Saturday, December 23, 2006

Forging a rural community

I'm aware that most of my writing over the past several months has been hijacked by a miniature person in footy pajamas, so I wanted to take a moment (now that I've got one) to write about community. Honestly, I've rarely been without a loving circle of family, friends and loved ones firmly lodged in place all around me. As many of you know, I was born into a communal household, and enjoyed several second homes within walking distance where the doors were never locked. I've learned (sometimes the hard way) that when you've always had these kinds of relationships, it's really easy to take them for granted when you move ahead into new territory.

All of that said, I have been grateful for my time here in rural Wisconsin because I believe it has forced me to get out to create and foster community in ways I've never had to do before, and this has grown me as a person. Last year I was happy to hunker down in my introverted way, taking long nature walks by myself and pondering my newest transcendentalist philosophical leanings, but having Owain has given me an incentive to start really getting to know the people around me. I've realized that not only do I need the support and infrastructure this kind of knitting-together brings, but I desire for Owain the same kind of community I myself had.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a neighborhood holiday party here at the farm. I don't want to toot our respective horns, but I must say that it was a wild success. It was at this party that I finally began to feel the neighbors really let their guard down with us (the rum and spiced cider helped); I felt a genuine sense of warmth and trust that I hadn't completely felt until now. When we talked to our neighbor Ilene a while ago, she said that back in the days of the one room school house, the community was together on a regular basis, whether it was for school or church functions, or helping each other plant or harvest or hay, or what have you. These days, I'm realizing, with larger schools that are farther away and all kinds of new technologies and tractors, we don't really need each other in those ways, but we still need each other. My determined charge to myself and the farm is to be actively supporting the community we wish to achieve.

Love and lighter, longer days to all,


Thursday, December 21, 2006


Imagine if you will, staying up for the most part of the night with your teething son (our new motto: sleep is for the weak), and having your beloved generously offer to take said son down to the first floor at 4 a.m. so you can get a desperately needed hour or two of shut eye. Now imagine waking at 5 a.m. to a bit of a ruckus downstairs, and coming upon the following sight: your skinny-legged husband wearing nothing but a pair of long underwear bottoms and your delighted, shrieking son in the sling, chasing (along with the two befuddled cats) a small squirrel around the living room with a roll of wrapping paper. If you now have a good vivid image in your head, you have the slightest idea of what my morning was. As Jay said, "I don't know how many people can say they've soothed a child, eaten breakfast, made their lunch, caught and released a squirrel and rode their bike 11 miles, all before 7 a.m." Indeed.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

News from the Job Front

One of our biggest goals at the farm is to be able to live there sustainably...working and living and thriving on our farm. It is a far cry from sustainability that Chris and I continue to work part time in the Twin Cities, commuting a couple of days each week, in the hopes that this schedule is a stepping stone on the path to where we'd ultimately like to be.

There is a door to uncertainty, frustration, and fatigue that I could easily walk through, looking at the time that it's going to take us to begin to call ourselves sustainable. I might be discouraged, thinking I'll be working this commute for years to come. In the midst of these looming fears, I have been presented with a great opportunity.

My former boss at the Bell Museum, Katie, left to become the Executive Director of a new foundation last spring. Soon after, she approached me with the offer to join her in this new venture. After a lot of waiting, I was officially offered the position last week and I gladly accepted. I'll be working for the Mississippi River Fund (, doing fundraising, grant writing and event planning. She and I will be charged with establishing the fund as a new non-profit organization - basically starting a new business - with the mission of protecting the River. I will continue to work in the cities, blessed with a two-day/week schedule in the office, and working from the farm part time. I will learn what it takes to start a non-profit (future skills for farm life). I will learn how to promote a new and worthy cause. I will be working for someone I consider a good friend in a new partnership that will hopefully bloom into an awesome future for both of us. Katie puts family first and is a realistic, driven, fun person. We are both really excited and I truly feel that this is the right next step for me, and ultimately for our farm family.

My amazingly undaunted, energetic, enthusiastic, generous mother will continue to care for Ellis on Mondays and Tuesdays while I work--a situation that both she and Ellis adore and look forward to weekly.

I feel so lucky, so blessed. Everything could change again in another month or year, but I have found peace in the knowledge that it is all part of the plan. With patience, we will achieve our goals, understanding that they will change with life and time. I have no idea what life will be like in 10 years, but I'm excited to find out.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Owain rides a pony

Owain spent some time with Grandma and Boompa (as he like to be called - can you see a little resemblance in this photo on the left?) this weekend, followed by his first ride! We enjoyed the global warming this weekend - being out without a hat in December in Wisconsin is pretty much unheard of! It was sunny and almost 50 today...

Christmas Revelers

I know you're asking yourselves "What, did those crazy Lostviewers go and build themselves a time machine now?" but actually we just got all dressed up to go to a party thrown by our friends Kelly and Keller. The idea was to pick an era and get cracking on a costume! Fortunately my mom still has a dress that Diane Roth crocheted for her in the 60's, and it fit Becca perfectly!

I'm putting this photo on the blog mainly so you know that I'm capable of posting pictures without little people in them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

We have a little problem...

...Owain loves the mall.

Most of you know how I feel about the mall. I'd pretty much rather have my eyelids tattooed than go to the mall. I'm allergic. But you know what they say about desperate times and desperate measures. Our little peanut is cutting some MAJOR teeth and it's like sometimes the teething fairy comes in the night and replaces our grinning, gurgling child (see above) with Crabby Carl. The daily activities which once brought Mr. Smiley so much joy are looked upon with utter disdain by Crabby Carl. Whereas Mr. Smiley actually enjoyed getting seriously bundled up for our winter walks, Carl vociferously disapproves until he gripes himself to sleep once walking. Mr. Smiley's sweet-ass running man moves in the Johnny-Jump-Up have been replaced by Carl's ubiquitous whining and shrieking. Mr. Smiley's nice long 4 - 5 hour stretches of sleep at night? Now usurped by Carl's much more militaristic wake up calls coming every hour on the hour.

So what are two dead-on-their-feet parents to do in single-degree temperatures and biting winds but swallow their pride, get off their very high anti-consumerism horses and take their son to the mall? Yes, friends, that is what we did yesterday. That's just what it came to. And with heavy heart I must report that it was a raging success. Owain was captivated by the people, the lights, the costume jewelry, the fake Santas, the dinging of the cash registers - you name it. He even took a very nice nap in the sling. I think he's going to be applying for a job at the Gap - they are hiring temporary holiday help, you know. Worse still, if I'm going to be totally honest with you, I have to admit that even I enjoyed it just a little bit. But I'm not going to talk about it anymore. What's done is done.

Parenting is the most roller-coastery thing I've ever experienced. What a ball of paradoxes - I'm never sure how it is that I can be so much better at it and so much worse at it than I imagined. It's simultaneously the biggest ego booster and ego buster there is. To quote the army (!): it's the toughest job I've ever loved. And at the center of it is this little phenomenon - this little PERSON who Jay and I made, who is different every day. Crazy, I tell you! Besides his thing for shopping, Owain is now enjoying making faces at the baby in the mirror, grabbing at toys, wearing 9 month clothes, laughing hard, chewing anything he can get his hands on, splashing all the water out of the tub, and sporting some serious cottage cheese thighs. He loves music, and grins when I sing to him before bed and when Jay plays his horn. He's had his first accident, courtesy of moi: falling out of the Johnny-Jump-Up (it was a very slow-motion type of thing - a gentle slump more than a fall - he's OKAY! I am still getting over it though). He gets bored easily. He loves outings and road trips. He's a character!

Love and a warm sit on Santa's lap to all,