Thursday, December 24, 2009








May your holiday season be beautiful and bright, and may all your holiday wishes come true!

Click on photos to see larger:-) Most of these photos were taken 12/24/09, on an unexpected but terrific trip to Kings Canyon National Park! Ornaments courtesy of Lowe’s;-)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hope Holding

You see into our souls,
Your gaze steady but unsure…
Friend or foe, you wonder,
As you prepare to flee.

You have no reason to trust,
Few two-leggeds are ever kind.
Being shouted at, dodging flying rocks -
That’s what you’ve come to expect.

Your body remains tense,
Your stare is oh-so wary,
Yet we see it in your eyes,
The smallest glimmer of hope.

Speaking softly, we retreat,
“It’s okay, just wait, it’s okay…”
We implore you stay,
While we run back inside.

We whip out what we have,
We hope it’s enough,
Cross our fingers,
Dash back out…

And there you are!
Our hearts lift a little
To see that you stayed –
That you still had hope.

Ribs sticking out,
Spine all bumpy,
You had no choice
But to wait.

To hope this time
It would be different –
This time,
Someone would care.

You ate as fast as you could,
Afraid someone would take it,
Afraid it still might be a trick.
You glance up again…

Our eyes meet, our souls touch,
In that instant
We connect
And then you are gone…


Above are some of the faces my mom and I have fed (please click on photos for larger versions). There is a huge stray problem in this part of central California, and the shelters are all seriously overcrowded. The Shepherd and Heeler mixes above came through with the Heeler’s mom January through maybe March of this year, and then disappeared (more info here: Stray Story). They just reappeared, minus the mom. We were shocked! We are on the other side of an almost six foot wall, so have only ever been able to throw food to them (thank goodness we have a step to see over the wall). They’re very leery, though the missing mom had been trained. The pup is old enough to have come into season, and so picked up these pits. The three males have all obviously been fighting. The red male’s face was so swollen, he couldn’t eat hard food. Both pits have mange, which I know is common in the breed, and they’re very thin. Think they’re living off hormones…

The cats are just a few of the strays we’ve seen in our park here. A neighbor told us that someone here only likes kittens, and tosses them out when they get too old. The little furry one is a total sweetheart, and has had the most socialization. We used to see her running around hunting lizards, and she was soooo skinny (too many lizards are bad for cats)! She finally caught sight of us, and started getting regular food. She disappeared for a while, so we thought maybe she’d been reclaimed. However, she’s been back for a couple of weeks now…

The black and white cat is a male, and needs to be trapped and neutered – which we’ll have to figure out. Supposedly, the SPCA helps, but they’re a ways away, and we can’t live trap here. We have nowhere to put an animal recovering from surgery, either. So, for now, he’s become comfortable enough to eat here, and looks so much better than he did! This photo was taken through my bedroom window. I’ve been able to briefly touch him, but he will hiss at me. He’s not a true feral, but is not comfortable around humans anymore, and runs away quickly.

“Ears” is the third cat to overcome her fear of humans in order to eat. The male actually showed up with her one night. She appears to be heavily pregnant. She also has ear issues. Whether her ears are genetically folded, or are like that from infection, we don’t know. She has sores behind them from scratching so hard, though, so they’re not normal. I’ve been able to very lightly pet her, and she sort of welcomes it and sort of doesn’t. Meaning I don’t quite trust her not to turn around and get me – she’s got a little of that vibe;-) Treating a cat with an ear problem is hard enough when they are tame… However, I hope we can get to where we can put some ointment on them. As for pregnancy, we’ll cross that hurdle when we get to it…

If we were able to round these animals up and take them to the shelter, they would not be adopted. They would simply be euthanized because in this over-populated world, there isn’t much room for unsocial animals. I believe with time, the cats could all be handled and would crave affection. Most shelters don’t have that time, though. As mentioned, the one kitty is sweet, but she still needs to be tested for FeLV and FIV…

So is this life better than death? I don’t know. All I know is that we’re here, and they’re here, so we’ll do the best we can. My mom said this today, when we were trying to decide about feeding all four dogs (because we could get in trouble here for encouraging them to be around): “I don’t want the reason that they died to be that we didn’t feed them when we were able to do so.” And so we will…

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Journey through Autumn

Now that the weather's cooler, we've started taking our drives again, yay! It truly is the one thing we’ve come to love doing here. While central California may not get fall colors quite as abundantly as other areas, we do get some color and it’s beautiful! As well, there are lots of other little surprises we find on our drives. I thought I’d share a collection of recent images, and take you along on a drive with us. Fasten your seatbelts!

"The Heart of Autumn", taken on a recent trip to Sequoia National Park. Just a little color to get us started...

"Tattered", a California Sister Butterfly, also taken at Sequoia National Park. The bottom wings are tattered and torn, but this little butterfly kept on going:-)

"Walk this Way", Okay, I’m a big chicken when it comes to spiders, but I do find tarantulas fascinating. We also like to get them out of the middle of the road when it’s safe for us to do so. Actually, I make my mom do that part, lol! 40 years old, and I still want my mommy when it comes to spiders;-) Hey, I actually did kneel down in the road, and let this guy get pretty close so I could get this shot – very cool creature!

"From a Distance", American Goldfinch, taken up in the foothills. I was actually walking on the road after photographing the tarantula, because I'd been seeing a lot of birds in the oak trees. I saw this little gem, and got as close as I could. This is it, right before he left, and is as good as my 55-250mm IS lens could do – not too bad considering I was still a ways away.

"Ready, Set, Go!", This bluebird was the bird I was really trying to get closer when I spotted the Goldfinch in the last photo. I did a little better with this beauty, but you can see he was seconds away from leaving. There have been so many bluebirds up in the hills – just gorgeous!

"Waiter, there’s a fly…", Actually, I only wanted the leaves, but the fly landed, and made it more interesting, I think. This was also taken at Sequoia National Park.

"Nutty", Woodpeckers are one of the wiliest birds! Every time I think I’m going to catch one, he or she flies off the very second I’m ready to photograph. So, I was completely shocked that this one stayed, and I was able to snap some shots literally right out the car window. Granted, the bird was on the wrong side of the road for me, in the shade facing the sun, but I’m not going to complain. I’m just happy to have gotten this! In case you couldn’t guess, this is an Acorn Woodpecker;-)

This handsome roadrunner out in a fenced field was another bird on the wrong side of the road and light, and too far away. However, I couldn’t resist taking photos - they’re really fascinating birds! I almost had one in this next shot, except…

This roadrunner was also inside of the fence, and I was maneuvering to get him (as he was maneuvering to get away, lol!). As you can see, though, there was grass in front, and it wound up going across his body and blurring it. Also, his tail got chopped off. But, hey, at least I got a little catchlight in his eye, and closer than the last photo:-)

Some more beautiful leaves from our trip to Sequoia. I haven’t been able to come up with a title I like for this one – any suggestions?

A Red-shouldered Hawk, taken yesterday (11/24/09)!!! We were running errands, saw some pretty trees, went back to get my camera, and after shooting leaf photos, found this beauty! I was able to walk up pretty close, and get several shots – closest I’ve gotten to a hawk in the wild:-)

"California Gold", in closing, here are some fruit tree leaves from yesterday, too. Agriculture really is gold to this part of California, but one can only wonder what the ultimate price will be. That’s a post for another day;-)

In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey through fall. This is one of my favorite times of the year, and I’m blessed to have my camera to record it. All photos taken with a Canon Digital Rebel XT, and the 55-250mm IS lens.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy 50th, Arabian Horse World!


It’s been so long since I’ve added a new post that I’m almost embarrassed to come back. I’ve had several ideas running through my head, but always wind up procrastinating and putting off writing. However, I’m finally going with one of those ideas – the anniversary of a very special magazine.

While you might wonder how a magazine could tie into the other topics I’ve written about, I can honestly say that Arabian Horse World (AHW) has impacted my life more than any other magazine or literary creation. Recently, I had the chance to bring this glorious, slick celebration of the Arabian horse into my life again through an irresistible e-mail offer. Receiving that first issue brought back so many memories, and was a very emotional experience…

When we had to give up our horses in 2003, I had no reason or desire to have AHW in my life anymore. As the pain receded, though, I found myself drawn to their website from time to time. 22 years of devotion to the breed is hard to let go of. Though not actively involved, I still have my opinions; that fire that once consumed me still glows in the corner of my heart. So, while I didn’t have a really good reason to subscribe again, and there were other more logical ways to spend the money, I did it anyway. I’ll give some of the “credit” to my mom, who, when I told her about the offer, said that I’d better do it:-)

I’m sure this doesn’t sound like a big deal to you. After all, it is just a magazine. However, I spent a lot of years obsessed with AHW. And, um, obsessed is putting it mildly, lol!

We started subscribing in 1981, after we purchased Farrah, our mare. The first issue we received was June 1981, with the stallion *Serafix on the cover (Farrah’s grandsire). Keep in mind that I no longer have my collection, just my memories. We had no way to take it with us when we lost everything in Oregon, so all 20 some odd years minus one issue stayed in the garage of that rental home. Picture several hundred pounds of magazines carted with us through several moves prior to that point – obsession!

From that first issue, I was enthralled. I was only 12, but soon found an infinite number of ways to use AHW for educational purposes. No kidding! It started with finding out I had a photographic memory. One of my mom’s friends used to test me by showing photos on random pages and having me name all the horses. I rarely missed. AHW at that time was up to 500 pages a month, and double that for their stallion issue.

Being obsessed with both Arabian horses and Arabian Horse World, I started finding other ways to use the magazine to enhance my education. I was able to incorporate the magazine into almost every class all the way through high school. Science and math were the exceptions, and, notably, they were my least favorite subjects. I was even able to include it in my Spanish class – after all, there are Spanish Arabians:-) Almost everything I wrote was about horses, so English was a favorite subject:-)

Probably the best use of the magazine was for art. If you read this post: Horse a Day you’ll see that I draw horses. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember – I used to do horses in crayon. Once we started receiving AHW, I began drawing Arabians all the time. I did them for art class projects in high school. AHW was a constant source of artistic inspiration. Photographers like Sparagowski, Johnny Johnston, and Polly Knoll provided awe-inspiring images that I attempted to recreate. Of course, my drawings weren’t as good as the originals, but those photos pushed me to keep drawing and learning. When my favorite stallion, *Bandos, passed away, I sent a drawing I’d done from a Sparagowski photo to Ventura Farms (the ranch where Dynasty was filmed). I was overwhelmed on a visit one time to see that drawing in a glass case in their showroom. That was many years ago, but it was a fantastic feeling for an aspiring artist!

Disclaimer here: as an adult, I know that copying others’ photos is no longer okay, nor do I need to. As a kid, I didn’t have any idea, and it was a wonderful way to learn:-)

Arabian Horse World meant so much to me, and I couldn’t have imagined a better place to work. However, I had no idea as to how to get a job there. I was very fortunate that a breeder I’d worked for contacted them, and I was given an interview in 1988. I was hired for a job in the Art Department, though I had zero experience. However, not long after, both of the proof readers became ill, and I was promoted to that position. All those years of memorizing pedigrees had finally paid off!

However, I was only 19, and it was just too much. I was the only one proofing the entire monthly magazine of several hundred pages. If I didn’t catch an error in the beginning rounds, chances were that I wasn’t going to catch it at the end before it went to print. It was an extremely stressful environment. The management at that time was focused only on what we all did wrong each issue, never how well we did (when I say “we”, it was a group session to point out all errors). I know it’s easy to blame others, but it’s how it was – they weren’t bad people, just poor motivators. I was too inexperienced and too impatient to appreciate the long-term possibilities, so gave my notice after only about six months.

To date, my job at AHW is the only one I’ve ever wished I hadn’t given up on so quickly. It’s the one I’ve always wished I still had. My goal for many years was to make a positive difference to the Arabian horse. I wanted to be the next Gladys Brown Edwards, renowned Arabian horse artist and expert. I wanted to see my name in print (in fact, that was one of the biggest thrills while working there – seeing my name in the staff column, lol!).

Even after I quit, I remained obsessed with the magazine. When we first subscribed, it always arrived prior to the first of the month. As the years went on, though, the arrival date kept getting pushed out. Man, every day, I’d be at the mailbox, waiting. It got so bad, that I used to call and see when it had been mailed. Seriously. Just ask the ever-patient and wonderful Rhonda Hall, who I’ve pestered many times over the years. I’ve chilled some since then, Rhonda; I’m just so appreciative of having this new subscription.

I may have chilled, but I still write too much, don’t I? Wow, though, reading back over this and seeing how much AHW has been a part of my life! I certainly know I’m not the only one. For 50 years, AHW has been the foremost publication for Arabian horses. It has shaped the breed, and inspired all who are involved with Arabian horses. It has always striven to remain positive and show the best side of the breed – not an easy feat at times. Through all the ups and downs, Arabian Horse World has always been there. I hope that the next 50 years are even more exciting and inspiring – continuing to find new ways to honor the world’s oldest and most beautiful breed of horse!!!

P.S. Here’s a lovely video from Arabian Horse World’s site honoring their 50th: Anniversary

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sanity

Okay, it’s past time to put up some positive images on my blog! I shouldn’t have left it so long, but it was hard to think of what to do after that last post. I’m proud of what I wrote, but it definitely wasn’t the cheeriest of posts.

So, for this post, I’m going to put up some of my favorite images from the past year from the wonderful drives my mom and I have taken. Last October, when it had finally cooled down, we took a drive up into the foothills. This led to the discovery of a whole new world around us – the foothills are much more like the California we remember. It’s been wonderful to find the beauty and serenity that exists up there. It’s where we go to regain our sanity and perspective:-) We have a special road that we discovered, and there’s always something magical to see.

Right now, though, it’s been too hot, and everything’s dried out, so we haven’t gone for a while. However, I’ve taken so many photos, I can relive the experiences over and over. I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I do…

Getting started - the foothills, March, 2009

"Bird on a Wire" - Savannah Sparrow

"Poppies Poppin' Up!", March, 2009

"Golden Girl", June 2009

Lovely lone lupine, March 2009

"Just the Two of Us" - California Quail couple, March 2009

"Dare to be Different!", late March, 2009

"Moo-ther and Child" - Happier California Cows who get to be cows, Jan. 2009

"Reaching Out" - "Grass Nut" native wildflower, April 2009

"Ladybug Love" ;-) April, 2009

One of the absolute best-ever sightings - a bobcat! Late March, 2009

I hope you've enjoyed this little journey as much as I did:-) I have so many photos, it's hard to choose - these are some of my absolute favorites, though. That bobcat was spotted just as we rounded a corner. We stopped a little distance away, and I quietly opened my door, stretched around, and started shooting. S/he was still a little ways off, and didn't notice us for the longest time. It was quite an experience, and an honor. Nature is so amazing, and getting back to it feels soooo good!

More to come!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

California

I live in California. You know that ultra-progressive state that’s supposed to be way ahead of everyone else on environmental issues and regulations? At least, that’s where I thought I had moved to when we came to Central California in January 2008…

I’d been gone from California for 12 years when life unexpectedly paved the way for me and my mom to return to the Golden State. I’d grown up in the Bay Area, and had lived both further north and south in the state. My grandparents had lived in this area for 20 years. So, we knew Central Cali from visits. We didn’t really care for it, but didn’t know how messed up it was until we came to live here. Geographically, we’re south of Fresno and north of Visalia.

This area is touted as an agricultural wonderland, with a bounty of every fruit imaginable. Even better, all those “Happy California Cows” you see on TV? The very same Holstein cows live right here in this bountiful wonderland! Trust me, they are a sight to behold, and not because they live in lush green pastures and talk to cameras. Wait – here’s a photo I took last week as we were driving (CLICK on photos to enlarge them):



Yes, that’s a frequent sight around here. And another yes to that being a happy cow – she’s dead (not sleeping, really dead – she was still there on our return trip). I’m sure she’s at peace now, away from the filth, overcrowding, and repeated breedings of her ilk (and giving birth out in all that filth). Words cannot possibly do justice to the conditions these cows live in. Until you see these factory farms, you really can’t appreciate where your dairy products come from. Oh, and another horror we see regularly – tails chopped half off. Perhaps the tails get in the way of the milking equipment? However, that leaves these cows, who are standing in their own crap with almost no shelter (super high tin roofs, no sides), no way to fend off the flies that plague them. Thousands upon thousands of “Happy California Cows”… Got milk?

From happy cows we move on to California fruit – not the human kind;-) There’s an orange grove out back where we live, probably less than 100 feet away. It’s in the photo on the side of my blog titled “Golden State” (taken within days of moving here and not knowing anything about the area yet). It seemed so cool when we first moved here. The trees are a lot prettier to look at than the squash plants and such that I remember from our visits. In fact, we were awed by all of the orange groves now covering this area. What a huge crop! While I’ll admit that they are yummy, I will never feel as confident about eating these oranges as I first did.

I thought because they had peels, oranges were tough fruits and didn’t need spraying. Wow, was I ever wrong! I have never, ever seen anything that is sprayed as frequently as these trees out back. Seriously, it’s after midnight as I type this, and they are spraying for the third night in a row. Two nights ago, not knowing they were spraying – there’s never any warning – I was awakened at 4:00 a.m. to such strong toxic-smelling fumes that I thought something had happened to the house. I soon heard the amazingly loud roar of the sprayer tractor and realized it was the sweet scent of pesticides filling our home. While we do recall the spraying last year, we don’t recall it being at night. It’s bad enough during the day, but at least you have some warning and can shut your windows. While closing them doesn’t stop the fumes from coming in, it at least gives the illusion that it does.



We have no idea what they are spraying, only that it’s strong enough to cause headaches, sore throats, and nausea – and leave us wondering the long-term effects. I can’t imagine that it isn’t toxic. Even if it’s supposedly “safe”, nothing is good in that high of a dose. I really can’t imagine it’s that great for the trees, either. As an organic gardener, I’m still trying to puzzle out why any tree or plant needs such heavy spraying as these oranges – they were being sprayed at night last week as well. Gosh, judging by the hordes of insects that fly onto and into our home, I’m sure it’s doing a lot of good. More than anything, though, I wonder about the frequent sightings of Anna’s hummingbirds with various stages of deformed beaks. I have taken several photos, which I know are graphic. Hummingbirds are near and dear to my heart, and in all the places we’ve lived with them, we’ve never seen anything like this. It isn’t just one or two, it’s several. It starts on the beak and proceeds up the face, appearing to cause tumors around the eyes, too.



The hummingbirds live here year-round. They drink nectar from flowers. The many different fruit trees provide an abundance of flowers. Those flowers are all heavily sprayed. I don’t proclaim to be a scientist, and I obviously don’t know the cause of these horrific deformities. Yet, can we really ignore the possibility that these chemicals are doing serious damage? Obviously, around here, we can and we do. Agriculture is big business, and big business generally wins over anything else. Hurrah.



Forgive my sarcasm. However, I really believe this whole area is toxic. I’ve gone back and forth on writing this. I know that the above is not positive. If you follow my blog, you know that I’m learning about the Law of Attraction and applying it to my own life. I believe very strongly in it. I believe strongly enough to see how my thoughts led me here, above and beyond reconnecting with my grandparents. Although I’m filled with appreciation for the blessings that also came as a result of this move, I’ve spent too much energy concentrating on the fact that I don’t like it here. So, why am I writing a post that emphasizes things that I don’t like?

I’m writing this because I believe that what’s happening here is wrong on many levels. This isn’t the California I thought I knew. Looking at the mess that this state is in, I have to say that I think this area serves as a huge example as to why. This area is a contradiction to everything people believe California to be. Rampant pollution and factory farming are just two of several things that need to be changed here (gang violence, stray animals everywhere are two more big ones). Yet, I don’t see anyone addressing these things. No one seems to be looking at the long term costs of ignoring these abuses.

I’m writing this to question why? I’m writing this because I don’t know what else to do, and I don’t feel I can continue ignoring it, too. I’m writing this because I want people who don’t live in this area to know where their fruit and dairy products really come from. I’m writing this because although we are more than ready to start the process of moving on from here, I am here right now and I do have a voice. It’s time I started using it again.

Peace,
Erica

P.S. I e-mailed the person listed for Pesticide Use Enforcement for Tulare County and cc’d the Agricultural Commissioner on Tuesday evening (06/02), regarding the spraying near our home, but haven’t heard anything back yet. It’s now 1:00 a.m., and it’s still going for night three.

Update - I finished writing this yesterday, the 4th, and just received a response to the above e-mail:

Dear Erica,

My name is David Case and I am the supervisor in the pesticide division. Sorry, I did not respond sooner, I have been ill. Mr. Deavours is not in this week, however he will be in on Monday.

There are few regulations regarding spraying pesticides next to residences. Most of them are for restricted use pesticides applied by air as cotton defoliants. We have restricted permit conditions for aerial applications of pesticides within 1/4 mile of schools.

A pesticide applicator has the right to apply pesticides right up to his property line. The pesticide applicator does not have the right to allow pesticides to drift from his application to sensitive sites surrounding the treatment area. There are laws and regulations that are in place to prevent that from happening and when it does happen those same laws and regulations are used to properly punish the violators. If the application is fertilizer only, the application is out or our jurisdiction and we do not have the authority to take any action.

Odors are around us everyday, some pleasant, such as a rose, and some can be unpleasant, such as a dairy. The difficulty is when there is an odor associated with a pesticide application. Pesticides are made up of two components. One is the active ingredient (the chemical in the pesticide that kills the insect, weed, fungus, etc.) the other are the inactive ingredients. Either one or both can create odors. They also can come from a legal or illegal application. If the pesticide application creates an odor, it is usually not a pleasant one. After all, you do not want anyone entering a field where a pesticide application has occurred because it has an attractive odor.

Most pesticide applications in Tulare County occur without any problems. There are approximately 75,000 pesticide applications in Tulare County in any given year.

If you see or believe there has been drift of a pesticide onto your property, please give us a call. We can conduct an investigation and take action against the applicator if we can prove violations have occurred. If you have symptoms due to a pesticide exposure, see a doctor if you believe it is necessary.

As for the timing of the application, pesticides are applied at night because of several different reasons. One is that the temperature is much cooler at night and the pesticide handlers wearing the regulatory required safety gear are more comfortable wearing the safety gear. Also, this is true in blooming citrus, applications can only occur at night when the bees will not be effected by the application (regulation only allows certain pesticides to be applied at night to commercial citrus when it is blooming). Another reason is that once personnel are on a nighttime schedule, it is easier (and better for the employee, to keep them on that schedule. One more reason is that some pesticide labels have temperature cutoffs that require you to make the applications during the cooler part of the day.

If you believe that there has been pesticide drift onto your property, please contact our office @685-3332 and file a complaint.

If you would like more information read California Department of Pesticide Regulation's "Community Guide to Recognizing & Reporting Pesticide Problems" at the following link: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/dept/comguide/index.htm

Regards,

David Case

Supervising Agricultural and Standards Inspector IV
Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner's Office
4437 S. Laspina
Tulare, CA 93274
Phone 559-685-3332
Fax 559-685-3336

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Poor Neglected Blog


I love my blog. I love writing on my blog, adding photos, making a footprint on the web… So, how is that I haven’t posted anything for the past two months?

I can hem haw around and say, “Where does the time go?”, “I’ve just been too busy!”, and so on and so forth. Those excuses do hold a bit of truth, but are, in the end, just excuses. So, how about some honesty? After all, that’s why I started this blog – to chronicle my journey.

The main reason I haven’t written for so long is that I’ve been in a bit of a down cycle. When I get down, I tend not to do the things that might actually bring me back up. I hide. I don’t e-mail friends very often; I don’t want to admit that I’m not in a good spot. It’s part of the same reason for not writing here - I want to be writing that things are going great. I want to say that I’ve mastered the Law of Attraction, and that wonderful things are manifesting in my life. I don’t want to tell anyone that things have gotten pretty rough, and I seem to be losing the ground that I thought I’d gained.

I know more now than I ever have. I know. I also know I have a lot more to learn. What I don’t know is why I’m getting stuck. Why is it so hard to allow myself to be who I really am? Why do I cut myself off from doing what I love? Why do I let fear get the better of me?

Those are the questions for which I’ve been seeking answers. Sometimes, not being able to answer them pushes me down pretty low. The frustration of not “getting it”, of not allowing myself to do everything I know I’m capable of…

Of course, there are up moments, too, thank goodness:-) And, I’m always appreciative for the many blessings in our lives. These are the things that keep me going – that, and I am determined to find the answers to my questions! So, if you hang in there with me, I promise to be a better blogger:-) I’d also love any words of wisdom you have to offer…

P.S. I just added the above photo to our Etsy shop tonight, and thought it was the appropriate choice for here – it’s called, “Let the Light Shine In”.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why I Believe Law of Attraction and Abraham-Hicks Are True


I felt compelled to write this, and to affirm my beliefs. It initially started as a series of thoughts, but I then decided to make it my next blog post – about time:-)

I believe in the information being presented by Abraham-Hicks. The main reason I believe is because it’s saying we are responsible for our lives, for our well-being. It’s not fate, destiny, karma, luck, it’s us. We ultimately choose whether we go up or we go down through the power of our thoughts and beliefs – that makes incredible sense to me. I’ve seen firsthand what constant thoughts of worrying, fear, and self-doubt create – a pretty miserable existence. I’ve also seen what happens when I start to lift my thoughts and focus on the things that bring me joy – I feel a lot better, and the world is a lot brighter.

Right now, though, I still have trouble focusing on that better, brighter world. The world that was created through fear and pain still haunts me. Learning to value myself is often the most difficult “task” of all, as I still assign blame to myself for past happenings. I think doing that is another way to stay stuck. To concentrate on the past keeps me right there in that realm, not allowing me to move forward. Yet, that past brought me to this present where I have the knowledge to improve and to be the person I believe I can be.

What I’ve been reading from Abraham-Hicks is teaching me so much. It’s not always easy to apply what I’m learning, and it isn’t instant, but I still believe. If nothing else, it feels so much better to concentrate on what I want than worrying about what I don’t want or what I fear will happen. Right now, I’ve been a little more in that fear place, and worrying a lot about finances and the future. Both my mom and I are hurting from the loss of both of her parents in less than a year, and feeling lonely, too. I sit here writing this, and tears are coming to my eyes. I don’t want to admit that I’m in “that place”.

Yet I haven’t given up hope, and I do still believe. I know the Law of Attraction works, and I feel the truth in every page I’ve read from Abraham-Hicks. I know that both my mom and I are beautiful, talented, good people with so much to share; and we deserve to have wonderful things manifest in our lives. We will get there; we just need to allow ourselves grace and time to heal and to create what we want.

I love knowing that we can and will make it better.

The two Abraham-Hicks books I have now and recommend are Ask and It Is Given and Money, and the Law of Attraction.

Photo above taken yesterday. The orchards in central Cali have been blooming like crazy:-)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finally, the rest of the story!


I know it’s been a long time since my last post. And I left that one hanging! It’s been hard, because I have so much to say, yet I want to live in the present, too. However, something happened that kind of ties it all together, and I need to write to get it out.

So, warning, warning, warning, this post may be even longer than usual;-)

On Friday, January 30, 2009, just after 12:00 a.m., my grandmother passed away. Earlene L. Vogel was born January 10, 1920, and had spent the last three years of her life in a nursing home, bedridden. While she did have her mind until the last week, she certainly didn’t have much quality of life. Her hands and feet were too twisted to allow her to do anything. It had to have been especially hard, because she’d always been the sort of person who could never sit still. I’ve said many times that she was Martha Stewart before Martha. She was so clean and organized, and she cooked, baked, gardened, and crocheted beautifully. She took care of her husband and raised two children – one was my mom:-)

Sadly, though, she was not a happy person, and I don’t believe she ever really liked herself. Returning to California gave us the opportunity to find out things we never knew. The only thing I will say here is that my grandmother had a really bad childhood, and came from a generation where such things were not discussed. We only found out through my grandfather shortly before he passed last year. It was so sad to learn, but offered some insight into her world. I wish we’d been able to learn more…

From late December 2003 until early January 2008, we had no insight to my grandparents’ world. Prior to our becoming homeless, communication had broken down with our family. We honestly felt like we’d become too much of a burden, so when no one stayed in touch, we just accepted it. We were in such a bad place at that time, and it seemed like no one cared.

Over the course of the following four years, that feeling was reinforced. I know that sounds strange, since we made no attempt to contact anyone. However, on December 29, 2003, before disconnecting my computer on our last night in our home, I wrote one final e-mail. I sent this e-mail to my father (whom I’d previously had some contact with, but haven’t seen in 25 years) and to my uncle (my mom’s brother). It was a goodbye e-mail, and it was to the point, as we would be heading off alone to parts unknown the following day. It wasn’t meant to be hateful, but rather to let out some of the hurt in my heart towards a family that had never been able to communicate. I actually still have it – I’ve always kept it as proof that although it really was goodbye, I did try to reach out one last time.

I have had my main e-mail address since 1999. So, both my mom and I thought that if anyone ever truly wanted to find us, they would at least try the e-mail to see if it was still active. No one ever did. My grandparents didn’t have a computer, but I figured my uncle would try if they wanted him to. Of course, we had the mistaken assumption that he'd told them about the e-mail I sent.

Anyways, the closest I came to contacting my grandparents was when my mom was hospitalized in 2006, and underwent emergency open heart surgery. She didn’t want me to. You want some irony? My grandmother went into the nursing home in March 2006, while my mom was back at home recovering. Although technically my mom had infectious endocarditis (another long story), I always said that her illness was caused by a broken heart. Odd and sad to find out that my grandmother was in decline at the same time…

Fast forward to the end of 2007:

Every once in a while I would try an internet search just to see if I could determine if my grandparents were still alive. We were very lonely, and although we were resigned to never being in contact again, it still hurt. So, late December 2007, I typed my grandmother’s name in a general search on Yahoo (vs. just a people search). Amazingly, it brought up an obituary for her brother, who had just passed – my grandmother was listed as a survivor.

I shared it with my mom. It was such an unexpected find! Of course, that started us thinking about my grandparents. My mom and my grandmother shared the same birthday. My mom debated whether or not to send a card. She finally felt she should, and asked me about whether or not to add a return address. I grabbed the envelope from her and wrote it on:-)

We had no expectations, though I know there was hope we might hear back. We were blown away to receive a card from my grandfather in a very short time. He was soooooooooo happy to hear from us!!! It makes me cry all over again to remember. He sent photos, too. He gave us a huge shock when he let us know that grandma was in a nursing home – the photo of her was so hard to see. He asked us to please call.

We did. It was, as you can imagine, very emotional. It turns out that they’d been looking for us for a long time, even hiring a detective at one point. Yet they were never told about the e-mail I sent, never given that avenue to try to reach us…

So, I believe the miracle part of this started when I found that notice on the internet I mentioned above. It continued when we sent the card and heard back. The next part is where it’s truly amazing to me.

If you’ve read my last lengthy post, you’ll recall that we were running out of time to find some place to live. We were desperately searching in our town for a place – desperate doesn’t do too well in helping you;-) Nothing was happening.

Imagine our shock when my grandfather said how he wished we could come and be there with him. He was so lonely, too. With my grandmother in the home, there was a room for us (with two twin beds, even).

We gave it a lot of thought, and in the end, decided it really would be the best move for all of us. Not easy, but right and good. Maybe it wasn’t too hard, though, because we’d really wanted to reconnect and we’d also really wanted to leave the remote area we’d been living in. We were just as frustrated by the whole living situation as the friend I mentioned in the last post that went back to Washington. Because I am ready to move forward, I’ve intentionally left a lot out about the time in Kanab, and my work experience. It was what it was, and if nothing else, I certainly learned a lot! :-)

Now, it’s 2009, and the past year has been a whirlwind. My grandfather became seriously ill and passed away on April 12, 2008, due to kidney failure and bladder cancer. It was a huge shock, because he was the “well” one. Without my grandmother at home, though, we don’t think he was taking care of himself. He didn’t know how – she’d always done everything for him.

After my grandmother passed, I said to my mom that if I’d known that this would be the course of events after we came here, I wouldn’t have moved; that was my grief speaking. In all honesty, I truly appreciate the time we had – the blessing of reconnecting. We didn’t have nearly enough time, yet the time we had was enough to get to know each other again. Most importantly, we all were able to tell each other, “I love you.”

This is so long, yet it barely covers a fraction of the story. If you got to the end of all this, I applaud and appreciate you:-) If not, that’s fine, too. It’s my story, and it may not interest everyone. It’s been so incredible these last few years, and I wanted to document some of it. I’m working on living in the now, but I can also see how the past has molded me. Learning about the Law of Attraction has really helped me see how and why some of what happened did. I believe in miracles, but I’m also learning better how they come to be through each of us.

Peace, love, and joy,
Erica

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Whoa! Stop the clock;-) The big 40!


I turned 40 today, January 6, 2009! Should I feel differently than yesterday? I don’t know;-) I will say that I’ve reflected a bit, because it’s sort of amazing to think of all that’s happened in my life and in the world in the past 40 years. Also what hasn’t happened that I still hope will...

I do know it’s true when people say they don’t “feel” a certain age. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve been alive for 40 years. It’s almost too large a span to take in all at once. Heck, just the past decade is enough to keep me reflecting for a while. Right now, though, the past couple of years are really due for some reflection – I’ve been meaning to write about them and now is a perfect time!

On my birthday last year, I didn’t even know where we’d be living by the end of the month. Shades of December 2003? Yet I was working, and had been working for three years for the same place. However, in January 2006, I’d decided to rent a house through my workplace. We’d been living in a small duplex for almost three years, and so wanted to live in a real house again. We wanted to have a dog, and space, etc. – it was huge for us. So when the opportunity arose to rent this house, we took it. I knew it was a stretch, especially when the rent was raised another $25 a month before we’d even moved in. However, we chose to do it because our desire to live in a real house and some place more normal was so strong.

What we couldn’t know is that the house would be offered for sale two months after we moved in. Because my former workplace leased it through another employee, they had no say. This came as a huge shock to us, and to the other tenant who had rented the “shack” on the property. It was as big of a commitment for her as it had been for us – she’d been living in a cheap motel for about a year before moving here. None of us had any savings, and there were very few rentals available at any time.

We had no idea what to do. We were all in a state of fear – the worst place to be for a positive outcome. It’s in that place that you start recreating or re-attracting the same things that didn’t work in the past. I’d learned so much during the time since we’d lost our home in Oregon. However, when I found myself in a situation where I was faced with losing my home again, I froze. I couldn’t seem to hold on to the one thing that meant more than anything – a safe, secure home.

So, we all kept hoping and hoping the place wouldn’t sell. The house needed a lot of work, the market was really slow. Surely, out of all the homes for sale, this one wouldn’t sell. Of course, it was shown repeatedly. Few things are more intrusive than having to show a home that you just want to live in. By November, our neighbor was so fed up with it and with the place we worked. She gave it all up; she quit her job, and went on a song and a prayer up to Washington State.

She endured great hardship (including her own period of homelessness), but survived and is rebuilding her life. I know she reads my blog, so I want to say how proud I am of her!!! It’s more than just rebuilding a life; it’s regaining who we are that we lost during that time.

I know I write a lot, I also know there’s a lot that I’m not writing about the above situation. There’s a small part in my heart that still needs to forgive, though I’ve done pretty well with it:-) I have risen above it, and I’m so appreciative of the blessings in my life now.

Yet, as I said above, by January 2008, we were facing homelessness again. The house had sold at the last moment. We had until the end of the month to get out. Yes, it was the last minute, but we hadn’t come up with any viable solutions since the house had gone up for sale. The only rentals coming up weren’t available until more than a month after our date to be out (and would have required a level of debt to my workplace that I was so reluctant to incur, but didn’t see a way around it).

So, what happened?

I’ll let you know on the next post. I want this be a chapter that ends here. I have moved on, and only write this to show the miracle of what happened next…

The above photo was taken this past Sunday, and is titled "January Rose":-) It's a little mini rose that's been under an awning. Oh, and just had to type this - Happy Birthday to Me!!!