Tuesday, January 24, 2006

1000 Trees

So I know this may sound a tiny bit on the optimistic side, but we're hoping to obtain and plant 1,000 trees (of all different varieties) this spring. We will have one week to carry out this operation. See, the thing is that we can get them very cheaply from the DNR, but only in bulk. This feels like it could potentially be the very best idea so far ever or quite possibly the craziest idea so far ever. Why is this so often the case?

It's been thrilling to discuss the planting year with the Lostview clan, especially with the snow and ice still all around us. Believe me when I tell you that one furtive glance around at the pale bleak sky, and the pale cold ground and the stark skeleton trees makes a person wonder whether anything will ever sprout or stretch toward the sun or turn a million shades of vibrant green ever, ever again. But even getting our garden ideas down on paper is hopeful. Tomatoes and beets and carrots and broccoli and honeysuckle and sunflowers and ... oh my! I do appreciate the seasons around here, if only because I look forward to the winter rest after a full summer of harvesting and preserving and to the summer life after the long hibernation.

I've been forgetting to mention that I've been volunteering in Jay's classroom, helping the kids with their writing on Fridays (and bringing in donuts for the teachers). I've loved hearing their stories, and have developed a real appreciation for what Jay does. It's clear how much respect and affection the kids have for him. So far some of my favorite stories have involved people who are an inch tall and crawl out a window via a slide projector to freedom on the outside, a 6th grade girl who gets dragged into the world of wimpy sumo wrestling and myriad fantasies about fairies whose dresses turn white when they're awake and purple when they're asleep. All I wrote about when I was in 6th grade was horses! (There are a few of those in Jay's classes too, by the way.) At any rate, I'm having a great time.

Speaking of great times, Jay and I went to Native Bay for our anniversary - this is a place out in the middle of nowhere (county road S to be exact) and pretty much embraces the Higgins philosophy, using local organic meats and veggies in their meals. Yum! Thelonious didn't even complain when I had a few bites of the organic bison tenderloin. Bison! Can you beat that!?

So on Sunday night, I woke up with a rapidly spreading swelling in my neck and having trouble breathing, which gave Jay and I our first opportunity to visit the nearest emergency room - in Bloomer. As it turns out, I had a weird respiratory virus (Jay thinks I contracted it from the petrie dish also known as his classroom). At any rate, I ended up being fine, and Jay and I got to hang out on Monday together, since we'd spent several hours overnight in the hospital. Never a dull moment around here, people!

Thelonious is fine as far as I can tell. He's definitely hanging out over my belt a little farther every day. Yikes!

I hope you all are well - nice to hear from so many of you lately. It's been weird to have Chris and Becca and Ellis gone for so long this time around, but they'll be back tomorrow. The house is too quiet! We need a laughing baby to perk things up!

Love and organic parsley risotto (much better than it sounds),


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Working from Home

Well, so far so good with the whole "working from home" thing. Granted, this consists of work a little, nurse a little, change a diaper, write some emails, play with Ellis, work a little more, have some lunch...you get the picture. What a gift to be able to be home most of the week, though. Surprisingly, it's been good for me to be working again. It's like I've gotten a tiny little part of my previous life back - a part that I enjoy and am grateful for. If I'm going to be working, this is where I want to be. It feels good to be productive in a non-mom way and to see and interact with my colleagues...good people who really get what we're doing (and trying to do) out here on Lostview Farm.

Ellis turned 4 months old last week and he is a serious character. He has recently learned to make raspberries with his lips (managing to spit all over himself and whoever happens to be entertaining him). He's also laughing more these days - a beautiful little giggle that brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. He screams less often but louder when he chooses and very directed ("I'm bored, get me out of this swing NOW!"). He's learning to roll over and grab at toys and faces, he is very interested in everything we're doing - especially anything going on in the kitchen. If he doesn't love the smell of garlic or baking pizza when he grows up, I will be shocked.

Watching him grow has only become even more miraculous and thrilling, knowing what we will get to experience with Charis and Jay in just 6 months. That Ellis will have a cousin-sibling (cousling?) so close in age just makes my heart soar. Our house will be craziness for the next few years...a whole new level of activity and growth for all of us. Come on over and join the mayhem!

These are some of my favorite Ellis photos from the last month or so. His favorite part of Christmas was lying under the tree...he spent hours squealing and staring up at the sparkly lights. And as you can see, he has a good appreciation for home brew (don't worry, grandmas, he didn't taste any).

I should get back to work. I'm sitting at the desk in our living room, looking out the picture window at the horses chasing each other around in the snowy pasture. It's a good life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Yep, I'm knocked up

...and after reading Chris' post about Colfax' reputation as a hotbed of UFO activity, I'm just hoping it's a human in there!

Okay, so I know this is a random photo to post with this headline (CORRIE!) but I've been meaning to get this one of Gideon in all of his saddled finery on the site since October or November (obviously, since the farm's looking pretty green in it!), and I also wanted to announce the presence of a three-inch person twirling around in my womb, so it seemed like a perfect combination - right?

The last three months have been some serious madness! I started getting nauseated right after Thanksgiving, something I originally attributed to consuming slightly too many crantinis and Lynda's killer appertizers over the holiday, but soon came to realize that there was more to it than that! I must tell you it borders on tragic to open the fridge to see all of the beautiful leftovers and want to throw up in the sink. VERY SAD INDEED. I'm finally on the other side of this phase, which is great. I do, however, still take a nap every day and fall asleep at 8:30 or 9 every night, sometimes on the dinner table. Jay (really!) wants to name the baby Thelonious, but I told him he'd have to settle for calling the fetus Thelonious (better than Chris' choice: Corky). So, sorry Cor, but it looks like the 3-incher is now Thelonious.

Jay and I have already gotten to listen to the locomotive-steady heartbeat (crazy!), and I've chosen a really cool birthing center and midwife in Menomonie. So far now that I'm not as nauseated, I can report that the fetus loves Life cereal, Kathie's hot fudge sauce, and anything hot and doughy. The fetus thus far hates red meat, and the smell of it cooking. The fetus is learning to change his/her mind about leafy greens.

I'm a little nervous about my motherhood debut, I have to admit. I guess as long as Courtney Love and Joan Crawford are in the running, I won't be the worst mother in the world. It's all so surreal! More to come on this later.

As you might be able to imagine, I haven't been riding much - actually less due to my weak stomach lately and more due to the horrible footing outside right now. We've had a veritable January heatwave here - 30s during the day, which melts the snow enough to make a puddle to freeze at night. Thus, we've got a layer of apparently fluffy white snow with a thick sheet of ice hiding perniciously beneath it. I'm a bit paranoid at this time to have 1200 lb of horse fall on me, I must say. I have still been walking in the mornings, though keeping more to the roads lately.

Thanks for your calls and emails - we're excited to add another to the brood, and as I say, now Ellis can karmically make up for all of the sibling brutalization I performed on Becca during our childhood by beating up on baby number two. Brilliant!

Love and miniature, partially-formed people to all,


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Moon, Coyotes and Water

Three spectacular sensory experiences all in one day: Jan. 12, 2006.

In My Spirit As Water (?) by David James Duncan, he mentioned the importance of living a life connected to nature. One example is knowing the cycles of the moon and what the current cycle is. This has become quite simple living on the farm. The moon is awesome. It shines and lights up the farm with warmth and vibrance. I can read while sitting in the hot tub. I ride my bike at night or morning with no need for my nickel cadium 10W light. The snow reflects off the moonlight and I need to wear sunglasses. I watch the deer run around in the fields at 11:00 at night. I have noticed that the earth rotates on its axis and passes the moon rotating around the earth about 1/2 hour every earth rotation. Every day it comes up a little later and leaves a little later. The moon also drifts back and forth on a North/South pattern. I never knew those things before. Now the moon feels like a warm, kind friend who visits when I need a little pick me up. This morning the moon began my bike ride to school. It lit my path and painted a spectacular show as she drifted behind the empty trees and hills leaving white and black stripes draping the horizon.

As the moon waltzed away behind the hills, the coyotes sang it a love song. Directly across the river a pack of coyotes sang their beautiful, eerie song. The leaders give a long high pitched howl and the rest string a load of rapid fire yips along side. It was delight to my ears and also frightening. The melody and harmony accompanied me for at least a mile along the Red Cedar River.

I try to arrive two minutes before my carpool. One reason is to lock my bike and disrobe part of my armor against the cold. The real reason I try to arrive early is take off my face mask, break open the lid to my water bottle from the ice and drink water that tastes like it was poured by the gods: chunks of ice, refreshing, crisp, complete rejuvenation.

This is all before the sun rises on a Thursday.



Let me just tell you folks, we are SO close to having internet at the farm, I can almost taste it! And you know what that means...I will be able to re-join the land of email and internet and best of all, blogging.

I'm at the Colfax library with Chris right now (at least until they boot me off the computer in 5 minutes), while Charis Ellis-sits. That sounds weird. But, I'm sure the two of them are having loads of drooly, babbling fun. Or Ellis is screeching Charis's ear off.

Also, I PROMISE to post some new photos...just as soon as we get the internet up and running and I finally get myself educated on HOW to post photos. It's about time now, isn't it? Anyway, aside from being a content-free post, I just wanted to express how thrilled I am to get back in the old Lostview Farm blog saddle. And I'd also like to make public my HUGE appreciation for Charis's loyal and beautiful posts. Without Auntie, Ellis-news would be way, way behind.

Talk to y'all soon!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dogs dogs dogs dogs

Okay, it's going to be another one of my patented library "quickie" blogs you've all come to know (and perhaps love?)

I wanted to talk about the dog population in our neighborhood. I walk every morning, and I have to say at first I was a little intimidated by the dogs everywhere. As you can imagine, people aren't exactly in to tying their dogs up around here, which is fine by me, but can be a little disconcerting when the one at the end of the road lurks in the bushes and jumps out in front of your truck barking every time (this is Max, the Johnson's shepherd mix). As I've gotten to know the neighbors I've learned the dogs' names, which has been a remarkable thing. Max doesn't even bat an eye when I turn up (on foot anyway) anymore because I call to him while he's resting at his post by the tractor. Rex, the Buchner's beagle, has been a little tougher of a customer, but this is because he's deaf, they tell me, and can't hear his name being called. I think I'm softening him up a bit, though, because today he barked and ran right up to me in intervals, sniffed me, and then accompanied me part way home. The Beyrer's dogs Brown and Yellow (they're labs, and I'm not entirely sure they have names) are the classic run in slow-mo, snarling, barking, evil-looking-until-they-make-contact-with-you-then-they-turn-into-slobbering-puddles-of-smiling-dog-joy. Brown and Yellow frequently make their way over to our place for lots of sniffing and other doggish activities.

On a very tragic note, I HIT A PHEASANT WITH THE TRUCK. It was my first experience of this nature, and it made me very sad. He was just hanging out on the side of the road, and I was all excited to see him (he had a lovely red head with a white ring around his neck) and suddenly he RAN UNDER MY WHEELS. Just like he had a death wish or something. His buddy turned and ran in horror. Awful!

My mom and dad got me a Carhartt jacket for Christmas, so now I feel truly authentic on the farm.

Does all this crazy political stuff going down lately make anyone else feel like burning their voter registration card? I'm at the end of my cynical rope.

Okay, gotta run. Congrats to my dear Julianne, who's sporting a bright new sparkly rock on her left hand!

Love and shiny happy people to all,


Friday, January 06, 2006


Three months ago, Charis was nervous that I would not leave Portland once we went out to visit in December. She was fair and honest, as she always is, in her fear.
Thankfully, with Charis' help, I am less depressed and able to be healthier in my frustrations and anger at society. I am learning to live in the juxtaposition of life. I was and am scared of losing my edge, my idealism, my goals for the best life I can live. Fear of being complacent. I am coming to the understanding that one foot in anger at civilization, destruction of our environment, treating creative middle schoolers like factory workers, the loss of imagination, and the other foot in complete love for my wife, joy from living with Chris, Becca and Ellis, jolt of jazz, wonder at the beauty on the farm and the charge from teaching, can work together. Better yet, one foot in each creates the tension, edge I do not want to lose. A perfect balance of these equals a tri-tone, a flated 5th - think Coltrane's tension and passion in his music. I do not have to focus on keeping the edge. Rather, I live equally with one foot in each and the tension emerges.
Trying to live the life of a tri-tone makes life full, fun and healthy and right for me to come home after being in Portland.
Visiting the wonderful and loved friends of Portland reminded my I am who I am today because of those people. My vision and hope for the radical life I want to live comes from my years in Portland. If I would have moved straight to the farm after Seattle, I would have failed the complete and true life I am attempting. My focus, drive, dreams, vision come from experiences in Portland. It is ironic that my education and care from the people of Portland sent me away to Wisconsin. Joyfully, the friends of Portland remain close and a constant influence upon who I am, thrive to be and will become.

Becca asked me my highlight of the trip to Portland. Impossible to answer; every part, every moment with every person was awesome. My regret is not being able to spent more time with each person. I would love to drink more beer or coffee with every person there. I would love to go out for coffee or tea with each of the students I saw from Cedar Lodge. What a complete joy and gift to see these beautiful and intelligent people who shared room 205 with me.

Back at the farm: joyful, proud, full of life, full of struggles, dreams and desires. One foot in Wisconsin; one foot in Portland. Tri-tones are one of my favorite intervals. I do not want to resolve it, but live in the edge - live complete.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

High Times in Portland and a birthday to remember!

Hey everyone! We're back from the lush Northwest and our dear Portland didn't disappoint with her gray, rainy weather, which at 50 degrees felt like a tropical spa to us! My skin has never felt so silky smooth!

But the real fun was to bask in the love and glow of our beloveds there in stumptown. It truly was a whirlwind tour, and I know we should have booked a few weeks to really get in all the time we needed with people. Kathie Gray was a delightful hostess, and we got to spend time with our homies the Jacksons, Plies, Grays, Duddlestons, Ruthie, Selvey contingent, DiGis, Cedar Lodge crew, McDevitt/Lyons duo, plus the many awesome spouses and lovahs (some of whom we were meeting for the first time!). We feel richly blessed by the amazing family we've got in that damp, green town. It truly is a gift to be able to drop in to relationships as if no time has past after a year and a half spent apart. WE LOVE YOU PEOPLE! WE'D TAKE A BULLET FOR YOU! Though there were some tears on the way home, I have to say the feeling of good fortune, of having such deep friendships in our lives, has kept us from feeling too sorry for ourselves.

Despite hard goodbyes, it was nice to get back to the stillness of the farm - to see the (bigger) baby (who is making many new sounds and is more hilarious than ever) and my equine and feline pals. Getting back to the routine has its benefits. Yesterday was my birthday, and I have to say I have a feeling 34 is going to be the best year ever. I got some awesome gifts from the fam - gardening clogs from Becca and Chris and tasty wine and accessories from Tom and Lynda, along with some fancy hand cream from Greg and Emily and a subscription to Atlantic Monthly from Nathan and Barbara! But I have to say I was most surprised by the one from my honey: HE'S BUILDING ME A SLEIGH. FOR GIDEON TO PULL US AROUND IN. With Bill Beyrer's help, of course. The card he constructed was probably the best part, and when we get our internet (It's really happening! Excitement! Fear! Can I limit myself? Do we need to be "connected" this way? Technology on the farm! Oy! Mixed feelings!) I'm DEFINITELY downloading a photo of this masterpiece for all of you to enjoy. Let's just say it involves Flannery riding in a sleigh. I'm not giving you any more! My mom and dad are coming out for a Pizza Extravaganza night (Jay's making a deep dish and Chris is making his classic Neapolitan) for dinner tonight so mom and I can celebrate our birthdays together. Good times, noodle salad!

On my walk today, on the wildlife super highway, I found deer tracks, rabbit tracks, some larger cat (perhaps of the bob variety) tracks and - best of all - baby raccoon tracks behind momma raccoon tracks. Those things crack me up!

I'm going to close with a small rant. Get this: we live about 1 mile away from a dairy farm. If we want to get milk, we have to drive 12 miles in to Colfax and either spend $4 a gallon for conventional milk that has been shipped from Minnesota or $7 a gallon for organic milk that has been shipped from (yes) OREGON! What is wrong with this world?!? The other crazy component is that our neighbors, who extract milk from cows for a living and who live easy walking distance away from us, ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SELL THEIR MILK TO US BECAUSE OF STATE LAW! WHAAAAAAAT!? Needless to say, we're trying to get around this red tape by setting up a barter system. Stick it to the man! (yes we'll pasturize the milk ourselves, worriers).

Love and hot milk fresh from a bovine tit to all,