Another post that has been rattling around my head for a few weeks. Naming a farm. (Yeah, I need to write about the visitation, funeral, and all that… But I am just not ready to get into all of that right now)
I talked about this before… When we named Summer. It was a time of new beginnings and optimism. There was a time when we lived on the Green Valley farm that we gained a sense of permanence or co-existence to the property. I don’t think we ever thought we would move from that house. It was our family, a few horses, and a stout house on 3 acres that could brave any storm. The house really did feel like it was a granite pillar protruding from the earth. An immovable object, immune to the years washing around it.
So much hyperbole!
Angela let it be known to me that she always wanted a ranch sign. One of those giant structures constructed out of trees as big as telephone poles that create a gateway into your property. (This is long before Yellowstone!) My problem with that was that our house was immediately adjacent to Christmas Tree Road. Our driveway was no longer than someone who lived in Pekin on a city street. We had a little too much civility for a rough-cut wooden entryway to our Shangrila.
Shangrila was not going to work either. I needed to name the farm.
In some weird Spanish language appropriation… (So woke!) I used the name Rancho Del Stahlo. Assuming it meant something like “The Stahl Ranch”. I never printed it or made a yard sign… But I did make it a “thing” digitally.
Way back… Early 2000’s ish… I used to tag everything with 4Square. As a precursor to Yelp or Google Maps, 4Square was an app that Google was using to mark local businesses. The genius of it was that it relied on users to enter all the info. That meant ANYTHING could be tagged as a landmark or business. I remember Pat Fort having fun with it (he’s always cutting edge) and thought it would be fun to mark our home as “Rancho Del Stahlo” on the web.
That stuck… Really well. Every picture or “tag” at our home was now part of the Rancho story.
Fast forward to 2011ish… When did we move? I can’t remember! I needed a name for the new place. We were now a much larger property on Allentown Road and that cheesy name was not going to transfer well. We needed something a bit more legit. I really did think about this and generated a new name.
La Finca De Maravilla.
I have no idea what translation site I was using. My inspired name “The Farm of Wonders”, per google Translate today says it should read “la granja de las maravillas”. Not quite the same vibe. I do like La Granja though.
The Farm of Wonders was a name chosen to reflect my hopes and dreams that this house would be a sanctuary of freedom and creation for the family. (Here comes that 70’s Fairbury Hippy again!)
Again, like Rancho. I added the location digitally to Facebook and other sites. Eventually, the location gained legitimacy online. friends like PJ would come by and make reviews when they stopped by. “great food, but service is a bit slow”
Over time… The name has held fast. And fairly accurate. I love all the family gatherings that have detoured and migrated out of the house and into the woods. It’s the best place to let kids play. Summer and Aiden have had their friends over en masse after I redid the basement. (This was the main reason I wanted to move… So the kids could bring friends here… And I could fully “helicopter”) (That was a joke… Mostly. ) Having the space for the kids to have to themselves was always part of the goal as well.
At some point, because I didn’t think anyone cared or knew the farm name lineage, I thought I might change the name to The House of Wasps. I had read an article by the singer Poe about her theme on the album “Haunted” and how it was based on her brother’s book the “The House of Leaves”. I was getting stung or chased by a hornet and I was thinking that my house of wonders might be a house of infestation. I have been stung more at that house than at any other place in my life. We constantly have wasps of all varieties flying in and out of the house, garage, and barn. You name it… Wasps, Dobbers, Hornets, Jackets… We have them all. Fortunately, I didn’t rage-change the name.
The last few days of hospice were mentally and emotionally draining. But I do remember coming in the front door and looking at our chalkboard that has been corrupted by the kids over the years. “Welcome to La Finca de Maravilla” was the bold proclamation. Amazingly, that script is still there but it is now surrounded by poop comments from Aidens friends. Seriously, I have watched the devolution of comic literacy as Summers friends migrated out and Aidens replaced them. Everything written has been in good fun and I never wanted to touch it.
One of Summer’s friends had written “The Stahl family is my favorite family” nearly a decade ago… And I loved that. Then one of Aidens friends made a toilet joke out of it. (Argh!)
Even though we were in hospice and I knew what the end result was going to be. I never in my wildest dreams imagined a day when Summer would pass. Just like every treatment, every recovery… We live in the moment. This moment will last forever? Right? When “the inevitable ” happens or happened… It was the worst day of my life. A day that I would not wish on anyone. Even if I hate you with every cell of my being. I could not wish that pain on anyone. It’s indescribable. If you have lived it. You know. If you know. You did a hell of a job of shielding me from it.
No preparation can make it better.
That chalkboard at the front door says (loosely translated) Farm of Wonders. I really do feel like it’s not so wonderful or miraculous right now. Maybe I should change it? I contacted Summer and Aidens Spanish teacher, Jen, about a translation. See, I did learn that google translate is not all-knowing!
Casa Siempre Verano?
Or maybe just Siempre Verano?
Regardless of my plans and initiative to change the farm name… Rules for digital names to locations have become greatly enhanced in the last 10 years. I cannot change the name of an “unofficial” page on Facebook. I can only recommend a change. Good luck with that. So, my bravado to tear down what I have built in cyberspace has been halted and given me time to ponder.
I am still thinking about changing the farm name… But I am open to keeping it as well. Maybe the Farm of Wonders has some healing capacity built into its story? It got our family this far on this sled. Maybe it doesn’t need to change at all? I will waffle on this for a while. Weeks, months, years?
Feedback is appreciated.
But, if I keep getting stung… Then all bets are off!!! I might call it the “House of Flying Insect Killer”.