Walking Toward the Unknown

The beautiful feather I found on my walk

The beautiful feather I found on my walk

It was excessively humid yesterday. I took Jazzmin for a short walk in the morning and while it was cool, the air was far too thick with humidity to be comfortable. The air was even hotter and heavier by our evening walk and the moment I stepped out onto the road and felt the heat radiating off the pavement, I decided we’d walk up the farmer’s access road. I knew it wouldn’t be much cooler but the ground is more grass and dirt and the trees lining it provide shade.

Jazzmin is always very excited on the access road because she can smell the deer that frequently travel along it. There’s also no shortage of birds, chipmunks, squirrels and bunnies that like to make the occasional appearance. We made it along the straight part of the path without any major issues and I was quite ready to go home and shower the sweat off! I turned us back around and we started our return trip. I then heard an unfamiliar noise that made me stop.

The noise was coming from the long grove of trees that lay just beyond where the curve in the road starts. It sounded like a crow call but deeper and more ominous than I’d heard before, almost like a bark. Curious, I walked toward the noise wanting to know exactly what animal was making it and why. I suppose there are people who would turn and run from such a haunting sound but I’ve learned that walking toward the unknown can reveal amazing discoveries.

Getting closer to the origin of the noise meant walking off the access road and into the farmer’s recently mowed field. The ground was still a bit soggy from recent rain and all the humidity so Jazz and I had to navigate around a few puddles. Following the continuing noise, I charged on through the field and a few moments later a red-tailed hawk flew out of the trees and to a spot further down in the grove. I love hawks and feel they are a very positive sign and symbol, so whenever I see them I smile. I continued walking toward the small pond in that field and the hawk appeared again, this time flying across the field to a thicker forest of trees. A crow then emerged from the trees near us and followed the hawk across the field where it started making unhappy noises that were more familiar to me. The noise I’d heard was in fact a crow being rather upset that a hawk was near something important to it, a nest or some fallen prey perhaps.

Satisfied that I’d solved that mystery, I led Jazz back toward the road. As we walked along the tree line I saw some fallen branches and I approached them hoping maybe we’d find a deer antler. I didn’t find a deer antler but I did find a rather beautiful feather. I picked it up and was in awe of how it’s copper color reflected the light. I collect feathers and that feather was certainly the largest and nicest I’ve found yet. I didn’t want to put it into Jazz’s backpack and risk damaging it so I tucked it into the top of my ponytail where I knew it’d be safe. If I’d encountered anyone on that walk back they would have probably done a doubletake seeing a feather protruding from my hair.

Proud of my discoveries and my little treasure, I walked Jazzmin back home. Once in the house, I tucked the feather into a spot on my desk-side cork board and then happily showered to feel human again. After my shower I powered up my computer and began searching through images of bird feathers trying to figure out what I’d found. I ruled out red-tailed hawk and owl but among the random images I found an exact match. Clicking on the image I read that it was a wild turkey feather. Sure enough, when I went to the full website, there were more examples of turkey feathers and what I had found matched exactly. I was so happy I’d figured it out! It was fascinating to me that such a beautiful feather could come from creatures that look less than graceful when they attempt to fly.

Once again I learned something new by walking toward the unknown. Nature showed me that being brave brings unique gifts and that sometimes the most beautiful things can come from the most unexpected sources.

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Jukebox Jazzmin and the Snake Saver!

View of the moon during one of our walks

View of the moon during one of our walks

Even with a pup as energetic as my Jazzmin, it can be difficult to find the motivation to go out and walk when it’s 80+ degrees out. When it was a bit cooler last week I had no trouble at all taking Jazz for two walks a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening. In the heat and humidity, my enthusiasm wains. Jazz is really good at giving me the puppy dog eyes to guilt me into walking but considering she does that even after I’ve taken her on two nice, long walks, the power of those pathetic brown eyes diminishes.

It’s then up to me to find some other good motivation to get my rear in gear. That’s where music comes in. Before I adopted Jazz, I’d always listen to music on my walks with one earbud in. I stopped doing that though because even one earbud made it hard to hear traffic over hills. Last week I discovered the perfect solution: turn Jazzmin into a jukebox! No I didn’t equip her with tweeters and subwoofers (haha, doggy humor there) or use duct tape to strap a boombox on her back. Instead, I tucked my phone into the top section of her backpack and played my music through its little speaker. It works amazingly well and gives Jazz and I a great, upbeat tempo to walk to!

Jazzmin with my phone tucked into her backpack

Jazzmin with my phone tucked into her backpack

My favorite genres of music lately are Reggaeton and Latin pop. I imagine my country neighbors find it peculiar hearing Spanish singers blasting from the back of my dog, but oh well. On our walk last night, we turned a corner just as a car pulled up to the intersection. I had my back to the intersection but I heard the car pull away strangely slowly so I turned around to find the young male teenage driver staring at us out his open window as he drove down the road. He really wasn’t looking where he was going so he was obviously highly curious. I rolled my eyes in amusement and turned back around to continue our walk. My country neighborhood just isn’t equipped to deal with unique ladies like Jazz and I.

Jazz and I also did a bit of animal rescue last night on our walk. Apparently it’s the time of year for snakes to cross the road as I’d found the remains of one on our previous walk. I like snakes, especially the one living near my shed that I’ve named Jammy. The dead snake I’d seen in the road was a smaller version of Jammy so seeing that had made me sad. Thankfully last night I was given a chance to save another snake from the same fate. This little guy was almost to the middle of the road so I stepped up slowly to him and coached him across the road. I’m sure he was scared of me but I’d much rather scare him across the road than have him end up under the tires of a car. I even manged to catch our rescue on video! Don’t watch it if you’re not fond of snakes because it’ll probably make you twitch.

As you can see, our walk adventures are never-ending! We walk the same roads but there’s always something new to see. I truly enjoy having the time to savor it all now and despite her attempts to convince others how neglected she is, I know Jazzmin is loving the extra walks!

My crazy dream/goal

View of the blue moon on 8/20/13 from Rye, NH

View of the blue moon on 8/20/13 from Rye, NH

I spend most of my days writing articles I can never take credit for but I find fulfillment in it. It’s helping me pursue my own dreams instead of working for someone else who may or may not even have a dream worth pursuing. Obviously I’m not doing this kind of writing for fame and fortune since no one knows it’s me and I only get paid pennies a word. It’s part of a bigger picture, a long-term goal, an achievement of a dream that started almost two years ago during my first visit to Massachusetts.

My crazy dream/goal is to live in Massachusetts for five days a week every other week. This sort of schedule wouldn’t interfere with the custody arrangements I have for my girls and it would grant me an escape into the state I love a couple of times a month. Now that I’ve stayed just over the border in New Hampshire, I would be okay living there but I would always be “border jumping” a few minutes south into Massachusetts.

The loftiest realization of this dream would be somehow having enough money to afford a house in the North Shore area. Having looked into the prices of homes in that area, that would require me coming into substantial funds, ie becoming a best-selling author. That is also a dream of mine, so that lofty success isn’t out of the question, but at my core I am a simple woman with simple needs. All I require is a bed to sleep in, a bathroom, a kitchen to cook, bake and endlessly experiment in, and room for Jazzmin and her crate and I will be content. I’ve looked into apartments in the area but they too are far outside my means. So for now I’ll continue to book a cheap hotel room every couple of months and drive out.

This might sound like a peculiar dream for a girl who was born and raised in Upstate New York. Why am I not content where I am? I am to an extent. My girls are here and they fulfill me in ways nothing else ever can but as I’ve said on numerous occasions, I don’t fit in here. Following my divorce, I’ve felt even more like the off-colored sheep that doesn’t belong with the rest of the flock. When I go to Massachusetts, none of my past follows me because all anyone sees is the present me, the optimistic me, the me who gets happily lost wherever she goes and can’t navigate traffic circles or roundabouts worth a darn.

When I achieve my MA dream (that’s right I said WHEN) I will continue to pursue the rest of my dreams just as I do now. I have accomplished so much already, more than I ever imagined I could. I continually prove to myself that making any dream come true is within my means as long as I am persistent and forever stubbornly determined…in my usual adorably clumsy way.

Reconnecting and Revisiting

I haven’t created a new painting in quite some time. I’ve been busy juggling so many things at once that I haven’t had time to express that part of my artistic side. I had a little free time yesterday evening so I decided I’d finally get my paints out, reconnect with my creativity and give it a go. I’ve been wanting to paint pictures based on the photos I took of Amesbury and Newburyport during my recent visit in June so that’s exactly what I did.

I pulled up some of the photos I took around town in Amesbury and settled on one of the fountain outside the Amesbury Library. I took it on a rather dreary, drizzling morning but it’s lovely even in that light. I decided to interpret it as a tree because painting realistic things isn’t my strong point. I took the basic shape and style of it and “branched out” as it were. I then decided it needed some different colors so I tied in the colors from the beautiful hydrangea blooms I saw walking around Amesbury.

Amesbury Library fountain

Amesbury Library fountain

Lovely hydrangeas in Amesbury

Lovely hydrangeas in Amesbury

I’m biased of course, but I rather like it. I wanted it to be more vibrant but it turned out rather muted. I can always try again. I’ve never actually done the same type of painting so perhaps it’s time.

Flowing Inspiration - created 8/11/13

Flowing Inspiration – created 8/11/13

I’m going to try to do some more paintings based on my photos from Amesbury and Newburyport because I’ll be visiting there with my daughters and mother during our upcoming trip that starts this Saturday. I enjoyed my stay at the Fairfield Inn in Amesbury but they’re out of my budget for this trip so I’m taking everyone up into New Hampshire to stay. The hotel is just a short way over the border and we’ll be traveling down into Boston one of the days. I’m eager to show my family everything I’ve seen in Boston and we’re all going on our first whale watch! We’re also going to the aquarium because I promised my girls two things. Jordan wanted to see the aquarium and Jaycie wanted to go on a boat. Check and check!

After our Boston visit, the rest of our time will be spent exploring the New Hampshire area near the hotel and of course, Amesbury and Newburyport. I’m glad I’ve been to those two neighboring towns enough to know my way around now. I’m eager to see everywhere I’ve been through my daughters’ eyes and get their impressions on things. What they love might be totally different from what I love. We’re going to venture down to Plum Island beach to play in the sand and waves and travel wherever else our fancy takes us. It will be a grand adventure and only my second non-solo road trip to Massachusetts and points beyond. I can’t wait!

A Creative Spirit

Jordan unwrapping her birthday cupcake

Jordan unwrapping her birthday cupcake

Today is my oldest daughter’s eleventh birthday. As difficult as it was to comprehend my youngest turning seven, it’s even harder to accept that Jordan is now eleven! She’s starting sixth grade in September which really doesn’t seem possible.

I remember the day Jordan was born. We hadn’t wanted to find out the gender but I really wanted a girl so when the doctor said I had a girl, I was ecstatic! She had a full head of soft, dark hair and looked like a little me. As she’s grown up, she resembles me both in appearance and personality. She and I are very similar and can butt heads now and then. I have the final say as the mother though. I want her to also see me as a friend but being her mother always comes first.

Jordan has more artistic talent than I did at her age, than I do now in fact. She’s able to draw people far better than I can. She’s a writer too and she’s really good at putting humor into some of her stories. I read her stuff and it makes me laugh and as that was her intention, she smiles. She is an amazing older sister to Jaycie and the two play wonderfully together!

Jordan reading her new pony book and Jaycie listening intently

Jordan reading her new pony book and Jaycie listening intently

Jordan can be rather shy just like I was and still am at times. It takes her a while to come out of her shell but once she does, she shines brighter than morning sunlight. She’s doing exceptionally well in school and her teachers love her, she’s even tutored other students on occasion. I know she will achieve whatever she puts her mind to!

Jordan working on one of her stories

Jordan working on one of her stories

Being the mother of such an intelligent and beautiful girl is an amazing gift. It also brings with it a lot of motherly worries. I know how mean boys and other girls can be when they reach a certain age and I hate the idea of her being picked on like I was. I feel I am better equipped to deal with any problems that arise now that I’m working from home. The school is less than five minutes from my house so if something is amiss, I’ll be down there so fast heads will spin!

Jordan with some of her artwork on display at school

Jordan with some of her artwork on display at school

I have faith that Jordan will choose a new and amazing path for herself and explore her full potential. I try very hard to be a good role model. I hope that seeing me own and maintain my own home and solve my problems on my own shows her that women are capable of anything! My baby Jordan is meant to stand confidently on her own two feet and make her own way in this world. Her loving mama will always have her back though.

Below is a gallery of drawings Jordan created using my pen and tablet in Paint. They’re her “anime” interpretations of the three of us.