Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chicken Farmer

This would be the view of the girls from our perspective:

This would be the view of the world from their perspective:

Dawg wants these girls somethin' bad. She races up and down the perimeter of the chicken coop, thinking it will just magically open, and let her on in. The hens, they don't care. They peck her little snout through the fence if she gets too close, like she is in this picture. They are bigger than her, and they know it.

Our family lives on an old chicken farm. Jeremy's grandparents raised a bazillion chickens  (okay, maybe not a bazillion, but more like 13,000+ which is still a lot to cluck about) and supplied the Island and West Seattle with eggs way back in the day. Our property is dotted with old chicken coops from the operation, some of which I use as backdrops in my photography work, and one we have hauled over to a spot near the garden, that now houses our girls.  I love to look at this coop. As with many farm operations, you use everything, nothing is wasted. The holes are patched with pounded out tin cans and stapled or nailed to the side. The wood is sometimes mismatched, but now weathered long enough to an even color. The tin roof has a nicely rusted  patina, indicating it's seniority. The latch to the door is just a piece of metal with a nail bent inwards to hold it closed. It has so much character, it almost feels like a personality on our property. I love everything about it.

We got our first batch of chickens when I was pregnant with Grace. I became quite attached to that flock right away, as we hand picked them out at Del's, and brought them home. I held them close to my belly during the car ride, careful, and hopeful, that this batch would all survive. I wasn't in any condition to have one die. I know they are just chickens, but being in the fragile state that I was, they symbolized a hope of survival. I needed them to survive.

They all did, and we named them after supermodels, except for my favorite one, which I named Dorothy. They grew, as did my belly, and soon gave us eggs which made us very, very happy. With the exception of one who keeled over one day a year later, they all made it until one morning we came out, and raccoons had tunneled their way under our fencing which we thought we had secure. It was a terrible loss. There is a sick feeling in your gut when you walk to the coop and all you see is feathers, feathers everywhere, then entrails hanging from the fencing where it caught. I try to find a purpose in all animals, but I despise  raccoons. Their furry cuteness doesn't fool me at all. They are horrible animals, and have earned it with all the chicken slaying they have done on this property. Bad. Nasty. I'll get off my soapbox now.

After they picked off that flock, we got another flock, only to have the raccoons rip through our steel fencing on a very cold winters night, and do away with them. After that, Jeremy spent a day making it Fort Knox, and then we got a flock of fifty when we did our farming gig. After two years of eggs taking up every available square inch of our fridge, we gave the bulk of our chickens to our neighbors, and kept twelve. Of those twelve, eight are still alive, and this weekend, we brought home eight more new babies to add to the brood.

So as you see, Grace has inherited the chicken farmer gene that runs in Jeremy's family. I wonder if it will carry on into adulthood, or if this will be just a childhood memory of hers. 50/50 chance, I think.


The weather was exceptional this weekend, and the sky delivered  an amazing azure color.

The blue was super deep, almost an apologetic deep, for the rain and cold that had preceded it. These are the blossoms in my back yard that take my breath away. With each breath of a breeze it snows cherry blossoms that my girl likes to dance in. Beautiful, sky blue weekend. Speaking of weekends, I will have to skip the next post, and be back in two weeks as my friend and PIC (Photographer in Crime) Sarah and I, kick off our wedding season photography with two back to back weddings.

Until then, may the days be sunnier, warmer, and inviting. Go outside. Eat lunch on the porch. Let your feet go al fresco. Plant something. Go for a walk. Get some baby chicks. Pick some daffodils. Sit under a cherry tree and let it snow on you. Soak up the spring of 2012. Dr's orders. And if you have the energy of a seven year old, go out at dusk, and jump rope barefoot.

: )

See you in two weeks!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Country Mouse, City Mouse

This week, we took our little country mouse into the big city.


 It is the city I grew up next to. The city where my father has worked almost all my life. The city with the magical skyline. It is where I bought my fake ID when I was 16 (sorry, mom. no worries, tho. it never worked, anyway.). It held our high school proms. It is where I ate the best clam chowder of my life. It is where I ice skated at Christmas time. The city where I kissed my husband at the top of the Space Needle on senior prom night The city of many, many memories. It is also the city in which there were lots of doctor appointments in. The city that spawned panic attacks thinking about it. The city that could not help my daughter survive. The city where my Vanessa took her last breath.

It took a long, long time to go near the city again.

I had no desire at all to visit the city after Vanessa died. Just being near the city, or having to go past the James Street exit, gave me panic. It still does, sometimes, and I avert my eyes when it comes, and hold my breath in until we've passed that exit. Every time. It will haunt me forever, I suppose.

I just did not want to go near that area of the city, or anywhere within a ten mile radius of it, so I stayed away from the city for almost ten years, waiting, until my feet could stand a little sturdier, and memories wouldn't wash away whatever joy was to be had that day. Almost ten whole years.

This week, I was finally able to take the past, and put it snug away in my back pocket. It was there, but hidden. Kept safe and out of site while we enjoyed the day. I felt it, it squirmed a little, but stayed put, right where I wanted it.

 Grace was on spring vacation this past week, and badly wanted to do one thing: Visit the International District. In the City.

International District, you, say? Yes. She wanted a pretty fan. And chopsticks, too. So, Jeremy took the day off, and we headed to the big city via the Metro.

Now, Jeremy, is a serious country mouse. I watched him at the bus stop, just as excited as Grace, to have a day in the city.  He looked anticipatory and a bit out of place, being the country mouse that he is. On the bus, we sat facing the side of the bus which thrilled Grace, and instantly made me nauseous. "It was not what she expected," she told me. "It felt like a Disneyland ride!" she said, grinning. I gave her the thumbs up and a grin on my green face.

Jeremy stuck his long legs out and read the paper. I could tell he was so happy not to be driving. His cousin boarded the bus on the ferry, and Jeremy, with his loud voice announced to him (and the whole bus) that it was his very first ride on the Metro, ever! Country mouse, I tell you. Half the bus looked at him and gave a snortle. I don't think he noticed.

We chatted with his cousin, and met his new girlfriend as we enjoyed the ride. I panicked a little as we entered the city not knowing exactly where to get off at, so I followed the bulk of riders that exited off the most popular stop, the lemming that I am.

"Where are we?" Jeremy asked.

"Dunno. But I saw Pike Place, so I think we should head down there."

So we did.

I do love the market.

                                                                    No problema.

We got there early enough that the crowd didn't pull you along just yet, so we grabbed a bite and just people watched and listened to music.

                                     Breakfast of champions. Worth the stomach ache that followed.

The music was great. There was this collective lightness it gave the crowd, especially with favorites belted out such as Yellow Submarine, and Chasing Cars. One guy was singing the popular song "Little Lion Man" by Mumford and Sons. I caught Jeremy's eye right before the chorus as we were both wondering what he would substitute for the bleeped out parts.
 No substitutions.  Dude, we're in the city.

And of course we had to oogle at the seafood.

Soon, the market became a noisy crowded place as we moved deeper in. I had told Grace about some of the history of the market being a bit haunted and all, so she was on the hunt for ghosts.

She was disappointed that we didn't find any, and made me promise to bring her back in October for the ghost tour. weeee'lll seeee, leeetle oneee.



We did find some treasure to bring home, back to the country. A blown glass pumpkin I couldn't pass up. A bouquet of market flowers. Yummy overpriced pasta. Dark chocolate sea salt caramel sauce. A snow globe. And a new star for Gracie's room:

                                       The blue star is now in her window. A lil' bit of the city.

Then, we moved up from the bowels of the Market back into the daylight to meet my dad at the pig, and go out to lunch.


We decided to go to Lowell's, made famous from the movie Sleepless in Seattle. I don't remember it in the movie, but the fish and chips were very yummy, and the view, spectacular.


My favorite place of the day was this olive oil, balsamic tasting room. The whole store was just olive oils and balsamic vinegars. I could have spent hours in there, but I was on family time, so I had to make it quick!

                                         My dad and Grace waiting oh, so patiently.

It was then time for Grace to make a decision. Hop on a bus and head to the International District, or head to the waterfront where she spied the carousel while lunching at Lowell's, and buy a fan and chopsticks at the Market. No brainer. We headed down to the waterfront, after purchasing the fan.

There was a Big moment, before getting on the carousel. Another nod to Tom Hanks for the day.

After many rounds of skee ball, and taking an hour to pick prizes out from the winnings ( a birthstone ring and a whoopee cushion), it was time to meander to Starbucks and hop on the foot ferry.

                                                                You so silly, Seattle.

We were offered a ride. Even complimentary Pandora from an ipod he rigged up for our listening pleasure. Today, we're on foot. Maybe next time. : )

And then, it was time to board the ferry.

 Back to the country, for us country mice.

The city will always hold hurt, but it can also bring new joy to that pain. For now tho, I will tread lightly, and visit on the days when the hurt is not so surfaced.

I will take some city home with me, all bottled up. I will give it a shake when I want something beautiful out of it, and trade it for the hurt.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Never grow up

So, my taxes are done. Signed, sealed, delivered. Sigh of relief.

A wall color has been chosen and carefully sprayed on the walls by Jeremy and his dad (thank you, Don!). The color we finally chose was Gull by Martha Stewart. I can't seem to stretch my palate to a color that doesn't belong to the beige family, but my red dining room/kitchen is the yin to that yang, I think...Oh, and before I forget, I fibbed. That Bella Cucina blender I posted about in the last post is more like $30. It also got lukewarm reviews. I've had mine for years and never had a problem, but seems like some people have. Boo.

So, I know most of you Facebook. I do. I have this love/hate thing going on about it. I love to know the happenings of people, what they are thinking, how their lives are going, stuff I would otherwise not know so much of. I love to see pictures of families, kiddos, vacations, etc., I love the connections. The basic goodness of it.  But,

The love part of it is: You get to go back to High School.
The hate part of it is: You get to go back to High School.

 I went to a high school that had a small student body, only about 115 or so, give or take a few, in my graduating class. A good chunk of my friends on fb are people I went to school with.  A lot of those people I have known since we were itty bitty kindergartners. And even if we barely talked, or were good friends throughout those years, I feel we have a history together, of growing up here.

 After high school, as people do, we were spread far and in between.  Being one of the few that stayed put on The Rock, I thought I had lost touch with so many people. I was sad to think that I may never know what the people I spent the last twelve years with were up to, and how they were, what they were doing. Years sped by, which also brought with it a weirdness. Nobody was the same person as we were back then. Every once in awhile I would run into someone from high school, at Thriftway or something, visiting the Island, and it was weird.  Do I say something? Do they remember me? Oh, no! I think I remember her name...It's been a long time.. Great. I'm in my sweats, and gross yard boots....I haven't seen you in ten years, and yes, my hair style has not changed, and my kid sometimes screams at the check stand. Even if we had known each other well back in the day, there was this shy weirdness.

Facebook, has taken a little of that away, for most of us passive aggressive folk. There are the people that never post a status or a comment. Dude. Not foolin' anyone. We all know you are on fb as much as we all are, you silent stalker, you. Then there are the folks that status update every five minutes. Don't worry. We're tuning in. You make it interesting. What I love about it, is that even though we are friends on fb, and may have avoided each other in the supermarket the other day, I know you're OK, and have virtually met your family. Fb is great news, for shy people. And I'm so glad to know that you all are doing so great.

What's not so great about fb is it can bring up those adolescent feelings of high school. All those icky self esteem issues. We may be adults now, but more so like older versions of our younger selves. I can't speak for all you, of course, but there are days when I feel old, old, old, and then there are days I feel like a clumsy teenager. Yep. Welcome to the mid-thirties.

 Fb can make you feel less than, quickly, or even hurt your feelings by what people do, or don't say.  What's also not so great about fb, is it can bring out the nastiness in people. Strangers fighting with strangers, duking it out on comments under a mutual friends post. I notice hot subjects usually do the trick, and set the stage for heated arguments. It sure can lead to hard feelings and once it's there, it's there for the world to see. Not so great.

Fb is what you make of it, I suppose. It can be a tricky mine field or a lovely place to hang out. Whatever the case, if you can, make it a good place to be, because it houses your friends.

With that thought, make way, because this is headed to a town near you:

Since our family observes a weekend full of Easter celebrations, my weekly post will be a bit late next week. Let the hunt begin!

Have a Happy Easter, everyone!