Thursday, 26 March 2015

Do The Task In Front of You


This is my mantra, Do the task in front of you, do it well, do it all the way.
I have a Spring full of busy, so much that chaos is building up around me. 5 online classes, a conference presentation on Monday, a week long training session in May. Lambing. Planting. Children ready for outside play, cleaning the mud from them when they come back inside after a good day in the dirt and sunshine.

This is my life. There are ebbs and flows, there are moments when the intersection of poetry and art cross with the tall grass and muddy boots. I was telling a friend last night how last Spring, I climbed into the farm truck after a truly brutal day of lambing, the worst one yet, and a poem appeared. I wrote it on the back of a co-op grain order receipt with a pen that died half way through the scribbles and a broken crayon for the rest. I was determined not to lose those words.

But sometimes the words are lost to me anyways.

Right now, writing is last on the list of priorities even though it is the salve that gets me through these times. I am not sure how to shift things around so it fits back in without toppling everything.

Lambs in my kitchen still. The seasons switching back an forth, not making up her mind, clothes from two needs are piling up. I must find time to attend to it or I'll end up buried in sweaters, muddy play clothes, and jeans. Goodness, and dress up costumes.....so many princess and pirate dresses.

This much on the to do list means I have to organise the chaos inside my own head too. This means inevitably that I pull away from friends and family emotionally, because I have no time for the effort that goes into nurturing those relationships. I get snappy and curt. I hate myself when I hear the words spilling out and the fallen faces of the victims. My children, my dearest friends. Destruction and devastation. Then I have to clean up the mess. More time. Time I don't have.

This year, I am trying to divide my time and corral my words so that I can nurture and grow my life instead. I am making time. Making time for friends, for my kids, for art. My art. These things come first, get my attention fully. Then second comes the job that feeds us. If laundry piles up? Well, too bad. (Though it is making me twitch just thinking about it.....) The term will be over soon enough and summer load is much lighter.

I can do this. I can write, sing, dance. I will cook in the kitchen with Bessie Smith on the radio, dancing as I stir Rooster Gumbo, taking up hands of children who join me and spin them around in a waltz. I will feed my family and friends with joy and my attention. I will learn to play Ukulele and sing with all my off tune heart. And summer will come, warm the air, and I'll make sweet tea and laugh at silly jokes, draw chalk dragons and pirates and poems on my sidewalk with the children. I will swim with them, like a mermaid, the algae will catch in my hair too. This. This is the dream.

And yes, I will, soon finish my PV2 review and tell you all about California adventures. I will. Soon.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A break to show some beautiful things....


 I am still working through notes and it is keeping me from actually writing. Bah.

Here are some beautiful things I can write about.

After the conference I took a train from San Diego to Los Angeles.







About an hour of the train ride was this view. The ocean. I stared in wonder and terror until....I fell asleep. Or passed out. Let's just say it was sleep, ok?  Ha.

I am still unsure how to work through this terror of mine. I guess I am lucky I live land locked in Iowa. Maybe. We'll get to that.

So beautiful view. Train ride. I highly recommend it. There was a cafe on the train. It was comfortable. Everyone was really nice.

Then? Hello LA. Nice to meet you.



I was so excited to see my friend Bridie. She's a pastor now and a community organiser for human rights. In many ways, nothing has changed and everything has. It is amazing how much we are the same and grown at the same time.

I have so many Bridie stories and they all end with her rescuing my stupid teenage angsty self from real trouble. She extended me so much grace, much more than I deserved for sure. She stood for me at my wedding too. Lifted me with her friendship from the dark ages of self destruction and saw me into this life, which sometimes feels like a parallel universe. And now she does the same for others as her life work. Seriously. Amazing. Lady.

And this is who showed me her LA. Her California. This is how I like to travel to cities. Have people dear to me show me what they love about where they live, you know?

I even ate raw oyster. And then later? Squid. I ate squid. And soft shell crab. And Korean candy. Because travel is the chance to experience a place through someone else's life and I did not want to miss even a taste of it. Plus, seafood is so much better closer to the source.

Soon, I will post photos from all the adventures and places we went. Just a Monday through Thursday morning, then back home to Iowa. I'd post them now but I can't find the sd card. Ah. Photographer problems.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Day 1: PV2: Keynote and settling in.....

Keynote: John Liu
My tweets:





It took me a while to settle in. Not sure I really did at all, anxiety was pretty high the whole time, sensory issues amplified. Not sure why, but it was progressively worse the entire time.

The keynote and opening were pretty awesome though. Diego welcomed us with a rally cry of DO EPIC SHIT!

Oh, we are. And so is everyone in the room. That's why this was so cool. Everyone, gathered from around the world, is working on changing some small or big thing for the greater good. And this agricultural system sees the big picture and intersectionality of social justice, poverty, climate, and food growing issues. What do you care about? This is the question asked over and over again.

Figuring out what I bring to the table is another question all together. I'm an artist not a business person or an agri-scientist. I'm a story teller and moment catcher. What can I bring to the world that furthers the ecological healing?

This is the question I pondered through the whole conference. Caught up in my own thoughts, it was difficult to engage, so I turned to the coping mechanism of hand written notes. Which turned to poetry rather quickly.

My tweet about the folks in the room being able to, through design and influence, solve the problem of the West Coast drought? Spot on. Some of these folks are turning desserts to food forests, refilling aquifers with only 1 inch of rain every 4 years. Science applied to design and working within cultural and social frameworks. It's complicated, sure, but possible.

*Special note for future conference attendees? The hotel menu has a kids menu that is 1/2 the price and there is no age restriction. Pretty much the same size as an adult serving too. Ha. Once I figured out that lifehack, food budget became a lot more reasonable.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Almost Home.....


Actually, I am home physically. I am jetlagged from two coasts, a stranding in Texas for 3 days, and daylight savings.

I have so much work to catch up on. "Do the work in front of you," rings in my ears as I take it one task at a time. My children are all clinging to me, making each task more difficult. I understand, I missed them fiercely too.

But I had an adventure to distract me from the heartache of missing someone, so I get that they are feeling it harder.

I am tired. Tired in my bones, my flesh, my heart, and my head. It may take several cups of tea, wistful gazes out a window, and several dozen loads of laundry before I return to the normal rhythm of things here at the farm.

Forgive me while I gather my thoughts.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Permaculture Voices 2: San Diego

A couple of highlights, for now. This week was amazing. I live tweeted as much as I could. It was kind of hilarious when a speaker gave me side eye for using my iPhone while she was speaking....I was live tweeting all her key points! Ha.

I'll write more about the conference when I stop running, tomorrow early I catch a train that runs the coast to Los Angeles.

For now? Pictures of the bay that the hotel was right on.




Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Overload.....in San Diego

We arrive around lunch time, after a 5am flight. I barely escaped the drama of having a standby ticket from the Chicago to CA leg of the trip. No wonder it was so cheap!

We arrived, checked in, and headed straight for food and conference name tags. Soon we were swept away in the introductions, the welcome speech, a World Cafe exercise, and ...... I crashed. The keynote hadn't even happened yet. Chad nodded to me and I slipped out the doors and took off back to the main hotel. Too much. Too much.

Regrouping now. No wifi and my data plan which has another 20 days on it sent me a usage exceeds warning. We will get this figured out, but first I need tea and to wash my hair.

Hopefully I can rejoin the festivities later tonight.




Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Every Breaking Wave


I don't fall in love easily. I just don't. I didn't return the verbal sentiment to Chad when he first blurted it out and even then I had to start by saying it in French. Words are important to me and they make things real.

When I say that I feel like I am falling in love again, with poetry? I am not surprised that it took me a year, and a bit, to get to this point. I recognise and am cautious of lust and passion, because those things feel out of control to me. Fleeting. My feet need to be on the ground, a steady footing. Not necessarily a well worn path, I have no problem with climbing through brambles and thorns and exploring the darker parts of the wild, but do not unground me or put me out to sea.

That is why the ocean scares me so much. The rushing, powerful waves, the music, the rage and power that ebbs and recedes. This is pure and utter terror to me. Fist clenching, dizzy, panic inducing terror.

This is what falling in love with poetry feels like. Again. Feels like standing on that sandy beach with high tide rolling in, storms on the horizon.

I hope now that I have a few more decades on me that I can handle it this time around and not turn and run from it. I think I may have a handle on how to write the monsters this time around, bring them to life in ways that can't hurt me. If I am wrong? I'm much better with a sword now than at seventeen. The rules have changed.

Home. Finally.


After three days in Texas, I finally got a flight home. Still arguing with American Airlines about compensation. They offered me $75 for the inconvenience of sitting on a parked plane for 6 hours and then getting off again with no word for two days on when I could get home. Yeah. $75 isn't going to cut it. Not even a little bit. We will see.

When I got to the Iowa airport, I swooned. Not in the good way, in the oh dear God I am blacking out way. I managed to sit on the floor before I fell, and brought myself out of it. Yay honey cough drops that Candice put in my pocket before I left. I greyed out one more time while talking to the baggage lady, but the honey was already working and it didn't last too long. Got the baggage and twenty minutes later managed to haul all that mess out to the parking lot and find my car.

I drove home slowly, mindful of more dizziness signs. I didn't get this far just to end the story bloody in a ditch.

Once home, I hugged children, passed out gifts, and then actually passed out. I slept for a few hours, then sipped some tea. My heart was racing and my bones rattling- so I knew I had an electrolyte depletion. gatorade was brought out and soon I was sleeping again. That was about all I could manage.

Today, the kids were super clingy. Isaac learned new words, how to use the computer mouse to play PC games that are not touch screen, worked on potty learning, and seems to have grown up a lot. I missed those slow moments that growth unfolds because I was gone. Trust me, this hurt.

Holly and Lily were eager to just be in the room with me. Everyone was loud and high energy and eventually all the moving and noise was too much. I left the house for a few hours, got some coffee and took care of paperwork.

When I returned I made fancy ramen for dinner, folded laundry, and packed.  I'll probably repack tomorrow, just to make sure I have everything I want to take, equipment wise. Tomorrow Jessica comes to help clean, and I have so much work to do before class.

What I am getting at? I will, I promise, get more posts up from the island and from exploring Atlanta with Jen. Right now? I am barely above water.