Friday, February 17, 2012

Six weeks later...

The Resolution Locomotive left New Year's Junction at a steady, if not slow and bumpy pace.  It is now safe to say, though, that the line has completely derailed just shy of Six Week Station.

Writing?  Well, the blogging has improved somewhat but I have not been writing nearly enough.  Weight loss? Ha. Although I did hop on the treadmill once a week the last couple weeks. Reading?  Sort of.  I'm now about 50 pages into Anna Karenina - woo hoo! (seriously, I am enjoying the story even though it doesn't seem to be reading "quickly").  Budget? Not quite what I had hoped. I've been maxing out the allotment for groceries.  Job? I don't think I have been making as much progress there as I should have, but there is still time and I do feel more focused, although I foresee the need for more training which means more debt. 

Perhaps you're reading this, and thinking, "man, why do I need to read about this?" You don't, so I do appreciate your time BUT I am feeling both relief because it is only six-seven weeks into the year so I can still turn it around and I am also feeling more accountability for the goals I made for myself just by putting them out into the beautiful blogosphere. Hopefully, you may feel the same if you are in a similar situation with your resolutions. In the immortal words of Red Green, "I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together."

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Adventures of JessAnn Simmentals

Greetings to Rural Women Rock followers and thank you for taking the time to read!

I am a co-owner of JessAnn Simmentals with my mother and brother.  My mother does a lot of the heavy lifting, in more ways than one, but we utilize our different strengths to make our small cow-calf operation work.  I love working with Simmental beef cattle because they make excellent mothers, muscle well and tend to have pretty good dispositions (although our cattle dislike men, for some reason). We refer to ourselves as hobby farmers, and as a hobby, beef cattle can be expensive and stressful at times. But when things go well, and the cattle grow well, then it is the most satisfying work that can be done.

I bought my first Simmental, Lady Nick, from Bartlett Island Farm in 1998. I selected her using the most scientific method possible that only the best judges use: I liked the way the she looked at me. Not the way she looked TO me. She made eye contact and I decided I wanted her.  Lisa is the last daughter of Lady.  Lisa reminds me a lot of her mother, both in looks and disposition. She is now bred to a purebred Simmental bull, after being bred to Holsteins two years in a row, so I hope she has a heifer in the spring.

Mom thinks Lisa is spoiled. She will violate the "hula hoop rule" of personal space with people when grain is involved, and I never have corrected her for it. I'm not the only human spoiling bovines in the operation, however, and I would say that Mom's favorite is Maebelle.

Our cows are as important to us as we are to them.  We do everything we can to ensure they are healthy, safe and content.  Despite our personal off-farm struggles, we have been able to continue developing our herd.  Through this process I learned what my mother is capable of doing when her back is against the wall (which is only part of the reason she is one of my top Rural Women Rock Stars).  Her ability to handle everything on her plate is simply remarkable. I also gained a greater understanding of how important beef cattle, rural living and supportive friends and family are to me.

Thank you Rural Women Rock for the opportunity to share my story, and I hope you enjoyed a little slice of life from Maine.

Seven Thoughts on a Super Bowl

I follow sports, and with my home team New England Patriots in the title game, I sat down and watched it through to the end. The soul-crushing, heart-rending, agonizing end.

1) Team entrance songs: New York plays what is essentially a pop song while New England comes out to Ozzy. New England 1, New York 0.

2) Kudos to Tom Coughlin for singing along with America the Beautiful and the Star Spangled Banner.  I understand coaches and players have their rituals and mental preparations before a game, but why not carve out a minute a two to show respect? It would certainly set an example for fans.

3) Still can't believe Brady scored the first two points for the Giants...however, that kicker did an amazing job of pinning the Pats near the end zone throughout the game.

4) Commercials: if they continue to be disappointing, will the advertising lose its effectiveness and worth?  There were some gems - and these led me to the conclusion that comedic commercials with dogs or Betty White are solid bets.

5) Best commercial overall was Samsung Galaxy Note. Why?  It was over the top, had humor ("this feels like detention") I know what the product was, I loved the song used, and - most importantly - I. WANT. ONE. Marketing success.

6) Halftime Show: Definitely a show.  Madonna's older music was great, but I do believe her latest song is more appropriate for Avril Lavigne or The Pussycat Dolls. Overall, it was far better than last year's show featuring Black Eyed Peas. I think we can all agree that lip-synching (although necessary to not incur the wrath of the FCC) takes something away from the artists and their performances.

7) I am a Patriots fan. The last play was absolutely heartbreaking BUT shouldn't every Super Bowl end with a Hail Mary attempt?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Inspiration in the strangest places

For me, this photograph represents finding something unique in something fairly ordinary.  If you must know what it is before reading any more, scroll to the bottom of the blog entry.  But today, I saw this and decided to capture it with my camera because I saw something abstractly beautiful.  

As a hobby photographer, I am always seeking the "Kodak moments" that surround me.  Usually, it is in the landscape around me, but sometimes I see them in animals and people (especially in relaxed, natural poses and actions). I love looking out off the back porch and watching the sunset each night because it is always beautiful and always, always different.  And of course, I love unexpected artistic moments like the one above.

Photographs are not the only creative endeavors for which I seek and find unexpected inspiration.  As I returned from morning errands, and had my Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Greatest Hits blaring away on the car's sound system, my mind wandered to a future blog entry topic.  This type of behavior is exactly why I  have NO desire to text while I drive. Anyway, it was the first time I can recall the Heartbreakers being able to single-handedly turn on the faucet of my creative juices so hopefully I can turn to them again when I need help (or just need to hear "American Girl" one....more....time....).

As for the above picture?  Beet juice in a stainless steel kitchen sink.