Hippie chicks

February 28, 2007

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Feeders: $7.75
Heat lamp and bulb: $12.90
Guinea pig cage: $54.99
Corn cob bedding: $7.49
Hatchlings: $12
Spending the next two months turning six adorable little balls of fluff into cold-blooded killers capable of annihilating slugs, grubs, caterpillars, and weed seeds, all while spreading manure, tilling it into the soil, and producing enough eggs to keep us in frittatas all summer: Priceless

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Chickens deserve a whole lot more respect than they get. They might not have the dazzling feathers of a hyacinth macaw or the mellifluous voice of a canary, but they’re a heckuva lot cheaper, and their work ethic beats anything you’ll find in a pet store.

Incidentally, that one in the middle that’s lying flat on the floor isn’t dead. She’d just decided to get down and streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch her legs out.

We bought two Araucanas (the kind that lay blue-green eggs), a brown leghorn, a barred Rock, a buff Orpington, and a silver Wyandotte. The little black ones are the Araucanas. I lost track of which was which on the others, but they’re all cute. One of the Araucanas is extremely vocal. She has a high-pitched little peep and appears to have an opinion about everything. Funny little bird. The little yellow one seems to be the bravest of the bunch — she was the first to come up and eat out of my hand when I was putting some food on the floor of the cage to help them find their feeder.

Cute, cute, cute. I wish I could stay home and play with them all day, but my lunch hour is over, and I’m sure they’re ready for a nap (moving day is always SO exhausting, isn’t it?) … so I guess I’d better head back to the office and let my fuzzy little girls get back to their scratching and snuggling.

Emily


Trippin’

February 27, 2007

As promised, here are a few photos from my weekend trip to Illinois:

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Mom has a bunch of birdfeeders that she keeps filled all winter. Her efforts are rewarded with visits from every imaginable kind of seed-eating bird: grackles (like the gorgeous creature above), cardinals, bluejays, titmice, wrens, juncos, and I don’t know what all else. At our old house, Dad built Mom a birdfeeder and put it right outside our dining-room windows so we could watch the birds all winter. When we were kids, we’d sit there and try to keep still and watch the birds until one of us got fidgety and moved too fast and scared them off.

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Mom wouldn’t mind scaring these sticky-fingered visitors. Some of the pictures aren’t terribly clear, because I was shooting through a window and didn’t have a zoom lens, but I couldn’t resist getting a few images of Mom’s little thieves.

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Look closely and you’ll see the squirrel on the side of the tree, stretching out his little paw to reach into the so-called “squirrel-proof” feeder and swipe a handful of seed. Mom said half the time, the squirrels just climb on top of the feeder, pull the lid off, and take what they want.

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The cardinals don’t seem to mind sharing their seed with the squirrels.

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Here we have a fuzzy but nonetheless endearing shot of a cardinal and a young squirrel (notice the short tail) sharing a meal under an arbor near the west window.

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Here’s the real reason I spent 18 hours on the road this weekend. ‘Scuse the blurriness — the lighting was a bit dicey, so we had to slow the shutter waaaaaaaay down.

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Love the newsboy hat — and the thoughtful expression.

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Here’s Dezi, giving me the skunk eye to make sure I understand that I had better behave myself if I want to be permitted to play with his baby. Grace said Dezi will patrol the house, checking all the baby monitors to make sure Jamie is OK, and if he has to leave the room while Jamie is sleeping, he will bring his favorite stuffed dog toy, “Moocow,” into the nursery and leave it next to the crib. I’m not sure whether he’s trying to offer Jamie a companion or assigning Moocow to keep an eye on his baby while he’s out.

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Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man….

The next three pictures are part of the Magic of Willie collection. Jamie absolutely adores Willie Nelson’s Stardust album. He can be screaming his head off, but as soon as he realizes Grandpa has put Willie on the turntable, he calms down and begins conducting with his arms and doing a funny little cradle dance with his legs. It’s beyond cute.

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You have no idea how proud I am of this child. Two months old, and already he’s got a healthy appreciation for Willie on vinyl. We’re going to see Willie in concert in a couple of weeks. If they make infant-sized concert T-shirts, I know a young fan who will be getting one.

Speaking of baby fashion, I would like to direct your attention to the hilarious onesie Jamie is wearing in the above photos. Also notice the little friend he is holding in the last two pictures. That’s “Bog,” a very soft blankie/stuffed animal hybrid who got his name from the fact that he has the ears of a bear and the face of a puppy. No one is sure what he is, so Geoff and Grace just call him Bog. (And no, Jamie doesn’t have jaundice. For some reason, every time I shut off the strobe and rely on ambient light from CFLs, the camera picks up a lot of yellow. I was too lazy to adjust the color in Photoshop this evening.)

Incidentally, there is a lot of love — and a lot of family history — in those three pictures. Jamie is lying in a cradle that his grandpa built for me before I was born, on top of a sheet his grandma made, under an afghan his Great-Aunt Jean crocheted for him for Christmas … which is exactly what you’d expect of a kid who’s part of the fourth generation to be born while a doting daddy used my great-grandma’s watch to time a young mother’s contractions.

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This is my four-legged nephew Clyde, a miniature doxie, demonstrating his latest trick. Ashley has taught him to shake hands, roll over, and sit up and beg. Clyde is a ridiculous animal who seems to be every bit as smart and as ornery as Scout. Earthdogs are amazing creatures: smart, independent, tenacious, and way too clever for their own good.

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Oliver cooked lunch for everybody on Sunday. I have no idea when, where, or why he acquired this skill, but he cooks better than I do … and he doesn’t cheat and stick to easy stuff like lasagna or stroganoff, either. On Sunday, he fixed fried chicken and real mashed potatoes, with homemade lemon ice cream and strawberry pie for dessert. (I think Ashley might have made the pie, but I’m not entirely sure. In any case, it was stellar.) I wish he and Ashley would move to Tulsa and open a restaurant. I’d eat there twice a day.

Hope your weekend was full of unbelievable cuteness and wonderful food.

Emily


Home

February 25, 2007

I’m back. I have tons of photos, but I’m too tired to stare at Photoshop for the next hour after driving nine hours to get home. I’ll try to get some pictures online tomorrow.

After careful consideration, I have only one comment on this year’s Oscars:

Little gold statues are all well and good, but let’s not forget that in the real world, a NASCAR would go into an emperor penguin once, with nothing left over.

Just sayin’….


Hyacinth

February 23, 2007

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I had to work late, so I didn’t get to post until the calendar had already turned over to Friday, but I wanted to share this picture of the forced hyacinth bulb and vase that Bill and Kathey Sivadon gave me. Isn’t that blossom gorgeous?

I saw two other signs of spring Thursday: A robin was hopping through a yard down the street from my house, and one of my neighbors had some daffodils coming up.

The weather was fabulous — warm and sunny and too nice for sitting around inside for 12 hours, which of course is exactly what I wound up doing. I wanted to get a head start on laying out my section so I could leave a little early on Friday, as I am going out of town this weekend. I may not have a chance to post this weekend, but I’ll try to bring back some good pictures and stories.

Emily


Lazarus

February 21, 2007

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Photos by Ron.

Our prodigal goldfish, Lazarus, got his name a year and a half ago, when he apparently came back from the dead at a moment when I needed some inspiration. (If you’re not familiar with the story, Lazarus was the man Jesus raised from the dead in the gospel of John.)

Since his initial apparent resurrection, Laz has had a habit of disappearing for several months at a time, only to reappear at moments when I need a little reassurance.

This morning was one of those moments.

I woke up with a screaming headache, and it seemed that no amount of “leaning on the sustaining infinite” was going to jump-start my morning.

I felt so rotten that I wound up going in to work almost an hour late, and despite spending a big chunk of my 15-minute commute on the phone with a practitioner, I got the sinking feeling that my whole day was being sucked into a downward spiral.

I normally choose Christian Science treatment for illness, and I haven’t taken so much as an aspirin in the better end of three years, but by 1 p.m., I felt so horrible that I caught myself seriously considering the possibility of swapping my practitioner for something in a little orange plastic bottle with a “do not use while operating heavy machinery” label.

I had just about made up my mind to come home and pass out for the rest of the afternoon, but I decided to check my e-mail one last time before I left. The moment I logged in, I found a message from Ron in my inbox, reporting that Laz — whom we had once again given up for dead — had pulled another of his materializing-out-of-thin-air (or is that thin water?) tricks as Ron was cleaning the decaying remnants of the water hyacinths out of the pond.

Do I need to tell you what happened next?

As I looked at the photos Ron had posted to his Flickr account, I remembered the moment I discovered Laz hiding under the hyacinths two summers ago, a colorful little reminder of God’s care.

I had to laugh at his timing: Here he was again, as if on cue, at a moment when I was ready to give up.

The headache began to fade as I admired the pictures of my beautiful goldfish, and within a few minutes, I was back to normal. I had a productive, enjoyable afternoon and a perfectly lovely evening — complete with a nice testimony to share at church about the pretty orange-and-white fish who’d helped heal me of a nasty headache. :)

Hope your day was productive and happy, too.

Emily


More about saying no

February 20, 2007

I had two conversations today that reinforced for me the importance of the lessons I’ve been learning lately about when it’s appropriate to say “no” to a project.

This afternoon, a friend described a litany of projects that are draining her time and energy and creating a great deal of stress in her life. I could feel her frustration and exhaustion as she told me what she was up against. The sad part was that many of these projects are things she didn’t even want to do; she just took them on because someone asked her to, and she didn’t have the nerve to say no.

Then, this evening, I heard from another friend who had stepped down from her position with an organization that is in the middle of a very large, very demanding project. I think the situation was a little complicated, but if I understood her correctly, the upshot was that it had become very stressful for her, and she did not feel her involvement represented the best use of her time.

As I thought about my friends’ situations, I began reflecting on my own habit of saying yes to everything.

I like to believe that I take on projects out of a desire to help others. That’s a great motive. Helping others is reflecting divine Love — God — which is exactly what we were created to do. Jesus taught that we can save ourselves a lot of trouble if we allow Love to drive our actions.

But as I began peeling back the layers of thought underpinning my actions, I discovered that even in the midst of expressing Love, we can find ourselves drifting into various types of error. For instance:

Fear. How often do we say yes to a project because we’re afraid of what will happen if we don’t? Fear is never a valid reason for doing anything. It will run (and ruin!) your life if you let it, and it can lead you into many other kinds of error.

Arrogance. Sometimes fear stems from an exaggerated sense of our own importance or a diminished sense of others’ value or ability. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken on projects because I was afraid that nobody else would be willing or able to do the work, or because I simply didn’t trust someone else to get it right. But intelligence, skill, and generosity are qualities of divine Mind, which we all reflect. Everybody has access to unlimited supplies of those qualities, so there’s no reason for any of us to think we’re the only one smart enough, talented enough, or generous enough to complete a given task.

Selfishness. “I thought of this project. It’s mine, and you can’t have it. I’m going to do it myself because I came up with it.” Ever caught yourself thinking along those lines? I have. Besides being terribly childish, this mindset implies that the idea came from me. But while I am sometimes allowed to serve as the conduit for a good idea, I am never the source. Why, then, would I become rigid and selfish and unwilling to let anybody else have the fun of implementing a particular idea?

The worst part of buying into this kind of error is that if we’re not careful, we can end up monopolizing all the projects that come our way, which deprives others of the joy of helping. (I riffed on that idea here.) Meanwhile, we keep ourselves so busy “rushing around smartly,” as Mary Baker Eddy puts it, that we sometimes neglect things that seem less pressing but are infinitely more important — stuff like caring for our family and friends, spending time with our spouses, playing with our children (including the four-legged kind), or pursuing activities that contribute directly to our spiritual growth.

I’m not suggesting we should blow off all the projects that come our way. We should never become so selfish and insular that we refuse to reach out to others with love and compassion. But instead of blindly saying yes to every request for assistance, we would be wise to examine our motives, and if we find that our answer is motivated by anything less than a desire to express Love, then we need to change that answer. It may be that the project or position we turn down is exactly what someone else needed to express Love more fully, and everyone involved will be blessed by our decision.

Emily


Altoid tin storytelling

February 20, 2007

I’ve spent the past couple of evenings working on my friend Laurel’s birthday present. My goal was to design a tiny accordion-fold scrapbook/collage thing that would tell the story of our friendship in a format small enough to fit in an Altoids tin.

I think it turned out pretty cute. Here are a few pictures:

Cover

This is the cover. Laurel is co-owner of Afton Station, a DX-station-turned-visitors’-center on Route 66 in downtown Afton. The cover doesn’t look as nice as I’d hoped, but I might play around with it later and see if I can improve it a bit.

Inside

This is the inside. The little pop-up pictures on the left are of a diagram from Laurel’s Web site (when she was little, she used to draw floorplans for imaginary motels) and Tulsa Tripper, one of the penguins auctioned off to raise money for the zoo a few years ago. Laurel owns Tripper. Laurel collects postcards, so on the right, I used some cool travel-postcard-style stickers to spell her name across a photo of Route 66. I added the mounting corners to make it look like something out of an old photo album.

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This is part of the scrapbook. The little Route 66 shield sort of pops up. I used little squares of double-sided foam tape to get the pop-up effect. Laurel likes to read the backs of old postcards, so I included a scan of the back of the Devil’s Elbow postcard, which is from 1942.

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More from the scrapbook. The Rest Haven sign (top image) is across the street from Afton Station. The next image is a vintage picture of Afton Station that I swiped off Laurel’s Web site. The interior shot of Afton Station is also from Laurel’s Web site, with the message about “letting the world roll on” lifted from a magazine. The last picture is of Laurel and our friend Guy goofing around with Tripper at Afton Station.

I made the scrapbook double-sided. The back side is just a bunch of references to inside jokes and strange interests we share, like Archie McPhee products (I have a pop-up Nunzilla picture on there) and sushi, among other things. I cut a long strip from an Oklahoma map, scored it, and stuck the tiny picture pages onto it to make the accordion-fold effect. I used clear plastic packing tape to laminate some of the images.
It wasn’t really a difficult project, but it was kind of time-consuming, mostly because I’d never made anything quite like this before and was sort of developing the design through trial and error. It will probably go a lot faster next time.

Emily

P.S.: Today was absolutely beautiful. I went out a couple of times at work — once to make a phone call, and once to get a snack from the convenience store behind our office — and I didn’t need my coat either time. The blossom on my forced hyacinth is starting to open. I’m pretty excited about it. I need to plant some flower bulbs this week. Maybe I can do that before church Wednesday night.


Weekend

February 18, 2007

I still have 19 things left on my to-do list, but I’ve done some things that weren’t on the list, too, so I haven’t been totally unproductive today.

The weather today was absolutely gorgeous — the high was supposed to be 60, but I think it exceeded that, because it’s 58 right now, and I know it was much warmer this afternoon. Ron fixed spaghetti carbonara for lunch, using a recipe he got out of this month’s Saveur magazine, and then we went up to St. Simeon’s to visit my friend Laurel, who is recuperating from a little adventure with her health. I pulled last year’s tomato stakes and spent vines out of the garden while Ron was cooking. It was nice to get out there and work in the garden for a little while. The garlic is looking healthy. I think we’ll have a good crop this year.

I also found time to make a flier promoting my Indie Tulsa site. I designed it to look sort of gritty and anti-Establishment:

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Oh, yeah — Indie Tulsa has its own domain name now, too, as you see on the flier. I used GoDaddy.com, which let me have a domain name for $9 a year and had a pretty simple process for setting up a redirect. Hopefully the domain name will help in promoting the site.

I walked the dogs and cleaned the bathroom this evening. I actually jogged a few blocks with Scout and Jason, which was nice. Can’t believe how out of shape I’ve gotten in three months.

I’m working on a little present for Laurel’s birthday, which is next weekend. I’ll post all about it when I get it finished.

I’m going to zip over to the S&S in a few minutes to pick up some odds and ends and leave a few fliers, and then I’ll get to work on Laurel’s present, my mural, and a couple of other loose ends I’d like to tie up before this weekend is out.

Hope you had a beautiful, productive weekend, too.

Emily


I shot an hour in Red Fork …

February 18, 2007

… just to watch it die.

My to-do list still has, like, 20 items left on it. Most of them are 15-minute projects, and a lot of them are things like “spend 15 minutes on Trip Guide ads” or “spend 15 minutes working on mural,” because those projects are too big to think about doing all at once. But still … with so much on my plate, it’s probably ridiculous that I spent an hour bopping around online, Googling “Altoid tin crafts” because I didn’t want to throw away a perfectly good tin. And that’s in addition to the half-hour I spent on the phone after calling my mom to see if she had any good Altoid craft ideas. (For the record, by the time she picked up — which took exactly one ring — I had already forgotten the reason for the call and wound up spending most of the time talking about my nephew instead.)

Anyway, I did find some cute ideas for making fun gifts out of Altoid boxes. Suffice it to say that everybody on my Christmas list is probably going to get some schlocky presents made out of Altoid boxes this year.

If you’re killing time and trying to recycle, too, check out these links:

Thumb piano
Pinhole camera (Hat tip to Candyaddict.com for the first two ideas.)
Photo album
Elvis shrine (BTW, the site where I found this is AWESOME.)

Of course I am going to waste several hours making something fabulous out of my Altoids tin, which I found on the shelf above my desk while I was thinking about the possibility of cleaning said shelf. (Notice how I did not say I was actually cleaning the shelf. That’s because I picked up the tin to see if there was anything in it, fed the last two Altoids to Scout, and then got sidetracked making phone calls and surfing the Internet. Such is life for the Red Fork Hippie….)

Lest you think I accomplished nothing today: I went out and visited seven, count ‘em, SEVEN independent businesses and took photos for my Indie Tulsa blog, wrote two reviews, and redesigned the Indie Tulsa header so it would be compatible with a template I wanted to use. Go check out my handiwork.

Oh, and I did some more work on the mural, which I will shoot and post sometime tomorrow today.

Emily


Jumper cables

February 17, 2007

I think one of my ancestors must have been a Volkswagen Beetle, because getting started on cold mornings has never been one of my strengths. My engine sputtered more than usual on Friday, because I woke up remembering that we were running behind at the office and that I really needed to get out at a reasonable hour so I could get started on the enormous stack of projects I had to work on this weekend. I’m not sure what I dreaded more — the projects looming over me, or the prospect of getting a late start on them after a long and tiring day — but I started the day with a sense of foreboding that made it hard to get going.

I find that three quotes — two from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and one from the Bible — work well as spiritual jumper cables on chilly, stressful, I’d-rather-stay-in-bed sort of mornings:

To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.
– Mary Baker Eddy

Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.
– Mary Baker Eddy

Be still, and know that I am God.
– Psalms 46:10

I thought about these ideas — especially the first one — as I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed. I’d remembered to put my clothes in the bathroom on Thursday night, so I didn’t have to dash around trying to find a clean pair of socks, which was a blessing in and of itself. (Thanks, FlyLady!)

When I got to the office, I found work piling up on me. I tried not to cringe and worked instead to quiet my thought (no small task in a busy, noisy office full of busy, noisy people!) and focus on that verse from Psalms. I find that if I can be still, even just for a few seconds, and remember that Love — not stress — is governing my day, then it’s easier to remember that my needs are being met and that I can’t possibly lack anything I need to get my work done.

I got sidetracked and interrupted umpteen times Friday, and I never once felt like I was hurrying … but somehow, my colleagues and I got caught up, and instead of having to stay late, we actually wound up finishing our work a little ahead of schedule, which meant I got home early enough Friday evening to cross a few items off my to-do list before my weekend really started.

I still have a lot to accomplish before Monday morning, but I’m feeling much better about it. My engine seems to have warmed up nicely, and I’m motoring along at a comfortable pace.

Amazing how much easier it is when we remember where our fuel supply comes from.

Emily


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