i’ve decided to do this (albeit not nearly as well!), but i was so inspired.  hopefully, december 31st’s picture shows marked improvement in my photography skills.

january 1

this is walter.  he is awesome.  i got to pet him without pissing him off on new year’s day.  he didn’t change color so that means he didn’t mind.  i figure a year that starts with petting a chameleon can’t be all that bad.

january 2

this stuff just gets better.

january 3

after weeks of ignoring me, louis finally decides to toss me a bone.

january 4

dev just logged his sixth hour in the sky.  34 more to go for his first pilot’s license!

january 5

nerd alert: the dr. who christmas special finally gets the attention it deserves!

january 6

the wood pile that gives me my heavy lifting workout.  i love this wood pile.

january 7

not the best picture…but the BEST picture.  devin call it “the fat man”.


so the first week of 2012 has gone by and so far so good.

there are several habits that i’m trying to instill this year.

i have a MAJOR crush on leo babauta‘s mind.  his advice to develop habits instead of create goals rubs me the very, very right way.  yep, right there.

one habit a month is what he recommends, and that is something i can handle.  i am a closet perfectionist and over achiever which i disguise quite well by appearing like a total slob and slack ass.  it will be good for me to only commit to one a month and actually doing it instead of doing them all at once and pulling my hair out.

here are the twelve habits i would like to create this year:

1. make the first meal of the day a raw one

i’ve started this one already and i love it.  i’ve been having a kombucha and some raw milk cheese most days.  i also really love green smoothies and raw egg and coconut milk smoothies.  yes, raw egg.  no, i’m not afraid of salmonella.  yes, i do fantasize about being as kick ass as rocky balboa…with cuter work out clothes.

2. wake before 7 without an alarm clock

for the past few years, getting up before 11 was a miracle.  the depression beast was largely to blame as well as a deep abiding apathy for the grinding monotony of daily life.  hmmm…maybe the apathy came from the depression, too.

anyhoo, since i’ve come back from africa, my body has reset itself so that i’m up before 8.  i want by the end of february to have trained myself to be up before 7ish without an alarm.  alarm clocks are the worst invention EVER.  EVER.  i hate them.  i hate the jarring, heart-racing terror that they cause on my fragile nervous system.  no, i’m not being melodramatic.

3. brush the dog

oh, my dog.  sweet, attached thing that he is.  he’s always at my feet in the best way.  he has the thickest coat and winter is just a smelly dog mess for it.  he deserves that i start brushing it for him once a day.  march will be the perfect time to start developing this habit.

4.save instead of spend

crap.  this is april’s habit.  april is my birthday month.  i just hope all the gift givers in my life don’t decide to start this habit that month.

5. eat something fermented every day

i LOVE fermented food so this one will really not be that hard.  but, it’ll be nice to take it from a once in a while treat to a daily indulgence.  kimchi, kombucha, cultured vegetables, yogurt,….yeah, baby!

6. read a real paper and ink book before bed

june will be the beginning of summer and later bedtimes.  this will be a good way to shift gears for bed.

i read a lot.  A LOT.  but, it’s mostly online and in my ipad.  how nice will it be to read from a BOOK again?  my childhood was formed by the books i read.  i’ve noticed my attention span has really shortened because of digital media.  i still read before bed,even, but it’s never with the gentle weight of a book on my chest and the almost sexual aroma of the paper filling my sleep space.  this habit excites me and i just may move it to a closer slot.

7. do yoga every day

it doesn’t have to an hour.  it can just be a sun-salutation.  and july will be the perfect time to bring some sun worship back into my life.

8. market myself

it’s time that all my skills and knowledge start getting more recognition….from me.

9. stretch professionally

i know this reads as if i want to become a professional stretcher, but i mean to move out of my comfort zones in the money making arenas of jobs and business.  this one will probably be the hardest one on this list.  i feel nauseous just thinking about it.

10. feed others

i love to cook and i love to ensure that people around me are well fed.  ideally, i’d love to have people over once a week to feed.  october is a good time to start this habit.  it’s getting colder and people are hungrier.  or that’s how i feel when this time of year rolls around.

11. fast once a week

today’s the first attempt at this, so i don’t know why i’ve even got this up here as a habit.  i’m starting this one today.  i’ll have to come up with another one for november.  any ideas?

edit jan 9: got it!

11. media, money, and manna fast once a week

how about taking a break from electronics, spending, AND eating once a week?  could there be a better way to really take a day off?  don’t think so.  since this is my november habit, i will not choose thursday as that day.  thanksgiving is the BEST and just look at who’s planning ahead!

12. sweat daily

hmmm….all the way in december is when i am going to instill this one?  i’ll probably be doing this by then, but daily?  probably not.  i don’t even want to workout daily as a habit.  i’d love to hit up an infrared sauna, a steam room and a hot sauna every week.  and sex works up a sweat, right?  anybody having it these days, please report.

this list will probably be amended as i go along, but it feels good right now.

this morning i did my very favorite kind of workout.  i worked and it was outside.

it was time to bring in some more fire wood.  i think i did about 8 or 9 trips.  the wood is kept in an outbuilding down a little hill from the house.

it was a horrible continuous disappointment to kenai because he thought that i was heading us to the trailhead of the hill we usually walk in the morning.  seven times he was excited.  the eighth time he just sat and watched me.  the ninth time i’m pretty sure he gave me the finger.

i’ve been back to pretty strict paleo since the first of the year.  i did no wheat over the holidays and i deserve a medal for this.  the holidays were spent in mennonite country at a mennonite grandma’s house and hanging out in a mennonite bakery for internet a couple times.

anyhoo, one of the pesky side effects of being primal is lots of energy.  as i loaded up the wood strap with purposeful reach and squats, hefted it up, walked up the hill, i thought i could do this all day.  i probably could have if my stomach didn’t start grumbling so bad.

no, i don’t eat before my first physical activity of the day.

another thing that i like to do is to get as acclimated to the temperature as possible.  meaning, i try to wear the minimum in the cold.  generally as long as my head, neck and feet are warm, i’m good.  my purple flannel owl peejay bottoms and a long sleeved t-shirt, socks and boots, my red kikoi and a knit hat was all i had on.  of course, i was always half expecting to hear two soft plinks when my nipples hit the ground.  but, i could barely hear my footfall on the snow.

so, if 145 pounds of hot haitian ass carrying about 10-15 pounds of wood didn’t make a sound, i never would have heard my nipples fall into the snow.

there are only two really great ways to work out as far as i’m concerned.  1. something that leads to a real, visible accomplishment, i.e.: firewood for the next few days in a nice neat stack, a mountain climbed, an obstacle course conquered and 2. dancing.

so, after this morning’s wood stacking, with this extra energy my still intact nipples and i are ready to boogie.


because i’m completely narcissistic, my new year doesn’t begin until my birthday.  that’s when i do all that self-reflective inner work that leads somewhere:  that somewhere being a list of ways to ‘improve’ myself.

i think that that list is going to be pretty slim this year because i’m sick of the whole concept.  if i was an arsonist and a good enough one to not be caught, the self-improvement aisles of bookstores and libraries would be my signature target.  i might even become a house visiting arsonist and leave little blackened ash piles in people’s homes.  who doesn’t have a couple self-improvement books?  i just have to figure out a way to make money out of this victimless crime and i would be set for life.  a nickel per burnt self-improvement book seems about right.

resolutions tend to fall in the same bucket as self-improvement books.  generally, because people make lists of ways to go back to being something that they never were.  they are also setting themselves up for failure because they want to conquer things over which they have no control.

for example: i will lose 35 pounds this year.

will you?  you might.  you probably could.  but, that’s completely out of your control.  your body may completely disagree with you.

instead, try this: i will build the habit to eat like i’m meant to and move like i’m meant to.

this is something over which you have control.  you’re not trying to do something unnatural like “loving those who hurt you” or going down a fruitless path by “becoming a money making machine”.  it’s even better than “controlling’ anything.  it’s what your body wants to do.

so instead of overcoming your nature and trying to improve yourself, just allow that nature to develop.  it’s easier and loads more fun and i don’t have to come to your house to set fire to anything.

today was one of those days where i don’t feel i got much done at all, but apparently i did because i’m exhausted.

to do lists are the bane of my existence.  but this is today’s done list:

1. hike the hill with kenai (the dog)

2. bring in a couple loads of wood for the woodstove

3. drive two hours to take my son to his sixth flight lesson

4. read two books while waiting (yes, i do read this fast)

5. iron out part of a bad banking issue

6. get my weekly liver meal in

7. drive two hours back

8. get cat food

9. go to zumba

10. cook cheesey eggs for a five year old

11. brush my teeth before bed (this one gets skipped more than i want to admit!)

12. have my tea

13. do a blog entry

not the most riveting writing i’ve ever done, but it appeases that little critic inside me that needs proof of accomplishment to be silently smug.

i walk barefoot every day.  since i was a little girl, i’ve had claustrophobic feet.  as a dancer in my teens, i spent hours in toe shoes.  that seems incomprehensible to me now, but that is what passion does for a person.  of course, i still love (LOVE) to dance but i’m so glad that i didn’t go down the classical route and have to wear those things for twenty years.

where was i?

oh, yeah.  claustrophobic feet.  there was a spell when the only closed in shoes i wanted to wear were a lavender pair of kangaroos with velcro enclosure.  now, i wear my uggs because my toes can spread apart in the shearling and get winter boots 1/2 size larger than i safely should.  but, barefoot is my favorite.

there’s been the wave lately that endorses all the health benefits of “barefooting” but more and more, i feel that being natural in one’s skin, being as animal as possible is so common sense that the “health benefit discoveries” will just pile up.  i’m kicking myself because i don’t remember where i read this, but my favorite definition of discovery is a white guy finding something that was already there.

and, yes, even though it is 17 degrees fahrenheit/8 celsius, i get some outdoor barefoot time in.  invigorating?  understatement.

p.s. that's henna, not frostbite.

this soup is to be had at midnight on new years or if you can’t swing that with all the drunken partying that you were doing, it can also be the first meal of the new year.  i just like to have it whenever i have the time to make it.

it was created by empress dessaline when haiti was fighting the french for their independence to feed the soldiers.  without the meat, it is really inexpensive.  it’s not the much pricier with it, either.  over time the colors gained significance as our five gourde bill (remember those, fellow haitians?) was the same bright orange color.  the turnips are traditionally cut into rounds to symbolize coins.  it is the soup of prosperity and happiness.  we won our independence on january 1st, 1804.

there are as many variations on the soup as there are home cooks.  here’s the one i made this year:

(pretend there’s a picture here.  i have one but for some reason my mac is holding out on me.  blog blocker.)

edit: jan 9 here’s the pic!

you’ll need a skillet and a soup pot.


a pound or two of meat-stew beef is great as well as chicken on the bone

16 oz canned pumpkin (do NOT get the stuff is all spiced up for pumpkin pie, just straight pumpkin)

16 oz chicken broth

4-6 celery wands diced small

1 onion diced small

4-6 carrots diced small

3-5 turnips sliced into rounds

1 small cabbage shredded

thyme 1-2 tablespoons

a bunch of fresh parsley chopped fine

butter for browning the meat

salt and pepper to taste

1. take your meat and dry it well with paper towels or  a dish towel you don’t mind staining, salt it and pepper it

2. heat the skillet (you want it nice and hot!)

3. add some butter to the skillet

4. brown your meat in batches-don’t flip it until it is deep brown with a little crust (you can achieve this a lot easier if you don’t crowd the meat)

5. when all the meat is browned set it aside, turn off the heat under the skillet but keep it on the stove

6. add butter to your pot

7. when it melts, toss in your celery, onion, carrots, thyme and half your parsley

8. when it is all translucent, take a tablespoon or two of your broth and use it to scrape all the browned butter and meat bits from your skillet-add that to the veggies in your soup pot

9. when well incorporated add in the rest of the broth and the meat and bring to a boil

10. gently incorporate your pumpkin in spoonfuls stirring it in, add the cabbage and boil for 5-10 minutes

11.  add the turnips and turn the soup down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes

12. turn the soup off and add the parsley-salt and pepper to taste

13. serve it up!

here’s to your health and prosperity!

i had thought of taking the train into nyc, but my cousins talked some sense into me and we took in the festivities of first night in saratoga springs instead.

the night before we went snowboarding.  i did an epic side flip off the lift and landed in unfrozen marsh muck.  it was my first time taking the lift to a mountain top.  i did great but almost half-way down, all of my old dancer injuries decided to pipe up.  so, i unstrapped my board and did the booty scooch the rest of the way.  it only took me about 30 minutes.

it was with relief that my bruised body didn’t have to face the hour drive to albany, the 3.5 hour train ride, the subway transfer, the being corralled into a pen, the drunken puking, the waiting and doing that all again at 7 in the morning after no sleep.  instead, i was chauffered (fancy way of saying i bummed a ride with my cousin-in-law and the family in the mini-van) to the springs.

we caught some of the window performers:

some god-awful belly dancing except for this woman who saved it for me:

a great dance fusion group, an irreverent animal handler, and the fireworks.

i did not get a new year’s kiss even though i was scanning the crowds for a worthy random but i intend to rectify that by new year’s 2013.

this morning, i finished up the 20-30 gallons of pumpkin soup (seriously,there is SO much!) i started yesterday, because that is the de rigueur first meal of the year for all good haitian girls and boys.


i am obsessed with sleep.  (OB. SESSED.)  its importance in my life is generally set up according to my sleep needs.  if i don’t get enough, everything gets ugly real fast.  because there is such a real need for quality sleep in my life, i have tended to overdo it.  at some point, the decision to get 9 hours a night was made and the rule is nearly ironclad.

part of being wild is not living by rules, others or one’s own.  (our own rules are usually the most insidious and the best ones to let go.)  the wisest thing to do is to listen to one’s body.  since being back in the western hemisphere, i’m been tired by 9 and wide awake between 4 and 6.  last night, i feel asleep at 10 and was wide awake at 5:30.

usually, i would just stay in bed and coax myself back into a disorienting sleep.  instead, i woke up, grabbed the dog and drove to the beach to watch the sunrise.

now, i’ve seen a lot of pictures of sunrises, but haven’t watched very many since high school.  i was the principal’s kid and had to be at school by 6:30.  (she was my ride.)  here’s the thing that i’ve forgotten.

pictures are not experiences.  there are some photos that are so beautiful, so raw, so eloquent that one can feel that they are having the experience pictured.  but, one is not.

as i walked, then ran, then stood on the sand the wind whipping through my hair, the dog tugging on my wrist and the cold seeping up through the soles of my shoes, the colors changed in the sky.  a few pelican flew fast and low over the water.  the tide foamed at the shore.  my fingertips gelled, my nose ran a little, my lungs felt purified by the fresh air.  there were stars in the sky, then there weren’t as the night was pushed out of the way by day.  and i was there.

of course, i took a picture.  i enjoy taking them, both as souvenirs and as proof to others that i’m having the life they’re not.  (let’s be honest.)

it was then that i realized that although i’d seen hundreds of pictures of sunrises, sunsets, waterfalls, cities, etc., this was the only one that was mine.

millions of us “love nature”.  we watch the discovery channel, animal planet, flip through nature picture books, read about people having grand adventures.  but, it’s all false.  we don’t know nature.  we aren’t experiencing it at all.  we are a population of spectators with no authentic experiences of our own.

imagine a person who is in love with and is having a relationship with someone they have never met but of whom they’ve seen plenty of pictures.  how seriously can you take that person and that relationship?  not very.

these thoughts cut through a lot of my own hypocrisy.  i claim to love the wild, love the outdoors, but if i’m only outside an hour a day, how can i take myself seriously?  how well do i know the object of my affection?

instead of living vicariously through photos of oceans, mountaintops, backyard hideaways, trees big enough to climb, rivers, grasslands or watching show after show documenting animal life, i need to get outside and live truthfully.



“let’s go to the golden corral instead of the food court.  that’s where the good food is.”