Much Ado About Poo

Everyone is excited about fair season here in Washington. Seems every other week there’s a county fair, state fair, city fair. But the best event of all is … wait for it … the upcoming Fall Fecal Fest. No shit. No, I am not shitting you. It’s a festival of poo.

It’s obviously a big deal because you can’t just go and purchase the doodoo, you have to put your name into a lottery. THEN you have the chance to purchase an alarming amount of zoo doo – ranging from hippo, giraffe, zebra or if you want mass quantities, elephant feces. If you want a big old pail – 4 gallons – you can only get it during the holidays, and it’s aptly named “Holidoo.” I’m rushing to the site right now to put my name on the waiting list.

New this year is worm doo. It’s more pricey than Holidoo – which goes for $20 for the 4 gallons. Worm doo is $10 a pint. You must be able to pan for gold in worm poop. All that excitement over excrement makes this former city girl’s head spin.

I am learning but I still cringe when Brad wants to take our truck and trailer over to the cow farm to get ripe manure. I think, dear God, the neighbors will shoot us if we cover our 16 acres in a steaming mass of … well, you get the picture. But no. They cheer him on. I keep trying to tell them “do NOT encourage him” but they think it’s a grand old idea and even encourage him to go to the sheep farm down the street, because sheep really make superior fertilizer.

I’m all over having a productive garden. I haven’t had to buy vegetables in a month. And I think that’s grand. I think Brad should make use of all the poo our chickens produce. And chickens do poo. Lots of it. But it’s all mixed in with straw and doesn’t smell. I’ve driven past the sheep farm. Sheep poo smells to high heaven. I just can’t get past that gag factor.

But poo has become a major topic of discussion around these parts. I am truly trying to assimilate, but there are some things I just can’t make myself do. I can’t call our creek a crick, and I can’t carry on long conversations about things that should remain unmentionable.

When we first “set aspell” with our neighbors after we moved here (it’s a year  since we moved to Washington country and started Reluctant Farm) our neighbor said “oh, I’ll have to make you some worm tea.
wormteaNo. Really, thanks but no. I mean, it’s nice of you, but please no. I really, really love tea. I mean tea is, well, my cup of tea.

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Please please please don’t ruin it for me…

A week later we were gifted with a worm bin, from which to extract worm tea. I haven’t participated in the extraction process, as I truly feel my strengths lie elsewhere. Anywhere else. But Brad adores his worm bin, faithfully feeds it coffee grounds every day, and uses the worm tea for the garden.

So my visions of sitting on my veranda, sipping my elegant Lady Grey tea, looking out at the sunrise and rolling green hills on our property has taken a back seat to the harsh reality of sitting on the porch, breathing through my mouth because my whole front yard will smell like sheep shit.

Because Christmas comes but once a year, I have a scathingly brilliant idea for Brad’s gift this year. Because I love my husband like crazy. And yes, it’s bigger than a bread box …

holidoo

 

You smell …

I love my hairstylist. I drive 40 minutes just to get my hair trimmed by Michele. She is young, vibrant, gorgeous – a tiny trim thing with bright green eyes and glorious blonde hair falling in waves down her back. The kind of person that would stop a man in his tracks, just to look at her. I would stop to look at her. And I don’t swing that way.

I mean, my mother used to say that I was “boy crazy from the womb.” And really, what kind of thing is “boy crazy?” That I turned into a raving lunatic and ripped my hair out by the roots when a person of the opposite sex entered the house? Followed them, drooling, from room to room?

I do know that as young as 5, there were two men I was in love with. One was my Swiss grandfather. Because he was quirky. He cussed and hid cigarettes in his left hand shirt pocket so my grandmother wouldn’t find them.

The other man I fell deeply in love with, at age 5, was Ricky Ricardo. No shit. I dreamed of Ricky Ricardo when I wasn’t dreaming of Mighty Mouse. That may also explain some of the bad boyfriend choices I made in my 20s. But that’s a whole different blog, one I would be ill advised to write with small children present.

Last month Michele was trimming my unruly mop, smiled sweetly and said “you have your own well, don’t you?” Wow – aside from being everything I would ever want to be,  she’s also a mystic. “Yes, I have my own well. How could you have known that?”

“Well, Susan, I can smell you.”

“OMG” I squealed.” I smell?”

Michele tried to backtrack and said “oh, really, I’m sure nobody else notices. I just notice every time I wash your hair. It smells like iron. But it’s really not that bad. Just, well, a really strong iron smell.”

I’m doomed. I don’t have much going for me. I have 2 bad ankles that consistently twist during inopportune times. Like when I walked into the Amphitheater in Hollywood during a Beach Boys Revival concert, hands full of drinks, and fell down the first flight of stairs, in a packed house.

Or when I was running with the dog, twisted my ankle, tripped, tried to get my feet back under me by running, but couldn’t do it in time before I slammed my head into the steel posts holding up our backyard gazebo.

Or when I went for a walk with my husband at our Fijian resort, stepped on a tiny coconut, fell on the gravel, hurt my knee and fainted when my husband tried to get me up. It took years before I could convince him that I wasn’t prone to fits, I didn’t have a life altering illness or any kind of communicable disease that had reached my frontal cortex.

I don’t have any kind of noticeable skill. I’m not clever or crafty. And I can’t fall back on my looks, because I’d be falling a long, long way. I have intelligence and a personality, which some may find attractive but sarcasm and smarts from a girl who trips in her own kitchen and smacks her face into the front of the refrigerator doesn’t quite cut it.

What I have are good hair (if cut right), good skin and strong teeth and bones.

And now I find that my hairstylist probably cringes and backs away in revulsion at the rusty nail smell I seem to ooze from every pore.

I smell. I don’t smell like a garden of earthly delights. Of  cucumber lime body wash. Or of  lemon basil body spray. Or even of the pina colada shampoo I used that morning. I smell like something that’s been putrefying for a year – since I started cleaning myself with the age old detritus that was lying in wait, in my well. The flotsam and jetsam that was streaming down upon my innocent self every single day for an entire year.

I smell.

And it’s not one of those “oh, she lives on a farm and has chickens” kind of forgivable smell. It’s one of those smells that you can’t quite put your finger on. Iron. Is it a metallic iron smell? Do I smell like a bloody piece of calves liver? Or like the undead?

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These are things I think I need to know. I asked my friend Bridget, and she only told me “you need to get a whole house filter Susan. You can’t get iron out of your body without a blood transfusion!”

BLOOD TRANSFUSION?

You mean I can’t just go to the beauty supply store and get a stronger scented lotion and shampoo? I have to actually pay to have someone clean out my blood?

I told Brad that we IMMEDIATELY need to get a whole house filter before my fingertips started falling off. And since I actually make a living by writing stuff, we’d both be broke, retire, and sit on the side of the freeway with signs saying “will sing for a salami sandwich.”

His advice? “You need to get another hair stylist.”

I’m so screwed.

Put that candle someplace else!

Yes, I had another birthday.

Because I live a lot of the time in my head, I tend to have random thoughts that make perfect sense to me, but sound like gibberish to some less enlightened individuals who don’t share my superior intellect.

But I was thinking, you know, birthdays are really kind of a strange ritual. I mean, someone says “oh, it’s your birthday today! Happy Birthday.” And you are congratulated for what? For being born 35 years ago on the same day. So, Ok, it’s not 35 years, but we’re dealing with hypotheticals here.

But the point is, we are being lauded for a process that we had absolutely nothing to do with. When in actuality, it should be our mothers who are congratulated for their part in our birth process. I mean, really, did any of us “ask to be born?” No. And by the way, I never, ever said those words to my parents. Friends did – when they’d get in trouble, they’d yell “Well, I never asked to be born.” I never said it because I was afraid my parents would then say “OK, we can fix that.” I wasn’t the most charming child. I had my reasons.

I don’t care for a lot of pomp and circumstance. The whole candle blowing, singing, having a restaurant stop in mid air and wish you a happy day? No thanks. I hate it. I don’t know how to respond. “Thank you, I did it all by myself”?

This is something that I thought was strange for a long time. I’ve looked at my birthday photos, and most of the time I either look bossy (because everyone MUST do things the right way – which is obviously my way) or slightly peeved.

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Yes, I’m at the head of the table, and I am annoyed. First I’m wearing a stupid hat, and even at 5 I hated hats. Second, because there are an overabundance of boys at the table, and third, it means that I have to share MY cake. Even then I thought birthday parties were odd.

This year, I wanted it on the lowdown. My husband has known me since 7th grade. We’ve been married for 28 years. So he KNOWS me. But he also thinks he can “fix” me.

For my birthday, I wanted nothing more than to be swept out of the house, and to a “nice corner table for two” at a restaurant where the napkins were cloth, the plates were not paper, the wine came out of a bottle with a cork, the food artfully presented and appealing to all the senses, and there would be cake. Discreetly dropped off at my table.

Because, while I hate the pomp and circumstance, I love me some cake. Not a cake lit up like the Forth of July, with Crisco frosting. The kind that coats the top of your mouth for the next millennium with sprinkles that chip your molars and cake that dries your mouth until you yell “MORE WINE PLEASE”.

white cake

But maybe a classic dark chocolate cake with a delicate mousse filling drizzled with raspberry coulis. Yeah, I’d eat that all day.

cake

And if you threw in a coupon for a massage, I would be every so grateful …

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But this is a birthday for City Susan. City Susan is no longer. She may live, forever, in my heart, but this year was my first birthday as the Reluctant Farm Girl. And the Reluctant Farm Girl has boots in the garage that have hay and chicken poop on the bottoms, shirts stained with blueberries, and a diamond ring that sits in a safe, not on her finger.

“I have a confession to make” said Brad, 2 days before my birthday. “I invited the neighbors over for a barbecue on your birthday.”

A barbecue.

There are 5 reasons I like barbecue:

1. It’s cooked outside so there are no pots for me to clean

2. It’s cooked outside so in the summer it doesn’t heat up the house

3. It’s cooked by someone else because I can’t barbecue

4. Most fish tastes better grilled, and I love fish

5. I can’t think of another damn reason I like barbecue because, in reality, I’m not a fan of the “Q.” Because it mainly consists of hamburgers and hot dogs, or maybe a charred piece of chicken. Not really elevated cuisine, especially on one’s birthday.

bbq

While I wasn’t over the moon about my husband’s birthday plans for him, I remained mute. Mainly because, this year in January, I totally forgot his birthday. I mean, zip. In my defense, we were in Texas, getting ready to do a big promotion to a large travel agency, and I didn’t sleep well in the hotel the night before, and was extremely nervous about said presentation. So I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of having to eat burnt food for my birthday. In my backyard. With paper plates. And plastic cups. And a cooler full of Bud Light, which I don’t drink.  Or having to vacuum the house and clean the kitchen before the neighbors came.

And, by the way, several years before Brad completely forgot my birthday. So while it doesn’t excuse my lack of manners, it does even the score, don’t you think?

So my birthday came, I put on make up and a colorful summer dress, all the while thinking that I SO deserved better. I deserved a pedicure and a night on the town. In a town that had Michelin rated restaurants. Or at least Zagat rated.

The “cue” was smoking, Brad was cooking, and the neighbors showed up. Bearing cards saying that I was the best neighbor ever, bearing gifts from the country – a “nectar plant” to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, pounds of salmon from their recent trip to Alaska, fresh frozen halibut, a pot of homemade beans, and wide as a country mile smiles.

And, yeah. I liked it. I want to kick myself, but I liked it. I liked the beans, the bush, the fish, and the sense of community. I liked knowing that my neighbors care. I like actually knowing my neighbors. And, in the long run, that’s what life is all about. Being with people who make you feel loved and who make you glad you live where you live, and who accept you, chicken poop on your shoes and all.

I got an ice cream cake. With an oreo crust. And I ate it for breakfast. Because it was my birthday. And because I could.

And next year … I want that damn massage!

But … can she cook?

I’m a bit of an oddity for my generation, in that I never learned to cook at my mother’s knee. I never baked cookies with her at Christmas, nor kneaded bread, nor shelled peas, nor shucked corn. There was no shucking in the Bronx. My mother was a career woman until the fateful day I was hanging in the alley with the homeboys at age 5, and we all decided to climb atop a lion’s head that graced the entrance to a building.

I followed, of course, because that’s what I did. I may have been a natural born leader at one point, but as a bright child soon figured out that being a leader only got me in trouble. Like the time that the boys were bugging me as I was walking up the stairs to our brownstone. I decided to pull down my pants and stick out my bare butt to scare them off. In retrospect, probably not my finest moment, but at 5, it seemed like a good idea. Of course, as I grew I came to realize that showing body parts was not the smartest way to ward off the opposite sex. But that’s a whole other story.

Anyway, I climbed up the lion and, to much taunting, jumped like everyone else. But everyone else was a boy. Wearing dungarees. I was a girl. And my Momma raised me to wear little plaid short skirts with anklets and patent leather shoes. I hit a rock, my leg split open and the next day my mother put in her notice. I was obviously no longer to be trusted in the alleys of New York.

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Ok, so it wasn’t actually this same lion, but damn near close.

For some reason, I was not embraced to join my mother’s mysterious world in the kitchen. Probably because knives were involved and I was an unknown. I was categorized as “unpredictable.” In a scary, horror movie kind of way. My mother saw the movie “Bad Seed” and never looked at me the same way. So I was never around matches, nor anything sharp. I don’t think I was allowed to cut my own food until I was 16.

At 15 I was finally invited to help Mom. She had 3 kids under the age 5, so it was with resignation that she said I should make dinner once a month. I did learn to make two dishes so I would rotate between tuna noodle casserole with potato chips on top, and hamburger casserole with Fritos on top. My one and only seasoning, for years, would be Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.

When I moved out of my parents home, I learned how to warm up refried beans and put them into prefab corn taco shells. I learned to treat myself to premade shrimp cocktail followed by a filet mignon. I had a roommate who was a cocktail waitress, and she taught me the ins and outs of eating during happy hour – buy a drink, then load up on the free food.

My first husband and I lived on Taco Bell, which was right next to our apartment. I did branch out and channeled my inner Nona – and finally created 2 signature dishes – my killer lasagna and meatballs to die for. So – Taco Bell – Lasagna – Meatballs.

My mother, most likely out of guilt, gave me her prized copy of the “I Hate to Cook Book.” I still have it, with her quirky handwritten comments next to each recipe. It was there that I learned I could put a piece of meat in aluminum foil, add Lipton onion soup mix on top, wrap it up, baked it in the oven, throw in a cut potato an hour before it was done, and I had dinner.

I learned how to put chicken on top of raw rice, with some mushrooms and a can of soup, bake it and add a salad. Dinner. I could do stew (throw it all together with canned tomatoes and bake) and chili (5 ingredients – 1 of each – throw it together and bake). Yeah, there’s a theme going – canned shit, baked, done. But they had one recipe each day for 30 days, and I was a master of all of them. The marriage lasted 5 years. I guess he got tired of once a month meatloaf.

It was when I met my husband Brad that I realized I had to up my game. One day he came over to my apartment for a date, and instead announced that it would be “fun” to bake bread.

“Bake bread? Like really bake bread? Or get the frozen loaf from Pillsbury and thaw it out and bake it?”

No, he meant he wanted to bake bread. With yeast and stuff. One thing I’m leery of is yeast. I mean, it’s alive, right? I don’t trust it. It’s way too touchy. Too hot, it dies. Too cold, it never lives. Who wants that kind of pressure? I also don’t do anything with thermometers or cook to a hard ball or soft ball stage. I don’t get it, and probably never will.

So – he baked bread. I watched.  We each ate a slice. He left, and I ate the rest.

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Brad had some mad skills. I know we each have our wheelhouse, and there are things he knows, and can do, that I can’t. And vice versa. There are areas in which I excel, where he doesn’t. And maybe by the end of this blog I’ll think of one. But for now you’ll just have to trust me.

So for the first years he would barbecue, I would sit inside and drink red wine, and when he was almost done I’d quickly open a bagged salad and mix up some Seven Seas zesty Italian dressing. It seemed to work. My greatest skill was knowing how to order. It really is a skill you know. You can take me to any restaurant, anywhere on the globe and I can find something good to eat. Actually, it’s a gift. Nay, it’s an art.

It’s been a process, but now I can say I’m an accomplished cook. I’m not ready for the “Chopped” kitchen just yet, but maybe soon.  It took a while, but since I was never really fond of barbecue, I thought I better pull up my pants and tackle this task.

That day happened years ago when I was ready to leave for a week on travel. My daughter Melanie came to me and begged  “Please Mom don’t leave us alone with Dad. All we will eat is grilled sausages and rice.” So I knew that my days with a glass of wine in the living room were coming to an end. Now I can actually make shit without a recipe. And most of the time, it’s terrific. And most of the time, I don’t remember what I did, so I can never replicate it. But I learned that if anyone is smart and knows how to read, they can essentially cook.

I still can’t bake worth shit. Yesterday I tried to bake a pie shell. Ok, it was a Pillsbury pie shell, but nonetheless, I made the filling – a quiche with chard from our garden. I had to “blind bake” the pie shell. It said something about putting beans in the shell so that it wouldn’t puff up. So I put beans in the shell, and put it in the oven to bake. NOWHERE did it say I had to put waxed paper or foil on the shell before I put the beans in. So the pie crust had dried pinto beans baked in. And picking those bastards out was not my favorite way to spend my afternoon.

So – my baking isn’t legendary, but I can make you a risotto that, when you take your first bite, I swear you will hear the angels sing. But, if you really want, I can also pull out a bag of Fritos and make you a nice casserole …

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I Love My Mother-In-Law … Okay?

I do. I love Mom Bev. She’s the original farm woman. No, she’s never lived on a farm, was raised on the outskirts of Detroit, but at heart, she is a true farm woman. She always told me she was meant to be a farmer’s wife, but instead has lived in the California desert for over 50 years, loving the life she chose, while ever dreaming of the life that maybe should have been.

A relative once referred to her as the “homiest” woman she knew. And Bev is. She used to make her own mayonnaise. Which is admirable, but to me, the original City Girl, this is kind of like doing a paint-by-numbers over a Rembrandt. I mean, Best Foods has done an outstanding job of perfecting mayo for, what? A century or so? I would think they had the whole thing down pat.

Bev also made her own soap. Which she enthusiastically invited me to join her and learn the craft. I said “wow, that’s so cool” then turned to her son, my husband, Brad and whispered “I will NEVER do this, so let’s leave now before I’m stuck in the burning fires of soap-making hell.” City Girl certainly did not picture herself sweating and stirring hot lye over a cauldron. Sweating? Oh, no, no. I do not sweat. Nothing that vile comes out of my pores. I get hot, I get overheated, I faint. I never sweat. It’s just not done.

My own mother was the original Thoroughly Modern Millie. When the 50s and 60s came around, she embraced them with arms wide open. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Swanson’s TV dinners, Mashed potato flakes, Friday night fish sticks, Saturday Night Kentucky Fried Chicken, American cheese slices in their own little plastic wrap. We had it all. And it was GOOOOD.

Bev was not like this. Bev did not change with the times. She still hasn’t. She says the old way is best, and considers anything slathered with butter and salt a food group. And anything that makes life quicker, easier and convenient is certainly cheating.

For 26 years Bev and I had a different relationship. My sister told me that her mother-in-law “gets” her. “She loves me and loves that I’m quirky.” I don’t have that with Bev. Yes, I’m sure she loves me (even though she’s forgotten my birthday now 2 years running, and I’m betting next month she’ll do her darndest to forget it again), but she really doesn’t understand quirky. Or sarcasm, two things that I’m quite adept at. We really are two entirely separate breeds. If we were dogs, she would be more of a Swiss Mountain Dog or a Malmute – a working dog with a purpose.

dog.

Me? I’d be a totally useless dog. One that serves no purpose whatsoever, other than to entertain or amuse…

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Because of this, we had no commonality. There was love, but zero understanding. I didn’t “get” that Bev didn’t like movies. I never knew someone who didn’t like movies! Really? And going out to lunch? She would kind of snuffle and say “we don’t go out because the food at home is better.”

For her, she didn’t “get” anything about me. My offbeat personality, my fast talking smart mouthing, my flamboyance. I am lavish with praise. When we had dinner at her house, I would exclaim – OH this is WONDERFUL! and extol the virtues of each course. When Bev would dine at my house, she’d finish her meal and say “this is … good.” Good? Good? I waded through recipes for three weeks, and cooked for two days making an extravagant three course culinary masterpiece and you tell me it’s good? I raved about your pot roast, for crying out loud!

When Brad and I started a travel business together years ago, I told Bev that he manned the phones, I did the emails. I’m a writer, I don’t do phone. She told me “well, you better learn. You can’t just do one thing.” Why not? I tried to explain the thing about different skill sets, but Farm Woman is stubborn. Because, if someone wanted me to give them a quote on the phone – which is essentially doing math in a minute – I’d probably have a brain aneurism and drop to the floor. I need my fingers – to type my thoughts, but also to count.

But now I’m living on a working farm. Finally, after 28 years we will enjoy that camaraderie that we never have known. That’s what I thought. She had chickens once, I have chickens! Soul Sisters! We love chickens.

My dreams were shattered like nuclear fallout. We were chatting, Brad, his Mom and I, about chickens. Brad mentioned that the “lazy layers” would make their way into our stew pot. I said “I love my chickens so if you want me to cook and eat one, you’d best bring it to me so it looks exactly like what I get in the market – and wrapped in plastic.” Bev pipes up “Why? Why aren’t you going to pluck the chickens?” And here we go again.

And then she went and done pissed me off. She dropped the bomb … ” SUE – you can’t expect Brad to do EVERYTHING.” To which Brad said … Absolutely nothing.

Brad’s invited his Mom to stay with us for “a couple of weeks or maybe a month.” I was going to roll out the grass green carpet. Reluctant Farm Girl connects, finally, with Farm Woman. But now my Bronx is showing. Because I’m planning a traditional City Girl welcome. Tuna noodle casserole, topped with mashed potato flakes. Franco American Spaghetti Ohs. Hamburger Helper topped with Cheez Whiz, tamales in a can, Dinty Moore Beef Stew. A manwich for lunch, Captain Crunch with Chase & Sanborn instant coffee for breakfast. Yep, it will be a fabulous month of sarcasm and wit.

The trouble is, I don’t think my mother-in-law will “get” it. She’ll just think it’s another dinner at Sue’s house. But Brad. Who didn’t jump to my defense and say that “Susan does so much around here I don’t know what I’d do without her?” Who sat there while his mother insinuated that I was … ornamental? Well, his mother may chalk it up to me yet again not fulfilling any dreams she had of a purposeful wife for her favorite son, but Brad will get it. Oh, yes, he will get it. And so my job is once again complete.

From there to here …

I was born in the Bronx. Our family moved around and by the time I was 11, I had lived in 10 different places all over the US.  I was like that commercial – I’ll never live in the suburbs, I’ll always live in an apartment, I never want to be far from a metropolis. But halfway through the nevers, I met my husband Brad and 10 years later found myself in a pole house, on a hill, overlooking the South Pacific, on an island in Fiji.

For about 14 years it sounded like a good idea. Then we decided we were over it, and would move back to a more traditional life in the US. We still own a resort on an outer island in Fiji, but our jobs marketing and taking reservations can be done anywhere where we have access to the internet. So the search was on for our perfect American home.

Originally we lived in Southern California for 10 years before our move to Fiji, and we knew that this was no longer our cup of tea (or kava, to be Fijian about it.). So we traveled about and had a list. We knew we wanted to be westerly (although I’ve long had a penchant for Portland, Maine and I could still see myself in a gorgeous apartment in Manhattan), so we took the “list” – Colorado, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Washington – and did what we do – we researched and compared notes.

Montana was immediately out for me. Too, I don’t know, just too. Too much mountain mannish. Idaho was out for Brad. I don’t know why, but it didn’t call to him. We loved Oregon, our son lives in Seattle, and I was really crazy about Colorado. But after talking to our accountant, who advised us that Washington state was our best option, we flew up there, with the intent of finding our version of the next best thing.

Initially wanting to buy a bed and breakfast, we joined our realtor, John, for 10 days of homes – homes that were bed and breakfasts, homes that could be bed and breakfasts, and after a few days of that, just homes.

I NEEDED to be close to Seattle. I NEEDED city life. Brad needed acreage to plant a garden.

So, after 9 months, I still wonder, how did this happen? I am living on a 16 acre farm. With 20 chickens! and fenced pastures where Brad wants to put cows and a pig (A PIG!) and some goats,  and acres of blueberry bushes and fruit trees. Me …whose criteria for a move was always “where’s the nearest Nordstroms.” Where chickens come wrapped nicely, 6 thighs per package. And where nature and the wild was always something to be respected, and appreciated, but not to be someplace that I actually lived. Camping? Nice – now let’s go back to the hotel.

But you know … I kinda like it. I’m getting there. And think that by writing it out (the former journalist that I am) it will actually bring me closer to … well, what? The great outdoors? Maybe. Sanity? Maybe. Chicken poop? Definitely.