Friday, July 31, 2009

Motherhood Circa 1965

My mother raised four children without driving a car.

Being the youngest, I spent many summer days walking with my mother a few blocks to purchase and carry the day’s meal. We went almost every day – there wasn’t much a middle-aged woman and a four-year-old could carry – but going to the market was our routine. I never questioned the monotony, but I imagine my mother did.

My summers were spent going to the grocer, and when I became older they included many unsupervised play dates down the street, or worse yet, adult-less supervision in my parent’s backyard swimming pool. My mother never cared to watch us swim. I learned to swim by myself and my new-found summer friends discovered the joys of the water when they visited me on Mansfield Avenue.

My favorite picture of my mother is with me, walking hand-in-hand as we prepared to shovel a driveway after the great Chicago snowstorm of 1967. I was the same age Joe is now – 4 – and I’m happy. I hate snow but for some reason, on this particular day in my life, I’m sporting a huge grin and I’m happy.

That photo is more than 40 years old, and at 46, I’m the same age my mother was in the picture. I’m still happy and if my mother were still alive, she would be smiling too. She would be happy that I’m a 4-year-old’s mother, and happy that I am the wife of a man who respects my independence. My hunch is she would say, “It’s about time you got out of the damn cold.” She was the one who dreamed big.

My summers are spent driving now, going to the occasional grocer, or maybe four because I have choices. And Joe’s life is filled with parks, libraries, parties, restaurants, museums, beaches, fresh-picked fruit, and adult supervision, at least for now.

I’d like to think Joe is happy. Maybe we need to shovel some snow ... and take a picture.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Out of this World!

Picked fresh this morning.
I may have left this stunning globe zucchini on the vine a bit too long but I'm sure it will be delicious. I cannot wait to cook it up this evening!
Maybe a little stuffed zucchini?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

You are naming it WHAT?

I must confess: my husband who hates farm chores cannot stand the name of this blog. When I first mentioned my idea, he had several reactions, most of which went like this:

“I don’t want Joe saying that name. Ever.”

“It’s offensive, Karen. It’s too close to the other word.”

“Think of your digital imprint. Do you really want to be associated with that name?”

“What will our families think?” And what exactly is a mothercluck?"

So I did what other dutiful wives often do. I ignored his conservative views and registered the domain. It wasn’t taken. I thought, hey, I’m on to something.

Joe knows the name of the blog and he’s said it a few times, and as a result, my husband who hates farm chores has rolled his eyes a few times…. well, actually, a few hundred times. It’s not nice to call people a mothercluck.

A few people have told me they never thought of the other word when talking about this blog. I’m grateful for that. But for now, mothercluck it is.

And I don’t mind being called that.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Eggs of a Different Color

As much as I try, I don’t and can’t eat a lot of eggs. My morning chores barely allow me to have a good, decent breakfast and by the time I get to my destination, my sustenance of coffee, two cheese sticks, and a yogurt have to be good enough to carry me until lunch.

On the rare morning I have eggs, the shape, size, and texture of them always surprises me. Always. Chicken and Pox’s eggs never disappoint. Chicken is older so her eggs are smaller and a touch paler, while Pox – in all her youthful glory -- gives me rich golden tones. They are divine.

I believe it’s true you are what you eat. Chicken and Pox eat a solid diet of tomatoes, corn, lettuce, peaches, and a whole host of composting worms. All these tasty morsels add up to a splendid tasty egg coated in a gorgeous shell.

In the coming weeks, my morning routine of dairy and caffeine will change. I’ll have more time to enjoy Chicken and Pox, their crazy, desperate morning clucks that cry for freedom, and the wholesomeness of their speckled brown eggs. I cannot wait. Chicken and Pox -- and their eggs -- deserve to be appreciated.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

California Dreamin'

Joe and I recently went to visit some friends in Orange County and on the way home I took advantage of a sleeping Joe and drove along California’s great treasure, Pacific Coast Highway. It was a gorgeous sight – the sun was at its lowest point in the day, kites were flying in the horizon, and I could even taste the sweet saltiness of the ocean.

I haven’t cruised along PCH in nearly a decade. During that journey’s brief moments of tranquility, I thought about my day, my life, and the changes I’m about to embark on in the weeks ahead. Most importantly, I thought about Joe’s future and what it will mean for him to be a Californian.

I’ve lived in this state nearly a third of my life. I consider myself more of a Californian that a Midwesterner, although my body is built for those long winter nights and for heavy lifting. I love this state, and I love my life and the great opportunities offered here. We’ve been fortunate. Very fortunate. Granted, the state is pretty messed up right now. But I do believe that people will continue to flock here.

I’m committed to showing Joe all that this great state offers, and for him to embrace a life of sun, innocence, and cool ocean breezes. When he’s a few years older, we’ll travel again along Pacific Coast Highway, just when the sun is about to set, and we’ll talk about his adventures and this state of great opportunity.

For now, it’s safe to say, he’ll never be a Midwestern boy. Thank God. I don't think my waistline could take any more meat.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Morning Pickins'

Harvested and gathered this morning.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


My biggest fear came true.

Today, when I opened up the bottom compartment of my worm bin I found a whole litter of white, inch-long wigglers feasting on my organic matter. It didn’t help that my compost didn’t smell like its usual earthiness. It, in fact, smelled like dog shit.

The chickens luckily were on hand to help me cull the nasty willies, which actually are soldier fly larvae (Diptera: Stratiomyidae), harmless creatures that are heat tolerant and very aggressive eaters. I had some moldy rye bread mixed in the worm bed that didn’t help the smell much. While the hens feasted, I gave the worm bedding a good turn to give it some much-needed air and emptied the worm tea that had collected. I’m hoping for the return of that lovely, earthy smell by the end of the week.

In the meantime, I hope I’ve eradicated the larvae problem, at least temporarily. It was good for the chickens – just not good for me. Ick.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Which Came First?

The chicken or the egg?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pillow Talk

My husband who hates farm chores told me last night that I need to move on: Michael Jackson is dead and I need to focus on something other than how many needle marks MJ had in his neck due to Demerol injections.

I know my husband was kidding when he told me this, but I cannot blame him for feeling this way. He covered many celebrity trials while he was a reporter and even covered Michael’s molestation trial for a few days. He's a jaded former newspaperman.

I didn't have much appreciation for Michael when he was alive. But he was so huge and influential during my college years that he was hard to ignore. I'll miss Michael for his talent and his crazy-ass bizarre behavior.

For these lazy days of summer, surfing the Internet for trashy MJ overdose news feels just right. At least for now there's no need to move on.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mouthwatering, Bell-Ringing Goodness

This past weekend, I became inspired by all the fresh fruit that's available and made a dessert I haven't attempted in six years -- a tasty and very light Pavlova. There are three basic steps to this impressive-looking, Australian-based dessert: meringue with a touch of raspberry vinegar, a fresh whipped cream base, and lots of wholesome colorful fruit.

I used our freshly picked blueberries and strawberries (we went to Underwood Farms in Moorpark over the Fourth but that's another story), and the peaches were from the local farmers market. The longest part was setting the meringue, which took about three hours.

The result: A surprisingly easy and delicious dessert. And although I had my doubts: it even held up quite well the next day!


Monday, July 6, 2009

The Greatest Invention

The washing machine. The toilet. Birth control. All are some of the greatest inventions of all time. But for me, the Roomba ranks right up there -- in theory.

I was skeptical at first. How could a fully automatic, cordless device have the brainpower to pick up the mounds of dog hair and five years of accumulated dust in our house -- not to mention miscellaneous amounts of string, paper and the occasional dog goo? But trust me when I tell you this: it works and it works rather well. But like a lot of love relationships, someone always will screw you in the end.

This past Christmas, I bit the bullet and bought a $100 model that works on hardwood floors. Still not brimming with confidence, I used it to suck up the dirtiest part of our home: our bedroom.

Now don't get me wrong. I like a VERY clean bedroom. I like a mite-free bedroom. I like clean sheets and a freshly made bed. But with two chickens, two dogs, a four-year-old son, and a husband who hates farm chores, a dust and hair-free bedroom has taken a backseat to everyday living.

Within 30 minutes, the Roomba ate most of the dust and mounds of dog hair. Our bedroom floor actually looked clean and better yet, it FELT clean to the touch. I was in love.

For some, the greatest thing about the Roomba may be the clean floors but for me, it allows me to do other things like surf the Internet, watch television, or write this blog.

I've talked to others who loved their Roomba but were disappointed that it failed to do its magic after three months. Mine is still going moderately strong -- enough to be one of the greatest inventions of its kind, at least in my book.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Eating Outside the Box

Back in March when we first brought the girls home, Joe was so excited he had to have his lunch on top of the chicken coop. What a lovely way to welcome them home.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Monthly Egg Count

It was a very productive month at Mothercluck-land!

Chicken and Pox laid a total of 52 lovely eggs during the month of June, matching May's egg production total.

It seems the hens are on a regular schedule – each one took a day’s rest four times during the month. And unlike a serious disgusting problem in April, Chicken produced healthy, hard-shelled eggs every time. No yolks running down her leg! Thank goodness.