I want to cluck a bit about our recycle program here in New Bern, NC. Bobbi Waters, many years ago, was instrumental in getting recycling started in New Bern. I remember it well. We were all issued recycle bins. Most folks balked at the thought of separating their trash. So OK, you don’t want to recycle, now you had to buy stickers for regular garbage and recycling was free. That turned a lot of people around. Now they could see the benefit of recycling and the program took off.

This Earth Day weekend, Craven County announced their decision to stop picking up recycling curbside. Really, on Earth Day weekend. That has gone over like a lead balloon. There are people up in arms about it.  I personally know a number of disabled and infirm people who can’t make it to the recycle centers to take their recyclables. They are in a quandary.

Then I learned that China isn’t buying our garbage anymore. Hmmm. Interesting that we aren’t taking care of our own mess. Apparently, we have created so much recycling that it’s not possible to recycle it all. What does that say about how we consume?

We want everything neatly sealed in plastic- food, clothing, practically everything we buy. If it’s not in plastic, it’s in something else. Styrofoam, cans, plastic bottles….

Now that we’re afraid of the water coming out of our taps, many have started to buy water in individual plastic bottles. Think about it. If everyone drinks eight bottles a day times all the people who buy these bottles of water, that’s a massive amount of plastic bottles. Even if they consider buying water in gallons, it’s still a lot of plastic waste. Not to mention that drinking out of plastic is bad for our health because the chemicals the plastic is made of leach out into the water.

What is the solution to the waste problem? How do we consume less recyclable items? We all know about carrying our own shopping bags. That’s a good step. How about buying fresh, whole foods, sold loose and we put the produce, nuts, snacks, grains, etc. in our own containers? Canning jars are a very good option for food storage. Fresh veggies and fruits often fair well without the plastic wrapping. There are reusable produce bags for greens, lettuce, and those things that wilt. Buy a decent water filter, it will pay for itself.

We can compost our paper products. The earth worms will be thrilled to eat them up for us. Cardboard makes a great weed barrier under mulch. Compost vegetable waste as well. If you live in an area where that’s not feasible, worm bins might work. They don’t take up much room and when done properly, don’t smell. You’d have the healthiest houseplants plants around if you water them with worm tea and use the compost in the soil.

There are solutions. Think before you buy something about how it’s packaged and how it could be improved. Let the manufacturer know your ideas and why you want the packaging changed. Be proactive about change.

The Earth supplies us with everything we need to live- water, air, food, water, beauty. What are we doing to protect her, to thank her for her abundance? Think about your role in her health and vitality. What are you doing to protect her natural resources? Do you speak out against things like fracking that destroy the land and poison our water? Do you speak out against clear cutting our National Forests? About the destruction of animal habitats?

Most of what goes on that is destructive to the Earth is rooted in greed. We’re losing our curbside recycling because it isn’t cost effective. What is the cost to the Earth if we don’t recycle, if we don’t take a good look at our own consumerism and find ways to change how and what we buy, if we don’t speak out about injustices to the Earth?

See if you can find a way to be part of the solution. See if you can cut down having to put your garbage out to once a month instead of once a week. Find a good water filter and refill glass or stainless steel bottles vs. buying bottled water in plastic bottles. Buy food from bulk bins when you can, taking your own containers to put it in. Be proactive.

This Little Light of Mine

I’m changing the content of my blog. I hope you like it. I am calling these passionate thoughts.

There is a song called This Little Light of Mine. As a child, I sang it along with the Lutheran congregation, having no idea what it meant. For all I knew, it could have been a candle, flashlight or lamp that I needed to let shine. The song faded from memory until now.

The light is our Christ Light, our God Spark, our Buddha Nature that dwells within each of us. It is pure Love that radiates from our hearts, when we let it.

How many times do we judge and shut that light off? If we pay attention to our thoughts, we realize there are many times judgment obstructs our light. For example, walking down the street and seeing a house that is unkempt and thinking, those people need to get out and paint this house and clean up their yard. That is a judgment. We have no idea what circumstances those people live under. Maybe they are sick or injured. Walking into WalMart is a great practice ground for eliminating judgment. There are YouTube videos full of judgment about WalMart shoppers if you can’t make it to the actual store.

Being with a group is one of the hardest times to eliminate judgment. Someone will make a negative comment about somebody missing from the group, or something they have witnessed. Our immediate response is generally, to agree and add to the negativity. It’s often hard to sit back and stay mute, harder still to bring positive light into the conversation. Practice, practice, practice. And by all means, avoid starting a negative conversation.

It’s important to recognize when you are making a judgment and stop the thought right there. Immediately think a positive, loving thought to replace the negativity.

Thoughts are powerful. They create an energy of their own that flows out affecting us, the people or situation we are having the negative thought about, and everyone around us.

The more we practice letting go of judgment and seeing the world through the eyes of acceptance, the easier it is to open our hearts to everyone, allowing Love to flow and our Light to shine.

Hurricane Florence came to town and blew the feathers off of Ruby.

Ruby with a feather-less tail

With my youngest daughter and her two young children, we ran for the hills when we heard there was a mandatory evacuation ordered for New Bern, NC.  My friends in Rutherfordton, NC hosted us for almost a week, while we attempted to pretend things were hunky-dory back home.

I knew my chickens were in good hands with my next door neighbor looking after them. I also knew the hurricane would be a huge stress for the girls. There was little surprise to come home to see Ruby looking haggard, disheveled, and barren of eggs. I’m not sure how she lost all those feathers, but it could be the hurricane blew them off her. I didn’t see many feathers in the chicken house or yard when I arrived home. I was amazed to see Ethel and Rose looking unfazed.

The girls, well, Rose, was laying one egg a day as my daughter and I “relaxed” in our safe haven and as we made the journey home. Rose continued to lay an egg a day for about two weeks. Then she stopped.

A few days after she stopped laying eggs, I went out to tend the girls and discovered the chicken house full of feathers and a moth-eaten Rose. After several days of filling the house with feathers, she looked almost naked.

Her feathers are beginning to return. One day she’s all pin feathers, the next, poof, real feathers. I look forward to having them start laying eggs again. I miss the eggs.

As for the human and animal equation here in New Bern, they took a big hit in Florence. We had to take a circuitous route home to avoid flooded roads the Monday after the storm. Water stood high in the ditches on either side of the road as we worked our way down Hwy 17 from little Washington. Folks had already started the deconstruction of their homes, mounding the duct-work, insulation and sheet-rock along the road, creating voluminous privacy fences.

Places that have never flooded, flooded. Other commonly flooding areas were spared. Many people lost everything while a good number lost a lot. A few people died. Scores of people and animals were rescued by boat. The stress factor here was palpable.

Clean up continues and life for the lucky ones has become routine again. There is still so much more effort required to get near complete recovery. It’s going to be a long while before life returns to normal for everyone.

It was eye-opening to see all the organizations band together and come from far and wide to help with everything. Food, clothing, deconstruction, tree removal, tarping roofs… you name it. Bless them all.



New and Improved?

My previous car was a 2005 Toyota Corolla, and I loved that car. I dubbed her Zippy and rode her hard for over 100,000 carefree miles.

When it came time to look at another car, I didn’t look overly hard. I checked out a Chevy Cruze and Honda Civic before driving over to Toyota, and without doing a thorough investigation, bought my 2016 Toyota Corolla.

I had read a small amount about the CVT transmission, which is relatively new, so I wasn’t sure what I though about it. My salesperson said they have been using them in Corollas about five years with great success. My experience is questionable. When driving around Southern Pines, NC on curvy roads with slight hills using cruise control, I would have to say that it sometimes felt like the transmission was slipping. I know I am basing that feeling on my experience with a regular transmission’s slipping. I was told, when I remarked on it at my first maintenance visit, that feeling is common on a four-cylinder car with a CVT transmission. Wish I’d know that before my purchase.

Let’s talk seats. Anyone else feel like their head is being pushed forward by the head rest, while the top of the seat rounds their shoulders and their lumbar area is unsupported? I was recently informed that my spine requires an upright posture with a slightly tucked chin. I realized immediately that my car seat allows for none of that. Who designed this car seat? So, I have purchased a cushion for behind my back that supports my lumbar and allows me to sit upright, and turned the head rest around backward to keep it from pushing my head forward in an unnatural position.

I am all legs, so with the seat back as far as it will go, I have just enough leg room to be comfortable. When I added the cushion to my seat, I was pushed forward enough to lose that comfortable leg zone. I’m not happy about that.

And who decided to make the head rests in the back seats non-removable?  Now, when I need to put the back seats down to carry long cargo, I have to move my front seats forward. I have already lost positive leg-room with my added seat cushion, so this further loss of leg room is unacceptable. And what if the head rest isn’t the right height for my backseat passengers? Too bad.

When I have my headlights on, people coming my way are always flashing their bright lights at me, as if I have my high beams on. This is another poor design feature halogen lights. Because they are brighter than the old standard incandescent headlights, they have designed it so the lights are shielded on the top, in hopes of not blinding people coming toward you or people driving in front of you. This limits my visibility of anything higher than the engine hood, so my vision going up a steep hill is impaired. Plus, reading street signs at night is now impossible because of the shielded lights.

It has been deemed aerodynamic to make the Corolla lower overall, which has added another problem. Going up or down a small, steep incline creates a grating noise, as the front end scrapes. I never had this issue with my old Corolla. And God forbid you should need to go down a gravel road that is being graded and has a small hill of gravel down the center that you have to cross. This happened to me recently and the front end of my car acted like a shovel. I heard gravel dropping out of my car for thirty minutes after getting back on the hard top because I crossed the loose gravel ridge to get out of the way of an oncoming car.

Who’s excited about the back-up camera? I can’t say I am. When the sun is out and shining just right, there is a glare on the screen, so you can’t see anything. If it’s raining, with a slight breeze, the camera gets droplets on it making it impossible to see back there. And forget using it at night-time. I was backing down a friend’s driveway one night, which was the same color as the road I was backing out onto, and both were strewn with leaves. There were trees on either side of the driveway and it was pitch black out there. Backing out was a nightmare. There aren’t any real back-up lights on the car, so trying to maneuver backwards using the mirrors or turning around and looking didn’t work. I felt blind and moved slowly, so if I did end up hitting a tree, I would do minimal damage. I would suggest Toyota add regular back-up lights to their future models so people can see what’s behind them.

So please Toyota, more leg room for the driver, ergonomically designed seats that allow proper spine alignment, headlights that don’t blind other drivers and allow the driver to see a full view, raise the car a tad, bring back removable rear seat head rests, look for a better transmission for a four-cylinder car and put in decent backup lights – even if you choose to keep the camera.

Chop Saw

After putting together the first of the four bi-fold doors, I decided I needed to rethink my strategy. Using a finish saw, square and doing everything I could to make my cuts precision, turned out to be less than desirable.

Not only is it hard to cut equal lengths of board to create slats with a hand saw, but I used pine which has both hard and soft elements, making a drilling nightmare for the dowel holes.

The door looks pretty wonky. I decided that a chop saw would increase my efficiency in the equal length cutting arena, which is has. I went to Lowe’s today at exactly the right time. I found a helpful employee who discussed the attributes of the various miter saws with me – apparently they aren’t called chop saws. I picked out a saw that was on sale, and the last one they had in stock. After the employee loaded my cart with the saw, a man came up asking for the exact same model. I heard the employee telling him I had the last one. I’m guessing the man got a rain check?

I brought the saw home and set it up in my car port on a portable workbench. It worked like a dream; especially once I figured out I could put a mark on the saw table to show where to place the wood for the perfect cut, versus marking the wood over and over again. My pieces are now uniform.

I have no idea how to improve the drilling aspect of this project. I have done my best to rig a jig for holding the slats, but when the bit hits a hard part of the wood, it slides over to the soft part of the wood, making the holes off-center. Some of the slats are drilling out fine, others not so much. After cutting one hundred slats, I’m thinking I might need to opt for different wood for the slats?

I’ll keep you posted. Who knew this learning curve could be so time-consuming and expensive?

Door Crafting

I have fabulous plans for the use of the back half of my house. I originally cleared out the back bedroom and den so my dad could come live with me. He opted to go back to his home to live, leaving me with this unused area. I decided not to move myself back into that space, but instead to create a long dreamed of inspiration. This is to become my H.E.A.L.T.H. Retreat. (Healing Energies Align Lovingly Through Harmonics) I’m excited about it.

In order to make this venture work, I needed to craft a couple of doors, one for the bedroom, and one for the closet. I don’t think curtains will suffice anymore.

I am not a cabinet-maker. I have never managed to make anything truly square in my life. The bedroom door was fashioned with some fence panels a friend, who owns a precision lumber company, had made for a client, who then opted to go with something else. I decided to make a barn door for that opening; apparently they’re all the rage. This door fell together with ease.

I tried to get Lowe’s to special order panels for the closet door. I want there to be four panels, opening in the middle, with two panels on each side sliding to the edge of the doorway, and I want there to be spaces (Louviers are possible, but more complicated to do.)  for air to flow through the closet. Lowe’s was a no go on the special order.

Again, my friend with the lumber company had some small “slats” she had created for a client, who didn’t want them. Bless her! She cut some specialty true dimension wood for the sides of the doors for me, so the door hardware will fit, and along with the slats I’m in business. These doors however, need to be square and well fitted.

I have a rudimentary understanding of how this should work, and I do have a square “tool”. I am hoping these doors will flow as easily as the bedroom door.

I’ll keep you posted.


Bedroom Door

Seriously not wider at the top – that’s an optical illusion.



The proposed closet doors in the planning stage.

I know, already not square. Give me time!

Okra Slime

I need to do clucking about some things that are on my mind.

They finally stopped making the razor blades for the razor I’ve had since 1995. Each razor blade held two blades and lasted a long time. There was no lubrication; you used soap or a shaving gel to get a good glide. I thought it did a fine job.

I went out and bought a new razor. This one has five blades and lubrication built-in so all you need is water. It is the Equate brand.

The first time I used my new razor, okra slime came pouring out to lube my legs. I was totally grossed out and tried to find where the slime was coming from so I could remove the offensive part. I never found it. It was difficult to rinse the slime off my legs and underarms. And somehow they have made this razor so the lube never quits. The blades give out after a couple shaves, the slime never.

You should know a little about my background with okra and why I have trouble with that particular veggie and slime.

As a young child, with parents who were born and raised in the north, I was never introduced to things like okra, country ham, or grits.

I was invited to my friend’s house for dinner, where they served country ham and boiled okra. I don’t remember what else was served, because those two items hit my palate hard. The ham was so salty I thought my mouth would shrivel up, which is probably why they paired boiled okra with the country ham, to give your palate some moisture.

My friend’s sister, seeing my face as I shoved the okra around on my plate made a big production of moving her okra around to collect all the slime she could. When she lifted the okra to her mouth, the slime stretched like snot from her plate to her mouth. I almost gagged as she slurped it up and swallowed.

To this day I can’t eat okra in any of its myriad forms except a tad bit of pickled okra. All the other types, fried, cooked with tomatoes, put in a soup, cooked with green beans, dried, you name it, won’t make it past my lips.

So when the gunk started oozing out of my razor, I had a flashback to my youth and okra slime. I wonder what chemicals are in that razor lube.


Ethel started having issues. She became lethargic, wouldn’t eat, and drank a lot of water. This went on for several days until I became really worried about her. She’d been “off her feed” before and bounced back on her own.

I had another chicken with crop problems of a different nature before. You may remember the chicken that ate so much she choked herself to death with her crop?

I, of course, checked out the internet for solutions to Ethel’s problem. There was an article describing a chicken acting a lot like Ethel that had an impacted crop. The solution was the massage the crop toward the chicken’s mouth. Reading more of the article, I learned that it is quite possible for a chicken to develop sour crop on the heels of impacted crop, because the food sits and starts to rot in the crop. Gross. The way of dealing with sour crop is to turn the chicken upside down and massage the crop toward the chicken’s head and get the putrid liquid to run out of her mouth. Double gross. And to top it all off, sometimes when a chicken has been through all that, they develop distended crop, meaning their crop is all stretched out forever. When this happens, they are more likely to have a relapse of impacted and sour crop.

I went out and had a talk with Ethel. “Ethel, you know I love you, right? And even though you’re old and don’t lay eggs anymore, I want to help you. Please, pass the food and be healthy.”

Ethel sat by the water and looked at me. She was too weak to put up a fight, so I massaged her crop. She kept chewing and swallowing as if food was going into her mouth.

Lo and behold, it worked. Ethel was up and eating the next day and is healthy as ever. Thank goodness we didn’t have to deal with sour crop!


Changing It Up

I’m changing up the dialog here on City Cluckers. I’ll still crow about the hens, but sometimes chickens are just chickens and have nothing exciting to tell. In those moments, I’ll talk about other subjects that hold my interest.

Things often happen in life that are hard to accept, but in the end, they bring about positive change. For instance, several years ago, my neighbor sprayed my blueberry bushes with roundup a week before harvest time. In the moment, I was pissed they ruined my ability to pick and eat my organic blueberries. AND, because they tainted my land and I dug up and moved the bushes farther from the fence line, I created enough room to build a Sweat Lodge in my backyard. Having the Sweat Lodge in my backyard had been a dream of mine for eighteen years. Voila` positive change from a negative situation.

This past fall, my dad was having physical problems and decided he needed to live with someone, so I rearranged my home to give him private space to live with me. As it turns out, he got over his physical handicaps through rehab and after a six week vacation with me, went back home. I decided not to re-establish myself in my old bedroom and den, just in case dad needs to come back sometime in the future. I don’t want to go through all the downsizing and rearranging again. In creating space for dad, I now have my dream of a healing retreat right here where I live. People can come stay with me, either Air B&B wise and tour the town, or come stay with me and do healing work- Sweat Lodge, eat organic food, massage, yoga, sound therapy….  I have a bedroom suite/bath for them and the den is now a sound meditation/yoga studio and classroom. Never, in a million years, would I have figured that solution out on my own. I thought I should have 125 acres with all kinds of fancy facilities to make a healing retreat work, and here I am, living in town, making it happen here where I am. More positive change! Gotta love it.

It’s Freezing Out Here

I took a trip during one of the coldest two weeks thus far this winter. Some serious cold weather was happening. When the “snow bomb” hit the east coast, I was down in the Deep South returning my dad to his home in Mobile, AL.

I lined up my regular chicken tender who lives across town and because I was worried about the reported below freezing temperatures stretching through my time away, I enlisted the help of my next door neighbor to be the early morning chicken waterer.

I knew that the chickens needed water more than anything else, and with the freezing temps lasting all day, they would need to be offered unfrozen water several times a day.

My neighbor did an exemplary job of making sure they had water, going out before he went to work and checking again when he came home for lunch.

Unbeknownst to me, two other friends were also helping me out. They reported their doings after almost a week of kind care.

My regular chicken tender had a four-wheel vehicle and actually traversed town on slippery roads to be there for the chickens at least once a day.

The chickens all survived the inhospitable weather. The only thing they suffered was mild frost bite of their combs. Can you believe they laid eggs all through that time?

I am ever grateful for all my helpers.