Eulogy Postponed

And the miracle of today

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”

Adjusting to Summertime!

Well hello, summer! Why are you so cold? Summer came in with a 100 degree heat wave and then here it is 57 degrees as I write this. I’ve been enjoying helping mom “catch up” in her garden after she was away for 2 weeks in Texas and trying to catch my body up to the cool mornings. I love, love, love the weather! Why does my body think this is so cold!?


It’s a jungle out there! Mom’s personal Garden of Eden.

Then went and helped out on the farm to get things “caught up” in the overgrown hedgerow around those lovely organic filbert trees! Daisies are not on our approved plant list. Definitely not. They were staging an aggressive takeover and too many of the truckload of flowers mom and dad had planted had been choked out. A literal truckload- gone! And there were countless wildflower seeds spread over the last couple years. Little brother has done so much work mowing the field and with the rain we got last week, everything has greened up really well since this photo was taken. And you can see the little baby trees on the hill in the background. Iloveitsomuch!


Move over daisies- There are other guys in there that need to breathe!

Last week, the Organic Hazelnut Growers Association allowed me to join them on their California Tour. We visited one beautiful organic walnut orchard, one equipment manufacturer, one nut processor, and an organic almond cooperative. Oh, and two breweries! It was a ton of information and I could feel my social work skills kicking into action. I could feel that itch to do some research for them starting to want to be scratched! I made a vague offer, yet they have no funding so…


Camping on the way to California! Obviously this is in Oregon prior to hitting the 105deg heat!

Speaking of no funding, my job search has not provided any leads above manual labor. The little pool of funding for this Fellowship continues to grow- one drip at a time and I am confident it will all be taken care of- perhaps not abundantly, but anyone who knows me knows I wouldn’t know what to do with abundance! My dilemma now is how far should I drive to find a place to volunteer?

Volunteering my time to re-invest in old friendships, watch my nephews grow faster than the weeds in the garden, start a bible study group, help awesome people “catch up” as needed, and go hiking with anyone with a destination! I am looking forward to assisting the Organic Hazelnut Growers in their collaboration to find solutions for their needs. What kind of a job title might a Social Worker for Organic Farming have? Oh, and studying. Of course! I’ve read the entire Exam Guide for the LMSW yet the June date passed my by because of some missing paperwork. Oops! Counting down until July 21st for the next one.


Birthday spent at the lake with little brother’s family and the folks at Lake Eleanor. Loveit!

Well, the sun is coming out. I am working on acclimating to the Oregon climate and it looks almost warm enough for me to be outside without a jacket now. Come on, wool socks, let’s get out there!


Happy 4th of July, y’all!

Post Navigation