Getting here

Our “Missouri Trail” adventure took us across eight states, three time zones, and into the homes of four friends.  To my delight, we followed much of the original Oregon Trail route, through the Columbia Gorge, across Goodale’s Cutoff, and along the Platte River.  The trip was fun, exhilarating, boring, desolate, terrifying, and wonderful.  Here are a few highlights:

One of the many potty breaks along the side of the road, with our modern covered wagon.

Lava beds, in Idaho.

The remote Centennial Valley in southwestern Montana, close to the headwaters of the Missouri River!

Yellowstone National Park.  This was one of the scenic highlights of the trip for me, and I cannot wait to go back some day and explore the backcountry!

Old Faithful!

Driving through a herd of bison in Yellowstone.  Bison and bison poop might have been the biggest hits for the kids.

At Firehole Falls. Happy to be out of the car!  I regret to say that I did not take a single photo of anything east of Yellowstone. It was SO windy.  Windy to the point of tipping over semi trucks on the interstate!

And then onward through Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, an itty bitty bit of Iowa, and into Missouri we went, where we are unpacking and settling in!

Guest Post: Good Girls Don’t Have Cobwebs

Hello!  We have arrived in Northeast Missouri (or NEMO).  We’re busy settling into our house-sitting home, checking on the progress of the shop that is being built on our land (almost done, but our Amish builder’s wife had a baby yesterday…), and making lists of all of the things that need to be done (getting firewood, having a pond dug, rescuing my transplanted perennials from the moving truck, cancelling our internet in Oregon, etc.).

And while I am itching to share the photos and stories of our cross-country adventure, I did a very silly thing, and packed our camera cord in the “electronics and camera stuff” box. Which means it is somewhere in Iowa, awaiting a Tuesday delivery.

However, today I have a very exciting treat – a guest post!  My good friend Sarah offered to share her debut post from her new blog Good Girl.  If you’ve ever questioned the “SHOULDS” of your life, then you’ll love Sarah’s exploration of what life can be like when a Good Girl says no to should, and yes to joy and authenticity.  That this particular post is about our friendship, my Oregon home, and our last meeting moves me to tears with its sweetness and candor.  Thank you, Sarah.

And so I present:  Good Girls Don’t Have Cobwebs, by Sarah of Good Girl

            Good writers can paint a picture with their words.  I can only wish my skills are up to the task.  The picture of Echo Hollow, the homestead of my dear friend Teri, was alive with all the beauty of LIFE.  A huge trailer parked in the driveway, kids running about in the autumn sunshine, a half-naked baby snoozing in a jogging stroller, adults bustling about in the business of packing up this lovely homestead for a big journey and me arriving with some home-cooking to sustain the troops.  It was my last visit to Echo Hollow.  Teri and her family are leaving in two days on the reverse Oregon Trail, as she calls it.  They are off to begin a new life and build a new homestead in Missouri.

I walked into Teri’s kitchen to find her on the floor, wrapping dishes and packing them in an old vintage suitcase.  My visit was short but I offered to help do some packing while I was there.  Teri went in search of her hubby to get my packing orders and left me alone in her kitchen.  And that’s when I noticed them.  The cobwebs.  Massive cobwebs.   Up in the ceiling, in the windows, along the beams.  And you know what I thought?  They looked just like they belonged there.  They were a part of the décor of this rustic, homey little cabin.  And it was beautiful.  Seriously, beautiful.  I peeked out a side door that I had not seen opened before.  Down a few steps from the living room was an outdoor enclosed area that included their washing machine, but no dryer, and a shower.  I’m pretty sure they both bathe and shower in the great outdoors.  And again, I was struck by the beauty of this place.  There was a creek babbling by outside.  Sunlight streamed in all the windows.  Flies buzzed around the kitchen.  Just like all my other visits to Echo Hollow, I was in awe and a little bit in love.  All my Good Girl training goes out the window, and I just marvel in the realness, the beauty and the stark difference between what I think a home SHOULD look like and what this home really feels like.

Teri rejoined me and we spent our last half hour together packing and chatting.  Friends, neighbors, and her husband were in and out, getting kids lunches and consulting on packing jobs.  Before I left, we stood in the road out in front of their house, watching the big kids run in the garden.  As I pulled out of the driveway, Teri waved good-bye as she pulled her littlest (the naked baby) up the driveway in a big farm cart.

I drove my mini-van down the one lane country road that leads out of Echo Hollow and back to the main road and the tears just bubbled up.  I cried.  The thirty minute journey from Echo Hollow back to my reality was filled with all sorts of things Good Girls don’t usually do.  Let’s start with the tears.  Good girls don’t cry and especially not if the OTHER person wasn’t crying!  Well, let me clarify.  Good girls always cry one or two polite tears if in the company of others who are crying.  But “the ugly cry” as my mother-in-law calls it is NEVER shared with others, and for this particular Good Girl, it’s something I rarely permit myself to do.  But as of late (hence the creation of this blog), the REAL me is winning out over the Good Girl more and more.  And I wanted to cry.  So I did.  My mind searched for why I felt so sad.  I’m sad to have a friend move away.  I’m sad for what could have been.  Teri is so many things that I hope to be (beekeeper, garden grower, knitter, chicken steward) and while I know we will have technology on our side to keep us connected, nothing will be the same as being at her homestead in person.  And she won’t be here to visit my garden and give me the scoop.  “You better get that bindweed under control before it sets in.”  I’m sad to lose a kindred spirit.  Teri and I have always been able to share the deep stuff, even from our very first meeting.  And then regret set in.  Why didn’t we spend more time together?  I really wish we had.  Truly, deeply, I wished I had made more of an effort to be together.  We talked about me and my kiddos visiting their homestead.  We did that just once. We talked about making soup together while children played, but we never did it.  Now, that ship has sailed.

By the time I reached my homestead, I knew what was making me so sad.  The choice, albeit unconscious, I make most days when I choose rules over people, control over connection, schedules over friends, doing what I SHOULD over what I want, pain over pleasure.  I’m missing out!  Daily!  I pulled in the driveway ready to connect with my children and embrace the beautiful afternoon we had before us.  The irony of my life is that I CAN do this.  I’m a stay at home mother to two children who I’m homeschooling.  The world is our oyster and yet, often, I get all three of us bogged down with rules, schedules and shoulds.  Instead of embracing the ART of mothering and FLOW of life.   I’m realizing how many times I say NO to MY LIFE (the life that rises up to greet me each day) and YES to a whole bunch of rules.

So, I packed the girls in the van.  We headed to a local farm.  We had ice cream (at 4:30- GASP-good girls NEVER feed their children ice cream right before dinner!), visited some animals, walked through the fields of flowers and corn stalks.  All the annoyances I had been feeling in the past few days at Big C and Little C melted away.  Instead, we laughed, played and ate.  When Big C was afraid of the donkey (behind a fence) I didn’t explain to her how irrational she was being.  I played blocker with my body to clear a “donkey-free” path for her.  When they stood at the entrance of the hay maze wanting to go down the tunnel but balking for what seemed like forever (but was only minutes) and backing down anytime another kid came through, I did not sigh and stalk off.  I just stayed there, in the moment, letting my little cautious souls ponder the scene.  When they both started whining when we got in the car, I did not lecture them on how good they have it.  I just made a funny face and we all laughed.

So thank you, dear friend.  A visit to your world today was a gift to me and my family.  I saw the beauty of some cobwebs in a rich family life and home.  This good girl is no longer just trying to get rid of the cobwebs.  I hope that today’s good-bye isn’t really a good-bye.  In fact, I know that it isn’t.

Embracing the Unknown

In our grand division of homestead labor, goat care has fallen squarely on the shoulders of my husband in the past year or two.  I still spend time with the goats, and really look forward to the day when I can resume my share of their care, but for now I’m focusing my energy on other homestead chores.  So it took me by surprise to help put the goats away last night and look over to see Sable’s stall empty.   Even though we had all gone as a family to bring Sable to her new home (a lovely homestead where two of her half-sisters already live), somehow the sight of the empty stall was so viscerally real and final.

These weeks are full of goodbyes – teary goodbyes to friends that we won’t see again, transporting goats to new homes, bringing our cat to live with a friend (who was the cat’s original owner 10 years ago), packing items in boxes knowing that we won’t open them for months or years, and tossing books and clothes that we don’t want to move across country.   Saying goodbye to the comfortable and familiar, to the routine and habitual, to this beautiful and wonderful land and home.

Entering into the space of possibility, potential and the discomfort of the unknown is downright scary!  I have been having a really hard time with this transition, imagining all sorts of 11th hour strategies to remain here in our little home.  Yet although my heart really truly wants to stay, my gut somehow knows this is not the answer.

To arrive at the decision to move to Missouri (a two year-long, fairly agonizing process), our family has visited the MO land three times.  We have had countless conversations with friends, consulted the I-Ching, met twice with a tarot reader, and made endless lists and flow charts (yes – flowcharts!!).  Ultimately, the decision has rested on a vision of what we want to create in our lives.  Some of the guiding principles include:

  •  We want to lovingly and mindfully create a homestead that will nurture our family with food, shelter, and beauty.
  • In order to fully invest in our homestead, we choose to be HOME, and not working full-time at off-site jobs.
  • We purchased a piece of land outright, so we have no debt, and we will build small, beautiful, and functional living spaces as funds become available.
  • We wish to be surrounded by a community that shares our values and will support us in our vision.
  • We want to live within walking distance of other families and friends with whom we can share the joys and challenges of raising children.

What has been so difficult in this process is that we already have so many of these gifts here in Oregon.  We are blessed with wonderful friends and neighbors in a truly beautiful community.

I don’t know if we’re making the right decision.  The only way we’ll truly know is to go to Missouri and give it a try.  What I do know is that we are going to get the opportunity to challenge ourselves in ways that I never imagined.  As my sweet friend told me the other day, “the journey is the prize.”

So friends, I am going to sign off this blog for the next two or three weeks while I concentrate on packing, moving, and settling into our new (temporary) home.  I will continue to post updates on my Facebook page and I anticipate returning to this space in mid-October.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I look forward to connecting in the near future!