haunted farm (part 1)

The Lazy W is haunted is a few ways, mostly friendly.
But a few years ago we experienced something not so friendly
and defying explanations.

haunted farm lazy w oklahoma ghost story

My friend Heather takes the most amazing photos, and she has a particular eye for the sky. Mesmerizing. This crescent moon from a few day ago reminds me a lot of the moon on this night in question.

I cannot remember the exact month this happened, but in my memory the weather was cool but warming slowly. The sky was cloudy but dry. This all started late at night, maybe around ten.

For some reason neither of can remember now, Handsome and I were in a pretty big fight. The angriest words were long over and we had moved into that simmering heat and silence. It was a standoff, we both remember that, but we really have no idea why we were fighting. Looking back, there was just a vague, oppressive tension that hung over the house, and we had both succumbed to it.

He set up his angry, silent camp in the green room downstairs, where we normally watch movies together, cuddle, and sometimes even spend he night. I felt so hurt and angry that I did something fairly radical and went out to the hot tub by myself. That may not seem like such a big deal to you, but around here we rarely, if ever, do this. The hot tub is an annex to our bedroom, the place where we start our mornings together with coffee, and just generally a special place. But so is the green room! And I kinda remember he was watching a show we usually watch together. Not cool. That was his big silent statement. So mine was to walk through the house in a just towel and soak in our hot tub alone. Simmering in every way.

So I was outside in the scalding, frothy water, maybe thirty yards from the house, on the edge of the south lawn. I remember lots of moonlight and clouds. The heat was helping me relax, but whatever anger I’d patted down began to resurface when I looked up. I thought I saw my husband standing at the dining room door and staring at me through the window. You know that feeling when, even at a great distance, you sense eye contact? I felt that. And it made me even angrier. I wasn’t surprised that knowing I was in the hot tub alone made him angry and prompted him to come see for himself; that’s pretty much what I was going for. What made me so mad was that he continued to just stand there and stare at me for about five minutes, just looking. Not coming to talk to me, no apologies (for what I still have no idea), nothing. Not even a hand gesture or movement. Just standing behind the glass pane and staring.

Then I noticed the silhouette wasn’t exactly my husband’s. The standing, staring figure was significantly taller than the glass, while my husband might stand right below it, just barely. And the figure watching me had shoulders much wider than the glass, too. The glass is almost three feet wide. Finally, what hair of his I could see was shocking silver-white. Moppy. This was not my husband, but he continued to stare.

I was instantly alert and wanted to scream but had that paralytic, wide eyed rigidity. I sat there with steam rising in front of my face, returning the eerie stare coming at me from the house. Somehow I scrambled out of the hot tub, wrapped up in my towel, and decided to run to the house.

Looking back I cannot remember exactly when I stopped seeing the figure in the dining room window, or why I felt safer running toward it than away, but all I wanted to do was get closer to my husband, this man I was who was helping me maintain the adolescent silent treatment.

Once inside the house, everything seemed normal. The television was still on but Handsome said nothing to me. I assumed he was awake and therefore choosing to say nothing to me, so I renewed my pout and walked upstairs. Going to bed alone is about as unheard of as hot tub soaking alone, so I was really laying it on thick now.

Once dry and warm and snuggled in bed alone, I started thinking more about the weird vision and wondered what to make of it. I consciously dismissed it and drifted off to sleep. Sometime during the night, I felt my husband crawl into bed with me, warm and strong, and wrap himself around me. Or so I thought.

The next morning I woke up alone in our cold bed to the sound of him walking into our bedroom, not trying at all to be quiet. He showered and dressed for work then left without saying goodbye. I was stunned. It colored my entire day.

to be continued

a few thoughts for prospective beekeepers

Once in a while I cross paths with someone who is keenly interested in becoming a beekeeper.  The draw of fresh honey, the lure of well pollinated gardens, and just the romance of it all is more than enough to make people at least inquire about the craft. Lots of people, after visiting us at the State Fair beekeepers’ booth, start attending monthly club meetings.

Are you one of these sweet souls? Does any part of you want to know more about how to dive into this field? Today’s post is for you. Welcome!

pprospective beekeepers with sticker

As I type this, Oklahoma is forecasting a chilly Halloween weekend. That means true autumn is right around the corner, and winter will follow closely on her heels. And we all know that winter is prime time for planning. We plan our resolutions, our springtime vacations, our gardens, our reading lists. We might even plan how to lose some weight and reorganize the house. Well, winter is also prime time for planning your new apiary! It’s the springtime when things really start hopping, so learning and preparing now is ideal.

As a prospective beekeeper, in these cold months coming, you can…

  • Do some serious reading on what it takes to keep bees. (See my suggested book list below.)
  • Watch some You Tube videos posted by popular beekeepers. Tutorials abound! Our club president James likes a guy on You Tube who calls himself “The Fat Bee Man.” Here is a fun video to start you out.
  • Attend a couple of local beekeepers’ club meetings to get acquainted with like minded folks (or follow those groups on Facebook). Click right here for a list of Oklahoma clubs. I belong to the Frontier Association and consider these fine people my friends. I think all clubs would welcome guests for free.
  • Order your springtime NUCs and start acquiring your wooden ware and other necessary and fun supplies. The internet is always a great option, of course, but consult with local clubs for their favorite merchants, too. Support your neighbors when possible! Near the Lazy W here in Oklahoma is a great little place called Beekeeping Etc. phone (405) 600-7200 Website
  • Study your landscape and decide where the hives will be best located. I searched for a site with decent wind protection but no overhanging trees, full sun exposure, and good openness in both the east and west for the bees to enter and exit the hives freely. Also, I had an epiphany this year was able to place my hives inside the veggie garden. Double wonderful!
  • Prepare the site, assemble and paint your boxes, etc. You might want to build or place a low table or board-and-cinder block support so your hives are off the ground but not too high for you to reach.
  • Check with local ordinances as to whether or not you are allowed to keep bees.

I added that bit about local ordinances last for a reason. Most people are nervous about having honey bees in close proximity. Although honeybees are less likely to be aggressive than, say, wasps or bumble bees, and although true bee allergies are extremely rare, just mentioning backyard beekeeping will almost guarantee you a dramatic, anxious reaction from somebody. So most beekeepers like to say (as a total joke!) that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission. And do ask forgiveness while presenting your nervous neighbor with a jar of honey.

Again, this is a total joke. Please do check your local ordinances, ok? Okay. But the honey-gifting is a great idea. In April of 2013 when Oklahoma was lobbying to pass a honey sales act, hobbyist beekeepers presented jars of their molten treasure to local lawmakers and got wonderful response. Not only did the bill pass; I would bet that those folks also gained customers and friends. So plan to be generous when the time comes!

oklahoma raw local honey Kenuc

 

Okay. So you are all set to spend the next few cold months in the planning stages. Here are some books and websites that would be worth your time to read:

  • Beekeeping for Dummies My Dad gave me a copy of this and I reference it often! No matter how the title makes me feel.
  • The American Bee Journal This is both a print magazine and an excellent website. I think if you take certain classes locally a subscription to the periodical is included with your paid fee.
  • Bee Culture Also both a print magazine and a website favored among apiarists.
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Yes this is fiction, but it’s gorgeous and I highly recommend you read it just for the sheer poetry it conveys about beekeeping. My review can be found right here.)
  • The Beekeeper’s Bible by Richard Jones and Sharon Sweeney-Lynch. My friend Heather over at Last Day Ago recommends this. She says, “It is beautiful and leaves no stone unturned. Heavy and huge, color photos on every page.” I’m sold.
  • The Honey Bee, a Guide for Beekeepers by V.R. Vickery I like this book because it also offers lots of interesting history. Beekeeping is, after all, an ancient practice and one that has not changed much over recent centuries. How many fields of study can say that? We’re close to nature.
  • My great-grandfather’s apiary journal He was a pretty well known beekeeper in northeast Oklahoma back in the seventies and eighties, and I happen to have his handwritten diary. It’s full of information and ideas! Such a treasure. Now I realize you don’t have access to it, but I will occasionally post insights and updates from it here on my blog, so please always feel welcome to check in!

 beekeeping for dummies

 

Even with that reading under your belt, you probably have general questions. These are some things I wondered about around the time Maribeth (my beloved mentor) first got me thinking, “Hey you know what our farm needs? Bees!”

  • Is it dangerous? That’s just a matter of perspective. The dangers are tiny and far outweighed by the benefits.
  • How much will it cost up front? Ordering the actual bees will cost between $90-$120 per NUC (the start of a colony, including a queen). Then purchasing the woodenware and basic manual tools could cost you up to $200. From there, ongoing costs are pretty nominal. You will find that beekeeping friends are generous and thrifty, and compared to hobbies like gardening or car restoration, beekeeping is quite cheap. The only real ongoing expense is sugar. Ask my husband sometime how he feels about that.
  • How much time will I spend tending the bees? It seems like a few times per year you might spend the better part of a day, several days that season, doing pretty focused work with your hives. Mostly in the springtime and again at honey harvest, which is summer’s end into fall. But tending bees is not a daily or even weekly task like you would have with other animals; they do well on autopilot as long as they are healthy and well provided for. But you may find yourself frequently sitting near your bee hives, listening to the buzz, inhaling the perfume, and allowing them to lull you with their rhythm.
  • When will I harvest my first jar of honey? I fully expected to collect a ton of honey the first summer I had bees and was a little disappointed to have to wait. (Well, Handsome was really the one pouting.) But ideally if your hives grow and thrive, you can harvest honey from brand new NUCs the second summer you have them. (They arrive in the late spring weeks.)
  • What about bee population decline, how do I fit into that? This is certainly a global problem, but you keeping even just one or two hives of honeybees means you are part of the solution. And the honey community at large, particularly here in Oklahoma, is making great strides in understanding and overcoming obstacles.
  • What if my bees are Africanized or “killer” and then National Geographic wants to come tape shows about how awful and dangerous they are and maybe William Shatner wants to do a movie abut it for ScyFy? That is unlikely to happen if not impossible. But I applaud your imagination.
  • What if I get stung? “Plumbers get wet and beekeepers get stung.” ~Rick Schantz You will eventually, probably sooner than later, get stung. And it’s not that big of a deal. Consider it a rite of passage or a badge of honor and get some Benadryl if you must. You’ll be okay.
  • Where do I go with questions? You can text Maribeth like 24/7. Just kidding! She’s my mentor and I don’t really want to share her generosity. Foster a relationship with someone you like and acquire that person’s cell phone number. Also get comfortable with websites, forums, etc. You’ll be amazed at how easily you can find solid, comforting information. You can always contact me, and together I bet we can find the answers.
The Lazy W Honeymakers also love the color turquoise. They told me so.

The Lazy W Honeymakers also love the color turquoise. They told me so.

So much magic and history surround this art, so much science and possibility, that if you are even slightly interested you really owe it to yourself to dig a little. See if the spark can be fanned into a flame. And surely you already know how vital honeybees are to global ecology! Maybe you even owe it to the food chain to do your research and decide that you, too, are a beekeeper at heart.

My youngest holding Fred the Bee, about three years ago now.

My youngest holding Fred the Bee, about three years ago now.

Thanks very much for reading today! Obviously I have fallen deeply in love with the art, science, and community of beekeeping, and I am thoroughly enjoying the slow process of carrying on my Papa Joe’s family traditions. I hope you have found some things in this article that inspire you to at least look around and educate yourself more. Beekeeping is a beautiful, worthwhile endeavor and something we need more people to try.

farm rain ladder

Hugs from the Lazy W!

“Ask a room full of twenty beekeepers a question
and you’ll get at least twenty different answers.”
~James Tucker
XOXOXOXO

The Giver (book review)

Hello, Happy Wednesday! How about a little book review? It’s certainly been a while.

A couple of days ago I spent a few hours subbing in a seventh grade English class, and the work they were doing was Q & A for the short, sweet, impactful novel The Giver by Lois Lowry. I had forgotten to bring along my own book that day, and after my eyes got tired of crocheting this gray shawl you see the beginning of here, I decided to pick up the teacher’s hardback copy and read it for myself. It’s only 179 pages long and geared toward tweens, so I zipped right through it. (Normally I’m a studious and meditative, meaning pretty darn slow, reader.)

The Giver Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry plus a new crochet project by yours truly.

Friends, it’s a great book for several reasons. Fellow bibliophiles in my life have recommended this to me before, but it just kept falling off my radar. Do you ever think that certain books cross your path at just the right moment, maybe just when you need them most or right when you are perfectly receptive to the message, whether you realize it or not? Such is the case with The Giver. I may have read it nearly a decade later than everyone else; but it sank directly into my heart in the most wonderful ways. And I had the pleasure of tossing around reactions with about eighty students, hearing what they thought and seeing the joy of reading in their faces. Jackpot.

The Giver is part fantasy and part a telling of very simple, relatable human nature. It’s a unique coming of age story that explores societal functions in a way I have never before seen. The author manages to build pretty good characters and plot rapidly, succinctly, and with skill that leaves you wanting much more. (An update on that later.) She uses language artfully but doesn’t smother you with adjectives and prose. She paints pictures neatly, effectively, with great sensation. I loved every page. Do you know how sometimes a book hits all the best high points and only explores the most valuable depths? No dry spells of reading stuff you later decide was unnecessary? That is how The Giver works. Lowry could have made every chapter much more thorough (meaning, painstakingly detailed), but she seemed to know when to quit or when to pull back. It was was refreshing. So that is why I enjoyed it as a reader, and as a prospective writer I took lots of cues from her.

As for the message that landed with such timeliness in my heart, it’s about kids who have lived out their childhood and are on the brink of adulthood, the knife’s edge of what’s next and how do I fit into this society, the world at large? What’s my function now that bike riding and recreation and freedom have come to an end? Our oldest is on this exciting and possibility-rich precipice right now, so the connections dazzled me. I was close to tears a few times while reading.

The story also explores the power of choice making, the dangers and risks of individuality, and the beauty of it all. It drives home the horrible fallout of something they call “Sameness,” or what I think of as social homogenization. There is also some touching on hot-button issues like weather control and euthanasia, which I thought was interesting. Mostly, though, it’s about the people.

Another theme that weighs in is the immeasurable power of memory. Collective memory, really: the wealth of emotion and wisdom we all enjoy by keeping our past close at hand and living in ways that show we have learned from history, both immediate and distant. Collective memory is written as a painful but necessary element in the new society, an irreplaceable gift. But history and memory are carefully guarded, sequestered from the general public because feeling it all is so uncomfortable. They’ve forgotten how to cope with it. Then, together with physical sensation, the feeling of things seems to be the vehicle for experiencing Love. When a character actually tastes loss and grief, inconveniences scrubbed out by the new, pristine Sameness, he finally feels the depth of Love.

It’s amazing. I couldn’t stop thinking about the duality of hurt, the balance in life between pleasure and pain. About how it is so clearly the dark times that make us appreciate the light, and how absence makes the heart grow fonder, etcetera.

I also thought of Finding Nemo, which pops into my Mother Brain more often than I care to admit. Remember the part when Marlin confides that he just doesn’t want anything to happen to his son? And then Dory, in her simple wisdom, wants to know why on earth he would want that? Yep.

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest. ~Confucious

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest. ~Confucious

In fact, the word love in this new society has become so generalized that it is nearly obsolete. Now, of course, we mention this once in a while to each other, right? We joke about how we love Tex Mex and we love the color turquoise, but yes we also love our grandparents and best friends. And wow we really love coffee and books and amazing husbands. The word itself, at least in American English, is diluted to the point of needing context every time we use it. So the author’s point is driven home well. But she also prompts lots of thinking on how to help each other cope with pain and difficult memories. She makes it clear that it is leaning on each other that siphons off grief, and maybe she even meant to say that physical touch was a necessary ingredient.

there could be love sticker

I could talk about this book all day long and into the night and might even try to convince my book club, those ladies who haven’t read it yet, to snap it up so we can tackle it as a group. The Giver is so short but so deep and beautiful! Have you read it? What did you think?

  • What was your take on the Releasing ceremonies?
  • What did you think of age twelve as the time in life to choose your path, or have it chosen for you?
  • If society were to choose your career or vocation for you, what might be chosen, based on what people know/observe about you? And how happy would you be?
  • What did you think of physical touch as it related to pain relief and memory sharing?
  • How close do you think we are to Sameness in different parts of society now? What are the risks and rewards?
  • What did you think of the book’s ending??

Oh that’s right! The ending. I was stunned and felt a bit empty when I read the last page. Luckily a talkative little girl in class was happy to trade thoughts at the exact moment, so I didn’t go quite insane. She assured me that the author received such feedback for more story that she has since written this one volume into a series called The Quartet. I cannot wait to find those and soothe my curiosity.

And do you know what I discovered while poking around the internet for the author’s contact information? She is also the creator of the Goonie Bird books! Our youngest loved these in grade school. Very happy memories. So now Lois Lowry has touched my heart twice this week, once for each of my babies, now young women.

Okay, three cheers for sudden book finds and enlightening seventh grade days! Thanks for stopping in, friends. Have the best Wednesday ever.

Back and back and back…
~Lois Lowry, The Giver
XOXOXOXO

 

 

Learning from Steve Biebrich, Sunshine Nursery

This Tuesday at Master Gardener class we enjoyed a really wonderful speaker. Steve Biebrich, owner and operator of Sunshine Nurseries near Clinton, Oklahoma, came to talk to us about tree selection and propagation. Fun!

Steve Bieberich 06

He must have shown us more than three hundred beautiful photo slides, narrating in detail all the while, and I was scribbling fast to keep up with his comments. By the end of the day my binder held a couple dozen pages of notes on tree varieties suitable for Oklahoma, their provenance, stories behind their common names (I love this kind of trivia), and much more. It was so inspiring, not to mention flat out entertaining. Steve was hilarious! Irreverent, casual, passionate about his craft. Listening to him talk trees was a total pleasure.

I snapped this photo last month on our class field trip to the Stillwater Botanic gardens. The whole day was so magical.

I snapped this photo last month on our class field trip to the Stillwater Botanic gardens. The whole day was so magical.

Steve started learning about horticulture and ecology in the tenth grade and soon after was working for his future father-in-law in a local Oklahoma landscaping business. Fast forward through his long and fruitful career, one of the many qualities that sets him apart from other nursery growers is that he has made deliberate horticultural connections between Oklahoma and China. Our climates and growing conditions are so similar that the native plants in both places are widely interchangeable. Steve and some of his colleagues from Virginia, together with the USDA, form a delegation every year and travel to China to hunt and explore, commiserate with fellow horticulturists, and bring home new and exciting seeds. In turn, they host the Chinese delegation here in our beautiful state. For forty years it’s been a fascinating exchange, especially because Steve doesn’t speak Chinese except to count to three. (But he can do a pretty funny, if nervously politically incorrect, impersonation. He’s allowed because the impersonation is of one of his Chinese friends.)

Relaying to you all the glorious information from Tuesday’s lecture would be impractical. I would definitely botch the Latin, anyway. Instead, how about a handful of quick, simple things you might like to know, whether you live in Oklahoma, China, or some other beautiful corner of this Eden of a planet? Okay.

Nature Knows Best. 
Besides being college educated in horticulture, Steve’s expertise in propagation is made full by experience and keen observation. He has made it a practice to closely watch natural cycles then imitate them to achieve the best success with germination, rooting, and plant longevity. He seeks out suitable environments and conditions to make that plant happy, rather than dramatically manipulating the environment to please his appetite. He talked about asking himself, “How does this plant grow in nature?”  I love this philosophy!
It’s seducing when people grow exotics and tropicals, for example, but I really groove it to make the very most of natives. A wealth of beauty and learning is available to us just by watching nature. This is deeply thrilling to me.

Patience is a Virtue.
Haven’t we all made the mistake of planting a tree or shrub too close to the house, or too near each other, or too big for a garden vacancy? Yes. We all buy too many plants for too small a space because we want impact, like, yesterday. We want a full shade tree to grace the back yard of a newly built home, and we want it this season. But not too big, right?
Well, as a grower for both homeowners and developers, Steve has seen his share of over zealous gardeners. He talked about proper tree selection, keeping the long view, and being patient. He also gave us several examples of trees that are uniquely gorgeous when full grown but look miserable and puny in a gallon bucket at the nursery. I am definitely guilty of shopping too much for today and not enough for ten years from now, so his reprimand was welcome. Two trees in particular that are now on my long-term radar? Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus) and Cork Bark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia v. corticosa).

 

slow gardening Steve Biebrich Oklahoma Lazy W

Steve’s exasperated remark on impatient landscapers.

 

Drought is a Real Problem. 
What more can I say that you don’t already know? Oklahomans are painfully familiar with the wide reaching effects of all sorts of extreme weather, including drought, but listening to the perspective of a professional grower was sobering. More than once Steve made wistful mention of how things were, “back when it rained.” So sad. Of course, we are all hoping that our home state is now on the upswing with steady precipitation, but only time will tell. Here at the Lazy W we are so grateful to have enjoyed a wet, mild summer, and we are hoping our neighbors to the west get deep drinks soon.

Beware Frilly Landscaping Beneath Trees
Flower beds curving around and beneath big shade trees are so beautiful, aren’t they? We all have probably tried it more than once, with varying success. Steve points out that while it may work for a few seasons and give you the fluff and color your eyes crave, that kind of soil disturbance can in the long run be harmful to some trees. Ironically, the varieties that are most suited to our extreme conditions here in Oklahoma (drought, cement-like soil, etcetera) can be most sensitive to the impatiens-and-monkey grass trend. His message was not to never plant such beds, but rather to do your homework and learn what your trees need.

My Wish List has Quadrupled
As if this weekly class hasn’t already expanded my gardening appetite to an unreasonable level, Steve’s talk on trees has made me want to grow all of them. I also now want to take walks on our farm and do some good, solid species identification. Hitherto when I haven’t known what a tree is, I’ve just called it a “blackjack.” Pathetic, I know. But now with my long list of tree varieties and specific features to learn, I feel ready. Ready to learn everything and further populate the farm with ecological beauty.

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

Friends, thanks so much for stopping in today! I can’t ever seem to tell you everything I want to tell you about this weekly gardening class, and I can’t believe the semester is already more than halfway finished. Such a fantastic experience. It’s been a whirlwind of information, and this week’s lecture by Steve Biebrich was a high point for sure.

the Lazy W Oklahoma forestry gardening

go explore your world, ok?

 

So tell me, what trees do you love the most? Have you ever looked to another part of the world for gardening inspiration? What is your biggest landscaping weakness?

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.
~Chinese proverb (how perfect)
XOXOXOXO

XXIV sonnet

A little poetic pause to accompany another beautiful Oklahoma sunset.
Love wraps us, warms us, and reminds us it is all grace.

sunset blue

 

Let the world’s sharpness, like a clasping knife,

Shut in upon itself and do no harm

In this close hand of Love, now soft and warm,

And let us hear no sound of human strife

After the click of the shutting. Life to life –

I lean upon thee, Dear, without alarm,

And feel as safe as guarded by a charm

Against the stab of worldlings, who if rife

Are weak to injure. Very whitley still

The lilies of our lives may reassure

Their blossoms from their roots, accessible

Alone to heavenly dews that drop not fewer,

Growing straight, out of man’s reach, on the hill,

God only, who made us rich, can make us poor.

~24th sonnet from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Thanks for visiting, friends! Hope to see you again later this week. Make it a really great one.
XOXOXOXO

stuck

It happens to the best of us. We get stuck.

And it’s inconvenient and maybe embarrassing. And possibly painful.

We get stuck in difficult situations. Dilemmas that test us. Spotlights that terrify us.

We get stuck in traffic, stuck in debt, stuck in toxic relationships.

So frustrating, right?

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

A few days ago our tomcat Geoffrey got himself stuck in the layered wire ceiling/roof of the chicken coop yard.

geoffrey stuck 1

geoffrey stuck 2

Poor Geoffrey. It’s not uncommon for him to spend all night in the coop with the chickens and geese, as he is a great nighttime hunter but not at all interested in the flock. In fact, he’s probably in more danger from them than they are from him. Often we release the birds at sunrise only to find him bolting out at high speed, ears flattened and eyes wide, having been hiding in some corner, probably either from Johnny Cash the violent gander or Randall the Redneck Rooster. But this morning was the first time we’d found him in quite such a predicament. Stuck. So stuck. Handsome had to loose our fluffy boy from his wiry womb and sooth his frazzled little feline nerves. Happily, Geoffrey was uninjured. Just embarrassed and a little stressed.

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

When you’re stuck, how do you cope?

You can rail violently against your circumstances, throwing little fits and pouting,

at your leisure expounding on all the injustice thwarting your obviously good and noble efforts.

(You can spin your wheels, basically, which is the first natural thing we all tend to do.)

 

Or you can calm down, be very still in mind and body, and take a deep, cleansing breath.

 

sunset blue

 

You can focus on what is going right, what is going really well in fact, and cultivate again that seed of gratitude.

You can let the anxiety fall quietly away and gather instead all the positive energy available to you.

Consciously remember that you have vast resources within you and around you,

resources that can change your circumstances in amazing ways.

Reach out in prayer. Faithful prayer. Harness your imagination.

Then start to work.

Do the first simple task in front of you. Do it really well.

Then do another thing.

And another.

And keep moving.

Be so filled with momentum and living energy that old anxieties and worries cannot distract you.

Just keep choosing to see the Light and continue working.

Trust that you are being helped in unseen, supernatural  ways, because you absolutely are.

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

Geoffrey is fine now, by the way. He shook off that stuck stress quickly and was in a minute dreaming up his next big tomcat adventure. My heart tells me he was thankful for Handsome’s intervention. But it also tells me that deep down Geoffrey knew help would eventually come.

Interrupt anxiety with gratitude.
Do your part.
Trust.
XOXOXO

oklahoma garden resources

Hello! It’s early Tuesday morning, which means I am getting ready for another fun day at OSU-OKC for Master Gardeners’ class!

Seriously? I have so many things to share with you about these sessions. The people are just fantastic. The new energy flow is welcome in my life and so interesting, stimulating. The deluge of information being offered is unprecedented! And so much inspiration… Week after week, I come home with new ideas and smarter daydreams. I just had no idea how much further my mind could be stretched in an arena I have loved for so long.

Maybe the most important thing I am learning is how to find really good information. And that is something I’d love to share with you no matter where you live, but especially if you too are digging and sowing and harvesting in this Great State I call home.

 

Oklahoma garden resources lazyw

Because anyone who has tried establishing and tending a garden in Oklahoma knows it is particularly challenging, right? Extreme everything. Ferocious wind, crazy temperature fluctuations, either droughts or floods (or both!)… Every soil type under the sun. Very little goes the small, quiet way here. Including beauty. So we need good support. Smart, experienced people to light the way. Here are some clickable garden resources for you, as offered to me by the fine folks at the Oklahoma County Extension:

 

Oklahoma Master Gardener Program

Soil Test 123

Oklahoma Proven

Association of Natural Biocontrol Producers

Hydro Hippy (pollinators for sale)

OK State Entomology & Plant Pathology

National Academy of Sciences pollinator resource

BBC programmes: The Private Life of Plants

Don’t Move Firewood

Bio-Integral Resource Center (for Integrated Pest Management)

IPM Institute of North America

Albuquerque Extension Master Gardener Program

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Ohio State University college of food, agriculture, & environmental science

I will be adding to this list periodically, so please check in again! And if you have an online resource to share, please send me a note and I’ll add it. Knowledge is power.

We know we belong to the laaaaaand!
XOXOXOXO

friday 5 at the farm: random photos

Happy Friday!! We made it to another weekend, friends. The farm has certainly been hoppin’ lately. Our oldest daughter Jocelyn has been spending more time here, warming up the place and pouring her music into every room. We spend some of our time at home, just breathing deeply and moving slowly, and some of it driving all over creation getting stuff done. I love every minute. So thankful.

We’ve got more seasonal autumn spice happening day by day. And the gardens are enjoying a lot less brutality from Mother Nature, although the chickens have tried to pick up the slack where the weather has left off, scratching and pecking lots of gorgeous plants almost to death. Dang chickens. But I do have new gardening gloves, so that’s nice.

Things are overall great! My husband is working too hard at the office, but it’s because he cares so much and has such high standards. And that will never change until I write a book or otherwise hit the jackpot and he can retire.

How about a quick Friday 5 at the Farm, just some random photos and captions? Okay.

 

f5f nieces

Last weekend my parents and little brother Phil and our sister Angela’s three gorgeous kiddos visited the farm for some autumn fun. Our oldest daughter also surprised us with a visit and brought a friend. I didn’t even know she was coming! She just walked in the front door saying “hellloooo!!!” Such a crazy fun surprise when your kids are old enough to do that. I love it. And my nephew’s friend Matthew came, too. We’ve watched those two boys grow up together and love them very much. The place was full of happy people. We ate soup my Mom brought (delicious) and snacked on chocolate-chip pumpkin bread (also yum) and tried pretending like it was autumn weather while really we were sweating under the shade trees. But painting pumpkins and building scarecrows helped a little. It was a wonderful day. I love my family so much.

f5f frogs

Our daughter was able to spend the night after all the family fun, and late in the evening after cleaning and resting and just as we were about to go to bed, I offhandedly mentioned that the tree frogs had recently had babies. She LOVES animals. I mean, LOVES ‘em, even more than I do. Especially babies. Especially any difficult to love variety, like frogs. So of course her eyes lit up like diamonds and of course I relented and we took a clean bucket outside and went hunting for frogs. So, that was perfectly terrifying.

f5f calzone

One evening this week we had homemade calzones for dinner, and I promise to post the recipe soon.  All it is, really, is pizza dough with your fave fillings, folded over, brushed with egg wash, and baked. The best part of this story is that after she watched me make one batch of Alfredo sauce Jocelyn asked me to teach her, and with very little guidance she made a second batch perfectly. She’s a natural! In fact she’s been cooking here a lot lately, and it gives me so much peace and happiness knowing she can do this for herself as a young adult. In my opinion, cooking well and regularly is more than a novelty.

f5f seeds

As if the wealth of knowledge I am gaining at master gardener class isn’t enough, nearly every week someone brings live plants to share. And also, we have lately been collecting dried seeds from the campus gardens to bring home and fill our own little Edens. So exciting! Now when I walk past my herb bed or shrubby border, or when I see any garden for that matter, I ask myself What can be saved and propagated? And as for my growing knowledge base, right now I know just enough to be really dangerous.

f5f bat

Thursday midday as my girl and I were walking through downtown Oklahoma City, we happened to see this fuzzy little guy. It’s a bat. I know! A real live bat in the middle of downtown OKC, not Austin TX, and in broad daylight! Warming himself, it seems, on the concrete step. There was much begging and cajoling for me to bring it home to live at the farm (we already have lots of bats here, but this assurance meant nothing to the girl who wanted to “save” this one), and there might have even been a dare for me to touch it. Our crouching, squealing, photo-snapping spectacle drew the attention of a few passersby, and surely by now the Legend of the Downtown OKC Bat is thriving, at least locally. I’d like to add now that late last night I couldn’t sleep and watched a NOVA program about the current Ebola crisis. Apparently, bats are strong and common carriers, so… That is almost as terrifying as tree frogs suddenly having lots and lots of tiny babies.

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How has your week been? Give me a headline or a funny story from your corner of paradise. Or tell me your favorite meal this week. Better yet, assure me that looking closely at and maybe touching only the fur of a bat will not give me Ebola.

Happy Weekend friends!
XOXOXOXO

another midnight rendezvous & hope satisfied

She had already spent at least an hour with him at the end of the day, getting her jeans nice and dirty, snuggling and brushing and leading him. Riding him with barely any tack despite his boundary-pushing mood. She played with her horse happily, part woman and part little girl, while in the tree-rimmed valley my beloved Oklahoma sunset gave us a kaleidoscope show of reds, oranges, golds, and streaky, dramatic blues.

Once or twice the two of them stood motionless and stared into the forest for a long time, probably listening to deer and resting. But I imagined them staring into the future, wordlessly communicating like they do. I imagined her forming her beautiful new life right there with her thoughts. Strong and capable, graceful, dangerous, beautiful.

joc sunset dusty

Several hours later, after dinner was cleaned up and we had made a second batch of oatmeal lace cookies (try them with Nutella, friends) and after all three of us had watched a scary movie (it is the month of Halloween, after all), I stepped outside to inhale the stunning moonlight and say thanks for such an incredible day. She followed me and we stood on the warm concrete sidewalk together and just enjoyed the cool breeze. It was a particularly gorgeous night, cool and breathy, no violent wind. Everything was illuminated silver under the night sky. The geese were even mostly quiet. After a moment she giggled and said she was going to scare Dusty (her horse). She was wearing running shorts now, no longer the afternoon’s jeans, and she was barefoot. She scampered around me and down the sidewalk to reach the front gate of his pasture. I was the one to follow this time and called after her with a warning of stickers, but, you know, she’s okay Mom.

She passed through the gate and tiptoed downhill in the glowing wash of moonlight, navigating wildflowers and nocturnal cats. There was a moment when a bug surprised her and she did a fancy little dance and wiggle to free herself, and we both giggled endlessly. Then she called Dusty’s name in a stage whisper but didn’t find him yet. Continued in wide circles and gentle, searching steps under the silver sky. Big dark pools of tree shadow all around her.

Then she let out that trademark whistle she and Handsome have always used, that two-syllable song that starts low and ends high and never fails to catch or calm a horse. That got him, as she had to know it would. But he was uphill from her, behind her near the barn instead of down where she was looking. When she turned her womanly body to see him her pretty face lit up like a little girl and she ran fast on bare tip toes. Caution abandoned. He half-trotted down to see her, and they hugged. She wrapped her arms around his thick neck and he bent that thick neck across her back. There was much baby-talking and deep whinnying. So much mutual affection.

I just stood there soaking it up, amazed once again at how generously God answers prayer. And how suddenly. Amazed by how much sensation and emotion can be packaged into one moment.

Of course she could not resist another midnight ride. And given his obstinacy earlier that evening, she probably felt it her duty to tame him a bit. So for the second time in a week, right there under the brilliant moon, feet bare and heart light, she launched her tiny body up, belly first across his bare back. No reins, no help, nothing. He is so fat right now! And though he isn’t very tall she barely reached that high flat spot of his back before exploding into a fit of laughter. This triggered him to start walking toward me, and she hung there upside down (I don’t know how), all big smiles and playful kicking legs, trying to find purchase.

When she finally did gain the upright advantage, she just swung one smooth, lean leg over his rump and pivoted quickly so she was square and perfect, like that was the exact place she had always been meant to sit.

And of course it is.

He was calm for a moment, staring at me wide-eyed with those thick broomy lashes, maybe for permission or help, who knows? Then the silliness began again. They cuddled and kissed and nibbled at each other; she laid forward and wrapped herself like a baby monkey all around his ample middle; and the breeze braided together her dark hair with his black and white mane. I could barely hold back happy tears.

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Whatever you are praying for, whatever your hope, stay strong. I even think, the more hopeless a situation feels, the more important it is to continue in prayer and gratitude, in hope and seeking. Walls that keep you from seeing the blessing are sometimes weak, cruel illusions. And the walls that are very real can crumble in an instant. Make good use of your waiting season, but do not give up on any miracle. Okay? Love is terrifyingly powerful.

Here is where we’ve poured our hope
and where we’ll wait for it to grow.

~Emily Freeman
XOXOXOXO

back into the light

Good Sunday morning friends. I’ll be short and sweet today.

One of the books I’m reading this week is A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman. It is soaking into me, plumping up the dry corners of my heart and making my thoughts lush again. She is giving me lots of good stuff to reconsider, lots of exciting ideas about the power of faith and imagination, the trajectory of thought and energy. But what’s different about this book compared to the others I’ve read recently is how it’s all based on a firm scriptural foundation.

sunlight green starts

I am a fairly positive person, especially after some hard lessons I’ve learned these past few years. I’ve learned that your attitude and imagination are crucial to your well being. And they are choices.

But when faced with the deepest, heaviest weights in my heart I tend to worry. It’s a slippery slippery slope, you know? One negative, fearful thought leads to another, which makes you start with the what ifs and the imaginary conversations with difficult people and then you are up at three in the morning all week and your husband says you look miserable lately and your best friend is asking about you secretly, is she okay?

Well, by now I know that fear is the opposite of faith.

That appreciation trumps expectation.

And that worry is a sin. It’s forbidden.

These things are firm in my heart, and thankfully the moments I slip up are now few and far between. But they do happen. Because sometimes life is heavy and the people we love are walking in the wilderness. I have so many stories to share with you. For now, let’s see where this beautiful, inspirational book leads:

We all have our unique shape of fear.
There are no greener grasses, only different lawns.
~Emily Freeman

Isn’t that true?

I have a dear friend who is wildly generous with sharing her appreciation and love for other people. She is one of the strongest encouragers I know, among the most passionate and loyal girlfriends I have ever had. But she never sees her own beauty. She often longs to be the women she admires and forgets how loving, smart, beautiful, and hilarious she is. How magnetic. And maybe she thinks all other lawns are greener, not just different. I wish I could help her. I know she would take away my fears and worries if she could. Over the years she has certainly tried, and I love her for it.

disco with green and sun

But neither of us really can operate each other’s mind, which is the real battleground. So we make little loving gestures, send sweet, sincere notes, and pray for each other. We try to insulate each other’s hearts from the cold and the poison of the world so that we can make healthy choices with our own thoughts, our own emotional, manifesting choices.

With the love and care of my husband and close friends and the power of prayer, I really am coming out of the shadow of worry (again). Back in the bright, warming light (again), but in an even better frame of mind than before. Because I learned a lot from this brief second season of dark. I’m not even upset about it, because I know God understands and forgives. He won’t waste this energy slump either.

Jesus shows himself through you in a million little ways.
Perhaps more often than not,
they are ways you can’t plan for,
don’t intend, and may never even know about.
There is no waste in the visible or invisible work of God.
~Emily Freeman

Your life if green and beautiful, even if there are dead spots and even if the weeds and wildflowers look different to you than what you see elsewhere. You can love people even if you can’t live for them. God will help you make use of every single thing in your life. Train your thoughts, okay? Make sure your imagination supports your prayers. Help each other remember. Forgive yourself when you forget. Life is so beautiful and good.

I sabotage the gift with my limited view of God’s provision.
~Emily Freeman

XOXOXOXO