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January 3, 2012 / Wendy Joan

They Call Him “The Chicken”

Back in September, I brought home an eight week old kitten on a Saturday afternoon. That evening, I named him Othello, only because a Shakespearian name suited him well.

Sam liked the name fine, though calling Othello by it never came natural. Within his first week at the Agsar-Biddlecombe residence, Othello had a nickname. He looks like a tiny baby chicken, Sam would tease. Baby Chicken became The Chicken. In time, The Chicken became Chicken.

Tonight, all was well in the Agsar-Biddlecombe apartment. I was nursing the end of a cold, ate two ice cream bars and made an excellent soup. Sam came home early from work. The Beverly Hills housewives were getting along in Hawaii, and I decided to comb Othello and give him a flea treatment.

Ten minutes later, he was drooling all over the place. To say I panicked would be an understatement. Sam braved the kitten’s claws and tried to rinse off the flea medicine, while I called around to find an emergency clinic open at 10 at night. I couldn’t speak correctly, jumbling my words, losing my train of thought, maybe even stuttering a little. Before too long, I swaddled my twitching kitten in a fuzzy blanket, ready to face the coldest winter night in Florida this year.

At the clinic, Sam filled out the intake papers while I held Othello in my lap. I looked over and saw

Name: Chicken

Age: 6 months

Breed: Siamese Mix

Color: Seal Point

In many cultures older and wiser than ours, names aren’t given immediately at birth. Or, names are given later in life, when an event of true significance worthy of a new identity takes place.

Two hours, and $200 we didn’t have later, the kitten is sleeping peacefully in bed. From this day forward, he shall be known as Chicken.

December 31, 2011 / Wendy Joan

Hopes for a New Year

Sometime in the last week or so, an interesting little aphorism popped up on my Facebook timeline:

Don’t make resolutions. Resolutions don’t work. Create rituals. Rituals work.

I like the idea, but the word “ritual” isn’t quite right. It’s a little too empty, too religious, too going-through the motions, not enough in the present. For me, “routine” is much more fitting.

Create routines. Routines work.

I can dig that.

2011 started a bit rough, with exciting changes right around the corner. The dynamic of daily life changed for the better–going from eight hour days at a desk to mornings spent pedaling to school, afternoons in class and most evenings at yoga. I brought a kitten home, as well as my first “real” camera. Sam and I celebrated our fourth Christmas together. Our family and friends are healthy and happy.

My hopes for 2012? Live simply, and cultivate change. Start journaling again. Live moment-to-moment.

[Oh, and write a thesis/land a reporting job.]


Photo by Anders Adermark. Original words of wisdom by Peter Shankman.

December 19, 2011 / Wendy Joan

Meditation on Pickling

The jars are processing–10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Already, my mind and body and hands start something else.

Last night I gathered cucumbers and onion and mason jars and spices from three different stores. I left a bottle of cheap champagne on ice–prepping the pickles in lieu of attending a party. Thinking, and acting on the impulse to be quiet and alone.

Prep time was an hour of slicing thinly cucumbers and red peppers and Spanish onions. I take a break during the onions, since my eyes are on fire and these things can’t be rushed.

This morning, I follow the recipe my grandmother typed so many years ago (for friends, with love). The paper, aged with decades and smoke is made timeless with her handwritten notes. These corrections and helpful hints could have been written any 15 or 20 or 25 or more years ago.

Living in an age of instant gratification, I’m still surprised if I follow the recipe correctly, I’ll be rewarded with the correct results. 8-9 pints (9 pints), as predicted, with no cucumber or vinegar going unused.

December 13, 2011 / Wendy Joan

Name That Chili Pepper


November 22, 2011 / Wendy Joan

Something is Rotten in the State of Florida

This post is not a post about not posting, though I do apologize for the delay.

This post, rather, is about a phenomenon of the upmost importance. Something that has been happening the past three years I’ve called the Gulf Coast of Florida my home.


It sounds pathetic, but it’s true. And happened way too many times not to notice.

Here’s the backstory: I’m from the Buffalo by way of New York City. That should be enough information you need to know why my family and friends turn up in the general vicinity around the winter months.

Perhaps it’s because I live approximately 95 miles from the happiest place on earth. (Which is another argument entirely … why, as a consenting adult, would you spend your hard earned money so irresponsibly? Go see a new country, for Buddha’s sake. Re-living your childhood is not only disappointing, but creepy. And unnecessarily expensive.)

I’m not going to name names, but in the past three years, I’ve driven two and a half hours each way on a Sunday for a brief visit with a parental, missed best friend by an hour and a half drive more than once, carted other unnamed persons here there and everywhere. Peeked at photos taken of friends in my near-backyard.

And you know what? No one has asked if they can visit me. Because they’re on vacation, and I’m at work or school. Or at the beach. Because I live near the beaches everyone wants to vacation on. In the city that holds the Guinness World Record  for consecutive days of sunshine. 768! 768 days of sunshine in a row!

I call bullshit.

And I make an early resolution for 2012: Im staying put. You can find me in sunny St. Pete.

(Photo by ferret111)

September 25, 2011 / Wendy Joan

Saturday afternoon in St. Pete, between the rains

August 29, 2011 / Wendy Joan

Trying New Things (Part Deux)

Although sailing was a bust, I’m happy to report I’ve been trying new things this summer. I’ve taken up running, held an (unloaded) gun for the first time and took an odd job at a pawn shop that I am oh-so-fond of. Oh, and I got in front of the camera.

Which is a little scary if you’re used to asking the questions. Like, shaking hands, two Appleton Estate-on-the-rocks scary.

Many of you might remember my adventures in video storytelling from earlier this year. A couple of Sundays ago, I had the pleasure of working in front of the camera with my video partner Andrea Lypka, and her very talented colleague Dennis Ramos.

Do you live in the Tampa Bay area? Need your portrait done? Hit them up, they’ll make you look good (contact links above). I hear they even do weddings.