Eulogy Postponed

And the miracle of today

Archive for the category “Volunteering”



Officially accepted today!!! I am now employed by the Oregon Department of Human Services as a Child Protective Services Social Services Specialist 1. Numbers in my job title? What? Starting to turn into a machine, here. Here’s my role as a cog:

“the worker conducts child safety assessments of alleged child abuse or neglect.  Through the use of a comprehensive assessment process and the application of the Oregon Safety Model, the worker determines whether or not children are safe and whether or not abuse has occurred.  At times, this will also include making both planned and emergency decisions about child safety.  When it has been determined that children are unsafe, this position is responsible for implementing safety services which immediately control all active safety threats.  This position may also provide consultation to other agency staff about decisions involving permanent planning for children.  Assessment determinations will also identify families who have High to Moderate Needs; in these cases effective advocacy and communication is necessary to implement services, identify resources and meet family needs.”


Not excited for the situations I will be walking into but adamant that this is the job God is asking of me. Wanting to invest in my little brothers and sisters. Excited to be faithful. And passionate about advocating and caring for the children who are the victims of neglect and abuse.

This quote from NPR’s TED Radio Hour’s recent episode evinced exactly how I feel in words better than mine:

“We have to provide adequate resources to young people. Grit alone isn’t going to cut it. You can sit there and tell me all you want, hey, man, pick yourself up by the bootstraps. But if I was born without any straps on my boots, how am I supposed to pick myself up?” -Victor Rios

Why wouldn’t I want to pick them up?!

In other news, the Santiam Teen Center that is working to provide some of those needed resources for our local teens is a few short months away from opening their doors! Lots of exciting news and a few minor rocks (rocks that need ADA ramps over them. Silly technicalities!). Searching for an executive director (call 503.769.3536). Needing some big Donations. Always searching for Volunteers. And raffling off an AMAZING basket that will include tons of garden produce, beef, and everything you need for a backyard picnic (put together by yours truly!). The team is graciously opening the Teen Center building for all you prospective volunteers and donors to come check it out [and get your name in the basket for that raffle!]. July 17th, August 2nd, August 14th, and August 28th from 7:00-8:00PM at 2800 Kindle Way, Stayton, OR. Hope to see you there!


Next post will have more photos, I promise! Please send prayers, thoughts, good energy, happy vibes, wisdom, cash, jokes, beer, time (I think that means you have to come visit, riiiiiight?!) and lots of love my direction as I begin the chapter of Homeownership.


Dreams for Ma’ Land

June 22, 2018 and the homestead became “Ma’ Land!” (as Shrek would say)

All the anticipation of the past 8 months when we got the very first email. All of a sudden. Anticipation transformed into actuality. It has been Ma’ Land for two weeks and I don’t really know what to show for the time passed. That feeling at the end of a day when you’re sure you did soooomething yet you aren’t quite sure what thing if anything? Almost embarrassing! Which is probably the reality of home ownership that any of you, dear readers, could have told me- “Silly, Sarah! There will always be more to hope and dream of doing than evidence of what you’ll actually do!” You know me, just a silly dreamer! What did the contractor call me? Oh yes. Whimsical. We’ll come back to him…

I’ve got all sorts of silly dreams and no sense of direction. Give me some advice- when you moved into your home, what did you plant that you still enjoy or that brings people joy when they see it or what do you wish you had done? Where do you start if it’s going to be forever?

Let’s plant some trees. No, wait, finish cleaning up the junk. Or start tearing on the house. Wait, the lawn needs mowed. And briars to cut before they take over the entire property! Oh! And the private riverfront estate needs cleaned up. But really, the junk. No, those thistles are coming up in the garden again and are really a priority. No. No, let’s plant a tree. We’ve got the first one ready- it just needs a hole!

Okay, but wait. Really, Sarah. What do we actually need?

A place to poop! It’s not home if you don’t have a place to poop! We’re going to have a composting toilet system. Be prepared- if you come visit, you will have to use a barrel for a loo! But don’t worry about being over-prepared- you will not have to wipe with recycled newspapers.

I’ve got the hopes, the dreams, AND the plans for this one! Just need a hole? hahaha! And time to build it and maybe a contractor. I’m highly capable on the demolition end of things. Construction requires more… skill? Ability? Finesse? Measuring? Experience? Haha perhaps less silly whimsy!


Humanure! Why poop in good drinking water and then throw it all away?

This being swimming season, last week there were some cars parked at the corner by the bridge. I told the kid he was on private property. He asked whose it was. I said “Mine!” with veiled uncertainly. Is it? Really? Certainly there must be some mistake. There is so much more than land here! I’m slowly starting to tentatively call this house and plot on the map my place. There is something so odd about owning land. Arbitrary lines and notions of possession and exchange over something we really have no way of controlling. Yet the way it feels to have the duty of caring for these 27.15 acres is….. HUGE! That’s all I’ve got to describe it. It’s just bigger than big, huge.



Hopes and dreams for the house

Jerry Smith Contracting. If he can call me whimsical, I think I can call him… Ooo. What would you call him? Loud? Skilled and seemingly very qualified. Proud of the work he can do and passionate about working. Self-contradicting? A walking encyclopedia of all things contracting yet not a source I’m confident is accurate. Is he telling me what would be awesome or what is accurate and realistic? He came out on Friday after having been pushing to start working for the past several weeks. He came out and I told him I didn’t have a job and he slowed down a whole lot! We’re looking at starting in April when he will have the whole Spring to work, Summer if necessary. Not going to take out a loan to fix it up. God willing there will be expendable income at that point. Heaps of it! Holes filled with it! Grad school paid off with it! Cuz miracles do happen!

Like the miracle of me remembering to take photos of the deer I’m “growing” in the garden to have to add to a blog post?

Like how it will be a miracle if I hear back from the state about the job they’re giving me working for Child Protective Services. Youth ministry is finished. QMHP “ministry” is still happening. I’m a temp employee which means some weeks I have two shifts, this week I will be working overtime. Summertime is a good time to find temp shifts! Yet that garden! 4 interviews since leaving youth ministry with 2 declines and waiting to hear from CPS. Working as a Temp QMHP for Marion County until then. Just trying to be faithful to the skills and training and calling that I have and CPS, no matter how many people warn me away from it, is where I see myself. Tomorrow’s interview is with the Crisis Outreach Response Team

My loveliest uncle Denny connected me with some compost the local high school wanted relocated. Decades of piling up lawn clippings behind the baseball fields has made for some excellent compost! The gooey, steamy, smelly kind. My favorite! We hauled ten loads out to the old garden site and Dad said it looks like it was a foot taller in elevation. Instead of a raised bed garden system, I’m opting for raising the whole garden. I mean, if the whole house will get a lift, let’s let the garden have a little fun too! After I’d spent several hours on the tractor tilling it in and implementing the garden lift, he also said “you smell like dog shit.” Yet if one knew him, they would understand it translates to “it’s just amazing to see that garden look so good! You have done so much hard work out there, I just can’t wait to see what it looks like in a year or two when you get a garden established. It is just great to see that you’re willing to invest your future in bringing our family’s legacy back to life!” Or maybe that would be a miracle, too :]

Hopes and dreams for the remaining weeks for summer! Talking with my friend about the reality of her children only having 18 expected summers in their parent’s house and then the reality of our parents’ mortality and not knowing how many of those few summers she’ll have both kiddos and grandparents.

Happy 66th Birthday today, Dad!


Love you, Dad!

Hopes and dreams and plans, yet the most beautiful thing is having today on Ma’ Land!

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?

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