Anne’s Walk

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One last promenade
atop the coop before
a long solstice night.

Margaret, Anne, and Victoria in better days

Christmas week we lost another chicken, the second in 2015 (we lost Victoria in February). Poor little Anne had been showing some oddities throughout the year but in December she started showing more specific symptoms (lack of appetite, lethargy, etc.), and just before solstice we took her to the vet at NC State. We weren’t willing to do extensive tests and treatment, and the vet said even with them, Anne probably had something serious (e.g., cancer rather something simple like worms).

We decided to euthanize her and have an autopsy done. Preliminary results suggested Marek’s, which is a viral disease chickens are susceptible to. While our chickens were vaccinated for Marek’s, chances are the vaccination wears off at some point (it probably varies by breed). In Anne’s case, the disease resulted in tumors all over her insides that compressed her egg-laying apparatus as well as her GI tract.

We were relieved that the autopsy results showed she had something wrong that we couldn’t have prevented. (We want to be good chickenparents!) And we felt comfortable that we made the right decision about euthanization. As a side benefit, the NC State vet program lets the veterinary students do the autopsies as part of their studies; it made us happy to contribute in that way too.

The photos on this page are not recent. As the chickens have aged, they’ve been less interested in jumping up to the heights. (Leave that for the little chirps!) But shortly before Anne got sick she started flapping up to the top of the coop again. Margaret would follow sometimes, but she is bigger and ungainlier than Anne was, so struggled to get her heft up there. When the chickens jump up to the coop (or chair or bench), we always imagine they are saying, “I like to be tall, Chickenmama! I like to see everything, Chickenpapa!” I guess she wanted one last look before the dark night came.

We miss you, little Annabel! Bye-bye!

take a bow

Free Kindle eBook: Owning Ourselves (Nov 15 2015)

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Today (Nov 15, 2015) Owning Ourselves: A Practical Guide to Awakening the Western Mind is available FREE on Kindle. I had the pleasure of working with the author on editing and publishing this book. He’s a great guy, and you can read more about him and his approach to life on his Owning Ourselves blog. Take a look!

Front cover of the bok Owning Ourselves

Owning Ourselves

From the description on Amazon:

Do you sense there’s something more to life?

Do you feel you’re missing something? Do you feel trapped by circumstances? Can’t find a way out? Do you feel disconnected from your true self? Does life seem like a hollow farce or a shame-filled tragedy? Have you relied on thinking as the only proper response to the confusion of life, only to discover that thinking is its own trap?

In Owning Ourselves: A Practical Guide to Awakening the Western Mind, A. Charles describes the path many of us have taken, only to find ourselves cornered and asleep. He then offers an approach to awaken our minds to the possibilities of the world and to the possibilities inherent in all of us.

This book is for all of us who want to move forward with relief, awareness, authenticity and joy.

FREE Kindle ebook: After the Shock

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One of my big projects over the past year was working with Becky Sansbury to develop her book After The Shock: Getting You Back On The Road To Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On. I know the content of the book intimately and can tell you without a doubt that Becky offers practical, comforting advice for those in crisis or walking alongside someone in crisis.

TODAY and THURSDAY (10/7 and 10/8) you can download the Kindle version FREE. Do it!

After the Shock

After the Shock

From the description on Amazon:

When you hear the word crisis what do you think? A dramatic car wreck. A critical medical diagnosis. Divorce. Job loss. Natural disaster. Death. What about the mini-shocks within those crises or the smaller events that disrupt our lives more frequently? A fender bender in rush-hour traffic. Personal information getting hacked. Being overlooked for a promotion.

When crisis hits, large or small, we are thrown off balance.In After The Shock: Getting You Back On The Road To Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On, Becky Sansbury introduces a sustainable model to help you stabilize and move toward resilience.

After decades of working with people in crisis, she determined that four factors give us balance, strength and support throughout our lives, but especially in shocking times. Like the four tires of a car, comfort, control, community, and connection to something bigger than self provide both a base and a cushion for navigating the ruts and potholes of life. But that is not enough to move us on to resilience.

In the overwhelming confusion of crisis we crave a space safe for focusing on our current experience, strengthened by crucial lessons from the past. We make both casual and far-reaching decisions based on assumptions that may no longer be authentic or lead to our desired future. We grasp for resources, often unsure of what we need. Expanding the car metaphor, in After the Shock the reader learns effective ways to use the frame of experience, the steering capacity of assumptions, and the fuel of resources to lead toward more resilient responses in a variety of crises.

Reach for After the Shock to nurture healing through warmth and wisdom. Written in a conversational style, this book provides practical tools while wrapping you with virtual arms of support as you make your way from reaction to resilience.

Free Kindle ebook: Presentation Sin

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Today (September 30) you can download Alan Hoffler’s new book Presentation Sin for FREE on Kindle.

Alan is a fantastic speaker and communications coach and trainer and owner of MillsWyck Communications. I took his Powerful, Persuasive Speaking and Powerful, Persuasive Content workshops a few years ago and became a convert to his approach. After years of freaking out over public speaking I became more comfortable on stage and more in tune with my audience. I also use his audience analysis and content development approaches in my writing.

Will a book make you a good speaker? Not on its own—you still need to practice. But this book will set you on the right path. And if you ever have a chance to take Alan’s workshops, by all means do!

Presentation Sin: FREE Sep 30!

Presentation Sin: FREE Sep 30!

Need some inspiration, creators?

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You might find it in this podcast series from Charles Gupton: The Creator’s Journey.

The Creator’s Journey is a podcast serving creative people with a commitment to ship their work. Each week, I’ll interview creative leaders who consistently push through the fears and obstacles that every creator faces to produce their work.”

Make Way for Goslings (on Capital Boulevard)

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You are lucky, little geese—

traffic is light this morning,

and I am behind the wheel.

 ***

I went to a writing conference Saturday (Triangle Area Freelancers’ Write Now! conference—they did a great job). As I drove there around 8am on a state highway in an urban area, I had to brake suddenly for a family of geese padding into my lane. I quickly glanced in the rear-view mirror and was relieved there were no cars immediately behind me. To the best of my knowledge, the family made it safely across the road. Whew.

NaPoWriMo final report #NPM15

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I am happy to report I successfully completed NaPoWriMo—30 poems in 30 days.

The first 19 poems were posted here, generally in response to some prompt. The last 11 are part of a series I’m developing. Since they are such early drafts, there’s not a lot worth sharing from the poems themselves, but I do have a few observations:

  • I made the notes that are the basis of these poems almost a year ago. They are structured by day over a period of time. I am finding that almost every day has a sort of theme. Some kind of image or story that resonates or repeats. Completely unintentional, just how things played out.
  • I am also finding some themes that run throughout the days/poems.
  • As I revise, I am wondering if I will find a way to make these themes or recurring elements more prominent through form of individual poems or structure of the series.

I may offer an update periodically, but for now it is just nice to have a big chunk of raw material to work with.:-)

NaPoWriMo update Day 29

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Since I stopped posting new poems after Day 19, I’ve been working on the larger project I mentioned. So far I’ve drafted 8 poems. I’m not planning to post them because they need to get “connected” and revised to work together. But so far 19+8=27. Just 3 more poems today and tomorrow to hit the goal of 30 poems in 30 days.

Glad I shifted focus.:-)

Day 19 #NPM15 – Landay

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A poem a day? Uninspiring.

I need a new challenge to expand my brain’s wiring.

***

The Day 19 prompt from napowrimo was to write a landay (which I actually did that day—just slow getting it posted). This is a form that I had not heard of. In a nutshell, it is 2 lines of 22 syllables (9+13) that rhymes. And the history is intriguing. It is a form of poetry from Afghanistan, typically used by Pashtun women, generally only spoken and often covering themes of love, grief, homeland, war, and separation. If you click through to the article about landays, you can scan it quickly for examples.

This is the third year I’ve done NaPoWriMo and so far this time around, I haven’t been generating anything particularly interesting. It has felt more like an dull obligation rather than a creative inspiration. I’m not giving up on writing poetry daily, but I decided to shift focus. For a while now I’ve had some raw notes that I have been meaning to working into a series of poems, so I’m going to start working with those. I’m not sure they will lend themselves to a daily poem, but I’ll offer periodic updates on my progress, maybe sharing a few lines if it makes sense.

OK, so happy NaPoWriMo, everyone—enjoy your writing!

Day 18 #NPM15 – Two vowels/Two fowls

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black hens preen

beaks make feathers gleam

each hen a queen

Margaret and Anne preening

Margaret and Anne preening

 

Check out that twisty neck and whitish eyelid

Check out that twisty neck and whitish eyelid

When chickens preen they take oil from the urophygial gland near the base of the tail and distribute it throughout their feathers. Preening cleans the feathers and the oil keeps the feather “filaments” (that’s probably not the right word) together and improves the feathers’ insulation and waterproof properties. When the oil gets “stale,” the chickens dustbathe to get it off; then they preen with fresh oil. (I don’t mean to sound like it is an infrequent activity—chickens actually spend a fair amount of the day preening.)

Also kind of interesting, preening tends to take place as a group activity. From an evolutionary standpoint, it is probably safer to have the whole flock preen together; that way at any one time some chicken’s eye is watching for predators. With our little flock, only two at the moment, they have demonstrated a preference to be under a bush while preening—also a safety instinct, I would guess.

The whitish eyelid you see in the second picture (it’s on Anne) is the nictitating membrane—sort of an extra eyelid. My understanding is that chickens use it kind of as PPE (personal protective equipment). You tend to see it when they are dustbathing (presumably to keep the dust out of their eyes) or when they are preening (I suppose to avoid poking themselves with a feather as they’re digging in). They use a different eyelid (the lower one) when sleeping. The top eyelid apparently doesn’t move much.

BTW today’s poetry prompt was to write a poem using only two vowels (a and e in this case). Not a very good poem, but it was fun to get pix of the preening.