Friday, August 31, 2007

Early dispatch from the farm

So, later today I'm off to the farm, where as far I can tell, we intend to eat a lot of good food and work to keep things alive.

I called T who, along with J, is already at the farm. The 7-acre sustainable farm. Morning chores had just been completed. I needed to check on what supplies to bring in from the grocery store, and to check on the kinds of cooking appliances we had available to us. The conversation became rather surreal right after I asked if there was an outdoor grill, and T went outside to look:

[Door opens and (I'm not making this up) a chicken clucks]
T: Well, there's not one in the back yard.
L: [laughing]
T: What? Can you hear the chicken?
L: Yes. You're on the FARM!
T: I know. Okay, no grill in the front yard. Let me look in the garage.
[Meow, meow]
T: Hi, barn kitty.
[Cluck, cluck, cluck]
T: Lawn mower, trash can, dog food. No grill.
L: Okay, well, we can fix the steaks indoors, but I was planning to cook corn on the cob in the husk on the grill. But, I can...oh, wait! They don't have a microwave do they?
T: NO! They're not going to put those microwaves through their healthy food!

So it goes.... Lessons in healthy, sustainable living for four city girls await!

I leave you, surrendering my need for the conveniences of the modern environmentally-unfriendly kitchen, for the comforts of chickens clucking, goats bleating, and cats meowing.

See you Monday!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


This time last year? A couple of trips up the stairs to my new apartment left me winded.

Today? I ran five miles!!!!!

This time last year? I moved to a new city, hoping to start a new life. I knew no one.

This weekend? I'm spending the weekend with several close friends.

I knew it would be good here, but I had no idea how good!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday random thoughts of clearing cobwebs from the Brick Wall

The blog appears to be all but forgotten. I fear it will continue to suffer neglect, but I'm not really sorry about that. Even if I was, I wouldn't apologize. I've apologized at least two too many times in the last 24 hours. And I'm not sorry about that either.

It's BUSY around these parts, but I feel the need to point out that the end of the week marks the first anniversary of my move to this fair city. Do I need to remind you that I love it here? I didn't think so.

I ended my 3-mile run (well, there was a break in the middle of it) hardly winded today. The key? Eating more calories and protein. I've been starving myself, I guess. Not intentionally, mind you. I just hadn't adjusted for the increased activity. Feels pretty good to be running strong again!

On Friday, L. and I will join two friends on a 7-acre sustainable farm for a few days of attempting to keep things going while the owners of the farm have a much needed vacation together. Yes, you read that right. The owners are leaving town. In their absence, we will feed goats and chickens, milk goats, check tomatoes in the garden and eat the ripe ones (well, I won't, but the others might. Eat them, that is. I don't like raw tomatoes. But I'm not sorry about that either.) T and J have been thoroughly trained in the chores. L. and I will learn when we get there. Clearly, there will be stories to tell. Stay tuned.

For the small role I play in a required class here, I have been named "adjunct faculty." That means I get to process with the faculty at convocation tomorrow. Wearing full academic regalia. Since I don't have even partial academic regalia, I tried on a robe that a retired minister donated to the seminary today. When I put it on and stuck my hands in the pockets, I pulled out an old handkerchief, wadded tissue, and an assortment of throat lozenges. I think the President and Dean were as grossed out by it as I was. For this grand occasion, I will pose as a Disciples of Christ minister, wearing a master's hood from my PhD school, which fortunately has the same colors as my master's school, as every school I've ever attended has the same colors (purple and white!). I really need to finish that PhD so I can have a good excuse to get my own duds. Or be ordained. Or both. Did I say that?

I'm taking a week of vacation starting a week from Wednesday. I'm planning to head off to a lake cabin (owned by L.'s family) and work on my dissertation to see if I can actually expect to be able to write before I petition to be re-admitted. How luxurious does it sound to be headed off to a cabin to write? Have I mentioned that I love it here? I thought so.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What happened to summer?

If my phone records are any indication, I'd guess about a third of my summer was spent on the phone. I'm not complaining, just looking for a decent explanation for why I'm staring at the downward slope of August, will be at new student orientation all day tomorrow, and have the first day of the class I help with on Tuesday when it feels like summer only began a few weeks ago.

Truth is, time management became a bit of an issue for me this summer. I got really busy at work. I started spending a significant portion of my evenings on the phone. Many weekends were spent getting to know L. There's a certain amount of energy that I derived from all of that, but at 42, there's only so much staying up 'til midnight and getting up at 5:00 I can take!

The first sign that things were out of control was the decision to hit the snooze button when the alarm went off and grab 30 more minutes of sleep. The only problem with that is that meant ditching my morning ritual of coffee and journaling before I run. It worked okay for a few weeks, but it finally caught up to me week before last and I started noticing a familiar weepiness and edginess and general narrowing of my vision to the point of feeling disconnected and powerless.

L. and I acknowledged our need to negotiate an ending time for our much-beloved evening conversations, and doing so has helped considerably. I've gotten back on track with getting up on time and journaling again. The difference it makes is undeniable.

The lesson in all of this for me is that if hitting snooze to get 30 more minutes of sleep means I miss journaling, it's not worth the extra sleep, no matter how tired I am.

I'm still troubled by how quickly the summer passed though!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Two days and a fox

We walked out the front door of my apartment building. The sky had not yet opened itself to the morning light. The darkness hung over us, our way lighted by the soft orange light of the street lamps in the park across the street. With ice chest and an assortment of bags in our hands, we made our way down the driveway toward her car. I looked up at the river bank and noticed the familiar orange triangular shape of a fox's head and quietly stopped. She took two more steps and stopped, looking back at me for an explanation. I pointed to the fox and whispered, "Look. The fox is on the river bank. It's the first time I've seen her this far up the path. I think she came to say hi to you."

We watched for awhile and walked on to the car. With her things loaded and the car door open, I reached for a hug and we embraced for a long time before she got in the car to leave. I stood in the street watching as she turned her car around and headed out. A knot formed in my stomach when she drove away.

Two days. We'd had two whole days together, and she stepped in with such ease and comfort that it felt like she'd always been there. They were days filled with grocery shopping and movies, a walk in the park and breakfast out. She sat at the breakfast bar Sunday afternoon and watched me while I prepared dinner for some friends who joined us Sunday evening. Laughter and conversation and comfortable silence filled the house all weekend. I can think of a thousand ways we could have spent the weekend and it would have been as good, but I can't think of anyway we could have made it better. She agrees. It was full of those things that infuse life with joy. We both felt it.

And I've been wondering all week why the fox came to see us. She seems to come at moments of significance. Her presence has been so frequent and common this spring and summer that I shouldn't be surprised, but seeing her on Monday morning felt magical. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think she showed herself to us for a reason, but it is not for me to impose the meaning I desire, though that temptation is strong. What does it mean when the animal of the "between times and places" comes as we part ways for yet another week, holding each other one more time, trying to make it last until we're together again the next weekend?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Facing the truth

This weekend I was able to face a truth from my past that has long been hard to accept. I've come close in the past, but have never been able to actually admit it until now. With L.'s loving companionship I was finally able to do it on Saturday.

We were looking through some pictures from my childhood and college years when she noticed the unfortunate truth. I denied it at first, but after awhile I had to admit it was true, and for the first time these words came out of my mouth:

I once had a mullet.

You have no idea how hard it was to say that. The conversation went something like this:

L.: (looking at pictures from college graduation; it was 1986) Oh. My. God! That's a mullet!
Linda: It is not!
L.: Yes it is. Look! You had a mullet. It's long in the back and short on the sides and front.
Linda: It isn't a mullet. It's sort-of-a-mullet, but not a mullet.
L.: It's a mullet.
Linda: It's not long enough in the back to be a mullet.
L.: It's nearly to your shoulders. Admit it. You had a mullet. There are worse things in life.
[long pause while I stare at the picture]
Linda: Okay, if I say I had a mullet will you think less of me?
L.: I already know you had a mullet.
Linda: Okay, I once had a mullet. I was young and stupid. It was the '80s. I've learned from my mistakes.
L.: Now, don't you feel better?

In my defense, though, as mullets go, it really was just sort-of-a-mullet.

At least I never wore long tube socks pulled up to my knees with shorts. Much.

Picture added for you to vote: Mullet? Too close to call? Not a mullet?

This was the picture in question. It's from a newspaper article (me? newsworthy? I know it's shocking.), so the scan quality isn't so good. Nevertheless, I'm confident you'll agree with me. This is not a mullet!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


It's 8:30 p.m. The sun is down.

It's still 100 degrees outside. Ugh!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Seen on a truck at a local eatery

The following phrase was seen spray-painted on the back of a truck at a local Mexican restaurant:

Thudbutt Doobies

It's raised a lot of curiosity around here. Any guesses what it means?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cereal night

I have a group of friends who have gathered for dinner on Wednesday nights during the summer. We've rotated homes and have feasted and visited and held each other's children every week for the past two and a half months. Conversations have led to some of the group helping one family put in a new patio at their home. One dinner was a meal out, purchased by a member who won $10,000 in a radio contest. We've had hamburgers grilled out, eaten hot dogs and brats, savored smoked salmon, eaten in restaurants, listened to good music. Each week is different. Always, we have a good time and enjoy each other's company.

Last night, however, must go down as the most unique plan we've had thus far.

We each brought a box of our favorite childhood cereal. Boxes of Apple Jacks, Cookie Crisp, Fruity Pebbles, Honeycomb, Cap'n Crunch, Lucky Charms, and Life filled the table. Mimosas were made for the "adults" in the group to enjoy before dinner, and a stack of styrofoam bowls was placed in the middle of the table. Each person looked over the choices and made her/his first selection. Each had his/her own strategy for sampling. Most of us ate some of each kind.

The only one with any sense, 4-year old Jade, slipped a box of Kashi Heart-to-Heart on the table about half-way through the sugar-fest.

The conversation around the house was lively, peppered with laughter and stories. The tastes brought back memories. Chad sat on a chair in the living room, eyes closed, a slight hint of a smile on his face. He started waving his hand over a brightly colored bowl of Fruity Pebbles, transferring his carefully crafted wine-tasting skills to the evening's event. The bouquet of fruitiness instantly took him back to a year in his childhood. "It's 1983," he said. "I'm sitting at the table in the kitchen, the sun barely up. Oh, this is so good."

"How old were you in 1983," I asked. Mike and Emily waited with me for his answer.


The year was a special one for me. "That's the year I graduated high school."

Mike chuckled and announced as he rolled his eyes, "I graduated from college that year!"

Emily, who was sitting on the floor holding baby Roman in her arms, a bowl of Cookie Crisp resting next to her, smiled shyly as she shared, "I wasn't even born then," and her contribution was met with groans.

I love this group of people. We met when we went through the new members class at church together back in January. I still don't understand what brought the group of us together. There were others in the class. They were included in our earliest plans to meet regularly, but many of them never responded. Others joined us at first, but eventually dropped out. We range in age from 21 or 22 to post-retirement age. But, Chad said it best after Emily's comment last night, "This group is ageless. I love that."

He's right. For such a wide range in ages, we share a lot in common. Most importantly, I think, is our common desire for community, to have friends we can count on, people who will love the children, who help put in a patio, who show up for opening night at a member's art show. We are friends who offer to "take out" the other candidate in a job search. We are people who will pray for a baby who has a seizure and stay glued to the computer waiting for a report from the EEG the day he went to the doctor, nervously checking in with each other as if he was our own flesh and blood, hoping, praying that his anxous parents would find peace and comfort in our concern.

And we are a people who can playfully return to our childhood, sampling the sugary sweetness of styrofoam-like marshmallows and the waxy/oily aftertaste of chemically-induced fruitiness. We are a people who can wonder together why Apple Jacks don't really tast like apples, who enjoy the mouth-tearing crunchiness of Cap'n Crunch, a people who celebrate the brillance of chocolate chip cookies in milk for breakfast.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Some good friends from PhD city moved to my current town this summer. It's great having them here. Tonight there was a knock on my door. I'm not used to that, so it took me awhile to get to the door. I was on the phone and had to get off, and then I had to make myself presentable. I missed them at the door but looked out the window and noticed it was good friend, D., and his son, B., so I went downstairs to let them in. They were on a bike ride in the park across the street and B. got thirsty, so they stopped at my place to get a drink. When they left, B. asked D. if the two of them could sleep at my apartment sometime. :-)

You know, it's a really simple thing, but a place really starts to feel like home when people know where you live and just drop by.

But I'm going to have to learn to wear more than a tank top and underwear around the house if I want to get to the door in time. ;-)

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Hello, blogworld. My name is Linda. I usually blog in this space, occasionally even writing something of depth. I realize you wouldn't know that from looking at the last several weeks of posts. It seemed important to remind you. :)

Today was one of those days where I had a deep sense of the fullness and beauty of life. Though the weekend was marked by the obvious absence of someone who has become very important to me (I have no idea what to call her, other than by her name, which honestly seems just fine to me). L. has been off reuniting with her college pals for the weekend. Judging from the time of the text messages I've gotten this weekend, I'd say she's had a great time. I'll get the whole scoop later tonight. I have plenty to fill her in on myself.

Yesterday, I ran the farthest I've run so far: 3.25 miles over a 4-mile course. Distances have improved steadily this week, after a near meltdown early in the week because I wasn't where I thought I should be. I got my expectations in check and thought back to advice given me by coaches in the past. The bottom line: I have to pay close attention to what my body is saying and not push through on sheer will. Some people can do that. I can't, but when I work with my body, I do fine, better than I expect most of the time. The end goal in all of this is a half-marathon in December. Right now, it seems daunting, but I keep reminding myself that the months ahead will grow cooler, and as they do, I'll improve. The heat and I don't get along especially well.

After my morning run, I went hiking for an hour and a half with a friend. When I got home, I ate a big breakfast and collapsed in bed. I spent the afternoon with friends, came home around 6:30 and managed to stay awake long enough to get some laundry done, but not much else. It was that good kind of tired, physically worn out from working. I slept really well and woke up refreshed this morning.

This morning was filled with great food, good friends, and a wonderful church service. I feel full, satisfied with all that makes my life so good here. I missed all of this so much during July. It's good to be getting back in to the old routine again.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Running partner

Lately when my friend and I run in the mornings, a fox runs alongside us, guarding the den from my friend's dog. The dog is really not much of a threat, but the fox doesn't know that. She runs in a wavy pattern through the park alongside us, getting sometimes within two or three feet of us. As she runs, she barks at us. When we reach the end of her territory, she stops and watches to be sure we keep going the other direction.

J., the official wildlife photographer, got some pictures of the fox in the park. She posted one here. Isn't she cute?

ETA: Here's a picture of some of the wildlife in my own house. PPB asked for an occasional picture of her namesake, PPBob. Here she is trying to interrupt my morning routine...