Category Archives: Uncategorized

Chicken After Strawberry

Ruby is a high-strung chicken, built like a bulldog with a heart yellower than a lemon. She was traipsing back and forth against the fence when I went out this afternoon, eyeing me and waiting for me to release her into the wilds.

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She hung around behind me as I pulled grass, lamb’s quarters, mustard, and Queen Anne’s Lace from my treasured tomato patch. I offered her a tender clump of wood sorrel, and, interested, she came walking over for a peck. There happened to be some clover in the clump as well, which she also ate. She minded her own business, hunting for snails in the damp greenery near the stream in the backyard, while I continued to weed, one eye on her.

Growing bored of weeding, I turned to go see what Chicken was up to. I found she had wandered to another edge of the garden and was crouching there, half in and half out, near my pea trellis. What was she doing? After eyeing me for a moment, she turned her attention back to – a wild strawberry! The delicacy! She plucked it from the plant, laid it on the ground, and ate it with gusto. Then she stepped carefully away from that patch and walked slowly along the edge of the garden, searching with calm deliberation. I saw the next strawberry a moment after she started reaching for it. She knew I’d brought her out here to enjoy herself and didn’t suspect I’d take her strawberry. I didn’t. She pulled at it, smacked her beak when she got juice on her tongue, and finally had the whole strawberry down the hatch and was looking for more.

“All right, Ruby,” I said, patting my thigh and attempting to call her like one would call a dog, which, as usual, failed. She followed me for a few steps and then stopped, probably thinking, Yeah, I’d rather stay here if it’s all the same to you.

I walked back to her and reached for her, expecting indignant rebellion and loud squawks, but instead of flapping or jumping away she only mildly clucked her complaint. When I opened the coop door for her (after she’d flown out of my arms for the last time, but without comment) she walked right in, back to her friend Minerva, the aging and lethargic Buff Orpington.

Later I walked by to see Minerva and Ruby sitting together in the shade. Ruby wasn’t pacing back and forth by the door. She was at Minerva’s side, though that chicken rarely moves. Content to stay put.

Getting out for strawberries and sunshine is good for high-strung chickens. Good for people, too.

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Communication & Mathematics: Essentially the Same

image17I have a Bachelor’s in communication with a minor in mathematics, and this duo makes perfect sense to me. In fact, I wonder why more communication folks, especially writers and designers, don’t see the beauty and meaningfulness of mathematics as it relates to their own fields. Mathematics, as well as writing, design, and other media, is all about representation and symbolism, as well as efficiency and pithiness.

For an excellent overview of the connections between mathematics, perspectives, stories, and understanding, take a look at Roger Antonsen’s TED talk here. (This is also a super example of illustrated oratory and unobtrusive videography.)

Warp Speed Photography

Ingredients:

  • 1 decent camera
  • 1 zoom lens
  • fairly low light, but not too low

I used:

  • Canon t6i
  • 18-135mm lens
  • light close to sunset when the sun had already gone below some nearby trees
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Warp Buff Orpington Chicken

Instructions:

  1. Pick your subject and think of a point you’d like to keep in focus. Make sure shutter speed is low enough for you to zoom in while the shutter is open for a warp effect.
  2. Practice zooming in quickly while holding the camera as steadily as you can.
  3. Take photos!

Bonus:

Rotate camera for added effect while taking the photo.

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Warp Staghorn Sumac

Goodbye

Sunshine in the treetops, and the breeze that sends the shadows shimmering across the forest floor. Cool earth and yesteryear’s disintegrating leaves inch up between my toes.

I’ve been here before. In body or in spirit nearly every day for ten years. It’s time to say goodbye, but I don’t know how to say it and I don’t think there’s anything to say.

I stand at the edge of the field where I found the Luna moth caterpillar. Where I crouched below the apple trees come early Autumn, foraging for fruit among the deer prints and knowing I’m invisible behind a wall of tall, mature goldenrod. Where I huddled in my winter gear, watching icy sunsets glow fire orange behind the towers, sending long shadows reaching back from summer’s anthills. And spring—spring the most magic time of all, when the apple trees blossom and bees, insects, butterflies all gather here, before any other plants have really gotten started and taken advantage of the warming sun.

This place is my place. And I’m here now to say goodbye. Or to say I’ll see you again. Or to say you’ve been good to me, and I’m moving on.

But I won’t say goodbye. That’s stupid. I’ll just stand here in the breeze and scrunch the soil with my toes, and be in this place, and smell every scent, savor every breath of wind and every shimmer of leaves in the sun.

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Out of Reach

Think. He’ll be back any minute!”

I am thinking, what does it look like?” Jess scowled, green eyes locked on the scarlet kite. It was twenty feet off the ground, its colorful tail wrapped around a telephone pole.

I told you we shouldn’t take it. But you didn’t listen. It’s your fault.” Rob was pacing, staring up at it.

You were flying it, Bobert.”

Yeah, I was, till you grabbed it and flew it into the wire. It’s Jim’s war-kite. He’ll be mad.”

We should’ve tried to attack something with it, you know? If it’s a real war-kite. What’s it good for, anyway?”

How’re you going to get it down?”

Me? Whadya mean, how am I going to get it down?”

Come on. Think.”

Jess planted her hands on her hips, turned around. The barn loomed behind them, old farm equipment scattered nearby. “What’s that?” she asked. Beside the wall, covered in moss and clinging grass, was a wooden ladder. “Think this’ll reach it?”

Nobody’s used that forever,” Rob said.

Well, looks fine to me. Unless you have a better idea.”

Rob shifted from foot to foot.

Well?” Jess said, wrapping her stubby fingers around one end. “Pull!”

The grass held on. Rob wedged his feet against the ground and strained. Jess put one foot on the red wall and jerked. The ladder shifted. All of a sudden—SNAP! Jess was on the ground. Rob’s end didn’t budge.

Ow,” Rob said, examining his finger. “I think I got a splinter.”

Jess pulled herself up and brushed off. “Well, that won’t work.” She kicked the wood.

You broke our ladder.”

Yeah? I’ll break it again.” She grabbed the stick from the ground and hurled it over her shoulder. A resounding smack echoed from behind them.

Rob turned around. Jim was standing with the piece of wood in hand, inches away from his nose. Slowly, he lowered it.

I’m sure that was an accident,” Jim said.

Rob pointed at Jess. “Her fault.”

Jim stared at Rob, fidgeting under his gaze. He looked at the ladder, now in two pieces. Then he squinted up into the sun. “Is that my kite?” he asked. “Is that my war-kite?”

What If

The clock chimes eleven times. Your back aches, but not so much as your mind. The screen grows relentlessly, twenty tabs open. Your fingers clasp the uni-ball pen, unwilling to let go. Unwilling to give up this project.

You barely remember nights when you slept deeply. The ideas from your thesis come with you to your dreams, wrestling inside your head throughout the night. Your advisor’s words echo, bounce from thread to counterthread. This argument is weak. This idea needs exploring. You know he’s right. You blink, eyes dry. Dry long ago.

Alone in your apartment, working. You’re 29 years old. Your thesis is nearly finished. You’ve been fighting for it for years, ripping apart arguments, consuming and digesting ideas quicker than M&Ms. Your mind is sharp as a whip. Your hand cramped from notetaking. You’ve time for nothing else. This paper must be finished.

The clock chimes. Once. You drop the pen. Press the button. Turn off the monitor. You drop into bed, alone. Right before sleep swallows your mind, you wonder. What if?


You’re exhausted. You can’t move, you’re so tired. And you didn’t even get anything done. Hair in your eyes, plastered to your forehead. One child hanging onto your ankles, another asleep in your lap. You feel heavier than lead.

Dishes weren’t done. You remember when you hear a clank come from the kitchen. He’s cleaning them again, Old Reliable. You stroke the angel’s down head of your babe, admire the soft face, clenched fists, button nose. Your head falls back against the sofa.

A warm hand on your arm. You jerk awake.

“Hey,” he says, a pile of leftovers in hand. He plops down on the couch beside you. “Long day?”

You nod. Motion for quiet, glance at your lap. He eats in silence. You’re pretty sure the little girl on your ankles is asleep too.

Hours after sunset, you drag yourself up to the bedroom. Cranky kids, too sleepy to go to bed. By the time you’ve got everyone settled, you’re a zombie, circles hanging under your eyes. Hubby’s long been asleep. He’s lucky you don’t have the energy to wake him. You collapse into bed.

Right before you’re gone, you remember, for just a moment, all the ideas you had, all the research papers you could have torn apart, all the brilliant academic arguments you could have fought and won. You had so much potential. What if?


You’re still young. You refuse to do anything half-heartedly. Two roads diverge. You look down both. You will choose. One, or the other. There is no both. Not for you.


You did it. The diploma says PhD. The final grades are in. You’re even employed! You feel infinitely relieved, want to shout, “I’m done!” You’re ready to start teaching. You’re the leading expert in your field. Your paper already got referenced. You’re ready to take on the world.


Your kid hands you a piece of paper, late afternoon, your hands in the sink. Colorful crayon marks all over it. She points to one of the circles with the wide grins spreading outside their faces, an abstract tree behind it. “You,” she says.

“Lovely,” you tell her.

The drawing isn’t yours. Ungraded, unfit for academic attack. The kid is a being all her own, grinning up at you. She’s alive.