It is shameful that I wrote about our little chicken friends nearly a year ago after their arrival and have had zero follow-up since. What a terrible chicken mamma I am!
So it’s high time I tell you a little more about the birdies.
First of all, they survived one of the most God-awful winters known to the entire state of Minnesota, poor babies. Of course, our first cold season with them would turn out to be so immensely wretched. They avoided snow like the plague, so didn’t come out of their coop and run for about five months. I know they weren’t too happy, but they did just fine.
My dad helped to engineer a heat lamp using a 150-watt lightbulb covered with a clay pot to serve as a source of warmth inside their coop. Here they are, basking in the glow:
I would often see them huddled up around the pot too, I’m sure that must have felt sooooo good to their little bodies. They are THRILLED that summer [unofficially] is here and they have the run of the yard again. And that it’s above 12 degrees.
Second, we’ve learned so much about chickens, and each of them has such a distinct personality. It’s been fun getting to know them – as much as you can know a chicken, I guess!
DT and I consider Gertrude to be kind of like the older, protective sister. She’s the first one out of the coop when we open the door each morning, and the first to check out any kind of food situation. She’s also very observant and watchful when they are all out in the yard for any looming creatures, whether it’s a hawk soaring high above, a smaller bird swooping through, or a squirrel skittering about.
We think Deborah is certifiably nuts. She’s just a little bit off her rocker, but that only adds to her character. She had a couple of broody bouts last summer where she just sat and sat and sat and sat and sat in the nesting box, waiting to lay an egg (or sit on one[s] that had already been laid). DT would don gloves, pull her out of the box (never without a few pecks), and bring her into the backyard to try and “reset” her little brain. It took some time, but eventually the broodiness broke and she’d come running out with the other two.
Priscilla is a little squawker. I love talking to her, she’s so chatty and responsive. We’ve discovered she is the calmest and most docile of the three. They all love to sunbathe, but Priscilla is usually the first to plop down, close her eyes, and soak up the rays – and isn’t in any hurry to move. She looks like a little turkey. We have been thankful for her mild nature as we treat a case of leg mites. Yes, leg mites. We are treating our chicken for leg mites. Picture this scene: DT chases after Priscilla, grabs and holds her (she’s noisy but mostly agreeable), while I apply a petroleum jelly-coated paper towel (cocoa butter-scented, just to further paint the picture) to her legs.
Urban life with chickens, man.
Third, oh how they love FOOD. They eat and eat and eat! Bottomless pits, and they aren’t particularly picky. Some of their absolute favorite foods: saltines, seeds and ribs from bell peppers, watermelon, corn on the cob, strawberry tops, apples, scrambled eggs (Cannibalism? Hmm), bread crusts with peanut butter, grilled cheese, bacon (Uh – is that wrong? Piggy farm friends?), pizza crusts, waffles….the list goes on and on. And yes, ice cream! Girls after my own heart.
Lastly, watching chickens run is pretty much the funniest thing I have ever seen in my entire life. As I said to DT last weekend, chickens running will never not be funny. If one of the girls takes off, the other two quickly notice and break into a lumbering, tipsy tear across the yard. It’s hilarious. They definitely travel in a pack. They groom themselves obsessively, poop constantly (and without any shame or self awareness), and find enormous pleasure in rolling around in the dirt.
Regarding egg production….people always ask how many eggs we get each day. Our answer varies, but we can safely say on average, two daily. At least one, maybe even three. They continued to lay throughout the miserable winter, but the eggs would often freeze and crack, so we had to throw many of them out. There were a few dry spells where it was simply too cold and not enough daylight to produce. Lately they’ve been going crazy – two or three without fail, so we’ve been handing out eggs to our family and neighbors so our basement fridge doesn’t burst.
So, that’s the scoop on the girls! It’s been a fun adventure for all of us, we’ve learned a ton in the near-year they’ve lived here. I’ve said it a thousand times….they are strrrrrraaaaange little creatures! But we love having them around. Hanging out with them on the patio is our new favorite summer pastime.
DT and I decided to try a little something new with our run this year. The past couple of years we’ve done the Minneapolis Marathon/Half, which was suitable for the most part. The full marathon we did three years ago was pretty much a nightmare (the 26.2 miles turned out to be the easy part, if you can imagine – it was the enormous amount of rubbish along the way that completely broke our spirits). Anyway – it was nice to do a race here in the Cities, sleep in our own bed the night before/after, come home and recover, and not have any travel. But it just felt like it was time for a change.
So, we signed up for the Dam to Dam half marathon in Des Moines, DT’s beloved hometown.
We rolled into town Friday afternoon and picked up our race stuff at the convention center.
Free food and beer to fuel up for the run!
After the serious business, we met up with a couple of DT’s DSM friends at Confluence Brewing Company.
Confluence’s taproom was very lively with the Friday-after-work-it’s-the-weekend crowd.
Their Des Moines IPA was tasty.
Next up came our pre-race dinner ritual: PIZZA. When in DSM, there is no other option than Tavern, DT’s most favorite pizza on the entire planet.
Here is our steamy, ooey-gooey pepper cheese pie from heaven:
We devoured it.
As much as we wanted to flit about and party late into the night, we had to behave ourselves. Behaving is so hard sometimes, especially in such a fun town! We capped our evening at Charlie’s Filling Station with their famous freshly-squeezed OJ Screwdrivers. Ahhh! Like health in a glass (Wellll….kind of! Healthy with vodka? Okay sure).
Goooooooooooood MORNING, sunshines!
Gah! This was taken at 4:30 am – so very early! Big morning ahead.
I wish I would have had my camera to take photos of the starting line at the Saylorville Dam. It was a really beautiful spot, and the before-dawn calm was incredible.
The race started at 7:00 am with 9,000 registered runners. The route took us from the first dam, through the rural outskirts of Des Moines, into residential neighborhoods, along the Des Moines River, and we landed downtown to finish. DT and I loved the change of scenery!
We crossed the finish line, gulped down some Powerade, and [very stiffly and slowly] made our way toward Court Avenue where the farmer’s market was in full swing. Can I just tell you AGAIN how much I LOVE the Des Moines Farmer’s Market??
It was absolutely, positively the BEST energy we could have found after our 13.1-mile trek.
Run done, man!
We grew roots at Mickey’s – more Screwdrivers tasted pretty darn good. And, it was an amazing morning to be out on a patio (thankfully the sun didn’t come out during the run or we would have been on fire – it was already 70 degrees at the start, eep! We had a little drizzly rain along the way which actually felt quite nice).
A few other friends of DT’s popped in to say hello and visit.
After our refreshments and lunch, we checked into our Saturday night hotel, The Savery. We stayed here a few years ago and were glad to be back – great accommodations and a prime location downtown.
Then we napped. Ohhh, I love naps! By the time we fell asleep around 3:00 we’d already been awake over 11 hours and had run a half marathon. Whew! The R&R felt amazing.
120 beers on tap, yowza!
Such a fun place!
Our final stop of the night was over to Raccoon River Brewing Company for their delectable vanilla cream ale.
This here is like a pint of crack, it’s so so good.
Stick a fork in me, I’m DONE!
What an awesomely wonderful, albeit long, day. DT and I had a blast, that’s all there is to it.
Before leaving town Sunday, we made a trip to Hy-Vee (where shopping for groceries is simply a delight) and visited DT’s Grandma Mo. Then the long ride home.
We’re already making plans for next year’s Dam to Dam, but it’s going to be tough to top our inaugural run!
Hello, reader friends – it’s been a while. Apologies for my absence.
So, the latest not-so-new news around here is that both DT and I are currently unemployed. Ya. Both. Unemployed.
Both of our contracts ended last month, so we find ourselves in this rather unexpected, transitional, limbo-y place. It’s the joy of being a contractor. No matter how much you try to mentally reconcile that the job [probably] isn’t going to last forever, when you find out it’s ending, it’s like UGH.
We both really loved our jobs, our teams, our workplaces – I talked to a lot of people about this. How there’s not only the panic and “Oh CRAP”-scramble element to losing a job, from a logistics and practicality (and $$) standpoint, but also a kind of grieving that takes place when you felt so invested in something that gets taken away. Both of us would have stayed on for years if given the chance.
Well, anyway. That is that and here we are.
Here’s what a typical day for us looks like [outside of something magical like an interview taking place]:
- Get up, make a pot of coffee
- Hole up in the basement with our laptops, DT on the chair/ottoman, me on the couch
- Look/apply for jobs all morning
- Go for a run
- Shower/likely put pajamas back on
- Or put real clothes on (“real clothes” lately means a fleece and yoga pants) and run errands
- Revisit job sites in the afternoon
- Catch up on the DVR (it’s still been crummy outside so we haven’t enjoyed the weather much)
- Oh look, it’s 5:00. Where oh where has the day gone….
It’s such a strange place to be….DT and I have never, ever been home together this much, for this long. Sooooooooo much time together. It’s become kind of a joke (and a song, if we’re being honest), but sometimes I’m shocked we haven’t strangled each other yet.
The cats (and chickens), however, are LOVING that we are around 24/7. Exhibit 1A at this very moment: 35 pounds of wheezing, comatose felines, curled up at my feet on the couch. We no longer have to wonder what their days are like. They’re filled with a whole lotta NOTHING.
Friends have asked if we’re getting a bunch of long-awaited projects done, house-related or otherwise. Welllllll, no. Not really. That’s the funny thing. We have all the time in the world, but the job hunt is all we can think about, all we can currently plan for – it’s like time just stands still, and we can’t move until we have this figured out.
In other words, the blue tape all over the house where we need to touch up paint (for the past three years) has yet to be addressed.
I have this fancy new camera to learn how to use but I haven’t picked it up once. I will, but I need to be inspired and I’m just not right now.
I have several blog posts on my mind, but honestly haven’t felt any motivation to do much here with this other big thing to resolve.
We don’t really want to go anywhere, or do anything, because either would most likely require spending money and without any coming in, well….we’re trying to be prudent these days. With the exception of a few lottery tickets, but you know. I don’t think I need to explain the rationale there.
However. I finally got that way-overdue oil change AND our coffee maker received a thorough cleaning with several cycles of vinegar. See? We can dig deep!
We’ve also made great strides on the hot sauce front. If there’s something to be thankful for with this imposed hiatus, it’s given us solid time to navigate the impossibly tangled web of certifications, licenses, applications, and approvals required to start up a business like this. Gah! We’re inching closer and closer, though, and it’s been such a wonderful distraction. Our little silver lining right now.
I kept bugging DT to make a list of “Things We’ll Do to Celebrate New Jobs” with me. When we went to write down a few things, we just sort of sat there and scratched our heads. Yes, we could rattle off some restaurants where we’d like to make a toast, or our default something-to-look-forward-to of planning a trip, but really all we hope for is a reason to celebrate. A return to our version of normal in the foreseeable future.
It’s just such a roller coaster! One minute everything feels promising and light, the next feels like a heavy dead end.
DT has had some great prospects pop up and we’re waiting to hear back (crossing fingers and ears and eyes and toes). I have resumes out all over the place, also waiting to hear back. So we’ll see.
It’ll all be okay! We are okay. Totally not trying to be mopey or whiny here. DT and I are so lucky to have an immense network and support from our family and friends. This is just a temporary glitch and we’ll be back on our feet soon.
Now, after all this babble….I hope this finds you well and gainfully employed. :-)
The show opened to the general public (i.e. us) at 4:00 on Friday. We had tickets for both Friday and Saturday, so used the first night to do a preliminary lap and scope everything out.
Pucker Butt of South Carolina – Ed grows ridiculously hot peppers.
Palo Alto Firefighters Pepper Sauce – all proceeds go to Palo Alto Firefighters charitable fund.
Humboldt Hotsauce – we live on Humboldt Avenue, so….cool!
Los Pollos Hermanos! Lots of Breaking Bad references noted in Albuquerque and at the show, as you might imagine. I dig it.
We did two rounds on Saturday.
Intergalactic Bread Company and Space Sauce of Santa Fe – right out of the gate.
Sweet and Saucy from Colorado – oh geez. Please give me an entire jar, or ten.
Brilliant idea – a local radio station had a booth outside the convention hall, giving away ice cream sandwiches and popsicles. A very needed cool down after all the HEAT! (I also just appreciated the treats. ;-) )
Saturday found the show much more populated.
My Daddy’s BBQ of New Mexico – this was good stuff.
Golden Toad – their sauces had DT sweating.
Yampa Valley Sauce Company – sauce blends of avocado/habanero and strawberry/habanero….both very interesting and beautiful color.
SaSo – chatted with some nice guys and enjoyed their sauce.
Horsetooth Hot Sauce – DT found a local/MN connection with them. It’s small world after all.
The anxious anticipation of unwrapping a popsicle follows….
Simmie J’s – these guys had a bullhorn and were hilarious.
We had such a blast!
It was a little overwhelming at first – there was just so much. I’m glad we had both Friday and Saturday to take it all in (although for future shows I think we figured out we can get by with just one day).
Everyone we talked to was so nice and no two sauces were remotely alike – it was great to be able to try everything. There is a lot of passion and spirit behind all of these businesses and their products, it was exciting and inspiring. Maybe someday Hellraising Hot Sauce will have a booth at the Fiery Foods Show….? Perhaps! In the meantime, this was the place to see some of the best of the best, while having quite a lot of fun (and setting our mouths on fire). :-)
This is definitely on our calendar for next year – we already can’t wait!
I must admit, I needed a bit of a spelling lesson for Albuquerque….Al-bu-quer-que! There, that’s not so tough.
DT and I made a quick trip to New Mexico last weekend, my first time in this fine state! Our mission was clear: attending the 2014 Fiery Foods Show at Sandia Resort and Casino. We stayed on site – the hotel is really quite impressive, as you will see.
So….remember Hellraising Hot Sauce? Yes, well, we’re still working on that little project (hopefully more to come soon!). The Fiery Foods Show was an opportunity to do a little fact-finding, see what others in the industry (“the industry” – fun to say that!) are doing, and glean some inspiration.
Here, our accommodations:
We had a beautiful view from our room and saw some really amazing skies over the course of three days, starting with this. The Sandia Mountains are right there.
After settling in a bit and shaking off the flight, we set off to explore. Sandia’s lobby is massive and leads right into the casino.
Sandia’s grounds also include a golf course – a sandy one at that. The terrain here is so different from what we see in Minnesota – mountains, desert, dusty, tumbleweeds….we left behind three-foot snow drifts!
We took a cab downtown and strolled down Central Avenue.
It was quieter than we would have imagined.
We ducked into Maloney’s for some beers and a snack.
After Maloney’s, it was about a mile and a half walk to Old Town.
Old Town is filled with quaint little nooks like this….if my feet hadn’t been aching with blisters from new shoes (rookie mistake), we would have meandered for hours.
We stumbled into QBar in the Hotel Albuquerque, smack-dab in the midst of their happy hour, how fortuitous. Following our vodka/tonics (DT) and Sauvignon Blancs (me), I waited in their glowy lobby (see issue with feet/shoes above) while David made a dash to St. Clair Winery, upon recommendation from the super helpful gal at the front desk.
Vino for the room!
Had a little trouble with this cork…. :-\
Friday morning’s view:
We continued to roam around Sandia on Friday before the show started at 4:00. Their pool was closed for the season (bummer), but the hot tub was open. We played Yahtzee on the patio. :-) [Another slight unexpected for us, although we had checked ahead....the weather was actually quite cool while we were there, around 40-50 degrees. Which was about a 30-40 degree improvement from where we came, so nearly anything was better. And windy - so windy there in the foothills.]
Saturday was overcast and rainy – clouds covered the tips of the Sandias.
DT and I loved our visit to Albuquerque, as quick as it was. Our biggest lesson: we should have rented a car. And stayed just a bit longer. And 6 am flights on the way home immediately cut the trip short. So, I guess three lessons.
Since the resort was a bit removed, we had to rely on cabs to/from downtown and Old Town on Thursday. At ~$35 each way – well, it wasn’t feasible to do much more than that first day’s jaunt, so we felt a little stranded once we returned back to Sandia. Of course Fiery Foods consumed a lot of our time thereafter, but with a rental car we would have had the option to come and go as we please without such a hit to the travel budget. (Note: Sandia Resort has a free shuttle to/from the Albuquerque airport – very slick.)
Also – Breaking Bad fans? I would’ve loved to take a spin though the neighborhoods of Walter and Skyler, Hank and Marie, and Jesse Pinkman. The ABQ location addresses can easily be found – we could have done our own little tour.
Also – Santa Fe is only about 60 miles away, an easy day trip or little bonus add-on before or after Albuquerque. I hear it’s lovely there.
But that’s okay! This was a great scouting mission and we’re already plotting our 2015 return. Our lessons learned will be put to good use. So until then….
More words of wisdom from The Happiness Project Journal on this Tuesday….
“When one loves, one does not calculate.” – St. Therese of Lisieux
“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”
“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” – Simone Weil
“There is an “I” in ‘happiness’.”
“Happiness does not reside in strength or money; it lies in rightness and many-sidedness.” – Democritus
“Don’t always worry about being efficient. Exploration, experimentation, and digression don’t necessarily look productive.”
Is it obvious from this post that I have travel on the brain?! Always. Always.
As I was editing photos and writing about South Beach and our cruise over the past couple of weeks, I relived all the fun, anticipation, and excitement we had. I loved it, yet felt pangs and yearning in my heart to be transported back immediately. But as I got to the ports on the latter half of our trip, I also felt the sadness and anxiousness I know I was feeling as the end drew near.
Can you grieve a vacation? Are there stages one must pass through to finally reach acceptance? And does one ever really accept that they are not still on vacation? I began to deconstruct and dissect my mental journey before/during/after our vacations (because this is important stuff, guys ;-) ). DT and I have talked about this before, but I really started to think in terms of a timeline.
Here’s how my mind works:
Six months out: Not really even thinking about vacation much, probably because the weather is still decent where we live and we haven’t been sitting in a polar vortex for two months (in the instance of a winter getaway).
Three months out: Inching closer, starting to become more real.
One month out: The countdown is officially ON! Any plans made for dates after we get back seem like an honest eternity away, and frankly, a little incomprehensible. Life becomes segmented into “Before Vacation” and “After Vacation.” And I don’t want to think about “After Vacation”! So it’s kinda like it’s a black hole that’s not even there….
Three weeks out: Early stages of packing-thoughts begin. Start to think about leaving the house for a week, who will take care of the critters, what do we need to do before we go? A checklist is born.
Two weeks out: !!!! Two weeks away! Preparation to be away from work begins, more serious packing consideration unfolds, I’m basically beside myself.
One week out: !!!! Holy buckets, one week from now we’ll be THERE! Crossing things off my checklist, the guest bed has started to become littered with piles, tackling chores around the house so it’s not left in shambles. But the darker side – I’m already mentally preparing myself for it to be over. Isn’t that sad and stupid? I’m already thinking about how excited we’ll be in one week, but in two weeks….it’ll be almost over! Gosh, I’m sick.
The week before we leave: !!!! Out-of-office preemptively set at work, last minute errands, clean up food in the fridge, critter/house care has been arranged and confirmed, piles on the guest bed have grown, suitcases are dragged out (and the cats have done multiple, thorough inspections on these foreign objects). I’ll be honest, I get a little stressed out before we leave.
The night before we leave: DT and I have a tradition of happy hour after we leave work on the eve of a vacation. A kickoff, if you will. By now he’s printed out all our documents and confirmations, we’ll go home and fill our suitcases, set the timer on the living room lamp, one last-ditch effort to eat leftovers or any other perishables in the fridge. No fewer than two alarm clocks set, cab called if needed. We probably won’t go to bed early, who can sleep at a time like this?!
Vacation day is here! It’s likely been a wake-up-get-dressed frenzy, tend to the animals once more, load the car/cab, a final house walk-through. I will fret all the way to the airport whether a light was left on, the door was locked, a faucet was left dripping, I forgot to do or pack something. I’m so excited….and yet I’m a basketcase. DT can only shake his head. The plane ride(s) is/are usually a blur – usually because we’re on such an early flight. But then, we arrive! To me, in those moments of the first day, it honestly feels like how could this ever end? Oh no, it will NEVER end!
The first few days: It takes me/us a while to become fully immersed in our time away right off the bat. It’s hard to get into that “We’re on vacation and we literally have zero accountability and can do pretty much whatever the heck we want for the next __ days” mindset. And when I say “hard” I don’t mean as in hardship, or “poor me/us.” I mean it really is a mental shift to pull away from real life obligations, schedules, routines, and responsibilities. We’ll look at the time (even though we have nowhere at all to be) and say, “Omigosh! It’s only __ o’clock!” Time kind of stands still when we slow down to the groove of vacation.
The midway point: Then time begins to not stand still. We’re having fun, and time flies when you’re having fun, man. When the days we’ve been gone begin to outnumber the days left….sad. It’s definitely a mental turning point in the vacation. That I do not like. But we press on, we must make the most of our time!
The last couple of days: Bummer. Big, big bummer. Vacation depression has set in and the trip we thought would never, could never end….is ending very soon. In our desperation to keep the spirit alive, we turn to plans for the next vacation. It’s the best defense!
The last day: DT and I always try to go out with a bang and we’re usually successful. It’s part denial, part savoring, part saving the best for last. Or something like that.
The trip home: Sigh. We must plan another vacation pronto. On a positive note, it is always nice to be home. Nice to be back in a routine, back in our own bed, back with the critters, back to normal eating and drinking schedules (i.e. not total and complete gluttony).
The first week back: I do the thing where I think “A week ago we were….” At first it’s a painful exercise until I get to the end of the week and realize the trip was coming to a close and I’m probably mentally a way lot better now. Oh, and we’re plotting the next getaway seriously.
That’s pretty much my journey, thank you for coming along with the crazy. I must absolutely declare how fortunate DT and I have been for the travels we have experienced. I never want to sound ungrateful or minimize the opportunities we’ve had. Every one has been a-MAY-zing and we’re very lucky to be able to spend a week here and there every now and again.
It’s just that we LOVE IT SO MUCH!
But as much as we love and look forward to these trips, and as much anguish as I may talk myself into having when it’s over, I know in my heart of hearts, there is no place like home and we are every bit as lucky to have that.
Now, if our home was on a tropical island in the middle of the Caribbean….