Eulogy Postponed

And the miracle of today

Neighborhood Beautification

While working in the front the other day, one of the neighbors happened to be passing by and stopped to chat. They were asking about the status of the house, when I’m moving in, what in the heck am I doing out in the yard anyways?

What the heck am I doing?

Beautifying the neighborhood of course! At the rate we are moving, the old house might actually look livable by the time the papers are in order. What if the current owners had done all this before deciding to sell? Good thing they are out of the country or they might change their mind and say there is a real, actual dwelling place on the property and increase the value!


So. Where were we before the 40 foot dumpster full of junk, some recycling [some because there wasn’t much, not because we weren’t trying to recycle] and many, many, many fires to incinerate what toxic waste was burnable and perhaps not literally toxic?

I love going to estate sales where you can see the things that a person made their life with. That peek behind closed doors. Well this felt like a strange glimpse into the trash heap left behind after an evacuation. I want to tell myself they had many much nice things that they took with them and that they did not live their everyday days behind the doors we opened.


Brace yourself. If you don’t like the show hoarders or the reality of a homestead heritage being neglected to the point of degeneration, turn your eyes away now.

The Downstairs:

Like I said, looking like it might have been lived in and vacant for decades… except it was lived in this time last year. Maybe it was the party house and my definition of partying is significantly different. I mean Manwich for dinner with an icy glace for dessert and smiles enough for everyone- what’s not to love!

And so it goes, all through the house.


Just make sure you don’t pick up the wrong bottle. Yes, I do believe that to be a new kind of Crystal Geyser. The kind filtered through human kidneys.

The upstairs only has only one crazy bat to be found seeking residence:

Outside? Most everyone who knows where the house is has been well aware of the former tenants abilities with grounds keeping and yard maintenance. I am happy to report the lawn has had approximately 84.2% of the trash removed and the lawn has been mowed. Nearly all of the trash has been hauled away. What remains is buildings and piles of recyclables and lots of potential!

What the heck am I doing anyways? Home ownership is exceptionally more exciting and overwhelming than I had ever imagined! Is this the way everyone feels when they look at a place they are considering making their forever home? Is this the way that first family felt when they looked at that porch? Were they thinking about the future generations that would be caring for that garden? Did they plant that orchard as an investment for their kids’ kids’ kids? Did they have as much hope for that house as I do?


Outside, we have piles of junk that were abandoned. Then they were sifted through by countless “volunteers” that surely came by to help out by removing stuff. In a way, I’m thankful there’s less stuff. In a way, having anything of value gone depletes what was never going to be a grand opinion of the people that lived there. In a way, I wish I could have seen EVERYTHING that they’d abandoned. You know, to get the whole picture. Maybe just to reassure myself there was more to the story than just the stuff that rolls my stomach. Maybe? Maybe I’m just fascinated by people? Maybe it’s just a little grotesque. But seriously! Don’t you kinda wanna know? Who were these people?!

Oh how I love that Kubota! And fires. And a good chainsaw. And a trusty weed-eater. And that tractor. And that 30 foot dumpster. And my mom and little brother for all their help. And all the people who have offered their support. And my dad for all the equipment he has loaned me, his knowledge, his experience, his suggestions, his un-admitted excitement for all that will be on Maggie’s old farm. And most especially…. that sweet little orange tractor! *sigh* The ‘Bota! :]

It has been amazing to see the clouds of rubbish begin to part and the shadowy remnants of what was once the pride and joy of a family wanting to start their own forever home. Looking at where things are now only amplifies the contrast and makes me all the more determined that there is something amazing to be salvaged here! Then to add to that the fact that the original owners loved and cared for this place as the foundation upon which they were building a new life for themselves and their families. How awesome! Add to that the fact that my great grandparents loved and cared for this place and gave their daughter Madeline her forever home. Then to add the memories of great-aunt Maggie loving and caring for so many people on that front porch, in that garden, and around her orchard- that’s simply icing on the cake! [More accurately mustard on the hamburger for those of us that don’t like cake. And who understand there have been very few cakes ever made that would compete in any way with a farm hamburger. Somehow, I don’t see it becoming a common turn of phrase.]


Am I supposed to say something here about loving the Ford for removing the first load of trash?… Oh, I love that dump trailer a whole bunch, too! :]

Now that I’ve shared all the gross-ness, here’s where one would want to see the AFTER photos, right? Prepare yourself…

Realistically I have tried taking pictures of the transformation and it’s like trying to describe the mountaintop view with a panoramic photo. It’s a nice attempt at sharing something that is only understood when experienced. [Or like trying to describe that real mustard on a real hamburger experience. If you know what I’m saying, you know. If you don’t, we need to have a serious conversation.]

It’s pretty extraordinary! And I don’t have any photos to share just yet. Mostly because I don’t have the photos uploaded. Partially to entice you to come check it out! And make sure to stop on the road by the mailbox to say ‘Hello!’ if you see someone in the garden!


Please come visit! Informally, I have been spreading the hope of having a First Saturday Potluck on the farm each and every month. Working as necessary. Hanging out with awesome people as mandatory. Formally, the property is still not owned by anyone in the family. Still waiting for the official finalization of documents and contracts and business-y things that seem too simple to still be holding things up.

While the first First Saturday Potluck cannot be announced just yet and there appears to be rain on the forecast. What the heck? Why don’t you just drive out there yourself?


Oregon Fever

And no, I’m not referring to Jonah’s passion for protecting his new home, although his aggression towards anyone that happens to find themselves at the house is concerning.


And yet so refined.

What’s new, you ask? Well, other than a part time job, getting the flu twice, becoming a CASA volunteer, the Teen Center being one step closer to opening their doors in Stayton, getting the flu again, starting all the garden seedlings (yay tomatoes!!!), mom got bummer lambs, having it snow just this morning as if Spring wasn’t a real thing yet, some bonfires, the filberts growing up bigger and stronger every day, and earning enough to pay off a significant chunk of my student loan just in time to consider taking on a mortgage. Yay!

Other than that — just a super cool trip to the County. No, not the County Jail… I’ve changed my ways, it’s in the past! Dad and I went and looked through books that are older than anyone alive on earth! I’ve always been appreciative of old times heritage and tradition. I love imagining how excited people were 150+ years ago as they were recording these things in those books with the dog eared pages and careful penmanship. And then to imagine that I will be contributing to this heritage. Participating in this lineage. Whats new is that my paternal family homestead will be coming back into the family! Is that so cool?!?! Home ownership– yeah! So we went to the county to ask about land use and fees yada, yada, yada. But then! She says “Are you going to trace the purchase records?” So we went upstairs to the old, old books and got to play detectives. It was AWESOME!!!

The current owners purchased it from my great aunt Maggie. She lived there almost her entire life, caring for her parents, Anton and Anna, from 1921 until they passed away in the 1950s and then living out the remainder of her life in that house. In THIS house:


Home sweet homestead.

Okay, calm down! YES! It’s really, tremendously exciting that we know the names of every person who had their name on the title of this one piece of dirt and that my name could be added to the annals of history. The thought has you squirming in your toe socks, I can tell. The really fun part, for me, was when I read that Great-Great-Grandpa Anton and Great-Great-Grandma Anna first bought the farm in 1921. Great aunt Maggie would have been 13 years old when the family moved from a few miles away to this house. That was nearly a century ago! So cool!

We were at the County records office almost until they closed their doors for the night. It was so interesting! And we learned lots from the folks working there- they were great! Oregon became a territory in 1848. In 1850 there was the Donation Land Claim Act when you could go get yourself 320 acres just by showing up and saying you wanted it. Just go find a nice view and sign some papers and it was yours? Sure, why not. Then there was the Oregon Homestead Act was in 1962 and gave any [free] person the ability to claim 160 acres of land that you had to live on and develop in the next 5 years. Not quite sure what the difference between the two. So maybe there were a few guys who took the initial Act and scooped up more than their share and just turned around and sold it? So the government said, “Not quite so much land this time” and added the part about actually living there. I dunno.

Can you imagine the president just handing out land to whoever wanted to have some? Much less handing it out in square mile chunks? That definitely would have caused a severe wave of Oregon Fever (defined by the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center as: a desire to migrate to Oregon Territory during the mid-19th century, for its rich soil and healthful climate. I think I got a real bad case!)! I don’t remember that part. Heck, oxen, salt pork, and caulking and floating the wagon is about all I know about the Oregon Trail.


The original 1873 claim made by John Bilyeu and his wife Nancy.

After John and Nancy got it for free, build a house, then they sold it a few years later. Then a few years later. And a few years later. No one kept their hands on it too, too long until half a dozen sales later when Great-Great Grandpa & Grandma got their names on it and then it was in the family from 1921 until 2008. Now 2018 and the opportunity to bring it back again! As if the dirt on a specific geographic location with arbitrary gridlines drawn around it decades ago could have huge significance and meaning and memory or something.

The County records show that the house was built in 1875 (2 years after originally purchased by John & Nancy Bilyeu) yet it also notes an “effective year built” date as 1921. So we’re thinking that after the Great-Great-G’s bought it, they added the bathroom and back porch, then the County inspected. With such modern conveniences as a “lavatory” no one could deny this was a more modern house!


Seeing all those old names. Learning the house could be coming up on 150 years old. Finding out there could be grant money and leniency on building codes if it is registered as a Historical site. But wait. My favorite thing– The date that the Great-Great G’s originally bought this land and house and moved their family onto this 120 acres? It was the same date on which, 65 years later I was born! I mean I always felt like this was an answer to prayers, except now I realize I’d had it backwards. It wasn’t God granting me a wish, it was just me finally coming around to God’s plans that He has had for me since before I was ever here. Kinda makes me feel like a tiny little piece of a big giant thing going on here. It is awesome to be so loved! So freaking cool!

Who knew not going to India could be so much fun!

All that really exciting stuff on one side. The other side of the coin is not so pretty. The house is in total disrepair. The ten years between when Maggie lived there and now were years of degeneration and disrepair. There may never have been much of a foundation, yet if it’s lasted this long, it can’t be all bad. The roof has been improved, yet is not as structurally sound as one would want before living under said roof. It would have to be taken down to the studs, they tell me. Yet it they’re trying to say it like it’s a bad thing, maybe they should clarify what sort of studs they are talking about– a tall, dark, handsome stud for me please!


Sleeping off his Oregon Fever? Or just exhausted from being such a stud!

New septic system, new electrical, duh, and that lavatory definitely needs new plumbing underneath. And that’s not even to mention the permits, fees, license, and minor details I don’t ever think about. Big stuff in the works and my Oregon Fever just keeps getting worse! Nothing is final just yet. We are all pretty excited about what has been happening and are looking forward to getting the last things in order in these next few weeks. And then Jonah might have a new home porch to guard! Too bad it doesn’t have comfy chairs like his current porch does…

So grateful for family heritage. So blessed to be in Oregon. So hopeful…




The last of the summer days with the fire haze.

Oh where to start! I realize that it has been nearly 6 months since we last met. How have you been? Where did you go this summer? What are you doing now? Can we hang out?

Those first few minutes when you see an old friend and you’re supposed to do the catching up thing and it’s all superficial and you part ways before actually saying anything…. Let’s not do that.


Jonah is doing awesomely great! I love him, even though his favorite place to be is in mom’s compost pile. Which can make him a bit stinky. Like a happy farm dog :] He is so tender hearted and smart and willing to help. Now that he knows this is home, he’s also VERY protective. He’s my Jonah and I’m so happy that we have found each other!


I am living with a mob of wild brumbies:


3rd grade, 1st grade, preschool, toddler, and one on the way. Absolutely adorable!

Families like this are one of the greatest thing to happen to the world. My world and yours. And theirs? There is so much joy and love and constant surprises within this house! What had started as a short term invitation… They are going to have to build a bigger house for more kids cuz I don’t want to even think of leaving!

Youth Ministry Coordinator for the Santiam Canyon Vicariate is more coordination and less challenge than I was dreaming it would be. An update another 6 months from now and it will be a new job, too! The youths are absolutely wonderful. I’m inspired to learn and grow alongside of them each day. This week’s lesson: since we each only have a limited amount of time- how are you spending yours? Spending being defined as ‘to use up, pay out, consume, exhaust, wear out’ as opposed to wasted. Each of us having unique things that make us uniquely happy, why waste your time on anything other than what you were made to do? When will you choose to spend your time on happiness?

On a side note, I don’t remember if I mentioned in the last post- I am staying home and India has found another intern to transform the recovery process for those people rescued from trafficking. Send your prayers, wishes, good vibes to IJM as they persevere to fight for the rights of those without voices.

Speaking of happiness! I built a wall! Walls are so important. Especially when things are at risk of going where they shouldn’t. Things like dirt and cold air and mosquitoes. And maybe stinky dogs when they have been busy excavating and evicting mice out in the wonderful liquid sunshine! It’s his job and he’s so good at it!


He flies through the air with the greatest of ease!

The wall, back to the wall! My little brother has a dug out basement and little boys that love to run up and down the hill. This is the same hill our Grandma’s had grandkids running up and down for decades. The difference is that there were some shrubs retaining the soil that have been taken out (no more snowball bush, le sigh). Time to build a wall to make Grandma proud!

Stage one: Set the foundation

Stage one: Big rocks at the bottom. Look how nice and neat those cinder block stairs are!


They kept thinking I was finished. “I need more rocks!”

There came a moment when the rocks got too small and I mentioned that I was going to get the tractor to bring in more rocks which my dad heard and quickly delegated rock hunting to my brother and cousin who were working in the orchard. When I said bigger is better, they listened. When the Kubota started tipping over, they came back for the Challenger. It met the challenge. Bigger rocks arrived!


Stage 3: Get a bigger tractor. See Jonah in his cone there?

It was tons of fun to do this for little brother and his family. I’m excited to do another row across the top after he moves some of those plants. He was worried that I was working too hard and just couldn’t seem to understand how much satisfaction there was in meticulously placing and shaping and rearranging rocks. There’s so much more than just putting them in a row, y’all! It’s art with one of Mother Nature’s least pliable mediums that will hopefully just become more interesting as the flowerbeds develop, the moss grows, the next rock wall is added…

The garden was awesome as always! Here’s the tomato patch that’s still producing. Much, much slower than when that photo was taken. How many pounds of tomatoes were harvested? So many! The neighbors began looking at my mom as if she were threatening zucchini, and she hadn’t even planted any of those delightful curbits! 17 pints of whole tomatoes, 30 quarts and 9 pints of juice, 57 pints of various salsas, and 34 half pints of paste. There’s still two plants in there. Next year’s project will be hog panels for them to be trained on. Now accepting applications for an experienced Tomato Tamer.



It is so great to have mom’s garden thriving! I love the way her garden is overflowing with bounteous surprises and surprising bounties. The mustard that went to seed is turning into a carpet of mustard greens- quite delightful with a hamburger. The pepper plant that self seeded in the high tunnel was just about to set- maybe next year his brothers will germinate in time. Seeds were saved from the most delicious tomatoes and some from the beans, too. The compost has been spread in an attempt to smother the Red Dead Nettle (seems like a funny name for a nettle. Plant names. So interesting!). The dahlias have been dug. The cane betties have been pruned and trained. I’m pruning apple trees right now…. Which might sound like I know what I’m doing. I don’t have any idea! I just like to climb in trees and play with chainsaws. Not always at the same time :]


The brown lettuce seeded itself. Not sure it will get enough water to produce well.

And here we are! I am so excited to be on the farm, loving being back home, and am so excited to spend the life I have left right here in the garden. No more wasting time leaving the country for extended internship adventures. I can’t wait to see what happy adventures await me right here!

Next adventure: Thanksgiving and how to survive holiday insanity.


I am happy right here.


22 days after I wrote that and Mom asks if she needs to check my blog. Not since Thanksgiving I say. Nothing since this summer she says.

Apologies if they are needed. I thought I has post this. Figuring it had been too long since I last posted and that no one was interested in reading the Stay At Home Adventures and no one was interested in telling me how cute my puppy is, I guess I never thought to check! Umm… How about another update next week. First. This one needs to get to the press.

Love to all of you! Stay warm- an inversion is coming! What’s that quote? “Stand on your head and give your love to a world that’s upside down”

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