Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Cowless Farm

I admit it. I'm new to this whole "farm" thing.

Not that I am new to country life per se, just the farm life. I cut my teeth on chopping wood and climbing mountains, four-wheeling and tree climbing.

Not tractors, horses and enormous gardens, and certainly not whole fields of potatoes.

We'd have loved to have a big garden, but where I come from, pretty much everyone lives on the side of a mountain with rocks and clay for dirt. We had a few fruit trees and a couple of squash mounds on our little almost-an-acre piece of land. But hey! It did have a spectacular view, which was pretty much all anybody wanted out there, anyway.

I never met a horse I liked until I was married. And even then it took me a while to get over how big the creatures were and to not hold my breath as I walked through the barnyard, hoping no one would kick me, bite me, or step on me.

I did eventually get over that and managed to actually enjoy feeding and taking care of the big lugs. 'Cause we really didn't get around to riding them much. Especially after the kids came along. Every time I get on a horse now I think my hips are going to rip apart! Seriously, I have enough of that feeling to deal with when giving birth. It's really not my idea of fun to feel like that while attempting to gain a hobby!

Ah well, maybe some day they'll get me back on a horse. Like maybe after my body glues itself back together. Or maybe after they've given me painkillers beforehand. Or maybe tranquilizers. Who knows. Anything's possible.

Right now we don't have any big critters around. Just a few dogs and and a couple barn cats. I know the day is coming when the kids will begin their chorus of:

"MO-oM!! We want a pony!!!!!"

"Can we have a PONY?! Please please please please????"

"Mom, you and Dad promised on July 29, 2008 that we would someday be able to have a horse to ride and take care of if we could just prove our level of responsibility, and since I have recorded here in this notebook all of the chores and money savings and schoolwork goals that were previously talked about, I believe it is now time to begin the process of looking for the right horse."

That last one would be Joshua in 2 years. He's the lawyer of the family, complete with a memory that misses and forgets NOTHING.

A mind like a steel trap, like some in the family would say.

And then we will sigh and probably begin the process of looking for the right horse.

Right now I'm all about the garden prep and the wonderful possibilities for the garden, an orchard, rows of berry bushes, maybe even a small portion of the field sown with oats or wheat or something, and an artesian well. And maybe a few interim critters to fill the empty barn!

Colby says I'm crazy. I mean, I can hardly keep up with feeding the kids and creatures we have around here now! Poor little Twert is always looking at me with forlorn eyes and following me around until I finally notice he's out of food AND water and has been for who knows how long.


AKA "Shickens". I wouldn't mind having some of them. Lots of farm-type people have chickens.

I could do chickens.

I know nothing about keeping chickens.

But I could learn! Probably the hard way, with some of them eaten by a renegade "Piggy" dog (our Aussie).

But eventually I'd get the hang of it.

I'd probably have stressed out chickens constantly molting 'cause I'd be forgetting to feed them and the dogs would be barking at 'em all day.


Maybe then I ought to go for a couple of cows. We have the pasture for it. Maybe they'd eat the horrid Russian thistle out there. Maybe I shouldn't suggest that until I know if it's poisonous for them or not. Hmm.

At least cows seem to be pretty laid back. I can't see them getting all molty if the dogs are barking at them.

But you know, on second thought, I don't think I'll have cows.

Cows can be pretty disgusting.

At least the cows down the road from us can. Maybe those ones are seriously too far inbred or something. Oh, I know, mad cow's disease. Or Hoof-In-Mouth! Maybe that's it.

What other explanation can you come up with for cows that think when one of their buddies is relieving her bladder it's a warm, yellow drinking fountain?!


Yeah. No cows here.

Anyone have a goldfish they'd like to sell me?

To "E" or Not to "E"

When we had our first daughter more than 4 years ago, we went to the hospital without a name picked out. It was a completely different scenario than with our first child.

Joshua was a surprise. We didn't know if it was a boy or a girl until a minute or two after he made his entrance when I finally remembered to look - after a bit of prompting by the audience at hand!

And yet, even with the big question mark hanging over our head, we only had the foresight to pick out a single boy's name.

We had no girl's name picked out. Not even a list of possibilities, really.

Emmy's birth was completely different. We knew it was going to be a little girl coming home from the hospital with us, and yet we still couldn't narrow the name list down below three names.

It kind of depended on how she looked when she was born!

To tell the truth, she didn't look completely like ANY of the names on the list to me, but Emma Leigh sort of fit her the best of the options, and Colby was convinced that's what she was, so at the insistence of the nurse at hand, we quickly named her and scrambled to make sure she was spelling it right!

Little did I know that I'd be having a second daughter so quickly after the first! Or a third one after that!

With Elayna we happened across another "E" name we liked and thought sounded good with the first "E" name we had, and so we had her name picked out well before she was born. It made sense, too, since our boy's name that we liked was a second "J" name, so when or if we ever had another boy, we'd have "J" names for the boys and "E" names for the girls.

We never really considered the option of having a third girl.

Another "E"?

Are there any more nice "E" names to be had? I certainly never would have picked that letter out of the alphabet to make all my girls' names from!

Do we really want to continue the popular trend like the Duggars and the Kardashians? Or should we ditch that and name her whatever name we like best at the moment?

My husband is quite the traditionalist, having had a very uncommon name himself, and being a history buff, loves the old fashioned names. I just like to keep my options open and not feel obligated to name my child one thing because everyone has heard about the favorite option if I happen to change my mind the moment I see her!

I think I just kind of psych myself out now and then by picking a name I really like and then saying it over and over again to myself until it sounds... odd. And then I have to move on to the next name on the list until I wear that one out, too. It's different when you don't have any sort of tangible person or thing you are talking to or referring to in conversation!

Try it! Just pick a word - any word - and start saying it over and over to yourself. Perhaps you should try doing this at home, and not in public, but whatever floats your boat. Grab a random object close at hand, say, a shoe, and throughout the day, say the word silently or out loud and think about the spelling, how it sounds as you speak, etc. At the end of the day, I can almost guarantee you'll think it's a weird word.

So, to sum it up here, Colby has nicely settled on having another girl with an "E" name and I am busily trying not to wear out my favorites long before the big day comes. We still have a few weeks before we have to make up our minds, after all!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

My Heart Will Go On

Has it really been 10 years?

A whole decade?

I can hardly believe that so much time has passed since that day, but then I think of my kids, all growing so fast and my oldest going on 7.

It must really have been 10 years ago that we all sat around our table at Macaroni Grill and Raini and I drew out our perfect plans for the future in crayon. 10 years since we wandered around the river bank and took pictures of the way it was back then and listened to the wind weave its way through the trees. 10 years since we sang, “Happy Birthday” to a young man who would only know one more birthday.

I was driving home from the grocery store a couple of weeks ago, all the kids with Daddy at home, I was alone and I decided to put in an old cd from the case that’s been gathering dust under the seat in my car.

The first one I grabbed I hardly looked at as I shoved it in.

Celine Dion.

It had been… I dunno, years since the last time I’d played that cd. I couldn’t even remember what songs were on it. The first few songs reminded me of singing like a diva in the privacy of my bedroom my senior year of high school. And once for an unsuspecting audience. Oy.

Then this one song came on. I remember the first time I heard it in the theater as the last scenes of Titanic fell out of sight on the screen.

“Love can touch us one time, and last for a lifetime, and never let go ’till we’re gone.”, Celine sang to us. At that moment in time, the power of that song was in the intensity of feelings involved with letting go of my first boyfriend the summer before senior year. You know, the first love, the first loss. It was the only kind of loss I could relate to, having been so nicely sheltered from many things in my younger years.

The pain of my first breakup was beginning to fade, and I was thinking maybe it was time to move on. But that song brought some of that back into focus and made it difficult to really open up to new friendships and possibilities.

About 6 weeks after I’d seen the movie the first time, I went with a group of friends to see it again. One of the guys in that group I actually had a teensy bit of a crush on.

We went to a tiny little theater closer to where the majority of those friends lived, and first we stopped at the apartment of the girl who lived there in town. It was an unlikely group. How the whole thing came about I am really not sure! We met at the marketplace where she worked, grabbed some sort of fizzy health food type soda drink, then headed across the road to her apartment.

I’d thought she still lived with her parents, since I had been there once for a hilarious overnight game of Murder in the Dark and since she was younger than me and I was no where near ready to move out of the nest and spread my wings.

But then, there I was, standing in her apartment in the upstairs of one of the little downtown brick buildings. The kitchen was tiny, but had everything needed to cook any kind of meal you wanted. Her living room was a bump with a lamp and a futon, but it was a nice little place all in all. She stood in her kitchen, laughing easily with the three boys surrounding her, confident in her strengths and her weaknesses. She held down her own job and paid her own bills, managed her own household.

I couldn't think of anything to say. I hardly knew how to talk to boys, even the ones I’d known all my life. I was so awkward and shy. Compared to her, I was a childish country bumpkin.

I stood there in the doorway, out of place.

Then he looked up at me, and smiled, and soon we were walking out the door and down the street to the theater. I didn’t make enough conversation, and soon Carl fell into step beside me and tried to draw me into some sort of sociable small talk. I looked at his face, open, kind, his smile, and I couldn’t help but smile back.

We’d spent some time together in our church group over the past few months, but there was still an awkward unspoken conversation that we hadn't had. I was flattered by the fact that he had chosen to walk beside me.

I stole a sideways glance and blushed furiously. Thank goodness it was dark.

We filed into the theater: Jeremy, then Erika, with John on her other side. Then me, and finally, Carl.

Hmmm. I had him all to myself!

But John monopolized most of my conversation, anyway. Carl hadn’t seen the movie before, and both of them were shocked and dismayed when I couldn't help but start crying towards the end.

"What? Why? Really, why are you crying? Are you okay?", They took turns asking.

After the movie Jeremy said his goodbyes and walked back to his car. John walked Erika to her apartment, and Carl walked me to my car. We didn’t say much. He still wanted to know if I was going to be okay, and I left with the sadness of the movie still getting me down.

With a sigh I drove away, and soon the tears resumed their course down my face.

Now I can't help but wonder if I would have stayed longer there in the parking lot with him. If I would have just let the shyness slip away and talk of anything and everything, if I would have sat up all night with him, laughing and talking if I could have just known then how silly the awkwardness really was.

I mean, really. Is there any good in regretting things like being shy, feeling awkward around boys when I was a teenager, or hoping a guy would notice me but please, oh, please don't talk to me? Not really. But looking back now it seems so foolish to worry so much about stumbling over my words or losing my train of thought as soon as I'd feel myself start to blush.

At the same time, I know how much potential trouble that shyness kept me out of while spending 4 years in a public high school.

I wouldn't go back and change the person that I was then. I wouldn't take the innocence away early in order to get the knowledge of what is worth appreciating and what hang-ups are unimportant in the long run.

Sometime a month or two after that group outing Carl and I had the ultimately awkward talk where he 'let me down gently' so to speak. Apparently I was more of a "sister-friend" than a "girl-friend". And that was okay. Our family started going more often to a smaller church closer to us for several reasons, and for a couple of years I didn't see very much of Carl.

But a couple of years can make a lot of difference. In college I lost a lot of awkwardness, gained a bit of hide, and thankfully learned to speak to guys without a constant level of redness usually reserved for fire extinguishers and stop signs. We had a good group of friends, hung out a lot with the crew, bombing around the mountains of northern California, and made some pretty amazing memories that year. We were friends. No longer playmates of childhood, no longer trapped in the teenage confusion, but securely friends in the life-long "known-you-since-we-were-knee-high-to-a-grasshopper" sense.

Soon after Titanic was released in theaters, "My Heart Will Go On" became a popular song to play on the radio. Mixes popped up with quotes from the movie scattered through it, and I heard it a lot over the next year. It never once made me think of anyone that first boyfriend I was missing at the time I first saw the movie.

Until that night a couple of weeks ago. The words no longer held on to the memory of my first love. Maybe because now I know that he wasn’t the love of my life. Maybe because now I’ve known loss and pain that go far deeper than the pain I felt then in losing my first boyfriend. Because now I know what those words really mean.

“You’re here, there’s nothing I fear,
And I know that my heart will go on,
We’ll stay forever this way,
You are safe in my heart and,
My heart will go on and on.”

You are safe in my heart, Carl.

More importantly, you are safe in the heart of One who cares infinitely more.

He knows.

He remembers every detail of your smile, your laugh, your friendships, your struggles and your triumphs. He remembers every little thing that brought you joy, that made you laugh, that made your heart soar. He doesn't even need a song to remind Him of those precious moments of your life.

He remembers the rest, too. And for those things He died.

And He rose again.

See you in heaven, my friend.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Overheard While Minding My Own Business

Really, I was minding my own business, but I couldn't help but overhear this hilarious conversation while in Florida:

Great Grandma #1 to her Sister-In-Law: "While I was at the Doctor's office yesterday he said I was 'in pretty good shape for being a Little Old Lady!!!!'"

Chagrin at being called a "Little OLD lady" clearly expressed in her tone of voice.

Great Grandma #2: "Oh yeah? I asked my doctor about the side effects of coumadin since he wants to start me on that now, and he said, 'Oh, well, those side effects are really for those who will be on the drug LONG-TERM.'"

Great Grandma #1 gasped and I have to admit, I nearly spit out my juice as I listened to them cackle about the whole thing.


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