Tag Archives: family

Life is Sorta Like a Distance Run


I’m going to run the Eugene Marathon on April 28, 2013.  It’s everything and it’s nothing.

Seems like everyone and their mother is running a marathon these days, so really it’s nothing.  26.2 miles is an arbitrary number, a strange line to draw in the sand and run towards.  There are a thousand reasons not to run a marathon and I’ve thought of them all.  I mean, people poop themselves while running marathons and keep running.  I have seen it with my own two (subsequently scarred) eyes.  Clearly marathoners are not right in the head.

But it’s everything.  2012 was a good year but also a really tough one.  I am choosing to run this particular race to declare that I can rise victorious over anything life chooses to throw at me.

Distance running provides a very relevant metaphor for life.   I think that is why I am drawn to the sport and to other runners.

Maybe you can’t understand it unless you’ve pushed your legs and lungs through mile 13, then 14, and then up that long, steep hill of mile 15, then when you think you must stop or you will die, you find it in you to put one foot in front of another for hill and another mile.  It hurts and you can quit at any moment but you make a choice to keep going.  There is so much beauty despite all the pain though.  You can see views of the whole valley at the top of that steep hill, the clouds parting just for a moment to let the sun shine through as though to impart God’s glory to the world.  You speed on the downhills, splashing through mud puddles on the trail like you did as a carefree kid.  You see sunrises while the rest of the world still sleeps, fog freezing on your hair and gloves,  horses cantering along the fence lines of grassy paddocks in the mist.

Isn’t life just like that?  Life doubles up and punches you in the gut sometimes and you just KNOW you can’t go on.  Many of us don’t.  But those who do go on are the ones who also get to experience the beauty that life also has to offer: another vermillion sunrise, a perfectly roasted cup of coffee, laughing at your friend dancing in a gorilla suit.  It’s worth it.  It’s worth pushing through.

But you can’t go it alone.  Just as you need friends and family to make it easier to bear through life’s heartbreaks and challenges, it would be really hard to run the distances alone.  The only reason I keep putting one foot in front of another (and signing up for these crazy races) is because I run with a group of friends who encourage me that I can do it and they run the miles with me.  Inner strength and physical strength sometimes aren’t enough.  We need others to come alongside and encourage us.  I’m glad I have a family who taught me resilience through their example, and running friends who show me that I won’t die if I run around the whole town of Corvallis twice before having my morning cup of coffee.

So, I will be running the Eugene Marathon on April 28 because I ran 16 miles two weeks ago and I ran 18 miles yesterday and I’m just gonna keep going. Life is tough but I’m tougher.  

And I hereby publicly promise to find a Port-a-Potty rather than keep running, should the need arise. I’m not that crazy, people.



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Can you Jump-Rope Better Than a 5th Grader?

This is the blog post in which I demonstrate that I have no business being anywhere near a game of jump rope.  I’ll blame that on a crippling lack of playground skills, which clearly affects my adulthood.  Homeschoolers R Special!

The preface to this story is that Keith and I up and left our farm for two weeks in the hands of two very capable young men.  They have the added quality of being a little strange…which makes them all the more endearing.

Exhibit A:

My brother, Ethan

Exhibit B:

Our friend, Cameron. With a bucket of guts, natch.

With the farm in good hands, we betook ourselves to the sunny land of the Dominican Republic where January doesn’t exist.  It was so good.  We ate amazing food and spent time with great people.

Here are a few stories for your enjoyment…

I tried to be “cool Aunt Raquel” and brought my friends’ three-year-old a ballerina tutu for Christmas.  It didn’t go down like I planned.  First she laughed hysterically at the stupid skirt.  Then she finally tried it on and took a couple test spins – prima ballerina style.  Next thing you know, she’d twirled herself dizzy and fell off the steps.  Cue the black eye and split forehead.  Back to the drawing board for Christmas 2011.

Valery, right before she cracked her head open

You would not believe the sound systems people install in their vehicles in this country. For the most part, they’re pretty great systems too, despite the fact that Dominicans have this habit of turning up the music to the point of distortion and then just a little more.  You don’t need those eardrums, do you?    This beats all though:  a minivan, with a pimpin’ sound system taking up the whole back.   Eat your heart out, soccer moms!

If this came standard, I might just buy a minivan.

As seen during my daily jaunts through town:  the Dominican Egg-Delivery Vehicle.  I need me one of these little truck things for my Portland deliveries.  This would be okay on I-5, right?

Just imagine the repercussions of a collision!

And now to the part of the blog you’ve been waiting for.  I present to you, Myself, running in circles and clearly not understanding the rules of the game.


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After a huge Thanksgiving feast, while you still have 6 pies left in your fridge, what better activity to do than to throw a chocolate party? After all, one can never have too much dessert!


So, I called up all my girlfriends and tempted them with chocolate martinis and decadent chocolate fountains, and big surprise: they showed up!

The men in their lives were pretty bummed about not being invited. That was a twist I didn’t expect. Some of them even came anyway, but Danae deftly removed them from the premises.

Just look at that chocolate fountain!  You really can’t blame the guys for wanting to crash the party.

I am so lucky to have such great girlfriends.  Some I’ve known for forever, like Danae. (Some days I’m still nostalgic for the time before we met, when I used to get all the attention. Those were the days, and they ain’t never coming back.)  Some are bestest buds from my college days.  And some are fashionable farmers who share my love for piglets and the Pearl District.  And many others have wisely refrained from starting blogs, so I can’t publically call them out.   But I love ’em.

Even if I have to bribe them with chocolate in order to get them to visit me.

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Walking in Memphis

We just got back from a 5 day trip to Memphis to see mi madre.

She likes to do little things in her spare time, like get her Masters degree.

Congratulations Mom!

Congratulations Mom!

We did 1,000,000,000,001 fun things while in The River City.  Most importantly, we ate lots of BBQ ribs and fried food.

The best was going out on Beale Street on Wednesday night, to hear the B.B. King All Stars play.

B.B. Kings Club on Beale Street

B.B. Kings Club on Beale Street

My two handsome guys had me out on the dance floor all night long.  Turns out my little brother has many extraordinary talents, not the least of which is night-club dancing.

Making Ethan look good

Making Ethan look good

My family is so great.   I love ’em.

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My sister and brother-in-law have a dog with an unhealthy obsession. Kiefer is crazy about tennis balls.

See, he looks like a relatively normal dachshund.

He will run after that tennis ball for as long as you can stand to chuck it.

But, please.  Never chuck it into the hedge.  Or into the neighbor’s yard.   Or anywhere that Kiefer can’t access it.

Because the obsession will take hold and Kiefer will pine for that ball like it was the last tennis ball on the planet.


Case in point:  last time we had a BBQ at Danae and Andrew’s house, someone unwittingly threw the tennis ball into the arborvitae.

Bad, bad, bad idea.

Kiefer required 4 people to search high and low through the bushes to find the ball.

See him hopping around encouragingly?  Obsessed, I tell you.


We tried offering the Kiefer another ball, but he would have none of it.  He only wanted The Lost Tennis Ball.  Even the neighbor on the other side of the hedge came out to help look for the ball.

It took about a half hour to find it.  Danae and Andrew are really patient people.

I think they will get an extra jewel in their crowns in heaven for having to search through spiderwebs in the arborvitae for a  tennis ball.


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(Almost) a Quarter-Century

In 6 days, I’ll be 25 years old.  25!  Now I can start having quarter-life crises (or maybe I already had one, and that’s why I’m abandoning conventionality and starting a farm). Now I can rent cars.  Now I can get a cheaper rate on my car insurance, ’cause now I’m all kinds of responsible.  Now I can look up from my book and see 30 looming in my face.  Aaaghh!

The best thing that has happened to me so far (and I haven’t even had my birthday yet), are the big packages that keep arriving on my doorstep from my Mommy.  In the first one, I got this:

Photo 81

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, by Lynley Dodd!  This was one of the best children’s books I had, growing up  in New Zealand!

The next package contained these:

Photo 83

Family Friendly Farming and Salad Bar Beef, by Joel Salatin

And more adventures of Hairy Maclary in Slinky Malinki and Hairy Maclary Scattercat.

And this:

Photo 86

You Can Farm by Joel Salatin.    Complete with yours truly in a cowboy hat and a sundress.  Quintessential me.

And last, but not least:

Photo 84

The Good Neighbors!!  Remember them?!

Thanks Mom!  Also, thanks for taking all those daily walks, abstaining from coffee and chocolate chip cookies, and devouring all those What to Expect when You’re Expecting books 25 years ago.  It must have worked, cuz I’m still alive to see a quarter of a century.

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This past weekend saw more than 75 people descend on the little town of Lakeview, Oregon.  They traveled from five different states, and represented more than fifteen cities.  What they all had in common was relation to that handsome man in the cowboy hat:  my maternal grandfather, Russell Mike Dillavou.

Grandad raised eight kids in Lakeview, hence the quantity of nieces, nephews, cousins, and grandkids running around today.  He lived in Lakeview pretty much his whole life, and was a cattle rancher through and through.

I like to think I have a little bit of Grandad’s ranching blood running through my veins.  I know that as a kid, I would have given my left arm to ride around with Grandad in his beat-up Dodge pickup and watch him work cattle from his four-wheeler or his quarter horse.   But he was a gruff man of few words, who took a serious outlook on ranch work.  I was always to shy to ask him to let me tag along, being a pony-tailed girl from a beach town, who thought horses were buddies not just strictly work animals. But I hope he’d be proud if he knew that his granddaughter was planning on running beef cattle for a living, even if I do plan to let my farm dog sleep in the house once in a while!


[me as a baby cowgirl, chillin’ with grandad]

Everyone in Lakeview recognized Grandad as he drove around town with his border collie sitting proudly on the top rack of his well-worn ’86 Dodge Ram pickup truck.  A lot of my childhood memories are of meeting him at a local diner for breakfast or lunch, his pickup parked out front and his dog waiting patiently.  Great-uncle Donny told me that he’d often pass Grandad on the highway, and they’d pull out their CB radios and greet one another.


Since Grandad passed away a few years ago, Uncle Max has had that old Dodge pickup parked in his back field.  I just happen to be in need of a good, strong, farm pickup, and so I asked him if he’d be willing to let me have it.   It needs a little work done, but I’m excited to say that I’ll soon be the proud new owner of Grandad’s ’86 Dodge Ram.   It even has a steel rack  and cage that Grandad installed in the bed and over the cab.  (A gun rack too.  Watch out Corvallis!)

I can’t wait to be driving that pickup on my own farm.  Hopefully I’ll soak up a little ranch knowledge from the seats of that old Dodge.


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