a sight for sore eyes, welcome spring

First the “Builder Bradfords,” then an errant fruit orchard or wild sand plum tree here and there along a creek, maybe a dogwood or two, certainly the magnolias… Now today the Redbuds, Forsythia, and Roses of Sharon are waking up. Slowly but surely our Oklahoma hills and forests are breaking dormancy and taking on the gentle blush of springtime. Daffodils, tulips, pansies, the earliest shoots of day-lilies and cool-season veggies, so many delicate splashes of color everywhere. The muted browns and grays of winter will soon be forgotten, and we don’t even care if half the flat green we see is from weeds.

Almost every year I forget how powerful the surge of new life is, how thrilling that first glimpse of a sprouted seed can be (I almost cried yesterday when my indoor marigold seeds had grown a centimeter in a few hours!) or how exciting it is when forgotten perennials reappear without my help. Science now proudly declares that skin contact with warm earth is good for us physically, too, that healthy soil contains depression-fighting microbes or some such? That, plus the undeniable deep bliss we get from the close-approaching sun this time of year… Friends, we are about to shed all those winter doldrums for good. Or at least for a good long while. Hang in there, okay?

forsythia

Electric yellow forsythia blooming at the Will Rogers garden in Oklahoma City.

 

white magnolia

White magnolia tree blooming, tall and elegant, at the Will Rogers garden in Oklahoma City.

 

Whether you’re an avid and experienced gardener or you just crave to grow a thing or seven, dive in. Dive in now, with both feet wearing flip flops and both hands, un-gloved, fingernails ready to scrape up some dirt. Do not waste time changing clothes or making a fancy list and plan; just start. Ignore your housework for an hour. This is the perfect time. Seize the sun and all his energy. Use whatever quarters and dollar bills you can find under the couch cushions and go buy the first seeds you find (lettuce and spinach are excellent things to start in March). Scratch up some soil. Plant those tiny babies. Tuck them in lovingly, with exactly the same native soil as you just scratched up. Water them gently.

Know that you have just become part of a miracle. Savor that idea.

My gosh. It’s only seeds, right? It’s only food that we eat all the time anyway, cheap and easy enough to buy at the grocery store, ready for dinner. But it’s actually the biggest miracle ever. It’s new life, the stuff of energy and motion and health, all from this tiny, inconspicuous fleck of brown that when touched by the right elements at the right time are brought into the fullness of all those promises imprinted by the Maker. He said this will become lettuce, and this kale, and this spinach. He said so, and it always happens that way.

Do you know what else He said? He said, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

How truly stunning, that while gardening we have this opportunity to participate in so many little (but huge!) miracles. How amazing to see His plan worked out over and over again, so many promises fulfilled that at first we are shocked by it all; then eventually we are so surrounded by lushness that maybe we take it for granted.

Of course, the biggest, strongest, most long lasting treasures, like maybe oak trees? They take a lot longer to grow. You really have to be willing to wait. I have to remind myself of this when I ache for the biggest prayers to be answered. It will be worth the wait. It will be strong and beautiful when it finally happens. These words echo in my ribs and belly.

Life is so beautiful, friends. Winter is hard and sometimes ugly, and it’s dangerous and it breaks our spirits a little. But springtime always, always, without exception, returns. The sun warms us. The earth thaws and breaks open with abundance. Color and texture explode, sometimes to feed us and other times just to delight our senses.

tulip

The Will Rogers gardens in Oklahoma City are filled with tulips right now! Go see if you’re local. They are just beautiful.

God loves you. He loves you so much and He wants your prayers to be answered. He wants you to live a happy, peaceful, successful, fulfilling life. There are hidden meanings to the wintry seasons we all endure, but they are only seasons. And He works it all out. Then He comforts us with seeds and sprouts and new life. (And we get veggies! And tulips!)

Are you interested in some slightly more practical gardening ideas this year? Something beyond “find spare change and throw down the first seeds you find?” haha Please stay tuned. I have lots of fun ideas for us. In the mean time, stay hopeful. Keep planting seeds. Keep trusting. And enjoy the slow parade of color. It’s about to get out of control. As always, thanks so much for visiting.

“Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist,
but where there is suffering you will find grace
in many facets and colors.”
~William Paul Young, The Shack
XOXOXOXO

 

use what you have slaw

I have been on a kick lately of trying to cook strictly with whatever we have on hand, and it has been fun. This is exactly the opposite of how I normally feed us here at the farm, which is to write a big exciting menu and shop for the needed ingredients once per week plus however often we need “little” supplies in between. It’s not that we aren’t pursuing our favorite foods; we are just spacing them out a little. And I am loving the challenge of assembling meals we will (hopefully) love with exactly what we already have, no quick trips to the store. Those add up, you know? And beyond that, we actually get tired of eating the same meals we always crave, over and over. This new method conserves resources and provides some variety. I dig it. Plus, when I finally do go shopping again, it’s so fun to restock a sparkling clean, nearly empty fridge and pantry. I love that abundant, orderly feeling.

Well, today I cleaned out the fridge and saw that for the first time in a long time we were out of all salad materials. Not a single leaf of kale or lettuce to be found. I very nearly drove to town to grab something green, because is it even possible to eat dinner sans salad? But after a mild panic attack I decided to stay the course. It’s kind of a game now to see how many days we can eat well without refreshing our grocery supply, and figuring out an alternative to salad was a fun challenge.

This is what I came up with, and it was delicious! I think my girlfriends especially would love it. See what you think, and of course think up ingredients substitutions of your own!

I love how unlocked my brain feels now. All the slaw things are possible!!

Use What You Have Slaw

Ingredients:
most of a small head of green cabbage
2 medium tart apples
1 large sweet apple
several splashed lemon juice
one glug extra virgin olive oil
minced garlic, 2 or 3 cloves
salt & pepper

Quick & Easy
slice the cabbage thinly in two directions (discard core), then into bite sized lengths
core the apples and cut them into matchsticks (keep the peel!)
add salt, minced garlic, and lemon juice
let all of that marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours
drizzle with olive oil and add pepper
toss well and enjoy!

use what you have apple slaw

use what you have apple slaw

Honestly you guys, this is really good. Better than it should be considering how easy it is to make. I like that it’s both sweet and tart, crunchy and tender, just a tiny bit oily, and as salty as you want. Being perfectly raw, it’s a great alternative to salad, too. Speaking of raw, the minced garlic left raw is delicious! I love most cole slaw recipes, but to me this is more enjoyable because you’re not swallowing a ton of creamy dressing or anything.

What would make it better? Maybe, poppy seeds? Yep. Slivered almonds? Also, maybe apple cider vinegar? Perhaps. But the raw apples and lemon juice were great all by themselves. In my opinion.

I hope you try it and like it. Now tell me about something you’ve made from a foraging trip in your own kitchen!

waste not, want not
XOXOXOXO

 

 

 

marathon monday: go 19.5 miles with me

Welcome to what may be the most stream-of-conscious running post I’ve ever written. Really glad you’re here! I hope you don’t regret this.

I woke up this morning physically and mentally prepped, truly eager for my scheduled 19 mile run. Really excited. After Handsome drove off to do some serious office battle, I fed all the animals, tidied up the house, and basically did stuff I knew I wouldn’t have energy for later in the day. I started an extra load of laundry then immediately regretted it, knowing that by afternoon I would not feel like getting it in the dryer and subsequently folding it all. Oh well. Goodbye clothes and towels.

Then I ate more breakfast than I normally do and just… laid down. On the front sidewalk. Because by 10 am the sun was so warm and buttery that I just couldn’t resist. Then Mia the gander cam and sat with me, because he just couldn’t resist. He waddled from my bony shins, up to my knees, then to my more comfortable thighs, then he settled on my belly. He just sat there forever, honking softly. I loved every minute of it, until out of the blue he loosed about a quart of hot goose poop onto my favorite red t-shirt. Not my favorite t-shirt; that’s black with Mr. T on the front. Just my favorite red t-shirt.

19 mia

So I scolded him, dismissed him harshly, and hurried inside to soak my goose-pooped-upon clothes in cold water and soap. At that point there was not much point in continuing to delay the inevitable run, so I changed into my outfit. When did I lose interest in this run? I asked myself. Somewhere between animal chores when we noticed all the garden work we could be doing on such a gorgeous day. I answered myself.

Anyway.

At the golf course where I chose to run today, there were some gardeners trimming back crepe myrtle trees along the fashion of “Crepe Murder.” You know what I’m talking about. That horrible chopped off, top heavy weird way that leaves no leaves? Or natural shape? I wondered who should be notified. I gave them tsk-tsk looks and kept running.

Geese were everywhere. I can’t get away from geese! What the heck. I did lots of goose dodging, and somehow all of the neighborhood smelled like cow manure. That’s a thinker. Also so many squirrels.

Energy coursing strong through my body, I felt really great. Until.

Until around mile 7, when I panicked mildly because the soles of my feet were on fire. Like molten lava hot. A problem with my new shoes maybe? I came very close to throwing in the towel for the day because I remembered last year Handsome telling me about this guy who ran a marathon and the bloodied soles of his fell off. THEY FELL OFF. What the farfegnugen.

But I literally prayed to God, please will you let me keep the soles of my feet if I keep going? And I instantly thought of that Sally Fields-Phil Hartman skit on old SNL episode where she mocks overly detailed prayers like please don’t let the mashed potatoes be lumpy and the like. I hoped against hope that my prayer was acceptable, that the soles of my feet might be more important to God than mashed potatoes and their smoothness, then I remembered that just thinking about how hot and painful my feet were was probably making it worse. So I shuffled my music a little and consciously started a brand new train of thought.

My gosh there are so many geese here!

By mile 9 I had forgotten about my feet completely, and they felt better, and I know this because when I stopped for water I checked a blister on my ankle and realized that was my only foot complaint. Cool. Thanks, God. You are the bomb.

He does not mind me saying that, I say it all the time. And He keeps on answering prayers, not the least of which have to do with running. Because God is cool like that.

There is a scattering of soccer fields in the middle of this city block situation around which my running path wraps, and every time I stop to visit the ladies’ room I pass this goal post and have to work really hard against the urge to climb up there and do some penny drops because when I was nine that the pinnacle of my life accomplishments so far, until I bore witness to my sister’s birth.

That was a crazy long sentence. Here is the tempting goal post.

19 goal

Backtracking a little. I ran the three mile track first counter-clockwise, then clockwise, a true loop, but somehow (and I do not comprehend this whatsoever) the clockwise route was infinitely more difficult. Like uphill all the way, even though I know for sure the other direction boasts several little hills. Is that even possible? Help me understand this, super smart friends. It’s like the old, “back in my day I walked uphill to school both ways” thing, and I just. don’t. get it. But it drove me so crazy that for the remainder of the day I ran only counter-clockwise. My favorite direction anyway.

Problem (un) solved.

On the back end of the track is a semi-wooded creek area that is just lovely. Below is a photo. This year the creek is actually flowing with clear water, which is so nice, yay for rain! Scenes like this always remind of of the Bridge to Terebithia. Such a beautiful story, but so sad! Really sad. I started thinking about this and was boo-hoo crying out loud as I ran, possibly owing in part to the Peter Gabriel playing my trusty new earbuds, but anyway running and crying out loud in public is not cool. You know what, never-mind. I hate little creeks like this.

19 creek

Have you ever noticed that people walking large dogs are generally very attentive, but people walking tiny dogs act like they just cannot be bothered with other people? Or leashes? Barring the boxer incident from last year, I tend to have much better luck encountering large dogs in public. Today all the chihuahuas and weenie dogs in the world seemed to be on my side of the sidewalk. And none of them were not interested in my ankles.

Something weird and wonderful happens on long runs, once you’ve firmly rededicated yourself: the first few miles are the hardest, ironically, then around the halfway point your body gets this light, buoyant, powerful feeling and maybe (if you’re like me) everything is funny. It feels not entirely unlike laughing gas. That’s a little weird to admit, but anyway today around miles 15 I experienced it. And it was a nice reprieve from crying about the Bridge to Terebithia.

Right after that moment of levity I stopped at my Jeep for water, which was both dwindling at this point and quite warm. But I didn’t care. Glug glug glug.

Then two miles later I was still so thirsty that a half empty gallon jug of water on the sidewalk tempted me. It was lidded, but crumpled, and as I said only half full, but still I wondered… How clean is it? Clean enough? I was so thirsty. The sweat on my technical fabric tank had dried into salty little rivulets. And salt was crusted on my breastbone and around my ears. I passed on the jug of water, but just barely.

It’s a lot of fun on long runs like this to repeatedly pass the same people going in the opposite direction. You only barely nod to each other, but it’s a nice, simple encouragement to keep going. Now… passing people going in the same direction? That’s even better. But totally selfish. Probably not that encouraging to the other runner.

19 track

At the end of the final lap i just jogged and walked back and forth for about half a mile then stretched. The amount of energy still in my legs was so surprising! It felt awesome. Thrilling. But holy smokes was I thirsty.

Aren’t these daffodils pretty?

19 daffs

Stopping at a nearby On Cue on the way back to the farm, I didn’t quite get my Jeep’s emergency brake in place, and some motorcycle cops next to me started yelling, “You’re rolling, you’re rolling!” I was super embarrassed.

Handsome and I arrived back at the farm within about ten minutes of each other, him exhausted from a crazy Monday and me just out of the shower (I had lots of dried sweat to scrub off). This knight in shining armor offered to go buy us a quick dinner instead of me grilling chicken outside as I’d planned. Yes please! I ordered my favorite southwest grilled chicken salad from McDonald’s AND a chicken sandwich on the side. Back at home I ate the sandwich first, forgetting I had the big salad too. When I saw it sitting there I was so happy I almost started crying. Nineteen-plus miles makes you hungry.

As I sit here the wet laundry is still in the dryer. Handsome and I will nibble some popcorn and watch a movie then call it a day. An awesome day, all told.

I still have two feet soles. In tact. And now I know I am ready for the April race.

Whew!

XOXOXOXO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

friday 5 at the farm: connections

Happy happy happy Friday!! Oh man. What a Friday it has been around here, too. What a WEEK it has been!

As if being the first day of Spring AND a New Moon wasn’t enough, today we are enjoying this fantastic upswing in energy just at the end of some very hard working, emotional days and then a short but vicious sickness. All better now. Lots of good energy flowing now. So yeah, celebrating this particular Friday is awesome. Handsome and I feel accomplished, happy, loved, motivated, and hopeful about so many important things.

Despite the busy-ness of this past week, I realized this afternoon that it has been a great tiny little season of connection. And I’m so grateful for this. People are important, you know? Too often I stay too busy to put people first. Certainly I would like to have seen even more lovely faces, but I am choosing to count my blessings. These people enriched my world this week in ways that are becomeing more and more clear to me.

So for Friday 5 at the Farm, how about just a short list and a few photos?

Friday 5 at the  Farm: Connections

Jocelyn: She is no longer here at the farm, but we have been connecting nonetheless. Facetiming, texting, Facebooking, and snap-chatting like fiends. And I love it. Do you know how fun and silly snap-chat is? Well, I am 41 years old and I am telling you it’s more fun than you’d think. You don’t have to take selfies, but you can, and the caption element is hysterical, especially when you’re dealing with a fun loving, witty nineteen year old girl. She sends the most well planned line of photos with serial captions, and I just laugh and laugh! LOL Mostly it’s wonderful seeing her face in random moments throughout the day. Seeing her happy is the best, and it really helps me feel her close. I hope the same is true for her. Below is a “snap” I sent to her this morning.

connections me

Marci: Marci is probably my best friend, hopefully for a lifetime. We haven’t known each other the longest, and we both stay too busy to see each other even weekly these days, but that’s okay. We relate to each other on such a deep and supportive level that sporadic, meaningful conversations are often exactly what what we need. And that’s what I got today, out of the blue. She is a mother whose heart I admire more than she’ll ever really know, and her words of wisdom to me in our new season of parenthood, well, they are priceless. She made me cry today in the happiest way. I lover her even though she’s not a hugger.

marci

Halee: Halee is my sister-in-law who lives in California. She is also a dear dear friend of mine and has been for as long as she and my little brother have known each other. Halee and I had been playing text-tag for about two weeks, and finally today she caught up with me while I was running. She endured my weird heavy breathing so we could chat, and I was so refreshed at the end of our call that I ran faster than ever. She’s awesome. I can always count on her for a laugh, a bullet pointed conversation (if you know Halee you know what I’m talking about), and a bright cloud of happy, encouraging words, no matter what is going on! Speaking of things going on, she’s got plenty of her own troubles in life, but Halee is one of the most determined positive thinkers I know. Send her some rays of sunshine, ok? Because she’s constantly giving hers away.

Heather: Heather is a friend I have made through Facebook, sort of, although I have been friends in 3-D with her sister Tracy and her daughter Mysti for years. (Tracy and Mysti are in my book club too, woohoo!) Heather and I have an uncanny amount of things in common, and finally this week we found a mutual blank spot on our calendars and made a farm visit happen. She drove all the way out here to buy eggs and meet the animals for the first time, and she took a bunch of beautiful photos too. Below is just a phone snapshot I took of her. We have plans for her to come photograph things again once the proper greening up has happened. Heather is so sweet and fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed her company.

connections heather

Mari: Mari is a fellow Oklahoma blogger whom I have only actually met in 3-D maybe three other times? Yet we’ve become pretty well acquainted online, as is the glorious nature of blogging. And I just love her! She is so smart and dry and easy. Really lovely. Today, again the official reason being fresh egg purchasing, she brought her two darling offspring as well as her friend and her friend’s granddaughter to the farm. They didn’t get to stay long, but we had the nicest conversations. The kids played with the animals and ran the back field and climbed trees and raced around the pond. The three of us women commiserated and had a pseuo-urban-flair dance party with Pacino. It was awesome. I truly can’t wait for them all to come back. Happy birthday to Mari’s son Spencer, by the way! On Sunday he enters the rough and tumble world of Teenager Land. And he’s gonna rule it.

connections kids pacino

 

How wonderful that despite a crunched calendar, some happy but still emotional family changes, a bout of sickness, and all the normal crazy pie filling that is farm life and marathon training, the universe blessed my week with these five happy connections. I am super duper grateful. And my soul is full. Ready to be spilled out again.

I’ll say it once more, if only to remind my task-oriented and slightly reclusive self, that people are the most important thing. Connections matter.They make all the work worthwhile. Amen.

What connections delighted you this week? Who has made your busy days sweeter and more fulfilling? Did you buy any fresh eggs or snap-chat anyone young and cool?

Turn Down for WHAT!
XOXOXOXO

P.S. Speaking of connections, below is Geoffrey our only male barn cat. He is such a lover. He has been Jeep-napping all week, and when Fancy Louise is outside he has been watching over her. Fancy Louise is that cuddly little hen who is in temporary convalescence, and she definitely appreciates Geoffrey’s time and affection. I can assure you this is platonic and safe. He has neither romantic nor carnivorous leanings toward our chickens. Geoffrey is a good boy.

connections geoffrey jeep

connections fancy louise

dreams come true

When I was pregnant with her, I was only a couple of years older than she is today. That is a weird thought process all by itself. Month by month I dreamed of her face, sight unseen, and fell in love with her and all of her carefree somersaults and even my widening belly. She consumed my thoughts then, just as she does today. I was blessed with a truly healthy, happy, comfortable pregnancy, something I didn’t fully appreciate at the time.

I was in such a hurry to meet her that my doctor had no trouble convincing me to induce labor around our actual due date. He suggested it not for any particular medical reason; it just seemed to be a fad at the time. A practice of convenience. We both were healthy and she was full weight and well developed. He scheduled it, I prepared for it, and she was born without incident after a really easy labor. Still healthy and happy, and yet again I didn’t fully appreciate these blessings.

joc newborn me

joc studio newborn pic

 

When she was finally born on a bright and cool afternoon in September, I was not at all surprised to see her wide ebony eyes, her tiny rosebud mouth, her profile, her perfect olive skin. Everything about her was exactly as I had seen in those sleeping dreams. She was a beautiful baby then, just as she is beautiful young woman now. I am still so grateful for those dreams that showed me her face ahead of time. She was imprinted on my heart in a million silent, priceless ways.

Looking back, so many parts of me wish I had allowed her birth to happen naturally, to experience unmedicated labor pains and the thrilling surprise, the curious timing of the miracle of life.

I wish I had let her arrive in her own way, at her own time.

 

baby joc

Then this precious girl was gone for a while, for too many years, for reasons we are just beginning to fully understand. But she was never removed from my heart. Not even for one minute.

For a second time in our life together as mother and daughter, I found myself literally dreaming of her when I couldn’t see her. When I couldn’t touch her, hear her voice, or smell her vanilla-shampooed hair. In her long, sad absence these past years, I would sleep roughly but often catch phantom glimpses of her face in my dreams. Those same ebony eyes, her same small rosebud mouth, that same perfect olive skin that just glows. In this new set of dreams, instead of appearing as the infant I’d not yet held, she was appearing as her grown self or sometimes as a ten year old version of herself, whispering to me the secret that she was soon coming home. She was not just happy in these prophecied moments; she was giddy. Effervescent with joy. I would try so hard to stay asleep and whisper back to her all my love and longing, to cling to those stolen moments. But every time of course I’d wake up to the raw reality that she was still gone.

I Saw You Last Night

My baby in kindergarten. I remember thinking then how grown up she was.

My baby in kindergarten. I remember thinking then how grown up she was.

Do you know how wonderful God is? How far-reaching His Love is? He has seen into my heart all these nineteen years, the regret I have harbored over planning her birth and missing out on the dazzling unknown of His design. He took her away from me for a while only to bring her home, in surprising and unpredictable ways. During her absence He showed me when to push and when to rest; He taught me how to breathe deeply and fruitfully and when to wait. He showed me through those waiting years how constant and powerful Love is. He forced me (kicking and screaming at first) into a place of trust and kept me there until I wanted to trust, until that was my genuine and natural position. In time I became both vulnerable and strong.

It turns out He was working this complex miracle in her as well.

(Have you followed my discipline with the Worry Door?)

worry prayers graphic

 

Then one day she finally arrived (again). Quite out of the blue, in the surprising, thrilling, somewhat terrifying way she might have been born the first time had I allowed it to happen naturally. One day this past September (almost exactly nineteen years since her first birth) I got the overwhelming phone call that was very much like a rebirth. She was free, and she was coming home.

She showed her pretty face for the second time in my life, exactly as I had been dreaming of her while she was away.

 

joc

insterstellar quote with joc dusty photo

joc happy farewell

 

This strong, beautiful girl has possessed a slice of my heart and soul for almost twenty years now, and that will never change. This is just the beginning. I am once more living every promise of motherhood and every hope. We are seeing that not only is time elastic; Love is sovereign.

 

joc dusty

 

It’s mid-March now. Six months after her rebirth when she finally arrived in her own way, at her own time. She is peeling away from me and pressing close again, over and over, this time in the best possible, most natural ways. Finding her own legs and learning to walk (again). Squeezing me tight and boring into my eyes with hers (again). Letting me feed her mightily because it satisfies us both (again).

Making me proud beyond description. Always.

Thank you, friends, for every single prayer and every positive thought and word of encouragement you’ve offered, especially when you didn’t really know what was happening. She amazes us daily. She is on a good, strong path today, chasing her own joy and pursuing her own dreams, just exactly like a nineteen year old girl should do. And because of this she continues to benefit from prayer and Loving energy, so please keep it up.

Love is so real. Prayer absolutely changes things. And natural processes best. Don’t force it.

Fear knocked at the door.
Faith answered.
And lo, no one was there.
~Author Unknown
XOXOXOXO

 

 

 

no chance of ice

Between farm chores today I lingered in the barn a long time, just listening to the soft, constant rain tickling the metal roof. It was so gentle and lulling, like the most delicious white-noise symphony you’ve ever heard. I could have laid on that big fresh hay bale and napped. Like the cats were doing.

The rain is such a gift, you know? Even as Oklahoma continues to recover from the scarring droughts of recent years, we still celebrate every shower. But today’s shower brought me a deeper joy than usual. A deeper assurance.

It occurred to me that just a few days ago, when it was still sixteen degrees outside, all this moisture would have been falling as ice, or at least as snow. And we’d be buried again in the stuff of winter that slows us down and makes me worry about the animals and not drive anywhere. But now, with the warmer temperatures gracing our region, the moisture is only just that: Moisture. Rain. Deeply drenching water for the earth. With none of the dangerous conditions that accompany snow and ice.

We can’t control the rain, of course, or the air temperatures; both are inevitable and somewhat unpredictable. So how many weeks in winter do we spend fretting over the ice, worrying about it because we know we’re at risk? Plenty. (Sometimes we are simply exposed. Or sometimes we choose to be. We neglect what we know will protect us.)

But today I just enjoyed the rain. I had no fear of ice. I knew (because I knew the nature of water and when it freezes) that today no ice would coat the roads where my husband and daughter drive. No ice would freeze the bellies of our animals. No ice would down any power lines to the house. Just rain. I knew I could safely trust and relax.

Then it hit me in the most amazing way: I could safely trust and relax.

Just as precipitation is far beyond my control, life changes are too. Big things are happening all around me quite without my permission, but they are definitely happening. The big headline, though, is that they are not happening in a cold, barren space. These life events are happening in the midst of Love and under the warm blanket of prayer. It may rain, but it will not freeze.

So, ice? I have no fear of it. Failure or destruction? It’s not even possible because Love won’t allow it. Faith prevents it.

It’s been raining since sunrise here, and now at almost 9 pm, with the sun finally dark, it is raining still. No chance of freeze, though, so there is nothing to fear.

We will sleep soundly with the rain.

No worrying, mama.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:
because fear hath torment.
He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
~I John 4:18
XOXOXOXO

marathon monday: the hallelujah chorus

Happy Monday!! Happy Marathon Monday to those among us training for April. Today we begin week 12 according to Hal Higdon, and I am ecstatic. Why? Not only because we are now two-thirds of the way through the whole shebang, but also for the following three fabulous reasons. I am basically singing the Hallelujah chorus!

Hallelujah #1: Oklahoma has finally broken loose from wintertime. It’s true. After so many months of ice and snow and sub-freezing air, last week we endured the final days of yuck. Since Thursday afternoon we’ve been enjoying warm, blue skies, and I could not be happier. Sure, there may still be a frosty morning here and there, but nothing that should impact running. The next six weeks should boast reliable weather for all sorts of outdoor activity, and this is magical.

Hallelujah #2: On Friday I logged my first 17 mile run of the season, and it felt GREAT. Not okay, not endurable, not pretty good. It felt really amazing. My pace was decent and I wasn’t sucking air at all; nor did I need more than two quick water breaks. This is wonderful news, because last year when Carrie and I first ran twice around Lake Hefner, I had homicidal thoughts and ended the day in a fetal position. It was pretty miserable. But this time after running (at a different track though) I immediately went grocery shopping, drove home to do some laundry and easy animal chores, then showered and went out on the town with my daughter and her boyfriend. My energy was through the roof! Also, I haven’t been sore at all this weekend. Super encouraging. I’m already looking forward to the Friday after next when I get to grab 19, and all of this convinces me that a certain very special Sunday in April will be magical.

Hallelujah #3: New shoes!! Also on Friday, after that long run, Handsome and our oldest conspired to get me out of the house while the farm filled up with friends and decorations for a little surprise birthday party (I’m 41 now, woohoo!!). While out on the town (see above), I tried on a bunch of different colorful running shoes and finally settled on a pair of dark gray Sauconys with hot pink edges. Bonus: They were on sale! The laces are highly elasticized, and this makes me weirdly happy. The shoes feel like really tight, bouncy marshmallows on my feet. I wore them to run three recovery miles Saturday morning and it was delightful, even though I do need to tighten up the toes area a little. My good ol’ reliable (but really worn out) Brooks didn’t even pout; they just sat back in the corner, getting caught up on reading, asking the parrot to make lots of fresh coffee, which he did without complaint. Having new shoes for the last leg of marathon training is magical. Thanks babe!!

I was so happy to feel the sun on my arms and actually see my shadow!

I was so happy to feel the sun on my arms and actually see my shadow!

So much magic, right? So many reasons to sing the Hallelujah chorus. Running in the sunshine without a million layers of warm clothes, not slipping downhill on ice, knowing I have plenty of time to break in my super cute new shoes before the race, and most of all… Feeling strong and brimming with energy for those deeply excavating runs. The meditative ones. All of it is just blissful. I am a very happy (but slightly older) girl eager to get outside for more.

Are you training for a race this spring? How’s it going? What shoes do you love best?

Happy Monday!!
XOXOXOXO

 

 

friday 5 at the farm: parrot life

Bobby Pacino, our blue and gold macaw, will be ten years old this spring. He was hatched somewhere in the United States and sold to us at a pet store in Oklahoma City when he was just a pup. Err, baby? Kitten? Chick. When he was just a chick. A small, quiet one.

The first few days he was home with us were a lot like having a newborn infant, especially with regard to feeding and bonding. It was actually a very sweet time.

Then the next solid, unrelenting decade was a lot like having a dysfunctional toddler, especially with regard to, well, pretty much everything. A loud, messy, screaming, demanding, attention seeking, affectionate and VERY smart, un-CANNILY smart, but also disruptive and destructive, toddler. It’s been a whirlwind. A loving whirlwind.

Surely I’ve acquainted you with him here and there on this blog, right?  I know I post photos of him to Instagram from time to time. Visitors to the dirt-and-hooves Lazy W cannot miss him. Pacino demands to not only meet but interact with everyone who enters the house or the yard, if it’s pretty weather and he’s outside in his big cage. Lots of our friends have become close with Pacino. Some are afraid of him. Others delight in ruffling his feathers. You know who you are. Pacino is a farm-ily member, and he is here to stay.

Yesterday I was reminded in myriad ways how different daily life can be when you live with a mature parrot. And friends, I use the word mature so loosely here I probably shouldn’t use it at all. But he is more or less of age; his personality is well formed; and he is vibrantly healthy and has full command of all his parrot faculties. He is a full time kinda guy. The thing is, he has spring fever or cabin fever or both, and this week he’s been telling me so.

pac 1

pac 2

pac 3

pac 4

“Hi, Mama. Gimme gimmee Kiiiiissss.”

 

So this installment of Friday 5 at the Farm is a cautionary tale for anyone who sees a parrot and thinks, “Oh how beautiful! He is magnificent! I wish IIIIIIII had a parrot!” Buyer beware, okay?

Five Things You Can’t Do When You Live With a Parrot

1. Talk on the phone. Pacino cannot stand to bear witness to what he perceives as a one-sided conversation. If he hears me talking, he naturally assumes I am talking to him. We are most of the time alone at the house together, after all. And if that phone conversation is filled with laughter, well, all the better. He joins in merrily and competes not quietly. The more I try to assert myself the worse it gets, and it seems I will never learn. So I rarely talk on the phone at all. I’ll chat with my best friend and my sister in law, like maybe once a month. Otherwise it’s just easier to text, seriously. The talking is just not worth the noise and drama on this end.

2. Watch yoga videos. Pacino especially likes female voices, and since most yoga videos are hosted by women I think that’s why he gets so riled up. But I literally have to sneak off to the furthest reaches of this house and close every door between us and play the video at low volume if I want any chance of watching and stretching in peace. Otherwise he screams and cries and attempts to opera sing at max volume the entire time. He wants to know this pretty yogi so much!! Not very Zen, you know? It really messes with my chakras and whatnot.

3. Eat anything all by yourself, especially things wrapped in cellophane. This is completely our fault, of course, because we have conditioned Pacino to accept all sorts of treats from us. But he now fully expects to share in any and all food that comes out of the kitchen, and it’s a problem.

4. Sweep the floor. This is ironic because Pacino’s indoor perch and his seed-scattering habits are the main reason we have to sweep the floor so many times per day. But he hates it. A lot. And he lets us know.

5. Kiss your husband. Birds are among the most territorial creatures I have ever encountered, and that is saying plenty. This glossy little blue Casanova is as jealous and needy as they come, so if Handsome and I feel like smooching, we have to do so at a safe distance or just accept the screaming and violent beak lunging that will inevitably follow.

********************

There. If you can cope with these five lifestyle changes then you are one half step closer to maybe considering you might possibly be ready for parrot ownership.

And let’s clear that up while we’re at it, too: You don’t own your parrot. Your parrot owns YOU. That’s the way it works, man. No getting out of that. But if you love each other it’s totally worth it.

Happy Friday!! I am signing off to go grab my first 18 mile run of this season. Very excited. See you soon for talk of translating literature and pregnancy metaphors and freezer cooking ideas. Have the best Friday ever, ok?

“Hi! Are ya Happy?”
~Bobby Pacino
xoxoxoxo

lazy w pumpkin bread

Okay, to be fair, calling this “Lazy W Pumpkin Bread” is a bit of a cheat, for a couple of reasons. First, our little tribe has been enjoying this recipe for many years, since the girls were in Kindergarten and preschool, long before we lived at the farm and identified ourselves as “The Lazy W.” More importantly, this is just an easy variation on another classic from Martha Stewart’s 1995 turquoise cook book. Totally her recipe, made simple for us.

Anyway, it’s a keeper, simple to throw together, and totally open to variations. I hope you try it. Everyone I share it with seems to really love it!

pumpkin bread PLATED

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
3 Tablespoons molasses (if I am out I just use really good maple syrup)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2/3 cup orange juice
1 can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling, that’s totally different)
3 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Extras, totally optional: chocolate chips, chopped nuts, flaked coconut, raisins, pumpkin seeds…

pumpkin bread raw

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare either cupcake tins or loaf pans. I like to butter my loaf pans a little bit then sprinkle them with both flour and cinnamon. Shake out the extra.

With an electric mixer, cream together the room temperature butter, the sugar, and the molasses (or syrup). Beat in the eggs one at a time until the whole mixture is brightly colored and smooth. Now with a wooden spoon stir in the orange juice and pumpkin puree. 

Sift together the dry ingredients, including spices, and add this gradually to the pumpkin mixture. Mix by hand really well then add whatever fancy additions you crave. Handsome likes it plain or with chocolate chips. Jocelyn and I like it with chopped nuts (pecans are great) and flaked raw coconut. I think it would be fantastic with pumpkin seeds on top, too, though we haven’t tried that yet. Seems like a classy Starbuck’s move, right? Also, I have to be really honest here and say that no one at the W votes for raisins. But that is a legitimate option, so I included it. (eww)

Spoon the mixture into loaf pans or cupcake tins, maybe no more than 2/3 full either way, and bake at 350 degrees for between 20 minutes and 1 hour, depending on the thickness of your pan. I know that is a crazy wide margin, but it just depends. Muffins cook quickly; deep bread loaves do not. No worries; you’ll smell the heavenly aroma just before baking time is finished. The outer crust will harden, crack, and become darker. And when the bread is totally done its center will not be so wet (knife test).

pumpkin bread recipe

That’s it! Quick prep, no rise time like with yeasted breads, and fast clean up too. I like to think of this as a fairly healthy but still indulgent treat. It tastes great with coffee, milk, or orange juice. It is excellent fresh and hot and slathered with butter but also cold and three days out, packed in your lunch box. A pumpkin muffin topped with pecans and coconut is super energizing.

pumpkin bread PLATED

I highly recommend you try this recipe. And thank Martha, not me.

Over and out.

XOXOXOXO

 

 

 

trusting changes

Lots of life changes around here lately. Again. But I don’t want to talk about that exactly.

Today I came up for air just long enough to see that everyone around me is going through big changes right now too. Lots of them are happy changes; most people close to me are anticipating big, exciting life events, onward and upward type stuff. Brittany is packing and preparing for a solo trip to Paris. Nicole is expecting another baby. My nephew is turning eighteen. Stephanie is on her way to a much needed San Diego retreat to start her fresh new year of health and rebuilding. Tracy’s college career is just amazing to watch. Allison is a new bride whose heart is just overflowing with the most brilliant Love ever.

Among my friends there are some heavy and truly difficult gravity issues at work too, grieving left and right, and such is life, but both are trying. Whether happy or sad, significant changes test us. They boil up our stomach acids and tense up our muscles. They cause us to take too-shallow breaths and maniacally write lists of things to do. No matter how good and right the Big Event may be, for me sometimes the anticipation can be paralyzing.

One of these days I want to write to you about the pregnancy metaphor.

Anyway.

This life turbulence can be dangerously taxing if we look at it the wrong way, if we are worrying instead of taking courage. And what I’ve learned about worry is that it’s a waste, a huge mistake. Like sawing through sawdust, there’s no use in it but it is in fact dangerous. So if a Big Event is churning up a tide of energy beyond our control, let’s reject worry and instead harness that tide and put it to excellent use.

  • When you lie wake at night thinking about “It,” consciously stop yourself, very gently, and pray instead. Turn it over to God in excruciating detail. He already knows anyway; just choose silently in your deepest thoughts to give Him control. Ask for His help in ways you can scarcely fathom He might help. (Spoiler alert: He totally will.)
  • Give thanks for the opportunity, whatever it looks like. Give thanks for how well things are going so far and give thanks in advance for all the amazing outcomes you trust are coming. See? You’re already breathing better. So am I.
  • Discipline your imagination to only see the best possible results and surprises along the way (for there will be plenty). You have to do practical things to prepare for certain unknowns of course, but something else I have learned these past few years is that your imagination is a crazy powerful conductor! You can literally shape the future with your thoughts, so make them good. Make them amazing.
  • Then in the daylight hours when action is called for, act. Trust the inspiration granted you, invest in your own intuition, and do one thing at a time toward whatever is on the horizon. Even when it feels like everything is on your shoulders alone, it’s really not. You’re not nearly so alone as you feel sometimes. Just take a deep breath, do what you can to the best of your ability, then exhale, knowing that you’re only one element of the masterpiece being worked. Unseen progress is being made that you will see and celebrate at the right time.

you are not alone

So I pretty much wrote this to remind myself of the things I sometimes forget. But I hope it encourages you, too, for whatever Big Event is on your horizon. I’m sure there are plenty coming.

I trust, for myself and for you, that no matter how it feels in those weak or worried moments, the ultimate gift of life is Love. And Love is more powerful than anything. The weird way circumstances braid together do seem to be good for us, over and over again. We look back and see again that worry was a silly mistake. We were destined for happiness and celebration all along.

Take heart, you are not alone.
Love is so powerful.

XOXOXO