I may have reached my chicken limit

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

By now, you probably know how I feel about chickens. If not, let me remind you. I don't like them. They freak me out. So you can imagine my horror when I came across this.


It's a game created by a real estate blog in which you can calculate how many goats, sheep, guinea pigs, cows or (shudder) chickens it would take to keep your yard  manicured. And covered in crap.

Now that we've moved to the country, we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 acres of land. That's a lot of mowing. Assuming we had grass. At some point -  once we've been out here a few years, removed from society as we know it, living like recluses, growing our own food and braiding each others hair while wearing orange jumpsuits - we might in fact turn to the animals for help. Mostly because by that time, no one else will be brave enough to come near us.

I had to try it. I selected chickens. Of course I did:

I entered my acreage:

And was presented with this:

Eight thousand one hundred and thirty one chickens - in my yard?! I would be forever trapped in my house. My daughter on the other hand, would be in pure heaven. The kid loves those birds so much she once did a somersault right through a pile of fresh chicken shit while eating marshmallows.

Don't ask.

Let me assure you, you haven't lived until you've had to wash poultry turds out of a toddler's head at ten o'clock at night.

Try it yourself. I mean the game. Not the late night crap removal. Unless of course you decide to gather 12,197 guinea pigs to mow your lawn - in which case you are totally on your own.

Reduce Animal Unemployment: Hire A Goat By Movoto Real Estate

No, really.

That time I was discovered...

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I was sitting at the downtown art studio, on one of the comfy Adirondack chairs. The sun was low in the sky - the day drawing to a close. 

I had dragged the chair to the side of the studio, so it faced the ocean. And, as it had been a rather warm day, a large bottle of Evian water was sitting on the ground next to me.

As I contemplated whether or not to lock up a little early, a man wandered around the corner. 

He glanced at me - several times - before gazing out on the view. Then he turned around, looked me up and down and asked if I would be okay with him taking a few photographs. 

Here's what I thought: "Photos? Of me? I'm being discovered! This is just like in the movies!"

Here's what I said: "Sure, okay."

"I'll be back in a bit with my equipment," he said, "I hope you don't mind waiting."

As soon as he disappeared from sight, I headed for the washroom to make sure I had no lettuce in my teeth. 

Then, I waited.

When the man came back carrying a pile of professional equipment, I knew this was serious. I felt the need to rustle up an entourage.

While he set up his giant camera, I asked, "Where should I sit, or do you want me to stand?" 

He looked at me - strangely - and told me it didn't really matter to him either way.

Of course! I thought. He wants to get some candid shots, you know, to capture my natural beauty.

Then, he asked me where the Evian bottle went. I told him I had cleaned up "the set" and put it in the trash. 

That's when things got weird.

The photographer insisted on having the water bottle back where it was -  next to the Adirondack chair, outside.

I obliged and watched as the pro got down on the ground, directed his lens out the door and starting clicking like crazy - without me in the frame.

It was then that the subject of his shot became abundantly clear. 

It was the Evian bottle, with the ocean as a backdrop.

So. Very. Deflated.

No, really.

Then again, in case you're wondering why the modeling career never panned out... read THIS.

Another reason to keep my mouth shut

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

We went to a classical music event held at a community college this past weekend. No sooner were we in the door and someone had to pee.

It might have been me.

I left the 3 year old with Geoff and headed to the restroom. There were three stalls. The door on the left had an Out of Order sign taped to it and the stall on the right was wheelchair accessible - so I walked to the middle door, grabbed hold of the top edge and pulled.

It was locked.

"Oh, I'm sorry." I said, backing up.

There was no response.

I glanced under the door - because that's always my first instinct in a public restroom. I think it might be an inappropriate reflex. I saw no evidence of a shadow, so I assumed that it too was out of order. Either that or some college kid had locked it up and crawled out as a joke. I briefly wondered if I might fit under the metal partition - mostly because I’m weird like that. Instead I went behind door number three. Literally.

After taking care of business, I began to pull my clothes back on. This was no easy deed as I had opted that evening to wear a one-piece jumpsuit with a button in the back – just out of reach of my hands. As I contorted my arms into an advanced level martial arts move, I made a mental note to not do that again. I also thought about how lovely the new tile work in the washroom looked - even with the gaping hole in the ceiling in the corner. Must be water damage. Wasn’t that hole there last year too? All that work retiling, just to leave a giant bloody hole in the ceiling? And what an awful paint color. Who the hell chose that? What’s with pink bathrooms for college aged kids anyway? What are they, toddlers? And on (and on) I went. In fact, a variety of random topics - from armpit hair to turtles (don’t ask) - floated in and out of my head. There were more musings, but really… useless information bounces around in there so incessantly, I regularly lose track.

After successfully grunting myself back into my jumpsuit I went to hit the flush.

That’s when I heard it.

From the stall next to me came the sound of someone clearing her throat. And after that - a sigh.  I bent down to look beneath the barrier. Because, as you know, that’s what I do.

The middle bathroom stall was not unoccupied after all.

It was then I realized that I had not been keeping my thoughts to myself. I had been rambling out loud. The. Entire. Time.

And that’s the problem. Some people sing in the shower. Others whistle while they work. I on the other hand, (though shy and quiet as a klipspringer in normal social situations) have a habit of blathering steadily to myself about topics inane and otherwise - while alone in the ladies room.  It's involuntary and happens without warning.

As I washed my hands, I recalled several awkward moments at highway rest stops, restaurant washrooms, holiday trailer parks and the girl's locker room in high school. I'm terrible at detecting people in the crapper. Apparently.

I exited the restroom without ever seeing my lone toilet mate. She was likely too afraid to come out before I was gone. And in all fairness… who wouldn’t be? I mean, turtles and armpit hair? Seriously?

No, really.

Vroom vroom (photo)

Seen on the parking lot while waiting for our car to be repaired. Must be the practice car.

Daily Snap - 07.10.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Stay small (photo)

Lately, the 3 year old has been worried about getting bigger --- as in: "If I get bigger, I won't be able to sit on my dad anymore." Stay small kiddo.

Daily Snap - 07.09.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Potato chips and antiseptic

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

“I think I broke my ankle.”

The words slipped out of my mouth almost as fast as I had fallen down the stairs.

Here’s the thing. When I walk down a set of steps, if I don’t suppress the urge, I flap my arms – not so much like a bird… more like an excited toddler, or a 1960s housewife who has just spotted a mouse. It’s neither a safe (nor particularly effective) habit. It’s a genetic flaw. My mother does it too. And so, as I raced from upstairs to down with an oscillating fan in one hand and nothing in the other (flap, flap) I didn’t stand a chance when my flip-flop festooned foot slipped tidily off the second last step.

 Sitting at the base of the staircase, I could hear the voices of my family members somewhere off in the distance. Geoff was chatting with a delivery driver about the death of Andy Griffith while Jan was trying to convince the 3 year old to “set that damn frog free.”

“Hello. Anyone. My foot just went numb. Is that bad?”

I thought about that guy – you know, the one who had to amputate his own arm in order to survive after falling into a gully in the wilds of Utah or somewhere just as dangerous...

I surveyed my surroundings. I didn’t have a knife nearby, but I was lying on a partially crushed oscillating fan with several sharp bits. Then, it occurred to me that I wasn’t trapped in a gully. Nor was I in Utah. Also, since I am unable to effectively cut through a piece of cardboard, I decided I was probably not a survivalist.

When I was eventually found (it may or may not have been 5 seconds later), Geoff and Jan convinced me to go to the hospital, just in case the pain I was experiencing was the result of bone rubbing on bone.

Me: It doesn’t hurt that much. I don’t need to go to the hospital.

Geoff & Jan: Ok, then go ahead and walk on it.

Me: I can’t. It hurts too much.

At the emergency room check-in, I was asked about any allergies (aspirin, ibuprofen, close talkers) and given a special allergic reaction armband to prevent anyone from killing me, you know, accidentally. Shortly after, the triage nurse (after confirming my allergies) asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10.

Back in the waiting room, Geoff was pretty ticked at my answer.

Geoff: Two? Are you kidding me? Two? We’re going to be here all night.

Me: I told her I had fleeting shots of six.

Geoff: Fleeting shots don’t count. I can’t believe you said two.

Me: I was in labor for 48 hours and delivered a 9-pound human without an epidural. That was a 10. This is a 2. Maybe I should go back and tell her about my birthing experience.

Geoff: I’ll get us some snacks. Then I will leave you here to die.

Me: Yay! It’ll be like our first date.

People came and went, including a boy who refused to let anyone look at his finger (hangnail), a man with a bloody arm and sliced boot (chainsaw massacre?) and a girl with an iced cappuccino and a smartphone who appeared to just be searching for good reception. Through it all, the room remained pretty well populated.

Star Trek was playing on the teeny tiny corner television, which was set on the Space Channel. Someone in the room was wanting to go where no man had gone before and I suspect it was the bearded gentleman wearing track pants and elf shoes. The poor bugger had been waiting since early morning and had taken to telling the nurse, whenever she called a name, that everyone else had tired of waiting and since he was the only one left (in the crowded room) he’d be happy to come on down. Hello – we’re all RIGHT here.

Even he got in before I did.

Two bags of chips, one Star Trek, one Stargate, half of a Deep Space Nine (which I think is technically still Star Trek) and several mind-altering commercial breaks later… my name was called. By that time, my foot really didn’t hurt much at all. I contemplated faking another ailment but became concerned at possible cures.

When the doctor entered the examining room, I explained to him that I was fine, thank you, and that my husband and I were just here on a Sci-Fi date. If he was puzzled, he didn’t show it as he persistently poked around at my foot.

“It’s a sprain.” He said with a smile. “We’re going to wrap it and my suggestion to you is to not go over on it again for at least a week.” Then he told me to go and get myself some ibuprofen.

That’s when everything became clear. Geoff had contracted the doctor to kill me, which was almost exactly like our second date – minus the close talker.

No, really.

The sky is falling (photo)

It was a sideways rain kind of day yesterday. Mid-afternoon (while in town) the world went from sunny to scary in a matter of seconds. Geoff was caught on his bike somewhere out in the ridges while Jan, the girl and I were flooded in our downtown studio. Then, as fast as it came - it was over. Until later that day when (while at home) I looked out the window to see this.

Daily Snap - 07.08.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

After the storm (photo)

There's just something about kids and puddles. Mine would sleep in one if I let her. 

Daily Snap - 07.07.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I may need to go to slang school

Actual conversation that just took place...

Geoff: Oh my God.

The 3 Year Old: Can I say "Oh my God"?

Jan: No, you should just say "Oh my."

Me: How about "Oh my bird."

Geoff: No! Don't you know what a bird is?

Me: It's... a bird?

Geoff (whispering): It's a hoohah.

Me: IT IS??? Oh crap.

The 3 Year Old: Oh my bird! Oh my bird! Oh my bird!

Geoff: This is why you aren't allowed to homeschool.
And this is why I need to go to slang school. Also, we should probably listen to Jan more often.

Purity (photo)

The workshop was a success. The students had a great time and Geoff discovered that in China, lilies represent purity. Good choice of flowers, right?

Daily Snap - 07.06.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Setting up (photo)

Tomorrow, Geoff is teaching a group of piano students how to paint with watercolors. Most of the students are from China and will be attending the workshop with an interpreter. It'll be a learning experience for all involved...

Daily Snap - 07.05.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Serenity now (photo)

I took this photo yesterday while on a late night run to the studio to grab a pile of painting trays. I don't know if it was a new moon, blue moon, full moon or harvest moon, but either way, seeing it  filled me with a sense of calm and peace. And that's no joke.

Daily Snap - 07.04.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Frogger (photo)

Geoff was cutting the lawn this morning when a tiny bit of movement caught his eye. And so, this little hopper lived to see another day. Mind you, the 3-year-old won't rest until she finds him - again and again and again. No comment on Geoff's shirt.

Daily Snap - 07.03.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Peanut butter and yum (photo)

We combined 1 cup of peanut butter and 1 egg with 1/2 cup of sugar.  Then, we rolled a bunch of little balls, laid them on a tray, flattened them with a fork and baked the cuties at 325 for 20 minutes. When I asked my daughter how they tasted, her reply was, "They taste like peanut butter and yum!" Aw yeah.
Daily Snap - 07.02.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I broke my Mac (photo)

After years of resisting, I finally made the leap. Goodbye PC, hello Mac. All was well, until I broke my Mac. What's that? Mac's are indestructible? Yeah... no. I broke my Mac. Before I began using it. Fortunately, a technician named Jeff revived the beast from the dead. Over the phone no less. Insert glory-glory music here.

Daily Snap - 07.01.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater