Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ok, here's what's happening with me

I haven't been here much.

By "here", I mean on my blog. And by "much", I mean that I'm writing maybe one post a week. If that.

I've had some stuff going on. Not just the physical, day-to-day farm stuff, but stuff in my life and inside my head. And my heart. Stuff that I don't normally go into too much detail on my blog.

For anyone just wanting a simple Critter Farm update... here you go. As is the norm for farm life, quite a lot has been happening here.

My pal, Marcee, came and helped me paint Pete and Reggie's goat house:

She brought me freshly picked apricots from her apricot tree in eastern Washington. Twelve of them were lovingly nested inside an egg carton:

I had a magnificent strawberry harvest this year:

which allowed me to make strawberry jam for the first time ever:

Virtually swimming in raspberries, I made raspberry jam, too:

I hung a tool rack by myself (look how pretty that freshly painted goat house looks!):

I italicized "by myself" because this task required measuring and leveling and finding the correct (unbroken) drill bits. I'm not much of a measurer (math is stinky) and our garage is a mess, so finding stuff is always a challenge. Then, ever since we moved out to the farm, every single 1/8" drill bit gets broken almost immediately. What is UP with that?


I've harvested the first of my three varieties of garlic. This is some of the Early Chinese Pink:

It has been such an odd and delayed growing season this year. My Music and Oregon Blue garlic are still not quite ready for harvesting. I harvested all my garlic during the third week of July last year.

I've also harvested my first-ever broccoli:

Yes, I know, a portion of it had started to bloom and I wasn't going to eat it, but as I was walking through Trader Joe's last week, their organic broccoli looked just like this! (look at those grubby hands!):

All of it was incredibly delicious.

And so, here's the part where I will, briefly, delve into Danni-personal. And only because I'm hoping it might make me feel better. (I'll keep you posted on that.)

In a nutshell, things are changing around here. My family's changing. My responsibilities are changing. I'm changing. This is not to say I'm going through "the change" ...nooo...not yet.

I'm just, well, feeling very sad. And a bit unbalanced - not in a crazy way, mind you (though some would disagree) but in a... hmmm... a fragile way. I don't really consider myself a fragile kind of gal, so this is more than a little surprising to feel - and to talk about.

In the last two months, my youngest son, Aidan, has graduated from high school...

...embarked on a 2-week trip to Europe and returned just long enough to tie up loose ends before departing on his 10-month volunteer assignment with AmeriCorps in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

4:30am on Monday found me saying goodbye (again) to my son at the Portland airport.

This goodbye felt different somehow.

Is this what "empty nest" syndrome feels like? It's such a busy, happy, the-world-is-my-oyster time for him, why do I feel so miserable?

Everything feels slippery to me. I can't seem to hold on to anything tight enough. I can do nothing now but watch what happens for (and to) him... and witness the results of the good (and bad) decisions he will make.
I have no control.
I can't keep him safe.

I've been giving myself stern lectures that include hard doses of perspective about how wonderful my life is, but all the good around me seems to be intermixed with uncertain and scary.

I just don't feel comfortable with my place in the world right now.

And that pretty much sums it up. That and I miss my babies. The ones who are now 18 and almost 22.

I'm guessing that when I begin to feel a little better, and less like I'm falling down a very steep hill, I will blog (and comment on blogs) more frequently again.

Until then, let me just mention that Vicksburg, Mississippi is 2,456 miles from here.


  1. Wow and that is only stuff you are willing to talk about....I can't even imagine all that plus more. Hope you feel better soon...I know it's hard to get out a funk like that. Hugs.

  2. Ah, I see sez the blind man.

    And a hug from one who remembers watching her just-graduated kid hop a flight to Germany as a year-long exchange student. And who now is 2/3 of the way through boot camp and soon to be embarking on a life of his own, with his wife and due-in-February baby.

    Slippery. That's a good term. Ill at ease. Discomfiture. All of those fit.

    Peace to you, my friend.

  3. I really enjoy your critter updates; but I can totally relate to your feelings right now!! My daughter and grandkiddos just moved to Texas from Washington state. What a huge void that leaves, too. You just must take the time it takes, and trust that all will be well. Your kids will remember their raisin'. They will return to visit. No, it is not the same as before, but life is full of changes, always. Love life now, every day. Start a gratitude list. That helps put things in perspective. One day at a time. Take care.

  4. Empty nest syndrome can definitely feel like that. I've been through it 5 times and you do get back to yourself. Just a different self. Then when you just about have that figured out, one moves home with thier children. It is always changing. I try to go with the flow. Some days it's okay, some days it's not. Go figure. Prayers coming your way.

  5. The farm looks quite productive and seems to be doing well.

    You, however, are understandably in a teeter-totter stage of life wherein you feel proud and joyful for Aidan yet feel the empty-ness of not having him around (especially 'cuz he's your "baby") for quite a stretch of time. I hope Aidan will be good in keeping in touch with his mom as he steps into this next chapter of his life.

    I'll be thinking good thoughts for you, Dani, and I know you'll be fine with your loving husband and best friend Marci nearby.

    P.S. The jams look sensational, as does that broccoli!

  6. Hugging you warmly and tightly in my thoughts!

  7. Oh dear you will get your groove again....Life and it's changes are hard and not always smooth transitions.
    You are aware though and need time so enjoy all the things around you and take time:)

  8. Vicksburg is only 150 miles from my home, Danni; I'll keep an eye on him for you ;)

    Seriously though...from one mom to another, I think it's important that we allow the sadness sometimes. Of course you're sad! These are our babies! We spend a huge portion of our lives happily putting them before anything else. When they begin to leave our comfy little nests, we have to regroup again and find our own place in the world again.

    You'll find it; don't rush it. Take your time and allow yourself to feel what you feel with no guilt and no regrets. Hang in there!

    And, please, remind me that I said all these things next year at this time when my oldest leaves me :(

  9. This makes me want to snuggle my little ones a little extra tomorrow. Because I know before I know it I am going to be in your shoes. I can only imagine how hard this must be. It sounds as if you are working through it well though and you will be fine soon. Oh my kids are 7, 5 and 3 right now.

  10. Ohhh this made me cry. One of mine has his first job 3 states away. One is leaving on a mission trip clear around the world next week and the other just left for college on the other side of the state.

    Frankly if it wasn't for the little ones I would be insane right now. So my mama's heart goes out to you right now. I hate change and I hate my kids leaving...guess we did a good job with them since we like to hang out with them so much.

    Hang in there, and if you get really lonely come up north a bit and you can visit me and Gizmo...and I'm serious about that! Kim

  11. on the first part of the post....didn't know you grew so much all looks yummy. and the barn is fab! the goat boys are living the good life for sure.

    On the second part......that slippery feeling is the worst...esp when you don't know what to do to stop it; I'd almost rather be in a definitive miserable place - at least you know where you are than that sliding down. And just reading about your baby being that far away made me tear up. It is hard enough now seeing my 3 year old move to the big kids class "upstairs".....can't imagine what that must feel like to you! Anyway.....hang in there (like there is anything else to do but) and know you are in my thoughts! and your readers are always happy to read any time you post, miss you when you don't, but understand that sometimes life gets in the way!

  12. No words.
    Just a big ol' bear hug for you.

  13. Danni, change, any kind of change, is always stressful on some level. And oh my, have you been going through some changes! They really are good ones, as I see them. Aidan is a great guy. Well prepared for the world. You will find not only peace, but happiness & fulfillment in your new chapters of life that are opening to you now.

    I think that when we experience young people entering the world as new independent adults it may bring back feelings of when we ourselves did the same thing. It's maybe a bit scary, but also very exciting. Yes, your day to day life is changing, but you will always be your sons' Mama and they will always remember that. They still need you, just in a different way than when they were little boys.

    On a more farmy note: I love the apricots in the egg carton picture, and your Goat House is gorgeous! How lucky your goat boys are! I also have major "berry envy". Your strawberries and especially your raspberries are so impressive! I just may need to come up for a visit one of these days. That would be such a fun trip for me.

    Please be gentle with yourself through these recent changes, Danni. It's OK for strong women to be fragile sometimes. It's really very nice and very human. Email me anytime you want to talk or just vent. I'd love hearing from you.

  14. Aww! Blimmin' kids! Mine is 18 and talking about leaving home..for good! He's going flatting with mates! I'm not sure hiw I feel about that but I keep having odd moments like you. I was in his room earlier and thinking what a sh**hole! Then I thought it might not be for much longer, and was caught between glee because it will be tidy again, and misery because I'll miss the mess! Why do they have to grow up!

  15. Danni- have you tried talking to your wonderful mother about this? maybe she'll have some insight that would help you put a better perspective on it.

    I'm very sorry that you're feeling bluish (because you don't look bluish). I never had children, so I can't imagine what kind of feelings you are going through. My sister in law has just said goodbye to her son who is off to DC for language immersion and then a year in Germany, after which he heads to Tulane. Her other child graduates in two years and wants to go to school in Boston. I'm concerned for Susan because she's made her entire life these kids, and I know she'll be lost without someone to nurture.

    I must say, I am glad that you have a lot of pets! I realize they are not your children, but I shudder to think what you would be feeling if you didn't have at least them! Still, they're not your kids, but I hope you'll get some comfort from them.

    Good luck on feeling happier soon.

  16. Oh, I so feel your pain...

    My baby girl - who turns 18 next week, leaves in 19 days for Boston - where she will be attending Boston University - far, far, very, very far from PDX!

    Been through the change - it's got NOTHING on watching your babies fly the nest!

    Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, Danni!

  17. ...btw, have lots of friends and family in Mississippi... just saying - if he ever needs a friend, let me know...

  18. Ah Danni, I think we all know this feeling as some point in our lives, but when it is happening to 'you' you don't want to 'burden' anyone else. I don't have any fancy words, just chin up, deep breaths, walk forward.
    PS... That walking forward does not have to be a straight line

  19. Gosh, Danni - I wish there was something I could say to help you feel better, more stable. I am older than you are, 46, 47 in Nov, I've been married before, but no kids, so I'm no help with the empty-nest feeling. I do, however, know what it is like to feel that life is moving at a whirlwind speed, and you're not sure if you can hang on, or if it's going to throw you right off. All I can say, is try and hang in there, and make sure to lean on your friends and family - they're always there for help and support in times of struggles, but remember that sometimes they need to be asked since they at times are not sure what to say or how to help until you approach them. But know that they are definitely WILLING to help in any way they can because they love you. I'm excited for Aiden, and I hope his volunteer time is a good experience for him. It could open so many doors for him, too. When you're feeling a bit vulnerable, it's nice to do something extra special for yourself that you wouldn't normally do - something you really enjoy - or spend more time taking deep breaths and relaxing with your animals, I know they bring you peace in turbulent times. Take care, and feel free to email me privately if you want to. Take care, from KY - which is a little closer to MS than you are - do you want me to go down there and check on Aiden for you? 8-)

  20. forget all the other changes you go through....empty nesting is the worst. my kids are 15 months apart and poof...they were both gone off to college with me sitting here staring like a deer in the headlights. i did not know what hit me. everything seemed so superficial compared to having them here. i never really got used to it. my shrink said it was time to take care of myself. i bought a sports car. i bought new clothes. and i cried myself to sleep each night. after college my daughter and her boyfriend moved into our guest house and my son and his girlfriend live in the house i bought for him two doors away from me. we do live right in the middle of a large city so they have quite a bit of independence though they live this close. i am typing this as i am waiting for my daughter to stop for breakfast on her way to work the way she does every day. she also picks up a lunch i have packed for her and one for her boyfriend. my son will be over for lunch in a bit. all is right with the world except i think my shrink is disappointed with me. i failed late life independence horribly!

  21. Sending hugs Danni! I guess it's something many of us go through. Have you thought of having another kid????? That was a joke to try to cheer you up a little bit! Now get out there and hug a goat! XXOO

  22. Oh honey, I'm so sorry that you're feeling this. So normal and yet soooo painful and scary.
    I was just talking to another 40-something friend and she said empty nesting is hard, hard on the momma. It's a great big "now what?" for so many women. Your feelings are magnified by the fact that you really, really like your kids. I think 'fragile' is a perfectly okay feeling, despite how it makes you feel about yourself.

    I don't have anything to say that will make you feel better. I think it's just something you'll have to work on day-to-day until it's manageable. I hope your hubby, who you don't talk about too much, is supportive of your feelings. "Just get over it" is never helpful.

    Ask Aiden to be patient and thoughtful of your feelings. The world is his oyster because of the mom that you are. If he's the young man he seems to be, he misses you too.

    Hang in there. Email me if you'd like. Hugs and love from Austin.

  23. What a big changing time in your life. Not having children I can't imagine the feelings, but I can lend my blogging friend support. And just scrolling through your comments you have lots of people here who ready to boost you teup as much as we can from the internet.
    Your goat house looks great! I'm sure you enjoyed Marcee's visit.
    We delivered in Woodburn, OR yesterday and then reloaded in Saint Helens, OR. I thougth of you, cause I knew you were close.
    Hang in there, and when your ready to resume blogging full time, we'll be here waiting!
    PS: My aunt is in Jackson, MS and loves the people of that state. Southerners are wonderful, nurturing people...he'll have lots of care while he's there.

  24. Your produce looks fantastic!!!.Again I will mention that I hope I get to sample the jams on some of your homemade bread..that sounds like heaven..
    On a spin toward the other things going on in your life..I have no imput on that right at the moment..I have to go get a tissue..I can say you have a ton of people loving and caring for you,and offering you a shoulder if ever in need of one..

  25. I don't have children, so I won't offer up any pithy advice on how to get through this difficult phase in your life, other than to say, "feel it completely".

    This is a very real, very vulnerable post. Thank you for sharing this part of you.

    P.S. He's gonna be just fine. *hugs*

  26. great post, danni. thanks for sharing, and putting into words these feelings.

    and yes, it has been a crappy garden season. my beans haven't even started to climb and if the weather holds, i might have tomatoes in november.

  27. Awww, Danni. Sorry to hear you're down in the dumps. I knew something was up when your posts started declining.

    You will get through this in your own time and your own way. And in the meantime, don't be afraid to lean on others for support!

    The garden harvest looks great! Hooray on your tool rack hanging skills!

  28. Hi Danni, I'm sending you lots of e-hugs from across the puddle. I've not expierenced the 'empty nest' feeling as I don't have kids, but I've just VERY recently lost a dear birding friend of mine which has knocked me sideways, so I can at least empathise a wee bit! Looking through the previous messages, I think you've got both some great personal and blogging friends which I hope helps some.
    Take good care

  29. I fall into the same pit with my 12 year-old, although she is only going to MIDDLE school, and a spend the night camp a state awy...I will need to be locked in a padded room the day she graduates.
    Lots of positive thoughts and hugs your way.
    Chin up, soon.
    I would deliver you a massive chocolate masterpiece if I lived closer.

  30. I'm so glad you wrote -- I was getting a bit worried. Since I have no kids of my own, I can only relate sort of backwards, as the one who left her family and country behind. And now missing it so much. Sending good thoughts your way.--Inger

  31. Having the title "MOM" is the best thing in the world. Even you are still all that and a bag of chips, your day to day world is now different.
    I just want to say, I am thinking of you and homemade jam should help. Yay! Your jars look beautiful and Marcee is an awesome friend.

  32. Oh sweetie. You know where my heart is.
    And what amazing support you have from your friends who have been through what you are feeling right now or simply just feel with you. Everyone who wrote would like to help make you feel better. What a gift.
    I re-read Peppermint P.h.D, Paula, and Kathy in Kentucky a couple of times. A lot of wisdom there.
    One thing I do know - time can be a gentle healer.

  33. Hey, my online friend! Southerners are the most wonderful, friendly, caring people there are in the world. I know Aiden will be just fine. I travel to the southern US alot for my work, and I always love it there. I even have said that if I there was anyplace I'd want to pick up & move to from Maryland, it would be down south. Great people, beautiful countrysides. Alot of history. Only prob is that it is hot & sticky in the summertime!

    Take care, hugs to you & all your animals!


  34. Hi Danni - ditto what they all said, and *hugs* to you. At one point you will go to the library and check out seventeen books to read, take a walk, go get your toenails painted, sit on the the back porch with a glass of wine, and relish the small amount of extra time you now have for yourself (but not much, cause life on the farm will always keep you busy.) And thank God for that, huh?

    Cheers, baby. It gets better.

  35. your normal with all that stuff...but you sure are extrordinary! I love your insight to life and you have the most gentle nature. All will right itself and the transition, will bring some wonderful new adventures....those I hope you write about also.
    I agree on the comment "hug your goats" helps!!

  36. Having no human children, I too have no worldy advice... but hang in there! Hugs to you Danni.

  37. Hang in there. Life is full of changes, it isn't always easy. I've been feeling at loose ends lately. I need a new interest or something. It's kept me from blogging too.

  38. After I left my comment I thought of more to say. It's totally awesome that Aiden is joining Americorps. He wants to give back - how very cool is that? You should be very proud of the good job you've done raising him. Danni - take comfort in the fact that you've given him the most valuable gift of all - you've given him WINGS.

  39. Like most really good mothers you have done a magnificent job of preparing your children for the world - as evidenced by their ability to follow their hearts and do what's important to them and our world.

    I think however, that you may have forgotten to prepare yourself - for their eventual departure. I too wish that we could hold on just a bit longer, to know that at the end of most days, we will be the one there to encourage and protect them.

    Congratulate yourself and know that the phone will be ringing for you to share in their excitement and sometimes in their pain. Job well done Mama; be proud.

    And now - YOU have a new adventure waiting just around the corner!!!!

  40. It is hard, but it will get better! In the meantime, maybe try growing Peanuts. The challenge should keep you occupied until you feel better. :) Goat hugs!

  41. Hang in there, Danni. When you need a little lovin', just go outside and I guarantee your amazing animal family will be there for you with bells on. You make a huge difference in a lot of lives -- both animals and people. Changes are never easy but we always grow and become stronger & better because of them. Best Wishes:)

  42. Hang in there Danni! I know how you are feeling as I went through the same feelings when my only child left home for good. It is hard but it does get better. Take all the time you need. Just know that you have done a good job of raising him. Hugs :)

  43. No kids here. But as I posted a day or so ago. All last week I felt like I had fallen down the rabbit hole. I didn't go into any great detail just that it had been a very emotional week last week and I do not do that type of thing very well. I am having more of those it seems lately and its wearing thin fast!

    My poor honeyman is doing his best to keep up with my mood swings.

    I am going to say I think my situation is partly to blame on hormones and partly not..

    Hope you get some stuff figured out and find your place and direction :O). I keep thinking I just need to find center again.

    Your fixing up projects, WTG girl! I just repaired and fixed a flat tire today all by myself! :O)...

  44. Love the goat house!
    Babies coming and takes a lot of one!
    hugs for you. :)

  45. checking in also....and really want you back!

  46. Das tut mir leid fuer dich.
    Mein mittlerer Sohn zieht auch diese Woche wieder aus, aber zum Glueck wohnt er nicht so weit von hier.
    Ich geniesse die letzten Jahre mit Melissa!! So ist das Leben. ... Viele Gruesse u alles Gute!

    " Es werd' schon wern, sad die Fra Stern, bei de Fra Korn is es aach worn".

    Verstehst du das? Das ist hessisch!!

  47. Hallo Gudl!
    Aber sicher verstehe ich das! Hab' 'ne Zeitlang ausserhalb Frankfurt (im Taunus) gelebt. :-)
    Lieben geht mir schon ein bisschen besser.

  48. Hope you are enjoying out little sliver of summer weather! Kim

  49. Hope you feeling better, Danni, as time passes.

  50. Danni! You are replete with the most gorgeous raspberries...congratulations :) I was catching up here and read this most recent post, and oh how my own heart girl is closer at hand, but she spread her wings two years ago and made her own mistakes, and some successes, and has her own place and first jobs, etc. No one ever said the hardest part of kids' growing up is the Ouch to the parents. Sure would like to stop time and at the same time I'm so proud she is stretching those wings. Ouch. Missing her, smiling...and sending you Florida hugs from way down here. What beautiful people you have added to the world from your family :)


I ♥ it when you leave a comment.