Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring at Sand Creek

Today, for the first time, it really feels like spring. There's something about the light and the intense warmth from the sun, even though the temps are still in the 30s. Ellis and I found the first signs of new grass by the side of the road and we're anxiously watching the happy green iris and tulip shoots rise up in front of the house. The snow is turning to mud...luscious mud, a little boy's dream come true. Charis and I took Ellis and Owain to the little park in Sand Creek, our darling nearest town, this afternoon, where all four of us teeter-tottered, slid down the "hill" (as Owain called the slide), and followed each other's bunny trails on the swings.

Smoochy McSmoocherson

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Morning

It's a gray, mild Sunday morning here at the farm, peaceful and still. Chris and Ellis are upstairs chatting away and I'm sitting in the big chair in the living room...just enjoying being...sitting down for what feels like the first time in days. We've been busy at home, but happy in our productivity and time together.

A late start this Easter morning didn't take us to church with my folks, as hoped, but this time to reflect and relax is really just the kind of "service" I needed. Lately I have been feeling more acutely - from joy and anticipation to anxiety and doubt. I think this comes with spring, with the dawning of another season of growth, in the soil and of the soul. I like to think of our household as similar to our garden...the first year was a bumper crop and we sure tended to that garden with tireless enthusiasm, having never tasted such amazing food. The second year, the garden expanded significantly and we experimented more, finding more failure and struggle but also more joy in learning. The third year we applied what we learned with the best of intentions, but still found ourselves blindsided by pests and mistakes. Though all along, every year, we relish in the true goodness of the fruits of our labor.

Today, I look at our snow-covered acres and smile, knowing that in just weeks we will scurry the boys outside in the mornings to discover green shoots rising from the soil and watch the growth throughout the season. I welcome this joy in creation and the undeniable beauty of new life. Happy, happy Easter.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Who is Owain?

Charis, Owain and I had an excited and much anticipated trip to Portland, OR to be with our deepest and dearest friends, but now we have to wait until July. An hour before take-off found Owain throwing up with a 103 degree fever.

It was hard to not go. Terribly hard. I was sad to not BE with dear friends, have in-depth, meaningful conversations, be stimulated, challenged and encouraged intellectually and spiritually, see flowers, grass, mountains and ocean, take off my long underwear and heal the cracks in my hands with moist, cool air.

I was terribly sad that the great people of the Northwest did not get to meet Owain. Yes, you all see his picture all the time in this blog, even see a movie here and there and hear great stories. But to meet him in person is unbeatable. Sure you can know what a saxophone sounds like by listening to a CD, but have you heard Warren Rand or Renato Caranto from two feet away with your insides booming like speakers? Sure you can see pictures of bald eagles flying down the Red Cedar River, but to be in a canoe and watch them sail over and ahead of you - an indescribable sight.

- Owain laughs and smiles at everything.
- He dances with his feet planted, but every other part of his body moves. Moves to the music.
- He plays my saxophone like a kazoo and if I take the mouthpiece off he gets mad and makes me put it back on to play.
- He knows how to create a drum beat on the synthesizer piano. I do not know how.
- He pulls books off the bookshelf, walks up to you and turns around with his arms out enough so your hands can slide in and pick him up.
- He loves to do acrobatics, which he calls acrobats, which sounds like "ah-ke-duh"
- When singing the alphabet he fills in A, B, O, T and Z
- At the end of a book, he says, "all done."
- Whenever you take start to take his clothes off for any reason, he tears them all off and declares with much anticipation: "hot tububub!"
- When it is time for hot tubbing, he slaps his bare stomach with both hands simultaneously and squats up and down to his own internal beat.
- He has no fear.
- Anything dropped or fallen merits an "oopseee."
- When you are carrying him and he wants something, he stretches one arm out and opens and closes his hand while kicking you with his feet like you are a horse.
- "No" is his answer for everything. Charis will ask, "is that yes no or no no?"

All of this has made me start rethinking: Who is Jay? I do not know. I know that nothing planned goes as planned and to have no set agenda for a year from now. Who knows what will be going on? I know this - I miss having mentors. One exciting part of going to Portland was to see people who truly guided me in mentor relationships. Dennis Plies has always been a guide in my thinking, questions and spirituality. Dennis is a dear friend, a natural and playful teacher. I was also going to see Connie McDonald, a mentor who taught me how to teach. I was going to take a saxophone lesson from Warren Rand.

I do not have any mentors here yet and I am realizing this is hard. I have not become dear friends with a Dennis. I have not met anyone who teaches half as spectacularly as Connie. I have not heard an alto, or a tenor for that matter, within a 150 miles radius with as much soul, sound and oomph as the players in Portland.

I spent all day fixing a hot tub with about 8 different leaks. Who the hell am I to be doing plumbing outside when it is 25 degrees? I am cutting down trees. Truly, who the hell am I to be using a dangerous and powerful chainsaw dropping giant trees? I tried dropping four at once, chaining them up and having the two pull the other two in the direction I wanted. I almost succeeded. And I almost killed myself. I never knew what a beet was until after college. Who the hell am I trying to grow organic food for myself and community and live on the food all year?

Truly. Who am I to be doing the things I try? I grew up in the suburbs, marching on a football field, bagging groceries and getting C's in English class. The knowledge passed down to me means I should be a pastor. I do not even know what a pastor is anymore.

I know I am a father. I do not have a choice in that. What will I teach Owain? I want to teach Owain how to live here on the farm. I want to teach Owain all about what is around us here at the farm. I want to teach Owain about music. I want to teach Owain to become who he is. Yeah, I'd like to teach him how to plumb well, how to build decks that are level, how to not plant tomatoes over potatoes so as to avoid blight, how to use a chainsaw so it is not in the neighbor's shop half the time, how to set up a greenhouse once. I hope Owain has a smoother learning curve than I do.


Friday, March 07, 2008


Note: Yes, 21 questions is way too many. We've pared the survey down to 6 questions, not to beg your participation, but to lighten it up a little. And to those few of you who tackled the "big one," thank you!

As we began to plan our home addition in detail, it became clear that we were not taking a holistic view of the project. We began to ask ourselves how it would fit in with the rest of the house, how we could best maximize space between the two structures, how it best sit on the property. In addition, Becca and Charis’s parents, Ted and Jeannine, have expressed interest in building a home on our property in a few years and we welcome the idea. This step involves major consideration not only about how their living space would fit in on the property and/or connect to the current home, but also how we would change and grow as members of a community. These questions took us many steps back from the addition, but began to show us how deeply important it is that we all share the same vision for our farm community, both visually in regard to how we use our space, and also as a guiding principle for how we live our lives.

Who are we as a community? And what do we want to become?
What is our mission?

These complex questions are not easily answered. So, we have compiled some other questions that will hopefully give us the tools and input to better address and guide our long term goals.

Below is a link to an online survey we put together. It asks six questions about the Lostview Farm community. This is where you come in. Whether you are a close friend, relative, friend-of-a-friend, or simply a reader of our blog, your perceptions, ideas and thoughts about Lostview Farm are key to our collaborative efforts.

The survey asks some big questions and some lighter ones. Please answer as few or as many questions as you would like (or have time for), in as little or as much detail as you want. It is completely anonymous and there is no time limit. We will all be completing the survey as well, and then will compile all of the responses for a discussion that will ideally lead to a Lostview Farm mission statement. We will continue to share progress with you on the blog and in person as we define our mission and move ahead.

You will find the survey at:

Thanks so much for your interest in and support for our community!
Chris, Becca, Charis, Jay