Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hello rain

I hear you on the roof and in the yard. The plants are grateful, I'm sure. I know I am. I've had a hard time sleeping tonight, but thanks to you, I'm a step closer.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Adios con pollo

The time has come, my chicken friends...
In the process of relocating to another house in another part of Henderson (or so I thought), the chickens will also be relocating to my mom's place. They said they wanted to travel. So, travel they must.
The ultimate plan is to build a moveable chicken truck/coop that is super predator-proof (Mom has a few regular coyotes, regular enough that she's named them). In my research, I created this list for my Dad:

Thinking about chickens?

3. Chicken Coop Architecture Homegrown Evolution blog
4. Actual plans! Backyard Poultry Magazine

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Did the Pilgrims eat spaghetti?

As a second grade teacher, it is a part of my job to teach 7-8 year olds to "tell/explain why important events, people, and/or customs are marked by holidays." In short, why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? In my preparation for this, I found multiple teacher websites with the obligatory hand turkey projects. As much as I love the hand turkey projects (and, yes, my students did trace their hands and write 5 things they were grateful for on the fingers, because teaching gratitude is always an important lesson), I wanted something different. In the early '90s, the Thanksgiving story I "learned" about (read: colored worksheets) was the Pilgrims in their bonnets and Indians in their feathers get together for a jolly feast in the New World. This is mostly fictional. I wanted to teach my students the standard, not fill their sweet brains with yet another lie. We discussed the Mayflower Voyage, the differences and similarities between the Pilgrim and Wampanoag lifestyles, and what the "First" Thanksgiving really was all about. The key points:
  • The "First" Thanksgiving was one of very many celebrations centered around gratitude in both the Pilgrim and Wampanoag faiths
  • The Wampanoag really saved the Pilgrims' assess that first winter
  • The Pilgrims really had no idea what to expect but perservered in spite of it all
  • At the time of the 1620 Thanksgiving feast, the Wampanoag and the Pilgrim colony were at a fragile sort of peace.
This evening, I read Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone. I purchased this book for my classroom library when I taught 5th grade. I've been meaning to read it, but, you know...
So, tonight, I read it all at once. On a scale of 1 to 5 (the more the better), this book receives 5 Penrod Points! I recommend this book to children because it is a first person narrative based on historical accounts of the journey to James Town in 1607, 13 years before the First Thanksgiving, and life in the English colonies thereafter until 1622. I recommend this book to adults because no matter how big your colony is, there will always be conflict. Love vs. fear, group vs. self.
" You must obey this now for a law that he that will not work shall not eat, except by sickness he be disabled. For the labors of thirty or forty honest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintain an hundred and fifty idle loiterers."
- Captain John Smith, quoted in William Symonds, ed, The Proceedings

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I love being home on the weekend. I just don't know what to do first! My list is eminent and I'd hate to be overwhelmed by it. Housemakin' should be a peaceful mind absorbing occuption for the weekend. Something I can remember fondly during my now full time hours as a second grade teacher. Here's a brief list of all of the housemakin' chores I'm starting today (and hopefully finishing):
* Begin the sourdough starter!
* Set up cooler for yogurt makin'
* Water soil in chicken run and prep for cover crop and chickens during the winter
* Bake plum muffins
* Laundry/air dry (beautiful thunderstormy and windy day, lots of ions in the air, makes laundry smell delicious)
* General house love

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Friday Afternoon

I love the way the sunshine feels in the late afternoon under the pine tree. The lawn is looking more and more like a meadow as the days go by. I know I should mow, but I like the wildness and abundance the nitrogen rich chicken poop brings.

Salad Days

3 in the a.m.
Post rock show
My hair smells like cigarettes and stale bar air

Tonight, I remember why
These Are the Salad Days

Now I know why getting grown is
so sad
Yet so nice

Where we've come from
Where we're going
Not nearly as important

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Da boids

Short Sale

I was on a three way call with the bank and my realtor.
They talked numbers
and mumbo jumbo
and I said yes when prompted
I soaked in the living room
the walls
the bookshelf and fireplace
the rug
and the cuckoo clock.
Through the open front door
birds were chattering
chickens were fussing
wind chimes were tinkling.
I settled comfortably back into the couch with a sigh.
The phone felt like a tin can on a string.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Teacher on summer vacation

I was planning on riding my bike in the wee cool hours of the morning to work so I can begin the long process of moving and organizing my new classroom (joy! no sarcasm here, seriously). Instead, I made myself a pot of french press coffee and read out on the lanai with the dog. It was a beautiful morning. Suddenly, I was inspired to garden. I have long ignored my wonderful yard for a few reasons, listed below:
1. The house is on the market, transitions are weird
2. It's hotter than satan's left nut
3. Everything's withering, visually discouraging
My outdoor adventures began with the pent up squash. I had orignally planned for the raised beds to be open, so this guy could wander to his heart's content, but chickens. Enough said.
In the process, I rescued two strangled tomatoes and discovered a nest of blue eggs.
I have always wanted to try out a "topsy turvy" planter for tomatoes. So, I dug out 2 5 gallon buckets from my disastrous shed, disinfected them, drilled a 2-3 in. in the bottom and painted them red. Good vibes for tomatoes.
In other garden news, the giant pumpkin has taken over! Nuts.
I'm glad to see the bees are a-pollinatin'.
A beautiful sight. I call this, "Holy Pumpkin".

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

School Garden

Sue H. Morrow Elementary School will use these funds to set up a greenhouse/garden learning environment that will provide a context for the students in Kindergarten through 5th grade to use in all academic subjects and fine arts to create a well-rounded holistic education. With the support of Mayor Andy Hafen, the school garden will be a cornerstone in the community for the "greening" of Henderson, Nevada with special projects like native/regional gardening, rainwater harvesting, sustainable living in the desert, community composting, and healthy food choices. Please add your 5 votes to our school.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Classic vehicles are a chronic condition.

<---- Artwork found on Etsy by vol25
Airstream Gothic <----- Flickr find
Airstream Trailer: Home on the Range<------- Flickr find
Airstream <---- Flickr find

Friday, June 4, 2010

These are the salad days

Picture yourself in the Mustang on Water with cowboy boots and neon filled skies.
The People's Whiskey brings soul to the Gold Mine,
you drift without knowing
Cheap distractions appear at the bar,
waiting to take you away
You are in that fleeting shiny blink
and then it's gone
Unlit Jack Daniels sign makes you wonder
what is the whiskey of the people?
It must not be Jack.
Oh Hendo
Oh, Oh

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Oh Hendo...

Here I am.

I got here by doing the same thing I've always done.

It was what I thought I was supposed to do.

I've always followed directions.

So, I allowed myself to be directed here.

I have many reasons to be grateful for here, but something doesn’t feel quite right.

Society has painted this picture of the American Dream:

Go to college, get a degree, get a full time job with benefits and a 401K, get married, buy a house, make babies, and pay off your 30 year mortgage.

Let’s see how well I’ve followed directions. I've got the degree, got the full time job with benefits, got married, and bought the house. I am grateful for the college experience and the degree. I'm even grateful for the job, though I believe that “full-time” is akin to indentured servitude. I am especially grateful for the marriage because all you really need is love. Thus far, I’ve followed directions quite well and I’m even grateful for most of it.

Then, why doesn’t something feel quite right? Quite simply, following directions has led me to debt and therefore to a job. The bitch is that I knew it all along, yet since I’m so good at following directions, here I am.

What is debt? Debt is borrowing money from someone or some entity with the promise to pay it back. I knew this when I was 18 and got my first credit card. I was determined that debt wasn’t something that would get me. I was determined to play the game and keep my head above water. It’s sneaky how easy it was for the water to rise above my head. I didn’t even know it for a while. I am very diligent about paying bills and managing money. I’m always on time for my payments. I handle all of my debt responsibly, yet now the debt is bigger than me. This happened because I allowed society’s casualness to sneak in on all of my transactions. Oh, how easy it was to buy a house and ring up wedding expenses on the credit card with the idea that our combined future income would effortlessly manage them. Yes, the market changed and so has America’s fiscal woes, along with mine. So, by following directions, I was led down a primrose path of deception. I didn’t think twice to question the path because it looked so pretty and, after all, I was following directions.

The good news is that I’m young and I have quite a lot of time ahead of me and it is time for me to do something about it. I’m done following directions. I will be giving the directions from this point forward.

House: Oh, how I love you house. I am so proud that you are mine to fill with love. I love the changes we’ve gone through together. I am sad that I can’t give you the TLC you deserve due to lack of funding and skills. If I had my way, you would be a part of my family for the rest of my life. I will always love the yellow house in Henderson. My first house love. You brought me chickens, gardening, plumbing, our home studio, built in bookshelves, the roaring fireplace, my first tinsel Christmas tree, puppies, loud parties, quiet dinners, and a place to call home.

Alas, you are not mine according to the bank I borrowed money from. With a serious reduction in monthly clam earnings, the bank may soon decide that you are theirs and I have to go. This is okay. You are four walls, some windows, and a leaky roof. You are a structure built by man and there are many more of you out there. As a matter of fact, I can build my own sweet home one day without a leaky roof and know every square inch of the structure that will become a home. A home is a home because you make it a home. A teepee can be a home. This yellow house is a home because I am in it. So, if the time comes for us to part, I will part with gratitude in my heart for the shelter you provided me and my family to create a home in. Then, I will move on and you will become a home for another family. All will be well because wherever I go I will make a home.

Credit Cards: You are the devil. Pure Satan. I will give you what I owe you because I’m a man of my word and then that’s it. You are a like a bad ex-boyfriend who keeps coming back. You and I are through.

Job: Teaching is amazing. I hate it. I love it. I’m so mad that I have to pay student loans for this job. I’m so mad that this job pays me peanuts. If I worked with elephants at the circus, my monthly gross income of peanuts would make sense. No, I work with the future leaders and decision makers that will be in charge of all of our asses in a few years. You can’t put a salary on that. You can’t calculate the amount of hours I work per work. I’m working all the time and I’m still never finished! Most importantly, I put all of my heart into this job. I feel so grateful that I am able to love and nurture for a living. Now, if only that living was enough for me to live.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Here comes the sun...da da da daaa

The weather has been toying with me the past few weeks. Delicious mountain air coolness one day, hot as hell the next. Southern Nevada summers are wicked and this one will be no different. My poor little chickies are so hot they spend all day in the cool, damp, and shaded rose bed. I have completely given up trying to keep them out. While my rose bed looks like a moonscape, I know that the chickens are getting some respite from the hot sun and without the rose bed there would be none. So, I'm feeling the pressure to build a grape arbor/shade structure on the south side of the house where their run is. Lou and I drew out the plans tonight and priced the supplies. I think we can build a 30' by 8' grape arbor for about $400. This season, I will strap down some green shade fabric to the top and plant some crookneck gourd seeds I harvested from a freebie gourd I got while at Cactus Joes and perhaps some European variety grapes. The Springs Preserve has a grape arbor with grapes that take the sun all day and it seems to do just fine.
While sweeping and mopping the floors today, I realized that the one thing I feel like I need to work on right now is patience. So despite my insane nagging urge to get this done and get it done NOW, I need to really research, plan, and design this carefully so that it is a quality structure that will fulfill all my needs for the time that I need it. Sigh...I should have thought of this over the winter time when it wasn't so pressing. That's the other thing I need to work on, planning ahead!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Checking the list

There is no feeling as satisfying as actually checking off something on a to-do list. I have updated my 2010 Garden To-Do list below. The beds around the mulberry trees are completed, one just needs dirt. One mulberry tree is trimmed and looking fantastic! The second will get its haircut soon. Excuse me while I work on digging up the oleanders. :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Words will have to suffice

I admit that I haven't "blogged" in a while because my digital camera is no longer functioning. The pictures are so important! So, close your eyes and let my words paint a picture of my urban homestead. (This might translate into a stick figure drawing, so feel free to use your imagination).
Oh man, where to begin. I have planted seeds in just about every place I can. Some came up and some are still thinking about it. Of the seeds that sprouted a few were lost to rogue chickens. I'm not sure if the nature of a chicken is dumb or smart, but these four ladies I have the pleasure of living with are pretty darn smart. For instance, I set up a corral with garden fencing and green plastic netting in the lawn so that they could get some green grazing going on. I left to go to class and asked the hubby to put them up when the sun went down. After class, I asked hubby about the chickens and he said, "Didn't you put them up?"
", I delegated that task to you," Apparently the ladies put themselves to bed.
The next day, while hanging the laundry, I observed the clever little chicks walk right through a slit in the green netting one by one in a row, using it like a doggy door. Damn! I would not have been able to find that if I was looking for it. I was very impressed. Immediately following this exhibit of brilliance, Rita and Lola got themselves stuck behind the reed fence. The wind has been so ferocious lately that my reed fence is losing its grip on the metal fence beneath it. Chickens saw a place to hide and went for it and then got stuck when the wind died down. Hilarious to watch, but stupid predicament to get in. So, are chickens brilliant or stupid? Or a little of both. How big is their brain? Can they see in color? I have so much more to learn.
They have been quite crafty with their eggs. I have discovered 2 stashes of eggs, 24 eggs each. 1 under the garden shed and the other under the hay wagon. So, perhaps they were laying all winter, I just didn't know it!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Another rainy day in Henderson

I love how rainy it's been. I spent most of the daylight hours outside today in the soft drizzle with the chickens and chihuahua, who was much happier once I put his sweater on. I started chopping wood so that we could have a fire inside tonight, but quickly realized how much work it was and decided to quit and hope for a reciprocating saw in my future.
I successfully repaired the dog-damaged irrigation in the first vegetable bed, leveled all the soil out, planted 1 nasturtium, 2 broccoli, and 5 swiss chard seeds, and then covered it all with a light layer of compost mulch.
Recently, I have had the good fortune to acquire a plot at the Boulder City community gardens. It is about 60 sq. feet and before we got started was completely engulfed with geraniums, mint, and some sort of tuber plant. There was also a pathetic citrus tree. My dirt partner, her family, and I have spent some good time out there cleaning it out. Yesterday, I brought home a bucketful of mint. Today, I planted them in the holes on top of the cinder block retaining wall in the backyard. I am hoping that they will grow and spread and smell amazing all over the wall.
The multi-grafted fruit trees that I recently planted are blooming and growing green leaves. They look so happy. I hung up a clothesline between the pine tree and a wooden ladder and used it yesterday to air dry the bed sheets. I absolutely loved how the sheets smelled when I crawled into bed last night. They smelled like wind, the pine tree and the oncoming thunderstorm. Louie suggested I grow something on the ladder and I thought, "Why didn't I think of that?" Maybe some cucumbers or squash?
I spent last Wednesday evening designing my gardens for this year. I used two books that I scored at a library book sale for a dollar each for research. One is the Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, published in 1969. The other is a Better Homes and Gardens Gardening Guide (it reminds me of my mom's cookbook, three ring binder style with clipped articles from the magazine included) that was published in 1978. I found the Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening to be completely amazing and useful and I already have tons of pages flagged with sticky notes for future reference.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A slight departure from plans...

To be honest, I didn't do the Read and Run today like I was planning. As a matter of fact, the last time I hit the treadmill was last Sunday. I'm not a fan of excuses, so instead, I will provide a brief list of events that changed my course (in chronological order):
- Saturday: While at the Springs Preserve, I discovered that the author of one of my favorite books I'm reading right now was going to speak on Wednesday. (This author I speak of is Richard Louv and he wrote Last Child in the Woods)
- Sunday: I discovered that not only was Richard Louv speaking on Wednesday, but it was the keynote address to a 4 day long conference on environmental education in the state of Nevada. Be still my heart!
- Monday: As I was signing up for the all day Saturday Teacher Symposium, a nagging thought in the back of my head said I was supposed to do something on Saturday. Later that evening, I remembered.
There I stood at a fork in the road. I lamented the fact that life sometimes simultaneously gives you two opportunities that you want just as bad as the other and there is only one of you. I made the choice to attend the symposium for a few reasons. Please see the list below (can you tell that I love lists?):
1. Attending this conference (plus completing 15 hours of extra work) will increase my salary next year
2. This is it! This is my path!
On my way to the conference bright and early, I waved to the runners along Water Street wishing them luck in the early morning drizzle. Perhaps next year...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

6 days to go

I spent 7 hours on the computer today accomplishing put-off projects for work and school. So, I admit, I didn't want to do anything but veg because my brain waves were kaput. I went to the store to deposit some money and instead walked out with a frozen focaccia (crazy how that happens) and a mango smoothie. Yum. Once I got home, I put the focaccia in the oven and hit the treadmill because I knew I just couldn't get on the blog tonight and say I bitched out on day 2. So, I ran another mile (woo hoo!). I feel sooooo good right now. This feeling comes from the post work out rush of endorphins or the extreme pleasure of not being on the treadmill any more. The mango smoothie left a sharp metallic taste in the back of my throat after the run. Not so yummy anymore. Damn you sneaky high fructose corn syrup.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

7 days and counting

Since this is the year of getting shit done, I will be participating in the Read&Run in downtown Henderson to support the libraries. I have wanted to do it for the past two years and now I'm going to. I admit, I began planning for this back in October. I even set up a calendar using the training schedule the library offered. I was supposed to start training back in December. it is exactly 1 week before the 5K run/1 mile walk and I've been on the treadmill twice since December. I'm always wistfully wishing I did more yoga, rode my bike daily to work, and walked the dog for an hour or more a day. I realized yesterday that I never make that a priority when running down the lists of things to do (see the January 20 post for reference to the many lists). Yes, I'd like to incorporate more yoga, dog walking, and bike riding (as well as swimming, kayaking, hiking, and dancing) into my daily life, but I need to take baby steps, so I'm starting with this. I will run a mile every day in the week I have left before the Read&Run. In order to make myself accountable, because I'm a slacker at heart and have a thousand great excuses, I will write about it every day. While brainstorming about this, I could see the roots of this idea coming from recently watching "Yes Man" (ah, the power of positive thinking) and reading "Sleeping Naked is Green" by Vanessa Farquharson. I like the idea of taking on a personal challenge and simultaneously sharing it with other people. In the middle of the brainstorm, the thought crossed my mind, "I'm going to die doing this". Ha!

Day 1:
I put off the treadmill until after the errands today. I am pleasantly surprised at how healthy I felt! I ran the whole damn mile. A year ago, the idea of running an entire mile without stopping was inconceivable. Let's see how I feel tomorrow.

The exclamation point is put to work

Here's an update on the past month at the Hendohomestead.
I like that, Hendohomestead.
I have successfully marked off a few items on the oh-10 to do list. I freecycled the chitalpa trees and planted three dwarf fruit trees on the side yard. I found multi-grafted dwarf fruit trees at the Lowes next to my house for $40 each. I thought, okay, it'll be an investment to buy 3 trees for $120. After I dug up the chitalpa and passed them on to a better life via freecycle Henderson (yea for sharing the excess with your neighbors!), I went to the Lowes near my mom's house and there were my fruit trees marked down to $4 each. typo there folks, $4 each. Amazing! So I purchased a 4-way apple tree, a 4-way pear tree, and a snow queen nectarine...all for $12! I hate sounding like an advertisement for a good deal, but I was overjoyed! I spent the extra money I set aside on some much needed tools and supplies for the yard. Hoo-ray for corporate inconsistencies! Along with the fruit trees, I acquired another strawberry plant, an artichoke, a set of beautiful desert-friendly aloe with red flowers (the name escapes me) to attract hummingbirds , and two blueberry bushes. Hooray for homegrown blueberries! I plan on putting them in pots so I can move them around and better address their needy soil requirements.
In the front yard, I replanted the century agave pup, grasses, and other cactuses (according to the Springs Preserve teacher trainer this word is grammatically correct; it still feels weird) in the rock along the sidewalk. Louie made a flower bed around one of the mulberry trees using the pavers from the back patio. I can't wait to finish the other one and get some dirt. The mulberry trees provide some sweet shade during the painfully hot summer that will provide refuge for the veggies and flowers. In the established flower bed, I have purple kale, strawberries, collard greens, two grape vines, and a huge stash of onion sets I acquired from Delores, the lady I bought my hens from. This bed has never looked better. Some sweet little daffodils are peeking out right now. They love the 70 degree weather as much as I do. My front yard is definitely the nicest on the block. I'm not boasting, well, maybe a little. It's not hard to be the nicest when your neighbors park multiple cars on the lawn and collect trash in neat little piles. Ahh, Henderson's other side, the tweekers.
At last, with help from my motivatin' momma, the shed has been cleaned out. I swear I will never find a feeling that compares to the satisfication I get from an organized shed.
Here's to the year of getting shit done!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

That to-do list I was talking about...

It's January, so I have a lot of different to-do lists floating around on scrap pieces of paper. There's the "Grad School Application" list, the "Teaching Kindergarten" list, the "Re-arranging the Clams" list, the "Organize and Clean House" list, and so on...
This list is titled "The Yard"
- dig up, repair, and update almost all of the irrigation
- lasagna mulch where possible
a set up cold frame outside
a start seeds now (indoors and outdoors)
a prune fruitless mulberry trees and pine tree
a dig up and freecycle chitalpa trees
a plant fruit/nut trees in chicken run
- attempt to grow clover in chicken run
a plant sunflowers in as many places as possible
- finish turtle pond
- build an herb spiral
a build a pole bean tepee
- plant a three sister garden
a build raised beds around fruitless mulberry trees
areplant all desert plants into rock yard
a espalier grapes
- build a shade like structure over back porch for gourds to grow on
- repair shade structures for raised beds
aorganize shed so I can find my tools!
a get rid of oleanders and replace with something edible/useful
That's the beginning of it. :)

A rainy day in Henderson...

I couldn't decide where to start today, so I decided to make cupcakes instead. I am so glad I did. I used the Peanut Butter cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Moskowitz. I have to preface that I am throwing a Mustache Bash for my husband's birthday this weekend. So, the peanut butter cupcakes are decorated with chocolate mustaches. You never knew a cupcake could look so manly. I would most definitely have a picture if my camera didn't decide today was the day to croak.
The weather was extraordinarily dramatic today for southern Nevada. The sky is almost always clear, dry, and painfully sunny. Last week, conveniently coinciding with a cloud lesson I taught fifth graders, heavy cumulus clouds crowded over Mt. Charleston. It rained so much yesterday that my carport flooded. I spent at least 40 minutes squeegee-ing (new word!) the water over the concrete into the front yard. It makes me want to jackhammer all that concrete more than ever. As part of this urban homestead project, I want to try to harvest what little rainwater we get here. Currently, I have trash cans, coolers, buckets, plastic bottles, and watering cans set up around the perimeter of the roof overflowing with water. Normally this impromptu and primitive rainwater harvesting system I have suffices because the water comes in little spurts. I am glad that Lou and I picked up all of the concrete pavers on the back porch before all of this rain. The dirt back there is eagerly soaking it all in. I fantasize that one day I can get rid of the concrete in the carport and replace it with gravel and brick tire paths.
Back to the weather... Lou and I were standing out back around our newly built fire pit with some friends this afternoon admiring the filtered sunlight and drizzly air. (Anyone reading this from the Northwest United States is shaking their head right now. ) The chickens were contentedly preening themselves in the drizzle while clucking happily to each other about all of the fat worms they gorged on. Rain makes Henderson kids happy.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009 in pictures

Building the raised beds and laying down the irrigation.

My sister calls this the cemetery.

First little seedlings poking through.

Mexican sunflower wearing a seed hat.

Seedlings in my cold frame.

Sunflowers, pumpkins, snap peas, and pole beans.

Gorgeous squash plant.

The third attempt: eggplant, cherry tomatoes, carrots, kale, spinach...

...pumpkins, sunflowers, watermelon, and artichoke.

The ladies taking a dust bath on their first day home.