Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rockwell Painting

Ahhhhhh, the sweet feeling of progress. Big Buckaroo and his dad got the siding on the ends of the cabin and even got them painted. Of course, he chose Park Brown as the color. Not kidding. And, no, we do not get a discount on that color paint.

Big Buckaroo loves the old Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) style of building. A time when men took pride in their handiwork, standards for workmanship were high, and there was an awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and our nation's natural resources while building.

We were previously at a CCC built park, one of the more than 800 parks constructed nationwide by the CCC. That is where my husband learned about and came to appreciate the sweat and craftsmanship put into building CCC/Rustic Style structures. It is an architecture that mirrors the rugged natural beauty of its surroundings.

I am thankful that when we drive up to Rockwell, we will be able to appreciate the cabin my husband and his dad built by hand, leaving a legacy for our boys and for our future generations.

Deciding inside trim colors,
The Park Wife

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wilma Working Hard in the Garden

Now that the county fair is over, it is time to get back to life at home. No more focusing on goat showing, crafts, or BBQ cook-off's until next year. It was fun, but, whew! I am worn out.

My focus this week (aside of the gigantic piles of laundry, cooking and educating kids) is my garden! Since we do not open the Farmers' Market in the Fall here, my Fall/Winter garden is just to feed our family (and friends when I have a surplus).

With the boys help and my trusted friend Wilma.....oh, wait, you did not know I have a garden helper named Wilma. Oh, you thought I did it all myself, oh no ma'am, I have been holding out on you.

Meet my friend Wilma!

Wilma is a hard worker, reliable, and pretty cute when she is cleaned up. I thought about painting her pink, but I loan her out and I think some of the men using her might feel a little embarrassed if someone drove by as they were working their garden with her. Hmmm...on second thought, I might go buy some pink paint at the hardware store today.

Oh giver of fresh veggies, let's get going! You have been neglected for weeks, I am so sorry.

I love tilling the garden. It is relaxing, yet energizing. As I go down each row I imagine its potential and envision the bounty that will grow there. Then, my mind wanders to how much I love being a part of the land and the blessing of being a part of a group (farmers, gardeners, foodies, etc) that desire to connect people to each other, to the farm, to our food.

Get out and enjoy this wonderful time of year. I will call you if I have too much broccoli!
The Park Wife

Thursday, September 9, 2010

County Fair Fun

I am an idealist. It's just how it is, not going to apologize for it.

In my mind and heart, I envision life in a small town where everyone knows each other, they come together to celebrate new life and those that pass on, a place where you stop by someones house and they invite you to dinner without having to have it on your calendar for two weeks and stress about what to cook and if there is dust on the bookcases. You know, kind of like Mayberry minus Ernest T. Bass. Well, actually those kind of folks add "flavor" to small towns and we have those around here. See, in the South we don't hide our crazies in the back room or basement, we put them out on the front sidewalk for everyone to see, yep, we flaunt the crazy.

Anyway, (I get a little sidetracked at times), as you can imagine when I was asked to help out with the county fair I was ecstatic. Nothing says wholesome family fun and community involvement like a county fair. I have had a blast working on it and it's finally here!

Last night, the Little Buckaroos showed their goats. They did fantastic and had fun doing it. I only got one picture because I videoed them when they showed.

Our 7-year-old Buckaroo got out there and turned it on, not sure where he gets that from, well, his mom did love a stage back in the old days.

I am very proud of their hard work in taking care of the animals, and grooming and preparing them for show. And, wooooohooo, they both earned a blue ribbon and trophy.

In addition to the livestock and Arts & Crafts show, there will be a BBQ cook-off, a regional high school rodeo, and a family fun day. At Family Fun Day, there will be a combine simulator, art tent where kids can get creative, children’s games, opportunity to learn how to milk a cow, hands on quilting, a chance to learn a historical dance from the 1860s, there will even be some cowboys out teaching kids to rope and shoe a horse. Oh, how I love my idealistic life.

Thankful for the opportunity to help put culture back in agriculture and practicing ducking in case Ernest T. Bass reads this,
The Park Wife

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Farm Meets the Fashion World

I have some fabulous boots, they are quiet FARM FLASHY as I wrote about here.

I do not subscribe to any magazines that are about fashion, unless you count Mary Janes Farm or Country Living, well, no you can't count those. I left my "gotta have the hippest, in-style wardrobe" life in my 20s. But, I do know that the fashion industry is undoubtedly a mirror of culture (I know, scary), so I was pleased (well as pleased as I can get about fashion these days) when I saw that food and farming had entered the psyche of Chanel and Ralph Lauren for their 2010 spring fashion lines.

Can you imagine being at that photo shoot? A bunch of hungry models playing in the hay, on tractors and in barns in designer clothing wishing for a big steak as they looked out in the field. However, it does validate what many in the sustainable food movement are calling a modern day farm revival. Oh, how I do love that!

Here is a photo from Ralph Lauren's Spring line

So, I guess that this year is not only the year that USDA rolled out their "Know Your Farmer" campaign, but it is also the year that shopping at Goodwill and dolling up "frugal and make do" can be fabulous. Who knows, maybe this fashion trend could influence people to slow down and get back to a simpler lifestyle that focuses on the condition of the heart where God, family, friends, and good, healthy local food are what matters.

The Park Wife
(who is not afraid to pair a sleeveless dress with cowboy boots, according to Kim Severson of the New York Times)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Living Deliberately

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. -- Henry David Thoreau

I have seen and heard that quote often, I bet you have too. People pull it out and use it when desiring a sense of simplicity, most of the time it is when their life is in chaos; over-stressed, over-scheduled, just over-everything. It is during those times that they desire to focus on what is important in life, a life focused on their core values. It is easier said than done.

Even while living on a state park, I struggle with guarding my time and focus, just as someone who lives in the city and has a fast paced life. We can all fill our time with things to do, places to be, commitments outside of our main jobs, oh and don't even get me started on the time-sucking Facebook and other "technological advances".

I think Thoreau meant to live each moment to its fullest by studying what it meant to be alive, to be living as part of the great plan of God and nature. I do desire to live deliberately, be my authentic self, to be alive. Don't we all?

I also think you have to understand your place in the world, how you fit in, and by understanding that, understanding yourself. I think we all struggle at times with knowing what our place in this world is. Actually, I know my place and it is an extraordinarily beautiful place full of love, commitment, family and God. But, staying focused, embracing it and being THANKFUL for it gets lost sometimes. I get over-committed to things that do not enhance my life nor that of my family, it just becomes one more thing to get done. I know there will be those things, but I am learning (not fast on the upswing there) that those need to be fewer and far between. I must learn the word NO and be alright with it.

Yes, I go to the woods often, but usually I am so focused on avoiding poison ivy, watching for snakes, making sure the kids are not doing something that would put them in danger, helping build a cabin, cutting grass, etc.

Even in the woods, I have been missing what is right there waiting for me to experience - beauty, simplicity, God's creation. Sure, Big Buckaroo and I sit on the deck at the end of the day holding hands and watching the fireflies come out, but I am usually hurried to enjoy those moments so I can get to the next chore of getting the kids to bed.

So, enough! I want to truly experience my life every day, and every day have it deliberately focused on the values I want to live by.

Wish me luck,
The Park Wife

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just a Simple Girl

I have a relatively simple life. I don't want for anything materially, but I don't require a lot. That has not always been true. In my 20s, I thought the secret to happiness was to make a lot of money, surround myself with the right people and beautiful things, and have an over-scheduled social life. I learned, probably not quick enough, that that was not what true happiness is about. Throw a girl in the middle of a state park and lessons will abound.

I have met many people lately, both in person and new blog friends, that are beginning to see that too much is just too much; it gets in the way of being able to enjoy the things we do want in our lives and to simply be who we are.

However, people feel pressured by society, I still do at times, to put on pretenses of having it all. I know several young mothers who think that they have to have their kids in the "right" playgroup, wearing the "right" clothes, taking the "right" vacations or they will not have any chance in life. That is about their needs and desires, not about the kids.

In reality, simplicity and childhood are natural counterparts. Left to their own devices, children lead down-to-earth, uncomplicated, genuine lives. Haven't you seen a four-year-old birthday boy playing with the box instead of the battery-operated toy? Consumerism and advertising would have us believe that children need a zillion things to have a good life, but children make the most of simple things. It is us, the parents, that are pushing this world view onto them.

Now, hold on, don't freak out, I am not talking about having a Starbucks fix every once in a while, living simply is not about deprivation. We have a very full life, but are not willing to go into debt for the unnecessary and excess that is common in America. If we do not have the money in the bank for something, we do not buy it. It is not a huge sacrifice to live this way, in actuality, I feel a deeper sense of satisfaction than what is being offered by a high stress, consumption-obsessed society.

I am blessed to have a husband that has his priorities straight, oh boy, he has to keep me on track often. He is frugal (I used to think cheap, but I am reaping the benefits of his choices) and when faced with a choice for a promotion that would require travel away from home daily, he knew the cost of missing these formative years with our buckaroos was too high. It is not all about prestige, the character of our children is at stake and they need their dad around. If that is "too simple" or "crazy", then so be it.

Yes, we live a simple life, but we know in our hearts that this is the life we are meant to live, focusing daily on "the good stuff". And, how blessed we are, there is a lot of good stuff.

Feeling the need to de-clutter AGAIN,
The Park Wife