Warning: The Stuff That Gets In the Way of Our Dreams

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The Stuff of Dreams:  Turns Out - It May Not Be

I love a good epiphany.  The kind that makes me tingle, then electric, from top to bottom.  I’ve learned to embrace this feeling and run with it, physically and mentally, taking inspired action when this sensation washes over me.

It can happen anywhere, any time.  This one happened in the garage.

My little house in the vineyard is small and beautiful.  The focus of my interior design has been to highlight the spectacular 360* view of the surrounding vineyards and Douglas fir trees that really differentiate Willamette Valley from any other wine country we have lived in or traveled to.

The constant gift of green during the grayest of winter days or the cooling backdrop the hues provide in the dry, dusty, late summer here in this part of Oregon, are the elixir of life and light to my soul all year long.

For a little more than five years, my wine-making husband and I have completely overhauled the interior and landscape of this once forsaken property to create what I call our tiny, “Shangrala-tee-da”.   The blood, sweat and even broken bones we have endured to turn our living and loving space into our haven, have been worth every splinter and bruise.

Now that our children are out of toddler-hood, we have evolved to a place where I have thoughtfully begun to pursue a higher quality in really “living” in this small space with four people.   To me, our home is more wonderful and welcoming when it is clean and organized.   I believe this allows us to find out what our creative passions and intellectual center may be without the weight and chaos of clutter.

Every autumn has brought so much joy out here.  It’s my favorite season, containing my favorite month, October.  It is when our grape harvest, as well as my garden harvest, lengthens the shorter days and fills every hour with my kind of fun.

Autumn vineyard-garden goodies

While some aficionados drink in the Willakenzie, Belpine, Santiam and Dupee soil types out here because of the terroir, or “typicity of site’, that the soils are believed to contribute to wine, I struggle with what I know as M-U-D, all over the place.

My intention was pretty simple.  I wanted a mud room.  The creative part and “dolling it up”, could come later.  First, though was the big clean up.  Ugh.

As I begin to rifle through and inspect what had become the indoor play area in the garage, the kids use, I notice that there were literally hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars worth of name brand “toys” and “games” in piles, storage containers and boxes.  While this stuff was strewn all about the garage, they were not at the moment nor had even recently been played with.

At first I was disgusted, thinking of all of the money.

Then all of the world’s children who don’t have a Barbie doll or Mr. Potato Head, let alone “light sabers” in both blue and the red.  My anger over the situation rose to a greater height when I spied the box of several dozens of “dress up clothes” we had purchased from very specific “princess” types to a certain bespectacled, forehead-scar-possessing wizard’s, cloak.

Jack the rabbit playing in the cornNot surprisingly, during the tidying up, my children were out playing in our corn patch with Jack, our pet bunny, using last year’s dried grapevines as swords at this very moment, when it HIT ME!

They spend more time playing with paper towel roll inserts,  digging holes in the back garden, climbing trees, swinging in the tire swing and making playhouses out of  the large cork boxes daddy brings home than any TOY they’ve ever received!

All of this stuff in the garage was just that — stuff –  and it was getting in the way of my dreams.

For all of the times (weekly) that I have said to my children, “Either play with your toys or I am going to donate them“,  the result was the same.  Five to fifteen minutes of time with the stuff, whenever I make this threat, and then back to what they really liked – creating their very own toys out of the items in our recycling bins, and running in the vineyard.

Playing with chickensThe entire time I spent cleaning and organizing the toys that were manufactured,  I swear I kept feeling a lightening of my spirit.

I was envisioning the faces of little ones, who unlike my children, live less than bucolic lives, and perhaps, actually need something shiny, plastic, motorized or noise making to brighten their days.

Moving through the space to separate real trash from all of the stuff that could be recycled, offered a feeling of deep cleansing of my soul.

Each time I loaded up the mini-van, drove into town to the electronics recycling depot and on to the other donations spots, I got an honest-to-goodness thrill!

This experience gave me a perma-smile that has lasted through the week.

I have been more blessedly productive than any time in recent memory.  It went beyond the garage, too. It’s as if the great clean up cleared my head as well.  I baked several batches of Devil’s Food cupcakes with vanilla bean, butter-cream frosting, cleaned the hen house, turned it into more of a barn and moved the bunny’s hutch out to it.

I harvested several pounds of my heirloom tomatoes and made delicious sauce to top Tuesday’s homemade pizza and crafted the most wonderful roasted tomato soup.

Devil's food cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting and edible garden flowersThe children and I popped over to the vineyard crew to deliver the cupcakes with a hand-written note in Spanish thanking them for all that they do, and then later tootled out and had our very first experience at a “bottle return” facility, where we learned some home school lessons of the day in both economics as well as patience.

playing in the mudI feel unencumbered and free to be as happy as my big dreams can transport me now that the barnacles of stuff have been scraped off of my bottom.

As for my children, and how much they miss their stuff?

I’d ask them, but they’re outside playing in the M-U-D!

See you next Sunday –


  • Heather Montgomery, Product Launch Dreams

    Love the tomato harvest! Your photos rock and I’m loving the donation story. I’ve been working on getting my teenager to clear out the kid stuff. Maybe by the time he heads out for college…

    Thanks for the trip around the vineyard – H

    • Oh Heather!

      Thanks a bunch for the compliments, I love my tomatoes:)

      It’s all really MY pleasure to share.

      Have a beauty of a day!


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  • Mike and Jane

    Just stumbled on your web site while Googling!! This brings back memories of growing up in the country and my mom’s wonderful breakfasts!
    Great photographs – yummy looking food!

    • Hey there Mike and Jane!

      Glad you stumbled our way! LOVE that my little story brings back yummy memories. HAH! That’s terrific.

      Thanks for the compliments and I sure hope you visit me again next Sunday.

      Cheers to you,


  • I love your stories and the images. Something must be in the air — I’ve started clearing my back patio. It tends to get cluttered over the summer. It’s such a great feeling to clear space. I always tell everyone if they are stuck with their dream is go through their house, or the most cluttered space in their home and clear it all out.

    Whenever I read your writing I feel like I am right there with you!