Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sorry for the hiatus

Killing time until I have to leave for my poetry final. I have the portfolio done, finished yesterday and this morning, and just have to read my work to the class. Nothing too stressful. Figured I better get an entry in before I need to start studying for my anthropology final. I’ve had a handful of cumulative finals and of course one of them is my last semester.

On the farm over the last couple days, fighting with fence and cows that plotted a prison break, along with a barn door blown off and hitting myself in the mouth with the fencing tool, has kept me pretty busy. Yesterday, I FINALLY finished my poetry portfolio and celebrated by watching a movie with Joe. Didn’t get hardly anything else accomplished, besides laundry, dishes, made chicken broth, and exercised. It was an unproductive Monday, especially considering how I started it, full of ambition and drive. It’s funny how some days turn out like that. I mean, it wasn’t a bad day. I got to spend time with and talk to friends and, better yet, eat some awesome pizza.

I finished reading Bleak House a couple days ago. YEY! Good book, just a long one, especially at only 25 pages a day. But I got through it in two or three months, so I feel pretty good about it. I’ve been slaving though A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. I like the book, its just not a quick read for me. The True History of the Kelly Gang, on the other hand, I read in two days and other people have said it’s a slow read. What’s good for the goose, I guess.

Poetry month is almost over, but I think I’m going to continue on with the project. Not just writing poems, but concentrating on one genre of writing over another for a particular month. Of course, that idea would probably work better if I could ever sit down and edit Taylor. I will as soon as I get these finals behind me, I think. Speaking of which, I better get my butt going. Wish me luck! Graduation here I come!!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Michigan's two seasons, winter and fence repair

We had a prison break the night before last: my eighteen head cow herd decided they wanted grass and moved themselves across the road to their summer pasture, without leaving so much as a whole pile of poop in my grandma’s yard. Only two calves didn’t make it across and all I had to do was drop the temporary fence and shoo them across.

I spent the rest of the day (with beautiful weather, 75 degrees and 14% humidity, I might add) out repairing a bullshit mickey mouse fence. Dad said we’re holding cattle in with a piece of electric yarn and a prayer, heavy on the prayer.

Got a call mid-afternoon from neighbors almost five miles away saying they had cows out and were they ours? I got my butt down there but luckily it was someone else’s steers. That made me happy because the whole way there, I’m going “how in the hell will I get these cattle home? Horse? Trailer? What?” Thankfully, I didn’t have to and thirty minutes after Dad got home, we had electricity to the fence. And even got treated to dinner out.

The worst day farming remains better than the best day at college, I am convinced.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shit shit shit

Can anyone spell burn-out? Okay, guess I can. The end of college is one project and one cumulative exam away. Just a little pressure there. I just want it to be over, finally. At one point, I thought I’d be done with college before I turned 21, but things go as things go, I’m 22 and almost finished. I guess that isn’t so off-base. After all, since I graduated high school a year early, I figured college could take an extra year.

Got a good night’s sleep last night (normal hours finally!) and I’m excited to go today. Missed my workout yesterday too, so doubling up today also. Get to do a little work on the farm, some outdoor stuff, deal with the farrier when he comes to trim horses, and write. There is just some kind of peace within myself knowing that I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, so long as I’m productive, today. No crazy school schedule, nothing immediately due and pressing on me. It’s summer, so there is work and late nights in the field, or at the computer desk, whatever I choose. It seems that there are so few times in life when we actually get to decide things for ourselves. I find it vastly enjoyable when I can. Especially with Zip laying on my foot in the meantime.

And oh fuck gram just called and said cows are out from one side of the farm to the other. I wish she'd call me with good news once in a while. URG!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happiness is a Warm Puppy

It’s one of those cool, early summer mornings where we’ve left the windows open all night so the house is cool and its absolute bliss to bury my feet under the dog’s belly.

Finally got through one of my remaining projects yesterday. Score! So there’s just three left, one being a quiz today. The count down is on! Actually, I better go study for the countdown. Just taking a moment in the midst of chaos to remind that happiness really is a warm puppy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another Sunny Sunday

A beautiful Michigan summer day today, aside from the insane, kamikaze flies and gnats already eating the cows’ and horses’ ears raw. Dad and I went riding, repairing high tinsel fence, and taking survey of winter damages that need addressed in these few weeks before we go to grass. I’m not sure the cows will be able to wait. They’re already pushing fences and we have about five round bales left. Lean winters, my ass, the worst times are between the thaw and the month before going to grass.

I finally realized that the block I’ve been bitching about is related to school more than anything else. Two portfolios, one quiz, and one cumulative exam stand between me and ESCAPE! And because I’m so keyed up trying to get the shit knocked out, and really don’t want to deal with them at all, I think it’s blocking everything else. Made a lot of progress tonight though and will probably get the rest done tomorrow (yes, I am one of those annoying students asking to hand their finals in early, at least in this class for this semester). But knowing that sure makes me feel better, that I will work through this mini-crisis.

I’m looking very forward to getting through the next couple days so I can get on to more important things, namely servicing the lawn mower and fixing fence, as well as barn repairs and cleaning that desperately need attending to. This damn college thing is really getting in the way of my farming habit. You farm kids know what I’m sayin’.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My puppy and ponies

One word for you: Procrastinating. Here are some pictures that always make me feel better though. Zip is a little shy of having his picture taken. He's also never sure which is his good side. :-P

Iris (the black horse) is blind, but the other horses are usually there to help her out. Sonny (the paint) is my horse. Very very fast and very very tall. And I am rather short. You do the math.

Blockages? Or bordom?

I have worked really hard not be one of those writers who claims writer’s block and has to retire to a dark room with a cold washcloth and a pint of every girl’s ideal threesome – Ben and Jerry. But some days, words on certain projects just come easier than others. And today with two essays on my own work staring me in the face, I find myself ready to go and redo the two-hour workout I just finished in order to avoid the dreaded blinking cursor.

I’ve tried all my usual tricks: switch between projects, change up the music, take a walk, doing laundry and dishes, and just flat tying myself to the laptop, but nothing seems to work for this. I need to just suck it up and write, but it is so much easier to find ways not to. Like pounding my head against the wall. That sounds like a lot more fun than writing four pages on the experience of working under this poet. But it is a learning curve. Life is all about knocking out the shit you don’t fucking wanna do, but doing it anyway to get to the fun stuff. I did the fun stuff first today (if you can count reading 25 pages of Bleak House, followed by a 30 minute walk and 90 minutes of weight training as fun) and now am shoveling the shit I’ve let pile up. It would be so much more fun if the shit were literal rather than proverbial. Oh well. We can’t always have that much fun out in the barn.


Cheers! ~Ax~

Friday, April 18, 2008


Hurrah! I can upload photos!
Anyway, here's my baby boy, Zip, hard at work.
This is January 2007. I really need to take new pics.

The Suicidal Ewe and Other Stories

I’m sick of summer all ready and we’ve had, what? three days of it? All I know is that if the humidity makes my hair curl any tighter, it may result in brain damage.
All right, got the bitchin’ out of the way. It’s a long entry today to catch up my pages count, so my apologies to those suffering through tales of farm life and college.
The blog, and all my writing projects, kind of got set aside this week. Tuesday I had a long school day, but I got through the last presentation I had to give as an undergrad. YEY! Wednesday I spent on a roof with Bruce (don’t even ask), and yesterday I had school again, came home, ate, sat down to read, and slept from 4 in the afternoon until about 6 when Dad called. Think I might be a little tired? Zip was mad at me. He’d been in the house for a couple three days and would have rather gone for a run than napped with me. But the raccoons in the trees outside kept him busy whining while I slept, so we both were happy(ish). Right now, he’s sleeping under my desk, waiting for me to make a move, so he can go crazy about getting to go to the farm and maybe (gasp) play with the b-a-l-l. Yes, I am one of the people who has to spell in front on my dogs. Even the deaf one. Its more selective deafness in Max’s case. He can still hear me cooking and the infamous phrase “wanna go?” Eighteen years old, and the Old Man Max still totters to the car whenever he can.
I felt like a hero yesterday. I went down to the farm before school and the mama ewe had tangled herself in bale twine so badly she couldn’t escape and I had to cut her loose. She’d been there awhile and was extremely stressed. The twine had cut into her skin from her struggles and she’d finally quite fighting. I had to help her up too, which is extremely weird since she usually runs from me as far and fast as she can get. Her two lambs were as upset as she was too, which made me feel bad. But last night Dad said they were all right.
This morning, the cows had broken into the hay barn. I think they finally staged a mutiny. But Zip saved my ass and helped me chase everyone out and kept the out while I fixed gates. He also kept the steers off me and helped chase the sheep and horses out of the barn after graining. I love having a dog that works, but also knows when to get out of the way.
Zip took off when I started messing with the sheep, which was good. I got the ewe and lambs in, but the lambs escaped the pen and now can’t find their way back. I got too mad at the stupidity of ovine’s (fancy name for sheep) to keep chasing the little wench around and left her to what she would. I’m not that bad of a person, she’s still with the other sheep and the cows and horses, and she can find her way back to mom’s pen if she really puts her mind to it. But it is too damn hot and humid to chase lambs around this morning.
So now I can get to work writing. I have a scene, or rather a series of scenes, that have been bugging me to fix them the last few days, but by 11 p.m. I’ve been too tired to know my own name. Gotta love Friday as a catch up day. Still got pages for poetry class and poems to write for poetry month, as well as studying for an anthropology quiz and exam, laundry, dishes, library books, and work on Taylor. Not to mention the lambs and ewe. Ought to keep me out of trouble this weekend. Oh, except for the sex toy party with Jamie, my best friend, tomorrow night. That might get interesting… J Things tend to stay interesting when Jamie and I get together. Things tend to get lost and puked on too, but that’s another story.
p.s. I have no idea why this thing makes the text one big block. I've messed with it six ways from Sunday. So, apologies. ~Ax~

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dreaming on one hand while limping on one foot

The dog and I just got back from a run. Well, Zippy ran and I walked. I’m built more like a Russian beet farmer’s wife (long story) than a runner. Tried jogging a little today and got crippling stings down my left leg. Decided two things: 1) I’m too young for this, and 2) maybe I should walk back to the house.

Still fighting with the apprenticeship assignment today. Almost got it licked though, thankfully, since its due tomorrow. Still owe myself pages today, but figured I can cut down some since I wrote a page and a half for this poetry presentation. Also owe myself two poems.
Owing myself pages has actually turned out to be a very effective technique. I mean, right now, who in the hell besides me cares about what, or even if, I write at all? If I was smart I’d just go get a job with the state and never look back. But I’m always saying how I’m not that smart and this writing / farming habit proves it, I think.

Oh, and check out Pretty cool music. I’m kinda stealing from Laurell K. Hamilton’s blog today (see, but I figure it never hurts to plug someone who is out there making their dreams happen.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Change of Tunes

I’m working on my apprenticeship project again today and am no further along than when I started. Frustration levels have risen to the point that I’ve moved from hip-hop and rap, to Breaking Benjamin, Buckcherry, and Hinder. Since music reflects my mood, that means I have moved from relaxed but sexually frustrated into just flat pissy.

It’s easy to read authors and take from their work on a…I guess it’s a spiritual level, but it’s a helluva lot more difficult to write a 7-10 minute presentation on it. And it is unfailingly ironic that the authors and poets we admire most are the ones who don’t conform to an ideal and those are the ones we are encouraged to imitate. I can see the sense in it to a point, but at some point isn’t it more necessary to write what is in your heart? I know, I know, gotta crawl before you walk and gotta read and comprehend the greats before you can become one. Just sometimes I’d really rather write what I want and not what is assigned. Chalk it all up to senioritis, old girl, and suck it up. Only six more class days until graduation after all, and that includes finals. I can suck it up for that long.

Have a happy and relaxing Sunday everyone, because the theme of mine is turning into something along the lines of “Crazy Bitch” and “the sex is so much better when you’re mad at me.” (Buckcherry; Hinder’s “Get Stoned.")

Friday, April 11, 2008

Don't like the weather? Wait five minutes...

I must say that the weather in Michigan never fails to astound me. An hour or so ago, the sun was shining like a beautiful summer day, then the wind picked up, it hauled ass off and rained like crazy for a few minutes, tossed down hail (yes, hail!), and all the while the sun shone! Now its back to looking as if the day never heard of a thunderstorm. Craziness. Even crazier, I still love living here. But I love my blue heeler too, and they say only crazy women love heelers, so there you go.

Had to move operations to the kitchen to keep from throwing things in my office/ bedroom/ workout room. Just got that claustrophobic. I'm working on my apprenticeship project for my poetry class today. Trying to. It’s making me nuts. I even had to print out the assignment and cut all the poems apart to get them in the order I needed them. Needed a major visual. But I think I got it (mostly) together, so yay! me.

Other than watching the clouds blow around and keep an eye on the old dog, who got wet and cold when I forgot to bring him in when it started raining (whoops!), just a day for research on the novel and organizing things again. Hope someone else had a more exciting and productive day. :-)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Writing and Michigan Basements

Okay, I lied. "Men in Trees" wasn’t on last night, but it is still scheduled for Wednesdays at 10 p.m. I don’t do reality shows, but a woman going to the Alaskan wilderness (for all its craziness) is a little more up my alley.

Played hooky from school today to stay home and write. Spent a lot of time on poems and not a lot of time with Taylor, a character I’ve been spending a lot of time with the past few months. Late nights with Taylor and her friends talking to me have been some of the most fulfilling of my life (and yeah, I know how delusional that sounds, I’m a writer and not the first one to say they hear characters talking). There is just something incredibly comforting about the hurries and flurries of the day being over, being in my jammies, a cup of green tea (or whisky, depending on the day), and just writing down the stories that float around in my head like moths all day long. Snatches of dialogue, looks and feelings. This story that is mine, but exists somewhere beside, somewhere apart from me. I suppose that is why our stories are like children, they begin as part of us, but eventually we do not know them at all, looking up one day and wondering how they got so tall and strong all on their own. When did that mole get there and where did that scar come from? It grows out and apart from you.

It rained a lot today, on another note. And is supposed to rain more tomorrow. We’re not sure where it is going to go with all the moisture all ready, but it always finds someplace. Dad is working tonight on getting the basement subpump to work so we can start pulling water out of the basement. Michigan basements, gotta love ‘em.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Starting a Freelance Writing Business

Today was another personal lesson in self-education. And just so y’all know, I had no intention of this self-education idea taking on a life of its own. It was meant to be an essay-style format, in three installments. Well, like so many things in life… That. Didn’t. Happen. Deal with it, I guess.

So anyway, today involved learning how to start a small business. I’m putting together a freelance writing business over the next few months and am trying this self-employment thing, since I’m not the type for corporate America, at least on the every day nine-to-five level. Some day I may change my mind, but for now I prefer to see what other options are available. So today I spent a large portion of the day in a crash course, learning the basics of starting and running a business. I’m currently putting together a business plan that outlines the services I will offer, namely copywriting, proofreading, resume writing, press releases and media packages. If anyone has any work in that vein, like, say, your business needs web content, please let me know. :-)

Other thoughts for the day concern the bleakness of a Dickens’ novel still before me (375 pages into Bleak House, only 500 pages to go!) and mulling over balance sheets and Lorca’s “Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias.” Oh, and Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes completely rocked! Everyone remember to catch “Men in Trees” tonight. And have a good one.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


This isn't exactly related to educating yourself, but it could be if I argued that I have an ongoing, low-level interest in mythology and religion. So here's a link to Bertrand Russell's article on agnosticism.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Self-education and Taxes

My day emphasized the topic I’d already intended for the blog to this week: educating yourself. First of all, its tax season (and only accountants are going YIPPEE!). We farm so it gets a little hairy. And we don’t always have the best comprehension.

So why, you are asking yourself, is this chick talking about taxes when she said this was about education? Answer: in order to explain why educating yourself is so important.

But, in order to do that, I’m going to give a little background about myself.

From the fifth grade, I was homeschooled. Not for religious reasons or anything, but because I was a motivated, driven student who wasn’t challenged. (They should have taught us tax laws between naptime and lunch… grumble, grumble.)

Anyway, I learned about educating myself, not because I had to, because I wanted to. I spent hours pouring over encyclopedias, drinking in new information.

Flash forward and you find a blonde girl at college who is absolutely astounded that other students don’t crave knowledge like that. While I’m not a complete nerd, I do have my less-than-cool tendencies, like going on and on… and on… about this or that author who did xyz in whatever century. Not many people in my life care. But I do. The process of learning is good for me.

Getting back to income taxes, I’ve had to seek out a great deal of information, from people and places, in order to help this year. It may not be fun or pleasurable (and sometimes down right painful), but necessary. And this becomes another lesson: educating yourself is a lifelong commitment that shouldn’t end until you’re dead. Because, I think, when you quit learning, exploring, and being curious, life isn’t much fun, no matter how much is left.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Horseback riding and Jane Austen

Dad and I rode horses tonight, fixed fence, and drank beers, all at the same time. Hey, we needed a break from helping my grandmother with her income taxes. This time of year is yet another point where I really miss my grandfather. He had the head for numbers in this family and the attitude to get it done.

A beautiful Michigan weekend. I wish that I hadn't had to spend most of it inside with writing and work, but so it is. And so we get to Sunday night and I'm parked at my desk again, counting pages, and watching Masterpiece Theater, the Complete Jane Austen. I especially loved the episode of “Miss Austen Regrets,” for reasons that I will not go into, except to say the part with the servant telling Jane how her writing makes those very settled in life remember what love was like touched me deeply.

Started Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes today. A hundred pages in and I’m addicted. Can’t wait to see what happens next and can’t believe I haven’t found this author sooner.

Nothing much else to bore people with tonight. Just updating while I keep working on the entries I hope to post later in the week, probably in installments. So check in this week for more info!

And have a good evening.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring is here... yey? (I think)

It actually feels like spring today, complete with heat from the sun, how ‘bout that? I can’t decide if that makes me happy or sad because I’m crazy and actually like snow.

Except for this winter. This winter was just shit all winter long.

Spring also gets me down because all the repairs become loudly apparent. Buildings and fences need repaired, horses shed like… I don’t even know what, they just shed bad, limbs in the yard need picked up, dogs track mud absolutely everywhere… and all the cleaning and maintenance just kind of defeat my enthusiasm for warmer weather.

On another note, been doing a whole lot of reading the last few months. Most of the books have been in genres or by authors I’ve never read much of before. Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series has been the most fun. So have Diana Gabaldon’s books, Drums of Autumn, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, and Lord John and the Private Matter. I started Charles Dickens’ Bleak House the other day and have been reading Jim Harrison, both poetry and some fiction, for my apprenticeship project in my poetry class.

We studied Federico Garcia Lorca in poetry class yesterday and he has been one of the few poets I’ve encountered lately who I can honestly say blows my mind. He can do so much with words in such a short span that it’s just beautiful. An interesting thing about that is how familiar his poems seemed, despite being Spanish. I guess there is just that much Spanish influence in American cowboy culture.

The last few books I’ve tackled were Bill Bryen’s Shakespeare and Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money. See? I am expanding my horizons from classic literature, westerns, and fantasy. A little bit.

Happy days to all (and I even feel less gloomy than when I started this post).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April is poetry month

Today kicks off the first day of poetry month. So lets hear for the form that everybody can write and no body understands! Here's a poem to start the month on (not one of mine, thank goodness). And for those who would like to, post your own poems, your own or those of your favorite poet, hell, even the ones you don't get (maybe someone else will and can explain it...or can at least suggest some good Cliff Notes on it).

W. S. Merwin
My friend says I was not a good son
you understand
I say yes I understand
he says I did not go
to see my parents very often you know
and I say yes I know

even when I was living in the same city he says
maybe I would go there once
a month or maybe even less
I say oh yes

he says the last time I went to see my father
I say the last time I saw my father

he says the last time I saw my father
he was asking me about my life
how I was making out and he
went into the next room
to get something to give me

oh I say
feeling again the cold
of my father's hand the last time
he says and my father turned
in the doorway and saw me
look at my wristwatch and he
said you know I would like you to stay
and talk with me

oh yes I say

but if you are busy he said
I don't want you to feel that you
have to
just because I'm here

I say nothing

he says my father
said maybe
you have important work you are doing
or maybe you should be seeing
somebody I don't want to keep you

I look out the window
my friend is older than I am
he says and I told my father it was so
and I got up and left him then
you know
though there was nowhere I had to go
and nothing I had to do
From Opening the Hand, by W. S. Merwin, published by Atheneum. Copyright © 1983 by W. S. Merwin.