Monday, February 22, 2010

A Feathery Obsession

I have another small obsession....Can you guess what it is? Here's a hint...Cluck Cluck Cluck. Here's another hint..."Then I will do it myself..and she did." Any guesses? Right! The answer is chickens! But not just any hen will do. Free roaming, fresh air, grass fed biddies are the only ones of interest! There is something about these mystical beauties that is a delight for the eye. What they create can make a mouth very happy! This fascination, really, began one sunny afternoon a couple of years ago at the Springs. A friend had brought a basket of some beautifully colored eggs(unrefrigerated) and dated at the bottom. Curiosity set in and investigation began. Why didn't she have to refrigerate them? Where is the Styrofoam carton? The eggs were an array of various shades of greenie blues, off whites, and sweet speckles. None looked alike or did they even resemble the bleached white ones in the stores...And the yolks! The Yolks were like a setting sun...They couldn't be chicken eggs! Chicken eggs have yellow yolks right?
Answer: Not all yolks are made the same. Were you aware that there is a hierarchy of yolks in the egg world? Did you know that eggs' yolks are a direct reflection of their chicken's environment? Did you know that a TRUE free roaming chicken egg yolk is supposed to be orange? Yeah...Neither did I. All eggs that I have ever had were white(blindingly so) and cold with perfectly round yellow centers.
I had no clue about this but you can actually tell by the way the egg looks and tastes if it was from a closed in coop, antibiotic ridden, grain fed hen or a happy free roaming, grass fed chicken. According to Mother Earth News: They are healthier too!A free roaming grass fed hen's egg has:
1/3 less cholesterol
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 TIMES more Omega-3 fatty acids
3 TIMES more Vitamin E
7 TIMES more beta carotene

Pretty cool huh?
I had the opportunity, at a baby shower of all places, to witness what this grass fed, free roaming phenomenon was all about. You have never seen such fat and happy chickens! These biddies have had all the time and love that a chicken should have. It was obvious...I'll bet they help make a pretty tasty omelette in the mornings too! I took some pictures of these lovely ladies with hopes of remembering for my own future hen house, what a healthy chicken is supposed to look like!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Decisions Decisions....

What a great afternoon. Every part was favorite part...watching my little one decide between a cupcake or a lollypop...sometimes when life gives you everything you want, it is hard to decide what part you want first.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Have we Already come to this point?

I watched as my son rode away this weekend..well not far...rode away to the neighbor's house a block down the street. Considering there was a time, not so long ago, that Austin going in the front without someone watching was a big no this was a huge step. The home is visible from our front door so there are no problems seeing where he is going. We have been familiar with the family ever since their dog wandered up to our home one rainy night two years ago, only a puppy then, and spent the evening in our den getting dried off and fed until she was we aren't worried about the people in the house. Worry comes because this is his next step into independence. It's necessary. It's Imminent. He's a nine year old boy, mom....let's get with the program.
The neighbor came to the door, knocked and asked the question most parents hear after some time living among the same people that have children..."Can Austin come over and play?"...Uhhhhhh....
Have we already come to this point where he can just go off by himself? What do I say? Do I bring him in my car? No. Not for four houses Farrah, come on.
Will he ride his bike alone? What?
Yes? No? Yes? No? Ok. yes....Not a moment had passed between the time that I spoke that word and him jumping on his scooter and he was off down the street. I quickly shouted "One Hour!!" and barely got a "K!" before he was out of earshot.
Next Question:Do I watch him?
What is the protocol for staying cool and keeping him safe all at the same time? Watch? Close the door and hope for the best? Watch? Close the door and peer out the window? Peer.... But what if I'm spotted and Austin is branded the kid in the neighborhood with the weird mom that watches you from the window? We can't have that.
Best alternative...grab the binoculars and peer inconspicuously from a distance out the window....far more normal...I mean, I could be bird watching for all they know. There just comes a time where you have to trust that everything you've taught him, he will remember.
An hour later, Austin came back in alone, pink cheeked, and happy. They had a good time and he was back on time. One hour and he stuck to it....Good kid.

An Everyday Kind of Valentine

It is Valentine's Day 2010. Red and Pink, Hearts and Candy have littered our grocery isles for about three weeks now. The adults in our home have never really celebrated this day. Sorry if someone works in the card industry but I think it is a commercially bogus holiday.....something to keep gift companies in the black between Christmas and Easter....the time of year that the makers of red dye #40 have their annual party(and you thought it was Christmas) Hate to sound cynical but that's the way it is. Thankfully, we both feel this way...We don't do cards or flowers , chocolates or sweets for this occasion...
A match made in heaven avoiding a Hallmark Hell. What is the nation trying to prove with this anyway?
The simple fact is that I don't need any one day to tell me how Tom still feels. He shows his love everyday....even when I am impossible....especially when I am impossible! He is considerate and attentive. He is funny and charming. It never escapes him to let me know what I mean to him. For this... He is appreciated on so many levels... yet his wife does a terrible job in telling him how many.
In my defense though, how can you put that kind of gratitude into mere words? How could I ever convey it to him without sounding ridiculously clumsy and have him totally understand it? How can anyone? Even now, as I sit here and try to describe it, I cannot.
King of Hearts
On our wedding day, a question arose about the length of time we had been together..I said two years(then started to count)Double that! I honestly couldn't recall when it had all started because he had always been there..I still can't recall a time when he wasn't there....although I know there were 25 years of life that he wasn't, it feels like he was always waiting in the wings. When he walked me to my car, the first time we met, I thought.."Oh! There you are." We fell into our life together simply and easily. No rush...No fuss and nothing to prove. We both agree that this is what made "us" different from any "us" that we had ever known. I guess that is what happens when people find their match....It isn't that you can't live is that you don't want to live your life without that person anymore.

Hating to stay on the Anti-Valentine bandwagon, I will say, enjoy it if you please. If you love Valentines Day that is great! It wouldn't be here if people didn't. However, We don't need one day to commemorate love for should be every day. A silly number on a calendar says nothing about a bond. So everybody, love your little hearts out and remember that whoever you loved this weekend needs to know it all year long!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Backward Glance for Original Thought

Love's unexpected gesture

We learn from our past. Our history teaches us a lot about what works and what doesn't. We learn by looking back. A Backward Glance is not an idea that I came to on my own. I want to make that very clear....they are not a group of words amazingly put together by me at all...they are lovingly borrowed, used perhaps, to illustrate an idea of what photography is to this kindergarten teacher. A Backward Glance is the title of Edith Wharton's Autobiography....(and the name of a couple of antique stores as I have found in the past month) Wharton has so many insights on looking back at your life....being true to who you are as a person and how to recognize who you really are. She said once, "True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision." I find this thought genius! I have no interest in someone stealing an idea and claiming it as their own as many will try to do. Originality and true invention are a difficult thing to come comes from thought, and study, and sometimes even, dumb luck...but when you do come across a truly original perspective, that is being in the presence of something very exciting! Photography can be defined along these lines. No one can tell me that every other picture of someone's child in the same garden isn't similar to the next. That the picture of the bride in her gleaming white gown isn't somewhat like the bride sitting by the same church the weekend before. What makes them unique is the "vision" behind the photograph.
Our children's medals in from France
Finding a "new manner" of capturing a moment is not nearly as important or original as finding your own personal "vision" of what a photograph should look like. For example, What feeling should a parent get looking at their newborn baby in a photograph? Now, what should it look like to them after eighteen years in life together? What do they want to remember about that time?
A beloved chest's arrival with the perfect message

Think about it...there is your original idea...The idea of taking a photograph is totally unoriginal but the vision behind taking it is!
That was my charge this original photographic idea. No cherub children. No blushing brides. No homeless sitting on a street corner(snooze).....I was bound to have one somewhat inspiring idea floating around in that huge hole under my hair somewhere....

A preview of our veggie dreams

Ok...What made you happiest this week Farrah? The idea of personal happy moments is not new but the vision of my own is...
Vision of bliss in the past week
These are some of mine.
Pay attention..count your dearest moments this week.

Even small feet can take you places.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Spring veggies-Round two:Ding!

After an inspirational trip to Maine two summers ago, I decided that I would try my hand at some modern urban to start a small vegetable garden in our backyard. The kitchen gardens in Castine were neatly tucked in the back and side yards of so many of the charming homes that it was difficult to take a walk without yearning to have one for yourself. Ignoring the eye rolls and easy sighs from Tom("here she goes again"), I was undaunted in my quest for knowledge about a backyard produce isle. My thirst for information on composte tea and soil solarization could not be quenched. I devoured every book and article I could get my hands on about successful gardening techniques. It was going to be easy. It would be fruitful beyond my wildest imagination!
Unfortunately, I was mistaken.

Infantile delusion created a belief that the miraculous earth, carefully tilled and
fortified, was surly going to provide us sustenance for the entire summer! All that was needed were some fabulous seeds and willing, working hands right? Hmmm...Seeds? Check! Hands? Check! Sun? Check Check!(we had plenty of that this summer for sure...Sheesh!)
Admittedly, there is a lot more that goes into proper vegeta
ble gardening, humbling more. You will mentally and emotionally prepare yourself as much as possible to step into the "ring"(also called your plot of well tilled solarized composted land). You might gingerly grow seedlings on you kitchen window sill(barring no one knocks them over while doing the dishes). You will till and weed and moan and groan. You will cry and hurt and go to bed sore. You will bleed and cuss and have brown fingernails at inopportune moments ....But! I am telling you that this is one of the most satisfying hobbies I ever found. Satisfying but not necessarily productive.
Fact:Our crop didn't provide our vegetables for the entire summer. Our tomatoes did huge vats of pasta sauce from them but we did have some salads. White eggplants were interesting to watch grow but not as cool to eat. Our purple hull pea harvest gave us two good nights of pea/ham hock soup.
And as my self proclaimed "garden sage" of a husband shouted in excitement one day from across the yard, "We officially have eno
ugh corn to make a nice snack! Do we know how to make popcorn?"
Oh Well! That's ok! Considering the heat and the outrageous rise in water prices, we did well for our first try!
Spring is not
imminent...not yet anyway. But I am getting a head start this season and getting in the ring with Mother Nature again! I pledge to have enough tomatoes to share this season, enough peas to freeze, and more than a small snack of corn to enjoy...I am saying my novenas to Saint Fiacre as well....I am excited for the new season because in the words of Dorothy Gurney
(also a quote from a stepping stone in the backyard)

The kiss of the sun is for pardon,

The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth.