Small Stones – January 28, 30, and 31 – Wrapping it up with chickens!

January 28

I’ve noticed some changes in the chickens since they started laying eggs.

  • They are all noisier, but Victoria squawks like the dickens. I can’t tell if it is related to egg-laying (“egg song”), if she sees predators, or if she is just cranky.
  • The Australorps, Anne and Margaret, do not stick together as much as they used to. We got them together when they were a few weeks old, so they have been sisters and best buds, sticking together and, for a long time, fearful of Victoria. They still get agitated when one disappears up to the roost to lay an egg, but when they are free-ranging in the afternoon, they wander further apart than ever before.
  • They have a funny new position they take when I try to pick them up. They used to run, skip and hop away, or they would be too intense eating something and not realize my hands were coming. Now they take this funny defensive position like a Sumo wrestler. They crouch (if you can call it that—they have pretty darn short legs) and cup their wings to hulk up. It makes me wonder if they are positioning to protect the “nest.” (I’ve tried to get a photo of this, but haven’t had any luck so far.)

January 30

We had our first two eggs for dinner. Hard boiled and sliced on our spinach salads. They were small and yummy–creamy and smooth, not as sulfury as store-bought eggs. But fresh eggs can be hard to peel when they are boiled–the white sticks to the shell. We will try steaming them next time.

first two eggs

Two fresh eggs!

January 31

Despite erratic temperatures,

chickens and flowers assure us

that Spring is on its way!

Margaret and Daffodil

Margaret and Daffodil


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home. Thanks for the contemplation–and thanks for the fun!

Small Stones – January 27 and 29

January 27

Note to spouses everywhere: A head cold does not make a good birthday present. But it is a good reminder how tasty OJ, tea, and hot lemonade are. 🙂


January 29

How heavenly is it when you have a cold and your ears finally start to pop??


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home.

The eggs have arrived!

Here is my small stone for January 26, courtesy of my husband. 🙂

Chris Kafer

Our return from a week long vacation in Orlanda, FL was greeted with the first two eggs from our girls! They had excellent care from their two new “godparents” David and Julie.  I left plenty of water and food for the chickens so we asked D&J to lower and raise the ramp each day and maybe give them a sprinkle of oatmeal, and that was supposed to be it.

What none of us expected was the blast of cold air from the north that brought below freezing weather with freezing rain to Raleigh.  I woke up in the middle of the night on Thursday worried that the water would freeze in their waterers. How horrible would I have felt if they had died of dehydration?  I couldn’t get back to sleep.

Friday we get a call telling us that the water had indeed frozen asking us what they should do.  We…

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Small Stones – January 25 – Catching up from vacation

Orlando Museum of Art. After stopping by the Orlando Science Center and deciding it was too kid-focused, we stumbled on the next-door Orlando Museum of Art. What a find!

Some of the regular exhibitions include American portraits, American landscapes, contemporary art, ancient American art (Aztec, Zapotec, etc.), and African art. Nothing unusual for most museums we visit, but, wow, the curation was excellent. Not only are the pieces of art very high quality, but the notes accompanying them provide more context and understanding than most.  (I think we are becoming museum snobs—we can be very critical of poorly curated exhibitions.)

But the most fabulous exhibition was Contemporary Glass Sculpture. The variety of glass—blown sculpted, combined with other media—gave me a new appreciation for glass art. Here are links to two of the artists we liked the most:

  • Christopher Ries – Ries’ sculptures are cut, ground, and polished super-high-quality optical glass. When you walk around the pieces, the shapes themselves are beautiful, and the images inside the glass change. Amazing.
  • Stephen Knapp – Knapp creates “paintings” by installing pieces of glass at varying angles on a wall, then lighting them so different colors and shapes appear. Hard to describe, cool to view.

I highly recommend a visit to the OMA when you are in Orlando. And if you are a member of your own local museum, check to see if there is a reciprocal membership arrangement.


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home.

Small Stones – January 24 – Catching up from vacation

Hogwarts at a distance

Hogwarts at a distance

Universal Islands of Adventure. We lucked out choosing to go to Orlando at this time of year. Small crowds, short waits, comfortable temperatures (low 70s). I can’t imagine how miserable it would be at the height of summer crowds and summer heat. Oy.

Ride of the Day: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I am a Harry Potter fan, so naturally this would be a favorite, but I was surprised how good it was. The designers went to a lot of effort to amuse those in line as they snake through Hogwarts. We actually went so fast that we were wishing for some lines so that we could look at the displays and listen to the talking paintings and other things along the route. The ride itself was excellent. These simulations really make you feel like you are flying. I’d love to see the inner workings and figure out how they do it. How much does the seat actually move? We had to do this ride twice!

Runner up: The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man – Another 3D ride. You feel like you really are falling from the top of the skyscrapers down to street level. We did this one twice too!

Other fun…

  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster – This was a really twisty turny roller coaster. My husband wouldn’t try it—and I have to admit, it took my stomach a while to recover.
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls – This has to be one of the original rides at Universal. Do they even show Dudley Do-Right on TV anymore? The cheese factor is high, but if you like to get wet, this is a fun one. Or you can stand on the bridge and watch everyone else get wet…
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure – The cheese factor is high on this ride too. So-so animatronics, but a nice splash. Took a couple hours to dry off in the mild weather—would be great in the hot summer.
  • Flight of the Hippogriff – A family friendly rollercoaster in Harry Potter land, this was actually pretty good, but the 45-second ride did not merit the 45-minute wait.

I was disappointed the Dragon Challenge was closed for maintenance. Two rollercoasters flying past each other at high speeds. Looked fun–and scary!

All in all, it was worth a day at each Universal park in the off season, but I’m not sure I would ever visit during busy season.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot–when you visit Hogsmeade, be sure to try the Butterbeer!


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home. (Another large stone…)



Small Stones – January 23 – Catching up from vacation

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. The Morse Museum has an expansive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany works—stained glass windows, Tiffany lampshades, blown glass, jewelry, etc. It is well worth a couple hours’ visit if you are in Orlando.

I found the Daffodil Terrace from his home, Laurelton Hall, intriguing. It is an 18’x32′ terrace with eight marble columns, each topped with glass daffodils embedded in concrete. A display showed the evolution of how the daffodil flowers were made, first a single piece of yellow glass, then a more detailed single piece of yellow glass, then individual pieces of glass for each of the petals, carefully placed in the concrete.

More subtle than some of Tiffany’s other work (see the Chapel for magnificence), but lovely, lovely.


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home.

Small Stones – January 22 – Catching up from vacation

Kennedy Space Center. Three things:

  1. When you go into space in a rocket, you are basically sitting on a bomb and letting it explode underneath you.

    Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center

    Rocket Garden at KSC (see the person at lower left?)

  2. According to Brazilian astronaut Marcos Pontes, who was on a Soyuz mission, when you reenter the earth’s orbit, it is like driving your car down the interstate and watching it disintegrate around you. The Soyuz had three main components: the habitation section, the reentry capsule, and the service module. While you sit in the reentry capsule, the habitation section and service module burn up on reentry.

    Marcos Pontes

    Marcos Pontes

  3. Remember on I Dream of Jeannie in the opening credits how Major Nelson lands in his reentry capsule on the beach and finds Jeannie’s bottle? The reentry capsule really is about that small. (Sorry, didn’t get a good photo.)

Awe-inspiring what these astronauts do…

Chris and Karin on the Moon

Chris and Karin on the Moon


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home.

Small Stones – January 21 – Catching up from vacation

Orlando, Florida. This was a last-minute vacation, so we didn’t have a lot of planning time, but we did narrow it down to three possible attractions to visit: Universal Orlando, Kennedy Space Center, and Seaworld. When we read a bit more and realized Universal had two parks, we decided to spend two days there.

Now, my husband and I are museum-y kind of folks—we’re the boring aunt and uncle who take kids educational places. But I was excited to visit Universal for some real “fun”—thrills rather than thinking. I’d been to Disney and Epcot years before and found them a little too child-oriented. Universal seemed designed for adults as well.

As we walked from the parking garage to the park entrance, I had a strange feeling of déjà vu. Wait a minute! I’ve been here before! What?!?

I recognized that little stand between the parking garage exit and the walkway to the parks. Didn’t we buy a disposable camera there? And, hey, Spider Man! Somebody went on that ride. And we ate at that Mexican restaurant, didn’t we? Whoa. When was I here? Who was I with?

A picture of my sister came into my head. Her? And me? We wouldn’t have come here alone. Who did we bring? One of our little cousins? Maybe several years ago when we were here for a wedding?

I asked my sister and my cousin, and neither one of them could remember going together. It’s still a mystery…will have to keep asking…

But for now, my assessment of the rides we took at Universal Studios–from best to worst.

  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem – This 3D simulation was so good I decided I need to see the movie!
  • The Simpsons Ride – Another 3D simulation that is very entertaining. LOL.
  • Revenge of the Mummy – The mummy special effects were cheesy, but who doesn’t like a rollercoaster in the dark?
  • Shrek – A 3D movie with “4D” effects like getting sprayed with water when the dragon sneezes. Eh.
  • Men In Black Alien Attack – A shoot-‘em-up ride. Suffice it to say, I’m not very good at video games.
  • Terminator 2 in 3D – Live action, special effects and 3D film just didn’t work together.
  • Twister – Bad 80’s animatronics. Lame-o award.

Note: I didn’t get to ride on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit rollercoaster, which I am guessing would be at the top of my list. It looked scary! There are plenty of other kids rides as well–just not of interest to us.

Watch for Day 2 at Universal Islands of Adventure…


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home. (This is kind of a large stone, no?)

Small Stones – January 20 – Catching up from vacation

We took a spur-of-the-moment vacation last week. Posting was not easily accessible, so I saved up my small stones (and a few large ones). Here we go on the catch-up.


Spent the morning walking through the Historic Charleston (SC) City Market. Saw several sweetgrass weavers working their magic. Nimble fingers wrapping the grass into baskets, wreathes, picture frames. Artisans designing intricate patterns well beyond my imagination. Multiple generations working together. The objets d’art ranged in price from $5 to $800.

And of course, watching the weavers reminded me of this prior post. The sweetgrass video (by Charles and Linda Gupton) in it is excellent.


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home.

Small Stones – January 19

I got a new no-name niece! (I went generic instead of brand name because it was cheaper, but generics are getting a lot better these days. I mean, check out that hair! You’d expect to pay full price for that mane…)

UPDATE: Well, I guess her parents decided to pay for an upgrade. No-name niece is now Raegan Leigh. 🙂

New Niece

Raegan Leigh (pka No-Name Niece)