Wednesday, January 29, 2014


                                                           by Laura Crum

            I’ve been sick. Yucky bug which went to my lungs and then lit up my asthma. And suddenly walking down to the barn to feed the horses is overwhelming, not to mention sleeping at night is impossible…etc. This has been going on for over a week now, not counting the two weeks I was “kind of” sick with the cough/cold bug, BEFORE it turned into an asthma attack.
            I know, you’re all thinking yeah, yeah, yeah, we all go through it, why are you whining? And the truth is, I’m not really wanting to whine. I’m wanting to talk about the benefits of downtime.
            For a week now I’ve been forced to stay home and rest. My husband and son have been feeding the horses for me. I’m not doing much of anything but puttering around looking at things. And reading. And writing. And you know what? I really like it.
            I have time to drink a cup of tea and watch a sunrise from start to finish.

            I have time to watch a buck wander around behind my house.

            I have time…I think that in itself is a huge gift. People spend big money to vacation at some cute little cabin and just relax. I don’t need to pay a cent. I just need an excuse to stop being so busy with “doing.” And this being sick is the perfect excuse. I have time to sit on the porch in the sun.

            I finally finished an essay that I started six months ago concerning the insights I’ve had about life…etc. And yes, this was an ambitious piece and I’m beyond thrilled that I finally just sat down and finished it. And I’ve been able to process some of the difficult things that have happened lately and see them a little more clearly. I’ve gotten a lot of truth about what is important to me and what is not. I’m actually quite happy to be in this mode—I wouldn’t mind if it lasted another week.
            Yes, I miss riding. But after many, many years of riding non-stop, I can take a break. I can stop and smell the flowers (metaphorically, anyway--there aren't many actual flowers in the garden at this point) and not worry about what I’m NOT getting done. This would have been much harder for me in my 20’s and 30’s. But in my 50’s, I see life a little differently.
            I’ll tell you one thing I don’t miss. Being out in the world dealing with people. My best friends come by to see me and we talk, my husband and son are here with me. I really don’t miss interacting with the world of people in general. I watch my horses and I watch the wild animals and you know, it’s a lovely world right here. The last six months have taught me some big lessons. I will never be so trusting with people again. It is only too sadly true that some will pretend to be your friend and turn against you as soon as they perceive it to be in their own best interests to do so.
            And so I am taking some time to rest and heal and be a peaceful hermit. There is always much here to delight me, and my horses and other animals are all doing well. Sunny is a bit bored and gallops up and down his corral at feeding time as if to tell me, “Look, I’m ready to do something.” But the other horses seem content.
            And then there is the magical world of the greenhouse. The greenhouse is my husband’s project. He always wanted a greenhouse of his own (he makes his living growing plants and so has spent many, many hours in greenhouses), and last year we made it happen. By early December the greenhouse was here.

            I didn’t originally have a lot of interest in the greenhouse—I thought of it as Andy’s deal. But over the two months it has been here, I have grown very fond of it. It is beautiful and full of life and my husband and son have so many interesting projects they are doing together there.

            My son’s hydroponics project—which is providing us with salad every night.

Growing food is becoming a huge passion for our family. We have been very interested in growing our own food for many years. We raise our own grassfed beef, we have a veggie garden and fruit trees and chickens for eggs. Growing your own food connects you to the “real” world in a way that I can’t really explain; those who do it will understand. It is a little like owning and riding horses. It connects us to something deep in our human selves that is connected to the natural world that we truly live in. It helps us feel a part of what is, rather than separate. Not to mention it is good for us and good for the planet. We relate to life very differently when we grow our own food rather than going to the grocery store and buying it.
            So yeah, we are loving growing even more of our own food. Basil, cucumber and strawberry plants in the greenhouse.

            My husband’s seedling beds.

            Finally, I’m going to build a pool. This may not be of much interest to you dedicated horse people, but I have been just as interested in my garden as I am in my horses for many years. And my current passionate dream is to build a small rocky pool. Planning the pool gives me many happy hours of imaginative thinking, and I have many books on the subject—I haunt the websites of some fine designers of garden pools.
            So yes, I am sick, I’m not doing much with my horses currently, I’m still processing some shitty experiences I had in 2013. But overall I’m enjoying the magical world I live in right here, and planning the next cool thing I want to do. So you know, life IS good. Despite my being sick.


Unknown said...

Glad you are enjoying your down time even if you aren't feeling good. It's always nice to be able to just be. Sorry to hear about your experiences with users in the last year. Never a pleasant learning experience. Did I tell you I keep seeing Barnstorming on my library's new shelf periodically? Makes me smile every time. It is obviously being checked out because it will be gone and then it is back, and back and forth.

Laura Crum said...

Thank you, Angelia. Yes, I had a real learning experience. Not pleasant at all, but probably good for me in the long run. And thank you for making me smile. I am always happy to know that people are reading my stories. As an author yourself, I know you understand. It isn't so much about making money (though money is nice), its just knowing that people are reading, and hopefully enjoying,the books that we work so hard on creating.

AareneX said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel--took a "down day" yesterday and did nothing...and yet accomplished so much!

(BTW we had three little "pools" in our yard built by the previous owners. I couldn't rip them out fast enough. Mosquito habitat!!!!)

Laura Crum said...

Good for you, Aarene. Down days can be a real blessing. And as for pools, I have one very small one already, which I have had for fifteen years--built it myself. You will not have any mosquito wigglers if you have fish, I can attest to this. There are also other natural predators which will eat them. So, not afraid of mosquitos here.

Anonymous said...

I want your greenhouse! It looks like a nice spot to drink a cup of tea in the winter.

I hope you can take all the time you need to get well.

Laura Crum said...

redhorse--The greenhouse has proven to be an especially sweet little spot. I can't say that I realized this ahead of time. Uhmm, if it doesn't sound too silly, we just did our best to build a nice greenhouse and the magic followed.

I am trying to give myself all the time I need. This can be hard to do--we are our own worst enemy, telling ourselves all the things we ought to get back to doing. I am reminding myself that those things aren't really important.

Thank you so much for your good wishes. Is it cold where you are? I think a greenhouse with a small heater would be even more magical in a cold climate.

Francesca Prescott said...

Hi Laura, sorry to hear you're sick, but happy to hear you're making the most of it. It's always good to find the positive in the negative... I know exactly what you mean about growing your own food; somehow when you grow it you're far more appreciative of it and far less likely to waste it (well, at least I am). I'm hoping to be able to plant a nice vegetable garden this year now that I have more time at home since Qrac is finally close-by. I'd love a pool (or a "water feature" as they seem to be called these days!) in my garden but it seems like I'm the only one to feel that way. But yes, I guess it would attract a lot of mosquitoes...

Despite the fact that you're enjoying your time as a sicko, I hope you feel better soon :)

xx cesca

Laura Crum said...

Thanks for the good wishes, Cesca. And as I told Aarene, I've had a small pool in my garden for many years. If you have fish they eat the mosquito wigglers, so there is NO mosquito problem. But pools require a certain attitude. You cannot be someone who wants a "pristine" garden. The pools grow algae from time to time, sometimes the water is cloudy. They are like a natural lake. Things are always changing. You have to be OK with that. And I hate the term "water feature". Sounds entirely too upscale for me. I may call mine a reservoir.

Laura Crum said...

Oh, and Cesca, yes, I'm just like you. I don't like to waste one little leaf that we've grown ourselves. It seems like a sin somehow. I know you grow a lot of your own vegetables, too.

Dom said...

I'm sick too. I almost never get sick...

Feel better <3
And enjoy your down time :)

Michelle said...

I hope you feel better soon, and your 2014 is much better than 2013! Have to say, I would love to live in a place like yours; it looks like paradise. You always post what I call "happy pictures." I always get a hug of happiness when I see your home, or your adventures on the trail.

Alison said...

Thanks for the sunny pictures! They remind me that warm weather will come again in VA.

I love the image of Sunny running around telling you he is ready for action. The snow/ice is so hard on my poor horses' unshod hooves that they are moving carefully.

Get well!

Laura Crum said...

Thank you, Dom. I am a little better now. At least I can sleep at night. And after not getting much sleep for a week, sleeping seems like a huge gift.

Michelle--I'm so tickled you say that. I try really hard to find the beauty in my day to day life and "capture" it in photos. The photos go in my albums, and also here and on facebook. And that's exactly why I take them--to show the happy part of life. I am very grateful for where I live and how I live. Some of it is luck--I was born here and my family has been here for four generations, so this part of California is my true home. But some of my life is the result of conscious choices, and I am also grateful that I was able to see what was important to me from a young age and to make choices that helped to create the life I have now. Thank you, again, I appreciate your comment very much. And yes, I REALLY hope 2014 is better than 2013--for all of us.

Thank you, Alison. Every time I look at the weather, I am reminded that many others have very cold conditions, and I think that maybe our warm, sunny drought is not that bad. And it is raining today! Yay.

Liann said...

Lovely piece, Laura! Time is indeed a gift, and you are appreciating not only the time, but the rest of your life a little more. Makes me want to come visit!

Laura Crum said...

Liann--Thank you. If you are down this way, give me a call and we'll set up a visit.