Blog a la Cart

Indian Summer

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This weekend, the girls and I retreated to my parents’ house on Cape Cod. Mostly to get out of James’ way and let the man tackle many a project that has been lingering on our TO DO list.

As I mentioned, Rufio’s demise accelerated the chicken processing from Important to Urgent. Our friend came over on Saturday, and helped James’ rid Cartwheel Farm of all but one rooster, sweet sweet Ferdinand. James relayed that it was a much smoother process than when he handled Emilio, save for that moment when he had beheaded a chicken but then lost his grip and said headless rooster proceeded to race around our barn while Gladden eagerly chased it, until she realized that something was not right. Yeah, bloody headless rooster is not right. Apparently, this is fairly typical and not just farm life lure. How glad am I that I was lounging on the beach rather than bearing witness to that scene? I suppose it’s nearly Halloween, but honestly, I would have lost my damn mind had I been present. We do not live in Sleepy Hollow, y’all.

So, we are down to one very sweet, fluffy rooster, 9 hens that are now all laying (so Sunny has begun selling eggs by the dozen in rainbow-decorated egg crates. Adorable.), the coop has been cleaned, rooms have been painted, carpets installed, lawns mowed, garden beds turned, and furniture moved every which way to accommodate the redesign/renovation of four rooms chez Cart. Why tackle all of these renovations at once, you may wonder?

Because we are out of our dang minds. You should know that by now.

As James and I were wallpapering vintage New Yorker covers from the ’60s and ’70s that my grandmother collected nearly 20 years ago, gave to my mother, who gifted them to me a decade ago, on to the walls of our downstairs bathroom this evening, James wondered out loud, “Why are we doing this now? Why did it take us so long to do, and yet, why have we decided to do it now while in the midst redoing three rooms upstairs?” (As I type this, he is still downstairs wallpapering…)

My response, “How long have we been together? Then you know me well enough that you have your answer. GO BIG OR GO HOME, CART!”

Do you remember when the New Yorker cost $0.25, because our bathroom sure does.

ANYWAY, back to our weekend (as I’ll be sure to share room redesign progress/plans another time). Saturday proved to be a positively gorgeous, hot day, so despite the foliage of oranges and reds telling us otherwise, we headed to the beach and lounged in our bathing suits, and Doda, Sunny and Kaki even went swimming. In fact, Sunny straight up submerged herself in the water before even Doda had gotten up the courage to do so. Our LA baby has proved that she is indeed a hardy New Englander.

I left the kids with my parents for a few hours on Sunday and had a family photography session in Brookline, and then rendezvoused at Ikea to purchase bunk beds, sinks, vanities, and an odd assortment of home goods that one is wont to purchase when sucked into the matrix that is affordable, mass-produced Swedish design. I was so daunted by the sheer number of bodies in one place at one time, their parking lot nearly did me in. But thanks to the moral support of my parents who wrangled children and my psyche, we survived and I am once again indebted to those two incredible souls who go out of their way time and time again to make my life a little easier (or in the case, A LOT easier). We love you, Momar and Doda.

And the girls can’t WAIT to show you their bunk bed on their bright purple carpet when you visit for Thanksgiving.

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Pardon the iPhone snaps. I did not drag my SLR to the beach.

The Chicken Formerly Known as Mohawk Baby

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Earlier this week, our flock of 5 roosters staged a coup and dispatched of Rufio.

At least that’s what we think went down.

The coop has been a bit Lord of the Flies of late with all that masculine energy running amuck. Now that the hens are laying, it’s exacerbated the situation. During daylight hours, there isn’t a moment that goes by that a rooster isn’t crowing. And Rufio was the worst offender. In all honesty, besides looking really really ridiculously cool, he was a pain in the butt. Flighty yet aggressive, noisy yet skittish. I’m not surprised the other roosters were none too pleased with his behavior.

But that in no way means we’re thrilled that a chicken was likely killed by a fellow coop-mate. I am not entirely convinced that that is what went down, as I feel that we would have heard such horror. James and the girls ventured up to the coop on Wednesday to do the nightly egg collection, and discovered Rufio dead in the coop. While there was some blood on the scene, it wasn’t a blood bath. In fact, Kaki informed me that Rufio was sleeping because he had a boo boo. Had it been death by hawk or other predator, there would be no body (just a mess of feathers), and we think it may have been a much more dramatic affair had it truly been another rooster. Ultimately, we don’t have a great explanation. Chickens are not terribly bright, and so he very well could have gotten himself in a bad situation (stuck  in the fence? a branch?) and that could have caused the damage that led to his demise.

The kids requested to learn how to pluck a chicken, so Rufio is currently in a brown paper bag in our chest freezer, so that he can still be a part of our chicken harvest, which has been accelerated to this weekend to avoid any future rooster catastrophes. (You see, Rufio’s fate was sealed long before Wednesday). We will be keeping only 1 rooster (sweet sweet fluffy Ferdinand) and the rest have got to go. They’ll make for some fresh chicken stock and meals this winter, and continue to teach our girls about the circle of life and the realities and responsibilities of a life eating meat.

While I still cringe and squirm at the thought of processing my own animal meat despite understanding the correlation to my food, I am grateful to be raising people who will be less hysterical and more rational about the whole process. Kaki was holding the brown paper bag carrying Rufio’s body when the girls relayed the story of his death. “MAMA! DO YOU WANT TO SEE?! LOOK! Rufio is dead. He has a boo boo. That’s sad, but now I can have one of his pretty feathers.”

Yep.  Meanwhile, I was slowly creeping further and further away from my preschooler clutching a bag of dead chicken to avoid having to look at the situation.

Admittedly, he was a ridiculously adorable chick. And inspired our initial #dailydoseofchick photo that was featured in The Huffington Post. Thanks for that, ya wacky bird.

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Pete The Cat

Our nightly reading ritual with the kids has been intensified since Sunny began Kindergarten and started reading on her own. It’s truly amazing to behold her figuring out how to sound out words and make meaning of all those letters on a page. You can tell she feels so proud and empowered when she reads a sign on the street or a restaurant menu or a poster on a wall without any help. Reading is an incredibly powerful thing, y’all.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes has been a favorite for some time, but now we have a collaborative approach to how we read the story. Courtland practices her colors, fruits, and numbers, Sunny practices her reading, and we all practice our grooving. I adore this part of our evenings so very much. Do you think it’ll be appropriate to insist that they engage in such behavior at 16?

ABSOLUTELY! But just in case, we filmed one our readings, so I have an excuse to weep uncontrollably while consuming a plate of nachos and pint of ice cream in one sitting 20 years from now.

Currently Reading

ESFJs are people persons. They are warmly interested in others. They gather detailed information about others, and turn this information into supportive actions. They want to like people, and have a special skill at bringing out the best in others. They are extremely good at reading others, and understanding their point of view. The ESFJ’s first desire to be liked makes them highly supportive of others. People like to be around ESFJs, because the ESFJ has a special gift of invariably making people feel good about themselves.

I am a cheerleader for others to the core and genuinely find great happiness in the success and happiness of others. (This analysis is almost entirely accurate. Except for the following the rules thing. I tend to throw a wrench in people’s vision of “rules” or “tradition.” Take the Memorado personality test (similar to Myers-Briggs) here.)

I couldn’t help myself…

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October // 2014

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“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – Anne of Green Gables

It’s been some time since I’ve picked up my camera and shot photos just because. For the joy. And the magic. And the inspiration of a moment.

It felt so good.

I awoke on Sunday morning, after another busy, long work weekend, to a misty, moody scene with a wall of oranges and yellows to counterbalance the gloom. Inspired, I jumped out of bed and dragged my children bedecked in tutus (made with love by Kaki’s FGM), and cozy sweaters and boots out to frolic among the dream-like scene. I adore the resulting images (and did a terrible job selecting down my favorites, so you’re about to behold quite the onslaught. Enjoy, MOM & DAD!)

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41/52

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“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Sunny: Loving her lumberjack boots from Momar. 

Kaki: Tutus and sweaters and Uggs. How we love fall! Tutus by Kaki’s FGM. Garden sweater pattern here

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here.

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“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Sunny: One of my favorite parts of our week is Sunday morning breakfast. We eat pancakes soaked in homemade maple syrup, drinking up those sun-drenched moments and reflecting on our week. This week we talked a great deal about Ursa, as one of our friend’s had to say goodbye to their beloved dog due to cancer on Friday. Our ever-pensive firstborn reflected, “I don’t think that I’ll ever know a dog with silkier ears or who loved tennis balls as much as Ursa.” And ain’t it the truth.

Kaki: “I loved Ursa SO MUCH!” (Her favorite phrase of late is “I love you SO MUCH!” (or declarations of SO MUCH love for other living creatures in our home. These declarations come unprompted, and they are an utter delight. While I highly doubt she has much memory of Ursa, it is sweet to see her join the conversation.)

And here is an excerpt of an email that James wrote to our friend the day after their dog’s passing. He has a heart of gold, that one:

In our house on Thursday night, all of dinner was spent talking about Ursa and all the things we loved about her. Some of which was what annoyed us most – barking at every slightly strange noise, her addiction to tennis balls, her propensity to vomit only on carpets (never hardwood or tile…) We of course rehashed all the positive wonderful things too, but the point was that we missed it all. I know you’re deep in that right now…. we got to remembering what the last months were like – cleaning the bandage multiple times a day, managing the restricted diets, activity levels, our own doggie pharmacy, etc. It didn’t bother us in the least to do it, and we’d do it all again if presented the option. It became routine to break our routine for the dog.

When we finally let Ursa go, all of my attention and months of preparation had been directed toward that moment. What would it be like? Of course it was as horrible, peaceful, relieving and saddening as expected. I’ll always remember it. I spent some two-three hours therapeutically digging the grave by hand excessively deep. It felt good. I was tired. There was something about how I felt after she was in the ground that made me feel much more at ease, and with relatively few tears I was able to sleep through the night.

I wasn’t expecting the next day to be as hard. Waking up and not having to do the routine – no pills, only one dog food bowl to fill, no bandages to change…and yet all the stuff was still there – the pills, the bowls, the boxes of bandages and tape and the special harness for walks. It was definitely just as hard.

Know that we were thinking about you Friday, but that we’re also thinking about you in the days, weeks, months and times that follow. There will never be a replacement for Oscar, and there will always be a part of you left with him. Eventually, you’ll reach a place when you can sit at the dinner table on some random Thursday night and smile about serving him 7 different types of food, or taking him to the vet every few days. Until then, just know that we’re thinking about you all and wishing you can find the positive in what can be an overwhelmingly negative world.

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here.

BG // 2

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The Poconos made it abundantly clear that they know a thing or two about a proper autumn display a la New England. It was stupidly beautiful at James’ parents’ cabin, and James and I relished some quality time with adults without the trappings (and I mean that most endearingly) of life with dependents.

While all of these photographs were taken outside during our time romping the dogs down by the lake, the majority of the weekend was spent curled up by the fireplace, beer in hand. As captured so perfectly by our friend, “It was so relaxing, so enjoyable, and so delightful to be able to hang out, chat, cook, eat, drink, merrymake, and kibbitz.” And indeed it was.

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Me + The Goose

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My colleague snapped this photo of me and my Gladdy Goose on Mountain Day and I just love it so. Such a loving, sweet, wacky pup. I can’t imagine my life without the Flat-Coat spirit.