Inch by Inch, Row by Row, Gonna make this Garden Grow

It is hard to believe it is already the end of June and we still have 23 chickens and four ducks living in our garage. The coop is well underway, and we hope to get the birds moved in before we head to Seattle next week, it will make it easier for the critter sitter and more enjoyable for everyone. We salvaged a ton of plywood from some crates from work but needed to remove the pallet framing. It actually took us less time than I feared. The plywood will be the walls and the 1x4s for roosting trees. I think the coop is large enough for some chickens and perhaps one day two goats. One day.

While the baby birds spend their nights in our garage, during the day, we have started to let them free range with the big birds. The chickens are a little leery of leaving the safety of the garage whereas the ducks head straight for the pool.




The chickens have also taken to emptying their entire feeder, making a huge mess. They’ve always been the clean birds compared to the ducks. It took us a little while to figure out why they were doing this. Shane had mixed their standard feed with rolled oats. They were digging the oats out of the normal feed to get at the goodies. We won’t be doing that again.

Everyting in the garden is going gangbusters including the weeds. I spent some time enjoying my tomatoes and lettuce while weeding. I started everything this year from seed, including the weeds. I’m pretty proud of myself, and it makes that kale taste oh so much better.


I was brought up in the generation right before the “Everyone is a Winner!” generation. I grew up in the “You can do anything you set your mind to” generation. Why do we raise children on such false promises? I know reality is a tough pill swallow but what is harder is realizing as an adult, that no matter how hard you work, some things you simply do not have control of.

It has been hard to accept that I truly have minimal control if I will be a biological parent or not. I have minimal control of becoming a mother. Period. It is out of my hands, and I know life would be easier if I could accept it. Not roll over and take it, but accept that which I cannot control.

I have a good friend that has been looking for a job post-graduation and the pickings have been slim. In an email, she wrote that she is “working on adjusting my goals so that they reflect things that I have control over.” Yes!

I’ve been standing in the crowd, watching my life unfold on the big screen and yelling, “This wasn’t part of the script!” How do you accept that you may not have your dream job after you spent years going to school? How do you accept that you may never be a mother no matter what supplement you take, what fertility procedure you do, or which adoption agency you choose? How do you accept this when you have been told growing up that you could have it all if you simply set your mind to it? Have I not worked hard enough? Have I not sacrificed enough of myself to achieve this goal? I’ve done everything I should have done and more, yet I’m coming to realize that you cannot truly have it all, no matter how hard you work for it. Life simply doesn’t work that way. I need to accept this and get back to living my life, even the parts I don’t quite accept yet. Time to set goals I do have control of.


Finding my Quiet

Last week, I went on my first solo run in months. It happened to be my first trail run of the summer. My mind naturally works fast. I have a hard time focusing on one project and even in conversations; my mind quickly leaves it and finds something new to ponder. Running is the one time I can quiet my brain down. I simply have to out run it. About a mile in, I’m breathing heavy, smiling deeply, and have found that zen yogis talk about. For me, I simply have to run hard to get there.

I need to work toward making more moments like this, outside of running. It is so easy to get caught up in life that you forget to simply be.

Embrace this moment
There is nowhere else to be
Find your Middle Ground

A hiaku from blog Find Your Middle Ground



A Childless Father

The first sign that I knew that my husband was going to make a great father was his fear of being a bad father. As we enter our fourth year of being childless not by choice and enter our 3rd round of IVF, I still see a pretty amazing father. He has already given his children more than many fathers will. While we cannot parent our children, he is not shy about being fatherly to others. As a paramedic, he calms and treats scared, hurt children too often. As an uncle, he plays the serious yet fun one. Who else would give a toddler a huge stick to beat a pinata with? That was his idea.


He loves to introduce them to his favorite pastimes such as skiing. He will patiently untangle them. When they are tired of skiing, he is willing to play sled dog, pulling the child behind him as they hold onto his ski poles.


He sacrifices his own comfort for kids he doesn’t even know. When teaching high school, I needed Elodea (an invasive aquatic weed) for my students. My husband put on his waders and went into a creek in October to gather it for them. In Alaska. He said it was cold but I wouldn’t know since I didn’t go in.


He is okay with being the bad influence to his friend’s kids. In fact, someone needs to be it so it might as well be us.

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We are there also to help out our friends with kids. Even though we were experiencing our first IVF failure, we agreed to watching a friend’s infant while he got his work schedule figured out. He looks so good with a baby.


Since we have yet to our own human child, our IVF puppy has won the lottery. All of our critters are simply spoiled.


So today, I celebrate fathers with children but also the childless fathers that do not get the recognition that they deserve. They help shape and nurture your children while they wait for theirs.

Behind the Scenes.

While most people have visited a museum, it is a whole difference experience to work in one. I have had the privilege to work both at the University of Alaska Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. When someone asks me what I do career-wise and I’m feeling lazy, I simply respond, I work at a museum. I’m sure that conjures of me tinkering with displays in the gallery or leading school groups. Oh, if I only had the energy to describe to them all the wonders I’ve seen and the odd things I have done.

I was tickled when I saw this gem of an interview with Smithsonian Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals, Dr. Nicholas Pyenson in a collection I’m oh so familiar with.

Next time someone tells you they work at a museum, I suggest probing a bit further. Ask exactly what they do at the museum. Perhaps ask them if they have any neat photos on their phone.



I was also relieved to hear them say the specimen the reporter was strumming and the one that Nick was haphazardously carrying in some of the shots was, in fact, a cast (a plastic replica of a real specimen.)

We find ourselves here, again.

I’ve been putting this update off for awhile now. I mostly don’t want to say we are doing it again to simply say a few weeks later that it all went to shit again.

here again

I’ve jumped through most of the hoops our new clinic requires. We had to take online educational modules on how IVF works and how to inject myself with mind-altering hormones. As a biologist on round 3 here, I understand the process a bit too well and have read all the literature in my spare time. I know I could have tested out of the module, but we endured. Isn’t that what we infertiles do?

I emailed the clinic today to make sure we have checked all the boxes on their IVF checklist, but I think we are ready to roll. It is becoming a bit too real that we are subjecting ourselves to this torture, again.


The only things we have left are to give them a crap ton of money, buy airline tickets, and start menstruating. Let the fun begin. It has been six months since I had my vagina looked at by someone other than my husband. It has been glorious. I keep telling myself, this is the last peep show for awhile and then moving on. Unless I’ll be pushing a baby out of it next year but I’m guessing if that is the case, I won’t give a shit. One step at a time though.

I’m not sure if it is good to be a veteran, to know what to ask and what to expect. I think back to the naïve us when we first started. It was going to work the first time. Wham. Bam. Thank you, IVF doctor. I’d like to think we have a better handle on all of this – the nuts and bolts plus the emotional shitstorm. I remember honestly thinking going through my first round that this isn’t so bad. It then proceeded to go from doable to I’m going to burst (OHSS) and all the embryos are dying. It turns out, whether you think hormones affect you or not, the truth is they do. And IVF is that bad.

Thank goodness OHSS doesn’t turn you blue too!

I’d like to say I’m looking forward to our final round of IVF, but I’m not. I am looking forward to being able to move forward with my life without regrets. One more go before taking biological children off the table. We are not giving up but choosing to live again.

Summer has arrived in Interior Alaska!

Everyone spent the weekend outside. It made it into the high 70s, and for the first time, it felt like summer had finally arrived.

We drug the brooder out which also serves as our chicken tractor. We attempted to fence the ducklings in, but they quickly escaped. We simply had to keep the jerk big birds north of the house and the babies south of the house. The baby birds were so excited to feel the dirt and eat the greens – like it was a big privilege. The big birds, they are a bit more demanding, and for them, they feel it is a right. When I get home after work, the start yelling at me from the coop to let them out. I don’t mind, I prefer them out foraging especially since summer is simply too short. I’m thrilled when their winter yellow egg yolks turn that dark orange that only happens in the summer.

Shane worked this weekend on the chicken coop since they are quickly outgrowing the garage. Pressure always makes projects happen with us. I can guarantee that even though we were planning on meat birds next summer with the plan of building the coop this summer to prepare, we’d still be building the coop while the birds lived in the garage. Simply the way we roll. And anytime we get an idea and set a date, fast forward it by a year.

Shane also got his mushroom stand dug out and up. Now we wait. Hopefully, mushrooms should start arriving by August though we should start thinking about how we are going to squirrel proof it.


It took all of the last weekend, some days during the week, and this weekend but all of the garden is in! Well, except for a few rhubarb plants. That’ll happen tomorrow or perhaps the next day. I thought about taking photos, but everything looks so small and pathetic. I’ll wait till they have had time to get going. Though I’m awfully proud since this is the first year I did not purchase any starts and I started the entire garden from seed.

We also did our weekly hive check. The bees are enjoying this heat and the wildflowers that are starting to bloom. The white area on the one frame is honey stores while larva are a lot darker and get laid in the middle of the frames. Hive inspections check to make sure the queen is laying eggs, the bees are content, and there are no queen cells. This is the time of year when hives swarm (we know, we lost one last year). The bees will hatch a new queen. Half the hive will swarm with a queen and leave half the hive. Not good, so weekly hive checks are a must to squash swarming. Last year between my husband’s double hernia surgery and my work conference, the hives got a few hasty checks, and we paid the price. We live, and we learn, getting better at this every year.