Poetry Slam

Isaac and his classmates at Montessori Children's House of Durham have been preparing for months for their Poetry Slam.  Each child chose poems to memorize and recite for a gathering of fellow students, staff and parents.  As a first exercise in public speaking, it was a very positive one.  Isaac's face glowed with pride when it was all over. 

Isaac's teacher, Johanna, was there to support the children, prompting them discretely should they forget a line. It was obvious to me how much the children trust Johanna, and how much she believes in them. 

The children turned their classroom into a coffee house by laying out snazzy table cloths, draping strings of white lights around the room, lighting tiny tea lights on every table, and preparing snacks.

I had a wonderful time.

You can listen to Isaac's recite two very charming poems here, if you'd like:


Oh frabjous day!

It's finally happened!  Not one, but two of the girls started laying on the very same morning.  Though I know it is but a simple fact of life (I am chicken, I lay egg), somehow it feels as if the girls laid these eggs as a personal favor just for us.  The blue one for me -- I found it just to the outside of the three little nest boxes I set up in the hen house (I'm sure the ladies will improve their aim over time).  The brown one for Isaac -- he found it nestled on the ground next to the feeder.  We are jubilant this morning.

"Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
He chortled in his joy." 
(Lewis Carroll)



It is up to us
to re-enchant this planet Earth

We are the elves and giants
we are the shining ones
(Will Ashe Bacon)


Coop Improvements

I'm tinkering with my morning routine again.  It is my seemingly eternal hope that by arranging, maneuvering, fussing or manipulating I will be able to create a more relaxed morning without actually getting up any earlier.  Maybe I am delusional, but I have not yet given up the belief that with the proper coordination I will be able to make my morning minutes bend to my will, work harder for me, and other such efficient-sounding blahty-blah.  I really don't want to get  up earlier.

My latest efforts to bend time have to do with the chickens.  They eat and they grow and then they eat more and grow more.  And so on.  Because their food and water dishes have not grown along with the chickens, they now need to be cleaned and filled on a daily (rather than twice weekly) basis.  Bleh.  Another morning chore I can ill afford.  Some mornings we are so short on time that the food doesn't actually make it all the way out to the food pan in the chicken coop.  Here the chickies are eating from a brownie pan full of pellet feed that I hurriedly slapped on the ground at the bottom of our back steps before dashing off to work.

This weekend I decided to build the girls a high-volume gravity-fed pellet feeder that will (keep your fingers crossed) only need to be filled once a week on Saturday, the thank-god-day-without-a-morning.  Do you want to know how I did it?

First, I went to Home Depot and bought some stuff.  A 4 ft piece of 4 inch PVC pipe, a shorter piece of 3 inch PVC, a 90 degree elbow that looked about right (not a pun, Liz Paley!), a cap for the 3 inch end, and a little saw called a "Bear Saw" which claimed to be the best out there for gnawing up thick plastic plumbing.

Then I sawed an opening in the smaller pipe to make the food trough.  Those "Bear Saw" people weren't lying.  Whisk, whisk, done.


Then I put everything together like a tinker toy project.  Big pipe, elbow, little pipe, cap.  I didn't use any of that stinky PVC glue.  Mostly because I didn't have any, but also because, well, it is stinky and I didn't want to poison my chickies.  You never know, you know? I just pounded everything together with a hammer, no problem. You like?

Then I rigged the thing up sort of half in and half out of the chicken coop.  I cut a hole in the hardware cloth and slid the trough part in at a mostly horizontal but somewhat down-sloping angle.  I wanted to make sure that the pellets would flow from top to bottom.  Everthing is secured to the coop with wire. Then I filled it on up.  Had to get on a ladder to do it, but I'd much rather do that once a week on a Saturday afternoon than fill a ground level dish five mornings a week.   It can handle half a bag of Purina Layena, which should (again, fingers crossed!) last out the week.

To take care of the water situation, I bought this automatic dog waterer from Barne's Supply and ran an extra 100 feet of hose out to the coop.  When it gets below a certain water level it automatically fills back up, kind of like a toilet (but not so gross).

And then, just for fun, I hung this bamboo fence along the neighbors' side of the chicken coop so that the girls have a little more privacy.  There has been no egg-laying yet.  I think the ladies are a little shy and maybe need a little more ambience.  Thought the bamboo would help.  What do you think? Sexy, right?

Batty says, "Brrrawk...thanks Mom! I'm going to go practice laying eggs right now!"


Triangle Aikido shares the dojo

This morning the Greensboro dojo joined us in Durham for our first Kids' Seminar. 
Thank you, Lisa Sensai!

One little Greensboro girl decided she was going to be Isaac's partner, not knowing, of course, that his top three fears in life are 1. girls, 2. talking to girls, and 3. touching girls.  Their partnership began with Greensboro Girl casually saying, "Needapartner?" Isaac casually replied, "Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh."  And then he promptly threw her to the mat.  Yep, my boy's got game.  Check them out:

He also got a chance to throw Lisa Sensai a time or two. Always a good time.

Got loved on by Hamilton, his hero.


Morning Choices

Yesterday Isaac had to make a very tough decision: go to the zoo with his great friend Linden OR go to Carol's House to be baby-sat by Carol's seventeen year old son Tanner.  Isaac told me he wanted to talk it out (a new phrase of his that I am determined to take seriously - no grinning during the talk-out!). Here's a quick summary of what was talked (ab)out.

On the one hand the zoo is a place of big fun and Linden is a person of big fun.  Not only that, but Linden's dad was planning on acting as chaperone, and I hear that he at least has some moderate fun going for him as well.  Also, the zoo usually means JUNK FOOD! and POCKET MONEY! Yeah!

On the other hand is playing with Tanner at Carol's House.  Tanner and Carol, while happy to have him, both requested that I make clear to Isaac the many ways in which his party may be pooped should he decide to go their route.  1. There are daycare babies there.  Napping babies who need a lot of quiet time.  Napping babies who may cramp an 8 year old's style. 2. Tanner had a class to attend for 3 of the 8 hours Isaac was hoping to spend with him.  During that time Carol would sub, but her Star Wars skills have gotten a little rusty over time. 3. Distinct absence of junk food. 4. Likewise, no pocket money.

In the end, Isaac decided on Tanner, reasoning that a kid could go to the zoo any day while spending time with Tanner was an opportunity never to be passed up.  Such is the power Tanner wields over 8 year olds.

And now Isaac is spoiled for all else.  He loves school.  He really does.  But just look at that face this morning when he had to go to school (which, have I mentioned, he loves) instead of going to hang out with napping babies and play with toddler toys at Carol's House:


More snowy morning images

At least somebody likes the snow. Tiny Dog loves to roll in it and gulp it up on every other leap. Check out his snowbeard.

Durham is currently populated by a tremendous number of unfortunate snowmen, now that melting has commenced.  My neighbors fortuitously placed their man in a mostly shady spot, so he has been slower to melt than some.  While he looks a bit anorexic, at least he does not have to cope (yet) with headlessness.


Dear Morning,

I think you should know that I am 98% sure that I am going to break up with you today. After all, you aren't really my type.

I know, I know. This relationship was about trying something new. Doing something different. But Morning, it would really help if you could be less annoying. More easygoing on occasion. I am asking for a little less drama from you, Morning, if we are going to make a go at this for real.

Let's start with the snow.
Just look at what I woke up to this morning:

I know you think it is just hilarious to sneak around before my alarm clock goes off, sprinkling that nasty cold yuck all over things. I'll admit, the first time I woke up to snow on the ground it was kind of nice in its novelty. But we've had four big snows this year now and enough is enough! Not cute anymore, Morning. Now it is just offensive.
Speaking of weather. I bet you thought the 40 mph winds you smacked us with a few days ago were without consequence. I beg to differ! This is the carnage that used to be my trampoline before you
got your hands on it:

And good morning to you, too.

Now let's talk about the car situation. I blame you, Morning, for my dead speedometer, and for the morning a week ago when I locked my keys, phone and wallet in the car -- while it was RUNNING! I had to pull my ragged dignity together long enough to go across the street to borrow the Nice Neighbor's phone. N. Neighbor then got to witness East Coast Cowboy Locksmith lecture me on the value of an extra set of car keys and then charge me 55 dollars for the privilege. How embarrassing, especially after the very same N. Neighbor had a front row seat for the whole chicken incident with Crazy Lady next door.

And while we're on the subject of the chicken incident. What were you thinking, letting the chickens into Crazy Lady's yard? Did you see how she came bursting out her back door, arms pinwheeling in all directions, screeching and wailing like her house was on fire? Sheesh. That's something everyone wants to wake up to. In case you have ever wondered, it is NOT EASY to catch a chicken under the best set of circumstances. Even more difficult with C. Lady caterwauling about her precious garden beds, and at a time of day when I am the slowest and the birds of the world (even backyard fowl) are at their friskiest. Thanks, Morning. That was awesome

And just in case you don't believe me, here's a demonstration of just how hard it is for Isaac (a certified Chicken Whisperer) to catch a chicken who does not want to be caught. It took so long to catch the thing that it wouldn't fit on one video even!

So, Morning. I'm putting you on notice. We may have to think about going our separate ways.

Temporarily Yours,



Getting up this morning.
Dealing with the snow this morning.
Struggling with the logistics of working from home.
I'm fighting it all this morning.
Here's how I feel: