Urban Homesteading Part II


Admittedly, not my finest photography work, but you get the idea.

Speaking of ideas, here's CLH's latest: chickens. Raised in our garage.

Him: When can we raise chickens in the garage?

Me: I already told you. I'm totally cool with it. Do you know how to do it?

CLH: My grandmother did it when I was growing up. I'm sure I can find out. But you wouldn't like it.

Me: What do you mean?

CLH: The smell. You would DIE.

Me: Oh. Is is bad?

CLH: Um. Yeah. It would smell like guinea pigs and shit. It would waft up the stairs and you'd ha-a-a-ate it.

Me: Wait. Why would chickens smell like guinea pigs? Is it because of the cedar shavings? Because I kinda like the smell of guinea pigs. And cedar.

CLH: Alright, maybe not guinea pigs. But definitely POOP.

Me: Oh. Well, anyway, don't chickens need sunlight? The garage doesn't get any light. And living things need light to survive. They'd never see daylight unless you took them our for walks or something.

(and here's where we both pause and get lost in our own imaginings of CLH walking chickens on leashes down the sidewalks in our neighborhood.)

Me: Guess we're not raising chickens in the garage.

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Urban Homesteading

Client cancellations come few and far between. When they do happen, I almost don't care about the money I am missing out on because, these days, time to myself is a rare and precious thing.

I decided to make the most of my day by running a bunch of errands that I have been putting off for weeks now. On the top of the list was:

1. Run the postcards from the Galapagos over to the moneyed side of town for hand delivery.

So, twelve years ago, I went on a trip to Peru with a bunch of other community college folks, and that's where I met my friend Barbara, who I lovingly call Babs. Babs and I have been in communication for the last twelve years now. Babs has visited every single continent on this planet, minus the Arctic. Some of them several times. She is an amazing woman and a true friend. She's also a HUGE advocate of the US Postal system. She worked as a mail carrier for a few years and I'm pretty sure Babs is single-handedly keeping them in business. Every few months or so, I receive packages with random assortments of stuff in them... things like letter openers made entirely of corn plastic. Just something to keep those mail delivery folks happy and employed. Anywho, the last time Babs was in the Galapagos, she visited Floreana, an island with a neat little tradition. Dating back to the time of whalers, mail has been left in post "barrels" for sailors (and now tourists) to pick and carry back to their homes in Europe and beyond for hand delivery. So, Babs, being the devoted ex-postal worker, scooped up a few addressed to Seattle and she mailed them off to me. I hand delivered them today. I have to admit, it was sort of neat to watch the reactions of the mail recipients. Also, I'm now guaranteed a place in heaven. Move over, Mother Theresa.

Next on the list:

2. Pick up hardware at packed-to-the-rafters-with-stuff, my-kinda-place hardware store. Hardwicks, you are the hardware store my father always dreamed about. Thank you for your bulk bins of six-cent screws and eighteen-cent anchors. I can finally hang that shelf in the bathroom.

And then:

3. Grocery shop at now-infamous home of the lady who banged a stale cookie on the deli counter. Mostly uneventful except cashier almost didn't swipe my coupon and I almost overpaid by $6.00. These are tough times. Pay attention to my coupons, ya damned hippies.

4. Came home and hand dyed napkins. Okay, okay, this one needs some explaining. Bleach, laundry, and colorfastness in my house are all mortal enemies. CLH and I have done more than our share of white loads that have come out pink because of a rogue red sock we didn't ferret out of the wash. I have destroyed a number of towels with my sloppy bleach handling. And our bath mat is only now starting to fade back to its original checkered pattern after CLH washed it with a indigo colored something or other that turned everything in the load blue.

Now, for ecological reasons, we don't use paper napkins in our house. Instead, for the past ten years, we have been using the same six cloth napkins. As you can imagine, they are a little worse for the wear. They're still in great shape structurally. It's just that they're stained with so much wine and discolored with so much bleach, it looks like we've been using them to clean up after autopsies rather than mushroom risotto. So, I decided to pull out the box of dye I've been hoarding all these years and my canning pot from the basement and try my hand at stovetop dyeing. It was incredibly simple, really. I probably didn't agitate the napkins as much as I should have. But they came out well enough. And now I have a set of clean, uniform looking napkins!


I'll post the AFTER shot tomorrow, right after I finish painting the fence and milking the cows.

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Parallel Lives… Almost

For the past year or so, CLH and I have been marveling at how similar our lives are to that of Dooce and Blurb, to whom we are wholly and Internet-ally devoted. I fell in love with Heather's writing about a year and a half ago when my friend Kevin emailed and said YOU MUST READ THIS BLOG. At the time, I was all, Kevin, get a grip, man. How good could it be? And then I started reading. And it was good. It was so good, in fact, I made a vow to read every single entry. From the beginning. And then, basically, I read nearly seven years' worth of blogging over the course of the next few months.

And over the course of those months, I sometimes felt like I was looking into a mirror (if a mirror was shaped like a monitor and had a keyboard dangling from it). I mean, minus the being a mom to two kids, and the Mormon upbringing, and being raised in the south, and the dislike of licorice, and her being extremely tall, and living in another state, and the owning of two dogs, and making a living blogging, and the beautifully decorated house, we have a LOT in common. Okay, so we really have nothing in common. Her husband is a big computer geek and my almost-husband is a computer geek and sometimes I also want to stick my head in the oven at the sight of the first flakes of snow. So, in my mind, that qualifies us to be twins.

You see, this is what the Internets has done to me: it's made me feel this kinship with people I've never met. It's as if, because we can eloquently spell out the joys and pains of raising kids, or training dogs, or hating winter, we can all call each other family. And I kind of like that. I don't know about you, but I think I might know Heather (and other bloggers I follow) better than my OWN family sometimes.

I mean, her life has become dinnertime conversation around our house, for god's sake. CLH will ask me as we sit down together: Did you see what Chuck was wearing today? And I will answer yes and we'll laugh about it knowingly and then cut into our baked potatoes.

So, I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised when CLH came running into the kitchen the other day and blurted out, DID YOU SEE WHAT DOOCE'S KID IS WEARING? SHE'S DRESSED LIKE SPECIAL FRIEND FOR HALLOWEEN!

Internet, meet Special Friend.

Special Friend is a bit of a family joke around our house. Back when I worked for a major retailer, and back when I blew whole paychecks on weird toys, I came across a stuffed multi-colored centipede and brought it home to add to the menagerie. He was a bit of a prominent feature in the bedroom I shared with my sister at the time (this is back when CLH and I were first dating). Somehow, CLH and my sister developed a bit of a rivalry over who had true ownership rights to this stuffed centipede, and he was christened Special Friend (as in, "You can't have him. He's MY special friend"). He then spent the next five years being spirited away under winter coats and stuffed into suitcases at the last minute as each of us stole it from the other and back again. To "settle" the custody battle, my sister HAND STITCHED a second special friend (this time in khaki and navy) so that each of us could have one at our house and gave it to CLH for Christmas a few years back. Can you believe that? I mean, she got the eyes to match and EVERYthing. She even made him- get this- a little tiny top hat! Internet, that is some ingenuity.

My sister still has the original, and displays it proudly with the beaded throw pillows on her bed, and mine acts as a lumbar support when we sit on our couch.

Here is CLH holding up Special Friend II in front of our shower curtain. Yuen Lui, eat your heart out.

That kid could have been dressed as anything, ANYthing at all. But she was dressed as a centipede. A rainbow centipede. Coincidence? I think not.

Recently, CLH was offered the chance to go to Salt Lake City for a meet up with the other half of the development team he has been working with. Immediately, I asked him if I could go too. He smiled and asked if it was because I wanted to see where Heather and Jon lived. Maybe, I said. Or maybe it's because I've always wanted to see Utah. But probably it's because I want to meet Heather and Jon....and that baby wrapped in Special Friend.

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Wherein My Desire to Nickname Everything Results In A Glaring Typo

So, it's come to my attention (thank you, Shoshi) that I stated CLH went to go see a "Henry" Potter movie last week. The movie was, in fact, about "Harry" Potter.

Why the confusion? Well, at our house, we have a tendency to assign made up names to everything. You remember that our sugar bowl is the Sugar Chicken, right? And that the proper way to open it is to sing to it, right? Well, ditto that for lots of things around the house. There's our beat up armchair Chairy (sorry, Pee Wee, you can't have ALL the good names for furniture). And there's CLH's car, a white Volkswagen Passat, which we call OMC, or "Old Man Car".

Somehow, our alternate name for the wizard child "Henry Porter" merged with his given name, "Harry Potter". I don't know why we had to go and change his name. I really don't.

Now, if it sounds like we are in need of a swift kick of adulthood to the ass, or that we have a million cats, or that we collect appliqued Christmas themed sweater vests, rest assured that only the first thing is true. We can actually have normal conversations that don't involve adding cute endings to words, or altering normal names into pseudo porn star names. It's just more fun when we do.

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A Month of Movies

The bonus to my being chained to my computer for the next 23 days or so is that CLH gets to do something he rarely gets to do around here: watch movies. It's not that I'm anti-movie or anything, or that I put the kai-bosh on his movie watching needs. It's just that most movies out there are so... predictable. Especially American movies. And if I wanted to sit for an hour and see something predictable unfold, I'd throw a bunch of lollipops into the air above a dozen three-year-olds.

The other thing about movies is that I have a hard time sitting still for very long. And when I do sit still, I prefer to read a book. Also, the remote scares me and books are really easy to open.

A couple of nights ago, he got to catch up on his Henry Potter repertoire by going to see the last one at a great little theater just north of us called The Crest. The place hasn't been renovated since Elvis died, but, for $3.00 a movie, no one's complaining that their seat is missing half its stuffing.

Since we had our garage sale this summer, we've been paring down our belongings, including our furniture. Though keeping the enormous couch we moved from the House In the Flight Path of An International Airport would have been more comfortable, both CLH and I were tired of looking at the thing, and we finally sold it last weekend. That means that we only have our lovely (but small) couch and armchair as our living room furniture. And that also means that poor, poor CLH must suffer the indignity of reclining his six foot tall body on a five foot long couch. Of course, he doesn't seem to mind. He's getting to watch movies! And he did pay $3.00 to sit on a avocado green tweed seat vomiting its own innards. Something tells me that, when it comes to movies, comfort is a sacrifice he's willing to make.

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