Friday, October 30, 2009


Time for a chicken update!
Hannah asked what we feed the chickens. That is still evolving. When we first brought them home, we bought a bag of organic chicken feed that our biodiesel station/urban farming center sells. But, as we know, just because something is labeled "organic" doesn't mean it's automatically good for you. The mix was pretty much the hen equivalent of a fortified cereal ~ it had a laundry list of additives that had long scientific names, and also included a whole lot of soy. We try at all cost to avoid having soy in our diet (except for miso and fermented soy sauce), so we knew that this feed mix was temporary for us; what goes into the hen, comes out in the eggs. I found a recipe for an organic hen feed mixture that includes all kinds of legumes (other than soy!) and grains, plus kelp for trace minerals, and crushed oyster shells for calcium. It's made up of whole kernels, nuts, and seeds so the hens have to work harder for it, and it also stays fresher longer as opposed to going rancid (therefore not as nutritious) or dissolving into the dirt. They devour our kitchen scraps, and any greens I toss them from the garden. We also have been able to collect *bags* of produce from the booths at the farmers' markets ~ smushed tomatoes, crushed chard, carrot tops. As if you expected anything less for any animal living under our culinary care: these lucky hens eat well!!!
We let them stay in their little corner yard so that they, and we, could get accustomed to the situation. They figured out where the laying boxes were (with the help of some decoy eggs in there) and we have collected two dozen eggs so far! They also learned over just the course of a few evenings to go into their house when it gets dark (they came up with some amusing places before they got the hang of it, though ~ by flashlight, we found one roosted *outside the chicken yard* up on the eye-level wrung of a ladder!).
A few days ago we let them out into our backyard at large. Sealion built a little hinged door in the corner of their fence, and, one by one, they found their way out. Just in time for the rainy season to coax a green carpet of oxalis from the dirt. I don't know who had more fun ~ the hens exploring the new territory, or us watching them explore. Every day since, we have gone out in the late afternoon to hang out and garden while the hens graze before they retire at sundown. This morning when I peeked out the window, I saw that two of them had jumped the fence and were contentedly scratching and grazing the grasses. So.. I just opened up their little door and left it open. We'd really rather not clip their wings to control where they go, and ours is the only green yard in sight, so we can't see why they'd want to venture elsewhere; their focus is narrow.

And, yes ~ we have named them. Each has her own particular personality, and shared her name with us by and by. Phyllis is the slender "blonde" with the wig of fluffy feathers, Coco is her sister in breed who has dark feathers rimmed with caramel color, Nilla is the white-ish hen of the bigger, more stereotypical barnyard-looking girls. Ana is the black-n-white marbled one, and Sassy (Big) Brown is the roundest tallest and bossiest of the bunch with a gorgeous deep auburn color. Since, Nilla has earned the title Duchess of Dirt for her dirt bath zeal and prowess, and Ana ~ Sultan-a of Scratch, for her style and skill at kicking those strong legs.

Photos: A good look at the handy-dandy door in the fence, Nilla displaying her capabilities as a hen with two fully functioning wings, and the ladies enjoying the loose dirt beneath the redwood ~ perfect for dirt bathing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

About Burning Man

Another interesting article. The citizenry of the city is so broad in interest, that the category of information about the event can be and is equally broad.
Especially as the participant numbers grow and more participants "come out" about their burner-ship.

And also, get a load of this! Not an article, an AMAZING "gigapan" photo!!

(why blogger is choosing to separate my sentences in grammatically incorrect places is a mystery... and who knows about font size...)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Remembering.. one year ago this evening

When I look back on the photos leading up to Anjali's birth, I see a lot of stress and tension and anxiety (I know there was more than that, but that's what I'm remembering right now).[Morning edition: No ~ I take that back. The anxious anticipation is what I add to the scene knowing the "outcome" in retrospect. What I see in the photos: a lot of hard work, exhaustion... and committed patience. Oh, and love. A *whole* lot of that from all sides.] But looking at these, I feel such a calm hush. An "all is right" kind of peace. And relief. Ahhhhh. Quiet.

Another thing I realize looking at these photos is that I was seeing this new creature for the first time ever. Now when I see them, I say, "Oh! I know that little person! There she is!"

Happy BIRTHday, Anjali Sage Pope. Happy BIRTHday, Mommy and Papi.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Remembering.. one year ago today


Monday, October 19, 2009

a year ago

i was acting on faith when i took that leap.
we jumped into the deep and treaded.
and treaded.
for a very
long time.
we worked so
hard, you and i.
in the end
(the beginning!)
you were more important
than any
i tried to hold or
i felt i needed to prove
(fear i resisted facing...).
hands down no doubt about it.
yet still
i was acting on faith.
but today as i hold you in my arms with your head upon my chest and your sleep-sweaty hair sticks to your pinky cheek so that i may gaze at you for a long time and marvel,
i reach back in time to one year ago
and whisper
in that utterly exhausted mommy's ear:
"it's worth it!"
you're worth it. you're worth all of it. all of that.
somehow i feel as if i must have heard.
letting go
(of stubbornness,
and the vision
of how it
"was supposed
to happen"),
i gave in
to ultimate
i closed my eyes and went down.
and you came up for air.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Decompression, or: Returning Home

So what was it that I was trying to say about my Burning Man experience this year? "How was your burn?" as the query goes in the "lingo".

Every other year that I have been to Black Rock City, I have been so awestruck, so spellbound, so mystified, comforted, challenged, embraced ~ that I have not wanted to leave. And I have fallen into depression upon returning to the rest of my life (as *awesome* as it is!). A big part of me has always stayed back there in the desert. Well. I'm glad that I went this year with Anjali. I needed to go, and I loved and lived being a citizen of Black Rock City with my baby. And. At the end of the week, I was so ready to return to my lovely home and to my loving family and truly beauty-full life.
So I came home. I took a shower as soon as I could. I put on my everyday casual non-costumey shirt and pants. I came home to a house blessedly filled with loved ones from all over the country. To a garden in need of tending, and farmers' market harvests brimming and ready for canning season. To a henhouse of chickens waiting to be accepted, tended, and known. To ecstatically welcoming a new housemate in the near future (welcome home, Austin!!!)! I came home to a husband who works sooo hard to be the best Sealion he can be, and to help me be the best Me I can be.
The best Us.
To a little girl who certainly no longer seems like an infant ~ a person! ~ who is about to turn one year old before I even know what hit me.

I'm here now.
I came home.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


sometimes i get the urge and inspiration to actually *write* on this blog ~ to take the time to create a piece that is meaningful, well thought-out, executed, and edited. i have been ruminating on just such a "piece" for a whole month (about Burning Man, of course).
Meanwhile my life keeps happening and the little blurbs that i usually manage on here these days don't happen because i have this *piece*. well, this blog gets the stale crusts of my life time. when writing time happens ~ naptimes when i feel the spirit moving ~ i have this other blog that takes precedent: the Anjali blog that the grandparents read and which chronicles her life. and i feel like that's "productive" time, whereas writing on moment-by-moment when . . [she stood without holding onto anything for the first time (for example)] seems like poorly used time. and if [that chore] didn't get done because i was blogging on the baby blog it's one thing, but if i'm "futzing" around on here ~ well, that's another. which is not really the case. i believe that creative self-expression should be a priority in everyone's life (i really do.), but i think i don't *feel* that way when i apply it to myself. (and my food blog ~ it's downright moldy at this point!!)
i think i also have this *way* that i want this blog to be that perhaps i just don't have the time, energy, or true interest in executing (or at least right now). and tending towards perfectionism, i would rather not do something at all than do it not to my highest expectation (an attitude i don't recommend at all, either).
SO a month has gone by and here i am.

We have chickens!!!
This is something we have dreamed/schemed about for a while. At least a year or so. One of Sealion's coworkers bought a batch of them ~ 20 or so ~ when they were very tiny (mail-ordered. that's the way most chickens are bought ~ fascinating, eh?!), and as they grew, Katherine realized she had a few too many for her coop. So we said we'd take a few.
This summer Sealion created a beautiful hen house ~ which i call a mansion because it is so palatial and finely detailed. He worked on it at least a little bit every day for a long time (he loves having projects= an understatement), and kept coming up with more ways to make it great.
A couple weeks ago we went to Katherine's house in Vallejo and had a lovely homemade potluck dinner with her and her daughter home from college. Toured her magnificent backyard and picked up three hens! Put one in a cat carrier and the others in a cardboard box. Let them get to know their new palace while Sealion built a gated fence around the compost pile for their yard.

Delightful! They are unusual; not the standard hen that might come to mind when you imagine "barnyard chicken." They are petite ("banties") and sleek, and have silky shiny feathers ~ two with rusty brown and black, and the other with shades of cream. And their most distinguishing feature is the mop of feathers they have on their heads which hides their eyes from view. As they have gotten settled in, one of Sealion's other coworkers offered to bring us a couple of his hens, too! They are more of the "standard" hen in size and shape ~ bigger than the other three, with little red mask-hats. One's feathers are black and white checkerboard and the other white/creamy.
Chickens are as hard to capture without flash as babies.
We have never been around chickens (though I did live on a farm for a few years in high school), so having them in our backyard is a cause for bringing out the campchairs and a cooler of drinks because we want to watch them for hours at a time. Anjali cries every time we come back inside from viewing them.
The first hen emerges from the house.
The banties are still adolescents, so they have yet to lay eggs. But the others have already produced three in the few days they have been here. Forget about Easter egg hunts ~ how about when they're real eggs! Even though I knew that that's what happens with hens (they, um, lay eggs), when I discovered the first one, my jaw dropped in amazement!
Can you hear the dramatic choral "AAAAHHHH!" as I spotted it for the first time?
Each of us finds an excuse to go in the backyard several times a day just so we can investigate whether there's another egg laid.
I like to research, and in preparation for the hens I have come upon books and websites of some real hen nerds. I thought to myself, "well, we might keep hens, but we won't be like *these* people!" wink wink! But I could see how a person might be inspired to dedicate a whole blog to their chickens. They are fascinating and entertaining to watch. And the fact that they lay eggs! That could make you into a devotee pretty fast, I suspect.

The first egg, poised on its bed of dirt, redwood straw, and shredded paper.