Monday, December 28, 2009

Once when I was in Boone ...

About fifteen years ago when our friend, Nathan lived in Boone, NC we had this conversation about how some parts of the world carry certain vibrational energies that coincide with an individuals energy. I tend to only truly believe things that have some scientific research behind them (except for God but that's another story) but I like that idea because it feels like my experience of the world. I feel more energized and at peace in rural areas than in the city. Maybe that's just because the air is cleaner and there isn't all that "industrial" noise. Anyway, I'm in a huge period of discontent right now where I feel like I'm just slogging through the slow-moving time until 2011 when we can start looking for a farm to move to.

The holidays ended up being nice and relaxing. Well, after the norovirus swept through our house. About ten days before Christmas my poor daughter woke up late at night with horrible stomach pains and ended up puking all night. The next day we had to take her to Children's Hospital because she was getting dehydrated and when I called her doctor to ask her for some anti-nausea medication she said to take her to Childrens to make sure there was nothing serious. After we got home from the hospital my inbox was filled with emails from other moms in her class saying their kids had the same thing. It literally rips me apart inside when she's sick like that. Luckily it sounds like only one other kids in her class got so sick she had to get medicine in order to get re-hydrated. At least they are super nice at Childrens and seem to have endless energy to be sympathetic to sick kids and freaked out parents. And they brought her a Santa beanie baby and the nurses brought us coffee after they came in and found our daughter asleep on the stretcher and the two of us asleep in our chairs (we had been up all night afterall). A couple days later my poor husband got nice and sick so we sent our daughter off to my parents for the night where she had much more fun than she would've had at home.

Thankfully we were all well by Christmas so we went out to my parent's house for the day. My brother and his wife were there and for the first time my cousin, Marge and her boyfriend, Richard actually showed up. Marge used to raise horses and barrel race but she had surgery to fuse some herniated discs in her neck last year so I don't think she'll be riding Girlfriend. But we still have fun talking about horses and the Australian Shepherds she breeds and shows.

My sister-in-law gives me the distinct impression that she feels like she needs to save our family from our non-intellectual, white-trashness though. And Marge, being a rural girl at heart like me - well, put the two of us together and it seemed like there were at least a few sighs of disapproval from my sister-in-law. The thing is, we are not non-intelligent. We are quite intelligent in our own interests, it's just that our interests do not include philosophy or "the right kind of art" or gourmet cooking. Why do people think that makes them so important, I wonder? There are so many people who find value in themselves by the art pieces they have hanging on their wall or because they eat at "the right restaurants", and then they look down their noses at people like say, me or Marge or my mom because we just eat what we like, don't see the need to spend lots of money at a trendy restaurant and like the art that we like, whether or not it has been approved by the critic or art history professor who tells us what we are allowed to like and dislike.

In my opinion, that is just another form of consumerism. It's not as overt as the people who stay up all night in line the day before "Black Friday" in order to buy the latest hot video games at Wal-Mart, but it's still no different. It reminds me of the line in a song I really liked in the early 90's by a then-unknown band named Cake that played around Sacramento when I lived there. The song was How Do You Afford Your Rock-n-Roll Lifestyle? and there is a line in it that makes me think of the intellectual lifestyle - "You're drinkin' what they're sellin'".

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fa la la la la

I'm in a very good mood today despite that when I went out to the car this morning I saw that someone had broken into it. Luckily, they didn't take anything because there was nothing valuable (at least on their radar) to steal. I did have our expensive equestrian riding helmets in the car but apparently inner-city car prowlers don't realize they are worth a lot. And I'm happy they didn't break a window, although I am baffled at how they got in the car since I know it was locked.

I was so distracted by the fact that the car had been broken into, and putting all the junk back in the glove compartment and under the seat, that I completely forgot to bring my coat out to the car. My husband and daughter dropped me off at the stable to see Girlfriend and went to pick up lunch and I thought for a moment I was going to freeze. But once I was moving around I was fine and it was 40 degrees out by then. Plus, Girlfriend puts out a lot of warmth so I got her groomed as quickly a I could so I could ride her and warm up.

She was really pissy since I have only ridden twice in the last month. She didn't even want to walk she was so ancy and pissy. She was jigging all over the place and I had to take a lot of deep breaths because if I get mad then we just get into a power struggle but if I stay totally relaxed and keep giving the same firm "We're walking!" command over and over again until she does it things calm down much quicker. If I give her a slap on the rump or a hard kick like I can do with Doc if he were to act up, she'd buck or bolt or both. I gave her a good hard, quick yank on the outside rein the couple times she tried to bolt and all that succeeded in doing was make her toss her head. She really is very good practice at being Zen with one's emotions, but the calmer I get the quieter I talk, the calmer and quieter she gets even though I can feel all this energy running through her body because she wants to run. But she's an old lady and she can't just go out into the arena with a rider on her back and suddenly start running without warming up her muscles.

Just to give her credit after about ten or fifteen minutes she really mellowed out and I ended up riding her with my feet out of the stirrups and she was fine. I've noticed if she gets super amped up, if I take my feet out of the stirrups it calms her right down because I'm assuming she was never ridden in competition bareback. Of course, last week when I rode her and had my feet out of the stirrups, she spooked when a flock of ducks outside the arena took off in flight in her peripheral vision, but somehow I stayed on. I was annoyed with myself because my instant reaction was to wrap my legs around her middle to hold on, but she somehow miraculously did not take that as a sign to run. Maybe because I was also simultaneously leaning back in the saddle and saying, "Sssssh ... you're ok." and I let go with my legs really quickly. But still I was disappointed that it was my initial instinctual reaction along with leaning back and saying "Ssshhh...". I'd be more proud of myself if I'd just done the latter.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Maybe. But you're still a bozo.

I will explain the subject title later. First I want to say that I had one of my grand ideas and now I feel the need to research the heck out of it. I think I want to be a chicken farmer. Not one of those awful commercial ones but a free range chicken farm. With part of the focus being to educate the public on just how bad mass-produced meat is for us. It brings to mind a couple years ago when I was in the Safeway by my house and asked the guy working in the meat department if the chickens had antibiotics in them. He said, "Of course they do. You don't want to eat a sick chicken, do you?" To which I could only stare at him in amazement then turn and walk away muttering, "Damn!"

I want to have an actual free range farm and people can come to farm tours and actually see where the meat and eggs come from and the conditions the animals live in. There would also be a chicken cam (yes - the chicken cam!) for people out of town to see where their meat comes from. I started thinking about this over a year or so ago when I got a Draper Valley Farms Ranger free-range chicken (which was quite expensive) and the poor thing was all scrawny and had very little muscle and lots of adipose tissue (fat) where it was not natural for a chicken. Which by the way you won't see unless you buy whole chickens. My dad told me that all you need to say that something is "free range" is an opening where the chicken can go to from their cage, even if that opening is just a tiny concrete patch. Further research has shown that to be true. Apparently, these chickens have the option of being free range and would rather lie on the couch, eat junk food and play video games.

So, now I want to go visit the farms where the chickens are raised for Draper Valley Farms. I found their processing plant in Mt Vernon totally by accident while going out to Guemes Island last summer. Now I just need to find their farms and see what "free range" means to them. I'm sure it varies depending on whose farm it is that the chicken came from.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking chicken farm. It actually relaxes me to go out and take care of our three chickens - even manual tasks like cleaning the coop is relaxing. And they are funny little buggers. This afternoon when the sun went down, the wind had blown the door shut to do their coop so they all fell asleep at the top of the ramp next to the door. I was trying to get Alina to wake up and move so I could open the door for them, but she wouldn't wake up. Finally I just shoved her off the ramp and that pissed her, but I was able to get their coop door open for them. I poured their food into their bowl and Alina flew into the coop, quickly followed by Woodia (the cross-beak runt) who landed on Alina's back. Alina tried to shake her off and for a minute Woodia was surfing on Alina's back while Alina squawked and tried to shake her off. Alina finally managed to throw her off and Woodia landed in their food bowl, where with her wings still splayed she proceeded to start gobbling down food.

Entertaining as I find them, I still enjoy eating chicken. Therefor I would make a very good chicken farmer.

So, the subject title is from a website that a friend sent me a link to. It's a comparison of the ideas of people who believe that the Mayan calendar ends in 2012 thus signifying the end of the world and those who have scientific data to show that prediction is a bunch of hooey. I liked these two statements: "But Daniel Pinchbeck is the reincarnation of the Mayan god Quetzalcoatl!" "Maybe. But Quetzalcoatl is Mexican Atztec, not pre-Columbian Mayan". How that sounded in my head was "Maybe. But you're still a bozo." Here is the link to decide for yourself.

Speaking of the Mayan Calendar and the world ending, my lovely husband finally conceded and said he'd move to a farm with me in 2012 and people kept asking, "Why do you have to wait so long?" and I finally realized it is because that is when the world is going to end and he was hoping to get out of it by the world ended! He has since come down a year and the projected date is 2011. He's starting to show signs that he might actually enjoy living on a farm too. As long as their is high-speed internet and a few weirdos like us. I really want to go up outside of Monroe, WA because I already have a few weird friends like us who live out there. We'll see. Chicken farm.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas kitten!

I just realized I have not yet posted any photos of Emma June's Christmas kitten, Diamond on this blog. She is far cuter in person and I don't think that photos do her justice. She is almost completely black except for a few strands of hair on her chest which have just a tiny bit of white on their tips. My mom saw some photos on my Facebook page and said Diamond looks just like my kitten, Blackie that I got when I was five years old. My mom says I carried Blackie every where I went just like a little doll, and I realized I've been doing the same thing with Diamond when I'm the only one home.

I appear to be over the hell cold. Good lord. And life is back to its usual busy self. I don't think I'll get to see my horse until Wednesday when she has an appointment with the vet, and I probably won't have time to ride her unless I managed to get to the stable at an incredibly early hour. I know everyone thinks it's a pain in the butt to have to take care of a horse yourself, but I would rather have her live with me and have to feed her three times a day and muck her stalls, than not have the time to go out and see her more than once a week at most.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coop of Dreams Tour

Yesterday was a "coop of dreams" tour (based on the popular Street of Dreams tours of million mansion around Seattle) set up by Emma June's PE teacher. We were on the tour but didn't get that many people because we were later in the afternoon and I think people were getting cold and weary by then. I did a lot of talking about our chicken Alcatraz to keep the raccoons out, and about Woodia's cross-beak. I did not get to talk about composting but oddly, people are not usually interested in talking to me about composting. I really need to get a composting thermometer so I can figure out if my chicken manure compost will be ok for my garden when it's done. The big thing is whether or not the high nitrogen content of the chicken poop is evened out enough so that it's not either too low (which I think will be the case with mine because I have too much shavings in with the poop) or too high (not enough green or shavings in with the poop).

I foresee the end of my nasty cold. I'm still not feeling completely like myself but at least more so. Last night we went to a holiday party for an old friend from my high school days and I actually got to enjoy myself instead of blearly looking through a fog of painful sinuses and an inability to breath without heavy wheezing.

I have changed so much since high school it is fun to hang out with people who though they may not have changed like me, think I'm just fine the way I changed. And it's not that I changed from who I was completely, I have become who I was with the same interests I had as a kid and am not sure who that teenager was. I made a comment last night about how "that sounds familiar in that "other person I used to be" sort of way." And that is how it feels. I wonder what made me segue to being a girl who only cared about how she looked and if she was "cool" and loved being in the city. I guess I was trying to run away from myself. But it's nice to still have old friends who still like me even though I could care less about fashion and "being cool".

You may be thinking "But you're in your 40's - do you really have old friends who worry about being cool?" Sadly yes. There are still plenty of old friends from back in the day who are still concerned about their image and whether they are famous enough or whether they are connected well enough to famous people. There is a small component of Seattle that is like a Hollywood-lite but full of paler people with heavier sweaters, but just as much high school concern about how cool they are. They are not very interested in me anymore. Their eyes glaze over when I talk about the stuff I'm interested in. Which is fine with me although it has taken awhile to let go of caring about something so shallow that was once so important to me.

Meanwhile, Emma June and I had a little debate this morning about whether or not she can ride Cross Country in Eventing when she's a teenager. I say NO! Or at least not until there are some better regulations concerning Cross Country courses. Right now there are too many people and horses that are killed doing it and in my opinion it is a macho self-congratulatory sport for insecure people to bolster their egos. It is not about being a sport of skill because if it were it would not have the added part where if you mess up you or your horse could die. People make reference to cowboys being full of themselves and macho, but not as many cowboys die each year riding the bucking broncos as the refined English riders riding Cross Country. And horses don't die from bucking. As soon as the bucking strap is snapped off the horse calms down and all is well. Don't even get me started on how much I disapprove of Cross Country on so many levels.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

at least hurricanes aren't cold

My life has been derailed by a nasty, nasty worse-than-the-swine-flu-was cold for this entire week. Higher fever, feel awful, can't sleep. At least I could sleep through much of the swine flu. This week I've felt too awful to sleep and only can when I'm so exhausted I fall asleep for a couple hours. Grumble.

Anyway, because of this my husband has been on a lot of kid duty. And when he's not around she's been lying in bed watching tv with me which she likes a lot. Which is all well and good except for yesterday. I was lying in bed feeling horrid and watching Law & Order Special Victim's Unit to try and get my mind off how horrid I felt when my Emma June got home from school. I told her she could watch tv in my room with me (meaning kid shows on PBS) and that I would get her snack. I wandered into the kitchen in a daze to make her snack before collapsing back in bed and I hear, "Mama, I don't like this!" from the bedroom and I shuffle in to reailze "Aaack! I'd forgotten to the turn the tv off and she was watching Law & Order SVU!" Ooops. I apologized, turned the tv off, made her snack and came back and turned on Word Girl.

This week has been freakishly cold for Seattle. Every morning it has been about 19 degrees outside. And since I'm sick I can't walk EJ to school so my husband has. And every morning he comes back to the house and announces that it is too cold for living creatures. So today I pointed out that it never gets that cold on the Northshore of Lake Pontchatrain and also pointed out that hurricanes aren't cold. Apparently, this was not a good argument though because he just looked at me strangely for a moment and finally said, "That they are not."

Honestly, I'd much rather deal with hurricanes and flooding than the impending "big one" earthquake that is eventually going to hit Seattle. Sometime when sanity hits me I realize how incredibly stupid it is to own a house and live in a place that is guaranteed to be leveled by a giant earthquake any time within the next hundred years or so.

Monday, December 7, 2009

kittens, frozen chicken, frozen me

I went out to see Girlfriend yesterday despite that it was so cold I actually wasn't feeling very motivated. I thought it was a bad sign if cold weather was deterring me from my horse obsession so I bundled up and went out to the stable anyway. It was probably 31 degrees which really isn't that big of a deal. Especially if wimpy folks like me can wear many, many layers.

It was good I went because Sunday is the barn manager's day off and apparently none of the boarders or teens who hang out there wanted to be there when it was this cold. And Girlfriend had pooped in her water, which of course meant she couldn't drink it. Her bucket is probably around 20 gallons I would guess and it was full and I am not *that* strong. So, I had to drag it out of the stall and around the corner to dump it out in the frozen grass. Luckily, Girlfriend's stall is the last one right next to the barn door. The pump on that side of the barn was frozen though, so I dragged it to the other end and was able to break the ice off the hose and get it attached to the pump and get the pump working. After rinsing the bucket out with ice cold water, I stooped down with my hands between my legs to warm up my fingers while the bucket filled up. Then I dragged it back through the whole barn to Girlfriend's stall and she was very happy to have fresh water. My fingers hurt for quite a bit while they were warming up. Did I mention I'm a wimp about the cold?

Our ride wasn't too great again. Girlfriend did not want to trot although I did get her to trot at least a couple paces in a fast, but at least slightly refined way. After putting her through almost a half hour of boring refined, English walking, trotting practice, I let her have her couple laps of galloping. "Wheeeeeee!" actually flew out of my mouth at one point. Sigh. I've gotten so comfortable riding her fast that I'm not worried about keeping my balance so much as I'm worried about it hurting her legs and her stumbling or falling.

Last Tuesday evening we brought home a 4 months old kitten named Diamond as Emma June's early Christmas present. She's very little and thinks she's really big. She's completely black and stomps around on her delicate little tiny feet like she owns the whole house. She's been tormenting the pitbull, but I think that now some of it is playing. BuddyCat hates her and hisses any time she's near him, but she seems to like him despite that so I have hope that they will be friends. Last night was the first night she spent the whole night sleeping at the foot of Emma June's bed. Although she's still not very cuddly with her because she's not used to 5 year olds who are themselves pretty wiggly and unpredictable.

JP said that after he figures out a solar-powered sensor to open and shut the door from the chicken coop to the run, then I can put my webcam into the coop. And after that he'll give them a keyboard so they can blog. That reminds me of one of my favorite children's book. I might need to run power out there for a heat lamp at this rate with the cold weather. It was about 21 degrees last night and not supposed to get warmer than 30 degrees today, and their water keeps freezing.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

chicken cam

I'm thinking of hooking up a webcam of some sort in my chicken coop in order to answer the burning question of "Who is really the one laying that one blue egg a day?" And because I'm curious what goes on in the chicken coop between my three kind of weird chickens.

I'm totally over the deep end, aren't I? Just be honest with me. This chicken cam thing is not a rational idea, is it? Unless there is an intervention though I think I'm going to do it.

Back in the cold Pacific Northwest

It got down to about 28 degrees last night. A far cry from the 60 degrees of New Orleans last week. I went out to see my horse yesterday for the first time in 2 weeks and had a moment where I felt like wimping out and going home when I got out of the car in the 32 degree weather and realized I should've worn long johns under my jeans since I was going to be outside for a couple hours.

I got warmer as I started grooming Girlfriend and tacking her up. I saw that she had a sore where her blanket was resting on her withers which is no good. I put on her other, heavier, more expensive blanket and I hope this one fits better. I could not see how her old one could've done that after just two weeks when she wore it for months last year with no problem. But she is also a lot more sway-backed this year than she was last year. She's starting to look old which is kind of hard to see. In Spring of next year she'll be 26 years old! So, she is becoming quite an old lady. But when I got on her yesterday after 2 weeks of not riding her she was jumping around and tossing her head and bucking just a bit in her insistence on running, just like she was a kid.

Emma June took her first real riding lesson at the stable at Audubon Park while we were in New Orleans. I'm hoping she can try a riding lesson at my stable now although usually the youngest age is 8 years old and she is turning 6 in January. There are exceptions sometimes, I'm just not sure if the instructor will make that much of an exception. I was really impressed by how well she did. She even trotted and posted a little.



I am now convinced that I want to move to the Northshore in Lousiana. Probably Covington area so we could have a farm. But I really liked being in Mandeville and I liked spending time in New Orleans. If the crime wasn't so high I almost wouldn't mind living in New Orleans if we could live close to Audubon Park. I could even handle the no recycling because I would join the cause to bring recycling to the area.

Woodia is continuing to lay one egg a day. One perfect little blue/green egg. I'm wondering when the other chickens will start laying? Possibly not till Spring with how cold the weather is right now. Woodia has started acting even more like a queen now that she is the only hen in the coop who is laying. The tiny little cross-beak runt is now the dominant hen. It's kind of cool.