Winner, winner, chicken dinner

Ok, so. We killed some chickens about a month ago. Killed, plucked, eviscerated, grilled, and dined upon. Clearly, I’m real slow about keeping you all in the loop, but it’s weighing heavily on my mind, I guarantee. I know you want to see pictures. I want to show you.

The birds showed up the afternoon before the day of the slaughter in a cardboard box ironically emblazed with “DINNERMATE” on the side. And they were big. And scary. Frankie and Waffles looked like fancy little creampuffs next to these two.

They were real serious – clearly upset. And we felt absolutely awful about the whole thing all day long. Thankfully, we held fast to our convictions: no matter how awful it may seem to kill a real, live animal – we eat meat. And in doing so, we should be willing to expose ourselves to the not-so-comfortable-yet-unavoidable reality.

(I want to pause here for one moment to offer my most effusive thanks to Morgan Maki and Linh Phu. These are two of the most amazing and sincere human beings I’ve ever met and they are, honestly, the ones who made this night happen. I love you both.)

So the day progresses. All of the prep is done. The house is eerily quiet. People start to show up. Morgan and Linh arrive. Everyone meets the birds. We all have a drink to steel our nerves. It’s a funny time: we all know what’s going to happen, but it still feels a little unreal. The birds are trying to put themselves to bed and I start to feel guilty. Finally, I make the call.

Out comes the first bird.

Morgan and I had discussed slaughtering methods earlier, and we agreed that we’d try to minimize the gore by trussing the birds and slitting their throats.

I held the body while Morgan plunged a knife through its mouth and out of the top of its head and then slit its throat. Unfortunately, the first bird didn’t die so easily. We finally untied it and Morgan took off the head with a cleaver.

We decided to forgo the throat slitting for the second bird and just chopped off the head. What I remember most from the slaughter is the silence. No one made a sound. I think we all felt uneasy about what we were doing, and at the same time, we all understood the importance of the act.

Once the birds had been slaughtered, we submersed them in boiling water and plucked them!

Morgan was kind enough to eviscerate both chickens and to show us what to keep and what to toss.

He also gave a demo on butchering, using some prepared birds I’d gotten from the restaurant.

Linh grilled flatbread and Morgan threw together an amazing slaw and we had a truly celebratory feast.

We roasted off all of the bones and made loads of stock. Sadly, none of us humans were skilled or brave enough to properly deal with the giblets, but we seared them off for the kittens who happily devoured them.

SFIS is on hiatus for the time being. Huge thanks to all who have attended thus far and big hugs and kisses to Phu and Maki for making our last event so profoundly wonderful. (And huge thanks to Francisco and Jesse for the photos!) If you would like to participate in a future event, please contact me.

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Coop de Foudre

It seems that the time has finally come for the chickens to move into more permanent housing. When we got them, we were forced to build something fast. They seemed happy enough. They laid eggs. They filed in at night and put themselves to roost. We got lazy. Then the rats showed up.

I wasn’t terribly worried at first – we live in a city and rats are bound to lurk wherever food is available. The other morning, however, I woke up to a broken egg under their nesting platform. Time to motivate.

Christopher and I have been discussing chicken coop plans forever, it seems like. Do we buy a pre-fab coop, do we hire someone to build one, do we try to build one ourselves (scary!)? I’ve been looking over designs and plans for days. Some of the images I’ve come across are amazing.

We finally decided to design and build our own coop. With almost zero building experience, some hastily sketched blueprints, and borrowed power tools from the restaurant, we forged ahead.

Forekitten Gris-Gris was on the job, making sure everyone was following safety guidelines:

Waffles checks for structural soundness:

Christopher through the people door:

Slowly, the frame comes together:

And the walls go on:

Nesting boxes in!

and voila!

The girls are happy and safe and producing lovely and delicious eggs!

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SFIS August and the SFCB Roadworks Steamroller Printing Fair

It’s raining. Why is it raining? It’s August and all I feel like doing is burying myself in down comforters and watching all of Rohmer’s Moral Tales in succession. Nothing like Frenchmen in espadrilles and freckled, bronzed teenage girls in bikinis on a grey afternoon. Perfect for napping. (P.S. My birthday is on Monday.)

Speaking of my birthday, we’ve rented a house on Tomales Bay for the weekend and I can’t wait to float around in one of those blow up things, eat oysters, and scratch bug bites. My own little Rohmerian getaway.

Two weeks after that, SFIS will meet again! On Sunday, August 29th, I will be giving a demo on linoleum carving / printing. Some of you know that I volunteer once a week at the SFCB. Every year, SFCB puts on an event called Roadworks in which a construction steamroller rolls over the carved blocks which are inked and laid end to end on the street. This month’s fair will be held on Sunday, September 19th. A few artists from the community are selected to create large linoleum blocks for the event. Anyone else who is interested in participating can purchase a 1′ x 1′ lino from the center for $10. The cost covers ink, paper, and printing. Everyone who contributes a lino will receive one copy of their print. A second copy will be sold at the fair to help support SFCB.

I will provide tools and inks for the demo (if you have your own, feel free to bring them). I can pick up linos from the center for anyone interested – (Please let me know so that I can gauge how many we’ll need. Cost is $10/lino.)

Anyone who would like to be added to the SFIS mailing list should email me here.

If you can’t make this month’s event, you can look forward to September, when Morgan Maki and Linh Phu of Bi-Rite Market will be giving a butchering demo!

Can’t wait to see you all!

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“One returns to the self as to an old house…”

Some great photos by Matt Gauncheau of Joshua Clayton’s piece on following orders.

It is cold and overcast this morning. All week I have been thinking about Sunday and how to tell those who came and participated how immensely rewarding it was to see everyone. It was an amazing night and I am eagerly looking forward to the next event (August 29th!). Thank you, really, truly, from the absolute bottom of my heart.

It’s no great secret that I am given to bouts of outrageously absurd idealism – often accompanied by actual tears of joy. Thankfully, these hearts-and-rainbows sing-a-long moments are tempered by periods of soul-crushing darkness complete with a whole different variety of waterworks. I suppose there’s a name for this sort of thing, but I prefer to imagine myself engaged in a lifelong exploration of my own version of Hegel’s Dialectic, circling between belief in the world as I would like it to be and acceptance of the world as it actually is. Lately, I’ve had the feeling that the circles are gradually getting smaller – at least on a personal level.

The number one obstacle I face is my own inability to focus on making manifest my life as I would like it to be. I have always been of the mind that one need only work to better oneself in order to impact the greater good. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to stop giving myself over to every possible distraction. Case in point: I started writing this post on Monday (it’s is currently Friday). Since I sat down this morning at about 8am (it’s now 10), fully determined to get this done, I have had my toast and coffee, smoked a cigarette, checked facebook probably 3 times, read an article on the death of Tobias Wong (sad) and an interview with Maurizio Cattelan (inspiring), cuddled with the kitten, looked for things I don’t need on ebay, sat in the garden, thought about taking a nap, showered, stared out the window, and read half of a poem by Pablo Neruda. Just half. I am, without question, a top-tier procrastinator and I feel enabled by every stupid technology that promises to make my life more convenient.

I want more of less. I want to be fully committed to, and care more deeply for, fewer things. I want to turn the circle into a point.

Thanks again to everyone, for Sunday. Hope to see you all soon.

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Introducing New SFIS President, Treasurer: Frankenstien (a.k.a. “Frankie”) and Esperanza (a.k.a “Waffles”)

Our second event is fast approaching and a lot of changes are afoot at the house. Perhaps the most exciting is the introduction of two new important members of SFIS: Frankenstein and Esperanza:

On Friday of last week I was having lunch with Simon and Christopher at the restaurant previously known as Los Jarritos, when I received a phone call from my friend, Liz, who had been staying with us in between apartments. She told me that she’d wanted to get me a thank you gift but that she was suddenly a little concerned – she wasn’t sure where we were going to keep “them.” She then proceeded to tell me that our chef, Thomas, was on his way back to the city with two chickens. Two. Live. Chickens.

Now, as many of you know, we have a lovely backyard that any chicken would be happy to roam about in. But chickens need a coop. With nesting boxes. And a roost. And protection from night-time scaries. After the initial wave of panic passed, I took a quick vote from my luncheon companions to confirm that we were all on board to make this happen. We raced home to assess the situation. (Little known fact about this house: it is a real giver. You can find practically anything you might need or want in its mysterious depths, and chicken-coop building supplies are no exception!) We gathered up a huge roll of chicken wire, a panel I’d built for a painting, some cinder blocks, posts from a dismantled loft-bed and a nice, big branch from the yard, perfect for roosting. About a half an hour later, Thomas and Liz arrived with more chicken wire, some feed and zip ties… and chickens. Two, sweet little hens peeked out from paper bags.

I had to leave for work shortly after the birds arrived, but my lovely house-mates undertook the task of completing the (temporary) coop, and I think they did a pretty fantastic job:

Plans are in the works for a proper coop with all of the modern amenities, but Frankie and Waffles seem perfectly happy with their temporary digs. We let them out in the yard to dig and eat bugs for as long as we can in the afternoons. Frankie’s laying an egg every day so far, and we hope that Waffles will soon follow her lead.

Welcome Frankie and Waffles and thank you SO MUCH to Liz and Thomas, for making my dream of one day owning chickens a reality! Next up: BEES! (Seriously – if anyone knows anything about bees, let’s chat!)

UPDATE:Waffles laid her first egg today! Way to go, girl!

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Sunday, July 25th!

This month’s SFIS meeting will be held on Sunday, July 25th! Yay! I’m very excited about the evening’s program which will include performances by Josh Clayton and Matt Ganucheau, as well as music by Phengren Oswald.

I still have room for artists, if anyone is interested in displaying work. 2d, 3d, video, or whatever else your heart’s fancy may be!

Also, I had this really great dream involving complete nuclear annihilation, space islands, and a race of test tube humans.

ALSO: Would anyone be interested in attending a talk by a member of MUFON? I’ve got an inside angle and might be able to arrange something.


Send me your address if you’d like to be added to the mailing list! Invites go out this week!

Free farmer’s market food will be provided!

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The Hacienda Must Be Built

It’s taken me a while to write this post. Firstly, I want to thank everyone who came to the first SFIS event on Sunday night. The response was mixed over the course of the evening and it’s given me a lot to think about in regards to future meetings. Overall, the feedback was positive and I hope to evolve the concept in order to make it adhere more closely to my original objectives.

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how best to respond to some of the negative feedback I received and I needed a few days to distance myself from my initial (over)reaction to it. There are a number of things I could say here but I’ve decided that this is a less-is-more kind of a situation. It suffices to say that the intention behind SFIS is to encourage intellectual and creative growth in a non-academic or exclusionary environment.

To that end, there are a lot of improvements that can be made. The only way SFIS will become what it has the potential to be is if participants (you folk!) are involved in furthering its evolution. I urge you to offer any suggestions you may have for how to make this thing work better.


Moving on: a July SFIS meeting is in the works! (Yay!) Details are a little fuzzy right now, but word on the street is that the brilliant Matt Ganucheau will be making an appearance. I am looking for artists who would like to participate, as well. Video, 2d, 3d, whatevs. You can contact me here if you’re interested. I’ll update everyone with a date as soon as humanly possible.

Thanks again for everything. You guys are lovely times a billion.

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