Under the Apricot Tree

Savoring the Abundance of Simple Living

Category: Farm Life

Transience

This place continues to teach me. We’ve had quite the show this past month as one by one, the plants dance joyously into spring.

From the brown-gray winter landscape, each emerging blade of green and flowering petal has been like a victory song of new life.

Daffodils in a dozen varieties encircle the house in a golden ring of sunshine. Round tulips bob their crimson heads in the breeze. Lilacs I’ve awaited since we moved here in July spritz the air with lavish purply perfume; their scent sparks a memory of a grade school field trip when I smelled these flowers for the very first time. I carry my baby into the sunlight, let him reach out. “Flower,” I say as his tiny hand grasps at the delicate color. I wonder if he likes the fragrance as much as I do.

What delights me with beauty one day, though, is fading the next. It’s startling how quickly it happens.

The daffodils and tulips are all gone now, papery brown membranes droop from the green stalk. My purple lilacs have shriveled, the slower white ones take their place. A strong wind scattered the petals from the fruit trees weeks ago, a pink and white snowfall on a hot afternoon. Seth and I take turns, unintentionally, reporting the latest casualty: “Did you notice the Bleeding Heart is fading already?”

Who planted the big apricot tree that shades my porch? Was it fifty or eighty years ago? Does anyone remember his or her name?

I am reminded that life is transient. The most precious moments in time pass by too quickly. But I do not want to waste it. Although it fades fast, I want the richness of this time, this moment, to last long into the future. How do I hold on to the sweetness if I cannot slow the clock? How do I secure a guarantee against regrets for what will too soon be remembered or forgotten?

The only answer I know is to savor. There are so many ways to savor.

I walk among the flowers with my little one. I take pictures. I look up from the manuscript for a moment to watch birds outside my office window. I gather armloads of lilacs with a friend and send her home with most of them. I bring them into my home, gracing every room. I kiss my baby’s velvety head for the umpteenth time today and watch him sleep. I hold my husband’s hand when while he asks the blessing at the table. I breathe deeply and commit to memory the scent of my family’s spring.

None of this prevents the passing of time. The flower still withers and fades. But, it does prevent regret because when I look back I will know that I didn’t take it for granted, I celebrated the gift, I realized my fortune and gave thanks for it, and shared it, and delighted in it.

As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. Psalm 103:15-16

Advertisements

A Country Bouquet

Last night at sunset, Seth and I donned jackets and darted around in the wind, cutting armloads of flowers from our yard. Someone years ago must’ve planted a thousand daffodil bulbs because the place is bursting with them right now.

Today is Administrative Professionals Day and Seth’s counseling office wanted to thank their school secretaries for all their hard work.

In a pinch, we came up with a charming homespun vase solution. It was simple, pretty and practically free. This would make a sweet gift for a friend, your child’s teacher, or really anyone who likes receiving flowers (and who doesn’t?). This could also be a fun, casual centerpiece, with various sized “vases” and coordinating colors.

20120425-194135.jpg

Directions:
-Select clean used glass jar(s); Tall jars with narrow necks work well
-Place empty jar over the center of one piece colored tissue paper
-Around the neck of the jar, gather the excess paper and snugly tie with yarn or raffia
-Add and arrange your bouquet of flowers
-Using a funnel, add water, being careful not to spill on the delicate paper

That’s it! There’s nothing like fresh cut flowers to make someone feel special. And in my book, “homemade” is even better. 🙂

Spring greetings

Spring greetings!

As evidenced by my singular, solar-powered post last month, March was a busy one. My first full month back at work, I was hopping day and night. So many times I felt inspired and wanted to come write a new blog post for y’all, but could not find the free time to do so. Busyness is always a lame excuse, I know (especially for a blog extolling the virtues of simple–i.e., not overly-busy–living). But this little mama/working girl/wifey/chicken farmer/blogger is definitely in the process of figuring out how to manage my days and nights now that little William has entered the picture. But, oh, what a beautiful picture he makes!

Image

I never imagined how truly magical it is to be the mom of a miraculous little bundle of life. He fills my days with joy. Seth and I are head-over-heels in love with the little man. We waited seven years before having children, and that time was incredible–we were able to grow a ton in our marriage, fulfill our dream of traveling a bunch, get through a master’s degree without debt, and basically have a lot of fun together. If I’m totally honest, I never fully believed our friends with children when they urged us to start and said it was the best thing ever. Part of me thought they just wanted us to jump on the baby boat because misery loves company. Changing poopy diapers, getting spit up on, no sleep, no life outside the baby zone, no more international travel–no thanks, at least not yet! Isn’t that horrible? Well, it’s what I thought at the time. I knew I wanted children, but wasn’t in a rush to get there. Now that I’m experiencing it personally, though, it is an absolute marvel. I don’t regret our wait–we savored the season we were in–but if I’d known how amazing this is, I probably wouldn’t have waited so long!

Now that we are parents, focusing on our love relationship as husband and wife doesn’t come as easily. But we are finding times to be just the two of us and to “date” one another. The other night I made a decadent dessert and we had a yummy little date night at home after the baby went to bed. That is our best time for catching up with each other (when I’m not working late, that is).

Image

A key part of living simply is rolling with the flow of the seasons of life, and finding beauty in each one. This spring has brought us sunshine, snow, hail, rain, wind, and moments of stillness so calm you can hear a sparrow’s wing glide by. Sometimes we get all of that in one single day! Here are a couple images of spring on our place–the first brave flowers to grace us with their beauty, and a few days later, the first  really big snow (“8 inches).Image

Image

And what is spring on a farm without some baby chicks? Last week, I picked up some special heritage breed chicks from a local breeder. Two French Black Copper Maran pullets who will lay a chocolate-brown egg, and three Delawares–two pullets who’ll lay a medium brown egg and one cockerel to guard the growing flock. I’m keeping the babies warm and safe in a brooder box with heat lamp in our mudroom. A few times a day, we go in to check on them, feed them treats like scrambled egg by hand, and hold them each. They love the attention and should grow up very tame and friendly. (Let’s hope the roo doesn’t go the way of the turkey tom and turn aggressive once his full-fledged testosterone kicks in!) My mom was out the other day and we took the babies outside on the grass in the sunshine. They seemed to enjoy themselves, running around and flapping their little wings, scratching at the dirt, and staying close to “mom”. William is endlessly entertained by them.

Image

Well, speaking of William, I hear him waking from his afternoon nap, so I’d better go. I’ll leave with a final image of spring and wish you a very special Easter as you remember our Lord’s sacrifice of love that has made new life possible for each one of us!

Image

Happy Easter!

Poultry Pen News

Hi from the farm! Lots of fun developments in the poultry realm these days.

We moved my hens from their little gypsy cart coop in the round orchard to the big old chicken coop out back. At first, I wasn’t happy at this prospect, but the landlord, who is truly a dear, served their eviction notice so that he could spray the fruit trees. I do like seeing my girls strutting around right outside the house and having them near enough I can literally step out the side door and toss them kitchen scraps from the porch. Plus the fact that the old coop is an ancient pieced-together thing that had us joking about haunted buildings when we first moved in…not very appealing. 

spoooooky!

But the old coop was given quite the makeover, with a new tin roof, running water, fenced yard, electricity for a winter heat lamp, and my dear husband spent most of last Saturday installing a roosting bar, ramp for the doorway, nesting boxes and generally cleaning up the place. So it has been effectively rid of its ghosts. 🙂 Plus, I think I’ll buy one of these cute, retro tin signs to further cheer it up.

Source: retroplanet.com via Jenni on Pinterest

 

.

I can’t decide between the two, so let me know in the Comments which sign you like better!

Well, the girls must be happy in their new digs because yesterday I checked the nesting boxes and found an egg! They hadn’t been laying all winter, ever since the days got cold and short. I’ve been buying local free-range eggs from my favorite market / bakery / cafe in town, Great Earth; but availability is spotty and it seems silly (and spendy!) to pay for eggs AND organic chicken feed. I just came in from the coop and found a second egg today, this one a nice olive green color. I suspect it’s the younger white pullets who’ve started laying because the size is slightly smaller and the color is different from the pale pistachio eggs I collected last fall. The little free-loaders are starting to earn their keep again. Good for them–I was starting to wonder if they’d be more helpful in a stew pot! Just kidding, I could never do that…or could I? More on that later.

So the haunted coop is rid of its ghosts, but unfortunately I have a new reason to fear going out there. The tom turkey has decided that I am a threat to his flock’s safety and has been acting aggressively toward me. We used to have a great relationship–I would tell him he’s a pretty bird and he’d puff up his chest, fan his tail feathers and be a show off. But now he comes at me like he’s going to attack and I have to keep a stick between us to defend myself from thirty pounds of butterball fury. Why the sudden change? I think I know why. These boots:

my predatorial Kate Spades

My mom & sis picked up these fun Kate Spade wellingtons on sale for me, thinking they’d be great for traipsing around the farm. But when I wore them into the poultry pen, ol’ Tom saw the animal print and his internal predator alert went wild. After a couple times in the boots, now he’s convinced that I’m the enemy even when I’m not wearing them. Not sure what we’re going to do about this issue. I think someone needs to find a new home. And it will probably be the boots.

he used to bring me roses

And the last item in our poultry news update is that, with the bigger coop, Seth and I are considering taking our poultry husbandry to the next level. But I’ll save the ins & outs of that for a later post. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to having our own farm fresh eggs again. I think I’ll make a tasty cheese omelette for our Saturday morning breakfast tomorrow.

FARM GIRL TIPS

URBAN FARM GIRL (OR BOY, FOR MY GUY READERS): Want farm-fresh eggs but don’t live on a farm? Most city ordinances allow you to keep 2-3 chickens on your property. Certain rules apply (no roosters, must be a certain distance from neighbors’ property line, etc.). Urban poultry keeping has become quite popular as people discover how fun and easy it is to keep chickens, and there’s a lot of good info out there on how to get started. Chickens do require daily attention, but it can be just minutes a day. Farm fresh eggs from hens on a free-range  or varied diet including fresh greens cannot be matched. Try them once and you’ll never want to go back to those  pale, insipid things from the grocery store.

OUTSOURCING FARM GIRL OR BOY: Not into keeping your own flock? Finding a good source for farm fresh eggs isn’t too hard. Check with your local natural foods store. Or, call the number on one of those hand-written roadside signs that advertises eggs for sale. Or, check out Craigslist by clicking “Farm+Garden” and type “eggs” in your search. Be sure to ask about the hens’ diet and pen, if organic is important to you. (By the way, just so we can laugh at ourselves, have you seen this hilarous Portlandia “Is it local?” skit? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2LBICPEK6w) But seriously, don’t be fooled into thinking that the eggs marketed as “free range” at your grocery store are what they seem; the space requirements for that certification are only a little better than the horrendous conditions that most commercial laying hens are kept in. So supporting a small-scale egg producer is a good way to direct part of your grocery money, and your tastebuds will thank you.

Have a great weekend!

~Jenni

Old Man Winter

our barn

Old Man Winter finally made a noteworthy appearance here in the northwest. Here are a few photos I snapped around the place of his handiwork.

 

Winston thinks it's the best thing since Vitabones!

 

 

 

My hens prefer their coop in this weather

I love the snow and have been singing, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” Seth had a snow delay at work, so he got to sleep in a bit and make us breakfast in bed this morning, yay! But now it’s raining and melting, which is not quite so lovely. Oh well, good weather for staying cozy inside and being grateful for a warm house. Wherever you are, I hope you’re staying warm!

Come wintertime, this spruce takes center stage in our yard

The Passing of a Season

What’s your favorite season? I am definitely a summer girl. I love the long warm days and the carefree sensations of walking barefoot in grass, BBQing with friends, and staying outside late at night to watch the stars…without getting cold! Yesterday as this blog post idea came to me, I was sitting on my porch bed with the sun warming my back and a blanket on my lap, my body a living illustration of turning away from the long hot days of summer and facing the cooler, cozier months ahead.

Each season has its benefits and drawbacks, its pros & cons. And during times of transition, I think it’s valuable to reflect on what we’ll miss about the days behind us and what we look forward to in the days ahead. Reflection enriches the chapters of our lives with a unique identity and meaning, instead of just a continual blur of random, meaningless, unconnected events. This is true whether the transition is a turning of the calendar, the change of a job, a move to another town, or even the addition or subtraction of an important relationship. By naming what we’ll miss, we give ourselves permission to honestly mourn the loss of what was good, thereby allowing it a place of meaning in our personal history and honoring the rhythms of life. And by identifying what we gain, we can rightly celebrate the good to come and set a positive tone for the days ahead.

To me, autumn and spring feel like transitional seasons, whereas summer and winter seem more definitive and self-sustained. Maybe this is because I grew up in Central Oregon, where spring and autumn tend to be winter one day and summer the next. But all four seasons hold traditional and metaphorical symbolism shared across many cultures:

  • Spring represents rebirth and new life (the promise of what’s to come)
  • Summer represents vitality, nurturing, life (the celebration of vibrant life)
  • Autumn represents harvest and maturation (the preservation of what’s been achieved and preparation for subsistence)
  • Winter represents sleep, covering, and darkness (the sheltering and rest of hibernation)

Isn’t it amazing that our world is wrapped in this beautiful rhythm? It makes me grateful to live in a temperate climate, where we experience the extremities of the seasons. (Although, in February, I’ll be jealous of my Texas friends who enjoy two seasons: hot and hotter!) 🙂

Some things I’ll miss about summer:

  • The garden
  • Our weekly CSA box of organic local produce
  • Breakfast and dinner on the porch
  • Swimming and sun bathing
  • The sound of the breeze in the tall trees
  • Endless sunshine
  • Casual outdoor get-togethers
  • The scent of a summer shower on hot asphalt
  • Kids running through sprinklers
  • Summer dresses and flip-flops
  • Hiking

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some things I’m excited about for winter:

  • Pulling apples from my stash in the cellar
  • Hearty, oven-cooked dinners and soups
  • A white, sparkly blanket of snow
  • Baby’s first holidays
  • Deep heat from the wood stove
  • Family & friends gathered in a cozy house
  • Sweaters, jeans & boots
  • Running again
  • Bundling up our baby until he resembles a giant marshmallow
  • Hot tubbing in the woods at Mt Hood
  • Long quiet evenings of tea and reading on the couch (Oh, wait a second…that’s what we used to do pre-baby…check back with me on this! 😉

What about you? What will you most miss about summer? What do you look forward to this winter?

(By the way, today is my birthday! There’s yet another good reason to reflect on the past, dream about the future…and celebrate today! Honestly, with the baby on the way, I haven’t given much though to my birthday this year. My family is coming over tonight and bringing dinner. Looks like we get to begin on the Winter Wonders list already, as family gathers together in our house, with plenty of food, warmth and festivity. Party on! If William should decide it’s time to go into real labor, all the better.)

Pregnancy Update

I am still pregnant. As in 41 weeks + 1 day pregnant =  8 days overdue.

I should have known better than writing a post extolling the virtues of waiting patiently and actively, celebrating the gifts of the moment even while longing for what you really want. Was I daring God to put my patience to the test?! If so, this past week has definitely given me ample opportunity to practice what I wrote about in Waiting for “It”. Some days, hours, minutes I’m successful and other times I start to flounder and feel impatient or negative–“Will this baby ever come?!”–only to have my wonderful husband or a phone call from a family member or a blog comment from a reader help me to readjust my focus again. This moment really is a gift and I’ve enjoyed some special memory-making times this past week which I could’ve missed if I’d been too focused on “getting there”…including a few bouts of hysterical laughter with Seth, which must be a great stress reliever. 😉

On Sunday, I had two older women share a piece of advice which I’d never heard before: “When the fruit is ripe, it falls.”

There’s good wisdom in that folksy saying. I looked it up online and learned that it originated with our friend Ralph Waldo Emerson. In other words, let things take their natural course and in due time, they’ll work themselves out.  Or, as it applies to my particular situation, this baby will come when he’s good and ready. So even though I’m doing all the little things I can to help encourage him along, I’m also trying to stay relaxed and remember that it isn’t up to me to step up and “make it happen.” As a natural type-A / recovering perfectionist, it is tempting for me to place the burden on myself as though I just need to do something or perform.

This weekend I picked another bushel of apples from the orchard, mostly Golden Delicious. It felt great to be out in the sunshine, with the chickens and turkeys comically clucking around my feet to see what I was up to and if I had any scraps for them. Picking those apples returned my thoughts to “When the fruit is ripe, it will fall.” Because sometimes instead of waiting for a piece of fruit to fall, it’s best to pluck it from the branch, right?

As you know from Our Birth Plan my goal is to deliver this baby naturally. I believe the female body is brilliantly designed to be able to carry and deliver a baby healthily, and that medical interventions often impede that process in a normal situation. But I’m also grateful to have access to medical advancements if truly needed. Since studies show an increase in unhealthy outcomes for babies delivered after 42 weeks, we will go in for an induction next Monday if William hasn’t arrived on his own by then. I’d prefer not to induce because once you start down that road, it tends to lead to one intervention after another and even an increase in Cesarean sections.

Time will tell if the fruit of my womb is going to ripen and fall on his own, or if we’ll need to go fruit picking.

So please say a little prayer for us, that this baby would come soon. My 30th birthday is on Thursday and a baby in my arms would be the best birthday present ever! Meanwhile, I am seeking to live fully here and to savor each day as the unique and once-in-a-lifetime gift that it is.

Postscript–some technical details:

  1. Yesterday we had an ultrasound and non-stress test. Baby’s size, heart rate, amniotic fluid levels, etc, are all showing perfectly healthy and I feel good.
  2. I continue to have light contractions, but I guess you could call them Braxton hicks or prelabor, as they’re not increasing in frequency or intensity.
  3. I think it’s helpful to clarify that a “normal term” pregnancy is considered 38-42 weeks. Wouldn’t it take pressure off expectant mothers if we quit referring to the “due date” and started calling it what most medical professionals do now, the “estimated delivery date” or EDD? I personally am going to make that switch, starting now. 🙂 

Strong Enough to Bury

Have you ever considered how much faith it takes to plant a tulip bulb? To plant a bulb or seed in the ground is to take something full of life and promise and then bury it under dirt, leave it for dead, and trust that it will somehow rise to new life at the right time. It seems downright counter-intuitive, but we see this principle in nature all around us.

spring bulbs

Even though I’ve never been the mistress of impressive gardens, I’ve always considered myself to have a gardener’s soul. Maybe by default, since my precious Grandma Mig was an avid gardener who invited me into the melee. (Upon arrival at Grandma’s house, she’d say with a twinkle in her eye, “Let’s go survey the kingdom,” and we’d walk out back to see what was blooming or ripening.) So throughout school and my early years of adulthood, I’ve always had something on hand to keep green–the Chia kit herb garden in middle school, house plants in my college dorm, and some of Grandma’s perennials that I’ve transplanted & towed with me from house to house.

But this spring it dawned on me that I’ve never had enough faith to plant spring bulbs. Even though the emergence of daffodils, tulips, hyacinth and crocus at winter’s end delights my heart every spring, in five years of owning our townhouse, I never once took that step of faith in our yard. Though I thought about it each fall, I’d reason that it wasn’t worth the effort because 1) I’d plant them wrong and they wouldn’t survive the cold winter, 2) the deer would eat them, 3) our front yard wouldn’t provide enough sunlight, 4) maybe we’d move and I wouldn’t be there to enjoy them anyway. But looking back now, I see that I’d been robbing myself and anyone who passed by of an opportunity for joy…just because I was worried it might not work out, that I might fail, that the conditions wouldn’t be right. So I never tried.

Fast forward to this summer. We finally moved away from our townhouse (leaving narry a bulb behind, of course) and landed here at this 30-acre garden of Eden where people had been pouring their hearts into this soil for more than a hundred years. I find myself surrounded by mature fruit trees bearing apricots (my blog’s namesake, of course 😉 ), peaches, plums, apples and pears; roses smelling heavenly in a dozen different colors and sizes; ornamental trees generously adding shade, texture and color; and different kinds of flowers popping up to surprise us each week. I didn’t do any of the work, but I get to enjoy the results of their labor. It’s a gift.

When Seth and I got down on our knees to add my Grandma’s perennials to the front garden, guess what we unearthed there? Spring bulbs. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of them. We couldn’t sink our shovels into the ground without pulling out handfulls of the little brown nuggets. Someone who came here before me had faith.

(c) Yvonne Cunnington, flower-gardening-made-easy.comI want to be that kind of person, someone with a generous faith, more than enough to share. With so much love and joy and acceptance that I’m confident enough to give it all away indiscriminately, without holding back. What would the world look like if we chose to sow these gifts generously, instead of allowing fear to hold us back? There would be nothing left to fear if our faith rested on Someone so strong and full of Life that even death & burial couldn’t stop resurrection!

I also wonder, what else in my life do I need to let go of, to let it “die” for a season so that it can hibernate and possibly be raised to new life at the right time? Since I am very close to entering motherhood for the first time (our baby was “due” yesterday), I suspect I will have the opportunity to let go of many things during this season of life. Help me remember the beauty in that, okay? I may need the reminder.

Now that I’ve unearthed my predecessors’ bulbous promises from this ground, they must be planted again, of course. And it’s time to do that, before winter’s frost hardens the earth for its long hibernation. I hope I plant them right. I hope they get the sunshine they need to grow again. But even if I wasn’t here to enjoy them myself next spring, I would be okay with that. This place is teaching me to bury my bulbs more generously. I want to add to the beauty for others to enjoy some day.

Some inspirational verses about a love strong enough to bury:

“I tell you the truth, unless a seed is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (John 12:24)

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:24-25)

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

 Question to Ponder: What has fear held you back from doing? What is the worst and best that could happen if you chose to act in faith instead of fear in that situation?

Maternity Pics

Recently our very talented photographer friend Marina Koslow came out to the farm with her camera. I wasn’t sure earlier on if Seth and I would do maternity pics and I didn’t really take the weekly “mirror photos” to document my gradually growing midline during the pregnancy. But now I am so glad we decided to do this with Marina. She has such a sweet, calming spirit and we had fun wandering around the property to capture this special time on camera, with this special place as the backdrop. A friend recently told me that her young son likes to look at pictures of when he was still in Mom’s belly, and I love the idea of William looking back on these images some day. I hope he sees the love and joy we had for him even before we ever held him in our arms. 🙂

So, here are some of my and Seth’s favorite shots. A few of these were on Facebook already, but most of them are “never before seen footage”. Haha!

PS–If you’re considering having your picture taken for a special event (wedding, senior, family lifestyle), I cannot recommend Marina Koslow enough. She’s based out of Bend, OR, but travels widely. She has a cool, vintage-inspired eye and, speaking of vintage, Marina is one of a growing number of photogs who are “bringing film back.” That’s right, she shoots primarily on a super nice film camera, which yields a richer, truer color result than digital. Plus, her prices are incredibly reasonable and you will not find a sweeteer person. Check out her stuff at www.marinakoslowphotography.com or like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marinakoslowphotography.

With no further ado, here are some of the last photos of the Burke Family before William John arrives!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

5 Things I Hate about Living in the Country

Today I’m writing a different kind of post than usual. Yes, living on this 30-acres is a dream come true. But it isn’t always perfectly rosy. So in the interest of full disclosure, here are the top 5 Things I Hate about Living in the Country:

  1. 5. Encountering Death—Perhaps what inspired this post was my recent encounter with a decapitated bunny rabbit in the driveway. What sick beast would catch a little cotton tail and rip off it’s head and fluffy tail, only to leave it to rot? (Winston’s disinterest in the carcass pleads his innocence, but he could be trying to fool me.) Dead mice have become a normal part of my landscape now (outside the house only…so far). Gentle Winston has twice brought me a rabbit love offering–one survived, the other did not and I had to dispose of its body. (I walked it to the field across the street and then tripped and sprained my ankle. Double grr.) Then there’s the time I was the killer–the property owner and I decided we needed to take the clutch of eggs away from one of the turkey hens who’d turned broody. I felt so terrible snatching her seven eggs which might have been growing little baby turkeys inside! And she was right to cluck and bawk angrily at me for doing so.  She and I are working on regaining trust, but it’s a long road.

This is what Turkey Hate looks like.

  1. 4. Frog Plagues—Frogs are kinda cute, when there’s just one or two of them hopping by. As a kid, I even liked to catch frogs and build them little kingdoms complete with doll furniture, lakes and rock islands. But when the frogs gather on your turf in hordes, they lose any resemblance to Prince Charming. About a dozen frogs live on the north side of our front porch. They like to take naps behind the pillows on my chairs. They like to stare up at me for minutes and then actually jump at me, like a cat wanting to get on my lap. What is up with that?! I had a  minor meltdown a few weeks back when we were having breakfast on the porch and I was “attacked” by three slippery, slimey frogs in less than five minutes. Poor Seth was aghast at his wife’s shocking display of intolerance for the harmless creatures. Maybe it’s an archetypal response passed down through the generations from when Egypt was cursed with the plague of frogs. Whatever, they’re disgusting.

  1. 3. Rattlesnakes—Okay, so I haven’t actually seen any on our property yet, but I dread the day. There’s no denying, this is rattlesnake country. Whenever I’m out walking on our trail, stepping over a rock, or entering the woodshed, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a big nasty snake there, coiled and ready to strike me with its deadly venom.

Quaint structure or Rattlesnake lair?

  1. 2. Funny Smells—Let’s just say there’s a reason chicken s**t has a bad rap—it does not smell good! And turkey poop is even worse, in my opinion. But worst of all is that our darling Winston thinks that dried up turkey turds are a tasty snack, so his breath and gas reek like hell on wings—I know, grosser than gross!!! Sorry you even had to read that, but it’s not half as bad as smelling it in your living room at night when you’re trying to relax after dinner!

  1. 1. Separation—The gas mileage it takes to get into Madras and back–let alone to Sisters or Bend where my dear family and many friends (and stores) are located–adds up fast. One weekend we spent nearly $100 on gas just for “local” excursions. Ouch! Living further away from Mom & Dad, my sister’s family, and so many wonderful friends is definitely my least favorite thing. I miss being able to step out my door and run into people we know and love. Proximity plays a big role in how much time we spend together.

After typing out these five complaints, my fingers are itching to redeem every single “con” with a dozen lovely “pros.” That’s probably because as my sister pointed out on our old blog (www.FindtheFound.org), I am a “nearly pathological optimist” who looks for the silver lining in every cloud. But this blog is more or less dedicated to celebrating what I love about life, so today we’re just gonna let it be kinda dark and stormy. Afterall, Under the Apricot is about receiving the blessing of this moment in all its “sweet-tart” glory. Maybe acknowledging the tart in life helps us appreciate the sweetness even more.  In any event, I hope you get a kick out of commiserating with me over my ick list for the day and that it didn’t leave you too depressed or grossed out. 😉

“Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil also?” Job 2:10