I’m Running for President

May 18 was my 35th birthday. I can now run for president! What do you think? Would you vote for me? Normally, I hate my birthday. I usually try to flee town, if not the country. Seriously, I’ve spent my birthday in Kentucky, Spain, Chicago, California, on the way to Europe… I’m not sure why. I think I don’t like the pressure of having to plan/do something awesome. And then feeling disappointed if it’s not birthday-caliber-awesome.

This year, though, my birthday was awesome. Willem turned three months old on May 18, and we took a trip up to Chicago to visit my parents and go to a show in Chicago. Our first date post-Willem, and Willem’s first real trip!

Three months!
20140518. 3 months!

20140518. 3 months!

My parents fed us insanely well, there was amazing beer and two birthday cakes, and I got framed photos of my babe, socks with hipster cats on them, a salad spinner, a rain barrel, more delicious beer, jewelry and clothes, and (best of all) fantastic company. Willem did terrific with the traveling, slept well, was generally a pretty charming little dude, and only really melted down about 40 minutes outside of Indy on our way back.

The view from my parents family room:
Happy birthday to me! My morning view at the parents' pad.

20140517. Willem and Grandma Deb.

20140518. My birthday buddy.

20140519. Willem playing peek-a-boo with Grandpa Steve.

The most amazing birthday cake I’ve ever received:
20140518. The most amazing cake I've ever received.

And oh lordy… these two…
20140518. I look up, and this is what I see. Lord help me.

The show, Elbow at House of Blues, was Chris’ early birthday present, so it was kind of a party weekend all around. The very last song they played was our wedding recessional song, and it was beautiful. Best of all? I put Willem down before we left at 7 pm, and he didn’t wake up until 2 am, well after we had gotten back home. Whew! No screaming babies for grandma and grandpa.

Here it is – well done, boys, well done!

In other news… sometimes it’s hard to make our bed.
20140516. Sometimes it's hard to make my bed.

Know Your Chicken

After the latest round of temperatures in the negatives, a sunny 25 at lunch time today felt downright balmy. I took the opportunity to waddle myself out to the coop, armed with my pitchfork, and clean up a bit. The shavings needed turning and refreshing, the nesting boxes needed some sprucing, and the girls needed some fresh hay.

It appears they are just as stir crazy as I am. When they bum rushed me as I opened the door, I decided to let them explore the snowy yard for a bit while I worked.

Most of them were pretty okay with the snow. Then there was Dino Puppy. She flew about 10 yards and then, come hell or cracked corn, would not budge. She just hunkered down in the snow like she was in a cozy, quiet nesting box. I think she was actually completely freaked out. I finally had to pick her up and carry her back to the run.

All of this brings us back to the subject of this post and the following video. I know my chicken. You’ve got to know your chicken!

P.S. How have I never posted this amazing song here?

Giving Thanks, Days 10, 11, and 12: Bands from Half a Lifetime Ago and More

Day 10: THANKS TO MY ROCKSTAR BOYFRIENDS. I’ve now been in love with many of you for almost half my life, and you still pull me right back in every time I hear your dulcet tones. (Someday, I’ll have to give thanks to my “guilty pleasures” bands and songs. YouTube is apparently aware of all of them).

Jawbreaker’s Blake Schwarzenbach: his lyrics made 15-year-old me and 34-year-old me feel all the feels.

Cursive’s Tim Kasher: This super old, amazing video of two of my old favorites is making me very happy.

Day 11: THANKS TO MY FREAKING AMAZINGLY CRAFTY HUSBAND. Yesterday, he spent the day building out our nursery closet (you know, the one for which I had drawn a really amazing, I’m sure super helpful diagram). He brings our hair-brained ideas to life and, I’m convinced, can do just about anything: rewire electrical outlets, run cables through the crawl space, build garden beds, design and create a chicken run extension, level a rain barrel, build a compost bin system, create awesome closet systems, etc. You get the idea. I’m so glad I married him!

20110520. chris making the bed.

20130504. Chris finishing up the hop trellis.

20120123. an example of our actual notes to each other.

Day 12: The day is still young, but I have a sneaking suspicion I need to give a SHOUT OUT TO THE BACKYARDS OF THE WORLD (especially mine). Dearest backyard, you continue to feed us, even though I have been occupied with many, many other projects this year and not paid proper attention to you. If I’m hungry or thinking about what to make for dinner, all I need to do is walk outside, pick a bunch of greens, run to the basement for a garlic head, and voila! We have some green goodies to add to eggies (thanks, chickens!) or throw into a homemade pizza alongside some backyard sweet potatoes.

20130622. The garden.

As I stare out at naked branches and fallen leaves, it seems like a fitting time to thank the garden. It’s been a great summer, and now it’s time to rest.

She’s a Bird…

Since my good friend, Sarah, introduced this song to us over Memorial Day Weekend, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve sung it to our own little Bird Dog. The Everly Brothers, “Bird Dog.”

The other song we sing to her ALL. THE. TIME.

You’re welcome. Other things that are going on:

  • Pants that fit me a week ago no longer do. I’m 21 weeks today, and I’m told the baby is now the size of the world’s largest gummy bear (not the WEIGHT, thank goodness, just the length/size).
  • I’m about to do a little closet cleaning/demolition/priming work today as part of Massive Closet Upgrade of 2013.
  • My office is quickly becoming half-office, half-nursery with cloth diapers, books, and knitted owls falling off the shelves.
  • And I’m finally getting to spend more time on Fall Creek Gardens stuff, harvesting the fruit of our labors! On Monday, we harvested about 30 pounds of produce for the Mid-North Food Pantry, and on Friday I harvested another 20 pounds of kale, chard, spicy mixed greens, and bok choy.

20131004. 20 pounds of greens from Fall Creek Gardens for the Mid-North Food Pantry.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Sing Me a Lullaby, Sing Me the Alphabet. Sing Me a Story I Haven’t Heard Yet.

Tomorrow! Tomorrow, barring some unforeseen calamity, I will be someone’s wife. And I will have a husband. I think that’s pretty cool.

I should be doing things right now: cleaning the bathroom, showering, picking up dog poop in the backyard, cutting the stems on buckets of flowers in the basement. You get the idea.

Instead, I am listening to our wedding playlist, which I kind of love. Want to listen?


“Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space,” Spiritualized.

“I Send My Love to You,” Palace Brothers.

“I Dig You,” Boss Hog.

“Asleep and Dreaming,” The Magnetic Fields.

“Found a Reason,” Cat Power.

“Island Garden Song,” The Mountain Goats.

“Home,” Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (yup, still a sucker for this song).

And the processional: “Pitter Patter Goes My Heart,” Broken Social Scene.

And recessional! “One Day Like This,” Elbow.

Okay. Time for a shower. And, you know, to go get married and whatnot.

Where My Bees At?

This video still makes me super happy. And I need some happy!

In bee-related news, we got to visit the top bar hive over at the Butler campus farm a few weeks ago. I can’t wait until we have bees next spring filling our own top bar hive.

Top bar bee hive at Butler Campus Farm.

Top bar bee hive at Butler Campus Farm.

Speaking of, Chris has not posted about the process of building our top bar hive, but check it – it now lives in the backyard (if you can see it behind my burgeoning belly!). So far, it has attracted a couple of little spiders, but no bees. Guess we’ll have to either buy a nuc for next spring or catch a swarm.

20130822. 14 weeks, 5 days.

Your Magic’s Real, So Why Aren’t You Using It?

This optimistic update is brought to you by:

20130719. Waiting for the Exorcist at the IMA.

    • Coffee with Mexican hot chocolate mixed in – hot and hot!
    • Less grass, more herbs and edibles: our new front yard view
20130714. Less grass + more herbs = happy house.

Lavender, sage, lemon balm, mint, oregano, and transplanted native wildflowers.

    • Tomato (and basil) season!

20130719. It's officially tomato season!

    • First canning of the season: peppers, beets, and cumin-spiced summer squash
    • Getting our very first wedding response card in the mail (also, friends who, by the time we get married, will be Mr. and Mrs. So excited for you!)

20130719. First response card received!

    • Sky Farm sneak previews, hard hats, safety goggles, and very sexy construction vests

20130709. Sky Farm at Eskenazi Health.

    • And this adorable song, which has been stuck in my head all morning: YACHT, “I Believe in You”

Singing to the Chickens… Like I Do

Tonight, I finally got around to cleaning out the chicken run. Oh, my people, let me tell you… It was no small task. It was SO TIME. 

Let me explain so, as I regale you with tales of the horrible smells emanating from that dirt/muck/poop I was both pitchforking and walking in, you don’t think we are the worst chicken owners on the planet. Our chicken run has a layer of 1/2″ hardware cloth along the bottom to keep out digging critters. When we installed it all, we laid down rolls of sod to protect the chickens’ little feeties from the wire and to give them something nice and natural to scratch and poop on.

20120908. Extending the chicken run - chicken view.

And scratch and poop they did! I’ve mucked out bits and pieces over the course of the winter and early spring if it started looking ugly, laying down fresh hay to keep the girls nice and clean and dry. But today, I discovered all that nice, fresh hay on top essentially created a poop-stank-buffer-zone. The second you breach that buffer zone… OH MY, the stank!

To add insult to (olfactory) injury, all that nice composting dirt and poop and plant matter was chock full of worms. This is a good thing, of course – except that the chickens learned very quickly that every time I pitchforked chunks of poopy dirt up, THERE LIE WORMS, and they descended like ravenous vultures, forcing me to be a little more delicate with my work so as to not pitchfork a chicken.

Needless to say, I needed to distract myself from the work at hand – and I’ve got this thing with songs getting stuck in my head anyway, which was quite convenient today. Here’s what I sang to the chickens on repeat this afternoon while mucking out the run: Neutral Milk Hotel, “Little Birds.”

Little birds born without a mother or a father
I can feel their feathers forming in the running water
Now there is another in the middle of my mouth
A hundred altogether inside of me now
Little birds, little birds, come into my body

Mother, they’re within me every moment I’m awaking
Bodies multiplying until they finally overtake me
Put your ears up to my mouth and you can hear them singing
Put your hands within me and you’ll know what I’m feeling
I just want to swallow up and promise to protect them


Which, of course, got me thinking about (and subsequently singing) other chicken-/bird-related songs: like Guided by Voices, “Chicken Blows.”


And M.I.A., “Bird Flu.”


And of COURSE, Arrested Development’s amazing chicken dances:

Yo, Dawg, I Heard You Liked Earth Day, So We Took Your Car and Gutted the Engine and Made It into a Lawn Ornament, Complete with Bird Bath and Composter…

When I started this blog post, I started at the end, writing, “Finally, and unrelated to everything else in this (not-yet-written) post, [blah blah blah song that’s been stuck in my head].” But then I thought, why not start with the end as the beginning? That’s apparently what’s REALLY on my mind, so who cares if it’s unrelated to anything else going on right now? Maybe it IS the most important thing at this very moment.

So, here goes… Unrelated to everything else, I’ve had this song stuck in my head for a while, and the video makes me want to move to Jamaica and hang out with just about every person featured in it for coffee or maybe something a little stronger, a dancing lesson, a bicycle ride, a game of cards, or a boxing match.

I know you, you know me
Baby, you know me
We’re all together in the same boat
I know you, you know me
Baby, you know me
I Just wanna dream

In other news, we had an awesome, whirlwind trip to Des Moines the past several days for a surprise birthday party for Chris’ mom. His mom deadpanned, “Oh, you’re here,” as she walked in and we all yelled the required, “SURPRISE!” She was, however, very pleased to see us (so she says), and we got to spend some good time with her, Chris’ dad, and the human menagerie of his family. It had been too long.

Oh, and if you saw the previous blog post, we did NOT come home with a five-foot metal chicken. If only we’d had the trailer hooked up… We did, however, make it to El Bait Shop (I just linked directly to the beer menu, because OH HOLY F*CKB*LLS, it was amazing!). As we were with family and it was 2 in the afternoon, I only got one beer (sadly, because I wanted to try about 15 of them). It was a winner, though: Green Flash Palate Wrecker IPA. I chose…. WISELY.

Before we left, we made what should probably turn out to be an amazing APFELWEIN. Yeah, not just APPLE WINE, but APFELWEIN, which is really fun to say in an Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque accent (and even more fun if you were saying it in such an accent after two glasses of aforementioned APFELWEIN, I’m guessing). I’m pretty stoked about our entrance into brewing and fermenting delicious things. This one required nothing more than a carboy, five gallons of cheapo ghetto apple juice, two pounds of dextrose, and some yeast. In six weeks or so, we should have an amazing, dry, crisp, carbonated bevvie to sip on and share.

20130419. Apfelwein.

TOTAL BABE. Also, all of this brewing stuff is really Chris’s awesome doing. Please continue being awesome. And thanks.

20130419. Apfelwein.

20130419. Apfelwein.

EDWORT APFELWEIN! (In an Arnold accent, please).

And now it sits, bubbling away gently in our basement.

Speaking of apples, our two apple sticks trees we planted last fall in the backyard, are sending out buds. Hooray! Someday, they will bloom more beautifully than our non-native (yet totally gorgeous) Japonica. Spring… it has sprung.
20130422. Japonica in bloom.

Pink Floyd, Chicken Style (or Today’s Reason Science Is Cool)

I’ve been away much of this month for work, and upon returning home, the first thing I wanted to do this morning was CLEAN HOUSE. I made it through the kitchen, then tackled the bookshelf. Don’t get me wrong – we have a fine, eclectic selection of books. The truth is, though, that some of those books could live just as nicely on someone else’s shelf.

Chris found a book that, years ago, he had jotted the following onto a piece of paper and stuck it in its pages: “Pink Floyd & Chickens, 161.” In addition to this being sort of a hilarious note, this was long before chickens were even a glimmer in his eye.

The book in question, Mind Wide Open by Steven Johnson, states, “We also know something about that most elusive and private of music experiences: the chill. Jaak Panksepp has been in pursuit of the neurochemistry of musical chills for more than a decade.”

Animals appear to have chill responses to music, just like people. According to the book, “In one widely cited study, [Panksepp] played dozens of records to chickens attached to equipment designed to record their shivers of pleasure. (The chickens turned out to have the strongest positive response to the late-era Pink Floyd record, The Final Cut).”

If I were a chicken, I’m thinking “Waiting for the Worms” would probably be my jam:

Or, if you’re a chicken like Boo who enjoys flying over our 6′ fence and braving the neighbor’s backyard, what about “Learning to Fly”?