Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Space to explore

Over the birthday weekend, a friend generously allowed us to stay in his family's cabin, as I've mentioned.  The semi-getaway was great for Mark, key for me, but really, such a gift for Dylan.

There's just nothing like going to the end of the world and playing on a beach that feels like it's all your own.  With sand dollars and clams and barnacles and tides that never stop shifting and changing, no batteries are required.  Along with a giant comfy sofa and a rocking gas fireplace, the log cabin included a sturdy rowboat and a small dock.  The kids played below while we adults relaxed on the dock and discussed the purely mythical pros and cons of owning the various sailboats that passed through our view.

Dylan and his buddy manhandled the boat off its perch and all the way down to the water, for Dylan to use later with whatever grown-up he could corral.  Then they spent about 3 hours investigating all the natural treasures the inter-tidal has to offer.  Movies on the DVD became voluntarily restricted to the hours after sunset.  Even our good friends' 3-year old squealed with delight and was eager to be outdoors.

Connecting to the world beyond concrete and electronics - sometimes I think it's one of the greatest gifts we have to offer.

I don't think we have to worry

Here on our island, "Keep Vashon Weird" bumper stickers grace beat up Pintos and late model Land Rovers alike.  What this phrase means in truth is highly individual. 

But, as long as retrievers are pulling up to Thriftway in their Jeeps, I suspect our bumper sticker proclamations are a little redundant.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Half-Century Mark

Today marks the end of a whirlwind 4 days, well, week really, including prep.  Mark turns 50 today - yesterday really since he was born on the other side of the international date line.  The big party to celebrate this occasion was Friday night.  And, even though circumstances kept some of our closest friends from attending, we still managed to ring in the next 50 years in style.

Then a weekend on the water at a fun and funky beach cabin owned by the family of a friend, here on our island.  Going away w/out going anywhere was the goal and I think we achieved that.  One of us could run home and take care of the animals and pets, without the hassle and stress of trying to find, arrange, instruct, and pay someone to do it for us.  The weather even cooperated for the most part, so that was an unexpected bonus.

March through June marks many milestones for our family - Dylan's birthday, then Mark's, then our anniversary, and finally my birthday.  And summer on our island is nothing short of packed with conflicting events, festivals, parties, and other goings-on.  But, taking time to mark a half-century on the planet was important, I think, even though the best laid plans mostly went awry.  

Now it's time to take stock of what the next 50 might look like and continue building on the foundation of these first five decades.  One thing for sure - it's going to include an expanded role for music and performing.  If you're interested in getting a taste of what that sounds like, visit and listen for yourself at his MySpace page:

Enjoy.  I do!  Happy birthday, Mark!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Her Majesty Adorned with Blossoms

Not far from the farm, this vista of Mt. Rainier takes on extra sparkle when the cherry trees bloom.

Time for a Nap

In the middle of launching a business and throwing what was going to be a spectacular no-holds-barred 50th birthday party for my beloved but will now probably amount to a casual soiree that ends with a bonfire, my best friend developed pneumonia and I temporarily acquired a 3-year-old.  A lung filled with fluid and a husband with a high-demand work life seemed like a good reason to take me up on my offer to play Auntie for a couple days.

So, in the midst of baking bread, collecting eggs, putting out and taking in sandwich board signs, all the while trying to grow the mental bandwidth to do something, anything!, clever for this milestone coming up - not to mention checking on mamas and babies in the field, moving fencing around and let's not forget the start of Little League season - I find myself once again watching the clock for the noon hour, digging through the pantry for cereal bars, and trying to be home by 8PM.  How quickly we forget the 3-year-old clock.

And though it's been challenging, incorporating my charge into this particular time in our lives, this young man brings an extra serving of joy into my life.  He's an exceptionally bright and serious young man, but his laugh is quick and very contagious.  His curiosity keeps us all on our toes, and he brings out the very best in my own son.

Last, but far from least, as we shelve whatever important task we're elbow-deep in come the noonish hour, nibble a healthy snack, and then sink down under the comforter for a pre-nap story, I take a breath and remind myself not to rush through the pages.  We giggle together at the funny fishes and the scribbles I made when I held this self-same book and stolen crayons nearly 40 years ago.  At last, the lyrical poetry of Dr. Suess hangs in the air when I've read the final word, and we take a moment to look at each other before I heave myself up and bring the door "just there Auntie Deirdre."

Why do we ever stop taking naps?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Getting a handle on this retail thing

It might sound strange, but in many ways, small-scale farming is a lot like "retail politics."  It requires not only the ability to produce goods, but to package them, market them, and provide them when and where your consumers desire.  It means creating a "personality" for your farm and behaving in ways that are consistent with that personality, standing behind what it means to be that thing.  It means forming relationships and honoring them with word and deed.

I've dabbled in a few arenas across my 40-something years, but never once got my toe stuck in retail.  Even in high school and college, I opted for waiting tables rather than standing behind a counter (even then, it was food, not fashion!).

So, as quaint and local and small-scale as it is, the farm stand is a big leap for me - one that I know will take a few bumps and bruises before I really get my legs.  That said, I have to say I am elated at the end of our first week "in business."  The unpredictability has been, well, unpredictable, but it's all part of the learning curve.

Our first two days as a stand were practically a monsoon, so I didn't even really count them as business days.  Starting on Tuesday, we sold an item here and there - more than the eggs people had come to rely on.  By Sunday, a week in and the finest weather we've seen this year, I met the day with the satisfaction and confidence that we would simply sell out of everything.  It was a weekend, a great day for cycling, walking, exploring the island.  People would be feeling adventurous and generous.  I jumped out of bed and hustled our products down to the stand, then raced back up to the house to gaze lovingly at the little tableau.

We didn't sell a thing.

Yesterday, feeling a little deflated, I decided to skip a day of baking bread and just kept to the basic eggs.  After all, it was Monday, most people would be back at work, tired and maybe grumpy from having to go in to their offices and stores on the new finest weather day we'd had this year (72 degrees!).

Cars pulled up to the stand all day long, one even inching up the long driveway to the house to ask for - of course - bread.

No, I don't understand it yet, and I may never.  But I can say honestly that I am having the most fun I've had in a long, long time.  Feeding friends and neighbors feeds my soul.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Sneezing Season

On the other hand, in the 15 minutes it took for me to write the previous post, my mac’s screen actually turned yellow with pollen.  Allergies, start your engines!

The Perfect Sunday

Birds are singing springtime serenades to their amours and the world smells clean and new.  The resident owl hoots softly.  Boyish giggling, wafting from the house, interrupts nature’s symphony.  Somewhere, machinery tackles a neighbor’s project.  A gentle breeze tickles toes.

I lie on my tummy, reading a book about another idyllic place, a different special life, slowly sipping the spicy syrah we crushed and barreled over 3 years ago as my eyes scan the page describing life in a village in Normandy. Mark breathes deeply beside me, finally having succumbed to the temptation of a lazy Sunday afternoon.  His hammer and drill are quiet, abandoned under the honest-to-goodness-almost-finished treehouse.

The power of a laptop inspires me to bring mine out after depositing my son and his friend at the start of their playdate.  My gaze catches the empty clothesline, triggering my guilt at the wet clothes inside and the wasted solar energy…but I shrug it off.  Enough with the efficiency and the To Do list.

This part of this day is for just this.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Breaking News: SSF to be on Chicken Coop Tour

Come one, come all to the great Chicken Coop Tour, Mother's Day Weekend! 

An island community builder, whose fingers are in many a worthwhile pie, is organizing a fundraiser to benefit our often invisible homeless population.  It's worth doing, because these folks really do fly under the radar on this rural, otherwise close-knit rock.  

Frustrated by the local pet adoption organization's routine ability to gather the big bucks, while our 2-legged friends go ignored, she's come up with a novel fundraiser of her own.  A self-guided, 2-day tour of the island's chickens and their roosts.  I imagine the digs will span the spectrum from palace to milk crates and what could be more fun?  

The Chicken Coop Tour builds on the success of other self-guided journeys - the venerable Garden Tour each June (guaranteed to both inspire and demoralize), the Lavender Tour each July (complete with lavender lemonade and cooking demonstrations), and the Sustainable Farm Tour sponsored by King County each October.  

Of course, SSF will need to pull the farm equivalent of an all-nighter to get spruced up enough for such scrutiny - but we'll get it handled.  And what better way to show off our proud Gentleman Rooster and his Lovely Girls?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Train horns and frog song

Spring is such a sensory experience.  It's easy to miss it in the din of everyday life, but the sights, sounds, and smells, of Spring are unmistakable and life-affirming.

Here on our small farm, we have the magical fortune to receive both the most beautiful of rural and urban sounds.  Sounds are, I think, way more important to our psyche than we routinely attribute.  Beautiful noises. melodic music, sounds from our childhoods - these have real impact on our everyday lives.  If traffic is our morning soundtrack, it affects our whole day.  If silence permeates our evening meal, that, too, sets the stage.

Tonight, it was late dusk when I came in from bringing unsold farm stand product in and turned around to head back out and close our hens in.  I clomped down the porch and instantly heard the frogs in full singing mode.  The frogs are perhaps the most joyous of our spring sounds here on our little island.  They form a complete chorus and sing for hours.  There's nothing like it.

But, as I crossed the driveway, the lonely and beautiful melody of a train in Tacoma began its song.  We can hear train horns always, and when the winds are right, it sounds like they are in our backyard.  Tonight, our frogs sang and the trains sounded in unison.  Two worlds, colliding in the acoustic universe, though still miles and miles apart.  

I love the trains.  I treasure the frogs.

Spring here is worth waiting for.

Fast & Furious

Corriander joins the new mamas with a baby of her own this AM.  Two more to go and lambing season will be complete.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New baby and Happy Mama

Say hello to Jet, born yesterday evening around 7PM.  What a cutie!   Even lambing out in the pasture, our gal proved to be a natural mama, bonding right away and sticking close to her little one.  Congratulations Blueberry on your first bubbie!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


The sheep in the foreground of this photo are the mama who was sick and her 7 week old ram lamb.  With the help of neighbor eyes, we determined that the ram had been attacking her.  She and her lamb have been mostly separated from the ram for the past 2-3 weeks and now the ram is gone.  Mama and baby are doing great.  Putting weight on and looking healthy.  We are all looking forward to a spring of doting on lambs and coddling their mamas without the tyranny of a half-crazed ram to terrorize ewe and human alike.

Sometimes, it works.

Open for Business

A big day.  First day of the new farm stand and we managed to harvest not only the ram, humanely and with the bonus that the meat is almost certainly fine without grinding into sausage, but the 2 extra roosters as well, sending our dear friend Chris, generous assistant, home with a coq au vin of his own.

This week will be intense, with bread-making almost every day and a soup offering at least one night, plus planting about 100 seed potatoes and who know what else.  Variety is the spice of life and we'll be offering it up to see what catches on.  If you're in the area, stop by and take a look!  Suggestions are most welcome and sincerely desired.

Thanks to all our good friends, on island and off, who support what we're doing and help to make this happen.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hello and Goodbye

I wasn't going to write this until the deed was done, but I'm not sure I'll be able to then.

Early on Easter Sunday (ironic, I realize) we are doing in our foundation ram.  

I thought this would be easier, mostly b/c he's been such a jerk the past year.  He's charged and hurt me and several friends, he's made going into the pasture just sheer hell, and he's all around made an ass of himself.


He was a sweet baby when he came to us and he's fathered many wonderful babies.  We owe him a lot - but I think we're even, given he's lived an amazing life wherein he trotted about wherever he cared to and mated when the spirit moved him 6 months out of the year.  If you're over 40 and know anyone like that, I dare you to tell me.

But, we're doing him in and I'm surprised at how tumultous I feel.  Ugh!  He has been one fine ram, and I'm sorry, really, that his time has come.  I will, indeed, enjoy the sausage, but, I can say honestly, I wish he could have stuck around a while longer.

Thanks Frosty.  3 seasons of offspring.  You done good.  I'm sorry it's your time, but you've stuck around longer than most.  Our promise is to give you an ending that is as good as your being. We appreciate you for all you've been and done.

Thank you.

deirdre, mark, dylan, and the ladies

Taking it to the next level

Well, folks, here it is.  Our very own farm stand.  Designed by me (actually, plagiarized by me), built by my loving partner in crime, and soon to be populated with eggs, oils, breads and other delectables.  Ideas from Nana and Dylan add zest and fun.  They are both excellent at providing whimsey. 

While Mark sank 4X4 posts for our expanded food production garden and hen run, I got product ready for tomorrow's big "grand opening."  Spicy cheddar bread and Herbes de Provence bread, infused oils aged the past 3 months, and our colorful delicious eggs will be the stand's debut offerings on Easter Sunday.  I'll take more photos in the AM when I've got it staged and ready for the morning's first walkers and post them tomorrow evening with a report on the first day. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Big John's PFI

It might seem contradictory that a blog primarily dedicated to celebrating local foods and food production would sing the praises of a food importer, but that's what I'm going to do.

Recently, I was belatedly introduced to a Seattle icon and want to share it with all my Puget Sound readers (most of whom will probably wonder how I could have lived here nearly 20 years and been ignorant of its existence).  An island friend of mine has the good fortune to work there and graciously squired me around the aisles and through the contents of the freezers.

Big John's PFI is a little jewel tucked into the border between Seattle's downtown and its remaining industrial district, in the shadow of the city's 2 sports stadiums.  The old warehouse that houses it is hidden by the higher roads that surround it, so you've really got to know it's there or peer at your map closely.  I know this area fairly well and still had to circle 3 times before pulling up to the front door.

Although I am an evangelist for locally-produced foods, I see a clear distinction between traditional imported foods and everyday foods that are simply imported because its cheaper to grow or make them elsewhere and ship them.  Traditional ethnic foods from around the world are a door to understanding people everywhere and getting a taste, literally, of their culture.  Big John's is a Disneyland for any foodie that is willing to forego marble countertops and uplighting for high quality, low cost bulk and ethnic wares and exceptionally knowledgeable staff.

So, what can find at Big John's?  Well, it varies - that's half the fun.  But, luscious herbs and spices in bulk - cheaper and fresher than you'll encounter at your grocery store - middle eastern and mediterranean ingredients and packaged foods, frozen delicacies from Italy and Greece, and their signature draw:  cheese.  Real cheese.  Fantastic cheese.  Cheese from all over the world that you can't find anywhere else in Seattle. 

But, don't take my word for it.  It's Friday - figure out what's for dinner this weekend and head down to check it out for yourself.  But, don't rush it, because the other half the fun is browsing.  Don't forget to ask for samples!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Magic in the backyard

Dylan gets ideas and it's tough to dissuade him - at least gracefully.  He gets certain loves from his mama - movies, books, and, well, picnics.  He is always up for a picnic and since we live on 5 beautiful acres of meadow and trees, the opportunity for dining al fresco is always right at hand.

It's Spring Break and I'm keeping it low-key by design.  Our dance card has been pretty full lately and I don't see that changing any time between now and middle school, so an unexpected sunny or sort-of week in April to do a whole lot of nothing much, whatever the spirit deems necessary, seems like a good idea.  I've got the long farm to-do list, and I figure I can work through much of that while sharing Dylan's spontaneous whatevers with him as they come up.

So, today his idea was that tonight's dinner should be him cooking dogs and garden burgers over the campfire.  He built us a firepit last fall and it lies just beyond the driveway, between gravel and forest.  It's a good one, too, about 4 feet in diameter, filled with sand and bordered with bricks.  He's brought kindling and split logs over.  It's fire-ready.  (and been tested)

Long story short, Mark got home and we had a sheep emergency, then garden work.  Suddenly it was 7PM.  We tried to talk Dylan out of the promised campfire, but it was obvious the price would be high.  So, what the hell, who cares if we eat at 10PM - we did last night!  (when Mom tried 2 new french peasant recipes simultaneously...Note To Self...)

And then, something magical happened.  Mark and Dylan built the fire Dylan had imagined.  The dogs and burgers cooked, I brought out the salad.  The fire sputtered, lit, sputtered, and eventually became the talisman for a family adventure in our backyard.  

It is so easy to say No.  But, how many people can hold a campfire 30 ft from their house whenever the weather pauses?  How unbelievably fortunate are we to gaze at the stars wrapped in blankets while logs crackle and a deep glow permeates us all...on a given Tuesday evening?  

How lucky?  Very.  There's so many days when I wonder what the work buys us.  Tonight reminds me.  Oh, yea.  The stars, the fire, the Nana.  Jessie keeping close in case anything of importance hits the ground.  Sipping wine and eating charred hot dogs under moonlit sky.  We'd just moved our ewes away from our psychotic ram, so they were only feet away, munching grass and nickering to one another.  Almost silent, they regarded us with familiarity and maybe less indifference than usual.

Dining by campfire on a clear dark night with my family, fire, and sheep.  

Magical.  Thanks, Dylan.

Everyone pitches in 'round SSF

Or, "The Case of the Curious Fowl." 

Lesson learned:  painting projects and free-range chickens = unexpected outdoor decor.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Small Victories

Last year, we lost 3 lambs to some mysterious illness.  One by one we put them down and buried them.  I had pretty much come to the conclusion that when sheep go down, it's unlikely they'll get back up.  Our experience pointed that way anyway.  

So, when our one mama ewe collapsed in the field about a week and a half ago and just couldn't get up no matter how I coaxed or helped, I felt that sense of doom descend.  But, she was eating and drinking and alert.  Just down.  Broken leg?  

My good girlfriend and her husband, not really animal and definitely not livestock people, graciously came over and helped me catch her baby, put him in the SUV in our dog crate, then lift the skinny but still heavy mama onto a tarp in the back.  I waved my thanks and tore off to the vet.

He met me out back and was skeptical at her chances.  Too thin and probably too old - that was the basic diagnosis.  Still, he thought arthritis might have brought her down and figured a little anti-inflammatory action and some B vitamins couldn't hurt.  He shot her up and sent me home with pills to crush and administer daily.  

It was obvious we both felt this was probably so much wasted effort.  But, there's the baby to think of and I didn't relish the idea of another spring spent with ruminants in the mudroom.

That's all a rather long set-up to report that the mama spent 3 days in isolation, eating and eating, without the fierce competition for grain she normally has to contend with, munching down anti-inflammatories disguised in applesauce, and resting.  And on the 4th day...she got up.  And she's been up ever since.

She may go down again.  But for now she's up, her son is feeding.  We had a 2nd ewe surprise us with a baby on Friday, and she and her wee one are doing fine too.  

The April sun is shining with a vengeance, and I'm celebrating small victories.

Friday, April 3, 2009

April showers bring...mud

Mud and muck, more appropriately.  Spring means a lot of great things 'round here - tree frogs singing as the evening light dwindles.  New lambs.  Our young willow shooting out pussywillows and then fuzzy green buds.  Spring break when our young ones get to sleep in and go to the zoo.  But, most quintessentially spring means mud.  Lots and lots of mud. 

There's regular, everyday Pacific NW mud, which in general is ubiquitous but shallow and comprised mostly of your everyday dirt + water.  And then there's farm mud.  Very different animal - in fact, different precisely because of the animals in the equation.  It is amazing how destructive 4 feet X however many animals can be.  

Our sheep have a fairly large permanent pasture, and we try to rotate them onto temporary pasture as much as we can.  But, the area in front of their shed is, what's the technical term?  Gross.  Truly disgusting.  Awful.  It is a small area, but, obviously, it's one they use a lot and this time of year we sink mid-calf into the putrid mess trying to get to the stalls to tend to mamas and babies.  Blech.  There's a sort of "Cover me Jim!  I'm going in!" feeling as you struggle to wrench your foot from the sucking mire with each step.  All our sheep are brown up to their knees.  Nice.

We were relatively lucky this year.  The snow and cold meant hard ground, rather than our usual muck that can begin as early as November.  We really didn't have to contend with this goo until March this time.  Not only is it nicer for all, it helps with hoof health and, a real bonus, keeps the parasites down.  Nothing like below freezing temps to kill off those nasty intestinal bugs.  Not that you could tell, looking at our skinny sheep.

So, it's been a campaign to fatten up our ladies over here.  Scoops and scoops of grain, the very best hay, and praying those hens just keep on laying the eggs our neighbors love to buy.  Come on gals - you're subsidizing the ladies.  Hunker down and lay, lay, lay.  

April showers bring us this yucky mud, but they also bring forth spring's first babies, brightly colored petals along roadsides and in gardens, and the weekly communal fest of our island farmers market.  It brings clear starry nights, like tonight, and the celebrated sunny weekend or two, which just about breaks the To-Do List bank.  In April, we keep our tall rubber boots close and our gratitude closer.  The balmy eves of summer are just over the horizon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Creating Our Universe

It's alarmingly easy to slip into head-down production mode, no matter what our day job is or our life looks like. I continually have to remind myself that, wait, this is the fun part. Living on 5 acres of emerging farm with my wonderful family and 12 sheep and 30-odd chickens and a variety of pets on an island in the middle of Puget Sound - that's the good stuff right there. Stop. Look Around. Breathe.

Keeping the To-Do list in a cage instead of snarling overhead just somehow sounds so much easier than it turns out to be. Obviously, you don't want to be lackadaisical about 35 animals or the seeds you've managed to coax out of the starter box, but sometimes the dishes have to sit in the sink and the dust bunnies must roam freely, or the joy of living never gets its moment in the sun.

I have had my head down quite a bit lately, pushed by the demands spring brings forth - baby animals and mamas, seeds that turn into tiny plants in a fierce insistence of the miraculous, fencing, water, dirt, the wasted landscape our harsh and never-ending winter has wrought - and wanting to attend to this last few months of elementary school for Dylan. The clock on his childhood is fast winding down, and the community of teachers and staff, the lush and beautiful demonstration food garden he helped to build, the playground and the giant paper mache Orcas in the brightly-lit lobby will soon reside in the closet of memory, replaced by the new special people and places he'll encounter across the parking lot in middle school.

And there are other demands on my time and energy and emotional bandwidth as well, just as all of us struggle to be the things we need to be for those close to us and the priorities we've set out for our lives. What form those demands take may be furry and elemental in my domain, complex and sophisticated in yours, but we all fight the demon of a 24 hour day.

That I might be losing this battle hit me going 50 miles an hour on a Seattle elevated highway 3 days ago. I lost all feeling in my left arm, my pulse shot up into the stratosphere and then my whole person wanted to jump out of my own skin. I had nowhere to go and my only child in the backseat. I was pretty sure I was stroking or heart-attacking and after about a minute of trying to talk myself into getting to the next exit, I just pulled over, climbed up the miniscule curb and called 911.

Don't want to over-react. Don't want to die and take my kid and who knows who else with me. Close call. Here in the U.S., especially with the high-deductible insurance we currently carry, the thought of sending the 911-medic-ambulance-emergency room train out of the station gives me more than a little pause. But, I dialed anyway and, strangely, as soon as I was talking to a real, live, medical person who had the power to magically send a highly advanced vehicle with bright flashing lights to come save me, my pulse started slowing down, my body retreated back into my skin, and I knew this was some kind of anxiety attack, not the end. I thanked the medic and promised to call back if I needed to.

So, as soon as I stopped shaking, we made our way back into traffic and onto the Seattle Green Festival where I marveled at how beautiful even the inside of a trade show looks when you're glad to be alive and holding your 10 year old's hand.

It is good to be alive. Very good. Money problems come and go. Dramas swirl around. Some projects turn out and some don't. Failure is part of being alive - a really important part in fact. And, most of all, it's easy to depend on the people closest to us to do all our heavy lifting. Our spouses, our friends, our parents, even our kids - we want them to love us and like us and support us always in everything all the time. We want them to make us laugh, and to laugh at our jokes but not our foibles. We ask that they adore our ideas and journey with us on our adventures. We want them to believe that we're great and to keep quiet if they don't.

But, that's a tall order. I am extraordinarily fortunate to count many rock-solid wonderful people in my life. My husband is awesome, my kid - of course. I have great parents, one of whom sparkles brightly just 40 feet away and another who supports me from a long distance and always has. And, I have a handful of loving, close, do-anything-for-me friends who hold my hand through tough days and celebrate my victories as their own.

Today, however, I visited a woman who helps put my body right on occasion and was reminded of the power of reaching out beyond those who know and love me. I saw quite clearly how important it is to bring the right people into my life for the right things - even if those things turn out to be unexpected - and not to rely on my close inner circle to feed all the corners of my soul.

I came to her to fix my body - that numb arm that has been acting up for some time - and she did that, sure, but fed my soul a rich broth of art and creativity and pure joy for this part of me - the part that sits down and documents this life and hopes that somewhere, someone finds these simple words some use. We laughed and conspired and mused. She shared ideas and passion and strategies.

When I left, my arm felt better and my soul felt nourished. Creating your own universe starts with knowing yourself and listening to your heart, but inviting unique and sharing people to jump on the carnival ride with you every now and then will make getting there a whole lot more fun.