Road Trip 2014 Day One – 203.4 miles

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Buckets of rain fell from the sky.

Seriously.

Buckets.

Thanks to our brave driver, Adam, and a carton of chocolate ice cream from the People’s Food Co- Op,  we survived this white knuckle drive.

peoples-food-co-op-logo

Pit Stop Rave:

Rochester, MN
People’s Food Co-Op 

We stop at the People’s Food Co-Op each time we find ourselves in southern Minnesota. This favorite of our family’s has moved to a fancy-schmancy new location in downtown Rochester. Check it out, it is a huge space filled with all sorts of goodies!

Back from the Dead?

Just home from my first real family road trip and thinking about all the help and advice I got while searching for places to eat, shop, and visit while on the road.

We filled our bellies with good grub, stayed in some pretty cool places, and found the best coffee in town thanks to the good ole Interweb and bloggers who took the time to write down hidden American gems.

This made me think, “Hmmm… maybe it is time, and I know, I know I’ve typed this before, time to resurrect this site.

Here goes nothing.

zzzzzz7654191a

Finding something new in something old…

CANCER (June 22-July 22). You’re looking for something new, and you’ll find it in something old. Perhaps it’s a vintage piece of style, or a relationship from years past that you’ll find newly compelling.

I read my horoscope today and this is what it said.

So

here

I

am.

Plan to breathe life into this old thing.  Put some new lipstick on and make that old dress look new again.  Tom Ford says it’s all one needs to do.

For those of you who really know me, as in “real life,” vs. “virtual,” realize I’ve got too many eggs in one basket, I’m a chicken with my head cut off, I’m that hen who crossed the road and forgot why….

Meanwhile, I am determined to give CPR to this blog.

Adieu for today.

Back at it tomorrow.

(Maybe).

A Camping We Did Go

For my thirty second birthday the kids, dog, Adam and I headed the North Shore past Duluth to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

We booked a “back pack” site a couple of months ago, thinking we truly wanted a secluded campsite.  Well, maybe that was a good idea when it is two adults, but throw in a four year old and ask her to walk three plus miles a day and you get this:

Day Two Camping, We’ve Walked at Least Three Miles & Up/Down 300 Stairs

Violet sits down.

“Mom, I just want to go home.”

I respond, by asking her if she thinks this is a beautiful place.

Violet looks around at our incredible surroundings.

“Yes.  But I hate it.”

It was a truly magical place, but we’ll stay in the very secluded, but much more “kid friendly” cart in sites next year.  Each site comes with its own wheelbarrow to haul in one’s gear!  Ah now that’s luxurious camping.

Here are some pictures of our trip.  I’ve never seen my family happier, or dirtier.  My birthday dinner consisted of tofu dogs and Smoking Loon wine.  Fabulous!  A highlight of that night was being scared out of our mind when this bird started its “warning” shriek and a pack of timberwolves started to bark and howl.  It was awesome.

One Woman’s Rave is Another Woman’s Rant

Today I got a reminder that an opinion is an opinion is an opinion. A dear friend of mine wrote a hilariously wicked review of a book I recommended here, and to so many folks, Eat, Pray, Love. I just had to include her review, as it not only is well written but provides some quality insight I don’t absolutely agree with, but most definitely respect.

Sorting my thoughts out on this book was like having two sides of me arguing against each other. Here are some thoughts and my own rebuttals…it’s not an essay, just fragments of ideas. I think that Elizabeth is taking this broken marriage to hell and back with some high drama and fake eyelashes. Wailing in the bathroom at night? Wants to travel the world and not have kids? Hey, me too! But then again, I haven’t been through a broken marriage. I do, however, remember feeling quite low and dramatic when a couple of my relationships ended. If I had thought of wailing, I would have tried it. And had I the money, I definitely would have eaten pizza in Italy, meditated at an Indian ashram, and allowed myself to be adored by a wealthy older Brazilian. OK, so being able to go through your emotions without judgment from others is legal. But what about her husband? She tries to be so polite by saying she’s not going to comment on him and their marriage but then she throws in a few zingers like how he turned nasty in the divorce and how she gave everything to him just so the divorce could be over. So of course, she is the victim and the martyr. So high-minded. Things went well in Italy, where all she did was eat and try to speak Italian. I even liked the fact that she skipped some classes. But what the hell kind of crazy happened in India? I’m a little annoyed by people traveling to the other side of the earth just to close their eyes and be quiet. I imagine that in their normal lives, these people talk too much, are bossy, opinionated, and completely ADHD. But hey, if you need to spend ridiculous amounts of money and time in order to shut up and realize that you are not the center of the universe, then the rest of the world is better off for it. I don’t, however, want to hear about it! There are a lot of good people in this world who have reached the same “enlightenment” that our dear Elizabeth or have just grown up like that so an ashram is definitely not necessary. And you know what, I resent how someone’s self-proclaimed enlightenment is like a snub to everybody else. Can we not all find pleasure, spirituality, and love in our own backyard? Unfortunately, the writing is pretty good. There is a mix of Elizabeth’s emotional state and story, a look into three other cultures, colorful characters, cultural comments, and historical anecdotes. I just didn’t want to like it because the writer is a woman. And she’s successful. And she has an apt in NY. And she has a house in CT. And she has been paid to travel the world and write about it. Oh…and she accomplished all these things at approximately the same age that I am now. Man, is my jealousy ugly. When I pretended that the author was male, I found myself appreciating the writing and the experiences expressed sooooo much more. Sigh. What a great feminist I am. Speaking about traveling the world and getting paid to write about it…is it just me or is it odd that you could be in such a muck-ish time of your life (remember the wailing) yet still pitch your story to an editor? I mean, to read about it, this woman’s life is being torn apart by blood-hungry wolves and she is struggling so hard that she has to turn to anti-depressants…but she has the foresight to know that she will be able to find what she needs through travel? That within a year, she will have emerged a better person? That she will be able to unearth something about herself? That this book will have a happy ending?? By the way, that happy ending was so lame and artificial! Gross! The section on Indonesia found our girl more firmly grounded and getting her groove on. Yuck! You know, everything in life is about timing. If we had caught Miss Elizabeth on the day of her wedding to her first husband, we would have been persuaded that this was going to be the most fabulous relationship ever. So what makes us believe that she has learned anything? At first, I wanted to give her credit because if somebody is going to be that honest about their depression, naive spiritual quest, and lovemaking…if somebody was going to put it all in print and stand up straight in face of all the predictable criticism and ridicule…then that person can take the money that comes with the book deal. Then I thought, no. This “memoir” is so artificially crafted. Three countries that begin with “I”? The three avenues of feeding the body and soul via food, prayer, and love? That she would be successful in her endeavors in each country? No do-overs? No failures? Come on…this woman is laughing with us all the way to the bank! I don’t want to be a bummer but this is how my memoir would have gone: Italy: I find myself in Southern Italy where people are poor and families struggle to put food on the table. I become depressed and stop eating myself. India: I walk through the streets unnerved by the poverty and unwavering religiousness of the people. I look at Westerners visiting ashrams and am repulsed. I lose faith in humanity. Indonesia: I stay in a “cottage” and freak out over large rodents visiting me at night. I pick at my mosquito bites and cry.

“C” is for…

chickens and that’s good enough for me.

-sung in the style of Cookie Monster.

Adam has found true love, a good cluck, a good lay…he’s found his hens. It is my great pleasure to introduce to the world the newest family members of the Sparks clan.

Marie Antoinette, Lady Jane Grey, Mary Queen of Scots, Catherine Howard, and Anne Bolelyn are two month old Welsummer/Orpington chickens that arrived at Coop Sparks yesterday. It took me a great while to really be “into the idea” of having chickens, based mostly on the poop I know comes with them and the vermin that like their food too. However, I know I won’t be dealing with shit or rats unless Adam is abducted by aliens and so I am so excited to have these ladies around.

Meanwhile, I am also loving Adam’s enthusiasm over my names for the chickens. I do have a sick sense of humor.

Here are our petite poulet!

Adam has been working diligently on researching chickens and building a hen house. Consequently, our vehicles received some hail damage from a storm a couple of weeks ago because the chicken coop was happily parked in our garage. Here you can see Adam has designed the coop to look similar to our house. FYI Adam hates this picture I took. Sorry Adam.

So far the kids have enjoyed feeding their new pets worms and caterpillars. Sage wasn’t too sure he wanted to hold a hen, but after seeing his little sister rise to the challenge he swallowed his fear and held his favorite Welsummer mix chicken, Catherine.

Posh is very interested in the chickens, but she is such a good girl and hasn’t shown the slightest bit of aggression or prey instinct. Supposedly Havanese were once bred to be chicken herding dogs, so in the next couple of months when we let the ladies out to free range, we will be sure to update you all on her chicken herding ability. So far she loves to rest under the coop, and peek in the door when I feed the hens. She hasn’t barked at them at all. Here is my youngest child with her new “sisters.”