And just like that, we have leaped across the verdant threshold between seasons. My heart is filled all over again with excitement for the coming gardens and with hope for so many yet-unanswered prayers. I know I say that a lot, about hope, but please know that we also celebrate the brick-and-mortar resolutions, the answers, the rewards of waiting and hoping, all the time. Our world lately has been riddled with both good news (really good news), encouragement to expect more of it, and some healthy perspective about how much worse life often is for others. Gratitude is not strong enough a word to express how I feel about it all. I am in awe of what God has been doing for us and the people near us.
Seeds are germinating left and right. The Peeps have officially outgrown their indoor trough home and have moved to the flight pen outside. Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage starts are suddenly voluptuous; their neighboring snow peas are tendriling upwards on arched cattle panels; and the Mouse Garden is a thick, highly textured bed of kale. Kale!! The Yukon Gold potato box has sprouted with food, and what so far looks like just green confetti will very soon be full ruffles of spinach, kale, arugula, and fancy lettuces. Last year’s chicks, now fully mature hens, are laying eggs regularly and eating all the wild clover I can pull from our new watermelon patch. The horses are shedding as thickly as the cottonwood is about to be blooming, and speaking of blooms, all four of our fruit trees seem to have kept their precious springtime flowers and are all set up for a heavy season of apples, peaches, and plums.
The house stays warm enough most days, now, even with the heater off and the windows open, to keep a sourdough starter going, and I bake fresh bread as often as we crave it. We stay busy outdoors so much longer these days, with the gradually later sunsets and mild weather, just moving easily and with great pleasure from one task to the next. Klaus keeps us company the whole time, and it is wonderful to find him exhausted instead of restless at the end of a day well spent. (My husband says he feels the same way about being able to exhaust me, ha! Hibernation is not for everyone.)
Our middle field especially is greening up, and just a moderate effort to scoop up and relocate manure is making a big difference. The compost bins have stayed so full that I recently started a second, much larger area for experimenting with a faster decomposition method. But now I think it’s too far away from a water source. Oh well, the honeybees love it!
My little herb garden is waking up from winter, and it is so fun to try and visualize what will return, where the truly blank spots are, how to reshape and replenish the small area. It’s a luscious intimacy, to know a garden for a length of time, to become familiar with its dimensions and habits and needs and wants. To know how it behaves in each season, what is asks of the gardener, what it offers in return. In the spaces between perennials, I am scattering seeds like cinnamon basil, dill, zinnias, and more. By Easter Sunday everything should be erupting there. Already, in this garden and in the areas flanking the vegetable gate, day-lilies and vinca have returned. I am so excited about the gomphrena and Mexican petunia. For now my eyes feast on the Jane magnolia petals falling all over the front sidewalk.
We have been craving to host an outdoor yoga night and will do this soon. The weather is just so close to being reliable, and we have only a short list of deck repairs to make first. Local and interested in moonlit yoga and meditation? Stay tuned!
The first three months of this gorgeous new year have been filled with incredible Love, satisfying work, plenty of restoration and deep breathing, and just good, plain, happy daily pleasures. Life at the W is not without stress and certainly out hearts have aches like everyone’s; but we have laid hold of some powerful antidotes and some very agreeable reminders for each other about what matters most, about how to shrug off distractions and quickly refuse energy siphons, and how to really sink in and enjoy the moments. Magnify pleasures. Minimize irritations. When either of us buckles from some outside pressure, I think we are pretty good at showing each other grace and welcoming each other back to paradise. Because paradise, really, is how it so often feels. For these things and much more, I am so deeply grateful.
One last update, I just finished The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. My sister Angela had recommended it, and I found it to be not just thought provoking but deeply confirming of so much I have already been considering. Lots to discuss if you have read this!
Happy Sunday, friends, and happy springtime!
Rooted and Grounded in Love
In like a lion, out like a lamb. That’s the adage I’m celebrating right now, doubling up on the almanac’s confident assurances about an early spring. My local friends will argue that our frigid air temps of late have already proved that prediction wrong; but it was a brief blip on an otherwise sunny outlook. This too shall pass. Let’s cling to that adage as well, which brings me to my favorite reading material this week: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
Have you read this book, or are you listening to Oprah’s piecemeal interview with him, which dissects his other title, A New Earth? The material is such a luscious reinforcement to all the Buddhism we have been absorbing this winter, all the lessons on mindfulness, stillness, and impermanence.
And I may or may not have mentioned this here: For months now I have been receiving crystal clear direction from God to make space and hold it. I crave space in my body, in my schedule, in our home, even in my intimate relationships, though creating space there has been magically coupled with a new layer of more meaningful intimacy. I tried to rationalize it for a while but eventually relaxed and decided that simply doing it could become my daily practice. It has been lovely, and I am only just beginning.
One funny thing about space is that it tends to fill itself up if we aren’t watching. Physical space, especially. We recently sold one car and rearranged the others plus some gym equipment to other outbuildings and in so doing wound up with a completely blank car bay in the garage attached to our house, the one where I do laundry and have a potting/painting bench. How long did that space stay empty? Not very! We went to the feed store last weekend and brought home 21 newly hatched chicks and 2 tiny ducks. They now live in a heated metal horse trough in that “empty space,” ha! Our days since they came to the farm have been very peep-ish and our whole world is now totes adorbs. This kind of space filling is fine by us.
Let’s talk about the weather once more, and the seasons.
These recent weeks brought us freezing (truly freezing, not just hyperbole-cold-Oklahoma but actually sub-zero) temps and plenty of frost and ice. We fought off the despair of unceasingly gray, gloomy skies, wore layer upon layer of clothing but still shivered, and ate weird food that barely ever warmed us up. The tail end of February is always bizarre, right? Doesn’t it feel longer than all the rest of winter, combined?
Then, on Monday evening, the clouds parted suddenly and the sun shone on the farm just long enough to accomplish a dramatic stab of gold and bronze, fighting off the gloom, literally moments before dusk. We were sitting in the east living room when it happened, and the change in atmosphere deserved its own Vivaldi soundtrack.
Then Tuesday was ever so slightly more pleasant for being outside, and sunset on Wednesday took my breath away. This morning, before seven, I saw the eastern sky do that kaleidoscope twist where all of her pink and apricot colors churned and shone and cast a shimmering mix of lavender and yellow onto the basin of the western sky, just across our pond. It happens some days in a more kinetic way than others. It’s truly magical, and I love it.
Also, our only two adult roosters are fighting a little bit, no matter that they have a harem of seven gorgeous hens to share.
The pine forest has been weighed down with hefty flocks of visiting, screaming black birds.
The earthworms are wriggling into the warmest top layers of soil and compost.
The horses are shedding like crazy.
The bees are foraging on dried manure and dandelions.
And my heart just knows.
What I’m saying here, friends, is that springtime is happening. We knew it would!
All the seed trays, empty raised beds, and future watermelon patches will soon be ready for action.
Until then, more space making, More reading and cleaning and working and loving. More teaching ducklings to swim (like they need lessons) and more encouraging German Shepherds to appreciate every single romp outdoors, because the freeze is over, at long last.
A quick, gentle word about optimism, and this darling snuggling photo of Handsome with Maddie:
At our friend Maddie’s recent high school performance of Shrek, one song stood out to me and actually kind of hit me like a marshmallow sledgehammer. The character Fiona was singing a funny lament about how many years she had been locked away in her tower, about for how very long she had been wishing for her prince to rescue her (insert your own long-awaited miracle at this point). Then in the scene when it finally happens, when Shrek finally comes to release her from her bondage, she proclaims, “I knew it would happen TODAY!”
TODAY. Fiona knew, all those days and years leading up to her big moment, that her answer would come. She surrounded herself with evidence of other princesses and their unique moments of redemption. As her own waiting and captivity stretched on, she may have felt discouraged sometimes but still knew in some funny, weird way that it would happen today. The only detail missing was exactly which today it would be. And so, with that deep knowledge, she never gave up.
Okay, I will leave that with you for a while, to marinate. Please get back with me and share your thoughts. The whole notion that today is all we have, that this moment is all there ever is, that presence and attention are powerful, well, it will not let go of me. And it all leads me to crave more space. And I knew that springtime would eventually happen, that it would happen on some unknown today. And I know that all of our hardest-yearned for prayers will also be answered, on some very special today that is very much worth waiting for.
A final thought about Fiona? She waited, and she trusted, but her answer was still a miraculous surprise. Remember? It was not exactly what she imagined: It was far better. So friends, let’s stay open to the shock and trembling joy of all that is possible in our lives. Let’s crate and hold space for whatever is coming. And then relax back into the present moment.
I love you. I wish you only the best of every detail. Please come visit our baby peeps before they grow up.
“Past and future veil God from our sight.
Burn up both of them with fire.”
Happy New Year! The first day of a sparkling new season, a meandering story certainly worth telling. I am so happy to still be here writing, trying to document our life stories and capture some of the learning curve along the way.
Regarding the above photo, two things: I am very excited to soon finish some extensive dental work that could end a lifetime of front-tooth replacement drama. This means I might soon smile for photos with my mouth OPEN, ha. Also, I am loving winter garden tasks lately. So much. Just looking at this, I can smell the cedar and feel the crunch of leaves.
How are you? How was your December-January threshold celebration?
Our last day of 2018 was quiet and well spent. Yesterday while Handsome was at the Commish, I took down all of our Christmas decorations and started cleaning the house. Klaus helped by requiring lots of fetch in between. I also grabbed my final run of the calendar year and started cooking and setting up for a casual dinner with Mickey and Kellie. We had “church” on Monday evening this week, and it ended up being a sweet and perfect New Year’s Eve, just the four of us. I promise to tell you about this project soon, as in this month. Pinky promise.
After we hugged a lot and the Sperrys went home (around 10 p.m.), Handsome and I got into some pajamas and cuddled up to read aloud our 2018 Grievances. This is only the second year we have done this, but we both know it is a favorite tradition that will likely stay with us for the rest of our lives.
It’s so simple, too. We just keep a large empty jar in our bedroom and a supply of blank slips of paper near it. Both of us are free every day throughout the year to scribble down little memories and love notes, details of daily life we want to remember. As with yours, our life is brimming with variety and roller coasters. The details each of us chooses to harness are a lot of fun to read at the end of the year! We cover everything from romance and super romance (brown chicken brown cow, haha) to family updates, farm projects, stressors overcome, community stuff, funny animal stories, excellent meals, and all the stuff in between. You name it, one of us has documented it in short sentences and messy handwriting.
So we accumulate them all year long. Then on New Year’s Eve, at least an hour ahead of the countdown, we take turns reading aloud the other person’s notes. Oh! We call them “grievances” because at some point in 2017 a joke started about filing grievances, something funny, I don’t remember now because we forgot to write that down, ha!
Example, an entry of mine following our Second Annual Talent Show which was rained out and which my husband rescued in one million vital ways:
Anyway. It’s heartwarming and funny, and it is amazing how many big and little events tend to otherwise blur together or standout in weird ways until we read our real-time reactions to them. Does that make sense? It’s a tiny, easy little time warp into our own minds. The things that mattered to us on no particular days in the past. We both love it. And it is funny how many events we both chose to document, unwittingly along with the other.
Okay, moving on.
Speaking of writing and keeping history, this year one of my seven million happy intentions is to blog more regularly, to keep an actual account of daily life. I don’t know whether I have a specialty niche to offer the internet, but as they say, each of us is an expert in our own selves, in our own lives, so that much I can definitely offer. And I will gratefully and freely admit, my husband and I have built and enjoy a really beautiful life here on these nine acres. Lots to share if I just take the time. I hope you will follow along.
I am reading for the second time the small daily devotional called “Jesus Calling.” It was a soothing and inspiring little daily ritual for most of 2018, and I am excited to dive more deeply this year. Plus, I get to read over again the notes I wrote on each calendar date from last year. So much has changed in our life, so many miracles, so much growth! It’s going to be fun to re-experience all of that, including the hard weeks.
Today’s standout scripture is from Romans 12: “Be ye not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This speaks to me more vividly all the time. It all starts in our minds, truly. And I crave deeper transformation than ever before. As for the worldly part, also yes. Yes a thousand times. It takes effort, but resisting the push and pull of trends and bandwagons is good. Cultivating our own paths, learning to ignore outside pressures and actively choose to not be conformed, that is all so good and juicy. “The Joy of Missing Out” has been on my mind all month long. Ironically, I don’t feel like I have missed out on anything that matters. It’s a pretty nifty little paradox.
One of the television programs that made a big impact on us last year was The Kindness Diaries, and my husband especially has taken up the chance to connect with the show’s host and author, Leon Logothetis, via social media. As a result, he has received two books in the mail and is excited to read them. One is a memoir of the making of the show’s first season. The other is called, Live, Love, Explore. After my guy studied The Book of Joy with me, helped host that amazing discussion dinner, and then propagated that material to his friends and employees, I am so happy deep in my bones for this next experience.
Farm Census to Start the Year:
We still have two fat, sassy horses, Chanta and Dusty. Both male, both cut, both extremely affectionate and smart, but neither trained. No, before you ask, sadly I guess, we do not ride them. But we do love them so very much.
We have one slightly famous llama, Meh, who is approaching five years old. He was born here at the Lazy W to registered and beloved parents Romulus and Seraphine. Meh is one of those animals who is more than the sum of his fuzzy parts. We just plain love him to the moon and back. Meh was recently immortalized by local artist Emily Williams, and as long as I am lucky enough, the artwork is hanging in our living room. Pretty sure Handsome will scoop it up and take it to his office before long.
The Lazy W has two South African geese, one gander named Johnny Cash (we always say his full name) and one mostly blind, barely walking, still elegant and beautiful female named Mama Goose. We are amazed she is still with us after so many years, so much extreme weather, and so many predator encounters. We love her. We love them both.
Along with the geese we currently have nine chickens. Two of them are mature roosters, and the other seven are gorgeous little hens, all hatched here at the W. My “pet” is called Red Shoulder Chicken, so name because in good weather she has a penchant for hopping all the way up to my shoulder to perch. She rather demands (and therefore receives) lush and colorful kitchen treats before settling for pedestrian chicken scratch.
Lately we have been getting two large, heavy fresh eggs every day or so. Our hens are young. It will naturally increase as weather improves and the hens mature, but I also want to increase our laying flock this year. The trouble is that we want to keep them safe in the penned yard (hash-tag hawks and owls), but space is limited. We want them to be super happy and have room to play. We shall see.
Three barn cats grace us with their presence and for food and cuddles, and each of them has a distinct personality. Klaus loves them like the small, vulnerable siblings they are. He roughs them up violently and with great zeal. I taught him this.
Fast Woman still appears when the stars align, and I recently dreamed that she was shrinky-dink size but three times as loud as normal.
Also, of course, you know Klaus, and if you have been reading here very long you know Pacino, our adolescent macaw. We have some possible life-improving plans for Pacino his year. Stay tuned.
Have you ever taken a meditation class? Handsome and I and a few of our friends are flirting with the idea of attending some being offered near the farm, and a Buddhist Monastery. I am pretty excited. Reading, studying, thinking, journaling, and staying in contemplation are all easy for me. Quieting my mind, not so much. But I crave “spaciousness” and ease, and this could be a pathway to that. Plus, one of our happy intentions for 2019 is to explore other faiths. Love it. I will keep you posted.
Ok, I am so glad you stuck around for some thoughts and reintroductions to the farm. Again, thank you for reading. Thanks so much for giving me a chance to share some of the things I find to be truly amazing in this life.
More than ever, I feel the cascade of Grace and Joy, and I am eager to write it all down. Happiest of the New Year to you, friends. I hope you can take hold of this wave of good energy and make it your own. See you again soon.
“We are all gardeners,
planting seeds of intention
and watering them with attention
in every moment
of every day.”
Hello, friends, happy last week of November to you. We are here at the farm taking deep breaths and settling into our coziest, happiest early winter vibes, having properly celebrated a full week of Thanksgiving. We feel deeply grateful. And full. Our hearts and our bellies are so very full. It hurts a little, but it’s ok.
Last week our gatherings were a delicious mix of romance and solitude, friends and family, and a dash of community outreach. We spent our days and evenings mostly together, and I loved it. Klaus’ brother Lincoln was also with us until Saturday, which greatly added to the holiday cheer.
We exercised gently when it felt good and we had the time. We ate endless feasts of our favorite traditional foods. We watched movies at home and napped shamelessly. We completed fun projects around the farm, had a couple of prayer meetings with precious friends, and started making big, happy plans for Christmas.
My parents hosted the local family on Friday evening. This year, none of our coastal siblings came to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving, and neither of my girls were with us (Jess was with her Dad’s family on Thursday, excited that her brother is in town from college, wahoo! Then she came down with strep throat, poor girl). We also are missing Grandpa Rex an awful lot. We could have focused on the people not with us, and in fact missing Jocelyn so acutely right now, I cried a lot on our drive to the City.
But somehow, the collective joy and laughter were powerful enough to drive out any sadness. I so appreciate this about my family. Everyone is so fun loving and light hearted, no matter what difficulty we are facing. Sometimes, I think, we are silly to spite what we are facing. And we have faced plenty over the years.
Mom, Angela, and I divided the menu, and I dare say conquered it. Three generations ate like kings and queens. Afterwards, everyone was able to fill their refrigerators with excellent leftovers.
We played board games after dinner, and thanks to some magical November weather, the kids played outside.
On Sunday, Handsome and I welcomed several close friends at the farm for a low-key Friends-giving. Two fine humans named Kellie and Mickey arrived early, rolled up their sleeves, and helped finish all the food prep while we all chatted about deep and joyful new things. I have to say, the four of us make an outstanding team, especially in the kitchen. It was lots of fun.
About nine adults total gathered and ate buffet style, snuggled up in our living room, where Handsome had built us a gorgeous, crackling fire. Everyone who joined us is in a very different life chapter, a mix of hard and beautiful, but we all have been friends for several years and care so much about each other. It was good to catch up in a quiet atmosphere and count our many blessings. Lots of laughter, again. Laughter prevails. Our faces hurt.
Along the way, truly every day this past week, we have felt that glowy warmth of genuine thankfulness. Gratitude for so many huge and tiny blessings. We feel God up close to us and surrounding us, too. He is pressing in, and we press back. Or maybe it’s the other way around?
What I know is that it is working, this ongoing effort to improve our perspective a little more each day. Widen our view. Count the blessings that are coming at us like a tidal wave. Love immeasurable and full of hope.
Plus, it’s finally Christmas lights season!!
Thanks for reading, friends. I hope your Thanksgiving Week was also filled with love and pleasures. I hope you feel miracles brewing again. I would love to hear all about it.
Check back in soon for slightly more analytical thoughts on gratitude, whether it actually has power to change things.
Over and out!