Category Archives: Farm Stories

Re-branding my dog ~ a lesson on spin applied to life

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MU…our dear Boxer…rebranded and loved 2003 to 2008.

As a companion to my post on bullying, I dug through my archives to find this piece on branding that I wrote several years ago.

I have taught, and worked, individually with over 2000 people, children and adults. I have witnessed the same patterns over and over in human behavior. I am not a scholar of behavior, but I have found one pattern disturbing. People get branded by the society around them and then behave to fulfill the expectation. The society starts with childhood family and moves on through peoples’ lives.

When people are stuck and I have posed options to them, the responses have stunned me…their roots in voices miles, decades away.  I wrote this for the artist in the engineer and the engineer in the artist; the leader in the the group of followers and the follower in the leader; and of course, the hero in the scapegoat. Circa 2011

Imagine you are walking down the streets of New York City and you have not been branded yet. There is no story tagged to you, like a piece of tobacco rolled up in thin white paper without a name, you no longer have a label or a story. Gone is your award for class clown, bully, or friend, along with your tag lines: the family hero, writer, artist, black sheep, and on and on.

You, like the pieces of tobacco rolled in thin white paper have no brand. You are free to create your own brand. You can shake off what defined you and write your own story. Like the Virginia Slim, you can ‘go a long way baby.’ The projections of you can be wiped out like your fb account. This is what happened when I rebranded my dog Mu.

Mu was our first puppy. I fell in love with her from the beginning; failing to tell my husband she was not a pure bred until we were half way home. Five months into our relationship, things went bad. Mu grew powerful and started yanking at my shirt sleeve at the end of our walk. The louder I yelled, the more she tugged.

We went for walks or rather she did, with me almost achieving lift off as she dragged me down the path. What to do with this mutt, we should have bought a pure bred?

I told so many stories about my bad, bad dog, that people who knew me then, often ask now, “what ever happened with your crazy dog?”

Then one day, I picked Mu up from an overnight at the vet. I could hardly believe my eyes; there she stood, straight and still with the vet. I asked how she behaved: “Great, she is a sweetheart.”

On my way home I realized Mu was not crazy after all. I needed owner training. With the help of a kind friend, Cathy, I took control of the leash.

I then changed the story. Mu truly was a sweet dog and I started telling people that. In a few short conversations, my little Mu, became branded as the best little boxer this side of the Atlantic.

Now, back in New York City, as you walk through those streets smelling the car fumes and seeing the lights of possibility, you can take that energy and mold yourself into the creature you want to be ~ the one that lives on your own terms and sits like The Thinker, real or metaphorical, its own divine creation, living just once in a burst of beautiful light.

Like Don Draper of my once favorite show Mad Men, you can write your soul, for better or for worse. And as Don did, and I did for Mu you can take a story that condemns you, rewrite it, start spreading it, and change it.

©claireaperez@gmail.com

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Pancake Moments … everybody has a pancake story

Wednesday night I attended a fund-raiser for the The History Center in Tompkins County called Encouraging Connections through Variations on Pancakes.The presenter, Paula Younger, gave us a glimpse into how one thing, pancakes, can spark a conversation across generations and cultures.  The event itself was a kick off for the The History Centers Generation to Generation series.

At the center of the talk was what the presenter called a pancake moment.  I don’t know how to define it except to say that it is a moment associated with a memory of pancakes in a historical/personal context that teaches you something, marks something, or leads to some type of transformation, even if just in your thinking.  (Click on Ms. Younger’s site, pancakemoments TM to find out more information.)

Here is my pancake moment.

In October 1995, my now husband invited me over for breakfast with his twin boys.  He routinely made the round trip to Syracuse every other weekend  and bring them to their home here, the home that he wanted to be their forever home.

I had tasted some of my husband’s cooking but was not prepared for his specialty, blueberry pancakes.  While the boys slept, he brought out the ingredients, mixed them finishing with a big handful of blueberries thrown into the batter.  The pancakes on the griddle fluffed up to the best  cakes I have ever tasted…not too high and airy, but high enough so that the pancake does not drop into your stomach like a round of lead.

Calling the fifteen year olds to breakfast, he prepared their plates and let them pour as much syrup as they wanted onto their pancakes.My husband then made sure they had a juice or something to drink, fussing over them as he does with people he holds dear…like a mother hen.

The boys gobbled up their pancakes as if it was the most routine thing in the world.

At that moment I could feel the love.  The contented feeling of soul food like delicious blueberry pancakes set in a scene  laced with its own brand of heart ache, transformed into that routine place that never leaves you…that place you carry in your heart forever, that place where you are unconditionally loved.

And I saw the soul of my husband, Radames: when life gives you cracked eggs put them in a rich mix and then throw in a lot of color and sweetness to make it whole and beautiful for yourself, and for those who must continue.

Fall home
home

©claire anne perez

Fifth Avenue to get Center-Line Rumble Strip

Just Kidding…but, it is a thought I have had many times since the installation of our center -line rumble strip in September 2014.  Imagine  a Center-Line Rumble Strip placed on Fifth Avenue in New York City by a government agency.  The citizens would not tolerate it and their voices would not be muffled by an administrator.

Here is an article, N.J. family’s rumble strip complaint falls on deaf ears, which sums up the response I received about the rumble strip 50 feet from the front of our house.  The family struggling with a noisy rumble strip on a curve , was told

“The installation of rumble strips on a portion of Route 29 is part of systematic attempt to increase road safety for motorists through the reduction of head to head and opposite direction side swipe collisions,” Department of Transportation spokesman Stephen Shapiro said Thursday.

I wonder:

How did our democracy, government for the people by the people, get to a point where authorities can just place a center-line rumble strip in front of your house without notifying you or considering the inconsistent, jarring  noise it makes when a vast number of drivers ignore it and drive right over it?

Stay tuned…

claireaperez@gmail.com

 

Why I “hate” Stink Bugs

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Stink Bug hiding under hair appliance

There I am, minding my own business, engaged in an activity, and one shows up. Yesterday this baby, above, fell out of the sweater I am wearing today. THAT is how they are these bugs: quiet, and with a face that any mother would find hard to love.

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Stink Bug on top of towel

I hate the way Stink Bugs, or in this case, the Western Conifer Seed Bug (note, this bug is not in the official Stink Bug family but is commonly labelled as such by many of us) sneak up on me. To my knowledge these sly bugs don’t bite: my husband, a former science teacher, confirmed this fact. They just roam around looking for a plant to juice with their needle-like mouthpart.

Stink Bugs appear out of the blue…usually as a harbinger of the change of seasons, or in the middle of winter with a global warming trend. The Stink Bug has disturbed me at the most inopportune times.

I’ll be typing away and one shows up, crawling along my keyboard, about to be smushed by my next word. Many a night, cozy in bed reading a book, one of these creatures dive bombs me from the ceiling with a buzz the intensity of  which is matched by a bumble bee.

The problem is, except for a bed and wall inspection, interception is futile as the Stink Bug slowly, stealthily, bursts into my life without warning in its other worldly costume.
My intervention is usually a shout to request that my husband guide the bugger out the window in hopes of avoiding its stinky smell when smushed.

One night, however, this did not work.

It was the fall of 2005. It was the middle of the night and I woke up parched. I reached for my glass of water and sipped it for that midnight refreshment.

It tasted funny, a slight sweetness. Gatorade comes to mind all these years later. I thought I better take a look. In order not to wake my husband, I took the glass through the darkness into the bathroom. That is when I saw it: a stink bug had drowned in my water and was off gassing.

I did wake my husband who said, “Don’t worry about it, it is just a little extra protein, go back to sleep.” I remained concerned and at 2 am called poison control.
The poison control guy talked me down and here I am more than 10 years later, alive and preparing for the next stealth bomber.

 

 

claireaperez
a first world problem in a suffering world

One Sunflower

This picture was originally taken in 2012, I think.  It was a sunflower that just grew and grew.  It may have been one that my husband let take root, even though it contrasted with his vision for that particular area of landscape.

Like many things in nature, it can be a metaphor for our lives.  We reach a peak of growth and then as we decline, whenever that moment begins, we are laden with the ripeness of our time.  When that seed spreads, it may flower, feed other life, or disappear.  It is the nature of things.

To see this sunflower in its moment, its fullness, on the brink of decline and then to revisit it nearly four years later, is a bit of magic.

 

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Sunflower circa Fall 2012

A most beautiful Blackberry Farm

walking near apple trees
walking near apple trees

Years ago now, I dreamed of having a farm retreat and calling it Blackberry Farm.  This was before 2008 and the crash that has seemed to divide us into extremes…the 1 percent and the rest of us.  We had blackberry paths that were exposed to the sun and you could, at the time, circa 2002, pick many pints.  We still have those paths, but they are now shaded with a canopy of hardwoods growing over the last 13 years.

In the middle of the last decade I found that my dream had been realized in Tennessee and  Blackberry Farm, a retreat to the countryside.   I saw it in Country Living, I was impressed.  I have since liked their Facebook page and follow their growth.  It looks heavenly and way out of my tax bracket. I have decided you have to have two things, or at least one of them, to make this kind of dream come true:  stamina to do the work yourself, or money to get it done, or a combination of both.

Yesterday, I made a harvest dinner for my husband, a friend, and myself…Smitten Kitchen apple cake with apples from one of our old, happy, non-pruned trees; linguine with home-grown eggplant and pepper sauce, and salad with the last beef steak tomato of the season. It was delicious but in preparing all this, in-between playing roll-the-tire with the dogs and mopping our rental, I realized how far away my dream of blackberry farm is from reality.  I was raised in the suburbs, we had a cleaning lady, and I thought apples could be picked during any one of the warm months.  The little things I do here are really all I have the inclination and stamina to do.

I wish I had the stamina, or could win the lottery, to create this blackberry farm.  But I think if I did, I’d give the other 99 percent a chance to enjoy it once in awhile.  Maybe the occasional $99  night.  But then, the difference between the reality of country living. and the illusion, might shrink.

koi pond

koi pond
koi pond

Entrance

A beginning waits
For someone to enter thru
This beautiful door!

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Door at Elmira College

Peonies


Born at the time of the pink petaled peonies…screaming into the world as the scent permeated the air…to be born amid the red poppies and bright white mock orange, it’s orange scented center a baptism into heaven’s creatures on earth. Its forest green leaves beckoning exploration into the mysterious woods of life.

FADE

faded flowers
faded flowers
Pic flowers
Flowers in chrome