{this moment}

A Friday ritual: a single photo, unaccompanied by explanation, which captures “a simple, special, extraordinary moment…I want to pause, savor and remember.” ~SouleMama

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If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

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If you give your landlord a (positive) lead-based paint test…

If you give your landlord a (positive) lead-based paint test…you know, the home-test kind that you get from Lowes, that they said we probably didn’t need anyway because we should be “fine” since we’re so far removed from the 70’s when it was banned, but then 2 out of 3 tests come back positive, they probably will get a real testing company to come and audit your house (like you’d wondered if they’d ever done in the first place and asked about). And they’re gonna find lead paint. Of course. Which means, naturally, you’ll get kicked out, because now you’re a liability to them.

Ok, I can’t keep this trope from the children’s book alive, but suffice it to say, we’re being kicked out of our home of 8 years.

This has caused me/we to be: 1) In a ridiculously stressed out frenzy, searching high and low for an adequate (short-term) or excellent (long-term) place, 2) A terrible friend – b/c if you thought I was in a baby-induced sleep deprivation walking coma, you should see me now (I found the computer mouse in the tub the other day, my cell phone in the fridge, and let’s just say I haven’t cleaned up dog puke I noticed three days ago), 3) Very sad. Our sanity is suffering, right along with our garden (weed-choked; haven’t even had the heart to post our glorious garden info, since now it’s all moot), our pets (no special walks), and our plans for WV’s first birthday. 4) An insomniac. When WV goes down, we should sleep riiiight? Nope, the wheels just keep spinning around our plight and we’re tired. Very tired. 5) Very familiar with lead paint test kits, detection, remediation, exposure… I just have to hope there will be a silver lining to this unfortunate situation – we’ll find a place, a better place, and karma will bite our landlords in the butt big time.

There are many behind-the-scenes details, as with any story. For instance, they gave us the news via email. We’ve all been tested for lead poisoning, with levels of lead found in our blood that indicate exposure but do not alarm our Dr. enough to start any kind of treatment. We’re eating lots of calcium-rich foods, which is the best way to self-chelate. And although I would like to say more (alot of it involving expletives), I think I’ll wait ’till this situation is behind us, for prudence’s sake. So, alas, our time on this road named after a communist island, and in this house we’ve made a home is short. We’re going to take this mini-homestead, drop it somewhere else and make a ripple effect. MexicanNights 003

Three Gigs and a New Heater Core

P1060133What a busy past few days. Thursday was spent finishing the job I had started almost a month ago (tough to find time on the weekends, weekday evenings are too buggy) of replacing the heater core in the Blazer (thanks to my good friend and band-mate TB for helping me find screws and bolts I overlooked). It was a royal P.I.T.A. Chevy did not make the dash removal process very user friendly – no wonder it costs an arm, leg, and your firstborn child to have the stealership or a mechanic do the work. Unfortunately, I did not take pictures from the get go, but I did include a few that I snapped throughout the process. The Haynes manual was pretty good on this one. I decided not to put EVERYTHING back together… it was way too hot outside (don’t have a garage), the bugs were getting bad, and I really don’t care that much about the plastic crap covering up the underside of the dash. I use the Blazer for hauling band equipment to gigs, garbage/recyclables to the dump, transporting large items such as sofas or tables, storing things in it because we have zero closets, and occasionally towing a trailer. Do I really need that plastic crap covering up the underside of the dash for these purposes? The above pic is what the inside of the Blazer normally looks like (it is our storage unit… bass amp, chicken feed, and a jogging stroller can be seen in this image). Here is a quick step-by-step process:

1. Remove the dash (including the underside plastic crap, and lower the steering column). I disconnected the battery and also disconnected the connection to the airbag. Don’t want a surprise deployment… There are about 943,051 bolts and screws that need to be removed, and when you think you’ve removed them all you probably haven’t. I think we used Torx, 7mm, 5.5mm, 5/16″, 1/2″, and 17/32″ bits for this process.

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2. Drain the radiator. Getting to the drain plug is a bit of a chore, so I just disconnected the lowest hose and let it drain from there.

3. Disconnect these 2 hoses going to the heater core (I got the first one, and L got the second much more quickly since she has a Ph.D. in hose connecting/removal).
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4. Remove the plastic cover inhibiting access to the heater core (I think it was only 6 bolts).
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5. Remove the metal bars holding the heater core in place, and put the new one in. Put everything back together (or as much as you want to put back together), re-connect all the electrical connections in the dash, put the steering column back in place, fill the radiator, and you’re good to go. Easy, huh?

It was good to spend some time with TB fixing the car, gave us some good old fashioned male bonding time. And L made us delicious sandwiches with tomatoes and cukes from the garden. Thursday evening was a nice night of playing music on the Crab Deck and watching the fireworks across the river from Yorktown (mere feet from the location of the British surrender, essentially guaranteeing American independence – are we really free though?). I love doing outdoor acoustic gigs – L and WV can come and not be blasted away by the walls of speakers, it’s a lot less physical energy expended on my part, and I don’t come home at 3am smelling like an ash tray (although this is rare since Virginia banned smoking in most bars/restaurants in 2009). Don’t get me wrong, I love cranking my amp to 11 and watching drunk people dance the night away at bars, but I’m not as young as I once was and I have responsibilities that I didn’t have 6 or 7 years ago.

GloucesterYorktown_But just because we were playing a low key acoustic gig at a fancy yacht club restaurant, don’t think it was all Sperry shoes, khaki shorts, and white/pastel Polo shirts. We had a little bit of everything there: Drunk dude showing up around 7:00 (by boat…), trying to keep himself somewhat perpendicular to the floor, loving every minute of us playing, tipping us quite well), and then getting into his boat to weave his way around $1,000,000 yachts docked and the families coming back from watching the fireworks on the river. Thankfully, management handled it well and didn’t let him drive his boat home. Salty old owner telling us we were too loud (turns out we’re not special, he acts the same towards everyone). Standing room only crowd in the parking lot to watch the fireworks (the Gloucester crowd doesn’t like to deal with the traffic and tourists in Yorktown on July 4… I don’t blame us/them). I wanted to get a couple pictures, but L accidentally left the camera at home charging. Oh well.

Friday, I got my hours in, then met up with the rest of the band for a 3 hour drive down to Lake Gaston for another gig. Outdoor rock and roll with Key’d Up. We were literally out in the middle of nowhere. My droid couldn’t find it. TB’s iPhone couldn’t find it. But for some reason our drummer’s “dumb” phone was able to find it. We rocked for about 4 hours, and the cops only came out twice!

P1060203Saturday we finished our little mini tour right where we started. Another acoustic evening on the Crab Deck, watching the sun go down while enjoying a cold beer or two (or three). No crazy shenanigans this time, although the salty old owner was having a discussion with the manager (manager is totally cool, btw) about how he thought he had kicked us out last time… Anyway, we weren’t kicked out, and we rocked the place again (albeit at a slightly lower decibel level than on July 4). Here’s a pic of WV enjoying a lime and another one of L and WV enjoying the music:

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All the Chickie Ladies

This post is about chickens. Our chickens. The Chickie Ladies, as we call them. Imagine, instead of “Single Ladies,” Beyonce singing, “All the Chickie Ladies, all the Chickie Ladies…” and then where she says, “Oh, oh, ohhh, oh-oh, oh, ohoh, oh, o-oh-oh oh,” insert, “Bouck, bouck, bouuuuck, bouck-bouck, bouck, bouckbouck, bouck b-bouck-bouck buk.” You’re welcome. P1050419

Now then.

We’re one legit step closer to homesteading. This spring, we made the leap from store/farmer’s market-bought eggs to having our own dang chickens!!!! There is nothing finer, nothing I tell you, than holding a warm, fresh egg from a chicken you know. This former NYC girl is beside herself.

Our very chill new neighbors (who rent from the same landlords) asked us if we’d like to go in on a chicken coop and chickens, and of course we jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t think our landlords would say yes, having been struck down a few years ago in the same department when I asked if I could convert the battered shed in our yard into a chicken coop. They said no then, their intention to fix the shed P1050550…but, that, ah, never happened. We got clearance to use our (unused) large outdoor dog cage to house chickens instead. Over a few evenings we pieced together a coop using old scrap wood, pieces of torn apart pallets, and some chicken wire.

Concurrently, W and I browsed craigslist like (chicken)hawks and chicken swaps for some hens. Lots of people sell chickens on Craigslist, but we were being picky. We found our first Chickie Lady, to the right, at a swap in Toano – for $13. Colleen is a broody black and white hen (she’s a Dominique). She loves to say in a low chortle, “Buuuuuuuuck, buck, buguuuuuuck” and keeps everyone else in line.

K, our neighbor, found a woman at VIMS who was getting rid of pullets her granddaughter was not taking good care of, so we went out to her farm and picked up 4. P1060178The woman had reserved 3 for us but indicated that another, who was deformed, was going to perish. Instead, we convinced her we could take it and give it a dignified life…now “Leggy” as we call her (this is why), is a spunky member of our flock, has the sweetest personality and comes limping over enthusiastically to wiggle under our feet and get pets. She appears to be a Dominique as well. The other three pullets were all white with a few black feathers, but have since developed brown on the outlines of their breast feathers. I have no idea what type of chicken they are – thoughts? They stick together like nobody’s business, these three stooges, are super curious, to the point of taking on Ima (one of our labs) through the cage mesh, and come running like little friendly Compys from Jurassic Park to greet me when I walk out the front door with veggie scraps, “Heeeeey, Ladies!”

We rounded out the bunch with three hens from a swap in P1060145Gloucester – literally, the last three hens left for sale in Gloucester who weren’t either 1) stuck inhumanely in a cage with 100 other chickens, pecking each other to bits or 2) paired with a rooster. We don’t need no stinkin’ rooster. We saw them all in a cage together and asked the lady standing with them about them. She said her son was really the chicken person on the farm, and he’d be right back and could tell us more. I’m imagining an early-20’s fellow, her son, who helps around the farm. Up strides an 8-year-old who proceeds to expound matter-of-factly and in great detail about them – which one likes to try flying, how to catch them as the sun goes down, and what size of egg to expect. He was adorable. We kept his names, Bootsy (all white), Summer (brown and white) and Maple (brown). Maple is a skittish girl (although that 8-year-old deftly caught her without so much as a squawk or a P1060056lost feather), and is the only Chickie Ladie that I can’t catch. Her elusive ways are funny to watch. Bootsy and Summer are kinda dumb.

We get between 2-4 eggs a day, which will ramp up when the pullets mature. We split the eggs, feed costs, and upkeep of the cage with our neighbors. All 8 Chickie Ladies head into the coop in the evening and one of us manages to remember to we lock ’em up by dark and then let them out in the morning. It’s a rad set up and WV is totally fascinated with their antics. We have a little game where I make them jump for berries – it makes him laugh! I’m want him to understand from a very young age how to care for animals, how special it is to know where our food comes from. He certainly loves to eat their eggs!

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{this moment}

A Friday ritual: a single photo, unaccompanied by explanation, which captures “a simple, special, extraordinary moment…I want to pause, savor and remember.” ~SouleMama

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If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.
A Friday ritual: a single photo, unaccompanied by explanation, which captures “a simple, special, extraordinary moment…I want to pause, savor and remember.” ~SouleMama