes tomorrow morning.

Other than that, it was a quiet day. The phone rang only once, shortly before noon, and it was my daily call from my mother, who lives in Florida. She checks in with me every day. Sometimes I have things going on and have to cut the call short, but most days we enjoy our midday chats and I dread the day when I won't have them anymore...

Our weather is finally warming up, so the snow is about 95% melted but the pond across the street is slow to thaw out. The farmer has been back with a shovel to break up the ice again, but it just refreezes overnight. This afternoon I watched in horror as a young calf made a very good Bambi impression, slipping and sliding all over the ice. I was so afraid he'd break through the ice and drown. He was way out in the middle of the pond! I was prepared to bolt for the pond if I had to, but he managed to slip and slide back over to the edge, where he did break through, but it was shallow enough that he just got out. Whew! That was a close one. I have no idea how I would have saved him if I had to, but I was sure ready to try. I'm just amazed that the pond was that frozen. I've never seen it that solid before.

Too bad we don't have any ice skates!


Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm Just a Mystery Woman

Well, it's the third day and I see I still have no followers. I am doing an experiment. I am purposely NOT telling anyone I know about this blog to see how long it takes for strangers to start following me. I am not advertising my blog in any way, and have no plans to. For now, this blog is by me and to me. I could write about anything. I could even write about very private things and still wonder if anyone will take notice. Will anyone raise an eyebrow or two?

I don't think I'm brave enough to post anything juicy just yet. Might not ever be. After all, there's a reason we call some of the things we do "skeletons in the closet," right? It just wouldn't sound right if we said "skeletons in the living room" or "skeletons out on the front lawn." Would you, the reader, (when and if you ever show up) want your skeletons out where everyone could see them?

Probably not!

I do have some skeletons, who doesn't? Nothing too terrible, I assure you, nothing really out of the ordinary for a modern American wife and mother would have, really. But there is one significant thing, and I'll get into that later. I'll tell you this though, Lynn Gilmore is not my real name. I am using an alias.

You might be wondering why I would use an alias. Well, I'm not quite ready to tell you that yet. It's just kinda fun. Don't we all sometimes wonder what it would be like to be someone else? So, for now, let's just keep they mystery going, shall we? You don't need to know my real name, do you? Do I know yours? Nope, you are as much a stranger to me as I am to you...

Doesn't this sound kinda fun?


Sunday, January 10, 2010

If Only Life had a Green Exclamation Point Box Once in a While

Well, I see no one noticed my first blog post, so I'll post a second. I wonder how many posts it will take before anyone takes notice. Will I win a prize? Some star coins maybe???

I just spent the last hour playing Super Mario on Wii, so I'm still hearing the Mario music in my head and I still have star coins in my eyes. Boy, is that game hard! Being a 46 year old mom, I'm not your typical "gamer" - actually, I'm not a gamer at all, really, so I guess it must be harder for me than it is for some... This game looks like something I will never be able to beat, not without Luigi's help anyway. Thank God for those green exclamation point boxes!

I guess I should tell you a little bit more about me. I spend most days at the computer. I visit forums, I skim through the news, check emails and oh yeah, I try to actually work. It is easy to forget to do that, especially since I work at home and don't have some pontificating boss to stand over me and shake their holier-than-finger at me. When I work, I earn money, or at least try to, and when I don't work, I don't earn money. It is my choice. Thankfully, I've managed to keep paying my bills and I have a wonderful husband that supports this family.

I work as both a graphic designer and an artist, and try to spend a good portion of each day doing both. The graphic design work pays better but admittedly the artwork is much more creative and satisfying. Between the two, I manage to pay the bills and have enough money to keep buying supplies for the business. I very rarely have to buy anything for the graphic design work, thank God!

Like I said before, I am married. I have a wonderful loving husband who is devoted to me and the kids in a way I rarely see men are. We married each other late in life, I was 38 and he was 39. He had never been married before, but I had just gone through a divorce after 16 years of marriage. My first husband distanced himself from the kids and me in favor of a love affair with Jesus (and an online girlfriend that I didn’t find out about until later) and as a result I lived a very lonely existence. You might think I should have followed him into his faith, but being raised Jewish, I was just not comfortable with that. The more my ex tried to shove Christianity down my throat the more I rebelled against it. I grew to hate Christianity simply because he was so hell-bent on converting me.

Needless to say, it was a very unhealthy lifestyle for me, and for the greater portion of that marriage I literally felt like I was the living dead; like I was a zombie.

I met my current husband just three days after my first husband and I split. I think I would have enjoyed a life as a single mom, but I like to think God had other plans. I really do believe that everything that happened in my life up until that moment had directly pointed me into the arms of my current husband. When I think of how many choices I had; how many turns I had to make in order to get here, it could have just as easily gone a different direction. No telling where I'd be today!

So, now we've been married for over eight years, and will have known each other exactly nine years the day after tomorrow. As important as our wedding anniversary is, the anniversary of when we met is even more important to me in many ways. Without that meeting, there would be no wedding anniversary to celebrate every year.

Together we have a seven year old daughter. She was a "surprise" as you can imagine. Although she was not planned, we are so very blessed to have her in our lives. She is highly intelligent and does exceptionally well in school. She is strong willed and she loves to entertain us with her sense of humor and fun loving approach at life. She has endured a few challenges and continues to remain every bit as optimistic about her future as I could ever hope she would be.

She enjoys playing games on the computer and we spend many hours each day side by side; her on the old Dell desktop from 2001 and me on my 2008 laptop. Sometimes we'll watch YouTube videos together, or play games together.

We live in the country, as you can imagine, with "Life on the Mountain" as the title for this blog. We live in a remote area of the Ozark National Forest, roughly some 1800 feet above sea level. Granted, it's not Mount Everest, but it's high enough that on a clear day you can see the distant valleys, mountains, lakes and rivers. It is quite a view.

It is very quiet here, but occasionally we'll hear the sound of a gun going off as hunters are known to hunt in the area. When I used to live in the city, I never could quite get used to hearing the sound of gunshots, but those gunshots were going off for different reasons, and that to me, was scarier than what I hear now.

We have a pond across the dirt road where we can watch the cows come in and drink. In the summer, they'll get into the pond all the way up to their necks to cool off. Even in the winter, they'll get in up to their knees. They are curious creatures. Every time I walk across the road to get the mail, there they are. They stop whatever it is that they're doing just to watch me. If they're a little close to the fence, they'll back off, but most of the time, they stand still like statues and don't resume their mundane activities until I return to the house. Every year there is a new crop of calves and it astonishes me that some are born so early in the winter that I think they can't possibly survive, but somehow they do... Just yesterday, the farmer was out with a shovel trying to break up the ice on the pond so the cows could get a drink. It has been unusually cold, with temps below freezing and into the single digits - and even the minus single digits - for well over a week now.

We have the usual assorted wildlife. We get plenty of birds and squirrels, competing for food at my bird feeder, but we also get rabbits, possums and deer and we even get a bear once in a while. They come up to the garden and try to figure out a way to get through the fence to get into it. So far, they haven't been aggressive at all.

We also have another pond, buried into the woods just north of the house that we like to call our "Secret Pond" because few people know that it's there. The Secret Pond has a Secret Creek that runs off from it in wet weather. The creek meanders towards the edge of the bluff and down into the hollow. It's really pretty back in there.

We love Arkansas, there is so much to explore and see. We visit the Buffalo River as often as we can; it is just a short drive to get there. There are many beautiful sights; waterfalls and caves and we've seen a good many elk. We’ve gone on many hikes and some are so treacherous we’ve had to turn back. We’ve tried twice so far to see Hemmed-In Hollow but have had to turn back each time.

Yep, life on the mountain is good, but it would be good to get a free green exclamation point box once in a while…


Saturday, January 9, 2010

My First Blog...

Is there anybody out there?

I've never blogged before. I guess you can say I'm "late to the party," the blog party. Everyone is out there blogging away, wearing their party hats and drinking their punch, and finally, finally, I show up and everyone yells "surprise!" Or maybe no one will even notice I'm here. It doesn't matter. It's my party and I'll blog if I want to...

Since I'm new to the whole blogging scene, I admit, I must have spent, what, about 30 minutes just trying to come up with a title for the blog. Gee wiz, I thought, this is going to take some thought. I didn't know it had to have a title. It's kinda hard to title something that I don't even know what I'll be writing about yet... I didn't know what else to do, but I live on a mountain, so there ya go.

Actually, this is just a means to keep my typing skills fresh. I'll figure it all out as I go.

Off to a good start? Well, I hope so... Looks like someone has already donned a lampshade for a party hat. Oh yeah, this will be fun alright.