Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Finding Creative Inspiration

Ok, so this won't be a news flash to anyone reading this, but yesterday it struck me that I have my biggest and best creative inspirations when I'm working with someone else -- when I'm interacting with other people. I bet most people do. But why didn't I realize this before?


In this case, I was working with someone else on a completely boring work project but in the moments between actual work there was witty banter, shenanigans, and maybe even some sarcastic diatribes. In these moments -- in these work time crevices -- we find glittering, unexpected inspiration.

Like the beachcomber who sets out to a favorite spot to look for agates, following the comfortable and well-worn paths to our favorite spots can lead us to an area nearly picked clean. But if we relax and maybe take a few random turns, we just might stumble upon a real gem.

Alas, in yesterday's case nothing of note ever really materialized, except for this pyrite-esque revelation.

And still I find myself unusually motivated today.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Egg Dealer

I still run into some folks who give me a strange look when they find out we have three urban chickens at our house. These are acquaintances who I don't talk to regularly, or people I've recently met. And I don't mind a bit. I love talking about our hens and the coop and the eggs... Maybe I do that bit too much...

Anyway, just before we left for vacation in December I had a friend over to the house to pick up some English Toffee and Biscotti my wife and I made. Our friend seemed eager to come out and see the chickens, even though it was raining. We opened the egg door to show off the nesting box and one of our hens was in mid-lay. The three of us watched as the hen laid her egg. It was the first time I'd actually seen the whole process. Finally, drenched, we hurried into the house.

Because we were leaving for vacation, I offered some eggs to our friend. I really expected a "Thanks, but..." answer; after all, we had just watched an egg come out of a chicken... But our friend was eager to take some home.

I'm not sure I would have done the same even two years ago...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sustainability (also "I hate beans...")

We started keeping chickens 1 year ago. I just took a quick peek at my posts from last January. Good times. Part of why we took on chickens was that we decided to start taking steps toward being more responsible as far as our impact on the planet. We're no where near perfect, but we are making progress.

This year we're looking to do more with buying local and sustainable goods. This is something we started on last year, but plan to try to do more this time around. A prime example of this is CSA vegetable boxes. We experimented with these last year and while it was generally a success, we still need to work on finding a better farm/collective.

One of the great things about the CSA farm boxes was getting to try vegetables that we typically wouldn't have thought to purchase. But be warned, dear reader! For every "Rainbow Kale" you happily discover, there's a "golden beet" (shudder) or "regular beet" Bleh!

One thing we're looking at for this year is a CSA meat box. We're only just in the beginning stages of research, but we have a few good leads and I hope to report back here soon with our findings.


Our younger daughter, age 8, is a very picky eater. The other night at dinner she said hopefully:

"I think I know why I don't like this food. I don't want to eat meat because I like animals, and animals are meat!"

We told her she can stop eating meat right now, this very moment, but that she'd have to force herself to eat other things like beans and so on in order to make up for the lost protein and nutrients.

She thought about for a quick second and then went back to (slowly) eating her dinner.

"Nevermind, I hate beans."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Now what?

Ok, so my last post may have been a bit misleading. It turns out that we do have some seeds already growing:

Yes, our house-sitters managed to spill some water on the counter while we were on vacation (they must not have noticed as we still had a nice puddle when we returned) and by the time we got back the water had soaked an envelope holding 4 peas of some sort that one of our kids brought home from school.

Now, here's the question. What do we do with these things? They're growing like weeds in the kitchen, but they're already too tall and we don't really have a sheltered/sunny place outside to plant them. Ideas?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Pressure!

I've been delving into lots of gardening blogs lately and the common theme I'm picking up is that most people seem to have a plan already for what they want to plant, when, and how.

That's, uh, not really how we roll...

But now I'm feeling that pressure. I'm asking myself why I don't have a plan for what we'll plant. I feel seed packet envy! I feel like time is running out and I better plant stuff or else!

Of course, it's still January, and I think we'll be ok waiting a month or two.

(It doesn't help that our neighbors just came home with a bunch of seeds...)

Once we get the planting boxes rebuilt, we should more sqfts and, probably at least as important, the ones we have will be better organized with regard to light/soil/etc. We have a place set aside for the taller/vine-ier stuff so they won't block out as much sun, for example.

We have a huge pile of compost and I'm eager to see how this stuff works as it's our first that's got chicken manure as a main ingredient.

I'm hoping that my new-found interest in photography will mesh well with gardening.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


The kids made some interesting snacks for lunch today...

There's a banana in there somewhere, under all that peanutbutter and stuff...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010, The Year of the Book?

I didn't get as far as I'd like on my 2009 goal of getting a book into publishable form. I did manage to get it read by a few people, one of whom I met via Twitter (so yes, it can serve an actual purpose! Thanks, @foreverjuly). I wrote a draft (nanowrimo) for book two, too.

I just can't believe how quickly the year flew past. It was hot in January, we got chickens, built a coop, it was cold again, then it was warm, then it was November. Zip, Zap, Zoom! Now it's January all over again and I have TWO unpolished books to sort out.

I realize now that part of the reason for the delay is that I'm purely in a reactive mode. Waiting for things to happen may feel organic, but it can sure take a long time... So, I think I need to put things into action, knock over that first domino...

Monday, January 4, 2010


I spent two glorious weeks out of the range of computers and email and cell phones, the Internet a distant spectre. And I loved it.

We went to New Hampshire and enjoyed the time away. It was cold (12 - 15F) a couple of days (remember, I'm used to good ol' sunny California), but it also snowed a few inches while we were there.

Took a lot of fun pictures in the snow and just generally relaxed.

We arrived home to happy and well-fed chickens thanks to our neighbors and some relatives that stopped by each day to care for the cats and birds. Things were going swimmingly until Sunday afternoon when I suddenly, and for no good reason, remembered that I would have to return to work the next day.

Alas, I'm here and I'm motivated and ready to enjoy this new year.

What kinds of projects do you all have planned for this year? I'm not much of a "resolutions" person -- I prefer to make those kinds of decisions on an as-needed basis... But I know there are a few things we're planning...

This spring, we hope to have ripped out the old planting boxes and replaced them with a new configuration that will give us 30 - 50% more room. That's the first outdoor project we'll do, once the weather is nicer and I have more motivation/energy/vim/vigor/etc.

Happy new year, everyone!