Friday, December 19, 2008

Blue Christmas

Just a note to update everyone. Won't be here for a while because my Poppa just died...

I am working on a Christmas post with pictures of all our snow and ice, but in case it isn't done before Christmas- Merry Christmas to all of you, my friends! You can read my Christmas story in the December 2007 archives if you want.
I love and value each of you!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Farewell my friend...

This is my friend Brenda.
This is her son, the light of my life and my little buddy, Levi. Notice the cheesy smile!
This was the last time I saw him in June, after his momma had been missing for a little over 3 weeks. He is at my house, and this is the only time he let go of me long enough for me to take a picture of him. The rest of the time he held my hand sitting right next to me on the couch as we watched videos and talked, or he sat on my lap. All 13 years of him.

Brenda and Levi came into my life like a hurricane eight years ago when I decided I wanted to go back to work in special education for the first time since the birth of my children. My daughter was in 1st grade then, and I wanted to be at the same school with her and to be able to bring in a little extra money at the same time. I had previously worked in the special education field for 20 years, all the way up to, and a little bit after the birth of my first child- when I decided I wanted to be home with my baby, and that getting my head bashed into the chalkboard was soooo yesterday.

Enter Levi. Levi is autistic, and my specialty in my career choice of special education was autistic children, especially those with aggressive behavior disorders. He fit that bill perfectly.
Tiny but powerful, Levi lived inside his head to the exclusion of all else. Full of anger and frustration that his limited communication skills would not allow him to express fully, he had already been there done that kindergarten thing, but it was decided it would be tried again here on the mountain and with a 1:1 aide. That turned out to be me.
Little did I know that my life would forever be changed by Levi and his mother.

The first time I met Brenda I recognized her as an alcoholic. I was able to see her with different eyes than most everyone else, as I am also an alcoholic- sober 18 years this past April. Most people just saw a drunk, I saw a woman who fought many demons daily. I saw a woman of courage and great strength who had to walk through a valley filled with traps each and every day. Someone who would do ANYTHING for her child. Someone who was lost, and had no knowledge at all that she was a child of God and that there was a father in Heaven who loved her more than she could comprehend.

To say that Brenda's life revolved around Levi would be the understatement of the century. As a single mother, Brenda was the hub of Levi's existence, and her reason for living. She loved him fiercely. As it is with most autistic children, Levi had trouble with self control. He was on the path to trouble with his hitting and slapping, and Brenda was the recipient of that all too frequently. Still, she stayed.

There were times in my career where I found myself forced to call Child Protective Services on a parent because their child was at risk for injury or abuse. That child would be healthier, happier and safer outside their home environment.

I knew that Levi would die if he were taken from Brenda, and that the same was true for her. They lived and breathed for each other, and their lives were richer for their relationship. They were like the earth and the sun orbiting around each other.

When Levi was in second grade, I wrote a book about him. It is called "Donny is Different".
Brenda was thrilled by it, and everyone who read it loved it. Levi was very intelligent, sweet, kind and very affectionate to those whom he loves, a very different kind of child from the typical autistic children I had ever worked with before- at any age. Capable of learning reading, and basic math, yet still super involved with self stimulation, prone to be extremely loud and to horrible tantrums, Levi was able to show impulse control- something most autistic children are not able to exhibit at all. Levi was mainstreamed all throughout his school time here with regular classes, and made many 'normal' friends who were kind and very accepting of him.

It was my pleasure to be able to work professionally with him from kindergarten through third grade, and to see him mature and completely stop any aggressive behavior and tantrumming.
To grow into a fine young man who can carry on a normal conversation with you, express himself fully and coherently, and whose loving personality and winsome smile can light up a room the instant he walks in.

Over the years I became close to
Brenda, and even after I stopped working with Levi in the school- he went on to the middle school up here and I stayed home with my daughter who was having health problems- Levi would come to my house once a week and I would tutor him. My children learned all about autism from Levi, Cameron and Codi both learned to love him. My daughter especially held a special place in her heart for him because they attended the same schools all through the years and she saw how cruel children could be and stuck up for him whenever she could.
We went to his birthday parties, exchanged gifts for all the holidays, and often we would just stop by and tell them we loved them. I advocated for him at IEPs and spent some time in his middle school classes so I could report back to Brenda that everything was indeed going well.

Brenda always said we were family, that I would always be a part of their lives, no matter where they went or how old we all got to be. She said that she told her sister- who was Levi's guardian in case something ever happened to Brenda- that I was to be kept in his life, always. That I was family.
We talked a lot, about everything. She was there for me through a whole lot of crap in my life, and I always told her how incredibly strong she was- and she never believed me. Always positive about everybody else and always self deprecating, that was Brenda.

Once she touched my daughter deeply by taking her into her room and opening her jewelry box, and giving many pieces of old and beautiful costume jewelry to her. She said "I don't have a daughter, so you will be mine and I'll share you with your mom from now on."

Last year she found love. It was a man who said he loved her, and who -more importantly- loved Levi. This was what Brenda had been looking for, she was beaming, and lovely in love. They moved out of their little trailer and into his house. She sold all of her belongings, truly believing this would be the last move she would ever have to make. Levi would have the daddy he deserved, they would be a whole family...
Things were strained but she tried to make it work.
Then things became abusive, and she moved back into her mobile home, and that was the beginning of the end.

This is my Levi in the third grade with his science project.

Now for the hard part and I apologise ahead of time if I am too brief and short on the whole story, it is very painful and I only hope that writing about it might ease that a little.

I said that the last time I saw Levi was in June. The day after this picture was taken he moved off the mountain and with his aunt.

In May, Brenda went missing.
Prior to this, everyone had noted a change in Brenda. I noticed she was more depressed. She wasn't returning my calls. Since the hard break up a few months earlier, she had vacillated between an "everything's gonna be even better now" attitude and being overwhelmed and frustrated, and then there was the sadness...

She went through a stage shortly after the break up where she was trying to figure out her life, Levi had her smoking outside all the time, handwritten "No Smoking In The House!!!" signs on the door, and Brenda was talking about getting sober. Having quit drugs already after a scary stint in rehab, I encouraged her- you can do it! It lasted for a while, and during that time Brenda looked for God. She looked in books, she prayed all the time, and she even asked me about my church. She had often said she wanted Levi to know about Jesus, and I had invited him to church many times, but to Levi Jesus was in his heart, and church was where you had to be quiet all the time.

Brenda invited the missionaries from my church to come and talk with her, and invited me as well to come. She said she saw what God was doing in my life, and she wanted that for herself. She always had faith that He was there, she gave thanks to Him daily for the many blessings in her life- what was missing was the personal knowledge that she was a highly valued daughter of God. That she had a divine purpose, and that most importantly, she could find redemption through Him.

I had great hope that she would find what she was looking for, but she couldn't.
She became morose, called me a few times crying, could I just take Levi for a while?
Then, I heard nothing from her for a whole month. Then came May, and she was gone.
That May day Brenda dressed up nicely, and got on one of our local transit buses. Everyone thought she was going to work, but later her friend found a note from her saying she just couldn't do it anymore.

In the note she said to take Levi to her sister, that she loved him with all her heart, and that she was tired.

She left a perfectly packed bag for Levi in her house, and her wallet and purse with all her ID in it next to the bag where it would be found easily.

She was last seen in a mini mart where she bought a turkey sandwich and a bottle of vodka.
People said she just took off, she had done it before- before Levi was born anyway- and she would be back.

Friends searched the mountains for her around where she was last seen without finding any trace.

I knew. I knew Brenda would never leave Levi if it wasn't for good. I knew....

A couple of weeks ago a hiker's dog found some remains near a secluded spot in the mountains with a spectacular view of the valley below, and the house where her dreams were dashed to bits.

Yesterday the coroner identified the remains as Brenda.
I haven't seen Levi since. I hear he is adjusting well. He had been told previously that momma was gone taking care of a sick friend. But he knew, as the months passed, he knew...

I remember that last day I saw him, how he clung to me and told me he loved me over and over- "I love you Mrs. Black- you're a true friend"
Brenda's sister has never contacted me, and I fear I may never see him again.

Brenda, I miss you. You were incredibly strong with the heart of a lioness.

Levi, I think about you all the time I miss and love you ever so much.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What about Thanksgiving?

It's now November. Halloween is over and if you didn't know better, you might think Christmas is the next major holiday.

But it's not. Thanksgiving is. What happened to Thanksgiving? I know, I know, there aren't any twinkling lights and presents attached to it. Turkeys aren't as cute as elves, and Pilgrims are definitely a step down from Santa Claus.
Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, but what about Thanksgiving?

What happened to this holiday? It seems to have been lost in the shuffle. Redeposited where old outdated holidays go I suppose. Like Veteran's Day- when we used to have a parade every year when I was growing up. Like George Washington and President Lincoln's birthdays, now we just have "Presidents Day".
Like the Fourth of July is now just a day when we watch fireworks. Don't mention patriotism, don't you know... it's verboten.

I am thankful that I live in the USA. For the men and women who have died for my freedom. For my family members who have served, or are currently serving in the following armed forces: 2 National Guardsman, 1 Army Ranger, 1 Airforce pilot, 2 Navy, 1 Marine. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting yourself in harms way daily so that my family can enjoy the freedom we do.

Well, I for one want to remember this holiday. The Pilgrims came and settled here to escape religious persecution and to have the freedom to believe as they wanted without fear.
I am thankful for them.

I am thankful for a loving Heavenly Father, who is kind and forgiving, and through whom all things are possible. Including, but not limited to, the miracle that is my sobriety.

I am thankful for my church, which provides me with the opportunity to meet twice a week with outstanding young women like these above. I am a young woman leader in my church and it has been my privilege to associate with these shining examples of our future, and watch them grow. I only hope I can learn all they have to teach me before I die.

I am thankful for the little things in life. Naps and cats, soft beds and food to eat. A roof over my head, and clothing for my children.

I am thankful for the beauty that is around us. For nature's dance that we are a witness to every day. For glorious color and diversity.

I am thankful for all of God's creatures, great and small. For the chance to have saved this Monarch and the opportunity to be a part of her glorious emergence from sleep into this winged fairy creature.

I am thankful for my family, who has saved my life on more than one occasion. For my daughter, whose grace and beauty still take my breath away. For her kind and loving nature, for her extraordinary courage which amazes me daily. I am thankful for her sweet spirit and for how she stands up for what's right- no matter the cost. And she makes me laugh, oh she makes me laugh...

I am thankful for my husband, see him on the right? He is like Chaucer- a trudger. He is the hardest working man I know. I am thankful for his willingness to do anything he needs to for his family. Including taking a job in the fast food industry at age 50 to ensure that we have food on the table. For his dedication and love to his oh-so-less-than-perfect-wife. I love you...

I am thankful for my son. That's him on the right with the nunchuks. For his strength, the way he makes me laugh until I cry, and for his valiant spirit. For the way he keeps going, even though the road is a hard one. For his incredible talent in music, and how when I am going through a difficult time, he will bring out his acoustic guitar and just play for me... all of the songs he knows I love.

I am thankful for my parents. I have learned so much from them, and I would not trade them in for the world. Through good times and the not so good times, I love my father. I am proud of my mother and her dedication to her temple work. I am thankful for her, and so glad she is in my life.
I am thankful for my dog. One look into his eyes reminds me just what unconditional love is supposed to be. For knowing when I need a hug, and for always, always loving me- no matter what.

And I am thankful for my friends. You know who you are. The ones who support me through the good and the bad, and the ugly. The ones who make me want to be a better person. I don't know what I would do without my friends I have in my life, both in my church and outside of it. I have been buoyed up again and again by their strength, their determination, their courage in overcoming what seem to be at times insurmountable challenges.
I have come to love and rely on those friends never met in person...
I am thankful for you!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

my life

This is my "Poppa" with my daughter, who is sporting an alpaca kerchief on her head. This was taken about 5 years ago at an annual family picnic.

Poppa is my step dad, he and my mom have been married 18 years now. This is how I would like to remember him. He is the sweetest, happiest most positive man I have ever met. He has not been my step dad since we were sealed in the temple with my sister and brother and mom as an eternal family. He has been ever since, my Poppa.

Spiritual and full of knowledge he willingly shared with others, he was a gentle, wise man. Before Alzheimer's disease claimed his mind that is. A greeter at Wal-Mart, he is recognized everywhere. Once my mom and he were on vacation in Idaho and someone recognized him! They said, "Hey! What are you doing here? You belong in Wal-Mart!" to which he replied, "Even a greeter needs a vacation once in a while!"

Known for his holiday hats, cheerful disposition and the time he stood up to a hooligan in the store (and got his back broken for his troubles), he retired after 15 years as a greeter in January of this year, and people still ask about him.

Now he is in a convalescent home, he doesn't know where he is, he doesn't recognize family, and he is sad and confused all the time. It breaks my heart to see him like this. It makes me angry that his life has been taken over by this insatiable disease. I wish- God forgive me- he would just die in his sleep peacefully so we don't have to see that horrible look of confusion and frustration cross his sweet face ever again.

He has been labeled terminal, there is a DNR order so the idea is he will be on hospice care, kept out of pain and comfortable until he slips away... but I wonder if this horrible disease will chain him to his mortal body long after his mind should be gone.

Poppa has a rare condition that is in the same family as Muscular Dystrophy, it runs in his family and a couple of his kids are suffering from it, it is known as the 'falling down disease'. Earlier in life it was okay, he just lose his balance and be okay. Later it came to be a great hardship on him and my mother. He would fall, couldn't get up, then mom couldn't help him get up due to her lack of strength, and this could go on for a looong time. So they devised a system- more about that later. Luckily this disease seems to come with very tough bones and extremely fast healing properties. Never broke a bone.

This whole ordeal has made me think very hard about how vital simple human kindness is. I have seen the best and the worst of human nature rear it's fickle head while my poppa has been a silent recipient of either.

One nurse at the hospital- happened to be the head nurse- downplayed the fall poppa took out of his bed (over the rails and off the elevated bed while we were out looking for hospice facilities) and said the bruise we saw was only from an injection site (he never got any injections in his hip) and then refused to acknowledge the incredible pain he was in until I got all Shirley MaClain on his butt when he then got on the phone and got the Dr. to give him some morphine.
He claimed poppa only fell to his knees. When we told him that's how he learned to position himself after a fall so mom could help him get up, he said NO, he fell only on his knees. How in the world can anyone fall out of a bed the way he did and possibly land on his knees???

Anyone who has dealt with an Alzheimer's patient knows that the state of confusion they live in can lead to incredible agitation. Add to that serious pain that they don't remember doing anything to warrant having in the first place and you are left with a wreck. Poppa went through a night of hell because of this.
This nurse treated poppa, and all who were concerned with him, like we were less than human.

Three days later poppa had a bruise that ran all the way down his thigh, complete with a rail mark, and bruises on his back. Gee...

When we visited several convalescent hospitals, we vacilated between hearing the shower scene from Psycho track upon entering, and seeing nurses that greeted every patient by name, and stopped to visit with each of them even while conducting a tour for us.

Rooms that were customized with portraits, stuffed animals, televisions and plush bathrobes and comforters obviously provided by loving family members, and those patients who were curled up into unimaginable positions and left to stare at the same wall, left for dead, in a room devoid of even the most basic human comfort by all whom they loved over their long lives.

It makes you wonder, really, it makes you wonder...

I worry about my mother, she is so fragile health wise, and this has devastated her. Poppa is her eternal companion, EC- that's what he affectionately called her. She is so far away from me, I feel helpless... I spent a week out there when Poppa had his heart attack, then I came home and was supposed to go back out there today, but I can't afford to right now, there is only $17 in the bank to last our family of 4 two weeks until the next paycheck. Is there anyone who understands how frustrating it is to have to be somewhere that you can't be? It makes me want to scream out loud.

This is my joy! My only cria for the year, born to my sweet dancing girl. She is big and beautiful and the first multi we have had born on our ranch in 10 years! Thank God for little miracles. She was born the day after Poppa's heart attack, and the day I was trying to get out there with the kids so we could say our goodbyes while he was fairly lucid. I told mom I could leave because she wasn't due until the end of the month, surprise! I came out and there she was. So I had to leave her on her birthday, after ensuring everything looked good with her an her momma. Then I was gone for a whole week...

When I came back it was to this healthy bouncing cria that weighed 16.2 lb on her birthday, and 9 days later a whopping 22 lb!! Wow, what a big girl! She is stunning, extremely dense and crimpy fleece, perfect conformation and her daddy's Peruvian stance and head. Perfection.

After losing two of my precious young alpacas, Narya and Quickbeam- aka: Little Boy, last month, this is indeed a blessing. Although, as she and her momma are all we will be keeping, aside from a few boys, it is a double edged blessing. Yes, we are forced to sell our herd of alpacas and leave the business officially. We can't afford to keep them, feed them.... it is a decision we have made against our hearts, but we need to do what is best for our precious alpacas. When you cannot care for an animal the way they deserve to be cared for, then it is time to let them go.


This is Ella. You might remember my post that my beautiful Diane kitty went missing. Well she never came home. My sweet girl was with us for 10 years, and left us with a big hole in our hearts. Her independent attitude and 'Queen of the World' air are deeply missed. I still look for her and dream of her...
After some soul searching, we decided to adopt a kitty from a local rescue, and this is who we fell in love with.

It has been quite a few years since we had a kitty in the house... wow, she is the energizer bunny times 12!! We have had to 'childproof' the whole house, keep an eagle eye on the cleaning solution, and be as determined to keep her in the house as she is determined to get out! But she is a joy as well... small miracles...

So my friends, this is my life right now. Full of so much... I have an ulcer right now, and my neck is in constant pain due to all the stress and tension. Looking for a big miracle now...
Till next time,

Monday, October 13, 2008

The changing garden of Mister Bell

All Photographs Copyrighted by Rachelle Black 2008

This title is a song by children's artist Raffi.
I love Raffi! Some of his songs are just wonderful, and this is my favorite one. It reminds me of my friend Linda.

Linda owns a plant nursery here in our small town, and I have been working there very part time since March of this year. She can grow anything, and specializes in native plants. I swear that girl can put a penny in the ground and grow a $$ tree~

This is a Tiger Lily

Since we live in a mountain area, it is important to Linda that we only sell plants and flowers that will grow in our special climate. She does a great job stocking tons of wonderful things! The nursery is spectacular, full of color and light. Native grasses delicately wave and riotous colors abound everywhere you look. It is a feast for the eyes.

This is a Lemon Sunflower

It is a great job to have, I get to water, transplant, prune and care for everything. We decorate the nursery according to the seasons, and I just finished designing and planting some "Pumpkin Pots" where I actually scooped out the innards of some pumpkins and planted some fall colored flowers! It was great fun, and they look awesome!

These are some White Cosmos

I also get to do a lot of color bowl design, and help customers design their planters and flower beds. I love to do this, and I am getting back in touch with my gardening soul.

This is a Salvia "Hot Lips" ha-ha!
Watering and being among the flowers, with all the bees and good bugs is good for the soul. I enjoy it a great deal, and just wanted to share some of it with you!
Enjoy, and see you next time!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Interview

All photographs copyrighted by Wyatt & Rachelle Black 2007

So, I am so busy right now I though I'd just repost this interview from my dear friend Shrinky, (you can meet her at ( I love you Girl!!)

I promise to write a new and, er, fascinating post real soon, in the meantime- here goes!



Carol: Hello bonny lass,

Where are you hoofing it off to then? No fair, you were only gone a little while back ago, I'm only just recovering from the last time you up and left (abandonment issues) . Any-hows, thought I'd try and pose a few questions to make your brain bleed. (And don't flip the finger at the computer, I can still see you, you know!) Alright, pretend you still smoke and inhale deeply, here we go..
Good luck, bonny lass, I look forward to a good read! x

1) A nice, easy one to start, to lull you in to a false sense of security. I know both of your children are very musical, but I am intrigued as to how they discovered such a love of Celtic music. Is it in their blood?

Here they are both playing the Irish whistle together. They both play several different instruments in their Celtic group.

Well, certainly it is on their blood! :)) I am a Morrison by birth, and have researched my family line for my da who is just figuring it all out! LOL..... but I have always loved Celtic music, I played the piano as a child, composition, theory, performing, the whole ball of wax.
I tried to expose both of them to many different types of music while they were growing up, and hence they both have very diverse musical tastes. Cameron was my first, and he showed a very early aptitude for all things musical. His nickname is "Velcro Boy" for his ability to pick up an instrument, hear a tune, then commit it to memory and go on to play it perfectly. Codi has had to work a little harder, but she has a very good ear and has taught herself the fiddle and the flute. No small feat!

When an opportunity came up for my kids to join a Celtic group while learning their new instruments at that time (Irish whistle and guitar), we jumped at it, and it inspired me to learn how to play the fiddle. Which I do, very poorly LOL!! The kids have been in their group for 5 years now, and have won several awards for their efforts. My daughter also sings in a classic rock group, and my son plays guitar and drums in both a classic rock group, and in his High School Drumline. They took second place in their division this year!
As they grow older, they are interested in branching out beyond their Celtic roots, but they still hold a deep love for the music. It truly is beautiful and touches their hearts. As their little Celtic group has sort of dissapated this last year, as a family we have committed to continuing our learning, with me picking up the Bodhran to accompany them.

2) Are both of your parents still alive? Together? Can you reconcile your childhood experiences with your mother as she is today - was she a different person then, was it her illness that made her do the things she did, or do you feel she still could have made better choices?

Wow, well here goes- but remember, you asked for it!! Yes, they are both alive still. They were married young, childhood sweethearts from a troubled youth filled with boarding homes and foster care. They had my sister, who is much older than me. Then they divorced, and married other people. My father had 4 children with Maureen, his second wife. Two of them were little boys who didn't live beyond two days. The other two were my brother and sister, Jeff and Cindy.
My mother meanwhile, had no children with Ken, but formed a lifetime friendship with him and his subsequent family that lasted through the years, in fact just last week Ken died, and mo mom was there for the funeral.
Then they both got divorced from their respective mates, and they remarried each other.
They had me, and then as a last ditch effort to save their failing marriage, they had my little brother.
When I was 11 years old and my brother 5, they divorced again. My father remarried a woman just 6 months later, who had 8 children........ go figure.
My mother had a breakdown, and didn't remarry until 1990, when she met my Poppa- whom I believe saved her life.
My father has apologized many times over the years for not being there when I was a child, and has tried to make it up, we have a very nice relationship now.

Whew..... so, there it is in a nutshell.

Mother was a very different person then from who she is now. She really didn't have the skills to be a parent, and then she was forced to be one alone for years. Combine that with her fragile mental state, and her drug dependancy and she didn't stand a chance. For many years I was angry, just plain mad. It wasn't until I got sober, and had my son Cameron, that I was able to get to a place in my heart where I could even have a relationship with her. And she certainly had a lot of soul searching to do herself when she finally realized just how screwed up my life was. I don't know, could she have made better choices? I think yes, and no. Sometimes when we are so sick, we can't do anything but keep our heads above water. But also, I know as a mother, we always have choices. No matter how mad I was, I made the choice NOT to beat my children. And to get help when I needed it.
So, what it comes down to is the fact that we can't change the past, no matter how much we might want to. All we can do is live for the future, and in my future there is a mother whom I love, and accept for who she is. And I am glad. We are still learning about each other, and every year the layers peel back to reveal new secrets that we then shake out into the fresh air, and then discard- never looking back at them again. It is the only way I have found I can go on with her.

3) How did your older brother's death affect you?

Wow, aren't pulling any punches are you? :))
Okay.... well my brother committed suicide when I was only 15 years old, he was 21. He hadn't been living at home for a while, he was in Utah. I got a call from my mother while I was at a friend's house, playing quarters as a matter of fact.... drinking Schlitz malt liquor and getting plastered. I came home to find my mother in the house with all the drapes pulled, pitch black. She was Jeff's "California Mom" and she loved him dearly, and had helped to raise him. She told me my brother had died. She didn't want to tell me how, but eventually she did. I was only told he killed himself with a gun.
For about 10 years after his death- I got no more information than that. I was not allowed to go to his funeral, to this day I have never been to his gravesite.
My father refused to talk about Jeff. He couldn't even speak his name. So I lived with a hole in my heart that couldn't even begin to heal until I was an adult and finally got all the details from my older sister, who couldn't believe I didn't know anything.
Already barely keeping my own head above water, this I believe, just pushed me under for many years. I wrote a poem in the 8th grade about him, but the undercurrents of loss and grief never truly went away.
There is other history there with him that I am unable to share with everyone, but suffice it to say, it only compounded the issues I had to deal with upon his death.
My mother, who at this time wasn't beating me much anymore but was totally unable to cope with me as a teenager, couldn't turn to my father (whom she had never gotten over losing) so she just shut me out completely. I had no one to turn to, so I turned to alcohol and drugs even more than I had before. I dropped out of high school to take full time ROP and moved out when I was 16.
When I finally was given all the bits and pieces of his life and the tragedy that he brought upon himself, I had to learn to forgive him. Hard to forgive someone who is dead. But I have, and I look forward to hugging him someday beyond the veil, and telling him that I love him, so very much.

4) You have a dear, gentle brother who lives with autism, and from reading both of your blogs I know how close he is to you. What impact has he had on your life?

Well, my sister and I tease him about being "The Golden Child" because he missed out on mom when she was completely out of control, but there were plenty of times I had to protect him from goings on in our home. I always felt like he was mine, I think that sense of responsibility started before he was even born. From the day of his birth I took him under my arm and as long as I lived at home, I took care of him and made sure he was safe from all the craziness as much as I could. As an adult I have been his advocate during many court procedures and fights he has had to go through to receive benefits due him. I guess I am a little overprotective :))
Jamey makes me want to be a better person. His kindness and gentle nature inspire me to desire more from myself. He helped shape me as a protector of those who who can't speak for themselves. Something I have carried on in my career choice through my whole life.
I can't imagine a world without him in it, or a world where he isn't exactly as he is.

5) If money were no object, how would you like to spend your life - you can by-pass all the charity work, we'll take that as read. AFTER you have saved the planet, what then?

hmmmm...... hard to think beyond saving the planet, you know me too well!!
I think I would live in the country, somewhere in Utah or Montana I think, with my family.
I would send my children to Juliard. Make sure my hubby never had to work again.
I would have every kind of animal I have ever wanted, and I would take in every stray dog or cat I could. Then I would be a foster mother. For infants born to alcoholic or drug addicted parents. I would love them, care for them, and if possible ready them for adoption. Of course, I would adopt all those no one wanted.
I would buy a house for my mother, brand new with everything she wanted. I would buy a house for my brother and Giselle.
Then I would send my dad to Schick to make him stop smoking...... kidding!
I would travel to Ireland and Scotland, and then stop by the Island of Mann to visit my dear friend there.
Hire a housecleaner!!!!!
I think that's enough, don't you? *wink*
Thanks for the interview dear, I hope you all enjoyed a deeper look into my sordid past -ha-ha-

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Okay, who knew I would just fall off the face of the earth, huh? Raise your hand if you knew; anyone... anyone...?

I am here. There has been so very much going on lately, let me explain... no, there is too much, let me sum up:

Our first fire evacuation of the year

On the same day, my daughter had her 8th grade graduation

I started working at a nursery

My son was in the Shakespeare Festival on the mountain

We had our annual shearing, for which I was trapped OFF the mountain due to the freeway being closed

We are finishing up three 10 hour service projects for my daughter's church program

My chicken died

Mom's Summer Taxi Service officially went into business (to which I donate my services for- aren't I nice?)

Girl's Camp

My cat disappeared

My son got a job, for which of course, I provide further taxi service

I was turned down for surgery by my insurance

I went dark for a while due to some of the above

So....... I wanted everyone to know I was still alive, perhaps kicking... er, not so much- but still- here I am!

And I miss all of you, I have dropped in on you but haven't said hi a couple of times.

Love you, hope to write more very soon,


Thursday, May 22, 2008

J.R.'s blog entry

My name ia J.R.R. (as in Tolkien) and I am taking over this blog while we are in Utah at the National AOBA Conference.

You might be wondering who I am, well, I am an Etsy! I was created by Sarah at:
You can also visit her by clicking on the link to Hollywood Flake on the sidebar.
Sarah is creative, and as is obvious by looking at me, very talented.

I am an alpaca, and I thought that I would bring you an alpaca's perspective on conference, so here it is!

Here I am, on the Super Stud Raffle table, I think I should have been chosen, but I heard I didn't have enough ribbons..... yet.
Here I interviewed a brown suri. He was open about his hopes for winning a ribbon in the show ring. I wished him luck, and offered to trim his bangs for him. For some reason he got offended and walked away. No accounting for taste I guess.
Next I talked with a curious black huacaya male. He said he wasn't going to be in a show, but was here as a buddy alpaca. He was very nice and complemented me on my colorful fiber. Then he sneezed on me.....
Here I am in an alpaca pen..... all by myself.... alone...... *sniff-sniff* I see why they always bring buddies! It can get lonely being an alpaca at a show as large as this one. You are surrounded by hundreds of alpacas, but they are all strangers!

Well, I'm off to watch the auction! I'll be back tomorrow with more from nationals. Till then, remember- spit happens!!

See ya- J.R.R.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

going away....

A smiling suri alpaca from last year's conference

An adorable huacaya alpaca weanling last year.

Last year it was to Louisville Kentucky, same thing in 2006.
This year it is to Sandy Utah, for the AOBA National Conference. Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association that is.

Every year I am in charge of the Super Stud Raffle for a national non profit organization called- The Alpaca Research Foundation. You can see it here:

I am the Super Stud Raffle coordinator, and it is my job to gather the studs up, get all their info and get it all in for press time, coordinate email blasts, develop all the promotional material completed and in general, run the raffle. We sell tickets in advance, and at the event. I also am on the development committee and participate in other areas of the organization. It's lots of work, but I truly believe ARF is the best volunteer run organization for alpacas out there. We provide invaluable information for veterinarians, owners and breeders.

We find two of the best studs in the country, one suri, one huacaya, and their owners donate a breeding to them and we raffle off tickets for $50 a piece. It's a great way to raise money for the organization -which provides research data on a large variety of health topics, all camelid related- and lets even small ranches have a chance at some of the top studs out there, for only a small amount of bank.

We start this in about September, and the drawing is in May, and then we do it all over again!
So, I will be only here sporadically until after the 25th of May. Things get really crazy here at home while mom prepares to be gone for a week. The ranch, the kids, and the hubby all need to be battened down and prepared before I go! This year my daughter will be going with me again. I look forward to this time alone with my kids. My son was supposed to go this year since sister went last, but he is still recovering and is supposed to go to a concert at that time too.

So, I'll see you guys on the fly! Love you all!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

As Women of God

I would like to share something that my mother gave me. It was written by a man who is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It made me start thinking... and you know what trouble THAT can bring!

Elder M. Russell Ballard
I received an outline called "A Woman's Lifeline" the other day that I can relate to because I've seen my daughters and granddaughters grow up, and I thought you might be able to relate to it also:

Age 3: She looks at herself and sees a queen.

Age 8: She looks at herself and sees Cinderella.

Age 15: She looks at herself and sees an ugly duckling (Mom, I can't go to school looking like this today!)

Age 20: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly" but decides she's going out anyway.

Age 30: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly" but decides she doesn't have time to fix it so she's going out anyway.

Age 40: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly" but says "At least I am clean!" and goes out anyway.

Age 50: She looks at herself and says, " I am what I am," and goes wherever she wants to go.

Age 60: She looks at herself and reminds herself of all the people who can't even see themselves in the mirror anymore. Goes out an conquers the world!

Age 70: She looks at herself in the mirror and sees wisdom, laughter, and ability and goes out and enjoys life.

Age 80: Doesn't bother to look. Just puts on a purple hat and goes out to have fun with the world.

The moral is, maybe we should all grab that purple hat a little earlier.

I love this! The other day after reading this, I had a revelation. It doesn't matter! All the crap, the hardship, the stress, it all doesn't matter. Because in the end it's all about you. Or, I should say, what kind of life you have lived. If you are wiser, more compassionate, richer in spirit, able to love completely and without reserve, serve others with fervency, cry harder and then are able to rejoice more fully at the end of the tunnel, you have lived a good life in all respect of the word.

Times are tough right now here. We are really struggling, and sometimes I just want to lay down and give up, or not leave the house.
I have desperately needed hope in the last few months, and it seems like hope has been sorely lacking.

Just last month my son was in the hospital with pneumonia. We had no insurance, and no money. He was seriously ill and really, he could have died if we had not caught it when we did.
It took every ounce of my strength to just be able to not lose it completely. How many challenges are we to overcome?? What does He want from me?? Does he want me to stop asking these questions??.... perhaps so. I am trying, really.

I don't know. I just know that there is some lesson to be learned here. I don't know what it is, or if I will ever learn it.... which brings mind (excuse my random brain) another tangent I'd like to take you on, come with me, it's guaranteed to be a wild ride....

Why do the good, kind, wonderful people like my friends Whitney, Char, and Jane die young, while the horrible, wicked and perverse live long- and sometimes even prosperous- lives?

Well I believe I have found some peace in this regard, those without God in their lives can say it's only my way of explaining things to myself so that I don't completely lose my marbles, and I'll let them... but I know better.

I think it is because we all have a mission in life. Before we came here, we signed on to it. We knew we wouldn't remember what it was when we got here, had faith that the answers would come if we sought them out prayerfully, and committed to striving to do our best to complete it before returning home, hopefully, with honor.

Those who are good, righteous, loving, kind and gentle- perhaps they have completed their mission, and the time has come for them to return to their Father in Heaven. I know I have never met anyone like Jane in my life. She was the only person I have ever known who was completely prepared to meet her God. She was a good person, a loving, caring, compassionate, practically perfect in every way woman.

Those who are wicked, perverse and unjust? Well, I think our Father in Heaven loves them too, and just wants to give them as much time as he can for them to remember....

Will we be held accountable for the lives we have lived while in this mortal existence? I believe we will.

I don't mean to get all preachy here, those of you who have been with me since the beginning know that I don't blast my faith with every post. But for the last 4 years or so I have been going through one crisis or another, and I'm still here. I'm still alive.
I haven't taken a drink or used a drug to get me through the day in 18 years come April 28th.
I haven't committed suicide.
I haven't beaten my children.
I haven't felt the need to perpetrate the heinous crimes committed against me as a child on anyone else, because "that's all I know" or whatever the current politically correct catch phrase of the year is.

This is because I truly have come to believe I am a child of God, and he expects the most from me.

So, when I ask myself, "Why?" I simply remind myself- I am a survivor, and perhaps.... just perhaps..... I still have a mission to fulfill.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring flowers!

All photographs copyrighted by: Rachelle Black 2008 not to be used for any purpose either commercial or personal without written permission.

Thought I'd share some flowers with you all :)) Two of my favorites, Poppies and Buttercups- and a deer on the hill! I am having a lot of fun with my new camera, when I have time that is!


Friday, March 28, 2008

Wordless, er... Friday?

Photograph copyrighted by: Rachelle Black- Black Magic Alpaca Ranch

Monday, March 24, 2008

Picture of the day

Peach blossoms
Not blooming yet, but did I get pictures of my apricot blossoms that bloomed earlier this month? Nope.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Spring! Wonderful Spring!

Sunshine and warm weather,

Spring! Wonderful Spring!

Grass couldn't be better!

Last week it was snowy,

the wind was all blowy,

but what do we care? Not a fig!

Cuz it's Spring, Wonderful Spring, Marvelous SPRING!

This message was brought to you by the ever green grass lovin' alpacas if Black Magic Alpaca Ranch, featuring Elbereth and Narya, with their back up (pun definitely not intended Lady G, but all we do see is your rump) singers/dancers Hally Boo and Lady Galadriel.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

and all is right with the world

I am so sorry to have taken so long to write a follow up for you all.

I wanted to take a moment and let everyone know that Cameron is fine! Well, he has migraines and is taking prophylactic meds for them now, but no visible tumors!!

Life it seems, has taken a giant swing at our family lately, and there are all kinds of challenges facing us at this time. I probably will be taking some time off from blogging for a while to get everything straightened up.

I wanted you all to know that I love you, and although I am feeling a bit rudderless without my ShrinkWrap I will still be around and visiting you all from time to time.

I am not gone for good, just gone fishing for a while :))

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

prayers and good thoughts please

How do these things happen? One day, all is well and you are going about your daily routine, and the next it's like someone slaps you upside the head with a Dali stick and everything goes all melty...

This is eerily reminiscent of what my friend Shrink had to go through with her son.

The other day my son was at an eye exam because he snapped his glasses right down the middle. He is blind without them. He has had lots of headaches lately and actually went to his regular doctor for them a couple of months ago.
Things were not going well with the eye exam, and the doctor pulls me aside later by myself and says (I'm not kidding, this is just how she said it) "I didn't want to say anything in front of your family, but I think your son has a brain tumor."

Whereupon I asked her if she had children. After I pulled my fainted carcass off the floor that is.
That is NOT how you tell someone, not at all... but it gets better.
She told me she was writing out a referral for him to see a neurologist, and then pulled my son back in for further testing. I was thinking (while my daughter sat beside me and I tried not to lose it) how best to tell my 16 year old son the news.

When he came back out, he had his hood pulled over his eyes, and I could tell something was wrong.
She told him!! She went ahead and told him herself.

So, I had to comfort him while that precipitated me having to tell my daughter, and all of us trying to come to grips with this situation in the middle of LensCrafters, instead of the comfort and safety of our home...

Now he has seen the neurologist, and they are testing him via MRI and MRA and EEG and, and, and... all without health insurance I might add.

So, here we are. We have decided we will only freak out a little for now, until we know anything for sure. Once we know something for sure is wrong, we will throw an official freak out party with hats and everything.

Please remember Cameron in your prayers. And if you don't pray, just think happy thoughts for him.
Thank you very much.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I'm Ba-aaack!

And a suri alpaca on a Christmas tree....
Barb and her new girls!

The family and the Christmas Tree of light

Wow, that was a serious trip through the looking glass....

Turns out my phone line was messed up, and that was the reason for everything not working properly.

There was a short in the line apparently... (story of my LIFE!!!) but it's fixed now!

Okay, the good news is that we sold two animals!! YAY!!!!! Congratulations to Barb Troje of Nizhoni Alpacas for her purchase of BMAR's Rosie Cotton, and BMAR's Heathertoes!

We also sold our suri male Sandpiper (looks just like the one on the tree) to Victoria Chaidez- congratulations!

I know Barb will take good care of my sweet girls *sniff-sniff-sniffle* she is a wonderful person. Sandpiper went to a home where he will be loved, and will get lucky too! Woo-hoo!!

Thanks to Barb, we got some breathing room! I am also selling two more, just so we can put more aside for savings. I am constantly amazed at how fast money slips through your hands... bills, HA! Wonder what would happen of we just didn't pay them?

Don't answer that....

So, anyway- thanks to a blogger friend who shall remain anonymous, (waves and blows kisses) we also received a nice gift for Christmas. Thank you my dear :))

We had a wonderful Christmas, Santa visited us and left presents for everyone- even me! People are so wonderful, this Christmas certainly showed our family that the spirit of Christmas is alive and well still!

We went to an absolutely stunning lights display that our wildlife museum puts on every year, it is very impressive, and we had altogether, a simply delightful Christmas. We were able to get some things we wanted, some we needed, and also, to give something to a few who in need as well.

Things always seem to work out in the end, and although we are now almost broke again so shortly after being 'in the money', I have no doubts all will be well.

Thank you to all of you who love us and support us, we love you too!

Happy New Year!