Wednesday, March 29, 2006


The seeds had sprouted in the garden. Yes, we had squash..until the Wild Chick Duo took an amazing culinary tour of ALL the tender sprouts. Yum. So, Emily and I fought back with our Amazing Sister Duo and replanted with great hopes. However, it looks like they have found their wings too. So we will need to put the screens not just in front of the gate, but on top of the seeds until they sprout. Then I'll need to come up with another creative solution to succeed in Arizona gardening.
The chicks have also really sprouted up as well. Emily took pictures of the Amazing Eight-- they are molting into their adult feathers, they roost at night on a ledge, and they were out on their best behavior in the chicken yard without supervision on Monday. This week I am working alot, so they won't have play time until I can be nearby. The last thing I want is for my chicks to get eaten by a visiting cat.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Inquisitive Minds

Our friend, Luke, asked a follow-up question to "What comes first...the chicken or the egg?" post/question. He asked, "How often do they make an egg?" The answer is this: the reproductive cycle of a laying hen is 24-48 hours, depending on breed. And then, as newlyweds, we all chuckled at the thought of being that productive ourselves. Imagine the problems that would create.
Visiting season has already begun. The spring and (theoretical) warm weather will hopefully arrive on the tails of all of our expected visitors in the next few weeks. It has been quite chilly with clouds all last week and rain both weekends. But the sun came out today and it should warm up. We have alot of warm days ahead of us, so we aren't too eager to begin the warming trend.
We are enjoying visiting with our friends Luke and Christina Smart to start it all off. (The first visitors were actually my parents a few weeks ago) They arrived on Saturday morning from Baltimore and are staying until Thursday. Today they left for a little overnight trip to the Grand Canyon.
The things we are enjoying the most are the laughter and the medical stories. Luke is a second year med student, Christina is a pediatric nurse at Johns Hopkins and I have just recently started working at Chandler Regional hospital. And Travis wishes he could be a doctor! So, we enjoy swapping all of our stories and laughing at the ridiculous nature of inquisitive medical minds. There are plenty of questions to ask and plenty of answers to be found. Anything we don't know, we Google.
This morning we decided to eat the eggs instead of theorize about them. Yum- farm breakfast with fresh eggs and toast and jam. What a great way to start a week off.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Creamsicles and Fudgesicles

Which do you like better? The double orange tang of frozen juice around a creamy vanilla center, or the single dense cold fudgey delight of a fudgesicle?
The reason we mention popsicles is that a new exterior paint job involved picking between two favorite frozen treats: creamsicles or fudgesicles. The story began like this.
Our friend, Jonathon, was off for spring break and was willing to try his new spray paint gun on our house for a screaming deal. So, Jordan and I conferred on a paint color from the swatches and decided on a warm tan brown. Or so we thought. I drove home on Wednesday, eagerly anticipating a brightened, fresh new house. That was not the case. Hasn't someone ever told you that picking colors from a swatch can turn out dramatically different on a large surface? Yes, Jordan and I knew it was a risk, but we figured anything could be an improvement over the original color. This was not the case. Orangesicle is a great way to describe how our warm tan brown turned out on our little house.
So, seven trial pints later, we found a better choice: fudgesicle. Our house is now a warm creamy brown with white trim, and hopefully, some new natural walnut shutters to complement our door. Such is life's little decisions---who knew that a childhood favorite could have such real estate value?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Rain Miracles

Wonderful things happen when it rains--the grass perks up, the mountain views return, the country dust settles and spring begins.
I had my own little miracle-- my husband stayed home all day on Saturday. I told him it was, despite being sick, my favorite weekend since we've returned from our honeymoon.
We even had enough rain to cancel irrigation, so instead I get to watch the sunshine warm the earth and push those garden seeds up.
The rain we had was accompanied by cold temperatures, almost 20 degrees cooler here in the East Valley. Up north, they had another miracle. All of North Scottsdale and the surrounding mountains had snow. Arizona might be the desert but occasionally miraculous circumstances collide and we have snow. One such snowy weekend last January was such. I came here on my first trip out to Arizona and we were in Prescott and it snowed twelve inches. That was magical in its own right-- but that had more to do with love than weather.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Sick Day

It is somehow a strange phenomenon. I would love to do a study on the psychological effect of mothers leaving their children and the incidence of minor illnesses. Ever since I was little, whenever my mom would go on a trip, I would come down with something: a migrane, a flu, a major cold. And even 3000 miles away, my Mom went to Ocean City, and I find myself in the same state: sick.
Its the right kind of sick day too-- after waiting over 3 months, Phoenix has some rain. It hasn't stopped raining today and apparently, it is supposed to continue through tommorrow. My backyard looks like I irrigated it. It sets the mood for a sick day: gray, cold and misty.
I am eating all white foods today: rice, bananas, crackers, ginger ale. I felt better after eating rice this morning and so off I went to pick up my Southeast Valley CoOp box. I joined a coOp to save money-- and it is such a bargain! Fifteen dollars got me a huge laundry basket of produce-- enough for Travis and myself for two weeks. Strawberries, avacados, lettuce, grapes, eggplant, carrots, and so much more. It even came with cilantro. So with a bunch of soft pears I made some Cinnamon Carrot & Fruit Muffins.
So, we are all hunkered down for the night here-- Travis is getting the movies, and we are going to get under the covers and have a movie night.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Green eggs and ham

A Dr. Suess' prescription for a day of abnormal craziness. We feel today is about as nonsensical as Dr. Suess:
"I do not like them in a box.
I do not like them with a fox.
I do not like them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like gren eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
If green eggs are real, then I must believe the Santa Fe apparition in my front yard is real. Can one possess a car for three weeks, yet not really own it? The dilemma remains, as the mysterious check keeps eluding us from Capitol One. Their customer service is about as helpful as that fox with scripts such as "Sir, I can send you a new check". This was there answer to every question today. Yesterday it was "We sent you a new check, but it isn't valid" or "We cannot send you a new check" or "We will send you a new check". Which is it?
What is the doctor's prescription for me today? The green eggs bit first. I spent the morning testing at the hospital playing adult games like "What items are missing from the food tray?" and "What is wrong with this safety picture?". I am not sure why they tested me at all-- if you can't tell that two people walking blindly into one another around a corner is a safety hazard, something must be wrong with you.
In the house and in the box, the chickens are keeping their own time, pestering one another like a crowd of selfish children. Travis is the official chicken charmer-- he'll pet them in his hands and they'll fall asleep.
Outside the house, the sun and clouds are fighting in our southern sky here today. We have huge high dark clouds in the sky with a forecast of rain. Not a promise easily believed. Our percentages of rain are around 10%. Yet, we remain hopeful.
As for the mouse-- the mouse came in the form of a phone call. I had call from my own mobile telephone contract trying to sell me the same contract I already have? Not only that, but from India? Strange, but I had to ask the mouse why he needed my name again if he already knew it because he worked for Cingular. Sound a little sneaky? Especially when my name is not Michael.
Green eggs-- no ham, just the eggs. If you think green eggs don't exist, then you haven't seen mine. They are from Aracuana hens which lay pale green eggs instead of brown or white. They are in the cookies I just made... why don't you drop by to try some green eggs and ham. You might end up doing what Sam did:
Say!I like green eggs and ham!I do! I like them, Sam-I-am!

Monday, March 06, 2006

First day on the job

If I had known there was going to be donuts, I might have showed up early instead of exactly at seven three-o. You see, I'm on a 24 hour junk food spree. Like Travis says, once a year doesn't kill you. But as I start this job as a community nutrition advocate, I probably shouldn't be eating In&Out burgers and fries and then topping it off with cookies :) It probably will comfort the rest of you to know I'm normal too.
Anyways, I had to report at 7:30 in the morning to the Morrison buildng to be "oriented" to the hospital that I am going to work for, Chandler Regional Hospital. A wonderful morning of getting paid. That's the extent of the excitement for the day. I am proud to be a part of an organization that had roots in furthering the ministry of Jesus by healing; at least that is what Catholic Health Care seems to promote as its core values in its mission statement. I can not only follow those guidelines but promote them as well. Imagine your employer telling you that they encourage you to pray with your customers.
And in other news, my adult chickens are teaching bad habits to the little ones. The adults are flying into the trees again, showing the wild baby chicks that flying the coop is okay. And just a few minutes I actually met one of the town candidates I randomly voted for-- she dropped by my door and chatted. Imagine that. Another reason I love Queen Creek.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

How we got the baby chicks

Today we got eight baby chicks at the San Tan Feed & Seed. And now we are going to have a snack. Hello from the Zigler boys-- Dalton, Garrett, and Cade to everyone...

Love Birds

There are several pairs of morning doves that live in my trees. Right now one pair is sitting on my pasture fence, necking eachother. They are silhouetted against the morning sunshine as another day dawns here in Queen Creek. Did you know that mourning doves are monogamous; they mate for life?
This is another reflection of how God, our Creator, is visible through his creation. Glynn Mackenzie was remarking last night in our class at church on how before the Fall, God created us with intelligence and a desire to understand His world. And as we discover how a plant grows by seeing its roots, we realize as we go deeper and deeper into scientific exploration, we see that God is inexhaustible in wisdom. I love science and I love nature. One of my joys here in Queen Creek is to discover how God is at work all around me in the new animals, new landscapes and new faces.
I see a reflection of that wise love in nature, and in my mourning doves. Travis and I have been married for two months now, and everyday we are discovering and uncovering God's wisdom in bringing us together.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Good Neighbors

We have some great neighbors here in Rancho Jardines.
This morning I woke up and opened all the windows to let the cool air in before it heated up today. Yesterday the house got quite hot and we now no longer need heating. I had just sat down on my kitchen stool, when I heard a great, loud squawk. If you have ever heard a chicken in distress, you would know it. I looked out my back window to see the hen soaring across the lawn with the grey pointer at her tail feathers. I flew outside myself and started yelling and chasing the dog around in my bare feet and pajamas. I must have looked scary myself, a vision of white and black at full speed.
We got the owner's number off the tag and made a "neighborly" call around 7. We thought we would let them sleep in. Those are the "good neighbors" we have here.
Our other neighbors are "great". Mike, on our left, lent us his rototiller. And Victoria, on the other side, gave us grapefruit to give away and fresh eggs for a breakfast. We see them quite often and talk over the fence. And when you are setting up a house, its always good to have free food on your right hand, and a tool shop on your left.

Another discovery was something Victoria and I shared this past weekend. While Travis and I were picking up the car on Sunday, my Dad was planting my beautiful flowers in my pots and heard a rustling noise in the oleander bushes in the front. He looked into the bottom branches and found a hen raising her brood-- nine baby chicks. Our other 3 have disappeared along with their mother, so we don't know where they have been for over 2 weeks.
On the topic of chickens, we send our condolences out to Emma and Joshua Quinn Harris who have recently lost their hens to a fox. We understand your loss and will name some of the new chicks Emma and JQ for you! We hope we can keep ours safe...