Tag Archives: Friends

Life is Sorta Like a Distance Run

speedrunner

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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A Day in the Life of a Farmer (Winter Edition) – Monday

7:30 : Up and out of bed.  I make a pot of coffee and Keith does a few loads of laundry.

8:30 : Keith heads to work and I work on this blog.

9:30 : The bank is now open, so I head down there and get a cashier’s check for the car purchase.  I run a few errands around town and then head home.

12:00 : My friend Jessie and her daughter E come pick me up.  They are giving me a ride to Monmouth so that I can get the car.  It’s about an hour drive to Monmouth.  E has had a lot of questions about God and Jesus lately, so Jessie asked me to try to answer some of them for her.  The questions were heavy-duty ones for a six year old.  She munched noisily on her carrot sticks in her car seat while I fumbled to answer.

  • When did Jesus’ spirit leave his body after crucifixion?
  • Why do Christians have a problem with gay people?
  • Do you like this cross I just made with my carrot sticks?
  • Why was there a stone across Jesus’ grave?  Why wasn’t it called a boulder?  That would make more sense, Rachel.
  • What does a Bible look like?  Does it have pictures?

God_question_sand8x6

I think next time we will talk about theology during a hike or long walk.  Doesn’t it seem easier to think about God while you’re out in nature?  I think E and I both had trouble wrapping our minds around some of the concepts we were discussing, while being strapped into a car hurtling down the highway at 60 mph.  She apologized later for being wiggly.  I felt kind of wiggly too.  Sometimes I have as many questions about God as she does, and often they’re the same ones.

1:00 : We arrive in Monmouth and exchange payment for keys and title to a snappy ’06 Ford Freestyle. (Fitting car name for a former competitive swimmer, don’t you think?!)  I’m pretty stoked at owning a car that was made in the last six years.  Keith and I have a big aversion to debt, so we save and invest most of our income.  We’ve been driving our paid-off cars since freshman year of college in 2002 and they weren’t new then.

I’m all kinds of impressed by the little features of this new vehicle:  automatic locks and windows!  a keychain button to unlock the doors!  adjustable lumbar support! bluetooth built-in!  interior lights that actually come on when you open the door!  headlights that light up the road even on dim setting!  Doesn’t take much to impress the Pricketts.  We think we’re fancy folks now.

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E tries out all the configurations of the seats and cargo area before we leave the seller’s driveway. They all fold up and down and inside out.  It’s like a transformer – one minute you’ve got seats for 6 and then you pull Tab 1 and Tab 2, and you’ve got cargo space for miles .  E thinks it’s the best car she’s ever seen and approves greatly of my purchase.  She tries to get her mother to trade their newer model Subaru Outback for our Freestyle.  I was hopeful, but there was no deal.  Jessie is smart.

2:00 : Jessie, E and I decide to go have a celebratory late lunch.  We end up at J’s Grill in Monmouth and  we all order whopping big baked potatoes with cheese and broccoli.

3:00 : We all head back to the farm and the girls help me collect eggs, feed the chickens and the cows.  We work with Fritz to repair a fence that broke when he hit it with the tractor earlier in the day.  It’s kind of a two-person job to pull smooth wire with a fence stretcher.

I go inside and chat with Beverly for a little while.  I invite her to join us for dinner tomorrow night.  She is such a good cook and invites us to dinner so often that I like to try to return the favor once in a while.

5:00 : Jessie and I hang out in the farm driveway and talk while E scrambles around in the car trying out all the seat configurations once more.

5:30 : I head home, drop the mutt off and drive to Safeway for almond roca ingredients.  I have been making almond roca every Christmas without fail since I was in middle school.  My mom made it every year until I took over.  It’s my favorite candy in the entire world and I could eat it til my teeth fell out.  It’s best to get this stuff out of your house as quickly as possible, but I rarely abide by that wisdom.  Here’s the recipe, because I love ya so much:   ALMOND ROCA RECIPE

6:00: Home from the store.  I make myself a homemade Yumm bowl.  You’ve got to have real Yumm sauce for this, but other than that it’s so easy:  rice, black beans, salsa, cilantro, cheese and a dollop of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.  Keith is eating dinner with his coworkers at Big River.  They are in training for developing their latest top-secret, super-dooper-cool electronic products all week, and are getting catered breakfast and lunch every day  and the occasional dinner out.

I clean the whole kitchen. I can’t cook in a cluttered space – it makes me feel crazy.  Then I pour myself a glass of wine and begin whipping up the first batch of Roca.  The whole house is soon filled with the delicious smell of warm butter and sugar.

Roca, pre-chocolate stage

Roca, pre-chocolate stage

8:00 : Keith gets home and admires the new car in our driveway.  He has brought all the frozen lamb over from our chest freezer at the farm and we go through it, picking out cuts of lamb to thaw for this week’s meals. Somehow I am missing all the roasts…they must have fallen out of the bag into the freezer depths.  So I pick out a beef roast to thaw for our dinner guests tomorrow night instead.  Not quite as exotic but still delicious on a winter night.

I finish up making the almond roca and leave it to cool on the countertop.  It probably won’t be ready to eat til tomorrow.  Agh, the agony of waiting!

11:00 : Bed, Fred.

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Deluge 2012

This is so 2 weeks ago, but I’m still having the occasional nightmares about my house being full of water.  Clearly I have PTSD due to the Great Mary’s River Flood of 2012.   Clearly the only therapy is to deposit a bunch of pictures and video on my blog to make myself feel better.

Here goes.

photo courtesy of Andy Cripe | Corvallis Gazette-Times

The Mary’s River went over its banks on January 18 and began a small diversion through our field that morning.   La-de-da, thought I, and I carried on with my usual Wednesday delivery route to Eugene and Corvallis stores.   Around 2 pm, I began receiving frantic messages from friends saying, “The river is continuing to rise and your chickens are in danger!”   I stopped lolly-gagging around, and went home to discover that the water was so high I couldn’t reach the farm from my house.   A soberness had settled over the neighborhood.  This was big and it was starting to get scary.  I walked around the block the long way only to find a line of pickup trucks and horse trailers pulling up in front of the horse-boarding facility near us.  Folks were evacuating horses through chest-deep water and trying to load the poor, frightened beasts into trailers.  The stress was almost palpable. I watched the scene while I repeatedly dialed my friend Lisa to bring a tractor from the farm and ferry me across the road.  Finally, she picked up and I waited for what seemed an interminable length of time as she carefully drove the tractor through water that was steadily rising on Chapel Drive.

At some point, I called Keith and told him that he’d better come home from work soon, or he wouldn’t be able to navigate the roads.  He left Marvell immediately and we both set to work loading hens into the Eggmobiles.  We had to head for higher ground and to do that, we had to hitch the hen house to the tractor and drive it through rushing water that was over 3 feet deep and rising quickly.   It was dark and cold by the time we carefully towed the last Eggmobile across the water.  The amount of dry land was decreasing before our very eyes and I really didn’t know if our chickens would be safe overnight.

We took the tractor home that night, as 13th Street was now a torrent of river water.  Around 11 pm, we went back to the farm to check on the chickens and could see that the water was now beginning to cover all remaining dry ground.  We put in another hour of work bringing poultry crates for the birds to perch on.  Surely the flooding would stop by morning, right?  Surely this effort would be enough.

By the time morning arrived, we had water lapping up our driveway on 13th Street.  Up and down the street we could see our neighbors standing stunned in their yards.  No one would be going to work that day.  As we fired up the bright orange Kubota, people called out their best wishes and let us know they could come help us at the farm if need be.  I wanted to savor that moment – the disruption of our daily lives meant neighbors noticed one anothers’ faces, not just their make of car or how late they’d left their Christmas lights up.

I usually feel so self-sufficient.  I don’t like asking for help, but when we saw the situation at the farm, I knew we had to waste no time in calling our neighbors.  Our chickens were literally inches away from complete deluge and the water was still rising!  Thank God for Kubota tractors and helping hands.  We had moved 500 hens from the hoophouse to the old stationary hen house in record time, though we had to wade through knee deep water to do it.   Finally we could breathe a sigh of relief – the chickens were crowded but alive.  Water was entering the hen house, but there were roosts that would afford the birds some safety.

Our attention turned on the dairy cows and the 2 week old baby calf, which were standing in 6 inches of water in the barn by that time. With help from some friends, we created a diversion for the water so it reduce the flow to about an inch in the loafing shed.  It was better than nothing and the cows seemed content enough.

We had sandbags brought in via tractor and pickup and began defending Beverly’s antique shop.  Water had already started lapping at the walls and was beginning its steady march across the floors.  Lisa’s quick thinking got most of the valuable antiques up off the floor and onto card tables before any damage was done.

It goes without saying that this day was exceedingly exhausting, mentally and physically.   Not only did we work frantically from dawn til nightfall, but we had so much on our minds.  While the farm was flooding, our home just up the street was also getting inundated.   Fortunately, it was built on a flood plain foundation, so no water entered the house, but we definitely had a river running through the crawlspace!

The funny thing is, just because you have a crisis going on the animals don’t stop laying eggs or producing milk or needing to be fed.  I have this surreal memory of wading into the flooded barn and opening the door to the milk parlor to see Lisa up to her knees in brown water, busily milking the cows.  Our eyes met and we shared a moment of silent disbelief at the strangeness of the  scene, then I closed the door and went back to work.

We had to take the tractor out to the Eggmobiles to do chores.  It’s a little hard to deliver feed and carry full egg baskets in 1+ feet of water.  (Plus, you wouldn’t believe the strength of the current.   I almost got knocked over a few times!)

We decided to stay at the farm that night.  Since our house wasn’t in serious danger, we weren’t exactly evacuating, but it felt like it.  Everything important went in one Nike duffel bag and Keith, Emmie and I left our home in the cab of a tractor.  We didn’t know if we’d be able to make it back up the road if the water got any deeper, so it was necessary to be closer to the animals.

Shortly, night fell and there was no more to be done except wait it out.  My nerves felt like they were on fire, like all the adrenaline from the last 24 hours was still pumping through my body.  We were all worn out, but we couldn’t sit still.  Besides, we were crazy hungry from all that hard work, so we got to work making a huge dinner with our very own grass-fed beef (yes, Keith packed frozen packages of beef in our duffel bag!) and locally grown butternut squash. Lisa brought up a very-much-deserved bottle of wine from Fritz & Beverly’s wine cellar and we dined like Kings and Queens.  That right there is what I love about this farm life I’ve chosen.  We work so very hard but at the end of even the hardest days, we sit down to the very best meals and we are often surrounded by friends.   I really can’t think of anything more satisfying!

Did I mention that Fritz and Beverly (who own the farm) were on vacation in Arizona during all of this?   They were frustratingly unperturbed by our anxious calls about their home and property flooding.  I can’t much blame them…they were soaking up the Arizona sunshine and I probably wouldn’t have cared about a little Oregon rain either.  I guess they knew their place was in capable hands and didn’t begrudge us a couple bottles of wine around their fireplace that night.

I feel a kinship with Noah (of the Ark experience) now, for when I looked out the upstairs window the next morning, there were spots of green where before only water had stood.  I sent out my dog (lacking a dove) to scout around and behold, she returned with her beloved flat basketball! At that point, we knew: it was safe to let the poor, crowded hens out of their house to roam around on dry land.

It wasn’t long before the water had gone down enough for us to begin the clean-up process.  Our perimeter fence along Chapel Drive is almost entirely destroyed, due to the odd assortment of trashcans and wood pallets that were driven through it.  All the outbuildings had thick sediment all over and we had a lot of pressure-washing to do.  But all of that doesn’t really matter too much.  The big things were okay:  houses, animals and us.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who came down to the farm and stacked sandbags, brought food/drinking water, moved chickens, and wielded a pitchfork or pressure-washer gun. The outcome of this story might not have been so good without the support from our many generous friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

More videos can be found on my YouTube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/latiguera884/videos

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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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Farm Tours – kid version

One of the most rewarding parts of owning a farm is sharing the experience with other people.   Views like these are too good to be kept to oneself.

the farm at sunrise

The biggest attractant, though, is not the view but the fuzzy baby chicks in our brooder.  With batches of broiler and layer chicks arriving every four weeks, we have a constant supply of cuteness.  No matter how ungainly these birds will look in a few weeks, as day-old babies they bring out the  child in all of us.

After all, aren’t baby chicks what a farm is all about?

fluffy chicks

Many of my friends bring their kids out to the farm to see the baby chicks and to feed the laying hens.  The chickens are just the right size for a child to approach. There is nothing more adorable than seeing a little 2 year old girl in a plaid dress, hand-feeding chickens in a pasture. Heart-melting adorable, I’m telling you.

Know what else is adorable? These:

Kid's drawings - the price of admission for a farm tour

The last few kids who have come to visit the baby chicks have each brought me pictures and letters. One sweet little blonde first grader even brought Chocolate Banana Braed, as mentioned above.   Her note was written in blueberry-scented Mr. Sketch marker too…she gets extra points for that!

I’ve decided that the new price of admission for a farm tour is a hand-painted picture. Disney character drawings merit extra special farm tour priveleges.   I wouldn’t turn down a loaf of Chocolate Banana Braed, either.  That stuff was good.

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Chocolate

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!

Right?

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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The Trailerhood

You know you’re a redneck when you own a couple of chicken coops on wheels that you refer to as the “Trailerhood”.

As in, “The trailerhood, the trailerhood, ain’t nobody doin’ what they should, way down yonder in the trailerhood…”

Josh Turner, anyone?  Anyone?  Tell me you’ve heard that man’s heart-melting baritone. Go buy the album. Now.

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Josh Turner

Ok, back to the story.

The inherent redneck-ness of owning a Trailerhood becomes evident when necessity forces you to move the Trailerhood from one property to another.

Eggmobile Travel

just your everyday morning commute

Through town and down the highway.  That’s right.  We trucked those gleaming beauties full of chickens across town to a place where there is less mud and less chance of getting my pickup stuck while collecting eggs this winter.

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good morning, Philomath!

That place is my backyard.  My five acre backyard, as a matter of fact, which is a great place for chickens.  I’m still not sure about the fact that the first sight out my bedroom window now is the Trailerhood.  I used to see deer frolicking in the long grass every morning.  Now I see chickens frolicking.  This will take a little getting used to.

I owe special thanks to Tyler for lending us his incredible chicken-transporting skills.  It’s a true friend that will help you move your Trailerhood at 7:30 in the morning.

 

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