Amphibious Ambivalence


This is Jeremiah….


While it may be hard to assess his true size from this picture, Jeremiah is one big dude of a bullfrog.

He’s been a resident of my little backyard pond for a few years now and, until recently, I gave both his size and presence little thought. In fact I considered him an indication of the well being and proper balance of my pond, which I refer to as “my piece of Heaven on Earth.”

bluechair Edit

This pond was a birthday gift from my family, created out of a gaping hole left by a huge black walnut tree downed in a winter storm. The tree fell perfectly, missing the house, deck and fenced dog yard. It was as if it laid itself down along a predetermined arrow indicating the only clear path. The hole ran deep into the dense clay soil of our yard, soil so difficult to dig it has forced all my gardening efforts into raised beds and patio pots. It takes hours, HOURS, to dig a hole deep enough for small shrubs or perennials. When heavy spring rains filled the hole, my husband joked “Oh look, you’ve got the pond you always wanted.”

Hmmmm, funny how seeds of ideas are planted.

This fortuitous hole, I might add, sat next to a pole with an electrical outlet. Hmmmm, indeed.

It would however take a few more seasons for my husband to get the fallen tree cleared. By then the hole was overgrown with weeds and frost imminent. The next spring, my young daughter and I diligently cleared the weeds, anticipating pond construction which did not occur, as my husband artfully avoided the herculean effort he knew it would take to work the dense ground. The cycle of weed, wait, “whatever”, winter repeated itself for a few more years. Finally, in the summer of 2008, my daughter (then eleven) insisted that my husband help her give Mom the “only thing she really wanted” for her birthday.


The two of them spent days clearing roots, working the hole into a wider, deeper, smoother oval.


They shaped ledges on the sides for plants, and a deep bowl in the center far below the freeze line, where fish could safely hibernate through our long, frigid Central New York winters.  With the help of my son-in-law Joe, they build a waterfall on one side.

JoeEdit waterfallEdit

It was back breaking labor during two of the hottest summer weeks that year. We stocked the pond with an assortment of colorful goldfish. I convinced my daughter to give the brilliant orange comet she had won at the State Fair a shot at pond life.


“George” (think Audrey Hepburn’s fountain buddy in “Sabrina”) had beat the survival odds of most State Fair prize fish having out grown several tanks over two years. I convinced her the pond would be paradise since the 20 gallon tank he had grown into was the limit we could go for an indoor habitat.


Frogs also took up residence almost immediately. Their evening serenade added music to my corner of Heaven on Earth. Every spring there are mats of frog eggs, wiggling tadpoles and eventually many tiny frogs. George and his entourage of friends have also provided several colorful new generations. It seems the fish and frogs have worked out a balance of how many eggs, tadpoles and fry they each consume. Balance. This is the significance of my pond.


There is a unique quality to the peace I receive in the moments I spend sitting pondside. I believe it comes from the gratitude that fills my heart each time I sit in my favorite Adirondack chair drinking from the well of love my family put into this creation. Peace and gratitude to fuel me for the challenges of the day ahead. Peace and gratitude as the waterfall washes away the sting of hurtful words. Peace and gratitude as a colorful parade of fish reminds me of life’s simple beauty. Peace and gratitude as frog songs lull a troubled mind to sleep.

FishEdit  zenfrogEdit

Which brings me back to Jeremiah, Jeremiah the bullfrog. You see the other day it suddenly occurred to me that JtB has gotten awfully large this year and the colorful parade seems to have a few less citizens of late. This proved a challenge to my sense of balance and “live and let be” approach to most residents of my yard. Do I leave Jeremiah be, or relocate him to a local wetland in the interest of maintaining our fish community? Does JtB have an unfair advantage, in this predator free environment that provides an easy source of food? The fish after all have no escape route and limited hiding places.

As long as some fish remain, I am willing to take a wait and see approach. For the moment I feel no pressure to make an immediate decision. Summer is waning quickly. All too soon “Lake George” will be frozen over.  JtB may not resurface in the spring.


We have small fry from the pond thriving in George’s former fish tank for restock if need be. This willingness to relinquish control, a genuine ambivalence about an amphibious threat to balance in my life is truly significant for someone so often “in control” of so much.


Let time take its course. Life will go on.


Pete and Emma resting after many days of hard work….considering  ” hot tub or pond ?”

Cloud Nine : on blissful ignorance

IMG_0022Recently I found myself wondering just how much do we really “need” to know? The system for naming clouds, based on their characteristics  was created in the 1800’s by Luke Howard,  an English chemist whose hobby was meteorology. The system is so logical and descriptive it is still in use today and remains relatively unchanged. I read about this in A Short History of Nearly Everything  by Bill Bryson, one of my summer reading projects. The system has nine categories of clouds. At first I was disappointed to discover the  phrase “Cloud Nine”  had such mundane origin. Suddenly “Cloud Nine” seemed less blissful. I didn’t even want to know which cloud formation was the ninth!  I mean what if it wasn’t the cumulus “puff balls” that look like heaven to rest upon (never mind that unless you actually are an angel, you’d fall right through any cloud regardless of it’s name) Then again, it began to make sense, because why would a state of bliss be called Cloud Nine?  Why not Cloud Seven or Ten?  If Nine was as high as one could go, then that must be heaven right?  It’s really what we tell ourselves that gives everything its meaning.  You know one persons trash is another persons treasure. A mentor I admire a great deal said “There will be no magic in your work, if there is no magic in your heart.”  It made my blood run cold for a second, but then I realized no one can tell me what is or is not in my heart. Someone else may not see the magic but if I feel it in my heart, it’s real.  And so is Cloud Nine

Begin Again

I was reminded by a blog entry I read today that whatever I am experiencing I have a choice in how it “makes” me feel.  I can choose to respond with anger, guilt, sadness, confusion, curiosity, laughter, openess, forgiveness…I have many options.  Ultimately they come from one of two perspectives,  fear or love. When the joyful space of a creative group page I belong to was “invaded” by a well intended but inappropriate post I was angry.  It involved a story I was seeing posted over and over again on my Facebook timeline by rescue groups and outraged dog lovers. I have come to cherish the simple joy of having at least one online refuge. The story did not belong on a page full of creative offerings from people with a positive focus, not one of whom would consider abusing or neglecting an animal. The poster blatantly disrespected the guidelines of the group. I was disappointed with the admins for not “protecting” the sanctity of the groups space;  I thought they should have removed the post. The more I thought about it, the angrier I felt.  It was a nasty spiral UNTIL  a dragonfly landed on my arm while I was walking my dog.


My group friends know the meaning of dragonflies  thanks to the wonderful photo essays from one of our members.  It made me stop in my tracks, quite literally.  I suddenly laughed as the dragonfly flew away taking with it my angry judgments. “You don’t have to feel this way” it told me. I began to realize the person who put the story on the group page was in so much pain and distress, they were crying out for help. Our admins know we are all adults perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves and it shows by the measured responses people posted.  Anywhere else on social media it was generating a deluge of negativity almost worse than the original story.  We do not have to go with our first response to anything. We always have the option to choose differently and begin again.

The link to the blog entries I found so affirming are:

Thank you Denise and Faith!

Carpe Diem

Wait no longer!  For

those who hesitate are lost.

Take the plunge. We’re here.


Making Peace

Two friends are fighting

Angry words thrown without thought

Come Sit Have some Tea



Jet trail at sunset

Glowing sky dart zooming west

Wait ! Take me with you


Learning to Fly

I love to garden however our soil is awful. It is dense clay and rocky with thick tangles of tree roots running everywhere. Just digging a hole for a shrub is backbreaking work. So after years of losing battles, I took a step back and made a new plan. Now my yard is made up of little areas of garden.


There’s a daylily bed on the slope by the deck, a cluster of flowering lilacs and spirea by one wall, vegetables in raised beds, pots of herbs. And there is my piece of heaven on earth, my little fish pond. Its story is a whole post unto itself and I promise to tell that story soon. I grow my favorite annuals like nasturtiums, snapdragons, and coleus in pots too. Roses however have eluded all attempts to find a spot where they can thrive, except for one. The small white rose bush which was planted with the ashes of our first born child, a son named Zachary. He was stillborn. I do not feel grief anymore for what might have been. I am grateful my beautiful daughters have an older brother to watch over them from Heaven. I have always been inclined to believe in angels. I have met some face to face, encounters so powerful I gratefully relinquished doubt just like I surrendered to the true and unchanging nature of our land.  So I placed a garden angel by Zach’s rose bush. One fierce winter storm sent an ice chunk down from the trees and sheared off her wing. The broken wing protected Zach’s bush from being crushed by the ice. In the spring, knowing Zach’s ashes have long since become part of the bush, I moved the roses to a sheltered corner by our deck.   I was unable to repair the angel’s wing. I wasn’t sure what to do but I could never throw her away. She is still beautiful and still an angel. I realized she is us, for we are like angels with broken wings. If we keep faith in ourselves, then we too can fulfill our mission in life, broken wings and all. At times in my life when I most need them, angels are there to keep faith for me until I am strong enough to fly again. My friends and fellow members of the Bedlam Farm Group may or may not know it, but we are angels for each other. The profoundly beautiful artwork, heartfelt stories, uplifting humor bring inspiration and healing every moment of every day. We wake up to new images sunsets from members in other hemispheres and send them our sunrises. We are spreading spirit and light around the globe. We have come together to heal and uplift each other our hearts so we may soar with the joy of creativity. Everyday we learn to fly once more.

IMG_0030 Blessings be!

Gratitude and so it begins…..

My fledgling blog is made possible by the inspiration and encouragement of my friends in the Open Group for Bedlam Farm. This “ministry of encouragement” was created by author Jon Katz, whose books, blogs and photography kept my creative spirit alive during the years I was distracted (often in happy ways) by life.  As my daughters have grown into talented young women preparing to walk their own journey of life something within my soul began to stir.  Jon’s OGFBF turned a whisper in my heart to bold steps on a new path.

So I begin by giving thanks with a poem for my new  family.  Thank you my friends!cafebouquet

Thank You

Thank you for the chicken pot pie

Thank you for feathered jewels that fly

Thanks for suns that rise and set

For kisses from dogs I’ve never met

For vultures lost and vertebrates found

For spiders beauty high above ground

For taking me through woods sublime

and over bridges locked forever in time

Whispering chairs

Mysterious stairs

Famous places

Beloved faces

With stories told by hearts made bold

By support from artists new and old

I laugh, I cry, I visualize


I am mesmerized!