Memory Seeds and Morning Glories

I was so moved when I read an article in Martha Stewart Living this month about her planting seeds that had been in a desk drawer for some fifty years that belonged to her father.  When she planted the lavender seeds and they flourished she created her own memory garden by seeing that same lavender that scented her childhood yard in her own present yard.  Her remembering her father so proud of that lavender in their sweet home, the scents and colors taking her to home.  How plants can become a part of our very being.

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I was overjoyed while digging through a box that we had been toting with us from place to place this last year.  A box of seeds.  Some no longer good, some gnawed by mice, some spilt, many, many ready to be planted.  I held up a small sandwich bag with little black diamond shaped seeds and knew instantly what they were.  The first seeds that I saved back before I had a green thumb were morning glories.  They grow easily and then offer up the gardener a well packaged bundle of crepe paper surrounding seeds to take on one’s journey. I planted them in my community garden plot.  I cannot wait to see their smiling faces again.

Thankfulness and Determination

 

familyThanksgiving.  I am thankful.  I am thankful for the soft, plush fur of my purring kitten that greets me each morning at dawn.  The pink glow of day through the trees as I awake.  The hot coffee, its earthy aroma and taste, filling me with life.  I am thankful and say “wado” do the Creator each day.

“It’s just material stuff.  You can’t take it with you!” folks say, then go to their warm homes and kitchens.  Easy for them to say.

I know friends and family that have lost children, spouses, their health.  They would rather have our lot.  I know.  We have so much to be thankful for.

My beautiful baby granddaughter is with me four days a week filling my spirit with light.  My children are healthy.  Beautiful.  Pursuing their dreams.  What more could I ask for?

I asked an organization in my county how one can be gifted with a basket of fresh vegetables.  They said they were distributing them to the people in the county in need.  Where do all these things get distributed?  They erased my request from the page.  I shiver without a coat.  Wear the same four outfits mismatched so they look like a new outfit.  We have lived on the kindness and loans from friends for five months.  What Doug makes from his new job goes to support the shop and gas to get to work.  He brings home expired pastries for our breakfast.

“I didn’t realize you were still struggling so much,” a friend says.  How do you talk about that kind of thing?  You don’t.

I am thankful that we have shelter.  When I used to say that it meant I was thankful for my house.  Now I am thankful not to be out of doors.  I am thankful for food.  I am thankful for friends.  And hugs and gifts and smiles and visitors and that I could hang on to my cats.  I am thankful for my husband.  I would not trade our marriage for anything in the world.

“We are definitely not living our life,” he says as I tell him about a video I saw of a woman who has lived off-grid for thirty years.

I started to doubt my own words that I write and speak about.  The manifesting your own destiny and dreams seem a little full of it now.  My roommate agrees.  There is great danger in making people feel like they can achieve anything.

I am thankful.  I am blessed.  I have everything I need.  This I know.  I need to get out there and help and inspire as many people as I can.  And mark my words, readers, this time next year I will be writing you from my farm on how to create a homemade Thanksgiving.

 

 

How a Farmgirl Got Her Groove Back

The sun peers over the edge of the horizon shedding light on a new day.  The rose colors dash through the maple tree and dance on the floor of our walkout basement apartment in the country.  It is as if we were eighteen again.  We have a studio apartment with a wood cook stove, microwave, and mini-fridge.  We have use of the shower and kitchen upstairs.  We help out around here in exchange for very low rent.  I cook meals.  I walk the grounds and hear the birds.  I try to figure out if the scat near my favorite trees to sit under is bear or raccoon.  I go to my shop where my granddaughter helps me make medicines.  Doug enjoys his job.  My heart is most recently repaired.

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Words of loved ones kept echoing in my mind and I knew I had to do something.  “Are you sure you are okay?”  “Are you losing weight?”  “I can’t believe anyone could take your voice.”  “Your heart is so wounded.  You need to repair that before you can move on with what your journey holds.”  “I know,” I whispered.

Time does heal.  A year ago we sat in our homestead on the prairie, tears in my eyes because of the cold.  My animals were freezing as were we.  There is blessed heat here.  Two wood stoves, an electric heater, central heating in the house, and a warm shop.  I heard goats yelling from across the street.  I wandered down the long driveway to catch sight of them.  Screaming, as they do, from an enclosed shed they waited impatiently for their morning meal.  I laughed and found myself happy I didn’t have farm chores to do that very cold morning.  I walked in the house for another cup of coffee.  Doug chops wood for the fire.  I am sure we will have animals in the future.  I transplanted five Jerusalem artichoke roots from Aunt Donna’s house here.  I’ll plant garlic.  We should be here to harvest them but if for some reason unforeseen I cannot, I enjoy planting them all the same.  A buck passes the window.  Big floppy ears.  I wish he allowed hugs.  The frost melts as the sun hits it.  The alpacas next door slowly making their way through the pasture.  It is magical here.

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I went to our favorite hiking place.  I went alone.  I chose rocks.  I put two on the east side of the small circle I was creating.  I put one in the south.  One in the west.  One in the north.  Three in the middle for Father Sky, Mother Earth, and the Ceremonial fire.  I offered tobacco to the Creator.  Sprinkled cedar for the spirits and my ancestors.  I offered sage.  I placed a larger rock symbolizing my heart in the south where childlike wonder and fun reigns.  I released the harsh words told to me that made me quit writing.  I released the loss of our things and our lifestyle and embraced the now and the lesson and journey we are on.  I released my broken heart.  An eagle flew over the valley as I sat there.  I breathed in the fresh air of life and smiled.

Sunrises, Gratitude, and Magic Coffee

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Today I unpack our books and photos, writings and my aprons.  I will make this downstairs area emanate life and our love for each other and home.  Tomorrow we will pick up all my plants from the greenhouse at Margie’s and will be officially moved out of her home.

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I owe Margie and Pat a great amount of gratitude for taking us in while in the depths of despair holding nine cats.  We made such beautiful memories over there this summer, flying in Pat’s airplane, feeding the raccoon on the porch while watching bats, enjoying drinks together as the moon rose over the horizon of trees.  Their graciousness held no bounds and I am truly thankful.

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The shop continues to change and form each day.  Each day it looks more and more like how I envisioned it.  And in mad rushes it will be done and ready to open Tuesday with cups of tea and glowing medicines ready to pour.

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But now I sit here as the dawn stretches and rises quietly over the earth illuminating all the autumn splendor and old trees as the cool breeze awakes the upper branches.  My spirit is tired and my back is sore but I sit in peace with my cup of coffee.  These things we hold onto to bring us joy.  A sip of this coffee brings me back to years of holidays, and years of happiness.  Each sip holds magic.  We call it Christmas coffee but I start it in October.  A sweet reminder of all the fun to come, of trick-or-treating, sharing Thanksgiving meals, of the childlike wonder of Christmas and Hanukkah, and the new beginnings of the New Year.

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This year (and last) may have been a wild ride, but all I feel at this moment is peace and intense gratitude.  For the memories with my children and family and friends that are family, for sunrises so beautiful they erase the previous day, and for sips of magic coffee.

In a coffee pot, or preferably a French press, add 2 drops of peppermint essential oil to regular scoops of coffee ( I do like a nice strong roast myself, 7 heaping scoops to an 8 cup press) and brew as you would.

Magic.

When Homesteading is Life

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When one is faced with starting over there is an underlying gift involved.  One that creates space.  Yes, it is sad to lose everything one owns and it is odd to have to reinvent one’s occupation and lifestyle but what this creates is a place to only bring back in what one loves.  What one needs.  What improves life and doesn’t clutter or overwhelm it.

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I am living in a beautiful home with friends.  Electricity is used as needed and sometimes when not.  I have relearned to use a dishwasher and a dryer.  We flip on lamps to read.  I walk around their house in the evening squinting for the overhead lights are so bright.  I do not like overhead or artificial lights.  My forever farm will have oil lamps again.  I miss them, love them, feel better by them, and will not miss turning on the switch.

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I rinse and lightly scrub dishes and put them in the dishwasher.  One more good rub and these dishes could be put away.  I do not feel I need one.  The dryer has been fun and makes laundry day a snap with these beautiful machines but I miss hearing the flick of the clothes as I snap them in the air before placing them on the line while listening to birds and taking a few breaths to myself as I enjoy the outdoors.  My clothes, wrinkle free and not shrunk coming off the line in piles of aroma that could not be matched with dryer sheets.  “Perhaps I will love city life again or at least modern conveniences,” I thought.  Wrong.

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Right now we don’t miss milking twice a day but we really miss our chickens.  I haven’t eaten more than four servings of fresh food all summer.  My gardens filled with bounty in my memory and planning.  No eggs, no produce, and no milk on hand is sobering.  Maybe we will get a milking goat again, I know not as of yet, but the chickens and gardens will be taking over available space on the forever farm.

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Our neighbors hope we get the place.  They miss us and our goats.  We have only been farmless for a month and a half so perhaps more things I miss will come up.  But we will start house with as little as if we have just left home.  Mementos and little else.  No clutter, only build what we love and treasure in our new home.

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We are having trouble securing work that pays over minimum wage despite our experience and education.  Another interesting dilemma.  But, we are following open doors and not trying to force our way through bolted ones.  Let’s see where this meandering path leads us.

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“It’s a good thing you know how to homestead!,” my friend exclaimed.  She said that most people faced with our situation moving to the country with little wages would think they wouldn’t survive!

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I know how to build a fire, how to can, how to preserve, I know friends who raise their own livestock for meat, I know how to make bread from scratch, and how to make a corn field come up in a driveway.  I am not worried.  I got this.

Act Two

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Our blessings come to the forefront of each day.  The days we watch our granddaughter, Maryjane, are full of laughter and fun.  We talk into the evening with the great friends we share home with.  We are going to a slumber party tonight at my cousin’s house.  It will be as if we were twelve again, except this time our parents won’t come roaring downstairs because of our inability to stop laughing.  Meals, karaoke, time with family, another break from the ordinary.  We know we would never be on the streets, so many great friends and family do we have.  All the light of our days made the focus now.  What beauty these days bring!

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In our time of renewed beginnings, our journey starts with rest and entertainment.  Things we missed out on for too long because of our focused life.  Our bodies don’t miss the intense gardening, farm work, and homesteading activities but my spirit does.  Filling my time with writing, hiking, visiting, sitting on the porch, playing with the baby, and dreaming of the next venture is surely a great way to begin the next half of my life.

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All of our experiences up to this point find themselves seamlessly woven in the book I am writing just as easily as folks I have known make themselves into characters, changed, altered, romanticized.  As if the last forty-plus years were an exercise in designing settings and characters for books.

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My future gardens await, my sewing room is out there, my large kitchen will be grand, my home will be mine, books to be written.  I read about a woman in her nineties who wrote her first book, an award winning compilation of poems.

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Friends, my best is yet to come.

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The Discombobulated Farmer

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I can’t seem to wake up at dawn anymore.  I hear a rooster crowing from down the street.  I hear my goat, Isabelle, yelling for food at her new home two blocks away.  I try to push the pit out of my stomach.  The heaviness will not lift.  I turn over and fall into listless sleep.  I find myself falling asleep in the car, crying suddenly, and feeling hopeless.  I guess I am experiencing a bit of depression.  Without a to-do list I feel bored and useless.  For the first time in my life I do not have a job that helps people.  I do not have a job at all.  I wonder if I fell off the face of the earth would anyone notice.  I am not feeling suicidal, just struggling with who I am without a purpose, a to-do list, a goal, a dream, a busy life.

We used to dream of these days.  We would read and write and walk and be on a kind of vacation.  However I am struggling with my own identity and fate and rewriting the chapters has proven more difficult than I imagined.  To be fair, it hasn’t been that long.  Perhaps I will fall into a gentle wave of security.  The characters in the novel I am working on introduce themselves and create themselves in times of silence.

We need to finish up at the house that destroyed me.  Giving all of my possessions away has been an interesting venture.  Folks that were in the very same situations as ours gather replacements for things they lost to give homesteading another go.  Our goal with the farm and homesteading school was to encourage folks to be more self reliant and to try homesteading.  And in a twist of fate our final chapter was to give people what they needed to set up shop.

For years Doug and I have given things away.  Given gifts.  Given medicines.  Helped people out.  Helped wherever we were needed but now that the tables are turned, so to speak, I find that it was easier to give then to receive.   To receive a blessing is to be humbled and thankful.

Our friends have opened their home to us and our cats.  As cat people they know that giving away our felines would be the final knife to me.  To lose my cats is unthinkable.  I struggle with feeling awkward in their home, with being in the way, with being a nuisance.  Rodney and Pat took us on a trip.  Monte and Erik took us out to dinner.  Kat and Rod bought us lunch and helped us move.  Sara helped us move the cats.  Kim and her family came and cleaned out the dreaded refrigerator at the near empty house.  Thank you.  It is not easy to be in need.

At a particular low point we pulled into the library and to my surprise my girls happened to be there.  Those three smiles can brighten my day.  Friends out of nowhere showed up and invited us to an event.  We have been visiting.  Grandma broke her knee and is recovering well in a rehab.  Thompson had a heart attack and two strokes.  He, too, will be alright and it was nice to visit him.  We saw our son, Andy, and his girlfriend yesterday.  Our schedule is free to reconnect and visit with folks.  I must open my eyes and see the blessings before me.  To humbly accept.  To be grateful.  To embrace this new path into the unknown.  To free myself of this heaviness and enjoy the greatest blessing, LIFE.

Being Set Free (a thrilling week long adventure)

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We are strong believers in karma, whatever you put out will come back, usually ten fold, and we watch ourselves pretty closely.  We really try to put out only positive and happy vibes.  So this came as such a shock to us.  We were so friendly, put so much work and money here, why did we lose so much?  It’s laughably ironic that I write about and that we went from so close to self reliance to completely reliant.  Completely.  Reliant.

As each thing leaves the house I am saddened as it feels that the memory is lost with it too.  Our trip to California, that sweet Christmas gift, antique shopping in Evergreen, our friendships, all walking out the door for practically nothing.  Of course those memories and people are still with me, in the literal or spiritual sense and as we unburden our existence with so many material things, we feel lighter.

And I wonder if the karma coming to us is not bad, it’s a gift.  It’s good.  I have written about our day in the life of a homesteader, and our businesses, and our to-do lists.  They exhaust my friends just reading them.  We are being set free from ourselves!

I am daring to imagine an existence where my morning starts the same, with coffee on the porch with my cat, and writing, but then doesn’t turn into a frenzy of trying to keep up.  In this little cottage we do not need 500+ preserved food items to be put up.  We do not need to chop 4 cords of wood.  We do not have to milk twice a day.  We do not have to make enough money to feed all the hungry farm animals.  We do not have to make cheese and soap and lotion and try to find the strength to do yet another farmer’s market.  We are being set free.  So long have Doug and I worked sun up to sun down with businesses, committees, children, and homesteading.  We love it, but the idea of something different does intrigue us.  If I want to do those some of those things, I can.  If I don’t, then we can walk around town and find ourselves listening to live music in the park on Tuesday nights.  We are being set free.

We will be working on building a tiny house.  We will be co-creating beautiful, practically maintenance-free gardens, we will be teaching, but we will be doing it slowly and methodically in the middle of a town where we can find new teachers and friends and find each other in our honeymoon cottage.  What a gift.

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This week on this blog I would like to write about various ways to set ourselves free.  How to find a closer connection to Creator, mental and emotional releases, herbal teas for spiritual use, easy ways to strengthen the body, to bring back health, to bring on inspiration and to make some dreams start coming true, and just setting ourselves free from anything that weighs us down.  I hope you’ll join me!  It’s going to be a freeing week!

Option 6 (the good and the bad)

Watching owls take flight.

We just had dinner with two of our dear friends.  I met one at the coffee shop in Elizabeth some years ago and she and I connected immediately.  The other one of them is a shaman, a well respected man in the Native community, and a man I greatly respect.  He leads a Talking Circle.  We had them in our home for Thanksgiving.  We enjoy each other’s company.  We help people in different ways.  I am speaking to the kids at his summer program about herbs, the physical and emotional uses.  I have been working with herbs much more lately for myself for spiritual uses.  I am working on a devotional that focuses on words to meditate on and the spiritual blend of herbs to drink as tea and what they do.  My whole identity as an herbalist has been changing.  I have been growing stronger.  And life around me is changing.  It has been changing.  I saw the signs.

I lamented that we are moving back to the city.  “Maybe the Creator wants you closer to the community to help.”  There are many, many more people that I could help that cannot get to the middle of nowhere south of Calhan.

We still need to sell most everything we own.  And we are still going out on the road, albeit a shorter trip.  We have no one that can watch all of our cats while we are gone.  And the girls cannot afford an apartment on their own right now.  I am Maryjane’s babysitter.  We are still needed here.  So we will travel a bit in the next few months then move back to the city where Doug will get a computer job.  The dreaded option #4.  I will still work with herbs and teach and write and see where this journey is taking us.

A lot of people I know, actually, are going through tremendous changes right now.  As if the universe fell sideways and back up for a second!  So, this could change tomorrow.  San Diego or Illinois to New York?  For how long?  To visit whom?  To write.  To rest.  We won’t have goats to milk, chickens to feed, a dog to let out, or for the first time in a long time, no garden to tend.  Then we start over.  Is there anything even out there for rent?

What will this blog become if I am not a farmgirl?  Only time will tell, and in the meantime, I am still writing.  Thanks for following.