A christmas poinsettia is currently wilting in our windowsill. About this time every year I confront this same crossroads - to water the poinsettia or to throw it in the compost. I’m always over it by march of course - spring is in reach now and I ache for her so much that anything to do with winter becomes practically nauseating. Yet evenso, I feel sad taking a perfectly good plant and throwing it out. I accidentally kill plants often, sure, but to do it on purpose feels heartless somehow.

I have felt incredibly moody and for a good while I couldn’t pinpoint why, but as it turns out all I needed was a nap! Sleep!! Daylight savings really threw me for a loop this go-around when I woke up at 5:50 on Tuesday morning, which was only 4:50 a few days before that, and my body really struggled to catch up. I think I’m not fully caught up but I’m getting there, and when we see how light it is outside now at 7:00 at night I remember that there is a give and take to all things, and this give to the thrown-off-sleep take is really okay you know?

We lost another of our OG hens, which makes two total losses this winter. This one was my white leghorn named Lucy who was three years old and starting to slow down a bit. She was killed both tragically and heroically by what we thought was a giant hawk but have deemed was actually most likely a young golden eagle who has been spotted about our town recently, foraging through town because the snow was so thick in the mountains that he was desperate for meat. (He didn’t get meat, I’ll have you know, because I looked out the window too late to stop the killing, but in time to scare him away before he took her.) I know that this is a part of life with free-range chickens but it doesn’t make it any less sad. Lucy was always a spitfire of a chicken, never giving any effs at all! She wasn’t top in the pecking order but she wasn’t bottom either - I daresay she wasn’t even in the pecking order, she was in a world of her own! She was the hen who most loved my distant company, never wanting to be held but always nestling down beside my chair whenever I sat on the patio. She was strong and solid and brave and I loved her for it. I will miss her.

Some good news on the farm is that we had only been averaging one egg a day since the eldest hens went through henopause, but now our newest flock have been laying and it has been much more exciting than it should be! Perhaps, given the current price of eggs, precisely as exciting as it should be. We are thrilled to have our fresh free-range eggs piling up on the counters again, readily available for german pancakes and omelets and cake baking!

Listen, despite it being all I talk about here so far, I do have more in life going on than just chickens, although right now I can’t remember what…. Winter does this to me, I feel lost in a lonely world with emotions too big to hold inside of my body - but it’s the cold talking, it’s not real life. Spring equinox is next week, the snowstorms have turned to rainstorms and I see specks of grass showing. Soon we will be trading our snow boots for sandals and basketball shoes for baseball cleats, we’ll uncover the camper and dust her off for her first trip of the new year, we’ll start projects in the yard and spend mornings on the patio again…This winter was especially long! Do I say that every winter? Anyways, it feels true every year either way.

Recently we headed a few hours northwest to go snowmobiling in Yellowstone, something of a new yearly tradition that I like to call “sending winter off with a bang” - here are some pictures of that trip and a few more to boot! Life lately and all that! We are here, we are alive, we are trying our best and that is enough!

When things don't go as planned



It was the beginning of July in the year 2020 and the sun was at its peak point in the sky
while sweat dripped down my face, my neck, my chest. My elbow was throbbing from the
heaviness of the cement brush that I had been holding all morning. After researching
options and joking that it sounded like a bagel topping, we had decided on a
“german schmear” technique to change the old worn bricks of our newly purchased home
from red to gray. This is a repetitive process of dipping a masonry brush into wet mortar and
then meticulously stroking the heavy brush back and forth along the bricks.
Back and forth, dipping, repeating, again and again.

We had started early in the morning when the air was cool but then the thick of the summer heat found us and the sun was drying each brick faster than the last, making it difficult to keep up. I considered driving to ‘aloha snow’ for a pina colada snow cone and then adding vodka (to simultaneously cool down and numb the pain) but because the schmear technique is extremely time sensitive I knew that was wishful thinking, and I instead staggered backwards to cry beneath the shade of our gazebo where my tears stuck to the salty sweat matted on my skin. 

I fumed under my breath through sobs. All of my pain and all of my anger honed in on the half red half gray house in front of me, and in that moment that unpretentious sixties ranch house standing on one acre of unkempt land began to take all of the blame. The house that we had recently purchased for its potential to be our perfect oasis, the potential of which right then looked like staring out at a distant mirage in the desert. 

While directing all of my anger towards this house that wasn’t yet home, I instinctively looked down at my feet where normally my fur-baby Rockie would sit panting and smiling, ever at my side, always there to lift my mood with her perfect unlimited love. But instead all I had were weeds growing heartily between the uneven cement pavers that I stood on. Only days earlier, Rockie had died in my arms after being bitten by a rattlesnake on a family camp trip. It hadn’t even been seven days since we buried her in the mountains next to all of the other family dogs who had passed on before her, and after over a decade of my life spent with her I had completely forgotten what life was like without her always there by my side. I thought about how much my adventurous Rockie would have loved her freedom on this fully fenced land, but instead she was abruptly taken away from our world just weeks after we moved in.

My sobs grew louder while thoughts ran through my head such as, why did we buy this house? What massive mistake had we made? How will we ever turn this cold emptiness into something that feels warm and breathable?

Without bothering to wipe the tears from my face, or even to stop them, I mustered the strength to leave the shade and face the sun blazed brick again because this kind of visceral pain was not new to me and I already knew that moving forward was the only way. I already knew that I couldn’t move backwards because I wouldn’t survive there. 

So I went back to it. Dip the brush. Swipe back and forth. Feel the unbearable heat on my skin. Accept the pain. Repeat.

I couldn’t have predicted that the german schmear would turn out even better than we had envisioned it would, even despite an unexpected summer thunderstorm that rolled in suddenly the next day and pounded rain on some of the still-drying cement. I couldn’t have predicted just how much better it would look once the faded brick turned a fresh gray and we added board & batten shutters next to all of the windows. 

Honestly, I couldn’t have predicted any of it.

We would pull heaps of overgrown lilacs, trim piles upon piles of branches from overgrown trees, rose bushes, grape vines and weeds - oh the fields of waist high weeds! We would use a sledgehammer to demolish decaying wooden shelves that were rotting inside the old blackened half-burnt shed, and then we would fill that shed with pine chips and tractor tires and turn it into a fortress of a chicken coop that would be filled with happy chickens and spoiled rabbits - animals that would breathe some life back into this land.

Dan would hand-build a wooden sifter that looked more like a soccer goal to sift and filter massive mounds of dirt - turning up things hidden beneath it like rusty metal, potato factory belts, torn tire bits, ripped chunks of green shag carpet, beer cans and candy wrappers.

While we worked through it all that first Summer, we would find such random things that we began joking about the possibility of discovering a body in all of our digging. Sure enough, that Autumn we would indeed find a small tombstone deep in the dirt beneath some of those overgrown lilacs, the tombstone of a stillborn baby named Bert from 1905.

For weeks and weeks we would move wheelbarrows and trailers filled to the brim. We would bring in fresh manure and fence the garden beds where there would eventually grow things like corn, tomatoes, peas, lettuce, onions and radishes, and all of that cement we cleared of dirt mounds would eventually become our very own half court with a basketball hoop and space for the boys to drive their dirt bikes in circles. 

We would pour a solid cement patio the size of some people’s backyard and then add a hot tub nestled warmly beneath our string lit gazebo. I couldn’t have predicted how much peace I would find on that patio, how sacred a space it would become for me.

I couldn’t have predicted that one year would turn into three years and that by then, as I sit now, I would be enamored with this space. I couldn’t have predicted that this old house would speak to me through the creaks in the floors, that it would somehow breathe a spirit all of its own, that it would thank us and love us and carry us for how we brought it back to life again.

I think a lot lately about how, so often what we think we want isn’t what we need at all, and vice versa. I started very young thinking I knew what I wanted and discovering something different.

“I won’t be like them!” I once said, as everyone says in the unnerving innocence of youth.

I won’t become a wife while in my young and free twenties!

But then at twenty-four I met this man who made me laugh and whose familiarity rattled me and I immediately knew that I couldn’t live without him.

We won’t have kids right away though, we’ll travel and explore the world first!

But then I learned that no force, not even birth control, can stop fate, and less than a year after our wedding we were holding a pumpkin sized baby boy in our arms while discovering an otherworldly and life changing kind of love.

I won’t stay here, stuck in the town I grew up in!

But then, just as we were in the midst of potential job offers that would take us north to finally leave this town behind, we were hit with covid lockdown and potential layoffs in my husband’s line of business. So instead, we buy this unique property with an old house that needs a lot of love smack in the middle of my hometown. On a busy road right in the middle of the bustle, yet boasting a magnificent tree-filled one acre backyard that could be our dreamworld. A property that’s a little bit city, a little bit country. Just like me.

And now it reminds me of sunday dinners at grandma’s and the innocence of my youth. It reminds me of heavy eyes closing slowly beneath a sleeping bag on the couch, lulled to sleep by familiar chimes from her grandfather clock in the hallway. Of thumbing through a pile of newspapers as tall as myself in her hall closet, searching for the sunday comics or the weekend movie times. Of rusted squeaky swings in her backyard, picking fresh tomatoes off the vine, hunting for easter eggs, ‘the sound of music’ playing from her tube tv, purple petunias lining the front yard, always being able to depend on orange creamsicles in the freezer or poptarts in the pantry.

It reminds me of all the things a good childhood could be made up of. Comfort. Solace. Safety and life-sustaining love.

And then my kids ride their bikes to school every morning and walk to baseball games across the street for concession-stand cheeseburgers on summer nights. They take swimming lessons and play basketball games at the same high school I went to, with kids of parents I grew up with. We make a ritual of evening walks together beside the same river I built forts next to when I was only as tall as them. I watch from the kitchen window and soak in the sounds of their laughter while they play night games all evening and long past dark, using our treehouse as their home base.

And then driving to work in the mornings I listen to the very same country radio station I grew up listening to, with the very same DJ and his heartfelt anecdotes. And then I have a usual spot at my favorite sandwich shop, and the local friday night bartenders know my name, and when I drive main street or the backroads or the canyons into our mountains every turn and corner comes naturally, fluently, something I’ve always known and don’t have to think about doing anymore - like drinking from a glass or blowing on hot tea.

And then, the longer I stay here, the more I realize that I still see my little brother and my Dad everywhere I go. I see them where they once walked the halls of the school. I see them in the back booth of the same restaurants we sat and laughed at hundreds of times before - during ride-alongs in Dad’s police car, when James came home from Army boot camp, whenever someone in the family had a birthday to celebrate or we were all bored on a friday night. I see them at the summer fair, the marketplace, our old churchouse, the home not far from my house now where we all once lived. 

I see them every morning in the sounds of the black capped chickadees singing in my backyard, the same birdsong I woke up to for all of my own childhood.

And then we fall into this rhythm of life that is what my dreams are made of. We go to sunday dinners at grandma’s. I have thursday writing dates with my sister. We camp all summer long with family and I watch my kids make the kind of memories with their cousins that they will treasure for the rest of their lives. It’s all perfect because it’s all simple, comfort, safety and life-sustaining love.

And then I realize that home isn’t a place anyways, it’s people. It has always been. It always will be.

And then I know in my marrow that for better or worse this place is forever a part of me. It’s engraved in me now, just like the curve of my nose or the lines on my hands. Wherever I go later on, once my kids have flown this coop, nothing will ever compare to the love and memories and people and heartache and joy I had right here in my hometown.

And then, slowly and suddenly all at once, I don’t ever want to leave.

Fresh Start


Returning here has felt a lot like opening an old storage crate. I’ve been unboxing my old posts, wiping the dust from their words and bringing them back to life again.

It’s not that I haven’t been writing, it’s that I haven’t been posting. I needed to retreat for a while.The amount of events and the magnitude of life that has transpired during the past few years since I last posted here are so many that I have decided the easiest way to begin my return is to jump right in and pretend that I never stopped posting at all. Instead of playing catch up, for now, I will just start where we are. As it is…we just survived January! February is not much better than January, but it is shorter so I’m much more optimistic about it. Some things of note from late:

We lost our first chicken, Cafe. She was our oldest hen, a three year old fluffy rhode island red. Once she stopped laying eggs last autumn she began slowing down significantly. Every passing week she looked older and moved slower and because I saw it coming that way, I got to really spoil her for her last weeks of life. I gave her extra dried mealworms and took her on walks around the yard while cradling her in my arms and thanking her for being such a sweet hen friend, for spending her life with us, keeping the bugs away and gifting us her delicious protein packed eggs. She is the second farm animal that we’ve buried now where all the farm animals will go when it’s their time, beneath the elm trees in the backyard.

I started a Substack account for weekly newsletters and monthly audio recordings, if you’re interested in subscribing here is the link. And ooooh by the way! This is important! I have been writing a memoir! It’s my therapy: every week after I drop Beck at his weekly art class downtown, I sit at a back table in my favorite sandwich shop with a thick slice of buttered bread and a hot cup of tea and I write my heart out.

On a whim I cut my bangs. I did the very same thing this time last winter. It was a mistake, as it always is, but like clockwork I’ll probably do it again next year.

Last Fall my dreams of owning a hot tub came true, and now in the dead of winter I’m really reaping the rewards of it more than ever. It’s frosty and frigid (30 degrees below zero not long ago!) and the fact that I can still sit on the patio (my happy place) and breathe fresh air while staying warm beneath the steamy bubbles of the spa has been intensely healing. Not enough to rid me of any seasonal depression, mind you, but enough to lift my spirits a bit and I’ll take anything I can get in the upliftment department these days.

I’ve been drinking my coffee black most mornings, pouring honey to sweeten it only on the weekends. I feel fueled and rejuvenated in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time now, as though all of these years behind me are now pushing me forward with force.

I’ve been listening to Noah Kahan’s album ‘Stick Season’ on repeat.

My favorite shows right now are Shrinking, Friday Night Lights and The Path.

Currently I’m reading these books by Bill Bryson, Peter Jenkins and Esther & Jerry Hicks.

I’ve been doing these meditations and listening to these sleep affirmations for subliminal messaging while falling asleep most nights.

That's about all I have right now... I know that this is a short and sweet introduction back into the world of posting life updates, but I’m just so glad to be here and so very glad that you are here too. I hope you are well, wherever you are, whatever season you are in.

I will leave you with a few pictures from recent days, and I will see you again right here very soon! 


Changing Seasons


Dan the Gimp


Finding Myself Again

This and That


Some random things, in no particular order.

This Spring has been terribly long, longer than most it seems. It feels as though Summer should have been here five times over by now. I know that one day I will suddenly wake up to the heat having finally broken through the barriers of the cold, but when will that day be? Ten more years? Twenty?? And yet, the other day I was looking at the calendar to find today's date and was thoroughly shocked that it was already over half way through April. Wasn't it just March yesterday?! It is such a constant mystery to me, how time can go both incredibly slow and ridiculously fast all at the same time.

The other night we were out to dinner for date night, and as she was sitting us the hostess turned to me and very randomly stated, "You are so pretty." And I was sitting there with my unwashed hair tucked into my ponytail and my weary eyes lined with wrinkles, quite literally shocked to hear this from a stranger, so I said something really classy like "SHUT UP." But as I pondered this later, still sitting in my shock, I wondered many times if I must have heard her wrong, because I'm not at a stage in my life where strangers tell me I'm pretty. I'm a Mom, wearing the years on my forehead and in my eyes and, as of late, sometimes comfortably around my midsection. I don't feel pretty. I do feel strong, though, and proud and accomplished and optimistic. But don't get me wrong, it was nice to hear just the same.

Last week I took Rockie out for her first trail run of 2019, and how long the winter has been was most apparent on her. She lugged a large amount behind me the entire way, huffing and panting while the fat on her neck rolls bobble up and down. The entirety of the run I would call back to her every ten seconds or so, "Good girl! You can do this Rockie! We are so close! This is so good for us!" And I found myself wishing I had the kind of supporter on my trudging post winter runs as Rockie has in me.

We registered Beck for Kindergarten. Let me repeat that, because I imagine you think I made a mistake in my typing: We registered Beck for KINDERGARTEN. No really, it's true! He starts Kindergarten this Fall! I know, it's okay, I was in denial for a while myself. I made Dan take him to get his Kindergarten shots, because I hate watching my kids gets shots and also, it seemed fair as I was the one to take them both to all of their shots and this is the last one. So he did, and apparently Beck was just a champ who didn't shed a single tear, and only held his arm tightly and cringed while shouting "ONE TWO THREE FOUR FIVE" while they stuck him with a needle. Chocolate ice cream afterwards made up for it all.

I was listening to an interview with a Professor at Harvard who studies happiness, and it was enthralling to hear all of the science behind optimism and joy. In one long standing study, they were able to determine that by asking your child at the end of each day to name three things they are grateful for, you can change a child who is predisposed to pessimism to become an optimist. So naturally, I have been asking this to the boys each night. I noted it here solely for a selfish purpose, because in twenty years I'd like whoever is reading this to tell me how I fared. Are the boys optimists? Did it work?? If so, please remind them of when this started and how they have their Mother to thank for it all.

Camping season kicks off with a camp trip next weekend! We will hide easter eggs throughout the dirt in the mountains for all of the kids while we are there. We have every single weekend in June and July booked with camping trips, a different location each time. YIKES how did that happen? We may have been slightly overanxious during the longest approach to Spring (as I mentioned earlier) and booked up all of our weekends in anticipation for the warm weather, oops! But as it is, I think it will be fine. Hectic, perhaps, but doing the thing we love most and so, worth it. Probably, I'll let you know.