Teague Trek

Living life outside the lines

Words are Birds by Julie Teague

A writer reaches for words just as a child grabs at birds

Perfect on the beach. Right there!  Within reach. Then,  fluttering. Gone.  Flown.

I almost had one! And she runs. The chase just begun.

She kicks and cartwheels. Jumps and turns.

Grasping.  Greedy.  Laughing.  Needing.  Crazy.  Alone.

Sinking

sun settling low -it is when the night comes and the day goes.

She kicks and cartwheels.  Jumps and turns.

But when the child quiets. The birds return.

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Big foot found… skiing? By Keith Teague

On Thursday, November 29 at approximately 12 am, Vail ski patrol spotted a late night skier on the slopes and realized that it was Big Foot.  Reporters fled to the scene to investigate.  Two members of the ski patrol, Helen and Aidan Ellisor, saw him first sprawled out in the snow next to a ramp. Big Foot turns out to be quite friendly. Ava and Zane Warren, two reporters from Texas, asked why he was skiing and how he learned.   Big Foot explained, “Well I sit in the trees and watch skiers go by and I’s was kind of jealous so I snuck in to the ski rental shop and found somes skis and big plastic boots I’s got pretty good after awhile and tried a jump but I ate it.” The owner of the ski rental shop on main street, Aidan Warren, told reporters that ,“Last December $400 mysteriously appeared on the counter in my shop.  The skis that I think he took were very expensive but he did pay for them.” Another reporter, Kinsey Silcox, asked Mr. Big Foot how he paid for the skis.  He responded, “Sometimes I’s go down to the lodge and find coins. Once I’s found a green paper with a 20 on it. It took 1year and a month to save enough for the skis but it’s was worth it.”  Jackson Silcox, head of the Sasquatch search team, wanted to know how long he has been living on Vail Mountain.  “I’s have been living on the mountain for 1,301 yrs. because I live forever.” The people of Vail valley are happy to have him as part of the community. If you ever see anything moving in the trees it could be him.

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Big Foot poses for photographers at Vail Resort.

Ski Bunny

I blame myself, of course, though nothing actually happened.  But, if it had, it would have been completely my fault.  Let me back up.  It all started on Saturday morning.  Since we are temporarily living in Breckenridge, Colorado as part of our grand adventure with the kids (read: 40 year old crisis times two) we are trying to get in as much skiing as possible.  And it is all fun and games.  Really.  Though I am a beach girl at heart, our wedding vows included something about me loving to ski and also loving the mountains. Therefore, as a Teague I am by higher mandate also a sworn mountain girl now, too.  I have grown to love it because I like the outdoors, I like the scenery, I like the exercise, and I love the hot chocolate.  But, secretly at least once every trip, a couple of multiple things strike me as being ridiculous in regards to the sport: the amount of gear, the expense, the amount of gear, the damn boots (think Iron Man w/o the cool factor), the entire enterprise of sliding down a mountain on foot and the rhetoric of snow boarders and skiers.  Yes, they each deserve their own linguistic category because while they can both be equally annoying they are distinctive in their phrasing and general word choice. More on that later.

Even before we had kids, I was shocked by the amount of gear you had to have for skiing: gloves, skis, poles, wool socks, neck warmers, hats, goggles, ski pants, tights for under the pants, a jacket that has two layers, turtle necks, chap stick, toboggan and sunscreen for that odd body part that remains exposed.  Now, add three kids to that mix and you can see where the math is headed.  It is a lot of Lycra, synthetic wool, and Gortex.  And while my kids are half Teague meaning that 50% of their genetic code is programmed for cool, calm and collected; they are also half Dupuy which implies creativity but also a somewhat roving attention span and a tendency to be the opposite of cool, calm and collected.  What you have then, are two equally opposing forces fighting for purchase in the garb of native Inuits. Just trust me: socks get lost, hats get left, and people break out in rashes. 

In the parking lot we donned the rest of our gear and I noticed that we were the some of the very few not taking shots of whiskey chased with Red Bull.  Oh, to be 20 again. Or ever. I was born 45 years old, overly conscientious, and acutely responsible.  I never could take shots, “crash” on someone’s floor, or use the word “party” as a verb.  This crowd clearly did all of the above, regularly.  Good for them. Carpe Diem! But, aren’t they worried about staying hydrated and upright?  Watching this, I internally chided myself for not packing the ski helmets.  But, we shouldn’t need them, really, as all this effort was somewhat of a dress rehearsal.  We were planning to keep the kids on the Beginner’s Hill this time just to make sure everyone was up to speed.  Fully geared up, we began the trek to the Gondola hauling our skis and poles-which is a truly awkward enterprise. There is almost no snow on the ground this time of year and only the top of the mountain is white and most of that is manmade. The mountain looks like an inverted waffle cone with its singular scoop of melting vanilla ice cream plunked perilously atop.  The walk from the parking lot through the resort and to the Gondola is probably a mile.  Do not underestimate the amount of body heated that can be generated while walking a mile dressed like people about to ascend Mt. Everest.  We look like lost astronauts plugging along the moons rocky surface.  The moon’s surface in this case is dotted with rusting Subaru’s and Toyota Corollas plastered with bumper stickers that read, you guessed it: I would rather be snowboarding.   All sarcasm aside, I was looking forward to getting on the mountain.  Once you make it through the lines and to the top, you are rewarded with spectacular views of Dr. Seuss like peaks and fresh, cool air. The light scent of pine is refreshing.   It is peaceful and you feel transported from the frenetic pace of life below.  Unless it is opening weekend on a snow sparse, recreationist dense day in November.  Which it was.  Sigh.  As planned, we headed for the bunny hill which measures roughly 30 yards of immaculately groomed snow. It is really easy to get over confident on a bunny hill. It is shorter and less steep than a common mall escalator. Not to mention the fact that it is frequented by two year olds who have no fear and really low center of gravity. The worst part is riding the magic carpet back to the top. Don’t be fooled by the name.  You aren’t going to be flying anywhere on this carpet. This conveyor belt system that ferries skiers/boarders back to the beginning of the slope is astoundingly slow.  While it takes 4.3 seconds to descend the bunny slope, it takes a good 3 minutes to be lugged back to the top by the magic carpet which is encased in a protective, plastic tunnel to shield novice skiers from the elements.  There is no inclement weather in November unless you count the sun which at those altitudes, while encased in a plastic tube, feels incredibly close.  And the thing about the bunny slope is that it is for beginners which means that these are people who have not yet mastered the art of maneuvering in their brightly colored Haz-Mat like ski suits.  So, when  they fall, which is understandably frequently,  the conveyor belt creaks to a stop until the skier can be righted again. You can see that it can feel like an interminable ride and bursting into flames is a very real, if only figurative, possibility.  Which is why after having done this for two or more hours I abandoned my better judgment when Ryan suggested we take the kids down the 3 mile Green run modestly named “School Marm”.  Green is the easiest level after the bunny hill and I was desperate to actually ski and move a little. 

We crested School Marm, and Harper, with her ski tips pointed straight down and her poles raised to the heavens, employed a line she surely picked up from Boarder Lexicon and yelled with jarring fervor: “Let’s light this baby on fire!” With that, my youngest and therefore the one whose cranial bones have had the least amount of time to harden, dropped from sight in a flash of pink ski suit and red curls.  It is likely the thesis of many birth order books that all youngest children will risk life and limb simply not to be last. I have mounds of hard core field evidence to support such a theory and her plummeting over the edge without hesitation is yet another frightful example. Unleashed (literally) from the ski harness in which she had trained for the last two seasons in New Mexico, Harper was ON. HER. WAY.  She went straight from “Pizza” (a common technique taught to beginner skiers in which the skis are pointed in a slice of pizza shape in order to slow speed and offer a modicum of control) to “French Fry” ( a position that places the skis in parallel lines and encourages ever increasing velocity as one careens down an icy  mountain on waxed sticks). The “French Fry” position is for expert skiers only or for the odd third child who manages to break free from harried parents.  I was frozen for the briefest of moments until her cries of “WOOO-HOO!” spurred me on after her.  Through my goggles, I caught Ryan’s gaze as we descended in unison after our errant daughter:  he was a little concerned.  This is of note because very little upsets him.  He is blessed with an 18 wheeler type of nervous system which means that he absorbs the bumps, pot holes and crashes of life’s highway without getting very rattled.  I am more of  a Yugo/Smart Car Hybrid: I feel it all.  Therefore, it was alarming to see him alarmed. I yelled “PIZZA!!” at the top of my lungs while I hurried after her.  Ryan was close behind and the two other kids were snaking after him. It was horrifying.  She looked so little and vulnerable zig zagging between North Face wrapped bullets moving at warp speed. This time of year there is a disproportionate amount of snow to skiers/boarders and very few runs are open which places expert, beginners, moderate, fearless and just plain reckless skiers and snow boarders all on the same run.  I have been here long enough to know that locals refer to the early ski season runs as the “White Ribbons of Death” because they are narrow, icy and overcrowded.  Who in their right mind would put their five year old out here?  Lest you judge, please recall the time that I put in on the Magic Carpet. 

And then it happened.  The laws of gravity dictated that it must:  Harper caught an edge and went head over heels, like a ginger and pink snow ball, into a full blown wipe out.  It was better than her being broad sided by a stoked snow boarder but it was scary to watch nonetheless.  The ski that popped off in the fall was planted in the ground next to her like a flag claiming territory.  Her legs looked impossibly tangled and I rushed to her side holding my breath.  I dug her out of the snow and once freed, she declared, “I BEAT YOU ALL.  I want to do it again!”  Relieved that she was not only alive but triumphant, I allowed myself a nervous laugh at this monster that we have created.  Watching her aglow in the adrenaline rush that comes from a magical combination of snow, sun, and reckless, unchecked speed I realize that she will someday lead her family to the mountains knowing that the effort is definitely worth it. I just hope she throws a beach trip in there now and then, too.

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Sheep: It’s What’s for Dinner

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I try not to make assumptions.  It is something I picked up from a self help book and have found it rather useful. It is a lot easier than “living in the moment” so it is one rule I try to implement.  Assumptions just get you into trouble and they confuse things.  Consider these common assumptions, for example: I assumed the car was going to stop.  I assumed that he would remember our anniversary.  I assumed that the dog was house trained.  I assumed that we had more toilet paper. You get the picture. So, daily I remind myself to avoid assumptions and seek out the truth. (I also remind myself to do P90X daily and clearly that is not happening …)  I allow myself a few exceptions to the no assumptions rule.  Like, I think it is fair to assume that grungy white vans rolling slowly down gravel roads rarely bring glad tidings.  That assumption certainly held true today, especially for the sheep.  We have had our share of visitors on the farm.  A guy knocked to ask if I had seen his cows or his wife (true story).  I had seen neither.  Not sure I would have ratted out his wife if I had indeed seen her-pretty sure both she and the cow meant to get lost.  Then, there was a Mexican family that wanted to buy the Billy goat and I was inclined to let them as he is a real jerk but, alas, it was not my call.  A couple from Seattle drove up one Saturday morning to buy eggs and to pick peaches.  They were one of those really peaceful couples that dress alike and travel abroad for greater personal awareness.  So, I was not all together surprised when the van rolled up dusty and full of Guatemalans looking to buy sheep.  I assumed they wanted live sheep but, as I stated earlier assumptions are rarely correct.  You see, if I had known the truth of what they were going to do with the sheep, I would not have let my three young children be a part of catching and corralling them toward their imminent and swift death.  At first it was all fun and games.  The kids were running in the pen chasing the sheep and trying to help. It was a crisp, fall like morning and I, standing in my sweater with a cup of warm tea surveyed the scene and felt internally pleased with it all-until the quiet lady with the long braids pulled out her “gear”.  Keith, the most sensitive of my brood, went pale.  Pale is not an easy state to reach for a red head as they tend to be translucent from the get go.  Yet, I saw all the blood drain from his face and he ran straight to me.  “Mom, why does that lady have an axe? And a bucket?”  Oh.   So I took a deep breath and calmly said “Go ask your dad.”  I have been called naïve, overly trustworthy, clueless.  They are all apt descriptions.  But, truly, would you have guessed that these friendly people were planning to slaughter the sheep right there on the spot?  I do realize  that “friendly” has nothing to do with eating protein but it was just all so sudden, unexpected and raw-excuse the pun- but I mean, process them right there in the yard?  Clearly, I should have gone with my initial assumption about the van.  But, it was too late.  We were living in the present moment and it did not look good for the sheep.  The kids connected the dots and struggled with a mixture of curiosity and horror.  Suddenly, the rapid fire Spanish and the bleats of the sheep took on an eerie sound as we watched them tie up the two they had chosen.   I inched closer to the incredibly small statured woman yielding the knives and struck up a conversation.  I casually inquired, a little too late I am sure the sheep thought as they hung suspended and helpless from the raised tractor lift, about their plans for the animals that my kids had named Blanco and Bob. Unlike say “Fluffy”,  I concede that Blanco and Bob are names that do little to inspire empathy but those were their recently given names (we have only been farming 6 weeks) and I am just trying to keep it real here.   It turns out that the family was celebrating a baptism and the sheep were to be the entrée for the festivities.  She explained that they cook the meat in an enormous pot over an open fire in the backyard.  When I further pressed her for details, (I like to cook and have never attempted sheep-might as well learn from an obvious natural) she looked at me blankly.  Lindsey just stared at me, indignant that I would stray off topic while her pets were dangling upside down.  I don’t think that “duh” translates but eventually the senora offered “well, you just add some cilantro, jitomate, a little garlic, and…”   My experience in getting recipes from my neighbors south of our border is akin to getting directions from people from West Texas: it is all very vague.  This was no exception but there was little time for details as I had to get my kids in the house and out of ear shot.  I mean, why stay when their father was recording it?  Safe inside, I and turned up the music to drown out the proceedings and began damage control.  My pale (er) children listened to my rationale:  this is just like HEB without the paper or plastic question.  It is important to be aware of where our food comes from-probably better not to name our food but still.  Unlike animals raised for mass meat production Bob and Blanco had a great life on the farm. Until that darn van rolled up.  All in all I think that it proved to be a good lesson for the kids.  You can explain farm to market all day long but this was real.  The Guatemalans were no different from us ultimately and in the end they wasted less than the sources that provide our meat. Yet, it was extremely unsettling to have the wool (sorry) pulled from our eyes so abruptly.  So when Lindsey asked what was for dinner, I replied without hesitation “SALAD.”

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The Clever Coyote by LIndsey Teague :)

My name is Lindsey. When we we’re in Washington we saw two coyotes and we heard them howl at night so I decided to write an essay about them.

 

 

            Have you ever heard something howl at night? It was probably a coyote.  Coyotes can be called song dogs because if you listen closely to their howls it can sound like a song.  Coyotes are amazing animals because they are adaptable, they are excellent parents, and they are tough. 

            Coyotes are one of the most adaptable animals because they do well in new situations.  For example, they live in every state but Hawaii.  You can find them in the woods of the Pacific Northwest to the sandy beaches of Florida.  Coyotes can hunt in packs or alone.  If they hunt in a pack they do something similar to a relay where they chase their prey until one coyote gets tired then they will trade spots.  Another reason that coyotes are adaptable is their diet.  They eat mice, rats, gophers, mountain beavers, rabbits and in the summer they eat grass, fruit, and berries, too.  In the cities, they adapt to eat garbage and pets.

            Coyotes are excellent parents.  For example, they dig their dens where the sun rises in order to keep  their pups keep warm. They teach them how to hunt by tackling them.  Coyote parents also teach their pups how to howl so if you hear an awkward howl it is a baby coyote learning to communicate.  The mother has to nurse the pups so when the female can’t do the hunting the alpha male does it.  This is an example of how coyotes work together which makes them good parents. 

            Coyotes are very tough.  We have killed coyotes for over 200 years although they are not a significant threat to humans. Sadly, we still kill approximately 500,000 every year.  However, even if we kill them, they repopulate quickly.  Normally, coyotes will have 2-3 pups but it they are under pressure they will have 5-6 pups.  Since we are building our houses on theirs coyotes’ wild territories are shrinking.  However, the number of coyotes is not decreasing but growing. 

            Coyotes are an important part of our healthy ecosystem because they eat all the mice and rats and carrion that is on the side of the road.  Coyotes are responsible parents and excellent survivors.  Coyotes are not a significant threat to humans.  We need to stop killing them and learn about them so we can change how we react to these amazing animals. 

 

Washington by Harper

Harper wanted to write something for the travel blog,too.   We decided to do a poem. For each line, I asked her to tell me one or two words describing something she loves or remembers from Washington and in that way she dictated to me her phrase poem.  I edited out some of her more long winded descriptions (like in the starfish line where she explained in quite shocking detail how a starfish’s stomach comes out of its body to eat seafood-that part did not make the cut. Evidently she does listen when those tour guides talk) but below is the rest of what she “wrote”.  She also picked the pictures which was not at all a painstaking process….since I only had several hundred for her to browse.  She is very excited about her poem.  Looks like I may be in for lots more poetic dictation.  A side note: any rhyming in the poem was a happy coincidence.  I say happy because she did not intend it but was thrilled no, ecstatic  when we read it back and it did have a couple of rhymes.  It is the little things that are exciting don’t ya know?

Washington

Horses and blackberries

Got to ride a ferry

Seattle Cotton candy

Turquoise cupcake taste

A little bit rainy

Wrestling with my brother and sister

In green green grass

Laughing loud fall down

Sea lions slippery

Puffin bird with golden hairs

Crabs kind of snappy

Starfish pointy amazing eaters big and gooey

Jellyfish sting with stingy rays

Double rainbow

Beautiful and cool

Happy farm

Bully goat chasing us

Pretty chicken feathers

Amazing turkeys white guys with all the colors

Lots of buzzing flies

Kittens so cute

Can’t come inside don’t know why

Sand dollars for Babba

At the beach

Water clear clear

See the sand dollars

PIke Place Market by Lindsey and Keith Teague

PIKE PLACE MARKET

Pike’s Place Market is the place to go if you are in Seattle.  It has been called the “soul of Seattle” because it is full of food, life, flowers, music, and art.  You can feel the history in the cobblestone streets and the creaky stairs.  If you visit there you know that you have stepped into the oldest market in Washington.

SIGHT SEEING

Ten million people visit Pike Place Market annually to see vendors, flowers, the iron pig, Pacific Ocean, fruit stands and the famous Gum Wall where the whole alley way is covered in colorful, sticky gum.  On any given day, you are guaranteed to see one of the 240 street performers or musicians dancing or singing.  Flowers are what make the market so colorful with their green, yellow, purple, and red petals.  Vendors also sell handmade art from rope dog leashes to beautiful silver necklaces and bracelets.

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HISTORY

Have you ever seen a guy dancing with two hula hoops while singing with a guitar balanced on his chin?  If your answer was “no”, then you have never been to Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington.  Founded in 1907, today Pike Place Market is the largest open aired market in USA.  Between 1906 and 1907 the price of onions increased tenfold.  They went from one cent to $1 dollar a pound.  The farmers and the consumers got angry and decided to cut out the middle man.  On August 17th   1907, a total of 8 farmers came out to Pike Street with their carts full and they were swarmed by an estimated 10,000 eager shoppers who bought everything by 11 a.m.   This is how Pike’s Place Market was born.

FOOD

Today at the Pike Place Market you can get almost every fruit and vegetable imaginable and they are not shipped in but everything is fresh from local, organic farms.  There are also bakeries that sell jumbo cookies, hot cinnamon rolls, and bread straight from the oven. The original Starbucks is there, too, but you better get there early because the line stretches out the door.  In addition to the fruit and vegetable stands, there are sit down restaurants that serve a variety of food.

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CLIMATE

Seattle’s weather in the winter is normally wet and cool.  In the summer and early fall, however, it is warm and dry with average temperatures of 70 degrees which makes it a perfect time to wander the lively streets of Pike Place Market.

Rocky Mountain (sugar) High by Lindsey Teague

Rocky Mountain (sugar) High

 

My family and I traveled to Colorado for the summer.  We did paddle boats, we hiked Mohawk Lake, I learned how to knit, we saw our cousins, and went to Breck Fun Park, but my favorite thing that we did was visit the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. 

                I loved getting some alone time and riding my bike through the cool air, passing the river, and going through the trees on my way to the chocolate factory.  I liked riding by myself not with my mom in the car.  It was mostly a downhill ride with candy waiting for me.

                When I got there, the store was filled with lots of colorful candy and it smelled like chocolate cake.  All of the sweet, sweet candy piled up in shiny glass jars. My favorite candy to buy is sour gummy worms. The lady at the counter is so friendly with her happy smile.   She is so nice- sometimes  she sneaks and lets me buy candy under-price.  For example, if the total was $3 and I had $1.50 she’d take my $1.50. 

                After I pick out my candy, I go outside and feed the fish in the beautiful lake.  It is so cool to see the fish shine silver in the calm water.  When I put in the quarters and turn the shiny knob, the fish food comes out and it stinks! That’s what I remember from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. 

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We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (I hope we don’t catch a big one) by Keith Teague

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                We were going to Colorado for the summer and I was worried about bears.  I casually asked my mom if bears would bother us on our trip.  She assured me that bears are scared of people and that they will keep their distance so I wasn’t too worried.  However, in the first week we saw two bears!  The first bear we saw was not as scary as I expected it to be.  We were eating by the lake at Pizza on the Plaza when I saw him.  He was far away and looked small- about 3 feet long.  He was walking around looking for garbage. 

 

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We decided to tell a local so that we knew what to do.  It did not help at all.  I told the waitress about the bear and she started losing control.  She began closing all the side doors and saying “Oh no! He looks about two years old which means he is really aggressive!”  After she said that I got kind of scared.  But he left and no one got hurt (that I am aware of).  At dinner we talked and I told my dad that if we saw another bear that I would run.  He replied, “They can out run you.”  So I said, “Then I would jump in the lake.”  My dad told me, “They can swim.”  I thought for a second and I answered, “I would climb a tree.”  Dad laughed and said, “They can climb trees, too”.   “Great!” I said, “I bet they can fly, too!”  We all laughed and I forgot about the bear. 

                I had forgotten all about the bear so a few days later my sister and I went outside to play.  We called my mom to the balcony to show her a pine cone we had found and suddenly I saw a bear about 12 feet away.  We started backing up and whispering “Bear! Bear! Bear!”  My mom thought that we were joking, unfortunately we weren’t.  I felt like the bear was laughing at us because we were so scared.  The bear turned around slowly and ran off right before my mom came running outside with a broom and a camera.  (Leave it to “Mamarazzi” to save the day.)  We were really excited after that.  It was an adrenaline rush and we wanted to see more.

 

The Farm

Summer in Colorado proved to be an awesome experience and all of us were ready to embark on the next leg of the journey.  We drove a respectable 10 hours on Friday and made it to Salt Lake City, UT.  Pulling that trailer slows things down a lot-leave it to Ryan to pack so many heavy books.  The drive was uneventful.  Seriously.  Have you ever driven through Idaho and Utah?  Our plan was to spend the night near the Washington border, have a relaxing evening in a 2 star hotel and then get up and leisurely drive to the farm on Sunday morning. 

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Plans change.  We were making a pit stop at a McDonald’s when Ryan mentioned that we were only about 5 hours away from the farm and one hour from the hotel.  We gained two hours crossing into Pacific Time so the clock read only 4pm-early.  Keith, casually eating his ice cream cone, responded somewhat indignantly, “5 hours?  Commit soilder.  Let’s just get her done.”  It was a direct threat and I saw the light go off in Ryan’s head (he realized that he would not have to pay for a hotel if we plowed on).  I knew we were going all the way. This was fine with me because while I enjoy watching my kids swim in hotel pools littered with band aids and teenagers, I could live without a fresh memory of it.  Besides, as relaxed as Ryan is, it unsettles him a bit to sit idly by while I keep a steady driving pace of 55mph meaning I was off the hook and free to read or sleep or mess up the scarf I am still knitting.   The trip went very well but please do remember that we left Salt Lake City at 6am and we had already been driving 13 hours. If you have ever seen an episode of Sponge Bob you will appreciate this:  “18 Hours Later” we arrive at the Farm.  The kids long asleep, we pull up past midnight greeted by cows, sheep, and a hoard of chickens.   I did not have a lot of expectation for the lodging which was advertised as being a “fully equipped and furnished home” . But if pressed, I would say that “clean” would have been at the top of my priority list.  Well, clean it was not.  With sleeping kids draping off my body, I pulled back the covers of the first bed.  Lindsey was coherent enough to notice the “issues” with the sheets.  I just yanked them back up and covered the bed with our own blankets (we come prepared).  The master bed downstairs was worse so Ryan and I made our way back upstairs to another room.  There were no dirty sheets, thankfully, but there were also no sheets at all.  A quote I had noted from Pinterest made its way into my foggy head: “Keep calm and get to Target”.  Did I mention that Washington was experiencing unprecedented heat?  Because it was and most homes in the Pacific Northwest have no need for AC.  So, we reacquainted over selves with the humidity and pressing heat  we thought we had escaped and  drifted to sleep swatting remarkably large, persistent flies.  I reflected, lying there, that it was a little creepy but certainly not tragic. We were all safe, together and surrounded by lots and lots of cows.  What else could go wrong?  Mice, spiders, mildew and layers of dust and dirt, that’s what.  Also,  a refrigerator brimming to over flow with old food including 24 mason jars of molding animal fat (? No clue what that was about. I tossed it all) and dozens of eggs long past “farm fresh”.  I spent the next day cleaning and the kids exploring.  Ryan, who booked our abode, stayed out of sight.  Later that evening, the owners of the farm drove up to feed to the animals.  The heat had broken and the evening was perfect.   Mr. and Mrs. Brown* turned out to be two of the nicest people we have had the pleasure of meeting.  Within 10 minutes, Mr. Brown had encouraged Keith to drive the tractor and haul the ‘food” out to the pasture to feed the cattle.  It was not just a photo shoot-he completely empowered Keith to do the work and get the cows fed. 

Image Meanwhile, Mrs. Brown showed the girls how to collect the fresh eggs and feed the baby turkeys.  The kids found and named a bunch of kittens in the barn. There are 6 in total and they follow the kids everywhere.  We have not seen an Itouch , DS or been asked to watch TV in over  two weeks.

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Image I meanwhile made it to Target and bought some fresh sheets and basics (and enough scented candles to light a church on Christmas Eve).   Living in Colorado was a change but beyond leaving good friends and family it was not a stretch in terms of comfort zones-Keystone, CO is a resort for Pete’s sake. The farm has been much different than our Circle C bubble, but, as I set my mouse traps, I realized that is the reason we left home base in the first place.    We opted not to ask Mr. and Mrs. Brown to deduct a cleaning charge from our monthly rent-one of the ideas for recompense that we came up with while sweltering on a sheet-less bed that first night.  It just didn’t feel right. The house might have been dirty (ok, filthy) but there was true beauty and unique opportunity in the farm and the way it engaged our kids and slowed us down. Image

I mean, we weren’t signing up for perfect-we were trying to give our family a new perspective: things aren’t always the same but that does not make them bad.  To my children’s great annoyance, I am always offering unsolicited yet sage advice: “what you focus on expands so choose what you think wisely”, “A tree that is inflexible breaks in a storm so learn to bend”, “More often than not, it is better to be kind than right”, “You may not be able to control what happens but you can choose how to react.”. You get the picture.  Completely annoying mom stuff.  So at some point during those first few days while I was internally fretting about the mice, manure,  and mildew I realized that I needed to take my own advice and focus on the beauty instead.  (And get to Target ASAP)

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