friday 5 at the farm: goose attack

Happy Friday! For this week’s edition of Friday 5 at the Farm, I thought I’d share 5 photos of geese (6 if you count the one of my arm) and tell you a little story.

A few days ago I was minding my own business, feeding treats to the very harmonious cats and chickens in our front yard, trying to catch a nice moment on camera, when the Gangsters (that what we call our gaggle) showed up and caused a ruckus. It was noisy and confusing and ended in violence. Violence directed at me. So, pride wounded, I posted the following photo to Instagram.

goose bite

A goose attacked me and I almost died. “That’s gonna leave a mark!”

All my internet friends were immediately on my side, declaring how scary and vicious geese are, and possibly evil, and how they can’t believe I probably need a tetanus shot and maybe amputation of the offended limb. Goose bites are horrible, right? Then I felt bad. Because, in retrospect, the Gangsters tried to warn me. I was just too caught up in catching a great photo of cats and chickens to pay attention. I’ll tell that part of the story with our Friday 5 photos.

 

Canadian gosling domesticated

Duck-duck, our adopted Canadian gander, approaches from the right while the hens make a graceful exit.

 

South African goose happy posture

The other five, the South Africans, enter the scene quickly but Mia in right in my face. See his different posture? This is a goose in love.

 

South African geese on high alert

This is where the tide turns. I was way too close to their beloved Duck-duck, as you can plainly see from the straight necks on Mama and the other three. Mia, as always, is still curve-necked and honking his love softly.

 

Gaggle of geese protecting their adopted baby

That’s Duck-duck still in the middle of it all. Mia is on the right, trying to protect me. I should have listened to him.

 

goose attack

This is Johnny Cash. He had enough and charged me, biting my tender forearm and not letting go for what felt like hours. (It was probably like ten seconds.) I screamed like a little girl and Mia honked wildly and Handsome came to my rescue.

 

That’s pretty much the whole story. Except that since Johnny Cash has tasted my blood (yes, it bled a little) his bullying has gone to new levels. I cannot go anywhere on this farm without looking over my shoulder. He honks with this particular tone of arrogance that just drives me batty. I woke up from a goose-related nightmare last night. He doesn’t even care.

I still love the geese, even Johnny Cash. Mia has to be careful not to show me too much affection in front of The Gangsters, but his heart still belongs to me.

The End.

Have you ever been attacked by a goose? Let’s have all the gory details.

We’re goin’ ballistic, Mav, go get ‘em!
~Goose to Mav in Top Gun
XOXOXOXO

 

 

fancy hotel chocolate chip cookies

Have you ever stayed at a nice hotel where in the afternoon they give you an over-sized chocolate chip cookie, and perhaps it is gently warmed, and most likely it is nestled inside its own brown paper envelope, as if they made the entire batch with you in mind? I have. And the experience is divine. I am telling you right now: If you are a hotel that offers Afternoon Cookie Service, you barely need a pool; you are already my favorite. (But please still have coffee.)

fancy cookies bite

I have goofed around with lots of chocolate chip cookie recipes over the years, leading up to that really fun taste test we hosted a while back. Handsome has his favorites and I have mine. But this? This is borne of a desperate baking moment. I discovered in my pantry a weird collection of extras that didn’t quite match any of our recipes. I tried it anyway, and BAM. Fancy hotel cookies. Like, exactly. Here it is.

Ingredients:

2 sticks real butter, softened
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar ( I like dark)
2 large eggs (farm fresh, because I grew up with Martha Stewart & Ina Garten)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats (ground up)
1/4 cup pecans (also ground up, not just chopped)
1 teaspoon baking soda
at least 1 teaspoon good vanilla
1 whole bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips or 2 cups chopped semi-sweet baking chocolate

Prep Work:

Allow butter to soften to about room temperature
Use coffee grinder to grind up the quick oats & pecans (pecans will almost become a paste)
Play music like Iggy Azalea’s I’m So Fancy or, if you’re feeling old school, Reba McEntire’s Fancy

These cookies turned out so tender, so chewy and densely chocolatey, so vaguely flavored of pecans (without the crunch) and just perfect in every way, that I kind of felt fancy. Like I was eating an afternoon hotel treat. So I scrubbed all the tile in our house with bleach, to get that hotel bleachiness. And I played soft jazz. And fluffed the throw pillows and swept the front entry and Windexed all the glass. I changed our bed sheets and folded the tissues into roses.

Then I panicked because we didn’t have reservations, and who would feed the animals while we are out of town? Then a rooster crowed outside the kitchen window and I remembered I was safe at home. Not at a fancy hotel. But the diversion was vivid and lovely.

Assembly: It’s easy & nothing different, once you’ve ground up the oats and pecans.

Cream together the butter and sugars
Mix in the eggs and vanilla
Use a fork to stir together the dry ingredients (including the almost pasted pecans)
Mix those into the egg-butter-sugar loveliness
Stir in the chocolate pieces
Scoop and roll dough into extra large balls (maybe 2 or 3 Tablespoons?)
Bake until just the edges are browned
Allow to cool then devour

crushed pecan chocolate chip cookies

crushed pecan chocolate chip cookies

Will you try this? What is your favorite chocolate-chip cookie strategy? What do you love most about fancy hotels?

I am linking this recipe post to the Oklahoma Women Bloggers page, where every Friday these wonderful ladies collect a different type of recipe. It’s a creative spin on Progressive Dinner Parties, and I love it! This week, desserts. Go see the other yummy ideas!

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

Today is Handsome’s 39th birthday. Around here, perhaps you’ve noticed, we do birthday weeks. He’s already celebrated with his office family, and this weekend I intend to spoil him rotten and hope lots of friends can join in. It’s his first birthday without his Mom, and so many other family changes since her passing have made the grief sharper, more bitter. I would really appreciate you lifting him up in prayer this week. Thank you friends. I know you will.

XOXOXOXO

 

 

 

 

in which my bellydancing career ended abruptly

I haven’t told you guys this yet, but I recently took some belly dancing lessons. It was a fun summertime diversion which I really enjoyed. But now it’s over (the dancing, not summertime, not by a long shot), and I want to share the story with you. If you’re embarrassed to be friends with me after this, that’s cool. I get it.

It started off nice and easy. The lessons were weekly for a month, that’s it. And I paid for them on Living Social where I already had a nice credit balance, so the lessons were practically free. I have always wanted to learn how to dance a “real dance” and this particular discipline has always held a certain allure for me. This can probably be traced back to my childhood fascination with I Dream of Jeannie. Anyway, I showed up for class. I paid close attention. I gave it all I had and even managed to wear a gauzy scarf around my hips. Still, my success was painfully limited.

The class consisted of about a dozen women of varying ages and styles. We all faced an expansive mirrored wall and followed our fearless leader and she guided us through different steps and exercises. The music was rhythmic and peppered with desert magic and mystery, everything I hoped belly dancing music would be. But the magic had limits.

Whenever the class was working toward the right, I was invariably wandering to the left. I was physically incapable of doing pretty things with my hands while managing my feet. And apparently all the beat-box style pulse dancing one does at home while cooking does not necessarily translate to controlled, choreographed sequences. Not the same. Who knew?

And you guys… Shimmying is a lot harder than it looks! When the instructor tried teaching it to us, I could only either stand very still, stuck in the necessary muscular contraction, or shivver like I was imitating a full body freeze. Shivvering is not shimmying, and I was lost.

When the instructor walked hip-circle loops around her right foot in a sultry, fluid motion then invited us to the same, all I could do was sort of skip on one foot, more or less in a circle but really more of a square. Had I added in a little curved-back loopy action like I was trying to gain momentum on a playground swing, it would have been the boot-scootin boogie for sure.

When we did just plain hip circles, standing still and rotating first clockwise then back around, the circles were supposed to be even and precise. The instructor watched me sideways for a while then walked over to gently correct me, saying I was putting just a little too much in the back half of my circle. My knees were straight; that was a nice, clean, non-stripper move. But the hip circles were supposed to be even and symmetrical. Mine were… leaning. Yep, message received ma’am. I have a big butt.

So you get the idea that I was struggling. And that the instructor noticed. Okay.

Remember how I told you this was a Living Social purchase? The deal offered four consecutive lessons to sample then encourages you to commit to three months of progressive lessons as a beginner. You know, get you hooked. Well, I have been to time-share sales pitches before, folks, so this weren’t my first rodeo. As my final class approached I knew a sales pitch was coming and was prepared to gently but firmly decline all offers because of so many reasons. Mostly, shimmying. I actually practiced my decline speech in my head on the way to that last class, while listening to Shakira.

Shakira is excellent belly dancing music, and it mixed up my feelings.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the class ended and our instructor did not approach me with any literature or coin-trimmed scarves or other luring tactics. Nothing. In fact, when I approached her and mentioned saucily that it was my final class (sub-text: don’t you want to convince me to stay?) this is what happened:

She said, “Oh, huh. Is that so.”

“Yep. Last one. All I paid for was four.” I might have even held up four fingers to drive the point home.

“Oh. Well, what did you think? Did you enjoy it?” She was complete elegance in yoga capris and a shredded tank top.

“Oh I did! It was so much fun, I absolutely loved it and I practice at home and everything. Just can’t believe the month went by so fast!” I am hopeless. Never play poker with me.

“Yes, the month is over.” Nodding and smiling politely, “I’m glad you tried it and had fun. We enjoyed having you! Now I guess you can go back to doing…” and at this point she glanced up and down my body, “whatever it is you do.” Just a trace of pity. But elegant pity, you know?

I was nonplussed. This was not even close to how I imagined things going down between us. I mean my speech declining the up-sell! What follows is something I am not proud of.

“What… what… whatever it is I do? I’M A RUNNER, BITCHES!” Then I balled up my fists, thrust my skinny, sunburned arms into the air and let out a whooping, high-pitched scream like what you might hear on Xena Princess Warrior. “AAIII YAI YAI YAI YAAAIII!!!” And I ran out of the studio, a feral cat released. I just abandoned my purse, my phone, my Jeep keys, everything, and ran barefoot (because belly dancing is a barefoot endeavor) all of the seven and a half miles home to the farm.

By the time I reached our front gate, the sun was setting and I regretted leaving my phone there, because now how could I log my miles? Runner problems.

hula hooping at the medieval fair... close enough

hula hooping at the medieval fair… close enough

I should impress on you that the woman teaching our classes was not only elegant; she was also very sweet and a consummate professional. I am totally kidding about how we parted ways. But part ways we did, as there are other adventures on my horizon.

In the mean time, back to running.

The End.

 

 

I love people who…

Smile at people who aren’t smiling.
Get excited when the weather changes suddenly and dramatically.
Are nice to waiters and waitresses, even not very good ones.
Can see intricate shapes in the clouds and are happy to point them out.

Sweet Darria pouring her love all over Fancy Louise, her chicken who lives here. xoxo

Sweet Darria pouring her love all over Fancy Louise, her chicken who lives here. xoxo

I love people who will describe their food to me in exquisite detail
and who have to make an effort to eat slowly because it’s just so good.
Who will talk about their next meal while eating this one.
Don’t mind long, somewhat rambling stories and who, in fact,
ask silly little questions along the way.

I love people who understand the difference between cluttered and dirty…
And between a collection and a hoard…
And between eclectic and crazy. Not that crazy is all that bad.

IMG_0546

I love people who respect that everyone mourns differently.
Who don’t judge each other for not displaying grief and pain publicly.

I love people who sing along to rap music with great enthusiasm,
as if the lyrics all apply directly to their life.
And who sing along to country music with salty twangs, whether genuine or not.

I love people who love babies and old people equally.
But are ever so slightly unnerved by cats and frogs.

tiny tiny green frog

I love people who are world-class experts at something beautiful or difficult,
but scarcely anyone knows about it. Perhaps they are even self-taught. How wonderful.

Who get emotional over nature, the art and science of it.
And who feel connected to certain parts of nature in such a way
that they feel displaced everywhere else on the planet.
And who feel similarly about books or movies or artwork or music. Anything, really.

I love people whose cars smell really good.
Who make eye contact easily.

 

Dusty has been extra cuddly this week, even though I gave him a terribly choppy haircut right after this photo was taken. He is a quick forgiver.

Dusty has been extra cuddly this week, even though I gave him a terribly choppy haircut right after this photo was taken. He is a quick forgiver.

Who can remain calm in the midst of a life storm, gathering their energies
and creating a nest of love and safety.
And who quote the Bible with love and for the edification of others.
And they believe every word.

Do any of these lines describe you?
Then I love you, and I bet hundreds of other people do, too.
And I wish you the most beautiful, restful, battery charging Sunday possible.
I hope you get a glimpse of dreams coming true.
I hope you get a boost of faith for unanswered prayers.
I hope you get clear, calm direction if you are feeling lost.

Thank you so much for stopping by the Lazy W.
Now you tell me something you love about people.

You are not alone. You are loved.
XOXOXOXO

open letter to squash bugs

Dear Squash Bugs,

I hate you.

I hate you with the heat of a thousand suns. I wish you would die.

squash bug infestation 2013

No, wishing your death is too easy for you and too difficult for me. Because, as you probably know, killing you quickly and en masse could also kill my beloved and productive honeybees. Are you productive? No. Are you beloved? Not by a soul. Not by anyone who knows the real you.

So instead I wish you banishment to a land where no zucchini or pumpkins or eggplant grow. I wish you a new and unfamiliar home devoid of even cucumber plants.  Because apparently my abundant squash garden wasn’t enough for you, and you had to also decimate my raw pickles. 

Squash bugs, I hope that whenever you get dolled up and go out on the town, you unwittingly drag behind you long strands of filthy toilet paper from the public restroom stall where, ironically, there was no TP for you to clean yourself. Like you care. You’re so disgusting.

I hope that the cute doctor with whom you flirt shamelessly sees you to your dark, destructive core and gags when you speak. I hope people give bad Yelp reviews to the restaurants and hotels you frequent, just because you stink up the place so much.

And I hope that when you enter a public swimming pool mothers drag their children to safety and even apathetic teenaged boys are disgusted at sharing the chlorinated water with you.

In fact, I hope that one by one your supposed friends abandon you and are embarrassed to have ever been associated with you.  

May you invite other insects to a dinner party at your new stupid squash bug house, and may they all accept with saccharine grins, but at the last minute everyone secretly coordinates to just not show up. So you have to do all the work anyway then just sit there alone, watching your candles burn slowly in the greedy solitude. You’ll have to eat all that food yourself, but you’re used to that, aren’t you? You didn’t prepare it with anyone else in mind, anyway. You’re so selfish.

I hope that every person who has endured your belittling, condescending, manipulative personality over the years will get to watch your slow, awkward, painful decline. I hope you starve and suffer no matter how many of our pumpkins you have stolen. And I hope that the pumpkins still in your grasp see you for the monster you are.

Is that why you do it, squash bugs? Do you know what a monster you are, yet you hate yourself for it, and your nastiness is a cry for help? Are you begging for attention, affirmation, acceptance?

You will never be accepted. There is no excuse for the things you have done so repeatedly. And any attention you get is, at best, pity.

You have hurt us for the last time, and the scars you have left will only cause us to fight back harder next year. Because you will not have the final word, not with my garden.

Squash bugs, you are just ugly, pathetic, desperate opposition to anything good and true and beautiful. 

And that eggplant makes your butt look enormously fat.

Run and hide. 

XOXOXO

Marie

our most favorite alfredo

I have loved alfredo sauce since I was a little girl, beginning with a shrimp-and-pasta dish I ordered at Red Lobster in maybe fourth grade. My friend Amber and I shared a birthday dinner there. We also wore matching plaid pleated skirts. I used those bendy rods to curl my hair and she wore real Keds. It was awesome. The alfredo flavor and creaminess left a lasting impression on me, and thereafter I ordered it at every single restaurant where I found it on the menu.

Around the third year of our marriage I learned to make it myself and played around with the details until Handsome and I became I am obsessed with the final product. He loves it. He craves it, asks for it, and moans and shivers when it appears on his plate. It is so simple to make but absolutely decadent. Cheesy, salty, thickish, creamy… And it pairs with everything. You can eat it on skinny little angel hair noodles or drizzled over savory filled crepes. It tastes amazing with grilled herbed chicken breast or seafood or, as we enjoyed it tonight, steak.

alfredo plate

 

Alfredo is probably our top choice for pizza sauce at the Lazy W, too. But the way we eat it is a far cry from the jar of thin white sauce you can buy on the pasta aisle. I have to admit, this is also light years ahead of what Red Lobster serves. Here’s our recipe.

A couple of notes: This comes together really quickly, so I suggest prepping the other elements of your meal first. The sauce tends to separate if you let it sit out too long. Also, the butter and two cheeses in the recipe make it pretty salty already, so I do not add any salt. And I am a bonafide salt FREAK. So there you go. Lastly, the following measurements yield about 2 cups of sauce, which because of its richness is more than it sounds like. And the whole thing quadruples well. Not that I ever quadruple anything for two people. That would be crazy.

 

alfredo ingredients

 

Basic Alfredo Sauce:

saute a little minced garlic in olive oil

add one stick of real butter and one half cup of heavy whipping cream

heat it almost to bubbly and as it blends and thickens, season with pepper and nutmeg

then remove from heat and add 1/2 cup parmesean cheese and 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese

stir it all really smooth with a wooden spoon and add immediately to your base dish (noodles, etc.)

 

And that’s it! Quick and simple.

Tonight I folded the aflredo saucein with about 10 ounces of penne pasta noodles, cooked not even to al dente. The noodles still had lots of bite left in them when I pulled them from their boiling water, because I wanted to finish it all off in the oven while our steaks were cooking. For the final few minutes of baking I sprinkled some extra mozzarella cheese on top. Just because.

 

rich alfredo sauce baked with penne pasta

rich alfredo sauce baked with penne pasta

 

How about you? Are you an alfredo aficionado? How else could you serve it with? What yummy recipes from your childhood are still fixtures in your life?

Thanks Mama Kat for a fun prompt! It totally helped me decide our side dish tonight.

mama kat image

Mama Kat’s Losin It

 

happy return to frontier bee club

Last night Maribeth and I attended the Frontier bee club meeting in Guthrie for the first time all summer. Both of us had missed the June and July meetings for different reasons, and both of us were so happy to finally return. Those are some of the nicest and most interesting people around, and the meetings are always informative and fun.

Last night, the crowd was about double in size (lots of new and prospective beekeepers in central Oklahoma, which is wonderful news) and our club president James and his sweet and playful wife Audra had organized two special events: a honey extraction demonstration and a honey tasting contest. YUM!

 

Scraping the capped honey off the frame, before the frame goes into the spinning extractor.

Scraping the capped honey off the frame, before the frame goes into the spinning extractor.

Fresh, raw honey drizzling into a clean bucket after the frames have been extracted. James told us a great story about introducing his grandson to the experience of casting his finger through the honey ribbon. "He's a fast learner," he said with measured pride.

Fresh, raw honey drizzling into a clean bucket after the frames have been extracted. James told us a great story about introducing his grandson to the experience of casting his finger through the honey ribbon. “He’s a fast learner,” James said with measured pride.

 

The taller gentleman on the left is Bob. Of all the lovely people at bee club, I have become especially acquainted with him and his wife Betty. Bob is retired from an industry that my husband’s team now regulates, so that’s an interesting coincidence. Bob borrowed my Papa Joe’s apiary journal a few months ago and pleased me right down to my bones with news of how much he enjoyed it. Last night Betty gifted me a wonderful Oklahoma Pioneer Chef cook book as a thank you, and I can’t wait to explore it. She is an avid gardener, too, so no small wonder I like her so much.

 

beeclub bob chuddie

The gentleman on the right is Chuddie. I’ve quoted him here several times. He is the club’s favorite “old timer” who is so generous with ideas, advice, practical inventions, and hilarious anecdotes and one-liners. He was, believe it or not, my great-grandfather’s beekeeping mentor back in the 1970′s. Chuddie clearly remembered Joe Neiberding when I first brought the apiary journal with me, and it just makes me feel wonderful in so many ways. Life can be beautifully full circle once in a while.

beeclub honey samples

 

I wish the honey tasting contest could have lasted all night. There were six samples, and each of them was so unique and wildly stimulating that I was almost in a panic. How could I possibly rank my top three favorites? How could I choose between the molasses flavor of one and the wildflower notes of another? Would you listen if I told you in detail how the colors affected me emotionally, and also the varying thicknesses? It’s far too much sensual beauty to be accepted in an assembly line moment. But I was happy to try anyway.

 

beeclub HONEY

 

Of course we still enjoyed the normal free flowing conversation and beekeeping Q & A, too. There was lots of chatter about what’s blooming in Oklahoma right now, how much honey people are harvesting (400 pounds from only 9 hives, one gentleman reported!) what’s next for the bees seasonally, how to trap hive beetles, where you can get glass jars on sale, ideas on combining weak hives before winter, foul brood versus chalk brood and their respective symptoms, the going price for raw, local honey, and so much more.

 

beeclub james speaking

 

Whew! The meeting just feels like a long, natural conversation, but when I step back and digest all the information shared, it’s a bit stunning. One of my favorite things to hear is this: “If you ask a room full of ten beekeepers how to do something, you will invariably get ten different answers.” So true! But I love it. Everybody is so gentle with their disagreements, and it is really fun to get a cross pollination of ideas and perspectives. James does a wonderful job facilitating the talk.

Oh! We also signed up to work shifts at the State Fair agriculture booth. So next month I’ll get to tell you all about that!

All of this, plus a long table of delicious snacks brought by all and at the end, the raucous door prize game. I contributed a big, heavy bag of garden fresh tomatoes. Several people did, in fact, and others brought treasures like fresh eggs, flower seeds, sacks of sugar, and these gorgeous home grown pears.

 

beeclub pears

 

These meetings are so worth the time and energy to get there. Why do we ever ever miss?

How did you spend your Tuesday evening? Are you tempted to venture into beekeeping? If you are a beekeeper already, how are your sweet ladies faring at the end of summer? Tell me everything.

We lived for honey… August said honey was the ambrosia of the gods
and the shampoo of the goddesses.
~Sue Monk Kidd in The Secret Life of Bees
XOXOXOXO

 

 

how to fall in love with running in 5 steps

If you’ve visited the Lazy W much this past year, then you know I love running. I fell in love with it almost two years ago and have been fumbling through my own mile-addicted adventure ever since.

Whether I am qualified to give you running advice is questionable, but without a doubt I can tell you all about how to get it under your skin. How to open your body and soul to the possibilities.

How to fall in love with one of the most beneficial things that you all by yourself can do in this life.

My very good friend & book club buddy Steph snapped this photo of me around mile 22 of last year's OKCM Marathon. I will never forget this feeling! xoxo

My very good friend & book club buddy Steph snapped this photo of me around mile 22 of last year’s OKCM Marathon. I will never forget the feelings from this day! xoxo

 

#1. Give it a fair shake. Brand new to running and already convinced you hate it? Please wait. Do not sell yourself short by struggling through one awkward, wheezing mile then declare running just isn’t for you. You know the millions of physical and mental benefits, right? Why did you start? Don’t you believe people who say that running makes them happier overall? Just get past the weird beginnings, trust me. My beginnings were extremely weird. And still I often need three miles to warm up for a five mile run. Even well seasoned ultra runners are known to say “Never judge a run by the first three miles.”
Three miles. That is about half an hour of warm up, and it is SO worth it! If you are even a little bit interested in this amazing new chapter of life, then please give it a fair shake. Nibble at it. Seek support. Try different methods. Get the long view and grow a funny bone, because you will make yourself laugh. A lot.

Also, wear funny message tees.

Also, wear funny message tees.

#2. Find your own running buttons and push them. Everyone is different. Running may seem painfully routine looking in from the outside, but there is a deep inner world there, a vast ocean of thought and feeling that you get to explore every time you lace up. (Maybe that’s why so many writers are also runners. Huh.)
And there are a hundred thousand variations for runners to discover. Do you listen to music, or keep the rhythmic silence? Run alone or with friends? Trail, track, or treadmill? Cold weather or hot? Morning, noon, or night? Try lots of different combinations until you discover your sweet spot, then max out! Enjoy yourself. Then shake things up again, enjoy some variety. Then go back to your reliable routines again. My favorite running blogger The Monican has lots of fun ideas to offer but always goes back to this smart mantra: You do YOU. Amen.

#3. Stock up on inspiration for a rainy day. Even deep into your own running obsession, far past your first big runner’s high, you’ll have dry days. You’ll have mornings when you had planned to run but WOW something else sounds better. Or you question the benefits. Or you just need new ideas. Be ready for those days by making little collections of motivational words, images, and info-graphics.
Ever heard of Pinterest? I have like three boards that revolve around fitness, but one in particular serves running alone. I refer to it when I can feel my feet dragging or my thoughts going negative. Maybe you’d rather have an old-fashioned vision board, complete with cork and push pins and glossy magazine pages! Know thyself and motivate thyself.

 

http://www.pinterest.com/greengoose/running-obsession/

Do you have a cool running board I might want to follow?

 

#4. Set a fun goal (or two or three) and make them known to loved ones. This is pretty standard advice offered for all kinds of new endeavors, and it almost sounds cheesy, but cheesy stuff tends to work! My advice for new runners who want to build enthusiasm? Look for a snazzy 5-K or a half marathon and register. Pay the money so you’re committed. Then on your calendar count the necessary training weeks backwards from the event date and pencil in your workout plan for every week. (Hal Higdon is a great source of advice for training.) And record what miles you run against that plan. Get consistent. Blab about it to your friends to the point they are mildly annoyed.
Last March I was close to burnout for different reasons, and had I not made my goal of “running my first full marathon at forty” so public to people who really love me, I might have backed out. I am SO GLAD I didn’t back out. What a sad thing that would have been. Concrete goals made public are effective!

#5. Always go one more. One more mile, one more song, one more lap, one more day… However you’re measuring your frustration at any given point, try going just one more past where you want to. Remember that running is largely in your head, maybe more so than in your body; so take every opportunity to strengthen your mind. It will improve your life in so many ways. Do more than what you think you can do. Over and over, bit by bit, you will be amazed.

 stopping is hard

 

So that’s my advice if you are thinking of a wonderful new running obsession but need the final nudge. If you do these five things: Give it a fair shake, find a groove, stay inspired, set goals publicly, and go beyond your own expectations… I am pretty sure you will fall in love with running. And running will always love you back.

And then we can grab some miles together sometime!

Now you tell me. If you’re a runner already, what advice would you give a newbie? If you need some nudging, what’s on your mind? What’s holding you back from starting, or what’s slowing you down?

Run while you can.
XOXOXOXO

 

friday 5 at the farm: bison trivia

Hello friends! We’re winding down another work week, and to cap off all the chores and cooking and cleaning and gardening and errands and bee stings and intense office hours (not for me obviously) and general toil, how about a quick Friday Five?

It occurs to me that not all of you have visited the actual dirt-and-hooves Lazy W, so you don’t know all of our animals personally. Well, in the coming weeks I’m gonna try to fix that. They are each so lovable and interesting, and we have learned so much just by living with and caring for them.

One of the most unusual creatures here is a young male bison. His name is Chunk-Hi, and he pretty much has us wrapped around his little hooves. Here are five things you might not know about bison, as taught to us by Chunk.

Our beloved Chunk-hi, male bison, four years old in this photo. Gentle giant. xoxo

Our beloved Chunk-hi, male bison, four years old in this photo. Gentle giant. xoxo

 

And yes, for the record, we usually call him a buffalo. It might not be scientifically correct, but we don’t get too worked up over that. We have more important things to fret over, like the cost of sugar for the welfare bees.

Okay.

Bison-buffalo facts:

#1. They start off as calves looking completely different! They are born with a gentle little hump, but still their body shape is much closer to a traditional cow compared to how they look as adults. And bison calves are a golden, caramelish, yummy bronze color, not dark and nearly black like they are later in life (thought that color scheme is also striking). I’ve always understood this coloring would help the babies stay concealed from predators in the golden prairie grasses that grow in this part of the country, their native land. Seems legit. Calves are woolly, curly, and 100% precious. Those eyes! They stay like this for several months, about as long as they nurse their mamas. In Chunk-hi’s case, it was about as long as we bottle fed him.

Jessica was almost 12 that summer and indispensable in helping me keep the bison calves full of milk! They learned to love the sight of the big plastic bottles and would suck on our hands for a long time after each feeding. Very sweet bonding time.

Jessica was almost 12 that summer and indispensable in helping me keep the bison calves full of milk! They learned to love the sight of the big plastic bottles and would suck on our hands for a long time after each feeding. Very sweet bonding experience.

#2. Buffs (see? I call them whatever I want) are skittish. Despite their enormous size and mass, despite how dangerous they can be, these animals have extremely fragile sensibilities. You can hurt their feelings by looking at them the wrong way, and especially young buffs will jump and bolt at a sudden noise. Our Chunk-hi has stiffened his nerves over time, but still it is not unusual to see him running for his life, high speed away from Mama Goose, who is basically a mean and bitter old woman. You can tell a buff is upset by watching his body langiuage. For example, and I do not know if this is true for regular cows, a tail raised stright up in the air is bad. Real bad. I call it the exclamation point tail, and it means he is on high alert, and you should be too. Just give him a cookie and stand your ground. Do not run. Walk slowly away, sideways if possible, without giving the appearance of retreat. Which brings me to my next point of bison trivia…

#3. They love cookies. I mean, LOVE them. We have an inside track to rejected Nabisco product, so every few months the farm is restocked with about a million packages of Oreos, Triscuits, graham crackers, you name it. Once upon a time I would eat a lot of that myself, but you know… Running. So now they all belong to our animals. Chunk’s favorite is probably Chips Ahoy, and I don’t blame him. Even slightly out-dated, those things are good. I’d pay big bucks to see him use his hooves to dunk a sleeve of cookies into a big bowl of milk. Visitors to the farm are usually game for feeding him sweet, crunchy treats, and they always get slobbered (bison are profuse slobberers) and sometimes gently bit.

Nabisco, if you are reading this, would you like to sponsor our farm? Our buff loves Chips Ahoy. So much.

Nabisco, if you are reading this, would you like to sponsor our farm? Our buff loves Chips Ahoy. So much.

#4. Bison also love to be loved. Like any creature, they need loads of affection and attention, and they also thrive on good philosophical conversation. Chunk loves to have his fuzzy, oblong ears stroked and scratched. He loves to have his eyes cupped and play gone-gone peekaboo. And he loves to press his massive forehead against the wire fencing so you can scratch him riiiiiight there, thank-you-very much. It helps that a bison will eat a big meal then go sit in a sandy wallow to digest it and perhaps chew some cud, because this is prime time to chill with him and just talk things over. Get it all out, you know? Catch up with each other. He is not in a hurry during cud time, and he appreciates you not being in a hurry, either. Sometimes he even lets you paint his horns fun colors.

Handsome was working in his car shop one winter afternoon when Chunk was probably three years old. The overhead door was open. Chunk snuck up him and was rewarded with colorful paint stripes. The look on his face. I cannot get ENOUGH of it!! xoxo

Handsome was working in his car shop one winter afternoon when Chunk was probably three years old. The overhead door was open. Chunk snuck up him and was rewarded with colorful paint stripes. The look on his face. I cannot get ENOUGH of it!! xoxo

#5. American Buffalo are shed machines. Each winter they grow these thick, truly impressive, impenetrable manes and full body coats of water-resistant, woolly fur. It keeps them warm and indifferent to the ice storms and heavy rains. Chunk actually seems to enjoy snow. When he was a baby he would run and flip around in it just like a kid. But when the days warm up, of course, this incredible heavy garment is a problem. So starting in the springtime he begins to let loose the fluff and we find great big heaps of it all over the farm. He rubs against trees, fences, and horses, much to their chagrin. He lets me scrape him with a plastic garden rake. And it hangs in tightly woven, continuous sheets off of his barrel belly. Native American legends tell us that if a bison “gifts” you his fur, in other words, if he releases it to your hands easily when you have not sought after it, then he is lending you his magic. And buffalo magic is very special. I’ll write more about that another time.

Chunk-hi's first winter. He had just sprouted little tiny buffalo horn buds! When I first posted this photo to my private Facebook page, people didn't know what he was. Someone guess a groundhog. : ))

Chunk-hi’s first winter. He had just sprouted little tiny buffalo horn buds! When I first posted this photo to my private Facebook page, people didn’t know what he was. Someone guessed a groundhog. : ))

 

Bison shed

Bison shed

 

So there you have it! Five things you might not have known about bison-buffs. Do you know any fun trivia you’d like to share? Do you have any questions we can try to answer? Have you been to the W and taken photos with Chunk? If so I would be SO HAPPY if you posted those to this blog’s Facebook page. How fun. We love collecting happy memories.

Thanks for joining me today! I wish you a beautiful, restful weekend filled with exactly what you need.

Tune in next week for Marathon Monday stuff, an Alfredo recipe, a chicken photo shoot, and more.

“You can lead a buffalo anywhere he wants to go.”
~old adage we try to never forget
XOXOXOXO

fields of gold

This song Fields of Gold by Sting has always spoken to me. Tonight while walking backwards on my running trail I glimpsed the west field in a moment when the sun just sliced through the prairie grass and wildflowers and set everything in my heart on its side. Or back on its feet, perhaps. Memories, hopes, every aspect of love just pulsed. I just stood there letting it pulse, watching the west winds move.

You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in fields of gold

So she took her love for to gaze awhile
Upon the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down
Among the fields of gold

Will you stay with me, will you be my love
Among the fields of barley?
We’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we lie in fields of gold

fields of gold

See the west wind move like a lover so
Upon the fields of barley
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth
Among the fields of gold

I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I’ve broken
But I swear in the days still left
We’ll walk in fields of gold, we’ll walk in fields of gold

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold

You’ll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold

When we walked in fields of gold
When we walked in fields of gold

~Sting, 1993