Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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The Adoption of J.K. Rowling

chick, baby chick, adoption, cute

JK

So, today when I woke up I was the proud mom of five chickens.

Five.

John, Ray, Mu’Reigh, Wendy and Harvey.

But alas, life is always ALWAYS changing.

I got a text from a friend who “saved” a baby chick from 700 of her peers. This chick had a bloody/pecked on toe… and you guys, I hate to say it, but chickens are vicious at times. They are drawn to blood, they kill each other if there is blood involved.

you can see the bloody toe :(

you can see the bloody toe :(

This friend took the chick she named J.K. Rowling home in her hat! Too cute. She called and told me the situation and of course, I had to adopt her. I had to. There was no choice involved. I love her already.

I’m actually typing one-handed now, because she only stops chirping like crazy when I hold her…and she jumps right into my hand.

Needless to say…. I am in love.

chicks

me and jk

<3

Lou, the chicken lady

 

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Reaching For The Goals!!

The chickens, they finally did it!! Three out of five are laying. FINALLY, one of my cute little egg holders can be filled. I will never buy another egg again. It is a great feeling! It was one of our goals. 

I read something recently that I completely agree with. The gist was this: Don’t stop setting goals for yourself. This is not just a new year’s deal… this is a living life deal. Challenge yourself and set new goals all the time — every day — every week — every month. Don’t stop your momentum. 

I loved this!

Here I’m going to point out a few goals I had that somehow came true. Some of it happened through hard work and dedication and other things happened through less dramatic means… they just sort of happened. It’s been a great 2013. I was glad to see 2012 go. I might be a little nostalgic when 2013 ends.

Here they are!

Our Chickens Are Laying … and They Are Adorable 

In case you missed the story of the first egg, here you go. In case you want to see yet another cute picture of them, here you go:

babies!

chickens, coops, writing

so cute

toddlers!

chickens, goals, homestead

true love

oh my word

oh my word

teenagers!

chickens, goals, homestead

the fam

all grown up!

chickens, goals, homestead

Aren’t they pretty?

The EGG:

chickens, goals, homestead

they made this little nest out of the material in their coop!

The Main goal here is to have a homestead one day… to be entirely self-sufficient on said homestead. Eventually I’d like to raise goats, other poultry and a pig. They will all have names. They will all be like family. That’ll be the protein side of surviving on our own. The vegetable side will look something like this (yet another goal we’ve reached…):

chickens, greenhouse, homestead, goals

greenhouse

chickens, greenhouse, homestead, goal

the row

We already eat mostly out of the garden. The last few times I went to the store I got chicken food and wine. heh, heh

Again– it’s a great feeling!

I got a job.

I spent the end of summer and beginning of fall working on a farm, which was an amazing experience. Some of you know I used to be an assistant chocolatier. Well, I applied for a job and here’s something new that happened: I felt entirely qualified. I was confident during the interview. I knew I’d do a good job, if they hired me.

I’ll be working with chocolate again!! The big plus side here is that I’m not a huge chocolate eater. I just love the production of it!! It’s a little specialty chocolate and coffee shop, styled like a French cafe, and I cannot wait to start. I was worried about things lining up, and then here pops up this great opportunity to do something I love yet again. I’m so blessed.

I am almost done with my most recent project. 

It’s a book called How We Lost Our Minds. It’s all I think about. When I listen to songs, I’m listening to them as the characters in this book ,wondering how so and so would relate. I’ve been caught up in this story. I’m living it. I love it.

I cannot wait to share it with the world. I have about 20,000 words left. Send me good writing vibes! :) Thanks!

My husband’s band went on tour in the Pacific Northwest. 

They played in Seattle, Portland, Eugene and they’re ending the tour in San Francisco. They opened each time for a band called The Handsome Family. I couldn’t be more proud. The band Wildewood consists of drums and harmonica: Greg (husband), guitar and vocals: Meredith (my twin!!!), and guitar, vocals and pedal steel: Alex. They’re my favorite people in the world. This is so exciting!!

homestead, chickens, goals

Kate Burn Photography…Wildewood

I am going to run a 10k on T-day.

I stopped running for a while. I was afraid, as usual, to pick it back up again. I accomplished a huge goal, running five miles, yesterday, and I won’t give up until the big day. A friend is helping to motivate me along the way. The rush I feel after running is unreal.

Greg and I RE-DID our wedding photos. 

The photos from the actual day made me cry, I disliked them so much. They’re all still sitting in a stack in my house somewhere… untouched for almost four years. I never made an album, never put up a wedding photo on the wall. HOWEVER!! This is all about to change. I decided to hell with the old… I’ll make something good. With our good friend and photographer, Kate Burn, we did a wedding photo shoot right here at home. Chickens were involved. The old wedding dress was involved. My mom’s old dress she made when she was 16 was also involved. You guys, I am so excited. I can’t wait to post some of these photographs when they’re ready :)

As always, thanks for taking time to check out Hey Lou Writes!!

Do you have anything exciting going on?

Any goals you’re currently trying to reach, or you’ve recently reached??

garden, eating organic, eating, health

life is good

Love, Lou


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When A Chicken Lays An Egg…

(or three)

…you can bet I’ll be jumping up and down with excitement.

laying eggs, when chickens lay eggs, signs of chickens laying eggs

Lou & John Steinbeck
Kate Burn Photography

Here’s what happened:

John Steinbeck, the Barred Plymouth Rock chicken, was missing yesterday.

chickens laying eggs, signs of chickens laying eggs, surprise eggs

John and Mu’Reigh

I went out to check on things in the afternoon and suddenly realized… I’m only seeing four chickens! What! I tried so hard to remain calm. I called Greg and he talked me through some places to look. I did go out to the street and walk around, but I was getting desperate. I thought.. there are only so many places she could be! Then my neighbor came outside and I told him that I LOST a chicken and the panic in my voice rose.

Then!!! A few seconds later, we spotted John Steinbeck. She was hiding. She was in a private place, where I’d never seen any of the chickens go… and she was laying. Turns out it was her third day laying and I had no idea. When she got up we saw three eggs, one of which was still warm. It was so exciting. I fried one up, gave one to my neighbor who was there to witness all this, and saved one to show Greg.

chickens laying eggs, when chickens lay eggs, signs of chickens laying eggs

John laying

chickens laying eggs

All three!!! Aren’t they pretty?

chickens, eggs, laying

so excited!!!

I’d been waiting and waiting for this day to come. All the signs were there.

What are the signs of a chicken that is about to lay? Here, I’ll tell you.

1) Their faces become much redder/darker.

2) Their noises become scary. You might find yourself RUNNING outside to see what in the WORLD just happened, because they sound like they’re being tortured. They’re squaking, shrieking, clucking and all other crazy noises a chicken can make. (Being a girl… I guess I can understand why. Think about it.)

3) They begin to do the “Submissive Squat.” What this  means is that if you approach them or hover your hand over their backs, they immediately squat down and stay still. Sometimes their tail goes up. They’re just ready… for you know… a little action. This means they’re going to be laying soon.

I read about these signs online and I couldn’t  believe how true they really were. This is textbook stuff and it actually happens!

What a great day!! 

I feel, in a really weird way, like a proud mom/grandma. Yeah- I just said that. But it’s true. I felt very much like a MOM with TEENAGERS when I found out that the chickens could get out of the yard.

chickens, eggs, laying

Yikes

In a way, as soon as they could do this, I felt like they could sneak out the window. (Not that I did this as a teenager… um…) I didn’t have to wait to have kids for all of that to come back and haunt me, is all I’m sayin’.

Ohhhh and as far as those eggs are concerned, I OF COURSE had to do the old egg test and compare them with “store bought.” Mind you, these are expensive store bought. I get the ones that are more than 5$ for a dozen. What can I say? I truly want to support happy chickens.

On the left is John’s egg. Bright orange!! It tasted soooo good!! On the right is an egg I bought at Whole Foods. I’m sure that a truly run of the mill egg from the regular store would look much worse.

chickens, eggs, laying

John vs Store

I’ll leave you with that today. It was an exiting moment in our household. I can’t wait to share more chicken stories as the days and years pass.

They’re just…. FUN!!

chickens, laying, eggs, hiding, signs

in my neighbor’s doorway

Love,

Lou aka chicken (grand)ma.


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Eat Like Your Life Depends On It (How I Got Overwhelmed)

Eat Like Your Life Depends On It Blog Series… here we go for round Three. 

chickens, cows, livestock, gmos, conditions for animals, current food system

If you’ve read about how I used to eat, how much I weighed and how I felt about it, then you know that I wanted a change.

If you’ve read about how I started to change the way I eat and the “rules” I began to follow, then you know that I wanted that change to be drastic, yet totally realistic. 

Here are my goals for this post:

NOT to sound like a crazy conspiracy theorist… and yeah. That’s pretty much the only goal.

OH! And also, to inspire and possibly lead to some new pondering thoughts for anyone who reads it.

So far I’ve talked about :

the weight I gained, the acne I painfully and embarrassingly made it through, and the bad mood I was perpetually in … all due to what I ate. There are always other factors, sure, but don’t all of those also directly relate to what we eat? Life is always stressful in some ways. I wanted to never let stress cause me to have a bad relationship with food ever again.

the book I read, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

the changes I began to make, following some simple food rules and maintaining a positive and hopeful attitude.

~~~~~

Now is when I want to get real. I want to tell you guys just how overwhelmed I was at the start of it all. It’s all fine and dandy to have a good attitude and a smile. But someone close to me (again, POOR Greg!) was lucky enough to see the freak out moments… the moments where I panicked.

These were not the types of panics you might be imagining.

The adrenaline rushes and the overwhelming feeling that everything was going to hell in the food world caught me unaware. All of a sudden I was reading about the treatment of factory “farm” animals, the engineering and modification of our precious food, and the way it was affecting people and the environment.

Now. I’ve always considered myself to be level headed. In many ways, you could call me conservative, though I usually want to leave politics OFF of Hey Lou and stay on more uplifting topics. (Let me also note here that I think words like “conservative” and “conventional” are drastically different these days than the ideals they are really meant to represent. Isn’t living sort of a hippy lifestyle and growing your own food “conservative?” Anyway.)

On the same note, now I guess I have lots of ways of living that could cause someone to point at me and call me liberal. Or libertarian. Or a damn hippy. Or whatever the heck you want to call it.

I’d call myself completely un-trusting of any of those titles… and I’m just me. 

Though the more I read into food and big agriculture and big animal operations, the more political it got. The more depressing it got.

TRUTH? I couldn’t even finish The Omnivore’s Dilemma the first time I read it. Because it overwhelmed me. I could no longer trust certain aspects of life that I thought I could. I looked at the glossy apple at the regular grocery store differently. I looked at the Manager Special half-off steak differently.

If you want to know the truth about why, just pick up a book about the food system. But I can almost promise you that it won’t be anything you haven’t heard of before. What I want to know is this:

Even though most people are aware of the fact that animals are stuffed and overpopulated and kept in completely unsanitary conditions throughout their lives, for the sake of OUR dinners, WHY is anyone okay with it?

Someone told me recently, a reminder perhaps, that I can’t put human emotions on to an animal. They don’t have the same thought process as us.

Okay, fine.

What I will do, then, is look at the facts.

Animals have instinct, yeah? They do. Probably a better survival instinct than most humans. Even if a chicken cannot think, “Oh my, what’s happened here? I must be in an awful situation and therefore I’m sad,” I believe that the same chicken can do this: Sense that something is wrong. 

The same goes for any animal, especially ones we eat. Nothing healthy happens when humans are stressed out. Toxins are released in our bodies and all kinds of bad things happen. Why should an animal be any different? If an animal has lived a stressful life, completely out of its natural environment (like… in a building…) how can you tell me that this animal isn’t at least a little bit stressed out? (If not SAD about it, too?)

Cows were meant to graze freely on grass. Chickens were meant to peck around at insects and fresh greens and have plenty of space to do it. Pigs are actually very clean animals with a keener sense of smell than dogs. Now picture these animals in feed lots, surrounded by their own waste. Picture them surrounded by loud animals of the same kind, with barely any room to move. Imagine a chicken who has been pumped with hormones and can literally never walk around… the thing I KNOW chickens love to do?

chickens, treatment of animals, current food system,gmo

PROOF! Ray Bradbury… running through the yard.

It breaks my heart, guys. It really does. It doesn’t take something drastic to have a say … to have a vote… for what will go on with livestock in the future. Choosing meat that came from an honest farmer, spending more on that meat while eating less of it (maybe twice a week? maybe once a week? maybe a small portion of your meal, rather than the main event?), and being a good example for others is all it takes. If each person in our generation said NO to large factory farms and made conscious decisions about what went into their mouths, we could start a revolution.

You wouldn’t even have to make a sign and attend a protest. All you have to do is cook an awesome meal each day!! HOOOORAY! That’s good news, no?

It’s not just the treatment of animals that gets me in a tizzy, either. It’s the land used all over the world in order to grow enough corn to feed these animals, who, by the way, shouldn’t even eat corn. It’s the nitrogen and waste infiltrating our water supply (wonder why your tomato has a problem? probably because the water used to grow it had cow you-know-what in it), it’s the excuse of “solving world hunger” that GMOs use, when really, the majority of them go to feed livestock. It’s the fact that if you take a seed that has been engineered in a laboratory, you can’t regrow that plant freely. (More on Genetically Modified [Engineered] Organisms in a post to come…)

All of that can be changed. I’ll never stop believing in that.

cows, gmo, organic eating, food system

a happy family of cows :)

Changing the DNA of our seeds, essentially torturing the animals that grace this Earth for us to shepherd and take care of, well, it overwhelms me. It makes me wonder WHO can sleep at night, if this is something they are actually a part of. It makes me wonder just how much money is involved (LOTS…) and it makes me want to make a stand.

So I did.

This might be a long Blog Series, folks.

LOVE, LOU

 


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Eat Like Your Life Depends On It (How I Began To Eat)

Eat Like Your Life Depends On It Part Two

Welcome back guys! I hope my last post, What I Used To Eat, was enough to get you interested in the changes I made to my diet and lifestyle. What I described as far as diet choices and workout choices (P90X!) may have sounded perfectly normal and healthy to you. You might be the rare type of person who was shocked by how unhealthy it actually sounded.

Either way, I’m glad you’re back. This is going to be a “blog series” journey that will take you through the journey that was the last 5 years of my life. The road has been challenging, but it’s mostly been:

FUN…EXCITING…INSPIRATIONAL…EDUCATIONAL and… LIFE-CHANGING

Five years changed me into someone who:

Doesn’t own a microwave

Buys minimal processed food (usually only for special occasions when I “don’t have time” to cook, which is rare)

Tries to know her grower/farmer

Reads almost as many non-fiction food books as fiction (!!!)

Interns on a farm

Owns chickens

Has a garden that feeds me at least once a day

chickens,garden, eating organic, eating, health

Don’t worry. I don’t want to overwhelm you yet. I also don’t expect everyone to go out and buy baby chicks, start a garden, or throw their microwave in their trash can. The microwave can wait a few more blogs… then I expect it to go. (Just kidding… kind of.)

I guess I’m just sort of fascinated by my own story, because so many people have reminded me that, “The Melinda you used to be would not believe the Melinda you have turned into. It’s crazy.”

I prefer the crazy Melinda, I s’pose.

Back when I was 20 pounds heavier, took three medications for acne and felt angry/frustrated/confused every single day, I decided to make some decisions. And those decisions, folks, were made quickly. One cannot put off change. I hate to say it, but it’s completely true. Stop putting it off. 

“To change one’s life:

Start immediately.

Do it flamboyantly.

No exceptions.”

-William James

I did exactly this when I made a decision to at least try to follow some of Michael Pollan’s food suggestions. Along with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I also read Food Rules, a very short and sweet book that lays out simple rules for eating.

A few rules that really shouted out to me:

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. I might even change this to great-great grandmother for some, depending on which generation you’re from. Think she would have recognized “yogurt” in a tube? Think she would know what to do with a box of mac and cheese (“What’s this package of orange powder?” She would say.)

Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup. Sure, it’s “just another sugar,” but it’s everywhere, and that makes it something to avoid. Really, just avoid food with loads of added sugar. (Another Food Rule is to avoid foods with some form of sugar listed as one of the three first ingredients!)

Avoid foods with more than 5 ingredients. The exception to this rule would be something with a long list of herbs or spices. I would go grab a cardboard package of food from my kitchen to tell you the ingredients list, but I cannot. I currently don’t have anything processed in my home.* (YAY!) The list should be short and sweet. It should contains words that sound like REAL food. A small child should be able to pronounce and recognize these sort of words. It shouldn’t look like a science experiment gone wrong.

Avoid food products with the wordoid “lite” or the terms “low-fat” or “nonfat” in their names. These are gimmicks. Hoaxes. What happened when the low-fat ads began popping up in the 1970’s? Oh yeah, people began eating way more sugar to make up for this loss of fat. Just take in your good fats. (Olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, avocado… don’t act like you haven’t heard this before!)

If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. I am a very visual person. I stopped drinking pop (soda?) when I was a senior in high school because one day I had this vision of sugary liquid in my brain, causing a headache, and I couldn’t get past it. I often feel dehydrated, even with all the water I drink. If I were to drink a sugary pop, I’d freak out. So….. this rule was very visual for me. Metal, steel, robots, machinery, surgical caps, lab coats, food running down belts and being splurted into jars… those are not good visuals. Think about what you eat, what sort of plant it was made in, and just how foreign and new it is, when compared to the generations before us who ate nothing that came from a plant. They ate plants.

Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk. Or, in my case, just don’t eat cereal for breakfast. But if you do, choose a healthy one. And unless it contains beets, it shouldn’t be affecting the color of your milk. (Red 40 is definitely something your great-great grandmother would not recognize as something to EAT!)

Pay more, eat less. (the next rule: …Eat Less) Did you know that in France, people use up to 16 or 18 percent of their income on food? Here, the average American spends less than 10 percent of their income on food. We are always looking for the cheapest, fastest, and most convenient way to eat. Guess what? It should come as no shock that none of those factors equals healthy. I truly believe that it is affordable to eat in the healthiest ways possible. Not only does some produce for a quick stir fry cost only a few dollars, but there are other factors I’d consider important… and hopefully these will change your point of view. If anyone tells me that the food at the farmer’s market, Coop, or Whole Foods is too expensive to buy, or that organic or “specialty health items” in their regular grocery store are simply tooooo much, here is what I will ask them (I’m asking YOU right now. You can answer in the comments box, if you’d like):

How much do you pay for your TV? Cable? Dish? Ten zillion channels?

How much do you pay for your cell phone? Is it a smart phone?

How much do you want to pay for high blood pressure medicine when you are older? Or for that physical trainer to give you a meal plan once you realize that you are in too deep to get yourself out of this mess?

I have one word for you: PRIORITIES

You guys, I am rarely this straightforward or opinionated. Honestly. I’m just me, I’m positive and laid back, but this is my passion. I care SO MUCH about the health of others, that yes, I would ask this to your face. How much do all of those things cost? Add it up. And don’t forget to add up all of the other potential medical expenses that could occur, too.

If I had these things to pay for, guess what? I would not be able to afford the food I eat. I’m not rich, when it comes to money. (though I am totally one of those overly sentimental people who would tell you just how rich in love I am!)

Greg and I don’t have a television. 

We have the most cave-mannish cell phones that most children of today wouldn’t quite recognize as a phone at all (aka, not smart phones).

And I weaned myself off the acne medication because I didn’t want to use it OR pay for it.

We made sacrifices, which turned out to only be positive, and not really sacrifices at all, in order to eat the way we do. I understand what it took to get that cucumber onto my dinner plate. I will pay the price. Over and over and over again.

Will you?

Cook. It’s the last rule I’ll list here, but one that is possibly more important than all others. The question I would ask you for this round would be:

How much time do you spend cooking each day? And then… how much time do you spend watching TV? I’m not trying to demonize TV, but I don’t understand how people have time to watch it. So many people use “busy” as their excuse for so many things, especially what they eat or how much they work out. I’m saying that those are the least legitimate excuses in the book. IF you are doing something like watching TV. (As in… I am NOT talking about single parents who work three jobs and then come home to three kids. I am talking about an average situation. There are always exceptions.)

You guys, I spend a lot of my time cooking. I cook something for every meal. I wake up earlier than the old Melinda because I usually wash/chop/satuee/bake/cook something every single morning. During that time, I also make whatever I’ll pack for my lunch. Then, when I get home, I do the same thing all over again for dinner. We don’t need a microwave because we cook each meal, and usually in small amounts so there are rarely leftovers. If there are, guess where I heat them up? On the stove or in the oven. There are no “quick meals” here.

The “slow” meals taste too good to leave behind.

And they’re really not slow at all. I don’t wake up an hour earlier… just 15-20 minutes. That’s all I need for the prep time, cook time, and cleanup time. I’d add on maybe five or ten minutes if I were feeding children, too.

When I made these changes… I swear… the weight melted off. Melted. It just disappeared, and then another 5 pounds, because I was no longer a super muscular cheerleader like I had been in high school. In reality, I was close to 25 pounds overweight without even knowing it. I’m not stick thin now, either. I am comfortable and healthy. I feel good about my body because I feel good about what goes into it. I started taking less and less of my acne medication, and during that time, started to make more and more of these food changes. Suddenly, about a year and a half later, I threw the last of my tretinoin acne pills in the trash. I ate another salad. I no longer had to worry about breakouts. (I also cut out gluten. You can read more about my experiences with acne and finally getting clear skin here.) Notice how nothing changed overnight? The weight came off within the year. My skin changed, but there were days when I felt like nothing was happening. Our bodies are jam packed with junk. It DOES take time to get rid of it all and replace it with what it actually wants.

Our bodies want to be as healthy as they can be.

So many people (mostly woman) have talked to me about their body issues lately. They usually say something like, “I can’t control what I eat,” or “I have issues with my body and I feel so depressed because of it,” or “I wish I could eat healthy, but I always give in. It makes me feel bad. I wish I could change it.”

One of the things that helped me MOST in changing my eating lifestyle was having a positive attitude.

I formulated many mantras, all of which I still use to this day.

I CAN DO THIS.

THIS IS EASY!!!

THIS IS FUN!

MY FOOD TASTES GOOD!

Food doesn’t need to be purely fuel. Thinking that way might even backfire. (One of Michael Pollan’s rules is also: Break the rules every once in a while.) It is an experience. We should be salivating when we think about our next meal. We should be excited to cook and eat. Food should be something joyous, not something depressing or scary.

We have to eat to survive. But I’d say that even more than that, we have to be happy in order to survive.

Here’s my challenge for you:

Consider taking baby steps and adding a new “Food Rule” to your shopping list each week. These will accumulate, not change out. ;)

Wake up and force yourself to smile. This smile will eventually become a real one.

Wake up fifteen minutes early and have your meals planned.

Sit at a table for each meal and savor the flavors. These will eventually be flavors YOU decided should be there, and not some company trying to hook you into buying their product again.

Tell me how you’re doing.

This was a long blog, but I just couldn’t stop at one thing.

AND there’s more to come!!! (My detailed week of eating, prices, facts about subsidies and why the “rebel” in me cares so much about organic and local food, and moooooooore)

To say the least, I’m excited.

melinda short hair

So much love, 

Lou

* I lied!!!! I actually have a box of Larabars that were on sale at Whole Foods. I chose the Peanut Butter & Jelly flavor. Ingredients list: dates, peanuts, unsweetened cherries, sea salt. No added sugar, check. Under five ingredients, check. Real food items, check!!


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A Chicken Enters A Kitchen…

DISTRACTIONS

chickens, writing distractions, writing

Kate Burn Photography

There are many. I sit down to write, and …

a chicken scratches at the door. (That’s Ray Bradbury, the Barred Plymouth Rock chicken.)

a zucchini calls out for me to go pick it and cook it up for dinner. (I swear, my garden veggies do this. Don’t yours?)

a book flies open in the wind, beckoning for me to read it. (There are NEVER enough hours in the day when it comes to reading time.)

chickens, writing, distractions

Kate Burn Photography

Tonight I will master these. I will write. I will write a word… then a sentence… then a paragraph… and eventually, well, I’ll have another novel to try to publish. Send me concentration vibes. I just might need them.

writing, chickens, distractions

Kate Burn Photography

Love, Lou


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The ONLY Good Thing About Cold Weather

If you’re from New Mexico then you know what I’m about to say. What sparks the first moment of fall in our hearts? What allows us to think, “Hey, a little chill in the air wouldn’t be so bad?”

That’s right.
GREEN CHILE!!!

green chile, fall in new mexico, friends, writing

oh yeah baby

You buy a giant bag of freshly roasted green chile. You peel them when they’re still warm. You make yourself absolutely sick by eating too much cheese, grilled tortillas and corn, green chile, and by drinking too much (gf!) beer. Yes, this just happened. The stomach ache was worth it.

green chile, new mexico fall, writing, friends

peeling

friends, green chile, peeling, new mexico fall, friends

alex!

green chile, fall in new mexico, friends

corn grilling, check. lots to eat, check. sunset, check. friends, check. beer, check. life is good.

And this, my friends, is the only good thing about cold weather. I would take a good sweaty day, dreaded heat wave, sticky neck…. over being cold. Being too hot doesn’t hurt my bones. It doesn’t make me feel helpless. I never dread opening the door to step outside.

At least there’s green chile and friends.

Oh! And lots of other cool things to do at my house. Liiiiiiiiiiiiike

PICKLING!!!

The harvest is here, folks. We’ve had too much food to eat. That’s a great thing to say. When we had to come up with an idea of how to store the food in a tasty way, I realized I had an excellent problem.

green chile in new mexico, fall, friends, writing

corn!

fall, friends, green chile, peeling green chile, new mexico

watermlon!

green chile, new mexico, harvest

THIS

I can hear Johnny Cash in my head.

LOOK AT THEM BEANS!!!!!!!!!

And what should you do with excess beans, cucumbers, watermelon rinds, tomatoes, okra, etc?

You can them.

I wish I had pictures of the canning process, but 1) it was too late 2) we were too afraid of the giant pot from hell exploding in the middle of our kitchen and 3) most of the process took both our hands. Maybe once we’re so good at it we don’t need to read the directions (past midnight) every two seconds, I’ll take pictures of the process. For now, I’ll just show you what we wound up with.

green chile, pickling, new mexico

yum!

So with summer drawing to a close, with pain in my heart, I am slightly uplifted because of the canning/pickling we’ve done, the green chile we have to eat, the friends we have to eat it with, and the promise of a cool night with the chiminea lit up in front of us.

chiminea, fall in new mexico, green chile

last year, FREEZING, warming up by the chiminea <3

Another thing giving me hope is my other friends. I have them, now, too!

green chile, new mexico fall, chickens

ahhhh, gotta love it

Love, Lou!!!


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If You’re Going To Be A Writer…

…you should probably consider marrying someone who is slightly obsessed with coffee. Not just making coffee or drinking it, but knowing the beans, learning how to roast, and brewing it in at least 5 different ways.

coffee, writing, marriage, roasting

there’s ray

Or, marriage aside, learn to do all this yourself. You just can’t go back to drip or those weird little cups after experiencing the real thing.

Because like me, you might know that having a cup of coffee or tea is just about the nicest way to start a day off. Why is this? I think it’s because it’s warm and cozy (even in the summer), tastes great, and is equally nice to enjoy alone or with someone.

I love drinking coffee on my own. I love drinking it with Greg even more. (And that’s only partly because I usually mess up the measurements somehow.)

This morning my dear hubs roasted his own green beans for the first time. And it worked like a charm.

coffee, roasting, marriage, writing

the green beans

roasting coffee, marriage, writing

roaster and beans afterwards

coffee, roasting, marriage, writing

Greg!

After a morning like this, a writer should surely be able to bust out at least one poem.

And if that’s not enough… grow some flowers. And get a chicken that is cuter than pie.

coffee, flowers, roasting, chickens, marriage, writing

lovely! When I drink my coffee, I look at these.

chicken, coffee, roasting, marriage, writing

Harvey’s cute butt

Happy Tuesday everyone. Try to step out of your coffee comfort zone and brew in a new way today!

Love, Lou


7 Comments

We Can Only Do Our Best

As the days get warmer, all the bad that comes along with cold weather disappears.

Slowly but surely.

Day 30: React to this term: Letting Go

forgiveness, letting go, writing, fiction

I find that each time I let something go, I mean really, truly forgive myself and others and move on with my life, there is always another battle up ahead. It’s a constant cycle. Just because I let go of A doesn’t mean that B won’t happen. It’s something that is consistent as change itself… I will always have something I am working toward letting go.

Just like my public apology blog, this one seems almost too personal.

But here are a few things I have officially let go of:

The dream of being an amazing English teacher 

It simply wasn’t for me. I’m okay with that. I didn’t waste four years of my life by going to college. Instead, I had a professor who was a catalyst for my writing, I ruled out teaching as something I no longer had to falsely dream about, and I met some genuine folks who will always be in my life.

People who I thought I knew… much too soon to really know them

I think this is a common human mistake. Love at first sight? Eh… I think it’s more like attraction at first sight, and then if it works out, you can backtrack and call that love. The same goes with people we believe, right away, to be a kindred spirit…a soul mate of sorts. We want someone to understand us. We want someone to look at us and really see us. It just sucks when that belief is dashed before our eyes and we realize that we weren’t seen at all and we didn’t see who the other person was at all, either. That actually takes time and effort and care. It takes courage and honesty. It takes more than a few words shared here and there, that were mostly romantic, idyllic and untrue.

My little chick, Linus. 

I wasn’t sure if I would say anything on here concerning this. But last week I had one of the worst days of my entire life. I mean it, too. I never before understood the tears of someone who just had to put their dog down. I’ve never lost something that caused panic to rise from the depths of my very being, a part of me I didn’t know existed.

It’s how I felt when I realized that I had lost Linus. :( We were putting the four chicks out in the coop during the warmest part of the day (just a few hours) and then taking them back inside for the rest of the time. I sat inside to write, eat, read, etc. I had the day off and things were going great. My word count was stellar. The lunch I made? Superb. I checked on the chicks every twenty minutes or so. Each time they were as content as can be.

Until I walked out and Linus was missing. The other three, John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury and Mu’reigh, were huddled in the far corner of the coop. The waterer was tipped over. It looked like a crime scene. Only Linus wasn’t there. The corner of the chicken wire had been pushed open by something, a cat we’re guessing, and the biggest, bravest chick of the four was gone. My heart pounded, my adrenaline surged through my entire body. First I moved the three remaining chicks back inside. Then I looked everywhere on our 1/2 acre lot. I mean everywhere. Under rocks. In the trees. In the drain pipe. I was acting like a crazy person. I only realized, hours later, that my left hand had been gripping the front of my forehead/hairline the entire time. I was sweating. I met my neighbors, who saw me crying, when I walked up and down the street, thinking maybe, just maybe, Linus was wandering down the pavement.

It was a sad day, folks. And we never found Linus. 

I cried for three days. It sounds silly. I know. If I read this, I might be skeptical, too. But I have never raised something from day 1 before. I have never held four little babies, kept them alive, made sure they had everything they needed, only for them to be taken and disappear within the twenty minutes I wasn’t watching. I didn’t think the coop we built wasn’t strong enough.

I know it should be looked on positively. That’s what Greg keeps telling me, at least. What if we put all four of them in the coop overnight in two weeks and they all disappeared? That would be worse. I know. I know it would be worse. But my heart still aches for the little chick who probably died a terrible death, filled with fear and worry. Linus was the biggest chick, the one who would run up to my hand when I held it down into their box. He/She (may have been a rooster, we suspect) was the protector. It’s no wonder Linus was the one to get snatched by a greedy hand. He/She was protecting his/her friends. Just the thought is enough to make my eyes well up again. I couldn’t even talk about it for days.

One good thing that came out of this: we got two new baby chicks. 5 is my lucky number. I don’t think it’s a good thing Linus disappeared and I don’t think it was meant to be, but I think that getting two more was a good way to deal with the loss of one.

Another reason why I was so upset about losing Linus is that it brought to mind all of the chickens who suffer so much just for a Happy Meal. Just so that we can eat chicken every day of the week in a million different ways.

My heart aches for the chickens who live in cramped quarters, unsanitary conditions, and can never leave their one foot section of “space.”

I try to let go of that sadness and believe me, it is an every day battle. If I walked around thinking about the animals that are mistreated in the current food system, I’d be in some very consistent and heavy duty therapy.

I have to let it go. I have to, to live a normal life.

The only saving grace, the only thing that makes me feel a little less guilty, is that at least the 2 1/2 weeks that Linus was with us, he/she had space to move, stretch his/her wings and a clean and loving environment. Linus got to hear all of my favorite music. I held him/her all the time.

So here’s to Linus, the bravest chick in the world. (The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown will never be the same.)

chickens, organic, gardening

the last picture taken of Linus

And letting go of things we cannot control.

We can only do our best. 

Love, Lou

 


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Move Over Homeowners Association!

Day 22, Wednesday: Rant about something. Get up on your soapbox and tell us how you really feel. (a pet peeve, a current event, a controversial topic, something your husband or roommate or neighbor or boss does that really ticks you off)

Get ready, readers.

writing, gardening, outside, backyard flowers

sweat and time, but worth it

I have a beef. There’s no homeowners association in my neighborhood, so I’m not really against them. I’m sure they do great things, but I’ve never been to such an exclusive meeting.

I am, however, in quite a tiff with front lawns. Yes.

Front lawns. 

Before you think I’m crazy, just stay with me and hear me out.

After reading these books:

Ominvore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Food Revolution by John Robbins

Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran

Food Rules by Michael Pollan

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery

…to name a few…

And watching these documentaries:

Dirt

The Vanishing of the Bees

Food Inc.

Hungry For Change

 

…let’s just say, I am now a changed person.

I am no expert. I still have a lot more reading to do, a lot more steps to take, in order to live the lifestyle I want to achieve, but I’m getting there. I may not be the most well-read person on the subject of organic food/gardening/local/gmo’s/the impact it all has on our environment, but I know a thing or two.

Plus, I’m passionate about it. That counts for something as well.

The reason I am upset with front lawns is because it has recently dawned on me just how utterly silly they truly are.

What does a front lawn do?

-It looks nice

-It uses tons of water (especially in dry climates)

-It gets looked at

-It keeps homeowners associations and the mean old lady down the street happy

-Uses up oil, for those who mow the lawn (unless you’re using one of those old twisty non-electric things)

When, I wonder, did the front lawn become a staple among American homes? I’m sure there’s some historian who can tell me exactly where the idea stemmed from (probably a European country), what ads in the early 1900’s began to tell folks they needed such a space for grass, and how the idea spread like wildfire, resulting in cookie cutter lawns. I haven’t met him or her yet. If you are one, please, let me know. I am baffled.

But why do I have a problem with something we all grew up with?

Because if everyone used their front lawns for edible gardens, so many of the world’s problems would be solved. 

You read that correctly.

Have you ever thought about it? Using that space, or even half of it, to supply your own family with food? People are so creative. I’ve seen many a Pinterest picture showing a person how to garden using little space. The information is out there, we just need to start paying attention. For those who have both a front and back yard, why not turn that entire backyard into something functional?

Something that will:

-Feed you

-Save you money in the long run

-Put all that water to a good cause (I repeat: saving you $$$)

-Improve your health

-Ensure that the produce you eat is, in fact, organic

-Bring you closer to nature as you raise something up from seed

-Enhance your eating experience

-Help the bee population (I LOVE bees. In fact, I just planted a bunch of flowers and herbs all together from a “Save the Bees” seed mix. They need chemical free resources and we need them.)

-Make you less dependent on big companies and/or government for food (this is so important)

Sounds good, right?

Oh! And you don’t have to mow it. Therefore, you will be using less oil. That’s always a plus, right? (Again, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure it will run out someday. Why not start a generation of kids who know how to feed themselves?)

You might even get some chickens for such a backyard…as they:

-Help add nutrients into the soil

-Keep pests at a minimum

-Eat weeds and your table scraps (instant compost!)

-They are so cute!

In areas within a city where having chickens might not be allowed, you can try to get the law changed. It’s happened all over the place.

[Click here for my own baby chick adventure.]

chickens, organic, gardening

Meet Linus

Anyway.

The current food system is in desperate need of repair. If you haven’t noticed, people are gaining weight left and right, healthcare systems are in shock, and more and more people are dependent on some form of medication to live their normal lives.

Why? Because we are eating Food-Like Substances, a term coined by Michael Pollan.

“Populations that eat a so-called Western diet- generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits and whole grains- invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.” -Michael Pollan, Food Rules

Any processed food you buy at the store most likely comes from a giant crop that is depleting the ground of nitrogen, harming water sources, and there’s a good chance it’s a GMO. (Genetically Modified Organism)

We’re not Generation Y, folks.

We are The Guinea Pig Generation. There are all kinds of scientific things happening to our food, often involving chemicals, that we are mostly unaware of and most definitely exposed to on a daily basis. And there has been little or no testing done to determine what long term effects these changes and chemicals will have on our long term health. (Or short term. Read about my struggle with acne and how I ended it once and for all here.)

Some people swear that the key to losing weight is counting calories. I’d like to suggest something else.

Never look at another calorie count/nutrition label again.

Look only to the ingredient list. For this holds the key to what you are eating.

“It’s gotten to the point where we don’t see foods anymore but instead look right through them to the nutrients (good and bad) they contain, and of course to the calories- all these invisible qualities in our food that, properly understood, supposedly hold the secret to eating well.

…I learned that in fact science knows a lot less about nutrition that you would expect- that in fact nutrition science is, to put it charitably, a very young science.” -Michael Pollan, Food Rules

Who cares if what you’re eating has more grams of fat? It could be from a great source, like coconut oil or nuts. You will only know if you look at the ingredients list. And even better, make sure that list is filled with food you recognize. Ethoxylated diglycerides? Calcium propionate? Ammonium Sulfate? DUDE. Why are these things everywhere the eye can see? Are you okay with that, when you really think about it?

This is just me, but here are my general rules while shopping:

-Look at the ingredients and try to choose an item with as few as possible (I try not to pass 5 ingredients)

-Make sure they’re all pronounceable (unless you’re with a rocket scientist)

-Shop only on the outside of the store (Ever noticed how processed foods tend to be in the aisles? Produce, bulk items, and foods in their natural state are often found on the periphery of the store)

-I look for Non-GMO Project items

-I get produce that is in season

-I buy at least 95% organic, if not 100% (NOTE: if an item is local, that beats out organic….because many local sources cannot afford the organic certification)

And before you go telling me that this is too expensive, let me ask you yet another question:

How much do you spend on your TV access, your smartphone, or your monthly medication for high blood pressure? Priorities. I cannot say we are rich. But I can say that our top priority when spending comes down to what ends up on our dinner plates. Investing in your health is a real thing. 

At the end of the day, why not do your shopping in your yard? 

It could change the world we live in for the better.

I promise!

{I’d like to share some exciting finds. I only drink soy, almond, or oat milk. The only problem I had with these was … you guessed it… their ingredient lists. They are so often filled with “filler” items like carrageenan or tricalcium posphate. We make our own oat milk sometimes, but on days when we run out and I just want to buy something, we resort to whatever we can get at the store. Today Greg came home with an awesome item!!!!!! WESTSOY Organic Unsweetned Soymilk! Ingredients: filtered water, whole organic soybeans. HALLELUJAH}

{Another fun note: we have lettuce, spinach and Lambsquarters [a wild green, often thrown away as a “weed”] growing out back and I haven’t had to buy my greens at the store. It’s so exciting. I cannot even convey how happy this makes me! Inside and out!!}

So much love,

I just want YOU to be healthy,

and glowing,

and happy,

<3 LOU

writer, new writer, fiction

um… I hope my rant wasn’t too ranty