Cats in the Gap (A Memorial Essay)...

Jul 31, 2012 by

It’s 93 degrees and the sun is relentless.  It’s hard to dig in the dry Colorado dirt, but I’ve done this before.  I know I’ll need the rubber mallet and a tent stake to pry out the rocks.  I’ll need the square shovel to shave down the sides, making room for the box, and the big shovel to carry out the loosened dirt. The sharp shovel cuts through the tree roots, and I feel every blow and break.  The roots, sheathed in red, scream a painful mess of color into the soil.  I don’t know which tree I’ve severed, lilac, elm or fir, but I know how it feels. We called Snowball the Last Cat Standing.  He lived the longest of the three and a full year from the time of the first cat’s...

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Why Colorado Springs Loves Fire Fighters...

Jul 9, 2012 by

I did not know about the trails. The wildfire burned through the neighborhood that had served as a refuge for me the year after my husband died. Tired, I had rented a townhouse after we moved across the country from that place of ghosts and trouble. We lived for a year surrounded by meadows; a quiet, orderly subdivision with just enough mice to keep the cats occupied. I walked its streets, up and down the hills, admiring the wild sunflowers. I remember it as an oasis in the chaos of living a life. That is until chaos, in the form of high heat, low humidity and flames found the neighborhood this past week. I stand, stunned, in the familiar parking lot of the dentist office a week after the conflagration Sure, I saw the pictures of the fire...

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Interview With Author Terry Tempest Williams...

Jun 6, 2012 by

15 May 2012  Tabard Inn Washington, D.C.  Dearest Bonnie:  Greetings.  Here are my responses to your evocative questions.  Many thanks, Terry atsGf/Bonnie Simon: Terry, I love your poetic style of writing.  What influences helped you develop it? Terry Tempest Williams:  I think style is like voice, it grows organically from the truth of one’s own life experience.  I don’t think in terms of chapters, per se.  I think in terms of stories.  It is the story itself that creates an inherent structure.  With this book, “When Women Were Birds,” it is a story about how my mother left me her journals andall her journals were blank.  There are twelve blank pages that follow this revelation in the book.  That is not a style, but the physical truth.  I wanted the reader to feel that same...

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When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams...

May 29, 2012 by

What does it mean to live past the age at which a loved one died? We are guided and shaped by the important people in our lives, both by their lives and by the confusion of losing them.  In two years I will be 45, the age at which my late husband, the most profound influence on my adult life, passed on.  Even now I wonder what it will mean to live past the age he attained.  How do we grow beyond what our mentors could offer? I am not the only one to note the significance of an age. “I am fifty-four years old, the age my mother was when she died” begins Terry Tempest Williams in her new book, When Women Were Birds. Her mother had pointedly bequeathed her two shelves of...

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How I Can’t Lose What I Don’t Want...

Jan 11, 2012 by

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”  Kris Kristofferson, “Me and Bobby McGee“ Here we are again, at the start of a new year.  Last year at this time, I was contemplating quitting my corporate job to find my way in the world of being an entrepreneur.  Self-determination and freedom to grow the creative part of myself beckoned.  Terror tried to bar the way, but it lost its power to imprison me when Dave died.  Sorry, Terror.  You have to come up with something scarier than a balance sheet to stop me now. This year I can easily count what I’ve gained.  I got a rough and tumble education in the ways of small businesses.  I made a whole new community’s worth of friends.  I learned to read a balance sheet, plan...

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The Latkes Debate: Blender or Shredded...

Dec 23, 2011 by

We’ve all got cherished family recipes, don’t we? Chanukah, a Jewish holiday celebrated with food fried in oil, begins on December 20th this year.  The oil reminds us of a miracle in which an eternal light burned for 8 days even though it only had enough oil for one day. Everyone likes a good ancient miracle, but in my opinion the real miracle is how incredibly delicious fried potato pancakes taste on the one occasion per year that I make them. “Omigosh!”, I say to myself.  “I forgot how good these are!”  It’s the same way I feel about M&Ms. I’ll share the family recipe for potato latkes below, but in typical familial fashion, my mother and I have something of a disagreement about how to prepare them. She feels the potatoes should be...

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What I Learned From Selling Muffins...

Dec 2, 2011 by

I attended a lovely volunteer lunch last week at a local farm.  I had volunteered there all summer; helping kids look for bugs, weeding and generally doing whatever they asked, all for the privilege of visiting their chickens every week.  I love chickens and take great pleasure from watching them whenever I can. During lunch, the farmer asked me if I plan to sell food at the farmers’ market again next summer.  “Oh, no,” I said.  “It’s such hard work and I couldn’t make any money.” You really learned how food is underpriced, didn’t you?”, she said. I sure did! Selling food is a delicate balance.  I bought raw food from farmers every week, along with ingredients from the grocery store, and sold an assortment of finished goods with at least one locally produced ingredient.  Some...

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Almond Bars

Nov 25, 2011 by

Almond bars were a big seller for Chickens in the Kitchen this past summer.  This recipe is an adaptation of an Elana’s Pantry recipe.  Her book, The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook, includes a delicious recipe for almond flour chocolate chip cookies. I learned, by experimenting, that you can make lovely almond flour cookies in a home oven, but a commercial convection oven will turn the batter into one very thin layer of cookie on the baking sheet!  Why?  The heat rises too fast and the batter melts.  Making bars solved that problem. Another change involved the almonds.  I don’t own a food processor and chop my almonds in the blender, resulting in a very coarse grind.  If I blend too long, I get almond butter and then I get distracted by lunch. The...

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Thanksgiving Traditions Differ

Nov 23, 2011 by

Thanksgiving means different things to each of us. For some girlfriends it’s a special dish that brings back childhood memories. For others it’s the people sitting around the table. All The Single Girlfriend authors share What makes Thanksgiving “Thanksgiving” for us. For some Gf the holiday is a melancholy time. For some it’s a time of new beginnings. Over the next days we’ll share our experiences and memories with you. Please join the conversation and let us know what are some of your Thanksgiving traditions. Thanksgiving means being with the people I love, eating whatever version of the foods I love show up. I am not a stickler for how it used to be but I honor the past while creating traditions that start in the present.  This year: cutting the turkey up first before...

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Finding Your Path in the Business World...

Nov 10, 2011 by

“I see you exploring,” my friend said about my business ventures.  “You’re doing a good job.” That was nice to hear.  Sometimes, I feel like a kid playing at being an adult without taking on any real responsibility or getting any real results. I started this experiment in entrepreneurship with one idea; an idea that seemed to expand as I asked people for advice and then change as opportunities came along.  I got advice from creative, knowledgeable people who had started businesses and knew what they were doing.  I wholeheartedly acknowledge that I would not have known where to start without them.  However, if I had to do it again, with everything I know now, I would change a few things. 1. For one, I wouldn’t spend so much money up front. I wouldn’t...

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The Permissible Personality

Nov 2, 2011 by

The house has been taken over by a tiny canine visitor, the chickens are molting and looking ridiculous, and an adorable, squealing baby is running around the house. Snowball the Cat is not pleased.  Not pleased at all. Wait!  This post is supposed to be about starting a writing business and here I am writing about my home life.  Isn’t it irrelevant?  Shouldn’t I screen out these fascinating tidbits about my personal life? Therein lies the question, doesn’t it?  When I worked for the big corporation, I sought to find ways to express my slightly oddball personality without clashing too much with the official Corporate Persona.  Coworkers who had become friends would talk about leaving their personalities in their cars every morning in order to fit in and gain respect.  We’ve all seen the...

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An Entrepreneurial Adventure

Oct 24, 2011 by

I recently read that though unemployment is up, so is self-employment.  I find this to be heartening news.  It brings to mind an image of a modern pioneer picking out a path and taking it, willing to take a chance and explore the unknown.  I love the idea that thousands of Americans have taken on the challenge of building their own little portion of the economy. Personally, I’m on my second try this year.  As you may recall, I quit my corporate job last March (what kind of crazy person quits a good job during a recession??) to start a business designed to link local farms to local consumers.  And guess what?  It didn’t work.  I admit that freely and without shame.  Simply put, when you don’t know what you’re doing, the only way...

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