Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hawk vs Chicken

I meant to blog about this a while ago. I was out in the yard one day when I heard one of the chickens really flapping and squawking and I looked over just in time to see it reared up and flapping and a hawk flying up from the chicken pen. I threw a rock at it (I learned that sticks don't work from past experience) and it flew away. It's just good to know that the chickens can hold their own in battle.

The chickens' first snow

Monday, September 19, 2011

Left Handed Comics

When I was a kid I would sometimes practice being blind just in case I someday lost my sight. I tried riding my bike down a hill with my eyes closed once and it didn't go well (I lucked out and landed on the grass so I was ok).

I'm recovering from what I think is tendinitis in my right index finger, but for a long time I thought it was something more serious like terminal degenerative cartilage damage. So I decided I ought to learn to be ambidextrous just in case I lose the use of my right hand, plus I wanted to give my tendinitis a chance to recover fully. In order to learn to write (and draw) with my left hand I've started drawing a comic strip I creatively entitled "Left-handed Comics". Here's the first installment:

This comic was inspired by the Papa John's delivery guy in our neighborhood who shot one of the people who tried to rob him at pepper-spray-point. Don't mess with the pizza guy.
I added the sub/supertitles since my writing is mostly illegible. Anne suggested a better opening line would be "Give me the money and nobody gets hurt", I tend to agree. I'll get her input first on future comics.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Big Basement Beautification

 After careful consideration, which consisted mostly of me complaining about how dark it was down there, we decided to repaint the basement.
this was our theme--MUCH sunnier!
and to match the theme poster, the new color!

summer day by Sherwin Williams

the old basement. it had an americana theme. i like america, but not americana. if it seems weird that we're doing cuba to replace americana, just remember it could be worse--we could be doing talibana!

the second half of this big project will be some reorganization (much overdue)

here's our practice section on the wall!
There are many steps to painting--it is a nightmare!
1. sample check at the store
2. prime and paint sample on the wall
3. love the result!
4. buy all the supplies
5. wash the walls:
     5a. warm water and a little dishsoap
     5b. warm water (realize the dishsoap isn't coming off!!!! AAAAAAAHHH!!!)
     5c. sand off all the little chunkies painted into the old paint by the former homeowners who failed to adequately prep. before painting.
     5d. warm water (again)
6. tape the moulding
7. lay down plastic
8. mix the primer
9. paint the walls with primer.
10. rinse. wait. repeat.
We're on coat 1.5 of 4 planned coats. I started the first one a couple days ago and got halfway done before it got too obnoxious for me to continue. 

so maybe I was frustrated...
one and a half coats!
Brandon says it's bedtime so we're not going to finish the other half today. Maybe soon it will be perfect down there!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What a Melon!: a photo essay

I am not really a huge fan of choosing watermelons. It is very scary!! Even today's watermelon was a little freaked out by the prospect.

 I drew that face on with permanent marker but I was thinking I might cut it up with the rind on and I didn't want someone to deal with having a scared-looking eye on their food so I put it on tape!

I'm not sure if it turned out or not. Some parts seem really good, while some resemble a rotting sponge.

I had one piece that tasted super disgusting and one that tasted okay (yeah, I went back for more after the disgusting part!

Also, chickens love watermelons!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Funny Parts of My Day a clarification and maybe explanation for the previous post: I'm feeling a lot better and am indeed seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Joy and hope are back in my life. I hope that when people read the post below (if they do at all), they'll understand a little more about what it's like to have depression and anxiety, and that there are a lot of people suffering from illnesses that the eye can't see. I also think it's important to talk about anxiety and depression, especially with a message of hope because otherwise we're stuck with a lot of anonymous posts on yahoo answers that suggest alcoholism as a healthy coping mechanism. (for the record, yahoo answers is helpful exactly 0% of the time--if you want to see what I mean, just search for what to do about bedbugs. examples: "gross! whatever it takes!" and "unfortunately, you'll have to burn your stuff and sell your house and change your name and put your kids up for adoption"). Anyway, the point is, even if you have moments where anxiety and depression seem like your ENTIRE life, you need to know that there is hope and many people successfully handle the cards they've been dealt and still have the enthusiasm and pervasive awesomeness to select a SWEET, sunny yellow paint for their dark blue cave-pit of a basement (more on that later).
And now, to the point:
1. for the past two nights, we come home and see this black cat in the backyard. I've seen a black cat in the day too, so I'm always like, "Brandon! look--it's that little cat!" (yes, I am that excited and no, I don't know why). But it is NOT a cat. It is an evil, evil skunk rooting around our grass and killing it and making us really scared. With aim so amazing it cannot be overstated, Brandon threw an old, empty McDonald's cup at the black skunk in the black night and hit it! (sorry PETA!)
2. There is a huge spider web outside our house that stretches from the ground to the awning of the side door. I'd take a picture but it's basically invisible unless about 4 independent shadows converge on it at exactly the right moment and a ray of light shines down from heaven directly onto it.
3. I was on the phone with my mom, thinking about the spider web and the horrible huge brown recluse spider (I think) in the garage when suddenly something big and furry brushed against my hand. I screamed my I'M-BEING-ATTACKED-BY-A-SERIAL-KILLER scream that just pops out with spiders, house centipedes, and when I accidentally scare a baby chicken to death (this is a bad day for PETA). There were no spiders. Only a very frightened Greta who definitely learned her lesson about spontaneous signs of affection for her mommy.
4. Today I stood by the back door and hucked two empty cantelope halves all the way to the chicken's house. It turns out they LOVE cantelope. It turns out that I do too because I ate an entire one today (except for the empty shells, of course).
5. Even more than chickens love cantelope, squirrels love nectarines! I know because there was creepily a half-eaten one on our lawn yesterday when we came home from church and while Brandon and I were arguing over which one of us had to take care of it, a swarm of squirrels descended on it (like bad guys in a movie swarming over a good guy) and when they dissipated, there was no more nectarine (not even the pit!). So now I love squirrels! (I had to end on a positive note for PETA).

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Light

For the past month or so I've been living with emotional pain so intense that I haven't known if I could survive. I have anxiety and depression and lately the crushing anguish I've felt has been more than I can bear. Since middle school, I've been taking medication that helped light the abyss, allowing me to live a normal and happy life. In early spring, working toward having a baby, I decided to wean off of this drug because my anxiety was very typically well in hand. Things went well--no baby, but I felt free in a way that I never had before. I had battled anxiety and depression and walked away victorious.
Then came the bar. Studying for the exam was an extremely stressful time but the crushing black clouds of anxiety and depression that I feared failed to materialize. But two weeks before I was to take the bar--by this time I was studying 10-12 hours a day and the pressure was on--I got a urinary tract infection. The stress, frustration and anger I felt at this can hardly be described. I was in pain, with constant need to use the bathroom, and even though medicine quickly cleared up the physical symptoms, I was left with a consuming fear that it would happen again and totally destroy my chances of passing the bar.
Since then the clouds have been building and my life has become short spurts of pleasantness surrounded by emptiness and gnawing fear. It helps to stay busy but as I'm alone and unemployed in this house all day that's a challenge. Even when I can stay busy the merest moment of quiet, calm or contemplation sends a bolt of panic into the pit of my stomach. I didn't want to go back on medication. I wanted my impression this spring and summer to be true. I wanted to dispel the gloom that had once defined my life. As time went by, I realized that things were not sorting themselves out. I needed more help than talking, crying, staying busy, or even counseling could offer. I needed medication. So two days ago, I found myself back in the psychiatrist's office, where three months earlier I had happily chirped that Operation Overcome Anxiety had been successful.
As I spoke with my doctor, I realized my attitude had changed. Anxiety and depression are not hurdles to overcome. They may be shadows that flicker through my life, but they are part of the landscape. I had thought the brave thing was to push through the pain, but I was losing more and more of my life as I tried. My anxiety comes from a place that eschews reason and rationality and stems from a chemical imbalance that I can't control by myself. For the person born with diabetes, it is not a personal failure to have to take insulin to survive. I've had to learn that it is not my fault that I cannot cope with anxiety and depression on my own.
The decision to go back on medication is not without its costs. Recent articles have demonstrated a possible link in the use of SSRIs like the one I'm taking in pregnancy, and autism. The pill that provides me more immediate relief is not recommended for pregnancy. I felt like I was so close to starting a family, and I can't stop sobbing over the delay this may entail for those plans.
I feel assailed with questions I can't answer, with anger I can barely control. I want to scream that it's not fair. It's not fair to have come so far and endured so many difficult things just to have the rug yanked out from under me the first moment I have a chance to think about who I am and what I want my life to be. I'm angry that the second my husband and I finally get to live together after three years of marriage he has to live with first, a raging lunatic freaking out about the bar exam and second, a raging lunatic sobbing all the time about her irrational anxieties and deep, mind-numbing depression.
I find myself at a crossroads--a puzzling tumult of anger and calm and grief and peace and sadness and fear and happiness. I have all the pieces of my life--but my ability to reassemble them depends on my ability to fixate on the light peeking out through the clouds. Telling an anxious person not to worry is like slapping them in the face--it's like feeding an unmedicated diabetic 3 pounds of sugar and telling them to just process it like the rest of us do. But giving an anxious person hope is an even riskier proposition. When your mind tells you the very worst is a very realistic possibility, and that stories have as many sad as happy endings, it's hard to believe that once you're stuck in the pit that you'll ever be able to climb out again. Even when it's not your first time. It is hard to imagine that what you want most in the world--your old life, with moderate highs and lows, with many things to do and many things you want to do--even exists anymore.
At moments, I feel like it's so close. I have a spark of true happiness and then a shot of fear wondering if I'm really climbing out of the darkness or if it's just another false handhold. Other times I sob face-down on the carpet in my front room and vaguely wonder if someone coming over for a visit might look in the window and think I'm dead.
But the light is there. I can feel it's warmth when I sing or laugh with someone I haven't seen in a while, or have to disentangle myself from one of the chickens when I'm trying to clean the coop and it just has to stand at precisely the spot where my arm is right now. These moments give me hope that even if tomorrow isn't much better, it will be a little bit, and that the next day will be a little bit better than that.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mystery of the week

Why did the chicken lay the egg outside the fence? (and how?)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Best Person in the World

In my search for jobs, I keep thinking about past jobs I've had. One memory keeps coming back to me over and over. I can't remember exactly where I was working or any other specifics other than this. A cranky, impatient female supervisor deftly showed me how to use a fairly complicated machine essential to my work. I used all of my brain power to memorize exactly what she was doing and in what order so that I wouldn't have to ask questions because she was exuding this "you're an idiot and this task is super easy and any idiot would be able to understand how to do it intuitively but I have to waste my valuable time showing you how because you're an idiot. also, you're an idiot" vibe and I didn't want to give her any more reason to think I was an idiot. After my training was complete I began doing my work as well and as efficiently as I possibly could. Ultimately, I had to use the machine. I ran through everything she had told me to do over and over. "You can do this. You can do this."
But the machine wasn't on. I knew what I needed to do and I knew that the machine wasn't broken or anything, just not on. I realized, though, that in her comprehensive rundown of my duties, she'd neglected to show me how to turn the thing on. Well, I figured I was a smart girl, I could figure something obvious like that out. Maybe not. 20 minutes later, after agonizing over not wanting to show weakness or stupidity, and not being able to figure it out, I stumble over to my supervisor's desk and mumble out some question about how to turn the thing on. My memory ends at that point but I do have a vague sense that she wasn't pleased. or patient with me.

This memory is more poignant for me right now since I'm a baby lawyer (well, not really a lawyer at all since I haven't passed the bar yet so I'm not licensed) and I really don't know how to do anything, and any job I ultimately get is going to have a steep learning curve. I've overcome my timidity about asking questions though--even if the person thinks I'm stupid because a) if they're training me, they're the ones who are bad at their job if a simple question that makes me a better employee irks them, and b) even if it's a stupid question, the more stupid option is not asking it and having no clue what's going on.

It's still uncomfortable, though, and thus, I'd like to introduce the best person in the world. His name is Ryan Parker and I've never met him. When we first moved into our house, I knew literally nothing about home repair and I felt like I was back at the office but I didn't want to ask a real, live person some of my basic questions because I really don't like being treated like a moron. One of our earliest pressing issues moving in was a leak. We knew where it was and what to do about it. We needed to fill it in with caulk. So we got the suitable caulk. We borrowed a caulk gun. We were home-repair super heroes. Except for the small matter that we had no idea how to use a caulk gun. (and in every case where I talked about "we" above, I meant just me because I was pretending to be the home repair expert in the family and I had known enough to get us this far and Brando was at work.)

Maybe I'm stupid, but a caulk gun is not that intuitive to use. You try to pull back the weird thingy that HAS to pull back for you to slip the caulk in and you can't. You cut off the top of the caulk canister and the caulk still won't come out. There's a little trigger thing on the gun that seems like it should pull out but it only pushes in and it still doesn't make sense how to do the thing. And caulking seems like it should be so easy!

In tears, I googled it. There were a lot of things about air pressure caulk guns and how to smooth out caulk. Was I an idiot for not intuitively knowing how to do this?! Finally, I found Ryan Parker and he saved me:

I would marry him if I weren't already married to the better best person in the world.

There's no judgment. His introduction is not, "Hi, I'm Ryan Parker here with remedial moron home repairs -101 and this is how you should use a caulk gun even though you're probably so stupid that even this kind of gun is a fatal weapon in your incompetent hands." He just tells you how to use it and moves on.
Ryan Parker saved my life that fateful day last year. And by "saved my life" I mean made me seem like a super-genious, if only to myself. And every mistake I've made on my small-scale but still overly ambitious home repair projects, I still think of Ryan, not berating me for my shortcomings, but patiently and benevolently waiting for me to come back when I'm ready to learn how a hammer works.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Bar Exam

I thought I'd post a couple thoughts here on the bar exam. It's getting close (9 days) and I want to talk about what it's been like for me this summer, and how awful it is.

Studying: I spend most of every day studying. At the beginning it was 6-8 hours, and now sometimes it's twelve or so. It's really easy to get burned out and I have to accept that I can't work non-stop or I will probably implode. 

The Bar Exam is a fifteen-hour test that breaks down like this:

1. Tuesday July 26th:
       9:00am-12:00pm: The Ohio State Bar Exam (essays)
       1:00pm-4:00pm: The Multistate Performance Test

2. Wednesday July 27th:
       9:00am-12:00pm: First Half, Multistate Bar Exam
       1:00pm-4:00pm: Second Half, Multistate Bar Exam

3. Thursday, July 28th:
       9:00am-12:00pm: The Ohio State Bar Exam

As you can see, the Bar Exam in Ohio has three parts:
1. The Ohio State Bar Exam: these are a series of twelve (6 Tuesday, 6 Thursday) essays, all on a specific subject. They are almost like short-answer questions on a test and are usually broken down into multiple parts ("what are Patty's rights? What are Dorothy's rights?"). You have 30 minutes and 3900 characters (including spaces) to answer each.*
Subjects include: Business Associations, Civil Procedure, Commercial Paper, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Legal Ethics, Property, Torts (personal injury), Wills. There are eleven topics, so one topic gets two essays.

2. Multistate Bar Exam: This test, like the name states, is administered pretty uniformly across the states, and tests general common law that applies to most states. There are 200 multiple choice questions, administered in two 3-hour sessions. Each question is very specific and applies to: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Real Property, and Torts. These ones are hard because you need to know very specific common law issues--some of which are different than Ohio law, and some of which are directly opposite of Ohio law. One of the trickiest things for me to remember is that in Ohio, common law assault (threatening to hit someone) and battery (actually hitting someone) are both called assault in criminal law. In tort law, they are still assault and battery.

3. The Multistate Performance Test: This test is gaining more widespread acceptance across states and you don't really have to know anything to take it. (But somehow, it's still really hard). It's a 90 minute essay test that's based on a pretend assignment given by your pretend boss. You have 90 minutes to read through a bunch of legal documents and other case papers that are included in your packet, figure out the law, and make a pretend legal document for your boss. There's no space limit but the time limit is BRUTAL. There are two of these back to back on Tuesday. They're hard because sometimes they're memos to an attorney, but sometimes they might be discovery requests or other things that you might not have seen in practice before.

* The following is 3900 characters:

Not all that Mrs. Bennet, however, with the assistance of her five daughters, could ask on the subject, was sufficient to draw from her husband any satisfactory description of Mr. Bingley. They attacked him in various ways–with barefaced questions, ingenious suppositions, and distant surmises; but he eluded the skill of them all, and they were at last obliged to accept the second-hand intelligence of their neighbour, Lady Lucas. Her report was highly favourable. Sir William had been delighted with him. He was quite young, wonderfully handsome, extremely agreeable, and, to crown the whole, he meant to be at the next assembly with a large party. Nothing could be more delightful! To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love; and very lively hopes of Mr. Bingley’s heart were entertained.
“If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled at Netherfield,” said Mrs. Bennet to her husband, “and all the others equally well married, I shall have nothing to wish for.”
In a few days Mr. Bingley returned Mr. Bennet’s visit, and sat about ten minutes with him in his library. He had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose beauty he had heard much; but he saw only the father. The ladies were somewhat more fortunate, for they had the advantage of ascertaining from an upper window that he wore a blue coat, and rode a black horse.
An invitation to dinner was soon afterwards dispatched; and already had Mrs. Bennet planned the courses that were to do credit to her housekeeping, when an answer arrived which deferred it all. Mr. Bingley was obliged to be in town the following day, and, consequently, unable to accept the honour of their invitation, etc. Mrs. Bennet was quite disconcerted. She could not imagine what business he could have in town so soon after his arrival in Hertfordshire; and she began to fear that he might be always flying about from one place to another, and never settled at Netherfield as he ought to be. Lady Lucas quieted her fears a little by starting the idea of his being gone to London only to get a large party for the ball; and a report soon followed that Mr. Bingley was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly. The girls grieved over such a number of ladies, but were comforted the day before the ball by hearing, that instead of twelve he brought only six with him from London–his five sisters and a cousin. And when the party entered the assembly room it consisted of only five altogether–Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young man.
Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners. His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion. His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst, merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.
Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room; he was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield. Such amiable qualities must speak for themselves. What a contrast between him and his f

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Not Unequally Yolked

I'm making banana bread pudding with our chicken's eggs. The first egg laid was shaped like a potato and was twice the size of the second one, so we thought it might be a double yolker, and it was!

The first egg!
Also, the recipe called for 3 eggs, but the first ones are so small that I put in 5 (for a total of 6 yolks).
The finished bread pudding

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Adventures in Bottling and Distribution

So, we're not actually doing any bottling or distribution, but this week I called a local coca-cola bottler and a bottled beverage distributor for unrelated reasons.
I decided that since the chickens would be producing vast quantities of manure, we should use it on our garden and other plants.
But it turns out you've got to compost it first or it'll burn the roots. I decided to look into getting a bigger composter than the bin we currently have. I found out how to make a compost tumbler using a big barrel and a frame to hold it. Like this one:
So then I looked into getting a big barrel. I found some on craigslist for a decent price, but then I read in a forum that coca-cola bottlers will usually give away (or sell for cheap) the 55 gallon barrels that the syrup comes in. I called up our local bottler and they said they sell them for $15, but the guy who handles it wasn't there. So I'll have to call them back.
Composting, wow, that's less exciting than I thought it would be. Maybe it would be better as a song:
  We got a lot of chicken poop
  It's pilin' really high
  We hear it's good for vegetables
  But raw poop makes them die
  And so we search oh high and low
  To see what we should do
  We gotta figure what to do
  With all our chicken poooooooooo...
  That's what we've got to doooooooooooo...

We've been searching for a place to buy a case of boylan's root beer.  We had it once at the farmers market (from a soda farmer), and it was amazingly good, but it's not in any stores. This week we asked the soda farmer (or maybe they were an Asian fusion restaurant truck) where they get it from, and they said "Buckeye distributing". So I wrote them an email asking if we could buy a case from them. Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion...