A feral pictorial

this is my story. and it is real.


The above is a Prairie Rattlesake's tail - it was clipped off after he was destroyed ~we found him in the horses pasture late last summer and with one swift movement we were able to end his life with a crushing blow from a stick made out of hard ash. Their rattles are actually very fragile - you can see how they get brittle with age and begin to crack, weakening their defense mechanism they need in order to warn. Prairie Rattlers are not aggressive; on the contrary they usually rattle only when frightened and cannot escape - its their way of saying "please, please stay away from me!!" 

and a simple piece of planed wood can end their life immediately.

Thats exactly how I felt when they told me they had found a mass last fall. They were thinking it was Lymphoma, as it was large, abnormally shaped,  near to lymph nodes, and my calcium level was high - afterwards they will tell me that they were relieved that it wasnt retroperitoneal sarcoma, which has a poor survival rate of under a year. When I was first told that I needed to have surgery as soon as possible, I felt the blow of something that came out of no where - and where I thought I was strong -

my world instantly became very fragile.


The above is a knotty piece of petrified wood, found on our property. There are many pockets of coal seams, fossilized layers of leaves, and petrified wood in our corner of SE Montana. It is like time has frozen a remarkable place and let it stay still forever. Sometimes when we are out walking in the surrounding National Forest, we will come across a petrified tree stump, standing taller then ourselves, and we can only marvel at the knots, the patterns of the rings, the width...and how it is so remarkable that it stands still to this day, while the rest of the world revolves and changes all around it...

That was my world after the surgery. When they diagnosed a very rare disease, called Uni-Centric Castlemans disease,  and they told me that they couldnt get all of it and they wanted to do radiation for 4 weeks - right before Thankgiving - where I would have to live in Billings and go into the cancer ward 5 days a week for treatment...In the end it was my decision alone to make, and I told them no. There wasnt enough case studies in its medical history to prove that radiation would even work...and there was the slim chance that it would die off on its own. Then came the surgical induced blood clot in my leg - running from my ankle to my hip - and I was put on Warfarin, a blood thinner - which in itself requires many blood tests to make sure you are not taking too much, or too less - and if it works right, then the clot can slowly dissolve on its own without inducing life threatening pulmonary embolisms or strokes while you maintain physical activity... this all takes time.  3 months at least.  it takes time.  So we keep ourselves occupied, trying to not think of what terrible things could happen - we will our heart and our mind to try to understand the new normal in our lives- we mustn't  fret, we must make our mind think on what is good in the world, we must rest -

It takes time.


The above is a very rare grinding stone that was found in the mud at our old house in Wisconsin on the Saint Croix River... why is it rare? Do you see the circles at the apex of the stone?  This is from being driven by rushing amounts of water, surging, melting glacial ice water, going round and round in a whirlpool on a bed of rock and making potholes, gathering more rocks so that soon they are grinding against each other, rounding each other out, each one becoming smooth works of art... and then one day coming to rest on a bank as the waters recede, grounded, only to be found by a feral person tending to their blooming spring garden on an early day in May...

When first confronted with such trials, you feel despair...and so you pray, and talk to God and ask "why?" seeking answers that wouldnt satisfy your darkening world anyhow...and then you reach out to others, and talk to them, commensurating on what is happening, but soon that too gets old and stale, a topic that has no answers, only questions, always questions...

and then you realize its all up in the air - all of it - you will always have questions that never will be answered. and that has to be okay. Youre ready to move forward now.  So you learn that your family loves you, that your friends love you, theres a God that loves you, and that theres a whole literary world of people that rotates and floats through time and space and connects hearts to each others words, photos, life events, online, loves you too...and its good. all good. 

And so you become grounded.


The above is a crystalline formation called Mica that is actually pretty incredible when you think about the process that brought its existence about...its bed is a mixture of coal and petrified wood; something that was once living, making air for the planet, is now turned into a rock-like substance but yet still can grow something so amazingly beautiful. Beauty from ashes literally.

And thats how I feel- dead to a former life that wasnt aware of what it was even capable of nor to acknowledging how precious  life really is - to a life where everything is special, and the possibilities are now endless. Would I still be able to have a physically active life if the blood thinning therapy became permanent or if this disease spreads?  Yes I could, as long as I took the time to examine "the how" in order to do that, and accept the differences of what I cannot do. My attitude has changed from "why?" to "how?". And patience now comes easily, because even the act of getting impatient is a gift. All of it is a gift. All of it.

So most importantly, something happened - an awareness of how special each moment can be - how amazing, even the most mundane brings beautiful moments. Emily's epiphany as a spirit who had the opportunity to come back to life on a regular routine day in Thornton Wilder's play, "Our Town" sums up my previous in two sentences -  starting with the moment where she says "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -- every, every minute?" and what was the stage manager's response? "No... saints and poets, maybe -- they do some..."  I am not a saint, but in my heart now beats a poet. I am standing alive. I am still here.

and its not too late.



The above is something very special to me, that links me to this land we own in Montana ; while walking above the creek on our place on a rocky ledge, I happened to look down, and see this...as I picked it up and placed it in my hand, it fit comfortably and I realized the last person who touch this lived many many years ago, when it was a place of running horses, untamed hills, open land ...I shivered, my mind staring up at the blue of the sky. It is a scraper tool, used to scrape leather hides. Someone (i'd like to think she!) left this here on this nice sunny ledge above the creek - maybe a storm came on, as they do suddenly do here, and she had to gather everything quickly to seek shelter- maybe a child called her, yelling to her that father was home and come, mom,  come see what he brought - maybe a buffalo herd was sighted, and everyone was called to the hunt as fast as they could get prepared in order to gather the next winters provision - maybe she was in danger, and she had to go, now, and dropped this to the ground, where it lay through seasons upon seasons of snow, rain, drought...until I stood on this very spot, glanced down, and saw a shadow remnant of her life...

I want to leave something behind too, for someone to notice and reflect. I have purpose.  And so do you. While we still breathe we can determine what we want to leave behind...I realize that all what I have accomplished is nothing without having someone be affected by it in a positive way..  a disease does not make me who I am. My attitude does. And I want my children, my childrens children, to remember me as the kind person who loved others... and so like she who left the scraper, I too will leave something behind ...

I will try to leave good memories.


The above is a feather from a red shouldered hawk ~ a bird that lives its whole life in the air, and only touches the ground when its time to hunt. You will find them on top of things - fence posts, tallest tree limbs, the highest spot on the gate - in order to fly freely. They are the most incredible flyers; gliding on thermal currents, or diving gracefully to the ground to snatch their next meal, they do it with incredible ease.  We have a pair that has a nest across the hayfield in a very tall ponderosa pine, and they trusted us enough to bring their babies up to the top of our butte later to teach them to hunt.  We would watch them call out to each other, and laugh at the antics of the youngsters who were still trying to get the hang of landing...but by seasons end, they did, and they too became graceful flyers of the sky...

Last week I went in, for the first series of tests and scan to see if anything was growing, and to check the situation concerning the blood clot. As i lay there in the scanner, I had the sudden urge to bolt from the room, but I couldnt even physically if I wanted to, as I was hooked up to an IV with contrast with my hands above my head, and my pants were down around my knees under the covers so they wouldnt mess with the scan picture and I was stuck in a tube.  It took a bit of reasoning inside my head to fight this urge and Im glad I did - because  the results came back as nothing. NOTHING!!

Thats right, nothing significant showed up.  So the next scan and tests will be in 6 months, not 3. And my calcium levels are normal (high calcium can be an indicator for cancers).  So far, the decision to not do radiation might be the right one... time will tell. And now my blood flow in my leg is good, so I am off of the blood thinners. I am free to do what I choose to do physically. We are starting a new exercise program to build strength and endurance - with doctor approval.  And like the red shouldered hawk youngsters, Im kind of shaky on the landings, but I can now "fly"...

I am free !


The above is a blossom from my primrose that sits by the cat food bowls, occasionally watered when we water the cats.  Not exactly a perfect oasis, but this primrose chose to bloom right there, in the moment, bringing a smile to those who see it by the back door.  These blooms are not forever. They will die off.  But they will leave good memories...

Right now, while you are reading this, You and I are in the same moment.  
And the best part about that moment?

We can bloom where we are planted :)

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts, and my transformation to where I am today - you are partially responsible!! Kind words, thoughts, prayers, even encouraging others to cheer me up - you ALL are the water to my roots. Lest I break up into a red solo cup song version of "you fill me up", I really do want to thank you from the heart for all you have done - I still have a ways to go before this is all over with, but I plan on leaving good memories, to give everyone something back in  return, until my last breath**... ! 


(**which at this point looks like it might be awhile, yippeeee!!!)



  1. what an amazing post. your thoughtfulness is beautiful. and your approach to this difficult time is admirable. i'm so glad you are freed now!

  2. Oh...I love this "chill bumps" post. Really touched me. Truly 'nature is us' and you have captured that in your photos and words. What an example of living your truth, staying positive, open, and sharing your stuff with others to lighten your load and give yourself energy to heal. Yae Feral! Yae God!

  3. Well Feral my friend you have done the impossible you have left Buttons speechless. That is an almost impossible feat. This is absolutely beautiful and I am with ain't for city girls. Fly my friend fly. Hugs
    Love B (OK I told you so)

  4. That is fantastical news. I had a feeling as I read through the posts that you had come out on the other, better side of all this. Best wishes for a continued life!

  5. You are amazing!! Thank You for reminding me of what is truly real in life... I am marking your post for re-reading again and again... and yes girl: YIPPEEE I am so happy for you. You ROCK!!!!! A girl in Alabama Loves you...:)

  6. What a great post. You are an inspiration to me. We must all appreciate what the universe has given us..no matter what! great news and congratulations on the health front. Continue to be positive and keep up the marvelous posts:)

  7. Crying....tears of joy....tears at your lovely post....tears about your scare and your good news. You are right, in your heart now beats a poet who can paint amazing pictures with lifting a brush and can move people with words.

  8. Well this post has brought tears to my eyes. Tears of emotions. And joy. Beautiful.

    And I loved the way you used nature for your analogies. I do the same thing...with rocks and such. I found a rock on our land that looks like a heart when you turn it one way. But the other side of it is flat. Completely flat. And it fits in my hand perfectly. We were told Indians inhabited our property years and years ago, where I found the rock. I'd like to think she probably used it to grind wheat or something. Yup, I do that. I used to think I was weird, until I met other bloggers!

    Cindy Bee

  9. i am so happy. and so touched by your post. tears are running down the face. thank you, thank you for sharing. all of it...

  10. Nicely crafted. Heal well, and continue to grow.

  11. I am so very, very, very happy for you! You must feel so relieved, and I know we all are on your behalf. This is a beautiful, perfectly lovely post, and this is the best news I've had all week! Yes, bloom, where we are planted, I have a piece of wood at home with those exact words on it, bloom dear Feral Woman and I know because of your example we will all bloom! So happy for you!!!! and your family. So now, let's get on with that wedding!!!!


  12. Spring is coming and how exciting that you have a new beginning and new outlook to enjoy it. I'm so happy for you and your family. Betsy

  13. wonderful post and wonderful news.You have brought me to tears , so proud to know a woman with such strength and grace

  14. I have to tell you again the love I feel for you. I don't "know" you, but my heart knows your heart and you are a blessing and an enrichment to my soul. You are beautiful, inside and out, and I thank God that He led me to your blog. Keep on keeping on Sister, and rest easy in His arms, because whether any of us like it or not, we aren't in control of these lives of ours and all we can do is enjoy it and live while we are alive to live! HUGSSSSSS!!

  15. How do I say how thankful I am for your wonderful news?? We all need more folks like you, who love the earth and appreciate every minute you have here to enjoy it. What a blessing all the way around.

  16. This is a wonderful wonderful post! My heart is singing! I'm sooooo happy!!
    This is a beautiful post -- what a great way to talk about your journey; so appropriate for my favorite feral woman!

  17. I just realized I missed your last post so I will comment on that. Awesome pics. Truly.

    I was holding my breath the whole time reading this post. I am so happy for you. That too is awesome! Who would have thought 'Nothing' can be awesome huh? And you really do know how to put life in perspective. Thank you for that. xoxo

  18. Oh...such good news!! You have been given quite a gift to know deep within your soul that "All of it is a gift - All of it" Here's to LOTS of memories!

  19. What a beautiful, heartfelt post. Thank you so much for sharing with us, I think today you have brought a few people back to reality. Here's hoping that soon you will be back to normal, doing perfect landings, and riding the range.

  20. I am positive that I cannot express how much this post has moved me. So glad to hear that you are back on track in life and that you have chosen this experience as a positive motivator.

  21. When I got to the results part of your post, I was crying and said aloud "thank God....thank you God" and I mean that. You are an amazing woman and will certainly leave good memories wherever you go....but in the meantime, God has blessed you. This is wonderful news. This is a beautiful post....from a beautiful soul. Sending you warm hugs and love.

  22. Way to kick butt and take names. I'm so happy nothing was found. I hope you make putting on that beautiful dress you got for your daughter's wedding and dancing is part of the getting in shape regiment. A dress like that shouldn't only be worn once. I loved your post. Congratulations.

  23. I'm so happy for you I cried as I read this. And I am not a crier.

  24. How touching is this! So beautifully written and heartfelt. You are one beautiful, kick-ass woman! Thank you for sharing this with us...I am honored.

  25. Like everyone already said. God never gives us more than we can handle, and the trials we go through help us to appreciate the fragility and beauty of this life. I hope you grow stronger from this, you already inspire us, and I will continue to keep you in my prayers.

  26. OHHH Sweet lady, i am sooooooooo happy for you!!! I just am filled with joy and smiling just because you are doing well!!! I loved that you took the time to write me a little note to let e know how you are doing and i love the fact that you give me hope (haha!)

    Beautiful, beautiful post and i'm gonna keep praying and lighting little candles anyway, just to make sure (although i am sure you will be perfectly fine)!!!

    a big BIG hugs and keep driving that frigging truck like a maniac (well not literary, but you get my drift...)

  27. My thoughts and prayers continue as you continue your journey.

  28. You are an inspiration. Your thoughts and pictures are beautiful. "Nothing" is amazing!! I'm so glad you are well.

  29. Beautiful thought provoking post and the news is well......bloody marvelous....I am so happy for you and your family...they must be beside themselves. I have been thinking about you a lot and it makes me very happy to hear this news...you handled all of this with so much dignity and strength( and humor) you are an inspiration to many and you will be leaving that behind now and way down the road Yippee!!!

  30. We never know when we are going to be faced with adversity as life is "like a box of chocolates". You are guided by your heart and you see life through a humorous lense and that is what makes people smile because you find goodness and lightheartedness in yourself and the world around you. You have brought joy into my life by reading your posts and I am forever blessed.. thank you My dear friend!

  31. oh what wonderful news! I love this post, so much history and so much insightfulness, all to lead us to the great news at the end!!

  32. Beautifully written post... so happy to hear your triumphant news!...

  33. that's a powerful post, and such great news, I'm happy for you! and love those words:
    "every, every moment".
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  34. This is the most wonderful news today.....! I'm crying all day-started with the good news that a very popular blogger here in blogworld got out of an abusive relationship and is moving onward.......and the news of you getting on with continuing your wonderful life onward also. It's all a very good thing....


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Im feral, I dont respond at all like most domesticated bloggers- However thank you for even wanting to leave a comment, as long as it doesnt involve death threats or name calling, I might even respond.

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