Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Chicken Dance or Hammer Time?

Chris and Charis have now both been privy to Arthur's in utero dance party. What began two weeks ago as tiny flutters has swiftly elevated to wake-me-at-3a.m.-cartwheels. Every single time it's a happy surprise and we marvel at the miracle of what seems to be a very active little babe in my belly. Is that graceful dancing or clumsy uncoordination in there? Probably not hard to guess, given the genes Arthur is inheriting. But still, we can hope!

Spring is finally here in the great midwest and I have to laugh when I see the buds popping on the trees at the same time that my belly is popping out of my clothes! Today is week 20 - the halfway point. I'm measuring 34 inches around and have bid farewell to every pair of pre-pregnancy pants I own, save one baggy pair that I MacGyver-like fashioned with a button and rubber band to stretch a few extra inches. Beats the burlap sack Charis threatened I would have to wear. We have our 20 week check up and first ultrasound tomorrow afternoon - Chris and I are so excited to see some pictures and learn more about the babe. I've been feeling fantastic the past few weeks, so am hoping that continues with a clean bill of health from the doctor this time around.

The past few weeks have been really wonderful for me. From the accomplishment of a major event and milestone at my job to a blissful 4 day trip on my own to Florida, I have gone from crazy to proud and perfectly relaxed. The days I spent on my own in the warm, humid sun, were completely uneventful except that I found solitude and meditation in calming my mind, resting my bones, and listening to my body and baby. It was a needed break and a luxury for which I am grateful to Kelly (thanks for sharing your hotel room, you crazy working-woman!). The first few weeks of April culminated with a wild fun party at Elissa's "Canvas Clad" opening event at Offbeat Gallery last weekend. My growing belly filled out the artwork costume I wore for the event...a walking canvas signifying life & birth. It was an honor to wear Aunt Becky's beautiful costume creation at the event.

I was also happy to find my way back to the farm on Sunday after a long hiatus. The bathroom out there is becoming the brightest (albeit smallest) spot in the house. The transformation in that tiny room over the past 8 months is little short of a miracle. Charis and I proudly installed the beautiful tin backsplash in the kitchen and Jay, mom and I planted about 50 garlic starters in the lower garden.

We're pondering our options for house-farm-move-sell-rent this summer/fall. Between moving to the farm after baby arrives and determining what we can afford to do with the Minneapolis house, many decisions need to be made once we've researched our options a bit more. Do we sell? Do we rent? How much to sell for? What can we charge for rent? All this and a baby to boot. Thankfully, I'll be able to take about 4 months maternity leave before (hopefully) starting to work from farm/home part time in January and Chris will be able to take a few weeks then hopefully work his hospital shifts to allow us some good time together as a family when baby arrives. All of this is yet to be set in stone, so please send your prayers and good thoughts regarding a work/income/insurance situation for us this fall.

Charis and I were talking about how fortunate we feel to have each other and our families and friends as we step out into the great unknown of the future. It is only because of this communal life we've chosen that Chris and I can even consider staying home with our child, that we could afford to work part time, that we can look forward to raising our children on a beautiful farm in a wonderful community. While this turmoil of change is overwhelming, I am lucky to face these decisions and joyfully embrace our future. We are so excited, and Arthur is too.

Blessings and baby kicks to you all with love.

Arthur kicked me!

Well, it may have been an elbow. I personally think he was doing the chicken dance in there. At any rate, B and I were eating a curry salad and some pineapple last night and that got him bouncing around like there was no tomorrow! For the record, B and I were wondering whether Arthur would be privvy to the annoying songs that got stuck in her head. Does anyone know the answer to this?

Love and booties,


Friday, April 15, 2005

Arthur is an acrobat

The days are warm now - 75 on Sunday, and the farm is greening, with buds popping out everywhere. Arthur is doing back flips off of Becca's uterus, Gus made a break for it and ended up cringing under a bush outside for a few hours last week. It must be spring!

I, by the way, had a vision of B & C's baby recently. A girl. Dark curly hair - not a "poofro" (as B put it) but silky waves. She was a child in my vision, with B's blue eyes. I SWEAR Arthur is a girl, people. Anyone care to make a wager?

We're looking toward farming it with a mix of intense anticipation and a little dose of nerves while Jay hunts for a job out there and we all begin to take the baby steps toward full-blown transition.

Jay and I both have let people know we won't be returning to our jobs. This is a great relief, as I'm losing patience with the cement tomb aka my office. When you work in a temperature-controlled, windowless space lit by flourescents, it's hard to know what season it is at all, which pains me to no end. I just want to gaze upon a few daffodils springing up in the grass. Is that so wrong?

It's gonna be birthday mania in a couple of weeks as Jay and Bex celebrate their near-simultaneous special days with music and the traditional Italian feast. We will set places for all of you! Bring wine!

Love and pesto to all,


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ode to the Shop Vac

Ode to the Shop Vac

To thee I dost oweth a millions thanks.
The five gallons of supreme vacumming power.
The invasion of little red asian beetles has begun.
By thousands they crawl out of spaces unknown.
Into the sunlight they bath too stupid to remember
how they arrived.

My only defense,
the high pitched whine
of the big red gun.
With two hands,
ear plugs,
I plant my feet,
flip the power to on.

The little red shells with six black legs
bomb my head,
but I hold firm.
I try not to run or scream,
but gather them into the
five gallon holding tank.

I turn my back and a thousand more approach.
Is it war?
Will we win?

Yea, I do not like material things,
but I can not imagine a farm house without one.
Before your invention,
were humans like the birds in our premature garden-
bathing in the dirt?

Oh, Shop Vac how does thee suck!

Monday, April 04, 2005

I can now sleep sitting up

Alternate titles: "You ain't lived 'til you've done some drywallin'," "The hippies and the Norwegian Bachelor farmers are all the same inside," or "Our creek is COLD this time of year!"

At any rate, we had a marvelous, productive spring break out at the farm. The first weekend and into the week, Chris and his wonderful friend Erik wired the bathroom and Chris, Jay and Erik put up the drywall while I primed, patched and painted the stairway to the basement (which looked like it was about to fall down on someone's head) and painted the barn doors a smashing red hue. On Monday night Jay and I went to the Stone's Throw Tavern in Eau Claire for jazz night. The players, who were very young (post college?) invited Jay to sit in with them whenever he wanted, which was very encouraging. After a small hiatus back in the cities for my book group (The Mighty Oaks) on Wednesday, Jay and I were back at it on Thursday, with the bald eagle greeting us from where he sunned himself in the tree in the pasture.

I've been really wanting to cross-fence the pasture so that Colby doesn't continue his journey to obesity on Mistie-sized hay portions. This, as you might be able to imagine, set Jay and me up for another classic bickering session as we tried our best to sledge hammer posts in to a not completely thawed pasture. Oops. After expending wAAAAAy too much effort on the behalf of this project, with six posts in the ground we decided to take a break and get some more - several are stuck haphazardly in the field just outside of the pasture. So back we went, me feeling mighty smug in my tall rubber boots. Within a few minutes, I stepped through some unfortunately positioned weeds and right in to the creek! I was soaked up to my waist, with my toes squishing inside of my boots. Fortunately this gave us something to laugh about and cut the futile fencing session short. It's been pretty beautiful out here, but not swimming weather yet!

Friday I spent mudding and taping the bathroom drywall, which I have to say went much better than the living room now that I know what I'm doing. You'd think an anal retentive like myself would really enjoy this kind of work but I still hate it. Tedious and detail-heavy. Meanwhile, Jay went to a jazz festival put on the the University in Eau Claire. He got to hear some good music and attended a couple of seminars that really inspired him.

Saturday we got to go to a lunch and community meeting for our area - the Grant Township. The lunch consisted of some mystery meat and barbeque sauce on a bun, beans, chips, the ubiquitous cheese plate, and milk. We talked with Buddy - Bill Beyrer's brother - for a while, and met two very polite teenaged boys who told us about making maple syrup. At the meeting they were discussing a land use plan for the township. One of the things that makes the Grant Township special is that they require plots of land to be sold off in a minimum of 35 acre chunks. This is unique to the county, and to many counties in the state, and is one of the things we love about it. The plan also include protections for the Red Cedar river and the prohibition of commercial businesses and corporations. Six council members fielded questions and explained their survey findings. Many had nitpicky comments about the language of the survey and some were unhappy with the findings and want to be able to sell off smaller pieces of the land. This went on for about an hour, until Jay stood up and introduced us and said that this 35 acre rule played a large part in our decision to purchase our farm and that we were glad to be there. This led to other positive comments.

When the meeting was over, we were mobbed like a couple of rock stars! People were very friendly and thanked Jay for his comments. We were lucky to meet many of our "neighbors" - Bruce and Peggy, who live at the corner of 810th and S, Connie and Bob, who have horses and live several acres northwest of us, and especially Ilene (Bill - or Billy to everyone there - Beyrer's aunt), who lived in our house 55 years ago. She has many stories and can't wait to give us a full history over coffee some time (apparently there was a murder on our road - according to Ilene someone "ended up on the wrong side of a pitchfork!). We also met Scott, who introduced himself as an "old hippie" from the commune down the road and who wore an Oregon Ducks hat (!) Scott invited us to be on the community softball team and asked Jay to join him in a jam session at Colfax' Village Inn (not the chain for those of you who pictured Jay playing his sax for little old ladies eating pancakes). Scott was with "The Bachelor Farmer," as people called him, ancient, stoic, wearing a green John Deere hat, and smoking a cig. We met a real character named Grant Cutting when he yelled to Jay: "Are you the goob who bought the Case place?" and then "Is THAT your WIFE? God DAMN she's a looker!" I might be more flattered if Grant wasn't 75. Grant and Norval Beyrer (Billy's dad, for those of you who are counting) gave us accounts of eating squirrel in our house and spending nights there for a variety of reasons. It seems that many folks in the area have spent a night or two in our place. Grant also estimated that our house was built between 1860 and 1880 - an original homestead. Some other tidbits: The Ojibwe tribes used to live on our land before the homesteaders; our soil is known to be some of the best in the region; the Mornings, who had SIX BOYS, lived there before the Cases. We had a wonderful time getting to know these folks, who have been on this land for such a long time. Generations have farmed here, and I love that.

On Saturday afternoon, I took the horse out for a sunny, fast ride down S and to the swollen Red Cedar before taking W back in a loop. That night, we went to see Tryston perform in Cinderella at the high school. The sets, costumes and music (a live band!) were lavish for a high school show - especially in a small town - apparently quite the community effort with lots of support. In fact the show was sold out when we got there but they let us sit in the bleachers.

Sunday, I painted the outside concrete foundation of the house (white) and weeded and mulched the beds while Jay turned under our beautiful rich soil and applied abundant horse manure to our future garden site under the warm spring sunshine. The bathroom is primed and ready, and if all goes well, should be functioning by next weekend.

On the way home in the car, I slept sitting up for the first time ever. Will this be a trend?

I have felt great excitement for the farm part of this adventure for a long time, but after meeting our community and becoming a part of it this weekend, I'm just as excited for the relationships we'll foster there. Coming back to the cities this time, it felt like we were leaving home.

Love and sprouting tulip bulbs to all-