Resolutions 101, or How 2013 Will Be the Year of Juice

I used to be one of those lofty resolution makers. Every year, I’d wax poetic about how I was going to lose 10 pounds, do 50 situps a day, ride my bike every day, eat nothing but green things for the entire month of January, etc.

Having a new puppy, though, I’m learning a lot about positive training. Basically, you want to set your puppy up to succeed, encourage her profusely when she does… and when she doesn’t do what you want, you ignore it and move on.

It’s like this bolt of stupid came shooting down from the heavens and illuminated my whole lofty resolutions bullcrap I’ve been pulling for the last decade. Shouldn’t we all be setting ourselves up to succeed? Shouldn’t we be using positive training on ourselves, making baby steps towards the things we want and the people we want to be? And why do we feel the need to default to extremes (“You WILL do this, you WON’T do this”), only to feel utterly crappy about it when we (of course) can’t possibly live up to these insane shifts in behavior we’ve tried to demand of ourselves? I say “bolt of stupid,” though, because none of this should have been an epiphany at all.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, getting back to resolutions, in the interest of setting myself up for success, I decided I will only make resolutions I know I can keep. Drum roll please… My resolutions for 2013:

      • Drink more juice. No, really. I got a juicer for Christmas, and carrot/ginger/pear is my jam.
      • Apply for an apprenticeship this summer with Growing Places Indy (and figure out a way to be able to participate in said apprenticeship if accepted).
      • Take a trip with my honey (like, a real vacation, not just down the road for a day or a long weekend), maybe to the Rogue farm out in Oregon.

There are a couple of others, too, but they aren’t really for public consumption. I’ll let you know when I achieve at least one of them, though!

In other news, we had a lovely New Year’s Eve at our neighbors’ house, and today we had our first four-egg day!

20130103. Happy New Year! Our first 4-egg day!

Pink, green, brown, and white! All four girls laid an egg today.

20121231. We're the creeps who bring eggs and bubbly for the NYE party hosts.

What? Doesn’t everyone bring a six-pack of eggs along with a couple of bottles of bubbly for their NYE hosts?

UpCountry Living Guest Post: Living on the Edge

One of the coolest things about embarking on this whole gardening/chickens/canning/blogging about all of the above thing is the connections we’ve started to make around the country (and other countries, in some cases!). Hearing about others’ experiences, getting awesome new ideas, and learning from them has been so very helpful – and, in the case of our FIRST EVER guest blogger, downright entertaining. Meet Jenna, blogger and general awesome new idea generator at UpCountry Living, and take a look at what she calls her backyard: upcountry Maine and Canada. Thank you so much, Jenna, for your story!

Canada/US Border

It’s really common to me to be living near another country. I’ve been living right up on Canada since the day I was born. Even for the years that I lived out of the area, I was able to see Canada from the American shore whenever I visited home. No problem-o.

It seems odd to me on some level that not everyone has shared this experience of living next to another nation. It doesn’t seem “special” that, when we have large fires in our town, three fire departments from Canada will cross the border to come help the American firefighters battle the blaze.

Is this type of generosity exhibited along the border towns of Germany and France?

It seems totally plausible that every town has a nearby town where the drinking age is two years lower and all you have to do is cross a bridge to get there.

Canada/US Border

It’s so normal for me to be living near Canada that, one time (!), I crossed the border on a whim to see if the bowling alley in Claire, New Brunswick was open. I could see the building from the American side of the river, but I had an obstructed view of the Open sign.

So I crossed the bridge and pulled up to the bowling alley. Sure enough – the place is open. I pull a U-turn in the parking lot and head back across the bridge to America.

Believe it or not, our friendly American customs officers thought it was strange that I took an international joy ride to pull a U-turn in a Canadian parking lot.

My car was randomly searched, and finding nothing suspicious, I was allowed to drive on within a half hour of questioning and searching.

As I drove off, I was shaking with adrenaline. I couldn’t believe that I had become so accustomed to the border and the neighboring country that I forgot they were actually another country.

Customs and Border Patrol have been set to the task of protecting our borders and keeping the bad stuff out of our country. Those men were doing their job. They were searching somebody who went into a whole other country just to see if a bowling alley was open. I don’t blame them.

My casual regard for our international relationship with Canada doesn’t negate the fact that we live in an era of tight homeland security.

Canada/US Border

Since that fateful bowling alley adventure, I haven’t been to Canada. Not because the experience scared the dickens out of me. More because the regulations for border crossing have increased, including the requirement of a passport or passport card for coming back to the American side.

Passports and passport cards cost money. It’s that simple. I’ve been putting off forays to O-Canada for years now, because it’s difficult for me to hand over hard-earned cash for a piece of plastic that lets me set my feet on what my eyes can quite easily see.

That river is a literal boundary. An aimless nature adventure could land you in a mess of trouble if you misstepped into Canadian territory.

Boundaries feel unnatural. I know they must exist for some reason. I realize that there are things going on beneath the surface that other folks are tasked to police and maintain.

But it’s right there – right there!

Canada/US Border

Alas. Hmph. Well, diddle-daddle. Unless I abide by the law of man, I can’t go check out that land.

That’s why, this year, I’m asking for a passport card for Christmas.

I can’t wait any longer. There’s that one house across the river that’s had a broken front fence for three years now and I really want to offer to fix it for them.

I have a complex nest of feelings about my sense of place. Chris and Christie of Space-Farm recently wrote about it, too. There’s so much drama to the human and natural landscape and I seriously learn more about the folds of experience every day.

Canada/US Border

I’m ready to flash my plastic and journey out a little bit farther, where the natives speak mostly French and, for some reason, the house shutters are all néon bleu.

Thank you, Chris and Christie, for allowing me to share one of my stories! And folks – if you’re looking for more, check out more of my writing and photography at UpCountry Living.

Oh, the Irony

There are several ironies present in having a blog documenting your adventures in living a little more land to table, a little closer to home, just a bit more sustainably.

First, of course, is the infrastructure and energy required to blog. None of that – the computer, the electricity, the wireless internet – is really what one could call LOCAL. But the part that’s hitting me right now is the fact that I’m so busy being outside, tending the garden, pinching back the suckers on the tomatoes, and pickling the cucumbers that I just don’t feel like spending that much time in front of a computer at the end of the day, even if it is to write about the aforementioned good stuff. In the winter when I have all the time in the world, there’s not as much to write about. CONUNDRUM, but a good conundrum, I suppose.

So instead of any sort of substantial deep thoughts, I will throw a bunch of photos up against this here wall and see if any of them stick.

20120624. Squash, pickling cucumbers, bouquet, and fans.

The first decent squash and pickling cucumber bounty of the summer.

Our housewarming party was fantastic, and I was finally able to give my dad his Dad’s Day cross-stitch. Dad was a champ and manned the grill until there was no more meat to be grilled – all while wearing the best apron in the world (which maybe I’ll show to the world… one day).

2012023. Dad's day cross stitch.

2012023. Housewarming pre-party.

The crew, pre-party and minus Chris’ dad.

By Sunday afternoon, we were all pretty tuckered out, including Senor Boombox.

20120624. Boombox gets cozy.

20120624. Post-housewarming, hot sun, late afternoon garden.

Post-party scene from the chicken zone. So very tired by Sunday. So. Very.

I’m pretty convinced, though, that we have the best friends and family in the world. I’m hoping we get a slew of photos from Chris’ dad to share soon. For now, it’s definitely time for relaxation – and to get away from this damn screen.

20120623. Floweries from Mallory

Floweries from Mallory.

Americanism, Beets, and the Long Weekend

Here in Indianapolis, Memorial Day weekend is kind of a big deal. You see, not only do many people get three days off and the chance to barbecue/burn their faces off, drink too much cheap beer, and perhaps bust out the tents along with the rest of this great nation, but the largest single-day sporting event in the world also occurs tomorrow. In the blazing summer heat, approximately 400,000 people will swarm the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch a bunch of cars drive in circles for 500 miles. Ah, yes – the Indy 500.

What will I be doing, you ask? In my dream world, I will be going for a long bike ride with my beau in the early morning, assembling a tomato trellis, pickling beets (for the first time EVER), and hiding in the air conditioning, cross stitching a gift for my dad and watching the entire second season of Lost. In reality, I’ll probably do everything except for the Lost marathon because, as much as I love the sound of it, I have far too many other projects to actually take an entire day off.

Getting back to our planned absence at the noisy, rowdy ridiculousness that will be the race, though, we totally did our part today – we attended the Indy 500 parade! Going back to the title of this here blog entry, one of the groups today listed their mission on the side of their float as, “Supporting Our Veterans,” “Homeland Security,” and “Americanism.” Americanism, eh? I didn’t know that was a thing, but I think we partook in it.

First there was Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who rode in with a posse of Harley Davidsons. I think he might just be having fun at this point.

20120526. Our governor rode in on a motorcycle with a crew of Harley riders. Classy. Indy 500 parade.

Check out the Indiana state flag painted on the front. Nice touch.

Then there were the balloon handlers. In some cases, the balloon handlers were more interesting to me than the balloons.

20120526. Smurf tenders. Indy 500 parade

Look at that cute little girl on the right. I smurf you, smurfy girl!

Then we have a bunch of people who love the flag so much they want to wear it…. together. As a group. All at the same time. Like a really big set of overalls. Group overalls. Can you tell there’s something mildly disturbing to me about this?
20120526. Does anyone else find this mildly disturbing?

And we must not forget the post-parade, big-as-your-head onion rings.

20120526. Portraiture with onion ring.


What a fun time! After all that Americanism, though, I needed to spend some quality time with the chicks…
20120526. After all that Americanism, I needed to go relax with the chicks for a while.

Yolko, the lap chicken.

Yolko and Beaker are the only two who willingly let us catch them and cuddle for a minute.

And the blackberries, which we planted last weekend…
20120520. We have blackberry bushes!

And the potato sprouts. Since we planted them on May 12, they have been growing nicely, and I’ve already begun heaping more dirt against the sides of two of the biggest sprouts. I am weirdly excited about red potatoes (because who the heck gets excited about potatoes? THIS GIRL).
20120526. The red potatoes are sprouting!

Oh, and speaking of my planned FIRST EVER BEET HARVEST tomorrow, this clip makes me laugh out loud. Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica. Indeed.