Monday, October 19, 2015


As promised, I have returned!  Sorry, but these people are keeping me busy here.  Plus now it's a paying gig, which I think you all know is a great blessing to me right now!

Firstly, I should tell you that Joyce and Tony are two of the most hospitable and wonderful people I've met.  They have included me in everything and made me feel so incredibly welcome and at home.  Secondly, it's so funny how incredibly different they are.  Joyce is a student of Thich Nhat Hanh, and emulates his peaceful and Zen demeanor so beautifully.  She teaches ESL to a group of monastic Vietnamese sisters here, and is really tied into the community in some lovely ways (did I tell you i meditated for world peace with an interfaith group of lovely Catholics, Muslims, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist women in a Muslim Mosque - and me the token pagan) .  It makes me more mindful just being around her.  She has been to several of "Thay's" retreats and leads a lovely sangha here on Friday afternoons.  I've yet to snap a photo of her because I'm always so immersed in our interesting conversations (we have very similar spiritual beliefs, backgrounds and outlooks on life).  Here is the lovely outdoor sangha room where we meditate:

This is how it looks inside - imagine a fire and 6 lovely women on purple cushions & zafus with warm yummy purple blankets...

This is how it looks from the outside...

And this is the view from the inside...

And this is the inside sangha room.  

After we meditated for 20 minutes (which challenged me a bit, but put me in such a zen state), we walked outside to the lawn and did a walking meditation all in "honorable silence".  When you walk you are asked to be fully in your body and to be mindful of your connection with the earth.  Can I just say that when the bottom of me feet touched the grass in this way, surrounded by these lovely women in such a peaceful and beautiful place, I was brought to tears and almost to my knees.  But, since sobbing out loud seems contraindicated when observing "honorable silence", i pulled myself together and walked very slowly and deliberately, but sputtering a little under my breath.  Then back inside for another 20 minutes meditation and then a reading and lovely talk.  On top of that, they gifted me again with a lovely massage with Oonoch, the incredibly beautiful Korean practitioner who studied Chinese Medicine.  I had been told by my friend Laura that I really needed Myofacial Release and that is what she did on me just intuitively without knowing.  It hurts like a mofo, but my body feels amazing now.  I love and hate her very much.

This is the back of the house where we walked, overlooking one of the gardens & rolling native prairie that is their back yard:

This is Tony, Mo's dad.  He is a bit of a dichotomy - a very successful financial planner, with a record breaking team at Merril Lynch.  He has a loyal base of customers that have been with him some for 30 years.  He is of Sikh heritage and was living in Muslim Pakistan as a Christian up until 16 when he hiked from Pakistan to Europe on $500.  Then he came to America with nothing more than $25 in his pocket.  Spending time with him and his customers (I was invited to this great comedy show with them - Guys in Ties - check it out on you tube) it's easy to see why his customers stay.  He is an incredibly loving and loyal person.  He has one of the most incredible smiles I've ever seen (especially with a couple drinks on board - teehee).  He has taken a financial advisory role with me and has opened my eyes to a new way of viewing my financial future - which  you all know i need.   

We are working on a six year plan for the farm and I'm going to really enjoy helping them create something they can make a little money at and really enjoy in retirement. And, then there's all my furry, feathered and fluffy friends:

Scratchin' around the garden beds...

in the hen house...

eatin' the scrap maters we pulled from the garden, but my fav...

That's Momma and baby in their lil' special house. And, now for my new best friend...

Meet Lucy.  I Love Lucy.  And, she loves me too BTW, cause I know just how to scritch her.  I have videos of her making a Mancoon (sp?) spectacle of herself just like Charlie. Please, don't tell him, Although I think they would probably have a furry love affair if they met. 

OMG - I just figured out how to upload videos!

I had a lil' adventure on my own in Davenport.  Got to visit with Mo, and do some exploring in the east village close to where she lives.  And I discovered this amazing little park:

FAQ - What is a pocket park?   A “pocket park” is a small, outdoor park usually developed on an otherwise forgotten space in a “pocket” surrounded by other buildings.  

How cool is that?!  The local residents just come and make art there.  Checkout the guy behind the bench.  There was one in the tree that actually inspired me to take the pics. I could smack myself for forgetting him (not very Zen of me).  But, here's my fave... it's a close up of the back of the bench...

It's something I had just said to Mo, half an hour earlier and then said to myself.  Walking in the park and seeing it there, I remembered where I had heard it first.  Sound familiar Dave?

Ok, guys, there's so much more to say, but I am tuckered.  I'm on some weird wakeup at 3 am every night schedule, so I have to get some zzzz's in before then.  I love and miss you all.  Please, respond to my blog.  I love the feedback!  XOXOXOXOzzzzzz

Saturday, October 10, 2015


I arrived at the farm in the evening after dark to a wonderful warm reception of a lovely salad and squash soup.  But, the most wonderful thing of all to discover (since Charlie wanted to snuggle all night before I left, and I was exhausted) was this lovely and comfortable bed.  
I'll take some more pics of the cabin they lovingly call "The Grandma House" later.

The next morning, Joyce and I did a walkabout through the lovely 34 acre property.  Tony is a lover of trees and there's every kind of tree you can imagine.  My favorite is the shaggy bark hickory, not just cause it's pretty, but cause I just love saying "shaggy bark hickory" (it makes me think of smoky food, and it sounds like something from an old storybook).  Joyce loves her native prairie, and as amazing as they look now, I can only imagine how they will look later. More pics of the property, the oak savanna and stories about that later!

Tony & Joyce on a stool looking for some local honey for me so I will be resistant to their local poison ivy.  MO is such a lovely blend of both of them and i see so much of her in them.

Joyce and I love to putter in the garden that she and MO planned and planted together.  We've been harvesting tomatoes, potatoes, watermelon, arugula, cantaloupe, cucumbers and peppers (peter peppers - sending pics later - you can guess what they look like - tehee - I'm sure Jake will add a "that's what she said" somewhere).  We put up some tomatoes, potatoes and peppers last night.  Joyce taught me a much easier way to blanch them & peel them, Jake! 

So many chickens!  She takes in strays.  There's always a rooster crowing and we don't have to drive a million miles for eggs.

So many nasturtiums and zinnias.  I hope you can't overdose on flowers!

I have been loving the time to play and do some serious kitchen witchin!  I have multiple kefir batches and am going to experiment making kefir cheese.  I've made four tinctures - lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon grass and another holy basil.  I'm making bone broth, sprouting barley and beans, making chimichuri and on and on....  She has a kick ass deydrator called the Excaliber, so there's lots more dried lemongrass & holy basil for tea!  There's a garden here by the Grammy House (my name for it) with lots of Kale that's just waiting to be converted to Kale Chips!  I'll bring you some, Mattie and we can do some binging on green chips instead of the others! 

This morning, Joyce took me to their local market, which is huge!  It's right on the Mississippi river and has a FERRIS WHEEL! (i'll get pics for you). I might have some of these flavored honey sticks in my lil pocketses when I get home (habenero for you, Ben). 

Jake, check out these crazy looking pumkins...

I'm in hog heaven.  I have so many veggies that I don't know what to do with them!  But, their sweet potatoes look wimpy next to the one you harvested Manders. 

Nicole, I thought about you when I saw this adorable camper booth.  It's a cupcake stand.  Check out the cupcake curtains!

When we got home, Tony had set up a tour of the property with his friend Ray who is a weather specialist with the US weather service and a master gardener.  He's an expert in micro-climates.  He was amazingly helpful at helping me to diagnose some of the growing issues I've had and said the extra rain in the midwest was due to climate change.  Also, he said I can get the wilt out of my soil by solar cooking it.  Can't wait to learn about this.

Tony is in the blue jacket and Joyce is in the black one.  The people on the ends are a couple (Ray the Metorologist) and the other dude is a neighbor who's lived on a farm next door his whole life.  Him and Tony are tree-planting fools. 

Nature's Cathedral...

Farmer David found some "hen of the woods" mushrooms, right in the backyard of my house here!  I've had them before.  They taste like chicken!

So I came home and started a fire after our chily morning out and warmed up some butternut squash, kale salad and lemongrass/holy basil tea to enjoy while writing to you!  

I'll continue adding more pics and stories here about:
  • The lovely Sangha we enjoyed yesterday
  • The wonderful massages and myofascial release they've been gifting me
  • My furry feline friends 
  • and the rolling hills of Iowa...
I miss all my family, but feel your love here with me.  Every day is a new discovery and I feel so happy and blessed to have you, my roots - to know you are there, sending me love while I spread my wings!

Love, Peace & Dirt,

JO Mama
& Grammy