Tuesday, April 19, 2011

a thriller, a comedy and an unexplained chicken

Netflix may or may not be the best invention ever.

I could drive to a movie theater, park, buy popcorn, watch previews, watch a movie, and drive home in the time that it takes me to choose a movie to stream on Netflix.

Too many choices? That's only a small part of it. There are too many areas for potential distraction. There's the recommendations selected just for me. Searching by favorite actors, directors, genres, provides further distraction. Every corner opens new doors into a never-ending, deep dark abyss. When I select a movie that looks interesting, the website generates movies they think are similar to the one I've clicked. And on and on it goes.

Hours pass before I realize I'm not any closer to choosing a movie worthy of watching than when I logged in.

I watched two movies over the weekend. Neither of which were streamed from Netflix. Both of which I've previously viewed.

La Femme Nikita

This spy, action, thriller film, directed by the French filmmaker, Luc Besson, kept my attention when it first came out over ten years ago. That still holds true today. La Femme Nikita is the story of a young woman, Nikita, played by Anne Parillaud, who is transformed from a killer in the streets to a government assassin. In the opening scenes, she projects feral hostility and brings a wild animal persona to the role.

Cornered by police, Nikita takes advantage of a cop's momentary lapse of attention to grab his gun and shoot him directly in the face. She has no hope of escape. She is simply so deranged and strung-out that she doesn't care if she lives or dies.

Nikita is sentenced to death, but there's a surprising twist... her death was faked, and she finds herself inside a secret government program that takes people with no hope and remakes them into programmed assassins. Nikita is given a new identity, new values, new skills. Her controller, Bob, a tough spymaster, has the job of training her. She is so filled with anger and violence that she'd rather kick and bite him than listen to this man who spared her life.

There is more to Nikita than murder and mayhem. About a third of the way into the story, Nikita finds that she prefers love over hate, tenderness over brutality. Watching her transition from crazed killer to a woman with unself-conscious grace, adds tenderness to this thriller. Stunning cinematography, superb acting and extraordinary writing all come together to make this movie one of my all-time favorites.

The Hangover

What do a tiger, a chicken, a horrible, effeminate, Chinese stereotype man naked in a car trunk, a stolen police car, Mike Tyson, a baby, a missing tooth and Phil Collins’ music all have in common? Answer: Nothing, but within 100 minutes this movie finds a way to juxtapose and explain all. Well...except the chicken.

In short, it's a film about four guys who travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Sounds very formula, right? Au contrair, mon ami! The movie opens with a wedding montage, then we cut to the disheveled group and Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) making the call to the groom’s wife, “We fucked up.” The rest of the movie explains how profoundly they "fucked up."

That's all I can tell you about it without giving too much away.

For this one I highly recommend you grab your favorite alcoholic beverage, sit back and be prepared to laugh. And if you're not laughing, you're taking it way too seriously!

Be warned: neither of these movies are kid friendly. Adults only! I don't want to be held responsible for the corruption of your children.

Tell me... what good movies have you seen lately?

Monday, April 11, 2011

la coopérative: raising backyard chickens, Part 2

The first coop I purchased was small. About the size of a rabbit hutch. A wooden box about four feet wide and three feet high. I figured bantys don't need much space and that's all I was planning to keep on our city lot.

I purchased our first chicks (four bantys) and raised them in a plastic brooder made out of a rubbermaid container kept in the bathtub, warmed with a 60 watt light bulb. After about five months, I realized two of those chicks made different noises than the others.

Kind of a bummer 'cause this guy was really hard to part with...


It's impossible to sex banty chicks, so you take a chance. There are advantages to purchasing chicks though. First of all, who doesn't love to hold and care for adorable, fluffy little chicks? Second, hand raised chickens are usually friendlier and easier to handle than those raised without regular human touch. This is essential when you need to clean a pasty butt or use them as models.

baby chick

Our banty hens are great layers, but when you bake as much as I do, standard size chicken eggs are essential. Larger chickens = larger coop.

I searched Craig's List. I searched chicken sites on the internet. I knew what I wanted, but I also knew I didn't have the ability to build it myself. Here's where local carpenter Jeff Dunn comes in. He builds aesthetically pleasing, functional coops.

Jeff built this offsite, delivered it, and placed it in our backyard. Voilà!

chicken coop

coop in the snow

This houses our five hens quite well. The coop is not insulated, but chickens have a natural ability to keep warm as long as they're fully feathered. I use this light only when temperatures drop below about 15 degrees for several days.


During the day, the girls wander freely around the yard, scratching the soil, eating weeds and bugs, generally wreaking havoc on the garden. There are benefits to this. I used to till the raised beds, but now I just let the girls have at it between plantings. This creates healthy soil and happy chickens!

Any predators are pretty much kept at bay while Bailey's in charge.


Bailey and the chicks arrived about the same time, so she was trained to protect them beginning at an early age.

If you're planning to get chickens, and don't have a chicken tender like Bailey, you'll want to build a run with a cover to keep them safe and let them get some exercise.

Happy hens will supply these gifts on a regular basis (for at least two years). The most delicious, expensive eggs ever to pass your lips.




Thursday, April 7, 2011

back to chickens

For those of you who stop by expecting to hear about chickens, food, or my family, stick around. The next few posts will be all about chickens.

In case you're just joining me, here's a recap of the initial purpose of this blog. Raising chickens on a city lot in the city.

I've had chickens (hens only, no roosters allowed in the city) for four years now. Some of my girls are four years old and still laying eggs.

Let's meet them.

Gidget. Feisty chicken extraordinaire. She's a banty Araucana or Easter Egger. She lays small, beautiful green eggs.

banty EE hen

She rules the roost. Gidget never thinks twice about bossing even the largest hens around the coop. She's as mean as a snake and as cruel as a cat.

Nelly. Our sweetest and smallest chicken. She's a banty buff sebright. A petite little thing. No fluffy butt here.


Nelly is as sweet as pie. Unlike Gidget, she never gets her feathers in a bind when a new coop mate moves in. She just carries on. She loves to wander into the kitchen uninvited or peek at me while perched on the windowsill. She was featured in the Backyard Chicken calendar. Miss January 2009. Although they're like night and day, Nelly and Gidget are BFFs.

Lucy and Ethel. Barred Rocks. These two are living up to their namesakes. Ethel is slightly larger than Lucy. I can't really tell them apart, but my daughter says she can. They both lay large brown eggs every day. One of them lays speckled eggs, although I have no idea which one.

barred rock hen

barred rock hen

Together these girls get themselves into more trouble than... well... Lucy and Ethel. You can read about a few of their antics here.

Wynonna. A golden-laced wyandotte and our most beautiful chicken. She's never laid an egg in the three years we've had her. We keep her around because she's a supermodel.


Here she is in oil...


Painting by Bruce Anderson

Here she is in flight...

You might be thinking, “but chickens don’t fly.” Here’s proof they do. This shot of Wynonna was taken by my amazing animal photographer friend, Carli Davidson. You can see more of her work at carlidavidson.photoshelter.com.

Next: the coop

Monday, April 4, 2011


I have 27 jackets. Too many? Raise your hand if you agree with my husband.

During the duration of this project, Japan experienced a major earthquake, a devastating tsunami, and several nuclear disasters. The United States became involved in a military intervention against Libya. Elizabeth Taylor died. It rained every day in Portland.




I have one teeny tiny confession. There are actually ten more jackets in my closet that were not included because they weren’t photo worthy.

Here’s a little perspective: Imelda Marcos owned 3,000 pairs of shoes.

27 (or 37) jackets... ha, piddly.

Jackets rule!

Carry on.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

the jacket project day 27

Calvin Klein yellow rain jacket/coat with hood. I had a dream about a yellow jacket similar to this one. On my way to lunch at Nordstrom’s cafe the next day, I couldn’t ignore the vibrant yellow in my peripheral vision. I love its big silver buttons.

This shot was snapped by my husband. He told me to visualize a cute, soft little duck. Then he slapped his hand down on the imaginary duck. Smack! no more duck. He clicked just in time to get me with this shocked expression. Have you seen the Audrey Hepburn movie, Funny Face? Then you’ll get this reference. If you haven’t seen it, you need to.

Friday, April 1, 2011

the jacket project day 26

This jacket is by Community from Aritzia. It’s made from renewable hemp, which makes it a perfect Portlandia jacket. If you’ve never been to an Aritzia, you must check them out. Super cute clothes (although a bit on the spendy side).

Aritzia has the best sales ever, and I happen to be there the minute this jacket was discarded by another customer in time to snatch it up at 80% off its regular price of $200.