27 May 2017

Robin’s Weekend, Nearing An End. When The Train Pulls Out…

Robin's Weekend (With Phil at the Ace Hardware Store)

This weekend was exciting,  perhaps too much so. I can't absorb or quite comprehend all of it. My granddaughter  Robin was here all weekend, the refugee children landed at Bedlam Farm, an emotional visit, and we are getting a puppy named Leroy, a Boston Terrier, the first small dog I have ever owned.

My head is spinning. One of my goals this weekend was to help my daughter Emma get some rest. This was hard to do. Robin was up much of the night, she is getting a cold, and Maria and I were swamped with work and visitors and exhausted ourselves. I do not recall being so tired.

Another was getting to know Robin better. This was successful. She knows me now, I think she loves me now.

In the mornings, I was successful in getting Emma to go back to sleep and I spent some precious hours with Robin, and also with Maria. We took Robin all over the town – the book store, garage sales, and this morning, to the Ace Hardware store where we usually bring Red or Fate.

We sat on the grass, visited the donkeys, stared at chickens.

They have a jar or biscuits for the dogs at the hardware store, but  don't dare hand out cookies to babies. Phil was happy to hold Robin while I took their photo, the hardware store is a big part of our community and I wanted to bring Robin there. She and I did bond this trip, we got to know one another, and, I think, love one another.

Phil is a very nice man and hard worker there, I was glad to hand the baby over to him while I went to look for my bungee cords. I love living in a small town. Phil never blinked.

We smile whenever we see one another, and we have a pirate connection, Emma admits she sees it too. I loved being with her, and this is why I am so guarded about going mad over a grandchild, at noon tomorrow, she will be on a  train back to Brooklyn and we will be out of one another's lives again.

That is just the nature of life, and I accept life, I make my own life now wherever I am.  Family is a part of it, but it is up to me to fashion a full and meaningful life where I am. I am working hard on that, with Maria's love and support. I am committed to working with refugees and immigrants and eager to finish my next book and start another, and eager to bring home this new dog.

This weekend, I endured the first inevitable wave of the Self-Righteous, telling me how to get a dog without even being asked. Can you imagine?

I am already thinking of how I will train Leroy to be a therapy dog and live with Fate and sit and stay and come when called.

Robin and I got to a deeper level, but as I have said before, there are many geographic and emotional obstacles to our getting a lot closer. She is going her way, and I am going mine.

She will be on my mind and in my heart in a new and deeper way after this visit, I love her will and thoughtfulness and wonderful smile.  She has a sparkle in her soul.

We dance whenever we see one another, waving and jiggling back and forth, and I make the dumbest noises and sounds to get her to smile.

Maybe this is how this kind of love works, you go one step at a time, and just keep on going. People tell me all the time how much their grandfathers meant to them, how much they shaped and saved their lives. That will not, I believe, be the story Robin tells down the road.

I will not, I think, be around often enough or long enough to make that kind of difference.But what happened between us this weekend was rich and deep and good, and I am grateful for it and grasp it's meaning. Tomorrow, I will sneak into Emma's room (with her permission) and pick up the baby again and bring her downstairs and change her diapers and give her bottle and clean her bottom and change her clothes.

I will give her Cheerios and plain yoghurt, mashed spinach and pear.

This comes easily and naturally to me. Maria will get  up also and we will take Robin out into the barn or the pasture, or maybe into town to walk down Main Street. We have finally figured out how to work her stroller, we can do this.

And then Robin and Emma will be off, and a piece of my heart will surely go off with them, they are both so important to me.  I am grateful for my life, but there is nothing that can replace that.

And yes, my heart will sink when I see the train pull away with such a precious cargo, such a large piece of my life.

We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.

Posted in General

At Bejosh Farm. The Real American Story. When The No-Nothings Get Control…

When The No Nothings Get Control

Ed Gulley took the refugee children out into his cornfield to see the corn seeds beginning to sprout. His grandson Jeb is on the left, his wife Carol to the far right.

I was deeply affected by this artist, this man of the soil, kneeling down to show these lost and struggling children the true story of America. Every farmer in America was an immigrant or refugee when the American Family Farm sparked the great revolution and fought much of it.

I thought of the hatred and bigotry aimed at these innocent and defenceless children. On my Facebook Page yesterday, a woman I know and have sometimes admired gloated when it was discovered that the bomber and murderer in Manchester, England was the son of immigrants from a foreign and Muslim country Libya.

She expressed no sympathy for the victims or sadness about the violence in the world, terrorist and other.  She just gloated because it proved, to her, the wisdom of banning immigrants and persecuting them. "She," she said in delight, "the man arrested in Manchester was the children of immigrants." She was so happy.

Now, she preened, those squishy-headed people will see just how bad immigrants are.

Bigotry and the exploitation of hate and fear is as much a part of the history of democracy, past and present,  as the flag.

I thought of Abraham Lincoln, who even at the beginning of his political career in the Illinois State Legislature, wrote a letter condemning the popular anti-immigrant Know-Nothing party, as it was called.

"I am not a Know-Nothing," he wrote. "How could I be? How can anyone who abhors the oppression of Negroes be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me pretty rapid….When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except Negroes, and foreigners and Catholics. When it comes to this i should  prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – Russia, for example, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."

The Know-Nothings are here, and ascending again. Our progress in degeneracy continues. There are those who believe we are all created equal except the refugees and immigrants who are dangerous and depraved and inferior.

Ed Gulley's dirty hands and the seeds they pulled up from the soil on his knees are what the real America is all about, those hard-working and fearless immigrants and refugees who came to this country and fed a new nation and  helped create the most prosperous and freest (to many) country in the world.

I am not a Know-Nothing. And how could I be? How can anyone abhor the oppression of anyone and be in favor of degrading entire classes of people from other places who also wish to be created equal?  And I am not moving back to Russia either, my grandmother just barely left.

And how, I wonder,  could anyone watching this hard-working and devoted farmer, artist and animal lover not see the true spirit of America. I hope these refugee children saw it too, I think they did.

Posted in General

Lovey’s Sweet Day. Refugee Children At Bejosh Farm. How Animals Heal

How Animals Heal

At first, I feared that Lovey, one of Ed and Carol Gulley's affable Australian Shepherds, had collapsed or suffered a stroke. Then I saw Lovey, who loves to be touche and rubbed, had just laid down in bliss as the refugee kids rubbed her and her shoulders and belly.

This was therapy work, on both ends. If you talk to these children, they will often speak of the animals they left behind, of their great love and need for animals, and how much they miss them. Few of these families have the time or money or energy to have animals, and I could see how much these children love and miss them.

There was a lot of healing going on today, and the animals – Red, Fate, the donkeys, baby goats, the Gulley's calves and dogs – were doing what animals do – soothe and heal and touch our hearts and souls. We were at the Gulley's for nearly and hour, and Lovey was getting her belly rubbed every single minute of it.

Posted in General

Remarkable Man: A Visit To Ed And Carol Gulley’s Farm. The Real America.

Ed Gulley/Bejosh Farm

Ed Gulley is a precious friend, a dairy farmer, an artist and sculptor, and in every way, a remarkable and larger than life man. I am privileged to know him and his wife Carol, they are now very valued friends of ours. He happily agreed to host these refugee kids and explain the hard and wonderful life of the American farmer.

He showed them his cows, his work, his barns and milking stations.

He talked about the life of the farmer. He showed them his peacocks and new planted rows of corn. Ed is not typical in any way, he is not like anyone I have ever known. Ed is the last of a breed in many ways, a self-described dinosaur. A loyal friend and a gifted artist and blogger, the Bejosh Farm Journal which he and Carol publish daily is popular now all over the country and some of the world.

It was very important to me that the refugee kids meet Ed and see him, he is symbol of the true American character, honest, hard-working, self-made and  uncomplaining (except about milk prices). Carol is one of the warmest and most hospitable people I have met. The kids got a real view into the heart of America today, or so I believe. You won't find it on the news or in the White House.

You can find it at Bejosh Farm, and the kids loved every animal and moment of it. Ed is one of the great animal lovers I know, and it was a great moment when he hauled out a newborn calf and told her to be nice to the kids. She was.

Ed works in pain all the time, nothing seems to slow or stop him. He has invited me to bring all of the 100 kids who are coming to Bedlam Farm this summer. I just might take him up on it, they sure loved seeing him today. And Carol's brownies were pretty wonderful also.

Posted in General

Pizza At Pompanuck

Pizza At Pompanuck

The Pompanuck Farm Institute donated pizza today for the RISSE refugee kids, the whole soccer team showed up today to come to Bedlam Farm, Pompanuck and Bejosh Farm. We ate under a beautiful tent in this gorgeous green and peaceful space. Robin, my granddaughter, was lovingly passed around to several of the kids, who loved her and played with her.

The day was was richer for me because of the presence of my daughter Emma and Robin. It seemed fitting that they were here and they both fit in beautifully and perfectly. A coming together, a re-invention of family. In a way, this is my family, Maria, Emma, Robin, of course, but also Scott and Ali and the animals and these very beautiful children, whose hearts are so pure even in the face of great suffering and hardship.

They will make great citizens of this country, and I will do everything in my power to welcome them here and help them.

This soccer team touches the hearts. They face great odds – bigger, richer, talker and more experienced teams. But they have great pride and esprit de corps, they inspire me.

Posted in General