Showing posts from 2009

In which I share a story-gift: "Accuracy" - a timely story

If you stay up late tonight to watch the shiny ball fall, I want you to tell this story to somebody while you're waiting. Okay?


A certain soldier had the job of firing a gun at six o'clock every evening.

He had done this job for many years and he was proud of his efficiency and time-keeping.

The government appointed a "Commission on Accuracy" (a very strange thing for a government to do, you might think) and the Commission made inquiries into the time-keeping of the soldier.

"This is what I have done for many years past," he told them, "Every day, at a quarter to six, I stop in front of the clock-maker's window in the village. I set my watch by the big grandfather clock that stands in the window. Then I walk up the hill. At one minute to six I step out to the gun, which has been made ready, and at six o'clock exactly, I fire.

All this being very satisfactory, it only remained to question the clock-maker:"This is a most wonderful clock,&…

In which the New Year approaches, and I don't write a "Holiday Card"

Every year we get a few "Holiday Letters from Our Family" in the mailbox.
You know the kind: a 1- or 2-page brag sheet for the most perfect and highly-accomplished family on the planet, disguised as a holiday greeting card, telling about everybody's perfect grades in school, everybody's major promotion at work, etc. etc.
Humbug, sez I.
And yet....
2009 has been a heckuva year. Why, at the beginning of 2009, "Haiku Farm" didn't even exist.
If I were the type of person to send a "Holiday Letter from Our Family", this would be a good year to send it!
But I'm not. I'm the type of person who blogs. So, I'm gonna write a blog post about this entire year....because it was really a good one!
January, 2009 Isn't this sweet? An aerial photo of the farm, with our hopes and dreams scribbled all over it. Yup, the barn will go right soon as the Money Fairy klonks us a couple more times.
February 2009: A view of the pasture and hous…

In which I share a story-gift: "The Nomad's Dream" which gives some advice

I love this story, and haven't the faintest idea where I learned it. Ah, well.

The nomads' dream

A group of nomads were discussing their dreams from the previous night, and discovered that they had all dreamed the same thing.

In the dream, a voice, like the voice of God, had said to each of them: "Gather up stones from the morning camp, gather pebbles and rocks from the morning camp, and carry these stones and pebbles and rocks all the day in your saddlebags. When you reach the evening camp, you will be both happy and sad."

They agreed that it was an important dream, although none of them understood it.

Some were puzzled, for gathering rocks seemed such a silly thing to do.

Some were angry, for surely a true dream should be significant, yet they could not see the significance

Some were resigned, for they had no understanding and did not hope to gain it.

Yet they all gathered some stones, some pebbles, some rocks, and put them in their saddlebags, and carried them…

In which I share a story gift: "The Dogs Choose a King" : for dog-lovers

I know lots of versions of this story. Someday I'll settle down and tell them all!

Think of this story when you're attending holiday parties and are introduced to a bunch of new people. Just don't tell them why you are smiling....

The Dogs Choose a King

The dogs held a council to elect a king.

But how should a king be chosen?

The collies thought that the king should be the cleverest dog.

The retrievers thought that a swimming contest should be held to determine the king.

The poodles thought that the cutest dog should be king.

They argued and debated for many hours until at last, an old mutt said, “I think that, since the dog-king will be a leader, the king should be the dog with the best-smelling tail. After all, that’s the part that the rest of us will be nearest.

All the dogs agreed that this was the best suggestion, and they immediately started looking for the dog with the best-smelling tail.

But all those dog tails smelled so good—how could they choose?

The dogs still haven’t cho…

In which I share a story gift: "Fishing" for those who need silliness

This is an old favorite story. I think I got my version of it from Garrison Keillor.


There were once two good friends who went rented a boat and went fishing.

They spent an enjoyable afternoon and caught some fine fish.

When the sun began to set, and the fishermen were starting to get a little sleepy, they brought out the thermos of coffee, and added its contents to the cups of whiskey they'd been drinking all day as they fished.

Alas, the whiskey had a head start on the coffee, and one of the fishermen accidentally dropped the thermos over the side of the boat.

"You fool," said his friend, "that was my wife's thermos, and she'll be plenty mad to learn that we've lost it. The water is too dark and cold tonight, and we'll never find this spot again in the morning!"

"Don't worry," said the buddy, taking out a pocketknife. "I'll mark the side of the boat, so we'll be able to tell exactly where we dropped it."


In which I share a story gift: "The Girl with Wings" : for all my children

Storyteller and author George Shannon told me a bare-bones version of this story in 1995. He said that a friend sent it to him on the back of a postcard, and he didn't know what to do with it.

I know what to do with it: tell it. share it. live it. give it away! I've been telling this story for that many years; it is always my most-requested tale.

The Girl With Wings

Once there was born a girl with wings.


Can you imagine it?

Of course, at first the wings were just tiny stubs, barely visible at all, but very soon it was apparent to everyone: this girl had wings.

The neighbors came to visit, as neighbors will do, and when the neighbors saw the wings, they were appalled.

“What a horrible disfigurement for such a beautiful baby!” said the neighbors. “Of course you will have them removed immediately!”

But the parents said that they were content to wait and see.

And they sent the neighbors away very politely.

The child grew, as children will do, and she learned to smile a…

In which Fiddle and I use the tools provided to fit her new boots

True to their word, the good people at EasyCare popped a Fit Kit into the mail to me just before they left to go on vacation for the holidays.

The kit contained five boot shells, and a bunch of very clear instructions.

Out I went this afternoon, to use the kit (and the instructions) to see if I can get a better fit for Fiddle's boots.

Willy got a new camera for Christmas from his dad, so he offered to take some extra photos for me.

He's still new at the whole camera thing, so he wanted some practice...handy, since it's so difficult to juggle a foot, a rasp, and a camera all at once. Willy and I both took tons of photos and notes so that Tara and Garrett at Easy Care as well as all the hoof geeks reading this (you know who you are) will be able to offer advice.EDIT: I came back on January 3rd and did even more tweaking, mostly trying to fit a size #1.5 on--this size fit better than I expected on three of her feet. The later tweaks are noted in blue.

The key points in the instr…

In which I share a story gift: "King Solomon's Magic Ring". Share it!

This is a story from the Jewish tradition. I first heard Joel ben Izzy tell it in concert many years ago. This story has gotten me through some tough times.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, this story is for you. If you know other people who are feeling overwhelmed, this story is for them. Send it along, won't you?

King Solomon’s Ring

The wise King Solomon once had a captain of the guards who was very brave, very bold, and very obedient. He was also very boastful.

The guard was forever bragging about the brave, bold deeds that he and his guards had done in the service of the wise King Solomon.

King Solomon admired the brave, bold deeds. He did not admire the boasting.

So he decided to teach the captain of the guards a lesson.

He called to the captain, and he made the following assignment:

“There is a ring, I have heard of, a ring with a very special power: it can change the heart of a sorrowing man into the heart of a joyful man. It can also change the heart of a joyful man into the hea…

In which it's a nice green Christmas, and I've been blogging for a whole year!

Christmas dawned bright and early, and (after opening a few useful gifts, like wonderful fingerless gloves that my mom knitted!)

Jim and I left Willy alone with his new guitar and took the horses out for a little ride in the clear cold day.

Hana and Jim do a few yoga stretches before we leave the trailer.

Fiddle poses for her pre-ride photo. Even a Swamp is beautiful on a day like today. Blue sky! Sunshine!
It was doggone cold, of course.
Here in the Swamplands, we have only a few choices for December weather, and the clouds that so often rain down upon us are the same clouds that keep our normal temperatures above freezing....
It's okay. No complaining, I promise. If I don't have to shovel the weather, I won't complain. But it sure was great to get back to the truck, where a thermos of nice hot tea was waiting for us. Exactly one year ago today I wrote my very first Haiku Farm blog post, bemoaning the wretched weather and hoping like crazy that someday we would be able to buy…

in which I share a story gift: "Drumming Wisdom" (for parents and kids)

Today is a day when a lot of parents might wish in vain for a little peace and quiet.

This story is for you.

Drumming Wisdom

There was once a small boy who banged a drum all day and loved every moment of it. He would not be quiet, no matter what anyone else said or did. His distracted parents didn’t know how to make him stop.

The child’s teacher told the boy that he would, if he continued to make so much noise, perforate his eardrums; this reasoning was too advanced for the child, who was neither a scientist nor a scholar. And so, the drumming continued.

The local minister told him that drum beating was a sacred activity and should be carried out only on special occasions. The child didn’t believe a word of this, and so the drumming continued.

A neighbor offered the parents plugs for their ears; another neighbor gave the boy a book; a friend gave the neighbors books that described a method of controlling anger through biofeedback; a doctor prescribed meditation exercises to make the child …

In which I share a story gift: "Two Brothers" (give it to a loved one!)

I got this story many, many years ago from storyteller Eric Kimmel. I hope you love it as much as I do!

Two Brothers

A long time ago, and far away from here, there lived two brothers.

The elder brother lived at the north end of the farm with his family: his wife and many children.

The younger brother lived at the south end of the farm. He lived all alone, for he had no wife and no children.

These brothers lived at opposite ends of their farm, and together they worked the land, plowing, planting, tending, and harvesting the grain. The harvest was sacked and shared evenly between the brothers, and each man stored his half of the grain in his own barn.

One night the younger brother woke suddenly from a sound sleep and thought to himself, "What have I done?

"My brother has a wife and children to support. How unfair of me to take half of the harvest!"

To this brother, thought was the same as action.

He got dressed in the middle of the night, went to his barn, and carried a bag of his…

In which I share a story gift: "Pulling the Rope" : a tale for couples

Jim and I are often invited to tell this story as part of wedding ceremonies. It's adapted from a traditional American story collected by Pleasant de Spain in his book Sweet Land of Story.
Pulling the Rope : a traditional American story (retold)

Once upon a time, and it wasn’t so long ago, either, either, there was a girl.

You would never hear this girl say things like, “Oh, I could never lift that heavy thing.”

She would never say things like, “I’m just not sure what to do.”

And she would NEVER say things like, “Whatever you want is fine with me.”


This girl would rather say things like, “Let me give you a hand with that.”

Or she would say things like, “I’m sure I can handle it.”

And she would often say things like, “You have my word on it.”

So that was okay.

There was also a boy.

You would never hear this boy say things like, “Why don’t we wait and find out?”

He would never say things like, “I think it would be too difficult.”

And he would NEVER say things like, “I don’t have time to help…

In which we are up on the the housetop (click-click-click) making spirits bright

Since the story for today is all about filling up the house, it seems appropriate to show photos of us decorating the house.

For two hours this weekend, there was no rain. We took advantage of the break in the weather, and up we went, onto the roof!

We've always been kind of indifferent to decorating for the holidays (well, especially me), but this year we have a house of our own. Somehow, that makes a big difference.

Willy was the ground-support crew. With him on the ground to move the ladder around and hand us supplies and tools, Jim and I could work a lot faster because we didn't have to keep climbing down from the roof to get stuff.

II actually enjoy being on the roof, and have cleaned the gutters on the house twice since we've moved here, just so I have an excuse to climb up there and mess around.
Puzzle disapproves of having people on the roof. He stayed in the window the entire time we were up there, meowing and telling us to get down!
Finished product:
We had eno…