Monthly Archives: March 2014

We Interrupt This Program…

.. to let you know that our first video, “Ramen Shaman” is live and ready for your viewing pleasure.

It was shared on the PBS main Facebook page today, which was very exciting. Some commenter somewhere was like, “ILLINOIS?” That is EXACTLY the response I was hoping for, so we can say, yes, yes. Illinois. Not just Illinois – DOWNSTATE Illinois. Things are happening here.

Please share, like, subscribe, tweet, follow, whatever, if you’re so inclined – we had a great time making this and want everyone to know how fun ramen is. BYIV2 coming soon.

Back to yr regularly-scheduled sheep in a day or two.

 

Shorn Off, Pt. 1

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The weather here in the Midwest, which I’m certain most people are sick of talking/hearing/reading about, has finally taken a turn for the better. (Midwest is best!) Those chickens up there were complretely stoked to be outside in 40-degree (or so) sunshine. The BYI crew was out at my friend Cathe Capel’s place –  Seven Sisters Farm, in Sidney, Illinois – to watch (and film) the annual shearing of her small flock of very woolly (and in some cases, very pregnant) sheep.

First we had a freaking awesome meal around the dining room table in Cathe’s gorgeous 19th century abode. She dished up chili, cornbread, pie, strong coffee, and a most convivial table. I wish I could adequately explain how I feel about settings like this. I wanted to hug everyone while we were eating.

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We also ate some tea eggs that Emma from Lucky Duck Farm brought to share. They were exquisitely dessert-like. I love eggs anyway, but these were… sublime.

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After we ate, we went into the barn, where Tigger lives. She has three legs, amazing green eyes, and is a total badass.

IMG_6980We got a look at some vintage shearing equipment – this clipper hand crank (not sure what the actual nomenclature is) dates to 1910.

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The sheep were like, we know something is going on but cannot quite remember what it is. Hmm.

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Harold Davis, a sheep-shearing legend in Illinois, showed the group how to get to it, New Zealand style. Harold has shorn 900,000 sheep in his day and knows what he’s doing. Needless to say, the rest of us were not interested in giving this particular method a go.

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Part Two: I meet a ewe named Dawn, I come to grips with the clippers, and I feel sad when leaving Sidney. I’ll post that this week.

In the meantime, enjoy this radio piece I did two years ago (you can tell it was two years ago because I talk about how winter never came) about the same class, led that time by another Illinois shearing rockstar, Dick Cobb. He’ll also feature in Part Two.

OK. Time to jet. Cosmos is on.

 

Forward, March

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We like to fly kites.

Along with almost everyone else in North America, I’m a little anxious about spring. I think when it comes, it’s going to come fast. I’m hoping for (almost literally) zero-to-sixty.

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This chicken looks like how I feel about heading into March. Determined.

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Truth!

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I can practically smell it.

Because spring is on the way, I’m working on throwing away/donating SO MUCH. So much. Like, almost everything. I’m an archiver – I like to save things because I like to think they’ll be important in some way someday. These tchotchkes will lend context! If this clutter could speak! OK. Sure. But for the love of all that is holy… SO MUCH OF THIS STUFF DOES NOT BELONG HERE ANYMORE. They are the things of a family that has moved along and changed incredibly.  So many old homeschooling materials that no one has looked at or used in 8 years. So many broken things littering our basement. So many unbroken things in our basement too, things we can’t use any longer, things to be jettisoned. My tiny little “dressing room” (which I share with Jim and also doubles as a closet) bursts with clothes I don’t wear and never will wear (and clothes that he doesn’t wear and never will wear). My even-tinier office (we call it “The Cloffice” because it’s really a closet) is completely unusable right now due to formidable piles of books and magazines, mostly BYI-related in some way.

Ugh.

The word simplify seems to be dogging me. Simplification is not my strong suit, but complication? CALL ME. I’ve finally reached my breaking point, though. This spring, for whatever reason, I’m starting to deal with the guilt and stress I associate with all this physical crap. You know, the guilt of having it and not being grateful for it. The paralysis that accompanies not knowing what to do with it all. The extra guilt of throwing things away. The extra EXTRA guilt that goes with getting rid of anything your kid(s) ever drew, wore, used as an art supply, or – let’s be honest – touched. I’m figuring out that we don’t have to move house in order to make this kind of room. I’m dealing with it now. I think it’s the yoga, honestly.

[More about the yoga another time]

So, yeah. That’s starting to happen this weekend, as we await the weather that’s supposedly coming.

[I’m skeptical.]

Speaking of weather, we’ll be shooting BYI2 late next week, weather permitting. We’ll be shooting BYI3 a few weeks after that. We are on what normal people doing this kind of work would call… a Schedule.

See ya on the other side of this next Polar Vortex.