Creating an Urban Homestead

The Daily Yarn

Pollo Loco Taco Pecker

Henny Penny is getting a little aggressive with the people food lately. We were eating dinner outside and she hopped on the chaise and then hopped onto the back of Marley’s chair and attacked her taco! No children were harmed in the production of this video.


Pollo Loco Taco Pecker–Hilarious!

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A Day at The Zoo


Callee The Elephant; Editorial Photography, Birmingham, AL – Images by Christine Prichard


Good Eye


Miksang – Images by Christine Prichard

Thanks to Flash and the kids for excusing me from Mother’s Day festivities @ home. Instead, had an unbelievably great weekend at the Shambhala Center in Birmingham. Did a photo workshop on Miksang–or Good Eye. Awesome! These are all images made @ the workshop this weekend.
Hope to start a Miksang photo group in Birmingham soon. Great for all levels of photography experience from never held a camera to pro. The beauty is in it’s simplicity. Stripped down pure vision. No flash allowed. No cropping allowed. No Photoshop allowed. No manipulating the scene. Very different from what I usually do.


Gaga For Art Shoot


Gaga for Art Bash; Birmingham, Alabama Photography – Images by FLASH

Flash was the roving candid photographer at GAGA for Art, a fundraiser for children’s programming at the 2010 Magic City Art Connection on Saturday. Looks like fun!


You Ought to Be in Pictures


Picture Party – Images by Christine Prichard

We hosted a multiple photo session bonanza at The Okey Dokey Ranch last week. Foul weather forced us into the garage; we had hoped to do an outdoor shoot. But we managed to get some fun and unique images anyway. Flash was a wonderful assistant, right-hand man and post-production whiz. Marley and Avery even got into the spirit by entertaining young and old while we shot, and shot, and shot.

A big thank you to the families, and especially the children we photographed–you were the best!

I’m posting some of my favorites here. Don’t you just love the sepia and hand-colored versions?

Funds raised from this shoot were donated to Alabama Waldorf School.


Cheesy Delivery

“Is that a UPS truck or a Feta truck?”

–Avery Prichard, after seeing a white box truck drive past


Family II

Marley: “CC is basically our sister now. A sister we only see occasionally.”

Avery: “No she is not our sister. What does basically mean?”


Family

Avery: “Is Flash a part of our family now?”

Me: “What do you think?”

Avery: “Yes, he is.”


“Birth” Cast Shoot


Birth Cast – Images by Christine Prichard

Did a quick shoot of the cast of “Birth” at WorkPlay yesterday before rehearsal. The photos will be used to publicize director Elizabeth Hunter’s reading of the play, which will be performed at Alabama School of Fine Arts for one night only on January 30 at 7 pm. A talkback panel and reception will follow the show. Tickets are $20 in advance, available through the Alabama Birth Coalition website. Tickets may also be purchased at the door for $25. Funds raised from ticket sales will help ABC do its work to educate the public about birth choice and to help change laws in Alabama to make practicing midwifery in an out-of-hospital setting legal and safe.

As some of you may know, my daughter Marley was born at home in Birmingham just over eight years ago, and was attended by midwife Karen Brock. Because there is no vehicle for licensing CPM’s in Alabama, my health insurance did not cover the cost of Karen’s services, which by the way, were more attentive, caring, and comprehensive than any OB I’ve ever rubbed elbows with. (more…)


Morris Avenue shoot with Marley and Avery


Marley and Avery on Morris Avenue – Images by Christine Prichard

Marley, Avery, and I spent about an hour today on Morris Avenue and shot some photos. We had intended to go to Sloss Furnaces to shoot, but discovered at the gate that Sloss is closed on Mondays. After a few tears on Avery’s part, I vetoed Marley’s idea to go to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and headed downtown. (more…)


Life is But a Dream—or Maybe Just a Big Bowl of Soup

Nothing like the holidays to bring back memories of holidays past. Former lives within this life haunt me—so many moments and people that are now gone forever. They are real in my mind but elusive as a dream.

Life is so much more fluid than I ever knew. My mind keeps bumping into the people of the past as I cherish time spent with people of the present.

“Their souls are in the halls of my mind,” says Flash of his dearly departed. I know what he means. (more…)


A Flash of Anger

So Flash and I got in our first fight.

Well, kind of. Sometime back in the spring he told me he couldn’t picture us ever arguing. “Quaint and sweet and totally unrealistic,” I thought while smiling coyly at him.

But he’s probably right. Even if I tried my best to raise his dander, I don’t think Flash would ever get in a yelling match with me.

He’s more of an “internalize it” kind of guy. Maybe that’s why I picked him.

In our 17-year relationship, Mike and I had a rich history of verbal battles that were mostly unproductive and emotionally draining. That man LOVED verbal duals, and they could become less than diplomatic in short order. Even though we agreed on almost every subject, we managed to fight often and loudly. One of Mike’s favorite things was to call talk radio hosts and argue with them on the air.

Fast-forward about seven months from Flash’s sweet comment. It’s holiday time. Add to that baseline stress, so far this December: (more…)


Slow Food and Fast Food, Love and Pain

Avery eats his first turkey leg. Photo by Flash

Avery eats his first turkey leg. Photo by Flash

Flash, CC, Marley, Avery and I celebrated Thanksgiving early this year—a potluck with friends. Somehow, I ended up cooking my very first turkey for the shindig. After two short years of cooking regular meals and 10 years of vegetarianism only recently ended, it seemed a daunting task. (Mike was such a fantastic cook, I was truly handicapped in the kitchen by the time he died in 2007. I rarely cooked a meal in the 17 years we were together.)

Since returning to my omnivorous roots back in February, I’ve been purchasing local, free range, antibiotic-free meat from a farmer that I met while on a photo assignment years ago. Vegetarian at the time, I made a mental note that if I ever were to purchase meat again, it would be from Charles Ritch of Goose Pond Farm.

And I’ve made good on that promise. (more…)


Things I Never Thought I’d Hear My Five Year Old Say

Hearing his dad’s music on the ipod seemed to open up the topic of death for Avery. Here a few of Avery’s thoughts on the subject:

• “I have a hard time when you aren’t with me. When I stayed at Jaren’s house, I was so scared that you would die and I would come home and we would have to bury you.” (more…)


Second mom

“She’s like my 2nd mom. I mean, if you couldn’t afford to keep us, we’d probably go live with them,” said Marley through tears after Elena, her piano teacher and our former neighbor, departed after a visit this weekend.

Elena has been Marley’s teacher for more than two years. Since moving to Ithica, they have been doing their lessons over the internet. We hope she can keep coming back periodically for visits/lessons.


Pesto @ The Ranch

Ashley came by this past Sunday and we made a batch of pesto. Yummy. I started out by harvesting all five sweet basil plants from my garden, which was enough to yield about 10 cups of basil leaves. The recipe goes something like this: (more…)


No whining, Mr. Crabbedy

Call it blending of the minds, the synergy of creative forces, or just plain bad hearing, but Flash and I came up with a nearly perfect way to describe Avery’s less-than-charming side.

In a word: “crabbedy.”

As I was getting breakfast ready under a fog of Benadryl and lack of sleep, Avery asked me one of his standard morning questions: “Am I staying for nap today at school?” Unfortunately for him, the answer was “yes.” So I cringed, waiting for the whining, pleading, and stomping onslaught to begin.

“I HATE NAP!!!!!” Avery screamed, only the preamble to a verbal tirade that I endure on a daily basis. Why he does this, I’m not sure. It is rare, if ever, that I give into this type of behavior.

To be fair, I know nap time is hard for Avery. He rarely falls asleep anymore and is forced to lay on his cot for at least an hour while much of the rest of the class sleeps. This is very difficult for a boy of Avery’s energy level, and I feel for him. I’m amazed that they can even get him to lie down, really. (more…)


Patterns

So much has happened at The Okey Dokey Ranch in the past month, it is hard to know where to begin.

Suffice it to say, the long-awaited arrival of Flash has more or less taken place. He keeps saying things like “when I get here,” as if he hasn’t moved in yet.  (I don’t think he considers himself “here” until the house is arranged to his liking; we’re not there quite yet, I am told.) Yet it seems like he’s here to me.  Much of his stuff is here.  And he’s rearranged so much of our living space, I feel disoriented in my own home.  Yet grateful.  Things had gotten pretty chaotic around here.  And this guy has the perfect combination of obsession and organizational skills to tackle things like building shelving and rearranging furniture and CDs until things make more sense.  (more…)


Spontaneous Combustion

I’ve been thinking a lot about spontaneous combustion the last couple hours.

Like at 6:45 pm while standing in line at hideous Wal-Mart where I had to make a last minute run for pullups instead of starting dinner. (Hmmm, pissy bed in the morning or hot dinner the night before? Such are the daily guilt-inducing decisions every parent without a partner makes.)

With pink pull ups in hand (for some reason my oh-so-boy boy LOVES the color pink), Avery asks through tears why I wouldn’t ask anyone that worked there whether they sold Harry Potter glasses, even after we cruised through the toy department and saw nothing Potteresque.

Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, poof! There goes mom, a smoldering pile of ashes on the floor. Somehow that image was extremely satisfying. (more…)


Spirit phones and homegrown tomatoes

Sometimes malaise sneaks up on me, and other times it follows a more predictable path. As cliché as it might sound, today’s bout of blues definitely seems related to the fast-approaching 2nd anniversary of Mike’s death (Sept 13).

I’ve found no good way defend myself against the pain. It comes uninvited.

I am haunted by a past that is gone and a future that no longer exists. It began in the relative quiet of Labor Day after Flash, CC, and her kitten Casey departed from The Okey Dokey Ranch after spending a raucous and rainy but fun Saturday and Sunday here.

This afternoon, Marley went to Tannehill State Park with her friend Bella, which left me alone with Avery. The boy has been quite wild all weekend—a draining surprise after he acted disarmingly docile and charming Friday afternoon after school. By Monday afternoon I was, shall we say, finding it difficult to appreciate Avery being anywhere near me. I really just wanted to be alone with my thoughts. (more…)


Down under The Okey Dokey Ranch

If you want to fail miserably, try raising two children by yourself. It doesn’t take long to realize that no one is capable of succeeding at this endeavor. I somehow allow myself to forget this from time to time. Indeed, it’s probably how I remain sane.

But reality always returns, and it stings. Rediscovering life as a single parent is a trying and lonely affair–especially after a travel-induced period of giddy denial filled with grandparents and cousins who gladly watch your children while you chum with old friends.

But now we are home and it is back to reality again. Manning The Okey Dokey Ranch with the help of only a seven year old (no matter how precocious) and a five year old can get downright depressing in short order.

Although Marley started school two days after our return from Minnesota, Avery did not. So I had to bring him on all of my home renovating errands–a major drag for both of us.

Combine that with absolutely no freedom to exercise or adults to talk to and, voila! You have the perfect ingredients for a mental breakdown. I spend most of a sunny Saturday in bed crying.

But miraculously, Sunday was a glorious day, despite heavy rains.

Marley and I made a batch of muscadine jelly. I made a chicken dinner. And Flash stayed overnight, tipping the household vibe into positive territory.

The boys joust in the man cave.

The boys joust in the man cave.

He set up a “painting zone” in the basement, now under heavy construction (click here to see the vid of Flash doing his thing), which will eventually house his personal space and occasionally his daughter CC and along with them our newly-formed household.

The fabled blended family.

Anyway, Flash thought it would be fun for the kids to paint the floors and walls before he completed the rooms. So fun that he joined them. He started painting words on the walls and saying that he was “channeling,” which made me flash back to a time nearly two years ago when me, my mother and my dear friend Suzanne Kilpatrick painted similar words on the walls of the basement following Mike’s accidental death in the man-cave.

Suzanne felt that writing positive, loving words on the walls would help cleanse the space and help us heal. We did this, and about a month later, I knocked down the walls on which we wrote and painted the remaining walls blue. Suzanne also said she saw the corner of the basement eventually becoming the creative hub of the house.

I distinctly remember thinking “never.”

But now it is becoming just that. And somehow, Flash just knew it. So, on that rainy day, I joined him and the kids and painted a bit, too. And finally, things felt like a nice Sunday at home with my family.

Thanks, Flash. I love you more than you could know.

Marley paints the subfloorMarley paints the subfloor
Avery paints Flash's pants while Flash paints the basement wall.

Avery paints Flash's pants while Flash paints the basement wall.


Another green renovation (nearly) complete!

It’s been a long, difficult labor, but the house I’ve been renovating at 4022 5th Avenue is 98% finished. And I’m such a proud parent! You have got to see the before and after photos.

4022 5th Avenue South after GreenSpace did a total renovation.

4022 5th Avenue South after GreenSpace did a total renovation.

4022 5th Avenue South Before GreenSpace.

4022 5th Avenue South Before GreenSpace.

(more…)


The Missing Goodbye

I have a recurring dream, although I am not sure if it really is a dream. It happens in that space just between consciousness and deep sleep and happens most frequently during afternoon naps, but sometimes as I fall asleep at night.

I’ve come to think of this space as my time with Mike, or perhaps something else altogether. It feels as though some energy, some force is working on my heart. As I try to describe this “heart work,” it seems less and less real. A mirage.

All I know is that it has felt healing at times. But this time, the message was different. Loud and clear. “But you didn’t even get to say goodbye.” Again and again. (more…)