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By Becky Reno

Everybody knows a chicken ain’t nothin’ without her sexy bitches, right?

Enter the three little letters that equal summer to me. C.S.A.

It stands for community supported agriculture and it’s basically like buying a tiny share of a farm, and getting a weekly payout from June through October.

I feel good about supporting local, and I’m generally a freak about not wanting to waste food so it ensures I eat healthy for at least half the year.

Interested? Go here and search for one in your area. It might be too far into the harvest year for some, but you can always get acquainted with them for next summer.

Some tips- talk to people who have used that CSA in the past. Not all CSAs are created equal and if you’re not careful you could end up with a summer full of radishes. Also, make sure the pick up location is convenient. You might not mind that 30 minute drive for a week or two, but you want to look forward to picking up that bag full of goodies, not dread it. Finally, start collecting recipes or following blogs that cook with fruits and veggies often. (This one is great, as is this one.) Nothing is worse than staring at a drawer full of turnips and having no idea what to do with them. (Here’s one answer, by the way).

Do you CSA or farmers’ market often? (yep, I’m making them a verb). Feel free to add additional recipes or websites in the comments. I’m always looking for a creative way to use up my weekly bounty.

By Jill Greenwood

So . . . where are you road tripping this summer? I’m road tripping to the same place I’ve been since I was 14: Springfield. Look at an almanac, and you’ll find about 30 Springfields throughout the United States, but there is only one that I call home: Springfield, Ohio. I moved to this Springfield when I was in the 8th grade. I didn’t want to, but my father’s job transferred positions, and we moved to Springfield. It was pretty much the way that my life went when I was in the middle school. Growing up, I didn’t know any different other than Springfield  and Young’s Ice Cream and Schuler’s Donuts and cruising High Street on a summer’s evening in July.

And every summer, the girls – my Jordan and Shelby – have gone back to Springfield (and Cambridge, Ohio) to visit their grandparents. Only recently have I been able to travel with them as I did this summer. Here is our official road trip from the summer:

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What images scream “road trip” in your mind? I’ll bet I’m not the only one who thinks of a turnpike whenever they hear that word. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give 100% credit for the photos to my daughter, Shelby, for the images since she was more than happy to take the photos while I drove. Thanks, sweetie!

yep this girl right here!

dang. sorry. ok regroup.

i could blame it on the 4th of july and all the beers i consumed, but well that would be a lie. actually i had exactly 2 cans of PBR in the fridge of which i drank none.   soooooo i have no new photos to share with you, and i am literally throwing this together as i type, (what you thought we planned this stuff?!)  but i do have a definite opinion on summer.  seems we have 2 camps brewing here at o+u . erika firmly, and sweatily, planted in the haters camp, and then tiffani in the lovers camp.  i have to say i am team tiffani on this one. (sorry erika) although i have a body by ben & jerry’s, not hooping.  i own zero bikinis (BAMkinis) and know no one with a boat in which to jump off of (damn that tiffani!). i digress. summer.  oh sweet summertime. i live in the land of the cold. seriously i joke, but it is true.  i was not born or raised here. my blood will never ever thicken enough. we have 6 months of winter a week or 2 of spring, yeah our autumns are gorgeous, but fleeting and chilly because winter is breaking down the door like a mad hungry bear….  so summer we savor.  it is our reward for surviving another winter, for shoveling our roof (yeah that actually happens), for not seeing the ground below our feet from nov/dec til april. that messes with your mind people!  just ask joelynne. i know she will back me up on this one.  it’s just not right.  snow should melt in between storms,  not form an iceberg.  so you see, i could never ever shun summer, no matter how sweaty i may get. summer i wear as little as possible, i get to run around barefoot all the time, my hair/skin/life just looks and FEELS better in summer. i don’t wear enough sunscreen, i don’t own a pair of sunglasses, i soak up all the uv rays and vit D i can get my greedy little hands on, because come february i will be crying in my chicken and dumplings how winter beat me down… again.   my feet will no longer be bare, but buried. noooooo!!!!!!  (take me to the kittens!)  😉
pola(r) feet

i was always this way, i grew up around a pool.  my childhood memories are few, but my best ones are of summers at the local pool. (mohnton swim team PROPS!) 🙂  i would leave my house right after breakfast and walk up the hill to our town pool for swim practice. i was 7. i would dive into that freaking cold ass spring fed swimming pool happily. i would stay in that chlorinated oasis til dinner.  my fingers so wrinkled from the water they were beyond puckered. my toes worn raw from the rough concrete finish on the bottom of the pool. my hair a nice shade of yellowish-green and dry as straw from the sun and chlorine. so tan. SO tan. i had crushes on all the older lifeguards. i ate lunches that consisted of a rectangular piece of frozen pizza heated in a toaster oven at the pool refreshment stand and every once in a while, a brown paper bag of penny fish. after dinner i would walk back up for swim meets and i would swim my little heart out. crash into bed completely wiped out, sunburned, and happy.  totally 100% happy. i’d wake the next day and do it all over again. no parents. no rules. no real trouble either. they knew where i was. i never left. it was my home away from home every summer day. so you see, my love goes DEEP. eventually i grew boobs, became FAR less streamline, and left my swim team days behind, but they live on in my heart… and on film.
water rat ~ memory lane

another thing i LOVE about summer is i like the mom i become in summer. the kids lounge around in their underpants all.day.long.  this is encouraged. they have super cute summery skin, and who can resist little one’s underpants? not me that’s who. plus an unexpected bonus, less laundry! we eat popsicles for lunch. we have recently discussed the benefits of ice cream for dinner. there is no place to be, or get to, or be late for. i am not nagging about brushing teeth and hurrying up or they will be late for school!!!! no.homework. who knows when they last took a real shower. our days are ours and we fill them (or don’t) any which way we choose. what is not to love about that?

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” ~ Sam Keen  i’d say we are highly respectable then.

erika was looking for reasons to love summer, i have a few: ice cream in a sugar cone. the smell of my kids’ hair, that intoxicating blend of sweat/salt/sunshine/and fresh air.  tired children, the good worn out fall into bed happy kind of tired. less cooking, it’s hot that’s why. homegrown tomatoes right off the vine, quartered and sprinkled with salt & pepper, just like my pop-pop taught me.  and lastly, a cold, COLD, beer. when you are hot, nothing tastes better than a really cold beer.  ice cream is nice, but a frosty beer hits the spot.cheers to your weekend.

CHEERS!

i collect stuff. i think it may be an addiction. pyrex, vintage sheets, now vinyl.  some to play, and some to play with…  the 50 cent bin at goodwill is no longer left untouched.  there might be a gem in there just waiting to be found. seriously, have you ever seen this one, herb alpert’s tijuana brass : whipped cream & other delights. BRILLIANT! they just don’t make em like that anymore.

HC 4

HC 1“I wish I had as much in bed as I get in the newspapers.” –Linda Ronstadt (don’t we all)

HC 5

HC 7“Misfits aren’t misfits among other misfits.”– Barry Manilow   (so fits our group here at o+u!)

HC 3

HC 2
“The best music is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.” -Bruce Springsteen

amen bruce.

A. men.

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so go on, find your local thrift store, yard sale, or dad’s attic and pull out a gem of your own and have some fun.  i dare ya to buy some shaving cream and try a headcover of that tijuana brass album.  i double dog dare ya.

Music has always been a part of us. Before kids, when it was just me and Brant, we went to shows every weekend. The Other Paper sat on our coffee table with the line up of who we were going to see. My memories are walking out of Oldfield’s holding hands giggling and then heading to Taco Bell. And when we weren’t going to shows Brant was playing music in our house. There were late night jams on our backporch with friends or Brant was out playing with his band.

And then came kids. And going to shows every weekend came to a screeching hault. And I miss that part of us. We will see a festival pop up and throw down the line up exclaiming we are “old”!! We don’t know any of these bands anymore. And when Brant goes out to play I can’t find a babysitter or forget to.

But then there are new memories made. The first time we brought our daughter home. Brant played to her as she laid in our bed. Watching our kids dance on the end of the guitar as he played before they could even walk. They will grow up with music in their home. When Brant brings out his guitar Falon comes running with her tutu. She points out when she hears a banjo on the radio.

So the shows aren’t what they used to be. But I am enjoying these even more.

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By Becky Reno

This idea of deviate is a bit tricky, isn’t it?

To even mention deviance is to acknowledge the existence of some sort of “normal,” which I think is a myth. Unlike unicorns, and fairies, and jackalopes (which I just found out aren’t real, and am still pissed about, by the way), this myth is an asshole. This myth pits us against each other, and stirs up insecurities that should never exist in the first place. It obscures the reality that we all have far more commonalities than we do differences. That’s not to say that there are not differences though, in fact, just the opposite. We’re vastly different on a whole range of things, and those differences are precisely where the magic lives.

There’s a scene towards the beginning of Amélie where the stunningly brilliant Audrey Tautou describes people’s idiosyncrasies. (Naturally she does so in French, which makes them sound like the most amazing things in the world, so if someone could translate mine I would feel far more sophisticated (especially the mustard one).)

The funny thing about these little nuances, sometimes they’re so ingrained, so natural, they’re invisible. That’s the thing about our individuality- one woman’s normal is another woman’s deviate. Here is a list of some of the ways that I stray from the norm.

  • My dining room table is at most six steps away from my kitchen. Despite this, at least 90% of our meals are eaten on the floor.* To class it up we call it a picnic.

  • I rarely, if ever, close a cabinet door. This is also true of dresser drawers. This might be true of doors in our house, but we don’t really have any.**
  • I still hold my breath while I drive past a cemetery.***

  • When I put away mustard with a twist top- I lick it first.
  • When I see animals, I assume I’m getting some kind of message. I bought my house because of owls. These are two of the owls below, in fact. I had my son because of cardinals. Right now it’s dead birds.**** I’ll let you know what I figure out. And yes, predictably I did take a lot of Native American spirituality classes in college.

I’m sure I have so many more, but I don’t know they’re deviant until someone points them out. Help me out here, I’m not the only one, right? What are some of your little quirks?

*ON the floor, not off the floor. We use plates. Give me a little bit of credit.

**My husband thinks not closing doors/drawers is a thing. I think this is definitely NOT a thing unless that thing is laziness.

*** Except when I took this picture. I had to breathe, or I’d be joining them. Shit, I’m just realizing I’m probably full of spirits now.

****Not in a SARS kind of way. More like a “natural causes” way. Currently there’s a bird nest on my front porch. I’m expecting a macabre scene there any day. Hmm…putting these last two bullets next to each other is now making me link spirits and dead birds. I don’t suppose exorcism is anyone’s quirky little thing is it?

i have always loved the ‘freaks’, the deviants, the rule breakers. in high school it was the skaters with their shaved heads and mile high mohawks, shredded fish nets and knee-high doc martens… i pined to be one of them.  me the pleaser, the cheerleader. i secretly longed to be weird, different, edgier. it never happened. closest i ever got to deviant behavior was my tattoos. oh and that time i got my nose pierced but then took it out because it never healed right.  yeah livin’ on the edge people, that’s me.   i did eventually wear docs,  just not the knee-high ones,  my deviancy had its limits.  at age 40 i still love the freaks. i love to walk the streets and seek them out in my lens.
fire lucky for me i live near a fairly progressive hip little city.  we have street fairs, which bring out all the street artists and street kids.  I LOVE THEM. I can’t look away.  I stalk them. pathetic. truly. now that spring is finally here there is sure to be more people and more skin.  more skin  = more tattoos.  win win in my book.squeezeboxtattoos, piercings, pink purple green dreads, yes please! boots and fish nets, leather and lace, dreamy!  i love shooting these mysterious strangers that seem to live life on the fringe. i imagine they hang out and read poetry, draw in journals, and play the ukulele at 4am. they live in cool flats with funky thrifted furniture with graffiti all over their walls that they change whenever they feel like it.  they hang out in subways and art galleries. this is normal right?  me, the mom, daydreaming of the lives of these cool kids.  don’t answer that.
east cackalacky

i guess a small part of me still longs to be in the club.  i wonder what they think, mild middle-aged mom me, taking their photo.  do they wish i would go away?  or can they see my secret longing in my eyes. that rebel in me that never saw the light of day.  i hope so,  because each time i focus my lens on them,  i am loving them in all their quirkiness.  i should have been crazier bolder darker weirder….  i should have gotten that mohawk at 16,  played the musical saw in a garage band named “hose water”… opportunities lost i guess.  my wasted youth.  😉

yesterday i took my wanna-be deviant self and some cans of paint to a legal graffiti wall. yes legal, allowed, not very deviant when i put it that way.  oh well, even legal it felt slightly naughty.  for a few fleeting moments i got in touch with my inner bad girl. maybe i need to re-pierce my nose or work on that sleeve i’ve always wanted….  or maybe i should just go buy some more spray paint.deviant me

I was recently asked by my cousin to take engagement pictures of her and her boyfriend. Although I had never taken pictures of adults I didn’t hesitate in saying yes, she is my family so how hard would it be. Well….let me start out by saying the day it came, I started sweating. I had done my homework and of trying to get inspired by looking at pictures of pretty, happy people smiling and showing lots of pda.

I drove with them to their chosen location and as we arrived I really started to panic. I usually like to check out the place before I shoot somewhere and figure out where I want to spend most of my time. We walked around and I had them sit there and as I raised my arms to start taking pictures I realized I was shaking. My camera felt foreign and two people were waiting for me to tell them what to do. Uh…why don’t you…put your head on his shoulder…yea uh…and put your arm there..and put your leg on his , wait actually don’t do that. My mouth was dry and my voice was shaking. I think about poses I had seen and how they were draped all over each other. Let’s keep walking I say.

I seriously wanted to book it into the woods. I was panicking-had I lost it all? Why did this camera feel so weird in my hands?
So a little background, usually I am a very kid centric person. Kids are my thing-I love chasing them around and capturing them and only them. Adults, not so much. Unless they are with their children of course.

So I started out getting pictures like these which makes me think of a picture you get in a frame. My eyes literally bulged out of my head when I saw this picture. Which is fine and great for the grandparents but soo not me.

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So here is my question-do you think you have to specialize in something? Has anyone had an experience like this? I look at websites and people have categories a mile long-weddings and babies and maternity and commercial. I now have SUCH an appreciation for people that can photograph couples. They make is look so easy!
I did end up finding my groove and this one was one of my favorites..

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when i was 15 years old i came home from school with my very first “real job”.  My teen years were spent on top of a hill , in the middle of a christmas tree farm, on a long windy rural road, so a job off that hill and in town seemed so cool.  i came home with my trainee badge and polyester uniform in hand all excited. i was going to work at a restaurant, Friendly’s, the ice cream and burger place. you know the one right?  my mom laughed and said i would last a week.  she could NOT imagine me, the teenager, serving the masses.  surely i would drop a sundae on someone, or worse, coffee! ( i have done both.) she didn’t think i would have the patience or the chutzpah to stick with it. this is what she said, but what i didn’t know at the time, was what she really meant was that SHE couldn’t do that job. (she fully admits this) waiting on others IS hard. people can be mean and rude. you have to have some thick skin, but i was determined, so i went, and i worked, and i was good at it.  really really good at it!  i got to be social, i do have the gift of gab. lots of my peers worked there, so it was like an extended after-school party every night. i came home with pockets full of cash.  seriously. i would empty out my tips on the kitchen counter and my mom was shocked.  that was it, i was HOOKED! and so i worked my high school years out at that job.

fast forward: i went to college, i left college, moved to FL, back to the restaurant business, met a boy, had a girl, moved back to PA with my girl, not that boy, single mom, back in the restaurant business again.  phew! did you get all that?  now i was 21 years old, a single mother (hello work!), enter TGIFridays. This became my home, and my second family, for most of my 20’s.  granted, it was the most dysfunctional, crazy ass, insane, derelict family, but it WAS family. we worked long hours, 14 hour shifts some days, late into the night (or technically, the wee hours of the morning). we sweated, yelled, cried, laughed, danced, got crazy, slept together, fought, ate, drank, cooked, served, cleaned up and did it all over again the next day. (soap opera? yes there was always drama. Anthony Bourdain was not lying in,”Kitchen Confidential”, it truly is a sub-culture.) we had our own language, we said words like chits, otle, dub dub, expo, in the weeds, and adding on a ho, and that all made perfect sense to us. we had our own inside jokes about the bacon stretcher and napkin press.  i got a nickname, “bubbles”. the names read like the cast of characters that we were: bubbles  and trouble, hustler, doug e fresh, smiley, crazy craig, chalmers, bergman, the perez brothers, tommy the barber, fonze aka zucchini boy, and crazy karen just to name a few. our managers were no better, and some were no older. a large group of co-workers even lived together in an apartment affectionately coined “the orphanage”. we worked HARD. we had FUN. after 6 months as a ‘dub’,  i got promoted to the bar and became something i don’t think i could have ever imagined. (ever see the movie “Cocktail?” does hippy hippy shake ring a bell?  you know, back when Tom Cruise was hot, not weird.) That movie is based on TGIFridays.  they even wear red and white stripes in part of that movie. i became the female Tom. I threw real glass bottles of alcohol all around my head. (and broke a few on the rails) i could flip an ice-cube into a glass with marksman like precision. i threw and caught full pints of beer. i played games like the whipped cream trick. i wore a vest in which i would nest a tin drink shaker, then i would flip the bottles,  pour your libations into that tin shaker and shake! (crowd.goes.wild. see photo below: that is me, “bubbles”)

LIT actioni wore ridiculous buttons (or “flair”) all over that vest. buttons that read klassy things like, “don’t talk to my breasts they’re deaf” / “you’re not as much fun as an enema” / “i majored in liberal arts. do you want fries with that?” /  “it might be looking like a am doing nothing but on a cellular level i am really quite busy” / and these little bits of crazy were required.  seriously, you had to come to work wearing a minimum of 15 “pieces of flair” or risk getting written up.
o+u flair
there were worse buttons. MUCH worse. dirty worse. but being a bartender, dirty and crass is all part of the job. the more you are, the more they come back to see you. i kept the really bad ones on the inside of my vest for special occasions.
o+u enema
people started to forget i had a real first name,  bubbles was how i was introduced and bubbles was how i was known. still am.  remember i started that gig at 21… i am 40 now.  i guess it stuck.  i still have some of my old buttons. weird right?  one day i will pull them out and tell my kids this story of younger me.  i will tell them i was not always this me in my comfy mom jeans, that i used to wear black doc martens with crazy tights, a skirt, red and white stripes, and that vest. people called me bubbles and came to watch my circus act. that their mom made a kick ass long island iced tea and margarita, and could bust out a row of “chits” with 3 blenders rocking at once.  that i shook hands, made people laugh, made lots of great friends, met interesting mix of people and paid the bills. another crazy karmic universe sort of thing,  if i had never been ‘bubbles’,  they would not exist!  see, not only did i meet my very best girlfriend there (aka hustler), i met my husband there (aka fonze /zucchini boy).  he too wore the red and white stripes and boots (motorcycle, not docs).  he had a ponytail, an earring and a foo man choo!  we flirted BAD behind that bar, eventually threw all sense to the wind, moved in together, got married (pretty fast) and there ya have it ladies and gents, restaurant love.  i made a real family out of that restaurant family.  15 years later we are still those crazy kids from behind that bar. we raised one and made 2 more beautiful kids together.
o+u wow pin
i worked that gig for years and “professionals” would ask me, “so when are you going to get a REAL JOB?”  sometimes i’d shrug, or tell them my story of single motherhood (insert their eyes glazing over), or some days i would tell it like i saw it. this IS my real job dude!  if it wasn’t, who would be pouring your 4th beer tonight while making you laugh if this is not a real job?  did they really think i enjoyed all that banter? that i was there purely for recreation? really?!?!   they were not picking gum from the bottom of the tables, refilling ketchup bottles, changing heavy kegs in a crammed tiny beer closet, squeegeeing the gross back line, or shining the brass taps at 8 am on wednesday mornings (pack-n-play and one baby in tow. she too was one of the family.) after closing the bar at 2am the night before, all while waiting on people, some of who stiffed you.  these same professionals, who deemed themselves to have “real jobs”, would be the ones to cutely ask me to ring them in a few more beers under happy hour prices, when happy hour was over.  they would drive home in their sweet cars to their big homes, while i hopped in my geo and fell through my door at 3am, dirty, tired and reeking of their beer and their cigarettes. i know they felt superior, but they never saw the inside of ‘the orphanage’ or bergman do his infamous “i sat in gum” trick, and they surely never ate craig’s dub grub of easter peeps with the heads already bitten off.  that my friends is living. they could have their fancy stuff, i had my bucket of “wow” pins and my crazy family.

i have been out of the business for the past 3 years, now enjoying life as a SAHM, but i still miss it. i still have restaurant dreams. (nightmares really. i am in the weeds and the micros is down and the beer won’t tap and my food is taking FOR-FREAKING-EVER!!!    calm down kristin, it’s only a dream…  or is it?) many say it is in your blood, i can’t disagree.  as for that crazy band of characters i worked with back in the day,  well mostly we grew up, or we most definitely grew older. we all live in different places, different states, but even after ALL these years we still laugh til we cry about some of those stories about back in the day. they were good times shared by good people. really good people. who could have guessed that fateful day at age 15 would turn into all that?

so what did you do before you became the you now?  did you have some crazy job back in the day? did you do something wacky to make a buck? did you have a funny nickname? something that when you tell people now they look at you, smile and nod, but you know in their head they are thinking, really? you? NAH! no way. 

do tell.

ps. tip your bartenders and servers well please!  bubbles thanks you.


It started out as a love affair really. I was pregnant with Falon when I saw my first “big bootie bottom”. You know the kids that have the bottom that is twice the size of them. And when they would walk it would move from side to side. But then I forgot about them and when she was around 4 months I really fell in love. I walked into the natural baby store here and they were all lined up on the walls in amazing colors. Periwinkle and sage!! Oh and I had to have the royal blue. I was hooked. Image

I found my self on online forums and talking about them and trying to get that pattern that was so hard to get.   
Eventually the cuteness slowly wore off and they just became diapers. And even better underwear replaced them and into a bin in the basement they went.

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With Grey, cloth diapering became work. I have less time to marvel over their cuteness and lugging them up and down the stairs to be washed is a drag. I have a hard enough time washing our clothes let alone diapers.

Recently I discovered I did indeed forget to spray out the diaper he pooped in 3 days ago. But these babies aren’t cheap so I soaked it in the spray bin and stuck the bin in the bathtub. And forgot about it until bath-time, when Grey was covered in his dinner and he desperately needed a bath.
And the smell. The one where you know your kid peed without even checking her diaper. Then comes the diaper pail that you can smell at night making it’s way into your bedroom from the bathroom.
So I am past the justifying they are cute and they are saving the earth. Once I heard if you are having relationship trouble you should remember what it was like when you were first together, the feelings of excitement and happiness. I tried that. And I have a big bootie bottom staring at me all day. Nothin.