We have lived and loved here for more than five years. It was our move to the country that turned out to be a Total Lifestyle Makeover, a journey 23 miles from town but worlds away from what I now see was a relatively materialistic existence.
I've never thought of myself as loving the mall, per se, but the allure of spendy coffee shops and the urban thrill of a great antique find or of an amazing night at the theater... these are in my blood as much as the ponies and the garden (again, this year, with the 'kick me off the homesteader show' garden) and the free-range children.
I wrote a bit about the move here and its shifting of our resources, to put it plainly, to more time spent on fencing and more money spent at the feed store. We drank fewer lattes and the pricey children's boutique owners can hardly remember my name anymore. We brought home two babies to this house. We baked bread and we homeschooled and we started a little bunny business.
Living in this little, tiny, unincorporated rural village has been an enormous blessing. Living in a restored heritage church building has been a dream realized, even in light of the spotty heating and the all-too-open-while-tiny floor plan and the propensity of ranching old timers to stop for coffee as they used to do when the home was owned by a multi-generation founding family.
We have learned to make do, to make the best, to make joy and realize it.
We have walked to the post office, to the wood-floored, wood-heated general store-slash-deli, to the school, church, grange, to neighbors' barbeque parties, to rural art center events and to the abundant blackberry patches. We have spent entire weeks without opening the Suburban doors. We have loaded the shop and the barn and the entire small acreage with memories.
We have watched the fire hall's weekly training sessions from our front yard. We have watched Cycle Oregon's two thousand participants gather and marvel at our front porch. We have watched weddings at the next-door B&B and we have given countless directions to wine country tourists.
And now we are moving again.
My father-in-law gave me a little bit of wisdom that I want to share even though it's not fully sunk in. Yet.
Even in the face of exciting new adventures, it's okay to take a moment or two to appreciate what's passing, to mourn the loss of the known, to recognize what's been good before planning the new. In fact, it's probably counterproductive to start planning before recognizing that this change, though welcome, is hard.
Our new home, also a century or so old but without the known history of this place, is a grand gift and a new chapter to be sure. I just have to finish the last few pages of this one before the story can move on.
Writing, like playing, is daily. Change is not as predictable but it is inevitable.The odd drive to clear one's head.
A trip to campus to goof off in the halls of learning.
A lifelong dream - a century barn - within my reach. Written on my calendar no less.
Grace, as my friend Heather put it, can really rock a hat.
"Millions" of crawdads at our new place.
More University photos with our two exchange students... borrowed from down the road for the period of 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. or so, every school day.
Just one funky sign on my fantastic new barn.
While we lived a little bit of a dream here in this 1880s church-turned-farmhouse, it turns out there is a surprise chapter to the book of my life. (What? I don't control everything? And, furthermore, God's plans are better than mine? Whodathunk.)
So November first we will turn the page and move to that three-story barn (well, into the creekside house, which is at this point not so picturesque) and to that creek and to a mature orchard and a little more remote rural existence.
Today as I quickly upload these snaps of late-summer fun and games I have six students at my school table. It's transition time.
We are still jogging through the last bits of summer chez Suite but the autumn rituals are tapping in for a good run.
A cozy wrap after bedtime bath.
Some wildflowers gathered for seed.
Mommy's seasonless dreams of pictures wherein everyone is smiling angelically and no one is pulling anyone else's hair or last nerve. It's the tradition that transcends cultural and national boundaries. (And you thought that was music?)
Pardon me while I wipe the sticky sweat from my brow and then again while I smack that same brow in remembrance of my blog... amongst the canning and homeschooling and general chaos that rules my September, the computer can get a bit in the way. I do, however, have facebook and all the evil time-wasting that has to offer. So there.
Our summer was fun but now it's time for the best season of all (and I totally reserve the right to change my mind at the beginning of each new season): autumn!
This year we are homeschooling four out of five of our children (that Salvador, such a slacker, is waiting until he can walk to learn to read) plus two neighbor boys. It's a full schoolroom and I love it. Today's haiku lesson was mighty educational, for me, in that boys apparently write about very different subjects than do girls. A-hem. Let's just say that counting syllables regarding bathroom humor is funny to a 10-year-old boy I know. Very funny.
We have two new doggies Chez Suite and they are sweet indeed. Bernese Mountain bundles of joy, they weigh in at over 100 pounds apiece. (What was I thinking with the dog begging, you wonder. Me too.) Murphy and Molly do not prefer this extended summer-like weather at all. They pant and, let's face it, they drool. It's an ocean of drool in my laundry room currently. And I can't use scatter rugs because they eat them. Also? They prefer the horse paddocks to the dog run. This makes perfect sense in light of the fact that they eat more than do the ponies.
The little red school across the road from us is closed forever and it is very, very sad. I miss the passing of the morning bus telling me it's time to wake up, and I miss the gathering of country kids stopping at our picket fence on their walk home. I miss the whole one-room-schoolhouse feel of our rural community and we didn't even attend there.
The country didn't fix its financial woes while I took a bloggy break. Go figure.
I made it to the beach just once this summer, and barely in time for sunset. I've decided the fall is better for ocean-going anyway. (See how I can make lemonade?) We did swim at the lake 10 times, which exactly met Sarah's goal. I aim to please. And the lake is close and free.
We celebrated a half-dozen amazing birthdays and a couple of wonderful wedding anniversaries. At one memorable 25th anniversary party the bride wore her Tevas with her wedding gown and walked her Golden Retriever to the picnic table reception. And at one equally wonderful party for a four-year-old I love, in excess of 30 children ate cake with no artificial colors nor artificial flavors and it was a measure of their love for Eddie and his dietary restrictions that no one said a word. Then at my father's 60th birthday party his siblings traveled across state lines to surprise him and that is difficult to do. Surprising my dad, I mean. We'll try it again for his 80th. And that is perfectly safe to say here since he doesn't read this blog. (Right, Dad?)
We (of course, this part is the royal we) put gorgeous new fencing around the horse paddocks
and Dolly hasn't broken out once since then. Oh. Except for the time someone left the beautiful new lifetime gate wide open. Just that once. And it only took half a day to catch the dang pony. Not that I minded.
It wasn't a breakout summer, but it was my summer. We loved it. How was yours?