So yesterday Bill Beyrer brought over a real driving harness and we got Gideon all buckled up! He looked like such a professional and settled right into his new job just like he'd been doing it forever (Bill was very impressed). Bill also brought over a skidder, which pulls logs out of the woods. So we're trying it tomorrow! Apparently, if Gideon had a partner, they would be able to pull a full-sized Ford pick-up all the way up our steep driveway. With the emergency brake on. I can't wait to report to you how this adventure might play out. Stay tuned!
We had a very nice open house, during which we met any neighbors we hadn't been introduced to previously (everyone's distantly related somehow). People were delightful. They brought us housewarming gifts and gifts for the baby and were incredibly kind and responded very generously, even when I started to babble about how happy their cows seemed (I don't think they've ever thought about it from this point of view before)and how we thought it would be funny to put orange vests on a couple of deer just to trip out the hunters in the neighborhood. Suffice it to say, we're very lucky to have such great people around us. I'm thrilled.
Well, everyone, it's getting to be that time of year. We're having a Winter Solstice party at our house tonight, then on to Christmas in Minneapolis with the Cedarleaf clan this weekend. And Merry Hannukah and all winter holidays inclusive to everyone else.
Just doin' my best to be like the Amish,
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
So yesterday Bill Beyrer brought over a real driving harness and we got Gideon all buckled up! He looked like such a professional and settled right into his new job just like he'd been doing it forever (Bill was very impressed). Bill also brought over a skidder, which pulls logs out of the woods. So we're trying it tomorrow! Apparently, if Gideon had a partner, they would be able to pull a full-sized Ford pick-up all the way up our steep driveway. With the emergency brake on. I can't wait to report to you how this adventure might play out. Stay tuned!
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Hi ho everybody! Welcome to our snowy bliss here in Wisconsin, where the farm is wearing her winter whites rather elegantly, if you ask me. This is the time of year I'm very happy to have four wheel drive, as we had our first REAL snowstorm yesterday - if I had to guess, I'd say we have around 5 or 6 inches on the ground right now. My walk was serene this morning, with snow perched daintily in every tree crevice - a far cry from yesterday morning, when it was blowing directly into my eyes. Brutal!
I wanted to include this story, told by the guy who has done some of the "more professional" repairs at the farm - in other words, the ones B and I won't let Chris and Jay do because of the dangers involved. Ed is a really cool guy, and when Jay asked him how his hunting trip went this year, he first replied, "Not so good - I didn't get anything." But a few minutes later when they were assessing some work that needed to be done on our quonset building's roof, he changed his answer. He said the trip was actually amazing for one big reason - I'm sure that "not so good" reply is reserved for hunters who are referring to the hunt - anyhow, he told Jay that early in the morning he was sitting in a little enclosed area - perhaps under a fallen tree or something, and suddenly he surprised (and was surprised by) a timberline wolf. The wolf immediately turned and ran with stunning speed and agility - but the thing that amazed Ed most was the fact that the wolf ran along silently, no noise whatsoever. Wild, isn't it? I'm often blown away by just how much racket I make when I trudge through the snow. This seems like a real feat to me.
I also wanted to include Jay's brilliant idea for beginning to make the farm a place for some sort of service project - a small start that wouldn't involve a lot of organization or red tape to begin with. There are many Hmong students in Jay's classrooms at school - in fact, this is really the only minority population in the area. For those of you who don't know about Hmong history, these people have gotten a pretty bad rap over the years - wherever they've lived (Laos, China to name a few) the government has tried to co-opt them, to "civilize" them, to get them to acclimate to they're own culture, but the Hmong have stubbornly refused. They have been refugees often, vagabonding to stay alive. Many have ended up in the USA because their family members fought with the US in the Vietnam war under the promise that they would have a safe haven in this country once the war is over. Of course now the US is trying to keep them out, but that's another story. The point is that the Hmong are a farming culture, and most of those who live here are in apartments with no land of their own. What we'd love to do is to cultivate a piece of land for the community in Menomonie where they could plant and harvest. Jay is going to check with some of the translators at school to try and get this ball rolling.
I also have to talk about my freedom from the television. We don't get any TV at the farm. None (we still watch movies though). If we really wanted TV, we would have to pay for a satellite dish, which, among my other issues, I find disturbingly unaesthetic. I can't tell you what a wonderful thing this TV abstinance has been - how much more I read, walk, think, share ideas, relate with other people, do crosswords, reflect, gaze, play with the baby, cook. I realize that TV is an addiction for me - since June, I've seen the news a couple of times when back in the cities, and I'm amazed by what glittery, base monkey candy it is - and yet by how wholly my eyes are drawn to it when it's on. It's gross. I'm challenging everyone (and realize that I may not have been able to do it if it weren't for the fact that my TV only shows static when I push the on button) to keep the TV off for one month. I'd love your feedback on this!
Okay, I'm off to get some tasty hot cocoa then to pick up Jay for a trip to Fleet Farm (what's new?)
Love and 4X4 madness to all,
Thursday, December 08, 2005
That's what it looked like this morning as I made my trek through the snow. Shortly after the sun came up (blood red in the sky, lazing in gauzy suggestions of clouds) a freaky haze came over us and delivered the most amazing hoarfrost all over everything. I think I love this palette so much because I'm not very used to the pales of midwest winter. I have taken up walking - between 3 and 6 miles every morning depending on my mood, energy level, and amount of time. It's usually around 0 (cold for this time of year) and I'm unrecognizable in my puffy blue jacket, blaze orange hat and face wrap. I feel like the character in "To Build a Fire" because when I get home, I have chunks of frost all over my eyelashes and hair. Sometimes I don't feel like walking when I get started, but once I've fed the horses and experienced the chill, I'm invigorated and I want to go. The naked trees make for spellbinding views from the tops of the ridges - it's a whole different reality from the very same spots in the summertime.
Well, it must be getting closer to Christmas, as the blow up Spongebob Squarepants Santa is back to bobbling in the neighbor's yard. This year we're going to hold our first annual holiday open house for the neighborhood. We'll see how that goes!
Ach, I hate that I'm always on the run when I get the chance to blog, but ... I gotta run. Jay's class is doing "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" and I'm due there shortly. HEY! Unto you a child is born!
Love and woolly hats and mittens to all!
Thursday, December 01, 2005
So I don't have long today, but I just came from the grocery store, where in the parking lot, I had to divide my bags in to the ones with stuff that SHOULDN'T freeze (truck cab) and ones that could freeze and it wouldn't matter (truck bed). Little things like this - things I never had to think about in Portland - tickle me to no end.
Also, we're picking up a half a cow on the way home, 80 pounds of which is burger. Now tell me, how many people do you know who could eat a 1200 pound cow a year? Thankfully we're only getting half, and dividing it up among 5 parties at that. By the way, it's Tryston's prize-winnin' fair cow - the one he spent hours blow-drying for the competition. Isn't it all kind of surreal? The Beyrers always sell us the blue ribbon winners and end up eating the dairy cows that broke their legs themselves. In fact, Sherri told B and I that Bill and Tryston weren't allowed to shoot any deer for the family this year because they didn't have any room in the freezer. Crazy life!
So now I have to learn to cook with beef.
I'm off to pick up my cute, bearded grizzly adams husband!
Love and hot cocoa with real marshmallows from Wisconsin, where it will reach a balmy 7 above tonight! More to come soon, I promise.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Colfax, Wisconsin, April 19, 1978
On April 19, 1978, police officer Mark culturing was on patrol in the vicinity of collapse, a small town with a thousands of inhabitants in Wisconsin, USA. At midday, he decided to stop the car to eat something, in a small isolated area. He noted that his radio was emitting crackles.
He then noticed a metallic looking disc raising towards the the sky at a short distance from the parking space.
While the object seemed to move towards him, Coltrane picked up his Polaroid camera, came out of the car and snapped some photographs. The object was so close in one of the images that it is possible to notice some details of its lower surface.
Taken from http://ufologie.net/htm/colfax78.htm
Apparantly Colfax and surrounding area is a hotspot for U.F.O. activity. According to this site: http://www.cufon.org/cufon/topufos.htm three counties surrounding Dunn (where Colfax is) rank in the top 300 as far as U.F.O. sightings go in the U.S. Pepin (direcly below Dunn) is number 12.
Here's a description of a sighting in Colfax from October 2, 2005
One from August 6 and 7, 2005 in Colfax
And Feb. 3 by a Retired Parole Officer in Colfax right by good ol' Kirkwoods Market.
The pictures taken back in '78 by Coltrane are widely considered to be some of the best ever taken (according to various U.F.O. nuts).
We'll have to dust off the telescope soon here to see what we can spot ourselves. I like Jay's idea of finding a way of positioning it in the hottub.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is about community and food. It is not about consumerism.
I am up right now and extremely thankful. Maybe because I am thankful, I am up! Dinner is awesome at the farm. Every meal is a party for the tastebuds: awesome homebrew, exquisite pizza, spectacular breads and salads, entrees that tickle my toes. Every meal is a party for the mind: laughter galore, wonderful ideas about theology, striking ideas about sustainability and life choice. Every meal is a party with friends: sitting at a table with the five of us is so invigorating and life giving - plus everyonce in a while friends: Erik, Corrie, Dan and Robin, Ted and Jeannine, Kevin and Allison, my family.
Despite the bitter cold and all things brown, the farm is still beautiful. The rolling hills list like a beautiful woman who has shed her clothes. I now see the extra curves and details. The sunrise and sunsets on my rides to and from work are a plethera of color and delight. (I count more deer than cars on my bike ride. I actually thought about changing my name to "Bicycles With Deer".) The vantage point from a cedar hot tub and moonlight to read by helps add to my thanksgiving.
I had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. My parents and Greg, Emily, Hope and Ellie visitied for two full days (food, laughter and games). What a treat to have a three year old sit in your lap and constantly touch your beard and kiss your neck. I am most thankful for a conversation I had with everyone. My brother and family called me on the carpet. In talking about school and society, I always talk about the bad and wrong. Why not talk about what is going well, what I am doing to make a change and improve things? Instead I always talk about what needs to be changed and what needs to be improved. My fear is settling and thinking things are fine, this is why I stress the problems more.
Dennis Plies stresses too graditude. Therefore, some more.
- I actually love being in the classroom and the students. They are so creative and full of life and joy. The crack me up everyday.
- I met some teachers who are forward thinking and not settling. I can talk to them and bounce anger and ideas.
- I am playing in a big band everyweek. What a kick to read big band charts and play with others. I sit in a jam session regularly and know the musicians in town. I will be sitting in the orchestra pit for Bye Bye Birdie in February.
- The practice room is almost done and Chris and Erik have worked extra hard and kind for my dream.
- Charis loves me and sticks by me through all of this. She is too great and good.
- The horses are fun to ride and watch play outside our bedroom window.
- Chopping wood and collecting wood. To sweat when it is 20 degrees outside and have no need or desire to come in.
- The library has great music and friends keep me updated with great books and articles from the internet. Gaeaphobia. The Spirits Catches You and You Fall Down is lighting my senses and I keep thinking what can I do with my Hmongs students to write their parents stories.
- A picture of Wendell Berry in the Smithsonian Magazine. He is beautiful with a gorgous and contagious smile. Why is this guy smiling with all the crap in our society and environment? The balance, that is my quest and thankful to have it and know it.
Hope you all had a joyous Thanksgiving.
Monday, November 21, 2005
...granted it's in his own special language, but he's quite the little jabber monkey these days. We have long conversations that go something like this: Ellis: rahdgia jabba gook. Charis: abbba grabba shceeeek. Ellis: aaaahhhhhriagha booook. Charis: grrrreeeighchabillago. And on and on.
Hunting season started on Saturday, and we're still trying to adjust to being some of the only non-hunters in the area. Having to explain to people why our husbands really aren't much interested in taking down a buck in our woods has been a confusing effort. People are nice about it, but I don't think they really get the term "intellectual theologian and educator types." Frankly, the multitudes in blaze orange are creeping me out a bit. We live in the middle of nowhere all year round except for 10 days out of the year, when we live in an action-packed red hot deer killing zone. CRAZY! A couple of guys in a giant truck with wheels taller than me came down the driveway to ask us if they could shoot from our hay field. They seemed a tad sketchy, so Jay and Chris told them (nicely) to hit the road (you want to be kind of careful around rednecks with high-powered rifles). Did you know that people with porcelain deer in their yards (which mystify me, by the way - real ones are in our yard all the time - don't know why we'd need to get fakes) DRESS THEM IN ORANGE VESTS to keep the hunters from just going all apeshit and shooting at them? Now really. Couldn't you tell the difference? I don't mean to be so down on it. I have to admit though that I haven't really progressed at all in my mixed feelings about hunting. I go back and forth constantly.
I keep forgetting to talk about how much fun it is to see my horses from my bed. Every morning at the same time, they come to the gate near the silo and stare at my
bedroom window because they know breakfast is coming. It's hilarious. Sometimes I mess with their heads and call to them. The horses are getting a nice break for the next week, as I'd prefer not to be picked off out of the saddle by some goggle-eyed hunter.
The workroom/Jay's practice room are nearly finished, as they're now drywalling in there. It's toasty warm once the woodstove gets stoked!
As soon as I finish this, I'm going to get Jay from work and we'll do our shopping for Thanksgiving. Quite a list this year! Last year my family decided that what Thanksgiving really needed was a goofy mascot to improve the commercialism of the holiday, so we invented the Benevolent Pilgrim, who will fill your cornocopia with squash if you're good, or fill your blanket with smallpox/buckle shoe with dog doo if you're bad.
So beware the Benevolent Pilgrim and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Love and spray-painted gold gourds to all,
Thursday, November 17, 2005
But isn't that how most of the magical nannies do it? I think Corrie went home via plane though, and not umbrella. At least I dropped her off at the airport, but I suppose there's no telling... at any rate, if she did fly home by umbrella, she had some SERIOUS WEATHER TO CONTEND WITH! BLIZZARD!
Yes, after a ridiculous sucession of beautiful days where people took long walks and had to remove their outers layer because the sun was too warm, an early snow took us by surprise and last night we hit a whopping 3 above zero here in this heartland paradise. Also, just to give you an idea of just how much I love you, I spent 1/2 hour getting the truck out of a snowdrift today so I could come to the library and write on this here blog.
Corrie being here was definitely one of the highlights of my November thus far.We had a great time, and I even learned me how to cook a pot roast - my first ever! I really do mean it when I tell you that the baby took to Corrie. He loved being cuddled to her luxurious bosom. And, as I said to Corrie, that baby won't be getting anything like that as long as he's being held by the B-plus girls in my family.
Have I told you that Ellis and I have a routine now? He lies on my lap and I do various exercises with his arms and legs, like bicycle, kick and kick, tai bo (sp?), bump your bottom (Corrie's fave), punch the sky, roll it and roll it, clap your paws (baby feet look like paws in his footie jammies - don't you think?) and shake the belly. Ellis being the incredibly advanced child he is really has to have things mixed up a bit and simply isn't happy with the same old same old. He's always keeping me on my toes, that boy.
Thanksgiving this year will be with Jay's family at the farm for us. I'm looking forward to doing dinner as I feel I need the practice with holiday events. I've been freeloading off of my mom long enough!
I went for two glorious rides this morning in the fresh snow - Colby first, then Gideon. The chill exhilarates me - I've gotta be honest.
Hope all are well out there in cyberspace. Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Winter!
Love and steaming chai tea to all...
Sunday, October 30, 2005
For six and a half weeks now, I have spent the majority of each day staring at my son, Ellis. It's amazing how busy this keeps me...watching his funny expressions, inspecting his baby fingers and toes, going to great lengths to get a smile or squeal. I love that each day is so much the same in terms of a schedule and yet full of new changes and developments with Ellis. He is a feisty joy - all his blood curdling screams are forgotten with one glimpse of a grin. (We are having some technical difficulties posting new photos on the blog, but know that we are working to fix the problem asap!!)
Ellis is up to about 14 pounds we think, and my arms and back can certainly attest to his rapid growth. We like to consider it another sign of his advanced development. :D He's slowly losing his beautiful baby hair and I estimate we'll have a little baldy by Christmastime. Each day he looks like someone else - Dad, then Nathan, then Chris, then me... ah, the hours we spend speculating! He still loves being outside and has warmed up to the baby bjorn carrier so we can enjoy longer walks together - this fall has been so gorgeous, it's been awesome to introduce Ellis to his new neighborhood on these sunshiney afternoons in the woods. He also loves mornings, giving us happy, squealy faces while we clutch our coffee and grin right back. As Charis mentioned, he loves sleeping but hates falling asleep, usually ending each sleep fight with one final loud cry. Out with a bang.
My life these days is this child, and I could think of no place more perfect than the farm to be spending this time. It's quiet, peaceful, beautiful, home. I feel so lucky to be there.
We make it into the cities every couple of weeks or so, leaving me to feel somewhat disconnected from much of our greater e-mail/blog community. Hoping to have internet at the farm soon, though! I have, however, found peace in the beauty of being disconnected...no internet, very little phone time, and neighbors a good walk's distance. It's been a great respite from the city life I hadn't realized was exhausting me so much. I do miss some aspects (people, restaurants, grocery stores!), so I'm happy to have our bi-weekly visits scheduled. January will come too quickly, taking me back to work two days a week, but giving Ellis good time being babysat by Grandma Jeannine. What a lucky little rascal!
I have little to report other than that parenthood is remarkable. Chris is a beautiful father, and I am loving the natural, incredible bond of motherhood. Ellis is our life and joy. We are blessed.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Just for shits and giggles, I'm recording what we canned this year. Apologies to those of you who don't find bread and butter pickle counting simply breathtaking:
30 jars of pickles - 25 quarts (half bread and butter/sweet and half dill) and 5 pints (baby dills)
4 quarts of spicy dilly beans
2 quarts and 22 pints of apple-ginger and apple-plum butter
9 quarts of stewed tomatoes
12 quarts and 12 pints of salsa
4 quarts of pickled banana peppers
18 quarts of applesauce (almost all gone at this writing)
Oh yes, and a quart and a pint of sundried tomatoes and various batches of dried apples.
I think that's it!
My Nordic blood loves the cold here. I thought I'd suffer through the winters in the heartland, but as it turns out, the summers are harder on my constitutuion. The frosty mornings make me gleeful. I skip down to the barn in my little plastic gardening clogs and no hat most mornings. It's funny what farm life does to a person. For another example, my tweezers. I once used my tweezers to shape my eyebrows. I now use my tweezers to pull giant ticks out of my horses' hides (I know you're supposed to burn them out with a match ... now). Here's a typical morning for me: wake up with the sun (usually between 6 and 7), feed the cats, feed the horses, stoke or start the fire, depending on how far Jay got, wash up any straggler dishes from the night before, sweep the first floor (you would not believe how farm dirt and junk piles up every day - enough to make a Scandinavian compulsive), get some breakfast together, love on Ellis while he plays and smiles and coos, love on Ellis some more and walk and sway while he fights sleep (Ellis does not believe that babies should have to fall asleep. He's called his lawyer. He's thinking of starting a union), work a horse or two, clean some stalls, read (East of Eden right now. Brilliant. I'm on a real reading bender - The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Light in August and 50 Acres and a Poodle are others I've recently enjoyed; Julianne and Amy, you would especially appreciate the last one), lunch, chores, dinner with wine, hot tub and bed - sometimes a movie if we can keep our eyes open long enough.
We'll be in Portland after Christmas - stay tuned for more info!
As per usual, my time is up. GREAT to hear from you, Justin!
Love and Jack Frost magic to all,
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
If you ever come and visit us in mid-October in the middle of an Indian summer and see the windows coming alive, red and writhing, just know you've entered what we refer to as LADY BEETLE HELL. Ah, yes, the Asian Lady Beetle. Not nearly as cute or as harmless as her little sister the common lady bug. These girls are EVERYWHERE right now, and they can bite - apparently because they're so hungry this time of year, what with getting prepared to hibernate (in our walls, they hope) and all. They can make a normally sane (or reasonably sane) person start to do maniacal things with a vacuum cleaner and a caulk gun. And they're smelly. And they COVER THE HOUSE. One need only stand on our deck in the afternoon to be covered with them, and to blanch at the tinny sounds of the ladies' shells hitting the aluminum siding. ICCCCCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
This and the fly population overload are two of the downsides of an otherwise unbelievable fall season - crisp like braeburn apples and sunny-bright with a recent full moon to light our path at night and cast shadows on our hot-tubbin bods.
I've been reading Faulkner for the first time in my life (how did I ever get my English degree?), enjoying not having a "real" job since I was 14 (not counting moves and car accidents). I get to do my farm chores and play with baby Ellis and do my morning sweeping and go for walks as my job right now, and I hope to never have to put on another pair of pantyhose again, even if I do end up working in the cities in the future.
Ellis does NOT LIKE TO GO TO SLEEP. I mean, he does sleep, and when he does, he's out cold - he just doesn't like the getting there part. I blame this on him wanting to hang out with his homegirl Auntie Charis and not miss a minute of the witty repartee that fills the farm house (we wish). But seriously, Ellis is becoming quite the grinnin' little character. He's punching and kicking karate-style these days, and his baby mullet will soon be the envy of all the rednecks out here. He's growing REALLY FAST - his onesie-jammies are starting to get a little snug in the feet - and the baby swing that Greg and Emily loaned us seems to release a baby narcotic when activated, because he LOVES IT!
The horses are great - I'm riding Gideon regularly on the trails and got B to take a picture of us today in our full saddled up glory - hopefully to be posted soon.
Alright, my time's up on the Colfax library computer, as per usual. Everyone here is fine - how 'bout you?
Love and chewy-tart caramel apples to all...
Thursday, October 13, 2005
File this one in the "only in the backwoods" category: now some days when Jay is biking home, he turns on to 810th from S and a FAWN leaps out of the bushes and CHASES HIM UP THE ROAD. A BABY DEER. I guess he was orphaned and hooked himself on to the neighbors' cows and now he's terrorizing the streets.
We had Ilene and Sherri, our new nabes, over for tea yesterday, and Ilene brought tons of tiny black and white photos of our farm - from when she lived there in the 40s! The house was very simple looking and there was very little vegetation at the time - a far cry from the lushness (some may say "overgrowth") we've got going on now. Most of the people around us are related somehow - and have been here since the early 1900s in many cases. They look at us as sort of exotic, or possibly oddities, I think. They can't imagine why we would move to a farm in the middle of nowhere, and the brothers are always asking whether we think they're rednecks. In a worried tone. It's kind of funny, really. Oh, and I found out about the guy who died from pitchfork wounds on our land - his horses kept on getting loose, and the guy who owned our place at the time told him that the next time they got out, he'd lock him up in the barn and keep them, and sure enough it happened again and the owner came to get them in the middle of the night and the owner of our farm came out with a pitchfork and I'm sure you can only imagine the rest. It really is perfect for Halloween I think - the legend of the ghost with four prong-holes in his gut.
Speaking of Halloween, we've carved a mess of pumpkins with the help of our cousins (my carving was of Ellis crying), pumpkins that are nearly too big to pull out of the garden and up to the house! Sherri tells us that Halloween doesn't bring too many kids around, but Bex and I are thinking we need to get a bag of candy just in case. A kind we like. Maybe Almond Joy.
Chris' friend Erick was here last week helping us with getting a little room set up in the garage for Jay's practice area and a workshop. They also got a little woodstove for heat, and Erick set up the electricity. Unfortunately an ailing water heater ate up some of the garage time and the boys had to get and install a new one.
Nights are cooler now and the stars peek through the tree branches hanging over the hot tub. The horses are full of themselves in the crisp air. Bex has her third baby shower in the cities this weekend, and Ellis will be the star of the show. It is really something to watch a baby grow like this - to see him begin to respond to us, to smile a bit and start to become more aware of his chubby, froggy little body. He's a real character, and very intense. Takes after his auntie, I guess. We're eating the fruits of our summer labor and dipping into the canned goods. Don't be surprised if when you visit you get bacon and canned tomatoes. I think we've got about 50 or 60 jars of this and that in our basement.
Corrie Jackson visits us in November, and so do my parents' good friends (and my godparents) Carl and Marcia Blomgren, who built their log cabin in the woods on Vashon Island in Washington and serve as a major inspiration to us. This is very exciting. Then Jay and I go to Portland after Christmas. Good times, good friends.
We continue to think about how we can live more sustainably, with less waste and more efficiency.
Well, the library here in Colfax only gives me an hour on the computer, so I'm signing off for now.
Love and ginormous orange jack-o-lanterns to all...
Thursday, October 06, 2005
They are: Lutheran, deer hunting, and the Green Bay Packers.
We had a one-eyed raccoon hunter come by our place yesterday to ask whether, if his dogs were to tree a raccoon on our land, he could shoot it out of the tree. Also, this morning my neighbor Ilene (who is around 90 years old, I think) called because there was a strange horse in her yard when she woke up and she wondered if one of mine was missing. Really, could this happen anywhere but in Dunn County, WI? I'm sure there are other places, but sometimes it's like I'm taking crazy redneck pills and I ain't never gonna wake up from this country livin' dream.
The Beyrers invited us over for Sunday dinner,which was great fun - all the men in their nature-themed oxford shirts (turkeys, deer - all of the hunted)and the ladies in their sunday best. They were making fun of themselves for apparently stopping and pulling a freshly hit deer off the road to use for meat. It was a clamorous culture clash, but lively and silly and fun with TONS of midwest food - meatballs, ham, hotdish, jello squares. We're realizing how different we are from the neighbors, but they're pretty open to our ideas - especially the wood-fired hot tub, which intrigues them to no end (at one point, the conversation actually centered on whether a person could actually shoot a deer from our hot tub. Yes, it was determined. I think they want to give it a try). I appreciate that they're willing to give these crazy city-folk hippie types a chance. B and I are having Sherri and Ilene over for tea next week.
I found a secret trail as I rode Colby today - winding down a path through the golden-red trees and a hidden meadow to a road I didn't recognize.
Ellis peed on me this morning - an initiation ceremony, I think.
Okay, I have to get off this public computer now; kids are waiting. More to come...
Love and crimson tree leaves to all,
Friday, September 30, 2005
Hey everyone! I always feel as if an apology is in order when I post because it's usually been so long. Honestly, I haven't been off the farm since baby E was born two weeks ago. B, C and E moved in on Saturday with help from my mom and dad and many others, including our good friends from Portland, Dan and Robin Plies. We've had a great time with them this week and they've really rolled their sleeves up and jumped in to the farm projects, one of which is the spa-licious CEDAR HOT TUB which has now been christened with great joy by all of us. There's nothing like a good cedar-scented soak with old friends, I tell ya. The boys even carved a phallus handle on the hot tub's woodstove shed to "hang things on." What does this mean? What do you hang on a woodstove shed? Anyhow, I'm hoping Chris will post some photos of the blessed hot tub event, along with one of B and I having a morning splash, as the three of them are in the cities today to close on their house. You'll see just how much fun we're having.
Dan and Robin have helped us with canning applesauce, hot tub and shed building, and digging a trench down near the barn help with drainage. We've taken many walks and yesterday Dan and I took Gideon and Colby out for a ride along the ridge. It's been lovely here - cool, crisp and sunny - and the leaves are beginning their fire-bright transformations.
The baby is a delight to have around, and brings a new dimension to our life out here. I'm enamored of his rubbery little expressions- sad boy, baby buddha, boob mouth. I think he smiles at me, but B told me it's just a muscle flexing. Now how would the "experts" know what a baby was feeling inside? At any rate, he's clearly a very advanced baby. He loves it when Chris vigorously bicycles his legs back and forth. I've really enjoyed watching B and C being parents. They're amazing - patient and dear and generous with their child (in terms of giving him up to me for loving even when he's in a good mood). I never knew how much newborns eat or poop. Ellis does both in abundance. He also loves to be outside. In fact, Chris built the hot tub benches wearing Ellis in a sling. The cats are even warming up to the baby in that they now venture downstairs even when he's awake. They're still not fond of the crying, however.
I'm loving my life right now. The only thing that's difficult is that Jay continues to struggle with work, and we both miss our Portland community (it's been pure pleasure to see so many of you this summer and fall, by the way). My dream for him is that we can start some sort of alternative school or educational experience at the farm for him to lead. I think he and Chris would be happiest working in that kind of environment.
Love and nekkid baby butts to all!
Saturday, September 17, 2005
I just have to say that after you watch with your very eyes a baby find its way out from the dark warmth inside his mama to the bright lights and loud family that is now his life on the outside, all the mundane shit you have to do the next day seems impossibly lame. Perhaps my extreme distraction in this regard is the reason I decided to build the first fire of the season in the woodstove (39 degrees at night lately here)on Thursday and left both a pillar candle and a giant vase of flowers ON THE STOVE TOP before going out to feed the horses. Upon coming back into the house I was wondering why it smelled so good - like spiced pear - yeah, giant pile o' hot wax running down the side of the stove. Boiling water in the vase of sad, surprised flowers.
This baby is - oh, how can I even say it? All the true, right, good things in the world are living in this child. We hold him close and stroke his soft baby hair and we can get a glimpse of what life is supposed to be.
I can't wait until he's a permanent resident at the farm!
We're helping pack and loving on Ellis this weekend in the cities. By next weekend we won't have to drive the 90 miles to kiss his little soft spot!
Love and tiny fists grasping pinkie fingers to all of you!!!!
Friday, September 16, 2005
Charlie Parker went to record an album with strings. He arrived at the hall and the orchestra was already rehearsing. He heard them and left. No recording. A couple of days later the producer saw Bird on the street and Bird answered, "It was too beautiful."
Seeing and holding Ellis was majical, powerful, joyful and beautiful. As soon I held him in my arms, saw his eyes, felt his skin and heard his cry, I felt I needed to leave, get out of the way and not bother Chris and Becca anymore.
Over dinner later that night, Charis asked me why I acted that way in the delivery room. Perhaps I am learning, perhaps sleep deprivation, or perhaps both, I babbled on for an hour. I did not value or trust my importance or need at that time. After all, it is not my baby. I know that, and I am not immediate family.
Then the depth of this community venture with Charis, Chris and Becca slammed into me. We chose and choose to be in relationship and community with each other. I live in complete amazement that Charis made that commitment to me. Who am I to deserve such an awesome person in my life? Truly! Now I have two other people who have made that commitment to me - to live with me, support me and love me. Becca and Chris did not say if you get depressed we are leaving, if you act like an idiot we are leaving you. That is overwhelming to me - the power of commitment and community. It is truly hard to believe and accept. Writing this seems otherworldly.
I wanted to leave that delivery room because I did not feel worthy and could not accept and believe the beauty of community.
What a shame if Parker had not returned to beauty and recorded "Bird with Strings." What a crime if I can not return to this ultimate beauty. It is scary and makes me tremble. It is true and makes me complete only if I do. Thank You Charis, Chris and Becca.
Thanks for all the comments everyone. Becca and I are especially pleased to have our son share a birthday with London Spears. We ended up coming home a day early from the hospital since things were going so well. Ellis tends to sleep heavily from 6-9 in the evening and want to eat--and I mean EAT--from 9 to 1am. We are still getting at least 6 hours of sleep, since he conks out after feeding for 4 hours strait and doesn't wake up until around 7. Its great to have him home though. There's not too much to report. When he's hungry he's really hungry, when he's upset he's very upset, and when he's tired he is comatose. He's the extreme baby. Anyway, here are some early pictures for you all out there. I was not able to find any pictures of Britney Spears' baby, so if anyone has some, please post or pass them on to me so I can post. I wouldn't want to hog all of the glory from her.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Wow. Seriously. Wow. I've never seen a (human) baby born before, and let me just tell you, #1: all the cliches are true and #2 my sister is HARDCORE. She gave us little baby BOY (so much for my predictions) Newhouse at 1:19 today in what can only be described as a textbook delivery after 1 1/2 hours of hard labor. Mama, Daddy, both Grandmas, Grandpa and myself were the blubbering, laughing, hysterical witnesses.
Joy, joy, joy!
No name to report as of yet, but he's 21 inches and at least 8 lbs. Strapping. Must be the Swede in there. Very healthy if not a little surprised to be entering this wide crazy world.
I'll be back again soon! I'm a proud auntie, and SO proud of my little sister. I can't wait to teach him to chop some wood - we're behind for this winter!
At first I did not want to post my previous blog about my new worldview. I am sad to make people upset and worried, but glad for all the response. Maybe I should not be sad to make people worried. Is it not community when one knows the truth? Plus, in my venting I was reminded of the community I have. So many people called and emailed me: THANK YOU. What a true blessing. All the comments on the blog were terrific: Thanks.
Reflecting on a society based on fear and bandaids, I honed in on my small community. Looking simply at the creation of the deck no band-aids were used. All the people and work involved is amazing. Everyday I walk on the deck, I will be reminded of care and love from friends and family: Chris, Becca, Charis, Jacob, Mark, Eric, Ken, Tom, Greg, Ted and Jeannine. Also everytime I look at the house and use the house, I will be reminded of all the people and their love and sweat to make it so beautiful and warm.
Still anger and frustration at our society and it's lack of trust and respect. Heard a report on BBC about gun sales doubled in Baton Rouge, LA since the devastating catastrophe. All the interviewees said fear was why they bought the guns. If you know your neighbor and are known, there is no need for fear.
Thank you for knowing us and making yourself known. I love stories and that is how Jesus taught. Stories are how we become to know each other. I think that is the ultimate purpose of this blog.
It's early Wednesday morning at the hospital (internet in the maternity ward - who knew?)after a phone call in the wee hours.We're just waiting now and VERY EXCITED. Chris just gave us a report - this is up to the minute news, people - that they're thinking the baby will deliver at 2 or so.
Yesterday Chris and Bex were at the farm for a wonderful day of yummy tomatoes and scrabble with Nana.
Fun day at the hospital!
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Okay, so we're only four days past the "due date" (a date some doctor arbitrarily calculated on a little pregnancy calendar wheel), but it feels like an eternity! Everyone's arrival predictions have past and now we all just wait and I wake up each morning hoping today might be the day. I'm afraid I'll start having nightmares that in two years I'll still be carrying around an enormous child in utero.
I'm also more than ready to be back living in community with Charis and Jay...to be able to process our experiences, struggles, questions, and revelations (be they joyful or utterly depressing) together daily. The 90 miles between us seem awfully far as the four of us have been so enmeshed in different daily experiences this summer. I look forward to coming together again and re-solidifying our commitment to our vision. It's always been there, evident and rearing - but there is something to say for the little interactions that make life together fuller...sharing the sink as we brush teeth, making meals, planning projects, cleaning, relaxing, laughing.
While I complain about how hard it is to be patient and how much we have going on aside from becoming parents, Chris and I have had this beautiful space in time this past week together that, had baby been on time or early, we never would have been able to enjoy. Not knowing when baby will come, we've made no plans beyond every couple of hours...this has given us a gift of many days together eating breakfast on the porch, taking long walks, reading, napping, packing...aside from trying to physically exert myself into labor, it's been a fantastic, relaxing week with my mate.
It's also been a real test of my faith and stress-coping skills. I know I struggle with anxiety - big change overwhelms me and it has taken very deliberate effort on my behalf to cope with the major changes over the past year and a half. And while I do have days where coping consists of exhausted tears, I almost always feel a sense of peace and faith about our lives. This alone shocks me, considering that a few years ago I might have found myself paralyzed at the idea of having a baby, moving to a farm, getting a dog (?), all in less than two weeks. Pregnancy has been an amazing experience - and I believe it has healed many of my high-strung tendencies. I have learned to rely on my body, my instincts, and my relationships to understand what I do not know. It has helped me to put things in perspective. Chris's quiet, patient faith has been the foundation for my courage and excitement. We are bound tighter together than I ever imagined possible, thanks to the miracle of this child.
It's hard to imagine tonight, tomorrow, or next week - when baby finally arrives - what parenthood will look like. But I am not afraid. I rejoice and wait.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Be thankful you only have to read this. Otherwise, in person you might by accidently spit on, have to ask me to speak softer (Ted need to so I would not offend his neighbors), and so at any time you can shut me off. My poor wife, bless her heart for dealing with me, and my poor roommates - did they know they would be living with a selfish, egotistical, crazed idealist? Sometimes I do not remember who I am dealing with myself - perhaps my truest problem: denial.
Spiraled into depression again. You ask how the hell can you when you live on beautiful land, have an amazing wife, awesome roommates, a nephew/niece on the way, close to family, and tomatoes, carrrots, beets, peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins and hops. Plus, I am playing in a big band and sit in a weekly jam session.
Perhaps the honeymoon is over and the reality of work and the conditions of work have taken over the better part of me?
In a truer and odder since too, I am discovering that the more you separate yourself from the American maching the more you see and feel its tight claws. I have only pushed up one-half of one and there are seven more talons squeezing tight.
First day at my new job, Menomonie Middle School 6th grade English, (25 miles away and talked to 6 teachers before I could find one to carpool with - one saying no being the Environmental Site Coordinator) the entire middle school staff sat and were talked to by Lt. Swartz of the Menomonie Swatt Team. In his camo pants, tight black shirt with glow in the dark POLICE on the back and his gun slung on his hip, he yelled "This is 2005 you can not trust anyone." "You are either a weak or a strong teacher. Do not be weak because the kids will target you." During the armed assault, "Will you know what to do when their is blood all over and kids are screaming." and do not forget "Stay out of the Fatal Funnel." So we are now prepared for another Chechen take over of our school or an armed assault. Before Lt. Swartz another officer scared us about the dangers of child molesters who use the internet to contact kids. On the next day when all district teachers were in training we were lectured for an hour and a half on the harms or methaphedamines - a new and terrible problem in our area.
What am I getting at? My new worldview - all the world is screwed. Everything about our society is establishing non-community. Everything good out there is putting band-aids on the non-community problem instead of trying to recreate community. My team of teachers, bless their hearts for being in the right place, were cuurently trained in responsive classrooms to create community in their classroom. A middle school with 45 minute periods, 8 times a day, where a teacher sees 130 students. A police department based on how to manage the crisis. Why not address the crisis before it happens. People feel lost, helpless and not part of community. Instead of trying to bust meth labs and recognize the signs of those who using meth, why not recognize the signs of those who are lost and without community and help them before they turn to meth? The children on the internet molester video/computer presentation talked about being alone and felt they could turn to no one, the teenager at Red Lake High School, the teenagers at Columbine were alone and bullied, drugs users are looking for something, someone. One hundred thirty students per 8 teachers. What is wrong with society? All that we (I am a huge contributor) are doing, even the very well intentioned teachers on my team, are band-aiding the problem.
What good does bitching do? I do not know, I am sorry. I should go see a counselor and will. Perhaps this is not the right venue to express my sadness? Perhaps it is? Our society is evil and when you start to separate away it stings back. It is like your face was smashed into the mud. That is bad, but then when you look up and see who did it, it can be even worse than just breathing in mud.
Writing this I am encouraged. Am I need of counseling? Yes. Past that big bully pushing me back in the mud, I see green hills and a red barn, I hear my wife's strong voice and my roommates, I taste fresh salsa and pesto pizza and keep breathing and thus keep dreaming of separation from society and connection with relationship. What can be done to not simply put on band-aids? It has actually made me start thinking seriously about Jesus again. I struggle with this, because the Jesus I know is covered in a parka, scarf, mittens, long-johns, jeans, sweaters and make-up of our society. The society which creates the problem.
Thankfully my wife does not let me wallow in the filth and makes me talk. Thankfully my friend Nick called and said you just have to live life. I will keep up on the projects, eat my food, ride my bike to the carpool, and address all 130 students by name everyday. I will lift my head and love my wife better too.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Just wanted to publicly broadcast my passion, affection and devotion to my husband - for his generous farm contributions, his fierce sense of environmentalism and community-driven life, for his laugh, for his gardening obsession, for his music focus, for the sacrifices he's made and continues to make to have moved here, for his humongous love.
So, not only do I now know what a miter saw is, I also know how to use one! I'd prolly get one tattooed on my bicep if they weren't so darned big. What I'm trying to say is that the farm has been a very empowering place for me lately, and I've been thinking about this evolution plenty. I believe it's a combination of living a life that is nearly advertising-free, thus being cleansed of my desire for self-improvement product, as well as learning and mastering new skills (usually involving some sort of tool) on an almost daily basis. It's a great combo, I tell ya. No anorexic models are whispering from the pages of magazines or the tube screen about how I need to have a thinner body and thicker hair, and no billboards flaunt the latest car, cell phone, malt beverage. I've rarely felt so good about myself - such great, healthy energy.
The farm's massive, hairy projects are completed, leaving more manageable, day-long projects in their wake. Today I primed and painted the doors to my arena - Jay helped me patch them last week. This building is finally looking loved - the last of the four to get that kind of treatment. I'm settling in with the endless task of food preservation. The apples are nearly ripe, and I'm testing them in the dehydrator (delicious!). Next is apple sauce, fruit leather, apple cider and apple butter. Thanks to my friends Diane McDevitt and Scott Lyons (great idea!) I've been drying roma tomatoes like one crazy mofo. I then marinate them in olive oil and fresh basil from the herb garden for a pizza topping to die for. The tomatoes are taking over, I swear. In fact, if you come to visit during tomato season and don't eat your ration for the day, we'll tie you to a chair, prop your mouth open and toss the cherry, grape and pear varieties in every five seconds. Learn to chew fast. Only the strong will survive.
I've also been mulling the unbelievable outpouring of help, skills, talents in relation to this farm's overhaul over the last year. Jay's family and extended family, many cousins, my family (Gideon's got nothin on my mom and dad in the workhorse department) and wonderful friends (Chris' friends Erick and Kevin are getting an honorary plaque somewhere) have come and stayed and brought their gifts of time, work and ingenious inventions. I have no idea where we'd be without them right now. Behind on the schedule, that's for sure. THANKS, peeps. Really. We owe you one. As soon as you get your farms, we're there for you, man.
I just keep on forgetting to mention the thunderstorms in these blogs. If you have never lived in the midwest, I can't do them justice on this page. One minute you're calmly eating dinner on the deck and the next a mass of black clouds plow in and you can barely stand up and get in to the house the wind is blowing so hard. The drill is this: someone brings in the hammock and anything else that shouldn't get soaked, someone (usually me) runs down to the barn to secure the horses and someone shuts all the windows in the house. You must be able to do this in record time, because you will literally have only a few seconds. Ask Corrie or Julianne about this if you live in Portland because they survived a doozy here. That one (late June) hung around for a sustained 2 1/2 hours, hurling lightening bolts at the pasture and causing a huge ruckus. It killed my electric fence charger - because I swear a bolt hit the barn. The other storm of note happened (of course) when I was there by myself. It was like a sideways tornado blowing in, with a sheet of rain rumbling furiously across the field toward the barn. The lights went out and it got dark as night out there. I was in the middle of a phone conversation when I watched the snake of lightening spear the sky and strike the phone connection dead. By the way, you're NEVER supposed to talk on the phone or take a shower during a storm (guilty ... and guilty). I didn't learn those in my how-to manual growing up in Oregon - sheesh! In late spring here the forecast is always the same: high of 85 and chance of thunderstorms. Good times, high drama.
Alright, I'm fading fast. It's two hours past my bedtime! I'm crossing my fingers for a baby soon!
Love and a sky full of stars to all,
Monday, August 29, 2005
...meaning the baby apparently seems to be enjoying its in utero surroundings so much, s/he hasn't given many signs of joining us in the outside world anytime soon. The due date is just one week away and we are so excited. A week may sound like very little time to most people, but when every minute holds the possibility of going into labor and watching our world turn upside down, a week feels like an eternity.
I feel so good though. Good genes? Happy baby? Healthy system? Whatever I might attribute it to, I have been blessed with a wonderful pregnancy that has allowed me to carry on with life as usual only with the added, excited anticipation of meeting the newest member of the family.
On Friday, Chris and I celebrated 5 years of marriage at our realtor's office, signing purchase agreement papers for the sale of our house! We found a buyer, and assuming all goes well with the final inspection this afternoon (happening this very moment), we will be one giant step closer to moving to the farm next month. We would close on the sale Sept. 30, which means our valiant family and friends get to help with one more move soon! The timing is perfect in so many ways (despite having to move with a 4 week old baby), we feel so blessed by how many of these major changes are happening in sync with our goals. We're very close to snuggling up with baby in the wee hours of the morning on our farm deck.
We spent the rest of the weekend at the farm, basking in gorgeous weather, and finishing up projects indoor and out...the oak molding inside is about 90% complete now, thanks to Charis's creative patchwork on a few doorways...the deck benches are treated and waiting to be pounded in, and the cedar hot tub is out of the boxes and waiting for final installation - whoohoo! I am also quite proud of myself for successfully deciphering the sanskrit IKEA instructions for the baby's crib and dresser assembly...it just took a lot of time, two sets of screwdrivers, a piece of Charis's zucchini bread and a piece of mom's mocha pie for me to wade through the Swedish stick figure instructions. I swear, anything's possible with pie.
So, here I sit at work, waiting for the moment I have reason to bolt out of here and get my stopwatch to start timing contractions. In the meantime, I'm reflecting on a phenomenal past few years and anxiously anticipate tonight, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year...
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
The deck was one of the first ideas we had to improve the house at the farm. We originally envisioned it coming out 25 feet! from the house and wrapping around to the back side, which would have given us somewhere around 800 sq/ft of deck. We ended up setteling on a modest 16 feet out from the house and 650 sq/ft of total deck space. Sometime in July Jay and I put up the ledger boards around the house, a few weeks later the grading got done around the back and the holes dug for the posts. Jay and Ted shovled cement and stuck in the J bolts a couple weeks after that. On Monday the 8th of August, my cousin Marc came down from Fargo, and we drove out to begin the framing.
Jacob came out on Tuesday, and he and Marc started putting up posts and beams around the North side of the house while Jay and I continued working on the West side. After a couple days we met in the middle and were (fortunately) only slightly off level. Ted was there on Wednesday to help us with joists, and Jacob left at around noon Thursday and Marc and I headed back in to town at around 3 and he took off back home to pack for Colorado.
On Friday morning I picked up my friend Erick and we drove out for the weekend. Ted was there to help again Sunday afternoon, and he and Jeannine stayed untill Monday. By then we had gotten the majority of the decking in, as well as benches and, I must say-thanks to Erick-the most perfect set of deck stairs I have ever set eyes on. Erick and I also stripped a long narrow piece of decking that we set into the angle where the deck boards meet. This piece points to the crown jewel of the deck that has yet to be installed-the cedar tub.
I drove back out on Thursday to start on the mitered decking, and we finished the West side with the help of Jay's dad and uncle who were staying for a few days. Then on Monday Jay and I did the other side of the angled boards and cut the hole for the hot tub. And now, besides getting the rest of the screws in and the benches treated and in place, we are pretty much done. The hot tub will hopefully be in by the end of September.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
You simply haven't lived until you've seen your true love's face reflected in the shiny green of an elephantine zuchinni.
It's harvest time at the farm, people. A red torrent of tomatoes, zukes the size of a body builder's bicep, broccoli, broccoli BROCCOLI, cukes to fill around 30 pickle jars (and still coming). And one freakishly large pumpkin vine with a green pumpkin on it already the size of a beach ball. We're having trouble eating and preserving all of it, as it appears our soil has some sort of magic growth nutrient multiplying within. This is a great problem to have - overwhelming, but fun too as we slowly can our way out of our sanity.
We've had lots of fun with visitors recently - good laughs on our brand spankin new deck, with each friend bringing some skill or talent to the farm (even if it's eating).Jay's uncle Ken (who worked for the phone company for many years) visited with his wife Edna and Jay's parents and set up new phone jacks in the upstairs and basement, and so many of our friends and family have lent a hand to the great deck building project. Next is putting the hot tub together, building a practice room for Jay, fixing the potholes in the driveway and patching and painting my arena. Nothing much!
The horses are doing great. My training horse is staying until mid-September and Gideon is a joy - definitely the easiest horse I've ever started. Fun and lovey. I've got five rides on him now and he's doing great. Colby had a horrible reaction to a shot he got and had some bad swelling on his neck (that eventually gave in to gravity and became a giant man boob on his chest). He's finally recovering from that little trauma. The weather is gorgeous - sunny and breezy, in the low 70's. Perfect riding weather, and the bugs are finally abating a bit.
I'm very excited for fall (my favorite season) and Arthur's imminent arrival. Right now he looks a bit like the pumpkin in the garden - but in my sistah's belly! I'm embarrassed to say this, but the tiny clothes are finally getting to me. I'm just trying to figure out how to get a onesie that would fit me.
All right, it's late and I'm sleepy. Over and out!
Love and miniscule booties to all,
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Let me tell you a little story about a little pig named Pig #8. Pig #8 was born on the Beyrer farm and grew up fast with his buddies, tearing around in the mud and pasture, porking out (as one might say) on tasty grub, and generally enjoying himself. One fine day, Pig #8 went to the Colfax fair, where he won a blue ribbon for his good looks and fine physique. The next day, despite (or because of) his blue ribbon, he made a final journey over the rainbow bridge, where he became some of the most delicious sausage and chops I've ever eaten. How did this happen??!! How did the most soft-hearted beans and rice vegetarian ever slide into this cave-woman lifestyle? I must say, I've enjoyed eating our pig, and our freezer is stuffed with all kinds of tasty porcine parts that I look forward to ingesting. I blame the farm. I work hard, and meat is yummy! It sustains me all morning to have a little bacon with breakfast, is that so wrong?
It's taken some getting used to, I have to admit. Other news on the mammal-killing front: Flannery and Gus are now both avid mouse hunters and some nights have brought in two or three for me to ooh and aah over. They are definitely happier cats with the dawning of this recent development. It's like they have actual jobs for the first time in their lives! You'll know we've gained hillbilly status when we start cooking up the mice on skewers.
Ah, the circle of life.
Jay and I just returned from a wonderful stint at our family cabin on Golden Lake in the Upper Penninsula, MI - Jay and my cousin Ben BIKED UP THERE from the farm - around 100 miles a day to make it in two days. My husband is a maniac! A wiry, spazoid maniac hopped up on pork and beer! We were up at the cabin with much of my mom's side of the family until Wednesday afternoon, then Jay had a job interview this morning in Menomonie and I just dropped him off at the airport for a flight to Colorado so he can help his parents move to Madison. August brings more visitors to the farm: my dad for a few days, Chris' cousin Mark (who has graciously offered to help us build the deck), and Jay's entire family, including Uncle Ken and Aunt Edna. It's gonna be raucous! My training horse leaves in mid-August, and by the end of August, we'll all be on call for Aurthur to pop his tiny pointed head into the world. I really cannot express on this blog how excited I am for that day. The farm will do well to welcome a wee baby. We will be complete then.
TTFN. Love and BBQed brats to all,
There is a car seat and a diaper changing pad in the corner of our upstairs room at the house...the first signs of baby, who will be joining us in (hopefully) less than 6 weeks. Granted, we're still a little fuzzy on how to work either of these items, but figure that's why our calendars are wide open beginning in September. New words are entering our vocabulary these days too...like exersaucer, bouncy chair, diaper genie, and pack-n-play. We ask ourselves what it's all for...millions of years of babies coming into the world without a vibrating bed or boppy pillow, and they somehow made it to healthy adulthood. Give a baby the newest toy, and they'll still reach for the measuring cups instead. That'll be our guage - help keep the perspective.
I had a dream that we had a baby girl with a head of bushy black hair. I was also approached by two strangers in two separate situations on the same day last week - both of them gave me the unsolicited prediction that I would have a boy. Charis had a vision of our wild, curly-haired daughter. Chris comes from a long line of boys-only families. Dreams and visions and predictions...we love the anticipation of this biggest life surprise. That our child will be raised by a tribe of family and friends only makes his/her arrival more exciting.
This summer is breezing by with hardly as much time spent at the farm as Chris and I had hoped. We know it's just a matter of weeks before we're out there full-time as well, but during this lush season, that's the only place I want to be... as long as the inner tubes are inflated and the river calls. In my restless sleep last night, I dreamt we were all tubing cross-country! I've been reading Huckleberry Finn and maybe feel more of an affinity for his river raft life with Jim than I realize.
Chris and I are readying the Minneapolis house for sale in August. Projects to finish up and some packing & deep cleaning to do before we put it on the market and before baby comes. Know anyone looking for a darling bungalow in the Twin Cities? We will keep the house through the fall for a slow transition to farm, but are really hoping to have a buyer by end of August/early September.
Though we haven't been living at the farm as much as we'd have liked this summer, many visitors have been welcomed there - it is so heartening to know that and begin to fill the calendar in the coming months with the names of more friends and family. Come see us! Come meet the littlest Newhouse! We want to hear your stories and life news...or just challenge you to a few Scrabble games or ping pong tournies in the barn.
We'll keep you posted with baby news. In the meantime, pray that Chris doesn't fall off the ladder painting the house trim, and that we are able to unload our piles of unwanted junk at our family garage sale. Big goals for August, eh?
Puss och kram,
p.s. Happy Birthday Corrie! Happy Anniversary Christa and Dave!
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
It's HOT here. It's like the whole of the midwest is the orange part, and don't touch it, cause it's HOT. And sweaty. I'm actually considering getting a headband like basketball players in the 70's wore to keep the sweat out of my eyes.
My darling Belgian finally arrived, and in a panic after being bitten by nasty flies and riding in the trailer hour after hour, dove through the electric fencing (right in between the two tapes! Amazing and balletic! Leaving the fence in tact! Good boy!)and ran and ran through the neighbor's field. Jay and I went after him, I with a bucket of grain. As nervous as he was, when he saw me, he trotted right over and dumped his head right in the halter, following me back to the barn like an oversized donkey. I've decided to call him Gideon (aka Platterfoot), not after the bibles in hotel rooms, but rather because it fits him - sort of medieval and sturdy feeling. This horse is one big character, let me tell you! He loves water, and can be regularly found cooling his front feet in his trough. I can't wait to take him down to the river for a dip! He's a big lover and adores being groomed and even goes around with the saddle on okay - he's clearly a genius, having learned so many things over the course of a couple of weeks. At first he thought he could jump in my lap every time he got nervous, but he's learning more respect every day. He's just a wonderful boy and a marvelous addition to the equine community at Lostview Farm.
Our time with the girls was awesome and inspiring and heartbreaking and laughter-filled all at once. Heartbreaking because they left too soon, but so fun to see them and see the farm through their eyes. Truly that is what the farm is made for - people! So get us on your calendars, you hear?
For some balance, I thought I'd list the three things I hate about the farm, since I do so much glowing and prattling on. In order of the most hatred: 1. Our beloved Portland gang not being here with us on a regular basis (waahhhhh! why can't Wisconsin be next to Oregon on the map?) 2. WORKERS DO NOT CALL BACK, THEY DO NOT COME WHEN THEY SAY THEY WILL COME, THEY DO SHODDY WORK SOMETIMES 3. The bugs are multitudinous and much meaner here. That's it on the list for now. The river is number one on the things I love the most list right now, for obvious reasons. Yesterday the boys took their beers and I actually made a screwdriver I made up in the vodka bottle and we went down for a swim. Does this make me an honest-to-god redneck now? Yes, yes it does.
Many many apologies about my sorry emailing habits (or lack thereof). I get to a computer about once every three weeks to a month,and to be honest the sheer numbers of emails have got me completely overwhelmed. Take heart if I haven't gotten back to you. At some point I will - it may be sadly outdated correspondence by then, but I will do it. I need to take a day in the cities just to keep in touch.
I just read the book "With" by Donald Harington at Matt Plies' recommendation (in fact, such a recommendation that he actually sent me the book!) This was by far my favorite read in a long time. And kind of how I feel about life right now. I want to be Eve in the garden. And I want to collect more and more animals and life around me always.
Love and firefly magic to all,
Friday, July 01, 2005
We have been exceedingly blessed. Yes, I know in everyway possible, but we had two groups of visitors recently that nailed the point home to me - The farm is even better and more complete when it is full of people. My brother's family - wonderful wife and two gorgous daughters, and yellow lab - and my mom and dad visited over Memorial Day weekend. The house and farm vibrated with life; kids running in the grass, riding horses, making daisy chains, swinging on the tire swing; the dog hauling as fast as possible everywhere at once; mom playing the piano as it rang across the field. That is how the farm is suppose to be.
Then blessing of blessings, Julianne, Corrie, Stephanie and Christa came to visit. What a gift. I am still overjoyed with our time with them, but also extremely sad to have them leave (early this morning from the Minneapolis house). Another true blessing to have such dear friends that you can instantly pick up with them right where you left off and not grow bored or tired with each other. They stayed 10 days and that was NOT enough.
I do not want to rob my three roommates of telling great stories we had with them, but will say a few things.
We laughed a lot, we ate amazing food and we all got sunburned. We now have 5 inner tubes, and I will get more soon, and we floated down the Red Cedar River. The water was warm and the banks were lush with trees and rock formations. What we thought was a three hour float became a six hour float. We watched the sun set as we arrived at the pick up spot, but we made it and had a blast. Corrie and Julianne kept me in amused company the last two hours and I donated four of my chest hairs to Julianne. Monday we went again with Chris, but only for 3 and a half hours. I drank a Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter on the Red Cedar! We are mapping out the river and figuring out the time for each ride, and the beauty factor too - all amazing.
We blazed a trail for Charis, we weeded and squashed tons of the Colorado Beetle trying to eat our potatoes - damn those things - and most importantly we ate a lot of good food and just hung out and talked and laughed. Mornings, afternoons, evenings sitting on the front porch - soon to be deck - or the picnic table laughing and/or watching thunderstorms. We had two big ones blow through - watering the gardens and making us go uh or ahh. I can not forget the other awesome light show we had each night of fireflys. The little bugs flew around in our yard and pasture blinking their green/yellow tail. So many on Tuesday night that Charis refered to it looking like a darkened football stadium where everyone is taking pictures with their flash cameras. No five minute half-time show, this lasted for hours.
Steve arrived - I'll let Charis tell you about that.
"I hate it." "I don't know, God Damnit." "I do not understand the difference between creepy and sexy." "Applebees" "Can we smoke it?" and so many more joyful new sayings.
Thank you for visiting - Julianne, Corrie, Stephanie and Christa!!! On one of our walks, Corrie asked me what I like and dislike about living in Wisconsin. The top dislike (which is huge and above any other dislike) was being away from our friends in Portland. What a treat to be together with some of people I miss so much for this time and remove some of the sorrow of the moving away. (It did howeverf make me miss the others still in Portland even more.) If I get a job, we plan on visiting around New Years. I hope I get a job. I hope I get a job.
All to say, the farm is bliss with Charis and I, but the farm vibrates with joy, truth, spirit and LIFE when it is full of people, friends, children, dogs and horses.
(Written a while ago, but no chance to place onto a computer - we are less technologically fit and I do not miss any of it.)
After a full and wonderful day of moving (thank you Chris, Becca, Ted, Jeannine and Ben), Charis and I have had days of bliss. Days better than imaginable, better than dreamed. I would walk around the farm, sit in the grass, drink a beer on the front porch and be in complete amazement. Pinching myself and washing my face with prestine accuracy can not remove the smile.
Charis and I awake around 6:30 to bright blue skies and magnificent green trees. The mulititude of birds and their songs sing to us. Charis goes to the barn and I go to the garden next to the barn. I carry scissors and the lettuce spinner. I fill up the spinner with lettuce and pick 20 or so stalks of rubarb. After throwing the giant leaves from the rhubarb in the compost, I sit down and start pulling weeds - queens lantern?, needles and grass (hay). An hour or two have gone by without my knowing it and Charis arrives with a wheelbarrom of manuer. We head up and have a hearty breakfast - bacon, eggs, pancakes, coffee.
Then we head off to some chore - building a stall, putting up a fence, more cleaning out of the garden. A couple of hours have gone by without us knowing it and we have lunch. Charis goes out then to ride one of her horses and I practice my horn. We finish the morning project and a couple of hours have gone by without us knowing it.
Dinner comes, a giant salad, picked in the morning and lots of savory protein. Tired, yet full of life, we sit on our front porch and watch the thunderstorm dance a light parade across our sky. We try to read and then fall into sleep excited to awake again to the birds, blue and green.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Hi ho everybody! I'm back in the cities for Father's Day (I got my dad an AWESOME camoflauge John Deere baseball hat from Fleet Farm. Seriously.)and I'm commandeering my mom and dad's computer for a few minutes here to finally get a blog going.
The humidity of the summer has made Colby's and my hair unusually curly. He's got kind of a carousel horse thing working right now. It's hard to put in to words my time at the farm over the last week. Every so often I think about something I have to record for posterity - some way the clouds are moving all wispy-like, or how the infinite greens blend seemlessly together in our woods. About how much I adore the pastoral, open view from our hammock. Or how when I get up in the morning and look out the window or ride a horse fast through the grassy knolls with my hands tangled in mane I still have to pinch myself. And then pinch harder.
In other farm news, after our move in last weekend Jay left for Seattle for his grandfather's memorial service and is there until tomorrow night. I've been at the farm all by myself, sometimes enjoying and sometimes enduring the solitude. Fortunately I have no shortage of equine and feline friends to keep me company. On Thursday, miracle of all miracles, the excavators FINALLY came and graded the quonset building and put in a load of sand. I've since been moving the sand around a bit, making it work. The weather has been in the 70's and breezy - still warm enough to get a bit of a sunburn without a hat, but very nice. The new Belgian comes on Thursday - as flooding has kept the load from coming from Alberta. This has given Jay and me much needed time to get his stall built and we'll be able to get the new pasture fencing up for him. The biting flies have been the latest in the series of plagues on my poor horses. This time Colby developed his hives on his belly and tender nether regions, and Mistie's udder swelled up. Thinking I was helping, I was spraying them fairly religiously with fly spray ... which gave them chemical burns. Unbelievable. Someday I'll get a handle on these $@%#(I&^@)Midwest bugs.My training horse came in on Sunday and I've been taking him out on the trails, with some fairly spectacular bolts and bucks (a quarter horse that's afraid of cows - now that's a first!)Generally a good challenge I think, with lots of riding for me.
We're practically peeing in our pants with excitement over the nearing arrival of our Portland gang! Julianne, Corrie, Christa and Steph are much anticipated. We're going to try and scare up some inner tubes for a float down the Red Cedar River and are thinking of other ways to experience some good old fashioned country livin'. Honorary John Deere baseball caps for all!
So sorry to all who have emailed me recently. I'm on a computer about once every two weeks and tonight I had just a half hour to get this done (a far cry from my time at Hopkins where I just sat at the computer and waited for emails to come in). I'll respond to you at some point - but I'm not ignoring you and I love your correspondance as always. Phone is still the best way to reach me for now: 715 658 1581.
Much love and sunny warm days to all!
Monday, June 13, 2005
Much like Charis and Jay's move into the Minneapolis house almost exactly a year ago, we had a very typical hot and humid midwest summer day for moving them out to the farm this past Saturday. The rains held off though, and half the boxes and furniture in the house were graciously packed up by our wonderful family, then promptly unpacked two hours later in Colfax. The farmhouse is looking beautiful (if I do say so myself) and is wonderfully complimented by the furniture that has been generously handed down from all of our parents. There is a little bit of everyone's family at the farm, creating our own version of a castle out of chaos. The peonies are in full bloom, the vines are making their way up the sides of outbuildings, and the horses are fat and happy. Flannery and Gus are great cat-heroes, adjusting to yet another (and hopefully their last) move. Aside from the bed boxspring falling on Flannery (who miraculously trotted away from the scene), they seem to be managing just fine (aka, cowering under the bedroom covers for a few hours before venturing out into the farmhouse for a look at their new digs).
It was really hard to leave the farm that gorgeous Saturday evening after a satisfying day of moving and a hearty bbq dinner at the picnic table with the family.
Chris and I have space galore at the Minneapolis house for anyone looking for a place to stay this summer! That is to say, it's very quiet and sparse...but still our home for a few more months. I wonder how long I'll continue to see phantom cats prance by our room out of the corner of my eye, or mistake the neighbor's music for the sound of Jay's horn from the basement. My morning just isn't the same without Gus following me around, begging for a few minutes of birdwatching time on the porch before I go to work. But, this will be a good summer of adjustment. We have a lot more change to look forward to - I feel like we're all on the cusp of when the really good stuff starts to happen.
Mom and dad came home to Minneapolis from China the same week Charis and Jay moved to the farm - it's great to have them in the neighborhood, especially now that the house is a little lonelier. It's been such a treat to hear mom and dad's travel adventure stories unfold as they process the enormity of their experiences. We await photos and more details to come and have already enjoyed chrysanthemum tea, candied ginger and other wonderful souveniers.
I haven't talked to Charis and Jay since Saturday, but imagine they are busy getting the barn and pastures ready for the arrival of both Charis's training horse and also our newest member of the farm horse family early this week.
Plans for the deck continue to unfold and the posts will be dug and cement poured as the next major step. Many thanks to Eric for setting up the electricity in the basement for our washer and dryer. We will think of you each time a fresh load is taken out of the washer to hang on the line to dry. Also thanks to Kevin for more deck planning advice, and dozens of premature thanks to those of you who will get roped into helping us measure, cut, place, and nail the boards that will create a fantastic outdoor living deck space (and hot tub home)!
And that's the latest news from Minneapolis/Colfax. Have a happy Flag Day (and 37th anniversary, mom and dad)!
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Well, we formally broke in the farmhouse last weekend with a little family action: Jay's folks Tom and Lynda, along with his brother Greg, sister-in-law Emily and their two girls, Hope and Ellie, came for the Memorial Day weekend and a good time was had by all (despite an insane tick infestation that eventually put Emily in the emergency room on Monday night!).
Along with some great meals - barbeque, sandwiches and cookies galore - we got to bask in the warm, summery sun like lizards on rocks and with the help of our very buff farmer neighbors got Tom and Lynda's piano into the house! Upon trying to determine the best way to haul the thing in, Brian (who lives at the corner of S and 810th) said "Let's just pick it up and get it in there, I've got cows to milk." This was a favorite and oft-repeated line over the course of the weekend and ended up being exactly what they did! We were then treated to some wonderful playing by Lynda and felt for the first time the beautiful energy that music brings to a home.
The place is really starting to feel like a dwelling, with only a few last things to do to finish up in there (molding being the biggest). Some other beautiful antique furniture the Collins' brought really adds to the place as well. We're very lucky in that both of our families are moving and downsizing, which means we get to outfit the farm in legitimate furniture! We're quite the grown-ups now!
Other activities included LOTS of horseback riding by Hope and Ellie, who ended up being very brave equestrians indeed. By the last day, Hope was trotting and cantering on good old Mistie, following behind Colby with Ellie and me aboard. It was delightful to see my dear ancient mare connecting with the next generation horse-crazy girl. We also planted sunflowers and, indulging the anal-retentive Swede in me, I'm embarrassed to report I scrubbed the propane tank. Meanwhile, the boys got in lots of fun on the riding mower (with little Ellie taking a nap in her dad's lap as he mowed) and Greg and Emily's dog Kota ran herself silly and enjoyed a little horse manure snack from time to time. It was such fun to see other people enjoying themselves at the farm! What a treat.
Encouraging news on the job front: Becca will most likely be able to work it out that she goes back to her job part time after her maternity leave, and Chris's work is willing to be flexible as well. So we're in good shape in that department. Jay has a job interview for a writing job at Chippewa Falls High School tomorrow, so cross your fingers! I have a training horse arriving on June 12 - one week after my new adoptee is supposed to come this Friday! Jay and I move permanently to the farm June 11 - never a dull moment around here! I'll probably be checking my email only weekly at most, so if you urgently need to reach me, you should call the farm after June 10: (715) 658 1581. I think my cell phone will be de-activated at that time as well.
There are millions of trillium opening their faces to the sun in our woods - it makes me think of Portland and Tryon Creek State Park. I miss my fellow Portlanders! Can't wait for Julianne, Corrie, Steph and Christa's arrival! We anticipate their arrival with great joy. Not sure if the hot tub will be in by then, but we're working on it!
It's been a long time since I posted - I'll try to do better. Meanwhile, we send you all kinds of furry farm love.
Fragrant honeysuckle blooms to all,
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Well, besides the cold winter, Charis and Jay may have succeeded in pulling Portland weather with them to the midwest. First, a beautiful mild summer, now a rainy, gray, green spring! We're going on week two of rain and I think it's beginning to get to people around here...you know how much we all love to talk about the weather. "Yes, yes! Let's talk about the weather!" At least I'm not "Raining on the Inside," a la Amy Grant, circa 1980. Do you think I could write this whole blog entry in song speak? I'll spare you that.
Today, Charis is out at the farm, probably getting soaked as she waits for another coat of polyurethane to dry on the wood floors before applying the final layer. She's my hero - Jay and Chris too - for sparing me and Arthur from the fumes and labor. This weekend will be spent experimenting with solutions for the upstairs - now that we know it's unsandable and some of the floor up there is now striped where we tried sanding it and hit only every other floorboard...we're facing some creative solutions! Thank god the rest of the house has so much "character" (aka imperfections), that we can get creative and it will hopefully just blend in with the rest of the quirks. We love the quirks, don't get me wrong. Quirks who love quirks.
Jay wants Charis to paint an Italian countryside mural on our kitchen wall (inspired by the one in the new Riverview Wine Bar down the street from us in Minneapolis). I say mural in the kitchen only if she'll agree to also do a re-make of her Winterhawks hockey caricatures on the wall in the guest bedroom. Are we going to need a public vote on this one?
And Charis wants Jay and Chris to whittle the stump at the top of the driveway into her favorite Precious Moments figurine. Just kidding, she's actually lobbying for an eagle swathed in an American flag. In all seriousness, there's talk of making the stump into a bench...not a bad idea...what do you think?
The property is getting outfitted with more and more trees, including a beautiful willow in front of the barn (my personal favorite) and a couple of cherry trees are on the way. Tomatoes, basil, and more veggies will go into the ground this weekend both at farm and house. Jay wants 48 tomato plants. Last year we reaped about 300 tomatoes from 4 plants. So, bring your baskets when you come for a visit. Apparently Arthur can't have tomatoes until after age 1. or honey. or peanut butter. I learned this in the lunchroom at work today. Is this for real?
Mom and Dad have officially begun their trek around China with Barb and Dennis. After a ridiculously long Saturday of moving 3500 square feet of belongings into their darling 1500 sq. foot bungalow, I dropped them off at the airport Sunday afternoon - they were exhausted but beaming. We are amazingly thrilled for them to have this experience. They've been waiting for this for years.
The next few weeks will really pick up speed - including preparing for C&J to move to the farm full time in early June. It's bittersweet for me - the house in Minneapolis will be so quiet--too quiet. And Chris and I will anxiously await our reunion in early fall with baby in tow. Arthur will certainly miss Charis and Jay's kitchen creations over the summer. We'll just have to savor them (C&J and their meals) during the weekends we're together. But we're also excited to welcome the new horse into the fold in three weeks, then even a dog (?) and baby to quickly follow. We're doing our darndest to fill those 36 acres, people! Help us out, and put Colfax on your travel calendar soon! Corrie, Christa, Julianne, Steph - we can't WAIT to see you in June...and promptly fill you with food and drink and merriment.
That's all for now - just some midday, midweek, rainy afternoon thoughts from me, B.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Monday, May 09, 2005
What a weekend! Oy.
Jay had to re-awaken me three times this morning as I was plastered to my bed. Besides sanding and re-finishing the floors (the boys and WONDERFUL COUSIN BEN) and planting zillions of plants/vines and making trellises (B and me) Colby was diagnosed with Lyme's Disease over the weekend. Apparently the ticks are rampant right now. When we got to the farm on Saturday his legs were swollen like footballs and he was not a happy camper. The grizzled, hardened old country vet - the only one I could get after a couple hours of trying - came out and pumped him full of antibiotics, was out again yesterday (Sunday) and will be back again today. When I asked him whether Colby would be okay, he looked me straight in the eye and said "He'll either live or he'll die. We'll know in a couple of days." Poor horse has been through the wringer with the Midwest bugs. The good news is that once they've been exposed and recovered, they're immune to another bout.
On the upside, I'm selling my beautiful trailer in order to adopt this boy:
Isn't he awesome? He comes from a PMU farm (Pregnant Mare Urine - used to make the drug Premarin). Apparently Canada has shut down all of their PMU farms as of late April because they've been able to make a synthetic version of Premarin, which is a very good thing as the PMU farms are cruel to the horses (mares are impregnated and made to stand in stanchion stalls 24/7 so that their urine can be collected). The downside to this is that there are now thousands of horses flooding the market, and most will be sent to slaughter because of they way humans have senselessly and shamefully exploited them. I've wanted to adopt one of these guys ever since I heard about the farms.
That's it for now- back to work!
Love and glorious flaxen manes and tails to all,