Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Selfies and Gypsy Farm Girl Punk

A couple years back my friend and inspiration Tiffany posted a selfie challenge. I started it. The one post I wrote sat gathering dust in my draft folder taunting me for near two years.

I could not even bear to look at myself in a mirror, let alone publish a picture of myself. Good grief. I gave a family member a whole lotta grief over flooding her wall with glamour shot and drunk selfies near daily. That's one extreme and my zero selfie policy was the other.

I wanted to find a healthy balance. First, I published that draft. Goodness it was well received, shared on social media about 200 times. Not the picture, the message. We are all superheros.

Still, I was in full on mama frumpy fashion and felt like a blurred out version of what might have been instead of a full person who is. How to even begin to address that?

Step one: decide what your style is. I used to help me figure this out. For casual work days my style is Gypsy Bohemian- long skirts, chunky vintage jewelry, tall boots, and blouses. For farm days- jeans and punk rock t's or a cross over with the gypsy blouses. For dress up? Rockabilly vintage.

gypsy farm girl

Purple or red for hair no matter what. And earrings. I realised I love earrings. Just putting a pair on makes me feel prettier.

Once I figured that out, then I had to force myself to shop for myself. I started online, easier to do with kids constantly pulling at me. Then thrift shops. Most of my jewellery is vintage or handmade from friends.

Another bigger hurdle? I mean, other than budget? Ha. Buying clothes that fit me, buying clothes for my right now body not the maybe someday body. That means admitting I need size 10 bottoms and large tops. I will never again be a zero or a two or shop the small rack. I am ok with that.

Then, learning how to put things together with things I already have or to remember what things work with what. Polyvore helped with that too.

Here is what the result was Saturday night at the show (I was trapped in the bathroom with Isaac who was melting down from the over stimulation):

My goal now is to take a selfie a day. Sometimes that means I wll take one out in the pasture or with an arm full of kids or while cooking something fun. I am part of the story too. Not just the faceless narrator, leading others to beauty and self acceptance and adventure.

I am part of the story too.

More to come on this topic I am sure. Just you wait and see.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Damfinos

A few months ago, I noticed a post from a friend about her husband's band needing a drummer. I passed it on to Chad after finding out it was a punk cover band.

They actually knew us from our movie theatre days and despite that......Chad became their new drummer! Ha.

It has meant time away from the family, shifting my grading time schedule, and the fuss of breaking down his drum set and hauling it every single week.....but it is totally, completely, worth it.

Last night was their first show. They are really, really good. Chad did a drum solo no one in the audience expected and got his own round of applause. The kids were so enamoured and supportive. YAY DADDY! It was hot being the wife of the drummer. ;) I got to play with my camera in low lighting too. Next time they have a show, I'll be there. Front row.

Chad and I support each others' interests. There is give and take, but we do our best. Up till recently, Chad has done the majority of the supporting of my crazy whims. This was his turn in the spotlight. It was awesome.

Lucas County Fair, Clover Kids

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Calm Between Adventures

This summer has been unusually cool and the wind has been calm as well. There are very few ticks or mosquitoes, and the humidity is just about perfect.

We have not yet needed our AC turned on, a good thing since it is broken. *Note to self, remember to get a call in about that or bug Chad before winter gets here. **I'll forget anyway. Ha.

Isaac loves it. He loves sitting outside eating apples and cuddling chickens and chasing his sisters and counting, two, three, four, five.....

Holly has been taking crayons outside and today I found her masterpiece, in crayon wax, on the front porch floor. It is pretty amazing actually.

Lily, ever the farm girl, has been taking care of her chores and heading out to the woods for explores. They stay out late, until bedtime, negotiating meals (ONLY COMING IN IF SOUP IS FOR DINNER!) Soup. Huh. I can do soup.

Chad and I have been taking walks in the late afternoon and evenings and dreaming pretty big about things. Lots of things. Finding thornless honey locust on our farm is pretty cool. Snacking on mulberries is lovely too. We talked about what time I need to do my job that is with the college and what I need to keep going with my freelance work. I have a list of places to submit work about farm life that I am researching. I have ideas for travel pieces.

The air feels too cool for July though. Winter teasing us. We bought this winter's hay and had it delivered today. Next up, chop and stack firewood. Try for enough for winter. Find a better place to stack and store it.

I have been furiously scribbling in my notebooks, learning formal verse form, then trashing it and wrecking all the rules. That's kind of my signature style, rule breaking. My intentions are to study the form and then dance around the edges, tearing at the border with my heals and tempo. Wild with pulpiness and red lines and life.

When I am done, good and worn out, I sway on the porch swing, sweet tea nearby, one ear out for duckings and another on the humming of children plotting their own way, book of verse in hand, reading poems about house fires in Tennessee, marsh whores in Florida, and urban schoolteachers falling in love.

This is my summer. This is my view. This is the calm between adventures.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Writer's Reflection

This week I received three acceptance letters from publishers for my writing submissions. The first one was an essay I wrote about my experience as a new farmer dealing with pasture predation. I sent this one out to the world because this experience meant a lot to me as a person and I worked on it for months. Normally, tales like this one would end up here on the blog but this experience was so soul changing and devastating and even humiliating that I just could not bring myself to share it.

It was not poetry. At that point my record was two photography acceptances and one essay- zero on the poetry. Yet, poetry is what keeps me coming back to these endeavour, is my true literary love.

Then, one evening, late, my email beeped. An acceptance and commentary of a POEM. The email sender was not a name I recognised, scrolling through quick....there was the name of the journal!! I was so excited. This one, (I'm being a stinker and not telling until it is published and released) is a journal that I have long read and admired. For those of you who have read my drafts, the poem is Poppy's Daughters.

The next morning a second one came in. My poem about Daphne in our own Iowa woods,  Daughter of the Osmanthus River, was accepted.

Those of you who have followed my struggles here know that my 15 year hiatus has left me doubting my own worth and skills, left me wondering and regretting. The thing is? Both poems and the essays are all new work- not the old work from the draft drawer of doom! New words, new lyrical twists, new stories. The work from long ago keeps coming back to me rejected. This sits with me like pregnancy heartburn, painful but productive. Realising this was really good for me too: again, I remind myself that I need the decade of silence to live life, to really birth my own new voice. The child that wrote poetry with only blue pens and gave up on performance when Slam took over the stage is not the poet I am now. I have even written a slam piece and planned a performance. Totally and completely out of my comfort zone.

Tally from 2014 thus far:

Portland Review: Photography
Flyway Journal: Photography
Yet to be announced: Essay fall of 2014
Yet to be announced: Poem August 2014
Yet to be announced: Poem  March 2015

AND.....November 2014 I will be reading at the Art on the Prairie even in Perry, Iowa.

Not a bad tally, actually. Tonight I am regrouping and looking at the work that just came back to me to figure out what goes where now. I am struggling to match journal to poems, I have exhausted almost all of the journals I read on my own and that is what I know to go to. 

This is where knowing and talking to other poets would really come in handy.

Where do you find poems that you love? What journals do you read?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Salad Bar

The pasture is in bloom right now. Purple, yellow, white, and a million shades of green and gold. Life buzzes and jumps and dances in the thick growth. It is fragrant and alive. I love seeing this landscape when we walk out here, it lines the gravel road all the way to the paved highway too. This is food. This food is feeding more food. It is lush and everywhere. It is also medicine. How glorious that this biology and ecology is thick and over growing all around us.

It baffles me that there is an industry that is solely focused on eliminating and poisoning these plants because technically they are all "weeds".  This makes no sense to me at all. People mow and poison this animal salad bar to clear the way to grow corn to then feed those same animals that would be healthier if they ate this natural prairie food- and we would be healthier eating the animal that feasted on this green goodness too. Or they clear it away just to have lawn. Lawn.

That is why our pastures look like this.  Messy and colourful and wonderful. Good for the bees, for the birds, for all of us. Our small patch on the quilt that is Iowa is going to be the crazy one. That's who we are, outliers, always.

I would not have it any other way.

Science Center Day!

My kids love the Science Centre. They could and have spent entire days there, playing and exploring. Just the idea of maybe going gets them on their best chore getting done behaviour. They ask for a chance to go when offered a treat. LOVE.

So, stuck in town one day this week, we ended up there. It was a blast. Actually a blast since Isaac discovered the rocket air launch and his rocket could really fly! We did that for about 45 minutes- build, launch, run, find, run back, launch, run, find, run back, over and over. He was really proud of his IZ rocket too.

This was our first time with Isaac in the star theatre too. Holly used to freak out as a baby, grew out of it just in time for Isaac to freak out as a baby. The last time we went Holly fell and got nursemaid's elbow. Not a great track record. This time though? They all three ran in and flopped to the floor, oooohing and aaaaaahing over the spinning star images, the solar flares, and the whirling outer planets. It was lovely.

That was our day, pretty much. Lovely.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Iced Coffee and Sibling Rilvalry

Iced coffee, maple syrup, real whole milk. This is how I spend my summer afternoons: writing, playing, cleaning, and creating. Taking care of farm chores, taking care of farm business, and making our way through the work.

Holly has informed me that chores go faster if we sing. So we sing.

Lily has informed me that such singing is painfully annoying, so of course Holly sings LOUDER.

Issac thinks the ensuing brawl is hilarious and he jumps onto the pile of fighting girls.

And rinse, repeat.

The other things we have found this summer:  Holly is suddenly into art. She has always hated it before, but now she sits at the dining room table every time the TV is on and draws, works clay, or builds with legos. She also does not see a problem with mixing medias. This morning she had modelling clay holding together magnets, legos, and plastic toys. It was so cool. Lily broke down though, mixing medias is "ruining everything". We had a good long talk about encouraging others, thinking outside the rules, and why she was feeling so threatened by Holly's rather sudden artistic creativity.

I get it. I really do. Lily has her identity wrapped up in being the artist and Holly is the dancer. What if Holly is good at art too? We'll be working though some of these feelings for a while I predict.

County fair is coming up. We will be working on finishing up Lily's project this week.

And that's about all for today!

Monday, 14 July 2014


The day we had to walk about town, we walked by this house. Right off the square. I had never noticed it. Lily's thought on that? Of course we never notice it, we are usually in a hurry-hurry and in the truck, why would we look at the houses?

What else do we miss by being in a hurry-hurry?

What else indeed. Time to slow down, I think. We'll be walking more on purpose very soon. I am looking forward to it.

Friday, 11 July 2014

VBS Snapshots

Issac still won't participate in the workshops and crafts, but the social and music time he really gets into. He is such a ham too. Holly is fine tuning her own personal style and that is more and more evident this summer. Lily is in the throws of pre teen angst. That's ok, I'll love her through it. Though, hearing, "All you really care about is XYZ and not me!" about 100 times a day is wearing me thin.

I need to remember to accept help when it is offered. Too many times this week, I said no when I should have said yes. Saying yes would have built on relationships. Saying no left me stuck. This was on my mind this morning as I contemplated how I was going to deal with the kids disappointment that the truck was broken again and they would miss the last day of VBS after missing the first three days. It rained and operation distract the kids with a boat ride in princess costumes was thwarted. Just as I was moving to plan B, my phone made a noise. A FB message from a family at church offering to drive the kids there and back today.

Remember to say YES more when offered help. So I said yes.

And the day was saved. Girls were dressed, hair brushed, shoes on in 90 seconds. They had a great time today and I am filled with gratitude. I need to say yes more. It is outside my comfort zone. I'll work on that.

Thursday, 10 July 2014


Today was kind of a go with the flow what else can go wrong lets make the best of it kind of day.

First, I forgot the actual dates of VBS. Thought it was next week. Nope.

So, then we managed to make it to today's only to have the truck break down right in front of the church. Seriously.

I got it started and drove the 5 blocks to the local mechanic.

Only to realise that he had not yet fixed the leak on my other vehicle.

No problem. We'll walk down to the square and eat and go to the library and take care of passport paperwork.

Only. It. Was. A. Mile. Or. More. To. Walk.

Three kids, one who is not a great walker for long distances because of hypotonia, no baby carrier or stroller, my work backpack and camera gear, and Lily's art bag from the truck. We walked. And walked. And walked.

Got to the courthouse and the square. Cool.

No cool? My drivers license* will take 10 days to three weeks in the mail and without the hard plastic copy, no passport application is valid. BUGGER. So did that.

*It seems that for about 16 years I have had and renewed a technically illegal drivers license. Not kidding. I've flown. I've bought and sold property. I worked for the State of Iowa. All the time, my license was incorrect and no one, not even me, took notice. Until now. Of course.

So, finish up there and head to Lindy's. Find cute stuff. Forget that what I buy I have to carry. Add to load.

On to get an early lunch while we wait for Chad (2 more hours to go). Complication. Dining room is closed for cleaning and the bar tables are not safe for Isaac. Wait for lower table.

And wait.

And wait.

Run into local babywearing/homeschooling mama friend. Chat while kids start to bite each others' arms. (Internally sob.....)

Finally, food. Then they offer to move us to a back table where there is a charger, but Isaac is getting wound up.

Instead we head to the park 4 blocks away. Full charge on laptop, charging my phone, hot spot= blogging.

That's not quite the end of my day. Still, the kids are fed, really well exercised, and still in a pretty good mood. I'll have pig chores to do when I get home and that will suck, but still, could be worse.

I think, today is a good day to go to bed early, read a book before that, and just be thankful that it was nice out and not 100+ degrees or raining. Thankful that I have a life partner on his way with a working car. Thankful that through the ordeal of today's events I could stay connected to so many people who offered to come get us and expressed concern or just commiserated. Feeling loved, feeling appreciated.

That's where we are at folks, playing in a park on a gorgeous summer day, sweet wind dancing in our hair, laughing, playing. Not a bad day after all.