Monday, 28 December 2015


This is my new garden. Part of it. The orchards are up field by the driveway. The greenhouse is behind me in the middle picture. Chicken house is off set too. I'm testing soil this week and drawing lay outs. Cross referencing varieties with zones and planting recommendations.

Y'all. I can grow bananas here. Bananas. I need to get more strawberries planted in the straw beds. Sugar cane cuttings coming soon. Snap peas are going in this week, bush beans next, and tomato seedlings in the greenhouse. Jennifer gifted me a bulk bag of carrot seed too. I love carrots. Oh, and the eggplants are still going strong, the full sized tomato plants have flowers on them for the next crop already, and we are still harvesting peppers. I'm going to dedicate a space to kitchen herbs too.

I have to work early in the morning because of the heat (highs in the 70's) and the heavy lifting. I'm a bit out of shape from not farming or doing that kind of chore work since May and I wear out after about 4 hours. The rain is pretty consistent so far too, everyday.

The folks here want an edible food forest and to protect the marsh that the property runs to.

A shared workspace also means that each project has to be completed and clean up after daily. I think that's my favorite part. Seriously. All tools cleaned and put away, trash picked up, and everything tidy. Love.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Reclaiming Space

This is my blog, my journal. For years I have let it be used as a marketing tool for my husband's family's farm and let others have editorial veto on content.  The divorce, which is finalized as of November, was a surprise to many because I kept our personal lives very carefully presented.

The truth is somewhere in between. I considered starting a new blog. I have actually a second place where I write about art and poetry. This space began as a journal of motherhood and self and that is what it will return to, slowly.

For now, here is the update.

The children and I are moving to Savannah, Georgia. I have work here and the climate is much better suited to us than Iowa. I have family here too. Mostly, I need the buffer from the hostility in Iowa. The hostility from the divorce was taking a toll on my health. I cannot be the mom I need to be for my children while weekly sometimes daily, facing someone and others who are so hateful, hostile, and sometimes outright violent with actions and words. I can deal with that four times a year, but not daily and not while suffering the brutally harsh Midwestern winters and living below the poverty line. I needed breathing space. Since moving out I have had only one panic/anxiety attack. Before, it was near daily. My health has improved. My finances are stable. Life is calm.

My aunt is looking at property here. That was one of the biggest reasons behind choosing Savannah, actually. Ashville, NC was higher on my list. Galveston, TX was too. I had even considered moving back to SW Louisiana to be closer to my extended family there. A long conversation with family and the revelation that my aunt was looking here and may need/want my company and help? Well, that changed everything. I have to say, Savannah has a sweet spot in my heart and it wasn't hard to convince me, not really. SCAD is here too and I am seriously considering furthering my education, perhaps there.

I cannot update on Chad. Though he is the father of my beautiful children, he has chosen a different path. He is paying the required child support. He has a good job. A wonderful support system. Anything else, you will have to ask him directly. I ask that you treat him kindly. He has found happiness and love and that is a blessing for all of us.

In the next couple weeks, as I get settled here, I will update on my reunion with my family, the fellowship I just finished in Vermont, and maybe a few posts about the place I am currently working and living, a five acre permaculture farm here in Savannah.

Friday, 15 May 2015

The Clock is Running

Everyday I have things I must do.

Feed my family, laundry, dishes, breathe.

I can get lost in these tasks. Not just lose time, but actually lose me.

I breathe. I remember. I catch glimpses of my own reflection and barely recognise myself.

This time of transition is hard. It is like there is both- not enough time to get this right and too much time spent waiting for the next part to happen.

There is a great sadness that has fallen here too, like the way that a storm that comes suddenly casts a shadow on the pasture and everything is dark.....but the wind has not yet picked up and the rain is still a ways off. We know it is coming. We prepare best we can. Yet? There are still unknowns. There are still cruelties. Still small affections. All at the same time.

This is the scariest part. Waiting. Not the breaking. Not the end. This in the middle where the air is still and we hold our breath.

This is why...make food, fold laundry, wash dishes, breathe. Over and over.

How do I keep myself moving?

My friends who are runners said this: put one foot in front of the other and run until you can't. Then walk home. You don't need special shoes or special pants. You just need your feet to move. And so running has made its way into my life. I run until my heart can't take it. I break down and cry in the darkness. I walk home. The shadows of the woods have never scared me, so this is the path I run.

Sometimes I run down the gravel roads. Not as often though because the neighbours teenagers drive a little too recklessly around here. That is not how I want my story to end- roadkill. I run.

I used to tell people if you ever see me running, you'd better run too because something big and nasty is chasing me.

Y'all. I am running. This is scary and big and the only way I can make myself cry anymore. I need to cry. If I hold it all in I am going to explode and that is also  not how I want to end.

These next 18 days are pretty intense. Starting next week I have training at Drake for fall term. Holly's birthday (which I keep forgetting to plan), then ballet rehearsal for Holly, recital and more training the next week, and then pretty soon after that I leave for Europe. 18 days more or less.

See what I mean about not enough time?

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Back To Work, Normal Things

One of the things I was taught growing up was simple: check my car's oil. I was also taught how to change the oil (and spark plugs). 

I take this a step further and I teach my children too. Every gas tank fill up, one kid gets to pump gas and the other gets to check the oil. They both wash windows and help clean the car up of any trash.

This task is important. Why? Why check the oil if I have no leak?

Well, this is not as obvious.

If I pop the hood open as often as that, I get to know the engine. What it is supposed to smell like. What it looks like. What the sounds are. If I am paying attention? I may spot a problem well before I become an evening news item, a burning carcass of a minivan on a rural Iowa highway. Not that I know of anyone that has happened to. Cough cough.

Seriously though, I have been able to spot issues before they become major expensive or dangerous problems. Bonus, good habits and routine keep my car cleaner than most moms I know. Every tank fill up, instead of standing there looking bored while the gas flows down the hose, I clean out the empty water bottles and discarded apple cores. Gah, I hate apple cores. I love that my kids eat them though. Better than twinkie wrappers, yeah?

My point is, now, when my breaking heart sometimes wants to give in to the chaos, little details like this make the day stay on course. Making my bed in the morning, keeping the spaces around me a little bit extra tidy and sparkly, helps calm the inner mess. The nagging that I failed at my own life, that broken home is now my reality (more on that next post), these things creep up on me and to meet them on the battle field, I come armed with Dawn dish soap and a Norwex cloth (not to be used together, no worries.....).

Back to the blog post at hand.....

To check the oil, find the oil stick. On my cruiser it is labelled with words. Sometime they are not. If it isn't super obvious, check your owner's manual.

Alright, now, pull it out, wipe it down clean with a paper towel, insert it back in and pull out again. Now you can get a reading.

Mine was half full.  It gets that way after 7 fill ups or so. The mechanic says not to worry, but to add oil when it gets below the 1/2 mark. Be careful to never put too much in though. The hash marks on the stick are where the line needs to be, somewhere in that range is good. Less is bad, more is bad.

So I needed to add just a little.

My oil cap is labelled with words on the cruiser. One past vehicle I owned it wasn't. That vehicle may have once had windshield washer fluid accidentally put where oil goes. Or vice versa. I don't remember. That wasn't the highway fire though (that wasn't me, y'all).

Anyway, be careful unscrewing the cap. It can be hot or dirty or both. Don't lose it either. Seriously. It is an important piece of your vehicle.

Add a little at a time and repeat the process for checking the level. One time on my old Volvo I added too much and the gasket cap broke. That's the kind of thing that too much oil can cause. That, luckily, was a 5$ fix. Not all things that can go wrong are that easy or cheap.

Screw it on carefully too, when you are done.

I then take a good look at everything else, wiper fluid on my car is obvious without touching it, but power steering and transmission fluids can be checked too (though I don't as often as oil).

The last step is a walk around, visual check of the tires and a peak underneath. If you can see anything leaking, make note of it.

Cars are expensive investments. They need to be taken care of. I have found that this habit is easy to put in place, get my kids involved it, and it makes driving nicer too. Clean cars just make for better travel, in my opinion. 

Before I was even allowed to learn to drive I had to know how to: change tires, change oil, and identify basic parts of the engine. Oh, and clock in 2,000 miles once I was learning to drive, before I could get a license. I had to parallel park. I had to spin circles in an icy parking lot to learn how to recover from a spin out on slick roads. I had to learn to read maps and navigate. I had to know how to pop a clutch (function of driving a 71 Beetle with a bad starter.....) and how to jump start a dead battery (love those old VW's)....

These are things anyone taking a heavy metal killing machine out on public roads at high speeds should know how to do.

If you don't? Fix that. It is important.