On Sunday we planted



Here's my sweetpea, carefully planting lettuce.


:: read the rest of planting


Catawba Chicken Coop Plans

My Chicken Ark was a great success. It was challenging, but not hard, and we are all very proud of it.

Just in case you are thinking of building a CatawbaCoops Chicken Ark, here is my advice.

  • buy 1 more length of 1x4 than called for.
  • skip the whole angle iron business and simple get some 1x1 from the trim department.
  • skip the difficult-to-cut and easily-split shims and find something to substitute in the trim department.
  • if you live in the Pacific Northwest, make sure that any part that will touch the ground is cedar


:: read the rest of Catawba Chicken Coop Plans


my peeps

my peeps
their home and my #1 helper

:: read the rest of my peeps



Have any of you used Skype? What do you think?


:: read the rest of skype


Chicken Coop


:: read the rest of Chicken Coop


so tired

This construction gig is exhausting. I think I 'll keep my day job. Today's pics.
We want to make sure that you notice that, when the sidepieces are on, we are level.  Here is a close-up of the happy bubble.

We got the handles done, and the sides.  I just forgot to get pics.


:: read the rest of so tired


Building my Chicken Coop

I've decided that, since I hurt all the time anyway from arthritis, I may as well ignore it and get something done. And, I have baby chickies to house.

I ordered the plans last night and went to the lumber store midday and started building.

Two phone calls to my Best Friend's Husband, one call to my son's shop teacher, one visit to the neighbor for a jig saw, one (scary) excursion to our own barn for a miter saw later, we got going.

My first cut on the miter saw. Notice that impressive 60 degree angle.

And here we are with the frame and the deck. Getting the deck attached was a pain; good thing I had such good helpers.

If you want to know more about how to build such an elegant chicken ark, just follow this link for a detailed materials list and step-by-step instructions. It's not ark, as in Noah's Ark, but ark as in Ark of the Covenant, with the handles sticking out the front and back.

We did lose one baby chick today. We were not surprised as he/she had been looking poorly since morning, not moving about, or eating or drinking. I had warned the kids that this can happen. They were pretty stoic. I think that holding the funeral when we were all cold and hungry helped hold the maudlin theatrics at bay.

If you are wondering where My Gift From a Generous God is in all of this, he is studying for a big exam and I promised him he wouldn't have to build anything for the chickens.

And Mina asked about breeds: 3 Rhode Island Reds, and 4 Polish Crested (2 blond and 2 black and blond).

:: read the rest of Building my Chicken Coop

Emotionally Weird

Have you ever wondered about the life an English major at a second-rate British university? One with a convoluted family history, a loser boy-friend, and a novel in progress, all wrapped up with a dog-napping and a couple of mysteries and murders (or not)?

If so, you are in luck, as Kate Atkinson delivers this and more, so much more, in Emotionally Weird: A Novel.

I liked it. Again, it's beach reading, and I mean that in a good way.

If only I had a beach in my future.~Suzanne

:: read the rest of Emotionally Weird

Chicken Coop Plans

I am going to hoist myself out of the doldrums by an ambitious and impossible project. I'll start with these plans and proceed from there. Stay tuned.

click here to see how the coop turned out


:: read the rest of Chicken Coop Plans


peep peep peep

Two of these.
and two of these.

And four of these.
The last 4 will look like this when they grow up.


:: read the rest of peep peep peep


still here

Still here. Back still hurts. Hail still falling. Nothing to say but BLECH.


:: read the rest of still here


The Guernsy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

My Mom loaned The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to me. Twas a delightful read. It is clever, and charming, and fun. It's not a deep meaningful book that changed my life, but it was certainly a nice diversion.

Set on the island of Guernsy, a British island occupied by the Nazis during WWII, the characters are quirky and the plots and subplots are engaging. I liked it. It's a beach read, and I mean that in the nicest way.


:: read the rest of The Guernsy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


The Grass so little has to do

The Grass so little has to do

The Grass so little has to do –
A Sphere of simple Green –
With only Butterflies to brood
And Bees to entertain –

And stir all day to pretty Tunes
The Breezes fetch along –
And hold the Sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything –

And thread the Dews, all night, like Pearls –
And make itself so fine
A Duchess were too common
For such a noticing –

And even when it dies – to pass
In Odors so divine –
Like Lowly spices, lain to sleep –
Or Spikenards, perishing –

And then, in Sovereign Barns to dwell –
And dream the Days away,
The Grass so little has to do
I wish I were a Hay –
~ by Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

listen to the poem

Yes, I want to be hay too.

Here is the coding if you want a button with a link to this week's round-up.

:: this post is part of the Friday Poetry roundup hosted by Miss Rumphius Effect.


:: read the rest of The Grass so little has to do


back pain

Nice doctor gave me a shot of an anti-inflammatory and within an hour I was significantly better, though a bit loopy. He also gave me a Rx for Vicodin for evenings. So, I think I might live after all.


:: read the rest of back pain


works for me: organizing email

I have different email accounts for my different hats. They all feed (are automatically fowarded) into one gmail account. As they arrive, they are automatically tagged (thanks to gmail's filtering abilities) based on where they came from.

Emails arriving on my work account are tagged "School"
Emails arriving on my friends & family account are tagged "Personal"
Emails arriving on my political account are tagged "GOP"

Within each I have a few more filters, i.e. Adoption Listserves are tagged "Adoption" and so forth.

So, I have a really full gmail inbox which I rarely open, because I have everything in it forwarded to yet another account which I read on my iTouch. I read emails as they arrive, and either delete them immediately if nothing is needed of me or leave in the Inbox if I need to take action.

In the evening, I sit down with my 'puter and my iTouch and look at what is left in the inbox. I find the corresponding email in my mongo gmail account and tag it "TASK", then I delete it from the iTouch inbox. That's all I do. Just Tag it in one place and delete it in the other. This keeps my portable email lean and quick to load and I don't get sucked into responding to the first one I see when there are other, more pressing ones, awaiting.

Then, when I have time, I open my mongo file and click on TASK. All the tasks awaiting me are assembled for me. I can easily scan them and see which is most urgent or most tardy or whatever. As I complete the task, I remove the TASK tag and that email reverts to is original folder in case I need it later.

And if ever I need to find an email, I just click on the corresponding tag and can usually find it right away.

So basically, I let automatic filters do my filing for me. I read email on my iTouch and I type email once-a-day on my big computer.


:: read the rest of works for me: organizing email


I am so done with this.

:: read the rest of I am so done with this.

Christian Fiction worth reading

Over at Book Nook Club, one of my fellow book reviewers eloquently ranted about the dearth of quality Christian fiction. It made me want to make up a list of good Christian reads.

Yes, yes, I know, a book can't have a relationship with Christ, so the adjective is not accurately used. But I think you know what I mean: works that are written from a world-view that is consistent with Christianity. That's just such a mouthful.

Anyway, I started my list and only got this far; what would you add?

Anything by C. S. Lewis
Anything by George MacDonald
Anything by J.R.R. Tolkien
Anything by Dorothy Sayers

Father Elijah: An Apocalyps, by Michael O'Brien
Byzantium, by Stephen Lawhead

I'm adding to this list as we go, so don't fault my commenters for mentioning things that are already on the list. They weren't on the list at the time of comment. (I swear, though, that I had Tolkien, but he disappeared).


:: read the rest of Christian Fiction worth reading


Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca

Loved it. If you appreciated Wilkie Collin's The Woman in White, you will enjoy Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. Young love. Old love. A beach cottage with its own village idiot (or is he?). A beautiful, beloved, deceased first wife (or is she?). The intimidating Mrs. Danvers, house-keeper with an agenda. And our own dear heroine, penniless and without prospects or a name. Literally, we never do learn her name.

Want to get away from your late winter humdrums? Off to Manderley with you.

:: read the rest of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca


dogs and kids

Have you ever lived with a dog from an dominance-oriented breed? One that -- though it loves you -- is always angling for the take-over? Our beloved Akita is like this and every 4-5 years I have to take her on and reestablish that she is not in line for the position of beta dog. (My husband is -- in doggie eyes -- alpha and I am beta).

With a dog, I know how to do this. If they are sleeping in your path, don't go around, but poke them until they get up. If it's really bad (and you are sure they won't bite you) hold their muzzle to the ground until their body languages shows that they submit. Our Akita is a senior citizen now, and has not made a bid for my spot for quite awhile.

My son, on the other hand, has apparently decided that I am ready for retirement. And I don't have any idea what the parenting equivalent is of holding his muzzle to the ground.


:: read the rest of dogs and kids


The Gathering by Anne Enright

So I am trying to read a Man Booker Prize 2007 winner, The Gathering: A Novel, by Anne Enright and I'm not getting it. The narrative jumps are not merely enigmatic, or provocative in a reader-brings-meaning sort of way, but merely random. It reminds me of James Joyce, whose own dear wife asked him why he couldn't write "sensible books that people can understand."

I wanted to continue, as the characters were interesting. Here one says,

I think I will die of unfairness; I think I will be written on my death certificate.

I could like this person. I would like to know what happens to her. But I just got too confused.

And this:

And what amazes me as I hit the motorway is not the fact that everyone loses someone,but that everyone loves someone. It seems like such a massive waste of energy -- and we all do it, all the people beetling along between the white lines, merging, converging, overtaking. We each love someone, even though they will die. And we keep loving them, even when they are not there to love any more. And there is no logic or use to any of this, that I can see.

That is interesting. I try to carry on, but the story doesn't hold together for me.

I put the book down; I glance at the back cover: Enright is from Dublin too. What is it with the Irish?

Have you read this book? Do you read James Joyce? Can you give me a clue?

:: read the rest of The Gathering by Anne Enright



We went to church this morning. I have a hard time with church. Here are some of my notes from this morning ( I jot them down and hand them to my husband who nods cryptically at me).

"Hair-on-head: Hyperbole"
The service opened with a short message about how awesome our God is cause He knows the number of hairs on our heads. Number of hairs x number of people = really big number = awesomeness factor.

BUT, the Bible was written in languages that rely on hyperbole, and as such, should not be taken literally. So this is like having a passage of scripture that includes the words "at the drop of a hat" and then making a big deal about the hat. I would argue that the hairs on the head bit is a poetic device saying that God knows us intimately.

I really don't have an opinion on whether He is a hair-counter or not. I think that focusing on the hair-counting is missing the message: that God knows us and attends to the details of our lives. Somehow that message didn't get included in the math and the bald-jokes and the awesomeness of it all.

"I feel like a fraud."
Whilst everyone is standing and singing songs that are mostly about feelings am I the only one whose only feeling is that of being a fraud as I stand there mouthing the words about feelings?

I have beliefs and convictions; the whole feeling thing mystifies me. In fact, the only feelings I was having was that of peevishness about the aforementioned hairy awesomeness and the requisite guilt associated with feeling peevish in church.

"What exactly do missionaries DO all day?"
Today was missionary day, where a missionary stands up and tells us about his life. I have missionary-allergies, having seen too many of them stay at my Mom's house and basically milk her for goodies. I have developed a very robust cynicism. So this guy stands up and I jot down, "What exactly do missionaries DO all day?"

To my delight and dismay, he proceeds to tell us: He sits in coffee shops and drinks coffee with people. Missionaries who run medical clinics and organize soup lines and so forth will get my donations. They are feeding the poor and housing the sick in the name of the Lord and it's likely that for the recipients, these missionaries' good deeds are the only Bible they will ever see.

But I just don't see the Biblical mandate for socializing -- excuse me, I'm supposed to call it 'investing in relationships' -- and even if there is a mandate, this guy can get a job and work shoulder-to-shoulder with other guys and invest in relationships that way. I am not donating to support him (and his wife and 3 kids and their tutor) in idleness.

"Jay Leno"
That's what missionary guy looked like.

I heard the little 'new mail' tone from my iTouch. Probably a good idea to switch the router off during the service. I'm just saying . . .

So, do you see why we don't often go to church? I walk in all confident that God loves me and Christ died to save me and that the details of my life are known to God and that He cares for me. And I walk out feeling like I had better keep my mouth shut.

On the bright side, I did get the outline done for a new children's book project I am working on.


:: read the rest of Church


hope for America

DIY Chicken Coop!

me! me! me!

Here I chatter about books, parenting, election 2008, recipes, teaching college writing, and the adventures of getting settled in with our two freshly (Fall 06) adopted school-age children from Russia. This blog is chapter two; chapter one is posted at Jamie & Suzanne go to Russia. I live in the City of Subdued Excitement, Cascadia, Land of the Free.

I am the wife of a man I call My Gift from a Generous God. I am mama to two lovely children, Dandy and Chickadee that became ours in September 2006 in a court-room in Siberia. I am the daughter of two people whom I love and admire. One of them, my dad, is a new (Dec 06) paraplegic.

In my previous life (B.C. - before children), I was a college English teacher, specializing in composition and ESL composition.

:: click here to read my 8 things meme



older child adoption


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This blog started life as hackosphere's neo and has been heavily tweaked and widgetized by Suzanne :: I got all the coding for the peek-a-boo posts over at hackosphere :: All my pretty little icons came from famfamfam :: The coding for the rotating banners came from Vince Liu :: The very cool tabbed sidebar widgets are thanks to the very cool hoctro :: The fun "Feeling Lucky?" toy -- which is currently disabled -- came from phydeaux3 (fido 3?) :: The pretty label cloud also came from phydeaux3 :: The elegant and easy to install related posts widget came from Jackbook :: I got all the social bookmarking icons nicely packaged for me at the aptly named Social Bookmarking Script Generator :: The 3 column footer came from Technodia :: The pretty sliding photo galleries are from CSSplay :: The recent comments widget is from Hackosphere::