Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tiny Farm Update and a Book Review: Impatient With Desire

   Happy Wednesday to all! Today I have good stuff to share. Mostly, an excellent book recommendation. Scroll down for that. And? It occurred to me that in the midst of the tornado news I have been remiss in mentioning here on the blog some very, very happy news. How embarrassing! If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram then you already know that Handsome and I are enjoying the company of an adorable brand spankin' new baby llama! Yep, Seraphine finally delivered her cria exactly thirteen days ago. The baby is a little girl and is healthy and happy, growing by the hour it seems. We have named her Dulcinea del Toboso, after Don Quixote's fabled love interest and muse, but we affectionately call her Little Bit. I am pretty sure my husband has lost his big heart to this sweet little creature, and I am totally okay with that. You should see them play together.

She is the most precious thing that has ever walked on four llama hooves.

   Now... Another book review. I gobbled up this volume two weekends ago, right before the tornadoes, and really, really, really want you to read it. Really. Okay? Okay, here we go.

   First, just take a quick look-see at this cover art and make a mental note of what you think this book is about. Maybe go ahead and scribble your quickest impressions on a piece of scrap paper, also noting whether it is a book you would choose to read. Be honest.

Impatient With Desire by Gabrielle Burton, Published by Rare Bird Books

   What was your immediate reaction? I am so curious about this. Despite the fact that we all grew up hearing, "Never judge a book by its cover," I pretty much judged this little book by its cover. Harshly. And I let it languish on my dusty shelves for over a year. Neglected, shunned, unread because I thought it was a Puritan romance or something. Not my groove, man.

   How wrong I was. Luckily one recent weekend I possessed the presence of mind to actually read the story description and was immediately hooked. I plunged right in on Saturday morning, consuming a third of the story before coming up for air. Then that Sunday night I woke suddenly at 2 am, eyes unable to even blink shut, and realized I was desperate to finish the book. I crept downstairs and did so, and now I have that settled, satisfied, wonderful feeling. I want you to have this feeling too.

   I want YOU to read THIS BOOK. It is so short and so well written that you can tackle it in one average airplane ride. Or two afternoons on a lounge chair. Or three sleepless night.

   What is it about, you ask? The Donner party. You know who I'm talking about. The band of American pioneers in the mid 1800's who headed west toward California? The ones who got stuck in the snowy mountains? The group rumored to have survived by cannibalism???

   Now you're with me.

   Yes, I do feel a little bad sensationalizing this book review, but the truth is that most people probably identify the Donner party with cannibalism. It's just how our culture works. The delicious surprise here (sorry, couldn't resist) is that Impatient With Desire serves up (I really can't stop) a slow, tortuous, truly moving insight to the human experiences of starvation, isolation, hope, fear, faith, commitment, survival, and, of course, death. It really is the Donner party story like you have never heard it. Not even the History channel on its best, most creative day can grip your heart like Burton has done with this artistic and believable story.

   Burton writes in a journal format, in the voice of one woman exclusively, Mrs. Tamsen Donner. The leader's wife. Scrap all preconceived notions you might already have about this woman and prepare yourself to want to know more about her than one book can offer. It is so good. Also, just accept that all conversations you have so far had regarding cannibalism and your personal tipping points, morality, situational ethics, etc, etc... are tainted by lofty ideas and a cruel disconnect from the realities of hunger that abject.

   Then read this book.
   And discuss it all over again with smart people who have also read it.

"I used to argue that we can improve on nature, 
or at least not be as brutal as nature. 
I don't have the luxury of theoretical debates anymore, 
nor am I as sentimental as I once was." 
~Tamsen Donner, letter to her sister. 

   Much worse than judging books by their covers is the crime of judging people who have faced things we have never even imagined.

   Aside from the obvious themes, something lovely ran through the book consistently and caught my attention. It was Mrs. Donner's mantra that, "We all came here strangers to ourselves." Tamsen Donner said this repeatedly, her own understanding deepening each time, and it made more and more sense to me too. How often do we learn about our own hearts through trials? How true is it that while living life we learn about ourselves as much as or maybe more than we learn about the world?

   Many other, skinnier threads are up for grabs, too. Skinny threads, but not delicate. This book is short but packed with life.

  • Patriotism and adventure...
  • Early American feminism (the Donner marriage was fascinating)...
  • The concept that a family is raised by community and not one parent... 
  • How do we view animals? Pets, workers, food... And how do we honor them? 
  • The importance of contemporaneous journalling... (I plan to blog about this very thing soon. It's cropping up everywhere I look!)
  • How dangerously and wonderfully our moods can affect each other, especially in relationships like marriage and especially in close physical quarters...
  • Regret, purpose, hindsight, the limited power of our own lessons learned to help others...
  • The intrinsic value of physical labor...
  • Also the intrinsic value of routine, schedules, and structure to combat mental fatigue...
  • Life cycles and poetry...
  • Religion, proselytizing, and cultural respect...
  • The societal value of ceremony, the luxury of it, and the power of a well written obituary...
  • The complexities of acts of faith...
  • What life do we bring to a home? What actual contributions do each of us make?
  • You cannot escape yourself simply by relocating.
  • Which are you, at heart: a keeper of the home or an adventurer? Does your life reflect this truth?
  • ...and so very many other insights to human nature, both the beautiful and the abhorrent.

   Whew! Like I said, this book is short but powerful. The author achieved something wonderful here, and I sure hope you take time to absorb and enjoy it.

My friends have sweet hook ups.

   Bonus announcement: My friend Julia with the sweet literary hook ups is who gifted me this book in the first place. She has recently intimated that I stand a pretty decent chance of meeting and interviewing the author.

   You guys. This is my favorite thing ever, meeting and interviewing authors of excellent books like this. I will of course keep you posted.

   In closing, a community question: If Gabrielle Burton visits the Lazy W, what should I serve? Steak tartare?

Read books! 
Read All the Books!!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

She Tries to Complain, but She Can't

   Last week I accompanied my friend Tracy to help our friend Kim do some clean up from the tornado. We all are in book club together but have known each other for many years before that. Kim and Tracy both live in Moore, Oklahoma, about twenty minutes from the farm. Kim's house was hit directly and is without a doubt unlivable. Walking through the gutted and scarred place was chilling. Just imagining the sudden and extreme violence that would cause that kind of damage made me feel sick.

   Any mood that day would have been understandable. Any level of anger, frustration, tearfulness, or despair would have been completely natural. But Kim surprised me. I was awed by how she handled everything  She portrayed a one-woman, ground-level example of the spirit of Oklahoma.

   Kim was literally all smiles. She was a bit shaky, sure, but really she floated through the debris and glowed with thankfulness and optimism  Perhaps you're thinking, Sometimes shock will do that; it will insulate a person and carry her through the worst, with a sort of numbness. Okay, fair enough. But there was a streak of intense awareness and gratitude in Kim's countenance that totally inspired me. Her spirit has infused my attitude all week long.

   As we worked, Kim told us more of her story. She described how close her son was to a very painful death. He had been in one of the elementary schools that was flattened. He was injured but miraculously, incredibly, survived. His little sister was at a nearby daycare, took shelter there, and also survived. Kim told us about how much her neighbors have endured. She showed us what needed to be done to move her family out of their shredded home. She thanked us a million times for doing, actually, very little. Because no work feels like very much in the midst of so much destruction. She introduced us warmly to her other friends and coworkers who had gathered to help, playing the perfect southern hostess. She apologized for her messy house, making everyone laugh much harder than we had expected to. She made sure everyone had icy cold bottled water as they worked. She had lost her house and most of her possessions, yet she was taking care of us.

   Then she said, "I keep trying to complain, but I can't. We are so lucky."

   Still tonight, just recalling her soft, pretty face as she said those words gives me the best chills.

   How often do we complain about common, every day things? I certainly do. I complain about my hair. About my mile speed. The price of gas. How time flies or how it stands still. I complain about the weather, even though I tell everyone else not to. I complain about the dirty carpet in my car. And about how often the chicken coop needs to be cleaned. It's almost an addiction. Complaining can be an easy but temporary pain relief. A sort of self medication to soothe your nerves, but it's really like drinking salt water. Like worrying, complaining does not fix a single problem. It only causes you to magnify it.

   Walking through the Briarwood area, Tracy and I saw block after block after block of unspeakable devastation. I don't even want to describe it; you all have seen and heard enough of it already. But I did muster the nerve to snap a few cell phone pictures of just of the good things. The sparks of humor and brightness. Not surprisingly, there were plenty.

"Welcome to Paradise."
If you can't see it yet, know that it will return.
And in the mean time we can find glimpses of paradise with each other.

   The loss of life and security here in Oklahoma is unspeakable. Certainly. So it is without intending to minimize the very real grief around us that I want to encourage you to focus on the good when possible. Inventory your blessings. Count the miracles around you as often and with as much gratitude as possible. Because doing this not only lifts your spirits; it lifts the spirits of those near you, and it causes the good to multiply.

   When you feel the urge to complain, remember it will not solve anything. Remember Kim and how she can't complain because she is so aware of how blessed she is. Then take a deep breath and know that you can choose to see your life in the same joyful way.

Keep praying for Oklahoma!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Morning After, Counting Blessings

   This morning we opened our weary eyes to light winds stirring up fresh air, deep blue and grey skies, and well watered fields. Another storm is moving in, but it's gentle. Overflowing the banks of our pond as if with tears. The thunder is rolling smoothly today, a sad but soothing backdrop to this new reality.

   The animals are calm and safe. I am stunned by how normal everything looks, despite how it feels. Last night's tornado swept just past the edge of our farm and touched down across the road. Our house, incredibly, is unharmed by the past two days of severe weather. This time, not even a shingle slipped out of place.

   We are in tact physically, but our true home, our hearts, are hurting deeply. Aching because so many in Oklahoma have lost everything. So much life is gone. And so many of our loved ones are in shock from close calls that can barely be understood or articulated. I cannot peel away from updates from family and friends, and proceeding with a normal day feels bizarre. It will be a long, long time before thousands are able to enjoy normalcy again. Never, for some.

   Storm season is part of life here in Oklahoma, and everyone has a story. So sometimes we joke about it; sometimes it's exciting. Then sometimes we are struck down by it and reminded of the danger. Unfortunately most of us have by now dealt with the most extreme tornadoes, especially the folks in Moore, my husband's home town.  Still, Oklahoma enjoys a civic intimacy here that I know is special. Something contracts us tightly, like a great loving muscle, when tragedy strikes. We are drawn closely together to help each other and to share each other's pain.

   Please keep Oklahoma in your prayers for a long time. The shock will begin to wear off in a few days and those affected by this week's devastation will need grace, strength and miracles. As I write this the thunder is rolling more and more. I cry spontaneously and can barely breathe, thinking of how many people are mourning the worst, most unspeakable losses.

   We have so much here for which to be deeply, forever grateful.

   Love your people fiercely, as I know you do!

"There's a long road ahead. 
  In some cases there will be enormous grief 
  that has to be absorbed.
  But you will not travel that path alone.
  Your country will travel it with you,
  fueled by our faith in the Almighty
  and our faith in one another."
~ President Obama

  May 21, 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Book Review: Inside Passage

   Yo, friends. Have you, like me, been reading heavy stuff for months on end? Are you nourished, edified, and inspired, from the inside out, but at the same time feeling a bit threadbare around your sweet little bibliophile eyeballs? Have you enjoyed the snuggly winter and then the tumultuous springtime, and now are you perhaps in need of a big gulp of summertime reading pleasure? I mean, it is summer now, right? Yes, yes it is. Okay, then. I have a great book for you.

   Just last night I was very happy to polish off a relatively new title by Burt Weissbourd called Inside Passage. Released last year by Rare Bird Lit,   ***hi there sweet Julia!***  this novel of only 282 pages is part thriller, part mystery, and all suspense, human psychology, and natural beauty. Weissbrourd has added several healthy doses of sexy in there, too, so please don't hand this over to your teenager when you're done. Or your Mom. Trust me.

   We once took my Mom to see Superbad. In the theater. On the big screen. Not cool.

   That's a weird story. Let's get back to the book review.

   Set in the gorgeous and foreign-to-me Pacific Northwest, Inside Passage is no long winded epic, a fact I greatly appreciated after the reading that's been going on here lately. No, Inside Passage follows a short time line of tense and dangerous interactions between characters who hook you from the first introduction. A woman, Corey Logan, is fighting both for her life and for a life lived safely with her teenage son, who is trying to make sense of it all while going through every normal teenage boy experience. Together with allies they collect along the way, this strong but desperate mother and son duo is battling a powerful and vengeful man and all of those under his influence. Monstrous people. 
   Another woman and her son are involved, too. This woman proves herself to be desperate like Corey, but in wildly different ways. The family dynamics and insights to human behavior had me reeling several times. It's all juicy, fascinating stuff, and it is written with a light enough hand that the reader is drawn in but never exhausted. I really liked that. I need to learn how to write like that. How to speak like that. Think like that.

   I exhaust my own self is what I'm trying to say.

   Weissbourd writes efficiently, packing each paragraph with several cleanly written, informative sentences; yet his descriptions are luscious. At times I could feel the cold, salty ocean spray and smell salmon being grilled over a beach bonfire. 

Somehow this part of the world keeps cropping up in things I read. 
It all sounds incredibly beautiful, and I hope to visit someday.

   I definitely felt invested in the characters, the "good" ones, and repulsed by the "bad" ones. In fact, these dark characters rank in my opinion with some of Koontz's and King's worst imaginaries. Given more stage time, they could become cult characters themselves.

   I had not read anything by this author before, and ***TINY SPOILER ALERT*** apparently this is part of a series of books centered around a main character, the heroine Corey Logan. I only gave you that spoiler alert in case it would ruin any suspense for you regarding that character's longevity. Trust me, no matter what you think you know about the outcome, and that fact doesn't tell you much, the book is so much fun to read. Pick it up and dive in. Surrender yourself to each setting, each detail. Get inside the head of each fascinating character and work out the intricacies yourself, following the swell of action page after page. It's quite good.

   I would like to thank Julia for offering me this fun and succulent read. I would like to thank the author Burt Weissbourd for writing it. And I hope many of my friends give it a go. Good stuff you guys! Really tightly written and fast paced. Lots of action, lots of insight. If you need a reprieve, you'll like this. 

   Over and out.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Reviewing Pinspiration: Stenciled Newspaper Canvas

   Hey you guys! What's up? I have been craving some artsy-craftsy fun lately, and it occurred to me that I actually do have one project to share with you. Early in April, my friend Erica drove out to the farm for some creative camaraderie  We scoured our Pinterest boards, surveyed what art supplies were readily available in the upstairs Apartment, and got to work. Play. Whatever. Here is what we did!

   Erica was preparing gifts for a couple if special women in her life. I wanted to pump up the volume in the artwork for my downstairs blue bathroom. We settled on canvases. I already had one ginormous canvas, and by ginormous I mean this beast is about four feet wide and three feet tall, painted in several broad, bold colorful stripes. Some time ago I had started hand painting random song lyrics to it and was ready to do more. For Erica's project we found inspiration on Pinterest. And we learned a few valuable lessons worth sharing.

Just for fun how many of my song lyrics do you recognize?

   My project is so random it barely warrants discussion, but I have enjoyed cramming song lyrics into the colorful bands. It hangs where you cannot miss it, so I always leave the powder room singing one fun thing or another. How many do you recognize? Are you singing anything yet? Bonus points to you if you know any of the artists.

   Erica's project is what I want to talk about. The idea is more than stenciling letters on canvas.  The idea is first covering the canvas with newspaper then stenciling letters on and painting a solid color. All in an upstairs Apartment that is very likely haunted.

   It was slightly less easy than we expected.

   1.  Okay. First, I suggest you dive right in by adhering newspaper smoothly and fastidiously to the canvas. Do this before you even spend time deciding on your words or paint colors. Getting the newspaper flat and dry will take a bit of time, and you can think about the other fun stuff while your first stage dries. We used mod-podge; I am pretty sure plain white glue would also work.

   This stage is important, because if it bubbles up too much then you are destined to cry and use swear words and kick empty boxes across the room when your letters have weird edges later. A blistered newspaper base makes the letters extra weird later. One more tip here: Do take care to not display sad things on your canvas, just in case the paint later seems transparent. Example? Erica and I accidentally drew sheets from a section of obituaries. Sad. Terrible mojo for a birthday gift for her sweet sister. Erica caught it in plenty of time, by the way, just a head's up for you.

You can probably see some blisters in the newspaper here. 
By this stage in our project, it was too late to repair.
It turned out pretty cool, but you can be better than us!


   2.  Once you are satisfied that your layer of torn and cleverly oriented newspaper is dry, it's time to lay down your message. We used a set of reusable vinyl letter stencils I've had for a while. They are plain block shapes and not expensive. But I want to say that while they are technically reusable, they do gradually lose a bit of stick over time  This is another good reason to make sure you papered canvas is really truly bone dry  before you lay down stickers; they are more likely to stick to a flat, dry surface than a damp, bumpy one. In fact, as it dries, you might scrape a flat edge against the paper layer. I think it would help.

   Erica and I discovered that the longer the quote, the higher the chance you'll have to reuse some letters. We know this because we are smart like scientists. It made for a funny rotation of arms and hands, a comical sticker-paint-sticker-again process. Not a big problem, but something to consider if you're going to the craft store anyway and can afford to buy two sets of letters.


   So your canvas has been papered with cool looking black and white newspaper and it is dry like a desert and flat like farmland.

   You have placed your vinyl letters in such a smart and witty way that you almost want to leave it just like that. You love your quote You love it so much. Time to paint.

   3.  Now just choose a gorgeous solid color and paint it.  But don't go all crazy on it! Paint it evenly, gingerly, with extra attention paid to the edges and corners of those fussy little vinyl letter stickers. They have a maddening way of peeling up invisibly and allowing paint to seep into exactly where it does not belong. It may not seem like a big deal at first; but as your finished product is unveiled you will chagrin so many blurry edges that cannot be fixed.

   So paint. Paint slowly. Use a straight-edged foam brush if you have one. Paint with Zen and peace in your heart. Paint while breathing in through your nose and out through your gently pursed lips. Engage your core and focus. Breathe. Paint. Breathe some more.

   Depending on the color you choose and your personal taste, you might want to allow time for a second coat. The canvas we painted with turquoise turned out really rich with just one coat because that paint had a base included and is meant for furniture. This red is simply red craft paint, I guess acrylic. It showed a bit more newspaper through its veil of color, which you may or may not groove. Your call.

Bonus points to you again if you can name the movie and character for this quote!

   Taking your time with each step of your project will pay off.

   4.  What should happen is that once every speck of your solid paint color is about 97% dry, you then gently peel away every letter sticker.  What remains visible is the newspaper, with crisp colorful edges. Perhaps you can see here that we had so many blurry edges we decided to give them some muscle by hand-tracing the letters with a black Sharpie. Not Erica's first choice, not exactly her artistic vision, but she's a trooper.

   Sometimes with new projects, as with life, you just have to find ways to make it work. And as far as I know the gifts were delivered with love and joy! That counts for much more than perfect edges.

   For us, from top to bottom, I bet we spent a couple of hours doing two such canvases plus my lyrics board. But that was rushed, and I know for sure each step could have dried longer before we moved on. So I really suggest allowing yourself lots of time for one canvas. Maybe even complete one stage each day until it's done. Be relaxed about this and enjoy the process. It's not difficult; it's just fussy.

  Our evening may or may not have ended with Erica seeing one of our farm ghosts. She kinda left in a hurry, quite pale even with her gorgeous Creole complexion, and rumor has it she prayed the whole way home.

   Thanks for a lovely evening, sweet woman! 
I hope you had as much fun as I did, despite the ghost,
and I hope your sister and Mom enjoyed their gifts!

   Have you tried a project like this? Do you have tips or maybe a photo to share? Please feel free to comment away and post it to this blog's Facebook page.

   Go forth and create!

"Every child is an artist. 
 The problem is how to remain an artist 
 once we grow up."
 ~Pablo Picasso

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Herb Garden of Discontent

   It happens to me almost every time I dig and plant a new garden. Surely I'm not the only one, right? The temporary anticlimax.

   You get inspired for a very particular new garden. You find its location, define its purpose, and prepare the soil. Perhaps, as has been the case with this new herb bed here at the farm, you do most of that in the off season;  so for months you also stare longingly at the blank site, daydreaming of its eventual fullness and productivity. Piling on dried manures and whispering words of affirmation to the infant garden, you begin to see it in its most mature state, its maximum and most perfect condition. All far in advance, every time you pass by. Where there is only dirt in reality, your hopeful eyes perceive bushels of glossy basil, armfuls of zinnias, several mountains of rosemary, and sprays of every colorful herb you'll ever need to make your own sleepy time tea. Your nose inhales, also in advance, every sweet and savory fragrance known to man since before time.

   You plan to sell your wares at the  area farmer's market because, obviously, you will be growing far more than you need. Because it's already the most lovely and magical garden ever in all the world.

   You may scribble down blueprints and sketch curvy borders and make lists on your i-Phone of what to buy the very minute it's safe to plant. You find yourself helpless with seed catalogs, whether they belong to you or not, highlighting, circling, and boldly asterisk-ing key items every chance you get. As if the writing of a wish is also its coming to fruition. Because you did read The Secret, after all.

   On the weekend you can finally plant, you eagerly run through one last soil clearing, savoring the crunch of your spade as it slices through stubborn volunteer crabgrass. You shake weedy roots free of dirt and celebrate every fat earthworm that wriggles through the black gold left there.

   So much potential. You just can't stop singing the praises of slow food, organic methods, and the glory of working outdoors. Your legs are so strong and motivated you think you can dig a hundred gardens.

   Then the day arrives.

   The soil is cleaned and warm. The plants have been purchased. The weather is ideal. Your new garden plan is about to come together. Like you're the horticulture A-Team or something. (And who am I to say you're not?)

   You dig, scrape, level, arrange, plant, rearrange, water, scrape again, and survey your little outdoor art project over and over.

   Your geese come to inspect your progress and play in the sprinkler. Your cat rolls in the fresh dirt. You lower back gets a skinny, crescent shaped sunburn from that weird leaned-over gardener's stance you've held for two days straight. And when you finally stand up to stretch and see it for the first time with new eyes... To dust off and drink in the beauty of what your imagination, knowledge, and physical labor have joined forces to create...

   Everything looks tiny.

   Almost so tiny it kind of irritates you.

   The chamomile plant has withered a bit too much.

   Some unnamed farm citizen, but clearly someone who has feathers and a beak and only two legs, has nibbled all but a third of the chocolate-mint leaves. Did you plant those rosemary starts too close together? Wait, where is the basil? I forgot basil? Should I have staggered those annuals, or is color blocking indeed the way to go? Can I even see all of this from the kitchen sink?

"Is this a garden... For ANTS?!?"

   Is it just the glaring angle of the late afternoon sun? Because something about this looks out of scale. You are pretty sure those plants were all at least three times as big in the dining room yesterday. This is definitely not right.

   You begin to question yourself in every possible way. Why do you even bother gardening? Just buy your food like a normal person and go watch t.v.

   You hope your Momma or Grandpa don't drop in for a farm visit, because this would be embarrassing. You certainly don't put any of this on Instagram. Nope, that would not inspire a single person to try her own gardening adventure. It would be like trying to lure people to Christianity with meanness and judgement. Not cool.

   Then Tiny T walks over and has a talk with you.

   He wraps his tiny, muscled arm around your slumped shoulders and says exactly what you need to hear.

   "Yo. This is just day one, man. Your garden plans are good, this soil is golden like my chains, and our summer is going to be amazing. Just give it some time and chill, baby. I pity the fool who thinks gardening is a sprint and not a marathon."

   "Thanks, Tiny T. Seriously, you always know just what to say."

   Then all is right with the world and you go off to make more coffee and design the next new garden.

   The end.



Saturday, May 11, 2013

Introducing Tiny Mr. T

   Well hello again.

   I want to tell you about something.

   If you and I are Facebook friends or if we connect on Instagram, then you may have noticed a flood of unusual photos lately. The Lazy W world has a new cast member... 

   Tiny Mr. T.

   He is pretty much the coolest thing ever.

   Handsome gifted me with not one but two Tiny T's just a few minutes after I crossed the finish line at the Memorial half marathon. I laughed so hard!

   One T is several inches tall and wears a small replica race bib with my runner number on it. He sits on my desk in the Apartment and guards my messes there. The smaller one, hereafter known as Tiny T, is Polly Pocket size and has been joining me on all kinds of adventures, farm related and otherwise, ever since that Sunday.

Tiny T helps me thin carrots and radishes where they grow too thick.
Tiny T supports the slow food movement for sure.

   It's one of those perfect, impossible to duplicate gifts. And I  hope my guy knows how much I appreciate them both.

   So now you have met Tiny T, and I am wondering if you love him as much as I do.

   The real Mr. T has been a cult favorite of mine since childhood. So cool. I tried to dress up like him for Halloween last year, but Handsome absolutely did not want to be seen with a girl dressed like that. Can't imagine why.

   For many passionate reasons I just can't get enough Mr. T. And no, it's not embarrassing at all. Frankly I don't understand why more people DON'T love him. 

   He pities fools, you guys!!!


  1. Mr. T. wears as many dang necklaces as he wants. Sorta like me, but even more. 
  2. He has the coolest hairstyle and beard, way cool, not that I would dare copy such coolness. James Harden has it goin' on, but he was not the first.
  3. Mr. T used to carry around the biggest, bulkiest boombox just to strut through life bathed in the aura of good music. Who else is that cool? Nobody. Now we all settle for earbuds. At least some of us do still strut through life.
  4. Mr. T always seems to wearing a great threadbare denim jacket. Surely I don't have to explain this.
  5. Mr. T is strong and capable and fearsome; but he admits his weakness, which is a debilitating fear of flying (at least in the role of B.A. in The A Team). I admire anyone who doesn't try to conceal his flaws.
  6. Finally? He never tolerates sleeves. The original t-shirt surgeon.

Side Note: It took me forty five minutes to figure out
how to NOT say "t-shirt surgery doer."  Surgist? Surgeryist? 
WHAT IS IT? Oh, surgeon. Right. Onward.

   So now in adulthood I cling to my action-figure Tiny Mr. T with lots of ridiculous hilarity and sincere appreciation. Since that race Sunday, Tiny Mr. T has been joining me on all kinds of adventures. It's been a busy couple of weeks for both of us.

   Care to take a peek?

Tiny Mr. T groomed and watered my potted herbs and then insisted
I finish digging the circular herb bed outside the kitchen window.
I still haven't quite finished it, and Tiny T furrows his brow in frustration, pitying me.

Tiny Mr. T collected eggs very early one morning
and is so short (sorry, it's true)
that he almost got lost in the shred.
But then he is so strong that he clawed his way out. 
The hens are surprisingly not afraid of him at all.

Tiny Mr. T went with me to substitute teach a first grade class one morning.
Those precocious kids saw him in my hand and promptly asked me,
"Mrs. Wreath why are you carrying around a small James Harden?"
If you are an OKC Thunder basketball fan then you understand this problem.
I swiftly corrected their misstep and gave them all detention.

Tiny Mr. T accompanied me to a book club discussion dinner for Don Quixote.
He chimed in sparingly, believing the knight-errant hero to be quite out of his mind like Murdock,
 then pitied the next person who assigned us another classic to read. 
"It's summertime now and we need easier stuff!" He said.

Then Tiny T went with Handsome and me to work the first car show of this new season.
He collected money and guarded it well.
Tiny T appreciates beautiful cars and is very protective of them.

On a chilly and gray Saturday afternoon Handsome and I went
to the Zombie Bolt, a really crazy fun 5-K event here in Oklahoma.
Tiny T went with us and is on the verge of declaring zombies as equally terrifying as airplanes.
Can you blame him? Tiny T is barely an appetizer to these creatures.

Although I have been trying to eat clean and detox a little, 
and be super productive and cram activity into every spare hour,
Tiny T understands the value of rest.
On a recent lunch break while subbing fifth grade, 
he urged me to chill. Have a snickers. Read a book. Order some seeds. 
I did, and it was bliss. Tiny T gets it.

   Okay friends. Are you with me? Are you beginning to feel the power and wisdom Tiny T has to offer? Will you please join his fan club? Just follow along with his adventures on Instagram and if you have a character he needs to meet, let me know! Some friends of ours are apparently searching for a tiny A-Team van for Tiny T, and I groove that.

"I believe in the golden rule.
 The man with the gold... Rules."
 ~Mr. T

Friday, May 10, 2013

Spring Garden Update

   Spring is really, truly here you guys. It is here to stay, at least for a while. We may only have a couple of weeks before Oklahoma Summer 2013 descends on us in all of her hot and humid glory, so I have a lot of green and dirty living to do. Lots to prepare and enjoy before facing that particular seasonal brutality.

   The gardens are filling in their own blanks quite nicely. They require thinning and grooming every day, especially in the radish and carrot beds, but no watering! Our rainfall in Oklahoma has been mercifully consistent.

My Grandpa has always gently scolded me for planting radishes too thickly.
The result is having to thin aggressively, but my chickens & geese eat the sprouts.
Sometimes I do too, in a green salad. They look like clover & taste peppery, tangy.

   The potatoes are finally multiplying. The spinach, rainbow chard, and myriad lettuces are drop dead gorgeous. And even more delicious than the are pretty. The sweet pea and English pea vines are as tall and fluffy as anything you've ever seen in your life. Honestly? This year the actual leaves on the pea vine are ginormous! Like, Jurassic big. Way too big really. I am afraid of how big the peas will be. Bowling ball size? Probably.

Back Seeded Simpson and Romaine lettuce sprouts, photo taken a couple of weeks ago.
Imagine they are a million times fuller now. Because they are.

   Last night I discovered my first butter colored cauliflower you guys! She is pale yellow, dense, and perfect. Tucked primly inside the massive green plant she calls home, dreaming calmly of low-carb recipes. Her neighbor, the brussel sprout, is putting on evidence of edibility too. Broccoli, two kinds of cabbage, blackberries, tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant, you name it. So far, except for corn and basil, we have a little bit of everything growing somewhere around here. Even chocolate mint which smells like angels in heaven are making York peppermint patties for breakfast while watching Casablanca.

This broccoli bolted on a hot day. But if you pinch off the center blooms and keep yellow leaves cleaned off,
the plant will set food peripherally and the results are DELISH.

Colorful green and red (purple) cabbages are tightening up finally, and the spinach fills in beautifully.

   Another sign of spring, Chink-hi the buffalo has begun his annual shed extravaganza  So cute. I need to snap some photos for you, because the way his body releases its winter coat, the patterns in which he gradually achieves his warm weather version of nudity, is so hilarious. Right now his skinny little rump and the wide spaces around his giant liquid eyes are the only bare spots. And they reveal how crazy thick his coat has been all these months! Like an inch of matted, woolly fur all over his strong body. No joke.

   I have had our house windows open for days. Very little wind here except during the nighttime thunderstorms, just cool crisp breezes. And temperatures are looking better and better every day. This is a rare kind of meteorological bliss for us here in Indian Territory.

   I am done substitute teaching for the school year.

   The laundry is caught up.

   The kitchen is stocked.

   And I have that "the world is my oyster" kinda feeling. Can you guess that today and for as many days after as I can manage it, Handsome will find me half-buried in the gardens? Dirt manicures, rolled up jeans, and careless ponytails. These are the days. These are the weeks.

Thornless blackberry vines crawling up our forest-pole arbor.
They have set dozens, maybe hundreds of buds already.

   This is the life.

   What's growing in your garden? Please connect with this blog on Facebook and share photos! So fun to see what people love in different parts of this beautiful world. Happy Spring-slash-Summer you guys.

"Won't you come into my garden?
 I want my roses to see you."
 ~Richard Sheridan
18th century Irish playwright & poet


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Take a Breath

   This farm has lost its ever-loving mind. Every day we discover new chaos and silliness. Greedy horses. Specifically, Chanta. A pregnant llama who thinks its funny to never have babies. Honeybees who visit us but apparently sleep and make honey elsewhere. A parrot who screams wildly, with the appearance of random noise but with really specific messages we are slow to interpret. A cat who refuses the food we buy but also hunts the cardinals. A guard dog who escapes and runs free but gets spat on by a guard llama. A buffalo who has severe separation anxiety. Roosters who battle each other despite the fact that they share a harem of twenty hens. Geese. Just, geese.

See? Even our photos are crazy.

   If Handsome and I couldn't laugh about it, we would be clawing our faces off.

   So we laugh. We laugh so much. And our face or more or less in tact.

   Lots to tell, more to do. Happy Tuesday everyone!

   Over and out.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Senses Inventory, Friday Joy

   Happy Friday afternoon my beautiful friends! What a week. Yes, I say that a lot. But I always mean it.

   What. A. Week.

   What a month.

   What a year.

   What a life!

   As we tip-toe toward the quick little recess we call a weekend, I have exactly enough time and energy for a Senses Inventory...

My youngest daughter and I saw this at the OKC Arts Fest again last week.
Every year she and I contribute to this cool community art display,
nothing more than shreds of fabric tied to some PVC structures.
And this year I am bringing the inspiration home. 
The veggie garden arbor is getting dolled up!
All visitors this summer are invited to play!

See: A pair of cardinals dancing in the air above the bird feeder. Stacks of folded clean laundry in the living room. A mason jar filled with browned but still pretty clippings from the forest. A flat of newly purchased herbs and marigolds on the table next to me. My unfinished Don Quixote. (Book club dinner is in two hours, yikes!) Shiny yellow ceramic dish shaped like cabbage leaves. Abundant, if cool, sunshine. Thick, soft green grass outside the kitchen door. One inviting chaise lounge and one shredded by a recent conflict with the buffalo.

Hear: Pacino grooming his papery feathers, blowing me parrot kisses, and clucking softly. The periodic click of the oven and hum of the refrigerator. Pickup truck driving past the farm. Wind. So much wind.

Smell: Clean laundry, pecan shortbread cookies, soapy water, coffee, roasting red grapes, seven different fresh herbs and their damp soil (I love that fragrance!), and my own perfume. Calvin Klein One today.

Touch: This beloved keyboard. My smooth cotton apron. A pair of wire-rimmed sunglasses that keep getting tangled up in my hair.

Taste: Perfect coffee. Really, really perfect coffee. The kind made with a French Press and hot cream. So good. Also, traces of olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary, plus toasted pecans and butter shortbread, all from sampling two recipes as I cooked this afternoon. Lipstick.

Think: About my daughters. Their hearts, their memories, their futures. About my parents. About the balance between living life and earning a living. About self worth and how complicated and fluctuating that concept is for me. About how I need about a month of nothing else to do so I can catch up on all of the incredible writers close to me.

Feel: Inspired. Calm. Stronger than I did this time a year ago, that's for sure. Itching to run again. Excited for our book club dinner tonight, but also sad because we have recently lost members. Lucky. I feel so dang lucky in life.

The raised beds are growing our earliest crops like magic!!
Even the tropicals are faring well in this super weird May weather.

   What's up with you? Was your work week overall pretty amazing? Do you have beauty surrounding you and love inspiring you? Do you have thoughts worth thinking rattling around in your head?

   Life isn't perfect, but it certainly is full of wonder and grace. Be sure to feed that wolf, the good one, as the Native American legend goes, not the evil one.

Happy Weekending Everyone!
Thank you so much for stopping in at the digital Lazy W.




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