Taking Flight, Again

baby_pheobes Last year, Phoebe, our winged resident, built her nest in one of two Arroyo Craftsman lights that frame the front door. Each year, I marvel at why she chooses the busiest location to tend to her nest, as she has a hissy fit -- tail flicking, stressed alarm calls -- every time the screen door opens and closes. Despite the coming and going disturbances, she keeps showing up each year to tend to her latest brood.

Peering around the corner from my summer office, the screened-in porch, I watched the building take shape. My front door, with its lopsided entrance, one light adorned with twigs and branches, the other naked, winked daringly to keep my distance.

It reminded me not to leave behind my work utensils on the commute from kitchen to porch.

Computer, check…glasses, check…phone and headphones, check…cloth napkin, check (have been known to spill while groping for the teacup in a computer trance)…

With loving care, Phoebe folded the natural bedding round and round until the little nest fit her perfectly. Then she sat, shimmying from side to side, watchful eyes aimed at the porch. One day, her peeping took on a fevered pitch and she was done sitting -- hatched -- five tiny, translucent bodies with open wide beaks peeking over the top of the nest.

Then came a soaking rainstorm. In the early morning hours, the summer sky opened to a deluge of windswept water. When the riot subsided, I tiptoed out to the porch, arms full of work paraphernalia, focused on not slipping on the slick deck. Stepping into the safety of the porch, I noticed the silence. No mother/child chorus. No movement above the light. Dead quiet.

Right about this time, my writing ebbed.

For months, writing had flowed out of me like nobody’s business. Notes filled notebooks and pages piled up. Then an insightful editor told me to put the breaks on the floodwaters and get cranking on publishing.

In the meantime, I continued along my work trail. Work thrived. Writing limped.

Even blog posts that used to spring out of nowhere, where nowhere in sight.


A few weeks ago, right on schedule, Phoebe came back and laid her eggs -- one, two, three. All fluff and beaks, these minis flourished.

One morning, the birds stood up, peered around their nest, and like a toddler about to throw one chubby leg over a crib gate -- they were ready. Thinking the birds would jump ship, I went around back to enter the porch. But they held tight.

The next day I was leaving for the BlogHer conference – 3 insanely hectic days in NYC. I dreamt about gardens and flight. The stark contrast of my lush home in the woods to the rush of city lights and throngs of people, couldn’t be harsher. But I enjoy the freedom of travel and look forward to the change of scene; always thankful I have a refuge, this haven, to return to. My nest.

Returning, I walked out to the porch this morning and the peeping started, reaching an all-time high. Then, in a blink of any eye, the babies flew over to the power line that connects us to the rest of the world. There they sat, tails flicking like mom’s. Once safely ensconced in my writing porch, I watched them fly into the woods, one by one.

Settling down to work, I click on my computer, but instead of opening my Inbox, I stare at a blank white page. Maybe I could write something today? How do I know?

'Cause just like that a post took flight.

Photo note: I tried hard not to disturb Pheobe and her babies. I didn't dare take photos. This photo of sleeping newborns is from Shutterstock.

Food Rule Backlash

"Do all your eating at a table. No, a desk is not a table.”


Ted says the illustration above is of me. It's not, but it could be.

How many food rules do you break? Michael Pollan has added 19 new rules in his latest book, Food Rules: an eater's manual, and they’ve been brought to life by the fabulous illustrations from artist, Maira Kalman.

I just read an interview with Michael Pollan by writer, Sarah Henry of Civil Eats. The interview digs into how his collaboration with Kalman came to be. When asked during the interview whether or not Pollan feels our interest in the food movement has peaked, he expanded upon why he keeps pushing food:

“I do feel a sense of urgency to keep writing about food. We’re just beginning to see the impact of our food choices on health care and insurance costs—obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are soaring—and we need to keep the pressure on the government and corporations for change.”

I mostly like Pollan’s rules and abide by this one:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

This rule has been my food mantra for years:

"The fewer the feet, the better the meat”

…minus the feet.

More and more I’m noticing that I have conflicting issues around food--but they're the opposite problem than those who eat too much meat have. For years, my family has chided me to loosen up on my no red meat rule. Friends I’ve known my entire life can’t seem to remember that I haven’t eaten red meat since college. When I'm invited to dinner, they still ask,

“What is it again that you don’t eat?”

Why don’t I eat red meat? I can’t remember. I do know I’ve lost my taste for it. A part of me wishes I could find a reason to bring a little meat back into my diet because I’m getting increasingly paranoid about all the mercury in fish. I'm told, the cute cows I can hear mooing from the farm behind my backyard are the best meat around.

I want to live the life of a locavore. Yet, I can’t eat red meat...and I can’t remember anymore why I hold on tight to that food rule.

Pollan says to those who want to know if they need food rules:

“When you eat real food, you don’t need rules.”

Oh no, this one doesn’t fly with me because I have food rules and I eat real food. Anyone else have this food rule backlash problem?

Food issues are complicated, and the act of eating should be part pleasure, part communion with a hefty dose of healthy nutrition.

Maira Kalman’s illustrations are poignant, funny and sad all at the same time, which just about sums up my latest food feelings. Her art adds a large dollop of cream to Pollan’s book.


If you’re in mood for a little humor, Pollan brings his food rules to Stephen Colbert’s plate. Watch the funny exchange here.

Main image: Maira Kalman for Food Rules

Celebration Giveaway!

It’s the time for celebrations. Not only is it 4th of July weekend, it's the one-year "blogoversary" of Econesting!

To commemorate the occasion, I dug into the archives and revisited some of the wonderful accolades that have come about because of Econesting: Working with the Environmental Defense Fund's Moms Clean Air Force, a six-page profile in the magazine, Where Women Create, my ongoing association with Care2, being named one of Yahoo's Top 10 Living Green Experts, and getting to "meet" so many of you through your comments and emails.

I won't get too deep into the details of maintaining a blog - Photoshop mishaps, incessant spam, html-hell, etc...But, I will say that it is all worth it to achieve the mission of sharing inspiration that is ecological, educational, economical and evolutionary.

I still LOVE, LOVE doing that, SO...

I’m inviting you to celebrate Econesting’s windy path towards creating a stylish, socially-aware eco-blog with a book give-away!

The book, Crafting A Meaningful Home: 27 DIY Projects to Tell Stories, Hold Memories, and Celebrate Family Heritage, by Meg Mateo Ilasco, brings together decorative and eclectic DIY projects. The message? Our nests are portholes from which others can glean the personality and energy of it’s inhabitants.

Crafting A Meaningful Home tells stories that reflect and celebrate the historical and ethnic impressions of the authors.

For example: This chunky Doily Rug, created by Jean Lee, puts a modern spin on a craft she learned as a child – crocheting. Using hemp rope, Lee melds the "eco" and the craft. LOVE IT.

Want a copy?

Simply leave a comment on this post (below) and say what your favorite Econesting post was. Comments close 9am EST on Tuesday, July 5th. A winner will be chosen at random, and will be announced in the comment box. Sorry, open to US residents only.

Thank you so much for making this first year such a success and enjoy the 4th!