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Author Archives: forceofnature

Friends When We Aren’t Looking

Friends When We Aren't Looking

Chloe came to live with me about 8 months ago when R could no longer keep her because of where he was living. It was an uneasy truce at first, between her and Kiefer. Chloe still gets an attitude sometimes just to keep up her street cred. But for the most part, they quite happily co-exist. And when we aren’t looking, they actually hang out.

They’re actually very close to the same age. They have similar coloring. And they’re both very empathetic animals. They’ve both made a significance difference in our respective lives and we couldn’t imagine life without the joy and comfort these two amazing animals have brought us. We’ve both become very close to the other’s pet.

Chloe is one part bad ass, queen of the neighborhood, and dominator of all male cats in the vicinity and one part sweet, empathetic, loving kitty cat with a deep, loud purr and who comes when she’s called.

Just to illustrate her awesomeness, she once jumped out of a three-story window of an apartment building. R heard her land, yawl, and watched her streak towards the local woods. He figured that was the last he would see of her. Several weeks later though he heard her unmistakable meow. However, it was coming from overhead! He followed the sound until he got to the attic trap-door in the closet. And there she was. She had made her way back in to the building and found R’s apartment through the attic!

Chloe also answers to Claiborne and Cookie. She knows when you’re feeling bad and sticks close. She also comes to the sound of your fore-finger and thumb rubbing together – I’ve observed R calling her that way from clear across the yard and she’ll come running.

Though she is definitely still R’s cat, she has now officially accepted me into her life as one of her humans. She often likes to get right in the midst of things whether I’m typing, crocheting, sleeping, etc. She likes to sleep on my feet or against the curve of my back. If you’re not paying enough attention to her, she’ll repeatedly flop against you or poke her nose under your hand until you pet her.

She’s a cookie! And life is definitely improved with her arrival.


Squash and pumpkins and chickens!

We’ve been busy in the backyard lately. It’s true – we’re a little behind on the garden. I had a very intense month at work and worked every weekend (and the days in between) so this was the first chance we had. It was fortuitous because we actually had a freeze recently.

But as of today, the garden is tilled! The fence is up. And… the chicken coop is half built! Woohoo!


The garden is just to the right as you walk out the back door. Here we’re just getting started…

We found out today that the old barn is 70+ years old. Originally it was a barn. And then a garage. And then it was a weight room for our landlord and his cousins. If you could meet my landlord… oh, the things this little barn could tell. It’s since sunk into the ground quite a bit now. In case of hail it can still fit my car, but barely. At one time, my landlord thought to tear it down. We’re certainly glad he didn’t.


Now the fence is up! It still needs a gate. And grape vines on the arbor and corners. Sunflowers and more landscaping around the outer edge. Oh, and maybe some rows of plants!

Behind the garden is the old barn in half of which is the chicken coop. R spent quite a while (and sweat and staples) putting up an inner lining of fencing to keep our little chickens safe from creatures, one of which goes by the name Chloe who has often demonstrated her hunting prowess by hauling in freshly killed baby bunnies (I was mad!!!) and ignoring the one household mouse we had to set a trap for. Silly cat.

Now we need to build nesting boxes and perches. Also in the plans is a “tractor chicken box” which is essentially a large, low-to-the-ground cage that can be moved around so our chickens can have access to fresh grass and field goodies while hopefully staying safe from coyotes and Chloe and her harlem.


Notice the cute vintage piece of gate with the “B” on it. I found it in Kansas and hauled it here. It’s pretty adorable to us because R’s last name starts with a B, which I obviously wouldn’t of known when I saw it and hauled it around with me.

Just behind the garden to the right, at the corner of the shed, is the compost pile. My landlord gave us more wire today which was very nice of him! We’ll be upgrading the compost pile with that.


Time for a much deserved break with a rare treat. Lots to do still but so much accomplished in just a few short days. Yay!

Wild Onions and Wild Hairs

Wild Onions and Wild Hairs

Yes, we (my sweetie and I) got a wild hair and started a little citrus tree business. Sweetie is having a hard time keeping up with demand – we’ve made a few hundred dollars and met some pretty cool people along the way.
We started a Facebook page (Citrus Kiss Tree Factory) to sell the trees. And then started posting on there some of the interesting things we’re learning and reading about food sources and preparedness and homesteading ideas and…
We started a second Facebook because we wanted to do more than just post other people’s thoughts on the subjects listed above. We’re actually trying some of it and have intentions to try more and we’d really like to inspire others, especially our generation, to reconnect with the basics of living, appreciating the earth, and depending less on society. So Back to Living was born. And just barely. It’s baby-brand-new. But it’s started. And we’re excited.
I plan for there to be some overlap between my blog and the page, especially when there’s a need for longer explanations such as how-to’s.
Why the wild onions? Because that’s one of our things we started as a couple early on and continue to do that relates to our new page. The onions were found on a picnic lunch. R transplanted them to my yard and they’re growing nicely. We’ve transplanted pecan trees and blackberry bushes and cute little succulents from cool trips we’ve taken – just our version of a rock collection, really. But all apart of our slow but sure journey to live more off the land and learn how to grow more things and be more self-sufficient.
So there you have it. Let’s learn something.

my photography – a milestone

A couple of weeks ago I experienced a HUGE, exhilarating, fear-inducing milestone in my quest to produce accurate images of the beauty surrounding me. I was entrusted with the task of photographing a wedding. I’ve done that before. Several times, in fact. But this time I was a paid photographer and the only photographer (and the florist too).


Nervous. Thrilled. And more aware then ever of all I have to learn.

Thank you H & C for the privilege of sharing in your absolutely breath-taking day. It was beautiful and touching to see your relationship and the bonds of your families. I was honored.

This is one of my favorite. The rest can be viewed here. I welcome your comments and suggestions.


Life Happens

I’m coming out of one of those “knuckle-down-and-survive” modes. Again. Remembering (relearning?) to take a moment here and there to really appreciate the life I’m living. To focus as much on being as doing.

I’m thankful for my job. For the talents God has given me and the opportunities He provides for me to use those talents. I’m even more grateful for people in my life who are going out of their way to make me feel appreciated. In my little world of lists and priorities and responsibilities, it’s nice to be a priority on someone else’s list merely because they chose to put you there.

Among other things, experienced a rather difficult and painful root canal. A sweet friend made me a deliciously soft and flavorful salmon dinner. Letting someone take care of you once in awhile – sweet indeed.



Jack O'lantern Dahlia from Granma's garden

There are days when I’m just so tired of the pain.

I apologize for it a lot. I don’t whine about it much. Really.

In an earlier post, I explained more about my situation. My attitude, and guilt. And my renewed determination to find some answers, to stop the chronic pain.

If it was just not every day…

Ordinarily I take refuge in the beautiful: the color, the shear presence of nature when the discouragement hits. But the colors were just too damn cheerful.

On Monday I had a slight problem with a little overdose. Dr. cut the “prevention plan” dosage by half after that. It was a bit of a trip. And the whole office got to witness, dang it. A coworker had to drive me down to the nearest nurse to make sure my elevating blood pressure leveled. It did. Then whole office knew. Ah privacy, how you allude me at times.

It was annoying. Not catastrophic. A little disconcerting to feel my heart rate steadily increase while my vision blurred. But mostly it was self-pity. A “here we go again” piss and moan.

I’m trying not to whine. I think it probably sounds like it though. (Okay, so it definitely sounds like it.) I’m throwing this out into the ether of the internet world, in an effort to spare coworkers, unsuspecting patrons in the pain reliever aisle, and Facebook users. I’m sorry if you caught it, but hang with me – there is a point to this little whine.

When I walked into the gym tonight, I saw an announcement on the bulletin board for Jarrett’s memorial service (also a previous post). And felt immediately chagrined. Yea, my pain is tough to deal with. But it’s small potatoes compared with Jarrett’s all-too-short battle. And Jess’ on-going battle as she fights to keep her transplanted liver viable. And little Aiden, without his sister, grinning widely through the trach treatments.

As I watched my heart rate on the stair-climb monitor, the words of my semi-conscious mantra became crystal-clear. Each syllable pounded through my head with every foot fall: “thank – You – for – my – bo-dy. thank – You – for – my – life.”

It’s good to be reminded. So this isn’t a “so sorry D, hope you feel better” moment. Rather, be reminded with me.

Thank you for life. Thank You.

Climbing with Sunshine

I went rock climbing with a good friend of mine this afternoon. It was fantastic. We experienced that relaxing combination of some good climbs, a lot of good chat time, some really good belly laughs, followed by delicious Pei Wei. There were even a few tears.

I’ve been back in Texas for quite awhile now. My friend has been bugging me to go climbing with her. We used to do it a lot when I lived here before. I’ve been reluctant to go though. For one thing, I’ve felt badly out of shape. But it mostly has to do with the fact that there is only one good climbing gym relatively near by and it’s where Mindy and I used to go.

Shortly after I moved away my other friend (who I went with today) started going more regularly with Mindy. Mindy taught her to climb. It was their thing – their unwound and stretch the muscles and talk thing. I found out today that she was sitting at home, waiting for Mindy to get off work to go climbing when she got that awful call. I remember exactly where I was too.

If you know me personally or have read my blog awhile, you probably know about Mindy. I called her “Sunshine.” She was my good friend and roommate and confidante and salsa instructor. She died in a car accident 3 years ago last September. And the sun was a little dimmer.

So, I’ve been reluctant to go back to the place that was “our thing.” Moving back to the area really brought home the fact that she is gone. Since I was living in another state, it was sometimes easy to forget that she was really gone. I’d been dreading this day – knowing I needed to go back to the gym and move on and experience the pleasure of climbing again.

So yes, there were a few tears. But it was really good to reminisce about  her in that gym, and laugh about her antics, and basically revel in the good memories. It’s been a long time coming. It still hurts. I still get choked up a little when I hear a certain Juanes song, or eat brazilian stroganoff,  or see her reflected in the expressive face and personality of her beautiful niece.

But the bitter-sweet is a little more sweet these days.

I still miss you girl. Your birthday is coming up next week. I wish we could go dancing. I wish you would try, once again, to teach me to shake my booty; you swore it wasn’t hopeless. I wish I could see the sparkle in your eye, feel your hug, hear your infectious laugh. See the way you look at your Johnny boy. Watch you toss your niece and nephews in the air; they are so beautiful, you’d be so proud. Mostly I wish I could tell you thank you, and try to explain what your friendship meant to me, and tell you that though I miss you all the time – it’s a lot less painful and a whole lot sweeter. See you soon Sunshine.