June 24, 2013

Livie's graduation and thoughts about Northern New York

Livie graduated. Cah-ray-zee. But there it is. She is off to face the world. Well, in a metaphorical sense. She is going to get some per-requisites out of the way at the local community college, so she will be living at home at least for one semester, maybe two. All of us older siblings counseled her about student debt and the futility of it. So she is being sensible. And though she loves Northern New York, she probably would rather be heading off to the great unknowns of anywhere but NNY. I remember the feeling well. Feeling vaguely trapped because the local state university offered me a decent scholarship. I wanted out. And yet, here I am 13 years later, in NNY. And not to go off on a tangent (but I am going to), I have been thinking about Northern New York a lot lately. Coming home to it after seeing 7,000 miles of this country. It felt good to be back. It felt good to be back in the land of deciduous trees, dairy farms, and familiarity. When we were kids, we had this map of the United States that had this quote on it

Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand!

(Sir Walter Scott in The Last Lay of the Minstrel--I had to google it to see who said it)

And that is how I feel about NNY. I know it is economically depressed, I know it is in the middle of nowhere. The landscape isn't breath taking. There are drugs, problems, and some icky people. And it is currently 88 degrees with 71% humidity. But it is my home. It's my "normal"--the yardstick I measure every other place by.

Part of me feels like I need to defend my love for this place. I married a man from Colorado. We lived in Alaska for four years, one year in CO. How could I be content to settle down in a place with few mountains, little smack-you-in-the-face natural beauty and in the east for pete's sake?!?! I know I can be happy in other places. I loved Alaska. I loved Colorado. But this place fits me like a glove. Like slipping into my Teva flip flops after a long day of slightly uncomfortable, but beautiful shoes. Driving north from Syracuse last week, home songs kept coming to my mind. And John Denver's "Sometimes, this old farm, feels like a long last friend. Yes and hey, its good to be back home again." And while I don't live on the farm, it is all part of this place. It is home. It is part of me.

And so, I don't mourn Olivia's lost opportunities in not jetting off to another fascinating place. I know she will go to those other places. She will probably live in other places. But it isn't such a bad thing to be tethered here another year. At least not in my mind.

And to get back to the point here, I have pictures of this weekend. However, I was not the official photographer. For those pictures, check evanandclover.blogspot.com or livietess.blogspot.com sometime in the near future.

Friday was the kids last day of school. They just had two hours. Enough to get their report cards and go visit next years teacher, so they know who and where they are setting off to on the first day of school next fall. To celebrate summer vacation, we walked to one of the local gas stations to get the first ice cream cone of the season.


A neighbor's peonies. That I love.

Ice Cream face

Ice Cream girls

Reaching for leaves.

Northern woods


The gown, ready to be donned

It was a beautiful evening. This is a trailer of some of the first ever round bales of Full Circle Farm. Owen just got a baler. These were test bales, so not as tight and even as he liked, but he is getting the hang of it. Getting a round baler has been a several year long quest.

Graduates. General milling around. I remember this from my graduation. The route you take to your chair weaves hither and yon and then back again.

That is Livie Tess. Surrounded by black.

The whole lot of them

Pledge of Allegiance

Some tired little girls watching all the proceedings

More milling around to line up for diplomas.

Lined up

The very moment Olivia got her diploma

The National Honor Society people sitting down again.

Olivia T. Vaughan, recent graduate

Tassels switched. This poor guy was having difficulties.

Hat throwing aftermath

Filing out.

More filing

Everyone heading out

The Vaughan contingent leaving

Hugging Live-Tess

Orianna and Lily had fun showing their cousins their new classrooms to be

Livie and the decorations for her party

Foxglove. I love foxglove. I couldn't resist these ones.

BUT they were making me nervous sitting on the table. They are poisonous. They have tons of medicinal purposes, and as such, can be poisonous if eaten. You would have to eat quite a bit to get sick, so everyone told me to stop being silly. And no one died.

Pretty, pretty.

June 20, 2013

Lily's graduation and friends

When we set off on this road trip, I had all sorts of ideas of blog posts I would write after each stop, keeping everyone up to date and arriving home with just a "Home" post to write. I also had a notebook that was going to be a travel journal of sorts, where we were writing down how much we paid for gas here, how much toll where, when we stopped and ate, where we ate, and probably, what we ate. Brilliant idea! I am so optimistic.  (I have all this information for the first day, if you would care to see it.) And then we drove through the night to be in Fargo, ND for Sunday morning meeting. Something about driving through the night changes things. A meticulous travel journal faded into the back of my mind, while basic survival reared its ugly head. I hate driving at night. I hate Justin driving at night. Yet, we did it repeatedly on this trip. There is something so alluring about driving along while the kids are sound asleep. Multi-tasking. I am getting my kids to sleep and tucking 400 miles behind us. Super mom! And then daylight and stopping to let the kids play. While we stagger around in a stupor, grinning stupidly as our children burst around with pent up energy. If I were someone who didn't require sleep, it would be ideal. Unfortunately, sleeplessness is not my super power. And all thoughts of organization, blogging, and travel journals were discarded. Which is probably just as well. Do you care what we ate in Billings, MT or Waddy, KY? (In case you do, McDonalds to both of those.)

And so, here I am, with about 8 Gigs of pictures to upload to my computer and bore everyone to tears with. And if all else were well with me, that would be fine. Instead, I am huddled around my computer, with large stacks of laundry, toys, coloring books, pillows, blankets, and various other trip flotsam and jetsam towering around me. So today, I will just put up pictures of the day of Lily's graduation. Because I can squeeze that into about 15 nice pictures and sign off to stare stupidly at my to-do piles.

Pictures Livie took of the roses at Mom and Dad's.

Love this one.

And the proud graduate

With Mrs. Aubrey. Yes, I was in the wrong spot, so did not get the full smile angle. 

Lily's part in the class play "Spring Cleaning." Lily's line was "Throw away the old food so we don't get bugs." Deep stuff here. It was all very cute and funny.

And the class of 2013. Or, 2025. Wow.......

Doing something with rhythm sticks.

After graduation, we went to Mom and Dad's. We had some friends we knew in Alaska, Aaron and Janelle Gomez visiting us, so the kids had a high old time showing Paxson and Eloise the farm. The Gomezes are travelling around at this moment too, so they were merciful to my the-van-just-exploded-into-the-living-room house.  Awesome to see them after all this time. 

Gilbert and Eloise. Gilbert went upstairs this morning and came down asking where Eloise is. She made an impact. 

Checking out the calf

Sweet girl

The girls admiringly watching Paxson eat a cupcake

Kitchen full.