Tuesday, April 30, 2013


   It's early Tuesday morning following the 2013 OKC Memorial marathon. The sun is still snuggled deep in the purple-black folds of the eastern sky. I am only half a cup of perfect coffee into this new day. Nothing is awake outside. Not a rooster, not a horse, not even the cranked up tree frogs who will serenade us to sleep if we let them. Wait, I do hear a goose. I think we all know which one. 

   The house feels hot and stuffy, so I open the kitchen door and enjoy the crisp breeze that promises another gorgeous day. Now the dining room is flooded with delicate birdsong and the hum of the interstate a couple of miles south.

   I feel like anything is possible.

   I know that anything is possible, so I choose my thoughts and prayers carefully. With those tightly reined, I can dream wildly. With abandon and trust.

   My feet crave the cool, spongy path of clover between the raised garden beds. My shoulders crave the sun. My eyes and nose crave a broad, curving expanse of herbs growing outside the kitchen window. I want to swim in the pond that is still topping its highest ridge. I want to explore the forest, napping on the thick pine needle mattresses and finding wild mushrooms and roses.

   I want to love the people close to me more fiercely and more gently than ever.

   Running the half marathon was one of the most positive experiences of my life. Until finishing it myself, I would have found that statement a bit cliche. So if you want to roll your eyes when you read that, I get it. Truly. But you guys... So many unexpected things happen in your mind and your body on long runs; and then so many more things happen when you share a long run with thousands of strangers... particularly in remembrance of such an event as the Murrah Building Bombing of 1995. Ignoring the myriad awakenings would be such a waste.

   So today, two days after the event, my heart is full in ways I did not expect. I love our beautiful renaissance City even more. I feel more bonded to our people, the strangers for sure but also and especially my parents in law and my brother and nephew. I feel like celebrating life more fully than ever.

   There is so much reason to celebrate.

   There is so, so much living to do!

   How are you going about it today?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jangly Nerves & Positive Thinking

   The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is this weekend. As I type this, in about 58 hours thousands of people from all over the world will convene in our beautiful city and run different distances at varying speeds in remembrance of  April 19, 1995.

   And I will find out if I have prepared well enough for the half.

   Honestly, you guys, I am terrified. I am worried that I won't make it past mile 9 (the longest I have run so far) or that my yoga pants or the elastic of whatever stupid, not matching outfit I end up wearing that day will fail when everyone is looking. I am worried that 6:30 a.m. is too early for my body to do much of anything besides drink coffee, enjoy the sunrise, and watch chickens and llamas do their thing. Will Handsome be willing to have a 4 am Hot Tub Summit with me that day?
   I am worried that while running with strangers a big gust of Oklahoma wind will kick up on an unfamiliar urban hill and steal my favorite turquoise beekeeper's ball cap, Velcro fastener mangling my ponytail in the process, and that I will be so devastated that I exit the race to reclaim it. I will then trample someone's perfectly designed tulip-and-pansies flower bed and never show my face on the north side of town again. I am worried about embarrassing my little brother and our nephew, who are also running that day, and I'm desperately worried that my beautiful daughters will be there on the sidelines and feel embarrassed of me.

   For the past nine months or so I have been "training," sometimes strictly but often not. There has certainly been slow, steady progress; my abilities today are without a doubt beyond what they were last summer when this all started. But at this moment on Thursday evening before the race, a sort of panic is overtaking my confidence like an ugly oil spill.

   Side note #1: Isn't it interesting to note the nine months detail? 
Amazing things can happen with a woman's body in that slice of time.

   Enough negativity.

   No doubt about it, if I can get my thoughts and feelings under control then everything will be fine. The race will be a success. I will come home with my favorite hat and a medal to give my parents-in-law (I'm running for them), and no one will pretend like they don't know me. At least, not any more than they already do.

   Running is absolutely a mental game, and I recently enjoyed some proof of this fact. Would you like to hear a little story?

   This past Monday afternoon I went for exactly my second public run since junior high P.E. class. Running in public is a ginormous phobia for me, adding to my building sense of dread and doom for this weekend.

   I drove to a municipal park about twenty minutes from our farm, believing the paved track around it to be one mile. At home I am accustomed to running two miles before stopping for water, so at this park I planned to do the same. Two miles, which would be two laps. Right? I listened to the same music, kept my normal pace, and just kind of got lost in the zone.

   Side note #2: I used to regard sports metaphors with a special disdain, 
believing them to be contrived and super dorky and not sincere. 
Now I know they are anything but that. There really is such place as a zone, 
and it it's absolutely magical there.

   Back to Monday.

   I ran steadily, following this lovely paved path which alternated between sun and shade, semi-private and very public. I celebrated inwardly how friendly people are to runners. Then at the end of two laps I felt thirstier and much looser and more warmed up than I usually do after two miles. I checked my phone and saw that rather than twenty minutes, I had been running for almost an hour! It was shocking. I later confirmed the path I took was three point-something miles.

Side note #3: I have the best running music in the universe.

  The point this proves is that my body could fulfill the expectations placed on it by my mind. I thought I was running two miles, which is easy, so I just kept going. Easily. And it turned out to be six. Then grabbing one final three-mile lap was a breeze, and I finished nine miles giggling out loud.

   Once my mind was distracted and in the zone, my body naturally followed suit. I have no doubt that if I had been focused on difficulty, that would have been my experience.

   The whole thing is flat out exhilarating. The physical, the mental, the emotional... All of it.

   So while I cannot predict the exact results of Sunday's race, I can insist on a return to positive thinking and trust that it will foster a good experience. I can support my little brother and our nephew for their incredible efforts. I can thank my husband for supporting me in mine. And I can love and honor the people for who I am running, the rescue workers and morgue workers:

Harvey Wreath
Judy Wreath
Alan Prokop

   Thanks for listening to me sort this thing out. The big irony here is that running has become my stress reliever and at this eleventh hour, no matter how stressed I am, I'm not supposed to run anymore, just rest and stretch till Sunday.
   Continue to pray for the city of Boston, and when you wake up Sunday morning send me some positive vibes!

"Winning is not bout headlines and hardware (medals).
  It's only about attitude. A winner is a person who goes out today
  and every day and attempts to be the best person he can be.
  Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism,
  and never, ever, ever giving up."
~Amby Burfoot, Editor-at-Large, Runner's World

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cowbell and a Random List of Things

   Good Thursday morning, fine people! The Lazy W is awake and frosty and already bouncing with activity. Lots is happening these days, and I crave in my bones to write in detail about each and every item. But time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin... into the fuuuuutuuuuure... So as a result we have me writing once a week. How about a list today? Grab your morning's last cup of coffee and please join me.

Oklahoma has been experiencing earthquakes more frequently, and the farm is not far from a commonly identified epicenter. They are getting stronger, too. It doesn''t bother me that much unless Handsome is out of town, but it is one more thing to consider. Side note: as with thunderstorms and other wild weather events, our yard birds seem to know when earthquakes are soon coming. They roll in the sand, cluck excitedly, and fly about alerting us to imminent danger.

This past Sunday evening, Handsome and I welcomed our friends Luis and Kevin and three of their friends to the farm for dinner and a moonlit bonfire. Two of their friends were visiting from New Zealand, and we had the nicest time laughing, eating, and singing around the fire pit. One of the guys brought his acoustic guitar and treated us to so much good music. The out of country guests were as accommodating as you can imagine answering my gazillion questions about Kiwi culture and such. Now I want even more to visit their beautiful island nation down under. In the mean time I am faking a gorgeous (but really awkward because it's me...) Kiwi accent. To my ears it's even prettier than French.

My garden is marching forward like a stalwart soldier of chlorophyll. Growing and blooming, reaching toward the fickle sky with her tiny broccoli heads, ruffled spinach rows, and curling sweet pea vines. Even the squash and eggplants are thriving. Ignoring the frost. Daring winter to lash out again and again  The pastures are drinking up this abundant rain and cool temperatures, blushing deeper and deeper green every week. The pond is so high right now that I still cannot run my normal lap around the back field. It's a good problem to have, you guys. The fruit trees are straight and tall and heavy with variegated blooms. The hens are producing eggs like someone gave them magic egg-producing pills. Life is thrumming right along. I definitely celebrate the days when I get to stay home and enjoy so much activity and progress. Like today!

Here are a few veggie and herb babies that have yet to be planted outdoors. 
They have benefit of indoor shelter and TLC, but ironically 
their outdoor counterparts look much, much better.

Our mama llama has yet to drop that baby, but we feel like it could be any time. Care to place a wager? Several of this blog's Facebook friends have already done so, and your guess is just as welcome. Winner gets choice of either a personalized tea towel or a batch of fresh homemade cookies.

I run my first half marathon this coming Sunday morning. The event benefits the memorial of the Oklahoma City Murrah Building Bombing of April 1995. I am running to honor my husband's parents and our good friend Alan, all of whom worked tirelessly the day of and for for weeks after the bombing, both as rescue and in the morgue. They certainly deserve to be honored.

My hands are so cold as I type all of this. But I refuse to use the house heater. Not at the end of April. No matter how cold it gets. I'm not complaining, just trying to be as stalwart as my garden is. Which is very. If you need a pep talk on why this craziness is actually good news for Oklahoma, please read this article by a local meteorologist. Good stuff.

Our fair city's annual Festival of the Arts is this week, and I can't wait to have time to go! It's always fun. Great food, gobs and gobs of visual inspiration, breathtaking flowers... Oklahoma City has really come to life in recent years, and we are all very proud of the progress and liveliness. If you're local and want to go with me, drop me a note! Here is a link to the schedule.

This breathtaking tree is actually in the Tulsa Zoo, where Handsome took me yesterday,
but it is a great example of how beautiful Oklahoma looks it the springtime. 
Can't wait to see the Myriad gardens this week!

Speaking of OKC, our beloved Thunder basketball team 
is already making waves in the playoff season. Go Thunder!

Tonight is World Book Night. Global activities abound, all of which I failed to plan on joining. But we can make our own fun, right? At the moment I am polishing off our book club's current selection, Don Quixote. It is hysterical. And later today to celebrate World Book Night I want to make a lampshade out of old book pages. And return my library books. Which are only three days late. That's kind of a record for me.

The characters Sancho Panza and Don Quixote are great examples of how 
assigning mental images and voices to your characters 
will aid in the smooth reading of a translated text.
Laugh-out-Loud funny.

   Okay, honestly you guys, this list of random things that make me excited today could easily be three times as long, but the farm awaits. And my coffee cup is empty and cold. So I wish you all a super happy day! Allow yourself to be overwhelmed by beauty and opportunity rather than burdens. This month, this week, today... with all of her unique challenges and benefits... will only pass by you once. Grab it all!!

"I got a fevah!
 and the prescription is 
~Christopher Walken

Thursday, April 18, 2013


   Hey you guys. How was your day? I spent the better part of my afternoon enjoying the effervescence of a fifth grade classroom.  I am not gonna lie. It was a lot of fun. The kids were all just so happy! Happy to finally be done with standardized testing. Happy to have outdoor recess. Happy to have storms and tornadoes to talk about. Happy to have a sub. They were just plain happy, and I soaked it up. They made me laugh. A lot.

  During a not very quiet wait in the hallway between lunch recess and gym, these pre-adolescent angels and jesters lavished me with their humor and tricks. I heard a small, beautiful little girl break into a gritty British accent. I asked if she could do Australian, and she put anotha' shrimp on th' barbe. Another girl showcased her dance moves. Not too shabby. A little boy with a voice four times as big as his stature announced his deep love for all things military and saluted me feverishly. Then a little boy, bearing the expression of true curiosity and wrenching thought, asked me something along the lines of...

  "Hey how do you say that word, that goes W-H-A-T?"

   My reply:

   "Oh, it's WREATH like a Christmas wreath." Smile.

   Blank stares.

   "Like you hang on your front door at Christmastime. Wreath."

   The class got really, really quiet. Everyone was watching, and I no longer felt like the adult in the room. Err, hallway..

   "The W is silent you guys."  I am partially deaf, or so my husband says. And, in my defense, often in a classroom I have to write my name on a white board or something and repeat it several times before the kids remember it. The whole Christmas wreath trick usually works wonders, except that he was't asking about my name.

   "No." He was shaking his head a little now, "how do you say that word that you spell W-H-A-T." He was really enunciating now, stressing every syllable as if his life, or maybe mine, depended on it.

   "Wait, what?" I was so painfully confused. Then I got it. My gosh.

   The class exploded into appreciative laughter and I was actually relieved because I had no clue how else I could possibly explain to them the pronunciation of my last name.

   Once we were back in the safe cocoon of the classroom, perhaps out of sheer pity, but also with a hefty dash of affection, the little girl with a thousand foreign accents gave me this:

   Sh seemed to be saying that from now on, using my first name was the way to go.

   Then, at the end of the day, a cherry on the ice cream, a riddle:

   "Hey Mrs. Reed why did Tigger look in the potty?" 

   I'm gonna let you guys come up with that answer on your own. If you know the answer, or if you have a fifth grader nearby to tell it to you, please share in the comments.

I Love Kids. The End.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Safety From Storms, Prayers for Boston

   In the immediate wake of Monday's horrific events in Boston, I have wanted to reach out and say something poignant, or at least something soothing, or just anything useful at all. But nothing I can summon from the nauseated pit in my stomach has seemed adequate. The news of the violence at the Boston marathon affected me physically, as I know it did many others. We are all intrinsically connected in a million wonderful ways; how can we not feel the this pain?

   Where I have failed to write productively, my dear friend Margi has crafted a beautiful piece that I hope you take a few minutes to read. I am so happy to know that she is okay.

   Anyway, as I said, for the last two days forming sentences that might help has been a futile venture. All I can do is channel my energy back into life. Block out darkness as much as I can and water deeply the roots of nourishing things. Romance. Friendship. Gardens. Love. Literature. Health. Art. Prayer. These things matter, and feeding them makes such a difference. They cushion us against destruction and devastation.

  Storm clouds are gathering here at the farm as I type this. We are told to expect giant hail, thunderstorms, and tornadoes again today. Already the air is a brackish mix of warm and cool, moist and windy. Not unlike the world, our weather threatens to crush us over and over again.

   But we will be okay. Light drives out darkness. And storms pass.

   Here in Oklahoma we all still have fresh memories of the Murrah Building Bombing, which unbelievably happened eighteen years ago this Friday. (I was pregnant with my firstborn that spring, which also does not feel like eighteen years ago...) The commemorative Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is right around the corner. So along with thousands of other people I am preparing for that. And every mile I grab this month is dedicated to Boston. If ever a run could be meditative and prayerful, it's right now. To the city of Boston, I am praying for your comfort, provision, safety, calmness, healing, and future happiness.

   If you cannot eliminate grief, then increase your joy. That's all I can do. And it does help.



Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday With Cervantes

   Every passionate reader has his or her own favorite way to get lost with a good book. Most of us are happy to do so under almost any circumstances, really, but we all have that certain place to sit, those special conditions and that exact mood, that make reading a true escape. Sensory transportation into the papery world offered.

   Knowing this personality detail about my friends is cool. I like to find out how they read best. Some of them prefer reading on dark, story days with the fireplace blazing. Others like to read curled up on the couch, blanketed by adoring felines. Some people read en route to work, by necessity, like on a train or even using audio books (something I have yet to try). Some people read in the bathtub with a deep glass of wine.

   Well, today, quite by surprise, I enjoyed the year's first taste of my own favorite way to read. 

   The sun was not just golden but toasty. Hot, even. The clouds were lightweight and shed a few drops of easy moisture now and then. True sun-showers. I was free to lounge outside and luxuriate with sweet iced tea, apples and cheese, and a soft green yard full of clucking, puttering geese and chickens. 

   Weren't we huddled against a final winter blow just three days ago? Not today. Today we enjoyed a preview of summer.

   No television, no cell phone unless I wanted it, and no hurry. Chanta, our big paint horse, was roaming free and kept sneaking up on me to nibble my toes or snuffle my bare back. Mia, my ever faithful gander, kept vigil of course. He honked and whined and smacked his muddy beak at the pages of my current haunt. Jealous of the attention being lavished to Miguel de Cervantes, I'm sure.

   Reading like this always puts me on the brink of a deep sleep, but if the book is good enough then my grip on reality is traded for full immersion to the story's setting. Today was that good, that magical.

"Tranquility, a peaceful place, the pleasant countryside, serene skies, murmuring fountains, a calm spirit, are a great motivation for the most barren muses to prove themselves fertile and produce offspring that fill the world with wonder and joy." ~Cervantes

   Here's wishing you a few hours of your favorite reading conditions, friends! Soak up the best of whatever is offered you, and get lost in some paper.

"So many books, 
  so little time."
~Frank Zappa

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Typee: Reviewing a Novel 150 Years Later

   Hello there fine fellow bibliophile... What are you up to today? What is on your table to read? Are you progressing quickly and easily through it, or is it requiring some effort?

   I just finally polished off a book that should have taken me far less than the eighty-nine years and six months I spent reading it. But it is an excellent book and I did enjoy it and would love to chat with you about just a little.

   Please pour yourself some sweet iced tea or something and get comfy for a few minutes... We can have a tiny little book club meeting, just us.

   The book is Typee by Herman Melville. Yes. That Melville. The same author of Moby Dick. Typee is lesser known to contemporary readers, although that may change with its recent re-publication by Rare Bird Books.

   What's interesting, before we get to the book itself, is that Typee, while not his most critically acclaimed work, was evidently Melville's literary debut and was a huge commercial success. Isn't that refreshing to hear? So often we learn about great historical talents who suffered and struggled for their art, living as paupers and often dying penniless and unknown, their names connected only to posthumous fame. But not Melville, at least not in his beginning. He splashed onto the publishing scene in 1846 with this tantalizing story about a man's sensuous and eye opening experience living four months among savages on a remote Polynesian island.

   The story is fascinating, and it's less than 300 pages including the foreword and epilogue. Why it took me so long to read says more about me than this book.It is written in that somewhat bulky, long-winded 19th century style. Just not my fave, you know? Also, Melville handles somewhat delicate matters in effusive ways that make sentences long and paragraphs longer. At least in my opinion. Again, this reflects more on me than him. When he gets to meatier subject matter, though, like observations of humanity and some detached philosophical questions about "savage" versus "civilized," I am all into it. He speaks clearly to me then, making good use of the bulk and loftiness. But at least some of the sexiness of this Polynesian adventure is lost on me in the murk of so many words.

   Nathaniel Hawthorne reviewed this novel at its release, a fact which is perhaps more interesting to us now than it would have been then. Here is what he had to say:

"The narrative is skillfully managed, and in a literary point of view, the execution of the work is worthy of the novelty and interest of its subject."

   Besides feeling a bit thick and cumbersome to me, Typee really does offer an escape if you relax and just read fluidly. Don't agonize over every syllable. I read most of the chapters while Oklahoma was still in the grip of the bitterest end of winter, so what sensuous details I could evince were truly delicious. Coconut groves, topless group bathing in mineral lagoons, dark, dangerous waterfalls, and every aspect of this people's peaceful, languid living... It grew into an oasis in my mind. And I thoroughly enjoyed a recurrent theme of innate chivalry, feminism, and easy desire...

"Nowhere are the ladies more assiduously courted; nowhere are they better appreciated as the contributors to our highest enjoyments; and nowhere are they more sensible of their power."

   As for the philosophical questions Melville tapped on the shoulder, I think the most fascinating were about the differences between modern, civilized life and the savagery of the islands as he had experienced them. He does more than just highlight the obvious pleasures of an extended vacation in this Eden-like place; he points to the polluting effects of Christian missionary behavior and the deficits in Western culture.

   Melville asks directly and frequently the question, will the savage be happier if he is made "civilized?"

"In a primitive state of society, the enjoyments of life, though few and simple, are spread over a great extent, and are unalloyed; but Civilization, for every advantage she imparts, holds a hundred evils in reserve; - the heart burnings, the jealousies, the social rivalries, the family dissentions, and the thousand self-inflicted discomforts of refined life, which make up in units the swelling aggregate of human misery, are unknown among these unsophisticated people."

   Overall, I enjoyed this book. I won't read it twice, but I am glad to have tried it. Typee is part fantasy, part anthropology, part satire and social commentary, and certainly a sensuous read if you can relax enough to get past the 19th century style.

   Look for Typee at your local book store, like Full Circle in Oklahoma City. If you're near me and want to borrow it, I am always happy to share books!

   Thank you, sweet Julia, for exposing me to something I would probably have missed without your guidance! Now let's bring on summer. I need a lagoon and some coconut milk.

Read Unfamiliar Books!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

One Final Winter Storm. Right?

   So... Yesterday I went for a run in the back field wearing yoga capris, a tank top, and my super cool, personalized, turquoise beekeeper's ball cap. Within just half a mile I wished I was wearing less. Because of the heat and humidity, and because the wind had yet to really kick up, I was sweating buckets. My face and shoulders felt baked by the sun, and I loved it...

   Then around dinner time the weather shifted. Just a little.

   We were told to expect temperatures in the twenties, winds in excess of seventy miles per hour, hail, tornadoes, sleet, brimstone, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic ash, frogs, and locusts.

   Quite a switch from the warm, peaceful days of late.

   Natives to this Indian Territory are certainly accustomed to sudden and extreme weather changes. I'm pretty sure it was favorite son Will Rogers who first said, "If you don't like the weather in Oklahoma, wait five minutes." And generally I scold people for complaining about our mysteries of meteorology, because we all know it changes on a whim and we can't do anything about it anyway. Right?

   Before I continue, let me stress that I am NOT complaining about the rain. I love it. I love being awakened by thunder. I love seeing the thin, silver streaks running downhill in our middle field, helping the pond to rise slowly but surely. I love the green grass turning greener because of the soaking. Everything about this steady, gentle watering is good. The forests already look healthier, and I rarely have to water the gardens right now.

   Rain is good. Cool weather is fine. Storms are inevitable. I get that.

   But this.

   This is Crazy-town.

   The forecast had me in emotional twists. I asked my Facebook friends to vote: Would you rather endure a last minute ice storm or a tornado? The vote was evenly split. Nobody was really happy about it.

   Going into the stormy evening I was stressed. I was worried about the animals, particularly our two horses. It's not that they cannot handle cold, wet weather; it's that big, sudden changes can be dangerous. I was worried about my thriving vegetable beds and new little fruit trees which have recently set blossoms. I was just worried. Worried and mad and irritated that only a few days away from the biggest planting week of the year we could be losing all of our beautiful progress.

   The two raised beds that have food in them have really been making nice strides. The broccoli, red and green cabbages, cauliflower, spinach, carrots, sweet pea and English pea vines, brussell sprouts, kale, and lettuces just seem to be growing by the hour. It's all super exciting. And very, very delicate.

   See how pretty it is? And this photo is a few days old. They have grown even more since then.

  My husband knows how much I love these tiny gardens, how much time and energy I spend day dreaming about them. And he loves me. Too much sometimes. So after work yesterday he marched outdoors as I was preparing to cover it all with just some plastic tarps, and he insisted we could do better than that. He nailed old stockade fencing across my two planted raised beds.

   I fell in love with that man all over again.

   We slept soundly last night, waking only to enjoy the symphony of a thunderstorm. At dawn, we peered through the silver mist and found all the animals tucked away safely where they belong. The geese were honking plaintively. The roosters slept late, warmed in their coop with their feathery harem.

My favorite red bud tree encased with ice.
Beneath this tree, the grass is emerald green.

    In contrast to yesterday, today, just to do an hour's worth of work outside, I wore seventeen and a half thousand layers of protective clothing, a pair of heavy gloves, rubber boots, plus my super cool, personalized, turquoise beekeeper's ball cap. And I was still freezing. I fed and pitied the animals with all my heart, found nine fresh eggs, checked on every ice-capped corner of our farm, then retreated back indoors with numb fingers, slightly wet feet (my left boot had split open), and a shivering rib cage.

   But not before going to see how the little green babies fared beneath their picket canopy...

   Just fine, thank you very much! The loose fencing allowed water to soak everything gently, and during breaks in the storm today a little bit of grey sunshine has pressed through, coaxing the short little pea vines upward. 

   The cole veggies are looking good, too, and all the animals have fared very well in this final snap of winter.

   I am so very grateful.

   As the sun sinks on Wednesday, the ice has already melted, about as quickly as it fell. Kinda unbelievable, even to those of us who have lived here since forever. We have one more frigid night to endure, then by tomorrow at dinner time we should return to the balmy paradise we were just beginning to enjoy.

   Okay, that's it you guys. Those of you here with me in the most beautiful state in the Union already know about all of this. And those of you not lucky enough to live in Oklahoma now have more reason to believe that we have the world's craziest weather. It's totally true.

   Hug your horses. Protect your broccoli. Don't complain too much. And if your husband builds you great stuff out of the blue, well, reward him extravagantly...

"Don't let yesterday use up
too much of today"
~Will Rogers


Friday, April 5, 2013

Khalil Gibran and April Rainstorms

   I cannot remember when I first started reading Khalil Gibran poetry, but I love it. Somehow it tends to circle back to me every few months, and often right when I can appreciate it the most. This week has been one of those times.

Khalil Gibran 1883-1931
Third best selling poet of all time.

   Dark, stormy days like we've enjoyed this week are perfect for a poetry infusion, don't you think? Add in a homemade latte and some toasty croissants with strawberry jam... and it's pretty much pure indulgence.

   Following are a few snippets of what I love from this man... Remember these are snippets, just parts of longer poems. And I urge you to find the full text on your own. Read them curled up under a soft blanket or stretched out beneath the massaging sun...


   This first one touches painfully and honestly on every aspect of motherhood. It reminds me of advice I once received before my youngest daughter underwent her first brain surgery, to regard myself only as a "vessel" for love and healing. Not as the actual Source of love and healing. This passage has helped me let go in recent years too, for the peace of mind of both of my sweet girls... It reminds me that love is not selfish and that life is constantly moving forward..

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They came through you but not from you
and though they are with you
yet they belong not to you.

   Speaking of making room to breathe and grow... Of letting go just a little bit... It applies to romance and marriage too. I know from experience that insisting on too much is unkind. Demanding too much is unproductive. And too much too much is just smothering to both of you. Those lessons are good in and of themselves, but Gibran says it so musically...

But let there be spaces in your togetherness 
and let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love;
let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

   Everything passes... Keep the long view and anticipate beauty... I want my friend Melissa to internalize this next one...

Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.

   Have you read The Secret yet? These principles are cropping up everywhere I look.

All that spirits desire, spirits attain.

   This next one is startling if you think about it...

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.

   On poetry, by the poet...

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder,
with a dash of the dictionary.

   Faith... Difficult to remember sometimes, but faith is a spiritual and emotional choice independent from reason, logic, and every other method of the intellect. Faith is a condition of the heart that you can determine yourself to enjoy. Faith is also something you can encourage in others, by letting them know they are not alone and that their hopes are not futile.

Doubt is a pain too lonely to know 
that faith is his twin brother.

Faith is a knowledge within the heart,
beyond the reach of proof.

   And last is perhaps my favorite Gibran snippet. Like icing on the cake I happened upon some representative artwork to illustrate these beautiful lines... I am day dreaming of the soft green grass that will soon be growing from this week's torrential downpour  Oklahoma is on the road to recovery from two years of serious drought, and the temperatures are coaxing us outdoors longer and longer each day...

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet
and the winds long to play with your hair.

Isn't this wonderful?? It is a painting by Kayann Ausherman.
I found this generous artist via Pinterest and was lucky enough 
to make contact with her and gain permission to use this colorful image.

Kayann is an inspirational artist in Kansas 
who runs the most luscious Etsy shop called From Victory Road
You can find her on Facebook and also follow her blog right here
Really lovely stuff. Thanks for your permission to use this beautiful painting, Kenyann! 
So very nice to meet you.


   I hope you enjoyed that, friends! I love to temper long, heavy reading projects with doses of poetry like this. Particularly when the poet is time tested and uplifting. It teases my soul pleasantly for sure.

   Who are your favorite poets?


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sweet Oklahoma Legislation, Call to Action SB 716

 Good morning friends!! I am writing a bit hurriedly this morning to ask you all for some help. It's a step outside of my comfort zone. Today, I am getting involved in some local politics. Cue dramatic music...


   This afternoon, our Oklahoma State Representatives will be voting on a bill that will have a great impact on beekeepers and fresh honey availability.

   It's really important and kind of exciting!

   If passed, Senate Bill 716, the Oklahoma Honey Sales Act, will allow small scale or hobbyist beekeepers (like little ol' me) to sell their fresh, local honey without cumbersome regulation and inspection through the Health Department.

   This bill has already passed the Oklahoma Senate (unanimously I might add), which is great news. If today goes well then our fellow beekeepers will be very happy and everyone can continue enjoying the sweet, sticky, healthy stuff at a reasonable cost.

   Please let your Representative know who you are why you care about this, and that you support this bill. Some of our smart  peers have been working really hard on it already. My friend Maribeth in particular has spearheaded the writing of the proposed bill; and others have been lobbying at the Capitol with jars of their fresh honey in tow. Isn't that a great way to be remembered?

   I have no honey to offer yet, but I will be contacting them today to make a last minute impression. And if you are an Oklahoma friend I hope you do the same

   Honey is nature's perfect food. It doesn't spoil. It will not grow bacteria. It has myriad health benefits. And keeping bees is not just good but vital for every aspect of our agricultural environment. Everybody should care that bees thrive and that honey is free flowing.

   Lastly, and this is the crux of it, honey and other bee products are certainly not cheap to produce. It's a pricey and risky venture already. So further restricting production and distribution would be bad for everybody, not just beekeepers who want to share their liquid gold now and then. Small scale apiaries need the freedom to operate simply and economically, or they may be forced not to operate at all. And we need exactly the opposite to happen. We all need more beekeepers, not fewer of them.

   This matters to you IF...

  • You are a beekeeper yourself
  • You like to purchase local honey from farmers' markets, etc.
  • You live in Oklahoma and eat any kind of produce (because bees pollinate everything).
  • You are in Oklahoma and read this blog. (C'mon you guys!! All three of you contact the Capitol today!)


   How to help, exactly? Glad you asked.

   The Oklahoma House of Representatives will be voting on this bill today at the 1:30 session. Between now and then, please call or email your Representative. Make sure he or she knows you support SB 716 and that you hope he or she will vote to support the Oklahoma Honey Sales Act.

   If you do not know who your State Representative is, you can click on this link right here. Super easy. Make sure you scroll to the bottom to find your State Representative, not State Senator or US Representative, as this website will provide all elected officials.

   Thanks in advance for participating and being part of an important decision! I hope you all have a beautiful day. Give thanks for the rain Oklahoma is receiving this week. Daydream about the crops that will grow from it and about the gorgeous honey we will soon be collecting. 

"If you want to gather honey,
  Don't kick over the beehive."
 ~Dale Carnegie

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Introducing Seraphine

   This past Friday evening brought a big surprise. A big, woolly, elegant, four-legged, sweet-natured surprise.

   Handsome and I had just finished eating dinner and would have been cuddling and unwinding after a long, hard working week, but he was pre-occupied. He stayed dressed and alert for no apparent reason. I mentioned my plan to take a shower before going bowling later, but he strangely discouraged it. Have you been near me today, buddy? I thought to myself, skeptical of his olfactory senses.

   Then a friendly knock at the front door (weird, because we rarely have unexpected visitors) and his excited call for me to come see who's here... Well, let's just say I almost passed out on the floor. I was still in running clothes and had zero clue what to expect. And I scare easily. Very easily. Ask anybody.

   It was our dear friend Maribeth (my apiary mentor) and her sweet, funny, jovial husband Dean. And they had brought their long livestock trailer.

   "What the heck's going on?" I might have said. Seven thousand irrational possibilities rushed through my dried-sweat, tangly-ponytail mind but none of them were the truth. I hug-attacked Maribeth and trusted from her generous laughter that the purpose of her visit was a happy one.

   Side-note: Do you know how difficult it is 
to maintain polite eye contact with someone while still 
looking over her shoulder at the mysterious livestock trailer in the driveway? 
It's hard you guys. Super hard. 
This situation put my manners to the test in a big way.

   A few intense moments later, I realized it. Maribeth had brought me another llama. And my husband was okay with it in on it.

Are you in love like me?

   As with all big surprises, suddenly fuzzy little irregularities from the previous day or two started coming into focus. The things Handsome had said about Romulus remembering his family and needing a mate... Other funny little evasive details... My people had orchestrated this awesome gift behind my back, and I was trembling.

   Okay, fast forward a bit.

   We released this glowingly beautiful female from her trailer into the barn, where she pranced around pretty calmly. I hope you can watch this quick video...

If for some reason you cannot view it here, 
check out the Facebook page for this blog. 
It seems to be working there just fine.

   Then at the exact moment that we opened the west doors of the barn, Romulus was all over her like white on rice!! Something flipped in his adolescent-llama mind and body, and his singular purpose in life was suddenly to, umm... gain passage on her hindquarters... He was a man on a mission, and while the object of his affection took things in stride (elegant creature that she is) Chanta, the big paint horse, was thoroughly and violently freaked out.

   Dean, Maribeth, Handsome and I watched in hilarious waves of laughter as Romulus fell more and more deeply in lust with his new pasture mate. Chanta sometimes chased them and sometimes guarded us from the R-rated show. It was a fun half hour, you guys, and it made for plenty of cell phone photos and inappropriate jokes. Because deep down we're all basically immature children. Gradually Maribeth and I tried to turn it into a scientific conversation about animal husbandry and herd behavior and such, but nobody was fooling anybody. This stuff is just funny.

Once the chase was over and Romulus had her, umm, pinned...
Our new girl got quite relaxed. I took her a small pile of hay topped with grain, 
admittedly a strange time to serve her a "Welcome to the Lazy W" meal.
But she ate it contentedly. 
If I had any doubt about loving her, this removed it.
She is amazing.

   We have had a long, gorgeous weekend to get acquainted, and I can tell you she is just beautiful, you guys. She is sweet, peaceful, calm, and wise. She explores the fence line, luxuriates equally between the sun and the shade, and loves our chickens and honeybees. She speaks four languages and reads the classics. But she also knows which new books are worth a glance. She understands the difference between Bearnaise sauce and hollandaise. She can knit and also drive a stick shift, and just last night she offered to lend me her Florence and the Machine CD. She is a complicated angel on four straight little legs.

Seraphine is drawn to the rattle of sweet grain in a metal bucket 
in the same the way I am drawn to a hissing, gulping coffee machine mid-brew.
So basically we understand each other.

Look at those snow white eyelashes you guys!! 
And her face has two sets of distinct black teardrop markings. 
She could not be any prettier.

   I should tell you that our new llama's registered name is Yoko Ono. But she doesn't know that, and it doesn't fit in too well here at the farm. So during Saturday's Hot Tub Summit, in a stroke of true serendipity, Handsome and I agreed on her new moniker... 


   Thank you so much for spending a few minutes meeting Seraphine. I expect she will make regular appearances here on the blog. If you have any questions for her, let me know. She is very accommodating.

   Now I have to go. It's a cool, rainy day in Oklahoma so obviously I have to go watch the pond rise slowly.

   Have a beautiful day friends! May your biggest surprises be happy ones!

"We must never confuse elegance with snobbery."
~Yves Saint Laurent

Monday, April 1, 2013

Recipe Review: Easter Dinner for Two

   Handsome and I decided to do things a bit differently for Easter this year. Except for the hour or so we spent at a morning church service, we spread ourselves out here at the farm, enjoying the sunshine and animals, luxuriating in the abundant peace and love we have been building lately. We really needed the emotional cocoon, the deep drink of stillness that these long, slow days provide us. And thankfully the weather cooperated. Temperatures near eighty degrees, light breezes, and sunshine the color of melted butter... It was all pretty magical. A sparkling, happy Easter for sure!

   Instead of joining up for a big family feast with either of our clans, whom we love deeply, for this one quick little springtime holiday my guy and I sneakily opted for a singular romantic meal. It was wonderful and delicious. I built the menu from a collection of ideas found around the internet, and in case you're interested I am gonna offer some recipe reviews. Ready? Okay.

Cinnamon-Buttermilk Scones
   First, before church, I made us a batch of thick, tender, sweet, crunchy-on-the-top scones. The recipe can be found right here on the Money Saving Mom site. It came together pretty quickly and was fun to make. The only thing I did to stray from the instructions was to skip the vanilla glaze post-bake, because Handsome and I just like it better that way. Served with hot, sweet, creamy coffee, scones with icing would have been too sweet for us. Anyway, this recipe will be a repeater for sure, on special weekends. Really simple and sensual, with so much mixing and touching of the silky, honey-scented dough, and using turbinado (raw brown sugar) and egg white as a crunchy topping felt super fancy. Loved it.


   Now... After church I kicked off my high heels, shoved my hair up into a disorganized heap on the back of my head, and wrapped myself up in an apron. For the next couple of hours I had such fun preparing our meal... And Handsome frequently popped in to say hello, lead me out to see what the llamas were doing, and generally flirt with me.

   Oh, did you not hear that we are now a multi-llama family?

You know Romulus, the male in the back here.
His new pasture mate is Seraphine. 

   Yep. More on that later. For now, here is some review of our afternoon meal:


Balsamic-Garlic Crusted Pork Loin
   The main course of pork loin was a recipe from Kitchen Confidante. You can find the full recipe right here. I made a half recipe, which served us both twice and also provided some leftovers. The flavors are sweet and savory and just a little bit sticky. I enjoyed using my cast iron skillet in a new way. Handsome and I agreed this is a repeat performer, so anytime I see those individually packaged pork loins on sale I will be stocking up. Because you always have the ingredients for this glaze in the pantry. Really simple and good.


Katie's Scalloped Yams
   The potato dish was borrowed from my friend Katie, who is a fellow Oklahoman blogging over at Dishin & Dishes (I have her listed over there on my sidebar...). She is so fun and talented, and I love her approach to family life and romance. She cooks passionately and just released her first book too, wahoo!!

   You can purchase Food Lovers' Guide to Oklahoma locally or check out the tab on her blog. Very cool! Anyway, Katie recently offered up this gorgeous recipe for scalloped sweet potatoes. I love it!! I was obligated to make two tiny changes for our use, which were:

  1. to not peel the fresh yams (I like to keep skins on all of my fruits and veggies, because I am a vitamin junkie
  2. and to omit the chopped onions because Handsome has a serious food allergy to them. To compensate for the flavor loss, I punched up the fresh garlic a little and added a few scrapes of nutmeg. 
   Katie, thank you for this recipe!! It was so very good. I can't wait to make it again, especially once our fresh herbs have grown lush. I had to use dried store-bought herbs this time. Also, Handsome asked if I would also make it with white potatoes. Yum.


Sour Cream 7-Up Biscuits
   The biscuits we enjoyed can be found in recipe form right here on a Mississippi blog called Deep South Dish. These things are sweet, soft, and pillowy... Definitely the temptresses of biscuitry. Be warned, if you are on a carb-restricted diet, these will be your ruin. They almost made me cry a little bit, they were so gentle and flavorful to my mouth. After our meal I took two giant biscuits outside to crumble up for the yard birds, and I swear one of the hens passed out in pure bliss. She's fine now. And she's been asking for more Sour Cream 7-Up biscuits ever since.


   The vegetables were simple. We just ate steamed fresh broccoli and a crisp green salad including two lettuces, spinach, and strawberries. And of course we drank fresh iced tea that was sweet enough for a hummingbird.
   I did not make a single solitary Easter dessert this year, though my eyes had found a thousand pretty options, because clearly we had enjoyed plenty of sweets and starches already. And Handsome was still working hard on a big Easter basket full of chocolates.


   So that's it! We are both still stuffed today, though that has not kept me from eating hard-boiled farm eggs and fruits and veggies all day long. And maybe one more soft, sweet biscuit. And maybe half of one scone. Or three.

   I hope you had a lovely Easter weekend and are enjoying this grand new week!

"Nothing would be more tiresome that eating and drinking
if God had not made them a pleasure
as well as a necessity."



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