Birthday Travels Through the Southwest (and the year of learning and adventure)

As adults we don’t seem to celebrate birthdays with the same festivity as when we were children, but I think all birthdays are incredibly special.  Having lost many friends at a young age, I know that each birthday is a great time to reevaluate, reground, regroup, and to be filled with gratitude.  Each lesson leading into another great discovery and memories fill the spaces in our days and lives with those we love and experiences to treasure.


Last year was my year of bravery.  I shaved off all of my hair for my birthday.  It was freeing and light and was like the world’s burdens had been lifted off of my shoulders.  Now of course I am trying to grow out with some semblance of normalcy!


My birthday is Sunday.  This year is my year of adventure and learning.  My farm is ready to really increase food production with experiments, new gardens, and my greenhouse.  I am registered for school in the fall.  But before everything gets really amped up, we are going on a ten day trip through New Mexico and Arizona.


We will be staying with our dear, dear friends, Monte and Erik, whom we haven’t seen since they moved away over three years ago.  My friend from high school (26 years since I have seen her) is down there, as is one of Doug’s (30 years), and my wonderful Great-Aunt Lila.  I have never been to Arizona and I am excited to see the land and the people.  There are restaurants, parks, and museums to discover!  Sun to soak up!  Glasses of wine to clink with dear ones.  The overnights to and from Arizona in New Mexico I look forward to and always savor.  Chimayo is calling me.  So, for the next ten days I will be reporting to you from the fabulous Southwest with inspirations, ideas, and life.




Pa and His Present


Two of my favorite people in my world are celebrating their birthdays.  My beautiful granddaughter, Maryjane Rose, who adds so much sunshine and love to our family arrived five years ago this morning.  It was a snowy March day and we were snowed into the hospital.  The next morning dawned bright as Pa celebrated his birthday with a stuffed animal from the gift shop and a new baby girl.


“What should we get Pa for his birthday?” I asked Maryjane while we were shopping.  She looked at me blankly.  “Nothing,” she replied seriously, “am his present!”  She is all of our present.  She brought our family closer than we could imagine.  She is such a lovely soul.


And so the next few days will be filled with festivities.  We believe in celebrating birthdays to the max around here because each day is not guaranteed and each year is truly a gift. And each soul in our lives truly matter.  Each day with these two loves of mine give me more joy than I can type.


I am thankful.  Maryjane and grammie

Join me in sending some love and good wishes across the line to Doug and Maryjane.  Happy birthday you two!

The Simply Perfect Gift


When I was very young, perhaps five or six,  I received a gift.  It was a homemade box that my Great Uncle Lee had made me.  It was rectangular, small, but big enough to hide candies, or photos, or pens, or whatever treasures I should encounter.  It had a picture of me on the front with a little frame.  My small fingers could easily unclasp the latch to peer inside.   Such a simple gift but such a meaningful one.  In the world of mass marketing and advertising, in a world of throw away and break easy gifts, what a magnificent gift that box was.


I thought of this as I painted a plain box.  I needed a box to hold sacred feathers in.  I picked up one at Michael’s that was plain and unfinished.  I suppose one could easily build one, but I have never been one to build anything easily.  I painted it a lovely turquoise.  I thought a white silhouette of a feather painted on top would be striking but it turned out looking spindly and unfinished.  Emily took the box from me and properly painted on a feather.  Perfect.  I could add a clasp or a ribbon to hold it shut but it closes so that is enough for me.

A box given as a gift, carefully embellished or painted.  Decoupaged photographs on front or vintage newspaper, painted flowers or magical glitter, all depending on whom the box is meant for, is a personalized gift.  A mother might have hers filled with photos or letters or notes of appreciation.  A graduate may have a journal and a bit of cash added.  A child may have a tokens of treasure or an empty box for the imagination.  Goodness, a box has infinite possibility.  A decorated box is a perfect gift.

Happy Birthday to the Littlest Farmgirl

This kid.


This kid is three years old today.  From the moment she was born, our world lit up, much like a firecracker, with this little spunky, fun, highly smart, lovely little girl.

When asked what she wants for her birthday she will reply, “Sheep.  Big ones.”

She has been a farmgirl from birth (after all, she was named for the magazine, Maryjane’s Farm).  She was lain in the dirt while we gardened around her.  Sat in the holes the dog dug with her shovel.  Fed the chicken and gathered eggs by six months old.  Rode sheep around their pen.  Milked goats.  Cooed over ducklings.  Harvested vegetables.  Loves the rodeo.  She was pretty perturbed with me that I wasn’t going to be on a farm today with her sheep.  I told her when she was four, she’d have a farm.  She doesn’t live with me, but you know, what is Grammie and Papa’s is pretty much Maryjane’s!

She does yoga when time allows, breaths deep, knows herbs and how to help people, is planning her garden, pow-wow dances, and dreams of sheep.  She is my sweet little friend and we are so blessed to have her in our life.

So, here’s to getting Maryjane’s Farm.  Happy Birthday, Maryjane Rose!



The Joy of Celebrating Birthdays


Two of my favorite people have birthdays.  Who could have told me the intense connection and recognition of a new soul that I would feel upon seeing the small creature born from my daughter’s womb?  I think I must have known her in a past life, I think I understand her completely.  I am enthralled by her feisty personality, her silent communication (just like her mother’s), and her mischievous smile, in a person two feet tall!


Was it really two years ago that I announced her birth?  Our princess, Maryjane Rose, is two years old the 8th.  A tea party and mass gift giving will ensue.  Five sets of grandparents will gather, three could not make it, a huge family adores this little girl.  We are so blessed to have her.


And behind the scenes, snowed into a hospital two years ago, holding a new life, a new life for us, was Doug who spent his birthday cradling his first grandchild.  My partner in all things from business, to celebration, to mourning, to farming, to family, to friendship.  He is my stability and a part of my very soul.


So, happy birthday my dear Maryjane and Doug (Papa).  Wishing us all many, many more years of celebrations of life and love and family!

Emily at Eighteen (Happy Birthday!)


“Oh Emily, so sweet and true

Oh Emily, my love for you extends beyond a thousand miles

Will see us through a thousand trials

All I see and know to be right,

disappear from my sight,

as my adoration for you surrounds us like light.”

March 1997

a long time ago


I think Maryjane looks a lot like her mother!

I think Maryjane looks a lot like her mother!


Emily at Eighteen, a beautiful sight

sweet and kind, a joyous light

a stubborn streak, a knowing grin

a good friend to seek, a great passion within.

And now another from your womb

brings even more light to this room

And the world spins and I have won

with my girls life gets lots more fun.


I am honored to be the mother of one so dear

Emily, you grow more beautiful with each passing year.


Happy Birthday!





Photo Glimpse of Farm, Family, Life

baby and dollar

We went and visited our friends, Lisa, Lance, Brandon, and Brett, on their homestead.  Maryjane is such a little animal lover and horse whisperer already.  Her friend, Tuvia (Lisa and Lance’s grandson) was there to play with her and together they visited with cows, chickens, horses, and dogs.  A farm girl in the works!

barn yard

The aftermath of the cold was sobering but not surprising.  Everything in the cold frame was gone.  I just received this cold frame as a barter for a class so I am still new to it.  Should I have packed it with straw?  Covered it with a blanket?  Brought everything in?


The bees activity couldn’t help but remind me of Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail”.  “Bring out your dead…” kept ringing in my mind as the bees studiously brought out dozens of dead bees, one still moving.  “I’m not dead yet!”


We went to a lovely birthday celebration for my future son-in-law and Maryjane’s daddy, Bret.  It was his 18th birthday.  This young man is just wonderful.  He is a devoted partner to my youngest daughter, Emily, and a doting father, who I rather fear is going to spoil that little girl rotten (if Grammie and Papa don’t beat him to it!).  He is finishing high school and going to college full time to be a diesel mechanic.  Very proud of the family they have become.  It was fun getting together with his rather large family at a nice restaurant and celebrating.

Doug and Bret

Doug and Bret

Bret and Maryjane

Bret and Maryjane

Me and Emily

Me and Emily

Lots of family

Lots of family

Bret's brother, Bailey and I try out taking a selfie.

Bret’s brother, Bailey and I try to take a selfie.

My girls

My girls

Cutie petutie.

Cutie petutie.

Outdoors temperatures have rose to the thirties and forties and it feels like a heat wave!  I sat outside for a moment with my face to the sun taking in the warmth and the light.  I love the sun.  The animals are cuddling together to keep the warmth and all is well and peaceful at our little farm.



I hope this finds you, dear reader, safe and warm and healthy in your own homestead.  And with less than a week before Thanksgiving, I ought to turn off the Christmas music, and start preparing for the Thanksgiving meal.  I am blessed to have friends and a few of the kids joining us this year.  We all have much to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for?


The Boy That Stole My Heart

I cannot believe that it was twenty one years ago when I fell in love.  He had curly brown hair and sweet blue eyes that would later turn to green.  He stole my heart instantly.


He was a playful little guy, always up for fun and adventure.  A twinkle in his eye and a wide smile always greeted me in the mornings.  He adored animals.  I had a wolf hybrid at the time that took him in as his own pack.  Andrew was a modern day Mowgli.  He ran about the back yard on all fours, never really learning to crawl, howling at sirens, and yes, peeing on trees.  He would sit on the large dog and jump through windows to get outside with him.  He didn’t care for clothing much and for a stint, while he was two, would only wear a karate belt.  He would mimic Bruce Lee in the living room and then would love to be snuggled and kissed.


He loved his new little sister when she joined the household and then his other sister the following year.  He was extremely protective, and still is, and kind to them.  He certainly had his moments of being a rough and tumble big brother, but that is to be expected.  He was the ring leader of their trio and kept the girls busy outdoors for years until he went off to college.  He developed board games, and hideouts, and hours and hours of make believe fun.


When he was in fifth grade, he thought himself to be a pirate.  A real one.  He got his ear pierced on his upper ear and had a gold hoop.  He wore a bandana.  He was adorable.  He wasn’t trying to be adorable, he was trying to be a pirate.  Andy would get in trouble in school for not reading the required age level books.  He preferred the high school level because that’s where all the pirate books were at.  Treasure Island was his favorite.  When he loves something, he learns everything about it.  So when we went to St. Thomas on a family vacation he had to correct the tour guide respectfully a few times.   This child knew everything about Blackbeard and pirates.  What a great time that was.


As he got older he was interested in youth group, girls (except he was too shy), and writing.  He started making music, and learned eight instruments.  He would walk around town playing his banjo for city workers.  He and the girls were homeschooled and spent a lot of time playing music, writing books, and playing in the park.  He and his future wife would meet when she was six and he eight in the neighborhood, and when she was thirteen and he fifteen they became a couple.  Being the only daughter, her parents did not want her to date so they were off and on for five years until she turned eighteen.  We had moved to a neighboring city four years before and then he moved to Denver for school.  Time nor city could keep them apart.  They are getting married July 5th.


Andrew often calls or texts me.  At 6’1″ he is still my little boy.  He is a talented musician, writer, and performer.  He is still a kind person with a big heart.  I cannot believe the time that has passed since a very tired, barely nineteen year old, caught glimpse of her true love.  A little boy named Andrew.  Happy Birthday Sunshine!


The Important Things In Life


Through it all, is there nothing more lovely than family and friends?  Despite our heartbreaking moments this weekend, it was also a weekend filled with celebration.


A year ago Saturday I posted one of my all time most popular posts, And A Child Was Born, about our first granddaughter being born.  What a blessing.  No one could have told me how intense that love is for a child born to one’s child.  She has filled our house and our lives with so much happiness and fond memories.  How grateful we are that, even though they are teenagers, Emily and Bret decided to keep and raise the most beautiful princess, Maryjane Rose.


Doug’s birthday was Sunday and we all headed out for pizza with our kids and their boy/girl friends.  Then onto an amusement center where we wiled the hours away with bowling, laser tag, and ski ball with friends and family.  A nice change from the solemnity of the farm, I tell you!


It is entirely possible that we will be adopting a day old bottle baby goat kid tomorrow.  I shall keep you posted.

Thanks for being a part of our lives, if through sharing our small town, joining in our family memories, are blood related, or through script, I love being a part of such a large community of friends, talented writers, and family.