10.5.13

StoryTime WorkShop Re-Cap | Part 1


S T O R Y T I M E    W O R K S H O P    R E - C A P 

Right off the bat, I hoped that the StoryTime WorkShop would be more of a retreat, a vision re-setter, a time to be thrown into someone else's story, a getaway.   There is much I could say, but what I'd most want to tell you about our weekend was the people I met.  Five delightful lives.  I spent a lot of time watching them work, talk and interact.  I love them.  And I love how we all connected.  It's a little risky to say "Hey!  Five strangers!  Come stay in my basement apartment, while my family of nine lives upstairs, and I share the space with you... and my husband!"  If it didn't work, it would have been awfully uncomfortable.  But the magic was there and it was as lively, relaxed and comfortable as I was hoping.  And without further ado, I want you to meet (or re-meet) these savory women:


“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. 

Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon.  

Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves.  

Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. 

Write like you have a message for the king!  Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.” 


S T E P H   M A T T H E W S  // taylor clark photography
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There's a ring on her hand, and a song in her heart.  I couldn't quite find the perfect word to describe her - she's systematic and thorough and professional and wonderfully clumsy and goofy and fake-gangster.  "My fiance says I'm 'corky.'" Yes! That's it corky.  Cute and dorky ;)  She can barely talk about anything she cares about without crying, and she doesn't know what "half-in" means.  She's irresistible and feisty.  She drips food on herself and laughs heartily while finding a rag to clean up.  She accidentally bumps people when she's talking because the stories sometimes get grander than herself and who can pay attention to arms and hands when you're in the middle of something great?  She's a playful little girl in a statuesque, head-turning body.  She's a strong woman, in a bouncy world.   
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H A I L E Y   H U G G I N S // photos by hailey
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She's Georgia.  Sunny, dimpled, and demure.  We never called her Hailey.  Georgia Huggins, it's perfect.  Especially with that "coquettish, southern girl smile, the kind you could pour over waffles."  She's - to be sickeningly cliche - all peaches n' cream, but let me be square:  she is no fruitcake.  Tough and fierce.  Confidently kind.  Helpfully stubborn.  She's matter-of-fact, business minded, and doesn't take herself too seriously.  I mentioned to her that I love how most of her profile pictures are her making "stupid" (not duck) faces.  "Seriously though, do girls know they don't have to look good ALL THE TIME?  It's okay to look dumb sometimes!"  Her lack of "trying" is one of her most endearing qualities.  Especially when who she is is so light-hearted and nice.  Stubborn, of course.  But sincerely happy and wanting those around her to be happy, too.  She's hard to not be drawn to immediately, and to want to be your sister forever.
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M E G A N  L U C K E R O T H // megan luckeroth blog
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Megan was our brilliant iceberg.   She notices, processes, thinks through, and understands far more than she "hands out."  She doesn't blab or rant.   It's like you can nearly feel the poetry when she is around.  She is one of the most fascinating presence's I've ever met, with an intensely beautiful mind - shaded and shadowed and colorful and vibrant - and eyes that take it in, and lips that speak about it slowly.  You get the feeling that she sees things no one else does.  That she appreciates or is moved by or tickled to laughing-tears by a details that most our world would miss.  But somehow she's not an "iceberg" in the sense that she's impossible to crack or difficult to interact with.  She's so warm and delicate and grace-filled - a calming breeze.  She makes me want to ask her questions and hear your perspective.   
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H A N N A H  M A R T I N // hannah nicole blog
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God decided to describe her with adjectives by making her look like what she is like.   Wide-eyed, specifically.  A short ballerina of a lady, with eyes that are fairy-like nearly confusing and hair that is unruly and carefree.  She asks some of the most heartfelt questions and recites the words of authors easily.  She's chatty and silly and is searching, always.  She is decisive and confident, and sincerely pleasant and inspiring.  It doesn't take long to guess that she is the oldest daughter in a big family - she has that unmistakeable air.  Nurturing, sincere, older-than-her-age, talented, responsible, calm.  You miss her when she leaves.  And learn from her when she's near.
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K H L O E   W I L L I A M S // khloe paige blog
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After she left, I kept calling her "the firefly."  Khloe is a bright young spark, on the cusp of major life decisions right and left.   She was the quickest to laugh, to tell a story, to open up, to talk.  Her heart strings are tied in many places, and she is a family-girl to.the.bone.  She has whimsy in her eyes, and Elizabeth Bennett in her heart beats.  She could weave in and out of nonsense chatter, plunging questions and ideas, and practical steps seamlessly.  She's not afraid - at all.   Timidity is not in her deck of cards.  I sometimes wished I could scoop up a handful of that trait, and eat it like (clean) snow.  I lost that ability somewhere of the years, and she's a dazzling reminder of the beauty there is in fearlessness.
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Ladies and friends, thank you for making my month.  For effecting my life.  Deaths, break-ups, moves, self-realizations, "God moments," childhoods, concerns, wishes - the deepest, realest, honestest ones -, photographs, and stories.  You came open and eager, and I hope you left refreshed and with visions dancing in your head, like sugar plum fairies.  I wish you could come back, now, so I could enjoy in person some more.  But I also love waiting and watching... seeing stories start to pop up on your blogs. I love looking forward to learning more, as you tell it yourself.  You are all dear to my heart <3 p="">

8.5.13

Red Dirt Roof | Our House

free, nothing feels like free
though it sometimes means we don’t get along
cause same, no, we’re not the same
but that’s what makes us strong

home - dierks bentley 
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I tell people that he's a country boy, not a farm boy.  He's a small town boy, not a ranch boy.  He doesn't hunt in his spare time.  He'll go with the boys and have fun.  But he'd probably have just as much fun shooting a Justin Beiber poster hanging on a tree.  He doesn't like to deal with, let alone breed or feed or clean or skin, animals.  He loves nature - the trees animate him, the dogs annoy him.  Sunsets bring him to tears, goats and chickens and cows are... tasty.  He can't sleep in, unless it's Saturday and there is nothing planned for the day.  He is very confused by computers and all their tomfoolery.  Especially when it comes to formatting.  Talk about stress ;)  He's actually far less self-concious in groups of people than I am, and he rarely feels awkward.  He's happy and people are his favorite.  He is entertained by watching people - he takes it in and processes.  We joke that he's the quiet social butterfly and I'm the loud homebody.  He loves to "go out and do!" He loves to get things done.  He loves to come up with things to get done.  But he just learned how to use Excel when we got engaged, and still doesn't "schedule."  He just lives hard and thoroughly without being frustrated by daily timelines of ALL HE MUST GET DO.  It's a country quality.  There is peace in these plains.

I've wrongly acquired the title "city girl" in our story.  I've never lived in "the city" and I can easily go months without visiting "the city."  I'm a suburban girl.  Who has the option of going into the District of Columbia, the Nation's Capital, the city whenever I'd like.  I was born 8 miles away from the White House, where 42 presidents have lived with their families and pets.  Mr. Obama still lives only 20 miles away.  But I don't live in the city, I live just outside it.  With access to bay-towns, like Annapolis and Alexandria, where boats are docked and water is blue, and historical towns, like Mount Vernon and Harper's Ferry, which sometimes seem untouched since their colonial and civil war days, to country-towns, big and small, like Frederick and Brunswick, and national skyline cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia... and even Times Square in New York City, New York is only four hours away.

I personally grew up Home Owner's Association neighborhoods - with community swimming pools, the best part of summer, especially when we had change for the ice cream truck, and spontaneous all-street Man Hunt and Capture the Flag games, comprised of children from about ten different families.  Sure, there wasn't much yard space, but there was plenty of room for creative rascals to make memories and get an adrenaline rush.  The beach is three hours away, but I've also been a suburban girl outside of San Diego City.  And the beach, then, was only twenty minutes away.  Glorious.  Both in California and Maryland mountains were severely close by, and so were plains and fields, and traffic jams.  We have every kind of restaurant nearby - chains and mom-and-pops and breakfast and lunch and dinner and every country imaginable is represented.  There is no such thing as "we don't have that."  We do.  Somewhere in the near vicinity, we do.  There is a buzz in these suburbs.
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"Cause same, no, we’re not the same
But that’s what makes us strong."

Early in March we drove two full days in my determined white Corolla, filled with tools and coconut-oil popcorn and four grown people and one growing person.  Oklahoma was our stop.  And to build the roof was our goal.  Caleb shouldered the largest responsibility, obviously, but we were dependent on our brothers and a few good friends.  One month.  We had one month to get it done.  

This dream-house has been a part of a number of mind-makeovers the last few years.  As a single boy, Caleb envisioned a dark, cozy, log lodge.  As I've said before, Hollywood High Heels Sparkles Leigh over here, ah-ha, well, didn't.  So we've imagined together what this house could be.  Decorations aside, what's the point of it?  We both want it to function like a suburban home - with cars and friends and people over constantly.  We want it to be warm and welcoming.  We want space for people to come and stay the night or stay the week or stay the month.  As long as they don't fuss when it's time to watch the Thunder games.  We want this house to buzz with life and bodies in the peace of it's Solitude Forest.  What once was a home with two or three bedrooms has turned into a home with five or six, and plans for another two-four to be added on someday.  One bathroom became four bathrooms.  The kitchen moved from being tucked away under the stairs into the great room, siamese twins with the family room where couches, eating, TV, the fireplace and food all happily spill together into the same space.  But first.  We needed a roof.

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Day One on the site was crucial.  We needed to hunt down two oak trees to hold the roof up.  We called them our Giving Trees, chopped down to keep us safe and dry.  I was surprised at how emotional I was when we decided on them.  They were - are - so beautiful.  And we have twenty acres full of them.  And I'm no "tree-hugger" but I found myself wishing I could say "Thank you, pretty tree."  Maybe what I was feeling was gratitude to God - He made these trees so lovely, and it really is an honor to use them in our home.
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After chopping the trees down, they had to be hauled from their location on our property over to the house.  The next step was bracing them upright so the roof construction could begin on them.  They look so little "inside"!
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Once the trees were quite secure, it was time for the gables to go up and the framing to begin.
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The framing took a long, long time.  This house is not simple and the angles are sharp, steep and frequent.  It took tough patience and OCD-awareness to cut and arrange every single board in the perfect place.
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Midway through the framing process, Caleb had the topped of his finger smashed off.  See the long boards on the right of the house? ^ He was straddling the middle board that those are leaning on, with a nail gun, while the guys pushed boards up to him.  He'd "catch" the board, place it on the beam, and nail it down.  One time his hand was to close to the beam and the guys pushed the board up harder than they had in the past.  His finger jammed between the beam and board and the top popped off, yet was held on by his finger nail.  We rushed to the Guthrie hospital for Lidocaine, stitches and hopefully positive news.  It was not this woman's favorite part of the trip :-/  But thankfully, six weeks later, it's healed up very nicely.  A little weird shaped and the nerves are shot, but his finger is all there!  After the finger incident, he developed a corneal ulcer.  So he went to work everyday with a giant bandage/wrap/cast on his hand and a pirate-patch on his eye.  So pitiful and cute ;)
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Day after day, early morning into late dark night, over and over, he and the boys, and I would drive up and down this road.  From town to his parent's house to our house.  Bit by bit, again and again.  Until we were finally ROOFED IN.  The day shingles went up was a day of celebration.  The site was like an anthill and the energy was colored.  Hot donuts from Missy's sat in a nearly untouched white box.  Everyone was too excited to eat.

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While the "shingles crew" worked away outside, another set of guys started the interior framing.   This part of the project was up in the air.  Not necessary to get done this trip, but would certainly be nice to have completed!  They ended up having enough time and man-power to go for it.  In this next picture you can see the two trees holding up the roof.  A staircase will eventually lead up inbetween these trees to the second floor loft.  The top floor has a number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as a staircase leading to the massively-cool third story tower bedroom.  Under the loft: aka the first floor, is the master bedroom and bathroom, powder room and laundry room... then in the "open" area under the trusses are the kitchen, dining room and living room.
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I drew chalk on the concrete where I wanted all the walls to go... My lines are wicked straight ;)
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This is the view into the living room - the fire place is on the right, the kitchen is on the left.
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Before long there was a second floor!  Incredible.
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This is looking down into the master bedroom and walk-in closet:
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Our good friend Wild Bill brought by some freshly milled cedar wood.  He makes all kinds of brilliant chairs and swings and beds and frames and hope chests and... well... anything, really! out of that gorgeous, fragrant, red wood. We hope to make some doors and window sills out of our own cedars :)
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Dave and Kate (and Little Lillian and Keith) have popped up a few times in this post.  They are our next door neighbors, jolly good friends and the owners/runners of Merrick Valley Family Farm (certified organic, woot woot!).  They have a fascinating homestead.  I love to listen to them talk about their beliefs and ideas, and how they practically make them happen.  They are dreamers and do-ers and just so friendly and dear.  We love them.
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A good summary of my life ;)
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Dear Man,
I loved that you bought this land, and planned for this house, before I even loved you.  Now that we're in love and committed to love and I know you a whole lot better than I did when I first visited this land, I see how much of you is hidden in these twenty acres, like it was hidden in your heart.  Obvious things, like the design and architecture of this house.  While friends, and even your twin brother, built and recommended you build a more classic, traditional, straight-foward home.  Time and cost efficient, solid and relatively easy.  It made all the logical and practical sense in the world.  But you just couldn't do it.  A layered, dimensional, 45-degreed, intricate home was in your soul, and you just had to go for it.  A home where every single room is shaped differently, each with it's own set of personality and potential.  It's you.  And subtle things, like your visions for the rounded driveway, and the view that any guest would first see when arriving at the house.  Your vision for a green yard with lots of room for sports and play - in the middle of the woods.  Your plans for new additions, more houses on the property, and a bandstand at the top of the hill, where all the redbuds bloom, so we can have summer concerts with friends - it's all you.

When I first met you, I assumed you were a simple, straight-forward, traditional guy.  I had no idea how many corridors and ideas and mysteries and angles you had hidden away in you.  I had no idea you were so full of creativity and energy and imagination.  I had no idea you were so picky and thorough and flexible and spontaneous.  I assumed you were predictable and you've proven to be wonderfully surprising.   Consistent, yes.  Dependable, yes.  Predictable, no.

I love you, and all the parts of you know and I'll the parts of you yet to know.  Thank you for giving us this beautiful part of yourself.  I can't wait to tell our kids all these stories, and to show them all these pictures, and for them to get to know you, too.  You have worked far too hard to make this thing in your head a real place for us to enjoy.  And I adore it.  Even though I still sometimes get nervous about living in Oklahoma, those 20 acres - and that house in particular - is my favorite place in the entire world.

I love you. And I'm proud of you and just want to brag about you for pages.  "You have a beautiful mind." ;)

Love,
Me
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Someday a spiral staircase will lead up to this small and magical third story tower room... but for now a hole in the floor board will do ;)
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Check out the progress! I'm obsessed.
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I can see it so clearly: windows in, deck built, grass grown, grill smoking, music playing, watermelon sliced.  I get carried away thinking about evenings here, ten years from now.
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Good bye, house.  This was the last time we saw you... we're planning on being back in the fall, with a squishy ol' baby.  We have some windows to put in -- let's see if we can save the money in time ;)  We love you, Red Dirt House and can't wait for all the stories yet to come.  It was such a happy, sweet month of our lives putting this roof on.  The best is yet to come...
Remember when we said when we turned gray When the children grow up and move away We won't be sad, we'll be glad For all the life we've had And we'll remember when