Friday, May 30, 2008

of the fire

Today is the first day of the rest of my life, and my full time vocation begins once again on the farm. I slept in a little today, and when I finally did get up, I found myself very thoughtful...reflective. Yesterday was my last full day at the restaurant until mid September, we weren't terribly busy...which made the day seem to drag on. Some of my favorite customers made the trip in this week to bid me good luck in the farm marketing venture, I was really touched. I've grown to know and love some folks that I would not have encountered had I not strapped the apron on and served them. I found myself becoming especially fond of the older folks, the wise ones, the experiences they shared with me were like lessons on life that I could not have found in a book. So many older couples, holding hands, looking out for one another- steadying the walker of their mate so they could maneuver through the mismatched tables and old chairs in the dining rooms. I loved to serve them plate and two forks. And the happiest of the lot always looked to the other soul across the table and asked, "What sounds good to you dear?" And almost always, the other would answer, "Well, cherry pie is your favorite, let's try that!" I would often ask what it took to sustain such a long and loving relationship. Often the answer from the male was, "I just do what she tells me!" And then the lady would offer a laugh, answering back, "That's right mister!" Loved to see their hands on top of one another, touching, gesturing with fingers- affirmations, secret signals of devotion to one another's happiness. I will miss my old folks, these sights for sore eyes and spirit...yep.
I had the honor to meet two old gentleman yesterday, brothers-the eldest, 94, the younger one-90. Oh the stories these two could tell- brothers raised on a farm just West of Elkhart, one stayed on- farming, the other off to the great world, teaching. They reminisced about the World's Fair in Chicago-1933. The younger brother recalled taking the train up with his father, to deliver cattle and take in a bit of this great happening. I knew a bit about this particular fair because my own grandmother's father had gone and brought her back a which I still have. I learned from watching a documentary on PBS, how the entire world had become involved by building exhibits akin to their own countries, little towns or great monuments that said so much about their nations. Great exhibits were erected, and then torn down after the fair. How this old man's memory came alive in the telling of what his eyes saw...but mostly he tenderly treasured the memory of his dad's time with him. The other older brother recalled going to the same fair on a field trip from his university...his group had much more leisure time to spend. Two older gentleman, two different memories...still so active in their minds. I was so interested in what they were saying, I almost pulled up a chair, I don't know how long I stood there- enthralled in listening as they were in their telling. And then the both became silent as the younger one spoke of how their father tragically had died, years later. The older brother taking up where the younger one could no longer go in the telling...a fire had taken their dad, and their lives were never the same. They both spoke of the fire to follow...finding their own way, struggling to live beyond the tragedy. I was privileged to be there, to listen, to be allowed to share in this silently still, grieve with them. And just as suddenly as they had started in on their tale of The World's Fair, the time of the times- abruptly the older one changed the subject. He said, "Young lady, the key to a long and fruitful life- is to work hard, good physical labor never hurt anyone, keeps your bones strong. And remember, we all must go through the burn of living...all will be consumed at one time or another. The fire gets us all. It is up to us to go through, find our way." Whoa. I was floored. In his eyes, was that very important message just for me? I don't know. Only, I sure took away more than dirty dishes from that chance meeting.
On to the farm time now folks, more or less writing to come...depends on the day and the occurrences. Thought you all might enjoy the story there, as much as I did. Take care...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

forward now

It's a beautiful morning, it's a beautiful day...thinking I should write something, spread some good cheer. The sun is shining, though still a bit cool outside-but my beans did germinate, reason enough to celebrate! But...there's more! The big, big boy- the one who changed schools mid Senior year, last of his high school days- HAS GRADUATED!!!! He has, in his own stubborn way, on his own terms, finished his education...well, the institutional kind, but I think, yes I do believe he might just keep surprising us, his own way- with more triumphs. We'll be having a diploma party on this here little farm as soon as I can get his band together to perform. What joy! Imagine, a party worth celebrating with music and food and fun and maybe volleyball- and the guest of honor, Mathew- beaming from ear to ear...though not near as wide of a grin as his mother will wear. I gotta tell ya, I was wondering if this day would ever arrive. He is so stubborn, so boyish sometimes, and yet the man in him stepped up and pulled this one off...we didn't really know if he would. We prayed and hoped and begged even, but in the end...he had to decide to get er done, and by golly he did.

Phone conversation Friday: "Hello?" "Mom, you won't believe what has happened to me..." "Oh no Mathew, what?????" "I'm gonna graduate..." "WHAT?!!!You what???? You're not kidding?" "Nope, found out today, thought it might make your day..." "Oh my gosh Mathew, alright!!! Good job!!! Oh, I am so happy, so proud, oh thank you son, thank you..." "Yep." "Love you son...." "Love you too mom."

And then his dad called me, joyfully tearful...and then his sister, and then friend Kathy...and on and on, the phone calls, the well wishes, the good good news. So- with that in mind, I thought I should put it all right out here, share some wonderful news.

What a difference a day makes, an earnest delivery of the stuff...and on to the next right thing, and the next right thing...yep, he pulled it off. Mathew has come a lonnng way...he doesn't often realize the good in him, the strengths he employs. He doesn't know how he often can light up a room, with his smile, his jokes...oh boy, this big ole boy doesn't realize his own worth at times, but he sure is walking a little taller today, I think he feels quite proud of himself. There, within it all- is the key. To be proud of one's accomplishes, to realize that it is always within us to rise, no one or nothing can give that to must first come from within, then out and above and all around. I think the picture has widened for my young man, I think he can put that foot forward now...the one he had such a hard time extending. Oh can you tell I am beside myself with joy?! Boy oh boy, such a long hard road he took...and now he is standing just where he wanted to be...on his own two feet.
Be well, take care...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

the romantic farmer

Here is some exciting news,'s exciting to me! And you there, hooked on this here blog like the folks who watch Lost or The Office- you just can't help yourself! So let me fill you in.

First off, I am so sore and tired even my elbows hurt. When your body sends those kind of messages, it is best to take heed. Seriously, I woke up this morning and said, "UH-OH!" I had to take an Advil. Reminds me of my youthful aches after a couple of hours of the first softball practice...after a long winter of practicing tossing Mountain Dew and Hostess Cherry pies back, as if my svelte little bean pole figure would never be affected. I'd wake up the next morning and feel like I had arthritis, moaning "My calves hurt, I can't bend my knees or go to school in this condition." Grandma would just look at me and sneer. She never had sympathy for youthful aches, she was a guide at the Old State Capitol- she walked a flight of stairs a hundred times a day, with teenagers hanging on her every word. (Because she scared them, they feared she'd toss them over the banister if they dare cross her...) Oh, where was I going with that? Oh yes, I ache. Because I have been doing my twelve hour days...trying to get all the planting done during these days of dryness, before work and then after too. And work? The Wild Hare is not a wonderful secret anymore- people come in droves, and in big groups. I run a marathon it feels like sometimes, a five hour marathon with plates balanced on my arms, and weight lifting with jugs of tea and bus trays full of dirty dishes. Oh the life!
Last year at this time, I was the romantic farmer-my first year of dreams. When you're passionate and naive...oh the wonderful world! But this year finds me still passionate- though not so naive. We have had such wet and cold weather, it's hard to get the planting in, to get the hair cut, the house clean, the writing of the blog...everything depends on the weather- and the off the farm work schedule. I haven't had a Saturday off since March! But by golly, I have the next two Saturdays off! And my Big Fish is visiting come Friday- so the place needs to look extra spiffy, and then there's the French kid coming in June- didn't I mention that? I'm getting an intern, a European one to boot. And my first farm tour the end of required. All so exciting, exasperating and my darned old elbows hurt. What more could a girl want?! Robert Redford...beyond it all I still want Bob. OK- need to get it in gear, the Advil has taken affect- enough so that I can at least hang my laundry on the line. Good to be back, and hello Eric- love you son. Take care-

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

minor miracle

Good morning! I have been busy though voiceless when it comes to blogging because I shorted out my keyboard...again! On Mother's Day I felt like cleaning, everything...and with a barely moistened cloth, I cleaned up all around the computer area. Apparently, some moisture got into the keypad and wa-lah! Fried again. This time, my new key board has a waterproof feature...thank goodness.

So, how have you all been? Busy? Sick of the rain and cold? Of politicians and high gas prices? Sure, all those things can make for dismal days, but have you noticed the changes, the longer days and the way- when the sun shines, it kind of evaporates all the melancholy?! Me too!!! There's a nest of birds above the porch swing, the guineas are sitting on eggs, the hens out in the coop are all pretty plucky, lettuce and onions and radishes are looking fine and spiffy. The spinach salads make me feel like Popeye, and I don't mind plucking a radish out of the ground, dirt and all and plopping it into my mouth. Love to graze in the garden. It won't be long before the sweet peas become my favorite snack. And when I mow (far too often...) I love to get as close as I can to the Honeysuckle and Lilacs...just to press my face in their branches and breathe in...ahhh! The sweetest thing these days though has to be for me, the Lily of the Valley- those little creamy white bells are as close to a promise as I have ever found. What faith have I in life and the creator...I only have to look upon or remember in days when the Lily's are not in bloom...the fragrance, fragility and fineness of my favorite flower. I have never seen anything in my life, including mountain ranges and oceans, works of art and sculptures- that speaks of beauty like the Lily of the Valley.
I hope you can hold something in your palm today, or in your gaze and find an everlasting hope in a minor miracle. Be well, take care-

*By all means, please...look over there at my other mentioned blogs and read pull up a chair, read about Rosa and Lucy. Just do it. I promise you will be filled with awe, admiration and an example of devotion and love beyond any dictation of what we might think we know about it...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

long time, no keys...again!!

I hope I haven't lost you...I am keyless once more. There's a whole lot of pasting going hook up soon. Enjoy some pics for now, take care!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

the sunshine comes

"The first thing I did this morning was remember you. I fixed my coffee, like every other morning...but then I sat down with your memory. I couldn't decide whether to cry or laugh, so I did both. I have to get all the clouds out of the way so that when the sunshine comes-(Emma, Lily and Mathew) I will have a place made ready for new joy to leave it's mark."

I write today for all moms, boy oh boy- do we deserve a day! And the moms who are missing someone.

My hope for you, for me...that even though the day might begin with tears, the hours that follow might hollow out a way so that only sunshine permeates our hearts. That the photograph you hold in your hands might speak of timeless moments, of stories that you and I will never forget. Of the cards stuffed in a drawer some where...of homemade gifts that their sweet teachers had the good sense and richness of spirit that encouraged their students to remember mom. All these things, these little trifle things...speak of love- then, now and always. I hope (if not this day, then in time)...these precious memories will swell up in you and burst forth like the joy you knew the moment your child was born.

Happy Mother's Day...

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Good morning, late's raining, thank goodness- so I have some time to write something here about the going's on in Chicago Tuesday. I was pure nerves, the shake started in my toes, entered my belly around noon time and began an all out tremor to my hands right before I started to speak. I had my notes, immaculately done if I do say so myself- like a menu, pretty sure I could carry the thing off but then they said, "We're expecting 70." Seventy?! Geez, don't these people have anything better to do? I'm not that interesting, and my entertainment gene only kicks in after a few margaritas...I didn't know what to expect, but I really only thought a handful of people would be there. They titled the talk as "Mother Earth's Soul Saving Grace"- kind of like an Aretha Franklin character in overalls-that was the picture I conjured in my mind. I gotta tell ya all...I truly don't know how people unwaveringly get up in front of a group and speak their's like being told, "Please take front stage, strip naked and sing." Uh-huh- that's easy. I think about teachers, and how they must get up and do this thing every day, well not get naked...but, speak- from their heart, trying to reach their audience, affect them. Geez- puts a whole new spin on my thinking, some people make it look so easy. Anyway-The lecture(I don't like that word, conjures up memories of Grandma shaking her finger at me for carrying around sticks in my pocket, in case I needed to shoot a bad guy. "Girls aren't suppose to do such things", always a lecture...)-was held at Oakton College in Skokie, for their Passages series. The room filled with life time learners, I tried to pick out a sympathetic soul who I might focus on...the lady in the front row, first seat. She looked like she knew a thing or two about life's ups and downs. But then, as I looked around- and I did look around, meeting eyes, speaking to each and every one's soul, and they listened with interest apparently, because the questions were wonderful afterwards-I realized we're all just people with our own versions of life stories. And the touches and the kind, uplifting things they spoke to me about- remember, these were life time learners...sharing knowledge of life goes on and on and on. One little lady and I talked of tomatoes and basil and how she was growing hers upside down this year, wanting advice for a natural repellent and what flowers to bring pollinators to the plants. Imagine bright white light, hair and face shine and eyes that twinkled something of secrets that only a long life discloses...she shined those twinklers on me alright, and wanted to know how old I was, asking in the most kindliest way. And then she said, "Want to know how old I am?" Of course I did, but this dear was ageless I do declare..."Ninety nine", she said, more twinkle in the telling. Imagine, hauling yourself up and off to school with a grumble sometimes at any age, but at 99? And trying something new, like turning your tomatoes upside down, just to see how they might The nervous day turned itself right side up into d-e-l-i-g-h-t. I did not get her name but I loved her in that moment all the same. Hopefully some from the class might respond to this post and let me know her name and tell her what I said, tell all of them thank you for me, for allowing me to share and bring back home something of a rare treasure, wise folks engaging me. The best part though, was when Lils commented, "Mom, you spoke well, even though I've lived it, you said it in just a way that I saw things differently. I was immersed." Imagine! A puffed up peacock had nothing on me at that moment! So there you have it, loads of words to express that I took far more away from the experience than I gave...thank you Oakton, you students of life- for the joyful day. Take care-

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

tell your story

Well, here's the deal...I have been keeping something under my hat because, well because I didn't want to think about this too much, didn't want to make myself crazy about the details and what to say and how to dress and be oh so very vulnerable in front of a room of strangers.

Due to an article last year in a big terrific paper, I was asked to speak at a college in tell my story. I received very little instruction, just "tell your story." there's a dilemma, so much to tell, so much history so much beauty, so much sadness. How does one get up in front of a crowd and speak in such a way that snoring does not occur? That the speaker herself does not break down when remembering what brought her to farming, made her decide that life is worth living, is abundant, is ever evolving, changing and one must learn to flow with it. I've gone on TED and watched the speakers, so passionate, so at ease with their material and their audience. I've researched: How to give a lecture...the one telling I liked best was present it like a menu- Appetizers, soups and salads, the main entree, and finally- the desert. Problem is, my menu is realllllly thick- I've got to pare this thing down, by 8:30 a.m no less- not because I've waited until the last moment, but because I hope to teach something today, make a point. I've always had in the back of my mind, like the Coca-Cola song- "I'd like to teach the world to grieve, in perfect harmony...." Boy oh boy, it should be interesting...hopefully to the audience. And I'm taking someone whom I trust to give hand signals, like you're chattering on, and you sound crazy, and hey you're putting them to sleep, and a simple thumbs up when I've said and done the right thing. Well, I'm sure under prepared for this thing, I don't know how to do this properly, so like everything else in my life- I'm just gonna wing it. Let you know if I fly or flop later...take care-

Saturday, May 3, 2008

like when she was little

Good morning, had to come on here today and share a little observation. My youngest (yikes!!!) is all of 16, almost 17 and attending her first prom. She is like a little bird hopping around, alighting here and there...finding just the right nail polish to match the perfectly pink, beautiful just right dress we found in Rockford last month. She was sure it was the one when we found it, but not so sure the little girl in her could handle the real believe young woman style she chose. I don't know how many times the dress has come out of the bag, to be tried on over and over again, don't know how many dreams are figured on such a Cinderella like garment. I only know she seems so grown up, so sweetly happy about dressing up...for real this time. When she was younger, as the older one's attended dances...getting ready in just this way- all flutter and fluff and "everyone please help!!!" and "where are my panty hose?!" and "is this how this thing is suppose to go?!"...Lily standing on the sidelines, all wide eyed and wanting so to be a part of their big day. I remember and have many pictures to show her make believe along side the celebrity of big brother and sister in their real duds...Lily going to her trunk and pulling out her dress-up clothes, showing up just as dates would arrive and pictures were being snapped- in her prom dress. A size 10 on a toddler like body- she'd have lip stick smeared on and pearls down to her belly button, wanting to be in the pictures- her big brother aghast at first, then always...pulling her in, next to his tuxedo'd waist and sharing the picture with his dressed up little dear of a sister.

Tonight- she'll take front stage, not in a snapshot this time, but in a real whole- night-center-of-attention way. Her make up perfect, no smeary lips...her eyes shining, her hair just right, pirouetting in front of the antique vanity in my room, with it's three sided lady all aglow, just like when she was little. My camera is ready, my heart a bit achy that she'd be so ready to swirl and twirl, so grown up...and me wondering, where did the time go?

Pictures to come, take care-

Friday, May 2, 2008

way to go...

It's a good day to kick back. Wind is blowing, rain is on the way, the grass is growing but the mower is broke down, the weed eater lays there at the ready, but I'm not ready to yield it...yet. I could pull the tractor out and till the bed for the new herbs out in the shed, 113 in all. I could beat the rain drops, I'm sure I could get that chore done- but, I'm not quite awake enough to manage getting the tractor out of the shed without hitting anything. Even on a clear eyed day, I hit things with the tractor. It's too big, really- and the bucket attachment on the front just naturally bumps into the house. Yep, I tore the corner off trying to get the old cement stoop off the back of the house. I was brush hogging last summer and turned the corner to tightly and punched a big hole in the shed. Geez, I am dangerous with that thing.

And I can't truly lay back, I have work at 10:30- but still, there is time between then and now to get that tilling done. Before it rains. Some days, like this- find me not all that hopping to do much of anything. More caffeine should do it, or putting limits on myself, like- no mushroom hunting after work if that chore is not done. I mean it missy, get your butt in gear. It's kind of hard to argue with myself, especially when I take that tone. So- not much profoundness to be found here today folks, unless there's a lesson there for me or diligence even when I'm diligently ignoring the chores. Aaaahhhh well, I'm through combatting(did I just make that word up?) myself, I'll head out to the shed in 15 minutes, won't take long to do what I've got to do- besides, I'll make the Robin's happy with the open earth buffet of fat worms, so I'll do it for them. And me. Being productive, getting it done is like slapping myself on the back and saying, "Way to go!!" OK, I've got a ways to go, getting on it...take care.