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27 February 2015

Mary Kellogg: The Sacred Spark, The Joy Of Creativity. How To Dance

How To Dance

How To Dance

Mary Kellogg has just turned 85, she has finished her third work of poetry – "How To Dance" – and I went to see her on her farm in North Hebron this morning to take her portrait for the book cover. I love taking Mary's picture. Mary writes by her desk in her bedroom, and I was touched to see the mirror helping to capture her joy in creating. The creative spark lives very strongly in Mary, it grows stronger and stronger as she struggles with the inevitable challenges of aging.

Mary lives on a remote hillside on a 30 acre farm, she loves every minute there, even through a winter as rough as this one. Members of her family, including her children, grand-children and great-grand children come up to see her often. She lived in this house with her beloved husband Dick, and she cared for him for ten years after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She promised him that he would remain at home, and he did.

Mary and I became friends in 2006 when she showed me some of the poems she had been writing since she was eleven but had never shown to anyone, including Dick. She thought people might think her strange. She said no one had ever encouraged her before.  I told her they were brilliant and I told her I wanted to publish them. Maria and I had just met and she agreed to help me, our love was forged in part by our work with Mary, it was the first time Maria had supervised a creative project,  and we worked so beautifully and easily together.

When I told Mary we were dating, she said, "oh, good, dear, she's such a nice girl and she will keep you in line." So she has. Mary is precious to us, and we are thrilled that she will be reading from "How To Dance" at the first Bedlam Farm Open House, June 27-28 at Bedlam Farm. Maria is editing that volume as well – two strong women working together. The circle turns and turns. Several other poets will be presenting their work as well that weekend – Kate Rantilla, Doug Anderson, Tom Atkins. Poetry and art are the theme of that weekend, along with sheepherding and donkey-cuddling.

Mary is a born poet, a natural poet, it was so beautiful to see her at her desk and have the privilege of photographing this private, self-reliant person. She is a testament to the joy and power of creativity, and the need all of us have for encouragement. I love Mary and admire her, she will always be one of the most beautiful women I have ever known.

Posted in General
26 February 2015

Red At Dusk: Making Trails

Making Trails

Making Trails

Outside of the pasture, Red is a calm and sweet creature, he waits quietly in the gym, sits calmly in the bookstore. Inside of the pasture, he is transformed into a spirit. At dusk, in the bitter cold, he determinedly runs his trails, makes his paths, finds a dozen ways to get to his sheep and do his work. He shows us how to deal with such a winter – calmly, patiently, with focus. The winter is absolutely nothing to him, a path to cross to do his work.

Posted in General
25 February 2015

High Noon At Bedlam Farm. Red As Gary Cooper.

High Noon At Bedlam Farm

High Noon At Bedlam Farm

We woke up to a balmy 7 degrees this morning, I might switch to polo shirts and shorts. We went out to the pasture, and there was a great "High Noon" scene there, Liam had come out of the pole barn and Red just came into the gate. They went into their stare down as Red inched up the path slowly and without hesitation. No panic or excitement.

Liam stood his ground until Red got to the corner of the barn, and he made a mild gesture towards butting Red, which Red ignored. Liam backed into the barn, strutting and posturing a bit. Red doesn't mind strutting or posturing, as long as Liam goes where Red tells him to go. Testosterone all around.

Come to think of it, there is a Gary Cooper quality to Red, he is steady and calm under pressure, he doesn't lose his cool, he is never more violent than he absolutely has to be and he always gets the job done.

Posted in General
24 February 2015

Red Makes A Trail

Red Makes A Trail

Red Makes A Trail

Red loves his work, and he especially loves is spectacular outruns, wide sweeps around the pasture to come up around and behind the sheep. The last few days have stumped him – more snow than he has ever seen in his life and bitter cold. Today he started figuring things out, his dedication and focus is always an inspiration to me. I gave him the "away" common and he started plowing a trail through the snow, you can see the one he made a few minutes earlier when he was on the other side of the sheep and I told him to "come bye."

In a day or so, there will be Red trails everywhere, and this was not light snow, it was hard and compact from the cold. Red does not let much stop him.

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Red’s Comeback

Red's Comeback

Red's Comeback

For the last day or so, Red was stymied by the cold and the snow, the drifts were so deep and the paths shrouded by five or six feet of snow, he couldn't see the sheep or figure out how to get to them. He figured it out today when sub-zero temperatures – it was – 22 in the pasture this morning – hardened the snow a bit. Yesterday Red tried to climb on the snow and fell in, today he tried again and startled the sheep by leaping onto the drift between the hay feeder and the pole barn.

Red has figured it out.

Posted in General