Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Caution: Interact At Your Own Peril


Today at yoga was discouraging. One of those days where I flop on the mat and although I am noticeably more bendy and definitely stronger, my mind is a flabby mess that has learned nothing. I felt impatient and mentally inflexible and stuck. Judgmental as hell: of myself, the class, everything.

This is one of those learning times, I suppose, where I am supposed to push through and have the act of pushing through be the lesson. I did, but as I "You asshole!d" my way home afterwards behind drivers who should not have been on the road I just felt pissy, tired, and not refreshed.

I don't guess it's all hearts and flowers on this path, but today will most likely be one of those days where I fake my way through every interaction. The stress of the move, the heaviness of missing Dane in a whole new way these days, thinking too much about the flood of money pouring out of my pockets as we complete our multi-stage move: these things all caught up with me at 4 a.m. and just won't let go.

So if you see me coming, you might want to pretend you didn't and just back away slowly.

(This public service announcement brought to you by the numbers 666 and the letters fuck the hell off)

Image by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice: This Little Light Of Mine


Summer Solstice.

We celebrate the arrival of the summer on June 21st, the longest day of the year, but really, what happens is the opposite. With each day after the first day of the summer, we lose minutes of sunshine, all the way up to December 21st, the shortest day of the year, when the light begins to return.

When I had horses, it was all about holding on until December 21st. Trudging in the darkness at 5:30, feeding, watering, and blanketing horses, headlamp bobbing a beam of weak light through the woods, I would keep muttering to myself, "Hold on until the 21st. Just hold on." Same routine, same mantra, morning and night, until the return of the sun. From the first day of summer on, it was a straight trudge into darkness, both literal and figurative.

But now.

My very favorite yoga teacher, Cindy Olah of Sacred Garden Yoga, always makes me think when I hit the mat (and hold Warrior II for far too long, but that is a totally separate issue). Last night she talked about the solstice and pointed out that truly, the light resides in us.


Okay, and a little New Age-y, I will admit, but it feels true to me.

We don't always get out of the way and let it shine, but that doesn't even matter. Even when we are at our darkest, the light exists in us. We don't need to push or force or any of that. Just SHINE. Let go. Get out of your own fucking way.

Very hard, lovelies. I know.

But this little light of mine? I'm gonna let it shine.

I hope to get the hell out of my own way, and I think I have done admirably in the past few months. So much to see when you allow yourself the time and space to evolve.

If you let go, what would shine in you? Who would you be or what would you do if you knew you could not fail? Please share your answer in the comments. I'd love to see a conversation bubble.

Enjoy your long day. Let it shine.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Maker Faire at the White House

So La Petite Maison went to the White House.

THE White House. You know, where the president lives.

We just got back from a whirlwind four days in DC, then Delaware. I am having a hard time processing in my head that the little blue house was parked under the east portico of the big White House. From the number of visitors, I would guess that many other people were having a hard time also.

Some photos.

Leaving for the White House.

Off to WH

Teal Brown of Wishbone Tiny Homes hauled for us, and we could not have done it without him. He took care of our house like it was his own. You should go check out his work. Gorgeous. There are some pix of the house traveling, including two awesome dudes who worked on the wiring on the house at a truck stop in North Carolina, grinning from ear to ear in front of it, but Teal has those. I will add them here later.

Secret Service, checking us out.

Secret Servive Screening

For obvious reasons, we didn't take a ton of pix here. I will say that the security people were awesome. They were way less intimidating than I expected, although I have no doubt they would slam you to the ground in a heartbeat if that were necessary.

Thankfully, it was not, and La Petite Maison was backed up and into the east portico.

House Arrives

Again, Teal was amazing. It was a very, very tight fit at places, and he did amazingly well. So well that people commented about his skill. Seriously. Cannot sing his praises enough!

Set up began. You don't really need to see the sweaty mess that was us, but when we took a break in the east reception room, we were thoroughly tickled to look out the window of the FREAKING WHITE HOUSE and see this:

View Goofy

Bo and Sunny came to check us out.

Bo an dSunny

And we managed a somewhat less sweaty group shot on the steps at the end of set up.


And then the morning of.


Tons of different people were there, including and Bill Nye.

Sicily and Bill Nye

We had awesome seats for the president's speech but then got moved to the back for the fancy people. Still happy to be there.


The president was talking about changing high schools to reflect the maker spirit, and I wanted to stand up and scream, "I'm right back here!! There is an example of me having done that already outside the east wing!!!"

I thought the Secret Service might be less friendly if I did that, though, so I decided not to.

And finally, leaving the White House...

Leaving the WH

...and moving La Petite Maison to Delaware.


(The site isn't done. There will be a slab and a gravel driveway. We are not in love with it, but it was a long, long day, and it will do for now. And this isn't the point of the post. So more on that later).

What an amazing day. I still cannot quite believe that 72 hours ago we were hanging in the White House. The Office of Science and Technology people were amazing; Kay (spelling of your name? I don't know, and I am sorry!!) gave us a private tour at the end of the set up day, just because we had never been, and everyone kept checking on us to make sure we hadn't melted and got everything we needed.

We didn't meet the president, and I have to say, I think it is his loss, not because we are so fabulous but because I think the tiny house movement is here to stay, and he had a prime opportunity to be out in front of that.  LPM was built as a school project (that is possible to replicate) and is a prime example of making and doing and STEAM education.

You are welcome in Delaware anytime, Mr. President. Bring bug spray.

If you want to stay local and check out an example of how tiny houses might work in a city, stop by Boneyard Studios. They would be happy to have you also.

The other exhibitors had unbelievable projects. We didn't get to see all of them, but we were able to talk to a few people. You can check them out here.

Now it is runrunrunrunrunrun for the next step of our move north, but wow. So much of the good things, as Sicily would say.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Movie Review: The Fault in Our Stars


When an author sells the rights to make his wildly popular book into a movie, the chance for betraying the book on film is high. Although the deal can be quite lucrative and potentially garner a wider audience for both the book and future movies, it seems tragic that often the dollar signs get in the way of making a quality movie that honors the book. Thankfully, joyfully, this is not the case with The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS). John Green has supervised the making of a movie that is both filled with musings on death and celebrations of life without condescending to his young adult audience.

TFIOS stars is the story of 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lawrence, who is in a stalemate with cancer thanks to a trial cancer drug, and Augustus Waters, who has given up a leg to beat his cancer. They meet at a cancer support group that is, of all things, funny, and they fall in love, " [they] fall asleep: slowly, then all at once." There is a confrontation in Amsterdam.  No spoilers in this review; you'll have to see what happens.

The best part of this movie is that it acknowledges the importance of loving big while you have the chance, recognizing that "pain must be felt" when it happens, the same way that love cannot be ignored. In many movies, adolescent love is portrayed as temporary and unreal; in TFIOS, it is an act of defiance, spitting in the face of loss and taking advantage of what precious time humans have on earth.

Some reviewers have called the film manipulative in that there is a carefully orchestrated soundtrack and a montage at the end that utilizes hazily filmed flashbacks and perfectly timed lyrics. It would feel manipulative if the story were not so true to the book. The parts that are left out are few and deftly handled in the film; you don't miss what's not there, and the story holds up.

Shailene Woodley does an excellent job as Hazel Grace, portraying her perfect no-bullshit approach with a mix of strength and vulnerability, and Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters is the perfect choice for the role. Their chemistry together is undeniable, and it plays as age-old intimacy onscreen.

Yes, the movie is a tearjerker. It may be difficult to explain to kids under 12, and there are adult themes (struggling with death is just one), but this is the kind of movie that you could see at several stages in life and get something different out of it each time. Who we are in this world, who we love, how we live: these are big questions in the movie, and the answers do not disappoint.

The New Black


I spent 60 seconds upside-down yesterday.

In a handstand.

Away from the wall.

The yoga teacher instructed us to fearlessly and courageously set ourselves up. I did, and on the second kick, up I went. I was so shocked I almost fell over.

For some of you, this is no big deal. You may spend the vast majority of your life, fearlessly and courageously upside-down. Maybe a handstand is no big deal.

For me, it's huge.

Like the first time I did crow pose, which seems easy but was not for me, this handstand (and the one after it. Had to make sure it wasn't a fluke) represents faith and trust in myself and my ability to support myself. It required a willingness to go into it whole-heartedly. It required belief.

In the end, it was almost accidental. Which seems to be the story of all of the changes that are happening in my life over the past year and a half.

Courage and fearlessness. It's the new black.

Image by Nishanth Jois via Flickr

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Food Stadium

An old, previously unpublished blog on the wonder that was the food stadium Sicily and I created for this past Superbowl. Serious World Cup food stadium potential this summer!


Food Stadium

Food stadium. Depending on who you are these two words either strike terror in your heart or fill your soul with bubbles. Either way, these marvels of modern food architecture area paeans to gluttony at the height of sports indulgence, but I like to do things a little differently. For Superbowl XLVIII, I constructed a politically correct, Seahawks-focused stadium complete with gluten-free snacks, plenty of sugary treats and humanely raised chicken wings (well, chickens humanely raised and processed into, among other things, wings). Our veggies were organic, our dips varied, and, with the exception of our “cars,” “bleachers,” and “attendees,” everything was house-made.


I started with a firm base. Every stadium in the NFL has four corners, and ours were green peppers filled with two dips, black olives and sweet fire pickles. Okay, so the olives were from a jar, but the buffalo cheese dip, garlic goat cheese spread, and sweet and spicy bread and butter pickles were 100% my own.

The Field

The field was, of course, guacamole, because more avocados are sold on this day than any other day of the year so it honors a tradition, but also because any other dip that’s green has probably been in your ‘fridge for too long. Sure, you could go spinach, but in mixed company who wants to worry about what is stuck in their teeth? I lined the field with sour cream and was ready for kickoff.

The Stands

Did you know that you can buy both organic crispy rice cereal and organic marshmallows? Welcome to the first level of the stands: crispy rice treats. Piled on some brownies in a stair-step pattern, added a few Kit-Kats for step definition (wouldn’t want any drunken patrons falling into the guac), and I had a stadium constructed on time and under budget. I used mint chips for the fans (Go, Seahawks!), but feel free to use those nasty pumpkin-colored chips you have stashed in the cupboard from two Halloweens ago if you are a Broncos fan. You already made one bad choice; why not make another?

Goal Posts and Players

Pretzels tend to melt in moisture, and the last thing I needed during a clutch 54-yard game-winning field goal was soggy goal posts. I used nitrite-free sausage sticks (sounds a little dirty, but that’s a whole different blog) to construct the uprights and anchored them in cheese, cleverly hidden in the guac of the end zones. John Madden provided inspiration for player design (olive X’s and O’s), but you could use mini carrots with little helmets. If you had that much time on your hands, you could also paint the team logos in each end zone and solve world hunger. Keep it simple.

Tarting the Whole Thing Up

The rest is just beautifying your stadium. We hung the 12th man flag, used broccoli for bushes, added pretzel and potato chips, and made a parking lot out of mini candy bars. Time expired before we could get to the celery stick walkways and carrot stick metal detector/turnstile combos, but that’s in development for next year. Also a cotton candy blimp. Might make the aerial shots a bit clearer.  Our chicken wings didn't make it in time for the big game, but they provided the half-time entertainment, slathered in Carolina barbecue sauce (vinegary tang) and dressed in bleu cheese.

Whether you buy your construction materials or make them yourself, a food stadium is a spectacular twist on a Superbowl feast!