The “What Is” Scenario…

 

beautiful-red-umbrella-rain-wallpaper-desktop1Life is a funny thing, I constantly am re-writing my life – discovering new things every day and the people I surround myself with has a lot to do with these new discoveries? Life is ever changing and the fluidity of the life “just is,” there is always something happening, right?  To me, to you, to the next person you walk past.  And none of us truly know what any one person is going through whether it be a great new promotion at work or they have been told that they are losing their battle with cancer. There are so many “what if’s” and I need to work on letting go of the “what if’s” scenario and become focused on the “what is” scenario.

Life is constant…moving in and out, ebbs and flows, high tide and low tides, sorrow and great joy, and there is a lot of truth and a lot of lies, but if life wasn’t this way we would all be standing in quick sand letting our lives and experiences slowly disappear. My experiences shape who I am and why I believe in the things I do. However, there is a time and place an opportunity presents itself to me to help someone else with sharing my experience with them.  This is a very valuable trait….to open up and really get raw with someone else (let your soul become raw) when you feel the need, when you feel moved to do so and for me…it’s a very distinct feeling and I know it right away. Sure, I could breeze past these opportunities but down to my core, I WANT and DESIRE the need to help others.

I let myself overthink situations, things people say, and read into words I take completely wrong (that, I believe to be a common trait for a writer), this only speaks more to why I am pondering and starting to figure out to simply, let more shit go.

Don’t get me wrong, I am who I am and therefore parts of me will always just be as they are. Change is possible and you have to let yourself become aware of how you are truly feeling.  Be “raw” with yourself!

Some of the things I value about myself are: my desire to always be the best version of myself, the value of family is huge…my tribe (these are the ones I know I could run to no matter what trouble or situation and they would be next to me no matter what), I love hard and I love deeply, I am passionate, I believe the best in people unless they show me otherwise, I also believe in second chances, relationships MUST be nurtured or they can crack and break. There is give and take to everything, I NEED to be more courageous…. I do have hot buttons…. if you want to go there with me…game on! If you want to mess with family, my children, or be disrespectful…game on!!

 

 “Become aware that there are no

accidents in our intelligent universe.

Realize that everything that shows up

In your life has something to teach you.

Appreciate everyone and everything in your life.

                                                -W.D.

Writing and Photography

There are days when I struggle to put pen to paper or fingers to my laptop. I am drawn to be creative, to do something that will mean something to others.  I don’t need recognition at all.  Its that look people have/get when I am working on something whether it be a book or in my photographs. I feel truly inspired and blessed by both of these creative outputs.

My first love is writing but I am lucky enough to have two first loves.  Photography is my second. Last year around this time I left my job of seven years where I had spent those years using my cameras (I have four) whether it be a farmer in his crop, photos of the the way a certain crop is harvest, or portraits that my job required.  I am passionate about agriculture photography because it is so important to Oregon and my home is surrounded by at least 10 different crops.  We as farmers and individuals must take care of our soil and crops to feed the world.  I am passionate about that as our population continues to grow!

I have been taking photographs for almost 10 years.  I was given my first Nikon D90 by my dad for Christmas.  Every chance I had I would take his camera and start shooting so I guess it seemed fitting to get me a camera of my own.

Right away, I started taking photos.  I started with people, portraits, families, weddings, candid’s and natural landscapes.  Candid’s are so beautiful because if I can catch a glimpse into someone’s life without them knowing the moment I capture is full of hope and truth.

My dad and I started shooting weddings together about eight years ago.  It was an amazing experience-two things I loved all wrapped up in someone else’s day filled with love.  Although those days were long and we had some demanding couples and brides – I spent the entire day laughing with my dad and taking photos.  Those were some amazing days I will never forget.

I started to do more family, individual, anniversary, bridal showers, babies on my own time.  Call me stupid but I didn’t do it for the money (I rarely charged people), I did it for the love of photography.  I would have a lot more money if I would have changed more or at least half what most photographers charge.

I am so passionate about photography and on rare days my camera trumps my writing if I can’t find the words but taking off by foot or in my car with my camera always leads me back to my writing.  So, my passion for writing and photographs are deeply rooted and wrap around each other. Writing is my first love!

“Writing allows me to taste life twice.”

-Anais Nin

 

 

 

 

 

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All You Need Is Twenty Seconds of Insane Courage…

Tackle football has now been added to the mix for my boys, along with 7th grade, and the amount of homework has tripled at least.

I pick my boys up every evening after practice. I have seen them for years play organized sports on many fields. The first day I saw them playing in full pads and helmets, I felt as if I was run over by a train that smashed through my chest.  I had a mom moment, if you are a mom you have had these moments.

All of a sudden my chest was heavy, I took a long deep breath in, and blinked rapidly to fight back the tears.  I wasn’t sad, upset, or frustrated—I was proud and wondered, how the hell did we get here?  WTF, they were just in diapers. And, will I be able to watch them get pummeled into the ground when someone else’s child is running full speed ahead toward either of them.

Okay, okay…I know my kids are not in the NFL but in my mind, that’s what I see…you know, the replays of the NFL tackles on game day where the feed is played in slow motion so every one can say, “damn, that was a hard hit”.  Their first game is next Wednesday and they are so excited…I am terrified! We will have to wait and see how that plays out…

I am told this is a rite of passage for kids…it kicks off their future years in sports that will carry them through until high school. I can already picture the excitement on their faces on game day.

I can still remember all of those days I had in school. I remember playing as a team and working together, what it felt like to when we won and also, when we lost.  Juggling homework, a job, and sports made me work even harder through school, it taught me how to balance my time and it forced me to be responsible to figure out what worked for me to keep all of it organized.

I know, my kids are no where near graduation day. However, each day that passes they get closer and I have to trust more that I have instilled in them what is right and what is wrong, to think about the decisions they make on a daily basis because that decision can have a positive or negative outcome (which they have to face either way). And well, for this momma I need to suck it up a bit and realize they will keep growing and nothing I do or say is going to stop that. No matter what happens next Wednesday on field, I will be one proud momma! But, every day between now and that day, I need to get my shit together because this will be the first of many games and I don’t want to be the crazy mom in the bleachers crying and cheering on the team!

 

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

                                                                                                            -Benjamin Mee

Early Readers…

Children read to learn – even when they are reading fantasy, nonsense, light verse, comics or the copy on the cereal box, they are expanding their minds all the time, enlarging their vocabulary, making discoveries – it is all new to them.

    – Jane Austen

Grandpa’s Orchard: Oregon History

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One hundred years ago, George Dorris, a lawyer turned farmer, knelt in the soil between the soils of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers and planted five acres of hazelnut trees. Dorris’s trees were the first commercial hazelnut orchard in Oregon.

With that orchard, Dorris planted the state’s hazelnut industry. Over the years, he planted a dozen more orchards and established a hazelnut nursery that operated for 40 years and produced about 70,000 trees per year.

Today, about 650 Oregon families grow hazelnuts commercially on 28,000 acres throughout the Willamette Valley. It’s estimated that more than half of those trees came from Dorris nursery stock.

“There’s been a lot of progress in the industry, but what was done with hazelnuts at the Dorris Ranch formed the starting point for where we are today.”

And today, Oregon accounts for 99 percent of the hazelnuts grown in the United States and is the third largest producer of hazelnuts in the world, behind Turkey and Italy.

The state’s harvest of hazelnuts, which are also called filberts, averages more than $30 million in farm sales. Hazelnuts have found their way into a distinctively Oregon cuisine. Dipped in rich chocolate, crumbled over a fillet of wild Oregon salmon, or munched whole and washed down with an Oregon microbrew, hazelnuts add flavor, crunch and a nutritional boost to snacks and recipes.

Hazelnuts are easy to love, but they are not always easy to grow. In the 1970s hazelnut growers in southwestern Washington discovered a fungal disease had swept through their orchards like termites, forming cankers that were slowly taking over the branches, it was eastern filbert blight. Spores carrying the blight travel easily in the wind and quickly contaminated entire orchards. By 1986, the blight struck the north end of the Willamette Valley.

In order to get more Oregon hazelnuts on the world market, growers must first get trees into the ground, and propagating adequate numbers of trees in a short time can be a challenge. To date, Oregon raises 99% of the United State crop.  Many of our hazelnuts get sent out of the U.S. to places like China.

It takes about 5-7 years for the new trees to begin dropping hazelnuts.  It is a waiting game for awhile.  But we think it is well worth the waiting game. To our surprise on our farm; three generations now working on the farm we take care of our families as if they are family members.

 

Sited:  OSU Extension Services, By Amiee Brown

Grandpa’s Orchard: What I’ve learned about family and farming

 

 

hazelnut-harvest-collage

There are days on the farm that our home feels like it has a swinging door.  We run in and out for lunch, to run parts for equipment on the farm, or business supplies. All the while, our twins who are 12 keep the door swinging whether its for play or working on the farm.

Day in and day out each one of us contributes to the needs of our farm.  My husband spends countless hours under the arbors of our hazelnut orchard or in the shop, the children are just starting to show interest about the farm and they want to be involved.  My sons pick up sticks on the orchard floor, drive the tractors, spot spray on four-wheelers and in the next hour I am running kids off to football practice.  They keep busy but they are learning that as a family, we are one unit and we have to learn to work hard together to keep the farm running, no matter what season we are in.

Our hazelnut farm needs continuous care depending on what season we are in but it takes a family to get through it all. My husband works along side his dad.  My mother-in-law and my self do the bookkeeping for our farm.  Believe it or not to run this farm we have about four different sets of bookkeeping.

I have struggle with this since we moved to the farm 12 years ago. I am not an accountant, bookkeeper, record-keeper, or someone who is good with numbers.  However, I have learned to adapt and find resources that will help me. My mother-in-law was a great help in the beginning but as our bookkeeping got more complicated I learned I needed even more help.  I took a few bookkeeping classes and spent a lot of time and money with our accountant.  I will continue to lean on this system for me because it works.  Why mess with a good thing when it’s working?

During harvest, about September through November life gets turned upside down.  I will be honest and say it is a struggle for myself and our children.  My husband works an easy 16-18 hours a day and if I don’t make him lunch and dinner, he wouldn’t eat.  He gets so focused on working that he won’t stop to eat.  He has an office that I stock up with food, snacks, and meals when I bring them to him. However, every year he easily drops about 15 pounds from the stress.

Harvest time is hard on our children.  They miss Dad so much. It is hard for some people to understand that dad is around for about eight months and the rest of the year they don’t really see him except for when they walk to the bus every morning.  For a few brief seconds, they get to see his smiling face and give him a big hug.  Sometimes he leaves them post-it notes on the mirror in the bathroom to surprise them just to let them know he is thinking of them.

For me, this time of year gets very lonely.  Some days I feel depressed and down.  But I know I need to keep my chin up because I don’t want my kids to see me struggle.  Everything this time of year in on my shoulders when it comes to running the house, paying the bills for the farm, and running the kids too and fro for all their school and social plans.  It gets to be overwhelming sometimes but I remind myself that this is not year-around and it is short lived. My personal life falls away during harvest time; I should learn to lean on it a little more but it is hard to juggle everything.

I have learned so much about myself, my family, and living on a farm.  I know that we have to keep things moving to making farming possible.  We have learned to adapt during certain times of the year and other times of the year we are able to lean on each as a family of four…and for a few short months it’s just me and my boys taking care of dad while he takes care of our year’s crop.  Through all of this, and the lifestyle we have, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

My morning in Nature…

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I needed to get outside early this morning. Take a drive. Feel the breeze on my skin and flow through my hair.  Soil under foot and let my mind go…

“Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.”

                                                                          -Dr. R. Anthony

MacDonald Forest

Angel by S. McLachlan

 

The trees change color around me

leaves fall and I feel that each

floats like a feather to the moist ground

gracefully carrying us to the new year

yellow, orange, and deep red

surround me in this foreign patch of

grass-tall fir trees tower above

they creak as the wind blows them

this and that way…

pacific northwest winds swoop in

the cool breeze brushes my bare arms

my grandfather’s military green sweater

oversized, itchy wool, a bit musty

wraps me in memories

barefoot I stand,

soil cold and wet

pine needles cover the path

McDonald Forest is my place

of solitude this morning

I look up to the sky

guarded by tree branches

eyes closed I can picture

beyond the pine needles

comforted by the silence

I walk for about an hour

and then back again

wind picking up and the chill

makes me quiver and shake

my worries swirl around me

stolen by the air

time comes to mind

I try to push it out

forcefully, I fail

the hustle and bustle not forgotten

I was unaware for hours

In the breeze, in nature

nothing seems to matter

where I can just be me

Why Not Farm??

If Everyone Could Be So Lucky!!  

I grew up in a small town and the town had the long standing support of a few very prominent families who worked in forestry.  Many friends of mine had direct connections to forestry through family members. My parents were teachers and although we were raised in the country, we had no direct connection to agriculture.  We had extended family that farmed but the most significant connection we had was a distant relative was the director of agriculture under FDR while he was president. I have been researching this since my dad told me and I find it very interesting.  I would love to go back to that time and sit with him and ask him questions!

I was not raised in a farm family.  I grew up in a family of educators.  My father was a music teacher and although he is retired now he still shares his gift to all of those around him.  My mom had a birthday recently and he wrote her a song!!  Yes, a song!!  Who of us out there wouldn’t want their spouses to write them a song but maybe some of us giggle at this idea because we know our spouses would be awful at it…and the idea of them singing would make our ears bleed!!

My mom has loved working in education for many years, she has dealt with so much; her job has pulled her from one building to the next in Lebanon. Her job slightly changing from building to building and she is a fire cracker when the “system” isn’t working as it should.

Over the years, I have realized my parents are passionate about the children they serve, want the best for children, and somehow manage to check everything at the door when they walk into a room with all those faces looking up at them.  My parents are the definition of amazing educators.

I was asked last week why I think living on a farm is so great??  I walked away from that thinking, how am I supposed to answer such a loaded question.  There are days I love it, like it, relish in the moments I have here but I will be honestly say some days I want to escape for 24 hours or so. Do something different- head to the city or to the mountains but it doesn’t last long until I want the beauty back of the farm and the arbor of the trees cascading out my front window.

I never had spent time at farm until I moved to the hazelnut farm 11 years ago.  I had a hard time adjusting at first, it felt so isolated and lonely.  Now, I find comfort in the quiet and being able to leave my windows open all the time, and blast music and no one can hear it fore miles. The sunsets are amazing!

Over the many years, I can’t imagine any one who wouldn’t want to live on a farm.  Now the isolation is comforting, I can take a deep breath any time I want, walk anywhere I want, who wouldn’t want private access to a few different rivers, endless miles of running and walking, yes, there are always chores to be done. However, living here family is always close, my children have endless amounts of things to do and acres to do it on, and enough shops to build anything their hearts desire.  Last week, my son build an air conditioner and resurrected a 30-year-old weed Wacker by rebuilding the carburetor…. you can ask me how and I all I can tell you is that he was in the shop for 7 hours, he walked out filthy, with the biggest smile on his face and it works now!!

The land we live on is important to our quality of life and to others.  If some fields near our fields are diseased it can travel through the wind and effect our crop also.  Farming is about timing, being patient and being stewards of the land and always helping out the farm families around us.  I have learned after all these years I now can drive down any road and recognize on any hazelnut orchard which are disease and which aren’t.  I can see who takes better care of the land and crop better than others.

I often find myself rambling answers about our farm, the crop, and acres we have to my sister (last week) and as I heard myself talking I started to laugh because I am sure she thought I was crazy.  She often tells me I know all these random facts about agriculture ad farming…she often asks me; how do you know that??  I shrug and continue to answer her questions.

About a year ago I resigned from the best job I have ever had, I learned, students learned and the people I worked with were amazing.  Most of them grew up on farms.  I will always be grateful to Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation and their board of directors and staff.  I was taught so much and was able to share it in a way that was so much a part of me and the way I was raised.  I love teaching and seeing children have that ahh ha moment!! I miss teaching Oregon students about agriculture in their communities and our state! It is detrimental for our students in Oregon to learn about the value of agriculture, what it means to take care of the land, and why students need to get involved now.

What was your inspiration for writing Grandpa’s Orchard??

For as long as I can remember I believed myself to be a writer.  It was, has been, and is what I am most passionate about.  I believe the power of one’s voice and think that everyone is capable of writing something great.  Everyone has a unique story to share with the world or simply a story to share with one other person.  However, there are very few people who would sit down and spill their guts out on to a piece of paper and feel like it is worth something.  I feel that everyone’s story holds merit and value even if its just for them; to hold on to.

 

When I was younger and people used to ask me what I wanted to be I would always answer a writer or an author.  I can’t think of a time that I ever answered anything else. Today, I can say I am a published author but I could also say that years ago when I published a poem about my Grandfather and in the last 12 years a magazine article about “my husband and being a dad”.  There were times since high school that I grew a part from my pen and notebook but I have always found my way back to what I am most passionate about.

 

I left my job of seven years last November and while focusing all my energy on my children and their education, I did start to get a few moments to myself and I found my pen and paper again.  I found my voice.  I also found my first Apple computer which I love dearly.  It holds all of my words, my secrets, my contradictions, my dreams.

 

I started writing everyday for hours at a time.  I changed my surroundings often and frequently changed perspectives in nature to gain a different focal point. There was a lot of journaling and free writing in the beginning, hours of sitting in my nook with the tiny fireplace I got for Christmas. It created a wonderful ambiance in my nook.  Everything that was and is me is inside this small space.

 

I would say that I frequently suffer from insomnia which if I get up and walk around, drink a glass of milk, or write a bit; I can generally get myself back to sleep within an hour or two.  However, this does not work all the time.

 

Since, I had started writing regularly my insomnia grew more frequent and I could not get back to sleep so waking up at midnight meant I would be up until morning and it was getting very annoying. This became a new standard in my life which I didn’t like because if you know me, you would know I need my sleep.

 

On a Monday night in January, I woke up and remembered my dream I had just had about my family on the farm.  I laid in bed for an hour tossing and turning and I ran through my dream over and over in my mind.  After about an hour, I got up turned the lights on low, I tore some sheets of paper out of a journal I kept and started writing.  I couldn’t get the words out fast enough.  I wrote sentence after sentence and could not slow down.  It was as if the words were spraying out the end of my pen like spray paint.  I can say it wasn’t my best writing or the neatest but it was the story of Grandpa’s Orchard. Yes, I did some editing and typed it all into a my computer the next day but it was my dream in its entirety. After four hours of writing, my hand ached and I became very tired, I feel asleep on the couch and when I woke in a few hours, I knew this was the story I was going to publish! Grandpa’s Orchard all started in a dream.