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Friday, April 24, 2009

The Vacation

I wish I could give you a play by play of the farm vacation but 1.) you really don’t care that much and 2.) I don’t have that kind of time.

But I will do an extended post on the highlights, observations and musings. More details with likely come out as this trip cannot be summed up here.

I had really no expectations of how this vacation was going to be but it soon became clear that this was like no other “vacation” I had ever been on. Ilsa and I spent a few minutes trying to rename this trip and came to a cross between agro-tourism, alternative vacation, manual labor camp. It will take me a few days to really process everything but I do know that from this trip I gathered a new appreciation for food, manual labor, my place and position of privilege, hot showers, and friendship. I learned that value of sweat equity is immeasurable. I have a renewed sense of hope, spirit, optimism and faith. And I saw the power of prayer and action come to life.

Things I did: Raked, hiked, shoveled manure, transplanted seedlings, removed rocks from the fields, rescued barb wire from the forest, picked up litter, removed roots, demolished a dog house, built a deer fence, ate, laughed, relaxed, soaked up the sun, got soaked by the rain, watched a thunderstorm, fell asleep to the pouring rain, saw a moose, porcupine, raccoon, wild turkey, turkey vulture, hawks, slept, cooked, dunkin’ dought-ed, read, and so much more.

Besides the many “first” listed above, here are some notable first: First time in a laundry mat, first time to OHOP pizza with “The West Wing” shrine, first time eating fava beans, rice cakes with peanut butter, and leeks, first time not able to get the dirt out from under my toe nails, first time cutting a guy’s hair, plus a few more.

Things I did not do: Shave, cry, blow dry my hair, put on makeup, miss the office, drive a car, sit in traffic, wake up to an alarm, or anything else really related to city living.

One of the best things about mine and Ilsa friendship is our ability to talk the same talk, be brutally honest with each other with no judgment or resentment, and laugh at the ridiculousness of life. Here are just a few conversation highlights.

Pseudo Athleticism
Just Getting Back from my run while getting ready to shovel manure:
I: Look at you and your pseudo-athletic look.
C: Wait, are you saying that I’m pseudo athletic or the my look is pseudo athletic?
I: Your look! YOU are in no way athletic at all!
C: Thanks.

Clive Owen Talk
After I was deep into watching “The West Wing” before sleeping
I: Wait…So does that mean you’re chaste now?
I remove earphones
C: I guess?
I: So, you’re telling me that if Clive Owen walked through the door right now you wouldn’t sleep with him?
C: That’s a ridiculous question! Clive Owen, under no circumstance will walk through that door.
I: Ok, but hypothetically, if Clive Owen were to walk through that door, you’re telling me you would not sleep with him.
C: (Long Pause) Well….
I: C’mon.
C: Well, no, (insert long explanation here about emotionless sex, my inabilities to participate in such, blah blah blah)
I: Oh ok, cool. Back to your show. Thanks for the summit.
C: Thanks, glad we sorted that out.
My Thoughts: Make-out session, absolutely.

Grocery Store Trip
We were sent to the grocery store to pick up milk. We came back with 10 bags of groceries. Ilsa says, “Never send two skinny hungry girls to the grocery store.”

After Removing 250’ of barb wire from the forest, Ilsa calls the hardware store to inquire about the cost of barb wire:
I: Yes, Hello, How are you? Can you tell me how much your barbwire costs?
Hardware Store Owner (In the loudest most Massachusetts accent): $69.99 for a quarter mile
My thoughts: Are you effing kidding me?
C: Oh, that’s great!

All in all, awesome trip. Awesome friendship. Awesome way to celebrate a beginnings new.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Countdown: 1 Day

Consider this a public service announcement: Your tax return is due in 1 day.
Countdown to Anahata (The Farm): 1 Day

Ilsa called and was screaming at me today. Screaming. Screaming for joy, I think. I think the real purpose of her call was to 1.) tell me about the hawks nest with the baby hawks, 2.) share wha a beautiful day it was on the farm, 3.) make me laugh. Her day consisted of spreading cow manure. She was going to wait until I got there to help. I secretly thought, “Spreading cow-s is not my idea of a vacation.” But hanging in the sun with forest and fields…that, my friends, is a vacation.

I’m so ready I could burst.

Best things said all day:

“Does this look like a lot to you?” – Boss man referring to his Due Date Monitor (Yes, now would be a good day to look at your Due Date Monitor. And Yes, 3 pages does seem like a lot. Yes, yes it does.)

“I’m going to run out of days and when I do, its not going to be pretty.” – Boss man (Really? It being April 14th and all…)

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Countdown: 2 Days

Consider this a public service announcement: Your tax return is due in 2 days.
Countdown to Anahata (The Farm): 2 Days

I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job.
And, that’s not working.
See 5 Day Countdown.
Get me out.

On a sidenote: A homeless man did call me gorgeous. These days, I'll take it!

The Countdown: 3 Days

Consider this a public service announcement: Your tax return is due in 3 days.Countdown to Anahata (The Farm): 3 Days

Well, its Easter. I suppose something reverent should come to mind besides the fact I wish I were more reverent. But I will say this: The farm is just starting out. The land once grew life, a family, memories. Now there is a new opportunity to breathe new life into it. New memories and new opportunities to find hope, healing and at the very least a vegetable or two. So on Easter, I pray for new beginning, life renewed and a love far greater than we will ever know.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Biel Body Update

Here’s how the past month has gone:

Week 1: Felt very inspired and determined. Took the before pictures; that was a reality check. I know in my heart of hearts I can do this. I ate really well, exercised hard. I’m tracking what I’m eating at every meal and my snacks. I re-cut out wheat and trying to eat whole foods (non-processed foods).

Week 2: I was hungry. So hungry. Still running outside and returned to the gym, including spinning class. Going ok with food, indulging a little more than I should. But still really watching my sugar intake because that is my biggest weakness. I brought in my yoga ball to work and now sit on that to help with the core and improve posture. Still working on strength training and some new cardio like jump rope and stairs.

Week 3: Hungry, cranky, tired of sitting on an effing ball. Couldn’t get enough to eat and there are not enough hours in the day. I’m tired. If I ate one more salad I might have gone ape-s on someone one. I’ve eaten wheat, lots of sugar, fried food (I never!) and dairy. Which makes me feel like ass. Feeling de-motivated. I’ve got a long ways to go and my mood and perspective are not helping. Every day has been, “Ok, this is the day to start over.” I’m tired of starting over and kicking myself for giving into whims when I know I my willpower is stronger than I’m demonstrating.

Week 4: On the re-bound from a crap week. Have a fresh new outlook. Back to sitting on the ball without cheating. Staved off the sugar cravings. I think the arrival of the sun has helped. Went for really long walks in the sun instead of run which was rejuvenating and really better in the long run. Read a great article called, “Why are you running when you haven’t even learned how to walk?” Great insight. So I’m learning to walk to help achieve my shorter long term goals. Had meals and snacks that I’ve really enjoyed.


I might have either 1.) a hollow leg OR 2.) 6 stomachs, like a cow. While I cannot confirm or deny the possibility of either, I’m claiming both. You should see how much I can eat! The vast amount of food that I can eat really is astonishing, unfeminine and expensive. It must stop.

While I am more tired, I have more energy, if that makes sense. My skin feels good after a good sweat. I fantasize that I can see some new definition in my arms but I really don’t know. I’m not a huge fan of the appearance of my arms so I generally keep them hidden from sight. I can see definition in my hip flexor muscle. All around been a good first month. One down, two to go.

Chances of winning: 87%

Saturday, April 11, 2009

In 24 Hours

The best things said to me in the past 24 hours:

One of the partners said, “you look most elegant today.” I just got back from the gym so I not sure what that says.

“In the meantime, can I be of service to you? Do you need a large box moved, I have been working out.” - MH. *OMG I about died.

“I am glad I moved to Petersham but there are some kinks that need to be worked out: source of income and spouse. Can’t wait to figure both of those pieces out!” Generally the former is worked out before a move, but whatevs….I do like how she refers to it as a “kink” rather than something larger than most people may see it.

Lastly, Lord bless the person who found my Amex on the floor at the gym and turned it into the front desk. Thank you kind soul.

Countdown: 4 Days

Consider this a public service announcement: Your tax return is due in 4 days.

Countdown to Anahata (The Farm): 4 Days

Pre-vacation anxiety is settling in. I have lots to do so that I can feel ok when on vacation. Laundry, clean, *cough*dopersonaltaxreturn*cough*, grocery shopping, pay bills, blog, pack (what does one pack to go farming?), etc.

That’s all.

Please people, get your return done. OR at least extend.

Countdown: 5 Days

Consider this a public service announcement: Your tax return is due in 5 days.

Countdown to Anahata (The Farm): 5 Days

I really don’t have much to say about the farm today because work in getting in the way of my personal life and have quite had the time to think about anything beyond what I need to do in the next 5 minutes.

C’mon people, let’s rally…get your return in!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Random Thoughts: Round Five

  • I just called one of those phone banks in India pretending to be “British Airways.” So weird. I thought of the movie Slumdog Millionaire and Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat.
  • One of my favorite things to do is sit on hold with airlines….favorite. And by favorite I mean, makes me want to poke my eyeballs out.
  • Yesterday in kickboxing, the instructor said, “I don’t swear is class so I can shake it, spank it, slap it all I want.”…or something along those lines. I was hysterically laughing on the inside. There are just some moves that I won’t do in public.
  • Recent Music Appreciation: Stone Temple Pilots, Counting Crows, & Pearl Jam. And I’m about 10 year behind the popularity….which is about right.
  • I’m holding off on watching the seventh and final season of The West Wing because once it’s over I will become a shell of a human being. Its so brilliant. I will be searching for a new show so recommendation are now being accepted.
  • King of Leon’s Sex on Fire, is my favorite song to rock out to. If I could break 100mph on the open road, I would want to do it to this song.
  • Have you ever typed a word that you insist you’ve spelled correctly only to have that annoying red line come up? Then you right click to change it and you get “No Suggestions.” I get that all the time and it makes me feel soooo not smart. I think its because I take liberty with language and make words up. I’m allowed.
  • I really need to stop borrowing the internet.
  • My bus goes through the tunnel and at my stop, the driver always announces the Post Office. This seems unnecessary because 1.) its not like a great tourist destination that holds some historic value; 2.) it quite an ugly post office so there really is no need to go publicizing it; 3.) Who really goes to the post office anymore and is it really so many people that is needs to be announced?
  • Whenever my boss wants me to make of copy of something he tells me to, “take a picture of it.” I had never heard this before here and every time he says it I think, “is that anything like making a copy of it?”
  • Edmonds may become the first city in Washington to regulate/demand/charge for the use of plastic bags. This is when politics makes me livid. Yes, please now tell me how and how not to get my groceries home. Seat Belt law….fine. Helmet Law…annoying but whatever. In loco parentis laws…stifling but pick your battles. My problem: I don’t plan far enough ahead of when I do or do not go to the grocery store, let alone planning to bring used grocery bags with me. That’s why I never buy green bananas! I don’t plan that far ahead! I am all about saving the planet but c’mon. Taxing me on plastic bags is like spitting on a forest fire. I don’t live in Edmonds but I fear it could catch on.

The Countdown: 6 Days

Consider this a public service announcement: Your tax return is due in 6 days.

Countdown to Anahata (The Farm): 6 Days

For today’s countdown, I’m nourishing my inner list-maker and going to town.

What I Won’t Do on Vacation:
Checking email
Doing my hair
Putting on make up
Driving Bid Red (although she will be safe in Bellevue at the car-sitter’s)
Wearing a skirt

Things I Might Do on Vacation:
Go into the big city
Watch the sunrise…(I wouldn’t count on it)
Get eaten alive by mosquitoes
Dig in dirt
Physical labor as much as my poor excuse of muscles can do

What I Will Do on Vacation:
Cook lots of healthy, organic food.
Read….I’m only bringing 5 books
Ride a bike
Laugh…a lot
Make decisions
Move on
Watch the sun set

The Countdown: 7 Days

Consider this a public service announcement: Your tax return is due in 7 days.

Countdown to Anahata (The Farm): 7 days

Its snowing in Petersham apparently. Better there than here because if we have any more snow in Seattle, someone might go postal. Not me, I love the snow, but someone. The forecast for Petersham is cold at night, warmish during the day and mostly dry. If I didn’t think “thumbs up” was a really lame way to express something good, I would give the weather a thumbs up.

There were wild turkey and a porcupine in the back yard on the farm yesterday. I hope I get to see them.

I got my “PreFlight Notification” in the inbox today. It sent a quick twinge of fear because there really is so much to do before I go. We’ll see if it gets done.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Random Thoughts: Round Four

  • “Skinny jeans” should be re-named to “make you feel fat jeans.” Especially when worn straight from the dryer.
  • My left leg is noticeably larger (and stronger) than my right. This makes me feel unbalanced.
  • Something I’m not particularly proud of: I love country music. Like really love it. I love real music, too, so save your judgement.
  • I’m not a big fan of being called “Ms.” Or “Ma’am.” Not sure why. Maybe because it has a connotation of maturity and sense of responsibility, of which I have neither.
  • I really don’t like restrooms. Public or otherwise. Really my own is the only one and even at that….gross. It wasn’t until I got to college that I was able to start using restaurant restrooms more easily after being forced to share a community bathroom my first year. Lucky Jason had the boat which had 2 bathrooms so my time there limited the use of the community bathrooms. It wasn’t until moving to New York that my restroom standard plummeted to non-existent. It wasn’t until Egypt where I peed in a whole in the ground AND peed outside for the first time (in the Sahara Desert, thankyouverymuch). This recently has become problematic since I’ve been drink water by the gallon. The restrooms at work are fine, but still…
  • I picked a pencil out of my writing utensil container. The pencil had teeth marks. Two habits I don’t have: biting my nails and chewing on my pencils. The pencil is now in the trash.
  • A co-worker of mine was talking about the men’s locker room at the same gym we go to. His comments were in regard to the lack of modesty in the locker room. This grosses me out beyond belief. Don’t get me wrong, I love men, but a bunch of naked ones in a locker room. Gross. Men, it is not like this in the women’s locker room. And the women that are naked, you wouldn’t want to see them.
  • I would love to be a librarian…just would prefer not to look like one. Which is currently my look now.
  • I can’t find my debit card….brillant.
  • The more and more I work in public accounting the more and more I am convinced that money cannot and will not by you happiness.
  • My brain totally feels like intellectual mush right now. Kind of like how my bum feels.
  • I use pure raw sugar as a skin exfoliator and organic olive oil straight from the jar as my nightly moisturizer. It make me feel like a baguette but my skin has never had fewer problems. I’d liked to thank my aesthetician for that tip and swear by her services. Monthly facials are a must for winters in Seattle.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Random Thoughts: Round Three - Week of 3/30

  • Someone called me “svelte” today. I appreciated that because 1.) it was a compliment; and 2.) stellar word choice.
  • "To make $10,000.00 how many jars of pickles do I need to sell?" is like a really bad SAT question....but I’m working on it. Along with researching pickling associations, canning pickles, garlic festivals, and how to start a business in Massachusetts, and rates for renting a CDC kitchen in Greenfield. That’s for a whole separate post.
  • Wow, chocolate really is amazing…I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy some really good stuff recently.
  • I’m about to fall asleep while on hold with British Airways trying to confirm my boss’s seats for his trip to Scotland. Not to sound ungrateful but this is 4 years of higher education working at its finest. Oozing pride as I write and wait.
  • Its snowed today….its April in Seattle.
  • Be joyful.
  • So over the rain.
  • My boss was literally pounding his head on his desk this morning….that’s what busy season does to you.
  • I love when songs come on the radio and remind me of a really great memory and I can’t help but smile. This happened twice today.
  • A guy on the street yesterday asked me where the closest Starbucks was. I thought, “Look around dude, this is Seattle.” I said, “Go to the end of the block, take a right, and it’s on your left.”

Spring Arrived in Seattle on April 5, 2009

Woke up ear-ly to meet Randy and Erin at the Pancake Carole in Bellevue. Rainier Mountain was out in its full glory. Enjoyed strawberry pancakes, hash browns, and great conversation.

Sun was rising and the air was fresh.

Drove to mom’s and dad’s to meet mom to drive to Mt. Vernon to meet with more family. Mt. Baker majestically silhouetted against the sky. Enjoyed a lovely lunch with Auntie Nadine, Mom and friends. Surrounded in heat as the sun warmed the drive.

Sun was out and it was beautiful.

Drove back home to mom and dad’s. Gave Big Red a bath. She sparkles now. Was a very reflective, thoughtful and productive car washing. I realized I’ve been washing cars from the same brown bucket my entire life. It could quite possibly be the most perfect bucket if there were such a thing. I hope that bucket never gets a hole. Not sure I’ll be able to wash a car without it.

Sun was glowing and warm.

Retreating from the indoors, I crawled into the truck bed of Dad’s Ford. Rolled up the jeans, took off the shoes, removed as many layer of clothes as to remain modestly appropriate should a wild animal came across my path and I need to dart for safety. I basked in the sun. Started a new book. Listened to the birds and felt the sun soaking into my wintered skin.

Sun couldn’t satiate quick enough.

Today was the real first day of spring after a very long winter. I could go on metaphorically speaking, but I mean it as literal as possible. The sun literally tingled my skin. The birds were lively and active. The country fields were colorful and flourishing. I wish there were a grander word for “glorious” that I knew, because that’s the word I would use.

Did I mention the sun?....Glorious.