worry door cracked open

This is the door to our smoke house, which is actually more of a garden shed right now. The door was salvaged from a century-old Land Run house in northwestern Oklahoma, a property belonging to my husband’s family. I fell in love with the chipped milk paint (original, not fashioned in a trendy boutique), the heft of the door, the memories attached. Its hinges are rusted and the window opening is only covered by hand pleated drop cloth fabric stapled on, a band aid really, but it’s beautiful to me. I love how ivy grows around it and how it creaks and swells with rain. How difficult it is to open and close. You have to kinda lift and scoot it. At the threshold, mud collects and sometimes we find snakes and scorpions.

worry door

Most doors are easy to open and close. That’s the nature of most doors, to be used and used easily and often. But we barely use this outbuilding, at least not on a daily basis, so having a cumbersome but beautiful door here is fine.

Speaking of doors that aren’t supposed to open much…

Do you remember the Worry Door? The vision I had almost exactly three years ago of the big, thick door that was forcibly (but lovingly) sealed shut against a room containing all of my worst fears? Well, something strange and wonderful has been evolving here lately. The Worry Door has been cracking open, only to be either pushed shut in a spongy, gentle way (like we do this antique wooden door with the muddy scorpion-rich threshold) or maybe, sometimes, left just barely ajar.

Weird, right? After so many lessons on keeping it locked shut, no matter what?

Well, in the time since my first hard lesson that worry is wrong, I have been on a spiritual and emotional roller coaster. I’ve learned a lot not just about the direction to worry not and only trust but also about my own personal strengths and weaknesses, my own propensities and, honestly, addictions to negative thinking.

And you know something? I have made a ton of progress. I have literally broken my addiction to negative thinking, and now I kind of have a healthy aversion to it. When I am in the company of people who cannot resist bitterness or anger or something similar, I get itchy. My vision narrows and turns inward to sort of protect myself, you know? Like a filter. My heart can feel some fear but now I deal with it swiftly. My mind can be aware of horrible possibilities but sort through them and take action instead of simmering in awfulness and poisoning my reality. I’m learning how to magnetize for amazing things, not terrible.

For these changes I am so deeply grateful.

The reason it is now safe for me to sometimes leave the worry door cracked open is that I have learned how to funnel that previously dangerous energy into prayer and allow a healthy amount of fear to fuel my days instead of douse them. Does that make sense? This is such a far cry from how life was before the Worry Door vision. The world is expanding, in really tangible ways and in beautifully abstract ones, to so many possibilities. Imagination, prayers, faith, and exponential growth. Love is ruling everything, even the cracked open doors.

We have a lot going on in life, a whole lot of really heavy stuff that never makes it to this blog. Private struggles, family issues, church problems, seriously life altering stuff that Handsome and I never thought we would face. As cathartic as writing can be, I have so far felt like sharing most of it here is just not appropriate. We barely even discuss most of this stuff with our closest friends and loved ones, because we know by now that only prayer and trust will change anything. Talking about problems tends to grow them, you know? Still, some people know a little about what we are dealing with, and occasionally a well meaning friend will ask me a question like, “Well have you heard from…? How long has it been now?” And when I answer truthfully the look of shock or maybe disappointment in me as a person is pretty hurtful. Or maybe, in an incredulous tone, someone challenges me, “Well what if (this) happens? What will you do? What is your legal recourse? Aren’t you gong to do anything?” Surely from the outside some people may think me apathetic by taking less action than they would in my situation, but they don’t see how firmly I am trusting God. How excited I am by what is coming.

Maybe they don’t see that praying and believing is doing.

Yep, I know this sounds a little vague and for that I’m sorry, but it’s just an example of how your Worry Door can be cracked open by someone else. Despite your best efforts, sometimes other people will very nearly insist that you fret over stuff. They mean it with love, usually. They want what they perceive to be the best thing for you. Okay. And sometimes they could be projecting their own fear onto you. Trying to find solutions ahead of time in case the same tragedy befalls them later. That’s human nature. Don’t waste energy being mad about this, and please don’t let it end any otherwise good friendships; just learn how to field it.

One more thought, then I will leave you to your beautiful Sunday: Yoga has been a useful tool in this journey. Often in a sequence, the instructor of choice will offer advice to just acknowledge a toxic thought and let it pass. Spending too much energy resisting or battling opposition can sometimes heighten the threat. Instead, combat these moments with a flood of positive thought. Replace the What if this horrible thing happens with What if this amazing thing happens? Try that for a while and see if your outlook improves.

Love is far more powerful that you are by yourself. Learn to tap into the power of prayer and faith and stop relying on your own muscles to hold this door shut.

Deep breath. Balance. Center. Clear mind. Peaceful heart. Trust that Love is in control of everything and faith can move mountains.

XOXOXOXO

 

 

 

watermelon, life seasons, and making the details last

I have lost track of how many complete watermelons have made their sweet, juicy way into my belly since the beginning of summer. You’re not counting, are you? Good. Know that I appreciate that. A lot.

watermelon heart

Buying different striped behemoths, usually seedless but not always, is fun to begin with. Then hearing the treasure roll around in my Jeep during the drive back to the farm. Stashing it in the pantry where it can stay cool for a while. I love it. It’s summertime. This probably happens at least weekly, but we’re not counting, okay?

The watermelon cutting itself is the true ritual, though. I always stand to the left of my kitchen sink (everything must be scrupulously clean) with probably some French pop playing in the background. My favorite lately is Camelia Jordana. Give her a listen. I like for Klaussen to be near my feet if he doesn’t mind (he never does), and if I can be finished with all my work and possibly wearing three or four of my favorite necklaces while watermeloning, well, even better.

First I cut the gorgeous green thing in two right at the equator, leaving one half in the sink while I work on the other. With no hurrying at all, the fruit divides and divides again, over and over, tumbling back and rolling, and all the while I’m thinking about how miraculously cells divide and then time and sometimes people. And families or political parties. Friendships.

About how joy, when shared, is doubled but somehow grief is lightened.

Now slowly slicing the red meat away from the green rind in a curved, sliding motion, then slicing again lengthwise, then chopping, occasionally salting the juicy chunks and taking samples for my trouble. (Friends, it’s okay if you do not count the calories of watermelon chunks you eat while completing this lovely task. I’m pretty sure it’s a wash.)

From this location with my back to the rest of the house, I can see all the artsy treasures that surround the sink. Paintings, metal wind chimes, Mexican pottery. I can scribble things on the chalkboard to my left if a needed grocery springs to mind or I feel like remembering a poem. And I can gaze out to the herb garden. Right now this curvy little spot on the farm is jam packed with color. Buzzing and fluttering with pollinators. Just mesmerizing. Zinnias, roses, sage, basils, mints, daisies, cannas, crepe myrtles, sunflowers, strawberries, and more. One emerald green hummingbird visits a tall flower near the window screen every afternoon, when the day is baking hot.

chair w herbs

I love watermleon.

I love my little herb-and-flower garden.

I love being home and practicing thsese quiet rituals all by myself.

Sometimes, though, after rinsing a big, heavy watermelon, just when the tip of my knife first pierces the rind, a weird sadness washes over me. It’s the same feeling I sometimes get while enjoying the herb garden: A fleeting panic. Like the beauty I crave and need is temporary. The hard truth that soon watermelon season will be over and the zinnias and cannas will fade, and we will be on the sad slope toward another winter.

Nothing good lasts forever, is that what they say? All day every day I am thinking of my girls. Of how true it can be, that the days are long but the years are short.

But I cannot dwell there, emotionally. These past few years have taught me how to better control my thoughts, steer my feelings, and not only live in the moment but magnify it. Squeeze out every possible bit of joy from every gift.

Which is why watermelon slicing has become such a treasured ritual. I know it’s just food. But it’s a brief season and a glorious one, and I don’t want to rush through it. I want to enjoy every pink puddle of sticky juice. Every crunch and whistle of my blade, every empty rind that will eventually be offered to either some chickens or a horse.

If you are in love with something fleeting, whatever it is, I want to encourage you to slow down the enjoying of it. Gather your energies and shape your environment so that you can, without distraction, more fully experience that thing. That gift. The more you slow down and magnify the details, the more you have internalized it. The more it has become a part of you, so that when the season is over, you can recall it better and vibrate with the joy all over again. This way it will never be totally lost to you.

I miss my girls. I miss them hard and sad, happy and hopeful, but it’s okay. Our life seasons are constantly changing, and I know by now to appreciate exactly where we are, right this minute, in every detail.

So I cut the watermelon and grow the flowers and pray for them. Keep the Apartment ready. Smile at every diem I am given to carpe.

XOXOXOXO

healthy recipes lately

Hello, Happy Tuesday! The farm is blazing hot because, Oklahoma in July. I am not complaining, though, not one bit. I adore the heat and the abundant sunshine, even the glorious humidity. It feels like Florida or New Orleans this year. My mind and body are equal parts stimulated and at rest in this exact kind of weather.

I love the seductive pace of summer, too. In the afternoon and evening hours, we do as much swimming and deck lounging as possible, and for me this means so many books and naps and near misses with sunburns. By about 3 pm, the time we reach a thousand and a half degrees, all the day’s important work is done and we can relax a little. Or a lot. So basically, heaven.

By “we” of course, I mean Klaussen and me. : ) But yes, Handsome joins us as soon as his office work allows. haha…xoxo

I've started keeping pots of fresh herbs on a wooden table adjacent to the grill, which is adjacent to the new deck. I love the convenience for cooking our meals and the beautiful-ness for just enjoying.

I’ve started keeping pots of fresh herbs on a wooden table adjacent to the grill, which is adjacent to the new deck. I love the convenience for cooking our meals and the beautiful-ness for just enjoying.

 

It’s Tuesday, so the kitchen is on my mind. Today how about we chat over healthy eating? If you checked in here yesterday then you know I am happily refocused on weight loss and well being, and of course food has a lot to do with that. Like, a whole lot.

Let’s begin.

My friend Katie blogs at Dishin and Dishes, and back in January she provided the most perfect recipe for roasted garbanzo beans (aka chick peas). I LOVE it! And I have been making these periodically ever since. Click here to see the instructions for yourself. Bottom line: she suggests some flavorful heat, and she gives us good technique advice to keep the little treasures from burning. Try it. Here is one of my batches. Makes my mouth water just looking at the photo:

spicy roasted garbanzo beans

spicy roasted garbanzo beans

I’ve been looking for higher-protein and higher-fiber alternatives for side dishes, and lentils came to mind. I don’t know why but in my mind a veil of mystery has always surrounded this particular food, so it took me all these years to finally try it. Realizing how quickly and easily lentils cook was a huge, silly relief. One day recently I cooked them in some rich, flavorful chicken stock instead of water then to the lentils added chopped mushrooms, some steamed broccoli, and about a cup of slow cooked, shredded chicken. All of this made a hugely satisfying meal. Really good. Quite healthy. So yummy. And lentils are so inexpensive! I will be doing this a lot more often. So good and versatile. This link was helpful. Last night I used cooked lentils as an alternative to both a starchy side dish and salad dressing, and I wasn’t sorry. It was filling, salty, yummy, and just moist enough to make the lemony kale really really good. Try it!

Just boil a quarter cup of dry lentils in either a broth of your choice or salted water. Simmer until tender, maybe ten minutes? Then drain. So good. Cheap and simple, really nutritious too. Completely eliminates the need for heavy salad dressings and filling enough to also replace potatoes or rice as a side dish.

Just boil a quarter cup of dry lentils in either a broth of your choice or salted water. Simmer until tender, maybe ten minutes? Then drain. So good. Cheap and simple, really nutritious too. Completely eliminates the need for heavy salad dressings and filling enough to also replace potatoes or rice as a side dish.

As a delicious main dish idea, perhaps an occasional sub for red meat? I want to encourage you to try making chicken-zucchini poppers. They are basically just baked meatballs made with ground chicken and bound together with nothing more than shredded zucchini. Talk about a lot of protein for very little calories or fat! And super flavorful. Different. Refreshing. I have made a hundred variations of this recipe since first trying it back in June, and in fact this was my dinner again tonight. (I make these for myself when steak is on the menu for Handsome. Tonight he got a nice ribeye.) Chicken-zucchini poppers are just so versatile. One Lovely Life provided the inspiration, so thank you Emily! Here is her recipe. Below is one of my first attempts. This particular incarnation had chopped mushrooms in it, too, and I ate just a few of the poppers on top of a big green salad with a hard boiled egg. VERY filling.

chicken zucchini poppers on a big salad

chicken zucchini poppers on a great big, beautiful salad

So, trying to eat healthfully does not mean we never have a sweet tooth, but thankfully the internet is full of smart chefs who are more than willing to share their recipe modifications with us. Below are a few “cookie” ideas that were big hits with me for different reasons. Sorry I don’t have any photos of these experiments. Just take that as evidence for how devour-able they all are.

  • Healthy Oatmeal Apple Raisin Cookies Really good. Moist, chunky if that’s your jam, and made with whole ingredients, most notably diced raw apples. The only downside is that they do not really “firm up” much, you know? They absorb humidity like mushy little beasts, so you might want to plan to serve them all at once. I don’t know. But they taste a lot like apple pie and are crazy nutritious, so I’ll keep this in my pocket for those kinds of cravings.
  • Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies SO GOOD. On the complexity scale, this recipe is exactly the middle of these three. Visit her website for a few fun seasonal variations.
  • Two-Ingredient Cookie For real you guys. Two ingredients is all you need, bananas and oats, which are not risky for your diet! Add stuff if you must, then enjoy. Please try these. Kids and adults all love them. I am about to hit publish then go make a batch of these with pecans and craisins. This recipe actually does keep really well, so I like having a batch of them available throughout the week. Excellent afternoon snack or dessert with some ice cold almond milk.

Soon I will share a post all about healthy food basics I keep on hand every week to prevent or cope with those inevitable hunger emergencies. Spoiler alert: hard boiled eggs, salad, and fresh fruit.

hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, and a crisp green salad

 

Okay, that’s it for tonight! I would be so happy if you shared a link to some healthy recipes you’ve tried recently. Or tell me something you like to serve yourself or your family that is really nourishing. Something satisfying and good for you. Something genius,okay?

Happy summering, Oklahoma. You’re gorgeous and steamy. Happy eating everyone. Thanks for checking in, friends.

“Healthy is not an accident, a gift, or a rabbit’s foot. It is a HABIT.
It is a habit that will shape the bodies that we were born with,
a habit that will support the genetic makeup we got from our parents.”
~Cameron Diaz, The Body Book
XOXOXOXO

motivation monday

Hey friends! Happy Monday to you, in every possible way! I hope you enjoyed a fantastic weekend and have arrived at the top of this new work week brimming with energy, purpose, and all the good, strong resources you need. I hope today was wide open for you and that in turn you sucked all the marrow out of its bones.

#carpediem

For a while now, Mondays on the blog have been reserved for marathon talk. Or at least running reflections. But I have decided to open up the reach of “Marathon Monday” to include all kinds of motivation because, let’s face it, at least for yours truly marathon season is only about three months long, once or twice a year. But we need motivation all the time, right? Twelve out of twelve months, baby. We need motivation for health, fitness, finances, and all sorts of big, personal goals.

So… Welcome to Motivation Monday #1!

How things are going here, fitness-wise: I have very recently experienced a little slowing in my fitness progress. Nothing crazy. But it’s still a bit frustrating, especially after such a noticeable surge in health, speed, and leanness in those few weeks following the April race. These past couple of months I have just yo-yo’d more than is satisfying for me. Don’t you ever make a big, positive leap forward with something hard, get excited, then extrapolate that achievement in your mind, like, If I can lose this many pounds in three weeks, just imagine what I can do in three months! Or maybe, I saved this many extra dollars this month, so in a year I’ll most definitely have a small fortune! It’s not just me, right? I am easily motivated by success and tend to set unrealistic goals following a good little season. Which makes reality, when it is less than what you expect, kinda disappointing.

This current plateau, if that’s what it is, should honestly be chalked up to how thoroughly I am enjoying summertime. How many tortilla chip dinners and late night ice creams (have you ever had a pineapple vanilla sundae from Sonic?) and hot dogs poolside with visiting teenagers are being devoured. I am definitely in the camp of people who can eat healthfully and workout like a maniac over and over again, day after day, until a special occasion rolls around. Social gatherings and basically any really happy time is just a natural reason excuse for me to eat all the delicious, happy foods my mind and body love so much. So I’m an emotional eater, just only at happy times instead of stressful. Kinda makes the whole seek happiness thing a bit of a twisted message. (haha)

So that’s the bad-but-certainly-not-terrible news. I have compromised my own goal-reaching by too many high-calorie snacks. Probably means this isn’t a plateau, right? Probably means I am just just behaving somewhat badly.

Alongside this, though, is the good news: I have been exercising a lot and staying active and happy every day, trying new workout routines that include free weights, yoga, long HIIT videos like Jillian Michaels, tons of swimming, and more. Physically I feel great. I see improvements with strength, flexibility, all-day energy levels, etc. It’s just the actual pounds and certain vanity-appearance things that haven’t changed much. Apparently the fat I have left to lose is the hardest and slowest obstacle for women. Blah-blah-blah. Oh well.

I love pears. Usually.

I love pears. Usually.

My Plan: I talked all of this over with Handsome (he is not only my best friend; I also value his knowledge of physiology a lot) and did some reading about plateaus and calorie needs and overall nutrition. Long story short? I am going to keep with my fun exercise freedom, enjoying whatever my body craves from day to day, and not get stressed out about a laborious schedule because there’s plenty of time for that in the last leg of marathon training. And we’re still in summertime! I’ll also, though, finally mix in more long runs, something I have been missing since April. Endurance running is wonderful for shrinking oneself. And as I have said so many times, the depletion feels amazing mentally, too. Win-win. I’m also going to try different weight strategies for a few weeks, see how that feels, and (of course) indulge in fewer tortilla chips and pineapple sundaes.

(This last part will not be easy, so light candles for my skinny jeans.)

Attitude Adjustment: Really, I am so happy to be able to enjoy life in every way and still make tiny little bits of progress with my personal goals. It’s a pretty great balance, and I have to take a minute to acknowledge that these efforts are in fact working; they are just working at the same slow, easy pace that I am. (again with the haha) It’s not really time to get frustrated and radically change everything; it’s just time to keep going. Trust that with a little bit better effort, my path will get me where I want to go.

What about you? What goals are you striving to reach that maybe seem further away than you’d like? Is it possible you are making progress, be it ever so slow? Let me encourage you to keep at it, no matter what it is. Maybe reevaluate to make sure the goal is still worthy of your attention, still serving you, then reexamine your methods and take a deep breath. Start fresh or regather your energies and resources and just keep going. I bet you are getting there, slow though it may seem. Remember what you want most and keep a long view. Be patient, persistent, and positive.

Thanks for checking in, friends! See you soon for kitchen notes, farm updates, and more.

XOXOXOXO

 

walk on the wild side

So my work week at home started with something new and exciting and momentarily terrifying.

Klaus (our new German Shepherd pup) ventured into the buffalo field and walked like No big deal Mom, don’t worry! along the fence line, with Chunk-Hi immediately in front of him. I was dragging our trash bin down the gravel driveway for Tuesday morning pickup, and I guess Klaus thought a walk on the wild side was in order. I mean, who wouldn’t rather walk with a buffalo than a gritty-faced lady dragging trash? I know. He’s no dummy.

Eventually our hulking bachelor bison, now tired of his small, hyperactive field mate, turned back toward where Klaus was following, gave him a baritone chuff and a gentle little hoof-stomp, just a warning. He squared off his big horns and just stared so hard, and Klaus stopped and stared back for like one second. Maybe less.

Okay, bye then! Klaus barked cheerfully, and he spun around. My sweet pup wanted to be back on the safe side all of a sudden, and I was glad. He started trotting that long, low slung body away from the buff and only looked over his shoulder once. I watched warily, abandoning my trash chore.

Although Klaus is plenty small enough to fit through most of the open grids in the bison fencing, for some reason he was devoted to the idea of exiting far away, through a large, curled gap in the fence uphill, where he had entered. Right near the cattle gate which I affectionately refer to as our False Sense of Security. I called to him a million times and air-kissed enthusiastically, hoping to lure him out the side of the pasture sooner, but he just kept on trucking in the sand, side-eyeing me with that big, toothy grin and long tongue dripping out of the side of his perfect, leathery alligator mouth. He looked so proud to be in the buff’s field, like a big boy. Like, he didn’t even need me! Chunk gained on him a little more, slowly but surely. Just walking.

Klaus! Come ON! I am BEGGING you! I climbed the fence, never mind for a moment my unmatched swim suit and completely un-cowgirl-like cotton wrap, and hoped my flip flops would not betray me during the rescue mission. Chunk was way more interested in me joining the party than in Klaus leaving, and so was Klaus. It confused everyone’s priorities. The boys were both aiming for and gaining on me and all I could think about was cutting open the watermelon waiting patiently for me in the kitchen sink.

In a stroke of pure Universal Magic and Delight, Klaus bolted for me just as I swung my second leg over the wooden brace and hopped down and also just as Chunk brought his swagger up to a bounce. Klaus did his normal celebratory pouncing and licking, which I had to cut short for obvious reasons. In a moment, the pup and I exited ungracefully and I gave the buff so many head scruffs in appreciation of him not smashing anyone to smithereens today. He accepted said scruffs, bellowed once, and turned away to go see what this trash bin business was all about.

chunk b&w eyes

So the event ended peacefully. We all lived to go for multiple thunderstorm swims, feed the four-leggeds more hay, and collect a ton of fresh eggs. (Finally!) The trash eventually made its way to the road, and so far Klaus has not reentered the front field.

klaus smiling

Signing of now to finally go cut open that watermelon.

The End.
XOXOXO

 

 

 

7-11 reading links

Whoa Nellie, it’s Saturday! Yesssss. Happy weekend, friends. Handsome and I are at the tip-top of a week-long Stay-Cation, so we are feeling pretty great. This is a much-needed break from all things Commish for him and some much-needed down time for us together. I have stocked the kitchen to her chalkboard-painted gills with all our favorite edibles, and Klaus and I have done as much of our farm chores ahead as possible. Hopefully this will help us do lots of swimming and bonfiring and eating lazy meals. Minimal work for the next eight days. Fun projects only, please!

By the way, the reason we took off this week is that it’s our wedding anniversary. Fourteen amazing years. : ))

Since it’s Saturday, I have gathered up a collection of things worth reading. I hope you find something here that grooves you. Leave me a link in comments if you have discovered something else!

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Frida Kahlo’s life was tumultuous and sad and inspiring in wild ways. This list distills it nicely into lessons we should consider.

Since I am forever evaluating and analyzing how I spend my time, this article about the human body’s energy clock really spoke to me. And the infographic is great.

human-body-energy-clock

Also related to how we spend our time, Neil deGrasse makes some brief comments here about why balance is maybe overrated. I groove this. A lot! Life is such a constant roller coaster, it’s nice to just follow the rhythm and extreme demands sometimes. Nice to let the challenges strengthen us instead of deplete us.

This particular Ted talk made me cry happy tears. If you are a parent, or a mentor, or a teacher, but especially if you are a parent, give it a few minutes, okay? I happened to absorb this story right around my trip to visit Jocelyn in Colorado, and my heart is still thrumming from the Love. Malala’s father on not clipping her wings. xoxo

More love: Chances are good that a lot of my friends have already seen this next one, but I am sharing it anyway because it’s so beautiful. Ann Voskamp wrote this handful of brave things to keep in your pocket for hard days in a hard world. These are the kinds of things I pray to my girls (yes I pray to God of course, but I send them prayer emails, sort of, to their hearts, through Him), but as usual Voskamp has articulated it all so well. And you don’t have to be a young girl to benefit from this Love and wisdom. Check it out.

Here is my baby, a woman already, clipping wild sage for me to bring back home. I miss her so much, and yet I feel her right here against my arm and can smell her too. xoxo

Here is my baby, a woman already, clipping wild sage for me to bring back home. I miss her so much, and yet I feel her right here against my arm and can smell her too. xoxo

Now for some health talk. I ran across this article by SkinnyMom that explains a concept brand new to me. Have you ever heard of “Ayurveda?” Basically, it’s mindful eating. Really, spiritual, truly culinary… Mindful eating. The notion kept my attention because sometimes I crave certain foods with more than my taste buds; sometimes I feel an actual need deep in my muscles and bones, and after eating that food, especially if I do so slowly and in a healthy way, I feel amazing. Better than good. And happy. Give it a read and let me know if you think it’s smart or weird.

Tina over at Carrots and Cake is a lot of fun, and she has a pretty gorgeous (and healthy!) figure. She promotes realistic living, nothing extreme, which is so great. I started following her around the Boston Marathon for obvious reasons (it was her first, congrats, lady!) and have stayed because she shares so many wonderful ideas for food and exercise. But this? This blog post was profound. And before you dismiss me because you don’t think fitness blogs can be profound, just click over and scan down to about the middle. The Reason Why I Always Want to Work Out is not about mania; it’s about gratitude. Read it and count your blessings. Then go work out.

Okay. I’m outta here! I’ve got some Stay-Cationing to do!!
And some 14th Anniversary Romance to Enjoy!!
XOXOXOXO
p.s. It’s free Icee day at 7-Eleven!!

 

 

 

happy birthday to the world’s best gardening grandpa

Yesterday was my Grandpa Rex’s birthday. I called him and interrupted a lively game of Gin Rummy between him and his long time lady friend Miss Judy Jones, as he calls her sweetly. Apparently she wasn’t faring too well, and he was delighted. I asked him how old had he turned this birthday? He replied that while it was a good day for a birthday, he only knew he was more than thirty this year. I remarked on what a coincidence that was, because so was I, and he said we matched. He was very much himself yesterday, at least over the phone. I was so glad he knew my voice and my name.

Grandpa is the one who taught me to love gardening. He imparted so much knowledge and passion that I cannot imagine gardening without his voice and hearty laugh in my head. Even well into his retirement years, growing things has been a thrill for him. He has never been short on amazement, and I wish this for everyone.

To celebrate his birthday, here are some gardening memories of Grandpa Rex. xoxo

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When I was a little girl my maternal grandparents lived only a few blocks from our house. I was more or less free to walk and bike there any time I wished, which was a lot. Grandma kept me full of all the sweets that were otherwise scarce in my health-conscious Mom’s kitchen. And she let me grind up blue, pink, and purple sticks of chalk to play with “makeup” when clearly I was too young for the real stuff. Grandma and Grandpa Stubbs’ house was clean, orderly, and happy, a total paradise of love and slow-paced indulgence. Of all the many pleasures and comforts there, of all the habits and memories I have carried into my adult life, the most precious to me are what came from their garden.

Grandma and Grandpa kept several different gardens around their Oklahoma City home. In the front was a thick, lush, densely shaded space filled with massive elephant ears, complex ground-covering ivies, and a tall, arching tree that seemed to me like a living person. I remember having our Easter portraits taken beneath it, and I remember many climbs up that mossy hill excited to open Christmas gifts indoors. Their front yard was stately and organized, every shade of green and white. I was always proud and happy to arrive there.

Their backyard, in contrast, was a wide expanse of soft, green, sun-drenched grass where the five of us kids (plus cousins, eventually) played and played for years. On one side of the lawn there was an ancient and long-dead tree trunk where grapevines grew tall and heavy. I dubbed that the Elephant Tree for reasons I forget now. More elephant ears grew back here in the shade, beneath the grapevines, and it is only as I type that that it becomes obvious why we might have called that the Elephant Tree.

There was a narrow path around that side of the house where basil, lemon balm, and mint billowed out in massive heaps right near the big air conditioning unit. I clearly recall the sounds of that machine, the humidity, and the fragrance of the herbs all braided together like one experience. A necessary combinaton. I would “hike” around that corner, pretending like that sweet, sharp veil of fragrance was a threshold to an alternate reality, then explore the brick path beyond which was basically forbidden to the younger kids. I had a grove of twiggy shrubs there that was ideal for acting out Indiana Jones adventures. That was also where more than a few times I found nests of bird eggs and dead squirrels. Stuff unfit for younger siblings’ eyes.

The other long side of the backyard was in full sun and ruffled with every color of poppy, hollyhock, larkspur, zinnia, marigold, and canna. I knew those names even then because Grandpa was patient and loving enough to teach me. In fact he almost insisted that I learn them. There was a mimosa tree with a single rope swing hanging from one elegant branch. My cousin Jen and I would play there endlessly, brushing each other’s young faces with the pink and white powder puff blooms, climbing the slender tree, ruling the universe in our little girl ways. Mildly drunk on the heady mimosa perfume.

The back of the urban lot, though, was the masterpiece. Grandma and Grandpa planted and maintained a vegetable garden that was, to me, the most beautiful and impressive thing I had ever seen. Even as a little girl I was stunned by not just the presentation of their work but the production. It sure seemed like every day of every year we were eating something delicious from that deep, wide swath of earth. I have images in my head of Grandma’s hands holding heavy tomatoes and of Grandpa pulling onions. He was, every time, so excited! They loved it all so much. Grandpa gave hearty belly laughs at every little garden victory. Their enthusiasm was more infectious than I could have imagined.

Surrounding the unfenced vegetable garden, there was a cottage-like shed at one end. This was more or less forbidden to all of us kids (even me, the oldest and wisest and best) because of black widow spiders and who knows what else. Then there was the stockade fence behind the garden, with silvery arcs of water stains from years of sprinkler action, and a chain-link border on the third side which barely separated us from the neighbors. Even with the flowering borders and comfortable middles, the vegetable garden out back was all I could stare at from the house and covered patio. A perfect destination for my eyes and heart, and now I see that the sight shaped me completely.

Grandpa had divided the big space into several smaller rectangles and carved straight paths between them all. An elongated grid. For many years those paths were lined with salvaged pieces of marble, remnants from some old flooring project I suppose, and I loved and hated those things passionately, in equal measure. I loved those marble slabs, of course, simply because they were there. They were part of my most favorite place, and they were so beautiful. Dark gray with swirls of blue and silver. Smooth. Hard. Perfect in many ways. But I hated them because in the fierce Oklahoma summertime they were so HOT. They were blazing hot. We all scalded the tender bottoms of our bare feet numerous times. And on watering days they were, of course, slicker than anything. No running! We heard that hundreds, maybe thousands of times.

The ways that Grandma and Grandpa’s gardening affected me are just too numerous to list. I feel them with me every season, in almost every task. I wonder constantly how I measure up and hope their aesthetic and knowledge have been transferred to me at least halfway.

Now I have a mimosa tree that has grown up basically as a weed but it is so like my grandparents’ specemin that I cannot bring myself to cut it down. And anytime I see dead tree trunks here at our farm I only want to grow grapes on them so some happy child will give the thing a nickname. Where we have a big air conditioning unit, can you guess what I’m growing? Lemon balm and mint and basil. What else? And where I have shade there are elephant ears, unless the chickens peck them dead. The sunny spots have cannas like theirs and zinnia instead of larkspur, for now. I want children to fall in love with what grows here and learn their names and remember in detail the smells and sounds and feels of our space.

I want to offer them heavy tomatoes and happy memories.

veg

Probably my sweet grandparents worked all those years in their gardens for their own pleasure (I hope they did!) as well as for their health. Maybe you do too, as do we all. I have no idea whether they knew then what an impression they were making. But they never stopped their work. They “puttered around,” as they called it, every single season, together. They actually made it seem more like play than work, which had to be most of the allure. I have no memory of them deciding it was just not worth it anymore, despite how tricky Oklahoma’s growing conditions can be. And I was definitely watching.

So on the days or in those seasons where gardening seems too hard or maybe not worth it, consider the kids who are watching you and the future gardeners you could be impressing with knowledge and passion. Know that even what you see as the ugly parts of your space (like the forbidden twiggy brick path I loved) might be a paradise for someone. And that someone may love you even more for having shared it.

Happy Birthday Grandpa.
Thank you for being a gardener in front of me.
XOXOXOXO

 

 

marathon monday: a super fun runners’ quiz

Howdy! Happy Monday-After-a-Holiday! We had an amazing weekend here at the Lazy W and are ready for everything these new days bring us. Work that matters, good food, Shark Week on TV. All of it. I hope this finds you healthy and motivated for a fresh, new week yourself.

Today for Marathon Monday I am snagging this fun idea from Janae, the hardcore, effervescent, and really speedy Hungry Runner Girl. It’s just a running quiz. 20 easy questions. A fun way to get better acquainted with each other aaaaaaannnnnnnd perhaps motivate Yours Truly to get back out there for some much-needed miles. Let’s do this.

 

1.  Would you rather run along a beach path or on a mountain trail? I’d love to go on a nice, long run that includes both, but if you’re making me choose then I’d take the mountain path for sure because hills are what I crave most. Then I’d drive back to the beach with a book and a cooler full of icy diet coke to recuperate.

2.  If you could choose the flavor of Gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be? Do they make cherry limeade flavor? That sounds delicious.

3.  If I gave you a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it? Compression socks (dying to try these) and a new phone case/arm band, hopefully one that is tight enough on my skinny arm. That is, assuming I already have a fresh pair of great shoes.

I am in love with Brooks Pure Flow. Running shoes are literally the only garment in my life for which I care about the label. And I care about it a lot. So much.

I am in love with Brooks Pure Flow. Running shoes are literally the only garment in my life for which I care about the label. And I care about it a lot. So much.

4.  Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run? I guess a plan is best. I have enjoyed this recent hiatus and the freedom to enjoy other types of exercise, but life is so busy that not having a running-training plan often means I just don’t run, no matter how much I want to. Back at it this week though!

5.  Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill or start your run with the downhill and end with the uphill? The latter. Start downhill to build momentum then climb-climb-climb!

6.  When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do? Elliptical, lots and lots of yoga, and different HIIT videos with light weights (15#). I like Jillian Michaels lately. Also, 8-minute-abs and time with the foam roller. Although those barely count as “working out,” they do feel good and make a difference in my body.

7.  What is your preference—>  Out and back, point to point or loop runs? Oh man. Every type of run has its joys and benefits. I started a couple of years ago with millions of tiny loops, so I know that works for me. But I do find myself craving out-and-backs a lot. Especially in beautiful new locations.

8.  If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be —> Good shoes as soon as your budget allows (see above). And good earbuds for music, too.

9.  Do you ever see any wild animals while out on your runs? When I run here at the farm, of course, I see the llamas out back. They’re not wild but they are curious. Sometimes I see deer in the adjacent forest. Once the buffalo got out of his pen and was wrecking everything while I was running in the back field. The horses tried to get my attention for this but I was in the zone and not easily distracted. That was a scary way to enter the barn, all full of endorphins and still listening to loud music. And I am still keeping my eyes open for Oklahoma’s Sasquatch.

sasquatch

10.  Ever gotten lost while out on a run? Thankfully, miraculously, no. Which is amazing because getting lost while driving used to kind of be my jam. (Ask Handsome.) I once went running wild in the downtown streets of Austin, Texas, and up and down the river there, and even located coffee afterwards and then my hotel room with no problems. Yay for GPS!

11.  If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days… what would that meal be? I love this question. My answer is: watermelon, cottage cheese, and a dark green salad loaded with raw, crunchy veggies.

12.  Capris or shorts… what do you run in most often? Capris when I am in public and shorts when I am alone.

13.  At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it is warming up and ready to go? I usually feel stiff and caged in for the first mile, fussy and clumsy the second, and marginally better by the third. I think it’s always mile four when I actually feel like I’m warmed up and ready to start working.

14.  What do you do with your key when you run? I loop it through a snap on my phone case and just keep a death grip on the whole thing. I recently tried tying it in with my shoelaces but was a nervous wreck the entire run, constantly checking to make sure it was still there. Every little stick or pebble I kicked made me think the key was gone forever. Very distracting! LOL

15.  If you could relive any race that you have done in the past, which one what it be? Hmm. I don’t know about relive, but for so many reasons I would like to redo this year’s OKC Memorial Marathon, my second full. I made tons of mistakes. Then again, it was such a valuable learning experience. So no, let’s leave it alone. Instead, let’s relive that Zombie 5K obstacle course that was so much fun! Before our starting gun, a zombie sprang out of the woods and terrified me so bad I bolted ahead of my running group, alone into the woods. It was pretty funny and set the tone for the whole race. I had a BLAST. And I think it was in 2014, just a week after my first full, which was a good run, so I was still feeling really strong and happy. Yes to reliving great memories.

zombie run

16.  What type of run is your least favorite type of run? Any run, no matter the distance, when I feel like I am in a rush to finish because someone is waiting on me or there is a tight schedule. It stresses me out and makes me feel guilty for running at all. I often skip a few planned miles just to get back home. Which puts me in a bad mood. For this reason I tend to grab my miles after my most important chores are done but as early in the day as possible.

17.  What has been your biggest motivation lately to get out the door to get your run on? Slimming back down (I gained some weight during this past marathon training) and just plain ol’ stress relief.

18.  When you go for a run, do you leave right from your front door or do you drive somewhere to start? If I run here at the farm, it’s a short walk downhill to the back field loop. Otherwise I drive between 8-10 miles to one of a few different nearby tracks. We have amazing hills in our area that I crave so hard, but it’s just not safe to run straight-out. Because, you know, Sasquatch.

19.  When running in daylight—>  are sunglasses a must or an annoyance? A must. For sure, must. If I run at daybreak or sunset, even if I don’t really need sunglasses, I still feel weird without them on my face.

20.  When you get tired, what keeps you from quitting? I hate that feeling of having not completed the miles I said I would. Another reason the training plan/commitment is effective for me. My friends on social media may tire of it, and for this I’m a little bit sorry, but it definitely helps me stay on track. No pun intended. : ))

Capture29-403x275

Okay, that was fun! Now if you are a runner, please answer some of these questions below in comments! I’d love to know more about your style and habits. It’s so interesting to me. Thanks for sharing these questions, Janae!

Now I am off to do those most important chores and grab some miles before the week gets hectic. Hope your Monday is fantastic.

Run while you still can.
XOXOXOXO

friday 5 at the farm: short stories

#1. Around lunchtime on Thursday Klaus followed me to the front field, using his sharp puppy teeth to help carry the garden hose, which was already running cold and strong with crystalline well water. We were on a mission to rinse and refill the water trough there, but Chunk-Hi looked so baking hot and dry that our mission quickly changed. I called our sweet buff over to where we stood in the shade, and he mosied then posed for his hose down. His summertime bath. One of his favorite things in the world next to Oreo cookies and having his wooly fur peeled off his rib cage. Klaus watched with great curiosity, or maybe envy, because the pup too loves to be hosed down. As I sprayed first Chunk’s thick black mane and terrible, chipped horns, then his massive neck and shoulders, then his tall, serious backbone, his bath ran down in shiny rivulets looking more like Yoohoo chocolate drink than water. Red clay rinsed off his body and he shook, shook, shook, just like a puppy, until only silver beads remained caught in those dense front locks. I rinsed his split hooves and he turned so I could get his other broad side. He lifted his skinny tail and I sprayed him everywhere he asked me to. Meanwhile Klaus was belly down, long legs splayed out in all four directions of the map, surrendered to the cool dirt beneath that oak tree, our Talking Tree. Roosters chased hens somewhere behind us. A horse snuffled contentedly. And I was so happy to be home.

 

#2. These cookies make me unreasonably happy. They have so much strong bite for munchy, snack-craving teeth and they taste sweet and cinnamony, like apple pie, but they are pretty healthy. Made with largely wholesome ingredients and super filling. Okay, commercial is over. Go make them for yourself!

whole wheat-apple-oatmeal breakfast cookie

whole wheat-apple-oatmeal breakfast cookie

 

#3. Katelyn, Dillon, and I walked downhill toward Wedding Meadow. We were scouting a clearer vision for their ceremony. First our feet swished through the green clover of the middle field, then they crunched through the prairie grass out back. Clouds veiled the morning’s brutal sun and a very welcome cool breeze sliced across our path. The bride and groom chatted happily and measured one thing after another, their easy conversation bringing the natural landscape to life in my mind. Every tree shimmered green and lively into a mirage of white satin and floral drapes, twinkle lights and loving vows. Their date is just two months away, and we are so excited.

Wedding Meadows at sunset...xoxo

Wedding Meadow at sunset…xoxo

 

#4. Miss Red Dot has abandoned her maternal duties wholesale. A few days ago I placed her in the freshly cleaned Hatching Highrise with about two dozen uncollected eggs plus all the materials she would need to make a lovely little home for herself and her foster chicks (hay, grass, and fresh herbs). The first day she did fine. I found evidence of nesting and saw that she was eating scratch and drinking cold water normally. Then the next morning when I opened the front hatch to replace her water and add more grain, she flew out at me violently, in a big storm of wide-eyed panic. I looked at the eggs, scattered now, no longer in their grassy bowl of protection, and also saw that Red Dot had been busy peeling away the double-layer chicken wire we had stapled over one window. In addition to trying to remove it, she had also been trying to evacuate herself through one of those hexagon shapes, stretching and bending it, a feathered prisoner escaping from a tiny Alcatraz. A few of those hexagons were quite baggy already. That’s how you know a hen is unhappy: She risks strangulation trying to escape. Also? I had never before seen a hen successfully remove stapled-in wire mesh. She may not have natural brooding instincts, but she’s also no dummy.

 

#5. Friday morning. We tried to sleep late but Klaus thought that idea was silly. So before 5:30 a.m. on his day off, Handsome leads our little trio outside for Hot Tub Summit. Beach towels and perfect coffee in hand, last night’s moon still glowing blurry and mischievous through the last traces of storm clouds, we creep across the dewy south lawn and welcome the holiday weekend. Our feet leave pearly, lustrous tracks in the green carpet, and the sky is already changing from moody bruised colors to clearer ideas about pink and blue, more summertime cotton candy promises. That little elbow of woodsy garden near the hot tub is our own small Emerald Forest. Deep and dark, dramatic and cool almost any time of day, it boasts bigger leaves and stranger nuances of green than anywhere else on the farm. We brainstorm together about how to spend our day, and the birdsong as we chat is thrilling. Enthusiastic, already turned up to a high volume so that surely no one is sleeping late on this beautiful morning. I soak and smile and press into my heart the gratitude of the moment and also the gratitude of how many prayers have been answered lately. From family needs and relationship healing to professional and financial success, despite big obstacles, we are a very blessed couple and we know it. And the wonder of so much freedom and pleasure is a gift for which I am constantly thankful. We decide we are finished soaking, heated now down to the marrow of our bones, and my husband mock-scolds Klaus for relocating our flip-flops. The foot path home is still visible in the fluffy green, lit now by slanting light from the east. The roosters are awake. The day is ready for us. And we are ready for the day.

 

Happy Independence Day Weekend, friends!
Redeem your freedoms.
XOXOXOXO

this is the true story about Klaus…

Once upon a time there was a farmer who wanted to collect all the animals in the land.

He desired a parrot, a bison, some llamas, cats, horses, iguanas, fish, and more.

He acquired them all, one by one. Sneakily.

But he had a real, grown up job that kept him away from the farm all day, every day.

So his wife stayed home to care for the animals.

And she loved the animals. So much! Really. But they kept her from doing other things.

So she perfected her George Bush impersonation, “Read my lips: No new animals!”

And for a while her husband cooperated. 

In fact they planned to thin the herd a little.

Then one day, quite against her urging, he brought home a new puppy.

And despite herself, like she was under some kind of spell, his wife fell madly in love. Again.

The puppy became more than just another farm animal; he was their baby.

He attached his giant paws to her legs and helped her cook and do chores.

He slept with the hobby farmer and his reluctantly affectionate wife.

And they all lived happily ever after, the man and wife and world’s best pup.

Klaus camo

Klaus big eyes

Klaus bath

Klaus cuddle

Klaus camaro

knlaus day 2

Klaus hair bite

Klaus smile garden

The End.
xoxoxoxo

Hey if you’re visiting from Kat’s link up, welcome to the Lazy W! So glad you are here. Hopefully I have already seen your post but if not, please leave me a note and I will hop on over. Have a lovely day! xoxo ~marie