Monday, March 21, 2005

?Who am I?

My mind usually races with this question. Again, it is racing at lightining speed and bouncing around my head like a hard rubber ball. The farm and living in the Mid-West (away from Portland) has resurfaced a lot of questions about who I am.
I am on the equity team at school: anti-racism. We have been in seminars and are discovering how to address the racism in schools and in our school in general. I was asked to be on the team because I confessed to my principal that I am a racist - why are of the students who are failing and being sent out on discpline 95% of them are black? This training has further punched me with the question who am I? Part of the training is to acknowledge and recognize that I am a white male. I tried for a long time to be color-blind. I genuinely believed this was the right way to live. If I am color-blind, then all the people of color that I see are either skinless or white. Neither is true or fair to them. I am not acknowledging their being and culture. It was easy to think colorblind because what is white? I do not know my culture and do not see many positives about white. So again who am I? What is my culture?
Most likely I will not be able to commute to work by bike next year, I am not a cyclist. The last gig I had was two months ago, I most definitely am not a jazz musician. Yet, I have tried intellectually to stress that a person is a being not a doing. Therefore the label of biker, musician, teacher, etc should not count. These are doings.
Yet, I wrestle with this daily. The emotional weighs heavier than the intellectual for me.
The farm at the time being has created stress too. All the projects. We do not rest at the farm, nor do I see us resting any time soon. This is my doing, I want that deck and garden going. When I read the gardening book though, I had a panick attack. There is so much to know and there are so many things that can go wrong: pests, fungus, etc.
Other farm questions eating at my skin. Will there be any culture in our neighborhood besides hunting and the Packers? Will our children ever know people of a different culture than white, protestant? That scares me. Will I become more dependent on gasoline. Is there ever another quintet or sextet to be a member of? (I practice and practice, and wish I had more time to practice. Something in me is driving me, will it ever count?)

Here is the funny part. This is all exciting. I am truly entering the unknown: a child in the house, a garden, an orchard, animals, an unexplored community, discovering my culture and whiteness, and being pushed to the edge of living to what I believe is the best. I guess I had better start listening to the trees, birds and land and learn.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Storm Watch 2005

Even though we continue to remind ourselves that Minnesota usually gets most of its annual snowfall in March, it doesn't make seeing that cold white stuff when we're ready for spring any easier! Just a dusting so far this morning, but believe me, the local weathermen are CRAZY with anticipation of the big storm on the horizon. Thank god those crocuses are hardy little beauties! We planted a few dozen bulbs at the farm and I'm anxious to see the daffodils and tulips begin to push through the snow.

The one good thing about the nasty weather is that it certainly makes our long days on indoor projects at the farm more bearable! Our goal is to have the big projects inside completed by May so we can look forward to long days working in the garden, building the deck, installing the cedar hot tub, planting our trees, setting up the pasture, and taking breaks soaking up the warm sun.

Charis, Jay, Aunt Becky and I are off Saturday early morning for bathroom tiling - it is so gratifying to watch that once barely liveable bathroom transform into new, clean, ours. The new toilet, sink, and beautiful tub are all patiently waiting in the living room and kitchen - to hopefully be installed in the next week or two after tiling, installing another window, and drywalling. This weekend, we're also having a local husband-wife expert floor team come to the farm to give us an estimate on refinishing the wood floors upstairs and down. Keep your fingers crossed that the news won't break the bank. I know that sanding and refinishing those old floors (some of which haven't seen the light of day for decades until this year) will completely transform the house. It's therapy (for us and the old wood floors), to uncover them, scrub them, and pull the thousands of nails and staples from their boards. I feel like the house is beginning to breathe again.

Back on the Minneapolis homefront, life is a tower of big events that seem to just barely be balancing at times. Work for me has never been busier and I am anxious for a break that will finally come after the first week of April...the end of a huge work event I've been planning, and the beginning of a 4 day vacation with Kelly in Florida. The small blizzard going on out my window as I write this makes me wish I could push the calendar forward three weeks. So, generally I come home each weeknight, eat dinner, and see if I can't make it past 9 p.m. These days it's either exhaustion or restlessness that overcome me--I am ready for a break! In the midst of the stress and full schedule, I look for moments to be still and think...and apologize to the baby inside me for not taking more time to myself, for getting my priorities mixed up. When I put this child first, everything else seems so puts the job, the projects, the house, the farm, all in perspective. It makes me feel less worried about how things will work out at the museum and so excited for how things will work out in life over the next 6 months, year, decade. I'm 16 weeks along and am generally feeling great. I am still astonished daily at how naturally my body changes and adapts the the constant development. My belly is bulging more and more each day - beginning to look a little more pregnant and a little less like I've just eaten an enormous meal. But I feel good - energized each time I think about what it will be like to meet this little one face to face.

April will be busy but great - full of wonderful things each weekend...from the culmination of all my hard work at the museum for a big event the first weekend, to a birthday celebration for me and Jay with feast, family and friends at the end of the month. We will go from snowy blizzard to green buds in a matter of days and weeks around here. Spring brings renewed life, energy, light, and change. I welcome all of these elements to my never-stagnant life and embrace another leap of faith knowing it is taken in hand with Chris, Charis, Jay, and all of you.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

May the road rise to meet you

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! Last night Jay and I went to hear an amazing traditional Irish band called Lunasa. For those of you who don't know, this is the one kind of music that truly bridges the gap in our musical tastes (we discovered this in Doolin, Ireland where the band played feverishly inside a tiny pub packed with revelers all bouncing up and down drunkenly together). Lunasa is made up of an upright bass, many flutes and whistles, bagpipes, fiddle and guitar.

I have been listening more regularly to the old Celtic and Scandinavian tunes - primitive, sad. It gets inside of me. I feel a real connection to my roots when I hear this music.

That's it for now. We tile on Saturday, and Bex says we get to pick up some donuts for the early morning drive out. Woo hoo!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Eagles, rodentia, etc.

When I was a kid there was a real push for saving the bald eagle, as it was nearing extinction and was, after all, our country's mascot. Teachers always spoke of eagles in hushed tones, and recommended we visit our local zoo to get a glimpse of the last few. Apparently, the species is in better shape now, but I still get a real pang of excitement every time I see the bald eagle that prowls our farm (apparently the cornfield is rife with rodents. Maybe the eagle should try prowling our house too). As Jay and I were driving in to the farm on Saturday, he (the eagle, not Jay) was picking at some carrion on the road, and he swooped right up over our windshield. Massive, impressive, lovely to behold.

Speaking of mice, I have to admit I have a real problem with the traps. I know we have to get vermin out of our house, but I still choke up when I see the butt end of one sticking out of the snap trap, and I imagine his surprise when, thinking he was getting a scrumptious bit of cheese, he got smushed. It makes me sad. That's all I'm saying. One night after Jay and I went to bed we heard the familiar snapping sound, along with lots of screaming and squealing. Jay, bless him, went down to investigate and as it turns out, one with especially good reflexes had gotten only his front foot trapped, and he was running in circles squealing. At this point I heard Jay gently saying "Go Home! Go Home!" as he had freed the apparently unappreciative mousie, who then ran up our counter to the fruit basket. For the record, I think we've cleared them all out. We have some holes to patch, obviously. Ahh, country livin'.

This last weekend, the farm foursome made some more good progress. The boys installed the concrete subfloor and finished the plumbing in the bathroom - it's now all ready for us to tile with Aunt Becky next weekend. They also installed two new light fixtures (porch, above kitchen sink) and the living room fan - very nice indeed. Bex and I painted the freebie clawfoot (or as Jay says, bear claw) tub, which is now pristine white and gorgeous, and Jay and I installed a door jamb in the stairway door. We also decided that we're going to go ahead and lease the cornfield to Bill Beyrer again, with the exception of one narrow strip we'll use for the orchard, hops, and more pasture for the horses. The other very exciting thing we did was plan for all the vines, flowers, fruits and berries we'll be planting this summer. Can't wait!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Black snow in the city

As the peeps in Minnesota say: "Ish!"

It's getting to be that time of year - when everything in my being wishes for spring. Sunday it hit 60 here, and people truly didn't know what to do with themselves. I got a bit of a sunburn, I'm ashamed to report. Apparently March is the time when the big snowstorms hit, but I've yet to witness this phenomenon. It is very strange to go from living in a place where it most likely won't get cold enough to snow to living in a place where it often doesn't get warm enough to snow. So many people are (stoically, midwest-style) amazed about the lack of the white stuff around here - I've actually had two different people say "If this is global warming, I'm all for it!" There IS some snow left on the ground right now in Minneapolis but it's extremely dingy. It's back to 25 again today, by the way. Wicked tease, Sunday.

Jay and I overdid it at the farm last weekend. Too much focus on installing plumbing and a brand new barn door and too little focus on relaxing a bit and enjoying the sunshine. Jay says he yelled the "F" word too many times in frustration with the PVC pipe, and especially when the sewage in the tank outside started to melt and the stank was coming up through the pipes, which were pointed directly in to the bathroom with no vent set up (there is now!) and no bathroom appliances hooked in yet. Aye carumba.

I think we're starting to get a little weary with the running back and forth at this point - thank goodness there are only three months left! Our senses of humor are suffering!

The horses are fine - Colby had an eye infection and so I got to meet the area horse vet, who is awesome. I tried to get Colby to step up onto a stump for about 2 hours, and finally had success when I produced a carrot. Sheesh.

Okay, over and out. I'll be off to the farm this afternoon and back in the city tomorrow evening. Crazy times!