Archive for May, 2012

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Dear Ben&Jerry…

What does one say at a time like this? We have been together for so long… years really… you have brought a sweetness and richness into my life, like no other. You were there during my university days, when I crammed for finals and pulled all-nighters to complete my term papers (using a card-catalog and on a word-processor, no less). You were there when my roommates were out and I found myself home alone. You were there when he said “I wish I could have two wives.” You understood how that stung… that he was telling me I was second best. You waited for me while I spent 6 months in Moscow, Russia and two months in Duisburg, Germany for internships… I had to put some distance between me and him. You understood. You remained by my side as I struggled with my decision to leave Germany and its possibilities.

You were there as I celebrated with others – my birthdays, college graduation and my first “real” job. You were by my side for far too many lonely nights in my first apartment… as I wondered if I would ever find him. You were there for girl’s night with my Mom and sisters – where we had a rule of “no digging for the good stuff” as we passed you around… you never complained about our movie choices, although others might have… you didn’t even fuss if we had already seen it several times ;0} You were there as I had to be fitted for yet another bridesmaid dress and not my wedding gown (I do have 6 sisters… so it is to be expected, but I am also the oldest, so not really). You were there when I finally met “the one” on-line (you didn’t think I was crazy, even if our families did ;0})… you kept me company on those days where the distance between Massachusetts and California seemed unbearable.

You were there as I struggled as a new wife… transforming our virtual life into a real life… suddenly sharing physical space and not just mental and emotional. You were there as I struggled with infertility… and the empty nursery. You were there when I finally got a job (nanny jobs in Boston do NOT compare to those in California – that was a shock!). You were there when we lost Nessie during our move to Washington… and the many losses since then. You were there as we bought our first home… and stripped and re-finished the floors, and painted the walls and kitchen cabinets.  You were there as I found a better job and quickly moved up within the company. You were there when I saw the writing on the wall and made the move to another company… and celebrated becoming the manager and a bigger, much bigger paycheck. You were by my side when that company closed the doors of my store… and remained by my side as I faced months of rejection and unemployment… You were there as I returned to school as a “mature” student… once again taking exams and writing papers (much easier on a computer – no all-nighters this time).

You were there as I attempted to navigate all the changes that had come my way… as I questioned the future of my marriage and whether I was of any value to anyone… as I wondered if I would ever work again. You were by my side often after I insanely accepted, having actually sought, the job at the weight-loss clinic. I really wish you had spoken up on that one. Now that I think of it, you tried… you showed up almost daily ;0}. You were there as I took on work from home… but found that I needed human interaction. You were there as I waited and waited to hear from that company… the one that had 12,000 applicants for approx. 55 jobs. You were there as I second-guessed my decision to reject a job offer from a different company. It was a job… but I knew I would not be happy, but it was a job. You were there when I finally got that call from the company.

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I’ve spent a little too much time with you… as evidenced by the full curve of my hips. I’ve turned to you often in my days of struggle (and a couple of times in celebration). You never complained. You did everything you could… you brought me cookies, peanut butter-filled pretzels, chocolate, nuts, caramel, coffee and cobbler. You even tried yogurt for me. It really isn’t you, it’s me. I’ve changed.

This has to be the end. You no longer have what I need. I’m sure there is someone out there for you… someone who needs you. Don’t hide yourself away. I know someone will see you and stop in their tracks. They’ll swoon and go weak in the knees, as I once did. They’ll open that freezer door, pick you up and bring you home. Heck, some may not even wait that long to open you up and take in all you have to offer.

It was good… very, very good, while it lasted. But I need to move on to something different… I’ll think of you every once in a while. In fact, I’ll be carrying memories of our times together for a few more months, but I’m going to work hard to put it behind me. I hope you understand this is how it must be… we must part ways… spooning with you is no longer an option.

love,

Kari Ann

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10 things I know to be true:

1. EVERYTHING has its season… so give your dream some time

2. first impressions are tainted with assumptions… so give ’em a second chance

3. laughter IS the best medicine… try it

4. mankind CAN reverse the damage we’ve done to the earth… if we work with her

5. karma is a bitch… but ONLY if you are

6. community is vital… shared vision can bring about miracles

7. love and hope transform; fear and hate paralyze… I choose love and hope

8. nature heals… turn to the land, the mountains, the sea… and breathe

9. there is always, ALWAYS a choice… even if it is to simply choose to see it from the brighter-side

10. we find what we seek… know what you want so you can recognize it when it is front of you

 

*inspired by Sarah Kay

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One of my favorite quotes… from the movie Chocolat.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot the last few days…
What do I embrace, create, and include?

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So my niece made a casual comment that I can’t stop thinking about. She and her family had been watching family videos from a few years back… with no malice at all, this 11-year-old said “you were so pretty back then.”  I knew what she meant, because I’m always thinking about back then… when I was a size 8. I had worked hard to get there… losing 60 lbs. through diet and exercise. The odd thing is that in my mind’s eye, I am still that size 8 body… so much so, that I am genuinely surprised when I see a picture of myself in my real-life size 18!

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So now the journey begins again… I’ve let others determine my worth for the last three years… for too long. It no longer matters that the store I managed was one of the 69 stores that closed in 2009, that my resume was overlooked/rejected over and over again for two years, that I accepted an emotionally damaging part-time job – just to have a job… I didn’t know how to value myself without a job. It no longer matters that I turned to food to numb the pain and deep sadness.

I learned to say “no” to job offers that didn’t allow me to be me… that didn’t allow me to be comfortable in my own skin. Those “no’s” allowed me to say “yes” to the co-op I work for now… a company that sees the importance of life balance…

Now I need to tap into that same power to say “no” to some foods and activities (or better said lack of activity) so that I can say “yes” to other foods and lots more activities… and “yes” to a whole pile of adorable clothes just waiting for me to take them out in public… so that who I am in my mind’s eye will be mirrored in snapshots of me ;0}

I must say, this is the calmest I’ve ever faced my struggle with weight. Perhaps it is my new attempt to approach this with kindness… to stop beating myself up for the past and to accept… nay, embrace that I know I have the power to change… to learn to do things differently… better. To face the truth with kindness…

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Sometimes my pursuits and passions get blurry. I lose track of what it is that I really want to spend my hours doing. Sometimes the pursuits and passions of others distract me… please tell me I’m not the only one ;0}

No matter what I pursue, it always comes back to photography and creating images… having that camera in hand… focusing in on a detail… or not. Sometimes it is about creating a feeling… even a reminder. That is what this image is about for me – a reminder of my driving pursuit and passion. It is a reflection of me, creating an image, through a raindrop-smattered window of an art supply store in downtown Olympia (the colors you see are their pens and pencils – just the thought of all those glorious colors makes me giddy)… it captures me with my camera in hand, looking at tools of creativity and expression, through the window of a local business… and the rain of the PNW.

For me, this was a moment of clarity… that happened to come on a day where Hubby and I were pursuing our different pursuits and passions… together and yet apart. He was running the Capital City Half-Marathon and asked me to come document it (and cheer him on). That meant capturing the beginning and the end of the race… with anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours in between.

So I captured what I wanted at the beginning… but now what was I going to do? It was early on a Sunday morning and the only things open were the local coffee shops. I could have popped in for a coffee, as hundreds of others were doing, but that was too many people for me. So instead I went window shopping ;0}

There is so much eye-candy to be found in our city… you just have to know where to look… I’ll give you a hint; they are all local shops! And so much inspiration… one day, one day soon, my work will be found in one of these shops… at least that is the hope of my heart!!

And of course there were some other things along the way that caught my eye…

The snail is only cute because she is not in my garden ;0}

Are your pursuits and passions a blur? Have you lost focus? What helps you see clearly? Do one thing this week that will help you bring it all back into focus… sometimes just asking the question will get you more clarity. It’s worth a try!

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I’ve been on the search for inspiration for this desired transformation… for me this means images, color… and of course warm cookies and milk ;0}… OH, and I have mentioned Instagram? I’m hooked!!

I’ve been thinking about revamping my blog for several months now. It was no longer serving its purpose – to delight me and my readers. It was feeling more like a have-to vs. a want-to. I spent more time coming up with excuses than I did actual posts. So when the email, announcing Susannah Conway’s “Blogging from the Heart” Workshop, arrived I knew the time had come to take action. I’ve participated in several of her other workshops… and have loved each one of them. I knew this one would be no different.

The six-week workshop just started Monday, and already my attitude, intention and excitement have shifted. Part of this could be the group of like-minded people Susannah’s courses always attract ;0} They have allowed me into their lives, and it has been a pleasant surprise! I’ve read some of their blog posts, checked out their pictures on Instagram (I, of course had to create my own account – biglittlebig. How could I not? It’s taking pictures, manipulating them, and then sharing them. It screams me!). And then of course there is Pinterest. A great place to collect images and inspiration. In fact I used it for one of the assignments to determine my ideal reader.

So the next few weeks will bring about more changes. I will continue to have posts focused on homesteading… it is part of who I am, but only a part. There are so many other things I want to share… things I am excited about. I am sure some of you will choose no longer to follow me. For that I am sorry… I hope you will stay with me @ BIGlittleBIG Pinterest and @ BIG little BIG… Homesteading in the PNW’s Facebook Page. These will continue to be focused on homesteading and permaculture.

I hope you will join me on this new journey… if the last few days are any indication, it’s going to be a fun one ;0}

Come on, join me! The more the merrier!!

Kari Ann

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As you can probably guess from the picture above, I lost another hen… a friend, really. I really do get far too attached to these animals, but how can I not? They greet me every morning with a cluck (hens) or a nose bump (bunnies). They are happy to see me… or maybe it’s the food I have in my hand ;0}

Vandana was such a wonderful hen. She was always by my side when I was working in the garden, patiently waiting for a worm. She’d come to the back door and beg for sunflower seeds… I usually gave in. That’s how I knew something was wrong… she wasn’t eating the seeds. In fact, she wasn’t even leaving the coop. She was hunkered down, as if she were laying an egg. That is where she was when I left for work… and where she still was when I returned. I hoped she had gotten out into the yard while I was gone, but I had a sinking feeling that this was not the case.

The following morning she came out of the coop and followed the posse. I was relieved… but noticed she was walking a little slow and kept an unusual distance. Later in the day she was off by herself, soaking up the warmth of the sun in her dust bath. By sundown they were all huddled up in the coop. I was hopeful it was over.

The next morning she came out of the coop slowly. All three girls came to the door for sunflower seeds. They usually body-block each other to get the most seeds, but not this morning. Vandana just looked up at me, with her feathers all fluffed up. My other two hens, Loshka and Suki, were eating up all the seeds, and Vandana just sat there… dozing. THAT was not like her at all.

I had to go to work… but couldn’t stop thinking about my little Vandana… I found myself using my 15 minute break to look up her symptoms. What I found, frightened me. Everything pointed to being egg bound… which, if left untreated, can be fatal. At the very least, I needed to get her warm, so she could relax. I rushed home on my lunch break, cranked up the heat in our small bathroom and ran the shower to get it humid, and made a soft spot for Vandana. She quietly sat there and just looked at me. She had never been inside the house before… let alone in the bathroom with a shower running.  I hoped all would be okay by the time I returned from work.

When I got back from work, I could see that she had not moved… she was still all fluffed and very drowsy. Decided to try the next thing on my list… a soak in a warm bath.  I wasn’t sure how she was going to handle being in a tub full of water, let alone getting her to stay there for at least 20 minutes. Plus,  I had to get the water high enough to cover her rear… luckily I read somewhere that I could apply pressure on her tail and help her settle down into the water. She did settle right down… and then she hardly moved. She did take a couple sips of the water. I dried her and kept her in the bathroom the rest of the night. She didn’t move much.

The next morning I tried to be hopeful. I had the day off so I could keep an eye on her. It was going to be a warm day, so I decided put her back outside. She did not MOVE. And now her tail was down… she looked more like a penguin, than a chicken. She acted like she was no longer capable of walking. I picked up my poor hen and brought her back inside. This time I placed a heating pad under a towel inside a cat carrier. I wanted a dark, warm place for her. I detached the top so I could place her down into the carrier and not squeeze her through the little door. Didn’t want to cause her any more undue stress. She seemed a little off-balance… actually tried to walk out of the carrier, but ended up using her wings almost like crutches. I placed her back inside, there she settled in where she leaned into the side of the carrier and rested her head… I found a vet’s office that saw chickens. They had an opening at 3:30pm.

Getting her to the vet’s office was uneventful. When we got there, I filled out paperwork and then we waited. All I could do was watch her.  I’d stroke her head, and she would just look at me… then she would close her eyes. I kept telling her it would be over soon… and apologizing for taking so long to get her help.

The tech and then the vet came into the room. We decided to go with an x-ray… the least invasive way to see what was going on. I must confess part of me was stressing over the money (I had my own medical bills I was struggling to pay). The x-ray was going to cost me $79… and that was just the x-ray.

The x-ray showed no egg… but my little Vandana was clearly in distress. The vet thought maybe there was an infection and that she was showing signs of dehydration. The plan was to give her fluids under the skin, and send us home with antibiotics and electrolytes… with further instructions to keep her separated from the others until she was back to her normal self. While they had her in the back, giving her fluids, the dollar signs were running through my head, trying to figure out what costs I could cut elsewhere. You see, when I bring an animal into my home/heart, I promise to do all I can to keep them happy, safe, and healthy… at all costs. I chose to join their lives to mine… they are my responsibility.

So my head was already whirling when the vet walked back into the room. My first thought was that she was just updating me… but then she stepped past the table and came close to me. I remember that her hands were folded… I could see she was talking, but it took a moment to realize what she was saying… as they were treating Vandana she became extremely stressed. The vet said she threw her head back and then she was gone – just like that. I just sat there. I had no idea what to do next. She asked if I wanted to take her home to bury her, or if they should add her in with one of the other animals for cremation. I told her I could not bury another animal. I just couldn’t do it… not so soon after losing Goldie. But then the dollar signs started running through my head again… and then guilt for even worrying about such a thing when Vandana had just passed. The vet came closer and put her hand on the back of my shoulder… that seemed to set off my tears. Her touch made it real… and then, as if reading my mind, she said that there would be no charge for any of the services, seeing as she had passed while under their care.

The tech brought in the empty pet carrier… and told me she was holding Vandana when she passed… it was comforting to know that she was in a warm lap when she passed and not on a cold metal table. I carried the empty pet carrier to the car. I tossed it in the back and then just sat in my car and sobbed. Sad that I couldn’t save Vandana… that her last days with me were so miserable… and relieved that I had no vet bill, and then miserable for even thinking about money at a time like this.

It is strange to look out into my garden and only see two chickens wandering around…

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