Christmas with the Østvolds!

for those of you who don't know my husband, he is very proud of his norwegian heritage. i guess even that is a bit of an understatement for a lutheran farm boy from minnesota who is named after his great-grandfather gisle ferguson. so, this year, we are going to put the Øst back in vold and have ourselves a good 'ol fashioned Norwegian christmas eve.

thanks to our friends anne, leighton and lilly we will be spending the evening in good company with lots of norwegian food and drink. the house has been thoroughly cleaned, the tree has been trimmed, and the cookies have been made. i will be making my first pork roast for the occasion....wish me luck. seven kinds of cookies are eaten, and seven songs are sung as you circle and dance around the christmas tree. i am looking forward to inserting a little german too, as i hide the christmas pickle on the tree after everyone has gone to sleep...

to dream of a new season, and a new reason to give thanks.



a spell

every mama knows that the infants we nurture, and feed, and carry, and caress, and hold, and feed again at our breast, will ultimately form those same bonds with their papas. it is a more gradual kind of loving that comes not from necessity, but arises out of respect. the intimacy between mothers and babes begins to soften, to lose its tight hold that binds mother to child. survival gives way to sophistication. it comes from within both father and child, as they learn to know each other in the same and different ways a mother knows. it can happen so subtley, perhaps over legos. immersed in their own separate building projects when he says so sweetly, "dada, you're my best friend."

"you're my best friend too" i hear him reply. and he whispers it again, under his breath this time, as if trying to believe that this is for real.


a student of death

Is life the incurable disease?

The infant is born howling
and we laugh,
the dead man smiles
and we cry,
resisting the passage,
always resisting the passage,
that turns life
into eternity.

Blake sang alleluluias
on his deathbed.
My own grandmother,
hardly a poet at all,
as we'd never seen her smile
Perhaps the dress of flesh
is no more than a familiar garment
that grows looser as one diets
on death
and perhaps we discard it
or give it to the poor in spirit,
who have not learned yet
what blessing it is
to go naked.

Erica Jong


missing my long-haired baby boy...

exactly one year ago today...

but it's good to know that some things never change.
like our mornings together in the sun drinking "papaccinos."


oh, i'm sorry

i haven't told many people about this because one of the first people i told stated sadly, "oh, i'm sorry," while others simply pretended they didn't hear what i said or ignored the comment all together. but i'm leaving on a 3 day retreat tomorrow. "Living with Dying."

don't be sorry. rejoice. for i get to spend 3 full days immersed in quiet mediation, spiritual renewal and awakening. and most of all-- silence.

you better believe i am brining my down comforter to the Monastery though.


no guts, no glory

as i watched avery scoop the gooey insides of our pumpkin onto the newspaper on the kitchen floor, i got to thinking about -- well -- guts.

and i got to thinking about motherhood. such a profound and intense experience, that you can only really believe it once you've lived it. before avery, i used to think that mothers were "soft." that mothers were giving up their lives for their children's lives. that women had to sacrifice themselves for their family. that women who decided to "procreate" had no guts.

then, i had a baby.

the saying goes, "no guts, no glory" and that pretty much sums up motherhood. it's dirty, and painful, and gooey, and hard, and scary. it's scary to love another individual that much. but it's also joyful, and life-enriching, and delicious, and silly, and simple. but mostly it's so, so very--gutsy.

lately i've been surrounded by so many "gutsy" women that i find it hard to believe that mothers still do not run the world.

how else can you explain the trust that something the size of a pumpkin has to come out of you...Guts!

how else can you explain the love of a mother praying in the waiting room for her son to come out of surgery...Guts!

how else can you explain a mother waiting anxiously to adopt her daughter from a war-torn country...Guts!

how else can you explain the patience of a mother as her blind daughter meticulously feels every pumpkin in the heap to find the perfect one...Guts!

i know these women.
and trust me they have more guts than a 300 pound pumpkin!!!



sometimes it's hard to remember that this is the season of abundance. the opposite of what the native americans call the "hungry months" of winter. it's hard to remember to give thanks for the harvest when you notice how shadows have grown long and the light is changing.

for me, it's hard to reconcile autumn. a time of abundance, but also emptiness. my cupboards and my belly may be full but autumn is always a painful reminder that it is my soul that needs to be fed.


four to six weeks

when the garden calls you must stop what you're doing and make pickles. the cukes were ready on friday. which meant all weekend plans had to be abandoned. i set to work saturday morning with the dew and the goldfinches. my mind was free to wander onto prettier things. i picked and picked. my head getting more and more clear with each snap of the stem. i haven't posted much lately about things i'm doing like gardening and growing up a fine young boy. i guess i'm just craving the realness of it. the dirty work of gardening and parenting and helping people die. i could tell you that i am so glad to drive that gravel road each day. it shakes my thoughts loose. i could tell you my baby nursed for the last time a month ago and i burned all my nursing bras. i could tell you that i am trying to cut back on wine and coffee, or that my biggest project this summer are the roads avery and i built in the "back 40". i could tell you that the people i build relationships with keep dying, or that i am still searching for the sacred. i could say a whole lot. but as paige has said more times than i can count, "i don't know where to begin. things are changing, i'm changing." and i am. and you are, we all are. we're all changing...

and the messages from the garden come as they always do. as a reminder to me to pay attention. as i neared the end of the row, i found a "mother cuke" with a small "baby cuke" attached to it at the stem. i was pleased that avery was occupied by the raspberries but i went to show him anyway. he instantly broke the baby away from the mama. and there it is. my babe and i are entering a new phase. and who knows where we'll be in four to six weeks when those pickles are ready.


what were you doing?

i guess it's anne's fault i'm reminiscing today. what was i doing 1 year ago today? i have no idea. nothing memorable. not like getting ready for my wedding or anything. but i DO remember what i was doing 3 years ago today....ahhhhhhhh thailand.

remember anne? we swam out to the beach Leonardo DiCaprio made famous. it's a scary movie we just happened to watch during a thunderstorm on phi phi island and realized we had stayed at the same hotel in the movie. and it was just as scary as it looked. rats climbing in the rafters, standing toilets. disgusting beds. ahhhhhhhhh thailand.

i can't believe this day actually existed for me. look at the water. and that tan (i'm the one NEXT to anne).

what were you doing June 25th?


hostile takeover of my backyard

since i have already expounded on the evils of corporate seed mongers like Monsanto i'll spare you this time.

but, if i want to enjoy morels out of my backyard, or vegetables of any kind OTHER than genetically modified ones i may not have much longer....there is a bill about to be passed that may change this forever. if you love growing vegetables, farmer's markets, or local, organic food....

Please! Please! Please sign this petition! and tell congress to



morels and macro mode

in my last post i eluded to the fact that my camera was on the "fritz." actually, it doesn't focus. unless of course it's in macro mode. i have to get very, very close to whatever i want to shoot. i thought this was a perfect metaphor for what i most need in my life at present. to slow down. to notice things. small things. details.

having a small person so low to the ground is great for finding such details. a robin's egg fallen from her nest (i tried to put it back, but it was cracked and i think she kicked it out). the inside of an orchid flower. foresythia branches in a vase. it helps me and my big-picture brain. it seems i'm somewhat freakish in my ability to create an entire lifetime in a few short minutes. all the while avery is tirelessly trying to focus my attention. on the details.

just the other day, during a break from planting at the farm we were out having lunch in roseann's woods. while the adults talked about the politics of food, and the global crisis of industrial farming, moving to sustainability (blah, blah, blah) avery walks over to me innocently with a a morel mushroom in his hand.

"what i found mama" he exclaimed. we all cheered for joy! a morel! right under our feet. he led me right to where he found it, by a log with at least a dozen other morels, just waiting for some one who is awake to see them.

we can't see the morels for the trees people.

and i have so much to learn my friends.


like a cloud

i am so excited about our new sofa. avery loves it too! he is two now and one sofa was not enough for this guy. seriously trucks and trailers and tractors are outnumbering the furniture. so, now we have two. there is a hilarious story about this sofa. i'll tell you some other time. but i'm too busy rearranging my living room. i love adding new things with great stories to our home. i think everything should have a story. like the bra plant. (that's another post entirely). anyway, i'm sure many of you can appreciate my excitement over this sofa. and if not, well then you obviously don't get me. it is totally cool and totally white vinyl.

like a little white cloud.
sorry about the poor photo, it's from my phone. my camera is on the fritz. another post on that too!



it's hard not to be a bit pissy about this weather. but then i realize, that as long as his fingers aren't going to stick to the swing set (he hasn't attempted to lick anything yet!) why not go to the park? so what if it's april and snowing?!?!?!

i cannot tell you how happy i am to be able to walk 2 blocks to the park. i had surgery on my leg 2 weeks ago. nothing major, just a little thing called an "osteochondroma" which had to be cut off my femur! i have a scar, which i'm not pumped about, but hey at least it's not cancer! (i got the pathology report back this week).

so, being cancer-free (note: i did not actually HAVE cancer, I just THOUGHT for sure i DID) has really made me think that life is too short not to walk to the park. everyday. even if you get those stupid little pebble rock things up in your shoes. and even if you just want to stay home and watch ellen and drink coffee. and even if it's snowing.


bIG tRucKs!

This post says it all! Thanks anne!


necessary winter

it goes without saying that death is a necessary part of life. of living. winter is such a metaphorical death. everything must die to be born anew each spring. but we humans seem to endure the winter. for the most part.

some don't. i have lost half of my hospice patients in january alone. i hope i die in january. i was born in january. why would i not die then too? i think about death a lot. probably more than the average person. goes with the territory i guess. i am fascinated by it. by the patterns of how and when people die. by the patterns of how people around me are living too. how we are affected by the seasons and by death itself. parts of people must die, even relationships must die to make room. . . .

recently a friend told me that someone said to her, "you're trying to make it summer, but it's not." she was trying to tell my friend it is not the season for new love. it's not the season for much of anything. that is if productivity, outward growth, or "progress" are your only goals. but this winter i've learned from the people that i have helped die that life is so much more than all those external, materialistic, capitalistic, individualistic lies.

and for the first time, i'm happy for this winter. the necessary winter.

for us gardeners the winter can be a long, lonely process. but for those who seek solace in the winter, there is hope. here are some pictures of my dad's christmas tree. his "winter garden."

what do you grow in your winter garden?