Monday, January 27, 2014

The Things that Are Pleasing--Smoothies, MLK Weekend, and Dancing till Dawn

The Things that Are Pleasing...

1.  Peach Smoothie: Dev say this morning's batch was the best he's ever made. I helped myself to seconds, even though I'm still shivering from my morning run. This smoothie includes goat milk, frozen peaches or nectarines from last summer, a dash of cinnamon, and raw eggs. Yes, folks, even though your mother warned you about raw eggs each time you snuck a lick from the cake batter bowl, and even though salmonella is a very real thing (ask me about the time I threw my underwear out the window when I lived in Peru), if you know and trust where your eggs come from, it's okay. Really! Not only does it make the smoothie creamy, but I get an extra dose of protein. We're up to our ears in eggs right now, and every now and again fried eggs give me the heebeejeebees.

2. MLK Weekend: For the past five or so years some friends have made a tradition of heading to Lake City for the long weekend. Our friend Kale put a tipi up on his property there at 10,000 feet, and seven adults, along with six or so dogs, would pile in for a weekend of lounging, mountaineering, and skiing. Kale recently built a cabin in place of the tipi, and for the first MLK weekend ever, we were indoors! An alchemy has formed up there over the years. It's a gift to get away from all distractions, to spend a long weekend piled into a cabin with nothing but one another's company, to let loose, and to go to ridiculous lengths for a laugh.

3. Denver Fusion Exchange: For three nights, I felt the pulse and pleasures of city living. I went out for dinner at 10 (my normal bed time). At 1, I put on a dress to go dancing. I danced until 5 or 6 in the morning. I made new friends. The event brought together 600 dancers from all over who are interested in blending different styles of dancing--salsa, tango, ballroom, jazz, lindy, blues, whatever.  At times these events can get kinda weird; there's a cool crowd or an invisible hierarchy with the good dancers at the top and the untouchable, not-so-good-dancers at the bottom. I met some people who operated on that and I felt uninspired. But I also experienced people who love to connect, express, and listen with their bodies and through the music. When that happens you can know someone and play with them wordlessly. In that space, beyond good or bad, I found inspiration. I want my whole life to be that kind of dance.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Weekend Joys

This weekend I cleaned the chicken coop. This is among my greatest joys here on the homestead  because a) I love transforming a complete mess into something tidy and clean and b) I am a fiend for filling the compost with nitrogen to balance out the loads of leaves I gathered this fall. Living in the desert, the soil is either sand or clay, so building crumbly, rich soil gets me excited.  I literally scrape poop from every nook and cranny, harvesting it like a treasure (which it is). To protect myself from the flying feathers and poop I wear a dust mask .

Meanwhile, Dev worked on the new bunk house he's building for interns, guests, and students. He was busy with the skill saw, cutting holes for windows, a stove pipe, and a door. He wore ear muffs to protect his ears.

 When I went to ask him for a hand we found ourselves struggling to communicate.

In other news, the chickens finally started to lay eggs again this week. One egg a day from twenty laying hens just wasn't cutting it. We were ready to pull the plug on the feed budget and turn them into soup, but the sun prevailed and we're at a respectable 11 eggs per day.

Though this chicken seems to think she should be rewarded for her laying prowess with a break from today's snow and wind, she's gonna have to start laying golden eggs before we invite her indoors.

We spent the majority of the day up at our neighbors' house watching the snow move through the valley, eating an incredible lamb stew Em whipped up, cuddling on the couch, and sharing conversation.

A highlight of our visit was Pharrel Williams' 24-hour long interactive music video for Happy (this may be old news since it happened in Novemeber. Forgive me, news travels like molasses to our hills).  We spent some time with this link, threw several dance parties in the living room, and delighted over the celebrity appearances and amazing dancing.  I highly recommend it!

Here's a short preview.....

Friday, January 3, 2014


Last year my friend Kale trained for the Dog Sledding World Champions. One day he talked me into going to the Rec Center in Delta for a spinning class. After the class, Kale headed for the pool, while I farted around with the exercise equipment. I watched him swim laps, his head popping up occasionally to grin at me like a lab in water.

I'm not much of a swimmer. I never thought I could be because of my arm. When I tried tagging along to swim with friends, it felt more like controlled self-rescue than laps. I gave up. The chlorine dried out my hair and made my skin itch anyway.

The next week Kale invited me to the Rec Center again. I brought my suit. I peddled my way through spin class. Then, I swam. I kept going back each week, adding on a few extra laps each time and after a bit, I felt more like a turtle in the water than a cat.

I love physical goals mainly because they are so tangible. Take something you're not so good at, show up for a run or a class and eventually you get better. Results achieved! I like that about growing food. Build up soil, plant seeds, and voila, greens to eat all winter long! Meeting a goal feels good.

And yet I wonder, are these the things that are really most important? I want to develop my ability to listen, to be compassionate, to practice courage, but these things all seem pretty murky. How often do people practice loving-kindness for an hour every day? There's no distance to measure, no time to keep, and though there are classes you can go to, I'm a skeptic to listen to someone who claims to have answers.

Are people who are compassionate born that way? Do they come from families who listen well? Do they hit rock bottom and find that courage is the only way? Or does it take time and trying, making mistake after mistake and getting back up one more time to try again?  I'd like to think it's the latter.
Kale and his dogs competing on Grand Mesa last year.
A cabin workout with Kale.

My grandmother.

Christmas dinner.

All the way from France!