Thursday, January 31, 2008


These two are especially for Amy and Corrie:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What it is

These days finding just the right time and space to blog is like capturing a unicorn, which is frustrating in that writing has always been a huge part of who I am and how I best examine my thoughts and feelings. Because of this, there are often times I feel like a smaller percentage of myself. Other things fill the space - worthy things - but I know this is elemental in how I process, and it has been neglected for far too long.

Another reason why I haven't written as much lately is that I have often felt conflicted about just exactly what to write. We here at the farm have been going through what I would best describe as a major period of growth as a community, and this has included some conflict, some tension, some arguing, some reckoning and some mending. We have undertaken many monumental life events all at once, and the realities of what we're doing here - particularly as our families grow and our needs change - take their toll, especially when we allow ourselves to get disconnected from each other. Just as people don't usually grab the camera when their kids are throwing a tantrum, I don't always feel inclined to share with the world our struggles here. It's much easier to post pictures of Owain doing the darndest things and call it a day. But it isn't honest. We have differences in personalities and in the way we do things. We are a crazy blend of introversion and extroversion, and throw in a couple of spirited boys and you can bet that times can get pretty wild. It's kind of like getting married again. But to a few other people. Plus jobs take us away from what we really want to be doing and focus can be lost. Making friends while living rural means burning too many fossil fuels. Goals and ideals and dreams must be organized and reorganized on a regular basis. All of this plus the fact that nothing in this culture is set up for a two-family household accounts for a lifestyle that finds us swimming upstream much of the time, and that can get draining.

But here's the thing.

While in some ways it might be "easier" to just go back to living separately (the path of least resistance), none of us could imagine doing that now. In fact, it would feel harder to me. And lonelier. Honestly, if I think about it, even during times of conflict when I want to bolt, I know there's no place I'd rather be. Now that I've experienced the dynamics of our life here at Lostview - adjusting to the comfort of the chores that make up the fabric of my daily existence, knowing that there are a few more people in my life who I can say something really awful to and still feel sure of their love and care for me, and knowing that my roommates are not just roommates, but people who share my greater life priorities - well, that just feels huge to me. Learning to live together in this deep way is a necessary part of the journey.

There are some key times in my life that have felt like major cornerstones. Getting married to Jay, having Owain and forming this community all fall in to that category, and as I write I realize they all involve the giving of my self. And doing the very things that terrify me the most (if you want to see the true face of panic, throw a conflict-phobic in to a living situation with new people). This has not been an easy process for me: sometimes the pruning hurts. And being in relationship with people on this level has made me painfully aware of the things I don't like about who I am. But I'm growing here in ways I could never have imagined - in ways I most likely would not in any other situation - and that is profound.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Subzeroes (or: How to Stave Off the Crabola Virus When it's Too Stankin' Cold to Go Outside)

It's never too early to teach a youngster the fine art of guitar tuning, eh?

Who needs snake charming when you can charm toddlers? Fetch me my oud, pronto.

Getting ready for our trick riding act.
These boys have got to start pulling their weight around here somehow.

It's a very good day when you can get a couple of ankle biters to simultaneously wear little red plastic goggles AND pose for some snaps. I'm thinking I may try my luck in Vegas next. By the way, if you need any work done, let me know. These two craftsmen are just waiting to be a part of your next project. And they work for graham crackers!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cross Country

The cross country skiing has been so incredible at the farm this month. That load of snow we got in December crusted over beautifully, then another inch or so fell on top...perfect for sledding and skiing. And we've been doing a lot of both the past few weeks. The boys are pretty game for sledding, but would more often rather get out and bend down to lick the snow. Ellis loves getting a "snow beard"! Charis is even training Colby to drag the sled up the hill, which means the moms and dads save a little extra energy for dragging their own selves to and fro. The fluid act of skiing is such a savior on an otherwise cold January day. It's such a gift to step out our back door, click on the old skis and take off through the back yard into ours and our neighbors' fields for miles and miles. Now we just have to find some tiny skis for these boys!

Monday, January 07, 2008


I heard Michael Pollan interviewed on the radio recently. (Hearing NPR is a rarity these days because when talk is on the radio Owain points at the radio and yells "Ga! Ga! Ga!" until you put music on. I'm not complaining - it actually makes me proud.) The interview concerned a recent book Pollan published debunking conventional nutritional science. He said the best diet is to eat foods that 1) can and will rot, 2) you can pronounce, 3) your grandma would recognize, 4) do not have high fructose corn syrup and 5) do not have a label explaining their health benefits.

I made pasties last week - placed a pork roast in a crock pot with carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic and spices. I made dough pockets and filled them with the diced pot roast and veggies to create a Michigan Upper Pennisula-style calzone. They are excellent with ketchup and creamy horseradish. The main ingredients in ketchup: tomatoes and high fructose corn syrup. We have made ketchup in the past with our tomatoes. In fact think I should be making ketchup again and not use this high fructose corn syrup variety.

And there, my friends, is the problem.

I have these goals, ideals, values and dreams I want to live by. I have no time to complete them all. When am I to make ketchup?

My mind swims with current projects, summer projects , Owain, Charis, roommates, music, education and adolescents, food, garden, nature, health, wood and resources. What happens? I have no time to get any of it done. I do a little of each and not very well. I can not put any aside (I did let maple syruping go until next year, however.)

I do acknowledge (rather frequently with Charis in conversation) the irony that ten hours of my day are consumed with a job that is frustrating. How can you know and thus successfully teach students when you have 25 at a time for only 45 minutes?

I also acknowledge that I am extremely impatient and selfish, which is the rest of the problem.

I want to be making full use of the wood cook stove (heat, oven, stove, hot water), brewing better beer, stewing tomatoes and apple sauce to last into June, growing greenhouse lettuce in December, collecting fresh eggs all year, skidding logs, clearing the woods of popple/birch, creating stock piles of split dry wood, riding my bike, making great recipes with local food, enjoying time to be with Charis and Owain and time to practice my saxophone and write music and time to play with my roommates, looking in to alternative ways to generate electricity, purchasing and converting a diesel sedan that runs on bio-fuel, playing hacky-sack and ping-pong, plus reading a book or two.

Is this too much to ask?

Balance. Did not I already write about this?

I think I start by letting go. How, what, where, why?


On my carpool home today, Val mentioned her sister is having twins and the daycare only has room for one infant when she has to go back to work. All that I wrote previously crumbles like dry leaves in a fire. What a whiner I am. All these happy problems I have. I have Charis and Owain, health, shelter, food. So many people struggle daily for these basics and I am complaining about the seemingly extravagent.

Sometimes I think it would be so nice to order pizza, drink a Bud and sit in front of the T.V. after work. Why do I choose to live a life that is the opposite of this? Is there something I am missing? Or does everyone think about these things and become so overwhelmed that all they can do is sit down on the couch with that Budweiser?

I acknowledge how fortunate I am, but can not and will not sit still. Is this going to do harm? Are my actions really going to make a difference? Or better yet, what actions are truly going to make a difference? I know being with Charis and Owain first, but...