Tag Archives: farm

But Seriously, Is This Your Super Power?

If Mr Dreamboat has a super power, and truth be told he has many, then it would be his ability to find things. Far from becoming irritated when I lose things (… the same things… every day… and then other days I lose different, important things…), it seems he becomes ignited by the opportunity of a challenge and when he emerges, inevitably victorious, he gets a sheepishly proud look on his face and bestows me with the gift of the found object.

Sometimes I swear I can see his 8-year-old self beaming through.

And so it was that when Zoë lost her phone on the farm in a very deep way, we were all a little disappointed that Mr D was, and would remain, out of town for 8 more days. That’s a long time to go without one’s personal device in this day and age.

Each member of the family took turns and then as a team and searched for the missing phone for days and days. Zoë could be heard mumbling as she passed, “If I were a phone, where would I hide?”

On several different days the hall closet was completely emptied. The first time the focus was on coat pockets, the second was on shoes, the goat stalls were literally combed and yet the phone’s whereabouts remained a mystery.

The phone was lost on a dark and stormy Wednesday night. The following Tuesday morning presented itself as cloudy and then changed its mind like a moody middle schooler and surprised us with a sunny disposition. As my day unfolded the glistening air called me and I decided for a short farm meditation, holding goats and feeling fresh mountain air on my face.

As I put on my jaunty purple boots and told the home team where I’d be, Zoë requested I hold Nellie, our newest baby goat. That’s how you train them to hang out with humans.

I walked the short walk to the goat barn and went straight to Nellie and her mom. After I cornered the oh-so-adorable-kid I opted for yet another search for the phone.

Step-sweep-step-sweep, I snuggled Nellie while her mother dumbly searched for her. Look up you ridiculous goat.

And there it was, gleaming like an unearthed treasure, in all its phoney-glory… or rather, it was a bit dull with but a single goat poop marring its glorious face.

At that moment I felt my super hero cape flapping in the breeze. The sun shone even brighter and I knew I was the hero of the day… or at least five minutes… whichever comes first.

After the emotional reuniting of Woman & Phone, I wondered if a bit of Mr D’s magic has finally rubbed off on me and then I got to thinking. It wasn’t magic at all, at least in the way we’d like to think of magic.

The magic was in the perseverance. The magic was in not accepting the phone as lost, but in knowing if we just kept looking we would find it.

It is magic. It’s the kind of magic where we just keep working at it. We get up every morning and try again no matter how many times we fail.

Our dreams will magically come to us. And it’s just like Tinker Bell always promised, we have to keep our faith, trust and Pixie Dust.

Or if you live on the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary, Goat Dust will work just fine.



The Truth About Goats & Happiness

baby goatsYesterday afternoon as I drove up to the Young Family Ranch, the bucks and llama grazed peacefully in the front pasture. And I felt happy.

It turns out it doesn’t take much for one to be happy. Thought perhaps it’s not as easy as the goats and llama make it seem either. Well, for them it’s probably no big thing.

For nearly eight years we’ve been gentleman ranchers with at least one or two goats living on the property with us. We sometimes milk them and almost always breed them. You know why if you’ve ever seen a frolicking kid in the springtime.

For the longest time, and I know this makes me sound a bit dim, if we weren’t milking them, I wasn’t sure what purpose they served. I mean, shoes keep your feet protected, rain makes the grass grow, dogs keep you company, but a non-milking goat? Even the llamas serve as protectors for the other animals.

I am not so sure exactly how things can be so hidden from me. My dear Mr Dreamboat surely scratches his head at me when the most obvious things are not remotely clear to me. At least until I get them figured out.

The goats, at least for us out here at the YFR, simply make you happy. Not just the frolicking in the spring and not just because I make some killer chevre when the mood strikes me.

No, the goats and the one sheep, along with the Great Pyrenees dog, the four horses, the colorful chickens and the sassy geese, at the end of the day they’re just there to make us smile.

What it takes to be happy is to look around and see all the things that make you happy. Simple as that. For the goats, it’s likely the green grassy fields, for me it’s the goats and for you it’s likely something else.

Without a doubt there are meek things around each one of us. What exactly makes you smile is far less important than that you are actually allowing yourself to do so.

Alice Walker said, “Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.”

And that, my friends is the truth about happiness. Now go find yours.

Like, share, comment, tweet and take a bite out of life like it’s the only one you get… Cuz you know, it is…

The Best News Ever!

Many years ago, when many things I thought were true proved disturbingly unfounded, I stopped believing stuff. I didn’t stop believing in all the stuff, just stuff about our government and about good always winning out over evil. Total bummer. I mean really disappointing.

You can imagine that such an undoing caused some behavioral changes. I stopped wearing jewelry, stopped wearing makeup, cut my hair short and I stopped caring about the news.

I stopped watching the news because I was so very disappointed in the government I didn’t want to hear about it at all. It was because I had so much drama in my own life I didn’t need anybody else’s.

It’s fairly obvious that the makeup and hair, those things were about simplifying, not having bandwidth for extra things. I was running on empty much of the time. If you’ve ever watched a zombie movie, you’ll recall no one cares about their makeup and everyone would be better off with short hair. Even the zombies, cuts down on blood spatter tangles.

newsSince that time I’ve grown my hair out and then I cut it short again. Last year I started wearing mascara and since then I got some really cool eyeliner. Sometimes, if I’m feeling fancy, I wear eye shadow as well. The times they are a changin’.

What remains the same is my serious disinterest in keeping a close eye on the news. Not only is my aversion to keeping up with the news still a part of me, but studies show people who watch hours of the news have higher incidence of heart problems and health issues in general.

Ignorance pays powerful dividends.

To be sure I’m aware of ISIS. Yes, I know about the Ebola virus. But since I’m not on the frontline for these concerns, it seems over-educating myself, worrying and stewing in the juices of impotence, will hardly serve to solve the issues.

Let us eat cake, then! Let us live very happy lives and delight in life’s generosities. If and/or when there is a real problem, that’s when it’s time to worry. Until then, Let us eat cake.

Some habits are worth keeping.

Like, share, comment, tweet and sleep well tonight my friend, they’ll let us know when it’s time to panic.

Shimmering Moments & Mundane Tasks

The autumn sun has graced us this early fall, and every day I waken to chill air and blue skies. When the sun is shining it is difficult to question that we are loved and adored by an intelligent Universe. Well, for me it’s a lot more fun that way.

Yesterday morning and throughout the day we moved my daughter out of her temporary digs in our home and up north a piece to her own island home here in the grandeur that is Washington State. I will miss her.

The weather was designed for a move and we spent the day loading, hauling and unpacking the boxes that constitute the life of young people.

How cute is this kitchen?!
How cute is that?!

The house sits off the road and with its apple trees, garden and play area is a cornucopia of a country adventure. Every view is of old barns and well kept gardens, mountain scenes and the beautiful, bounteous river.

My daughter-in-law Ashley came to help and brought Pierson, my toddler grandson. We spent the day setting up beds and organizing the kitchen. We explored the property and Pierson fed his left over apples to the puppies.

As I drove home with Mr Dreamboat, it occurred to me that my day was far better than any event I could or ever have attended. I was surrounded by people I love doing meaningful work. The views were stunning, the outcome positive. All was right with the world.

I am often reminded that the perfection we seek in life does not usually come with a magnum opus. It is found in shimmering moments and mundane work. To truly feel the brilliance of life takes nothing more than deep gulps of fresh air and a hand to hold from time to time.

I left my daughter last night to start a grand adventure and I couldn’t be more pleased for her. She is smart and brave and good. I am a lucky mother.

As I go off into the wilds of my own life, seeking the magnum opus and adventures of my own, I am peaceful in the knowledge that each of us will experience success and defeat. We will know triumph and disappointment.

More important than any of that, we will have dazzling moments of kindness. We will enjoy mundane meals and quiet evenings. And best of all, there will be hands to hold.

I have things to work on in my life, but perhaps the true magnum opus is designing a life where there are always plenty of hands to hold.

Like, share, comment, tweet and bask in the sunshine of living… regardless of the weather.

When The Toilet Is Moody & The Thermostat Is Haunted

photo 1 (6)
The Levy Family

It is an interesting weekend here at the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Retreat. Out of town guests have graced our home and everything has sort of turned upside down for me.

Well, I suppose things were turning around before this, but having fresh eyes on the YFR makes things look even more different.

Three years ago when we moved out here I thought I had a good attitude. The economy was hard on us and it was time to move out of the house we’d built brand spankin’ new and take some time to regroup. It was a lovely home and the first thing I noticed when we moved here was that the condiments from the grand home filled up the entire refrigerator here.

That may have been the genesis of my attitude problem. When I am old and gone they will say, “Her downfall was condiments.” Please tell Mr Dreamboat I would like this on my headstone.

But it was more than just condiments that yanked my chain. It was moody toilets and what

The horses are beautiful, but I forgot that.
The horses are beautiful, but I forgot that.

seemed to be a haunted thermostat. It was long drives to granny’s house and my favorite boutique grocery store 40 minutes away. And my hairstylist, 40 minutes away. And downtown Portland, 40 minutes away. “Well ain’t this place a geographical oddity, 40 minutes from everywhere.”

This morning, rather than drive one hour to my painting class and then 3 hours back in the Friday afternoon Portland traffic, I drove 20 minutes from my house. And it was breathtaking. And it was gas saving. And I loved it. I LOVED being here. HERE. In Amboy, Washington.

This is Max's leather shop.
This is Max’s leather shop.

And so it was, with all my friends far away and the grocery store far away, I had a bad attitude.

In all honesty, even with the fresh eyes of our guests enjoying the scenery, the toilets still sort of pisses me off…

That said, recently I’ve begun to shift. I’ve realized I don’t have to go out to eat. I don’t need to drive through Portland traffic to find a great place to paint, I can cherish my friends from far away and appreciate those I am making here. Yes, friends here. Who woulda thought?

Again time is teaching me some things, about myself and the place I call home. I thought I had a good attitude, but self evaluation isn’t always as accurate as we’d like to believe it is. And it is not a new truth I’ve learned. It isn’t even the first time I’ve learned it.

Delightfully simple yet painfully difficult to achieve: Be happy with what you have.

I’m starting right now. How about you?

Like, share, tweet, comment and love your life and yourself and everything that is, for it is grand. All of it. You just have to remember

Ten Things To Do When You Have All The Time In The World

I am all full up with things to do. I have mundane things to do and creative things to do. I have things to do that should have been done a long time ago, things I’m not really sure how to do and things I could do in my sleep and if that was at all restful, I’d attempt to get some things done in my sleep.

I am not complaining. I find we wish we could go on vacation when we’re busy and and when we have too much time on our hands we end up feeling useless and dissatisfied. Having just come off the Great Escape Annual Holiday Beach Trip, I am in no hurry to fill my hours with nothing but leisure time. Well, maybe next week that would be nice. One week on, one week off? Yeah. That would do.

At any rate, at this particular juncture, I find my dance card full and not a scrap of spare time to be had. Further, it is my experience that if you can’t necessarily do something, the second best thing is to fantasize about it. And so I present to you:

Ten Things I Would Do If I Had All The Time In The World:

  1. Circus-Happens-red-306x215I would call the circus school tomorrow that was suggested by my friend Libby, The Hobby Hoarder. Seriously, she did the research for me. I would call the circus school and find out how to fly with the greatest of ease on the flying trapeze. And if I lived through it, I would write all about it.
  2. I would spend hours and hours in my studio. I would paint things and sculpt things and I would dance around to quaint and sometimes melancholic music.
  3. I would sew something awesome. Maybe a quilt or a ball gown. Maybe both. Wait, I’ve got the time, BOTH!

    Too much?
    Too much?
  4. I would decorate my whole house. Well… maybe not. I always think I would be good at that, and I never am…
  5. I would drive to the beach house and repaint the door. It’s red right now, or mostly red. I would paint it blue this time I think. Then I would stay there for a few nights by myself and I’d try to think thoughts significant enough to justify the time alone.
  6. If I had all the time in the world I would walk everywhere I go. I admit to loving a good run, but truth be told, a substantial walk is a thing of beauty. Also, I’d need all the time in the world as I don’t live within “walking distance” to anything but the Amboy Market, which, I contend, will be the starting point of the actual zombie apocalypse. Like from bad Spam or something.
  7. When time is not an issue, I would be willing to watch all the seasons of Downton Abbey and feel like I could keep up with pop culture America, and the Brits too, I suppose.

    downton abbey
    Is it really that good?
  8. With time to spare, one of my choices would certainly be to train for something important… like a world yoga competition. On second thought, after a yoga practice today that practically made me cry tears of blood, I would train for something like a sleeping competition. Yeah. I could really see myself excelling at that.
  9. I would go on an awesome road trip with Mr Dreamboat. We would see things like the largest ball of twine and drive Route 66 holding hands and listening to awesome road trip tune-age.
  10. With enough time on my hands to squander, I would sit down, and begin my great American Novel. Or at least a self deprecating memoir about being a prison wife and some of the seriously embarrassing things I’ve done.

Yeah, that’s what I’d do.

Sunrise V. Sunset ~ You Be The Judge

photo 1 (3)I am finally home – home. I’m not just physically at my primary place of residence. I’m all the way invested in being here. I can tell because the dishwasher is running and I feel a little bit overwhelmed by everything I need/want to do.

I love the holiday season for its ability to take us out of our everyday mindset. For that matter, it’s why I love traveling. We’re just a little bit more present when we shake up our routines, take a different route and go outside our normal comfort zones. It is my contention that while most of us get out of bed every day, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re awake.

This morning I arose early to go about my morning obligations. There was no ignoring the alarm clock. My radio show is live in a few hours and I have deadlines looming before me like giant storm clouds demanding I seek cover. My heart rate is higher than it’s been in weeks!

As I stood in the kitchen after running Chase to his early morning class, I was delighted to see the bright pink sunrise blossomingphoto 2 (2) before my kitchen window. I cleaned out the refrigerator, organized recycling and made myself a green smoothie, all the while bathed in the rosy splendor of an early morning rich with commitments.

And it was in the early morning light that I realized the holidays and vacations and times of leisure, they’re often about the sunsets. We gratify ourselves with mornings spent in bed and comforts to pamper our souls and we fill ourselves up on sunsets and candlelight and cosseting.

And even though the alarm clock was every bit the jolt to my over-indulged system that you would expect, there is a distinct satisfaction in getting back to the work that needs to be done and in the pleasure of a generous sunrise to go with them.

I don’t think I could choose between sunrises and sunsets, they’re just different, and beautiful in the contrast.

photo 3 (2)

Christmas Letter Envy ~ Don’t

The holiday season is in full swing and it seems like everything has something to do with the festivities. While there’s still much to be done, I find the home stretch is my favorite part of the preparations. Much of the work is complete and I’ve had opportunities to take a deep breath and simply enjoy hearth and home.

all together now
Carrie is missing from this pic.

Yesterday morning the entire family could be found under our roof.  The previous night, arriving in shifts, each of my little ducklings returned to the nest… or the Zombie Apocalypse Ranch, but that doesn’t sound as festive. So for the holidays it’s The Nest. Just go with it.

We arose early and enjoyed  “Christmas Morning” together as my married children are trundling off to their spouses family’s homes this year.

Pierson at Christmas
I can’t imagine how overwhelming Christmas morning will be.

It was a complete and utter pleasure. Everyone was in a good mood. The kids exchanged gifts and we laughed and shared the traditions that are a distinct part of our family culture. Perhaps best of all was having Pierson Danger here.

Though he wasn’t quite sure what to do with all the wrapping paper, he was happy and giggly and it melted my heart to watch his aunts and uncles please and pamper the little man.

“It’ll nearly be like a picture print by Currier & Ives…”

By the time our Christmas magic had begun I was over the Christmas anxiety in which I’d been indulging.

Not this kind of Christmas Letter.
Not this kind of Christmas Letter.

Recently I succumbed to “Christmas Letter Envy.” It was a rookie mistake. I know better. But I did it anyway and allowed it to rob me of the joys that are mine. If, that is, I can stop the madness.

I really love getting Christmas cards and letters. I love reading about your families, enjoying the silly stories shared and seeing how the children have grown. But I do this thing where I compare my insides to others’ outsides and it doesn’t serve me well. If I let it go on for too long, it actually tortures me.

For some very human reason, I imagine your lives in perfect, tidy order. Your joys are nonstop, your successes never ending. You don’t struggle, as I do, with self doubt, disappointment and a scale that never seems to budge no matter how diligent you are with you health. It’s a magazine cover life you live. Congratulations!

You are perfect, in my overactive imagination, and I am flawed. Bah!

So I’m standing in the kitchen, right by the broom closet, and I am punishing myself with visions of my all too human shortcomings and imperfections when, of a sudden, I start grinning from ear to ear. I practically giggle to myself I am so delighted.

All I had to do was remember. It’s all any of us has to do.

We have to remember our blessings. We have to remember them every single minute of our lives. In order to feel whole and happy, we have to look to what we have, what we are and more importantly, what we can become. That’s where the grin starts. Caution; this may cause unexplained, public giggling.

Send me your Christmas letters! Regale me with stories of incredible, family perfection and achievements. Revel in them as you place the stamps on them and imagine my face as I read about your beautiful family. I am delighted for you and yours.  And I am thrilled for me and mine.

It shouldn’t just be at Christmas that we get to enjoy our blessings and share them with others. We need to focus on them throughout the year, and always always always delight in the successes of others.

Celebration trumps Envy every time. Merry Christmas.

Pierson Christmas photo

Holiday Pep Talk ~ A List Of Ten Things

Our holidays look like this… Only sexier.

I am sitting here in my bedroom, typing this. My house is full of people for the holidays and I am delighted to have them here. I am excited to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. I am overwhelmed and a little uptight. And I don’t want to be.

I love the holidays, not in an, “I’m going into the Christmas stores on my vacations,” sort of way. But in an, “I’m looking forward to the traditions and the peaceful feelings and the time with family and friends,” type of deal. But getting that peace and enjoying those traditions are a sort of carnival act. They take smoke and mirrors sometimes. And a ton of work.

Yesterday’s post was admittedly a pep talk for myself. Today’s is much the same. These are things I would have my mentor tell me, if, indeed, I had a mentor:

  1. If you take a few deep breaths and know that the holidays will come and go and there will be delights to be had without the blood, sweat and tears you’re known to give, you will be glad. Breathe deep. Feel… not in control so much as, in the flow.
  2. Seeking the perfect holiday is like believing you will achieve perfection before you die. Not. Gonna. Happen. Give into it and trust that good enough is good enough. And good enough, when looked at in the right light, is perfect.
  3. Perfection comes in moments. Look for them and that elusive feeling we had as children will return and the magic will be ours again.

    thanksgiving prep
    Perfect moment.
  4. The only way to feel good over the holidays is to forget ourselves. Look to make magic for others. Seek the opportunity to put on the cloak of Santa and create delights and joy. That’s the only way to really get it all back again.
  5. Contradicting myself is an art and so: Take good care of yourself over the holidays. Get enough rest. eat healthy foods and do the things that make you feel pampered.
  6. Pumpkin pie is breakfast food if you don’t say it in front of a nutritionist or a Fit 4 Life coach. Shhhhhhh…
  7. It’s the quirky events and the silly follies that we remember from years gone by. The Charlie Brown Christmas, the truly dreadful gifts, those are the things we remember years later. Not how pretty the decorations were. Not how perfectly the tree was decorated.
  8. Make a fire in the fireplace or get one of those dvd’s with a crackling fire to put on the TV. Fire = Cozy
  9. Read Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. It puts things in perspective.
  10. The holidays will come and go. There will be magic, there will be the mundane business of our lives. But the relationships we nurture, the kindnesses we extend to others and to ourselves our true celebrations of life and we should care for them without reservation. All year long.
For this I am grateful.
For this I am grateful.


The Feng Shui Of The Kitchen Sink

I probably believe I have more influence and impact in this life than is actually true. Except for in voting. I don’t think it matters

I vote because of her.
I vote because of her.

when I vote, but I do it for the suffragettes. But other than that I think I over-blow my impact.

I believe in my heart that when I’m friendly to the cashier, that somehow she might go home from work and be a little kinder to her kids. And peace will reign. And they’ll eat their vegetables. Which in turn will help them live longer and more satisfying lives. You’re welcome.

The kindness affect works with servers, fast food workers, or even the guys at Les Schwab who fixed my tire yesterday after I sat there for two looooooooong hours breathing in new tire fumes. I thanked them and smiled.

Not only do I think I have influence on others, I feel that if I make certain choices and efforts that I will influence myself and my household. Which brings me to the kitchen sink.

Not my actual sink, but it looks quite a lot like this.

I’ve been trying to keep my sink cleaner in an effort to positively influence the cleanliness of the rest of my house. In my mind it works something like this: I clean my kitchen sink which begs to have the counters cleaned off. Once I, or the observant members of my household, leave the clean confines of the kitchen, we are more likely to notice the shoes out of place or the dishes left in the family room. We like how we feel in the kitchen, so we want to feel that same sort of organized joy in the family room. Before you know it, each of us is doing our part to make a more orderly and tidy residence.

Seems like solid thinking to me, so I’ll keep working on it, at least until Lucy The Wonder Cleaner returns.

I have in my head that there’s a universal affect with both being kind to strangers and keeping my kitchen sink clean. I imagine some sort of cosmic ripple affect, like dropping a stone into a pond and watching the waves spreading until the whole pond is gently bouncing.

It’s probably indulging in a little magical thinking to believe I have that much influence in the daily lives of others. My house will probably be about as clean as it usually is, I think the word is homeostasis, but what I know for absolute sure is that I am happier and kinder when I go out of my way to be gentle with others. And my kitchen sink absolutely sparkles.