Random Thursday: Happy Edition

1. A few weeks back, the Wonder Hub and I were driving down some picturesque Colorado backroad, talking about Someday. We don’t know when he will retire from the Air Force, and we don’t know exactly where we would like spend our post-AF years, but we sure like to dream about it. We were doing just that as we rounded a bend in the road and a red barn came into sight. It was trim and bright and pretty as a picture. It made my heart do a little dance.

Me: You know what makes me happy? Red barns.
Him: We’ll get two.

2. I went outside to feed, water, and deadhead plants yesterday morning. I had just spent an hour in the backyard, and I was on a roll. As I settled in on the front porch, I heard a misplaced yet oh-so familiar tinkling sound. I got up, head tilted, and hopped off the porch. Brain going Mach 2, I rounded the shrubs and laid eyes on this:



I can’t be certain, but my best guess is that she’d been out there for two hours, basking in the sunshine and surveying her kingdom. A little girl was riding back and forth, back and forth on a too-big bike while singing a sweet little made-up song, and I’m so happy my girl was there to keep an eye on her.

(I’m also happy that a deer didn’t happen by.)

3. I got up early this morning, slammed a cup of joe, laced up my sneakers, and took my car in for routine maintenance. Then I ran home. Three miles. Uphill. From elevation 5,946 to elevation 6,260. (translation: no oxygen)

So why on earth would this make me happy?
Welllll, let me count the ways:

1. I was happy because it was 65 and not 90 degrees.
2. I was happy because I had sneaked out of the house and could run without waiting around for sniffing and peeing and rabbit-stalking.
3. I was happy because I was DONE.

4. Lists. Somewhere in the recesses of my skittery brain, I remembered writing about lists. I did a search and, among five posts about lists, found this:

Random….Uh, What Day Is It?

Reading it made me happy. Reading the comments made me even happier.

5. When I started thinking about lists, back before I hopped down the list-post bunny trail, this was why.


This week’s list. On Thursday.


(Sure, there are things not listed, and sure, there are things that will be added, but let’s not dwell on that, shall we?)

6. Lip balm makes me happy. I’ve never been much of a lipstick girl. I’m not opposed to color, but something about the texture of lipstick makes me feel hemmed in. Buttoned up. It’s too much responsibility. Or something.

Lip balm, on the other hand. It wouldn’t take much to tip me over into the category of lip balm hoarder. Lip Balm addict. My favorite of all time is Origins Lip Tint in Organic Plum, which the organic jerks have quit making. In my hunt to replace it, I have tried all of the Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm flavors/colors. I have a Sonia Kashuk lip balm (I can’t tell you the color without reading glasses, and I can tell you that ain’t gonna happen), and a Neutrogena lip balm in Sunny Berry. My color-free favorites include good ‘ol Chapstick, Peppermint Chapstick, a couple from Goat’s Milk Stuff, and a newly purchased and perfectly lovely tube of Portland Bee Balm (also in peppermint).

I may or may not be wearing one or several of them right. now. And you know what? I’m happy!

7. I got a StitchFix package in the mail today. Do you know this StitchFix? It’s pretty fun, and I think I’ve kept one of five items in each of the four packages they’ve sent. Today, the hands-down winner was a geometric print maxi dress in bright, summery colors. I liked it so much that I put it on to run errands with the Monkey. I felt sassy, and for once in my yoga-pant life, put together. A good outfit, it just does something for a girl. It changes the attitude. It lifts the spirits. It causes one to stroll into Starbucks with her head held high (instead of skulking through the drive-through in shaded glasses and a ballcap), smile beamingly at the barista, and turn to graciously accept the compliment of a perfect stranger…

who actually stopped by to let you know the price tags were still attached and hanging there for all to see.

Happy? Good. I aim to please!




It’s a Pterodactyl! No, Wait! It’s a Cow! (Photos Included)

Once upon a time, there was this girl woman. She was a disorganized, procrastinating, train-wreck of a human being, but otherwise generally likable (unless you didn’t like her). She loved coffee, and tortilla chips with salsa, and fitting into her jeans (although at the time of our story, she did not fit into her jeans). She liked telling stories, but doubted her ability to do it well. Sometimes this doubt kept her from telling stories. Sometimes she bucked up and did it anyway.

Our story really begins with the day she did that. The bucking-up. On that day she bucked up and wrote down this little story.

That was the 18th of June, which just so happens to be two weeks ago today.

The story included this photo:


And that, my friends, was how it all began.

The very next day, this happened:

She shared the happy news on Facebook. There was much joy and great celebration!

The next day, the girl woman continued her habit of opening the door, slipping out, and snapping a quick shot before rushing behind the safety of the door, all the while thinking of Audrey Hepburn.

Leaning against the closed door, she looked at the photo. Something strange had happened in the night.

The happy little nest had become a den of iniquity. Or a science fiction movie set. Facebook was abuzz, trying to figure out the mystery. Was it a pterodactyl egg? Was it a cow egg? Was someone messing with her mind?? The girl woman and her Facebook people held their collective breath and waited for the next day’s photo.

What would happen? Would the day bring a purple egg? A striped egg? A velociraptor egg?

Facebook was enthralled. Was this a genetic mutation or a mutant takeover? So great was the excitement (notably, the majority of the excitement came from a safe distance), that our intrepid photographer braved snapping a midday picture.

2014-06-21 18.06.55

The pterodactyl egg had moved! But eggs can’t move! This was looking more and more like a science fiction movie set, or possibly a cruel joke. Despite her growing apprehension, our heroine steeled herself and set up camp on the curb. She needed to know who or what exactly was the mother of the mismatched eggs.








She was a shady character, to be sure. What kind of bird can outmaneuver the skills of so fine a photographer? Without real answers, our brave heroine was left with no choice but to…leave town. All week long, from the safety of the west coast, she wondered about that speckled egg. Google had been uncharacteristically unhelpful, unable to pinpoint even an approximation of the gestation period for a pterodactyl egg. She hadn’t the slightest clue what she was up against here. Should she have warned her neighbors? Called the National Guard?

She held her breath.

And got a pedicure.

And ate her body weight in freshly picked raspberries.

And bungee jumped


And when she got home, instead of Jurassic Park, she found this:


The pterodactyl egg had grown! But eggs don’t grow! (Um, eggs don’t grow, right?) This could not be her husband messing with her (as she had suspected all along). This was downright freaky.

The next morning, she found this:


At which point someone on Facebook suggested that the pterodactyl egg might actually be the egg of a cowbird (for real, there are cowbirds). The thread disintegrated from there. There was “brood parasitism” and Decepticons(!) and the not-so veiled suggestion that Herr Speckled Egg be voted off the island.

It was all just too much for our tender-hearted heroine to take in. Because she simply could not imagine tossing that poor, innocent egg from the nest, she decided to do nothing under the guise of waiting for her husband to take care of it.

By the time he came home she had forgotten all about it and she served him his gourmet, three-course dinner, rubbed his feet, and fetched his slippers and pipe, the situation had changed drastically, and changed for the worse.

It was, to be frank, the worst case scenario (well, barring the National Guard scenario, of course)…



20140701_201500If our kind, brave, tender-hearted heroine couldn’t bear to do away with an egg, how on earth could she see to offing a beady-eyed, open-beaked, silent-screeching, decidedly-non-pterodactyl BIRD???

She did what anyone would do. She took the matter to her Facebook people. Her Facebook people could solve any problem! Except..

They couldn’t tell what the picture was showing. They wanted her to go BACK OUT THERE. Without the slightest bit of concern for her safety, they went so far as to REQUEST A LIVE-FEED VIDEO.


Being of saintly character, she went out and took a video (which you can view on Facebook), but the creepy sweet little bird had exhausted itself, what with all the silent screeching, and was still largely undecipherable. She spelled it out.


Thus ensued a 50 comment, exceedingly entertaining thread, at some indeterminate point during which our heroine’s fine husband finished his pipe, tucked his newspaper under his arm, and took care of the problem.




(Well, until another egg hatches.)




Random Thursday: Stop. Mollytime.

1. We all know that Molly Sue is livin’ the life, so I thought I’d paint a little day-in-the-life word-picture (and picture-picture) for you. Ready?



When I open my bedroom door at the ungodly (yes.it is.) hour of six, Molly is doing her sphinx impersonation. There is such an urgent look about her that if you didn’t know better, you would think she was desperate for a patch of grass out back. I do know better, so I greet her and assume the position.

The position?


I squat, legs wide and toes angled out, as Molly rolls over on her side. She heaves a trademark sigh and I commence with the early-morning belly rub. I rub and stretch and whisper sweet nothings to my good dog until my inner thighs can take no more.


We trot down the stairs side by side and fall into the next phase of our morning routine, which brings to mind my grandfather wandering into my grandmother’s clean kitchen for the pure joy of being chased back out.

Molly sits up.
I give her a “Seriously?” look.
She hangs her head but stands her ground.
She makes me say it. Every single day, she makes me say it.
“Molly, it’s not time yet.”

Head low, she mopes to her bed and flops dramatically. SIGH.

I fumble with the kettle, grind the beans, inhale deeply and decide to live another day. I pivot.

She’s sitting up.
I roll my eyes and shake my head.
She mopes and flops and siiiiighs.

We repeat this until 7:00, when I have to tell her to sit up. She looks at me disbelievingly. I make big eyes and tell her again.

“Sitttt. Up.”


In Virginia it was squirrels. In Colorado, bunnies.



5. When the various neighbors catch her stalking bunnies through their yards, we console them with the news that she’s never actually caught one.


Until, of course, she did.


Don’t say it unless you mean it. And by mean it, I mean you’re ready to g-o, shoes on and leash in hand. Otherwise you’re bound to trip over Miss Now?Now?Now?? sixteen times as you gather your shoes and jacket, smear on Chapstick, and search desperately for the infernal keys/leash/doggie bag. Should you accidentally whisper the ‘W’ word before you’re stepping over the threshold, you can tell her to SIT. STAY. but every blessed time you turn around she’ll be sitting and staying in your immediate path and looking for all the world like Oliver Twist begging for gruel.


This. This is what makes it all worthwhile.



Every now and then I’ll stop and survey the landscape. The real treat is to catch Molly sussing out the bunnies’ hidey holes, because she bounds between shrubs and grasses, grinning all the while. Sometimes, though, I can’t spot her. I put hand to brow like Gilligan and survey the landscape.


I call out, “Molly Sue!!!”

And again, “Molly SUUUUUUUEEEEEEEE!!!!”

Suddenly, where there was no pup..



..there’s my happy, happy girl!


She’s running straight into my arms!


She loves me so! I am her human, and she is my good dog! Boon companions ever, nothing can keep us apart!


Until she spots another bunny..

Any Given Story (A Lesson on Perspective)

I was out and about today, doing fun things like emissions testing, and filling tanks with gas. I was thinking about posting something on Facebook. Something like..

<happy font> Just filled the tank on the Wonder Hub’s birthday present! Best wife EVAH! </happy font>

when the yahoo (say it like this: yay-hoo) in front of me came to a complete.freaking.stop in the dead-center of a traffic circle, very nearly causing a multi-vehicle chain-reaction of disaster which would have significantly impacted the celebration of my beloved’s birth.

My brain instantly wrote another Facebook post (and then edited it for profanity).


My brain went on to tell Facebook (because, you know, Facebook cares) about the time, less than one month after our return to America from Germany (where drivers are actually taught how to navigate a traffic circle), we were clobbered by an indignant late-model dude in his late-model Cadillac. A man who, despite having exited into our vehicle from the inside lane, went on to SUE US (unsuccessfully. HA.).

I continued my pissy internal Facebook rant about idiot drivers and idiots in general until I pulled into the driveway at home.

As I wandered up the front walk, my brain switched gears (squirrel, anyone?). Oohhh! I remembered the picture I had taken this morning!

<happy font> Look at what I found next to the front door! </happy font>


Is there anything more hopeful than teeny, tiny eggs in a freshly made nest? The joy! The wonder!

All of a sudden, the mommy (daddy?) bird flew from the alcove, zipped around my head in an angry rush, and made me scream like a wee little girl.

(I hate screaming like a wee little girl.)



The lesson?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

Karen vs. Crafting: Upholstery Edition

It all started with one tiny, innocent question.


One tiny, innocent question which led to a veritable firestorm of advice and admonishment.

(p.s. I get a kick out of admonishment)


FYI: @bigkb01 is my realtor. What she says goes.
@bobbigaukel is my graphic artist (she designed my blog banner!). What she says goes.


Also: Color story? Who knew?


@mimyselfani chimes in (sigh), but I manage to distract the naysayers with homemade pizza. Score one point for me! Maybe, just maybe, I can get someone over here to do this thing for me..



Or maybe not.

Shot down by @marydene1 and her cough tough love cough, I retreat to my pouting corner to stew on things. I could totally do this. I’ll show them!

But I don’t wannnnnna do the crafty thing. I’m not crafty. (insert foot stomp) I’m not. I’m not. I’m not!

But I could. I totally could. Some fabric and a staple gun is all it would take…

But picking out the fabric. Ugh. And cutting it (correctly). And stapling it on the chairs in a non-wonky fashion…

You crafty people just don’t understand. The opportunities for me to screw this up are nearly boundless. You just have no idea what it’s like to be me. You have no idea..the agony, the misery, the suffering…

Oh the suffering!

And then it hit me. I can do this! I can so totally conquer this bad boy. Oh, yes I can.

Just watch me.





How’s that for color story??


It is with great joy that I tell you:

Karen 2: Crafting 1


What’s in the Box, Karen?


I’m keeping it at a distance, because it’s a wee bit overwhelming. A tad scary. A smidgen paralyzing, if truth be told.

It weighs 25 pounds, for Pete’s sake.

So, what is in that there box?


I don’t know! I’m too scared to open it!

(Keepin’ it real note: check out the dust on my dang wood floors.)

Okay, really. The box contains…

(drum roll?)



The box contains books.


The books were sent to me by the East West School of Planetary Herbology. As soon as I muster up the guts to open the box, I will begin a three-year endeavor to earn certification as an East West Clinical Herbalist.

And you know what? I’m skeered.

But I’m also really, really excited.

Easily Distracted

So I’m making dinner, which consists of warming up leftover (homemade, I want credit for that) Asian meatballs, and roasting broccoli with garlic, when Molly Sue begins barking her fool head off. I recognize the bark, so I grab my camera.

DSC_0009 It’s always the young bucks who get nose-to-nose with my girl, and this goes on for some time. When he gets bored,

DSC_0010 she lets him wander a few steps before resuming her mad dog bark and rushing the fence.

DSC_0013 And then they do it all over again.


DSC_0004 I catch the eye of this shaggy little lover.

DSC_0005 Who whispers to her friend, “Watch your back, the crazy camera lady is at it again!”

DSC_0007 And we stare each other down, until the incessant nagging of the oven timer brings me back to the real world…

DSC_0017 and to this. The real world sucks. The End

Karen vs. Crafting: Valentine’s Day Door

I’ll be honest. The Craft Wars are largely driven by three things:

1. We currently live in a rental. It needs all the help it can get.

2. I am too cheap to actually buy many of the things that constitute ‘help’.

3. My rebellious side continues to think: if you can do it, so can I.

Yeah. So. Here we are.

Karen 1: Crafts 0

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and my front door is ugly like you read about. I do a little etsy.com search for Valentine’s wreaths, with the idea of supporting a budding artist rather than torturing myself. I find this. Which is perfect! And $78.00.


Etsy.com The September Tree

$78.00! I can totally do this myself. It’s a ribbon, for Pete’s sake, with sticks and burlap. I have burlap leftover from the previous Craft War. What could be easier?

I go and buy a $3.00 roll of ribbon. To prevent procrastination, I tape it to the front door. (How smart am I?)


A week goes by. No worries, though, there’s still time. I tell myself that the neighbors (and my brother-in-law, who walked in and asked me why the front door was gift-wrapped in February) will be so impressed at the big reveal.

February 7: Molly and I go out in search of sticks. We bring some home and place them by the front door.

February 8: The Wonder Hub throws them in the trash. I dig them back out.

February 9: The Princess of Crafting comes over, arms full of intricately designed, personalized, glittery valentines. She can’t stay, but I recruit her for my project. If anyone can get me to craft, it’s my niece.


February 11: She comes back over. We bake cookies. We build snow forts. We go swimming. She asks repeatedly about our project, but there’s just not time. We’re having fun!


February 14: It’s perfect! What better day for the big reveal? I dig out the burlap and scissors, only to find Mimi coloring. She invites me to join her.


February 15: I admit defeat.



Until next time. Karen 1: Crafting 1

Random Thursday: Rusty Procrastinator Edition

1. So it’s been a few Thursdays since I randomed it up for all y’all. I’m feeling a bit rusty in the writing department. Writing is like exercise: when you’re on, you’re on. Conversely, when you don’t work your muscles, they atrophy. When your muscles atrophy, your butt gets big, I mean, inertia sets in, and so does fear. Both are hard to overcome, but fear might be the more difficult of the two.

I speak from a place of experience.

2. As we all know, I am a Master Procrastinator. It’s true. I used to bemoan my outcast state (name that sonnet), until the day the question was proposed at a writers’ conference and the entire auditorium rose to their feet.

I’d found my people!

Seriously, Google “Are Writers Procrastinators?” and you’ll come up with nearly 9,000,000 hits.

Procrastinators rule!

3. What was my point?

4. In an effort to deal with the exercise inertia (ahem), I agreed to run the BolderBoulder 10k on Memorial Day with Chris. Talk about fear. Talk about an example of procrastination biting you (me!) on the hiney. Talk about decisions that seem insignificant on the life-event scale when you make them, but then cause you to wake repeatedly in a cold sweat…


5. Procrastination doesn’t always bite me on the hiney. Many times, it works in my favor. Many times, dare I say, the Mother Ship herself provides me with positive reinforcement.

Positive Reinforcement (n): the offering of desirable effects or consequences for a behavior with the intention of increasing the chance of that behavior being repeated in the future.

Example: Tuesday is garbage day. I knew the very full can needed to be taken out to the curb. But it was cold. And windy like you read about. When I heard the rumble of the garbage truck I raced to the front door only to see it exiting the neighborhood. “You had one job!” I told myself as I slumped against the open door.

And then it happened. No fewer than seven empty garbage cans blew down the street like so much tumbleweed.

Procrastinators rule!

6. Molly has been running with me. We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood that borders dedicated Open Space. The established trails on that space form two large loops, which, when combined, equal about 1.5 miles of varied terrain (according to the track coach, but I swear it’s more like 5). Molly and I are daily visitors. I slog up and down hills as she takes every opportunity to sniff, explore, and chase rabbits while periodically doubling back to check that I’m still breathing.


7. In an effort to deal with the writing inertia, I procrastinated. I procrastinated the writing of several final papers and an extensive treatment plan required to complete the Master Clinical Herbalist program. As a result, I wrote them all in one day, under extreme duress and with exceedingly sweaty armpits. As a result of that, I think I worked the rust out.

See? Procrastinators rule!

Brilliant Idea: Manitou Springs Seed Library

Some things are just so cool that they must be recorded. This is one of those things.

If you’re not familiar with the 3.03 square miles of wonder that is Manitou Springs, let me bring you up to speed.

Manitou Springs, which climbs the mountains just west of Colorado Springs, is home to the world famous Manitou Penny Arcade, where the Wonder Hub and I had our first date. (I schooled him at Skeeball. He killed me at everything else.)


photo credit: springs bargains.com


Manitou Springs is home to the Emma Crawford Festival and Coffin Races, in which I got to participate last year.


This is the only thing I will ever (ever, ever) have to do with zombies.


My zombie BFF




Manitou Springs is home to Kinfolks Mountain Shop, where you and your good dog can get a beverage and snacks while listening to live music.


Molly Sue making friends


Perhaps most famously, Manitou Springs is home to the Incline, on which you gain 2,000 breath-taking feet in elevation during an .88 mile climb.


Oh yes we will!


Top ‘o the Incline. From left: Moose, Bubba, Moi, Monkey


As you can see, I have a fair amount of experience with Manitou Springs. I thought I knew all that this gem has to offer. When Katie Sanders*, instructor extraordinaire from the North American School of Clinical Herbalism, told me about the Manitou Springs Seed Library, I was intrigued. A library? Of seeds?

Yes, friends. A library of seeds. Check it out.


The library building was given to the city by Andrew Carnegie in 1910

From manitouseedlibrary.org:

“The purpose of our project is twofold. We want to promote the development and preservation of landrace heirloom seeds and varieties that are well adapted to the arid growing conditions and short growing season that are typical of Colorado’s Front Range and in conjunction, promote the development of an equally well adapted body of local knowledge on how to save and pass on those seeds to future growers.”



A card catalogue of seeds!

“Seed libraries work by creating a relationship with regional growers. The seed library offers free seeds and a means of regional seed exchange while teaching people how to save those seeds successfully. In return, growers commit to bringing back a portion of the seed produced by those plants at the end of the growing season. The returned seed enters the library catalog and becomes available to more growers the following season, who will in turn, borrow and return even more.”



My next adventure!

This is the list of seeds I chose. I wanted every. single. thing. I did. Seeing as how I need to return twice as many seeds in the fall, I forced myself to stick with seeds that were marked easy to harvest, except in the case of the peppers, which I couldn’t resist.

It is my understanding that the library will have a class on planting and growing this month, and then another in the fall on harvesting seeds. I will endeavor to attend, bumble my way through, and report back to you.

See what I mean? Some things are so cool that they must be recorded.


*You can follow Katie at Garden Fairy Apothecary on Facebook and http://farmgirlschool.com