Too Much Happens

Time just keeps on, keepin’ on –

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A pair of jackasses, these two

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Battle wounds, all the time -

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My most prominent memory of Seattle 

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Family Time

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It’s already warmer here than I’d like. I keep thinking that it’s summer, but it’s only February. Strange times. There’s a lot of wildness coming up on the horizon — more than just breaking down walls in our apartment. I’m glad to be back in Phoenix, certainly. 

Hello From Very Far Away

Updates from the last few months…

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Christmas was really lovely this past year. Blaise was a doll and made the effort to be with everyone’s family – including mine – thus consuming about 3 dinners that day. Luckily, my brother had just gotten engaged a few days prior to Christmas (meaning most of the attention was on them and Blaise and I could escape unscathed), but we had to pose for a few photos, too. 

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Valentine’s Day was super swell, too. I made a big breakfast – complete with sloppily-heart-shaped pancakes. 

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Blaise made cocktails with hearts on them. They tasted even better than they looked – if that’s possible!

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Blaise got a new tattoo –

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And we spent lots of afternoons putzing around downtown…

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sometimes with a pup in tow. 

ImageBlaise had a birthday, and even though he was fairly keen on skipping it, I decorated the house anyway. We butchered two of our chickens and made a big brunch feast for all of our friends to attend.

ImageWe were fortunate to have a new brood of baby hens at the time, so everyone enjoyed playing with the chicks before and after the meal.

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Easter snuck up on us pretty quickly. Asking us to make deviled eggs was kind of a no-brainer, so we did our darndest with the help of a chef friend. Instead of using mayonnaise to make the filling moist, we used bacon fat and sour cream. They were pretty amazing if I do say so myself! 

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Obviously, more photos were posed for. On the right side are my brother David and his fiance, Shandina. Their date is set for August 3 this year and we are all very, very excited.

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Earlier this month we were lucky to get time off of work together, so we took off for the strange world of New Mexico. We got our alien-nerd on at the Very Large Array first thing. 

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There were some really neat missions scattered around the state, but we only made it up to one of them. 

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After a disastrous night of camping outside of White Sands (I’m ashamed to admit that the wind almost blew our tent away and we ended up sleeping in the car! Agh!), we visited the national monument the next day. It was so eerily beautiful!

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And we ended our trip with a nice date at 47 Scott in Tucson, AZ. 

Life’s been so busy lately. Sometimes I wish I could just hit the pause button and sit back and take it all in, but frankly, it’s just go-go-go most of the time. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be slowing down anytime soon, either. We have our sights set on a short vacation to the beach in southern California sometime this summer, and I’m still angling on how to get up to Montana in September for a good friend’s wedding. Work, per usual, is its own beast (and I mean that in the best way possible).

I suppose I probably won’t make it back here for another few months, but until then — ciao, bloggers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Days

Although the Holiday Season officially ended over a month ago, I never got around to posting pictures and recapping the festivities surrounding my birthday and Christmas. It was pretty great, guys!

Blaise and I started out the day in style by heading to the Phoenix Art Museum to pay homage to my favorite installation in the whole wide world. I couldn’t really get a good shot of it — it’s a dark room with mirrors on all the walls and ceiling, and reflective tile for the floors. Hanging on strands dangling from the ceiling are tiny LED lights that shift color and quality in cycle. The effect is that you appear to be standing in the middle of the universe, surrounded by stars in all infinite directions. It is so dark in the room that you cannot see your own reflection. It’s very centering and lovely, really, and I hadn’t been to see it in quite some time. It’s called You Who are Being Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies by Yayoi Kusama. I did get some neat shots of other things, however.

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That night we headed to dinner with my family at Tuck Shop which was delicious, per usual. It was fun to get together with everyone in a fancy-schmancy setting.

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My Mom of course needed to get a shot of all the young couples in the family. Obviously.

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(sorry for the intense flash. I promise, although we are all very pasty, we are not quite that pasty).

On that Friday, my dear, dear friend Stephanie threw me an incredible little party that a great handful of my loveliest friends attended. Stephanie had amassed an assortment of delicious foods and we all got to make our own personal pizzas in her incredible wood-burning pizza oven. Fantastic!

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And then, of course, Christmas came just a few days later. I made out like a bandit with a brand new Le Creuset French press coffee maker, some terrific necklaces from my Mom (and from Blaise’s Mom!), lots of chocolate, and a gorgeous black cashmere sweater. I’ve been wanting a cashmere sweater for ages and just have never bothered to buy one for myself, so it was a very nice thing to receive.

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Here is myself and Blaise looking awfully couple-y on Christmas. Don’t you love his Christmas bow-tie / shirt combo? Guess who picked it out?! ;)

Life since then has been pretty mellow. Lots of working, lots of seeing people I love and care about. I’m looking forward to getting involved in some more projects in the upcoming days — I’m reading for a quickening of the pace around here. Lots to look forward to — including Valentine’s Day!

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Interim II

Hey, still here. Haven’t forgotten… Just absent and absent-minded. Maybe a thoughtful post coming up.

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Volver

Hello cyberworld! Sorry for the absence… a lot has been happening over here which makes finding time to sit down and process life difficult. Excuses schmexcuses, I know.

The weather has taken a long time to cool off here in Phoenix, sadly, but we seem to be faring moderately well. Most days still get up to the 80s (boo!), but I suppose I can’t complain because many of you are hunkered down inside while your front yards look like what I imagine the Canadian tundra to be like. Well, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration… but snow really freaks me out, guys. Last year at this time I was still living in Denver, CO, and I did not handle the snow too well. Correction: My 2010 Corolla did not handle the snow too well with me at the helm. Thank goodness I had an AZ license plate to half-justify my constant skidding and fish-tailing. I’m glad to be home this year, that’s for sure.

I’ve been taking a lot of time to reflect on 2012 lately and have started feeling very grateful for all the wonderful things that have come out of it. I still feel a lot like an aimless college grad, but the feeling of purposelessness and meaninglessness is slowly abating. I’d still like to go back to school – although I have no idea for what – and I’m trying to figure out what kind of person I’d like to be in the long run. But being home near my family, being with Blaise… these things are driving me steadily onward.

Blaise and I have begun the slow process of decorating our little place for the holidays. It’s nice how much a few bows and lights can really add to the atmosphere!

DecorA bit of garland around the mirror and some bows on the Rossin Ghibli bicycle -

Tree!Our little tree! I’m still waiting to bring over my ornaments from my parents’ house, so she’s not finished yet, but this is certainly a grand start!

The arrival of the holiday season also means one more thing to me — Birthday Time!! This year is a particularly special birthday for me, as I will turn the big 2-4 on 12/12/12. (Get it? 24 on 12/12/12??!) My dear Blaise decided to do something special a little early for me this year, and I am feeling like one lucky lady. Those of you who know me know that in 2011 I undertook an Independent Project at UPS in order to analyze and study Sufjan Stevens‘ 2004 album, Seven Swans. It took me about 4 months to do the project, and 50 pages later, I had a pretty neat study put together. Unfortunately, despite my mega-fan-girl status, I had never seen him live. Until…

Suf TixBlaise surprised me with tickets to see their show down in Tucson! OH BOY!

We spent a day hauling around town, sampling some lovely cocktails at The Hub, Scott & Co, and Maynard’s Kitchen. We stayed at the Hotel Congress (which is simply amazing!), and sampled Blue Bottle coffee from Sparkroot.

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and of course…

SufjanThe man of the hour was full of Christmas spirit and oh so much fun!

It’s strange to be home for Christmas for once, and not planning a full on pilgrimage back to my parents for the holidays. In a sense, I miss the excitement that comes with packing a suitcase and heading for warmer climes, but I’m truly enjoying being near family, setting up my own tree, and sampling plenty of Blaise’s eggnog by the fire. More Christmas updates to come, and of course, news about the upcoming birthday festivities!

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Vegetarians Beware…

Something pretty intense happened over here recently, and if you are a vegetarian / vegan / animal lover, please forgo this post and let your opinion of us remain untarnished. But seriously guys… whoa. We ate our first chicken. Whoa again.

Black Chicken BikePlease meet the dearly departed chicken. It’s still weird to look at this picture and realize she’s not running around the coop in the backyard.

We always knew it was an inevitability that we would start eating the chickens when their egg production went down, and this little hen in particular was sort of always tapped to be the first to go. Unfortunately, she seemed to have a bad habit of going broody and was never a great layer in any case. “Going broody” occurs when a hen becomes convinced she is hatching a bunch of adorable baby chicks underneath her and refuses to leave the nest to eat, drink water, or be productive. Broody hens without fertilized eggs can starve to death… so this is a fairly serious condition that has to be dealt with in a number of aggressive ways. Blaise had cured her of being broody twice already, and on her third bout, we were starting to become pretty frustrated and more and more convinced she was going to head to the chopping block sooner rather than later. Fortunately, she stopped being broody and was allowed to peck around the yard a few more months. However, she was also a sort of “bad attitude” type of gal, and had another bad habit of harassing the younger chickens and picking squabbles with some of the adults. Ugh.

A few weeks ago, Blaise noticed that this chicken had begun to molt. Molting, as many of you may guess, occurs when chickens lose their feathers and, for a time, stop laying eggs. After molting occurs, chickens may or may not start laying again, but they are never quite as prolific as they once were.

It was time.

At first I was filled with a sort of macabre fascination with the whole butchering process, although as with any death-situation, there is always the forethought and emotional preparation beforehand and then the actuality of dealing with the situation once it occurs. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was really going to react when she was dead, so I was honestly a little nervous.

We invited my brother over to share in the event (he had expressed some interest in the process), and we waited until he arrived to do the deed. Since Blaise had committed to wringing her neck, I needed someone to hold onto! Turns out, when Blaise had the hen in his hands, I bolted inside and made loud squealing noises while I heard the squabbling outside. Real mature, Cal. Nice work.

The death took a little longer than I had anticipated. It was sort of hard to watch, really. I had ventured outside by this point and was a little taken aback by her twitching. I know she was dead, but this post-mortem was a little… graphic.

Black Chicken poseA quick side note: Blaise – and most specifically, his father – are birders and are fairly accustomed to wringing necks of birds and skinning / de-feathering / etc. those of the aviary persuasion. A lot of my family hunts as well, and I am a supporter of ethical hunting although I do not do it myself. I know some of you may disagree, but let’s all realize that everyone’s opinions differ and be respectful and understanding of each other, okay? Deal.

Blaise’s Dad lives next door to us, so Blaise ventured over to ask for a quick word of advice on skinning the bird, and surprisingly, his Dad headed straight back with him to show us how it was done. He was extremely efficient at disassembling the bird and once again, I stood there wide-eyed and by this time was a bit more fascinated by the whole thing. It reminded me a lot of dissecting fetal pigs in high school, to be honest. “This is the heart, this is the liver,” etc.

Blaise had prepared a quick brine solution inside, so we let her sit in a combination of salt water, cloves, citrus, and other spices for a time before we cooked her in a Dutch oven.

Quick BrineSort of gross. Sort of really fascinating.

While the bird was baking, we fried up the giblets with some onions and served them atop homemade tortilla chips as a little appetizer.

GibletsPretty tasty if you ask me!

The finished product was fairly good, although she was an older bird, so she wasn’t as tender as the silly things you get at the market. We fried up some mashed potato pancakes and served the chicken atop those, and ate our feast by the fire outside. We (well, I) felt rather ceremonious about the occasion, and there was a bit of pomp and circumstance involved in the dinner.

In hindsight, I had a strange sense of satisfaction and guilt about the whole thing. I woke up the next morning feeling awfully strange that I had one of my darling chickens in my belly, and that instead of 16 hens running around outside, there were only 15.

However, I have to strongly state that owning backyard chickens comes with an ethical obligation to be responsible for their healthy life and death. Chickens aren’t like cats and dogs (although with those you also must be ethical and thoughtful about their life cycle), and they aren’t cuddly pets that you keep as companions. Our chickens are kept for their eggs, and when they are no longer laying, we have to be practical about whether or not to keep them around.

Furthermore, although I was vegetarian myself for about seven years (a lazy vegetarian, truly, but a vegetarian nonetheless), I have always supported being aware and responsible about where your food comes from - especially your meat. We know each thing this chicken consumed during her life, we know that she was well treated, that she died a respectful death, and that we were responsible in the whole process.

And that, my friends, is the tale of our first chicken dinner. It certainly won’t be the last, but at least we’ve gotten over the hump of finally doing it and hopefully it won’t be so fraught with emotion in the future. Surely I’ll have more thoughts about the experience as time goes on — I already have so many — so we’ll see how it goes.

 

Hello, Phoenix!

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My pretty city. Feels like fall finally!

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November? November!

Whoa whoa whoa everyone, please tell me it is NOT already November. October slipped through my fingers so quickly and I feel like I barely had time to relish in my favorite month of the year! Who am I kidding, though… it has been a terrific past few weeks. So terrific in fact, that I have barely had time to sit down and update this space!

Lately I have been…

Going to the AZ State Fair

Reconnecting with dear old friends from high school at Hanny’s

Watching the garden grow big –

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Kale -

Buttercup Squash -

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And the broccoli, spinach, pumpkin, radishes, tomatoes, etc., etc., etc. are all doing fabulously as well!

The baby chicks are so big now that we have been able to put them in the large run with the adult chickens. They are chirping along as happily as ever and starting to get rather fat!

In even more exciting news, we had a group of three lovely cross-country cyclists stay with us around Halloween. Em and Nick hail from San Francisco, and Alex, a friend they met up with on the road, is originally from Austin, TX. Em and Nick are currently in the process of filming a documentary about cycling fatalities and are en route to Orlando, FL. Alex, on the other hand, has been on the road for the last six months biking all around the perimeter of the continental US. You can read more about their fascinating journey on their blog. They also have a pretty sweet map on the website so you can see where they’re off to.

While they were here, we did some hiking

Hung out by the pool
(it was a pretty warm day, even by fall’s standards)

Partied it up at the Crescent Ballroom for Halloween

and Alex managed to snag himself a pretty sweet tat from Golden Rule

I guess he liked Phoenix okay!

It was really amazing to spend so much time with people who are so convicted about what they do, and so hardcore that they are literally biking every mile from coast to coast. Even Blaise has done some serious biking in his life (more at his blog, guys, I am not equipped to tell these stories!), and after our visitors left, I was starting to feel pretty left out. Why was I so scared of just getting on a bike?

So… my delightful beau struck it out of the park once more…

By fixing me up my very own little bike!

My bike has a little basket and lights for when I bike around at night. My very concerned parents kindly bought my an Adeline Adeline nutcase helmet and guess what?!

I’ve been biking to work every day. I have probably already saved $30-$40 in gas this week already! Hooray!

Dear Em, Nick, and Alex: Thank You for inspiring me to get on a bike!

 

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New Places + Faces

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The promised post on the newest of the new is forthcoming. I hope to sit down and load up some photos tomorrow… There is a ton to update on!

Hope all is well, lovely people. Don’t be strangers.

Interim

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No wine for chickens.

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