Farewell Nancy Mae

I know she can hear me…

Her eyes closed, pressed into drug induced coma.  The air from the oxygen clashing with the rattling rasp coming from her throat.         The death rattle.  I recognize it.

So much I want to say but as I go to speak my words catch and my eyes well and the words cannot tumble out without the crashing of tears inhibiting my sentiments.

So I stay silent.

She taught me to be a woman.  A good woman.

A good wife, calming and agreeable.  No matter what grandpa says, even if it is terribly obvious that she knows that bit of information, she looks grateful and sweet and nods.  Everything he says is fascinating.  Ever caring, every meal made with love, every thing taken care of for him.  The looks they share.  A love affair of seventy-something years.  To be a wife like that.

A good mother, adoring and loving.  Her children make up the fiber of her essence and she would have done-or did do- anything to help them.  Across the miles or next door, her love for them never failed.

A good grandmother, ever supportive and beloved.  Beloved.  Cookies in the cookie jar and hot coffee at the ready.  Even if we were six years old.  Always there for us.  Always cheering us on.  Like we were the most important people in the world.  Grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great grandmother.  She has lived a life of loving.  I think she waited until my second granddaughter, Ayla Mae, was born a few months ago, on their 70th wedding anniversary.

Every piece in me she filled, that of mother, grandmother, friend.

There was room in her house for anyone who needed a place to stay.  Always ready with a handout or a smile.  Her generosity extended endlessly.

She taught me to sew, to crochet, to cook eggs.  Every Tuesday for years as an adult I would pick her up and we would go to IHOP or a new restaurant (usually IHOP though, she loved the pancakes) and then shopping.  We talked about anything and everything.

She grew up on a farm.  She married a dashing cowboy at the age of sixteen.  Grandpa.  She was a waitress for many years because, in her words, she had nice legs.  Oh my goodness, I will miss that woman.

I know she can hear me.

Goodbye Grandma.

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Grandma and Grandpa used to take me and my cousin, Helen on many fun adventures.

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My first crocheted blanket that Grandma taught me to make.

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My grandparents with their great, great granddaughters. So much to be thankful for. A life well lived.

Nancy Mae Horner

May 26, 1932-February 18, 2009

In Hilda’s Farmhouse

20180802_152433As I carefully unwrapped each fragile teacup, each plate, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  Each dish is over a hundred years old, hand painted from Denmark, and so beautiful.  How did the young newlywed, the new farm wife, feel as she carefully unwrapped such fine things on her wedding?  A hundred years separates and joins us in a flash of a tea cup.

My beautiful friend, Kat (whom I called mom) had a great love of history, and homesteading, and family.  She knew that I might be the only one to appreciate such things as old linens, and wind up clocks, and this and that, and so for each holiday I was gifted with heirlooms.  Hilda was her grandmother, a farm wife in Iowa and in my home I have her things.  I have never met her but we are connected through time as farm wives.  As women.  As housewives.  We are connected by our love of Kat and by the material things she used that carry memories and love.

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Gunhilda was her given name, but she always went by Hilda.  Her family was Danish and her husband was from Denmark.  A darling looking man named Jorgen, or George once he came to the states.  They were married in 1918 when Hilda was twenty-three years old.

I have read her old postcards often.  I am fascinated by her friends’ scripts and brief notations.  How sweet to receive such correspondence on a snowy day.

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I put on one of the aprons that Hilda made.  They are starting to fray but they are sturdy and lovely in their simple way.  A good sized pocket to gather eggs.

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I will make tea for the ladies that might come by for a visit.  Just as she would have done in that farmhouse past the rows of corn a hundred years ago and just as women will do a hundred years from now.  We are all connected by that nurturing spirit, love of family and community, and of simple things like hand painted dishes so fine.

The Gushing Grammie and Mini-Farmgirl

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We have the great honor of babysitting our granddaughter, Maryjane, five days a week during the day.  Many of you know our sweet Maryjane in person and many of you know her through my writings.  Some of you were there when she was born, peeking through the computer screen at our newborn.  She has stellar parents who work hard and go to school so we lucked out to be able to watch her.  It is one of the joys of homesteading and making our own schedule.  We live with less, but we have time.

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This little girl has the most adventurous spirit.  She brings out the fun in us too.  I have found myself pretending to feed my “horse” while we are driving and picking our imaginary horse carrots from the front seat.  She wants to play music.  Any platform at all from umbrella stands at restaurants to real stages will find her atop them singing.  She dances suddenly and smiles unabashedly.  Then throws a mighty temper when she doesn’t get her way.

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She loves animals and is a compassionate little girl, brushing the hair from your face and kissing you if you are sad.  She notices everything in her little world.  She is a great gift to this life and I am so very thankful for her.  She makes this farm all the better.

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The moment she entered the world I had the oddest sensation that I knew her.  Like we had been sisters or friends running through woods together in a past life.  I knew her soul instantly.  Perhaps I just knew her because she came from my daughter.  I do not know.  All I know is that this is the greatest job that Doug and I have had yet.  And when the others have children we are getting a van that reads “Grammie and Papa’s Sittin’ Service” and will drive around town to pick them all up and bring them back to the farm!

Farm Days (goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, and trucks)

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Our little snow globe over here is thick with fog and freezing drizzle this morning.  Hopefully it will burn off soon.  We have a very large space of pasture that we are fencing in.  It has five rows of barbed wire around it, it just needs to be sectioned off from the rest of the ten acres but this goat and sheep mama is rather paranoid.  Coyotes!  Lambs and goat kids escaping!  It wouldn’t be hard.  My old greyhound will skirt under the wires if he feels the need to run five miles.  So pasture fencing will surround the space giving the adorable ruminants room to spread out and more grass to eat.

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feeding time

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This is the last week that the babies get bottles.  I am not sure who will be more devastated, the lambs or Maryjane!  She considers it her farm work.  As soon as we pull into the drive, scarcely awake from her groggy nap down fifty minutes of country roads, she jumps down and starts jabbering away about lambs and milk and bottles.  Nothing the untrained ear would understand, but I can see her excitement.  We may have a new baby next week from our friend’s farm, our own goats are due here in a few weeks and there will be plenty more bottle feeding opportunities for our mini-farmgirl!

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We are getting ducklings this week and today we pick up our farm truck.  Good thing since we need fencing!  This fog makes me want to join the cats though.

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Time to throw back another cup of joe and get to my farm chores.  I leave you with a lovely quote and a wish for a joyous day!

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The Life of a Healer- Part 7 (grandmothers and owls)

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As most readers figured out early on, Wildflower was the name my mother gave me as my Indian name when I was born.  I felt compelled to explain to folks what I do, as owning an Apothecary could mean anything from growing pot (we don’t) to being as screwy as the shop I ran into in Old Colorado City (virtual tinctures where the herbs never touch the liquid…uh, okay….), and healer…what does that mean?  But I found I could not tell how I became a healer or what I do without telling how we got here.  The miracles couldn’t be expressed without the rest of the story.  The last six chapters of this autobiography have rarely been uttered.  Why?  Fears of judgment, fears of folks thinking I was nuts, people thinking badly of me?  This is also the first time that I could relive the nightmare that was without having reoccurring dreams or tears.  I felt like I was writing about a past life or someone else’s life and it was quite a healing process.  I just had to write in third person.  It made it easier to get the memories out.  I do hope that it might reach someone out there who needs it.  Perhaps it will save a life, or encourage a young intuitive person, or bring faith and hope to those who need it.  Now, on with the rest of the story.

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Teachers come in and out of our lives seamlessly sharing their knowledge then moving on.  The first medicine person came up to my booth at the farmer’s market quite some years ago.  She had long grey hair and lived in her car traveling wherever the winds took her.  She was kooky enough to have a long conversation with my dog the first time she met him, yet psychic enough to know my family history before I did.  And she was there to teach me.  My son is more psychic than I am and things would happen, like Doug’s grandfather appearing to him after he died, or things would talk with him.  We could tell that there was lots of activity going on in our home in Parker and she came to help get it all out and quieted as it was really bothering my son.  She showed me how to smudge with sage and what to say to put a shield around the house.  She was the first person to tell me about the grandmother that looks over me and that she could see right next to me.  I was skeptical but was trying to be a good listener.  She told me the spirit grandmother was an American Indian.  Now, there had long been rumors of a bit of Indian blood in us and every part of my family has the one or two kids in the group that are darker than the rest.  Including two out of three of mine.  But, we had no proof, no names, and no idea what side of the family it was on.  The grandmother’s name was Mary and she stayed very close to me at all times, she said.

I am using the term Medicine person because in our culture that is what we would see them as.  But medicine women and men are essentially herbalists.  But there are many who are readers, shamans, and spiritual leaders and for the sake of this post, we’ll call them medicine people.  For they were medicine to me.

The Indian woman needed medicine for her dog and after giving her some cash and some medicines she was off to find another place.

A trip down genealogy lane and a little pressure on my grandfather revealed that his father who had committed suicide during the depression was Cherokee.  Then he stopped talking and said that it wasn’t enough to worry about.  His father’s mother’s name was Mary.

Did you know that being Native American was illegal until just a few decades ago?  You could go to jail, you have your land taken from you, your mother would have written on your birth certificate that you were white, and folks didn’t talk about family members.  This saddens me.  I am proud that I have this heritage.

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I also found a picture of my great grandma on the other side of the family who was Yeopim and who was forced into becoming a Quaker.  So both sides had this culture, and of course the Celtic side has a lot of herbalists in it too, so combined into me, it would explain a lot about why I could see ailments and lay hands on someone and feel where the initial injury was and then know how to repair it.  It gave me quite a lot of comfort.  I could use my abilities for more than knowing when the phone would ring.

The next medicine person had been one of my students.  I had a dream that she was my next teacher.  She looks white as most of us are all mixed up now genetically and I had no idea that she was a shaman or the things she had gone through to get to that point.  I didn’t know what she was to teach me either.  She taught me how to shield myself.  I really wanted to learn more cool stuff regarding healing but she was there to teach me how to create shields.  Many healers take a physical turn for the worst later in life after absorbing so much around them.  Healers, including myself, pick up emotions and physical feelings from everyone around them.  After years of this, the body can succumb.  It could very well be the reason my grandmother has had chronic pain for twenty years.  Protecting myself was my next lesson.  She showed me how to walk a medicine wheel praying in each direction and being humble to the Creator.  How to layer on shields around my physical self and how to turn off sound.  I can make someone’s voice muffled if I don’t want to hear everything they are saying.  I love listening to people.  I like comforting folks.  I am happy that people feel they can come to me and talk to me about anything, even if they hardly know me.  That is one of my gifts.  People feel compelled to tell me things and that is healing to them.  But it is the ones who complain non-stop that I have to shield myself from or I end up anxious and sometimes depressed.   It was a great gift to learn how to shield.

The next medicine person is still in my life and is a reader, a Catholic priest, and a hospice chaplain.  He is Hopi.  A calm spirit surrounds him.  He helped me when my friend died so suddenly.  He helped me understand the hypersensitivity that surrounds being a healer.  I cannot be under fluorescent lights very long.  I do not use overhead lighting at all.  Only oil lamps, candles, and twinkly lights.  I love soft music but can’t be around loud noises, and the television drives me crazy.  I simply cannot handle the lights and sounds from it.  Large groups of people overwhelm me.

Many years ago he had done a reading for me that showed how our family was doing.  (Tarot cards are not necessarily of the devil, folks.  If used properly they are simply a tool in helping us see clearly.)  Andrew would very likely become a spiritual leader later on.  Shyanne was often pulled one way or another because of her peace keeping abilities and needed to make sure she didn’t end up in relationships that took advantage of her.  Emily was seen as a strong storm.  Strong willed and well balanced.  Doug and I would continue to grow stronger together and our business would prosper.  He also said that I had a direct connection to the Creator.  Everyone does, but that this was a bit different.  I was going to be used to help the Creator and would increase my healing abilities.  The most recent reading was astounding and powerful.  And exciting things are to come as I let go and let things occur and trust myself and my surroundings.

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The other current teacher probably doesn’t even know he is a teacher to me right now.  He also mentioned the grandmother at my side that is always making sure no one hurts me spiritually and helps me with the herbs.  He is perhaps the sixth person who has seen her without prompting.  He further described her and told me about her history matching where she lived to the ancestry I had been researching.  She was a healer but since it was illegal to practice Indian religions, and herbalism was often seen as part of that, so was therefore illegal, she kept it a secret.  A line of medicine women, a long family history of herbalism was passed down from person to person but all in secret.  Until one day someone was brought to the grandmother who needed desperate help and she healed him.  He told me how she dresses and it is the same as how I dress (long skirts, aprons, a bit old fashioned I suppose) and what she looked like.  It was how I saw her too.

This teacher is a religious leader, a representative for Indian affairs in the schools, and a Shaman, clearing spirits and negative entities from places and people.  He holds knowledge and language that is being lost and our Thanksgiving prayer this year was all the sweeter with his prayer in his Indian language.  At the Talking Circle he runs on Sundays I was given a gift not many people experience.  A ceremony.  A traditional ceremony to restore the spirit and strength of a healer.  It is well known that this year was monstrously difficult for me.  And as the feathers swooshed by the face, and the language floated through the air, and the protection was laid on me, I could feel my spirit soar and my strength regenerated.

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Through the years I have been able to better understand my gifts.  I know that these gifts are from the Creator, and are used to help people.  I understand myself by knowing my genetic makeup.  I understand why I am a little different but that it is not a bad thing.  I understand how to use my gifts to help folks live better lives and teach people how to heal themselves and their animals.  I empower people to not lose faith.  I live on a farm where the animals are safe.  The breezes are peaceful across the prairie.  The views are awe inspiring.  This is my respite.  My healing place.  We grow or wildcraft almost all of the sixty-plus herbs that we use in my medicines.  I am now learning more about the spiritual use of these same herbs.  For instance, Angelica is a hormone balancer yet also acts as protection from negative energies.  St. John’s Wort is named for St. John the Baptist and also creates a shield around a person while virtually stopping depression and anxiety.  Hawthorn heals heartbreaks as well as physically strengthens the outer muscle of the heart.

The owls have been here since we moved in and they are increasing.  They fly over my head into the nearest tree.  They are my spirit animal.  But they are also a sign of transition.  I am nowhere near my peak.  A woman does not come into her complete ability until her menses stop.  I have much to learn still and many people to reach.  I have folks to teach and inspire.  I have more plants to learn from and more teachers ahead of me.  And I am a teacher too.  The future looks bright.

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A Letter To Young Parents…(to avoid the woulda, coulda, shouldas)

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Dear Parents of Small Children,

There are some things that are not told that should be told.  You may hear that time flies and you will be left alone, so enjoy your kids.  That is the extent of what we hear!  My youngest turned sixteen yesterday.  A brilliant young girl, soon to be a mama herself.  Quiet and serene.  We were always trying to make her talk more.  People still want her to talk more.  Do not people please!  These are your children and no matter what well meaning family or friends say, these are your children and they will turn out well by example and a lot of love.  Do not force them to be anything other than what they are.  I sometimes wish I were as quiet as Emily.  I often stick my foot in my mouth and wish I could just be quiet!

When the kids cut their own hair, laugh and take pictures.  When they cut their hair thirty times, laugh and take pictures.  She can cut her hair beautifully now and any and all making her feel bad from us or other well meaning family and friends was unnecessary and hurtful.  Let kids be!

Should they draw all over the walls, take a picture, laugh, and perhaps join them.  Maybe make a designated wall, maybe just get them a big sheet of paper, either way, paint is cheap.

Listen.  Sometimes it is hard when they are bantering on about crazy ideas, but don’t interrupt, just listen.

Don’t spank.  It is just you being mad and they know that.  They will never remember what they did wrong.

Be outside as much as possible.  Children thrive with sunshine, water, and air.  Just like plants, they grow…and smile, and become great nature people.  That is one thing I did right (I hope not the only!), no video games.  They would say they were bored, then have half the neighborhood out exploring creeks and parks, and having a great time while making memories and became closer siblings.

Dinner at the table as many evenings as possible with real food.  Not fake!  No processed lab stuff, real food.  Start a garden and have them help grow a few things so they know what real food is.  You would be surprised how many kids (and believe it or not, adults) do not know what meat actually is or where vegetables come from.

They will become teenagers and no one warns you of the utmost desperation you will feel, your powerlessness, your broken heart.  No one talks about this, but it happens to everyone.  But as soon as you feel like you have been crushed, smothered, and broken hearted enough, they will come out of it and love you even more.

And as they get older, do notice for yourself as we do, that we anxiously avoid any well meaning family member that feels they have to lecture us about our life every time they see us.  Past seventeen, your done.  Enjoy.  They are their own people!

Above all, even though you are human, try with all of your heart to say only nice things, only positive things, make lots of great memories, trips, holidays, family gatherings.  As many hugs and kisses as you can muster, even if they are naughty….none of it matters.  You will not remember it and if you do, you will laugh at the memory.

Just think….if they die tomorrow, will this matter today?  The answer is probably not.  I would love to go back and try again.  But I know now that is why grandmothers are amazing and so loving!  They figured it out!  This is our second chance at loving kids and not worrying about what we are doing right or wrong.

So dear parents, enjoy the journey!

Love, Katie

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