Saturday, October 31, 2009

the other side

Does your chest ache? Are you hopeful? Will you still be farming? What, of you, remains at the farm no matter how far you travel from it?

My my, I am honored by the deepness of those questions, from questioners who know a bit of something of life I reckon.

Every inch of me aches...physically and otherwise. I'm no spring chicken ya know! And I've got this gene affliction, passed on by my pop who is by far thee most stubborn, infuriating soul I know- that causes me to be determined beyond the outer limits of the more timid (sane) souls. In my formidable years (all of 'em), I fell in love with the poetry of Walt Whitman. It was though a light went on and every word he wrote, every great and wonderful verse that flowed filled an emptiness in me.

"...Long enough have you timidly waded, holding a plank by the shore,Now I will you to be a bold swimmer..."
-from "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman

Impressionable as I've always known myself to be- I obeyed. That will Mr. Whitman spoke of was bonafide and iron clad in me. I am a strong swimmer, always will I be. And hope has been my life preserver, keeping me afloat when the current seemed against me.

"And that is where you found me-

At the water's edge.

I could see across the river then...

and I showed you the other side.

But you, in your boat of reason-

Sailed smoothly across,

leaving me to swim..."

Waves-T.L. Starks copyright 2003

I began farming to take a stand against the tide of disconnections in the ever growing ocean of corporate human hands-off bullshit. I for one need connections, need to know where it came from, how lovingly it was prepared. Food is the flavor of life, we all need it, share it, come together in rituals through the ages to partake in the bounty of it. Food is grace. The care of the earth and it's inhabitants have played a central part in my vocation, there is a sense of an ever present common good amongst the rows and I wanted to be a farmer because of that vision. Yes, I will farm- will grow good food and common good as long as I am able. Four season farming will be my goal, in green houses and in spring and summer- greener surroundings. "Growing in a big way" is my motto, my creed- fitting my soul like a liquid shell.

And finally- I had to step outside this morning, in the dark- to see what might remain of me here on this farm. I gazed upwards to see the crop of stars and realized-I'll gladly leave behind for all to wish upon or curse (if need be), a place to plant the seed of dreams. A blanket of stars, there in that night sky- covers each and everyone I know or will never know- with an assurance that even in the darkest dark- the light of the one who created it all penetrates eternally. Some look up at the sky and feel so small while some gaze upon the diamond studded floor of the heavens and sense an enormity beyond their loneliness, their littleness, their solitary souls. (And you know, somewhere deep inside you, that there is no such thing as a solitary soul or you would not have stumbled in here and stayed so long- though please know, I'm so glad you did.) No being ever could sell or trade what is freely given there above you, no one can take it from you- there is no more a fertile place in the universe that I know of, than a starry night sky for wonder upon wonders.

Be well, take care-

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

left hooks

"'s a true wonder I breathe at all."

Damn. Ouch. And breathing is a miracle once again, deep breathing- though most needed right now, is out of the question. Shallow, shallow breaths and shallow thoughts and too much damage here as of late. And the list gets longer and longer and my reserves get shorter and shallower, only 17 days now to acquire a new vehicle, a trailer because all the plans made have gone to Hell in a handbasket. Although dear readers, do know- I will not be stifled, saddened maybe- beyond all reason... but stifled, nope.

I've waded through worse, walked a million miles- yes I have. Just thought, innocently-naively- that my quota on bad things happening to good people had been filled. It seems that I have to take everything on the chin...Okay, if that's the way it's got to be, Lord I pray-

No more left hooks.

(No need to go into detail, serves no purpose- those close to me know the deja vu stuff going on....anyway, in a few days I will be back with the lovely questions posed to me- answered. In the mean time,

Take care-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Good morning.

Started my final list- it is 57 lines long.

Caught my girls being happy- carving pumpkins on the front porch. Beautiful sisters.

Gathered with friends last evening for a meal and more.

Catching sight of the colors soon to leave, my oh my how triumphant the blaze these days!

Bright skies greet me, the stars glare with beams of coolness- the night sky of colder days always sharpens the view.

R.D says harvest is in full motion for him...finally!

The farm is sold. All is gold. And I am it's keeper no more...

(Beginning to realize though, I never truly was. Participating these last eighteen years has been an absolute pleasure...)

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

~ Dr. Seuss

(and my posts will get better, working on the pics and essaying it up that way...perhaps somebody somewhere will give me a writing/pictorial challenge-C'mon you brave and wondrous wanderers on the net- I want to tell the story of leaving without leaving anything out that matters in pics or words or poetry, but I need a prompt or a thump...something to hold this old blog over for awhile till I get settled in. Something worth reading and raving about...look at it like this, if you could interview someone as a reporter- what might your questions be? Spark the creativity of this here true wonder...)

and as always, do take care-

Thursday, October 15, 2009


“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.”

- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Good morning. Today is the day I give it all away. Certainly I will be compensated, but the money- the reward will not come from an amount of dollars and cents, but in a value that cannot be measured. I wept last night before retiring, feeling oh so beside myself with doubts and fears of what ifs and what will be...I cannot know and yet I find this morning- the courage from a prayer- a request for simply peace of mind.

The birds greeted me this morning, robins in the road and a nuthatch hopping down the side of the great Maple in the front yard.

"Ah!" I said, "A nuthatch."

That is enough, a sign for me that all is well, all will be well...

May this home find the good stewards that I have tried to be, may the new owners find in time- the peace that I have come to know. May the sunrises and sunsets speak to them as they have called to me daily- coloring my soul, filling me with wonder. May all who enter here find the joy I have found, may they come and go with a happiness that encompasses every one they meet, may the silent poetry of this place ring in the ears that might learn to listen for such things.


May love and only love- continue to grow here.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

white woman jello-shot flashback

Good morning. Mathew, my big man/boy youngest son and I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Ohio. It was a Semper Fi kind of thing. Stoke just got himself hitched and we got to share in all the festivities and let me just warn you, there were jello shots involved. Completely harmless looking little things, really. It's like a rainbow of gooey jellied yum-yum treats, especially when they are all stacked up on one another. And then the floor, the surface of trust and solidness, just comes right up and smacks you when you least expect it and the little cuckoo birds turn a bright black and blue as they swirl around your head. Sounds like an acid trip somehow, not that I have ever taken one of those, that's just seventies talk I have heard from my older brother. Not where I really wanted to go at all this morning, on a jello-shot flashback...

We had a beautiful time, we drove for six hours, got lost in Indianapolis because that's a limbo like area, probably closer to hell than heaven- I even got called a white woman. Never been called that before, but I was not offended, oh no! The man who said that used it in a sentence like this:

"White women, look at me! Forget thees map and listen what I tell you, get out of here, you are not safe. Take right at stop light, take right again and keep on going unteel you get understand me?!" "Do not look at thee effing map unteel you do what I say, just get out of here soon now!"

"Uh, thanks..."

I had left the protective big 6' 2" man boy out in the engine-running-locked-truck while I approached this man, I found myself sprinting back, banging on the windows (now I'm sure I looked like a crazy white woman, drawing all kinds of attention to myself by banging and yelling- "wake up, let me in!") The young man does not wake easily or perhaps took this opportunity to make a joke, either way he wasn't much of a security guard. We did get out of there, I won't even go into how we got so turned around and ended up in a place where perhaps, because of our extreme Irish/Swedish glaring whiteness, we might not have been welcomed without an Uzi...

But as usual, that is not my story, this is-

Big Stoke- Marine made man from Ohio, St. Marys to be exact. Met my Marine(Beau) there in North Caroline-y several years back, fell in love like men sometimes do with a buddy- a brother from another mother. They were inseparable, went to war together, made plans to travel the wide world, or at least the extreme southern states after their tour- picking and grinning and driving the Stang, that's Mustang to you and me. Turbo charged and fortified with blow-out-the-windows-and-your-ear-drums stereo. (I'm behind the times there, most folks don't call it stereo anymore, but you get the gist...)

Well you know in this turbulent world, some things happen that no one for sees and lives and plans get rearranged, hearts get broken and journeys never get taken. Sometimes, even big old Marines lose their heart and drop their pack- for too long. And then one wondrous day, after going back, over and over the reasons of why and the question that never gets a good answer, a lovely lady enters in with a bigger heart than a big old Marine. And she looked inside of Stoke, went deeper than most I suspect, lifted that man's pack up higher than it had ever been before and he decided it was time to take a new trip. (Although incidentally, they still went south on their honeymoon...redneck!) I'm getting to the good part. Stoke is one tough hombre, but kind of soft in the middle, you know- like a good chocolate chip cookie. We met him at a time when no joy could be found, when packs dragged the ground and it really didn't matter after all- anything. Still, he was a Marine and was made to escort "Dirt's" family around the base before and after the memorial service. In a later telling, he said though it was heart wrenching, he was honored to aid us. He was so tender with my children,truly the first soul who treated them like they were not little pillars of strength, not made of stone- and so kind to them that we all kind of clung to him. We trusted his guidance and strength, really relied on this young man to see us through. The service was somber, ever been in a room full of Marines filling the pews, trying to act all Marine-like, trying to not cry, trying to brave it out? Silent whispering tears, that's what it was. But those are the kind that are heard and felt most of all, those are the kind that ache even after they've been wiped away. So there we sat, trying to live up to the examples being set all around us- honoring not my son, but a brother who served- a Marine.

As the service came to a slow salute conclusion, Stoke stood at the end of our pew and offered his arm as an escort. I was easily led, as were my children. Unbeknownst to us, we were not made to wade through the river of Marines- we were to exit via the parson's door, in full view of the congregation of military men and women. As these doors were opened, all eyes behind us were upon us. A large hall was presented, again open to all eyes and Stoke led us through, beyond the alter, through the doors and straight into... the parson's bathroom. I remember looking down to see a toilet just at my right knee, holy as that little place was, we had taken a wrong turn. Stoke was facing a wall, still extending his arm for me to be led. The kids and Beau's "K." followed right into the little room, actually burrowing right in there like a pack of gophers. Stoke simply turned an about face, shrugged his shoulders, took my arm and out we filed- to the actual exit.

Stoke, in the midst of all the sadness, on a day when no joy could be found- made us laugh and giggle and snort. Oh we cried, doubling over outside where the parson was waiting, wondering- just where had we gone?! To this day, we give Stoke all kinds of grief over that incident. Matter of fact- I was handed the mic at the reception there in Ohio, and told just that story. Jello shots make you do the darndest things...

(And am I the only one to notice how bathrooms and privies and um, well...toilets, have kind of brought about epiphanys as of late??!)

Take care-

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

by the means of Mrs. Jones

I live a charmed life. Maybe not a perfect one, but charmed comes closest to mind when discussing the ever evolving wondrous happenings that seem to find me day by day. Let me explain-

Several years back, my Marine and I took a trip, an important trip- to save Mrs. Jones. She was standing out in an open field, weedy and wasting away and longing, I felt -when I first laid eyes on her, to be a central part of life again. God knows in her day, she had many visitors. When I came upon her 9 years ago- the only visitors she had had as of late were sparrows and the occasional burrowing mammal, oh and possibly some reptilian company but ooooohhhh, I didn't want to think about that! (Since I knew the Marine would have to crawl inside and ummm, shake Mrs. Jones loose from her flimsy foundation.) (The Marine of course, wasn't having any of this, but the mother in me manipulated and guiled the poor boy, so naturally he obeyed just to shut me up. Or out of respect- yeah, that's how I remember it now...)

I'll cut to the chase or the long haul, whichever keeps you on the edge of your seat- we bound Mrs. Jones to a borrowed old wreck of a trailer, secured her securely and proceeded to drive the 90 miles home. We gave Mrs. Jones a place of honor on the farm next to the clothesline, surrounding her with hollyhocks and horseradish. Through the years, she was again- a central part of life. We loved her. Many pictures were snapped under her red tin eaves, many a smile spread across the face of many a visitor who proceeded to recollect their own outhouse stories from "back in the day." The years passed and the owner of the farm became weary in the upkeep and the low downs of running said farm alone. Even Mrs. Jones' nostalgic charm could not bring about the peace once found so abundantly fresh every day to the weary farmer. (That'd be me...) So- the farmer decided to sell the home place and with the farm would go Mrs. Jones. But- most of the interested parties considering the purchase of the parcel did not seem to take notice of the ancient beauty standing proud midst the horseradish. Some did not even know what she was- a privvy, an outhouse, Mrs. Jones for gosh sakes! I'd proclaim the historical value of her architectural structure while touting her bygone days of total necessity for relief and reading and stinky solitude. I began to realize with the farm sale, Mrs. Jones might become firewood or worse- an eyesore to be excavated. But then- a wondrous thing happened. Yes, now finally- I'm getting to the good part!

Last Wednesday-I found myself in the good company of a lady who works and creates beauty at the Farm near Salisbury, Illinois. I laid all my purchases down on the counter- a candle, dried grasses, cinnamon sticks and most certainly some Bittersweet Vine. The lady turned out to be Cheryl Pippin. And I liked her right away. A kindred spirit naturally...wondrously. Out of the blue a lightening bolt struck in the form of an idea- perhaps Cheryl would adopt Mrs. Jones! She did. Of course.

Mike, Cheryl and Mrs. Jones

The lady's got an eye for the poetry of life, for the day making details, for delightful things. And now I know why we meshed- we are the proud mothers of USMC men, Andrew and Beau. We will always be proud and grateful for our boys, even though we no longer get to lay our hands upon their shoulders, or touch their cheeks ever so lightly, to take in their presence with our eyes, to hear their voices with our ears- we still feel the absolute joy and endless love, we still remember and tell the stories of their lives.

We only just discovered last evening- the similarities of our lives, now intertwined- that went beyond mutual glee of old and useful things. We found each other through a chance meeting, over an outhouse. Mr.and Mrs. Pippen and I do not question that collaboration- but the Marines, being ever true and all...might just have two mighty fine soldiers "over there" who sure have a wicked sense of humor- bringing us together by the means of Mrs. Jones.

...I learned from stones I stepped upon,

death does not a life erase.

Some memories never multiply,

but new ones leave their trace...

Semper Fi

Take care-

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Between Awe and Wonder

A GARDEN is a lovesome thing, God wot!

Rose plot, Fringed Pool,Ferned grot-

The veriest school

Of peace; and yet the fool

Contends that God is not-

Not God?! in gardens! when the eve is cool?


But I have a sign;

Tis very sure...

God walks in mine.

Poem By Thomas Edward Brown (1830-1897)"My Garden"