Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


A Chicken Enters A Kitchen…


chickens, writing distractions, writing

Kate Burn Photography

There are many. I sit down to write, and …

a chicken scratches at the door. (That’s Ray Bradbury, the Barred Plymouth Rock chicken.)

a zucchini calls out for me to go pick it and cook it up for dinner. (I swear, my garden veggies do this. Don’t yours?)

a book flies open in the wind, beckoning for me to read it. (There are NEVER enough hours in the day when it comes to reading time.)

chickens, writing, distractions

Kate Burn Photography

Tonight I will master these. I will write. I will write a word… then a sentence… then a paragraph… and eventually, well, I’ll have another novel to try to publish. Send me concentration vibes. I just might need them.

writing, chickens, distractions

Kate Burn Photography

Love, Lou


Grow, Lou

For my birthday I gave myself something I have been wanting for years. Years.

I hinted at this in this post, and have had a few people ask me what my gift to myself said. Well, here you go.

I have a slight obsession with tattoos. (YES, I SAID TATTOO!) I love them. I ask people about them… I always want to know the story behind a tattoo. Sometimes the story is simply,

“Oh, this was a mistake.”

“Drunk night.”

“An ex.”

“I was bored.”

That, in and of itself, is a story. The tattoo reminds its owner of the time and place where it was painfully inked into their skin. The tattoo cannot be erased. (Unless you’re super rich and get that laser removal. But I’m talking regular folks, here.)

SO! After years of wanting a tattoo, admiring the tattoos on others and accumulating my future list of tattoo ideas, I finally got one.

And it was spur of the moment. Just like this. And this. If I get an idea, I usually go with it.

So on July 30th, the day before I turned 24, I decided to get a tattoo. When I woke up that day I had no intention, by the way. I wound up going to the tattoo parlor by myself, while those closest to me were at work or otherwise engaged, and I sat alone while the guy with the huge beard inked my arm. It hurt, but not nearly as bad as I expected.

Greg said that this year (of my age, 23) was a year of growing. I couldn’t have agreed more. It was a year when I grew as a person, “grew” some baby chicks, grew some plants, and we most certainly grew as a couple. In fact, I had no idea such changes were in store for me. 23 was one wild ride of an age. However, I was ready for it to be over. I was ready to be 24.

tattoo, birthday, marriage, growing together

And then Greg said it. He said, “Grow, Lou.” It meant so much. It was his message to me. A message that won’t ever change, because as human beings and as a married couple, we will always continue to grow. We will always change and pursue our goals and learn…. I will always be growing. I’ll be growing older, (hopefully) wiser, (hopefully) more carefree and funny… I want to continue to let life change me.tattoos, growing, marriage

My tattoo is in Greg’s handwriting. It’s really nice for a guy, isn’t it? My sisters were afraid for me when I said, “Yeah! And it’s in Greg’s handwriting!” Then they were relieved when they saw it. He has better penmanship than me.

I had it placed in a spot where I can see it every day. It’s facing me so I can read it. I can hear Greg saying, “Grow, Lou,” in the most sincere voice… having already loved each stage of my life, the good and the bad. I already know that whatever I grow up to do or be, Greg will still be telling me the same thing.

And it’s what I want to tell you all, too.

Wake up and do something spontaneous. Get a tattoo! Cut your hair! Write a book! Break up with that jerk! Tell that lady at the coffee shop how much you’ve LOVED her all these years….. do something. For goodness sake….


And don’t wait for someone else to water you. (Okay, that was cheesy.) (But true.)



Wake Up Time: 4:45

That’s AM folks.

I don’t necessarily have to wake up that early. I could scrape by with waking up around 5:50, rushing around, and being out the door by 6:10.

But I love my morning routine. LOVE it. So therefore, I have been going to bed around 9:30 or 10.

BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT REAL FARMERS DO!! Guess what? I am trying to become a real farmer. That’s what this new internship is all about. 

However, this post is mostly just about how early I’ve been waking up. Can I tell you a secret? I love it. There’s something special and wonderful about being up before the first crack of dawn. I love driving to work when the sunrise begins and watching it complete itself once I am there. I love the crisp morning air that requires an extra layer of clothing. I recently figured out how to make coffee (almost) as well as Greg does, so that’s good too. Great guy, woke up with me one time last week and fell back asleep after I left. I am not that crazy of a wife that I’d make him wake up at 4:45 every day. That’s my prerogative right now, not his.

When a person wakes up that early, the world is at his or her fingertips. I mean, I have never been so productive. I already looked at my favorite blogs, I already spent time watching the youtube video of Miley Cyrus and her awful, I repeat, awful, performance. Since I don’t have a TV, I only knew about her craziness via facebook. I guess I could say some time is wasted if you wake up so early in the morning. My time was definitely wasted, but then I stopped wasting it as soon as Robin Thicke appeared on stage and I hit the X button. BOO. I had my first real feminist moment when I watched his music video for Blurred Lines and saw boobs all over the place. Please.

When I first went to bed at 9:30 it felt so weird. Because I LITERALLY (Amanda!) had not gone to bed that early in years. I’m more of a midnight to 1AM type person… I drink coffee around 8 PM… I stay up writing/reading. Here I am, finishing books before work. Typing up a blog before work. It’s a new thing.

Just an update on what I’m reading:


And I am loving it. It’s great. Nice and depressing, just the way a good book should be. I fell in love with Wally Lamb when I read I Know This Much Is True about the twin brothers. You should definitely read some Lamb sometime soon. It’s of the life changing variety.

Also, another update:

I will be posting a vlog soon. Partly because I loved The Lady Okie’s vlog so much. Partly because she tagged me in her vlog post and now I feel some pressure. And partly because I am up for the challenge! I hate my voice when it’s on any sort of recording, but I’ll look past it. I will probably take you around the backyard to meet the chickens. Who knows.

Good morning, everyone. Hope you have a wonderful day!


Lou, The Early Riser


7 Reasons Why I Smile

In lieu (lou?) of what The Lady Okie wrote about today regarding one’s lot in life, I decided to make a list of things that make me smile. A LOT.

I’ve had my moments where it felt tough to smile. Just like Amanda (The Lady Okie), I, too, have been jealous of others, wanted what others had, and failed to recognize that ultimately, I am a blessed person. In fact, if I really think about it… I am far too blessed. Reading her blog made me realize that. And just like most of life’s little blessings and messages, it came at the perfect time.  I don’t deserve an ounce of this happiness but guess what? I have it anyway. I couldn’t be more thankful.

It’s a simple list.

It won’t include:



-anything you can buy with $$$

But it will include a lot of good ol fashioned happiness.

Here goes!

1) I have a husband who loves me for me.

We’re been together going on 7 years. We’ve been married 3.5 years. And he is still with me. I’ve been stubborn, messy, gross, laughed too much at my own jokes, selfish, smelly (uh…), emotional, worrisome, foolish…. and that list is never ending. Yet Greg has loved me for every imperfect moment. He never gave up on me. He makes me smile every day and tells me he loves me. He teaches me to be a better person. And most importantly, he is hilarious.  (Also, we may or may not both have consumed alcohol before the picture below. There’s just something in our eyes… but HEY it was vacation.)

lou and lou

2) I promised Greg that I would never, ever, ask him to get a job anyplace where he has to wear a tie.

(And guess what? That means I don’t have to, either! ha) Some people thrive in ties. They’re comfortable, they make money, they enjoy what they do, and they don’t mind (or even love) to get dressed all spic and span for work. Guess who is the opposite? Back when Greg worked at a bank for a few months, we found out just how that sort of “business” work attire affected us both. I hated, I REPEAT, HATED, dressing in “professional attire” for student teaching. Greg hated doing the same for his job. So what did we do? We switched gears. We took some risks. We changed our paths… together… and are now more satisfied with what we call work.

Christmas, 2011

Christmas, 2011

3) I get to read the comics.

Yes, they make me laugh out loud. Yes, my father-in-law saves them for me so I can catch up when we’re at their house…. And YES, F-Minus is my very favorite comic. Those writers know what they’re doing. (I thought, since the comics are in the paper, it would be cool to use the sketch edit icon on my free picture editing system. Hoooooray for that.)

thanks Frank

thanks Frank

4) I have five chickens.

And I’ll never tire of writing/blogging/talking about them. Some people have dogs. Some have cats. I have chickens.

chickens, happiness, marriageAnd a smattering of pictures of them. To show off at my ten year reunion.

Kate Burn Photography

Kate Burn Photography


5) I have a new internship at a farm.

An organic farm. A place where I get to wear boots, non-skinny jeans, plaid button up shirts, hats that make me look like a boy, zero makeup and zero tie (or the girl equivalent… high heels.)

No picture yet. I just started today!! AND IT WAS AWESOME. I helped harvest crops, roast green chile, and get some pigs some milk from a local dairy. How cool is that?

6) I have a passion for a few things:


Fighting GMOs and the current food system…and the animals who are captured in the current food system

Supporting organic food and local farms



and I get to do all of those things every single day. 

Yup. That’s right. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Because I love my family and friends and I want them to live as long as possible. Because I love sharing my ideas, whether fiction or non-fiction. Because I believe that we all have a vote… when we buy our groceries and when we put food in our mouths. Because reading defines who I am. Because I believe that laughter can cure any and almost every thing. Because what we’re passionate about should be a daily act.

7) And best of all, I have an awesome family. 

My parents have showed me real love. They’re one of the happiest couples I know. They never cease to amaze me. And guess what? They have never pressured me to do anything for money. They have always encouraged me to follow my dreams. I owe them BIG for that.

family, chickens, happiness, marriage

I have two nephews, Carson and Landon, who I couldn’t love more. They are growing up to be the sweetest boys who give me BIG HUGS AND KISSES and SHARE and say KIND THINGS to people. Emily and Brian have really paved the way as far a parenting :)


Landon’s birthday…


And um…. what 4 year old poses like this… ON HIS OWN??? My amazing nephew, Carson, that’s who!!

cochrans 3

And my sisters have always had me laughing. That’s one thing I love best about having sisters (along with watching Little Woman and crying the entire time…)

This is us, 6+ years ago. (WOW!) (I was 18, okay? I think teenagers are still allowed to do the stupid duck face.)

family 4

This is us not so long ago… and still laughing. Thanks mostly to Meredith’s random moments of hilarity that make our abs hurt.

family 3

(it’s a balloon…..)

So think about what makes you truly happy. COUNT your blessings rather than counting what others have been blessed with.

And have a lovely evening!

Love, Lou


Stone Chamber Prisoner Goblet Order Prince Hallows

If you understand the title of this blog, we could definitely be friends!

The great thing about having a super busy life, along with a super busy family, is that birthdays can be celebrated three weeks late. We finally got the clan together for our birthday dinner and it was a blast. I was given some of the coolest presents ever. They mostly revolved around reading or my current farmer/gardener lifestyle.

harry potter, birthdays, farming, reading

Meredith and Melinda <3

Sometimes simple is best, too. I would take an organic pb cup any day. (Thanks, Jess!)

harry potter, birthdays, twins, reading, farming


The coolest gift, possibly ever. (Thanks, Em!)

harry potter, birthdays, twins, farming, reading

Harry Potter For Life

And these books .The Yellow Wallpaper is one of my all time favorite short stories! (Thanks, Alex!)

the yellow wallpaper, harry potter,

Got some readin’ to do!

My parents are always great at giving me old vintage gifts, either from a grandparent’s house (priceless!) or from an antique shop. My mom has a gift when it comes to such things. The best, most useful gift I could have been given was from them.

chickens, harry potter, birthday, twin, reading, farming

An EGG basket!! The chickens will love it!

The time spent, the wonderful food that was made, and the fact that I had another chance to celebrate with my twin sister made this one of the best post-birthday dinners ever!

And if you see me around, don’t be surprised if I’m wearing this.

harry potter, birthdas, tw

might never take it off

(Can you spot my other birthday present? It’s on my arm. And it was my gift to myself. ….. <3)

Love, Lou



The ONLY Good Thing About Cold Weather

If you’re from New Mexico then you know what I’m about to say. What sparks the first moment of fall in our hearts? What allows us to think, “Hey, a little chill in the air wouldn’t be so bad?”

That’s right.

green chile, fall in new mexico, friends, writing

oh yeah baby

You buy a giant bag of freshly roasted green chile. You peel them when they’re still warm. You make yourself absolutely sick by eating too much cheese, grilled tortillas and corn, green chile, and by drinking too much (gf!) beer. Yes, this just happened. The stomach ache was worth it.

green chile, new mexico fall, writing, friends


friends, green chile, peeling, new mexico fall, friends


green chile, fall in new mexico, friends

corn grilling, check. lots to eat, check. sunset, check. friends, check. beer, check. life is good.

And this, my friends, is the only good thing about cold weather. I would take a good sweaty day, dreaded heat wave, sticky neck…. over being cold. Being too hot doesn’t hurt my bones. It doesn’t make me feel helpless. I never dread opening the door to step outside.

At least there’s green chile and friends.

Oh! And lots of other cool things to do at my house. Liiiiiiiiiiiiike


The harvest is here, folks. We’ve had too much food to eat. That’s a great thing to say. When we had to come up with an idea of how to store the food in a tasty way, I realized I had an excellent problem.

green chile in new mexico, fall, friends, writing


fall, friends, green chile, peeling green chile, new mexico


green chile, new mexico, harvest


I can hear Johnny Cash in my head.


And what should you do with excess beans, cucumbers, watermelon rinds, tomatoes, okra, etc?

You can them.

I wish I had pictures of the canning process, but 1) it was too late 2) we were too afraid of the giant pot from hell exploding in the middle of our kitchen and 3) most of the process took both our hands. Maybe once we’re so good at it we don’t need to read the directions (past midnight) every two seconds, I’ll take pictures of the process. For now, I’ll just show you what we wound up with.

green chile, pickling, new mexico


So with summer drawing to a close, with pain in my heart, I am slightly uplifted because of the canning/pickling we’ve done, the green chile we have to eat, the friends we have to eat it with, and the promise of a cool night with the chiminea lit up in front of us.

chiminea, fall in new mexico, green chile

last year, FREEZING, warming up by the chiminea <3

Another thing giving me hope is my other friends. I have them, now, too!

green chile, new mexico fall, chickens

ahhhh, gotta love it

Love, Lou!!!


Why Don’t You

poetry, writing, farming, chickens, melinda

Kate Burn Photography

When you get a chance

Just let me know when

Just let me know when

And I’ll come for you

I’ll listen

At any distance

Let down the resistance


I’m right here

     Like this

Like this, too

Not the memory or the song

Not the trying to get along


Patience is my name

What else could I do?

But wait

For the calm in my heart

For the time spent apart


The sacred hours, dark

The light I never wanted to come

It came… it rose…like that

Too soon

Too fast

To last


In Dubious Battle

Steinbeck could easily be my favorite author. I’ve read Grapes of Wrath three times and have plans to read it again. My favorite short story of ALL TIME is written by him and called Johnny Bear (just google it and you can probably find a copy to read.)

JS is amazing. I can’t get over the way he captures human nature the way no other author has been able to do. He gets inside the brain of mankind and he doesn’t leave any of it out. He has a point, a message, but he rarely rants about one thing without giving “devil’s advocate” a say. How can we hate the man who’s plowing down our house? He has a family, too. Blame the bank, blame the system, the government… it’s all men, but it’s beyond men. Hate doesn’t exactly have a say when it comes to society treating some well and some poorly.

In Dubious Battle was once described to me as an intense, in-your-face, punch in the gut version of Grapes of Wrath. I’d have to say I completely agree. “Read it, Melinda, and you’ll love it,” I was told. And so I read it.

I don’t know as much as some, but I have reason to believe that the union isn’t what it once was. I’ve seen unions do things that aren’t helpful. My own husband works at Whole Foods, where there is no union, but they treat their employees SO WELL because of it. They don’t need a union. If I were to have ideals about the working man getting his due (which I DO!), I’d have to say that’s the Old Union. People with Shame On posters drive me up the wall.


In true John Steinbeck fashion, this book has paragraphs that I read over and over again. Not because I didn’t understand it, but because I wanted the words to soak up into me and become part of who I am. I want to remember the words. I want to repeat them, think of them, and learn more about myself in the process.

in dubious battle, book review, john steinbeck, reading, unionIn Dubious Battle is about a man, Mac, who is a member of the Party (which party, however, is never specified), and becomes the [hidden] leader of a fruit picking strike. Jim joins Mac, and in doing so, becomes more like Mac than Mac, himself.

Before Jim joins the party:

Jim looked evenly at him. “Do you ever work at a job where, when you got enough skill to get a raise in pay, you were fired and a new man put in? Did you ever work in a place where they talked about loyalty to the firm, and loyalty meant spying on the people around you? Hell, I’ve got nothing to lose.”

“Nothing except hatred,” Harry said quietly. “You’re going to be surprised when you see that you stop hating people. I don’t know why it is, but that’s what usually happens.”


“…You can’t make a general rule of it, because sometimes it flops, but mostly a guy that tries to scare you is a guy that can be scared.”

“Do you know that ten men can lift nearly twelve times as big a load as one man can?”

“Jim, I wish I knew it. But in my little experience the end is never very different in its nature from the means. Damn it, Jim, you can only build a violent thing with violence.”

John constantly pulls me in with his words. They’re beautiful. Simple and pure and lovely.

The candle and the dawn fought each other so that together they seemed to make less light than either would have made alone.

The air was full of their apathy, and full of their discontent.

Mac, who is such a leader, teaches Jim that in order to win this strike, he can’t think of individual men. If one barn has to be burned, then so be it. It’ll be better in the end. If Mac has to make some kid’s nose bleed to prove a point, it’s not about the kid, it’s about the strike and the small steps toward progress. “Making a billboard, not a corpse,” as he puts it.

I don’t think that violence is ever a good thing. I think human beings need to defend themselves and stand up for what they believe in. I truly believe that men, like the men that John Steinbeck writes, are hard to find these days. I’ve only met a few in my time.

No matter your political party, whether you are in a union or not, or whether you come from the bank side of things, or the farm, reading any John Steinbeck novel is a good dose of reality for you. We can’t forget the wars of dignity that have raged on. We cannot let the government take over our food the way they did during Steinbeck’s time. I think, if he could write a book about it, he’d write about Monsanto and GMOs and the way that people are being poisoned by their own government. He’d possibly point out that our basic needs were being controlled. I can just hear him saying:

They’re makin’ the people sick. They are. And you know what’ll happen next? People’ll have to go to the hospitals. But they can’t afford no hospitals. Then, guess what? They owe the bank. They owe the bank because of what they fed him. Made ‘im sick, then fed him more poison while he was there. A man has a right to grow his own crop and not get sued. A man’s got a right to feed his family somethin’ real.

Those words will never be JS’s words, but I hear them all the same.

Love, Lou