Monthly Archives: November 2012

Country Mouse, City Mouse

I am originally from a very small town in Idaho. For the first eight years of my life I lived in Newdale, a lovely little village back then of about 200 souls. I’ve no doubt it’s grown, perhaps even doubling in size since those bucolic days, but still.

From there we moved to Shelley. Another very small town, but compared to Newdale and its gravel roads and a population who very literally knew every single one of the other residents, Shelley was a booming metropolis to my young mind. I recently googled the population, and if I remember properly, it stands in the 4000 zone. Not giant by anyone’s standards (except, as we’ve discussed, an 8 year old’s hailing from Newdale).

From there I went on to university in Provo, Utah. Then to Portland, Oregon and as I’ve told you, since then we’ve consecutively moved further out of the urban zone. We now care for 25 acres and animals that a petting zoo would die for. It’s a nice life, I have to admit it.

That said, I do tire of the long drives up and down Highway 503. I miss easy and impulsive lunches with my friends. It makes me sad that I have to plan a trip into the big city to buy art supplies. How I suffer.

And while everything I’ve told you is true, I think we as a species are quite complex and few, if any, desires are without drawbacks. I long for the city but enjoy country privacy. I desire a quick trip to a grocery store that does not look like it belongs in a zombie apocalypse flick but it pleases me that there’s always great parking. I would like access to art classes and a community of artists and yet I like to be alone. I love the animals and knowing where much of my food originates and I’d like a great restaurant that I could walk to.

It’s all so complex that even I don’t know where I want to go when Mr. Dreamboat asks me (usually after I’ve been carping about something like our mercurial toilets or having to get gasoline every other day from all the driving I do).

Don’t ask me where I’ll be in 5 years. Life has taught me that plans are, well, they’re cute. It’s cute that we mortals believe we have much control over anything.

For now I choose to be grateful. And since Mr. D makes the money in our household (except the HUNDREDS, yes, I said HUNDREDS of dollars I’ve earned selling paintings this year), I won’t complain about the gas consumption. I’ll just search for a more economical car next go round.

And most importantly, before we go anywhere urban, or more urban, I hope to be able to use the phrase “I’m your huckleberrry,” in an authentic circumstance. I just feel like it will go over better out here in the sticks.

I guess it’s the little things that add spice to our lives.

Ten Healthy Habits Or A Letter of Encouragement

Extra weight does not sneak up on me. It jumps me like a back alley thug in ten pound increments. For this reason I am bitter.

You can imagine that the holiday season puts me in a tail spin. A couple days of indulgence will require ten mile running excursions and a weeks long fast. I do not exaggerate here.

But I do not despair. I am nothing if not tenacious and while the Thanksgiving weekend left me feeling, well, icky and with a sinus infection compliments of the gluten and dairy that does not agree with me, “we shall soldier on.”

Ten Healthy Habits:

1. Positive self talk. It’s SOOOOOOO easy to slip into a negative mind set in regard to body image. Finding things about which to be grateful for your body is key. I’m so grateful I’m strong and fairly resistant to viruses.

2. A little bit of exercise is way superior to none at all. I think we complicate things in our minds and imagine daily power workouts a la Biggest Loser. The truth is if you spend 10 minutes in the morning doing crunches and push ups, and 25 minutes at lunch walking fast, that’s probably 35 minutes of exercise you weren’t getting before. Don’t go without, just because you’re not doing the full meal deal every day.

3. Drink lots of water. Preferably ice cold. It’s good to keep your systems running smoothly. It’s good for a few extra calories burned every day. Hey, I can use all the metabolic help I can get.

4. Protein for breakfast will keep you going until lunch and you’re less likely to over eat at that meal having fueled up properly to begin with. A couple of eggs for breakfast with some whole wheat toast will surprise you in how far it will get you.

5. I know that apple or orange isn’t the thing you’re craving, but if you eat it instead of the Kit Kat bar, on a regular basis, you’ll surprise yourself by starting to crave them. Besides, that Kit Kat bar isn’t going anywhere. It’s shelf life is way longer than the orange.

6. Don’t wait to buy yourself clothes that fit. “I’m going to lose weight and I don’t want to invest in clothes that will be too big for me later.” It’s crap. We then feel self conscious and ugly ALL the time in clothes that aren’t fitting properly. I know this. I do it all the time.

7. Lean & Green is where it’s at. Lean proteins and green vegetables are great choices for meals. They fill you up and on less calories. This means the weekend holiday party indulgences won’t be as dramatic.

8. It’s not just that every day is a new beginning, it’s that every moment is. Just because you failed at one, or all of these, donut for breakfast, no exercise for the day, Taco Bell for lunch (rated most unhealthy fast food), and a Snickers for snack doesn’t mean dinner should be Twinkies and pizza. Don’t worry about the war, just focus on the battle at hand. You’ll feel better about yourself with a single win than you will with a total loss for the day.

9. Salad or soup before meals makes you consume less calories over all for that meal. Just remember to go light on the dressing.

10. You are whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious, happy and grateful regardless of what you do or do not weigh, consume, do or do not for exercise. Life is a journey to be enjoyed, as are the holidays. Cut yourself some slack.

A Doggy Betrayal

Belle Starr is an Australian Shepherd. She is named after an American cowgirl outlaw. As I have mentioned before, she is a most entitled dog. She is pure bred, we got her as a puppy and she has been “wined and dined” her whole life by her owner, who is my 17 year old son.

I have to admit there have been times I haven’t liked Belle very much. She was especially hard on our Dachshund, Duke, she is HIGHLY demanding of all time and attention, she likes to hang out in the kitchen, preferably under my feet, while I cook, and she’s a dog, which makes her smelly and gassy and sometimes annoying.

But I am a dog person, and mostly I like her. She has been particularly endearing lately as she has been quite the little surrogate mother to Finn. He is in his obnoxious puppy phase and bites and bites and bites. While Belle will sometimes whine to be set free from his death hold on her lower lip, her patience is limitless and she doesn’t ever bark or growl at him.

This is what makes my betrayal of Belle Starr even more poignant. You see, over the last year I’ve been taking Belle running with me. I took her on a 7 mile run one day at the beach, and she did so well I began taking her with me more and more often.

We were at the beach another day when I was trying to decide if I was ready for the half marathon that was coming up in just a few weeks. I told myself if I could run ten miles that I was ready. I leashed up my running buddy and together we ran around Devil’s Lake in Lincoln City.

It was a perfect morning and the two of us enjoyed a relaxed and pleasant run, her leash carried my Shot Bloks and a bag for her, um, waste. After the run,  Zoë and I went back out in the truck to measure the distance. You can imagine the smile on my face when I pulled up to the house and the round trip was exactly ten miles. Right on the nose. Belle was a super star that day, it was her first ten miler too.

Since that time, whenever I “suit up” to go running, I usually take Belle with me. She has a sixth sense for when I’m going to go out and she starts jumping and panting and running all around. It’s like Puppy Christmas to her.  I can’t imagine anything in the world that would make her happier (okay, any time with Max makes her happier. She’s an Aussie and they’re one human dogs.).

The betrayal of Belle Starr, happiest dog on earth, happens more and more lately. I’m not training for an event right now and so I’m not all that serious about running. I’m still going about three days a week, but it’s rainy and cold and there’s a bathroom right off my workout room… Did I effectively evoke the “whine” in that last sentence? In short, I’m being lazy.

Belle Starr, running phenom

I could get past all of that, but when I run on the treadmill, like yesterday, Belle comes down and looks at me with the saddest eyes. I don’t think I’m overly humanizing this canine soul when I say she looks absolutely betrayed, like I’ve disappointed her on the deepest of dog levels. She actually laid down in front of the treadmill yesterday for the duration of my run, all the while staring up at me sadly. I feel so ashamed.

Blessed Monday

Photo Credit H. Kopp Delaney

I like Mondays. I like the return to the daily schedule and the beginning of what can be a great week. I also happen to be a fan of making yearly goals in January, though I know they are often poo poo-ed as useless. I love the spring time because it is a time of new beginnings. I love autumn not only for its beauty but for the beginning of another school year.

My favorite kind of movie is what I like to call the “Do Over” movie. It’s one in which someone’s life hasn’t gone quite right. It looks as if the protagonist’s choices, or the choices of others, have brought them too far down a path from which they can’t return, and yet somehow, they get to do it all over. Some great examples of The Do Over, are 13 Going On 30, Groundhog Day and Back To The Future.

What I love best about Mondays is that they come once a week and are chock full of opportunities to do things a little differently than we did them last week. Mondays are a great day to kick start healthy eating. They’re a great day to recommit to working out. Didn’t “live the dream” last week? It’s Monday! There’s a whole week in which to find even just the smallest way to live a little closer to your ideal self.

I’m definitely looking forward to healthy living this week. I’m excited to work on some Christmas projects. The end of the week holds a trip to visit my sister, brother-in-law and nephew in San Francisco. And I think I’m going to work on the attitude this week. It’s been ever so slightly cranky lately.

For your week, I wish you all the finest desires of your heart. I wish you fulfilling work, wellness on all levels and at least one good laugh every day of this week.

So, if you don’t mind sharing, what do you wish for your week?

Giving Tuesday

I sit here, having slept to a luxurious hour. My family and I will go out today again for family adventures and time together. These are the moments of joy for which we all search. And yet there is more.

When we give and serve and love others (love being an action), that is when we are fulfilled.

Let’s join Giving Tuesday. That’s where it’s at.

Ten Thanksgiving “Leftovers”

According to my daughter, who is studying psychology, there is not enough tryptophan in turkey to cause the post-Thanksgiving groggy-ness many of us experience. I suspect that’s exactly right, but this morning I slept in way past my normal hour of consciousness and I have no interest in doing anything, including finishing the cleaning duties that await me in the kitchen. If only Lucy, The Wonder Cleaner hadn’t had about 60 guests of her own yesterday. I would definitely pawn that off on her.

I suspect this has way more to do with the many hours of cooking than it does with the tryptophan laden turkey I consumed.

This morning I share with you random thoughts that have come to me over the last few days. I like to think of them as Thanksgiving leftovers.

  1. The expectation of a perfect holiday is the killer of happiness. When we expect life to be dirty and messy and include flawed people, whom we love, then we can have the holidays for which we all long.
  2. Making an effort takes… well, quite a lot of effort. I am tired today.
  3. Most of us will be blessed with many years of holidays. It’s best not to get too hung up on the one at hand.
  4. If your current holiday tragedy involves a ruined turkey, you’re a lucky soul indeed. I wouldn’t say our turkey was ruined, but he was a bit tough. I wonder if that’s a function of the heritage breed, that he was too old, or that I cooked him too fast? No worries. He was tasty.
  5. When someone is easy to be around, we shouldn’t take that for granted. While our Thanksgiving festivities were a bit smaller than normal this year, every person around the table was relaxed, happy, and yes, easy to be with. It was a delight.
  6. We should celebrate a day of thanksgiving every day. Way more important than the food, or even being with others, is gratitude, the mother of all good feelings.
  7. Our children will grow up, dynamics will change, but when we practice a life of acceptance and love, while the relationships will change, they will deepen and grow and expand. The only true influence we have over anyone is to love them completely.
  8. There are as many perspectives of how things are going around the table as there are people. We need to respect that everyone is having their own experience and not presuppose we know what  that is in advance.
  9. More deaths occur over Thanksgiving and Christmas because people don’t want to ruin the holiday for others just because they aren’t feeling well. Ironic, no? So, if you’re not feeling well, do something about it today.
  10. Be happy today, regardless of everything or anything that happened, is happening, or may happen. TODAY is the real Thanksgiving, because after all, it’s the only thing we truly have.

Imperfect photo + Chase enjoys crazy eyes.


The Official Thanksgiving Proclamation

My best school memory of Thanksgiving was of my grandmother making glazed sugar cookies shaped like turkeys. They were unusually delicious and added to the magnificent feast we shared in Mrs. Williams’ fourth grade class.Image

What most of us remember about the history of Thanksgiving is recalling the first Thanksgiving with pilgrims, Native Americans and gratitude for the bounty of this land. What many people don’t know,  well, at least I didn’t, is that during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, and during the Civil War,  he declared the third Thursday be set aside in remembrance of our benevolent God and the bounties he bestows upon us.

This proclamation has been read at my husband’s family’s Thanksgiving for years and years. That tradition continues on in my home and has spread to many of the homes of my family. A wonderful reminder of gratitude under all circumstances, I take this opportunity to share it with you. Happy Thanksgiving, my cyber friends. May your Thanksgiving be full of peace and joy.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham LincolnImage

Gearing Up, Stretching Out. It’s A Cooking Marathon!

Thanksgiving 2006

I can’t tell you the first year I had Thanksgiving in my own home. It’s been quite a few years though, I can tell you that. I think the first year I was so excited I could barely stand it. There’s just so much to it. That year the learning curve was steep, with so many dishes and traditional recipes. Every year since then has been equally exciting. It’s like gearing up for the Marathon of cooking.

There’s no getting around the fact that one of the things we all love about Thanksgiving is the food. We Americans love to eat. Probably too fast. Definitely the wrong stuff. But I think we deserve a bi on Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition.

Making pies.

Today we will make cornbread for the stuffing. We will cook bacon for the salad, which makes it sound like an anti-salad. I’ll probably prepare the zest and juice the oranges for the orange rolls. And we will make too many pies. Every year we make too many pies. No one ever regrets it, and I’m always informed I’ve made too few if there are none left by, say… Sunday. Is it just us, or does everyone else eat pie for breakfast on Friday morning?

I love all the preparation that goes into Thanksgiving. I love people going in and out of the kitchen, taking with them bites and licks and tastes of the feast to come. I love that my daughters like to cook with me. And I love that I get calls from different members of the family, or I make those same calls to them, asking for clarification on recipes we’ve shared for years.

Bacon makes everything better.

This morning I’ll get a bit of exercise in, but then it’s off to the kitchen to start cooking. The wonderful smells begin today and will last well into the evening tomorrow. But the feeling I get from the traditions that tie us together will honestly last until Thanksgiving comes again next year.

SlaughterFest 2012

SlaughterFest 2012 dawned cold and rainy. As a matter of fact, as we bled the birds and Imageplucked them, we had to yell over the roar of the rain pouring down on the roof of the barn. When I looked out on the old maple tree its bare limbs shivered and quaked in the storm. I’m not one to look for signs, but might God be angry that we spent the afternoon killing things? Probably not.

It was a family affair. Zoë is home from school for the holiday and Max and Chase both participated. Mario, our friend and sometime farm hand was here and we all did our part. Some of us were decidedly more committed to the process than others. Read; Mr. Dream Boat and Mario, most dedicated participants, I think I came in next. Zoë and Max tied and Chase came in at a very distant last place. I think he may be permanently scarred over SlaughterFest 2012.

Sure, there was blood, but no blood curdling screams. Yes, there were guts, but none that I, personally had to deal with. All in all it was tamer than I think any of us had expected. Perhaps more tedious than we expected with cleaning the bird’s pin feathers.

Here’s how it works.

Me & Dinner

Catch the turkey. I actually did the first one. Power Girl!

Hang the turkey upside down. Mr. Dreamboat did that part, though I feel like the turkey probably didn’t find him so dreamy.

Cut the turkey’s throat and let it bleed out. According to Mr. D, this is the most humane way as the turkey gets super sleepy from the blood loss and simply fades away. I hope he had pleasant dreams.

Let the plucking begin! From this point on it all seemed quite civilized. The more feathers you pluck, the more our little friend seems like meat instead of a living creature.

Continue plucking.Image

More plucking.

Really, I could still be working on plucking those pin feathers if I were a perfectionist, which I am not.

Zoë got a kick out of cutting the heads off as well as the feet. Read into that what you will.

ImageGut the turkey. I would tell you about this part, but I avoided it. I pretended it wasn’t happening. I was super focused on… something else. While none of the process is what I would call “beautiful”, I think gutting is downright yucky.

Finally it’s time to take the bird to the kitchen, wash it and wrap it up for the refrigerator. If you came to my house right now for a turkey, it would all be very copacetic.

Mr. Dreamboat’s intention was to have us all understand were our food comes from. Goal complete. Zoë pointed out that it seems like our little family unit would survive out on the planes if we ever had to. I’m more practical, I think our successful SlaughterFest indicates we would definitely hold our own in a Zombie Apocalypse.